2017-07-21 - The Golden Queen of Shibuya

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Title: The Golden Queen of Shibuya

The Chevaliers cannot allow the death of the innocent Hotaru Tomoe. The Shepherds cannot allow the world to end for the sake of her life. This intractable issue has shattered the truce they enjoyed during winter break, and war is renewed.

Mami Tomoe, coleader of the Chevaliers, is Tokyo's longest-surviving and most prominent Puella Magi. She controls its richest territory with the steady hand of experience and the assistance of her kouhai Sayaka Miki. But she has a weakness--her ethical Witch-farming leaves her constantly low on grief seeds. In preparation for the impending final battle, the Shepherds have decided to force her to expend as many of them as possible...


Chevaliers: Mami Tomoe, Sayaka Miki, Nori Ankou, Garnet, and Madoka Kaname; Shepherds: Eri Shimanouchi, Mikoto Minagi, Setsuna Meioh, and Kasagami Araki


Shibuya Shopping Ward

OOC - IC Date:

Fri July 21, 2017 / Wed Feb 4, 2015

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

Shibuya, a ward that to many emblemizes the big city off Tokyo, with dizzying buildings and great stores. Shops, restaurants, landmarks... All are here. There are students hanging around the Underground, others climbing up the 109, older folks as well moving about the great crosswalks. To many it's hard to parse, hard to make sense of, with all of this here and even more to have. But at night there are side streets, cafes, and of course clubs. This doesn't even take into account the smaller places on the outskierts.

Mami Tomoe knows Shibuya well. Where she is now is far from the biggest friendly landmarks, in more ways than one. It's near the station, but out away from the most crowded points, in dimmer places with stores not currently held by others. But in another way, it's far because of the horror involved, what was there moments ago.

What is only fading now. Mami Tomoe lets the Labyrinth fade around her and those wth her, partner yes but they're all Chvaliers. There's a huff from Mami as she sips at her tea, the cup fading as she steps forward to the Grief Seed sitting gleaming on the floor.

"You're all very good at this now," Mami says with a smile at her Chevaliers. "Though it seems there are more than usual just now..."

It's still fading. Mami's golden hair bounces in the dim light, and /this/, for better or worse, is her realm. She could say where's just around the corner and for some distance beyond, all from memory.

The black swirls start fading the rest of the way...

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

"I feel like these places could be beautiful, if they weren't the lairs of such awful creatures," says the penetrant if soft voice of la Sirene de Diamant, her arms folded lightly as she leans against a concrete pillar.

"I suppose that's an odd thing to say. Phew..."

She draws out a black silk handkerchief from the pocket in her dress (of course there's a pocket, in fact there are two.) She wipes her pale brow, looking with her pale eyes down the nearby street for a moment, as if to see if gunmen are coming. But they aren't.

"I think I see what you mean, cousin," squeaks Batiste, who /did/ come along for this moment. He is leaning against la Sirene's leg, because he too is pancaked, if unharmed. "It's like... the streets in the capital..."

"How is it like Desolation Row?" la Sirene asks Batiste, looking down.

After about five seconds of thought, Batiste says, "Well... alright; it is not like the streets in the capital..."

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

"We really appreciate the help with the Witches! Grief Seeds are tight lately."

Sayaka steps past Mami and pauses midstep, knee out, sword over her shoulder, head lolled back to look over at the other Chevaliers past Mami's back. Nowadays she's so used to doing cool poses in combat with her senpai that she makes suspiciously well-composed shots with Mami even in day to day life.

"They're okay," Sayaka tells La Sirene, a little distantly. Her right hand tightens unconsciously on the grip of her sword.

"How you doing Garnet?" Sayaka says, perking up with a shake of her head. "Are you still at Full Punch Charge? I think maybe Mami-senpai should go home and rest, but I'd like to hunt a little longer."

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> The Dangling Conversation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nntOYUODSV0

Madoka has spent the days since The Throw Her Best Friend Into Tokyo Bay Incident (some people have noodle incidents, what is Madoka's life...) oscillating between a sort of shell-shocked silence (though behind her distant pink eyes, wheels turn) and an unforced cheerfulness (because, more than ever, she feels the need to cherish her friends).

That's enough parentheticals, other than Madoka herself in terms of her relation to the team, who isn't much of a Chevalier on her best days -- three on three plus Madoka is definitely, well, exactly that. She's sticking close to Mami and Sayaka as usual, and Kyuubey is sticking close to her as usual.

But there is no 'as usual' in a Labyrinth, not ever. Madoka's shoulders are tight and her cheeks are pinched and lips are white, all through the fight and after, too. Kyuubey is always white or else there'd be a color-change under her jagged grip.

As it fades, she looks between them, the little pink tagalong to the golden queen and white knight. As it fades, she goes from being an abnormally normal presence to the only one really fitting in on the streets of Shibuya.

But the only place she wants to fit in isn't a place. Maybe she does; maybe she always has; right now she feels tentative at the same time that she feels totally at home. Like the first night in your bedroom in a new house.

A leather strap slides over her shoulder; she rolls her weight to get the bag swung easily forward, and a thermos emerges.

"Um, would anyone like some more tea? And I have cookies..."

Soul Gems eating Grief Seeds or no, girls have needs.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet stands behind, taking a rest from their hard fought victory. The witches were a horror she is adjusting to slowly but surely. The results however, are always worth it. A being of great suffering, (both its own, she assumes, she's met very few monsters that are happy themselves, was there a Nakewameke that was ever just thrilled to be alive? Is Nakewameke a cheer of self-assertion? These are thoughts for later perhaps...) and the suffering it inflicts on the world) is put to rest, and in exchange the power of the Chevalier Co-leaders burns brighter, so that may continue to eradicate threats to the people of Tokyo.

Garnet hopes that when this war is settled, and it no longer takes it toll in magic, that with the Chevaliers help Mami and Sayaka will no longer have to bear alone the burdens and stresses of scarcity. That there can be periods where of time where the witches are gone, and ...

The Gem's deep thoughts are interrupted, by Sayaka's eager question, and Garnet welcomes the break from her own mind. These events have taken a lot of her mind and time, much more than she'd like, but she knows it's for the best.

"Yes I am." she replies. It's true, as far as labyrinths go, that was a relatively successful one, and she had managed to evade major damage. That itself welcome after the fight with the Wolkenritter, which... didn't go as well... to say the least.

Garnet's expression at Sayaka's suggestion of Mami's retirement for the night changes almost imperceptibly, a ghost of a tic of anxiety?

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

Batiste immediately raises a paw at the offer of cookies.

La Sirene sweeps her hair back with one hand and smiles at Madoka. It is a look that brings 'her' into more clarity rather than the spooky oddly-lit figure she so often appears to be. "I would also like some tea... it's very well travelled, now, isn't it?"

"I wouldn't mind another," La Sirene says then. "It's taking my mind off of things..."

Batiste's paw remains up. He ain't lowering it until he gets a cookie.

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> My Violent Heart - Nine Inch Nails(All Credit to Sailor Pluto's Player) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqRk5kXROS4

With crossed arms, she'd sat and waited in patience. A gloved finger tapping upon her opposite elbow. Until she hears the Chevaliers emerge until she hears them speak for a few seconds. The night air is chilly, but hardly as chilling as what follows, started by a question which sounds almost flippant. "Is that so?" And that's when a Green Puella Magi steps out of cover from around a storefront- on the side of which is an advertisement for Akamira featuring Nori Ankou.

Sailor Pluto, Mikoto Minagi and Kasagami Araki step out beside her. The wind blows through their hair- and it's like time slows down for a moment just to accentuate their movements. Perhaps in service of the emerald haired Guardian with them. They take a few steps towards the group then stop at the same time.

The Green Puella Magi causes a coiled lash to appear into being like some magician's trick of it appearing out of one's sleeve.

"They're about to get so much more scarce Miki-san. I'd ask if you saved up for the coming drought but... we all know better." Her gaze sweeps from one Chevalier to the next. One after the other, though she tries to avoid looking at her pink haired friend who told her she needed to stop- "Whatever happens next. You brought this upon yourselves." And then finally landing upon the Puella Magi in blue her lip curling in disdain, "You won't accept anything other than an uncompromised victory? Now we won't accept anything but an unconditional surrender."

With that she raises a hand in a commanding gesture. "All Shepherds-" She lowers it down. "-attack Sayaka Miki! Don't hold back! She's splendidly suited to taking your best and more." There's an echo of Kyubey's words there that might strike a touch close to home to the others.

You are all splendidly suited to that task now. If I had not helped you in such a manner... I assure you all, you would have already been slain in battle.

The green Puella Magi draws her opposite arm back, her hand gripping those loops of her scourge. And then suddenly her eyes shift upon the Golden Haired Veteran. Taking a step forward, she flicks her wrist and a trio tendrils snap towards Mami instead, all aiming at wrapping around seperate limbs- or a torso.

The look is chilling as she attempts to drag her off of her feet- and pivots to yank her right towards her into the waiting swords of a warrior-princess born and a crimson duelist. Into the line of fire of a wrathful demigod of time.

She'd discussed it with the Shepherds beforehand. No matter /who/ she says to hurt- bring the Golden Queen of Shibuya down instead.

"Take her down /fast/ then retreat! Show them there's no such thing as fairness on a battlefield!"

It might become quickly clear what's really going on. The Chevaliers are more limited in Grief Seeds- and Sayaka Miki heals quite efficiently. Her senpai however does not.

	She doesn't at all.

By taking Mami down, she's forcing them to hemorrhage their limited resources towards keeping her alive. That is- if she survives.

COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi has used Moidon's Grasp on Mami Tomoe.
COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Garnet covers Mami Tomoe for Eri Shimanouchi's attack, Moidon's Grasp, taking it upon themselves instead!
COMBAT: Garnet fails to brace Eri Shimanouchi's Moidon's Grasp, taking 32 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Tangle applied to Garnet!

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

Mikoto's hair is short, but she has two thin braids which frame her face, and they whip about her, caught up in the breeze. She is small, but her steps are purposeful, and her golden eyes almost seem to glow with intensity. When she stops, she levels that glare at Sayaka Miki.

Her sword is a Chevalier's - and how suitable it is that she'd hold it so effortlessly on her shoulder, as if it were a part of her, light and effortless. As Eri gives her speech, commands them to strike the bluebird down, Mikoto swings her bag around. The zipper comes down in one smooth motion, and Miroku comes out, its pack returned to her back as her hands curl around its weighty haft.

Miroku is not light, and Miroku is not effortless. Miroku is black as sin, not the calming darkness of la Sirene but an all-consuming void, broken up only by the grey-bordered-red slit along its middle. It hangs heavy in her hands, at least as long across as she is tall, and her muscles knot together as she prepares to strike -

- green whips forward, wrapping red instead of gold as Garnet steps in with alarming prescience. Uncaring, Mikoto springs into action, a feral yell ripping from her throat as she charges right into the midst of the Chevaliers. She spares no thought towards leaping into the lion's den; she has been charged to cut down Mami Tomoe, and cut down Mami Tomoe she must.

She leaps, her sword swinging down in an overhead strike, searching for the ground via Mami's middle point.

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi transforms into HiME Mikoto!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Dauntlessness on Mami Tomoe.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has finished attacking.
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant covers Mami Tomoe for Mikoto Minagi's attack, Obsidian Blade: Dauntlessness, taking it upon herself instead!
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant fails to brace Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Dauntlessness, taking 43 Fatigue damage!  Mikoto Minagi is Psyched!

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

Kasagami Araki had to prepare for this. Not that she isn't ever itching for a fight! But Eri's tactics still irk the heart of the Duelist who would be King. They make utter sense for the kind of shadow war that they're all waging, but she still can't help but bristle just a bit. Yet, her loyalty at least is assured: with so many in the Shepherds she's come to care for, it's less out of their mission and more for the people involved that she's carrying the weight of it.

And so, she pauses, as their leader speaks, and Kasagami grins widely and proudly. Her sword is in her right hand, while the left raises to the side to taunt the group at arge.

"And to think. We could've all had a nice, lovely little truce, but no, that wasn't good enough, was it? You Chevaliers don't know when to quit. And you know? I actually like that. Respect that, even. Because that means we all get to revel in conflict and wild desires! Come here little Blue Haired Knight, let's see if your swords are still sharp!" Calls out Kasagami, gaze burning into Sayaka Miki's!

And then, she leaps for the air, in a graceful arc right towards a certain Blue-haired Puella! But when that scourge of the emerald Puella lashes out, towards Mami? Her boot kicks the air right onto a small dusting of roses. Her back arches like some sort of cat, sword in both of her hands as she reverses direction in a mid-air twist that would make less dextrous andQ athletic magical girls put their back and hips out. That sword is leaving it's sheath as she lands, completing it with a single foot forward as she swings wide with her sword, aiming to smash straight into Mami's midsection, putting weight and momentum into it!

Not quite a batter's swing, but Kasagami Araki is definitely trying to knock Mami out of the park as her fellow Shepherds pile on. Garnet might have stopped Eri's pitch, but they're not out yet!

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Rose Flash on Mami Tomoe.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has finished attacking.

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

Steady as a metronome, implacable as the advance of time, she comes. Each bootheel strikes a sharp sound from the pavement; even the echoes overlap with clockwork precision, so the ticking of phantom second hands reaches the ears of all. Even as they flicker ruddy light across the fine planes of Sailor Pluto's face, the currents within the Garnet Orb churn and flare.

The storm is also in her eyes. The Soldier of the Underworld gives each of their enemies a long, hard look. Madoka is skipped -- it is as if the statuesque senshi would rather not see the girl there.

"If you think we will stop at /anything/ you are wrong. If we fall, the world falls, and you all die either way." Glittering and smooth and bereft of softness, like the gemstone whose color they so perfectly match, those eyes. "You had your chances to get out of our way. Now? We go through!"

Their leader calls out her direction and Sailor Pluto explodes into forward motion, perhaps not the opening strike those who have fought her might expect. She'll be in Mami Tomoe's face in an eyeblink, or rather, the Garnet Rod will be -- not that its titanium length is visible as more than a clockface of a blur, not until it spends that rotational energy, preferably against that most elegant of Puella Magi.

COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has used Pendulum Blitz on Mami Tomoe.
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki tries to cover Mami Tomoe for Kasagami Araki's attack, Rose Flash, but cannot get there in time!
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe narrowly counters Kasagami Araki's Rose Flash, taking 23 Fatigue damage!  Kasagami Araki is Psyched!
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe's counterattack, Tiro Retort, partially gets through, doing 16 Fatigue damage to Kasagami Araki!
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe narrowly dodges Sailor Pluto's Pendulum Blitz, taking 14 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Pluto is Psyched!  Mami Tomoe's Fade ability activates!  Mami Tomoe's Flash ability activates!

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

Mami holds the pose for a moment because of course she does, but she turns a moment after, Grief Seed in hand. "I'd love to go back to your home," Mami admits to La Sirene and Batiste, smiling to both. "There's still so much that I haven't seen there."

A dip of her head as she looks past Sayaka, "Yes, thank you." She pauses a little further at that, dipping her head and smiling faintly. "Sayaka-chan," she starts to say first, but then looks up. "I am tired, I admit. Are you sure?"

Mami looks to Madoka a moment later; she's been swet to her as best she can. "Ah, I never turn down your tea," Mami says warmly, and misses Garnet's flicker of anxiety. She does not miss what happens next, past La Sirene and her cousin wishing tea and cookies. She does not miss the arrival of a Green Puella Magi in the night air. She does not miss the three allies--Shepherds--come come along, all familiar to the Queen, all well known. Mami watches warily.

"Don't be ridiculous," Mami answers dismissively to Eri's talk of surrender. "Do you--" Attack Sayaka. That line echoes in Mami's mind, and she immediately starts to whirl on Sayaka, ribbons in her free hand as /Garnet/ jumps into the way of Eri's attacks for her. The Golden-Haired Veteran was not expecting such a deceptively simple tactic. Her face twists into a scowl. "You--!"

Eri calls out the instructions and then plan, and Mami's eyes widen. It can't be. But Mikoto and her terrifying sword crash towards Mami, causing her to step back sharply, throwing up her ribbon--until La Sirene guards for her. Mami's heart seizes. Sayaka can't move quickly enough for the next, but Mami can at least see Kasagami and Sailor Pluto coming.

"You talk too much!" Mami says sharply to Kasagami. Kasagami finds that ribbon in Mami's hand suddenly forming in spirales into a great pistol, which erupts in golden light straight for Kasagami even as Kasagami's foot hits Mami hard in the midsection. "Gh--"

Pluto had her own answer, and Mami catches her feet quickly enough to see that rod and shift such that it hits somewhere /soft/, the two attacks still more than enough to batter Mami into a display that crashes down around her. Still within the pile, she uses it for cover for a moment.

There's a blaze of golden light as she uses the Grief Seed that was in her hand, her arm battered and her stomach bruised hard as she rises to her feet with a burst of ribbon to throw off the rest.

Mami has already put away the Seed; now she strings ribbons down before herself and sets rifles like fruits on the vine, bursting into being with brilliant golden haze. "You think no one's tried this before!? You know how long I've held this territory! And back then I was alone!"

Mami aims her semicircle of weapons straight for Kasagami, firing with a deafening roar indoors like this as Mami starts to wrap more ribbon around her hands.

COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has used Tiro Circle on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki fails to dodge Mami Tomoe's Tiro Circle, taking 37 Fatigue damage!  Mami Tomoe is Psyched!

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> The Prophecy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynqZfc8ZKVQ

"We're sure," Sayaka assures Mami with a bright smile. "Garnet and I got this. We'll keep hunting then. La Sirene too, if she wants. But you should rest."

Sayaka reaches for a snack. "Thanks," she tells Madoka. She makes sure to smile at her. Madoka can tell she made sure. The horror they uncovered that night overwrote any bad feelings the sudden betrayal might have created. It erased Sayaka's resentment, but the sense that Madoka feels guilty still lies between them.

Sayaka has one of Madoka's cookies in her hand, halfway lifted to her mouth, when the Shepherds confront them. She hesitates with it where it is. The days when she would have jumped out of her skin at this sudden arrival are long gone. Much to her distaste, this conflict is starting to harden some part of her. And she's starting to expect things to go wrong.

Shaking her head, Sayaka steps forward in front of Madoka. "What's that rhyme? Eri, Eri, quite contrary..." Sayaka meets Eri's eyes coldly, and her voice grows dark with accusation. "How does your garden grow?"

Taking a big bite from the cookie, Sayaka tosses it to the side carelessly and flips up her sword with a glint. "Try it!" she challenges Kasagami with the cookie clenched in her teeth. "I haven't forgiven you anyway." But as the four deadly warriors charge, she pales. "G-garnet," she starts, but Garnet isn't coming to her aid at all. Why not?

"Mami!" Sayaka spins about as the Shepherds converge as one on her senpai. "SHIMANOUCHI!" Setting off at a run towards the real battle, Sayaka hops up onto a summoned magical circle, bounds off it like a tramponline, and slings a sword diagonally downwards at Mikoto. "Mami-senpai, stay back!"

COMBAT: Sayaka Miki has used Perfect Pitch on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi perfectly dodges Sayaka Miki's Perfect Pitch, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Critical Dodge!  Mikoto Minagi's Fade ability activates!  Mikoto Minagi's Flash ability activates!

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

"Don't worry, I have enough for everyone!"

When the Shepherds come, Madoka and La Sirene are separated solely by Batiste (on the latter side) and a cookie (by the former). Separated, and connected, as the slender wafer is bestowed upon that noble paw with all the gentle seriousness of a knighting. On her shoulder, Kyuubey squirms with jealousy until she gives him one too.

She shares an unnaturally shy smile with Sayaka, and then--

There isn't enough time to react to everything that happens. Madoka's reflexes are far from battle-honed, and she isn't splendidly crafted for war, not at all. Quite the opposite. Her wide eyes can't follow all or even most of the blurring attacks.

Her ribbon-crowned ears can hear, though, at least in the few moments before the retaliation begins, and unable as she is to follow exactly what's going on, she buys Eri's gambit hook, line, and sinker. Her eyes well with tears.

"S-Sayaka!" she shrieks, pretty darn terrified for being the only person in the station who's actually succeeded at killing the Chevaliers' captain for any length of time. "Please -- everyone --"

Everyone attacks. The various shockwaves that naturally follow explosive force knock her off balance and she teeters backwards, landing on her Ohtori-uniformed butt on the station floor. An experienced noncombatant, she wisely stays down. But also everyone helps, faster than she can even finish her plea, and it's not coincidence that the one she witnesses is La Sirene de Diamant being sorely wounded in -- in /Mami's/ place, she gradually realizes -- by the largest, slowest weapon on the battlefield, the terrifying Miroku.

She claps her hands over her mouth and gags, at La Sirene's wounds, at Mikoto's wounding. Then she looks up at them, her pink eyes piercingly present rather than distant or absent, and her little mouth opens --

-- rifles retort.

No one can hear Madoka, and afterwards, Madoka can't hear anyone, not for a little bit. But even if she's not a true lip-reader, words aren't necessary for La Sirene to understand the girl splayed out beside her. The fear in her eyes is met, in equal measure, by tenderness.

Madoka is one of Diamant's oldest fans, back when the wind blew northwardly, and one of Nori's too. The AoAka posters are going to be ragged in moments just from the debris, but in the moment, she sees the legendary Akai Mirai model just over La Sirene's shoulder... and knows which one she thinks is most beautiful, the most wonderful, the most magic.

It's the one who held her hand at the aquarium that day.

Madoka's lips said thank you. Madoka's tears wept be careful. Madoka's eyes said I love you.

COMBAT: Madoka Kaname has used Diamants Are A Girl's Best Friend on La Sirene de Diamant.
COMBAT: Madoka Kaname has finished attacking.
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant accepts Madoka Kaname's Diamants Are A Girl's Best Friend, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  La Sirene de Diamant is Cheered!

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

The sword comes down for Mami and la Sirene cannot parry it. It is a blade of matter and not of energy, and so she cannot - as easily, anyway - simply invoke Les Mysteres. And so she lunges forwards, swinging her hand upwards to catch the blade on the black diamonds on the back of her glove!!

And the miracle is that - it works. The diamond holds. La Sirene presses forwards - and the momentary catch slips and the remainder of Mikoto's force comes down into a deep slice along la Sirene's side. Her back arches as she lets out a gasp, with Batiste squeaking as he moves towards Madoka.

La Sirene lets out a shaky breath of pain. She doesn't scream. Her eyes water... And that makes the steel go back in her spine.

As do the words of Sailor Pluto. "Is this... your dream?" she answers the senshi, without looking. "Then I suppose this is the face of 'Your World.' But there are other worlds - than - these -" Her teeth grit and she pivots to look dead at Eri, feeling cold tremors run up her spine as she does.

At which point she catches sight of Madoka for one heart-stopping instant.

The cold turns into glacial ice. The pain in her side fades, or moves away from perception; she straightens up. She smiles, and pale as her face is beyond the black rings like a painted-on mask across the centerline of her face, it is Nori there.

I can't lose now, Nori thinks as she looks back to Eri: La Sirene thinks, I can't let them get their way.

"I remember," la Sirene tells Eri, "when you laughed."

"It is strange... in a way... if you had not laughed... I might have continued my foolish acts. I might have walked a very different road... Eri Shimanouchi. But I was so ashamed of myself, I felt so weak, so pathetic - even if I know I didn't show it very well," la Sirene says as the light around her rises, like a ghostly flame. "Sometimes I still think about it. Do you know what it is like, to have a memory come to you... unbidden, and unwelcome? A reminder of the shame you know will always be in your own heart?"

La Sirene's right hand comes up to her face to cover it. "... I know it won't ever go away... even if it should fade."

Then she looks between her splayed fingers at Eri with new intensity. "For you see - these wounds mark me for who I am. You draw your magic from Grief Seeds, yes? The same as Mami, and Sayaka? That's the root of all of this." The light around her rises, doing strange things to color in the immediate era, though Madoka, at least, might not find it so unfamiliar.

"Mine comes from sorrow," la Sirene says as her hands snap together, palms facing out towards Eri. The light that has risen around her collapses downwards, surging into a collapse with a strange and sonorous sound like a whale's solitary cry. The negative light collapses into something like a flattened cylinder before la Sirene for a heartbeat -

And then it pours forwards, rolling in and on itself as the outer fringes erupt in a surging, fractally-complicated sea-wave, aiming to smash into Eri and her vines and throw them against the wall.

"I WON'T LET YOU SCARE THEM ANY MORE!" la Sirene screams.

COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has used Polyploia on Eri Shimanouchi.
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi narrowly dodges La Sirene de Diamant's Polyploia, taking 21 Fatigue damage!  Eri Shimanouchi's Fade ability activates!  Eri Shimanouchi's Flash ability activates!  Tangle and Trap applied to Eri Shimanouchi!

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

A flash of insight, a burst of force, and where Green hoped to meet Gold, a Fusion of Red, Pink and Black answer instead.

Armored fist seizes vine. Vine seizes Gem and Garnet looks up at Eri, her visor obscuring her eyes as ever, but below its reflective bounds, is a rare display of Pure.



Since Sayaka had mentioned Mami needing to go home to rest, Garnet had been dreading the moment, but when it became clear the Future was becoming the present. She was where she was needed most.

Garnet pulls the vines to try to pull Eri down into fist range, but as she does, the force is carried into the vines around her feet, pulling her up off the ground, leaving her off balance and defenseless.

Soon a few feet of empty air between Garnet and the ground is the least of her worries as Eri, seemingly never one to turn down an opportunity sends the Gem flying...flying... CRASHING into a juice cart!

Garnet lays in the wreckage for a second, thinking to herself that if Steven or Amethyst were here, they'd chide her for getting herself into a "sticky situation", and Amethyst at least would probably flop in to make juice and wreckage angels and drink up all the spillage.

Garnet suddenly feels like she hasn't really been home in so long. There was an echo of it here, when the little girl, Madoka offered her tea and a cookie, and Garnet accepted it with a smile as always (where is that teacup now, she wonders) But she misses her family. She misses her home.

Garnet crawls up with a pained sigh, and bullets herself back to fray, leaving the cart tumbling in the wake of her rush.

In the moment after Sailor Pluto's Garnet rod hits Mami and it's pulled back, Garnet presses forward to rain a series of sparkling punches on Pluto, seeking another sudden intereference to keep the Senshi on the defensive, and away from attacking Mami Tomoe.

COMBAT: Garnet has used Adamantine Barrage on Sailor Pluto.
COMBAT: Garnet has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto narrowly braces Garnet's Adamantine Barrage, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Sailor Pluto's Block ability activates!  Sailor Pluto's Parry ability activates!

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

Sayaka at least- gets an answer from the same class assignment on translating nursery rhymes. "With pretty maids all in a row..." There's something in the answer that sounds distant, even a touch unhinged.

Eri tries not to listen to Madoka's shriek but at least looks mildly startled upon seeing Garnet caught in her snare. She thought for certain noone would be able to predict the true nature of her attack. And while she'd fought Garnet enough to know that Chevalier in particular was fast... those reflexes were better than she expected.

Garnet pulls back with all the strength she's known for, and she digs in her heels and yanks back with her superior leverage until she forces her off the ground. And then in a whirl of movement she pivots and yanks her hard enough to crash into a local juice cart.

She let's go of her scourge looped around the Crystal Gem and conjures another as she steps down with her foot and takes off in a run towards the cloud of gunsmoke and choir of muskets. She sounds livid- like that emotion had been frozen in some arctic rime and only just had time to thaw. Her ears ring but her voice won't be drowned out by the fusillade once its stopped firing. "You think I care how many girls you've killed to hold this place!? You think your /reputation/ will stop us at this point?"

Her answer to Sayaka's angry cry of her name is simple of course- advance on her beloved senpai.

There's something chilling travelling into her ears though. More chilling than the night air. It's La Sirene's words. So focused on her goal she tries to ignore them. She can't ignore the negative light which pours outwards into a sea wave. Shifting to one foot, she tries to leap out of the way- and is caught mid- motion by it, as she crashes into a pillar which cracks upon her impact. The frigid sea water freezes one limb to the shattered tile. With a snarl of rage like some wrathful spirit caught in some snare she strikes it once, twice, thrice with an opposite limb.

Cracks form but the limb doesn't come free.

The look she gives La Sirene is eerie. Those eyes may not know sorrow as well as the Siren- but they know it well enough that she'd still have trouble teaching her something new of it. "Oh I know /that/ feeling well. But you don't get it. I'm not here to frighten them at all." Her foot snaps up to kick her bonds with the toe of her boot with a crunch. "We're... BEYOND THAT NOW!" Her foot rears up as if she's going to slam it back into her bonds-

Her toes touch the ground, and it pulses emerald- fluoroscopic veins lining everywhere. La Sirene at least would see how her eyes flash upon the yellow Puella Magi- and that's just moments before the ground beneath the station bursts as if there had been something dormant beneath all along. In a shower of mortar dust- gnarled and blackened limbs extend towards the Puella Magi senior- hungry for retribution.

From this angle- while she's facing off against so many, will she see them in time?

COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi has used Jubokko's Sanguine Roots on Mami Tomoe.
COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi has finished attacking.

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

Only a diamond can cut a diamond; even obsidian's cruel cutting edge chips against it. Miroku carves downwards, but la Sirene is there, black on black, and gold eyes meet ones which seem as dark as their respective weapons. Then she presses forward, and gravity and the force of Mikoto's downward swing join forces to carve a long line down the siren's side.

(There's another girl, nearby. She falls on her behind, stays there, and Mikoto puts her out of her mind. If she is not an enemy, she should not be cut down.)

The smell of blood catches in Mikoto's nostrils, but la Sirene's blood is not the blood she's hounding for, not right now. Tearing away, back towards Mami, Mikoto is met with another blade - the sword her eyes had lingered on, the one Sayaka wields so naturally. She comes from the air, from a summoned circle, and this is what Mikoto exploits as she tosses Miroku in front of her and tumbles under the cutting blade. As she rolls, the sword catches at the edge of her coat and tears with the sound of ripping fabric, revealing Ohtori's uniform beneath - but it leaves her otherwise unharmed, though interrupted in her assault. She's lost a few precious seconds, and she knows Mami will use them. Grasping Miroku in a hand, she springs to her feet in a fluid, catlike motion, and leaps away from Sayaka and her blade. Can't stop.

She is not looking to fight Sayaka, after all. Eri had spoken to them about this, before the battle. About how Sayaka heals so uncannily, how even Miroku's unerring strikes would knit and glow and be undone. Mikoto believes it, the ways she's seen Sayaka holding up in battle. And Mikoto trusts Eri, who has directed them to strike, unerringly, at Mami Tomoe.

Mami Tomoe is a bad person. Mami Tomoe deserves this. And it's Mami Tomoe who Mikoto catches in her sights, and it's Mami Tomoe who Mikoto surges forward towards, Miroku's edge dragging along the tiles, breaking them in its path to reveal the concrete beneath. Mikoto screams, again, and it's unnerving against the impassioned conversations the other girls are having. They each try to explain themselves, to justify their heart's desires, to talk even as they strike at each other. Mikoto does none of those things; barely hears them even as the words of battle reach her ears. Because there's blood pounding in them, because she has been given the command to fight, because she will gouge the heart and kill.

So she screams, a sound which rips her voice raw, hefting her blade in a laborous swing meant to catch Mami right about the midsection.

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Demolition on Mami Tomoe.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has finished attacking.

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

"Who said I ever asked it from you in the first place, Sayaka Miki?" Offers Kasagami coldly. Inwardly she wants to break into a dance. So much passion and fire in that girl! It makes her want to challenge the Blue Knight Puella more!

The first pistol strikes unerringly, Kasagami forced to twist to avoid being hit right in the chest. She takes it to the side, instead, scraps of her coat and uniform as that ribbon bullet smashes against her floating away.

"Oh come on, Mami-chan! You know you missed my voi..." Talks too much indeed, as soon that volley of rifles has Kasagami bringing up her sword fast and furiously. Parrying one or two of those shots, she spins out of the way of another, only to take multiple hits to her right leg. Kasagami is forced into a fancy series of ball room and salsa dance steps to avoid being completely losing her mobility, but by the time it all ends she's bruised and battered.

"Maybe you have, Mami! But you are also /not/ alone! Let me ask you a question: to a Puella Magi, are allies a boon or a hindrance? What if one of your friends fell today? Would you risk your life to take out their killer, or would you save your own and your other friends' lives?" Comes Kassie, words sharp as her sword.

Her free hand is held, palm up towards Mami...and then a burst of crimson roses fly for her face, trying to slash and drive her words in harder.

Somewhere amidst the melee-and-gunfire, she's realized Madoka is here. That little girl with more strength than should be, is right here, with the Chevaliers. They took her /out with them/! Kasagami's eye narrows at Mami. She can't find words for her slowly growing outrage. The ones who have always played the white knights, harped on about keeping civilians safe have dragged a helpless young girl towards a battlefield.

"You...you hippocrit!"

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Petals of Bloody Despair on Mami Tomoe.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has finished attacking.
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant covers Mami Tomoe for Eri Shimanouchi's attack, Jubokko's Sanguine Roots, taking it upon herself instead!
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant fails to brace Eri Shimanouchi's Jubokko's Sanguine Roots, taking 35 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki tries to cover Mami Tomoe for Mikoto Minagi's attack, Obsidian Blade: Demolition, but cannot get there in time!

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

Sailor Pluto sprints past reaching vines and massive clanging sword, charging through the scrambling Chevalier defenses with her banner of evergreen hair shining behind. Overhead the swordswoman arcs and twists in her own impossible way; the senshi grants that grace her peripheral vision. She only has eyes for Mami Tomoe right now.

That eternity-honed focus pays off. She manages a solid blow, one that helps to propel the Golden Queen off of her feet and into a display, the 'two' punch after Kasagami's 'one' kick. The fine edge of Sailor Pluto's jaw clenches and sets somewhere between determination and satisfaction -- both grim.

La Sirene's rejoinder draws her eyes and all the hostile thunder in them. "I will priotize a living world full of sorrow over a pretty, dead dream. I've had enough of those to last several of your lifetimes.

"You Chevaliers want do what you like, what falls within your naive ideals. We, we do what we MUST, and you reap th--"

It is not time-sense that informs its distracted Guardian of the incoming attack, but the pure twitchiness of soldierly reflexes. Instead of raining down on her unprotected flank, Garnet's fists catch the titanium Rod that shares her name. In a blinding display, the defensively-minded senshi whips her sacred weapon around in a looping parry, hair spiraling as she twirls.


Even caught, the force of those blows shoves her back, heels clicking against tile-edges. She snarls over the lengthwise Rod at the Crystal Gem. "I don't-- like fighting you, Garnet-san, but I will not stop. And, I think, neither will you." The world she chooses does have its sorrows. That said, she takes the fight back to her closest Chevalier counterpart.

That bar between them shifts, titanium flowing like quicksilver in the familiar hands of the woman who has held it for the age of a world. From horizontal to vertical it snaps, haft planting square on the floor as the Garnet Rod the senshi's pivoting point. The Soldier of Revolution corkscrews about that great esoteric key, booted heels leading long legs.

COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has used Sailor Pluto Kick on Garnet.
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Garnet perfectly dodges Sailor Pluto's Sailor Pluto Kick, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Garnet's Fade ability activates!  Garnet's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Garnet tries to cover Mami Tomoe for Mikoto Minagi's attack, Obsidian Blade: Demolition, but cannot get there in time!
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe narrowly counters Kasagami Araki's Petals of Bloody Despair, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Mami Tomoe is Quipped!
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe's counterattack, Tiro Retort, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Kasagami Araki!
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe narrowly dodges Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Demolition, taking 23 Fatigue damage!  Mami Tomoe's Fade ability activates!  Mami Tomoe's Flash ability activates!  Cripple applied to Mami Tomoe!

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0J2QdDbelmY

It was a nice thought. Going home, getting some rest; she's not far from her apartment. Sayaka says it's all right; all of those with her she knows are reliable. But she too could've had a snack right here and then. The idea of her bed, of going back home and maybe getting enough sleep for school tomorrow is far away. The idea of Madoka's snacks, enough for everyone, are so far away.

And Mami is still jarred by the change. She's if anything more likely than Sayaka to see the worst happen, see the unexpected come up. She's seen it before.

How many times has she seen it before? How many times has it been some other girl stepping out to ambush her when she came out of a Labyrinth? It's been this exact place before.

It's taking Mami time to put up the front she prefers, but she can rely now on raw power in a way a scared little girl once couldn't. She pretended for long enough to make it real. And now? Now...

Mami can at least show relief as she manages to catch sight of La Sirene still standing, though her heart is seized still over her choice of targets. Garnet is up, likewise after having defended /her/, and it sinks in the rest of the way for Mami that she's the target. Eri brought the Shepherds here for /her/.

It twists in her stomach, that knowledge as much as the fear of facing down these others as they come after her. She has her friends, but there's something about--

Eri gives her a retort. She mentions the girls Mami's killed, and golden eyes narrow. "It might, if you were wise," Mami points out. "Do you think you can murder every Puella Magi in your way like you did that girl?"

Mami ducks back when La Sirene moves to shield her with a quick, "Thank you!" to her and tries to keep dodging her way through the underground as best she can. She adds, poised and sharp in that /way/ of hers when we gets started, a look to Eri. But she can't stay away entirely. Sailor Pluto goes after Garnet, and Mami worries for Garnet and thanks internally for good fortune in the process. But she has little of that upcoming next. Kasagami rshes towards her, and Mami has handled her voice already. She asks a hard question, and Mami's gut is still churning before she calls out sharply in return, "If that happened?"

"I'd run. Doing anything less is a good way to get yourself and your allies killed! That's the sort of decision you would know about if you used your power for anything worthwhile!" But then there are roses for her /face/, and Mami hunches her shoulders, cuts deeply slashing through her cheek as she pulls a hand cannon from her chest and fires straight at Kasagami, blinded.

"Allies are everything! Someone who's never been truly alone can't know what it's like to be without them!"

Kasagami can call her a hypocrite, and Mami darts to the side, "Come off of it! I'm done with apologizing for Madoka-chan!"

One last strike is coming, while Mami herself feels worse at voicing these answers aloud to Kasagami. One more strike for this moment, and Mami Tomoe is a bad person who deserves this according to some. The screech of the tiles, that scream, it's always unnerving to Mami. This girl terrifies her. Mami stares, looks to where that sowrd is, for waht must be her center of gravity--

Mami /lunges/ backwards, and thus Miroku does not bisect her but instead hacks through the leather of her outfit, comes away red, leaving that much more for her body to knit together. Already the Gem at her hat is burning with the magic and the exertion.

"You think..." She's battered, already, bruised, and slashed up. What you might expect of four magical girls assaulting one is how this looks, though not so bad as it could be. But Mami is still alive, still working.

Mami whirls where the petals are still falling and suddenly fires a rifle at Eri, twirling on the ground and leaping mid-air like a figure skater as another, another, another rifle reports gunfire and golden light straight for the ringleader.

COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has used Tiro Flourish on Eri Shimanouchi.
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi narrowly counters Mami Tomoe's Tiro Flourish, taking 24 Fatigue damage!  Eri Shimanouchi's Reverse ability activates!  Eri Shimanouchi's Tactician ability activates!  Stagger applied to Eri Shimanouchi!
COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi's counterattack, Yamabiko's Answer, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Mami Tomoe!

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Decretum (Acoustic) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mibxS8lmyjA

Missed! That Mikoto is slippery. Biting down on the cookie, Sayaka swallows it almost without chewing as she falls, landing right behind her fallen sword, which she yanks out of the ground, slinging the chunk of Mikoto's clothing off of it in a single motion.

Sayaka is vaguely aware of Madoka conferring with La Sirene, and then there is a dramatic rally. She smiles a little. That's the sort of person Madoka is; when she tries, when she's needed. Sayaka brushes her soul gem on her navel thoughtlessly as she sets into motion. The sad thing is, Madoka isn't needed very often. In the real world, kindness is rarely rewarded. "And here we need people who can fight," Sayaka whispers to herself.

But she will hold a place for Madoka at her side regardless.

The rabid screaming charge of Mikoto clearly scares Mami, and Sayaka isn't any different. She launches into a sprint, side-by-side with Mikoto, trying to win the race and get in front of her to take on this blow herelf. She is sturdier, and her wounds don't last, and she has a nearly unbreakable sword in place of the relatively fragile stock of a musket.

"Minagi!" she shouts, as she draws level. "Do you think you're the only one who has a Mai?" Sayaka is starting to lose the race, Mikoto pulling ahead. "Minagi!"

Sayaka dives forward, trying to get at Mikoto's leg, but instead hits the ground and skids forward. She tucks into it and rolls out, just in time to see Mami's corset rent open. "No," she grates through tight teeth. Behind Mami, a blue circle of concentric musical staff widens on the floor. As Mami twirls through her musket dance, Sayaka takes an oblique path to her. She knows when the attack will halt; she's seen it enough. Timing it to just that moment, she reaches Mami just as she fires and then spins away her last musket.

Sliding her hand under Mami's thighs and catching her about the shoulders with an arm, she bodily hauls her off her feet--her foot, rather, as the elegance of her attack demanded one be raised at this point. With her back to all four Shepherds, she is vulnerable for a moment, but only a moment; in the next, she has run atop her mystic circle, and it launches her in the air in a shower of twinkling seaspray droplets, each sounding like the most delicate tap on a different black key of a piano.

Sayaka shoved off harder with one foot than the other, so that she and Mami slowly twirl as she rises up near the high ceiling of the underground chamber, facing the Shepherds again. She still has Mami cradled between her arms and against her breastplate. "You seemed kind of surrounded," Sayaka grimace-grins apologetically, feathery blue hair fluttering as their momentum expends itself. "Thought you might want to get up in the air like you like to do."

Carefully, Sayaka releases Mami, so they are next to each other and ready to respond to the surely imminent onslaught.

COMBAT: Sayaka Miki has used Mermaid Errant on Mami Tomoe.
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe accepts Sayaka Miki's Mermaid Errant, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Withstand applied to Mami Tomoe!  Cleanse! All of Mami Tomoe's debuffs are cleared!

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

Madoka is caught like the world on the far side of a kaleidoscope, in La Sirene's web of unlight, and more than that, by her words. She's known -- she's known for a long time, deep down, and for somewhat less time further up, but for a time, all the same -- that La Sirene is both an analog to the Puella Magi, and totally different in a profound way. Sometimes, staring up at her bedroom ceiling, she's wondered what the difference is, between collecting sorrow and draining despair. What the meaning of that difference is.

But she flinches away from the tidal wave of Diamant's retort; she can't help it. She doesn't want to see Eri hurt either, or Mikoto, or the Sailor Senshi. Or the Duelist...

"HEY!" she yells, she squeaks, over the ringing of her own ears. "You promised not to bully Mami anymore! I guess you think you think four on one isn't that? And, and..."

There's judgement in Madoka's eyes, which is a rare light to see behind them. It is, she is, painfully sharp and difficult to handle, like the jagged shard of a broken mirror. Instead of white for once she's turning red, filling with it, overflowing.

"...and Mami's right! She doesn't have to apologize for me! And I don't have to apologize for me either... I'm here because I want to be!"

Her voice breaks before the scream does. What comes out after is loud enough to hear, but ragged. Her eyes squeeze shut, unable to withstand the force of her own anger, then reopen, unable to countenance staying closed at a time like this.

"Mami... she's /saved/ me, more times than I can count! She's saved me from /you/! She's shown me how to be brave enough to... to... to yell at you right now!! So don't you -- how /dare/ you call her a hypocrite just to make yourself feel better! You don't... you don't deserve to be in the same sentence as Mami!"

Sayaka spins with Mami, above them both, now. Gold and blue reflect in Madoka's eyes, which shine with pride in her friends. For a moment she's alone in the chaos of the battlefield, but she feels close to them, close enough to touch.

"You said you wanted to be /better/," she exhales finally, her frustration and hurt spent upon Kasagami like the last few ounces of air in a balloon. Embarrassed, she's already starting to shrivel up on herself.

It will be so easy for her to be consumed in these tides.

COMBAT: Madoka Kaname has used Mami's Lesson on Mami Tomoe.
COMBAT: Madoka Kaname has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe accepts Madoka Kaname's Mami's Lesson, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Mami Tomoe is Reinforced by Madoka Kaname!

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Dueling warriors in tune with the flow of time can be mysterious and frustrating. For observers, for the warriors involved, perhaps even to Time itself.

Garnet's gauntlets clang against the Titanium Rod that appears just in time to block her strikes! Over and over she punches around it and over and over the Rod is all she finds. But when Pluto goes on the offensive with a mighty kick, the Senshi finds her effort equally fruitless as Garnet seems to see it coming, and dodges it cleanly with the kind of timing that would miraculous in any other battle.

But the kick wasn't the only assault the Gem's Future Vision foretold and Garnet steps away from her melee the Guardian of Time, readying a sudden disengage in the hopes of interceding in another, only to have these hopes dashed as she watches Mikoto's Obsidian Blade slash through Mami Tomoe.

Garnet's anguish turns to rage and she doubles back to Pluto, missing the display of love and friendship by Sayaka that might have tempered her heart.

Instead, with the emergence of her inner berserker, her mind is in the moment she lives: if she can't reach Mami she can at least keep the Sailor busy.

If there was more time, she might have given more thought to her opponent. Garnet doesn't know much about her. The gem doesn't take joy in fighting anyone here, but Garnet's fondness for children does give her a poor impression of Pluto. Children are for encouraging, for protecting, loving and nurturing.

Murdering is not on that list. Garnet doesn't know much about Pluto, but she feels, as she sends a gleaming punch that almost seems to burn with phosphorescent fire towards the Senshi's jaw...

..they currently have a fundamental disgreement about that.

COMBAT: Garnet has used Jawbreaker! on Sailor Pluto.
COMBAT: Garnet has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto fails to counter Garnet's Jawbreaker!, taking 21 Fatigue damage!  Garnet is Psyched!
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto's counterattack, Aoristic Fulcrum, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Garnet!

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

La Sirene answers Eri thus: "I was being gracious."

Then her vines snap forwards and la Sirene can hear the rattling behind her, at which point she half-twists towards it - the surging chaotic self-perpetuating tidal flux that la Sirene had hoped to pin Eri down with, instead, dissolves - the light flowing ahead of her. It curves as if to pre-empt the tendrils.

La Sirene is not fully in tune with these powers. The light leads for another reaction - the gnarled limbs twisting around...

Drawn in towards...


Pain feels like it's filling her entire body. Her aura of unlight wavers crazily. Raw will - a desire to not be ripped apart in front of Madoka, to not see Madoka cry, to prove herself to not be a disappointment - blooms volcanically in her, and she twists around to shout towards Eri, "I won't let you hurt them!! You could have grabbed the Grief Seed with your tendrils, couldn't you?! If you wanted to be RUDE and try to make your POINT!?"

"But that would not be bloody enough, would it," la Sirene hisses out, like waves breaking. "And even if you did not want to hurt my dear friend Mami, even if you were not terrifying Madoka with your armed assault-- I am tired of being ambushed!!"

It is selfish and perhaps lacks some of the fervor of her earlier words, but la Sirene is hurting, and she was already wearied from the Witch. With struggle, she raises her left hand. The familiar gesture is made, the horns are raised, and la Sirene raises her other hand despite the twinge of agony in her side. "Les Mysteres-"

maybe I should just go home, la Sirene thinks as her hand comes down.

but could i take them with me? they wouldn't leave.


Madoka speaks.

Her words strike the pained body of la Sirene like a seaside bell.

She is vibrating with the gathered magic, and finally she mumbles, eyes shaded by her hair, "just... just GO AWAY -"


NOW comes the chord, with a silvering flare of light that sings backwards in complicated scribed patterns on the Mikoto-brutalized tile of the station floor. The habitual burst of black-and-silver erupts outwards towards Eri, tumbling like a kicked football in its motion and trying to catch her square in the midsection and, perhaps, throw her back.

Maybe quite a ways back.

COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has used Les Mysteres on Eri Shimanouchi.
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi narrowly braces La Sirene de Diamant's Les Mysteres, taking 5 Fatigue damage!  Eri Shimanouchi's Block ability activates!  Eri Shimanouchi's Parry ability activates!

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

La Sirene draws her magic in with that strange cold light. For a time she only feels a pang of disappointment that she manages- "You won't. You won't..." There's a pregnant pause and then- "...I see."

Mami turns on her- and like an animal caught in a trap she bares her teeth momentarily. And then there's gunfire. She'd already been raising her arm- she conjures a new lash and snaps at her wrist simultaneously. The windows of a nearby department store shatter as the gunfire meets the cacophonous whip crack.

When the smoke clears there are musket holes all over the pillar, and her head is bowed. The ice finally cracks, and it looks like the girl would fall to the ground like a marionette that had its strings cut. Her foot though touches down sideways which puts her limb at an odd angle as she stumbles sideways and swivels. "If I- if I have to." She rasps in answer as she raises her head, "-should have surrendered Tomoe. Maybe it hasn't- hasn't settled in yet what you're dealing with..."

Madoka then speaks. Condemning Kasagami. And there's something in those words... "She..." She puts a hand to her face she doesn't have time to think about it right now. The distraction costs her time for an immediate counterattack due to the blue Puella Magi hauling Mami up bodily onto a platform of rippling sound. Her gaze travels upwards to Sayaka holding onto Mami- cradling her. Her eyes hood over at sight behind that rippling of pain that threatens to overwhelm her behind those rippling waters in the air.

Suddenly there's not an ocean vast enough or deep enough not enough to keep her away. La Sirene outlines what she's tired of, her head leans over her way. The other girl would catch a glimpse of the darkness in her eyes, backlit by her dimming green gem. "Don't worry." She whispers as the light of her vibrating magic comes. "As it turns out- we want the same thing."

The silvering flare of light comes, and her whole form screams with pain as she cuts her lash across the spinning mass. She strikes it head on, forcing it to detonate prematurely in front of her. Her whole body skids backwards as she slams into the same pillar. The back of her head cracking against the tile before jerking forward from the whiplash of the motion. She stands there in the crevice her body has formed. Did it stop her? Her lips crack and move anew- "All of you Chevaliers..."

The Puella Magi in green slides off like she was going to hit the ground, but immediately swivels and breaks into a run towards another pillar with a speed she shouldn't be able to move at right now after taking those hits. Light-footing it so she runs off it, she springs off it sideways- her body in a tuck like a diver who gravity refuses to force to take the plunge.

Unravelling her body from her bent waisted position in mid-air- she looks down upon the pair. Tokyo's greatest Puella Magi konbi. And then a multitude appendages erupt from her back. All coming from opposite directions, tipped in razor barbs. They zip at Mami from all those odd angles and directions. Her eyes lock upon Mami Tomoe as she transfers the point made to La Sirene to the yellow Puella Magi instead- "...out of my life."

COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi has used Harionago's Barbs on Mami Tomoe.
COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki covers Mami Tomoe for Eri Shimanouchi's attack, Harionago's Barbs, taking it upon herself instead!
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki narrowly braces Eri Shimanouchi's Harionago's Barbs, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Sayaka Miki's Block ability activates!  Sayaka Miki's Parry ability activates!

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

What does Kasagami do in favor of such an answer? Why, she laughs. And it's not a mocking one. So, the Chevalier would run in order to save those who support her?

"Hah! Now that's not a bad answer, Mami Tomoe! Trick question, there /is/ no right answer! Letting your enemy go means they can come back later and kill you! Cutting them down now means they mind end up killing more of your friends anyway!"

That hand cannon comes up, and Kasagami is ready for it this time. She spins in place, a nice ballroom turn of her partner, only this time it's a boot that kicks the gun off course. It fires into a nearby advertisement on the station wall.

"My point is! That power being used in a worthwhile way like you say, iss...to destroy anything that opposes you! For it is the right of a King to wage war upon her enemies until peace can finally reign under her iron fist! Allies are wonderful, but they mean nothing if their leader is WEAK and FEARFUL!"

She moves over for the cat, and Mami gets a harsh glare.

"Don't you dare tell me what it's like to be alone, with everyone you loved ripped out of your hands for nothing you did! And if there's anyone who should be apologizing..."

"It's YOU to MADOKA for bringing that poor girl into this mess! You're just putting her in danger! Can you really call yourself her friend for doing that? Is that how your noble little order of knights works, Mami Tomoe? Bringing along helpless children that are only going to one day get devoured by the horrors that stalk the streets of Tokyo during one of your crusades!?" Rage grips her furious heart, at this seeming betrayal of a friend, in Kasagami's eyes.

Mami is whisked away to the sky on wings of Sayaka and music sheet-ish magic.

But before she can attack, try to race to meet Mami once again, a far different force hits her. Draws her out of her spiraling anger, her roiling despair, and Kasagami Araki turns to Madoka Kaname with an utterly bewildered look. She's up, amidst the chaos. And her blow strikes her harder than any gun Mami's pulled on her.

Her gaze is entirely on the girl, the rest of the world far away. "Madoka, this isn't...this is not some grudge at school! This is a /WAR/! I won't pick on Mami at Ohtori, but whatever happens here? This is about protecting myself, and my FRIENDS, Madoka! If it were up to Mami Tomoe, they'd either be starving or dead! Yell at me, hate me all you like! But I will NOT abandon the people I love here to that blonde-haired crusading psychopath! Mark my words, Madoka Kaname, if you keep following her you'll see terrible, horrible things! Pray that they don't get you hurt!"

Snarling, she turns away, teeth gritting and trying to hide the hot tears in her eye and the flush of her face.

Eri's words are what break her out of her reverie, and it all draws back to the source of the conflict. Mami Tomoe. The other chevaliers, even Sayaka, are just pawns. It's Mami as Queen that Kasagami wants.

"Look at all of this mess you've made, Mami. Eri-chan is right. Time to END THIS! I, Kasagami Araki, who shall become this world's King, won't let you hurt my friends here any more! Leave us! Begone!" With a howl of frustration more than anger at this point, she follows Mikoto's lead. Leaping up onto that musical staff, she runs along it, before doing first one, then a second, and finally, a third flip that sends her into a blurring spin within the air. She arcs towards Mami, putting the whole of her body as she tries to smash a dozen bouquet's worth of roses and her sword straight into Mami's face if she can manage it.

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Falling Petals Cut The Soul on Mami Tomoe.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has finished attacking.

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

'Do you think you're the only one who has a Mai? Minagi!'

The words wash over Mikoto, and at first she does not acknowledge them at all, because words are meaningless in the face of battle. It's as her Lord Brother has said; your enemies will try to stop you with words, to plead with you, to connect with you.

They are enemies. They must be struck down.

All Mami's fears are confirmed in Mikoto's intent gaze, her raging berserkergang writ clear on her face as she lunges forward to bisect Mami. It's only her quick and panicked retreat which leaves her slashed instead, the obsidian blade cutting through the strings of her corset instead. It holds true, but the red which blossoms tells her that she's made her mark.

It's not enough, it's not enough, grind her to dust, bite and gnash and gnaw -

Sayaka scoops her prey up, and the words come back to her, again, the implications clicking together in her mind. For a moment - the tiniest sliver of a moment - she falters, because she knows how much she loves Mai, how devoted she is. To think of them that way - to humanise them like that -

- is washed away in an instant as her Lord Brother's words echo in her ears, a command, a reminder, a guideline for her blade.

But there's something in that moment which makes her speak, in those moments as Sayaka moves to rescue Mami. "Then we fight," Mikoto snarls, her voice hoarse from her unhuman screams. "Defend your Mai. I must attack!"

(I must, I must, there is no other option, there is only one solution to a conflict.)

There are more words, from the girl who's not fighting and the girls who are. None of them hit Mikoto as hard as Sayaka's, who appeals straight to her own vulnerabilities, and she lets them wash over her like waves of la Sirene's darkness. Sayaka leaps upwards with her friend, as if to take Mami away from the blades and the barbs and the baleful eye of the Garnet Rod.

It is a solution which seems simple, to anyone who hasn't seen a cat leaping from the air to catch a bird.

Mikoto starts running, Miroku dragging against the ground with a horrible ceramic-cracking screech. She runs past the musical platform Sayaka leapt off of, and then her legs bend, and she too bounds up into the air. Screaming, always screaming, she swings her obsidian blade overhead, to cleave through her prey.

Mikoto is ruthless, and relentless, and she's out for Mami's blood.

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

Sailor Pluto's boots-first piledriver kick drills through the vacant air Garnet occupied half a heartbeart before, where her warrior's intuition told her the formidable woman would be still, and the haft of the Rod drags a horrid stuttering screech across the tiles as she's carried a few steps past. A midair twist of her waist slams her knees and toes onto the same surface, allowing her a quick and painful skid to stillness.

Even as hard as she's been trying to ignore the presence of tiny, sweet Madoka Kaname, Sailor Pluto finds it impossible as those defiant squeaks ring out. She was there, in fact opposed her current ally and dear friend by Tomoe-san's side to retrieve Madoka and Usagi both. With a snarl more for herself than her foes, Pluto reminds herself that she and her allies intend to bring far more than just fear to another innocent child.

Garnet gets to receive that snarl as the senshi snaps her gaze back up, the redirected and frustrated antipathy that Sailor Pluto usually sublimates inward instead boiling up and over. "You want to protect them, but you're just helping kill us all!" She charges back in, rage leading.

She is not expecting to meet a rage that not only perfectly complements her own, but stops it in its tracks. Reverses it. Violently, by way of that fine jaw of Pluto's. The blow rings right through her skull, even as the rest of her body sails forward and Garnet's blow lays her out midair.

Grace knocked clean out of her, the senshi thuds into the same tile her Rod scored moments before, landing flat on her back. The imposing Crystal Gem stands like a metal mountain above her, barely visible between the flashes that detonate soundlessly behind her eyes, and Pluto swears she's left a piece of her jaw on that fist somewhere.

With fireworks still exploding in her battered brain, she tightens gloved fingers. There, the little groove her pinky always fits into perfectly; there, the smooth circular groove of one of the Rod's many segments. She does not need to see, or think, to call on her sacred weapon. From her crumpled heap she thrusts the Orb upward, roughly where Garnet's face might be, and releases boiling plutonic energy in an unfocused flare.

COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has used Garnet Blast on Garnet.
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has finished attacking.
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant covers Mami Tomoe for Kasagami Araki's attack, Falling Petals Cut The Soul, taking it upon herself instead!
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant fails to dodge Kasagami Araki's Falling Petals Cut The Soul, taking 48 Fatigue damage!  La Sirene de Diamant is unable to keep fighting!
COMBAT: Garnet narrowly counters Sailor Pluto's Garnet Blast, taking 15 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Pluto is Psyched!  Garnet's Tactician ability activates!
COMBAT: Garnet's counterattack, Rocket Gauntlet Buster, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Sailor Pluto!
COMBAT: Garnet covers Mami Tomoe for Mikoto Minagi's attack, Obsidian Blade: Destruction, taking it upon herself instead!
COMBAT: Garnet fails to brace Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Destruction, taking 66 Fatigue damage!  Garnet is unable to keep fighting!

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Credens Justitiam https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HA1vhF87D7g

'Do you think you're the only one who has a Mai?'

It's a question that lingers for Mami too, given how she feels about Mai Tokiha. But she can't think about it. Mikoto is /coming/.

But Kasagami snaps back at Kasagami in that way of hers that sounds so certain of everything, that Mami can imagine speaking to her. "Of course no outcome is ideal, are you stupid?" But Kasagami keeps going, and it only gets on her nerves more until that glare.

Mami actually stares in disbelief at Kasagami telling /her/ not to suggest what it's like to be alone. "You don't understand anything about Madoka-chan, or /anything/ about what she wants. How could you? You KIDNAPPED her for the sake of your wretched masters!"

Mami shakes her head. "I'll tell you all I want about what it's like to me alone. Read my file at school. You'll see all about it."

Meanwhile, Eri answers simply. Mami provoked her, she knows, but she didn't expect that. The Queen looks alarmed at the girl she once asked out, staring. But their attacks are still clearing, and Eri says she should have surrended. Mami...

Doesn't have to answer, doesn't have to invoke her friends against the twisting in her stomach that freezes up her throat too, that squeezes at her heart. This too she shoves down as hard as she can, reminding herself of so many things that help her in the moment, that aren't about her injuries.

Mami is quiet when Madoka leaps to her defense.It is not because of a lack of immediate emotion, but because there is so much all at once, between that at this battle and hear fear, that she can't immediately say anything at all, least not without missing something of the many attacks always coming her way. But she hears them, in that compartment of her mind not devoted to staring around, and Madoka's defense of her alone does so much for her.

Madoka has so much else to say than that too. And Mami hears it. Sayaka reaches Mami, and Mami can see her there as she tries to keep herself at the ready. That plan shifts apart when Sayaka catches her and Mami lets herself fall into her partner's arms, picked up bodily as indeed only one foot was down at the time. Twinkling droplets are like a refreshing sea breeze amidst all this awfl, and Mami cannot allow herself to fully enjoy it, could not regardless given the pain of her wounds... but the music is lovely, and the presence of this perfect girl lovelier still. To Mami Tomoe, that's Sayaka Miki. But there is Madoka Kaname too, quieter usually and wonderfully perfect herself. The golden Puella Magi catches Madoka's eyes for a moment as they shine up at them. She can't be done fighting yet with them here, with her Chevaliers here.

As they rush upward, Mami catches her breath and stares down at the others who must already be working to attack her once again. Her hair bounces along until they're nearly at this ceiling, and for a moment Mami would prefer not to let go.

Well, more than a moment. But she shakes her head quickly, puts on a composed face instead of the obvious cast of fondness to a similar one. "I was," Mami answers, her sleeves fluttering too. "You're very thoughtful, Sayaka-chan." She smiles, and starts to shift, ribbons in hand. But the others are already lurching back upward. Eri, taken by Sayaka, her partner, with that brutal attack of hers. Kasagami next, with those roses and that sword going straight to her /face/ with those words, this girl who has enraged her so much. And even as Garnet moves from her battle, Mikoto... Sailor Pluto beneath is busy.

The Queen, in chess, is noted for her mobility... and for a habit of players to want to protect her. Mami's mobility right now is downward. She's bleeding more heavily now, her white blouse and yellow ribbons reddened now. Kasagami talks of ending it. Mikoto...

The fear in Mami's eyes would've been visible from anywhere for Mikoto. But Mami is on the way down, and Mami's gaze is furious.

"You /dare/ to talk to me about hurting your friends, when you attacked ME!? When you came here specifically to try to batter me down!?"

Mami hits the ground hard, not wanting to stay up anymore. Instead, she rises from her crouch, suddenly holding a cannon the size of her torso, and blasts the entire thing straight at Kasaagami, her Soul Gem blazing.

"Eri-chan," Mami says after that, throwing away her weapon. "You know me so well. What am I going to do next, with two of my friends hurt, and /not/ out of Grief Seeds?"

Her voice is cold, unhinged. This is not the act of a girl who is not desperate.

"I'll wait."

COMBAT: Mami Tomoe transforms into Puella Magi Mami!
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has used Tiro Retort on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi tries to cover Kasagami Araki for Mami Tomoe's attack, Tiro Retort, but cannot get there in time!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki narrowly braces Mami Tomoe's Tiro Retort, taking 18 Fatigue damage!

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

They're going up.

La Sirene's head turns. Curses. That had been her big problem, she knows: she was always a little slower and heavier than the other Magical Girls, perhaps in some ways more enduring and certainly more sea-worthy but --

That isn't true any more, la Sirene tells herself, cheeks puffing slightly as she straightens upwards. She crouches. The light around her... compresses; distorts, perhaps. She takes in a deep breath, and then

l e a p s

directly upwards, crying out with honest if childlike umbrage, "Shut up!! Stop gabbling like you know better than us!!" She twists around, hands coming up in preparation to invoke something, but unfortunately for her she ends up taking the blow that was aimed at Mami's face right across the ribcage.

Black fabric slides silently apart and rosepetals fall as la Sirene curses silently, a thought that isn't quite formed along the lines of 'again' before she smashes against the far wall of the station, topples down with a sickening delirious moment, and hits the ground with a hard, bony thump.

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

Eri rises in the air, bristling with deathbringing life, a dark angel of flora. Sayaka's hands shoot out, grasping Mami's wrists, and reverse their positions in the air, hunching her back in preparation for the pain. The vines lance through her cape, puncturing it over and over, swiss-cheesing it as they chase it down to the floor, where Sayaka hits heavily.

Two more heroes fall for Mami, enduring even more grievous blows. Garnet, adamant, physically strongest of the Chevaliers, is laid out by a sword Sayaka would have a hard time even carrying. La Sirene, she of grievous power, sacrifices herself to the rampaging blade of a girl whose eye she once caught, who once treated her like a princess. Amidst a writhing, twisting mass of deadly vines, Sayaka's cape wobbles hideously.

The mass of thorny death heaves, bucking, and breaks apart. Sayaka twists her way to her feet, thrashing aside vines with a newly summoned sword. The wounds on her back are not visible, and there are none on her front. Though the tattered stub of her cape flutters, though red droplets follow in her footsteps, she seems entirely unharmed. But her eyes are awful to look upon right now. Her friends are all suffering.

"Were you listening to Kyuubey, Shimanouchi?" Sayaka is stalking forward slowly towards Kasagami, a hollow sound to her loud call. The would-be king is recovering against a turnstile; she seems vulnerable. "These bodies can only die if you hurt them so much the Soul Gem can't heal it." She is walking faster now, swaying a little on her feet. "And I can hee-hee-heal anything." It's not a stammer. It's a giggle.

She's running now. "Are you so stupid that you don't get it?" Sayaka laughs. Her last three words coincide with her last three bounds, the final of them launching her into a bicycle-legged, weightless leap, her blade lifted and glinting like a razor.


Sayaka's white smile comes down atop Kasagami amidst a cloud of slicing steel.

COMBAT: Sayaka Miki has used Furioso on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki narrowly braces Sayaka Miki's Furioso, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Sayaka Miki drains 4 fatigue from Kasagami Araki!

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet blast meets Garnet. Garnet had hoped it would only meet a small part of her. Her hands shine white, her forearms detach from her wrists, and she sends out a pair of rocket gauntlets to disrupt the blast in her stead. But it backfires. Quite literally: The force of the Garnet blast overwhelms her missiles, and the combined force of the blast and the gauntlets sends Garnet skidding backwards. She tumbles until she forms hands with which to catch herself, crouches and scans the future briefly perhaps too briefly... she allows herself just enough time to see the sword,

Mikoto's sword!

It's coming back for Mami...

Garnet breaks from her fight with Pluto and launches herself in a series of long bounds to catch the sword as it arcs down onto the Puella Magi.

And she does, and she's relieved! But how quickly that split second is over as her vision turns white with pain!

But not just the vision, her entire body glows white at the blow and stays that way bathing everyone in the vicinity in a glow. It's her hard light body. A blow that sudden, that forceful. She's... she can't.

Not here.

Not now.

Not Ever

Garnet struggles to stand and continues to shine. She falls to a squat, hunched over on herself in pain, a low screaming that gets louder as she gradually rises up to a stand.

The light finally fades, and Garnet's gauntlets are gone, she breathes heavily and doesn't move further, if she's even capable of it. She falls to a pained sideways sit, and watches, helplessly, only able to stabilize and watch as Sayaka... destabilizes? But endures...?

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

All around her, magical girls are fighting to the death, and Madoka is so exhausted by her own venting that she struggles to draw breath.

A tiny hand curls into a fist at her side, then unclenches, the shame tightening further around her like a vice.

She doesn't answer Kasagami -- she's too busy seeing Eri lacerate Sayaka's cloak. It feels like bookends, if she could think, but she can't think, she just--

--a red cloak scattered across the museum floor, the smell of summer sweat, the sound of a promise--

--blades screeching against the station's concrete, broken stands--

Golden light. Mami, becoming explosively stronger, brutally burning resources to cover for the downing of Garnet, who she barely knows but greatly admires and whose flare of light causes her eyes to flinch reflexively, and -- oh no -- Diamant--

--golden light, pouring down the mountain, across her eyes, across the whole world, and everyone collapsing, helpless--

--rain pouring down, her hair plastered to her scalp, the tarp plastered to the corpse--

Her eyes, dull with horror, blank with emptiness, cannot compete with Sayaka's louder hollowness. And even though it's been explained to her repeatedly that Kyuubey doesn't really make noise, the ringing in her ears drowns out the sort of provocative announcements she might expect.

--gears in the sky, blood trickling across pale skin, through smooth, dark hair--

Indeed, it is his absence that, once she realizes his missing weight from his shoulder, and therefore her unusual vulnerability, her powerlessness -- it is that which snaps her awareness fully back to the present.

She blinks, coming to herself.

And then Sayaka fills her vision, and it's like the whole world is fighting, and bleeding, and suffering. There's a soft, frightened whine in the air, and she hasn't realized that it's her.

She doesn't know that she's started crying again.

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

The mass gives way- and the enchantment breaks apart in a spattering of magic as the barbs break up and she looks upon the red eyes of Sayaka in that moment. She remembers that look from the alleyway. For just a moment her whole body runs cold. And then Mami says that- pointing a cannon at Kasagami, forcing her to look away. And suddenly her legs start to move. She skids to a stop though as she watches Kasagami escape from the eruption. She's breathlessly tachypneic at this point. She could order them all to press- take Mami down to a certainty. But is it worth it?

She decides, it is not. Not with her burning magic like that. It's such a double edged sword for them and Mami more than the rest.

She opens her mouth as if to answer her- and then Sayaka stalks towards Kasagami with a giggle. And that draws her attention away. For a few moments she's quiet during the press of Sayaka on Kasagami. She tries to trust in Kasagami's ability to fend her off just a moment longer. After all Kasagami was the superior Swordswoman- "Oh I heard it. I heard it tell us how we're the greatest monsters of all." She rolls her neck over once, "Some more than others. Tomoe being splendidly suited towards killing. You splendidly suited towards not dying..."

For the first time tonight, she smiles. It's not a nice smile. There's something cracked around the edges as she suddenly gesticulates by raising both her arms, palms up. "Why do you think we were targetting her in the first place idiot!? I could care less if you can't die! Go ahead and live for all the good it does you without any grief seeds!"

She's still smiling as she stoops down and places a hand to the ground. Immediately a barrier of twisted and blackened briars and tangled brush that seems less uniform and more chaotic than her senpai's latticework forms- cutting off Sayaka from Kasagami forcing her to become the world's most bluest weedwhacker with a determined effort if she wants to get through.

"Shepherds- we're pulling out of here. Mikoto-chan! We're leaving!"

No matter how far she declines. she felt a certain responsibility to the girls that fought with her today. So she waits- and makes certain her back is the last to turn. If Mikoto isn't one of those running past her in short order, she'll shout her name as many times as it takes to make certain she hears it- and if need be she's willing to do more. She knows very well from fighting together how the girl can be.

The sounds of Madoka's sobs will haunt her... once they settle in later.


Later- she's only just now catching her breath, a cold sweat is still beading on her forehead. "Good work. Messy but we did what we needed to do..." And that sounds like that is that. That is until Kasagami feels a hand clap down on her possibly sore shoulder. Eri has to reach due to how tall the other girl is. Right now she's parallel to the other girl, facing backwards while Kasagami faces forward "So. Kasagami." She's not looking at Kasagami though, she's staring past her. "I'm not going to be upset so long as you tell me /right now/." She says in this hushed whisper, "But I think I deserve an explanation on what those two were talking about."

Her head only turns then, "This isn't the first time I've heard about someone on the Student Council being in someone else's thrall. And kidnapping Madoka-chan..." She sounds more distant at that before she seems to snap back into focus on her, "...well- you /really/ need to start talking."

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

"Oh, I've read plenty Mami! But even I am not heartless enough to spill it all in front of your friends!" If nothing else, Kasagami takes her duties seriously.

Her strike flies true...into Nori. Her teeth grit as she bashes the girl out of the way. "Quit getting in my way, Sirene!" There's more than a tinge of regret there, but she powers through regardless.

And then Mami is firing on her, and she can only pull up her sword at the last second. That massive blast of ribbony fire has her swinging her entire body into it. With a savage yell, the young woman steps back, another to the side, and then she manages to push /through/ the fire being presented to her! Her blade slices right through...only for her to be sent careening back as she doesn't put enough force behind it to cut through and /away/ from herself! Sent crashing through one of the station turnstiles, she briefly grows limp. A second later, her coat in tatteres and gasping, she flicks a lock of hair from her face. Kasagami's visage is grim, and yet, sporting a demon's smile.

"Oh, c'mon Mami-chan, you're such a..." Whatever taunt she had in mind, dies on Kasagami Araki's lips. Razors fall, and that madwoman's blades are falling razors as she leans against that turnstile, and they cut deep. That sharp blade pierces through Kasagami's body, and that turnstile dents in as she's driven further into it. The young woman's eye goes wide, peering into that smile. She can't bring up her sword in time.

"Heh...what an expression."

Even Kasagami can't help but fear the madness in that smile. And not just for herself, goosebumps rising on the back of her neck.

A rain of steel scours her, and Kasagami doesn't move. That fierce blade, that will bordering on insanity? Even as she howls in pain, Kasagami can't help but find Sayaka Miki absolutely perfect.

For a berserker knight. It's Eri's intervention that keeps her from getting /too/ slashed up, but she's definitely in tatters as she heads off alongside the others.

Later, breathless, exhausted, and heart hammering, Kasagami wipes away sweat, tears, and tries to make her uniform something close to presentable. A hand comes down to her shoulder. Finally, a laugh, long and bitter escapes her.

"Let's just say I made a mistake a while ago. I was awful to Madoka-chan, and that's what made Mami Tomoe hate me. Anything else? You're a friend, Eri-chan, but I'm not the type to betray anyone's confidence. Heh. You can try torturing it out of me if you want." A grin, taunting as ever.

"Just as I won't betray yours. I'm done with that kind of thing. Madoka Kaname is the worst mistake I've ever made."

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

Mikoto-chan, calls Eri, and it washes over her like so many words in battle. Wild golden eyes fall on Mami, her target, still standing, still fighting.

Mikoto-chan, calls Eri. Mikoto-chan! And the words catch in her brain, finally, as the cries of someone she loves, calling her back. She glares at Mami as she steps back, not taking her eyes off of her for an instant. The red slit of Miroku almost seems to be watching, too, as if the sword had a malevolent will of its own - though that must be impossible.

One step, another. She snarls as she backs away, bristling to strike should the Chevaliers push their luck. But one step turns into several, and once she's gained some space she turns, and begins leaping away. Her tattered coat sails behind her, bloodless, the only sign she was touched in this battle. It's a fearsome thing to think about.


And then they're together, the Shepherds, and Mikoto still bristles from the feel of battle, but not hearing any threats approaching calms her somewhat. She looks to Eri, and looks to Kasagami, and frowns. "What..." Her voice is a little hoarse from her yelling. "... did Kasagami do?" She misses the way Kasagami implies she'd be breaking confidence; her mind is still spinning down from the battle, which puts her at a greater disadvantage when spying social cues.

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

With a pulse of release that thuds a second series of headaches into her rattled head, the Garnet Rod blasts her opponent. The senshi rolls to her side, to her knees, scrambles away, expecting the next fist to catch the back of her head as she moves--

--but nothing. Finally she casts slightly doubled vision over-shoulder to see Garnet break away, and can only feel relief for a moment. Then the Crystal Gem bears a direct strike from the feral berserkercat and her slab of a sword, and the spiking flare of light is like spikes into the back of her eyes.

She rubs the painful afterimages clear as Eri's call to retreat rings out, and once garnet eyes can they're scanning for a familiar flare of roses, checking to see that she's getting out all right too, and Kasagami suddenly very much is not. First she sees that horrible slash of a smile on Sayaka's face, then the blades as they drive into the duelist.

Pluto cannot get to her feet fast enough, they're sliding on chipped bits of tile, and she makes her earlier charge at Tomoe-san look downright slow. Every step is another inward curse to herself. Kasagami gets pulled loose as gentle as she can manage while still making proper battle haste. "Kasa-- I'm sorry. Please, let me... come on. Let's go." She gets one of Kassie's arms across her shoulders, one of hers around the other girl's waist, and sees them off with all the supportive strength she can muster.


She's still near when Eri makes her inquiry, and that only brings her closer to the swordswoman's side, a pillar made of a different sort of supportive strength. After Kassie speaks her piece Sailor Pluto nods, once, and reaches for her hand.

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

She doesn't say anything as Kasagami speaks. She let's her say what she has to say. Then as Mikoto speaks up she looks over her shoulder briefly at the other girl before she returns to looking forward. She sees the way Sailor Pluto takes her hand. She takes a moment to gather her thoughts, replying softly at first, "Yeah? Well I know something about worst mistakes." She closes her eyes for a moment as if remembering La Sirene's words on things coming unbidden, "But don't try to play it down. Own it for what it is. 'I was awful to her.' isn't the same thing as 'I kidnapped her because I was following orders.'"

Her eyes open back up, "When I talk about my worst mistakes it's about /murdering a child/. Sure it was a mistake that helped me survive-" Why does she still call it a mistake then? "-but that's what it was."

The hand slides off her shoulder, "I'm not going to /torture/ you- I was just hoping you'd tell me why you're involved. If it's to further your goal to become a King- or if they have something on you. So that when the time comes you're not going to be blackmailed into making another /mistake/ that might cost us everything."