2017-06-10 - What Lies Beneath 3

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Title: What Lies Beneath 3
A year after the plum pox purge that decimated the trees at Jindai, it's time to replant. Restoration efforts are disrupted by Dark Fall's Karehaan, who's determined to find the Fountain of the Sun at any costs. In the middle of the fight, however, collateral damage reveals a mysterious (and mystically powerful) complex of tunnels beneath the botanical gardens. Afterwards, the chief botanist, Kaoruko Hanasaki, invites everyone to further discussions of what they saw.

Eri Shimanouchi, Saki Hyuuga, Yumi Ohzora, Takeo Akamizu, Mai Mishou, Fuu Hououji, Makoto Kino, Kuniko Saito GM: Hotaru Tomoe


Jindai Botanical Garden

OOC - IC Date:

06-10-2016 - 01-25-2015

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Main Theme (Whisper of the Heart) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEupRDloZLY


Protesters storm the construction fences surrounding the legendary and beautiful plum orchard at Jindai Botanical Garden. The tree disease festering within is fatal, however, and the trees must be destroyed for the safety of all the others in Tokyo.

A mysterious mist fills the area, putting construction workers to sleep, creating a labyrinthine realm for those who venture within. There's a spirit present, ancient and powerful, diseased and grief-stricken. Ugly, but not evil.

Sometimes, nature is just sad.


It's Sunday, and also the Sumo Championship, but that isn't on until later so socially conscious or otherwise gardening-oriented youngsters have responded in droves to the summons issued by Jindai Botanical Gardens: other parks from around the country -- what's starting to feel like every other park -- donated a young tree from their own plum groves, and, having arrived, need to be replanted. In this way, the demolished orchard can be revived... thanks to the strength and generosity of all the others.

It isn't raining or snowing, but it is dismally chilly, oppressively gray. Despite that, it isn't unpleasant to be here; there are canopies over tea carafes for break time, and the actual physical labor isn't hard, especially with many hands making light work. The process goes something like this:

  • Kids with shovels dig deeply into fresh, rich soil. A good task for strong children.
  • Kids with buckets of fertilizer prepare the ground for a tree; not too little, not too much. A good task for detail-oriented children.
  • Kids bring over one of the bagged trees (at their tallest, they're five feet, and most are quite a bit smaller) and carefully lower it into place. A good task for children with gentle hands.
  • Everyone pats down soil around the tree, settling it into its new home.

There are thousands of trees to plant, but hundreds of children (and various adult overseers, most notably the head of the botanical gardens, a well-bundled-up Kaoruko Hanasaki) are up to the task. Spirits are high; many groups sing their school song, or other silly nursery rhymes, as they plant their tree.

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

Sometimes nature is just sad.

Sometimes there's just a small girl, shriveled up from the inside out by illness. Sometimes there's just a grief stricken nature spirit.

And sometimes there's renewal and new life. Like today- where that sadness feels more distant. Part of her wonders where the Rune Maiden planted that Plum Pit after all.

Her group just changed their song mid-planting. She helped heft and set a sapling tree into a prepared hole as she started to idly sing it.

/o~ "To- to- ro~ Totoro-"

As the older- and thus taller girls in the bunch hold it up straight. The younger start patting the soil. Once it's patted down a bit and the tree isn't likely to fall, she drops to her knees and pats it down with her gloves.

/o~ "-To- to- ro~ Totoro."

Right now she's in jeans and a zipped up grey jacket, gloves on her hands, a straw hat with a cord under her chin. Some of youngest of the littles are humming along but don't know the lyrics beyond Totoro. So she tries to help lead in their stead. She's not a great singer. If anything she's just one step removed from terrible, but the work has her in a good mood and so at the very least it's cheerful.

/o~ "Who leaves the seeds,

/o~ For you to find?

/o~ Follow them and you will see,

/o~ a treasure there."

All together they go get another bagged tree as the others dig the hole, hefting it together as a team who may not know each other, but are all united in the solidarity of making this place beautiful and green once more.

/o~ "Then plant the seeds,

/o~ and help them grow!

/o~ It may seem like a dream,

/o~ things are not what they seem."

<Pose Tracker> Saki Hyuuga [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

Saki Hyuuga has come, bundled up in her favorite green-yellow winter coat against the cold. She is excited for several reasons; she gets to enjoy PHYSICAL EXERTION with her MIGHTY ARMS; she gets to help renew a damaged spot of natural beauty; she gets to be around a bunch of excited, happy people; and she gets to be around Mai Mishou for the whole day!!

That last one is something she does a lot anyway, mind you.

Saki drives her shovel deep into the next spot picked out for digging, and with a "HUP!" pulls a clod of earth free. The song a few spots over has her smiling, despite herself.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

It's hard work for Yumi, but she's here anyway. That year ago, she wasn't, wrapped up in her own life far from thinking of the trees beyond a little bit, as she saw the protests on the news. But this year is different. Maybe she shouldn't be...

But partly for the cat sneaking around the work area, she wants to help. Partly for the cat, and partly for a story she knows, and partly because it's so amazing to see all these donated trees. How can so many people give like this?

It's nice.

Yumi is dressed for the chill though, in thick leggings in bright yellow-green tucked down into her boots, in a brown skirt and a white top underneath a baggy pink sweater... and gloves, for the work part. She still shivers a bit against the cold. But it doesn't feel as chilly when they're all working together.

"I ah, can't really shovel..." she admitted after some apprehension when they were handling tasks, though she could help with the rest. She's got a very good eye for detail. And her hands are careful, but she's not always very steady.

Regardless, now her group is there, and she uses her long arms to get in there handling the soil, looking intently down before she flickers her eyes up back at the tree, the light filtering through her glasses. Soon this tree is in the ground--

Yumi huffs, and smiles. "O-One more!" On their way to the next, she tilts her head and waves back over at Yumi. ...Green eyes glint as a black cat watches all of the efforts from a relatively hidden spot.

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

Takeo is there more as moral support than actual planting duty, though he does do heavy lifting if asked. He is in his racing jacket, and a pair of jeans, a red pair of gloves rucked into his back pocket. Just incase. He leans against a small fence and smiles as Eri sings the song. He doesn't comment on it, just smiles encouragingly.

He runs his hand through his hair, and looks to the sky. He watches the clouds and and smiles faintly. He lifts the mug he brought with him. It is a monster of a thing, red plastic, with a snug fit top and a giant straw. He takes a sip form that straw and offers the mug to Eri. "Mt. Dew?"

<Pose Tracker> Mai Mishou [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

Mai Mishou is here, of course, with her friend.

She isn't helping dig a hole. She isn't frail, but being slight of build, she doesn't quite have the strength to dig holes as well as Saki. But, as always, they work as a team. In this case, she is preparing a tree for planting. Ostensibly.


She doesn't even hear that. Instead, Mai is sitting in front of the tree -- the bag taken off, and the dirt packed around its roots glistening -- and has her sketchpad out. She sketches madly, eyes locked onto the tree and nothing else. Much less on Saki (for once).

"So you might say that Mishou-san has really put Hyuuga-san's planting efforts in park? Eh? Ehhhhh, Manabu-san?"

"I think we should turn a new leaf in this partnership."

Nor do puns from a fledgling Manzai duo break her from her reverie.

She is dressed for the cool -- a violet jacket, over blue jeans, and gloves that have been pried off. Her fingers might be cold, but this lets her sketch even better.

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

As much as the destruction of the plum orchard upset Fuu at the time, she's made her way out to assist in replanting the new orchard, mostly because she really wants to see the orchard exist again.

She's been focusing on fertilizer for a large part, measuring it out and helping to prepare the ground; in between buckets, she's also been trying to help make sure there's plenty of tea (although most likely the adults are taking care of that). She actually finds herself humming along quietly with Eri's song, although Fuu isn't confident enough in her voice to sing openly.

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

Makoto is definitely looking forward to the Sumo Championship--but even more than that, she's excited for the chance to help restore the plum orchard after all its beautiful trees were cut down to prevent the spread of a terrible disease. She has a thick jacket on, along with thick gloves, jeans, and a T-shirt she doesn't mind getting dirty, and naturally her hair is tied up as always. It might be chilly out, but that's not enough to dampen her spirits, particularly since she's been digging holes a'plenty--it's a good task for strong children, after all! ...although with her (hopefully) entering high school in the spring, Makoto doesn't (like to) think of herself as a child. Despite this, she still hums along to My Neighbor Totoro as she hears it sung nearby.

The manzai duo punning does make her grimace, though. Minako would be howling if she were here--or trying to one-up them. Makoto's not sure which would be worse.

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

There's a moment during the song when Eri's eyes fall upon Fuu in the other group while she was lifting. Humming the song.

For the briefest of moments she locks eyes with her, and walks onward- finishing the song with the rest of the group.

After the next tree was nestled in to the ground properly, she rubs an arm across her forehead, under the brim of her hat to wipe away the sweat, walking past Yumi, she puts her hands at the small of her back and leans over, "Someone is working hard." She doesn't mention the fact that Yumi just got discharged from the hospital. She doesn't feel like she'd appreciate it. "Glad you came to pitch in Yumi-chan. I'm going to go grab a drink- want anything?"

She snrks at the Manzai duo as she walks past shortly after- a smile as she watches the girl sketching so intently.

As she walks by the fence on the way to her bag and Takeo offers her the mug, she- arches this eyebrow and shakes him off, grabbing a bottle of water, "You'll never hydrate properly drinking that after hard work..." She unscrews the cap and takes a swig and upon lowering- "...that's not all you drink during kendo practice right?"

There's a glance towards Makoto Kino. Being one of the tallest girls here she tends to stand out. She closes her eyes after a moment and, just starts to drink more water.

Kuniko Saito arrives from Chofu Suburban District.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Yumi isn't avoiding Makoto Kino exactly, but she is averting her gaze sometimes. Mostly she's able to focus instead on her work. Mostly. The music is nice; it brings back memories of middle school, is warm that way.

The Manzai duo gets almost a facepalm until Yumi sees a dirt-covered glove coming up to her face and throws it back down hard enough to bounce against the dirt.


It's nice that someone's drawing, though.

With the next tree about done too, Yumi sees Eri in her peripheral vision beore there's a hand on her. "Ah--" Yumi dips her head and smiles shyly. "Doing what I can. Thanks--oh and um, sure. Just some water?"

As Eri walks past, Yumi finally lets herself glance over at Makoto again. "Maybe I should've..." She glances at Mai with the sketchbook, and shakes her head. "Hey I'll be right back, okay? I need a drink. But we're doing great, right?"

She moves over towards Eri.

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

"During Kendo Practice?" Takeo asks with an arched eyebrow of his own. "I only drink Mt. Dew. It is an elixir from the gods gifted to us mortals after the creation of Bacon, to help wash it down and guide us in late night study sessions." He shrugs a shoulder. "You know. For those that study. I haven't quite figured out why anybody would waste valuable video game or sleeping time."

He gestures to another large bag of fertilizer. "Need me to move that for you?" Then he looks to Eri, "Also, what happened here? I came here a few times a few years ago with Mika-chan and everything looked good. I miss something?" His looks asks the silent question of: Did I miss something evil?

<Pose Tracker> Kuniko Saito [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Kuniko Saito has come here to look over the efforts of the Culinary Program's junior members. Sixth graders fresh out of high school but fascinated by cooking, there are not a ton of them but they are precious. Kuniko is holding a flag on PVC tubing with a black star on a blue ribbon and wearing a colorful keffeyeh while making noise (and pitching in, and keeping Haruta from wandering off with a spade, as those things could do some damage).

"What are we planting!" Kuniko declares.

"Plums," the young people chorus.

"When are we going to eat them?"


"Why is fruit important?"


"Because it's delicious!" Kuniko helps.

"I think plums taste funny," says Haruta, even as he spades open a chunk of earth.

A girl with pigtails informs him, "That's cuz you only eat umeboshis."

"Pickling is kind of magical," says a third child, carrying a sheaf of seedlings over a broad shoulder. He's not bigger than Kuniko, but he's bigger than all the others. "Don't you think?"

"I guess." "Sorta!" "IT SURE IS." Guess which one of those was Kuniko? (it was the last one)

<Pose Tracker> Saki Hyuuga [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

Saki hefts another clod of dirt to her growing small pile, and--

oh no

She turns to find Kenta and Miyasako standing by, fully armed and operational. Her lips turn into en entirely flat line for a solid five seconds before she releases a mighty groan, shovel digging into the dirt as she puts her weight on it. "How did getting a partner make him worse?" she whines to nobody, though sort of vaguely in Mai's direction.

And then she realizes. "Uhm!" she calls over. "Does someone want to put our next tree in?" She raises her hand for some attention. "Mai's..." ...

Wait, if she takes away the object of Mai's sketch does something bad happen? It's like a sleepwalker, don't they turn into werewolves if you wake them up or something?!

She cuts herself off, suddenly paralyzed by very silly thoughts.

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

There's simply this long groan at Takeo elevating Mountain Dew to some heavenly elixir. "You know... just going to let that slide today."

But Takeo asks and, "Sharka happened. Plum pox." However- he invoked Mika. And for a while she debates just telling him what happened-

She remembers hearing the dying maiden's last words. Watching her take her final breath.

-and decides he doesn't need to hear that right now. "Yeah you missed something. Nothing bad really- just sad. Tell you later okay?"

As Yumi walks over, she takes out a bottle of water. Hands it her way. "Thirsty work isn't it?"

Takeo offers to move a bag, "And sure! Just a bit closer."

Kuniko is lecturing the kiddos though, and she gets this little smile on her expression. She considers it for a while and then steps closer and adds in-

"It'll take a while. Three years minimum... maybe up to six for some of them. These are all precious replacements after a major loss. But once you're all in high school you can come back here and enjoy the fruits of your labors."

She blinks a few times, then puts a hand over her mouth, eyes darting to that duo- suddenly looking a little red, "I swear that wasn't intentional."

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

Upon completing the most recent hole and patting the sides of it so they don't crumble when the next person starts putting in fertilizer, Makoto steps back, wipes her brow, and grins over at Kuniko as she walks a few younger kids through the planting and why it's important to restore the plum orchard. She giggles outright when Kuniko asserts that pickling is DEFINITELY magical, then walks over to where the next hole to be dug is marked.

Along the way, though, Makoto catches sight of Yumi, her fellow tol. Having been preoccupied with her task, she hasn't noticed that Yumi has been kinda-sorta-not-looking-at-her, and just cheerfully waves her way. "Hey senpai!" she calls. "Nice seeing you out here! Don't work too hard, okay?" It would be bad if she passed out and had to be carried to the hospital! Carried in someone's arms. Someone's strong, muscular arms. Wouldn't it, Yumi? Wouldn't it.

Eri, being significantly shorter, almost goes unnoticed--but then *she* puns, too, and Makoto grimaces as if being force-fed a box of umeboshi, and then she realizes that's-- "Eri-san?"

She hesitates then; it's been a long while since they spoke last, and although they didn't part on bad terms, they didn't part on good terms, either. Her expression clouds, and her lips purse. But, if she happens to catch Eri's eye--she'll give her a slow nod, then get back to work.

Right now, they're all working together to help restore this orchard. That's the important thing right now. Everything else... well, Sailor Jupiter hasn't slowed down any on her patrols, let's put it like that.

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

Takeo Akamizu nods to Eri and salutes with the mug. "Got it." He goes to set down the mug and raises an eyebrow at Yumi. He gestures with the mug instead to Makoto. "Hey! Have we met before? Like in a martial arts tournament?" He squints and nods, but doesn't add further, instead he hodls the mug of the most holy of hollies, the giant mug of Mt. Dew to Makoto. "Hi! I'm Takeo. Would you care for some Mt Dew to revitalize your energy?"

He gives Makoto a giant grin that is meant to be friendly and sincere. He looks over to the field of plum trees and smiles. In Six years he'll be racing motorcycles and be DONE with school. Both of these appeal to him, and so he makes a mental note to return here and eat a plum to celebrate.

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

"Actually, when you look at the history of beverages, Mt. Dew is a very young invention, but hardly the youngest." Fuu pipes up with a smile from behind Takeo - her voice quiet enough to be considered technically polite, but she's not exactly talking under her breath. "I believe that sake has a better claim to being the gods' gift to humanity ... although at our ages, that's not really an option either. I think they just prepared a new carafe of tea over there, though, if any of you are thirsty?" she finishes with a smile, gesturing towards one of the nearby pavilions which does, in fact, have a fresh carafe of tea ready to be served.

She inclines her head momentarily to Eri, belatedly acknowledging the unintended glance - as well as the fact that yes, Fuu knows they still have an issue lingering between them - then waves hello to Kuniko.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

The flag at Kuniko's table is familiar to Yumi; now and then she's looked over at her cooking senpai and her charges, but mostly she just hears them filtering over the chatter.

It's a little easier as she's approaching Eri. Why is fruit important...?

You can make a ton of potions with fruit.

But Yumi agrees about pickling being magical. Now she wants umeboshi. Whta she gets however is water, as she makes it to her friend. Yumi reaches out and accepts it with a huff, "Seriously!" A wave to Takeo before she opens the water and starts outright guzzling it, entirely gracelessly. She's very, very thirsty.

She pauses just in time for Eri's answer... and Eri's accidental joke. "Snrk." Beat, "Of course not." She looks downright smug... until she spots Makoto calling out to her, and her gaze slides right over to her as she waves back very enthusiastically. "Hey, Mako-chan!" A beat, "O-Oh um, yeah, totally! Taking breaks! You too!" Pause. You too? You too, are you an idiot, Yumi?

She slouches a little bit and studiously looks away to focus on drinking more water.

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

Eri is still quite red when Makoto says her name, and as she looks her way, Eri cups both hands over her nose and mouth for a moment or two to let that feeling fade, before she drops those hands away from her face. And then she gives her an uneasy smile when she nods her way, "I'm glad you're here, pitching in Makoto-san." She says that sincerely at least.

And she tries not to think about things to come. Because she knows Makoto Kino was there defending Hotaru Tomoe As Sailor Jupiter.

A girl she's pledged her aid to murdering.

She's not ashamed of her choice. That's what she tells herself... but she can't keep eye contact with her much longer.

But she does walk towards Yumi. Nudge her after a moment and is just like, "Maybe you should go join her group..."

<Pose Tracker> Kuniko Saito [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"Oh yeah," says the big kid: "That makes sense."

"That long?" grumps the kid with the spade. But the prospect of returning after high school's over to see it seems to please him. The girl with pigtails snickers at Eri's joke.

"Oi, Makoto! Are you having a good time out here?" she calls to the taller girl, leaning on the spade that Haruta has surrendered back to her as the fertilizer is deployed and the new tree is brought to bear. Her eyes go over Yumi but she is limited to a "Yo," because she isn't sure if she's... spoken to the pale girl.

"Mako, introduce me," she asks Makoto then, indicating Yumi. She's grinning as she does it, since of course Yumi is from her school! But that's life for you.

<Pose Tracker> Kuniko Saito [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"Oh yeah," says the big kid: "That makes sense."

"That long?" grumps the kid with the spade. But the prospect of returning after high school's over to see it seems to please him. The girl with pigtails snickers at Eri's joke.

"Oi, Makoto! Are you having a good time out here?" she calls to the taller girl, leaning on the spade that Haruta has surrendered back to her as the fertilizer is deployed and the new tree is brought to bear. Her eyes go over Yumi and Yumi, in turn, gets a "Yo!" and a wave over for conversation.

"So we're forming an alliance right now, huh? You know, I never run into many people from the cooking club at Ohtori. Do you think they even have one? Or would it just be for their valets?"

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

Fuu impunes on the honor of the sacred Mt. Dew, granted from on high. At this Takeo slowly turns to look in abject horror at the words spoken. As if Fuu had summoned with her litany of historical facts, a demon sent to destroy the innocent and pure of heart. His eyes are wide in abject horror, and he just stares. Stares. At Fuu, a wounded animal that has had his world shattered, a child who has been shown how the magician pulled off the trick, a dog who had her squeaky toy mercilessly taken from her.

He stays that way for quite a few second before he finally says. "What? But. Mt. Dew...." He gestures with his freee hand. "It's ... Really good. I ... How could you say such awful and hurtful things Fuu-Chan?" He looks almost hurt. Complete with large wounded eyes and possibly even a lower lip quiver.

It is clear that Mt. Dew is almost as import to him as Bacon yo.

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

Kaoruko Hanasaki is much too old to be shouting all over the yard. So, sensibly, she has a gym teacher's whistle. And it goes TWEET!!, bringing the proceedings to a halt, just as the latest trees have been settled into the ground.

Just as the... last... trees, have been settled. All in all it only took an hour of labor, maybe two at the most. There's a PA system in Jindai, and the woman with the keys to this kingdom is well-able to operate it.

<< On behalf of Jindai, thank you very much for all your help, everyone, >> the woman's papery voice echoes, across the grounds. It wends through the rows and rows of trees, which were planted according to the placement of little yellow flags -- designed to create broad arcs and winding pathways, it will not at all be a steady grid layout in the end, but something much more natural and lovely.

For now it looks more like a labyrinth of the traditional variety, short enough to be easily seen over, the pattern starkly emblazoned upon the ground.

<< All the trees thank you, too! Feel that breeze on your cheeks? That is the breathing of these children, children you guided safely to their new home. I hope you come back later in the season to see their first blossoms. >>

Indeed, there is some moving air that wasn't quite there before. Perhaps it has been stirred by a thousand thousand fairy wings.

Bowing deeply, Kaoruko smiles, an expression brighter than the sun and sweeter than an all-you-can-eat choco parfait buffet. Then she retreats --

-- backing straight into the very large, very strong, very tall man(?) who has just formed out of rustling purple leaves behind her. He once interrupted the Sister Schools viewing of the baseball championships, among other claims to fame. Some of those purple leaves remain, as his mask and headdress and left pauldron. The rest of his body is coated in veiny olive green ones, armor that does not in any respect disguise or soften what a mighty warrior he is.


BGM Swap: Great Anxiety https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-gDwmHsevw

He smirks down at Kaoruko, whose balance isn't always so good and who topples straight onto her side. Despite that she maintains her composure, staring up at him steadily, almost defiantly.

"What pointless labor," says the Dark Fall lieutenant who has stolen the power of the Fountain of Wood. "Trees will always wither and die in the end. This place is nothing more than a mass grave."

His eyes lock onto Saki and Mai.

"No more delays! Give me... the location of the Fountain of the Sun if you don't want any of these -- saplings --" He glares at the nascent forest, but also the hundreds of volunteers who just created it, "-- to get hurt."


<< Attention, Jindai Botanical Gardens are now closed. Please proceed in an orderly fashion to the nearest gate -- and come back soon! >>

Kaoruko smirks up at Karehaan as the evacuation begins. Most of the kids won't even know there was an interruption.

Gnashing his well-fanged teeth, he raises his arm, razor-sharp fingernails swishing downwards--

OOC: Under the circumstances, Saki and Mai get first dibs to intervene here, but all comers are, naturally, welcome in the end!

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe transforms into Karehaan!
<Pose Tracker> Saki Hyuuga [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

Mai had been busy sketching until the very end. Saki's hesitation was perhaps wise -- or perhaps not -- and that means that she only looks up when Kaoruko starts to speak. Her violet eyes lift up, to see her. She smiles in an instant -- and gasps in the next.


"Stop!" she calls out. "This is--this is unforgivable! Ruining all of these peoples' time, and this important event, because you want the Fountain of the Sun!" If she knows better than to say such things in front of everyone, Mai doesn't even show it. Her hand tightens into a fist, clasped over her heart, and she shakes her head. "Karehaan! We definitely won't let you do this."

"And we won't tell you where the Fountain of the Sun is either-chopi!" Choppy cries after Mai.

"We wouldn't tell you even if we did know-lapi!" Flappy chimes in, from the pouch on Saki's bag. As for Saki, she's read the writing on the wall, and with kids retreating, and Karehaan furious--

A clod of dirt slams into Karehaan's face at pitching speed, hopefully diverting that deadly slash at Kaoruko. It's followed a few seconds later by another, and a faster third, belting across the distance at the hands of Infinity Institute's own ace softball pitcher, Saki Hyuuga. "Don't lay a finger on her or anyone else!" Saki yells, as she runs out of dirt to throw, her stance squaring in open defiance. "Even if what you're saying is right...The happiness everyone got from planting them isn't worthless! The happiness they'll bring to others while they're here has meaning!"

The gray cloud of Flappy's transformation whips across the distance, and the Mix Commune forms in her hand, transformation cards at the ready. Saki holds it forward in defiance, and she holds her hand out to the side, knowing it'll be answered.

Mai's hand clasps Saki's. She looks sideways to her partner, then nods. "Saki! We have to transform!" she says. "And put a stop to this!"

When their hands join, they swing their arms around until they cross at the forearm, devices held slightly in front of the other, and their voices rise: "DUAL SPIRI TUAL POWER!"

Between the two devices, a shining golden light is born, pulsing once before roaring outward in a rainbow wave that consumes them both, whipping up gusts of wind and forcing anyone too close away before the ball of rainbow light shoots upward into the sky!

The two girls rise into the air, hands clasped, spinning as one. Light rushes around them, gold for Saki and silver for Mai, their bodies suffused in shining garments.

Saki throws her free arm out, and in a flash of golden light and a spray of shining golden petals, the light solidifies in a bright pink sleeve, falling short of her shoulder and extending over her hand in a flower-shaped flared cuff. The hand itself is covered in a deep grape-purple fingerless glove. "Bloom, flowers of the earth!" she cries out.

In distinct flashes of light, gloves and boots appear on them. Mai extends her free hand as she twirls, the white and sky blue dress forming around her.

"Soar, birds of the sky!" Mai cries, just before she finally lets go of her partner's hand, and flies twirling into the air. With another flash of gold and silver, their other gloves form amid the parting.

Mai's hair extends another good meter, long purple ponytail fluttering out behind her. The shoulder pieces form, too, with a faint feather pattern to them. Rings of light spiral out around Saki's head, her auburn hair turning a sharp orange and extending out, less down and more up, into a high formation like nothing so much as a pineapple. With more explosions of petals, golden earrings and the pink and yellow chest and shoulders of her outfit form, and with a final flash, a bright red ribbon.

Gravity retakes her and Saki forward flips once before landing firmly on the ground. Glittering sparkles of light splash upward, magic responding to her arrival. She holds one arm up in a ready fist, while the other hangs back. "The shining golden flower!" She throws her other hand forward, fingers splayed and the interior yellow of her petal-like cuff clearly visible. "Cure Bloom!"

Mai spins and then lands on the ground with a flourish. She swings a hand in front of her face, newly formed glove snug against her hand, while her fingers splay.

Following Saki, Mai says, "The sparkling silver wing! Cure Egret!" Then the two cross their wrists in front of each other, yelling as one: "We are Pretty Cure!" Then, both point at Karehan at the same time, while clasping hands.

"You who would desecrate the Sacred Fountains..."

Cure Bloom throws her pointing hand open with nearly palpable force for her final admonition. "Stop your cruel behavior!"

COMBAT: Saki Hyuuga transforms into Cure Bloom!
COMBAT: Mai Mishou transforms into Cure Egret!
COMBAT: Cure Egret has used We Are... on Cure Bloom.
COMBAT: Cure Bloom accepts Cure Egret's We Are..., taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Cure Bloom is Cheered!
COMBAT: Cure Bloom has used ...Pretty Cure! on Cure Egret.
COMBAT: Cure Egret accepts Cure Bloom's ...Pretty Cure!, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Cure Egret is Cheered!
<Pose Tracker> Makoto Kino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Makoto doesn't know Takeo out of henshin, but that's fine because obviously he's a decent guy if he's here helping people out. ...if maybe not as much as the others. Still, when he strides up to her and offers her a Mt. Dew, she stands up tall and grins back at him. "Hey! I'm Makoto. Sure, thanks!" She'll take that Mt. Dew and drink, and when she's done, she gives him a thoughtful look. *Has* she met him before? "I don't... *think* so?" she replies. "I haven't been in any martial arts tournaments lately."

Meanwhile, Yumi waves back at Makoto, and while she may say something weird,Makoto is glad that she's doing well. She just sort of assumes that the 'you too' thing is just her encouraging Makoto not to overdo it either. "Don't worry about me! I'm just fine!" she calls, flexing an arm and clapping a hand over the bicep. It's somewhat less impressive than it could be given that she has a thick jacket on. She sobers somewhat at Eri's response--she's not aware that Eri has pledged herself to kill someone Makoto's decided to protect, or this would be a LOT more awkward than it is now--but she can at least say with equal sincerity, "Yeah, same here."

She finishes off the Mt. Dew, crushing the can into a round metal disc that she tucks into a pocket to be thrown out in a recycling bin later, just as Kuniko addresses her. Makoto looks up and grins at her cooking senpai. "Yup, I sure am! Looks like you are too!" she says, nodding to Haruta and the other kids. Kuniko also waves Yumi over for a conversation, and Makoto leans on her shovel, then laughs at Kuniko's Ohtori-snark. "I'm pretty sure they have one, but who even knows?" she replies. "Although there's some good kids at Ohtori, too!" Utena, for example!

She has time for that, anyway, since she was on digging duty, and fertilizing and planting comes after that. Which means that a moment later, a TWEEEEET goes out to signal that the last of the trees have been planted. Makoto brightens at that, then grins at the announcement. "We did it!" she cheers, grinning at Kuniko and Yumi and, yes, even Eri.

But... then another tweet sounds, and Makoto turns to see some... weird withered-leaf-looking guy? Her eyes narrow and she shifts into an aggressive stance; then she gives Kuniko a sharp nod. "Let's get these kids out of here first," she murmurs to her. Saki and Mai can go ahead and have first dibs; Makoto will be helping make sure that the orderly dismissal stays orderly. Sailor Jupiter will return in short order! (Naturally, just in time to miss Saki and Mai speeching at Karehaan and then transforming into Cure Bloom and Egret. She largely missed spotting them around anyway, or she would've said hi to Saki.)

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

"It's not so long for trees..." Eri says quietly to the kid with the spade.

The Tweet of the whistle causes Eri to look up- managing to return a grin at Makoto. "We really did- didn't we?" It seems infectious when caught up in that moment. Like some quiet moment of triumph.

She looks at Kaoruko Hanasaki- someone she admired for all the work she does. Perhaps offering her a quiet thank you. Wiping away more sweat from her brow, she smiles as she listens to the announcement and looks out over all the work they did today. She hopes one day that the spot on Southern Cross Island will be even thicker, more lush than it ever was.

But there's a grim feeling in the air. One of foreboding perhaps. A defiant voice. A tall imposing figure.

There's a green flash in her hands- a smell like rain and a sound like the rustling of dry leaves in the fall. It changes her rapidly into her battle garb- as a vine immediately twists into her hands. She's about to engage when she sees the clods of dirt being thrown. And then two Pretty Cure.

It feels wrong to interrupt such passion. Honestly she's rather touched by their fervent defense. So she doesn't. She uses that time to get closer, to dash into range- and then-

"If that's how you feel-" The coiled whip lashes out, perhaps to try and catch one of Karehaan's limbs and encircle it in a quick wrap. An arm, or leg. If she does, she tries to use the leverage to tear the stronger General off his feet and yank him into a nearby fence to follow up on the earlier diversion. Otherwise- she just tries to lash his way repeatedly with whistling lengths of vine to at least rock him back on his heels.

"-then you really ought to show more respect for the dead."

Her eyes flit over to Kaoruko, perhaps to make certain she's okay- before it returns to the Dark Fall General, gaze sharpening.

"But as it stands- you have no concept of what happened here! What was lost- and sacrificed- and given freely- to make certain today could happen. There's absolutely no way I'm letting you do this either!"

COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi transforms into Puella Magi Eri!
COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi has used Moidon's Grasp on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly dodges Eri Shimanouchi's Moidon's Grasp, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Hotaru Tomoe's Fade ability
activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Flash ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Kuniko Saito [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

The spiritual pressure that Karehaan generates makes Kuniko blanch like a potato destined for migas. But she has other matters to think of - three of them - and so she snaps her flag down with a rustle. The three children she has been minding look towards her, although the biggest lingers, looking towards Kaoruko and Karehaan for a moment.

Makoto shares her brainwave. She gives Makoto a firm nod, raises her flag, and starts to sing a merry song.

"Piiza Piiza Margerhita - Pizza Margerhita~ Rita Rita Rita Rita Rita," oh it's a marching cadence! After thirty seconds Kuniko hits another round of 'Pizza Margerhita,' and then moves on to verse two of this child-friendly singalong.

Verse 2 is "Pizza Pepperoni." Hopefully she'll be able to get them clear before she runs out of pizzas...

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

The helpful facts being provided are mysteries to Yumi for the moment, as is Takeo's defense of his soda of choice. Instead she's focused on a litany of two words that have surely made her look like an idiot. ...This also makes her miss Eri's uneasy smile. She doesn't know, herself, that Makoto is on the opposite side from her.

Eri nudges her and Yumi blinks. "Oh uh... Uh..." The blush in her cheeks could be the cold, or it could be something else. "Y-You think so? I man, maybe..."

Kuniko speaks up her way. "Hey!" she calls back a little more loudly, and looks to Eri. "...Okay I'm super going for it!" With excitement, sh scurries over to Kuniko and Makoto. And she hears Kuniko's joke about Ohtori and tries badly to suppress a laugh. "Senpai!" She stops trying. That was amazing. She's known a lot of Ohtori girls like that. "Oh yeah totally some, like Eri-chan." She's glad Makoto too her answer in grace, and... is mostly glad that Makoto is wearing a jacket. But...

There's the whistle. Yumi's empty bottle of water has made it into the trash can by now, so her hands are free to clap softly as she looks aorund and sees all these trees. So many, in such a careful way. AAnd it is kind o a Labyrinth. But the breeze...

Yumi really believes what Hanasaki is saying in that moment, nodding as she looks up at her. She wants to come back. For now, she basks in the winded feeling she has after all that. She isn't expecting the tall man behind her, the strange leaves that mark his--

Her eyes widen. The cat who was watching flicks her tail in alarm. "Leave her alone!" she starts to call, afraid, and hears what he actually says. Pointless...? What he says...

Her eyes narrow and her heart beats on too quickly. She can't move fast enough to help her... But someone else can. And she's moving as they are, too, looking around at those that flee and ust shaking her head for lack of cover. Her cellphone comes out of her purse and she points it upward to float in front of her long enough to wrench off her gloves and tap in for the app--

A great white staff appears in front of her as she snatches her phone back and puts it away. A breath. "Staff of Lost Ivy!"

Holding her focus aloft, Yumi calls, "In my hand, remembered be!"

Brilliant green light surrounds her in a column and ignites the head of the staff, and when it's gone the Witch is dresed all in black with a black mantle over her dress, a green-ribboned pointed hat and green leather boots and gloves. "I am the Witch of Lost Ivy!" she calls, "And your evil ends here!"

She sees Eri up closer, and narrows her eyes. "Right..." Yumi calls up more loudly at Karehaan, "You...!" She's so angry. "Don't call them worthless just because they might die!"

She looks to Kaoruko, and looks back to Karehaan before she lets her staff float before her. "And I...!" she traces with her fingers quickly an intricate symbol of misfortune and it ripples in the air as she throws her hands out. From Karehaan's feet appear black-edged green color that bursts upward to attempt to shackle him with vines.

"I won't let you either!"

COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora transforms into Witch Ivy!
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora has used Ivy Binding on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly braces Yumi Ohzora's Ivy Binding, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Hotaru Tomoe's Block ability activates!
Hotaru Tomoe's Parry ability activates!  Trap applied to Hotaru Tomoe!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Fuu adjusts her glasses a bit, then bows politely to Takeo. "If you'll excuse me ..."

Not that she really expects to be forgiven for that, particularly given the look on his face. But ... honestly. Not everybody likes Mt. Dew, even if it *is* green. So is (some) tea, which is much more to Fuu's preference anyway. But there's no additional time to discuss refreshments, as Ms. Hanasaki tweets on her whistle, and like most of the other students, Fuu turns her attention to the woman's speech.

The wind is the breath of the trees? That's an image she hadn't been aware of before, but ... it's a nice image. She'll have to remember it, maybe send a note to see if she can re-use or reference it somehow ...

She's still thinking that when Karehaan appears and issues his challenge. Like a good girl, Fuu begins to evacuate as well, but she's looking for a good chance to split away from the pack, duck out of sight, and initiate her own transformation. Certainly it's a good thing that Ms. Hanasaki was able to start the evacuation, but that's only half of the 'children' who were in danger to start with. And after they all put so much work into preparing the ground and planting the new young trees, *she* isn't about to let all their hard work be torn up.

Fuu ducks behind a conveniently-placed sign, glancing around briefly to make sure nobody's looking her way, then pulls out her glove-jewel, slipping it onto her left hand, briefly clenching her fist. "Belief becomes power ... Winds, guide me!" A green-tinted whirlwind erupts into existence around her, veiling her from view ...

And then the Magic Knight of Wind is making her way back to the new-planted orchard, not running so much as leaping. And she's being VERY careful where she jumps - or rather, where she lands. There was a puzzle in a game she played recently where you get punished for walking on the flowers; it took her some work and careful attention to find the correct route. She has to get THIS right on the first try, without a chance to explore more fully, but at least the patterns of new trees are a lot easier to make out.

Soon enough, the Wind Knight returns to the budding battlefield, sizing up Karehaan as she lands from her last leap. She could cast a spell readily enough - but instead, her bow and quiver materialize out of streaks of light, and she nocks an arrow, drawing it back. "It seems quite clear you won't receive anything you want today. Trees can live longer than humans do, and none of us plan to allow you to kill anyone or anything here. Leaving is probably your best option at the moment, before things get any worse for you ..."

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji transforms into Wind Knight!
<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Takeo Akamizu grins over to Makoto. Finally. Somebody who appreciates a Mt. Dew. He looks over to Eri and nods in approval, showing her that not ALL people are savage water drinkers. I mean. Water is the bottom of the food chain. Because water feeds the plants, that his food eats. He gives Makoto a shrug, and that winning smile of his when she crushes the can. "Who knows then. Maybe we did some activity at Hokkaido?" He shrugs. At the tweeting he grins and lets everybody celebrate. This isn't his cup of Dew, but he's happy the others are happy.

And truthfully, he DOES feel pretty good about himself.

But then there is a second tweeting, and people are leaving the Garden. He rolls his shoulders and points a finger to Karehaan and calls out, "It looks like you need to go to bed! Becuase it's Knight Time!" He looks at Eri and gives a big grin. "Get it? Go to bed? Because it's Knight Time?" He clears his throat. "I SWEAR TO DEFEND THE INNOCENT!"

A veritible lightning storm erupts form his amulet that he holds aloft. A swirling mass of electricity that strikes and slams into the boy. Each bolt flashing pure white as it strikes him to turn into a piece of armor. It isn't long at all bfore he is standing in brightly glowing armor that flakes off with motes of exploding electricity. He then slams his hands together, and pulls them apart, creating a miniature lighting storm between his fists. When hehas tham at the right length, the Lightning between his fists solidifies into the twin white gleaming blades of Arondight.

He rolls his shoulders, nods, and charges the man, his blades trailing twin tails of lighting in his wake. At the last second he slashes with bloth blades, unleashing that lighting there on the blades wiht a crack of thunder and cried out, "LIGHTNING SLASH!"

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Gentle Chiding on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Takeo Akamizu transforms into Chevalier Knight Lancelot!
COMBAT: Lancelot has used Lightning Slash on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly counters Fuu Hououji's Gentle Chiding, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Hotaru Tomoe is
Quipped!  Hotaru Tomoe's Reverse ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Tactician ability activates!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe's counterattack, Sassy Karecchi, partially gets through, doing 16 Fatigue damage to Fuu Hououji!  Fuu Hououji
is Quipped!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly dodges Lancelot's Lightning Slash, taking 15 Fatigue damage!  Lancelot is Psyched!  Hotaru Tomoe's
Fade ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Flash ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

Saki's ploy is half-successful. She does not get the pleasure of seeing Karehaan's face covered in wintry mud, but she saves Kaoruko's life -- because, with a jerk of his wrist, he intercepts the incoming dirt between his fingernails, collecting the clods first between peace signs, then, as more arrive, involving more fingers.

"You will regret that," he promises Pretty Cure. "You will all be filled with regret!"

His hands close, transforming those clods to brown dust, dust that blows away on the wind.

Others close in -- he falls back, maddeningly quick to avoid more than a light singe from Lancelot's swords; Yumi's vines hold him for a split second before he flexes his biceps (and triceps, and leg muscles) and just walks out of them. What a jerk. And Fuu's dismissal, well, on the one hand he doesn't take it too well which is probably a good thing, but on the other hand he doesn't take it too well which is probably a bad thing. "I'm pretty sure murder is my best option, and I'm happy to start with you!" An unmild remark made downright terrifying by the crazed look in his eyes.

Stamping his foot, he springs into a great leap away from Eri's whip, and, glancing at the Puella Magi, finds his rage sliding into a smirk. "I'm not the one who'll need to show respect for the dead -- UZAINAA!!"

Power pours out of him and soaks -- oh no -- into the ground. It flows downwards, past the skimpy little roots of the newly planted baby trees, to deeper places... and buried things.

With a trenchant roar the ground opens up, releasing a tremendously muddy smell into the air, but an ancient one, too. There isn't quite time yet to look down there, but there's a keen sense that, in this chasm, there's a lot more than dirt, detritus and demolition debris.

(Oh, and the giant monster exploding out of it: it's mostly face, and all made of dead wood which has wriggled together and converged into a huge spidery mass. Despite that, it's far from brittle, a fact made clear as splinters shower in all directions with the precision of a ninja's storm of knives.)

If Makoto and Kuniko hadn't sped the evacuation along, kids definitely would have fallen into that pit of despair -- go go lifesaving! Instead they are guilelessly singing about pizza, and their afternoon isn't ruined at all. If it were Labyrinth here to collect despair, their plan would be half thwarted already.

Unfortunately it is not.

"PRETTY CURE!" shouts Karehaan, now safely out of the combat zone, still midleap high overhead. "Your doom is nigh!"

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe transforms into Uzaina!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Fastball on Lancelot.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Fastball on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Fastball on Yumi Ohzora.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Fastball on Eri Shimanouchi.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Fastball on Cure Bloom.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Fastball on Cure Egret.
COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Fastball, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Eri Shimanouchi's Block ability
activates!  Eri Shimanouchi's Parry ability activates!  Cripple applied to Eri Shimanouchi!
COMBAT: Lancelot fails to brace Hotaru Tomoe's Fastball, taking 33 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Cripple applied to Lancelot!
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Fastball, taking 18 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Yumi Ohzora's Block ability
activates!  Yumi Ohzora's Parry ability activates!  Cripple and Stun applied to Yumi Ohzora!
COMBAT: Cure Egret narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Fastball, taking 12 Fatigue damage!  Cure Egret's Block ability activates!  Cure
Egret's Parry ability activates!  Cripple and Stun applied to Cure Egret!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Fastball, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji's Fade ability activates!  Fuu
Hououji's Flash ability activates!  Cripple and Stun applied to Fuu Hououji!
COMBAT: Cure Bloom narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Fastball, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Cure Bloom's Block ability activates!  Stun
applied to Cure Bloom!
COMBAT: Makoto Kino transforms into Sailor Jupiter!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

The Wind Knight blinks behind her glasses at Karehaan's swift rejoinder. That *is* the most direct ...

There's a split second in which Karehaan might have the opportunity to watch the expression on her face go from determined, to surprised, to fearful. But the Uzaina erupting out of the noisome crevice does so too abruptly for the green-clad Magic Knight's face show dismay - assuming she would have gone that last step even without sudden giant monster. Instead, though the Wind Knight barely manages to propel herself in the right direction, she still takes approximately her share of the brunt of the Uzaina's emergence and winds up crashing to the ground, approximately shoulder-first.

Thank the gods (and Clef, probably) for her armor. It *still* hurts an awful lot, but the epaulet absorbs enough of the force for the joint to retain full function. She hit her head too, and she's pretty sure the orchard should NOT be spinning around her. Bow, nocked arrow, and quiver all vanish as the Wind Knight sits up, shaking her head in an effort to clear it. How hard did she land ... ?

Hard enough to be a problem, and she's not the only one. "Winds of Healing!" she calls out, wrapping the restorative breeze around herself and Lancelot; with her head clearing, she extends the healing spell towards Cure Egret as well, catching sight of her. It won't be a complete recuperation for any of them, but the less they're slowed by their injuries, the better their chances will be against the monster that's trying to kill everybody.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Healing on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Healing on Lancelot.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Healing on Cure Egret.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji accepts Fuu Hououji's Winds of Healing, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Cleanse! All of Fuu Hououji's debuffs are
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Jupiter [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

It's always important to get the squishy kidlets to safety! There are other magical girls here, and Makoto knows that for a fact, so... even though it's Eri, she'll trust her for now to stop Karehaan, or at least slow him down. After all, she wants to protect this grove too.

Once the marching song is done and all the children are to safety, Makoto nods again to Kuniko, pulling out her transformation pen and ducking behind a convenient tree or other piece of greenery to get out of the sight of normies. "Let's hurry back--I'm sure that weirdo's no pushover, either!" she says. As she holds her pen aloft, she calls, "Jupiter Star Power, Make Up!!"

A moment later, Sailor Jupiter appears--by hurtling down from the sky like a meteorite. Her kiai shout precedes her like a siren, and if all goes well, she lands fist-first on the woody, spider-like Uzainaa, then rebounds off it to land on her feet. "How dare you try to attack this plum orchard just as the children of Tokyo have nurtured life back into it!!" she roars up at Karehaan. She points at him, then twists around into a pose. "In the name of Jupiter, I'll fill you with so much regret, it'll leave you numb!!"

COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter has used Jupiter Punch on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to dodge Sailor Jupiter's Jupiter Punch, taking 9 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Cure Egret accepts Fuu Hououji's Winds of Healing, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Cleanse! All of Cure Egret's debuffs are
<Pose Tracker> Cure Egret [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

"E-Everyone...!" Cure Egret cries, as the others appear to help fight Karehaan.

Until the ground explodes in a furious blast of dirt, and the Uzaina shoots upward. A thing made of dead wood, which flies up as sharp as knives. Egret throws a hand out, and a shimmering arc of silver sparkles erupts. The shards of wood slam into it and bounce away, but the impact still forces Egret backward -- makes her feet scrape into the ground, and then she grits her teeth, before she looks to the side -- to Bloom. She nods at her.

"Bloom," she says. "We have to... we have to make sure we don't let them down!"

Fuu's spell is well-timed. The winds rush around her, buffeting her, and she looks at the Magic Knight. She nods her thanks, and then takes in all of them -- and Sailor Jupiter especially, when she attacks.

They all look so amazing. She has never ceased to be amazed -- and inspired by -- how each of the magical girls can look so different. She smiles, before she runs forward, and then leaps into the air. She does a tight spin, before she comes crashing down at the Uzaina. Her foot slams out -- and then she wheels around, and delivers a backhanded blow, aimed at knocking it off balance.

"We won't!" she answers Karehaan. "We'll protect everyone here! And we'll protect a beautiful place like this--so it can grow back into a wonderful garden!"

COMBAT: Cure Egret has used White Wing Flurry on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Lancelot accepts Fuu Hououji's Winds of Healing, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Cleanse! All of Lancelot's
debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to dodge Cure Egret's White Wing Flurry, taking 26 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Exhausted applied to
Hotaru Tomoe!
<Pose Tracker> Cure Bloom [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

Karehaan showing off just how great his speed is isn't entirely unexpected for Saki; but though the ferocity of those eyes gave her pause, she can't balk before him. By now she's familiar with his hatred. By now - it scares her, but with Mai, and Flappy, and Choppy, she can face it.

More in the present, Cure Bloom's defiant point is met with a different kind of defiance. She's impressed and amazed as the magical girls zoom in from every angle, several seemingly incensed by his condemnation of the very plants that he himself is formed of. (She never really got that about him, actually...) Watching him so easily cast aside the powers being thrown against him, though...

She remembers the fights they've had against Kintoleski, and her fist slowly clenches, glove creaking from the forces against it. "They're all that strong...aren't they?" she murmurs.

Fortunately, it's only a passing thought before Karehaan awakens an Uzaina from the ground below. Cure Bloom throws up her arms, golden motes joining silver sparkles, the twinned powers of Splash Star Pretty Cure nulling most of the assault; but she still has to throw herself back as that massive chasm into some ancient place yawns before her. She hits the ground, and the earth accepts her, sparks of gold canceling what forces may stop her smooth arrival. Her eyes drift to Egret, and she nods, grimly. "Yeah," she confirms. "We won't let this get any further!"

She gave up on really convincing Karehaan they didn't have the location of the Fountain of the Sun a while ago, but every so often, she feels the need to yell it back: "I keep telling you, we don't know where it is!" She calls, in response to his threat. But she can't bicker with the tree man; she throws herself forward, running two, three, four steps and then blasting forward in a rapid lateral leap, hand open and glowing with magic power that she drives hard into the side of the spidery Uzaina.

COMBAT: Cure Bloom has used Fistful of Flowers on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe perfectly braces Cure Bloom's Fistful of Flowers, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Brace!  Hotaru Tomoe's
Block ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Parry ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.


Suddenly her expression twists up as that power soaks into the ground. "-No! STOP!"

And that's when the ground opens up. A giant monster exploding out of it. Hopping quickly onto one large piece of flying earth. She skips off into the ground. A storm of dead wood is her answer. And her whip becomes a whirling defense, smacking countless splinters out of the air with each lash of the air.

But then one sneaks past her guard, embedding itself into her forearm.

Her expression twisting up in agony. She reaches over with her opposite arm- and yanks it out.

"That was there for a reason... all of the old, it decomposes to give life to the next generation..." She says, voice trembling with pain and anger.

"You have no right to use it for this. None!"

Lancelot falls down in front of her and she sort of winces. "You okay?" She takes the time to offer her uninjured arm to help him up.

Calling out to the Pretty Cure, "Pretty Cure! We're counting on you to make this right again! We'll do our best to set you up." And then her eyes move towards the familiar witch girl, "Yu-Witch of Lost Ivy- can you curse it for us?" She gives Lancelot a look, "The two of us will do what we can."

Jupiter moves in with a punch, and for a moment she gets another look. There's no nod, but perhaps a silent Acknowledgement that at least for today. They were on the same side.

Tomorrow it might be different.

Lost Ivy uses her curse, which is when Eri points left for Lancelot, and she runs right, sprinting under the spindly legs of the spidery deadwood. Hopping this way and that to avoid it's stamping feet. And then she breaks into a roll forward, her hand touching the ground lightly.

The ground shimmers again with flourescent green light, as she gets up back to her feet and keeps running. "Hit it now!" She calls out to him.

A moment later- newly formed roots which are somewhere between brown and red burst forth, attempting to impale through several of it's spidery legs on the right just as Lancelot hits it from it's left flank hoping to capitalize on the weakening curse to put an end to this decisively.

COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi has started a combo targeting Hotaru Tomoe!
<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Yumi is listening to what Karehaan says, but she's trying to balance that with watching his movements. She clicks her tongue in irritation as her vines can't keep her opponent held. And then of course he talks about...

"What is with this guy?" she asks, eyes slightly widened at just how terrifying he looks for the moment when paired with that thing he says. But what Eri said, that seemed so cool to her--

The smell of mud fills her nostrils, and Yumi stares. "Don't--" But of course, he doesn't listen. He wouldn't. "What is--"

The splinters crash towards her, and Yumi throws up her hands to set out a circle of protection before her in glowing green, which blocks part of the attack but isn't enough to stop her tumbling backwards to end up on one knee. "Aaah!" It hurts, makes it hard to move. She winces, and makes herself stand up again, and feels good about tat for a moment.

She was able to get right up.

Eri starts taking charge which sounds right to her, and Yumi nods. "Right, we'll help you!" she calls to Pretty Cure. Yumi is there holding her staff again when Eri looks at her, and her pink eyes are sharp. "One curse, coming up!"

With Jupiter there, she's careful, tracing a black-glowing rune of ruin with her fingers, holding the staff in the other hand. "I can do this one in my sleep," she murmurs, and points through it--which launches a black-green projectile straight for the Uzaina, to sap its strength in preparation for the other attacks. "There!"

COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora has joined the combo started by Eri Shimanouchi!
<Pose Tracker> Kuniko Saito [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

She is slower to appear, but the Poissonnier is on the case - moving among the plum trees, she has been preparing things, hanging back just a bit perhaps to get herself fully in position. Or prepared.

And there is no fish in this percolator.

"Sailor Jupiter!" she calls.

"Lost Ivy!" she calls.

"... uh... Shimanouchi...?" she calls, with dawning surprise.

Three cups of perfectly pulled espresso topped with a touch of foam art (the Jupiter glyph, a doodle of a sprig of ivy, and 'shimanouchi' in clumsy katakana) fly through the air, landing in the hands of those who fight for justice. "Don't hesitate. Drink it down! And as for you -- anyone who's messing with fruit is my enemy!"

Kuniko slams metal pan against some hidden counter with a ringing gongggg echo, pointing a long knife up towards the Uzaina! Down, perhaps. She's sweating. This is pretty chaotic.

COMBAT: Kuniko Saito transforms into Poissonnier Kuniko!
COMBAT: Kuniko Saito has used Espresso Service on Eri Shimanouchi.
COMBAT: Kuniko Saito has used Espresso Service on Yumi Ohzora.
COMBAT: Kuniko Saito has used Espresso Service on Sailor Jupiter.
COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi accepts Kuniko Saito's Espresso Service, taking 0 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter accepts Kuniko Saito's Espresso Service, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Jupiter is Cheered!
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora accepts Kuniko Saito's Espresso Service, taking 0 Fatigue damage!
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The large Dark Fall Lieutenant leaps away, and Lancelot looks like he's ready to leap after the big guy, when the ground suddenly shakes and there is a spidery mess of dark and evil erupting form the ground. He spins in place and moves to bring his blades to intercept the incoming attack, but is instead hammered by the needle thin branches. They slam into the Knight and it lifts him from the ground and then slams back down in a crunch of armor. He skids in the mud on his side and then rolls to a stop next to Eri. "Okay. Ow. My plan - ow - Did not work. You're turn to come up with one ... "

Which she does. Who knew she was so quick on her feet?

Lancelot takes the offered hand and gets pulled to his feet. He nods to Eri and looks to the Dead Wood Spider (That's what he's calling it now), and says evenly, "Got it. Going left!" And he then, goes right. He runs at full speed to the right of the creature and then darts right in at it, blades flashing in rapid succession as he calls out, "BLAZING ZEPHYR!" each stroke of the twin blades erupts in thunder and sends waves of lightning as he unleashes strike after strike at impossible speeds.

COMBAT: Lancelot has joined the combo started by Eri Shimanouchi!
COMBAT: COMBO! Eri Shimanouchi, Yumi Ohzora, and Lancelot have used Combo: Plant-Themed Magical Girls +Knight Escort's
Electrifying Combination!, composed of Jubokko's Sanguine Roots, Weakness Hex, and Blazing Zephyr, on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to dodge Eri Shimanouchi, Yumi Ohzora, and Lancelot's Combo: Plant-Themed Magical Girls +Knight
Escort's Electrifying Combination!, taking 99 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Eri Shimanouchi, Yumi Ohzora, and Lancelot are
Psyched!  Stagger applied to Hotaru Tomoe!
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

The Uzaina is quickly swarmed. Sailor Jupiter crashes down from above like a falling star, while Cure Bloom gets the deadwood tarantula's attention with a fist to the side. It didn't seem to do much, but it exposes a joint on the neck that Cure Egret's leap-kick and backhand crack into mightily, sending the monster staggering back. It would keen in misery, but its voice is way too low; the most it can manage is a moan.

It doesn't even notice the curse that settles into its wood, distracted by the beatdown; but it certainly notices the results; Eri sinks her thorny claws into some legs, while Lancelot hits it from the other side, over and over.

All this momentum sends it crashing back down into the chasm from whence it came. Which gives everyone a real good reason to peer over the edge and get a better look at what's down there:


Also lots of pipes and wires, presumably for an elaborate sprinkler system. But the round stone pillars snaking horizontally through the ground, connected by the occasional staircase -- why, that's all they could possibly be. There must be a whole ancient complex down there! It just hasn't been cracked open yet, merely exposed...


The Uzaina launches upwards off of one such tunnel, and it turns into rubble. A faint scent emerges -- jasmine incense? There's no more time to consider this, because what comes up must come down, and the giant monster lands in the middle of the group, lashing out with its legs, chomping madly with its fangs, and leaving a few hardened sawdust webs in its wake just for good measure.

Karehaan throws back his head and laughs. "Yes, you're doing a great job of protecting it so far!"

Indeed, there's some dirt stuck to the Uzaina's back -- it looks like hair, but it's actually some of those fresh saplings. They bobble madly in the velocity breeze.

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Too Many Legs on Lancelot.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Dusty Webbing on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Too Many Legs on Yumi Ohzora.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Too Many Legs on Kuniko Saito.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Gnashing Fangs on Eri Shimanouchi.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Gnashing Fangs on Sailor Jupiter.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Dusty Webbing on Cure Bloom.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Dusty Webbing on Cure Egret.
COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Gnashing Fangs, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  Eri Shimanouchi's Fade ability
activates!  Eri Shimanouchi's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora narrowly counters Hotaru Tomoe's Too Many Legs, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Yumi Ohzora's Reverse ability
activates!  Yumi Ohzora's Tactician ability activates!
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora's counterattack, Witch's Mirror, partially gets through, doing 22 Fatigue damage to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Cure Egret perfectly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Dusty Webbing, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Cure Egret's Fade
ability activates!  Cure Egret's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Cure Bloom narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Dusty Webbing, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Trap applied to Cure Bloom!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji perfectly counters Hotaru Tomoe's Dusty Webbing, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Counter!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji's counterattack, Gale Arrow, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Lancelot narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Too Many Legs, taking 17 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter fails to brace Hotaru Tomoe's Gnashing Fangs, taking 35 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
<Pose Tracker> Cure Egret [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

Egret looks down the chasm -- and gasps, softly, before she quickly steps backward. The Uzaina launches up from the tunnel, a wave of jasmine incense released by its ascent, and the Pretty Cure can't even begin to puzzle that out. Karehaan's taunt is joined by weaves of sawdust webs that come all around Cure Egret. But, they never touch her -- and as they get close,a blast of silver sparkle-tinged wind throws them back as she leaps over the webs. She goes up high.

Then she twists -- and comes, twisting around, and comes at the back of the Uzaina. She sees the saplings there. Silver light whisks across her foot and shines out -- and she kicks into the back of the Uzaina, to try to dislodge the dirt.

And, maybe, the sapling.


"I will be, Choppy," Cure Egret answers calmly. She finishes a graceful kick and lands -- her left hand extended, palm held upward, and ready to catch the sapling if she knocked it free.

COMBAT: Cure Egret has used Sky Dancer's Kick on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly braces Cure Egret's Sky Dancer's Kick, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  Cure Egret is Psyched!  Hotaru
Tomoe's Block ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Parry ability activates!  Trap applied to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Kuniko Saito narrowly counters Hotaru Tomoe's Too Many Legs, taking 18 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Kuniko Saito's
Reverse ability activates!  Kuniko Saito's Tactician ability activates!
COMBAT: Kuniko Saito's counterattack, Shawarma Knife, partially gets through, doing 11 Fatigue damage to Hotaru Tomoe!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

With her head and her vision clear, the Wind Knight scrambles back to her feet, bow and quiver appearing once more. She glances down into the chasm briefy, but she's already nocking a new arrow -

"Gale Arrow!!"

- and has to do so in a *hurry* when she sees the webs being spun out all about the monster. She's fast enough and accurate enough for the winds wrapped around the flying shaft to burst through some of the webs, but the hastily-cast spell expends its force before it can do any damage to the Uzaina itself.

They really should try to slow it down, shouldn't they? Although it looks like some of the others are already making good strides on that front ... it probably won't hurt to try and reduce the Uzaina's mobility further, and given the saplings on its back, any chance to remove those might be a REALLY good idea just on general principle.

The Magic Knight of Wind turns her bow horizontal for a moment, the glove-jewel on her left hand catching the light - or possibly glowing with power - as she concentrates, then calls out, "Winds of Admonishment!!" And with that invocation, she tries to weave a cage of wind about the spidery monster, to pin it in place as best she can - or at least cut further into its ability to jump all over the place.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Admonishment on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

As it crashes back down, she calls out- "Good work you two!"

Suddenly there's a cup of espresso, and Eri mid-run catches the cup. She's sort of surprised by it, and fortunately as a magical girl has good enough balance to prevent from rocking the cup and disturbing the foam art. There's a glance taken and- "How did you manage all this on the fly?" She says in wonder. Before raising it to her lips and gulping it down rapidly as she runs by Yumi- giving her a high five on the way.

As a Puella Magi on the go with late hours- she believed coffee was her life's blood.

This was constantly under fire from the Tomoe faction Naysayers that believed Tea ought to be a Puella Magi's life blood.

A glance is offered Kuniko's way as she tosses the now empty cup up and it arcs back towards her- "Miracle worker. I swear."

But the Uzaina crashes underground and she sneaks up to the edge. "What was... down there...?" She says in complete wonder. Maybe there was an ancient shrine? But why would it be underground? But then the thing erupts out, and she light foots it around.

As it gnashes it's fangs her way, she performs a series of light-footed hops. Ending up just out of the way for all except for the last one. Where it chomps down with wooden fangs and manages to butt her hard enough to send her staggering forward- vision blurring.

What's that smell in her nostrils? It's pleasant.

More pleasant than his laughter. Gritting her teeth, "Just try and stop me."

The Puella Magi's whip lashes out in a harsh backhand, a stinging blow like that of a horse whip. Smashing into it and trying to knock it backwards. She tries to use that opening to hop up it's legs. From one length of hard wood to the other, before she straight up runs the final segment.

... and after Egret kicks, showering the gardener with soil and fertilizer. She tries to tug off one sapling, then another shifting them from her hands to tucking them under her arms- dirt and roots and all. Maybe given their size she'd be able to carry four, and that's generous.

But even one is better than none.

If she isn't dislodged by then given her perilous position, she'd try to leap off, and upon landing break into a run to get them away.

COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi has used Natural Backlash on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Leaping to the side, Lancelot narrowly avoids the larger creature but still manages to be thrown to the side where he hits the ground in another crash of armor. He pushes himself to his feet and shakes his head to clear it. "Just once. Just once. I want to fight a cake." He spins his blades and looks at the creature thinking on what to do.

he launches into a run and then leaps over the Dead Wood Spider to slash with his right blade as he sails over the creature high in the air as he calls out, "LIGHTNING BOOMERANG!" The slash creates a curved blast of lighting that spins toward the creature's back.

He lands in a crouch on the other side, drawing as much electricity as he can toward him. He then turns to look at the monster, ready to dart to the side, or leap back at the thing. "Eri! I think this thing is a liiiitle bit on the touch side ... "

COMBAT: Lancelot has used Lightning Boomerang on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Lost Ivy watches Eri and Lancelot forward, eyes on them and on the monster, and lets out a sharp breath as she sees them do it, sees the creature tumble on backwards, and Yumi glances at the others helping too.

What surprises her is Kuniko calling out to her, and a perfect cup appears in her hand. "Oh! You put a little ivy in it..." Yumi could use the energy, though she's distracted by this fight, by the danger. But the high-five is hardly distracting. We did it!" to Eri. She lifts her cup after that. It's delicious; she manages to drink it all at once, and lets the cup fade as she finishes her walk towards the chasm. "Thank you!" she calls.

That smell...? It's lovely, but why? And what is with these--

"Uh? That's... not good," Yumi says, looking up towards the Uzaina in some alarm. But it's not like she's going to move fast enough to get out of the way. "Aaah!" It's coming down and she traces another symbol, this time much faster, glowing black--and then the leg slices through the rune, turning into blazing green that draws down the force of the attack away from her and turns into a green beam launched straight back at the creature's body. "Take that! ...Ow..."

It still hit her, after all.

But she can't ignore what's happening. Egret's moving for the sapling and her heart catches in her chest, and then Eri the same. Wht should she do? Well...

She takes her staff up and lets a purification symbol shape in green before her, before she lifts her staff above it and points it to the Uzaina. She traces carefully, with great concentration, almost as if guided by an unseen force.

The orb atop her staff glows brilliantly, and from it rockets a crashing beam of white-tinged green power, set to catch dark force alight with green flames.

COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora has used Sacred Ray on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Jupiter [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Huh? Where'd that spider-thing go? Jupiter hurries over to the hole it falls down into, but there's just a tunnel... so when it bursts up, sawing through saplings on the way up, she's caught completely by surprised. The treeantula smashes into her back, sending her screaming across the grove, and she lands hard against the earth. A moment later, she forces herself up, teeth grit in pain. Karehaan mocks them, and she sees the little fibers on the treeantula--the saplings they'd planted.

Jupiter's eyes widen. "No!!" she gasps, then shoves herself back onto her feet. She catches Eri's long gaze for only a brief second, but she's willing to accept a truce right now. This... is completely unacceptable!!

Catching a cup of espresso from Kuniko, Jupiter gulps down the hot beverage, letting it warm her from the inside out and fill her with strength. "All right!!" she calls, clenching a fist as the coffee energizes her spirit. The rod emerges from her tiara, and lightning cracks down and splinters all around her, arms crossed in front of her with pinky and index fingers out as her ponytail begins to float. "We won't let you rampage any further! We WILL stop you here!" she calls. "SUPREME..." The bolts coalesce in front of her, and she lashes her arms out, sending them to shoot straight for the treeantula. "THUNDER!!"

COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter has used Supreme Thunder! on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Cure Bloom [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

Cure Bloom comes back down with a burst of light, as always. She breathes, briefly, taking stock. It tumbles down soon after, barraged down by all the power thrown against it! And the result is: Tunnels?! Bloom leans over and tips her head at it. "I think I've seen this movie!" she calls, excitedly; which is soon interrupted when the Uzaina comes back. Bloom dashes back quickly, but a web still grabs her leg, binding her in horrible calcified whatever that is. Saki whines a little.

But she also sees the little saplings, clinging to life...Her hand balls together again, and she pushes off - covering distance up toward the spider's underbelly with a mote of light glowing on her finger! She jabs it forward, just tapping the underside, and leaving that mote behind as she sails clear over the gap...

And a moment later it EXPLODES, hopefully staggering the beast for others to go smash the thing up! And rescue saplings and stuff!

As she comes down, Cure Bloom finds herself wondering, "What's that smell...?"

"Bloom-lapi! Focus-lapi! Those are my little siblings-lapi!!"

"Since when are trees your little siblings?" Bloom finds herself asking the fairy on her belt, somewhat incredulous.

COMBAT: Cure Bloom has used Petal Seed on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Kuniko Saito [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Kuniko approaches the edge of the Abyss and peers down. "... huh," Kuniko says, but then:


As those legs lash forwards, Kuniko twists. And she already had that blade in her hand, and so it is not so hard to understand why there is a shining clash of steel against leg with a majestic SHHHING--

And then Kuniko goes tumbling because she is not a swordswoman and also she is way smaller than the creature. "Guh!"

She wipes the knife on cloth, then twists it in the air, as if scooping out something... And 'something' is revealed to be an intense red paste, almost radioactively so. With a slap of her wrist she tosses the pepper paste upwards, aiming it at the creature's head as she calls out, "Can we get it to move?! Like out to --"

Kuniko's mental map draws itself. THAT way, is like, 'the city,' and the OTHER way are like, the children.

"Crap," she mutters to herself.

COMBAT: Kuniko Saito has used Harissa Pepper on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe perfectly dodges Lancelot's Lightning Boomerang, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly braces Fuu Hououji's Winds of Admonishment, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji is Psyched!
Hotaru Tomoe's Block ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Parry ability activates!  Cripple and Trap applied to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to dodge Yumi Ohzora's Sacred Ray, taking 22 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly braces Eri Shimanouchi's Natural Backlash, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Eri Shimanouchi is Psyched!
Hotaru Tomoe's Block ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Parry ability activates!  Cripple and Stun applied to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to dodge Sailor Jupiter's Supreme Thunder!, taking 50 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly dodges Cure Bloom's Petal Seed, taking 28 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly braces Kuniko Saito's Harissa Pepper, taking 2 Fatigue damage!  Hotaru Tomoe's Block ability
activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Parry ability activates!  Diversion and Stagger applied to Hotaru Tomoe!
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

Cure Egret and Eri adopt a sapling rescue mission; the former is more successful than the latter, but only because Eri's harsh backhanding whip stunned it at just the right moment for Egret to get away cleanly.

The rest continue to dangle wildly, and whip back and forth even as the Uzaina tries to grab each girl in a claw and slam them into each other.

That's around the time that Lancelot's lightning soars right over its head (which is impressive, that head is way up in the air!); it shifts its weight onto its back legs to tear out of the worst of Fuu's whirlwind, then launches more of those webs out of its spinnerets, right at the Knight's face.

This is interrupted by the detonation of Cure Bloom's underbelly explosion -- it leaps (slowed by those frustrating winds), riding the blast wave, and looks so cool... until Yumi's purification ray hits it in the side, "Uzaiii--!" and Sailor Jupiter's thunder comes down and wholesale electrocues it, white skeleton, black body and all, "--naaaaa......."

Smoke rises.

Kuniko's pepper paste lands squarely in its mouth.

...more smoke rises.

Its jaw gapes.



Even with the forest very thin, with huge gaps between the baby trees, this could become a real conflagration... especially given all that freshly spread fertilizer.


But instead something unexpected happens, something possibly even more unexpected than the dead wood monster breathing flame: spirals of vivacious green, sparkling in individual motes not too differently from Bloom and Egret's magical auras, criss-cross the tunnel complex like emergent Victorian lace.

Then they diverge outwards in a complex arcane sigil -- they flare -- and every fire is instantly extinguished.

"????" says the Uzaina.

"...aha," mutters Karehaan... and vanishes himself away in a cloud of purple leaves.

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Squeeze Play on Cure Egret.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Squeeze Play on Eri Shimanouchi.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Dusty Webbing on Lancelot.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Fire Breathing Tree Monster Hax on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Fire Breathing Tree Monster Hax on Yumi Ohzora.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Fire Breathing Tree Monster Hax on Kuniko Saito.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Fire Breathing Tree Monster Hax on Sailor Jupiter.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Fire Breathing Tree Monster Hax on Cure Bloom.
COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Squeeze Play, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Eri Shimanouchi's Block ability
activates!  Eri Shimanouchi's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora fails to brace Hotaru Tomoe's Fire Breathing Tree Monster Hax, taking 32 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
COMBAT: Cure Egret narrowly counters Hotaru Tomoe's Squeeze Play, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Cure Egret's Reverse ability
activates!  Tangle and Trap applied to Cure Egret!
COMBAT: Cure Egret's counterattack, Light of Feathers, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Cure Bloom fails to counter Hotaru Tomoe's Fire Breathing Tree Monster Hax, taking 23 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Cure Bloom's counterattack, Petal Flash, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji perfectly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Fire Breathing Tree Monster Hax, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Brace!
Fuu Hououji's Block ability activates!  Fuu Hououji's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Lancelot perfectly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Dusty Webbing, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Brace!  Lancelot's Block
ability activates!  Lancelot's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Kuniko Saito narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Fire Breathing Tree Monster Hax, taking 13 Fatigue damage!  Kuniko Saito's
Block ability activates!  Kuniko Saito's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter fails to brace Hotaru Tomoe's Fire Breathing Tree Monster Hax, taking 23 Fatigue damage!
<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"You think!?" She replies to Lancelot. Caught mid-rescue by a claw, she is unable to grab even a single tree. With her leg caught within it's claws, she uses her other foot to kick it repeatedly, before raising her whip. And that's when it slams her into Cure Egret hard. "Guh! Sorry!"

And then again- though this time she's more ready for it and puts a palm out in time to hit her feathers of light, "Mmph-Sorry! Blame the monster!" Though the second impact frees her foot free from it's grasping claws.

Sent spiralling through the air and momentarily dazed, she recuperates just quickly enough to right herself and turn herself around to land heavily on feet, skidding across the dirt. She pats the side of her head where she struck Egret. And that's when she sees smoke rising, "No way-" Which is when a pepper lands in it's mouth. And it's jaw opens and-

She realizes the danger, "No! Everyone stop it! We need to stop it r-"

Which is when spirals of life-giving sparkling green extinguish flame everywhere. "What just- How did-..." Her eyes look upon Bloom and Egret in wonder- how similar the light was to their auras. Did they do that? Why did Karehaan vanish.

Taking a deep breath, she shakes out her arms, "Well whatever you did, it bought us time." She knows without a doubt the Pretty Cure are needed to restore this properly but... she'd do her best to give them more time too.

Upon the back of her clothing grows a quartet of vines from each side- each as thick as sapling trunks on their own, the smell in her immediate vicinity becoming like that of jasmine incense before the rain comes. Flexing and coiling at her commands. They then lash outward in sequence, as fast as any whip wielded by a hand. Striking, then coiling back.

Two, then two. Then four and four. Then so rapidly that the sequence is no longer discernible. Just the results of the beating

When you break it down, it's far too simple a strategy, with no elegance- only savagery intended to overwhelm. An octet of wrath that she attempts to have hit here and there, and everywhere. Numerous hits, more than counting- perhaps more than most eyes can follow- trying to beat it back.

Now she just had to count on Pretty Cure to do what they do best.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Eri Shimanouchi has used Wrath of the Kodama on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The gleaming white blades of Arondight slash and intercept the incoming dead spider webs that are shot at him. He lands in a crouch and looks up at the thing and holds his baldes to the side, all that power he has been gathering begins to flash on the twin blades. The excess lightning begins to swirl around him, crackling and crashing into each other. Creating a swirling thunderstorm around him that picks up fallen leaves and other smaller detris and swirls around the Knight of the Round Table.

He draws both blades together in an X before him and says "Anima ~" Drawing the word out into a long single word in that single breath. The lightning begins to pick up pace around him. Swirling and crashing and giving off small peels of thunder. The power collects on the baldes, and in his arms, and he begins to gather so much of the power that the windstorm form the mving lighting whips his hair about around him. The lightning begins to drip, literally, drip form his eyes, even as the bolts of lightning strike the ground around him. Searching for a release.

When he finally can't hold the power back anymore he brings the blades forward and points them at the Dead Tree Spider. The power between the blades releases with a cry of, "TEMPESTAS!" The power that is unleashed is that of a massive blast of lighting. It is not jsut one giant bolt however, it is thousands of bolts of lighting released at once, and directed at one target. The bolts on the fringe of that swirling beam of lighting lash out in random directions. Each botl of lighting letting loose with a massive explosion of thunder that shakes the very ground.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Lancelot has used Anima Tempestas on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

The sight of the Uzaina's mouth ready to spout fire nearly causes the Wind Knight to panic outright. Not entirely because of the fire hazards all around them - the saplings, the fertilizer; even with the dreary conditions, it wouldn't take much to kindle a serious blaze - but with the fact that a monster which seems to have a body made of *wood* seems like it might be able to use *fire attacks*.

Seriously. That should be illegal.

The borderline freak-out moment causes the Wind Knight to conjure a barrier of wind about herself, ready to try and divert the flames up into the empty sky if they should come near her - and the flames which *do* reach for her are indeed blown vertically off-course ... but the enactment of somebody else's magic also makes sure that she doesn't have to test the barrier to its limits. So while the Wind Knight is a little confused, she's also a LOT relieved.

She swiftly draws back another arrow, turning her body and shuffling her feet to assume a proper archer's stance before she sights along the arrow's length. If the Uzaina has a fire in its belly, or a source of power which allows it to break elemental-affinity rules, then an arrow down its gullet might do some good ...

It takes a few moments for the shot to present itself, but she's patient - almost bizarrely serene given the chaos of battle around her - and when she sees the opening, her arrow flies on the instant.

If only it's quick *enough* ...

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Trick Arrow Shot on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Kuniko Saito [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"I don't know what I expected," Kuniko says when fire bursts outwards and then washes downwards; she tucks down, and her outfit...

Well, it is the nature of a chef to resist fire, to endure the transformative power of flame. It is a magic woven in Mise-en-place, and now in her garb. So that takes a lot of the blistery/singey edge off. The crushing breathlessness and pressure, though, that's its own problem.

Kuniko staggers upright - "Alright," she breathes. "You've taken your best shot."

In her hand, clenched tight, are three skewers. Fish dipped in yogurt sauce glisten on each of them, the yogurt sauce having caramelized into a delicate filligree on the scales. The bones roasted, Kuniko raises the trio to her mouth and bites into one. "Now it's my turn..."

The flames are rising-- and then they're extinguished with green. Kuniko's head turns, quizzically, before she snaps her hand forwards and sends the remaining two fully-armed piscine projectiles forth, a delicious service. Can the pure and exalted taste of sea and milk overcome the dark tang of the cursed earth? (or... whatever the uzaina is - Kuniko is not sure here)

COMBAT: Kuniko Saito has used Yogurt Fish Kebabs on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"Look out!" Yumi calls in worry at Eri as she's hit by the Uzaina's claws, though it's not in time to help. Besides, she has her own problems in short order, hit so hard through her attempt to brace that she skids along the grass and rolls back almost on top of one of the saplings, coughing. It's hard to stand for a moment, as dazed as she is, and she thinks she'll feel that one later. ....She'll totally feel it now.

The Witch will just have to do the best she can otherwise, and it's so fierce here.

Her beam cuts out and she watches Jupiter's thunder, staring for a moment. "Wow..." It has to be gone, right? It has to be done. There's no way.

...Is that smoke?

Kuniko's pepper pat catches her attention but the fire causes her eyes to widen in alarm. "Ivy!" the cat hisses from the distance, "You can't let it--"

Green magic rolls out, beautiful and wondrous, and Yumi's eyes widen to see it move, to see the incredible sigil placed and all the individual motes. "It's beautiful..."

"...Don't get distracted!" Tama calls to Yumi, and eyes the monster to make sure she's nowhere near it.

Yumi watches the guy leave. But they're all moving, they're all doig something, and she has to do the same. "I won't you down," she breathes, and sticks her staff in the ground. She starts tracing before her, multiple places at once, as quickly as she can in black-lined green. "Wrath of forgotten spirits," she intones, "Dark Radiance!"

Each rune bursts into a green beam crashing towards her foe, all the width of her hand crashing forward like waves.

COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora has used Dark Radiance on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Cure Bloom [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

Cure Bloom hits the ground on the far side, twists around to watch, and -- oh. Oh fire seems bad.

She's swiftly proven right in this assessment by Eri hollering for everyone to put out the flames, but with what! She has earth powers! And not like cool Earthbending earth powers! They're more, punchy. She can punch the fire?? She's in the middle of processing this thought when light emerges - shining around them, familiar glimmering sparks, like the spirits of earth and sky that form Bloom and Egret's powers. "What--" Bloom breathes, awestruck by the power - the complex pattern they forge, and the instant dissolution of flame.

"It couldn't be-lapi..." Flappy murmurs, some straining, faint hope in his heart. Cure Bloom, for her part, can only stare - until her eyes cut to the side, seeing Karehaan depart. He always leaves before they can turn their attention on him. Her nose crinkles, annoyed.

Cure Egret shakes her head quickly at Eri. "It's fine!" she says, though she can't afford her usual reassurance. She catches the sapling in her hand, then puts it down gently. She lets out a soft sigh, and then looks up.


She is, it seems, just as confused as Bloom and Eri about the green flame from the Uzaina -- and just as concerned by Karehaan's disappearance. Her eyes narrow.

Bloom glances to Egret and nods. No words, no final rebukes for a reeling Uzaina; she extends her hand to her friend, and turns to face the beast. It's time. There isn't any hesitation on Egret's part. She clasps her friend's hand, looking back towards the Uzaina with fire in her eyes.

The sky above lights up, and the tunnels below illume with a new, different light. Bloom thrusts her hand forward -- "O, Spirits of the Earth..." -- and Egret holds hers aloft -- "O, Spirits of the Sky..." -- and from above and below come a flowing silver and gold rush of those spiritual motes, beads of silver and golden light, washing down across the two Splash Star Pretty Cures. Both close their eyes as they speak.

"Now, together with Pretty Cure..." "Release the power of miracles!"

They release their hands. Bloom draws the right half with her hand, fist moving through the motes of light. Egret draws the left, her hand outstretched. The result is a swirl of light that flickers into a heart shape, before they glow and gather in both girls' hands. Then, they bring them together, and the glow only intensifies.

"Pretty Cure..."

The light turns into two swirling, pulsing globes of holy waters, moving with the hint of a wave-like motion that reveals it as more than energy. Each sphere pulses, two worldly heartbeats in tandem with two Pretty Cure souls.

"Twin Stream..."

They throw their arms forward, open palms crashing against the gathered powers, and the two spheres break! Like oceans in two bottles the two streams roar forth, a pair of beams of water, high-powered and high-pressure; silver and gold swirl together and entwine, crashing into the hardened bark of that Uzaina, washing away its poisoned energies in the sanctified water of the Sacred Fountains. Two voices rise above it, as the Uzaina vanishes behind an impossible tide of waters:


COMBAT: FINISHER! Cure Bloom has started a combo targeting Hotaru Tomoe!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Jupiter [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Smoke rises from the Uzaina--but greenery surrounds it before those flames can do any harm to the grove. Sailor Jupiter has no idea what that was about, but she's not about to look a gift horse in the mouth, even if she herself got blasted right in the face with those flames, leaving behind a charred and widely, comedically blinking Jupiter. She shakes off the soot, hissing in pain as the inflaming on her skin makes her extra-sensitive to the pain. Better than feeling nothing at all, though--she knows enough from all her study sessions with Ami and the others that that would mean her nerves are dead: a very bad thing indeed.

"Thanks, whoever did that!" she calls to the air--she's not *sure* who was responsible, but it had to have been one of them, right? As for Karehaan leaving, well, that's a *good* thing in her eyes. He better run! For now, though, as the other magical girls present unleash their full powers... Well, Jupiter came in a little late, so it's perhaps understandable that she hasn't got the juice yet for that. But there's other things she can do. Such as:

"FLOWER..." She spins, rose petals materializing all around her in a vast and mighty whirlwind, until suddenly she snaps to a halt, arms held out to her side, and sends those petals hurtling forward to stick to every open bit of that treeantula--and possibly protect what remains of the saplings. "--HURRICANE!!"

COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter has used Flower Hurricane on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to dodge Fuu Hououji's Trick Arrow Shot, taking 18 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly braces Kuniko Saito's Yogurt Fish Kebabs, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Kuniko Saito is Psyched!  Hotaru
Tomoe's Block ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to brace Yumi Ohzora's Dark Radiance, taking 37 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe perfectly braces Sailor Jupiter's Flower Hurricane, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Brace!  Hotaru Tomoe's
Block ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to brace Eri Shimanouchi's Finisher, Wrath of the Kodama, taking 132 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to brace Lancelot's Finisher, Anima Tempestas, taking 133 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: FINISHER! Cure Egret has joined the combo started by Cure Bloom!
COMBAT: COMBO! FINISHER! Cure Bloom and Cure Egret have used Pretty Cure Twin Stream Splash on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to brace Cure Bloom and Cure Egret's Finisher, Combo: Pretty Cure Twin Stream Splash, taking 195
Fatigue damage!  Hotaru Tomoe is unable to keep fighting!
COMBAT: Cure Bloom is unable to keep fighting!
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

With Karehaan gone, the Uzaina doesn't have much of a prayer. Momentarily paused chewing on yogurt kebabs (and an arrow, launched cleanly down there at the same moment that it gaped its mouth wide to get the food), flower petals and a beam of dark radiance transfix it from either side.

That's when endless strikes from vines and lightning close in.

But it's still not enough; inch by inch the Uzaina pushes back. Claws dig into the broken ground. Webs begin to spray everywhere, making it harder to keep up the assault. Any second now, the monster will launch into the air, and--


And the whole world is water. The strength of the Land of Fountains, the overflowing of two hearts. Weakened, surrounded; the Uzaina has nowhere to run or hide.

It is, in short order, washed away. And wood spirits explode out of it, soaring joyfully in all directions, even as a glistening pearl of power soars through the air, falling downwards to hover near Pretty Cure.

Where the sparkles flow past, healing follows; the ground is stitched up, the tunnels vanished, the saplings all restored to their places.

And as bits of green flow into the tiny trees, they all strain towards the gray -- bluing -- sky... and grow.

Just an inch.

From the ground, Kaoruko coughs.

"Well done, everyone," she murmurs. "Well done, Pretty Cure."

It takes far too much effort for her to get to her knees, and then, unsteadily, to her feet, but she manages it.

She glances down at the ground, where that sigil spread, then up at the group.

"We have much to discuss," she observes with a sigh and an arch smile that lives entirely in her eyes. "Come visit me in my greenhouse some time. Bring friends."

And then a mysterious hot guy emerges from nowhere, mask concealing, cape flowing -- he picks her up, and leaps away.