2017-12-08 - What Lies Beneath 14

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What Lies Beneath 14

As Setsuna Higashi's fairy Akarun escapes the desolate mansion to get help for her captured partner Setsuna, her passage through the veil protecting the place dispels the magic wiping it from the memories of magical girls throughout Tokyo. They immediately close in, eager to rescue both their friend and the stolen magic of the World Tree, but Northa awaits them, armed with weaponized despair...


Setsuna Higashi, Northa, Lera Camry, Inori Yamabuki, Steven Universe, Garnet, Makoto Kino, Fuu Hououji, Kasagami Araki, Saki Hyuuga, Anthy Himemiya, Niramo Umokeshi, Honoka Yukishiro, Nagisa Misumi, Nori Ankou, Akarun, Mepple


Desolate Mansion, Nishitama Park District, Tama

OOC - IC Date:

12-08-2017 - 03-10-2015

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.



It's too perfect a stop; there is no give in Northa's hand, no inch that the punch gets in the way the Executive stops Passion's punch. Instead, all that extra force slams straight into it, and the sudden stop twists Passion's arm in place. She has an instant of noticing it as Northa twists the rest of the way, and that's it for her strike. She can't even move her arm with Northa gripping her hand. That instant fades into the next as she stands there, eyes wide, not even breathing. She has just long enough for her heart to sit in her throat as Northa looks down at her. "--"

She can't get the words out before Northa's clinical remark, before that knife in her stomach that isn't physical but may as well be. Alone. Alone, and she--

Her light is gone, abrubtly. Too, too quickly, the power leaves her and she's left cold, staring as she feels the change well after it happened. Northa is not interrupted at all. ...But the vines come. The vines come, again. Still for an instant Setsuna doesn't realize she's breathing again, drawing in a quick breath. Her arms gripped, her torso entangled, her neck encircled, she can't move. Not just because of the restraint, but because of something freezing her.

...She won't let herself be anything but alone.

It hurts, of course, being slammed against the Gauge, but that pain means little to what is already there. It will bruise, to say the least. But it is not, indeed, the physical impact that drains her. Not in the least.

Purple-haired Setsuna was already pale, but even as she's enwrapped in vines she seems to wilt, sagging against the restraints as she searches for words and finds that none of them are sufficient. Northa reminds her. Northa walks away. But Setsuna's eyes stare into nothing, almost, almost liquid. ...But this despair runs far, far deeper than tears, seems to overwhelm her completely, draw her down into a darkness so deep that she may never escape.

Alone. ...Unremarked upon, her Linkrun has clattered to the catwalk, red and white and unbelonging here. ...With a flash of red light, it's enveloped in a dome of crimson, and suddenly it too is gone.

The silence swallows up even the sound of dull breathing, dull eyes staring into nothing.

It swallows up the sound of tears falling onto the vines, drip drip drip, with the Gauge.

<Pose Tracker> Northa [None] has posed.


  • Kaoruko 'Grandma' Hanasaki gathers magical girls at her Greenhouse to address the endangerment of the World Tree, whose power -- released but once per hundreds of years -- is being threatened by dark forces.
  • At one such tea party, she sends them on something of a vision quest, through the world of dreams, to discover the hiding place of one of the five wells of magical power that are connected to the Tree, and control it. The one that was stolen by Dark Fall, that disappeared... elsewhere.
  • To a desolate mansion, it turned out, but nobody could find it in the real world -- clearly it was veiled by a powerful mystical force.
  • Nobody, that is, but someone who already had a connection to it -- and a reason, more than one reason, to go alone. Once Eas, then Setsuna, finally Pretty Cure Passion. It does not go well...


A bolt of red light streaks through the trees of the forest, and as it passes out of the mansion-prison-headquarters-home of its keeper, it passes through something, too.

The shield. 'Shield' isn't really the right word, it sounds too physical, too techy. 'Spell' isn't even quite it either; it, in turn, is a word too arcane to quite capture what it is that Labyrinth did to this mansion to hide it.

'Veil' is all right. We'll go with veil. The red light -- Setsuna's Linkrun -- passes through the veil, and quietly, even effortlessly, seems to dispel it. It breaks up into the air as lightly as a puddle dries in the sun.

And whatever dark magicks had veiled it from the minds of the magical girls break up as well. Of course they know where it is. They all remember it. Anyone who's spent much time near Clover Town Street -- and all Sister Schools students have at one time or another, it's just part of the culture, a place that you go to hang out -- remember the scary mansion in the forests behind it. There was a fortune teller there for a while, right? And before that, some kind of big CEO?

But now... like a moment of stunning deja vu, wherever they are on this gloomy, drizzly late afternoon, it is clear as day in their minds. Wherever they are, it's like a beacon on the horizon.

This is where the World Tree's power has been hidden. This is where they have to go.

And for whatever reason, it's vulnerable, simply because it is findable -- now.



A letter is delivered, by suited courier, to the Araki mansion. It is penned in golden ink.

Our darkest enemies are uniquely vulnerable this afternoon, as is their grasp upon the World Tree; you will find their headquarters at these coordinates. Should you choose to oppose them, anticipate both allies and resistance.



The seed occasionally kept in Steven's pocket, the one given to him by Kaoruko underneath the Jindai greenhouse, glows. Insistently. It tugs at his hand when he takes it out, and casts a beautiful glow over his face -- and Garnet's. Through the golden light, they both see a vision of a desolate mansion, a terrible place. The seed wants to go...



Makoto's communicator bleeps. It's Luna. Her voice is shrill and tiny through the watch, as usual, but it seems shriller than usual.

"There's a huge surge of power coming from the forest! The others are on their way there--" (Someday, we'll tell the story of why they never made it.) "--please hurry!" And her own seeds, given to her not by the World Tree but a doll, are glowing, tugging as well.



Passion's Linkrun -- her personal fairy, as opposed to Tarte and Chiffon who are, for better and for worse, shared -- appears in a series of places in a series of teleporting poofs. It goes to those closest to her. Those who need her most.

Those she needs.

Its distress is obvious, even though it's basically just an animated key with a face, and it keens, wordlessly communicating that something is terribly wrong. It beams dreadful images directly into their minds -- Setsuna Higashi, walking alone, shoulders slumped, into the mansion outside of Clover Town Street. Her mansion, once.

Lera, Buki, and some other Pretty Cure, too, all get the message.



Everyone arrives at the same time, emerging from the woods around the mansion in ones and twoes and threes. The building itself is imposing but not obviously magical, beyond the neck-prickling feeling of power around it and the various visions, artifacts, and other indicators that have pointed everyone here in the first place.

It has a door. It is doubled, heavy-looking, and so dark that the grains of the wood are all but invisible.

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


Winter hasn't quite left Tokyo alone, though it is close. The air is still chilly, enough to warrant a jacket, and that leaves Lera Camry wearing a dark red windbreaker as she sits in the park. She has her arm draped and resting across the back of a bench. A specific bench, of course. Her amber eyes look out over the park, languidly, and she glances down at her phone. A text message has gone unanswered.

She looks at it, with a little bit of mounting worry. Even if they've dated for over half-a-year, sometimes, she can't help but worry. She wouldn't Lera, if she didn't worry a little. She looks down at the phone again, her thumb idly brushing through.

So when she sees the glint of red in front of her, it makes her jump. She sits up straight, smiling awkwardly at the Linkrun, at first. "Uh--hey, Akarun, I--"

She hasn't ever known how to talk to a key fairy, exactly. She stares, as it bounces distress in its face and keens. Her mouth hangs open, the image in her mind -- the lonely, long forest. Familiar shoulders on a familiar girl, slumped in a way that Lera has seen before. She starts to sit up straighter, her smile fading into a more serious look. Her eyes widen, and she says what she sees next: "...The mansion!"


Lera Camry arrives, as she often does, from the sky. The air has a streak of gold-red light tearing through it, sheering the sky and leaving a gash in a low-lying cloud, before it arches down towards the forest. She breaks through the canopy of trees, leaves bursting up like a splash-down when she breaks through them, and hits the forest ground. She starts running the moment she does.

<She's going to be okay.> Soaring Sky's modulated voice sounds less certain than usual. It may sound less so, when he repeats himself. <She'll be fine.>

"We don't know that!" Lera answers, frantically.

<...I know. Let's hurry.>

She bolts through the woods, into the clearing around the imposing mansion, towering over them. Her eyes turn upward, and then outward -- towards the others arriving at the same time as her. "Pine! Jupiter! E-Everyone! She's--she's in there, we have to hurry!"

COMBAT: Lera Camry transforms into Barrier Jacket Perihelion!
COMBAT: Makoto Kino transforms into Sailor Jupiter!
<Pose Tracker> Inori Yamabuki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"Wait - what!?" 'buki sounds positively frantic as she sees the images beamed into her mind by Akarun. "She wouldn't! She wouldn't!"

A lump grows in her throat and she's in the midst of panic in short order, "There's no way she'd ever go back there!" Right now Love's father had dragged her off to his wigmaker's convention. While Miki was out of town on a modeling tryouts. There's no way they'd ever get here in time. "Some things... some things you have to do by yourself..." She says as she thinks of her walking into that mansion, "... some things- Oh Setsuna..."

Hyperventilating and her hands shaking at the thought of what might happen - her breath hitches in gasps as she tries to work her way out of her panic attack. Hiccuping as the tears come, she draws herself back up. And starts to run, despite her breathlessness, "But you don't have to... because you're not alone." She says as she turns off Clover Town Street - and into the forest.

Grabbing her Linkrun from her bobbing bag, she keeps running, "I won't... let you be. Change! Pretty Cure- Beat Up!"

There's a golden shimmer - and while she doesn't feel ready for what's coming next.

She tries not to let such thoughts shake her.


Cure Pine emerges, breathless despite her change, "Oh thank goodness you're all here! Everyone. My friend - Cure Passion-" She nods to Lera frantically, "Right! She's in there - I don't know what she was think-"

She takes a breath and second guesses that, "... I guess I actually do know what she was thinking." She murmurs more softly, raking a gloved hand through her bangs all the way up to her Golden Sidetail as she looks over the Pretty Cure - Sailor Jupiter, and others. "Anyhow - we've got to rescue her! It's not going to be easy though. This is... I'm sure this is Labyrinth's base."

She looks ahead - even if it's at least a little more inviting than the frozen North, it feels about the same as someone trying to walk into D-Point to her, "Which means we have to be really careful." There's a faint pause, as she tries to calm herself down more, "But I'm sure if we believe in ourselves and each other - we'll somehow manage."

COMBAT: Inori Yamabuki transforms into Cure Pine!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki transforms into Crimson Rose Duelist!
COMBAT: Niramo Umokeshi transforms into Sourisi!
COMBAT: Anthy Himemiya transforms into The Rose Bride!
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.


Queue Steven playing video games with one of his great caretakers nearby. A general fun time at the beach houseart installationGem Temple. It was a lazy day, gentle waves rolling onto shore over an endless sky, with the seafoam sparkling in the light. "Yeah, take that, evil Oni! Lonely Blade has your number!" the boy shouts, mashing on buttons and flicking controller sticks like it was an artform.

But all at once, his pocket lights up and moves! "Oh, my phone!" he says, reaching in and pulling out something, putting it up to his ear. "Hello? Helloooooo?" The boy raises a brow, then looks to his hand. "Oh my gosh! It's not my phone at all!"

That seed he has kept close at hand ever since the greenhouse day. The nice lady there said that it would help one day, and he would know what to do with it. And right now, it was going off something magical. A scintillating display of lights play outward from it, intensely bright, yet does not harm the eyes.

The boy peers to its center, and sees a familiar sight. A location he got dared to once go inside by some kids in his class. A creepy place near Clover Town. "I know this place!" The seed seems to pull the boy toward the door. "Garnet, I think something is going on over near Clover Town! We needa check it out. It has to be important!"

The boy grabs his backpack, and looks about ready for anything. "Lion! We gotta go! Its important!"


A portal rips open near the mansion, and out flies a large pink Lion, Steven well-tucked in the mane(almost too far in to make sense, strangely) and Garnet riding main. The animal skids to a stop, digging his claws in to halt his speed., and a cloud of dust kicks up. "That never gets old!" Steven says, throwing his fists up in the air.

His excitement comes to a halt at about the rate Lion did as he lays eyes on the mansion. Something is off. And not the kind of off that this mansion put off on that dare. "Hey look, other people are showing up too!" he says, as other magical girls seem to be assembling. "Guess everyone else got the memo, too. Magical memo? Note? Maybe they just have these seeds too," he says, palming the one gifted to him.

COMBAT: Steven Universe transforms into Steven Quartz Universe!
COMBAT: Garnet transforms into Garnet's Got Gauntlets!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji transforms into Wind Knight!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Jupiter [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Makoto knows that someone will call her, because her seeds are glowing, and that's definitely a sign that something weird is going on. She's in the middle of opening up the little bag that holds him when her communicator beeps, and when Luna tells her what's wrong, she only nods once, fiercely. "I'm on my way!"

She looks back at the seeds. Then, just in case, she tucks the bag into her pocket, and pulls out her transformation wand.


Sailor Jupiter arrives by leaping from rooftop to rooftop, and then, once she reaches the park, racing between the trees. She arrives at the clearing where the mansion is approximately at the same time as the others, and stops when she recognizes several of the others--Lera, Cure Pine, and so on. And the first thing she learns? That Cure Passion is in the mansion.

"What? She came back?" she utters, staring at the mansion with wide eyes. "But I thought--" She pauses, then sets her jaw and nods to Lera and Pine. "Right. We'll save her for sure!" Especially since they've got lots of back-up, it looks like, including Steven and his Lion, who Jupiter's never quite formally met, and Garnet, who she mostly sort of has. Jupiter smiles at Steven, and nods to Garnet. Other arrivals are no doubt acknowledged similarly.

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

A quiet afternoon for Fuu, but one beset with distractions. Games she would play, books or manga she would read, ideas she would work on in RPG Maker ... but with exams lurking less than a week away, studying takes priority. She's working through some math problems right now, normally her easiest subject, but today she has to fight to keep her mind on the arrangement and interaction of numbers.

And then, for no reason that she can immediately identify, she remembers the mansion.

The mansion she's seen, but only at a distance, when she's dropping by Clover Town Street.

The mansion she's seen, but only at a distance, during a sojourn in the dreamworld.

The mansion she's seen, but only at a distance - and from two radically different angles ...

Yet identifiably the same, once she thinks about them.

Her focus settles, and she tears through the problem she was lingering on, checking her work, then marking her place and rummaging briefly about her room. If she's going out to buy snacks (always a convenient excuse), she has to have her purse; more importantly, she finds the seed-pendant that she's been holding onto. Even though the light it once held was replaced by dangerous darkness, throwing it away would be even more hazardous, and she knows it. Right now, though, she sees it glowing, and when she touches it, the image of that mansion surges to the forefront of her mind.

Dangerous or not, she slips the pendant's cord around her neck, settling the pendant itself inside her blouse's collar. It'll be safe enough when her breastplate materializes, and she doesn't dare place it inside her glove-jewel. "Kuu-neesan," she asks as she leaves her room for the hallway, "was there anything you'd like me to pick up at the store ... ?"


The Magic Knight of Wind alights from her last jump, lingering in the branches of a sturdy tree. The sense of familiarity is even stronger now, along with the too-familiar twist of her gut, the instinctual sense of Something Wrong not far away. She takes a moment to survey the immediate area, looking for familiar faces and for potential threats alike. Seeing none on hand of the latter, she makes the last jump from branches to ground, landing lightly and bowing to the others. "Lera-san, Pine-san, Steven-san, Jupiter-san, everyone ..." She takes a deep breath, looking among her allies once more.

"Whatever called us all here, one thing or many, it's that we *are* here which matters." She looks towards the mansion. "We should probably proceed with a mix of caution and haste, in any case."

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

~Earlier, Araki Family Estate~

Whistling fills the kitchen of the Estate. Kasagami Araki, clad in A. absurdly fluffy bath robe (red), shorts (black), and a grey tank top busily flips a second stack of pancakes with blueberries. Eggs and bacon sizzle in a pan nearby. In goes pepper, a tiny bit of garlic.

Ring. Frown. The young woman runs a hand through her hair, and barks to Anthy in annoyance. For once, not at her. "I'll get it. You keep an eye on the food, Anthy."

Blink. The letter is taken, and opened. A quick scan...and a massive grin lights up her face. Rushing back in, stabbing a knife into pancakes, and she devours them with haste.

"Change in plans my little servant! We have a job to do." She winks, and then, makes a phone call.


The ride over to the forest is...interesting to say the least. The drive is made in half the time due to Kasagami's liberal interpretation of things like 'common sense' and 'traffic laws' in the black and red harley she'd commandeered. At least she insisted on wearing a helmet. Interestingly, Kasagami's nodachi is missing today, her armament a single wakizashi tucked into the hem of her uniform she'd swiftly thrown on.

She keeps one arm at the side of her real armament as they advance into the forest. Possibly over her shoulder if need be! The Engaged is truly a gentlewoman.

Kasagami all but stalks out of the forest, that savage smile of hers just as fresh as it was earlier. She keeps the Rose Bride close to her, and arrives just in time for Buki to give the other reason people are here.

"Labyrinth again, huh? First they use those pathetic creatures to terrorize people, then they kidnap someone? What a pack of mongrels! A King wouldn't allow such to happen!" Howls Kasagami passionately, completely ignoring her own hypocrisy.

The others get winks or a wave as appropriate, particularly to those like Steven and Fuu that she knows well! Inwardly she shivers in delight. Would she get to fight against Westar!?

Really, she looks more eager than actually worried for the lost Setsuna.

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

Saki Hyuuga had been - as she so often is, in her free time - at the Infinity softball diamond, practicing her arm against team catcher Yuuko Outa. Stepping away from the mound for a break, Saki huffs a breath, dabs at her face with a towel - and looks to one side, where she sees her little fairy friend Flappy popped out of his cellphone case - and a distressed key-like fairy, babbling in chirpy panic.

Seconds later, she throws her arm up high. "Coach! Need a break!" and before Shinohara-sensei can flash-step to her side to demand further explanation, Saki tears off at a run. She didn't see Mai at the field today; off with the art club, she guesses. Which means it's just her, today.

Her hand always feels empty when she transforms alone, but it doesn't stop the golden streak of light that soon races away from Infinity's sports fields, Cure Bloom bulleting across the distance to a place she's known forever and only just remembered.


Cure Bloom careens out of the air and comes down with a louder, crisper CLAP of her shoes than the dirt should really be able to produce, and takes a quick look around at the people who've gathered up. "I heard!" she calls to Lera's worried declaration.

The Wind Knight offers caution and Buki echoes the thought. Cure Bloom just says, "So we knock the door in, right?" and holds up a glowing fist.

COMBAT: Saki Hyuuga transforms into Cure Bloom!
<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet steps off of Lion to the gathering of the others, nods to Jupiter, and takes silent accounting of her allies ...and Kasagami and her attendant. She clenches her gauntlets, already summoned at the sight of them, and looks to the Future for the likelihood of sabotage, and decides, grudgingly that crossing blows would be unwise here, though all the enemy of her enemy does not a friend make.

She is further reinforced in this by the earnest description of the situation by Cure Pine, and the assurances of the others, she says nothing herself but she stands at ther ready in silent determination, to again aid Cure Passion in a time of urgent need.

<Pose Tracker> Anthy Himemiya [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Anthy is in her cream-and-brown Ohtori uniform already -- yes, even at home in the Araki estate, far from the academy. It sometimes seems to go beyond uniform for her... With an agreeable nod she takes over at the stove, and is just about to finish with the pancakes when Kasagami stabs them up and wolfs them down. She shows no surprise, either to her Engaged's method of eating or the call to action. Another nod, and she has a fresh banana while Kasagami makes her call.


The whole ride over, Anthy clings to Kasagami's waist with both arms and presses her face into the back of the taller girl's coat. It's still terrifying with her eyes closed, but that way she doesn't have to see.


The Rose Bride emerges just behind her Engaged, and her eyes wander up to the tree branches overhead for long moments before lowering back to earth again. Her dress is redder than a sunrise, and stands out brilliantly against the grey woods.

She looks at each member of this motley gathering -- eyes lingering for a moment on a boy who loves roses -- and she looks back to Kasagami. "It is good we are here, then, isn't it?" She gives the Engaged an utterly placid smile, and stays close, crown gleaming.

<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

Niramo lets out an impressively deep sigh as she stares out of the front doors at Juuban, gazing out on the dreary atmosphere that was everywhere not indoors. The blanketing clouds have been drenching the outside with a mild but steady drizzle all day, and while it was not as bad as a downpour, it made any walk in this weather miserable. Takk was even residing inside her jacket for once, not wanting to deal with the damp cold and the constant bouncing of her book bag today. No miraculous ray of sunshine was breaking through the clouds to make the trip home any more comfortable, and sensing the impatience from her Kwami friend, Niramo hunches her shoulders and starts to make the trip home.

A few streets streets later, walking with her head bowed before a stiff breeze that felt as if it was biting through her skin, Niramo's thoughts soon to what the kind, motherly Hanasaki-sensei had ask all the magical girls that went into the world of dreams. To finding the mansion that was decaying and rotting away, and was the source of the troubles that faced them all. Niramo has tried, mainly through the use of search engines on 'spooky mansions tokyo' and satallite imagery', but nothing ever seemed to look even close to what she saw. Even now, she could picture it clearly, and so close to Clover Town-...wait, that wasn't right. She refocused her thoughts on that creepy mansion, the one that never seemed to be torn down, despite being a major eyesore, and her eyes visiblly widen in surprise as she realized it didn't just look similar.

They were a perfect match.

The rustling of her jacket as Takk moved into the collar broke Niramo out of her thoughts, and without warning, ran towards the nearest alleyway. Ignoring the startled yelp from the Kwami, she quickly looks to make sure she was alone before ducking behind a trash can. Takk floated out of the jacket and into the cold air and drizzle, but was cut off before he could speak.

"Takk, remember me describing that old mansion I saw? You know, when I went to the tea party in the greenhouse?"

"I can see when you are transformed, as I have told you before, but yes...did you finally find out where-"

"There's a park near Clover Town Street, and there's a creepy mansion there. It's been there for years, and it's the same mansion! I feel so stupid for only remembering about it now!"

"Perhaps there's a reason for that. An illusion, or perhaps a glamour spell..."

"Takk, I promise to have a back and forth with you about why I missed such an obvious mansion, but I want to check it out now. Besides, it's so dark and gloomy today, no one else is going to be there. Right?"

Sourisi wishes she could say she was surprised as she leaps through the branches of one last tree and lands evenly on the wet dirt in front of the mansion. The old place looks even more decayed and deserted up close but, it couldn't be the case if she was not the only one rushing to these forgotten ruins. Or not so forgotten. Seeing Steven and the tall Garnet dismounting from a pink lion first, she runs to them first. "Looks like i'm not the only one drawn here. Did...you have any weird dreams about this place, Steven?" Twisting to look at the CLAP of Cure Bloom's shoes, she couldn't help but smile at her blunt question, then looks back at Garnet. Or the impressive gauntlets she wields. "Maybe Garnet should do the honors!"

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Setsuna stares into nothing. ...She doesn't even notice at first that there's more than just empty expanse to look into, more than the catwalk to look down on as she hangs here, feeling the awful vine against her throat, frozen as surely from remembering these vines and the weight of her heavy heart as anything. ...Almost, she doesn't notice it at all, until the bright lights, the familiar faces.

It is there, suddenly, a window in space, and Setsuna--still dark-eyed, still sluggish, still so weihed down with vision blurred as things seem just too awful even to try and blink away tears--

They arrive. Lera, and Sky, and Buki, and Steven, and Sailor Jupiter, and the Wind Knight, and more. Some she recognizes dimly or not at all, but she can gather what they all represent, even as Saki is one of thm, Garnet. ...And another.

They're here. Outside the mansion, she can tell from what it looks like, and though she should be relieved to see her friends she finds herself afraid, and more. She came alone. She made herself alone. And still they're here, to find her again, after she drags them forward again, after...

If they know where the mansion is, then the others--

Setsuna's--she's not Passion, just any other girl-- lips press together as she tries to right her breathing, but she can only look through the mirror, feel the Gauge behind her. And finally, manage a small voice.

"...No... Everyone..."

<Pose Tracker> Northa [None] has posed.


"Yes... everyone." Northa is beside Setsuna -- when did that happen? -- her cheek pressed against the girl's as they gaze together through this one-way window she's conjured.

"So many people you care about, all in one place. All having delivered themselves to my doorstep... to me. All because of you."

Setsuna can feel Northa's grin pushing against her, those spreading cheekbones sharper than a knife.

"Yet again, you serve Mobius-sama with your actions... now be a good girl, and watch what happens when someone is foolish enough to think that you're their friend."

Her heels click, click, click in time with the drip, drip, drip of the Fuko Gauge, as she strides away.


Abruptly and entirely of their own accord, the doors gape open.

'Welcomingly' isn't really in the vocabulary of this place, but it's a clear invitation nonetheless.

Once everyone's inside, with a certain inevitability, the doors slam closed behind them -- and will not be moved again. This was a one-way trip.

Inside things abandon all pretense of normality immediately; there's a foyer and a grand staircase, but instead of stairs there's an open-mouthed tunnel gaping straight into the room. Its walls are lined with circuitry -- not conventional cabling, but the deeply embedded lines of some sort of technomagic, wrought in unearthly metals that moan for release.

Down the tunnel -- which quickly becomes a catwalk over a vast chasm -- one can distantly spot a great yellow tower, wrapped up in green vines, brown roots. There isn't time to get a good look at it, though, because Northa is there, in the way.

Northa: tall, strong, lovely but only incidentally. Lovely as a flower, if flowers were blue-haired, red-nail-clawed, garbed in black robes somewhere midway on the spectrum between 'high sorceress supreme' and 'dressy CEO', and with gazes cold as ice and a smile colder still. She has every inch the presence of Queen Beryl, and that is not a good thing.

"Welcome, Pretty Cure... and friends."

Her smile widens, and she lifts up a violet crystal in her hand. It catches the light for a split second before everything explodes in purple smoke. No -- it's a cloud of perfume. (Northa, besides being terrifying, is also a botanist who's life work is distilling the energy of despair into more useful forms, like, apparently, aerosols.)

And when the cloud fades, everything has changed...

"Watch," Northa says to Setsuna. The others can't hear her anymore. "Watch as they establish the foundations of their own defeat, trapped in worlds crafted by the despair of their own hearts. Watch as they face their own desolation and self-doubt, living in a world without a future..."

OOC: It's like she said -- each of you 'wakes up', as though the mansion were the dream, standing alone in your own little
nightmare world. It generally starts out a bit innocuous -- you might be at home, or at your favorite hangout, or at school, and
it's like you were daydreaming and suddenly came back to yourself. But something is terribly wrong -- a loved one has abandoned
you; your own dreams have come to an abrupt and total end, as whatever you value most in this world has simply become unable to
continue, given up on itself, or given up on you. It is, initially, too powerful an effect to resist -- you are in an absolutely
believable world... a world without a future. For pacing purposes, /next/ round you'll be getting wise to this being a trick, so
you'll want to wring out the full emotional impact of whatever it is you see and experience /this/ round.

<Pose Tracker> Cure Pine [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Pine laughs somewhat nervously at Bloom's suggestion - "Maybe we could try being a little more careful than knocking like that Bloom..." Whereas Kasagami calls Labyrinth a pack of mongrels- "Please don't call them that." She says quietly, "My friend used to be one of them."

But then the doors open. And Pine looks nervously to the others - but only for a moment, before she strides right in. When the doors slam behind them, it's entirely unexpected, but it brings a soft meep to her lips.

But then she runs. She runs through the open-mouthed tunnel. Down the hallway filled with circuitry.

Until she skids to a stop because - there's Northa. Up there.

"What have you done with Passion!?" And that's when a cloud of purple smoke takes over her vision. "Passion! SETSUNA! I'm..."


When 'Buki's vision clears - she finds herself laying on her desk at home. Her vision was hazy. "... here." Lightly she rubs at her eyes - "Oh. Must have fallen asleep..." She says groggily. Then pushing out her rolling chair, she finds her way to her feet - before checking the clock - a jolt of panic running through her - "Oh no! I'm going to be late for-"

And then a realization comes to her. "Oh that's right." Her expression becomes sad as she looks at a picture of Love - Miki - and herself in their practice clothes. After a moment, she sighs - puts her hand on the top of the frame and - lays it face down.

"Besides today is..." Morosely she opens the door. And down the steps she goes. Her mother was washing dishes in the kitchen. Hearing her daughter, she rubs her hands with a dish towel and turns around - "Inori - I know things haven't been..." She doesn't finish that thought, "... look the deadline for the make up isn't that far away." "Uh-huh." She said without any real thought - as she slides on her coat by the door. And puts on her shoes - head bowed as she adjusts the shoulders of the jacket.

"I'm going out. I'll be back..." She says quietly - before her mother frowns and says, "Alright. Don't stay out too late this time."


On the way - she stops at a flower shop.


Now in the middle of an empty field, she checks her watch. Holding the Higanbana bouquet in her hands. She checks it again - as twilight starts to fall. Dread settles in and she realizes -

"They're not coming." After a moment she keeps talking - to what feels like noone in particular - "You shouldn't blame them. It's been hard for them too... and they've been busy. They just don't have time for... for..."

Her eyes mist up, and after a few moments she's crying - as she wipes her eyes with the back of her sleeve. - "Sorry... sorry... it's just kind of funny... it's like everyone else has moved on... and the two of us..."

Lowering herself to one knee, then another, she puts the bouquet down delicately against the tiny stone monument, adjusting it.

Here lies Setsuna Higashi

Gone but not Forgotten.

"... we're just standing still."

Nagisa Misumi arrives from Nishitama Park District.

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

"It's not--it's more complicated than that!" Lera answers Kasagami. Her voice is frenetic, harried. She is on the razor's edge of falling apart, and she almost teeters over. Even with friends like Pine and Jupiter here, she faces something that careens towards the unimaginable. And so, it's the idea of Saki Hyuuga's that makes her turn.

"Good call, Bloom," she says.

And then the doors fly open on their own. She stares for a moment, but it doesn't take Lera long. She starts to walk forward, back into the mansion. She came here once before -- to retrieve Fate, after her mother cast her aside.

It has been nearly a year, and it feels like longer, sometimes. She stares, though, at the tunnel. She thinks that she wasn't here, last time... but this place is labrynthine. She gawks at it, before she steps forward, and then looks up at the Fuko Gauge for just a moment. It isn't a long look.

Her eyes settle on Northa, instead, and her eyes narrow angrily -- and her fingers close, tightly, around Soaring Sky's hilt. Her knuckles whiten underneath the steel-plated, but fingerless glove of her Barrier Jacket. Her amber eyes meet Northa's, and then something fills her. For a moment, it isn't the emotion that Northa wants to instill in her.

It is another emotion. Something red hot and furious; something she always had trouble with, in the past. "You--" The memory comes back, unbidden, of a vine ripping through a girl's back. Her cheeks start to feel hot, too. "YOU!"

But she remembers herself, and as angry as she is, she remembers why she was here. She calls out, just a little after Cure Pine does. "Setsuna... Setsuna! I'm coming! I'm--"

And her world vanishes, like the others', in a cloud of purple haze.

Her eyes blink open, slowly. They feel heavy, the way that they always do. Her fingers idly reach up, touching at the Time-Space Administration Bureau scarf that she wore. It was like the rest of her uniform. Her fingers shake, as she reaches under the scarf, and plucks out the locket that she keeps underneath the heavy, green coat that she wears.

The buttons don't shine. It isn't a Barrier Jacket. Her Storage Device can't make a Barrier Jacket. But, it doesn't matter anyways.

She walks down the metal hallway, almost slipping on the floor. She rights herself, though she has to lean against the wall. It was easier, she thinks, when she had Soaring Sky. But, of course, she doesn't.

<Sergeant Camry,> a voice buzzes in her ear. <We need those reports.>

She ignores it. Lera flips the locket open, and inside is... nothing. No photograph, no hologram, nothing. Why would there be? There wasn't anything to capture. Anything to remember her by. "Setsuna," she says, quietly. "You... you remember? You promised me, once. You said you'd be with me, if you could."

She laughs, quietly. It was only apart from the others that she could talk, earnestly and honestly about her own feelings. It was only when she was alone that it felt safe to. Which, of course, what was so funny: she had been alone for a long time now.

"You said you knew what it would do to me, if you left," she says. "And I said... I said I wouldn't forget you. But I don't have enough to remember you by, y'know? I don't... I don't just want memories."

Her eyes squeeze shut. Her TSAB beret falls down her forehead, tears beading up in her eyes. "I always wanted more than memories. Without you, I'm not who I should be. I'm--"

<Sergeant! I'm not repeating myself again!> the man's voice buzzes, more insistent, over her radio. <Get down there right now. What a-->

Lera finishes the sentence for him and herself, as she snaps the locket shut. "...waste."

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

Both arms cross, and even Garnet's clenched fists don't deter her outburst. If anything, the Rose Bride's words egg her on.

"That's right, Anthy! Our combined strength and dreams will see us all through!" Pause. "All for the sake of our dear friend."

Excuses made, she eyes her allies once more, only to turn back to the mansion itself. A frown. She likes Saki's 'kick door off hinges' method, to be honest. And while she'd love to slice the door off? Well, it really is Cure Pine's show, as she seems to know the most.

But it seems that's not necessary, as the doors themselves offer them in. Down through the foyer and into a tunnel, and her gaze catches that odd circuitry. Resisting the urge to cut the metal and magic out of the wall, the glow from it makes her angry in ways she can't quite explain. This entire place makes her wish for a few wrecking balls.

But it's Northa that commands her attention more than any bit of scenery. Her good eye narrows, and the pure presence coming from the woman makes her step in before Anthy. One hand goes to her sword at her waist. She knows someone strong when she sees them. A mixture of dread respect and excitement runs through her veins. And fear for the weak sheath that's at once the source of her newfound greatness, and a great weakness so easily plucked away. She weighs her options, and tries to size up the woman.

Before Kasagami can speak, that crystal's explosion has her coughing and choking. She stumbles back as the smoke fills the room. Her gaze goes unfocused. And then everything fades.

~Dream Ohtori~

It's another sunny day at Ohtori Academy, the front gates immaculate as Kasagami Araki walks up to them. She pauses, rubs her temples. What almost feels like a headache passes, and then she walks through them. The sea of students before her is both infinite and tiny as she ignores the faceless ones that she doesn't recognize. Walking shadows of unknown students that mean nothing to her except in the abstract.

The sea parts before her. Every step is pure confidence, until suddenly she stops. Standing tall and regal, Touga Kiryuu smiles, feigned sadness on his lips.

"Araki-kun. I'm surprised to see you here. But it's just as well, I wanted to offer you condolences on your loss. You fought well, but did you really think a girl could become the President? You're no longer worthy of being on the Student Council. Or of holding the Rose Bride."

Those faceless shadows turn, pointing and laughing. Kasagami's eye goes wide.

"What are you talking abou..."

A strong, slender hand takes hers, and the other taps the ring on her finger. Like glass, it shatters entirely. A letter is placed in her hand, and she's let go as her knees go weak. All around her, the white noise of gossip can be heard.

"Did someone like her really think she could beat Touga-san?"

"That loud, ugly fry-face doesn't belong here anyway!"

"She's always been a jerk! And not even from a real family! New money like her is trash! Hooo hoh hoh hoh!"

The letter is simple. Expulsion. Faceless suited men grab her arms, and toss her out from the school's grounds. She looks up. The figure of Rinji Sakurai dissappears in the sea of students, looking back with anger and dissappointment in her mute gaze. Tresses of purple and pink mingle, their eyes not meeting the student on the ground as the gates close. The Castle In the Sky fades from her sight, the wonders and Revolution of Ohtori eternally lost to her, and those she's come to care for within it.

Rain falls. Her body shivering, tears falling from her eyes, she sobs and clenches her now empty finger. Without the Bride, with out her Ring, she's just another weak, powerless little girl.

Clipt-clipt. Heels click before her. She looks up. A figure in a sailor suit, with long, beautiful green hair stands. And a hand is offered, Kasagami slowly pulled to her feet.

Dark eternal pools gaze upon her lovingly. Hope springs in her heart. If she's lost everything? At least the Senshi of Time is there.

Sailor Pluto's eyes are loving, and sad. And most of all, filled with grim determination. In her free hand, the Garnet Rod is raised.

"Kasagami...I love you. But this world can't be ruled by someone who will be an Evil King. I'm sorry."

And then the screams of the dead surround, and rush towards her as the stoic warrior passes judgement on her acts and dreams. The first of those dead souls are far too familiar, the screaming, hungry faces of her parents coming to reap her life for the sake of a world Kasagami has declared rotten.

The powerless little girl screams to the heavens.

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

Lookit all the folks showing up to help! Why theres Fuu in her knightly garb, Kasagami in tow with another dark skinned magical girl, Cure Pine and Bloom are present too! The mouse themed magical girl is here, as well! That friend of Endo's is here to lend support, and-- gasp-- a Senshi!

Steven totally waves back to Jupiter. His eyes full of stars. "We totally got this.. this uh, whatever is going on here!" he adds in; his fumbling adding a bit of charm to the uplifting sentiment passed around.

The boy looks to Sourisi. "Who me? Naw. A magic seed brought me here!" He says, giving no context whatsoever. But it surely can't be the most preposterous thing she has heard. In this life, it is the norm of having strange and odd ways those with intent to help and the heart to do it to be brought togoether.

Then suddenly, the doors open. "I guess folks know we are here!" he says, summoning a shield, ready for anything and everything to burst out of the twilight doorway. But nothing comes. "Guess we better go in...!" he says, moving forward. "C'mon Lion! We need your help!"

Lion refuses to budge.

"Please? There are Lion Lickers in it for you!"

Lion is already inside.

Steven follows suit, trotting along at his usual stock pace. This place give chills. It belonged in a haunted theme park, or as a location of one of those cartoons with a detective gang with a smart animal.

Uh oh.

Before the boy can realize that they actually fit that bill, the doors slam shut behind the group. "Ah, yeah. Maybe we should have left someone outside to ope nthe doors," he adds. Not that it would probably help. It was probably sealing itself with magic or some other nonsense. The inside of this place felt foreign. Like it didn't belong. Impossible space seems to be the theme, as the inside felt so much bigger than outside, though it could be some sort of illusion.

Strange technical patterns adorn the wall. It reminded him of the hidden room in the Kindergarten, but this was not Gem technology. A strange feeling emanates from those geometric patterns. It wasn't electricity. At least wholly. Ahead, some sort of monstrous obelisk stands as an outline for a woman in grab that clearly stats that she is someone both important and not very nice.

"Hi!" Steven says, trying to be some sort of diplomat. He knew this won't end well. "So did you invite us to hang out or something?" His tongue-in-cheek response is answered with a cloud of cloying smoke, powerful scents hard to recognize on a whim.

The smoke clears, and STeven find himself on a beach. But not just any beach... "BEACH CITY!" the boy shouts, jumping around and lost in his happiness. The others were gone, but they must be nearby, right? The boy bolts towards The Big Donut, equal parts convenience store, hangout, and place to meet if folks get separated. He couldn't be happier!

"Sadie! Lars!" The boy calls as he charges through the door, running up to the cabinet, and half-scrambling to lay on it with his upper torso. The boy taps on the shoulder of a person behind the counter, who turns to be... sombady. A person of asian descent.

"Hey mister! Is Sadie or Lars working?"


"Sadie and Lars! They work here!"

"No one works here by that name, kid."

Steven backs up some, and looks at the mand with a distant stare. That didn't make sense. Didn't they.. wait. The boy turns and hustles out the door to the boardwalk. Mayor Dewey commonly patrolled there promoting his agenda in his van. That van was unmistakenable, it had a giant Dewey head on it! But as the child approaches the boardwalk, a black van was there, with some distinguished older man, clearly asian, was speaking on behalf of the city. Most of the residents assembled were Japanese as well. "Where is...?" A pause. "Wait, Connie!"

The boy runs to Connie's house, but the door is opened and greeted by another transferred family.

FIsh Stew Pizza? Different restaurant now.

Onion and Sour Cream's house? Yet another transferred family.

"Fine, the Gem Temple it is, Least I know that is... is..." Upon arrival, there is a concave absence under the lighthouse. where something once was, but is there no longer. A tiny hosue is under the large section of cliff, barely two large rooms big, an innocuous mailbox with 'Universe' on it is there beside a small fence. The boy rushes to the exact spot where he knew the Warp Pad was, looking around furiously, digging in what is now sand. But no matter how many tears well up in his eyes nor sand that is uplifted, no dais shows.

Through the windows, some of Steven's small knick-knacks can be seen, displayed around the edges in a loving but saddening fashion. The small child falls to his knees. His chest hurts, his head swims in emotion. He squeaks out a small sentence.

"I-I got left behind..."

COMBAT: Honoka Yukishiro transforms into Cure White!
COMBAT: Nagisa Misumi transforms into Cure Black!
<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

Sourisi blinks in surprise as the doors of the mansion swing inwards, as if they heard her request to Garnet. But for them to swing open like that, without any actual cause and before they could try anything? The mouse-eared Magical Girl grasps her tonfa and slowly makes her way inside. It was obvious they were expected, and likely a trap, but she still enters with the others, a frown on her lips.

The examination of the foyer, and the uninviting tunnel downwards is already rather creepy enough, and the heavy doors slamming shut behind them all made Sourisi jump, too caught up in trying to see where their host or hostess might be. She doesn't even try to help force those doors open, though. She came in here to invesitage this mansion, and the fact someone was trapped inside here made it all that more important to stay. 'A Magical Girl should always help someone in need, no matter what harm comes to them. Not exactly the same as a police officer, but i'm sure it's the same principle!' She chases after Cure Pine and the others, desperate not to be seperated from everyone. This was enemy territory, after all.

The catwalk over a seemingly endless chasm was yet another level in just how creepy this entire manor was, and Sourisi keeps on telling herself it couldn't get any more creepier than this. That is before she comes to a stop and gazes upon Northa, her grip tightening on her tonfa. She dressed elegantly, but...her dress, the imposing stature, the chilling smile on her lips, and the fact she was waiting for them all...this wasn't a monster, or someone with their emotions twisted by an Akuma. This was someone who would gladly let fly Akuma or any number of possible threat upon the innocents of Tokyo without thought, all to see what she desired to happen.

Gulping a deep breath to calm herself, the mouse Magical Girl raises her tonfa in a ready stance, ready to let her tonfa fly forward, but she is too slow to react in time. Her arms was only just raising to swing her arms up to fling her trusty weaponry forward when the dark miasma from the crystal wraps over her, pulling her into a dark abyss.

The sensation of the world twisting dangerously onto its side brings Niramo out of her daze, a hand flinging out to grab onto the cold metal chair next to her the only thing keeping her upright. She slowly sits upright, rubbing her eyes with a black sleeve to clear the gunk out of the corner of her eyes. "Got...to stay awake. Must stay awake..."

Reaching down for a phone, her hand only brushes the black kimono she was wearing, what she have been wearing for what felt like days, but was in truth only a few hours. Opening her eyes barely made any difference in just how dark it was in the room, with her mother having left her side and leaving her only daughter to her thoughts. The rows of metal chairs lay barren and frigid to the touch, but their only resident inside the room doesn't budge.

Tortured thoughts keep Niramo from seeing anything else, but she finally pulls herself free. She has to look again, but it was so painful, every time she gazes upon it. But as if unable to stop sticking her hand into a fire to see if it was hot, Niramo slowly raises her gaze once more. "He...he deserves it...I have to..." She could only hold her gaze for a moment before the tears come again, like they have been all night, and she drops her gaze again, crying her heart out for her.

For only a few meters away was a funeral arragement. Flowers made to help calm the living has no effect on her this evening. In the center of it all was a picture frame of a man, gazing outwards and with a smile forever frozen on his lips. A smile never to be seen again.


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

They didn't even have a chance to knock. The Wind Knight raises her eyebrows, not sure whether this counts as courtesy or discourtesy, but she joins the charge with her other allies. Not running, but walking briskly, staying aware and alert, watching out for traps, ambushes, anything suspicious. At least until the circuit-tunnel opens up before them: that's so out-of-place that the Wind Knight stops and stares, even if only briefly. If she could understand what kind of circuits these were, maybe she could figure out what they do - ?

No. Focus, concentrate on what we're here to do. Her attenton shifts back to Northa, bow and quiver materializing. She doesn't even have time to nock an arrow before the cloud of purple perfume wafts around her and the others....

The first day of high school. A time of new beginnings, even among mostly familiar surroundings, mostly familiar faces. The first day of wearing a new uniform, as well: Fuu's still getting used to the fit of her new blazer and skirt, but she does her best not to fiddle with them as she looks for her class assignment.

And keeps looking.

The class lists are ordered by name, and she can see where she should appear in order, but no matter how hard she looks among the tenth-grade class assignments, none of them appear to include a 'Hououji' in their roster. But that's impossible, right? She did more than adequately on the entrance exam, she passed all of her ninth-grade finals with something akin to flying colors; she should have a place in one of the classes. Right?

Finally, Fuu tries to get a teacher's attention. "Pardon me, Sensei? I can't find the class I should be reporting to ..." Students are already filtering out of the courtyard faster than they're entering the school grounds; while she's not worried about getting a prime seat, Fuu doesn't want to be late. The teacher looks through the pages on his clipboard, pausing on what must be the last page. "Hououji, was it? Report to the faculty lounge."

Something in his tone kicks the struts out from under Fuu's heart, and she tries not to let the sinking feeling show on her face or in her voice. "Thank you, sir," she says with a smile and a polite bow, and heads to the elevator -

"We investigated the anomalies thoroughly, and our conclusion is final. You will no longer be allowed to attend classes at Infinity Institute. There is no place in these hallowed halls for cheaters."

"But ... but I *didn't* cheat!" Fuu protests, despite the chill lancing through her chest. "I did the work honestly, I studied, I didn't do anything wrong!"

"What part of 'our conclusion is final' are you having difficulty understanding, Hououji? We'll expect that uniform back before the end of the day tomorrow."

- and then she's alone in her room, eyes squeezed shut, arms wrapped around her knees as baggy sweatshirt and sweatpants enshroud her form. Her phone lies on the carpet on the far side of the room; she isn't sure if she cracked the screen or not, but she couldn't bear to tell any of her former classmates that she was expelled on a false charge of cheating.

The screen lights up, the chirps of a familiar ringtone playing from the speaker. If it were any other ringtone - any other caller - she would leave it, but she knows the ringtone she set for when Ferio calls her. She almost doesn't get to the phone before it goes to voice mail -

"What ... ?"

- she should have expected something was up when Ferio asked to meet her at this cafe, of all places. It's slightly notorious as a date spot, not the kind of place Fuu would go, not the kind of place she'd expect Ferio to go either. But the girl who's snuggled against Ferio's side, her shoulders under his arm - this is entirely her kind of place. Her sleek black hair and violet eyes are almost familiar, too ...

"I didn't think you were this stupid, Fuu," Ferio says archly, his free hand picking up his cup to sip at his tea. "I said, this is my new girlfriend. I figured you should at least know why I'm not going out with you any more."

If the feeling of her heart sinking were literal, Fuu's heart would be somewhere below the sewers by now. "But you can't - we still need you, Ferio. *I* still need you." Her gaze flicks to the raven-haired girl, briefly meeting the haughty, defiant look in the other girl's eyes. "Does she even -"

"Know about Cephiro?" The black-haired girl finally speaks, her lips quirking into a smile that's just short of an open sneer. "Oh yes, that fantasy land you made up where he's the prince who saves you when you get in over your head. Puh-*lease*, little girl, grow up. Delusions like that should be thrown away before you're out of eighth grade."

No longer sinking, but stabbed and shattering. Numbness roars up around Fuu as she stares open-mouthed at Ferio and his 'new girlfriend'; for a moment, recognition finally sets in, a recollection of black leather and sorcerous ice - but that's impossible, right? Alcyone *died*, Zagato killed his own minion for her failures.

"If you feel that bad about it, Fuu, you can always sit at the counter; I'm sure some guy'll be happy to catch you on the rebound." Ferio sips his tea again, his eyes wandering over the girl pressing against his side. "If they care at all for an Infinity drop-out, anyway ... I mean, that's less embarassing than getting kicked out for cheating, right?"

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

Everyone heads inside, and the mansion doors slam behind them. Jupiter whirls around, tense and ready for a fight, but she isn't quite ready for Northa and all her Beryl-esque self-possession. Or, more accurately, she's not prepared for the fog of despair that she sends drifting over the group, leading them into an illusory world...

"Mmm... nnh... huh...?" Makoto mumbles, lifting her head from her desk. "Oh, I must've fallen asleep... Geez, that's no good, they're posting exam results today..."

Her steps echo endlessly through the hallways. There's nothing wrong here. The school crowds part for her and whispers chase in her wake. There's nothing wrong here. Her grades are posted for all to see, so horrible that there's a note circled in red about how she'll have to repeat a grade. There's nothing wrong here.

Yes. This is all completely normal. After all, Makoto's a stupid failure, a reject, an ugly, unlovable tomboy. This is how it's always been.

This is completely normal.

She clutches her chest and staggers back. The school seems to deform around her. It's all in her head. Ami and Usagi stand in front of the test results; they look at each other, smiles bright.

"I'm so proud of you, Usagi-chan! All your hard work and studying's really paid off! Now we'll be able to attend Juuban High School together next year!" Ami says warmly.

"Ehehe~" Usagi laughs. "I'm so proud of us, Ami-chan! Now we can all go to high school together! You and me and Rei-chan and Minako-chan, all of us together!"

Ami's expression clouds, and she glances ever so subtly towards Makoto. "Oh... but what about..."

Usagi looks at Makoto too. Then she laughs, as carefree and cheerful as ever. "Oh, sorry, sorry! I totally wasn't clear there, Ami-chan.

"Now everyone who matters can go to high school together. <3"

"Oh!" Ami brightens, giggling. "Yes, you're so right, Usagi-chan! I'm looking forward to it. It's time to move on into the future and shuck off unnecessary loads!"

"I'm ready to shuck off my load of homework," Usagi complains as she strolls off, arms folded behind her head.

"Now, now, Usagi-chan, we'll have to study even harder than ever once we're high schoolers."

"Eeehhhh? But I haaaaate studyiiiiiing! Let's go get crepes to celebrate!

"Ahaha, fine, fine..."

Their voices fade as they leave to get delicious food and cherish their friendship together. Makoto is left behind on her hands and knees.

Drop by drop, saltwater stains the tiles beneath her.

<Pose Tracker> Cure White [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.



Fairies make a really distinctive sound whenever they pop into being alongside you. Mepple and Mipple both poof, but Fresh Precure's linkruns... there's something metallic to them. They chime.

Honoka, alone in her room far too early in the day -- no club anymore, and a harsh curfew -- is seated at her desk. Long since out of homework, she's moved on to more complex books, but she's continuously distracted by the march of the shadows along the wall. When they abruptly turn red, she jerks her head up. Hair swirls as she turns to look behind her.

Her vividly blue eyes are grave when, a moment later, she understands the meaning of this visit. And -- heedless of the shouted objections from the porch -- she slips on her shoes and breaks into a run before she's even left her own yard.


It takes Pretty Cure a little longer to get where they're going when they can't transform. And these woods are horrible at the best of times; even at midsummer their foliage blots out the sun and its warmth, and March is far damper, chillier. Honoka's teeth chatter in her mouth, but she keeps her head down and pushes forward, forces herself to stay upright.

She falls twice, running across broken, rain-slick ground, and arrives at the gates muddied, bedraggled.

It doesn't matter.

Because they've arrived at the same time.

<Pose Tracker> Cure White [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.


White petals fall like grains of rice.

The air is heavy, and heavier still through lungs encased in whalebone.

The gown is the embodiment of luxury; all the magnificence that a pair of art dealers could buy.

The two of them blend into the sea of faces. Everyone's so happy.

Her palm -- the empty palm, the one not carrying the bouquet or wearing the ring -- falls against the curve of her belly.

He feels happy too.

The priest clears his throat, calling her attention upwards, to the man standing across from her.

"You may now kiss the bride."

<Pose Tracker> Cure Black [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

"Hmm hmmm hmm-hmm..." Nagisa is humming to herself as she sits at her desk. She has just finished a two-page letter (this girl who procrastinates and fails to write even a paragraph for school) in pink marker, and she's signing her name.

"You should be an idol, Nagisa-mepo!" Mepple comments sourly on the humming, which has been going on cheerfully for an hour.

"Really?" Nagisa is briefly distracted. "I don't know if I could handle the stage like that, but..."

"Really-mepo! You'd make the other idols feel better about themselves mepo!"

"Biii..." Nagisa only dignifies that by pulling down her eyelid rudely. Turning back to the letter, she adds a squiggly underline for emphasis, which she regards with an artist's canny appraisal, tongue sticking from the corner of her mouth, before adding two more beneath it, for enthusiasm. Perfect, but...

"I need to add some stickers though. Or maybe a drawing? What do you think Honoka-chan would like?"

*ping* An image of Cure Black pops into Nagisa's head, which she distractedly takes as an answer.

"Eeeh? Isn't that kind of against the rules? I guess I'm in trouble if anyone sees this, anyway..."

The mental image of Cure Black is squished right up against Nagisa's brain, the way a little kid will shove a toy at you.

"All right, all right!" Nagisa concedes bashfully. "Ehehe, will that really make her happy? I'll see if I can sketch it first..."

The picture of Cure Black in Nagisa's head is shaking hard like a snowglobe, hundreds of Cure Blacks now bouncing around in her mind, and Nagisa yelps and falls out of her chair as she tries to stand up.

"Does that sound like me-mepo!"

Akarun floats nearby, making little peeps and urgent noises. Mepple has his arms folded resentfully.

Peeking over her chair as she uses it for cover, Nagisa stares at Akarun. "Whoa! W-what do you want?"

Nagisa sees a rainbow pour down over her and Honoka as if a bucket of it was upended on them. That's not exactly how it works, but her eyes widen all the same.



"Honoka!" Nagisa's joy at seeing her partner is so intense that it might seem to a third party that they'd been separated for a long time. It's true that Honoka's mother has placed a wall between them, but that has little to do with it. Nagisa's just has a canine sense of time when it comes to being parted from Honoka, lately, and a canine excess of delight when they are reunited. Nothing actually happened.

Everything happened.

Grass-stained, damp of brow, but bright of smile, Nagisa jogs up to meet her partner.

And soon enough all is right: their hands entwine. They call the rainbow.


The wedding invitation had been unexpected. The wedding, of course, Nagisa had known about for a while now. Masaru Fujimura and Honoka Yukishiro (in that order), the proudest children of Juuban, together inevitably and forever. Him. With her. Forever.

Nagisa drops the invitation directly from the mailbox and into the trash without opening it.

That night, she sneaks out of her room in her pajamas and tries to fish it out. She ends up needing to knock the can over and pull out bags with one hand while using her cell phone flashlight in the other.

"Could we go together?" Nagisa calls Mayu Kashiwada on the phone. "I'm just..."

The line is quiet.

"My mom." Mayu sounds a little horrorstruck. "What would she think about that?"

"Don't girls go to weddings together all the time?"

The line is quiet for a while. "You're not a girl, Nagisa."

Nagisa puts the invitation in her room's trash bin. But by tomorrow night, and for each night after, it ends up lying on her bed by the time she falls asleep each night, each time in a different position.

* * *

"You may now kiss Honoka," the priest says.

* * *

At the reception, there are hundreds of round white tables, and only one with a black tablecloth. Nagisa sits alone there. No one speaks to her. Many look.

Whenever it seems that Honoka's blue-violet eyes will meet Nagisa's amber, they skitter off each other like wet stones. It is literally impossible for them to look at each other.

Masaru visits her, bowtie askew, handsome and tall enough that he should play basketball instead of baseball.

"Honoka-chan got you to invite me, didn't she?" Nagisa asks.

Masaru laughs. "I had to convince /Honoka/," he says, against the backdrop of Honoka's icy, resentful profile in the distance. He places a hand on Nagisa's table.

"I can convince Honoka to do anything."

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Somewhere a gull cries.

Nori sits in the swelterous room. The air is not that bad, in an objective sense; it is an aggressive neutrality, the air of a place that should be hot year-round but is, by some quirk, not hot today; leaving not cool, or a different season, but a simple blankness. Outside the sun is bright, leaking painfully through the cracks.

She sits at a bench and she waits. The sun has moved in the sky as she sat and turned her hands over and wondered at what there had been and what there would be. She had dozed, but how often and how many times? Where are they? she thinks, though it is not sure to her mind just who 'they' are, in truth, right now.

Somewhere a record is playing. An actual record; it is haunting in its distance, but the faint scratches of something played with a curious listlessness permeates the air.

"Young lady," someone says. Nori turns her head to look at the man, wearing his slightly shabby but prideful uniform. He looks like a military officer, she thinks, in his red coat.

The man comes to her, bearing a small and gradiated amount of sympathy. "Gather your belongings, miss. We have found your parents, and we shall return you to them, shortly."

But, Nori thinks, "I don't want to go back to them."

The face of the man in the red coat glazes over, frost slipping across a deep-forest pond. "Please come along and we will take you there. There will be a short ride, across the bay." He smiles, without humor. "That will be fun, won't it?"

A helpless pricking and tightening comes to Nori's eyes. "I don't want to go back to them! I don't! I want to stay here! This is where I belong!"

Whatever sympathy the man in the red coat bore is gone now. His voice raises, slightly more than it must, but enough to satisfy him. "YOUNG LADY," he says, "you do not BELONG here."

"I love this place!" Nori cries.

"It does not love you. Come along now," the man says.

The helpless feeling of tears unshed fills Nori, swamping her. She thinks of a drowned city, and maybe she dreamed it.

Words come, over that distant public address system, even as a record ends. 'You don't have to go back... They'll tell you you do, but...!'

A cloud passes over the sun even as the man in a red coat reaches for Nori's wrist. The hand circles round her but she slaps it away, saying with a quavering tension, "Don't touch me."

The cloud passes, and the sun grows brighter outside. Perilously bright. It fills the vision, a painful arc that makes the shadows wither inside of the covered space where Nori Ankou had been standing. As the light brightens, her eyes squeeze shut, wet with tears. The man in the red coat, she does not see, and perhaps that is for the best.

"I didn't come here to take a vacation," Nori says, her eyes still shut. "I had to come here; it was coming here or going nowhere at all. And you tell me that it doesn't love me...?"

The eye-searing blue light, coming from no Earthly star, fades. It shades to gray and cools. The clouds are rolling in, heavy and dark. Soon enough the storm-light rises, and that is when Nori's eyes open.

There is nobody in front of her.

She reaches into the old battered knapsack which had only one thing in it, in the final analysis. At first, it looks like a ruined treasure. Then the black glass within gleams...

COMBAT: Nori Ankou transforms into La Sirene de Diamant!
<Pose Tracker> Anthy Himemiya [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The Rose Bride follows Kasagami Araki into the mansion, letting the rustle of layered skirts speak where she does not. The surroundings get strange and she shows no reaction, gliding with untouched serenity (or is it apathy? How different are they, really?) past the tunnel entrance and then its esoteric circuitry.

Northa waits for them inside, and if anyone happens to be watching the Rose Bride when she speaks, it is then that they'd see the blank page of her expression crinkle slightly. Her pupils dilate and at the back of her neck, the lightest pebbling of gooseflesh rises.

These are small signs, but true signs: a short and fearful sentence plainly printed amongst thousand lines of ciphers and riddles written in languages dead and gone. She moves half a step closer to Kasagami Araki, almost crowding her. The Bride feels... small, in a way that she does not normally feel small.

Within her own personal kingdom of despair, she may seem small day by day (and that is by design), but Anthy Himemiya paces through bullying, ostracization and far worse knowing that it is all part of the game she and her brother play. This is not Ohtori. Northa belongs to the world outside of the Rose Bride's demesne, an alien realm that frightens the girl in the red ballgown - and the power rolling off of her does, too.

The purple crystal shines in Northa's hand, and the whole gathering gets engulfed in billowing perfume. All around the Rose Bride, the assembled magical girls and boy pass into the cloud and out of sight. It occludes even the Engaged, despite how close the Bride has crept to her protector.

The Bride blinks, long and slow, all by herself in a haze of perfume. The despair Northa has crafted slips over and around the girl in the ballgown, but it does not touch her.

For the Rose Bride does have her own demesne of despair: one she lives in every single day. Even Northa's power cannot conjure a nightmare greater than the one Anthy has created for herself.

She wanders into the featureless mist a few halting steps, sees a dark shape ahead, and moves toward it-

-and it is Kasagami, but there is something different about her.

The mystical and emotional confidence that springs from her Engagement has drained from her limbs, and every piece of her is downcast. And Touga is there, too, and the rose seal on her hand is shattered...

...and the Bride watches with tilted head as a movie of despair plays out for her. But the jeering crowds of her nightmare bother the Bride too much. It's always crowds with Araki-sama, and these began faceless. She keeps walking.

The mists rise around her again, and again, she sees a dark shape and walks toward it-

-and it is Steven Universe, the boy who loves roses, wandering from door to door in a town he doesn't know any more, calling for people who are no longer there.

-and it is an orange-haired girl looking inside an empty locket.

-and it is Fuu meeting a man and his girlfriend at a cafe, a stricken look on her face.

Expulsions and graves and funerals, failures and the tears that come with them... the girl in the red gown and the golden crown wanders through all of these foggy vignettes, and through the fog itself between. She does not recognize many of those involved, but she recognizes their pain.

She does not shed a single tear. The Rose Bride has enough pain of her own; she does not admit that of others to her labyrinthine emotional landscape. But she does feel alone, and lost, and wonders who or what she might meet next in the mists.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

When did it happen? There's a slick, awful feeling at the back of Setsuna's throat as Northa is there so close, as she presses her cheek to hers. Just being near her is bad enough normally, but this is different, an awful parody of affection. ...Daughter, the letter called her. And here she is. With... This.

That grin. It's in Setsuna's stomach, too. "That--" People she cares about. ...Here, in so much danger, because of her. What hope do any of them have? ...What hope is there? Drip, drip, drip, the Gauge goes.

Northa is stepping away. "T-that's not--"

Even that little defiance is too much energy, but Setsuna does not look away. She still knows how to follow instructions... Unless it's because she can't tear her eyes away from seeing all of them, from the last glimpse she has. She doesn't know which it is. She can't hang onto that thought, even. She just watches, muscles tight, head swimming, feeling so, so heavy and lgiht at the same time in how awful, how inevitably awful it is.


...And it changes, for each of them. Somehow, Setsuna sees it all. She could not say what comes first or last, could not say with the feeling she has of floating here, trapped. But that's not because it doesn't happen. ...Despair's just long-tread territory for hers--her own, and others'. Northa's presence, Northa's voice, savages her nerves further. THey're going to defeat themselves. Desolation... Without a future. She knows that feeling. She knows that feeling intimately well, so well that it hurts worse, a dull ache, at hearing for the others. She doesn't want to see.

She sees.

'Buki is going to be late. Setsuna blinks for a moment, seeing that, finding it to be a strange moment of domesciticy... until Buki suddenly looks sad, and she doesn't know why. She puts the picture down, and Setsuna's lips part for a moment. "What..." A family she knows talks. There is something wrong. Makeup exams? An empty field. ...Setsuna feels a chill. It feels like 'Buki is talking directly to her.

...She sees the reading on the momument, and though she thought she was out of tears, this pierces straight through to her heart. What she said to her. What she knew to her. ...What this places her dear friend in. It's--

"...No! 'Buki, no!"

Lera is wearing a heavy coat. She is uniform, a uniform vaguely familiar to Setsuna. She watches her, with that locket that means nothing, hears her name. She.. promised? "I--I did, I--" Lera's despair, too, opens itself before Setsuna. Her own defeat, her own loneliness. Lera doesn't want to forget. But she wanted--...What Setsuna wanted.

"No..." Setsuna squeezes her eyes shut for an instant, shakes her head. "You're not! You never would be! Never!"

She can still see Lera, no matter what she's mired in here. She can see how it's changed her, how heavy she feels. "Lera..."

Kasagami. ...She doesn't know Kasagami as well, but she knows the featureless nature of faces in a crowd well, so many that aren't recognized that just look like they start to blend together, uncaring at best. She knows loneliness among so many people. ...Talk of what a girl can or can't do does not reach Setsuna. But this girl, amidst the gossip, thrown out of the place she calls home. Losing someone she cares for, losing... A dream. What's the dream?

"...It's not too late," Setsuna finds herself murmuring to her. Her own despair she can't face. But this girl's, "...I was against the people I cared about, too..."

Steven is in an unfamiliar city to her, familiar to him. There are other people ther. ...But not the ones he hopes for. He goes home, and everything is different. He goes home, and it is not his home, and she knows that ache, too, and her heart aches for his. ...He could be any number of the children she tormented for this awful Gauge. "...But you're still here..."

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Sourisi. Sourisi came with the others. ...But it's Niramo Setsuna sees in this new place. The rows of metal chairs are unkind. Featureless, it seems, alike one another, making the place seem less cozy, more impersonal, whatever it is. ...But it becomes a picture. A parent. A lost parent. "...It... It's not right, to do this to you..."

It's hard for Setsuna not to have seen Fuu, here and there. The time she spends in Infinity is more than enough. She saw a Knight, in the mansion, but now she sees a forgotten girl, with no place of her own here. Accused of something? ...Something maybe she didn't even do. Setsuna sees baggy clothes, the way Fuu wraps about herself. She can't even contact anyone. There's a ringtone...

"...That's so cruel," she says. "Don't... Don't listen. If you know it's true..."

Makoto. Makoto, at her own school. She can't even enjoy seeing the reprieve of its familiar halls. ...Not even before she sees those awful grades. Not even before she sees people she knows wouldn't react that way laugh at Makoto, laugh at this gentle girl who forgave her, knowing the things she's done, who even before that fought so hard--fought her--for

"That's not true!" she calls. "They wouldn't--I've seen you with them, that's not who they are!"

Ordinarily, even seeing Nagisa brightens Setsuna. ...She can't really brighten, not in this awful place. Her arms ache, being held up like this. Her body aches from how much her heart aches. She feels lost, in misery. But there is Nagisa. ...Setsuna has seen weddings before. She has vivid recollections of one that she interrupted with her Nakewameke, when she called herself Eas, Denizen of Labyrinth. The invitation is easy to link to the experience. She stares, confused, when she reads it essentially over Nagisa's shoulder. That's not right. That's not--

"What? But of course you are..." Not a girl? Why? Why, would her friend say that? It's a horror that would be worse, if Setsuna understood it. ...She can understand Nagisa's reaction regardless. Over and over.

No one speaks to her. She's alone. Bright, energetic Nagisa is left alone, black amidst white, and she is apart from Honoka. It is... Wrong. This boy. This wedding. Them being apart. ...The implication of Honoka being unwilling to--

"But the two of you... Together, you're..." An inspiration. She keeps watching, unable to look away. ...What she sees when the screen shows her Honoka chills her. It is implication, guesses, she does not entirely know what she sees, but she sees that it is wrong, it is prison, it is--It's--

"That's not how it should be," she says, shaking her head, tears still in her eyes though by now it hurts even to think about crying. 'Convince.' "...No! This... This isn't right! It's not true! She's just making you see awful things, taking you apart!"

She calls at nothing. She cannot remain silent, regardless. At each of the images she cries out, in her own prison watching everyone else in so much pain. ...That she does not see images of the Rose Bride she does not comprehend. She does not think of it. She thinks of these--friends, and those who could be friends, and more importantly than that people of this world--

"She's just... stopping you from seeing how wonderful things can be..."

Setsuna can't talk anymore. She sags in her restraints, and the Fuko Gauge drips along behind her as she stares into that strange window and her heart breaks for all of them.

<Pose Tracker> Northa [None] has posed.

Northa, leaving her poison to do its work, has faded backwards down the catwalk, back towards her prisoner, one presumes. And indeed she is there for a moment, though not bothering to look at Setsuna directly; her attention is fixated instead on the drip-drip-drip rising Fuko Gauge.

"They can't hear you," she smirks, finally, before vanishing into thin air.

But she's wrong.

They can all hear Setsuna, even if it's just an echo of an echo on the breeze. Her words may be faint but her passion is not -- she may grieve, but it burns like fire within them, the love that fuels the pain.

It is real.

Love is real.


And on the other side of the fractured vision, the mansion -- the secret base, really, there's barely a hint of a mansion here -- comes back into focus. The massive abyss on either side of the catwalk induces vertigo in even the strongest stomachs, but there are only a few running steps to go to get to the middle.

The middle, where the Fuko Gauge awaits... and more.

No one outside of Labyrinth has ever seen it before, so it's worth a little extra consideration: imagine a laboratory pipette, a glass cylinder, far taller than it is wide.

Then make it endlessly long, vanishing into darkness below and above, and entirely full of sickly yellow fluid that the eyes, the nose, the mind instinctively rejects. It's hard to look at it directly in exactly the same way that it's hard to look at a person quietly suffering on a park bench or at the end of a train. It's painful, embarrassing. Despair is not something easily witnessed, especially in such profound quantities.

Despair is not unfamiliar to magical girls, even weaponized, but this -- this is something else. There's so much of it. The Fuko Gauge... it's so full. And everyone recognizes, with a pang, that they contributed to this immense collection. In the last few seconds, yes, but also many times before. Nakewameke schemes, certainly -- but Labyrinth has been collecting all despair. Nakewameke just generate more, faster.

The girl strung, strapped to the glass wall by tangled green vines is contributing too, of course. It's Setsuna, in the fullness of her misery, and the dial above her head ticks in time with her heartbeat.

OOC: Again inviting essentially two parts to your pose, which is why I've added a separator to mine -- hearing Setsuna is the
beginning of realizing that this is a trick, a fake nightmarish illusion, and breaking out of it; and then, once you're out, you
see the Fuko Gauge and Setsuna and can reunite with her (and each other). This will, for time reasons, be the last round of the
night; we will reconvene Sunday at 7pm EST!

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

The locket snaps closed in Lera's hand, and she sniffs. She tries to stop herself from crying and it only works halfway. Tears roll down her cheeks, dropping onto the floor, and leave lines on her face. She reaches a hand up, and her too-heavy sleeve wipes at her face. She takes a few steps forward. A waste, she thinks.

'I--I did, I--'

It isn't uncommon for her to think that she hears Setsuna's voice. But, with her gone, she knows it to be a cruel trick of her mind. Her booted feet stop walking and she looks down. Her fingers clench, at her side, until her knuckles whiten. "S-Stop..."

'No... You're not!'

"Stop," she whispers, harsher than before. Tears start welling again in her eyes. "If you're really gone, then I--I what do I have left? I--"

'You never would be! Never!'

She looks, sharply, and Lera's eyes are wide. She blinks, tears running down her cheeks. It isn't, exactly, a clear and true realization -- it isn't piercing the veil, spotting the inconsistencies, or any such thing. It's a voice and a name, one that Lera has whispered, laughed, sighed, and loved. She looks up more, at a ceiling that starts to fade away as the illusion breaks apart, and a few rays of sunlight shine down onto her tear-streaked face.


The vision breaks, as she cries that word out, and she finds herself in the mansion again -- still with tears in her eyes, but she shakes her head and blinks them away. Her fingers tighten, around a hilt that she had forgotten was there. Soaring Sky says nothing, but the pulse of red light is warm, against the sickly light of the Fuko Gauge. She stares at it for a moment, and then at the vines. She remembers those vines well.

And, of course, the girl wrapped in them. Lera swings Soaring Sky up, with a small flourish, clutching the sword's hilt in both hands. The blade points out, directly towards the Gauge, and her eyes fall on Setsuna. A rush of emotions run through her, crashing together like waves, mixing together until she isn't sure what she feels.

But she is glad that she does. "I... I heard you," she calls out. "I heard you! I'm not--I told you I'd follow you anywhere! I love you! I'm not--I'm not letting it end here, not like this! SETSUNA!"

Light flashes out from her, in a ring from her feet. It sends her hair flying back, as she prepares to rush rigth in.

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

'That's so cruel. Don't... Don't listen. If you know it's true...'

Cruel, yes, crueler than she believed Ferio could be - than she believes he can be. He called her an idiot once, but to lean into it like this, to wield it against her ... that's not Ferio. And the desire not to listen is oh so strong, but what else is there to hear? The jeers and mockery of people who should have been her classmates -

She didn't cheat. She *KNOWS* she didn't cheat. She remembers the day of entrance exams: she needed another tissue, but it would have meant reaching into her bag, and she *dared not* even make a move towards it because it would have been taken as trying to do something that she didn't *want* to do - didn't *need* to do - and even if she'd been desperate beyond all bounds to make sure she got an answer right, what of her pride? Because she *does* take pride in her honesty and her skill. To cheat on a test stains the resultant grade, no matter how many points you protect by your subterfuge.

She didn't cheat. She shouldn't have been expelled. But more than that -

Ferio would never betray her. They may be young, clumsy yet with their true feelings, but their love is real.

Fuu Hououji closes her eyes, and breathes out.

She breathes in deeply, breathes out again.

She breathes in one more time, and the Magic Knight of Wind opens her eyes -

March. Still in ninth grade, finals still ahead. The mansion, the bizarre circuit-like architecture, the vertiginous catwalk, and beyond - how did she *not* see that earlier - the Fuko Gauge, a pillar of concentrated

If she looks down at the catwalk, she can't help but see the void yawning beneath. If she looks to the sides, nothingness. Straight ahead, upwards, that bilious pillar of despair, concentrated into a physical form and gradually filling that infinite vial, measured by a single gauge.


No. She *can* look at something. She can look at *someone* - and she looks about herself, at other someones. "Lera-san, Steven-san, Jupiter-san ... Sourisi-san, Kasagami-san ... Everyone. We're still here. We're still together!"

In the grip of her own despair, her will to fight smothered in a toxic cloud of purple fumes, her weapons had vanished; now, her will rekindled, her bow flares back into existence in her left hand; the quiver reappears across her back, a ribbon serving as a strap diagonally across her chest. The Wind Knight grasps her bow tightly, her right hand coming up to finger the bowstring, to test its presence and strength, before she reaches back over her shoulder for an arrow.

"Hang on a moment longer, Setsuna-san; we'll get you out of there!" she calls out - and if there's a little extra emphasis on the 'we,' why shouldn't there be? After all, magical girls are at their strongest side-by-side - and beyond that, she knows her allise well enough to trust them, to believe in their power much as her belief fuels her own magic.

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

Where did he go wrong? Were the Gems jsut trying to keep him safe? If so, where was Dad? Would he be here? Or did they leave him behind because he was some sort of strange creature they no longer wanted to associate with? A hybrid that goes against nature? Did he disappoint them in some way? Has he been shunned, exiled?

THe thoughts, once they arrive, do not go away, but just fester and grow worse, each larger and more profound and more painful than the last. Steven eventually finds himself laying face down in the sand, waiting for, and hoping for, something bad to happen to him, though it seemed destiny was content to just let him rot.

Or perhaps it had a plan, but patience was needed. After a time, the boy slowly raises up. Sand and debris stick to his tear soaked face. He thought he heard someone. A look around reveals nothing, but... "Who...?" comes out, sniffling and trying to wipe his nose. Again, the voice plays out, drifting on the seaward wind. It was familiar. The boy holds his head, reeling from... something. It wasn't a headache. More like a flood of thought.

The boy looks down to where his face was plastered in the sand, and begins to almost autonomously draw something. It ends with the face of a girl. A very familiar girl. "S... Set... Uhn..?" Then it hits him. This was wrong. The voice said he was still here. But where is here? Is it not here here? No! He went to Tokyo, he moved... right?! He met friends, fought battles, even went to school and met magical friends!

The boy looks around, bewildered. This was wrong, incorrect.

And the illusion finally abates. Where the Gem Door in the back of the beach house was, an opening appears. Long, narrow, and dark. "What is... Uh?!" The boy lets out. Something pushes him from behind. "Lion!" The boy exclaims, turning to see the feline headbutting him from the back. The boy buries his face in Lion's mane for a second, enjoying the warm fuzzy goodness. Goodness that was real. Not fake. "Where is... I don't..."

Lion pushes him toward the opening. One that seems to be slowly rolling back farther and farther. "We... We need to go!" he says, getting up, and heading toward it as fast as he can. He wants out of whatever this was. Or wasn't, rather.

Out of the vision Steven spills, still looking visibly upset. "I-I hope that never happens," Steven says quietly. The boy looks around, to see others springing out of a possibly similar situation. Ahead lies a strange sinister device, and a familiar girl for all intensive purposes strapped to it. "Set... Passion," he says, wiping the remnants of tears away. "Plants just don't seem to like you," he adds, trying to lighten the mood. Somehow. A tiny bit of laughter goes a long way, though he himself isnt laughing. "Thank you. I... We will get you out!"

"Everyone okay I hope?" he asks those assembling. "We have to push on. For her sake," The boy looks back towards Setsuna.

<Pose Tracker> Cure Pine [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Eventually she ran out of things to talk about. Not much was going on in her life anyhow - not anymore. A tissue mops up her face, and she hoists her bag back on her shoulder. As she mumbles - "Sorry... always... take up too much of your time..." Sniffling, she drags herself up to her feet. And reaches for her phone - no longer a Linkrun - just a phone, at the new message waiting for her. "I really should send an answer..."

She doesn't though, she thumbs over to the text message section for both Love and Miki - and starts tapping out.

I was waiting for you both to

And then she starts deleting it.

I was thinking how much I missed you both t

And starts deleting it.

Maybe sometime we should

She looks at the last message activity - eight months.

Slowly she stops - and deletes it.

Cradling her cell phone between her hands she just feels so...

...No! 'Buki, no!

The words jolt her a little, "Setsuna?" She looks up - then over at the grave. Then she smiles to herself, "It's funny... it's almost like I can still hear her..."

But her expression looks uncertain. 'buki was always mired in uncertainty, lacking confidence in her own perceptions. But-

"That's definitely..."

Suddenly as if a mad fever overcame her, she kneels down, and began to tear away at the dirt with her fingers, digging at it as if she were a dog digging up flower beds, grunting and panting as she threw aside clod after clod, getting dirt in her fingertips - all over her. There was something almost animalistic in her fervor. She didn't slow.

She didn't stop.

Now that she's made a decision she didn't doubt.

The alternative was too horrific.

She's not too far under when her fingernail thunks against something hard, and she rips her Linkrun out of the dirt. And now she cries again, a moment of release in the realization that everything she'd seen and experienced was just some horrible vision. There's little triumph - just relief. Relief when it came to so many things in her life. But one thing in particular, "I still have time..."

As it enters into her hand, a fey key - Kirun - shakes off some dirt, and floats up by her.

The world around her takes on a tint as if having been put in a greyscale filter - then fractures into so many spidery cracks - before breaking like glass and the glass dissolving like so many droplets of rain.

Even back in the mansion Pine cries for a moment longer, before wiping her eyes against the yellow sleevelet. "... to save her."

Climbing back to her feet - she doesn't call out defiance to Northa. Indeed after what Northa did to her she still feels so fragile right now - seeing the Fuku cylinder stand tall with so much weaponized despair taking even more of her breath away but she does call out one thing, "Setsuna - I'm coming - we're coming for you!"

And in that moment, she blurts out something in her profound relief in being released from the horror, "Because I'm not alone!" And as she takes up a stance - ready to thrust herself into battle, "And neither are you! I'll never ever let you feel that way again!"

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

It burns. It burns and burns and burns in an entirely ethereal way that even Kasagami isn't familiar with. Like every mistake, every moment of weakness she's had is being judged and writ upon her flesh. Her mind imagines such horrors, the kind of failures that someone so pure and dutiful as Sailor Pluto would imagine to inflict upon her. If her dreams ran out of control, if she became a true Tyrant. That little fear lurking in the back of her heart, not even yet realized even if others do, haunts her. But most of all?

To lose her lovers. To fall by their hands. To be tossed out, ridiculed, and regarded as a mere girl rather than a woman who would be King.

Dark souls lash across her body, and she screams and writhes in place. But then a voice pierces the hateful agony. 'It's not too late'.

'I was against the people I cared about too'.

She barely knows the young woman, but the voice is familiar. Someone both so far away and yet striking that little part of her head makes the foul dream shudder. A single eye goes wide, and then, weak knees find strength.

One boot finds the ground cleanly within the dream. Her coat, her clothes, her body, her soul burns away by baleful dead in the dream, but that voice is guiding. There's no end. No pain. And it brings the illusion to an end all at once, as Kasagami's eyes snap open.

'It's not too late'.

Her Dream is still within reach. Her lovers, her desire for a pure world, and of true Revolution. She gazes into the eyes of the dream Pluto, and wraps her arms around the spectre. And she smiles.


~Dark Mansion~

The steps of the Rose Bride awake her physically, but it's the words of Setsuna in her heart that makes her ambitions and ridiculous dreams draw her from the depths of Despair. A single fist rises, as another elbow pushes her up. And then slams down wit enough force to dent the catwalk she had passed out on! Muscles flex, and she draws up, boots into the air and her body screaming. It's her bad arm. Every nerve is on fire, but the pure pain helps her focus. Her face flushes red, in shame, in anger, in pure indignation.

Her eye glances from the young woman who woke her up, to that massive tank, back to Anthy. She hangs there a second, and pushes off. With an arcing flip into the air, boots land just mere inches before Anthy, and sweat drips from her brow. Roughly, she wipes it off, and moves to press Anthy behind her.

A few exhausted sucks of air, and she grins back to Anthy. "...Didn't I tell you to stay by my side, Anthy? Check the wax in your ears or something!" She laughs. It's a weak thing, but exuding a certain amount of control and arrogance is a comfort. And then sharp eyes turn finally to Northa.

She then crosses her legs, leans back, and points straight at the frightening Executive. "I don't know who you are, and frankly, I don't care one bit! How dare you spit upon my dreams! Upon the dreams of those who came for that girl!" Rages Kasagami. She might not be an ally to all of those here, but she can respect the power of an ambitious dream.

"A King is one who shepherds a Kingdom with the brightest dreams! Who gathers the strong, the ambitious, the genius and talented beneath her to lead this rotten world into prosperity! Your crimes are heavy! So start by releasing that girl, and maybe we'll show you mercy!" Calls out Kasagam imperiously. Standing proud and tall, her coat billows behind her.

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

Unfortunately, the target of Kasagami's ire is utterly gone by the time she's howling to a cruel world. There's a visible twitch of her brow. Blink. Blink blink. She tries to save her dignity by turning to Setsuna. Her gaze falls flat. Tch.

Arms cross. "...This world might be a horrible husk, but those with dreams that surpass the ordinary keep it afloat! Believe in yourself, and the power of your dreams!"

<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

Tears continue to fall down streaked cheeks, and sobs were the only sound that echo in this room. There hasn't been a single sound beyond what Niramo has made herself since she started her wake, but the whispers of a girl makes Niramo look up from her lap, looking around and desperately not looking at the arrangement for her father. "Who's there?" Taking in a deep breath to calm her nerves, she looks down at her kimono again, but the words she thought she heard... "...not right...it's not right, to lose my dad..."

She rubs at her face with her kimono, trying to wipe away any traces of her latest crying fit when the voice echoes out once again, clearer. It wasn't anyone she heard before, and not a member of her family she knew. So why did it sound so familiar?

'That's not how it should be."

Niramo looks behind her, towards the open doorway that shed faint light upon the rows of chairs arranged for the wake, but no one was there. "But...who...? What do you mean?" There just wasn't anyone there, but...why was she hearing a girl's voice? A girl crying out desperately, as if she understood the same ache Niramo herself feels? But it was the next words that makes her jump, in fright and...surprised understanding.

'...right! It's not true!'

Niramo looks around herself, trying to remember who has shown up at the wake. Did...no one come? Her mom was here, but the police officers, her dad's coworkers...there wasn't a single one there, despite the wake. That wasn't right. Turning around slowly, she gazes once more on the picture of her father, but instead of breaking into tears once more, she focuses on the details...and realizes something.

Her dad wasn't in his uniform in this picture, and he took such great pride in it. And there was no way her mother would have the memorial picture of her father not be him in uniform.

Tears started to drop from tender eyes once more, but the cause for them was much different this time. "You're not dead...I actually got to have dinner with you last night...dad, you're not dead!" A tender smile slowly graced her lips, and the young girl rose from her cold, unyielding chair. "You're not dead...I'll stop by the station tonight, dad. You need to eat a proper meal again."

With that promise, Niramo turns around and walks calmly to the exit, blinking away one last tear.

Sourisi blinks as she comes to, this creepy sight above this endless void honestly comforting to her. Especially after the nightmare that she had found herself drowning in. Her tonfa had dropped from slacken fingers, but the grip that took hold of them once more was stronger than ever. She looks around at the others, seeing them come to grips to themselves, but it is the Wind Knight that makes her nod. "You're right! We're here with each other, and anything is true if you can work together..." Sourisi looks at Fuu directly, and smiles softly. It's a little silly, but maybe something to help brighten the mood can help here. "...isn't that right, Breeze-san?"

"I'm okay, Steven-san! Don't worry...i'm sure we're all oka-" Sourisi blinks as she looks at the Crimson Rose Duelist, currently in the middle of a shouting match with the ceiling. She had to grin at that. "Oh, she's certainly okay if she is chewing out the ceiling!" She rushes after Steven, and calls out to...Setsuna-san, was it? "Don't worry, Setsuna-san! A Magical Girl never leaves anyone behind!"

<Pose Tracker> Cure Bloom [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

Cure Bloom's eyes fog, and then Saki Hyuuga's clear.

The World Tree looms above her. She was too far away from its tremendous top to hear the leaves rustling, but the familiarity of the noise provided it to her thoughts as the wind bit at her neck. Her hair was short now; cut when they treated her after her fall. The feeling always made her arm tingle in its cast. Six months, they'd said, before she'd have most of her range of motion back. She sensed herself send the signal to tense her fingers but felt nothing of the act, and she pulled in a long breath and turned her eyes down.

"Damn shame, Hyuuga. You were a lock for captain."

"I guess I finally have to learn how to catch from somebody else, huh Saki-chan?" Yuuko flashes her a laugh and a grin as she and Hitomi waved and marched off to practice without her.

"We'll...you know, we'll be fine! I'm pretty sure I can get us to the championships anyway, you know?" Hitomi had added, fishing her captain band out of her bag with a certain shine in her eye.

Her other hand, at least, obliged her.

"I think...it best we put this away for a while," her mother had said, taking her old glove from Saki's desk. "You don't need to waste your time fretting about impossible dreams, Saki."

That arm was all she was to them. Pitching, baking. Punching.

"You can't do it if you can't do it-lapi."

"It's too important to rely on someone who can't fight. You know that, don't you?" Mai's smile was small and pitying.

"Cure Bloom's power is your power-lapi. And right now...you don't have any-lapi."

She stood before the World Tree, in a plaza that didn't know the sun, and the wind cut at her like blades. Carried whispers from far away.

They wouldn't leave you like that.

She shook her head, her nose crinkling. Her feet squared on the stones and she pushed off. She didn't know if she could climb it. She had to try; bark cracking under her feet and feet slipping on moss as she went. The path to the Shrine never felt so long, and paths she knew felt treacherous with her balance changed.

When she got there, it shone, that gate into mystery; and she shifted her feet against the fragrant earth. She knew the silhouettes beside it; waiting.

Of course they'd wait. How silly to think they wouldn't.

<Pose Tracker> Cure Black [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

The legion of white tables stretches out far into the distance, towards every horizon. It seems like there is nothing else but this wedding anywhere in the world, like it must carpet the globe, like no matter how far Nagisa runs, she will never reach the grey lithic metropolis she calls home.

And perhaps that could be true. She could believe that. But she can't believe she couldn't get there on a green bicycle.

"You can't," Nagisa chokes out, and Masaru's cruel smile spreads widely at what seems to be the sort of pathetic plea he'd hoped for. But Nagisa's eyes are flint and sparks as she turns her face up. "Make her do everything."

She doesn't fall out of her chair this time. She rises from it.

With a loud canvas ripple, Nagisa drags the tablecloth along with her, ripping it from the table. As it billows with air, she twists through it, dragging it over her pink dress, where it winds and fastens. The black does not supplant the pink, but harmonizes with it, separating out into its own sections. It does not feel like a henshin. It feels like wiping dirt away to reveal the truth beneath.

In a concentric and expanding ring, the tables around Cure Black begin to smash to the ground, as though all four of their legs neatly snapped at once. As the damage starts to reach the horizon and Cure Black gazes impassively at Masaru, the white dots that remain all begin to converge, like thousands and thousands of stage lights, onto...

"HONOKA!" Cure Black shouts. She pulls on Cure White's hand, feeling for an instant that she's so distant she's about to lose her, but she is, in fact, still right there, and they bump into each other, Cure Black catching Cure White's shoulder with her other hand to keep from clonking heads.

"Ah," she says, sniffly, embarrassed. "I mean... Cure White..."

Lera's shout of Setsuna's name draws Cure Black's eyes back to the task at hand... and then to the pillar of liquid despair that radiates its foul presence. Shaking her head in consternation, she looks to Cure White wordlessly, her jaw tight.

<Pose Tracker> Anthy Himemiya [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

It is less like the perfume fog recedes, to the Rose Bride's point of view, and more like the world emerges through haze one indistinct-but-sharpening piece at a time. Dark shapes appear all around her, taking on solidity and resolution until they are people instead.

People who cry out to one another and to Cure Passion, people who rise up out of their despair as if it is indeed some dispellable cloud. They connect and they recover and they love.

Behind her mask of pretty indifference the Rose Bride hates them all.

She hates how easily they connect with each other, how swiftly they recover; she despises them for their love and their expressions of it. Most of all, she hates them for their relief and happiness after conquering this conjured despair.

The Bride sinks infinitesimally deeper into her own despair - and it is fine rich stuff, steeped in spite and matured by countless years of intimate cruelty - and seethes without a word, without a blink, without a single outward sign of that vicious churning misery.

She wonders if the experience of Northa's magic might have offered some slight, false, temporary relief upon its cessation, and she envies and hates the rest of them all the more for getting to experience that.

The Bride hears Kasagami stir on the catwalk behind her as she appraises the Fuko Gauge and its fervid yellow contents. She finds it... compelling in a sickly sort of way, a fascination that seeks fertile ground in the mind of someone whose existence is so firmly preoccupied with despair. She glances at it, then away, then back again.

This is when the Engaged leaps in front of her and presses the her back. The Rose Bride - pretty and unthinking doll she is - retains most of the smoothness of her expression and adds a thin layer of visible fear to the tilt of her eyebrows and the cast of her mouth: an appropriate amount for the situation, she judges.

She displays these things to her Engaged and seethes still beneath them.

"I am here," comes the quiet reply. She says nothing else.

<Pose Tracker> Cure White [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

The whole world is the kiss. And it is the same kiss they shared once before, a stolen kiss. A kiss amid the pounding beat of a karaoke track unsung -- a booth unsung in.

She was kissed, and now she is the bride.

Her eyes close, and the crowd mistakes it for demure bliss.

But she can't look anymore -- especially, she can't look at all the white everywhere. She always loved white, the way it was all colors. White was sheets flapping in the summer breeze, and skirts, too, nightgowns and sundresses. White was lab coats and the crisp perfection of an unmarked notebook page, ready to be filled.

But now white is just... is just...

'It's not true!'

She blinks, feeling her eyelashes on her own cheek like they're the only things physical in the world. She can't feel her lips anymore, or his. She can't feel the hungry stares of the joyous crowd. She just feels...

"NAGISA!" she screams, not in response to her partner but at exactly the same time, as her bridal gown shrinks, tightening at her waist and loosening at her bust. Her heart is blue and she wears it on both fists. She is all colors and none, after all. She is lab coats and notebooks and soft summer fabrics.

We are Pretty Cure.

In the real world, she returns Cure Black's pull with a squeeze, warm and firm and fierce. Her other hand drifts up to slide along Black's brilliant swoosh of hair, the one that slides spikily across her brow, parting it like a veil.

"Blacku," she whispers, she prays.

Her eyes are open now. She sees only Nagisa, and then past her -- Setsuna.

Honoka's chin lifts, and her eyes flash.

"Setsuna-chan!" She is fiercely affectionate, but something else, too: very faintly scolding. "We are Pretty Cure! What is all this," she gestures at the gauge, at the vines binding her, "to that?"

The vines, her incisive gaze suggests, as it lands on Setsuna's, are not what's holding her back. "Come on," she invites, she pleads -- extending a hand.


<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

By the time the others begin to escape, Setsuna isn't looking any more--or she can't look. Exhaustion runs through her, and worse. Northa, after all, told her: they can't hear her. Setsuna knows that it's true. On her heart goes, beat and drip and beat and drip, as the images she saw replay over in her mind. There she stays, strapped to the glass wall of the Gauge she helped to fill even more than most. She was there when they started filling it, and is here now, as Earth stands on the verge of...

'I... I heard you.' Lera's voice. Trapped in her despair as she is, at first Setsuna belives she's just imagining what she wants to hear, coming up with something to try to make herself feel together. ...The words filter in. Her love; her name.

'Buki, next. Setsuna starts to look up towards the sounds, belearily. ..For an instant her eyes are the same eyes of the girl who came to them as Eas, but drained entirely of the anger she always seemed to have, left with the misery that was beneath it. But she sees her. Inori isn't alone. She isn't alone. She... "'Buki...?"

Kasagami is shouting at the ceiling, and that is strange enough to her to help stir her from her reverie as well. Even the way she doesn't like how Kasagami rages, the things she says--disagreement is a lever, too. Especially from someone trying, someone she saw so lost soon again.

'Setsuna-san', Fuu says, promises that they--not one alone--will get her out of here. ...And Steven. Steven, who knows her title, who was there for her plants. Steven and his strange animal, there too. He does try to lighten the mood, and her lip twitches, as if almost in the direction of remembering how to smile, even if her heart isn't fully in it.

...But 'it's' getting to her heart. From all of them. Sourisi, who says they won't leave her behind, a 'magical girl' despite everything, and she does hear it. It's like the smoke is clearing, like the chill is abating little by little, and if the thaw is a little painful, it's worth it.

...Black's right there. With White, as she should be. White, who--it surprises her, actually, despite knowing her--says what she does in that scolding way, even amidst the affection. ...Her senpai points out something true. She watches her. ...She extends the hand. Setsuna's red eyes look down to that hand, for a moment. They watch.

...They have a little sparkle of life in them again as she closes them once, nods. "I..." She draws in a breath. Everyone... Everyone who's coming closer, quickly. Everyone, who's here. Who are...

"Yes." There's a sudden flash of red again, sparkles, as a tiny key-fairy, a heart-shaped head and a ribbon wrapped about her, bursts into being and stares up at Setsuna Higashi with big eyes. ...Setsuna's eyes are red, but they are red about the eye too--bloodshot, puffy. She glances to Akarun, and then reaches to take White's hand, faint red sparkles about her arm as she simply... isn't bound there by the vines anymore. Her transformation is subtle, this time, the glow starting small, suffusing her, red and warm and brilliant with everyone around her.

It's Cure Passion's hand that grips Cure White's a moment later, and she can breathe again, slipping forward, released by the awful vines that Northa left here. "Ah..." She dips her head once. Akarun is now resting in the Linkrun at her hip, a sparkle there the last she says for now. "You're right..."

"Everyone..." She looks with love to Lera, who heard her, who would follow her anywhere. "It's not over," she says to her. To Fuu, "Thank you, and to Steven a wan smile.

'Buki gets a look that Setsuna can't put into words, but that 'Buki, who always understood her so well, is sure to understand. She doesn't speak the words she can't manage; they have an understanding, as partners themselves. ...the Rose Bride, so calm, a soothing presence in her beauty, Passion looks to. But Kasagami gets Passion's attention for a few quiet moments, as her smile fades, though the emotion in her eyes doesn't. "...I think this world is wonderful," she answers simply. A smile she manages to Sourisi, and then Black besides White. ...The scolding from White is deserved, really, so it doesn't make her feel so sheepish. She draws in a breath, looking to all of them, but they are all ready for battle, all on the cusp of motion, and Cure Passion knows that. ...The feeling of everyone around her--that warmth--she can't help but let herself absorb it a little longer, just for an instant. They broke from their despair, somehow. She still doesn't know how, but they did, and they're here, and...

And maybe she won't let herself but whether she will or now right now she is not alone.

"Everyone," she repeats. "Thank you..." A pause, "I don't..." She's not very good with words. But she pauses at that. THey are ready for battle. That means that there is something she has to do. They are still here.

Northa could be back at any moment. Cure Passion looks seriously among all those gathered, and draws herself up to her full--not very impressive, but full in her red splendour--height.

"You all did it. But..."

She turns, halfway, to regard the awful thing, radiating its despair even now, despite this heartfelt moment, this joy and warmth. It is there, looming, filled with its awful shade of yellow. She turns her head back to the others. "But whatever you do, you can't attack the Fuko Gauge now."


COMBAT: Setsuna Higashi transforms into Cure Passion!