2018-02-18 - Ueno: Chevalier-Shepherd War

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Title: Ueno: Chevalier-Shepherd War

The war between Chevalier and Shepherd has gone on long enough. The snows of Hokkaido had briefly cooled hostilities, but in Hotaru Tomoe, the two sides have each found a cause that they cannot compromise. The Chevaliers will not sacrifice an innocent, the Shepherds will not sacrifice the world.

The Chevaliers have marshalled to defeat their rivals. First, they will force the Shepherds to defend Ueno, hunting ground of Eri Shimanouchi. Both sides know that the true target will follow: Shinjuku.


Chitose Shiratori, Endo Naoki, Garnet, Kasagami Araki, Kozue Kaoru, Kyouko Sakura, Madoka Kaname, Mami Tomoe, Mikoto Minagi, Nao Yuuki, Nori Ankou, Sayaka Miki, Setsuna Meioh, and Tsubasa Kazanari


Ueno Museum District

OOC - IC Date:

Sat Feb 17, 2018 and Sun Feb 18, 2018 / Sat Mar 28, 2015

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> When the Levee Breaks - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFDYuO53BUk

Pale sunlight is trickling across an artificial urban horizon, filtering down the bustling, awning-strewn lane of Ameyayoko. There are many people still here at market, but the traffic is largely directed outward. Crates are being stacked on crates and slid back into streetlevel shops. Cash and coins for final purchases are urged into impatient hands even as rusty metal gates are drawn down over nearby storefronts. Glowing neon is supplementing the waning sun, limning the edges of jackets and shopping bags in pink or red. Briskly or meandering, in pairs or alone, shoppers are flowing out of the shopping street.

Right down the center of this cheerfully disintegrating human tableau walk the Chevaliers. Sayaka Miki and Mami Tomoe are at their center. None are transformed; Sayaka has a blue hooded sweatshirt and jeans. On the outside, she appears not only relaxed, but happy, chatting readily with others, even glancing at fruit stalls as they pack up. Mami can see that her fists are tight inside her hoodie pockets, however.

"Don't worry about hiding," she had said back on the train, both hands far above her head on the railing. "This isn't like Shinjuku will; there's nothing here we want to get to other than the Shepherds, right? So we might as well let them know we're coming." She winks at the basketball-player-sized Garnet for some reason. "This time, we'll know they're waiting."

The crowd parts readily around the plainclothes Chevaliers, not least of which because of Garnet, but partially through their sheer numbers tonight. They pause for a moment at the market street entrance; if anyone was watching it would be a nice time for a group photo, there beneath the strung-out arch of lit-up letters. The museum district of Ueno is before them, the scent of its expansive park already reaching the nose despite the wide and well-trafficked street before them. The station lies beneath it like an anthill, a green sign announcing its presence. People are draining into it as the streets begin to empty out. Slow progress is better. More time to clear the area.

Their goal is the vast bridge across the station. Far wider than it needs to be save at peak rush hour on the very busiest days, it is presently entirely empty, almost cyclopean in scale above the JR station. Broad concrete tiles and metal railings produce a sturdy effect, with yellow corrugated plates marking areas where there is an elevation shift.

At the bottom of the stairs, Sayaka Miki had ascended with hands in pocket. At the top, she steps off as Puella Magi Sayaka, and is holding Mami's hand, though she releases it as they disembark. Together, the Chevaliers walk out to one end of the bridge. Already arrayed on the other side are the Shepherds. Sayaka shakes her head with a half-smile. "If only that girl would go to school and pay this much attention..."

Turning enough to keep both foe and friend in sight, Sayaka takes a deep breath. "This is it. We'll just roll 'em all the way out of here and keep going right into Shinjuku. Hotaru-chan and the people of the city are counting on us. So let's give our all."

She has to stop talking there for two reasons. One is that a train passes beneath the bridge, and the rush of air cuts off her voice and musses her hair about. The second is that Kyouko Sakura is approaching, and these words weren't for her at all.

Unable to speak, Sayaka crosses her arms. It's not exactly a show of trust, but it's the best Kyouko is going to get.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Mel/Sue Sandwich https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSVMcM9uA24

Everything explodes.

Madoka, in her stocking feet, her twintails pinned to the top of her head and kept safe beneath a kerchief that -- since she doesn't own any kerchiefs -- is really a very thin towel. Edged with lace and embroidered with a pink bunny, it is a fine piece from her Pink Era (which some might argue is her whole life).

Madoka, shrieking, as the cloud of white powder spreads, rolling in its thickness, to engulf her -- and the kitchen -- and the living room.

Teapots. Pot holders. Counters. Stovetops. The cute rug by the sink. The cuter rug by the little table...

Madoka, flailing her arms wildly as she emerges from the cloud, sneezing in a rapid consecutive crescendo likely to flush her brains right out of her nose. This is the only thing that gets her to stop wailing.

Finally, gulping down her despair, she looks around Mami's apartment to see what her misapplied culinary science has wrought. "Uwaaaaaaa..."

Kyuubey glances up at her, ever helpful, and delicately curls his tail around her ankle. She glances down at him and pulls free.

Pursing her lips and rolling up her sleeves, she snatches the motherly kerchief off her head and folds and reties it into a Serious Business headband instead. Knotting it briskly feels like making a promise.

"No one will ever know about this if I hurry," she mutters, leaving a trail of floury footprints behind her as she crosses Mami's hallway to fetch a broom.

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mami, for her part, is not dressed quite so casually as Sayaka--or rather, casual in a far more feminine fashion. She walks beside the blue-haired girl, wearing a patterned white dress, belted at the waist, and knee-high brown boots, along with a denim jacket to go with it, her hair in her traditional drills. ...She wears flats, and a golden set of bracelets on her left wrist, to go with the Soul Gem ring there. Her amber eyes are forward. ...Forward, and then to the sides; she has long observed the people about their lives on her hunts, part of a secret world that sees them all, that suggests questions about what they do, where they are, where they're going. The crowd parts for them, to be sure.

Mami Tomoe looks as if she expects it.

...But her thoughts are not only here, of course. EARLIER...

"Madoka-chan," Mami says, very seriously, her expression clouded with intent--she looks desperate. ...Not quite desperate enough, but she's managing a decent go of it, anyway, staring at her dear, dear friend in pink in the kitchen.

"You're my only hope," Mami says to Madoka earnestly. "If I don't have this cake ready by morning, I'll /fail/ home ec completely. My grades are bad enough as it is. ...Can you help me? I don't have time to do it myself..."

"I need you to bake me a cake, Madoka-chan."

Mami didn't bother mentioning that school is already out. It's... plausible that she had a late assignment, right?


At the bottom of the stairs, Mami's hands were at her sides. At the top, she is the Golden Queen of Shibuya, at the head of an invading force, Mami Tomoe the golden Puella Magi known throughout Tokyo. Sayaka is the one who starts doing the talking, and Mami says nothing about Kyouko. ...These are the people she's doing this for, aren't they?

Back on the train, Mami had agreed with Sayaka. "Just be careful. They're committed--you can expect them to fight hard. ...And pull some tricks you might not expect. If we work together, we can do this."

Mami stares out towards Kyouko, looking, scanning the Shepherds there... and stares into Kyouko Sakura's eyes.

Kyouko told her this wasn't some kind of destiny. So maybe it really is just one old friend looking to another.

Mami's hatpin shines in the fading light, resolute, neutral in expression.

<Pose Tracker> Kyouko Sakura [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mu11QRO9BrQ

There they are.

They look small enough from the rooftops above, all of those people milling about, shopping and walking and talking and all sorts of things besides. But some of these things are not like the others.

Some of these things just do not belong.

Not that an untrained eye would ever note the school-agers weaving among the pedestrian gaps. They are known by name or known not at all. But Kyouko knows them. She thinks that she knows where they are headed, for Eri's territory is a short distance off. And she knows who they will find when they get there.

Grinning bright, the fangs of her incissors neatly frame the slender stem of the corn cob pipe wedged between her teeth and jaunted out at a slight angle. Plucking the piece free, with its fat bulbed end she prods a pair of aviator sunglasses up to the summit of the bridge of her nose and adjusts her cap for the right kilter. And as the Chevaliers walk on the streets below, Kyouko walks with them on the buildings above, her arms to her sides to balance her body as she catwalks along the rims of the roofs, hopping between them with a practiced polish.

At last, it's here. Or at least, the first installment. The first of the last. No hundred years war this will be. For better or for worse it won't drag on for much longer. Hopefully they won't miss their bridge all that much. It's hard to imagine that much will be left of it by sunrise, but then surprise is hard currency within Tokyo's walls. Though she has little use for school herself, it can hardly be overstated how helpful it is to know where your enemies will be and when, five days out of the week. Even when a Shepherd doesn't share the class, it's an easy enough thing to enlist a random student to observe and report for a few baked goods, a videogame, or some cash. When Kyouko heard that the Chevaliers were buzzing about, carrying themselves with an air of determination..it only took a little recon to make a good guess as to why.

For her part Kyouko is merely tracking their progress, making sure all the little lambs of this troublesome herd are gathered together and headed where they ought to be. No strays working mischief in the inattentive dark. Even now she's cautious about shedding an image of self defense, even no wary of drawing neutrals in against her, or she'd be raining spears. It may well come to that by the end, but for now honor remains.

And then she sees the rest of them. Her comrades in arms in healthy numbers. Where the Chevaliers are a column, the Shepherds are a wall. That wall may buckle, but Kyouko will stand shoulder to shoulder with her fellows and friends to ensure that it does not break. May the invaders beat their fists against it before dispersing in frustration.

Not much roof left, end of that road. For a moment, she withdraws her pipe, clapping a stick of chewing gum between her teeth and chewing with purpose, admiring, just for a moment, the last glitters of the fading day along the water's burnished edge, fractaled by the mild chaos of tiny breaking waves. Well chewed, she extracts the red cinnamon lump, inspecting it in the twilit sky, and nodding in approval, closing her fist around the gum.

And then she dives. Fabric billows all around her limbs, her other hand clapped to her head to keep her cap in proper place. Lacking a more dedicated landing strip, she makes do with a blue ball, moving away from her at a steady pace like an arcade shooting gallery game.

Her heels clack into the pavement about ten paces before Sayaka Miki, attire still blowing out and around like an aftershock of the impact before settling back along the spear-fighter's figure. Smirking her best shit-eating grin, from the shoulders down she wears a burgundy yukata, something like a katana's handle visible from her hip. From the shoulders up she cuts a different figure entirely. An antique style naval officer's cap, immense pair of black crystal sunglasses, and most particularly a comically long stemmed corncob pipe ending in a comically tall bowl suggest nobody so much as MacArthur. Up close, it is clear that none of her attire is of any particular quality, all costume grade at best. The katana in particular is simply a single piece of wood carved to superficially resemble a sheathed blade.

Striding up with a loping saunter, casual and unhurried with a hand concealed within oversized sleeves, Kyouko waggles her pipe between her teeth, looking Sayaka up and down, scanning at the forces she's brought with her, and stepping closer and closer until blue and red stand within spitting distance. The grinning girl swats her fist at the swordsman's face, opening it just in time to mash a sticky wad of chewed up red gum against Sayaka's forehead. The moment she releases her payload, the stealth bomber backflips away, shoving off of the ground with her hands, pirouetting in the skies above with a long length of spear made manifest in her grip before using its butt as a pole vault to launch her higher, further.

She lands facing the Chevaliers, standing with the Shepherds, grinning bright, clasping hands clapping shoulders, handing out pocky to everybody in the line like she's giving out cups of coffee for those manning the trench.

"Are you alright?"

"Feeling good?"

"Ready to rumble?"

Cracking her knuckles, cracking her neck, her back, toes, she sighs with great contentment as so much tension snaps out of her body. And she smiles wide to the Shepherds, again.

"Eri-chan couldn't make it, but let's make her proud and put a smile on her face. I'm proud too. It's been said before but it can't be said enough. Thank you. Thank you for standing with her. For standing with me. I truly believe that we're going to keep this city from splitting apart at the seams. That we're gonna help see the world through this crisis. And that we're gonna make it happen right here, and right now. From all that I am, thank you."

Taking off her hat and placing it over her heart, she bows deeply, crimson tresses spilling down like a bloody waterfall, maintaining her poise for several long seconds before standing back straight, and turning on her heel with a flourish to face the evening's fate.

"For our friends, our city, and all mankind! We fight for our future!"

<Pose Tracker> Nao Yuuki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.


The salaryman twists in the wind behind Nao. Slo-www-ly he rotates in one direction, the tendril attaching his coccoon to the ceiling twisting more and more tightly until finally his momentum is arrested, and he starts, nauseatingly, reversing in his course.

Meanwhile, Nao looks down at the text on her cell phone, and muses.

There are different reasons, not to be a Chevalier or a Shepherd -- to stay out of it all. Some girls don't know; others don't care.

Up until recently, she fell rather more into the latter category. Why stick her neck out? This has nothing to do with her. Or at least, it doesn't /have/ to have anything to do with her.

But she sees things. Things like how Mikoto and her various friends and senpai are being run more and more ragged. Things like the hospital in Shinjuku, too, which may have just been a rumor to her, but a dark one.

And now the gleaming screen of her phone, which lights up her face in this abandoned apartment building like she's on the school trip telling a ghost story after curfew, is informing her that things are coming to a head.

She slices the man down with a swish of her Element. Trodding over his butt on her way out the door, she knows in her heart which side she wants to see win.


Nao knows most of Mikoto's favorite sleeping places, and also understands the best way to wake her up without triggering a startled cat reaction. She may not be able to summon the smell of Mai's ramen at will, but there are other good smells to waft up towards that rooftop, swishing a paper fan back and forth over the steam, like freshly baked bread...

Patience serves her. "Yo," she drawls, once her friend has appeared. "Apparently your friends downtown need our help in Ueno. You know, Sakura and her buddies."

Her lips twitch into a smirk that is feigned only in that it hides the more tender smile underneath. It isn't a smile she has for many. "You wanna go together?"

She folds her arms over her chest, too cool to extend a hand in friendship. Besides, there's that hot loaf of sourdough on the picnic blanket in front of her. She suspects she knows which one Mikoto will grab first.


Nao has spent most of her time waiting for this to start with a hip propped up against a wall, tapping at blinding speeds into her phone. Setting up more rondevouxs, no doubt. She has many flaws, but dedication to her mission is not one of them.

Now that things are finally starting, she stretches her arms over her head, rolling her head on her neck behind, then between them. Even though school is out, she's still in her Ohtori Middle School uniform -- it is, after all, an important part of her hobby. And she wears it as dangerously as any flak jacket, or long leather trenchcoat.

She's cool enough to be wearing mirrored shades, even though she isn't, as she stares across the distance at the other group.

"/This/ is what we were waiting for?" she pouts at Kyouko, a sly grin lingering in her eyes. "I--"

Kasagami makes her speech. Roses rise and lamp posts fall.

Nao twitches a little, and summons her Element again -- claws that wrap her fingers, razor-sharp. She runs her tongue along one of them, playful, catlike.

"Ara," she sighs, playfully. Snarkily. "If only we could all be so cool. Ne, Mikoto-chan?"

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

Endo is mostly silent during the train ride, nodding his head to conversation, making short affirmation of Sayaka's declaration. He's dressed in a poofy black jacket and jeans, hands tucked into sleeves, hidden fingers rolling a rugged purple stone between nervous digits. Unseen, it pulses like a heartbeat, eager to fulfill its purpose once again.

It's owner is not so eager. He does, however, manage a reassuring smile for his allies as they stride through the market, an assurance of: "I'll do my best. You all be careful too and we'll be fine, right?" His eyes move over each face, each person he's fought with and come to care about since he's joined the Chevaliers. It helps him focus as they move through the thinning crowds, as the noise and grind of metal gates start to fade into the distance.

When the group crests the stairs Endo is armed and armored, enormous sword resting across shoulder and cape billowing out behind, an ancient knight made real. There's no sign of nerves now, his face neutral, eyes on the bridge ahead.

He's silent on Kyouko's approach, silent-until she pins Sayaka with a wad of gum. And when she makes such swift escape, there's not he can do but bat an eye. "Aahis she taking this seriously?" Perhaps this is what they call psychological warfare.

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

La Sirene de Diamant is not present, but AkaMira, as a result, is. Nori's hair trails behind her, long and loose. She is wearing a sweater in a rich grey that seems both immensely comfortable, immensely warm, and as if the clouds themselves were pulled down and knitted together into a garment suitable for keeping the chill of early spring off one's arms. Below are close fitting slacks in a deep velvety purple with an embroider suggesting sunset clouds along the left calf. She had a bag over her shoulder - though this one was Louisoix Vuitton, rather than an AkaMira special.

That's how you know she is here as herself. That and the two small diamond earrings set in gold, which were, of course, a gift.

As she walks, Nori is calm and poised and... quiet; but then, she is adjacent, as she so often is, to a blunette. As the bridge comes within sight, she turns her head slightly to tell her: "I won't try to constrain you. But remember that story of the three arrows."

Nori Ankou begins to climb the stairs.

"Besides," a girl says during the climb, one whose identity is rather liminal for a moment: "I want to see what you can do."

La Sirene de Diamant ascends. The corona around her can be seen before she herself does, the sun's rays touching it and seeming to scatter like raindrops on an umbrella. There is a momentary prismatic effect that does not correspond to anything seen on Earth under regular circumstances.

A few steps more and her entire form can be seen. She has a hand on her hip. She glances towards the one with whom she had walked for a moment, and then answers Endo. "Don't underestimate that one," she says, even as her gaze returns to the Shepherds before them. Over Kasagami, past Kyouko.

"In fact," she says, "Don't underestimate any of them. Or over-estimate them. I suppose that's not the sagest advice in the world," la Sirene sighs, tossing her hair with a cavalcade of dark sparkles from the diamonds on the back of her glove.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mikoto is difficult to track down, for most people. She is always moving, always searching. But there are places she likes to frequent, all the same.

She's wearing her coat, black with yellow trim. Black pants, and a teal shirt which clashes so badly with the rest that one wonders where she got it. And, of course, the sword strapped across her back, safe inside its case. It's a little uncomfortably warm, but not wearing so many layers is uncomfortably cool -- the eternal struggle of clothing oneself between season changes.

Besides, it keeps her warm when she stops patrolling, and takes a nap, as she has on the roof. So few people look to the rooftops -- it's the perfect place to stop for a while. No one comes up to the roof, when all the stores and attractions are down below. That's why it's so strange to smell food so close. Sniff, sniff...

It takes her a few moments, but the smell eventually rouses her. She peeks over the edge to find the source, only for the source to be Nao. "Huh..?" Her friends. Mikoto's face changes in an instant, from sleepy confusion to a frown. "Trouble?"

Mikoto stands, and pulls at Miroku's case until she's able to wriggle out of her coat, tossing it behind the sign she'd been sleeping under. The fight will warm her up, she knows. She jumps down, and snatches up the sourdough, tearing into it hungrily. "Thanks," she says, mouth muffled by food. "Glad Nao came to get me. Nao's a good person."

After all, Mikoto doesn't carry a phone. She might never have known if Nao hadn't decided to be a friend.


That's how the Chevaliers find her, as unfashionable as you please, with Miroku's edge tilted towards them as the final argument as to whether her clothes matter -- or, for that matter, whether they should take another step forward. The train rumbles beneath them, and Mikoto's steady hands make the blade notch a centimetre into the ground as she resists being shaken.

She growls a warning, eyes darting from Chevalier to Chevalier. The others will speak. Her enemies must know what she's communicating: that this is Eri's land, and they are trespassers. Leave, or be destroyed. It's more than Mikoto would normally grant an enemy, but... there's someone who would be disappointed if she didn't try.

Nao's question earns her a 'hrm' at the back of her throat, and a nod, not even looking back. It's the wordiest she's gotten since she's pulled Miroku from its case. She's tight as a spring, waiting for the first move, and it's clear she's not here to sue for peace.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet follows the group, "dressed" as she ever is in her garb her retro-futurism and shouting pinks, likely just as responsible for the backing away of the other passengers as her sheer size. If Sayaka wants the Shepherds to know they're coming, then there's no need for a more subdued transformation during the journey. When Sayaka looks to her, Garnet looks back, but says little. When they disembark, she walks alongside the other Chevaliers, rather than leaping forward, her steps slow, but firm. The Gem's thoughts are divided, between being here with them, and being elsewhere, remembering the march to the last battles of her last war. Remembering the sound of all her comrades, as they made their way there, and... remembering how few of them remained when the dust finally cleared and They had returned to the stars. That's why she would not, could not, let those survivors march with her again here. Better for them to never know of this conflict at all, so that they may live their lives how Rose would have wanted, unburdened by this secret war and the knowledge of what every single day that the Chevaliers have yet to prevail cost in the lives and needless blood of the humans they were bound to protect...

Garnet's thoughts return to those she marches with now and she looks to each one in turn, her stares hidden behind her mirrored shades and commits them one by one to her memory.

The Shepherds, fearsome though they are, don't seem to wield the terrifying and overwhelming power They used with impunity, but Garnet knows not to underestimate their current foes in numbers or ruthlessness.

Garnet solemnly looks at the assembled Shepherds, and is unmoved either in frustration or amusement at Kyouko's "opening sal(ia)vo".

She looks back to the Chevaliers, at all of them, maybe for the last time, then clears and focuses her mind on the harmony of the cosmos, the energy that suffuses all living things and hopes that its harmony will help her here.As red armored gauntlets appear on her forearms with a brilliant glow of transformative light, the Crystal Gem, sworn follower of Rose Quartz and all she stands for, waits for Sayaka to give the command to advance.

<Pose Tracker> Chitose Shiratori [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Chitose Shiratori may not be too responsive. She accepts the pocky, though. To do otherwise would be extremely impolite. But she's quiet, as she's not really looking at the Chevaliers approaching, but instead past them. As if, well, her mind was not quite here.


In a larger building, closer to the center of the city, a large man in a very well made suit walks down a hallway, where he passes by an office. He stops, and puts a hand on the knob before turning it. "Shiratori! Do you have that report I want--" He opens the door to a completely empty office. "...ed." He trails off. Chitose was not there. "Hrm."


Here, Chitose cries a veritable river of tears in her mind. Part of her really, really wanted to be at work, instead of here. Admittedly, she also didn't really want this fight to be happening, either. But such is life.

She's brought out of her reverie by lampposts falling to the ground, which jolts her to reality. "Oh, right." And so she reaches up to the back of her head and takes her hairclip, and the moment her fingers touch she transforms, barrier jacket at the ready.

Chitose gives a world-weary sigh. "I suppose we must do as we must."

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

The peace and ease that Ueno Park's arching tree boughs and wandering paths usually bring does not come to Setsuna Meioh. She is not here for its museums this evening, does not seek to escape the bustle of the Tokyo of Here and Now on its winding paths. The twilight lamps of vendors don't turn her head.

A different sort of calm inhabits her smoothly swinging limbs and slows the beat of a heart that already beats slow and steady and strong. Soon enough she will ride the electric rush of adrenaline.

The Soldier of Revolution marches to war.

A defensive battle befits her sentinel nature. She has come to care for this place, and more, she has come to care for the puella magi whose territory it is. Setsuna slides her phone from the pocket of her black blazer and thumbs a message out.

TXT to a contact in Pluto's phone named 'Vulpecula': We have this. Don't worry.

Because the senshi knows that she will. It's a small gesture, and perhaps changes little, but she feels better having reached out to Eri in this moment. Hopefully her friend will feel the same.

The straggling humanity thins as the mysteries of twilight quicken; Setsuna passes behind the gnarled bole of the most ancient tree in the park, and it stands in brief and sharp relief against a crackle of vivid violet. Sailor Pluto emerges on the other side, hair floating downward to settle again from the transformation.

There comes the sensation of being watched, but it does not prickle between her shoulder blades so much as settle about her shoulders like a blanket. Gloved hands tighten on the Garnet Rod, and it casts its dark gleam on the path ahead to battle.

Sailor Pluto joins the gathering Shepherds at the foot of the bridge, her boots sounding against the concrete at precise, even intervals: her only fanfare.

It is Kasagami's turn to be watched then, and she is beheld for a long, quiet moment -- an allowance, of sorts, for Pluto's heart. She lingers on the fierce fall of dark hair and the duelist's proud bearing. With dutiful reluctance, she pulls her attention away.

Garnet eyes glitter as if faceted as they fall on the Chevaliers across the bridge. They find each in turn, lingering on Sayaka Miki and Mami Tomoe in particular -- after a long moment she replies to their red-maned leader, drawing her own gaze away from their assembled enemies.

"I am ready, Sakura-san." Despite the solemnity, a gleam of humor tugs at the corner of her mouth as she accepts the pocky. "And it looks like you are, as well." It is very like Sailor Pluto to nod a formal thanks for the candied treat.

In the end her eyes fall back to their foes. "We make our stand here, then. They can come through us, or not at all." She plants her legs and the haft of her sacred weapon, and looks every inch the Guardian she is, unmoving and perhaps unmoveable.

<Pose Tracker> Tsubasa Kazanari [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Anticipation always felt the same way; be it before a concert or a battle. No matter how many times one participated, you'd still feel your heart speed up, and the dilution of your perspective of time. Mere moments felt like an eternity, and yet you were called on stage before you knew it.

Despite her status as a famous singer, Tsubasa Kazanari was never one for fashion. She wore a simple blue sweater, one you might wear over your stage outfit while backstage, along with a similarly simple pair of jeans. The clothing might not be particularly flattering, but it wasn't like Tsubasa would remain in this outfit for long, regardless. The red gem dangling from her necklace was proof enough of that.

If nothing else, it was pleasant to finally be accompanied by somebody who didn't bother her too much. Silence is golden, after all, and Tsubasa wasn't really (ever) in the mood for talking. Finally ascending the staircase, accompanying Nori, Tsubasa hums her activation phrase, and the red gem shines bright, enveloping her in the light that transforms her ragged sweater into the refined armour of a Symphogear.

At first, she merely holds a hilt, but the long blade of the sacred sword Ame-no-Habakiri is soon unfolded, baring its long edge. Even with this, she says nothing. For Tsubasa, there's nothing here to settle with words; in her mind, the battle has already started. For her, there is only one way this can unfold.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

When Kyouko lands, Sayaka startles only a little before lowering her head a little to glare stoically. As the train rushes by she waits right there, arms folded. Kyouko proved well enough that she wouldn't feign a truce to stab her suddenly. Besides, Kyouko is a little hard to take seriously at the moment.

Bemused at the strangeness of this outfit, Sayaka glances up and down Kyouko as she takes her last few steps towards her. The train passes away, leaving both free to talk, and Sayaka raises an eyebrow expectantly.


"Augh, you--!!" Sayaka reaches up and touches the gum with her glove, recoiling when she feels it stick to the glove itself, stretching a little tendril of gum with it. "You think that's funny? Hey!" Shaking her fist, pink-cheeked from embarrassment, Sayaka looks up crosseyed and gives the gum a few prying tugs with her forefinger and thumb until it pops off. She has to flick it a few times before it stops just switching to the other finger.

"That girl..." Sayaka fumes. "She doesn't take anything seriously," she tells Endo.

The Shepherds make for an intimidating force, there on the other side. There is the small but fearsome Mikoto, who ran decisively rampant among the Chevalier's ranks during their first (and until tonight, only) all-out battle. Next to her, a new face, with sharp claws and sharper eyes. And there's green-eyed Chitose, perhaps the Shepherd's answer to the formidable magic of Endo Naoki. Kyouko "Anko" Sakura, of course, her once-friend who has cost Sayaka more blood than any other foe, rival or Witch alike. Sailor Pluto, the warrior from the stars whose power and demeanor could make a regular teenager feel quite small. And Kasagami Araki, whose raw strength brought Sayaka down even in defense of her beloved Madoka, and whose personality annoys her almost as much as Kyouko's.

But Endo is as powerful as he is affable, and Nori as loyal as La Sirene is terrible. Mysterious Tsubasa has brought bladework Sayaka can only envy, and Garnet, the rock of the Chevaliers, must surely be stronger than anyone the Shepherds can call on. And of course there is the Golden Queen.

Sayaka draws her sword--she's surely not the first insofar as Mikoto's sword is so large it's never really sheathed, just kind of "behind" or "in front." Magic shimmers up the blade as it peels out from the inside of Sayaka's cloak. "The Shepherds," she says to her fellow Chevaliers, "already have what they're protecting. They have a world where only some people deserve to live, and power gives you the right to decide which people that is. If they want that world, they can run in any direction any time they want. But the world we want... the city we think this can be... it's behind them. And our only way to it is straight through, and our only time to get it is tonight."

Keeping her eyes on the Shepherds, Sayaka extends her sword to the side, towards Mami, and touches it to Mami's musket, crossing barrel and blade. "That's why we'll win." She holds that slightly unsteady contact for a few seconds. With the contact near the end of their respective weapons, it's impossible to keep it fully stable, as any slight motion is amplified. They slide a little with a nearly inaudible rasp. Mami can feel the little corrections Sayaka makes, though their hands are nowhere close. Tokyo's self-proclaimed premiere Puella Magi konbi is in this together, even when they're apart.

Probably Not the OST You Expected -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gefTW4Huqog

Sayaka's sword swipes off of Mami's musket as she breaks off to her own side of the bridge, towards Garnet. With a long lateral leap, she lands in one of Garnet's gloves. "Don't hold back!" she tells her frequent tag team partner, perhaps unwisely. Sayaka's cape plasters to her shoulders and flutters like a flag as she aims (or rather, is aimed with little control over it herself) at Sailor Pluto. With a swing of her shoulders, she chambers her sword across her hip, drawn back for the swing. At the moment of impact, she pinches her eyes against the wind to get a moment of clear sight, drags her arms up hard against the resistance of the wind, and rips a silver line through the night. Her momentum is not nearly dispersed, and she is flung still further past, to catch at the ground with her feet and hands and try to stay as near as she can. She's a close-in kinda gal.

COMBAT: Sayaka Miki has started a combo targeting Sailor Pluto!

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"...Sakura-san makes a habit of making it look as if she takes /nothing/ seriously," Mami says darkly in answer to Endo's statement, in time with Sayaka's answer. They talk together. It's almost cute. She has watched each and every of her Chevaliers on the way over, looked them over, judged their state--not just as some kind of general, but to make sure they are all well, to check each of them over. She cares for all of them, after all. Each of them is precious. ...She even smiles at Nori's earrings; she remembers those well, after all.

...As for the Shepherds, not /all/ are familiar to her precisely. She lifts an eyebrow at Nao, Kasagami gets her look, and Mikoto and her sword--Mami's eyes bear down on her for an instant. She knows that one well. Chitose, too. And Pluto... It is solemn, yes. They are all talking.

She has to agree with Tsubasa about the battle.

But Sayaka speaks up, mentions the Chevaliers, mentions the world they want, that they will have, and Mami says nothing at first; instead, she is already holding her musket, and when Sayaka draws her sword and touches it to her weapon, Mami looks to her once, with a nod. She senses those little movements... and only Sayaka is likely to notice the little give in the way Mami holds her weapon, the flutter of her heart as she looks to her. They are in this together, no matter how far apart they are.

...And as soon as Sayaka moves, Mami steps back, her weapons fanning out as suddenly there are /six/ rather than one, each hanging in the air, pointed downward, and Mami pulls the first--and starts towards Kasagami, the Engaged, not that she knows it. Her honeyed eyes are on her, this foe she's faced before. And the muskets twirl along behind her, a beautiful chain that she twirls and takes from, leaping into the air as she keeps firing, picking up one after another and dropping each in turn.

"You have /no/ idea how long I've waited for this one, Araki-san."

COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has used Tiro Flourish on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki narrowly dodges Mami Tomoe's Tiro Flourish, taking 16 Fatigue damage!  Kasagami Araki's Fade ability activates!  Kasagami Araki's Flash ability activates!

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mikoto's enemies, all lined up. Sayaka, whose honeyed words have turned so many against them; Mami, who hates her, divinely and utterly, as far as Mikoto cares to know. La Sirene, whose darkness consumes; Garnet, whose fists decimate. A strange, stately woman, unfamiliar to Mikoto, bearing a blade which marks her enemy regardless. And Endo, who she had once fought alongside, when fate took a strange turn.

It's that last one she focuses on, eyes locking on his, grip tightening around her claymore. You learn someone's measure when you fight side-by-side, and she knows that he presents just as much of a threat as the louder warriors facing them. She has already decided that her blade must meet his. Now, she waits. It doesn't take long.

When the flurry of movement starts, Mikoto springs forward, as if a sprinter pushing off of the starting block. A scream tears from her throat, primal and terrible, Miroku squealing against the ground as she tears forward towards enemy lines. When she swings her mighty sword in a wide horizontal arc, she doesn't care who gets caught in the crossfire -- but she's only aiming for one boy.

He's got the devil's luck.

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Dauntlessness on Endo Naoki.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has finished attacking.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Sayaka Miki. What she lacks in stature she makes up for with heart and courage. At Sayaka's words and bearing, Garnet is (as she feels all beings with a conscience should be at so noble a call to action) inspired, and when her blueberry leader asks her for a hand with her assault, Garnet complies gladly, her teeth grit with stermination, carrying into that throw and Chevalier flagship strike all the energy it deserves and more.

COMBAT: Garnet has joined the combo started by Sayaka Miki!
COMBAT: COMBO! Sayaka Miki and Garnet have used Perfect Pitch and Hand Tossed Special Delivery on Sailor Pluto.
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Garnet has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto perfectly braces Sayaka Miki and Garnet's Combo: Perfect Pitch, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Brace!  Sailor Pluto's Block ability activates!  Sailor Pluto's Parry ability activates!

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

"You know Mami-chan..." She starts, smiling all cheshire and bloody minded grin and just /itching/ to fight the Golden Queen. And Mami gives her a brilliant start, with those many muskets fired at her. Ribbon musket balls fly for her, and as usual she's annoyingly difficult to hit.

She spins, turns, leaps into the air upside down and spins her long nodachi in a flash that has bullets falling from the sky. A few get close though, this is /Mami/ we're talking about, and her coat has several signs of gentle aeration from those seeking bullets. Kassie brushes her poor coat off, touching down a few feet away from her golden tressed dance partner, just in time to blow a kiss and wink at one Sailor Pluto.

"Don't you dare lose, Sailor Pluto!" Her tone is encouraging. Her eyes say more. I love you. I believe in you. Let's end this.

"I actually believe that! Hah haaaaah! Come on, Golden Delinquent, don't hold back! Let's cross blade and gun, dance and let our hearts light on fire! Nothing more that I love than beautiful girls like you, dangerous and savage, and a good fight! Oh, tonight is going to be WONDERFUL!" She laughs, joining battle with her demon's grin and way too much enthusiasm for a duel, even if not a Duel.

She also briefly seems to dissappear, falling from on high and blade slashing down to try to lash into Mami!

"Show me what you dream of, Mami Tomoe! Say it with your weapons!" Encourages Kassie most unwisely. Perhaps Kassie's life is just one bad decision stretched out over years, but she's going to enjoy it, dangit!

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Rose on the Wind on Mami Tomoe.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe narrowly counters Kasagami Araki's Rose on the Wind, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Kasagami Araki is Psyched!  Mami Tomoe's Reverse ability activates!  Mami Tomoe's Tactician ability activates!
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe's counterattack, Tiro Retort, partially gets through, doing 14 Fatigue damage to Kasagami Araki!

<Pose Tracker> Nao Yuuki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mikoto watches the enemy -- Nao watches Mikoto. They've fought alongside one another enough for her to be wise to what's about to happen; her friend will charge in and could get taken by surprise from the sides, and that is /not/ cool. Not cool at all.

Yup, there's the battle roar.

Her smirk widening into a grin, Nao slams a button on her phone. If she's going to fight tonight, it might as well be to her tunes. Its speakers are not up to the task of penetrating the myriad noises of the battlefield, but every so often snatches of the chorus make it up to her ears.

Diegetic BGM: Now - Paramore https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcpxjx2fy_E

Then she leaps into action -- leaps /high/, like she's in a wuxia film, being pulled by wires (more on that later). She comes down on the person nearest Endo -- la Sirene -- with a swish-slash of claws that turns her whole body in a complete, graceful circle.

Don't try to take this from me Don't try to take this from me -- no-o-o-o-o-o-w

Her stocking knee comes down hard, hits the concrete, but she's game to take it, and again tastes whatever her claws have caught on the other side, even if it's nothing but the cool evening air.

"Have you ever tried selling all those diamonds?" she asks her opponent, without turning around. "I mean, like, if that was /my/ magic power, I'd never worry about anything again. You could even use it to buy stuff for widows and orphans if you needed that to sleep at night."

COMBAT: Nao Yuuki has used A Girl's Best Friend on La Sirene de Diamant.
COMBAT: Nao Yuuki has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Endo Naoki perfectly counters Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Dauntlessness, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Counter!  Endo Naoki's Reverse ability activates!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki's counterattack, Asteroid Eilen, bursts all the way through, doing 42 Fatigue damage to Mikoto Minagi!
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant narrowly braces Nao Yuuki's A Girl's Best Friend, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  La Sirene de Diamant's Block ability activates!  La Sirene de Diamant's Parry ability activates!  La Sirene de Diamant is Taunted!

<Pose Tracker> Kyouko Sakura [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> .


Between Kyouko's first footfall, not so far from those she means to slash and stab, and the series of flips and leaps that sends her off to the other side of the thin red line, she caught the eye of her oldest friend. Mami looks at her without apparent feeling, save assurance, and Kyouko returns her gaze as evenly as it is offered. She doesn't mock Mami, nor offer a respectful nod. There are a number of things that she wants to do with Mami, but the door that leads to them has been sealed, and she is not eager to proceed down the only path remaining to them.

It hadn't been destiny, not when they'd spoken. But Mami has made it so, so so it is.


Kyouko shaked her head, her oversized hat wobbling precariously upon her head. "Thanks, but I don't want anything nice enough that I have to care about keepin' nice. 'sides I kinda gotta go katana for this East / West thing.." Her face splits into a grin. Shrugging her hat off of her head and catching it with a fingertip, she starts to spin it around and around..

"'s not meant to be graceful. That's your job."


Kyouko glances at the falling street lamps, taken slightly aback before she realizes that Kasagami is speaking to her, but before she can gather herself to respond, her theatrical comrade is chiming in with a pep rally of her own. Kyouko's eyebrows lift about as far as the corners of her lips, but she blanches a little at the final tag.

/What? We're not the revolutionaries here...that's the whole point.../ Naturally, she thinks better of raising the issue.

She waves a hand to Nao, grinning back in kind. "This? This is just the sound check. Main event's comin', don't worry." To Sailor Pluto she flashes a wink. "Oh, always ready. That way I don't need to worry about if I should be ready, or when. I'm glad you're ready too." To her own epigram, she smiles, and nods in approbation.

~~SOUNDTRACK CHANGE - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xa90OVJkBos ~~

And then it's on.

Mami rushes forward with a whole squadron of rifles to her credit, and alongside her is a swordswoman who Kyouko does not recognize. Kasagami, in her way, leaps into the fray to lock horns. Kyouko bares her teeth in something like a smile, hurling hat and glasses and pipe and robes from her body to reveal the ornate dress proclaiming her power.

Mami's range gave her an early opening, and Kasagami's cavalry charge bravado quickly closed the distance between the two..in short, they've met in melee slightly sooner than most. The expected thing would be to engage the fencer. As an unknown factor, she can't yet assess her as a threat..but the golden gunner she stands with is a well known danger. In her way, she goes with her gut.

Squaring her spear out like a lance, Kyouko charges headlong towards Tsubasa, her hair whipping behind her like a comet's tail, her face a feral rictus as she expels an animal scream. But before the two can join in battle, Kyouko's magic banishes the spearhead from its forward positioning, toggling it to the rear as she plants the newly blunted end into the ground, lifting herself up into the air as her weapon takes on a vertical posture which only grows as the shaft extends itself. Instead of fighting Tsubasa, Kyouko has leapt straight over her..and behind her comrade.

Mami's back is to her..and Kasagami is, among other things, a tremendously effective gravitational center for attention. It is time to walk the last path left to her and her senpai. Gritting her teeth and whitening her knuckles, she does not hesitate as she attempts to run her oldest friend through.

COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura has used Masterstroke on Mami Tomoe.
COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru covers Mami Tomoe for Kyouko Sakura's attack, Masterstroke, taking it upon herself instead!
COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru narrowly counters Kyouko Sakura's Masterstroke, taking 30 Fatigue damage!  Kozue Kaoru's Reverse ability activates!  Kozue Kaoru's Tactician ability activates!
COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru's counterattack, Strepitoso, partially gets through, doing 10 Fatigue damage to Kyouko Sakura!  Critical Counterhit!  Tangle applied to Kyouko Sakura!

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

Endo gives a nod at Nori's assessment of Kyoto. He wasn't present at the last battle, hasn't seen the full might of the Shepards, but he knows some. He's seen the power of Kasagami's unbridaled passion, the strength of the Outer Senshi, the unbridled ferocity of Mikoto and the dark blade she wields. None are to be taken lightly.

But neither are the Chevaliers and their dream, spoken so eloquently by the blue-haired Puella Magi at their front. It's a sentiment he shares-and even more, a promise he made. He has a contract of his own, to protect his home. To destroy his enemies. He never imagined that those foes would be these, other magical girls, some who he'd even fought with side-by-side on strange occasions.

But there's no choice in the matter. Not now. Not with the howling figure of Mikoto charging forward, swinging the vicious sword he'd seen easily carve through other adversaries. He doesn't have to go far to meet her, and he does so head on and with much the same strategy. Run forward and swing.

They crash together like comets. Ancient weapons meet, collide, spark. The force reverberates through Endo, shakes him to his bones and throws the knight backward once the exchange is done.

He extends a hand quickly after, thrusts it forward and calls forth a spell. The air around his fingers burns and a large, triangular glyph spins to life in the air in front of him.


From the disc-like sigil burst a dozen chains, purple-black lines of Belkan magic that streak toward his opponent. They seek to catch, to bind, to restrain and slow the power behind her massive strikes. Any one, he knows, could be fatal.

COMBAT: Endo Naoki has used Kette Binden on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Endo Naoki has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi perfectly dodges Endo Naoki's Kette Binden, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Mikoto Minagi's Fade ability activates!  Mikoto Minagi's Flash ability activates!

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

La Sirene gleams lightly as Sayaka speaks with such clarity. She draws in a breath. She has no blade or gun to lay atop Mami's or Sayaka's but for a fleeting moment she wishes she did; that her strength did not lay so deeply in shadows and feelings and subtle permutations. Yes, of course, it's effective. That isn't the /point/. What is she going to do, walk up and rest her Pharos on top of --

There is, of course, another problem with la Sirene's way of thinking, which is that she is not always fully aware of her surroundings. Yes, she could see the girl with the great sword, but she saw her tense and was shifting herself in anticipation of raising her left hand, calling upon Les Mysteres, and sending Mikoto into the side of the bridge.

There is a problem with this plan.

That problem is Nao Yuuki.

"Kyah!" la Sirene exclaims as she whips her arm abruptly upwards, a sharp SHING! coming along with a spark of unnatural light as one of those diamonds on the backs of her gloves glances off of the sweeping blade. She stares at Nao, breathing heavily for a moment, before she realizes - Nao spoke -

Recover yourself. Straightening, her arm lowers, and la Sirene answers her with a tart tongue, "They're common enough, where I am from. It would be poor play for me to give away my regalia for so much dross."

Those blades, she thinks.

The light tightens around la Sirene and then ripples outwards. Unlike the traditional form, the erupting all-directions attack aimed to ensnare and tangle up Nao Yuuki before she can gut la Sirene like so much seafood does /not/ resemble vines - it resembles instead a ghostly anemone aiming to entrap her, finding its own personal nobody and holding her against the bridge. Such is la Sirene's intention.

The execution is more complex. "Endo," la Sirene begins, before she sees his own sorcery erupt - "Ah, you've seen her, fair enough," she concludes with a nod.

COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has used Polyploia on Nao Yuuki.
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Nao Yuuki fails to counter La Sirene de Diamant's Polyploia, taking 33 Fatigue damage!  Trap applied to Nao Yuuki!
COMBAT: Nao Yuuki's counterattack, Mean Girls, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to La Sirene de Diamant!

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

Sailor Pluto breathes in deeply of the charged air, filling her lungs with anticipation, and feels the steady pace of her heart jump -- speeding as everything else slows, a natural dilation of her element, adrenaline welcomed as an old comrade-at-arms. In the moment that battle is joined she feels the absence of Sailors Uranus and Neptune, that distance itself an old comrade of sorts. She salutes them in her mind, knowing that a stand here might make the difference to their duty.

Pluto has newer comrades, though. The Shepherds are at her side, and she theirs; with Chitose at her shoulder and the ferocious might of hungry swords and spears unleashed before her, she cannot feel alone. Certainly not after she catches a blown kiss and wink, and with battle-readiness thudding through her veins all Pluto can feel is a surge of fierce joy that drowns anything bittersweet.

There is only time and space here for ferocity, in all things. She nods with gazes locked, and calls, "Never!" and her evergreen hair swirls in the shifting currents of the fray's opening volleys, whipped by passing bullets even as she stands tall and still. "While I breathe, I stand." It is a promise.

They come -- her focus forward, now, the senshi imposes with the deep tones of her voice, addressing their attackers directly. "And while I stand, you shall not have Ueno!"

In particular, Sayaka comes, propelled by a Garnet-colored and -attached fist Sailor Pluto -- and more specifically, a spot on her jaw that suddenly aches from pure memory -- remembers with exquisite clarity. That painfully-gained knowledge gives the senshi an idea of the walloping force headed her way.

It is a test. And she will meet it. Legs limber, ready to absorb impact -- she grips the Garnet Rod with hands spread wide, like her feet, all of the stoic senshi primed for the moment of impact. Sailor Pluto makes her stand with eyes narrowed and hair streaming.

She promised not to move.

Blade and staff collide with a flash of light and a clash of sound, both silvery and sharp and immense. All of the bruising impact of Garnet fists combine with the blue streak of velocity that is Sayaka and her sword, and it rings through the sacred titanium of the Garnet Rod right back through Sailor Pluto's very being.

Concrete ripples behind her boot heels as they dig into the bridge, driven down with great force -- down... but not back.

The promise is kept.

And when the violence of Sayaka's passing clears, the senshi has not moved. The cost of it rattles her arms and teeth, but she stands. And turns -- to face the blue knight.

Rotates, with the Garnet Rod at the fore, to not just face her foe but retaliate, sweeping it down and around to tangle the limbs of the girl who would take Ueno.

COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has used Aoristic Fulcrum on Sayaka Miki.
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki narrowly counters Sailor Pluto's Aoristic Fulcrum, taking 8 Fatigue damage!  Sayaka Miki is Quipped!
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki's counterattack, Disjunct Chord, partially gets through, doing 4 Fatigue damage to Sailor Pluto!

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [None] has posed.

As it is in many things, Aohime is fashionably late as she vaults over the side of the bridge, just after battle is joined. Black flying behind her before there's a tremendous clack of her boots, and her coat flies down back into place. Heeled black suede that reach just over the knee. A matching black miniskirt and leather trench that's open.

Beneath it is a T-shirt with the singular word of SERIOUS printed upon it. She's not wearing shades either. But she knows how to accessorize-! In this case it's a sickle in her right hand attached to jangling chain links held in her left. A weight with asymmetrical blades attached to it swinging back and forth like a pendulum..

"You know - when you first proposed a girl's night out for this part of town Sayaka-chan, I wasn't really that into the idea. I mean museums? The zoo? Sounds like where you go to finish a school report rather than for a good time."

Her eyes drift up, towards the bolt of blue fluttering towards Sailor Pluto. One might think now is the worst time to distract. And yet she's shameless about her timing. "I think you've convinced me."

She hardly seems like a Chevalier. In fact in many ways none of the Chevaliers would mistake this girl for one of them. Given their past history some seem like to even turn on her, putting her in a pincher between the other side...

And what a side the other one is.

They're all heavy hitters on the other side, enough that it would give her pause under the best of circumstances.

On any given day she didn't give herself good odds against any of them, and even now is a little hesitant to make Minagi or Yuuki her enemies. Even settling old scores with Araki or Pluto would be a bad idea, no matter how much she wants to.

She's not here to settle old scores though.

Now that she's on the battlefield she seems entirely unhurried. Her gait slow and measured, as her eyes assess and reevaluate what she's walking into at any given moment. The weight on her chain moves back and forth in a pendulum like rhythm with a wrenching jangle.

And then there's Sakura. She only knew her by reputation but she knew Mami Tomoe is wide open - and sees the feint the moment she leaps over Tsubasa's head. And her gait stops for just a fraction of a second, but just to press down a little more at her knees, before her gait picks up. She's no runner even if she's athletic, but she has to see if her swimmers legs are up to the challenge as she takes off at an all out sprint in a war of the crimson Puella Magi's momentum, starting to revolve the chain with her hand as she runs until it's a whirling blur.

She isn't going to make it - and she knows it.

A blue-haired streak that might make Sakura think that Sayaka had come to her senpai's aid for all of a split second as she enters into her vision. That is until Kozue's revolving chain arcs to wrap around Sakura's chained lance - spoiling her aim in mid-air as she yanks it taut.

But only just. Digging her heels in, she pulls with all of her might. In a tremendous effort against the Puella Magi's greater strength, which she knows she can't stop it. Just redirect. Which sends the red comet straight at her instead. Hooking her sickle up against the tip of the barbed spearhead. Sparks fly before she jukes up the sickle with all of her might in an attempt to blade lock it.

Only for her to be slammed backwards with the force of a freight train the moment she /thinks/ she has it parried.

The transferred force slams her into the ground and grinds her in, a cloud of pulverized concrete wafting up from the spot.

In a cloud of white and grey, it's a situation that Madoka might throoughly empathize with from afar.

Coughing and wheezing from within - it's clear that she's inside, but unclear where, other than on the ground.

"What've they been... feeding you..." Is the groaned statement from within the settling cloud, as her silhouette finally appears. The spear pinning her appears to suddenly smack concrete as the black outline moves inside. There's a light tug like a kid trying to pull someone that thoroughly one-upped them off-balance by the spear.

Before she slides forward like the devil himself is prompting her to move before she loses all opportunity.

In a desperate attempt to slide into her guard, she takes the sickle in a serpentine quick strike at her flank with the blurring sickle. Any other Chevalier might consider it a dirty move, like a rabbit punch with a blade.

Despite being covered with powdery white, there's now a telltale stain of red on the shirt, as her opposite clenched hand is run over her lip as she finally catches her breath. "Everyone wants to get a piece of Mami-chan. I get it."

In the wake of that hand, there's a wicked looking grin, "But now that you've painted me your color, it's only natural that we tussle for a while - ne?"

COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru has used Staccato on Kyouko Sakura.
COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura narrowly braces Kozue Kaoru's Staccato, taking 15 Fatigue damage!  Kyouko Sakura's Block ability activates!  Kyouko Sakura's Parry ability activates!

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

There are many things Mami would rather do with her oldest friend, with her onetime partner, than this. ...But that door is sealed. She will proceed down the path that has been prepared. ...That Mami herself ahs prepared.

It is destiny now, whether it was or not before.

"You don't want me to stop holding back," Mami says smoothly to Kasagami, with all the authority of the Queen that she has been long named. "You want to see my dreams? You don't understand dreams--"

Mami is in motion, for Kasagami this time. Kasagami's sword hacks a thin red line in Mami's side, in her arm, as she whirls and pulls a gigantic hand cannon out of nowhere and fires it straight back into Kasagami. Mami doesn't smile; Kyouko is revealed, and quickly there is melee. ...Mami doesn't favor melee. But Kyouko charges forward in an instant, and Mami /realizes/ her mistake--turning her back on Kyouko--when there is no time for her to do anything about it. The final path available to them is here. Mami draws in a quick breath, knowing that she cannot move in time.

But it doesn't come. It hits someone else, in a blur of blue, and Mami's eyes widen. "Kozue-chan," she breathes, and nods to her for an instant. "...Thank you. Don't take her lightly."

Mami whirls at that, hitting the ground again and starting to put her eyes on Kasagami. "...You don't get it," Mami says to her. "This isn't a game. This isn't some kind of beautiful showing of what we are. ...Do you know what this kind of conflict is?"

Mami's hands are empty of guns--and then suddenly she's pulling a yellow ribbon taut. "But sure, I'll say it like this. I have a lot to say to you."

She whirls out with the ribbon--but moves /past/ Kasagami, as she leaps over her next, sticking that ribbon to the ground, sticking another to a pole, before she has an entire lattice of them all around Kasagami in instants, whirling far too quickly to be seen.

...Each of them razor sharp as she pulls the whole thing tight to crash around the Engaged. They may not be yellow ribbons for long.

COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has used Tagliare on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki narrowly counters Mami Tomoe's Tagliare, taking 8 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Cripple applied to Kasagami Araki!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki's counterattack, Turning the Petal's Edge, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Mami Tomoe!

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Both Endo and Mikoto charge forward, wielding ancient blades, and it's clear the power between them as they clash. Miroku meets Fallen Stern, and the two have a conversation writ entirely in grinding steel, dark blade against dark blade. Golden slits appear along Miroku's side, like eyes, for just a moment, as if to recognise a greater threat -

- and then, from the corner of the eye, Mikoto catches the flash of a sickle-blade. Unbelieving, she's driven to glance. She sees something she never wanted to see -- Kozue, so similar to her friend Nao, but she's attacking Kyouko. Attacking her ally. Mikoto's eyes widen, and for just a moment her grip falters. "Kozue!" Mikoto screams, her voice breaking. "/No!/"

It's the very worst time to have an emotional moment. The distraction is deadly, and Endo's strength overwhelms Mikoto. His strike sends her flying, bodily, sailing back along the bridge she'd charged over. Such is the power of the swing that she, unthinkably, loses her grip on her sword.

The chains chase her, as she falls to the ground. But Mikoto does not slam against the concrete like a broken doll -- she rolls, instinctively, and the motion takes her away from the first chain. As it slams into the ground, all force and fury, Mikoto realises Endo is still on the attack.

There's no time to mourn for people on the wrong side of her sword, not now. She has to fight, or she'll die. Kozue is an enemy, now. Kozue will kill her. And Endo is her enemy, and Endo will kill her. Mikoto has to get there first.

She springs from the ground, a split second before another chain latches onto the spot she'd been; she twists around in the air as if she had her own righting-reflex, leaving two more chains to pass alongside her instead of finding purchase. When she lands, she ducks, as another of those horrible magic chains passes overhead. She is a flurry of movement, always just a step ahead of the chains. One misstep could kill her; she doesn't misstep.

She's not cold any more.

"MIROKU!", Mikoto cries, once the barrage has finished, hands outstretched. The obsidian blade flickers and disappears from wherever it has landed, and reappears in her grip, her arms sagging slightly when the weight hits. One cannot disarm a HiME -- not when their weapons are materialising equipment.

There are tears in her eyes as she snarls, whirling to face Endo. She charges, screaming, a raging, wounded tiger. Before she reaches him, she springs upwards, and brings Miroku down in an overhead swing which is surely intended to cleave him in two.

They're all her enemies. They're just her enemies. Don't think about it. Just fight.

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Destruction on Endo Naoki.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Endo Naoki fails to brace Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Destruction, taking 49 Fatigue damage!

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

Kyouko rages like a bull, using her lance so well. It has Kassie shooting grins and even a wink her own way. "Oh don't be that way, Kyouko-chan! I'm a King! I'll do whatever is right, just, and most importantly, pleasant! Sometimes change is it's own status quo~!" She's teasing here, all grins and poking to set off just a biiiit more fury in her fellow Shepherd. All so Kyouko can slam it right into Mami Tomoe's face.

She is, by the way, graceful as heck Kyouko. And some of her katanas probably are worth more than most people's life insurance pay outs. So that's probably the smart thing there wasn't any borrowing done.

Kassie's delinquent senses tingle. Oh hey, it's the expelee! She's busy with Mami, but not so busy that she can't find a petty taunt to toss the former Duelist.

"Kozue-chan! Now that's just /rude/! Didn't anyone ever tell you not to cut in on someone's date at a dance!? Terrible manners, really, but I guess the life of a worthless dropout invites such lack of standards!"

Kasagami just has this knack for being a punchable /jerk/ even without trying. Here, she's trying.

There's also a Mami weaving plenty of razor-sharp ribbons around her in that whirling pattern of hers, like a spider web attached to poles. This is worrisome. Very worrisome actually, Kassies don't fight well when not free to dodge and weave and put blade into vulnerable body parts. So, hammer to a nail, she does the thing she does so well. As they all crash around her, her blade is everywhere at once. A vast majority of those razorribbons are slashed to yellow confetti in a spinning maneuver with a dancer's grace and warrior's ferocity.

"We have /got/ to have a chat about your hobbies Mami-chan, this embarrasses even me." This is said while one of said ribbons has caught her free arm, causing her to dangle a bit before she manages enough momentum to swing about with it still attached. Her sleeve is obliterated, one glove torn to bits, and burnt flesh on display. Luckily she doesn't seem to feel the cutting it's doing. She'll deal wtih that in a bit, she has a Mami to catch.

"But dreams, Mami, is something I understand completely. I live for my dreams! I'd be dead without them! Now come on, double time, I told you I want to see your heart burn for me!" She suddenly howls out, ribbon on her going taut and she's once again devouring space with worrying quickness as her sword swings swiftly in a one-handed drawing motion. Hit or miss, several nearby lightpoles are getting their height cut in half before crashing to the ground. The range on that nodachi is a thing of beauty and menace in it's perfect shine yet to be dulled!

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Rose Flash on Mami Tomoe.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe narrowly braces Kasagami Araki's Rose Flash, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Kasagami Araki is Psyched!

<Pose Tracker> Nao Yuuki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Nao's iTunes, con't: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcpxjx2fy_E

Remember the part where Nao leapt forwards as though she was on wires?

That becomes relevant right around the time that la Sirene's shadows close in all around her. Her eyes flash brilliantly, unabashedly frightened by fighting a force that she does not understand; her claws pass straight through the many-limbed unlight that surrounds her, and moments later she is wrapped up in a cruel parody of her own best practices upon the unsuspecting pedophiles of Tokyo.

Her cell phone music is swallowed up with the rest of her.

--el- ---- --- wa--- ---- --- -- ead -n- -ve-------- --en ------- -n -e

Nao makes a cute shadow-chrysalis; she /wiggles/. It's a lot less fun inside; sweat pours off her brow, then chills instantly at the touch of the Sea of Tears, and her eyes roll wildly behind reflexively shut eyelids.

Inside, she can hear clearly enough. Too clearly, it's loud, it's too loud.

Now I'll never have to wonder What it's like to sleep a year away

This could already be over. Mikoto looks like she took a big hit, and now Nao is helpless to aid her; the only reason she's even here.

Well -- almost.

She stops moving. From the outside, it looks like a surrender, the pillar of unlight finally stilling.

And then she, and it, topple over the edge of the bridge -- and the many, many sharp strings of webbing, strings she planted all over the area before the battle even started, strings which were all connected, through one trajectory or another, to her claws -- go taut.

A razor-sharp net closes around la Sirene from below, from above, from everywhere.

Nao herself is lost from sight for a long moment, until she comes swinging back up from the other side of the bridge like Tarzan on a fully circular arc, shedding polyploic shadow as she moves. Shreds of it still stick to her, trail after her like the wavering scraps of an artfully torn witch's sleeves.

She is, naturally, preceded by the music accompanying her.

Lose the battle, win the war Bringing my sinking ship back to the shore

She lands behind la Sirene and not far from Mikoto, who she is hugely relieved to see is still up, still fighting. She missed both her friend's epic escape from her own chains, /and/ the full implications of Kozue's presence in this battle, but none of that matters to her right now.

That's already in the past. There is only the present.

We're starting over, so head back in There's a time and a place to die but this ain't it

With a twist of both her hands (and her lips, also), she tightens the many nearly-invisible wires around la Sirene.

"That's just like a rich bitch -- you're gonna call the kind of money that could feed starving kids /dross/? So much for heroism, I guess. That's okay, though."

Her claws glitter, not like gold or diamonds. Just like danger and hatred and anger.

Just like her eyes.

"I only punish the wicked, after all."

If there's a future, we want it, no-o-o-o-ow

COMBAT: Nao Yuuki has used Welcome To My Parlor on La Sirene de Diamant.
COMBAT: Nao Yuuki has finished attacking.
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant accepts Nao Yuuki's Welcome To My Parlor, taking 29 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  La Sirene de Diamant is Quipped!  Trap applied to La Sirene de Diamant!

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The ringing in Sailor Pluto's bones is exceeded by that in Sayaka's, insofar as that great staff is a much better implement for this contest than Sayaka's sword. Diverted solidly away, Sayaka scrapes to a stop on one hand and two feet, managing to keep hold of her sword despite her stinging fingers.

"Tch." Sayaka wipes her cheek with her glove, then drives forward with a shove of both leg, her booted feet pattering rapidly as she lets her cape fall over her arms.

"Garnet!" she cries, as her blade rings out again, a skyward swipe the opening note. "We need to bring her down before she starts putting up shields or using Death Screech!" Sayaka may not remember the attack name too well but she remembers how it was the most visibly frightening one she's ever seen. Pluto is a priority target... unfortunately there are a lot of those.

Pirouetting, Sayaka lightly takes the opposite side of Pluto to Garnet's. She keeps doing that, infuriatingly, no matter where Pluto turns, harrying the much taller woman with light slashes and pokes, denying her the ability to retreat from Garnet's much heavier blows.

"Kozue!" Sayaka espies the other bluenette. "Garnet, Kozue's here!" She's really happy about that. Did she forget to mention something?

COMBAT: Sayaka Miki has used Caprice on Sailor Pluto.
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto fails to dodge Sayaka Miki's Caprice, taking 21 Fatigue damage!

<Pose Tracker> Kyouko Sakura [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dk5s_nMFh6I

A remarkable phenomenon. An oversized lump of hail whistles through the air..not falling, but gliding above the ground. A dirty blue nuisance, and with such clear skies...

It's true, at first Kyouko was sure that Sayaka, hot headed and fearful of calamitous loss, had abandoned the din of battle to hurl her body in the way of a blade. It is only when the literal dust settles that she sees that that is not the case. This woman wields no saber, but a sickle. Her hair is a close cropped blue, but shaped to angular wings instead of a tight sphere. And that outfit..Sayaka's fairy knight attire gives way to a certain vintage of chic, a short skirt and looooong leather.

A stranger. How SERIOUS a stranger remains to be seen. But, from the outset, Kyouko knows a few things.

She is brave.

She stands with Mami Tomoe.

And she bleeds.

Kyouko's entire poise shifts. The instrument of her initial thrust is gone from her grip, its purpose achieved. She had leaned so far forward in her gait that she would nearly fall flat if she stopped moving. Now she corrects so severely that she doesn't stand straight so much as she slightly leans back, her sprinting charge giving way to a long legged lope. Where before her stride could make a circle of perpetual motion, her feet now stab into the ground as if anchoring with every step. A spear in her hand swishes through the air in arcing circles, dancing from hand to hand, before her and behind.

She is dining now, supping upon raw observation, pressing a sheaf of wax paper to the contours of this girl's being and scraping it with flat charcoal to inscribe an impression. She drinks of this unknown soldier's aura, entirely fixated on this newest combatant as the periphery of battle seems to momentarily slip away from third party influence.

A half grin splits her left-face wide at the remark. One who makes quips. And then she is gone from under her needle.

Kyouko stands firm as this fashionable girl who speaks cleverly before she strikes appears before her, nocking the angry fang of her sickle into Kyouko's side. Leering at her, she does not flinch, even as her own red garment stains darker. Her hand lashes out to grasp at that leather coat's collar, to yank this strange girl closer in, close enough to feel the heat of Kyouko's breath, and the palpable thrill emanating from her like a cloud of spores.

"I eat blue-haired girls."

Her muscles tense. The nascent nubs of spears form all along the front of her body, molten and malformed, lacking much in aesthetic but nothing in jagged serration. Kyouko makes herself a crown of thorns, and attempts to taste blood.

COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura has used Pincushion on Kozue Kaoru.
COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru narrowly dodges Kyouko Sakura's Pincushion, taking 8 Fatigue damage!  Kozue Kaoru is Quipped!  Kozue Kaoru's Fade ability activates!  Kozue Kaoru's Flash ability activates!  Cripple and Exhausted applied to Kozue Kaoru!

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mami may or may not be planning to wreck at least one of those swords--especially now that Kyouko is commenting, tossing a taunt, and Mami narrows her eyes. "Worthless dropout?" Mami asks.

"...You're a worthless blowhard who will never achieve any of your dreams, Araki. Calling yourself a King is a /joke/. You're the most common girl I've ever /met/."

Mami is weaving her ribbons--and Kasagami starts cutting. Perfect, of course--she sees that. A chat about her hobbies, is it? Mami keeps working, and watches the burnt flesh for an instant. But Mami is here to be caught, all right. She's here, prepared for it, already having started planting rifles. Even as Kasagami approaches, Mami is pulling another from her bodice, three from her skirt, four from her sleeves in an instant, so many all at once. Worryying quickness is right--Kasagami is howling, and Mami doesn't even /try/ to dodge this time.

She just projects a set of ribbons before herself to slow and redirect the blade, taking what remains across her stomach, razor sharp but not a deep enough wound to kill her.

"...You know my dream, /Araki/-chan?" Mami says.

"...One of them is already there, taking on your ex."

She pulls an arm back as if ripping a cord, and the scattered rifles erupt, turning into a semicircle as Mami handsprings backward and upward, towards a rooftop--

And a dozen rifles fire straight at Kasagami's chest all at once in a roar of gunfire.

COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has used Tiro Circle on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki fails to dodge Mami Tomoe's Tiro Circle, taking 41 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Mami Tomoe is Psyched!

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Kozue! la Sirene thinks when she hears Mikoto call out that name in such hot denial. Is she - ah, there it is. That is an obscure relief, even if there is that same sick tightening at the recollection of whatever it is that has led Kozue and Sayaka to bond. That feeling, mixed with the wicked claws of her opponent...


The net comes around her. Her eyes are swift enough to see the wires. It lets her bring her arms up, and so it is that the collapsing web around her does not go through her like so much soft cheese subject to the wire. Those diamonds prove themselves worthy because each piece of chunked carbonado is nigh-unbreakable: they might make poor armor, but they and the thicker material keep most of la Sirene's personal corpus from contact with those wires.

Most; not all. There are a few blooms of red on her upper arms, towards the shoulder, which are bare. Her crossed arms and an aborted half-leap back mean that she is in fact well and truly clasped in that web, unable to even see much beyond her wrists. Well, her first thought goes: This is a mess.

Then Nao speaks and it all gets much worse.

Her face does not redden because in this state, la Sirene de Diamant doesn't exactly have very dark red blood, but the flush comes. A helpless tightening. A contraction in her gut. I didn't want to, she thinks. She feels choked; she wants to scream, but black futility and lassitude take a moment to murmur wordless assent to what Nao is saying. It is a swaying and dizzying twist; perhaps not so different from the spin Nao took.

Caught like this, Nao has a pretty clear shot towards la Sirene if she cares to take it. The lantern at her belt - whose rope, perhaps notably, did not fray at the touch of the wires, though it was indeed pressed into - glitters like a strange black jewel. La Sirene contorts inwards and that glitter flares - a sudden lash, blind yet guided, right towards the face of Nao!! (Though of course the light itself has almost no quite-exactly physical presence behind it.)

La Sirene speaks then, though her voice is querelous. "Hate me if you want. You have the chance..." It trails off, but after that she /does/ twist, decisively, hissing out the rest of that breath because she managed to wrench her upper body free. With a hand on the ground she is able to curl her fingers, which is, it seems, enough to pull the rest of her. Her back arches; the aura around her undulates, and the wires don't break but they do /slide/, skitting down the leathern armor of her dress and her boots.

Sometimes they catch on the diamonds, but then they move along.

Of course this gracious process takes time, and, tragically enough, a short hank of hair from two particularly closely lashed wires; so it goes. It grows back.

COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has used The Black Kaleidoscope on Nao Yuuki.
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Nao Yuuki narrowly braces La Sirene de Diamant's The Black Kaleidoscope, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Nao Yuuki is Quipped!  Nao Yuuki's Block ability activates!  Nao Yuuki's Parry ability activates!

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet, still landbound allows herself a moment of quiet awe at the outcome of their assault. Well.. she (Pluto) certainly stayed true to her word...

But Sayaka wastes no time in redoubling their assault and calls out to the Gem! Garnet doesn't know what a Death Screech is... oh wait, isn't it something from that movie Steven watches during the holidays... "The Banshee Who Stole Christmas"? It turns all the presents in a room into coal as she recalls, which seems of dubious usefulness in this battle, but Pluto's probably does something else, something worse.

So Garnet heeds Sayaka's call, and while the valiant blue swordsgirl keeps their foe's attention with her flurry of strikes, Garnet swoops in at speed with a low punch, carrying the momentum of her blur of motion into a hopeful opening of her defenses.

COMBAT: Garnet has used Decisive Punch on Sailor Pluto.
COMBAT: Garnet has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto perfectly braces Garnet's Decisive Punch, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Critical Brace!  Sailor Pluto's Block ability activates!  Sailor Pluto's Parry ability activates!

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

"Pretty dull dream if you ask me!" Pause. "The blue one, not Big Red. Gems are always shiney." So the insult is falling apart, Kassie is rolling with it here.

Squint. Pause. Wait a sec..."COMMON!? I am the head of a prestigious samurai family! My Dad was a /Diet Member/! I am not COMMON!" Oh dear, did Mami hit a nerve? Yes. Yes she did.

This all is a great distraction though, as she has lots of guns and rifles circled about connected to a set of ribbons. The trap sprung, Mami Tomoe gets this lovely look of surprise as the guns go all right to her chest. Someone get a picture, that's a moment to treasure. Even moreso as ribbon bullets tear through her. Her coat is basically tatters now.

Oh, and her sides of her uniform look like she's gone through a Student Council approved punk phase. Kassie did an impressive series of back flips to avoid being actively made very dead by the Golden Queen of Shibuya, but boy did more of those shots hit than were strictly comfortable.

Now there's just anger fueling her, and Kasagami gives another howl of fury. Leaping at the fancy Puella, she drops things like tactics, insults, or even human speech. Just spitting wrath as she gains on Mami. Then she jumps at the last second, long legs carrying her with superhuman speed up and then down in a front flip.

Oh, and there's the toe of her steel toed boots. Aimed very, very hard for Mami Tomoe's face.

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Kassie Kick on Mami Tomoe.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe narrowly dodges Kasagami Araki's Kassie Kick, taking 39 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Mami Tomoe's Fade ability activates!  Mami Tomoe's Flash ability activates!  Stagger applied to Mami Tomoe!

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [None] has posed.

"Heh. No need to waste your breath on the obvious." Kozue retorts playfully back at Mami, having now seen Kyouko's strength. Now in a predator's challenge she knows that the other girl is the stronger one. A spear honed by the streets and battle after battle. One wouldn't think a rich privileged girl would have anything on her, but she's also a mean feral thing in her own right. Yanked in close, she's hit by the heat of that pocky-filled halitosis. And she doesn't flinch. Instead she's immediately trying to rip away with a growl from her grip, releasing fabric into her hand.

Twisting to the side, her chain unravels around the other girl's lance, sliding away. There's one hop back, then another. Then a sideways one as more spears come close to her and rips a hole in her coat. At the last minute she knocks another away with her sickle when she seems beyond endurance in just barely avoiding. Breathless from the effort, and a little wide-eyed from the number. The smirk goes back onto her lips after in her charade play of dominance. "That a promise?" She asks with a feisty suggestiveness.

The piercing scream of her name and 'No' from Minagi's voice causes her eyelashes to flutter in a gesture that would cause her to close her eyes normally. After this grunting exhalation of breath, she finally says, "No - what Mikoto? /No/ /what/? What are you asking me not to do? Don't fight? Don't defend people who are important to me?"

She can't look her way, not right now. Not facing down Sakura. "I know better than to patronize you by telling you no."

Whereas when Araki calls her out, she turns her neck with a twisting of the vertebrae, a popping and cracking of the joints without even looking in her direction, eyes still upon the crimson gladiator facing her down, "Excuse you Araki. The only dance here is between wild animals - and since you're carrying on like a baboon in heat there's not a girl here that isn't out of your league on this dance floor - Mami-chan most of all."

Spinning her arm in a vertical loop-de-loop as she circles around Kyouko in a back and forth of this predator's dance. "So you're the kind of girl that just likes to get straight to it huh?" She suddenly steps in with a wild feint like she's going to rush into her guard again and that grip. When suddenly she slams her foot down and pivots in a long twist, grasping her chain as it circles round and round at her. The whirling knob at the end of it shooting past her in that wild circle.

Only to slam against spear haft or body, as it wraps again and again and again in a circling revolution to encompass her whole body before the weight snaps into the tangle - coming to the end of it's length.

Raising up one leg high like an axe kick over the held chain while keeping the other planted. She then slams it down upon the chain to try to viciously snap the scarlet Puella Magi into the ground like some lasso'ed wild animal, hoping the wound leverage outstrips her strength.

"Such a shame - normally I'd enjoy this more, but I'm only letting one girl take me home tonight and it's not you."

COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru has used Dominant Chord on Kyouko Sakura.
COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura perfectly counters Kozue Kaoru's Dominant Chord, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Counter!
COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura's counterattack, Latticework, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Kozue Kaoru!

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

Endo doesn't have much time so see what's going on around him. Her can tell La Sirene de Diamant is close, and catch just a glimpse of her foe. "I see." And he's happy to see that she's still on once piece after Nao's appearance. He can also see, across the way, the entrance of Kozue-though the task of processing her actions and what side she might be on is too mind intensive an exercise for this particular moment.

This moment, with Mikoto re-launching her assault. The chains he'd expected to wrangle her do no good, and his eyes snap back as she takes her leap. He doesn't have much time to react, and it's doubtful he could move fast enough to avoid such a strike. Instead, much like the last time, he raises his weapon in a bid to deflect hers.

The exchange goes worse this time. The collide again, and Endo gives. A knee folds, driven down into the foundation of the bridge with the overwhelming force of his opponent's strike, concrete tiles snapping and cracking with the impact. He appears for a moment as Atlus, one hand on the hilt of his weapon and the other on the flat underside of the opposite end, desperate to hold back the weight of the world.

And he does, this once. He remains one whole Endo, albeit with screaming joints and near blinding pain shooting through one leg. There's a moment, brief, when the proximity allows him a glance at Mikoto's face. Time, for an instant, stands still.

And then he uses his sword. He shoves back in desperate bid to put a few feet of space between them again, enough to right himself before she can overwhelm him. The blade is cast in an arc toward Mikoto after, a sharp cut to ward her off with a pained grunt.

Like Mikoto, Endo is not much for talking. Not until it's over. But Fallen Stern, it's dark metal marked with a thin line from the exchange, warbles its acknowledgement: <STRONG.>

COMBAT: Endo Naoki has used Blauverschiebung on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Endo Naoki has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi perfectly braces Endo Naoki's Blauverschiebung, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Brace!

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"If you say so," Mami answers Kozue, smoothly as they fight their respective partners here--she is concerned for her, but she cannot look away from her own opponent for long. ...That's how she's gotten as far as she has, after all. Besides--she's getting quite the reaction out of Kasagami here, smirks as a result.

"So you say. You haven't seen what I have. You don't know the really valuable things."

A beat, "And all I hear is that your family was important and managed to turn out an ordinary bully."

The distraction works, and she treasures that moment of surprise, the coat in tatters. Kasagami does her backflips, and Mami watches that howl of fury--the tactics, insults, everything is dropped in favor of wrath--

And Kasagami's kick connects--but not with Mami's face. She lunges to the side and takes a hit hard enough to make an awful noise at her shoulder, the steel toe knocking her backward into a storefront that crashes down around her, seemingly just the end of things for an instant, causing her to cough for an instant.

..."...Out of her league, hm...?"

Mami's voice comes from the ruin, as she lifts one arm--just one arm--as if taking a hint from Sayaka's conducting. A wall of rifled muskets suddenly appears before her, dozens in succession right there, in a burst of golden magic, as Mami starts to rise from out of the rubble.

"...I should tell you," Mami says, "It's really not very kind of me to enjoy this as much as I'm about to."

They all go off at once, and Kasagami faces a one-woman firing squad as Mami's left arm hangs uselessly at her side, eyes /entirely/ on the girl who once kidnapped her precious, precious friend not here tonight.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Mami Tomoe has used Tiro Salvo on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki fails to brace Mami Tomoe's Finisher, Tiro Salvo, taking 112 Fatigue damage!  Kasagami Araki is unable to keep fighting!

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

The demands of combat awareness hone Sailor Pluto's perceptions, and her world becomes the precise and narrow slice of reality that she requires to track two opponents at once. Kasagami becomes a dear flash of crimson she keeps at the corner of her eye. The entrance of Kozue Kaoru, in similar fashion, splashes a touch of blue at the senshi's peripheral, unrecognized by her tactical mind in the moment as more than an addition to the Chevalier ranks that is not her immediate concern.

The combined onslaught of Sayaka's dancing blade and the indomitable Garnet is extremely immediate and of the utmost concern to Sailor Pluto, however. She acknowledges the necessity of movement -- this is no defensible choke point, and the Shepherds are themselves the wall the Chevaliers must break through. Any symbolic point she needed to make about the absolute nature of their resolve has been more than made.

Pluto steps free of the small craters left by her stand and moves to try and put both attackers in her field of vision, only to be foiled by the dragonfly quickness of the blue knight. It's bothersome, but somehow... not so bothersome as hearing Sayaka call it /Death Screech/. It shows in an arch of one elegant eyebrow.

"You--" she grates out between teeth, between throwing herself away from that wicked sword edge repeatedly and more often than not failing, "--are welcome to try, Miki-san." Dark skin appears in thin stripes beneath split senshi silk. "But you'll find I'm harder to stop than that! Stubborn, like you."

She gives up trying to keep both of them in sight and turns to Garnet, knowing that whatever blow is coming will be mighty -- and she is not wrong in the least. Pluto is only just in time to catch the incoming metal knuckles on the horizontal length of the Garnet Rod, and another clash of impervious wills resounds.

The senshi staggers, but stands yet, and the sweat on her brow betrays how close a thing it might have been.

She whirls again, following her instincts -- if she can take down the sturdy but at least not /metal-bodied/ Sayaka with all her quickness, then perhaps Pluto can engage in a battle of endurance with Garnet after. Not with that sword stinging her she can't, though.

With a great pull of her arms she drags the Garnet Rod into a swift spin, the whirring of displaced air announcing all the menace of the sacred weapon's velocity. This, she aims directly at the blue knight, swinging down and around to send countless raining blows down at the white-cloaked puella magi.

If her eyes blink a bit comically wide somewhere in the middle of all of that rotational fury she's bringing to bear at the mention of Kozue Kaoru, it's to her credit that she doesn't slow her roll at all.

COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has used Pendulum Blitz on Sayaka Miki.
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki narrowly braces Sailor Pluto's Pendulum Blitz, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Pluto is Psyched!  Sayaka Miki's Block ability activates!  Sayaka Miki's Parry ability activates!

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


"Quit your barking, little dog, before I tie you to a tree!" Is Kassie's snapped response to Kozue. Oh man this is /not/ Kassie's night out.

There's some catharsis here though. That satisfying sound of Mami's shoulder, that eruption of chaos as Mami is added to the ruined storefront like a piece of jewelry. Kasagami takes a moment to survey her work and give a self satisfied little nod.

Truly Kassie is the greatest King. She scowls though when Mami gets back up.

"Bully, huh? Please, I just use authority the way it aught to be used. Direct and practical." She counters, though there's real hurt in her tone. The thought that she'd dissappoint her parents with her ways is a very real fear, deep down in her heart. Mami tugging on that scabbed wound though lets her get out a proper firing squad, and Kassie knows she can't block or dodge all of that.

Oh, she tries, and full half of them are parried or kicked out of the way. She even catches one with her teeth before spitting it out.

When the ribbon bullets hit, though, she doesn't feel too bad. This just has /not/ been her night. Uniform and appropriate wounds given to her, it's a pair of shorts and a lovely, cut mid-drift now. Just as she collapses to the ground, right before blackness takes her, she gets the last word edgewise to her opponent like a proper bullying git.

"To be fair...I would have enjoyed doing the same thing to you." Mami and Kassie finally agree on something, sort of.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Another girl, another fighter, would have screamed: I don't want to fight you! I don't want to kill you! Please, don't fight this war! I don't want to hurt you! I don't want you to be my enemy!

Perhaps... ... perhaps a tiny little sliver of Mikoto is still screaming that, in some untouched corner of her heart. In the smallest little garden of her soul, the part which hasn't been turned to steel, there might be a little raincloud, falling on the little flower of Kozue's friendship, driving all the cats away.

The only hint on her face are the tears, which only keep falling as Kozue confirms that she is her enemy, that she has something to fight for. She has no choice. She has to fight her enemies.

Does it hurt more, fighting someone she respects as she struggles to accept Kozue's apparent betrayal? Someone whose weapon she knows the name of? She doesn't know Endo's name, but she knows Fallen Stern. They're not strangers to her. And she's fighting them, too. Knowing someone doesn't mean they'll stop fighting you. You can know your enemies, too. And Mikoto has to fight her enemies. Why does she have to know her enemies? It's so much harder to know them.

She looks Endo in the eye, from behind tears, as she grinds him into the pavement. Her teeth are bared in a snarl. Her eyes... her eyes are so sad.

But she has to fight. Her enemies must be destroyed.

The garden door locks; she blinks the rain away. It gives Endo the opportunity to rise, and as she shakes off the tears, she sees Fallen Stern coming for her.

Is it strange, that she only knows the sword's name?

Is it strange, that her eyes are hard as steel the next time Endo looks into them?

Mikoto raises Miroku into a left ox guard, a strangely Western style -- though one befitting the claymore-shape Miroku has taken. It seems impossible for such a small girl to hold such a large sword so well, let alone to bear the brunt of Endo's strike; but she can, and she does.

There are golden slits along Miroku's length. They appeared when Mikoto's breath stopped shuddering. They disappear when she growls, deep and throaty, golden eyes narrowed. It's as if she has another pair, as yet unopened, to see out of her weapon.

It's as if she's forgotten all about being so upset.

Mikoto moves fluidly, with a terrible scream, shifting from high stance to a diagonal slash as she dives forward towards Endo. She's trying to slice his sword-arm clean off.

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Demolition on Endo Naoki.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Endo Naoki perfectly counters Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Demolition, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Counter!  Endo Naoki's Reverse ability activates!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki's counterattack, Machtiger Schild, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Mikoto Minagi!

<Pose Tracker> Kyouko Sakura [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CP0Ks3ecOj8

She's performative. But even then..there's some scrap to her. Not everybody is so fit to stand ground against Kyouko in a stare down, and she always appreciates a good growl. Dancing like an arcade queen, she manages to sidestep the full force of her speartips, too, and at point blank range no less.

To her coy counter of a question, Kyouko offers no riposte. This girl prefers a wordly arena and she can think of no reason to indulge in her preferences. But despite her denial, words come for Kozue all the same as allies and antagonists alike call for this apparently popular person.

It annoys Kyouko, to be denied her full attention, even if that gaze never leaves her.

Kyouko does not know that Kozue is a duelist, but as she darts and weaves all throughout the empty spaces of the imminent assault, she comes to appreciate her opponent's nimble alacrity. She seems to be squirming her way to an advantage..fielding responses and finding the confidence to taunt the flame haired fighter in her spare time.

How dexterous of her. How masterfully performed..that lacerating lasso loops along longitude and latitude, looking to loose lengths of life from the long-haired lancer. Kyouko stares with an unblinking gaze, allowing herself a pygmy smirk as a criss crossing gridwork of humming ruby light radiates around her, snipping the oncoming attacks like so many rosebuds all at once.

And then she drives a harpoon towards the nimble girl's torso, confident that she'll hop as easily as any other grasshopper underneath an entomologist's pin.

"Don't worry. I'm enjoying it for all three of us."

COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura has used Masterstroke on Kozue Kaoru.
COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru narrowly braces Kyouko Sakura's Masterstroke, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Kozue Kaoru's Block ability activates!  Kozue Kaoru's Parry ability activates!

<Pose Tracker> Nao Yuuki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

The invitation is given, straight out -- and, after all, Nao is very good at hate.

It's the thing she's best at, really.

It is a blade that she's honed to a fine edge, ready to be wielded with equal ease against murderous invaders like SEARRS or obnoxious gnats like the unfortunate Takehara-san still webbed to the floor of that building she left earlier.

Like the spider her powers so resemble, she looks down at her prey with merciless eyes and a razor grin far sharper than even her own wires. It is warmed by the unmatchable fire of self-satisfaction. Nao saw her words hurt la Sirene. It was worth taking that lash of darkness across her quickly crossed arms, worth the chill that followed them.

Even as she starts to pull free, la Sirene feels a matching chill to her own powers in the nearness of Nao's claws, an index finger's tip especially, which lingers, for a critical, dangerous moment, right in the hollow of her throat.

Nao hesitates.

(There's a lot to be said there, a lot to discuss about those two words, but for all the honey-like slowness of near-death experiences, everything is happening very quickly, so we will leave it at that for the moment.)

Nao hesitates, and a moment later, la Sirene is too mobile to guarantee the shot, while at the same time, Mikoto's scream has reached a pitch she recognizes, from other times, times as bad as these. Maybe times that were worse.

She pulls away -- leaves her prey to her struggles to free herself, knowing that she still has time before la Sirene will be a serious danger again. Just a little time. Maybe enough.

In a graceless scramble that belies her own desperation, fingers -- fingers!, she's banished the Element on one of her hands for this -- shaking, she fishes her phone back out of her shirt, and thumbs down her playlist.



The concrete is warm on Nao's back, even though it's getting her painstakingly well-kept hair gritty.

"Hmph," she grunts at her companion, and her companion's companions, a small army of cats. "I see why you like it up here."

Lazily she watches the color of her phone's screen change with the music, dull in comparison to the midday sun overhead.

BGM: Spectrum - Florence + The Machine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcpngOvcBlg

When we first came here We were cold and we were clear With no colors on our skin We were light and paper-thin

Nao flushes a little when she realizes what's come up, and she rolls onto her side, turning away from Mikoto.

"This song is so uncool," she lies. "I'm not sure how it got onto my phone..."

And when we first came here We were cold and we were clear With no colors on our skin 'Till you let the spectrum in

After that there's no further point in denying anything; with a last sigh for propriety, she lets momentum carry her the rest of the way over, so that she's facing Mikoto now, almost nose to nose.

They listen to the whole thing together quietly. Afterwards, when the cats demand attention, it's almost a relief.



Nao flies the phone across the bridge towards the two greatswordfighters (great swords, greatswords, greatsword fighters, great sword fighters, all are true) by the simple expedient of sticking it to the webbed tip of one of her wires.

Thank goodness there was still a lamppost left to hang it from.

It's cranked up to full volume, and, no longer under fabric or polyploic matter, has at least a hope of making it into her brutally miserable friend's ears before she does something that would make today an even worse day than all those other days before.

Say my name And every color illuminates We are shining And we will never be afraid again

"MI-KO-TOOOOOOOO!!!" Nao screams in counterpoint, not self-possessed enough to fail to blush furiously at breaking her own cool mien to do so.

But some things are more important than being cool.

Some things are even more important than hating people.

COMBAT: Nao Yuuki has used Spectrum on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Nao Yuuki has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi accepts Nao Yuuki's Spectrum, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Mikoto Minagi is Reinforced by Nao Yuuki!

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Sayaka is opening her mouth to call out again, "Hey, Koz-" when she gets cuffed sharply upside the head by a giant key, which is a lot more elegant and menacing in practice than it sounds on paper. Stumbling back from her prancing assault in a daze, she starts forward again before her head even clears; she's learned to rely on her quick healing, and over-rely on it too.

Sayaka gets drubbed a few more times before learning her lesson, the whirling staff cracking into exposed limbs whenever she tries to pick a side to defend. Not wounded badly enough that her healing can't sort most of it out quickly, but presently outmatched, Sayaka ducks a high blow and scampers off to Garnet, leaping up onto her shoulder and seating herself there. "Back, back!" she says, like Garnet was both a truck and the driver of said truck.

When they have some distance, Sayaka hops up to a standing position on Garnet's shoulder, then down onto Garnet's palm. "Um..." She's eyeing Sailor Pluto's titanium defenses dubiously. "How about that... NASA thing." She refers to a Secret Attack by an indirect name in order to conceal it from Pluto's ears.

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [None] has posed.

Without missing a beat at the threat, she tosses back her own sort of rejoinder, "Ara. If you want to get kinky like that it's your business Araki." There's a hint of a smirk on her concrete covered face, "Just find a girl that's willing first." It's her own way of thinking she can help out Mami perhaps. By trying to throw Kasagami off her game in a fight with stakes this high.

But then red light flashes in that ruby cocoon of lattice work and her chain bangs off against the endless metallic eyes.

It's a little unnerving, like those diamonds are looking at her from every which way.

And then there's a flash of red as that girl drives her spear right towards her. Whipping out her sickle, she slides her foot underneath the chain link and kicks it upwards in the air.

The harpoon bangs against the jangling links before driving against the hooked blade, en route towards the hollow of her neck.

... and deflecting just enough to prevent a fatal blow

"Gck." That's a sound out of Kozue's throat as the spear just misses her neck, slicing off the coat over her shoulder again, leaving another stain right on the ripped part of her shoulder, hissing as she does.

After she gets over her initial shock from the pain though, there's a light chuckle out of her throat, "... heh heh..."

The way her eyes flit to the side it's like she wants to put her hand against her wound and knows she can't quite. Instead substituting laughter as her narcotic of the hour, "...ahahahaha... that's quite a boast!"

Twisting in a sudden jagged carousel of metal, the chain rivets off the ground as she spins in a wide arc. It's like what she does before, but at the last moment her arm starts to spin it back into whirling revolutions. "Because it's you...

Right before casting it forward with a sudden power like a pianist hitting the keys forcefully during a passionate cadenza. The chained fastball streaks outwards, in a shearing buzz of wicked blades, hoping to stain red upon red as she tries to send it dead center into her red rival.


COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru has used Subito Sforzando on Kyouko Sakura.
COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura perfectly braces Kozue Kaoru's Subito Sforzando, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Critical Brace!  Kyouko Sakura's Block ability activates!  Kyouko Sakura's Parry ability activates!

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet nods at the code phrase, grabs Sayaka and places her on her hair (AKA The Steven Taxi) for quick transport and takes a large leap backwards, putting considerable distance between the two and the implacable Guardian.

Garnet raises one of her armored gauntlets in front of her and it glows with transformative light, quintipling in size and stands at the ready for its passenger. Garnet seems to remember something and they glow again, and now have a handle just in case. The mom in her is hard to shake. She waits for Sayaka to board and then it rockets... upward?

Garnet leaps back to Pluto and shadowpunches awkwardly with her other arm, not waiting for the one gone to fully form so She seems a little, off balance. The punches don't seem very accurate. just quick, and irritating.

COMBAT: Garnet has started a combo targeting Sailor Pluto!

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

Endo takes what time he has, pushing to his feet, heavily favoring one leg now. He is given a moment too, to ruminate on their brief glance. There's something he saw in Mikoto's face that tugs at his heart, something familiar. Tears shed for a friend, pain not made from combat, but something deeper? Those are things he knows too well. He hopes, fleetingly, that La Sirene and the rest of the Chevaliers are holding their own.

And when their eyes meet again, what was there is gone. Only ferocity, once again. Maybe, when this is over, things will be different. Some time, but not this time.

Symbols whirl to life as Endo lifts his sword, this time not trusting only steel to protect him from Mikoto's savage strikes. There's magic too this time, an iron wall to catch the blade racing forward.


There's a brief flick of his eyes in surprise when, suddenly, his battle is now orchestrated. There's no time to worry if there's more it than that, though.

Again ugly violet triangles form, though this time they do so at Endo's feet. His hands grip his weapon tight, his face painted, breathing short. He launches forward again, the symbols beneath his feet acting almost like a springboard, giving him lift and speed he'd be unable to achieve on his own. His weapon arcs through the air, whirls in a circle as it gathers speed. Contrails of purple-black fire arc behind it, flashing lurid light across the space between closeby combatants.


He puts nearly all of his power into it, a massive strike to mirror Mikoto's previous.

COMBAT: Endo Naoki has used Meteor Absturz on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Endo Naoki has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi narrowly dodges Endo Naoki's Meteor Absturz, taking 51 Fatigue damage!  Mikoto Minagi's Fade ability activates!  Mikoto Minagi's Flash ability activates!

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The blade touches la Sirene's throat. The feeling that comes is indescribable. A moment later it ends and the feeling that comes THEN is very describable: saggy, lumplike relief. Her eyes close as she hears screams.

La Sirene writhes as Nao moves. Her attention is diverted and the tension in her wires feels less to her. She gets her other arm free, and starts untangling a leg while Nao -- she does something with her phone; in her inner despair mingled with the cold tempered sense of relief at not having found herself gouting her life's blood out on this bridge, la Sirene is having a hard time focusing on anything more than the raw physical.

Guns speak. Blades reply. Magic clashes.

Nao screams a name in three syllables. La Sirene's head curls, her hair falling obliquely, and she answers Nao then.

The words come out of la Sirene's mouth with a penetrant echo and a faint distortion. The concrete she's facing mostly towards, perhaps?

"What's wrong?" she asks.

"It looks like she's winning," la Sirene continues. There is none of the airy distance and mystery to her usual words.

"You'd remove an obstacle, if she won," la Sirene says. "You would not even have had to do anything. Another block to matters, removed."

La Sirene is quiet for several seconds due to a sudden full body cold tremor that she does not vocalize. She waits it out. She turns her face away so its contortion won't be seen by Nao and she doesn't look back even as she draws her foot, her leg, stretched at a balletic and gracious angle, loose of slips of wire.

"You could plunder him, for his Device," la Sirene continues. "It would no doubt /sell for a lot of money/."

There is the heat, at last.

There are other words la Sirene wants to say, but they run into each other in her throat, a half-dozen cutting vicious retorts or final remarks crashing and wrecking themselves as if there were a great disorder in the rail line that runs from her heart and her mind to her throat and her lips.

In the end it's just a pained and impotent gasping. Her foot comes loose, but she can feel the cold wash sneak up on her. Is she going to be able to stand? La Sirene herself cannot say for certain.

The wreckage slips past her lips. "Why do you all act so callous!!?"

COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has used Cutting Remark on Nao Yuuki.
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Nao Yuuki fails to dodge La Sirene de Diamant's Cutting Remark, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  La Sirene de Diamant is Psyched!
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant is unable to keep fighting!

<Pose Tracker> Kyouko Sakura [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5zTNr11kk8&list=PLeogPTA03KQ_vl0v9G04dexcCkBxfed_3&index=4

Kyouko's brow furrows. Even now, this girl can't scrounge up her full attention. Acting like an angel above, offering prayers for the faithful to steel them in their time of trouble. But she has her own crisis to deal with, and if she doesn't realize it yet then she will learn all too quickly. But all's well with the world. Tonight she wars with some she'd rather save, people she wants to live who insist on death instead. People she cares for.

For this stranger there is nothing. All the better if she's too busy taunting the likes of Kasagami to save herself.

She fights well, whoever she is. That slender swan neck of hers is unbroken yet, for all the red blemish to blossom against its lily field. Kyouko is confident that she commands full attention, now. The dancer's motions are that much less controlled. There's a jaggedness that was lacking before, a haphazard careen where there had been choreographed grace. As Kozue hops, Kyouko stands her ground, and watches.

Her ears hum as that angry wasp buzzes by in looping arcs, probing her space for inattentiveness, for a slow uptake. For exposed skin. No stranger to such a technique, she knows to wait when waiting is called for. And when it comes..all that misdirection gives way to something profoundly direct.

All she has to do is eschew panic..and to shift her wrist and the spear in her grip, ever so precisely.


The flat end of her blade rings like a tuning fork, absorbing the entirety of force that was meant to steal her away from all that she might ever be. She smiles.

"I know that you're afraid."

Ducking down low, she lunges for Kozue's belly..and keeps lunging past it, stepping beyond her target. Her blade again inverts position in the same moment that she stabs back to pick at her opponent's side. Her entire body follows through on the motion, crouching down and balling herself up to tackle at Kozue's legs from behind. Just after transferring the lion's share of her kinetic energy into a hopeful impact, her heel grinds the ground, propelling her away at a perpendicular angle as her hands lash out in her wake, blades manifesting and snapping at unseen speeds. At the crest of her jump, a spear length forms in her hands, jutting against the ground and halting her momentum entirely. Grunting, she reverses her course through sheer force and will, pushing herself up above Kozue's head, spinning her pole vault in her hands to slash down below in a half circle, landing opposite of Kozue from her initial launching point.

COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura has used Bloodcraze on Kozue Kaoru.
COMBAT: Kyouko Sakura has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru narrowly counters Kyouko Sakura's Bloodcraze, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  Kozue Kaoru is unable to keep fighting!  Kozue Kaoru is Quipped!  Kozue Kaoru's Reverse ability activates!  Kozue Kaoru's Tactician ability activates!  Stun and Trap applied to Kozue Kaoru!
COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru's counterattack, Paint it Blue, partially gets through, doing 7 Fatigue damage to Kyouko Sakura!

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> SUPER ROCKET RUMBLE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmMisr-o4pg

Sayaka leaps atop the now truly gigantic gauntlet, grinning openly at Pluto. When you have an attack this cool you can gloat about it a bit, it's okay. It will definitely work anyway.

"I don't need this, though," Sayaka grumps out of the corner of her mouth, looking at the big friendly handle popping up right when she's trying to be cool. "Look, no hands!" Is she making fun of Garnet? Probably not.

The rockets are loud and proud, and Sayaka gets pinned to the palm of the glove like a bug on a windshield. Groping around for the handlebar, Sayaka grabs it with great shame and turns her eyes to the sky, tears streaming back across her temples as the wind lashes her hair violently and wobbles her cheeks around. "SpaAaAaAaAce," she says, either out of fear or amazement; she can't remember because she immediately is thinking more about how her voice sounds like it's going through a floor fan. Sayaka hooks her arm through the handle as she breaks the clouds... she's not quite going to space but it's not too far off either. With a graceful loop-de-loop, Sayaka is deprived of gravity, floating weightlessly, the handle now quite easy to grip. "Whoa," she breathes. "Whuh-OOOOOOOH!" she screams, as the jet boosters kick in again and send it hurtling straight down. The giant hand breaks the clouds again violently, bringing a little poof of them down for a moment, and judders around trying to fix on where Pluto is. When it locks on, the thumb sticks up in either confirmation or simple satisfaction. Sayaka, gripping tightly with teeth locked, counts in her head.

The fist smashes down in a giant cloud of shattered concrete, cratering the nearby area. Sayaka is surely either dead or in for a long heal... but wait! Tossed up from the impact is a fluttering white cape and a determined blue head with hair inverted like a troll doll. She had let go before the rocket fell, and before terminal velocity could break her legs on its own, the impact itself tossed her back up, more gently this time. Eyes sharply tracking through the debris cloud, Sayaka wraps herself in her cape to protect from flying shards, falling straight through right to (and maybe on top of) Pluto.

Lashing about with her sword, Sayaka uses the advantage of temporarily concealed vision to make this a more brutish fight, with less room for Pluto's prowess to turn the tide. With raw speed and savagery she lashes out repeatedly, chasing Pluto around with scampering motions when needed. It's more Mikoto-like than Pluto has previously seen Sayaka, and more frightening.

"Wan sumoru..." A silver blade slashes a bright figure eight as the debris clears. "Suteppu for man!" Sayaka fistbumps the side of the half-buried hand with a metallic clonk.

Well it was briefly frightening anyway.

COMBAT: Sayaka Miki has joined the combo started by Garnet!
COMBAT: COMBO! Garnet and Sayaka Miki have used Combo: Super Rocket Rumble!, composed of Rock-it Gauntlets! and Furioso, on Sailor Pluto.
COMBAT: Garnet has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto fails to counter Garnet and Sayaka Miki's Combo: Super Rocket Rumble!, taking 49 Fatigue damage!  Garnet drains 20 fatigue from Sailor Pluto!
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto's counterattack, Garnet Dome, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Garnet!

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Miroku is hungry, but Fallen Stern is not ready for Endo to be dinner just yet. The obsidian blade meets a wall, magically summoned, and it cannot break the defense. Mikoto pushes, but Endo pushes back. In the end, neither sword draws blood; Mikoto leaps backwards, once it's clear the offensive is fruitless.

People who oppose you are your enemies, Mikoto. You must kill your enemies.

She begins to circle him, blade held low, searching for an opening. She is a wild beast, come down from the mountains to rip and tear; has she only been pretending to be tame, all this time? In that moment, Mikoto's eyes glowing like a demon, the answer seems clear.

Destroy your enemies. This is the will of your Lord Brother, Mikoto. Do not disappoint.

She can see the avenue of attack clearly in her mind. All she has to do is catch him off his guard, and open him from belly to neck. Then she will open La Sirene, and Mami, and Kozue, like a locksmith on a chilly night. Her lips part, and her tongue darts out to lick over her teeth. She can almost taste the blood already, as he pulls himself into position to attack. This is as it should be.


When we first came here, we were cold and we were clear...

There is a song, at the corner of her mind.

She's made half a circle before Endo's magic takes root again, propelling him forward with terrible force. Her warring mind is far from him; her instincts take over, leaping away again. It's just a hair too late, and Fallen Stern draws blood, a long line along Mikoto's left arm. It drips into the teal of her shirt, staining it irrevocably. Hissing through grit teeth, Mikoto is forced to transfer her greatsword to a single-handed grip.

When it's time to pray, we dressed up all in gray... with metal on our tongues, and silver in our lungs...

She grips her sword, lips raised in a snarl, and takes a step forward.


And at her name, Mikoto hesitates. Shaking, shuddering, blood dripping from her open wound, she turns her head halfway towards Nao. That song...

... it's the song they were listening to when she introduced Nao to her kittens, isn't it?

"Nao," Mikoto says, through grit teeth, "it hurts. But I can't stop, Nao."

People who oppose you are your enemies, Mikoto.

So say my name, and every color illuminates...

You must kill your enemies.

... and we are shining, and we'll never be afraid again...

Mikoto tries to grasp her sword with her other hand, but the grip is weak, and it makes her hiss in protest. "It hurts, Nao," Mikoto says, again, emotion staining her face like the blood on her shirt. "It hurts."

Her single-minded focus is broken, torn up by Nao's music and Endo's sharpness; more than that, she's /talking/. She stands, she faces Endo, but she does not attack.

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has finished attacking.

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [None] has posed.

Whatever grin, whatever easy confidence in Kozue's expression fades the moment Kyouko confirms her fear. It's easy enough to deny it to someone who doesn't know.

But this girl knows. And it's a game of chicken for a moment, on who will blink - before the lunge.

Of course it's Kyouko who wins that staredown.

Just as she lunges for her prize. And her sickle scythe slams again and again into her blade. In this back and forth desperate game of hooking parries and blinding slashes and thrusts. It's red on blue violence at it's finest. As red - red - red appears, overwhelming her with every single flinch.

With every single growl.

To whatever small credit, no matter how afraid she is, she gives back as best as she can, even beyond endurance.

Just like she gave Greer.

Until finally she takes several blows just to lunge in enough to grab Kyouko's collar, and whisper something by her ear. "Course I'm scared..." A light rasp, "... always terrifies me... when I see people... who are willing... to drown kittens... crush baby birds... for their bottom line..."

There's a hoarse chuckle as her grip weakens... and she sounds more raspy, "...S'like looking in the mirror."

And then unable to hold on any longer, she let's go, and slumps down to her knees, her fingertips sliding off her Element as it hits the concrete. "Damnit." Whatever fear she might have though, she's got enough dignity not to beg. In the same way she knew she couldn't beg the others before. Just sounding resigned to her failure, "Go on. Finish what your friends the Senshi started... just don't make her watch."

<Pose Tracker> Nao Yuuki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Nao is not immune to La Sirene's words.

"You don't even know me," she observes, though, without turning around immediately. (This is an ignorant statement, because Nori Ankou must know, at least from afar, of her delinquent kohai Nao Yuuki; but HiME Nao knows nothing of Red Future's connection to la Sirene du Diamant...) She can't tear herself away so easily from Endo and Mikoto's clash. "But if you think that my choice, or lack thereof, to steal and sell his sword thingy, absolves you of /your/ choice to use your magic powers for -- this..."

She gestures at the battlefield, the falling girls everywhere, the wreckage and debris, and as she does, her metallic claws reappear on her hands in a sparkle of summoning, fading back into existence first down at the knuckle, then up to each fingertip.

"...Instead of by, y'know, feeding the homeless or whatever, you're wrong."

She presses one of her low heels -- higher than school standard, lower than any sort of stiletto -- an innocent heel, in a way, the heel of a young maiden not fully into her prime -- and swivels back to face her opponent.

Her eyes are ice chips, but her words are colder.

"One way or another, we each gotta live with our own choices."

Hints of Nao's prior passion is all but drowned by the sharpness everywhere. It's her own sharpness -- the razor wires she was spinning with her own back to hide them, which she now releases, yet again, to surround la Sirene, to keep her out of this fight.

"Or die with them."

She shrugs one shoulder, lowers it.

"Up to you."

Nao walks away, and joins Mikoto, who is calling for her. With perfect gentleness, she drapes a hand, still clawed, across her classmate's back -- and points her free one at Endo.

Setting sunlight collects on the outstretched claw. It sparkles beautifully, and dangerously.

Now it's two on one.

"Walk away," she suggests to him, flatly, with the authority of the person who just convinced his fellow Human Sword-Comet to stay her hand, at least for one quiet moment. "Because pretty quickly I am gonna run out of sympathy, dude, if you decide to keep hitting /that/."

That being Mikoto, misery incarnate.

COMBAT: Nao Yuuki has finished attacking.

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

That dear flash of crimson dwindles, at the corner of Sailor Pluto's vision, in the unmistakable motion of a proud combatant crumpling on the battlefield. She feels Kasagami fall more than sees it happen, in the squeezing breathlessness that stabs her chest. The shout tears from her -- "Kasagami!" -- and that is all the senshi can allow herself in the moment, fear for the one she loves to span the utterance of her name.

Because Sayaka and Garnet have made a spectacular bid to demand every last bit of the senshi's attention. Garnet's more terrestrial punch lands first, smacking her into immediate awareness.

There's a demi-orbital fist rocketing straight down at Sailor Pluto.

Correction: there's a demi-orbital /thumbs-up/ rocketing straight down at Sailor Pluto. With Sayaka payload.

There are a few thoughts that whip through her mind, ripped and random like leaves in a tornado. Like the rapid calculations of speed and trajectory required to determine that it must be demi-orbital, not sub-orbital -- it couldn't have reached the Karman Line in the time it took to leave and return. And, much more simply: how is fighting in the Tokyo of the Here and Now /weirder/ than battling aliens out at the farthest reaches of the Solar System?

All of it blows away under the immediacy of needing to defend herself from the tremendous impact headed Pluto's way. There is no time at all, really -- and so its Guardian makes do with the barest slice left, throwing her will UP and OUT through the sacred lens that is the Garnet Orb.

That projected force of mind takes the tangible form of a half-dome of brilliant garnet energy, a shell hastily-formed but glittering with power. Without even a moment to crouch beneath it, she can only trust in what she has woven.

Metal meets magic, and... magic shatters! It is a splintering of shards that become violet-red motes and then dance to nothingness within the cloud of kicked-up cement, and Sailor Pluto beneath the hurtling force of it all, unseen.

When she emerges, painted grey-brown with bridge-dust, her limbs shake to bring her back up to standing. It is a painful journey of screaming joints and pure grit-teethed determination. She manages it, her will enough for this if it was not enough to protect her moments before against the combined might sword and fist.

Sword, indeed, darts in now at end of Sayaka's nimble arm, scoring more hits as the senshi pulls herself up and around. The stinging of a stubborn blade wielded by a stubborn girl... Pluto gives the blue knight a fearsome, dust-streaked grimace over the length of the crosswise Garnet Rod and beats feet backward as she can, seeking distance. She slings a torrent of rippling plutonic energy at her sometime-frightful assailant as she seeks it. The stoic sentinel still stands... but it is a skin-of-the-teeth thing, now, clearly.

COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has used Garnet Blast on Sayaka Miki.
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki perfectly dodges Sailor Pluto's Garnet Blast, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

It's been near a year now, since Endo took up Fallen Stern. Someone could put a number to the things he's seen since then--not even a big number compared to ancient Garnet, to golden Mami Tomoe, or timeless Setsuna Meioh--but if you asked Endo Naoki the number of them, he'd say they were countless.

But blood is not a common one. Not from another human beings, not from someone he'd fought beside, who he'd watched to the right thing to protect the people she loved. Not by his own hand. That doesn't happen often. It shouldn't happen at all.

He sees, in his minds eye, a dear friend. A little twin-tailed blonde girl nervously holding out a birthday present for her best friend. He sees the same girl, kicking a soccer ball around Ueno park, playing a sport for the first time in her life. Chasing down a theme park mascot for a picture, breaking a friend out of a pretend prison, cheering amidst a concert crowd.

He stood across from her like this too, a long time ago. As enemies, high above Tokyo, crashing together like thunder in overcast skies. But it wasn't that way anymore. Did it have to be that way again?


His eyes focus again, flicker between Mikoto and the red-haired girl that moves to join her. Nao's presence does not bode well for himself, and worse for La Sirene de Diamant. He can only imagine she's down, or worse. He can't spare a glance, but he's afraid. For her, and for the rest of the Chevaliers lost in explosive sound and movement. The best choice would be to finish this now. To capitalize on Mikito's hesitation, to take at least one terribly dangerous enemy out of the fight.


Or he could be brave. He could be like Nanoha.

"It doesn't have to be like this." He speaks now, his words pained from wounds. His sword lowers, touches the ground to give his wobbling leg support. "I can't walk away--but she can. There's always another day, right?"

COMBAT: Endo Naoki has finished attacking.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Sayaka pushes down as best she can on the Garnet Rod, but not only are senshi strong, this one is particularly /tall/, and leverage is an issue. She accepts Pluto breaking away, granting a trade of the distance Pluto needs for the break Sayaka wants. She feels a little loopy from her NASA mission.

"Garnet!" she cries, a generic call for help. As the Crystal Gem presses forward, Sayaka doubles back quickly to the giant fist. Pushing on it with both arms, she groans, unable to knock it over with the knuckles wedged down in the debris. With a quick jog back, she takes a running start and kicks it with both feet at once, knocking it to its side as Garnet and Pluto battle.

Picking herself off the ground, Sayaka sweeps her cape quickly before her to drop a brace of three swords. Plucking them one at a time like daisies, she stuffs them hilt-first between each knuckle of the giant hand, tucking them into place more carefully with the edge of her foot when she's done. Bending down, she hooks her gloves beneath it, but of course she cannot budge the massive hand no matter how she strives. "Shrink this giant thing!" she complains.

When Garnet complies, Sayaka yelps as it drops into her arms, the claws safely away. Now smaller, the fist clenches the claws quite tightly. Sayaka extends both arms and swings, letting the weight of the massive maniple do-si-do her around, until she's mimicking the technique of a shotputter. "Trade you!" Releasing it, she sends it hurtling at Pluto... but she's not intending for it to hit. She just wants to get it to the person /behind/ Pluto.

As the glinting, claw-armed fist hurtles towards Garnet, Sayaka drops another brace of swords and spreads her feet wide, switching from shotputter to soccer goalie in an instant.

COMBAT: Sayaka Miki has started a combo targeting Sailor Pluto!

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

La Sirene de Diamant looks at Nao with her strange pale eyes, set off by the streak of lining across them, and she cannot quite form words.

The wires come again. She had barely got loose, much less gotten to her feet. She curls up, perhaps the best she can do to protect her body from those wires. The surface of her outfit, the armor she wears against the world and to guard a body that feels tender and vulnerable in a fundamental way, holds; but she is plucked up now, inverted partway, like a true coccoon. She will not be interfering, although some of her strange light leaks out round the fringes.

Hidden thus, la Sirene's face, contorted with tears, is not revealed. She strives to keep her mouth shut, but even as a child she learned not to be uncommonly loud.

So her tears come in silence, and they run the wrong way, up and over her eyebrows.

Perhaps she is right, la Sirene thinks, and all of this is a childish game and we are wasting ourselves and all our dreams are nothing. Perhaps, she thinks. Perhaps.

There are other thoughts there, fluttering like bats fleeing the roost of a flooding church in a dismal swamp. Anger. Frustration. A desperate longing affection. A wound that the pressing wires don't stitch up. Her shoulders contort, squeezing inwards, and perhaps the grasp of the razor-sharp strings follows.

We helped Utena, la Sirene thinks to herself. At least we did that. That isn't nothing.

I hope I won't make Madoka cry, she thinks, and her shoulders go limp.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mikoto's right hand grips Miroku, white-knuckled from the pain. Fallen Stern speaks the words which are on her mind; if Miroku could speak, it would surely concur. This is her enemy, their enemy; he is right in front of her, she can still fight. He is her enemy. She must attack.

But there's a hand on her shoulder, tipped with long, sharp claws which somehow rest gently along her shirt. It is Nao's presence, a friend she can still trust, which keeps her from charging.

He speaks. Mikoto growls. She knows he can walk, well enough to attack; she knows he must mean for her to flee. Her first instinct is to attack, but Nao's comforting presence helps the words come.

"Fallen Stern's wielder... thinks I can walk away? Thinks I can... abandon Eri?" The words are pained, pulled through grit teeth. "Eri, who I love? Without hunting ground... Eri would die. Eri's... not even here... to defend. I am. I must. No other day. No other day!"

There's still a hand on her shoulder, and Mikoto tilts her chin, though she doesn't look away from Endo. She's only speaking to her friend, now, but she's in too much pain to lower her voice; it's easy enough for the others to hear. "Nao, please understand... I can't run. I can't. My Lord Brother... I know..."

Tears stain her eyes again, but they're tears of pain now. "... would never allow it."

Perhaps it makes sense, now, the way she howls in pain as she grips her sword anew, nostrils flaring against the smell of her own blood. It seems impossible -- feels impossible, the way she's panting open-mouthed, sweat beading over her skin. She shouldn't be able to fight in the condition she's in.

... what sort of monster is Mikoto Minagi, who can charge forward, blood flecking behind her, screaming like a cornered beast?

Her sword drags against the concrete, too heavy to lift, sending sparks flying behind her. She plants her feet and swings, a low cut full of momentum, the greatest amount of power she can possibly summon in her current state.

No fear. No pain. No defeat.

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Destruction on Endo Naoki.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Endo Naoki narrowly counters Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Destruction, taking 43 Fatigue damage!  Endo Naoki's Reverse ability activates!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi is unable to keep fighting!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki's counterattack, Asteroid Eilen, partially gets through, doing 12 Fatigue damage to Mikoto Minagi!  Critical Counterhit!  Mikoto Minagi is unable to keep fighting!

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Garnet reaches for and catches the Gauntlet Sayaka throws with one armored hand, and (relatively) gently fires off the fist on the opposite arm, not at Pluto, not into the "net", but TO the goalie and regrows the stump. The goalie deftly catches and returns the gauntlet (in this odd soccer game using nothing but hands), with more swords in tow and Garnet catches it with her new regrown hand.

Were this an actual sports game, the player in between the shots might well be annoyed enough to descend on them both to beat them up, but, this being a war instead, the /uncertainty/ of an eventual aggressive reaction from Pluto is removed.

A small comfort perhaps.

Garnet holds the two caught gauntlets in her hand, and all (four?) of her hands glow with transformative light as the new gauntlets are shapeshifted back into her form. The sword blades are ascended from between the fingers to being held in the gauntlets themselves as claw blades, and when Garnet flexes her fists, electricity crackles through her new "claws".

So empowered with the combination of her own and Sayaka's magic, She pounces towards Pluto and brings both claws down on her at once, electricity, a strange music, and blue light arcing after them!

COMBAT: Garnet has joined the combo started by Sayaka Miki!
COMBAT: COMBO! Sayaka Miki and Garnet have used Combo: Clawrnet, composed of Perfect Pitch and Heavyweight Clamping-on, on Sailor Pluto.
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Garnet has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto narrowly dodges Sayaka Miki and Garnet's Combo: Clawrnet, taking 36 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Pluto is unable to keep fighting!  Sayaka Miki and Garnet are Psyched!

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

Endo's face is grim, his teeth gritted tight. Maybe he's not good at this. Or maybe it wasn't meant to be. But Mikoto can't back down, and neither can he. Her words tear at his heart, her cries for her friend and her duty. It feels too similar. Too familiar.

But there's only one way for either of them. Forward.

Mikoro goes first and Endo follows suit, if without as much force behind his steps. Dark blades meet again, crash and clang. In another duel, at another time, it might end differently. If they were ancient samurai perhaps they'd pass in silhouettes, one to stand and one to fall. Were they foiled fencers, a clean stroke and salute.

But what happens here is fierce and messy. It's Endo's blade that gives first, slides aside and bares his armored chest to Miroku's point. His barrier jacket doesn't hold it back, not everything. It's shorn deep, and he can feel a sudden heat. He gasps for breath, screams through gritted teeth-0

And, with a jerk to the side and the last of his stumbling momentum, he strikes back. Not clean, not practiced, no finesse, just a shove forward to clear enough space to bring the haft of his blade crashing into his opponent as he stumbles to the ground. No edge bites, but the damage is done.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

With the terrible greatblades Mikoto and Endo wield, there was only one way this could have gone.

Blade meets blade. Mikoto hefts her claymore, with an agonising scream, and slips through Endo's defenses - both of them, it seems, since his clothes armor him. She smells blood. She can't be sure whose it is.

In the same motion, Fallen Stern comes down, haft over head. It's quite literal; Mikoto is too short, stance held too low down, and Endo is able to strike her about the temple with the haft of his blade. It may not have been the most practiced move, but it is enough.

As she falls, she sees the fallen forms of the girls she was fighting alongside - and against. A single glimpse, confused. It's difficult to decipher. It makes her heart hurt. ... after all, she can see people she cares about on the ground.

That's the last thing she thinks, as she hits the ground, Miroku clattering to the concrete next to her. Her blood stains the bridge, and she's silent. The world around her seems disquieting, now it's not filled with her bloodcurling screams.

<Pose Tracker> Nao Yuuki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

'I can't walk away -- but she can. There's always another day, right?'

Nao's eyes, which had become uncommonly wide with concern for her friend, narrow to /slits/. A vein starts to pulse in her forehead. She is /not/ amused, and going from cool cucumber to hot potato very rapidly.

"Oh, /fu/--" One can easily imagine how she was going to finish that sentence, but -- Mikoto is talking. Mikoto is /talking/, and that's quite remarkable, under the circumstances. It is, in a way, something of a triumph of humanity, or, like, the power of music, or something.

So she shuts up, biting off the ending of her reaction to instead chew on her lip with a mix of total irritability towards Endo and (admittedly) sappy feelings for Mikoto.

Embarrassed by it all -- especially Mikoto's grief, which she feels like an intruder in the presence of -- she even looked away, letting her eyes skim the glinting water of the river behind and to the side of Endo, rather than at the two of them directly.

This turns out to be a critical mistake. Because, of course, it all happens so quickly.

Unable to react in time to Endo's riposte, she can do nothing but watch the second half of their titanic clash, to drag her gaze frantically back to see his haft impact her friend with dreadful force. She can't weave a web to protect Mikoto; she can't even interpose herself, something that would make her laugh if it was suggested to her on any normal day. The very /idea/. Puh-leeze. Like she would ever. As if.

Now she's quivering in rage at the missed opportunity, because in this moment, at this time, yeah, she would have done it, after all. Rage at her own weakness, her inattention, that led to Mikoto sprawled out at her feet, sure.

Mostly, though, it's rage at Endo.

BGM Swap! Mezame (live) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfAnWWF8OWw&feature=youtu.be&t=305

Her smile is manic, her teeth clacking in her mouth, as she looks over at him. The sun has mostly set by now, and she is mostly lit by one of the last few lampposts. At her present angle, it leaves her face half illuminated, and half in shadow, and her shadowed eye is bright red.

"As I was /saying/," she spits at him, "/FUCK/ you. You arrogant, self-righteous asshole. When you drag your punk ass home later, remember that YOU are the ones who came here today. YOU started all this. Telling us that you can't walk away -- telling /her/ that -- hahahaha...HA!"

And then, her eyes screwed shut with fury, unshed tears hot beneath her lids, she brings back the bloodcurdling scream, howling at the sky. It's always in vogue when there are HiME around. The contents, though, are something perhaps marginally less predictable to her opponent.


One of the shadows on the bridge -- the lamppost, of course it's the lamppost -- begins to wriggle, and then it starts to /split/. It becomes two, three, four shadows, more...


No, nine. Let's not forget the massive, golden blade-tipped scorpion's tail to go with the eight teal spider legs. Her torso is so long and straight that it's almost a tenth appendage, golden too, armored. It's basically entirely jaw and fangs, two up and two down, the better to eat you with, my dear. She is a good twelve feet tall and eight of those feet are nothin' but maw.

The technomagical demon that is Nao's Child hisses. Smoking saliva drips from between those terrible jaws as the only forewarning Endo gets, before a gout of toxic, acidic spiderweb blasts towards him with more than enough force to knock him away from Mikoto, and quite possibly squarely off the bridge.

"Walk it off, jerk," mutters Nao, as she kneels down to check on Mikoto, to raise the girl's head to her own knees. She's so /small/. It can be hard to remember that they're the same age.

Nao is small too, though, delicate, fragile-looking. Normally her whole modus operandi relies on that fact, but right now, as her shoulders quiver with fear and anger, she's forgotten that as well.

COMBAT: Nao Yuuki transforms into Nao and Julia!
COMBAT: Nao Yuuki has used Toxic Blast on Endo Naoki.
COMBAT: Nao Yuuki has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Endo Naoki narrowly counters Nao Yuuki's Toxic Blast, taking 18 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Endo Naoki is unable to keep fighting!  Endo Naoki's Reverse ability activates!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki's counterattack, Machtiger Schild, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Nao Yuuki!

Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

There's nothing to be satisfied about for Endo. A temporary victory over someone he doesn't want to fight, and dire wounds to show for it. Nao's voice is hazy in his ears, distant, but not far enough that the words don't cut.

"I'm sorry."

He doesn't get up again. It's too much work, to move, to make any more rasping words. To devote thought to anything but re-crafting the shield he'd brought to life earlier. A flat wall of energy, spinning triangles meant to guard from the hideous menace of Nao's child.

It doesn't hold, cracks and crumples as globs of webbing break through and send him blasting backward. The world whirls, and coherent thought becomes difficult. The ground and sky are a kaleidoscope, near impossible to distinguish, as are the figures of friend and foe alike. And as he vanishes off the edge of the bridge, the world goes dark.

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

Whatever temporary freedom she's gained from the jabbing edge of Sayaka's saber is lost soon enough. Garnet demands it with the hazardous imposition of her presence, and Pluto can't spare much thought for anything other than staying on her own feet. Things started strange and continue that way as the senshi finds herself in the middle of a fist-themed game of Keep Away.

Not that she really... /wants/ the fists, exactly. Pluto is not leaping up to intercept them, that is for certain.

She doesn't catch the import of the dangerous game Sayaka and Garnet are playing, not in time, not until she finds herself facing a Crystal Gem made somehow even more fearsome than usual by the addition of /sword blades/ to the anvils she calls hands. Pluto doubts she can weather a normal punch from Garnet -- a normal punch from Garnet is like taking a hit from a directed nuke shaped like knuckles.

All she can do is try to twist out of the way, but there's not enough speed left to knees still rubbery from the meteoric impact of NASA. Electricity arcs across the claws, and she thinks, at the last moment, that she hears music...

Then she's rolling off the backs of livewire blades that leave crackling welts, bouncing off knuckles that feel like so many individual freight trains thudding across her side.

She loses time to a brief and airborne unconsciousness, only to crash back into merciless wakefulness against what's left of a railing. The senshi lies there in a bruised heap for what feels like forever, but she knows to be only seconds. Black flashes behind her eyes turn a shaky survey of the battlefield into a strobe-like experience, full of fallen Shepherds and broken chunks of bridge.

The dark-and-red crumpled glory that is so dear to her, is also not so distant now. "I'm sorry, Eri-chan..." The failure to hold fast tightens her throat, cuts off further words, but Pluto finds she doesn't have more to say. She just drags herself on torn gloves and skinned knees toward Kasagami.

She's aware that Mami Tomoe may still stand over her fallen foe, aware of her own inability to defend herself. Sailor Pluto has been vulnerable to the Golden Queen before. She does not expect to wake with a blanket on her; all she can hope for is a small mercy, here.

Pluto rolls the limp Kasagami into her lap, her own weary arms over strong, loose shoulders, and begins the slow and painful and shameful journey of retreat. Away from the remains of the bridge and the myriad fallen, away from the trails and museums and shaded greenery of Ueno.

<Pose Tracker> Nao Yuuki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Nao's shaking begins to revert from fury to fearful relief as the immediate menace of Endo recedes into the distance. She's pretty new to this whole Battle Royale thing, and it does not occur to her that he could pull the same stunt she did, and come up the other side.

(Julia disappears too, in this case a sign of victory, not defeat.)

She weighs Endo's apology against Mikoto's head in her lap, and shakes her head. Not because she finds it wanting, but because it keeps /echoing/ in there, like tinnitus. 'Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry...'

"/Yeah/ you are," she mutters halfheartedly, at first visualizing his offscreen suffering, and then trying not to. "Yeah."

It's very difficult to get Delinquent Yuuki to participate in school events, but if she were bound and tied and held at knife point to do the samurai event at Sports Day, she would definitely be the warrior, not the horse.

Even with adrenaline on her side -- redoubled as the crashing climaxes of the other battles rage all around her -- she is unable to make serious progress bearing Mikoto away.

(Forget Miroku. A laughable thought. It can take care of itself, anyway.)

Blowing sweaty red hair out of her face with a huff of frustration, she plunks down, keeping herself between Mikoto and any possible surprise engagements, and retrieves her cell phone. It was still dangling from a wire, all this time.

She stops the music with a firm thumb, and swipes away from iTunes and over to Contacts.

When she speaks, she speaks loudly and clearly /because/ of the battle raging on; she wants to be sure she is heard, which means, for better or for worse, others may hear as well.

"Yo," she half-yells into the phone. "/TO-KI-HA/! Meet me at Ueno Station ASAP, someone beat up your cat and I can't get her home by myself. You feed her too much ramen for that!"

Her eyes glitter as she stares outward at nothing and land, at random, on Mami Tomoe.





"Yeah, don't worry, Tokiha-san, I'll tell you all about it when you get here."

The call ends, and Nao's half-carry, half-drag of Mikoto towards the train station resumes.

<Pose Tracker> Kyouko Sakura [None] has posed.

Kozue's sickle plants kisses all along her. Their marks are not stains of lipstick, but they are red all the same.

But it is not enough. And now this unknown girl clutches at her collar, as Kyouko had just clutched hers, and kneels, and commits. Though both bleed it is red that still stands. She frowns, slightly.

"I don't drown kittens. I don't crush baby birds. Don't kill for fun...Goodto know you would, though..."

As for the girl, or the woman..the whoever Kozue doesn't want watching..well, that sounds a little more likea conversation, and there's hardly time for that right now. Time, in fact, has one foot out the door, and Kyouko can't afford to lose it. Buthere she is, faced with a choice.

Decisions, decisions...time may not wait for her, but choice is more malleable, if properly hammered into shape. So Kyouko chooses.

BGM CHANGE - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsi1leDatEU

Twisting her wrist and sweeping her arm, Kyouko smashes the flat end of her spear against Kozue's temple.

That trenchcoat sags like an empty leather sack as the cobalt column crumbles to the ground on her side. The loose pebbles on the bridge can barely dig into Kozue's cheek before chains sprout like vines around herarms and legs, bending them back so that ankles and wrists all come together in a classic hog tie, magisteel links binding the bunch as one. Staring at her for a moment, another chain takes form by the newly sleeping beauty's face, wrapping around her mouth to serve as a makeshift gag.

Can't be too careful in kidnapping.

Bending down low, Kyouko growls to herself with some exertion, hidden muscle tone making itself known as she hauls her human cargo up upon her shoulders. That flirtatious sickle is draped around her shoulders like a boa. She walks slowl at first, adjusting to the weight, but she builds momentum quickly, her soul gem shining bright as her steps become walks become trots become a dash to clear the bridge for Ueno beyond..for the bridge lacks what she now needs.

There are many small touches of brilliance at work in Tokyo's municipal engineering, and few greater fans of its planners than she. In this moment she is thankful for something that few of its inhabitants ever notice, let alone appreciate.

A manhole is never far..

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Kasagami, of course, said that she would have enjoyed it too. This could be quite the parting shot... But Mami already acknowledged that it wasn't one of her kinder impulses, and she shrugs lightly. "...I'm sure that's true." Their battle is starting to come to a close, for now, as Mami dismisses what weapons she has remaining. She looks down at Kasagami, looks to the other battles as they unfold, expression grim. ...And that's when she sees Sailor Pluto, rolling towards her, bruised, shaky. She watches her, for a moment, as she begins to pick up Kasagami.

"..." She has respect for the Guardian of Time. ...She has respect for people gathering up those they care for. Mami /could/, she knows in that moment, eliminate a threat to her once and for all, make her school life altogether simpler, remove someone many won't miss, even as tired as she is; Pluto is vulnerable, which makes Kasagami fulnerable.

"...I won't stop you," she says instead to Sailor Pluto. "Either of you." ...Which is when she hears Nao yelling a name that she /definitely/ doesn't get along with. Nao's eyes glitter; she stares outward at Mami. Mami stares back at her, for long moments. "Who even--"

Her eyes flicker next to Sayaka--and then she tries to find Kozue--

"Kozue!" Mami calls, alarmed, seeing Kyouko leaving. She sees that gem shining bright, she sees her dashing, and Mami starts forward. "KYOUKO!"

...It's anger, thistime. But Mami tries to raise her arm, and a sound of pain stops her; it's still dislocated, still needs tending before she can keep fighting, she still has to think of her magic, but--

Mami takes off anyway. ...Kyouko has a head start, though, even as Mami holds her hurt arm with her other hand, trying to keep it in place, running after her to try to catch up.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

It is a dark moment for Sailor Pluto. Her immortality may seem at grave risk. There's pain and confusion, and the hurt of seeing her beloved Kasagami fallen, and the shame of defeat. She has such gravity about her as becomes Madonna to Kasagami, and bears her away with dusty arms and a heavy heart.

Sayaka, at the same time, is whooping and giving Garnet a high-five low-five back-and-forth then fistbump combo while whooping. This is a compliment to Sailor Pluto, believe it or not. You see, the thing about fighting a force of nature beyond mortal ken is that you don't really feel all that guilty about it. Anyone particularly upset at defeating Lavos in Chrono Trigger? Even Madoka Kaname had no problem with that. And to Sayaka...

"WOO!" Sayaka shouts. "Get out of here you creepy beansprout! You think we're out of special attacks? We've got a phone book of 'em! Call Garnet Hotline now to get beat up again! Biiii!" She's pulling her eyelid down and sticking her tongue out.

Wow, Sayaka is annoying. If Sailor Pluto is anything more emotionally sensitive than a pillar holding up some mystic fundament of the universe Sayaka cannot even comprehend, that's going to have to be Kasagami Araki's problem for now.

"Ah hah hah hee," Sayaka giggles her way down from her adrenaline high, putting her hands on her knees to pant off the effort of the battle. "We... beat Sailor Pluto." She'd seemed utterly invincible at the start, taking the full force of Garnet and Sayaka /combined/ head on and defeating it repeatedly. "Well, the space program is for dreamers," Sayaka states authoritatively, thumping her chest with a palm in solidarity with the towering Ground Control officer-slash-spaceship beside her. Smiling lopsidedly at Garnet, Sayaka pushes off her knees and stretches, pushing her elbows back with a grunt. Now that she's gotten her wind back she should help the others.

"We can really do this," she dares to say aloud. She had assured them all that they would win before they started, even, but this is different, this is new. Sayaka indulges herself with just a short glance towards Shinjuku.


"Senpai?!" Sayaka cries, spinning around to search the chaos of the half-ruined bridge.

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [None] has posed.

Furrowing her eyebrow as if momentarily thinking she got the other girl all wrong - when Kyouko clarifies all confusion seems to fade into this rueful look. "Heh." Kozue has a splotch of red on her otherwise blue shade of lipstick giving her this split lip look without any hint of a smile. She gives this light shake of her head like she feels like Kyouko got it all wrong, "Killing for fun...." She wheezes once as she clamps her hand upon the shoulder wound. A futile gesture in the wake of thinking she's about to die, "...s'not what I meant."

But whatever the case is. She's not clarifying that further. Like she thinks getting in some last word here would be even more futile than putting a hand on her shoulder wound. Whether Kyouko believes her or not she doesn't think would change the decision of what's going to happen.

Unlike Pluto before, strangely she doesn't bear Kyouko even half as much malice.

She chose to get in her way. Between her and Mami.

Every day she had after she was expelled was a blessing after all. Living on borrowed time as she'd been. Only a matter of time before Ends of the World or the Outer Senshi or any one of the people she pissed off came after her.

"Well? Don't make me-"

And then the impact of a spear flattens her, giving her just a few seconds of thought as her senses fade first.

Not having had time to comprehend exactly what hit her and how, her three thoughts before blessed unconsciousness comes with the belief she's dead and not coming back from this.

Her first is gratitude that Sayaka was probably distracted by her battle elsewhere.

Her second is that gratitude that her brother is nowhere near here.

And her third is wonder that it didn't hurt more... some vague distant part of her wishing that it had.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

By the time Sayaka knows anything is amiss, it seems almost too late to intervene. She follows a flash of yellow to find Mami, then her eyes snap along Mami's path to find the fleeing Kyouko, and the third stop on this journey, the one that counts, is just a little nictation of the eye down from there.

She had not even expected Kozue to be here, though that will offer her no comfort later. And she had been at Mami's side, infallible Mami, so in the heat of the moment Sayaka had focused on Pluto, and now as if out of nowhere Kozue is bound, dust-stained, bleeding from a chain-gagged mouth.

All things considered, Sayaka is the least mobile of the Puella Magi, with the most limited tools for controlling her movement about the battlefield. But in a straight line along the ground, boots pattering, she fares better. Better certainly than the wounded and spent Mami. Sayaka's healing has left her relatively hale from the battering she got at Pluto's hands. Desperation hastens her. Soon she blows past Mami, buying herself nothing thus far but a somewhat closer look at the girl she loves being borne away unconscious by a red wolf.

"Kozue! KOZUE!" Sayaka might run like this for any Chevalier, but Kyouko can still detect what may be an unexpected intensity of pain in these calls. "No, no, no... Sakura!" Well, apparently Sayaka can get mad enough to stop using 'Anko.' Kyouko is already at the manhole cover. Sayaka sacrifices a little ground to draw a sword and curl through an underhanded pitch, wrenching out a shout with violent effort, sacrificing form for power. As Kyouko reaches the manhole cover, a length of silver sinks into it, a diagonal sword in the stone that will king no one, and in no way impedes the operation of the manhole. Unable to risk hitting Kozue herself, too far back to stop Kyouko from entering, Sayaka just stands where she is, wheezing with effort as her shoulders heave, cobalt eyes burning into Kyouko with something more like pleading than rage.

<Pose Tracker> Garnet [None] has posed.

Despite her usually stony demeanor, Garnet is both used to, and enjoys the excitability of the young. When Sayaka high fives, she returns them gladly and smiles softly. Deep down, she's also very pleased at their victory, and especially the teamwork that made it possible. The first few assaults that Pluto weathered like an eternal sentinel were worrying and disheartening. But they kept trying, and worked together, and together, they prevailed at last, even against such a formidable power as stood before them.

The celebration is exuberant but short lived as attentions quickly turns to Kyouko's abduction of Kozue, and the golden figure of Mami Tomoe glows golden in the night pursuing them both.

The thrill and relief of this victory after so many bitter defeats, courses through Garnet like electricity, and she charges that power, she focuses on the Future, scanning the rivers of possibilty to see if she can stop Kyouko even from this great distance with a torrent of her righteous fury.

But she gasps and stops, and instead jumps off the side of the bridge, the accrual of magic ebbing the space around where she stood, briefly.

She disappears into the darkness over the side, and there is a thump of a large object grabbing onto the side of the bridge, and soon Garnet reappears from below, cradling the body of Endo Naoki in her other arm, its gauntlet shapeshifted to hold him with the gentleness appropriate for his wounds. She lifts them both onto the bridge, and looks off to the distance where Sayaka and the others gave chase to the Red Menace, and goes to check on and aid La Sirene.

<Pose Tracker> Kyouko Sakura [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_kEKW_lL5k

Not what she meant? Kyouko nods to Kozue in the dwindling moments of her waking life, a brusque affirmation of her words. She doesn't doubt her. Why would she? She doesn't know a thing about her..not even her name.

But, midstride, moments later, she gets a hint. Mami's fury is a rare bird indeed, though Kyouko is no stranger to it. She knows better than to stop, or to turn. It's easy enough to picture the gleaming gun barrel staring her down, no need to gawk long enough for her to line up the shot, or to remind her old friend of just where her soul gem sits..

She doesn't gloat, or hesitate, or ponder her actions. She simply runs on down that narrow hallway where once there seemed so many exits and options.

Sayaka's voice rings out next, and the name she calls rings louder than when Kyouko first heard it. Kozue, Kozue, KOZUE...As her own name is heard, her destination is at hand. Panting slightly, exerted from the run and exhausted from the fighting, a narrow strand of chain-linked spear hooks into the heavy plate's access holes. A silver streak buries itself in the brown iron, more ceremonial and declarative than anything else, and only then does Kyouko turn to regard her pursuers. Only then does she see Mami squeezing speed from a limp, and Sayaka, gasping and desperate and afraid.

She can smell the distinction in that fear..the specialness. The more-than that sets it apart as exceptional. She doesn't know its name yet, nor its disposition. But Kyouko can sense that it is there. She doesn't glare at Sayaka, nor sneer. She just looks at her with all the fatigue that she feels, far more than she's accumulated from this night alone. Her chain snaps the manhole cover aside, sending the heavy metal clattering off against the pavement. And she calls to the girl who she taught how to fight, so long ago.

"I'm not a monster."

And then they are gone, the Puella and her prisoner, swallowed into the darkness of the sewers. A faint red glow can be seen just past the lip of the maw. Closer inspection would soon reveal a humming crimson trellis sealing the entrance off for awhile.

Kyouko is gone, and Kozue with her.


Coughing softly, Kyouko bends down low, shrugging her bounty off of her shoulders and onto a cot in a cramped little room, one of perhaps dozens scattered among the bowels of the city's infrastructure. In moments she will pat down her prisoner and confiscate anything of note, but for the moment Kyouko's hand goes for Kyouko's phone. A sterile white light casts clinically along Kozue's face. Minutes later, a number of cell phones buzz and ring, and an image of the unconscious girl splashes across the screens of every Shepherd with a phone, of the Outer Senshi and of Homura Akemi, with a few spare words underneath.

"Who is this? Who are her people?"

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mami lets Sayaka's cheers, in the moment, her shouting, wash past her, shaking her head. This... Well, this she doesn't much like, for once. The high is something, all right. ...But then, Mami is not so excitable about victory. She's won many times in the past, and knows full well how close it can be. How different it can be. But while Sayaka is talking what they can do--

Mami is running. Mami is watching Kyouko and Kozue, fear and guilt and pain being shoved aside for /worry/. ...And she watches Kyouko go. She sees the faint red glow, and she knows what it is immediately. Kyouko... Kyouko says that she isn't a monster.

But she says it to Sayaka, not to Mami. Mami can see that. She can see it all too well, hear it, understand it. Because the two of them know something else. What the two of them are, what they've become in the years since those days feeling in touch with a family again, for just a little while...

Mami's foe is gone by now. But she calls out--not to Kyouko. "Sayaka-chan," she calls out, makes it up to her, places her good hand on the other girl's shoulder. "...We won't find her now. We can't break that barrier, and she knows these places better than we do."

She thinks of something Eri told her, and shakes her head.

"...The only way to get her back is to keep going. And we will." Lowering her hand, Mami turns, and starts back, wincing, towards the others, to check on those who she can help, but her mind is full of thoughts of Kozue, and of others. Of... A lot of things.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Kyouko's fatigue is not a hopeful sign, but it is not the slammed door she expected, and Sayaka's eyes remain fixed on her, irises trembling with desperation. She's leaning forward like a hunting dog. She doesn't understand what Kyouko's feeling, not at all, but she clearly cares and cares a lot, is thinking only of that.

It might be flattering if it didn't take a kidnapping.

The words for Sayaka have the weight of a summation, but they are written in Greek. Sayaka's eyes flick back and forth across Kyouko's face, comprehending only that no, Kyouko is not going to give Kozue back. It's difficult for anything else to matter right now.

"Sakura!" Sayaka shouts in anguish. The truce she had plaintively offered by ceasing her run is shattered when Kyouko leaps, and Sayaka gets a few inches into what will soon be a fervid sprint before a soft palm graces her shoulder. To do even the smallest, most incidental violence against Mami Tomoe is anathema to Sayaka, not only in ethos but down to her very instincts, and she halts at once rather than brush past her senpai, however harmlessly. The coiled panic in her is restrained, but Mami can feel it vibrating beneath her hand as Sayaka turns her confusion now upon her senpai. It takes her a few moments to decipher what she's being told; she's reading it from her memory because her mind is too clogged with images of a stolen Kozue to listen in real time. But when she remembers properly, she slowly lets her fists unclench, and parts her teeth with a little pop of a sore jaw. Mami's right. That grid of red diamonds, like a spread of playing cards, will take a while to break... and once inside Sayaka would be Kyouko's prey in the tunnels, not the other way around. The house always wins. She swallows unhappily, swaying a little when Mami releases her shoulder.

"You came to get me, huh?" Sayaka asks the blocked-off hole in the ground. "Well," she wipes her cheek roughly with a white glove, clearing dust off a smear of pale cheek. "I'll come to get you, too."

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mami can feel that violence in Sayaka. SHe knew it would be there. It should be there. ...But she doesn't give up on it. She doesn't relent in what she says, in the logic she offers. Sayaka sways, when Mami releases her shoulder, and Mami as she turns to walk back towards the others, to check on them, does not hold onto her hurt arm this time, does nothing for her dislocated shoulder yet, allowing the pain to rest in her mind. ...But she's barely with it; her mind is elswhere, past latticework, past an old church.

"If that's how it is," Mami murmurs to herself, to Kyouko, to her oldest friend...

"...Then /I'll/ have to be."