2017-05-05 - Outer Senshi vs Chevaliers

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Title: Outer Senshi vs. Chevaliers

The mysterious Outer Senshi strike in broad daylight, attempting to kill Hotaru Tomoe. Makoto Kino's chance presence and heroic defense buys time for Mami and the Chevaliers to intervene as well. After a pitched battle, the Outers are forced to retreat, and Hotaru is left in Makoto's care.


Chika Aki, Fate Testarossa, Haruka Tenoh, Makoto Kino, Hotaru Tomoe, Mami Tomoe, Nori Ankou, Setsuna Meioh


Shibuya Shopping District

OOC - IC Date:

May 5, 2017 - Saturday, January 17, 2015

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Romance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tUBP3QeVSc

It may be the depths of winter even in late afternoon (breath is visible, the sky is a sooty gray, at least it isn't raining), but that doesn't stop spring from being on full display at the Beaucoup Bridal Boutique. Word of their 'Language of Flowers, Language of Love' exhibition reached even such distant and reclusive ears as Hotaru Tomoe's, and given the premise -- not just special flowers, but recreations of the bridal bouquets of ~Royal Weddings!~ of the last fifty years -- there has been a huge turnout.

The store itself is an overrunning cup. Every square meter is filled with more people than the fire code allows, mostly young women, and the crowd is several layers deep even in front of the door and the big display window of the storefront. The noise is an indescribable combination of joy (from those who are catching a glimpse of a remarkable floral arrangement) and dismay (from those who cannot see past everyone else).

Floating at the very edge of the crowd is the little shadow herself, her apparent mass doubled or tripled by her father's green winter coat, and still looking like she might get blown away by a gentle breeze, much less a stiff one. Nobody's fool, Hotaru wouldn't risk getting knocked around in a maelstrom of humanity like that for anything short of her best friend's smile or tears, and Chibi-Usa is not in evidence, having not been reachable by phone. It's true, though, that the anticipation of the former expression, after telling her how she went by herself anyway -- a big step for someone who so rarely braves the world -- is much of what got her this far.

She tries her tiptoes a couple of times, but the wall is impenetrable. Shaking her head a little, which sends hair like soft, dark silk across her cheeks, her eyes take on a distant, cool expression: resignation. Having come all this way for nothing, she shouldn't linger in the cold... but still, she can't quite bring herself to leave without even a single glimpse.

Even while being careful to stay out in relatively open space on the sidewalk, she still almost gets bowled over by a pair of eager mothers who will see Princess Diana's bouquet or die trying. Her arms windmill, and she staggers backwards, directly into--

[OOC] Global: Hotaru Tomoe has set the Scene Pose.
<Pose Tracker> Haruka Tenoh [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Dappled light lies across the windshield of a classic sky-blue Ferrari, the shade of a curbside tree swaying across its polished hood. The driver's side window is cracked, and within, a pair of black lenses shifts imperceptibly to follow a distant target. It's a discreet pair of binoculars, perhaps purchased for the opera. The hand they rest in curls a finger gently to focus, until the pale face of a lonesome young girl resolves beneath straight-cut bangs.

"You were right," Haruka says, with that distant tone one takes when one's attention is literally far away. "She's here." Tilting the binoculars down, Haruka glances up at the roof of the nearest building, then checks the windows. "I don't like it, though. You said you saw conflict. Right now, this is looking about as easy as it could possibly be."

She doesn't look back at the other occupant of the car as she kills the thrumming engine with a clatter of keys. Gripping the wheel with her fingerless driving gloves, Haruka checks herself for nerves in the rearview, seeing only steely resolve in that slice of her face. "This is where you saw it happening. Right?" She pops the door. "Then we'll tell Michiru when it's over."

Hands in the pockets of a brown leather jacket, a handsome blond man walks quickly down the street, his jaw and brows hard like ice.

<Pose Tracker> Makoto Kino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

There are few things that would attract Makoto Kino's attention more than an exhibit on flowers, and that's an exhibit on flowers that also recreates famous wedding bouquets featured at an actual wedding boutique. Whether Makoto was able to reach any of her friends by phone to invite them along or not, she hurries down the streets, green eyes alight with joyful anticipation of AN ENORMOUS CROWD. Seriously, turn the corner and it's like running smack into an iron wall. Makoto screeches to a halt right before she might barrel someone down, but she's left at a momentary loss, staring at the crowd around the storefront.

Still, this isn't enough to discourage Makoto Kino. Not by far! She stands on her tippy-toes first, seeing if she can look over the crowd--and she gets quite a few tantalizing looks, but it's not enough. Right! Time to swim through the crowd! And a one and a two and a--

Motion catches the corner of her eye, and Makoto turns around just in time to catch Hotaru, clad in her oversized coat, as two mothers practically run her over. "You could say excuse me!!" she yells at their backs, scowling. Seriously! Did they even look where they were going?! Her expression gentles as she looks down at the girl, whom she'll help back upright if Hotaru allows her to. "Hey there! Are you all--"

/Right,/ she's about to say, but she blinks in recognition. "Hey, aren't you..." She begins, then trails off. She never actually met Hotaru as Makoto; she only caught a glimpse of her at the Hikawa Shrine, sitting next to Chibiusa. Then again, that's enough, right? She recovers her smile and goes on, "Sorry, but are you friends with a girl name Chibiusa Tsukino?"

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

"Part of the key, when hunting during the day in crowded places, is to remain unobtrusive or out of sight. This is relatively easy when you get used to it; the entrances to Labyrinths will tend not to be in the open."

A beat, "One of you of course already knows this." A glance over her shoulder and a warm smile to Chika.

It's Saturday afternoon, after a half-day of school, and Mami Tomoe has taken the opportunity to take something she would ordinarily do anyway and make an event of it. It's normal for her to hunt around this time, albit much more quickly, in the same Ohtori High School uniform she's wearing now, an elegant black coat over it. Her shoes pad along the sidewalks, her white tights helping against the cold. Her hair is perfect, drills bouncing along behind her, as she is not the tallest member of this expedition. And she seems at ease, tough somewhat wary, gesturing with one of her hands held up to turn away from the alley and down another side-street. She looks at a golden gem mostly hidden in her palm, considering, until she looks up for signs of human passage.

There's something in this area she's hunting in that she'd like to go and see, though; something she can take the others to. But that comes later.

"Nori-chan, Fate-chan, Chika-chan, this isn't precisely part of my patrol, but--" She hears a amiliar voice, tilting her head, and turns to look at the group. "...How do you feel about flowers? I was patrolling here in particular because I want this event to be safe, but we happen to be here." And, Mami thinks, if that girl is here...

Mami Tomoe smiles, and starts to head out toward the street n which the shop rests, huge crowds and all, after a rounding of a corner.

It's also a slower pace than she'd usually hunt... But it has its advantages.

<Pose Tracker> Chika Aki [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Its not often Chika has been seen outside of the Tokyo Bay area, or Juuban Public Schools grounds. She isn't a recluse, but she tends to want a guide to be taken around new places! So it was a lovely thing to be invited out with Mami and some others. She is listening attentively to the lesson, her eyes flitting around even as she does.

She offers a soft smile, and a nod of affirmation when Mami mentions the tidbit about hidden Labyrinths. She has in her palm a cyan gem, although her fingers are wrapped around her cellphone. Its her usual way of concealing what she is doing.

Chika looks towards Nori and Fate first when Mami questions them about flowers, before her eyes turn to follow after her sempais towards the large crowded gathering. Her nose crinkles slightly, and she says softly.

"Its crowded there. Is something happening?"

It doesn't stop her from following on Mamis coattails, letting her take the lead through the crowd as the smaller girl slips in behind her. Chika was dressed in her usual Juuban uniform, with the addition of gloves, a warm jacket, and a tuque to ward off the cold.

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

Hotaru's 'oh!' of surprise as she impacts Makoto's arms is so tiny that it's not at all audible above the noise of the crowd, but it's communicated all the same by making a sweet little bud of her lips -- if that of a white rose, rather than a more typical pink.

At first her hair is all over her face, but she sweeps it back behind each ear with two brisk movements of someone for whom this is a routine problem. As she looks up at Makoto, there's a startling flash of ice cold violet -- but, voidlike or no, her eyes are also very gentle; endless space is endless absence... but it's also full of stars. Hotaru stares up at her savior like a Grecian at the foot of Hercules.

Gradually the statue softens, becoming flesh instead of marble, though still very cool to the touch. Makoto can recognize this as awkwardness and shock subsiding, though it also took a longer moment than might be typical for her to regain her breath. Armed with it, however, she's able to reply, in a sweeter voice than a mobile sticklike coathanger has any real right to own, "I-- I'm so sorry! Thank you for saving me."

She's always been a mannerly child. Finding her feet unsteadily, she lets go of Makoto with reluctance, and nods uneasily to answer the question, until with great speed she puts two and two together and gets four. "Ah~! You're one of the shrine maidens at Hikawa Shrine, are you not?"

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

Fate Testarossa was quite attentive, taking the lesson from Mami quite seriously. Given the half day she was dressed in her Infinity uniform, a brown coat with fluffy lining added to it, as well as yellow mittens, earmuffs and a clashing pink scarf. It's notable how much it does, but she's never without it during the winter. "Ah I see! It makes sense, since we wouldn't want to alarm anyone."

Fate was unused to being subtle, given her usual method of hunting hidden things being to conduct grand rituals and summon massive storms. Thus she's content to follow the older girl's lead in this. Following along with the group, sometimes her glance went to either of the other two girls as well. It felt a little strange, being the youngest in a group sometimes. Even if she was used to it, she wasn't quite used to feeling like she belonged here yet.

But then, Mami suggests flowers, "Eh?" Fate is still looking directly at Mami. She'd deferred to her all the while but on this she wonders, "Ah. Do you really think it'd be alright for us to patrol just here? I mean there could be..." And then she looks.

Which is when she's suddenly dazzled by floral bouquets which are all such splendid impressions. There's this tiny intake of breath, awe perhaps, as such thoughts suddenly spill out of her head. A tiny mittened hand raises and rubs against a cheek. "M-Maybe it'd be alright for a while."

She only wishes there was another girl with her here right now.

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

Nori Ankou says, in reply to Mami Tomoe, "I'm a little complicated about flowers lately..." But this is a joke at someone not present's expense, and she's smiling as she says it.

She is not done up quite as much as she usually is, but a Akamira casual coat is still pretty darn stylish; from afar it looks like an elegant kimono in a sort of sunsetty gradient, though closer up the illusion is less complete. (It has a fleece lining. It is /very/ comfortable.)

Her lantern is hidden inside of it and you can't even tell. Nori asks, as she reaches behind herself to toss her straight black hair back (some of it felt like it was getting a bit tangled), "What is the event, though, Mami-san?"

She gives Chika a rather leisurely smile, and then asks Fate, "It's alright; we're in her area, after all. I'm sure if we need to worry, she'll tip us off."

<Pose Tracker> Makoto Kino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Oh, wow. Makoto had obviously not gotten a good look when Hotaru had been in Chibiusa's company, since either they were over on the other side of the Shrine or they were in the middle of a battle, but she's *really* pale, isn't she? She looks like a porcelain doll... And what beautiful, unearthly purple eyes. For a split-second, Makoto's struck by the feeling like she might not even be human.

But that's silly, obviously. She's just a kid, awkward and maybe a little high-strung given how long it takes her to regain her breath, and her eyes are sweet and gentle as they are the endless violet of outer space. Plus she's Chibiusa's friend! That practically makes her Makoto's friend too. When Hotaru recovers, she does, too, the feeling already swept aside and forgotten.

"No problem--but you don't need to apologize! YOU didn't do anything wrong." She glares at the backs of those mothers, already lost in the crowd, to underscore this point. Then she grins back at Hotaru as she puts it together. "Aha, I knew it!" Makoto says cheerfully, winking at Hotaru. "That's right--although I was just helping out my friend Rei that day; she's an actual shrine maiden. Chibiusa-chan's the cousin of one of my best friends, who was also there helping out. I happened to spot the two of you hanging out together while we were all there on Coming of Age Day." Before Petz attacked and all hell broke loose, but shh. "I don't think we got the chance to meet, though," she adds. She offers a hand. "My name's Makoto Kino! What's yours?"

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

"Yes--or cause questions about the glowing gem in our hands," Mami answers Fate quickly, looking back over her shoulder to her, and then to Chika with her own Soul Gem ensuring that they won't miss anything.

Mami is used to being both very subtle and incredibly, obviously unsubtle by turns. Today is simple; it becomes clear in little ways how she doesn't second-guess herself in this, can casually explain why she does what she does and how. But...

"Haha," Mami answers Nori with a smile of her own. "We won't need to be long." Mami's coat is Akamira too, but not as flashy for the most part. There's room for her style as well.

"Yes," Mami agrees with Chika and explains to Nori, "There is. It's an event recreating Royal bouquets for the last fifty years. They should be absolutely beautiful."

A beat, "Don't worry, Fate-chan. This is only a break; we'll get to our patrol again afer we have a chance to look." A smile to Nori, "And yes, I'll tell you if I find anything strange. I did think I heard someone, though..." She steps up closer, and happens to approach Makoto and Hotaru both with her small group. She makes sure not to leave Chika behind, too.

Mami starts to speak up, but hears introductions starting, so she pauses, a hand up to indicate a warning not to step on Hotaru to her friends. Makoto gets a small, reserved smile, however, and so does Hotaru if she looks.

<Pose Tracker> Chika Aki [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Chikas coat is an off the thrift shelf sort of coat, nothing to write home about. Its probably a knock-off of one of Akamira's woefully underperforming competitors. Chika glances behind herself while following Mami to see if Nori and Fate are close by, returning the smile to Nori a tad bit shyly before she looks forwards again and keeps her eyes out, or down at her crystal.

"Oh." Chika says, the shorter girl kinda trying to peek up and around. She manages to catch a glimpse of one of the beautiful floral arrays, and her eyes widen a little. "... ooohh." She says softly. Chika would make it pretty hard to be left behind, she wasn't quite latched onto Mami but she was within arms reach in the crowded area. When a hand goes up to stop, she manages to stop without walking face-first into Mami, and she sidesteps a little to look curiously around her at Makota and Hotaru, then up to Mami who seems to know them.

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

There's a short bob of her head at Mami, "I understand." after she tears her eyes quickly away from the flowers within the display of the shop. Even crowded, it still held it's charm of her. She's just a couple steps behind Mami-

And then her pace starts to slow notably, as she catches sight of her through the throng of people. The other Chevaliers with her may notice it, or they may not.

Because she's stopped to stare with wide eyes, pupils dilating, her heart racing, at the sight of the girl in that green winter coat speaking to the other taller girl.

At first she has this look like a fawn caught in the headlights, frozen at the sight of her, a sudden frost that turned her veins to ice. And then a hand starts to shake, as she quickly clasps it in her other as if to try to steady each other through mutual support.

It's not long after that she takes a few steps quickly forward catching Mami's hand and quietly asks, pleadingly, "Can we go somewhere else?"

Mami can feel her hand shaking, as the girl's eyes dart to the dark haired girl. Then back at her, "Please."

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

"This is both the place and the time -- or nearly."

Setsuna Meioh frowns as she says it, doubt undercutting her usual smooth tones. Her painstaking research, months spent in the accumulation and careful examination of the subtle distortion of gravity wells light-years away, had led them to here and now... but the details of what to expect were as blurred as the entire bottom edge of her astronomical charts. Her careless abandonment of them in the lingering snow had seen to that.

And what did she have to show for it? The warm memory of a hug that she daren't even call up, in the here and now, lest it be sullied by the task at hand. She shakes her head and clears both her mind and her expression, the latter settling into cool impassivity.

She matches Haruka action for action, stepping up and out of the low-slung performance vehicle and letting the door click shut in her wake. Her outfit and stride are both brisk and businesslike, suited to the task at hand. She doesn't make idle chatter, has never been one for it and finds herself even less inclined in the present circumstances. What should she say? That she hopes it goes smoothly? That they need to be careful of the crowd? Such base tactical considerations don't need voicing between long-time comrades... and hope seems too bright a thing for today.

Instead she falls in beside her handsome compatriot. Together they stride, and though they are not there for attention, they draw it nonetheless in turned heads and whispers, both for their statuesque beauty and their implacable demeanors.

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

Nori will, no doubt, remember to push Akamira onto Chika later. But not right now. "Oh! Is it just English ones, or also other countries?" she answers Mami, looking ahead, and then she can see the bouquets...! She is deft enough to slide around others, although she has a slightly odd perfume on that might stand out to people, later.

Especially in a crowd. Nori draws in her arms to reduce the odds of bumps. Even so she comes up short against Fate, who is also halted, but significantly shorter. She blinks, looking at Mami and Chika (and the top of Fate's head) in momentary confusion, but doesn't speak further on the matter. Her shoulders lift and fall: It would be fine with her!

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Beauty https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xx178XZ7_gA

Hotaru is indeed just a totally normal girl, and like all such beings has no idea that her presence is making Fate Testarossa deeply disquieted. It's not like she's psychic or anything. And anyway, she's totally engrossed by her glamorous and beautiful savior right now.

"Ah," she stammers again, abruptly embarrassed that she didn't already introduce herself, though she doesn't freeze up completely. She seems shy, but not precisely afraid. Just... impracticed.

Taking Makoto's hand, her fingers feel like ice. It's not a strong impression though, because her grip has barely any pressure at all.

"I'm Hotaru Tomoe," she replies quietly but earnestly, and then -- somewhat unexpectedly, as such an expression is rare on a face as pale as hers -- beams. Soft lighting pops up. There's glitter everywhere. A chorus, even. The secret is that she's been seeing Makoto suffused with this glow since the moment they met. "Any friend of Chibi-Usa-chan is a friend of mine!"

The crowd is ebbing, a random flow that happens to leave the two girls almost alone on their part of the sidewalk. Unconsciously relieved that the claustrophobic pressure (and grave danger) of all those people has lightened, Hotaru's shoulders subtly relax.

<Pose Tracker> Makoto Kino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

For the record, Makoto has a long, brown Akamira jacket on over a pink blouse with white polka dots, a long dark green skirt, brown tights and matching winter boots. Mami and her group pass by closeby, and Makoto looks over at the lead girl. She recognizes her and gives her a brief smile back. They aren't exactly close, and even if they knew each other better transformed, right now Makoto is an ordinary girl having a conversation with her friend's cousin's friend. She looks back at Hotaru, shakes hands with her (*wow* that's a weak grip), and gazes at her in wonder when Hotaru beams. S-such a cute little girl...!! She can see why Chibiusa's friends with her. Who wouldn't want to be?

"Hotaru-chan, huh," she says, grinning again. "That's such a pretty name! Kind of cool and mysterious!" She pauses, glancing briefly again towards Mami Tomoe. Any relation, or no? (It's hard to know how a name is written when it's spoken aloud.) They don't look anything alike, though, and Mami seems to be here and moving right along with her own friends, so...

"Same here," she adds, looking back to Hotaru. "Were you here by yourself, or were you meeting up with Chibi-Usa-chan? If you want, I can help you get through the crowd." She frowns over at the throng, although at least around where they are, it's starting to thin out. "I didn't think it would be *this* crowded today! Though I guess it figures, huh?" She sighs dreamily, clasping her hands. "Who *wouldn't* want to see all those beautiful bouquets!"

For the time being, she doesn't notice the approach of certain handsome blonds or stately greenheads. She also doesn't notice Fate's distress upon seeing Hotaru.

<Pose Tracker> Haruka Tenoh [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Two Steps from Hell - Black Blade https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z28lwyQjuTY

A steady, obedient line of salarymen is entering the revolving door of an office building. Haruka strides into the line and plants her hand on the chest of the next man, stopping him in his tracks.

"Excuse me!" the gentleman snorts. But he's silenced by the sharp glance of dark sunglasses, by a hard jawline. Holding the revolving door still for Setsuna to enter, Haruka watches Hotaru for a final long moment, as the salaryman stares at him in disbelief. He then steps through himself, just as the glass panels blare a blinding purple light.

Staggering back and tripping in surprise, the salaryman drops his briefcase and sprawls, glasses askew, staring at the brilliant phenomenon. Scurrying up, he doubles back for his briefcase, but as a golden radiance joins the unworldly effect, he chooses discretion over valor and flees, as his other compatriots step back and murmur.

By the time Sailor Uranus steps back out onto the sidewalk, her comrade is already waiting. The commotion is fairly mild still, and hasn't reached the other side of the street by any means. Uranus narrows her hawk's eyes and steps astride, bracing herself.

"I see her," she tells Pluto. Finger stroking down through the air as she raises her wrist high, Uranus lets her hand lift high, then flip elegantly up and back over her wrist as yellow energy begins to gather. "She's with someone. It's--"

The birthday girl...

"...irrelevant," Uranus grates. She forces her eyes back to Hotaru's face. The glow of gathering aether on her palm is nothing like the glow of lamps at night. The crowd is thinning, and for a moment there is absolutely no one standing in the long diagonal between Sailor Uranus and Hotaru Tomoe.

"I have her," Uranus reports, dragging the twisting ball of yellow energy downwards, elbow down, bracing her bicep.

"Gaze..." she cries aloud, twisting her forearm away, then shoving her fist forward like a palm-strike. "TURBULENT!"

A cylinder of gold-glowing wind drives from Sailor Uranus's white glove, dust and leaves beneath it's past blasting up and away from the pressure as it heads directly towards the frail child at Makoto's side.

COMBAT: Haruka Tenoh transforms into Sailor Uranus!
COMBAT: Sailor Uranus has fully healed herself.
COMBAT: Sailor Uranus has used Gaze Turbulent on Hotaru Tomoe.
ALERT: You just attacked someone still in their Base Mode. If you didn't mean to, please use +cancel.
COMBAT: Sailor Uranus has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Chika Aki has fully healed herself.
COMBAT: Makoto Kino has fully healed herself.
COMBAT: Makoto Kino transforms into Sailor Jupiter!
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has fully healed herself.
COMBAT: Nori Ankou has fully healed herself.
COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter covers Hotaru Tomoe for Sailor Uranus's attack, Gaze Turbulent, taking it upon themselves instead!
COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter narrowly braces Sailor Uranus's Gaze Turbulent, taking 14 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Jupiter's Block ability activates!  Sailor Jupiter's Parry ability activates!  
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Jupiter [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Makoto may not notice the approach of certain handsome blonds or stately greenheads, but she sure as hell notices the approach of a hard-ass blond in a navy blue miniskirt. She turns, seeing a certain golden light, and her green eyes widen as--for seemingly no reason at all, in broad daylight, with a crowd of people around (even if there's no one currently between Uranus and Hotaru), Uranus just up and *attacks* a kid.

For a moment, Makoto and Hotaru are consumed in the light as the harsh winds close in.

Then, with a spray of lightning that erupts to the sound of words drowned out in the howling, Sailor Jupiter is there, legs wide, arms crossed in front of her, directly in between Hotaru and Uranus. The winds batter her, nearly bowl her down, but ultimately they break before she does, and Jupiter is left standing, tiara rod crackling with energy, expression nothing short of pissed.

There is no sign of Makoto. Perhaps Jupiter already got her to safety. Or perhaps...

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

There are worse things than being in arms' reach. Mami doesn't need the chance to reach out a hand for Chika, but she does maintain an awareness of the other girl in her space, adds to her little calculations to keep track of her.

"I'm not actually sure," Mami admits to Nori. "I haven't had the chance to come and look for myself. But I assume it's other countries as well."

But Fate understands, and Mami nods back in ackknowledgement, noting Fate's close presence, too. That's why she does notice when Fate starts to slow down, pausing onc he's called a stop and starting to turn back to Fate. "Fate-chan...?" Looking over her shoulder, she suddenly has two hands catching one of hers, and at that she feels the shaking, hears the pleading.

"Are you all right?" she asks, and turns to face her entirely. At that, the blonde thinks better of the question, bending her knees to get a better look at Fate before, "Yes, of course. We can leave immediately." What is Fate looking at...? It can't be that girl. It doesn't matter; Mami can ask hen there's a chance.

She hears her own name, but doesn't really stop to keep listening; instead she looks to the others, "Now you know it's here, hm?" She stars out, still holding ono Fate's hand, her own fingers curled around the younger girl's, until the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. She turns sharply and sucks in a breath quickly as she sees the yellow energy and the pressure it builds, straight for the dark-haired girl befor them. "Sorry, Fate-chan," she murmurs as she starts to move.Immediately her left ring finger glows, as her Soul Gem reappears, tossed over her head to shower her in flowery golden and yellow sparkles and transforming her from an ordinary girl into a Puella Magi.

As the spray of lightning presages Sailor Jupiter's appearance and defense, the co-leader of the Chevaliers steps out from behind her and, with a glare for Sailor Uranus, tugs a ribbon from her wrist and throws it out, where it grows great and golden and seeks to bind and tie the warrior before her.

She keeps walking out towards the street proper. "Chevaliers, it seems we found something."

COMBAT: Mami Tomoe transforms into Puella Mami!
COMBAT: Sailor Uranus has fully healed herself. She is now ready to take on 2 opponents!
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has used Legare on Sailor Uranus.
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Uranus narrowly braces Mami Tomoe's Legare, taking 5 Fatigue damage!  Tangle and Trap applied to Sailor Uranus!  

<Pose Tracker> Chika Aki [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Chika was attentively crowd-watching. Even so, she didn't even notice the Sailors shooting lightning at... the... other Sailor? Chika is left slightly confused by this, darn politics!

Her reaction when the atmosphere changes is to skittishly slide backwards from the fighting, her gaze searching out for a foe. Like, the kind she is used to. Something not human, something easily recognizeable as 'the thing' to hit. But that isn't what she has today. Its people just like her, fighting.

Mami pushes forwards, and Chika follows her initiative reflexively. Her cyan soul-gem is thrown over her head, the cascading lights vanishing Chika and leaving behind Puella Magi Chika.

Cyan skirt, matching leggings and ribbons, and her sleeves tied up to allow mobility. The most telling part of the Puella Magi is the large metal gauntlets and boots, way oversized for someone of her build but she moves like they aren't there.

Her voice is soft, as she follows after Mami with suspicious, untrusting eyes fired into the receding crowd. "W-who is this?" She sees Mami throw her ribbon forwards, but Chika is hesitant to lunge into the fray. "Whats going on?"

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

Hotaru doesn't even see it coming.

Her first awareness that something is wrong is a blast of wind that separates her from Makoto and slams her to the concrete, in a sprawl of too-thin limbs, dark hair, and that ridiculous coat. She doesn't rise immediately, or even look up, her hand clutching at her heart like a gigantic, spindly albino spider.

It's with lowered lashes that she sees the last of the golden light that would have spelled her death.

But she looks up, desperately, when more light follows, and the first thing she sees is a tough, tall, sailor-suited warrior, in awesome-looking boots and just radiating strength.

Also, she sees Sailor Uranus, and as her wide eyes gaze across the intervening space between them, they are guileless, afraid. Most of all they are pained.

She cringes on the ground, tears squeezing out of her eyes as they shut, and clutches her chest more desperately.

COMBAT: Nori Ankou transforms into La Sirene de Diamant!
COMBAT: Chika Aki transforms into Puella Magi Chika!
<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

'Gaze Turbulent?' Nori Ankou thinks, before she turns her head. Her eyes widen as she sees that burst of shocking light and wind snap ahead towards--!!

Nori Ankou ducks into her coat. She must be frightened. It helps that it's like something spills out of there, and it's hard to see her or exactly where she has gone. She's probably fleeing in the crowd as people scream.


The coat turns inside out and in the three-dimensional puddle of spilled and inverted light that la Sirene de Diamant had created, there is - anticlimax perhaps if you read the earlier part of this sentence, but she is there nonetheless. Her pale eyes shine as she walks forwards, surrounded by a shimmering aura of that strange blackness that isn't quite black. It flickers upwards, wispy and light.

She puts a hand on her hip, making the crystalline lantern at her hip sway on its silver rope-belt. "I'd ask... why did you do this," la Sirene says, "but I am... not so pleased..."

La Sirene's nose twitches just a bit. She can smell tears extremely well. It's a knack.

"In what you have chosen to do with your afternoon... Do you think you can just do whatever you want?!" she shouts, striding forwards, perhaps stupidly, to swing a hand towards the cheek of the Sailor of Elegance! Which is made particularly more remarkable, probably, by the glittering pyramid of diamonds on the back of her fingerless glove: they aren't that SHARP, but there's a little more than sheer dudgeon behind it.

"Some blooms should be left alone! Their lives are short enough!"

COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has used Rose and Camellia Art on Sailor Uranus.
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Uranus narrowly counters La Sirene de Diamant's Rose and Camellia Art, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  La Sirene de Diamant is Psyched!  Sailor Uranus's Tactician ability activates!  
COMBAT: Sailor Uranus's counterattack, Elegant Throw, partially gets through, doing 23 Fatigue damage to La Sirene de Diamant!  Critical Counterhit!  La Sirene de Diamant is Quipped!  
<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Meioh [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Haruka, bold as a bolt of lightning, brazens past salarymen and quiet Setsuna trails behind like a dark comet, long evergreen hair her flowing tail. She accepts the gallantly-held door with a small nod and returns the favor moments later in her full senshi regalia, purple light still dripping from the pleats of her skirt. The Garnet Rod is as tall as its mistress and its Orb gleams like her eyes, deeper than crimson and as unknowable as the age of the universe.

Sailor Pluto follows the gaze of her fellow soldier to the ghostly wisp of a girl. Their target, the thing that stands between them and the safety of the world. A schoolgirl, the same age as the little ones she so recently chaperoned in Hokkaido. She could easily be just a grade behind her own Small Lady.

Instead of Sailor Uranus's turbulent attack, Sailor Pluto hears the jangling of the keys at her belt -- normally harmonious, the ringing of centuries against each other, but now chiming sour notes. She closes garnet eyes for a moment and forces herself to hear only that.

When she opens her eyes again they are mournful. The choice has already been made, was made long ago, and will be made again. She will honor it and bear its weight, with her companions.

Pluto sees the oncoming magical girls, all righteous innocence in their furious assault, and ignores them. She has her target. If she can make this shot...

...if she can murder this innocent child...

...then what happens to Pluto herself, after, does not matter at all.

"Garnet Blast!"

There is something indescribably cold, like the void between planets, about the purple energy that crackles down the length of the Garnet Rod. Sailor Pluto snaps the Rod down and sights its length at the huddled form of Hotaru Tomoe. She watches as the eldritch swarm releases and flies toward its target -- her target -- and does not blink at the moment of impact. She forces herself to see only that.

COMBAT: Setsuna Meioh transforms into Sailor Pluto!
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has fully healed herself.
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has fully healed herself. She is now ready to take on 2 opponents!
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has used Garnet Blast on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has used Outervention on Sailor Uranus.
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Chika Aki covers Hotaru Tomoe for Sailor Pluto's attack, Garnet Blast, taking it upon themselves instead!
COMBAT: Chika Aki narrowly counters Sailor Pluto's Garnet Blast, taking 5 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Pluto is Psyched!  
COMBAT: Chika Aki's counterattack, Water Dome, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Sailor Pluto!  
COMBAT: Sailor Uranus accepts Sailor Pluto's Outervention, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Cleanse! All of Sailor Uranus's debuffs are cleared!  
<Pose Tracker> Chika Aki [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Chika was standing near Mami, eyes narrowed and worriedly watching the crowd. She saw Hotaru near the defending Sailor Jupiter, her eyes lighting on the young girl crumpled on the ground, grasping at her chest.

Her eyes soften, her heart breaking a little bit seeing the pain and fear in her face. Indecisive Chika may be about getting involved, she couldn't live with herself if she didn't help someone in need. She had ample time to see Sailor Pluto lining up her shot, and Chika was already in motion. Her gauntletted metal hands clap together with an audible clang, and liquid begins to coalesce around her hands. She skids along the pavement to stop in between Pluto and Hotaru, each metal boot firmly rooted into the ground in front of her charge.

Her hands pass through the air in front of her as that water that had formed remains behind, forming a barrier that Chika stands behind. as the beam of purple energy slams into the shield Chika extends her hands towards it, the water forming a tangible barrier that holds back the worst of the storm before it shatters back into the Puella Magi like rain, the purple energy rippling along her gloves and down her body into the stone. It leaves her grimacing, but still appearing largely unharmed as she eyes Sailor Pluto.

"Leave her /alone!/"

The word alone is emphasized with one of Chikas hands forming a fist, and then coming up to 'throw' at Sailor Pluto. And what flies from her hand is a long stream of water with all the force of a firehouse, aiming to buffet the Sailor scout as Chika remains planted defensively in front of Hotaru, trying to limit their ability to target the younger girl... While also limiting her own ability to /dodge/.

COMBAT: Chika Aki has used Water Blast on Sailor Pluto.
COMBAT: Chika Aki has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto narrowly braces Chika Aki's Water Blast, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Pluto's Block ability activates!  Sailor Pluto's Parry ability activates! 

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

Noone knows why Fate Testarossa is afraid. She's not even alone, but she feels isolated by the knowledge of what she felt in Hotaru. What happened between them. How can she explain? How can she possibly even begin to?

Her lips work as Mami questions. Her eyes dart to Hotaru, acting /so normal/ and she remembers how she acted so normal then too. Until- something took over.

And then she gives her head a little shake, looking decidedly pale, "No." A beat, "I'm not alright at all..." Thankfully Mami seems to agree, and while relieved as she takes her hand, that ice hasn't ungripped her heart. "Just.. we need to go. We need to go right now."

And yet, as the crowd ebbs. She finds something entering prominently into the corner of her vision. Uranus is far too imposing for the perceptive girl to miss it, even in the glow of lamps. The golden light gathers in the Senshi of the Sky's hand and- she's too gripped with fear to react immediately as the Senshi calls down death upon that frail girl. Which is when Pluto aims more doom at her, and through her trepidation, Fate realizes what is possibly going on here and she blurts out, "You can't!"

But Sailor Jupiter stands so tall, does what's right in that moment, as does Chika in the moment that follows. Their example causes that fear to be swiftly replaced by the shame that she didn't act as they did.

She's scared of that girl. Terrified out of her mind over what she felt.

And yet that girl has more of a right to life than she does.

Her action is never really in question, as adrenaline steadies her arm quickly enough to pull out a golden triangle, "Bardiche Assaulto - Set Up!" <Get Set - Drive Ignition.>

A helix of gold erupts around her, arcs of lightning descending to illuminate her form. They've barely struck when a streak of gold flashes out of it, armored in pitch, crimson, and silver. An poleaxe of his namesake, carved out of sleek obsidian in her hands. "Load Cartridge!" <Cartridge Load.> It's hard to see it in the frenetic rush at her target, but a plate slides down near the poleaxe head, a revolver cylinder rotates once, before the plate slams back into place.

Which is when she's suffused in more gold mana than before, veritably boiling off of her, as the poleaxe is grasped in both arms, the girl turns one revolution in her relentless advance before she slashes it across the Guardian of Time. An explosion like the thunder of some celestial storm. In the wake of the explosion. "Auxiliary Mage of the Tuners, acting on behalf of the Chevaliers - Fate Testarossa."

She announces herself as she floats in mid-air. the smoke clearing to reveal a badge pinned to her barrier jacket. "I think I know why you feel you have to attack Hotaru like this." She points the poleaxe at her, "But I won't allow it. If you press further, I'll answer your challenge with all of my strength."

COMBAT: Fate Testarossa transforms into Barrier Jacket Assault!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has used Thunderous Clash on Sailor Pluto.
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto narrowly dodges Fate Testarossa's Thunderous Clash, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Fate Testarossa is Psyched!  
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Jupiter [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Everything happens all at once. Not only Uranus but Pluto attacks, and several other magical girls appear to attack them and help defend Hotaru. Jupiter, for her part, isn't able to stop Hotaru from getting knocked to the sidewalk, but she *does* keep her from getting killed, and that's the important thing here. She looks over her shoulder at her. "Are you all right?!" she barks. With the arrival of Sailor Pluto, Jupiter doesn't know whether she ought to tell Hotaru to get out of here or to stay behind her, especially since she has no idea why Uranus or Pluto would up and attack a helpless girl completely unprovoked--though at the same time, even if she knew the reason, if there even *is* a reason beyond that they're just plain heartless and evil, it still wouldn't be good enough for Jupiter.

"Thanks for the help," she says to Chika with a smile and a nod--the others are busy attacking Uranus and Pluto, so her thanks to *them* will have to wait for later. For now, she turns a molten glare back at Uranus then. Jupiter has no words for someone who would do what she and Pluto just tried to do--which means there's nothing to do but fight.

She raises her right arm, and lightning materializes over her palm. "Jupiter..." she calls, gripping it hard; the bolt solidifies, and its energy crackling around her knuckles, the Soldier of Protection *hurls* it at Uranus like a javelin. "Thunderbolt!!"

COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter has used Jupiter Thunderbolt on Sailor Uranus.
COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Uranus narrowly dodges Sailor Jupiter's Jupiter Thunderbolt, taking 18 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Uranus's Flash ability activates!  
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Uranus [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Hate Not the Wind, Spring Blossoms https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1uR_kzQyVY

The jet of empowered air hoses across Sailor Jupiter for grueling long seconds, but when it's over, Hotaru is alive, and that is what counts. To both Jupiter and Uranus, that is.

Slowly lowering her palm with an icy anger in her eyes, Uranus stares down Jupiter. "And where exactly..." With a short indrawn breath, she realizes. The birthday girl...

"I hope you've been training," Uranus tells the senshi with an enigmatic smirk."

Uranus's head snaps up as Mami Tomoe enters the fray, as do her crossed arms. They stay crossed, however, as ribbon winds about them and her body. "Tomoe," she says. "You'll want to stay out of this one. In fact, if you do, I'll forget about all the others." The Garnet Rod rips the ribbons, and Uranus throws her arms to the sides, letting their bright yellow lengths flutter aside harmlessly.

La Sirene approaches next, and Uranus starts stalking towards her--or rather, towards Hotaru behind her. It would not be like Haruka Tenoh to refuse a slap she deserved, and this one surely /is/ deserved, in the final accounting. But Sailor Uranus has no time for it, not with her objective slipping away into this unexpected mess.

Catching La Sirene's wrist, then her elbow, Uranus twists into her, a powerful hip sweeping under La Sirene's center of balance. She swings La Sirene like a pickaxe as she whirls through the throw, slamming her upside-down into the window of a parked car. Pebbles of broken glass spatter the ground, and with a gentler shove, Uranus pushes La Sirene's stomach to get her into the car. "Fight seriously," she spits. As she turns, she adds, more distantly. "If she is petals, then I am wind."

Storming into a run, Uranus continues towards Hotaru. This will be all the harder if she has to do it with her bare hands, but that won't make her hesitate. A sparking jag of lightning, though, just might.

Uranus is as fleet as the wind, though not quite as fleet as light. She practically jets to the side to evade the blast, taking it to her bicep instead of the well-deserved chest hit Jupiter had lined up. It burns there with a spray of sparks, and she covers the wound without glancing at it, her eyes seeking Hotaru instead. "Damn it. Pluto! You were right about what you saw." There are so many who would block her path. Shaking her head, Uranus changes direction, heading instead for Chika. She's upon the girl in an instant, leading with a long-jump into a knee to the gut, following it up by bringing both fists down in a hammer to the back.

"I don't know your face," she grunts, driving forward with deep sweeping combos with fist and shin. "But if I have to pile your corpse on top of that child's, I won't shed a tear. Do you have that sort of conviction?"

"Pluto!" she calls as she works into a combination on Chika. "I'll handle as many as I can. KILL HER!"

COMBAT: Sailor Uranus has used Don't Get In My Way on Chika Aki.
COMBAT: Sailor Uranus has used Acts with Elegance on Sailor Uranus.
COMBAT: Sailor Uranus has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Uranus accepts Sailor Uranus's Acts with Elegance, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Empower and Surge applied to Sailor Uranus!  
COMBAT: Chika Aki narrowly counters Sailor Uranus's Don't Get In My Way, taking 12 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Chika Aki is Quipped!  Stagger and Tangle applied to Chika Aki!  
COMBAT: Chika Aki's counterattack, MegaFist, partially gets through, doing 18 Fatigue damage to Sailor Uranus!  
<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mami has become quite familiar with the Garnet Blast, remembering a Christmas when she fought Sailor Pluto just recently. It's beyond sour notes to her; this... This is bad. And Mami can see her carefully leveraged ribbons cut to nothing.

Mami's eyes dart to Hotaru again, her heart catching as the notiing stopped her moving in time, but Chika's already moving; Mami watches her defend, watches her call back, watches her /fight/. She turns immediately back to Sailor Uranus again, lets out a breath, "Good work, Chika-chan."

Fate's golden aura warms her as well, and Mami hear her introduction. Is she really all right now? ...No, she probably isn't, given how pale she was. Mami looks on her with concern, but has time for it only briefly; if she can catch her eyes she nods sharply. "Pluto likes to get in close!"

A breath as Mami steps forward, "Uranus," Mami calls, "/Will/ I want to step aside? I think you'll have to be more convincing than that." Her voice is cold, distant, sharp. She looks around just in case for teal, before setting her stance. By now there's been time for the crowd to get out of the way.

Which is important.

"La Sirene, don't underestimate her! I've fought her before. Chika... She's actually fighting. "Good luck."

Mami jumps upward suddenly, springing to the rooftop as a pinwheel of rifles bursts into being before her. She grabs one out of the air as she lands and fires with a golden retort, spins for another, another, leaping onward as if dancing on air to find her angle, all against Sailor Uranus. "I'm not alone this time!"

COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has used Tiro Flourish on Sailor Uranus.
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Uranus perfectly braces Mami Tomoe's Tiro Flourish, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Brace!  
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.


Hotaru's heart is pounding fit to burst.

Sailor Pluto makes the scene, and conjures a power that stuns her with its mysterious familiarity. She knows it almost as well as she knows herself.

She doesn't know herself at all.


Groaning, she makes it up as far as her knees, looking desperately at Chika with an expression so terrified that it's ugly, almost sightless, gruesomely strange, excruciatingly human. She only recognizes the Puella Magi as a defender once she commands an attacker to leave her alone -- everything is moving so quickly that anyone, everyone could be a threat. It would take all of her concentration right now to control her breathing. Identifying friend vs. foe is very nearly too much to ask.


Paradoxically, the look in her eye when she sees /Fate/ hardly seems human at all. For a long moment, as the Midchildan blows past her, their eyes meet, and whatever determination and altruism fuels the partner of Bardiche, it is matched only by a raw, primal hunger in the one she's putting herself on the line to save.


The moment passes, and Hotaru, sweat beading at her temples, tears tracking her cheeks, gasps for air.

At first she's unable to summon the words to answer Sailor Jupiter, but she certainly doesn't /look/ okay. She's still clutching her heart, as though the sad little pressure of her little hand is all that is keeping it in her chest.


And a Sailor Senshi is calling for her death, proclaiming her necessary execution first as metaphor and then as utterly brutal literality. Both are awful, clamoring upon her ears, and she lacks the focus and time to decide which is worse. It doesn't matter anyway. They both ring with the terrible timbre of truth, and that's the most awful thing of all.


Uranus runs towards her, and she only has a few seconds left. At least there's one thing she can do, /must/ do -- somehow she manages to squeak out a whispered plea to the Soldier of Protection, wrung from the needs of that same, soft heart, rather than the misery racking the rest of her body and spirit:


That takes all the breath she has, and the little girl sinks back down, knees limp.

She cowers, hands over her face.

Blossoms wait to fall.

Hotaru waits to die.

<Pose Tracker> Chika Aki [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Chika nods her head emphatically to Sailor Jupiter. "Welcome." She says, looking over her shoulder at Hotaru. She tries to be reassuring, but Chika is scared herself. She can't spend more then a moment to check on her before her attention goes back to Pluto and Uranus.

She watches the approach of Uranus, the warnings cast to her sempai. Chika looks to Mami, nodding her head quickly, then back towards the freight-train of a Sailor Scout heading her way that dumps La Sirene into a car, then tries to close to Hotaru. Chika makes it clear she isn't going to let that happen, positoning herself and bringing her metal hands up in front of her defensively.

The knee to the gut is met with a taut stomach, braced for the impact. The hit brings a gasping 'oof' from Chikas mouth, but it halted Uranus' momentum. Chikas hand was already coming back by the time the hammer fist is starting to come down, and thats when her surprise comes in. The gauntlet on her hand goes from being comically oversized for her arm to being comically oversized /period/. Sailor Uranus catches a fist the size of a trashcan, followed by another as Chika trades blows in a calculated, defensive way.

She doesn't answer the words, trying not to focus on the barbs. Chikas breath hitches at the casual way in which Sailor Uranus speaks of killing her. Does she have that conviction? Her shoulders droop, and she briefly backs off once the pair seperate. Her eyes flit over to Mami, then back towards Uranus as she steels herself.

"We'll find out." 
Hopefully, the steel of her fists has more strength to it then her warbling voice. But the flutter in her stomach and the worrying ferret in her mind don't stop her fists from flying out in a dizzying flashy cascade of punches, trying to wear Sailor Uranus down, and keep her preoccupied.
COMBAT: Chika Aki has used Metal Blitz Combo! on Sailor Uranus.
COMBAT: Chika Aki has finished attacking.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Pluto [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

The moment of impact comes quite a bit sooner than expected as Chika's liquid defense intervenes, diffusing Pluto's blast a safe distance from its cowering target. Pluto doesn't evince any surprise or dismay; her face is stone, cold and hard. The return volley sprays forth and Sailor Pluto crouches, setting the heel of one boot against an uneven ridge between pavement blocks and one shoulder forward. Thus coiled she endures the firehose assault, doing her best to scan left and right between gouts of water. There were other magical girls inbound...

Her tireless vigilance is rewarded when she spots flaring golden brilliance -- inbound indeed, with weapon arcing downward. Sailor Pluto uncoils in an instant and thundrous mana chases her, singing the backs of her legs as she leaps forward and away. Her glorious tail of evergreen hair is now plastered ungracefully across her back and arms, tendrils flat and coiling after enduring the sustained pressure of gallons upon gallons of Chika-summoned water.

Buffeted and a bit bruised, perhaps, but the Guardian of Time is still quite whole, and wholly undeterred. She lands with light feet and turns to face the blonde girl with the dangerously explosive bardiche, inclining her chin to acknowledge the introduction. She doesn't show any sign of her internal dismay at the age of her opponent. It shouldn't matter; she came here to kill a child, she already agreed to this. But it does, somehow.

"I am Sailor Pluto, Guardian of Time and keeper of the Garnet Orb. For the sake of the universe, I command you step aside!" That Orb gleams, held high as Sailor Pluto lifts the Garnet Rod in one gloved fist, and envelops the senshi in its red glow. "We will allow NOTHING to stand in our way, and you will call it a mercy when all is said and done."

The unearthly senshi stares down Fate with nothing but resolve in her eyes. She begins to run, and the Garnet Rod whirrrrrs end over end, twirled between two hands that weave swiftly and surely. Like clockwork.

The urgent cry of her fellow soldier spurs Sailor Pluto on, and she ducks past Fate to barrel onward. Tall and strong and fiercely protective, Sailor Jupiter stands between Pluto and her target. She does not slow, just springs into the air. Her heels lead the way as she closes the gap, hoping to use her momentum as an aid to bowling over this impressive pillar of a senshi.

COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has used Pendulum Blitz on Fate Testarossa.
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has used Sailor Pluto Kick on Sailor Jupiter.
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa narrowly braces Sailor Pluto's Pendulum Blitz, taking 5 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Pluto is Psyched!  Fate Testarossa's Block ability activates!  Fate Testarossa's Parry ability activates!  
COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter perfectly counters Sailor Pluto's Sailor Pluto Kick, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Counter!  Sailor Jupiter's Reverse ability activates!  Sailor Jupiter's Tactician ability activates!  
COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter's counterattack, Melee Skirmish, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Sailor Pluto!  
COMBAT: Sailor Uranus has adjusted her boss levels. She is now ready to take on 3 opponents!
<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Ah, she's met Mami, la Sirene thinks - but they have a history? She doesn't have time to glance or worry about it. Because she's being taken for a ride.

La Sirene flies - she's struck against the windshield of a car, to her great surprise, eyes going wide as she looks at Uranus. She didn't expect her to move so fast, so sleekly - and then she's shoved in the stomach and pushed into the driver's side AND passenger's side seats simultaneously.

It moves so fast - she's being left behind. Struggling there for a moment, la Sirene exhales with enough force to puff out her cheeks. She raises herself up in the passenger's side seat, sliding a hand forwards and sending tendrils of that darkling unlight into the wall of the car. Soon enough the door pops open and she crawls out, landing on the heels of her hands and executing a forward roll that doesn't disrupt the pleat of her skirts before she's back on her feet, just in time to hear -


That woman! The same one from the earlier confrontation. La Sirene's eyes widen yet again before she throws out a hand. Where Mami is pinning Sailor Uranus down underneath a barrage of musket fire, la Sirene acts with a different angle. That light around her seems to pour down into the ground, into the cracks of pavement and flooring alike.

Chika is confronting her but la Sirene feels an obscure duty here. Both to the innocent - but that, while true and deep, is abstract. But there is another, deeper duty to her: Two of those fighting with her are burning a candle that won't burn forever, not unless they can find the prey that Kyouko Sakura cultivates, like fatted grubs!

La Sirene de Diamant is of course an unlimited source of power. (Citation needed.)

"Fate-san, you're so glamourous like this!" she calls to the /other/ person who isn't on the Witch Die, and she throws up her hand. "I hope we don't clash!" Clash? Perhaps aesthetically. La Sirene's attack towards Sailor Uranus comes in the form of a shrieking rise of those poured-out streams of light, forming threads, ribbons, a spiralling network resembling the skeleton of a sponge from around those elegant feet.

Then they collapse inwards, possibly snaring her. Their touch is cold and alien, and also, of course, it is a net. "Hah~!" Some cubes of shattered glass fall from her hair. Fortunately, her gloves prevented really nagging scrapes.

COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has used Weavery of the Abyss on Sailor Uranus.
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Uranus perfectly dodges La Sirene de Diamant's Weavery of the Abyss, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Sailor Uranus's Flash ability activates!  
COMBAT: Sailor Uranus narrowly braces Chika Aki's Metal Blitz Combo!, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Jupiter [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Jupiter's dangerously narrowed eyes don't falter when Uranus stares back. Training? What's she talking about? Whatever, doesn't matter! Mami's help with wrapping up Uranus is appreciated but unfortunately doesn't last, thanks to Pluto. Uranus starts sprinting towards Hotaru and her protectors--but at the last second, she opts not to try for another attack, but to take on Chika directly and telling Pluto to handle the rest. Chika seems like she can handle herself, though, so Jupiter chooses to trust her to protect herself *and* Hotaru.

Most heartbreakingly of all, Hotaru, who is very obviously NOT okay as Jupiter can see the instant the words out of her mouth, only whispers to Jupiter to help Makoto before she passes out. A soft anguish passes her expression, before it sets into determination. "Kino-san's already okay," Jupiter promises Hotaru with the absolute certainty of someone who knows she's right. "I won't let them hurt you, I promise, so stay behind me, Hotaru-chan!"

Pluto commands Jupiter to step aside, claiming she'd call it a mercy once it's over, and that really only makes her angrier. It doesn't help that Fate, despite stepping in in Hotaru's defense, implies that there might be something to what they're doing, which makes no sense to Jupiter whatsoever. "What is WRONG with you people?!" she roars at Pluto and Uranus. "You're attacking an /innocent girl/!! How can you get up in the morning and look at yourselves in the mirror?! Are you just THAT evil?!"

Rhetorical question, in her mind. Obviously they are if this is what they're doing.

As much as Jupiter would REALLY REALLY like to kick Uranus's ass, Pluto's the one coming in for the attempted kill, and like hell Jupiter's letting that happen on her watch. It honestly chills her to think of what might have happened if she hadn't happened to be here today. At least Mami and her friends were here too, but there was that one moment... Still, there's no time to think of what-ifs. It's not how it actually happened in reality, and in reality, Pluto is attempting to kick her right out of the way. Jupiter waits until the last second; then she sweeps to one side, grabbing Pluto by the calf, and swings her around and *hurls* her away. Pluto is probably at *least* badass enough to recover in midair, but that won't stop Jupiter from twirling into an attack on her own. Not a physical one--she won't let herself get baited away from Hotaru--but she twirls until flower petals materialize around her in an enormous billowing wave.

"Flower..." she shouts, then snaps to an abrupt halt, arms held out at either side of her. The petals storm forward, seeking to cling and slice to Pluto wherever they can reach the Soldier of Time. "Hurricane!!"

COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter has used Flower Hurricane on Sailor Pluto.
COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto fails to dodge Sailor Jupiter's Flower Hurricane, taking 25 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Sailor Jupiter is Psyched!  Blind and Cripple applied to Sailor Pluto!  
<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

There's that moment when her eyes met Hotaru's, and that stab of fear strikes deeper than ever.

...morrrrre... Mmmm

She remembers the girl licking her lips, as if satisfied from a meal.

Her resolve quavers, in memory. Is it her imagination, or is Bardiche doing so too? Pistons rise from the top of her poleaxe as Mami warns her, "That's fine." The poleaxe she brings back up into a two handed grip, the sound of leather tightening, "I prefer to fight up close anyhow." Uranus calls out for Pluto to kill her and, "I won't let that happen."

And yet as Pluto announces herself in reply, commanding her to step aside, she wonders if she's capable of stopping her after all. It didn't matter, she had to be. "Sailor Pluto. There's no mercy in allowing that girl to die- no matter what you think she might do! If you try to deny her the right to live- I'll stand in your way every time!"

Pluto charges- and the girl meets her- flourishing her poleaxe device in an end over end way way that seems almost more theatrical to onlookers, and yet it bears well-honed technique behind her.

It's a fortunate thing too, because Pluto is meeting her with all of her resolve. The Garnet rod clashes against the beard of the axe shape that Bardiche was in, and for a time, it's all she can do to shift him just so in order to intercept each strike of the Senshi's rush. The last of which clips a twintail which is billowing in the air, sliding past her guard and- <DEFENSER PLUS!>

A yellow barrier sparks to life as it meets the final strike, before Fate is knocked aside by the blow, floating end over end in mid-air, before she rights herself with a twist, cape swirling in her wake.

Nori's comment is somewhat confusing to her, she'd never been called glamorous, and as for clashing she understand less that Nori might be talking about style. "I'd never want to fight a fellow Chevalier La Sirene!" Unless it's training. She'd make an exception for that.

Twisting around, she starts a desperate rush at Pluto in mid-air, trying to keep her from getting at Hotaru, hoping to use Jupiter's stand against her for an opportunity to strike. <Haken Form> The axe blade slides upwards, then retracts into itself until it becomes a thin crescent. A jagged hook blade of yellow mana erupts, lining the crescent.

Coming at her flanks- <Haken Slash> The blade carves in a wide arc, seeking out a gap in Pluto's guard even as the other Senshi's rose petals linger in the air. "Sailor Jupiter. I hope you don't mind the assistance." Part of her wonders if Jupiter would mind even now, after all... she remembers attacking that Senshi, and her others in the past. And Jupiter was pretty mad right now.

COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has used Haken Slash on Sailor Pluto.
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto narrowly braces Fate Testarossa's Haken Slash, taking 5 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Pluto's Block ability activates!  Sailor Pluto's Parry ability activates!  
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Uranus [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Nanafushi https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLldAZBJHAc

Mami's demand briefly punctures through to that 'other' Uranus, and she manages a distant smirk, even now. She turns it halfway towards Mami. "Only one woman gets to tell me what I /have/ to do," she says. "And you're cute, but she's cuter."

The ferocity of her fistfight with Chika is bruising, and Uranus has a smile for that girl as well: a feral one. "You have a strong style. Linear. Not at all bad. Huuf." Uranus takes that giant fist to the stomach, returns another blow, and gets another across the face. "Give me a second..."

Rocketing her boot far above her head, Uranus slams an axe kick down into a manhole cover, sending it spinning upwards like a flipped coin. Snatching it from the air with both hands, she blocks Mami's barrage, shifting the shield rapidly to catch each pinging shot. It's supersonic ammunition, so she knows she can't listen for the shot, but she CAN watch for the muzzle flash, which she does with quick glances, backpedalling to buy a few seconds away from Chika. When Mami exhausts her current supply of muskets, Uranus tucks the manhole cover against her forearm and slings herself through three elegant, powerful rotations, hurling it like an oversized discus. The metal disk thrums loudly as it speeds towards Mami.

There's no time to do anything but suck in a gasp of air, as a new sort of ribbon is racing towards her, liquid clear streams forcing her to dodge this way and that, though they do temporarily keep Chika at bay. They are so easy to evade that Uranus feels a sudden, instinctive burst of fear: a trap. She doesn't so much as glance to confirm it; she runs up the hood of another parked car and leaps straight up. The "sponge" collapses where she was standing, forming a sort of dense cage, and Uranus comes back down through it with a sharp kick, smashing its filaments aside as she breaks through to the ground.

Chika drives through what's left of the trap, her huge metal fists shattering it apart entirely as Uranus blocks her blows narrowly, the wear on her forearms starting to affect her ability to parry. Sidestepping, Uranus maneuvers until Chika is between her and La Sirene, then lifts her hand to the heavens again. "Gaze... TURBULENT!" she says, invoking the power of air again and blasting the same fire-hose like beam of energy and air at Chika. But she's not aiming at Chika at all, but rather the elegant girl behind Chika...

Hoping her attacks have delated Mami and La Sirene long enough, Uranus lets out a short martial "Huup!" and charges Chika directly, trying to get through the last line of defense between her and Hotaru. Forcing her way in close whenever Chika and her huge fists try to make distance, she works her elbows high at Chika's face and chest, and her knees low at Chika's thighs and sides. "Just fall down," she demands. "Those who are unwilling to kill should never raise their hands in combat."

COMBAT: Sailor Uranus has used Field, as in 'Track and' on Mami Tomoe.
COMBAT: Sailor Uranus has used Gaze Turbulent on La Sirene de Diamant.
COMBAT: Sailor Uranus has used Karate: Eight Limbs on Chika Aki.
COMBAT: Sailor Uranus has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Chika Aki narrowly braces Sailor Uranus's Karate: Eight Limbs, taking 12 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe narrowly dodges Sailor Uranus's Field, as in 'Track and', taking 24 Fatigue damage!  Mami Tomoe's Fade ability activates!  Mami Tomoe's Flash ability activates!  
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant narrowly counters Sailor Uranus's Gaze Turbulent, taking 54 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  La Sirene de Diamant's Reverse ability activates!  La Sirene de Diamant's Tactician ability activates!  
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant's counterattack, Les Mysteres, partially gets through, doing 9 Fatigue damage to Sailor Uranus!  

[OOC] La Sirene de Diamant says, "moral victory"

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

Mami watches the smirk, lifts an eyebrow. She maintains that look as Uranus mentions the one woman who can tell her what she has to do, a face and form springing immediately to mind, but her breath catches in an effort not to react to what Uranus says after that. Accordingly she maintains a certain dignity despite the sudden color in her cheeks. "You can't even take murder seriously," Mami retorts quickly and disapprovingly, forcing herself not to look away.

But once she's in the air, Mami spots the broad strokes Chika fights, her breath catching for a moment as Chika keeps going--and then backs away for a half-moment.

It's inevitable, in its way. And when it's not, well... Mami prefers not to dwell.

There's much she could try to say to Sailor Pluto, but as she hits the ground, she knows she's chosen her opponent for now, and can't stop what she's doing. Fate and Jupiter can defend Hotaru directly. If Uranus gets past them...

Mami's shooting, and then she's done with her firearms, her shots pouring deep imprints into the manhole cover and no imprints into Sailor Uranus. Her teeth set, and she looks to where she's going to be... Just as the metal disk thunks through the air at her. She stares at it, twists around in the air... and still gets hit, just in a way she can avoid too much raw injury from. Nevertheless it shoves her further up into the air until she hits a taller building, slamming into it with a cloud of dust and rubble and being left to try to catch her breath and get back out. It takes her a moment; Uranus has definitely delayed her long enough.

But Mami kicks off nd leaps back down to a building below, leaping off of /that/ and rolling onto the ground with her hands out. Even as Uranus strikes at Chika, Mami judges where the younger girl is likely to be next--

A semicircle of rifles bursts with golden light into existence around Sailor Uranus, as Mami herself half-closes an eye to aim each at once and--fires.


COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has used Tiro Circle on Sailor Uranus.
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Uranus narrowly dodges Mami Tomoe's Tiro Circle, taking 26 Fatigue damage!  Mami Tomoe is Psyched!  Sailor Uranus's Flash ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Chika Aki [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Its a difficult thing, staying in position. Sailor Uranus is a dynamic adversary, and she moves to evade and attack. Chikas positioning doesn't allow her much freedom of movement, she makes sure she is a direct wall of flesh and steel preventing Uranus' access to Hotaru.

Her focused cyan eyes match the glowing crystal on her chest, struck through with tendrils of black that have grown since the fight started. Chikas face has beads of sweat on it running down to her collar. Her metal fleet clang and click as she shuffles in time with Saulor Uranus' motions.

There is a moment of clear surprise when Uranus starts to block bullets, before that manhole cover is flung off at Mami. Chika doesn't track it long enough to see its impact, not wanting to give Uranus an opening. The blast of energy past her has her flinch but she doesn't shy far enough away to be out of position. As she punches her way through the missed trap, she tries to bear down on Uranus' defenses, but its not enough before they switch trends and now its Chika on the backfoot.

She excells at protecting her head and upper body. Its strikingly easily when all she needs to do is bring both forearms up, and suddenly there is a barrier of solid metal between her soft parts and her adversary. Unfortunately, she is not so much used to someone throwing knees and kicks. As the blows land and bruise her legs, her teeth grit and she tries to bring knees up in rhythm with Sailor Uranus' attacks, but its a style of fighting the Witch-Hunter just isn't accustomed too.

She weathers the storm of blows, refusing to back up to Hotaru as she holds the line despite the bruising to her legs and the strikes to her already sore stomach. Her hands spread away from her head, uncovering more of a target but also opening up her vision as she shifts her stance, readying herself to better try to defend herself.

"Not to bad... yourself..." She pants out. Its a feeble effort at bravado. Chika has about as much skill at trash-talking as she does at protecting her legs.

"Shouldn't raise my fists?"

She slides back when Mami starts to shoot, and holds her hands up, palms flat outwards towards Sailor Uranus.


A veritable storm of water forms from her hands, firing outwards towards her adversary in a dizzying barrage of compact, dense strikes. Chikas legs are planted, but in the midst of the barrage she shifts slightly, a little off-balance as she expends energy into the attack.

COMBAT: Chika Aki has used Water Barrage on Sailor Uranus.
COMBAT: Chika Aki has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Uranus narrowly braces Chika Aki's Water Barrage, taking 8 Fatigue damage!  
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Pluto [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Alley... OOP! Sailor Pluto tends to see things coming; it's sort of what she does. She definitely did NOT see this coming. Jupiter grabs her by the leg and hefts her to the side, utterly diverting all that precious momentum. She at least lives up to expectations, twisting as she hurtles, and she's already facing Sailor Jupiter by the time she nimbly rejoins the ground.

Pluto tries to keep a watchful eye on the green-clad senshi, but her attention is focused on the fragile, ailing child beyond. There's something wrong with her, something... else...

Flower petals storm around her, a fretful and fine-edged maelstrom that obscures everything else. Endless thin incisions crosshatch Pluto's limbs; some slice across her forehead, and another nicks her ear, as Sailor Jupiter expresses her fury with strength and delicacy in equal measure. Petals adhere, pink on slick red, making a macabre bouquet out of the senshi. She staggers in place, then regains herself.

Once again Sailor Pluto just barely catches the flash of brilliant gold in time to deflect Fate Testarossa's assault. She's gritting her teeth, now, as she swings the Garnet Rod up to turn aside the wicked axe blade. The clanging impact rattles her shoulders in their sockets, and she slides back half a step.

If the Guardian of Time was an imposing sight before, she is a vision of grim determination now as she locks her knees and stares down both Fate and Jupiter over the horizontal haft of the Garnet Rod. "I cannot explain and you would not understand. If we must go through every last one of you, we will!"

She makes good on her words, charging once more. Jupiter first -- she's too effective a barrier with her strength and training, and too dangerous up close. Even on the run, Sailor Pluto can still sling a bolt of pure energy with the best of them. "Garnet Blast!" She can't stop to see if it works, just barrels onward toward the diminutive Fate. Pluto takes aim for the back of her knees with the lower haft of the Garnet Rod, striking with a snake's quickness to topple rather than kill.

Her dark hope is that these attacks will buy her just enough leeway that she can continue past unhindered and end the defenseless waif beyond.

COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has used Garnet Blast on Sailor Jupiter.
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has used Aoristic Fulcrum on Fate Testarossa.
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa perfectly dodges Sailor Pluto's Aoristic Fulcrum, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Critical Dodge!  Fate Testarossa's Fade ability activates!  Fate Testarossa's Flash ability activates!  
COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter narrowly braces Sailor Pluto's Garnet Blast, taking 12 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Pluto is Psyched!  Sailor Jupiter's Block ability activates!  Sailor Jupiter's Parry ability activates!  
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> The Isle of the Dead https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbbtmskCRUY

Hotaru has been waiting to die for almost as long as she can remember, and she is well-practiced at it. Still, it's just a bit different when it's rushing headlong at her, rather than a lingering, coiling inevitability. She's spent a long time staring the latter in the face, but faced with the former, she's hiding her own.

Hands over her eyes, she can't see Chika and Uranus exchanging punches, but she can feel the air displaced by fists both large and small, and by La Sirene's unlight streamers, their cold and silence again stirring something deep within her, an echo of recognition. None of them (punches and beams alike) come close to her, but her hair ruffles anyway, and her skin tingles, because fighting that fierce leaves marks at a distance.

She can't see Mami's bullets, either, but she can hear them. Sadly they are not loud enough to drown out Sailor Pluto's declaration that her death is for the sake of the universe -- though that's vaguely appealing, in its way, compared to a pointless, empty death alone in her room -- and that it's a mercy.

She hears Fate deny that, and if her head was merely swimming, rather than drowning, in all this sensation, she might weigh their arguments against each other, consider the philosophies behind them. She might think long and deeply about Uranus' assertion about combat and killing, too.

Instead she struggles to breathe.

Chika is a bulwark on one side, and Sailor Jupiter stands sentinel on the other, and the rasp in her chest, the knife in her lung, both twists and eases at the same time when she hears that Chibi-Usa's friend is safe.

She could be crying for help, or for her Papa, or for Fate's more traditional definition of mercy, but instead she cries with relief. "...I'm glad..." she breathes, she weeps, somehow, barely.

Her brilliantly violet eyes reappear between her fingers, as they widen, separating from shutters to Venetian blinds.

Confirmation bias taints her gaze. Uranus and Pluto might see an unearthly detachment that belongs nowhere near this beautiful world. Chika and Jupiter might see the hollow distance of an innocent child too fearful to see clearly.

Hotaru sees a kaleidoscope swirl of magic and girls. Hotaru sees a cornucopia of potential. Hotaru sees a field to reap.

Hotaru sways.

Hotaru's fingers snap together again, and her shoulders shake.

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

"Of course not!" la Sirene answers Fate, but she has no time to speak further than that.

When she sees Uranus snap up that manhole cover and start blocking the shots from Mami's barrage with it, la Sirene wonders if this is an entire level beyond her - but she has to have limits, she thinks further, her eyes narrowing. If she didn't, she would have made that shot - or done another - no!

She hurls that disk at Mami. The smashed filaments of crystallized unlight fly off, evaporating but not quickly. Fortunately this light, though it never warms, also never really keeps sharp edges. "Hnf -" And then she says the wind's name and sends it flying.

La Sirene's left hand comes up, index and pinky held up as she says, crooking up her right arm, "Les Mysteres, come!!" And then the battle is joined, the burst of exuberant silver light smashing right into that wind AND GETTING TORN APART, the dense knotwork of curvilinear forms and veves sectioning out like an orange or a eyeball under the horrible casual FORCE of Sailor Uranus's blast! What prevails forwards seems like a cross-marked crosshatched gravestone, solitary and faded as it struggles again.

La Sirene du Diamant is not in the mood to give up. The emanation fades out as la Sirene ends up landing on her palms, gasping for breath. Her back shivers. Her lantern sways, as if threatening to hit the pavement. She falls to one knee too.

Crawling forwards, she answers Uranus, even if she wasn't addressed. "Perhaps that is what they teach you in your realm. I studied elsewhere."

Then she falls forwards. Anticlimax again.

No it isn't. Drawing from some cthonic knowledge, she spreads out her arms, hooking them in underneath her armpits. She has faith enough in Mami, in Fate, in Chika that they would give her the key second she needs to follow this instinct without having her head stomped in by Sailor Uranus.

The inverse light bubbles up beneath her and /buoys her upwards/. La Sirene has no eagerness to stand up on it, given the sense of having been shredded by those winds, but this great mass of luminosity spreads out beneath her and she ends off sliding off the back just as it rolls forwards, ablating with glorious sparkles in colors that shouldn't exist even as it pours its way towards Uranus.

Hopefully it is big and fat enough that it will not be immune to simple blasting, la Sirene... 'thinks' is generous; 'hopes' is more accurate.

COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has used The Greeting of La Balene on Sailor Uranus.
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Uranus narrowly braces La Sirene de Diamant's The Greeting of La Balene, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  La Sirene de Diamant is Psyched!  
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Jupiter [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

"Long as you're not here to murder kids, I'll take all the help you'll give!" Jupiter growls to Fate. She remembers seeing her at the Chevaliers meeting, and although she's not super-aware of what happened in the past, she knows that Fate repented the wrongdoing she did in the past, so she's willing to let bygones be bygones, especially at a turbulent time like this.

At this point, Jupiter keeps her eyes forward, on Uranus and Pluto; knowing Hotaru's at her back, suffering, is all the more reason to concentrate on the enemy, to make sure that she remains a barricade against their attacks. Pluto shoots a Garnet Blast at her, and Jupiter holds her ground, coughing hard against the injurious impact. Her entire body tingles where it struck, but she's far from down for the count. Not when someone's counting on her.

"Then shut up and stop making your excuses, 'cuz you're not touching this girl without getting through ME first!!" Jupiter snaps at Pluto. While those petals are still covering her enemy, Jupiter crosses her arms, index and pinky fingers out, as lightning crashes down from above and then encircles her, directed by the rod in her tiara.

"SUPREME..." she calls. Thrusting her arms out towards Pluto, the multiple thunderbolts weave together and hurtle towards her before she can make it all the way towards Hotaru--and hopefully drive her further back. "THUNDER!!"

COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter has used Supreme Thunder! on Sailor Pluto.
COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto narrowly braces Sailor Jupiter's Supreme Thunder!, taking 16 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Pluto's Block ability activates!  Sailor Pluto's Parry ability activates!  
<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpu-KCI5yKE

Fate hears Jupiter's growl, and almost reflexively she flinched but, it contrasts what she said. She's just grateful for the opportunity, "Then I'll support you as best as I can."

There's only one conclusion Fate can make about Sailor Pluto, as she manages to deflect her strike, and the girl floats back a few paces, hovering over the pavement. "You and your Garnet Rod are strong foes to contend with." Wait did she address her rod?

"You say that like I wouldn't understand. But I do! I felt what was inside of her! She attacked Bardiche and I!"

But Pluto is on the move, and Fate moves towards her, however she's kind of afraid of getting in Jupiter's way, so she stops short at first, as Pluto tries to pass her by, firing that blast.

Fate is known for her speed, but the Guardian of Time makes it to her with time to spare, and as the Garnet Rod takes aim for the back of her knees, she bends over backwards, as if it were aimed high instead- but she turns over in mid-air, like a wheel on a fulcrum, Pluto's strike just missing her knees to scrape against her stockings as her legs swee upwards, and back around in a near full revolution.

But she feels the crackle of electricity in the air as Jupiter summons it. The small girl whips up and to the side rather than making the full rotation- cape flourishing in a display of her aerial maneuverability, as she tries to get some distance away from the heavenly strike of the Senshi of Thunder and Courage.

Panting from effort, she tries to follow up on that, she spins the hooked polearm over her head and- <Haken Saber> The crescent head detaches, spinning at the veteran Senshi like a boomerang of lightning, attempting to drive against her and her guard before- "Saber Explode."

Crackling with arcs of electricity, the energy blade detonates in a second thunderous boom, that resounds throughout Shibuya.

COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has used Haken Saber on Sailor Pluto.
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto narrowly braces Fate Testarossa's Haken Saber, taking 18 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Pluto's Block ability activates!  Sailor Pluto's Parry ability activates!  
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Pluto [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Her efforts were almost enough to get her past Fate and Jupiter... but then the interwoven knot of thunderbolts slams into Pluto and blows her sideways with a mountainous crash, completely obliterating all of her progress and temporarily deafening her to boot. Sailor Pluto is peeling herself off the bolt-blackened pavement when she sees the incoming axe blade.

No time to dodge and, if she must be entirely truthful with herself, not enough spring in her step either. She flings a shock-twitchy arm up, Rod gripped with white knuckles beneath her white glove, and feels the *CLANG* of impact all the way down to the bottoms of her feet. It resonates in her bones, twists her wrist cruelly, and batters yet more tiredness into her frame. Pluto looks up through limp bangs for her sister in battle and finds Uranus even more pressed, on even more sides, although you'd never know it for the fierce battlejoy lighting her face.

There are too many of their foes and too few of them, at least in the here and now. Uncustomary frustration boils over, aimed inward, as Sailor Pluto recalls the soaked and blurring outer edge of the gravity well she'd spent hundreds of hours plotting. They could have adjusted for this, had they known. It is her fault they didn't.

Maybe she's responsible for the outcome of this battle, but Pluto refuses to lose them the war as well. Pride has never been among Sailor Pluto's failings, and so she spares Uranus hers by being the one to sound the retreat.

"Uranus! We must go!" Pluto throws as much force as she can into her voice, to cut through both the clamor of the battlefield and Uranus's own preoccupation with the battle. "If we fall here, we might lose all. Another day!"

Electrocution does funny things to one's control over one's limbs, and it takes Sailor Pluto a couple of teeth-gritted attempts to get a good stumbling start. Once her legs start working, though, she's off and running with more speed than anyone could have predicted, given her injuries. Red-spotted pink petals flutter after her, dislodged by her flight.

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

Sailor Uranus is gasping at this point; no amount of cardiovascular training (and almost no supernatural empowerment) is enough to prevent that in hard combat, much less hard combat against three skilled foes. Frowning at Chika as her mind works rapidly to try to predict the next attack, Uranus throws an arm across her face and tucks her chin, using her free arm to protect herself. The blast strikes her dead-on, driving her back in a toppling rush that very nearly knocks her flat. But after a half dozen strides, a hard boot clacks into the pavement and grinds her to a halt, and Uranus endures the pelting sting of the aquatic blast.

"Ghhr... didn't think... you were my type," she quips dryly, though her uniform is anything but. "Seems like I was wrong..."

A bruised Uranus stumbles forward when the blast ends, right into a ring of muskets. A humorless, barking laugh of disbelief leaves her throat, and then they all begin to go off together. Lunging around in the ring avails Uranus little, the bullets skidding across her and sometimes impacting directly. Scorch-marked and yet dripping, Uranus begins to stride towards Chika once more, only for La Sirene's torrent of luminosity to hit her between the shoulderblades, propelling her diagonally away from Chika, who must sidestep if she wants to keep Hotaru behind her.

Spinning with the impact and bracing her shoulder into it, then lunges into it, as if shoving it away. "I could pile you all on the scale," she pants. Stretching her fingers, she reforms them into fists, her eyes falling on Hotaru directly for a brief moment (Chika may soon interrupt it). "Every single one of you. Everyone on this block. Everyone in this whole city. And you wouldn't be heavy enough. Her." Uranus's head shakes faintly at Hotaru. "She is heavier."

Her eyes clench closed a moment at Pluto's cry. A part of her expected it, because a part of her knows Pluto is right. They will be borne down here, and then Neptune will be the only one left to complete the mission.

"If it came to that..." Uranus whispers. "But until then."

Stepping backwards slowly, Uranus glares at Chika. "Tomoe," she calls, keeping eye contact with the metal-fisted boxer. "Keep your kouhai away from me. You wouldn't want to run out."

Turning shoulder, Uranus glares a moment at La Sirene as well, then chuffs, bounding off after Sailor Pluto.

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

This girl... attacked Fate? Mami hears it across the battlefield, but it's a piece of information that can only be lodged in her awareness, not acted on or really even considered very much. If Fate nevertheless fights for her...

Well, Mami has a lot to deal with already. Here on the ground, it should be harder to take aim at her from a distance, should offer her better cover.

But she does hope the others are well. She can only track those with her.

Doing that, la Sirene's strange power is more familiar to her now. ...Well, sort of; it's changed, to be sure, but parts--definitely parts. One ally. Chika working hard with punches and then her water magic, still alive even now. Another ally.

"You will have to!" Mami answers Sailor Pluto from her position some distance away, raising her voice without looking at her fully. Whether or not she likes Sailor Pluto, this is too much to allow.

But her attack goes off, and Uranus is caught amidst her guns, then amidst La Sirene's light, and already Chika's water. But it's her words that impact Mami as she moves, as Mami herself shifts around to get a better firing angle, running sideways. And what she says....

"What is so important about this girl..?"

But there's Pluto's voice. Pluto calls for something that could well be wise, though Mami has been unwilling to think in terms of advantage too much. She goes, and Uranus speaks up, addressing her. She narrows her eyes at her--

And then she stares for a moment, eyes wide as if struck.

'You wouldn't want to run out.'

"You..." It stings, it takes the wind out of her... And it very neatly kills her pursuit. Mami instead stands and watches Uranus go. She doesn't offer anything back. She only dimly remembers herself enough to say, "Don't chase after them."

But her voice sounds more distant than before, and her eyes stare after.

<Pose Tracker> Chika Aki [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Chika hears it from Pluto first. 'We must go!'. And the immediate thought that comes to her mind is oh thank god, because Chika didn't know how many more clashes she could handle against Uranus until it was a one sided exchange.

Also... her... type? What? Chika blinks a few times, then realizes it must be clever mind games. Right? Yes. Totally clever mind games, that must be it. It is easier to rationalize it that way. She swallows when Uranus swings wide and strides towards her after the barrage of musket fire... and then again, after the torrent of light. Chika is always there, ready to be the wall of Puella Magi between the meleeist and Hotaru. Until her dreams come true.

Sailor Uranus delivers her message of the weight of Hotaru, and then the kouhai comment, and that has Chika's eyes narrowing. She even steals a quick glance back at Hotaru, then to Mami, before refocusing on the threat. Well, the /present/ threat. Who knows what Hotaru might be. And she didn't know what to make of that Kouhai comment, other then their must be history between her sempai and Uranus. The glare from Uranus, fortunately she can weather easier then the punches.

There is zero effort from Chika to chase after them. Indeed, when Pluto and Uranus begin to escape she drops her fists to her hips, relaxing finally as her sore body protests against what she has done to it. Less the beating, and more the exhaustion... Although the beating was still worth protesting. She raises a hand slightly when Mami calls not to go after them. Oh yeah. Chika was 100% behind that.

She turns, and moves towards Hotaru before starting to hunker down. That effort turns into falling onto her knees, and she stays there. Its sort of impossible for her to offer any kind of comforting touch. Steel gauntlets can only impart so much comfort, so she relies on her words. Her voice is soft, pained, and oh so tired. But she tries.

"Hey. They are leaving. You'll be okay now, we are here for you, okay?"

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

Wait--did Fate say that Hotaru *attacked* her? That's enough to startle Jupiter into blinking over at her wide-eyed. Is it possible that there *is* more to this than the Outers being awful human beings??

Even if that's so, though, she's not about to back down even so. Plus, if Fate defends Hotaru even so, it couldn't have been all that bad. Probably was just a big misunderstanding! All that complicated stuff can get sorted out later. If Hotaru gets murdered here... none of what anyone else has to say will matter. Perhaps her determination, and that of Chika, Mami, Sirene, and Fate, gets across, because Pluto sounds the retreat and Uranus follows.

"AND STAY OUT!!" Jupiter roars at their banks, hands curled into fists. Still, with or without Mami's reminder, she doesn't try to pursue them, though she does keep glaring for a moment longer. Instead, she turns around and hurries over to Hotaru's side. If need be, she'll even lift her up as easily and gently as if lifting a curtain drape--though not if Hotaru struggles or protests. Otherwise, she'll give her some space while still kneeling down next to her.

Jupiter nods at Chika's reassurances, to agree and say she's here for her too. "Is there a place you want us to take you, or someone you want to call to pick you up? I'll stay with you either way until you're safe," she adds. Hotaru really does look sick, on top of that... No wonder, since two strangers literally just tried to murder her for no reason, but is she sick on top of that? It *is* the season for colds, and she did seem to take a moment to recover from getting knocked into earlier...

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

"I felt what was inside of her! She attacked Bardiche and I!"

"Every single one of you. Everyone on this block. Everyone in this whole city. And you wouldn't be heavy enough. Her. She is heavier."

"What is so important about this girl..?"

"You'll be okay now."

"You're safe."

Condemnation -- question -- release. Each sentence shudders through the girl at the crux of this fight, and leaves emptiness behind.

But Hotaru feels heavy, and she feels black, though not black like a blackout. This exhaustion is purer than that peculiar, terrible feeling.

Not on her very best day does she feel important, though. And despite the better efforts of her unexpected champions, she is certainly not okay. It isn't their fault. She wasn't okay long before Uranus and Pluto came to call.

Darkness rises to meet her, and she falls into it willingly. It is safer than the voices, without and within. It is a welcome respite from a reality where her unwelcome nature has never been made more manifest.

In Jupiter's arms, she looks smaller than ever, a porcelain doll. There is a brief and horrid moment where her swoon can be mistaken for, somehow, someway, the victory of the Outer Senshi -- but no, her chest is moving, if very shallowly, and so silent in the aftermath of her seizure -- was it a seizure? -- that the absence of the rasp is jarring.

Of her every action today, her silence is the most terrifying.

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

Uranus comment strikes her momentarily speechless before - She remembers how a few girls gambled on the fate of a whole dimension- by refusing to let her just be killed. Maybe she didn't feel like her life was worth that gamble, but she's so glad that a few were willing to take it nevertheless.

It's uncertain what the outcome might have been had Pluto and Uranus not decided to retreat for now. Despite having so many here, the two had fended them off skillfully- with such power and experience behind them. Whether they could overcome them or not is very much in doubt. For a time, she considers pursuit, in fact she lurches forward initially- but then she stops short considering it. In times like this she might ask Mami instead but-

She knows right now that pursuit unless they're all in consensus is a futile effort. And Mami is standing still. Eventually she floats down to the ground. Bardiche chimes, <Assault Form> And it shifts once again back into it's obsidian poleaxe of its namesake. And yet- she makes no move to put him away, just in case. Maybe Pluto and Uranus are trying to lull them into letting their guard down before they come back.

Slowly she walks towards the others who are gathered around Hotaru, but she's keeping her distance more than the rest. Even when Hotaru falls heavy into the darkness within- Fate sucks in a deep breath, remembering- remembering- a seizure. Her crying for help-

Slowly, almost imperceptibly, she shifts Bardiche away, holding him between both hands like a precious thing she's afraid of losing.

But she doesn't say anything further. How do you explain to a bunch of Magical Girls that she felt a darkness as deep as Queen Beryl's within this girl? Would it even be believed? Even the admission is shame, shame for having once knelt in Beryl's court in D-Point. But it's not her shame that halts her tongue.

It's the idea that if the others know, they might test the ideals of the Chevaliers to the limit. One of them might decide just as Uranus, or Pluto did.

And she's not taking that chance on Hotaru's life.

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

Hotaru attacked Fate? The thought percolates through to la Sirene, but then Uranus glares at her for a moment. With her heavily lined, nearly-white eyes, the experience may be strange for Uranus; it is strange too for la Sirene, almost electric.

Not in a good way.

Mami speaks and says not to pursue. La Sirene seems content to obey this, but that tone - she steps up towards Mami then, saying to her softly, "Hey - Mami-san - hey, please, look my way, it's alright. Everybody is alright..."

She wishes Batiste were here, with a deep pang she does not often interrogate.

"We won't let you down," she says.

Is this the worst thing to say or the best? La Sirene doesn't know, but it is, in either case, heartfelt.