2017-03-02 - Charlotte's Web 1

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Title: Charlotte's Web 1

A massive labyrinth infects reality with far more strangeness than normal, and an unprecedented number of familiars disgorge to occupy surrounding city blocks in a strange fiefdom. Chevaliers and Shepherds alike must confront Demon City Shinjuku!


Mami Tomoe, Sayaka Miki, Kyouko Sakura, Eri Shimanouchi, Nori Ankou, Setsuna Meioh, Endo Naoki, Fuu Hououji, Hikaru Shidou, Garnet

GM: Madoka Kaname


Shinjuku Capital Ward

OOC - IC Date:

03-02-2017 - 01-01-2015

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Obsession https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hQvJrDuQtQ

Labyrinths, Puella Magi and those who've spent time with them know, have a pretty strict set of rules. They manifest around a Witch, and draw the unwary hunted -- or the wary hunters -- into them. Inside, the creature warps reality in many ways, not least of them the spillage of countless familiars, who roam around, a small personal army of support. Outside, a small handful of familiars might roam, looking for victims of their very own -- and there's no visual sign of the labyrinth at all, just increased rates of violent crimes, of suicides.

Someone needs to tell this labyrinth to get in line, because... it seems the rules have changed. 'Why' is a crucial question, but there's no time to ask it, not really. 'What' is dominating too much of the world right now. What. What? WHAT?!

Shinjuku General Hospital is only recognizable by those who have seen it before; with every window a different jarring shade of red, pink, or an ominous black well beyond mere lightlessness, and every angle warped and bulging, it is at best a hospital that has strained the seams of its own definition, exploding outwards and imploding inwards at the same time. All that's left is a tangle, a twisted idea that has nothing -- at all -- to do with caring for the injured and ill.

Indeed, for those who haven't ever happened by this block of Tokyo, if it looks strongly like anything, it looks like a cake. The roof of the building has some kind of oozing substance overflowing from it, slowly dripping down the walls, garish, prismatic and gut-twistingly everchanging, like the world's weirdest frosting.

It is in some ways kinder to see the cake than the hospital, to not recognize what once was in what is; those injured in ways that can only be fixed with extreme plastic surgery might agree. But even those unfamiliar with the architecture are inescapably presented with a juxtaposition of the 'real,' the normal, and the bewitchedly weird that is totally unlike the expected line between 'labyrinth' and 'outside'. The stop sign has a special horror to it, with the hospital as backdrop; its red is utterly standard, but it seems washed out and miserable compared to what's only a sidewalk away.

The song that plays at the intersection, when it's time to cross, is heard by the citizens of Tokyo a hundred times a day, resounds banally across streets entirely, unnaturally, empty of people.

Despite that, there is a clear sense of movement. Looking at it from afar -- and it is afar, no one is yet closer than several blocks away -- is like looking at a super yanked out from an active beehive. It's also like looking at a pile of distant maggots. Both comparisons are apt -- there is a keen sense of /productivity/, of bustling, of being urgently busy, coming from the flickers of pink in the windows of the office building nearby, the way that dozens of concentric-ringed faces peer out of the windows from higher floors, but not a single eye.

There's a great deal of rustling to be had and heard in the storefronts on the other side of the street, too. In order down the block, there's a Starbooks; men's suit shop; laundromat; and cornerside konbini.

The quiet is terrible, but every once in a while it is broken by a shriek or scream that is all too human.

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aalI-pmhgb4

Shinjuku General Hospital. She'd seen it so many times before. Hospitals made for some fine hunting grounds. But she'd never seen it like this before. This shouldn't be happening. Before tonight she'd try to argue that it /can't/ be. But there's no sense denying what was right in front of her eyes. It made such a striking backdrop for a girl trying to place a call.

Voicemail. End call. Try again.

"Pick up! Come on. Come on. Pick up!"

She was going to feel really silly later. Madoka just forgot to charge her phone or something. Went dead right after she sent all those missed texts and calls out. Or maybe she just had a rough encounter with a slippery sidewalk and dropped it! She'd find her there later with puffy red eyes skinned knees and shards of a shattered phone and she'd tell her everything is alright.

Voicemail again. It didn't even ring.

"DAMN IT!" Her hand spasms around her phone so hard she almost makes that imagery real for herself.

That hand was tingling too hard to give the act too little force, a side effect of her breathing so quickly for so long. "Not your... not your..."


And logically she even knew it was true. But... she still needed time to calm herself down. And once she had, she begins typing out a text.

>I need help. Something big is going down in...

Elsewhere, she sticks a note under a magnet attached to the bottom of a metal plaque describing one of Japan's first efforts into space.

...Shinjuku, and a friend of mine might be caught in the middle.

She speaks into the receiver end of a phone, her opposite hand pinching her nose and the corners of her eyes.

"This has nothing to do with the Shepherds, but anyone who makes time to help out. I'll owe them big."

You don't expect the middle of Shinjuku to be as quiet as a forest on a snowy day. The sign of a nearby corner store flickering indolently the only sign of life other than her. She knew from her midnight coffee runs that it was just old, but the lack of people. Every time she wiggled her hip on accident, there was the chime of an automatic door sliding open- allowing the static of a lonely radio on a counter within to pour out. It all caused her to doubt the normality of things like that.

This was her territory, but everything felt different and wrong. She leaned against an empty car in the front of the lot- this old number with an empty carseat in the back.

She didn't look at that though.

Her eyes were upon the wrong windows that in her imagination was oozing ichor frosting from afar, arms crossed as she waited for the others to show- or not.

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

With a soft chitter of numerous legs, a spherical familiar clambers up the laundromat, its wiry black limbs seeking footholds in the brick. As it reaches the edge, yellow protrusions flop over the edge to help haul it over. Are they ears, arms? The body flops up atop the brick, bearing the same swirl pattern as many of the others, blue on white. Globular, it regains its legs easily, and makes an inquisitive sound creak.

A gleaming length of silver punctures the round body, indenting it deeply where it passes and sinking right into the brick below with a crunch. Skewered, the familiar's legs and "ears" flail weakly. Tugging the tip of her sword out of the brick, Sayaka swivels it to look at the speared little monster face-to-face.

"Looks like a gumdrop," Sayaka muses. With a flick of her arm, she slings the familiar from the end of her sword, sending it in a slow arc over to Garnet for disposal. Planting her foot on the edge of the building, Sayaka frowns at the cake-fortress confronting them.

The Chevaliers already know that Madoka is almost certainly in there--if she's alive. They have thus never seen Sayaka quite so stressed. Her eyes look tired, and her jokes have been fewer today than usual. But when she turns back to the group, it's with a wan smile. "Looks like just getting in is our first job. I've never seen a Witch claim part of the city like this. Cocky jerk..."

Brushing her chin wit a fist, Sayaka turns back to the hospital. "Okay. Mami-senpai knows how these things work; we're going to do her plan. The less attention we attract at first, the better. We just walk right down the road as far as we can. We wait until they notice us. Then, and not until then... we go as hard as we can, attack the door, get everybody inside."

Turning to Mami, Sayaka holds out a hand, palm up. "Ribbon us down?" she asks.

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

La Sirene du Nord had come, running, when the call came. She came so fast as to come in fact alone, which will probably leave Batiste anxious later. But there was no time to wait.

She has not smiled, save briefly, when Sayaka has managed a joke. When Sayaka looks to them she returns that gaze, saying as she shifts her grasp upon her lantern, "... Never?"

Unprecedented things are worrisome. "I will veil us, if you think it is wise," la Sirene murmurs, her head snapping up at a distant scream. After that, murmuring again, more closely, "Ribbon us down...?"

La Sirene holds out a hand too. (Nail color: Carmine.)

<Pose Tracker> Kyouko Sakura [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kC5AzFc3coo

More than music pumps through the slender white veins running into Kyouko Sakura's eardrums. There's a glut of police scanner applications for smart phones, but the one she uses is specialized to switch on automatically in cases of unusually high (or low) chatter, or rarely communicated codes, applicable to whatever major precinct she finds herself in. It's her alarm system for the city, and more than once the low squawks have pointed her patrols in a worthy direction.

Her music abruptly stops. Annoyed, she fishes out her phone, expecting the telltale glow of an automatic reboot following a crash. Instead she sees her scanner staring back at her, its histogram utterly still.

Quirking her eyebrows, she quits the app. Moments later it splashes back up, with the same result. With a few swipes she swaps over to Paris, and accented grunts fill her ears. Tama, too, though those voices are less foreign to her ears. But when she returns to the default Local, there is only silence. She's in Shinjuku, though barely, a block or two from Shibuya.

Glancing regretfully at her dumplings yet uneaten, she taps her index and middle fingers against her thigh, one and then the other, a few times. Placing her phone against the table, she hurriedly scoops the last of her food into her mouth with deft little plucks, hammering out a quick message to Eri.


Before she could send it, Eri's own text splashed over her screen, a group message that Kyouko was included in. Cursing audibly, she sets down her chopsticks a bit more forcefully than a civil person might, taking the last dumplings in her palm and mashing one into her mouth as she trots off.

She hasn't finished the last of the bunch when the first skittering little freak of a familiar curiously peeks out from under a car at her. Kyouko stops in mid stride, blandly staring at the tiny monster. Still chewing, a moment or two passes and she's wearing her armor, three crimson spines sticking out from the twitching terror.

Her hackles raise as things grow stiller and softer, the sounds of the city dispersing into a humid nothingness. Scaling a building, she first lays eyes on the abomination repulsing up against the broader skyline. It takes her aback as few things too, and the girl that returns to the earth is twice as cautious as before. She's glad to spot Eri a few turns after, and breaks her creeping, cautious stalk to jog up to her. She slows when she comes to her friend, but doesn't stop, instead pushing forward still.

"We need to be really careful. This isn't normal, so anything could happen. If we run into /them/..then we should propose working together. Until things get back to normal. Let's stick together.."

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

Mami Tomoe says nothing about the Familiar or what it looks like, as the Chevaliers dispose of it. She has been focused upon the cake-fortress confronting them as well, both for who is in it as well as what it is. The blonde is serious, and truth be told, afraid.

But that's why she spent extra time scouting at this distance to see all around the hospital--or at least, a wider arc than she'd be able to see otherwise. But mobility isn't a problem for her.

The group can possibly feel how tense Mami is, but maybe not; she has a certain distance to her even with her friends, and the Chevaliers have become friends. But this....

"I've never seen a Witch act this way either," Mami adds once Sayaka is done, her voice low but not so quiet that she can't be heard. "In all the Witches I've faced, I've never seen this. I'm not sure what it means."

"I'll get us down," Mami says, and starts forward, throwing out ribbons of gold from her wrist to the others and keeping one for herself, anchoring them at the edge of the roof. "Sayaka-chan has the plan. Just stay together and try not to be overwhelmed."

She leaps from the roof, holding one of her own ribbons, and leads the way down onto the street; the ribbons fade only when no longer needed.

Mami as she walks shares some of the same washed-out look in the strange light, just hints of yellow instead of golden hair, of faded blacks and browns, when the cake-light catches her just so. But she walks, right on a path that will take her past a certain car. She walks with purpose, but looking to and fro with each step, careful.

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

Fuu Hououji doesn't visit Shinjuku all that often, but she's still been here often enough to know what the hospital ought to look like - and upon seeing the current state of it, she's glad she listened to her gut and followed the wrongness on the wind.

Not because she wants to be here, mind you; just seeing the warped condition of Shinjuku General Hospital makes her wish she was somewhere else, and the prowling Familiars would be more at home in one of the less-comfortable video games she's seen than on the streets. The 'cake' is another matter entirely.

But that's why she *is* here: to help prevent harm to innocents, and rescue those who can be saved, if she's able. Alliances and rivalries don't matter to her in the face of a threat like this - they need to cooperate in the face of a greater threat.

At least, that's what she's been thinking.

A couple of arrows whistle through the air, one after another, sinking into a Familiar's head and torso; a moment later, the Magic Knight of Wind lands from a leap, her descent eased by a conjured updraft. There's a less-supernatural twinge in her gut as she spots the Chevaliers ahead of her, and a wince crosses the Wind Knight's face. She owes a deep apology to a certain pair of Puella Magi; at the same time, though, she wonders if this is the best time. Either way, there's no way she can get into the Labyrinth without help - either a Puella Magi opening the way, or the Witch itself reaching out to take her as another victim. The former would, of course, be much preferable.

The Wind Knight shakes herself out of those thoughts for the moment and looks around, in case there are more Familiars close by. Her bow remains ready in hand, her right arm just tense enough to reach up and pull out another arrow the instant she needs one.

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

The text to Kyouko came just before her own. Three tiny dots that morphed into her usual.


Is a text that Kyouko gets in addition.

Eri breathes a sigh of relief and uncrosses her arms, beginning to follow. Without her in the way, it's more obvious the convenience store has been rifled through- like just after a hold up.

There's no chalk outlines on the floor to mark the dissipated corpses of the ones who pushed it. But others had just scattered and she'd let them go.

She picks up into a slow jog, "It'd be crazy for them to show. They have to be running on half dirty gems at least, after the battle they just fought but- they'll definitely be here." There was no doubt of that in her mind.

But after a moment, "Not normal." She repeats a little cheekily, like that much is obvious- but there was some room for doubt even with her saying anything can happen, "You ever see something like this before- ever?" She licks her lips as her hand snaps out to shear a twitchy spiral creature in half, not even slowing down in her pace.

D&D night had been bad. Ueno had been bad. That night at Tokyo Metropolitan had been bad.

But it wasn't this.

And yet despite being a veteran herself, she wasn't one in the same way Kyouko was. She's definitely hoping her senpai will say 'yes.'

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

It is no surprise to Sailor Pluto when she feels the slip of paper trapped between metal and magnet. There is a negative charge in the air, a vertiginous feel to the pull of gravity, that she has sensed building over this last short span of time. She reads Eri's note, and starts walking even before she finishes the final sentence, urgency prickling the hairs at the back of her neck.


Nothing announces Pluto's approach; one moment she is not there, the next she is, jogging in step by Eri, evergreen hair trailing like a comet behind her. "I will follow your lead, Sakura-san," she says, clearly having caught Kyouko's mention of being careful and sticking together. "Is there anything else to know about Labyrinths, before it is too late to ask?"

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

Endo is tired. He's barely had time to recover from the earlier scuffle with the Wolkenritter, his body still sore and beaten from the fight earlier. But regardless he's here, standing with the Chevaliers and surveying the landscape ahead. The empty streets of Shinjuku are unnerving, almost as much as the bloated hospital that dots the skyline, but his newfound allies provide some small comfort in the face of the structure.

"Yaaa...I've never seen anything like this before." And he's seen a lot of things. The knight's gaze passes between the gathered Puella Magi and allies, a small nod made when it comes to the topic of who to follow and where to go. He seems happy enough that someone has a plan, he didn't do that part.

When ribbons are provided Endo gives a testing pull, recalling briefly his last encounter with such things. He decides these are safer. Sword is hefted over a shoulder, and down he goes.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

The tossed familiar arcs and poofs in a burst of... confectioner's sugar(?) as its form is disrupted by a large star-bearing gauntlet!

Garnet nods back to Sayaka and quickly scans the area for other nearby familiars, seeing a few milling about to their six-o-clock. She flattens her palms and with a burst of transformative light her fists blast out as rockets towards them, skimming the palms along the ground, kicking up dust (sugar?) and snow (frosting?) before they connect and explode on the familiars.

"That should cover us for now."

Her hands reform on her arms, and she follows the two Puella, whose instincts for leadership once again aligned with her own. Garnet doesn't show it exactly, but their presence is helping restrain the part of her that wants nothing more than to leap off immediately in a comet crash into the hospital, which is recklessly, exceedingly dangerous under the circumstances.

The Gem shapeshifts herself subtly to reduce her weight for anyone below her, should the worst happen, and climbs down the ribbon with the others.

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

The Fire Knight arrives not long after the Wind Knight, with an arrow of her own appearing as well. This one is made purely from fire, though, but it doesn't matter really. A few moments later she's landed near the Wind Knight and is going along with her, her sword gripped tightly. She's got a bad feeling about things right now and is seriously hoping they aren't as bad as she thinks.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Lipstick to Void https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTHDD1Xe-iE

It's so easy to make a plan like 'walk quietly forward as far as you can'.

It's as easy as walking by an office building door, which swishes open thanks to an overenthusiastic proximity trigger, and hearing a snatch of soothing elevator music, seeing a dimly lit atrium, and there, at the end, is the reception desk. A disc-faced nurse is filing her nails, swiveling the chair back and forth with one low heel. She looks up.

It's as easy as not looking down the alley, filled with garbage, debris, and a good dozen Pyotrs (the tiny familiars, the ones that are mostly eyeball, except that they aren't eyes at all). Most wear handsomely crisp nurse's caps, but one has a halo, and they all have floppy teal doggy ears. They are combing the garbage with single-minded intensity, but no skill at all, no method. One finds a kitten, and the sound it starts to make, when it is swarmed for inspection, pulled in all directions...

It's as easy as passing the line of nurses standing behind the Starbooks counter, systematically dismantling sandwiches. One throws a slice of bread forward, and it bounces dully off the glass window. The next strips out the basil with forceps, and the one after gets the roasted tomato with snappingly loud rubber gloves. The last nurse in the line takes what's left and bustles it into the back, with tender, loving attention. As the doors swing shut behind her, another nurse emerges from the opposite end of the kitchen to replace her. She starts dismembering the shrink wrap around the next sandwich with all the precision and care of a three-year-old on Christmas morning.

It's as easy as ignoring the whimpering, the baritone whimpering, of a salaryman who tried to make a break for it. He doesn't even make it out the front door of his office -- he is tackled to the ground by three Pyotrs on each other's shoulders, a horrible facsimile of a snowman. And a nurse is approaching him, flicking prismatic liquid from the end of her syringe's needle...

It's easy.


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

This was Sayaka's city. She was born here--not in Shinjuku Hospital but near enough--and she's never lived anywhere else. She's a Tokyo girl; it's in her dialect even, in ways she's too Tokyo to even recognize. The city's so big that that identity tends to blend in the background, but it's soaked into her more and more as she fights to defend this one-billion horse town.

But this part? It's not her city anymore.

The sights curdle the blood. The Chevaliers are walking into a funhouse of demented antics. Some of it would make Sayaka laugh, in a cartoon, but in real life it is grotesque. She watches the nurses deliver sandwiches, in a sense of 'deliver' not normally associated with food. "I'm not sure I can eat that cake tonight after all," Sayaka quips to Mami, but it isn't very funny, and she knows it.

"Naoki-san," she says to Endo as they walk. "I was... kind of on the other side of the park last time." Since Vita flew off with Endo. "I wanted to know... is there anything special you can do? Like Mami's ribbons, say. It would be good to know about it ahead of time."

Sayaka stops in the center of the street as the salaryman is pig-piled before her. It's undoubtedly best to ignore it; heaven only knows how many more people are trapped or under attack, here in this dense section of the city. The best way to help them is to kill the Witch. Even worse, for Sayaka, every moment they delay is another moment Madoka faces the far worse innards of the Labyrinth.

If she were alone, what would she choose? Sayaka's just glad she isn't.

"...mmph," she grunts, shaking her head, fists clenched. "Nori-chan, Garnet... we can't just watch this. I'll guard your backs. Senpai, get ready..." Mami has the best ranged attacks here; they might need that if this interference awakens this nightmare neighborhood to their presence.

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

Unfortunately(?) for the Wind Knight, she's not ignoring her surroundings; it makes it harder to advance, seeing the chaos being wrought, but she couldn't claim to be 'protecting the innocent' if she simply walks by civilians who are being attacked.

An arrow is drawn from the quiver, nocked to the bowstring, and pulled back; the Wind Knight doesn't seem to aim - there's no delay to sight down her arrow's length; she simply sets her gaze on that 'nurse' Familiar, seeing the syringe it's brandishing. She has to shoot past the Chevaliers' group to do it, but for one moment, while Sayaka is directing them, she has a clear shot.

And she looses, with just a whisper of wind magic to help speed her arrow on its way, to keep its flight true.

The arrow flies, zipping past Sayaka and Mami and the other Chevaliers, to strike the syringe - and ideally, to shatter it. At least it'll distract the nurse and throw off the Familiar's readiness to inject ... but it'll take more than one arrow to rescue the salaryman.

The Wind Knight is pulling out another arrow, but the rescue will probably be accomplished before she can line up a second shot.

<Pose Tracker> Kyouko Sakura [None] has posed.

Kyouko starts visibly as as Sailor Pluto manifests herself among them, a spear whispering into her grip. But she stops herself mid rotation, giving Pluto a long look that lasted less than a heartbeat before laughing and shaking her head.

"Jesus, I really am wound up.."

Rubbing her nose, she glances back to both of her companions, and answers the Senshi first, for it's the simpler response.

"They all kinda got their own..rhymes and reasons. They have their own rules and they make sense when you figure out what they are. Usually it has something to do with what they look like, for some reason. There's always a theme, and usually things are like a..blend, of the real life space and whatever that theme is. But they're always different, so you kinda gotta..figure it out each time. There will be more familiars inside. They might not be hostile, and there might be too many to just totally slaughter. But be careful, and don't let your guard down. The only innocent thing in a labyrinth is a person who gets trapped inside. When the Witch dies the labyrinth will die with it."

To Eri, she shakes her head.

"Like this? No, never even heard of it..there's only..." She hesistates, her jawline visibly protruding through her cheeks as she clenches her mouth in thought. "There's a sort of a..legend. Among Puella Magi. Only it's real, as I get it. A witch that isn't like the others. Or maybe..maybe many witches, a storm of witches. It drifts around the world like a..hurricane, or something. It doesn't live within a labyrinth, it's said. It just roams, and feeds. It's called


...whatever this is, I don't think it's that. But that just means we don't know anything. Maybe it's like a mutant or something, I dunno. That's why we gotta nip it in the bud, and not take any chances. Good news is there might be more magical girls here to help."

Activity starts to pick up as they creep their way along. It makes sense, and Kyouko's thankful for everything that makes sense. The nightcrawlers are still concentrated near their hive..a cat's distressed shriek carries to all their ears, but rushes of motion carry Kyouko's gaze past glass storefront walls. Glancing to her companions, she nods to them both, sure that they all have an implicit understanding. She only has one note to add.

"Don't run off without all of us."

SOUNDTRACK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8LtASFIR2E

A dozen blood-handled spears detonate into the coffee shop proper from the outside street, rendering a glittering constellation of glass shards rippling out through the once still surface of the exterior windows and pouring onto the ground en masse. Kyouko doesn't watch the creatures inside, doesn't wait to suss out their intentions. She simply devastates them, and much of the store with them, like a gatling gun pointed at an old west tavern from the outside. Only when things still does she enter the Starbooks, her bootheels crinkling along the dust and debris. Slowly, cautiously, she extends a spear in both hands, using its long length and razored tip to open up the kitchen door from a safe distance, and peer inside.

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

La Sirene looks up, at last, towards the hospital, which she has avoided looking at too closely. The strangeness oozing out of it does not read to her immediately as frosting, not exactly. It reminds her of - well, it's not a pleasant memory, even if it was not a profound horror, either.

But all of the rest of this--

La Sirene du Nord's heart and fate, perhaps, rest in a world other than this. She has walked between worlds and so can spot a difference here and there that might go unremarked by those who don't. But her ancient home holds rhyme and reason, however strange and inverted. This...

This feels to her, in an unsettling way, like a world unravelling, a loop broken. Unlike, perhaps, the ribbon loop around her arm. And then the man goes down before them. La Sirene breathes in sharply--

Sayaka absolves her. Or perhaps more accurately, frees her from fear: What if I ruined this all with my act? At least she would, in the worst case, share it with someone. "Yes," she says, sliding forwards and raising her lantern, and moving swiftly, though there is that advantage that the creatures are focused on that man. She turns partly away from them, left arm extended, raising her right and whispering the charm: "les mysteres, come"

And the motion comes down. There is a subtle thrum to it, but la Sirene is not trying to play it loud... and the eruption of silver-threaded darkness, black like ink that you can't quite rest your eye on, comes out more or less the same.

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

Part of her wondered if others would even come- but as Pluto shows up like an evengreen comet. She manages this brief smile, "Thanks for showing, Pluto. I really owe you one."

Part of her wonders if she's actually here for duty, or because she asked for her help.

The rest of her knew better than to put her in the position to have to answer that.

The thought of a witch that moves through the world like a force of nature- or many witches. If not for the situation, she'd have sworn she'd be looking at Kyouko only to find a flashlight turned on under her chin for spooky effect. But that's not it. She's too serious right now.

It causes this shiver to go up her spine like she just heard a violin screech of some distant score. Her eyes look incredulous for a moment before they snap to attention to the top of the hospital and it's colorful windows. "Let's not kill this thing before it creates a new urban legend."

The ground is slick enough that she slides to a stop- right by a darkened alleyway. In it's midst are a dozen familiars pulling at a garbage cat like tiny kids who found a bettle and are about to pull off a beetles legs. It screeches pitifully. One would think she'd want these familiars to remain alive. But with this many overrunning the place, and with that forming? She doesn't want any of these things around any longer.

And besides, she had a fondness for kittens.

A Starbooks on the other hand is being overrun, nurses peeling apart wrappings through a window. She notices where Kyouko's attention is, nods in understanding, "Don't let the allure of a free meal keep you for too long- senpai." She winks her way, before swivelling down the alley.

She rushes the alley like she's going to barrel right into them but- her arm snaps out to wrap a tendril of green around the eyeball torso of one of them. With a brisk yank, she tugs it off its legs, and leaps off the ground in her own version of an axel, except on the landing, she twists, tugs the mass over her shoulder, and sends the twitching familiar up and over- like she just spiked some tethered volleyball.

They let go, but it sends the grey furred kitten flying up in a shriek that makes it clear this definitely wasn't it's plan.

Cats land on their feet right?

She's still running forward, her heels touching down on the fast fading body of a Pyotr. Maybe she'll catch it?

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

Endo proceeds with caution as the group moves through the street, sword slumping off his shoulder and crunching on the pavement behind him, scraping across the ground as he drags it by his side. He remains alert, eyes darting back and forth, trying to track the street for signs of movement and appearance of the twisted things that've taken over Shinjuku.

"Aaah, special?" Sayaka's question is met with a pensive look, Endo's brows furrowing in thought before he replies: "I don't think so. I just have Stern." His sword is half-lifted in indication. "Don't worry, we'll watch your back." He assures.

When the salaryman appears-and is summarily tackled-Endo takes a half-step forward. With Nori and Garnet on the case, though, he settles into a more defensive stance and scoots to the side to cover his allies from anything that might come out of the woodwork when they disturb the scene.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet barely waits for the word from Sayaka before he rushes off leaving a smeared image of color and a WHOOSH where she stood only a half-second before, leaving a small kickback of force and wind. She blurs along the side, covered by La Sirene's darkness, and appears behind the salaryman and his attackers a moment after Fuu's shot connects, and she brings her fists down, one on each "stack" of snowman-stacked Pyotors restraining, and with a furious cathartic cry, crushes them as hard as she can until they poof away!

In a simmering display of the brutality and grace of her battle presence, as soon as she lifts her right fist from one of the poofing Pyotors, she rears back and elbows the third breaking it apart into a cloud and leaps fist forward into the nurse tackling it to the ground like they did the salaryman and hitting it! Once!



The Crystal Gem has spent so much time and energy of late fighting other magical warriors... arguing with them about saving humans from familiars...

She gives her all into this moment, to show with heart and action, ANY in doubt that could be watching, how it should be... MUST be done.

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

"Of course, Shimanouchi-san," is her steady reply. "It's good you reached out."

Sailor Pluto attends closely to Kyouko's explanation as they jog through the empty streets, her garnet gaze a bit unsettling in its intensity. She nods once when the other girl finishes, finally looking away and ahead with the gesture.

When the two Puella Magi split off it is no decision at all for Sailor Pluto as to where she'll go, not while she can hear the miserable mewling of that tiny kitten, an inexorable and inescapable gravity well capturing her heart. She's right on Eri's heels, spinning the Garnet Rod end over end between deft fingers until it's a circular sheen of silver edged in crimson light.

  • whrrCRaCKwhrrrCRACKwhrrrrr*

Garnet Rod meets Pyotrs, and the sickening impacts punctuate that menacing whir of metal. The two magical girls sweep through and past, leaving fading husks of Pyotrs scattered about the alley like so many leaves crushed underfoot. Swift-legged as she is, Pluto falls behind Eri a couple of steps and tucks the Garnet Rod under one arm -- she runs quietly, as evidenced by her unheralded arrival earlier, and so it's not too difficult to do so without alerting the verdant Puella Magi.

It gives her the time and space she needs to be between a flying fuzzball and kitten-shattering concrete. Maybe cats land on their feet, but surely the warmth of a pair of arms is better. Pluto catches up to Eri some twenty seconds later, sprinting hard.

Back in the alley, a little grey kitten is tucked away in the dubious, but better-than-nothing safety of a pile of boxes and newspapers, hopefully hidden from the wandering Eyes of the roving familiars.

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

Shinjuku has not belonged to Mami in some time, but this is not the sort of hostile she expected of it, with a monster she can't even engage with other than to attack. ...Not even her habits of hunting make this anything resembling normal rather than awfully, terribly strange.

So she walks carefully, looking back and forth, back behind the group where she can watch everyone. This lets her hear Sayaka's joke. She does not laugh.

"Ah," Mami answers, and sounds distant rather than tense. "I'll make you something else."

She skips the next question, but then she too sees the salaryman in the middle of the street. It would be wisest to skip him over, to leave him and avoid the risks of a conflict here, to hurry ahead to Madoka, her real emphasis here. It would be simple, for that matter, to do.

But five girls call at her to do otherwise, and older memories besides.

"I'm ready," the veteran Puella Magi answers Sayaka.

But part of being ready for her is to approach once Nori's magic has been used, once Fuu's arrow has crashed past, once Garnet approaches.

Mami is still watching carefully as she walks forward and kneels beside the man, murmuring, "It's all right. You'll be all right. This will all be over soon. Just avoid the hospital, and stick to the main road." Her voice is soft, soothing, though probably loud enough for the others to hear if they wish. It doesn't take her long to deliver her message, however.

She'll stand up shortly thereafter, look toward the hospital again, hand curling into a fist of nerves before she starts towards it again.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Ou Mono https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMK7Y2WwvCU

It's easy to descend into chaos, too. It's as easy as breathing in a place like this. The chaos was already here -- it's not so much that the mirror is shattered or the prelude's sweet softness rudely broken. One is simply joining the dance.

The salaryman is sticky with his own sweat, and other fluids, too. His knees are worn to threads in a way that suggest that he's been on them for hours. Rocking may have been involved. And the needle is an inch from his arm, less even, when Fuu's arrow breaks the glass above it (the crack spiderwebs, until the whole apparatus /becomes/ spiders, little rainbow ones which skitter away) -- when La Sirene's darkness rolls in like fog over Tokyo Bay, true mercy amid this assault on the senses. He stumbles out even as Garnet rushes in, and when it's clear again, when Mami's sent him on his way, when Sayaka can look upon what her planning has wrought and know that it is good --

-- that's when the second nurse, the nurse behind the first one, so perfectly aligned that she was invisible... looks down at the blood-colored lollipop in her hand and... crushes it.

It's like a signal. Before the bits of sugar have hit the ground, that office building they passed, the doors slide open again. Led by the receptionist nurse, a small army of Pyotrs -- each one having claimed a yellow office supply of some kind, including staplers, sticky notes, a toner cartridge, a poster -- rush the group of Chevaliers from behind.


The alley is quiet, the kitty is saved, but Eri and Sailor Pluto have the discomfited feeling that they're being watched.


That wasn't the little gray one they just saved.


Neither was that one.



Long shadows advance on the two girls, slowly shrouding them in darkness but for their opposing green and garnet eyes. Long shadows, cast by short creatures. Alley cats who weren't so lucky. Alley cats with prismatic pupils, colors changing with every blink.

They charge...

BGM Switch: Lullaby https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wRNX94fU94

...and the Starbooks kitchen door slides open, forced to render its secrets at spear-tip. The room has been repurposed as... a hospital, of all things. A triage ward, perhaps. The various islands each have the only piece of the sandwich that remains -- the cheese -- laid out on meticulously crafted beds that are definitely made from laundry stolen from next door. Some have been torn, and careful hands are doing surgery, pushing bits of dairy into each other in order to fill gaps, to make them whole. Others have survived their operation and are being gently rocked in warm pink arms.

The door creaks.

It can't help itself, and it renders Kyouko's attempt at stealth to naught.

All of the nurses inside simultaneously look up, look /back/. Eyeless faces have no handicap when it comes to a staring contest. Quite the opposite...

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

'Behind the Chevaliers' puts the Magic Knight of Wind far closer to the newest threat than she had any desire to be, and the rush of Familiars --

-- quite apart from nearly giving her a heart attack that she thought she was *FAR* too young to deal with, thank you very much --

-- is upon the Wind Knight much, much, *MUCH* faster than she can be prepared for. There are too many Familiars for her to shoot even if their distance wasn't already an immediate and pressing worry; even if they stood still at perfect archery range, she would run out of arrows - even from a seemingly inexhaustible quiver - and barely leave a mark in their numbers.

Possibly the situation is a little less dire than it feels like, but for all that Fuu prides herself on calmness and rational thinking, the evolving scenario is FAR from conducive to either of those traits. Still, the Magic Knight of Wind endeavors not to lapse into panic; her bow and quiver vanish, her sword manifests in her hands, and she sets about carving herself a little niche of safety against the Familiars' relentless march. Even with her sword, the Wind Knight finds herself falling backwards, step by step, hoping and praying that she doesn't lose her footing.

"Sayaka-san, Mami-san -" She pauses briefly in calling out to the two Puella Magi, a brief interruption to swing her blade at a couple more Pyotrs. "- I believe I owe you a serious apology," she continues. "And very likely to the rest of the Chevaliers as well ... will you pardon me, though -" Another swing. "- if I wait to make that apology -" And another. "- *after* we're not in such a dire predicament?"

It's most likely not just the current rush of Familiars that she means, but honestly? She can't afford to face this fight without grouping up, and if she hadn't figured that out before this moment, she knows beyond any *semblance* of doubt just how badly she needs someone at her back ... ideally, someone who isn't holding a grudge.

Gods know where she'll find someone like that, if she somehow ticked off the Chevaliers even worse than she already thinks she did by abandoning them ...

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

There's a breath of relief from Endo when the first nurse goes down, along with the familiars that move with it. Mami ensuring the salaryman gets on his way gets a nod of approval from Endo, just a short one before his eyes lock on the remaining nurse, and then the forces that it summons.

Thankfully, he's lingered behind to keep an eye out for just such an occasion. Or a similar occasion. He probably didn't exactly plan on facing down a tiny office supply wielding army. Still, he's quick to step forward to block the way toward the rest of his new allies.

<FOES APPROACH.> The warning comes from his device, the purple stone at its pommel flaring in warning.

"I've got it." The knight may not have any particularly special abilities, but he's well-equipped to handle the first wave of the small army of familiars that are rushing out of the office and up the street. He does his share with a heave of his sword, a huge overhand swing that sends the blade crashing into pavement and pyotrs alike, creating a spray of confectionary puffs, concrete, and post-it notes as the frontrunners of the hoard are extinguished.

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

Pluto doesn't have to catch up to Eri for the simple fact that she stops so abruptly that she scatters trash water- fit only for a sewer outwards down the alleyway. And stares. Her head swivels for a moment just to catch a glimpse of her ally tucking away the kitten in newspapers and boxes-

And then forward again at long shadows of kittens with prismatic pupils, and the chorus of mews among a cloud of steaming vents.

A motion of her forearm sends the whip up for her to catch and instantly coil back into her arms. A snap of her left wrist causes another to form. "Pluto. Trouble."

With her left she sends one out to sting the lead's nose with a thorn, before she snaps her other into it's close follower- like taking a grater to it.

Darting to the left, she presses her heel against the wall, working her wrists to loop each, before spinning outwards to slam down both lengths into their midst with an impact that pulverizes concrete. Probably catching several...

Shinjuku had many strays. In the past sometimes she chose the alleyways where she knew they were hidden, just to 'miss' the dumpster with her leftover lunch.

She imagined that given how Mikoto carries herself about on Eri's territory, some of these doomed felines that she was turning into dead husks were the girl's personal friends. These are the kind of things she tries not to think about as she works to demolish them.

But there are many. Like a beehive that had just had a stone thrown at it, more are coming. Mixed in with the familiars who gave them a kiss, more eyeball spirals and twitching nurses wielding syringes.

Her twin lashes are how she returns the favor.

She's quiet for most of this grim work other than the sounds of her heavy breathing, the snaps of her whips- and the grim shrieks. There's nothing really pleasant to talk about in an abattoir. Sometimes she may have an appreciation for graveyard humor, but now isn't the time.

They just had to keep... moving... forward.

<Pose Tracker> Kyouko Sakura [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYBqlD7AJOQ

Kyouko's boots grind in the ground, corded muscles swelling into prominence along her hands. Her lip curls like a snarling dog, and she's careful not to move. Not yet. Her low voice spills over the room like red wine on carpet.

"I'm gonna eat your babies..."

Snapping her spear up above her shoulder, she hurls it in one of the most ancient of human traditions at the nearest nurse. Bending over backwards like a cascading slinky, she catches herself on her hands, her body a perfectly reversed "U." Her colleague, mislead by the illusory safety of a position beyond the front line, wobbles on her feet before toppling into dust, poleaxed through the stomach.

The rest of them explode into movement, four more besides Kyouko's initial target, still recomposing herself after her brush with oblivion. Their pace belies the care they take in weaving amidst the many little "cots" they've assembled for themselves, and takes every advantage of their long legged insubstantiality. Each bears an implement. A bonesaw, a scalpel, a set of defibrilators, a surgical drill. Behind them all the sagged maiden stands, and squirts a dribble of iridescent goo from a needle-tipped chamber.

Charging ahead of the rest, Bonesaw leaps towards Kyouko head on, slicing wide swathes in the air and angling for headmeat. Kyouko drives her spear up from a low angle, penetrating the nurse's chin from below and kicking her torso back, letting the weapon and the twitching corpse fall away from her. Scalpel comes from the side, her blade catching a shooting star gleam as it sailed for Kyouko's side. A blade in the spearfighter's grip, more a dagger than a polearm, captures its own light as it plunges into the side of the nurse's neck. Kyouko james it forward, then back at a diagonal, forming two sides of a triangle before attempting to slip away in a ninety degree turn.

Drill's trill is the only thing that stays her path, and keeps her head from whipping into the whirling tip. Kyouko less crouches than collapses down to her knees, narrowly evading the power tool's haymaker arc. Recognizing that the trap has failed to spring, Drill drives down for a killing stroke, but Kyouko shoves back against her angles with all her strength, rolls off to the side to avoid the collapsing blade, and lashes her hand out, a narrow stilleto sprouting from her palm to impale her opponent from ear to ear.

She's halfway back on her feet when the berserk humming of two metal pads brush their basilisk kiss against her shoulderblades, drawing a startled and pained yelp from the savage girl. Collapsing forward to her knees, Defibrilator kneels with her, embracing her with crossed arms from behind as her implements slowly hum back to full strength. When they do, she brushes their lips just above Kyouko's breasts, scalding her with a heart-starting explosion of electricity.

And Syringe comes upon them, her hollow dagger oozing.

Kyouko snarls like a wildling, reeling from the repeated shocks as the needles grows in her sight like a slow-falling meteor consuming the sky in its approach. An articulated spear sprouts from her back like a tentacle, bursting through Defibrilator's chest before arching back and shredding the no-faced disc that approximated her head, continuing on past Kyouko's shoulder to shred Syringe's threatening arm as thoroughly as any woodchipper, following up through her shoulder and twisting into her lollipoped visage to utterly ruin her alien physicality, before it all evaporates into nothingness on the ground.

Hauling herself to her feet, Kyouko storms throughout the room, gathering all the cheese she lays eyes on into her fist, squeezing it into a misshapen, chunky ball, and plunging it into her mouth like a fairy tale giant. Chewing with angry satisfaction, she manifests a fresh spear and kicks the corner of a kitchen island before stalking out of what's left of the store.

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

Cat-shaped swaths of darkness lengthen, criss-cross, and mask alley and magical girls alike in deepening shadows. One of the stalking horrowshows, feline in form and nightmarish in essence, hisses and Sailor Pluto fights the immediate impulse to shrink back. Horror and sorrow vie for ascendance, rendered especially vivid in contrast to the fresh memory of fragile, mewling hope as it cowered in the palms of her hands.

"Together, then," she replies to Eri.

Pluto tightens her two-handed grip on the haft of the Garnet Rod, finding reassurance in its cool resilience. These are already fallen; she must only formalize their ends. It's a familiar sort of needful task, this mercy slaying of lost innocents.

So it is that she swallows, sets her teeth, and meets the yowling leap of one nightmare-cat -- its eyes a fervid green -- with a blast of crimson brilliance, stunning it midair and sending it into a harmless tumble. Too late, Pluto catches a blur of brown-and-white from the corner of her eye, and before she can leap aside feels the searing needle-grip of cat fangs sink deep into her right calf -- they slice through her boot like it's tissue paper. Her pained yowl joins the angry chorus of their assailants.

Then the cat-things are coming just as fast as she can react, and she's spinning the Rod this way and that, doing her level best to bat away incoming and sometimes failing and taking a rake of claws or more puncture wounds for each lapse. She stays as close to Eri as she can, fighting defensively and conserving energy. "We should-- loop back around to Sakura-san!" Countless tiny rivulets of red streak down her legs, testament to their foes' numbers.

"Just need some... space...!"

Sailor Pluto strikes a wide stance and slams the end of the Garnet Rod down on the cement, and red power flares from the point of impact and rushes outward in a half-circle, blasting away and back at the whole banshee-shrieking pack of pursuing once-cats and their kaleidoscopic eyes. She doesn't put a lot of power into it -- she feels in her bones that this will be a long fight -- just enough to call up a pale echo of the Rod's full potential shielding energy. It disrupts the swarming charge and lets the girls gain a precious seconds of breathing room. It's not a lot, but maybe it's enough...

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

"Stern, huh?" Endo isn't giving Sayaka a lot of detail. She looks at the sword and infers. "...kind of a basher, huh? Well, that's okay. I'm not as strong as you probably, but I'm kind of a basher too. Just... try to keep your head down when Mami starts shooting. I'm sure you saw that yesterday, but..." Sayaka spreads her hands as if to indicate a large cylinder. "Some of those guns shoot real big."

Mami doesn't seem to follow. If Sayaka can't eat Mami's cake, there's nothing that could appetize her. "That's not..." she falters ruefully.

The zing of an arrow brings Sayaka's head around, and she narrows her eyes at the presence of the Magic Knights. Nori conceals the work Garnet does with those familiars, and though Sayaka understands the necessity quite well, it still seems like a damn shame. She can feel Garnet's passion despite her blank face, and an answering commitment rises in her own chest. Darn right this is how it should be. Everyone should see it. Satisfied, she turns her eyes to the remaining nurse. It's hard to understand what threat the lollipop could be, but as it rises, Sayaka feels increasingly anxious. Her hand twitches on her sword-hilt.

The crack of the lollipop is answered by eyes without eyes.

Sayaka flips her arm up underhand, slinging her sword right through the second nurse's chest, but it's too late to cut off the alarm. A great marching army of foes advances in pursuit, and Sayaka rotates her body smoothly, her cloak lifting of its own accord to drop a sword for her to snap from the air.

"Nori-chan," Sayaka says. "The Magic Knights are going to get cut off. You're going to have to go back and--"

Sayaka blinks as the Knights appear. Slowly, a smile spreads on her face. "Apology, huh? I'd say so. If Hikaru-chan's forgiven you though, I guess I have to at least consider it." She winks roguishly. "I don't like to lose to another swordsgirl."

SOUNDTRACK - Immortals https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBiQCZd8UII

Turning to the others, who have no doubt already begun the battle, she calls out loudly. "Quiet time's over! We're going for the hospital hard, and we're going with the Magic Knights! Let's make noise, Chevaliers! We'll show Shinjuku how magical girls are supposed to handle familiars!"

The densest legion of familiars is behind them, but as Sayaka rushes forward, trusting in others to cover the rear, a chicken skewer truck bulges under the trembling pressure of something inside, then buckles at the windows and doors, spilling out a battalion of Pyotrs armed with skewers and menus. Sayaka goes in low into the first wave of Pyotrs, sweeping them up and tossing them high into the air, their punctured bodies poofing audibly one by one like poppers. Lifting her leg high, she axe-kicks down into another that's advancing on her ankle, but two others leap instantly as though kicked up by the impact, hurling themselves onto Sayaka and clamping onto her shoulders by some obscure method, gnawing with their faces. Sayaka stabs back over her shoulder as she walks, poofing one off immediately, and peels the other painfully from her shoulder before slamming it against the bumper of the broken skewer truck as she reaches it. "That doesn't help you at all," she tells it darkly, as the wound on her shoulder begins to knit. "See?"

Her knee rams into the chirruping candy savagely, bursting it in one blow.

As the Chevaliers and Magic Knights get closer to the hospital, the response only grows stronger, and more focused at defending the Labyrinth. The Pyotrs are easy to dispatch, but their nurse allies are stronger, and Sayaka fears their syringes in a way she doesn't fear a normal cut. Duelling them is difficult, as their limbs do not function in a normal human fashion, and attacks often come from an unexpected angle. But the familiars have perhaps made an error in blocking off escape; trapped animals fight savagely. No... perhaps Sayaka would have fought savagely already.

Pinning a syringe against the roof of a car with her sword, Sayaka twists her free elbow into the convex "face" of a nurse. "Madoka," she hisses, slamming down into it over and over. "Madoka, Madoka, Madoka..." She's starting to pant as the nurse's face grows flat, then concave, finally pounding against the car window with a splintering crack as the body goes limp. Hauling back, Sayaka kicks that limp head right through the window straight-on, then wheels about to continue forward towards the increasingly imminent loom of the cake-hospital. The body poofs after a few seconds, suddenly dissolving into air.

"Almost there!" Sayaka shouts behind her, to the Chevaliers fighting the rearguard action. Glancing back to check on them, she nearly takes a syringe in the face, her fencer's instincts juking her shoulders and head aside even as her knees instinctively lunge. Spearing the offending nurse through the head, she grabs its wrist as the syringe comes in again, and after a moment's struggle, rips her sword out the side of the head. She's directly in front of the main entrance of the hospital, now, but still a good hundred meters away. Starting to jog, then run, she slashes back and forth as she goes. There's an odd car in her way, with a skinny urban tree tied atop it by four lengths of police tape, one for each of the four largest "limbs" of its roots and branches. Sayaka just runs right up it and off the other end to reach the hospital, though she waits just off the sidewalk.

"We're here! We're here now! We all have to go in..." Sayaka pauses, turning to face Eri as the Shepherds approach.

"...together," she finishes with narrowed eyes.

Numerous Pyotr start to line up behind the car and push it towards Mami Tomoe, building up momentum until it's like a careening shopping cart. The tree atop it bounces and bobs as if in confusion.

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

They're coming towards them. La Sirene turns her head - as her charm requires her to face her enemy in the most forward of ways (sideways) she is well postured to spot them coming. She tosses the Brazen Pharos over her head, which might be a joyous trick were it not meant to simply let her change direction easily.

It also means she is able to easily look at Fuu, even as Sayaka is about to send her to fetch them back to the group. Right there! That saves her some trouble. And yet...

The complex emotional alchemy inside of the contrary heart of la Sirene du Nord is given a new source of energy. From an abstract position she might thank Fuu, for her fear, her sick dread, her sense of looming helplessness - the defeated sense that they will find Madoka ripped apart or impaled, even if this Witch may be slain - is given something to focus on.


La Sirene's grip on her lantern shifts, holding it backwards even as she starts to move her hand imperceptibly, playing that fine-tuned brass handle like the subtle workings of an elaborate bassoon. The concealing brass cover flutters, sparkles of those impossible colors swathed in inverse light streaking ahead - enough that Fuu might sweat it a little, but every burst is heading towards a familiar flanking her, flanking them.

La Sirene steps backwards, her head tilting to the side as her eyes lock with Fuu's for a moment. She reaches to her wrist and tugs down the lace of her sleeves, revealing a small discoloration on the back of her hand, easily overlooked yet highlighted somehow now, though the color is a bit wrong for a scar. "Hououji," she states, even as Pyotrs suffer a strange and withering fate underneath this light. "I bled for Cephiro:"

"Tonight you begin your repayment. Haste!" And with this she turns on her heel, twirling round the Pharos and tossing it in the air, whereupon it happens, by full coincidence, to dump enough of that light onto a flanking nurse that Fuu and any other laggards can see that it /pours/, almost as much as it shines.

La Sirene snatches the Pharos out of the air and holds it aloft. From here she doubletimes forwards, letting the wind (such as it is) catch her coat tails. The Pharos is left to shine, partly ajar, its gaze pivoted round like a searchlight before her; the occasional stray Pyotr gets a kicking en route, or if necessary, a treading-upon.

La Sirene sees the tree coming, of course, if not its context. This makes her frown even in her sublimated fear and fury. That one is unlikely to be so easily stopped. But -- "Mami-san!!"

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet scolds herself for missing the second nurse, and is as grateful for the other Chevalier's heroic struggle against the oncoming horde of familiars as she is remorseful for her accidental role in their summoning. They've bought her precious moments of decision that she promises not to let go to waste.

Sayaka's flying sword literally beats her to the punch, and she gets an idea. Rather than punch the Nurse, Garnet grabs it with both hands and crushes it inward onto the edges of Sayaka's sword, until the nurse poofs from their combined efforts!

Garnet presses her gauntlets through the Nurse's powdered sugar, closing them around the sword, and leaps upward, and backward, to onto a nearby wall. As she moves through the air, her gauntlets glow with electricity, that flows bright red into Sayaka's sword, becoming a cool purple with the mixing of their magics. When she "lands" she pushes herself back, preparing for a grand leap over the swarm. Before she kicks off, Garnet hurls the elegantly crafted straight sword towards a thick regiment of Pyotrs and Nurses between Nori and Fuu and Sayaka's forward charge.

It crackles and pierces through a single Pyotyr.

Then explodes with a pulse of ball lightning, poofing a number of them outright, and stunning a still noticable but more scattershot remainder! (to be run past, scattered or shot, as desired.)

Garnet then bounds off the wall with a long leap, following, Sayaka's lead to the hospital.

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

Mami missed Sayaka's joke, and appears to keep missing it for the moment; rarely her partner has seen her with this sort of focus, or perhaps not all that rarely at all.

In the moment she is focused on the salaryman, and she looks after him as he goes long enough to be certain he won't fall.

She doesn't so much as look at the Magic Knights during the conflict, but then there is a crunch. A crunch, and then Fuu speaks, even as Sayaka directs La Sirene back.


Mami's expression does not suggest anything forgiving, in the moment, as she looks between Sayaka and then Fuu. "We can discuss this sometime we /aren't/ in a hurry," she points out with her archest voice. Nevermind the creatures crashing out around them.

As Familiars rush in behind them, Mami goes back to Sayaka's forward, throwing up her hands and conjuring a long, wide ribbon to force back en entire line of Pyotrs at once, twirling as they start to stand up and move around it to pull rifles and fire fire fire one shot through each head with deadly precision.

She runs with the others, firing back here and there to knock down the right one to block a few more, across the road as they get closer and closer. But then... They're close enough that their escape is cut off.

Mami moves forward, not back. Sayaka rushes past that odd car, but Mami lags behind, picking up more rifles to punch away into the crowd closest to the Chevaliers and Magic Knights. But she still isn't there when Sayaka says they'll go together. She's still walking when the car rushes towards her, jogging even, and her eyes widen at the sight of it. La Sirene calls out to her and Mami bends at the knee, leaping upward into the air and to the side away from the tree, out of the path of the vehicle that crunches over where she was just moments ago. She has to wrench herself midair to conjure a wave of guns down at the Pyotr who nearly flattened her, but wrench she does, firing through each with bursts of golden magic.

She falls to the ground as they're blasting away with the impact of the bullets, and two rifles fall to her sides, two more out of her sleeves, two more pulled from her bak, and she fires scattershot-fast at the ones remaining from Garnet's blasts, the air before her still smoking with gunfire.

...With that, Mami pushes herself up and jogs the rest of the way to Sayaka, leaving the car behind. She notices the appearance of the others...

"Yes," Mami says, as she looks over Eri and the Shepherds. "I'm willing to go together, on this," she says to Sayaka.

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

Things die easily tonight. Too easily, maybe.

Light shimmers over Sayaka's shoulder.

Maybe not.

The blades are out, and some are sharp enough to cut the wind while others, so immense that they can poof a whole group of familiars in a single blow. Others have to work together, and work harder, but work they do.

Thorned lashes and garnet rods strike widely in a narrow alley, spears large and small clear out a kitchen.

And as unlight -- and lightning -- flood the road, bullets comprise a long rain that falls, and fells, what's left.

Suddenly -- momentarily -- Chevaliers and Shepherds alike have run out of familiars to slay, and the place that was once a hospital looms close. The double emergency room doors spring open helpfully, sliding out of the way, then abruptly gape inward like unhinged jaws. An inexorable force sucks everyone forwards, first through this strange portal, then through heavier wooden doors, a set of curtains, then metal blast doors, then beads that might have been strung M&Ms, doors with red, rune-written lights over them...

Door after door after door blur by in an instant, the eyeblink of hallway between each one either black or pink. The only door that does not make an appearance is one marked EXIT.

BGM Swap: PonPonPon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzC4hFK5P3g

It is pitch black here -- and warm.

It smells sweet, not sweet like Madoka's cocoa is sweet, but sweet like shave ice scooped by a scary stranger, with too much syrup, too many chemicals. It stains. It causes stomachaches.

The lights come up slowly, from no single place in particular, revealing that the group has landed at a crossroads. There are a dozen spidery paths wending away in every conceivable directions, and a few inconceivable ones as well.

Everything seems to rise and fall irregularly. There is no single horizon, and no way to see anything at any distance, but despite that there is a very keen sense of /space/ that is also very atypical for these labyrinths. Their size is usually mostly thanks to density, so much maze packed into so little space that it overwhelms.

This is as dense as any prior labyrinth, but it's also huge. How did it get so big -- so powerful?

Well, how does anything get that way?