2017-11-24 - It's In The Cards

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It's In The Cards

A dimensional quake rocks Tokyo, and thanks to the vigilance (and tech support) of the mooncats, Sailor Senshi are the first to arrive at ground zero: Hotaru Tomoe's house, where Chibi-Usa is over to play.


Hotaru Tomoe, Usagi Tsukino, Makoto Kino, Ami Mizuno, Chibi-Usa Tsukino


The Tomoe Residence/Multidimensional Chaos World

OOC - IC Date:

11-24-2017 - 03-07-2015

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

Somewhere below Tokyo...

In a dark place...

A dark man waits...

...with a dark purpose.

"Hmmm... yes, I think that will do nicely."

"Professor~! <3" Mimete is capable of vocalizing heart emojis, and does so constantly. "My, is that your latest daimon recipe?"

"Yes... this will be a powerful champion."

"But -- isn't it your week to bring snacks to tea? And they're about to start?"

"Hahahaha... you're right, I have to do some shopping. Hahahhaa... hahahahaaa... HAHAHAHAHA!!"

He exits hastily into the shadows. Left alone with the Daimon Oven, Mimete frowns at the deck of cards inside, then crams in every other game she can find. Even the Twister box. That damnable game. She never wins.

"That's MUCH better! I'm sure it'll make a more potent daimon!"

The oven switches on.

It vibrates.

Then it rumbles.

Then it shakes like a washing machine on the spin cycle with an offset load of towels.

Mimete sweatdrops and flees before the inevitable explosion. It doesn't just rattle the mansion upstairs above the lab -- it rattles the foundations of reality itself.



Earthquakes are all too common in Japan, so it isn't a huge deal when everything starts to move. It's over after a few scary seconds, and there will be a note on the nightly news about the unexpectedly high-magnitude.

But everyone in the magical girl community feels it on a much more profound level. There's a terrible sense of wrongness -- of something being torn, something jaggedly ripped.

There is a wound in the world. And it's getting worse.



Hotaru and Chibi-Usa, who were in the middle of a fierce game of Concentration, stare at each other after the shaking stops. They are in each other's arms, Hotaru curled protectively over Chibi-Usa, her back a slender shield against the possibility of falling books from the many shelves nearby.

And, through the windows of Hotaru's bedroom, a red sun rises through one while a green moon shines down through the other.



Luna and Artemis burst in on whatever Usagi, Makoto, Minako and Ami are doing.

"It's terrible!"

"Absolutely terrible!"

"Didn't you feel that shaking?"

"It showed up on the Lunar Computer! It turns out it was a Dimensional Quake... from right underneath the Tomoe residence!"

"And we only have an hour until the rift destabilizes and the house is lost forever!"

"And Chibi-Usa-chan went over to Hotaru-chan's house to play today!"

"Hurry, hurry, hurry! No, there's no time to get Rei-chan! Go now, go right now!"

OOC: You are invited to figure out whatever Usagi, Makoto, Minako and Ami were doing. ;)

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M27yK34I2d4

Have a glimpse at game night at the Hikawa Shrine.

"Right hand - yellow!"

Usagi Tsukino already had left foot on blue, right on red - left hand on green and her right... all the way on blue. In a clumsy contortion of limbs. This was the first round she hadn't fallen over before all four limbs found a position on the floor.

But now twisted beneath the far more athletic Mako - she had a problem. She couldn't exactly move her right hand to yellow without turning herself over - a position sure to make her fall beneath Mako.

Raising her right hand up and rebalancing her weight - she slowly starts to move it over just slightly.

And presses it down on a blonde twintail, her palm pressing down on its filaments.

"Right hand - yellow." She repeats proudly, thinking she's managed to pull it off! Having no idea this isn't allowed within the rules.

And that's when the earth starts to shake.


After extricating themselves from their position post Earthquake, a mess of Rei's bookshelves laying around her she's down in an apologetic dogeza - thinking that her transgression against the rules of twister had angered the shrine gods.

She's still a little tearful from the mild bumps and bruises inflicted by the tremors, "I'm sorryyyy!" She wails, "I really didn't know that that was against the rules! Honest! Kami-sama have mercy on me..."

She was about to get up to help pick up the room when suddenly - the mooncats burst in, "Of course we felt it!" Slowly waving her arms in a crossing X and uncross in a gesticulation, "And it definitely wasn't my fault-"

Usagi gets a moment of relief in confirmation that wasn't her until, "Eh-? The Tomoe residence- Hotaru-chan!? And Chibi-Usa-chan was there too?"

She felt this sickening sensation of dread settling in her stomach. Straightening up, she looks to the others first - before quietly saying, far more serious, "Let's go."

With a hand to her compact, she lifts a hand and - "Moon Cosmic Power - Make Up!"

COMBAT: Usagi Tsukino transforms into Sailor Moon!
<Pose Tracker> Makoto Kino [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

When it comes to Twister, Makoto's got both an advantage and a disadvantage. Her advantage: she's taller than all of her friends, and one of if not the more athletic ones, so her limbs are longer and so she has better reach. Her disadvantage? She's also... ahem... *bigger* than her friends. In certain places. So as Usagi as struggling to reach that yellow spot, Makoto is thinking that this is getting kind of... embarrassing...

"U-um, Usagi-chan," she murmurs, red-faced as her friend struggles to figure out how to reach a spot, "if you don't think you can make it, it's okay if you--oh..." And Usagi presses a hand on her hair. That's... actually pretty clever? Rei will *never* let it slide, but--

And then the earthquake happens, and *nobody* stays up after all.

Makoto sweatdrops at Usagi's over-apologies as she helps push bookcases back upright and put books back in them (in totally the wrong order, Makoto, pay attention). "Usagi-chan, I know there was something... *wrong* about that earthquake, but I don't think it was because of Twister--"

The moon cats burst in and explain the situation. Makoto's on her feet in an instance. "Eh!? But why would that...?!" She trails off, thinking; then she looks at the others. "Right behind you," she tells Usagi, pulling out her transformation pen.

She, too, raises her hand, and calls, "Jupiter Star Power - Make Up!"

COMBAT: Makoto Kino transforms into Sailor Jupiter!
<Pose Tracker> Ami Mizuno [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

It seems like any other Saturday for the Sailor Guardians. With no school, there is time to just relax, even for the most diligent of students. Her choice of relaxation at the moment is a book. Not a romance or thriller kind of book either but rather a one on the history of rulers in Japan.

Sitting near a window to bask in the natural sunlight, Ami quickly turns pages, every once in awhile stating a random interesting fact to the other senshi. However, it's clear their minds are elsewhere with their game of Twister which she poltely declined to participate in. Ami doesn't mind watching though. She even offers helpful advice to them. The game is quickly interrupted when the room begins to move and shake and Ami quickly is on her feet, just dodging some of the falling manga.

The books and other scattered pieces of Rei's room are less a concern to her than Usagi and Makoto. "Usagi-chan, Mako-chan... are you guys okay?" There is a feeling she cannot explain and she moves towards the other senshi as the moon cats come flying into the room. concern in their voices.

Ami nods towards them. "What was that Luna? It felt different." Ami places a hand out to help the girls up, shaking her her at Usagi. "Of course it wasn't your fault Usagi-chan!"

"Chibi-usa was with Hotaru, Luna??" Her eyes widen and she nods in agreement at the others. "Right! Let's go! They are in danger!"

Before they are even out of the room, Ami follows suit, <Mercury Star Power - Make up!>

COMBAT: Ami Mizuno transforms into Sailor Mercury!
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

It's not a short distance from the top of Sendai Hill to the Tomoe Residence, but it feels that way leaping across rooftops as Sailor Senshi. It's more magical by moonlight, but even in midday the way that everything blurs into soft streamers of color is both exhilerating and beautiful.

In no time at all -- aided by knowing where they're going, whereas most investigators have nothing to go on but the steady tug of their own hearts, which is good enough but not terribly direct -- they find themselves in front of Hotaru's house.

They aren't the only ones there.

A man with soft white hair is sitting on the porch. It looks like he may have just fallen; a plastic bag has spilled its contents, various konbini snacks, all over the place. His shoulders are hunched with some combination of fury, frustration or fear.

With his back to them, and his face in shadow, it's impossible to know which.

It's easy to guess who he is, though. Given where he is, and what he's wearing -- a white lab coat -- he's obviously Souichi Tomoe, brilliant genius founder of Infinity Institute, and also Hotaru's beloved papa.

The mansion itself -- and it is that, enormous by any standards, much less Tokyo's -- looks as normal as it ever does from the outside. Which is to say white and austere, with the curtains mostly drawn, exuding wealth and pleasantness but not any true approachability.

Sailor Mercury can see more than the others, between her Mercury Goggle and her computer. This house may look ordinarily extraordinary, but in reality it's extraordinarily extraordinary. The dimensions twist and swirl in her enhanced sight, rending themselves and each other asunder with every new knot they create.

The effect seems especially focused on the door -- clearly it cannot be opened from this side. They'll have to find another way to enter... or warp in directly.

And the mooncats were right; things are terribly unstable here. If something isn't done, the house -- and its occupants -- will be lost forever, within the hour.

"Ughhh," says Souichi, holding his head.

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

The urgency lends her speed as she leaps. Though it's not a short distance - it feels that way. And in the mid-day sun a pair of moonboots tap tap down on the walkway.


Calls Sailor Moon to the man on the porch -

"You wouldn't happen to have seen two little girls here recently?"

Says Sailor Moon as she considers the manse, putting two fingers at her chin as she regards it. "Mercury-chan - is this really the place? It looks - pretty normal? Fancy even! It definitely doesn't look like a dimensional... thing happened here."

Whatever is going on she seems a little less sensitive to the sense of distortion and wrongness though maybe she's just easily distracted as she returns to talking to the professor - "Say would you happen to be Hotaru-chan's papa?"

She of course doesn't know him by sight at all, she's just assuming since he's here, at this home in particular. Raising up a finger, "Well don't you worry because we're definitely going to find her and her friend..."

For just a moment her eyes linger on the snacks, as if she was going to request them but - tapping upon her forehead once and twice, "No no... no time to waste. Jupiter-chan! Maybe you could just break down the door?"

Chibi-Usa Tsukino arrives from Tokyo.

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

The blur of the city in mid-day might be beautiful and exhilerating--and it's not that Sailor Jupiter doesn't notice it at all--but there's something else she's focusing on, so she can't really enjoy it. Chibiusa and Hotaru are both counting on them to rescue them. Those poor girls; they've already got people literally trying to kill them, and some weird earthquake has to happen right under Hotaru's own home? Can't the universe just leave them alone?

Soon enough, the Sailor Senshi arrive on-site at the Tomoe residence. Prof. Tomoe seems to have been lucky enough to have been out when the earthquake hit, judging by his bag full of konbini snacks--maybe he was fetching them for his daughter and her friend? What a nice father!--but if he's just loitering outside his own home, there must be something wrong.

That doesn't stop Sailor Jupiter from standing at her full height, arms folded over her chest, and declaring, "Don't worry--the Sailor Senshi are here to help!"

And then Sailor Moon just asks this guy if he's Hotaru's papa, and... that's a good point, Jupiter doesn't actually know him by sight either, she just completely assumed with him holding a konbini bag and staring at the front door... It's not like konbinis do delivery! ... ...do they?

'Maybe you could just break down the door?'

Jupiter snaps back to reality and punches a fist into her open hand. "Leave it to me!" she declares, and rounds on the door to do exactly that. M-Maybe Mercury ought to cut in right around now?

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

By the time the senshi reach the house, Mercury has already employed her visor with a touch of a finger and her hands work quickly on her small computer. Even after they arrive, she is busy looking for what caused the tremors and there is a growing feeling of concern within her.

The man outside the house, holds his head and Ami is concerned but she allows the others to talk to him. She knows that it has to be Hotaru's dad. He seems to be okay for now and her thoughts are for Hotaru and Chibi-Usa's safety.

She can see that things beyond the door are not what they seem. "Usagi-chan, Mako-chan... this is the place but we need to work quickly to get on the other side." A pause, she hesitates a moment before adding, "We have limited time to make it work. One hour and then..." Her eyes hood. "...they will be lost."

Her eyes widen at Usagi telling Jupiter to break the door down and she quickly runs to Makoto and places herself in front of the girls. "No! If you break the door down with force, you are going to cause them to be lost forever in the alternate dimension! I know it looks normal but it's dangerous! We have to be careful." Breaking the balance between time and space would definitely be bad.

As she looks to the other senshi, Ami explains, "We need to open the door from the other side but there's only one way we can safely do that..." She looks over to Usagi. "We have to use Sailor Teleport."

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

The mysterious man freezes when he's approached. He mumbles something to himself, but maybe it's just the shock of discovering that you've been locked out of your own house and also your daughter is in terrible danger. In any event, after a silence just long enough to be a bit awkward -- it could be a Tomoe family trait -- he clambers to his feet and turns around.

The sunlight spills across his face, which is handsome and kind, and also weird, because one of the lenses of his spectacles is opaque with some sort of interlocking metal plates.


At any rate, he doesn't smile -- his other eye is a little too wild with worry for that -- but he does nod, vigorously.

"Yes! Please save my daughter!" he begs, and stands well aside as the girls get into position to teleport.

Vast power rises up around them, and then, in a rainbow swirl, they're gone...

...and he's laughing.

"How ironic... hahhahaha... HAHAHAHAHAA!!"


The Sailor Teleport is always the experience of going through the city times one million. It's overwhelming, overflowing, a transcendent experience. It is becoming light, and then flesh anew. It is wonderful. It is scary.

It is... wet?

It is wet.

The group has teleported directly into a river! High above is a night sky with unfamiliar stars. To either side: distant, but not impossibly distant, rocky shore. There's no time to gaze, though, because roaring through the air is the promise of an impending waterfall!!

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

Moon is more than ready to watch Jupiter show that door whose boss when suddenly Mercury advises otherwise - "Oh!" She doesn't even question it - if Mercury is saying it she fully believes she must be correct. Instead she just looks relieved she stopped them from making a grievous mistake. "Wow that could have been really close - aha - sorry Jupiter-chan!"

When she advises the Sailor Teleport though, Moon looks surprised. After all they'd only done it with all five of them. But since Mercury says they can she believes that too instantly.

Joining hands - they invoke it, an aura of pink arising around her in particular.

Before they flow through the dimensions as light, as energy - it's an experience that leaves her tingling from the wonders of creation.

And then she's wet.

Breaching the surface of the river, she flails splashing with glove covered hands, "GYAGH-PUH-PUH!" And spits out water - "Mercury-chan this can't be the right place! Who has a river in their house!?"

Half-doggy paddling half treading water, she looks left, looks right - and then does what she always does in these scenarios.

She swims over to Jupiter and puts an arm around her to cling.

Mercury is probably the better swimmer comparatively speaking, but Jupiter's strength and stamina might allow her to handle Moon a little better - so there is actual reasoning behind it!

Her soggy twintails float in the water like jellyfish tendrils as she hears a roar overhead, "Wait - what's that sound...?" Given how ominous it sounds, she clings a bit harder to Jupiter.

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

"One hour?! Then we've gotta work fast!" Jupiter declares--but before she can attempt to bust down the door, Mercury stops her. She gasps at the news, turning pale. "Then how...?!" A Sailor Teleport. Jupiter focuses, her color returning to normal, and nods decisively. "All right. Let's get this done as fast as we can!" As she holds hands with her friends, she gives Prof. Tomoe a confident smile. "Don't worry--we'll bring her and her friend back, safe and sound!"

And then they're gone, traveling through the fabric of time-space-reality or something or another. Not actually through time? Don't ask Jupiter to understand it, it just works and that's good enough for her. Except for the part where they land in a river and get drenched and hurtle towards a waterfall.

True, Sailor Jupiter isn't the swift, graceful swimmer Mercury is, but she's got enough strength and stamina to at least know *how* to swim. She surfaces with a gasp, looking around for her friends. "But there's a dimensional warp or something, right?!" she calls to Sailor Moon. "There could be *anything* inside here! *Including* a river! ...and a waterfall!!" she adds, looking forward.

This is when Sailor Moon grabs a hold of her. Jupiter... well, she can't really complain. "Hold on tight, Sailor Moon!" she says. "Sailor Mercury! We've got to swim for shore! Leave Sailor Moon to me, and lead the way!" Water is, after all, her element. Once Mercury leads, Jupiter will follow with all of her considerable strength.

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

The senshi teleporting experience is something that Ami, despite her intellect, has trouble really putting into words. It is one of those things that unless one experiences it they won't truly know what it's like. It's not a bothersome experience though and as they end up inside, she is very aware of another sensation. This one not so pleasant.

She is wet. Not only that but apparently they landed directly in a river.

It's a confusing few moments but Ami nods at Usagi even as she wades in the water, "No. This is the right place." There is unwavering certainty in her voice. As to why it's a river, she is not an expert on time and space and different realities. She definitely has a preference for more concrete things.

While Usagi clings to Jupiter, Ami looks back at the waterfall she is trying to avoid and the river that seems to be working against them. "I can handle this." Shecalls to Jupiter and Sailor Moon.

Near the waterfall she calls out, "Saboa Spray Freezing! The ice crystals sparkle from the outside and they form quicker than one would expect and eventually the waterfall is completely solid.

As she moves away, the water of the river begins to turn colder before slowing. The current keeps it from freezing completely but it's enough to allow the senshi to move towards the shore quicker and before getting completely frozen in place.

Ami helps as she can and once on the shore there is only a second before she can sense the dimension changing again. "Stay close together!" Ami moves into the group, "Something is shifting..." She cannot say exactly where they will end up but at least she knows it's happening.

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> No Easy Way Out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOXaPE6gklI

The group has barely made it to shore when, as Mercury predicts, the whole world wavers. It's more of a long, slow fade than an abrupt switch; there's a moment, half-heartbeat length, where everything is surrounded by something both like and unlike fog. It really only shares the 'visual obstruction' in common -- it isn't cold or wet, just... strangely empty.

And then the world comes back and it isn't a stone-laden river anymore. It's a vast, dense jungle, simultaneously claustrophobic and worrisomely huge. And it's full of abrupt bogs, sudden cliffs, and giant snakes...


After that it's a mountaintop; harsh winds that could tear an unwary girl straight off the peaks to fall down towards the ravines below, and pouring, torrential rains that makes every step treacherous.


A few steps later, and steam rises from everyone's clothes and hair; they're in a desert of endless black dunes, each of which glimmers with a billion billion sparkles. It's beautiful, but the mirages that shimmer here are dangerous, hiding quicksand!

OOC: It's time for a montage -- ~montage~ -- each of you are invited to help save the day against one of these challenges! You can
work out amongst yourselves which one you want to tackle in each pose!

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

There are fewer places safer in the universe than in Sailor Jupiter's presence, Moon knows this so well. "I'm not going anywhere!"

She says as she clings tightly around her mid-riff and back - allowing Mercury to do her thing - and suddenly there's a frozen waterfall - "That's our Mercury! You did it!"

She sounds so proud of her - and also proud of herself just for being in the presence of such a competent genius.

But then the cold hits her and her teeth start to chatter - "It's f-freezing!" Suddenly letting go of Jupiter with just one arm, she aids in one arm scooping of the water to try to reach shore faster.

And upon reaching the blessed comfort of shore - it fades into strange emptiness. Only to -

"It's so hooootttttt!" She complains, wiping sweat off her brow, hunched over.

Well at least she isn't complaining about the cold anymore...

Sailor Moon's clumsiness turns out to be the worst possible trait for combatting this place quickly because soon enough she -

"IYEEEEEEEEE!" Almost runs face first into a giant anaconda. It's coiled lengths reaching for her - as she takes off into a sprint, head down, arms waving at her side -

And trips face-first into a putrid bog.

Flailingly she manages to get her mud-covered head right side up at least as she tries to keep herself from sinking - "HOTARU-CHAN! I HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT YOU LIVING HERE!"


The winds have managed to blow dry all but the most stubborn mud off her, but now she's shivering again, arms crossed and shaking from winds that feel nigh as harsh as D-Point.

"HO-TA-RU-CHAN!" Moon calls out, "CHI-BI-US-A-CHAN!"

The wind changes to rain - and at least she's cleaner after it as mud slathers off her.

At least until the wind shifts again and she stumbles a way down slick rock.

Before catching herself on the edge of a cliff with a hand. Her opposite hand is held to her transformation pen, in this case, the only safety implement she feels she needs to survive this - "I almost diiiiieddd..." She declares as she's helped back up.

"...so we're really going to have to have a talk with her papa after this..."


And then Moon is miserably hot again, and feverish. "Waterrr.... waterrr..." She declares in complaint to the sheer heat of this place. Her tongue dry, her whole being looking sandblasted.

Panting - "Mercury... if you get me some water... I promise I'll study really hard in high school..."

And that's the exact moment she vanishes up to her odango and the tips of her fingers in quicksand - soundlessly.

Though with Sailor Moon the soundless part is a dead giveaway.

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

"Oh!" Jupiter utters, eyes widening as Mercury uses her magic to freeze the waterfall. "I never even thought of that! That's our Mercury-chan for you!" A grin and a wink. The water freezing over definitely makes the flow of the river slow and make it easier to swim out--though they've still got to make it fast lest they get frozen over with it! Besides, now the water's freezing cold, and they don't have any towels to dry off with or fire to warm up with... They'll have to hope that their natural resilience as Sailor Senshi protects them from catching sick.

That's the least of their worries, though, when the world wobbles the moment they make it ashore. Jupiter tenses, keeping Sailor Moon close, but this just isn't a problem you can punch your way through. First they've got to make it through jungles, mountainstops, and deserts.

The jungle, at least, is no problem for Jupiter: just as the river is Mercury's element, the rainforest is Jupiter's, and she climbs and swings through the thick trees like she'd been born and raised there. Except Sailor Moon trips and runs into an anaconda (which appears to want her buns) and then trips into a bog.

"Sailor Moon!!" she calls. "Don't worry, I've got you!" She snaps a vine in two with a jerk of her mighty arms, then swings down on the remainin vine to grab her by the arm and pull her up.

She smells terrible.

"U-uh, Mercury... maybe you could help Sailor Moon wash off...?" Jupiter suggests once they're both in the clear.

Next come the windy mountaintops. It's hard to keep one's footing here, and Jupiter attempts to move to the outside of the ledge so there's someone to catch Sailor Moon if she trips again--except she trips before she can manage that. "SAILOR MOON!" she shouts, hurrying to the edge... but she's managed to catch herself. She breathes a sigh of relief, then shares a glance with Mercury. "*She* almost died," she murmurs dryly. "One day, she's going to be the death of *us*, you know that?"

...Again, she means.


Sorry, Usagi. You've put Makoto at her wits' ends!!

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

The short transition to another dimension and the feelings that it evokes are quickly overtaken by awareness of the next area coming into being. It's almost dizzying to be thrust into a different area that quickly but at least they are no longer in cold water.

However, the new threats are of no comfort. "A jungle?" Mercury looks out across the trees and it feels like it never ends but here she cannot sense they are any closer to reaching Hotaru and Chibi-Usa, even if she knows they're here, so they have to keep moving.

The trees themselves are not a problem aside from the fact that they seem to swallow them up and she can handle the heat okay. What is a problem though is the huge snake they come upon. "Sailor Moon don't make any su-" And it's too late, all she sees is the familiar twintails blowing as she runs. Mercury takes off after her, hoping the snake doesn't follow. For just a moment, she loses sight of Sailor Moon until she it directly upon the bog and she steps into the mud, avoiding actually falling into it.

"Sailor Moon, where are you?" She calls out just as the girl turns over in the mud and Jupiter helps her out. "You really shouldn't run off like that." Despite her admonishing, she does remember who she's talking to after all.

Mercury doesn't have time to help her clean off because the scenery changes again. She squints her eyes, shielding them with her hand as she tries to look across the windy and rainy landscape. They keep moving but it's difficult and even Mercury is feeling fatigued by all the changes in their perceptions.

Then, as if some force in the universe, even this strange one, was directing Sailor Moon into danger, she falls off the cliff. Mercury runs to her and Jupiter, her heart racing even as she sees she has caught herself. "Sailor Moon..." Mercury helps her get back up, collapsing on the ground. She can only nod her head at Jupiter while holding a hand over her heart. "Right." Then she looks at Sailor Moon, "Please stop running off without us. We can't afford to lose you okay? We still need to find Hotaru and Chibi-Usa!"

Again things change and once again the alternate dimension tries to kill Sailor Moon. Jupiter cries out and Mercury rushes to Sailor Moon but she can't tell her to relax. However, she also gets the familiar sensation of things changing again.

"Jupiter, it's going to shift again. Don't worry okay?" Mercury smiles, "I can tell we're getting closer to Hotaru and Chibi-Usa." She still keeps an eye on the quicksand despite knowing things are changing again.

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


Hotaru gazes mournfully at the visage of death in her palm.

Her voice is soft, solemn. Gentle.

"It looks like the Joker really likes me... the ace of hearts always runs away."

Okay, also slightly hyperbolic.

Hotaru has just lost her tenth consecutive game of Go Fish to her best friend. She is uncannily bad at it, perhaps because she possesses neither of the attributes necessary for success: luck and a good read on other people. Chibi-Usa is both lucky and good-naturedly clever with cards; her victory is as assured as an avalanche's fall down a hill.

Kneeling on the pink-carpeted floor of her bedroom, she looks up from her card, across the scattered pile, at Chibi-Usa. There's a tiny smile on her lips, but underneath it there's a sincere, innocent sorrow. She isn't jealous of her friend's mad card skills, but sadly accepting of her own bad luck and bad judgement.



Hotaru runs, all speed, Chibi-Usa's hand in hers, because they have just been driven from her bedroom by a lion who walked in through the front window. This is after they found snakes in her desk and fish swimming through her drawers. Also, the front window is normally on the second floor.

They ran through the door and instead of the upstairs hallway, they're on a beach. The ocean is gorgeous, and smells sweet instead of salty--

--they keep on for a while, not knowing what else to do, and wind up in a vast desert come the next dimensional shift. Hotaru's white face turns bright red with sunstroke in no time at all, and she's about to collapse from the heat when--

--brrrr, now it's a snowstorm! Hotaru clings tightly to Chibi-Usa, for warmth and to help keep her smaller friend warm, both. "S-so cold," she whimpers, uncontrollable chattering knocking her teeth together--



It feels like hours of wandering through strange, dangerous landscapes, only narrowly evading doom with every step, but it's only been half of one. Hotaru's eyes are half-lidded now, dull with weariness as she keeps putting one slippered foot in front of the other. There's no strength in this act, no endurance, just a sort of inexorable willpower that keeps her going, every time she glances at Chibi-Usa.

She has to get her out of here. Chibi-Usa can't, she just can't die in a place like this. She deserves better. They have to keep going.

Even though there's a chasm in their w--

Her eyes fly open as the ground opens up beneath Chibi-Usa's feet. As the only light in her light goes plunging downwards into endless darkness.

The idea that Hotaru can save her is an unfunny joke -- especially to Hotaru herself. She knows she's weak, and already driven past her limits by all the adventure she dreamed of in book-driven flights of fancy. All the adventure Kaori -- and Papa, in more honest moments -- told her she could never have.

Nothing about this ordeal was ever fun, but Chibi-Usa losing her life over this curse that follows her everywhere and has now settled into the bones of the house itself? That is unacceptable. That will not be allowed.


The scream erupts from her throat without her realizing it. She's halfway over the cliff herself before she even notices she's moved. Adrenaline roars through her, its own kind of magic and one she so rarely encounters in any capacity but her own seizures.

Chibi-Usa's hand is in hers -- they clasp together with an audible smack as raw desperation creates a tiny miracle. Frantically Hotaru adds her second hand to the pile, and heaves with all her might, both arms afire.

It isn't enough.

"I won't let you go!" she shrieks. If only her muscles would answer the passion in her voice, in her heart, which feels like it's going to give out at any moment. With every strain of her hips, her knees, she teeters more and more precariously upon the cliff's edge.

"I've -- got -- you --"

The first thing to fall are her frantic, frightened tears, which vanish into the abyss.

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


Gentle, sweet Hotaru Tomoe has Chibi-Usa Tsukino sitting across the cards from her, casual in her utter victory at Go Fish so far. How did she get so good? Well, that's another story. It's been a delightful time just being here, but good friendship brings with it a certain comfort, and, well...

The daughter of Usagi Tsukino and Mamoru Chiba knows better than perhaps anyone on this planet when someone is being entirely too extra. Chibi-Usa signs, rolling her eyes immediately at Hotaru's incredible, gentle statement. "Hotaru-chaaan," she says, and shakes her head. "Jeez! Let's just play Concentration instead." An entirely goodnatured followup with bright eyes, "You always win that one!" She loves Hotaru entirely too much to sit by while that sorrow takes over their play space.



While Chibi-Usa likes to try to put on a brave face, that lion was shocking, and the combination of shouting and running has even her trying to figure out how to breathe in the meantime. Under other circumstances the fish swimming through drawers might even be cool, but under these, it only makes their flight more hectic. The beach...

...The beach isn't so bad in and of itself, but it's lonely to be stuck somewhere all of a sudden, who knows where. For her part, the pink-haired girl sticks close to Hotaru, keeps hold of her hand, focused more on her even than on the beautiful beach... whyever it's sweet. She doesn't know; it makes her anxious, and for that she stands up a little straighter, her pink hair puffy enough to be like a banner here.

The desert is awful, and Chibi-Usa isn't used to this kind of environment at all; she forces herself to keep going on willpower. "C-come on, Hotaru-chan, it's... it's not that much farther," she hopes, she wills, ready to catch the other girl, when--

Her teeth chatter abrubtly and she hugs Hotaru just as close. It's so, so cold, but Hotaru says it first and Chibi-Usa holds her closer despite her smaller height with a little whimper she can't entirely get rid of. "I-It's okay," she says. She looks around for somewhere warmer--


It must be hours. Chibi-Usa has more endurance than Hotaru, but this level of danger for this long is hard even for a hardier girl, though she does her best to power through brightly the way she looks a little wilted. ...At least she has the energy to watch each step of Hotaru's, keep her hand close. She doesn't even think of leaving Hotaru here, doesn't even have to come up with a reason it would be awful because it never occurs to her. They keep going, over and over, and almost, almost, Chibi-Usa is something like the opposite of comfortable with being on the run for no reason. Except--

"Aaaah!" She cries out as she starts tumbling down, balance completely gone, and the surprise takes up so much space that it's ahrd to find the fear... And even that is banished briefly by Hotaru's scream, by the way she takes her hand again with that sound. "H-Hotaru-chan!" she calls, and looks up at her best friend, her wonderful friend, who... who she knows isn't strong enough to pick her up. Hotaru says she won't let her go but--What if--

"H-Hotaru-chan," she says, and the fear she feels isn't only for her. "You--"

Hotaru does have her... But Hotaru's tears aren't the last thing to fall. No, after them quickly is Hotaru herself, unable to hold on while Chibi-Usa can't get enough purchase to even try to help; they both fall, beginning to tumble downwards, together, into the abyss.

Chibi-Usa at least tries to use those hands on her own to pull Hotaru closer by instinct, but as they tumble down--

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

The dimensions are about to shift again? Jupiter hadn't even noticed! She breathes a sigh of relief. "Thank god you're around, Mercury--I guess cooler heads really do prevail!" She pauses. "That wasn't a pun, I didn't mean it to be a pun, don't tell Venus--"


It's good that Jupiter anticipated this, thanks to Mercury; she tenses, bracing herself for whatever happens next and to help Sailor Moon out of the pit. However, once they make it through, the first thing her eyes land on is Hotaru and Chibiusa on a cliffside, just in time for them to go over. Jupiter's eyes widen, and she leaves Moon to Mercury because there's no time. She breaks into a sprint, powerful thighs driving her rapidly forward.

"CHIBIUSA-CHAN! HOTARU-CHAN!" she roars, one arm stretching out. She makes it to the edge of the cliff in time for her to miss grabbing them... and so she drives herself off the cliff and after them, certain in her ability to catch them and in her friends to have her back and help the three of them not fall into the abyss.

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

On the other side of the next change, Mercury's perceptions come into focus just in time to see Chibi-Usa and Hotaru falling. Before she can react, Jupiter is already moving and she follows quickly behind her. "We can save them! We have to work together!"

Jupiter suddenly jumps into the chasm and Mercury knows she only has a quick second before they are going to be lost completely in the void. She quickly creates a flow of water that moves in a way such that it almost rolls at an angle, leaving a solid ramp of ice in it's wake below the falling girls.

She looks over to Sailor Moon, "I think you know what to do Sailor Moon!" Mercury smiles at her and even offers a thumbs ups.

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

You know when Sailor Moon has driven Jupiter to her wit's end that she's really exhausted the universe's patience. Between that and Mercury's gentle admonishment - and well the quicksand, you know she's having a bad day.(Thank goodness she was up to her odangos in sand else she would have laughed at the puns).

But then the sand fades and she's on the edge of a cliff. THIS TIME IT IS TOTALLY UNFAIR! As she almost trips right off. Flailing her arms she manages to rebalance herself just in time - to see Hotaru - holding onto Chibs desperately - fall straight into the void.

And she's about to jump right in - disguise pen in hand. It won't save her but it would at least slow her fall.

But Jupiter dives in first!

And Moon panics - blurting out the first thing that comes to mind - "MOON POWER! TURN ME INTO A BEAUTIFUL MOUNTAIN CLIMBER!"

Sparkles change her Sailor Fuku into an outdoorsy vest overlaying a pink shirt, khaki shorts, and hiking boots. She's wearing a wide-brimmed sable fedora with a pink band that makes her look a little like Indiana Jones(No Trilby here). Her belt is laden with all sorts of gear, but more importantly is the object slung over her shoulder -

Taking hold of the coiled rope, she slings it down towards Jupiter with the uncanny aim of someone who hurls tiaras for a living - "Yosh! JUPITER CATCH!"

In the same motion she kneels down, claiming a hammer and a piton, driving the spike into the edge of the cliffside and twisting her end of the rope around it, before tugging it back to give her leverage to pull them back up. "Definitely!" Wait does she really Mercury? "Over here Mercury! Be ready to pull them up!"

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

"Iiiiii've GOT YOU!" Jupiter cries, arms circling around Hotaru and Chibiusa, then clutching them safely to her chest. B-but who's got her?! Fortunately, Sailor Moon throws a rope down after her, and Sailor Mercury creates an ice ramp below. Jupiter twist herself around by kicking along the cliff side, and lands with a solid CRUNCH on the ice ramp. It means they're stopped--but it was only a makeshift ramp, already splintering under the force of the impact, so they can't just use it to climb or skate back up. Jupiter hitches the two girls in her arms up as Moon's rope falls in front of her.

"Grab hold of my neck, quick!" she commands. "I'll climb us all back out of here!" The moment the two of them do so and are secure, Jupiter grabs that rope--and just in time; the ice ramp finally finishes cracking and falls down into the abyss. Jupiter, Chibiusa, and Hotaru dangle for a couple of seconds.

Then Jupiter starts climbing up, hand over fist, and pulling all three up. She even swings her legs up to use the cliff side to climb against.

"That was a close one, huh?" she says, winking at the girls, as they slowly but inevitably climb back to safety. "Good thing we found you two just in time!" And, once the three of them *are* back to safety, with Jupiter sure to push Hotaru and Chibiusa up top ahead of her, it'll be time for a GREAT BIG GROUP HUG.

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

Tears were already shed, and the hug is a somewhat wet one. Hotaru's face is buried in Sailor Jupiter's shoulder for at least ninety seconds, and she succumbs to the tenderness of all the senshi without awkwardness or complaint. Having her life saved is a good ice-breaker for a child who is normally ill-prepared to receive a hug, and saving Chibi-Usa's life in front of her, even better.

Once they've all separated for some air, it transpires that the younger of the two girls has fainted from relief. Hotaru cradles Chibi-Usa's head on her knees, carefully keeping her from getting any dirtier on the hard ground of this wasteland than they already were. At least she can rest comfortably.

Hotaru, though, looks at the sky -- it's black, then white with lightning, though there is no thunder, the rules are different in this otherworld -- and then at their rescuers. And then down at herself. At her shaking hands, their skin practically translucent from exhaustion.

She takes a deep, quivering breath and lets it out, then gazes back up again at the older girls. Sailor Senshi are many things to her, from nightmare figures to deeper daydreams, but these, here and now, are the authority figures. The responsible adults.

"Please," she says in a whisper, so as not to disturb her resting best friend. "Please save Chibi-Usa. I'm slow and weak, I know that it will be harder to save her, and yourselves, if you have to take me with you. And it's okay..."

Her violet gaze is heartbreakingly earnest.

"...It's okay if something happens to me. Someone like me should never have been born. So -- please!"

She ducks her head in as close to a full submission as she can get while holding her friend. It's clear that, otherwise, she'd be on her hands and knees in supplication. In desperate prayer.

"Please leave me behind! You have to... you have to save her no matter what happens to me!"

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

Falling happens quickly. ...Everything else happens quickly too. At the same time, it's agonizingly slow; Chibi-Usa couldn't really say for sure what it felt like in those instants, as she was falling and she couldn't even hear her rescuers approaching at first. Distantly, she hears voices, names, but--

The water, beneath. The talk of Sailor Moon, her heroine. Magic words, and--And falling straight into Sailor Jupiter's arms, holding Hotaru and around Jupiter's neck with shock as she's instructed. She can see all of them suddenly, and it seems strange that they're here, that they came to rescue them at all after all of that.

Her breathing is heavy though; she's a little dizzy, smiling uncertainly and then, when they're all on the ground, swooning quickly, to be gntly held there by Hotaru. ...In unconsciousness Chibi-Usa cuts a peaceful figure, a little worse for wear after her exprerience in this strange place but somehow right, where she is. ...Moreso it's almost strange, that rightness despite the fact that she can't even hear Hotaru's desperate plea. ...The answer that would be so obvious on her lips doesn't come, accordingly. Just small breathing for a small girl.

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

When the line goes taut. She's already ready. Right now the Mountain Climber outfit is so much as a lovely overlay to her Sailor Fuku because her arms certainly at least retain the strength of Sailor Moon. Digging her heels in, she holds the rope taut and - "One - two - heave!"

Then tugging with all of her might, she shifts the rope in her hands. "One - two - heave!"

Between Jupiter climbing and Moon and Mercury pulling - the three make it back up in short order.

Her outfit sparkles, then dissolves once it's no longer needed, changing her back into Sailor Moon, she offers a moment's celebration, "It might have been if not for you - Good work!"

Before her attention turns to both the girls. The sight of unconscious Chibi-Usa worries her. But she thinks she's sure she's still breathing, "I'm just glad we made it in time... we were really worried you know!" She adds in her own hug around the pair. The three Senshi forming what looks like a protective circle in this hug.

"But I figured we'd make it... because I knew the two of you would really look out for each other."

Despite still being covered with the grit of the journey, despite being exhausted and weary and battered and bruised... she still manages to beam this bright smile at the pair of them.

But once they've parted and she starts looking around warily as if waiting for the world to shift - or merely looking for an exit - she hears Hotaru say that. And her eyes slowly widen in dumbfounded disbelief as she looks at the girl's violet gaze.

And her expression goes to a touch of horror - before softening her the feelings presented, "Hotaru-chan. You know I can't agree with that."

Why? Is it something ideological? Something that someone might fight a war over?

No. It's something far more simple - as she allows herself to smile at her again, "Because all of us really like you Hotaru-chan. Not a single one of us thinks you shouldn't have been born."

Taking a single breath, she pauses, "So please don't think of yourself as a burden. You're not to us. We'll save both of you - if you let us."

There's a quiet pause, succinct in the fervent feelings in this quick silence before she adds, "I promise."

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

Jupiter climbs to the top with the kidlets in tow. She laughs as she shares a hug with Sailor Moon and Mercury. "Thank you both! I knew I could count on you two for back-up!" she says warmly.

But then white lightning crashes noiselessly above. Jupiter frowns up at the sky as the group eventually breaks from their group hug. This place is getting eerier by the second... They need to get out of here, and fast--especially since Chibiusa just passed out. The poor kid must have been overwhelmed by this place. But... then Hotaru suggests they ought to abandon her? That she shouldn't have been born in the first place?

"Don't say that! Don't even think it! Because it's not true!" Jupiter argues, just as earnest. "If you'd never been born, you never would've become friends with Chibiusa-chan--and you must know how happy she is to have you!" Her demeanor gentles, something of heartbreak and an understanding that shouldn't have to be in her green eyes. "I know there's things in your life that must make you think that way. I know there've been things in my life that... made me feel that way sometimes, too. So I can promise you, Hotaru-chan: it's not true."

Jupiter nods to Sailor Moon as she speaks as well, conveying true and sincere feelings with rare eloquence. "It's just as Sailor Moon says: we're *all* happy you're alive. We protect you because we *want* to protect you. So there's no way we'll leave you behind." She pauses. She knows that Hotaru is earnest and self-sacrificing, traits that Jupiter herself shares. So what's the best way to make sure she understands? "...And if that doesn't convince you, if we did, Chibiusa-chan would never stop crying. You don't want that any more than we do--" She winks, smiling encouragingly. "Right?"

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

Mercury gathers all her power and strength, digging her heels into the ground to help Sailor Moon bring the three girls back up. Once everyone is back onto solid ground, Sailor Mercury collapses in relief. Even though they are still trapped in this dimension she is grateful to be back with everyone and to know that, for now, they are all safely together.

She, of course, joins in the hugging. "Hotaru-chan, thank goodness you guys are alright. We were so worried!" Turning to her fellow senshi, "Jupiter, Sailor Moon... you guys were amazing." She may just hug the two of them a little tighter before finally releasing them.

As they begin to realize things aren't over yet, Mercury looks down at the now unconscious Chibi-Usa with concern even though it's clear she's still breathing. "She must be completely exhausted."

Then Mercury hears Hotaru's words and there is concern in her eyes as she looks to her, shaking her head before echoing the sentiment of the other senshi. The words she offers are soft and gentle, "Don't say things like that Hotaru-chan! We will find the exit. Together." A pause. "So don't worry okay? We are friends right?" She offers a warm, comforting smile. "And you are important to Chibiusa-chan... and to us and we want you here so we are not leaving anyone behind."

Standing up, Sailor Mercury looks at her computer for seconds before a feeling comes over her and she knows that they are close to being able to find the exit. "Stay together guys. It's shifting again but if this is right we should be back in the house." With those words, Mercury braces herself for the next change as best as she can.

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

Hotaru's tears overflow again, spilling silently down her cheeks. Her head was already bowed, and Chibi-Usa is threatened by salty drowning. That can't be allowed, and she quickly dashes them away with the back of her hand, left, right, sniff in the rest.

"All right," she murmurs softly, struggling to form the words around the huge lump in her throat. Is she agreeing with their evaluation of her worth? Their fears that it would hurt Chibi-Usa as well? Their belief in themselves, that they can save both girls and let everyone emerge intact?

Well, two out of three ain't bad, right?

It's already been well established that Hotaru can't lift Chibi-Usa, so she remands her custody to Jupiter, and shakily gets to her feet. Her own frame is almost more than she can carry right now, but she manages somehow, and takes a step forward, and--

--the world changes again.

As Mercury promised, they're back in the Tomoe mansion, and there's a brief hint of normality, of the beautiful wooden staircase and the front hall's chandelier, and that massive front door...

...until the door swings open.

Then the whole room plunges into darkness, and laughter echoes out through the chamber they find themselves in as the lights come back up.

Bright, blaring, neon lights. Lights that suit this unholy cross between an arcade and a casino. Its mistress -- the mistress of all their suffering -- awaits them.

She has the face of the Queen of Spades, and a body composed of playing pieces -- everything from a chess pawn to the rings from a tossing game and much else besides. Everything Mimete jammed into that accursed oven. Even to the untrained eyes of the senshi, this daimon seems... a little different. A little weird. A little... busy, in its design.

She laughs.


Before anyone can moondust her, she cuts them off with a wave of her beautifully manicured hand.

"I'M AGAINST VIOLENCE!" She grins. "But I'm not UNFAIR. I LOVE gambling. So you have two choices: you can keep trying to look for the exit on your own in what little time you have left," indeed, there is hardly any, "Or any one of you can defeat me in the game of YOUR choice. Win, and I'll send you all home! But if you all lose..."

Her grin gets ugly.

"You stay, and we keep playing games, forever."

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

There's only one thing worse than hearing that from Hotaru's lips - it's hearing that from Jupiter's lips that she's felt that way too. Her eyes blink back what feels like tears at the sting of the one- two gut punch.

"Jupiter-chan..." There's so much she wants to say then. She definitely remembers the rumors of Makoto Kino before she met her. Of the delinquent girl that was all trouble. It's no wonder she felt that way in the past.

Inhaling once through her nostrils, she can at least comfort herself with the thought that Jupiter must not feel that way often anymore - at least she hopes not.

Her eyes pass over Chibi-Usa's still form as she thinks of how devastated she'd be if she lost Hotaru.

She has to close her eyes for a moment, before turning to give Mercury a smile as she reaffirms how important she is to them. And then - putting her pen away, she takes a grip on the Spiral Moon Heart Rod as she braces herself for the next shift.

"Alright." And then she vows quietly, "There's nothing this house could throw at us now that could tear us apart now."

Moon please don't challenge the universe like that.

And then suddenly they're back in the house -

- and a door opens -

- and there's a playing card face sitting right there -

And Moon recoils - "Eugh!"

- before she reveals her true form.

And then she's a little dumbfounded by it - before she points the Spiral Moon Heart Rod and -

"Against violence? You're like a pacifist or something?"

Moon doesn't really get it - most Youma and Daimons liked nothing better than beating them up - but then she remembers the weird Eggplant one on Halloween.

"Wait a game!?!"

Sailor Moon is terrible at games. There's only one game she's good at and she can't even think of it right now as it's not one she regularly plays.

Hint: It involves a frisbee.

Suddenly she's doing this frantic dance in place as she's put on the spot, toe tapping in that one spot, balled up fists.

What about the Sailor V game?

She's bad at that!

Card games?

She's got the worst poker face!

"Twister!" She blurts out - as it's the first thing on her mind.

The other Senshi might have sighed.


As Sailor Moon - Usagi is admittedly better at this game - and her determination to win for the others is helping. She's got better balance, she's got the magical girl skills to pay the bills. Right now she's got her right hand on blue, her left hand on red.

Her right foot on yellow and her left on green.

She's inverted right now, her back arched some. U-Ikasaman though has a clear advantage, being larger of limb, and stretched over Moon but the little Senshi is still holding her own.

The spinner for Moon's turn comes up - "Left Foot - Blue!" She calls, before wiggling her foot over. Stretching. Stretching. Stretching, before finally putting her foot down on the tipsy edge of blue. "Yatta!" She raspberries.

The Daimon mutters - "Cheeky brat." The spinner goes again on it's own - before the Daimon grins, "Right hand - red!"

As the creature lifts up her hand, and rises over Moon - and passes over her face - she opens that hand - releasing this thin cloud of black powder.

Moon's nose twitches immediately as the Daimon puts down her hand almost daintly on red, "Right hand - red!"

Moon though is now suffering under the influence of the pepper - "Ah-" Her whole body quivers, "-AH-" And wiggles, "-AH-" Her hands and feet both shift positions a little but remain where they are, "-AHHH!" Her head is held back, and then slowly she seems to work down the sneeze.

The Daimon looks decidedly disappointed as Moon seems to exert some self-control until - "AHCHOO!" The tremor it sends through her body causes her to lose her footing and she falls -

Instantly ending up trapped in a translucent playing card - "OH COME ON! SNEEZING TOTALLY DESERVES A DO-OVER!" She whines loudly - but the Daimon just laughs.

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

Well, that didn't go as well as hoped... Not only was Hotaru not that cheered, but Sailor Moon is brought down. Jupiter decides to leave it be at that; as long as Hotaru has the will to pick up and keep going, that's enough. Picking up Chibiusa at Hotaru's request, Jupiter nods to her fellow Sailor Senshi, especially at Mercury when she reports there's going to be one more shift, back to the Tomoe Manor.

"But," she says aloud, patting Chibiusa's back, "it can't possibly be that easy..." Ominous silence. "...Right?"

The daimon that awaits them agrees, apparently, given her laughter and her refusal for violence (Jupiter makes a face) and her suggestion that they all gamble for their freedom. Jupiter looks around at the others after finding a seat for Chibiusa to rest upon. "We don't have a lot of time. I'm sure one of us will get lucky," she says, all confidence.


"HEY! I saw that, you cheater!!" Jupiter roars at U-Ikusaman. "You put pepper in Sailor Moon's face! You *made* her sneeze!"

"OOHOHOHO! I don't know what you're talking about, dear!" the daimon chortles. "But if you're so incensed, you could always play me next, dear!"

"I will, and I'll win!" Jupiter declares, punching a fist into her palm. "And I know exactly what I'm best at: punching games!!"

"E-er, I'm sure I said already I'm against violence--"

Jupiter rolls her eyes. "Fine. Then strength tester! Swing a hammer and make the bell ring!"

"OHOHO! Just like at the festival, hm? Fine, I'm game!"

A moment later, Jupiter's face to face with a giant strength tester, designed with a fierce and ferocious youma on it. She hefts the hammer she's given--it's decently heavy at about 50 kilos, she'd wager--and sizes up the machine. "I'll get us out of here," she swears. "You'll see!" She hefts the hammer high above her head--SWINGS it hard down--DING! The bell at the time chimes loud at clear. Jupiter turns and struts over to the daimon, who's gawking at the bell, with a smirk. "Beat that!" she says, handing the hammer over to her.

In an instant, the daimon recovers her confidence. "Well, if you insist," she purrs. U-Ikusaman strides up to the strength tester, heaves the hammer up with open, significant effort, teeters with it wavering up top--brings it down--discreetly presses a button on the shaft of the hammer--and the hammer CRUSHES the bottom, sending the tester button shooting up and high into the air, knocking the bell straight off with a loud CLANNNGGGG.

Jupiter's jaw drops as a card, the Queen of Diamonds, forms around her. "OH COME ON!!" she protests. "You had to have been cheating again!!"

"OOOHOHOHOHO! Sounds like someone's a sore loser to me!" U-Ikusaman laughs. "Well then, well then, who's our next loserly--I mean, *lovely* contestant?!"

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

In the house again, Sailor Mercury feels a sense of relief, although it's only momentary as she already knows it's not over yet and the room quickly grows dark before exploding in lights. The combination of games are visible on the youma as she speaks. Mercury's main focus is on the chess pieces and she quietly whispers, "What a waste..."

The senshi prepare to attack until she talks about being non-violent and Mercury takes a step backward. "What do you want then?" It doesn't take her long to get an answer. Mercury looks to the others, "We are running out of time quickly. I don't think we have a choice."

Mercury sighs at Sailor Moon's choice of game but nevertheless cheers her on. That is... until she sneezes and falls over and in short order ends up in the playing card. "It's okay Sailor Moon. We're not done yet!"

Then, it's Jupiter's turn and her choice of game makes Mercury grin. A battle of strength is always good. "You can beat her Jupiter!" She has little doubt but the daimon cheats. She can see the button being pushed. "Hey! That's..." But it's too late, Jupiter is stuck now too. and Mercury's frustration grows even if it doesn't show.

At the same time, she is determined not to be stuck here forever and to finish things. It's been a long day and she is ready to rest and get Hotaru and Chibi-Usa to safety.

When her turn comes up, Mercury points to a deck of cards. "So how about Poker?" She sits down and the daimon smiles. "Oho, a real gambler here huh? Of course, of course." She waves her hands dismissively after shuffling. "It doesn't really matter. I won't lose."

Mercury is undeterred and with every card she discards, her focus is on her opponent, watching every move, every twitch, every subtle hint while she calculates in her mind.

Finally, Mercury calls her bluff and lays her cards down, "Full House! I win so now you have to keep your promise." Suddenly, the daimon laughs a deep, horse laugh. "Oh dear, I think you better recheck your hand."

When Mercury looks down, the cards have changed and Mercury frowns, "Hey! You're not playing fair!"

U-Ikasaman shrugs and Mercury quickly finds herself stuck inside a clear playing card, just like the other senshi.

She looks to Hotaru and Chibi-Usa. "It's up to you guys now. You can do it!" Despite her predicament, Mercury smiles at the two girls. "I believe in you!"

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

The world has changed once again, but Chibi-Usa awakens in one alike; she's here, of course, but she's here in a nice seat, placed by Sailor Jupiter, and the first thing she sees is Hotaru as she blinks open her red eyes. ..Only then does she see the blaring lights, the strange looks, the card... The... card. She can hear her talking about gambling as she blinks around to see the Senshi, to look at Hotaru, and it's... well. It's games.

"Hotaru-chan?" she confirms, and starts to sit up, looking around. So it is that the first one she sees working is... Sailor Moon. Sailor Moon, and the game of Twister. she watches, she sees that determination, she watches the interplay, but--

It is not her mysterious heroine's day, apparently. "A-aw, Sailor Moon," Chibi-Usa says, with a frown. Pepper... Well, Jupiter is next, and Jupiter as always is awesome. And yet... She, too, is soon trapped in a card. "Sailor Jupiter...!"

But there is ever-cool Sailor Mercury, with a real adult game like poker. ...It suits her, Chibi-Usa thinks. ...But the competitive spirit in her, even as she's slowly scooted closer to Hotaru to take her hand, is intend upon the exchange, upon Mercury's face and upon the exchange, until--

"Mercury!" She says, dismayed, and then frowns at U-Iksaman. "Rude," she declares, frowning hard. "...But fine. You think you're that good..."

Chibi-Usa's chin lifts. Her eyes seem almost to glint. She has her hands back, and she's placed them on her hips, somehow looking down her nose at a figure taller than she is. "Hmph. Come on, Hotaru-chan... I choose Go Fish!!" She may have her hand back, but she's clearly with her partner here.

So she takes a seat across from the daimon, caaareful, careful. Pairs are the name of the game, and Chibi-Usa's quick wit sees her remembering well... And more than once she says the words. When it comes time to take one of her cards though, she has a rainbow of reactions. Dismay, obvious; utter careless confidence. The turns run around, until...

She looks dreadfully, awfully nervous at this exchange. Oh, she hides it well enough, but it slips through anyway, little by little, as the daimon... takes...

"Heh heh heh," she remarks. "I'll choose... This one!!"

She quickly has a Joker staring straight at her, and Chibi-Usa's worried hesitation turns to a huge, triumphant grin. "HA!" she counters. "Looooser! We win!" She sticks her tongue out. Classy, princess.

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

Hotaru isn't quite the cheerleader that Chibi-Usa is, but she watches the Sailor Senshi play, and lose to cheating, with a sort of wide-eyed, sparkling belief in them that is not so much disappointed by the outcome as increasingly disgusted with the underhanded tactics being used against them.

But she flashes Chibi-Usa an alarmed look when she gets volunteered into her Nemesis Game against the youma, with the stakes on the line all of their fates. Fortunately, she plays it pretty cool during the game itself, keeping up with the cards, and all that's left in her hand, once her best friend wins, is the Ace of Spades. If she's drenched in sweat from the effort already, well, it doesn't matter now.

She lets it flutter to the table to take Chibi-Usa's hand joyously. "You did it!" she breathes. There was never any question, really. It's for the best that they chose her friend's favorite game, rather than trusting in Hotaru for the crucial win here.

"No," announces U-Ikasaman smugly, her grin piercing the balloon of Hotaru's happiness and relief in one fell swoop. "You both have to win. And then I'll let you all go."

Hotaru is too tired to even get angry. She just swallows, resigned to the fear that settles around her like a cloak of chains, and picks her card back up again. It doesn't matter that her opponent saw it -- there are only two other cards left.

The Ace of Hearts -- and the Joker.

"Ohohoho--! Here, I'll shuffle them and put them on the table. It'll truly be left to chance. Just pick your card and choose your fate, dear!"

Hotaru looks worriedly at Chibi-Usa. She seems about three shades paler than she was before (of 'blind luck' and 'reading people' she prefers the latter weakness to the former), and her hands are shaking. Still, after a moment she starts reaching out towards one of the cards, following some uncertain instinct that rose within her.

U-Ikasaman smiles rather than grins this time. The expression is far too sweet. "Oh dear," she murmurs, glancing at the back of the marked Joker that Hotaru hasn't chosen. "Are you sure that's the card you want? I mean... this really is an important decision. It's best to be sure."

Hotaru's hand freezes in midair, above the cards. She's frozen in general. Her fierce concentration is fading to exhaustion, to confusion.

"Maybe," U-Ikasaman suggests, "You'd be better off with the other card?"

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

"There is no way you beat Jupiter-chan fairly at strength!"

Moon could totally believe in her own failure, but not Jupiter's in her own realm.


"No way Mercury-chan totally had that! You cheated!"

Moon doesn't know enough about Poker to know how badly she cheated. But she sure knows those cards changed.

Moon squirms all over the place now. If only she could reach her tiara! Or even point her rod in the right direction! She wants to blast this Daimon right now for cheating her friends out their victory.


"Hotaru-chan! Chibi-Usa-chan! You can do it!"

She gives it her all trying to cheer them on. "You've got this! You're both real card sharks!" Fortunately she's not Minako so she accidentally gets it right before leaning over to ask Mercury, "That's what they call it right?"

And then - "Aha! Way to go Chibi-Usa-chan! You totally showed her whose boss!" Normally she'd be more against Chibi-Usa's rudeness - but today it's not directed at her so she's totally in support. "In your face!" She raspberries the Daimon - "Now let us go!"

But the no destroys that - "What!? That's not fair!"

Squirming and struggling for a few seconds, she sags as she realizes how useless it is. Her eyes returning to the match. Fortunately this game is one she in fact knows...

So she understands the dilemma Hotaru faces. Just as she understands how the Daimon is trying to psyche her out.

Her teeth clench for a while, afraid to move, afraid to even breathe. She sees that Hotaru is frozen in indecision.

She doesn't know about her bad luck from before.

She certainly doesn't know everything Hotaru is feeling.

But she can gues some from what she said earlier.

Hotaru doesn't believe she should have been born - and now all their lives were riding on this singular decision.

Sailor Moon tries her best to relax herself, then says aloud, "Pick whichever one you feel is right Hotaru-chan!"

There's something gentle upon her expreession, a little emotional, "I mess up all the time. And sometimes things get really hard because I do... terrible even..."

Tokyo Tower, D-Point they loom large in her mind. But even simple test failures are there - "But I have friends who show me all the time that even if I fail - they'll still like me. And even when I mess up they have confidence in me." Her eyes move over to Mercury and Jupiter in turn, before back towards Hotaru.

She tries to gently nod, which only gathers a twitch of her chin, "So go ahead. Whatever happens. We'll still like you. So have a little confidence in yourself - because we have a lot in you. Okay?"

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

The worst part about this is that no matter how hard Jupiter struggles, she just can't break free of this card. Eventually, she stops trying. She understands the rules of the games well enough to know that someone has to win--decisively, beyond the daimon's ability to cheat even the slightest--which means they've got to be vigilant even after they should have won. Case in point: Mercury, whose cards change after she glances away. "CHEATER! CHEEEEATEERRRRRR," Jupiter roars, incensed not ust at the blatant cheating, which is MORE than bad enough, but that she has the gall to use in on Mercury. Jupiter grimaces at her friend when she's sealed in a card; she knows her pain well. Still, they have to look forward, so-- "Go, Chibiusa-chan, Hotaru-chan! You two show that cheating daimon who the real winner is around here!!"

The rounds run, and soon it's nearing the end, the daimon acquiring the Joker card. But the daimon's the true sore loser to the end, shuffling the cards and declaring they *both* have to win if they want to take everyone home. Hotaru is left frozen, uncertain of which card to pick.

"It's okay! You can do it, Hotaru-chan!" she encourages her. She nods over to her friend when Sailor Moon cites her, sharing a smile too with Mercury. "It's like Sailor Moon says--we all support each other. So we're supporting you. Don't listen to that daimon; listen to your own heart. No matter what happens, you're still Chibiusa-chan's friend--and ours, too!"

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

Sailor Mercury watches Chibi-Usa and Hotaru come up in turn. She is mostly silent, leaving the majority of the cheerleading and encouragement to the others. Every once in awhile she tries to pull her hands free but it is completely useless and she finally gives up.

It isn't until she can read the indecision and the reluctance in Hotaru's eyes that Mercury speaks with the same gentleness as before. "Hotaru-chan, remember that we believe in you. No matter what happens okay?" She smiles. "Have faith in yourself and don't think about it too hard. Go with what you believe in your heart. That's the most important thing."

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

THere's more than enough to sweat over amidst all this anyway. ...Getting here, the games themselves... It's all something. But Chibi-Usa doesn't feel any of that in the moment of the game; she's there with her best friend and she wins, and she's gloating a little but really they've earned it. Besides, Hotaru seems happy for her too and that's just great as it is--

"WHAT!?" Chibi-Usa complains at U-Ikasaman's response. She is not too tired to get angry. She frowns. SHe gets ready to argue. But...

But Hotaru looks at her with worry, so pale. Chibi-Usa starts to talk, but she can see Hotaru's reaction... and that matters a lot more than the daimon's. The Senshi voice their encouragements, Sailor Moon having even agreed with her totally justified approach, but...

She ran away with herself a little, taking the final game on herself... But she was sure. And now, seeing the way this thing is psyching Hotaru out--

"Jerk," she says again, and then turns just to Hotaru, taking the hand that isn't picking cards. "...You can do it, Hotaru-chan," she says simply, with all the faith in the world, as if she hadn't watched Hoataru lose this very game so many times just earlier, just under an hour ago. As if there's nothing in the world that could suggest she'd be wrong to believe in her.

Because there isn't.

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

Hotaru is lost, deep within herself. There aren't two cards to pick from -- there are more like four, six, because of her blurred vision. Blood springs up from her lip; she's bitten it to the quick. And she can't see anyone, not even the monster across the table from her. Darkness has closed in on her from all around. Her breathing comes shallow and light, too fast, and her heart feels like it's clenched in a vice.

'So have a little confidence in yourself - because we have a lot in you.'

'Don't listen to that daimon, listen to your own heart.'

'Have faith in yourself and don't think about it too hard.'

The cheers of the imprisoned Sailor Senshi penetrate her mounting panic like beads of dye into a water glass. Pink and green and blue, they return color to her world, and she blinks once, slowly.

'You can do it, Hotaru-chan.'

Her head turns -- turns away from the youma, who is all but licking her lips in anticipation of her victory over this weak, easily-bullied girl. She turns towards Chibi-Usa, and nods, very solemn, able now to lift her chin, to stand firm. To be brave.

"Okay!" she promises. She can do it. She will have faith in herself. She will listen to her own heart... and have a little confidence.

Her hand closes around the card she'd chosen originally.

All the darkness in the room, all the shadows, are momentarily banished by the brightness of her smile. The radiance of her eyes.

"I did it!" she squeals, brandishing the Ace of Hearts with the simple happiness of the child she is. "Chibi-Usa-chan, I did it!"

There's nothing to do now but grab her best friend for a fiercely tight hug, but she doesn't get the chance, because U-Ikasaman has flipped the table.


Hotaru freezes on her way over to hug Chibi-Usa, the beam shattering off her face into a million pieces. What's left behind is heartbroken.

"I -- I --"

Her heart -- ah.

Clutching her chest, she collapses.

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

Chibi-Usa is sure that Hotaru can. ...And she does. That solemn look, so like her, gets a supportive one in return from Chibi-Usa. She watches a foregone conclusion, her faith strong enough that there's not a doubt in her mind anymore of Hotaru's choice. What she picks is the right one. ...And that means that Chibi-Usa is there, seeing that smile, seeing how brilliant her eyes are, and it brings a smile to her face already. "You did--"

Chibi-Usa had been able to join in, to return the hug that didn't make it, but her best friend is interrupted by the Daimon, by U-Ikasaman's sudden movement that makes her flinch. "Ah--"

Her heart catches... Until U-Ikasaman blames it on Hotaru. Until Hotaru freezes, and her face changes, and that smile is gone in heartbreak, and Chibi-Usa can feel her heart fracture too just seeing that expression. "you--"

Hotaru collapses, and Chibi-Usa closes the distance in an instant to catch her, tears welling back up in her eyes. "You... But she--" Her vision swims with it. Hotaru is here, and this... This awful monster...

There's an instant where Chibi-Usa's voice is a low noise, but it grows louder in the next, a wordless cry as she pulls Hotaru against herself, her eyes squeezing shut and light filling the room even before it's visible.

The golden moon symbol glows brilliantly on her foreheard, at no command but that of a heart that can do nothing but feel at this moment.

...The cards binding the senshi melt like snow in flames in an instant, as the neon lights themselves are shouted down by brighter light.

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

"You did it!" Echoes Moon with Hotaru's triumphant squeal. "I'm so proud of you Hotaru-chan!" Naturally she's proud of Chibi-Usa too. But it felt important to say it to Hotaru in particular after all she went through there.

And then the Daimon flips the table and proclaims - "No way!" By now you would think she'd have predicted this, but she didn't.

And then Hotaru freezes - and collapses clutching her chest. And Moon's eyes widen in horror. "Hotaru-chan!"

Light shines from Chibi-Usa's horror, and now up close she witnesses the power. The flash is blinding even for her in that swell of power that erupts from a panicking child. She can't note the symbol that appears upon her forehead

And in that moment she's free - her arms coming free from glass melting like wax candles.

And there's nothing she wants more than to go to Hotaru - to go to Chibi-Usa.

But in this moment there's still a threat - a danger - the ticking of a clock looming.

And she finds herself just so angry at the Daimon that played with all of their feelings. That hurt Hotaru like this and hurting Chibi-Usa in turn - there's something fierce in this little Senshi's eyes. "I won't forgive you." She quietly vows. And in those moments she catches the gaze of her Sailor Senshi - each of them followed a rhythm that each other knew quite well - "Let's do it." They both know what that means - as an aura of pink forms around her like an aureole. The Celestial Light of her Guardian Satellite - the Moon.

It grows around, glowing with increased intensity as it swells around the others. Their time is limited - and they know this. Which is why they can't mess this up.

She waits for the other two to make the call first before ending with - "Moon Cosmic Power!"

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

"I knew you could do it!" Jupiter chimes in with Moon and, inevitably, Mercury, proud and triumphant when Hotaru draws the Ace of Hearts--her original card. But the daimon is a sore loser to the last, and fury wells up in the cheater-hating Senshi all over again. Only this time, Hotaru faints, and Chibiusa sobs, and power pours out from the crescent moon mark on her forehead--power that melts away the cards binding them. The three Senshi fall to freedom and look around at each other. Their feelings are one, as is their understanding that there's no time left. Jupiter nods decisively.

"HaaaaaaAAAAAA!" she calls, kiai gathering as she shouts out her fury. Radiant green, like the most verdant of forests, glows out from her center being around her: the Celestial Light of *her* Guardian Planet, Jupiter. It mingles with Moon's pink and Mercury's blue as she calls, "Jupiter Star Power!"

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

Hotaru wins and for just a brief moment, Sailor Mercury begins to feel like maybe it's all over. "Good job Hotaru-chan! You won!" Her relief quickly fades as the daimon flips the table and tells them that they still cannot leave.

Mercury calls out, "We are not letting you get away with this!" She struggles, tries to find a weakness in the bindings, in the daimon and way to help Chibi-Usa and Hotaru. And then Hotaru collapses and her moves grow more urgent.

She feels helpless. Like a sitting duck. Time is running out.

Just when it seems like they have lost, help comes in the tiniest, but mightiest form. Chibi-Usa. Her power glows brightly and Mercury finds herself free from the bindings as the card melts away and she falls to the ground.

Regaining her footing, Mercury is ready to end this cheating daimon. "I can't stand cheaters." For just a brief moment her mind wanders. It happens so quickly it could easily be missed. A flashback to a time when she was called a cheater and her heart hurts. But this daimon really was a cheater and at something so silly too.

Nodding at Sailor Moon, Mercury doesn't hesitate for a second as the blue light around her grows from a small aura to a brighter blue light as she channels the power of the guardian celestial planet, Mercury.

"Mercury Star Power!"

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

The swell of blue, green, and pink seems to grow, and merge into a prismatic aurora of color. As all three shout as one - "Sailor Planet Attack!"

It erupts out of them at this cry, colliding together in a spiralling incadescence of power.

It blasts the Daimon with all the wrath that three Sailor Senshi can muster in defense of their loved ones.

Turns out, that's quite a lot.

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

Hotaru's not conscious to see the raw power pour out of Chibi-Usa, much less the senshi. But it ruffles her hair as it goes by, washing out her pale skin in all colors and none, as it rockets towards U-Ikasaman.

For the record, this youma does not condone violence, apparently, because she sucks at it. Not that you have to be bad to violence to fall to the combined love and wrath of Sailors Moon, Jupiter and Mercury.

"L-L-LOVEVEVELY!!" she screams, as the Sailor Planet Attack dusts her from existence. All that's left, in the aftermath, is a remarkably large pile of board and card games, out of which grows a daimon egg. It cracks in two, and a ghostly shadow emerges. It cackles as it fades into oblivion.

And that's the end of it. The casino fades too, leaving only the foyer.

There's the front door. Hotaru, though mere feet from it, will need to be carried out; this whole ordeal seems to have finally been too much for her frail little frame, and she shows no signs of coming to.

But no one is prepared for what awaits them in the front yard.

Instead of a relieved papa, there's...