2018-10-01 - Reckoning II

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Title: Reckoning II

As Haneda Airport becomes the site of a fierce battle, Eri Shimanouchi remains inside a Witch's Labyrinth, temporarily safe but dangerously unaware. Fortunately for her, several Shepherds had remained nearby to watch her back, and now bar the path of her would-be assassins.


Homura Akemi, Kozue Kaoru, Kyouko Sakura, and Sayaka Miki


Haneda Airport

OOC - IC Date:

Fri Sept 7, 2018 - 05-19-2015

<Pose Tracker> Kyouko Sakura [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fx15s_HAkgU

Kyouko leans against the outer wall of a glowing staircase, sipping coffee from a camping thermos and listening quietly to the sturm and drang around them. Like a thunderstorm without the low static interruptions of rainfall, there is no mistaking the evening for a quiet night.

At one point metal screeches and hisses as all manner of odd crashes and careenings can be heard from a distant hallway, and with low eyes she glances sidelong at the considerable glass lining the windows and the airport's central elevator. But she does little more than drink her drink and scratch herself and sigh.

Homura's around. Somewhere. Working away in her quiet way, doing god knows what, god knows where. Kyouko knows from experience, how boring the anticipation before a battle can be, but that doesn't lessen the stillness or its malaise.

"Hey, Homura-chan. You gonna be finished with your hijinks before or after some hot head comes in swinging a sword? Not that I mind taking 'em on myself to mix things up..."

She glances off to the oily black that shouldn't be staining against the wall and bleeding off from its unnatural gash. A fight's one thing, but if they try making a run for Eri headlong...as boring as things might be now, a labyrinth's a bit too much excitement. Kyouko has taken part in such unholy foot chases before, and they are always more trouble than they're worth.

Is tonight really the night, at long last? When the waves break, in one way or another?

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Conturbatio - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSv72WXL4k8

There is a wall of iron at their backs, and Tsubasa Kazanari's will guarding it, but neither can hold back pursuit forever. Sayaka and Kozue course along the terminal floor, hastening to where Sayaka's soul gem senses a Labyrinth. Moonlight through tall glass walls guides their steps. The bloodstain Utena left on Sayaka's abdomen is black; only the glisten is crimson. Above it, Sayaka's jaw is tight, her eyes distant.

"We're close," she says at last. "I think... there."

Sayaka skims to a stop, her cape lifting in the direction she'd been going, before slowly settling again. Squinting into the dark, she lifts her eyes from floor to ceiling, several stories up. There's an elevator in the middle of this cylindrical area, surrounded by retro-futuristic rings of gleaming metal. Walkways above ring the area, serviced by a sleeping escalator. There are many places to hide in this shadow, and many angles to be attacked from. The entrance, Sayaka knows, is somewhere near the elevator.

There are several Shepherds still unaccounted for, including Shimanouchi's senpai. If they're here, Sayaka isn't sure if she hopes they are in the Labyrinth, where they can support Eri directly, or out here, where they can win simply by delaying tactics. She cannot control it, either way.

Eyes still ahead, Sayaka lifts her sword gently at her side, and touches it to the curved blade of Kozue's kusarigama. She holds it there, as though holding hands by proxy.

"Ready?" she asks softly.

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

Terminal 2 in Haneda International Airport: a circular edifice of glass and shining metal, a study in rings concentric and otherwise. Homura Akemi tilts her chin back to take in the curvature of architecture above and night beyond, and thinks how much this place reminds her of her apartment living room.

A closed and empty airport should be quiet. Haneda is anything but... But then, it is not as empty as it should be, either. The screeches of combat echo through closed kiosks and crashes rattle neat stacks of luggage tags onto the floor.

She hears Kyouko, and that smooth quiet voice floats a reply back from somewhere in the chamber -- it echoes just like the not-so-distant sounds of battle do. "Before."

A beat.

Homura's voice comes from above Kyouko, clear and direct. "As interesting a display as that would no doubt be..." She's on the staircase overhead, and her long black hair hair and henshin clothes are still, not mussed from sudden movement, even though there's no way she was there a moment before.

"You were right that it's not ending clean, but if it does, then it'll be time for you to consider what's next." A reference to a war discussion atop Dark Burger, and a flat look with violet eyes. She doesn't speak the name of the coming storm, but its complex syllables press on the air nonetheless.

First things first. She doesn't follow Kyouko's gaze to the Labyrinth's portal, but within the other half of Homura Akemi's Walpurgisnacht strategy fights for a Grief Seed and, though she doesn't know it yet, the fight for her life rages outside.

Homura does not say 'Be ready' to her spear-wielding ally -- Kyouko Sakura is counted an ally in part because of her savage competence. She just nods to the other girl with that serious affect of hers and turns to survey the rotunda.

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Over the Love - Florence and the Machine - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRMRKURIvTc

A key turns into a latch. The unlocks were unchanged. Heels slide off, not to be exchanged for house slippers. It's remarkable the things you notice in a place you once lived. Even for a short time. A paper bag lands on the counter as Kozue continues walking, not noticing the drained whiskey bottle. Eyes flitting to the stylish couch, she marches by to put the hand on the guest room door. Turning it gently, she delicately applies force and sends it open.

An empty bed.

Without dwelling on this... she moves to the second door.

Ambient light creeps into the room as she slides in like a wraith, pushing the door to being open just a crack behind her.

There's an impression on the bed, and a girl clinging to a yellow uniform. In her ears is a rhythm in time with the rise and fall of that girl's chest, punctuated by the sweet chime of a bell. There was something nostalgic about the sight.

A stuffed bluebird.


A garden.


Butterflies and milkshakes.


Summer Camp.

Kozue's lips part slightly as she leans over and lays her fingers on the blue hair just over her ear... a featherlight touch.

There's something possessive in her eyes... hazy... as she slowly lowers herself, her lips just above her ear.

The lips stop a micron from the small hairs of that ear - as if the rhythm were disrupted by a mistimed press of piano keys. Because past the blue filaments was that cream colored uniform.

Kozue's eyelashes flutter for a moment... before she straightens back up - withdraws her hand.

It feels like blue bleeds to yellow just before her eyes.

She doesn't know how long she stands there before she leaves soundlessly, taking the bag with her as she goes.


"No." Kozue Kaoru had been limping the whole way. Oh she could still jog, still move, still run. However they were lucky to make it out of that first battle and she knows it. She gives an answer that's perhaps not expected by the tomboyish girl.

Her expression is distant for a moment as her sickle touches the sword, before her eyes slide over to Sayaka. In it is that coquettishness she knows quite well.

Kozue Kaoru steps towards her and before Sayaka can react, lurches towards her in a kiss of frighteningly spontaneous passion even in this moment.

She won't say she's kissing her goodbye - because she's determined it would not be a goodbye kiss.

All the same she does it.

Her face suddenly sliding against hers in what the other girl might fear would be difficult given where they are right now.

However it stops abruptly, as Kozue slides the back of the arm holding the sickle over her lips, the motion of the arm taking it to touch the blade of Sayaka's sword anew with her arm. "Now I'm ready."

A sparkle of mischief enters into her eyes, "If that girl is watching us through a scope, she just got quite a show."

An unsentimental girl gives no sentimental words. Because between the blue and the yellow is the green.

She cannot stop her.

She'll fight to the end with her though.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Sayaka's becoming accustomed to getting her arm around Kozue's slim waist at moments like this. With her height advantage it might look like it's to support Kozue. It's rather the opposite.

Her eyes are wide. It's so like Kozue to kiss her here of all places, when it might get them both stabbed. Always reckless things. So unlike Sayaka. The same on the outside, the opposite on the inside.

But her eyes do at last close.

Blushing furiously, Sayaka gives Kozue a nod, rather than risk her shaky voice. She's a little less ready than she was a moment ago, but fear will clear that right up. Dragging the smooth flat of her sword against the side of Kozue's hand-sickle, Sayaka slowly reclaims her weapon, with a little clink of metal as the swordtip comes free.

"Stay with me," she says. "Whatever happens... we'll try to just run through it and get inside."

With a brief crouch, Sayaka launches herself headlong into the dark. Her white cape was never made for stealth; she glows in the moonlight. Zigging and zagging, she charts a course for the elevator.

<Pose Tracker> Kyouko Sakura [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5I0kn_SuaHI

Kyouko's thermos clangs to the ground, its dark contents spilling out as darkly on the ground as the congealed blood of Sayaka's injury. It is the only sound she makes as she leaps up..at the apex of her jump, a spear sprouts from the elevator shaft, a peg to launch her further heavensward.

At first she heard them. Now she can see them. Crouched low against a further spearstem near the apex of the cavernous terminal, she offers no particular expression from her perch. She doesn't move immediately, but pauses, waiting to see how they move...and she smiles in her leering feline way. Their gaits are not fully assured. They're injured...blood in the water.

There will be further blood yet.

~~SOUNDTRACK CHANGE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDkN7xV3Xe4 ~~

Kyouko drops, as silent as a swooping hawk, her talons outstretched...falling from the sky like a crimson comet, her hair blowing bright behind her in a wild, unkempt tail. As the oversized head of her spear glimmers in the bouncing light of the crystalline palace of glass, her eyes widen, rigid with coldly manic fury. Spears emerge from her spear like branches from a tree trunk, her staff becoming an umbrella of blades in its hunger for the red rain that shall dash upon its surface...if they're a little slow, a little late.

Blue...ever closer.

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> DJ Shadow - Strike One https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jv4Lh6c4DNk

The softer sounds of approach beneath the distant crashes do not escape Homura. Their prey step into the rotunda and they may as well vibrate the strands of the violet magi's web. She moves as Kyouko does, at near enough to the same moment as to be indistinguishable -- the prerogative of world-class reflexes reacting to the same stimulus.

She flips upward, another circle in the sky made of black streaming hair and tucked limbs, and when she snaps open again midair twin Deagles weigh down slender arms. Each has its own blue-haired target.

Homura Akemi burns as cold as her fellow predator runs hot, her mouth a line, her eyes shards of violet ice. She arcs as Kyouko drops, and her pistols bark twin welcomes to the intruders, muzzle flashes giving away her rapidly-changing position.

Pop-pop-pop-pop, four shots in quick succession, two bullets for each enemy. A pause, and then near the bottom of her leap she pops off one final shot at Sayaka Miki in particular, vicious punctuation.

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [None] has posed.
<Soundtracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYWTJOhmjGM

Kozue lags behind Sayaka's leap. Blooded herself, she can hardly help it as her loping gait has a slight limp. She's notably lagging behind, perhaps because her eyes are looking up - down, all around. If that girl has set up a sniper's next for real then all the due diligence in the world probably wouldn't save her but...

Instead her eyes cut sharply to the red shadow falling in the air. With no time to rotate it, she does a hop-step like a shot-putter about to toss their projectile. "Ha-"

And sends it out in a horizontal line - streaking across just overhead Sayaka for the twin blades on the weight to imbed into the elevator enclosure. "-cha."

Kyouko's umbrella spear of sharp razors meets the chain as she finds her spear - rather than herself abruptly clotheslined by the nigh-unbreakable strand in her way. As her strength and weight slams against it, the chain goes taut for only a moment as it strains against Kozue's arm - before she decides to give- letting go of it as she dashes forward.

It goes lax instantly, a singular spear razor caught in the chain link as the hunting Puella Magi swoops down to pin the chain to the airport floor. Perhaps not fully sparing her partner her wrath...

However even delaying Kyouko Sakura's wrath for a split second is a feat unto itself.

Homura Akemi might be delighted to see Kozue thus entirely undefended. No Element in hand as she aims off her deagle. Kozue has reached Sayaka Miki's cape as the first muzzle flash goes off, one, two...

And she barrels into her instinctively, planting a foot and using that motion to spin herself around Sayaka.

And far more deliberately uses her girlfriend as a human shield, feeling the first bullet thrum into her.

One - two...

Her Element dematerializes in a flash of light, then reappears instantly within her hands - her off-arm already rotating. Pitching it outward wildly, the weight ricochets off the opposite ring. Ricochets towards the inner...

Where it rebounds in what seems like an impossible geometry to then send the tethered weight spiralling in an attempt to intercept the violet Puella Magi in mid-air and knock her her fluid aerial arc...

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Decretum - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcgEHrwdSO4

Sayaka catches the glint of red metal from the corner of her eye, too late. Her best chance would have been to sprint fast and hope she could get out from underneath, but she doesn't realize what sort of abominable spear-forest Kyouko is dropping on her, and so she skids to a stop to try and come up short instead. She turns her blue eyes up in horror as she realizes her error... and then a silver chain streaks above her head.

Not waiting to see whether the umbrella can slip past, Sayaka backrolls away, coming up to her feet, sword in hand, eyes on Kyouko. Her lips are drawn, her face grim. It seems like the final confrontation between old friends is...

"Wha?" Sayaka yelps, as Kozue whirls around her. It's like the prelude to a dance. Just as she's turning her confused eyes down, though, two bullets strike her, one in the shoulder and one in the side. Understanding, Sayaka throws her stance wide, though she plants a hand on Kozue's elbow and backpedals them both to avoid unnecessary injury. "G-guess we're almost even for the kiss," she quips, and in the heat of battle perhaps it won't seem like Sayaka actually /does/ consider herself unworthy of kisses she doesn't somehow pay for.

That last shot hits Sayaka in the leg, dropping her to a knee. "Hhhh..." she grimaces. "Okay, now we're even."

Closing her eyes tightly, Sayaka draws herself back, back, narrowing her senses. When she opens them, the wounds are gone to her. If they remain on her body, well. That is her body's problem. The subtle shyness behind her banter with Kozue seems nowhere in her hollowed-out eyes, or the depraved curl of her lip.

Bounding forward, Sayaka plants a boot on the lowest of Kyouko's spear-branches and launches herself laterally to another. Dancing back and forth, her forward progress unpredictable and lurching, she hops on the upside-down spear umbrella as if it were a jungle gym. With deceptive speed she climbs, leap by leap, and greets Kyouko with a high sweeping kick, followed by a blade. She tries to stay near her rival, to keep that spear from holding her at bay, wild slashes boxing her in.

"Don't get tied up!" she calls. They aren't here for Kyouko and Homura, and if indeed Kozue and Sayaka could even beat them, they don't have time to waste.

<Pose Tracker> Kyouko Sakura [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuphOxBX8YI

Kyouko's nest of needles has become quite a tangled contraption by the time it nears landfall..but a single silver strand manages to stay its passage. Snarling mass of tooth and nail as it is, it remains a deadly tumbleweed, but with none of its speed it is largely inert. But not useless, as she soon sees...

But before Sayaka turns her touch against her as her means of ascent, Kyouko is treated to the sight of Kozue Kaoru whirling Sayaka Miki around like a bullfighter's cape, catching Homura's furious horns headlong. She understands the maneuver immediately. Sayaka's rapid healing will better bear the brunt of the bullets, if not nullify the vicious little shards completely. Such an act required understanding and trust, and a certain cold capacity in the heat of the moment. Kyouko respects that, and Kozue rises in her estimation for it.

There is no time to pore over such thoughts though. Kyouko continues to fall...and as it seems, Sayaka sees fit to climb. For a moment she considers dissipating her construction entirely, but thinks better. She seeks Sayaka's blood. If her estranged friend wants to bring it to her, then all's well in the world. Whistling loudly to nobody in particular, she grins wide and wolfish, casting her hand at the umbrella, urging it to grow further still, splintering off into all manner of odd angles and abutments.

Kyouko catches the kick on her cheek, but leans into its momentum, turning in a half circle and deflecting Sayaka's sword with her own heel, catching her hands upon an errant spearshaft to leap back towards her opponent. If Sayaka thinks Kyouko is uncomfortable at close range, she is due for a corrective reminder. Rather than attempting to slip out of the cutting corridor of Sayaka Miki's blades, she leans in closer, tiny spears more closely resembling daggers appearing in her hands, more speartips sprouting from her body like a sea urchin's spines. Her entire body twists and contorts, slashing and stabbing like a frenzied animal.

"I'll tie you up alright...give us a hug, won'tcha..."

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Unkle - Guns Blazing (Drums of Death pt 1) instrumental https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FeevAGG1-o

Homura doesn't really... /do/ delight. If her eyes narrow ever so fractionally to spy a clear-seeming shot at Aohime's already-clipped wing, then call that anticipation.

The bullets strike an enemy, but thanks to a bit of battlefield ballet they don't strike the most advantageous enemy. A clean strike on an injured Kozue might have taken the girl out of the fight early, which was never going to be the case for Sayaka Miki. Homura catches the curling of lip, the deadening of eye.

More firepower is required.

More is required /right now/ as the weighted end of Kozue's kusarigama takes an improbable path straight for Homura. Deagles fill her palms. Homura is fast, improbably fast, but not fast enough to reach her shield (nor to privately admire the chaotic geometry of Kozue's shot, maybe later).

Quicker to pull the trigger already under her finger.

She takes split-second aim and fires with the right Deagle over and over. Sparks shower the airport floor between Homura and Kozue as bullets whine off the incoming kusarigama end. They lessen its deadly speed but don't deflect the metal weight and it takes her on the upper arm -- she spins once, rather than like a top, and disappears from view immediately after without making a sound.

In greyscale Homura grabs her dangling arm and closes her eyes. Violet flares around the limb -- there is a crackling sound -- she makes a quiet "ngh" and flexes her fingers.

Restored, they are more than capable of supporting a belt-fed machine gun, as she demonstrates upon her immediate reappearance atop one of the central glass-encased elevators where it slumbers, two floors up. From there she can see the converging violence of red and blue, and privately wishes Kyouko happy hunting. "No swan, Kaoru?"

She lets the machine gun speak for a bit, rat-tat-tat-tat-tat, before she takes up her next question, although with any luck the other girl is in no shape to answer.

"Afraid to let her get into my sights again, after last time? How many pieces was she in?"

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

"Hardly." Kozue says in reply to the quip in a tone which sounds equally bratty and arrogant, "You're never going to be able to balance /that/ checkbook while you're dating Aohime." Are her kisses worth so much that it validates Sayaka's unworthiness or is it that she's simply planning to kiss her that much and play this reckless with her health all the time?

Both thoughts perhaps might be equally inspirational to her girlfriend.

Ordinarily she'd be worried about her girlfriend climbing up to face Kyouko Sakura. Right now though fighting monstrously powerful Puella Magi though she can't allow herself to worry too much. Instead she has to be worried about Homura's projectiles knocking her weight out of the sky. Yanking back her arm, she allows it to ricochet back, trying to control it's suddenly wild flight enough to redirect it back towards her-

Only to face down the barrel of a machine gun. Fortunately her speech was a warning. People often talk before they shoot after all. This time instead of using Sayaka as a shield, she whips up her rotating chin to use it like a helicopter blade in front of her. The whirling flash deflects a few of the bullets... "What's wrong Akemi?" Only a few though. Enough of the spray still slips through to her detriment. One slides between the momentary gaps to fly by her shoulder. Another by her hip. Another her calf. And then one enters her shoe. Her body spasms as she nearly staggers to a knee. Struggling to keep her weight on that leg.

"Worried that you haven't cottoned on to all of my tricks after all?"

Right now it was mostly bluster. This isn't working. It doesn't feel like she can take on Homura Akemi all by herself in the open. Especially without using her Child However she realizes something... if she stays near Sayaka...

The world's deadliest hedgehog tells her all she needs to know. Homura Akemi was at a disadvantage if she had to avoid hitting her partner.

From her low center of gravity, she breaks into a sprint, allowing the weight to fall to the ground as it trails behind her. And leaps to the flank of her girlfriend.

BGM Change: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVzvBaxsM6Y

Kozue allows herself to get caught within the shadow of her swirling cloak. Flitting in and out of its flapping movements she's like a girl on halloween wearing the most gallant of ghost costumes. "You know better than that Sayaka-"

Catching Sayaka by the arm, their asynchronous movements before now begin to move in their own rhythm - "-I'm not the kind of girl that lets herself get tied down by anyone but you!" -she pivots her about like in the movements of a dance to briefly trade places in the corridor, moving in for a low sickle slice that trades a few spines piercing into her already savaged top.

She tries to aim a puncturing slice to perforate the dancing partner she just cut in on. "Besides you're going to make me jealous if you accept-" She offers wryly even as several small lacerations are torn across her. "-that much of Sakura's 'love'."

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

First the human shield bit, now the flirting. Whose side is Kozue really on?

Sayaka wasn't expecting Kyouko to match her aggression, and ends up teetering on one of the spear hafts, overbalanced. She has no time to properly check behind her, so she just jumps backwards and glances while she goes, luckily managing to snag a new foothold. The two stalk each other around, hopping from pole to pole, Sayaka's single sword greatly overtaxed. With two spear-daggers and numerous unholy appendages lashing out at her like scorpion tails, it's all she can do to keep up her parries at first. When she does strike back, it costs her a cut.

"Wish I had that bat with me," Sayaka reminisces distantly to Kyouko. Then, springing in to the pole right next to Kyouko, she forces herself to hold the engagement this time. She promises herself not to back off until she's drawn Kyouko's blood in return.

And perhaps at some point she does. Sayaka is a nerve-dead monster, though Kyouko is at least presently spared her berserk state. She doesn't so much as flinch when she's cut, though the damage is true. She's able to use hits Kyouko scores as openings for /herself/ because of this. But overall, she is no match for Kyouko's raw combat ability, even now. She is slashed up, pummeled, her defenses hammered, her counterattacks rapidly punished. In a frustrated fury, Sayaka lets herself take a slash so she can decapitate some of the spears Kyouko is using, sending their hydra-heads spinning off into the gloom. But it overbalances her, and the pole she's standing on leans back until it rips from the floor, toppling.

Quick-witted, Sayaka hurls her current sword at the pole Kyouko is standing on the moment she feels her balance failing, severing it and denying Kyouko its immediate leverage. She hits the ground with a woof, tumbling ankles-over-head and pushing herself to her feet with a hand. It is there that Kozue catches her up, twining between her cape. Injured and panting, Sayaka nonetheless straightens instinctively. They both know their roles in combat by now. Sayaka protects Kozue by defending, Kozue protects Sayaka by attacking. And Kyouko Sakura is about to learn it.

The moment Kozue's attack is through, Sayaka rotates through, parrying fiercely, overcommitting on purpose. Kozue will be covering for her too, after all.

"That's really distracting!" Sayaka tells Kozue, but she doesn't seem angry. In fact, she and Kozue seem nearly perfectly in tune. There are flaws here and there, little dissonances; Sayaka has not been teamed up with Kozue as long as she was with Mami. But where Sayaka and Mami were all contrasts, Kozue and Sayaka seem like twins right now, two short-haired blue girls at one piano. They step through one another's limbs easily even wounded. Their attacks can be more fierce, their defenses more thorough. Sometimes they separate enough to attack at the same time, battering at Kyouko's spears from left and right at once, capitalizing on wherever she chooses to commit. They try to bully Kyouko into standing between them and Homura too, to force her to come into range.

Maybe Kyouko and Homura are stronger than Sayaka and Kozue. But are they a stronger team?

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

Leave it to a spray of thirty-some projectiles to do the job a few couldn't manage; accuracy by volume, and if only a percentage of them make it through the screen of whirling chain then it is still a percentage of machine gun bullets. Kozue asks what's wrong, and the inexorable way Homura's lack of expression fails to change has its way of conveying that in this moment, not much is wrong in her world.

It's a good plan, grouping up near Kyouko Sakura to try and force the melee-shy Homura Akemi closer. After all, they've seen how heavily she relies on explosives, and how poorly she engaged in teamwork with Mikoto Minagi. What neither they nor this Kyouko Sakura know is how well red and violet worked as a team once upon a timeline or five ago.

Homura remembers.

She steps through a frozen second and into a slender gap between bristling spears, to emerge into a dubious safe spot behind Kyouko Sakura's left elbow she learned through shared battles that have now never happened, that she erased. "Get clear," she whispers into the spearmaiden's ear, a shadow within a forest of violence.

<Pose Tracker> Kyouko Sakura [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CP0Ks3ecOj8&t=135s

Kyouko strikes hard and fast, a one girl swarm of killer hornets dive bombing their chosen prey. She has little choice. Where Sayaka sees a Hydra's heads in the many woesome pricks tapping for her veins, Kyouko finds a corollary in the way pale flesh restitches itself from red to white in mere moments. Only overwhelming savagery can overtake the blue baroness' regenerative capacity, and Kyouko considers herself equal to the task. Still, for as well as she leads the momentum of the fight, even if she strikes Sayaka three times to her enemy's one, those cuts will linger on Kyouko for far longer.

"Haven't you figured it yet? That bat's never led you to anything but trouble."

Can Sayaka see? The crimson rivulets among the scarlet of Kyouko's dress?

But then, is there any bit of Kyouko's blood that could satiate her, short of the whole can? Sayaka is wise to match brutality with brutality, and in short order their dance comes more and more to resemble two bloodied boxers, slugging each other again and again.

Sayaka falls, and a spear is at once in Kyouko's hands. Comfortable though she is at the close range, her weapons are better suited for the mid. But before she can clear the gap with a lacquered lance, her own footing is made a puff of splinters. No matter. As Sayaka falls, Kyouko falls with her..but Kozue's sudden presence is an unexpected distraction.

Catching a sickletooth in her ribs, she grunts in pain and irritation, surprised that this.../model/...had weaved through Homura's net. Kyouko had heard the bullets well enough, there was no mistaking the tightness of her ally's weave. And yet here her quarry whirls and whirls, spinning as a half of a greater whole.

"Well..looks like I get to gobble you both up after all!" The knives are back in her hands, and a pair more sprout from the tips of her boots. Her hair whips wildly about, tossing in the air as her body dances itself into a storm, kicking and cutting, growing spines and stingers as quickly as they are severed, guiding the very beams of her umbrella's construction to twist down as brambles and strangle off her prey.

But despite her efforts, the two are more than a match for her designs. The momentum that she had claimed starts to slip from her grasp by the moment..and in this tangle she supposes that Homura's guns will do little good. Kyouko finds herself attacking less and defending more...and more...

And then there is a voice in her ear, behind her and to the left, nestled just off from her lessor hand. She recognizes it at once, and takes its import to heart. "Get clear"? That much she can manage.

Six spears sprout from the ground beenath her, twisting amongst one another into a tight braid, hopefully weaved too strongly together to be so easily cut. They do not strike, but grow and grow, scaling up in parallel with the elevator...and carry Kyouko with them. In her wake, she casts a hand down, spraying a hailstorm of blades to cover her escape.

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> BT - Smartbomb https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zcchxjsw29g

Homura Akemi did not enter the deadly reach of Kyouko Sakura's arms without having her finger upon the flywheel within her silvery shield, and as soon as the warning leaves her lips she spins it once more. Among other things, it is a much safer bet to navigate Sakura's thorny aura when it is not in vicious motion.

Efficiency ever in mind -- power unspent is power hoarded -- she dashes through the sudden quiet of the time stop, regaining distance across the airport floor while pulling pins and lobbing grenades.

Homura has a killer arm now that she's fixed her frail, useless body, and she's aiming right for the blue couple and their... admittedly aggravating togetherness. Halfway through their arcs the explosives slide into the timestream again, having left her influence. Three grenades and thirty meters later she releases her grip on time's forward flow.

She reappears mid-pirouette, sable swallowtail and grey ribbons twirling. Sometimes confirming results is just too important to walk away from one's own explosions, and Sayaka Miki and Kozue Kaoru both have earned this respect from her. Grenades arc in, and the spears bear their maiden clear, more results she needed to check. Her chin lowers in the red magi's direction.

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

"You call it a distraction -" Despite their sudden momentum it's still a desperate battle for survival. Though right now they seem to be doing a good job of it in their two part harmony. It's a duet in concert, the kind of duet she always wanted. The two are equals within it.

They cover for each other in the music they're making in this savage song of battle.

"-I call it incentive."

There's a mysterious flash behind Kyouko. Blink and you might miss that black hair. What was Homura doing back there?

Which is why as Kyouko steps upon her tight braid of conjured spheres Kozue backpeddles suddenly, "Bomb!" She expects that one was planted in the interim, like a gambit to replace Kyouko's position with it.

Swiping her sickle in the air as she tries to intercept part of the spear hail. A razor plants into her arm as she mistimes the swipe.

And then she notes her error. In the form of three black shapes sailing far too close to her position for comfort.

With too little time to react - all she has time for is to speak a single word.


<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Briefly Sayaka sees Homura appear at Kyouko's side. Then, almost before she knows it, Kyouko is erupting into the air. Sayaka was about to test just how swordproof the fasces Kyouko summoned really are, when she catches sight of three round objects sailing towards her.

Instinct takes over instantly. You don't have time to think when a fastball's coming in. The bat may have led Sayaka to trouble, but it is about to repay its debt.

Shifting her hips and shoulders into batting position, Sayaka catches her sword-hilt midway through the swing and nails the first grenade with a loud snapping clang. Her sword breaks from hitting such a hard ball on a point it wasn't meant to bear weight on, but the grenade goes sailing out towards the upper level.

She might have just gaped at her approaching death, then. But Kozue's little word activates a different instinct.

Turning with her momentum, Sayaka tackles Kozue head-on, laying her out hard and landing atop her with a thump. Her forearms bracket Kozue's shoulders, her head tucks to protect Kozue's. And she closes her eyes. It is time again for it to hurt.

Sayaka had fortunately gotten the best-laid grenade, but the other two aren't exactly too far away. The concussion crunches into Sayaka's back, punching her into Kozue, and the shards pepper her cape, some dissuaded from her skin, many not.

Sayaka is permanently deaf in one ear, except for the fact that Puella Magi Sayaka isn't permanently anything. Certainly she can't hear anything right now. Her head pounds, her body aches. She's ringing like a tuning fork.

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

As Sayaka Miki lunges at her and takes her to the floor. It is a split second in time where she is braced against her. Pressed against her. Her strong arms bracing her. Her stronger back protecting her. The bevy of explosives erupting with concussive force. Loud enough that her ears are ringing and forceful enough that even through her girlfriend it feels like her skeleton has liquefied.

Fortunately it only /feels/ that way.

In the cloud of smoke after, the girl mouths something at her. Kozue shunts herself off of her and puts a hand down, trying to mouth it again as the smoke wafts all around her.

Putting her hands together, she offers her a boost. Leaning forward, her lips brush against the other girl's just faintly, in a kiss that lasts a split second.

She wishes - it could be longer.

Soon enough a shape leaps out of the smoke as Kozue shouts far too loudly, "Go get her!"

Who is she throwing her at? Homura Akemi? Kyouko Sakura?

Neither. It was a feint. Or perhaps not so much a feint - since 'her' is 'neither' of them. The maimed girl is hurled towards the elevator, as she's thrown ahead like a gallant streak of white and blue. Can one be gallant while on a quest for vengeance? Kozue thinks she's pulling it off marvelously.

She would prefer to do it together. /This/ together. However she understands how deeply personal this is for Sayaka. The feelings she has for Mami Tomoe are unequal to hers by orders of magnitude.

The greatest gift she can do for her is to send her ahead and hold these two off. A feat which seems impossible, a heroic sacrifice.

Who ever claimed Kozue was the heroic type though?

Kozue says a simple phrase, "Do it Cassandra." There is no summoning image. Indeed it is not a summoning, it is a calling. That difference might seem semantic when it's a Child like Kagutsuchi that expresses its power within its own merits from the moment of its summoning like Kagutsuchi with flames can consume a creator Goddess or Miroku who might shatter the ground with Obsidian Spikes.

It is not semantic at all.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Sayaka stumbles up to her hands and knees with Kozue's help, feeling inebriated. She squints, trying to understand what Kozue's saying. Shaking her head, she tries to speak herself--I can't hear you...--and gets a brief kiss on the lips instead. Blinking, she reaches for Kozue's face, and clumsily touches her cheek, reading Kozue's eyes rather than her lips.

Then, sealing herself off even from the sensation of Kozue's skin, Sayaka manages to clear her head enough to rise, and plant a boot into Kozue's palms. Even she doesn't realize where Kozue's helping her jump until too late.

Entering a Labyrinth can be anticlimatic. Sayaka leaps right through, and suddenly everything about the world bristles, glistens, or shivers. The blue moonlight is replaced by a nauseating glow of maroon. It feels like everything is laughing at her.

Slowly, Sayaka turns around, to face the spotted wall she just passed through. Laying her hand on it, she finds it as she expected. Solid.

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

This Child is not patient. She is temptuous, savage, furious, spiteful. She suits her HiME so well.

She has been waiting for far too long. The light of the moon illuminates her as she floats within a second sea - wisps of clouds floating across it like fog.

And then she hears her name. She does not fall - terminal velocity is not swift enough. She rides.

And the second sea she has been gathering on high is her vehicle.

It happens nigh instantaneously. The roof of the edge of the terminal disintegrates with a gleam of avian silver, every floor beneath it erupting simultaneously and there is the sensation of suffocating drowning and turbulent twisting and tossing. One might mistake it as an attack coming from below. They would be wrong though.

This violence is from on high. Take the worst kind of tornado, a columnar vortex that descends downwards from the heaven - except fill it with seawater. A twisting spiral that feels like the wrath of an angry sea goddess, or many acting in concert.

The colossal waterspout pounds with the fury of the worst of sea storms. The boundaries of the funnel is a chaotically shifting cylinder where the elevator seems just seems tauntingly - teasingly out of bounds - just beyond the outer edge. Not that one can even see it through the great quantity of violently swirling water.

What one can see besides 'water' are the debris of the gift shops, the storefronts, and the food stands from within. From without are commercial airliners and jet bridges that are being savaged right now as they twisting and groaning under the strain until they'd be inevitably crushed beneath their own wait.

The flash of silver disappears once it reaches near the bottom to pluck it's HiME out of her the chaotic forces she's summoned. Before surfacing less elegantly and more roughly to ride up using its twisting currents of the inside of the funnel that's heading straight for the sky. The forces at work here drawing all caught within up - and up out of the shattered airport.

Homura and Kyouko will soon have to find a smaller piece of debris of their own as their refuge to ride upwards... because larger pieces of stonework and tile, shafts of commercial airliners, they're all splitting and their weight making them obstacles within this storm Kozue has created.

And to those who fall, they soon find that the only route terrible currents allow is back within. Like the animating force was preventing succor by escape only allowing their way up.

The oceanwater churns with ear-splitting din. Yet they still might hear a smug statement faintly...

BGM Change: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cxvx0JBOf-c

"I know I can't possibly win against the two of you. I don't have to though..."

HiME and Child do not try to attack them within their plight, they simply try to zip ahead within the spiral. After all, even in the midst of this, the two could rally to defeat her easily in the midst of a head on collision within her favored battleground.

She does not intend to allow them the opportunity, she's fleeing ahead of them at top speed, with a Child that is well acclimated to this environment. A silver speedboat that's taking her skyward, light reflecting off it like a rapidly spinning strobe.

"I just have to delay you with style. See you at the top!"

Awash at an ocean that extends upwards to the sky, debris falling from the heavens... it is at the very least, an impressive effort for an impressive diversion.

Few would guess that it is powered by the affection she holds for the girl outside of it. The whole expression of power thus is more than a diversion isn't it? It is an impressive expression of feeling for an important someone in her world...

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

Did that girl really just... /bat/ away one of her grenades? The endlessly frustrating jock earns a cross angling of fine eyebrows from Homura Akemi, though it's hard to say whether Sayaka will notice mid-tackle.

THUD-THUDTHUD and the terminal rotunda convulses like a shocked heart.

Grenadefire reflections bloom in Homura's large dark eyes; glass shards rain down around the girl in all her lethal stillness, the bounty of her deflected grenade. Debris billows, stealing confirmation for crucial seconds.

Homura Akemi is good at trajectories, and Kozue's vocal feint only fools a short time; the trajectory of one infuriatingly intact Sayaka Miki doesn't track to either herself or Kyouko Sakura. She's reaching for her shield, but Sayaka's already--

And Eri doesn't know. Homura's hand clenches to a fist. She'll go in after, then. Warn the green magi. There's still time--

Ah. So that's where the swan has been.

The torrent takes Haneda and it takes everything with it, swallowing the Labyrinth entrance in killing turbulence. It's still down there, submerged, but it might as well be on the moon for all that Homura Akemi can reach it now. No amount of stopping time will remove her need to breathe air.

Besides, she's preoccupied with surviving the churn of Cassandra's vortex. The severed wing of a 747 chops past like a great white executioner's blade, barely missing Homura. She attaches to a passing hunk of newstand and surfs the vortex, battered and drenched -- the most icily elegant half-drowned cat you ever did see.

She squints through the spray beneath water-plastered black bangs. First she seeks her fellow huntress through the drench. Surely Kyouko Sakura has survived, but in what shape?

Then she seeks the water witch on high with violet eyes that finally express real anger. "You can't hold us off forever, Kaoru," she calls, "and then we're going through you on our way to her." It's Homura's turn for false confidence. Technically true -- Kozue and Cassandra can't hold them off forever. They might very well be able to hold them off long enough, though.

Long enough for Sayaka Miki to hunt down a Witch-occupied Eri and savage her.

She pulls another Deagle out with the hand not whiteknuckling her flotsam and takes hopeless aim through the fury of the conjured storm. Homura Akemi's existence is predicated, among other more important things, upon not giving up.

<Pose Tracker> Kyouko Sakura [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XVRS-cVJXk

Of all of them, Kyouko is the last to glean the nature of Homura's explosive gifts. Her makeshift elevator was meant to preclude such necessities. Who cares what the danger consists of, so long as she's far away from it..

But it seems their counterparts are more comfortable with chaos than Kyouko had anticipated. Amidst the explosions, their would be moment of triumph, Kozue Kaoru seizes upon the uncertainty roiling fate's tapestry to launch Sayaka Miki like a blue headed bowling ball, straight down the one alley the spearfighter had meant to defend all along. Kyouko's face contorts in a snarl from her high perch. She leaps forward from her rising ascendancy, flinging an articulated spear-length like a grappling hook. She can feel it bite into the wall, and she tugs...

And then the water comes, and it's all she can do to hang on.

For a moment she thought she might fight the tide. Folly, folly. The floods come with rapid rage, and it is beyond her. Perhaps if she squandered all of her strength she might yank against the rising sea, but that is not fate's course forward. She is being funneled in a particular direction, and sees fit to lean in towards her short term destiny. Better to stem the tide than to fight against its rise.

She merely has to disable that girl, by means of negotiable permanence. Then the waters will recede.

Her knuckles bulge alabaster in their grip, still tenuously clinging to the growing length of chain tethering her to the labyrinth's maw. She is undecided as to its fate. Shall she cling to it all the while, and fight with one hand? Shall she abandon its prospects, and claw back that lost territory when the fight's won? Spears knit around her like little branches, forming a crude boogie board. Her spare arm clings to it, her hair clinging to her body.

There isn't much time. Eri needs her.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Sayaka leaves her hand on the wall for a while, hoping to feel the vibrations of battle. There is not the slightest disturbance; all the chaos outside has disappeared from reality altogether.

The ringing in her ear is getting higher and higher pitched, until Sayaka slaps the lobe as though a wasp had landed. When she peels her palm away, the ringing is gone, her eardrum sealed. A bullet is working its way out of her thigh, and numerous spear wounds and fragmentation tears are sealing themselves gradually.

"Kozue," Sayaka whispers mournfully. First Tsubasa... at least she had the Chevaliers to protect her from death, if not from anything else. But Kozue is all alone, now. Sayaka touches her lips briefly with her free hand, but there is no lingering sensation this time. She closes her eyes tightly.

Then, turning, Sayaka removes a grief seed from her cape, pressing it to her navel. Despite the best efforts of the Chevaliers and Kozue, maintaining Mami's hunting grounds the way Mami would have wanted has kept Sayaka on subsistance, and this is her last one.

No matter. There's a certain finality to that that Sayaka finds satisfaction in. She doesn't expect to have time to use another anyway, in the upcoming battle.

Sayaka lifts her head to gaze into the Labyrinth. The battle behind is sealed away. She is all alone now.