2018-06-30 - What Lies Beneath 20

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What Lies Beneath 20

Having blasted the corrupted defense program, NachtWal, off of the Book of Darkness, our heroes join a freed Hayate Yagami in ending its threat forever -- and reviving the World Tree.


Hayate Yagami, Vita, Signum, Lera Camry, Nanoha Takamachi, Fate Testarossa, Setsuna Higashi, Steven Universe, Endo Naoki, Mikoto Minagi, Fuu Hououji, Takeo Akamizu, Kasagami Araki, Setsuna Meioh, Niramo Umokeshi, Amethyst, Chibi-Usa Tsukino


Tokyo: The Waking Nightmare

OOC - IC Date:

06-30-2018 - 04-25-2015

<Pose Tracker> Book of Darkness [None] has posed.


  • The World Tree activated, was used by Dark Fall to almost unseal existence's pillar of destruction, Dark King, and then instead the power was drained away by the Wolkenritter, into the Book of Darkness.
  • The Book of Darkness finished activating by murdering the Wolkenritter for their power, then possessed the catatonic-with-horror body of its master, hospitalized fifth-grader Hayate Yagami.
  • After throwing a Barrier over Tokyo to protect it from the most immediate effects of its activation, the Book sucked everyone into its pages to try to protect them from the horror of the oncoming end of the world, inevitable when its corrupted defense system goes out of control.
  • But everyone preferred an imperfect reality to a perfect fantasy, and returned to protect the world and people they love.


  • The Book of Darkness was willing to give them pre-apocalypse honorable deaths in battle instead of quiet deaths in a dream, and an enormous fight erupted.
  • It became increasingly obvious that the black-violet snakes on the Book's arm were not completely of her, but a marginally separate entity. Eventually Hayate Yagami's voice called on the group to blast the snakes off of the Book, apparently about to try something from within.
  • Unfortunately this was also the same moment that the Book, who had been casting spells it learned by draining the powers of the magical girls of Tokyo, unleashed Nanoha Takamachi's signature trump card, Starlight Breaker.
  • And although most Tokyo civilians are half a dimension over, a few are inside the Barrier for some reason, and were in terrible danger from this oncoming pink tsunami... many magical girls were rendered unable to stand by their efforts to protect them.




<Pose Tracker> Book of Darkness [None] has posed.

There is a terrible beauty to Starlight Breaker, but no one would ever call its light gentle. And it is ungentle indeed as it surges forward. Some, at the edges or further back in the ranks, stand, after. Others, front and center, fall --

-- but not in vain.

The terrified faces of Arisa and Suzuka, Chie and Aoi, Madoka and Chibi-Usa and all the rest of them, stare up from a courtyard that used to be a strip mall. There isn't so much as a scrap of architecture left to protect them now, much less a scrap of magic. All of their fortress has been ground away beneath the relentless force of Nanoha Takamachi's misappropriated trump card.

But the people inside -- at least for now, at least for just a little bit longer -- are safe.

The Book of Darkness is in no particular state to even notice, anymore. Some come for her in a frenzy, berserk with rage. Others come wielding the profound power of compassion. Still others fall somewhere in between these two extremes.

But the Book -- the woman who seems to be, in a very real way, the Book of Darkness, the Cursed Tome -- cannot hear them anymore. Cannot see them. Her eyes have rolled wildly backwards into her head and only her eyes are visible. Her mouth is contorted in a rictus of pain, one further expressed by a scream that, even if it is wrenched from the throat of just one woman, just one being, nevertheless sounds very much as one might imagine the dozens, hundreds, thousands of worlds consumed by her curse, crying out in agony, in their final moments.

Or just one Book's feelings, about those uncountable deaths -- the unnumbered stars winked out from the cosmos. Just one scream, after all.

The snakes are completely out of control. It's obvious that this is no symbiotic relationship; they are a parasite, and now, awakened, they feed. Slender serpents engorge into horrible, sluglike tentacles. Sharp, fanged faces sprout extra jaws and tongues and gape impossibly wide, sending bullets of black-violet power spraying in all directions.

Somehow this is only the beginning, too. The Book suffers terribly as its corrupted programming becomes ascendant, but nothing like the planet is about to.

The barrier, that half-dimension's distance between this wasteland Tokyo and the real thing, begins to tremble, creating the optical illusion of a strobe, 'lit' only by those machine guns' worth of power, at first.

But not at last.

Some bring illumination with punches; those with swords, wield them. Those without bring other forces to bear -- forces of earth and lightning and light itself, extensions of space, channels of power, raw and vast and thundrous.

There is no fighting from afar, but some get in closer than others, and whether they wish it or no, they find themselves welcomed with eager, hungry arms by the ever-expanding yet ever-tightening, constricting coccoon.

There are so very many snakes to 'blast away', as Hayate said -- no one can hear her now, just the scream of the Book, it goes on and on -- that even should some attackers, some saviors, fear for the integrity of the body at the heart of the toxic mass, their fears are unnecessary. It's like punching oil; a blast of empty space is created, and then it starts to slickly re-encroach. It's like cutting the sea; never fear for an arm, or worse. There are more than enough snakes to sate even the bloodthirst of the most enraged.

Those who are satisfied by the squelching, bursting, popping of energy-snakes unable to withstand them can reap a grand harvest. Those who are disgusted or horrified can too. Whether enjoyable or not, the process takes a long time. Too long. The scream continues, and with the falling snow and the falling ash, bits of snake fall too, fall and fall and fall...

And when, at last, there is for the first time more pale skin visible than pulsing, writhing snake (the skin is more than pale, in fact, it is glowing with a gorgeous, pure white light, a shimmering that unlike the other powers wielded here today, NOBODY has ever seen before) -- Blast Calamity crashes in like a tsunami, putting that singular Starlight Breaker, in its way, to shame. What reproduction of any one girl's spell can hope to match the creation of two hearts beating as one, with a single determination? It cannot.

Whether they will or no, no one can stay close.

The blackened, constricted silhouette of the Book of Darkness, in that pink and yellow maelstrom, becomes the shadow of a woman -- and then seems to become nothing at all.


INSERT SONG: Snow Rain ~ Ver. Holy Night ~ Kana Ueda https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9UH6PsUnBE

The white light spins around Hayate and the weeping Book of Darkness calmly, like a circular pendulum. The triangle that both contains and defines it is impossibly complex, the sort of thing that a dozen mad scientists might take a dozen years to scrawl out on a dozen dozen dozen blackboards and, afterwards, not understand what it is that they wrote in their single, transcendent moment of clarity.

The Book is completely distraught, sobbing in the little girl's arms. But the girl is both serene -- a confidence not unfamiliar to those who know the eyes of their friends who believe in them -- and firm. Fierce. It shines in her own eyes, which are a clear, brilliant arctic sea blue.

"I'll give you a name," she murmurs, she declares, and the Book's eyes fly open, shocked by the implication -- the simplicity of the solution, the cutting of this Gordian knot. "I won't let people call you the Book of Darkness or the Cursed Tome anymore. I won't let them, because that is not who you are."

Names are a powerful thing. The most powerful thing, some mages would argue. An old, old magic. To name something is to know it -- or transform it.

Hayate is not old, but -- as the Book has merged with her, and tried to seize total control of her body while blanketing her consciousness with sweet dreams, so too did she merge with it, and come to know it, and all it contains, down to the very finest detail -- she is powerful.

And now she knows her own power. And now she will wield it.

She runs her little thumb across the Book's high cheekbones, drying her tears -- left, then right, and smiles.

"A perfect name for you," she promises. "So strong and supportive. The Blessed Wind who protects us all... Reinforce."

And the dark place at the deepest part of herself -- of themselves -- becomes light.


Silence. The attacks have ended. There is nothing left of the snakes to be seen; where their broken bodies hit the broken stones of the World Tree Plaza, they seemed to be simply absorbed. And the Barrier seems to have found a second wind; this carefully separated pocket of reality is stable once more.

Where the Book's stolen body -- Hayate's body, to be sure -- used to be, there is now something else: a sphere of white radiance two meters tall.

Hayate's voice can be heard, coming from deep within. It is still the voice of a child's, but something about her feels ancient. Then again, there is a timelessness to oaths.

"The Tome of the Night Sky, Reinforce. I'll protect you with my life."

The Book -- the Tome -- Reinforce -- can also be heard. She sounds like the same person too, but... calmer. Clearer. The grimness in her tone is a familiar thing, but the fear -- the fear is unfamiliar, new. You cannot be afraid of what you have accepted. And now... she doesn't have to accept anything but her own duty.

"But... NachtWal cannot be stopped. The immense energy that's been detached will quickly wreak havoc."

Hayate's impish smile is audible.

"We'll deal with it. Let's go... Reinforce."

"Yes, Master."

"Master rights, initiated!"

The brightness of the sphere intensifies, as Hayate -- experiencing that magic moment that most girls do, the first time, when they know exactly the right words to say -- begins to claim her mantle in earnest. She doesn't sound innocent of these syllables, though. She knows what she's saying. She knows what she's doing.

She knows what to do.

"Linker Cores, reactivated!"

Four glittering dots, prismatic heartbeats, appear in a square around the central sphere; red, blue, green and pink.

"Guardian Knight system, recovered...!"

Each smaller dot unfurls Belkan triangles of their corresponding colors.

For the first time, Hayate's voice sounds a little bit shy. Or maybe it's just... coaxing. Like one would call a frightened bird.

"Come out, my knights."

And the central white sphere explodes, becoming a pillar, a column.

When it's possible to see again, there are five people hovering there. Four Knights... surrounding their Master. So, six people, because the Master is two become one, her hair a compromise between Hayate's brown and Reinforce's silver, her eyes an electric blue far less natural than Hayate's own. Her knight's garb a joyful combination of Reinforce's black sheath and the Wolkenritter's fashions -- the heavy, split battle skirt, the puffy-sleeved white jacket, even the hat...

...and the wings, the six black wings unfurling from her back, are also very familiar. But the angel they're attached to is no longer a fallen one.

Her gentle expression, though, is entirely her own. Hayate beams at her restored family. "It's okay," she pre-empts them. "I know all about it. Reinforce told me. It may not ever be possible to totally undo the harm we all have caused... but that is no reason not to try. We'll talk more later. For now... welcome back, all of you."

Hayate's arms spread wide, invitingly.

Zafira (who looks more like a man with doggy ears and tail than a wolf monster, at the moment) and Shamal, in the center of their respective triangles, are poleaxed by their own restoration -- by the revelation of Hayate's knowledge of their terrible deeds on her behalf -- and most of all by her warm welcome.

They wipe tears from their eyes. In Shamal's case, though, these glittering gems have greater power, which mustn't be wasted. She looks down at the grim plaza, spread end to end with magical girls in varying states of distress, and her heart opens.

For once, she does not have to practice the awful self-denial of turning away from their suffering.

"Klarer Wind, show them your power," she says softly -- and for the first time that anyone else has seen, the dowsing pendulums that form at her fingertips do not sketch frightening portals, the subtle and dreadful downfall of so many girls' powers.

It is a healing breeze that she summons instead. It feels like the promise of summer; it has no place here, really, in this awful near-reality, but the dissonance of its pleasant touch only heightens, rather than ruins, its effect. "Dear zephyr," she invokes, "Please, carry the wind of healing."

It restores energy, which is a significant statement that means many different things to many people. It is a warm candle in a cold dark room or a cool hand on a heated brow. Bruises shrink, then fade entirely, as do greater wounds. So complete is its effect that even torn, tattered or missing clothing is brought back, with a fading shimmer of green. "Lady of the Lake Shamal," she re-introduces herself to the group with an elegant spreading of her skirts, "And the Ring of Breezes, Klarer Wind. Healing and support are our specialty."

(Also, apparently, diplomacy is her specialty; there are fewer clearer ways to signal their apparent friendliness than this...)

Zafira grunts, scratching a gauntleted finger behind his blue doggy ear. "I am Zafira, the Guardian Beast of the Shield," he mutters, a little less comfortable with this whole emergency rehabilitation of their relationship with the Tokyo magical girl community, as started off by Shamal. He has savaged no few of the people around him. He would never sabotage Shamal's attempt to forestall another fight, though...

...or Hayate's faith in him.

The little girl, the little general, the little mother -- her eyes shine with relief as her family is returned to her. Though she retains her dignity, it is finally her turn to let a few tears slip.

COMBAT: Book of Darkness transforms into Knight of the Night Sky!
<Pose Tracker> Vita [None] has posed.

A pinpoint of red light, flashing as it is given renewed power. A lifeless bead, the Belkan scripture of the Night Sky rolling out of it in sacred hand. Breathed life anew by the miracle of the Book's awakened Master.

When the light clears, there is Vita, hale and whole, in her long crimson dress and hat adorned with bunnies and crosses, her fire-engine red hair bound up neatly in pigtails. Just as she was. Her eyes crack open, piercing blue and quietly calm in a way she is so rarely seen to be. Her eyes sweep across the destruction, down to the girls far below. Shamal and Zafira introduce themselves, formally and boastfully. Vita...

...pivots on her heels to look at Hayate, her mouth open to say something. Introductions later. She has something important to say. "Hayate! We--"

But Hayate cuts her off and the childlike Guardian Knight yields a step backward, a thousand emotions splashing across her face, shame and embarrassment and sadness, before one finally grabs the controls.

Her face twists in uncontrolled emotion, tears springing from those clear blue eyes, and she belts a sob that echoes across this dying (dimensional echo of a) world as she scrambles into Hayate's open arms, wailing, "Hayate! Hayate!"

<Pose Tracker> Signum [None] has posed.

Signum, the Cloud Knight of the Sword, lives again!

She breathes in. Everything comes back into focus. Her head turns. Hayate speaks and Signum's face, for a fleeting moment, crumples into shock, grief, adoration, love. Hayate does not renounce or condemn them. She wants to weep.

She has no time to weep. Her cheeks are wet nonetheless as she looks at the assembled defenders of this city, this nation, this world. She breathes in sharply - it's almost a sniffle. A second later, she speaks, and her voice is a familiar one. But perhaps something has changed. As if a burden was lifted.

"We are the Guardian Knights who gather before our mistress, she of the Night Sky," Signum says.

"I, Signum, the General of the Raging Fire. And," here with a sweep and a single sparkling flash she draws Laevatein, raising the great Armed Device above her head, as if indeed she stands at the head of a column. "The Demon Blade of Flame, Laevatein."

Laevatein speaks now. <<OUR SPECIALITY IS VICTORY.>>

Signum, maybe, smiled for a moment. The blade is swept down, sheathed anew.

And she then bows at the waist, profoundly. She reaches a nearly complete perpendicular posture. She speaks as she holds it. "I have been unthinkable in my behavior towards you - Fate Testarossa, Lera Camry, Nanoha Takamichi; Magic Knights; Pretty Cure. Your strength awes me. I cannot apologize sufficiently; I could not in a thousand years."

Signum straightens then. Her ponytail bounces a bit. "... It is deeds, not words, that matter now." She turns herself to regard Hayate and she sinks to one knee, her head bowing.

"We await your command." Another tear drips from one of her eyes, though they are closed.

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

Lera tenses, as the blasts clear away the writhing, horrible snakes -- and the people who, in a fury, had gone to attack the Book of Darkness directly. Her eyes widen, as she watches it -- the brilliant white light that explodes, that erupts out around it, and drowns out what she can see. However, she can hear voices over it. She watches, her heart in her throat at first, as Hayate Yagami makes her plea. She doesn't know Hayate Yagami; she has no idea who she is, where she came from, or what she is capable of.

A miracle, it seems.

Lera's apprehensive, tense expression breaks into a grin. It's a slow thing, spreading across her face as she sees the Linker Cores float out and the fear of lost friends dissipate. Then, she cries out: "Vita! Signum! And--and all of you! You're... you're back!"

Her eyes are wet. She wipes them on the back of a bare arm; her jacket is still long gone. She looks at Signum, then she shakes her head, firmly. Her cheeks are wet again. "It's--it's okay. You're alive. Whatever happened, we've got the whole future ahead of us now, y'know?"

Her bruises fade; so does a shallow cut on her side. The shirt and pants flash, sealing back up, and a crack running along Broken Ground's hammerhead is sealed up. She turns that big bright grin at Shamal, before she looks back at Hayate -- with Vita, in tears, hugging her. "...Thank you. If it weren't for you, then... then none of this would be possible." She wipes at her eyes again. "Y'know?"

COMBAT: Vita transforms into Crimson Iron Rider!
<Pose Tracker> Nanoha Takamachi [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

Even in the midst of battle, Nanoha feels a tremendous and overwhelming sense of sadness. To see her own power used against her friends. To see them fall one by one and be unable to protect them from it. Even if it was something that she couldn't stop she still feels the heavy weight and burden of what just happened. But...it also strengthens her resolve to do something... anything... to stop the Book.

As her and Fate and the others throw all of their power into helping Hayate and even helping the Book of Darkness, Nanoha hears the anguish. The horrible cries and the screams of the book are unlike anything she has heard before. And then, it finally stops and Nanoha, tired and exhausted from expending so much raw power, steps backwards, almost in shock that it seemed to work.

"Hayate! Can you hear us?" She looks at the white sphere that replaced the book and can hear the voices within it. There is pure joy and relief in Nanoha's eyes and then there is a blinding light which makes her look away from the radiant glow until it dies down enough to see again.

Nanoha sees the Knights suddenly in front of them and she gasps, calling each of their names in surprise. Her eyes focus solely on the Crimson Knight though. "Vitaaaaaa!!!!" Her lip quivers a little as she stands there choking back her own tears from seeing the Knights returned to their Master. Even though it's not over, she can't help but feel happiness at this reunion.

The healing energy that washes over them from the Knights and it is welcome. Nanoha can feel herself energized, standing just a little taller and feeling stronger than before. She offers a bow to the Knights, including Signum. Nanoha handwaves at Signum's apology, "Signum, I think we understand now why you did what you thought was best. We will gladly do what we can to help you and if we work together. I think everything will work out okay!" Nanoha is optimistic as she continues to allow the Wolkeritter to reunite.

Her eyes go from them to Fate. "Feito, you were awesome. Thank you for your help there!" She reaches out to embrace Fate tightly. It takes her awhile to finally be able to let go and then she looks to Lera and the others. "Thank you guys too! I... don't know what else to say." Nanoha looks a little shyly at them. "I'm...sorry that she hurt you." Why she feels the need to apologize in that moment for something she really had nothing to do with is just in her nature.

Then, even though Nanoha is overwhelmed by the reunions, she can hear Suzuka and Arisa calling for them and she runs over to the group they saved. "Guys, I am so glad you're okay!" Nanoha is sure that they have questions but instead of questions, she receives tearful hugs from both girls. "We thought you were done for! You and Fate were amazing!" They look to the others. "I mean... all of you guys were." If they have other questions, they hold back for now in light of their emotions running so high.

COMBAT: Nanoha Takamachi transforms into Barrier Jacket Sacred!
COMBAT: Signum transforms into General of the Raging Fire!
<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

That the civilians were spared the full wrath of Starlight Breaker is a relief. The Book goes more and more out of control, the cursed snakes writhing in their berserk ascent. And yet in the center of their rampage is a crying woman that's in pain. It's become obvious. The Cursed Tome - the Book of Darkness... it's by no fault of its own. The barrier strobes, the light fades and - she looks hopefully - expectant, as she can still hear them.

As Hayate gives a name, as she claims her power. But it feels like such a sacred moment. She doesn't dare say anything until she comes forth, resplendant in that newfound power, adorned by her armor. "Hayate!" The exhausted girl blurts out in relief - and triumph.

But a second word comes more quietly, "Re-in-force?" She repeats, looking sidelong at Nanoha.

Before she looks forward at the four Linker Cores that have appeared - her breath catching. As she dares herself to hope that what she'd said before... might... come...

... and then it does. "Signum! Vita!" Hayate is the first to welcome them back. But she's not the last. Fate watches the joyful reunion. As Vita cries and clings to Hayate, before adding more quietly, "Welcome back." With a smile on her expression she looks happy. Perhaps last time - they were enemies, but now she can sense that something has changed. Everything they've known has turned on its head and they can only go with the flow.

Shamal and Zafira introduce themselves and Fate says quietly, "Ah - It's nice to meet you both properly." Vita and Signum she'd both earned their names in battle but - she'd only truly met Shamal's hand, and seen Zafira in action.

However this power was familiar - the mysterious support Knight who had aided the Wolkenritter in battle shows off her healing powers. Looking at herself in wonder as the damage to her barrier jacket repairs - as all the myriad wounds of the battle vanish.

<Condition All Green... Thank You Sir.> Apparently talking to Klarer Wind - or Shamal - or both of them.

Nanoha praises her and she gets a little pink around the cheeks, "Ah - uh... I was... I was trying very hard. You were wonderful too - Nanoha." She looks to Lera - Endo - Passion and the others, "All of us were."

And then Signum apologizes to them. "Unthinkable?" Fate gives a soft shake of her head that shifts her twintails from side to side, "I know all about doing unthinkable things. It doesn't seem so unthinkable now that we know why you were doing it. You wanted to save Hayate. And we wanted to understand you." That smile returns, "And somehow... we both got what we wanted."

The way she says it, it's like she believes it's miraculous, something wonderful. After so many terrible things have happened lately. This one thing - it worked out. And no matter what comes next... it feels like anything is possible.

She holds out a hand towards Signum as if that hand were her own way respectful way to offer friendship to her, "Let's try to understand each other even better in the future- Signum."

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

A name.

Setsuna Higashi knows the magic of names better than most, knows how vital, important, transformative that they can be. She, too, spent much of her life without a name. So now--as she stands, looking up at brilliant light, listening, seeing Hayate's fierceness...

It touches her heart. Moments ago, it was all awful. ...Reinforced suffered so much. But now..

Passion's eyes glimmer too, a little wet despite her composure. The images of the battle will linger with her, just like the awful look that Sayaka had. All of it; but she can dwell on it later, think about it later. For now... It is a reunion, a second chance, and that's so beautiful. Passion puts a hand over her heart as she watches, smiling, looking between them and--

And suddenly she shifts to the side and throws her arms around Lera, hugging her tightly, unable to put into words all the emotion overwhelming her now. There's so much.

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki transforms into Crimson Rose Duelist!
COMBAT: Setsuna Meioh transforms into Sailor Pluto!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa transforms into Barrier Jacket Blaze - Full Drive Mode!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi transforms into HiME Mikoto!
COMBAT: Takeo Akamizu transforms into Chevalier Knight Lancelot!
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.


Was... was it over? Did they fail?


Darkness. Weight. Cannot move. Hurt. Tired. Scared.


A voice. Soft, but determined. A response provides a rebuttal, but not one the young voice will yield to. The other yields. The first beckons their closest forth.


A breeze, in this dark, lonely place. One with the feeling of warmth. That someone is there, to hold one's hand and guide them forward. Strength returns. Consciousness fades in, like the opening of an opera. The weight shudders--!

A massive pile of rubble begins to heave and roil, before a hand erupts out from under it! "AHHH!" calls the voice, as Steven pokes a head out from under the rubble, as a large piece of some kind of cityscape is tossed aside. Something has miraculously given him the strength to stand again.

Even more miraculous, he feels just fine. No wounds. No pain. "What happened-- oh no." The plaza is nonexistent. There is rubble and debria that might have been the plaza at some point left.

But there two points of light that are good. One that is whole, in this most dire of times.

A renewed family and a bestowed name.

%R"It's them..." the boy says. THe knights. And the woman-- wait, no. Different, yet the same. "You did it..." he says happily, tearing up. "Thank you."

Lion nearby roars his way out of a pile of rubble as well, making his way over. They boy hugs him as hard as he can. "I-- We all almost didn't make it!" A pause, remembering the rampant destruction. "What do we do now?" Though part of him thinks to the civilians nearby, also miraculously safe. Where would they go? How do they turn this around?

COMBAT: Steven Universe transforms into Serious Steven!
<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.

Lights burn and crash, Endo's and a score of others, all scouring and cleaving through the darkness engulfing the Book. And when purple-black fire finally burns away, Endo's shaking arms let Fallen Stern lower to rest against the ground once more.

He watches the darkness recede and the white light begin to bloom as Hayate and the Book converse, and watches still as the fusion of the two emerges from the blinding glow. There's worry in Endo's eyes, and then astonishment as more Belkan symbols begin to form, and each of the Wolkenritter takes shape once again before them.

Wounds begin to close when Shamal works her magic, gouges in his armor sealing up, bruises fading and cuts mending. His eyes remain on the group as Vita embraces Hayate, and Signum bows in apology. "Haa..." Endo's voice is quiet, and his hand scrubs away the hints of moisture from the corner of his eyes. "That's it, huh?" He doesn't sound disappointed, or angry, but more exhausted than anything.

5rWhen thanked, he can only manage a weary smile. "Nanoha-chan, Fate-chan, you did everything." He nods, adding, "Cure Passion and Lera-chan too, and everyone else."

COMBAT: Endo Naoki transforms into Barrier Jacket Aufprall!
<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Monsters know their own.

But it is only with dim recognition that Mikoto's terrible eyes fall on Sayaka, as their blades come so close to each other. It is only distantly that she recognises the same bloodlust in her. Her world is narrowed to an instant, as she falls upon the Book of Darkness. Her world is narrowed to destruction.


The Book screams. Mikoto screams. The snakes coalesce. Miroku cleaves through. An arm is nothing, to them - only the sign that there is so much more to be done. So much more violence to enact.

She is relentless and inexorable and she does not flinch at the wrongness of them. She has fought wrong things before. They fall. They all fall.

She does not flinch at the Book's agony, either.

She could not say how long it takes. Her world is narrowed to action and reaction and she does not think of anything at all but the death of the woman in front of her. Because Mikoto is carving away those snakes to get at what's beneath. Because Mikoto destroys her enemies.

It is satisfying to cut and cut and cut.

And when that radiant skin reveals itself, snakes sloughed away, Mikoto raises Miroku in a final executioner's swing -

- but it's so obvious, so easily-telegraphed, and perhaps it's no coincidence that Blast Calamity strikes her at that moment.

Mikoto's world is narrowed to the Book of Darkness and she does not see it coming at all.

She is caught up in the overwhelming energy of two hearts beating together; she screams. It is pain and rage and it is more befitting a beast than a girl. And when she is slammed against the ground, some ways away, she struggles to rise - and fails, her arm trembling and giving way underneath her.

She looks up, at the little girls called Fate and Nanoha, those Chevaliers who refused to even let her destroy this woman who threatens the very world, and she hates.

But her abilities are exhausted. She was running on adrenaline and fury and it has been knocked from her in one brutal, overwhelming blow. She can do nothing more but watch as the world falls.

As the Book of Darkness...

... there is a voice.

There is a voice which names her, with all the authority of a mother.

As the Book of Darkness - as Reinforce - is nothing but light.

As the light intensifies -

Mikoto's breath catches in her throat, dread settling over her heart as Hayate speaks those words. The Guardian Knights, restored - and light which explodes in a column. They are made whole, and there is another, like the dying girl but different, she is like the Book as well. Sharp eyes narrow in suspicion as she tries to make sense of it.

She's not talking like an enemy.

... even if she was, there's nothing Mikoto can do.

A sharp breath, as Shamal bids her device to show them its power. Mikoto tenses, bracing for the blow. But destruction is not borne on her winds - and perhaps it is a more clever answer to Mikoto's suspicion than Shamal realises.

Mikoto has faced someone else with healing winds, after all. Mikoto has managed to reach armistice and restore friendship with someone else, after all.

She cannot help but be reminded of Fuu's protection as Klarer Wind does its work.

She cannot help but remember.

The Ring of Breezes completes forgotten work, soothes the pain of Nanoha's might - and Endo's, and Lera's, and Fate's, at that. Pain becomes a memory, exhaustion left behind. She is whole.

She is whole, and she does not understand at all.

Mikoto rises, hand pressing against uneven ground, the other grasping tight to the hilt of her obsidian blade as much for comfort as for combat. She stares Zafira down, as he introduces himself - as Signum introduces herself, and apologises.

Vita does not. Vita leaps into Hayate's arms and cries. Mikoto looks away. ... it's just like...

"... Mikoto," she says instead, her tone guarded as she stares down the other Knights. She raises her claymore, fractionally. "Miroku."

It's an introduction, awkward and uncertain and gruff as it is.

Those golden eyes, uncertain, glance to Vita again. A dream in a dream in a dream - "... not shadows any more."

She does not go to her friends. She doesn't turn away from the Guardian Knights. Not when she doesn't know what to make of any of this.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

'Fuu! Fuu, get up! FUU!!!'

The Wind Knight expected to hurt more when she woke up again - assuming, perhaps incorrectly, that it *was* a matter of 'when' instead of 'if'. But while she reckons her own failings to be rather numerous, undue pessimism has never really been one of them. At any rate, she regains consciousness to the fairly-pleasant surprise that her body is *not* made up of agony that would make your average oni look sympathetic and pass the aspirin. She feels intact. Restored.

She knows better than to mistake it for her own handiwork, but the Magic Knight of Wind quickly turns her attention to the one responsible. She's conscious in plenty of time to hear the Wolkenritter introducing themselves, time which she uses to get back to her feet. But before she can give her own introduction, she has to attend to family ... because even *before* she regained consciousness, she heard somebody calling for her.

Somebody very, very familiar.

"I'm sorry you had to see that, Kuu-neesan," Fuu says apologetically to her big sister, offering a sheepish smile. "Battles don't always go well for us ... part of why I'd hoped to keep this life a secret from you, Mother, and Father."

Kuu lets out a breath, looking genuinely exasperated. "You promised Mother to keep coming home in one piece, didn't you?"

Wind Knight Fuu winces, "I didn't think she'd told you ... ?"

Kuu shakes her head, "She didn't. - Anyway, you still need to save the world, right?" She gestures at the devastation all around. "The rest of us should be okay, go do what you need to. I want you to come home to tell us as much of the story as you can, little sister. I'll be *very* disappointed if you fail."

Fuu Hououji, Magic Knight of Wind, winces a little at her sister's scolding - but bows politely nonetheless. "In that case, what can I say but 'I'll see you when I get home'?"

Kuu Hououji, ordinary schoolgirl, smiles in relief. "We'll be waiting for you. Go get 'em."

The two sisters part ways again, one praying, the other resolving, that this will not be the last time they see each other. And the Wind Knight smiles, waving up at the Wolkenritter and Hayate.

"Shamal-san, thank you very much for your healing spell! I'm not usually the one who's being healed by another; you have my gratitude. And Vita-san, Signum-san, Zafira-san ... it's good to meet all four of you as allies, even after everything that's happened. I feel that we may have much to talk about later. Although," she nods to Steven, "I believe we need to secure the existence of a suitable 'later' to make conversation in, don't we?"

She looks around at the others. Nanoha and Fate, Cure Passion, Endo, Lera, Mikoto, and others, both known and relatively unknown. And then her attention sweeps up to the one person she still hasn't introduced herself to, surrounded by the four she's only greeted by name for the first time.

"Hayate-san ... correct? It's good to have you as an ally as well; may we remain so for a long time to come. It's good to finally meet you properly as well."

<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

As the battle rages, Lancelot finds himself near the heart of it all. As the light transforms into a person, and Reinforce is born with the gift of a name, he stands ready to battle, quiet in the background. He tenses REALLY hard when Vita and Signum and the other knights are released but holds his ground, not moving. He instead finds himself blinking when three of them break into tears, Vita hugging Hayate, and Signum swishing her blade around and bowing.

He might smile just a tad at a the very nice family reunion.

When Fate approaches Signum he blinks and looks away then side steps up near Vita looking away as he says very calmly. "I'm sorry I made fun of your Rabbit." He coughs into a fist and looks at the sky. "I'll introduce you to my Rabbit Merlin sometime. AndI'mgladyou'reokayforabunnylover." He nods to Vita and then moves to the side again, sliding casually next to Mikoto. He looks down at her and shrugs. A silent motion that says to his fellow Swordie "Damned if he knows sho to hit either right now." Then he slips an arm around her shoulders and squeezes her pretty tight. "Thanks Mikoto-chan. For being you." He let's go before she mistakes his arm for a food source.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Kasagami Araki, battered down by the power of Starlight Breaker, finds herself on her feet. The miracle of Hayate, Nanoha, Fate, and all of the magical girls here for the sake of the world is breathtaking. She finds herself speechless for quite some time, blinking away tears. It worked. It really, actually worked.

Turning to the Knights once again walking, she can't bring herself to hold the grudges she's built up. There's a brief moment of suspicion, a tired hand gripping her blade's hilt only for Shamal to prove ever the diplomat. Her aches and pains vanish, and she feels herself able to stand up.

The apology of Signum has Kasagami pulling in a breath, then offer the knight a brief nod. That knightly manner is a winning one for someone like Kasagami, and she forces herself to smile. Which swiftly becomes genuine as the powerful Iron Knight runs right into Hayate's arms. She bites the corner of her lip for a moment.

"A few less enemies is a good thing so...a pleasure to meet all of you. Kasagami Araki." Folding one arm in front of her, she offers her best, courtly 'Ohtori' bow, before a thought strikes her. And then she whips around back towards where someone very important was hiding. Boots thud as she rushes over.


The man is sitting down, the two children he'd been looking after passed out. He'd used his suit jacket to make them comfortable, while he himself dabs a handkerchief at his forehead.

"They're sleeping. Keep your voice down." He offers. The words are stern, but there's no bite to it. The two estranged relatives stare at each other for a long time. It grows increasingly uncomfortable. The older man's jaw becomes tighter. Kasagami increasingly fiddles with the edge of one of her glove. Seconds feel like an eternity.

She swallows, lets out a breath. "Uncle, I...Oomph!"

The man, moving quickly, walks over and pulls the slightly taller young woman into an embrace. Kasagami Araki's fingers slip, and she only barely retains her sword with a slight fumble. Her body goes rigid.

"Uncle, what are you...?" Her voice is all but a whisper, the young woman shellshocked.

"Kasagami-chan. I should have been there for you. When your parents died. I could've helped you avoid mistakes. Instead all I did was use you. Your name. Our name. I failed you. I'm so, so sorry." His voice breaks, and tears fall. This man who has done nothing but work for himself, exposed to danger and horror and seeing the wayward Araki head fight has opened his eyes. Slowly, Kasagami's arms enfold her Uncle.

"Don't talk like that! I'm supposed to be the head of this family, all of this time I've never stopped mourning Mom and Dad. And then what do I do!? Turn my back on a blood relative like a wasteful hypocrit! So don't act like this is all you, alright old man!? I'm...I should have tried to reach out to you..." Shoulders tighten, and she sobs.

"I'm just glad you're safe..." Mumbles Kasagami lowly, and the two embrace, shaking.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji transforms into Wind Knight!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Pluto [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Sailor Pluto is not aware of much physically, beyond that she has fallen and that every inch of her is dipped in some sensation of soreness or another. She barely remembers falling, mostly remembers a storm of pink -- she's fond of pink, but... -- and overwhelming power.

In her flattened and dazed state she holds tight to a fractured memory: the people in the mall, whole, spotted from the corner of one garnet eye as she tumbled free of the sky. It's a sliver of a thing considering the situation, but it is not nothing. She holds tight to that memory, and she struggles upon the edge of consciousness, refusing to surrender to it entirely. Small Lady is not out of danger, not yet. None of them are.

Garnet eyes shut, she does not see. But her ears are open, and Pluto clings to that thread of input and information like it is a lifeline. Among other things, she hears the Book of Darkness receive her name, and it twinges that deep well of empathy within her heart. Maybe she hadn't given up after all. Most of all, Pluto hears the improbable procession of hope, and despite herself she clings to that, too.

White flares against her eyelids. The Klarer Wind carries warmth and healing, and the sorenesses melt away, the dark tide recedes... garnet eyes open. Sailor Pluto rolls over, gets to hands and knees, then stands on legs that should tremble but instead hold firm and strong.

She looks behind her, and sees the civilians in the ruins of the once-shopping center -- sees Etsuko and the rest, and her eyes stop on her own favorite shade of pink and she murmurs, to herself, "Small Lady...!" in a little prayer of thanks.

She looks up and there are Wolkenritter restored, a thing heard and now seen. A miracle. Awe touches the gaze of the Outer Senshi. Some things are so rare and beautiful that even Time's own Guardian can only show amazement. Their introductions are met with a long, thoughtful look and then: an inclining of her head, just as long, just as thoughtful.

"Sailor Pluto, Guardian of Time and Soldier of Revolution," she says, with that low carrying tone. They may remember her assassination attempt, once upon a Dead Scream... "If we are to be enemies no longer, I can only be glad for that." She lingers on Vita, just for a second. Fearsome hammer, fearsome scream...

Sobbing young girl. The eyes of the Outer Senshi are soft, softer than those who have only met her in combat might expect.

Finally she looks around, and her heart leaps to see Kasagami and Mikoto both as whole as she is. All of the mahou are, restored down to the last battle-frayed threads of their uniforms. She heads for the civilians. All Pluto can think of is how awful, how terrifying, this all is, and how she doesn't want Small Lady to be alone right now.

Maybe she doesn't want to be alone, either.

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

The battle against the Book of Darkness has been an incredibly brutal one, almost bordering on suicidal from the very onset. That did not deter the magical warriors of Tokyo, uniting their power and talents together in the face of this magical foe despite the odds. Elements are called to strike, blades cut through the air and all manner of magical attacks are launched against the one would bring about the end of the world. Among these warriors is one magical girl armed only with a pair of tonfa, the determination to stand and fight and a heart full of grief from the idealistic and impossible dream she had been drowning in.

Despite how many snakes were striken down by the magical warriors, the Book never seemed to weaken or even be bothered by their attacks, and when it finally retaliates with that massive wave of energy, and Sourisi was caught unprepared and was sent hurtling through several walls and piles of rubble long after the wave stopped.

A gentle breeze tingles against Sourisi's body, and at first there's no sign of consciousness. Then her fingers twitch before clutching onto tonfa before the Miraculous Ninja pushes herself up, groaning. Even as gets back up, the last twinges of pain leave her body and mind, leaving her clearheaded to see the five in the air high above, but it makes her questions if she was still knocked out or not. "W-wait...they're all alive?"

Even if it's just a little, Sourisi's heart feels a tad lighter knowing that the four she saw being absorbed by the Book, 'harvested', were now alive once more by the grace of the awakened Hayate and the newly-designated Reinforce.

Seems more than reviving those four is more than what that white light is capable of, and Sourisi bows her head softly. "Thank you...thank you so much." The fight is surely far from done however, and Sourisi brings her wooden implements of combat into a ready stance as her eyes take in the still hellish landscape. This is so much out of her league, even more than the invasion of the Gems, but she couldn't look Kasagami or Shigure in the eyes if she tried to run and hide from this threat. "I don't know what I can possibly do, but...I have to try, to give it my all!"

A calming breath is taken with closed eyes before they snap open, shining with the light of the willpower she musters. "It's all or nothing, and I have to give it all I got!"

<Pose Tracker> Hayate Yagami [None] has posed.

"Shh, shh, Vita," Hayate soothes Vita, holding her close -- and tight, tighter than she ever seemed able to before. "Vita, Vita... I was so afraid that I'd lost you... lost you all..." One of her arms snakes out to pull the solemn Signum towards her, also.

"My command is to live," she whispers, fiercely, in the pinkette's ear.

And Shamal and Zafira do not escape this group hug, no they do not. There are hugs enough for everybody.

When it runs its course, as such embraces do, she looks up at the group, standing all around her. "Thank you very much for all your help, everyone!" she says simply, before bowing very deeply. "I am so terribly sorry for everything that's happened!"

If only that were the end.

It isn't over.

There are so many reasons why that's obvious -- the Barrier remaining in place is one of them -- they're all still trapped in this hollow wasteland that could become the real Tokyo.

And inside here, things are getting worse.

There's a vast empty space that used to contain the World Tree and now contains ash. To the left, a pillar of flame explodes out of the ground; to the right, a trio of pillars of stone grind upwards. One gets lashed by an immense bolt of black-violet lightning and cracks in half, growls downwards, and then there are four pillars.

Like a hyperactive fog machine, the ashy remnants of the World Tree are being stirred into the air. The embankment isn't very high; it rolls over boots, maybe brushes at knees. But the cause is itself cause for concern... the ground is trembling.

The world is trembling, like the whole planet is a too-tightly-strung violin string, keening with vibration -- and about to snap.

"Everything is going to be all right," says Hayate Yagami, with a stern surety befitting a woman three times her age. Unlike the Book, she doesn't lie about futility. Unlike the Book, she doesn't believe in it. "But we don't have much time, so before Nacht emerges, please allow me to explain."

She closes her eyes for a moment, as though consulting some sort of internal record. (This is accurate: Hayate Yagami now IS an internal record.) When she reopens them, they flash red -- the red of the Book, Reinforce's eyes -- and voice. "NachtWal is an automated defense program that has become corrupt and gone very badly wrong. It was not a part of the original Tome of the Night Sky, but added later, by a master suffering from paranoid delusions and a very outsized opinion of his own capabilities as a spellmeister. It is NachtWal that goes out of control and destroys the nearest world whenever the Tome is filled; then, as its final act, it destroys itself like a phoenix, only to reincarnate as the quiescent Tome on a new world. In a twisted way it is trying to satisfy the original purpose of the Tome: to transcribe the histories, cultures and spells of civilizations before they can be lost forever. But instead it consumes the spells of a civilization, and then ensures its destruction."

Hayate clears her throat, and her blue eyes are her own again. They are no less steadfast than before, but retain some of Reinforce's grief -- and far, far more resolve.

"NachtWal will swallow Earth whole if it goes unchecked, but we're not going to let that happen; the knights must break the curse on the Book once and for all, and everyone must protect our world! I've got a three step plan: first," She holds up a hand; her black, fingerless gloves make ticking off steps particularly easy to see, "We'll breach Nacht's multiple defenses, its many layers of shields, which will involve consecutive waves of everyone giving it everything they've got! Next, we'll damage its body, exposing its core -- it has one, just like you and me and..." she lays her tiny hand on the Tome of the Night Sky, which absorbed so many peoples' magicks through their cores, "...everyone! And with the core exposed, we can finish it off... with this!"

The surface of the Book begins to glow with a familiar golden light -- if tea were sunlight but steeped extra long, that would be its color. It's the color that came off of the thing that's missing from this place, surged into the sky, and opened a portal. The color that was drained...

...into the Book in Hayate's hands.

"The World Tree's body may be gone, but its dreams are still here -- and it wants to help us!"

And then NachtWal explodes out of the ground, like a gigantic cthonic zombie emerging from a grave. Ash goes everywhere in a vast, choking cloud. When it settles a bit, everyone can see what harvest has come from their inadvertant planting of the seeds of darkness, carved off the Book's body earlier.

Underneath it there is now no ground left; it seems to be emerging from a portal of its own creation, an unctuous stinking darkness identical to that which used to compose the snakes. It is very obviously not safe to touch.

As for NachtWal's form, there are huge blue-black snakes, of course, but really that's only the beginning. Other, stranger tentacles have joined them, with a green moss from some forgotten, dead world growing across heavy red scales. Each of these, rather than having a fanged head on the end, has a rolling red EYEBALL.

Using its many appendages for leverage, it HEAVES itself, the darkness splashing and roaring all around it, onto the surface. It is massive -- though not as massive as the World Tree that used to stand here. It has ten or so huge jointed legs that look sort of mechanical, with energetic red-lightning veins, and a huge gaping maw that is entirely organic. More eyeball-tentacles, more heavily armored, rise out of it, as well as a sort of glowing blue halo of circuitry... and a huge set of metallic wings, every feather more than razor-sharp.

It howls its hunger... then seems to notice the impending threat of 'everyone nearby', and every single one of its many eyeballs seems to focus on the group... then emits a blast of horrible darkness.

"The Book of Darkness'... darkness," Hayate murmurs, sadly. Then she snaps to -- summoning a staff out of the air (Schwertcruz has a long story and intricate design, but we will describe it as 'ancient' 'golden' 'staff' 'with a Belkan cross as its head' tonight), and gesturing towards the monster: "You won't see them until you attack, but it's got force fields! Clear a safe path through the tentacles, then get close and start hitting the fields with all you've got!"

BGM Start: Nana Mizuki - Sacred Force https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2RVsj3F6iU

OOC: Visual aid - https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/nanoha/images/b/bd/Caging_Circle.png/revision/latest?cb=20161223094904 - big
green spell circle not included, that's someone else's magic and not here on BF.
COMBAT: NachtWal transforms into NachtWal: DENIAL!
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Blasts of Darkness on Sourisi.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Blasts of Darkness on Sailor Pluto.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Blasts of Darkness on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Blasts of Darkness on Lancelot.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Blasts of Darkness on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Blasts of Darkness on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Blasts of Darkness on Endo Naoki.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Blasts of Darkness on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Blasts of Darkness on Cure Passion.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Blasts of Darkness on Fate Testarossa.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Blasts of Darkness on Nanoha Takamachi.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Blasts of Darkness on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Blasts of Darkness on Signum.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Blasts of Darkness on Vita.
COMBAT: Hayate Yagami has used Plan Of Action on Sourisi.
COMBAT: Hayate Yagami has used Plan Of Action on Sailor Pluto.
COMBAT: Hayate Yagami has used Plan Of Action on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Hayate Yagami has used Plan Of Action on Lancelot.
COMBAT: Hayate Yagami has used Plan Of Action on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Hayate Yagami has used Plan Of Action on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Hayate Yagami has used Plan Of Action on Endo Naoki.
COMBAT: Hayate Yagami has used Plan Of Action on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: Hayate Yagami has used Plan Of Action on Cure Passion.
COMBAT: Hayate Yagami has used Plan Of Action on Fate Testarossa.
COMBAT: Hayate Yagami has used Plan Of Action on Nanoha Takamachi.
COMBAT: Hayate Yagami has used Plan Of Action on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Hayate Yagami has used Plan Of Action on Signum.
COMBAT: Hayate Yagami has used Plan Of Action on Vita.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Blasts of Darkness on Hayate Yagami.
COMBAT: Cure Passion accepts Hayate Yagami's Plan Of Action, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Cure Passion is Cheered!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa accepts Hayate Yagami's Plan Of Action, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Fate Testarossa is
COMBAT: Cure Passion braces 8 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Blasts of Darkness, taking 12 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Cure
Passion's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji accepts Hayate Yagami's Plan Of Action, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji is Cheered!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa braces 20 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Blasts of Darkness, taking 16 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
Fate Testarossa's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji braces 16 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Blasts of Darkness, taking 13 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Fuu
Hououji's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Nanoha Takamachi accepts Hayate Yagami's Plan Of Action, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Nanoha Takamachi is
COMBAT: Endo Naoki accepts Hayate Yagami's Plan Of Action, taking 0 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Sourisi accepts Hayate Yagami's Plan Of Action, taking 0 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Sourisi braces 12 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Blasts of Darkness, taking 5 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Signum accepts Hayate Yagami's Plan Of Action, taking 0 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Steven Universe accepts Hayate Yagami's Plan Of Action, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Steven Universe is Cheered!
COMBAT: Amethyst transforms into Amethyst Plus Whips!
COMBAT: Vita accepts Hayate Yagami's Plan Of Action, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Vita is Cheered!
COMBAT: Steven Universe braces 21 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Blasts of Darkness, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
Steven Universe's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Nanoha Takamachi cleanly braces 17 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Blasts of Darkness, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  Critical
Hit!  Nanoha Takamachi's Block ability activates!
COMBAT: Signum perfectly braces 22 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Blasts of Darkness, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Brace!
Signum's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Signum tries to cover Hayate Yagami for NachtWal's attack, Blasts of Darkness, but cannot get there in time!
COMBAT: Lancelot accepts Hayate Yagami's Plan Of Action, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Lancelot is Cheered!
COMBAT: Signum tries to cover Hayate Yagami for NachtWal's attack, Blasts of Darkness, but cannot get there in time!
COMBAT: Signum tries to cover Hayate Yagami for NachtWal's attack, Blasts of Darkness, but cannot get there in time!
COMBAT: Signum tries to cover Hayate Yagami for NachtWal's attack, Blasts of Darkness, but cannot get there in time!
COMBAT: Signum covers Hayate Yagami for NachtWal's attack, Blasts of Darkness, taking it upon herself instead!
COMBAT: Vita cleanly braces 17 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Blasts of Darkness, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  Vita's Block and Parry
abilities activate!
COMBAT: Lera Camry accepts Hayate Yagami's Plan Of Action, taking 0 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Lancelot dodges 12 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Blasts of Darkness, taking 8 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Signum fails to counter NachtWal's Blasts of Darkness, taking 15 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Signum's counterattack, Youganyajirushi, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to NachtWal!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki cleanly braces 17 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Blasts of Darkness, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  Endo Naoki's
Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto accepts Hayate Yagami's Plan Of Action, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Pluto is Cheered!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki accepts Hayate Yagami's Plan Of Action, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
COMBAT: Lera Camry braces 16 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Blasts of Darkness, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Lera Camry's Block and
Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki braces 9 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Blasts of Darkness, taking 13 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto cleanly braces 17 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Blasts of Darkness, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Pluto's
Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi accepts Hayate Yagami's Plan Of Action, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Mikoto Minagi is Cheered!
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Lera stumbles, slightly, when Cure Passion flings herself into her side. Her feet stumble from under her -- but then her grin comes back. She wraps her arms around the Cure; both of them, even, despite the awkwardness of holding Broken Ground and her. "H-Hey," she says, softly. She leans her head down, kissing her girlfriend gently on the forehead. "Shh. It's going to be fine. She earned that name, y'know?"

She smiles, then, head tilted slightly to the side. "...Just like a certain Pretty Cure I can think of."

She looks up, then, and blinks at Endo. She nods; she can't wipe her eyes, but she nods at him. "You, too, Endo-kun," she says. "You did great. Hang in there, okay? We have just a little further to go."

Which, really, Hayate explains perfectly.

Lera moves to keeping one arm around Cure Passion, as she listens to the plan. Her eyes screw up -- and, perhaps, it bodes a little about the future working relationship of Hayate Yagami and Lera Camry that... Lera looks, for a moment, a little confused. Then, though, she nods. "The World Tree..."

She closes her eyes, and takes a deep breath. Her father's words echo in her mind: 'And know that your father is rooting for you.' Her fingers cling, tightly, to the hilt of Broken Ground. Then, she looks up; the pendant she wears and Soaring Sky, as a pen, bob on the chain against her chest. Gifts of her mother and father both.

Her arm slides away from Passion, and she nods to her, before she hefts up Broken Ground. <Kinda the opposite of old times. Yeah, Stern?> Jaren Zastava's old Device says. <Let's go. I'll clear the way!>

"You heard him, Endo!" Lera calls out.

She swings out Broken Ground. The hammerhead splits -- and a wave of motes of brilliant green and golden light erupt, pale and beautiful, before they begin to rain down towards the tentacles. Lera's gut clinches, for a moment, to see NachtWal -- to see the horrible, segmented, armored thing. The titular darkness of the Book. But...

She doesn't hesitate. Hayate's words guide her -- and she sends out the wave of energy bolts, slamming and striking at the tentacles. The goal is not destruction; the goal is to clear a path, momentarily, and it becomes obvious as Lera leaps for a final one, her hammer-Device smashing for it.

"Endo-kun!" she calls out. "Go!"

COMBAT: Lera Camry has started a combo targeting NachtWal!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi dodges 14 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Blasts of Darkness, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Mikoto Minagi's Fade
and Flash abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Amethyst [None] has posed.

The purple jewel half-buried in the rubble glows and floats. Out of the jewel, a small human shape emerges. The lost Amethyst returns! "Guh... oww.... what did I miss?" After a moment of disorientation, the confused Gem sighs, hand to face. "I'm... I'm sorry. I was useless wasn't I? I thought I could make a difference. I thought I could help. I.... who are all of you?"

Things are sort of explained. While they were at the end of the world, foes now friends, there was still both a hope and a threat. That's all Amethyst needed to know. "So if we defeat NachtWal," Amethyst reasons, "we wouldn't have donked everything up? We can still return our world to something? Then forget worrying about it destroying the rest, we won't let it! Steven, I've been feeling too sorry for myself for not being a pork chop. Wanna show this thing the power of us hotdogs?"

Amethyst summons a lone whip in her right hand. "Steven, throw your shield!" If Steven complies, she lashes her whip out at the flying shield, pulling it around her twice before flinging it at an even faster speed at the horrific automated defence monster.

<Pose Tracker> Signum [None] has posed.

Signum turns her gaze towards others as they speak; she suspects, perhaps, that Hayate will not mind.

"Indeed," she answers Lera. "I will carve as much of one as I can." Laevatein gleams rather than speaking further.

Signum's head dips further. "You honor me," she tells Nanoha. "I --" She falters as Fate speaks, and approaches her. She raises a hand. Signum seems on the back foot for a moment, before...

She takes the handshake, with energy enough to make her palm 'pap' against Fate's. She squeezes once and says, with a certainty that has a vibrancy it did not have previously, "Yes. We will do so."

Her eyes turn towards Mikoto and Miroku. She nods once, twice, and then tells Fuu, with a faint smile, "Thinking ahead." She is about to answer Sourisi when she is instead pulled into an embrace, which makes her let out an "oh!" of surprise. And very softly, softly enough that perhaps only Hayate can hear: "H-Hayate..."

She leaves the traces of her tears against the smaller girl.

The Book, Reinforce, explains matters. Signum composes herself during the explanation, drinking it in like a liter of water after a marathon run. "I see," she states. "Given our operational role, we were isolated... perhaps more." She cannot speculate further because Nachtwal rises, vast and impossibly horrid.

Signum gazes upon this ancient rival. I knew it not until a minute ago, she thinks. Strange, that it is my foe. The blasts ring out then, with sudden horrid force -- and Signum jerks to the left, raising Laevatein and rendering a screaming strike against the darkness. And so, despite everything, these planet-sterilizing rays - this surge of darkness foul and curdled beyond reckoning...

PARTS! Signum is forced back by the effort, rebounding and nearly colliding with Hayate afterwards. Shaking her head, she looks to her comrade. "Zafira, defend our master," she says. "My trust is in you -"

And with that she's off.

Laevatein gleams with great vigor as she flies. And as it gleams, she communicates to others. She does not look, but her presence is there.

<<Fate. Cure Passion. We will deceive its algorithms.>>

A graphic appears - somehow. Go with it. <<I will commence the attack. This will be expected. Join me in blasting, Fate -- but before your spells begin... Hurl Cure Passion towards the decisive point. Cure Passion! I cannot command you, but I estimate our combined strength will breach the boundary with a comfortable margin for reinforcement. If NachtWal does guard us...>>

Signum's head tilts forwards. "Then it will let someone else in."

AND SO the line of encounter is reached. "Shiden!" Signum shouts as she begins to strike with Laevatein. The motion is glittering, perfect, a carving that would slay most enemies in two blows and which Signum sustains for four - eight - twelve - twenty-four - sixty-four - two hundred and fifty six - more! Impossible! Finally, steaming with spent mana, she recoils -

To look to her side, expectant of the arrival of Passion.

COMBAT: Signum has started a combo targeting NachtWal!
COMBAT: Amethyst has started a combo targeting NachtWal!
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

It is wonderful, heartwarming to see everyone pour their hearts out to their loved ones, especially those assembled, though the situation is shown to be far more dire than expected.

Hayate, the woman anew, explains. The true threat is some sort of defunct creation, altered and left unopposed over generations. Tokyo was its latest target. "I will do everything I can to help you!" Steven calls up from his spot on the ground. "If we work together, we can save the world! Nothing is impossible with the power of teamwork!"

The boy takes a breath to say more, but then it happens. An awful, painful eruption. A creature, both grotesque and fearfully wondrous. Something that shouldn't be seen by mortal eyes. An alien design, by which fragments of things from this world can be picked up and understood, but do not fit together when assembled.

"Amethyst!" Steven calls out, seeing his best buddy. The boy runs over to her as quickly as he can. "We gotta stop that thing! It's gonna take all of us working together! Let's show 'em the Crystal Gems protect Earth and send it packing!"

Hearing her call, he summons his shining roseate shield and jumps back. "Let's do some damage!" he yells, taking his shield and throwing it as hard as possible toward Amethyst's general direction. She was at the ready to catch it after all.

COMBAT: Steven Universe has joined the combo started by Amethyst!
COMBAT: COMBO! Amethyst and Steven Universe have used Combo: Spinning Shield Sling, composed of Whiplash and Throw Shield, on
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

The Wind Knight listens attentively as Hayate and Reinforce explain the plan of battle. In the back of her mind, she remembers what usually happens to such plans upon contact with the enemy - but Reinforce knows more about NachtWal than most strategists know about their enemies, of course. And the Wind Knight has faith in this plan to work.

Her faith is only slightly disturbed when NachtWal erupts from where the World Tree once stood, immeasurably massive. The corrupted defense program looks, to the green-clad Magic Knight, like something out of a particularly hair-raising game - not so much a final boss as a bonus boss, something that you should be well past "overleveled for the final boss" to fight - but not impossible to defeat. Just ... challenging. Very, very, *very* challenging, and probably requiring patience and multiple attempts.

Of course, they don't have the luxury of trying again if they lose this time. That raises the stakes somewhat, but the underlying equation is more or less the same. Trust Hayate's plan, fight carefully but vigorously, adapt as necessary to what NachtWal is throwing at them ... like that stormfront of darkness.

A large sword flares into existence in the hands of the Magic Knight of Wind, and she raises it to try and shield herself at least a little bit. "I can assist others readily enough," she calls out, "if anyone needs a defensive boost or healing!" But it seems like sub-plans are already forming.

She can at least try to clear a path for them. NachtWal's opening assault subsides a bit, and the Wind Knight focuses her attention on those tentacles. "STORM-DANCE OF KAMAITACHI!!" she calls out, unleashing one of her strongest spells to try and blast some of the tentacles, either shredding them with the winds or just hurling them aside.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Storm-Dance of Kamaitachi on NachtWal.
<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.

Endo listens at Hayate explains the origins and purpose of NactWal, nodding his head attentively. He follows most of it, frowning harder the longer Hayate keeps talking. At least, until she produces both and plan and-more importantly-a shard of the World Tree.

"Is it..." When Hayate confirms even the tree is with them, that seems good enough for him. And more than necessary, as the massive form of NachWal emerges from the ashes of the fallen Tree. Endo's gaze sweeps toward the creature, and his face becomes grim once more. "If you really want to apologize," He says, to Hayate and her knights, "Then start here!"

There's no question that they will, and he doesn't spare it any more thought than that. Instead, there's a swift nod toward Lera when his fellow mage calls out for his attention. His device is hefted again, prepared, and he follows quickly in her wake.


Endo takes the path that Lera makes, rushing behind the blast of energy thrown off by Broken Ground. Tentacles to the left, and the right, but thanks to Lera there are none ahead, and he leaps forward to meet the first of the forcefields expected to be protecting the monstrosity ahead. Belkan symbols form at his feet, rushing to life and launching him forward to smash his weapon into the barrier before him.


COMBAT: Endo Naoki has joined the combo started by Lera Camry!
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Lancelot ruffles Mikoto's hair. "You're welcome Mikoto-chan." He says with a quick grin and is about to say something when Hayate speaks. He listens and nods. It's a simple plan behind all thsoe fancy words that Hayate speaks. As the Nachtwall surfaces Lancelot turns and grins at his fellow Sword buddy. He rolls his shoulders and Arondight flishes, as lightning crawls up and down the blades. "Mikoto. I think I understand her plan." He grins to the girl. "HIT IT HARD!" Then he launches toward the Nachtwal, Arondight trailing Lightning as he goes.

He moves at the same speed as Mikoto but just in front. Diving to the left at the last second he slams his blades together and calls out, "LIGHTNING BLAST!" Sends an explosive bolt of lighting at the Tentacles in a thunderous roar, and a blast of lightning.

COMBAT: Lancelot has started a combo targeting NachtWal!
COMBAT: COMBO! Lera Camry and Endo Naoki have used Raid Cross on NachtWal.
<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

Fate's gauntleted handshake is firm - with a warm strength. "It's a little funny... I'm the one that feels honored by your trust." It's how she seals that friendship, before letting go.

Before Fate ovehears Lera - and adds to Passion, "It does feel a little familiar like that - doesn't it?"

"We're just glad all of you are alright." Fate says as Hayate thanks them, as she apologizes. It may not over. But things still seem more hopeful than ever. And yet - then Hayate lays it all out.

Fate nearly double takes from the weight of this information. It's not that it's so much, it's just how grave it is. How different it is from what they knew. They thought it was simply the Book. Instead the Book feels like the least of their worries - especially now.

At first stunned, she starts to follow along with the plan. As Hayate lays it out. It's origins. The consequences of letting it go unchecked. And then a three step plan. Step 1. Fate's smile becomes a mask of resolve as she nods. Step 2. Fate looks at Nanoha and Lera for a moment - then back at Hayate, and nods again. Then step 3. She blinks. "Oh! Like in the dream." She declares. Without questioning it. The World Tree helped them then, that it would help them now only makes sense.

All told - it seems like things are worse than ever, but she still feels light. Perhaps it's because even with things so bad - "I'm so glad you know what to do... it feels like we might really manage this." Or perhaps it's because Hayate and her Knights are now on their side. "I'm ready..." It feels like she could take on the world now - with them, with Lera and Nanoha, Endo and Passion with the Chevaliers - and even Senshi, HiME, and duelist on their side, "... let's take this thing on - together." It feels like the most wonderful word in the world.

And then it emerges, and Fate hastily grabs Passion's wrist as she takes off. Darkness splashes and Fate whips Bardiche up in front of her - some of the energy splashing off of it - but the force of it spins her around where two other blasts strike her in the back. <Defenser - Plus.>

Or would have if not for the shield Bardiche brought up - which is peppered relentlessly as the girl is hammered backwards by the onslaught.

Fate gets a good look at the horror that is their foe as it howls.

It looks hopeless at a glance - but they had a plan. And not just a plan - a plan within a plan to achieve the first objective. A leader in her own right - Fate listens to the Wolkenritter leader - her once foe now friend intently. <<You've got it - Fate Testarossa and Cure Passion will be going now!>>

Rocketing forward, Fate weaves and banks to avoid the blasts, Passion still held with one arm - her blade with the other. "Looking back at our old selves - I don't think this is where either of us thought we'd be right now." A smile blossoms on her face even though they're flying into a world-destroying terror as her eyes glance over to Signum. "But I know now without a doubt - this is definitely the place where I belong."

Pulling up abruptly, she twists into an elegant corkscrew, before pivoting around in a full three hundred and sixty degrees. "Releasing Cure Passion now!" <Acknowledged - Good Luck Sir!> And then she throws her - with all of her own considerable strength, making her a crimson heart missile through the night. Quickly grasping the hilt of Bardiche with both hands, she dives down and sweeps Bardiche quickly. <Blade Impulse.>

The air shakes - it feels hard to try to live up to the might of Signum's Shiden Issen to join with an attack worthy of it- "Breakthrough! God of Thunder!" Slicing him into a brutal arc, a thunderous wave of concussive force is swept outward rocketing past Passion and slicing into the same waves of tentacles as Signum and Laevatein's shining blade the air quaking as she tries to sunder wave after wave of them to clear a path for the oncoming Pretty Cure.

COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has joined the combo started by Signum!
<Pose Tracker> Vita [None] has posed.

Vita whimpers against her master, careful of the strength of her arms against the weaker girl. But she doesn't need to be anymore, and it wrings another, joyous sob from her to realize it. "I'm so sorry," she whimpers. "We couldn't...I couldn't..."

Shivering as that familial embrace ends, with face red and her eyes wet, she scrubs at her face with a gloved wrist. Only then does she turn around, feet spread proudly, and she sucks in a long breath, stifling her sniffles. Well, everyone else is doing it. She sees Mikoto's grudging acknowledgement and - doesn't remember quite the same things as Mikoto that make the moment meaningful. But it has a meaning of its own for the girl. "No. We're not!" Vita boasts, her hands landing on her hips. "My name's Vita! The Knight of the Iron Hammer, Vita! And this here's my partner!" She snaps a hand out as a massive-handled polo hammer flashes out of red light, settling easily in her grip. "The Iron Count, Graf Eisen!" She's given this speech a few times before. The ending is a little different this time. A hollow BONG as Graf Eisen declares intent to speak. He chimes:


Vita's grin turns a little embarrassed. "Ahehe, though I guess you might've known that..." she demures, blushing at her own boastfulness.

That moment of volume falls off as she steps aside so Hayate can address the stage, and Vita's eyes sweep more purposefully across the landscape. With her confidence and center restored, the girl in red can scan the field with a more critical, practiced eye. Talk of NachtWal makes her visibly grimace, but still... "This barrier won't hold forever, either..." she mutters. She knows a thing or two about breaking barriers, after all. But she snaps to attention more as Hayate declares the plan, and it involves a whole lot of BREAKING STUFF and Vita's already way aboard.

NachtWal bursting into being, that horrible tortoise-frog-horror of a thing shrieking and clawing. Vita briefly checks where Signum is when those blasts go off, confirms the General is covering their Master, and then slams her hammer up, BATTING the incoming blast out of the way with little more than some sting in her arm. "Alright, you!" she declares. "You and I got BUSINESS to settle!"

And then, her eyes slide to the side, to a girl who kept trying so hard to understand her, even as she believed such kindness was not a fate for her. She blushes scarlet and scratches at her cheek, eyes not quite willing to match the girl in white. "Hey. Nanoha..." She squirms mid-word, embarrassed. "...Takamachi. Gimme a hand with getting in close, will ya?"

Her eyes briefly swivel in place to catch Nanoha's eyes for a second, long enough to confirm she's been heard; and then she sucks in a long breath, holds a lungful of that unclean air for a second before she suddenly takes off, a corona of red light roaring up around her.

COMBAT: NachtWal cleanly braces 74 Fatigue damage from Amethyst and Steven Universe's Combo: Spinning Shield Sling, taking 13
Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Stagger and Stun applied to NachtWal!
COMBAT: NachtWal perfectly dodges 37 Fatigue damage from Fuu Hououji's Storm-Dance of Kamaitachi, taking 0 Fatigue damage!
Critical Dodge!
COMBAT: NachtWal braces 33 Fatigue damage from Lera Camry and Endo Naoki's Combo: Raid Cross, taking 49 Fatigue damage!  Critical
Hit!  Lera Camry and Endo Naoki are Psyched!
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

"...No," Passion answers Lera, shaking her head. "She was given it. ...That's why it's so precious."

Setsuna squeezes, nods firmly. "Yes... But I don't think it's over, yet." It will be okay. It's easier to believe that, after coming this far, after seeing everything... and after that miracle. Because of course, that's what it is.

Shamal's apology marks Passion standing on her own again, nodding. "I believe you."

....But things are getting worse, far worse. Hayate insists that things will be all right, and Setsuna wants to believe--more to the point, she's certainly not immune to authoritative voices. But when the explanation comes...

Passion listens thoughtfully, frowning in concentration. A later master... a corrupt program. Her eyes widen a moment later--archival, turned to--

"So many who..." She shakes her head.

Small Lady, meanwhile? Small Lady takes a deep breath, and then lets out a great cheer, "Go on!" She smiles at Pluto from her position there, and she's tired... but she believes. ...She also seems to have acquired pom-poms from somewhere, and is hopping while continuing to cheer at Puu and the others. (Luna-P is helping!)

The warmth of the Tree is welcome, even as tense as Setsuna is about what's coming. "Its dreams..."

NachtWal bursts forward, and its horrific, strange form makes itself clear abrubtly, rushing through darkness, energetic, mechanical, organic? Passion has only a moment to cross her arms before herself in defense towards the darkness--or to cross one arm over herself, bracing as Fate drags her up off of the ground and out of the heart of it. Her eyes flick to her ally an instant later.

As Lera and Endo move forward, Cure Passion starts to plan her attack, starting to speak with Fate----and then hears the voice in her mind. She keeps looking forward, listening, watching the demonstration given to her mind.

"Acknowledged! I'm on it!" She doesn't appear to have any problem with orders in a situation like this. Her hand clasps Fate's wrist, hanging on, and she finds herself smiling. Her hair fans out behind her as they move so quickly, and she answers, "I never thought so. ...But I'm the same--I wouldn't be anywhere else."

Fate twists, and Passion lets go at the same time, spinning forward to gather up momentum and power, fist rearing back.


Straight for what she knows is a shield, going down the path Signum and Fate clear for her, Cure Passion is a blur of attacks, striking first with a spinning kick as hard as she can for the barrier, so fast that she can't even be seen until impact, the air crackling. "Hah--!"

COMBAT: Cure Passion has joined the combo started by Signum!
<Pose Tracker> Nanoha Takamachi [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

The reunions that happen around them are very touching and Nanoha is still tearing up for awhile. With Steven's question though, she is brought back to the reality of what is still happening around them. She looks around the inside of the barrier. The world that is breaking and being destroyed from the power held within the tome. The ashes surround them and from somewhere beyond her, a plume of flame and ash comes up from the ground. They are literally standing in a ticking time bomb.

As Hayate, projecting wisdom beyond her years, begins to speak with red eyes, Nanoha listens intently to what they need to do. The first part of the plan, she looks around and thinks should be easy enough with this team. As she continues though, Nanoha realizes that this may take awhile, as if reading her mind, Raising Heart chimes in, <I am ready... my Master!> Nanoha smiles, lifting up her weapon. "Right, Raising Heart! We can do this! We have a plan. It's time to make it happen!"

As the Tome begins to glow, Nanoha is fixated on it when a warning sounds out, <Watch out, Master! Protection Mode Activated!> There is barely enough time to create the shield as NachtWal bursts forth from the surface and the area is doused in ash and dust. Nanoha coughs, trying to clear her lungs as her eyes adjust to the form of the beast in front of them. It's worse than she imagined but looking at the terrified civilians and then to her friends and allies around her, she is filled with determination!

Nanoha's eyes lock with Vita's as her name is called... correctly. The white mage cannot help but beam at her new ally. "You remembered!" She actually laughs and then it's back to business. "Right! I'll clear a path for you Vita-chan!" She runs in, "Shooter Swarm!!!" Small lasers of pink energy, shoot out from her weapon as she rushes in closer, each beam is expertly guided by the confident girl into each of the tentacles and into whatever barriers are present.

COMBAT: COMBO! Signum, Fate Testarossa, and Cure Passion have used Shiden Issen!, Blade Impulse, and Passion Flash on NachtWal.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Pluto [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

As it turns out, there is a smile somewhere to be found in Sailor Pluto after all, beneath the ash and despair and apocalyptic gravity of the situation. She finds it when Small Lady gives her one.

It's a reprieve, but nothing is right -- though her quick visit with her beloved Princess makes even this hellscape of a shifted world so much better for Sailor Pluto, all things considered. How could her heart outweigh even a feather, lightened by the cheers of Small Lady? Warmth fills the senshi's cheeks, coloring them with love.

Pom-poms. Garnet eyes dance.

When Hayate says everything is going to be all right, she gets the gaze of the Outer Senshi. When she outlines the plan, she receives intent and undivided attention. This thing can be fought, then. Excellent. Sailor Pluto is here to fight the end of the world, after all.

The NachtWal is, as ends of the world go, a hell of a thing. It is nothing like anything Pluto has fought, but: she is used to adapting to new opponents. The sheer potence and size of the thing, though... her eyes wide, her grip hard on the Garnet Rod, she braces herself against the outpouring of darkness and shudders as it hits, but still: she stands after, shoulders hunched, teeth tight and bared.

"Kassie!" she cries out to her love, and "Sourisi!" to her nearby ally and friend. The ring of tentacles is not so far -- the NachtWal's scale has something to do with that, it would be difficult to be far from something so overpowering. "Sourisi -- why don't we get those tentacles out of the way so our brave swordswoman can do her oh-so-glorious thing?" The tonfa-wielding magical girl is quick, she knows -- if they can clear the way, together...

With an overhead 'come on!' gesture the senshi charges in, spinning the Garnet Rod up in her grasp. It dances about slender wrists and across the backs of fast-working hands until it loses all detail and becomes, simply, a blurred silvery disc trimmed with a smear of garnet-glow.

World Tree ash blows in harried clouds before her as she goes, and with a great cry she goes low and surges upward, plowing spinning Rod and running self into the NachtWal's outer ring of tentacles! She has danced with Kasagami, has fought alongside her, many times now and to fall back into that rhythm again now is a small joy amidst burgeoning darkness.

COMBAT: Nanoha Takamachi has started a combo targeting NachtWal!
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has started a combo targeting NachtWal!
<Pose Tracker> Vita [None] has posed.

Vita blurs across the distance toward NachtWal, juking and weaving to avoid tentacle lashes - but soon she doesn't even need to do that, as blasts of light score the tentacles apart, giving her a free shot toward the main venue of the battle, that massive barrier. Vita roars, "EISEN! Let's give Nacht a farewall beating it won't forget!"

The device, taciturn as usual, responds only with an excited <<JA!! EXPLOSION!>> before the hammerhead clonks up and pistons down, once, twice, three times rapid, and then Vita's hammerhead shifts again. But it doesn't turn into that barrier-penetrating drill Vita used to crack magical girls like lobsters for so many months. It grows. It grows bigger, and bigger, exploding with size until it surpasses the size of a bus and starts to verge in on house.

Vita doesn't taunt NachtWal. She just roars, a wordless howl as she swings that massive block of magic iron. Eisen, though, declares their intent, an attack with an entirely characteristic level of nuance to its name:


COMBAT: NachtWal dodges 43 Fatigue damage from Signum, Fate Testarossa, and Cure Passion's Combo: Shiden Issen!, taking 64 Fatigue
damage!  Signum, Fate Testarossa, and Cure Passion are Psyched!
COMBAT: Vita has joined the combo started by Nanoha Takamachi!
COMBAT: COMBO! Nanoha Takamachi and Vita have used Combo: <True Friendship Is Saying Her Name!>, composed of Shooter Swarm and
Giganthammer, on NachtWal.
COMBAT: NachtWal fails to brace Nanoha Takamachi and Vita's Combo: <True Friendship Is Saying Her Name!>, taking 98 Fatigue
damage!  Critical Hit!  Cripple and Stagger applied to NachtWal!
<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Rushing to the four resurrected Knights and their Master, Sourisi sighs in relief upon seeing Kasagami and Sailor Pluto already there and makes her way for them. After being seperated in the course of the battle, worries about how the duo were fairing against the Book filled her thoughts as she struggled to survive, and seeming them also seemingly ready to do battle once more thanks to Reinforce makes her feel that perhaps they do have a chance at this.

Hayate's explanation about the true threat, NachtWal, and how it has destroyed other worlds in a corrupted attempt to fulfill the original objective has lead weights attach to her spirts. If other worlds with their own likely magical warriors had tried and failed to stop this in the past, can they do this? Shaking those dark thoughts off of her, Sourisi focuses upon Reinforce to remind herself that there was one very big difference this time around than in the past.

The world trembles as the ashes of the Tree flows through the air, spreading throughout the hellish landscape and being an omen of the arrival of the corrupted defense program, but the light given off by the Book keeps things from being utterly bleak. There was little enough color and light in the world right now, but they have to hold onto this plan, to create a blade of light to finish off NachtWal.

The embodiment of darkness raises up through a portal created from the slaying of earlier tentacles and stands tall over the gathered warriors, darkness dripping off it's form, and looking like the stuff of nightmares. Nightmares that pale in comparison of an empty room dedicated to the wake of a dead father. Very quickly shaking off those thoughts, the Miraculous Ninja turns to Sailor Pluto and Kasagami, and giving the Senshi a quick salute. "Right! Cut them down and bash them apart to handle the weaker foes so Kasagami-senpai can deliver a critical blow!"

A plan is quickly agreed upon , and Sourisi is rushing along with her friends towards NatchWal, her eyes focusing on the tentacles. It was a good thing she was as the horrors spouted off bursts of the dripping darkness at her, and Sourisi quickly whacks away at the dark energy with her tonfa to make them bursts into motes. Small droplets sting through her bodysuit, but they are paid little mind to her determined short frame.

New to the dance of Senshi and Duelist, Sourisi is quick on her feet and able to improvise her own rhythm to the dance. Clawed boots launches upwards and twin tonfa swing downwards in a overhead swing to deliver a powerful blow against the side of a tentacle, knocking it down into the earth.. Sourisi lands and leaps off the armor of the tentacles towards the nearest one, repeating the maneuver. "Make way for she who will be King!"

COMBAT: Sourisi has joined the combo started by Sailor Pluto!
<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mikoto returns Signum's nod. There are no words said. There don't need to be.

There are words enough from Vita, after all. The girl's boasting is met with an unfriendly expression - but at least, for now, not an openly hostile one. Chopsticks. Graf Eisen states their purpose, and Mikoto rolls her shoulders in a shrug. "I know." They are pointed words, and there is enmity there which has not been washed away by Reinforce's light at all.

And then Mikoto finds herself with an arm around her, suddenly, Takeo's presence beside her. She leans against him, cheek against armor as she breathes out, some of that tension releasing at the presence of a friend. And her voice is not hard or sharp - it is soft and uncertain and reaching out for reassurance. "Lancelot..."

She is such a simple creature, who yearns for the affection of her loved ones, and perhaps it's surprising, to the enemies who have only ever seen her terrifying presence on the battlefield.

Or perhaps it's not surprising at all.

"Thanks," Mikoto smiles and straightens, as he lets go.

Those catlike yellow eyes find Kasagami and Sailor Pluto in the restored crowd, too, and their presence is a balm. No matter the amount of enemies she has here - she has friends, too.

She doesn't know what to make of Hayate, but at least, as she speaks, Mikoto regards her with careful neutrality instead of a snarl. NachtWal tears worlds apart. NachtWal has multiple layers of defences. She nods. Overwhelming force - this she can do. "All we gotta do is destroy the enemy," she confirms, to Lancelot, as if it were such a simple task.

Well, simple things can be hard sometimes, too.

Anyone who knows Mikoto knows that.

Because the look Fate earns is hard enough to cut diamond. There's a moment of tense silence - and then she nods, again, with an affirmative noise. "... won't let NachtWal win."

Reinforce's Book earns a glare from Mikoto, as Hayate calls attention to it. She doesn't like the idea of using it to do anything, but she likes the idea of the world being consumed even less.

All the World Tree's dreams are there, trapped inside an all-consuming tome.

The thought is somehow sad, to Mikoto Minagi.

There's no time to dwell on it. NachtWal emerges, gigantic and horrible, and the snakes are back, now, each one she cleaved away. Back - and worse. It is horror over horror, and it's well that Mikoto is well-accustomed to horrors, now.

There are force fields.

That's fine.

They'll break through.

Beside Lancelot, it is only natural she follows him as he charges towards NachtWal. The lightning which cracks against that nearest tentacle is followed almost immediately by the hurtling form of a girl who leaps the distance, towards the horrible discordant mass.

Her blade does not trail sparks, but there is the barest hint of red light as sigils open along its length, just in time for Mikoto to swing diagonal. It is the only clue to intent behind the strike - to the way it will explode, white light and red spider-cracks, malevolent energy which demands submission.

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has joined the combo started by Lancelot!
COMBAT: COMBO! Lancelot and Mikoto Minagi have used Combo: Plan A: HIT THEM HARD!!!, composed of Lightning Blast and Obsidian
Blade: Dynamo, on NachtWal.
COMBAT: NachtWal dodges 23 Fatigue damage from Lancelot and Mikoto Minagi's Combo: Plan A: HIT THEM HARD!!!, taking 34 Fatigue
damage!  Lancelot and Mikoto Minagi are Psyched!
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The emergence of NachtWal is more than enough to tear the heartfelt reunion apart. One sleeve wipes away tears, and Kasagami grips her blade firmly, protectively standing in front of her Uncle.


"You have work to do, Kasagami-chan. Make your Mother proud."

Kassie looks back over her shoulder. A smirk. "No pressure at all, huh? Don't die. We owe each other a dinner together."

Frown. The man shoves her forward, crossing his arms and grunting in annoyance. Saito sits once more, watching what looks so very much like the end of the world.

Hayate turns out to be a deft strategist, even if the origins of all of this does not sit well with Kasagami. Still, she keeps her thoughts to herself as she focuses on the plan. Her hair's just disheveled and her face tear streaked enough to look like a fabulous mess. A blossoming grin has her flicking an idle strand out of the way.

"Quick, sharp, and hopefully effective. Hayate Yagami, you're an impressive person! Fine! Let our enemies tremble and their fortress walls crumble before the wrath of warriors, knights, sages, and Kings!" She clenches a fist, and grins at the young woman eagerly.

A smile to the magical girls arrayed here, spying everyone unharmed, particularly those closest to her. Her heart feels confident as she walks over to join Pluto first, but quickly turns to Fate.

"Let's protect our precious home and the people we love!" She offers to the blonde haired Mage. There's no enemy among the mahou today. They can't afford it.

Pluto calls to her and Sourisi. "With the light of my heart and a noble friend, I'll carve the Araki family name into that beast!" Proclaims Kassie in turn to her love and friend, even as that outpouring of darkness hits her. Her nodachi clears it's sheath, and slams into the oncoming beam. Ground beneath her cracks as the impact has her skidding backward. Her blade smokes, hair ties dislodged and black-and-red plumage fluttering from the newly born wind. Legs scream for a moment as she pushes forward, confident steps, and she quickly breaks into a run behind the pair. With the senshi's brilliant Rod swirling, she falls into that easy dance. There's no need for words. Steel and white find lustrous hair for a moment as the woman leaps into the fray. A sigh escapes her, drinking in the beauty and ferocity of her love on the battlefield. Her heart skips a beat, and only discipline keeps her from being utterly entranced.

The leaping ninja Sourisi with her tonfa, innocence, and belief makes a herald she hardly feels worthy of. Kasagami has no fear as she picks up her pace, knowing the power and cleverness of one of her truest and most pure friends. A smile to Sourisi's back, and with a grin and laugh, she leaps into the sky!

Rose petals and light outline Kasagami as she wills those beautiful fragant motes to coat her nodachi. She flips in the air, once, twice, spinning about in an arc only to descend. First one leg swings for that much more momentum, and she angles her blade down to the naked air behind which the corrupted program takes refuge. Arms clench, and the family blade of the Arakis descends without hesitation, mercy, or doubt.

A war cry, and she puts the full force of her body and fall into the long, keen, heavy sword.

"Falling Petals Cut the Soul!"

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has joined the combo started by Sailor Pluto!
COMBAT: COMBO! Sailor Pluto, Sourisi, and Kasagami Araki have used Combo: Tonfa, Rod, and Blade, composed of Pendulum Blitz,
Forest Down, and Falling Petals Cut The Soul, on NachtWal.
COMBAT: NachtWal fails to brace Sailor Pluto, Sourisi, and Kasagami Araki's Combo: Tonfa, Rod, and Blade, taking 98 Fatigue
damage!  Sailor Pluto, Sourisi, and Kasagami Araki are Psyched!  Stagger applied to NachtWal!
<Pose Tracker> Hayate Yagami [None] has posed.

The General bisects an incoming darkness blast that might have knocked Hayate back by a city block. She blinks, smiles. "Signum -- thank you!" Perhaps wisely, Hayate then flaps her six wings and rises higher into the sky, further out of the path of danger. Zafira, at her side and slightly in front, takes a guarding stance. "Don't worry," she says to him comfortingly. "It will be your turn soon."

Attacking NachtWal is dangerous but not impossible; especially not with the proper and excellent application of teamwork. One way to go about things is to try to hit from a safe distance, and so it is that Steven's shield, propelled by Amethyst's whips, score first blood. Or, well -- first barrier. Where it impacts, spinning and raising sparks, the outline of a blue hexagon shimmers into being. A gigantic one.

The shield winds up falling away harmlessly, but it leaves a small crack behind.

There is also the 'clear the tentacles' method. Lera and Endo practice this one with panache, Broken Ground's golden and green shots forcing the three mighty tentacles to reel back from impact, which allows Fallen Stern's wielder to dart straight between them and strike the barrier behind them right at Steven's crack. It widens, considerably, but still stands in the way.

Hayate's eyes light up when she spots Endo -- then narrow a little bit more carefully at Lera. "Oooh, more Belkan Devices!" she chirps happily, for the first time sounding more like the nerdy ten-year-old she is on a day-to-day basis. "Rein," that didn't take long to turn into an affectionate diminuative nickname, did it, "Let's boost them!"

A white Belkan triangle erupts at her feet and spins, slowly. More light gathers in the titular head of Schwertcruz -- then, in two carefully taken shots, lasers into Fallen Stern... and the currently inactive Soaring Sky.

"Erinnerung Cruz!"

What they experience isn't so much a supercharge of energy as it is a reinforcement -- of course -- the Devices, and their wielders, feel their strengths become stronger, and their weaknesses, too. Briefly they feel a flood of connection to an ancient legacy, even if the world is too tentacle-filled to parse much detail from it, much less stop to really enjoy it.

From a distance, Hayate tips them a salute, the two fingers of her gesture splitting into a V.


If Steven, Amethyst, Lera and Endo are at Nacht's 3 o'clock, Signum, Fate and Passion approach at 6. A thundrous wave of concussive force blasts back the tentacles right in front of Cure Passion, who then soars past them harmlessly -- Signum, who charged ahead, had no such protection, and faces a heavy incoming barrage, except that they're all very busy getting out of the way of Fuu's windstorm. That may be a worthwhile risk, as she is a heavy incoming barrage -- and their hexagon is well-weakened by the time Cure Passion's foot lands. It makes a terrific crack.


At 9 o'clock, Sailor Pluto and Sourisi use their blunt instruments in the ways they were meant to alternatively bludgeon, smack, thwap and generally blow the great tentacles away, leaving a clear path for Kasagami's approach. Her slice fails to obliterate the shield wholly, but it does light it up, the force ripping across it and into the other, connected fields. All the cracks and gaps gape wider.


At 12 o'clock, Lancelot keeps the tentacles busy with lightning blasts; it's a shame they aren't rising out of real water, because the darkness undulating beneath the battlefield doesn't feel like much of a conductor. It's enough, however, to distract them and allow Mikoto to swing Miroku into her now-already-visible-before-she-even-got-there part of the shield. It spiderwebs. Just a little more--!


Last but not least, death comes from above in the form of Vita, covered by Nanoha's Shooter Swarm, which simply intercepts incoming darkness blasts straight out of the air, one to one. The Hammer Knight couldn't be safer in her hands. And the Giganthammer descends -- crashes into the top of the dome -- and with a tremendous clatter, shatters it.

The entire shield, in all directions, comes tum-tum-tumbling down.

"Yesssss," cheers Shamal, pumping a fist. She's in reserve for now but not above a little bit of vicarious asskicking.


In response, NachtWal blasts at point blank at those closest to it, with its remaining tentacles, while pushing itself further upwards, out of the darkness, by straightening its ten stumpy legs.

The strange ring-like structure on its back spins and spins and spins. A rainbow of colors starts consecutively coursing up the ring, which had been blue and gray; now it has green, yellow, orange and red sections --

-- with a shattering noise far below basso, hardly audible to human ears, it detonates, sending a piercing wave of raw prismatic force in every direction. Besides endangering many girls who were at the right height for its approach, it also carves the tops off of those four stone pillars, sending them crashing downwards towards part of the group.

COMBAT: Lera Camry transforms into Barrier Jacket Perihelion: Reinforced!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki transforms into Barrier Jacket Aufprall: Reinforced!
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Blast of Darkness: Point Break Barrage on Signum.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Blast of Darkness: Point Break Barrage on Cure Passion.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Blast of Darkness: Point Break Barrage on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Blast of Darkness: Point Break Barrage on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Blast of Darkness: Point Break Barrage on Vita.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used NachtWatch For Falling Rock on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used NachtWatch For Falling Rock on Amethyst.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used NachtWatch For Falling Rock on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used NachtWatch For Falling Rock on Fate Testarossa.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Prism Force Breaker on Lancelot.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Prism Force Breaker on Nanoha Takamachi.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Prism Force Breaker on Sailor Pluto.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Prism Force Breaker on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Prism Force Breaker on Sourisi.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Prism Force Breaker on Hayate Yagami.
COMBAT: Amethyst fails to brace NachtWal's NachtWatch For Falling Rock, taking 29 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Cure Passion partially dodges 8 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Blast of Darkness: Point Break Barrage, taking 33 Fatigue
damage!  Cure Passion's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Steven Universe partially dodges 6 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's NachtWatch For Falling Rock, taking 24 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Lera Camry partially dodges 5 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's NachtWatch For Falling Rock, taking 19 Fatigue damage!  Lera
Camry's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Blast of Darkness: Point Break Barrage on Endo Naoki.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki partially dodges 6 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Blast of Darkness: Point Break Barrage, taking 23 Fatigue
damage!  Kasagami Araki's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji fails to counter NachtWal's Prism Force Breaker, taking 35 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji's counterattack, Gale Arrow, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to NachtWal!
COMBAT: Sourisi partially dodges 7 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Prism Force Breaker, taking 27 Fatigue damage!  Sourisi's Fade
and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto partially dodges 9 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Prism Force Breaker, taking 37 Fatigue damage!  Critical
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa partially dodges 6 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's NachtWatch For Falling Rock, taking 22 Fatigue damage!
Fate Testarossa's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Vita neatly dodges 32 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Blast of Darkness: Point Break Barrage, taking 8 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi perfectly dodges 26 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Blast of Darkness: Point Break Barrage, taking 0 Fatigue
damage!  Critical Dodge!  Mikoto Minagi's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Nanoha Takamachi dodges 13 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Prism Force Breaker, taking 20 Fatigue damage!  Nanoha
Takamachi's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Vita covers Hayate Yagami for NachtWal's attack, Prism Force Breaker, taking it upon herself instead!
COMBAT: Vita fails to dodge NachtWal's Prism Force Breaker, taking 32 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki counters 13 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Blast of Darkness: Point Break Barrage, taking 40 Fatigue damage!
Endo Naoki's Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki's counterattack, Asteroid Eilen, partially gets through, doing 10 Fatigue damage to NachtWal!
COMBAT: Lancelot decisively counters 24 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Prism Force Breaker, taking 8 Fatigue damage!  Lancelot's
Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!
COMBAT: Lancelot's counterattack, Veil of Steel, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to NachtWal!
COMBAT: Signum decisively counters 33 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Blast of Darkness: Point Break Barrage, taking 11 Fatigue
damage!  Critical Hit!  Signum's Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!
COMBAT: Signum's counterattack, Panzergeist, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to NachtWal!
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"Given..." Lera repeats, softly, before she nods once at Setsuna. She squeezes her around the shoulders, a final time, before she lets go.

Broken Ground's shots leave the tentacles cleared, and he makes a small, but proud chime. Lera grins, her eyes lighting up; she looks ahead, and watches Endo's strike. Her hand swings down, the clockwork hammer sliding down to the ground. Broken Ground's hammerheads split open -- and a burst of steam shoots out of them. Which, then, is when a bolt of light flies...

...and strikes Soaring Sky. The pen swings up on her chain necklace, next to her head, and her eyes widen -- she stares at it -- and then reaches a hand up before the Device can swing back down. She grabs ahold of him. <This is... it feels like something I've forgotten.>

"Don't worry, buddy," Lera says, softly. She looks, sideways, at Hayate. She flashes a grin, then nods her head once. "...Thanks, Hayate! Reinforce! We'll make good use of it! Soaring Sky... set up!"

<Get set!>

Broken Ground flashes, then collapses down to his bracelet form, snapping into place about Lera's wrist. The pen extends outward -- segments flying and snapping outward, one after the other, forming the crossguard and then the two-toned blade. Lera swings the sword up, pointing it directly towards NachtWal. "Good job, Endo-kun! It--"

<Focus!> Sky interjects. Part of a stone pillar is slashed off -- and Lera surges forward, just narrowly evading it. The rock slams into the ground behind her. The shockwave sends her into a tumble. Her feet scrape the ground, and she lets out a groan. "That was... close!" she calls out. "The barriers are down! Fate!"

She looks to one of her closest friends her; her amber eyes met her friend's red, and there is that shared look of understanding, and then a nod. "I'll go from above!" But, then, she calls out to someone else. Someone new. But, she thinks, it feels right: "Vita! Go from below! We'll hit, and then Fate... blow it to bits, y'know?"

She shoots up into the air. Red-orange light snaps out after her, zigging and zagging like a lightning bolt, as she rockets to come directly above NachtWal. The girl goes into a tight spiral, light trailing after her and bleeding off it. Her sword glimmers, silver and gold, as she rises straight into the air. "Sky..."

<It's like old times, isn't it?>

"Yeah, buddy. It is." Lera smiles. "...Let's go, Sky!"

Her lips split into a wide grin, before she does a final twist to come to a stop right above NachtWal. She drops down like a rocket, and Soaring Sky splits the same trail of light she made down the middle. Plasma ignites up the length of the sword -- and she comes crashing down at the monstrous defense program from above.


COMBAT: Lera Camry has started a combo targeting NachtWal!
<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Red light floods the spiderweb-cracks of NachtWal's shield, made evident by everyone's efforts, but even all of Miroku's terrible energy cannot shatter it alone, though Mikoto shoves inwards with all her considerable might.

Perhaps it's fitting, that it's Vita's hammer - and isn't it so gigantic just a scene out of a nightmare? - that breaks every bond and shatters every lock. Mikoto doesn't stop to think about it, doesn't even glance to her. She presses the attack.

A tentacle swings in, and she leaps over it - finding herself in a perfect position to see its horrible mouth open, its promise of destruction.

She lands upon open maw, flat Ohtori shoes balanced on its upper jaw, and just as that dark energy collects, those strong legs bend and she flips backwards, sailing through the air, clearing the blast with catlike grace.

She clears it - and yet there's no ground to land on, is there?

There's only the inky blackness of what is not an ocean at all below.

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

The combination attack has success. Very little success, but some nonetheless as the immaculate magical shield NachtWal boasts blocks it, but not before suffering damage. "Gh...! This is gonna be harder than I thought! Amethyst, I'm gonna go take Lion to try and help the others get closer! See if you can help anyone out as well!"

The boy whistles, and Lion, his good ol' fluffy pal, comes. Hopping aboard and taking off like a rocket, Lion gallops toward the fight closer than ever to oblivion. Close enough to help those on the front lines!

But without warning, Lion's eyes glow white. He changes direction abruptly, without warning, nearly bucking Steven. "AH, where are you going?!"

A portal opens--

--and Lion surges out of another in close proximity of Mikoto, close enough to catch! "Mikoto! Good job Lion!" The feline opens another, and jumps through--

To land them on safe ground as they circle the fight at superspeed. "We gotta let this guy have it! If we don't the world is doomed! You always said you were a warrior, Mikoto!"

"Let's see you shine!"

Lion roars furiously, padding even faster. Nearby is another man of the sword, Lancelot as they make the corner. "LANCELOT!" Steven calls on speedy approach. "We're gonna lay in to it! Come with us! Let's hit it with all the power the cool cats of Tokyo can muster!"

Lion swings in close and bays a sonic roar to fend off would be-attacking appendages to give the armor knight a moment to get ready and trio up!

COMBAT: Steven Universe has started a combo targeting NachtWal!
<Pose Tracker> Amethyst [None] has posed.

The shield strikes a forcefield. Attacks damage the creature's guard, but not the NachtWal itself. "Grrrr...." Amethyst growls like a wild animal. "That didn't work as well as I hoped. What's the plan, Stev-aagh!"

Perhaps Amethyst should have paid more attention, as a rock smashes onto her. It knocks her down, but she steadily gets back to her feet. "Okay... let's.... try this again. For Earth! Guys, I have an idea! Attack on go. Ready...?"

Amethyst summons another whip, and extends them at some of the tentacles. She then yanks hard, trying to tie them tight and immobilize them. At that moment, Amethyst shouts.


COMBAT: Amethyst has started a combo targeting NachtWal!
<Pose Tracker> Vita [None] has posed.

Vita smashes that first level of shield to shards of molten magic, a big grin splashed across her face. Across the distance, she gives Nanoha a big thumbs-up, and is then promptly punished for letting her guard slip even an inch by NachtWal attempting to feed her to a rainbow. "WUH OH" Vita yelps, boosting away. She swerves and sweeps, rapidly fleeing the immediate engagement space - she has her own tools for ranged attack!

But more importantly, she sees NachtWal lining up a shot she's not willing to let it take. "Eisen! Can we get a shield up!?" she calls, knowing he's already seen the same lines. <<PRIORITIZING KNIGHT OUTFIT DEFENSIVE PARAMETERS.>> "If it's no, the answer's no!" Vita snaps back, with the clipped frustration of partners who have shared their entire lives. And then she rockets extra fast, blasting onward and into the path of the attack between NachtWal and Hayate. She can't get a barrier up - the attack slams directly into her Knight Outfit, scoring the vest's back - and as the smoke clears, Vita is before Hayate, hands and arms out to maximize the coverage of her small body and small patches of smoke curling away from her Knight Outfit. She regards her Master with the fierce face of a warrior protecting the most precious thing in the world. Then, after a moment's eye contact, it fades into the eyes of a child who has done well on their homework, before she whips around and blasts off again. "I'm going!" she calls up. "Zafira, it's all you!"

She swings low, this time, Graf Eisen relaying Lera and Fate's plan to her. She sweeps in, the shattered ground and churning darkness splitting around her, spitting up trails as she digs furrows with her passage. And then, as she sweeps into tentacle range, she whips around her center of graviy, barking, "Eisen! Rocket!" as she hooks a leg around her hammer's shaft. She receives a cry of <<RAKETENFORM!>> and with a flash of light, her polo hammer is some kind of horrifying, barrier-ripping rocket chisel. The rocket explodes to life and blasts Vita forward on a careening, chaotic path, harder and harder for the defense of NachtWal to predict as she zooms in toward the next layer of shield, and then, with one final twirl, unhooks her leg, grabs the hammer, whirls at full extension several times, and just before driving the magic-cracking chisel that so many people here have suffered the touch of into NachtWal's next barrier, screams something that reveals something almost as chilling as the revelation of NachtWal's grim glory.


...she and Lera are compatible kinds of dork.

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

Being so close to the barrier, right up as close as she can be, Cure Passion is in perfect position to be hit head-on by the shockwave. The sheer force, all its colors, hit her at once, and she throws up her arms, forearms-first, to shield her face from the blast. It impacts her guard fiercely, and the angle it hits at--with her already starting to fall--spikes her straight down like a volleyball at club time, knocking her into the ground hard enough to crack what ground remains all around her, foot-first. "Gh--"

She wobbles in place and shakes her head, standing back up to her full height and looking back up. On the way up--on the ground--she spots someone she doesn't know well, but whose like is familiar. They are on opposite sides...

But not in this. "Sailor Pluto!" Cure Passion calls out as she rises from her crouch, looking at her from away from the monster. "Hold on!" She sprints forward, ducking below a tentacle, swinging her fist for another to get past, not even to stop them--and landing next to Pluto, "With me!" She reaches out to take one of her hands, turns on her heel like a dancer, and swings. "Hup!" In an instant she's whirling completely around and launching the Senshi towards NachtWal outright, the momentum sending her back to handspring through the air, the opposite direction. In moments she's trying to fight her way past tentacles again, already trying to move forward against the crushing current of sheer numbers ahead.

COMBAT: Vita has joined the combo started by Lera Camry!
COMBAT: Cure Passion has started a combo targeting NachtWal!
<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

With the dome down - it feels like phase 1 of the plan is complete. At least - partially complete. Fate marvels at Hayate's exhibition of her newfound powers. Even as Nachtwal retaliates. Even as she shields her ears from the piercing wave - the creature smashes into four pillars.

And Fate begins to desperately weave a path around the falling rubble. Even as one falling rock clips her. With a gasp, she's sent hurtling down.

In a daze, she barely recovers, arcing around from 6 to 3 in her flight away from the falling stone - only glancing back to make sure Passion was caught. Gasping in relief and a little pain she allows a pinched smile even as Lera notes the barriers or down, "Even though we broke its defenses - it's not slowing down."

Fate eyes a glance towards Lera and Vita.

"Right - Lera - Sky!" Old Times? Bardiche agrees, <It does.> There's no need to ask Vita if she can manage it. After all.

She knows there's nothing that girl can't break. "I promise - Bardiche and I won't let you or Eisen down Vita."

Not so long ago she reminded Vita of what she had to lose on accident. Now perhaps the two of them can both learn together that each of them deserve kindness - and good things in their lives.

Snapping Bardiche backwards picks up the wind from the sheer weight. Flying straight forward, as Lera comes on high - and Vita comes from on low. Lightning starts striking her blade, tracing along the length of its blade - as it grows to several times it's current size.

However as Lera has a battle cry of heaven - and Vita of hell. Fate looks a little startled. "Ah... um..." Like she's at a loss - if Lera is heaven and Vita is hell then what is she??? - before finally deciding at the second of her strike, "-BLITZ!" The strike is deceptively fast - by all rights it doesn't feel like something so large should move so fast. And yet it cleaves from side to side in the blink of an eye center mass.

And it's only after that the electrical charge seems to take effect, as it would dance along her target in an electrocuting burst.

COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has joined the combo started by Lera Camry!
COMBAT: COMBO! Lera Camry, Vita, and Fate Testarossa have used Combo: Heaven and Hell Blitz!, composed of Lanzebrecher,
Raketenfangen, and Golden Flash, on NachtWal.
<Pose Tracker> Nanoha Takamachi [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

Nanoha watches as the laser open a space for Vita to slam down into the shield. It is quickly broken by the combined forces of everyone and comes down around the beast and Nanoha gives a thumbs-up to Vita. "Thanks for the help there!"

It's not over though and Nanoha flies up and away from Nachtwal, preparing to take it on again.

Raising Heart sends out a warning, <Danger! Counterattack Incoming!> Before she can say anything to Vita or anyone else, the monster attacks again. "Vita! Are you-" But the girl seems okay and she feels momentary relief.

Relief doesn't last long as the creature lashes out with horrible tentacles and shards of energy aimed towards the pillars. They tumble down around Nanoha as she activates her Flier Fin to move out of the way only narrowly avoiding the energy directed towards them.

As she watches Amethyst holding the tentacles in place, Nanoha nods. "Right! Endo-kun! Let's get it!" She flies lower to get a good shot. "Raising Heart, let's go!" <Shooting Mode Activated!> "Divine Shooter... shooooot!"

Her weapon opens up, pulling energy into itself before culminating into the familiar pink laser of power that aims directly for the tentacles that Amethyst has immobilized. "Go for the head Endo!" She calls out to him. "We can handle the tentacles!"

COMBAT: Nanoha Takamachi has joined the combo started by Amethyst!
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

"VEIL OF STEEL!" Lancelot shouts as the incoming wave of energy descends on him. Arondight flashes in a complex series of motions which results in several explosions around the Chevalier (og). When the dust settles Lancelt stands there with lighting crackling along his blades and up his arms. I single line of red appears on his left cheek and blood begins to slowly ooze out of it. He rolls a shoulder and is about to leap to save Mikoto form falling into Inky blackness when -


He grins to the other boy and gives a salute with his right blade as they ride past. When Steven tells them to let the thing have it, he smiles and gathers some lighting to him, then he runs forward.

Lancelot approaches the edge of that inky abyss at beyond superhuman speeds and leaps, to land on one Tentacle, feet first, where he runs slashing as he goes. Left and right baldes alternating in a rapid fire series of slashes. He leaps form tentacle to tentacle, running just as fast he can, and slashing with twin baldes infused with lighting just as fast. Thunder booms every three or four swings, lighting arcs and crashes. He leaps form the second to the third, to the fourth, keeping near Lion and Steven and Mikoto. Attacking and tring to divert the attention of the closest tentacle to the other three cats in his little impromptu pride.

When he finishes he races up the last Tentacle he's on and leapsat full speed once again like a rocket for solid ground. Landing with an explosion of breath and rolling several feet before he comes to a rest by slamming into wall. He pushes himself up and looks for his partners in crime and sends up a blast of lighting to let them know he's okay with a burst of Thunder for added effect.

<Pose Tracker> Signum [None] has posed.

Signum smiles faintly.

It feels good, she thinks. To cooperate with this girl - Fate Testarossa...

And of course the bursting power of Passion is no slouch either. As the barrier cracks, Signum feels a certain decisive sensation she hasn't felt since -

Ah! It broke! The creature is imploding. No, Signum thinks as she brings her blade backwards. No, it's not that easy.

It shines out with prismatic force. Signum's answer is to declaim with force, "Panzergeist!" As the shimmering crystalline solid forms around her - a vision that may stir the memories of those who saw a certain echo not so long ago - the blast smashes into her, batting her back almost fifty yards and cracking several facets but leaving her, for the moment, more or less unharmed.

Relief. Her head turns to confirm the status of Hayate, and then of Vita. They should reinforce. "Fate - Cure Passion - I must shift focus. Call if aid is needed." And as she moves laterally, around the great beast, another thought occurs to her.

She speaks it in private to Vita. <It is good that we have drilled against the sandworms so often.>

As she flies towards the Vita Front, Fate comes with her. In the face of this Signum feels no compunction about reaching into her cartridge pocket, within the interior of her armored dress. She loads - and cycles.

And again. And again.

Master, Signum thinks. Fate - Sayaka Miki - Lera Camry - all of you.

You could wear away on its outer borders until it rallied, Signum thinks, not speaking it aloud. But with a single decisive strike...

COMBAT: Signum has used Cartridge Load on Signum.
COMBAT: Signum accepts Signum's Cartridge Load, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Empower and Surge applied to Signum!
COMBAT: Lancelot has joined the combo started by Steven Universe!
<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.

Endo bounces backward when he slams against the forcefield, blade biting deep into the cracked wedge that Steven and Amethyst hit. As he rebounds he raises a hand toward the Crystal Gems, calling, "Good job!" And to Lera too, chiming, "Thanks, Lera-chan!"

The others do their job too, all of his allies smashing into the barriers with their own fantastic impacts. There's a satisfied nod as they all come crashing down, grim and quick approval at the marvelous display. But NachtWal remains ahead, as terrible as ever.

Hayate's in their corner though, and Endo's head snaps back to look at her when she sends a beam of energy racing into Fallen Stern. He can feel the difference immediately, in a way he never has before. Ancient strength courses through him, a connection to knights lost long ago.


Fallen Stern exults. <KNIGHT. I FEEL-STRONG.>

5rAnd Endo does too. Spurred onward by the sudden rush, he takes quick stock of those around him. Amethyst's request is found immediately agreeable, and when she takes action to bind the tentacles around them, he calls: "Nanoha-chan! Got it!"

And, with a clear shot, Endo does just that. He puts his newfound strength to use, taking a massive leap and streaking toward the head of the beast. His weapon is raised high, brought down in a cleaving overhand strike toward his target.

COMBAT: Endo Naoki has joined the combo started by Amethyst!
<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Kasagami's massive sprial cut sends ripples of light cascading down the barrier from that massive blade, able to hit such an incredible blow thanks in part to the teamwork of Senshi and Mouse. They are not the first to lay a blow upon the barrier, but it seems as if Kasagami's strike was a decisive one if the gaps forming in the magical shield were a clue. "Yes! That's going to cleave a path towards the future!"

Perhaps Sourisi should haven't been focusing on the shattering barrier shards as the ring of prismatic light blasts outwards from NachtWal, and it was only the quick actions of kicking downwards from yet another tentacle that saves the Miraculous User from being hit directly by the ring, though it launches her into the ground and creating a trench.

Clenching her teeth to hold back a scream of pain, Sourisi comes to an halt and quickly jumps out of the hole her body created, determined not to be an easy target for the tentacles. A quick glance upwards towards the wickling eyes tells her she has their full attention due to her parkour skills, and Sourisi frowns. "Kasagami-senpai, I don't think they're going to let me jump along them again! Care to distract them?"

Hearing another impact into the earth, Sourisi leaps out of the way of another dripping glop of darkness and towards where the sound originated from, holding back a wince at seeing the Wind Knight. "Breeze-san, are you okay?!" Giving aid in case Fuu needed it to get upright, Sourisi motions to the tentacles and then towards Kasagami. "Could you help Kasagami-san and free up a path? I think the tentacle things didn't like me leaping off them like my personal jungle gym."

Rushing towards NachtWal through the swirling mass of massive tentacles, Sourisi reaches the edge of what she can traverse on foot and leaps towards the embodiment of darkness. The wielder of that Book said there was multiple layer of shields, right? Then it's time to be a mousy wrecking ball and tear them into pieces, just like the last! Tonfa are jabbed forward in a blurring feat of speed in anticpation of the magical wall.

"Mouse Flurry!"

COMBAT: COMBO! Amethyst, Nanoha Takamachi, and Endo Naoki have used Combo: Crystals and Lasers, composed of Whiplash, Divine
Shooter, and Blauverschiebung, on NachtWal.
COMBAT: Sourisi has started a combo targeting NachtWal!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Pluto [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

The combination of snakestrike-fast tonfa, whirling Rod, and the rose-dripped fury of blade proves potent against NachtWal's protections. Pluto derives a soldier's grim satisfaction from the way the shielding splinters further under their combined assault. "Beautiful!" she calls, and it is a commendation as well as a defiance of all this ugliness that threatens the world. "Beautifully done."

Not only can they fight this -- they are fighting this, and every brilliant bloom of mahou power around them furthers the cause. Never did she think to be fighting on the same side as Vita, and Pluto is more familiar with facing Fate Testarossa's lightning potence than internally cheering its effects. Their bravery reflects brightly in her eyes, as she watches.

Then prismatic force erupts and the bulk of a falling pillar eclipses all the fireworks, and Sailor Pluto is occupied with moving at all speed. She leaps full-out to the side, her long body laid out in the air. Desperation wins her life as tons of hurtling stone smash apart ground behind her.

She evades the pillar but not the secondary chunks of earth that its impact throws out, and one sizeable clod clips her and sends her rolling along the hard ground. Pluto rises with a wince, shakes dirt loose of her senshi suit, and comes face to face with --

Cure Passion. Garnet eyes meet crimson, and she knows this girl; knows her to be opposition, at least in a Tokyo that is not phase-shifted and threatened by the NachtWal and thus imminent annihilation.

Now? Sailor Pluto gives a sharp firm nod to her name and swings her Rod, too, to help clear the way for the incoming Cure. "Let's get this thing, Cure Passion," she agrees, low and fierce. Her free hand, clad in purest senshi silk, reaches out --

Hands clasp. She holds fast, and her grip feels unbreakable, and then she's swinging round like the Orb at the end of her own Rod except she is instead a senshi shotput at the end of Cure Passion's skilled arm, and then they let go and she's flyyying toward the NachtWal at speeds that rip tears from the corners of garnet eyes.

Amazing, she thinks of Cure Passion's strength, and then it's time to attack: so she does. The Rod in her hand pivots and she slams it forward, and the Orb within flares and emits a pure torrent of unfocused energy!

Everything she can dredge up in the span of two shared moments gets poured out in a plutonic flare the nearest of the NachtWal's massive mechanical legs, and then Pluto is falling back down again and hopes she can get her legs under her, wherever she lands.

COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has joined the combo started by Cure Passion!
COMBAT: COMBO! Cure Passion and Sailor Pluto have used Combo: Two Moments, composed of Rising Passion and Garnet Explosion, on
<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

OOC Kasagami Araki says, "Setsuchans 2: Gravitic Boogaloo <3!"

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

Mikoto makes one turn, another, as the thing which is most certainly not ground rushes up. It's beginning to look dicey -

And then she yelps, as she's caught by the back of her shirt. It's a surprised noise which doesn't have much time to resolve into words, as Lion roars in another of those portals, and they find themselves on solid ground again. Mikoto straightens up, pulling herself onto Lion properly, and looks at Steven. Claymore clasped in a hand, all sharp edges, it is not difficult to imagine Mikoto as a warrior in this moment. She nods, firmly, with an affirmative noise.

She does not remark on the fact that Steven has saved her again, though it's clear in her eyes.

There is one thing she does remark on.

"... Lion's battle-cat!" And for just a moment, one single, glorious moment, the charming enthusiasm of peacetime Mikoto shines through her hardened exterior.

She is really riding into battle on a lion and this is the coolest thing which has ever happened to her and that's saying something because she regularly rides into battle on an actual flaming dragon-phoenix.

It only lasts for a moment, of course. They are in the middle of a war zone.

It was a good moment.

Lancelot's lightning-flash blades serve as their accompaniment - he needs no catlike speed to keep up. The sound of thunder announces them, as Lion draws in close.

Let us divert, here, for a moment, to speak of swords. The greatsword is not a cavalry weapon for one reason: it must be wielded in two hands. It is too unwieldy to be chopped, as a shortsword or even a longsword might.

This is something which is true for most people - which perhaps was even true for Mikoto, once upon a time.

But each and every magical girl, in their way, possesses some impossible skill, some display of talent above and beyond human capacity.

Mikoto Minagi grasps Miroku in a single hand, and brings it down upon NachtWal with force multiplied by a lion's sonic speed, and she is not hampered by weight or unwieldiness at all.

Miroku is part of her.

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has joined the combo started by Steven Universe!
COMBAT: COMBO! Steven Universe, Lancelot, and Mikoto Minagi have used Combo: THUNDER CATS, HOOO!, composed of Just Lion Things,
Full Throttle Barrage, and Obsidian Blade: Demolition, on NachtWal.
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Physically blowing the tentacles too far away for them to menace the close-combat types is almost as good as shredding them, right? The Magic Knight of Wind will take what she can get, though - and she's just as content to see Signum and Cure Passion get past the lack of opposition. She's actually getting ready for a follow-up attack of her own when NachtWal begins attacking them again - and with the prismatic wave slashing towards her, the Wind Knight quickly launches a Gale Arrow.

Too quickly, really; the arrow skims just below the wave of rainbow-hued energy, and the turbulence of their close passage shreds the sheaf of wind magic before the colorfully offensive wave slams into the Wind Knight, hurling her off her feet *again*. It's nowhere near as devastating as the Starlight Breaker, and while it takes Fuu a moment to get back to her feet, she *does* get back to her feet in short order, particularly with the magical mouse-girl's assistance. "I've been worse off than this," she replies with a friendly smile. "And I'd be glad to do what I can to assist both of you. Even if it doesn't come to that much, every little bit helps, right?"

Rather than loosing arrows from where she is at that moment, the Magic Knight of Wind seeks a better vantage point - bounding to one of those lopped-off pillars, her leap boosted by a conjured updraft, and the wind remains with her even when she alights from that jump. When she nocks her arrows this time, she's *focused* - the same calm that she displayed during the archery tournament which that proto-daimon so rudely interrupted (was it only weeks ago?), at least *before* the interruption. Even her stance, when she takes it, is identical; the way she raises her bow and lowers it to draw back the string, the actions themselves aiding her focus. She could as easily be standing at the line in the dojo, or at her mark in another competition, for all that the fate of the world rests on this group of magical girls.

Even when she calls out, "Gale Arrow!" and lets her arrows fly, there's no air of haste or urgency, only the archer's focused precision - as if her targets were *not* frenetically writhing tentacles of horror tipped with fanged mouths. But the wind about her, wrapping around each of the shafts and bearing them forward towards her targets, gives away the intensity which guides her - what had been a breeze while gathered around her, now screaming with the force of the relentless gale, keeping the arrows flying straight even as the Wind Knight's will and magic push each one as close to the sound barrier as ever an arrow flew.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has joined the combo started by Sourisi!
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

That point blank tentacle laser does it's job, and Kasagami goes flying back once again! But the combined assault of magical girls has done the trick! One wall of shields down, and even as she rights herself mid-air, right leg's pants shredded to the knee and the young woman letting out a pained gasp, she grinds down with her boots to regain good and solid footing. A glance to Pluto, and her now Passion partner.

The dance they play is beautiful, and aerial dance leaving her smiling despite herself. Majestic. One hand goes to her heart. "To see such grace at the end of the world...Kasagami Araki, you're too lucky for your own good."

Sourisi gets her attention back, however. "No person an island, and no King without an Army to ride at it's head! Consider it done, Soursi-chan! Wind-Knight! A storm can batter down even the strongest of fortress gates if it just rages hard enough!" Encourages the Duelist as she takes her blade into her teeth. Fuu leaps up to that building, and she briefly eyes the archer magical girl that she'd now dare to call a friend. With the Wind Knight standing overwatch and her arrows raining down with such focused and unbending precision?

"That's the spirit!"

With a hop, skip, and flickering rush back towards the horrible beast, she makes herself a blurring target in Sourisi's onrushing wake. Feet work hard, from many hours of dance practice, athletics, and relentless martial art's training only made faster by the ring upon her finger. A flashing figure. Almost dancing in her movements, meant to distract and draw attention to her.

And then she simply stops. Her hands are behind her, and they flash forward like a magician upon a stage. The shining tips of metal in her hands are no trickery though. Soon rose-kissed knives lash out in great, arcing throws as she flicks, spins, pauses and tosses the beautiful and deadly points towards the tentacles that dare look upon the onrushing ninja-mouse.

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has joined the combo started by Sourisi!
COMBAT: COMBO! Sourisi, Fuu Hououji, and Kasagami Araki have used Combo: Floral Breeze Fang, composed of Mouse Flurry, Gale Arrow,
and Thorns of the Bloody Rose, on NachtWal.
COMBAT: NachtWal fails to brace Lera Camry, Vita, and Fate Testarossa's Combo: Heaven and Hell Blitz!, taking 120 Fatigue damage!
NachtWal is unable to keep fighting!
COMBAT: NachtWal braces 54 Fatigue damage from Amethyst, Nanoha Takamachi, and Endo Naoki's Combo: Crystals and Lasers, taking 44
Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  NachtWal is unable to keep fighting!  Amethyst, Nanoha Takamachi, and Endo Naoki are Psyched!
Stun applied to NachtWal!
COMBAT: NachtWal perfectly braces 91 Fatigue damage from Steven Universe, Lancelot, and Mikoto Minagi's Combo: THUNDER CATS,
HOOO!, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Critical Brace!  NachtWal is unable to keep fighting!
COMBAT: NachtWal fails to brace Cure Passion and Sailor Pluto's Combo: Two Moments, taking 41 Fatigue damage!  NachtWal is unable
to keep fighting!  Cure Passion and Sailor Pluto are Psyched!
COMBAT: NachtWal fails to brace Sourisi, Fuu Hououji, and Kasagami Araki's Combo: Floral Breeze Fang, taking 87 Fatigue damage!
NachtWal is unable to keep fighting!  Sourisi, Fuu Hououji, and Kasagami Araki are Psyched!  Blind applied to NachtWal!
<Pose Tracker> Hayate Yagami [None] has posed.

There are multiple layers of barriers, as promised. After the first round of overlapping hexagon shields, the next set springs into being all at once; a grid of far tinier and more tightly-woven red triangles.

It is, satisfyingly, some yards closer to the actual main body of the creature, as though the walls are closing in.

Even more satisfyingly, it gets wrecked up almost immediately by those gunning for it: Sourisi, covered by Fuu and Kasagami; and the three-part sonata of destruction comprised of Lera, Vita and Fate.

Shards of red triangles, like chunks of shattered beehive, go flying in all directions. Some simply plunge into the darkness portal below its feet, and sink.

Afterwards the beast is wide, wide, wide open.

There are still tentacles to be had, and struck; Lancelot nails a few in solid coordination with Lion's sonic roar, while Amethyst ties several up into absolutely sitting ducks for Nanoha's Divine Shooter lasers, and Fuu and Kasagami send up arrows and knives respectively, with great effect.

And, deeper in, their path cleared, the Passion-propelled Pluto detonates a garnet burst on a leg with such force that it's simply blown off along with the other two on either side, crashing into the darkness and sending up a wave of the stuff -- NachtWal begins to list a little.

Mikoto, atop Lion, slams in from a higher angle -- and winds up trying to simply straight-up bisect the giant spinning ring on its back, in front of the wings. This takes a moment and it's neat to watch, the prismatic sparks flying as Miroku struggles to make the initial stop on the angular momentum, acting as a brake.

It makes the stop -- now to push through.

And, as instructed by Nanoha, Endo goes for the head. The 'head' -- airquotes a necessary addition for two reasons.

First, this head is like ninety-five percent gaping maw. It protrudes from a round bit at the upper front and center of the monster's bulk, like a head should on something like a horse, but ... can it really be a head if it's just a slavering gnashing grinding chainsaw-howling mouth about as tall as Juuban Public School?

And second, after he straight-up decapitates it, releasing a torrent of black energy that crackles straight into the sky like inverted lightning, making the poisoned storm above ring out its fury -- which is around the same time that Mikoto's hit the rings and Sailor Pluto's taken out a third of its legs -- EVERYONE discovers that actually this ten-legged monster with wings and rings and maw was more like NachtWal's...

...party hat. Or maybe opera singer's viking helmet, given the wings, which are now flapping somewhat pointlessly.

Tentacles are no longer really a factor. They're still there, but they're dwarfed by the thing that's just exploded upwards through the portal. Instead of ten (seven) legs it has three, each the size of a tower, and there is something alien and unsettling about its tripod nature... or maybe it's the similarity to a machine gun mount that's giving the bad vibes. Such that the tentacles are still relevant at all it's because that more of them form the legs' musculature, a sort of exoskeletal set of ligaments and joints that squirm and squeeze and pour their blacklight blasts not outwards towards their enemies, but inwards, powering the great, massive engine that crowns the pyramid.

An engine that is revving up to blow. It's pouring off heat, massive pistons churning, making it dangerous to be anywhere nearby.

Huge wings of black energy -- not totally dissimilar from the ones on Hayate's back -- are compressed out of its sides, and it begins to lift off, though there will be several seconds before it can wrest itself free from the darkness whence it came.

<< NOW! >> yells Hayate, into everyone's minds. << Don't let it take off -- blast it back down with everything you've got! >>

Perhaps most disturbingly of all is that this second form of the creature has a face. Reinforce's face, perhaps, warped almost beyond recognition. The skin is purple but the red markings are familiar. The truth of her features are disguised by the chains which strap her head and neck into the front of the engine like the figurehead of a ship. And also by the blindfold of black energy wrapping the upper half of her head. Her silvery hair flows widely, but is made out of literal wire, and her lips are parted in a silent, terrible scream.

"Shamal!" Hayate calls -- they're near each other now. "We have to give them more power. Let's work together!"

"Right!" Shamal agrees, calling up Klarer, whose many strings now seem more harplike than anything. "Sacred wind, carry power to these heroes -- Spritestein!"

"Bless the wind of the night sky!" shouts Hayate, spinning Schwertcruz with an elaborate kata that she couldn't have possibly ever done from a wheelchair. "REINFORCE--!"

And then the wind comes, greenish with Shamal and peppered with a thousand stars by Hayate. It sweeps across the battlefield, and individual stars settle like hot white snowflakes into foreheads, chests, and palms. They carry power with them -- and faith.

Overcome by what she sees, Shamal hugs Hayate from behind. Wheelchair or no, the Lady of the Lake still towers over her Master. Hayate beams up at her even more brightly than her magic.

"Okay, let go! I have to help them!" The Book materializes above her hand. "Get ready, Shamal, your chance is going to come real soon..."

COMBAT: NachtWal transforms into NachtWal: ANGER!
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Charging Power: Heat Wave on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Charging Power: Heat Wave on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Charging Power: Heat Wave on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Charging Power: Heat Wave on Sailor Pluto.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Charging Power: Heat Wave on Sourisi.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Charging Power: Heat Wave on Endo Naoki.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Charging Power: Heat Wave on Signum.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Charging Power: Heat Wave on Lancelot.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Charging Power: Heat Wave on Nanoha Takamachi.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Charging Power: Heat Wave on Fate Testarossa.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Charging Power: Heat Wave on Cure Passion.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Charging Power: Heat Wave on Vita.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Charging Power: Heat Wave on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Charging Power: Heat Wave on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Hayate Yagami has used The Blessed Wind on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Hayate Yagami has used The Blessed Wind on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Hayate Yagami has used The Blessed Wind on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Hayate Yagami has used The Blessed Wind on Sailor Pluto.
COMBAT: Hayate Yagami has used The Blessed Wind on Sourisi.
COMBAT: Hayate Yagami has used The Blessed Wind on Endo Naoki.
COMBAT: Hayate Yagami has used The Blessed Wind on Signum.
COMBAT: Hayate Yagami has used The Blessed Wind on Lancelot.
COMBAT: Hayate Yagami has used The Blessed Wind on Nanoha Takamachi.
COMBAT: Hayate Yagami has used The Blessed Wind on Fate Testarossa.
COMBAT: Hayate Yagami has used The Blessed Wind on Cure Passion.
COMBAT: Hayate Yagami has used The Blessed Wind on Vita.
COMBAT: Hayate Yagami has used The Blessed Wind on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: Hayate Yagami has used The Blessed Wind on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Lancelot accepts Hayate Yagami's The Blessed Wind, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Empower and Surge applied to Lancelot!
Lancelot is Reinforced by Hayate Yagami!
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Charging Power: Heat Wave on Hayate Yagami.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji accepts Hayate Yagami's The Blessed Wind, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Empower and Surge applied to Fuu Hououji!
Fuu Hououji is Reinforced by Hayate Yagami!
COMBAT: Lera Camry accepts Hayate Yagami's The Blessed Wind, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Empower and Surge applied to Lera Camry!
Lera Camry is Reinforced by Hayate Yagami!
COMBAT: Nanoha Takamachi accepts Hayate Yagami's The Blessed Wind, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Empower and Surge applied to Nanoha
Takamachi!  Nanoha Takamachi is Reinforced by Hayate Yagami!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi accepts Hayate Yagami's The Blessed Wind, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Empower and Surge applied to Mikoto
Minagi!  Mikoto Minagi is Reinforced by Hayate Yagami!
COMBAT: Cure Passion accepts Hayate Yagami's The Blessed Wind, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Empower and Surge applied to Cure
Passion!  Cure Passion is Reinforced by Hayate Yagami!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa accepts Hayate Yagami's The Blessed Wind, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Empower and Surge applied to Fate
Testarossa!  Fate Testarossa is Reinforced by Hayate Yagami!
COMBAT: Signum accepts Hayate Yagami's The Blessed Wind, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Empower and Surge applied to
Signum!  Signum is Reinforced by Hayate Yagami!
COMBAT: Steven Universe accepts Hayate Yagami's The Blessed Wind, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Empower and Surge applied to Steven
Universe!  Steven Universe is Reinforced by Hayate Yagami!
COMBAT: Lancelot braces 15 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Charging Power: Heat Wave, taking 23 Fatigue damage!  Lancelot's Block
and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Sourisi accepts Hayate Yagami's The Blessed Wind, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Empower and Surge applied to
Sourisi!  Sourisi is Reinforced by Hayate Yagami!
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto accepts Hayate Yagami's The Blessed Wind, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Empower and Surge applied to Sailor
Pluto!  Sailor Pluto is Reinforced by Hayate Yagami!
COMBAT: Lera Camry cleanly braces 34 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Charging Power: Heat Wave, taking 6 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Signum braces 30 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Charging Power: Heat Wave, taking 13 Fatigue damage!  Signum's Block and
Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa braces 20 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Charging Power: Heat Wave, taking 16 Fatigue damage!  Fate
Testarossa's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki accepts Hayate Yagami's The Blessed Wind, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Empower and Surge applied to Kasagami
Araki!  Kasagami Araki is Reinforced by Hayate Yagami!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki dodges 15 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Charging Power: Heat Wave, taking 22 Fatigue damage!  Kasagami
Araki's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Cure Passion counters 20 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Charging Power: Heat Wave, taking 20 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Cure Passion's counterattack, Crimson Counter, partially gets through, doing 17 Fatigue damage to NachtWal!
COMBAT: Sourisi cleanly braces 34 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Charging Power: Heat Wave, taking 6 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Steven Universe counters 9 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Charging Power: Heat Wave, taking 28 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Steven Universe's counterattack, Reverb Shield, partially gets through, doing 5 Fatigue damage to NachtWal!  Stagger and
Stun applied to NachtWal!
COMBAT: Vita braces 15 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Charging Power: Heat Wave, taking 23 Fatigue damage!  Vita's Block and Parry
abilities activate!
COMBAT: Vita accepts Hayate Yagami's The Blessed Wind, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Empower and Surge applied to Vita!
Vita is Reinforced by Hayate Yagami!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji neatly dodges 32 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Charging Power: Heat Wave, taking 8 Fatigue damage!  Fuu
Hououji's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto braces 20 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Charging Power: Heat Wave, taking 16 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Pluto's
Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki accepts Hayate Yagami's The Blessed Wind, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Empower and Surge applied to
Endo Naoki!  Endo Naoki is Reinforced by Hayate Yagami!
COMBAT: Nanoha Takamachi braces 28 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Charging Power: Heat Wave, taking 12 Fatigue damage!  Nanoha
Takamachi's Block ability activates!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki braces 15 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Charging Power: Heat Wave, taking 22 Fatigue damage!  Endo Naoki's
Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Hayate Yagami braces 20 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Charging Power: Heat Wave, taking 16 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi braces 21 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Charging Power: Heat Wave, taking 17 Fatigue damage!
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Red shards rain down around Lera. One grazes along her cheek; it draws a tiny bead of blood, which falls away. She stares at it, breathing hard, as she lands down on the ground. She comes not far from Setsuna, and turns her head to look at Cure Passion -- where she ended up, too. She gives her a long look, and then a nod. "Good work, y'know?" she says, quietly. Then, she looks back at it.


<It's huge!> Sky chimes.

NachtWal rises, towering over them, with its three huge legs that slam into the earth with such might that it causes the ground itself to shake under her feet. She feels a tension rising in her chest; a pressure that she knows well. She isn't, really, a leader -- that would be Signum, or Hayate, or Lindy. She is a fighter. But, sometimes, being a fighter means an instinct comes to mind. Hayate yells for her to strike.

She calls out, through telepathy, to Endo and Passion; two people she knows so well, who she has fought with, time and time again. She calls out, too, to Signum and Vita -- enemies turned allies, like so many others, who she is just coming to know.

<< I'm going up! >> she calls out. << I'll hit from above and try to distract this big ugly thing! Endo, you go for it from the north--take out that leg! Vita... you go from the south, and hit the second! Signum, you go from the west, and hit both of their legs! And Passion, you go from the... >>

Lera blinks. << ...w-well, y'know, didn't plan that! But... if we do it together... then, we can bring this thing down! All of us, together! >>

Lera zips back into the air, then. She promised that she would get NachtWal's attention. The girl rises upward, and the sheer heat coming off the thing blows her hair back and makes the air shimmer like a mirage. <Protection!> Broken Ground chimes, and a green-yellow half-dome of hexagons appears; the heat rolls into it and bounces off it, before Lera rises to the top. She swings her sword down, clutching it in two hands. The blade splits down the middle, sections disconnecting, and red orange light dances up it.


Lightning jumps between the split halves of the sword. It glows, brighter and brighter, and a corona of light appears: a brilliant, shining red that turns gold and then sharp, burning white.


A trio of control rings appears, each spinning rapidly before the split halves of the sword. Rings filled with Midchildan and Belkan rings twist, as the charge between the blade turns into a blinding white light. Lera's hair all blows backward, her pendant blowing back over her shoulder, and her lips split into a grin. Then, the beam explodes down, a massive column of white hot starfire that pours down at NachtWal, at its legs, and draws its terrible wrath up for her.

Over that, Lera screams, with both of her Devices: "RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYY!"

COMBAT: FINISHER! Lera Camry has started a combo targeting NachtWal!
<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

The destruction is monumental. "We-" It sounds like the start of some triumphant cheer. Cut off by the sudden activity.

But just what did they destroy!? As more of it explodes outwards Fate Testarossa wonders on that question. How much of this thing is there!? It's like more keeps forming - or more was just there that they'd never seen to begin with!

And that's before she even sees the chained face.

<It's horrifying.> Bardiche's own adjective answer to Sky.

A wave of heat marks it's ascendant rise from it's revving engine. And Bardiche is lifted in all of his sleeky bulky glory as her defense. The black storm sears like a desert wind before it becomes akin to a solar one, and the child gasps as her throat singes even beyond Bardiche's desperate defense.

<Condition-> Bardiche sputters, <-Condition->

It repeats in uncertainty. And then comes the wind - a celestial wonder - blessed with Hayate and Shamal's magic. It washes over them both and Bardiche suddenly speaks triumphantly. <Condition All Green. Thank you.>

Fate has a single word for it. "Wow."

Then she remembers Hayate's command. "The skies are ours. We won't let it claim them from us."

Beginning to fly forward, she banks alongside Nanoha as she hears the telepathic plan, "Nanoha - can you give me some cover? Together maybe we can delay it for their plan - and buy Hayate some time." It's a dangerous prospect, trying to do that. Yet maybe it would buy the others time to take out the legs.

Fate suddenly bursts forward - trusting in Nanoha's ability to keep her safe, as she skirts the side at as safe a distance from the heat as she can manage. Once she's at a diagonal up top - she raises Bardiche up as spell rings form at her feet.

The sword attracts lightning from overhead in massive continuous burst. Crying out in thunderous dissonance to NachtWal's hellish screams, Fate slams his entire length down in a cleaving strike. "Arcus Cultus Aegeas - God of Thunder - Become my Blade!" <Sprite Zanber> The blade razor sharp in her denial of its flight - slashing down in time with Nanoha's destructive burst. "Haaaaa-!"

COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has started a combo targeting NachtWal!
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

They can be enemies again, another day. For now, Cure Passion watches Pluto strike, watches the power of her blast--and sees that all their efforts are doing something, at least. The monster.... is more than they realized. Passion's eyes widen as she sees the gigantic thing move upward, strange and awful. The legs shift and squirm and are so solid, and the engine revs; the sheer heat of it is extraordinarily. But Hayate directs them--

The awful machinery at hand will not prevent her from trying. Its face looks in so much pain.

Shamal and Hayate's wind sweeps across her, touching her heart, the stars landing on her. ...So she turns her head, and smiles once at Lera. Her presence helps, too. But the wind...

The sheer heat radiates towards her, and as Lera is talking, Cure Passion digs her heels into the ground, adopting a ready stance and refusing to be moved. ...It burns; it hurts. But they have a plan, and pain is not going to keep her down.

"...From the East," Passion answers Lera aloud, and nods sharply. Lera zips into the air, and Passion is off as if at a starting gun, sprinting to the side, towards the east, in a circle around. She makes it quick, leaps, and kicks off the ground. She leaps towards it; the heat starts to burn even worse the closer she gets, her hand reddening as she extends it through and slams towards the enemy. One hit, and--


In time with Lera's column of starfire, Cure Passion's aura flares brilliant crimson. "I know where I come from..."

She swings in with all her might, "And I know where I am!!"

The light blanks her out; Lera's column strikes, and Setsuna strikes from the East, along with--

COMBAT: FINISHER! Cure Passion has joined the combo started by Lera Camry!
<Pose Tracker> Amethyst [None] has posed.

Attacks rip through the tentacles, shatter the shields, and decapitate the head. And Amethyst helped! "Aw yeah!"

"Aw no!"

The giant creature... was only the top of an even larger creature! All of this didn't even matter? Amethyst's self-confidence is in constant flux. "Garnet... Pearl... where ARE you? Steven... I don't know if I can do this." She then tightens her fists around her whips' handles. "No! I'm not gonna let you do this to me!" Her rage gets the better of her, as she launches herself as a spinning ball of anger, right at the giant tripod.

<Pose Tracker> Nanoha Takamachi [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

As Endo and the other attacks work against the first form of NachtWal, Nanoha watches in horror as something else entirely explodes from the ground. Tentacles become the least of their concerns as the tripod-like form emerges and mounts itself but then more tentacles take over the legs and move and squirm around them. The power they seem to feed into the beast is horrible and Nanoha immediately is take aback by the pure energy of the heat cloud that quickly surrounds them and quickly fills the area.

The force of the heat alone is enough to make her move away from it, giving herself some room to breath and take everything in. Nanoha looks down at her arms and even though they're not burned she can still feel the heat against her skin. From this height above NachtWal, she quickly realizes that the monster is trying to take off from the ground just as Hayate's words ring in her mind and Nanoha nods in acknowledgement. "We got this Hayate-chan!!!"

"You ready to take this thing on Raising Heart?" Nanoha asks, already knowing the answer. <I am always ready, Master> She smiles at the ever-faithful device. "Okay then! Let's do this!" <Exelion Mode, Activated!>

Nanoha looks over at Lera, Passion and the other team working together. "We got your back guys!" It's truly amazing to see all of her friends work together like this. IN spite of the overwhelming terrible they are facing, she actually feels optimistic.

She looks towards Fate as their plan formulates, "No problem Feito-chan! I'll cover you!" It's dangerous, sure. But nothing that they have faced so far hasn't been dangerous and the white mage flies overhead keeping her distance but still aiming directly for anything that may impede Fate's chance at keeping the thing grounded as their forces eventually merge together into a bright display of pink and yellow.

"Excelion Buster!!!"

Raising Heart draws a supportive ring underneath her feet as Nanoha braces against it, aiming her weapon downward towards the top of the beast as it continues to charge and draw power and... with a single drawn-out utterance from the girl, it unleashes itself against NachtWal. "Shooooooot!!!

COMBAT: Nanoha Takamachi transforms into Barrier Jacket Exelion!
COMBAT: Nanoha Takamachi has joined the combo started by Fate Testarossa!
COMBAT: Amethyst has used Spinball on NachtWal.
<Pose Tracker> Signum [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihqXPQwXEVU

Hayate speaks to Signum. Shamal too. Her heart swells.

Her eyes threaten to prick even as the immense heat pours off of the massive Thing. Shamal and Klarer transfer energy to her. Hayate gives her instructions without ambiguity. But, Signum thinks, it remains true. Signum hears the tactical call from Lera and the judgment is sound; <<Understood>> is her reply, and she flits in that way.

These passions, Signum thinks, as she reaches the point. I must channel them. I cannot let myself be overwhelmed. I have to ride them, as the Polynesians do.

"O NachtWal," Signum says, murmurs to herself. "My shadow-foe. Hidden for so long from my sight. How much dishonor have you brought upon the name of the Wolkenritter... Even now you have brought me to this crisis. We struggle and perhaps - no, I will refuse the prospect. I deny it..."

She twists round Laevatein... and sheathes it. The magenta energy around her gathers inwards as the power of the hot faithful kiss on her neck and the superheated overload of mana inside of her spiritual circuits grows in intensity and pressure.

"This heat of yours... is nothing!" Signum's eyes widen. Even as the pressure pushes back her hair. Her grip on Laevatein tightens. "From the west, the cloud crosses the lake as the iron beast resides..." The magenta light deepens, intensifies. Signum flies forwards, moving with determination, with purity.



At the critical moment, mere fractions of a centimeter from the burning intensity of NachtWal's form, Signum draws her blade out in a single strike. How many lifetimes of practice, how many thousands upon thousands upon thousands of times has this stroke been practiced, studied, refined, improved? They say that a blade's sparkle is like a star.

Well, a star is a screaming mass of hydrogen that emits atrocious amounts of heat, light and radiation due to the sheer crushing pressure of its own gravitation fusing atoms together in a constant nuclear furnace of alchemic birth. The analogy in this case is that Laevatein, driven to its uttermost incinerating heat, is guided with the pluperfect sword skill of the Knight of Fire.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Signum has joined the combo started by Lera Camry!
COMBAT: COMBO! Fate Testarossa and Nanoha Takamachi have used Combo: Modified Combination 2: Buster Shift!

, composed of Sprite Zanber and Excelion Buster!, on NachtWal.
COMBAT: NachtWal braces 12 Fatigue damage from Amethyst's Spinball, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Amethyst is Psyched!
COMBAT: NachtWal fails to brace Fate Testarossa and Nanoha Takamachi's Combo: Modified Combination 2: Buster Shift!

, taking 161 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  NachtWal is Quipped!
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

"Mikoto, be careful!" Steven says, as the combination attack proves successful and the young lady lounches herself upward to cleave the malign halo around the creature.

Everyone's efforts are all in-- they all fight for their home, their family, their very lives and happiness. But sadly, the fight is not over.

While the corrupt NachtWal appears momentarily defeated,, it is shown that underneath, an entire body still remains, like some sort of sickly head was defeated, yet discarded as if unneeded. Unrelenting force made manifest.

"Uh oh!" the boy says, as the sudden rise of the towering being makes way for immense immolating heat that comes out in waves, driving back would-be saviors. "Lion, retreat!" The coy balls ,the heat getting to him quickly. Though feeling the force, he raises his shield to block the waves of heat, and the shield reacts in turn, sending out peals of reverberating sound toward a closeby leg.

The trusty mascot gets far enough that at least the fiery temperature can be withstood for a time. The boy looks to the call of Hayate, and sees others taking aim toward the wings. He looks down at those legs it has. "If we can damage a leg, when it gets forced back down, it might not be able to stand and crash! Let's do it!"

The boy hops in Lion's mane with a deep breath. A few moments later, a massive, pink tube pokes out through shimmering roseate light. "We got one shot at this buddy! Dig in! If we get through this, I promise I will buy you so many Lion Lickers you could bury yourself in them!"

The pink cat snorts, and digs in!

The barrel of the Laser Light Cannon thrums with hope and possibility, as if it senses the person who holds it's next words.

Steven Universe takes aim, careful as possible.

A thought of a dream once shared flickers for a moment. He smiles and speaks.

"If every pork chop was perfect, we wouldn't have hot dogs."

All at once, pink light fills the area, as a beam of pure light energy rips from the tube towards NachtWal. One might even say a feminine shape adorns the tip of the laser. Berhaps a blessing, or a sign of hope.

Not even Steven knows why that is. But what he does know is that his attack packs a wallop, and may help the effort, perhaps in soem small way, but even the smallest fractures in a wall can compouned into collapse.

Steven can only hope.

And hoping is what he does best. For everyone.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Steven Universe has used Laser Light Cannon on NachtWal.
<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

What happens when an unstoppable object becomes an immovable force?

It is one swift motion. Miroku catches the rings; Mikoto flips off of Lion's back rather than be dragged; the obsidian blade bites down in a shower of sparks, grinding the spinning things slower - slower - stopped. They are together a literal wrench in the gears.

Except this wrench is very, very sharp.

It's only natural for cats to find a high perch, and this is - especially as the monster rises - most certainly one of the highest.

Caught here on the zenith of the beast, Mikoto can only steel herself against the heat which rises in the way only heat can. It washes over her, and it is not friendly warmth at all. It does not feel like home.

A thousand stars are kept in the ensuing breeze and each one is cool and kind upon skin sweltering with heat. "Everything," Mikoto grinds out in acknowledgement, between grit teeth.

It's a complicated question, for Mikoto Minagi, whose power is...

Nostrils flare as Mikoto takes a deep, steadying breath. She looks down, searches out her allies. It is Lancelot's lead she follows, here, loyalty earned through affection. And it is Sailor Pluto who understands better than anyone she knows the stakes of this battle, so devoted are the both of them.

It's only a moment's glance. There's so much she misses. There's so much she cannot afford to focus on. Her enemies do not earn her attention whatsoever. There are allies she does not see, as soon as she settles on those two.

That breath becomes a shout. "Lancelot! Sailor Pluto!" Mikoto yells, above the heat and the battle which rages on. Her mind roils with a thousand inputs from each threat surrounding her, and it is all she can do to repeat Hayate's words back to them again: "Everything!" And the word is fierce, and determined.

And for the second time this day she calls it: "... MIROKU!!"

It's fascinating, to see the way Mikoto grasps her sword in both hands as energy begins to flare up around her, sending skirt fluttering and braids flying. Because it's plunged into the side of NachtWal's rings - not buried in the ground. It's completely visible.

There's the vague, terrible sense that what they see was never meant to be seen.

That perhaps plunging it into the ground was nothing more than a trick of the eye.

Black energy surrounds the immediate area surrounding Miroku's position on the rings, flared out in a jagged circle. Sigils open along its length, but it is impossible to see its eyes beneath the shadows - if indeed they are shadows at all. There are only the glimmering lights of red, red, red.

It is a dark portal.

From whence do Elements come?

... from whence came Miroku?

Glimmering points of red birth white light, arcing out blinding in all directions, now, unshielded by earth or concrete or stone. First arcs, and then a blinding flash, slow enough for anyone to begin an assault around her -

- and there is a shuddering, from within the belly of the beast.

It ought to be familiar to the warriors here; after all, they were attacked in much the same manner.

This is a thing Miroku can do: a gigantic blade erupts from the flesh of NachtWal, behind the rings. It is tall as a tower, broad as a ship, volcanic glass sculpted in a massive replica of Miroku itself. It rises, rises - tall enough to pierce one side of its wings, meaning entirely to run them through, to carve them to ribbons.

Light arcs from the place where it has split NachtWal's flesh - but it is not only light, exploding outwards, is it?

COMBAT: FINISHER! Mikoto Minagi has started a combo targeting NachtWal!
<Pose Tracker> Vita [None] has posed.

The Wolkenritter knew, loosely, about NachtWal, but to see it the way it is now...to know that this monster is what was causing their suffering. This THING is what was trying to kill Hayate...!!

Vita is more than able to release the belting, screaming fury that lets her slam NachtWal's shield, then jet away, bolting and blasting. Signum waxes poetic. Vita sneers, her lips curling uncontrolled with spite - and then her eyes bugging out as NachtWal releases what amounts to its rocket platform, bursting out enough to deploy a blasting, horrifying wave of power. "EISEN!" she calls, holding out a hand as her magic field forms, a crystalline shell extending faintly from the edges. <<HEAT PROTECTIONS HOLDING.>> "This is how hot it gets with the shields UP!?" <<ROCKETS ARE AMAZING.>> "You are the WORST when you're feeling chatty!" Vita grouses, magic contrailing after her as she soars to a safer distance. She draws in dusty but cooler air, taking in the scene. How to attack this, she wonders...

Lera has some ideas. Vita arcs long around. <<I hear you! I'm going!>> she replies, and only seconds later, she and Eisen are charging again. "Rocket!" <<JA.>> ... ... ...

"OUR rocket!" <<AH.>>

Vita grips her hammer hilt again, wrapping herself around it, and the Iron Rider and the Iron Count's pair act becomes a decidedly more deadly one, accompanied by the thunder of firing Cartridges. In magnificent unison they ride, the rocket-propelled Raketenform blasting them on a long, spiraling, chaotic path, correcting and counter-correcting, and occasionally just letting chaos reign as they fly. Vita finds her way to the southern leg, locates her target - the strength of the armor doesn't interest her, she just finds the closest approximation to a major joint in the horrible, undulating musculature, and then she drives toward it. "BOOST!" she screams, and Eisen bellows an excited, <<EXPLOSION!!>>

The hammerhead pistons up. The hammerhead SLAMS down.

Vita's rocket hammer releases a BLAST of light, a nova-white screaming thing that should be a contrail except it's ALL FIRE as Vita blitzes toward that leg with a hammer that ends in a point, and when it hits, she holds; grips on with a deathly grasp as the hammer feeds on the magic she eagerly gives it, spiking through all defenses until it can rip through the meat and magic beneath.

Over the sound of it all, the sound of two different rockets and a dozen spells and attacks, it speaks to the volume Vita can attain that her shriek of fury, her vengeful roar, echoes across the space.


COMBAT: FINISHER! Vita has joined the combo started by Lera Camry!
<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Shattering glass could be heard as the interceted barrier of red triangles is scattered by the combined efforts of the guardians of Tokyo, and Sourisi uses the shards to leap outwards and away before she could fall into the darkness that NachtWal was sticking out of. "Breeze-san, Kasagami-san, beautifully done! Couldn't had made it without out!" The support of arrows and daggers kept enough of the wiggling tentacles at bay for her to get clear, and now they all had a chance to take down the body and get to the core!

The wave of black goop causes Sourisi to back up even further to avoid being splashed, having felt the burning that just a few drops could cause. "Alright, that had to hurt! Now we-...um..." Sourisi can only stare as more of the twisted creation emerges from the abyss, looking more and more twisted with each passing moment. Just how corrupted was this 'security program'?

Sourisi jumps at first as Hayate speaks into her mind, but the plan is quick and firm, something to grasp onto. "Right then! Let's see about smashing that thing back down to earth!...portal..." Putting aside what exactly they about to slam NachtWal for later, Sourisi feels the burst of winds wrap around her, so much like the Wind Knight's power yet just as different.

Sharing a look with the Wind Knight and the Crimson Duelist, the Miraculous Ninja gives a single nod. "You heard the tactician! Let's unleash an all-out attack!" With that, Sourisi rushes not directly for the twisted abomination, but a toppled pillar on the way there. Running up the slanted pillar, a clawed boot stomps on the edge of rock before Sourisi launches herself skyward, face frowning. They need a lot of force to keep that thing down, and she could only apply just enough of an impact with her tonfa to maybe send one of those legs downwards.

Why use your tonfa when you have your whole body?

Boots glow a crimson light as a mouse girl flips through the air before suddenly she's shooting downwards at the main 'body', a cone of air ripping around her from the sudden burst of speed. The displaced air is enough to keep most of the heat at bay, but it's clearly going to be too much to handle if she sticks around after this! "Primal Crazy Rodent!"

COMBAT: FINISHER! Sourisi has started a combo targeting NachtWal!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Pluto [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

After following through with her Passion-pulted assault on the NachtWal's leg(s), Sailor Pluto lands rough and rolls clear well on the other side of the thing. Cure-gifted momentum is quite a force. Regaining her feet and looking around, Sailor Pluto calls, "Thank you!" to the pink-haired girl, one hand raised in a slow solemn wave.

That's when the NachtWal, or rather the barest upper portion of the NachtWal, surges upward to reveal a massive amount of the rest and Sailor Pluto is even more grateful to that powerful boost. She wouldn't have liked to be caught anywhere near that thing upon its emergence. She... doesn't quite gape, craning back to take the entirety of the towering horror in, but her lips part to allow a sucked-in breath.

"...a world-destroyer," she utters, low and horrified. These were the stakes all along, of course.

Then she's holding what breath is left because to draw another might scald her lungs, as the wash of heat rolls over her. Sweat pours down her arms and legs, and she fights a wave of dizziness in the awful swelter.

Up the NachtWal strains, and Hayate makes the call -- the sentinel senshi shakes her head once, disliking the mental intrusion, but she's too professional to dwell on such things on a battlefield.

Eternally the soldier, Sailor Pluto snaps to attention and narrows her eyes on that disastrous ascending bulk. She spots Mikoto Minagi up there -- of course the furious berserkergirl is up in the NachtWal's immediate business, why would she be anywhere else? -- and feels a kinship and a pride in this indomitable spirit, in her friend and ally. She meets that gaze with a steady battle promise: a solemn nod.

A look to the side includes the knight she once met via the heel of her boot. Well she recalls Lancelot's thundrous contributions to other battlefields. This battlefield makes strange allies, and she calls, "Sir Knight! Together, then?" The Garnet Rod lifts in salute.

"For the Princess!" she cries, and squares bare shoulders. Her eyes close, and she sends the garnet spark of her soul deep into the mysterious center of the Orb atop her Rod. A luminant mote is she, and she pulses to match the steady beat of the heart of the magic.

Together, she and the magic synchronize to the unbroken and ineffable cadence of the universe.

Time's Guardian finds a single moment of pure, clean solace -- almost unattainable anywhere else, almost -- there in the flow of it all. Then, with something like regret, she holds fast to power and to Time and to her own soul and pulls forth from the Garnet Orb.

Garnet eyes flare wide, and Time's tempest erupts around her.


A ravaging magic, grey-tinged-violet, churns the earth and rends the air about the eternal senshi, towers in a screaming cyclone of not-wind -- it gathers and with an eerie sound that is more like the shattering of glass than thunder it surges forth, at the rising NachtWal --

-- and directly at Mikoto Minagi.

Sailor Pluto's brow furrows, between evergreen eyebrows. Heat-induced sweat is joined by that shed from sheer mental effort. She lifts the Garnet Rod high overhead as the Chronos Typhoon rages at Mikoto, and then she sweeps it down in a clean cutting motion...

...and the storm splits around the black-braided berserker and her black-bladed extension of fury, swirls clear until the pressure around the girl drops so low her ears might pop from the change.

Mikoto and Miroku and their combined jawdropping fury, all are within the eye of the Chronos Typhoon.

It whirls around Mikoto, and its slicing of time batters at the NachtWal without mercy. It accepts any and all power fed it by the Knight Lancelot, thunders more powerfully and crackles with what might be wild lightning and might also be the raw stuff of Time Itself. Whatever it strikes feels their combined fury, magnified over endless split seconds by the Typhoon's eldritch power.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Sailor Pluto has joined the combo started by Mikoto Minagi!
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Picking himself up Lancelot eyes the Nachtwal as it unveils the rest of it's body. His eyes go kind of wide but that is short lived as the heat washes over him. He crosses his blades in front of him, but the ehat just pours over him. It throws him to a knee and then slams him back against a piece of rubble. He bursts through that rubble and rolls a good ten feet before stopping. He hisses as he opens one eye and glares at the thing. Power. The sweet intoxicating and pure power of lightning begins to gather along his blades.

It begins as a trickle. A few errant sparks leaping from the tips and edges of Arondight's blades as Lancelot climbs to his feet. Pluto calls to him and he grins. "Sure! Let's wreck this thing!" He replies as the power begins to trickle into him.

The trickle becomes a steady drip as it climbs up his arms, and down his legs. Circling his limbs and arcing with little crackles and snaps and pops as he takes first one, then several steps forward. He holds the baldes to the side as the drip becomes a stream, lightning continually arcing and whipping from his blades, his arms and legs, curcling him and exploding along the ground in little arcs. The stream becomes a river that beigns at his eyes as lighting somehow literally drips eyes that now glow pure white edged in blue motes of power.

The Power contiues to build as he says, "Animaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa - " drawing out the word, the draw bringing in more and more power. Around him lightning snaps and whips, thunder rocks him and wind howls. He pictures the things that are in danger from this dark force. His home, his mother and father, his sister Mika. Mai and Mikoto. Steven and Lion, Fuu-chan, Fate, every one here he's fought beside, bled beside. He can feel his cloak whipping behind him, his hair whips back and forth, the tie that holds it in that loose pony tail snaps at the sheer force and now his hair flaps freely around him. He narrows his eyes, and when Pluto's storm envelopes the thing he sees his opening, even as he's told to unleash his power.


The word is an opening of the flood gates. All that power rushes out with the force of a hundred thousand or more lightning bolts. He poitns both blades of Arondight at the Nachtwal to direct the sheer power into the raging storm created by Pluto. The pure white and blue blast of lighting thundersforward and slams into the storm and rips into it, absorbed to turn into a thousand lighting bolts ripping thaough that storm. They lash and strike at the Nachtwal, thunder booming every second, a raging storm of flashing lighting and roaring thunder. Bolts of that lighting find their way to Mikoto's blade. To fuel some of that power into the HiMe's apocalyptic strike. The blue and white bolts arcing and swirling around Miroku, making that legendary blade glow with the blue and white light of Lancelot's lighting.

His power unleashed, Lancelot falls to one knee, panting, he closes his eyes, trying to catch his breath, "Okay Mikoto - Your turn," He whispers and grins slightly. "Kick it's ass."

COMBAT: FINISHER! Lancelot has joined the combo started by Mikoto Minagi!
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Kasagami Araki's eyes widen as the grand, horrific visage of Nachtwal truly begins to rise. The immense size and strangeness of the thing makes her stomach turn sour, earning her antipathy instantly. This isn't something that should belong in the world she lives in. Her hand grips her blade that much harder.

This is the face of an apocalypse, and she knows Hayate is right. Luckily the gathered mahou are hammering into it's defenses, and the newly made owner of the Book offers them the light of the stars themselves. That power lands into Kasagami's hands, into her blade, and it shines brilliantly as those hands grow more confident. She can feel power surge into her limbs. A long breath, almost zen for a moment.

It simply can't fly, and the boiling heat from the beast only makes that fact much more clear. Even as Kasagami readies herself to rush alongside Fuu and Niramo again, she can feel her old wounds flare. She stumbles briefly, choking down a sob of pain as the heatwave hits her full on. Part of her face feels like it's blistering. She can smell and taste licking flames, soot, burning meat.

She's woken up from a brief personal nightmare by Sourisi's call and Hayate's telling them to unleash everything. A dry mouth laughs, and she grins to Fuu and Sourisi.

"When facing a strong enemy there's no other way to fight! Giving all of the power and skill you have in order to achieve your dreams is what it means to be a warrior!" Comes Kasagami as she leaps forward once, then a single boot lands.

She's once again into the air, the power granted to her by Shamal and Hayate leading her high into the air. Rather than go for knives or her blade, she eyes both of her partners in magical beatings, timing her sudden and reckless descent with Niramo's own. She aims to keep pace, a falling comet with her feet down.

Legs pull up for just a moment, and finally she intends to streak down into a black wing, steel toed boots stomping and slamming towards the great magical beast that seeks to rise into the sky!

"This is no beautiful angel rising to heaven! Wind Knight! Sourisi! Everyone! Let's clip this devil's wings and send it crashing back down!"

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has joined the combo started by Sourisi!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

There's a look of restrained satisfaction on the Wind Knight's face as the barriers are smashed through and NachtWal tastes the full fury of magical girls (and boys) in their full and terrible glory, holding nothing back against this threat to their shared world. It even seems like the battle may be over ... although Hayate did mention that the core had to be exposed, didn't she?

But that core has yet to be made visible. Instead, NachtWal - already an immense monstrosity - emerges *further* into the world, more immense than the Wind Knight had already thought, and still more dreadfully powerful, beginning to charge up like the revving of the greatest (and worst) engine ever.

That terrible heat is enough to force the Magic Knight of Wind to depart her perch; the spells cast by Shamal and Hayate to empower and strengthen them bring a welcome respite from the heat. And as for Hayate's call not to let NachtWal take off ...

Who better to stymie an attempt at flight than one who bends the wind itself to her will?

"Be careful, Sourisi-san!" the Wind Knight calls a warning - not that she thinks she needs to worry, but Fuu's next spell is going to be big; she can't afford to hold anything back right now. Her feet touch something solid again - part of what used to be a building, she thinks - and she spreads her arms wide, drawing them back and gathering her magic, as much of it as she can draw upon.

"EMERALD ... !!"

She could be right next to NachtWal or halfway across the city, and her voice would ring out just as clearly. Her powers may have been granted in Cephiro, but this is still her world - her city - her *home* - and she won't hold back in its defense.


Her arms sweep forward and up - and for the briefest of moments, nothing appears to happen, as if her focus broke and her spell whiffed. But the Emerald Cyclone howls into being nonetheless; if anything, that seeming hesitation was just a prelude to the full power being unleashed. The Wind Knight's single most powerful spell sweeps upwards, the conjured tempest building in power as it goes - and then it swerves and arcs downwards, a hammerblow of raw elemental fury intended to drive NachtWal back down to the ground - maybe *into* the ground, but definitely to deny it flight.

Hopefully any allies who are hitting NachtWal's top surface up close are able to get out of the way in time ...

COMBAT: FINISHER! Fuu Hououji has joined the combo started by Sourisi!
COMBAT: COMBO! FINISHER! Mikoto Minagi, Sailor Pluto, and Lancelot have used Combo: Threading The Eye Of The Storm, composed of
MIROKU!!, Chronos Typhoon, and Anima Tempestas, on NachtWal.
COMBAT: COMBO! FINISHER! Sourisi, Kasagami Araki, and Fuu Hououji have used Combo: Grounding Primal Cyclone!, composed of Primal
Crazy Rodent, Kassie Kick, and Emerald Cyclone: Full, on NachtWal.
<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.

Endo's satisfaction at striking such a blow against the massive monster is short lived, when it assumes a new form shortly after the gathered magical girls carve through it. He leaps backward as the new, tri-pod of tentacled towers emerges, letting out a hiss of alarm when the thing lets out a blast of energy.

His alarm proves to be well founded, the heatwave given off from just charging its own energy sending him staggering backward, his barrier jacket and skin underneath burning from the power that the ancient machine is harnessing. There's a moment of shock and awe at the sheer size of the thing, let alone the magic its capable of.

But when Hayate calls and Lera's voice snaps him back to reality, he turns his attention toward his allies once more. <Okay!> He trusts absolutely in Lera and Passion, two of his steadfast friends. Vita and Signum, former enemies, he trusts to do their own part to make amends with they strength they've shown in battle so many times over.

And Endo's own strength, bolstered by the Tome of the Night Sky, is put to task on the leg he's been requested to target. "Stern. Let's go right through it!"

<AFFIRMATIVE.> Lurid purples flare across the space beneath Endo's feet, another Belkan triangle spinning into existence below.

The is one final introduction to be made on the Belkan side, though most are already familiar: <KNOW ME.> Purple sigils thrum, building power, tightening like a spring. <I AM DESTRUCTION. FALLEN STERN - THE METEOR.>

Signum does not hold the only star. A second is born, a streak of purple-black light that moves nearly as fast as the eye can see. Up, off the ground, streaking toward the towering leg of an ancient machine.


Not all stars collide, but this one does.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Endo Naoki has joined the combo started by Lera Camry!
COMBAT: COMBO! FINISHER! Lera Camry, Cure Passion, Signum, Vita, and Endo Naoki have used Combo: #-1 INVALID ANSI DEFINITION:
#FFC20 Cardinal Strike, composed of Aurora Burst Ray, Passion Drive, Kouga Shiden Issen, Raketenhammer, and Kosmisch Kollidieren,
on NachtWal.
COMBAT: NachtWal fails to brace Sourisi, Kasagami Araki, and Fuu Hououji's Finisher, Combo: Grounding Primal Cyclone!, taking 205
Fatigue damage!  Stagger applied to NachtWal!
COMBAT: NachtWal fails to brace Mikoto Minagi, Sailor Pluto, and Lancelot's Finisher, Combo: Threading The Eye Of The Storm,
taking 514 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  NachtWal is unable to keep fighting!
COMBAT: NachtWal fails to brace Steven Universe's Finisher, Laser Light Cannon, taking 107 Fatigue damage!  NachtWal is unable to
keep fighting!
COMBAT: NachtWal fails to brace Lera Camry, Cure Passion, Signum, Vita, and Endo Naoki's Finisher, Combo: #-1 INVALID ANSI
DEFINITION: #FFC20 Cardinal Strike, taking 906 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  NachtWal is unable to keep fighting!
<Pose Tracker> NachtWal [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

Another Belkan triangle is rotating below Hayate, now -- she joins the effort to keep NachtWal at bay, to stop it from taking off before it can start, extending her staff-hand to briefly form a defensive barrier against the rising heat. Her other hand holds the tome, which flips back, far back -- towards its beginnings.

"Rise from beyond, mistletoe branch," she chants, quietly, a deeper mode of focus returning her to an exceptionally serene state. Her hair rises around her like a halo, buoyed by invisible currents of power. "Become spears of the silver moon, and break through!"

White orbs, each one almost as large as the one that contained her for quite some time, now create a ring around her and her firing platform.

"Petrifying spears..."

She thrusts her free hand into the air and makes a grasping motion, as though about to hurl a javelin -- and in response the orbs lengthen, becoming immense, massive columns of light. They narrow to tips but only on a sort of vague technicality, much more blunt than sharp.

Then again, what they're about to pierce is very, very large.


They soar downwards. They could be feathers of light but really they're missiles, and everywhere they strike, they puncture, criss-crossing like immense spears of pure radiance.

Everywhere they touch begins, promptly, to turn to stone.

This makes it much heavier; much harder to achieve lift; also, much easier to shatter into nothingness.

Exhibit A: Nanoha and Fate's Buster Shift -- Excellion pouring in from one side like a burst dam of highly pressurized (and combustible!) Pepto Bismol, Bardiche Zanber falling like an executioner's axe (except that it's a sword, the biggest sword of all, now, if composed of lightning rather than steel) -- they take a huuuuge chunk out of the hip-like hinge that keeps those three huge, mechaorganic legs attached to the engine-torso above..

Exhibit B: Amethyst is very small and the Rose Quartz-esque blast emitting from Steven's laser light cannon is very large, but there's a moment that they're soaring in together, side by side, before they slam into a leg and take it out. Though the detonation sends Amethyst flying through a cloud of disintegrating stone shards, she feels shielded, somehow, by the last traces of the fading pink laserbeam. It's like a warm hug, all around her.

Exhibit C: Miroku is summoned inside the rings -- and the rings were already stopped but they aren't stone, not yet, not when Mikoto begins her silent and terrible invocation. As Miroku expands, fractally, becoming more and more of itself at every turn, there's a crushing, crunching sound. A sword in a stone. Almost in response rather than in reaction, Sailor Pluto's roaring, rushing, Lancelot-enjoined typhoon-a-la-celestial-wrath provides the illusion of blood. But it is not blood. NachtWal is not bleeding -- it is crumbling. In a sad sort of way, it's an eye-for-an-eye revenge for the rendered-to-ash World Tree.

Exhibit D: Sourisi shoots downwards like a star towards the engine and winds up rendering one of its pistons to dust. It has a lot of pistons, though. Kasagami accounts for another, which compresses beneath her. And Fuu's cyclone hammers down the next two which, consecutively, pop up like whack-a-moles, increasingly strained under the pressure, the whole engine section is starting to blaze with regrettably(?) less controlled heat.

Exhibit "The Last Exhibit Because There's Nothing Left After This To Exhibit": Lera's Aurora Burst Ray, from above, spits plasmic fury, rending the very air; Pretty Cure Passion, from the side, is the sunrise incarnate in a single punch; around again is Signum practicing the perfect iaijutsu as performed by the heart of the sun; crashing inward is Vita, her rocketbeast of a weapon GRINDING on impact, creating a fresh scream that has nothing to do with anyone's lungs; and Endo streaks upwards from below, destruction incarnate, visible only in trailing aftereffect.

There is a brief and shining moment where it seems like that's the end. All that's left is a steadily falling cloud of chunks of stone -- and machinery, there's some of that too, NachtWal isn't all stone and what isn't stone is quite, quite rightly slagged by the combination of everything it's just suffered.

But the portal accepts this donation of former flesh and starmetal with a glooping glopping GLORP.

And, a moment later, exhumes a far less well-organized but very rapidly expanding mass of summoned flesh. It can't keep up with things like 'legs' anymore, it has no real structure, just throbbing muscles, the occasional gigantic snake-tentacle, a chunk of wing here, a gigantic rolling red eye there; it is like an organic explosion.

The woman at its heart, her chains have snapped, now, her eyes hidden no longer by a blindfold, only a fringe of bangs, and her tongue is slurping hungrily out of her mouth, too many rows of teeth gaping, and a very large ROAR comes out of such a very small figure.

What's left of the pistons gnash up and down at impossible angles, spraying oil-like black energy into the air all around. The last of the rings, now just a jagged spike, dangle, churning like the broken gears they are, back and forth, back and forth. There is no coherent engine structure, but NachtWal doesn't require a shape that makes sense to be itself. It is an infection. It is a corruption.

It is the end.

And suddenly the until-lately-fairly-safe-behind-magical-girl-lines civilians, again, really aren't. This battlefield is blowing up -- blowing OUT -- in every direction. The roiling tangle of hungry flesh, consumption incarnate, will be on them within moments, and then they, too, will be part of NachtWal.

COMBAT: NachtWal transforms into NachtWal: BARGAINING!
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Consumption Tsunami on Endo Naoki.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Consumption Tsunami on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Consumption Tsunami on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Consumption Tsunami on Lancelot.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Consumption Tsunami on Sailor Pluto.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Consumption Tsunami on Sourisi.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Consumption Tsunami on Vita.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Consumption Tsunami on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Consumption Tsunami on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Consumption Tsunami on Signum.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Consumption Tsunami on Nanoha Takamachi.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Consumption Tsunami on Amethyst.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Consumption Tsunami on Cure Passion.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Consumption Tsunami on Fate Testarossa.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Consumption Tsunami on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: NachtWal has used Consumption Tsunami on Hayate Yagami.
COMBAT: Amethyst braces 28 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Consumption Tsunami, taking 12 Fatigue damage!  Amethyst's Block and
Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa neatly dodges 44 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Consumption Tsunami, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  Critical
Hit!  Fate Testarossa's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Steven Universe braces 23 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Consumption Tsunami, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Steven Universe's
Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Sourisi dodges 22 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Consumption Tsunami, taking 15 Fatigue damage!  Sourisi's Fade and Flash
abilities activate!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji braces 23 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Consumption Tsunami, taking 19 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji's Block
and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki braces 35 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Consumption Tsunami, taking 15 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
COMBAT: Hayate Yagami neatly dodges 44 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Consumption Tsunami, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  Critical
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi perfectly counters 54 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Consumption Tsunami, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical
Hit!  Critical Counter!  Mikoto Minagi's Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi's counterattack, Obsidian Blade: Dynamo, bursts all the way through, doing 40 Fatigue damage to NachtWal!
COMBAT: Signum dodges 18 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Consumption Tsunami, taking 27 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Signum's
Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Lancelot neatly dodges 36 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Consumption Tsunami, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki perfectly counters 43 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Consumption Tsunami, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical
Counter!  Endo Naoki's Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki's counterattack, Machtiger Schild, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to NachtWal!
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto braces 22 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Consumption Tsunami, taking 18 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Pluto's Block
and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Vita partially dodges 9 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Consumption Tsunami, taking 35 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
COMBAT: Nanoha Takamachi neatly dodges 36 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Consumption Tsunami, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Nanoha
Takamachi's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Cure Passion perfectly dodges 36 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Consumption Tsunami, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical
Dodge!  Cure Passion's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Lera Camry decisively counters 30 Fatigue damage from NachtWal's Consumption Tsunami, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Lera
Camry's Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!
COMBAT: Lera Camry's counterattack, Sentinel Flash, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to NachtWal!
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

NachtWal shatters, for a moment.

Lera lands slowly, the absence of a flapping coat standing out to her as she does. It was ever the background to such a landing. Her feet set down, boots crunching into the ground, and she lets out a long breath. << Good job! >>

<Danger!> Broken Ground chimes.

So it is. They see the flesh and starmetal underneath; the expanding wave of meat and skin that make up some sort of inner workings, and a huge tentacle surges past Lera. Soaring Sky calls out, just before it gets too close: <Sentinel Flash!>

A cross-shaped beam of light appears, and the tentacle is beat aside quickly. Lera looks at the chained, tortured woman -- and she stares. She stares, too, at the pistons pounding their terrible rhythm. A realization kicks in. Her eyes widen, slowly, and she turns her head, to look at Cure Passion. "Passion!" she calls out. "We're almost there! We need to buy some time!"

She lifts Soaring Sky, and she ignores the burn of pain in her muscles when she does. She looks ahead, then, and she spots Mikoto: the black-haired girl who turned to her for answers, once, even as she swore she would kill Endo. The girl, now, fighting that wall of flesh. Lera runs forward. She doesn't fly; she leaps into the air, this time, to come crashing down towards Mikoto's side.

As she does, she swings back Soaring Sky. "Sky! Arsenal!"


A Belkan triangle flashes behind her. Then, a dozen spectral long swords -- each a copy of Soaring Sky -- form, swirl out, and strike at once into the wall of flesh. They slash, rip, and tear, before the true Sky sweeps down. Lera lands on her feet, head turning to look at Mikoto. "The pistons!" she calls. "It's a way forward! Just a little more, and--and we can set everything right, Mikoto! Please!"

Her eyes turn, too, and look back -- for the red eyes she knows are coming, with a promise of--


COMBAT: Lera Camry has started a combo targeting NachtWal!
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

As the thing begins to crumble Lancelot smiles and gives wink to Mikoto as he kneels there panting heavily. "Nice one Mikoto-chan!" He calls to her and then he nods to the woman who when last he was near her, all he saw was a flashing leg and a boot heel before he woke up in the park spread eagled and knocked out. "Thank you." He says to her bowing his head. He opens his mouth to say mroe to her, like maybe an introduction that doens't involve a Sailor Boot to the Head when the Nachtwal comes back as some massive pulsing thing of nasty. He stands up, exhasted and running on pure adrenaline at this point.

Lancelot then looks over his shoulder at the civilians. The innocents. He squares his shoulders. "I am a Knight of the Round Table." he says softly. Then he looks at the center of that thing descending on him and these people. The line had to be drawn here or else.... He squares his shoulders and takes a step forward. His duty is to protect them. To prtoect the innocent. "NO!" He cries in defiance to the Nachtwal as it advances on him, and the others. "NO DAMNIT! I won't let you get passed me, I won't let you get passed me to them, to Mai,OR DESTROY THE EARTH!" He once again draws power into him. It's nothing compared to the last blast, he doesn't have that in him again. Instead he thrusts both blades forward toward the center of that mass, toward the woman whose eyes are covered by her bangs, and cries outm "HEAVEN'S WRATH!"

Again lighting flows from him. It is nothign like the Anima he unleashed. It is maybe a quarter of that size, but it is a steady and powerful stream of lighting. He lends all that he has left, all that is into that strike. His anger, his fear, ...

His Love.

As he screams into the Abyss, into the horrific mass descending on him and everyone, he finds that he has a lot of that. More than he thought he had. Sure, he has his love of bacon, that goes without question, but more importnatly he has love for his family. For his friends. He remembers his perfect world, and WHO he loved there. His mother with her constant martial arts surprise tests, his father and his engine talks with him. His sister and their constant teasing of each other. Recently Eri and their just plain loyalty to each other. Looking out and goofing off. Mikoto and the Mai fueled eating frenzies. And of course Mai.

Lancelot had loved in the ancient past, had experienced the things that Takeo, now stood and threw his weight and power into to defend. But it was different. His had been selfish, and even yes foolish. Takeos was ....

Takeo's was his, and he was NOT going to let it all go without a fight. Even if he died here in this hellscape fighting this nightmare, he wouldn't loose it. He'd see it all survived.

So while Heaven's Wrath crackled and burned from him, Lancelot stood firm. Pouring his very soul into the strike, and screaming his defience into the nightmare.

COMBAT: Lancelot has used Heaven's Wrath on NachtWal.
<Pose Tracker> Amethyst [None] has posed.

Together with Steven's Laser Light Cannon, Amethyst manages to get in a lucky shot. Her rage was rewarded with a powerful blowback, sending her hurdling towards the ground. However, when she hits, she seems unharmed. Why is that? She is about to jump back into the melee, recklessly without abandon, but that thought causes pause. It was the light of the cannon. It was the feminine form of the light.

It was ROSE.

"Rose... thank you." Amethyst calms down slightly. Rose would not want her to lose it like this. She would want her to fight alongside her friends. She is not alone. Even with Rose gone, there's still Steven, Sourisi, and so many more. She takes a moment to find herself, and center herself. Rage could bring strength, but friendship was greater strength.

As the flesh of the new form spreads and engulfs the destroyed, exploded and exploding landscape, an aura of pink lightly surrounds Amethyst, almost invisibly. She is able to push off of the horrible abomination, launching herself away from it. With a deep breath, the pink aura sinks into her. "You will not win, you bookworm! I've fought too many threats to this planet to let you, but more than that..."

"My friends have power you'll never understand."

COMBAT: Amethyst has used Rose's Guidance on Amethyst.
COMBAT: Amethyst accepts Amethyst's Rose's Guidance, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Amethyst is Reinforced by Amethyst!
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

The attack combination against the leg is successful, as is the major effort above. A terrifting light emerges from the back of the creature, met with an equally searing power from far above. The creature crumples under the sheer force of those who seek to spare this world any more hurt that dare come from beyond.

Unfortunately, the NachtWal has not breathed its last, if it even can do so any more. It assumes a horrific form, rapidly expanding, all consuming. It hungers, hungers for civilzation in the basest sense-- its programming has reached such an unstable level that it changes moment to moment, unable to create a coherent shape.

"Oh... OH NO."

It creeps forward at a nightmarish pace, but there is now more at stake than defeating it. The civilians nearby, the ones who have nowhere else to go. It comes closer and closer.

"One last time, Lion!"

The animal is exhausted, but with a powerful surge of a second wind, Lion manages to get a portal open, and gets the boy to them quickly. "LOOK OUT!" Steven shouts, and looks around to anyone he can see. He sees two individuals. Two he would trust with everything.

BGM Change: Xenoblade Chronicles X - Uncontrollable https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00mcJhWhLGs

"Sailor Pluto! Kasagami! The civilians!!!"

The boy takes a deep breath on its approach, and waves a hand forth, a sheath of shield appears, translucent and pink, to block the incoming wave and hold the line!

It was time they did their duty as magical warriors, and help save those they fight for so dearly. "We gotta hold the line! For everyone we hold dear!"

COMBAT: Steven Universe has started a combo targeting NachtWal!
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Passion has little time to stop and admire Hayate and Reinforce's magic, but she can certainly appreciate the effect. Stone is something she can hit. And she does; with the others, in time, together, she feels the impact and she can stare to see the falling chunks of a monster. She, too, wonders if it's all right, if it's done, as she springs back, finding a place to land.

It isn't--it rushes, chaotic and horrifying and the woman at its heart is terribly. Passion adapts quickly; knowing that she can't go far if the energy coats her, if she can't get away from the corruption, and starts backpedaling quickly--until Lera calls to her, and she looks back. ...She sees what she's looking at--

"I'm on it!" she answers her, and springs forward towards the pistons, looking to where Lera is and starting to jump to the next, and the next, trying to force her way through with flying fists and whirling motions.

"Come with us!" Passion calls to Mikoto, and she lo0cks eyes with Lera. ...She sees those swords, striking. ...She knows what she has to do.

"Lera!" she calls back, and charges inward, once more becoming a blur of motion; she leaves little left for whatever may come. They have to give all that they can.

COMBAT: Cure Passion has joined the combo started by Lera Camry!
<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.

Endo does have to stop, and sooner rather than later. His arc ends, and he falls to earth once more, leaving the explosion of NachtWal behind.

But there's more after, as there always seems to be. He turns to find a hungry mass of flesh rising from the pool of darkness, and raises his hand to form a shield to absorb the most immediate threat from the expanding mass.

<MACHTIGER SHILD.> Flesh crashes against a wall of Belkan sigils, pressing and forcing, held long enough for Endo to evacuate before the crushing mass smashes through the hastily erected barrier.

Endo retreats backward, leaping away. He chooses to focus on the mass closest to the civilians, hefting his blade once more. He spots Steven and others making their stand, and he moves to join them.

Fallen Stern cleaves into the mass of NachtWal, attempting to sheer off chunks, to slow it's growth and give the remaining combatants time to finish the job.

COMBAT: Endo Naoki has used Blauverschiebung on NachtWal.
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

The Magic Knight of Wind actually allows herself to breathe again as NachtWal is petrified and pulverized; that looked very much like it was all the defense-program-turned-eldritch-machine-horror would be able to take ... except for one tiny little detail.

Namely, *that's not the end of it*.

And it's a good thing she breathed while she could, because she may not have another chance for a while - especially with the NEXT form being the worst yet. Machines, even alien ones, make *sense* of some kind. This new form? No such luck; trying to figure out how its anatomy might possibly be arranged immediately makes the Wind Knight's head start hurting. The actual appearance turns her stomach, particularly with the devouring tentacles - and, well, devouring EVERYTHING - plunging forward. In every direction ... including those of the bystanders who still haven't been able to get far enough away.

A barrier of wind and a stubbornly interposed sword blunt the onrushing wave of 'devour everything,' but the Wind Knight still gets pushed back - and over, and at one point *through*, various intervening rubble. "At what point," she calls out in a tone that's half gasp, half snarl, "will you have *ENOUGH*?!"

A twirling step, a flash of sharp metal, and she cuts something which makes the devouring tide relent a little bit - enough to take stock of the situation and try to come up with a better plan. 'Try' is kind of the key word, though; there's nothing about this form which makes *sense*, try as she might. And if she did manage, somehow, to comprehend it ... it would probably break her psyche in the process, or at least that's what she fears right now.

Still, she's not alone; Amethyst lands close enough for her to glimpse the Crystal Gem, and to overhear part of what she says. And another voice drifts to her on the wind - Kuu's voice, not crying out in fear or terror (either of which would be entirely justified), but in confidence and support.

It's both sobering and reassuring, really. By all rights, Fuu's own fear - tempered by the knowledge that she's survived dreadful battles against terrifying foes before, and that she has the strength and magic to keep fighting - should be a fitful spark next to Kuu's, pure civilian that she is with no power to call her own ...

But that's not true either, is it? Kuu has the power of her love for her younger sister, just as their parents have the power of *their* love for their daughters, and for each other ... and Fuu, Wind Knight or not, loves her family just as much as they love her. That love is why she promised to always come home.

That promise is why she has to make sure she has a home to return to - and why she won't let any of her allies fall if she can help it.

There's a certain calm and efficiency as the Wind Knight resumes slicing at the devouring mass. She's not pressing her attack, exactly; she's conserving her energy, holding her ground, refusing to retreat further. Biding her time, gathering her strength, preparing to turn back the tide once more.

For that most precious of all the treasures she holds dear: her family.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used For My Family on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji accepts Fuu Hououji's For My Family, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
COMBAT: NachtWal cleanly braces 17 Fatigue damage from Lancelot's Heaven's Wrath, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  Blind, Stagger, and
Stun applied to NachtWal!
COMBAT: NachtWal fails to brace Endo Naoki's Blauverschiebung, taking 34 Fatigue damage!  Endo Naoki is Psyched!
<Pose Tracker> Nanoha Takamachi [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Starlight Breaker - Nanoha OST - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sa816Y8c2iw

All the magical girls and boys give it all they got and for all of their efforts... it works. NachtWal falls like a house of cards on fire and what's left in the aftermath is little but stone and broken machinery. The heat dissipates from the area and Nanoha finds it just a little easier to breathe as everyone has a moment to relax. She knows, from what Hayate said though, that it is not over yet. Each form has been worse than the last and she braces herself for what could be coming for them next.

The answer, it turns out, doesn't take long to manifest as the portal swallows the pieces with a sickening sound and then something begins to emerge. It's lack of organization as a whole makes it more terrifying in some ways than the forms that came before. The quickly expanding mass of a monster makes its hard for Nanoha to really take it all in. What she does know right now is that they don't have much time.

This thought is compounded by the fact that it's taking over the area quickly, meaning that Kasagami's uncle, Arisa and Suzuka and all the others are in more danger than they have been with it's previous forms. Nanoha looks to where they are and then back at Hayate and Fate. "Guys, we have to move quickly! It's going to swallow this entire area if we don't act!" There is a definite sense of urgency in her voice as the horrible mass continues getting bigger and bigger.

Nanoha flies up above the mass, looking for what she thinks could be a point of weakness and she zeros in on the direct center. "I got it! Raising Heart, one more time please! We have made it this far!" <Alright Master!> The white mage lands on a platform of glowing pink, bracing herself. <Load Cartridge!> A click of the weapon as it expels steam and prepares for another attack. "With everything you have, Raising Heart! For our friends and for our families!"

Nanoha looks to Fate and Hayate, "Starlight ..." She pauses as her weapon begins to fire up, drawing all the spent energy from the battlefield and more into its very core. Nanoha holds tightly with both hands, putting all of her strength into keeping her balance as she calls out the final word, "Breakeeeeeer!!!"

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

Hayate's magic is unlike anything she's ever seen before. The Knights are melee powerhouses - but their Master has a certain uniqueness that even has Fate marvelling from how she wields the Lost Logia. Her spears petrify, the thing lurches under the increase in weight. And then it shatters.

She knows better than to cheer in triumph though. Even in those quiet seconds, she waits with bated breath - staring at this portal. The only sound from her that of her rhythm of inhalation and exhalation.

It's back in a second - an expanded structure of seething mass, and Fate cries out - before she flies up - and up - and up - and up.

Even with all the speed she's known for, it's not enough. The explosion of flesh mass catches her, flicking her so casually into the air like a tiny bug caught by a rising giant.

Fate Testarossa vanishes from sight. And yet she won't be long... after all. Nanoha is calling. Arisa and Suzuka are counting on them. And she made a promise to explain everything later.


Even as Nanoha starts gathering her energy for the titanic spell - she arrives. Taking her place in formation right alongside Hayate and Nanoha. She is one of three twinkling arrays in the night that shine like stars.

BGM Change: Invisible Heat - Nana Mizuki - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f97hUsHu59Q

She feels a solidarity with Hayate and Nanoha - such that they called out to each other in these moments. Both girls her age. The first possessing a sad destiny that even though it is different from her own - like her it has been changed so that she can forge her own. The second - a girl her age who fought with all her heart to help her change hers.

She grips Bardiche with both hands to keep him steady as violet lightning plays across the length of the blade. Bardiche pounds in one cartridge - two - three - more steadily. Soon it will be a whole clip.

Precia Testarossa tried to deny her personhood. Yet the sheer quantity of violet sparking through the night is more than enough evidence.

She may not ever be her daughter - but she is a Testarossa. She's Alicia Testarossa's little sister, and she claims that legacy for her own.

"Maximum Power." <Sir...>

It sounds like a coming warning perhaps. Anything that's not a simple affirmative from Bardiche does. And yet what comes next...

<I'm proud of you.>

Why would he say such a thing now? Well it's simple. Alicia said it best. When it came down to it - Fate chose her place in the world for one reason: Love.

Love that she can now accept and give to others without hesitation. Love that has caused her to fight with all her heart tonight.

It causes her to smile even as she sounds it out, "Plasma Zanber..." The lightning showers her incessantly - making her a violet silhouette. Crackling - bright - brilliant.

And right where she belongs.

Fate Testarossa shouts in clarion in unison with the other two, "-BREAKKKKKERRRRRRRRR!" Cutting him down abruptly, he brings forth an apocalypse all of his own the violet transforming into one devastating burst of yellow.

A barrage of heavenly lightning that showers below - descending on high that could dwarf even most natural disasters in its concentrated destructive power upon a breaker of worlds. A living genocide.

And it is simply one of the three part trifecta of destruction.

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

Miroku carves up, as if to meet Miroku - as if it were all an illusion caused by a tear in the television, warped size and all. Around them, the storm rages, thunder booming with the horrific force of time's typhoon. Lightning sparks off of the furious gale, arcs up the gigantic obsidian blade.

Everything, Hayate said.

This is everything Mikoto Minagi is permitted to give.

The massive blade explodes into searing white light. It is one horrific attack amongst many.

Her seat turns to stone, and she wrests the smaller - the smaller! - blade called Miroku from it. The motion only helps the crumbling which NachtWal has set to.

She falls.

The shard of ring which she falls with is large, for its kind, and it was at the very apex. It lands in an arch, and Mikoto has enough time to rise from her knees where she had lost her footing amongst the chaos. A hand on Miroku's hilt; she uses it to support her upwards again, utterly self-sufficient.

In this moment, once more - she is alone.

And then the portal accepts what was once flesh and makes organic matter of it again. There is no other word for it, nothing as complex as a monster. It is all parts, connective tissue and pieces of what might have been a creature, once.

Her foothold sinks. It is being consumed.

The flesh crawls up. It is being consumed.

Mikoto backs away, Miroku flashing as she stands in plow-stance to carve at every tentacle, every pulsating mass which comes at her. Nothing touches her, as she fights against it - she is a storm of blade and fury.

Nothing touches her, and she is sinking down.

And she is alone.

Until she isn't.

Mikoto's lips curl in a snarl, a wordless aggressive signal of I don't have time for this, as Lera comes to her side. She does not expect help, from an enemy. She does not expect the way Lera cleaves through a pound of flesh which rears up like a tidal wave to crash down upon her. It's only as that attack helps her that those terrible golden eyes glance, however momentarily, to Lera.

"Everything," she repeats, again, and it is Hayate's word but the context is all different, now. It's an echo of Lera's, now. It's a different message entirely, now.

There is no time to dwell on it.

They are being consumed.

She does not respond to Passion's plea, verbally. Actions speak louder than words as she leaps - but not away from them. Mikoto follows Lera's lead. The pistons, mechanical and churning, are precarious and ill-suited footholds - but cats are nothing if not pinnacles of balance, and so it seems is Mikoto.

From one, to another, to another, each a moving platform. They must be quick. They are quick.

Quick enough to see where it is headed.

Mikoto looks ahead, and those keen eyes spy Chie and Aoi, embraced in fear as they face down something from their very nightmares.

"NO!" She screams her denial, as she leaps one final time, Miroku's sigils blaring as she means to cleave the mass from its path. This, perhaps, is not the behemoth-shattering force of HiME magic, but Mikoto's power is overwhelming even at her own size. Is it strange, that she would defend these civilians so fiercely, so completely, when she condemns so many others..?

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has joined the combo started by Lera Camry!
<Pose Tracker> Signum [None] has posed.

Signum has been focused on battle, and is not, constitutionally, inclined to stop and take in cosmic horrors. Present her with a problem and she will seek to solve it. There are some problems that cannot be solved - in the words of an ancient Belkan magus, 'impossible does not mean very difficult; very difficult is to be the premier sage of your era, and impossible is to eat the sun.'

NachtWal, though... as her stroke finishes, as superheated vapor condenses around her from the miniscule vaporized metal points from her partner, she is able to take the thing in. It's breaking up but it's birthing more outwards. Expanding like a destructing machine. Wrecked. Useless. Cancerous. But it's expanding, isn't it?

"I see," Signum breathes. "Unchecked, such expansion would engulf the surface of a world... perhaps even the upper layers of a planetary crust. What a horrid spell!"

Power falls onto the creature. She can see that Nanoha is preparing 'that' spell. Horrendous, she thinks.

"I must ask much of you, old friend," Signum murmurs.

Laevatein, still hissing as the moisture coming off of all of that live and expanding meat vaporizes, replies - slightly burrier, but still well game - <<ACKNOWLEDGED.>>

Raising the weapon up high, Signum declaims: "Schlangeform!" And Laevatein goes all to pieces. Extending outwards, pouring down as gravity grips the Armed Device, stretching out - until the chain blades shoot outwards, looping round, forming great and languid shapes. They seem to do little until the tension rises and they bite inwards - grip into expansion, channel it, hold it tight. The expansion can be changed. Funnelled into strange eruptions, almost fungous, as Signum aims almost to guide them together - does she hope to drive the thing into space? To slay part of it in the luminous vacuum?


<Vita,> Signum tells her.

<Pressure it.>

"You have taken many masters from us, O NachtWal," Signum says: "The count is halted tonight...!!"

COMBAT: Signum has started a combo targeting NachtWal!
COMBAT: FINISHER! Fate Testarossa has started a combo targeting NachtWal!
COMBAT: COMBO! Lera Camry, Cure Passion, and Mikoto Minagi have used Regenschauer, Passion Flash, and Obsidian Blade: Destruction
on NachtWal.
COMBAT: FINISHER! Nanoha Takamachi has joined the combo started by Fate Testarossa!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Pluto [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

The Knight nearby gives his thanks and she returns a level, solemn look, then a nod not unlike the one she gave Mikoto. A soldier to a fellow combatant.

Lightning-empowered and Miroku-studded, the Chronos Typhoon spends itself against the awful bulk of the NachtWal emergent. The senshi who sent it forth watches, leaning perhaps a touch on the Garnet Rod. She can feel the drain of spent magic deep in her marrow, but... it seems to have been enough?

The efforts of all present combine, all glorious exhibitions of love and determination and defiance, skill and power and martial fury altogether beating the terrible beast down and to pieces and apart.

It falls back into the portal.

No... the portal gulps the corpse of the NachtWal down, and in that and the following moments Sailor Pluto falls back a handful of horrified steps, the haft of her weapon bouncing across the uneven and broken ground.

Then she turns sideways and starts jogging backward, and then she spins fully and runs as the NachtWal's awful bulk just keeps emerging and emerging and emerging, sloshing and bulging out of the portal, a protean grotesquerie of parts and pistons. A flying piece of the thing clips Pluto's shoulder and she bends with the blow, converting a tumble to a fluid roll that ends with in a crouch with planted foot, knee, and fist.

A roll of her shoulder tells her it's whole, though the joint grinds nastily in protest. The senshi straightens and glares back at the NachtWal, trying not to look directly at the woman-shape screaming within it. It's not over. Well, then; Sailor Pluto is not done, either. She lifts the Rod.

'Sailor Pluto! Kasagami! The civilians!!!'

She knows that boy's voice, and what he's shouting -- Sailor Pluto snaps about once more, rotating on one heel. Etsuko. Saito Araki. Small Lady... The expanding mass of NachtWal's latest form, seemingly unleashed, threatens them all. "Steven Universe!" she cries back. "I'm on my way!"

When Sailor Pluto pours on the speed, she is not quite the wind -- though the feel of it in her face reminds her of a woman who is. She comes close, close enough to make it to the side of the boy with the big pink shield. The senshi slides into place with World Tree ash and detritus pluming in her wake, aimed for a gentle shoulder-to-shoulder collision with a certain swordswoman.

"Fancy meeting you here, my love. Shall we keep them safe together, you and Steven and I?" No smiles, not with the NachtWal looming, but there is always the flame of adoration in her eyes when she looks upon Kasagami Araki. "If there is a world left after all this is over, I should like nothing more than to hear all about your uncle."

The Rod begins to dance once more, and in a split second goes from slow spin to a whirring rotational barrier. Sailor Pluto turns outward, taking up a supportive stance behind Steven Universe and his beautiful shield. She knows her back is safe with Kasagami at it.

"Nothing will get through us!" she cries, a rally for the vulnerable behind them, with such volume that her voice may add force to her repelling efforts. She digs in hard, this eternal sentinel, and

holds. the. line. against the coming horrors. If it would devour Small Lady and the rest, it must breach their joined defenses first.

COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has joined the combo started by Steven Universe!
<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

The sound of Sourisi's feet crashing against and through a piston is not unlike a car wreck, that is one of the cars completely atomizes the other with the passage. The force of her impact against the rest of the metal is used to help bounce her away, not wanting to stay around that combustion engine more than needed. Kasagami's kick silences another and then the Wind Knight's Cyclone completely wrecks two of those pistons, causing massive strain to start building up. "I never was much of a mechanic anyways."

The other assault by the magical girls are just as deadly and disruptive as their own, and Sourisi lets out a sigh of relief as she lands back on safe ground. The chaotic being known as NachtWal seems to be falling apart and fading away into the darkness goop, after all. "Ooh good. Please tell me that's it!" It has been taking quite the beating from all of them, and bereft of Reinforce, it should be weaker than it's previous reincarnations, right?

The last of the stone falls into the gloop, and all was silence for a moment...before a mass of flesh, very much like the proto-daimons, erupts from the portal. It was horrifying to see it in a complete disharmony of the natural shape of what a body should be and yet still trying so hard to kill them all. What appeared to be the core of the creature, the 'woman' roars with a scream capable of waking the dead and ensuring they stay put in their coffins.

It's completely impossible to predict where just where those tendrils of flesh and ichor will move, and the Miraculous Ninja barely manages to leap aside from one that has the ground shaking under her feet. The attempt to evade sends her tumbling over some jagged rocks, incidentally striking flesh already burned by the dripping darkness and causing her to wince in pain. The pain isn't enough for her to miss Fuu's snarl or to see Amethyst, nor is it enough to see that the flesh wasn't lashing out just for them.

From the distance where she's at, Sourisi spots two girls that have gotten closer in attempts to see exactly what was going on, and now they were in danger of becoming a meal for the thing! "Aah! Breeze-san, i'm going to protect the civilians!" Urging herself forward, the mouse girl dashes forward, praying that she could make it in time.

An eyeball-topped mass of flesh slams into the earth nearby and slides straight for the two girls, though it's approach is met with the sliding Sourisi, her tonfa jabbing outwards quickly enough to send ash and small rocks flying from the wind they were creating. She could only hope that her tonfa are enough to stop this wall of flesh, for her heart was sinking in her chest.

For she recognizes Yuhira and Wakatsuki, clinging to each other in fear.

COMBAT: Sourisi has used Mouse Flurry on NachtWal.
<Pose Tracker> Hayate Yagami [None] has posed.

Again Hayate raises Schwertcruz -- again a Belkan spell triangle draws itself out underneath her and begins to slowly rotate.

But there's no 'again' about the scale involved.

Something is very different this time.

The triangle alone... it's enormous. Laughably large, except in the company of Nanoha Takamachi and Fate Testarossa, which contextualize the arcane inscriptions of whatever power Hayate's invoking from the Tome to a somewhat more mentally managable 'roughly one-third of the sky'. There are complex spell-circles at each of the corners, each containing what would be, in a lesser incantation, their own master rune -- and they send still more runes into the center, forming a truly massive Belkan cross there, where the lines merge.

Hayate herself is hardly visible floating above it. It is easier to place her by looking at Schwertcruz; the staff's cross is, instead of expelling light, this time seeming to take it in, even as it flows around her in ever-greater quantities. Individual motes hum around her, the pitch rising as they enter the staff, while corresponding energy begins to crackle at each of the master triangle's three corners.

It is not entirely white. There is darkness in this spell, too, the sort of unbridled destructive force that labeled the Tome cursed in the first place. The sort of power that an ambitious and foolish mage might try to protect with something that turned out to be NachtWal.

The person wielding it now is unrecognizable in the context of magicians seeking ultimate might. The little girl peers down through the thickly cast tapestry of power and is just barely able to make out the twisted form of whatever part of NachtWal reflected Reinforce. It's still writhing and roaring. Its pain is painful to behold.

This is a mercy, but it doesn't feel like one. Executions never do.

"I'm sorry..." Hayate whispers, heard by no one but herself -- and her partner. "...rest in peace..."

Nanoha and Fate's incantations are beginning, and swallowing a lump of misery in her throat, she begins her own. Whatever difficulties she's having with the idea of casting a spell like this, she thrusts them firmly downwards, and the voice that rings out and downwards is -- rather than confident, absolutely committed.

She does not close her eyes to what must be done.


Schwertcruz finishes charging, and Hayate thrusts the staff downward, into the spell.


She's never cast a spell with Nanoha and Fate before, but she knows their style deeply, profoundly, nevertheless, thanks to the past. For once, it can be wielded in the service of the future. And so it is that her unison with them is effortlessly clean.


The three orbs of power on the points of the triangle explode downwards, twisting together. Their darkness is no illusion, but it comes into the brightness of it only where the eye can no longer bear to see the full truth of the moment and lingers in the shadows instead for respite.

And a moment later -- as though that were only the appetizer -- the central cross sends the true bulk of the energy load straight down the middle, in an immense, crushing column of raw magic.

Hayate herself, the source of Ragnarok, the point of greatest will and also greatest strain within the spell -- is impossible to make out, above and behind it all. To destroy consumption, she herself is consumed.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Hayate Yagami has joined the combo started by Fate Testarossa!
COMBAT: COMBO! FINISHER! Fate Testarossa, Nanoha Takamachi, and Hayate Yagami have used Combo: Triple Breaker!, composed of Plasma
Zanber Breaker, Starlight Breaker EX, and Ragnarok, on NachtWal.
COMBAT: NachtWal fails to brace Sourisi's Mouse Flurry, taking 21 Fatigue damage!  Sourisi is Psyched!
COMBAT: NachtWal fails to brace Lera Camry, Cure Passion, and Mikoto Minagi's Combo: Regenschauer, taking 209 Fatigue damage!
Critical Hit!
COMBAT: Lera Camry is unable to keep fighting!
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Pistons shatter, but the Darkness from within the Book still lives. Hayate wields her Book with aplumb that has the Duelist growing more impressed and curious by the minute about the young woman. This is nothing like the Queen in that dream. Hayate Yagami is someone to watch for!

Kasagami lets out a breath as she lands from the combined assault, and nods to her partners. Fuu and Sourisi earn the Duelist's laugh, a sound of comradeship and pride all at once. At least the beast won't ascend!

Yet this horror continues, and that fleshy strike lashes out at the vulnerable, the precious. Steven acts swiftly, and Kasagami leaps to join him. Her heart pounds in her chest with utter terror as the life of her Uncle hangs in the balance. The powerful, protective shield of Steven's is a bulwark against the assault laid before them, and the presence of her love only hastens Kassie to her task. She won't lose here. She won't see these people hurt, if she can help it. She will not bury yet another family member stolen by the hand of a monster intent on killing and devour!

A few stray lashes of that fleshy mess slices into Kasagami's clothes, the sheath of her sword, yet she doesn't yield. A flash of steel, and she's free.

Shoulders bump, and despite the situation, her fear for Etsuko and SAito, she laughs.

"How could I do anything but, my beloved star set to arc more gracefully than the Almighty above!? Steve-kun! Truly your shield is fit to defend royalty and common person alike! If it's that shield, with my love at my side..."

Slowly, almost acheingly so, her sword slides back into it's sheath. Her hand falls upon it's hilt, and she takes a stance. Her good eye narrows, and her focus is upon the onrushing tide of flesh seeking to snuff out the lives of so many good people.

"'Hear about'? Don't be ridiculous, Puru-chan! You'll get it from the monotoned jerk's mouth yourself. Because we will not falter before this monster that seeks to claim the lives of those we care for! Steve-kun! Pluto-chan! NOT ONE STEP BACK!"

A hand grabs her blade, she twists her body back so much that her hips scream with the strain, and then one long, powerful leg slides forward. A back foot propels her forward but a step.

And then her sword flashes from it's sheath, for a brief moment reality itself seeming to refract like a mirror of stained glass pointed in on itself. What should be but one line, is several as Kasagami offers a single perfect swipe that becomes two at their adversary, one up, one down in a motion that defies logic.

The Would-Be King sheds a tear, so many magical girls thundering in her ears, beside her trusted souls that only make her momentary steel reflection that much more vibrant.

"We won't lose anyone!"

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has joined the combo started by Steven Universe!
COMBAT: COMBO! Steven Universe, Sailor Pluto, and Kasagami Araki have used Combo: Phalanx of the Revolutionary Rose!, composed of
Repelling Shield, Pendulum Blitz, and Rose Flash, on NachtWal.
<Pose Tracker> Vita [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Variable Formation - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxZ0KpnPEho

Vita is screaming her renewed fury at the Security Program of the Book of Darknes when she finally rips through. Her hammer rips tears that leg apart, and Hayate reveals more of the depth of her new magic. Thinking about it, maybe she should've known about NachtWal's treason long ago. She knows, in her heart, that the Master is incredibly powerful. By some meters, inconceivably so. And yet those petrifying missiles still strike her with some measure of awe.

As does the horror as NachtWal lurches back up to terrible life. Like Signum, in her way she is not entirely dumbstruck by the nightmare horror of all this. It is a barrier between her and what she desires; she knows what to do with barriers, no matter their form.

Nonetheless, she only barely escapes the prison of flesh. She screams as she races away from the EXPLOSION of grisly meat, blasting away from it as fast as she can. It overtakes her, briefly; wrapping the Knight of Iron up in grasping muscle. An explosion of red sees her tear her way free, but she's visibly winded when she comes up, huffing and puffing. She looks up.

And sees what the Master is preparing. Her tired eyes widen, and she manages to force out an amazed laugh before turning down to NachtWal, fingers tightening on Eisen's shaft. "Gigantform," she commands, and Eisen responds with a hollow chime. "NachtWal," she spits. "The Security Program...we knew you were rotten, but to see you like this..." Her teeth grit, furious. "You caused so much death. So much suffering. Our hands aren't clean either, but you! You took away everything! You made the Control Program..." She chuckles. The word sounds wrong now. "Reinforce, suffer so much. But we're not yours anymore!" She sucks in a breath as the words hit her own soul at the same time she says them, and she repeats them, roaring them to the world. "WE'RE NOT YOURS ANYMORE! WE'RE HERS! We are her Guardian Knights! We will always stand at the side of the Master of the Night Sky! And you..."

Eisen finishes transforming and she holds a hammer the size of a building like it were a toy.

"You have raised your hands against our Master! YOU KNOW BETTER THAN ANYONE THE PRICE FOR THAT!"

<Pressure it.> Signum says.

"Oh yeah," Vita hisses, and then screams, "PRESSURE I CAN DO!"

She whips the hammer around - it behaves impossibly, the shaft bending in ways matter that holds any kind of reliable shape simply can't, but it does, it twists like her own personal hammerhead snake, as she whirls that hammer down on what Signum has caught together, smashing it down like tenderizing meat. And then she whirls the hammer back up, snapping it down again and again.

Pounding NachtWal's exploding, oozing corpus, held captive in Signum's chain sword, into so much hamburger.

COMBAT: Vita has joined the combo started by Signum!
COMBAT: COMBO! Signum and Vita have used Knights of Iron and Fire on NachtWal.
COMBAT: NachtWal fails to brace Steven Universe, Sailor Pluto, and Kasagami Araki's Combo: Phalanx of the Revolutionary Rose!,
taking 110 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Steven Universe, Sailor Pluto, and Kasagami Araki are Psyched!  Diversion applied to
COMBAT: NachtWal fails to brace Signum and Vita's Combo: Knights of Iron and Fire, taking 114 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: NachtWal braces 441 Fatigue damage from Fate Testarossa, Nanoha Takamachi, and Hayate Yagami's Finisher, Combo: Triple
Breaker!, taking 294 Fatigue damage!  NachtWal is unable to keep fighting!
<Pose Tracker> NachtWal [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

'Hold the line' is an occasionally hackneyed phrase. It evokes images of uniformed officers; eras of very organized (or at least organized-looking) combat; of honor.

There is NOTHING honorable to be had facing the final push of NachtWal to fulfill its function and consume the entire planet. From end to end the experience is a horror show. Weapons and shields, fists and magicks, they cleave outwards and the flesh pushes inwards.

It is slowed by the group, once advancing yards at a heartbeat -- now an inch at a time.

There is STRAIN. Both sides push.

One side has the unfair advantage of being a cthonic horror apparently limitless in mass.

This cannot go on.

That does not make the fight futile.

Every second -- every moment bought dearly -- every time someone wonders if this is it -- is another heartbeat for the loved ones cowering behind them.

And then it doesn't.

Go on, that is.

The required time bought with the coin of courage from those below, Triple Breaker pours down from the sky and annihilates the corporeal form of NachtWal. Pink, yellow, white, black -- in the end, they're all the same spots dancing behind the eyelid.

The space left behind is almost shocking, afterwards. A moment of agoraphobia threatens, even though it's just the broken plaza, because of how completely opposite it is from what it was before.

<< Shamal, do it now! Get the core! >> comes Hayate's voice, before the light show is even over. And the Lady of the Lake was more than ready to respond; she makes a glowing green circle with her pendulum strings, one all-too-familiar to many present as the means with which she extracted their Linker Cores--

--reaches into the portal she's created, fingers splayed outwards and grasping, desperately, for the wholly black core of darkness pulsing angrily in the distance--

--no, in the darkness--

--the DEEP darkness--

--and her voice rings out, panicked. << It won't come! It's stuck! >>

Hayate looks down at where the blasted, severed, broken remnants of NachtWal vanished into the ground. "Oh dear," she says, thoughtful even when alarmed. "That's very bad... it has planted itself into the Earth. Like the egg of a parasite."

From the group of civilians emerges another one, who hadn't made herself known until now. She is familiar to most as the gray-haired, smiling grandmother who protects the World Tree and runs the Botanical Gardens.

There is sadness in her eyes as she surveys the too-empty square... but the hope within outweighs it.

"Where you plant a rose, my love... a thistle cannot grow."

Hayate looks over at her and gapes. Where others see Kaoruko Hanasaki, legendary retiree, the little girl sees Kaoruko Hanasaki, her friend from the library, the one who has recommended so many books to her over the last year.

"Frances Hodgson Burnett!" gasps Hayate, comprehension dawning immediately. "The Secret Garden! You mean..."

"Ye-es," Kaoruko agrees, gently. From her lab coat's pocket, she produces a tiny thing. It twinkles, golden, between her thumb and forefinger, with the very light lost from this world not long ago.

A seed of the World Tree.

Its twin remains with everyone she ever met -- ever took tea with -- ever explained the danger at hand.

This one, she folds into Hayate's hand, closing the child's fingers with a gentle pat.

"Give it back, children. Plant your seeds, together. And when you do... fill it with your truth... make sure it knows why you returned. Why you stand here now, instead of dreaming sweetly."

She looks around the group.

"You must give it the World."

OOC: If you never received a seed of the World Tree from Kaoruko, don't despair; groups can plant seeds together. If you aren't
sure if you received a seed, just ask!

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

Through incredible odds, and sheer determination, the combined efforts of everyone present push back an unspeakable horror. Destroy it not once, not twice, but three times bested with the power of friendship and love. Their hopes, their dreams, their happiness-- no force in comprehenshion can stand in the way of the heart.

Yet even evil cannot be fully uprooted. Not without great effort. And a miracle.

A familiar face comes forth from the crowd. Steven can't help but smile toward her. She says something that sparks light in his eyes. He reaches into a pocket-- Daintly folded up in a pink velvet hankercheif, is a golden seed. "I... I will, gladly," he says, holding as the most delicate finery.

He looks between everyone, and his eyes fall on Amethyst longer than everyone, who he nods toward where it needs to be planted. To grow anew. And he looks to it.

And Steven weeps.

BGM Change Undertale - Falling Down (Orchestral) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5umvr0Bv_WM

"I am always, always with you,"

"...And you're going to do so many extraordinary things - and I'll love every second of them."

"I..." The boy chokes, and looks to Amethyst for strength. "I came back because I knew my dream could never be real. It is impossible. But... So many people have dreams besides me. All my friends! All my family! Little seed... I came back to make sure I could be there for them."

"So they would never be without someone."

"I believe in you too, little seed. Grow big and strong for all of us! And maybe one day in the future, Good people will come, and they will need help, too."

"And I hope you will help them too."

He wipes his eyes and gives Amethyst a chance to say something, before they plant it. Together.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lf2H8NBEUeY

Mikoto turns to Lera and snarls. The Midchildan's eyes go wide, and then she hesitates -- but Soaring Sky rends through some of that flesh. She falls into lockstep with her and Passion then. Blade and fist rip and tear. They hold; for a second, for a moment, for as long as they need to. Lera chops her blade down; Soaring Sky flashes, a fiery blast igniting off the blade, and it shoots a fang of energy through their ranks.

There is, however, a flash of orange-gold light from around Lera, then. Her Barrier Jacket vanishes -- in a blink, it is gone, leaving her wearing the dirtied, half-blackened uniform of Infinity Institute that she wore on the day that everything started to fall apart.

She stumbles back, and Soaring Sky -- still in the form of a sword -- feels so heavy. Her eyes widen, but a nudge from Mikoto keeps one of those terrible, fleshy tendrils from slamming down into her. She stumbles--

And then pink, yellow, and midnight brilliance obliterates it. Lera looks up, to see the Triple Breaker burn down through the remaining flesh of NachtWal and banish it. Her mouth hangs open, before she lets out a cheer, pumping her fist up into the air. The cheer dies, however, at Shamal's words. Her eyes widen, as she steps back -- and she looks towards Hayate, then to Kaoruko. She watches the little seed, pushed down into Hayate's hand.

She glances back at Mikoto and Passion both. She looks between them, but it is her Cure that she settles on, in the end. "...I need to check on them, y'know? I know... I know you'll do great, Passion."

She smiles. She turns, and then she is off, running towards Hayate, Nanoha, and Fate. At first, her footsteps are sluggish; she stumbles, at first, and almost trips over a piece of rock. She pushes herself up, with her hand, and starts sprinting. "Endo! Nanoha! Hayate! Fate!" the Midchildan calls out. "Fate!"

<Pose Tracker> Amethyst [None] has posed.

Amethyst cheers on the magical girls and boys as they finally bring forth a miracle to defeat the... thing. She realizes now that her rage helped nobody. It was everyone's love and hope that was the real power.

And now it was time to plant that love back into the Earth. Amethyst approaches Steven. "Nothing is perfect. There will always be pain. I miss your mom, Steven, but you are worth it. This world is worth it. So many friends. Everyone on this planet is my family. I'm only going to say this once, and then you'll all pretend I never said it, okay? I... I love you all. There. Mushy stuff over. Time to plant this seed and give back to the world that gave us everything. Thank you, Earth. Thank you, seed. Thank you, Steven. Thank you, everyone."

Amethyst and Steven, together, for everyone. The Crystal Gem Shorty Squad plant the seed and help everyone give the Earth renewed hope.

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

It is slowed - and then it is... not stopped - but halted. It's mass annihilated. Leaving behind a space. Fate cannot even breathe in these moments as she watches Shamal's attempt to grab the core of the horror. And then - she gasps when Shamal notes its stuck.

Hayate says it's very bad, and Fate looks at a loss. Hayate was the girl with the plan. She'd followed her from the start. "So what do we do?" She asks her immediately. But then from the civilians - comes a familiar face.


She does not recognize the quote - but she seems glad that Hayate does. And - "Oh!" As she understands. And as Lera calls her name, Endo also calls in relief, "Lera! Would - you mind coming here too? I think we should... all say something..."

Bardiche his work done vents steam from the hilt, his blade fading - as he folds back into an poleaxe. Fate's cape disappearing. Bardiche pronounces - <Put Out.>

Something so magical - so precious. There was only one proper place for her to keep it.

It materializes within her hand.

She naturally gravitates towards the people who are precious towards her. It feels only fitting.

Snow Rain - Piano - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rzKZ6cxqf8

"Um." She sounds a little shy at first, holding out her hand so that others can put it over hers. "I wasn't born here. And I wasn't born the same way as everyone else. For a long time I thought that meant I was worth less than everyone - that the only purpose I had - the only thing good about me was fighting for people who were real. Who deserved so much more than me."

There's a small exhalation of breath, as she closes her eyes, "I was wrong. The World Tree - so many fought to preserve it or misuse it - but... now that it's gone I just want to thank it. Because I think... it played a role in giving me something really precious."

There's this light smile on her expression, "It helped give me time with my big sister. I wish... I'd had more than that - but..." Something in her voice breaks, "... it was still wonderful. And that time with her taught me that I was worth enough - for her to come back for me. And that if I was worth that much... then maybe it's okay for me to accept the good things in my life."

She looks to Nanoha, Lera, Endo, Setsuna and Steven - "It helped me find old friends - friends who have been trying to teach me this all along, even if I was... a little stubborn..."

Her eyes then float over to Hayate, Signum, Vita, Shamal, and Zafira. "... and to make new ones too."

Her eyes slowly lid, perhaps covering for the happy sparkles of water in her eyes, her tone fraught with emotion, "So um. Little seed. If you're going to be a part of this world - then I'd be glad to be a part of this world too. Because now I know one thing..."

Something seems to wrack her chest even as she sniffles in a desperate attempt to keep herself from crying, "... I know I'm right where I belong. And that there's nowhere else I'd rather be... than here... with all of you."

<Pose Tracker> Nanoha Takamachi [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

Every single blow against the monstrosity that has been terrorizing them brings them closer to certain victory. Nanoha can feel the hope growing inside of her, even as they continue to beat NachtWal down. Combining with Hayate and Fate, her power feels stronger than ever and when the air finally clears and there is nothing left, Nanoha is filled with so many thoughts.

Before she can have time to reflect on those thoughts at all though she looks to Shamal, frowning a little at the appearance of the familiar green circle. Even done for different purposes, it brings back horrible memories. Hearing the tone of panic, Nanoha's eyes widen a little. "What's hap-" And then Hayate explains further. "So it's stuck in there? Is there anything we can do?"

Nanoha's question is answered in the form of the small, familiar lady from the Gardens and what comes after. As soon as the words are spoken, she knows what they have to do and she has her own seed to plant. But she is not going to do this alone and Nanoha gathers with her closest friends. Those who have stood by her through everything and even her once enemies who are now friends in this.

Looking around her small circle, Nanoha's heart fills with so much happiness that would be very hard to explain right now in light of what they just went through. As she looks down at the seed in her hand, a small tear lands on it and then quickly she is overcome. She doesn't speak for a long time but when she finally does, she speaks directly at the seed at first.

"Everything I ever doubted about myself, everything I ever thought was a fault that I couldn't get past... none of it means anything because..." Nanoha looks at the others gathered in their circle in turn, finally settling on Fate, "...I have the most important people in my life right now. The people who believed in me no matter what." She looks at the Knights, "Even though we had rough times, I believe that now we understand each other a lot better. We know the heart of each other and we all want what's best for those that we love and care for."

Nanoha kneels to plant the tiny seed in the ground and then she reaches out a hand towards Fate, "Thank you for everything you have done Feito-chan. I couldn't imagine my life without you by my side. Together we will make a difference." Through tears that cause her shoulders to heave, she hugs her friend before standing up, allowing the others to speak.

<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Plant the Seed.

Takeo, reached into the pouch and pulled out the tiny seed and looked at it. He looked around at the desolation, at the people he fought beside and then looked back to the seed. He took a deep breath and studied the thing. Small, but beatiful, and represented change. Change from a small thing, an idea or a person, into something great and wonderful and beautiful.

He takes a deep breath and lets it out. Change.

He steps next to Steven looking at his seed. "I failed." He says softly. "I failed to save Mika, I failed that girl who died at Tokyo Tower when I was injured. I failed to fight Miyu Greer when Ohtorri was attacked, and I mean, really, who could stad up to her?" He clears his throat. Not the point.

"I failed, and in that place .... I was never the Knight Reborn. Never afraid of metal on metal sounds in the hallway. Never afraid to sleep because I'd see all the battles my former self had fought in. And I never failed. So Mika was okay. My family was .... Okay." He wipes a tear. "Also, Cake night was never interupted, and I know that doesn't SOUND like a big deal in the long run, but believe me, if you understood ... " He takes a deep breath.

After a long pause he speaks again. "I came because ... " He pauses again. "Because .... Because I love you all. Because I want to be you all. Not the scared boy who can't sleep because of nightmares, or who doesn't know what to do. But the Hero. Not just the boy who failed." he nods. "But I can't ... I can't fix that if I had stayed there. Here, Mika is hurt and dying, and I don't know if I can help her. It took ... It took some people to help me see that I can't let that stand. I have to come back because people need me. Me." He half hearted chuckles. "So. I came back, and I'll ... I'll be better. And maybe I'll see Mika smile as we play a video game while Mama-sama yells at us to go to bed." He looks to the little seed. And says no more, just simply cherishing that thought and letting it fill him.

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

Maybe it's best, for this struggle not to be honorable, or pleasant, or poetic. For Cure Passion, at least, those heartbeats do not distract from the gravity of this situation; each attempted strike, each touch against horrible flesh, make her wonder. ...And she buys all that she can. Those below, those behind, they need it, they cannot be sacrificed.

It's welcome, whether strange or not, that Mikoto joins them, follows so fiercely and defends so ferociously. ...What's surprising is when Lera gives so much that she starts to fall, and she's caught--what's surprising is the sheer power of the Triple Breaker, how brilliant and bright it is and was, and how open it all is after. Passion for one knows landscapes that stretch on and on and she looks on in shock for an instant--

The core. Passion can't help, but she sees Shamal, hears her--

"A--a parasite?' she starts, and then blinks, as Hanasaki approaches. "You're..."

She has no idea who Burnett is, what the Secret Garden is, but she is willing to take it as truth that that's how flowers work when this woman says it. She tilts her head in curiousity, though. ...She listens, to the explanation, thinks of her reasons, thinks... of the World.

"...Why we returned," she murmurs.

Cure Passion looks to Lera and nods. "Go to them. ...I'll be behind you." She shows a seed that's in her hand, too, and smiles. Then, she turns to look at Mikoto. "...Thank you," she says to her, seriously, closing her hands and bowing deeply. "You just saved someone very important to me, when it went beyond fighting our common foe. I saw."

She looks down, in thought, and then reaches out. She reaches out her hand towards Mikoto, opening it as if for her to take; the one opposite the seed. She reaches out to this enemy, to this not-yet-friend. "...I'm still learning about this world. What it means to live here... I don't know yet. But--"

"I know... that I came back because it's important to me. I can't hide away from reality. I came here... with no family. With nothing, except for my mission. But I was able to find more because others gave to me."

"I want to give back. I want to fight for this world with strange food and words I can't understand and wonderful, imperfect people who don't have to be efficient at all."

She looks towards the sky, then. "...But I wish I could show someone this. I have a family now... but there are those who..." She can't say it, but she thinks of the fakes, of the reality; of her old partners, who she would never have called that.

"...That world let me feel something I always wanted. But what I wanted can't compare to the amazing things I don't even know to want yet."

"...You didn't ask any of that. But that girl helped me find who I was. Who I am. And she's part of why I wanted to come back to this world. So thank you. I know you don't get along. ...So thank you. I wanted... I wanted to try to tell you."

All those words at once are difficult for the reserved Cure Passion, and it shows, the effort of speaking and explaining her feelings a subtle shift in her otherwise hard-to-read expressions. She feels something deeply... But what? For now, she opens her other hand to look down at the seed again, and then up to Mikoto. "...Will you plant this with me? For those we both want to return to. For those we still worry about. ...Who we'll fight for."

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"Hanasaki-sensei ..." The Magic Knight of Wind gazes at the grandmotherly botanist, and at the seed she gives to Hayate. The Wind Knight's hands - now empty of either sword or bow - go to her breastplate ... and come away with one of those gently glowing seeds, one that has been through *so much* since Fuu first received it in the actual secret garden, the World Tree's grotto beneath Jindai. Carried into battle, fought over, stolen, wrested back, used to save one control point, that light sacrificed to protect another, the ensuing darkness released to reclaim light ... the pendant-seed has been through many adventures, and every moment of them comes back to Fuu's memories in a tidal wave - overpowering, not in a destructive manner, but one that nurtures and supports.

For a moment, Fuu's eyes close behind her glasses. She had so many doubts about her ability to be a magical girl when she first received this seed; weighted down by her own failures, even stripped of her magic by her inability to believe in herself ... but she regained her magic as well, the Knight of Wind reborn out of a moment of crisis.

Fuu re-opens her eyes, taking a deep breath, and starts making her way towards the spot where the World Tree stood before its destruction. One step at a time, picking her way carefully, as if dreading the risk of dropping the seed she bears. But those steps begin coming more smoothly, more quickly; she doesn't run, doesn't even jog, but walks with purpose and growing confidence. Her path takes her near Sourisi, near Kasagami and Pluto, and she looks on each of them in turn, inclining her head to them - in acknowledgement, in invitation, in gratitude, in friendship. "This is something none of us can do alone," she says to them. "The World is too much for any one person to give. Please, help me - help us - give the World to these little seeds."

'I am a part of all that I have met,' as one Western poet wrote, in the voice of a classical hero. How true that statement is as well for magical girls: be they friends, rivals, partners, or bitter foes, there is no question but that they are bound together, a mysterious tapestry which enfolds them all in its myriad unseen threads.

Not directed by conscious thought, but trusting in her heart, Fuu makes her way to a spot where the World Tree's roots once crossed from open air into dark, rich soil. She's still not hurrying, although she knows she dare not dawdle; she crouches at one spot, using her free hand to thrust her fingers into the earth, starting to open a hole which will hold this seed, not too far from Steven and Amethyst.

It's going to take more than one hand to dig a sufficient hole, and more than one to enclose the precious seed in the soil which will nurture it. But this ground alone will not nourish the seed to sprout - Kaoruko has just told them as much.

"I was safe in my dream," the Wind Knight says softly, as she helps to plant the seed she's carried for so long. "Safe, and surrounded by the family I cherish, my mother and father and my big sister. My friends were there as well, classmates, teammates ... it should have been comfortable. It was. But comfort isn't enough."

That should be a big enough hole, with the help of her companions. Fuu places the seed gently, pressing down a little bit to embed it in the dirt - and to sustain her contact with it as she continues speaking.

"I could have dreamed a life without fighting, without being a magical girl. But magic is what drew me together with the other Magic Knights, with all the magical girls I've met, fought alongside, even fought against on occasion. And my magic is a part of me. I was so afraid, once, to let my family realize I was a magical girl ... but my mother found out, and now my sister knows as well. They aren't afraid. And this world needs magical girls ... needs *magic*. Needs *us*. Maybe it's too dangerous, sometimes ... but I can't let that be my excuse."

Fuu pauses briefly, gathering herself, then blinks her eyes open, looks at Kasagami and Sourisi and Pluto. This cannot be completed without them, after all.

<Pose Tracker> Signum [None] has posed.

The light is indescribable. A vision beyond belief. Glory and passion and time and crystal glittering off of the Tokyo gates. A memory Signum feels soak into herself, passing through the trifuricate process of recording. But it's here, now: pure. She has NEVER seen this moment before, she has never fought THIS enemy. Or if she had, somehow, she had forgotten...

Ah, memories, Signum thinks as Shamal is bid to get the core.

There's a delay - of course, Signum thinks, it's large, it's unique. These things have some variety. Even Shamal might...

It's embedded in the Earth.

As Signum descends to the ground - moves away from the glorious colors and their fading presence - she is already thinking of the next step, the next phase in the war. It involves her memory of Mt. Fuji...

But another figure emerges instead. Signum's head turns, not inhumanly, but certainly swiftly. She gazes at her as she approaches Hayate and renders to her a gift.

Signum remembers. She remembers the plan she developed. The stealth with which she waged her campaign. The quiet measurements and assessments. The pavement measurements. The scheme to redesign the backyard; to produce a roundabout of gentle luxury, with shaded spaces to stay. She remembers pricing the seeds, considering how to make the blooms climb in the right way and in that moment she has to turn her head away because she thinks she is about to weep and it is not her nature to let herself weep openly, in front of all the world - even in front of these heroines, these sweet young people.

She feels shame, too; for the plans were abandoned, the small notebook of sketches and careful lists left on a shelf, for there were other things that pressed. The sensation melts in her heart quickly; in this moment the heroine of a thousand battles thinks only of twelve square meters of backyard space.

Signum breathes in.

And she steps to the side of Hayate Yagami.

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.

Endo's eyes turn to the sky when Nanoha, Fate, and Hayate's attack comes crashing down on the mass of flesh. He holds his breaths and shuts his eyes from the blast, his arms falling, sword crashing to the ground.

And then it's over. He opens his eyes to the massive, empty space, and the vast emptiness where the world tree and the pool of darkness once stood. "They did it." He breathes a sigh of relief, the tension finally leaving his body.

And when the seeds of the World Tree are presented and instruction is given, Endo nods emphatically. He has no seed of his own, but his feet carry him to his friends, old and new, to join the circle of Mages gathered around their shining seeds.

"I'm glad you're all okay." His voice is still weary, but it's no longer uncertain. The battle is over, and it's time to mend and heal. Both each other, and the World Tree itself.

When Nanoha kneels to tuck her seed into the ground, he helps send it on its way: "I came back because I want to make a world where everyone can be safe and happy, and I want that to be real, not just a dream. I want this seed to grow in a world where nobody has to fight anymore. The kind of world that dad would be proud of." Now his voice breaks, and this time he doesn't wipe back the tears from his eyes.

"I won't run away from my responsibility to this world...or any of my friends. Because I came back for all of you the most."

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

"I'm--I'm on my way!" Lera says.

She stops in front of them all, looking between the three girls -- instead of two, now, she thinks -- and she smiles. She looks down at the three seeds, and considers each in turn for a moment.

She looks down at the seeds, as Fate speaks, and her eyes lift slowly from the seed to the younger girl. Her lips quirk into a smile -- even if her cheeks are still wet. "Fate... Nanoha..."

She wipes at her eyes. This time, she has a sleeve; her stained sky blue uniform, which now has streaked tears soaked into the fibers. "I always thought you were both amazing, y'know?"

She bites her lip. She looks at Vita, then at Signum -- and she reaches a hand out, after Endo finishes speaking. She claps him on the shoulder, and then she looks down at the seeds. "I... I came back because--because I lost Dad, when I was little. I wish he was here, but I--I want to be the person I am. And that person lost him. But he's not... he's not gone, if I keep him with me. And I..."

She looks between them, then she puts a hand over Fate's, and the seed in it. "...I'm the person I am because of all of you, y'know?"

<Pose Tracker> Vita [None] has posed.

Vita's at the very edge of the endurance Hayate renewed her with. The Knight of Iron's hammer shrinks back to its (slightly) more soberly proportioned normal form and she hovers there, huffing, her body struggling to sustain its most basic functions. Then her master's light rips the sky open, Hayate and Nanoha and Fate blasting NachtWal to dust. Vita can barely generate even the paltry energy she needs tostay upright in the air; she's limping back toward Hayate when she hears Shamal's panic and Hayate's alarm, and she struggles to juice her flight just that little bit more, shoving herself across the final distance. "Okay," she says. Like Signum, she doesn't take this as a proclamation of doom so much as an objective she must now figure out how to meet. "I need...a minute...and then we can..." She looks at Eisen with thought. "....smash....the lava?" she says, blankly, because she has a hammer and everything looks like a nail, but she has enough presence of mind to tell that that's not going to work out.

Kaoruko offers an alternative. She never met the woman. She doesn't really know her. But Hayate greets her with delight which is as good as a golden ticket with Vita. The girl gives a childlike smile as she listens to instruction, then looks up to Hayate. Why she returned?

She didn't get a sweet dream in the Book. She didn't even get a nightmare. She was torn apart until her memories flew away like comets scattered by a stellar collapse. But she has other dreams. The most important things in the world, which Fate reminded her of, before it all went south. Stumbling out of Hayate's bed three hours after the other girl, thousands of years Vita's junior yet more like a mother to her than anything else - Vita's hair down and sleep still thick in her eyes. Her arms airplaning as she would run, with Hayate's kindly cautions to play safely.

Finding something, a simple, silly toy, a bunny with beady eyes and a sewn-shut mouth, and trying to turn away from it. She didn't deserve such things. And finding it gently placed into her hands.

The girls now gathering around Lera, who was always so ready to stop them, but always so desperate to understand. Nanoha, and Fate, who never gave up on believing.

She dares to approach her beloved master Hayate and places her hand over the grip with that seed. "I..." she starts, and hesitates, the words all trying to tumble out. Wishes and dreams. They're all finding it so easy to speak but for Vita, emotion is a raw, screaming nerve, and so often she finds that the only release she has for it is to roar it out, wail and weep and scream her wordless feelings. It happens again here, her voice choking out before she can speak of how wonderful this world has been. How terribly amazing to find a master who would finally dare to do something like love them. But it comes together, slowly. Words that can express the girl she can finally, finally become.

"I don't want to hurt them anymore," she whispers, tears streaming down from her eyes.

<Pose Tracker> Hayate Yagami [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> You Are The New Day https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3LduXNeicY

Hayate holds her seed with the exaggerated care of a child holding something very precious. Which does not make her less careful. Two-handed, cupped, its golden light flickers up into her face, and into that of those nearest her. She extends her arms outwards, towards Signum, towards Vita, letting their hands -- and any others -- join hers.

She listens to everyone gravely; also with a bone-deep sleepiness; there is a sense that this small person who was, yesterday, in a hospital bed, has been pushed past her limits.

She listens to faces as well as to words. She listens well, indeed. Signum receives a tiny, sad smile -- Vita she leans down to, and presses their foreheads together for a long moment, the closest to a hug she can manage at this time.

Eventually she straightens. The six wings at her back help a little, a very little. She closes her eyes in order to compose her words -- the kind of kid who likes to think before she speaks, apparently.

"Reinforce offered me everything I'd ever wanted," she says, simply and sweetly, when it is at last her time. "A healthy body. Peaceful times with my family. Friendship..."

She looks around at the group, eyes opening like unfurling blooms themselves.

"There was a time when all of those things felt impossible. But," and her smile is like the rising sun, breaking past the chilly cover of night, "They aren't. I don't want to live in a fantasy. I want to build that beautiful world right here. I want to live that beautiful life with all of you."

A tear threatens, and she sniffs it back in with a sharp inhalation.

"So many times, it would have been easier to just let go," she concludes, quietly remembering the hospital ceiling. The bedroom ceiling. The darkness overhead inside her own heart. Her voice is a single candlelight's conviction -- which is to say all the conviction, everywhere. "But it's worth it. Life is worth it!"

Hayate Yagami/POT_SOUNDTRACK - Set.

<Pose Tracker> Nanoha Takamachi [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

Each one of their team speaks their peace in their own way and it's all very moving and touching. Nanoha can't stop crying and she doesn't want to because it's cathartic in a way. It's a release of everything that they have been through together. For every battle that was lost or won it made a difference in their lives in some way. It's something that she can tell that they all feel deeply within.

As the knights talk and Vita speaks, Nanoha's tear filled eyes fixate on the Crimson Knight. Her heart swells with love for this girl that, one more than one occassion, tried to destroy her. But.... none of it matters right now and Nanoha can't help herself from reaching out to hug Vita as she cries out. Whether the affection is welcome or not, she doesn't care.

"Vita-chan, you don't have to. Together...remember?" She smiles, wiping a tear from Vita's eyes. "Everything will be okay. I mean... it may not be easy from here on but I would be more than honored to have you, Signum, Hayate and the rest of you by my side." Nanoha lets Vita go finally, her energy is spent but she wouldn't trade these moments for anything in the world.

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

It was like trying to stop a train with twigs.

That's what Sourisi felt like she was doing with every single job of her tonfa against the disturbing tendril of muscle and ichor, her assault possibly slowing it down a tiny fraction but nowhere near enough. Her two friends were too frozen with panic and fear to even attempt scooting away, and she was about to fail saving them...!

The Triple Breaker atomizes the very being of NachtWal, and Sourisi's vision goes completely white for several tense moments. As her eyes adjust once more to the night and her vision returns, Sourisi lets out the tense lungful of air she didn't realize she was holding in. That...beam of pure destruction was what saved them all, and with them, the innocents of Tokyo. A quick glance behinds her shows that Yuhira and Wakatsuki were still very much there and unharmed, and Sourisi turns to run back towards the Wind Knight in preporation for the next assault-

-when her french braid is caught in a tight grip and she's forced to turn back around to stare directly into dark purple eyes. Wakatsuki stares at her friend in shock and tries to have Yuhira let go, all the while the forest-haired girl stares right into the face of the mouse girl, eyes narrowing and searching for something. "What are you doing-?! Yuhira-chan! he just saved u-" "Niramo...is that you?"

Eyes widening in shock and hissing in surprise, Sourisi quickly tugs her braid free of the seamstress' hands and shakes her head fiercely. "I-I haven't seen anyone named Niramo, but I am certain she's okay! But it's not safe here, get back up to the others, quickly!" Wondering if the magical aura Takk had told her about had somehow failed, Sourisi is quick to beat a hasty retreat towards the Wind Knight even as she feels two sets of eyes following her every movement now.

The shocking appearance of Kaoruko Hanasaki just when all hope seems lost to truly defeat NachtWal has Sourisi listening with rapt attention, heart bounding in her chest as the grandmotherly professor tells them what must be done. She never had a Seed, let alone a way to safely keep it with her, and now...

The Wind Knight pulls out her own Seed and Sourisi stares at the tiny thing, so full of hope and salvation, then up at Fuu. "Breeze-san...may I join you in your planting of the Seed? I...I would like to do that, if possible." It only takes a moment before she nods in agreement and joins the Wind Knight, her mind racing and trying to think of the right words to say.

Thoughts go back to her dream, of her family always being there, the crowds of people the Stardust Champions always seem to save every time, with no casualties. They were a major part of her dream, but not the important one.

The smiling youthful face staring up at her, estatic in knowing that her sister was always there for her.

Hands reach out to tug away at the soil without any tools, to clear the way for the Seed. "My family is...punishing ourselves because someone is missing from our lives. We're strangers living in the same home, always distant with one another because we are troubled. Someone was stolen from us and...we all blame ourselves. So I dreamed where we all together, and free of guilt."

Her vision blurs as tears come unbidden to her, emotional pain from wounds Sourisi has been bottling inside for years coming forth. "So we continue on through our lives, blaming ourselves for something that isn't our fault! I find fault with myself for every action I do, and when I don't meet my expectations, I just try to bury it deep. I'm not perfect, no matter how I want to be, but that's...that's how reality is, right? And that's what makes it so...wonderful."

Soil is pushed over the Seed, tears streaking down Sourisi's face now. "If I didn't have failings, if...we all didn't have failings, how can we be happy with our successes? I...need to learn to accept that, that nothing will go how we want in life. But...with effort, hard work...and friends close and dear...maybe I can do something amazing, for those that are here, and those that can't."

Taking in a deep breath to steady herself, Sourisi looks towards the three friends planting the Seed with her and smiles, despite the tears. "So that's why I fight. Not for glory, recognition or anything like that. I fight for my dreams - my friends dreams, so that we can all live in a world where we finally gain what we desire...and be proud of the road we traveled to reach it."

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

Mikoto has fought enough of these people to know that their Barrier Jackets protect them. That it is a sign of their power.

She's fought enough of them to know Lera is in trouble when it disappears.

Words ring through her memory as the flesh courses forward: "GET BACK!"

And Mikoto does not realise for a moment that they have torn themselves from her own lungs as she shoves Lera away, ferocious and terrible as the blade which flashes out to carve away the flesh which threatens to consume Lera entirely. It is not a gentle motion. She is not gentle, on the battlefield.

"Lera," Mikoto snaps without looking back, irritated at the way she didn't know her limits - grudgingly impressed she was willing to go that far.

She doesn't even think about it.

... after all, she's already decided that Lera is a good person.

... after all, Lera saved her, once before.

... after all...

There's no time to dwell on it.

The Triple Breaker is destroying everything and it commands every last shred of attention. It obliterates. It annihilates. It is, in its own way, beautiful. The taking of a core is not beautiful. It is horrific, even now. Lera can surely see Mikoto's shoulders tense, from the position she's taken in front of her. (A defensive position. Almost as if Lera is worth defending.)

She does not cheer. She is still tense. She is still waiting for the next attack.

And her lips curl in a growl as Hayate reveals the truth she was half expecting - it isn't over. It's stuck.

So they'll carve it out -

- but there's an old woman, here, and she has another idea entirely.

She can see Lera moving towards her friends - Mikoto's enemies - and Mikoto looks away and growls. She has no interest in meeting with them. She is wearied, she has just fought something which can scarcely be comprehended. Not even she has the energy to come to blows with Endo right now.

And she is still tense.

It is that tenseness which Passion meets, appropriately enough, with her own type of passion. Her gaze snaps up to her, suspicious - but she listens.

Someone so important to Lera must be her enemy.

(Mikoto has saved her enemy, and what dread settles over her heart as she realises.)

The hand is regarded with feline wariness as Passion keeps talking - and there's something in her words as she shares how alone she really was which makes that hard expression shift, yellow eyes widening in recognition. There is a sharp intake of breath, to replace the sharpness of her eyes.

Strange food... words she doesn't understand...

... Mikoto knows those feelings very well.

She stares at Passion, and for a long moment she does not respond at all.

And then, tentatively, she reaches out to slip her hand into the one outstretched. Her voice is muted, unsure. "... okay."

It feels wrong. It feels like exposing her neck to a knife.

It feels wrong, but she lets Passion lead her to the planting-site anyway. She is tired; she is worn. There is so little fight left to her. She has expended her fury. It is, perhaps, a singular opportunity.

Mikoto releases that hand, and crouches by the seed. She hums uncertainty through lips tightly pressed together; she looks away.

"I..." Mikoto starts, uncertainly. The others are sharing their stories, their hopes, their wishes for a future in the real world. The pain on her face is unveiled.

She swallows against a dry throat. Her voice is quiet. "Guess I thought, if everything could go back... I'd be happy. But - I never met..." A steadying breath, another. "Were no other girls on the mountain. No room for Mai. No room for Eri. My Lord Brother's most important," and how strange that archaic term for an older brother is, hearing how simple the rest of her Japanese is, "but Mai and Eri are important too..."

Can't they be important, too?

"They can't be normal," Mikoto says, and her voice grows hoarse with emotion. "I can't make that better. I can't do it for them. I can't..." She shakes her head, eyes squeezing shut. "... 'cause I don't wanna fight alone!" The plea is desperate, and perhaps appropriately for the company, impassioned.

Mikoto looks down at the seed. "... I gotta find my Lord Brother. And I can't let my friends fight alone, either. And..." - there are tears in those big golden eyes. "... and I promised I'd come home."

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

They face an awful onslaught, maybe the death of the world -- and a particularly vile one, as such things go, and the Outer Senshi has some small perspective on the matter -- and it may never end, but if it does... among other things, Sailor Pluto has a chance to meet Kasagami's treasured and rare family to look forward to. It puts an extra spark in her gaze, already fierce and unflinching.

The senshi of the outermost reaches of this solar system they all call home puts her aching shoulder into it; she puts her full body into it, straining and coated in sweat; she puts her heart and her soul into this shared stand. For her Princess.

When it ends, improbably, the senshi hits the ground with one knee in an overbalanced stumble, the Rod flung forward to catch her balance. The Triple Breaker prevails, and the NachtWal... there is a void where the NachtWal once was.

Is it over? Is it finally over? Every overstrained muscle in the senshi's body begs to know, but she denies them their rest. Because it looks, and sounds, like something is wrong.

The venerable Kaoruko Hanasaki speaks, she and Hayate, and Pluto forces her legs to bear her full weight once more; she stands, and between determination and pride there is no buckle to her knees. She looks to Kasagami, and she holds out a hand whose once-white glove has seen better days than this one. There's a smudge of what is either ichor or dirt across one cheek, and her eyes are tired, so tired, but that extra spark lives on in them.

Shall we, they ask? Shall we plant a rose together?

The Wind Knight, green-clad and lovely in sharp contrast to the ugliness they have all just endured, is herself like a verdant sprout of hope. Ever since coming to the Tokyo of the Here and Now, Sailor Pluto has watched the Wind Knight tend to the dangers that threaten the World Tree. She also remembers a twist of metal that became a queen's (costume) crown in the girl's hands, a bit of unexpected kindness.

She asks for their assistance, and there is only one answer in Sailor Pluto. She gives it with a speed that indicates gladness to help. "Of course, Hououji-san. It would be my honor." They have to give it the world, Hanasaki-sensei said. Fuu says her piece and plants the precious seed, giving it to the soil.

Sailor Pluto considers the seed, remembers her dream. She looks to the civilians they've managed to keep safe. She sees her faithful majordomo Etsuko there, and the scarecrow woman manages a wave to her boss (even if her eyes are unaccustomedly wide still and look to set permanently that way from what she's seen tonight). She sees Small Lady, and... her heart swells against her ribcage.

A lingering squeeze and she retrieves her hand from Kasagami's. Sailor Pluto pulls one glove off, inverting the magical fabric to bare dark and slender fingers. "I wanted to stay in the dream. It was so beautiful..."

She presses into the dirt, and with curlings of fingers encourages a loose brown blanket over the seed where it is bedded down. "Peaceful. Safe. I could have spent the rest of my days on that beach. I nearly did."

Pluto sighs. Her eyes, shaped for sorrow, linger on the dirt; then they seek the sky. "But even given the most beautiful dream to live in, there was a hole in me. Maybe I am not made for peace. Or maybe I am only made for one thing, for one task. That beautiful dream is not my world. It isn't the world I broke my Taboo to come to, and it's not the world I am pledged to save."

The moon is somewhere up there, beyond the Earth's atmosphere but nestled in the embrace of its gravity well. "So I came back," she whispers, to the sky. "Because this is the world where my heart lives."

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Their combined efforts blow away the fleshy assault, but Hayate's voice rings through with the truth. No rest for the magical, and Kasagami turns to the voice of Kaoruko Hanasaki. With the Darkness intent on fouling the very earth itself, the woman asks them to fill these seeds with their truth. Her good eye snaps to the Wind Knight as she nears herself, Pluto, and Sourisi. Slowly, Kassie frowns.

Fuu asks for help. They can't do this alone. One of Kassie's hands balls up for a second. Frustration comes into her face for a moment, and then she relaxes.

A smudged, battered gloved hand is offered to her, and she takes it without hesitation. She trembles for a moment, but as Fuu plants the seed, she nods to her love. With her? She'd plant a seed. NO matter how painful it might be to do so. She leans in, close just for another moment. Somehow, this seems so much harder than simply fighting with steel.

She looks down to the fresh soil.

"...You know, I'm not a very good person." Starts Kassie. Her gaze narrows. She leans, and a free hand moves to help Fuu dig a hole. Her gloves are thick, perfect for this kind of work.

"I love fighting and danger too much. Actually, that kind of excitement is something I crave, no matter how terrifying it can be! I can be greedy, cruel, selfish and an idiot. ...I hurt someone I really care for, all thinking I was doing it for her own good. It was a lie. I fooled myself into thinking that. I pushed away family, and..."

Her voice is quiet, like a confession to a priest. "Ah. But if I listed all of my sins, we'd be here all night. Point is, a girl whose dream is like mine, is it going to be good fertilizer? I'm not so sure. But if it can help, even a little bit? Fine."

A shiver down her spine, and she looks to STeven, to Pluto, to Sourisi, to Fuu in turn.

"I don't even like this world very much. The inequalities and tragedies in it make my eyelids itch and my skin flare whenever I think too much about it. Yet for all of that? It's my home. My home that has all of my dear friends, people that have stood beside me despite the flaws I have. Courageous, wonderful, loving people." A hand goes to her heart finally.

"I've found family again. And...maybe I've rediscovered some, too. Somehow I even managed to capture a few hearts, even if I'm still not sure just how that happened. Will of God? Fickle fortune smiling upon the wicked?" A smile forms on her face, a tear slips down, and she looks Pluto right in the eyes.

A glance to Sourisi, and her heart-wrenching regrets. She looks away again, it hurts too much to hear such raw feelings given so freely.

"And so I'm going to protect this world, because the people I love the most are in it, and it's the only one we have. So I can change it, into a place where those same people and the people they care for can live without having to suffer."

Her eyes close. Tears flow.

"All I want is a world filled with love, safety, and strength. And not that false world where there's nothing but mindless servants and hollow mockeries of the notion of nobility."

"This might be too much to ask, but I'd like the real world to be beautiful, noble, and just."

<Pose Tracker> NachtWal [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> The Huge Tree in the Tsukamori Forest https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o427T3gNUFA

The Book of Darkness -- the Tome of the Night Sky -- hovers at the edge of the proceedings, as seeds are gathered, and so are hearts. Quietly, without drama, it riffles through itself, all the way to the very end; to the very last thing that it drained, before activating.

And when, in response to the words softly spoken to them, the seeds begin to glow -- the Book glows, too.

Going backwards from the last sentence, its lines and lines of crushed, dried flower petals -- which is what it wrote down, en lieu of actual spells, when it absorbed the released might of the blooming World Tree -- unstick themselves and float upwards. Cherry blossom time in reverse. The petals remain dead, however, moistureless and brittle. In a way they're like tiny pages; their animation the rattling of bones.

Or the whispering of spirits.

They rustle around the group in a soft, scentless wind...

...and then flow, as motes of golden light, into the ground, following the seeds.

Shamal's portal is still open, and it makes for a front row seat to the fate of NachtWal's core; it was obviously already starting to surge for another push, but instead it is surrounded -- and then pierced -- by roots.

Roots are delicate things; their tendrils can be finer than hair. Why is it, then, that the destructive, infective core cannot burn them away as they approach? Why is it helpless to stop them, as soft brown fingerlings wrap delicately around it -- thread through it -- picking apart the twisted magics like an infinitely patient untier of knots -- until there's nothing left but black motes that flow up the roots and out of sight, transforming to gold along the way.

Above -- right here -- the surface is a wasteland. It is jagged rocks, chunks of concrete and unnatural pillar. It is fading fires -- and fading shadows, too, the puddle-like portal of NachtWal being drained downwards like fertilizer. Calling it bitter irony that this personification of consumption would be consumed in this way is entirely missing the point.

Plants that can rehabilitate tainted soil by transforming it into nutrients, is no lesser miracle than Starlight Breaker or Plasma Zanber or Ragnarok.

It is very much the opposite, isn't it?

The first little green shoot emerges from the ground.

A greater miracle...

It is joined by another -- then another -- each of the individual seeds planted by the group unfurls a tiny bit of itself, reaching, reaching for everything they've been promised. Joys and sorrows. Grief -- and hope.

The ground is rumbling again, but this time it feels... anticipatory.

And then it comes.

Maybe they were technically separate seeds but by the time they're three feet tall they're growing into one another, and by the time they're thirty it is impossible to know where one ends and one begins. Hundreds of years of growth pass in a single exhalation's time. Then again, in the next breath, and again...

...the tree is all golden light -- how it was, in that moment when it bloomed, before its power was turned to great evil...

...until it isn't, anymore.

With a tremendous sigh, the sigh of a million buds popping, all at once, out of a million branches, the glorious expression of power, of magic, is replaced with something much more wonderful.

And as the canopy greens -- greens and blues and pinks and yellows, every possible color wrought on petal's palette, blossoms mixed amongst fresh new leaves -- the sky blues.

Spreading out in a circle from where Hayate Yagami was standing, the pavement heals. The plaza fills (though not TOO full; it was a different kind of storm, before this all happened, which had sent most souls to shelter for entirely conventional-seeming reasons). The buildings regain their sense of detail. The city regains its life.

The broken skyscrapers, the stone pillars, the fire geysers -- just a memory.

And the World Tree -- the Sky Tree, the Shinjuu -- it was always such a massive edifice, a sort of organic institution all its own, that it's hard to really tally whether it has been returned to normal, or if it's replaced itself. It doesn't really matter either way.

Its heart is in the right place.

A warm breeze ruffles its boughs like a child's hair, and perfume drifts down from the freshly-bloomed blossoms, a once-in-a-lifetime event that will send flower viewers from around Japan, and everywhere else, to sit underneath it--

--but it isn't a rush just now. It isn't even an event.

It's just -- it's only -- it's wonderfully -- the same spring afternoon it was before.