2017-07-28 - Mirror Gem

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Mirror Gem

A swarm of monstrous gem ants attack the Temple. Steven flees Garnet's wrath, his mirror in tow, and ultimately releases Lapis Lazuli.


Yumi Ohzora, Fate Testarossa, Lera Camry, Fuu Hououji, Michiru Kaioh, Setsuna Meioh, Steven Universe, Garnet, Pearl, Lapis Lazuli

GM: Hotaru Tomoe


Tokyo Bay

OOC - IC Date:

07-28-2017 - 02-06-2015

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Tokyo Bay +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
  Once known as the "Inner Sea," the shelter Tokyo Bay once provided for
  merchants and fishermen helped Tokyo develop into the powerhouse that it is
  today, nor is it less useful today. Japan's largest shipping ports operate
  out of the Bay, as does its own navy and that of the US Forces. Herculean
  efforts dredge up its silt to create artificial islands, and factories drink
  its water to soothe their smoky throats.

  To most residents, however, the Bay is simply blue water glittering,
  salt-seasoned breezes, and gently drifting sails. The aptly named Rainbow
  Bridge crossing the bay enhances rather than damages its beauty, its white
  towers lit many nights by an artificial rainbow. A provincial visitor might
  consider Tokyo Bay to be trimmed like a garden hedge; it has a number of
  oddly geometric islands with arranged greenery, and any land touching the
  water often makes the best of it with a park, intake valve, or other
  imposition on nature. To a city-dweller, though, it is a miracle of open
  space and calm.
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

The art installation on the edge of Tokyo Bay attracts its fair share of curious tourists, many of them the citizens of Tokyo itself. Rumors blossom like cherries about who arranged for the massive, ancient statue, with a modern, ramshackle hut attached to the front, to occupy this space. What metaphors does it represent? Who's making a profit? All good questions. People walk up to its base, stare, think, and wander onwards, back into their ordinary lives.

But there's something else that the Gem Temple attracts on the regular:




Pebbles on the beach are bouncing. They make clicking sounds when they fall back down to hit other pebbles underneath; pebbles, all the way down. Ants on the beach are clicking, too. Monster ants, each the size of a cow. They emerge from the shoreline with each breaking wave. One ant, two ants, red ants, blue ants.

They go marching, less two by two, more six by six or ten by ten. Their legs are sharply jointed, solid spikes that dig deeply into the beach with every skitter. They are sharp, generally. Sharp spikes, sharp maw. Sharp armor, which shimmers softly with the strange colors of the deep deep sea, where blues and greens recede and reds and oranges explode.

Sharp chip, in the deepest part of the throat, a chip of yellow gemstone. Each ant has one.

Blessedly, the beach is clear of tourists right now; the sun has sunk below the horizon, and winter twilight is dark and cold. But there are so many of these monsters, and they're coming fast. The Gem Temple might be their first stop, but there's a whole lot of city beyond. If this army made it to the streets...

Visual Aid: https://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/steven-universe/images/9/93/Unknown_Ant_Gem_Monster.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20170303211207

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe transforms into Gem Ant Army!
<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Yumi Ohzora's looked at the temple before herself, particularly when she had a chance when she was at the house here last, but she never got to learn all that much about it. It's a great statue though.

That's not why she's out at the Bay today though; she was actually going to meet someone. That someone is not a horrible monster ant bigger than she is, but as it turns out, she's meeting many horrible monster ants bigger than she is. That's her life now. She will address it with calm and serenity.

"Are you KIDDING me!?" Yumi squeaks, staring out at the whole bunch of them as they come up. It's dark out. She's already cold. She was going to be cold to begin with. And now there are... These. These awful things.

"Uuuuuuugh," she complains, and flees far enouh to find some cover and get out her phone. "Why do they have to be so bitey!? I hate ants!"

She says other, less complaining words and there's brilliant green as she glows, holding a great white staff. She lunges out. "Okay! Ivy, let's do this!" She traces a rune for the first she can manage, in front, "Hold... IT!"

A black mark travels through the air, and starts to try to bind ants from below with ivy.

COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora transforms into Witch Ivy!
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora has used Ivy Binding on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki transforms into Crimson Rose Duelist!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji transforms into Wind Knight!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly counters Yumi Ohzora's Ivy Binding, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  Trap applied to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe's counterattack, Army of Antness, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Yumi Ohzora!
<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

Not long ago.

Fate Testarossa's elementary school class gathers around the local ant farm. All of them watch in wonder as the ants wend their way through the tunnels of the mound to the midden. "Do ants on this planet get much bigger than this?"

"You always ask those questions in such weird ways Fate-chan." Arisa shakes her head in wonder with a fond smile, before going on to explain, "Well sure. Like some in other countries they get twice as big as what you're seeing in here."


Fate Testarossa streaks in from across the sky and stops to hover in midair. She looks on in wonder at the invading magical ants. "Arisa never considered magical ants I guess..." She says mildly, as her cape flutters in the chilly sea breeze. "...maybe they're hoping to turn the temple into their new home?"

She doesn't dwell on the thought overlong. There's already others down there fighting. "Ready Bardiche?" <Yes Sir.> "Fate Testarossa and Bardiche Assaulto..." She says with a flourish of her poleaxe device. Is she really announcing herself to an army of ant monsters, "Here we go-!"

Soaring down closer to the beach and whipping up sand as she flies close to the ground she makes a short call, "Load cartridge!" <Cartridge Load.>

A cylinder revolves, the sound of a piston driving inwards. The effect doesn't become obvious until she makes a cleaving slash through one of the lead pairs that Witch Ivy is trying to bind which sets off an immediate golden detonation that sounds with the roar of distant thunder.

COMBAT: Fate Testarossa transforms into Barrier Jacket Assault!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has used Thunderous Clash on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Sharp spikes, sharp mandible, sharp carapace. It glints in the sun.

It makes the crystalline ants easy to see from the air. They reflect in golden eyes that narrow, as Lera Camry soars through the sky, leaving a trail of red-orange light zig-zagging in her wake. "Sky," she says. "Can you get a good read on... on whatever those things are?"

<I don't have the foggiest.>

"Does fog really affect you? Since you're... um... a Device, y'know?" Lera asks, with a blink.

<Why do we hang out again?> Broken Ground interjects.



Lera cracks a smile, though -- and then she comes dropping down towards the ants. She slams into the beach a little in front of them -- and hits hard enough to send a ring of sand blowing out from around her, before she swings her sword down. The Device shimmers -- and a trio of energy fangs leap off it, curved, and shoot into the ranks of the ants.

"Fate!" she calls out towards her friend, as she flies in. "Good to see you here!"

COMBAT: Lera Camry transforms into Barrier Jacket Perihelion!
COMBAT: Lera Camry has used Crescent Fangs on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Michiru Kaioh transforms into Sailor Neptune!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

In the shadow of upcoming entrance exams is probably a really bad time-place to be wrestling with other troublesome questions. Meeting Hanasaki-sensei a couple of days before helped a lot, to be sure - but Fuu is still troubled by several things. Maybe visiting Steven and Garnet and their companions will help shed some light on things ...

But when Fuu catches sight (albeit from a distance) of the swarm of giant ants on the beach, her worries are quickly set aside; the monsters need to be contained at the very least. Her school bag is tucked away into her glove-jewel's 'inventory,' and a quick invocation brings about her transformation into her Magic Knight armor; *now* she can join the fight.

"Storm-Dance of Kamaitachi!!!"

Where the Wind Knight would normally lead off with her binding spell, the ants' numbers are far too many (and their sheer size too great in total) for Winds of Admonishment to do more than inconvenience them a little; as such, she just goes for her biggest attack spell to start with, trying to blast a path into the swarm. Not that she expects the path to stay open for long, but against numbers like these? Unless there's some central point - a 'queen' or other organizing/motivating source - carving away at them is the best she can do.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Storm-Dance of Kamaitachi on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly dodges Fate Testarossa's Thunderous Clash, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Fate Testarossa is Psyched!
Hotaru Tomoe's Fade ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Flash ability activates!  Stun applied to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to brace Fuu Hououji's Storm-Dance of Kamaitachi, taking 30 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly counters Lera Camry's Crescent Fangs, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Stun and Trap applied to Hotaru
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe's counterattack, Army of Antness, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Lera Camry!
COMBAT: Setsuna Meioh transforms into Sailor Pluto!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Neptune [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Standing atop a stone jetty, Sailor Neptune accepts the cool embrace of the wind. Without the sea, the storm would not be there; without the wind's embrace, the sea would be still and rank. In this case, the wind is unfortunately only the actual wind, however. Not the metaphorical, handsome wind.

As the wind tugs at her hair, she gazes towards the glittering ants, her arms folded philosophically before her. She is frowning, even as she says, "It's a bit peculiar... Everything that I saw was here, but normally matters are a little more..."

Neptune's lips curve into a small moue of distaste. "Symbolic," she concludes. "Still, having come all of this way, I suppose it can't be helped. Shall we?" Her eyes turn to her right with a small hint of a smile, and then she leaps--

-- and soon enough there is a surge of water, anomalous but no doubt welcome, for this surging tide with its relentless tsunamic intent rises up along the shore and has sufficient force behind it to shove ants together. To try, at least in theory, to huddle them up. To create a pile-up - perhaps to tangle the formic interlopers completely.

"It's the off-season for a reason, you know," says Sailor Neptune, striding up the shore as the waters inevitably flow back to the ocean. Her feet aren't wet. Her voice then raises upwards, even as her eyes narrow. That small girl is here, but there is no good alternative option. Neptune is silently regretting stepping in at all, but in for a penny, in for a pound:

"Up there! Do you see a center?"

COMBAT: Sailor Neptune has used Wave Undulation on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly braces Sailor Neptune's Wave Undulation, taking 14 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Pluto [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

As she so often does, Sailor Pluto stands just a few steps beside and one behind her fellow Outer Senshi -- a stoic sentinel guarding Neptune's back. Hair nearly as long as she is floats on that same salt-bearing breeze, all shining evergreen strands.

"The Tokyo of Here and Now likes to have its jests." Half a smile on her lips, she returns that look. "Let's."

Like a comet she falls, descending immediately after her friend with arms high and Garnet Rod overhead, the heart of the Orb gathering darkness as she goes, stealing it from the very air. As the sand rushes up to meet her she swings that sacred weapon downward, shadows trailing the motion, to aim it directly down toward her feet --

-- and the great segmented ant-creature that she has been aiming for.

Blacker than black and shot through with violet, the coalescing power surges from the Garnet Orb at the exact moment she touches down, aiming to blast the creature clear from her landing spot.

"Where do they come from, did you see?"

COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has used Garnet Blast on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly dodges Sailor Pluto's Garnet Blast, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Pluto is Psyched!  Hotaru
Tomoe's Fade ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Flash ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Imperiant March https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bzWSJG93P8

The ants continue to pour across the beach like the waves themselves, inevitable, inexorable. There are just so many, and it really limits the efficacy of containment effects; Yumi's ivy binds a few but there are dozens more, and the same is true of those pinned to the ground by Lera's energy fangs.

Which isn't to say that such tactics aren't well-suited to teamwork. Fate's able to slam back one such entangled monster, Pluto another, and Fuu's whirlwind sweeps a whole approach that had been slowed by the energy fangs, straight back towards the sea. A sea made more hostile by Sailor Neptune -- certainly it is no escape to be there.

They don't seem adverse to water though (they just bob back to the surface and propel themselves forward with those spikey legs, though a senshi's tsunami smashes them onto the shore more roughly than they'd like), and tough as can be -- despite their numbers these won't be going down easily to a single punch or blast. Which makes it all the more likely one or two or ten will slip past and cause chaos deeper in the city.

There is no sign of a queen, but there is a fluidity to their movements, a symmetry, a simultaneity -- like a marching army, indeed -- that suggests a hive mind effect of some kind. Which doesn't make things lack for chaos. Even an orderly army devolves when battle is joined, and it has been joined for sure: they try to swarm those on the ground, while a few pile upon their fellows and launch themselves into the air to try to grab the airbourne magical girl squad and drag them into the fray. They don't have hands. They do have maws.

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Getting Antsy on Sailor Neptune.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Getting Antsy on Sailor Pluto.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Ante Up on Yumi Ohzora.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Getting Antsy on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Crushing Mandibles on Fate Testarossa.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Crushing Mandibles on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Crushing Mandibles, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Fate Testarossa's Block
ability activates!  Fate Testarossa's Parry ability activates!  Stun applied to Fate Testarossa!
COMBAT: Lera Camry perfectly counters Hotaru Tomoe's Crushing Mandibles, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Counter!  Lera Camry's
Reverse ability activates!  Lera Camry's Tactician ability activates!
COMBAT: Lera Camry's counterattack, Sentinel Flash, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Sailor Neptune narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Getting Antsy, taking 19 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Blind and Diversion
applied to Sailor Neptune!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Getting Antsy, taking 8 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji's Block ability activates!
Fuu Hououji's Parry ability activates!  Blind and Diversion applied to Fuu Hououji!
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Getting Antsy, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Pluto's Block ability
activates!  Sailor Pluto's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora narrowly counters Hotaru Tomoe's Ante Up, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Yumi Ohzora's Reverse
ability activates!  Yumi Ohzora's Tactician ability activates!  Bind Break! All of Hotaru Tomoe's debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora's counterattack, Dark Beam, partially gets through, doing 6 Fatigue damage to Hotaru Tomoe!  Stagger applied
to Hotaru Tomoe!
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

Panting. Running. Fearful. He messed up this time. He has never done something so brash to his...!

"Gotta hide!"

Sweat pours down a boys brow as he runs across the beach. Panic is seen in his face. Deep breaths taken to keep moving quickly. His flip flops leaving imprints in the soft sand.

A boy runs down the beachside from the house at the base of the feminine statue on the beach. A boy in a pink shirt with a golden star on the front. It was clearly Steven Universe. But he didn't have on his usualy happy-go-lucky smile, or his fighting determination when confronting enemies, even when on his doorstep. In fact, he didn't seem concerned about the ants at all! At least for the moment.

He trips and staggers, fumbling for a blue mirror that drops in the sand, quickly scooping it up. As he runs, he stares into it. But he looks up at the onslaught outside their home. "Not the time! Oh man! This is bad!"

He runs for the learest large rock on the beach, diving for cover nearby the fighting. "Man... what am I gonna do?! What is wrong with you?!" he seemingly says to the object.

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

The arrival of Sailor Neptune in particular is distracting, for the Witch of Lost Ivy. Or well, not the arrival so much as Yumi having the chance to notice her. The water almost seems to sparkle around her, or maybe it's pastel, or...

Either way Yumi blinks for a moment, and keeps looking or another before Neptune uses her magic and moves, shaking her head suddenly. Maybe it wasn't as obvious as she thought.

It was exactly as obvious as she thought.

Pluto is with her too, and Yumi waves her staff, "Sailor Pluto! I'm here!" Her complaints of a moment ago are seemingly forgotten in her desire to help.

There are the ants, and there are others here too, including, "Fate-chan!?" Yumi is distracted as she tries to move by that arrival, that recognition. But maybe it shouldn't be such a surprise. All this distraction isn't helping her curses though, and the ants... come towards her, despite the fact that she'd prefer to avoid melee. They batter around her and one crunches straight through a barrier she puts up before she throws a green beam straight into its mouth.

She still gets bitten by the others and shoves herself backwards. "Aaah--" Steven is running, but Yumi can't see him right now at first, until she sees him on the beach. "Aah--"

She wants to help the others, but, "Know atrophy! Know weakness! ...Stop moving already!"

Yumi casts her curse at more and tries to reach one of the others nearby. "I can help!" But how?

COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora has used Weakness Hex on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to brace Yumi Ohzora's Weakness Hex, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  Yumi Ohzora is Psyched!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Well, they may technically be counted as 'one swarm,' but they certainly can act independently - and getting attacked by multiple magical girls just prompts the giant ants to divide their attention appropriately. As welcome as it is to see the two Sailor Senshi, the Witch of Ivy, Fate, and Lera, the Magic Knight of Wind promptly gets cut off from being able to see *any* of them as a bunch of those ants stampede over and around her, as if to bury her in a tomb made of their own bodies.


But if the Wind Knight has her way, it's going to be one of the shortest-lived tombs in the history of mausolea; a whirlwind explodes outwards with the green-armored Magic Knight at its center, intended to drive the ants off of her en masse and give her space to continue fighting. Whether the Liberating Gale lives up to its name or not, there's a flash of greenish light as the Wind Knight's sword materializes - ready to keep fending off the ants, and possibly, to try and carve a path through the mass of monstrous insects and link up with her fellow magical girls. (Plus one magical boy, when she realizes Steven's in the area - which she hasn't yet ....)

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Liberating Gale on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe perfectly dodges Fuu Hououji's Liberating Gale, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Hotaru Tomoe's
Fade ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Flash ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.


A fury-filled voice is clear, but distant.

Steven had quite the head start on both his guardians, the Cryal Gems Garnet and Pearl, so they're little but approaching spots behind him, and smaller still to anyone caught in The Crystal Antmageddon, though as she becomes more visibile to anyone, the barely restrained projection of her anger is clear. Garnet is becoming slightly more aware of the chaos on the distance as she gets closer to it, but for now that seems overriden by the singular determination to catch her disobedient child.

That said, she isn't notably running at supersonic speed or leaping her way after him.

Perhaps she's giving Pearl ample time to catch up because she wants to listen to her pleas for mercy on Steven's behalf.

Perhaps in that particularly motherly way, Mum Universe is confident she can catch him wherever he goes.

He can run. But he can't hide..!

And in the meantime, on purpose or otherwise she's giving him plenty of time to think about what he did.

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

"Because you adore her and you know it Ground." Fate Testarossa comments towards Lera Camry's grumpy device. Fate then loops around end over end once as if that manuever was her greeting to Lera- that and a smile.

And then a Sailor Senshi actually asks her a question. For a moment Fate stops to just stare at the elegant and beautiful Senshi in wonder. She's not familiar with her- but she was inclined to trust a Sailor Senshi until they gave her reason not to. It takes her a moment to find her words. "A-Ah." She clears her throat flies up a touch higher then surveils the oncoming ant army.

"It's hard to tell since they're coming out of the sea! But if I had to guess-" She cups a single hand over her mouth then points with her polearm an angle closer to the shoreline, "-right there! But they're..." She slowly changes the direction and angle of Bardiche as if awkwardly acknowledging some fact, "...moving."

But now she's looking at Pluto beside Neptune... as if making some connection.

And that's when one leaps into the air to try to grasp her. With a gasp the girl interposes her opposite arm and- <Defenser-> "-plus!" A shield of rippling gold forms and the mandibles wrench around the limb to try to gain purchase. There's a spasm on the girl's face as she's dragged further and further down towards the waiting horde.

Slowly raising Bardiche higher, he begins to shift- <Haken Form> and quickly becomes a crescent hook, alit with jagged gold. It's not long before- <Haken Saber> Lashing it downward, the curved scythe blade of energy detaches, and slams into the ant attached to her and remove it- it then attempts to drive it ever downward. Into the beach and it's waiting comrades. Whereupon in relief the girl says lightly- "Saber Explode."

Purple energy plays along the detached blade before a massive eruption plumes outward from the sand and hopefully into some of its fellows as well.

And that's when she looks upon Witch Ivy- blinking her red eyes twice in recognition as if trying to comprehend that she's here too. "Um. Well..." The sand from her explosion is already filtering over her. "...she did... already know I was a mage..."

She waves a gloved hand once her way as sand scatters into her twintails. Not calling out since... she doesn't know if she'd want to be called by name.

Which is when she notices the familiar boy running onto the battlefield. She quickly calls out as he moves into cover, "Wait- don't hide there!" She's gesticulating with Bardiche, as if motioning for him to go the other way.

She doesn't yet realize the trouble he's in with his mother.

That might change her perspective a little bit. Just a little.

COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has used Haken Saber on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Pearl [None] has posed.

A little behind and to the right of Garnet is another figure -- shorter and more slender, though neither short nor brittle. With her beaky nose, Pearl would look the part of a Cute Witch in the right clothes, though what she wears is more athletic (and balletic) than arcane.

She stops at the base of the steps, her pale blue eyes huge in her face. Twilight turns her skin gray, but it might have been gray anyhow, with horror -- it's communicated clearly, in the wobble to her chin, the flicks of her toes, which shift stances three times in three seconds, the trembling of her fingertips.

"Whaaat?" she gasps, surveying the gem monster war. "Why this? Why now? STEVEN? STEEEVEEEEEN!!"

Where Garnet's voice is fury-filled, her own is filled with fear.

But is it fear for the boy, fear of the boy's action, fear of the ants, or fear of the wrath of her counterpart?

Why can't it be all four?

"Garnet! Steven's in danger! We -- we have to do something!"

She gazes upwards, trying to find sanity in Garnet's face, but only sees her own shaking reflection...

COMBAT: Lapis transforms into Mirror Gem!
<Pose Tracker> Lapis [None] has posed.

The mirror is cold as ice in Steven's hands. It doesn't twist or tremble but it does talk, and despite having some serious competition on the field, it is the most afraid thing on the beach right now. Period.

A series of faces and voices flash across its surface. Each meets his eyes, even if they hadn't in reality.

"Don't!" exclaims Kaoruko Hanasaki.

"Let me..." murmurs Yumi.

"Go to--" Fuu is midsentence.

"--the Crystal Gems~~!" gushes Steven himself.

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

To the great confounding annoyance of Sailor Neptune, she is beset upon by ants. She did not even spill sugar; such an injustice. So she might think, even as one of them lunges forwards, scrabbling legs and terrible mandibles grasping at her.

Neptune has to weave, to duck, and finally to leap into the air, looking down once she's launched herself and frowning with dismay. She has quite impressive hangtime, though - enough to hear Yumi call to Pluto. "Oh, a friend of yours?" Neptune asks the Senshi of Time, even as she spots a boy bearing a blue mirror - that he drops -

Sailor Neptune's course changes.

Footsteps land on the rock near where Steven Universe is taking cover.

"Good evening," she says. "Carrying the protection of the planet of the sea, I am Sailor Neptune. I understand this is abrupt--" As she says this, Sailor Neptune's gaze is drawn inevitably towards the column of ants rising from the sea, squinting slightly towards where Fate had indicated.

"But where did you obtain that mirror?"

Which then speaks. Sailor Neptune can't see the faces, but the voices make her breathe in sharply and tear her glance away from the columns.

COMBAT: Sailor Neptune has used Ripple of a Dream on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to brace Fate Testarossa's Haken Saber, taking 45 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly counters Sailor Neptune's Ripple of a Dream, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Neptune is Psyched!
Analysis performed by Sailor Neptune!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe's counterattack, Army of Antness, partially gets through, doing 16 Fatigue damage to Sailor Neptune!
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

An ant comes flying into the air, its terrible sharp maw opened wide to bite into Lera Camry--

<Sentinel Flash!>

--only to slam into a cross-shaped barrier of light that erupts right in front of her, and holds the ant at bay. Lera launches a kick into it, sending it crashing back down to the earth, though the mass of ants below makes that bit of martial arts only good for keeping herself clear. She lets out a long breath, then she grins.

She smiles back at Fate. Ground adds: <Yeah... well... guess my image wasn't much to keep up anyways.>

<Focus!> Sky rebukes, if gently. She turns, and stares at Neptune for a moment -- before she nods. She turns down -- and then shoots down straight into the midst of the ants. She swings Sky back, and fire leaps up the length of the Device-blade.

<Inferno Slasher!>

She swings in an arc, at a number of the ants -- and a powerful explosion rips off the sword, exploding out into the midst of the many of gem monsters.

COMBAT: Lera Camry has used Inferno Slasher on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe perfectly dodges Lera Camry's Inferno Slasher, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Hotaru Tomoe's Fade
ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Flash ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Pluto [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Even though Sailor Pluto marked the ants as livestock-sized from their early vantage, it is quite another thing to end up face to face with an insect that has several times her mass. The creature she blasted upon touchdown may be taken care of, but two of its fellows swarm in to more than fill that gap, mandibles a-snapping.

She can only defend against one. Upon the razor edge of the moment she dances, whipping the Rod up and crosswise between wide-spread arms to SHOVE it directly into the jagged maw of one. Its bite foiled, it gnaws uselessly at the sacred metal jamming up into the hinges of its jaw -- the hooked tip of that massive beak slicing the air mere inches from Pluto's cheek as she leans back.

The other strikes, as she knew it would, and she can't go anywhere while her Rod is an ant chewtoy. The most she can do is twist in place so that spiked leg grazes instead of impales, scoring her hip and taking scraps of grey-black fabric as it goes. Once it's past she has the space to rip the Rod free.

No, too simple. Glaring across the shining metal into that snapping mouth, she waits for the beast to open its widest before whipping the Rod back and free. She needs only a second to snap the weapon into full spin.

"Ivy! Good to fight by your side, finally!" She flashes a quick smile to the young witch, up over her shoulder. Then she shifts from leaning back to pushing forward, aiming all the rotational strength of the Rod at the hinge of that jaw. She does not want this thing to ever open its mouth again. "Neptune, yes, she's friend and ally! We'll need to have her for tea sometime."

COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has used Pendulum Blitz on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly counters Sailor Pluto's Pendulum Blitz, taking 18 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Pluto is Psyched!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe's counterattack, Army of Antness, partially gets through, doing 10 Fatigue damage to Sailor Pluto!  Critical
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

When Yumi was covered in ant monster (it really only takes one to cover her, slight as she is) she sent a green beam into its mouth. There it hit the gem shard at the back of its throat, and made all kinds of pretty reflected sub-beams. And the monster's whole body seemed to fuzz out for a second, like a static interruption to a TV set. This made it easy to escape.

The weakness hexes are somewhat less effective -- they're a bit fatiguing but don't seem to linger, the critters just chitter their mandibles, lower their heads, and bull on through. Specifically they bull on leg-first, trying to punch straight into the Witch and cease her barrage of spells. And those legs are sharp.

Pluto joins her on the battlefield and finds herself even more surrounded than before; apparently unfazed by her Rod, they move straight in on her personal space, where it becomes difficult to fend them off with such a long weapon, and bitebitebitebite.

Somehow, improbably, although Fuu's conjured whirlwind blasts the monsters off of her, they manage to spin in midair, right themselves, and land harmlessly. Then they rush her again, trying to rip and tear at her with their mouths. Their mindless aggression is not totally uncommon to Tokyo youma, but the relative silence -- the total inhumanity, beneath the rising moon -- somewhat eerie.

Fate blasts the one who was trying to drag her down, and how, burying it straight into the beach. It winds up six feet under and may not emerge for a long time. There are plenty more where that one came from, though, and they continue to launch each other into the air at her, exhibiting a clear teamwork. They leap for Lera, too, while she's recovering from creating an explosion that they positively scurried from.

Many of them scurried towards the rock where Steven is hiding, and in no time at all they're separating him from Sailor Neptune with their simple presence -- there's no time for an easy conversation! There are carapaces everywhere, blocking lines of sight, and creepy screechy ant faces which promise trouble if they're allowed to get any closer! More still are bearing down on Garnet and Pearl, as well. They'll have to fight their way through.

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Stabbing Claws on Yumi Ohzora.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Crushing Mandibles on Sailor Pluto.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Crushing Mandibles on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Getting Antsy on Fate Testarossa.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Getting Antsy on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Ante Up on Sailor Neptune.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Getting Antsy on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Getting Antsy on Garnet.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Getting Antsy on Pearl.
COMBAT: Lera Camry fails to dodge Hotaru Tomoe's Getting Antsy, taking 35 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Blind applied to Lera
COMBAT: Sailor Neptune fails to brace Hotaru Tomoe's Ante Up, taking 13 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Bind Break! All of Hotaru
Tomoe's debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Getting Antsy, taking 17 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Fate Testarossa's
Fade ability activates!  Fate Testarossa's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji narrowly counters Hotaru Tomoe's Crushing Mandibles, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji's counterattack, Spinning Slash, partially gets through, doing 13 Fatigue damage to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Crushing Mandibles, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Stagger and Stun
applied to Sailor Pluto!
COMBAT: Sailor Neptune covers Steven Universe for Hotaru Tomoe's attack, Getting Antsy, taking it upon herself instead!
COMBAT: Garnet fails to dodge Hotaru Tomoe's Getting Antsy, taking 30 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Diversion applied to Garnet!
COMBAT: Sailor Neptune fails to brace Hotaru Tomoe's Getting Antsy, taking 15 Fatigue damage!  Blind and Diversion applied to
Sailor Neptune!
COMBAT: Garnet covers Pearl for Hotaru Tomoe's attack, Getting Antsy, taking it upon herself instead!
COMBAT: Garnet narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Getting Antsy, taking 2 Fatigue damage!  Blind and Diversion applied to Garnet!
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Stabbing Claws, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  Yumi Ohzora's Block ability
activates!  Yumi Ohzora's Parry ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

Steven tries his best to settle down, to little effect. This mirror was so wonderful at first! But now because of it, he is in so much trouble! Yet it seems almost intelligent! Why would a mirror not want to be with the Crystal Gems?! THey were goodguys! Something isn't adding up.

The boy looks up to a familiar voice. He recognizes the lady in the Barrier Jacket, though he doesn't have a name to the face. "I-I....!" He looks the other way. Back towards Garnet. Yeah, that's a no. "I appreciate the help! But I kinda... can't!"

Yumi's presence gets his attention too, but in a panic, doesn't respond, as Garnet's starn voice over the distance causes him to visibly tense. His lips purse hearing poor frantic Pearl! He didn't mean to cause this!

He is in a bad spot. Gem ants are all around fighting, and they could turn to him any time! "Keep... moving!" he says to himself, trying to dart to a rock farther along the beach. This puts him farther in the fray, but at least closer to the opposite side. He takes another breather.

The mirror begins to react strangely. In a way it has not before. "What?! Are you trying to say something? Please!" It responds much how it did when making jokes or funny sounds-- using a compilation of what it has heard! "I... I don't understand! What do I do?! How can I help you?!"

He can't run forever. It makes him feel even worse that others are fighting against their problems around him and he can't help.

The boy tenses once again as the sound of light footfalls hit the rock above! He turns to expect Pearl but...! "A Sc-- Sco--!" He seems torn to be utterly ecstatic that one of Sailor Moon's team is actually talking to him, and the seriousness of the moment. "I-I got it from P-Pearl! But it doesn't want to be there with them! I don't know what to do! Please mirror, tell me!" he says, looking between Neptune and the 'tool'.

Before he can ask her anything, gem ants from all directions overtake the pair. Steven is unprepared and not ready for combat. Without his shield, he is a sitting duck! But as they are known for, a Sailor Senshi defends the weak! Steven backs up toward Neptune when an opening comes. "Th-Thank you! Neptune, right?! I owe you one!" The boy scans the fight for Garnet and Pearl. He hopes they don't get hurt on his account!

He looks to the mirror. It has to have an answer!

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

It would be nice if Yumi could appreciate the pretty sub-beams, but she's a little busy; these things are huge and she is very not. Tall and skinny, she's awkwardness incarnate, easy to see the ants bulling forward. They get their wish--Yumi blinks as it rushes her and throws out another green ring of runes, but a sharp leg punches through, shattering her barrier slowed down some for the trouble and stabs into her. "Aaah--!" She shoves forward with her staff to send herself backward and away, stepping quickly as she can a little further fallen back.

Yumi knows Garnet's voice. Hearing her that angry makes Yumi wince immediately. But she doesn't know why, other than having seen Steven coming. And there are ants, so...

Fate waves back at the Witch, and the Witch smiles at her, hopping in place once. "Wow, you're great!" she calls over to the blonde. Pearl she doesn't recognize, but she is calling out for Steven so fearfully, "Hey!" She points with her weapon, "He's over this way! Right over there!"

If Pearl answers her, of course.

In the meantime Yumi hears the voices from a mirror, but not the faces. She can't converge with Sailor Neptune immediately, lifting a hand to her hat to keep it on as she keeps backing up from the ants amidst explosions of Lera's magic. She tries to answer when she's addressed though, and smiles back up at Pluto. "Yes, definitely!" Yumi answers Pluto. "Let me try to make it to you...!"

But she's not sure she can. Yumi can't abandon her position; she just starts firing more beams, all at once, rapidly and brilliant and green, putting out as many as she can. "I-it's fine! I'm not probably allergic to these things! It's fine!"

The others are further up, and Yumi does her best, still wincing from being hit earlier.

COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora has used Dark Radiance on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

Fate listens to the mirror's words, "Eh?" Which is when her eyes fall upon Garnet and an unfamiliar woman with her- their concern is obvious. "Steven." Fate finally comments as she comes down lower- "You're hiding from Garnet and the others over... this?"

She sounds like she doesn't understand but she figures at least. "Well it must be important if you're- but-"

And that's when the press of ants makes it impossible for any conversation to continue.

Suddenly she has to jerk in mid-air as ants rush at her, over her- climbing over each other and them to get at her. A glancing blow strikes her and she's sent spinning through the air end over end towards the rocks. There and more. Then she pulls up just as an ant almost dashes her against them.

She uses her ability to be aerial to catch a breather.

But during all that she heard something. Fate's gaze trails between Pluto and Ivy- and- suddenly her hands clench over her polearm. "You're really on their side...?" It's a question- but it sounds disappointed. A sweet, bullied girl like Yumi and she's... "Don't you know what they're planning to do?"

She doesn't intend to start a fight here... there are more critical matters to attend to but... maybe she thinks she doesn't know. She hopes so.

Pointing Bardiche at the horde of ants he intones synthetically- <Lightning Bind.>

And that's when multiple binding rings try to form around an ant here and another there to attach upon an articulated limb and trip them up. No matter what she thinks of some of the Magical Girls here, she won't let anyone get mowed down by monsters, especially when they're trying to protect someone like Steven.

COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has used Lightning Bind on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Ants aren't supposed to be able to fly.

Yet there's no other reason coming to the Wind Knight's mind as to *how* they managed to turn around and close in on her like that. At least this time, she has her sword handy - and while the ants' mandibles dig at her armor, this time, the Wind Knight gives about as good as she gets, continuing to try and battle her way clear. There's an added edge of desperation in her swings and slashes, now - she heard Steven's voice during that brief lull, and she thinks she also heard Garnet calling out from a probably-greater distance.

Something is going on. She can't tell what, or how critical it is, but the sooner the ants are out of her way, the sooner she can find out whether it's two crises instead of one.

For now, she tries to conserve her mana, focusing on simple, straightforward melee rather than big flashy spells. It puts her at an increased risk of succumbing to weight of numbers - but if she depletes her reserves entirely and she's STILL engulfed by the giant crystalline ants, she'll be in even worse trouble.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Sword Strike on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"Kyaah!" Lera shrieks, when the ants leap. This time, they manage to connect -- and then some. Two smash into her midsection and hurl the Midchildan down to the ground, where she hits and bounces once. She scrapes along the ground, sand flying in her wake as she rolls across the beach. She comes to a stop, looking towards where Steven is.

She can't get there in time.

Her eyes narrow, before she looks forward again. "All right... enough of that, y'know?" she says. "We're not gonna let you crawl all over the city!"

Soaring Sky adds: <Literally.>

She launches forward, sword clutched in both hands, and stabs it for an ant. Then, a spike of light explodes off her blade -- as a Belkan triangle spins up behind her -- and tries to throw the ant into the horde of the rest. <Lanzebrecher!>

She looks sideways at Fate, then; her lips purse into a frown. "Fate," she says. "Let's ask her about it after the fight, y'know? We don't want to get distracted right now. But... it's important."

COMBAT: Lera Camry has used Lanzebrecher on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

She listens to Pearl speak, turning her head through her march to acknowledge her words then looks forward again, marches for a couple more moments, then stops and looks at the battle for a long moment, the ants and the girls fighting them reflecting in her shades, and at this sight at this moment of all moments...

Garnet clenches her fists, and in a burst of light that seems under the circumstances more violent than its ever been, her armored gauntlets appear on her hands! (Perhaps even now she's in tune with the Universe. the Fury of the Universe) and she lets out a cry of anger:


The gem punches a mighty fist down at the beach in front of her, sending the immediate sand under her fist flying back, and crystallizing it into a glass star.

She breathes for a second and looks at it, then back to Pearl again.

Garnet's face still appears haunted by the lingering ghosts of anger, but after letting off that steam does seem more like her usual self and she speaks to her fellow Gem.

"You're right of course." She sighs. "It looks like the other warriors here are able to hold the Corrupted Gems for now, so Steven should be our highest priority until we can deal with them. We need to protect him, but we can't let him keep the mirror. We don't know what it can do. It could be more dangerous than we can imagine." Her orders spoken, Garnet straightens for a rally: "Crystal Gems! G-" The end of which instead ends with a thump as a pair of mandibles grab onto the Gem from behind and toss her away!

For Garnet did not go to the Giant Crystal Ants so the Giant Crystal Ants kindly came to her! Another scream of anger and pain as Garnet is sent flying!

The ant clicks its mandibles, and turns its attention to Pearl, who has yet to summon her mighty spear! It senses her anxiety, smells her fear for Steven, and seems to taste her vulnerability in the air.

It her lunges for her...

...and with another thump instead finds Garnet, who arrives faster than she had left, carrying with her a small local boom of motion! The Gem monster ant sprays and gnashes and lunges at the leader of the Crystal Gems, but though visibily fighting to mantain her focus against its violent flailing, she seems to be keeping it in her grips, a gauntleted hand on each mandible, keeping them apart.

"Pearl! Go! Steven is out there!"

When she feels Pearl is clear, she channels lightning into her fists, and attempts to fry the ant!

<Pose Tracker> Lapis [None] has posed.

The sea breeze ruffles Steven's hair as he waits for his answer. He has to wait longer than he'd like -- the silence lengthens, and all he can see in the mirror's surface is his own distressed face, swirling oddly as though the mirror is liquid, twisting, contorting.

When it finally speaks again, it returns to Yumi.

"Let me..." the cute Witch murmurs demurely.

"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH--!" That would be Garnet, yelling, angry. A single syllable lengthened and warped to the mirror's purpose, though it didn't need to do anything to make her sound scary. The 't' is silent, but the message comes through very clearly nonetheless.

'Let me out'

As is the mirror's wont, once it's come up with a sentence it starts to repeat it, twice then thrice, as though someone hit the fast-forward. The voices get higher and higher.


COMBAT: Garnet has used Geofeedback! on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Pearl [None] has posed.

Garnet comes up with an action plan, wrecks ant face, and Pearl... stands there, panicking.

But that familiar voice jolts her into action -- and the view down the beach of ants rushing towards where Steven must be, moreso.

A tiny grateful smile crests her lips as she's protected, and if it's tinged bittersweet, she doesn't voice those feelings. There are more important things afoot.

"I understand!" she shouts, and in a flash of light, summons a spear to herself. It swirls to an elegant point much as it swirls into being, and as she grabs it out of the air, her knuckles flutter into tension. Her hand clenches, and she fills with determination.

"STEVEN!!!" Pearl shouts, trying to see him in the rush. To get a little height, she leaps onto the backs of the charging ants and then jumps from charger to charger. In her wake she leaves swift, precise thrusts of her spear, down through the neck. Like pinning butterflies to cards.


All in all, that might actually be really good advice right now.

COMBAT: Pearl transforms into Terrifying Renegade Pearl!
COMBAT: Pearl has used Bold, Precise, Experimental on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Neptune [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"From Pearl?" Sailor Neptune asks Steven, glancing momentarily down the beach towards the people who he seems to be fleeing from. After this, Neptune's eyes cut towards Pluto for a moment and she almost calls back a light and airy quip. Unfortunately she does not have time for that. There are far too many ants. And what is more - well; she could stand on this rock; she could leap away from them...

But that is not what happens. Despite a strike from a foreleg, a sharp and agonizing nip to the calf from one ant, and a lingering moment where Sailor Neptune's immaculate gloved hands are holding back the terrible crush of an ant's jaw - She does not flee.

"Oh - Don't mention it," Sailor Neptune answers Steven, over her shoulder. There is no sign in her voice of the strain in her arms or the agony in her leg. To herself, Neptune thinks: this is perfectly ridiculous...

With a voiced "hora!" Neptune shoves that ant back with sufficient oomph that it may yet bowl over some of its comrades. As she brushes her wrist over her forehead, she raises her voice again. "They're too quick - like other ants. Slow them up!" she calls out.

Breathing more heavily, Sailor Neptune glances back to Steven again. "Now," she states as she weaves aside from an incoming ant-bite and aims a sudden shoulder-check at its joint between head and thorax, "Who is Pearl, exactly?"

A moment later, Sailor Neptune suspects she knows who it is. "Here!" she calls to Pearl, even as a thrashing ant briefly strikes her against that self-same rock against which Steven had taken cover a moment ago. "Gh-"

COMBAT: Sailor Neptune has used The Far Reaches Of The Cometary Nebula on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly braces Yumi Ohzora's Dark Radiance, taking 15 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly dodges Fate Testarossa's Lightning Bind, taking 2 Fatigue damage!  Hotaru Tomoe's Fade ability
activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Flash ability activates!  Stun and Trap applied to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly braces Fuu Hououji's Sword Strike, taking 3 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe perfectly dodges Lera Camry's Lanzebrecher, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Critical Dodge!  Hotaru
Tomoe's Fade ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly braces Sailor Neptune's The Far Reaches Of The Cometary Nebula, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Sailor
Neptune is Psyched!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly counters Garnet's Geofeedback!, taking 12 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe's counterattack, Army of Antness, partially gets through, doing 16 Fatigue damage to Garnet!  Critical
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly braces Pearl's Bold, Precise, Experimental, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Pearl is Psyched!  Stun
applied to Hotaru Tomoe!
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

At this point the whole world is the dimming gray sky, the all-but-black sea, and giant ants. Fate binds and Yumi blasts; Fuu stabs and Lera chucks one straight into the ocean, while Neptune manages to shove three into each other and send them toppling, like she's Queen Of The Rock.

Garnet turns one crispy-fried, though it doesn't poof; darn these things for being so freakishly tough. And where she was only dealing with the one, now there's a herd pressing towards her. And Pearl's smaller wounds aren't poofing anything either.

There's another concern, though -- the tides of monster-ants seem to be starting to turn... inward. The center of the swarm, such as it is, is somewhere on the beach. There are no more emerging from the ocean, so the gang must all be here. The densest portion is around the Witches, mages, Knight; and with the sort of gentle ebb that disguises a horrifying undertow, the ants all start oozing that direction.

And then, all at once! A blinding flash of beautiful, terrible light!

There are a few smaller ants far enough away that they're still out there, still getting in the way, especially near Steven and the Crystal Gems, but the vast majority have fused together into something that has far too many of those legs, and jaws, and gem shards. There are enough of them now that they do a fair facsimile of glittering eyes, though there were never any of those before. However these creatures navigated, it was not through the power of sight.

Mouths open up all up and down its thirty-foot-tall height, and scream as one.


COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe transforms into Gem Ant Fusion!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Blinding Light, Screeching Monster on Sailor Neptune.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Blinding Light, Screeching Monster on Pearl.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Blinding Light, Screeching Monster on Garnet.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Blinding Light, Screeching Monster on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Blinding Light, Screeching Monster on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Blinding Light, Screeching Monster on Fate Testarossa.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Blinding Light, Screeching Monster on Yumi Ohzora.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Blinding Light, Screeching Monster on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Blinding Light, Screeching Monster, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  Yumi Ohzora's
Block ability activates!  Yumi Ohzora's Parry ability activates!  Blind, Cripple, and Stun applied to Yumi Ohzora!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa perfectly counters Hotaru Tomoe's Blinding Light, Screeching Monster, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical
Counter!  Fate Testarossa's Reverse ability activates!  Fate Testarossa's Tactician ability activates!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa's counterattack, Blitz Rush, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Blinding Light, Screeching Monster, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji's
Fade ability activates!  Fuu Hououji's Flash ability activates!  Blind, Cripple, and Stagger applied to Fuu Hououji!
COMBAT: Pearl narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Blinding Light, Screeching Monster, taking 12 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Pearl's
Fade ability activates!  Pearl's Flash ability activates!  Blind, Cripple, Stagger, and Stun applied to Pearl!
COMBAT: Pearl tries to cover Steven Universe for Hotaru Tomoe's attack, Blinding Light, Screeching Monster, but cannot get there
in time!
COMBAT: Lera Camry fails to dodge Hotaru Tomoe's Blinding Light, Screeching Monster, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Cripple and
Stagger applied to Lera Camry!
COMBAT: Pearl covers Steven Universe for Hotaru Tomoe's attack, Blinding Light, Screeching Monster, taking it upon herself
COMBAT: Pearl perfectly counters Hotaru Tomoe's Blinding Light, Screeching Monster, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Counter!
Pearl's Reverse ability activates!  Pearl's Tactician ability activates!
COMBAT: Pearl's counterattack, Dance of Swords, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Garnet narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Blinding Light, Screeching Monster, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Garnet's Fade ability
activates!  Garnet's Flash ability activates!  Blind, Cripple, Stagger, and Stun applied to Garnet!
COMBAT: Sailor Neptune fails to dodge Hotaru Tomoe's Blinding Light, Screeching Monster, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Cripple,
Stagger, and Stun applied to Sailor Neptune!
<Pose Tracker> Pearl [None] has posed.

Pearl runs faster and faster, her ballet slippers touching the tops of antmonster heads for just the briefest of moments, her speartip briefer still. Her peach-pink hair is too short to truly stream behind her, but as she lowers her head and charges, it nonetheless feels like a banner in her wake.

She abruptly runs out of monsters to run over, and pitters onto the sand. For a few seconds she closes with Steven, but then she pauses -- creating a spray of sand with her sudden stop -- to reflect upon why and how this is possible.

She turns towards the center of the battlefield just in time to get bowled over by the shriek, blinded by the flash. But she doesn't just lie there; the opposite is true. This aural, audible abuse has driven her to greater heights: she MUST NOT let Steven experience this awfulness! She WILL NOT! ABSOLUTELY NOT!

"ABSOLUTELY NOT!" Pearl screams it out loud, too, without quite realizing it. She launches herself into the air, nearly as high as the monster itself, and descends towards it, spear-point first. It's so sharp and swift that it cuts light, cuts sound, and Steven winds up in a momentary stripe of darkness and silence, as though she's casting an impossibly long and precise shadow.


Fighting the giant monster is not strictly what Garnet told her to do, but whatever trouble the mirror might bring, she can't look at that creature and abide it getting any closer to her sworn ward. Faster and faster she falls, until finally --

-- impact! --

COMBAT: Pearl has used In The Name Of Rose Quartz on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly braces Pearl's In The Name Of Rose Quartz, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Hotaru Tomoe's Block ability
activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Parry ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

Steven looks up to Fate, but before much could be said to her, ants are attacking her! In the air...? Hopefully she doesn't get hurt! He will have to find out who she is and get her a gift or something! He should be fighting these ants. Him, Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl!

His hearing is hyper-sensitive to Garnet's voice right now. Every time he hears her talk, he tenses. He is so scared of her right now. But he knows she won't do him any harm! Is it fear for the mirror's fate that is overtaking him?!

The mirror finally responds! In a most frightening way with the last part, making him flinch, but he gets the message! "I want to! I really do! Please! Tell me how!" He starts trying to manipulate the mirror, such as shaking it, and looking for buttons. Nothing seems to work! "I don't understand what you want me to do!" Tell me!" he says, shaking the mirror. The voices of the other Crystal gems making him sweat even more as he looms over the reflective surface.

Neptune and Yumi begin to call out his location! "N-No! Wait!" he stammers, but it is too late. He is trying to flee from them, but he knows both of them are trying to help rescue him. It is a moral quandry that has him a little angry at the two of them at this moment, but will surely be thankful for it after this is all over.

The ants continue thair assault. Where did they all come from? They must be after the temple again. Are they really attracted to the Temple? "Look out!" he shouts, as the vast majority of ants fuse into one, and let out an ear-piercing shriek! He braces for the thunderous impact, and then... nothing. A look up shows Pearl dancing with the creature and where her shadow passes, the sound does not. "Thank you Pearl!" he yells back. Crap, now he gave away his position. The boy tries to take cover around the rock again.

"Please buddy! Show me what I can do to help you!" People are getting hurt! He has to hurry!

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

Good news: the Magic Knight of Wind is no longer besieged on all sides by giant ants.

Bad news: That's because all of the remaining ants have combined into something better summed up as Antzilla.

Worse news: The Gem Ant Fusion is probably a LOT more dangerous than the mere sum of its parts - and its opening scream, before it's even properly started attacking, makes the Wind Knight collapse to her knees, barely jabbing her sword into the sand in time to stave off a complete collapse to the sand.

"Ugh ... !" she groans, her ears ringing, her head hurting like the sound were a physical wedge being driven into her skull, and her sense of balance thrown so far out of whack that she can't even be entirely sure which way is which. On the plus side, she can at least tell *roughly* which of the shapes around her are allies, as opposed to monstrous gem ants. Colors help a lot on that, as do comparative sizes.

"Winds of Healing!" she calls out, focusing the spell first on herself - she needs to get back on her feet, and quickly - and then focusing it on two of her allies: Pearl and Lera, it turns out, as the world starts to come back into focus. The Wind Knight shakes her head to finish clearing it as her healing spell completes its work, and her sword vanishes, replaced by bow and quiver as focus returns to the world.

One good look at the fusion'd Gem Ant, though, and she ALMOST wishes it hadn't. But at least she can see what's trying to kill them now.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Healing on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Healing on Pearl.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Healing on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji accepts Fuu Hououji's Winds of Healing, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Cleanse! All of Fuu Hououji's debuffs are
COMBAT: Lera Camry accepts Fuu Hououji's Winds of Healing, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Cleanse! All of Lera Camry's debuffs are
<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

Fate stares at Yumi for the longest of times... then finally nods at what Lera says, "Alright... another time."

Fate- doesn't get what's happening when the gems suddenly turn inwards. "Are they retreat-" And then suddenly there's a giant ant horror right next to her. The little girl's mouth hangs open for a short while out of lack of comprehension. "I-"

All of its many maws open. <Blitz Rush>

In a Golden Flash that she's known for, the movement spell creates a flickering trail of Fate Testarossas just as the horrifying scream makes contact with the rocks.

The mage cowers behind it for a short while until it stops and she hears only a few rocks falling behind her. "That was close." <Yes Sir.>

The girl floats upwards to the top of the cliffside- looking upon the bravery of the spear wielding woman in his defense. "If this goes on any longer she'll have a hard time keeping Steven safe..." Taking a deep breath, she extends a palm towards the creature. Within it, energy starts to gather. At first the size of a pinprick, but ever growing.

A trio of runic circles form over her wrist. One after another. She looks upon the horrifying creature ahead of them and the light reflecting in its myriad of eyes. The girl swallows and thinks of another girl who matters so much to her.

And then it starts with a whisper- "Plasma-" The orb within her palm collapses, and becomes a riotous outpouring of energy flashing alternatively gold, purple and violet as it attempts to over the corrupted gem fusion. "-SMASSSHHHHHERRRR!"

COMBAT: FINISHER! Fate Testarossa has used Plasma Smasher on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Neptune [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

The swift motion of Pearl draws Sailor Neptune's attention; her exclamation has a certain fervency that does not quite echo her own heart, but she can't argue with Pearl's efficient and glorious spear dance. Steven, Neptune thinks.

The ants suddenly flash!

Neptune shields her eyes and, perhaps, her shadow will give Steven some surcease. As the pain in her eyes fades, another ant nearly manages to bite down on her hairstyle, but another twist prevents it from dining upon seafood tonight. The ants have...

Ah, Sailor Neptune thinks to herself with a certain bleak weariness: There it is. That's the central one. She purses her lips for a moment and is about to speak when -


Her hair flutters in the passing breeze, even as Sailor Neptune says - a bit too loud, for her ears are ringing - "Please don't worry, Steven-san; I've had enough of this creature." Her hands press together for a moment as she centers herself, blinking away the phosphors in her vision. Her arms raise up as if to beseech the sky -

Sailor Neptune twirls once, perhaps for the sheer delight of it, as the sea itself seems to rise up from the sands, pouring around her. The water may pass through Steven, delightfully cool rather than the chilling icy brine that he would experience if he actually dove into the Pacific right now; it seems to rise behind the Sailor Senshi as she turns.

The feeling is like falling, Michiru always thinks, but it's a wonderful fall. The power rises, as do the surge of aqua waves behind her, the tide receding in a slight yet notable way as it flows beneath the sands of the Tokyo Bay beach. "Deep--" Sailor Neptune begins as the water's spiralling helices come together above her hands.

A sphere forms, halations of aqua light shimmering out like carelessly strewn jewels. The water, the force, flows into it as another pirouette completes matters, Neptune's eyes open again. They look at the massive ant now, centered, calm, without fear.


With both hands the glorious spell is thrown, the glittering ring around the central stormy ball trailing violet and magenta as it streaks across the sullen nightlitten sands, rising again to meet the ant halfway!

COMBAT: FINISHER! Sailor Neptune has used Deep Submerge! on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Lapis [None] has posed.

Again the mirror is quiet for a long moment, there in Steven's hands, but it seems to be thinking. Preparing. Gathering its strength, perhaps.

Its surface begins to glow, which in turn illuminates Steven's like a flashlight facsimile of a ghost around a campfire. The radiance lingers in his eyes.

Gradually it clouds with blue, swirling mist, which swirls into a constant plane. It zooms out -- it was the mirror, visualizing itself! Clearly we have wholly departed from its projecting things it's already seen. And the mirror-in-mirror spins, revealing its back, where its teardrop gem sits.

The vision shows a chubby, big-haired boy in lighter blue -- surely Steven. He reaches down, pulls the gem off the mirror, and holds it over his head. It shimmers into blinding white light--!

And then the mirror is dark, blank.


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

Lera doubles over, when the screech hits her ears. She resists the urge to cover them -- but it's loud, and piercing, and enough to drive her to distraction. When it ends, her ears still ring; she blinks a few times, until wind rushes around her. The Winds of Healing surge over Lera. She nods her thanks to the Wind Knight.

"Thanks," she says, breath a little shaky. She sees the bright light -- and then turns towards the nearest ant. Her eyes narrow.

The Midchildan flies at it, rushing across the ground in a steady bolt of light, before she launches herself back into a snapkick -- and tries to smash its head into the ground with her magically-created boot.

COMBAT: Lera Camry has used Sonic Kick on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly braces Lera Camry's Sonic Kick, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Lera Camry is Psyched!  Hotaru Tomoe's
Block ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Parry ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Yumi doesn't have the benefit of flying upward to get out of things; she can only do her best to stay out of jaws. But that doesn't prevent her looking over at Fate, hearing her question and blinking in surprise at the younger girl. Pink eyes stare her way, hear disappointment. Fate's seen Yumi in places she wouldn't ordinarily share. And now...

"...We could talk sometime," Yumi says, more serious now, no longer bright and bouncing. "But yes, I know. And I am. They have good reasons."

Yumi steps back, dips her head and her hat, and gets back to fighting. She can't afford to spend all her time on this discussion.

Garnet is here, there's so much happening all at once. She hears her own voice again. She hears them looking for Steven, and looks worried in that direction. But maybe Neptune has that covered? Neptune, who Yumi watches a few moments more. She can't entirely help it.

The monsters are so many, and just as Yumi is getting used to that terror there is awful, awful light that burns and brightens. That scream makes her feel heavy, her eyes are filled with stars, she staggers while trying to walk. "W-what was..." She stumbles.

"I won't..." She shouts, "I won't let you hurt these people!" A strange thing for her to say if she has those affiliations, maybe, though she adds, "...Sorry. I know you're probably just hungry, but..."

Yumi doesn't know why Steven was saying to wait, but there's a huge monster here now. That's how it works, right?

Yumi holds her staff out in one hand, holds her other hnd forward, and a black glow begins to radiate from that hand. She traces a set of symbols before her, ethereal, "Sleeping power be bound by my will!" The rules still glowing, Yumi holds her hand aloft, staff's head glowing radiant green. "VERDANT FLARE!"

From her hand comes a beam slightly wider than her handspan, drawing light from all around, and when it finds a target it triples in width, forcing Yumi to step back to hold its power.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Yumi Ohzora has used Verdant Flare on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to brace Yumi Ohzora's Finisher, Verdant Flare, taking 96 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to brace Fate Testarossa's Finisher, Plasma Smasher, taking 132 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to brace Sailor Neptune's Finisher, Deep Submerge!, taking 105 Fatigue damage!
<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet spies from the corner of her eye as the electrified ant falls back from her charge, that Pearl has reached Steven, and in the fusion and the flash of the ants, along with the acidic juices of the ant before, it's one of the last thing she sees as her normal sight vanishes.

For a moment she knows true blindness, and doesn't know what has become of the monsters... the other girls, or especially her beloved family.

Unable to see any physical light, the only light she feels is sparked by Pearl's cries of detemination, the Gem takes comfort that the ants didn't get the best of her, and that Pearl is there for Steven.

Garnet concentrates on the future, and peers at the current situation and the unfolding paths before her.

There was indeed as foretold by the shriek and blind, one giant Gem ant there.

And looking further, there far too many Futures where it turned its attentions to Steven, and despite being angry at him... Pearl said it best. ABSOLUTELY NOT.

She can't let that happen.

Blind and so far away, she can't reach it with her fists, and perhaps shouldn't. Several possible futures show oncoming waves of magic she'd best be clear of, so she raises her armored gauntlets and fires a globe of green coruscating ball lightning the size of a small vehicle at the towering Corruption.

If she can only divert its attention... maybe the other girls here can beat it back down to its Gem... and hopefully it will give Pearl the time she needs to recover Steven.

COMBAT: Garnet has used Adamantine Spark on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to brace Garnet's Adamantine Spark, taking 17 Fatigue damage!
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

The tables have turned -- where the ant army had surrounded everyone, everyone surrounds the single, massive omni-ant. There are a few on the periphery; Lera, notably, diverts a group that was heading towards Steven with a single, mighty kick. And the rest are taken care of by the huge attacks heading towards the center, in much the same way that a bug on the highway isn't the objective of the speeding semi-truck, but gets, nonetheless, smooshed.

Yumi and Fate's green and yellow beams are sustained, and they create between them a sickly pallor that coats the battlefield. It turns a bit bluer when Sailor Neptune's immense orb comes in, and then all three explode.

There's another flash of light.

But as the smoke clears, the monster screams out of its many many-mandibled mouths. It remains.

Then Garnet's sedan-sized electric orb explodes across its face. It has no eyes, but its attention seems to... narrow, to the Gem across the beach, and the smaller one, who has landed neatly at its base. (Not its feet. It doesn't have feet, just legs. Lots and lots of legs.)

It starts thrashing wildly, knowing well that it can devastate anyone or anything it hits. It doesn't have to be able to see -- everyone's an enemy, now, and any remaining ants who get smooshed by it simply get absorbed into the chitinous carapace.

Sand sprays everywhere, creating a second cloud.

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Titanic Tantrum on Garnet.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Titanic Tantrum on Yumi Ohzora.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Titanic Tantrum on Sailor Neptune.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Titanic Tantrum on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Titanic Tantrum on Fate Testarossa.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Titanic Tantrum on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Titanic Tantrum on Pearl.
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Titanic Tantrum, taking 31 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Fate
Testarossa's Fade ability activates!  Fate Testarossa's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Pearl accepts Fuu Hououji's Winds of Healing, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Cleanse! All of Pearl's debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: Pearl perfectly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Titanic Tantrum, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Pearl's Fade ability
activates!  Pearl's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora narrowly counters Hotaru Tomoe's Titanic Tantrum, taking 72 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Yumi Ohzora's
Reverse ability activates!  Yumi Ohzora's Tactician ability activates!
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora's counterattack, Witch's Mirror, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji narrowly braces Hotaru Tomoe's Titanic Tantrum, taking 53 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji's Block ability
activates!  Fuu Hououji's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Sailor Neptune narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Titanic Tantrum, taking 23 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Garnet narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Titanic Tantrum, taking 33 Fatigue damage!  Garnet's Fade ability activates!
Garnet's Flash ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

How will he repay all these people coming to the Crystal Gems aid, especially when he didn't pull his weight? This is a team effort! He should be in there! But there is something... about this mirror. But Garnet and Pearl are distracted by the fusion ant. It gives him a moment of time...!

"Th-Thank you, Sailor Neptune," he says, smiling weakly. The boy takes a few breaths more. The situation is dire. THe mirror is blank. No response--

"Wh--" is all that comes out, as the mirror lights up radiantly. It begins to show an image styling it has not displayed yet, animating and unfurling a scene it made itself. The clouds clear upon the surface, and the mirror shows itself, and its back, where an item resides. Steven himself is depicted prying this strange item off of the back, and a blinding flash makes him look away.

"I... Okay." The boy turns the mirror over. a teardrop shaped cerulean gem, beautiful but cracked, is there. "That has to be...!" A look of determination comes over him, and he reaches down, digging his fingers into the gem's edges. He begins to pry it from its socket.

It doesn't budge, but he keeps prying.

His fignertips turn white, but he keeps prying.

His fingernails begin to bend back in pain, but he keeps prying...!

"Come... on...!"

<Pose Tracker> Lapis [None] has posed.

The mirror remains silent, unresponsive, but there is a rising sense of power.

The ocean crashes and booms, at a higher cadence than usual. Huge waves pummel the beach, drag down the sand, and return to the sea.

The ones closest to Steven leave streams of water behind, held in place by an invisible force. They create an intricate circle all around him, not dissimilar to a mage's, but this is no Earthly arcana. The geometry is both elegant and simple. It is also... just a little bit distorted.

The gem itself moves -- just a little -- as though clinging to Steven's hand as tightly as he's clinging to it. Just a little more, Steven! It feels like it's -- almost -- there!

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

Was it enough? The scream out of the clearing smoke tells her it was not.

Not long after Garnet strikes it's thrashing causes to crash into the top of the rock she was standing on- a moment ago.

She's showered by rock shards as she soars across the way, before it's wriggling carapace glances off of her again. Fate is sent hurtling through the sky until she strikes against the sand- carving out a long furrow.

The girl suddenly bursts out of it, wiggling her own head and shaking sand off her long twintails, spitting out beach sand. Her eyes flicker over to Lera- then to Steven. What is he doing? Doesn't he know the danger?

He has to after everything the Sailor Senshi and the Spear wielder have done to preserve his life!

She decides she has to push a little further if she's going to help keep everyone safe. "Lera- I'm going to try to help give you an opening!"

Four runic firing rings start to float around her, as arrowheads of crackling electricity form within. <Plasma Lancer>

She cuts Bardiche across the horizontal- "FIRE!"

The arrowheads all lance forward towards the wriggling creature. If they miss, then she waves a hand- "TURN!" The firing rings would then appear around them anew- and they would invert back towards their target trying to pierce it from many different angles and electrify it from within.

COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has used Plasma Lancer on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Somehow, the giant gem-ant monster's second scream doesn't lash at the Wind Knight's ears and brain as badly as its first shriek did; rather than dwell on it, she gives thanks for small blessings - only to get sent flying into the air by a series of titanic (and almost-sharp) kicks.

How is it moving *that* fast? ... Well, the conventional laws of physics clearly don't apply, or the square-cube law would have reared its head on the ants well before now; if not the individually-large forms, then certainly this kaiju-scale monstrosity.

A hastily conjured updraft, angled off from vertical, helps control her arc and assist the Wind Knight in alighting on her feet. That onslaught took a lot out of her, but with a little luck and a lot of effort, maybe the monster can finally be taken down ... although given that the combination of the Ivy Witch's, Fate's, and Neptune's full-tilt attacks didn't bring the fusion monster down ...

No. She can't think like that.

Some monsters show signs of being weakened before they're finally defeated; some just keep lashing out without any discernible 'wearing-down' effect, and there are some who hit even harder, as if fueled by desperation, before finally succumbing.

Every little bit makes a difference, and she *knows* this; the Wind Knight reaches out, drawing on the well of magical power which her will and determination fuel, and gathering up the breezes around her, laden as they are with the scent and mist of the ocean. Her skirts are ruffled, her hair tousled as she raises her arms, drawing her hands back, bow and quiver vanishing unused; her fingers flex briefly as if to solidify her grip ...


Her left arm sweeps forward, then her right, and the breeze becomes a tempest, the wrath of the storm directed against the ant monster. Smash it apart to individual ants, blow it out to sea, or simply hammer it flat and tear it apart limb by limb; she hardly cares *how* the monster is destroyed as long as it *is* destroyed. She's simply hitting it with everything she has .... even if 'everything she has' isn't exactly at high ebb.

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

Fate stares at Yumi, and Yumi stares back for as long as she can. That's not all that long though. They all keep fighting, especially to Yumi her friends and Neptune. But many. There's a lot to be done here. Yumi tries to crash forward, and it's nice to have her beam work with Fate's, with Neptune's. But the creature is still there.

Yumi is at least used to that happening sometimes, even if her breath seizes for a moment. This thing is still going, still big, and its thrashing... Yumi throws out a mystic sigil to try to bounce back its force, but its incredible size and mass breaks through her spell complete, slamming her down and into the sand and backward until she hits hard against a concrete barrier. She can't even stand at first, and she disappears into the sand. "Aah..." She coughs, and coughs again a few more times, barely able to stand. "What do I..." She still can't stand, but she can hear the others still going, so slowly she drags herself to her feet anyway, letting her staff's glow help light her way. "Get... really still," she murmurs, "Before you get any... kills?"

"Ugh that's a terrible spell," Yumi says as she throws her hand out and casts out the curse to try to erupt from beneath her foe.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Fuu Hououji has used Emerald Cyclone: Focused on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora has used Ivy Binding on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Neptune [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

The thanks is a pleasant feeling, but Sailor Neptune can't respond to Steven quite so clearly for the moment. When her hurled spell, the height of her power, doesn't sink the thing - the hurling wind of sand and fury smashes into her, her arm coming up to guard her face, stepping back and nearly INTO Steven in an effort to get to cover!

The storm fades and Neptune leans against the stone for a moment. The fact that its face towards the sea is visibly shinier now, this is not a fact that escapes her. Fate Testarossa is still airborne, still moving...

Sailor Neptune sweeps her hair back with one hand. "I suppose that this is not what I thought it might be. I suppose you'll forgive my interruption, though?" Neptune asks Steven, or really, speaks to herself, because she is overcoming a subtle sense of being daunted.

And overcome it she does. Sweeping her hands out with a flourish, that sea-green force rises again, toppling forwards with glittering, cetacean-shaped force towards the massive macro-ant; it spins as it moves near the Emerald Cyclone, looping back round with renewed strength after.

"You may need to run, Steven-kun," Sailor Neptune says without looking over her shoulder. "Don't worry; it will be alright."

That was easier than I thought, Michiru considers to herself. Is it always so easy?

COMBAT: Sailor Neptune has used Dolphin Wave on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to brace Fate Testarossa's Plasma Lancer, taking 19 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to brace Yumi Ohzora's Ivy Binding, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Stun applied to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to brace Fuu Hououji's Finisher, Emerald Cyclone: Focused, taking 64 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
Hotaru Tomoe is unable to keep fighting!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe narrowly braces Sailor Neptune's Dolphin Wave, taking 19 Fatigue damage!  Hotaru Tomoe is unable to keep
fighting!  Hotaru Tomoe's Block ability activates!  Hotaru Tomoe's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Lera Camry narrowly dodges Hotaru Tomoe's Titanic Tantrum, taking 44 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Lera Camry's Fade
ability activates!  Lera Camry's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe is unable to keep fighting!
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

The monster thrashes across the field. Lera leaps -- and still doesn't quite get away in time. A leg swings in close and slams into her, and she flies across the battlefield. She rolls with it, though -- while she cuts a groove in the sand, she comes up in a three-point stance, and lets out a shaky breath as she looks up, amber eyes locked on the thing. She watches her friends opening up on it.

Still not down, she realizes.

"Sky!" she calls out. "We better chip in, buddy! They're gonna need the help, y'know?"

<Right! Buy them some time.>

Lera points her long sword towards the gem creature. It splits down the middle, gold and silver portions dividing, and arcs of plasma lightning leap between the split blades. A trio of spinning control rings, filled with runes, appear. They spin in front of the sword, as the arcs of plasma grow brighter and brighter, and a distinct white-hot glow appears.

<Aurora Burst...>

And then she releases it. The blast of energy shoots across the beach -- a little of the sand right under the beam flash-heats into glass -- and goes colliding towards the enormous gem monster.


COMBAT: FINISHER! Lera Camry has used Aurora Burst Ray on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to dodge Lera Camry's Finisher, Aurora Burst Ray, taking 173 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Hotaru
Tomoe is unable to keep fighting!
<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet is in bad shape. Consumed with concern for her family after Pearl's words, her mind was not on this battle. This horrible battle. Why here, why now?! Of all times.

Her attention divided, every time the Corrupted Gems assaulted her, their aim struck true, leaving her battered, staggered, stunned, blinded. She takes hit after hit, but can't leave them behind, has to carry on. Pearl, Steven, and Amethyst, the people of the Earth... what would happen to them if... When the sand wave comes her way, Garent attempts to dodge, and just barely manages to dive out range of its heaviest layer, it catches the Gem completely on the side and sends her skidding back, until she grabs onto the ground with her gauntlets, leaving a trail of long fingermarks.

but eventually, she stops and... drags herself to her feet.

She still can't see... she focuses on the Future, borrowing her eyes of tomorrow in lieu of her eyes today. She goes first of course, to Steven.

He's safe. For now. Pearl doesn't have him with her, but he's safe.

He still has the mirror...

and he's... turning it around... and pulling at the gem...

...pulling out the gem...

Water from the ocean seethes onto the shore, and it forms a lattice... (is it bracing him)? He keeps pulling... the gem begins to pry away from the mirror and....

A giant thorax crashes down and smashes Steven, mirror and all! There's not even a sign of the boy beneath its bulk.

Her face becomes one of horror and Garnet follows another Future, it happens again. And again. And again.

There's one where Pearl rescues him, one where before the lines form, Fate flys him away. One where Yumi snatches him up with a vine.

But then the moments where the Ant claims him are the clear winners of the draw, and Garnet watches as Steven is smashed. Gnashed. Gobbled. Disintegrated. Over and over.

There are too many of these.

The message is clear, they can't risk trying to secure Steven before taking out the Corrupted Gem.

"PEARL!" Garnet pulls herself to her feet as she calls for her teammate. "It's too dangerous to leave the..." Garnet stops and chooses her word carefully... "Monster!" for after we've secured Steven! We have to take care of it NOW!" "I can't see to hit it on my own without hitting Steven! Pearl! I need you to help me.! I leave it in your hands!"

Garnet's voice rings with confidence in her fellow Gem and teammate, and she points her gauntlets to the sky.

The color drains from the area around her, and her immediate space pulses and warps as electricity charges around her. After the pause in color and sound, her gauntlets erupt into a stream of gigantic multicolored neon ball lightning, which scream up into the clouds directly above the Crystal Ant Queen!

The clouds pulse rhthymically with that same colored light: pinks, yellows, greens oranges and blues, as the clouds absorb them, there's the rumble of thunder from above...

COMBAT: FINISHER! Garnet has started a combo targeting Hotaru Tomoe!
<Pose Tracker> Pearl [None] has posed.

Fuu's winds of healing wrap Pearl, then release her, and as something of a blithe spirit herself, an aerial being, she smiles at their touch. She lost her spear somewhere in the massive beast's form, and summons another purely to salute the noble Knight for her compassion.

Steven's gratitude warms her but not as much as his simple survival. That wild charge was totally worth it, and the various abrasions on her form are a very small price to pay for his safety. And now, in the heat of battle, she goes from a sort of cost-benefit analysis about defeating the monster vs. securing the mirror, to the laser focus of a veteran with one thing on her mind and one thing only.

Her eyes narrow to slits.

This tiny, tiny warrior is clearly about to charge the godzilla-scale monster head on--


She blinks.

She listens.

Comprehension dawns in her eyes, the light blasting away the grim-gazed darkness from moments before. "GARNET!" she yells back, over the rising storm.

Garnet needs her help. Garnet is leaving it in her hands.

Leaving Steven... in her hands.

Sand blows past her in complex swirls. Distantly, the ocean swirls too, at Steven's feet.

Her lips press into a stern line, and she spins on her heels, turning away from the beast.

With every rhythmic pulse of the clouds above, she's conjuring another spear, and hurling it like a javelin. They disappear at all angles, and for a long period it's like they aren't coming back.

It's then that the thrashing of the monster comes Pearl's way, and the warrior walks along with the tantrum as patiently as any mother. Two steps back... three strides over... twirl... leap...

And then, right around the time that everyone's forgotten about the spears, they come back down, falling as one in a circle around the gigantic Corrupted Gem. They plunge into the sand point-first. Not a single one finds its mark in the carapace.

Good thing that wasn't where she was aiming.

Her lips twist into a knowing smirk as Garnet's lightning-infused sky erupts with lightning, lightning which pours downward towards the spears, each of whose butt glistens with a seed they collected in the clouds. The rods collect the electricity, and then explode, each sending a beam of energy towards two rods across the circle.

It traces a complex, many-pointed star.

Needless to say, the beam intersects the monster many times. Many times, indeed.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Pearl has joined the combo started by Garnet!
COMBAT: COMBO! FINISHER! Garnet and Pearl have used Cool Electro and Do It For Her on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to brace Garnet and Pearl's Finisher, Combo: Cool Electro, taking 270 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
Hotaru Tomoe is unable to keep fighting!
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

The monster is getting tired, and it's getting wounded, too -- it had lost quite a few legs and mouths to the last round of explosions, and finds itself too weak to tear itself away from Fate's impaling lightning strikes, Yumi's ivy. One after the next, Fuu's cyclone, Neptune's oceanic slam, Lera's auroric ray and finally the combined efforts of the Crystal Gems to define themselves as more than the sum of their parts -- they come for the monster, and they arrive furiously.

There is, obviously, yet another explosion. In the middle of it is a distinctive 'POP!' noise.

And so this time when it clears, there's nothing left of the beast but a few dozen gem shards, which start falling like rain towards the beach. They don't feel malevolent. They don't really feel like anything. They're just... rocks.

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

"Just a little more! I almost got it...!" Steven growls out. His fingers hurt badly, but for the mirror's sake, he isn't giving up! He sees something happening below him, but he is too focused on getting this gemstone out to care. Getting to the bottom of this mystery is is incredibly important.

THe mirror has brought him laughter and joy for the time they have been hanging out as best beach summer buddies. It helped answer questions about Gems too! It even was able to illustrate a story that was difficult to understand regarding the World Tree.

This was the least he can do for it. Set it free, or disable it, or help it be better at what it does. Away from the Crystal Gems. But surely there is more to it. He has never seen any of the caretakers do something negative. Theres more to this. And he is getting to the bottom of it.

"Don't worry, Sailor Neptune, I almost got it...!" he says through gritted teeth. "I can run then!" Or more aptly, he would probably join the fray.

The tips of his actual fingers find purchase under the gemstone. The boy hunkers down, and with all of his might, gives one last effort!


The teardrop shaped gemstone releases from the back of the mirror, and the boy holds it, staring for a second. What is it? But moments later, the mirror shatters into a thousand pieces, making a racket akin to a wrecking ball hitting a wall made of mirrors, much louder than one would expect a small hand mirror would make.

A brilliant blue light erupts from the teardrop gem, and Steven has to look away as he feels it suddenly ripped from his grasp! By a person? No... something else...!

<Pose Tracker> Lapis [None] has posed.

In the moment that Steven tears the gem off the mirror, the thin veneer of seawater that had traced patterns around Steven's feet, held in place by an unseen power, splashes back into nothingness.

Then -- then the gem -- no, the Gem -- a beautiful blue teardrop, criss-crossed by a scarily deep set of cracks -- shines brilliantly as it floats over to the water. The intensity of the light rises, until, finally, a shape blossoms out of it.

Arms, legs. Hair. Flowing ribbons. And the Gem itself, now in the center of her back, between her shoulder blades.

From head to toe, the mysterious woman is various shades of blue -- robin's egg skin, stormy sea hair, something in between, almost royal, for her dress, which is both playfully summery in its halter top, and rather ritualistic and formal in the expanse of the skirts.

She hovers for several long seconds, suspended by this transformative power, then heaves a deep breath, up her toes to her shoulders and even her hair -- and collapses on the shore.

COMBAT: Mirror Gem transforms into Lapis Lazuli!
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

After a few moments, Steven's eyes clear. It appears the giant fusion ant is defeated. Thank goodness. But more importantly, the gemstone he was ocne holding is floating on its own toward the seashore! THe boy is stunned as he watches on, dropping the now broken mirror.

A feminine figure blooms from the gem, and floats for a moment, before falling to her knees. "Wh-Wha?!" he lets out. He looks back to all the others before running over. "Who..."

He doesn't seem to have the words to say at the moment, being so surprised! IS this...? No way, it couldn't be...!

She looks like she could use some help! Was this really what was inside the mirror? The thing he had so much fun with these past days?

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

A joint effort. Every little bit helps; a monster that withstood their individual attacks is finally worn away and utterly destroyed, leaving nothing but shards of gems.

The Magic Knight of Wind lets out a shaky breath, lowering her arms, and looks around. "Is everybody all right?" she calls out. "If there's anyone who needs heal...ing ...." And she trails off, her gaze resting on the blue-hued light taking shape.

She didn't see Steven struggling to pry the gem out of the mirror. She didn't see that was where this new form came from. She doesn't draw a weapon - but she gives the blue figure a curious look, and walks over to where Steven is staring at the blue Gem.

"If you're able to understand and reply," she says - as politely and gently as ever, as she addresses the collapsed form - "might I ask who you are?" She's hesitant to offer a hand up, but after the battering from the gem-ant fusion, it might be as simple as not trusting herself to support another person's weight right now.

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

There are many things Fate Testarossa sees. A Gem Chevalier and a woman who seems to claim that same title putting forth a graceful thunder filled storm of gleaming spears.

She marvels over it for a time as the monster bursts and rocks fall- just rocks. Flying closer she says in admiration towards the pair, "That was incredible. I have a spell that's a little like it but..." She suddenly sounds a little shy, "...nothing like the two of you working together."

And that's when a gem is pried off the mirror by the determined fingers of a boy. Fate's eyes are drawn to that spot over the sea.

Her breath is taken away by the moment when she appears in all of her lovely glory. She stands watching. Dumbstruck in fascination before finally whispering, "Did she come... out of the mirror?" She'd heard of magic mirrors but-!

And then she collapses and Fate flies over closer in concern, landing in the nearby surf "Oh!" The child asks, "Are you alright?"

She may be holding Bardiche but when she walks closer... it's her other hand she's using to check upon her.

A touch upon a bare shoulder if she gets close enough before anyone else does- or the fallen lady reacts.

She wouldn't want her to drown while passed out after all.

<Pose Tracker> Lapis [None] has posed.

The strange blue Gem hears Steven approach, and glances over her shoulder at him. Her eyes are by far her most prominent feature; they're like twins of the mirror that she was apparently contained in for so long. There is nothing human -- or even the faux-human of Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl -- about them, and Steven can see himself reflected in them clearly.

He looks bedraggled and flustered and shocked.

She smiles. It's a tired expression, but a gentle one too.

"Thank you," she murmurs. Then she clambers to her feet, long before anyone gets close enough to touch her; there will be no touching now. Like most people in the world, she is taller than Steven, but she doesn't look down on him at all. Or the others, though after a brief glance at them, she fixates back on her rescuer.

"You actually talked to me!" she gushes, warmly. She's all but bubbling. "You actually helped me! It's Steven, right? I'm Lapis. Lapis Lazuli."

She pauses, and seems both curious and cautious. The wind ruffles her hair and she turns her head up to the sky to appreciate it, then steels herself and asks the question that bothers her so.

"Are you... really a Crystal Gem? Are you all Crystal Gems?"

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

Garnet and Pearl working together are simply marvelous. Yumi stares, enraptured, at their magic and the magic of their movements, things she's never seen in quite the same way of the Gems. ...Hardly with anyone. That kind of...


Yumi leans heavily on her staff as the explosion clears and shards move everywhere. The monster is gone, and everyone is there, and... And is Steven still on the beach?

"Hey--" There's someone there. A blue Someone. Yumi blinks, and hurries along, having to use her weapon heavily with how tired and sore she is. So she ends up coming to a stop beside Fate as they move, as if they hadn't had a disagreement at all earlier.

"Hi!" she says, aware she might be the last to get here. "Is everyone okay? Are you okay? Do you not like people chattering at you, in which case, sorry, nevermind."


Yumi doesn't go for healing, but she does fall straight backward to take a seat. "Okay that's better."

But the Gem speaks up, and Yumi blinks at her. That's a lot of questions all at once. Yumi doesn't try to do any touching, just looks up at her.

"I'm not a Gem," the gray-haired girl says. "I'm a witch."

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

The creature is felled. Sailor Neptune slouches against the rock, visibly relieved as she says to Steven, "It's alright, Steven-kun, the creature's..."

She doesn't want to guess. She looks over her shoulder.

Sailor Neptune starts just a bit when the gem is pried loose, shines, and reveals itself as a woman in blue, a thousand different shades. Pushing herself upright, Sailor Neptune steps forwards, glancing at Steven for a moment - but he seems surprised as well.

It is due to all this battering that Sailor Neptune comes up a little late. "Good evening," she says to the woman.

"I cannot say that I am," she says, in reply to the question. "For the sake of a new age, I am Sailor Neptune. Do you need a bit of help? The water's very cold this time of year; you'd be more comfortable a little further back." (Her eyes also cut towards Fate, though her expression doesn't change.)

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

Steven leans away for jsut a moment as the figure turns toward him, large, reflective eyes peer at him. He lightens up when he is given a thanks. "Oh...!" Seeing her stumble around for a moment, the boy holds out his hands in case she needs bracing.

So this was his fun beach buddy! He seems almost ready to explode, but bites it back, and gives a swift nod.

"Yeah! I sure am!" he responds with, if he is a Crystal Gem. A look back to everyone gathering around. "N-No, most are others. Others with somethin' goin on similar, but not Crystal Gems.

He looks to the others gathering around. He has a smile on his face as bright as the stars beginning to shine above. A new friend!

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

Fate stops before she reaches her. Upon seeing the woman talk to Steven. She takes a step backwards and just says softly, "It's very nice to meet you. I'm Fate. Fate Testarossa."

It sounds a little awkward, like she feels like she's intruding into this moment between the boy and a newfound friend. She knows the importance of such moments.

But then Yumi asks that and Fate tilts her head to the side Yumi's way and whispers softly, "I think she was asking Steven..." She notes this while watching Neptune very closely.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet even from her distance, sees the light, hears the sound, and knows what it means. Her approach was slowed before, but she has no such impediments now. The conditions from the battle have largely faded, and those that remain, she powers through as she breaks out into a series of leaps, finally landing with the end of her momentum as close to Steven as she can, throwing up a cloud of sand with force.

"Steven! Get away from her! NOW!"

Garnet looks back to Pearl for her support in the brief second between the sand fading and when her next motion begins, and Garnet dashes those last few steps protectively towards Steven.

Her actions now might strike those who know her (many of those here do) of very uncharacteric, she scrambles with emotion, and singular focus.

She only seems to acknowledge the situation without a nod or a wave to the others, many of whom are very close friends and companions, and more strikingly still, there is a pure and primal panic chiseled into her features, for both for the safety of Steven Universe, at the very sight of the being before them now.

<Pose Tracker> Pearl [None] has posed.

Pearl is hot on Garnet's heels, and her gaze is steady -- very much supportive -- as Garnet makes her move. She's conjured yet another spear, and clutches it with some combination of boldness and terror; technically, that's the dictionary definition of bravery. "Steven!!" she echoes, worriedly.

And she has Garnet's back, matching her step for step.

She has nothing to say to all these humans standing around.

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

Garnet reacts with fear and anger- towards Lapis and fear and concern towards Steven. Fate blanches with a survival instinct cultivated over the years.

Garnet's fear and anger may come out of a place of concern but she doesn't understand...

"But she's just thanking him." She sounds uneasy, even trying to cover for Lapis and Steven right now takes an immense act of courage for her, "She called his name."

To her that is a sacred act, initiating a friendship. She can't understand why they're so upset.

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

"Oh." Pause. "Oh," Yumi says, flushing in embarrassment. "And I didn't give her my name either. Ugh, I'm so rude. I'm sorry. My name is Yumi Ohzora..."

She trails off, as Garnet gets here in a seeming panic, as Pearl arrives and as it all gets... strange. Yumi blinks too, still sitting on the ground.

"Is something wrong? It's good that she's okay, right...?" An uneasy look.

<Pose Tracker> Lapis [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> I Am Lapis Lazuli https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaSTcCUFBRo

"What's a witch?" the mysterious and lovely and blatantly magical girl asks the witch, guilelessly. "And... a Sailor..." That comment contains the vague warmth of comprehension.

Nonetheless, Lapis backs up -- towards the ocean, whose cold power doesn't seem to dissuade her at all, despite the warning -- seeming a little crowded, a little overwhelmed by all these people. Her attention flickers between them like a dragonfly darting across a pond.

Steven answers her question, causing her puzzlement to intensify.

"But... you set me free..."

And then the other Crystal Gems arrive.

Instantly the energy surrounding Lapis changes, from a sort of bewildered wonder, the bright-blinking of a liberated prisoner taking in the sun, to a mixture of fury and anxiety. Her shoulders tense. Her chin drops. Her stance deepens.

So does her voice. It hoarsens with panic... and with anger.

"You ... you two knew I was in there. And you didn't do anything."

The accusation is unfiltered in its total condemnation; her voice lashes like a whip. And her arm rises -- echoed by the ocean behind her, which has also darkened, and now congeals into a giant's arm, which ripples with liquid muscle.

Lapis reflected the world in the mirror... and now the world reflects her.

"Did you even wonder who I used to be?"

The huge aqueous fist slams down at Garnet and Pearl, and is certainly dangerously close to everyone else. There is plenty of splash, like in the first row of the whale show, only a whole lot less fun.

The Gem howls her identity at the eye of her own storm.


She glances back over at Steven. Her dull eyes aren't expressive, as mirrors, but nonetheless they seem to contain the exhaustion of a thousand wars. Or maybe just one prison, and thousands of years.

"They're not going to let us leave."

She gestures almost offhandedly at the sea, and it... parts. To the horizon. Like in the Bible, only with a sort of matter-of-fact effortlessness that has chilling implications.

"Steven," she offers, gentleness again entering her voice, and wistfulness too, "Come with me. Come home."

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

Stevens smile begins to fade, when Lapis wonders, since he is a Crystal Gem, why he set her free...? His eyes go from the magical girls, to the Crystal Gems, whom upon hearing Garnet, and seeing them both, causes him to tense again. "Wha...?" And then the accusation. Steven rushes forward to stop Garnet and Pearl. "Wait, no!"

As he holds his hands out side to side, as if barring their path, a shadow begins looming over him. The boy slowly pans back to Lapis, where a giant hand made of water floats over her, manifested from the sea.

The hand comes down directly at them, and Steven takes a dive to avoid it. He scrambles to his feet, looking around at the allies who had to get out of the way. "What are you doing, Lapis?!" She has some sort of beef with the Crystal Gems! But why?! Did they put her there? Was she imprisoned?! "Leave?!" he exclaims, as the water is parted in mere seconds, showing dominion over water. "The boy is in a panic, taking a step back, at the offer to head home. "I... I uh...!" a tiny glance back at the Temple, and the friends now scattered around. This was his home, but he can't seem to bring himself to say it, especially to his friend!

An open mouth is all Steven can offer Lapis. No words come from it. Only shock.

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

The change over Lapis from being so scattered by the overstimulation to wrathful goddess of the sea takes her completely off-guard.

"Wait... they knew...?" She looks at Garnet and Pearl and considers the weight of the accusations being flung.

Right before a fist forms out of the ocean. The child gasps at the sudden display of power, "Give them a chance to explain!" She pleads- trusting Garnet would never do something like imprison someone like that but she might as well be pleading with a storm.

The fist descends and even as not the target- she's splattered by droplets against her barrier jacket.

The sea parts and a hand is offered and- Steven is silent- "You're asking him to leave his family Lapis... he can't just..."

She looks down and away suddenly uncertain. To choose someone else over family? She knew this dilemma well but-

"It's hard. It's really hard..."

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

Yumi thought it was all over and done with. She thought that the battle was completed, and that things were going to be simple now. But that turns out not to be true. That hits home as soon as Yumi hears the fear in Lapis Lazuli's voice, the anger.

She does not like to make a lot of trouble socially. But this is something tha puts her in mind of other conflicts.

The fist slams down and it's too close, and that splash hits Yumi from her position on the ground full-on, hitting her hard enough to send her tumbling across the sand, her hat flopping off of her head beside her and her staff pressed beneath her into the sand. "Aah--"

The Gem howls. Lapis Lazuli howls, and Yumi looks up with difficulty. She sets her teeth.

"...Be free," she says over to Lapis, and her head falls against the wet sand.

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

Sailor Neptune tears her gaze away from Fate and straightens up. She is about to slip away when the other two women run up - argue with Lapis -

The water smashes down. Neptune's mouth hangs open and she leaps back on pure reflex, like a gazelle perhaps, atop that rock she'd perched on before -

Which only means she has a better angle on the massive swath that this person, this Lapis Lazuli, has carved into the ocean. She lets out a small gasp -- because even for a Sailor Senshi, such a casual demonstration of power is astonishing, terrifying...

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet beneath the waves of the fist, still pressing down on her. In the split second before it hit, she'd tried to interpose herself between it and Steven, and when it came for Pearl, Garnet is only able to reach out and shove her companion out of its direct path so Pearl might only be stunned, not caged underneath its water, as Garnet is now. The flow of water roars audibly like the rush of a running river defining a powerful musculature on the giant Oceanic arm. It flexes down upon Garnet with the pressure, the very power of the Sea.

For a few moments, it appears as though the strength of this new being, this new Gem, Lapis Lazuli is utterly, hopelessly supreme, against the Crystal Gem until...

There's a boom as the hand splashes back and the palm recedes, smacked back, by the armored fist of a rapidly standing Garnet!

The Gem bellows a mighty cry of determination and punches the hand again! This time the impact of her strike is visible, chasing the "arm" as it's literally repelled back into the ocean by the force of the blow!

Garnet begins to move back towards Steven and Pearl, not wanting to even spare the wind up moment for a burst of speed.

<Pose Tracker> Lapis [None] has posed.

Lapis is proud in her freedom. Her chin lifts and if her eyes widen a little, if her shoulders tense, if Steven's silence falls upon her like a blow, well... it is a blow she will endure. She's endured far worse.


The corridor in the ocean slams shut, as though it never was. Garnet punches away her oceanic arm, and it doesn't reform, but there's a keen sense that this is a choice, not a consequence.

"Don't trust them, Steven," she advises, more grimly than earnestly -- and those words are loud enough to be heard by everyone on the beach.


A final abnormally fierce wave slams onto the beach, drenching the fortunate and pummeling the unfortunate, and when it has ebbed, Lapis Lazuli is gone.

The ocean is still, silent.

And it isn't obvious now, but it will be in the morning, when the winter sun beats down on an unveiled, bone-dry sea floor -- Lapis Lazuli has departed, and an inch at a time, the ocean is leaving with her.