2016-09-04 - Locks and Keys 13

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Title: Locks and Keys 13

A direct continuation of 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. To prevent these visions from coming to pass, the magical girls storm the stage to claim the Key; Fuu Hououji emerges with it, but Searrs Symphony Hall does not structurally survive having Mai Tokiha's Child, the dragon Kagutsuchi, summoned inside of it.


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

GM: Hotaru Tomoe


Searrs Symphony Hall

OOC - IC Date:

09-04-2016 - 11-18-2014

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


Seven smaller Keys to the City have emerged over the last several months. Gradually, one organization has collected them all, and for unclear reasons they've elected to celebrate their victory in the most public way possible, with a massive gala -- invitees include world leaders, CEOs, and celebrities of every flavor. It's being held at Searrs Symphony Hall, one of the most posh venues in all of Tokyo

Now the party is in full swing, and magical girls have infiltrated it at every level. Haruka and Michiru are on the ticket to perform. Hikaru's a security guard. Usagi's a princess. Mikoto's a bartender. Some of these plans work more smoothly than others.

The climax of the evening, though, is to be the presentation of the 'honorary' Key to the City to a construction magnate by Police Superintendent Natsuna Sakurada, following a speech by CEO Adam Searrs which includes a memorial to the tragically lost Alyssa and Eric Searrs, his cousin and uncle respectively.

CEO Searrs' speech goes off without a hitch, but when Super Sakurada (as she's fondly known to the public) follows instructions and somehow assembles the seven glowing, singing keys onstage into a single, three foot long version ("Ooh, a magic trick!"), it explodes with white light, which engulfs first the stage, then the entire Symphony Hall, and then much of the surrounding area, in short order. It's a gorgeous pillar of radiance that streams upwards into the sky. It is guaranteed to get the attention of anyone and everyone who isn't already inside it, though normal people will appreciate it as some sort of absolutely spectacular pyrotechnics display.

Those inside the explosion, however, find themselves transported four years into the future, to a sunny spring day in Ueno Park when Super Sakurada's magical girl police academy is having graduation ceremonies. This possible future Tokyo is discovered to be what could happen if Natsuna Sakurada is allowed to retain possession of the Master Key, the magical artifact created by combining the seven smaller keys, which allows the wielder's vision of a perfect Tokyo to provide some direction to the flowing course of reality, going forwards. Sailor Pluto, with her mastery of Time, is able to break herself out of this vision of the future by recognizing it as such, then wakes everyone else up, too.


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 Master Key to the City...

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

The blast of radiance took Homura Akemi's attention off Alyssa Searss. She stands in a balcony in the back -- the blast of light takes time to get to her -- and when that illusion ends...

She is as ready as she can be. Her eyes widen, as she looks at Natsuna Sakurada. She considers for a moment; and then her eyes widen at the men in black suits, faces locked in shadow. She stands, quickly, and swings her shield into the right position; with a click, time stops.

She brings up her pistol, aiming at them, and fires. Six shots go flying out, air left trailing after each bullet. She leaps off the balcony, and mid-jump, puts her shield back into position. Time resumes and the bullets go flying for their marks. Homura touches down on the seats, leaping between arm rests, the backs of chairs, and -- in one memorable case -- Saionji's head.

She is silent even in the wake of his furious protest.

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

It's a small surprise to Fuu that she's in civilian clothing in the wake of that vision of a possible future, but she's already reaching under her shawl, undoing a couple of safety pins near her brooch and withdrawing her glove-jewel. "Ferio-san, if you have your sword somehow, please protect bystanders." she asks her companion. "If you can't, focus on evacuation. Belief becomes power; winds, guide me!"

A green-tinted whirlwind, one which glows softly with mana in the dimness of the concert hall, springs up to envelop Fuu, tugging at the skirts of her gown before it fades out of being and is replaced by the modified school uniform that Clef transformed into her Magic Knight armor ... and the *actual* armor forms as well, breastplate and backplate and pauldrons, boots and bracer. Even before her transformation fades, the Wind Knight is racking her brain to come up with a strategy. There are too many men reaching for the Master Key to pick them off without coordinating a lot of efforts in an extremely short time, and with Sakurada-san in the middle of them, an area attack is out of the question. So -

It's obvious, really. Not quite the conventional form for this spell, but, the Magic Knight of Wind calls out, "WINDS OF PROTECTION!!" and projects her magic towards Natsuna Sakurada herself. This would usually be a shield in one direction; trying to make it *surround* her is going to be a challenge, but if she can at least slow down the men in suits and shadows, not to mention protecting Sakurada against stray attacks, it'll be worth the effort.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji transforms into Wind Knight!

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has fully healed herself.

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

Just because she's in civilian clothing doesn't mean Hikaru can't help out here. In fact, that clothing is going to be a thing of the past very shortly once she's gotten a hold of her glove-jewel, which she kept somewhere in her dress (hey, women have more hiding spots than men do!) and made sure it was ready to slip on when the time was right. "Hold on, Fuu-chan, let me help!" She says as she proceeds to slip the glove-jewel over her hand. "Belief becomes power ... flames guide me!"

A flaming aura surrounds Hikaru as she goes from her civilian self into the Magic Knight of Fire. The flames are merely an illusion if you will, but they obscure Hikaru enough to give her a chance to change into her 'superhero' identity if you will. Once the flames die down, the formal gown and feather boa are no more, replaced with armor and a sword that the Fire Knight wields with great skill from the way she's holding it.

With the Wind Knight directing her attention towards Natsuna, the Fire Knight readies her fire magic against those men in suits and what not. The Wind Knight can shield Natsuna, while the Fire Knight can take on the enemy itself. "Fire Arrow!" She calls out, projecting an arrow-shaped fiery projectile at the suits. "You'll burn for this! I swear it!"

COMBAT: Hikaru Shidou transforms into Fire Knight!

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

In brilliant light, Shizuru Fujino finds herself in her seat once again, still holding a glass of champagne, the memories of what could have happened four years hence quickly fading into something like a dream. She mightthink to reflect on it...

But she finds her attention back up on the stage, once again. The young woman in the gorgeous, incredibly expensive kimono finds herself watching the ceremony... the change. The men in suits will seize that key. Seize that key that, in holding it...

Shizuru doesn't so much as /start/ to move from her seat. As magical girls of Tokyo surge towards the stage, voicing their protests...

The Vice President of the Ohtori Academy High Student Council, member of this vast conspiracy, lifts her glass.

Then she takes a drink.

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

The last thing she felt was cold gunmetal, pressed to her temple, her helmet shed by being roughly dragged off the bike. "Please- you don't have to do this, Haruka. Whatever trouble you're in- I'll- I'll help you... I promise..." She could only look forward at her commanding officer who was facing her down, "-Lieutenant. I'm so sorry." She wasn't sorry for helping Haruka, but she was sorry for letting her Lieutenant- Pluto down.


What was her name again, it's like the image is doubling, blurring off, leaving only the glamorous, Sailor Senshi behind. Calling for them to take back her future. Suddenly she was fifteen year old Usagi Tsukino again. A hand touched to upon her brooch.

"Moon Cosmic Power - MAKE UP!"

A bright heart, ribbons encompass her spinning form, and where once Usagi Tsukino stood there's now only Sailor Moon, Sailor-Suited Pretty Poli- no- Soldier- of Love and Justice! Into the closest box seat she dashes, past the security guards who gape as the Princess who was in the hall moves past them. They're on their radios, signalling instantly.

She hot foots it up to the edge of the box, then hops up onto it spying the gathering of shadowed figures behind her, the men in suits, faces enveloped in shadows, "HOLD IT RIGHT THERE!"

A flip, and she somersaults through the air, her odangos becoming like a rhythmic gymnasts ribbons in the way they flow behind her. She lands on the stage, straightening, "Nobody should decide upon our shining futures for us, no matter how wise they are- or wonderful their vision is- or how cute we all look in police uniforms! I'm the Sailor-Suited Pretty Soldier of Love and Justice: Sailor Moon- and In the Name of the Moon-"

She was about to do her trademark pose, but they were all reaching as one and- "No! STOP!" She leaps straight forward, diving, hand reaching out to knock the key away- but she's too slow. Far too slow.

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

" -DEFEND THE INNOCENT!" Takeo finishes, but he stumbles a step as the memories of that particular world come crashing back into him. The only thing keeping him sane is this is NOt his first rodeo with intrusive memories. As he transforms, Takeo is running, and he leaps, grabbing a lighting bolt out of the air that turns into ONE singular sword, that of Arondight.

He roars in fury as he sails toward the men in black, "STOP!" He calls out, "You don't know what thing can do!" He lands on the stage and begins to walk forward, "Please! Don't take the key!!!" Arondight crackles wiht electricity as he speaks, not exactly making him look totally friendly ...

COMBAT: Takeo Akamizu transforms into Lancelot!

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

Once the brilliant light fades, Natsuki staggered slightly. Did that all really happened? Was it a dream or they all fall under some weird hypnosis? It felt so real? Her hand turned into fists. What ever power this was, it couldn't fall into the wrong hands.

She turned to find Mai only to look up stage and see the key being brought into another pair of hands.

"Oh, no, not this time!" she cried out and race to the front of the stage. "I don't want to know what twisted future these guys bring!" She summons her guns and runs at top speed to get the key.

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

The grizzled, dark future of Mikoto Minagi, Rogue Detective fades in the distance...

In the present, Mikoto staggers, grasps onto Mai's arm. "Mai," she whispers, harshly, because she can't remember, but not remembering is so familiar to her. She is so used to the memories flowing away, the details impossible to grasp, a face shadowed and indistinct -

She is so used to them, and the feeling linger where all else fades. The desperation, the despair, the destructive force. It grips her heart, terrifies her, and she grasps Mai as if to ward the feelings away.

And then she sees the men, and the feelings flow away as well, replaced by a singular knowledge that there are enemies in front of her. They must be enemies - they're being attacked as enemies - and Mikoto, though she doesn't know it, is devastatingly primed to recognise enemies at this moment. Without time even to slip into the other room, she holds out her hand, and barks for her sword - "Miroku!" The case behind the bar mysteriously grows lighter as, in an instant, there's a sword in her hand where there was no sword before. She charges towards the stage, cleaving a fallen chair in twain as her sword trails behind her. Leaps, swings it towards them in a great overhead cleaving arc -

COMBAT: Natsuki Kuga has fully healed herself.

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has fully healed herself.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi transforms into HiME Mikoto!
COMBAT: Natsuki Kuga transforms into HiME Natsuki!
COMBAT: Usagi Tsukino transforms into Sailor Moon!
COMBAT: Homura Akemi transforms into Puella Magi Homura!
COMBAT: Homura Akemi has fully healed herself.

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

Cool, irregular, and somehow solid throughout, the Garnet Rod is a reassuring presence between Sailor-Lieutena-- Sailor Pluto's fingers as the timestreams cross and separate again. Even so, she staggers a step before regaining herself, all in all a relatively mild reaction to the wrenching sensation that accompanies that travel.

Setsuna Meioh in her gown the colors of the sunset is nowhere to be seen.

She reorients herself quickly and looks for the Princess, the recent past/future already shredding in her mind like the unraveling remains of a dream, leaving hollow echoes of shock and sorrow that attach to nothing more solid -- feelings unmoored from memory. She catches a glimpse of the pink dress of a fictional dignitary before Usagi explodes into ribbons and light, leaving the afterimage of a heart burned into Pluto's vision.

The reassembled Key...!

The tall sailor senshi shakes her head again and the last coherent images from that hazy alternate future scatter completely, leaving her mind clear, for now.

As Sailor Moon dashes away and begins her speech, Sailor Pluto leaps down onto the first floor to alight improbably atop the edges of some empty seats, Garnet Rod held level before her -- motionless for a moment. Then she begins spinning it, end over end, until the whirring of its motion whips her long evergreen hair up into a comet's tail behind her.

She charges the stage, the men, and their greedy, grasping hands, shouting "Pendulum Blitz!" as she goes, joining the chaotic mad dash of magical girls at the key.

COMBAT: Setsuna Meioh transforms into Sailor Pluto!

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

Officer Tokiha falls in the line of duty, struck down by her ex-partner herself. As her vision fades, shouts or rage echoing in her ears, she wonders...

And then she doesn't. Because that future is gone, and that woman will never exist.

Mai Tokiha, temporary waitress at this grand gala, opens her eyes with a gasp. One hand - still wrapped in a scorched napkin - comes to her chest, clutches at that tailored black vest. A future that never was is less than a faded memory - she could probably remember details of the Moon Kingdom better than that timeline, even this recently. No visions of what was - but somehow, the lingering emotion pierced with a colder bite than any obsidian lance. Betrayal and regret and...

A tiny spark of hatred, burning within, screams that there's an enemy right next to her.

A larger fire, burning with more affection, urges her to give Mikoto and Natsuki a hug and never let either of them go.

Mikoto clings to her for a moment, and Mai shakes off that haze of...she doesn't even know. But - then she's gone. Kuga's gone. And Mai's mind races to catch up to the situation, finally recognizing the chiaroscuro, the brilliant white casting black shadows, and remembering that there is a key in peril. To let that thing fall into nefarious hands - familiar-looking hands at that...

A waitress bears gold and jade, rings manifesting in whirling flares of flame. Mai Tokiha, HiME of fire, stands defiant - taking in sparking lightning, howling wind, radiant moonlight before stepping forward herself.

"For the sake of..." She trails off, uncertain for a moment - her memories are hazy and she doesn't know what that key does, but does it matter? "...you're just picking up where -she- left off, aren't you? Well, that's not going to happen! KAGU-"

COMBAT: Mai Tokiha transforms into Mai-HiME!

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

The "pyrotechnics" display was bright and loud enough, that to most of the normal patrons, another series of booms along the outside wall went unnoticed! Surely just another part of the show. Unnoticed that is, until a section of the wall suddenly explodes, sending pieces flying out and crumbling down!

"It's here, the source of the magical disturbance." a voice emanates from the wreckage, but the dust doesn't even have time to settle before the hands of the mysterious men begin to reach for the key. In response Garnet emerges from the fracture in somewhat dusty glory, and rushes towards the stage towards the key, a red armored gauntlet outstretched. She doesn't know what this thing is or what it's for, but she's run across these Men in black before, and the implications can be wondered at afterwards.

COMBAT: Garnet transforms into Garnet's Got Gauntlets!

COMBAT: Garnet has fully healed herself.
COMBAT: Shizuru Fujino has fully healed herself.

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

It's too late for Pluto to reach out. The ageless Guardian's games run too deep. She can't be trusted anymore. Maybe they could get past this, sure. But maybe isn't good enough with Apocalypse knock-knock-knocking. Maybe Queen Serenity knew best from the start. The only person Haruka needs is Michiru. His finger against the trigger, Haruka can still feel the ivory cool on his fingertips, still hear the song that they played together.

Slowly, he closes his hand through the revolver, letting it ripple into smoke between his fingers. Sadly, he drops his arm through Usagi's body, dispersing it into blue and blond mist. Finally, he opens his eyes.

Where's Michiru?

Backstage, Haruka Tenoh has an easy opening to henshin without being seen, and he takes it. When he steps out onto the stage again, she is Sailor Uranus, boots sturdy, fists ready, shoulders heavy with anger. "Sailor Neptune!" she shouts. It's easy to spot Pluto. "Sailor Pluto!" She nods sharply to her, immediately fitting into their old teamwork again, the dream a distant presence. "We'll end this quickly!"

COMBAT: Haruka Tenoh transforms into Sailor Uranus!

COMBAT: Sailor Uranus has fully healed herself.

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

There just isn't any time. No, there's no time at all. In less time than it takes for anyone to even react to their return from the dreamworld, hands grasp the Master Key, claiming it from Natsuna, and they're strong hands, sure hands. Guiding hands, large and firm and steady on the wheel. Hands that know exactly what they're doing, unlike Super Sakurada who had no idea what was going on, and even now, essentially invisible behind this wall of men in suits, thinks she's just at an awards show with an excessively large special effects budget.

Now clearer, sterner heads will prevail.

And it's that palpable sense of deliberate intention that causes the throbbing bassline that the Master Key has been pounding out, below the range of aural perception, to rise in a whine of potential that sounds for all the world like a massive jet engine spinning up, until the pitch is too high to hear, instead. A headsplitting pain rocks anyone with magical potential in all of Tokyo, but it's agony that is swiftly soothed by the second explosion of magical white light.

It engulfs the group even as Fuu's whirlwind barely begins to lift their hair towards the ceiling, blow their nice suits all askew -- and as Hikaru's Fire Arrow still hangs in midair, alongside Sailor Uranus' shouted words.

It pours across Sailor Moon's fingertips as she plunges towards the stage, hands outstretched; Natsuki's pistols; Mai's rings; Garnet's gauntlets; Miroku's edge; and not without irony, Sailor Pluto's massive key.

The light even flows directly forward through Homura's grayscale perceptions, advancing implacably as a tsunami's wall.

Last of all, it reaches the balcony seats, and Shizuru.

This time, the column doesn't just engulf Searrs Symphony Hall and the surrounding Ueno Park. This time, it spreads to cover the entire city.

At the mercy of this far more powerful invocation, even those who just experienced and escaped this effect, moments ago, find themselves with no idea that they are once again within a false future.

<SoundTracker> BGM Switch: Buffalo Gals https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JebKuQTlE5I

Once upon a time, there was a golden age.

It didn't happen overnight. Nothing of true importance does, in this world or any other. No, it happened gradually, one day at a time. One choice at a time.

Like the choice to discontinue the Sister Schools program, deemed a vanity project, too expensive to maintain, and failed in its efforts to unite the youth of Tokyo across social and structural lines. Private schools are for the wealthy, public schools for the poor, charter schools for the talented -- if it's not broken, why fix it?

Even this choice came from smaller choices, like who to elect to the manifold school boards of Tokyo, to the middling governing agencies -- to the National Diet. Choices within choices... no one gets up one morning and decides who they are and what they stand for, much less that they're going to change their ideals. No, let's take a typical Tokyo parent -- who sees the way their children are staying out later at later at night, sneaking in and out through moonlit bedroom windows. They see the way crime seems to be on the rise, an endless string of mysterious explosions and unstoppable robberies. If traces of magical incidents are often rationalized away as acts of violence... who wouldn't be afraid for their children? Who wouldn't want leadership that promises to make a real difference... to build a better world?

And a better world has come at last, built one choice at a time.

Four years later, Tokyo is the capital of the world economy -- the titan of industry, the beacon of innovation, the cornucopia of culture. It's the place where it happens. People flock here from around the world to take in the finest of everything.

You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, of course. There has been massive reorganization at all levels; a general centralization of the economy under the umbrellas of larger corporations, which then in turn have merged with each other. There are really only two left, to proudly honor the spirit of competition as an engine of human ingenuity -- the Easter Corporation and the Searrs Foundation. Between the two of them, they make everything, sell everything, guarantee every mortgage, offer every lease, dictate the contents of every airwave. Mom-and-pop businesses, some of them hundreds of years old, have had to adapt or die. Many proudly chose the latter, but others live on. It's not like, for example, ancient techniques surrounding the creation of fine kimono have been lost, here. They've just been... refined. Inefficiencies removed, mass production made possible. That sort of thing.

College enrollment in technical programs is way up, and study of the liberal arts is relatively down, but not without tender nurturing by a society that values tradition. Indeed, older traditions are generally becoming more and more popular -- there hasn't quite been a resurgence of enthusiasm about the /Emperor/, per se, but it has become very romantic to get married in kimono.

And young marriages are also on the rise. With an army of youth becoming salarymen, they need someone who will take care of things at home. Indeed, the role of housewife has never been considered more honorable; there was briefly a scare about declining birth rates, but with young women increasingly foregoing a career in favor of raising the next generation, that crisis seems to be averted. Japan's golden age is well set on the path to become a golden millennium.

But what of crime? What of danger? What of the darkness that lurks in the hearts of men?

Incredibly... two years ago, the eternal war seems to have been /won/. After what seemed to be an endless string of final battles and ultimate clashes, the magical girls found themselves at the end of the Long Dark Night, having successfully ushered in a Brand New Day. This didn't come without losses, however -- a loss of years of youth, misspent in battle instead of in savoring the joys of a normal existence, and some loss of life, as well.

In the aftermath, the mascots, who were not above the influences of the era, out of concern for the well-being of their charges, simply declared victory. Overflowing with gratitude for their champions, they encouraged the girls to retire, to enjoy the live they'd always dreamed of having. To end the fight at alast. Many of the fairies simply packed up their lent artifacts and went home to their now-revived magical worlds. The Tuner Organization proudly disbanded. The Magic Association continued on, but solely in their role as curators of magical knowledge, educators of later generations.

And those girls who retained their magic have gradually discovered that the world needs them less and less... and increasingly, doesn't /want/ them at all. Narrative abhors a vacuum, and thus other heroes have arisen within this golden age -- bold and dashing young men of wit and vigor, courageously eager to put themselves on the front lines. White cloaks and sparkling longswords are especially popular -- in this era of sophistication and elegance, the princely ideal has ascended to new heights. That's not to say that the most influential (and rumored to be corporate-sponsored) heroic team of the age, the noble souls comprising the Dignified Institute Of Supernals, is entirely a boys' club. Certainly, there's room for a token princess, here and there.

But at all levels of society, magical and otherwise, this fairy tale Tokyo holds only two fates for its girls, two strings of destiny woven into its glorious, golden skein: If you're not a princess... then you must be a witch.

Not everyone is getting married and having children, of course, though there's pressure on all sides to do so. Still, other options do exist; girls work in shops, there's a need for secretaries, some do go to college or into the big office firms. Ambition is a universally praised trait in this highly modern society. But the potential cost of that ambition, its inherent selfishness, hangs heavily over the heads of those who have chosen to try to climb that tower of glass to the top.

Tonight, it's Christmas, 2018; Tokyo Tower, which has been completely filigreed in gold leaf, is the site of a major celebration. Besides about fifty weddings taking place simultaneously (joint weddings held on major holidays in public locations have become a popular tradition), the good people of Tokyo are here to celebrate the joy of the shared human experience, and the power of love. Pride in the golden rule is on display everywhere. It's snowing, but with the Easter Corporation's patented and /very/ safe GoldenSun heat lamp technology, this outdoor party is comfortably warm. The snow is not a threat to anyone's delight, just icing on the cake of a perfect evening.

OOC: Who are you, four years later, in Golden Age Tokyo, if a powerful, reality-warping magical force made retirement seem like an extremely attractive and noble option, and where the remaining magical girls are firmly entangled in some seriously rigid social structures -- as are the girls who've chosen to accept their normal lives? (There is no third option; no, girls can't be princes.) By all means, give us a vignette of your character's activities in this glorious golden utopia, and please keep your pose perspectives thoroughly AU, avoid including your 'normal' character's perspective for now! (We'll get there.) You're definitely encouraged to collaborate OOCly to place yourself in each other's AU scenarios! You can also paint pictures of any of your other alts who aren't otherwise present tonight, if that's something you'd like to explore. We'll be here for a few pose rounds, though not all night. By all means ask questions if you're not sure what to do!

COMBAT: Sailor Moon transforms into Princess Serenity!

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

This was not the life Natsuki would ever picture for herself 4 years ago. Her grandfather's death had been a huge blow to her, and she still wasn't certain it was 'old age' as many of the doctors from the Sears Medical Clinic claimed. He had been strong and healthy, but knowing these facts now didn't change the past.

It didn't change how her finical ties were now cut and she had to scrap for money when she could. It didn't help that her distant relatives had been insisting they take up the 'offer' she'd be given of basically becoming a mistress to a well known married man who promised to secure her family's position if she just 'let him take care of her like any prince would.'

Natsuki had said no, but her opinion wasn't good enough. Natsuki had to be constantly on the move. Stayed in one place too long and her family would track her down to bring her back. She'd been lucky in avoiding them so far, but always being on the run was draining her. A part of her wondered if she should just give in, but her pride was still strong.

In the shadow of an old shut down bakery, Natsuki went over her map. She'd imagine the bakery was a happy place once before the family and been forced to sell to Easter. She had heard the bakers were now working in the Easter cake factory now.

She sighs and as she pulls up the collar of her coat and adjusts her sunglasses. "Better head to the celebrations at Tokyo Tower. Best place to hide for the moment until I figure out where to sleep tonight." She walks away, keeping her eyes out for any suspicious activity.

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

The last four years have been hard. Kasagami Araki, ever uncompromising, has refused to bend as the world's need for magical girls was swiftly replaced by a changing culture and the rising crop of princes. Ones that, perhaps, in some way she helped give rise to in years long past that seem like a dream. Final clashes, both alongside magical girls and against them, have come and gone. Really, Kassie should retire to kendo, to a normal life. The world was, mostly, at peace.

But ambition is a clawing thing, and never did Kasagami's dream fade, even if others seemed to accomplish her purpose. No, it was the rise of Princes that did it for her. A world shouldn't be ruled by a Prince, but by a King. A patriarchy firmly entrenched, herself demonized by her inability to give up her sword, her magic, her desires. For a year prior to tonight, Kasagami had seemingly dissappeared. Most assumed she'd died in some battle, or simply took her own life after all the misery she'd endured.

The truth was more sinister. She went underground. And she began to build. To network, to connect with all those lost magical girls who felt thrown away by society after they'd sacrificed themselves. Abused, and replaced and forgotten. She built underground safehouses all throughout Tokyo. Used her connections to buy up small businesses that could help them with all the resources they needed. And then she got to work, quietly.

Surrounding herself with magical girls far more sneaky than her, they struck even as she used her charisma and drive to keep them together. The Supernals would find themselves being attacked when they least expected it. Propaganda appeared on the web against those in power. Casting doubts, little sewing bits of chaos. A rebellion bubbles, and tonight she intends to let her plans fly free. Up at the top of Tokyo Tower, there's a microphone in the shadows of the place that's been hooked up into speakers and tv's and other audio visual equipment throughout the city.

The group, known only as The Boiling Cauldron, is ready to reveal themselves to the world. To prove that all of her work and suffering by the woman now known only as the 'Magic Rose' was worth it. For now, she waits as her minions and followers, as well as the many ex-magical girls gather far below.

<Pose Tracker> Princess Serenity [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TB2wvYDjaL4


The adulation of the masses was something that Princess Serenity had become so accustomed to over these past four years. Ever since her title had been officially recognized. Princess Serenity, second of her name, heir to the fallen Moon Kingdom. Even without a Kingdom however, she was still a celebrity, an ideal to the girls of Tokyo. A princess even among princesses.

Her accomplishments as Sailor Moon weren't talked about, it hadn't even warranted a full chapter in her approved biography, glossed over as the indiscretions of a wilder time. The only thing that is talked about from those days is her final act, her sacrifice- her last use of the Silver Crystal to create one final miracle, all in support of her Prince.

Prince Endymion was the truesteel, the ideal, the Golden Prince that was building the shining future here in Tokyo. She hadn't seen him in months now, he was always busy with some project. Technically he'd taken a leave of absence from the Dignified Institute, but that didn't mean he had time for her.

Neither did Luna, her duty done, she had taken the cold and silent Ginzuishou to be the centerpiece of the newly founded Museum that was created in Memorial of the Silver Millenium. While the ideals of this ancient matriarchal kingdom were generally considered quaint, it still had a place within the fairy tale narrative of this modern age- the old giving way to the new. The union of Prince Endymion and Princess Serenity would be symbolic in the same way, taking place here on Earth.

She hadn't even seen her family in years. As soon as her position as the reincarnated Princess had been recognized, the name Usagi Tsukino was stripped from her, her connections to her mother, father, and brother swept under the rug. The last she'd heard, they'd moved elsewhere, to another country perhaps, finally having had enough of the negative attention they'd received.

"-you've stopped waving."

She'd been staring absently at the engagement ring on her finger, gold and platinum- with so many diamonds set in the shape of a crescent moon. Automatically she started up again, held her delicately manicured hand properly just as she had at a hundred different functions over the past few months alone, causing renewed fervor among the crowd of partygoers from the golden tier she stood on upon Tokyo Tower, the view of her magnified by cameras and screens as snow gently fell around her. It wasn't even cold, due to the GoldenSun that was nearby, her platform was clear, the snowflakes melting and evaporating before they'd strike.

"Smile. It's a happy day. Remember. Dignified, kind, and beautiful."

Smiling had once been so easy for her. Now it felt like the muscles at the corners of her mouth are worn and tired from it, stretched to the point where they're just tense all the time. She does it anyhow. She does it until she's bade to come down. It wasn't her time to give a speech, just to make an appearance.

It's over soon enough. The roar of the crowd is more distant in the elevator ride down, even the inside is gold. "I want to see him." She whispers with head bowed. "Highness- you'll see him soon enough, at the ceremony- later." Almost immediately she spoke up again, chin lift up "I want to see him right now." She'd said it at a conversational tone but there was a crack in her voice that caused even the patient man sporting golden curls that rode with her to smile as if he were dealing with a child.

"Highness- it's bad luck to see him before the ceremony, and aren't you being a little emotional right now? I understand of course, absence makes the heart grow fond. But you should understand better than anyone that he's been busy building a Golden Age for you- and for your future issue."

Head bowed, Princess Serenity certainly looked so much the part of a sulky child, chided into submission by Jadeite, the Knight of Patience and Harmony. She was working through her guilt over a sudden intrusive thought, regret over her sacrifice- the romantic act every praised her for. Sacrificing her connection to the Ginzuishou so that her Prince might have his retainers back, free from the sway of darkness. And he'd been so grateful for the act too. Grateful enough to leave one of these trusted knights, these heavenly kings among men, as her Guardian.

She felt like a bird in a gilded cage, and she felt guilty for such thoughts. The ding of the elevator indicated the ride down was over. "We're here. Try to keep yourself composed for the party. You don't want him to be cross with you, when you see him again, do you? Her perfect skin blanched at the thought of that. A muffled whisper of "No." left her lips a moment later. "Good. And remember, smile. Always smile. Everyone expects it." He strode out first, wavy golden locks and white suit and white cape, the sun glittering off the hilt of his sword. Even from afar she could hear the crowd screaming at the mere glimpse of the handsome Knight.

She came next, in her gown that seemed to be spun from purest silver, a bow in the back that looked like the gauzy wings of a butterfly, a- long train that flowed behind her and never seemed to touch the ground. She was smiling again, but there was no meaning in it. It was time to join the party- to be the Princess she was born to be.

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

The final battle against Morgana left Takeo Akamizu, aka Lancelot scarred. Both literally and figuratively. A ragged scar along the left side that goes over, but thankfully not through the eye, and down the cheeck all the way to the chin. The Mental scar however is that of loss, as Takeo is the only Knight of the Round Table left alive, and in the final battle the Black Knight had killed his parents and his sister. Two sets of memories and in all of them only he remains. He began to shut in on himself, and in so doing pushed his one remaining loved one away.

However, he had helped the corporations in the past, and they approach him, offering him a chance at life, and to continue to do good. To continue to be a hero. To live once more.

The Public Relations teams have him on every cover, his missions, once complete, are made fully public and specials are done up. He stars in action movies, is every girl's heart throb, especially among the young, and he is one of the up and coming stars in the DIOS.

Things look great for the Lightning Prince (As the magazines call him,), but that was on the surface. He stood, in a tailored suit, a tumbler of Whiskey in his hand looking out over the crowd gathered for Christmas weddings. He swirled the drink, the ice clinking as he does so. Briefly, he wonders if he and a certain girl would have been down there tonight, or another Christmas in the past. He snorts and raises the glass, "Here's to THAT time line. I hope you found happiness Red." Then he sips the drink.

"Excuse me sir?" A young woman's voice says from behind him.

He looks over his shoulder. "Oh. Just remembering the past Mina." He sets the drink down and stands at ease. "Is my car ready?"

Mina nods, and looks to her Tablet. "Of course sir. Are you going to the party at the Tower?"

Takeo nods looks over his shoulder. "Yeah. Might as well make a public appearance."

He didn't wait to see if Mina had followed his orders. She always did and was efficient about it. As he walked past the door, he grabbed his sword belt, with the twin blades of Arondight hanging there, and strapped them on as he moved. The corporations had promised him a life, and from the outside it looked great. Money. Fame. Wealth. He was a hero.

He was just also dead inside.

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

"And a very Merry Christmas to all our listeners tonight! Our next performance, streamed live from New York, is a performance by Tokyo's own Ouji Masamune. The renowned piano virtuoso will be performing Felix Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream arrangement, with Hibiki Houjou accompanying." The sound system, gleaming with the glorious digital display of the latest Easter technology, proceeds to auto-tune itself to optimally output the classical piano piece. It's wonderful music, but one can't really sing to it...

The lady of the house, however, doesn't have it in her to care. That was the hobby of youth, and that's well past her - she's twenty years old, and has more important things to worry about. The refrigerator is stocked with more food than will be eaten; two might dine on those fine steaks tonight, but likely not the three that she bought for. She twists her gold-and-jade ring, a pristine band crafted in the memory of what she once bore, and contemplates what lies on the table before her. Important decisions to be made, for the sake of the future.

There are paint swatches. She'd hoped to save the household a little money - scarcely needed, for her husband certainly has no want in that department - by repainting the room when the time comes. A brief discussion, five days ago, with cream and green and yellow all taken off the table...it'll really just be a choice of a pastel blue, or a pastel pink, whenever that news comes.

The other decision is a pointed bit of irony. One thing she clings to from her youth, now turned to another purpose. Takumi's old pillbox sits on the table - gifted to her in celebration of that successful surgery, before he left to start school in America. There are still postcards, of course - at last word he was doing well, but had no plans to come home for the holidays. Now, that pillbox is for her use - a small utility that makes all the difference.

Until she stops using it. She's been told it's her choice, but...

Mai closes her eyes, takes a deep breath. Mikoto's brother deserves better. He's a prince for the whole world, the legendary Maruqis de Siod - it's her choice, sure, but what kind of woman would refuse such a small thing?...she would talk to him now, but he's busy tonight. He's busy most nights. And so she's left to keep the house, and make her decisions.

Taking a deep breath, she opens her eyes as she stands. The piano music is coming to an end, and the news turning to talk of the events at Tokyo Tower. It might be nice - there's no romance in the cards for her tonight, but maybe she can live vicariously through someone else's happiness. Princess Serenity is supposed to be there, right?...

They can make a family outing of it. Her, and her sister-in-law if she's free. "Mikoto? Let's head out for a bit, tonight..."

The decision she's been considering, she leaves behind for now.

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

Homura's purple eyes widen, as the white light comes at her. It obliterates the greyscale world around her; it rushes towards her. Her eyes widen -- and it's too late for her to move out of the way. It's impossible, really. Something in her hindbrain, some basic self-preservation instinct that acts as the bane of every Puella Magi, makes her try.

She jumps off a seat.

The white rushes across her field of vision. It engulfs her. There is brilliance... then, darkness.

In Tokyo's Golden Age, there is a small memorial in the downtown, near Tokyo Tower. It's a small granite wall; on it, there is a little inscription:

Homura Akemi Memorial Wall

Gone But Not Forgotten

A pair of eyes stare at the wall, fingers lingering on the word 'gone.' But they don't last long. They aren't eyes or fingers that ever knew Homura Akemi.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPhWR4d3FJQ

The eyes are amber. Lera Camry's fingers on her left hand drift away and look at the older face, half-reflected in smooth granite. She never knew Homura Akemi, except to learn -- shortly before the last battle -- that she was one of them. These days, she doesn't talk to many people from the old days. It isn't comfortable for them -- or for her.

Some people didn't adjust to the new world so well. Some people /couldn't/. She never had a chance to keep to the old ways, even in rebellion, though. There isn't a bracelet around her left wrist. The amulet hanging from her neck is an old, tarnished bronze-cased pen -- not her emerald pendant -- and the little red gem on it doesn't shine.

Soaring Sky hasn't shined since he encountered Vita, that one time. He never talked to her again. Lera stopped trying a couple years ago.

Life hadn't been easy. She didn't fit into this new world. She wasn't a girl who felt at home in dresses; she isn't a woman who feels at home in a dress, or at work in a shop, or anything else. She got used to working odd jobs -- being a janitor at Infinity Institute felt appropriately ironic, when she doesn't drown her sense of irony with a little help from a six pack of Kirin.

But, on Christmas, she should try to come out. So, she does, and checks herself over in her makeshift mirror. Her orange hair is shorter, pulled back into a ponytail; it's wild, still, but there is an effort to constrain it. The black T-shirt under it isn't torn or stained. The blue jeans... well, they only have a couple of holes on the right knee.

The leather jacket would look cool -- it /did/, four years ago -- but it's scratched and dusty now. Lera adjusts the collar, smoothing it out, before she turns. She looks -- and she is used to staring, when she looks for people. She meets Mina Koruske's eyes. She doubts the girl, now in middle school, remembers her from Okinawa.

But it's not at Lera that Mina looks. Not really. It's at her right sleeve, which is tied off, and hangs empty past the elbow.

Lera doesn't smile at Mina. She just starts walking towards the square, humming a song under her breath.

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

Once upon a time, Mikoto Minagi was a warrior. She fought many battles, up until the last. And for her diligence, her eternal ferocity, she was rewarded with what she always wanted...

She found her lord brother.

He took Mai as his bride, accepted her into the family, and it was the best day of Mikoto's life. She loved her lord brother more, of course, but she still cared about Mai, still wanted to be close to her. Now, she comes home to her every day!

Of course, it can never match the devotion she has for her lord brother.

It is this devotion which leads her to attend to the Obsidian Squadron every day, as their Obsidian Sister. They are an elite squadron of her lord brother's finest men - and her. They make it constantly known that she's only there because of her lord brother, that she's not really strong enough to fight with them. They make fun of her lack of manners in battle, point out just how impossible the princely ideal is for someone like her. In public, of course, they are the finest of gentlemen, graciously helping their little sister to catch up... even as they speak about her behind her back in private. They act like she can't hear them, like she's too stupid to understand, but she knows.

It's what her lord brother wants, so she strives to be their friend, to smile and fight like a lady and be what they want her to be, even though she can't do it.

Her outfit is frilly and impractical and tight around the chest to keep her posture straight. Her lord brother designed it himself. Mikoto doesn't complain. He loves her enough to lavish attention on her presentation, it would be ungrateful to complain. She loves her lord brother so much.

Most days, she would be attending to them, doing the tasks which princes couldn't lower themselves to, being the cute contrast to their competence. But today - today is different. It's a holiday! And on this, the most romantic of holidays, a girl must be free to be a girl. Her lord brother will not be attending the festivities, and Mikoto feels terribly for Mai about it; she must miss him terribly, even though he's a very important prince, and can't always be there for them.

At least Mikoto has Mai at times like this, because the Obsidian Squadron certainly won't deign to be seen with her unless it's a specific publicity function.

She's not dressed in her magical girl outfit, now, but in a cute skirt and blouse combo which hides the corset correcting her underneath. Black, and purple, and just a hint of gold. There are a lot of ruffles. It's an appropriate outfit to go outside in, even though the two of them are just at home right now - so when Mai suggests going out, Mikoto doesn't need to change, to worry about how she's making her lord brother look with her terrible manners. She's trying so hard to be good for him.

"Yeah! Mai, let's go together!" Mikoto chirps, because her speech is still inelegant, she is still a wild thing. She feels a stab of shame, briefly, but she still smiles afterwards.

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

"No, okaasan, I don't need to be introduced to another potential husband ..."

It's a discussion which Fuu feels like she's having with her family - one member or another - at least twice per week now, starting before she'd even finished high school (although it was only once a week back then, at most). Certainly, the young men whom they're picking out are charming enough, good-looking and courteous, and there are hardly any whose future prospects Fuu would doubt; most of her prospective suitors *are* enrolled at Infinity Institute, much as she's managed to maintain her academic standing there through the years. And no few of those potential boyfriends/fiances have first seen her in class, or seen her name high in the grade rankings, and sought out her family because of her own academic diligence.

Surely a girl disciplined enough to ace so many classes would be terrific at keeping house, if she didn't have classes to occupy her ...

Which is always, ALWAYS, where the conversation ends for Fuu Hououji. Middle school and high school lie behind her now, and she's beginning her hard-won freshman year at Infinity's university level; her goal, computer science and mathematics, with a possible minor in thaumaturgical calculations, if she can demonstrate the necessary skill to earn the Association's patronage in that last field. She won't hitch her star to that of any other man, nor depend on them for support; she has her own aspirations, her own goals ... and she has her own prince, even though the chasm between worlds separates them.

For now.

Even though the Magic Knights completed their quest and Cephiro no longer needs them, even though Mokona vanished around the time that the Golden Age began, Fuu has never forgotten the roguish swordsman from the Forest of Silence, the Magic Knights' steadfast ally. Even as she makes her way towards Tokyo Tower, Fuu fishes a little locket out of the collar of her blouse, thumbnail releasing a hidden catch, and she gazes for a moment on the tiny photograph ensconced inside.

"How long can you keep waiting, for me to find my way back to you ... ?"

Her footsteps slow as she passes the Homura Akemi Memorial Wall, her green eyes closing for a moment behind her glasses - an affectation which she retains, despite the ease with which her vision could be made perfect once more. Then she carefully pinches the locket closed, slips it back under her blouse, and resumes walking, trying not to think about how much she misses Ferio, how desperately she wants to see him again. If the miracle she seeks were to happen tonight, if the portal were to open at Tokyo Tower and link their worlds once more, it would be the happiest Christmas possible for her ... but she harbors deep, dark doubts that any god or blessed spirit will grant her wish.

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

"I'm sorry," Hikaru says into her cell phone, "But I can't cover the Kendo class tonight. I have... other plans." Hikaru sighs as she hangs up her cell phone. It had been a couple years since Hikaru had become a teacher at her local Kendo school and was becoming so proficient that some were calling on her if they needed time off. Usually she was willing to go in, but today it was different. It's not about going Christmas shopping, or being with friends, or even going for drinks. No, it's something far more important.

Hikaru fishes out her pendant and looks at the picture inside it. She sighs a little as the memories come back to her. From way back when, back when Ferio was still around and she and her friends were Magic Knights for Cephiro. It's all so different now, it's almost like the best part of her life has ended and now it's just so mundane. "If only..." Hikaru thinks to herself, trying to put the mental image out of her mind. "If only I could..." She trails off, not being able to find the words. Sure, miracles do happen sometimes, but she just can't believe it will happen.

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Uranus [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.


Hi, Mr. Tenoh? This is Hank Poole again. The forty-eight hour grace period expired at noon today. Now, I know and you know you're not a doper, but I'm gonna need those medical records pronto, okay? I sent the committee for an email asking for an extension. I know you're really busy, but this would be a lot easier if you'd just do the medical exam, my man! If you're gonna do the opt-out though, you re-heally need to explain this discrepancy...

Haruka thumbs her phone. Beeep.

Hey, Mr. Tenoh. Hank Poole. So I got this Doctor... Doctor Tomoe's records, he doesn't actually seem to be a medical doctor. I'm sure I've got the wrong Tomoe, these kanji ahaha am I right?! But now I'm gonna need that too, sorry buddy, maybe just get your secretary to shoot that right on ov--

Click. Beeeep.

Hank Poole here. Listen, Haruka, man, you gotta give me something for these people. It's been a week. This is the Olympics, my man, and you got the gold, and the Track and Field Commission is calling bullshit. This isn't going away, so just pick up the phone and--

Click. Beeep.

No New Messages.

Haruka lets the phone down, holding it loosely at her side. She has a scarf around her neck, wound close against the cold as she waits outside the warm lights, staring out over the city. She does better with the cold than she used to. The breast bindings help.

Impulsively, Haruka lifts the phone again, using the screen-friendly tip of her gloved thumb to type out a text.

To: Micchi





Haruka stares at the text for a few seconds. It's a bad time to get photographed with wet eyes in public. Holding down the backspace button, she empties the text field, returning the phone to her pocket.

Hands in her jacket pockets, Haruka walks by a convenience store. She passes his own face, divided into thirds on three of its window panels. The Japanese flag flies proudly behind him. He's handsome, heroic. His posters are always bigger than Michiru's, but around Olympics-time there's no comparison at all. She doesn't look at him.

On her way into the wedding fete, Haruka distractedly walks right at a salarywoman. She steps aside, Haruka doesn't. Haruka is used to that. She doesn't notice. Neither does the salarywoman. They both keep walking. Haruka is twirling her phone in her pocket. Her jaw is sunken in her scarf, hidden.

The phone vibrates. Haruka immediately squeezes the volume button, and it goes still. She walks slower, but her heart beats faster. When he reaches the edge of a velvet-roped walkway, he sees her.

She's smiling, glittering like a chandelier. A long train follows her. She's still so fragile-looking. God. It's been years.

Haruka tugs down the edge of her scarf, bares her jawline. She watches. That girl is getting married today. There's no need to wonder why. Only...

Why today?

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

This was exactly the kind of life Shizuru Fujino would have pictured for herself. Four years ago her parents finally chose the man she would marry.

Today, the battles are long since over that would be decided for her by the force of her arms. But she is even more notable a figure than before, a well-known woman in Tokyo, making regular appearances on television shows and the like.

Her wedding does not take place today, nor is it even her anniversary. She was married two years ago, and today, of course, her husband is away on business, unable to attend the ceremony, though with regrets.

It's not a problem, many people say how much he's flourished since he's had a sensible woman to take care of his house, and Shizuru herself has used her wealth and notability well. She's sponsored events to teach the girls of Tokyo everything they might not yet know about the fine traditions of the city, from the wearing of kimonos to tea ceremony to appropriate ways to comport oneself in public. She organized charity events for those poor unfortunates still catching up to the new world. But perhaps more important, and more notably, was the way she oversaw a web of contacts amidst the business world, assisting in subtle ways, through the wives of businessmen, the centralization of the economy. The little battles kept up much of her time, in fact, as even now she knows who to talk to, when, and how.

And it's rumored that her husband is going to announce his candicacy for a position in the government, too. That would lead to many more needs to arrange meetings, establish meals, and generally play the game of society.

It kept her busy. But today she's here at another event, her in--of course--traditional garb, currently standing and looking out a the snow falling beyond her. There are things lost, of course. But there's no reason she should be bothered. No good reason at all. She has wealth, and she has all the power a princess can wield. If she hasn't spoken to her friend from high school...

Childish things always pass away, in time.

"Ah!" she says, pleasantly, turning to look as the crowd roars. Shizuru takes small steps towards Princess Serenity, and bows, pausing before Jadeite. She waits for him to see how she is, and then steps closer, to take a perfect small hand. "My, you're lovely today." Lean in, "It's all right if you're a little nervous," she murmurs. "All women do this one day."

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

They'd won.

It was always the goal, somewhere off beyond the curve of the battlefield's horizon, a hazy ideal: victory, light over dark, peace over conflict. Sailor Pluto thought she always knew what they were fighting for, and it was the need to fight no longer, to finally set down those dear, deadly weapons they carried...


Many magical girls knew the stakes of their pitched battles with darkness, but few could say that they'd seen the battle lost before. Sailor Pluto, eternal guardian, could. To know the coming Silence was averted lifted a huge weight, opened up possibilities that a sworn warrior never imagined. Retirement from battle, raising a family, surely these are things to be grateful for.


Setsuna tilts a photograph, wood frame scraping along wooden desk, so that the light reflecting off of the glass encasing it winks away and allows her to see the image: a blonde man in a pale tuxedo, one eye covered by an opaque lens in his silvery glasses, slipping a golden band onto the finger of a tall, handsome bride in a flowing silvery gown, her evergreen hair trapped in a bun beneath her veil. Neither smile, the solemnity of their expressions a match to the dark, solemn eyes of their flower girl.

Four years ago, it had seemed the right thing to do, the best way to continue a job she did not have any more. Setsuna Meioh just didn't know how to stop protecting people. Snatched from the brink of disaster with the rest of them, little Hotaru needed someone, and while she wouldn't admit it to herself, so did Setsuna. It didn't matter that Professor Tomoe left her cold, in the way his voice lacked emotion and the way his hands lacked affection. As the years went on she experienced his attention less and less, and found that loneliness a familiar discomfort, comparatively. Setsuna was fortunate, really.


Her old friends were less fortunate. At least she had Hotaru to care for, to teach; she wasn't alone. It wasn't quite like Setsuna's times with her own mother. She still recalls her distant, distant childhood, colored silvery in memory to match its era, trailing behind the tall gowned figure with a pinch of silk between chubby toddler fingers, learning the wonders of the stars through the miraculous lenses of the Observatory's telescopes. No, Setsuna does not practice her science any more. That is all for Professor Tomoe, down in his cold laboratory with his cold hands and single cold, gleaming eye.

Haruka, Michiru... They'd adapted in other ways. She hadn't seen them in years, now, not in person, although their images came up on the television she left on for company often enough. They were never seen together, these days. A husband, a family to care for... Setsuna was lucky.

She shakes her head and sets the photograph back among the others, perfect glassy reproductions of the day that had changed her life. She has Hotaru to teach. With her sixteenth birthday coming, it was more than time to get started sewing a new gown for the spring formal. Nothing could be more important, especially if she wanted Hotaru to have the same luck she has. It was important that her beloved stepdaughter not end up alone.


<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

"A hot dog."

"A mexican wrestler."

"Can't do anything with that one... It's just a cloud..."

Garnet had lost track of how long she had been laying on the cliff next to the Temple. Just... looking up...

She remembers Steven saying good bye for school and giving him a hug. But how many hours ago was that now?

If it was around noon, Amethyst would napping below. Without missions to add disclipine and structure to her day, she slept even more than usual, especially when Steven wasn't around to play with her. Pearl would be long finished with the last of her general cleaning and conducting her third Dirt Patrol. Without the thrill of defending those she loves, her domestic fastidiousness took up more and more of her energy. Which left little, if anything for Garnet to do during the hours that Steven was gone. Empty hours, stretched, and blurred together.

So here she was. Watching the clouds go by.

The world was ordered now. The magical wars from the other dark forces she had experienced from her time in Tokyo before the Golden Dawn had been contained or resolved in the last four years. The magical guardians of Earth had "won."

And the tinge of dread she had always felt when looking at the sky, nothing ever came of it.

Garnet was technically still free to live on Earth and exist as herself as long as she kept it away from view. The grandfather-clause that designated the Temple a protected art site in Tokyo had been strengthened by the Golden Dawn on the condition that the Crystal Gems keep to themselves and no longer intervene in greater magical matters.

The new acceptance of magical princes and the titanic final magical batles had revealed the nature of the Gems to the greater public. There were still whispers occasionally of the "Beach Witch Coven" among the people of Tokyo, but aside from the occasional child trying to come by to prove his bravery to his friends, (usually surprised off by Steven offering snacks and video games, desperate for a friend now that so many of his had moved on to other places) no one came to see them. "The Bloodstone Giant" usually just smiled or waved them off as best she could if they wandered over while no one else was around. The fence was back up, and a crocodile patrolled the bay half-heartedly ever so often when it wasn't asleep, having even less reason to committ.

The feeling of this omnipresent authority is so familiar. But what could be done? Humanity doesn't need their protection anymore. The monsters that once clawed at the gates of their daily lives have now stopped for good. Steven was free to be a normal boy, but would never realize his mother's legacy.

"A Rose..."

A tear rolls down Garnet's cheek as watches this latest cloud pass above her, and she wonders:

Is this is enough. Is it the world she would have wanted?

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Sympathy For The Devil https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAgT8FpJbPY

The Marquis de Siod, leader of the Dignified Institute Of Supernals, is the height of dignity, wealth, and many and varied tastes. His fashion choices are tomorrow's trends; stars are made or broken by his critiques of food, wine, and entertainment. Everyone knows his face. And every girl in the whole world is his princess; some might argue that, therefore, no one is, but on the whole the masses seem extremely satisfied, being saved by him, day after day after day after day.

Even if mostly he thwarts crimes of fashion -- and stars in some artfully staged events surrounding the defeat of what dragons remain, impossible to slay completely or forever, in the corners of the world.

He does not oppose, or even acknowledge, counterculture movements like The Boiling Cauldron. The absolute lack of a response to such things spells their doom, crashing against the walls of cultural inertia like passing waves. Between Easter and Searrs, there's no space in the media for their message to propagate.

And, even now, as a team of young women eager for a promotion to a token position within DIOS use wire cutters on Kasagami's AV equipment, that is not going to change.

But let us put such minor matters aside, and return to the Marquis.

He's waiting on a raised dais, above the assembling couples. Tonight he's going to marry them all at once, bestow his blessing, his benediction. Later, he'll dance with every bride, and give them something to remember the evening by.

He opens his mouth, and--


It's not a voice that comes from without, but within; still and small, the innermost self. Everyone has one, their shining thing, their golden ray of light, the crystal that lives in their heart, comes out in their tears.

You become suddenly aware, within your own head, that this is not reality.

That this is not what is -- but that it /will/ be, or something all too similar to it will be, if you remain entranced, entrapped by this vision of the future instead of contending with the present.

Closing and opening your eyes isn't enough to snap you out of it, though, and that realization is its own awful moment in a timeline filled with them. Neither is pinching an arm or any other flavor of pain.

Gradually the truth comes to you, dawns within you like the sun, as you look up at Tokyo Tower or out, across the sprawling, golden city.

This is not my Tokyo.

It may be near and dear to other hearts, but it is not your vision, it wasn't painted on the palette of reality using any of your feelings as coloring. But that doesn't mean those feelings don't exist... and they're the only way out of this awful maze, the only way to break free. To fight fire with fire, since this magic was fueled, in the first place, by Tokyo's own mystical Master Key, responding to someone else's hopes and dreams.

What is Tokyo?

What does Tokyo mean?

What is the Tokyo that lives in my heart?

How do you love Tokyo? Let us count the ways...

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

The Cauldron doesn't boil over. No, it fizzles out in the worst way possible. Not a simmer remains, and the Rose is left alone. Her plans dashed. The mic falls from her hand, and rolls off to fall into the darkness. Atop Tokyo Tower, Kasagami falls to her knees and begins to sob. Beating uselessly as the man below begins to speak, she curls up. Silence reigns to her.

Then she stands, as the final bits of hope drain from her. There's nothing left. Her dreams finally crushed as her long work is so soundly defeated. A few steps forward, arms raised.

There's nothing in this world for Kasagami Araki.

But just before she pitches herself to the air and gleaming gold, that inner voice howls. She pauses, gasping. Realization hits her, and she turns around. Gazes across the brilliant city. Now, it seems so false. So wrong.

"This...isn't my Tokyo."

Despair fades as her true self fills her. A laugh is loud coming from atop Tokyo Tower. A single hand is thrust out. "THIS ISN'T MY HOME!" She howls. No. This isn't Tokyo. This Golden City isn't that bastion of conflict, chaos, despair and yet endless opportunity. It isn't the city that contains the path to her dream. Her true dream, not as a Rebel, but as a King! And that man down there? She won't accept him as a King of any era.

Her mind shifts to Ohtori. Of the woods, and then the Castle in the sky where the Duels take place beneath. Of an overly large dorm, and then another one with one pink haired girl and a purple haired one living together. Kendo tryouts. The Student Council's tower. Even that annoyingly green-haired jerk Saionji. It's all hers. All hers to fight within and for. All hers to conquer with the Power to Revolutionize the World she so wants.

Kasagami imagines her own ideal. A city not unlike Tokyo, not at all so gilded as this one. A sleek modern place, rigid, controlled, and /safe/. No one goes hungry. Everything is shared if it's needed, work is done by those who truly thirst for their jobs. Modern knights walk the streets to protect the innocent, her court holds sway over everything with advisors, and most importantly, her royal guard, and her Prince beside her.

A place of Law. Her law and her justice, and she rules with an iron, benevolent fist.

Kasagami lets loose with her heart, letting her feelings for her home town, and how she'd shape it fill the gilded darkness of the tower around her, the young woman warring with this false reality.

Roses bloom all around Kasagami, deep red, as deep as her desires.

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

As the realization that this is not the timeline hits him, Takeo staggers, waving off Mina who comes to him and makes sure he's okay. Asking him if he needs a doctor or to lie down. He waves her off and goes back to that window, picking up the whiskey glass with shaking hand. He takes a breath, breathing in the fine whiskey, and sips it.

What is Tokyo?

Laughter fills his ears. Laughter and the roar of wind. The smell of ... Bacon. He smiles as he remembers Ohtori Academy, Eri and Mai making him a vegetable dinner plate to screw with his head, but handing him an entire plate, filled to bursting with fresh cooked, crispy, and delicious Bacon.

Of hanging with Yua, and listening to her artfully play the chello while he tinkered with his motorcycle, trying to find that one more ounce of speed.

Azyana, cursing at him in russian while laughing at some prank he pulled. The smell of her dusty old books, and the perfume she wore.

What does Tokyo Mean?

The friendship that he lost comes roaring back. Filling his heart. His sister's warm touch, her laughter, his mother and father loving and stern, but always there with a smile. Mama-sama, God. He hadn't called his mother Mama-sama that since ... Since before she died. But she was always there. Pushing him, encouraging his Martial Arts, and even sparring with him. A tear falls, at that. Mama, and then Papa, who taught him how to ride a bike. Who had been THE infamous Racer Red when he was Takeo's age, and taught Takeo everything he knew about racing and motorcycles.

What is the Tokyo that lives in my heart?

He closes his eyes. His memories are flooding him, pushing back Lancelot's, filling him. He finds one, and nearly collapses in tears. A dance, with just a girl and a boy, everyone he loved is there. Yua, his childhood friend from kindergarten, Azyana, the foreign exchange student, Eri, who just wanted to teach him how to vegetable, and .... Her.

What is the Tokyo that lives in the heart of Takeo Akamizu?

Love. Tokyo is a place of love. Love for food, for activities. Love of the people, and one's friends. There are trials, because love should be earned and discovered, and that is it's own little adventure, but it is, at the end of the day, an adventure of love.

Love. Tokyo is ... Love.

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

Lera keeps walking, when she hears the voice. There aren't any miracles. It might be something in her head; it might be that she had a couple too many beers this afternoon. She closes her eyes, lets out a sigh, and takes a couple more steps.

'What is Tokyo?'

The old instincts take a moment to come back. The instinct to not dismiss it; the instinct to stop and listen. She takes a couple more steps, her feet finally stumbling. She catches a glimpse of Fuu... and she looks away, the way she trained herself to. People from the old days want to avoid her. It's... easier.

Her sleeve dangles, loosely, at her side. Her eyes drift down at the ground, away from the filigreed tower.

'What does Tokyo mean?'

She shakes her head, squeezing her eyes closed. "Shut up," she hisses at nothing -- and she resents it, as much as she always does, when people edge away from her. "It doesn't mean anything. I'm still stuck on this stupid planet. I'm still..."

'What is the Tokyo that lives in my heart?'

The voice cuts Lera off from talking to herself. She sags -- she has to stop walking. She leans against a railing, trying to catch her breath, and fight back tears. "Shut up!" she snaps. "I'm alone here. I'm... I'm alone, y'know? There's--"

And then, a memory comes to her. It isn't, exactly, of a city that isn't her home. It isn't of a tall house in Midchilda's north, with mountains in the distance, even. It's the faces of Ren Aizawa and Endo Naoki, laughing with her. They swim in front of her eyes. It's Fate Testarossa, smiling. A smile that's precious and hard-earned.

It's the girl who left -- except, no, she didn't leave. Those amber eyes widen. She turns on a foot, then she starts walking. For once, she isn't slouching and shuffling along. She even starts to jog. "Fate," she murmurs. Then, she asks, aloud: "Setsuna--where, where are you two? Where did you go?"

She has her answer. They're her Tokyo. And she lost them.

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

Normally, that locket rests around Fuu's neck without impinging much on her awareness - but this time, bundled up as she is against the cold, the chain doesn't settle into place, the pendant doesn't come to rest as it should, and she winds up fiddling with it quite a bit more as she tries to get it settled properly again. And then -

"Ouch ... !"

The chain actually pinches her neck before she manages to tug her collar away from where it got caught up, but the little spark of pain doesn't simply fade. It just feels ... wrong.


It's all wrong, and her mind wavers as an old, rusted instinct shakes off years of disuse and shakes her from within the depths of her heart.

Tokyo is her *home*. She was born in Tama, raised there, began her schooling, enrolled at Infinity when her elementary grades showed her promise; she's used to the ebb and flow of trains, subway, and street. The arcades and shops of Akihabara and the upscale stores of Shibuya are both familiar to her, much like the museums and parks of Ueno, the hustle and bustle of Tokyo Big Site come Comiket, and so many other places, and Tokyo Tower itself --

The Tower, that shining landmark, not ablaze in gold but lit up white and red ... a treasure to the whole city, but particularly important to Fuu and two other girls: the place where their adventure began, where they were called upon to save another world.

Twenty-three wards, three Sister Schools, hundreds of classmates among millions of people: she's stood up to protect them all in the face of countless crises, from rampaging monsters to plots against the city's defenders themselves. And yet ...

No. Not 'and yet,' but 'even so': for all the pain of battle, from physical injuries to the trauma of nightmares, and the deep, resonating sting of occasional losses ... for all that the city as it "is" may still be protected by other hands, Fuu still wants to protect it. Not just for her family or her friends or her classmates, but most especially for three people with whom she shares an unparalleled bond.

Hikaru Shidou, the tomboyish Magic Knight of Fire, as precious to Fuu as a younger sister.

Umi Ryuuzaki, elegant and ladylike Magic Knight of Water; while they are of an age, Umi is almost like another big sister to her.

And Ferio, the swordsman from Cephiro, who crossed their paths by an accident of fate and walked away with Fuu's love before she realized how hard she'd fallen for him.

Again the locket is fished out, and Fuu looks at the customized design on its face: a triangle of glyphs, each inlaid in a different color, and a tiny, sparkling diamond at its center. Then she closes her hand around it, squeezing the locket tightly and her eyes no less so.

This is wrong.

This is not her world.

This is not her *city*.

This is not, *cannot*, be the future which will come to pass ... !



power ...

No doubt a passerby would see a young woman grieving for someone she's lost, but they could never guess the truth at a glance. Not unless they felt the same desperation, the same grief, the same delicate ember of hope and resistance. This city, one which rejected her protection and feigns to embrace her still as its child, is not her home. She can only reach out against all opposition, trusting her own heart, to reach back once more and grasp the Tokyo which *is*.

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

Hikaru looks again at the pendant, and she closes her eyes. The tears begin to fall down her cheeks and she shakes her head at this whole thing. This isn't real. It's not what it's supposed to be. It's not the real future! She holds it tighter than before, feeling it pushing against her flesh, yet she grits her teeth. "No, I need to be with Umi-san and Fuu-chan... and Ferio-san! It's the real thing! I can't be here! I don't belong here! This is not what's going to happen!"

"Belief becomes power!"

Those magic words are her personal mantra at the moment, and while onlookers might seem surprised to see what Hikaru's doing, she doesn't really care honestly. She just wants to to be back to where she truly belongs!

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

It's still dark.

The only difference is that Homura knows it. Awareness left her -- she doesn't know for how long -- and it comes back creepingly. Haltingly, like she isn't sure that she exists. She doesn't, she think, have eyes to open. She simply realizes, again, that she exists. She feels that impression, more than she listens to the voice.

But she hears it. It takes her a moment to really listen with ears that don't exist; it takes her longer, in that eternal darkness, for Homura to understand.

She really only keys onto the last question. If she still had lips, if she still had a body at all, they would work to reform it and try to understand what it means.

Except, she does understand.

She knows what Tokyo is. An endless, grey city that stretches out over and over. Always repeating itself. The lines of moving cars, moving trains, and moving people in the same pattern every day. It crumbles, falls apart, and gets torn down in the same way. No matter how blue the sky is, they are always grey and cloudy to her. She has seen it over and over and over again. Always the same.

Pale, thin fingers squeeze into a fist at her side. Violet eyes squeeze shut. Homura knows what Tokyo means to her. "Nothing," her lips move, "without Madoka."

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

Natsuki ducks into the crowd as she kept her eyes open for any enemies. Part of her wonders if Mai would appear, although she wasn't quite certain why she thought of her friend. She hadn't seen the girl since the wedding and given the circumstances it would be quite awkward if she saw her now.

She glances around, so many young brides readying to step into a new life that was expected of them. How did their life come to this? What ever happened to freedom of choice? What ever happened to own self goals?

She raises her head as the Marquis steps forward for his speech, everyone preparing to listen in awe rather they wanted to or not. Natsuki frowned. She always found there was something alluring dangerous about the man. She always felt it was like a moth being lead into a flame.

Then a voice was heard. WAKE UP!

Natsuki staggered, holding her head. Did she just hear that? Did anyone else?

This is not my Tokyo the voice repeated.

Natsuki blinked. Not her Tokyo? What did that mean and who was saying it? Of course it was Tokyo wasn't it? A thought drifts into her head, but it's hard to keep a hold on. Something was wrong. Something was wrong about this whole thing.

What was Tokyo? Before her life now, it was a city of freedom, of choices. It was a place where you could be who you wanted to be.

What did Tokyo mean? Natsuki frowned on the thought. It was going beyond what was expected of you, breaking...no smashing them even. It was reaching your goals even if it was breaking the rules. It was doing want you wanted and no one forcing you.

What was the Tokyo that lives in my heart? Natsuki frowned, feeling she almost got the answer. It was...it was a place where Mai would nag her for eating store bought food, where Mikoto would drive her crazy, where Shizuru would wait with a cup of tea with her, where that cheery girl Usagi was happy for the joy of it, it was...it was home.

Her fists tightened. This place had none of that. "It's not my Tokyo," she muttered and then threw fist in the air. "Give me back my Tokyo dammit!"

<Pose Tracker> Princess Serenity [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taTDT4iA6yY

For just one moment, her head turns. Time seems to slow down. Her smile fades just fractionally, a look of surprise. She thinks- she thinks she sees someone she knows in the crowd. Not that that was unusual. Certainly she'd been introduced to many people here but-

-this was different.

That face. She'd kept up with his accomplishments certainly, the brewing scandal, though she had to be discrete even about the kind of news she appeared to focus upon. She can't see that finely chiseled jaw behind the scarf, only eyes, eyes as vast as the blue sky. Her lips move, she wants to mouth something. A plea- but she doesn't. She just looks so sad, so frail, her eyes sparkling.

Jadeite of course, bows in return to Fujino. She was of course- approved to see the Princess right now. He bowed to her then looked at Serenity. The Princess had stopped, was staring out in the distance. Jadeite cleared his throat once. Then again.

Reality snaps back. She'd seen- noone.

She dabs the back of her hand gently to her eyes, it would be a terrible time for someone to snap a picture. The smile returns to her face. "Highness, look who's here to see you-" His tone had that edge of imperiousness, as Serenity turns to face Shizuru just as her hand is taken, just as she leans in. Serenity whispers back, her words more formal than her younger self would remember, "Perhaps. But it would be poor form for me to show it. Isn't that right, Fujino-san?" She draws back, her tone becomes more conversational, "I would hope I look lovely. Shouldn't every woman look best on their wedding day? I still remember that kimono you wore for yours."


It's like a chime through her head. It causes her to turn her head again, to look for those blue eyes. Something about it is scary, she wants to make the plea she couldn't before- 'Save me.' - something she couldn't do herself. She wasn't strong enough- but even her ability to do that is disappearing. She's floating away from herself, growing more and more distant. There's a light above, where she heard the chime, she reaches out her fingertips, like a single ray shining through deep and murky waters. She can't reach it, even as she tries, the current drags her further and further away, the maze forming is a kaleidoscope of visions that are not her own.

How did she lose such a precious thing as her Tokyo?

Princess Serenity- Usagi Tsukino, considers beneath the swell of colors and- her feelings take form within her. They're not spoken aloud, but they're so loud anyhow.

My Tokyo is the Tokyo where I wake up in the morning, when a pure white curtain of lace rustles in the breeze... the cuckoo clock is yelling at me, and then my mom is telling me I'll be late for school. I just want to turn over and sleep for a few more minutes- it's a place where I'm late every day like clockwork. A place where teacher makes me stand out in the hall, and where I get failing grades on tests.

My Tokyo is the Tokyo where I can meet my precious friends after school and go to the crepes stand, and buy enough to last me the way home- where we can stop to gaze dreamily at a party dress in a shop window.

That's not enough. She feels herself slipping further and further away, drowning in the visions.

The next thought comes out vehemently, as if she were repulsed by her previous visions, My Tokyo is the Tokyo where I want a Prince, but don't /need/ a Prince!

She could gush for ages about how it's Ami's brilliance, Rei's passion, Mako's gentle protectiveness, Minako's dream- that wars with her attention to duty. She could consider her feelings for Haruka's relentless drive that contrasts the gentle kindness he's shown her, Or Michiru's elegance and dignity or even Setsuna's caring heart, that hides behind her loneliness. She could think about Tuxedo Kamen's support whenever she needed him before D-Point took him from her or how it's Madoka's kindness, Mai's devotion, Mami's sadness, Lera's courage- and so many more, but even as she's thinking of others, she finds one unifying theme that brings it all together.

My Tokyo is happiness! Because it's where I met everyone! Not just as Usagi Tsukino- but as Sailor Moon! My Tokyo is where it's okay to be me- A quiet pause in such thoughts, a foggy memory of someone telling her something. That noone shines in war. -to be someone a lot of people think is a loser in every way- and still somehow, manage to shine anyhow- for being me.

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

Tokyo Tower is beautiful tonight. The train ride was a touch stressful, but a flash of gold on a finger coupled with Mai's rather infamous companion make sure that unwanted attention is deterred for tonight. Now that she's here...part of Mai wonders if this was so wise. There's still cleaning to be done at home, she should really settle on those two paint choices, and then there's thinking about...

For a moment, she's diverted. The splendour of Princess Serenity is a beacon in the night, and Mai's eyes are drawn to it. The reborn princess of the Moon Kingdom...Mai had known her, once upon a time. The band on her finger is a sign of the position she technically has in society, but...it's still not her place to approach, is it. They both have heir roles, they both have their lives.

Shizuru's presence is a bit of a surprise - as if snapping out of a haze born of repetitiveness and ritual, she starts to recognize a few faces in the crowd. It's like glimpses of a past life - from before her wedding, from before truly becoming family with Mikoto. Reminders of lives that had been such a fixture, like Homura Akemi; phantoms of former friends, like that vagrant that looks just a little like Natsuki Kuga. But...she hasn't spoken to any of them in years, has she? Maybe coming out here was a mistake - maybe she should just go back home, and think seriously about becoming a...

A man steps up to a dias, and Mai stumbles on the spot, bumping against Mikoto before pleading to her sister-in-law and to herself. "He's here? I could have sworn he was headed to Norway...what if he's hungry after this? Oh, Mikoto, what have I done..."

Pangs of wistfulness strike - if he weren't so busy, if he weren't so needed, if she were still as impetuous as in her youth, she could just storm the stage right now to greet him. But...there are weddings tonight, and the Marquis de Siod will be occupied all night long. This really was a mistake, she thinks, a tear running down her cheek as he begins to speak-


It's like a lightning bolt. It's like a fierstorm igniting. It's like the sun emerging from the oblivion of an eclipse - an indelible truth engraved on the walls of the universe. This is not right. This is not her home.

Mikoto might notice the difference first, being so close to her - as the revelation strikes, Mai's gloved hands clench into tight fists clad in white leather. She raises her chin, confidence coming back as the long-dormant fire within begins to burn once again. The first thought, the self-recrimination that had doused her entire being, is transformed into absolute fury. Her wedding day - her marriage should be one of partners. Not...attached to this wandering prince, left to keep the home while he does as he sees fit!

(But he belongs to the world, doesn't he? Don't be selfish - don't you have everything you wanted?)

"This...isn't right." It's uttered to herself with conviction, uttered for Mikoto's sake as much as her own, uttered to scare away those phantoms of what she thought were her wishes. "This isn't how our lives were supposed to be....Takumi being healthy, finding your brother, all of this should have brought family closer, Mikoto. Instead...we're more lost than ever. This isn't...these aren't the brothers we should have. This isn't the -city- we should have."

Mai tears her eyes away from her husband - away from the Marquis de Siod. That fiery gaze locks on Tokyo Tower, focuses on that beacon - and she answers the unasked question. "My city...is a city with a thousand little shops with their own charm. A city where one bridge burned still leaves hundreds of others open. Were family can be together...and where we can do what we're happy doing, instead of what someone else says we should be doing."

With clear eyes, she can't help but notice the ruffles Mikoto has been forced to wear.

"This might be what I said I wanted...What I thought I wanted...but this isn't home. Home is friends from every corner, family sticking together, delightful surprises on a lazy afternoon." She spares Mikoto a smile, then turns a furious glare to the man who might be the girl's brother - he probably can't even see his wife from here, but she'll know. She'll know, as she pulls off her left glove. "Maybe not today...but I am taking...it...back."

And with that last syllable, she twists off her wedding ring.

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

As Serenity pulls back from her whisper, Shizuru watches the younger woman's eyes, and offers a small smile as if in response to whatever private message there was.

The message from her is simple; she approves.

"Ah, so true. And you do on yours. I'm sure we'll all remember. ...And it's very kind of you to say as much about my own. I--"

Shizuru pauses, suddenly, closing her eyes and furrowing her brow against the strange sound. It's a voice she rarely hears, even under normal circumstances, has believed many a day that she doesn't even have. But there it is.

She looks legitimately surprised as she blinks, as she looks up again to this place, the snow and the heat lamp and... the man, the Marquis, above. Shizuru blinks her red eyes again, but that doesn't wake her up, and that much she does without thinking. The weight of everything in this strange world begins to settle in--except, it isn't a weight. ...In many ways, this world is good to her, gives her wealth, power, things to do.


The feelings of that young woman from four years ago--from the true reality of now--well up in her heart with that 'voice'. It's not a weight from above, but a pressure from within.


This must have been the plan. It must have been what was intended. And yet... There's so much that isn't hers. She thinks of one face she never sees anymore, and it happens in a flash; she rips one of the pins from her hair and gashes it across her hand, in an effort to wake up.

This is not my Tokyo.The pain doesn't wake her up. Pain never was enough to break through for her. But she knows now, that she wants to. This was there plan... But it isn't her plan.

What is Tokyo?

Shizuru closes her eyes, against this place, ignores what she feels outside. Tokyo...

The sprawling campus of Ohtori Academy springs up in her mind's eye, from the tower from which she looks out over it all through its elegant buildings and...

A garden. A single garden, wide and broad, filled with flowers. Many things were lost in the invasion, but not /this one/. A single garden, that she would spend so much time in. ...With one person there.

What does Tokyo mean?

It's the city she lives in apart from her parents. It means there's time. It means that she still has a chance for her /own/ vision. ...But more than that it means she has a little bit more precious time to be herself.

What is the Tokyo that lives in my heart?

It's almost easy. That garden... and one person. In reality she saw her minutes ago, but in this world it could have been years. "...Natsuki," Shizuru murmurs, where no one can hear her, as she envisions the garden where her only friend stands in her mind's eye, envisions a thousand little meetings.

"/This/ is my Tokyo."

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

She misses them.

Needle dips into cloth and rises again, the movement so regular you could set a metronome by it. The lines of the bodice are uncomplicated, staid, with no tricky adjoinments or complex cuts to challenge Setsuna's abilities; once as likely to set her considerable mind to designing a daring new flare to a cuff or skirt as she was to chart the movements of black holes, she now finds herself sewing only a few simple patterns. They're the only acceptable ones, popular for the season and selected to dovetail to prevailing fashion.

Hotaru is out, Setsuna had found, run off to the house of some school friend whose name she wouldn't share. She was out a lot, these days, wouldn't stay in and learn the things she needed to learn, the things she'd need to know to survive in this world.

Instead, the television keeps Setsuna company as she sews. It's her only truly constant companion, these days. The grand Christmas celebration chimes away, blaring the Marquis's introduction throughout her cozy little sewing room. She isn't planning to pay much attention. These things are all the same.

She wishes it was Michiru playing, or Haruka running, instead.


Setsuna jumps, and in her startlement the silvery needle rises and dips into the meaty pad of her thumb. Scarlet wells around the metal, beading when she pulls the needle out. Her own voice echoes in her skull, the words a whisper: "Wake up, wake up..."

The round red droplet beading on her thumb reminds her of the Garnet Orb atop its now-dusty Rod. She hasn't taken it out in a long time. Years. She knows exactly where it is, leaning with a handful of umbrellas in the upstairs hall closet. She knows without looking that beneath the dust it is still brilliant and bottomless, dark and shining all at the same time.

Scarlet eyes go to the small square window, set high in the wall, through which the barest edge of the city skyline can be seen. Its lights seem dull. The sewing room isn't cozy any more. It's tiny, stifling. The walls advance on Setsuna and she stands, chair scraping on the floor and then toppling noisily and unheeded behind her.

What is Tokyo? It isn't... it can't be that dim, unsparkling huddle of skyscrapers out there. She remembers a Tokyo far more inspiring and warm, before they "won" and surrendered to this cold new peace. This is not the Tokyo she came to to fight for the fate of reality, not the Tokyo she found her companions' sides after all those many years of fighting near, but oh so far from them. That Tokyo's twinkling lights shine to match the stars she loved so; that Tokyo brings her closer to the people she loves.

Setsuna remembers a Princess whose heart shines brighter, even, than all of lights of Tokyo and stars of the sky, a Princess whose hope and love radiate unfettered and engender the same in Setsuna's own lonely soul. A Princess whose nobility supports and uplifts her, rather than trapping and binding her.

But... She still longs for the closeness of a family. Still feels that hollow ache, unfulfilled, and knows hesitation. In this here, in this now, she has Hotaru, doesn't she?

No. It isn't right. It doesn't fit. She cannot countenance this, she cannot hold onto it. Deep down in her soul, Setsuna Meioh rejects a reality that does not have her at the sides of Michiru Kaioh and Haruka Tenoh, does not have her close enough to protect Usagi Tsukino. She will chance her future on them, on the Tokyo they share together.

This is not her Tokyo, and she does not accept it. A droplet of red blood arcs to splash and stain the pale silk of the half-sewn dress in the wake of her hurried departure. She is running for the second floor, for the hall closet, for the slender silvery Key beneath its layer of dust.

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

As they pass by the wall which commemorates Homura Akemi, Mikoto thinks, briefly, of her old life. Untempered and fierce and chaotic, all the things she must no longer be.

She's sad, but only briefly.

Princess Serenity is a lovely picture of ladylike poise and proper action, and Shizuru is the very image of composure and grace. They seem to have fit in so well with peaceful like, so unlike the Mikoto who still feels the urge to scale every tree and building, who still crouches to talk to cats, who still eats with too much passion.

She thinks she even sees Natsuki in the crowd, but she must be wrong, because Natsuki hasn't been seen for so long.

Her lord brother is there, on the dais. Mikoto looks up at him with love and devotion and trust, and reaches out to put a hand on Mai's arm and squeeze it. "It's okay," she says, "lord brother will understand." He is good, and just, and benevolent.

And all those feelings mean that when she feels a twinge of doubt, she doesn't understand.

This is everything she wanted.

She has her lord brother. She even still has Mai. The battles have been won and the world is at peace.

So then, as she looks up at him, standing above all of his adoring women, why...

Why does her heart hurt?


Mikoto shakes her head, lets Mai's arm go so she can ball her own into fists. No. No! These thoughts aren't what her lord brother would want, aren't what would make him happy. She wants what he wants. She acts as he wishes. That is the key and the lock and the chain around her which binds her and keeps her. And that is as it should be.

It is as it should be, she is /happy/, she has everything she wants.

'This isn't right,' says Mai, beside her, and it is a lance through her heart, a betrayal she feels as keenly as a blade. Mikoto looks up at her as if she'd been slapped, eyed wide.

It's not the way their lives were supposed to be. They should have been so close, but they were all lost, left behind,


Mikoto shakes her head again, gritting her teeth. This /is/ her Tokyo. It /must/ be. She has found her brother, and he is good and kind and - and her breath catches in her lungs, caught by the corset which pulls her into the correct posture. She realises, perhaps for the first time, how much it bothers her.

It bothers her that she has to spend so much time with people who hate her. Before, she could spend time with people she loved. She could bother Natsuki, or shadow Eri as she worked on her plants, or eat ice cream with Usagi, or...

Or stay beside Mai, even as she worked so hard to support her little brother.

And she could spend her time searching for the brother she loved, even then, because they didn't constrain her, didn't force her to remain.

Mikoto feels tears welling in her eyes as her true emotions struggle to get past the barricades she's built.

Is this even her real brother?

Mai declares her own vision of Tokyo, and Mikoto's hand clenches at her heart. "I want," she sniffs, and then sobs, curling in on herself. "I want my lord brother!!"

He would make this right. He would make her understand. He would - he would -

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

"Wake up." a chorus of voices echoes inside Garnet. The clouds disappear, and her vision becomes clearer.

"It's... this is... it can't be... how is this possible?"

It was a jarring realization, even and especially to a being who would find it familiar. It's an experience like the one she lives through countless times in a moment.

But it was different.

It wasn't hers,

it was something else's.

Something else's future.

Something else's vision.

Creating a numb reality where she hadn't even thought to use her own for what felt like so long...

This is a place where she cannot be happy.

This is a place where she cannot be free! What she sees around her, what she's lived for the past four years, is an echo of itself, a hollow ghost of a tomorrow...

Gems are beings of pure magic, and this existence..! Restricted from using her magic.

From living her magic!

from living in harmony with herself, and keeping her from being all she could be!

We deserve better than this!

Amethyst deserves better than this!

Pearl deserves better than this!

And Steven!


Garnet rises to her feet.

"No! This isn't right! This is NOT the way it will be!"

She stands in defiance, the way that she used to... closes her eyes, and concentrates...

She feels it again, after so long...

The cosmos.

She attunes herself back to it. The heartbeat of the universe. The flow of love that connects every distant star and back to her.

And at that center: Tokyo.

It was a new place to her, but an old place too. Because she had brought her home here, and her heart with it.

It was the home the Gems had made for themselves over six millenia ago.

The temple that she and Rose had built.

The house that Greg had built.

Where she lived with her Family and they could do more than just exist day by day in a world someone else had made.

They could make their own world! And live as they see fit! That world... That was what she had fought for all those thousands of years!

A sharp, bright red magic builds on her hands...

That Tokyo was her home!

  • FLASH!* An armored gauntlet appears on her left hand, a reddish purple burning with radiant light!

No one was taking it from her!

  • FLASH!* An armored gauntlet appears on her right hand, a purple with a tint of blue, crystallized, and emitting a mist, as though ice were bursting out of it!

Garnet reaches both gauntlets in front of her and clenches them as though grabbing the very sky itself! They both begin to crackle with electricity as she begins to pull them apart.

And she was going back!

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Uranus [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48o5rCFFxh8

Ask me.

Haruka feels as though she's alone in a long hallway with the girl from her past. Her pasts. The chatter and sound of the crowd is just hazy music on an old record player, their fine clothing and smiling faces just prints on the wallpaper. She stands at one end of the hall, more rumpled than she used to be, the skin of her golden face not so taut, the edges of her blonde hair more bristly. She's strong, still. Perhaps even at her peak. But she teeters at the edge of it. She knows she will never be as tall again, as fast again, as brave again. She had a million chances before this, but this one is the last.

Say it. Ask me to save you. Just nod. Just cry.

Haruka would do it. She can't say no. She hasn't been Sailor Uranus in a lifetime but she'd tear ribcage open and rip that girl out of its chest with her teeth if she asked for it. All at once she can feel the choking, weary cloud she's been breathing. She taste the slow poison under her tongue. Haruka isn't a warrior anymore. She's not even a woman. She's a cringing and contemptible thing who lives in terror of the phone in her pocket, of the newspaper rack at the konbini, at her own flesh and its treacherous slow decay.

Please. Say anything. Just my name.

The bride can see Haruka just a little longer as the hallway narrows, elongates, takes them from each other. Her eyes are no less blue for the thin lines. There's a tired, affable smile in them for her even now, with the same slumped tilt of her muscular shoulders beneath that handsome double-breasted jacket from a Paris she's forgotten and a life she never can.

You'll be okay.

The sound and color of the world closes like double doors against the bride, and Haruka stares at it. There's a golden-haired bride over there, now, but she's just a girl, and it's just a dress. Haruka hikes her hands higher in her pockets. It couldn't have turned out any other way. She should have known that by now.

"Your goshugi, sir?"

A girl in a neat, cream-colored dress stands in front of a round table. Envelopes are piled neatly, there. The most nicely decorated ones are discreetly arranged at the top, the plain ones at the bottom. It's always been the tradition in this country for the newly wedded couple to receive money, even if it's not gold coins anymore. Haruka just stares at the girl, uncomprehending.

"Goshugi?" she repeats helpfully.

Reaching into her jacket, Haruka withdraws a long red ribbon, pulling until the weight at the end drops free of her pocket. A heavy, dully gleaming medal dangles, twisting on its cord. Haruka drops it into the girl's hands. "Omedetou," she says, and for a moment she can smile.

The warmth of the party fades from her cheeks as Haruka leaves the lights, climbing down the hill from Tokyo Tower. The orange spire behind her, she pauses as the trees open up and the city glistens below, black and concrete and whispering distantly. She's thumbing her phone unconsciously as her eyes seek the sky futiley for the soft, pulsing light atop Kaioh Tower. It's so far away from here.

The phone buzzes again, and Haruka whips it from her pocket and hurls it off the path in a spasm of grief, shaking with a sudden chest-shaking ripcord of adrenaline. Hurrying down the stairs, she sniffs the cold air and exhales it wetly in puffs. At the bottom there's a pedestrian bridge over the road, and Haruka stops there, fascinated.

The open air stretches and glowing in the streetlights. The stairs down cut back and forth several stories; it's a dizzying drop. But it's only about ten meters across.

Ten meters. The world record long jump is 8.95. But Sailor Uranus could do much more than that. If a tenth, of a thousandth, if even the tiniest cell in her is still Sailor Uranus, she can do it.

"Wake up," Haruka whispers.

Shrugging the sleeves of her jacket, she pulls it free and lets it drop to the ground.

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

This vision of a possible future is powered by the Master Key, which reacts strongly to peoples' feelings about its city; they are thus the perfect tool with which to shred it apart. Unable to withstand the fierce emotions presented by the magical girls, the dream again shatters into pieces, leaving behind the same bad taste in the mouth of a nightmare, but few concrete memories of this possible alternate timeline.

There is a /clear/ sense shared by all, however, that if these men whose hands are wrapped around the Master Key are allowed to keep it, this future will be coming soon to a Tokyo near you -- or, at least, these feelings are the subtle, underlying principles that will be guiding things forward from here.

For now, however, Tokyo is neither dominated by clashes between cops and robbers, nor is it a horrible genteel playground for the wealthy and powerful.

Tokyo is opportunity.

Tokyo is adventure.

Tokyo is friendship.

Tokyo is belonging.

Tokyo is a single heartbeat.

Tokyo is a whole community.

Tokyo is freedom.

Tokyo is joy.

Tokyo is potential.

Tokyo is warmth.

Tokyo is family.

Tokyo is home.

Tokyo is love--

Yes, Tokyo is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love.

Overloaded, the tooth-rending magical whine of the Key pulses and spikes, blasting the men in suits offstage; they are quickly evacuated by security forces. This sphere of raw force deflects everyone and their attacks, too -- no one winds up even on the stage, in the end, and projectiles of metal and flame alike twing off to thud into the walls. The Key, now quiescent and feeling like it may stay that way for a while, isn't going to be left alone in the spotlight, however. Already, defenders of this claim are leaping out of the crowd, both security guards and some white-cloaked, golden-masked, longsword-wielding boys who would be Princes. This is a future they're willing to fight for, even if they're already forgetting, beyond a pleasant sense of anticipation in their guts, exactly what it was like. That's okay. Their orders, they remember clearly.

The crowd of diplomats, businessmen and celebs is beginning to get very uneasy. It won't be long now before there are panicked shouts of outright alarm, and then, perhaps, a crush for the exits. Giving them a framework to understand their need to evacuate might help prevent some serious damage.

Well, a framework other than 'a giant dragon just appeared in midair, and is taking up most of the volume of the space, with each flap of its wings already beginning to bring down the house in the most literal sense possible.'

If nothing else, Kagutsuchi's ambient essence of self instantly triggers all the fire alarms. People start to hustle.

COMBAT: Princess Serenity transforms into Sailor Moon!

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

Mikoto's conflict, in the end, is decided for her; the dream crumbles, the potential future laid to rest.

She is left with a sense of distress which clears almost immediately as Miroku impacts with the sphere of force. Mikoto and her claymore are both sent flying, and she slams into the wall with such force that the wind is knocked from her. Somehow, a familiar feeling.

Mikoto staggers to her feet, and with a yell, she charges through the crowd. The CEOs and divas are not her target - civilians, unrelated, non-combatants - and the most they have to worry about is getting out of her way as she charges at one of the longsword-wielding Princes. She plants her feet as she comes to a dead stop, hurling her sword around her with all the momentum she'd built up, threatening to simply cut the poor aspirant in two. Fight for your future!

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

Time resumes, and this time, it's more literal and more figurative at once. Homura doesn't move to immediately stop it, as she finds herself drawn back into the present. What was at stake, though, becomes clear. Her eyes dart to the side, where she sees golden-masked men with swords, all leaping for the Key -- and the men in black, too.

Often times, Homura Akemi holds back.

She still kills -- kills freely, in the name of her mission and for sheer, brutal necessity -- and she can use force that seems frightening. There is, however, something carefully measured to it. A bullet to kill a man; a rocket to destroy a tank; a bomb to slay a Witch. It is rare that she lets loose.

She lost something today: a future, and not her own. She saw what failure could look like. She saw a world without her -- and that it's a world without her /and/ Madoka is something just dawning on her. The realization will roll over her, but for now, it is something that puts a fear inside of her. It awakens something primal.

To the sight of those here, Homura simply vanishes. It might seem she has ran off, until one of the golden-masked warriors /jerks/ to the side, turning to face a friend. The first bullet shoots through the mask's eyehole, then into that friend's chest. The second, third, and fourteenth bullets come raining down from above -- because Homura is, quite abruptly, leaping down from the rafters.

As she falls, so do a few -- but never all -- of her targets. She lands on the stage. She turns to look at the Key, considering it for a long moment, but something else takes hold. It will frighten her, later.

It isn't about securing the future. This is about punishing those who took it from her.

She turns, looking in the direction of the Searrs CEO. She needs to create a distraction -- the tactical thinking remains -- and that means providing a second objective. A combat shotgun whips from her shield. She clutches it one-handed, tucks the gun under her armpit, and cocks it, before she swings it up and aims it at the CEO and his fleeing security detail.

Then, she fires.

COMBAT: Homura Akemi transforms into One Woman Army!

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

Knocked off the stage and to the side, Lancelot rolls and pushes himself into a kneeling position. And then stares agape. Becuase there was a freaking DRAGON in the concert hall. "Merlin?"

"Protect whomever gets the key boy, unless she is really upset for your table manner, the Dragon and your girlfriend are on your side!!!"

That gets Lancelot to his feet, and as he gets there, he spies Princes, three of them coming his way. He has a vague memory of being one of them, but for some reason what he was about to do jsut felt like it was gonna be theraputic. He twirls the single blade that is Arondight and lets the balde crackle with blue white lighting. "Gentlemen. Do you dance?"

He doesn't wait for a reply. Arondight is flashing as the Lightning wielding Knight of teh Round Table leaps in among them. Their swords arc, and the four begin a dance of death around each other, their blades ringing, and sparking with each thrust, hack or slash.

He grits hsi teeth as he fights the men in fornt of him. He's hard pressed, and his armor takes more than one cut, as does his cheek. The sharp blade splitting the skin there neatly causing blood to trickle down the side of his face and below the gorget of his armor.

But Lancelot is holding them back. Sending lighting, and deadly attacks of his own at blade wielders. He finds himself shoved back and he crouches near Mai, He looks at her, gives her a wink and says with a bit of playful banter, "Oh man. This is going in the vault for later. Oh! I made you something." He makes a call me gesture, and then leaps back in, blade whirling.

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

It takes four syllables for Mai to invoke a dreadful name. When called, this force could do terrible things - tear buildings asunder, reduce parks to burnt scars, take a few literal bites out of the 'one percent'. Four syllables.

Her first attempt is cut off in two - being torn from the present into a future that twisted what she thought were her wishes would be bad enough, but the Key's violent reaction staggers the entire house. Mai, now with four rings on wrists and ankles instead of one on her finger, stumbles back into a cart of sparkling crystal glasses. Before, her heart felt like it had been stabbed and shattered; now, an incredible fury born of passion and perhaps a little scorn burns within. Only her formal uniform might keep this in check - help keep her centred, keep her from cutting loose.

But then she sees the forces running for the key. Would-be princes in golden masks, guards all too reminiscent of the Golden Age army. It's a race for the Key to the future - she might not understand much more than that, but frankly given who's involved that's more than enough peril. Four syllables - whispered, not screamed - that sing of the birth of flame.


The symphony hall is terribly large - almost large enough, but not truly. The serving area - mercifully clear in the chaos - becomes a sea of flame in an instant. Nearly obscured by the heat, a HiME stands in the inferno...and gradually, the dragon rises. A head the size of a small car, sword impaling its maw, a dozen eyes gazing at the assembled princes in masks. Great wings of flame, folded in tightly, slowly unfurling from the inferal pyre of its invocation...

And with a whump, the rise of the dragon is halted by the ceiling only allowing so much room. Even only half-emerged, Kagutsuchi is a nightmare - a dragon-phoenix of white, marks of emerald near orange fur, with the sword sizzling against terrible heat. Another whump, as its head strains against the ceiling, with cracks sounding from the plaster-

And with a terrible ringing, the sprinkler system kicks in. There's no hope of it extinguishing this flame, it's little more than an irritation - but being doused in water and hearing the alarm is likely enough reason to evacuate the building. And for those undecided...put down the champagne and look behind you.

Mai sees Mikoto charge toward the key, and breathes a moment's sigh of relief. And then - a handful of would-be princes and ominously familiar soldiers seem determined to slay the dragon while it's pinned, and she rushes to meet them with rings and fire. It's a desperate battle - but enough delay for the dragon to screech in fury at whatever poor fool struck her hard enough to send her reeling back. Back, and next to Lancelot - incredulous, she blurts out her first thought. "Flirt later - make sure these maniacs don't get that key!"

COMBAT: Mai Tokiha transforms into Mai and Kagutsuchi!

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

Shizuru is herself again, and seated in the broad Hall in which she started what... feels like longer ago than it logically could have been. She is still in the dark, yet bright autumnal kimono in which she came, still looking out towards the stage. She's even still holding her champagne. ...Beside Kasagami.

That memory comes faster and more easily than those of what must have been a dream. But she, like the others, is entirely aware that if those men keep hold of this Key, then that's their future. and Shizuru is, of course, a loyal follower of the conspiracy.

...But she's not stupid.

She doesn't flinch from the attacks all bouncing to the walls from up on the stage, nor does she so much as twitch her lip at the sight of people already beginning to flee around her. The noise of the fire alarms doesn't concern her. She looks, very carefully, at those men in white. No, in those moments, as the battle begins in earnest, Shizuru Fujino, Vice President of the Ohtori Student Council, is weighing her options, and it takes her a few moments.

In the end, Shizuru sets her glass to her lips and finishes her drink. She sighs. Standing up, she begins to file out of the hall, through one of the emergency exits, amidst the chaos.

From another side entrance emerges a woman in black to the hall, with a lavender tie and wearing a golden mask. She extends her right hand, and in a crackle of electricity, a red, strange naginata is in her hand. She steps up, and then steps more quickly--

Before she slows down, as she steps over the prone forms of electricity-ridden Princes towards Lancelot. "...I really can't let you do that," the woman in black says.

She is suddenly in motion, darting forward with numerous blows of her polearm, at chest and neck and side and in one case, knee.

COMBAT: Shizuru Fujino transforms into HiME Shizuru!

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

Shizuru is herself again, and seated in the broad Hall in which she started what... feels like longer ago than it logically could have been. She is still in the dark, yet bright autumnal kimono in which she came, still looking out towards the stage. She's even still holding her champagne. ...Beside Kasagami.

That memory comes faster and more easily than those of what must have been a dream. But she, like the others, is entirely aware that if those men keep hold of this Key, then that's their future. and Shizuru is, of course, a loyal follower of the conspiracy.

...But she's not stupid.

She doesn't flinch from the attacks all bouncing to the walls from up on the stage, nor does she so much as twitch her lip at the sight of people already beginning to flee around her. The noise of the fire alarms doesn't concern her. She looks, very carefully, at those men in white. No, in those moments, as the battle begins in earnest, Shizuru Fujino, Vice President of the Ohtori Student Council, is weighing her options, and it takes her a few moments.

In the end, Shizuru sets her glass to her lips and finishes her drink. She sighs. Standing up, she begins to file out of the hall, through one of the emergency exits, amidst the chaos.

From another side entrance emerges a woman in black to the hall, with a lavender tie and wearing a golden mask. She extends her right hand, and in a crackle of electricity, a red, strange naginata is in her hand. She steps up, and then steps more quickly--

Before she slows down, as she steps closer to one part of the ongoing battle. "...I really can't let you do that," the woman in black says.

She is suddenly in motion, darting forward among the Princes with numerous blows of her polearm, at chest and neck and side and, in one case, knee, using the crowding effect of Princes's blades to leverage her range.

COMBAT: Shizuru Fujino transforms into HiME Shizuru!

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

That unspoken plea for succor echoes- that desire to be saved by someone, anyone. But the purpose of her rebirth was so that she wouldn't be a helpless Princess, but to temper her feelings so that she can help herself. She saves herself, and is saved- by everyone else at the same time, by joining her feelings with everyone's. But even so, she feels them individually. The love that would have saved her if she'd had but the strength to ask- the warmth that lay within a lonely heart- and so many more.

The vision is fading already, but the lingering feelings remain. The miserable melancholy, the sense of unfulfillment- the loss of her friends, her family, her loved ones- maybe they were alive, but she lost them in every way. It cost her so much. She reappears in mid-air, diving, just as the blast wave goes off from the overload of love. It's fortunate she isn't so close, on the outer edge of that blast radius- it arrests her leap towards, sending her backwards, as she performs a backflip in mid-air, arms outspread, she lands.

The tears still sparkling in her eyes, "It's so- horrible." She chokes on that feeling, as chaos reigns. The people are fighting. The air is hot, sweltering, from the heat of Kagutsuchi's wings, the aura of his presence. And the key- It's glittering right there. So many Princes with swords, so many men with guns, all fighting over their future. But also Magical Girls- Sailor Uranus and Pluto too- already she sees the Princes in golden masks that they're engaging and- ever is she one to call for- plead for- and if rejected- try to give her cooperation anyhow, "Uranus- Pluto! I'll back you up! Please save our shining future!"

Contrary to all evidence as to why she shouldn't, everything Uranus has said, they're still Sailor Senshi- she trusts her intentions for the key. She'd never use it to hurt their future. She trusts Pluto, the one who gave up the key to save her that night.

A hand moves to her forehead- the sacred tiara shines in starlight of her grief, her horror, her righteous anger, "Moon Tiara-" The arm cocks back, and flings it high. "-Stardust!" It cuts an arc across the stage, scattering stardust in it's wake. Her aim expert enough to miss catching any allies of them in the starburst streams of her magic- but perhaps some of their opponents aren't so lucky. If her allies are feeling especially canny, it might offer the oppurtunity to bait foes into its path...

She doesn't charge for the key immediately after, she instead plays defense, leaping towards the stage, Spiral Moon heart Rod in hand to cut off anyone who goes after them, ready to catch her Tiara as it cuts back across.

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

There is a small piece of the Magic Knight of Wind which regrets the men in their suits getting blown away that violently. However, that piece of her is miniscule compared to the knowledge that they *totally* had it coming, by dint of their willingness to trample everyone *else's* dreams and hopes and loves underneath their own unholy desire for power - an insatiable hunger, an unquenchable thirst, a formless *want* which can never be satisfied save by the total subjugation of everyone, everything, that does not willingly serve them.

A barrier of wind blasts into existence in front of the Wind Knight and her green-haired companion, long enough to blunt a stray shockwave of force and a few arcs of fire. Then there's a brief lull, and their paths diverge; Ferio goes to help make sure that people are getting out *safely*, while the Wind Knight barrels towards the stage in as straight a line as she can go ...

Which isn't very, truth be told. There are fleeing civilians, and she wants to let them get past without difficulty; this tends to divert the green-clad Magic Knight towards the middle of a section of seats, vacated by attendees now headed for the aisles but forcing her to clamber over the backs of each row in turn, at least until she can start navigating on the backs or arms thereof.

And no sooner has she managed to procure that swifter route than she has to start dodging things again. Shouldn't the security forces be getting their patrons to safety -

Her sword materializes in her hands to block even faster than she can think 'wait, that's not a security guard'. Instead, one of the golden-masked swordsmen has managed to intercept her, and the Wind Knight frowns behind her glasses. "I'm afraid you've chosen a terrible night to get in my way, swordsman-san," she says mildly, her blade locked with his; he backs away for a moment, making for the aisle but ready to attack once again, and she recognizes his stance as something akin to a fencer's. Not like Umi-san, but ... more efficient, more pragmatic, less sporting. More brutal, more concerned with piercing through an enemy than scoring points under a judge's discerning eye.

The Wind Knight can be just as pragmatic and efficient, though. When her enemy charges in again, her sword slashes up at just the right instant and angle to slap his aside - and then she cuts loose with her magic, one advantage that the masked youth can't match. A simple Winds of Admonishment holds him still, but she whacks him (carefully) over the head with the flat of her blade for good measure before moving on, leaving him struggling but - for now - bound in her wake.

The aisle is clear now, except for a couple more security guards, and they don't seem too concerned about their putative allies in the crossfire. The Wind Knight grimaces, hunkering down and conjuring a fresh wind barrier to deflect the bullets (or most of them - she'll have some holes to heal up later, when the adrenaline subsides and pain sets in), followed by a Storm-Dance of Kamaitachi to hurl the guards from their feet; *then* she charges up the aisle, heading for the stage. Ducking another masked young swordsman, she smashes his blade straight out of his hand and elbows him (most impolitely, to be sure) in the face. It's not going to keep him for long, but it buys her another second or two to advance towards where the Master Key hovers on-stage; she can almost reach it.

She dismisses her sword; its bulk will slow her down. And she leaps, a conjured tailwind boosting her ...

Her fingers brush against it, her hand closes around it.

And in the moment that she grasps the Key, she knows *this* is her ideal world, or so close to it that she has no wish to be granted. Certainly there are things she'd wish for, but right now, she wishes most for Tokyo to be exactly as it is. The only thing she wants is to get the Master Key to safety - wherever that may be.

Time to leave. If the Key grants her insight as to where it may be safest, she'll take note of it.

In the meantime? She could PROBABLY use some help getting out with her prize, and she totally knows it; she's got two angry young swordsmen in golden masks coming after her, and probably a lot of comparably irate security guards who don't care how bulletproof she might be ...

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

Bare brown fingers close on the Garnet Rod, smearing a single line of blood along the shining metal. The closet walls flicker around Setsuna and she tries to brace herself and fails, gasping as four years of choking, layered reality slough away.

Sailor Pluto's lungs fill with real Tokyo air and the shouts of magical girls resound in her ears, and even she rebounds off of the Key's sphere of force she smiles. In such a very short time (especially measured against such a very long life) this place has become a... home. A place where the people she love are. It's a fresh realization, that she /can/ have a home that is neither the long-lost Silver Millennium of the past nor the shining promise of a Silver Millennium in the future.

She'll defend it, and try to ignore the ghostly hollows in her heart where four years of caring for a quiet, dark-eyed stepdaughter once took up residence.

All of this flashes through Pluto's agile mind in an instant, while she still somersaults away from the stage. Not one to waste effort or momentum, she harnesses that motion and launches Rod-first at an onrushing white-clad Prince. The echoes of four years of sublimated resentment drive her, the haft of the Garnet Rod connecting with his golden mask or his falling sword -- *clack* *clack* *clack*, as regularly as a sewing needle rose and dipped, in another lifetime.

She fights without defending herself, throwing body and staff between ambitious men and the Key to the City. She's aware of a green-clad Knight of the Wind taking custody of it, of the vast draconic presence dominating the concert hall, just as she feels the occasional sword thrust or punching fist as they connect past her whirling onslaught.

She's not fighting for herself. She's fighting for the city and all of the girls in it, fighting for her Princess and all she represents. Pluto will save this shining future, give everything to ensure that the world spins on as it's meant to. Sailor Moon's sparkling tiara cuts between Pluto and the Prince she squares off again, and in its twinkling wake she presses the attack and forces him back with the sheer fury of her blows.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet awakens from the vision with magic cresting at a virtual peak, riding the true joy of her magical being, letting it flow without restraint!

Though the exact memories of the Searrs Future fade by the second, the emotional strength she felt at its end remains with her. Garnet takes a momentary glimpse into the future of her own. She seems satisfied with what she sees, and then, she's gone.

A cadre of guards and a pseudo-prince, seeing an opening, head for the stage, when a blur of momentum swoops between their group descending on Fuu! It's the Leader of the Crystal Gems, who appears sweeping her foot along, drawing a line in front of herself and the Knight of Wind as she flows into a guard-stance and shakes her head "No" at them.

Perhaps it was the part of her that loves the thrill of battle, but this sequence of events happens so quickly that the unlucky guards don't have time to halt their steps, and so it seems as part of one continuous motion that they cross the line, and Garnet brings her rear gauntlet around and overhead to smash into the ground sending a shockwave of force towards them, in hopes of knocking them away from Fuu and helping her secure her escape!

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Uranus [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbJVzQEp-es

The concrete runs out fast, and Haruka is crunching leaves with her dress shoes as she walks backwards, skinny, malnourished urban trees passing as she gains distance. The yawning gap over the road seems to distend with every step. Her legs quiver.

The phone is buzzing.

It's all there in her head. The endless gut-hollowing leap. The air beneath her, gravity waxing as momentum wanes. Like it used to be. Simple.

Once she was so young. She was never sore, and a strange girl with the sort of eyes you could die inside watched her and drew pictures, and Haruka poured water across her sweaty head and pretended not to notice. She even remembers the pencil tucked into the sketchbook, the shape of the worn eraser, the emerald green metal pinching it into place. God help her.

Haruka crouches, wriggles a finger into her collar and works open a button, then two. She lets that hand fall to the ground, two fingers against the cold moist earth. She breathes clouds as the lights in the distance twirl to spiked stars in her eyes. Ten meters.

The phone is buzzing.

It happens in her legs and shoulders. She and the earth are an instrument. She stretches out from it, her leg pushing, pushing. She doesn't run. The ground fires her like a ballista. Her limbs and motions are inhumanly long, her knee cutting high.

It's ten meters. It's ten meters because she's forgetting why she wanted all this every day, because the woman she is is fading and the man she's become withers with it, because Michiru will never stitch a wound named Haruka. It's ten meters because redemption is 1.05 meters.

Haruka's arms slice the air as her shoe clacks into the concrete. Three steps now. The first for power. The second to aim. By the third the arrow is already loosed. She has only to lift her feet, tuck her knees. Fly.

The phone buzzes one last time.

The ground rips open beneath her, a chasm extending forever in both directions, streaking lines and glistening black far below. Haruka inhales and it feels like her lungs fill with the entire sky, stars and all. Gravity claws at her, stealing her momentum, but the time has not come where it is stronger than her. Not yet. Not yet.

She's smiling so wide now, collar rippling around her chin, the hem of her pants flooded with air, nothing beneath her feet but empty air. So much. Enough. Lift drains from her, she rises slower and slower. Equilibrium hits. She's floating.

The world shatters as Haruka smashes through it, a bullet through a pane, and hits the ground on bare booted legs. Her brow is clean and braced with diadem, her fists are smoothly gloved, a ribbon sways gently on her sturdy chest. Twin lines of tears streak her face unnoticed as she turns her hard eyes first to Sailor Pluto, then to Sailor Moon.

"All you had to do was ask," she says. Her eyes crinkle a little. Her voice is hoarse with fondness.

Then, stalking forward, she shoulders aside a guard forcefully, proceeding in a straight line, ignoring all foes. She identifies the white-cloaked prince who is, at the moment, striking most fiercely, controlling his own space, standing most proudly. The champion. No one else will do. Her glove creaks as her knuckles flex, and she hauls back her fist during the last few steps, rips it at his jawline.

She is Sailor Uranus, and she will never stop fighting.

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Ballroom Blitz https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cN9jTnxv0RU

Yes. Yes, there are the screams.

As gunfire abuses the beautiful acoustics of this space, as swords ring like bells as they clash against each other, as pieces of the ceiling indavertantly hung on the horns of a dragon tumble on down to smash into the stage -- it's complete chaos, it's very real danger, and the normal people (to the extent that these Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous contestants can be called normal) are getting out, out, out.

Ironically, those least endangered are the ones that many of the magical girls are seeking to bloody. These aren't throwaway princes, no cannon fodder they -- anonymity does not mean namelessness. One whitecloak raises his katana and takes Miroku on it squarely, sparks flashing as they strain back and forth (though Mikoto's got the advantage in raw strength, and he starts to sweat as he realizes it), and Lancelot is sorely beset indeed by the three he chooses to engage, able to fight only defensively, only to keep himself upright, until he meets up with his allies, maiden and dragon. Of course, then Shizuru arrives...

Even the security guards are so much more than security guards. A briefing alone can save lives, and does, tonight, though enchanted kevlar also plays a role, and it helps that Sailor Moon seems to be shooting to blind. Not all distractions are as pretty: Homura's shotgun blasts off a chunk of the backstage door -- unexpectedly, also a security door -- that Adam Searrs is shuttled through, and that's the last anyone sees of him, or of any of the other men who laid hands on the Master Key, men whose names didn't appear on the official invite list, because organizers don't require invitations.

For a moment, it seems like the fiery source of the dank-smelling emergency sprinklers will be what grabs the greater attention of the room, but the minute Fuu's hands close around the Master Key, that is no longer the case. (It's an electric feeling, holding that three-foot long silver Key, but the tingles grant no further insights than a sense of tremendous nascent power, world-changing potential. Whatever her will or lack thereof, it seeks to be unleashed -- though it's unclear exactly how to do so.) To the extent that they can do so without getting themselves instantly wrecked, everyone is abandoning their positions to head Fuu's way. Sailor Pluto's already making a great start of defending Fuu -- her dancing partner will be going nowhere else, and he groans as Fuu starts to make her way out, unable to do a single thing about it. Garnet intercepts the next group, and renders the guards unconscious in a smattering of moments, while the prodigal knight meets her gauntlet with his longsword, commencing a more serious engagement! And Sailor Uranus makes her own proposal of the last Prince standing without a serious partner. Tossing his sword away, he wipes blood from his lip with the back of his hand, narrows his eyes, and closes (his fist, and in spatial sense, as well), corps-a-corps responded to in kind.

There are sirens on the way -- covering Fuu's escape is going to be a task of desperate, raw necessity, but making it a controlled retreat for everyone may also be in order.

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

Homura glances, in time to see Fuu get the Key. She can accept that. If she needs it, she can come get it later. That leaves the guards -- and the masked men, so skilled -- and her eyes narrow. She whirls, firing a few shots at the nearest one with a mask. She takes a couple shots, before she leaves the door she blasted a hole through in her wake.

She doesn't speak to Fuu. Another glance, and then she runs. She swings her gun up. Her eyes, briefly, lock onto Sailor Pluto. She doesn't say anything -- right now, she can risk the retaliation.

She vanishes in a blink.

Then she appears near the front of the room. Her hand pulls a flash bang from her shield. She throws it, underhanded; there is a brilliant flash of light when it explodes.

After that, Homura is gone, having ducked through a door.

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

Three blades on one, and Lancelot was holding his own. Kind of. Well he's standing upright at least. He grits his teeth, it was clear that he was going to have to find a way to step it up. He crouches low and cries, "FLASH BANG!" Sending out a blast of lighting that explodes with thunder at eye level to the group he is facing. He pants heavily and looks back to make sure Mai is okay. Which of course she is, because DRAGON. He has enough time to have this thoguht when it is split by Merlin shouting in his ear over the Blue Tooth. "LANCELOT! LOOOK OUT!"

Muscle memory from kendo, from fighting as Lancelot, and of course from BEING Lancelot veteran of a hundred battles, allows him to move swiftly. His muscle scream, as it's a ear thing, but blue lighting collides with red ligthing with a loud clang. Lancelot locks eyes on the balckness where the golden mask hides the owners eyes and grins. "Oh good. They sent a real challenger." He pushes off, lashing out wiht a swift roundhouse and leaps back calling out, "LIGHTNING SLASH!" Arondight sends a wave of lighting rippling toward the masked Shizuru, arcing and jumping in a wave of electrical power. Given the amount of water falling from the sprinkler system this creates an immense light show of exploding water drops, filling the air with the stench of ozone and sending lightning not just at the intended target, but in every direction.

Lancelot lands in a crouch, and then springs when the Lightning Slash creates the immense light show. He sprints and taps the Blue Tooth, "Merlin! Are you two clear?!"

Merlin's voice comes in. "Yes, Azyana's Father (Nice man) grabbed her, and thus I after I yelled your warning. Are you alright boy?"

Lancelot sprints holding Arondight at the ready and grits his teeth, "Gotta make sure Kuga, Mikoto and Mai get out."

"Boy. Don't be stupid. She has a dragon, get yourself to safety, I promise they'll be fine."

He growls under his breath, but turns at a right angle, running through the back door and into the street. He pauses and looks around, wondering where to go from there...

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

'All you had to do was ask,'

Part of her remembers that stare across the hallway. That primal part of her deep down in her unconsciousness, where the stuff of nightmares from two lifetimes dwell. The rest of her doesn't- it's fast fading away, being replaced by the images of battle that fill the vacuum. But- tears sparkle in her eyes. The experience was so horrific, yet she can't help but smile. A single comment, gave her so much joy.

"I'll remember that. I'll remember, Uranus! I'll- I'll remember-" She chokes on the final words. The remaining context slips from her mind. The 'you're there for me' is gone. Maybe she meant that 'you're there to help?' instead. But she's already locked the feeling that she can never let herself become so helpless that she feels like couldn't even ask. Never again. It's her promise to herself, even if all else is gone.

And to preserve that joy, she finds ferocity, even if it's the ferocity of a gentle bunny. Catching her tiara with her free hand and putting it back to her forehead, she spots the Magic Knight of Wind grasping ahold of the key. "Please don't let go-" She says fervently unto her, "-please."

She does her best to cover her retreat, moving alongside Pluto to try to back her up, her rod catches a stray blow from a Prince's sword, as her body darts to the side as it skitters off as it narrowly misses her Fuku. Desperation gives her Moon Boot gravity, "Sailor Moon-" She launches forward with it outstretched, trying to catch them while their sword is wide, "-Kick!"

She uses the impact- if impact there be, to kick off, to launch herself backwards into the path of escape.

She finds herself looking at Uranus for a moment, trying to catch a glimpse of her eyes. So blue-

-she wonders if something smiles in them. Maybe that night against Hallowegg, she'd been so harsh but- maybe. She turns, and dashes after the Magic Knight, on the way out of this mess that is the hall.

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

The world is electric. For a moment, putting aside even the ongoing melee, Mai's attention snaps to the key. Someone has touched it- was this a mistake? How much can she trust in whatever hands have grasped the fate of the future?

But then...the future refuses to change. Fuu's ideal world is this one, or near enough that no jarring differences stand out. That's...fine with her. Certain people might have stepped in to claim the prize for 'safekeeping', but Mai...can live with this.

She would provide an escort. Part of her frankly wants to just serve as draconic cavalry for Fuu's escape. But among all those mysterious and menacing princes is one princess - or HiME, even. An unfamiliar one - those masks hide so much - but there's something about that polearm that just resonates with her.

Mai takes a breath. Accusations are nearly hurled, but...frankly, there are bigger problems to deal with right now. Those would-be dragonslayers have turned their attentions away from the whale in the room, and are getting ready to pursue the key they seek. As things stand, they'll just ignore anything but their prize.

Mai's right hand clenches tightly, as if to crush a little ring that no longer exists. "You know what? Searrs gets to build a new hall. Kagutsuchi! Let's give them something they can't ignore." There's a screech from Mai's Child that showcases the excellent acoustics of this hall one last time, and then cramped wings spread wide through a nearly-empty hall. Glass shatters as the wings slam into walls on either side, and those few remaining - all either serving or fighting against the golden masks, at this point - might bear witness to the waves of heat. They don't stop there, though...

Kagutsuchi strains, surges from the flames, and meets expensive architecture with raw power. It would be close - but a swiftly spat fireball reduces a load-bearing wall to rubble. From without, it seems as though the sudden and mysterious fire found some fantastic fuel - sheets of flame shear through the walls, lifting the ceiling several feet. Then, just as swiftly as it appeared, it vanishes - Kagutsuchi sinking back into the flames at some unspoken word, no longer bearing the weight of the roof on its back.

The damage is almost certainly done - structural integrity is a dream of the past, and much of the interior is now on fire anyway. And that's enough for Mai - praying that that's enough distraction for Fuu to make a quick exit, she rushes to join her fellow HiME. A suspicious glance for the woman with the naginata, whose motives will have to wait for another day - but she calls out to Mikoto that it's time to go.

Fortunately, the duo have a third friend - and a metal wolf is both swift and relatively subtle as far as steeds are concerned.

COMBAT: Mai Tokiha transforms into Mai-HiME!

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

It seems straightforward enough, given the power that was unleashed when Natsuna Sakurada-san simply *assembled* the Master Key, followed by the second wave thereof when the self-entitled men in their suits got *their* hands on it for a moment. But at this point, the Magic Knight of Wind is keeping one thing in mind above all else: Reality-warping *IS NOT* something to futz around with under - well, under *any* circumstances, in her case. Too many bad things can happen, no matter whether your intentions are selfish or selfless, sinful or sacred.

This is, quite simply, power that nobody should hold - and the Wind Knight has no idea whatsoever how to disassemble it, to turn it back into the seven singing keys. Getting it to the Magic Association might be for the best, but would it be safe even there? The Master Key wants to be used, and she can feel it; it takes a considerable effort of will to shore up her decision not to try anything, and the fact that the 'how' is now being obfuscated is actually kind of a relief.

A gun goes off, and the Wind Knight flinches rightwards and down, fortunately away from a bullet that would have tested her armor's resistance to gunshots. She can hear sirens approaching from outside as well, and a quick glance confirms that by dint of securing the Master Key, the Wind Knight has abruptly become very popular, in all of the worst possible ways.

But she's not alone. Garnet is protecting her, Sailor Pluto is holding some attention away from her, even Homura's flash-bang offers some help by throwing bad guys off-balance. And even those who aren't explicitly coming to the Wind Knight's defense are keeping the remaining bad guys occupied, to variously greater or lesser extents.

She nods (with a brief smile) to Sailor Moon, grasping the Master Key with both hands - and exits, shouldering open a door that was on its way closed (probably behind Homura; hopefully not behind Mr. Searrs, wouldn't THAT be embarassing). With Mai literally bringing the house down, there's no reason to stick around and *every* reason to vacate the premises with all alacrity.

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

Katana meets claymore, and Mikoto yells with the force of it. Titan meets titan, and they struggle together, but in the end, Mikoto's blade is one which breaks through all barriers. He must realise it, because he skillfully deflects with the last of his power - and so Miroku slices not through meat and bone but largely through the air, though it tears at clothing and perhaps even a little flesh as it scores its hard-won glancing blow.

And then the key is grasped, and her opponent turns his attention towards that. Mikoto turns her attention to following him - only to be distracted by a new arrival, another mask, this time a girl. Her weapon appears in the manner of HiMEs, and she brings it to bear against Lancelot, who brings forth a cascade of lightning which event catches against Mikoto's own skin. Kagutsuchi strives to destroy the very hall they're standing in, heat radiating through the water, a fireball to a load-bearing wall.

It's time to go, says Mai, and with only a moment's glare at the new enemies in front of her Mikoto backs up to leap upon Duran and make her escape with her fellow HiME.

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

Shizuru's eye darts once to the security door, as Adam Searrs is shuttled through, but it isn't an eye that can be recognized as her own. That's all it takes.

But then she's there lunging it at Lancelot, and the clang of their weapons rings under his voice, as far as this woman in black is concerned. "My, but you're a gracious partner," she answers mildly, and the rose crest on her left finger glints in the light as she shifts her weapon, but the sight of her is lost in the sudden burst of lightning that radiates all over. She couldn't dodge it, of course.

The stench stays in her nose for a few moments yet, as does the brief twitch in her hand, as the exploding water serves as a perfectly suitable barrier to prevent her pursuit.

Another glance, and this one about the room, where she... /doesn't/ see a key. Doesn't see a key, doesn't see a number of girls she'd seen earlier, had marked before. She lifts her head, then, hearing Mai's intentions, and more to the point, seeing Kagutsuchi...and friend.

"...My, my," she murmurs, "I suppose you /were/ angry."

When Mai looks at the mysterious woman in black, she only gets a small, unreadable smile in return.

With the key no longer in play, she glances to one of the Princes and shrugs, as if helplessly.

There's no need to run. She walks back towards the emergency exit, even as her soaked suit only gets more damp, and she considers the pain of the wound Lancelot gave her a suitable proof of her devotion to the cause for tonight.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Sparks fly as steel meets Love!

Garnet presses against the faux-Prince's blade, and after a tense few seconds, forces him from the guard, and brings a punch with her other hand which he blocks with a ring! Garnet brings another and another, and he blocks and blocks, meeting her punches with his blade! With her precognition, the force she usually channels and the blurring rate that she's throwing punches after a few minutes it might seem suspicious to anyone who has seen Garnet fight that he could be blocking them all. He's certainly practiced and fast of his own accord but it's almost like she's is aiming specifically for the sword, keeping the swordsman and his weapon busy (and blinded with sparks), while Fuu and the others makes their escape.

The prince gradually becomes incensed at the flow of things and goes for a final large overhand strike! his weapon flashes down...

And misses Garnet completely, her calm guiding her to dodge to the side.

"This was fun. Let's never do it again."

she quips and punches up towards his unguarded core, hitting in the gut hard enough to send him flying away towards the wall next to the one she broke down. Looking around to make sure Fuu has escaped, she leaps upwards through the rapidly deteriorating ceiling, and away from the burning concert hall.

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

Shizuru's eye darts once to the security door, as Adam Searrs is shuttled through, but it isn't an eye that can be recognized as her own. That's all it takes.

But then she's there lunging it at Lancelot, and the clang of their weapons rings under his voice, as far as this woman in black is concerned. "My, but you're a gracious partner," she answers mildly, and the rose crest on her left finger glints in the light as she shifts her weapon, but the sight of her is lost in the sudden burst of lightning that radiates all over. She couldn't dodge it, of course.

The stench stays in her nose for a few moments yet, as does the brief twitch in her hand, as the exploding water serves as a perfectly suitable barrier to prevent her pursuit.

Another glance, and this one about the room, where she... /doesn't/ see a key. Doesn't see a key, doesn't see a number of girls she'd seen earlier, had marked before. She lifts her head, then, hearing Mai's intentions, and more to the point, seeing Kagutsuchi...and friend.

"...My, my," she murmurs, "I suppose you /were/ angry."

When Mai looks at the mysterious woman in black, she only gets a small, unreadable smile in return.

With the key no longer in play, she glances to one of the Princes and shrugs, as if helplessly.

There's no need to run. She walks back towards the emergency exit, even as her soaked suit only gets more damp, and she considers the pain of the wound Lancelot gave her a suitable proof of her devotion to the cause for tonight, and she may need some of that proof. Tomorrow, she'll be prepared again to act ruthlessly on behalf of her accepted masters.

...But tonight, she's not interested in obviating her own reason for fighting for them.

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Uranus [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Uranus looks back over her shoulder, just once, as she enters the fray, as she steps inside a gate of clanging swords and straining arms. She, like Pluto and Homura, knows that these stories don't always end happily, that every fight can be your last. But this one she knows, somehow, she will be back from, and that knowledge is in the wolfish smile she gives Sailor Moon. There's something else there, too.

You'll be okay.

The Prince's jaw is hard, the body twisting behind it heavy with trained muscle. Good. It feels all the better to punch a spat of his blood into her glove, to shove her weight with joyous savagery through his face. It is the privilege of less-tried warriors to scorn sadism completely. You can only go so far as a pianist if you don't like playing piano.

"Good," Uranus praises as the man drops his sword. A kindred spirit in his way, isn't he? "Very good."

She lets him work her ribs a few times, through the impediment of her lowered elbows; they've taken worse. She strikes inside, hard to the midsection, then down and through, and finally throws her weight behind her knee, the combination carrying her forward apace. She tries to twist him into a shoulder throw, he spreads his stance and gets a leg inside, she shifts and claims an elbow. He changes strategy, then, offers her two seconds with his torso for the chance to get his limb free.

She takes it, of course. She knows what he'd be used to with magical girls. You know, he's got the size, the reach. The muscle.

Uranus draws her fist back. She's a little bigger than most.

A few more exchanges leave her panting, the corner of her lip purpled, her brow glistening with sweat. She can see the Key's gone--either Pluto's going to nab it on the way out or she's not, but it's out of her hands now. Time to go.

"Look what I can do," she says. She looks up, to the expensive box seats, far above. Not quite ten meters, though.

Uranus digs her ankles into the ground.