2018-11-08 - Oktavia Sonate

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Oktavia Sonate

United in hope, the Chevaliers and Shepherds enter the demense of the Witch Oktavia in order to bring Sayaka back. They are quickly forced to split up when an innocent victim appears, a group peeling off to save him and any others that might be at risk during the operation.


Oktavia von Seckendorff, Kyouko Sakura, Fate Testarossa, Setsuna Meioh, Yumi Ohzora, Kasagami Araki, Michiru Kaioh, Madoka Kaname, Kozue Kaoru, Nori Ankou, Setsuna Higashi, Utena Tenjou, Mikoto Minagi, Haruka Tenoh


Haneda Airport

OOC - IC Date:

10/27/2018 (moved up for continuity) - 05-27-2015

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ 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.                                                                  
<Pose Tracker> Oktavia von Seckendorff [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Street Spirit - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBnzeG1BvM8

"Please obey all posted signs and directives. Employees are standing by to assist you in reaching your terminal. We thank you for your patience."

The sign says DANGER: DO NOT ENTER.

Most of Haneda has been repaired to functionality, if not aesthetic beauty, after the violent hurricane ripped it apart. A functional airport is not optional, and so repairs that would have taken months have been been executed within days by constant rotating shifts of engineers and laborers. The most vital terminal was, fortunately, the least damaged, and though it is tarp-strewn and scaffolded, it is bright and functional again. But that is not where the Chevaliers and Shepherds have to go.


The north wing is a maze, hanging with rubber-insulated cables like jungle vines, the walls still trickling with water from ruptured plumbing. Metal catwalks have been installed across ravaged areas of flooring tile that are no longer walkable, with other holes simply marked by yellow ribbons of tape. Workers have strung plastic cage-string lights along the path, though the generator lies silent, and so the lights sleep as well. Polished metal fittings and decorative arrangements of tile were once tended nightly by cleaning crews, but now many have been drilled through or cut open callously in order to access a pipe or wire. Simple, obscure symbols are sprayed here and there to indicate the hidden anatomy behind the walls, and standardized warning posters dense with small block-letter text detail best-practice procedures for dealing with them.

"Please obey all posted signs and directives. Employees are standing by to assist you in reaching your terminal. We thank you for your patience."

Needless to say, it has been difficult to be certain no one slipped into the Labyrinth. But the watch has been vigilant.

The warren of scaffolding and dusty tile opens up like a cathedral upon entering the shopping centre. The glass from shattered skylights lies mostly in situ, and glitters like bladed dew in the orange triangles of sunset that hang from the ceiling like columns of gilded dust. The central column is the elevator, bronzed by the fading sun, its doors permanently open to the first floor now. Rows of large ruined windows stare down from the upper floors, the stores there suffering greatly from flood damage. Sparkling threads of falling water still connect the upper story to the ground.

The workers have largely left this area alone, as it is not vital to the airport's function. This is the only reason it's been defensible at all. But it seems like their behavior when they pass through this area has gotten a bit odd, or else the area itself has done so. The best-practice posters are plastered everywhere, often in duplicate, many overlapping others, some with symbols spray-painted right on them. Some of the text seems corrupted, as if by computer error. Sentences trail into nonsense and resume as if nothing had happened. Words are printed right over other words. And often, lines are squeezed apart or punctured by strange, heavy-looking runes. They are incomprehensible, but they all say the same thing over and over again.

"Please obey all signs. Employees are standing to assist you in reaching your terminal. We thank you for your patience."

The PA still works.

There's water coming down the elevator shaft somehow, dribbling onto the top. It doesn't come through the roof, but all three glass walls show the subtle distortion of a constant sheet of liquid sliding down them. In front of the open door, someone has spraypainted a simple heart design, bisected by an arrow.

The heart says, LOVE ME DO.

<Pose Tracker> Kyouko Sakura [None] has posed.

Kyouko Sakura stands tall, a broad tipped spear hung light in a loose grip, the long limbed weapon's blunt butt grinding into the ground. Looking around her at the girls assembled, friends and former foes, she allows herself a small smile. They were still an army, but now their purpose has shifted. The red haired ravager of Tokyo had called for aid, and her call has been answered.

"Thank you. All of you." Kyouko nods slightly, and glances sideways to Madoka. If her guess bears out, it'll all come down to the sweet pink haired girl alongside her. Even if it doesn't, her small friend will be the crux of the operation. Succeed or fail, everything comes down to her safety.

"Normally, fighting a Witch is about defeating them as quickly and cleanly as possible. Today we've gotta go a whole other way. It will be dangerous, but with all of us together we should be more than ready to handle it. Our aim is to get Madoka-chan as close as possible while keeping her safe. Hopefully it works. If it doesn't, then we have to be ready... for the worst. Don't take any chances and work together as a team. Our groups haven't worked together before but we each know how to look out for each other, only difference is that now we all have more people watching our backs."

Kyouko tosses her hair back, allowing its wild corona to spread with the wind. Her soul gem flashes in her hand, and the way forward is made clear by the otherworldly scar marking the Labyrinth's entrance.

"If the Witch feels threatened it will probably summon its minions to its defense, so that's probably going to be the first obstacle."

She smiles, a smile meant to be seen this time.

"Thank you, all of you. I hope everybody's got a full belly. I'll make sure that's true after, too. My treat. Now let's go try and change fate."

Kyouko lifts her spear up in a flourish, cutting through the air in a sweeping salute to the soldiers assembled. Spinning on her heel, she marches into the breach, her wild mane the last thing seen before she vanishes completely.

COMBAT: Michiru Kaioh transforms into Sailor Neptune!
COMBAT: Haruka Tenoh transforms into Sailor Uranus!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki transforms into Crimson Rose Duelist!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi transforms into HiME Mikoto!
COMBAT: Madoka Kaname transforms into Madoka Kaname!
COMBAT: Setsuna Meioh transforms into Sailor Pluto!
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora transforms into Witch Ivy!
COMBAT: Utena Tenjou transforms into Revolutionary Girl Utena!
<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

When she met Sayaka Miki for the first time, she envied her, admired her. For her strong moral character, for having it so together, for how easily she seemed to make friends, how quick she was to laugh. She'd watched her grow more distant and stretched - fatigued. As the world took more and more away from her. Until it stole away her humanity too.

It's a little like walking backwards for Fate. Her life has been an upswing from despair unto hope. From isolation unto attachment. And yet now to try to get her back, she must walk through these dark places again. Until she reaches a place that seems primordial and dark - places that steal away parts of you and leave you feeling empty and hollowed out.

If it required her to move in the opposite direction to get her back though, she'd do it. The airport is in ruins, and it feels so wrong and right all at once. The authoritarian calls of what to do. The monument of primeval destruction left in the wake of such a precious loss. It takes them all the way back to... LOVE ME DO

"It always comes back to that." Fate says quietly, to noone in particular. It's simply an act of vandalism - it should be meaningless by itself. Yet at the same time there's a rightness to it being at the core of this dark place.

A rightness that feels as bitter sweet of this coming together as Chevalier and Shepherd in that she cannot enjoy it. It took too much from them to achieve it. And what happens if this truce is only a temporary one? What if it all collapses after? She has to hope otherwise.

Kyouko thanks all of them as Fate takes her place among them, and Fate's nod seems sullen, thoughtful as she looks at Madoka. Before she squares up her shoulders, eyes determined. "If that's what it takes. We'll be ready." Changing fate? Fate's eyes fall upon her polearm device. There's something almost sadly wistful in the concept. Nanoha trying to change destiny with such small hands. Fate trying to cleave through it with a sword.

To be used up then discarded. That is what her mother intended. She'd changed it, without a doubt.

Could Sayaka's be changed?

The fate of becoming a monster - of her corpse becoming a seed merely to fuel whichever Puella Magi defeated her. To be used... then discarded like garbage.

Fate's grip tightens imperceptibly, "Bardiche. Let's do our best - for her sake." Whatever Bardiche thinks in this moment is a mystery - he simply intones with his own customary loyalty. <Yes Sir.>

She wishes she were back in Nishitama with the others - laughing, joking as they exterminated familiars like pests. Enjoying Madoka Kaname's snacks...

It can never be that way again. And she knows it. Something has changed.

A thin spray of water drifts over her as she enters the void scar that Kyouko had opened. She's too old to be afraid of the dark, yet she finds her eyes closing as she steps inside.

COMBAT: Fate Testarossa transforms into Barrier Jacket Assault!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Pluto [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Dark heels click in perfect cadence along debris-strewn tiling to announce the presence of Sailor Pluto among the assembling. She gave her word she would be here, and the senshi is a Shepherd with loyalties professional and personal. The Garnet Rod shines diagonally across her torso, held with light and ready fingers, its Orb casting diffuse radiance upon both its master and the intimidating young swordswoman she arrives next to.

Unhinged posters keep drawing her eyes. "There is no getting used to this," she says in low tones, and it's an encompassing sort of remark. There is no getting used to the disintegrating confusion embedded in the signs, and there is no getting used to the idea that they are about to enter the Labyrinth of Sayaka Miki. "But, we do what we must."

She's come to a solemn acceptance of their task; the senshi is used to doing what she must. Grave garnet eyes attend to Kyouko Sakura, and a grave nod follows the short speech. Their new allies-at-arms surround them. She draws a deep and fortifying breath, releasing it slowly, and focuses on the steady beat within her chest.

Privately she thinks, Change fate? But she does not voice the thought. Instead she looks to Madoka Kaname, the brave and vulnerable civilian among them, and keeps it to herself. "We are here," she says instead. Her gloved knuckles seek a quick brush against the back of her girlfriend's hand before they follow their red-maned leader into the Labyrinth.

Kyouko Sakura walks over from Yamanote High City.

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

Danger. Caution. ...Don't enter, wear safety equipment. Employees are standing by.

Setsuna Higashi has long memories of construction sites on this planet; isolated places, places roped off from the presence of ordinary people, places discouraging wandering around. She used to find them good for thinking. ...Good for confrontations, too.

Walking down abandoned halls and ruined machinery seems strange as Cure Passion, though. The metal catwalks and exposed wires make her think of another world, another life. ...Not Earth. But it's where they have to go for their purpose, isn't it? ...To get to the one left behind.


Yumi Ohzora, for her part, doesn't have a hard time blending into the group as they travel. But she's not a particular fan of the cold. ...She crosses one arm around herself as they walk, the other hand green-gloved holding her staff. ...It's not the first time she's followed Kyouko, or listened to her. She isn't... especially full, for the record. It's sort of hard to eat when planning something like this. The truth is that she never got to know Sayaka Miki as a person, but as an enemy, as a frightening story...

As a frightening reality. But she was important to a girl who died in one of their battles; was important to more. ...The student of the girl who seemed to change so much about this war... Is it fate, that it turns out like this? Destiny, that it should all end this way?

'LOVE ME DO' lingers in Yumi's mind, even as she watches Kyouko's smile and smiles back to her for an instant.


Passion's red eyes, too, linger on that grafitti. It's a simple wish, isn't it? Something anyone could want--those who don't have it would need. ...Something that lingers, through death, to...

"...I'll do my very best," Passion promises quietly.


Yumi glances at Fate for a moment, before she goes. ...And then forward. She walks with the others, and tries to pin down the anxiety she feels. Saving a Witch; breaking a curse. ...It should be something from a storybook, right?

A few more steps is all it takes.

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

"So an endurance match testing our skills and teamwork, huh!? Sounds like a challenge!" Beneath the eagerness she so often shows to leap into battle and at a physical challenge, there's an extra bit of tension to Kasagami Araki. She's extra focused, and while everyone arrived the Duelist has seemed somewhat impatient. As if this night is putting her on edge, or she wishes to meet some kind of outcome head on.

She's clad in black jeans and a red muscle shirt for tonight, big english words 'Keep Going' done in all caps in white on it. Her coat is slung over her shoulders as per usual with her nodachi's sheath held behind it. The long weapon is casually held over one shoulder. She's gone for a somewhat large, looped belt over the slightly baggy jeans. In it, she's slung a full daisho to match her primary weapon, and an extra bokken or two. Decked out like she's going to war with the fate that Kyouko invokes.

The light the Garnet Rod casts upon her reveals a grin. "We will do what we must to fulfill our duties and destroy the evil things, the injustices that should be erased. Together, Pluto!" Encourages Kassie in a tone that has so much passion ready to be unleashed. She's been thinking about why they're here. Why she is here.

The night before this, she told herself she is not here for Sayaka Miki's sake. It might not entirely be a lie, either. What she is here for is to stop an injustice so many amongst her allies and enemies were blind and unware of. That she is one of the blind in that category adds a deep little twist to the knife that is the unfairness of Puella Magi and Witches. She hates it, and the cruelties it brings into the world.

It would take a Miracle to work. But Kasagami has her head into dreams, desires, miracles and Revolution! And with an eye to a certain young girl that she once had a hand in kidnapping, who cares so much and has proven to be more brave than she gave credit for, a little bit more hope rises up in her heart.

A simple nod to the wild redhead's plan, and of her thanks. "I'm holding you, and EVERYONE to that afterparty Kyouko-chan!" She offers no subtlety in her sentiments here.

Boots hammer forward, eyeing the symbols and words etched onto each other. Warnings utterly ignored, damage that was done by the battle of magical girls and Witch against each other. Kassie's good eye takes it all in and then she's leaning into the brush of a warm, beloved senshi hand. Her hair briefly flutters, entangling in a few strands. Black, red, and dark emerald are a brief swirl before they're both gone into that tear that Kyouko made for them. Her sword briefly cuts splashes of water that dare threaten the one beside her with their falling chill, replaced briefly by sweet roses kissed with the scent of stars.

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Neptune [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

SAILOR NEPTUNE, acting with elegance, is here for the sake of the safety of the people of Haneda Airport and Tokyo beyond. She also, very likely, feels a certain degree of responsibility for the situation, given what she said to Eri Shimanouchi not so long ago, as the clock flies.

LA SIRENE DE DIAMANT, dark and glamorous, is also here, and a lot nearer to the front. She has been standing still for a few moments, the lantern at her waist seeming to gently pulsate - a peristaltic motion mostly clear because, for once, she is standing in one place for a long while.

She has had many thoughts and many worries about what has come to this date, but she has had, at least, few great surprises - other than one nasty one, as yet unrevealed aloud.

But that fact has steeled la Sirene. She was already in grief, in pain, in anguish for her friend, whether killed or simply immutably changed... but now all of that is true, and in addition, she is furious. Furious and dedicated to a cause. For if she cannot aid or further this redemption, she will, at least, be able to spite that girl - HOMURA AKEMI.

But spite is like the fuel for a turbine. You cover turbines. You put them within great dams and tap them for power.

La Sirene gazes at Kyouko and tells her, with the wisp of a smile, "Yes."

"I intend to take full advantage of your offer. So I suppose I must hold my end of the bargain up...!"

As the rift is opened, la Sirene wonders: What would it have been like if we had simply fell into it? (She has fallen into the Labryinth of a Witch herself, after all, driven by tears. She has wondered about that, if only after-the-fact.)

"Madoka," la Sirene says - but then she changes matters. Reaching to take her friend's hand in her own for a moment, for emphasis, she looks round towards Shepherd and Chevalier alike. How to say this? she thinks:

"You have to bear so much of our hopes. We must all do our best to be sure that no harm comes to you, by accident, before we can reach Sayaka's heart."

Heart feels right. Sayaka, in a sense, has it on her sleeve... doesn't she?

Love me do, la Sirene thinks. Love she does. And from there, into the breach.

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

There is a stack of bento, back at the Kaname household, that Tomohisa Kaname is puzzling over. Why, Madoka's Papa wonders, did his increasingly culinary-minded child make a whole bunch of beautiful meals, and then just leave them behind? They aren't stored properly -- this was an impulsive decision, they're next to Tatsuya's sneakers, by the door -- he will have to chide her later for almost wasting food.

Shaking his head, he considers calling her cell phone, asking if she wants him to meet her wherever she's going for her picnic. He already knows the answer, though, and on some profound fatherly level he knows, too, that this was a conscious decision, not a forgetful one. So instead, after fingering the screen for a moment, Papa slides his own phone back into his pocket, hefts the stack into the fridge, and goes back out to the garden.

Madoka arrives empty-handed.

Except, that is, for the many hands offered her, and the few she offered those too cool to offer who kind of look like they could use hers instead. A gentle squeeze, a reassurring look. A tiny smile that dares to hope. These are the tools in her arsenal, and she uses them as best she can.

She's in uniform. Not because this was after school, which it was, nor because she didn't have time to go home and change, which she did, but because this winter uniform, which has by late May overstayed its welcome by several degrees, is theirs.

Her eyes trail over the posters, the repeating runes, the graffiti.

It all says the same thing to her:




Yes, it's their uniform. The one they earned. The one they admired so when it adorned the figure of their senpai. The one they wanted to all wear together.

Unfairly, pink hair and red ribbons are great accents for mustard yellow.

She isn't the stammering, weeping creature of the karaoke bar today; there is a quiet resolve lurking in the stiffness of her shoulders, the lift of her jaw. The look in her eyes is hard to read, which is unusual for her. It's not that she's hiding anything. It's just that things are complicated, and therefore so is she.

But what she has to say, isn't.

Madoka doesn't have a speech. She intones some of the most-spoken words in the Japanese language. It means please. It means thank you. It means nice to meet you. It means I'll do my best. It means let's work hard together. It means I'm counting on you. It means I am in your debt.

But it has a literal meaning, too.

"Please take care of me," she cries all in a rush, after plans are recapped and promises are made. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu. It comes out squeaky, but heartfelt also. She bows fast and low, until she's facing the ground, and looking at her distorted reflection in a puddle. Her rise is much slower, befitting the depth of her gratitude.

And then she's at the door. The tear in the world.

Looking back over her shoulder, she holds out her hand to the irreplaceable second half of the plan to save Sayaka Miki. The one Sayaka loved. The one Madoka loves, too. Just that reason would have been enough -- has been enough -- but now she has her own, as well.


Madoka has gone through these portals countless times, now.

Every single time, she was afraid.

Every single time, she went through anyway.

She makes a little hop to make sure her shrimpy stride clears the bottom of the gash, then enters the labyrinth hand in hand with Kozue Kaoru.

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

Kozue Kaoru is utterly unreadable. She does not look at anyone. Talk to anyone. There is a certain amount of indignity she suffers in this gathering. She is Chevalier because of her strong tie to someone. She is Shepherd because of her worldview. She is neither because of her betrayal - and because of her loyalty. She doesn't care though.

Some hate her so much she's even been tortured - and for good reason. Some could turn on her and use this opportunity to dispose of her for good.

She just doesn't care. Her pride - her security doesn't factor into this. All that matters is one thing. And for that one thing, she would allow anything if it would bring her back - transfigure grief seed back into soul gem.

She shows no shame in the destruction she caused to the airport. She heeds not the warnings of the signs. Her eyes do linger upon the graffiti for a moment. Torn between hope in a haiku and despair in it being random circumstance and hope again in the witch that was Sayaka Miki choosing this place.

As Kyouko explains, she is silent. She has nothing motivating she can say to either Chevalier nor Shepherd. Her eyes simply shutter as she takes a simple ragged breath as La Sirene speaks to Madoka.

And as Madoka makes her call to take care of them. And then the girl is offering her a hand. Kozue steps forward, places her hands in there. There's something uncertain in her eyes for a moment.

I know it's my fault, but Kozue-chan... You don't understand me very well.

Kozue steps up alongside Madoka Kaname as Kyouko tears open a portal into the beyond.

I'll help you however I can without leaving the school. I mean that.

Her hand takes the other girl's, her eyes lingering upon her for a moment. And then she can't look at her. As they walk towards the portal, her strides are smaller to match hers. And she looks straight forward as she speaks to the other girl on the way. "When SEARRS invaded Ohtori - I tried to convince her to leave you behind."

It is stated so matter of factly. After what Madoka has confessed to Kozue Kaoru about her own experiences, her own trauma, her own torture. She cannot allow this omission to stand right now. Not because it changes anything. She is not apologizing.

But I can't leave Madoka-chan. I made a promise to her.

She cannot let it stand because of what it tells her about Sayaka Miki and Madoka Kaname. "She wouldn't leave you though. No matter what." There's something hollow in that. "And that's why I know she'll come back for you."

Swallowing, the other girl gets ready to step in, and says it quietly.

"Together..." And then something else as they step through. A lonely syllable that is cut off by their first step into the labyrinth together, "Cass-"

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Something About Us (instrumental) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBe4ea8Jgs4


Utena reaches out across the low dorm room table, piled high with books and papers and chips and Chu-Chu, and hesitates, her fingertips an electric atom above her napping roommate's hands.

She wanted to squeeze them goodbye, but there's something about the single violet curl falling out of its viciously tight twist, across the napping face of her counterpart, that makes her hesitate by the simple expedient of catching her breath in her throat.

Instead she unsheaths a pen and dashes off a note.

Off to the tea party

Back in time for supper

Hopefully returning with a friend

Once she's out of the room and the door is safely, quietly shut behind her, she coughs the knot out of her throat and gasps for air.

At the threshhold of the dorm, she reaches down, pulls on her sneakers, taps her toes into their ends more firmly on the floor. Right foot, left foot.

She looks over her shoulder, once, as though she's just manifested X-Ray vision and can gaze through the walls and ceilings, back to the peaceful place she's just left.

Then she walks out the door.



Utena's fingertips trail across a set of best-practice posters spread like a hand of cards. Between Ohtori and a founding membership in the Chevaliers, her life is thick with Witches, but her stomach shifts uncomfortably, as it has every time she's stood watch here, at the unfamiliar familiarity she feels.

A show of nerves -- she plays hopscotch over some puddles, kicking up a tiny shower around her, then knowing, from the feeling of the drops sliding down her bare legs, that she is here, and that this is real, and that it is time.

She's armed with a meterstick, three full feet of wood and metal and ink and an exactingly precise definition of what it is, tucked into the palm of her hand, then twisted behind her arm and up her back, which she filched from her favorite classroom.

She looks left, looks right, looks at her friends. Is anyone here really an enemy anymore? Were they ever, when it turned out that the real enemy was the world itself all along?

A second look, for those she's closest to. Kozue, Kasagami. She flashes them a hopeful V.

"We're going to keep our promise," she says firmly, clenching a fist over her heart. "No matter what."

Sayaka Miki will not become a murderer.

No, that wasn't the promise, was it? There was another one, a deeper one, sworn in the back of La Sirene's car.

No more.

No more deaths, no more dying. It's impossible. People die every day. You could even talk about how death is a natural part of life, the final frontier, blah blah blah blah.

That doesn't make the oath beating in Utena Tenjou's chest any less revolutionary.

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

Promises on promises on promises.

Haneda has rebuilt itself before their eyes, through days too short for all the tasks afforded them. Mikoto has done her diligence in standing vigil, with her own flawed methods. She at times snaps at workers or onlookers who press too hard, because she is not good at convincing them to leave well enough alone.

She can't tell them the truth, after all.

The truth is a more snarled and complex thing than they could possibly appreciate. It is a tapestry of errors and uncertainties which has woven together to form an impossible picture: working with girls who cannot abide her actions. Mikoto, in handing off her watch to Chevaliers, has been at times standoffish or gruff or cold, and even in her softer moments, it would be difficult to call her very friendly. But she has brought food for them, each time she has come to relieve them in their watch, no matter who is there.

Perhaps it's an effort to communicate nonaggression which Kyouko could appreciate.

She has not brought food now, though certainly she has eaten. Mikoto is a liability on an empty stomach. Grasping Miroku's hilt in her hands, she follows Kyouko forward. She's wearing white shorts, a yellow v-flared top, a suspiciously-fashionable light cotton jacket in white and red pattern which has all the seeming of Akamira. Perhaps it is a mercy that she can still think she is following Kyouko - and the Chevaliers are circumstantial. (They're not. They never were.) She listens, sharp-eyed, as Kyouko lays out their impossible plan, and she tries to push aside the doubt in her heart which comes from eight months of hunting Witches. Kyouko has been doing this far longer, Mikoto reminds herself. If Kyouko thinks it possible - maybe there's a chance. She has to believe.

Oh, but a 'maybe' is a dangerous little thing.

Because all her options are narrowing to zero.

This has to work. They have to make this work.

Those golden eyes fall on Madoka. She is not a shield, but she understands the importance of protecting her in this place. She does not have bones which can withstand shattering force like Mikoto, nor a Barrier Jacket to defend her body like Fate. And she is still here. She is the bravest of all of us, Mikoto thinks, though in the intensity of her expression she says nothing. There is resolution, there; she will keep her safe, because Madoka was kind to her, even when she was angry.

Please take care of me, she says, and Mikoto nods. "I will."

It's the least she can offer to a girl who reached out for her hand when she felt so distant from everyone. From her allies, for betraying her conviction and allying herself with the enemy. From her enemies, for so many myriad reasons. From everyone, because...

Is it relieving - that some of the assembled girls seem hale and hearty despite the injuries they have suffered? (Despite, she thinks, with a glance to Setsuna and Fate, the injuries she has inflicted on them?) Perhaps it's fine, to think of it simply as them being better able to apply themselves to this situation. If they're healthy, they'll fight harder. Thinking of it that way - it's okay, right?

This would be so much simpler if they could settle their differences.

But Mikoto must do as she must, and she knows they will not allow it.

It makes everything so much more complicated.

Hunting Witches used to be simple. Things which knew only hate and hunger, dim-witted and dangerous. And now, there's so much more to consider. Now 'LOVE ME DO' stamps across a heart, alongside gibberish signs and destruction. Eri said there was a piano. Mikoto assured her there was nothing left. She'd sounded so sure.

It's hard to admit, isn't it? Being afraid.

There are a lot of things Mikoto hasn't admitted, recently... but her fear isn't one of them.

Nothing makes sense any more.

Kyouko's hair flutters like a war-banner, and Mikoto inclines her head in a nod. She does not smile. She so rarely smiles with her blade in hand. Sailor Pluto has already established their presence. "I won't fail," she says, instead, and the words are chill and sure.

It is the only solace she offers Kozue, sensing the other girl is on her own distant shore. It is entirely indirect.

She says nothing of what comes after. She is too focused to chatter like Kasagami does. For all their similarities, they are startlingly different in their approaches to tension - though they are both so tense.

And Mikoto steps through the veil, as she has so many times before.

It's not the same. Maybe it never will be again.

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Uranus [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

SAILOR URANUS, acting with elegance, is here to honor a pact, and to protect the city. She stays close by her partner, but, strangely, neither of them seem to have arrived with Pluto, and they do not particularly seem to want to rendezvous with her now that they've arrived.

The individual lives here aren't meant to mean much. But when Madoka asks to be looked after, Uranus is taken aback for a moment. She nods briefly, and makes a soft noise of agreement. "Nn."

She follows Kyouko into the Labyrinth ready. She may not be in support of this plan per se, but if Kyouko wants to ask her to act as though she believes in miracles for a day, that's fair enough.

Soon, the Outers will be asking Kyouko to act as though she doesn't.

<Pose Tracker> Oktavia von Seckendorff [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

The passage into the Labyrinth is understated. There is no sizzle of energy, no howling portal. But the closer you walk to the entrance Kyouko made inside the elevator, the more things change. Smoothly the little rectagular elevator stretches into a grand entrance hall with black and white checkerboard tiles. They are hard, and cold if one touches them, but they look as though they were poured molten onto an uneven surface, as the ground is not a perfect plane. It's more like a loose bedsheet.

Leading directly forward, however, there is a red velvet carpet that looks as though it steamed the ground flat. The entrance hall is vast, perhaps five stories tall and fifty meters wide, and the hallway ahead narrows greatly, though it still seems made for something larger than a human. You can only see into it through the windows in its heavy double-doors, but the windows are large enough for a decent glimpse. It is lined at regular intervals by velvet-draped mirrors--or windows? Portraits? Something seems to flicker in them, but from this side angle it's hard to see.

There's a song playing somewhere, and judging by how it resonates in the walls, it must be very loud. But it's far away from here.

https://tinyurl DOT com/yala57v7

The mood in here is dour, gothic, abstract. There's an obsession with straight geometric lines, like the tiled ground, and yet like the tiled ground the structure betrays its architect, bending and sagging. Only one angle is perfect, and it is not a right angle at all: the wall behind you. It is the inside of a perfect sphere, it seems, though the curvature is so gradual that it suggests a truly vast Labyrinth.

There is a soft chime, of the sort that would precede an announcement in a fancy hotel. But it is not Sayaka's voice, just the same nameless female airport employee as before. "Please obey all signs. Employees are assisting you in standing your terminal. We thank you for your directives."

The lights in the room are the sort of formal fixtures meant to invoke lanterns. They are so dim that they only really illuminate areas of the wall; the visibility in this place seems to come from everywhere, a dim haze from each surface. A tasteful black wire links them in a chain, but when they reach the area by the entrance, the wire turns yellow. One of the plastic cage lights from outside is half-embedded in the black wall there. Slowly, the sphere trembles, and the cage light sinks through the wall and melts. The plastic grows harder and colder, morphing halfway into a lantern. The Labyrinth is growing.

From the hallway before you, there is a sound like the guttering throat of a metal alligator, and then a crash. It, too, must be very loud, and very far away. It reaches you with a rattle of light fixtures and a slight puff of breeze, which interrupts the song only by its own volume. Suddenly, some sort of four-legged thing is coming towards you from the hall, in an unnatural mixture of a trot and a scamper. It is visible for just a few seconds when it is at the extreme other end of the hall, and then it disappears, no longer visible through the angle of the window. But in moments, you hear its trotscampering feet, and the door bursts open wide.

Four large, perfectly circular glass eyes stare at you. Two spindly dolls stand in the doorway--not four legs, but two pairs of two, it seems.


The dolls wear a school uniform with skirt. They have slim bodies and seams at their limbs. Their eyes look like tiny Victorian windows, and their mouths are nothing but an ornate metal keyhole. Their skin seems to be a pallid white, but it constantly ripples with different patterns of watery blue. And their short, pert blue hairstyle is very, well. Familiar.

Between the dolls is the limp form of an adult man. They're holding him up like a palanquin. He, unlike everything else in here, looks quite normal; in fact, he has an orange construction vest on, dusty jeans, and work boots. There's no visible sign of damage on him, but no clear sign of life, either.

The glasseyed dolls are frozen for just a moment, apparently by surprise. Then they start trotscurrying again, fleeing out a side door that is, unfortunately, a lot closer to them than it is to you. That hallway is a normal human size, and seems to have some sort of orange girders lining its walls. The unlucky human they have captured bounces along atop their gripping hands.

And thus a dilemma: the Witch has been kind enough to make the path to its sanctum extremely obvious. But there seems to be somewhere else that victims of the Witch are taken...

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

Fate's boots make this faint scraping noise until suddenly they are muffled by carpet - and then she opens her eyes. All of her seems... alert. Alert and overstimulated by the crossing over into realities. The announcement sounds the same yet the words don't quite make the same amount of sense. The scenery taking on this strange new meaning. Are all these labyrinths really distorted landscapes of creatures that were once girls?

Fate finds a little shiver moving throughout her despite herself as she strains to make out the distant music. "What have you become - Sayaka?"

Even having fought witches, it's still a question this girl once from Dark Fall asks. She can comprehend a girl changing into a monster. This though... it feels too different, too strange. This tranformation that came from within - like it was a part of her rather than from outside forces acting upon her.

The labyrinth has this weird feeling of construction. Like it's growing larger, bigger before her eyes - and Fate's not sure what to think of that. Is what happened at that hospital what happens when a witch outgrows their labyrinth? Is that what will happen if they left her alone for too long.

Her eyes move slowly to Utena, La Sirene, Lost Ivy - with a sense of almost childlike dread gripping her.

But then there are familiars. Fate lets out this tiny strangled noise at a sight of the Liviannas - of their familiarity and yet the strangeness of their features. And that's before she sees them carrying off their victim, "Ah-!"

Fate's choice at least is clear right now. The mission called for not stirring the hornet's nest if possible. Yet Sayaka Miki - the Sayaka Miki who founded the Chevaliers before Mami Tomoe's death sent her into a spiral of despair would want them to save who they can. "-I'm going after them!"

Fate's feet leave the carpet as she starts her flight towards the door they fled through.

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

"NOPE," announces Utena, bounding into motion the instant she sees the captured man.

Every hair stands on end from the distant music washing over her. It doesn't matter that the words are unintelligable -- she knows them by heart. Her lips want to unconsciously mouth the words, and they did for the first few seconds, before the sight of the construction worker, and the familiars, stung them away and replaced them with defiance.

Stupid. Of course, if they're all inside, there's no one left to keep the construction workers clear. DUH. That means they'll have to work hard to clear out the labyrinth and rescue people, even as some confront Sayaka -- it's still Sayaka, it has to be Sayaka -- at its heart.

Her choice of weapon was neither lazy nor inadequate, and the crazed architecture of this place has borne out her gut feeling, that a ruler would be an extremely appropriate thing, even a powerful thing, to confront her stubborn, passionate, line-in-the-sand friend with. Or her creatures, as the case may be. The straight and narrow. The right and wrong.

It whistles behind her, now held in a reverse-dagger grip despite its length, as she turns into a pink blur of muscle, sweat, and the smell of wild roses.

She leaves words in her wake as she catches up to Fate.

"Yumi, Kasagami, c'mon! We're going to need more people to keep clearing the place out, or else while we're with Sayaka, who'll be with everyone else?"

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Neptune [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

"Away they go," Sailor Neptune says. Her eyes turn to her side, slightly upwards. She asks, with a soft rhetorical lightness, "What do you think of their chances? I have been afraid to look, myself."

In they go.

Neptune walks into horror and chaos with calm and poise. Some of this is just her own nature, but much of it is knowing that come what may, they will survive. She is not here alone; the others, younger perhaps, are searching for the one who they love most. Sailor Neptune has won that quest already.

She answers Fate, as they step. "I wonder. This place... It reminds me of Budapest, or an Escher print." Her lips purse -

The familiars! The man! 'Nope,' declares Utena, and Neptune looks to Uranus with a faint motion of the shoulder as if to say it-can't-be-helped as her hand comes upwards:


Even here, in this distorted realm, where music leaks like water through a damaged geological formation --

Some things can be counted upon.


The spiralling sphere of vividly turquoise water, ringed by magenta, races ahead as if to see if it can reach the rearmost familiar before Fate and Utena do.

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

Everything in a Labyrinth is an enemy. Even the walls, sometimes, because velvet doesn't need to be velvet, and perhaps at times there is mercury to a mirror... and there is always something new a Witch can surprise Mikoto with, some novel warping of reality. It feels like biting into aluminium, at the back of her molars - like tasting battery acid at the back of her tongue. It's a poison she never should have swallowed. The hair at the back of her neck prickles, and she knows she is just a little more meat in this place.

But she has long since proven that not all prey is helpless. She is savage in her own right.

It's something which serves her well, as the Liviannas startle. This is the same dilemma Mikoto Minagi has faced countless times. Let an innocent soul be taken - or snuff out the Familiar and save their lives.

It's too bad, really.

A year ago, she would have chased after that man without hesitation.

A lot can change in a year.

And isn't it the most natural thing - for prey animals to let the weak be taken so that the rest will survive?

Mikoto averts her gaze from the man she condemns and continues stalking down the obvious path towards the Witch, as she has so many times before. Perhaps it seems entirely heartless, but for the clipped words she tosses over her shoulder.

"Go ahead. We'll see to Witch."

She does not say: save them, if you can. Just save someone.

It would be the greatest kind of hypocrisy, and hypocrisy is just like lying.

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

It helps, some, to hear that familiar bold outpouring of words from the girl at her side. "You would challenge the night itself if it grew too dark too bear," Pluto replies to her love. "And I don't think the night would be nearly so prepared for the fight as you are, Kassie." The injustices of the world... The senshi thinks of a girl with sharp dark hair and deep dark eyes, and then does her level best to put the thought out of her mind. One tragedy at a time.

Can they reverse this one?

It is safer for Sailor Pluto to believe they cannot, and she knows it. Her eons-long understanding of the world she has watched all this Time does not allow for such reversals. Beautiful kingdoms fall to the tides of war; children must be killed for the greater good, and girls who would be heroes become monsters instead. These are the wages of this world's justice.

She does not say any of these things. Instead, she says: "Together." Because whatever comes, they are.

Upon passing nearby Madoka she gives the girl a brief and complicated look, and utters her own version of those words back: "I will do my best." To keep you safe, and to see this through. Her own beliefs or lack thereof do not enter into it. She carefully does not look at the blue-haired girl beside Madoka.

Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus do not receive precisely the same treatment, though it may seem close if one ignores the nuance -- easy to do with a senshi so self-contained and quiet, unless one knows her well. The difference is that Sailor Pluto gives each of them veiled looks from the corner of her eye before forgoing such altogether. She matches long-legged strides with Kasagami, and two dark manes stream and mingle behind them as they pass into the Labyrinth.

Into the nightmare.

It is not Sailor Pluto's first experience with a Witch but she is no veteran; still, her earlier words echo back to her, feeling mocking. There is no getting used to this, even for this Guardian of the outermost planet. It is one thing to face down bizarre alien threats, and another altogether to enter all this contortion and distortion of things familiar. That steady beat she'd anchored herself to earlier thumps quicker in her chest, a rabbit-hop of primal fear. The fox's den bores deep and dark, tonight.

Even this stoic senshi cannot keep her arms from twitching at the oncoming scuttle-stomp, but when the doll figures emerge... she loses a step to the shock, one of her legs just doesn't swing forward, forgotten, and only a quick forward stumble keeps her moving instead of falling. Of course, Pluto thinks a bit numbly. Why wouldn't they look like her...?

Utena's shout is what spurs her back into the action. Given battle direction, the senshi takes it. She renews her dash, coursing toward the fleeing familiars with a resumption of her steady grace, and power gathers to the Garnet Orb as she goes -- a burning torrent that crackles as it grows, streaming flecks of twinkling black in her wake.

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

Things change. ...Things aren't the same, and they can't be. But the world as it is won't wait, and neither will the Witch within wait much longer, Yumi Ohzora is sure. As she steps inside the Labyrinth, she prepares herself for that. ...And really, the fact that the passage is fairly understated doesn't make things better. Yumi knows full well that there are frightening things that don't require suddenness to inflict their terror. She knows that very well.

The hair on the back of her neck stands up as Yumi finds herself on checkerboard tiles, looking into the carpet ahead, the vast entrance hall that distorts everything around them. It is large, too large, and Yumi is abrubtly conscious of the fact that she is not, ultimately. Double-doors; portraits. Reality itself flickers here, and Yumi swallows, steeling herself for what's coming. ...The world is... bent, in its way.

And it's growing. Growing, and... "For our... directives?" Yumi asks, and makes an effort not to focus on Labyrinths she's been in before. She slowly turns, taking in the sight. ...And there--

"Ah!" NOPE. Yumi sees the fleeing dolls at the same time, recoiling at the similarity of their features to a certain girl--frankly it makes her a little nauseous. But the man being carried off--

"Right!" Yumi calls as Utena calls her to action. She looks to Mikoto for an instant--"Okay. Be careful," she says. "...Make sure everybody comes back alive, Mikoto-chan. Everybody you can bring out."

With a flash of green, Yumi calls forth her broom--and sits down on it from the side, rushing forward in flight to keep up with Utena. ...And as she sees who else is joining them--

Yumi leans down hard on her broom to try to catch up to the Familiars, even in the wake of attacks coming.

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

The girl upon which part of their would-be Miracle tonight asks them to take care of her. Kassie doesn't say anything. A loosening knock to part of her daisho is a better answer than her boisterous lungs could ever give.

Utena gets a wink and a quick devil horns in turn. Confidence is easy when the One Engaged is around. The Prince won't let what has happened here stand, or so that is what one Kasagami Araki believes.

"I'd dissappoint Mom if I didn't come to a war armed to the teeth!" She quips quietly to Pluto in that space between spaces before they emerge to the oddity beyond.

The bending, odd angles and the perfect sphere behind them renders what would normally be a place of outstanding beauty into something instead misshapen and horrible. Not that Kasagami doesn't see the beauty in this place. Just the opposite, it steals a breath with it's grandeur and summons a growl on the increasing reminders that this isn't some fairytale entrance to a perfect ballroom. It's a place of dark windows, of skittering doll schoolgirls and music and crashing as this gothic world seeks to consume both space and people in it's pure, sickening hunger.

Fate's already skipping off after man and dolls, and Kasagami blinks. Utena, though, is ALSO off and that gives Kasagami issues. There's visible irritation in her features for a moment. There is also notably zero hesitation when Utena lays out her logic. Boots scuff the beautiful floor hard as she turns on a dime and is beating a tempo of utter disrespect to said floor even as her free hand goes into her coat's inner pocket.

"No dying on me, Mikoto Minagi!" Barks Kassie to Mikoto. To Utena, she's doing her darndest to gain as much on the Prince as she does on the actual target of their chase. Luckily, the rose-kissed knife in her hand has it's aim on the proper opponent. She kisses the flat of the blade for that much more luck.

"Utena-chan, you're surprisingly good at inconvenient truths!" That probably isn't a compliment, but the tone is there. She has no need to turn to see who strides beside her. She can feel that presence, the Garnet Rod's power, and the mere closeness of her beloved on the battlefield spurrs her on.

No need to slow down in this mad chase, her hair and coat fluttering behind her as her daisho tak-taks against each other lightly with every long-legged dash. Muscles burn hard in the chase, her athletic form stretching along with her magic to carry herself in a blurr.

Only to take a small leap mid run, haul back with her arm. Her good eye is a narrow slit. She waits just a second as the Outers unleash their attacks.

And then she flings that knife with the whole of her upper body towards the back of a doll's knee to try to make it's flight that much more difficult should she strike true! The knife shines, whistling as it travels gracefully through the air.

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Uranus [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

Best thing for it is to resolve this issue quickly, so the smaller group can rejoin their strength to the larger. No sense committing halfway.

"You always start too rough," Sailor Uranus complains as she runs alongside Sailor Neptune. "I like when you build up to it more."

<Pose Tracker> Oktavia von Seckendorff [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Concerto for Scissors In D Minor, Op. 313 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63jUVfRKKcs

Deep Submerge is a reckless choice at this range, with the Familiars carrying a captive. It careens into the hallway at an angle and clips the rearmost doll... which means the construction worker drops on that side, nearly falling into the blasting flow. But the Familiars seem to have a shared interest in their captive's survival, so the frontmost Familiar teeters on its feet, manages to haul the man's legs further onto her shoulders like a backpack. Before she can move, however, her companion grabs her ankle, apparently trying to get up or ask for help. Confused, the standing doll lifts her ankle and shakes it, trying to dislodge the hanger-on.

At that moment, Kasagami's knife whistles down the hall and sinks into the fallen Familiar's back. This weakens its arm, and as soon as the standing doll finds that the grip no longer keeps her leg from moving, she kicks the fallen doll in the face with an air of annoyance. She then flees further down the hall, leaving her companion on the ground with a broken glass eye.

Utena and Fate, first in pursuit, are the first to notice what is happening in the Familiar's wake. Her passage is disturbing the walls. What had seemed to be girders are actually rows upon rows of giant scissors.


The scissors slide from side to side, closing and opening to sidestep along their little shelves. Periodically, in perfect unison, they spin on the top of one blade, turn to face their neighbor, and tap blades with their raised half. Then they go back to sidestepping back and forth.

Or that's their normal behavior. The ones that Livianna passes start shivering, their handles wobbling like frightened eyes. Then they start leaping off the shelves en mass and galloping after her by opening and closing. Unfortunately, only a few are quick enough to react; the rest end up on the ground in time for Utena and Fate to reach them. The first few do not react, but they they begin to attack.

Yumi catches up rapidly, and could even outpace the others perhaps on her broom, but when she reaches Utena, she's already being assaulted by numerous, crudely shaped orange scissors. Oddly round, and about as long as a human arm, they are faster than their awkward bodies make them look. They frequently spring up high in the air and snip-snip-snip their way down for an unexpected angle. As the others arrive they are sailing to and fro between one wall of the hall to the other, like arrows in a lost temple, except chomping like sharks all the while. The entire hall is now clogged with scissory snipping noises and leaping enemies.

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

Fate casts Utena a grateful look as she pursues with her - as she calls for the others to help. <Incoming.> Fate weaves at the warning then deep submerge careens past - "What!?"

The energy takes the backmost familiar and in the flurry of activity that follow Fate's eyes are wide. Far be it from moralizing at the Outer Senshi though, she tries to accelerate to make up for lost time catching up to the familiars.

That's when she notices the walls moving.

They slice like blades in their synchronous dance. Before they shiver and attack their own familiars. Fate rears up. "Utena - they're-!" Fate's voice catches.

It's feels eerily surreal even to a child. These kind of scissors aren't even used in her own arts and crafts class at Infinity. Her friends - still elementary schoolers - would probably declare they're too grown up for that kind of baby stuff.

She's too grown up.

By all rights it doesn't feel like they should be able to even harm them. And yet she knows they can and will. As she blurts out the next word and tries to back up a pace to give them both more room, "-everywhere!"

Recognizing the narrow sort of hallway they're in and the impending dilemma of so many attacking at once. Bardiche chimes the name of Fate's choice of spell.<Plasma Lancer>

Runic rings form - with arrowheads of electricity forming within them. Fate sweeps Bardiche from on high to the floor in a vertical slice that's mostly flourish and command. "Fire!"

The projectiles tear through a few ranks of the scissor familiars - even as Fate declares. "Turn!"

They stop immediately, reinserting themselves in their runic ring, then change angles backswards and down as they sweep through oppositely electricity arcing from familiar to familiar in their wake.

"...I don't understand." The girl says to herself as she tries to scythe Bardiche through more of them in what has become her awkward advance through the hall. "Why scissors?"

The girl might as well be asking though 'why her? why Sayaka?' She wishes she knew the answer to these things that felt bigger than her.

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Battle Without Honor Or Humanity https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fQuEqwQ2I4 

Utena sees water and knife go soaring past them, and she is faced with a choice.

They are a tremendous risk, especially that globe, which is famous in some circles, though none she runs in personally. What's the point in fighting the familiars if the guy dies to tidal force?

She could slam the door behind her as she passes through it.

She could leave it open, but throw herself in the way.

But neither of these actions occur to her until after the fact, because Utena's first instinct -- indeed, one of her most defining traits -- is trust. She asked these allies to join her in the hunt, and they answered.

So those are afterthoughts that she has, after the magic and weapon zip by her. In the MOMENT, mostly her thought is relief, to be supported, and awe, at their impressive strength (and, a moment later, their impressive aim).

There's no real time for outrage, but anyway she isn't outraged -- she's impressed. Seeing that strength used to SAVE someone is honestly a stirring sight.

Of course, she has other thoughts as well, for example translating Fate's exceedingly timely warning that just saved her neck:


This, for the benefit of all. For the benefit of the man they're rapidly losing sight of, she immediately throws herself forward, into the densest clump, straight ahead.

She can do this because she trusts the others to watch her back. It is a silent announcement, but no less profound for its wordlessness. Utena has always been a creature of actions rather than words.

Her ruler doesn't just whistle in midair -- it screams. Whistling rulers are for Catholic nuns. She spirals through the air, parallel to the floor, and when she lands in a deep crouch, one leg extended, a half-dozen scissors fall with her, in pieces. This is only the beginning.

Constantly adjusting her grip for optimal destruction in this crazed corridor, Utena becomes an avatar of destruction. Light glitters down the metal straight-edge of the ruler like blood, and in her hands it is sharp enough to split atoms. The hot metallic scent of ozone rises around her in little puffs, behind each and every slash.

They are slashes; this is not a piercing weapon. But she isn't here to fence, and she isn't even here to duel. Utena lacks Miki's strategy, Juri's technique and Kasagami's fierce love of battle.

But though her poetry in motion may be staccato and full of broken syntax it is her imperfections that make Utena strong. Not that the Elvies are students of the blade, but she is unpredictable in all ways but one: she goes in too deep when she should be cautious and overextends when she should be pulling back. Limping halved scissor blades clatter all around her feet but there are countless more, all of them coming for that trusting, trusting back.

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Neptune [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

"I'll let you set the pace for the moment," says Neptune, seeing the man's swaying. Perhaps I have been a little callous, she thinks - but it's a brief reconsideration while they close the distance, Neptune letting the taller soldier take the lead, as foreshadowed. Sweeping a hand through her hair, she glances towards Sailor Pluto in passing, giving her a small nod.

'look out for the scissor monsters!'

Neptune finds herself diving in a twist through a pair of long blades which just barely close a quarter-inch from the sole of her shoe, landing in a momentary hand-plant and coming up neatly in a guarded position. She lingers, to let her eyes turn round the terrain and their foe.

It doesn't help much. A frown crosses her face.

"I wonder what the connection is," Neptune muses. "Between familiar, and Witch. But each of these is a nucleus of despair, is it not?" The thought is said aloud, but the question has a primary audience of one.

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

The sight of a fallen doll being kicked in the face by its counterpart--no, by her counterpart--is one that Yumi just happens to be watching long enough to see, and one that adds to the queasiness she feels about this place. It's wrong, awful in a way that prickles at her senses, sad in a way that would be dangerous to dwell on but is impossible to just forget.

Maybe it's because she knows that face; maybe it's because she's not sure whether Kozue would do something like that.

...And at the same time, what turns out to have been something of a dance changes, ruined by their passage. And abrubtly, they really are just... everywhere.

But the danger slips her mind watching until the moment that Utena calls out about the monsters. Yumi's eyes snap forward, and she blinks once--

Scissors snipping towards Utena's back abrubtly find themselves forced open, a circle of brilliant green runes erupting between the blades. Once, twice--a third barrier coalesces in an instant at Utena's side. For Yumi herself?

They're much faster than they should be, But Yumi is in continued motion; she rockets past a pair, and sails through another two that close in time to cut her arm and her leg instead of trapping or slicing through her--another she has to stop throwing barriers for in order to bat away with her priceless white staff. "Get--OFF!"

The questions ring in the air, and Yumi throws a beam at another scissor launching itself at Utena. ...On defense, she's largely counting on the pink-haired warrior ahead of her to handle the offense. But her answer? "I dunno!" she calls, "She cut things, these cut things--maybe--"

A thought occurs to her about what it could be, an image that kills her desire to shout possibilities. "Oop--" ...But losing her focus means she collides with the handle end of a pair of scissors, tumbling forward mid-air in a spin. "Whoa--"

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

Sailor Pluto runs, her sacred weapon lifted like a conquering blade ready to scythe downward. Power burns and smokes forth from the Garnet Orb overhead, tight-gripped and screaming for release on a sibilant frequency. She does not loose it at those blue-topped kidnappers, though, she holds her shot, she builds upon it...

Deep Submerge thunders through and past, and its waters pull a small sad piece of Pluto out to sea with their ineffable undertow. Her eyes stay forward in the same way that locked knees stay straight. But she knows when Neptune flows by nonetheless, and nods without looking, without needing to.

Pink and gold forge the path ahead, and in their wake more Familiars start coming out of the walls in a horrifyingly literal sense, because they were the walls. Scissory marching creepiness menaces their vanguard, and just like that, Sailor Pluto has her targets. She does her best not to dwell too much on their childish designs and the sort of children who might use them; if she makes it out of this, these thoughts can haunt her dreams later.

"I'll meet you on the other side of these terrible things!" she calls to her beloved duelist, and leaps high with one knee raised and the Garnet Rod whirling. Pluto's watchful eye is already tracking the flight of her lowercase-w witch friend, and when Yumi scrapes through that awful scissor gauntlet she's holding her breath. It expels as "Lost Ivy!" when the girl trips midair and spins, her flight path now erratic and vulnerable amid teeming sharp-mouthed enemies.

"Get AWAY from her!" the senshi roars, and so does all that burgeoning magic as she finally allows it release! Darkness tears a jagged streak through the intervening space, a hissing teardrop of power that splashes across the pack of Elvies before they can turn on the senshi's dear friend. Their differences amount to nothing in this place, against these foes. "Fly freely, Lost Ivy! You are not alone!"

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

Kasagami Araki, noted Sharp Bladed Object Enthusiast, has never once considered the menace that keen edged scissors could possibly give to a person! She's soon going to have to ponder that some time after this. She's getting a nice introduction to the dangers of them.

While the Duelist indulges in a self-satisfied smile as one of the Dolls is left with a cracked eye, their objective is hardly met nor is the chase over. She has to hand it to the Thing that Sayaka has become, her minions are as annoying as they are quick, sharp, and deadly.

Utena's warning is timely. Utena's charging into a hell of flying scissors waiting to snip her into a princely paper swan is completely unsurprising. As the minions fly at them all and Utena lays out her brilliant swordsmanship, full of flaws Kasagami jots down in her head and shining with that unpredictable slicing that she finds coming from places that mystify.

She has to shake her head in a motion to stop staring. The fire in her eye is deep, grinning with as much battle lust as pride in the power of this girl she wants to call friend, rival, enemy, and Prince all at once. The stare and just a little bit of greed in her eye might easily be caught by someone intimately familiar with Kassie's mannerisms.

That Kasagami swallows a lump in her throat and shakes for a second might be proof she knows such a someone is with her.

The Duelist ducks a barrage of snipping blades. Where she doesn't casually duck aside, her nodachi is a body-length piece of steel slicing through the vulnerable hinges upon which scissors snip. Her precious coat with it's volume takes a scratch and a cut, but the damage here only serves to make her seem that much more regal: a King striding through the battlefield, cutting down the blades before her with purpose and passionate enjoyment of carving through foes!

In the heat of the moment, surrounded by friends, a lover, and a common purpose, Kasagami feels alive and wonderful.

The pleasure running through arms and heart isn't enough to dull her sense of danger, and when it's striking to both the pink-haired Duelist's back and the brilliant Witch defending her, Kasagami's eye turns sharply to look to Pluto.

"Part the steel sea, my starlit Moses!" Comes Kasagami in response to Pluto's words. And then she's a ghost on the wind, twin pairs of scissors crashing down where she once was.

Kasagami Araki stands tall, back to Utena Tenjou's back with her sword raised high. "Attacking royalty from behind while she cuts through evil to rescue the innocent!? A King will not abide by this! Your dull blades will be torn apart!" In a perfect falling arc does Kassie's blade descend as she stares right at the offending Familiars set to pierce the One Engaged back where Yumi doesn't have them in check.

For a mere moment, mirrors of stained glass reflect, splitting images of long lines of metal are cast in a deadly kaleidoscope. Each stroke made with well-honed practice and enthusiasm of a born warrior. Each edge kissed with the terror and rage for a dear friend. They cut all the more for it as they fall in utter unison of purpose.

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Uranus [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

"Well, if there was ever a time to ASK!" Sailor Uranus's volume elevates as she gives a hard pull with her arms.

You see, she is taking a barbaric approach. She's a hand-to-hand fighter and she can't help but notice that every Elvie has two handles. She snatches them out of the air by a handle, grabs the other, then rips them in half with a very comely bulging of biceps and adductors. When she sees just how clogged the hall is getting, however, she grimaces and flexes her fingers. She can't fire World Shaking forward into a narrow hall filled with allies, but she can fire it back the way they came.

"WORLD..." Uranus lifts her hand to the orb of heavenly light she's summoned. "SHAKING!" The ground, rippling, parts before the churning energy drilling through it, kicking up bits of what is definitely not stone, from the unnatural ground.

<Pose Tracker> Oktavia von Seckendorff [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Bardiche's yellow light may not have the purifying power of holy magic, but it sure feels like it in here. It's a cleaner light than the Labyrinth has ever known, and it easily rips through a good four scissors even before Fate starts reaping her way around. Utena, with the trust-bought luxury of total aggression, makes an even better accounting--it helps that scissors are blades, too, even if these ones don't move like any Duellist she's ever met. The scissors only seem to die if the halves separate, so many still flop around when chopped, but it's hard for them to move if a blade is damaged, and the injured ones can be left behind safely.

Utena's wingwitch needs some backup of her own, however, and Pluto answers the call. Her withering darkness causes the Elvies to tremble and then snap apart into pieces, crumbling onto the ground in hard, gummy bits. They dissolve only slowly, here in a place suffused with grief.

But with Lost Ivy delayed, Utena is going to have to slow down too, to let Kasagami join up. If she does not, there is a gap before her new coverage arrives, and she'll quickly hear a chorus of snips as four Elvies leap up as one to fall on her back from behind.

Kasagami's nodachi is well-suited to this field of closely packed but fragile foes, and she's able to sweep up several with most of her swings. However, at the conclusion of one of her swings, an enterprising (or unusually stupid) Elvie leaps onto and bites the sword itself, the tips of the scissor blades chomping part of the tile as well. In an instant, the Elvies are all stacking up like that, like a bunch of staples pinning the nodachi against the ground.

Sailor Pluto, at least, remains to face the bladed horde. But others are able to exit the hallway at last.

The room past the hallway is more mundane than those previous, though its walls still have a hard time making right angles. It has a normal carpet in cyan, and mostly normal fixtures. The light is extremely strange still; at first it seems to be a simple blue tint like one would have at evening, but it's actually more like it's an altered hue entirely, pushing all colors blueward even if it has to make them a strange shade along the way. It seems like moonlight is the cause, but on close examination, the exterior panorama of white marble, turquoise grass, and black sky is just an extremely detailed drawing in crayon.

Near the window, at the far end of the room, there's an organ on the ceiling. Not a bare beating heart, though it seems to pulse like one, but a pipe organ, baroque and tall. It ripped its way out of a simple white baby grand, tumescent and invasive, and now wears the innocent white frame of the piano like a half-shed coccoon. Both instrument and husk are upside-down, feet on the ceiling, and the pipes reach toward the ground from an ornately carved hardwood cabinet atop the keyboard.

There is a piano bench up there as well, in white, and a doll in white, too. From behind she looks much like the Livianna, but her posture is more delicate, and she wears a white dress with tiny, butterfly-like ribbons festooning its puffy shoulders. The music book in front of her has numerous torn stubs of pages fanning out, and only a few blank sheets left to compose on. The rest of the pages have been balled up and now lie on the ground (the ceiling, if you are the upside-down doll), like a scattered field of snowballs.

The Livianna turns back to the door when the first intruders start to enter. She has left the construction worker on the ground at her feet, so she has a free hand to pick up one of the "snowballs" and throw it at the doll sitting on the ceiling. Hunching her shoulders, the pianist doll ignores it, but when a second balled-up composition hits her in the back of the head, she turns her hollow face to look.


Jealous Sea - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUZeJQj-Fpg

This doll is much paler, and lacks the ocean-like ripple of blue color. She has a chalky, smudged face, and dolorous blots for eyes, with a small mouth that is clearly fearful--it's just not clear which sense of that word is most apt. Resentfully, she lifts a slim hand and depresses a single key on the organ, to the sound of a haunting drone.

Out drops a Livianna, right out of the the pipe. She thumps into the ground in a nerveless clatter of limbs, like a discarded toy--or a corpse. Only belatedly does she seem aware of her own existence, and she starts to clamber to her feet.

Over and over, the upside-down doll hits that same key. Over and over, Liviannas drop and start to come to life. Once hopelessly outnumbered, the original Livianna turns back to face the group, her increasing forces lending her courage. Looking at Utena, she giggles musically, but it's forced to come out through the keyhole on her face, so it whistles oddly as well. Then her knees bend sharply, creating a perfect square between her legs, and she straightens them like a spring, launching into the air. Her arms and head don't seem involved in this feat of acrobatics, as she lets them mostly flop around, but as she comes down, they suddenly whip into action. She lands with both feet on Utena's shoulders and folds down to snatch her collar as well, as Utena's entire vision is suddenly filled with the ghastly glass-eyed visage of something that is only shaped like a person. The Livianna's nose would be touching Utena's if she had one.

But even as that Livianna was falling, others were already racing past Utena, to plunge into the ranks of Chevalier and Shepherd. They are lithe, quick to dodge, but also lightweight, and their blows do little damage (and their body is not heavily enough to tip over Utena very well, by the by). What they seem to want to do is pick people up and carry them off back down the hallway, and they are very good at that, dancing around and entangling the limbs of intruders, then piling on to grab wrists and ankles if they notice one of their own has gotten ahold of someone.

The music of their giggling almost sounds like it has a tune to it, when you put it all together, and just when it hits the melody:

Ping. "Thank you for terminal obeying."

The doll on the ceiling is still pressing that key every time the note on the organ starts to fade.

<Pose Tracker> Livianna [None] has posed.

Lost Ivy sees dolls flopping by her left and right. Like she were being ignored. Yet several which fly by her land behind her only to abruptly turn to ambush her by grasping her right bicep. Then another by her left forearm. Their movements hardly seem human, tugging her with jangling jerks which bring her over towards the wall, where she's slammed roughly.

Each of them raises a leg to try to curl it across their victim to maintain better control... then balancing on one leg apiece they pick her up off it by her shoulders and slam her against it again - and again.

Their perverse whistling giggles through the keyholes mark their twisted humor over this game.

A third Livianna veers off from the others towards them, unlike her sisters, she has less interest in their prize, than she does their prize's prize.

It places its palms on either side of her ancestral staff, fingers curling over it from both sides, and begins a tug of war with its mistress as it jankily starts to pull its spiral shaft away from her like something the familiar particularly covets.

<Pose Tracker> Oktavia von Seckendorff [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

One of the first Liviannas past Utena grabs onto the front of Bardiche and keeps running with it. This causes the back end to rotate, only to come to an abrupt stop when he runs into a second Livianna, who holds him from that end. The third Livianna simply straightarms the small girl with both hands, driving her back over her own Device. With Fate teetering almost all the way over, Livianna grabs both of her wrists and pulls them under Bardiche.

This arrests Fate's fall, but now Bardiche is hooked through her elbows and against her back. Livianna yanks Fate's wrists hard, forcing them to cross in front of her stomach so that Bardiche's haft is binding her arms, and her joints are strained in the unnatural position.

The one in front of Fate is just staring at her. But the ones behind her, holding Bardiche, both clap hands on Fate's shoulders to hold her onto the ground. As they start to rotate Bardiche like a steering wheel, Fate can feel the problem right away; her elbows can't follow that motion.

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

Yumi is pretty sure that if she weren't so busy dealing with the Familiars, she'd look at these walls long enough to get a headache. ...At least, that thought vaguely spins through her mind as, with Sailor Pluto's magic covering her descent, she directs herself down, down, to hit the ground and stumble for a few steps, her broom floating obligingly nearby as she gets her balance. "Whew," she says, looking around. "Hey--"

Looking around the hallway, Yumi is grateful for an instant; her wallflower nature seems to extend to the Familiars, which would bother her a whole lot more if she had time to stop with it. ...However, just as she gets used to the strange blueness of the place--

She feels a grip on her arm. Her head turns; her gray braid bounces as suddenly she has to turn the other way shen she's grabbed. Maybe, in an objective sense, these Familiars' arms aren't terribly strong... But Yumi is very light. In an instant she finds herself jerked backwards. "H-Hey--"

She lets out a breath harder than she'd like when she hits the wall, dazed for an instant and unable to bring her staff to bear as a result. "Let--"

She hits the wall again, and then again, hard, her too-thin shoulders easy to grab. "L-let go--!"

The whistling is really very ugly, a part of her reflects, as another part tries to panic, this stutter-stop motion making it hard for her to breathe, a feeling she knows entirely too well already. But--

She feels pressure on the Staff, and instinctively she tightens her grip. It's only thanks to the traction her leather gloves get against the grain of the wood that the Staff isn't pulled from her immediately. But it's an easy thing to want; suffused with power, exuding an aura of peace even in this awful place, tinged with sadness that almost suggests awareness.

The tug of war starts, and Yumi can't reach the staff with her other hand as she keeps being thrown back against the wall; who knows what magic even keeps her hat attached? But she has the end with the crystal, and her hand slips a little further, has a little less of the staff. "That's--leave her alone!" the green Witch says, voice distorted with motion. The Livianna does not; there's just that awful whistling again. So Yumi, as she feels her hand slipping, has to act.

"Mirror--" Thump, "Fogging, dimming, dark--" The broken chant starts to go louder as she loses hold of her implement, "Descend here now, where greed calls!"

The air about Yumi blackens for an instant, and this time when the Familiars throw her against the wall the impact booms outward, knocking both away--just in time for the third to start fleeing with Yumi's staff. Scowling she wobbles forward, "Oh, no you don't!"

With her hands briefly free again, Yumi traces a set of glowing runes into the air and abrubtly the Livianna with her staff finds spectral vines growing from the ground to entangle her limbs. ...Vines that don't impede the staff at all as Yumi grabs back at it.

"Broom!" Yumi calls, throwing out her hand as her mount obeys her, practically jumping towards it as it starts to take off with Livianna already gripping at her heels. ...the familiarity of the figures remains disconcerting to Yumi as they approach.

She turns partway as she's caught, just enough to point the head of her staff down and fire out a brilliant ray of white-tinged green that won't set a Familiar on green flames, but at least serves to let Yumi get off the ground, its holy power a purer light than is likely to be seen in this Labyrinth much.

For her part, the young Witch looks more than a little nauseous, trying to get her breathing back down and a better grip on her broom as she moves away from the growing crowd of Liviannas. ...Her eyes, and her trajectory, point her towards the seat of that piano.

The drone echoes in her ear, but she is a contrast, really; to Odeta's white dress with puffy shoulders is Yumi's black with smooth lines and draping fabric.

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Pluto [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> The Glitch Mob - Between Two Points https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbbLiEgud5A

Pluto has shared a great many battlefields with her beloved duelist now, and has long since developed a practice of following Kasagami's movements as best she can. Sometimes it's not possible -- like when she flashes across distances, motion nearly beyond blurring. Usually, though, Pluto can scry the tilt of that fine chin and see which terrifying target Kassie intends to scale next, or read the flex of familiar musculature to more perfectly synchronize her Garnet Blasts with the fall of a refracting blade.

Here among swarming Familiars and surroundings that drip wrongness and allies who were enemies just a week ago, she follows the hungry tenor of a bared-steel gaze to its intended in all her princeliness, then back to Kasagami. This is how their eyes meet across the battlefield, when the other girl looks back her way. Untouched yet by snipping blades, Pluto still seems wounded somehow.

Then the senshi is descending from her Lost Ivy-defending leap, looking away and down -- there are Elvie stragglers beneath her, and she lets the titanium-strong haft of the Garnet Rod lead the way. Two pairs of orange handles smash in twain with awful snapping sounds, roughing her landing, and she rolls forward only to unfurl and launch into running once more. The dark senshi is fresh-bruised and racing rearguard for their invading band, and what Elvies remain snap at her heels.

The elder senshi emerges last into the grand cavern and its deceptive pall of relative normalcy. The stars above, though -- the stars are not in their places, they are just a confused child's distribution of bright points against dark-scribbled background. Her eyes fall from a false Moon, infinitesimally sadder somehow.

They fall upon a hoard of onrushing Liviannas spouted from a half-hatched organ's inverted pipes, unleashed by a fearful fey pianist, and sorrow subsumes beneath horror. All these too-familiar Familiars with feathered blue hair and sorrow-holes for eyes, and even though it doesn't seem possible -- they're attacking the magical girls in front, Utena and Fate and Kasagami, Kasagami! -- Sailor Pluto feels like each pitted gaze bores right into the guiltiest parts of her soul.

The metallic shearing of bloody-minded children's scissors shrieks behind her, a hissing chorus of what sounds like a hundred blades or more. Snicker-snack they come, and she turns to face their vorpal hunger instead of an army of dolls bearing the smudged countenance of the girl she failed to drown.

"I have our backs!" she cries to all of the mahou fighting behind her, and to two of them in particular, warriors of elegance and mystery who know her battle ways well. Then, to her orange-handled foes whether they can hear and heed or no, a challenge: "Come, then! Try the Guardian who defends Time itself and see how well she guards those she loves!" She will be the peerless sentinel the other Outer Senshi know so well. This is a thing she can do for her sisters, whatever the distance between them.

The Elvies slash toward her, and Sailor Pluto meets them! She draws one leg high and diagonal before her, crane kick style, and lashes out with the graceful appendage -- two scissor-blades snap and fly wild to embed in the strange curvature of a nearby wall. Five more Elvies rush in to take their place and then the Familiars are upon her, biting at bare arms and legs.

Pluto cries out and lashes in all directions with the shining silvery Rod, smashing plastic and snapping metal in a fury. The senshi imposes herself, sacred staff and battered body, between the scissorstorm boiling out of the hallway and the fighting girls behind her.

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

Amidst the din of battle, gazes meet. The wound in Pluto's eyes is heavier than any descending youma. The fact that she knows, right now, that she's slicing into her beloved with her own actions and desires?

One could shove an Elvie through the guilty wound it opens up straight in the Duelist's chest. It simmers inside.

Kasagami finds herself underestimating the pure stubborn drive of these safety-scissor minions! With the tricky things coming down like the staples driven in by the hand of God, the Duelist has a rather annoying problem. That sword is a priceless treasure to her. It's her family name, a direct connection to her past and to her parents.

And now these devouring fiends make to threaten it. The thought of it being taken, being snipped up is more painful than it would be to lose an arm or a leg.

Thus does the Duelist react with the kind of hatred and contempt that a disrespectful action would incite. Her free hand goes to her belt. Yoink. Thrust! Two bokken are roughly shoved with one thrust each between where blade is threatening her family sword, trying to widen the space between Elvies and steel.

The bokkens are soon consumed, but she yanks out her sword in time. A quick roundhouse kick to ward the rest of them off, and her attention turns to the next room.

Within it, yet more horror to later try (and probably fail) to scrub from the mind. Odeta may be a terrible player, but the army of gathering Liviannas that her playing produces is a performance beyond reproach!

Worse still is the fact that the original doll goes leaping into the air with unnatural acrobatics that defy all reason only to end up atop Utena! And oddly folding in half as if she were going for some odd rendition of a too-close greeting!

Kasagami Araki's mind dares not ponder what horrible things the whip-like limbed doll could do to her friend. Already violating personal safety and personal space all at once, whispering those musical giggles.

She doesn't need to glance back to know Pluto is putting up a valiant defence. Her shout fills Kasagami with determination to do what she has to. Even if the little insidious fear that even this act might her the senshi. A little creep of doubt, even if she physically feels like she's clad in gravitic armor with every lashing kick and crashing strike of the Garnet Rod!

Never one to be outdone by a youma of all things, Kasagami bends down with both knees. Reclaimed blade over her shoulders, leg muscles coiled, she tips forward to balance for a small pause on balls of her feet within her boots. A sucked in breath.

The leap she makes leaves a minor shockwave in her wake, sending light lashes of roses in her dark crimson to scatter about with their sweet and spicey scents. Vaulting high into the sky, she immediately begins to turn to the side. Spinning end over end in a blurr of long red-and-black locks, darkened leather coat, and flesh both light and scarred, her descent is marked by the showy arc becoming tighter as her legs pull back close to her chest mid-fall.

Meteors have had less of a falling impact as the Duelist unleashes a stomping-dropkick towards the bent spine and chest of the Livianna perching atop Utena.

"GET OFF OF HER!" Something about this doll being the one to do it steals Kasagami's usual royal indignation in favor of a friend senpai preparing a horrible beatdown.

Should it connect, the stomps get worse. She wants to use her muscle mass, body weight, and hard boots to crush the offender into oblivion for insults real and imagined.

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

Snip. Snip.

The rustling cape has little gaps carved into it where the movement tracking Elvies have gone wild. The child is assaulted by scissors. "Nngh." Stamping her boot down, she grinds one that got through her rippling barrier fields, then slides forward in her advance. Bardiche is at a disadvantage in this corridor.

He's so long and wide that she cannot move him the way she wants. Instead being forced to flail him up and down and side to side like he were a spear rather than a polearm.

Neptune asks what the connection is - and it feels like an answer that just offers more questions. How were motion tracking scissors a source of despair for Sayaka? Caught up in a battle frenzy, she doesn't answer.

When she finally gets an opening, she tries to break through. Into the next room - warily stopping short. Even as she sees the construction worker on the ground - and a ball of paper sailing through the air.

The white organist plays. One note - over - and over - and over.

Fate gets thinks she's ready for the rush. Their unpredictable movements grant them an edge though. Bardiche bisects one with a crackle of thunder while Fate is in mid-air - even as she watches Utena get overwhelmed- "Utena I'm com-" however in the backswing he's caught by one of the Livianna's. "-ing!"

<Warning. Unauthorized.>

BGM Change: Angel's Scream - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzQkaeKpmpA

She's tugged backwards in an arc - and then there's another Livianna grabbing onto the other end. Arresting the sudden motion too suddenly. "Let go!"


Focused on tugging him away - a spell enters into her mind, as Fate is suddenly cold cocked by an arm which knocks her to the other side, losing her grip - she doesn't fall far before hitting the ground. Stunned in that moment she's grasped by her wrists and held out at the side beyond Bardiche. And that's when she feels Bardiche's metal turning, up into her elbow joints. "Nnn-agh!"

The small girl finds the haft rotating one way, as she feels one joint buckle one direction, and the other in the opposite. Face spasming in pain, she hears the giggling, tormented like she's on some makeshift rack.

Thank you for terminal obeying.

It's nonsense. Yet it feels mocking. Mocking her for being obedient. Where her obedience led her. This treatment already evokes so many memories horrible memories.


"Let..." The girl's feet flail, before she manages to get one down from under her. Using that to get her bearings, her whole form begins to fly backwards, "...GO OF US!"

It's a lot of weight for a flier to carry, yet she allows her initial adrenaline fueled momentum to do the work for her. Two Liviannas dangle off either end of Bardiche, while the other keeps a death grip on her wrists. And then suddenly she loses her grip as the ceiling of the labyrinth cracks into her brutally. Fate doesn't let the sudden laxness of grip stop her, gritting her teeth, she backwards headbutts the Livianna, and grinds her back into her sandwiching her between girl and ceiling.

The weight against her back now becomes dead weight, and as she drops from the ceiling, the Livianna behind her starts to slide off. The other two start to try and kick her - as they hold on like children playing a game on monkey bars. Fate allows gravity to take her so far down, then does an abrupt barrel roll but doesn't just immediately stop after one rotation, but keeps it up.

One Livianna is flung off before the other, and Fate uses the sudden shift in weight to catch Bardiche as he starts to list sideways from the unbalance of the other. Aching joints finally get a grip on Bardiche's haft as the remaining Livianna's weight reaches bears Bardiche towards the floor. This Livianna has maintained its tenuous hold on its axe head, and is still tugging it away from below Fate.

Fate who is now above it, tries to simply tug Bardiche away for a moment before she decides to give in...

... by releasing her flight spell.

Gravity does the rest. The three fall. Livianna hits first. And as Fate hits the ground the girl's weight drives the axehead down into the familiar. More - and more - and more.

Soon there's nothing left of it. The girl pants from her sprawled position, then slowly gets up.

<... Get Set.>

Panting as she holds onto Bardiche, the girl simply draws herself up into a kneeling position. Then forces herself to get back up to her feet, glaring death at the oncoming Livianna and the Odeta creating them. "Fate Testarossa and Bardiche... ready for action." She may be saying it to herself, more than anyone else.

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

Intellectually Utena understood -- more than most, almost more than anyone, thanks to some severely extenuating circumstances -- how important Kozue Kaoru was to Sayaka Miki, but no part of her heart was prepared for this.

She freezes at the sight of the Odeta, and then all she can see is Livianna.

Utena's eyes are a vast, empyrean blue, and every window needs a sky on the other side.

Through the window, Utena sees --

-- shadows and shards of brilliant light, cast through stained, broken glass --

-- a white cloak swirling --

-- she's holding her, they're dancing --

-- and then, they're --

Utena blinks as the Livianna is torn off of her, and in the last moment as her eyelids raise, while they're still nose-to-noseless, she realizes that all she really saw in the window was her own reflection, and the ones who live not inside the familiar, but inside of her own heart.

And they never giggled like that...

...and then Kasagami is brutalizing a familiar on the floor. Utena looks over at her, startled. She hadn't even noticed the stares in the heat of battle, much less their consequences, but this enraged but very off-her-pedastal version of her friend is, in some ways, a welcome sight.

She smiles, grateful and honest and a little bit worried, and that, too, is a light source rarely seen in a place such as this.

"I'm okay," she says, resting a hand on the other Duelist's shoulder, for a brief moment of quiet amid the chaos -- or at least it would be quiet if Kasagami's boots weren't so loud. "Thanks, Kasagami."

Another note of the organ, another familiar hitting the floor. That poor construction worker is vulnerable -- "Please keep him safe!" she calls over her shoulder as she makes a dash for the upside-down pipes.

"Someone's gotta even these odds," she grunts as she starts fighting her way up the largest of them. Utena Tenjou does not watch very much television at all but EVEN HER GRUMPINESS about the brain-rotting tube is stilled, or at least partially neutralized, by the greatest show ever to air, 'Sasuke.'

Huge pipe -- slender girl.

Utena tosses her head. She knows what to do.

...sorry, Kozue.

Leaping up as high as she can get, she carves a hole in its side -- just in time to see the next Livianna going by. She neatly bisects it by putting the sharp edge of her meterstick in the way, then keeps climbing, making occasional handholds and footholds with VIOLENCE.

Once she's almost there, she dares to sneak a peek down at the chaos and finds someone relatively unencumbered.

"Yo, Neptune! You know that crazy big ball you like to throw?"

She gestures up at the Odeta with one arm, which means she's hanging off the organ with one set of fingertips.

That arm's muscules are bunching agreeably for a drastic fling upwards, though, in the hopes of gaining the Odeta's undivided attention -- so that someone else can Act With Elegance.

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Neptune [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

The world shakes and the scissors are rent asunder. Is there anything sadder, ultimately, than a single half of a pair of scissors? A broken shear, useless save as an awkward knife...

The music, such as it is.

Sailor Neptune is, on a level beneath that placid exterior of gently determined beauty, bothered by the music. She can see torn-up, crumped-up staffs and scores thrown aside and being raised up to get used for throwing. Past that, the Liviannas are increasing in number. Ever were it thus: You can get fans for anything.

'Thank You For Terminal Obeying.'

Fate struggles - Kasagami rushes back - why is this so intent, Sailor Neptune thinks. Did Shimanouchi have to deal with this intensity every time? Behind them Pluto declares that she is guarding the flank - well and good, Neptune thinks, but that will only go so far...

Her attention turns towards the organ -- and where the seas have turned their implacable gaze, a swift streak of strawberry is already moving. Utena vaults her way upwards, a parkour-like efficiency up the organ.

'Yo, Neptune! You know that crazy big ball you like to throw?'

Neptune clicks her tongue once. As she raises her hand up, fingers splayed and wrist flexed, she asks - remarks really - "Is it big?" This is towards Sailor Uranus - for even in the depths of madness such things must be asked, if only to keep her on her toes.

And speaking of toes. Sailor Neptune rises to her own as her arm lifts, turning round and drawing in breath as if about to call upon that magic once more. A canny Livianna, seeing (?) her (its?) opportunity, hurls up a disjointed memento of music left unborn, aimed directly towards Neptune. It will surely strike Neptune somewhere around the second phoneme of her spell --

Except that Neptune isn't there.

It was a lie! However, the rising crest of magic beneath her does draw her into performing a sudden elegant leap, one that rises up impossibly - perhaps it is literally impossible even for a sailor soldier, but this is not a place where the rules are quite the same. Sailor Neptune, even so, must briefly draw up - several yards beneath where Utena has landed, glancing up at her with a brief and spiritual intensity, before digging gloved fingers into one of the toe-holds Utena had abandoned.

Whereupon she hurls herself up to land behind Odeta. From here Neptune's goal is simple and straightforwards: put a hand on either side of Odeta's head and twist it clean off.

Stuck on the same note, she thinks.

<Pose Tracker> Oktavia von Seckendorff [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

The Liviannas are losing the battle. No. These Liviannas are losing the battle.

But they are not losing fast enough. They are costing too much to put down. Odeta puts out two for every one that drops, and even if they killed twice as fast, there is a second hourglass slipping away. A Garnet Fortress stands at the back of the invaders, defending them from a constantly onrushing legion of Elvies. Alone, even Sailor Pluto will not last for much longer. The group has overcommitted to the front, and if it does not pay off, they will soon be attacked from both sides.

And Utena, who had led them in here, stands frozen.

The Livianna crounched on top of her jukes backwards, in a move that will end with Utena doing a bad frontroll landing hard on her shoulders, and then rolling out of it with Livianna straddling her chest. But it doesn't get to end, as the doll is kicked off sharply by Kasagami, then stomped to a death that would be grisly for a human. It remains a bit disturbing for a doll.

Odeta looks "up" (from her perspective) at Utena climbing "down" and seems alarmed, though in truth she always looks like that. She starts hitting the key more often, working the pedal. It does not seem to work if she hits it too fast, but she had room to speed up a bit, and the Liviannas start dumping out faster--and now Utena's not there to help. This really better work.

Utena may not have prepared for how powerfully the organ blasts air out of the hole, however. It drives her makeshift sword out almost as fast as she shoved it in, and she has to wait for the note to lose strength before she can get her meter stick in there, due to how the wind makes the stick wobble around and miss the hole. Once in, however, it's quickly met by the thump of a body. A second follows soon. But something has happened on the ground.

The Liviannas all paused at the same time when the organ blasted some of its air through a puncture. Their glass eyes were fixed as one on Utena the moment she trifled with the music. Many return to what they were doing, but those which were recently dumped onto the ground are gathering, their glittering round eyes upturned in the darkness below. One hops up, grabbing the rim of the pipe and starting to scootch her way up on thighs and elbows. Her glass eyes are fixed on the stick plugging up the organ, and another is already hopping, trying to make the difficult jump as well.

Sailor Uranus is a grappler herself, and as one of the Liviannas engages her, they engage in a rapid, complicated exchange of footwork and momentum, gaining and losing advantage repeatedly, until Uranus wraps through her armpit and hip-throws her onto the ground, jabbing a single crushing heel into her head. She's panting, even her endurance running low. There are scratches all over her arms, which are ruddy from being grabbed repeatedly. She even has to crouch down in readiness for the next oncoming Livianna when Neptune asks her question, but she answers with the grim humor of a soldier and the sincerity of a very old relationship.

"Yours are huge," she assures Neptune. "Hup." She's already catching the wrist and elbow of the next Livianna.

Odeta gives up jamming on her one key as Neptune climbs up, and hastily picks up a pencil from the music stand, starting to scrawl some notes down. Liviannas are grabbing at Utena's ankles by this point. Odeta's hand moves rapidly, scrawling messy notes, filling a line in just seconds, then two. As Neptune is leaping towards her, she slaps the pencil down and lifts her hands, fingers splayed, to jam them down into the keys and begin the first performance of her composition.

But Neptune snags her pale head.

Delicately, as if standing up at last, Odeta lifts from her seat. She falls upside down, Neptune, right side up. Her white skirt flutters. Her slim fingers reach for a faraway keyboard.

And Neptune hits the ground and breaks her neck at the same time.

The Liviannas all stop where they are again, and turn to look, their heads twisting more easily on their necks than they ought. One of the feet of the piano that wraps about the organ lurches, and they all seem to crouch. But they are unable to close their eyes.

Then, with a groan, the organ simply drops, taking the shall of the piano with it. Utena and the Liviannas are going to need to jump off. Neptune is going to need to move. The crash is thunderous, blasting music from every pipe, but the cabinet and pipes both crumple, going dissonant before flopping onto their "back," keyboard up, pedals flopping like the feet of a corpse.

There's a moment of silence. Sailor Uranus, on the opposite side of the room from where she was before, pants with her back against the crayon "window," cradling Neptune in her arms. Two of the Liviannas that had gotten off in time are crouched near the organ; another is crushed beneath it. Odeta lies crumpled before it.

Perhaps this is victory.

Ping. "Please stand in patience."

There's a gap this time, before she concludes, "Signs all obey you."


The sound of this many Liviannas scurrying close up is like hearing dozens of disembodied hands suddenly scuttle noisily up your blinds. There is something filthy in the way they move right now, worse than before, repugnant like insects. They hurl themselves feverishly on the broken organ, ripping open panels and tossing them away, digging with their hands, breaking apart the keyboard. They yank at the keys with a bonelike clatter, until one finally tears free, into the hands of the Livianna who had first pursued Utena up. Greedily, with a motion reminiscent of a samurai's suicide, she drives the key into the keyhole on her mouth.

In a Labyrinth it would be unnatural if that did not work.

Twisting the piano key with her hand, the Livianna digs her fingertips into the corner of the plate on her mouth and, with a soft but awful screech, tries to rip it from her face. She trembles as she pulls. Her eyes darken. The air seems to distort around her. With a wrench of her arm the brass plate clatters to the ground.

Turning her owlish glass eyes to the intruders again, the Livianna's posture rises and rises, as though she is getting thinner. The windows on her eyes seem shadowy now. On the place where the plate was, there is a tight spiral of red-hot wire, like a car's cigarette lighter, extending just slightly from her face. Her shoulders shove downwards as she pants out a few grains of black ash from it, and a few orange sparks hiss out as well.


As the Livianna rises to her feet, the others join her rapidly. They stand tightly together, their identical faces each burning with a single red circle, which pulses gently in the dark, the natural flickering of heat. Others are still ripping up the corpse of the organ behind them, finding their own keys and stabbing themselves in the face violently.

Snip-sliding away, the Elvies skitter back into the hallway, spread out as if watching. But they have all shrunken away from the door.

The Livianna in front lifts two fingers, delicately pressing them to the brand on her face. Her doll body makes a soft crinkling noise from the heat, but she evinces no sign of pain. She slowly unfurls those two fingers towards the group, and blows across them, the burnt spot on her fingers marking the thrown kiss in a small tendril of smoke.

The light in the room drops off almost entirely, as if blown out. Unadjusted eyes can see nothing but glowing red spirals.

Then, with a rising sursurrus of giggling, those red spirals are scuttling through the dark towards you.