2018-07-11 - This Is Where the World Drops Off

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Title: This Is Where the World Drops Off

Mikoto Minagi and Homura Akemi premeditate on something.


Homura Akemi and Mikoto Minagi


Near Southern Cross Island

OOC - IC Date:

Weds July 11, 2018 - Tues April 28, 2015

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

Is it strange, that school goes on even after the world came so close to ending? Well, it makes Mai happy, so Mikoto attends. She even manages to make most of her classes! ... most of them. She may have napped through her afternoon class. She's found her favourite tree to nap in, and the ability to actually nap in its branches now...

... well, Mikoto's been damaged for so long. It's nice to be able to enjoy little things like this.

The rising chatter of girls and boys who have left class for the day rouses her, and she stirs against the crook of her arm, a twig snapping off and embedding itself in her hair. She blinks down at the crowd, and her eyes light up as she spies someone she cares about amongst all the tittering strangers. There's a moment's delay as Homura draws closer to the tree she's been napping on, another... and contact! She hangs upside-down directly in the other girl's path, caring nothing for gravity, and her eyes shine with friendliness and cheer. "Homura!"

Mikoto swings herself about perfectly effortlessly, to land on the ground in front of the other girl with all the grace and balance of a cat. It's as good a demonstration as any that - in the short time since the Shepherd's meeting - she's made a remarkable recovery. It is a message she expects Homura to receive and understand perfectly. And for a moment, all she is is affection for someone she views as a friend, wide smile and open body language.

For a moment.

But they have business to attend to, and Mikoto knows it well.

She glances this way, glances that. "... can we talk?" She doesn't say what about; she considers her lowered tone indication enough.

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

For Homura Akemi, school not only goes on; it goes on, and on, and on... After an absurd number of years attending Ohtori Academy it would be entirely understandable if these schooldays blended and blurred together, a b-reel endlessly repeating in the background of her strangely extended existence. But no, the puella magi knows precisely which day this is, which incremented time loop it resides within, and most critically: how many more days there are between this one and Walpurgisnacht.

Not enough. Never enough.

She strides away from Ohtori Academy, skipping any after school activities and clubs. Homura has greater priorities when it comes to spending time, precious time. As usual, she glides between clusters of classmates, within the crowd but not of it. Level violet eyes roam, large and dark; her chin is up, her bone-white face forward and expressionless.

Into the shade of a tree she strides, leaf-dapples stealing the gleam from sable hair. Then -- a flash of movement overhead!

The toe of Homura's right foot, half-lifted for her next step, taps down to a halt against the pavement as the rest of her halts, too. Well, almost the rest of her -- her hair continues onward, two black sails billowing over her shoulders.

"Mikoto Minagi," she replies, the tip of her nose less than a foot from the tip of the upside-down girl's nose. Homura does not blink, open her arms, or smile, but it would perhaps be stranger if she did any of these things. During the flip down she follows the movement and indeed, evaluates the easy fluidity with which Mikoto moves again.

Homura Akemi is all business, all the time. She recognizes the drop in tone and nods. "Let's go somewhere else." This easy agreement is the puella magi's own version of a friendly smile and open arms. She has time for Mikoto Minagi, and time, time is precious to her. "I know a place." With a pause to see if the other will follow, she leads.

There's no lack of narrow alleys and construction projects once one leaves Southern Cross's self-conscious perfection. Homura Akemi is a creature who seeks these half-places and between-places, a high perch or a tight and defensible position, by what has more or less become her nature.

It's not far to the construction of what will someday be another Tokyo high-rise hotel. The top floors are just metal bones and exposed concrete flooring, still damp in places and odd pools from the most recent rain. Exposed to the sky, but isolated; good visibility; no chance of being overheard. It's also quite the dramatic setting. Homura would never admit how highly she values that last.

Only then does the puella magi speak again, having traveled in cool silence. "... Sayaka Miki."

One name can hold an awful lot of weight. Homura adds another, not even bothering to ease into the topic. It's not her way and it doesn't strike her as Mikoto's, either. "Kozue Kaoru, too. We should plan for both. The odds that we can isolate that girl are... very low." She's run them. "And if we did catch her alone I wouldn't trust it not to be a trap they laid."

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

Meanwhile, in the specious present: Mikoto Minagi, who cares little for what has been and what may be. She is not a creature who occupies herself with questions; she is an ineffable force of will, taken by whim and circumstance.

How strange, then... that she would be the one to think of this.

How strange.

Homura's stoic mien does little to forestall Mikoto's enthusiasm, as she lands toe-to-heel against the ground. "Yup!" She chirps, happily, to her name - friendliness enough for the both of them. She has seen Homura's lack of emotion, and she knows it's normal. She's not going to judge her for what might be seen as an inappropriate reaction to events.

Mikoto is the last person to judge anyone for something like that.

And while Mikoto is very rarely /business,/ in the scheme of things... well, the recent war has seen her edging into it so more often, hasn't it? Because even as Mikoto is cheerful at the outset, happy to see a friend, she shifts gears so readily and without any hesitation at all. It is a strange and liminal thing, to see these aspects side-to-side.

To fight magical girls instead of monsters...

... what damage has it done, to Mikoto Minagi?

She looks back to Homura - there is more thoughtfulness in her gaze. Quieter. The light of a distant signal dims; she nods, with an affirmative noise. Mikoto grasps the strap of her swordcase with a hand, and follows the puella magi along. She is used to following puella magi, after all.

Here is a known fact about the world: cats so adore high places. It is not difficult, to leap across paths not yet properly designed; it is not difficult, to perch upon steel scaffolding, hands feeling out rivets. They are nature's park benches, in the urban forest of Tokyo. Miroku's case hangs behind her, still across a shoulder.

Sayaka Miki.

The weight which settles over Mikoto's face is an unkind veil, gaze hardening at the words. She does not need to speak a word to express the hatred she feels for Sayaka; it is bled into the crease of her brow, the way her lips pull downwards as if gravity plays favourites.

That's not surprising.

Surprising, perhaps - the aggravated noise in the back of her throat as Homura mentions the HiME, the way she looks away to glare at a stray rivet, the way legs kick back and forth like a tail lashing. "Kozue."

Her hands ball into fists against the steel. Each of them have made their choice, the people they will fight to protect. Each of them has resolved themselves on opposite sides.

"... Kozue..." And a hint of sadness, as she repeats the name.

Mikoto shakes her head, braids whipping every which way. Teeth set in a line in perfect parallel to a gate within her heart closing; and the rain floods the captured garden, and there is no hope for any life within.

There is no hope, because Kozue has always been honest with her, even when everyone around her lies. There is no hope, because Kozue must know how this ends.

There is no hope at all.

Because Mikoto Minagi will fight anyone who gets in her way.

The expelling of air through grit teeth is not unlike a hiss; it is hardly the sort of sound a human ought to make. "Like me. HiME. Element and Child. Kusarigama..." A moment's hesitation. "... Cassandra."

Had it been so long ago, when they all brought their Children to bear against the might of Miyu Greer? It feels like a lifetime ago, as if her existence could be separated into two distinct eras: before Mai's death, and after. The good times, and...

Mikoto swallows, frowning at her curled hand. "... Homura?" Her name is a question, and there is uncertainty there. "Thanks. For defeating Alyssa."

It is something her obsidian spires could not do, despite her efforts.

It is a debt which has gone unacknowledged for over half a year.

It is no wonder Mikoto greets Homura with a bright and friendly gaze.

She shakes her head, dispelling the thoughts, and slips back into their sorry business without another word. "Kozue's chain's variable. Sometimes long, sometimes short. Mobility and attack." There's something akin to guilt lancing through her heart, as she remembers the times Kozue has used it to get the both of them out of trouble. But there is no room for those feelings, and she carves them away. "Cassandra's swan. Not too big... don't underestimate it. Child's a HiME's promise. Our decision to fight. We don't got magic like Puella Magi do, but a Child can do lots."

Mikoto returns her attention to Homura, sharp-eyed in her thoughts. "And Kozue fights hard. Just like me." More beasts than girls.

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

The puella magi is as still as the feline girl is motile. Her ever-alert gaze alternates between tracing her companion's movements and roving the city-jagged skyline. She stands ramrod straight and prim, balanced on joined heels atop a vertical rebar coil some some two meters tall.

Mikoto speaks Kozue's name, repeats it; Homura hears that aggravated sound the other girl makes, before. From that point she leaves off scanning their surroundings and settles the weight of her regard firmly on Miroku's keeper. She hunts for sign of hesitance, for cracks in resolve: deadly things in a partner for this.

But there is a set to the girl's teeth, a hardness to the denial in a shaken head. Instead of balking, Mikoto offers up her friend's strengths and weakness to their murder plans.

There was a time, in a Tokyo past only one of the two present experienced, when Homura Akemi and Sayaka Miki were friends. Such a very, very long time ago... "Cassandra too. We're fighting three, at minimum. Not many of their Chevalier allies are going to sign on for what they're up to, but we shouldn't rule out more interference."

She has more tactical thoughts, except Mikoto is saying her name now, like a question. Homura falls into an opaque quiet. Her partner in planning has the floor.

Whatever Homura was expecting, this was not it.

Perhaps this is the time and the place for such a thing, dire gratitude amidst dark planning. If there can ever be a time and a place for... The pale girl's head tilts some thirty degrees, angling the even lines of her face. It is not an expression, but it is more expressive than she has yet been.

Expressive of what, though...? "It had to be done. Like this has to be done." She has some small idea of the import of her actions, though not of what lies in Mikoto's heart. Homura straightens and inclines her head a touch long enough that the gesture lives in the uncertain space between nod and bow.

Tactics, then. Homura crouches atop her rebar pole. "Kozue and Cassandra are dangerous, but if it's both of us against them... I intend to take out Sayaka Miki at the beginning, from a distance. If we can pinpoint a place they're likely to pass by, together... as civilians," Homura clarifies, cool as ice. "I can set up a few hundred yards away. My shot can be your signal."

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

No matter how keen the gaze searching for Mikoto's hesitation, there can be no hope of finding it.

Enemies must be defeated.

Kozue has chosen to stand with her enemy, to fight with her enemy, and in this way she has become an enemy as well. It is telling, that Mikoto shows her frustration, her sadness; it is more telling still that she does not dwell on them at all. Eri's enemies are Mikoto's enemies. It was a promise. It cannot be reneged. Eri's enemies are Mikoto's enemies, which means Sayaka is her enemy, which means Kozue is her enemy.

There is a dark pit to her stomach. She knows bad things. She can do this. She can keep Eri safe. She has to do this. She has to keep Eri safe.

Eri is one of the most important people in the world.

This is what Mikoto can do for her.

An affirmative noise, as Homura notes their numbers. Three, at least. That the Chevaliers may interfere is a given, in her mind - they will see them as bad people. People to be stopped.

(There is the thought of a distinctive hat, unbidden.)

But sometimes it takes bad people, the people who know bad things and act on them, to truly defend this world. And so it is with Homura, the girl who killed a little girl so that she would cease her reign of terror. Mikoto's eyes betray no hint of remorse for the defeat; only gratitude.

Her smile, as Homura acknowledges the point and dips her head, is brief, but it is there, and it is lovely in its moment.

Perhaps they are killers - but they will keep them safe. It's heartening, even if it's sad, too.

And now, the greatest puzzle: how bright must a lighthouse shine to signal through the blackness of the storm? How does it catch upon the ragged edges of those few lines upon the sand?

The greatest puzzle, as Mikoto makes an unsettled noise, curling her hands in her lap and staring down at them. As civilians. "Homura... if Sayaka can't fight, Sayaka can't be my enemy, right...?" She sounds uncertain, looking to the other girl for guidance.

There are so few boundaries in battle Mikoto Minagi considers pertinent.

And here she offers the most key to the altar, for in the face of Homura's certainty she is no longer sure of her principles at all.

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Homura's internal decision-making runs on a byzantine system of collated experiences and probabilities reckoned thereof. Perhaps Sayaka Miki was a friend once upon a hundred time resets ago; time, repeated, has proven that to be an outlier. This has somewhat to do with Eri Shimanouchi in Homura Akemi's mind, the green magi who has been a staunch ally and even secret friend as events have developed, this go-round. Homura has plenty of reason to protect Eri, to preserve that savage determination for the coming storm.

She also just wants the girl dead. Gone. Out of her /way/. She should have seen to it long before this. Homura considers it on her, that things have progressed this far, that this... decline threatens the gentle and too-giving disposition of a soul as pink as the sunrise.

Mikoto smiles beatific gratitude for a murder already committed and Homura is not discomfited behind her cool, not at all, just as there is nothing in her that regrets the murder they conspire over. Nothing at all.

She could have taken the shot, and didn't. And now they are here. Let her regret be for that.

Then, the question pulls the puella from black thoughts. Flat, icy violet considers Mikoto Minagi: slight frame holding fearsome strength; moral consideration, a delicate silk peace-binding upon a brutal obsidian blade. Homura readies the blade of her ruthlessness to sever it, sharpened on absolute determination. She's sinned plenty already in the name of protecting Madoka Kaname. Mikoto shall have her guidance.

The sky above is the blue of a bright spring afternoon, aside a swatch of night in the shape of streaming swallowtail hair. From her twist of rebar Homura descends, a dark angel smoothly unfurling downward rather than hopping free. There's a puddle beneath her perch and she doesn't bother avoiding it; rather, the puella magi touches down in its center to throw neat double-rings of water outward from her pointed toes. It is the perfect landing.

Almost. A drop backsplashes and darkens the leather top of one loafer. Homura frowns down at the mark, irritation the first thing to change the set of her mouth.

She looks back up to the girl with the dark braids and the query on her face.

"Wrong," she says.

Homura's gaze is level, her voice soft but in no way gentle. "She poses the same threat to Shimanouchi-san no matter what she wears at any given moment. I'm not sure how much you've fought this girl, but she can recover from almost any wound." Mikoto gave her best education on the friend she is now targeting; it is Homura Akemi's turn to do the same.

"We can't give her the chance. The stakes are too high." The stakes are everything, they're always everything. "If we don't kill her, she's going after Shimanouchi-san. If we're... fair about it," and she imbues the word 'fair' with an arctic chill, "and she gets away and kills her, what then?

"No." Calm, certain, final. "If it all goes according to plan Sayaka Miki will be dead before she hits the ground. Then we can deal with her girlfriend."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Matthew Good - Weapon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkENkfrQChY

There are so few things Mikoto Minagi considers lines to be crossed. She has always been taught that those who attack her are enemies; that enemies must be destroyed. It is her own will which saw the inverse become true. It is some small expression of her own morality, some shred of indication that she is not as bloodthirsty as the pressures put upon her.

And yet, there are truths, to a girl like Mikoto.

A girl like Mikoto looks to those around her for support and guidance.

A girl like Mikoto is well-prepared to abandon her own assessments in the face of greater power.

A girl like Mikoto is strong, certainly. Terrible. A fearsome creature for any who might oppose her. And yet, to those she is open to - so vulnerable, trusting, and malleable.

For all the war has wounded her, she has not found her reason to be hard, yet.

There is no one yet who would ask this of her.

No one, except, perhaps...

A splash, and Mikoto blinks against the landing, the sudden appearance of expression on Homura's face. Upon the ground, she finds herself looking down, all a sudden, rather than up. It doesn't reflect the power differential at all.

She makes a sad little noise of acknowledgement, as Homura breaks her illusions with a word, looking down before she returns that golden gaze to the other girl. There is nothing which is not reflected, in those eyes large and bright. Her conflict over attacking a civilian - her fear for the safety of Eri Shimanouchi, so clear in the way eyes widen and nostrils flare.

The stakes are too high.

Eri will die if they don't kill Sayaka.

Eri will die...

Mikoto's hands tighten in her lap, and she swallows against a lump in her throat. There is not a hint of a lie to Homura's words. It's necessary.

It feels like giving up something precious, something secret, something hers.

She would give and give and give, all for the love of Eri Shimanouchi.

And in the end, Homura's instructions are concise, and concrete in all their softness. She is so sure, and Mikoto cannot do anything but cleave to her. Homura has always known what to do. Surely Homura knows what to do in this.

And there is no room for individuality or ethics stolen in the night.

Mikoto takes a breath; finds it trembles, as she shutters catlike eyes against the feeling. Eri loves her weakness, and yet weakness it is, and Mikoto swallows it down to the darkness, squares her shoulders, sets her jaw. She nods.

"Yes, Homura." The words are quiet acknowledgement, a shred of apology for her uncertainty.

It is, perhaps, a little too quiet, a little too muted.

It hurts, after all.

It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter when things hurt if they're right. The truth won't change for love or pain. Mikoto shakes her head; volume returns to her. "What if Sayaka doesn't die? Sayaka's survived lots." Charlotte's cartoon maw flashes through her mind. "Even normal... maybe Sayaka won't die."

The way she lingers on that uncertainty, it clearly bothers her. No one should be immortal. Everything bleeds; everything dies.

Mikoto frowns down at her hands, rubbing thumb against forefinger. "Almost," she echoes Homura's words, trusting that Homura will understand their context. "What's Sayaka healed so far?"

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Wind ruffles the pleats of her grey uniform skirt. Guidance given, she watches Mikoto with flat affect. This is what it takes to do what we do, thinks Homura Akemi as she hears that sad noise and watches the fisting of the other girl's hands. It is best for Mikoto and all that she learn it now. But she doesn't say it aloud. She doesn't need to.

Because in the end, it is so easy to /guide/ Mikoto Minagi. Homura does not know how her cold potence paves her way to this acquiescence. She just sees the new set of Mikoto's jaw and hears the pain of it in her voice.

Good enough, Homura thinks, merciless to herself as she is to the other. As if that balances the scales.

But the scales don't matter, not really. Only Madoka does.

So they must be sure. "She can survive far too much." Homura's voice loses any softness. "Fire can't kill her, not really. I wouldn't feel sure if we burned her apartment down around her while she slept." This has been considered in the past, clearly. Has it been... tried? But... has Sayaka Miki ever suffered killing burns as a puella magi? (Not in /this/ timeline, she hasn't.) How could Homura know?

A beat. "A point blank grenade is no sure thing either." This, from personal experience.

"But massive bodily trauma is a good way to slow her down, and it forces her to burn power." Possibly to undesirable results. She wants Sayaka Miki dead, not drained to the brink of... "If conditions are good I'll try for a headshot. I've never seen any puella come back from one of those. If not... center mass."

Homura specifically makes no mention of the soul gem. In civilian form it will be a ring on Sayaka's hand, and no good target for even her experienced eye and trigger finger; irrelevant. Otherwise... ally or not, big warm friendly smile of welcome and painfully granted trust aside, she does not trust Mikoto Minagi with that information, not now. It is too dangerous, and cannot be recalled once shared.

"Speaking of grenades." She knows about grenades, because... "You fight in close. If I shout to move, you should move." It's a cold attempt at planned teamwork, but it IS an attempt. Perhaps it qualifies for growth, in Homura's world. Perhaps a once-upon-a-timeline Sayaka Miki would envy Mikoto Minagi this moment, she thinks. "Anything I should know?" About you, she means.

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

Here's a riddle: how long does it take to learn a lesson, when the slate keeps getting wiped clean?

How many times has Mikoto Minagi learnt what she knows?

What her body remembers?

There are grooves worn into her, and when something fits their shape they glide into her psyche so effortlessly. And here's a riddle: does Mikoto even realise?

(It is right, and good, and just.)

Mikoto cannot know how similar they are, in the end. That their worlds narrow to the most important people, and then...

... well, Mikoto is the only one present who cannot know.

She nods, with an affirmative noise, as Homura confirms her aggravations. Fire won't work. Grenades won't work. Massive bodily trauma... a hand lifts, to grasp Miroku's strap, and Mikoto's eyes veil in something unkind. Headshots. Centre mass. Nods, again. "Roof. Down the middle."

Here is the weapon fashioned in the Minagi's volcanic crucible, a weapon which can only carve away with sharp edges.

Dangerous is a word well-applied.

Mikoto grunts acknowledgement again as Homura gives her such vital instruction. "Got it." She is not unused to fiery displays of area denial; of course, most of the time, she's perched upon the dragon dealing it.

She looks down at that strap, as Homura asks about her, and hums behind closed lips. It takes her a moment, as she thinks back to when she first fought alongside Mai and Eri, the lessons they had to learn. "Stay clear. I'm fine in melee. Harder when I'm keeping eye on allies." That raised hand releases, curls at her chest. There are things more vulnerable, but they are things she ought to know. "... might... get real mad. Hard to focus on stuff that's not fighting. So... if Homura's got stuff to say, speak loud and be clear. Use my name. Else I might not notice."

She sounds uncomfortable, as she speaks of her own berserkergang.

But then, it is never a comfortable thing to lose herself in the fight.

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mikoto Minagi gets it. This is made clear as crystal by the lethal shift in her stance and the kindred shift in her eyes. The frightening girl grasps her sword and Homura does not move, is so still that the thin layer of water encircling her shoes does not even quiver. She is not the target, and besides which, flinching is not her style.

She's worked long and hard at being an inscrutable robot of a girl, after all. No, really.

Grenades and blades each get their turn at tactical consideration. "Done," Homura replies regarding the advice to stay clear. But there's more.

The violet magi has witnessed the berserker transformation. It is indeed not a thing one can easily miss, even in the furor of a large scale firefight. Mikoto Minagi wields a zone of obsidian death around herself when the rage takes hold. The admission is hard, clearly, in a bright sunny afternoon full of difficult conversation.

Homura Akemi is a being of suffocating self-control. In this, she and her partner in premeditation could not be further apart. She does not narrow her eyes in reproach, nor otherwise react to the admission. But she does take note.

And Mikoto hands over a key to herself. "I will use your name if I need to, Mikoto Minagi." This is as unemotional as anything else the cold-eyed girl has said, and perhaps that also makes it nonjudgmental. This is for Mikoto to interpret; the puella magi gives no further hint. Homura Akemi is all business, all the time.

"I'll watch them, for an ambush spot and for sign of anyone else foolish enough to follow that girl to her death. If you find a likely point in their routine, find me. Otherwise I'll find you. I'll need a clear firing line, so it can't be inside. A city street. A park near some high rises." Homura says nothing about ensuring the area is clear of (non-target) civilians. Either they will clear themselves or they'll risk being collateral murder.

There is one area in which Homura Akemi's self-restraint... suffers. She cannot help but reiterate one condition, the most important condition. "Madoka Kaname /cannot/ be there." She goes from deadly serious to deadlier serious with no visible change. Something in her voice, perhaps.

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

Mikoto is not inscrutable; Mikoto is an open book. In many things they are different. In many things they could not be more different. And yet...

Still, it is clear that despite the battle-readiness which crosses her as she thinks of their grim task, Homura is not in her sights. Mikoto draws a strict line between allies and enemies, and Homura has nothing to fear from Mikoto as an ally.

(Here, a concentrated effort not to think of blue hair and crepes.)

Mikoto speaks of her lack of self-control, and does not directly acknowledge its corollary; like the sun, it is something ill to look at, only to be known by the sensation of warmth on skin. But there is enough there, perhaps, in what she can carve from herself. Enough for Homura to acknowledge, enough for Homura to understand.

She lets out a sigh of relief she had not realised she was holding, short puff between the shallow gap of upper and lower teeth.

Homura launches into her plan, and Mikoto listens, those golden eyes fixed on her. That they will be watching is a given Homura does not question, and Mikoto does not challenge. They are hunting. It is good to be prepared, on the hunt. This is a lesson she has learnt well.

An affirmative noise, as Homura specifies her requirements.


... those things which aren't requirements at all.

She tilts her head, as Homura's severe edge becomes so exquisite. "Madoka's important to Homura, too?" Mikoto knows her as Eri's friend, a normal girl who is thrust into these situations time and again. She does not know her well. Perhaps it's a relief, given just who Mikoto is.

To Mikoto's credit, she doesn't hesitate at all. She reassures Homura with an emphatic touch, perhaps inspired by that subtle shift in tone. "Don't worry! Madoka's not a warrior. I don't want Madoka involved neither." As if to further underline her point, Mikoto bends back against the steel beam; legs hook around it, and she lets herself fall, supported by them, only to catch herself on her hands and spring right back up. It is, perhaps, too fancy a way to dismount, except that the length of Miroku's case forbids slipping off normally.

As she straightens, Mikoto frowns, with a thoughtful noise. "Can Homura see at night?" She's found many girls can't, surprisingly enough. "If Homura can still shoot... less people at night. Less panic. Easier to hit if Homura's gotta shoot twice." She does not bring up the fact that people who aren't warriors will stand no chance in the ensuing melee. Homura, she feels, will respond so much better to tactical points.

Because they're not good people.

Because they know bad things.

"Plus, more likely Sayaka's got done hunting. Tired. Less magic for healing." That Puella Magi hunt at night is just a given, to Mikoto Minagi. "Less likely other Chevaliers'll be there, too. Don't care how many enemies are there, but..." But Eri is so tired.

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

'Madoka's important to Homura, too?'

The answer to Mikoto's question is large, so unspeakably large that Homura Akemi does not bother trying to speak it. She feels vulnerability akin to what her ally displayed earlier during talk of berserker rages. For such a hard, cold girl, her heart is terribly exposed. Perhaps that is because it does not live within Homura's chest, but within another's.

She says nothing at all, in fact, though dark level brows angle down and in by fractions, and in this the perceptive warrior might spy that there is, after all, a path to a flinch reaction with Homura Akemi.

Mikoto doesn't hesitate, and the puella gets the reassurance she needs. She lets that be that, with a quiet and approbative, "Good," as the girl flips down. Further demonstration that she's in good physical form, limber. That is also good.

As for tactical considerations... "I can see at night if I need to," returns the puella magi. She doesn't say how. A slight shrug concedes the point. "And if they can't, another point in our favor. Night it is."

She adds, "The distance between my strike position and yours won't be a problem. You'll have support against Kozue and her beast immediately." She doesn't say how she's going to close that gap so quickly, either. Homura Akemi isn't much for explanations.

How does one close a criminal conspiracy to murder? With a toast, or a pep speech? With solemn handshake and secrecy sworn? The tenth grader feels... old, feels weary of the world. She feels a prickly and selfish resentment toward Sayaka Miki, that it had to come to this. Again.

"I'll see you around, Mikoto Minagi." Simple words, as simple as '... can we talk?'

She steps backward, until there is no more concrete beneath her loafers, and drops silently from the edge of the unfinished building with a flutter of skirts and a trailing of inky black hair. It is as thorough a disappearing act as any Homura performs.