2017-04-09 - The Long Way Home

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Title: The Long Way Home

It's time to leave Hokkaido behind, but the magical girls have some unfinished business with the Obsidian Beast who blizzard'd Tokyo and ate Santa Claus, first...


Fate Testarossa, Hikaru Shidou, Nori Ankou, Fuu Hououji, Lera Camry, Setsuna Higashi, Kasagami Araki, Rei Hino, Takeo Akamizu, Rinji Sakurai

GM: Hotaru Tomoe


Hokkaido Snowy Island

OOC - IC Date:

04-09-2017 - 01-11-2015

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Life Is A Highway https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3sMjm9Eloo

The Sister Schools' time at Ski Lodge Kimata has come to an end. The proprietors have been thanked (with a quickly-arranged song from the combined school choirs, no less), the rooms have been left cleaner than they started, the bags have been packed, the busses have been loaded, and where school segregation was pretty strict getting here, one reflection of the success of this bonding exercise is that they're all a jumble on the way home.

Spirits are high on board; kids are happy to play cards on the wide seats with their companions, or share screens on their handhelds (or any remaining snacks from their bags!), or just swap stories of their exploits on the slopes -- and their plans for when they make it back to Tokyo. Actual schoolwork looms, of course, but there's always plenty to do in the big city everyone calls home, even so.

It's kind of lukewarm inside the bus; ski jackets remain common for cozying purposes, even though the heat is running full blast, because cold is seeping through the glass on the sides, inexorable as a breeze. The wintry countryside on the other side of the window is the height of pastoral loveliness, but increasingly difficult to see behind veils of white; snow that had been threatening from heavy clouds is starting to pour down in earnest.

Up front, the driver and the teachers (who are in the first embankment of seats) exchange looks and soft words. All in all, the decision seems to be to press on, and so the wheels on the bus go round and round, down a quiet country road towards Sapporo, where ferries will get them the rest of the way home.

The warmth of the people more than outweighs the cold outside; this bus is pleasant and lively.

OOC: Every PC in this room happens to be on the same bus! Feel free to include favorite NPCs in your festivities.

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

Lera Camry isn't wearing her ski jacket. Instead, she has her dark green coat on her lap, and is wearing the winter uniform of Infinity Institute. She looks out of the window of the bus, at where the mountains of Hokkaido threaten to shrink away -- of course, with a downpour of snow, how cana they not? She sighs, nonetheless. For her, Hokkaido is the closest she has seen to home on Earth.

And, somehow, watching it recede makes her feel a melancholy at odds with the general cheer aboard the bus. But, it is warm, adn she has a wistful smile as she looks out the window.

A little homesickness isn't that new to her.

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

A pair of Ohtori Academy Students are amidst the many other students on the bus. Rinji Sakurai, the relative newcomer to Ohtori Academy is cozying it up with Kasagami Araki, a student Council executive!

Rinji herself seems rather quiet, occasionally writing on a notepad she has in her hands and showing off whatever it is she has been writing to Kasagami. If they are trading notes, its a sort of one-sided note-trading affair they are doing.

As the bus ride progresses however, Rinji leans towards the window and peers outside, glancing towards the front of the bus before looking to Kasagami with a curious look. She raises a hand into the air, and wiggles her fingers downwards slowly as she brings the hand down, and then jerks her thumb outside at all the snow coming down. Too bad they are leaving the ski slopes before getting a chance to play in the powder!

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

On the bus Setsuna Higashi is quiet, but then, she's usually quiet. Quieter than usual, maybe; she got the loud part of her morning done earlier. She's still dressed in her cold gear, complete with red coat, rather than changing into her uniform like her seatmate... Because she does happen to be sitting with Lera again on the bus. Her time on the trip back is going to be split a bit, but right now she's looking out the window, past the taller girl beside her. ...And she's looking at Lera's face.

Quietly, she takes Lera's hand, though she doesn't say anything; she just looks out towards the mountains and the snow, and lets herself be here among the liveliness of the other students.

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

Nori Ankou has taken her parka off - it is not Akamira, for once - and is cuddled up against a window corner, a manga phonebook on her knee but not really looked at that closely. She's tucked her legs up and seems tired, but strong - or at least comfortable.

She looks at the scenery. In a strange way now, she reasons, it feels just like scenery -- nothing more.

Rei Hino arrives from Japan.

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

The Disciplinary Executive seems quite content with this particular arrangement. She's sat like royalty, one leg crossed over the other and leaned to the side ever so slightly. In front of her is a fancy typewriter of all things! Most of the time through the trip, she's been splitting her time hammering home on the keys and peering to that notebook offered her way.

Every now and then, her rich, hearty laugh fills the air. Her signature coat is folded up on a free spot along the wide table, ready to be given over to her compatriot if the cold becomes a problem. Kasagami, if she is bothered by the temperature, surely doesn't mention it. She largely seems to be riding high, at odds with the brooding figure she'd been through much of the trip to Hokkaido.

Riiip. Off goes one final page, and she pushes away the typewriter. Making a show of fanning herself, she turns. Following that thumb, her good eye peers out.

"It really is beautiful, isn't it? The power of nature should not be underestimated, Rinji. Even the greatest of Kings must struggle against it's strength." One knuckle touches the window. Kasagami shivers. It really /is/ freezing out there. She's glad to be inside.

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

It had been a good time on that snowy vacation spot disguised as a long field trip. He had ski'd, he built more of the growing wintery army of Snow Zombies (Snombies!), had more than one snowball fight, fought a freaking monster on the slopes while teaching Steven how to ski, and had found the perfect gift for his ... Friend. So, once he reached the back of the bus, Takeo sat, gave a mighty stretch with a yawn, and as the engine started, was soon fast asleep.

After looking around to make sure that none of his usuals are present on the bus, he leans his head back agaisnt the back wall of the bus, and saws logs. Long sonorous, yet surprsingin soft, snoring as he gets some much needed sleep. His hands rest gently upon his tummy, and a bit of drool might be escapiing one corner of his mouth. There is no question that Takeo Akamizu, 11th Grade Ohtori is fast asleep. Despite the short time he has been "sawing logs," he might even be dreaming, as the word: "Bacon .... " is uttered at least once.

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

Fate... was sitting amongst the elementary schoolers. She'd been looking over Arisa's shoulder along with Suzuka as she played through Pokemon Alpha Sapphire- in English! Honestly she was probably doing it in English just to impress the kids around her, and it was working, as most kids around her seemed to check in on her progress.

"Yosh! Oscar's evolving into a Roselia." Suzuka looks over her screen, rubbing a cheek with a smile, "She's so elegant..." Fate was quiet, as she watched, before stating, "She looks like an Ohtori mascot..." "Huh!? No way! Ohtori definitely can't claim /anything/ rose themed to be theirs! I hereby claim her for Infinity." "We'll take good care of you." Suzuka says to the screen.

Fate only allows this tiny smile. "Well it sounds like it's settled then..." Fate's eyes slowly drift to the back of the bus, eyes focused on two people...

It's not long after that, "I'll be right back."

Fate slips out of her aisle part of the bus seat and heads that way. The first thing Lera and Setsuna likely see that draws their attention away from the windows and their melancholy is a picture of an orange wolf pup. Tongue lolled out of the side of her mouth- like she was trying to make a funny face. It belongs to a phone, which belongs to a hand. Which belongs to a girl with blonde twintails and-

"You both looked like you needed something to cheer you up."

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

Lera blinks, when she feels those fingers around her hand. She turns her head, then, and looks back at Setsuna -- like she realizes that she must have been looking at her for a little bit, now. She squeezes her fingers, and sighs, before she slips her fingers out of hers. Instead, she slides her arm around Setsuna's shoulders and glances back out the window.

"Sorry," she says. "I was getting distracted, y'know? I'm gonna miss Hokkaido." That isn't actually what she will miss, but Setsuna may have a good idea what it is. "What about you?"

And then she looks up, surprised, when she sees an orange wolf puppy. She blinks, before she giggles -- she doesn't even cover her mouth with her hand, and then she looks past the phone to the girl with the twintails.

"Fate!" she calls out. "A-aw, that's so cute!" A beat. "M-Maybe don't... tell Arf I said that, though."

<Too late,> Soaring Sky suggests.

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

Fuu Hououji was typically methodical about making sure that all of her electronic devices would be at maximum charge for the trip back to Tokyo. This largely took a mixture of discipline and diplomacy - the latter because there are never QUITE enough wall outlets for everyone who needs them; the former because if she could only charge one item on the last night, that one had to be her phone, meaning not messing around on the 3DS or the Vita after their respective final Hokkaido chargings for the year.

Right now, though, both of Fuu's game systems are turned off and put away, and even her phone is nestled in its pocket as Fuu chats casually with a couple of fellow computer afficionados - not just Infinity Computer Club members, but students from the other two Sister Schools. ".. don't see why Enterbrain is giving up Ruby in the new version of RPG Maker," Fuu says. "I honestly don't care how good JavaScript is in the right hands, but I've been working with Ruby *this* long and now I have to learn a new language from scratch."

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dhpIEerwng

For all the high spirits of the past days and the present moment, Rei is struck with a leaden melancholy that drags at the lower corners of her heart. A small and quiet darkness is upon her and she isn't precisely sure why.

This vacation has been such a lovely escape from realities that loom a short distance away..and that brief span grows only briefer. She wonders with a measure of gloom that seems disproportionate to the moment, yet nonetheless persists, if she's already back in her bed on the other side of things. If she's already left this dreamy land of pleasure and escape, that its colors and contours are less solid than they seemed to her so recently ago. If its illusory structure is supported only in her own mind, as the rest of her body has fled into a stubborn and pugilistic reality less conducive to such joyous times with such joyous peoples.

Which isn't to say that it's all bad..not by half. And even as she knows that she won't be losing these friends, she worries about losing such time with them. How many more moments await them on this island? Are there any more left to her?

She sighs a quiet sigh and wishes that it could take a shade or two of this black mood with it, but a quiet sigh isn't enough, and she quietly mourns something just beyond her articulation, unsure if mourning is at hand, at bay, or at fear.

She misses this already. She hopes that she won't have to miss this even worse.

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

Hikaru Shidou also made sure that what electronics she had were charged and ready for the long trip home. Of course, with someone like Hikaru, she'd be more spending her time reading a book or something instead of using her electronics. She can appreciate Fuu being more of the electronics girl, but Hikaru would rather be taking in what she could of the scenery and things like that, trying to enjoy what's left of her time there. Now the final ride is on, and all Hikaru can do is stare out the window and sigh. "It was so much fun," Hikaru says out loud, "But all good things must end..." She lowers her eyes a little, trying not to feel the sting of tears as she knows that there'll be other trips, but they can't come soon enough. "Still, what fun would it be if it were every day?" She smirks a little.

In an attempt to tune out her sadness about having to leave, Hikaru turns her attention to her buddy Fuu, listening to what she has to say. At first she doesn't say anything, just listening to what Fuu has to say, but when Fuu makes the comment about learning a new language, Hikaru pipes up. She knows where Fuu is coming from and she responds with, "I know how you feel, Fuu-chan. You spend so much time learning one thing only to have to learn something completely different instead. Kinda makes no sense if you ask me."

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

The snow is coming down heavier now. And all of a sudden, there's a sudden deceleration, and the squealing of brakes. Various purses and accessories are jerked forward, making a mess out of the aisle and eliciting some yelps of surprise, but the bus comes to a complete stop without too much sliding.

The driver keys the intercom. "Sounds like one of the other busses hit a patch of ice. Everything's all right, but we need to get chains on the tires. If anyone would like a stretch, I think we're going to be here for a little while."

One of the teachers wrestles the mic out of his hands. "/Nobody/ go out of sight of the bus, /do you hear me/?" Midori Sugiura, red-haired and passionate, gives the whole group a death stare as she props her free hand on her hip with the same crack of warning one might get if she was cocking a shotgun. "And /buddy up/!"

As it turns out, it's really, really cold outside. This leads to a bit of bustle at the door, as people think better of exploration. But those who get a good long look at the sky might recognize it for being faintly greenish in huge, in a way that is reminiscent of Christmas Day.

BGM Swap: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mm2UHRMKtic

You know, that time Santa Claus got run over (and eaten) by a giant, toxified black turtle in the sky. A turtle who made snowstorms like the one that buried Tokyo. Some forceful Heimlich a la Lovebeams got it to cough Santa up, but a promise was made that they would meet again...

BGM Un-Swap: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_MyLz5sBmg

It's very easy to disobey orders and lose sight of the bus. It's even easy by accident, because the blizzard blocks vision after just a few feet. Nonetheless, what's needed here is height, and there are no reindeer to ride this time.

There's just a mountain range, looming off to the right side of the road, easily remembered (since it is not currently visible, except at most as a distant shadow). Foothills roll upwards before disgorging peaks. There are miles to go.

A storm that could bury a city can easily bury a squadron of busses.

And fortunately... it seems that all the winter magic isn't gone, after all. There are soft explosions of white accompanying any transformations -- and magical girls find themselves wearing the gear of their choice, wrought from crystal clear magical ice. Skis, snowboards, even speed skates; there are manifold possibilities. All fit perfectly. And all are propelled by far more than even the strongest legs, seeming to all but float above the snow and rocket forward at the slightest touch...

OOC: It doesn't matter exactly which winter sports gear you pick (or how capable you are normally with it) -- every option will be adequate for the premise of this scene, and very speedy and agile, indeed.

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

Staying on the bus seems like a really good idea to Fuu .... but at the same time that she thinks that, she remembers the blizzard that almost buried the Tokyo around Christmastime, and let's face it - she'll be sitting *quite* enough on the trip back, stretching her legs while the opportunity presents itself seems smart. So she makes sure her phone and other valuables are secure, bundles up, steps off the bus ...

Yes. Yes, this wind feels far too familiar: the deathly bitter chill of a cold deeper than a normal winter. Maybe she should have reprised her trick from the hot spring this time, but ... well, as cold as it feels, she won't get frostbite from a minute of exposed skin, not starting out as warm as she is. Fuu glances around for familiar faces, wiping snowflakes off her glasses, then takes a few steps back and forth to loosen her legs up before starting to walk. The snow itself seems like it'll provide more than enough camouflage for a transformation. Or a dozen.

A few moments later, the Magic Knight of Wind is skiing up a slope, then down it, and up the next. Even with the skis' own magic helping to propel her, it's nowhere near as heart-stopping as the downhill run against that monster, and inwardly, Fuu thinks she might take more to cross-country skiing than its downhill counterpart. Time enough to think that over at length another time, though - sometime when there isn't a crisis looming over them all.

Of course, first, they have to survive *this* crisis. The Wind Knight continues picking her way uphill, trying to recall details of the battle in the Christmas Eve sky ... details which seem determined to slip away from conscious thought, so dreamlike did that battle seem.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Setsuna looks back at Lera with large eyes without saying anything, until Lera puts an arm around her and looks away. The younger of the two leans her way. "Mm," she answers at first, and she does have an idea what Lera will miss. SHe's working on saying it when Lera turns the question on her and she blinks in surprise at something... not entirely surprising, all told. "I--"

She looks up and sees an adorable picture, too. This time she's surprised over something more surprising, and she tilts her head at it, studying this adorable thing. It's incredibly cute.

Or rather, she is.

Lera giggles, and Setsuna's attention shifts to Fate herself. But... Between the rest...

Soon Setsuna giggles a little, too, dipping her head and covering her mouth. "She's very cute," she says, and means it. "I would want to know if I were a cute puppy."

A pause. "It's very nice to see you, Fate."

But the bus slows down, and stops, and Sesuna looks around to see an explanation until--Ah. Setsuna glances down until Midori starts talking, and is largely confused by the death stare for now. ...For now.

"It's really cold, but... I think I'd like to stretch." She looks to the others, offering a chance to be her buddy. With that, she stands, puts on her gloves and hat, and steps outside.

In short order, she is outside, and dutifully standing beside the bus as she literally does a few stretches. But looking up, she sees that sky, and remembers a certain promise. She hesitates, wondering how she an go, looking around to the.. mountain range. She looks worried as she does, and then shivers again. "...Sorry, Sugiura-sensei," she murmurs, and steps back to look up at the bus apologetically. She shares a look with friends out here, and steps a few paces away from the bus until she's in a blind spot. She lifts her Linkrun and....

The red flash of her transformation is accompanied by a shimmering red light all through her body--and white light at her feet. Once she's transformed, delicate speed skates made entirely of crystal clear magical ice hug her short boots, which seamlessly adapt to being flat-soled to accomodate the skates. The skates have intricate detailing carved, including sideways hearts at the sides of the heels.

"Ready," she murmurs, sets her stance--and takes off with glorious red sparks straight for the foothills.

COMBAT: Setsuna Higashi transforms into Cure Passion!
<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.


The sudden decelration causes Takeo to hit his head on the seat in front of him. This causes him to fall back quickly and hit the BACK of his head on the bus wall behind him with another WHAM. He sort of sways in place his eyes all swirly and he's pretty sure he can count the rings of Saturn. If he could find it in all those stars swirling about his head.

A hand grabs his shoulder and says, "Omigosh! Senpai! Are you okay?" This from Akari Sato, a Kendo club member that may or may not have confessed her love to Take, but the boy had taken it as somebody asking for Kendo Lessons. Turns out she's pretty good at Kendo though!

Takeo however continues to swa, and says ina drunkenly fashion, "Is okay Mai-chan. Only hit my head ... "

Akari tilts her head slowly as the rage sort of boils. What did That Tokiha have that SHE didn't?! Her hand reaches out, grabs Takeo by the ear and drags him to the door with an apology to Midori Sensei as she bodily throws Takeo out of the bus, dusts her hands and goes back to her seat with folded arms and a herumph.

Landing in the snow face first, Takeo takes a moment to pull himself OUT of the snow drift that he somehow found himself in and rubbing the back of his head. "The hell just happened?!" He asks nobody in particular but then blinks at the lights in the sky. He wasn't there for the Turtle or the nomming of Santa Claus, he was .... Asleep .... But he does indeed know that that particual hue in the sky is NOT good. He slips out of sight of the bus. He didn't here Midori, not that she would be surprised that Takeo broke rules, but he needed a good transformation spot. Which is easy given the snow flurry. "I SWEAR TO DEFEND THE INNOCENT!"

As lightning arcs from the pendent and turns into pieces of armor and the twin baldes of Arondight, Takeo blinks at what else he's holding. A snowboard made of the purest ice is now in his hands. "This ... This is new .... "

COMBAT: Takeo Akamizu transforms into Chevalier Knight Lancelot!
<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

Fate's tiny smile only grows a little wider at Soaring Sky's comment, much less Lera's- "If you don't want me to tell her I won't. But just between us, she likes being called cute when she's in puppy form. And it's good to see you too... Setsuna." The sudden deceleration causes this small stumble before she grabs ahold of a nearby seat. Her eyes drift over to Lera and Setsuna in wonder- before she starts to make the exit.

Arisa grabs Suzuka's hand, as if fiercely protective. One wouldn't know that Suzuka is really a sports ace by her gentle demeanor, and that Arisa is in fact hopeless in such things.

Fate stands at Setsuna's side instead, shivering the moment she leaves the bus, "It's almost as cold as-" The word freezes in her throat... she doesn't say it, but it's on her mind.


But the sky is green through the haze of snow and there's this faint trace of uneasiness in the air, it reminds her of Christmas Day in the city... Fate takes a few leans over to Setsuna, "I think... we have to disobey sensei here." She says quietly while shivering, almost apologetically. She knows Setsuna doesn't like disobeying the rules, and neither does she. "Otherwise... everyone's going to be in some real trouble."

"Bardiche Assault- set up!" <Get Set. Sonic Drive - Ignition!>

There's a helical spiral of gold, with crackling arcs of electricity. A thunderclap flashes into existence and- she's shifted into her barrier jacket. Which looks thinner than the norm. She has on a pair of shorts rather than a skirt and- <Sonic Skis> There's a sound of surprise from Fate as the word 'Skis' registers. "What?"

And then sparkling magical ice skis form at her feet- with magical wings of gold attached to the back of each, as well as a pair of ski poles that also bear a pair of golden wings apiece. "Oh I see!" She says, sounding delighted, "That's incredible Bardiche." Yes in Fate's case, magical wings attached /do/ in fact make them go faster. A moment later she turns to Setsuna.

"Well then- let's go."

COMBAT: Fate Testarossa transforms into Barrier Jacket Sonic!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji transforms into Wind Knight!
COMBAT: Hikaru Shidou transforms into Fire Knight!
<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

And then the bus is stopped. Nori comes out of her little haze and blinks a few times. She looks around, blinking, and then they're told they can stretch their legs.

Nori rests her chin on the back of a seat, looking down slightly and towards the lingeringly wistful Rei. "Hey, Hino, do you want to walk a little? I have some gossip." Though having made such a promise, she is left with the question of how to deliver on it in a way that won't immediately cause them problems if overheard. This is why Nori, even after shrugging on her un-glam parka, is frowning a bit as she debarks.

But she figures it out. "You should catch up with Tsuru soon," she tells the other girl, "but... I think I'm going to do something with a space, in her building... What do you think I ought to do?"

But the blizzard is rolling and the situation is ominous. Innocent swings of the arms are replaced, and Nori looks up to the sky. She grimaces, just a little.

And she pulls a broken lantern from her hand. She looks towards where Rei had been a moment ago, but the wind's whipping up. Crouching down she puts both hands on the lantern, and says to herself, "Twinned in the mirror..."

She doesn't quite know what else to say there, not yet. Even Batiste hasn't had advice (and there he is, peeking out of her coat.) Even so, the broken precious thing gleams and glitters and with a flash and a ripple and a shimmer, the parka and fashionable slacks and blouse vanish, replaced with a pleated skirt, a sleeveless blouse with black diamond buttons and piping, a lush lining of the eyes approaching a mask--


"That's a strange looking boat," Batiste remarks, gazing at an open-topped, tubular thing before them.

"That's because it isn't a boat at all," la Sirene says as she vaults into the front seat. The aura of weird inverse light around her gently emanates, even as Batiste gets into the rear seat.

"Then what is it?" says the otter, sitting upright.

"A bobsled," she says, before she exhales and looks to the right, the left... puts a hand on the glass-paned lantern at her hip...


COMBAT: Nori Ankou transforms into La Sirene de Diamant!
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

A sudden stop, and Kasagami's neatly laid out papers of her political tract go fluttering in the air. With a slowly increasing scowl, the Student Council member watches them fall, until she finally turns to look outside. That hue of the sky brings back bad memories. Her irritation at the driver ends instantly, and even as Midori grabs the mic, Kasagami is picking up both coat and a rather obsurdly long bundle amongst her personal possessions. She leans into Rinji, and whispers.

"Let's go. There's a story about to be written, my lovely Muse."

A single hand is offered for Rinji, and then with her coat about her shoulders, Kasagami confidently strides forward. Right past the teacher, who finally gets a glance just as she brushes past the initial bustle to get out.

"I'll be counting on you, Midori-sensei." Comes the young woman with a grin. While still smug and challenging, there's honest respect in her gaze. Somehow, her words might come across as earnest.

Outside, Kasagami's ring shines for just one moment, and flowers slice away the horrible blizzard around her for just one moment in a floral explosion of scents and dark crimson colors. Right outside the bus, there's suddenly an icey snowmobile, all hard angles and thick. Rather than a nomral one, it almost gives the appearance of an armored knight's steed.

It's also a two seater. Kasagami gets in, revs the icey 'engine' that sounds less like a snowmobile and more like a Corvette, pausing only for Rinji.

"Shall we?" Her Nodachi's sheath resting against one shoulder, hand on the accelerator, she's ready to take off as rose petal exhaust spits from the monster of an ice-conveyance.

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

And then..a stay of execution.

Rei feels heartened by this sudden chance at the eleventh hour to prolong the magic a little further..even if it's not exactly school sanctioned fun and games. Peering amongst the shoulders clogging up the entrance to the bus, there's an ominous streak in the strangling ocean of white all about. An evil in its unblemished scope.

Rei is tempted to dismiss her ill mood as the misinterpreted detection of whatever dark forces conspire in beyond the reach of human vision. It's a comforting thought..but she suspects that she would be wrong to dismiss the thought that it grew from within.

She blinks as Nori Ankou draws her attention out from its well. Quirking her eyebrows, she rises and follows, curious enough to listen. Frowning slightly, but in more of a thoughtful way than a displeased one, she nods slightly. "Mm..alright, thank you for informing me..I haven't reached out to Tsuru-san in too long."

A look seems to cross both of their eyes, and Rei steps from the bus to vanish into the ivory cocoon, transforming into her higher self in a flash of scarlet drowned out by all the snow.

Heat waves pulse around her, beaten savagely by nature's indomitable will, but managing a small bubble of heat and visibility around her. Long and stylish planks sprout beneath her feet..a magical set of skis transcending the loosely packed ground below. Without wasting time, she plunges after La Sirene's tobogan, seeking out the thread of darkness curling beyond her sight.

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

It might be cold out, but Hikaru doesn't mind getting out and enjoying a little extra winter entertainment. Sure she may be the Magic Knight of Fire, but she's not about to let a little cold get her down. In fact, when she gets out of the bus, she disappears into the snow, then reappears as the Magic Knight of Fire, wearing a pair of skis as well. She manages to catch up to her buddy and looks to her with a grin. After a moment of catching her breath and getting accustomed to the speed, she finally speaks.

"I had no idea we'd be making this pit stop," She says. "I just hope there isn't trouble lying in wait." Her smile disappears a little with that bit. "Call it paranoid, I dunno."

COMBAT: Rinji Sakurai transforms into Muse Terpsichore!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki transforms into Crimson Rose Duelist!
COMBAT: Rei Hino transforms into Sailor Mars!
<Pose Tracker> Muse Terpsichore [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.


Rinji ahks when the stop is so sudden, clutching at her notepad possessively to avoid losing it even as the pen goes flying. She gives the distancing pen a forlorn expression. Oh small bic pen, we hardly knew ye. It disappears under the seats, and the crush of students rising to exit the bus.

She sighs, and looks outside before she hears the whispered words from Kasagami. That sure has her perk up as she reaches to take Kasagamis hand with a warm smile. She follows right after the woman, politely bowing to the teacher as she heads outside and dons her own snow-blazer.

She looks to Kasagami as the woman transforms, and whistles softly. Impressive!

Rinji reaches under her shirt, withdrawing a silver necklace with a jade gemstone. She reaches up to the heavens, turning her fingers into a claw with the gemstone held in her palm as she brings them down through the air. Each finger leaves behind an electric green trail which swirls around Rinji as the woman disappears in a bright flash of green.

And in her place, the Muse Terpsichore with electric guitar in hand. She grins brightly to Kasagami, and brings a hand up to her temple in a salute as she moves to get into the passengers seat of the snowmobile, sitting facing backwards with guitar held in hand. She starts to strum, playing a metal version of Ride of the Valkyrie as they accelerate.

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

Lera did, in fact, come with Fate and Setsuna when it was time to stretch their legs. Her expression has turned down into a frown -- and she frowns at what Fate determines. As cold as...

She nods, once.

"...I think so, too," she answers Fate. She looks at the others, then holds her hand in the sky. "Soaring Sky, set up!"

<Get set!>

She lifts into the air, a moment after light floods up her. Her big green coat billows out from behind her, her feather charm blowing in the breeze, and snow catches in her long orange hair. Her eyes narrow against the wind, and then she looks at Cure Passion. She flashes her a bright smile, before she looks at Fate.

"Nice skis!" she says, giving Fate a thumbs-up. Then, she looks up at the mountain and takes a breath. When she exhales, it's a fog that hangs before her.

COMBAT: Lera Camry transforms into Barrier Jacket Perihelion!
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

Whether skates or snowboards, skiis, bobsleds, snowmobiles... the speed is everything, stronger even than the cold. It pours generously as a waterfall, is felt as deeply as the bottom of the sea. It tugs playfully at hair and everything they pass -- tree branches, fence posts, the tails of huge shaggy mountain goats.

Up and up the hills go, until they yield to not the treeline, but the cloudline. There's a sudden burst of radiance -- the stars, the moon, illuminating snowy peaks like a diamond chain. How did it get so late, so quickly? How far have they come? Everything opens up, from no visibility to total visibility, and it risks vertigo, and certainly tends to steal breath.

It is a grand and glorious display. Few people get to see Hokkaido from this angle. Who knows whose farmland this is? Or maybe it's a national park, but much too far from ski slopes or hiking trails to be normally surveyed...

But the heavens -- and the mountains -- beckon. And there's something higher still: soaring some hundred yards above these highest points of earth is the Obsidian Beast.

It looks worse than last time -- the noxious green runes criss-crossing its immense and icy shell have turned to an even more ghastly red. Blizzard incarnate, it has snow leaking from its maw, its claws come to points too sharp to see, and wind -- unfriendly wind -- blows away from it in all directions.

There are three runic clusters on its bulk: one at the back of the neck, one in the middle of the shell, and one at the base of the tail. Power pulses from them and down the other runes, which seem rather like chains, actually, come to think.

Seeing the magical girls crest a ridge, the monster screams, a sound equally agonized and angry. It was already moving along at a tremendous rate, but now it accelerates.

To get close enough to the monster will require teamwork -- to set up a good shot against each cluster will require more speed, what with the wind, and all the gigantic chunks of ice in the air, not to mention the claws and maw. And the shot itself will have to be enormous...

OOC: It's a high-speed chase, hit, and run with the Obsidian Beast! There are three runic clusters, and one can be hit each round. It can, however, /only/ be hit by the following sequence: at least one combo (but multiples are welcome!) narratively designed to set someone else up to Take The Shot. I'll roll randomly to see who that person will be each round! If you don't want to be part of this teamwork effort, there is always room for more conventional combat actions against the Beast itself.

DICE: Hotaru Tomoe rolls 1d10+0 and gets 8!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe transforms into Obsidian's Malice!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

"Is that actually the same monster we fought over Tokyo?!" the Magic Knight of Wind exclaims as she sees the Obsidian Beast. At a first glance, she isn't so sure .... but a few things look familiar at first, and as she looks more closely, other details are recognizable.

She can't spend terribly long just to look, though; the wind, often her ally, is decidedly against her right now, and the threat of plummeting back to the distant ground looms starkly if her attention wavers too much. She steers her descent, judiciously picks up some speed, angles for altitude once again, and takes stock of the situation. Those clusters of runes certainly look like a key factor ...

For now, though, trying to apply some form of brakes to the Beast seems like it might be in order - and she has a spell that might work. "Winds of Admonishment!" the green-clad Magic Knight calls out, trying to command the wind and wrangle it into a cyclone, hoping to take away some of the Obidian Beast's incredible speed - and to help make it easier for her allies to begin launching their own attacks.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Admonishment on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has finished attacking.
<Pose Tracker> Hikaru Shidou [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

The Obsidian Beast. It's all too familiar.

"Looks like it wants more!" The Fire Knight comments to the Wind Knight. "And we're gonna give it more!" She plants her feet into the ground, ignoring the coldness of the snow and the wind. She doesn't care how much it hurts or anything like that. Her job is to make sure that the Obsidian Beast is taken out before it causes any potential damage or things like that. "It's time to burn this thing back to where it belongs!"

Calling out "Fire Arrow!" the Fire Knight shoots forth a fiery projectile, intent on striking the beast and giving it a bit of a case of getting hot under the collar... or something like that!

COMBAT: Hikaru Shidou has used Fire Arrow on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hikaru Shidou has finished attacking.
<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

Fate is a veritable golden blur- churning up snow in her wake. She raises one arm wielding a pole just to wave at Lera, then give her a thumbs up. She looks like she's having fun at least. Fate always did have fun racing around- carefree like this. Until they strike the cloudline, and she's surrounded by the familiar fog of the skis- but it's different this time as they crew the mountain.

A diamond chain of celestial wonder-

The small girl who soars through the heavens as a past time, actually gasps in delight.

Her eyes sparkle as she takes it all in, this special open view that belongs to them... and the creature she just spotted.

Her eyes are on the titanic turtle- as they shift to the runic clusters. "Oh."

Maybe she's not familiar with the specific method, but she knows binding magic when she sees it. That scream causes her to wince, from the amount of pain and anger in it, as her arms pump and she moves after it, controlling her speed to get just ahead of Passion and Lancelot- "I think- we can unbind it. It's fast, but I have an idea on how to catch up."

Shifting one ski pole to her opposite arm, she lifts a hand. A golden runic circle appears, though it looks instead like a miracle of fractals. A snow flake. It's quite solid though. "Passion- Lancelot! Jump off this! Passion- grab him in the middle of your jump and toss him at those runes on the head."

She then looks over her shoulder at Passion, giving her this pretty self-assured look- if she's confident about one thing, it's her speed, "Don't worry, I'll catch you Passion. And then the two of us will give him the opening he needs."

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Mars [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The magic of the island seems to propel Rei by its own apparent will, rather than her own inclinations. Poor Sugiura-san back at the bus..whatever head count she surely hopes to maintain never stood a chance. They'll have to go above and beyond to make it up to her...

But the frayed nerves of the faculty are far from immediate concern..along with so much of the rest of the world. She wouldn't be completely surprised if these skis took them all the way to summit, or to the moon for that matter..and nothing of what she comes to see convinces her differently.

Her eyes bulge a bit at the awe-inspiring monstrosity spewing snowstuff in droves like the devil's own zamboni. But she is not alone..though they came in many forms, it seems her sisters among the Mahou Shoujo had found winter sportswear of their own that had taken them too to such awe-inspiring heights. And in their company Rei relaxes by a fair measure..

This, this is familiar. This is something she can wrap her head around..this is something that she can work with.

Spreading her skis apart in a planted feet stance that, admittedly, would make more sense if there was a ground for those feet to plant into..Sailor Mars lifts her arms and extends her index and middle fingers, forming the signs, forming the spells. Her hopes and aspirations make manifest in the white rectangular strip of paper that is, at once, between those two fingers in her right hand. Black ink springs from it as if it burst through the paper's surface..and as the incantation ends the whole thing catches alight.

Winding her arm back, she snaps it forward..and the prayer sails on, small and then slight and then unseen in the night sky against the backdrop of so enormous a beast.

COMBAT: Sailor Mars has used Rin, Pyou, Tou, Sha, Kai, Jin, Retsu, Zai, Zen! on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Sailor Mars has finished attacking.
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Fate says it; Lera agrees. Setsuna says nothing. The tangible seriousness in her eyes for that moment says enough.

She wasn't there, of course, in that cold place.

She remains in agreement with Fate on the rest.

Cure Passion's smile isn't quite so bright as Lera's, but there is something warm in it, a quiet look that suits her somehow. She looks between Lera and Fate, too, as they agree it's time to go. "...Right," she says to Fate, and nods irmly to Lera. The three of them take off, and Passion must be a blur of red across the countryside. The cold should be biting through her at this speed, but instead she glides aross the snow, her hair whipping behind her in glorious bright pink. The night being so sudden causes her to widen her eyes, which lets her see more and more of the sight here. It steals some of Passion's breath, all right, and has her staring at a beautiful sight. Ths...

This inludes that creature, and Passion reluctantly tears her eyes away from the sky and towards the thing blotting part of t out, pressing he teeth together at thepain and anger she senses. "You think we can?" she asks, and is all ears, letting herself shift back just enough that they're all together. "You..."

Passion sees tat self-assurance, and nods firmly. "I'll do my best! Lancelot, get ready!"

With that, she lunges forward, arms pumping, and then /leaps/ up onto the golden snowflake, bends at the knees, and springboards up, up, up.

Her arms are out as she spins in mid-air, holding out her hands and preparing her considerable strength to hurl Lancelot upwards. She doesn't bother worrying about her own landing; her eyes are intent.

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

"Aaah!" Lera practically squeals with delight. "S-So beautiful...! I wish I could take a picture, y'know?"

The breathtaking scenery, however, can't occupy her attention for long. She hovers in the air, on a beam of red-orange light, as she gets a good look at the Obsidian Beast. It looks to be in pain, the corruption spilling off it, and her eyes move to look at Fate and Cure Passion. She nods, once. "Those... things," Lera murmurs, as she looks at the runic clusters.

"I'll try to distract it!" she tells Fate, Cure Passion, and Lancelot. Then, she soars in towards it. A ring of orange light, almost burning golden, bursts off her feet before she whips towards it. Her Device-sword is clutched in both hands, the silver and gold parts glinting in the open sky. Her eyes narrow, as she sails past the prayer that Rei sends flying. Lera wheels back in the sky as she gets closer.

"I'm sorry, y'know?" she tells the Beast, quietly. She doesn't know that it can hear her. "We're gonna try to help. Hang in there." Then, louder: "Sky! Now!"


In this csse, help means distracting it. Lera sweeps her sword up, and bright light glints across the edge, before a Belkan magical triangle appears behind her, and Soaring Sky calls out: <Crescent Fangs.>

A trio of plasma crescents flash, then hurtle towards the side of the Beast. "Look over here!" Lera cries out to it.

COMBAT: Lera Camry has used Crescent Fangs on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Lera Camry has finished attacking.
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Lancelot is fast, but he can't fly. Even on this snowboard, Lancelot is cruising along at a pace that leaves mostly a blue streak arcing lightning in his wake. Expertly snowbaording along, and gaining even more speed Lancelot eyes the titanic thing and the runes. He can't do much, he doubts his Lightning has the range to even HIT the thing. So he keeps moving forward, looking for a ramp of some kind, or anything that can get him higher.

Which just so happens to be Fate. "Goldie!" He says with a grin when she calls out to him. He nods his head and flashes both a heads up and a roguish grin. He crouches low, and waits for Passion to leap.

Once he sees the Pretty Cure Warrior soar off those golden runes, Lancelot presses down with his knees, and grabs the lip of the board in another crouch.

Once the baord touches the runes, he springs with hsi legs again and soars upward and toward Passion....

Who catches him. He gives her a wink. "Normally the Knight catches the maiden right?" Which is when he's tossed, and he summons all the lightning he can into his twin blades as Arondight, the Demon's Bane glows a bright white and crackles with blue Lightning. "BLAZING ZEPHYR!" He cries as he sails toward the Obsidian Beast's head runes. His baldes lashing in rapid succession as he comes close, each strike arcing lightning and sounding wiht a clap of thunder.

Once he feels himself loosing speed, he flips around, and rides the back of the Obsidian Beast's shell until he can jump off, and land safely in the snow with a spray of white snowey mist.

He pants a few times and then begins to kick with his right foot, his left foot keeping him on the board. He had to catch up, and look for another opening ....

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

"Oh! Sailor Mars is following us!" Batiste says, waving from his perch to the skiing senshi of fire and passion. La Sirene looks over her shoulder and salutes as well. But not for long. The world is rising upwards, and --

The beautiful spread of Hokkaido ripples in la Sirene's eyes. It may not feel like 'home' any more. But it remains beautiful.

And then...

Batiste and la Sirene turn their heads to look at the titanic creature spreading out beneath them, massive and towering. "Well," Batiste says, to conceal his momentary and all-consuming terror.

"Is it the great turtle of the north...? Is it cross with me?" la Sirene wonders, absently, even as behind her Sailor Mars makes her gestures and calls upon a charm.

That seems like a good idea. The bobsled la Sirene rides sweeps closer as she raises up her left hand, index and pinky finger held up as if in salute to a certain lord below, but of course that is not who is called upon. "Les Mysteres," la Sirene pronounces with gathering force, letting the rippling unlight around her tighten...

"Come!" A ripple of that silver/black arcs out, strange linear and curved shapes refracting in the ice as the entire bobsled shines like a neon tube for a moment.

COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has used Les Mysteres on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Lancelot has used Blazing Zephyr on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Lancelot has finished attacking.
<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

Fate feels the impact of both of them upon her conjured snowflake barrier. It vanishes just after, as she switches her ski pole back to her hand. "Ready Bardiche?" <Always- Sir.> "Here we go!" Each of the golden wings flexes, releasing a trail of sparkles, before she rockets on ahead at a speed a jet might envy. Pushing with her poles one last time- she hits a mountain slope she's shot up into mid-air, both arms at her side.

Just as Passion throws Lancelot- a golden blur intercepts, leaving a jetstream in her wake, as she feels an arm catching her just beneath both armpits. They're still going forward- and forward and up- but that thing is moving awfully fast and it seems like even right now they'll have trouble catching up. "Get ready to hit it!"

What!? How? They're still not close! If they hit it right now it would hang Lancelot out to-

<Blitz Rush>

Fate and Passion become twin flickering blurs of gold and red, leaving after-images in their wake all over the sky like colorful stars. They both appear just in front of Lancelot's intended target. Fate raises a singular ski pole- <Haken Form> And the two descend like a comet from the sky at the creature's head. Given it's size, they can't likely actually hurt it- but this might still sting a little at the speed the two of them are moving- "Haaa!" <Haken Slash>

A fist of red and a slash of gold strike just before Lancelot's blow falls- in an attempt to rear it back and into position.

COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has started a combo targeting Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Cure Passion has joined the combo started by Fate Testarossa!
COMBAT: COMBO! Fate Testarossa and Cure Passion have used Combo: Crimson Flash, composed of Golden Flash and Passion Punch!, on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Cure Passion has finished attacking.
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Truly, the pair of Valkyrie Ride. Kasagami's eyes never leave Rinji as she transforms. One hand rubs her chin as her gaze narrows. She smiles, open, appreciative, and she can't help but shiver unrelated to the cold.

"Is this the power of Art and Music? I believe even a bard can etch a story into this world!" Praises the young woman, before she revs the engine once more. And away they go, wind whipping past hard enough to hurt. Adrenaline works harder into Kasagami as she drives with all the recklessness of a true thrillseeker, amplified by the music flowing. She laughs, echoing amidst the mountain valley as she takes in the pleasure of pure speed and danger as they crest a hill.

The Obsidian Beast lives. Kasagami's face twitches as she remembers that horrid thing, stealing one of the few givers of joy away from so many innocent people. Then, her smirk returns, as she stands up atop her wild icey steed as it belches red from exhaust pipes. One booted foot lands on the accellerator hard enough to crack the thing, and she pushes forward, faster and faster. Her black hair, tipped with red, flutters behind her wildly. Her sword is drawn out slowly, body-length blade finally kissing moonlight before she takes up the sheath strongly. The tip of her family sword is pointed at the beast and it's toxic runes. Her stomach churns at the mere sight. For all her bravado, there's an icey stake of fear in her heart.

Hand clutches her sword tightly all the more for it, and Kasagami Araki is grinning like a madwoman in anticipation. "That is the thing responsible for the storm that consumed our city. If we let it get away now, who knows how many people will be ravaged by winter's chill, stories cut short where brilliance should have shined! For the sake of Ohtori, for the sake of my Kingdom, let us ruin this foul beast utterly!" Howls Kasagami against that slicing wind, already ruining her right sleeve. Her coat is eaten up in slices by that unfriendly wind. Her gaze turns to Takeo, as she readies herself.

Lancelot buzzes the great shell creature with this lightning swords, and Kasagami's foot presses down. Her vehicle starts a circle around the great beast as it seems to float in the air where terrain would get in the way, on wings of ice and dark roses. Rather than let the young man face the creature alone, she tosses her sheath in a grand arc, petals flowing off from inside it, a spinning wooden blade meant to slam into the thing with all of her passion and hatred alike. Her magical snowmobile rumbles in time with the Muse's tune, even as it's passengers ride near-sideways, gravity hardly a factor for these magical warriors.

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Sheath Toss on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly dodges Sailor Mars's Rin, Pyou, Tou, Sha, Kai, Jin, Retsu, Zai, Zen!, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Hotaru Tomoe's Fade ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Flash ability activates!  Analysis performed by Sailor Mars!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly braces Fate Testarossa and Cure Passion's Combo: Crimson Flash, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  Hotaru Tomoe's Block ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe perfectly dodges Fuu Hououji's Winds of Admonishment, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Hotaru Tomoe's Fade ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly braces Hikaru Shidou's Fire Arrow, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Hotaru Tomoe's Block ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to dodge Lera Camry's Crescent Fangs, taking 17 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Trap applied to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly braces La Sirene de Diamant's Les Mysteres, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Hotaru Tomoe's Block ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly dodges Lancelot's Blazing Zephyr, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Hotaru Tomoe's Fade ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly braces Kasagami Araki's Sheath Toss, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Hotaru Tomoe's Block ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Parry ability activates!  Stagger applied to Hotaru Tomoe!
<Pose Tracker> Muse Terpsichore [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

As Kasagami gives her speech, the Muse continues to play from the back of the snowmobile, her legs clinging tightly. Her music is an applause to Kasagamis words, the notes vibrant and triumphant as the magical girls and guy converge on the Obsidian Beast. She doesn't know what it is, but Kasagami fills her in on the approach.

Her music is intent to stir the speech givers heart, focused on the woman piloting the snowmobile she is on.

COMBAT: Muse Terpsichore has used Move to the Rhythm! on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Muse Terpsichore has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki accepts Muse Terpsichore's Move to the Rhythm!, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Kasagami Araki is Cheered!  Cleanse! All of Kasagami Araki's debuffs are cleared!
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

Getting close to the Obsidian Beast is a major ordeal. Fuu's invocation of wind doesn't so much slow it down as open a path through the ice-laden air, one that Hikaru's fire arrow can roar down, before it explodes, then sizzles out quickly, upon impacting the icy shell. This space carries Sailor Mars' ofuda, too, which sticks like glue on the shell, and gives her a very strong sense of something terrible -- something cursed. Something bound.

The curse and binding could be what's terrible, or it could be what is cursed and bound. Or both. It is bad news in all, a painfully vicious dose of evil, a direct line to a primal, otherworldly malice.

The next attempt to clear space is La Sirene's, and where the wind blew the heavy, fast ice boulders out of the way, Les Mysteres shatters them from a new angle, creating a lane filled with sharp silvery shards, a mirrorverse of reflections reflecting one another. But it, too, is easier to traverse than the blizzard itself, and riding the wave of momentum comes Kasagami's sheath and Lera's plasma -- which each bounce off the Beast's hide -- and then the somewhat-unlikely threesome of Pretty Cure, Midchildan Mage, and Knight of the Round Table.

Propelled by the former two, Lancelot is able to land, all too briefly, on the back of the turtle's neck. There his task is clear -- his sword glows in frenetic response to the runes, which burn not with fire but a stranger, hotter power. He does not so much destroy them, in the end, as scrape them off. They cannot countenance the presence of Arondight, and while they first resisted with a maelstrom of released magic, they ultimately go limp and flop off, easily punched and slashed further away by Passion and Fate, to be lost in the cloudscape below.

La Sirene may identify, and Lera, apologize, but other than hitting those runes, the Beast seems all but impervious to harm. Even moreso than above Tokyo, in fact. But then, this is the realm of the North -- its domain. What, exactly, are they here to defeat?

The Obsidian Beast screams again, and this time it is too physically and emotionally painful to ignore, and its blizzard redoubles as it soars further downward, into a canyon between two huge mountains. This doesn't make it easier to hit; at these wind speeds, it's far too easy to get slammed into a rock wall..

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Freezing Rain on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Freezing Rain on Hikaru Shidou.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Freezing Rain on Fate Testarossa.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Freezing Rain on Cure Passion.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Malicious Curse on Lancelot.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Freezing Rain on Sailor Mars.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Freezing Rain on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Freezing Rain on La Sirene de Diamant.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Freezing Rain on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Player not found.
COMBAT: You can only attack people in the same room as you.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Freezing Rain on Muse Terpsichore.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has finished attacking.
DICE: Hotaru Tomoe rolls 1d10+0 and gets 7!
COMBAT: Cure Passion narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Freezing Rain, taking 23 Fatigue damage!  Cure Passion's Fade ability activates!  Stagger and Stun applied to Cure Passion!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa perfectly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Freezing Rain, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Fate Testarossa's Fade ability activates!  Fate Testarossa's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Freezing Rain, taking 18 Fatigue damage!  Kasagami Araki's Fade ability activates!  Kasagami Araki's Flash ability activates!  Stagger and Stun applied to Kasagami Araki!
COMBAT: Lera Camry narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Freezing Rain, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Lera Camry's Fade ability activates!  Lera Camry's Flash ability activates!  Stagger and Stun applied to Lera Camry!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Freezing Rain, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji's Block ability activates!  Fuu Hououji's Parry ability activates!  Stun applied to Fuu Hououji!
COMBAT: Hikaru Shidou narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Freezing Rain, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Hikaru Shidou's Block ability activates!  Hikaru Shidou's Parry ability activates!  Stun applied to Hikaru Shidou!
COMBAT: Muse Terpsichore fails to dodge Hotaru Tomoe's Freezing Rain, taking 29 Fatigue damage!  Stagger and Stun applied to Muse Terpsichore!
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant fails to brace Hotaru Tomoe's Freezing Rain, taking 42 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Stun applied to La Sirene de Diamant!
COMBAT: Lancelot narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Malicious Curse, taking 5 Fatigue damage!  Lancelot's Block ability activates!  Lancelot's Parry ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Lancelot winks at Passion as she catches him, and at his statement Cure Passion blinks at him, confused but calm. "What?" she asks, and throws him.

She doesn't have to get people to help.

It's simple to work with Fate though; requires complex execution, but it's straightforward, and that straightforwardness is assisting an ally. When some of the runes come her way off of Lancelot's sword, Passion punches away, and is left in the air for the awful scream to come. It soars downward and she falls, left above by virtue of the creature's speed, but it leaves her vulnerable to the freezing rain while she's still covering her ears and trying not to choke on how /awful/ that scream feels. She opens her eyes just in time to realize that she's hurtling for a canyon wall, and all she can do is straighten herself out before she impacts hard. She coughs, the wind knocked out of her as she starts to slide sideways and down, and it's an effort to get ahold of herself.

She thinks of that moment on the bus, with the picture of Arf, as she shivers against the cold and scrambles for a handhold.

She keeps a hand over her heart and kicks at the cavern wall to find a point to jump off of, and a rd glow appears through the winds.

COMBAT: Cure Passion has used The Crimson Heart on Cure Passion.
COMBAT: Cure Passion has finished attacking.
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"All right!" Lera cheers, as Fate, Passion, and Lancelot shoot into the runes and the knight scrapes them off. Amber eyes widen and how that looks -- and then she gasps at the terrible, pained shriek. The blizzard swirls around her, and it isn't easy for her to stay in the air. Wind and freezing rain slash into her, soaking her to the bone even through her Barrier Jacket. She gasps, her teeth chattering, even as she avoids the wind gusting her into a mountainside.

"That's..." She can see, plainly, that her efforts did not do much against the Obsidian Beast. She didn't really expect them to. It makes getting its attention away from the others harder, though. And then she sees a flash of red shooting through the wind, sleet, and mist coming off the mountains. Lera forgets the Obsidian Beast entirely for a moment, sucks in a gasp, and clenches her jaw. "...Sky."

<I see her.>

She sees Passion kick off the wall, and then she is lost in a banner cloud roaring off the wind. Lera shoots against the wind, and it blows her hair back, but she comes at the Pretty Cure from an angle above. Then she flies in close, reaching out a hand for her.

It isn't altogether unlike something nearly a year ago, in a different place -- when she clasped Eas by the hand, and pulled her from certain death in the Garden of Time.

But it's easier for Lera to grab Setsuna's wrist, then pull her up closer. She flashes a big, bright smile down at her as she does. Her amber eyes shoot to the side, towards the Obsidian Beast, then back at the Cure.

"I got you," she says, and she makes sure her clasp is tight. It's a long way down.

COMBAT: Lera Camry has used Clasped Hands on Cure Passion.
COMBAT: Lera Camry has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Mars narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Freezing Rain, taking 19 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Mars's Fade ability activates!  Sailor Mars's Flash ability activates!  Stagger applied to Sailor Mars!
COMBAT: Cure Passion accepts Cure Passion's The Crimson Heart, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Accelerate and Empower applied to Cure Passion!
COMBAT: Cure Passion accepts Lera Camry's Clasped Hands, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Cure Passion is Cheered!
<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

The creature seems nigh imprevious to harm, fortunately the binding runes don't seem to be as the hooked ski pole of energy helps distract Lancelot from it. "Goldie?" Fate finally asks Lancelot. Seeming somewhat shy in her flight. "Um- well some people call me- something... similar."

A moment passes when she thinks about a Knight catching a maiden. For some reason she keeps getting this image of Signum and Vita in her head- finally catching up to another Magical Girl to drain them. "I guess it's correct that Knights try to catch maidens."

In the wake of their impact they're sent behind the giant turtle- she loses hold of Passion, "Passion!" But the blizzard redoubles in it's fury as she touches down and she can't do anything more than try to save herself. And with a thin barrier jacket like this- if so much frozen rain and snow strikes her then she might /freeze/ to death extra rapidly.

Fate's strategy- try not to let it touch her. But that's easier said than /done/ in a blizzard. Fortunately it looks like Lera has got it, "Good catch Lera..." She says a bit breathlessly.

Pushing her poles against the ground with all the force she can muster, she rockets forward- her speed her only shield from hypothermia and an icy death. Her path takes her swerving up the edge of the canyon, her speed outstripping gravity and allowing her to ski sideways on the edge of the canyon.

Kicking off with a single ski, she vaults sideways and upside down over the turtle in a flight that takes her to the opposite side of the canyon, just over it. The hooked energy blade attached to the ski pole raking it's nigh impenetrable shell it as she scores it across, before she'd impact the other side of the canyon with her skis- and keep going in her horizontal run along it, if it works.

COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has used Gold Rush on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has finished attacking.
<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Sparkling ice - a million shards of light - is this what I am? la Sirene wonders as the light sparkles around her -

LOOK WHERE YOU ARE GOING, LA SIRENE. The nose of the bobsled slams into an outcropping of stone, and ice does not beat ancient igneous rock. There is a massive crack and two screams - for now where they were in a bobsled, la Sirene AND Batiste are now in fact on a toboggan proper. She looks to the side even as Batiste clings to her calf with intense strength.

La Sirene looks to the side as the Guardian Beast screams. "Sailor Mars!" she calls forwards, before one hand is raised to gesture towards her. A benediction? Perhaps; a sphere of that light seems to emanate from her, like a bubble flying from a bubble wand, and towards her.


Oh; it's undulating around in a scything, writhing protective sea of tendrils, like some sort of strangely colored ghostly anemone.

That IS protection - of a sort - at least it will keep anything from touching her, and perhaps veil her some from the sight of the Guardian Beast. (After this, la Sirene resumes focusing on not hitting a mountain.)

COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has started a combo targeting Hotaru Tomoe!
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

As the runes explode, Lancelot crosses Arondight in fornt of him, the shining white blades of Arondight absorbing MOST of the blast. However, some of it manages to find their way to the kngiht, and he hisses as a small red line is drawn across his cheek. However he can't let this slow him down so he kicks furiously, bringing the ice made snowbaord to speed to try and catch up with the group. Luckily, though not blessed with flight like other Lightning users, Lancelot is blessed wiht speed, and he is quickly at the back of the pack so to speak.

Catching up to Fate, which is only done becuase she fell behind after the attack, he gives the smaller Lightning thrower a grin. "Thanks for the assist!" Then he's looking for his next opening. Not really seeing anything right away, he grits his teeth and secides to throw some Lighting at the epic turtle of black so black it makes black look white. It might give somebody a chance to strike or where he does, or give somebody a chance. Who knows?

Slamming his blades together, the lighting around the blades form into one continuous stream as he cries out, "HEAVEN'S WRATH!!" This sends a pusling and arcing blue and white beam of pure lighting toward the Obsidian Beast. Snow is evaporated from the ehat of the balst creating a vapor trail that hisses and sparks in the lightning's wake.

COMBAT: Lancelot has started a combo targeting Hotaru Tomoe!
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Kasagami's heart races in her chest as the Muse's music and pure belief fill her. She doesn't want to falter, /can't/ falter with such a glorious, willing participant as Muse Terpsichore. Her attack is useless, sheath turning to splinters. Kasagami's head tilts, her confidence only remaining high thanks to her co-rider's own actions.

"I see. Once again we face a monster unyielding. It's stronger than it was around Christmas. Perfect. I can..."

Then, it screams. Kasagami very near falls off of her vehicle, forced to crouch down in order to steer the ice-mobile back into place. Parts of the armor of the ice-vehicle are flayed right off by the creature's attack, and her coat finally flings free, slashed to shreds by icey flakes sent her way. By the time Kasagami stands again, she's breathing hard, face flushed red, and she licks chapped lips slowly. Her body feels sluggish, and her sleeves and ankles are ripped fabric with her skin beneath either darkening more than usual, or reddened horrifically. Her breath comes in great fogs. With one more sucking breath, she holds her long blade high. Rose petals flare up around her weapon, and with an eye towards Sailor Mars, she gives a single, two-handed swing that sends a flurry of razor-sharp petals towards the blizzard surrounding the Obsidian beast!

But rather than directly attack the creature, a road of rose petals forms. It seems to shimmer, Kasagami's strange ability having it seem to be there and not there at once for a singular moment, as the magical girls who need it to be. A proper dark red carpet for the valiant souls she finds herself fighting beside!

Her free hand claws as she ignores the literal ice-cicles growing on her cuffs and remains of her hems. Her gaze turns to Mars, and she grins. "What an interesting looking person! Let's see what she's capable of..." Mutters Kasagami, as that road of slicing roses soon starts to swirl, warding off as much of the cold as it can! Her floral power seems concentrated on the passionate Senshi of Fire!

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has joined the combo started by La Sirene de Diamant!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

"I'm not sure it's so much that it's 'back for more,' Hikaru-san," the Wind Knight calls out to her sister-in-arms. "But ..."


"I think Fate-san is right, those runes seem like something imposed by an outside force. But what could possess the power to bind a being such as this?"

She doesn't have much time to entertain that question. Fate and Cure Passion give Lancelot an additional boost, and the knight's sword manages to damage the runes ...

They can do this. It still won't be easy, especially plunging into that canyon, but the Magic Knight of Wind swerves sharply and avoids crashing against the mountainside next to the canyon's mouth.

Sure enough, as La Sirene spotted it, Sailor Mars seems to be in a good position to launch a focused attack. "Allow me to help make a path!" the Wind Knight calls out, gathering her magic. "Mars-san, get ready! Storm-Dance of Kamaitachi!!"

The wind briefly grows much more turbulent - but the turbulence is deliberate, tearing up around the protective tendrils as though to keep them from being disrupted by anything outside the pass. Kasagami's road of rose petals is also contained within the Storm Dance's perimeter, the magics potentially amplifying each other as the Wind Knight helps Kasagami and La Sirene carve that path ...

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has joined the combo started by La Sirene de Diamant!
<Pose Tracker> Hikaru Shidou [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Blue rain is coming down... blue rain... or something like that.

The freezing rain strikes the Fire Knight, but it's more of a flesh wound... barely. She shakes it off and says, "It doesn't matter. We're going to finish it! We have to defeat it!" She then notices what her ally is doing and says, "Let me assist!" She points in their direction and narrows her eyes.

"This is one of my personal favorites!" The Fire Knight adds as she hurls a large sphere of fire towards the demon as she calls out, "FIREBALL!" Simple but effective.

COMBAT: Hikaru Shidou has joined the combo started by La Sirene de Diamant!
COMBAT: COMBO! La Sirene de Diamant, Kasagami Araki, Fuu Hououji, and Hikaru Shidou have used Combo: Samedi & Black Magic in Alchemy, composed of Polyploia, Dance in the Petals, Storm-Dance of Kamaitachi, and Fireball, on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Hikaru Shidou has finished attacking.
<Pose Tracker> Muse Terpsichore [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Oh that is just /cold/. The Muse is a much less happy muse with the icy rain chilling her to the bone as she dives to the side of the vehicle with Kasagami, trying her best to avoid the worst of the cutting wind and driving sleet. But its to no avail!

She doesn't join in on their group effort, but what the Muse does do is play encouraging background music to as many ears as her guitar can reach in the sleeting storm; coincidentally the audience she finds captive is much the same as it was just a few nights before!

COMBAT: Muse Terpsichore has used Call to the Fight! on Hikaru Shidou.
COMBAT: Muse Terpsichore has used Call to the Fight! on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Muse Terpsichore has used Call to the Fight! on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Muse Terpsichore has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki accepts Muse Terpsichore's Call to the Fight!, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Empower applied to Kasagami Araki!
COMBAT: Hikaru Shidou accepts Muse Terpsichore's Call to the Fight!, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Empower applied to Hikaru Shidou!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji accepts Muse Terpsichore's Call to the Fight!, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Empower applied to Fuu Hououji!
COMBAT: COMBO! Lancelot have used Heaven's Wrath on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Lancelot has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to dodge Fate Testarossa's Gold Rush, taking 28 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Fate Testarossa is Psyched!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly braces La Sirene de Diamant, Kasagami Araki, Fuu Hououji, and Hikaru Shidou's Combo: Samedi & Black Magic in Alchemy, taking 22 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Hotaru Tomoe's Block ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Parry ability activates!  Cripple, Tangle, and Trap applied to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to dodge Lancelot's Combo: Heaven's Wrath, taking 22 Fatigue damage!  Blind and Stagger applied to Hotaru Tomoe!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Mars [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Squinting her eyes, the acrid frost and the biting wind whipping against her with all her velocity wreak havoc on the comfort of her unblinkered gaze. Attempting to cast a wall of heat in front of her as a sort of windshield, she only manages to spray steam in her eyes, obscuring her sight even further. The momentary lapse in her compromised awareness throws her off of her rhythm, and the hulking shard of frozen mass hurtling towards her comes as that much more of a surprise.

Slaloming off to the side, she's grazed by her shoulder, a rough blow given the speed at which she travels..but far from a crippling one.

La Sirene calls out to her, and despite the frustration and pain writ large upon her face, Sailor Mars looks back to her. At first she raises her hand in return, not understanding the significance until a light shines from her comrade. Her eyes widen in surprise, at first unsure of what to make of the hyperprolific flora growing around her in a tunnel aligned with her path forward. She wishes she could thank the other girl, but the very relief she offered precluded any line of sight between them.

But for all that her sight is constricted by the mineshaft of roses ensconcing her, it is restored by the dramatic reduction in the savage winds waging war amongst the rest of her allies. She isn't entirely spared of them, and indeed the breeze that penetrates the wall is savagely funneled through it. But Sailor Mars can clearly see again.

As she comes to accelerate down the trench for her attack run, she sees a spray of further petals launching ahead of her. The magic seems different than that of the tunnel, for all its thematic similarity..and she intuitively understands that she has more than one friend helping her in this moment. The ice storm protecting the hell turtle like a second shell falters beneath its onslaught. And behind her, a gale wind rises..but it is a kamikaze, a holy wind, stilling the raging gales within the tunnel, fully unencumbering Mars from their fury, and propelling her faster than ever before. She could hear Fuu even if she couldn't see her, and silently murmurs a prayer of thanks for all those who have cleared her way.

Crouching low on her skates, Mars' eyes gleam with the hard steel of her righteous intent. The ofuda does not lie. The creature she's hurtling towards is a profound evil, a league beyond the common sort of monster she comes across in her travels. The sort of youma she would gladly die to defeat. She has, quite literally, trained her entire life to extinguish such vile flames. And she is ready.

Another ofuda appears, pasted to her forehead this time. It does not catch fire like the first she flung...instead, it grows more vivid and bright, and then shines with a brilliant light..before the white light of the paper overwhelms and consumes the black light of the ink.

When she emerges from the tunnel she is shockingly close, funneled directly past the horde of defenses that the creature commands. Its spiky shell consumes the entire night sky of her vision, drowning it out like the jaws of the Fenris wolf, its glowing red runes gleaming like bloodied fangs..and in the very center of that nightmarish expanse gleamed a cluster glowing as brightly as any fire she's ever seen.

At the height of her speed, she seems tiny in comparison against that indomitable backdrop..and the glowing white prayer in her hand seems even tinier. Closing her eyes, she murmurs something meant only for the both of them, and releases her will into the wind..

The next part she's less sure of..and for all her experience skiing, this technique will be a new one for her.

Swinging her lower body up with all her might while simultaneously cutting out the throttle on her skis, her momentum carried her in a half circle, flipping her so that her head is where her feet just were, facing the opposite direction, before punching the acceleration back on. The result is as wild and barely controlled as one might expect..her direction approximate, her control utterly illusory. But she is, generally, vaguely, mostly..traveling away from the beast, hoping against hope to re-enter the same protective tunnel that she came from, and bracing herself for what happens if she misses.

COMBAT: Sailor Mars has used Evil, Begone! on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Sailor Mars has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly counters Sailor Mars's Evil, Begone!, taking 43 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe's counterattack, Agony, partially gets through, doing 5 Fatigue damage to Sailor Mars!  Blind, Cripple, Stun, and Trap applied to Sailor Mars!
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

There's a brief and marvelous moment where the air /isn't/ a blizzard anymore, because it's a wind-and-lightning-tossed petal and lightstorm. It's a rave of cosmic energies, a celebration of belief. There's a broad mix in there, largely directed at Sailor Mars -- affection and pride, and simple, raw faith. She lives up to it all; her ofuda seems to infect the red runecluster with glorious white light, and it slowly overwhelms one twisted letter, then the next, down the chains until finally they snap and burst.

Release is a painful process -- all the chains between the top of the shell and the back of the neck fly loose, scoring the shell itself like razors plunging at terminal velocity. And they fly towards the retreating Sailor Senshi, too, lashing her in passing before disappearing into the score. No welts are raised, no blood is shed; what passes between the dark magic and the brilliant maiden, closing the circuit, is empathy. Some small measure of how the Obsidian Beast felt, all this time.

It's too much for one person to bear, no matter how soulful, and the others can't help but feel it too; it warps the air with red and green waves, twisting as it enters hearts and minds. A few memories bubble to the fore: a long sleep, and a rude awakening, at the hands of a stranger. The binding...

When the blizzard returns, cold replacing agony, this time it is almost a relief.

They've cleared the canyon now, and the Beast flees its pursuers upwards -- up Mount Asahi, the highest point on Hokkaido. (There are other memories to be had here, from last winter, of the rebirth of a fallen star, and the fall of a newborn god...) At the Beast's steep angle of ascent, even magic winter sports gear won't be enough; everyone will have to help each other follow, one way or another.

But what comes up must come down, and there will be a moment, a crucial moment, when the Beast crests the summit -- and immediately afterwards, the group is above.

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Agony on Cure Passion.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Agony on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Agony on Fate Testarossa.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Agony on La Sirene de Diamant.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Agony on Lancelot.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Agony on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Agony on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Agony on Hikaru Shidou.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Agony on Muse Terpsichore.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Malicious Curse on Sailor Mars.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has finished attacking.
DICE: Hotaru Tomoe rolls 1d10+0 and gets 3!
COMBAT: Lera Camry narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Agony, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Lera Camry's Fade ability activates!  Lera Camry's Flash ability activates!  Blind, Cripple, Stun, and Trap applied to Lera Camry!
COMBAT: Muse Terpsichore narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Agony, taking 12 Fatigue damage!  Blind, Stun, and Trap applied to Muse Terpsichore!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa perfectly counters Hotaru Tomoe's Agony, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Counter!  Fate Testarossa's Reverse ability activates!  Fate Testarossa's Tactician ability activates!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa's counterattack, Blitz Rush, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki perfectly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Agony, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Critical Dodge!  Kasagami Araki's Fade ability activates!  Kasagami Araki's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Lancelot fails to dodge Hotaru Tomoe's Agony, taking 19 Fatigue damage!  Blind, Cripple, and Stun applied to Lancelot!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Agony, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji's Fade ability activates!  Fuu Hououji's Flash ability activates!  Blind, Stun, and Trap applied to Fuu Hououji!
COMBAT: Cure Passion fails to brace Hotaru Tomoe's Agony, taking 18 Fatigue damage!  Trap applied to Cure Passion!
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Agony, taking 8 Fatigue damage!  Blind and Trap applied to La Sirene de Diamant!
<Pose Tracker> Muse Terpsichore [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The Muse is just not having a great time. First its freezing cold chilling to the bone. Now its empathic agony! As the Sailor Senshi breaks the bonds and chains, that shared agony brings a cry of pain from the Muse, one of the few noises she actually makes herself. Its wracking, and she almost falls forwards off the snowmobile. But fortunately for her, Kasagamis expertly dodging skills have vacated the front seat!

Like the figurehead of an epic war-ship, Kasagami rides on the front of the magical snowmobile. Terpsichore gets behind the handlebars for the first time, slinging her electric guitar behind her back as she revs up the engine. She brings one hand forwards, and makes a chopping gesture after the Obsidian beast before the engine howls and the snow-mobile chases it up the hill.

Terpsichore is leading the charge, the Muse intent on piloting that snowmobile right up overtop of the Obsidian Beast to give the Crimson Rose Duelist the cleanest shot at the tail-rune that she can... And maybe sky-bomb the Snowmobile into it for godo measure!

COMBAT: Hikaru Shidou narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Agony, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  Hikaru Shidou's Block ability activates!  Hikaru Shidou's Parry ability activates!  Blind, Cripple, and Stun applied to Hikaru Shidou!
COMBAT: Sailor Mars fails to brace Hotaru Tomoe's Malicious Curse, taking 31 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
COMBAT: Muse Terpsichore has started a combo targeting Hotaru Tomoe!
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Being hit while going REALLY fast only adds to the amount of force behind the impact. Or as Lancelot likes to say ... Ouch. Lancelot is hit and he tumbles on his snowboard, hitting the ground and rolling before he finds a tree, goes through that tree, and slams into a boulder in an explosion of snow. He pushes himself to his hands and knees and is mostly certain he idn't break anything or loose any teeth thanks to magical armor forged of lightning, when he blinks as his snowboard slowly slides past.

He watches it for a moment in a sort of daze, becuase he went through a tree and hit a boulder. Finally he shakes his head to clear it, and then pushes himself to his feet. Whelp. Between the bus and that, he's pretty sure he has a concussion. Aaaaaand Mai will deny him bacon or anything meat related for a week.

He catches up with the group (agian) and sends lightning coursing through the blades. Soon, lancelot is trailing twin streamers of lighting that crackle and pulse with bright and brilliahgt light. He spies a hill and grins as he thinks to himself, //Ramp// and makes for it. Doing everything he can to pick up speed as he goes. Soon he reaches the apex and launches himself into the air in time with the others as he cries, "LIGHTNING IMPACT!" his blades exploding in brilliant blue and white light of crackling and thundering lightning.

COMBAT: Lancelot has joined the combo started by Muse Terpsichore!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Mars [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Rei falls like a shooting star, but with none of a parabola's grace. Would that she only had a single trajectory to follow! A magical rocket on each heel is a two edged sword without a hilt, and maybe even without a handle. She misses the tunnel and all its protections, and falls fully victim to the consequences of her actions. Coming to understand that the best way to stabilize her direction is to surrender to the one trajectory that the planet wields like an executive veto, she kills her thrust, and gives herself over to gravity.

She sees the snapping chains interspersed among her tumbling vision. Although she's likely just in the way of their savage path, from her disoriented position it feels all too much like they're pursuing her with deliberation and intent. Struggling vainly to shrug off the dark lengths, the multiple forces compelling her distraction are too much to overcome, and she is stricken as surely as if she were lying prone and unconscious.

No welts are raised, no blood is shed. But even as her skin appears unblemished with their passing, the cursed bonds burn savagely at her spirit. There is no righteousness in their jagged bite, and she is moved with sympathy for the terrible pain that so much of it must have wrought. But a rampaging beast is still just that, no matter how cruel its torture into madness.

Rei falls, mercifully missing the broader chunks of the glacial miasma to return to her friends. For the moment, falling is all she feels she can do, until her position re-stabilizes. She prays for this creature, and hopes that it is not beyond redemption. But in life or in death she will remedy its blight. She whispers to herself and the wind that obliterates and scatters her sound into the atmosphere.

"In the name of Mars..your agony ends tonight.."

Soon enough her spins and tumbles level off, and without needing to factor in an incredibly close, incredibly massive, and incredibly ancient evil, she takes the time to slowly right herself, only then resuming her flight, and her pursuit. Rejoining the path, despite her visible haggardness, she flashes a peace sign to La Sirene, Kasagumi, Fuu, and all the rest.

COMBAT: Sailor Mars has used In The Name Of Mars on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Sailor Mars has finished attacking.
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Chains shatter, that rune is wiped out, lashing the poor Senshi. Kasagami looks on, enraptured for just one moment at the magical girl's prowess, power, and bravery. Unlike with her Moonlight Partner, Kasagami can only feel respect and curiousity for the raven haired Warrior of Mars. The hand on her sword grows tighter and her free hand a balled fist. Then, she relaxes just slightly.

Agony wracks her body. Mental, physical, the creature's old memories batter Kasagami in every single sense. Her breath stops, she holds it, and yet...old memories of her own float to the surface. Meditative sessions with her mother. And most of all, the pure despair and hopelessness of losing everything on one cold, fiery night. She stumbles, very nearly falls limp, only for music and the presence of others to keep her on her feet.

Another breath, a half-sob, and she lets it all out. Indeed, Kasagami makes a dramatic flip to the front of the snowmobile, and scowls imperiously at the creature as Terpsichore's impressive driving has them rising high towards the Beast's tail rune! One glance back to her Muse friend.

"Nice driving! No hesitation! Not one step back from our story! FORWARD TO OUR DREAMS!"

Both hands clench her blade, and she pulls it back wide. The petals from her rose road float away, only to reform around her sword, forming a deadly contrail. And then, finally, she leaps at the height of Rinji's snowmobile jump, turning her body, and slamming down her strike with all of the combined power, velocity, and /believe/ of those fighting alongside the Disciplinary Executive. She puts her back into it, the petals breaking off, creating a literal avalanche of knife-edged dark crimson roses ready to slash away at the tail-rune powering the grand turtle of agony, Lancelot's furious lightning seeping and crawling amidst the petals in a thunderous show of nature and shared defiance!

There's no exit strategy, at least not directly, from Kasagami Araki. No, as she carries herself past the thing's tail, she doesn't bother slowing. She's more worried about the inevitable counter-attack than the ever-encroaching slam into the side of a mountain. Both hands grip her blade defensively, good eye narrowed amidst the blizzard.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Kasagami Araki has joined the combo started by Muse Terpsichore!
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Cure Passion looks up as Lera sails from down, and looks at her with obvious relief obscured only partially by the wind and ice falling against her face. Lera reaches to take her hand, and Passion grips hard back with her fingers, hanging on tight while she's pulled up. The younger of the two manages a brief smile, but only brief; she's still breathing hard. "You do," she answers, and stays close... Until she looks to the Obsidian Beast, too, in its pain.

It's a very long way down; in some ways it isn't so different.... But in others it's very different. Both times, she held on back. But this time...

The winds keep going as Passion flies with Lera, looking out towards the giant turtle and watching one of the Senshi light up another set of chains. "We're doing it," she starts to Lera, still looking, and then that awful air-warping pain. Passion starts to feel it and immediately attempts to block it out, to squeeze her eyes shut and hang on to Lera rather than deal with it. But she can't; she doesn't notice the groan of pain she makes, shivering and not from the cold. ...That she shivers from the cold a moment later makes it no better.

"...No one has a right to inflict this kind of pain," Cure Passion says, and sets her jaw. She looks for an opening-and sees others already working to make one. "Right--Look, they're going--" Intently, "Let's hit the other side!"

And with that, Passion shakes out her ankle, still wearing her skate, and hangs on tighter. "I don't see Fate, but I'm sure she's still here!"

Cure Passion is ready.

COMBAT: Cure Passion has started a combo targeting Hotaru Tomoe!
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Lera smiles back at Setsuna, then she nods her head at the other girl. She keeps a tight grip on her at first. But, that terrible feeling of pain is enough to bring her out of the moment, and she looks back to Obsidian Beast. She stares at it for a moment longer, before she nods. "We'll do it! C'mon!"

She takes a deep breath, and then soars around for the other side of the Beast. Her eyes scan the sky as she does, and then catches sight of Fate. "Fate!" she cries out. "We're going in!"

A blur of red, green, and orange cuts across the sky -- and then Lera shoots around to the side of the Obsidian Beast. She wheels back, then throws Cure Passion for the side. She dives in a moment later, and grips Soaring Sky with both hands. The blade ignites, flame leaping and dancing up the length of the Device, as she sucks in a breath.

<Inferno Slasher!>

A Belkan Triangle erupts -- and it's a beacon, too, for Fate to follow up on. Lera slams down at the side, blade striking for the shell. When she does, a fiery slash explodes off it, with the impact, and she flies in with Cure Passion in time.

COMBAT: Lera Camry has joined the combo started by Cure Passion!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

If the Beast is actually bound against its will by some force, thinks the Wind Knight as the severed bindings tear through sky and mountain and magical girl alike, then the bindings are doing an *awfully* good job of subjugating the Obsidian Beast's will. She manages to avoid being dashed against the bottom of the canyon or swept up and blown back to Tokyo (or elsewhere), but it's a VERY near thing, and she's still wobbly as heck when she manages to regain an even keel.

Nor is she the only one who's in terrible shape, it appears. Sailor Mars was right there next to it, and as she sees Kasagami attempting an attack run of her own, the Wind Knight shakes her head, trying to clear it - trying to make sure she only sees *one* Kasagami, not two or three. Muse Terpsichore's music helps her re-center, though, and the Wind Knight raises an arm (and a ski pole of utterly clear ice) in a gesture of thanks.

And then she calls out, "Winds of Healing!" The balmy breeze with its restorative magic dances about gusts towards Muse Terpsichore, reaches out to catch Sailor Mars and help her land safely, and even accelerates to catch up with Kasagami - trying to shore up their strength, offset their injuries, and let them keep fighting most effectively for a little longer.

Maybe she should have reserved some of the Winds of Healing for herself, but the others seemed in greater need.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Healing on Muse Terpsichore.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Healing on Sailor Mars.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Healing on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Muse Terpsichore accepts Fuu Hououji's Winds of Healing, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Cleanse! All of Muse Terpsichore's debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki accepts Fuu Hououji's Winds of Healing, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Cleanse! All of Kasagami Araki's debuffs are cleared!
<Pose Tracker> Hikaru Shidou [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

No matter how difficult things get, the Fire Knight refuses to let herself be brought down completely. She struggles against the dark forces trying to bring her down and grips her sword tightly. "I won't give up! We have to win this!" She looks over and see the Wind Knight doing her healing duties, and the Fire Knight smiles a little. "She can do it, and so can I!" She grips her sword even tighter. "It'

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

La Sirene flies into the pain.

It is like being whipped on the inside of her ribcage. It is like when that ice cut her hand in Cephiro. It is like nothing else. It is like finding out her mother was having another child and having a slow realization that the eyes of everyone were turning towards him before he was even born. It's like -

It passes. La Sirene groans. Behind her, Batiste clings in a swoon to her leg. Fortunately la Sirene doesn't need to run right now. She gives Mars a look, her dark-lined eyes rather pale. But when the peace sign is given, she raises a hand and returns it.

Exhaling shakily, she turns on her side, drawing her leg up and crooking it around the passed-out otter to give him some protection. The fact that this puts her in a rather insouciant position is irrelevant. Her hand curls into a loose fist in front of her, and she speaks out loud, yet surprisingly clearly despite all the wind:

"We can't stop now, can we?"

Then they're rising upwards, over that crest...


La Sirene puts her free hand to her face for a moment, eyes closing, then snapping open as she looks outwards onto the world. Above them the stars shine bright, and here they are so distant that there is no hatred or shrivelling force to them. She takes a deep breath, lets it out in a cloud of mist...

The unlight snaps down for a moment, forming a great and transient geometric form. Like a brilliant-cut diamond. Of course the lower part of it is right in front of the Guardian's eyes - well, head anyway - it may be a distraction.

COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has used Salute the Four Corners on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has finished attacking.
COMBAT: COMBO! FINISHER! Muse Terpsichore, Lancelot, and Kasagami Araki have used Sky Bomb, Lightning Impact, and Bloody Rose Storm on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Muse Terpsichore has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Lancelot has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has finished attacking.
<Pose Tracker> Hikaru Shidou [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

No matter how difficult things get, the Fire Knight refuses to let herself be brought down completely. She struggles against the dark forces trying to bring her down and grips her sword tightly. "I won't give up! We have to win this!" She looks over and see the Wind Knight doing her healing duties, and the Fire Knight smiles a little. "She can do it, and so can I!" She grips her sword even tighter. "It's time to show them what I'm made of!"

With that, the Fire Knight turns on the speed, running towards the monster as swiftly as she can, before striking with her sword. A battle cry is yelled out as she slashes with her trusty sword.

COMBAT: Hikaru Shidou has used Sword Slash on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hikaru Shidou has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Mars accepts Fuu Hououji's Winds of Healing, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Cleanse! All of Sailor Mars's debuffs are cleared!
<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

Skiing along the opposite canyon side, Fate watches as the others set up Sailor Mars to attack another cluster. She can only look for so long. She still feels guilty about the time she attacked her. Really hurt her- just to send a message from Labyrinth. She takes a breath. But- there's a ripple of pain through the air pulsing outwards from Sailor Mars.

<Caution!> Bardiche detects it half a heartbeat before her, and perhaps that's all that saves her. If that struck her, then the pain might have caused her momentum to fail... and then she'd have been dashed against the mountain side.

In this thin barrier jacket, she wouldn't have likely survived.

But fortunately- <Blitz Rush>

Fortunately she becomes a golden blur ahead, only catching the slightest glimmer of the creature's pain.

It brings back memories- that are not so lovely- of her mother.

Holding her head, she spins out, having to stop for just a moment to catch her breath from far away. "That was close." For half a second, she considers switching back to her much safer, much sturdier barrier jacket. One that won't get her killed if she makes a single mistake but-

She gives the creature a sympathetic look. WIth how much it's suffering, could she do any less than put everything on the line for it? "Can you go a little longer Bardiche?" <Of course.>

The two are racing to catch up soon after. Which is why when Passion says that she might have to double take because Fate is right there, flying alongside them. "Right here." She didn't hear the plan exactly, but it's easy enough to follow it in motion. "Alright! I'll back you up Lera." Lera's Belkan sigil and the fireflash allow her to follow them in, and there's a golden streak that crosses at the same moment, impacting simultaneously.

She just hopes the pain it feels right now is insignificant, she really doesn't like adding any more to it.

COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has joined the combo started by Cure Passion!
COMBAT: COMBO! Cure Passion, Lera Camry, and Fate Testarossa have used Combo: Golden Inferno Feint, composed of Flash Feint, Inferno Slasher, and Golden Flash, on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Cure Passion has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Lera Camry has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe perfectly dodges Sailor Mars's In The Name Of Mars, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Critical Dodge!  Hotaru Tomoe's Fade ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly braces Cure Passion, Lera Camry, and Fate Testarossa's Combo: Golden Inferno Feint, taking 17 Fatigue damage!  Cure Passion, Lera Camry, and Fate Testarossa are Psyched!  Hotaru Tomoe's Block ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Parry ability activates!  Exhausted applied to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to dodge Hikaru Shidou's Sword Slash, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Hikaru Shidou is Psyched!  Stagger applied to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly braces La Sirene de Diamant's Salute the Four Corners, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Hotaru Tomoe's Block ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Parry ability activates!  Bind Break! All of La Sirene de Diamant's debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to dodge Muse Terpsichore, Lancelot, and Kasagami Araki's Finisher, Combo: Sky Bomb, taking 145 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Muse Terpsichore, Lancelot, and Kasagami Araki are Psyched!  Diversion and Exhausted applied to Hotaru Tomoe!
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

Sailor Mars releases her determination into the storm, but the storm has no answer. All it can do is howl.

There are many chains of runes hanging off the final cluster -- detached from the central one -- but they aren't limp at all. They lash and slash at any and everything that comes in, raising huge orange, yellow and red sparks against the blurs that were Lera, Fate and Cure Passion; throwing themselves into Lancelot's lightning and Hikaru's sword slashes with abandon, intercepting them; heedlessly chasing La Sirene's illusion; crashing into the icy snowmobile...

It takes all of this and more to occupy the chains, allowing them to be overwhelmed by Kasagami's petals. At first it's just one or two, settling on a rune here, a chain there, but the cluster is quickly overwhelmed, disappearing beneath the avalanche like Tokyo once did. There's no purification here, just wholesale violence -- the dark energies are carved off of the Obsidian Beast one razor's edge at a time. And there's screaming, again, the Beast's, the magic's, a thwarted binder, perhaps, and everyone else too, as the last of the memories are released, relieved; the deep black exhaustion of being forced to make a massive storm far beyond one's actual desires, one that caused great suffering to the greatest city in the world; the angry red confusion of attacking an invading force -- who might deserve it, on some level, but to /consume/ them, to bring that foreign cancer into oneself -- that is wrong, fundamentally.

And then the Obsidian Beast is free. The last of the runes drop into the clouds, and the clouds themselves start to fade, becoming fog, then mist, then sparkling, frozen dew.

The whole of Hokkaido is laid out below the mountain... Sapporo in the distance, with its glorious ice palaces, host to many grand parties; closer, only a few peaks over, the familiar ski course with lodge at its feet. In between, farms, towns, shrines, schools... a life both very similar to, and very different from, that of the Sister Schools.

The Obsidian Beast rolls over, swirling with remarkable grace for a creature of its size. It is still impossibly cold to the touch. Dangerous. Unrestrained. But malicious -- no.

THANK YOU, its voice resonates, not through the ears, but through the heart.

It is gone in a drift of storm -- one that swirls and curls around the group like intricate calligraphy, and when it is possible to see again, they're at the bus, in ski jackets and slushy sneakers instead of fabrics wrought from flame or light or steel, intermingled with others who were looking for them.

"/There/ you are," Midori-sensei bellows, doing a quick, exasperated headcount. "Come /on/ already, we're going to miss the--"

But she can't quite get out 'the ferry', because above the hills and mountains where this fight just took place, a final piece of gratitude shines into being -- prismatic, undulating radiance, the voices of a distant star, a symphony of atmosphere.

There are so many kinds of rainbows -- but the aurora borealis is a special one.

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe transforms into Genbu!
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mars' peace sign is met with a single clench of her fist in solidarity with the Senshi. Fuu's healing wind turns the frigid fury assaulting her limbs into mere numbing irritation, all with her smiling at her supposed enemy both brightly and belligerantly. Her gaze turns to the creature that they finally defeated.

At first, there's no mercy in Kasagami. So much might as it might possess, just another being unworthy of being in her ideal world. But then her heart feels the difference, the pair of words in her heart that have her eye widening. Time pauses for a mere moment, and only then, does the arrogant, selfish Executive of Ohtori's Student Council feel just what she's done today. Something to ponder on.

Then she impacts into the snow, arms open, ready to accept one Rinji into hers. The physical agony is much better than considering a good deed. Much less confusing.

~Back At The Bus~

It's with a suspicously nodachi-shaped bundle that Kasagami Araki basically limps back onto the bus, eyeing the furious Midori-sensei with a grin that's a shade or two less challenging than before. Only slightly though. A teacher with a backbone is a rare jewel, and she intends to indulge.

Leaning, likely into Rinji, she then puts her blade into place, and reaches to her shoulder. A glance to the beautiful rainbow. A chuckle, and then, she grits.

Crunch. She sets her shoulder back into its socket.

"/TURTLES/!" Said with all the venom of the worst cuss word.