2017-09-09 - What Lies Beneath 9

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What Lies Beneath 9

In the aftermath of rescuing the energies of Library Island's sacred connection to the World Tree, magical girls convene again at Jindai to discuss next steps. But the murderous plots of the Outer Senshi and Black Moon Clan converge there as well...


Hotaru Tomoe, Takeo Akamizu, Chibi-Usa Tsukino, Fuu Hououji, Usagi Tsukino, Saki Hyuuga, Makoto Kino, Setsuna Meioh, Haruka Tenoh, Michiru Kaioh, Mai Mishou

GM: Utena Tenjou, feat. Rubeus and the Four Ayakashi Sisters


Jindai Botanical Gardens

OOC - IC Date:

09-09-2017 - 02-16-2015

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


Common Magical Girl Knowledge By Now (if you weren't in a scene where this stuff was revealed, you can assume you've been told, heard rumors, or are otherwise at least vaguely in-the-know)

1) The World Tree, heart of Tama and a beating-pulsing heart of magic itself, erupts with power every hundred-or-so years. It's coming up again soon, and will be the first such eruption since the return of Dark Fall to Earth (which was caused by the last one...)

2) The fate of the World Tree's magic, and therefore the fate of the world, hinges on who gets to control it -- which is in turn the group that harnesses mystical control points built by mages, over millennia, that encircle it.

3) A great deal of 2014 was spent dealing with a plot to steal a control point under the Magic Association by basically forcing the mystical pool of energy to move geographically, to decouple it from where it was located; in the end that control point was lost -- no one is quite sure where it is, but it is assumed to have fallen to darkness.

4) In late winter 2014 various victims, mostly but not all Infinity Institute students and staff, disappeared into the labyrinthine Library Island. Magical girls mounted expeditions to rescue them and discovered evidence of a seriously horrifying operation harnessing these lost souls to power demonic monsters that had been seen creating waves of destruction and chaos around Tokyo throughout the second half of the year.

5) As Library Island also has a World Tree control point, the Magic Association became concerned that it was also being targeted, and sent volunteers in to further investigate, and secure it if possible. The magical girls seem to have succeeded, rescuing the mystical nexus of energy just as it would have been overwhelmed by demons.

6) Library Island's control point -- or at least the energies that control the World Tree that were formerly beneath Library Island -- are now within a pendant around the neck of Fuu Hououji. (There were some mascots at that scene, and they have big mouths, the word is out, at least among the heroines.)

7) Jindai Botanical Garden is also a control point, and Dark Fall has already targeted it at least twice.

8) If Dark Fall gets to use the apocalyptic energies of the World Tree, by seizing all of its control points in time for the eruption, it is probably the end of the world.

9) Today, Kaoruko Hanasaki of the Magic Association is holding another meeting at Jindai, over tea, to discuss what to do next.

OOC: Any questions? Now is a great time to ask.
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

Meanwhile, Beyond Our Heroines' Sight

Berther's pale blue braid slips over her shoulder as she leans over her younger sister Koan, who is primping at their shared vanity, and whispers in her ear behind cupped hands:

"Did you know? Did you hear? They say Rubeus-sama is losing Prince Demando's favor... that he might be replaced."

Koan gasps, her stunned shock making her eyes glitter. It's a satisfying sight to Berthier, who smirks at her distress, especially the part where she forgot that she still had a comb stuck in her waves and waves of long, violet hair.

"We can't let that happen -- we mustn't!"

"I agree," rumbles eldest sister Petz, apparently as keen of ear as she is sharp of short green haircut. "This disgrace is our fault... and we won't escape failure's consequences lightly."

"Ohohohohoho!" cackles yellow-clad Calaveras, second-eldest, as she coils her whip onto her hip. "Our fault? My operation was quite successful, thank you very--"

"SILENCE," growls Rubeus, phasing abruptly into the chamber of the Four Ayakashi Sisters. They hasten to obey, though Petz, a bruise on her cheekbone still fading from their last encounter, gives him a hot-eyed look that is on the surface very sullen, and more deeply very dangerous.

"We have been given another chance by the grace of the sage Wiseman. This Dark Rod will massively amplify your power. You will use it to accomplish to besiege Jindai Botanical Gardens in 20th-century Tokyo, until that wellspring of power is completely and irrevocably ours."

He pauses, his eyes unfocusing slightly, and the girls look between each other curiously. They know that expression; he's taking a telepathic call.

"Yes. Yes. Really," and the eagerness in his tone is chillingly heated with anticipation, with glee. "Yes, I was just dispatching them. You were right, this partnership has become a resounding success."

Looking back at his underlings, Rubeus chuckles. "Oh, and while you're there, kill the Rabbit. You'll never guess who's visiting Jindai today..."

Tossing the Dark Rod to Petz, he leaves in the same manner he arrived. It's heavy in her hand. Heavy with power. Heavy with potential. Heavy with responsibility, too.

She looks between her sisters.

"We cannot screw this up," she declares. "Anyone who can't follow my orders can just stay behind. I wouldn't do that if I were you, though..."

Koan and Berthier exchange nervous looks. It's been less than a minute, and the nastiness in their big sister's voice is almost unrecognizably cruel, even by typical Black Moon Clan standards.

"...our Clan has little patience for traitors," Petz concludes, and the black crystal shard at the top of the rod in her hand crackles with warning.


In Another Dark Place

Kaolinite taps the surface of her scrying pool with the black-starred tip of her staff, and Rubeus' face fades from view. Glancing over her shoulder, she issues orders to the first of the Witches 5 unsmilingly. She's eager, but a certain poise is required as the Grand Magus of the Death Busters. A certain reserve.

That task complete, she returns to her scrying. A murmured word, an exercise of dark intent, and the smiling face of Chibi-Usa Tsukino shimmers into view. "You've certainly made this easier on us, ojou-chibi-chan," she murmurs, mostly to herself, though she's thinking of another, one she scorns and reveres, fears and obeys, loves and resents. "I would have spanked you for giving your family heirloom away if your Papa had allowed it, but to think where you put it. I would almost think it was... intentional."



There are lots of reasons to be at Jindai Botanical Gardens today. Here are two:

A: It is Japanese plum blossom (ume) season! Jindai is a uniquely bad place to see the pretty flowers, as their plum orchards have been removed and rebuilt, but kids who helped replant them, and other interested horticulturalists, might be interested in seeing what scant and rare little petals have unfurled on those baby trees.

Hotaru Tomoe is one such person, and now a part of one of many such groups; yesterday, she softly expressed an interest in the whole incident of plaguey death claiming the plums, the grove's rebirth at the hands of volunteers, and the very first tiny blossoms on those trees, and the enthusiasm of greater go-getters than she is has turned this into a whole excursion.

It's pretty gray and cold for a picnic, but a walk is a pleasant way to spend the afternoon. Dressed unusually cheerfully in teal rather than black, with a matching, ribbon-festooned beret, no less, she chats quietly but warmly with Chibi-Usa, whose hand she rarely lets go of.

Now is one such time, but only because she's snaked out with her arm to point excitedly at a branch. "There! There's one!" Her violet eyes sparkle, thrilled to bits. There is light in the depths of space, after all. That's where stars are born.

B: Hanasaki-sensei's tea party, in her private greenhouse, is warm and welcoming. The tables strain beneath the burden of celebratory snacks, mostly ume-themed -- so, rather sour and vinegary chips and crackers and dips and onigiri and the like, but still delicious! For those who find the flavor of ume unbearable, there is also strawberry daifuku, that most classic of Japanese sweets.

Last time the tea tasted like particularly fond memories. Today maybe grandma mixed up the tea blends because it tastes vaguely of romance? Nothing overwhelming, but the memories that arise might provide little moments of distraction from the conversation, which is an important one.

"Congratulations," Kaoruko croaks, her papery old lady voice matching her papery old lady skin. There's nothing old about her eyes, though, which snap with vigor and interest. "You girls have done a very brave, very necessary thing. This piece of the World Tree's power is safe at last..." She looks to Fuu, and the pendant. "With Jindai, that means we only need to assure the safety of one other." Three out of five is enough.

OOC: Note that the greenhouse and the path that Chibi-Usa and Hotaru are walking are not especially near each other. It's a big

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

Having been dispatched by Merlin, who has STILL not dared peek his pink nose out from beneath the Kotatsu, despite the warming days, Takeo listens respectfully to the old woman. His mind does wander slightly as he silently wonders if, or when the Rabbit might crawl out form underneath the thing. Also to dances, and shared really bad cake, and snowman building. He frowns and looks at the tea, wondering if he shouldn't just silently add some Mt. Dew. Was tea supposed to make a guy think of thsoe ... things? He blushes slightly and sips the tea.

Well. They were nice memories. But more importantly they were HIS memories.

He had not arrived transformed, however the Knight of the Round table wears sunglasses, and a shemagh, originally around the lower half of his face, but now just around his neck. It would have been rude to not eat the snacks and sip the tea after all. He doesn't speak. Just nibbles the sour treats (he does love sour treats when he isn't devouring meat and meat products), and sipping tea while listening.

<Pose Tracker> Chibi-Usa Tsukino [Juuban Public School (4)] has posed.

Pink and red are the order of the day for Chibi-Usa Tsukino, along with a little white. Her signature pink odango are obviously in attendance, and if she notices the chill of this time of year then she seems to notice more the presence of her friend Hotaru. She cheerfully chats right back, warm and enthusiastic, keeping her hand. Until...

"Oh!" Hotaru points and Chibi-Usa looks to her hand and then the branch with big pink eyes. "Aaah I see it!" She hops in place, clapping once and leaning to get that extra couple of inches of closeness. "It's so pretty...!"

But she glances back at Hotaru again, and thinks that happy sparkle in her eye is nice, too, before she looks back over to the blossom.

...She's tended to get a little ahead of some of the others with them in her excitement.

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

"It was a hard-fought victory," Fuu admits, thinking back to the desperate running (or more accurately, falling) battle which she and her allies waged against the protodaimon in the depths of Library Island. "I'm just glad we *did* win ... This pendant is still vulnerable, though, isn't it? If it fell into the wrong hands ... hands which could lay claim to the power within it ..."

Her voice trails off into uneasy silence as she sips again from her cup of tea. Maybe she's just still shaken over how close some of their victories have been lately, but she finds her thoughts drifting yet again to a certain swordsman ... who's surfaced, now and again, out of the population of students at Infinity, despite being a native of Cephiro. At least she understands by now *why* Ferio is here.

Hopefully he did well enough on *his* entrance exams, though.

Thoughts of Ferio drift back to a dance which ended in the beginnings of catastrophe, and hopscotch along through other memories before Fuu drags her attention back to here-and-now, taking a bite of onigiri. She didn't see much need to be here in her transformed state, and she has her glove-jewel tucked into a pocket where she can get at it in a hurry, as usual, just in case she does need it.

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Usagi for her part is in a lime-green sweatshirt with the word Usagi in English on the left pocket, and the character for it just below it. It's overlaid by a plum jacket. She's wearing a red scarf and leggings too.

Right now she's walking alongside Makoto Kino and Minako Aino behind the pair of kids- trailed by a black cat with a crescent moon on her head. They'd been keeping their space a little bit, so that the pair don't feel too smothered by being chaperoned.

And yet as Hotaru calls out. Usagi closes that gap in an instant, looking past Chibi-Usa- perhaps even shoving Chibi-Usa lightly in her excitement to see, "Where- where?" Usagi's own eyes sparkle, with the simple pleasure of seeing something so pretty among a place so barren.

"So pretty..." In an echo of what Chibi-Usa just said as she shoved her a little to see the same thing, "It's really recovering!" She says in delight, hands on her knees as she looks at the pair and over towards Makoto and Minako. "What do you think Mako-chan?" She figured she was the flower expert after all, "Do you think it'll be recovered enough to be in full bloom next year?"

"Oh for heaven's sake." Luna whispers to the three older girls in particular, in a way that might easily be mistaken for any of them to Hotaru and Chibi-Usa. "Don't you remember the reason why we're actually here..." Usagi blinks her big eyes twice as she steps back and says, "To look at flowers?"

Luna puts a paw to her face in a long suffering way, gritting out a line between her teeth, "There's an important meeting going on Usagi-chan." Usagi laughs lightly while rubbing the nape of her neck, "Oh right. Can't we just sneak in at the end and listen to the summary?" Luna hisses, "No!" Chastened, she gives in "Alright-alright..."

Usagi takes a step forward, holding up a finger as she looks sidelong at Makoto and Minako, "Say Hotaru-chan. Chibi-Usa-chan. How about we split up for just a little while... and we'll meet back up with you a little later." The idea brings her some hesitation, but surely they'd be alright alone for a few minutes? Surely.

She looks over her shoulder for a moment before waving- it'll be a bit for them to make it to the greenhouse, even if she's going at a light jog with Luna leading, "This way!"

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

Splash Star Pretty Cure has never really felt much need to hide their identities among the world of magic; Karehaan showed up at Saki's house something like twelve hours after their first transformation, and life since has been a ceaseless barrage of attacks directed at them. Kintoleski buys bread from Saki's bakery regularly. One time Miss Shitatare delivered an evil bracelet to Mai's house. They don't, really, have anything to gain from the hassle.

Which is why Saki Hyuuga, in her softball uniform and armed with a duffle bag, is at the tea party with a little smile on her face. She hasn't figured out what's magic about the tea this time yet, but she finds herself staring thoughtlessly off toward the houses in the hills, where a telescope can just about be seen if you know where to look.

She shakes her head a little when Kaoruko speaks, drawing herself back to the present. She nods at Fuu's comment, though she can't suppress a big smile. "It was a pretty tough fight, but we got there! Those...things down there are pretty spooky, though..."

She looks down to where she's expecting to see Flappy poking out of her gym bag, presumably chastising, only to find he has disappeared. Presumably to attach himself to Coupe.

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

Makoto Kino was one of the people who helped with the Jindai Park's rebirth, having dug up holes for replanting trees some time ago. When Hotaru said that she wanted to see how the trees were doing, she was all for it--though some were more all for it than she is. Besides, if one wants to just look at the ume blossoms, there's always the Hikawa Shrine, and they go there all the time! For today, they go for the satisfaction of seeing the fruits (or rather, flowers) of their hard work.

"Ahh, you're right!" she declares when Hotaru points out such a bud, a broad grin sparkling on her face as she shades her eyes. "Seeing those little flowerbuds... It's like a little piece of hope, isn't it?" She smiles at Usagi and her question. "Definitely! As long as the Jindai gardeners take good care of them, I'm sure these trees will be in full bloom by next year!" And they'll all be in high school at that! ...well, not Chibi-Usa and Hotaru, but Makoto and her friends, at least.

But Luna scolds them, and Makoto rubs the back of her neck, chastened. She's not keen on the idea of leaving Chibi-Usa and Hotaru by themselves, given the sheer number of people who want to kill them, but... "Y-yeah!" she pipes in. "I'm sure you two want to have some time to yourselves... We'll give you some space!" It's not totally a lie, at least, but Makoto still feels a bit bad. Well, it's not like she could tell them that they're the Sailor Senshi.

Either way, once the two respond, Makoto will jog with Usagi and Minako for the greenhouse. Having longer legs than Usagi, she helps speed the group up--giving them just enough time to duck into some bushes to transform, then enter the greenhouse as the Sailor Team.

Hopefully there'll be time to grab a snack. For now, Jupiter calls to the group, "Sorry we're late! We had some things we needed to take care of."

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

A little out of breath, they finally make it their way inside the greenhouse. Usagi transforms for the first time in a long time. The mixture of emotions when she pulls it off is- complex. But Sailor Moon does arrive alongside Jupiter and the others. "Aha- yeah. We definitely didn't forget about the meeting or anything-" Luna sighs. Sailor Moon grabs a snack which she chews upon. Focusing mainly on the lady leading the meeting- for a moment in admiration. her gaze wanders about to the other girls who arrived- landing on Fuu- for a long time. Her expression serious.

Luna curls up between her and Jupiter's feet, "Well? What do you think about all that?"

Sailor Moon cups a hand to the side of her mouth, leans over and speaks to Jupiter and Luna, "I think Hououji-san's pendant is very stylish. Do you think I could get one just like it?"

Luna looks at Usagi for a moment, before sighing again. "Sailor Moon... ... ... you know what? Sure. Defend a control point and maybe you'll find one." That thought seems to delight her given the sound she makes.

COMBAT: Usagi Tsukino transforms into Sailor Moon!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Pluto [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Hard on the (elegant boot)heels of a failed bid to cut off Chevalier resistence to their goals, Sailor Pluto summons her sister soldiers with a plan more to her own preferences: clean, direct, and having nothing to do with Kozue. "I can track Hotaru Tomoe," she tells them with leaden thunder in garnet eyes, "and I know where she is right now."

They assemble on her balcony, and discuss wrapped in freezing winds that cannot approach the searing cold of the solar system's outermost reaches. After, Time's Guardian stands tall and still, facing out. Her sacred weapon stands as tall and still as she does, as dark and as gleaming, and Sailor Pluto affixes garnet orbs on Garnet Orb with a mesmeric set to her features.

Then the shell of her stands before her friends; the essence of her transfers from body to weapon. It is like plunging downward into a red well of reflected stars, garnetshifted into near-stillness themselves. From within, she seeks without. A sparkling constellation-cluster of Time Keys sing at the silvery belt looped around her body's waist. They are not what she seeks. Further she spools her awareness, seeking that chiming twinkle of captive Time...

There. It is There.

Pluto is slow to resurface inside her self, and her voice comes low and breathless. "Jindai Gardens. She is in the Jindai Gardens." She blinks rapidly until the world has its own colors back. "Perhaps we can end this today." Sailor Pluto looks to Uranus and Neptune, a statue save for streamers of evergreen hair torn sideways by the skyscraper gales.


Grey and cold suits Pluto. She glances to the sky with a twist of pink-painted lips, then back to the plum orchards of Jindai. "This is the closest I can bring us, it is... not a wholly precise thing. There are other things I have learned, though. Not only do I know where she is, but I have occasionally known when she is nowhere at all." Her eyes are cold, though not grey, as they scan between trees and along paths. "Gone, and the Key with her.

"For Now, though, she is Here. Somewhere."

There are plenty of small schoolchildren wandering the garden's paths, chatting and cheery and exactly the sort of vulnerable innocents Sailor Pluto would like to see saved from coming apocalypse. Among them she must locate the one whose death will secure life.

She's not so hard to spot after all, with her sharp black hair and her deep black eyes -- those gravitic down to their nonexistent bottoms -- and Sailor Pluto is about to lift her hand and point her out when another sort of gravity anchors her hand to her side like it is made of lead.

Small Lady is right next to her.

She knows Sailor Uranus has the keen eyes of the wind a hawk rides on; she knows Sailor Neptune has the seeking currents of omen, so like the ocean, to read. Sailor Pluto allows them to spot Hotaru Tomoe for themselves. They can attack when that happens. She'll steal this moment to steel herself. Somehow.

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


"Yes, Hououji-chan," Kaoruko agrees solemnly, after sipping her tea. "But I cannot think of a safer place for such a thing than around your neck. Trust your friends, and trust yourself, and surely everything will turn out just fine."

Her smile is a little sadder for Saki, but also thoughtful. "And yet you faced them and survived, repeatedly. You may not know the full question yet of what you face, but surely you're part of the answer..."

As the Sailor Senshi arrive, she toasts them with her tea cup. "Please, come in, girls. We were just celebrating a victory... no matter how small, they are worth celebrating, in times like these."

There are seats aplenty. Even one at the right height for a cat.

"We must also discuss our next move. Tokyo Tower, Infinity Institute and the missing point remain... and less and less time, I think, with that seismic shift of the ocean the other day."



Hotaru's smiles are only for Chibi-Usa, but it's not like the enthusiasm of the older girls makes her frown. "I'm glad," she says to them all -- glad they were replanted, glad Makoto says that these little pieces of hope will bloom again, glad that Usagi likes them.

Especially glad that Chibi-Usa is here. She beams down at her like a gentle ray of light, especially lovely on a sunless day, and if her brightness is less a simple, sunny cheer, and more the subtle glow of moonbeams across a night-blooming flower, that doesn't make it bad or wrong.

It doesn't take her very long to reclaim her hand. She bids a soft, sweet farewell to the the older girls, and then the two best friends drift blissfully along down the path, together.

Hotaru's hair gathers beneath her chin as her head tilts to one shoulder. The shoulder nearer Chibi-Usa, of course. "I love blossoms," she reflects, though she's not only thinking of flowers. She focuses upon them more closely, her eyes moving reluctantly from pink hair to pink petals. "Even though they don't last very long. In a way, that makes them more beautiful, don't you think?"

<Pose Tracker> Chibi-Usa Tsukino [Juuban Public School (4)] has posed.

Split up? Chibi-Usa blinks, and turns to face Usagi briefly, looking at her sidelong. "...You just want to slack off," she points out, but then relents, "but that's fine with me!" As Makoto says, she doesn't mind some space wth just Hotaru, and she smiles at both of them. "See you later!"

"I'm glad too," she says. And then when it's ust the two of them--Chibi-Usa does not see her beloved Puu just now--here amongv the people watching, Chibi-Usa watches Hotaru again thoughtflly, on black hair and deep eyes. "Mm..." She looks to the blossom again.

"...I wish they could last forever though," she says, wistfully.

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

Hotaru's smile gentles further, becoming delicate but not fragile, like a beautifully wrought piece of iron, all whorls and tendrils. It is her highest goal to keep her single, precious, vital friend from harm, but there is one way in which she is destined to hurt her, no matter what.

"Nothing lasts forever, Chibi-Usa-chan," she says, and something in her voice sounds sad, like a confession.

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

Shuddering at the mention of Tokyo Tower, the site of the death of his Radical and Red motorcycle and where he was shot, Takeo takes a sip fo the tea. he then takes a steadying breath. He nods to Sailor Moon and friends when they arrive giving a friendly wave and a smile in greeting. He does however eye the cat suspiciously. Cats were only one step above Rabbits in the eyes of Takeo Akamizu, Knight of the Round Table.

He looks toward Kaoruko and bows his head respectfully. "Kaoruko-san. What if we hit two of those locations at the same time? Try to take them for the good guys? Is there a ritual, or a prayer, or a special jewel, maybe a button, we can use to make it flag for the good guys?" He sips the tea again. "I'd be willing to be on one of those teams, if that's a possibility?"

<Pose Tracker> Haruka Tenoh [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Sailor Uranus is not gratified by Pluto's coup in locating Hotaru. Pluto can see that. This risky advantage was bought at a cost far higher than Pluto should have paid. But what is spent is spent, and cannot be retrieved. Uranus is not one to scorn an advantage out of spite.

"Jindai," she repeats, tasting it as she thinks. She looks to Neptune, and nods. "It will do."

  • * *

Open fields and broad skies suit Uranus. Her leanly muscled presence, already transformed, is a mystical gash on the normalcy of a budding day. "Nowhere," she says acridly. "Perhaps the time key is being studied by the residents of Nowhere, safe from the prying eyes of its former Guardian." It was a cold expression of temper, but Uranus forces it down yet further. What is spent is spent.

"Very well," she says. "Neptune." She can see the emotion behind the ocean senshi's eyes, just as Neptune can in hers. "We'll be relying on you." She looks back to Pluto. "Today, we answer our oath to the Queen."

COMBAT: Haruka Tenoh transforms into Sailor Uranus!
<Pose Tracker> Michiru Kaioh [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Sailor Neptune hears the words of Sailor Pluto and her face is a mask of calm steadiness as she says, one hand half-raised to cup her own chin in index and thumb, "Perhaps we can."

Her eyes turn downwards. She looks at her hands, and thinks: They're clean now, aren't they? Here in the plum blossom season, perhaps that will change. At least it's a bit different, Sailor Neptune muses, than the usual sort of wabi-sabi.

Sailor Neptune's eyes raise from her hands then and she makes herself breathe. It is a steadying breathing, a calming thing. Perhaps Uranus will spot it; someone else watching her would just think she is taking a deep breath and then moving normally. This mindfulness has a purpose - to push doubts out of her head.

Her eyes close for a moment - and she answers Uranus softly. "They'll have to study quickly. It's nice weather, isn't it, for this to wrap soon? At least we'll have the spring to look forward to." As she says this, Sailor Neptune turns herself perhaps sixty-five degrees...

And opens her eyes.


Damnably near a pink hairstyle. Sailor Neptune's carefully guarded breath leaves her in a small huff. "Could you clear them out?" Neptune asks Uranus, quietly, even as she raises her hands.

I can do this, she tells herself. That's certainly that girl. Veiled by the crowd and the plum blossoms, the sea green hair of Sailor Neptune does not stand out as more than a dab of misplaced paint. And it's so easy to overlook such things.

Until it's too late.

Uranus puts her on the spot... and Neptune smiles, though she doesn't break her gaze, lest her target vanish on her. Her eyes are half-lidded. "I'd never let you down," she replies.

I will do this, she tells herself.

COMBAT: Michiru Kaioh transforms into Sailor Neptune!
<Pose Tracker> Makoto Kino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Sailor Jupiter sweatdrops at Usagi. "That's... well, you could definitely follow Luna's advice..." She smiles. "But it sounds like we're almost in the clear. If we can just protect one more of those locations, it'll be safe." If she understands it right, anyway. They *did* kind of arrive late. For now, though, she nods to Kaoruko in gratitude, hushes up and listens to make up for that, though she also reaches over and grabs one of those onigiri as she claims a seat. They look delicious.

Three missing points? Maybe she *did* miss something. With a little frown, she listens harder.

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

Uranus and Neptune spy their target at about the same time. At this point, not even a nod is needed... or so Uranus thought.

She pauses, feeling a pang as Neptune's request gives her tacit permission to feel a similar remorse, for those innocents in the crossfire. "We can't warn her," Uranus reminds her. This is the sort of thing Neptune has drilled into her, over and over. "You can't hesitate."

Taking a wide path around, Sailor Uranus flanks the picnic. Grinding herself to a halt by one bootheel, she bends her knees, ready to spring off in any direction. Between her and Pluto, Hotaru would have to sprout wings to escape this.

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

New arrivals? Fuu turns to see who it is ...

And her green eyes go wide behind her glasses; Fuu quickly sets her cup and plate down, standing up and bowing, fairly deeply as these things go, *definitely* polite and formal - to the two Sailors (and the cat accompanying them). "Sailor Moon, Sailor Jupiter, I'm very glad to see you again! I'm sorry I wasn't able to do more to assist you before ..." She's much slower to straighten up than she was with her initial bow, and her face is visibly troubled, and she doesn't quite meet the Sailors' eyes. "I'm very sorry that the two of you were hurt like that. It's a great relief to see you again, in any case. I ... I'm glad to know you're with still with us."

She's also noticeably hesitant to sit down, even as her attention returns to Kaoruko. Yes, even the small victories *are* worth celebrating. "The monsters we fought below Library Island ... one such monster attacked Tokyo Tower, months ago. It ..."

It won, she doesn't say, but she thinks it; the monster was destroyed but innocents still died because of it.

"... was ... messy," she finishes instead. "But the vital point ... it never got there, did it? That battle was all above ground, far above it in fact."

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

Saki can't resist a smile at that. "Hee. Yeah. If this has to do with the World Tree, then I know I have to protect it. It's given great memories to me and my friends." She raises a hand and jabs herself in the chest with a thumb. "So you can count on me!"

And then she looks up, as two new entries arrive, and her eyes widen. Wow, the Senshi, for real...! She's fought beside them before, of course, but there's a strange presence to seeing a magical girl fully transformed but just...being present. "Ah, hi!" she chimes, holding up a hand and waving.

The next move...her eyes hood a bit. "I don't even know where you'd hide something like that in the Tower or Infinity...it's not like Infinity has anything too crazy like Library Island, you know?"

Please forgive Saki, she is not interested in mysteries she can't find in the depths of Mai's eyes, which is what she starts thinking about as soon as her lips hit tea again.

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

"Just one huh?" Sailor Moon echoes Jupiter. One more determining victory or defeat.

That's closer than she'd like...

Luna takes the cat seat. She does so elegantly, effortlessly, as only a cat can. Sailor Moon is still chewing on another strawberry daifuku snack when she plops herself down in another seat. Even though they were welcomed graciously she still feels a little bit like she was late to class. So she's mostly quiet as more things are said about the control points. Luna is paying closer attention of course.

Takeo gets a wave of gloved fingertips. Whereas Fuu gets this sort of awkward little laugh, and a light wave, "It's... It's fine, it's fine... you don't have to apologize for that... it's not like we expect you to come to our rescue or anything..." She shrinks a little into her sheet, flattered that Fuu cares so much about their welfare, but-

It also brings her thoughts squarely to Sailor Uranus.

She says softly, "... and I don't think there's anything you could have done to prevent what happened..."

She busies herself munching on the strawberry treat, and tries not to think about it.

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

It seems that someone else has slipped in late. She arrives a little after Sailor Moon and Sailor Jupiter. In a way, her presence is a sharp contrast -- she enters with a small smile, a sheepish look, and wearing a light purple jacket and yellow shirt. Both have a few splashes of color -- literally. She was painting before this. Her eyes move past the two of them, to the person she is most happy to see.

"Saki!" she exclaims. "I'm so sorry that I'm late."

She senses no irony in saying this to Saki. Then, she smiles, and she bobs her head once to the others -- Fuu, the at the pair of Sailor Senshi, and finally Kaoroku. "I'm afraid that Art Club caused me to be held up..."

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

They're holding hands. Again. It does terrible things to Sailor Pluto's resolve -- in the sense that it makes her resolve all the more terrible, all the more frighteningly sure. The harm this girl's death will cause her Small Lady's heart is beyond Puu's ability to defend against. If they end this now... at least there may be a limit to that harm.

Not that she needs that incentive. Not that she should. The ice in Uranus's words bites, more deeply than any terrestrial winds could aspire to do. She bears it with solemn guilt writ across the angle of her shoulders and her brow, and a low nod that holds her head down for long seconds. "Today," she echoes, quiet.

All business, then, or so she hopes -- Sailor Pluto snaps to attention, and then to action. She moves to flank the other side. The one Small Lady is on. With a glance back to the gathering solemnity of Sailor Neptune, who prepares the strike that may finally end the world's threat and everything in a blast radius around her.

She readies herself as well, across from the glacier gaze of Sailor Uranus. Her own affix somewhere slightly to the side of Hotaru Tomoe, somewhere... pinker. Pluto tells herself she can and will prioritize the girl they must kill, that Small Lady will somehow come second on her internal list.

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

Sailor Neptune's eyes close again.

I don't want to do this, she thinks.

I have to do this, she thinks further. It isn't a question of 'wanting'. If I don't do this, Haruka has to do it. Pluto certainly won't. I can't count on anyone else. I can't put this on anybody else in the world. I dragged her into this...

It doesn't reach her face beyond a slight tension around the eyes. Then they open again as she breathes out, "For the new age."


The tension in the air, the crackle of magical power, spikes. Sailor Neptune is in a hurry; but, she tells herself, I commanded the sea itself not to pour down like a trillion-ton stone from the heavens, I CAN DO THIS -

A new aqua star rises momentarily above her hands as Neptune's eyes stay on that girl, Hotaru. Sailor Neptune hesitates a fraction of a second, wordlessly willing Pluto to DO whatever she must do, because she may only have one chance and even if Sailor Pluto's heart may break in the face of this necessity, MINE WILL NOT --


A luminous sphere flies with implacable speed towards Hotaru. Sailor Neptune lands lightly on her hands, her eyes closed - I did it, she thinks, the feeling cold and clammy and desperate even so. She doesn't watch.

<Pose Tracker> Chibi-Usa Tsukino [Juuban Public School (4)] has posed.

'Nothing lasts forever, Chibi-Usa-chan.'

Chibi-Usa looks to Hotaru quietly, hearing that sadness, as if she might want to say more. But she does not get that chance right now.

The Outer Senshi have gathered, and unsuspecting girls are there as they make their aims, talk amongst themselves, rely on one of them. There are two girls here however, not only the one slated to end the world... but the one who ended one in the future, to hear her tell it.

And that second girl, smaller, pinker, feels something in her bones, in her blood, and gasp lightly, turning to see...


Sailor Neptune, crackling with magical power already forming.

Sailor Pluto, standing beside her. Sailo Pluto, there looking at her in that way of hers, but beside...



There is a crackle of power beside Hotaru, all around Chibi-Usa, and a brilliant, painfully glowing symbol of the upraised crescent moon appears on her forehead. She cries out, grabbing onto Hotaru as, in the same instant, a column of brilliant golden light crashes up around her, rustling the grass, knocking bushes back.

Golden Light towers up to the heavens, two meters around the two girls, and pink hair floats upward as even gravity finds no purchase. The incredible, breathtaking sea's waves crash and break against the column, consumed utterly by its power.

Chibi-Usa's anguished crying is almost drowned out. But only almost.

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

Kaoruko gestures Mai to a seat, with a welcoming smile, then nods at Takeo. "We do only need three, not four, but it's a bold plan, if you could pull it off. One best implemented in the moment of truth, just as the Tree is about to bloom." She doesn't prefer the term 'erupt', whatever its common usage. "As for your means... it has just been retrieved. It is a vessel, not the power itself, which means it could carry other power."

Her eyes rest again on Fuu's collarbone, where a certain necklace sits.

"And yes, very astute, Hououji-chan. Tokyo Tower's nexus of power is not below but above, at the top. However, whatever your battle, it remains neutral ground for not. We would... know, otherwise. The tower is sensitive to mystical changes... it would likely become a literal lightning rod, charged with all that power."

As though on cue, thunder rolls across the sky -- or at least, that's the first guess one might have; it is too strange to hear the crashing of the sea, up on Jindai Hill.

There are clouds, but they're a constant, overcast gray, like a thin fleece sweater. Certainly they hold nothing within them that would suggest such wrath.

Nothing, that is, but Chibi-Usa's pillar of magical mayhem -- and, nearby, the women who appear in an answering column of crackling black energy, back to back to back to back and holding hands in an eerie inversion of the Sailor Teleport. They're hovering some forty feet in the air above the plum grove, and look down at the park -- and those who wait within it.

The column of brilliant silvery-gold light bursting off of Chibi-Usa is not difficult to spot.

"There!" Koan points, in a girlish echo of Hotaru's earlier gesture, loud and excited enough to make Chibi-Usa and her friend look up to see what's going on.

"Wow, this intelligence was really good," Berthier murmurs, thoughtfully. Once Koan has broken their circle, she quickly detaches her hands and folds her arms across her chest. "How about it, then?"

Petz tucked the Dark Rod into her belt for the journey, but she reclaims it with somewhat undue eagerness, relishing the way it feels beneath her fingers. "I think we can handle them both from here, no need to lose sight of one another," she muses. Her eyes harden as she settles on that decision. "Calaveras, cover me while I bombard Jindai. Koan, Berthier, if the two of you can't kill a little child by the time we're done, I will kill you myself, got it?"

"M-mean," pouts Berthier, her lip large -- but the surprise and hurt in Koan's eyes is larger, more sincere. Her eyes flick to the Dark Rod, then to her blue counterpart.

"Let's do it, then."

"Race you...?"

"You're on!"

Koan and Berthier soar downwards, the wind tearing at their hair but not dragging tears out of their eyes. Dark Fire gathers at Koan's fingertips, Dark Water at Berthier's. Rivals they may be, but they often think alike -- without bothering to even nod at each other they send out streams of energy to encircle Chibi-Usa and Hotaru, the outer flame, the inner ice. It starts rapidly melting, but melting strangely, into little fingers of water, a dozen hands' worth, to creep towards the girls, threatening to grab them.

"Who's the spare?" Berthier wonders.

"Who cares?" laughs Calaveras from further above, thus winning this month's contest for 'most mistaken two words ever'. "Just do it already!"

Koan hmphs, tosses her hair -- together she and Berthier float further downwards, until they're almost directly over the prison they've created -- just a little off to the side, so that they don't have to fly directly into that blinding, brilliant, beautiful light. "Your time is finally up, Rabbit, you shall elude us no--"

COMBAT: Utena Tenjou transforms into The Four Ayakashi Sisters!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Moon [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

The column of light causes Sailor Moon to stare outside of the window of the greenhouse, before trying to get up abruptly- which causes her to fall over with a squeak before pulling herself up by the edge of the table. Recognition flashes in her eyes a second later, "Chibi-Usa!" She blurts as she scrambles to her feet and tears off into a run. "Jupiter we have to get back to them!"

It's like she might crash right into the wall of glass of her own accord, in fact she's running that way. Until she nearly reaches it and skids to a stop- "That would really hurt!"

-and spins on her heel and takes the nearby door, arms pumping.


"Hold it right there!"

BGM Change: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFB0OgLT2Qc

Even in the cold and grey, Sailor Moon is backlit brilliantly by the sky, arms crossed.

"It doesn't matter how many times we're hurt or betrayed."

If that line is actually directed at Uranus, Sailor Moon isn't looking in her direction. It's directed at Koan and Berthier, isn't it? Is she attempting to distract them from their targets?

Does she even know what the Outer Senshi was trying to do?

"It doesn't matter how many times you come back after her. We'll always be there to defend the people important to us."

In the blueglow of Dark Fire, in the gleaming reflection of tainted ice, Sailor Moon strikes a fierce pose.

"I'm the Sailor-Suited Pretty Soldier of Love and Justice, Sailor Moon! And in the Name of the Moon, I will punish you!"

COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used In The Name Of The Moon on Utena Tenjou.
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

Hotaru didn't even see it coming; if not for Chibi-Usa's intervention, she'd surely have finally met the death she's long awaited, her body bruised, battered and broken by the endless strength of Neptune's tides. Indeed, the first thing she comprehends is the explosion of golden power out of her friend. This isn't the first time she's seen it, or even the first time she's been inside of the column. But there's something different this time; her little body doesn't disappear within it, curling protectively around Chibi-Usa, but instead remains starkly visible instead as a black silhouette.

A silhouette whose toes, along with bits of gravel and petals, leave the ground. Her hair ruffles over her shoulders, and she rises behind the other girl, her arms spreading in something that does not look like an incipient embrace.

Nothing at all appears on the umbra occupied by her forehead, but Chibi-Usa's power continues to enter her endlessly, as though she is a black hole, and her little friend a white one.

That must be why she's visible -- she consumes the light as quickly as it touches her.

Inside her column, Chibi-Usa has a slightly clearer view, and can see her best friend's eyes rolled back in her head, the way her chest shudders and seizes, her arm muscles lock. The way her mouth hangs open in a silent, endless scream.

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

"Ahh, it's okay, it wasn't your fault!" Sailor Jupiter reassures Fuu. "We appreciate that you tried, and anyway..." If there's anyone to blame, it's a certain Soldier of Wind. And also the Wolkenritter, being the people who actually drained them of their magical energy. Jupiter's expression turns grim, but only for a moment; then she smiles and waves to Saki, then at Mai, who's late coming in, before chowing down on her onigiri and listening to what Kaoruko has to say. Thunder crashes then--or at least it seems to; Jupiter knows thunder, though, and between what she hears and what she sees when she squints up at the sky, that doesn't feel right. What was that sound?

An answer comes a moment later when Chibi-Usa's power column erupts into the sky. Jupiter drops the remains of her poor onigiri to rush to her feet. "Sailor Moon!!" she says urgently, looking at her her companion. "Right!" Then she looks at Kaoruko and the assembled magical girls. "I'm sorry, but there's just been an emergency--we have to go!" With that, she sprints for the greenhouse doors, for once right behind her odango-haired companion.

Soon they arrive on the scene, and Jupiter's green eyes dart towards the melty water hands reaching towards Hotaru and Chibi-Usa, at Chibi-Usa screaming and Hotaru seemingly having a seizure, and at the Outer Senshi also on the scene. However, without missing a beat, when Sailor Moon gives her speech, she poses fiercely. "Likewise, the sailor-suited pretty soldier of love and courage, Sailor Jupiter!! I'll fill you with so much regret, it'll leave you numb!"

COMBAT: Makoto Kino transforms into Sailor Jupiter!
COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter has used In The Name Of Jupiter on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly braces Sailor Moon's In The Name Of The Moon, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Moon is Psyched!
Utena Tenjou's Block ability activates!  Utena Tenjou's Parry ability activates!  Cripple applied to Utena Tenjou!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly dodges Sailor Jupiter's In The Name Of Jupiter, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Jupiter is Psyched!
Utena Tenjou's Fade ability activates!  Utena Tenjou's Flash ability activates!  Stagger applied to Utena Tenjou!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Uranus [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Sailor Uranus sets to motion when the attack launches. She is ready to change angles and kick Hotaru back into the attack if she tries to flee this way. She is not willing to rely on the child's feeble body preventing the escape, not with this much at stake.

As she reaches the edge of the picnic, however, she is forced to shield her face from the radiance that erupts. She saw whose power that was, just before it began.

"Her?!" she hisses. With a quick hop back, Uranus waits for the pillar to fade. Before she can get a chance to charge in again, a blast of markedly unfamiliar water magic cuts her off once more.

"Pluto!" she calls out. She just wants a response so she knows if Pluto is still up or not; there's way too much energy between them to tell. Turning to the Ayakashis as they approach, Uranus makes a snap decision, not sparing the time for frustration. "Neptune!" The tone on this cry is different, more meaningful. As she runs back to her partner, Uranus laces her gloved hands and, just before they reach one another, skids down to one knee. When Neptune's elegant footwear nestles into her palm, Uranus surges upward with all the strength in her marathon legs, and hurls Sailor Neptune into the sky to face her watery rival.

Lowering her eyes, she sees the Inner Senshi arrive. It takes her a moment to realize what's wrong; she is used to them showing up like this. When she realizes, however, the frustration she had pushed down earlier blasts through her discipline and draws a sharp breath through her teeth.

"Damn it," she subvocalizes, then, a little louder, "damn it..."

COMBAT: Sailor Uranus has started a combo targeting Utena Tenjou!
<Pose Tracker> Chibi-Usa Tsukino [Juuban Public School (4)] has posed.

It's a familiar fear that greets Chibi-Usa as Dark Fire and Dark Water both encircle them. Unusually Chibi-Usa has her eyes open and the strange column of silvery-gold power around her does not abate; she can thus see the trap around them, the strange icy hands, the...

"N-No!" Chibi-Usaanswers Koan in a panic. She can hear little else of what happens. Little else except for one terrible, terrible thing...

She looks up and she sees Hotaru, so dark. Her light seems to have nothing for her except disappearing, and the way Hotaru looks...

"H-Hotaru-chan!" This fear is added to the rest, more and more of them. She does not hear Sailor Moon in all this, and she does not see Sailor Uranus movin to the fight with the Outers.

No, Chibi-Usa sees Hotaru in seizure, and reaches out her glowing hands to take hold of her arms, "Hotaru-chan! Hotaru-chan!" She's panicking. But she can't leave her alone. "I'm--I'm--aaaaa-haaaaa--" Her vision swims with tears again.

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

Sailor Neptune gathers the ocean's power to her, prepares the first and hopefully final blow, and Sailor Pluto's hands feel slippery inside her gloves with an imagined substance darker and heavier than sweat. She curses herself for a great many things in that moment -- they echo in the aching solitude of her own skull -- and crouches to launch.


The instant her first boot departs the earth, Sailor Pluto knows where she is headed. Her body angles to follow her eyes, which have long since angled to follow her heart. She leaps forward toward her beloved Small Lady in the bare moment she's given, every fiber of her being screaming to reach that precious pink-tufted head and every mystical iota of timesense shouting that it cannot be done.

Big bright crimson eyes strike Sailor Pluto between Neptune's killing syllables. She can't help but meet them -- how could she look away from her beloved Small Lady when she is in such danger? Danger Pluto has brought -- with guilt colored garnet.

She can't make it. Even as the temptation flits through, it feels like Time stops, or at the very least seizes for the span of an endless suspended heartbeat.


The moon arises on Chibi-Usa Tsukino's forehead, a slender curve of gold beneath weightless pink bangs. Brilliance thunders up and burns afterimages of the two girls hugging each other tight into the backs of Pluto's retinas, blows her back what few steps she's gained and then some. She lifts one arm to shield watering eyes from that blinding column, and shouts out, "Small Lady!! Are you all right?" She hears those cries, and they pull tears from Sailor Pluto that have nothing to do with painful light.

Above her crooked elbow she spies incoming threats Koan and Berthier, and when she can finally lower that arm they've sprung their own ambush. Dark Fire and Dark Water entrap Chibi-Usa and Hotaru, and for very different reasons, the outer senshi means to reach them both--

Her attention back on the girls trapped within, she spots the rising darkness that still nominally claims the form of Hotaru Tomoe, and with it the ravening gravity devouring her precious Small Lady's beautiful, magical goodness and light. "NO!! Get AWAY FROM HER!!" That should suffice for a 'Polo' to Uranus's 'Marco'. Furious desperation snaps Pluto's attention upward, to Koan, and when she next shouts it is with dark and resonant promise.

"She has all the Time its Guardian can promise to a soul, and you have none. NONE." The sooner Pluto ends this threat, the sooner she can kill the greater within that magical prison. Purpling-red fury gathers and flares at the end of the Garnet Rod, and with a shriek it rockets toward Koan.

COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has used Garnet Blast on Utena Tenjou.
<Pose Tracker> Saki Hyuuga [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

"Hm...yeah, I guess that's true," Saki murmurs, thoughts turning to the needle of Tokyo Tower. "If power like that was in the sky, it'd be hard to miss, huh?"

On cue, the roll of thunder, and Saki bristles a little, less out of any phobia and more out of sheer ominousness. But...the sky doesn't look right for that, and something tickles at her memory. Recalling to mind the seaside she's spent so much time by in her life...

Her confusion lasts until that light pierces the sky. "Huh!?" she squawks. The Sailor Senshi turn, decisively darting away. She looks to Mai; one glance, making sure her partner's in; and then Kaoruko: "We're going, too!" she says. "FLAPPY!"

Flappy pulls himself out of Coupe-induced delirium and hops away sadly, looking up sullenly at Saki once before poofing into his Commune form. With her fairy in hand, Saki throws her other hand to Mai and shouts the words.

Very courteously, Cure Bloom does not rocket out of the garden's dome when she appears, but slams into the ground and immediately takes off at a dash to pursue the Sailor Senshi out. And when she gets out, she finds herself stopping in shock at the awesome powers all on display at once. She's seen a lot, as a magical girl, but amazing magic like this never gets easier to look at; particularly with that strange silhouette, drinking in power at the core. She sets her feet, gloves creaking as the light of her magic flicks off her in motes, and then thrusts her hand forward, feeling the familiar words in her throat. "The shining golden flower, Cure Bloom!" she barks, and throws her hand up to cross with Mai.

"Togther, we are...!"

COMBAT: Saki Hyuuga transforms into Cure Bloom!
<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Takeo bows his head again to Kaoruko. "Thank you ma'am." He says to the compliment of his "bold plan." He also takes it to heart to think about doing just that. Something about maybe redeaming Tokyo Tower after everything that happened ot him there just sounds right to him. He hears thunder and tilts his head. If there was ONE thing the lightning wielder knew, was the sound of thunder. It didn't sound ... right.

On that realization chaos and mass hysteria take hold of the area. Flying out of the room, Takeo slides to a stop near Sailor Moon, his eyes noting the doom and gloom and the swirling clouds. He gives Moon a quick wink and a playful grin, "I guess it's time to armor up!" He rips off the sunglasses and calls out, almost as a challenge in and of itself;


Takeo's eyes flash as lightning flashes form those clouds in the sky. Thunder, real thunder, breaks through the sounds of the park. Lighting slams over and over into Takeo, each bolt causing an area of his body to clow a vibrant neon blue until the entire body is glowing. Then, starting form the feet, hte light drifts away in little motes revealing Lancelot. The motes of light explode with a crack of thunder and Lancelot catches two final bolts of lightning which solidify into the twin blades of Arondight.

He runs forward at superhuman speed and leaps off first one tree, then a second to gain height and slams his blades together, "LIGHTING STREAM!" The blades crashing together and the cry create a swirling bolt of lighting that crackles, seers and arcs through the air toward Petz.

COMBAT: Takeo Akamizu transforms into Chevalier Knight Lancelot!
COMBAT: Lancelot has used Lightning Stream on Utena Tenjou.
<Pose Tracker> Mai Mishou [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

"Oh, no..." Mai says, softly. She stares as she looks out the window, seeing the piercing light. It reflects in her purple eyes and she feels that terrible spike of fear and uncertainty at first.

'We're going, too!'

"Mm! Right!" she calls out.

A little later, Cure Egret sets down in perfect time with Cure Bloom. She lands in a three-point stance instead of slamming into the ground, and then silver light bursts off her. She stares up at the display of power -- and then she throws hand up, crossing with Saki's.

"...Pretty Cure! Those who would harm the sacred fountains," she calls out, "stop your cruel behavior!"

COMBAT: Mai Mishou transforms into Cure Egret!
COMBAT: Cure Egret has used We Are... on Cure Bloom.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Neptune [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Sailor Neptune had expected many outcomes from her strike. From the quiet death of a sickly girl who no doubt never asked to be incarnated in this form, to a shrieking storm that consumed much of Tokyo as the evil power within Hotaru Tomoe released itself.

But Tokyo is not the world. It isn't even Japan.

Sailor Neptune had many possible images in her mind... this was not one of them. As the golden pillar of light shines down, Sailor Neptune raises her head and her eyes widen, her posture returning to an upright carriage as she stares in simple astonishment for an instant.

"Well," Sailor Neptune begins as she sweeps some withered pieces of grass from her dress. It's all or nothing, she thinks, before matters evolve even further and swiftly with the arrival, like thunder, of women sheathed in black and dressed with pointed precision. Sailor Neptune's eyes rest on the Ayakashi Sisters, and then flick, for a fleeting instant, to Uranus, before the intense horror of force and light and ice and fire and - the light fades -

Uranus is already moving.

Neptune's lips quirk for a moment, but only for an instant. She steps forwards to meet the Soldier of Wind, raising one foot into the clasped hands of the kneeling blonde, her hand raising up and inadvertently* brushing against the short hair there before


Into the sky rises the sea. As she comes near to Berthier, Sailor Neptune speaks low and elegant. "You shouldn't have come here," she tells Berthier as she approaches.

The reason why comes when her left hand lashes out to aim a knife-handed strike, backed by the momentum granted her by the wind, at the back of Berthier's neck - aiming to cut slightly from beneath, to avoid any cushion her braid might give her.

We have to keep moving, Sailor Neptune thinks, the form of the small, screaming figure of Hotaru Tomoe visible in the corner of her eye: This could be how it all starts...!

COMBAT: Sailor Neptune has joined the combo started by Sailor Uranus!
COMBAT: COMBO! Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune have used Rising Tide and Aquatic Allemande on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Cure Bloom accepts Cure Egret's We Are..., taking 0 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou perfectly dodges Sailor Pluto's Garnet Blast, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Utena Tenjou's Fade
ability activates!  Utena Tenjou's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Cure Bloom has used ...Pretty Cure! on Cure Egret.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly counters Lancelot's Lightning Stream, taking 24 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou's counterattack, Dark Thunder!, partially gets through, doing 9 Fatigue damage to Lancelot!  Critical
COMBAT: Cure Egret accepts Cure Bloom's ...Pretty Cure!, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Cure Egret is Cheered!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Was that thunder? Fuu grimaces slightly; the weather forecast didn't include rain, and she didn't bring an umbrella with her. Maybe that was a gamble given the clouds --

And then it turns out that no, it's NOT the weather. At least, not mundane weather. The pillar of light is pretty obvious, though, and with the Sailors charging off, Fuu grimaces and finishes off the tea remaining in her cup. Thoughts of Ferio will have to support her in the fight ahead, since the swordsman himself seems unlikely to turn up. (Not that this means he *can't* ...)

"Hopefully we have a chance to continue this discussion before much longer, Hanasaki-san," she says to Kaoruko with a smile and a polite bow. "I believe you know how to contact me if needed. If you'll excuse me for now ... ?"

She leaves quickly, taking the remnants of her onigiri with her, munching away at it as quickly as she can safely do so; the sour taste of ume brings a slight tear to her eye, but she blinks it away as she's searching out a good spot to transform. As soon as she's found that spot, her glove-jewel is donned, and she whispers, "Belief becomes power ... Winds, guide me!"

One whirlwind and an additional moment later, the Magic Knight of Wind hastens to join her allies, her gaze flicking among the combatants - familiar magical girls (and Lancelot) generally on the ground, and four apparent hostiles in the air. It's Calaveras who draws the Wind Knight's attention, and bow and quiver materialize in brief flares of light; a stiff breeze is already gathering around the green-clad Knight as she nocks an arrow to her bowstring and raises it to aim at the highest-flying of the apparent attackers. "Gale Arrow!" she calls out as the breeze around her reaches its peak -

And her arrow flies, with the gathered wind speeding and guiding it towards Calaveras.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji transforms into Wind Knight!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Gale Arrow on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly braces Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune's Combo: Rising Tide, taking 23 Fatigue damage!  Sailor
Uranus and Sailor Neptune are Psyched!  Utena Tenjou's Block ability activates!  Utena Tenjou's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly dodges Fuu Hououji's Gale Arrow, taking 18 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji is Psyched!  Utena Tenjou's
Fade ability activates!  Utena Tenjou's Flash ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Sailors Moon and Jupiter, Cures Bloom and Egret, announce themselves to the battlefield. Everyone notices them, but there isn't a whole lot of time to announce back.

Calaveras jerks herself out of the way of Fuu's arrow by cracking her whips onto a tree, then going for a swing. Thus relatively unbeleagured, she shouts back for good measure, figuring someone must respond:

"In the name of the Black Moon, we'll make you never born!"

Maybe she misspoke. She'll make you wish you were never born, surely. That does seem like something her whips will accomplish, as they chuck a tree, ripped roots and all out of the ground with terrible strength, at Bloom and Egret -- leaving her other whip to try to encircle Moon and Jupiter together, like a lasso, to slam them helplessly into each other, where they'd be bound.

The Outer Senshi succeed at engaging the attention of Koan and Berthier -- the former dives like a fighter jet out of the path of Pluto's Garnet Blast, which would singe her hair as it went past except that she doesn't really... singe. No, she's quite, quite fireproof, something readily apparent as first she ignites her hands, and then her arms, and finally her whole body in that awful blue Dark Fire, summoning it not from within herself but from the ground below. It was already there, and it's handy. There is a lot of it.

"I, the youngest and most beautiful of the Four Sisters, out of time? I think not, Sailor Obaa-san!" Sailor Auntie. Sailor Old. Sailor So Last Season. A moment later she strikes, bodyslamming at Pluto with a now-unfurling flame projection of herself, while the true Koan tries to soar past.

Berthier agrees. "Who the heck are you to tell me where to go?" she mouus, unimpressed, though the knife-hand that she has to intercept by summoning her Dark Water back to her side and letting the ocean roll into the river, as it were, instead of the other way around. Her cheeks puff out as she's forced back several inches, but standing in the air gives her a great advantage. "I'll show you! DAAAAAAAARK WATER!!" It pours down upon Neptune, upon Uranus, threatening to satisfy dramatic irony by washing them away in much the same way they sought to wash Hotaru.

Hotaru who, along with Chibi-Usa, is now exposed, as Koan and Berthier have used up their prison to defend themselves. All that remains between them and the world is the light pouring off of Small Lady.

That may be a lot, though.

Petz takes Lancelot's lightning blast head on, and it crackles and sparks all over her, raising tiny scorches, as she fills herself with it -- laughs hysterically -- and sends it back down at him, much-magnified. She has the presence of mind, however, to notice that this is all falling apart. "COVER me!" she repeats urgently, holding the Dark Rod over her head.

It seems unlikely that the others will do so more than they already are, and she gnashes her teeth in frustration as the black crystal she's thrust aloft slowly builds, builds, builds in strength... a second bolt pours down almost incidentally towards Fuu... and the next, whether drawn like to like or otherwise, strains from heaven to earth to take Chibi-Usa's golden beam head on, slamming the column downwards towards the ground.

COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Whip It Good on Sailor Moon.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Whip It Good on Sailor Jupiter.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Whip It Good on Cure Bloom.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Whip It Good on Cure Egret.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Dark Fire! on Sailor Pluto.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used DARK WATER! on Sailor Uranus.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used DARK WATER! on Sailor Neptune.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Dark Thunderstorm! on Lancelot.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Dark Thunderstorm! on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou has used Dark Thunderstorm! on Chibi-Usa Tsukino.
COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter narrowly braces Utena Tenjou's Whip It Good, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Jupiter's Block ability
activates!  Sailor Jupiter's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Sailor Moon perfectly dodges Utena Tenjou's Whip It Good, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Sailor Moon's Fade
ability activates!  Sailor Moon's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Sailor Moon covers Chibi-Usa Tsukino for Utena Tenjou's attack, Dark Thunderstorm!, taking it upon herself instead!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji narrowly dodges Utena Tenjou's Dark Thunderstorm!, taking 38 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji's Fade ability
activates!  Fuu Hououji's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Sailor Moon narrowly braces Utena Tenjou's Dark Thunderstorm!, taking 20 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Lancelot fails to dodge Utena Tenjou's Dark Thunderstorm!, taking 41 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Cure Egret fails to brace Utena Tenjou's Whip It Good, taking 25 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
COMBAT: Sailor Neptune narrowly braces Utena Tenjou's DARK WATER!, taking 15 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Neptune's Block ability
activates!  Sailor Neptune's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Cure Bloom narrowly braces Utena Tenjou's Whip It Good, taking 16 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Cure Bloom's Block
ability activates!
COMBAT: Sailor Uranus perfectly dodges Utena Tenjou's DARK WATER!, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Sailor Uranus's
Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto fails to dodge Utena Tenjou's Dark Fire!, taking 33 Fatigue damage!
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

Hotaru's eyes were white, but then she blinks and they burn red, the first color that can penetrate the shadowy silhouette others can see. They have no pupils, no texture at all. They just bleed energy -- as Chibi-Usa grasps her, they leave crimson contrails in her wake as she turns, looks downwards.

Her scream is still silent, but once Chibi-Usa's fingers touch her, something is added to her face: the faintest glitter of tears. They well at the corners of her eyes, then begin tracking downwards, drawing more of that blood-red energy with them across her cheeks.

Slowly, as though fighting through immense pressure, her lips close from a wide-open uncontrolled 'aaa' to a tiny rose 'oh'. Oh as in 'no'.

The rising dark power around Petz is the last thing she feels, but the last thing Chibi-Usa feels from Hotaru is the gentle pressure of her fingertips, as she returns the arm-clasp --

-- and then collapses. With the golden light gone, she is by all appearances an ordinary, if frail, child, sprawled in a heap across her friend.

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

Sailor Moon misses the first subvocal curse of Uranus. The second louder one however draws her eyes. There was hurt before. Now there's something different. The hurt is still there, but there's anger too. It's expressed in a sotto voce, "Disappointed?"

But that's all she says to that for now. She's naive but she's not so foolish anymore to think they're just here to fight the Black Moon Clan. Hotaru Tomoe is here too after all. And she knows what their mission is.

And then she's louder, "Chibi-Usa- Hotaru! I'm coming!"

It's a lesson she learned from Madoka Kaname not so long ago on a night of need. People didn't need her as a soldier- a warrior. Whether it was someone who was a beast to protect others- or otherwise.

People needed her as a friend in their times of need.

It was her feelings as Usagi Tsukino that gave her strength. Not her resolve as a Sailor Senshi.

And it was those feelings that told her that Chibi-Usa's wonderful friend shouldn't be sacrificed to cruel destiny. She wouldn't let it happen to-

The girl that she'd seen shielding Chibi-Usa bodily at a shrine.

The girl she'd seen gently healing her wounds with powers that ostracized her.

The shy girl who was so flustered and touched by something as simple as a surprise birthday party.

The girl who knew such simple joy in the treasure hunt for blossoms in a barely recovered garden.

She wouldn't let their mission succeed.

She wouldn't let the Black Moon Clan succeed either.

Sailor Moon breaks into a run. Just barely managing to hop over the encircling whip, diving onto her arm into a roll between the attack that was meant to catch them together. And coming up- calling out over her shoulder, "Jupiter-chan! Sorry to leave you hanging! You're not going to let something like a little whiplash stop you right?"

But looking ahead at the light pouring off of Small Lady- she sees the glow of Petz pointing her Dark Rod at her. And her determination can be seen written on her face as she sprints past the fading prison, sees dark thunder crashing into the glow of Chibi-Usa's power- flickering. Fading. Gone.

But she's there.

The moment it fades, the Spiral Heart Moon takes over- interposed between Dark Thunder and the two girls. It's power vying against the power of the magnificently amplified power of the Ayakashi Sister.

Lightning flickers against it. And the sparkling rod fends it off for half a moment, lightning crashing against it. Before the sparkling glow fades, and lightning flows through it's wielder like she'd just presented a lightning rod. What comes out of her mouth is never quite a scream in the muscle spasms that follow, as she buckles down to a knee.

Wisps of smoke flow off her fuku. Her hair. But she never falls completely. She spares one glance behind her at the two. One girl sprawled across her friend. As one is unconscious- she addresses only one, but her feelings might reach both. "I promise." She croaks, and smiles, "I'll protect your beautiful friendship."

A hand to her Tiara- she picks it off her forehead. It's immediately infused with sacred light. A disk hovering over a gloved palm as she finds her feet, "Moon Tiara-" She flings it as a magnificent discus towards Petz in particular; though she might be covered by one of her sisters, finding strength in her voice. "-ACTION!" A gleaming arc as it turns end over end before attempting to crash into her.

COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used Moon Tiara Action on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou perfectly braces Sailor Moon's Moon Tiara Action, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Critical Brace!
Utena Tenjou's Block ability activates!  Utena Tenjou's Parry ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Chibi-Usa Tsukino [Juuban Public School (4)] has posed.

Images flash through Chibi-Usa's mind, jarring and unpleasant in their sharpness; her eyes hurt from sudden tears, her heart from so much. But one of those images is Sailor Pluto rushing towards her, after standing there while Sailor Neptune started to attack Hotaru.

What it means is something that rattles around in her.. but behind, as she focuses on Hotaru instead, insofar as she can focus on anything amidst pain and fear and heartache and overwhelming power.

But the way the barriers around them shift is not comforting; it's not kind even thathey're gone for what it might mean, and Chibi-Usa still can't see the others. Puu's voice... that she hears. Get away from her.

Chibi-Usa doesn't, if it was meant forher, or if it wasn't. Chibi-Usa is staring into white eyes that become awful red, no texture, bleeding everywhere. "Hotaru-chan!" she cries again, and then she sees the tears on her face. She doesn't understand what she's seeing, but she sees pain, she sees Hotaru struggling, and her heart leaps into her throat.

She is not looking when the Dark Rod is used, but she can feel it amidst all the gold. And even in all that, she can feel Hotaru's fingers on her arms.

And suddenly Chibi-Usa is not surrounded by obvious golden light. It has faded against that bolt, and Chibi-Usa holds close, bracing herself. ...But the end doesn't come.

Chibi-Usa falls the short distance to the ground with Hotaru, and can say nothing for a moment as she feels and sees that attack. "S-Sailor Moon...?" Chibi-Usa asks, trying at leas to see her. She... promises.

"Sailor Moon, be careful..." The pink-haired girl looks worried, another layer of fear. But she thinks... "I-I'll stay with her..."

Biting her lip, Chibi-Usa tries to move to stand--and to bring Hotaru's limp form with her. Sailor Moon is getting hurt for her again. Again. And she can only...

What is that light?

COMBAT: Chibi-Usa Tsukino has used Be Careful Sailor Moon! on Sailor Moon.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon accepts Chibi-Usa Tsukino's Be Careful Sailor Moon!, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Moon is Cheered!
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Petz throws his own Lighting Stream back, and Lancelot crosses his swords in fornt of himself, the gleaming white blades absorbimg much of the returned bolt, but some fo the energy arcing back into him. Which is when her SECOND bolt of lighting slams into him. It drives him into the ground, exploding the breath from his chest and causing him to see stars, the edges of his vision creeping in on him as he gasps for breath in his own personal Lancleot crater.

He closes his eyes, almost willing himself to just breathe. Breathe, and focus. Which, if he was being honest with himself, he really didn't want to focus. He sort of wanted to stand up and kick Petz's ass.

He staggers to his feet, white blades exploding with energy. "Alright." He rolls his shoulders. "Lets try this again." He rushes forward running as fast as he can. Running up the side of a tree he leaps one he's reached the top, to land on a second tree. There, he uses the force and speed of his leap to create a sort of springboard. This catapult shim even higher than last time.

As he sails through the air he calls out, "HEY! No give backs - BLADEFURY!!" And as he passes Petz in the air, his baldes flash repeatedly. Each strike unleashing a blast of lightning. He spins in air to watch for any possible return strokes form Petz.

COMBAT: Lancelot has used Bladefury on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly dodges Lancelot's Bladefury, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Utena Tenjou's Fade ability activates!  Utena
Tenjou's Flash ability activates!  Stagger applied to Utena Tenjou!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

The Wind Knight is already drawing another arrow when a bolt of thunder hammers her - and not from the Ayakashi Sister on whom she was focusing, but on the fourth one, the one she *hadn't* taken notice of yet. She catches enough of the movement to at least *start* moving, though - and that may be what saves her from worse injuries, though only by a matter of inches.

These are really, *really* bad odds. Four warriors of Darkness against - how many? The Wind Knight barely has time or clarity to try and take a head count of her allies, but how often has weight of numbers been the best advantage the magical girls have had, against such overwhelming powers arrayed against them?

No time to worry about that. No time to call for reinforcements, or even to pray for help from another source. These are the defenders of Tokyo's innocents who are *here*; other battles may rage elsewhere, where she doesn't know what's going on, but for now?

The Magic Knight of Wind pushes herself back to her feet, taking a deep breath as the breeze stirs around her once more, tousling her hair, ruffling her sleeves and skirt. "The Black Moon shall not cast its darkness on our beloved city, nor any part thereof," she says - simple words of defiance as she gathers herself. She takes another breath, and calls out in a louder and clearer voice: "We're not going to let you win, no matter what your goal is!"

Whether she specifically intends it to reencourage her allies or to challenge their enemies isn't entirely clear, but her defiance of the Black Moon Clan should be clear enough - and that's all she needs at the moment. Another arrow is drawn back on her bow, and loosed into the sky ...

To hit nothing?

At least on the way up. On the way *down*, though, Petz may feel a brief sting. Or maybe it won't be so brief. This is a chancy trick shot, even for the Magic Knight of Wind, and it could easily be a wasted shot.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Trick Arrow Shot on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly braces Fuu Hououji's Trick Arrow Shot, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Utena Tenjou's Block ability
activates!  Utena Tenjou's Parry ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Cure Bloom [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

Cure Bloom is still messed up on heartful tea and even Egret joining her in the speech doesn't quite get her fully in the moment until someone tries to smash her with a tree. "Whoa!" she yelps, and throws her arms up in a block. The tree slams into her, but there's a PWING! of gold at the point of impact; and instead of slam into her the tree cracks in half around a shield of earthly light. Bloom shakes her head out at the surprise, sucking in a breath and eyeing Calaveras with that whip of hers. Everyone seems to be engaged, so she glances to Egret, and jerks her head up; and then Cure Bloom shoots into the air, trailing light around her as she scoots skyward, then u-turns sharply and dive-bombs at Calaveras. She does, indeed, assume Calaveras misspoke, because she replies, "I'll never regret a thing like that!" as she cruises in, fist glowing with power to sock the other woman square in the chest. "This world has too many amazing things in it! I won't let you take even one more away!"

COMBAT: Cure Bloom has used Fistful of Flowers on Utena Tenjou.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Pluto [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Pluto's first attack flies past Koan, and it could be called harmless until it detonates the canopy of one of those freshly replanted plum trees far behind her. After that, those responsible for these restorative efforts might have a thing or two to say about carelessly lobbed Garnet Blasts. They're welcome to take their place in line behind all the other, far more important people Sailor Pluto has disappointed this day.

She tries to twist out of the way but only succeeds in twisting, and a Dark Fire Koan brands itself across her back, singing black through white silk. Sailor Pluto bites down on her bottom lip, preferring not to scream, and shudders her way through the horrid pain instead with hands locked hard round the Garnet Rod.

'Sailor Obaa-san' warrants no spoken response; it is ignorable squawking, and the Soldier of Revolution is above such pettiness. She need not demonstrate her timelessness, has nothing to prove to this upstart. And so if the Akamira model grits her way through rattling agony to move with blinding elegance, the arc of her leaping pursuit perfection itself, that is simply and surely an effortless expression of her natural self.

The Rod whurrrrs overhead like a silvery, handspun helicopter blade, then arcs with matching perfection down at Koan's miserable head.

She's trying so hard not to look at Small Lady, so desperate to throw her all into protecting her by attacking Koan, that she misses the sudden fall of golden light. Only after does Pluto spot the protective, scorched stance of her future Queen -- another of the people she most desires to protect, next to...

...well, if the girl looks harmless now, in that piteous little crumple... Sailor Pluto knows better. The faster she can get through Koan, the sooner she can deal with the true threat.

COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has used Pendulum Blitz on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly dodges Cure Bloom's Fistful of Flowers, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Cure Bloom is Psyched!  Utena
Tenjou's Fade ability activates!  Utena Tenjou's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou narrowly braces Sailor Pluto's Pendulum Blitz, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Sailor Pluto is
Psyched!  Utena Tenjou's Block ability activates!  Utena Tenjou's Parry ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Cure Egret [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

Cure Egret finds the roots whipping out at her and she tries to raise both arms and push it back. She doesn't.

She gets slammed into, smashed backward, and sent flying. She flips over, then lands on both feet. She lets out a long, soft breath, and looks up. She sees the golden light that bursts outward when Bloom flies at her foe -- and that gives her all the inspiration she needs to leap into the air. Silver light trails in her wake, as she does a sharp turn in midair.

"That... that is terrible!" she cries out. "This world is too wonderful to never have wanted to be in it!"

She comes crashing down for Calaveras from above. Just after Bloom throws her punch, she comes down in a midair pivot that ends abruptly, when Cure Egret launches a kick for the other woman's head -- and a silver burst of light punctuates her kick.

COMBAT: Cure Egret has used Sky Dancer's Kick on Utena Tenjou.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Jupiter [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Calaveras claps back. Jupiter peers at her, grimacing. "Wha--? We've already *been* born, you can't do that!" Jupiter, not exactly the point here. However, whatever Calaveras meant to say, there's still a whole lot of bite on the other end of her whip, which Jupiter crosses her arms to defend against. Thankfully, Sailor Moon just scrambles away and avoids it entirely, meaning the two of them aren't lassoed together, and when Sailor Moon shouts her apology, Jupiter grins back.

"Sure won't! You make sure those kids are safe!" she calls back, nodding towards Hotaru and Chibi-Usa. Then she turns back towards Calaveras, eyes narrowed in determination. The battle's chaotic right now--but at least the Ayakashi Sisters are distracting the Outers from Hotaru, and the Outers are distracting the Ayakashi Sisters from Chibi-Usa. That'll make things a lot easier for her.

For now, though, she spreads her arms, whirling herself into a spin as flower petals burst into existence all around. "FLOWER..." she calls, then snaps to a halt. "HURRICANE!!" The mass of flowers whoosh forwards in an enormous floral wave, threatening to consume Calaveras and wrap her up in their beauty, leaving it difficult at best for her to move until she can break through.

COMBAT: Sailor Jupiter has used Flower Hurricane on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou perfectly dodges Cure Egret's Sky Dancer's Kick, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Utena Tenjou's
Fade ability activates!  Utena Tenjou's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou fails to brace Sailor Jupiter's Flower Hurricane, taking 23 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Jupiter is Psyched!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Neptune [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

The words of the two Ayakashi Sisters ripple through Neptune's ears as she approaches them. Sisters, and four of them, she thinks: Well, that must be interesting for them. The control of the Dark Water is unfortunately too quick for her to get a satisfying snap out of Berthier - instead, the water pours, crashes onto her.

Neptune is thus thrown, unceremoniously, down to the ground - she hits hard enough to bounce and tumble once, though the tumble gives her enough opportunity to land on her feet, scuffed but not broken. She rises, adjusting her headpiece as she sees Sailor Moon run in -

Her heart sinks. Why is this harder? Neptune thinks. Why did these miserable women have to come NOW? Were they following us? She's hurling her tiara up and moving to protect Hotaru in this moment -

She'd block anything now, Neptune rationalizes, and her eyes turn up towards the Dark Sisters.

"Permit me to introduce myself, then," she answers Berthier, her lips pulling back into a smile that does not actually move away from her mouth. "On behalf of the new age, with the protection of the deep sea - I am Sailor Neptune. Who did you say you were?"

The hand that had raised up to rest on her collarbone during her introduction raises forwards, and there is a shimmering surge of sea-green force out, like the ripple along a fresh-struck violin blow except for constituting, oh, a good even ton of sorcerous ocean water, moving with eye-startling force.

As she throws this dart, Neptune's eyes turn, first towards Uranus and then again towards Chibi-usa, Sailor Moon, and... their target, now protected by Sailor Moon and a small child, without the benefit of that pillar of shocking and inexplicable light.

Will it return? Neptune wonders; to one person, at least, it is clear as day upon her face.

COMBAT: Sailor Neptune has used Dolphin Wave on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou fails to brace Sailor Neptune's Dolphin Wave, taking 74 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Uranus [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Uranus couldn't justify watching Neptune just to watch her, in a situation as dangerous as this, but she does really need to know how the attack goes to understand her next move. This affords her the privilege of watching Neptune's graceful aerial assault.

The cascade of blasting dark water affords quite an interruption, and Uranus throws herself into a side roll, neatly evading it as it scours the grass away from the ground where she had stood. She comes up facing Sailor Moon and Sailor Jupiter (from a good distance). She can take no joy in their attacks. They are as determined as ever... no, more. Sailor Moon in particular seems a girl driven. So different from before, when she whimpered and doubted. If she could not be turned from this path then, she certainly can't be now. For Sailor Moon's sake, hopefully there will be another chance.


Side-by side with Neptune, Sailor Uranus turns around and stomps a foot down, Southern-style, taking a sturdy stance as her hawklike eyes find Berthier. Tomoe couldn't be brought down. Now the Inners are in the way again. The wind reaves its way about her as she raises her hands, fingers rippling. The next time she uses this attack, will it be on another senshi?

"Fight alongside them, for now!" Uranus shouts to Pluto. It's not really an order. It's permission, for something she suspects Pluto wants.


Damn that idiot girl. Uranus's fingers slide in opposite directions past her eyes, which flash spark-yellow between them.


At the same time as Neptune, Uranus blasts forward a scything mass of dozens of interlocking currents of wind magic, the churning spheres racing towards Balthier.

COMBAT: Sailor Uranus has used Gaze Turbulent on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou perfectly braces Sailor Uranus's Gaze Turbulent, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Critical Brace!
Utena Tenjou's Block ability activates!  Utena Tenjou's Parry ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Invisibly high above the battlefield, another person watches the swirling interplay of light and darkness, electricity and water, fists and feet and arrows and rods and flowers...


Thin lips purse.



It doesn't feel that way in the moment. It is desperate and dangerous and dirty. There are so many ways to get hurt. So many people to hurt, on both sides. Everywhere, the air is filled with fire and water and lightning and whips, whips that strangle as often as they lash.

Still -- the Four Ayakashi Sisters are forced back on the defense; Calaveras ducks first away from Bloom and then, further, from Egret, only to be caught up in Jupiter's hurricane and buoyed away, totally out of control, to slam into Petz.

This is very bad; she loses her concentration, and the Dark Rod pulses, a sensation that can be felt like a shockwave. A mile away, people lower crepes halfway to their mouths and turn to stare at Jindai Hill. Lancelot's swords, Fuu's arrow, even Sailor Moon's tiara are pushed aside, but not harmlessly -- Petz's body jacknives as though someone's flipped the flow of power, and she is more the victim of the Rod than anyone else.

Koan has crossed her wrists to intercept the Garnet Rod above her head, and is pushed back several feet -- she flips head over heels in midair, then stares up at Petz, shocked. "SISTER!" She rockets upwards, to her aid.

Berthier on the other hand was totally set to go toe to toe with Sailor Neptune only to find herself out of her depth -- so to speak -- and is less-voluntarily blasted upwards hydrodynamically, so quickly that it bodily removes her from the path of Uranus' winds. Water that moves faster than air must be painful, indeed. Calaveras, recovering from having slammed into Petz, catches her limp body out of the air with a whip.


All four sisters, some more dazed, some less, look up, and there's their supervisor. Koan is naive enough to look relieved. "Rubeus-sama... you came for me..." Berthier is barely conscious. Calaveras feels herself start to tremble and hardly knows why. Petz tightens her grip on the Dark Rod only to have it struck from her hand with such force that she -- and the other three, near her -- are flung to the ground. A small crater is created on impact, splintering a few baby plum trees.

Rubeus is tall and strong and utterly, viciously masculine, from the fiery rise of his hair to the smirk on his lips which is perpetual, even when he's livid, as now. Fury pours out of his gaze, but contempt lingers on his lips. On the brows of the Four Sisters, the black moon is a symbol of uniformity, of belonging, but on his forehead it is an emblematic declaration of identity, like a very personal, very proud tattoo.

"Thank you..."

He sweeps the Dark Rod in front of him... and dark power streams out of the Four Sisters, like it did with Petz but this time on purpose, this time with utterly malicious intent. Their bodies seize and scream, and then they don't anymore. It is quite unclear whether or not they're still alive.

The Dark Rod pulses again, and again, more and more rapidly -- and then, just as it's about to overload, he hurls it down among their bodies. It streaks through the air and buries itself in the crater like a black crystalline rose.

"...for your service."

If his underlings can't serve him with their lives, they will do so with their deaths.

And the whole world implodes in a great crack of thundrous darkness that has nothing to do with electricity. Void pours forth in all directions. First pebbles, then logs, and finally people -- the closest first, the Four Sisters first -- lose their grip on gravity, and are sucked inwards, towards the heart of what it doesn't take a rocket scientist to guess is a rapidly growing black hole.

"Goodbye, sisters. Goodbye, would-be soldiers and saviors."

His smirk grows, the only thing in this collapsing space that seems capable of doing so, morphing into an outright leer.

"Goodbye, Rabbit."


COMBAT: Honoka Yukishiro transforms into Rubeus!
COMBAT: FINISHER! Honoka Yukishiro has used Dark Betrayal on Utena Tenjou.
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou fails to brace Honoka Yukishiro's Finisher, Dark Betrayal, taking 316 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou is unable to keep fighting!