2018-10-04 - Reckoning V

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Reckoning V

Continued from Reckoning I, Chevaliers and Shepherds alike struggle to reach Sayaka and Eri in time... and fail. Instead of fighting to penetrate the depths of the airport, they are forced to desperately escape it instead, as it collapses into a labyrinth around them. Then they run across the group from Reckoning IV.


Sayaka Miki, Lera Camry, Endo Naoki, Utena Tenjou, Kasagami Araki, Nori Ankou, Mikoto Minagi, Setsuna Meioh, Yumi Ohzora, Tsubasa Kazanari, Kozue Kaoru, Madoka Kaname, Homura Akemi, Eri Shimanouchi


Haneda Airport

OOC - IC Date:

10/5/2018 - 05-19-2015

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Haneda Airport +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
  Built at the juncture of Tama River and Tokyo Bay, Haneda launches its        
  planes over the water. Its control towers command a view of a landing strip   
  that seems to have ambitions of becoming a bridge across the sea, jutting as  
  it does against the bay, surrounded by a rectangle of bright green grass.     
  As each of its three terminals was built about a decade apart, they have      
  different styles. Terminal 1, deemed 'Big Bird,' is the oldest, and has       
  rounded, boxy construction, with an interior similar to an opulent gold-hued  
  shopping mall. Terminal 2 features wavy, cylindrical architecture, and its    
  mall is sleek silver. Terminal 3, the newest, has a downward-curving roof     
  that swoops weightlessly toward the sky, and a more businesslike, modern      
  interior. All three feature numerous restaurants and amenities, including     
  some oddly traditional-looking eateries, though Terminal 3 has a tendency to  
  turn into a ghost town at night.                                              
  One of the busiest airports in the world, Haneda is also one of the most      
  orderly and punctual. It handles domestic flights, while its sister outside   
  the city, Narita, handles foreign flights. The recently opened Terminal 3,    
  however, has taken some international traffic, mostly from Asia. There is a   
  lesser-known fourth terminal, as well, that handles VIP traffic away from     
  prying eyes.                                                                  
COMBAT: Setsuna Meioh transforms into Sailor Pluto!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi transforms into HiME Mikoto!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki transforms into Crimson Rose Duelist!
COMBAT: Nori Ankou transforms into La Sirene de Diamant!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou transforms into Revolutionary Girl Utena!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki transforms into Barrier Jacket Aufprall!
COMBAT: Lera Camry transforms into Barrier Jacket Perihelion!
<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.


  • Kozue ferreted out Eri's Haneda Airport Witch-hunting schedule
  • Michiru warned Eri that she would be in danger at a place where air met water, so on her next trip to Haneda, Eri asked the Shepherds to come along
  • Sayaka, Kozue, and Tsubasa (henceforth Blue Crue) laid an ambush at Haneda
  • Nori Ankou had been watching for Sayaka to enter Eri's territory. Seeing that she had, she called on the Chevaliers to intervene
  • Blue Crue attacked the Shepherds, suddenly and forcefully. But to the surprise of all, the Chevaliers largely interposed themselves to protect the Shepherds
  • Combat fragmented into numerous shifting duels, with the Chevaliers alternately defending Sayaka and trying to stop her (to "save" her from murdering Eri).

Endo wasn't too worried about stopping Sayaka, though... he guarded her back against Yumi, saving her mission of revenge.

  • Kozue betrayed Nori, Judas-style. Mikoto just barely refrained from finishing Nori off.
  • Tsubasa fought Pluto and Kasagami at the same time, getting into trouble quickly. When Lera intervened to protect her, Kasagami accidentally stabbed her.
  • Utena fought Sayaka, possibly saving Yumi's life. Tormented, Sayaka stabbed her good friend in the stomach and left her bleeding.
  • Tsubasa, seeing Blue Crue would not be able to prevail, created a gigantic wall of a sword which bisected the terminal, covering Sayaka and Kozue's escape. Then she set to guarding that wall.


The battle continues, traversing a maze of loyalties and motives...

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

Lera doesn't collapse when Kasagami strikes her, but she certainly doesn't stay standing. The blade tears into her side -- not through her, but a quick move of Soaring Sky and Kasagami's targeting Tsubasa's knees stopped that. There is a shower of sparks, as Kasagami's blade meets the Device-sword -- ancient steel against alien alloy, and neither breaks or is broken.

But Kasagami's sword still strikes. It slams into her side, cutting through and leaves a bloody gash. She is knocked backward, by the force of it, and comes to a knee. Her breath is hard; her eyes are wide, for a moment. She spares a brief glance for Tsubasa, but only a brief one.

She looks at Yumi, too -- standing in front of her protectively, as she takes a knee. Lera's teeth grit together; there is a trickle of blood coming from a split lip, and comparatively, much more blood from her side. It stains her white shirt red. She forces herself, slowly, to her feet.

"I'm all right, Ohzora," she patently lies. There is a flash along her side; Broken Ground leaves a barrier there, compressing the wound for the time.

She stands, then swings her sword out in front of herself -- defensively, standing her ground between Tsubasa, Kasagami, and the rest.

"I'm... I'm going to do my very best to stop anyone else from getting hurt!"

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.

Endo comes free from his prison of vines with a wince, wiggling and tugging himself free as Yumi's vines fade and wither. He pushes up from his knee, using his weapon as a crutch, leaning against the flat side of the massive blade as he rights himself.

<NOW. ATTACK.> Warbles Fallen Stern, crossguard pulsing with light.

Endo does not. There's a flash of worry as Yumi moves toward the downed Lera, but it's soon clear that she's trying to help, not hurt. Endo's eyes flash across the battlefield, toward the wall of swords, then his other allies. "Utena-san!" The pink-haired girl's plight is just as worrying as his other friend's, and he quickly sprints across the gap between the two.

He skids to a stop near where the girl has fallen, calling, "Utena-san! Are you alright?" There's a raw note of concern in his voice as he kneels to inspect his fellow Chevalier. He doesn't have any magic to fix this, but he can at least stand watch to make sure no more injury comes to his ally.

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Utena stirs slightly, and coughs softly -- which, despite the lightness of the hitch in her chest, sends paroxysms of pain coursing visibly down her torso and into her legs, which are curled up beneath her.

Ah, that cough was a name. "E-endo," she said. "...yo."

Yeah. Sup.

Slowly opening the eye that isn't facing the floor, the room is bluer for it, but there's another color that's on the upswing, too. Utena's hand, which has been pressed to her torso, releases carefully and reaches for Endo's. As always, she's wearing that cute pink-and-white rose signet ring, but right now it's pink and white and red all over.

"Hunh," she grunts gamely, after a moment of painful-looking straining, "Mind giving a girl a hand up?" This might not be a good idea, but it's not like she can stay here forever, either. Noticing the blood on her outstretched hand, she frowns in a vague, sleepy way and offers him her other, cleaner hand instead.

The first hand returns to the general vicinity of her stomach.

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

Combat is chaotic in the best of situations, and now is not the best of situations. Kasagami's attention is drawn to several different places, but the most prominent is the girl that she's sunk that sword into.

The shock of Lera's skilled and sudden interposition between Tsubasa and herself has her following that sword through, just enough that the difference in angles forces the tip to scrape not only the Device but also slashing along the ground. Her good eye shoots to it's refracted twin only recently faded away, then back to Lera.

She lets out a breath, and grits her teeth. She briefly flinches as Yumi calls out. "She got in the w..." The feeble excuse dies on her lips. A spike of guilt goes through her, toes curling briefly in her boots. She tries to look away from Yumi with dignity, but there's a spark of shame in her eye that she can't quite help, nor really understand. Not now.

And definitely not enough to immediately lash out. "What did I tell you before!? Of course you're going to get hurt if you defend an enemy like her!" But she doesn't ready her blade again, not while Yumi's so near Lera. It seems the Witch's words carry weight in Kassie's soul.

Her concern for Pluto, too, is heavy in her mind and she's ready to check on her love as Tsubasa's massive blade forms, the mechanical steel wall, only for the Symphogear to draw a second. Her eye twitches. She's tired, there's sweat running down her brow. She can't see everywhere at once, and so it looks like Kasagami missed the results of the clash between Utena and Sayaka for the moment. Her focus remains on Tsubasa. Can they get through that massive obstruction as they are!?

Blade gripped in both hands, she is only a step in front of Sailor Pluto.

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHHmqYrRvW8

Nori Ankou's world is pain.

Some of this was from the past. She came here to try to stop her precious friend from doing an unthinkable crime. She had no alternative, no different scheme. There was little she could do save hope that Sayaka's ardor for the succulent blood of Eri Shimanouchi would ease, and that hope is gone. Now, indeed, she can smell blood. Perhaps it was all in vain, and Haneda airport would see what Tokyo proper did not: The death of knights and chivalry.

Some of this is from the present. Kozue loved Sayaka, didn't she? Didn't she want to protect Sayaka? It is an innocent perception, and perhaps there are still rosy tints between Nori's eyes and that which is the Blue Princess.

Some of this is also because she broke two floating ribs and had several large diamonds ground through the soft tissues of her abdomen into her liver.

Honestly, it's probably - in the majority, this moment - the last one. That will fade, of course. The others won't.

Distantly she hears the words of an enemy, a hand on her arm.

Every muscle and bone in la Sirene's body, every nerve and blood-vessel, every centimeter of skin and every secondary organ wants to collapse and to curl up and to cry and cry and cry until the tears wash away everything and she swoons or she dies. She can hear a distant sea in her ears. She doesn't feel like she's dying, she feels like she's dying but conscious of it. She coughs weakly once. Her eyes open, glittering with thirteen colors.

no, Nori tells herself, not when Utena's over there bleeding. no, la Sirene tells herself, not when Sayaka's still out there. (no, she tells herself, not while Kozue's getting away with this.) (NO, she tells herself, I am not this person)

(I am not the person who collapses now!)

The glitter fades as her spine stiffens up. She gets one foot under her, then the other. She says to Mikoto, first in a skeletally grating voice, "thank you -" A brief cough, a deep breath, and she sounds like la Sirene again, if with effort. "Thank you."

La Sirene looks towards... the enormous metal barrier that has been called forth. When did that happen? Oh, she thinks, remembering vaguely a particularly intense metallic clang during the hell-storm of synaesthetic agony. Probably she did it then. Yeah, that makes sense.

She makes herself breathe. "I must tend to her," she says, probably meaning Utena, because Utena is who she is looking at. "... I need your jacket, Mikoto; I will repay you threefold, I swear it." And as the jacket is rendered unto her, she says, pale eyes turning to Mikoto's, "Get Shimanouchi out of here."

A beat passes. "Fare well," la Sirene says.

When she steps towards Utena, she seems, at least, sort of like her old self. She is already rending the denim into something nearer to bandage strips, moving to wrap it round Utena's waist. To her, quietly, she says, "We must stop having moments like this, my dear Tenjou; I do not think I have the guts." Obscurely, la Sirene thinks, the mother would laugh at that.

She looks to Endo then, with the ghost of a smile, then towards Lera - and then towards Tsubasa, or perhaps more accurately, the Great Wall of Tsubasa - then to Tsubasa herself.

Her side throbs as if still lanced. It is, at least, an anchor, despite the brave face la Sirene is putting on. "If I occupy her," she murmurs to them, "Can you go round, or beneath? Or over?" Endo can fly, after all.

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

The Chevaliers - the ones who have split off from Sayaka - are broken, Mikoto notes, distantly, as sharp golden eyes cast over the field. Utena is bleeding out. Lera only barely fared better. La Sirene has been hurt on the inside, and there's no telling how bad a wound like that might be.

They are broken in the defence of the Shepherds, she thinks, and shoves the thought away.

It doesn't matter. The ones who stood with Sayaka are still well. Because Yumi has released Endo in her defence of Lera - and Mikoto tries not to dwell on the short stab of relief she feels for Lera's sake - and Tsubasa still stands.

It doesn't matter - except...

... except they were willing to go that far.

Maybe Eri was right about them.

Maybe Setsuna wasn't trying to trick her.


But if they all die here, then Eri will be sad, because Eri didn't want it at all. And so she leans down to pick up the curled form of la Sirene, grip firm, supportive. She gets her on her feet again, because she still has life to spend on Eri Shimanouchi. That's right, isn't it?

'Thank you.' La Sirene says, and Mikoto looks away, brow creasing, lips parting. No words come out - only a single, shuddering breath, as her hand drops to her blade-hilt once more.

And perhaps la Sirene can hear Mikoto snarl as her eyes fall on Tsubasa, no longer conflicted but now painfully hostile again.

La Sirene is more occupied with her allies. Of course. More occupied with -

- those terrible golden eyes fall to Utena again, and she remembers a girl who rescued her lunch, a girl who spared Kasagami when she was too injured to intercede. Her tongue clicks against her teeth with a frustrated puff of air; she leans down again to lay her sword briefly against the ground, and shrugs off the denim of her jacket. "Yeah," she says, the word clipped as she hands it over.

"... Lera's hurt too," she points out, after a beat, as she grasps Miroku again and straightens.

It might have meant 'take care of her.' It might have meant 'you're all awful at fighting.' The tone is a shade too hostile and imperious to tell.

In any case, la Sirene only earns a grunt of acknowledgement as Mikoto storms towards the steel wall of Tsubasa Kazanari.

Let them worry about their own.

There's someone between her and Eri.

She cannot allow it.

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

Sailor Pluto watches Kasagami's blade strike not Tsubasa but Lera, blood wages for the Chevalier's earlier selfless bravery, and coughs out a pained, "No..." that does nothing to stop what just happened.

By the key-like crenellations that line the haft of her sacred weapon she pulls herself up, one-armed -- the other still wrapped tight to her side. The Chevaliers arrived and instead of attacking, protected them. And there -- Lera intervened, true. But she could have done so by attacking Kasagami, not by taking a blade for Tsubasa.

There's a heaviness dragging at the senshi's limbs that has nothing to do with battle fatigue. She summons up her considerable will once more and pushes through bone-turned-lead into motion. She steps forward, and a gloved hand falls on Kasagami's shoulder.

"Lera Camry made her choice," she says to Yumi and Kasagami both, and there's something about the way she doesn't look Lera's way that says she knows exactly where the other girl is. The next is aimed at the duelist alone. "And Eri needs us, now more than ever. Nothing has changed."

Which means... Tsubasa Kazanari and her gargantuan wall of a sword receive a look, and now she does look at Lera, too -- she must. "Which means you're still in the way."

Whatever Lera has done for them, the Outer Senshi will do what she must, and right now that means launching herself past Kasagami with a sudden fierce cry, leading with Rod and then shoulder -- her weapon swept sidelong to try and knock aside Lera's blade, her body for knocking the girl herself out of the way.

"Go, Kassie!"

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

It's Pluto's touch and her words that have Kasagami shaking her head. A battle isn't over, and Eri-chan is still in there. She grins, though it lacks any of her usual enjoyment of such battles.

"Right! Even if it's a fortress of steel, for Eri-chan's sake, it doesn't matter!" She howls, as much to herself as to their enemy. Then she's leaping forward, blade drawn backwards. He leap becomes a spinning dance, a whirling blade ready to slash away again and again at the oversized piece of metal that Tsubasa is wielding from every conceivable angle.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Fallen Stern directs Endo to attack, but Yumi doesn't slow down. She made a choice and she'll have to live with it--though her heart is stuck in her throat until she reaches Lera and finds that Endo hasn't struck for her back in the process. ...It's merely nearby at everything else that's happening.

Lera's 'all right.' Yumi is pretty good at dealing with lies, but is this one one that she should call out? ...Probably not. She glances to the others, looks over her shoulder. Her hat is still on somehow, her staff of a height to it, workable to lean on.

"Kasagami," Yumi answers when she starts making an excuse, when she argues the point. She's breathing hard, but it might be stress as much as anything--and she glances--

"Oh good," Yumi breathes when she sees Utena not dead. The matter of relief is not one she can long appreciate, though--Yumi's pink eyes turn to Sailor Pluto, her good friend, as she summons up her will and steps forward. She made her choice, Pluto says--

"Yeah, but that doesn't mean--"

Lera wants to do her best to ensure no one else gets hurt. Yumi does no less; as the Outer Senshi surges forward with her fierce cry, Yumi--the shock of the sound going through her--rushes back up in turn, a green glow flaring with a shockwave as Garnet Rod and Staff of Lost Ivy clash, locking between the two tall warriors with Yumi throwing all her strength to holding the other back.

"That includes... you, Camry!" Yumi says, her words tight, and back to Pluto, "I'm here for Eri--but not like this! Haven't enough people died!?"

She doesn't block for Tsubasa. Tsubasa has a sword. But Lera, still wounded...

"We need a new plan!"

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


Lera's understanding of Earth religion is limited, and she mixes up her virgin births.

"--I am not helping her, I'm just trying to make sure she doesn't get hurt! I get it, you want to protect your friend, but--" Talking doesn't do much. Sailor Pluto flies in, and she swings her sword up with a little more sluggishness than she would care to admit to. Except, the Garnet Rod doesn't slam into Sky. It catches Yumi's staff.

Lera's amber eyes widen, slightly. She steps back, then meets Pluto's eyes -- and turns, catching Kasagami moving towards Tsubasa. With that giant sword, she isn't inclined to stop her. Quite the opposite, really. "Listen to Ohzora, would you!? If she kills someone else... do you really think that's protecting her!?" she shouts, imploring. "She shouldn't have to live with that!"

She holds her sword out to the side. The halves of the weapon split down the middle. If they're going to save Eri and Sayaka, though, there is one thing they have to do. Plasma arcs between the split halves of her sword. She glances, momentarily -- realizing she cannot see Utena, or Sayaka, or Kozue--

Just Nori and Endo, standing over someone.

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.

Endo pales a fraction at Utena's bloody hand--and stomatch--but the fact that she can still speak is will have to be good enough. He reaches down to grab her wrist and soon after shoulder, helping tug the injured girl to her feet.

"Don't exert yourself." He says, worriedly. "We can fix you up." He's sure someone can, even if it isn't him.

Nori proves him right, in some ways. He helps balance Utena while Nori does the wrapping, his face grim. La Sirene's question draws his lips into a thoughtful line.



"I could jump over it." Endo offers. A questioning glance is shot over toward Utena, to check if she's in condition to accompany him. "But...what about Tsubasa?"

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

Kasagami doesn't look back as Yumi and Pluto clash, knowing she has to sieze the moment. The long nodachi is miniscule compared to the titantic blade Tsubasa has placed forth into the world, and is dangerous with that long katana as well, so the Duelist calls on all of her skills. Her first approach ends in a leap, slashing downwards to meet the katana and it's wielder bodily.

Her second attack is low, the young woman spreading her legs and ducking low as she brings her blade back around, slashing once, only to pause and thrust all at once!

Again and again her sword attacks, Kassie ducking and weaving, occasionally seeming to speed away in a flash with deft footwork. The shining metal of her sword follows every single time, like a hawk gracefully and dangerously flying about it's owner. The tip bites more than any talon on a bird of prey even if they're meant to disable rather than kill the woman.

There's silence from the Duelist, even as Lera's words reach her ears. Her resolve sets once more, blow after blow, high leaps and falling blades fencing with Tsubasa's with the full weight of her own blade and body placed into each strike with the force of a woman determined to hack away something getting in between her and a dear friend. No matter how in the wrong she might know Eri to be.

"Wait for us, Eri!"

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

The lights of battle flash past Utena as Endo helps her to her feet, and each consecutive one catches her at a different moment--

--garnet as she rolls from her side onto her knees--

--verdant as she gets a foot under her--

--orange as she inhales, her chest expanding--

--crimson glinting off the sweat now beading at her temples and adorning her hair--


and she's on her feet. Her hand slips up to Endo's forearm and grasps it with a desperate sort of gratitude.


More than a little glassy-eyed, she gives Nori the laugh she was thinking of, through her own, rosy lens. It's a crackling sound, like wind through fallen autumn leaves. Utena is normally one for dry humor, but that's not what her chuckle normally sounds like -- especially not the way it gutters out at the end, like water getting caught in the threads of a drain.

It carries surprisingly far, that sound, the sound of someone seriously hurt and trying to laugh it off.

Steadied by Endo and tended by Nori, in short order the bandages are affixed and Utena is awkwardly rubbing marginally-dried blood off her hand into her conveniently red gym shorts. "Thanks," she repeats, a little breathlessly. Then her eyes narrow, worried, at La Sirene's damaged costume. They lift to her face, j'accuse.

She wraps her other arm around Nori's hip, both to further steady herself and to keep her close, lest she bound straight back into combat without seeing to her own troubles.

"Tsubasa is trying to keep everyone from following Sayaka and Kozue," she mumbles, vaguely, to both of them, before gulping down an unnaturally necessary breath, needed too soon. Puffing out her cheeks, she exhales with great care. "...I guess the big question is...who all else...is on the other side...?"

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

Lera's made her choice, Pluto says, as she attacks. Yumi intercedes. Yumi pleads with them, cries out that they need a new plan.

They will defend Tsubasa. They will defend each other.

Mikoto could carve through them. She is stronger than Yumi. Lera is wounded.

For a moment, as she draws close to the towering steel wall Tsubasa has wrought, Mikoto hesitates. Gears turn in her mind, as she measures the weight of their souls against Eri's sin-black leaf. She is the steel-jawed end which awaits them, after all.

But she loves Yumi so much, and... even if she is an enemy, Lera saved her.

"Trust me," she says, to them, and her firm and unyielding voice might not sound trustworthy at all. There is only one thing Mikoto Minagi has ever done, after all.

She charges forward. It seems, for all the world, that she is charging Tsubasa. But she leaps as she meets her, springing over that lengthy katana, and as she comes to land she whirls to plant a kick squarely against the inner crease of her knee. There is no blade hidden in her sensible Ohtori flats; it is not even a motion committed to with her full strength.

She jumps away before she may be challenged, to alight in front of the broad steel wall which blocks their path.

Hopefully, Tsubasa will be occupied for the next few seconds.

Because Mikoto pulls her sword around, flinting sparks against the airport concrete as it circles in full revolution. "MIROKU!!" She cries, as she plants its length into a dark portal which opens there, and white light arcs from the blackness, lighting everything in terrible chiaroscuro for the seconds it takes.

That blackness flecks across the ground where Tsubasa's greatest sword has buried itself, and from the ground erupts a second giant blade, perpendicular to Tsubasa's: obsidian-black and towering, metal screaming against metal.

Doesn't Tsubasa know?

A sword is not a shield. It does not defend. It carves through all obstacles.

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

"Lost Ivy...!" It's all Sailor Pluto can get out before their weapons meet: white staff against silver, graceful wood grain against the gloss of metal. All around the two magical girls their magics flare, a garnet shadow filtering up into the corona of brilliant green and distorting the light. Pluto widens her grip, her stance, and senshi silk strains around tight knuckles.

Eyes meet over striving staves too, light and dark roseate hues. It is not the first time the senshi has found herself fighting someone she calls friend, and she feels a sharp tight feeling in her chest like a fishhook in her heart.

She feels the strength Yumi's putting into their clash and grunts as her boots slide, then shoves back, putting long legs into the force of it, maintaining the bind -- even trying to force the Witch of Lost Ivy a step or two back if she can manage it, though maybe Yumi is ready for this and too dug in.

Over their weapons she says in a low voice, "The difference between us is, you're here to stop the killing. I am only here to stop the killing of Eri Shimanouchi." Through their corona of conflict she catches the bright flash of a familiar sword at the edge of her vision, hears its song, and knows Kasagami has reached her objective; there is the black cleave of Mikoto Minagi headed that way, and Pluto trusts their combined ferocity.

"I don't want to fight you, but that doesn't change anything, Lost Ivy. Because I will." Sailor Pluto sounds sad and determined, and has not yet been known to lie. She renews her grip and shoves again. At Lera she shouts, "That is Eri's business, not yours! Stop trying to protect people from themselves!"

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Now that she is moving, la Sirene thinks, perhaps it isn't so bad. It is a little hard to breathe but - Oh, no, she thinks, seeing just how much red there is on Utena's abdomen. When Utena puts an arm round her, she lets herself be drawn closer. The light around her pours around and past Utena to some extent, which feels, of course, passing strange.

But perhaps not bad. At least it's something new to think about. She gives Utena a slightly weak smile.

"It only hurts when I laugh," even as she wishes to herself that she had warmth to give Utena.

She opens her mouth to speak - and Fallen Stern chimes in. She turns her head to look towards the Device (if not its bearer) with a wounded expression, before telling Endo quietly, "You may be the only one who can. I am not going to leave you, Tenjou."

She takes a deep breath and lets it out as she hears Pluto speak. Her teeth grit for a moment. She can feel the dizzying sense of helplessness but she pushes through it: "The Witch, I suppose," she answers Utena. "All of them stayed out here." A beat, then, "Kozue, now."

That sea-rushing feeling in her ears comes back but she struggles to push it down. Her posture doesn't show it, at least.

<Pose Tracker> Tsubasa Kazanari [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

"Haa.. haaa..."

She was at her limit. The wall had taken much from Tsubasa, and Kasagami's attacks were relentless. In her wounded state, she couldnt do much but act as a shield. When Mikoto tried to pass through the massive steel wall Tsubasa had summoned to close the only route towards her allies, Tsubasa and her blade was there, sharp and lethal even as the swordswomans injuries were increasingly slowing her down.

She was running on fumes, and she knew it. But every second she could lift her blade to Kasagami's again was a second Sayaka and Kozue could get further ahead of those who would stop them.

"Is... hah... that... hah... all?" she demanded.

Exhausted, sweaty and bloody, Tsubasa swung her sword once more, a blue lash of energy firing from it towards the ground, as if to ensure nobody approached her. She just needed to keep them away for a bit longer...

But her vision was growing darker, and she felt her sense of balance giving out. At this point, she had to lean against the steel wall she had summoned to prevent herself from falling backwards.

"Hah... All of you..." Tsubasa breathed heavily: she knew she was seconds away from collapsing. "...are too late." There was a smirk on Tsubasas lips as she felt herself lose consciousness. "They're already gone."

As her world grew darker, Tsubasa only had a simple thought: 'I leave the rest to you, Miki.'

Tsubasa lost consciousness, exhausted from the prolonged battle. But the thick metal wall she had summoned stayed in place: with Tsubasas back against it, she remains standing, even as her battle ends for now. But for the rest, the worst is yet to come.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Protecting Eri from herself. Is that how it is? ...Maybe it is. Maybe Yumi can accept having it put that way. ...Even as Kasagami moves to break through to Eri--

As Mikoto asks her to trust, and indeed Yumi wonders what Mikoto might do--but she has no choice. She cannot stop everyone with her own hands, and--and Mikoto is performing a non-killing blow, and knowing that, putting her faith in her friend not to do what everyone would say is in her very nature--

Isn't that very human, itself? Yumi does it, and her attention stays on Pluto, because she cannot do otherwise and hold her back.

"Sailor Pluto," Yumi answers her; somehow, even amidst this chaos, the flaring of brilliant magic, Yumi's staff exudes an aura of calm, of peace. Is this what it is, for an item to be holy? There is somehow more strength here, not less, as Yumi strives back against Pluto. The simple fact is that her arms are not as strong as the Guardian's, her feet and shoulders cannot bring forth the same power as she who watches the Time Door. Yumi's boot digs into the carpeted floor; she doesn't move back.

"...Yeah," the Witch replies. "That's true. We're here... For different--" The difficulty is obvious in her voice, the strain. She can feel the sadness of her friend, feel it in the same way that she had to know it to paint Setsuna Meioh, on a better day than this. She shoves again, and Yumi's arms are forced another inch back, her weapon closer to her body now. "I--"

Eyes have met, all right; Yumi doesn't blink, despite the difficulty. "...I know you will. I really... Like the way you'll stand up for what you think is important. Even when I think it's wrong. ...So..."

Yumi shoves back, green light pulsing about her leather-gloved hands, "So you don't have to be sad... If this is who we both are!" The light of Yumi's staff flares, somehow clear, brilliant, making everything around them more real as buds of ivy start to creep up from the floor, wrapping about Yumi's feet and ankles to hold her from falling back.

"I won't let this world be as awful as we've seen it! If I can do just this one thing...!"

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


Once, those sorts of words from Pluto would have stopped Lera short. Her amber eyes widen, and she looks thrown off for a moment. Then, though, she visibly recovers. Those same eyes narrow, and she swings her free hand out towards Pluto, open-palmed and outstretched. "...She killed my friend," she says. "If you think that what she does isn't my business... then I don't think words are going to reach you."

She has more to say, to the rest. Her eyes meet Yumi's, briefly. Then, she hears Tsubasa's words.

'They're already gone.'

At first, the fear in those words hit Lera's gut. It is a cold, icy feeling; it is shortly replaced by something red hot. Her teeth grit; her eyes narrow. "You're..." She feels her neck pulse with anger, a throbbing sensation. Lera Camry has never been very good with anger. She isn't always able to push it to the side.

"...we're not going to forget this, Kazanari!"

She turns, then, and levels the sword straight at that huge shield. Soaring Sky is split down the middle. Lightning arcs and dances across the split halves of the blade. Then, she takes aim. A ring of light appears before the split-halves of the blade. Then, another. Then, a third.

Each begins to spin, as the glow between Soaring Sky's two halves gets brighter and brighter. "MIKOTO!" she calls. "We need to push that thing out of the way!"

<Aurora Burst...>

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

The giant black blade Mikoto has summoned carves a line through Tsubasa's blade, though it screams grinding metal for every inch. It is magic against magic, and each is deadly in mindset and devotion. It is a startlingly similar thing.

But Mikoto has one key advantage, in their mirror-match.

They both wield blades, and yet she is the one on the offensive. And a blade is so well-suited to attack. Surely Tsubasa knows this as well as Mikoto does.

The giant effigy of Miroku's blade ends stories in the air, looming above the control-towers of Haneda, not fallen lengthways but spearing upwards in vertical cut. Light floods the arena as it explodes, washing everything into brightness and shadow for a moment.

It may seem like overkill, but Mikoto knows better, and so does her blade.

That much strength is entirely necessary to bring down the iron curtain of Tsubasa's determination.

And even as the obsidian fades, and Mikoto wrenches her blade from the ground, the two halves of Tsubasa's blade stand. The gap is not quite wide enough. She puffs a breath through grit teeth as her eyes narrow, not unlike a hissing cat.

'They're already gone.'

Her eyes widen, a sharp intake of breath. She curls her lips over her teeth, and grips her sword, and that is when she hears her name. Bright golden eyes fall on Lera, conflicted.

'I don't think you should give up. But I don't think... that you can save her on your own.'

"Lera," Mikoto says, and there is so much Mikoto Minagi can communicate in a name. There is ferocity and fear, and a level of uncertainty, and in the end of it all, it is a plea.

Help me, she does not say.

Lera hears the unsaid words anyway.

She turns back to the wall with a grunt of acknowledgement, and she steps towards the still-standing barrier. She spins with her blade, once, twice, three times...

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

"Things never hold still, do they?" Sayaka murmurs distantly. Tonight's moon has hollowed her cheeks a little, and the moon of many nights proceeding has creased the skin beneath her eyes. A soft breath leaves her nose, as Sayaka becomes a little smaller. "Not even for a second."

The little smile she makes costs too much for what it's worth. It is brittle, tiny, and tasteless. But what's left to spend herself on?

"I really was... so stupid."

OST - Hero - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6bo14aOe1I

The gem cracks open and it cracks the light along with it, exposing jagged white bolts of it around Sayaka. They seem to char her to a blank grey, her face ghoulishly deprived of all features. All she has left is one gaping white cavern of an eye, sobbing furiously down her cheek as it lifts its blind hatred to the sky. She stands atop a shadow that seems no less real than her body, but it is twisted and wracked.

The room itself recoils. A shockwave hits the ground beneath Sayaka's feet, leaving her untouched but driving everything else away. Small bits of debris blast along the tiles, the hollow metal casing of the escalator endures with an audible tin wobble, the skylights high above clatter in their frames. A withering wind, easily capable of lifting a person, bursts as an aftershock, but it doesn't let up, howling as it escapes the soul gem.

On her feet somehow, Sayaka has her palm held limply forward still. Atop it, the gem finally shatters completely, marbley grains of it parting in a single instant of violence that reveals the spindley, eye-like outline of




that distends until it looms, until it seems at once to rest on Sayaka's palm and yet stretch story-by-story to the distant ceiling. From its base, roads are stretched to lay an imperious claim--no, not roads, musical staff, but in cold grey iron.

A grille of metal shrieks an afterbirth scream. The tightly pressed bars may as well be holding back a thousand grasping demon hands.

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


Plumes of alternating blue and black twine through the now-shattered skylight. The moon dips slowly towards the horizon to the sound of a low, white-noise howling of air. Tendrils of its breeze whistle through vents, or through glass cracked by combat. Something vast trembles within this building, rattling loose gravel on the roof, wobbling plexiglass windows. Something slouches towards birth.

The putrid, choking grief contained in Sayaka's soul gem has absorbed everyone around it into its nascent nightmare, and those further away are sealed from it by a metal wall so no one remains to witness its outward form. A Labyrinth that has not yet seeped into the concrete and metal of Tokyo has its own bilious form, which must be left to the imagination. All that need be said about it is that it is sinking.

Like cloud of poison gas from the Great War, it spreads, much heavier than air and much lighter than water. It corrupts the chamber as it goes, and starts spreading into the halls. Above it a gale blasts, as if the air in the room is fleeing. It tumbles between pillars and shops, over counters and through gates, until it last collides with Tsubasa's solid iron wall, and starts churning around, whipping up pamphlets and bits of garbage.

On the other side of the wall, the Chevaliers and Shepherds hear an unearthly sound from the sword-wall, like the metal was vibrating. A breeze leaks from the tight crevice between blade and floor, slowly wafting up Tsubasa's long blue hair. Unconscious, she cannot feel how it lifts about her. Not even a draft escapes between the two bisecting blades however, so tightly are they connected. As the ethereal sound of ringing metal rises and falls, almost beautiful in its dissonance, Tsubasa serves as an unwitting illustration of the increasing air pressure behind her barrier. The sword itself begins to shake.

Mere wind cannot defeat Tsubasa's steel will. But the Labyrinth's true violence is creeping behind. It presses down on the floor as it goes, the Witch forming behind it driving it outward. In the basement, grains of concrete dribble, but at every point the floor begins to buckle, the pressure passes over another load-bearing pillar, and the building remains strong. On a normal day, Haneda would have survived this fairly well.

But then the unholy violence of a Witch's birth passes across the final pillar, and runs into the wall. The floor on either side of the sword-wall is severed, overhanging... supported from only one side. A huge, bristling crack starts to grow back down the hallway, at the last point the floor has good support. A portion of the floor on the other side has become like a drawbridge of sorts, and it's tilting down, down...

When the steel reinforcement starts to break, that bridge snaps off. The floor pressed up against the flat of the sword grinds down the blade, concrete crumbling away to make it fit, but trying to shove the blade into tilting. It resists, but...

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

Lera's eyes meet Mikoto's. She can't quite guess at all of the things she feels; at everything she tries to communicate. She does, however, hear the grunt. Lera watches the spins of Miroku, and then looks back at the massive sword. The three control rings, each filled with Belkan runes, spin faster and faster. Each glows brightly, but the brilliant glow between the split halves of Lera's Device-sword is comparatively blinding. Her voice calls out, as Soaring Sky finishes, like a clarion call:


A blast of light explodes from the sword's halves. The recoil shoves Lera backward, blowing back her hair and bangs alike; the sword shudders in hand, while the toned muscle of her outstretched arm and fingers is cast in stark shadow from the glow of the energies. Her expression is grim and set -- but not quite despondent, as she can't say what waits beyond the barrier.

The beam, though, is glorious white with shining gold at the edges -- and utterly colossal in size. A couple of stray terminal chairs are caught by it and burnt away, in an instant; the linoleum on the floor has a path gouged through it, before it comes crashing in towards one point: the sword-wall.

That white-gold beam of light doesn't crash towards the wall of steel alone alone, even as darkness overtakes and alters it.

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

In that instant between wind-up and connection, Mikoto tastes something acrid at the back of her throat, like licking a battery with the furthest reaches of her tongue. The hair at the back of her neck stands straight, in instinctual prickle, because she is prey in danger of a predator.

She knows what it means, as the world goes wrong.

And Eri is still back there.

Mikoto does not name her attacks. Her bellow, as she makes her final whirl, is ferocious and wordless. The only thing to it is devastating force, as much as she can give, though she has already given so much.

But it is not wordless forever, her scream, and as she connects Miroku with Tsubasa's blade there is a name on her lips, driven by the fear that something has gone wrong if the Witch is expanding its territory now.

"-- ERIII!!"

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

With a churchbell's gong spoken through a giant's mouth, the sword-wall is struck by Lera's Aurora Burst Ray, which starts drilling into the metal. Its surface melts in spreading, gooey rings of molten metal, but it withstands the heat better than the pressure, which is driving into the already top-heavy weapon. And then the gargant might of the blade Miroku slams into it with bone-rattling force. Cut in half, the sword is a lot thinner than Tsubasa had meant to be, for its height. It is not planted in enough concrete to fully moor it. Despite the fact that Mikoto is still striking hundreds of tons of steel, she nudges the wall into a tilt, and the Ray does the rest. On the other side, the segment of floor pushing low on the sword joins Mikoto pushing high, and the sword-wall slowly groans its way throgh the ceiling as it falls over.

Layer by layer the steel wall snaps ceiling struts. Tile by tile it rips its way through the roof, beams and blocks falling down--safely on the other side of the wall from everyone here. But as the sword ceases to support the floor that the Chevaliers and Shepherds are standing on, it suddenly lurches, a huge crack appearing behind everyone. Like the other side, this side's floor is now on a hinge of rapidly cracking concrete. One second there's a little five-degree tilt. Then fifteen. Then twenty.

On slick airport tile it's already tilted enough to send the unwary sliding down it. Most seating here is heavy racks of chairs, but many aren't secured other than that; they're too heavy to move anyway. They are not, however, too heavy to slide, and many are starting to lurch towards the magical girls present, picking up speed.

The basement level seems pretty deep, but falling one story is not the issue. However, there is nothing in this process that doesn't apply to the floor below, and the floor below that. They are falling like dominoes, leading into the greyish depths, the floors where only machines live. And the angle is getting worse quickly.

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.

Endo's eyes swivel around the group when Nori points out that he's one of the few left uninjured enough to pass the wall of swords.

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.

Endo's eyes swivel around the group when Nori points out that he's one of the few left uninjured enough to pass the wall of swords.

A wall which does not exist for much longer after she's done saying that. Both the force of Mikoto and Lera, plus the otherworldly destruction of the labrynth rock the airport and tear through the barrier before his eyes, and soon Endo is letting out a cry of surprise as the floor and everything on it goes tumbling.

Endo has a good foothold as things get more vertical, leveraging his oversized device as a foothold. It doesn't help with the shower of concrete from overhead though, and soon he's forced to move, calling to Nori: "Get Utena-san up!"

Endo's attention returns to the collapsing swords, and the girl passed out against them. He was worried about her before, and her situation seems to have somehow managed to get worse.

Chevalier or not, whatever side either of them are on, Endo is looking out for Tsubasa now.

He pulls his sword free from concrete, releases the hold he has and goes tumbling toward Tsubasa and the giant sword she's slumped against. Down, down, until he's on the sword too, close enough to reach out and grab his unconscious former-ally. A platform of purple light forms underfoot to bring them to an abrupt stop, and Endo pushes off from it into a gigantic leap.

He goes up, bouncing off debris, forming platforms where needed, heading up to safety as the world comes crashing down around them.

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"I'm okay." From where they're pressed together, Nori can feel Utena's heart pound -- whether from the pain, or from Nori's own self-possessed promise, or both -- but she belies the intensity of her feelings with her own sad smile.

And so it is that she tries to wave Nori off, to square her shoulders and clench her teeth -- to let go. She makes it a step and a half before staggering, knees buckling, mouth cutting an agonized slash across her face. It is only by the grace of La Sirene's reflexes that she doesn't topple face-first onto the ground, and Utena sags, her wordless frustration at her helplessness almost as palpable as the agony engendering it.

She is not too proud to lean against her friend, though she tries to avoid Nori's own bad side.

It's around then that Utena notices the strange, initially distant noise, and tilts her head rather like a hound responding to an ultrasonic whistle, which makes for a funny angle given Nori's support. "Do you--"

Swords break each other and something else, something worse, breaks reality, and the ground breaks beneath them.

"Uh oh," says The One Who Will Bring World Revolution.

And then she hangs on tight.

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

The clash works. Again and again Tsubasa and Kassie have met blades, and as that final blast of energy slams down, Kasagami takes a quick defensive leap back. It catches her legs and feet, cloth and boots shredding so the young Duelist is left in her socks and what now resemble jean-shorts. One hand flicks off sweat from her brow as the indomitable will of Tsubasa keeps her standing even after she's fallen unconscious.

But as the titantic forces of Lera's beam, and Mikoto's blade hammer into that steel wall along with the force of the Witch coming into being with a baleful sound, the inevitable effects of gravity take hold as they all begin their growing tilt down into the abyss of the basement.

"Ivy! Pluto!" Her first thoughts turn to her beloved and Witch friend, even if the warning is hardly necessary. Hardly about to go to the aide of the falling Tsubasa, Kasagami has to worry about herself. And so with the heavy chairs sliding back and the angle up towards freedom is inclining swiftly, the young woman arrests her coat's upward motions after her sword is tossed over her back.

Hands freed, they go for her coat's inner pockets. Even as her feet begin to skid backwards, flashes of metal fly out. A knife embeds itself into the tile ground of the falling airport floor. With a leap that's almost gentle, toes scrunched hard to prevent too many gaps, Kasagami kicks off of the knife!

Mid-air, another one is flicked to the ground, her other foot falling as she seeks to avoid chairs that slide her way! Every sharp point embedded becomes another launching point, the Duelist's strong, magically enhanced athletic legs send her in graceful arcs. Toes to heel, she continuously adjusts her angle and balance, concentration making her brows level. Her hair flutters beautifully, roses and the scent of Ohtori's gardens about her enough to keep her going while she barrels upwards with perfect movements.

Even as she hears the shouted words of Mikoto, and worries over her friends here, she dare not add to the chorus with her own voice.

Gaze cast at an increasingly upwards angle, she finally spies Utena amidst it all. The pain she's in, and where it must have come from. For all that's passed tonight, seeing La Sirene supporting Utena and the knowledge she's at least alive fills her. Her concentration firms rather than wavers.

Kasagami Araki leaps and lands just a little harder and more accurately. She still owes Utena an answer, after all, and she can't do that from a basement grave.

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

Calm. Peace. The Staff of Lost Ivy emanates them as a force; the Witch of Lost Ivy embodies them. Sailor Pluto feels the strength as the two strive back against her, together, and a shiver runs through her. Her friend tells her not to be sad and conversely the words and sentiment behind them squeeze a knot into Pluto's throat.

She closes her eyes against the understanding on the other girl's face and redoubles her grip on the Garnet Rod -- it slides against the Staff of Lost Ivy, just centimeters, before one of those crenellations catches against the wood and they rebind. Green flares against her eyelids.

Lera's retort reaches her and evergreen eyebrows angle down. It seems the words reached her ears, at least. Pluto's mouth twists; her shoulders flex and she lowers, preparing to launch her body weight into the soothing aura of her friend.

Mikoto attacks and swords the size of killing windmill blades clash, a classic test of offense versus defense on a titanic scale, and when Pluto's eyes fly open it is to a grand spectacle of destruction... Destruction underlimned by seeping, subtle corruption. Lera lights the whole thing up with her own raylike blade of glory and the senshi squints against gold.

She hears the strange howl and does not know its import, but the Witch of Lost Ivy is close enough to see rare gooseflesh rise on the senshi's upper arms. She can also feel the lessening of tension between their weapons as the wall comes down, as something roils beyond it.

The floor lurches. It tilts, and so do priorities, all at once.

Garnet eyes seek Kasagami first, Pluto's thoughts for her love's safety, and she catches that shout -- but they are too far apart and the senshi's floor is leaving her, too. With her heart in her throat she sends a thought that is closer to a prayer her love's way and tells herself to believe in the athletic prowess of Kasagami Araki.

Pluto looks back, then, to her friend and possibly also her enemy, already skidding, their weapons unbinding as she shifts from pushing to chasing balance. The senshi has no wings to her name. She isn't sure what's showing in her own eyes, so it's up to the other girl to read the guilt and unbanished sadness there. "...Lost Ivy, will you help me?"

One hand frees from the Garnet Rod, but it doesn't reach, there's uncertainty in it.

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

The sword splits in half, after being superheated and cut into by Mikoto. Then, the floor gives way.

Lera understands what the darkness is a moment later. She has been in a Witch's labyrinth before, fighting beside Mami. She has seen the strange, reality-altering effects and she stares at it. The ground begins to fall away from her feet; the soles of her boots bob down, as the ground gives way and falls. <Flight mode activated.> She floats there, lowering her sword.

Soaring Sky's two halves snap back together, with a click, and she shakes her head. "Where did that Witch come from!?" she calls out. "Damn, and it's from the direction--"

The direction that Sayaka and Eri were in.

Her eyes widen -- before she sees Endo leap in, and land on the sword that fell away. He clutches Tsubasa, and that brings her out of it. The girl turns, her white shirt blackened and soot-stained from the falling debris, and then she dives into the falling chunks of concrete. She swings Sky backward. "Sky, do you know where they could be?"

<I don't. I hope it's not the Labyrinth...>

Broken Ground chimes, from her wrist: <Seeing as everything's gone to shit, I think they're in the shit.>

"That's... what I'm afraid of, y'know?" Lera manages, quietly. She swallows, and then she looks down at Yumi and Pluto -- before she surges ahead. Light blazes after her, and she comes in next to Utena and Nori. She turns her head, looking at them. "Utena..." She swallows. "Nori, do you have her?"

Her stress levels are much too high to remember her honorifics.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Sometimes, Yumi manages to briefly forget the sheer power that those around her can bring to bear, friends and classmates and... otherwise. It must be that way, because how else but forgetting can someone see the great conjured sword blasted and cut by such brilliant powers, by such devastating cuts, to see an impassable barrier destroyed in moments--it is as if she has never seen such a thing that Yumi stares for an instant, only an instant. ...The sound...

Yumi can see the way even Pluto is affected by what happens. She knows what Lera said, and she does not know what is happening, but the tension in her arms, too, recoils--she does not press the sudden weakness in the assault. ...Maybe that gap is the only reason she's still standing.

The floor lurches. "Gah--" What awful howl? What horrible thing must be happening, that the water roils and the very ground quakes? Something in Yumi knows this kind of devastation, and her heart sinks as she imagines what it could be.

Sinks--but is caught. She starts skidding as well, chairs crashing slowly at first but more quickly towards her, and her eyes meet Pluto's. She has no wings, no, but how can Yumi's heart fall when her friend's eyes are there to catch it? She asks. She asks, and that itself is heartbreaking.

"Always," Yumi tells Setsuna Meioh, her voice quietly fierce as she nods--and throws out her hand in another direction, stretching out the Staff for Pluto to take. Her words are quiet in the chaos, but still she is shouting:

"Twining light in darkness!" Yumi chants, lifting her free hand, "Heed my call!"

With a flash of green, verdant power, a broom as if of still living wood bursts into the world, its bristles brown and green and strong. Yumi pulls the broom close and moves to sit down on it, pulling Pluto closer for the same. "Hang on!" she says. "This is going to be bumpy!"

Maybe some prayers can be answered. Regardless, with Sailor Pluto secured, Yumi looks down to the sword. "MIKOTO!" she calls, "BE CAREFUL!"

Then it's best if Pluto does as she's asked, because Yumi shoots forward on her broom, leaving Pluto to hold tightly if she wants to stay on. The young Witch has terrible things ahead to evade if they are to get to safety somehow, and no matter their arguments she is not here to let a friend die if she can help it.

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

La Sirene shakes her head a bit like a lion psyching itself up. The dissent from Fallen Stern is not enough. There is still hope. She watches as Lera, the shining warrior, and Mikoto, the obsidian blade, strike at Tsubasa -

'they're already gone'

"... but--"

Utena disengages from her and steps forwards a pace before immediately toppling. "Tchau!" la Sirene says, dipping forwards with a grimace of her own, but the grimace is controlled comparatively. She bears up Utena.

Something screams.

The building rumbles underneath the oncoming shriek of the hurricane-force distortion of the fresh-born and unseen-by-la-Sirene Witch. Her ears pop.

"Sayaka -" Nori says as she gazes at that cracking steel wall and whatever lurks behind it raises up. Something behind them cracks like breaching stone - for ultimately that is exactly what it is; a metamorphic stone forged and shaped by the will of humans - and the ground is tilting behind them.

It is a moment where la Sirene feels her body lurch even as Utena clings to her. But what saves her is her uniform. Battered though it is, and as double-edged as those glossy black jewels have proven themselves to be, the sliding sends la Sirene scooting back about six inches with a loud scrape as her boots resist sliding any further. Beneath them each tile has a series of jagged divots in it. Diamonds on the soles of the shoes.

She stares at the spreading labyrinth with utter incomprehension for a moment but she has something much more precious now. For a moment she remembers tumbling back in surprise. But that was a different time; she was lesser then. Smaller. She sweeps Utena up with only a "huff" of the twinge in her side, where the bruise is already starting to resolve. "Hold my neck," she tells Utena as she pivots round. In the time it takes her to turn round and get Utena into a bridal carry, the ground has tilted another three degrees.

Her eyes turn to Lera.

There is a second where the face that belongs to Nori Ankou doesn't move or react at all. Her heart is still twisted, the emotional distress of Kozue's manipulation, of Sayaka's dedication to such a horrid goal - of Tsubasa doing THIS, of all things, to set up whatever horrid Thing has happened, whatever dark twist of fate has happened behind them - enough to paralyze people.

But -- the Brazen Pharos is a different story. As La Sirene breathes in, the Pharos positively twinkles, a coruscation of pastel hues and dark distortions. The gate is opening.

"Yes," la Sirene breathes. She blinks twice, a tear falling into Utena's hair. "I do."

La Sirene pushes forwards one step and then VAULTS forwards, her soles scraping skeletally along the tile and biting into the underlaying adhesive and the outer layer of the concrete. The first one is slowish; the second is more confident; and past that, she lopes like a deer over snow.

"Do you see Sayaka?!" la Sirene calls. If Eri blew herself up with some fell sorcery - well, la Sirene's gonna let Mikoto worry about HER friend.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Nobuo Uematsu - Only A Plank Between One And Perdition https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oASVt3L-nmk

Mikoto buries Miroku in Tsubasa's blade, three inches deep from the force of her blow. It falls.

She could not have done it alone. It is a gigantic thing, and though she is a staggeringly powerful girl, she is not even five feet tall. Even horizontal, it dwarfs her.

But she does not stand alone, and the momentum she sparks is pushed forward by the Aurora Burst Ray. An object in motion will remain in motion. Mikoto was never good at Newtonian physics on paper - but she knows that much from observation.

Here's another one she understands better than she thinks she does: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Because as the blade falls, so does the world.

Mikoto sees the ground crumble beneath them, and she does not wrench Miroku from the steel. She clings tightly to the hilt of the blade, and for precious moments she dangles as the angle is too steep for her feet to find purchase. Endo, with his magical platforms, cheats. Of course. She narrows her eyes as she sees him swoop in, but he is only there for Tsubasa.

She snorts, derisively, and earns a clobbering from a piece of ceiling for her skepticism. The blade is carving through the building, and debris is sliding down its slope without a care for what might be in its way. Buried in against the blade, she cannot dodge it, but can only twist herself so it strikes at her shoulder instead of her head. She shrugs it away with a snarl, and down it tumbles, into the abyss.

'BE CAREFUL!' Yumi cries, and Mikoto's eyes soften for a moment as she gasps. She knows the truth of it. She knows how bothered they would all be if she were hurt. If she pushed herself any further than she has, her well of power exhausted from the might she has brought to bear. But she knows, just as well, that a Witch in an established Labyrinth does not act this way. Something has gone wrong.

"Yumi," she whispers, to herself, and the contrition of the name means I'm sorry. She does not mean to be careful tonight.

Because the blade is falling, falling, its angle growing less sharp by the second, though there is no reduction to the edge which carves through the ceiling of the building, which begins to cut a path through its walls as it descends further and further to the other side. Mikoto can gain a foothold, now, though there is still slope to contend with. With her feet underneath her again, she wrenches Miroku from the steel.

And she begins running up the blade as it falls, weaving around the debris which tumbles down it. She means to reach the other side.

She means to reach Eri.

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Swept up into Nori's arms, Utena flushes very slightly, along her cheekbones, a little bit of warmth in a world gone cold beyond measure. But after the first vault, pink has faded to white, and by the fifth, she is dead weight in La Sirene's arms. The clue comes when her grip slips loosely off of La Sirene's neck, but there was some warning, two tender, grateful words flown the perch of her lips in a vague mumble: "I... know..."

I know you have me.

And then she's gone for the moment, though the rest of her remains, cuddled up against La Sirene's diamond chest.

Surely unconsciousness is no unkindness; Nori can see red roses blooming beneath the denim bandage. No guilt is required, as this evacuation is unquestionably saving Utena's life. One cannot always choose to walk a gentle path... or be carried on one.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Kaijuueiga - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANRw4-UFFfQ


Haneda airport is utterly flooded. Seawater controlled by Kozue's Child Cassandra has sodden the grass and filled up every drainage ditch until they vomit onto the ground around. The airfield is knee-deep in water. And the island itself is starting to suffer effects.

Oh, the land itself is not going anywhere. Haneda's not about to sink into the ocean. But this was not simply a flood. It was not even a hurricane. It was a tornado made entirely of water and it kept going for some time. The soft earth around the airfield is hypersaturated and eroded, and the water is sinking deeper, starting to gnaw at the gravelly underbelly of the dirt from below.

When it happens, it is so quick as to be anticlimactic. The ground just drops, falling into a hollow space below. The sinkhole sucks in seawater from the beach like a dying lung. And just like that, the bay has a direct channel onto airfield.

It can all be explained by natural phenomenon, but still, it feels a bit like the water itself was drawn to the coalescing malice within Haneda. At one end of the terminal, that skylight is still churning with bathyean glow, like a lighthouse signalling the sea.

Natural or unnatural, the waters answer.


The scent of brackish water starts to fill nostrils. It is a scent gentler than that of water from the ocean-proper, but nonetheless unmistakable. The sound of windows bursting in one by one is heard in the distance softly, like someone hunt-and-pecking a well-soaked typewriter. The hall is just too dark to see very far past where the sword ripped moonlight into the terminal, but the glisten is visible before it reaches that light.

Water. Lots of water.

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

Where once there was a sword, now there is a chasm. Silver and shadow; moonlight and void... and bright reflections upon cascading water, for the far side of the chasm has become a knee-deep river.

And then there are spots of color, appearing instantly like some seeing eye illusion that they were always there rather than somewhere upstream.

Red and Green flow towards one side until a sliver of steel braces them within the roaring currents. Kyouko grasps the Eri's collar as she kicks and flails to try to steady herself.

Nearby, four other girls appear to be linked by a chain: Homura and Madoka at one end - whereas two blunettes are at the other. From a distance it may look like the latter two have lost their footing already.

The reality is that one is entirely limp. A dead weight anchoring down the other who keeps a desperate grip on her and pulling out the other two girls in violet and pink. The sloshing flood starts to carry them further and further towards the waterfall at the center as they try to resist - perhaps in vain - against a plunge into doom.

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

The sword has fallen all the way over, and now rests against the opposite edge of the floor. The concrete there is very jagged, though, so there are numerous large gaps between the blade and the broken floor, through which bay-water is flowing constantly. Eddies churn before those, strong enough perhaps to suck down even a magical girl, and they a waterfall into the basement, one which goes past a lot of sharp bits of rebar just before it hits the ground.

The hilt area of the sword is much further back, overhanging above the floor, too high to reach if one is being swept past. Unfortunately, it forms a steel roof that will make rescue more difficult. And as Chevalier and Shepherd watch from the floor on the opposite side, the refugees are about to be swept out of sight, beneath the sword. When that happens, their time will be short.

As for the Chevaliers and Shepherds? They are mostly safe at the moment. But between them and the refugees lies a much-widened hole that has collapsed on both sides, that must be crossed.

You are no longer marked as an observer in +pot, +odds, or +initiative.

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

Lera's glance at Utena is worried, but it relaxes a little to see her fall asleep. Her eyes lift, then, to look at Nori. She swallows. "She--she might be back that way," she says, with a glance towards the Labyrinth that they fled from.

She hears, one after the other, a distinctive pop. The windows of the airport cracking, Lera realizes, dimly. She lifts herself up--and then leaps backward as she sees the ground ahead of her shudder, then crack. Her teeth grit; she feels her stomach drop the same that the ground does, into a great sinkhole drawing in those salty-smelling waters.

"What did they do to the place?" she asks, quietly.

Then, she looks back at la Sirene. She hesitates for a moment, before she holds a hand out; a square of red-orange light appears, floating in the air. "We can keep Utena safe on this, for a second, y'know?" she says. She swallows, before she looks across the hole -- and then she extends a hand towards Nori. "I see Madoka," she says. "And... the black-haired girl, who stole the Jewel Seeds, once. It looks like they need help."

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

Pluto takes hold of the Staff of Lost Ivy with the hand no longer grasping her own sacred weapon, and she seems shorter than the other girl, however close their heights are. Perhaps it is those rounded shoulders, when her bearing is usually so impeccably upright. She swings onto the broom with a quiet "Thank you" that does not carry with the weight of a Guardian of Time's intonation. It is for Yumi Ohzora alone.

She side-saddles up behind the Witch of Lost Ivy even as the floor slides out from under her boots. As she's told to hang on Pluto does just that, throwing dark arms around the other's waist to keep from being thrown off the other side of the broom by that tectonic lurch. She continues to hold tight during their flight out, her head sideways with cheek bumping grey hair, and follows Kasagami's flash-footed ascension on a desperate stair of blades with several knots in her throat. Sailor Pluto is more quiet than is even her wont, for the remainder of the night.

COMBAT: Sailor Pluto transforms into Sailor Pluto!
COMBAT: Homura Akemi transforms into Puella Magi Homura!
<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Madoka is the shortest, but that's when everyone is conscious. What's at knee-height on Kyouko is waist-high on her and far, far higher than whichever bluenette is sideways. And she sees it -- of course she does -- the darkness is in her eyes and so is the moonblinding silver and the graywash of water, too, but she could be on the opposite side of the planet and still be able to make out her oldest friend in danger.

Accordingly, she starts thrashing desperately towards Kozue and Sayaka, trying to help them. If you asked the elder Kaname sibling what their best stroke was, she would say that she can do a bit of breaststroke, but that most call it a doggy paddle.

'Most' would be correct.

She is quickly swept away by the rushing current, her flailing no match for the icy vortex.


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


<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

In the access road where Nori's car is parked...

Batiste has opened a window and gotten onto the hood. He is concerned, uncharacteristically, about the flooding. His little jaw drops when he sees the great sword rise and the sinkhole form.

But in the field...

La Sirene buries her face in Utena's hair for a moment. She can see blood is spreading there and even as they level out, even as she bullies her way through the water, her footsteps barely slow. This is producing a devil of a wake behind her, but it will not create a wake before her - so to speak. Lera speaks.

La Sirene looks over her shoulder again.

She has, for that moment, the exact same expression as Batiste. "The entire airport-!?"

La Sirene is probably over-dramatizing. Probably. Then she looks to Lera even as she produces that pane of fiery light. "... Utena," she murmurs as she eases her onto the floating square of sheer magic, "Be safe. Thank you, for everything."

Sweeping a hand through her hair, la Sirene blinks. The 'mask' on her face is smearing. It is clear that it is war paint, makeup, something other than an actual mask a la Chat Noir.

She grasps both of Lera's hands. "Madoka has been through so much, and Homura is one of my people," she says. "I suppose there is no choice. Go! Don't worry about me - tell me if you see a good place to let go!" (She also twitches her eyebrow as her side complains about this, but, at the thought of Madoka being borne to a crushing, watery doom... somehow it is not so bad.)

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

This hasn't been one of Homura Akemi's better days. Among other reasons, she keeps getting soaked.

And, as has become de rigueur for this particular bad day, it finds new and aspirational ways to get even worse. Bobbing in the unleashed churn and almost entirely at the mercy of the waves, she gulps a mouthful of half-water, half-air and then chokes on it as Madoka thrashes out into the churn. Between that sight and her own struggle to stay afloat, violet eyes are wide and ringed with strain.

She's drowning herself to save what isn't even Sayaka Miki any more, and if Homura had time to be angry she would be incredibly so, but there's only time for--

"Madok-gghhhh!" Saltwater slaps Homura in the face, a rude interruption. She strikes out after her with one hand still wrapped around the chain, making utmost use of a body made better than whole by the expenditure of magic and Grief Seeds, this weapon she has honed for so long. Homura will fight anything for Madoka Kaname, including these waves, and slices into them with a flawless crawl stroke.

And when she reaches Madoka she wraps arms around the other girl from behind, tugging her back into her grasp to wrap both hands back around the chain -- securing them temporarily to their bluenette anchor, but more importantly securing the girl she loves more than anything against the push of the waves and the pull of the chain.

"Madoka," she repeats, a gurgled gasp, and kicks to try and keep both of them afloat. Tendrils of black hair like grasping seaweed wrap around them, like there is no part of Homura that will let go.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUK1cR9hqMk

Lera looks down at Nori, as she takes her hands. She swallows, before her head nods in a slight bob of her head. Then, she turns her head; her eyes drift down, to look at Utena. She hesitates for a moment more, before she turns in midair. She turns Nori with her, as she moves, the rotation causing bot of the girls to spin in the middle of the air, a little over the ground just in front of that terrifying, open pit.

Her feet haven't touched the ground since the earth fell away under her feet. After a moment's hesitation, she tugs her hands out of Nori's, and then wraps an arm around la Sirene's waist and pulls her close. She lets out a shaky breath. "Keep close," she says. Soaring Sky flashes, then reverts back to a pen form; she hooks the little pen onto her necklace, and he dangles there. "Ground, you're on intercept duty. Keep the air clear around us, y'know?"

<I'll smash any debris that comes at us.>

Lera looks down into the hole, squeezes her eyes shut, and then she dives down. Her and la Sirene go into a tight, controlled spiral -- which leaves a flickering red-gold afterimage of light trailing after. Then, the first slash of concrete leaves a hole through it; and a second, before Lera's amber eyes snap open. They dive down towards the sword, before they shoot upward.

Which is when a piece of concrete cracks. There is a terrible snap of rebar, and a piece of the ceiling comes rocketing down for them. Lera's eyes turn upward, but Broken Ground chimes: <Mantle Heart!>

An inverted dome of connected yellow-green hexagons appears. The chunk of ceiling slams down into them, and the dome holds the rock up -- as Lera and Norin curve upward sharply. They rocket up the length of the sword, and then twist down around it. The light is painted in their wake, a trail that curves around the great, broken blade.

Water from the waterfall splashes and sprays at their faces, but then they crest the edge. Lera rises upward, and then dives down towards that pink-haired and raven-haired figure. Her eyes widen as she sees Madoka Kaname, who she knows better; panic hits her, for a moment. "La Sirene!" she says. "I'm going to drop you, when we're close! You're one of the best swimmers I know, y'know?"

She flashes a smile. "Don't worry--I'll make you another platform to get them on."

The girl drops down, then. She comes in close -- and then lets Nori go, to land into the water with a splash. Not a moment later, there is a flash -- and another red-gold platform of light appears, this one less than a foot away from the water. Lera sets down on it. Her feet stumble, but she runs to the edge of the magical platform, and extends a hand out. "I'll pull them up!"

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.

Endo bounds away from the gaping vortex of water, finding sturdier and soggy ground for him and his unconscious passenger to rest on. He wobbles unsteadily as he surveys his surroundings, eyes wide at the terrible mass of destruction that the water and the labyrinth have caused.

Then he spots the shapes on the other side of the gap, eyes squinting. "That's-" A problem. He shoots a quick glance over toward the still conscious nearby, calling, "Lera! Get Madoka!" He points, waving hand frantically in the direction of the swirling figures. "Anyone else-this way!"

It soon becomes obvious that he's going to try and get Kozue and Sayaka. Tsubasa is set down, and Endo leaps into the vortex. It definitely doesn't seem like a great idea.

But down inside, before he hits the jagged edges and churning vortex, another platform flashes to life. It's sloppy and haphazard work, triangular platforms of purple light flashing to life at uneven angles, making short-lived stepping stones down and around the sword, above the jagged rubble and roaring water.

It's when he's near the other side that he erects something more permanent, bringing another wall to life in front of Sayaka and Kozue as they plummet downward. It won't be a comfortable stop, but it's preferable to the alternative.

There are more platforms created after, a path back to safety, and a hand to drag if needed.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Homestuck - At The Price Of Oblivion https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ha_QYiB2EdA

There is the scent of water.

And then the blade falls to the ground, and it is obvious why.

Mikoto does not leap from the edge of the blade's surface to the rapids below. She does not have the aversion to water Mai does, does not even know Mai would flinch at the sight; but though she is a strong swimmer, she is small, and only has so many hands. The first rule of rescuing a drowning man is not to put yourself in danger of needing rescue. Mai's told her that often enough.

Golden eyes scan the water. The blue is dismissed in an instant. Black and pink would earn concern - if not for a far more festive combination of colours. "ERI!" Mikoto screams, the mora tearing tortured at her throat. "KYOUKO!"

They are almost swept beneath the arc of the sword, where it has laid diagonally against the airport.

There's no debate, no moment of hesitation.

Mikoto's magic is designed to destroy. She cannot save them.

But she can delay their death.

And maybe, even if her magic is cruel, there is someone else she can rely on. Someone whose magic could cleanse the sins of her own --

"Yumi," Mikoto gasps, and tries again, volume flooding her voice: "YUMI! HELP ME!"

She drags her sword in revolution, plunges it into dark portal midst Tsubasa's steel. They have seen this before. It is not something she should repeat so soon.

This time, it is not a giant blade which rises up to meet the flooded airport below. Obsidian stalagmites erupt from the earth around Kyouko and Eri's tenacious attempts to keep themselves from oblivion, a fine lattice of a cage which halts a few feet above where the water ends. The jagged edges of the spikes are rough and easy to cut themselves upon, but surely their corpse-bodies will not mind a few scratches. It is the best someone like Mikoto Minagi can manage in their defence.

She is not designed to defend.

It will catch them, even if it is an unkind net. It will not allow them to be swept away.

Upon Tsubasa's steel, Mikoto sinks to a knee, blade kept within the cradle of its dark embrace. She trembles as she maintains her magic, breath on her lips as ragged as the spires below.

She needs Yumi to save them.

This is all she can do.

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IY8rOSyR5Rw

La Sirene does not resist Lera's embrace. She loops an arm round her neck and says, "Sorry for the cold," even as she grimaces. Even if the wound is abating it is not gone. She tilts her head forwards, hair hanging loose before the passage of wind whips forwards.

They bob and they weave through the perishing artifacts of this era. The dive makes la SIrene's stomach lurch but there is also a thrill to it, and for a moment she feels it. The waterfall's spray washes over her face, smearing the lining further yet, forcing it, aptly enough, into something like ragged tears.

She sees flashes of colors. Lera speaks to her - the plan is sound, but that water, she thinks. It's running so fast.

And yet it all seems to snap into place for her. The roar of water. A beloved one in peril. Great risk. Storm and death around them. She glows all the brighter and when Lera lets go she does not drop passively. She twists backwards, extending her arms and hits the water with a diving splash before rearing up.

The entire 'sea' bed is briefly visible as the light that holds her so close dissipates - and spreads! La Sirene kicks despite the clumsiness of swimming in boots to close the distance, turning round and staying low as she digs in her heels. The soft bottom of this huge open space compresses underneath her feet as she digs in, and she can feel the cold mud's chill rise up past ankle, past calf - almost to knee before she comes to a stop -

And rears up from beneath the water, sweeping one arm to cradle Madoka and sweep her against herself. The water flow is still moving her towards the edge, but more slowly - she turns then to hoist Madoka up, to push her towards that platform.

"Do not shoot me," she tells Homura, even as she extends a luminous hand towards her. "Come on!"

Her other hand, once free of the 'burden' (she could never truly be one) of Madoka Kaname, grasps blindly at the edge of the platform. Oh I hope we don't dangle, la Sirene thinks with squeamish anticipation.

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

With the newly created waterfall and the Airport less-than-neatly collapsing, Kasagami eyes the figures kept from drowning merely by chain. Her heart freezes in her chest as she spies green and red amidst that chain of girls. The blue With Lera taking Sirene over, the Duelist looks for a way over to no avail. But luckily, the other mage has an idea!

And so Kasagami takes a moment, and follows Endo down with a grand leap! She lands on his temporary platforms one after another, hopping again and again along those purple triangles.

"I really owe you one!" Comes the Duelist as they finally comes to a stop, and Endo is erecting his wall. Mikoto is making her obsidian lattice! Kasagami can't do anything like that. She's stuck on one of Endo's platforms, and so, she thinks back to her childhood. An old, time-honored family technique used by Father and daughter during the summer.

Yanking off her coat, twisting it up a bit, and her free hand seems to have rose petal after rose petal linking to one another. Again and again and again, until she has a whole line of them linked together. Her gaze casts to Eri and Kyouko. Up the Duelist flicks, and down the magically elongated material goes. There's no sound of a flywheel, but Kasagami is most certainly Puella Fishing.

"Grab on!" She encourages, legs braced as she calls to either puella able to snag her rose-coat lifeline.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

The thanks Pluto offers--Yumi is not so graceless as to dismiss them. She doesn't say it's nothing, or wave them off. She just nods, glancing a little over her shoulder towards her friend--and moves. The floor slides past them, the movement too rapid for anything Yumi could feel the same way before learning to fly--

And as Pluto hangs on, Yumi keeps moving, dodging past chairs, looking to see that the others too are escaping, letting a sigh of relief escape her lips as she moves into the sky. ...But... That isn't the end, either. That isn't all there is. Yumi can see Mikoto, ahead--but there are those she can't see either. "They must be over there somewhere," she says, speaking to Pluto and herself both. "But where..." She starts to change her direction, even as the others move, provide their brilliant, beautiful light. The Chevaliers and the Shepherds, to Yumi, seem at least together enough in this: they all have someone beyond the fallen sword.

But Mikoto calls for Yumi, 'HELP ME'. And Yumi hasn't forgotten: she promised. Mikoto came to her, Mikoto asked, even given what Yumi had said, and she... gave her word. A part of her heart is over there, and a part of others'. She couldn't save that one girl, but...

"I'M ON MY WAY!" Yumi shouts back at Mikoto, the words ragged in her throat, more volume than a lanky, quiet girl was meant to put out. Her magic can destroy, can harm, can wither away and shatter hopes. ...But...

It is not only a curse that she holds for everyone. "Hang onto me," Yumi says to Pluto, and chants quickly, intoning a quiet phrase in no language that is obvious, as she affixes her staff to the broom and frees both of her hands. It hangs there, glowing, as she dives forward, forward. What is Mikoto doing? Yumi doesn't know. She has no idea before she gets closer how she'll be helping her, what it is that her small friend will cut. And when she sees--

It isn't just her. It's the others. It's all of them, working so quickly, not hesitating. It's extraordinary, and Yumi holds her breath as she becomes a part of it.

Not for long though. "I've got Eri-chan!" Yumi calls to Kasagami as she dives down beside the red Duelist, reaching out with an arm already starting to gleam green with magic as she murmurs something that ends with, "...Stick!" Abrubtly Eri is caught up in Yumi's arm, as the rail-thin girl does her best to hang on. "It's not very comfortable, but--I'm here!" At least Eri won't leave Yumi's grasp, can feel the magic helping her stay connected. ...Yumi can always let her shoulder joint rest later.

But before she can do that, she curves up, up, up like on a roller coaster, and spins, flipping back down into another dive Pluto will have to hold through to reach her other hand for Mikoto on the way down. "Grab my hand!" Yumi shouts at her.

The strain just tells her she's alive, and reminds her to keep it that way.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"Say--!" Madoka sputters, wrenching herself within Homura's grasp, and it doesn't take a dozen dozen timeloops of experience to guess what the rest of the night is going to be like. "Saya--a--"

But Endo is swooping in towards the bluenettes, and the purple of his magic reflects in her pretty pink eyes with the sort of admiration -- lambent hope, actualized as a glorious roseate luminescence -- that a certain other purple magi can only dream of (or, if she wants to actualize it, flip the hourglass over). Calmed by the knowledge that their rescue is imminent, she starts to cooperate instead of attempt escape from the desperate, loving, and heretofore frustrating grasp of her own savior.

(She heaves a gasp, and then another, and Homura may be gratified to hear these precious breaths unencumbered by any names.)

And then she has not one savior, but three. Lera from above and Nori from below, and Madoka is passed from girl to girl to girl until at last she is hacking up some inhaled ocean upon the magical platform. Tears pour down her cheeks, indistinguishable from the general drenching but for the redness of her eyes.

She has been crying for quite some time, hasn't she?

Rubbing her little balled fists into her eyes to clear them of salt, she hears a clink; the chain, the chain is still around her wrist, her arm. And it's pulling taut -- hastily she sheds it, which requires a few rough, increasingly desperate yanks.

Once she is no longer in imminent danger of being pulled straight back off the platform, she briefly glances up at Lera, incredibly reassured by her newfound safety, and reaches down to take Nori's grasping hand with both of her own. They can form a different kind of chain, now, a chain of palms and fingers, of connected girls instead of connected steel links.

Even their hearts are intertwined, moreso than they have been in ages...

"I g," she starts to shout, but it turns to ice on her tongue and 'gotchu' falls clumsily off, 'guh.' She bites at it before the misshapen word can waste too much time. "I have you!" she says instead, to Nori, and, therefore, to Homura, at La Sirene's other end.

The roar of the water falling into the abyss beneath them is very loud, but it isn't as loud as Madoka's encouragement.

"Grab on, Homura-chan!!"

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

The water has given so much to Kozue Kaoru. Joy. Release. Romance - but also Trauma. There is a panic deep within her in the uncontrolled drag of the water. The chain is inverted rather than wrapped around her ankle. A lifeline rather than a burden. On the other end is Homura Akemi clinging so tightly to Madoka who is clinging so tight to her.

There are a hundred different ways to save herself. Not a one of them even crosses her mind since all of them require her to let go of Sayaka.

Counting in her head becomes a calming exercise even as she feels ligaments strain - her hands white knuckled as they labor to keep a grasp on the slick wrist of her girlfriend as they're caught in these awful currents. 'Anyone else-'

And then... she let's go.

'-this way.' She doesn't mean to. It just happens. She can't keep a grip. In a horrified moment of protective reflex she lets go of her Element, kicks off the bottom, breaking the surface to come down and grab wildly in a scooping motion.

It earns her a grip around the other girl's torso, but also a quick trip over the edge.

Burbling in panic - the two are pitched over the edge and gravity takes over...

The two impact hard on the purple triangle. Remaining breath blasted out of her lungs, Kozue nearly topples over the edge, her grip on Sayaka's body jolted - but maintaining a hold. Gasping like a wet rat, she coughs repeatedly, while clinging to her.

"Guh-Got you..."

Water continues to pour around her, her eyes stinging... they're in a precarious situation, and she rolls herself squarely away from the side of the platform. Shivering and weak, she looks with gratitude towards Endo.

She'll get up in a moment, try to shoulder Sayaka... or if need be... crawl across the line of created platforms, but right now...

... she needs a moment, as she draws her arms around Sayaka's limp body as tightly as her strength can manage and whispers, "...It's going to be okay."

In this moment it's like as close to a prayer as words get from her lips. Because above all right now - she needs that to be true for the two of them.

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

It's a race, between the treacherous drive of saltwater and hearing Madoka repeat Sayaka Miki's name, to see which Homura might choke on first. She clings to the chain and cages Madoka between her arms, and when the other girl ceases her struggle it is several kinds of relief.

Rescue swoops in from on high riding Lera's red-gold trail of light, so bright that even amidst the struggle to keep a pink head above water Homura cannot miss it. She spies La Sirene's dive too, and between waves gasps "Hold on" into Madoka's ear. One hand lets go the chain to wrap around a submerged waist; her other fingers twist into the metal links until they scream from it.

When la Sirene rises up from the churning dark, Homura Akemi as ready as she will ever be to let go of the girl in her arms. There's a moment when violet eyes bore into their savior, and considering the intensity of that gaze and their last interaction, it might be read for aggression before Homura says, "Take her!" and gives Madoka a push toward their rescuer and away from the onrushing edge of the water.

Her turn, next. La Sirene is as luminous as Homura is not -- the puella is just pale and half-drowned, and her hand is cold as she grabs hold of the offered rescue. She even says, "No shooting" without it sounding like there's a silent "yet" she's left off.

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Coughing and hacking, Eri Shimanouchi's injuries are further exacerbated by the currents. Her right leg in particular is in the throes of agony from trying to force it down beneath the current. Kyouko's grip is strong though, and it's mostly keeping her head above water even though the salt is making her wounds feel like burning.

"Gah-puh-puh!" Feeling a bit like a pansy that had been accidentally overwatered by an overeager but well-meaning classmate, the girl reaches out with a hand to try to grip Kyouko's arm to pull herself up. Though she's mostly failing that from this angle.

And that's when she feels a familiar scrape of steel. "Mi-"

The water splashes over her head drowning out a few syllables, "-lp!"

Kyouko keeps her grip taut, levering her kouhai a little out of the water before she loses some progress. Her red hair sopping as it splays out wildly in matted strands.

And then suddenly she feels herself braced up against a latticework of black. The spike stalagmites appear fresh out of nowhere, and her danger sense is on high alert. Yet...

Looking up, Kyouko gives Mikoto a cocksure grin of thanks that is perhaps the closest thing she can give to a salute in the moment.

Eri pushes a foot against it, and gets a good long breath after a coughing fit as the motion draws herself further above water. Eyeing Mikoto, she pants out tiredly, "Mi-Mikoto..." Then gulping, "Thank... you..."

She knows there's a cost to invoking Miroku. Mikoto has made it clear.

Kyouko puts a foot on the top of her spear head, and shoves a leg up against the spike, before heaving her kouhai up into Yumi's waiting grip. "All yours!"

As she hands her off - the Puella Magi in red grabs ahold of Kasagami's linked rose flywheel. Tugging on it like a catch at the end of a reel. She doesn't leave it entirely up to her. Instead she waits for the telltale yanking motion and in that same instant kicks off an obsidian spike - unwedging her spear as she goes, kicking off another spike - before the line of roses pulls her further in the direction.

Doing a flip in mid-air, Kyouko makes a three point landing on the platform beside Kasagami, before giving her a hard pat on the shoulder in a gesture of comraderie.

"Yumi-chan." Eri says with a sense of complete and utter fatigue , but affection and fondness too - after all - Yumi didn't have to come. She'd officially quit the Shepherds.

Eri isn't really putting much effort into her grip thanks to the connecting magic. "I think Neptune may have..."

It's up close like this that Yumi might notice the numerous tears in her clothing - each marking a wound. It looks like she'd lost a knife fight against a whole gang. A vine wound around her leg like a crude splint to try to keep it straight.

"...been understating a little... for effect."

She's so tired, she just wants to sleep. She knows that she'll have no such luck though. Not tonight. Not after all of this.

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

One second. Two. Three. Four. Five. They fold in on each other and yet each is distinct in its debilitation, and Mikoto holds on.

If she doesn't, they will drown.

Even a glorious corpse-body must need air eventually.

Kyouko grins; Mikoto bows her head in recognition. Eri splutters thanks, and Eri's voice is a comfortable and familiar thing which Mikoto searches for even in the confusion and the gulf between them.

And Yumi...

... Mikoto begged her, back then, with tears in her eyes. Pleaded nakedly for her to protect Eri, even if she could not abide their actions. It is not in her nature to plead for serious things. Pleading is something she does when she's happy and casual. When it will not hurt so much to be denied.

She is not denied.

Yumi is on her way.

Yumi is not alone.

"Kasagami," she says, as lidded eyes see crimson darting out on the footholds of her nemesis. There is no volume behind the relief.

For all Kasagami has wounded her, she is here, now, to make sure they are safe. She will see Kyouko safe, with roselike efficiency.

Yumi will see Eri safe. She latches onto her, pulls her from the brackish water.

Sharp eyes soften in relief, and Mikoto sighs as she slumps forward, obsidian fading when there is no one left to catch on its edges. It's over. They're all right. If she could just... close her eyes for a moment...

... she can't. There's Yumi's voice, again, calling her back from the edge of oblivion. Mikoto staggers standing, wrenching obsidian from steel. One hand grasps the hilt of her blade as the other catches the wrist of Lost Ivy, and Mikoto holds on. She is light; Miroku is heavy.

Dangling from her grasp, she can see the shape of Eri, now.

She is battered. She is bruised. She is torn.

She is alive.

She is alive, and it is not just exhaustion which unfocuses her gaze as tears well in those big yellow eyes.

Mikoto had been so scared that perhaps Sayaka really could kill Eri. That perhaps Eri was too tortured, had slowed down too much. That she may not be able to stop the coming retribution.

"E..ri..." Mikoto breathes, and it is relief and it is weariness and it is gratitude and there is something heavy which weighs the mora as they leave her lips.

Love is such a heavy thing.

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

Madoka may not realize it, since Sayaka's such a strong swimmer now. But Kozue had to teach Sayaka how to swim, when they were young. They were like resentful cousins back then, more often than not. But Kozue kept her from sinking and taught her to kick her legs the right way. She was not unkind.

It's been so long since then. Things changed between them. They got much worse, and then they got better, better like Sayaka didn't even know existed. It hasn't been that way for very long, and for much of that time the waters were already rising about their ankles. But Kozue was always there. Kozue kept her from sinking.

The waterfall is behind Kozue's back by several meters now, but its spray patters thickly over the two girls. Sayaka's arm is fully extended beneath her head, and she rests on it as if napping. When Kozue pulls herself against Sayaka, Sayaka is a bit warm, and the space between them warms a little as well, compared to the cool water raining down on them. With the two girls huddled together, they can make something safe for a moment or two.

Slowly, the mist gathering on Sayaka's eyelashes sparkles into little droplets, rising like morning dew.