2017-01-23 - Shattered Labyrinth

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Title: Shattered Labyrinth

Reports of a powerful Witch feeding off of dockworkers in the winter storm sends hunters to Tokyo Bay, where they find some of their friends caught beneath the spell of a Witch's kiss as well. This scene was run across two OOC nights. Shattered Labyrinth is a continuation of the Witch (well, familiars) introduced in 2017-01-13 - Deepening Cold.


Sayaka Miki, Mami Tomoe, Eri Shimanouchi, Garnet, Fuu Hououji, Hikaru Shidou, Chitose Shiratori, Kasagami Araki, Nori Ankou, Mikoto Minagi, Takeo Akamizu


Tokyo Bay

OOC - IC Date:

01-23-2017 - 12-23-2014

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Music For Strings, Percussion and Celesta - Andante Tranquillo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3dR3McS69Y


This is the most severe winter storm in Tokyo's living memory, and with the age that old people can get to be in Japan, that's really saying something. One fringe benefit, though, are the ever-increasing number of snowmen adorning every conceivable outdoor surface, childlike and charming.

Or at least, it was a benefit until some dark force animated them in countless numbers and sent them to assault Awayuki Shopping Mall. They made their way into Snow Rain Ice Rink, apparently determined to enact some kind of evil ritual that felt very much like a summoning -- there's just something about summonings, isn't there, that lambent sizzle of nascent power ready to be unleashed that tickles the tongue and singes the nostrils?

But this effort was shut down by brave magical girls, the snowmen returned to chunks of ice.

The Puella Magi present knew that this wasn't the end of the matter... those were familiars. Somewhere, there must be a very potent Witch.


Not /every/ snowman in Tokyo was animated in the first place, but the many who were have, on the whole, not been replaced. That's because temperatures have continued to plunge, below the point where it is safe, much less fun, to spend a lot of time playing outdoors.

Seasonally prevalent facemasks have been upgraded to huge bundles of scarves, and goggles for those who can afford them. Winter gear stores are able to charge exorbitant prices, and even the ones who aren't gouging are running out of stock. A national emergency hasn't been declared yet, but people are beginning to whisper that it's only a matter of time.

It's never been more crucial for Tokyo to be able to receive supply ships, but this has led to unprecedented danger for its dockworkers. Police and firefighters have been enlisted to help clear paths and keep the docks as safe as possible, but more than one person slips and falls to their deaths every day. Morale is low, and plunging as quickly as the temperatures. Even for those who are naturally sunny, determined or just plain tough, it's all too easy to just... stop... moving.

And yet, frozen remains are rarely found. These disappearances make the news. Speculation abounds about what could be happening, where these missing people might be.

But some girls know -- or at least suspect.

Only Puella Magi can track down Labyrinths through their unique magical signatures, but more regular detective work makes it possible to do some triangulation, in this instance, simply because of the scale of the effect. Three workers were lost yesterday from Daizo Shipping, but thirteen from Hibachi International. And the snowstorm itself seems responsive somehow, if not responsible; even magical girls who weren't at the mall that fateful day might have been drawn here today by the immovable eye of the storm having been sighted totally, unnaturally stationary, about a quarter mile off the Hibachi docks, over the water.

Well -- over the ice.


It's a bizarre landscape, here. Not like the ice rink, which even at its most monster-infested enjoyed a relatively level playing field, enforced that way by zamboni every few hours. And not like the North Pole, though there's more validity to that analogy; whether or not it's that cold, what it is not, is endless.

There is a distinct horizon of ice-cold water, where white transforms into black. It's beyond that edge that the veils swirl, the layers and layers of bone-chilling lace that have suffused the streets of Tokyo with the same grim determination of a spider out to catch her last meal. They howl as they fall--

--but it's eerily silent, here in the center of the storm.

A stray snowflake occasionally dusts the already frosted palette. There's no way that the Bay snap-froze all at once; waves are not captured in detail. But there are places where they lapped upon the initial chilly seed, creating strange rises and treacherous falls. The wan beams of winter sunlight can't penetrate anywhere /but/ here at the eye, and they slip and slide along surfaces all a'twinkle, highlighting bits of sediment and detritus caught up in the ice. Trash sparkles beautifully, six feet under. And here and there, the irrepresible lights of Tokyo penetrate with a shocking glare of distant neon, of unstoppable LED -- not even the blizzard of the century can mute that display entirely.

No magic is required to make this place eerie and otherworldly beyond belief; it is wholly unlike anything, anywhere else on earth.

But there is magic here. Labyrinths unfurl on top of their victims like a Venus Fly Trap beneath its meal, but it takes a Puella Magi to deliberately open a pathway into a Witch's domain.

Even so, the spine-crawlingly awful feeling of presence is impossible to deny. The ignorant might feel a haunting; the informed only wish they were so lucky. Right at the corner of the eye, the ice seems to fade in and out, flickers that grow frustratingly steady when stared at straight on. The world has no heartbeat, and the frozen Bay no answering vibration, but even so, air crosses the tips of eyelashes and the backs of necks as though buoyed by massive lungs one moment, and completely dead, impossibly still, the next.

The world is quiet here, but quiet in exactly the way that a gruesome murder involving a brick, a shiv, and a lost element of surprise isn't.

OOC: If our Puella Magi want to open a portal to head inside, people are welcome to go through this round (or not). Next round, assuming we head that direction, I'll be describing the labyrinth.

COMBAT: Chitose Shiratori has fully healed herself.

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

Between the news of murders, a strange storm seemingly halted over Tokyo Bay, and that feeling of dread? Well, Kasagami Araki, Disciplinary Executive, is nothing if not curious. That particular dread isn't a kind she exactly is familiar with. And so it is, that Kasagami Araki lands atop a rooftop. Her black hair is shocked through with the red highlights of her henshin, her sword drawn and held against her shoulder. That black coat mostly conceals her Student Council uniform for once, given the weather.

There's even a red scarf over her neck, making her the picture of rose-covered, scented, and cloth-flapping glory that would give Tuxedo Kamen a run for his money. She whistles aloud to nothingness as she peers out at the frozen bay. Her heart hammers, gripped with both excitement and terror at the feelings emanating from places she can't find.

"Now /that/...is not your normal weather storm." She quips. Out comes a camera. Click! Click! Sometimes one has to capture moments of mother nature at work. And perhaps, more.

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYEALais0KE

She remembers what it was like two years ago. A day like this after playing outside she'd be snuggling up in a warm blanket by the fire, enjoying a cup of cocoa. Reading manga she'd bought as a well deserved reward for exams. Looking out the window and thinking about how the snow would be good for the flowering trees. Maybe even taking the time to draw a brief sketch of that still landscape of white through the window.

This kind of storm was bad enough that it shouldn't bring nostalgic thoughts, but it did anyhow- because she'd rather be inside. Not bundled up beyond recognition, taking one step after another in a swirling storm of wrong. She'd heard about the snowmen. ... Heard Mai rant quite a bit about it in fact while Eri in turn teased her about it being a pretty eventful 'date' for her.

And maybe her initial thought upon reading the news on her cell phone about the bodies had been- 'Is Aki-san slacking off?' but upon thinking about it a little more, she'd taken a different train than her usual.

Her soul gem really felt like the only source of warmth, and even that was like cupping a match between her mittened hands but- it definitely confirmed that this wasn't the result of negligence.

That brief scent of rain before it was swallowed up in the bone numbing, nasal congestion inducing chill marks her arrival. To her it made for a brief and bizarre contrast as she arrived- like ethereal prey sensing the presence of a tangible predator and being entirely uncaring about it- like it didn't even consider it a threat, and she couldn't entirely blame it. She stood just where the docks met the bay-

A grey painted metal door. Upon it are the inverse shadows of words, as if text had been there before a nuclear blast hit.




I dId THis.

But when she looks again it's a monochromic horizon of black meeting white across a bay without waves. To anyone looking at her front during those moments, she looks a little stunned. But that quickly fades, as words leave her mouth, making her tongue feel as numb as if she'd stuck it to a frozen pole. "Who did this?" She rasps.

COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi transforms into Puella Magi Eri!

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

Mami Tomoe remembers the bitter cold of the night at the mall when the snowmen came. She remembers, too, the feeling like a pit in her stomach of seeing her own snowman attacking; worse, of shooting it herself, yellow scarf and memories and all. The whole night sticks in her mind.

But she has a new memory of bitter cold to make right now. Mami has been walking over the ice, only her magical grace and agility keeping her upright on the rough surface. She might have gone over... But what is there out here to latch onto with her ribbons? Besides, she's not alone. But her arm briefly rises to rub the other arm against the cold, Mami unable quite to hide her discomfort out here.

It was the reports that gave her a place to hunt, and then a calculated risk to move on hunting business through the territory of another... But no one claims this far out. Nothing /happens/ this far out. The fact that it is concerns Mami. She can't leave it to the closest Puella Magi alone.

It could be beautiful here in a way. But Mami comes to a stop towards the veils she doesn't consider beautiful at all. The golds and blacks of her outfit stand out on the ice sheet, but her face is red with cold already. That feeling of wrongness, that /presence/--neither is unfamiliar. But it still makes her spine shiver like the first time. She knows in a general sense what awaits... But a general sense isn't safe.

"The wind," the blonde Puella Magi murmurs, and takes a few more steps forward. She's already well past the docks. "Here we are," she says, stepping to half-turn towards Nori and closing her glowing palm. "This is a good enough location. It's time to go in." A pause, and a look to Sayaka. She smiles faintly to the both of them. Mostly she's let Sayaka do the talking out here, but now...

She lifts a hand and opens the portal. "Be careful." Mami steps through carefully.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji transforms into Wind Knight!

COMBAT: Mami Tomoe transforms into Puella Mami!

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"It's a little harsh, isn't it?" says la Sirene du Nord.

Yes, she is the one who stands for the cold winds from the North, but this is something rather above and beyond. She is perhaps not suffering from the cold, but she has her collar drawn tight, and her posture is rather conservatively curled-up. She holds her Brazen Pharos, but it is a light that never warms, even if it were open now.

"Winter," la Sirene says, "may not always be so bad. But I think that ice was never the friend of people." She turns her pale face towards Mami as the portal opens, nods, and steps forwards with care but not reservation.

After all: she's with her friends, isn't she?

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet had seen many, many Earth winters, but never anything like this.

Especially not so close to home.

Since the winter storm appeared around the time Steven returned with tales of living snowmen at the mall, Garnet had spent a significant amount of time seemingly observing the storm, needing neither sleep nor food. There's a way inside, she knows there is, but on her own, she's only been able to try and divine it with Future Vision and checking every possible action for results... takes a long long time... and she'd been at it for a while.

The flickering, breathing malice taunts her.

There's something inside, specifically denying her entrance, and Garnet scans the future for the conditions where it might emerge, open the way on its own and... nothing...

But there are other paths from the outside. Those who can force open the door where she cannot.

That potential becomes the present as the Puella arrive and gather at the place where the docks meet the bay. Garnet is far enough away that she doesn't arrive in time to enter the Labyrinth in the same moment as the other Chevaliers, but follows their lead.

A few bounding leaps across the snowy beach, and she enters the portal a few moments after, intending to catch up with them as soon as she can.

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

Chitose kind of likes the cold. Her birthday is tomorrow, after all. The biting sting of cold temperatures is almost soothing, really.

But honestly, this sort of freezing cold is a little too much. It would honestly not do for the world to freeze to death. Not when she has things to do.

So that's why she's here. She may still be a novice in magical matters, here on the eve of her nineteenth birthday, but she might as well try. Her braid is wrapped around her stomach once to keep it from flapping about in this wind. And she's transformed, too. Possibly to try and see if her barrier jacket provides any form of resistance against this... this cold. Is it working?

This is where Chitose is right now, crouched on the roof of a building near the docks, her Device arm across her chest, using White Omen as a bulkwark against the cold. She's still shivering.

So the answer is 'Yes, but only slightly.'

Finally, a voice speaks up. <The wind is softer down on the ground.>

No response.


Finally a sigh, visible as it is audible, as Chitose rolls her eyes. "Oh, fine." And with that, she pushes herself off the building, magic spells slowing her descent to the ground. "I just want to flyyy!" The woman complains, almost to the point of whining. "It's too cold to fly." Soon enough, she starts to trudge further into the docks, looking around for either other people or the cause of what's going on.

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

"It's all right to skip just this one, you know? It's negative a million outside," Sayaka had told Madoka. "You'll be a tiny pink popsicle. You think my parents are gonna let me marry an icecube? You think I want the shop lady to laugh at me when I wheel a block of ice inside and ask her to fit it for a bridal gown? Then you better get your little butt under the kotatsu! I'll stop by after the Witch is a Grief Seed, okay?"

Sayaka hadn't gotten away that easily, though. She had been to the actual North Pole when transformed and not come away the worse for it, but Madoka had insisted on extra protection for her best friend. Sayaka didn't resist too hard; she loved Madoka dearly and would wear her token like a true Chevalier on the battlefield. Even if that token was...


Sayaka stands resolute in the driving snow, taking stock of the area from atop a crate near Mami. Sacral white and loyal blue, her breastplate and boots flecked with snow, she regards the frozen waste of a bay with resolute jaw and steely eyes. But there is a second face above her tomboyish visage, smiling brightly with big black marble eyes. It is Pikachu, his shiny red cheeks and yellow head bright even in the colorless grim of a frigid winter. Long black-tipped ears hang, one alert and the other drooping awkwardly across Sayaka's cheek. The knit Pokemon cap is the thickest and warmest in Madoka's collection, and she would not send Sayaka out in anything less today. When Sayaka leaps from her crate, Pikachu's ears bob wildly.

"All right. Stay together, Chevaliers! Mami-senpai has killed more Witches than I've eaten mochis, and I love mochi. We'll take care of this Witch no problem." With a firm, dual nod from herself and Pikachu, Sayaka steps through the portal with her partner.

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

The attack at the mall is burned into the Wind Knight's memories as well, but her memories of that battle are almost-mercifully short; she was separated from her allies and all but subdued, fortunate to escape with her life when other magical girls thwarted the attack as a whole. Just thinking back on it chills her bones anew - a chill that is only re-emphasized by the wind as she accompanies Mami and the others, careful of her footing.

If Mami had said 'nothing happens this far out' openly, though? The Magic Knight of Wind would be able to speak otherwise. Just being on the ice this far out on the Bay, she can remember a couple of past battles. The final surge of activity from the Jewel Seeds; the ritual to unmake the Key to the City ... those happened further out than they are now, she thinks. She isn't exactly checking the GPS on her phone, though - indeed, her phone is secreted away in the 'inventory' space of her glove-jewel, available if she really needs it, but unlikely to survive exposure to this bitterly arctic chill.

.... come to think of it, the last really big fight against the Dark Kingdom's forces, before Queen Beryl forcibly exiled the magical girls of Earth into other dimensions, en masse, was in even more forbidding cold than this.

None of these memories are particularly comforting ones to the Wind Knight - or more accurately, to Fuu Hououji. But *as* the Wind Knight, she was told of the situation (even if only vaguely) and she offered her assistance, and with Mami opening the portal, the Wind Knight bows briefly in thanks and acknowledgement before heading through the portal with everyone else. As usual, it's good to see so many other magical girls gathered for a fight like this one.

However, after the fight at the mall, she has to wonder if their combined magic, power, and determination will be enough ... but she sets her doubts aside, focusing her will for the battle ahead.

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

Being drawn into a labyrinth is often an almost gentle process -- the changes happen one detail at a time, until the landscape is unrecognizably strange, rather like putting a frog into a pot of cold water and setting it on to boil. The poetry of reality initally unspools in rigid iambic pentameter, until it realizes that you can't actually say 'iambic pentameter' without breaking scansion and by then you're already the unholy lovechild of a particularly obtuse haiku metaphor and e.e. cummings.

Going through a portal, the boiling water churns from the get-go, scalding bubbles jamming under eyelids and popping them open, open, open, red-veined and screaming tears that evaporate instantly into the steam anyway. Reality's already departed the realm of poetry entirely and left you with nothing but a koan for your trouble. When your title is untitled, do you say it out loud or not? Maybe the indecision, the sound of hesitation, is the proper meter after all.

Which is all an elaborate way of saying that it is exceedingly dark on the far side of the portal, dark like the hinge of an unasked question, until someone steps on the train tracks.

For a brief second it could have been a xylophone, with the solid heels of a magical girl the perfect mallet, and each rainbow-hued key sounding notes wrung from digital media, ringing tones that would be banned from any civilization, the kind of sound pollution ordinance that is the aural equivalent of the Clean Water Act. But there's no regulation here, only an increasingly intricate symphony of beeps and boops, which crescendo into a roar as the train goes by.

Which is why it's not a xylophone.

There are other tracks to jump on to get out of the way, struts barely glowing and humming, as their trains are presumably still far away. But the incoming train blasts through, unsafe at any speed, two headlights multiplying into four, eight, twelve.

After it's gone by, though, warming the air in its wake, it's not a train after all. More like a mine cart crossed with a caboose, with lights on every side, plus two more on the helmets of the vaguely humanoid figures which pump their see-saw of a crank back and forth. They're going too fast to see at all clearly, though.

Even with the tracks more or less lit, though, the black underneath is absolute.

Don't fall.

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

Setsuna Meioh :|

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

That...that is a lot of magical girls. In between her photography, Kasagami pulls the thing away. First, Eri in the distance. An unknown. Then Mami reaching for the same point, Sayaka...so many others. Kasagami weighs the risks. At least two of them probably want to put sharp or bullet-like objects in her flesh. The rest are unknown quantities. And yet, there's a lot of them.

Curiousity wins out. Down she leaps, and follows after, probably one of the last ones into the portal.

And then, a dark, forboding place. Despair washes over her, the power of a Witch's labyrinth chilling her bones. Her foot finds a...train-track? Realization of what it is comes only at the last second. She's a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming train. Only instinct saves her from becoming Kassie-roadkill.

A straight leap high into the air, only for her foot to catch a flowing platform of rose-petals! All around her, the crimson flowers spread their scent, resisting, /daring/ the darkness to devour their floral beauty! And then she pushes off to the next set of tracks in a large spin. And so on to the next. Another oncoming light. This time she moves forward: leaping, a mighty arc into the air, and then her vindictive blade comes down with both hands as she pivots mid air. A dance of steel, pumping legs, and red roses lay her a path as she lashes out at one of the oncoming trains. It's likely to be a shallow, testing thing as her momentum carrier her forward. Despite the terror at such strange, alien things gripping her heart, she's grinning like a madwoman. Adrenaline rushes. Whatever they are, she fully intends to see what they're made of.

Kasagami Araki doesn't back down from a challenge.

COIN FLIP: Chitose Shiratori flips a coin. It lands on tails!

COMBAT: Nori Ankou transforms into La Sirene du Nord!

COMBAT: Chitose Shiratori transforms into Barrier Jacket!

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

Mami could make a joke about ice and Nori's comment, but it doesn't quite feel right to her for the moment, and the time passes before she has the chance. It might've been a good joke, too.

She certainly can't comment on that hat of Sayaka's, or how adorable it is. But the hat's wearer bolsters her own confidence as she steps into the unknown, and a faint smile makes its way onto her lips before the world begins to change around them. Sayaka's words stick in her mind. But then...

Mami closes her eyes for a moment at the utter darkness, stepping carefully forward with utmost consideration of where her next step is going. But whatever she might've done without light she suddenly does in a fury of sound. "--!" She doesn't have time to talk; a glance down at the tracks, a glance up at the coming lights, and Mami steps and leaps to the next track, and immediately thereafter to the next, and would want to appreciate the warmth if not for the fact that it catches her looking around to try to find the others--and looking down into the black underneath in case anyone falls. "Everyone?"

She finds herself more tense; she thinks she spots someone else, someone... rose-petaly.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet enters the labyrinth to find the others and instead finds, darkness. But there is light in the distance, approaching from up ahead... someone coming back?

No, it's approaching far too quickly!

The groaning sound of the train tracks as Garnet bounds off of them is lost in the din of the oncoming locomotive, as is the sound of her landing on another track the side of it, (which might be felt).

Her reaction was thankfully swift enough, and she exhales a sigh of relief. Garnet hadn't stopped a train in many years, and in this unearthly place, she doesn't know what these trains really are, or whether she could stop them, and there isn't enough ground or room for error to test her luck.

In fact, there doesn't seem to be ANY ground below these tracks... It was a close one.

She smells something ahead. Roses? Garnet is taken aback, and proceeds cautiously, lest it be a lure to a greater danger.

She focuses magic through the gemstones on her hands to emit a dark red tinged cone of light ahead and temporarily dismisses the gauntlet on her right hand to let it beam properly, and continues forward...

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

Into the dark...

The intense dark, the screaming noise. Some small part of la Sirene du Nord, or perhaps Nori Ankou, wonders if this is the world ending. The train track is coming forwards, though, and the sounds are becoming more clearly tonal. Music. Music is not typically a herald of the end of all things. TYPICALLY.

Given the dark though, she opens her Pharos.

Which doesn't help - or does it? The inverted light is dim now, not an attack. La Sirene can see through it, at least, and it falls on-- "Oh!" La Sirene says, for reasons that are not clear, but then she turns the light away from the leaping Kasagami. She's here, la Sirene thinks with consternation and surprise. Is it a coincidence, or does she also know--

Oh, right. The train.

La Sirene leaps to a neighboring track as she answers Mami: "I am safe!" For now, anyway. FOR NOW...

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Her eyes pick out the gold and black on a sheet of white- and blue with yellow and red and- what was Sayaka even wearing? She couldn't tell from this distance- but she spots more besides. But while that gives her pause- that won't stop her from stepping upon the ice. Picking out Chitose atop the warehouse, she gives a wave, then points- as if indicating she's going on ahead and to back her up, or she'll back her up. Maybe.

Whereas the Disciplinary Executive just gets this questioning look, but she's snapping pictures like some kind of tourist in an array of flashes, and Eri just shrugs and moves onto the ice.

While it's flat, she instinctively knows the right way to prevent any of the labyrinths from unfurling atop her. Her destination is the same open portal. And Mami had already done her such a grand favor of opening it on her own. She double times it like a speed skater, gliding through the danger and upon the final stretch, she spins into a counterclockwise motion pushes up with her right toe into a flip jump that takes her right through the portal.

One detail at a time changes around her. And when she lands-

The darkness stretches onward. But there's the perfect percussive note of heels that causes her to twitch under the aural torture. And- instinct takes over and she leaps right off the tracks to another set, spinning simultaneously in a snap of her skirt to check what's actually coming. It was a pretty close call, a swoosh of air that billows her clothes and hair just a little as she lands backwards on adjacent tracks.

It's too fast in her vision to notice more than lights and the see-saw up and down motion of the mine cart, and check to make certain the tracks are the only visible footing. There are Chevaliers everywhere but she isn't here to team up with them, to get there acquiescence to be here- not that they'd give it, and she doesn't care. If they decided to fight her in a labyrinth then she'd just deal with that- but she'd just give them a warning.

Coils of vine wrap around her hand, it's hard to pick out people in the dark other than light of the train tracks, but Mami Tomoe and Sayaka Miki had their own presence, she cups her opposite hand over her mouth and calls out. "I see the two of you brought the gang with you! I'm surprised Tomoe- thought you'd still be laid up in bed after all that." The cupped hand becomes outstretched fingers, waggled at the yellow outline in particular, she takes off into a run down her tracks. "Try not to do anything stupid! This is the sort of place where you'd end up regretting it real quick."

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

It's far from the first time that the green-clad Magic Knight has been grateful that her innate magic is of the wind element; as she crosses the distance from one set of tracks to another, she harbors a fleeting flicker of hope that it *won't* be the last. Then her booted feet touch a solid surface, and the Wind Knight tries once again to get her bearings.

Tracks. Not 'trains' exactly, but rail-riding vehicles, one definitely as it goes past, likely more. A yawning abyss, a darkness more absolute than the unrendered blankness which frames old video games which didn't bother with an actual background behind the action.

.... she's been cooped up inside too much, a corner of Fuu's mind thinks, before the vagaries of being the Wind Knight override such trifles once more.

Another leap, a distinctive updraft ensuring she makes it across, and she alights closer to her allies once again. "Did we lose anybody coming through?" she asks first, looking around once more, trying to get a head-count and probably failing. "If anyone falls, call out and I'll see if I can catch you ..."

She remembers a desperate battle atop the fuselage of a plane in flight, heading from Narita to Okinawa, and wonders if thinking about video games *wouldn't* be preferable.

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

Chitose, also rogue and not a Chevalier, does not initally see the group. But eventually she sees someone waving her somewhere. Chitose squints, an action made harder by her glasses freezing over. Eventually, she finally lifts her glasses and let her eyes do the work. Was that Eri? Her vision might be really blurry, but it is better than ice. She nods, a little bit, before sliding her glasses back down and heading towards the portal. Her gait is slow, mostly due to the cold, of course. It gets to the point where Chitose hops into the portal, almost, hoping to find less frozen ground. Well, she finds it less frozen, it's very true. She also finds it less ground in general, as one foot lands on a track, but the other foot finds nothing.

"Woah woah!" Shouts Chitose as she wobbles and tips. But after a moment of this, her other foot manages to find the other track...

Only to see the train coming. Instinct kicks in, she leaps up, and magic follows, letting her soar above the train as it goes on by underneath her. "What was that?!"

That was unexpected. Are you all right?

"Yes, I suppose." Chitose turns, looking around, just in time to see another train. In flight still, she slips and dodges her way past that train, and then up some more tracks and past some more trains. "Okay, this is strange. Where are we?"

I don't know. But on the bright side, you're flying.

"Yes, but it's not as fun when I have to do it." She sighs again. Her eyes scan the area for a moment, only to see Eri run down the tracks.

She follows after a few moments, flying down the tracks.

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

It never feels less weird, does it?

The sudden transition of physical(?) law leaves Sayaka disoriented for a moment. The light and sound of the tracks fascinates her, and she taps deliberately on the one she's standing on. She may be fortunate she has Mami there to call out a warning.

"Train!" Sayaka shouts, for anyone even less alert than she had been. Stabbing a sword into the side of the tracks, she holds her arms out to balance and trots out onto its wobbling surface. Mami sails gracefully across to the other track, Garnet leaps powerfully on mighty legs, Nori flutters behind elegantly, Fuu rides the wind, and Sayaka just stares at them all in disbelief. Why didn't she just do /that/?

"Poop poop poop!" Sayaka curses in panic as the approaching cart vibrates her sword violently. As it clacks past just feet behind her and jolts the sword she's standing on, she windmills her arms hard, saying "poop" a few more times as the sword bobs up and down dizzyingly. Ducking suddenly lest the strange creatures aboard decide to take a swipe at her, she crouches as the caboose rumbles by, then jumps directly backwards to land with a musical clonk on the tracks again.

Standing up panting, Sayaka waves to her fellow Chevaliers on the other tracks. "I'm okay!" she announces. "Um, Mami-senpai, can you make us a ribbon bridge between the tracks, so we don't need to jump around? Hang it from the crossbeams, so it doesn't get cut by the cart..."

Sayaka tugs Pikachu down closer to her skull, not out of fear or cold, but to avoid losing him next time things get exciting. Returning her attention to the tracks as one pings an odd, electronic sound in reaction to her shifting her weight, Sayaka frowns, gently tapping the one she's standing on. She takes four more steps across the tracks, careful, one by one, listening each time. "A, C, F..." she murmurs to herself. She tests A a few times. "No, A minor..."

She turns back to the other track where everyone else is. "Hey, watch!" She hops with both feet on C, then jumps over to G on one foot, then leaps far across a good number of tracks to get back to A minor, then almost as far the other way to F. Getting the hang of it, she starts repeating the motion like she were playing DDR, with slight variations.

"Hwen I /fin/ maiserf in /time/ of trabble, /Mari/-sama come to me~! /Speeking/ word of /wisudom/, F and C~! Heheh!" Her grin is self-satisfied.

"No one attack the carts, okay?" she calls out gaily. "I've never seen a Witch run out of Familiars in their own Labyrinth... if we use too much magic in here it will just make it mad. So... ret it /be/," she steps on A minor, "ret it..." She considers trying to do a split to hit the next note, then blanches. "You get the idea."

  • +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+(( Madoka Kaname's Grades ))+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*

| School (Grade): Ohtori Academy (9) |

| English: Average |

| Japanese: Average |

| Mathematics: Average |

| Music: Average |

| Physical Education: Average |

| Science: Average |

| Social Studies: Average |

  • +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*-+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
  • +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+(( Hotaru Tomoe's Grades ))+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+

| School (Grade): Infinity Institute (6) |

| Japanese: Good |

| Mathematics: Good |

| Music: Poor |

| Physical Education: Bottom-Barrel |

| Politics and Economics: Average |

| Science: Good |

| Social Studies: Good |

  • +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*-+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
  • +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*(( Sayaka Miki's Grades ))+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+

| School (Grade): Ohtori Academy (9) |

| English: Bottom-Barrel |

| Japanese: Poor |

| Mathematics: Poor |

| Music: Unset! Use +grade/set Class=Grade to set. |

| Physical Education: Excellent |

| Science: Poor |

| Social Studies: Average |

  • +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*-+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Music For Strings, Percussion and Celesta - 2. Allegro https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVdCcFo_HnA

The other tracks keep on humming softly, but their trains must be far, indeed. That leaves only the original train for Kasagami to chase, and like the riders, the speed forces her to become a blur. She disappears wholly from the others' sight, screaming down the tracks, blade swinging and singing an analog descant to the digital rage.

For the rest, there are only more train tracks, and a long, eerie walk, with only darkness at the end of the lights Garnet and La Sirene cast into the void. The tracks, chiming whenever they're stepped on, create a sort of call and response, as one girl follows the next. Those who choose to avoid each other's footsteps create intricate, interweaving melodies.

None of them harmonize well. Not even the silence of the flying Midchildan goes well with these sounds. Nothing can. Even the Beatles can't lighten the mood -- just as she's finishing her song, Sayaka's final C warps into a miserable, diminished E flat.

There's another noise, every so often; the hissing buzz of an electric sign. These hang in the darkness, creating the idea of walls, though they're irregularly spaced in the depth axis as well as the vertical and horizontal. Solidly colored, squinting at them hard enough promises the emergence of a Magic Eye sort of overlay, but it never quite comes into focus. There is the awful sense that the sign is squinting back, and once in a while, the briefest, surely-it-was-imagination flash of a pair of red eyes.

Sometimes the signs fade in tantalizingly, like a shifting advertisement. Other times they pop up abruptly, like warnings, instructions. They remain indescipherable, arguably blank, somehow definitely not, either way.

Ah, the tracks are getting loud again. A train must be coming!

This time, though, it slows and stops with brakes that squeak like hamsters. Kasagami, who's been chasing it this whole time, finally catches up properly and is able to neatly bisect the riders as she passes. Snow goes flying everywhere. Four lumps of coal and two carrots clatter to the bottom of the cart.

And the lights come on in response, ker-CHAK, ker-CHAK, ker-CHAK. Bank after bank of overhead fluorescent, jarringly normal in this abnormal space. The darkness is banished completely; under the tracks is nothing but a mirror, which reflects the girls' feet and legs back at them perfectly, without distortion.

The platforms are the right height, and the right width, which is to say, wide enough to accommodate a /crush/ of people, narrow enough that they all get crushed.

There is nowhere in Tokyo more acutely packed than a train station, and this is no exception.

'DING-dong,' goes the boarding warning, and here they come, streaming across the tracks towards that little cart. There are dozens of them, maybe hundreds. Many are snowmen -- none particularly recognizable, but all evocative of fallen comrades from before -- but they aren't the only humanoids on the tracks. They bustle side by side with storefront mannequins, blankly naked of adornment. There are dolls, too, with no details on their faces -- just two black dots for eyes and a squiggle for a mouth drawn on -- each one with a damp ribbon flopping around their neck.

Dolls, snowmen, mannequins -- they climb over and around each other in their eagerness to board the cart, which is only really large enough for two of them, yet they just keep packing in. The deepest in the bank wind up squished into their neighbor, merging with them like an awful, dangling appendage. They're paying no attention to any of the girls on the tracks -- unless given a reason. However, there are just so /many/ of them that it's exceedingly easy to lose sight of one another in the sheer crush of crowd, and just be surrounded by faceless puppets, instead.

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

For just a single moment, Kasagami feels overjoyed at slashing the oncoming train and its passengers. That pounding fear that's slowly moved to cause her gutts squirm recedes just slightly. Fear of the unknown is rampant. But, yet, it seems that her blade can cut them after all. It was a wild decision of instinct, and it paid off. As that train comes to a stop, she leaps across to another track. Should any of those freakish signs get too close to the magical girl, she'll offer a hard, vindictive kick!

Her breath moves faster, lungs pump, there's something /WRONG/ with this place!

And yet as she leaps towards the platform that vaguely promises safety, she can't help but call out. There's familiar figures here. She notes Garnet, Mami, and Sayaka amongst all. Some might be enemies, but they're better than the /things/ they're fighting. Those aren't your average youma, and she feels it in her bones.

"HEEEEEY! Could somebody explain to me what Escher painting I just walked into?" It's an odd mix. Words meant to seem unconcerned, but there's an audible note of concern even in her voice. Kasagami Araki, it should be noted, can be loud when she tries.

Oh, and there's a medium sized army of dolls, men, and other freaky humanoids to deal with. Around her long blade, roses form into a small rotating covering. Both hands pull back, and then she lashes out, sending a wave of cutting pedals at the scrambling crowds!

"If you can't take a hit, get behind me!" She calls out. That's right, she just volunteered to take blows. Kasagami might be inwardly flipping out a little.

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

"Good, La Sirene!" Mami calls at one of her Chevaliers, then looks to spot, "Garnet-san!" And then with some relief, "Sayaka-chan. Good--You--" That's certainly a suggestion that her kohai has. "All right. As we need it." Mami does precisely that, in golden ribbon, the most luxurious rope bridge ever to appear in this particular place, almost certainly. "Here."

But there's the happy music, and Mami smiles despite herself, wathing her partner play. "We really don't have..." Softly, before she stops.

"Right. The Labyrinth can wear you down before you even reach the Witch. Be careful of that."

But, Eri's voice snaps Mami's attention to her as surely as if one of her vines had cracked out. She immediately sets a hand out at her side, but pauses rather than doing anything with it at what the younger girl says. Not all of it, of course, some of it she could've had a retort for, but...


It reminds her of what happened 'that time', and causes her to glance away as Eri runs further in a moment. It's not just the Labyrinth tht can wear her down.

"Seems we're not alone," Mami says, having spotted Chitose, too. "There's that much more reason to be careful. You're..." A pause and a smile, as Mami stands up a little straighter, "You're all doing very well so far! Keep it up!"

Then there is walking, so much walking. Mami, for her part, walks in the steps of those ahead, but not perfectly; she's unaccustomed to following, and so her steps too can make things a bit more complex. The signs catch her attention, with a slight frown of thought briefly crossing her face before she decides it's better to show some cheer. She looks at the signs until the train comes back.

"You," Mami says immediately to Kasagami, but then there are lights. It's suddenly bright to her and she blinks against it. Then there's just the station. "No--"

"Everyone, move away from the cart and try not to get separated!" She's quickly too busy to answer Kasagami's questions, trying to avoid being shoved away by a crush of awful traingoers. ...If she would answer them anyway. Mami angles herself for Sayaka first.

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> FF15 Soundtrack(Potential Spoilers. Don't click Hotaru!) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEMXHYyqPwA

Her footsteps make such a discordant melody among the symphony of wrong. Part of her rolls her eyes at Sayaka's antics on the tracks. Didn't she know where they were? It was really hard to believe that she'd be the one leading all these girls against her. She just couldn't think of her as the 'Sukeban' of this gang when Mami Tomoe was right there and yet- there it was.

Perhaps she felt a singular pang of- something at that, before clenching down on that and tossing it away.

But then there's a flashing gleam of a sword. And she looks, then she's blinded by the lights coming on and she hisses as her dark adjusted eyes get blinded by the sudden glare, she looks down, and sees- her legs amidst the spots.

The effect is dizzying, disorienting- which she feels is the intention, so she tries to work past it. There are so many snowfamiliars oblivious to who they might be trampling- to give her a chilly rendition amped up to the nth degree of her daily routine through a train station. And after being bumped around once, twice barely keeping her footing on the third shove she thinks better of attacking in these cramped quarters with so little room- "Nope. Hey Chitose-san catch!" Leaping straight up and back, she extends an arm and grabs onto the flying girl's forearm, letting herself dangle from her position.

Work smarter not harder right? Let the Chevaliers deal with the small fry. It was part of their mission statement anyhow. Up here however she's exposed, so she tries to pick out the other girl's in the throng of snomiliars, to make sure that noone gets any funny ideas with her dangling- or to make sure none of the creatures have other means of getting to them. "Flying is pretty convenient, isn't it?" She comments amicably.

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

Now that she has a better angle on things, la Sirene du Nord notices several matters. One is that the familiar visage atop the head of Sayaka Miki, erstwhile chevalier, is in fact -- Pikachu. Worn like a trophy of Monster Hunting...

And she seems so comfortable here. La Sirene's lips quirk. It is, in its way, reassuring. She steps forth down that road she's landed upon - there ain't no getting off these rails - with a certain pounding intensity, a stiffness in the knee perhaps contributing to a hint of a bassline under her feet.

The world is surreal enough, dark enough, menacing enough, that la Sirene does not have time to do more than snap her head up and let out a shocked gasp at the arrival of Eri. "Shimanouchi! Did -" she begins, but she cannot even get to a proper accusation before the lights come on.

A mirror below her.

But La Sirene doesn't fall into THIS mirror. No. And there's that warning from Mami. La Sirene leaps!

... Towards... She is looking briefly as if she regrets this plan even as she descends towards the platform packed with mannequin and yukidaruma alike.

When she hears Sayaka's words she gives her a momentary look, perhaps just before she lands in the horde.

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

Eri's here too, huh? Sayaka's brow darkens, the vague sense of unease she felt at the distortion of her song coalescing into a direct anger. She avoids answering for now, but she locks eyes with Eri briefly. "You enjoyed hurting her?" she says; at this distance she might as well be mouthing it instead. "Not now. Not now."

She turns to the more pressing ssue. "Hey!" Sayaka calls out to Kasagami. She hasn't seen her face yet. "Don't attack them! You'll just wake it--" It's too late; the lights are already on. "...up." Shielding her eyes for a moment, Sayaka blinks, then her teeth bare in a snarl. "/You/."

Testing the mirror with a foot, Sayaka is jostled by approaching snowmen. "Wha--?" Her shoulders take another two thumps as more pass, and she turns sideways to present a smaller profile, moving towards Mami and the other Chevaliers. She grasps Mami's forearms as she reaches her, looking to her urgently. "It's her... the one who stole Madoka-chan. Of all the times for her to..." Still holding Mami's arms, she turns a disbelieving glare on Kasagami. "Idiot! Stop fighting them! I'm going to take care of this, senpai... stay safe." Releasing Mami, she hurries through the crowd. "Chevaliers! Keep Mami-senpai protected so she can find the Witch! That's all we're here for!" Sayaka stops next to Garnet for a moment; she's come to rely on Garnet's raw strength at moments like these. "You can do it, right?" she asks Garnet quietly. Then she's off, all fluttering cloak and yellow Pika-cap.

Sayaka's hand falls heavily on Kasagami's shoulder as she shoulders aside a mannequin roughly. "Araki, right?" she demands. "Here's your explanation. This is called a Witch. You're in its Labyrinth. The more magic you use, the more of its Familiars you kill, the more attention you bring to us. Stop swinging that thing around--" Sayaka is jostled into Kasagami, and shoves back with her back to create some room. "And definitely stop pretending you're protecting us. Follow me back to the others and listen to what we tell you. If anyone gets hurt because of you, I'm not going to forgive that." Even in her anger, Sayaka is given pause by the accumulation of dangling, once-independent appendages and body parts that is forming atop the cart. "If you're coming with me, do it now," Sayaka says, and she turns to shove bodily through the increasingly dense traingoers, rocking her weight to one side and then the next to clear a path. This warrior who confronted Kasagami in an icy rage is now a cheerful, yellow-eared bobbing Pokehead in the crowd. At a particularly dense juncture, she drops a row of swords into the glass behind her, forcing the snowmen to go around, whereas Kasagami can easily turn sideways and walk through. "Senpai! I can't see you!" she calls. She knows Mami has a lot of ways to make herself known.

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

Chitose, still in the air, doesn't actually stop, even when the signs come, or the sudden train again... which stops? And then come the snowman swarm.

Chitose wasn't around for the earlier fight. Nor did she actually build a snowman to reanimate. So she's completely surprised when sudden snowmen swarm the area. On the bright side, she hovers above it all, watching the snowmen swarm around like one of Tokyo's terminals. But... it seems almost unnerving. And the dolls, and mannequins as well. The latter two are actually more unnerving to Chitose. "Okay, really now. What's going on?"

It's about this point where Eri calls and grabs for Chitose's arm, which finally shocks Chitose out of her reverie and makes her wiggle from the added weight. "H-hey." Then, she uses her other arm to grab Eri and pull her up farther, to make sure she doesn't get eaten by the dolls. Or something. "Something like that, yes." She says in response to Eri's comment. But then she remembers. Didn't Eri lead her in here?

Chitose's head lowers down, as braid falls towards the floor and Chitose's glasses try falling up her head, as she tries to look at Eri. "Eri-san... ah, where are we?" She looks around nervously before continuing. "This place is really strange."

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Light returns at last, and for a brief moment, Garnet sees the friends she was expecting, and some known faces she wasn't. She didn't have the luxury of putting the pieces together, before the cart began "boarding" its strange (non)passengers. Garnet summons her other gauntlet back to her right hand and braces, trying to push away as many of the oncomers as possible. When Sayaka appears at her side and makes her quiet entreaty, Garnet nods slightly to show acknowledgement, and keeping Mami in her sights, makes her way towards her. A wave of snowmen and mannequins interpose themselves, and Garnet makes a quick leaps over them, and lands gauntlet-first, in a small shockwave (smaller than usual, they don't seem to be heavily grounded, so only enough to tumble them) , "helping" them on their way to the train and away from Mami.

Garnet makes her way over to Mami and stands ready to follow and guard her, wherever she plans to go.

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Despite locking eyes briefly- she couldn't hear what Sayaka said, but she didn't need to know. The look in those eyes said everything. Dangling down from Chitose's arm, she tries not to make it a difficult experience for her.

"Remember what I told you before. About the kind of monsters we fight- in hidden places? This is a Labyrinth, that kind of place. There'll be a witch at the heart of it. This one- is kind of strange, which is why I'm checking it out." Her eyes drift up as she murmurs, "You holding up alright? I know it's kind of unnerving, but we'll get through it."

But the irony isn't lost on her when nearby Sayaka is lecturing that one with the sword on a similar subject. Araki. Ohtori's Disciplinary Executive-? They'd met the other day and it wasn't really a negative experience. Just strange. Eri's head moves one way in indecision, then another, and then- "Hey swing us by over there-"

She points her whip hand Araki's way and once they've floated closer her eyes are on Sayaka who's being shoved around like she's in a mid-afternoon crowd at Shinjuku station. However from her position she looks a little like a cat grabbing onto a ledge with one paw, "Wow Miki-san. That was really good. Pretty adorable actually- like you're all grown up now; you just need to work on being a little more convincing."

But by now she's not looking at her except out of the periphery. Her eyes follow until they meet steely grey and milky white beneath black bangs. "Hey Kasagami-" She uses her name that way simply because Kasagami asked for that, "-do you really want to follow her around after all that- 'I won't forgive you'? I mean come on. She sounds just as likely to stab you in the back as she does to lead you out of here."

She extends her other hand, coiled loops leading for Kasagami to grab hold of if she can leap out of all of those snamiliars- "But if you grab hold in the next few seconds- I bet your chances with the two of us are way better than they are with her gang of delinquents."

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

Mami speaks, and of /course/ Kasagami finds the time to shoot a grin full of perfect teeth. "Been a while!" She offers in a mock-friendly manner. Like many amongst them, Kassie is a bit of a jerk.

But it doesn't remain long. She knows when to be serious, and this tidal wave of /things/ has her blood running hot and aggressive. Too bad for her, as Kasagami is nothing but two things at heart: aggressive and fight-thirsty. Thus a wave of targets is far too much for Kasagami. Once, twice, thrice, swings her overlong sword, and she's the picture of someone who revels in a fight and a challenge. This is her element. Opponents before her, clear enemies, no moral dilemmas. Her good eye shines even against the light.

But then Sayaka bumps against her, squeezes her shoulder, and she /listens/. This kid proved herself in her own way, and obviously speaks with the voice of someone who isn't confused. The Student Council member listens.

A sucked in breath, and she manages to quell her bloodlust. "...Eh?" She looks honestly surprised by this revelation. "So what you're telling me is, we have an opponent with a whole bunch of soldiers that don't matter? And if I kill them they just wake up?" Tch. A shudder.

"I really, /REALLY/ hate this place! Fine, you seem like you know what you're talking about though..." Mmm. What /ever/ to do!?

And then there's a sudden wrap of ivy around her other wrist. A glance towards Eri! Good eye meet, and there's a very, very reasonable argument presented to her. Sword-Girl in front of her is very stabby. And not liking her. And then there's /MAMI/! Delinquent du jure.

Suddenly, Sayaka is getting a smirk. "Hey. Sorry, 'Miki-san'. I don't know you well enough to say if you /wouldn't/ stab me in the back. Your little delinquent over there definitely would. Thanks for the advice. Don't die, huh?" A hard slap to the back, and then yoink! Away Kasagami Araki flies on a single vine that she leaps off with, the force of roses and pure Kassie jumping sending a little crack through the platform.

"Thanks for the save! Yeeesh, what a group! C'mon. Let's all try not to die and destroy that 'Witch' thing!" A bright grin to Chitose and Eri!

"Name's Kasagami! Who're you two?" Grin grin! And off they go.

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.


The cold has gotten worse, and dock workers are starting to disappear in the storm. Magical girls investigate.


Some came a little too soon, and, chins down in the storm, found themselves lost, winding endless spirals across the surface of a surprisingly solid Tokyo Bay. The cold was deeper than nose-biting, worse than anything that could claim toes -- frostbite of the soul.

After a while there was nothing left to do but try to catch a train. That's what you do at a train station, right? Keep your head down, try not to get crushed in the rush. You don't know where you're going, but you do know, in a blank sort of way, that you have to get there, no matter what.


What happens at a train station, when the boarding bell chimes?

Everyone moves all at once. People push out, people push in. There's a keen, throbbing sense of urgency, since if you don't get going now, right /now/, you're going to wind up somewhere you don't want to be, which is the same somewhere you are right now. It is a mass rejection of the status quo -- its hasty execution. And not everyone's journey is going to survive.

No different, this, except that it's even more carnal and violent than Shinjuku rush hour. But the fight for those two spots on the caboose-cum-mine-cart is coming to its inevitable conclusion. The winners are unrecognizably transformed by the experience; one might have been a snowman once, but it has so many delicate little doll limbs coming out of it that it might as well be a koosh ball now. The other is a mannequin, now with an extra head and arms coming out of its back. It's holding the carrot noses of its enemies.

There is no acceptance of their victory until the boarding chime sounds again -- 'DING-dong.' Then the two familiars start pumping the crank back and forth (one of them has to drop their carrots, which clatter to the bottom of the cart), and it goes rushing down the tracks, which scream beneath its wheels.

The rest of the crowd froze in their tracks when the bell went off, Pavlovian. They've been thinned considerably, both by themselves and by the efforts of Kasagami, whose steel and petals rendered many snowmen to puddles, puppets to clattering parts. It is perhaps unsurprising to the veterans in the room that the first hint of motion comes from one of the wounded -- a mannequin whose hand was hanging by a plasticky thread.

It clatters to the ground, and the faceless head swivels to look straight at the Duelist.

The thinned crowds also make it possible to spot some surprising splashes of color -- clothes, something that no snowman, mannequin or doll is wearing. There are a few bright orange construction vests; undoubtedly dockworkers. Many show signs of violence -- bruised knuckles, broken fingernails. Who knows how long they've been trying to catch a train. Their eyes are totally empty.

And there are a few others, too, in perhaps more fanciful dress -- waiting, with the rest, for the next bell.

It's still very claustrophobic in here. The ceiling, with its fluorescent light embankments, is quite low, especially over the platform but also in general. Besides the train tracks, which stretch off into darkness in either direction, there are also sets of platform stairs leading upwards... somewhere. And the ground, beneath the tracks, is nothing but a mirror, reflecting those on the tracks, and the ceiling above them, endlessly. So far no one has stepped on it.

OOC: If you weren't here last night, you stumbled into the labyrinth while investigating the missing people (or otherwise visiting Tokyo Bay) and got ensnared by the Witch -- you're in a bit of a light trance, feel very cold and empty, and are waiting for your train. You can be snapped out of it by one of the other attendees in the first round. If this is unacceptable to you, please page me and we can work out another reason you're here.

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

Amidst the chaos, Mami couldn't help but spot Eri and Chitose together, bringing altogether different sets of memories for her with each of them that she doesn't have time to focus on now. Nevertheless, she remembers an evening not in a Labyrinth, and five names that Chitose's face can't help but make her see.

But Sayaka confirms something else, and Mami inclines her head once in some combination of approval and encouragement. "Be careful--" But Sayaka told her to be safe, and is calling to the others to protect her. She has a mission in here, but for a few heartbeats she just recognizes that for once, it's her being protected.

"Right, we have to move!" Mami calls to the Chevaliers, her words open enough to reach anyone else who might be listening too. As she says it her eyes pass over orange vests and dead eyes, and those too burn into the Puella Magi veteran's memory. That makes the room feel more claustrophobic to her than ever.

Would the crwods thinned, Mami shifts around Garnet and moves to lead the way onto the platforms. "If we stay here, that'll just happen again!" Her steps are light and quick. "Let's make sure we don't leave anyone behind!" Closer, closer--

Mami's going for the steps.

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

Having heard about the missing people, Hikaru knew this was a chance to help out in finding them. She may have missed the initial opportunity, but she's not about to let another opportunity pass her by. She does what she has to in order to find her way here, and soon she's joining her allies. Albeit as the Fire Knight, but that's OK with her, as that's how she prefers to be known in some cases like this.

Unfortunately, unlike the Wind Knight, the Fire Knight doesn't have the ability to fly as well as her comrade does, so she does a bit of catching up on her own. But when she catches up to her comrade, she's caught her breath all the same.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji transforms into Wind Knight!

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

Something's wrong, something's very wrong... but then again, when isn't it wrong in a time and place like this?

Namely, in that a Witch has caught one Hikaru Shidou, who was investigating a case of missing persons, and now finds herself feeling a bit cold in contrast to her usually hot demeanor. She's somewhat out of it, almost like she's in a trance, and stands there idly waiting for her train to arrive. It's a stark contrast to the usual Hikaru...

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

He was cold. Despite his jacket, a stylish racing motorcycle jacket, and a scarf. The thing of it was he didn't care he was cold, or that he was wearing a quite stylish and dashing motorcycle jacket. Takeo Akamizu only cared about catching the train. He had to catch the train, that was all that mattered to him. Not the cold. Not his jacket. Not his scarf or his gloves. He just had to be on the train.

He stared forward. Waiting patiently, and there might even be a bit of frozen drool making a drool-cicle at the corner of his mouth. He didn't care. He stood there with the others. Staring forward. Waiting, patienly waiting for a train.

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

There are days when Mikoto just searches for her Lord Brother, even now. It has been so long - she's widened the search, these days, outside of Ohtori's grounds. It led her to Tokyo Bay, the chill nip in the air accentuating every scent.

It was so cold. She could taste it in the back of her throat. Metallic-sting, acidic, and it's so familiar, it's the sort of thing she's known before. It makes her skin crawl and the hair stand up on the back of her neck. So cold. The sea doesn't freeze, you know, even in the coldest weather Japan knows - it's too warm, too salty, too turbulent. The sea doesn't freeze. And on the frozen sea...

This is something she's known before. It tastes like blood at the back of her throat, like it's dripping back from her runny nose, that cold Mai keeps trying to fuss at her over. Wear your scarf, don't go outside, keep warm, drink this soup, eat these canned peaches...

It's drowning her, that too-sharp taste, not-right must-not-be, and Mikoto's final thought as the cold seeps through her overcoat is /Witch./


There are days when Mikoto just searches for her Lord Brother, even now. It has been so long - she's widened the search, these days, outside of Ohtori's grounds. It led her to the train station, the place where he must be, he'll be at the other end, he'll be at the station. Waiting for her. Like when they'd train and he'd wait for her to catch up - he'd turn and smile, silhouette - he'll be there. He'll be there! Miroku weighs across her back, strapped tightly to her, but she doesn't think to unsheathe it. Placid. She feels like an empty cup, shaking slightly, the cold, peaches - he'll be there. It's cold. It's cold. it's cold

it's cold

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet nods, and follows Mami. Though she's used to leading, Garnet defers to the

The Yellow Puella's experience in these realms, and if she were in her shoes, she might've made the same call. Mami is almost assuredly correct that this is something of a "programmed" event, following a schedule, in mockery of an actual train station, and that the number of locomotives they encountered on the way to this point suggests the boarding might be much more frequent than the girls might like, or even be able to handle.

She keeps her eye on Mami, Garnet didn't know how much guarding she really needed, how much of Sayaka's request was sentimental versus practical, but there's little reason to do otherwise.

She also makes sure that the other Chevaliers and any stragglers meaning to travel with them are accounted for, and that she's aware of their positions.

The locomotives on the tracks and the strange boarding leads Garnet to believe that when things happen in this place, they happen very quickly and without warning, and the less time needed to react to the next surprise, the better.

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


The Wind Knight felt like she could have been hovering on the edge of a similar trance, having been engulfed by the crowd of familiars almost at the same instant that she reached the train platform, but the sight of a familiar head of red hair gives her the impetus to snap herself out of it; she weaves her way through the frozen crowd, heading for her friend. "Hikaru-san, wake up ... !"

She could cast the Winds of Healing, and she's prepared to do so if necessary - but for a start, the green-clad Magic Knight just slaps Hikaru's cheeks lightly to try and shake her out of her stupor. If that doesn't do the trick, *then* she'll break out the healing magic. "You'd better transform, we've got a Witch to help battle ... are you all right?"

Once Hikaru is alert and has transformed, the Wind Knight will lead her fire-using companion towards the stairs. Mami's blonde hair and characteristic hat make a very useful guide in this context. If anyone else along the way needs healing magic (and isn't some kind of Familiar), she'll apply it where required.

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

"Nobody asked you to come in," Sayaka grumbles to Kasagami. "Just follow me and don't stab anything."

Sayaka goggles up at Eri and Chitose in disbelief as they buzz on up to ruin things. She's still stung by Eri gloating about Mami's suffering, and an acidic retort just flows out automatically: "Why? Because you don't kill grown-ups?"

A mannequin bumps rudely into Sayaka, head-on, and she shoulders it aside fiercely. "Araki! Don't you do it! Don't you grab that vine!" After risking herself by breaking off from the Chevaliers to retrieve Kasagami, she's sputtering mad to be so impugned.

"You jerk! When I stab you it's gonna be in the front!" Relieved of the need to clear a path for Kasagami, Sayaka takes a quick leap, using the shoulders of mannequins and the heads of snowmen to progress faster than she had been. "Fine! Go form the League of Evil over there! G-go buy a naked cat and a bunker and complete the set!"

Sayaka is working her way back to the Chevaliers when she spies the regular humans in their vests. With a soft gasp, she pauses, one foot resting on a snow-head, then changes direction. Hopping down in front of the waiting group, she gets on tiptoes to smack the nearest one gently on the cheek a few times. "Hey! Um, wake up!" She glances behind her, starting to understand their situation. "Um... eto..." Stepping back, Sayaka snaps into a stiff, official posture.

"G-good morning! This is a special service announcement for the Witch Line to Hamamatsucho. I repeat, this is a special service announcement. It--the train on this platform... it's been rerouted. It's going to the wrong place now! Please walk to the next station. Okay? It's... that way." Sayaka points behind them and away from the platform. She's sure they'll just end up here eventually, but if they can take care of this Witch soon, a delay will be good enough. She doesn't want them trying to catch the next cart... if there is a next cart. The current cart is looking really freaky right now.

"We apologize for the inconvenience, but you really need to walk to the next station, because this is the wrong train! Please proceed in a slow, relaxing fashion in that direction! Thank you very much!" Sayaka bows sharply, and Pikachu bows with her, his ears flopping down towards the floor.

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Feeling her vine 'line' go taut, she one arm hikes it up over her shoulder like it's a pully, ignoring the scrape of a thorn or two with naut but a grimace of holding onto Chitose and holding up Kasagami's weight. The retort definitely stings though. She spares Sayaka a long look, lips a thin line. Eyes glaring thorns at her. There's something icy in her tone, "If you ever do manage to grow up, then we might just find out the answer to that."

She looks away at that point, letting the league of evil quip fall without comment for a moment, "Eri. Eri Shimanouchi." She says kind of tersely but only because she's angry at Sayaka and concentrating on hanging on with one arm and bearing Kasagami's weight with the other- and trying to make sure Sayaka doesn't jump up there at them. "We've already met. Just the other day."

She hooks an ankle around it to better distribute that weight, but it hardly seems to matter because- everything has frozen. It's really eerie, making her think less of a train station and more like playing The Daruma Fell Over when she was a tiny kid.

Her eyes follow the movement of the transmogrified- dolls? Mannequins as the trains pull out in the distance. But now without the movement she better gets to survey their environment. Her head passes over all that, sweat beading on her forehead and then snaps back to one spot- "Wait-" Those twin braids. That physique. That shape of a golf case across her back. It's like finding a single hardy winter blossom in the middle of a snowfield. Now she laughs once- "-isn't that just like her?"

Grinning like a fool she tips her chin up at Chitose, "Hey- mind carrying us just over there so we can get off?" She cants her head towards Mikoto. "Carrying the two of us can't be comfortable and just found us our cat- she's not naked, but she'll be a big help- I guarantee it." Once they've floated closer, she nudges the line. "Alright hop off, try to miss any familiars. Hey Mikoto-chan." Once Kasagami disembarks, Eri seems kind of bewildered at the sight of Mikoto not responding, in that trance- shaking. Eri undoes two fingers from her grip she snaps them a few times as if to try to get her to look up. "Miiiikoootooo-channnn-" She drawls, snapping her fingers again. Remembering the aftermath of the Wedding Witch and the trance it held people in.

Eri swishes the line gently like she's fishing, letting it arc out, and giving it more length to dip down and brush against Mikoto's nose or face like it's some annoying cat toy. A stimulus she doesn't think Mikoto's instincts are going to let her ignore. Then she hops off from Chitose's grip, landing right beside Mikoto with a rap of her toes on the platform, looping the line back in her hand.

"Hey-" It's not the wisest thing to startle Mikoto at this point, but still she puts her arms around her, drawing her in for a brief but fierce hug in the middle of a thinned out crowd, "-you really going to wait around for your train in the cold like this? We're gonna be late for supper that way." Drawing back she puts her hands on her shoulders to look her in the eyes- giving her a more serious, concerned look, "You okay? Ready to kill a witch?" It's only after she gets an answer that she'd smile again and pat her on the back.

Eri turns her body longwise to try to thread past a few familiars that are left until she almost threads right past Takeo. She almost goes cross-eyed at the sight of him in plain clothes- wearing his jacket. "Wait- /really/?" With another amused look, she puts one hand on her hip, then puts her other hand in front of Takeo's face. Snapping her fingers several times at point blank range. "Hey- Hey-"

She waits until recognition dawns and- "You missed your train lover boy. Gonna be late for your date if you don't hurry. Small problem of killing a witch first. Think you can handle that?" She then raises a hand to her growing party and makes a waving motion to the side- "Let's move out fast, before another train rolls in!"

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

<Make sure everyone has hold of each other. We need to stay as far above this as possible.>

This is White Omen making sure everyone's okay, and keeping the spell of flight going as Chitose, Eri, and Kasagami hover over the mess of frozen entities below them. Chitose does float on over as Eri commands. But, for Chitose, she mostly keeps her eyes somewhat drifting, like she's got a thousand yard stare. This is because she's... occupied.

"Dear Mother," Chitose looks forward, her voice the detached tone of someone dictating. "How are you? I am doing fine. Today I became the party's airship. This is something I never thought I'd say or write ever. Does this happen a lot on Midchilda? Dearest love--"


Chitose shakes her head to return to normalicy. Or... whatever this may be right now. "All right." She flies over to Mikoto, and releases Eri from her grasp. But she stays hovering, keeping herself as far above the swarm of snow-people. And people who might turn hostile really quickly, and at the very least they won't turn into a train randomly. Right? Chitose keeps her eyes on them, though she doesn't respond to Sayaka's commentary.

"...Father /does/ needs a cat."

Well, there's that, maybe. Chitose taps her chin as she considers this idea.

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


A warning from Sayaka. A counter-offer from Eri. Kasagami accepted, and on wings of ivy, off flew the Disciplinary Executive.

~Now~ Just as she's flying, Kasagami laughs. "Great! That's how you should do things anyway!" Encourages the Student Council member. She might just catch passing words about Number Two. Someone's seen a few too many movies!

Taka-taka goes her boots as she lands. She straightens her hair just a bit as rose petals mark her landing, lending their scent all over the gathering party of Eri-Chi. Grin!

"Hey, thanks! You're right, if I'd have stayed with those guys, they would have probably stabbed and shot me a few times. We don't have time for that kind of thing."

"Wait, you're....oh! Yo. Fancy meeting you here!" She quips at Eri with a quick laugh, trying to play off her growing exhaustion and terror. The first Witch, even for someone as Stalwart as Kasagami, is a bit much.

And as Eri asks, she lets go of that vine, following down alongside Eri. Her purpose here is fairly straightforward! Should any of those familiars get too close to Eri? They're getting a kick or a stab to clear the way. But only if they attack. Otherwise, she's following right behind as the girl wakes up Mikoto and Takeo. Plus she might need extra carrying capacity. Kassie is fairly decent at jumping, as she's shown already.

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

More deeply under the Witch's spell than their magical counterparts, the dockworkers don't do anything right away. They stare sightlessly forward, their cheeks as slack as their lips are blue. But Sayaka is persistent and after a while, one of them starts to shuffle his feet.

It's around then that the familiars start paying very close attention to her. A sea of faceless heads swivel on their necks, heedless of any vital connection like a spine, to stare. They were already agitated by Kasagami's violence, but Sayaka's actions leave them spellbound.

Do they understand her? Do they know what she's trying to do? Do they just /believe/ her, and are having existential crises about being on the wrong platform, waiting for the wrong train?

The tension rises -- the familiars still haven't quite decided to attack, if decisionmaking is in their balliwick at all. It's a quiet moment where the little details really stand out, the ways in which this train station is not a train station in the same ways that a door is a jar. There are no schedules, no maps. No vents -- if it's air in this labyrinth, it isn't being circulated in a normal way. And the tiles are, every last one, engraved with a different, weird little sigil, like a mosaic alphabet. More jarringly still, the graffiti twists in three and four dimensions, black and red and abstract as can be, except in moments of sudden, blinding insight, when meaning appears, only to fade away again a second later.

And there are cobwebs, which brush cheeks as they go by. Or something like cobwebs; little tiny liquid strands of silver, fluttering upwards from the mirror beneath the tracks, getting thinner and thinner and thinner before snapping, and falling back down to ooze into the mass.

But then:


The tracks are screaming again, this time the two to the right and left of the one that had the mine cart. There are seconds -- seconds -- before those trains arrive, coming from opposite directions. In a distinctly Pavlovian way, the familiars are already scurrying stage left and stage right, off of the tracks and into their messy queues on the platforms. There's a soft rumbling from the stairs, too; more familiars are surely on the way.

This time they aren't just a mine cart; the trains are full-sized, and clearly packed with riders in all kinds of positions, obvious even before they slow down fully. Snowmen are posed upright, laying down, and everything in between. Mannequin heads bob to the rumbling of the engine, strung like a paper doll chain among the luggage racks.

They'll be disgorging -- and re-engorging -- momentarily...

COMBAT: Hikaru Shidou transforms into Fire Knight!

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki transforms into Crimson Rose Duelist!

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

The Wind Knight has a way of rousing people from trances. She suddenly snaps out of it and looks to the Wind Knight. "Wha-huh?" She looks and recognizes her best friend, before shaking her head to get herself back with it. "A witch to fight?" She looks at the other frozen people and nods to the Wind Knight. "I know what we have to do! Hold on!"

A few moments later, after she's gone through with the transformation, the Fire Knight nods to the Wind Knight. "Lead the way! I'll be right behind you!"

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

Takeo shakes his head after being snapped at and looks at the smaller frame of Eri with hand on hip snapping at him. He has to blink a few more times and wipes the frozen drool-cicle from his lip wiht a confused look FInally he looks at Eri with clearer eyes and raises an eyebrow. "Date? What makes you think I'm going on a date? I coul - "

He stops mid sentence and his eyes go wide. "Oh snap crackers ... Do you think Mai-Chan will take a Bacon Gift Basket as an apology? Because I bet I'm need - " His head snaps to Eri. "Did you say Witch? Did I get sucker punched by a witch? I thought you had to be weak willed to get Witch-Suckered." He looks about to say something else before he says calmly, "I ... should put on my work clothes and just stop talking huh?" He clears his throat, adjusts that stylish motor-cyle jacket and moves behind a pillar.

One brief lightning storm centered on an amulet later and Lancelot walks around the corner holding the twin blades of Arondight. He looks at Eri and says calmly, "Can we leave out the part where I got Witch-suckered when this eventually reaches a certain girl? Because I will NEVER hear the end of it..." He blinks again and looks around then stage whispers to Eri, "Are we in Witch Lair? This looks like a Witch Lair."

COMBAT: Takeo Akamizu transforms into Chevalier Knight Lancelot!

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

There is someone calling to her, from far away. Snap-snap, cold snap. Mikoto can't hear her, the words freeze in her ears. The train still isn't here. It will be here soon. (It won't be here at all? Walk to another station? No, the train is coming. It must come.) Her fingers are chilled inside her gloves, nose sniffly, leaking battery acid back down her throat.

She is surrounded by people, but she's all alone, an island amongst men.

A strand of hair trails across her face, as she looks forward, unseeing. It scratches at her cheek, catches on her lip. Hair is sharp? Hair is sharp. It must be. She's waiting for the train, and her braided hair is sharp. She reaches up a hand to swat it aside, and the sharpness catches on her glove, causes drag as she pulls it back. Mikoto frowns, tugging at it, a cat whose claw has been caught on fabric. She stops, feels the strand between her fingers - it's rough, it's thick. That's not...

Someone is calling to her from far away. The words sneak past her earmuffs, around the edges of delicate flesh. It would be so easy for it to freeze. Turn blue, stiff, numb. It's cold. It's-

Warm, warm flesh, pressed against her, pulling her in. Mikoto stiffens, jolts the rest of the way into awareness suddenly, head snapping up only to relax a little when she sees who's captured her. "Eri," Mikoto echoes, frowning deeper now, smacking her lips together. She remembers her thoughts. She hears Eri confirm them, and nods. "Yup."

It tastes like a Witch, and she was caught, but Eri saved her, because Eri is her friend who she loves. Getting swept up like that is disturbing to her, but eminently believable. Witches are predators who prey on humans, and Mikoto is human. The pieces fit.

She swings Miroku's case around, and extracts it in a smooth motion, feeling its dread weight in her hands. It's the greatest comfort she has right now.

When Eri starts threading through the familiars, Mikoto follows suit, avoiding touching them where possible -- she's been hunting enough to know to follow Eri's lead on this. She follows her to another familiar face, Takeo. He asks if he has to be weak-willed to be caught, and Mikoto shakes her head. "Witch is predator. Humans are prey. Not weak, human." Never mind that he wasn't talking to her - Mikoto's never been good at those little social rules. But she's sure to assure him: "Won't tell. Takeo won't either, right?"

Because, Mikoto thinks as she sniffles, if Mai knew she was out fighting Witches in this condition she'd /never hear the end of it./

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi transforms into HiME Mikoto!

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

Mami has gathered already that Garnet is a woman of few words, and while she likes to chat, Mami can appreciate a bit of quiet as she looks bck over the Labyrinth to see Eri, Chitose, and Kasagami moving away while Sayaka moves over to the dockworkers.

...The dockworkers who are rather more alive than Mami thought.

"All right, I need a moment. Thank you for watching my back, Garnet-san." She entrusts herself to her protector of the moment and closes her eyes, a difficult action on its own by habit but a good one for her. On the stairs pressing upward, she focuses, frowning in concentration.

Her eyes open and she smirks. "Found it. All right, here we go!"

Mami hops back down onto the platform, masking her alarm at the loud and sudden alarms and the trains coming through. A rifle appears in her hand and she fires it straight down at the floor.

Unfortunately, the floor's intact.

"Ugh, I was really hoping I wouldn't have to do this..." She draws in a breath and shouts, "Chevaliers, follow me!" Taking off at a run, Mami runs towards one of the trains--

And jumps off the platform and down, towards the mirror below.

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

More trains. That can't possibly be a good sign; the Wind Knight quickens her pace, trying to thread the needle along the center of the platform, out of the way of as many of the commuter-ish familiars as she can manage while continuing to lead the Fire Knight along the way. She's picking out more familiar faces now ... although admittedly, Garnet is practically impossible to lose in *any* crowd; the Crystal Gem is a welcome landmark to the Wind Knight's eyes.

And then Mami calls for them to just jump. Straight down.

"I suppose there's no choice, is there?" the Wind Knight muses aloud as she heads for the platform's nearest edge. "Hang tight, Hikaru-san, this could get interesting - !"

She jumps as well, releasing the Fire Knight's hand while they're in midair and conjuring her sword. She's prepared to conjure an updraft to brake her and Hikaru's fall if necessary, but first and foremost, she aims her sword straight down, bracing her booted feet on either flat of the blade; it almost looks like she intends to try pogo-jumping with her sword.

... Which would probably be preferable to smashing herself bodily into the mirror's surface, if the mirror fails to break beneath their collective impact. Still, tipping the odds in the heroines' favor can't be that bad of an idea - concentrating her weight and momentum behind the tip of her sword should give her a better chance to smash through, if the mirror is an actual physical surface.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet gives an acknowledging nod at Mami's thanks and follows her lead, happy to be able to stand above the crowds, to see and be seen by those trying to navigate this chaos.

After the rifle shot fails to break the barrier,

Mami leads them upwards and gives the order to jump straight down onto the mirror.

Making an impact after a leap?

That's something she knows a little bit about.

Garnet shoots off of the platform, cresting her leap up as high as the station will allow. At the very top before she begins to descend, her armored gauntlets are enveloped with transformative light, and grow to twice their normal size!

With a cry of determination, Garnet makes the fall, increasing the weight of her hard light body as she makes her way down, and smashes her armored fists on the mirrored floor with the others, as hard as she can!

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

Sayaka lifts her shoulders slowly, the sudden quiet unnerving. Her eyes flick between faces, carrots, and blank heads. Thankfully, the dock workers are moving; even their sloth is just a bonus, since it will take them longer to filter back to someplace (especially) dangerous. But Sayaka herself has drawn a lot of attention--more than Kasagami had, to her chagrin, if for a better cause. She gulps audibly. Her fingers flex for a sword, but she dares not draw one, lest she provoke a strike.

"It's okay," she reassures either them or herself, sotto voce. "It's okay."

The screech of the tracks interrupting the quiet is enough to cause Sayaka to cover that ear, wincing, as she spins to face the oncoming carts. No, real trains this time. She makes sure to urge any humans who are tempted by them to find the /correct/ train instead of these, which are /wrong/, and wonders what she herself should be doing about all this.

Mami's call brings a half-smile. Looks like she found something. "Coming!" she calls, no longer worried about the passengers, who have turned their attention elsewhere. She has an easier time moving near the periphery (and perpendicular to traffic instead of directly against it), and her bobbing yellow hat and flashing white cape soon ripple over to the Chevaliers' group again. "Garnet, senpai, Fuu-chan!" she greets, not pausing as she tucks her legs and leaps right off the edge with Mami. The Chevaliers are a team now; they have a fair amount of experience together. "Fuu-chan, slow us down?" she asks, but a glance to the side shows Fuu has another idea.

"Never mind! I'll do your thing!" Sayaka withdraws a sword with a flash of metal, reversing it to impact the floor along with her.

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"Yeah- I'm not going to dub you the party's airship. Even if you're tall enough to be." Eri says pretty casually at Chitose considering all of what's surrounding her. But she's numb to it, like she's numb from the cold. All the Snowmen are turning to face Sayaka- playing the role of announcer to try to save the dockworkers.

In a way she's grateful for the distraction but at the same time she's tense in the thought of the familiars possibly acting out of some grim instinct of the threat which the blue Puella Magi poses.

She doesn't shiver with terror at all the details of the station. She's just- numb, even as cobwebs flowing out of the track brush by her cheek and snap and fall back where they came. She doesn't shiver, she just sort of smiles without meaning it much. Even her lips feel numb. "Yeah witch. Wait-? Bacon gift basket? I can't even-" Less numb now, color flooding back into her cheeks from sheer indignation, "That's what you'd get her as an apology!?" She thrusts her hands at her side, "That's what you want! What makes you think she'd even want-"

She sputters, "-it's just so she'll cook it for /you/ isn't it-" She stops herself, "You know what- Witch now- that later. Yes I'll leave this part out and-" She nods at Mikoto's assertion, "Right." She says softly, because she's giving her a long look and just noticing the little bit of nasal congestion, "That'd be best if she didn't... find out."


She's really glad Kasagami is there with sword at the ready, but still she holds her palm up suddenly her way and clamps a hand on Mikoto's shoulder. "Let 'em be for a second- don't disturb them."

Her eyes are picking out the details of the room up, the surrounds as the familiars rush onto the new trains. It'd be really hard for the Chevaliers save the dockworkers right now by attempting to extricate them from the labyrinth itself. That'd be a Sayaka sort of plan in her eyes. But a Mami sort of plan-

A musket shot draws her attention.

A flash of yellow. Mami dives down onto the mirror below the trains and- "That's gotta be the way to the heart of the labyrinth." She turns and announces to her own party. "While I'm usually the last person who would want to follow Tomoe-san's lead- the best way out is through the Witch. Let's go after her- and while I know they make it /real/ hard, let's try not to antagonize them anymore than we have to until we're out of this. Come on!"

She takes off in a run towards the edge of the platform, then hops off into the mirror below.

Some part of her still remembers the death throes of the dragon witch- falling through to crash through the dome of the wedding witch. And yet she doesn't actually lead with something to shatter it due to the cobweb like cues. She thinks the mere act of landing on it will cause her to fall on through-

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

Chitose sighs, just a little bit. A lot of what she's been saying is similarly trying to distract herself. This is weird. This is unnerving. And in honesty, while Chitose is pretty good at distracting herself, she's kind of surrounded by unease.

Then again, the surroundings might be finally breaking her distraction ability. The graffiti morphs like nothing she's ever seen, and the cobwebs slide on, past, and then off her face, which brings the unease a physical component.

It's the musket shot that wakes her back up, and she looks to see Mami and the Chevaliers leap into the mirror floor below. This is followed by Eri doing the same, so Chitose follows suit. She doesn't leap to the ground, though. Instead she turns, and then dives into the mirror following everyone else, sticking out her arms like some makeshift wings.

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

Mikoto is up and moving, and Kasagami eyes her large blade. The claymore gets a grin from Kasagami, though most of her attention is on keeping anything that moves from getting too close to Eri, Takeo, or Mikoto. Soon enough, Takeo has his proper blades. Mikoto's words, however, are something that finally puts things into place for the woman.

"So she was telling the truth. Alright. If this 'Witch' thing really is a predator, we'll have to be careful. Anything that has so many buddies...and weird ones too..." She trails off, gripping her sword in both hands. The Student Council member is a coiled spring, waiting to spring into action. Her body might just seem a little nervous. Her usual confidence has taken a blow. This isn't a normal, straightforward battle. A cut to the wrong thing, might cause disaster. All of her training, experience, are flipped on their head in this Labyrinth.

And so, Kasagami relies on Eri. A small nod, but otherwise, silence. Breathing exercises, old calming tricks her mother taught her, flow through her body. In, out. Measured. Calm. Let the fear flow out. Leave nothing behind.

By the time Eri speaks to her again, she looks much better. It's slow, but she's acclimating to the environment. "Right. We've got enough problems. Play nice, and we'll all get out of here, right?"

Kasagami rushes along, and then, she leaps!

"Geeeeronimoooooo~!" She yells as she plunges headlong for the mirror. Roses flow behind her in intricate, fading patterns, like some kind of very odd parachute to cut the speed just a bit. There's a bit of a dopey grin on her face as she falls. Even if it's towards strange terrain, the others managed it without a glassy death. She lets the adrenaline rush of a controlled fall take over, like the best skydiving she's ever done in her life!

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Music For Strings, Percussion and Celesta - 3. Adagio https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wqaeeu1nux4

Mami disappears with nary a ripple, seconds before the rest follow suit, except for Garnet who makes more of a 'blorp' before sinking down, within. The mirrorstuff is viscous, sticky, yet fine enough to fall lightly through, a little lighter than water even. There's no real acceleration, no risk of falling too quickly... though also no way to stop easily.

It also becomes quickly apparent that this was a one-way mirror -- as the trains pass overhead, familiars pouring on and off of them, they're all crystal clear. Light from those tinny white embankments on the station ceiling filters down for many feet before finally fading away.

Looking up for too long is unwise, though. What's down is more important. And it isn't mere darkness, but rather a gradient, gradually becoming more and more red.

There is no bottom per se, just an endless expanse of vermillion. It isn't blood-colored, but brighter than that. Neon red, like those faux-blank advertisements along the tracks, before the train station.

The first disruption comes abruptly, in the way that objects seen through fog can be closer than they appear, though there isn't any fog, only a lack of perspective with no horizons for the human mind to cling to as a point of reference. It's a black line, like a wire. It stretches from one end of view to the other, unbroken.

Then there's another, and another. They seemed thin but they are not; nor are they wires. They are chains -- each link the size and shape of a girl, each sporting the sort of charm you'd expect to see at the end of a cell phone strap, dangling straight off the link itself. Little mascots, though none of them are recognizable even as horrific parody. The frogs have too many eyes and the little men made out of burgers would never, ever be used to market anything.

It is possible to stand on, or hang from, these chains, and probably wise -- who knows how far past the chains one could go. They form what is increasingly obviously an elaborate web. Here and there, they've wrapped up into chainy coccoons, each containing two familiars -- hopefully familiars -- caught like flies.

At the distant center of the web is a large mound of black cloth, like the parachute elementary schoolers play with, poof up all together, then huddle underneath. It is covered in inhuman compound eyes, manifaceted and the same red as the background. They blink, but never when you look right at them.

Something is moving underneath it, making the fabric pulse, undulate, just a little, here and there.

Hopefully it's not two dozen little kids.

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

Setsuna Meioh o

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

So she didn't need to lead with her sword. That's almost a little disappointing to the Wind Knight - but still, she doesn't regret her decision.

What she does regret is the Witch's taste in Labyrinth decor. It doesn't hurt her eyes so much as her mind - the wire-chains, the coccoons they bear, the cloth with all those eyes ...

"Storm-Dance of Kamaitachi!!"

She can't judge just how big that cloth is, whether it is the Witch or covers the Witch's form; she's not even entirely sure whether it *is* the Witch, or a bundle of familiars, or a bunch of prisoners being hidden away .... or worse than hidden.

Either way, trying to shred the cloth with the bug-eyes all over it seems like it's probably going to be in order sooner or later. Casting her wide-area spell from a distance and trying to put some rips in the 'cloth' just cuts down on how long she has to keep gawking at it in carefully-suppressed terror.

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

"Chevaliers?" Lancelot blinks and looks at the sound of the battle orders and squints, thankful he has put off Eri's wrath for later. Of course he wants a Bacon gift basket. Who /wouldn't/ want a bacon gift basket. It's a very thoughtfulgift, and nothing says your sorry like the gift of bacon. To be fair, bacon really is the answer to everything and - Wait. Takeo. Focus. "Did Mami-san just try to give me orders?" He squints just a little bit more and then looks to Mikoto, whom he just noticed is there and gives the girl a grin. "No worries Mikoto-chan," He says with a big brother like grin. "My lips are sealed." He leans in and stage whispers, "Dinner stop after this where we order everything that has bacon and or other meat and potoes?" Then he looks to Eri as the train arrives and rubs the back of his neck.

His eyes scan the crowds and the Knight finally shrugs. "Wait. We're antagonizing THEM?" He looks around and rubs the back of his head. "I kinda feel antagonized. I'm a real Chevalier and the person who nearly killed me created a group of fake Chevaliers. I mean ... They could at least send me a Bacon Gift basket as way of apology ..."

He clears his throat and then smacks his left palm with a fist. "Right. Through the witch. Let's do this!" He starts to head off in the direction Mami and the others went and pauses. "Eri-chan ... Where am I going?" As Eri runs toward the Mirror he nods and follows after. Right through the mirror and through the strange feeling transition that makes his skin crawl.

One of these days he'll face Morgana's goons again. That's not as creepy.

He lands in a crouch and looks up at the web like thing with the parachute and familairs and whatever. "So out si through all that right Eri-chan?" He smirks and suddenly is wielding both blades crackling with electricty. Without waiting for any word from the others he launches forward and leaps up at the parachute wiht the eyes slashing wiht both blades at once crying out, "LIGHTNING IMPACT!!" sending a wave of electricty down his blades that explode in thunder, arcing lighting in just about every direction.

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

Eri's words and actions lead Mikoto to acknowledging their other allies, Chitose and Kasagami. She nods to them each in turn, noting them down in her mind as allies. Eri's allies, but that's good enough for Mikoto. Besides, Kasagami grinned at Miroku, and anyone who would be enthused about her constant partner can't be a bad person.

(Also not a bad person is Takeo, who leans in and suggests getting /food,/ which earns another earnest nod from the short girl. She doesn't smile, not on the hunt, but she can't deny how good that sounds.)

Leave the familiars be, Eri says, and Mikoto doesn't move to attack. She doesn't put her sword /away/, mind, but she doesn't make any further aggressive moves. Her eyes fall on the train, and it's tempting, for a moment, to just step inside - but Mikoto shakes her head and resists the urge.

There's a musket-shot, painfully familiar, and Eri proposes they do the exact /opposite/ of what they should really do in response to an enemy being near. But it's logical that Puella Magi would all be seeking the heart of the labyrinth, and Eri knows Witches best amongst them, so Mikoto follows her lead when she leaps down towards the mirror. She runs for the edge, springs up, and swings her claymore as she sails down towards the mirror -

- sinks -

(- it /is/ disappointing, isn't it, how the sword doesn't cut through the mirror but instead just splits the goop meaninglessly -)

- it's not like falling, and it's not like water, but it's neighbour to those things. Mikoto doesn't look up; Mikoto stares downward. It's red, cartoon red, all-consuming like lit up signs when you get up close and clamber along their edges. And then black splits them, neighbour to thin, girl-shaped blackness linked up like chains looped around a gate no one wants her to enter.

Mikoto twists around and lands on the face of one, not stopping to flinch, though a familiar sick feeling settles in her stomach. Witches are not-right, shouldn't-be, and the way the mascots jingle seems to mock them. Miroku drags against the place where a normal girl's stomach would be as Mikoto straightens and takes stock of the situation.

There's too many eyes. It makes her skin crawl, like she's being watched. Mikoto sniffles and coughs, and shakes her head, and glares at the Witch in turn. It's too far left of reality to understand, but Mikoto hates it anyway. It's /wrong./

Her legs bend, and she springs forward, charging up one of the black girlish chains towards the Witch. She screams, rage splitting her throat and bubbling up behind the empty feelings, erupting as she leaps to clear the final stretch towards the bubbling parachute and its thousand, thousand eyes. With an overhead swing, cleaving down with all her might, Mikoto seeks to slam down on whatever's moving underneath.

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

It was a guess, of course.

But Mami had to bank on her senses and on her experience; it was her job to find this place. This Labyrinth is as strange and creepy as any other she's been in, down to the strange... liquid mirror. It makes her feel like it must have left something behind as she passed through. She glances up only once, and then her attention is down, down, down.

Red, red, too much red, and the blonde puts a hand to her wrist, preparing to let loose a ribbon. But she doesn't; abruptly she sees better, and she sees something that registers in the back of her mind as more than the simple calculations she's making about where she can land, where she can /stand/, what firing platforms she can find. She would, if she were normal, feel more keenly the disturbance of chains like paper she might have cut as a girl, or all these charms.

As it is, she lands on one of the girl portions of the chains, bending at the knee and letting her magical resilience absorb the shock. She stares down at the eyes before her, glances to either side to check her angles again, and then puts on a small smile for her audience. Taking her skirt's edges in her fingers, she curtsies lightly, and two rifles bounce down and to the sides, hovering in the air. She points in the air beside her once, then again with the other hand, and two more rifles spring into existence. Point point again with one hand as Mami twirls in place, until there's ten before her. Mami throws out a fingerless-gloved hand and her guns make a semi-circle. They tilt, as she adjusts the angle...

She makes a gun with her fingers and mimes firing it. All ten rifles fire at once in a flash of golden light and a roar of gunfire. She makes sure to account for the people going in for melee, of course. But anyone for some reason looking at her will see sharp focus in her eyes. She hasn't seen what this Witch can do yet.

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

Chitose flies down just enough that she sees all the red. That's when she stops, looking around and checking to see just where everyone and everything is. She sees the chains, and she sees the familiars. But what her eyes are drawn to at the end are the eyes. So many eyes. Chitose has two eyes, and that's plenty.

So what Chitose does is fly her way to one of the chains, grasping one side of them just enough to keep her from falling down into the red. She uses one leg to brace herself against the chain, and uses her arm, Device at the ready, to point right at the eyes.

<Thunder Dove.>

White Omen fires, and fires, and fires again as dozens of bird-shaped bursts of light sail from the origin, towards the eyes, targeting those that doesn't have a friendly fighter between them and the target.

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

Problem: red fog everywhere, and in a particular shade that seems to truly /annoy/ Kasagami. This isn't the lovely, vibrant shade that the Student Council President is known for. It's not her own blood red, so darkly passionate and throbbing in her own veins. It makes vision horrible, and her good eye has to squint.

Second Problem: That thing in the distance. Giant eyes, chains reaching out to infinity, and those 'charms' get a gaze of pure suspicion. She's quickly come to realize that nothing here should be trusted, and so Kasagami pays attention. Anything could be an enemy, even if they don't look like it.

She spies the chains almost a moment too late. Half of her body is past one, before she reacts. Her nodachi's edge lashes out, the tip stabbing into the dark metal and arresting her fall on the long blade. Dangling from one hand, she kicks back her legs, and alley-oops her way into the air, only for a foot to catch the hilt on the way up and kick it even higher into the air. Gracefully landing on the chain, her hand reaches up, and catching her spinning katana with a single flourish, spin, leading to her blade pointing forward down the chain as she studies the monstrosity in full for a second. The area around her brightens with life and energy, petals falling all around her. In this strange, twisted place, the power of an ambitious Duelist stands against the wrongness. When she starts moving, roses bloom behind as if to try to reclaim some sense of normalcy.

It's huge, and to Kasagami's mind, bigger is better. Might just be the Witch. And so, noting Mikoto rushing in, Kasagami follow on her own chain. Taking a two-handed grip once more, she holds it off to the side. The petals on her coat and wrists soon start to gather in a mass along the length of her blade.

And then, she leaps! Hers is far more of an arc perhaps than Mikoto's, and she gets a sight more hang time. So much so that much of the ranged offense will hit before hers. No, she's aiming for something in specific. Once Mikoto's sword smashes down?

She'll choose then to angle herself down, and put all of her weight into not a slash, but a hard stab with all of her weight behind it into one of the many eyes that the thing possesses. Ideally, sliding as deep as possible inside.

Then, and only then, do the rose petals on her blade scatter in wild angles, not unlike shrapnel from a grenade. Each tiny petal cuts thrice as hard as any mere fragment of metal.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet keeps her distance as well. Mami's sense of strategy seems to align with her own (when her cautious side prevails that is). Without knowing what this monster is or what it's capable of, rushing into melee with it may be a mistake. Garnet has learned enough about Earth life to know that spiders are trappers, and this Witch taking its form is an indication that it may be laying in wait with more surprises than might be obvious. She also doesn't want to leave her friends open to attack if it has some way of reaching them around her assault.

Keep her distance, watch what it does... Still, even though she won't be going to the Witch, there's no reason the punches she has reserved for it can can't deliver themselves on her behalf. She raises her gauntlets, point them at the Witch, and they detach from her arms, firing off towards it with a fiery propulsion!

She fires them again and again, trying to complement Mami's firing, when there are spaces of time where no bullets hit, a pair of gauntlets explodes to fill the gap.

Fearsome as this combination is, it's unlikely to exterminate the witch outright, the way monster reacts to such an unrelenting assault should reveal much about its capabilities.

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

It feels like she's sinking through silver paint. The way it clings. She half-expects to come out of this looking like some bronzed statue, only gleaming silver. When she blips through, she looks up for a moment, watches the fast fading light of the trains down into the expanse of red.

She remembers burning- in the hateful light of an idiot goddess upon touching a nerve ending, falling. She remembers which is why she looks up just a little overlong. But she tears her eyes away as a black line shifts by her. Then another and another. Until she sees the chains with the girl-like links and the cell phone charms.

A vine whip snaps out, an easy flick of her arm and it rolls across the expanse in a blur to wrap around that link once twice thrice. Gravity alone makes the vine go taut and her position causes her to swing like she were on a rope swing over a river. Letting go at the apex of the swing, she lands lightly upon one of the web strands as it undulates beneath her from the impact. That the place where she lands looks like a girl's hip goes without comment or reaction. In part because there are so many eyes instead-

She tells herself she's done this one too many times to let this affect her.

She tells herself that.

"It's through that." She echoes at Takeo. But she doesn't command them to attack- to kill it, to destroy it. They're all veteran warriors. Killers. As long as they can identify the target they know what to do. She wouldn't want to alienate her newfound allies by trying to micromanage their enthusiasm for dealing death. Mikoto especially knew how to deal with a witch after all they'd gone through.

Her legs move, she runs, spins once, a whip snaps out and with a sidearm flick she sends it lashing to wrap around one side of the fabric witch. Mid-twirl her other arm does the same, a flick from the opposite end. Wrapped around from both sides, she swivels around and tugs outward, huffing as she digs in like an ox pulling a cart. She's expecting some outward resistance- she's hoping to squeeze it and tear that central mass.

But despite them all acting as individuals, she's trying to be considerate to- pulling that bulging mass it toward Mikoto's cleaving slash, Kasagami's blade swirling in rose petals. Takeo's electrical onslaught, and Chitose's bird-shaped projectiles of light, just in case something unexpected happens.

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

Sayaka is in the unusual position of being able to launch herself without having a very flexible method of controlling her fall afterwards, so this isn't her first time falling through dangers. She can, at least, move laterally, and she does, twice shifting her position to avoid a passing chain by compressing her feet into thin air until a ring of pale blue magical notes appears for her to push off of.

"You found it!" Sayaka praises Mami, though she expected nothing less than elegant success from senpai. She shivers, though, at what has been found. It's unnatural to fall this long and at such a modest pace, and the color of the place feels disturbingly... specific, as though it means something she can't grasp. "You're not food," she cautions a passing burger.

"I'm going right in! Pull me out of I get eaten by something!" Sayaka could latch onto a chain, but what could she do from there? She's the one who's been bugging everyone about finding the real Witch this whole time. Gritting her teeth, she lets her arms drop behind her head as she falls and tries to just distract herself from the numerous malignant eyes blinking (and not blinking) up at her in the dark. If she ignores reality until it's too late to turn back, that's close enough to courage.

"Hh-RAH!" Sayaka shouts, plummeting the last distance down into the big puffy squirming eyetent. She reaps her sword back and forth at the moment of impact, trying to rip through the cloth(?) and get inside with whatever ungodly things are squirming around in there.

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Music For Strings, Percussion and Celesta - 4. Allegro Molto https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppsV4HoCVqc

Magical wind summoned by Fuu rips and tears at the cloth, while Lancelot twinblade slices, lightning crashing everywhere but not as hard as Mikoto's meteoric blow. A decade of golden bullets hail down courtesy of Mami, balls of electricity from Garnet, while dozens of birdlike energy blasts pepper the eyes in particular, as does Kasagami, her sword, and her many roses. Eri yanks, her thorns gaining purchase, the fabric stretching, distorting. Sayaka does her level best to carve her way inside.

In response to these manifold threats, which do take out bits of cloth, and an eye here and there -- they pop like party favors, sending streamers everywhere, each again tipped with another weird mascot charm -- the entire web begins to quiver. A degree at a time, horizontal is becoming vertical, because the chains are revealed to not be webbing at all, but instead the many, intricate legs of an octopus.

Jellyfish might be the better analogy -- with that harried, eye-ful, ballooning curve at the top, and the many chains dangling below, it's evocative for sure. There's more to see, though one might flinch from it; where the chains all come together under the parachute, they're twisted and tied into a pulsingly Gordian knot that isn't black at all, but red again, not red like the background but unmistakably red like the horrible, eye-bending graffiti on the train station wall.

There is still nowhere to stand but on those chains, however, only now they're awfully steep, and trying to grab, to snatch, to crush. They twist and writhe like jump ropes wielded by Satan, the little charms jingling sweetly with every motion. They slam people into each other, fling people off into the great surrounding void, draw people towards the dome, towards what passes for a maw like a bunch of frantic, frenetic crayon scribbles pass for Van Gogh in the eyes of a proud mother. They can still be jumped between, they can be swung on like vines, they can be lifted, braided, or severed...

...but they won't be manipulated quietly. They, too, fight back.

OOC: My next pose will be my last -- fight accordingly!

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

Running along those chians to avoid falling to one's uncertain doom in the void of deep and evil red, Lancelot has a thought. What if the witch was just REALLY cold? The color red was there to invoke the thought fo finre. Bring me fire mortal and all will be well. He'd have to make a note to bring that up with Eri later and ask about Witch dynamics. For now. He decided it was best to focus on NOT dying an uncertian death.

To accomodate that, Lancelot runs, and leaps from chain to chain, trying to keep from being tossed by using his speed to be wher ethe chain isn't moving, but also to avoid lashing chians, becuase at the speed he's going, looking more like a blue streak than a fully armed and armored Chevalier of the Round Table, he's pretty sure the chain would take his head off. He ducks, he jumps, he slashes with his sword to give him momentum to flip around a chain or two.

Finally, he gets an idea, and running around, leaping fomr chain to chain he beigns to gather lighting to him. Normally he'd unleash that lightning ina series of deadly attacks, or unleash it in a wave of lightning that might make a hurricane look like a light shower. But not this time. He instead runs along and points his swords at the Witch and calls out, "HEAVEN'S WRATH!" snedout out concussive blasts of lightning. Instead of one massiv eattack, he leaps form chain to chain, letting out the bolts of lighting to try and distract the witch. To try and leave an opening for somebody to get in and kill it.

As he fires the last bolt of lighting however, he has one small thought... What happens after they defeat her?

And, where he can get a Baocn Gift Basket at this time of night?

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

The tendrils begin reaching out, streamers and tentacles and the Wind Knight doesn't want to think about what all they are. It's as though this entire space is the Witch, or so close to it as makes little difference; the best she can do is to start slashing at whatever comes near her that isn't a fellow magical girl, finally conjuring that updraft she's been ready with to brake her fall - and the falls of anyone else who still haven't found someplace to land, or to grapple in Eri's case.

Given how animate and how intrinsically hostile the 'terrain' is, Eri's approach is probably far wiser than simply trying to alight on anything long enough to get another shot off. At least Lancelot's lightning seems like it might buy them some opportunities to do more damage without getting mauled.

But there's no time to analyze patterns or look for specific weaknesses, and the Wind Knight can't stay airborne indefinitely - she can boost her jumps, but she can't double-jump without touching something solid or anything cool like that. The best she can do is to stab her sword as deep into one of those 'cocoons' as it'll go, and while she tries not to get flung off before she's ready, she focuses her attention downwards and inwards once more.


Clinging to her sword with one hand, she has to launch her biggest spell one-handed instead of two ... but the wrath of the tempest doesn't seem particularly hindered by this; the stormwinds howl at her bidding, practically wrapping up a couple of stray tendrils along the way and tearing them into scraps and shrapnel before the majority of the gale slams into the Witch's main body.

.... that thing down there which all the tendrils and things are coming from had BETTER be the main body, or else there'll be virtually no good way for the battle to end.

And then the Wind Knight is focused on dodging once more, leaping and bounding back and forth, helping buy time for others to launch *their* attacks as well.

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

Kasagami peeks back as vines wrap, and pull the creature towards them all! Eri, it seems, could make a good fisherwoman. She'll have to invite her to fishing off of Southern Cross Island with moves like that, she ponders to herself.

But most importantly, she notes her allies' abilities. The thunder of Lancelot. Chitose's shots from on high. Eri's versatile, stinging vines, and Mikoto's massive blade. She has a good feeling about this group that she's been dragged into, quite literally!

And then, as cloth is ripped and eyes pop, Kasagami leaps away from her prey towards the safety of the chains. And this, proves to be her mistake. As much as she excells in combat, the madness of a Witch is yet new to her.

And so she's thrown, forced to stab into one of those swaying, chaotic chains. Holding on to her sword for dear life, she's flailed around! Desperately, she kicks her legs forward, and finally finds her balance. A leap. A pause. A sway just in time, until finally she's getting the hand of the balance needed. Her clothes are battered, she's lost her coat somewhere in all of this mess, and she even took a chain to the face. But landing after being thrown to another chain-tentacle, she leaps up, and then aims herself right for the fleshiest looking part of the great monster!

Not towards that maw, but /just above it. Her leap is a high one, and for a moment, she stalls in the air completely horizonal. And then, she kicks off a tiny bed of flowers. Falling, faster, faster towards the creature, she takes a stance mid-air.

Her body shimmers, just a little. Her falling stance is one with her arms pulled back, both clasping her sword with the blade held straight towards the Witch. It's a naked motion for a thrusting attack from such a long blade. There's no motion, and her eyes are closed entirely as she concentrates. Only when she's inches away does she finally seem to spring to motion.

Her strike comes in a single breath. Her shimmering blade and arms, if one looks, is no longer a single blade. Kasagami, at one instance, seems to somehow thrust three blades from three sets of arm. A blink, and you'll miss it. When the blink ends, it's again a single line of metal and pedals flowing past her that marks her attack.

~~Crimson Rose Cage~~

And yet, in one moment, three thrusts mercilessly seek to destroy this creature that's taken so many lives, eaten so many innocent people. Kasagami's rage for such an impossible monster to exist, to hurt families, only makes her sword bite all the harder.

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

Chitose continues to hang on the chain, as best as she can anyway. Thankfully, she's still kind of flying, or at least the spells of flight is what allows her to have this sort of strange hanging onto this chain.

Then the monster's form is fully revealed, and the chains go swinging, taking Chitose around with them. They swing back and forth and Chitose hangs onto the chain for dear life, accompanied by a girly shriek as the woman goes swinging around.

Sure, she could just let go and start flying again. But in her swinging, admist all these really weird, really strange things, it doesn't quite occur to her.

But, eventually, her brain manages to re-establish spatial awarness to allow herself to point White Omen at the Witch (or at least Chitose /thinks/ it's the Witch. She's still not sure!). And with that, she fires one last time.

<Nightingale's Lament.>

White Omen fires a number of pulses that split into a number of minature pulses, that fly towards the parachute-jellyfish thing, hoping to impact, pierce it's fabric, and explode!

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet turns to Mami. "We can't keep a long battle if it's the ground we're fighting on, We need to keep it defending. I'm going to pin it down with an orb. When I do, give it all you've got!"

Garnet faces the Witch, and a ball of scintillating neon lightning sparks up in the space between her hands. It grows, and grows, she moves her arms to accomodate it, until it's a little over twice the size of her entire body.

Garnet lobs the electro orb towards the Witch and when it makes contact, it crackles and shock, but it holds its shape, seeming to stick against the monster with a static cling rather than dissipate immediately.

It does however pulse and writhe, as if struggling to keep its shape for however many moments it can!

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

"Of course!" Mami answers, beaming Sayaka's way at her praise much more than such a casual answer would suggest. Amidst putting together her rifles she sees Sayaka moving in.

"I've got you if anything happens!"

And then she's firing, which gives her a great view of those who have made their way into melee with the Witch. More importantly to her right now, she can see how the Witch is reacting. She waits, with Garnet, having come to quickly appreciate the Gem even more than in their last encounters. Or at least, she waits until waiting because not much of an option; suddenly amidst new streamers everywhere Mami finds herself having to whip out a ribbon to anchor herself from falling, quick and yellow at her wrist, as she looks up to see... her target.

She doesn't flinch from it at first, but her experiene can't win out over the eye-straining horror that makes her glance away in moments. And it's a good thing she does; the chains move wildly, forcing her to expend effort staying on that she could be spending on attacking. Already she looks around for something else to use--

"Right!" Garnet seems to have the right of it, and Mami nods back to her, standing back up unsteadily. "I'll do it!" It's not quite how she's used to handling battles, being the one directed, but it doesn't quite occur to her not to follow Garnet's instructions. Instead she thinks of something... Else.

Mami releases the ribbon at her wrist and whips it forward, ducking back and falling from the platform as golden ribbon turns into a gigantic silver long-barrel pistol, with delicate work all along the barrel and a beautiful golden grip. "I see it!" She takes aim.


There's a blast of golden light that shoves Mami downward with her gun, leaving her scrambling with a whip of ribbon to hang onto a chain. The column of light, however, hits center mass of the electro orb. When it does, the whole blast electrifies as both slam towards the mind-bending maw.

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Eri feels the fabric stretching, tearing. But then her footing lurches to become mighty steep. Losing her footing, she slides- and she's instead hanging onto her two vine combo like a gymnast performing rings. Up she looks at the witch's central body. Down she looks to the manyfold girl shaped arms. Many. "What a witch..." In the same tone she might say 'What a pain.' Strong witches always were. Sayaka had asked to be pulled out if she gets eaten and part of her hopes that will actually happen but- no such luck.

She could get up to it using the chains. But what's the point given how she's already attached? Looping her vines around her hands once, twice, she swings backwards, then forwards.

First it's just that forward and back motion like a swing, but then using her upper body strength, she begins moving her body inside while janking and twisting to avoid the jellyfish arms. Swinging up and out, and flipping until she's doing a handstand in the middle of that swing. "Be-hnnh-" Arm muscles burn satisfyingly, as she then twists her whole body forward to let go and somersault upwards using all of that momentum. "-right back!"

It's a diagonal flight out of those weaving chain arms, through the twisting and writhing and jangling. She twists just in time to avoid getting struck out of her flight. Up and out, like she's going to simply embrace that void on her own once she loses her inevitable fight against gravity.

However- she spins around mid-flight so that she's facing the witch- despite still moving away from it. There's another conjured whip in her hand, and another. Then eight more, sprouting out of her back like prehensile appendages. They flex and coil and prepare.

She flicks out the two which she aims to wrap around different parts of the witch. They're created dreadfully short, they're pulled taut almost instantly as her flight screeches to a halt as if it had momentum left in it. Then the vines contract as if fighting against that tension, slingshotting her back towards it.

It's only then that the eight upon her back move, like appendages off some spidery spirit. Their motions are back and forth, moving like whips on their own, lashing across her drive back towards the witch. Dozens of times within seconds- perhaps hundreds. A lashing whip can have fearsome speed after all.

Each one darts across the gap then back again in a blur- they whistle through the air, adding a cacophony of snap cracks upon each strike to add to any popping from the witch- almost as if it were New Year in Tokyo but with the only sound and less color. The added momentum intended to make each one more deadly as they attempt to lash, slam upon, and rend pieces off it's fabric body as she careens like a girl shaped missile towards it.

Despite launching towards it, she doesn't expect to actually stand on it given all that billowing eye-covered fabric upon impact. Upon striking it she's ready to lose her footing and roll into or off the mass- but if she's still anchored, then it'd be controlled fall no matter what. More difficult to dislodge her. If she rolls off the side, she'd be beset upon by so many chains that would batter her in turn, but she'd still be attacking in that back and forth assault, trying to give as good as she gets.

After all. If the Chevaliers decided to turn on her after- she'd need to hope she'd made a good enough impression to her allies that they'd come to her defense.

But even if they don't fight it's possible Garnet and Mami, simply by the fact she's attached to it at the second they explode into the thing might get their digs in anyhow- as some of that static might just conduct through her vine handholds. Her teeth would clench down and it's possible they just gave her one terrible, extremely frizzy bad hair day. Which in front of Mami might just well be close to the ultimate humiliation.

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

The parachute parts under multiple blades, revealing the core of the chains and, most likely, the heart of this Witch. Sayaka kickjumps side to side between and down the chains and clanks with a heavy impact onto the giant knot. Swivelling her sword tip-down, she lifts it high. "Time to--!"

It's not obvious what it's time for, because something that might have been a cat charm spins around on its chain and smashes across Sayaka's shoulder, driving her off the core. Thrusting her sword into one of the chain links, Sayaka catches herself with a jolt and a grunt, then curls her (exposed and gem-decorated) abdomen to bring her feet up, grappling onto the chain so she can get a glove onto it and flip back atop. All around her, the combined violence of girlhood made magic is flashing. If she's to do any good here she has to do it fast; she's just as vulnerable to most of these attacks as the Witch is, and generally more so. "All right," she growls, running down the chain with her damaged sword. "Enough of this crazy place!" Locking her sword into a two-handed grip near her chest, she charges hard into the knot, grinding the blade down into its depths, then shoving with her shoulder to get an extra few inches. Pushing off with her arms as the hideous red chains react, she kicks the hilt for good measure, then just takes a flying leap off the core before the projectiles start flying in.

Nearly instinctively, she throws up a hand. "Senpai!" She could use a ribbon now.

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

Eyes pop into steamers, one mascot charm sailing over Mikoto's shoulder due to Kasagami's efforts. She plants her feet on the parachute, turning on a dime as she drags Miroku across the fabric, turning in a full circle before she uses the momentum to slam her sword down against it again. The motion only takes a few seconds to complete, even with the way the weight of the blade causes it to drag.

She would have pounded her blade into it again, brute slashing force, but she finds her footing compromised as the fabric she's standing on /deflates,/ billowing up around her like a complicated kareoke dress two sizes too large. Mikoto tries to jump off, but finds the surface too soft for anything of the sort, instead half-stumbling, half-rolling from the edge. It's a shame, really - because there aren't any chains left horizontal, something Mikoto only realises as she comes face-to-face with the lashing things. One strikes her about the midsection, battering at her ribs. Another knocks her to the side, further away from the mess of girl-chains, sending her spiralling off into nothingness.

Now, here is the regrettable thing about Mikoto Minagi: she can clear ground in leaps and bounds, but flight is firmly beyond her. So, as Mikoto sails off into the void, there's nothing she can reasonably do about it - but the viscous liquid doesn't act quite like anything right on Earth, and it gives her an idea from long ago. She does the unthinkable and lets her sword go, letting it fall for a moment before she kicks off the flat of the blade, using that little bit of resistance to correct her course back towards the vines. "Miroku!" She yells, one hand grasping out, and the claymore shimmers for a moment before it shunts out of reality and into her hand once more. The weight is heavy, but she's able to handle it even in a one-handed grip as she sails down towards the ends of the chains.

With her other hand, Mikoto grabs out towards the place where the girl-chain hands melt into each other, grasping the juncture and swinging up even as the chain's mascot bird flicks upward to cut into her with razors where its five beaks are supposed to be. She grabs another, swings up, climbing the mass of tendril-chains with fierce determination. When she comes to the top, she wraps her legs around the faux-legs of the chain she's reached, and transfers her grip back to two hands as she swings upside-down. Mikoto wrenches her body upwards, using the chain's own threatening movements to help propel her up towards the Gordion knot, which she cleaves into with her obsidian blade.

It's red like a heart, even if the colour's all wrong. Maybe it bleeds.

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Gobsibb https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2iaDZp_Cuk

When the Witch dies, it dies because of teamwork. Not everyone goes for the killing blow -- some try to create that opening instead. Others work together to create a greater blast than they could have hoped to achieve alone.

When the Witch dies, it dies because of savagery. Horror is a motivating factor, to be sure, but more than that there's a raw ruthlessness to combat in here. Even with the magical girls in force of numbers, it never ceases to be desperate. A teeth-skinning victory is the only possible kind, and skinned knees aren't an unusual side-effect for those who overreach to make it happen.

When the Witch dies, it dies loud -- its knot is cut, its legs blasted, its parachute-esque dome rendered to dust, and with each impact, it doesn't scream, not at all, but trains full of familiars all do. The sound is inhuman, and warped in a digital way much as the xylophone sound of the tracks was rather digitized... and then it fades out.

Whether you were slowly seduced inside, or popped straight in through a portal, Labyrinths always end the same -- with the death of the Witch, all that distortion, the fantastical landscapes, are drawn away like seven veils hiding the princess, revealing the normal world beneath.

A single souvenir remains, proof of the violence that just dispelled this netherrealm; balanced upon the frozen Bay upon its black spike, the Grief Seed bounty awaits claim.

And it seems that whatever interaction the Witch had with the winter storm, it was more symptom than cause -- for though the eye of the storm is beginning to shift (bringing with it a wall of white snow that advances steadily towards the group, urging them towards land), the temperatures remain as deadly cold as ever. Tokyo will be locked in this frozen prison for some time longer, at least.

The handful of lucky dockworkers that have been spared a grisly fate will still die quickly if they aren't brought to a hospital for immediate treatment. In truth, if they aren't moved quickly they'll be hard to /see/; the storm is eager to cover their fallen forms, which will be like raisins on the iceberg cookie for only a few moments more, before the frosting transforms them into unpleasant future surprises, instead.