2017-10-16 - Love and Loyalty

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Love and Loyalty

Kasagami confronts Nanoha about something that happened between the Chevaliers and Shepherds.


Nanoha Takamachi, Kasagami Araki, Fate Testarossa


Midor-iya and Abandoned Distillery

OOC - IC Date:

10/16/2017 - 2/25/2015

<Pose Tracker> Nanoha Takamachi [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

The Midoriya is normally a busy place but as the evening winds down, the crowds start to thin out and people begin to make their way home. This doesn't change anything for the Takamachi family however as they are all still here working in various places. All of them are easy to spot except the youngest, Nanoha, who could be easily missed as she is hunched over a book, sitting in a booth, near the front corner of the bakery.

The are no food or drinks near her but the book she is reading seems very interesting as her focus seems to be solely on it and not anything else. Normally, she would be snacking or helping out but tonight, this book seems to hold her attention more than anything else. The front cover is blue and the text can be easily read as, "The Caring of Fish." Near her left hand is a pencil, which ever so often, the girl picks up to write something in a notebook.

Nanoha's attire this evening is her normal Infinity uniform, although she is wearing a white, open sweater over it. It's a little chilly in the restaraunt today so it was keeping her warm. Her legs are curled up on the booth seat and most of the tables nearby seem to be empty for the moment, waiting for possible last minute customers.

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

Kasagami arrives with her usual lack of subtlety. There's a horn honking a street or three over, a sound of a vehicle swerving, and then a roaring engine and squeeling tires make another mockery of the essence of safe driving. The lights on a black-and-crimson Harley die down, and a helmet is cast about a handlebar. Kickstand down, a long black duffel bag shouldered over her back, and the Student Council Disciplinary Executive walks into the Midori-ya like she owns the place.

The doors come open with a little more force than usual. Her boots make a b-line towards a very specific seat with a very specific person sitting there over her book. A grin is etched on her face.

"Nanoha-chan! Mind if I sit?" WHUMP. Her voice is a bit tight, a bit tired, and that definitely was a rhetorical question.

Kasagami all but falls into the seat next to her. The duffel bag is gently placed beside her. There's a light sound of what might be metal from inside, if one listens close.

Should a waitress come by? She'll shoo them off, first with a hand, then a glare.

"You really are full of surprises, you know that? Oh, my, you've been very busy lately, haven't you!?" There's mirth in her voice, even as she cuts her usually loud and boisterous tone down so that only Nanoha could hear. Her good eye is narrowed, and bores into Nanoha with unflinching intensity.

<Pose Tracker> Nanoha Takamachi [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

The first thing that takes Nanoha's focus from her book is the tires squealing and then the car approaches and makes her focus even more. She knows that car pretty well but for the first few seconds, Nanoha doesn't make any moves, even as the familiar girl comes into the bakery like she runs things. It does take her by surprise but even moreso that Kasagami comes right towards her.

Nanoha's eyes widen at the question and before she can offer any word to Kasagami, the girl is seated across from her. There seems to be something different about the girl since their last visit but she doesn't question it at first. Instead, she closes the book, marking carefully her spot.

"I... what? Is something wrong?" The girl looks very confused and something about the way the words are spoken makes her feel uneasy. "Suprises? What are you talking about?" Nanoha doesn't address Kasagami by name, perhaps she feels intimidated right now. "Busy with school... I guess." She shrugs, really having no clue what Kasagami was talking about exactly.

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

Kasagami, upon seeing Nanoha's confusion, finally just laughs. It's a low thing, and she lets out a sigh. "Really? Playing coy?"

Then she pauses, and frowns. A thought crosses her mind, pehaps that hadn't this entire time. "Huh. Or maybe she didn't tell you. That really would just be like her, wouldn't it? So, Nanoha-chan...a little bird told me that you met someone by the name of Mami Tomoe. The girl with her pretty little band of make-believe soldiers." Her smile smile is suddenly very pleasant, in that vaguely mocking sort of way.

Her eye narrows a fraction again. "...Starting to get the picture a little more? Or do I need to spell things out for you, my dear friend."

<Pose Tracker> Nanoha Takamachi [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

Nanoha cannot seem to make sense of what Kasagami is saying. The young girl feels like she is missing something important but before any questions can be asked she hears, at least partly, what she is talking about.

"Mami... yes but how did you know that?" As far as Nanoha knew, she hadn't talked to her and she cannot imagine why Mami, or anyone else, would have mentioned it specifically to Kasagami. Maybe it had been someone else though?

"I don't understand what that has to do with anything. I mean, why..." Make-believe soliders? Sudden realization dawns on the girl, although she is still not sure she understands everything. "Is there a problem? Did something happen?"

She cannot help but feel like something is definitely wrong here. For now, the young girl seems to hold things together. She eyes her parents nearby and her siblings moving in and out of the kitchen. For now, they don't approach though so it's just Kasagami and Nanoha.

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

Nanoha is just so innocent, even now. Kasagami's gaze actually softens. Some of the anger in her, while it doesn't go away, pauses. She looks the younger girl up and down. And finally she just rolls an eye.

Her smile this time, despite herself, is genuine. Arms finally cross, and she props her head up with an elbow. Her head is tilted as she assumes something almost lazy as she peers at the girl, openly in half disbelief.

"You know what? I actually believe that you have no idea how or why I know what I know. Yeesh. Dragging people like you into this whole mess? Nanoha. Let me give you my sincerest and fullest apologies in advance. I'm starting to think you're in way over your head. And that makes me very sad because I like the girl that serves pastries in her parents' wonderful shop." Her whispers ends with a sigh.

A glance to said parents. She stands up, and slips to Nanoha's side. Dextrous fingers will try to slip an envelope into one of Nanoha's pockets. Her other hand reaches down to playfully ruffle the girl's hair with a grin on her face. She leans in.

"Meet me soon. And don't be late. Trust me, better to get any bad blood out of the way before this whole farce ends." A wink, and then she' stepping lively towards the exit of the Midori-ya.

That envelope? It contains an address to an abandoned old section of an industrial district. Money for a cab either towards, or...back? The time? Midnight. It would take a magical girl to get there from the Midori-ya.

Kasagami sings aloud as she departs, in near-perfect but heavily accented English.

"Baa, baa, black sheep, have you any wool?"

"Yesss sir, yes sir, three bags full!"

~Later, Abandoned Distillery~

Kasagami, festooned by crimson roses about her coat, has red-highlighted hair fluttering in the wind as she stands upon the rooftop of an old, abandoned distillery in Tokyo's outskirts. A prime place for weaker youma to prey on the homeless and lost of the city. There's no chance of that tonight. The Would-Be-King made sure the battle she'd invited Nanoha to wouldn't be interrupted by such garbage. If Pluto was right?

They wouldn't have been even a challenge for her would-be opponent this night. Kasagami's nodachi is set before her, one hand on the sheath and the other in her pocket as she finishes her ditty from earlier in the day. Her pocketwatch strikes midnight.

"No sir, no sir, no bags full~!"

<Pose Tracker> Nanoha Takamachi [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

The young Infinity student can only just listen to Kasagami. Whatever words she was trying to formulate seem to be lost in her confusion and the situation she currently finds herself in. The hints given to her are enough to make her realize that this is something that she cannot just ignore.

While she wants to press Kasagami for more information that will help her make sense of it, this is notably not the place to do it in and no sooner had she begun to think that when the older girl stands up and leaves a note with her. Nanoha doesn't resist the action and only after Kasagami has left, does she tentatively open the letter.

Reading over it, she frowns and places the note, and her book and pencil into a bag. Glancing at her phone, she realizes that she didn't have much time. Her first thoughts are to let Fate know something was happening. However, after what happened the night Nanoha was drained, she decides against it. Whatever the repurcussions of that could be, she would deal with later.

Later in the evening, her family is all at home, everyone is in bed. Yuuno isn't there so she didn't have to answer to him. Raising Heart is placed around her neck. The tiny pink orb having been repaired to full capacity with little time needed.

Arriving at the distillery, Nanoha is already in her Barrier Jacket. She had questions for the older girl and the hints that Kasagami already knew of her identity made her less cautious about approaching in this manner and it's just a little after midnight when Kasagami would know she was there.

"That's an interesting song Kasa-chan..." Nanoha smiles, adressing her for the first time this evening as she approaches. "So, what is this all about? What couldn't you tell me down there?" Nanoha gestures vaguely in the direction of the bakery. Although there are no outward signs, Nanoha is a little nervous having not been in any kind of confrontation since she was drained.

COMBAT: Nanoha Takamachi transforms into Barrier Jacket Sacred!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki transforms into Crimson Rose Duelist!

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

And there she is. Kasagami turns, boots snapping and coat flicking. Her smile right now? Is far more relaxed, even if there's an aggressive bent to her stance. The innocent soul that is Nanoha calls to the better half of this burning-hearted Duelist. Enemy or not, she likes the girl.

Grin. "It was one of my Mother's favorites. She'd sing it to me every night. Sorry for all the theatrics!" Another laugh, and her good eye peers around sharply. Nothing. No one. They're alone.

"Just you, then? Hoh-ho! I didn't say you had to come alone, but you did anyway! BRILLIANT! I'm glad I didn't misjudge you, Nanoha-chan!" She sounds so happy all of a sudden. Then the sound of metal slowly drawing from wood shakes the air. Kasagami takes her time, and then effortlessly lays her massive blade over her shoulder like it was a paper weight.

"I didn't want to get you in any trouble with your parents. Or make any trouble for myself. So now that we're all to ourselves, let's be honest. You signed up with the Chevaliers. I signed up with the Shepherds. We're two warriors on the opposite sides of a war. That alone is enough for us to fight. But...how to put this? I'm not asking you here because of us being opponents in that twisted up little mess. This is personal, Nanoha."

Her good humor drops. The point of her sword is pointed at the Mage. Her gaze goes stern, and she lets her anger flare up. Her eye narrows, and she's tense like a hawk about to take flight.

"You hurt someone I love! All of the Shepherds are my dear friends and sisters! I'll die fighting for their safety if I have to against you Chevaliers, but this is different!" There's equal parts passion and fury involved.

"Don't get me wrong. You're a good girl, but you're just the type Mami Tomoe likes to draw in and use as her footsoldiers! So that's why I'm asking you to fight me with all of your power! I can't let anyone who hurts my beloved Sailor Pluto, right or wrong, go unpunished! Let's settle this as warriors, so that our next clash will be one of sisterhoods and ideals rather than lingering hatreds!" Kasagami proclaims proudly. She makes no move to start the fight. The ball, it seems, is in Nanoha's court.

<Pose Tracker> Nanoha Takamachi [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

Were this a different situation, Nanoha would gladly talk about the songs that her own parents would sing to her or other things but right now her focus is on this personal meeting. The air up here is cooler as the winds lightly ruffle her hair. It's not enough to make her shiver but it is enough to add to the eerieness of being up here so late.

Nanoha shakes her head at Kasagami, "There wasn't a reason for me to get anyone else involved." And then the blade is withdrawn and while Nanoha feels the adrenaline begin to rush, she doesn't yet hold Raising Heart. Waiting and hoping for more of an explanation.

"Just because we have different ideals doesn't mean that we have to fight though." Nanoha is fully aware of the conflicts between the Chevaliers and the Shepherds. The different ideals and values were made very clear to her before she joined a side. "Personal...?"

The idea that she had hurt someone Kasagami loved takes the girl by surprise. She had no idea at first who she was referring to but then she hears the name. "Pluto?" It takes a minute for her to realize who it was. "Wait, that wasn't my fault! They attacked us first!" Nanoha frowns, remembering the power it took to make the Outers retreat.

The younger girl takes a step backwards away from Kasagami. "You didn't see what happened!" She pauses. "Did they even tell you everything that happened? I bet you only heard one side of the story." Her voice is somewhat raised. "The lies...Sayaka... we had no choice! We had to help!"

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

Kasagami lets out a laugh that borders on a sneer. "Don't have to fight, you say!? Now that is just rich! You would actually be right if we were sitting at a table debating the ideals that sparked this whole thing. But you see, Mami Tomoe and Sayaka Miki decided that, rather than keep it to words they'd rather start harassing anyone who had power that didn't believe like they did! Don't misunderstand. You reap what you sow! And it was you Chevaliers that aimed the first weapon."

Her free hand points straight at Nanoha. Her eye is once more gazing hard into the much younger girl.

"It's all spiraled out of control. I don't necessarily agree with Eri-chan and the rest of my beloved Shepherds all the time, but this has long ago stopped being about ideals. I fight with the Shepherds for two things. The world at large, and for the love I have for my new Family."

A slow nod. "My lovely Pluto-chan...you really are a brave, good girl. But war isn't about right or wrong. It is a jumbled mess of circumstances. Sorry you got caught up in all this." A shrug. Her free hand flicks out from her coat.

A knife, coated in roses, is tossed right for Nanoha.

"But I don't care why you did it! No one will EVER steal my family away from me again! Not a Chevalier, or not a youma!" She howls, fury overtaking her! The knife comes fast, and worse, with a steady magical arm behind it.

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Rose on the Wind on Nanoha Takamachi.
COMBAT: Nanoha Takamachi fails to dodge Kasagami Araki's Rose on the Wind, taking 13 Fatigue damage!  Kasagami Araki is Psyched!

<Pose Tracker> Nanoha Takamachi [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

Nanoha was new to the conflict between the Chevaliers and Shepherds but she was not unaware of the dangers. The situation that she finds herself in though is not how she expected things to happen. "I am not here to defend what the Chevaliers did or did not do before but..."

The weapon is pointed at her and Nanoha realizes that no amount of words was going to end this without a fight. In response, her weapon is drawn, the staff raised defensively in front of her, words ringing out,<Ready Master!>

"Fighting for what you love. I know how that feels." Nanoha frowns, thinking how she would willingly put herself in harms way for Fate, for her other closest friends, for her family. All those people comprised the most important aspects of her life. Just like what Fate had done for so long.

Nanoha doesn't close the distance, knowing that it would put her at a disadvantage but the blade of roses still comes close enough that her Flier Fin move doesn't keep the blade from making it's mark and the young girl winces from the impact.

"I don't want to steal anything! We don't want to make things worse but just like you..." She continues moving up in the air, hovering just above the ground. "... I will defend everything and everyone that I care about." Raising Heart changes forms. "Even if that means I have to fight you to prove how serious I am!"

"Raising Heart, help me out please!" <Divine Shooter Ready!> From the weapon comes a pink beam of magical energy from just above Kasagami. Nanoha uses what guidance she can muster up to help it along.

In the back of her mind, the girl is worried that her magical energy isn't back to normal. She is worried that something really bad would happen and she would disappoint Fate, Lindy and all the others that have helped her along the way. At the same time, she is filled with resolve and ready to do what is necessary to prove herself.

COMBAT: Nanoha Takamachi has used Divine Shooter on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki fails to brace Nanoha Takamachi's Divine Shooter, taking 25 Fatigue damage!

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

Nanoha surprises, all at once. She won't defend the Chevaliers like some zealot. She calls upon Raising Heart, and Kasagami's eye narrows. Not with hatred, but with interest. What kind of magical girl is Nanoha? Curiosity in seeing yet another exotic sort of magical warrior fills the Duelist's heart. The love of battle burns inside of her, like many who seek World Revolution.

Perhaps few more than Kasagami.

A whistle, as Nanoha flits back, on her feet if not unscathed. Her grin grows wider. Her attention is fully on the girl before her, and her protests to love, and the desire to defend. Fingers snap towards Nanoha.

"Such valiance! Such bravery! Such passion for those you love! You'd stand before me, with all of your love for your friends and family, and show me your power!?" It's enough that Kasagami sheds a trio of tears before that pink laser falls towards her.

A single steel eye looks up just in time, and she dodges to the side just in time to avoid a perfect hit. She's instead forced to bring up her right arm to protect her body. Part of her coat flies upwards, but that laser eats through it. Her right armguard smashes into the laser, and with a furious howl she parries aside the majority of Nanoha's laser. She skids to the side.

A full third of her coat is left in scraps, and her right arm's glove and cloth is blasted away down to the shoulder. Even the roof of the distillery has a hole in it where Kasagami once was. Long-scarred flesh is exposed to the world, and Kasagami waves off the smoke from the impact.

"You don't hold back, either. Hey! Nanoha! When this war blows over, let's be friends! Because even if you're my enemy, even if I want to smash you into the ground right now...the kind of person that will fight anyone for the sake of those they care for is a knight I'll take into my court any day!"

Her coat is shed from her back, and taking her sword in both hands, she raises it high! "My name is Kasagami Araki! For the sake of this corrupted, rotten world, I shall become a King! Let me show you my resolve, for my Sisters, and for my love!"

Her foot presses forward, and stone shatters as she leaps on high. Spinning about in the air, she falls. In a blurr, launches herself off a brief foothold of crimson roses at her boots, putting the full force of her sword's heft and her size to use as she tears down for the duo of Nanoha and Raising Heart!

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Falling Petals Cut The Soul on Nanoha Takamachi.
COMBAT: Nanoha Takamachi fails to counter Kasagami Araki's Falling Petals Cut The Soul, taking 48 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Nanoha Takamachi's counterattack, Flash Move, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Kasagami Araki!

<Pose Tracker> Nanoha Takamachi [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

Nanoha is surprised by Kasagami's reactions to her words. At least it wasn't like fighting the Wolkenritter who seemed to have very little to say. The reaction gets a smile from the girl. "Nothing else matters..." It's a point that she is dedicated to. "But you care too...I can see that and I can hear it in your words."

The pink beams don't exactly make the move she is expecting but she is not deterred. Before she can prepare for any kind of defense against whatever Kasagami is going to throw at her, the words about being friends causes her to smile even though she knows it's not enough to make things end here. There was too much determination on both their parts.

"You said not to hold back right?" Nanoha hovers closeby. "It's not right that we have to fight to prove loyalties is it Kasa-chan?" There is a slight look of disappointment in her eyes and they sparkle slightly in the dim moonlight. "But this feeling...I don't want to see anyone get hurt."

Kasagami's mantra and then the subsequent stone breaking, causes Nanoha to start to brace. <Be careful my Master!> The warning comes too late and as she tries to avoid the damage, the second guessing, costs her a lot and she takes the full impact of the sword and power of the attack.

Her barrier jacket does little to help her withstand the force as she is cut down and falls backwards through the air onto the broken ground. Pieces of stone surround her and the pain is something she cannot hide. Raising Heart falls to the ground beside her and Nanoha is left breathless, holding her chest. It's a different kind of pain from the magical draining but it still makes it's mark.

In her mind, Nanoha wonders if she can really do this. It's not right, given her previous battles, that she should have doubts but in her state, they linger. She turns towards Kasagami, the resolve remains and she picks up Raising Heart, for the moment not seeing any noticeable damage.

"Raising Heart, please." Her voice shakes a little as she regains momentum. <It's okay Master!> Ever the voice of encouragement, the weapon opens and a cartridge pops out, smoke and steam streams outwards before the area around it is drawn in.

Trying to take advantage of Kasagami's close proximity, a shield forms around her and as she moves upwards and away from her opponent, the shield shoots out magical energy in an attempt to give her an upper hand. The girl knows her strengths and weaknesses and being that close wasn't going to help her win this.

COMBAT: Nanoha Takamachi has used Protection: Barrier Burst on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki perfectly dodges Nanoha Takamachi's Protection: Barrier Burst, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!
Kasagami Araki's Fade ability activates!  Kasagami Araki's Flash ability activates!

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

There's a brief laugh that's all bitterness in response to the optimism that Nanoha holds. Is this how Utena started out? The mere thought of Nanoha being brought so low makes Kasagami's heart ache. Or Steven. Or Ami. Or so many magical warriors she's met.

All because they didn't realize that the world was horrid and corrupt. That it needed to be changed right out from it's center. That a Powerful King needed to control everything.

A smile. "In an ideal world, I'd be sharing cake and a coffee-cream float with you, Nanoha. But there's the rub. Chevaliers fight with the ideals of the world I see in one eye. The one I behold your beautiful loyalty to your friends, no matter what I think about them. I think we've both well proven our love for our friends, haven't we?" A wink.

"A demon's flame stole one of my eyes, and half my body with it. We Shepherds are the reality of this impure world. I don't want anyone to be hurt, to die, that's true. My other eye beholds a hope for the future, that impure can be made pure. That is why I shall be King. The one, through Power and Power alone, shall change everything!" She lands from her strike, and looks over to Nanoha. She breathes out hard, sweat and a flutter of red-black hair accentuating the area behind her. Nanoha, even now, isn't someone to be underestimated.

That shield forms, and with both good and bad eyes widening, both boots shove herself away. Knees tuck up to avoid Nanoha's spell, and twin calves are revealed as magic flares. Kasagami lands in a roll to avoid the power of that shattering barrier, and then she lets out a sigh.

A sword slides back into it's sheath. It's drawn past her, a good four inches of metal then drawn out. Kasagami's gaze is back again on Nanoha. And then she is gone on a wind of roses.

It's a single leap towards Nanoha. Pure, straight, and without pause. Despite the length of her blade, the iaijutsu strike is perfect. Aimed right for the girl, and her 'weapon' in hand.

"But an impure world calls for sacrifices, until the very idea of impurity is destroyed!

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Rose Flash on Nanoha Takamachi.
COMBAT: Nanoha Takamachi narrowly braces Kasagami Araki's Rose Flash, taking 15 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Kasagami Araki is
Psyched!  Nanoha Takamachi's Block ability activates!

<Pose Tracker> Nanoha Takamachi [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

Nanoha shakes her head at Kasagami. "Nothing is ideal is it though? None of this..." She gestures with her weapon, "... is what I want but at the same time the power I have, that we have is I guess both helpful and also not so helpful right?" Nanoha's words come out quickly as she speaks.

"What is that power going to do though Kasa-chan? Who is it going to help? I didn't ask for this power and I wouldn't say that I wanted it but I guess that's where we differ." Whether or not Nanoha understands everything, she is trying to make sense of the ideals they both hold. "Still, as you already said, I know the other values you have. It's not just about the power right?" Nanoha shrugs a little.

Her barrier doesn't do much but it does give the young mage a little breathing room. It's only a brief reprieve as Nanoha quickly sees the sword withdrawn again and the girl leaps towards her. Rather than try and move, she prepares to take the force of the attack with Raising Heart's defenses activating at the last second.

The decision costs her but at the same time she withstands some of the force. Nanoha quickly finds herself back on the ground though with the sword nearly slicing through her barrier jacket again. Kasagami told her to not hold back but at the same time, Nanoha knows she's failing quickly.

Even through the winces of pain she retorts, "That doesn't make sense! Do you even realize or care what that sacrifice would mean?" There is enough understanding of the Shepherds that it makes her sad to consider what they were planning on doing.

"I don't know if what you expect to happen will actually bring the outcome you desire but let's finish this!" The young girl stands up, her Barrier Jacket slightly torn and showing signs of the damage she has endured tonight. "Raising Heart. Let's go!" The girl flies up once again and as she does this, the weapon gathers energy and she points it directly at Kasagami.

<Divine Buster Ready!> With a burst of pink energy, an orb forms at the end of the weapon. It seems to be gathering energy as Nanoha braces herself and the laser shoots outwards, illuminating the air in large, bright pink flash of power.

COMBAT: Nanoha Takamachi has used Divine Buster! on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki fails to brace Nanoha Takamachi's Divine Buster!, taking 52 Fatigue damage!  Kasagami Araki is Quipped!
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Kasagami's eyes glitter with tears, but the smoke and din of lasers and blade leave her the smallest opportunity to clear them. It might not even work. Her laughter is open, oddly honest. It feels good to fight with someone so passionate. They might be enemies, but it's a far sight from her fellow Duelist's anguish and selfish desperation.

Fury hides so many lies of her own making.

"Don't be an idiot! Power is everything in this world! Whatever values I hold, it won't make a single difference if I'm too weak!"

Hotaru. Teeth grit.

"I'm not the person you should ask that question. Go ask a Puella Magi about sacrifice! I'll happily finish this though!"

And then pink envelopes her, smashing down upon the glorious figure that is Kasagami Araki.

A black-and-red figure is pushed down, until a boot hits a water tower's end upon this ruined distrillery. With a scream, her massive blade slices through the rest of Divine Buster with half of her body smoking from the impact. The weight of Nanoha's magic gets redirected, and lances through the ground beside the building with a monumental act of power and effort from Kasagami. She stumbles to one side, and draws herself up with deep breaths. The water tower is rent into an accordion beneath her.

Her body shivers. The nerves in her right arm shiver vaguely to life, and then she gasps out with a cry. And finally, Kasagami grins.

"No one will know the outcome of a war until it's over! Nanoha! ...You're a worthy adversary. Consider our grudge done. So then!" That demon's grin lurks on her face suddenly. For all her pain, all the struggling, Kasagami is enjoying it!

"Let's end this!"

And then she's leaping one last time. Her blade sweeps low underneath Nanoha. But it's a faint. Suddenly, her steel-toed boot aims right for the girl's head!

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Kassie Kick on Nanoha Takamachi.
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa transforms into Barrier Jacket Assault!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa covers Nanoha Takamachi for Kasagami Araki's attack, Kassie Kick, taking it upon herself instead!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa narrowly braces Kasagami Araki's Kassie Kick, taking 20 Fatigue damage!  Fate Testarossa's Block ability
activates!  Fate Testarossa's Parry ability activates!

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

What one might see first in their periphery is a flash of gold. The first thing one might hear is the last vestiges of a piston pounding and a chime before a synthetic baritone announces. <Defenser - Plus!> In a rustle of dark cape fabric, there's another girl there. Her blonde twintails awash with the concentric fields of her auto-protection spells. The haft of Bardiche catching the boot.

Her face is alit with determination as she's ground backwards by the superior strength of the duelist.

Spidery-web like cracks form upon the golden circles, but they still sustain against the force of Kasagami's strong foot, before twirling to break their lock in a manner that forces Kasagami off of her at least even if she can't attack back. She pants with effort. Now close enough to Nanoha that the other girl could grab onto her cape if she so chose.

"That's enough." She declares finally, quietly. Scarlet eyes levelled upon the Crimson Duelist and King. With a flourish of Bardiche, she ends with the axe-head pointing at Kasagami.

"Whether you would have won or lost - I don't care. I'm ending this before my best friend gets hurt."

She gives a momentary glance towards Nanoha behind her, there's no disappointment there. Simply relief.

Her eyes then face back forwards. Her resolve returns in that moment, "I don't know why you fight on the other side of this war. Why you do the things you do and act as you do- or perhaps you'll feel that I can't understand you, became I'm too young to understand. So I'll only ask you this. Do you truly believe your course is the correct one? Are you completely certain of this? That those who you support, and what you do is the right path?"

Lowering Bardiche's axe-head so that it no longer is threatening, there's sadness instead deep within those eyes, "Then look at me and know I once thought the same. That there was no doubt whatsoever in my mind. That certainty - those intentions that I thought were good betrayed me so utterly that now I must simply live with the mistakes I've made and the wrong I've done."

That sadness fades away into a fierce determination once more, "I don't know why you fight, but I do. I fight so you won't have to live with the same regret."

<Pose Tracker> Nanoha Takamachi [Infinity Institute (4)] has posed.

The young girl isn't sure what to say anymore to Kasagami. The battle, the time, everything was weighing on her energy. Even as her last attack hits, she can't feel anything but sadness. Part of her wishes she had never came up here but it seems to her now that this confrontation was bound to happen anyway. What it will mean for their future remains to be seen but she wanted answers and an explanation and this seemed to be the only way she was going to get it and it was more than she expected to hear.

As Kasagami isn't backing down, Nanoha prepares to fight till the end, whatever that meant. But then there is a flash of yellow. She expects it was a trick of the lighting but then the familiar sound of Bardiche and Nanoha looks up to see Fate arrive, just as Kasagami's blade and then the boot come towards her.

Fate intervenes and Nanoha cries out. "Feito- no!!!! This is my battle!" She doesn't question how Fate knew where she was or what was going on for now. Despite her words, Nanoha is relieved to see her friend here and she moves to stand beside Fate, listening to Fate's words.

Nanoha cannot help but smile, feeling some of her energy, albeit a small portion returning, "It doesn't matter what happens here. Nothing changes right?" She asks towards Kasagami and Fate both and shrugs, leaning into Fate more. There is exhaustion in her eyes and even if she would have fought till the end, she cannot hide how much the battle had worn on her. "You are a formidable opponent Kasagami Araki but I think we are done here."

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

It's the chime that catches Kassie, all at the last second. The cape flap, and then Bardiche snagging her boot. Her good eye widens. Then finally, recognition dawns.

"Wh...where did...!?" Comes her surprise, followed swiftly by her leg flexing. The pair of Fate and Kasagami meet and clash against one another that their lock forces them apart. Kasagami backflips back in her would-be feint, and lands as one.

The end of her sheath lands, and arrests her fall as knees and boots dig in. Her right foot kicks up, and then back! She's only a foot away from being shoved off the old distillery they'd began their brawl on.

A sigh. Her sword slings across Kasagami's shoulders.

"Mmm. Those all could be reasons, maybe! Fine. I'll answer!"

Smirk. "I'm supporting the Family I have right now. I neither fully agree, or disagree with their morals. I say that this world is corrupt, and shall devour right or wrong equally. Only a King with power over everything can change that natural law." She trembles with her own beliefs, laid bare to the two magical girls before her.

And then her gaze to fate softens. "...I won't judge your actions as a human too much! I'm no Saint either! I don't hold any doubt that my own path to Kingship will change the world itself! But call it a devil's or an angel's path to my ideal world!? My only desire is the result!"

One last deep sigh. "...Seriously though, Gym Partner? Getting in the way of a warrior's fight? Lucky for you she's not mad!" For all her animosity, Kasagami is grinning. Steel meets wood, and then, she motions back towards the inner depths of Tokyo with a single hand.

"Nanoha...eh...she's mostly right. When I become this world's King, I shall have places in nobility for both of you, Fate-chan, Nanoha-chan! My anger for you striking my dear Pluto-chan is faded. And as for you Fate-chan?"

A nod. "You intend to save people from suffering. Beautiful. You both may leave."

The roses and highlights fades from Kasagami's hair and body. She dips into a medieval duelist's bow.

She is looking far too happy, if exhausted.

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

"Nanoha- your battles are my battles." That's what Fate says gently to her. She understands, because it's competitive, "I told you that if you were ever in trouble, I'd definitely be there to protect you."

Fate puts an arm around Nanoha, supporting her upright in her exhaustion. And then she listens to Kasagami, she doesn't interrupt.

She doesn't say anything, though when she says she's supporting her family. She doesn't say anything about being her gym partner or her becoming the world's king. She doesn't feel she ought to interrupt someone else's feelings like that. However at the end- "If you're supporting your family - I can understand that. Though there's something else I should tell you before I go."

She says this quietly, "There was a time when I was an agent of Dark Fall for my mother's sake. Everything I did, all the things I did - I did for her, or at least that's what I told myself. Selfishly I hoped she'd go back to being the kind mother who she used to be. I didn't understand her at all- and every time she did something that... made me doubt, I ignored it, justified it. And so noone was more shocked than I was when she tried to kill me."

A moment later, "There's noone who will tell you it's wrong to support your family - but if you truly love them the bravest thing you can do is have the courage to tell them they're wrong, before it's too late."