2018-05-22 - Hunted! The Brittleness of Black Glass

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Title: Hunted! The Brittleness of Black Glass

Lera takes Mikoto to safety, after her horrific berserker's clash and subsequent draining by Vita. She finds a different side to Mikoto, there - one much more fragile and so much less hateful than she's seen before. Lera tries to help, but Mikoto realises her guilt, and leaves...


Lera Camry, Mikoto Minagi


Tama Outer City - Nishitama Park District

OOC - IC Date:

2018-05-22 - 2015-04-19

.****************************** Tama Outer City *******************************.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Nishitama Park District +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
 The largest, but least densely populated area of Tokyo, Nishitama is on the
 westernmost border of the great metropolis, where city has become town,
 which becomes forest, which finally becomes towering mountain. Consisting
 mostly of woods and mountains, Nishitama is home to lush greenery, ample
 wildlife, and fresh flowing water that has yet to be tainted by the city
 below. Fishing and hiking are popular here, and in good weather,
 city-dwellers who long to stretch their legs can camp out in the forest
 without ever leaving Tokyo's borders.

 The spiritually inclined can find a wealth of opportunity in Nishitama's
 mountains. The nearby Mount Mitake has been regarded as sacred since time
 beyond memory, and a Shinto shrine at its peak safeguards its considerable
 power. Mount Mito was forbidden ground throughout the Sengoku era, a policy
 which preserved some ancient beech trees on its hills. Finally, the
 2000-meter Mount Kumotori is the tallest in the area, with a clear view of
 distant Mount Fuji and much of the region from its summit.

 All of this natural beauty is a mere hour and a half from Shinjuku Station
 even at the extreme end of the district.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Players +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Lera didn't just leave Mikoto in an alleyway.

She is not, despite appearances, as reckless as she once was: she doesn't bring someone who has expressed a willingness to kill her friend to her apartment. She did, however, move to the park and find a bench she knows is a little out of the way. She laid Mikoto down on it, and got a pair of bottled waters. Lera's is now emptied, leaning against the wrought iron leg of the bench. Mikoto's is untouched, sitting next to it, and a few beads of condensation run down it.

Lera is sitting on the ground, and leaning against the side of the bench. She glances back over her shoulder sometimes, peering at the girl -- thoughtful, but not willing to wake her up.

She hasn't touched Miroku. Mercifully.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Lera is wise not to touch the claymore. It rests against the ground, one of Mikoto's arms dangling over the side of the bench to clutch its hilt even in sleep. She's been out for a few hours, but, then - it's not unusual, after being drained.

When consciousness returns to Mikoto, it happens slowly, in fits and starts. Everything aches. She groans. Her head jerks, shifts against the bench. Her fingers tighten. She takes a pained breath.

"Nnn..." Mikoto's teeth grit as she's wrested from her fitful slumber. She feels - fuzzy. Like there's cotton balls all over her, making it hard to think. But there was a fight. An enemy. She -

Mikoto's eyes snap open, wide and terrible. Ah.

Defeat. Utter and complete defeat. She didn't stand a chance. She was wounded and alone.

And then - and then - she doesn't remember. She doesn't remember why she feels so weak at all. Why she feels like an average girl -

Mikoto gasps, grip tightening around her sword as her head turns towards it. No, Miroku is - Miroku is still here. She can still feel it, in her mind, against the jagged edges of her heart. It's still right here. It's just...

... it's just, everything's muted. Weakened. Dimmed. Her warrior's strength has been taken from her. Again.

Mikoto isn't sure she could call Miroku back to her, the way she is now. Isn't sure she could bring it to bear against her enemies.

Right now, she isn't even sure she can stand. She feels so shaky, so weak, so diminished.


At least Miroku is here, this time. At least Miroku is safe. Perhaps Mikoto is worthless, now, but she can still protect her blade. She can still do that much. Maybe that much is fine.

Tears sting the corners of Mikoto's eyes, and she takes a shaky breath as she turns her face against the bench. "No," she sniffles, because it's not fine. It's not fine for Mikoto to be like this. She's supposed to be strong. She's supposed to be a warrior.

Even her voice sounds so tiny, to her ears. So weak, so sad, strained and broken.

And then it hits her: the bench. Nature. Not Shibuya's streets at all. Mikoto's breath catches in her throat and it's not a matter of comfort, any more, because she was defeated by an enemy and - and then -

Her head lifts as desperate eyes cast around the park. But she doesn't find that vicious little girl, leaning against the bench she's laid on. She finds -

"Lera..." There's something, at the edge of Mikoto's mind. A voice, from amidst terrible pain - screaming, in a different way entirely to Mikoto. Screaming at that girl to get back, and -

Mikoto groans, free hand fumbling up to grasp at the side of her head. She doesn't remember. She doesn't remember, and the lack of it is jagged and sharp as she reaches for it. She mustn't.

But... it's possible it was Lera's voice. It's possible Lera saved her. It's possible. And she does not snarl, as she lowers her hand, as she looks up at her. Her expression is hurt, because she is hurting, but more than that it is open, and there is none of the wariness or threat she has presented so often to her recently. Mikoto is hurt, Mikoto is damaged, Mikoto is scared. And Lera must have saved her. She cannot bear to make an enemy of her, right now. Cannot bear to posture or to growl. Not to someone who has helped her. Not to a saviour.

Someone, anyone, cries her lonely heart, please show me any scrap of kindness, I cannot bear this pain again.

"Lera saved me..." Mikoto coughs, her throat coarse. "... right?"

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Lera felt it wrong to touch the claymore. It wasn't, really, a conscious decision born of caution -- it felt disrespectful. One day, though, she may be glad for that.

When Mikoto stirs, though, Lera sits up straighter. She turns; it's not a graceful thing, that turn, and she is sitting on her knees and peering back at Mikoto. She has transformed back into her regular form; her school uniform is a little dirtied, the skirt stained with the dirt of the park's ground along the he hem.

She stays quiet through Mikoto's realizations and working through it. Her lips are a tight line, as she watches her, and knows perfectly well: being drained feels like getting hit by a truck. It is not altogether dissimilar from catching a bad bug.

A bad bug, however, doesn't cut a magical girl off from the power that defines and drives them. She does, however, look down at Mikoto and sees the hurt look. That makes Lera flinch, but she hears the question. She nods, slowly.

"Yeah," she says, quietly. "I did. I, um--I saw what she was doing to you. I tried to step in before she could finish the drain, but... I didn't manage that, y'know? Are you--uh--"

She reaches down, then holds up the unopened bottle of water. "...I got you this?"

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mikoto very rarely gets sick; she would be a poor excuse for a blade if she were laid low by something as simple as illness. It means she has little frame of reference, for the weight in her limbs, the sandpaper in her head. It's...

... it's not pleasant.

For once, it doesn't seem like Mikoto is trying to make Lera flinch. She swallows, nodding to the stumbling explanation. So... she was drained of her power. ... she doesn't remember. Maybe it's for the best.

That question, unfinished, has a very plain answer, in the way Mikoto reaches for the water only to fumble and miss. She gets it a second time, going slower, more carefully. She struggles to push herself up - fails, once, twice. The third time she manages it, pulling Miroku up to lean against the bench before she finally releases it to rest there. It seems she can handle its weight even without her magic.

"Thanks," Mikoto mumbles, as she struggles with the cap on the water bottle for a moment before getting it open. Drains four gulps, all at once - gasps, afterwards. "... thanks, Lera." It doesn't seem like she's just thanking her for the water.

Mikoto clutches the bottle, as she looks down at it. Is she... is she... no, she's not. She's really not.

"Lera, I don't understand," Mikoto's voice shakes. The fight has drained from her, as surely as her magic. The eyes she turns on Lera again are indeed bright - but they're bright with tears, now, and they reflect the vulnerability in her voice. She is not guarded or unkind or hard; she is shattered, torn open, every piece of her black glass heart on pitiful display. "Don't understand... why she did that to me. Did I... do something? Did I hurt her..? I... I don't remember, Lera. Don't know what I did..."

Mikoto shudders, breath and body both, closing her eyes against the tears, against what she's sure is Lera's judgement. Her voice is so unsure. "I - I don't know but - maybe... maybe someone she loved got in my way or... let someone die or... I, I dunno. Do lots of things wrong... memory's not always good..."

Her breath catches in a sob, as she curls painfully in on herself. She is small, so small, in structure and speech and spirit. "I must've done something... right?"

The alternative - that she was just preyed upon for no reason other than her weakness - it's too horrible to consider, and her shoulders shake with her tears.

She is broken, unguarded, vulnerable, so easily crushed. And yet she is the monster who decimated Mami in her nigh-uncontrollable berserkergang - who terrorised the Chevaliers, time and time again, implacable and terrible - who broke Endo on obsidian spires meant to eradicate titans.

The monster who has sworn to kill Endo Naoki. The monster who so terrified Mami Tomoe.

It would be so easy to destroy her as she reaches out with her words, heart in hand. So easy to neutralise the raging threat of Mikoto Minagi, in this moment. She's halfway there already. It would just take one... little... push.

But - she said she wouldn't cry or feel regret. Why, then, is she sobbing as she enumerates her sins, struggling to understand why she's been hurt?

If she's really the monster she claims to be, why is she acting so human?

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.


Lera trails off, and she lets Mikoto finish. The 'thanks' is met with a nod, as she isn't sure what to do with it, for a moment. She looks up, though, surprised at the shaking of her voice. She had a few ways that she imagined this going; she thought an awkward thanks was possible, or maybe quickly leaving, or maybe even a short talk. She did not, however, imagine tears and uncertainty.

"It's... it's not like that," she says, quietly. "You didn't do something. The Wolkenritter, they're... they're out to find people who can use magic and drain it. They need people with a lot of magic, so... people like us. It's to fill that artifact that she had, that book."

No, she thinks; not that book, the Book.

She shakes her head once. "You didn't do something to provoke her," she says. "You just... met someone who was angry, and desperate, and won't say why because she thinks she has to hurt people to protect someone she loves. I don't know who that person is."

She looks down. "...I can only imagine. It's not your fault, Mikoto."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

She didn't do anything. She didn't provoke her. It wasn't her fault.

"But I - but just - for no reason?!" Mikoto's breath hitches out in another sob, chin to chest. The noise she makes to try and assure Lera that she's heard her is trembling and small. She's not a terror, now. She's a girl, a girl, sad and scared and hurting.

And Mikoto sobs, because she felt how similar that girl's strength was to hers, but she never imagined she was like her. It's unpleasant, considering that her enemies have the same driving force behind them. It's unsettling. Enemies are just enemies, but - but -

- isn't it true that she's hurting people to protect someone she loves, too?

Mikoto shakes her head and swallows, taking a shuddering breath. "People who attack me are enemies." No matter if they're like her. "I won't... let her get away with this." She tries to be firm, in her declaration - but it's a fruitless endeavour, right now, with no volume to her voice at all. The attempt is just sad.

Another hungry breath, another. She is trying so hard not to keep crying. "How long... will I be useless, this time?"

And how terrible a truth that is, laid out in such trembling tones, almost as if she's afraid. That Mikoto, unable to fight, has no use at all.

- wait, 'this time'?

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"...not for no reason," Lera says, carefully. She shakes her head firmly. "For her reason. It didn't have to do with you. It doesn't mean she didn't have a reason. She... all of them. They're trying to do this for some reason that we don't understand."

Lera shakes her head. SHe looks back at Mikoto, and then she frowns for a moment at the declaration of enmity. She doesn't disagree, though, immediately. The question, though, surprises her. Her eyes widen.

"This time?" she asks, quietly.

But, she does owe an explanation. Lera hesitates, before she says: "When it happened to me, I couldn't use magic at all for about three or four days. Some people it's less, some it's more. It doesn't... really make any sense that I know of. Different reactions, I guess. But it'll come back. And...you're not useless, just because you can't fight."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

"If I'd done something," Mikoto sniffles, looking down at the bottle in her hands, "deserved it, I'd understand, but... but just, being attacked..." She shakes her head. "... targeted. Alone, and injured. Hunted," and her shoulders slump forward with the shame of it.

She's supposed to be better than that.

She listens to Lera's explanation, gaze rising to watch her as she speaks, and the worry is drawn clearly on her face. But she says it'll come back, and Mikoto lets out a relieved breath. "So... not forever." She'll be able to fight again. She'll still be the person she has to be.

But Mikoto lowers her eyes, again, chin ducking to the side. She hums, uncertainly, between lips tightly pressed together. "... I'm not like Lera. If I can't fight... there's no point to me at all."

Her breath is shaky, again. "I... I thought I was strong. But - but they keep - taking it away. First Jasper, and now... that girl. And there's... nothing I can do," Mikoto clutches the bottle, and there's such hopelessness to her voice. "I need to be strong..."

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"There's... there's a lot of people and things who do it without caring who they hurt--at least, not specifically, y'know? It's not about who they're attacking, to them. It's about why they're doing it," Lera says, quietly. Her lips curl down into a frown. That frown only intensifies, as Mikoto keeps explaining.

And even when she looks away, Lera keeps watching Mikoto. She shakes her head, quickly, at the end of that statement.

"That's not true," she says. "There's always a point to someone besides fighting. You're... you're still the friend of a lot of people. People who wouldn't hate you, or shun you, or you think less of you if you couldn't fight. Fighting is something we do. It's not who we are."

She looks down. "And... and being strong, that comes from the people you love, y'know? Not because of them."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mikoto shakes her head, hands clenched tight around that bottle. It doesn't burst, from the pressure, because her muscles are so heavy and clumsy and weak and she cannot possibly bring her strength to bear. It's just a centering presence in her lap.

She doesn't look like she believes Lera's words at all. There's a gulf of misunderstanding, stretching between them. Because Mikoto Minagi was made to fight. But - but her friends - friends who wouldn't hate her, or think less of her -

'I'd love you even if you couldn't fight.'

'I really am glad you're here, Mikoto.'

'You can be there for her, at least. Right?'

- Mikoto swallows, squeezing her eyes shut. Her voice is so quiet, so uncertain. "... that's what... everyone says. But... but it's so hard to believe, Lera."

She smooths her thumb over the label of the bottle, not quite able to lift her gaze. There's sadness, in her eyes, and a strange sense of isolation. "'Cause... it is who I am. Who I gotta be."

She shakes her head, again, braids whipping across her face. "... I need to be. 'Cause it's for people I love. If I can't fight, for them, I... that's who I am. Never been anyone else."

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"It's okay to fight for the people you love. It doesn't mean that's all you are, though," Lera says, still insistent and still refusing to bend on this. Her voice stays quiet, though, and almost gentle. She isn't as worked up as she was before. It may help that Mikoto isn't being hostile or promising to kill Endo. It may help that she just carried her to safety, not more than an hour ago.

She keeps her ale brown eyes on Mikoto, that darker amber shade that can be more intense looking than she really means. "You're also a friend to them. That defines you, too. But, really..."

She looks down.

"...You decide who you want to be. Not your friends, not your family, not even fate," she says. "You do. You can be more than a fighter. You can be a fighter and someone else, Mikoto."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

It may help that this Mikoto is entirely different, to the ones she's seen before. Her screaming battle-rage, her plain cheerfulness, her concern for a near-stranger, her awkwardness and complicated sadness and hatred, her warning and threat - none of them are present, here. She is carved open in her pain, strangely docile, so blatantly seeking comfort.

How strange, that all these people can be one in the same. Mikoto is a complicated girl.

Mikoto glances up, only to glance right back down again. She's uncertain, again almost scared, and she takes a deep breath to try and steady herself.

"I..." Her voice trembles. Her heart clenches in her chest. "... want to be what I am."

'What,' again.

"I don't... understand, lots of things. But, 'cause I'm different, I can be... a warrior who can defeat any enemy," and strangely enough it's almost like she's quoting someone, there. "I can be strong. Means I can help. Means I can keep them safe." Mikoto shakes her head, and her voice is small and lost. "... why wouldn't I decide that? It's only thing which makes sense."

For some reason, she seems so incapable of accepting that she could be anything else.

After all, her family did decide. And they cannot be denied.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.


Lera tries to find an answer to that, but she cannot. This girl is so different than the angry, hate-filled one that she spoke with before. And yet, she can see the commonalities. She can see the same girl who will do anything to protect them.

"Safe," she says, softly. "I... I remember what Sailor Uranus said, about keeping people safe. It's important, but it's not everything. It's a start," she finishes. "It's..."

Lera hesitates, falling quiet again.

She swallows, and she starts over. "It's important for people to be safe. But it's also important for them to be happy -- to have something to smile about. People who can do what we can... we're supposed to be a light. Something to keep them safe from the things in the dark, but to shine something on their lives and make them brighter, too."

She shakes her head. "...So, yeah, I think you can do more than keep them safe, y'know?"

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mikoto looks down at the bottle of water in her hands, rather than at Lera. Keeping them safe isn't everything...

"Yeah," Mikoto agrees. "Protection's not everything. Not even what I do good. Gotta be offensive, destroy their enemies."

Oh, no.

But really, isn't that the best way to keep someone safe - if your mindset were brutal enough?

Despite the strange logic in her words, they're not unkind. She speaks plainly, quietly, and even when the uncertainty is gone there is still a hint of trembling to the words, as if Mikoto is afraid she won't be heard.

She's quiet, for a moment. Fumbles with the lid of the water-bottle, again, opens it up, takes another drink. It's returned to its position in her lap, gripped in her hands. "... I'm not good at being light. But... I have one. Lighthouse in the dark..." Her voice softens, at the words. "... I rely on that."

Mikoto looks down at the bottle, her voice uncertain again. "Making... everyone smile, it's, all I wanted. But, everything's so complicated. No one smiles any more, Lera. Or - or they're not real. And... and I really..."

She takes a shaky breath, blinking her eyes against tears. "... I want them to smile again," she says, and her volume fails her, voice cracking instead. "But - I don't know how."

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"I-I wasn't... really thinking that, actually, about destroying enemies..." Lera says with with wide eyes, looking somewhere squarely between mortified and horrified. She shakes her head quickly, though, and then her expression falls. She looks at the kid of the water bottle, and watches it sink lower.

She frowns, though, and looks down.

"...it's not--it's not easy, y'know?" she says. "Making people smile. Because it's... it's not something that happens because they're safe or because they don't have enemies. People who are perfectly safe won't smile, and people who are in danger find reasons to, sometimes. It's..."

Her shoulders sink, a little. "...I think it's the little stuff. Happy times, fun things, and knowing someone's there for them," she says. "I think that--that might help, y'know?"

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

"Oh." Mikoto looks up at Lera's words, sees that horror, and looks right back down again, and for all the world she seems chastised and contrite. Awkwardness does enter her tone, now. "... sorry. Didn't... mean to, scare."

Of course. Her enemies are also Lera's friends. She hadn't even thought of it.

That's a complicated web of emotions and implications which Mikoto isn't going to even begin to approach right now.

So Mikoto just shakes her head and focuses on everything else, instead. On how difficult it is to make people smile. But... Lera says the same things Eri's said, the same things Yumi's said. That if she's just there for them - that's enough.

And isn't it true that Mikoto tries to make sure Mai has fun, when Mai won't let herself have fun?

She makes a noise of assent, wordless, as she nods. "... so... I gotta show them, how to smile. 'Cause... maybe they've forgotten. If I just... give them good things... maybe it'll help. Just like before..." And how low Mikoto Minagi has fallen, that she doesn't sound completely sure. Lera can't possibly know how deeply the war has wounded this girl, who would have done it without a thought to its efficacy beforehand.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"It's... it's all right," Lera stammers out. "But... they're not... they're good people, too, y'know? My friends are a reason for me to smile." Her eyes look down, away from Mikoto finally. She doesn't linger on that point, though. Instead, she looks back -- and she peers back at Mikoto.

She quiets for a moment, and then she nods. "...Yeah. If you can bring something positive, it can help, y'know?" she says. "Sometimes, my friends have done that for me. But... don't push yourself too much, yet, okay?"

She hesitates.

"When I was drained, I felt tired a lot the first day or so," she says. "Right now, rest's important too. Or you'll make it worse."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

They're good people. They're a reason for Lera to smile. They bring her positive things.

Lera saved her. Lera brought her water when her throat hurt. Lera reassured her when she was frightened and alone. Lera tried to help her...

Mikoto's hands tighten around her water bottle, and her teeth grit. She doesn't like this complexity. She doesn't like it, because those people are still her enemies. She'll kill them if she has to. Some, she'll kill even if she doesn't.

"Sorry." Mikoto says it again, and her voice is hoarse and strained. Because Lera, who saved her from an unprovoked attack, who tried to protect her from her strength being taken despite who she was, must be a good person. But there's nothing she can do to change what has to happen. There's nothing, in the end, she can do to change who she is. "Lera saved me. I'm grateful." That much is true, no matter what.

She traps the water bottle between her legs, and swings Miroku's case around, zipping it open. With a steadying breath, she takes the claymore's hilt in hand, and guides it back into its sheathe. Once it's closed again, everything seems a little less threatening, as if it really could just be an innocent bag of golf clubs.

"... I'd better go." An edge of desperation, perhaps familiar, as Mikoto struggles standing. She's still holding the bottle in one hand, as she shrugs her case onto her shoulder.

Didn't she just hear what Lera said about resting? ... she seems pretty determined to start walking towards the station. Maybe... maybe she's going home.