2018-12-07 - TIMELINE 1: The Star That Stole Christmas! Nagi's Wish And Steven's Spirit!

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The Star That Stole Christmas! Nagi's Wish And Steven's Spirit!

The seven Star Shards are reunited, but Nagi makes a somewhat cynical wish on them before Father Greer has a chance to make himself a god. The magical girls are thrust into an enchanted dream where Christmas never was, and have to remind their friends of its spirit. Steven is so moved that he manifests his Rose Shield for the very first time.


Mami Tomoe, Takeo Akamizu, Usagi Tsukino, Fuu Hououji, Mikoto Minagi, Niramo Umokeshi, Nori Ankou, Endo Naoki, Madoka Kaname, Nagisa Misumi, Steven Universe, Homura Akemi, Honoka Yukishiro, Nagi, Joseph Greer

GM: Hotaru Tomoe


Hokkaido Snowy Island

OOC - IC Date:

12/7/2018 - 12-24-2013

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.


Beautiful golden star shards have nestled in the hearts of boys and girls throughout Tokyo -- seven of them in all -- and, when they emerged, fights broke out (mostly between magical girls, men in black, and more demonic-style monsters, though some relatively friendly contests between magical girls as well)! That's because rumor has it that whoever first touches the united star shards can have any single wish granted by its power.

In the last week or two it's been hard to pin down who exactly has one or more shards; their location has gotten ominously quiet. There are rumors that some shard-holders were ambushed, and lost theirs to mysterious forces.


The seventh and final star shard emerged from a Sister Schools student on the morning of Christmas Eve, and ultimately wound up in the hands of the occupant of a chrome helicopter which appeared out of nowhere.


It's leaving! It's even vanishing, shimmering out of sight with some kind of high-tech active camoflauge, just as it's shaking from the shockwave of a near miss by a parting Tiro Finale...

...someone's losing their balance, and falling.

The helicopter departs without the man who was holding the case with the seven shards, a case which, even now, glows with telltale golden light. He lands semi-safely in a thick snowbank, creating a miniature mushroom cloud of white.

The case lands a few feet away.

The man -- too far away to be identified by the magical girls, but we'll call him, for the audience's sake, Father Greer, the priest of Ohtori's chapel -- is all lean gaunt old-man frame. Extra jowls. Desperation fills his eyes and his voice, and he bellows, rushed:


...nothing happens. He continues to lie in his self-driven ditch. The case continues to glow.

Someone else clears his throat. This individual is recognizable from a distance, if only because his appearance is so distinct. The undershirt and slacks of an Ohtori high school student. Fluffy white hair.

A certain nasal whine in his voice, even when he chuckles.


He's crouched down, almost catlike, next to the glow...

...his hand resting upon it.

His voice carries across the snow, towards everyone, forlornly.

"You know, the rumor said it was the first one who touched the star," he points out, as lightly as his fingernails trail across the contents of the open case. "But ah, whatever shall I do? I, a humble servant, have no wishes for my own."

His other hand, two fingers' worth, taps his cheek. Father Greer swallows, then swallows again, then -- wisely -- starts hastily beating a retreat.

"I guess there is one thing... this is the worst time of year for me, you know?"

His eyes roll... over towards the magical girls.

"Always Christmas and never any presents for Nagi, not a single one from my precious HiME... tsk."

The glow intensifies.

"So, I guess I wish for no more presents on Christmas for anyone BUT me! I'll get 'em all! I guess that makes me Santa now... hahahahaha!!"

The glow explodes.

Amid the eye-searing brightness that spreads all around, the most brilliant light of all, which lingers afterwards in dancing spots, has the faint form of a girl, congealing from the energy and bursting into the sky.

When it fades, both the old man in the trench coat -- and the notorious trickster of Ohtori's campus -- are gone.

And snow is falling.


Onto the snowfield filled with magical girls.

OOC: If you're still a civilian, you aren't here! We'll catch up with you next round!

COMBAT: Usagi Tsukino transforms into Sailor Moon!
COMBAT: Nori Ankou transforms into La Sirene du Nord!
COMBAT: Takeo Akamizu transforms into Chevalier Knight Lancelot!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi transforms into HiME Mikoto!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji transforms into Wind Knight!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki transforms into Barrier Jacket Aufprall!
COMBAT: Niramo Umokeshi transforms into Sourisi!
<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Would Mami Tomoe prefer to be fighting a battle for wishes? No, not really. She is not particularly inclined to hunt for such a thing herself; she's already had a wish, had her own miracle, and has gained much, much more besides. But they can't allow the forces of darkness to make their wish, and so...

Mami Tomoe sails lazily down as Tiro Finale is completed, landing gently on both feet, frowning as she looks to the helicopter as it moves away--but notices the man is not there. She can't see him, though.

"This isn't--"

A wish is made. And things move terribly quickly. Mami is not about to shoot an unarmed man without defenses, obviously, but nevertheless she starts to try to move forward. The boy in the uniform... is not someone she recognizes in time, so far away as he is.


Eye-searing brightness forces Mami to stop, throw an arm in front of her eyes, but before she does she can see the faint form first. ...And then, the snow...

Mami lowers her arm, looks for any sign of the ones they were hunting. "We..." For a long moment, even the veteran isn't sure what to do. How do they simply undo a wish? ...How could someone wish for--

"Madoka," Mami murmurs, and thinks of a present too. She frowns then, looking to the others.

"Does anyone see them? ...Any of them?"

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

"All I see is snow and Magical Girls."Lancelot states as he looks out over the snowy field and then to Mami. "I feel like there's a comic book in that sentence somewhere." He mvoes forward, his armored boots crunching in the snow as he takes takes. In his right hand he holds Arondight, the blade almost invisible in the white background except for the bluish hints of lightning arcing along Demon Bane's edges.

He too thinks of a present. A simple silk ribbon tied around a scarf. He doesn't think about WHO that is going to, but simply wonders if it's still in his room. After what he and Sparkles went through to get the thing, he really hopes so.

Finally, Lancelot stops and lifts his left hand to shield his eyes from the glaring whiteness of the snowfield and scans his surroundings looking for anything, anything at all, that might be out of ordinary or useful.

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Moon [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

"Mami-senpai! They're getting a-"


That might as well amount to a 'nevermind' that never leaves Sailor Moon's lips.


It's not a direct hit. There's no helicopter exploding in the night, simply the thief with the case falling. "You got him!" She says in delight, though the mood changes the next as she realizes that it could seriously hurt him. Sailor Moon finds herself holding her breath as he lands in the snow...

And is still moving...

She's still jogging, huffing and puffing when the first wish is made. "HOLD IT RIGHT THERE! Cheat codes to success are only acceptable in the privacy of your own home when you're not hurting anyone! You're not allowed to use them to rule the whole-"

Nothing happens, yet there's a second dark shape, and Sailor Moon stops in her tracks. So quickly that she skids upon snow, not truly understanding the shape of this coup. Yet she tries to pelad anyhow.

"-wait don't!" She clasps her hands together, pleading, as the selfish shape of the wish takes form, "Whoever you are I'll buy you a souvenir with the allowance I have left! Just don't do-"

The radiance causes Sailor Moon to squeal, as she shields her eyes with her arm, and she rubs her eyes frantically. Her last word sounds almost pathetic.


There's only the whistle of wind across a snowswept field. The snow is falling heavily. The sense of dread feels thick even to Sailor Moon as she rubs both arms to ward off the chill, flakes drifting off each twintail. Mami asks a question of Madoka.

Sailor Moon turns to Mami and Madoka and says plaintively, "...I don't know what just happened." Then adds, softer, "I'm scared to find out."

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

"They had a little too much of a head start," the Magic Knight of Wind admits with a sigh, catching up with Mami and the others. Lancelot's comment about a comic book does draw a wry little laugh out of her, though, and she nods to the knight, "Possibly quite a few, I think."

That flicker of mirth is badly needed at this point. She had been trying - with some misgivings - to use her wind magic to mess with the helicopter's flight, but to little effective result. And now, the chopper is gone, its rider is gone, and the white-haired mischief-maker who actually touched the completed 'star' is gone as well. In the wind, so to speak. Much like the snowflakes.

The Wind Knight stands silently for a moment, her bow and quiver finally vanishing back into her glove-jewel, and she wipes some snow off her glasses, for what good it'll do. "This snow will bury any tracks they might have left, and even transformed, I doubt we can stay out here indefinitely," she observes. "We would need scrying magic of some kind ... although I doubt it'd take much sensitivity to follow a magical power *that* strong." She looks around, "I don't suppose anyone else here can follow magical energy that way?"

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Yes, once again, we come to the terrible truth: for all her acrobatics, Mikoto Minagi cannot fly. The helicopter rises up, out of reach and increasingly out of sight, and for a moment it seems all hope is lost...

... until a figure falls down, down, down.

Snow is a bright thing, especially in the light of the morning. Even Mikoto's sharp eyes cannot catch more than the shape of him, blinded by too much white over too long a distance. But he is on the ground, now, as bound to gravity as she is, and so she charges forward --

-- only to pause when there's a new voice cutting through the air. White cat to black, he bemoans his neglect, and she snarls in return. "Nagi!" Snaps one of those 'precious HiME' - the secret's out for most of the magical girls, by this point, that Mikoto is one of them, because she is terrible at the masquerade - with clear animosity. She's never gotten along with her mysterious guide, for some reason.

It might be a pretty obvious reason, given the way he's talking. He has what they would call in Germany 'a face in need of a punch'.

"NAGI!" Mikoto yells, again, as he laughs, and suddenly the snow is only the second-brightest thing in the distance. There is a sense to the light, a shape which is difficult to pin down, and Mikoto shakes her head rapidly from side to side to dismiss the lingering blindness. Thin black braids whip at her face.

And by the time she can stand to blink her poor beleagured eyes open again, they're gone, replaced by falling snow. Mikoto takes a step forward, gaze casting about, and finds nothing but snowflakes. One lands, delicately, on her nose, blown onto her face despite the defences afforded to her by a yellow cat-eared thermal hat.

"Gone..." She answers Mami, plaintive, as her blade sags in her grip. "... no use catching Nagi. Too fast." There have been so many attempts to grab him and shake some answers out of him, and not one has succeeded.

<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (7)] has posed.

Desperate eyes search the skies for the helicopter, hot breath coming out in steamy puffs in the cold night air. A frantic battle has taken a startling turn with the final star shard revealing itself in Hokkaido of all places, but it was stolen under everyone's noses by a newcomer. Armed with technology designed to hide them in plain sight, the shards were being taken away! Even if she could spot the helicopter and her tonfa could be thrown that far, could Sourisi be willing to hurt enemies without the means to defend themselves?

No way. Maybe if she can somehow focus on the case--

Thankfully, Mami's cannon of light that is Trio Finale, while missing the vessal, is strong enough to dislodge the man carrying the case! Falling from that height has to be painful no matter how deep the snow, but the star shards were in reach again. Not even the snow could block the light coming from the fragments of a wish. "Whew, time to retreive those-...eh?"

But there's yet another newcomer on the scene, already upon the shards. Had he been hiding away, hoping for such a chance? But he doesn't seem to be an ally...perhaps a third party? "Wait, get away from-!" Booted feet start pounding forward into the snow, Sourisi desperately trying to close the distance.

And then the glow from those shards reach a crescendo, washing over the snow-covered landscape.

Rubbing at her eyes with a free hand, the Miraculous user tries despearately to regain her eyesight, all the while trying to make sense of the wish. "Aah...Christmas for one person? But...it's better when others are involved. That's what makes it a holiday." Finally getting her eyesight back in full force, the mouse ninja looks around her, trying to see any sign of either of those men, or even a sparkle of light from the shards. But...nothing.

Even the weather itself seems to be taking a turn for the worse, the clouds loosening snow that would make it hard to see through at this rate. "I...no, doesn't look like it. Whatever just happened...I don't think it was a good thing, Mami-san."

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene du Nord [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.





La Sirene du Nord strides impossibly across the cresting white infinity, glittering like diamond dust, leaving no footprints behind. This illusion is somewhat damaged by a small motion of swift penetration, like a sewing machine, behind her. When she comes nearer, guided by the shot of the tiro finale, by the gathering of others, she says nothing immediately, even as Sailor Moon cries out.

Batiste erupts from a snow bank, wearing a puffy vest. He shakes off the snow as la Sirene's pale eyes turn round.

"If his vow was true... then Santa Claus is in great peril," la Sirene says, folding her arms as she descends very gradually into the snow on which she is standing.

"... There is more to it than that, is there not?" la Sirene continues a moment later, eyes snapping towards Mami. Her breath plumes slightly.

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Endo stands in the snow amidst the other magical girls and boys, a line of upturned earth from the passage of the gigantic weapon he drags behind him. The boy raises a hand to shield his eyes from the flash of light that burns across the snow, his eyes narrowing into pained slits.

And when his hand moves aside the two figures in the snow are gone. He recognized neither-and likely wouldn't even if he was close enough to see them-but the words spoken by Nagi are deeply concerning.

"I don't see them." He notes, adding his voice to the others. A moment more and he asks: "He can't really take all the presents for himself, can he? That's too many presents..."

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

"No," Madoka replies, softly, forlornly. She took the worst of some body blows already today, and the pink gem below her throat is a little less bright than usual. "I guess... we'd better go back?" She, too, is uncertain, but there's nothing like a lack of certainty in her stalwart senpai, and fear in her dearest senshi ally, to force her own confidence to wax in response.

She nods, firmly enough to convince herself that things are all right, and loops her arm into the crook of Mami's, like an escort. Her other arm she stretches out like a bar to close the distance to Sailor Moon, takes one of her hands, and squeezes.

"It's too soon to give up... let's go back... together."

COMBAT: Nagisa Misumi transforms into Cure Black!
<Pose Tracker> Nagisa Misumi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

This helicopter got off easy. Vehicles shouldn't oppose the girls who announce themselves with "Futari wa Pretty Cure!" lightly.

The two monochrome Cures are giving chase, clearing obstacles and gaining elevation as though they were a single four-legged wolf. Here Black is launched by stepping on White's cupped palms, then pausing on the precipice she gained to reach a hand back, her grasp buying White the last yard of the jump and a whole lot of momentum. There they split apart and rejoin like mercury droplets to avoid a crag. Their tracks in the snow crisscross like a french braid.

And when they halt, they stand with their forward shoulders together, a two-girl wedge formation, to watch the helicopter disgorge its passenger down onto the ground. Cure Black's scythe of orange bangs ripples in the winter wind, amber eyes sharp as she stands at ready, coiled and two-fisted.

Then that statuesque jawline softens as she bursts into a gleeful laugh. "Ne, didn't it look like a pigeon doing its business?" she asks Cure White, as the helicopter flies away from the trenchcoated man it plopped onto the ground. "Ne?" she entreats those around her.

But her mirth is soon to end. For though Cure Black, like her partner, is a senpai among Cures who no longer believes in Santa, she still remains a champion of the more innocent hearts of chil--

"Wait!" she cries to Nagi urgently. "You don't need to do this! Just write a letter to Santa!"

As the wicked new Santa disappears, Cure Black wavers and drops to her knees. "I was so good this year," she groans in a shellshocked monotone.

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

In short order the blizzard is so powerful that the magical girls can barely see each other, much less the lodge, and they wind up being separated into smaller groups as necessity forces them to begin the trek back to safety (and heat).

Over the howling of the wind is a shrill voice, the kind that might come from a very tiny being.

A very tiny being with an extremely strong Kansai accent.

"Y'ALL!" it -- he -- shrieks. "THIS AIN'T--"

He's drowned out by a whole new meaning of white noise, and the next bits are only audible in snatches.

"-- -- SAVE -- -- -- -- GOING -- SEE YOUR -- -- REMIND -- -- FORGET"

And then they're at the lodge, converging on it from all directions, along with plenty of other Sister Schools students who got caught out in the sudden snowstorm. The weather seems to have worn away everyone's henshin; they're ordinary children again, in hats and coats, with all the rest.

There's a lot less jolly red and forest green in everyone's fashion, though. Inside, it becomes far more blatant: all the holiday decorations are gone. No holly and no ivy; no Christmas tree, no hanging lights. No stockings on the hearth. No nothing.

The other students seem oblivious to the change. And they're still talking and laughing amongst themselves, having a good time on their Winter Break... but there's something missing, something ephemeral.

Something important.

School trips are exciting and all, but this is just a trip like any other trip, in the worst season of the year.

Always winter, in a place where Christmas never was to begin with.

OOC: Civilians, please pose yourselves in doing whatever you're doing in the lodge (you don't have to be in the same PART of the
lodge(s), there's sitting rooms, the dining hall, the sleeping areas, and so forth), and try to highlight the ways that, sans
Christmas, you're a little bit less than you were! Everyone else is invited to both react to the blizzard and altered world, and
HIGHLY encouraged to pose their own civilians (especially siblings or close friends) and how they've changed.
OOC: You are further encouraged to approach NPCs (or PC civilians, but please try not to ALL pile on Homura and Steven, the idea
is to break this up a little bit into smaller groups/vignettes, and also to feature your NPC friends and younger family), about
what's going on, but nobody will have any idea what it is you're talking about, this Christmas thing.

OOC: For pacing purposes, we aren't quite at the moment for grand gestures yet, this is more the expository round of 'now this'

OOC: If you're going for an NPC, you don't have to wait for Homura or Steven to pose. (Don't worry, everyone is going to get a
shot at Homura and Steven eventually, if they want one.)

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

All Takeo wants is a hot cocoa, a cold Mt. Dew, a nice warm blanket and good video game to pass the night with. It was rough after he lost his transformation, but somehow, despite the blizzard and the cold, he manages to find the lodge and lusts after those very things. As he enters the lodge his gaze falls on the room and he frowns slightly. Sure. Kenjiro is being his usual self. He's hitting on that girl that sits in row three he always hits on while acting like an idiot. And sure, Ichiro is on a couch with his nose in a book over by the fire. All normal things, but something isn't .... Right.

Frowning Takeo slides out of his jacket and, so the doesn't clomp snow all over the place removes his boots before moving to Ichiro while looking at Kenjiro. "Heya. Um. Buddy? You uh... you okay? Everything ... Cool and stuff?"

Ichiro pushes his glasses up as he looks at Takeo. Once his finger is removed they immediately slide back down again. "Yupp. Just reading the next Martian Invasion book. You should read them. They're great!"

"I don't ... really do that?"

"Do what?"

"Read." Takeo says with a shrug. "Anyway. Something just seams off. Like. I dunno." He shrugs a shoulder.

Ichiro shrugs a shoulder as his nose falls back into his book. "Eh. It's the same as always this time of year. Boring. Nothing to look forward to, Spring Break is soooo far awaaaaay ~"

Takeo cringes. Spring Break is the next break. Even here in Hokkaido they're expected to ... LEARN THINGS ... "My life is failure." Takeo says as he sits heavily down on the couch blinking at the fire in horror.

Ichiro pats him on the sshoulder. "Kenjiro-san and I know. But don't worry. Somebody always need a janitor!"

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (4)] has posed.

What an odd trip this is.

Snow is fun and all, but it really is cold on this ski trip. Why exactly did he come? Oh right! To get along with some of his fellow students. And while this outing was great at first. it is starting to wear on little Steven Universe.

The biting cold gnaws at his neck and ears. He thought Pearl packed some earmuffs and a scarf, but apparently not. Maybe it got lost on the trip.

Steven sits idly in the main lodging area, near the fireplace with hot cocoa in his hands, just watching the fire burn and dance. Its a nice view to watch at least while everyone else has fun.

The boy wears a pink... ish? parachute jacket. It can barely be called pink. Its more of a settling gray color with a tiny bit of pink to it. He has on black boots, and deep blue jeans on. And of all people he feels wholly out of place here. There is an odd wrongful feeling in his chest as he sits there, thinking of other, better things to do. He could just get up and go talk to others! He could!

Something just doesn't click right now. He's not feeling it.

Is this nervousness? Trepidation? Since when was he not the socialite?

That cup of unfinished cocoa is set off to the side, ans the little Gem Child sinks in to his seat, that thin smile at the fire slowly bleeding away to a sad frown. The boy looks to his phone after being pulled from a pocket. He could dial them. Find a way to get him home. Maybe.

But even that he cannot muster the gumption to do.

He just... can't do anything, it seems.

What an awful time. The boy pulls out that phone again, and begins to type on it.

'fun things to do in winter'

Results show a few fun games, how to make a snowman, sledding... Hm. None of these seem real interesting all of a sudden. "Pff... maybe I will just meld here to the couch..." he says in a grumbly tone. "Least I will stay warm... Maybe I will try again tomorrow."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"I... I wanted..."

The snowstorm steals words as readily as it steals sight, but perhaps Mikoto's morose words will reach someone.

"... to know what Christmas was like..."

But then again...

... it's getting awfully white...


There's nothing here but normal Winter clothes. Mikoto's hasn't changed much - black and gold coat, yellow hat and mittens pinned to her shoulder, and her sword is naturally in the case slung over the opposite shoulder - because she never realised there were Christmas colours in the first place. It was surprising, to see everyone in reds and greens. It's surprising to see them out of them.

Mikoto glances aside, to the frost on the window. It's cold. She wondered why this was a tradition, coming to such a cold place in the coldest part of the year. Now she'll never know.

She's never been able to hide anything on her face, and that's why Aoi Senou finds it so easy to tell she's upset. "Mikoto-chan," she diverges from her route to go meet up with her friends to go to the girl at the window, tapping Chie Harada on the elbow to call her attention too. She's holding a mug of hot chocolate; it's not the eggnog she'd been drinking in the days leading up to this. "Are you.. okay?"

Mikoto looks down, humming discontent through her lips. "... why?" She asks.

"Mikoto-chan..." Chie adjusts her glasses, with a serious expression. "Did something happen?" She looks aside, listening for a moment. She hasn't heard about any of the guys being morons, and all the girls are pretty sedate in the cold, but...

Mikoto shakes her head. "Why are we here? What's point?"

Aoi laughs, shaking her head. "It's just a school trip, you know? Sometimes they get us together these days, it's a Sister Schools sort of thing..." She gestures, vaguely, with a hand. "... it's not supposed to make you unhappy or anything, Mikoto-chan."

"Cold," Mikoto grumbles.

"It is, yeah," Chie shrugs a shoulder. "But it's a great way to get everyone together."

Mikoto looks up to her, sadness creasing the edges of her eyes. "... yeah... supposed to..." Uncertainty edges into her voice, "... be for most important people, right?"

"Eh? That's a bit too serious for a class trip," Chie waves off the guess, with a lopsided smile. "Don't be so intense, Mikoto-chan. It's just something to do over the winter. I mean, there's not really anything important which happens around now, so we've gotta keep ourselves busy, right?"

"... oh," Mikoto says, looking down at what should be a mug of eggnog.

"Do you want some hot chocolate, Mikoto-chan?" Aoi asks, kindly.

"'Kay," Mikoto says, quietly, because she cannot think of how to tell her the drink is all wrong.

"We'll go get you some," Chie says. "You wanna come with?"

Mikoto shakes her head, with a grunt of dissatisfaction as she looks out over the lounge. Maybe if she looks long enough, it will make sense.

"Well... okay," Chie says. "We'll come find you in a bit. You can come and hang out with us. We'll find something to do, yeah?"

"Yeah," Mikoto agrees, wan, as she turns to the window again, laying a palm on the glass. It's cold. They came here for the cold, and now there's no reason to be here, and it's still cold. It doesn't seem fair. She can hear Mai's friends retreating, and she feels bad for worrying them, but she doesn't know how to tell them how wrong this is. She's never been good with her words, and she doesn't really know what this holiday is about in the first place...

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

It's deep December, so Homura Akemi curls up with the December issue of her favorite shoujo manga magazine. She'd be over by the unadorned fireplace, trying to soak up some extra heat for frozen fingertips, but... there's a crowd over there already, of course.

Thus she picked a quiet window nook in the common room that's abandoned for a reason: the way winter sneaks in around the glass panes. Homura is pretty sure her fingers might fall right off if she falls asleep here, no matter how thickly wound her blankets are.

All the stories are either about romance that blooms as girls and boys escape snowed-in misery together, or -- more commonly -- about love blooming in tropical paradise, escapist fantasies for the kids whose parents can't afford to send them somewhere warmer.

Why would anyone want to be stuck home where days are cold and short if they could help it? It's certainly no time or place for romance. Wrong season entirely.

As with many other uncomfortable stretches of Homura's life, winter is to be endured at best. That's what she's doing right now: enduring, with her chilly extremities and shy cocoon. The blizzard howls against the window pane and...

She ignores it, dully flips another page. It hardly matters to her that she's by the window. The weather outside is frightful, and... the fire might be nice but it's all the way over there, and they're getting snowed in at this lodge with nowhere to go but it hardly matters. Let it snow, she supposes, because it's not like they can leave anyhow. The trip isn't over till it's over.

Homura almost longs to be back at her freshly-rented and bare-walled apartment so she could be cold by herself instead. The only reason she'd rather stay here is... some of the people here know her name, and that has this way of getting Homura through the winter. Even if they're all miserable and waiting the winter out, at least... at least Madoka and Eri and Mami and Mikoto and Nori are here, even if there's nothing interesting or fun to do out in all that awful cold wet stuff (skiing? snowballs? walks in the winter woods? ugh!), even if it wasn't pouring down in white bucketfuls.

Except they aren't right now, so Homura just huddles deeper into her insufficient blankets, choosing cold and physical discomfort over warmth and social discomfort.

<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (7)] has posed.

The snow continues to fall, heavier and heavier with each passing moment. Despite Madoka's encouragment that things will be all right, Sourisi is starting to get worried. A mysterious wish that sounded like a greedy wish for all the gifts in the world has been granted, and now a sudden snowstorm that was only growing stronger?

She may have only learned that magic is real only a few short months ago, but this doesn't seem like something that's normal.

"Uh...right. Some hot chocolate sounds amazing right now..." Maybe some sort of epiphany will strike while she's warming back up. Even magical clothing doesn't protect against all of the cold, and she's been out in the white powdery stuff for ages.

The trek back towards the lodge is already a somber affair, with the mood heavy with failure. It's not often the magical defenders of Japan don't succeed, and its' bitter taste is all the stronger for it. "I-I think I might be able to ask for something to track the shards if I head back to Tokyo! W-w-we have to try something!" It's taking some effort to shout over the storm now to speak to the green-clothed Knight now! Magical endurance is starting to struggle against the intensifiying winds, and it's all Sourisi can do to struggle through the swirling winds and pounding snow.

It's not long before even the Wind Knight is lost from sight, and now the novice magical girl is starting to worry. She thought she left the lodge in this direction, but she can barely see her hand in front of her face now! Is she destined to become a snow-mouse and buried under the white waves?!

Thankfully, the wall of gloomy white in front of her starts to give way to the artifical lightning of shelter, and there's a side door leading into the lodge!

Slamming the door behind her to cut off the flow of biting winds and snowflakes desperate to melt, Niramo lets out a sigh of relief and her eyes closing to readjust to the light. "That...could have gone so much better?" Opening her eyes and looking around the lodge, it takes the Juuban student a moment to realize that something was off before looking down at herself. There was a lump underneath her mended coat that was shaking violently. "Ooh, I guess the weather was too much? Sorry...and thank you, Takk-san!"

The Kwami hiding under her clothing for warmth must be too cold to even stutter a reply, but the shivering halts for just a moment. He'll be okay, right?

Shoulders shaking from shivers of her own, Niramo makes her way to the kitchen to make a quick cup of hot chocolate. Using a powdered mix wasn't exactly the best thing, and there was no milk to heat up, but this is still exactly what's needed to cure the chills!

Cup and spoon are quickly aquired, but there's still something missing here. "That's odd...where's the holiday hot chocolate? It has all those marshmellows in it..." Sure, the marshmellows were stale, but they were cut into miniture evergreen trees and snowmen. It's better than the plain hot chocolate she was seeing.

A head with full dull-silver hair perks up slightly upon seeing the one person out of the three Sister Schools that she could consider a friend, and a timid voice raises up from the grade schooler. "H-holiday mix? U-um...well, the Snow Festival i-isn't for a few months. Maybe someone f-finally threw out the old packages?"

Spoken softly or not, it's enough to have Niramo jumping in surprise. Just how long has the genius been hiding in the corner? "Wakatsuki-chan! Sorry about that, I didn't see you there. I kinda got focused on the hot chocolate, and you tend to blend in if you don't speak up. We need to try working on that!"

Wakatsuki Makiko hesitantly nods once before hunching her shoulders down and tries desperately to blend in into the worn wooden seat hidden away in a corner, futher aided by the weathered table she was sitting at. It was a real act of courage for the Science Club member to leave their bedroom and venture out into public, even if it's hiding away in the kitchen. "Well...o-okay."

Another minute passes before Niramo resigns herself to mixing the plain normal hot chocolate into her styrofoam cup and adding in some hot water from the tap. It's just not the same without the cheap marshmellows! Stirring rapidly and slowly making her way to the table, the ravenette sits on the other side from the Wakatsuki and gives her a smile. With the both of them sitting, it's almost impossible to tell that Niramo is still the shortest of the three. Almost. "Anyways, it's silly they just threw those away. I wanted some evergreen marshmellows to melt in my cup!"

Still, something was nagging at the back of Niramo's mind. Even the shy younger girl was happy about it being so close to Christmas only hours ago. Did something else happen while she was outside, fighting for the star shard?

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"Mm," Mami answers Mikoto, concentrating as she does, looking to each combatant to ensure that all are well after the battle. "I hate to say that I don't know either," Mami admits then to Sailor Moon. "But we'll have to find out. A wish granted is not a power to be trifled with."

Maybe La Sirene is right. But reaching the North Pole, now? Mami doesn't have that capability. Endo's question though, "...Well..."

But before her mind can concoct too many worst-case scenarios, Madoka is there beside her. The blonde looks to her side, and then smiles back, just a brief expression. "...Yes," she says after that, sounding much more sure already. "Regardless of what we do next... It wouldn't do for everyone to find us missing, would it?"

...But the blizzard is so strong. Mami does not end up alone, but she loses sight of most of the others, and can only barely hear a voice in the distance--

Mami lets out a breath that still mists as she steps inside, looking to Madoka for a moment. "That was much closer than I'd like," she says, and looks forward. ...At first, it doesn't register; the change was so immediately. But before she has time to really relax--

Mami blinks, looking around. "What...?"

She looks to the others, but she doesn't speak to them at first; her eyes fall on one, in particular. One, in blankets, and of course she's too cold. Being by the window...

"Homura-chan," Mami says quietly, as she approaches her. "You'll catch a cold sitting so close to the window when it's like this outside." Her voice is gentle, concerned. "Let's move closer to the fire."

She pauses, though. The fireplace...

Mami bits her lip. "Do you know what happened to all the decorations? I hadn't thought we'd stepped out for very long..."

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Endo is shuddering in the cold as he makes the trek back toward the lodge. The sword fades on the way, and as he begins ascent up the short steps to the lodge he pauses to marvel at an unarmored hand, the metal of his barrier jacket replaced by the plain and wooly glove he'd worn out into the snow. He spends only a second to contemplate it before he quickly ducks inside, rubbing his hands together until he regains some semblance of warmth.

It's a few minutes later that he notices the resort is less colorful than when he'd left it. A short and very concerned walk takes him through the lodge and toward the dining area, and once he's there Endo is soon flagging down another boy from Juuban that's seated therein.

"Shinji, where'd the Christmas tree go?" Endo asks of his former clubmate, a similarly dark-haired and bulky boy presently engaged in drinking from a steaming cocoa cup.

"What tree?" Shinji Akeda seems mildly confused.

"The one that was over there." Endo makes a gesture. "Did a little kid come in and steal it?"

"Why would there be a tree here?"

"It's Christmas!"

"What's that?"

Endo's brows furrow. "Christmas..." The boy's fingertips touch together, and he raises them over his head in a triangular shape. "Tree!" He says this very forcefully, as if he might project from himself a beam of pure Christmas at the incredulous face of his companion.

"Are you...an idiot?"

Endo pauses. He raises a hand, considers, and then makes a vaguely dismissive motion. The conversation is ended there, the boy shuffling off futher into the lodge, frowning. His eyes go seeking signs of festive cheer, but find none.

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

The lodge doors burst open to admit a gently panting Nagisa and a gasping Honoka, their endurance unequal when out of henshin. Both are dressed in winter attire; Nagisa's is a pink coat and blue snowpants, with puffball drawstrings for her hood. Blue and amber eyes swing their separate ways around the lobby, fixing on numerous locations where some item of Christmas cheer ought to be and is not. Tinsel, wreathes, trees, ornaments, all gone, and...

Nagisa points to the fireplace. "The yule log! It's just a regular log!" she cries.

Honoka's role as straight man is one of the more difficult of its kind.




"You're sure this will work?"

"Of course of course of course!" Shiho assures, stuffing a few bills into her wallet. The 'donation box,' she calls it. "All my love charms are guaranteed effective, Atcchan!"

The fashionable customer is clutching her charm in both hands. She's an upperclassman, but she looks as plaintive before Shiho as any penitant. "It's just that if it doesn't," she presses.

"We don't sell to people who insult our wares," Rina says haughtily, extending a palm to get the charm back. The customer rotates her shoulders to protect it. "No, no, I'll take it," she says. "Thanks."

"Anytime, anytime, anytime," Shiho chirps cheerfully. "Dumb dumb dumb," she whispers to Rina.

"It's Haruno, of course she's dumb," Rina agrees. "But your plans are always smart... where are these from anyway?"

"Oh, you know that box for charms that have worn out, at the shrine? I took all the old used-up ones..."

As the customer heads off into the lobby, staring at her prize, Nagisa jogs into her place at the crab bar's snack counter, looking alarmed.

"Shiho-chan, Rina-chan, quick! What do you want for Christmas?"

"Who's Chris Thomas?" Rina asks. She's a good English student.

Nagisa dances around nervously on the balls of her feet. "Here, try this... oh za wezzer owdsai iz...~?"

"Cold?" Shiho wasn't bad at English either.

Nagisa is getting upside. "Aiim, dreaming avu Whiiite...?"

The two lacrosse players are at least as disturbed as Nagisa at this point. "Boyfriend?" Rina ventures.

"You met a guy named Chris Thomas?" Shiho guesses.

"SRAY BERR RING, ARE YOU...?!" Nagisa shouts desperately.

"...COMPLETELY INSANE?!" Rina completes. "Nagisa, what's gotten into you?"

"You really don't remember Christmas?" she wails.




"It's not right," Nagisa narrates to herself as she wanders down the hall back to the lobby. "It's not right at all... Shiho-chan's schemes aren't like that... it's supposed to be filming a movie or selling lemonade or something, something to help people..."

The door bursts open, blasting Nagisa's orange hair with cold wind. A bunch of elementary schoolers stampede in, tiny mittens flailing in a clumsy approximation of how an adult runs with their harms. Their teacher looks exhausted.

"Ryouta-kun!" Nagisa cries, spying her little brother. "Just in time!" Running through the mob of ankle-biters, Nagisa blocks Ryouta's path, sending him skidding into her legs. Awkwardly, she hugs his head tightly against her stomach.

"Hey!" Ryouta squirms. "What do you want?"

"Ryouta!" Nagisa scolds. "It's me, Nagisa!"

"I know that! That's why it's annoying!"

Nagisa's face warps into a twitching rictus, but she resists turning her hug into a wrestling move. Pushing Ryouta back, Nagisa kneels, hands on his shoulders. Ryouta does a double-take at the physical contact, eyeing Nagisa leerily. "Ryouta-kun... you're still young, ne, ne? Like the picture book with the train and snow..."

"What's that mean?"

"It means you have the spirit of Christmas in your heart!" Nagisa says brightly.

"You have the spirit of smelly in your fart!"

"YOU LITTLE--" Nagisa's teeth grind, and she's squeezing the shoulders of Ryouta's cute blue snowsuit tightly, but she resists wrestling him again. "Do you remember Christmas or not?!" she demands.

"Biiiii!" Ryouta taunts, sticking his tongue out and pulling his eyelid down. When Nagisa keens her frustration and goes for a bear hug, Ryouta nimbly kicks her in the knee, ducking under her arms to sprint off after his class. "You're dumb fa-art! You're a dumb fa-art!"

Nagisa is on her hands and knees, having lost her balance. Panting, she extends her lower lip and blows her bangs from her face forcefully.

"I can't tell if he was different or not," she sighs.

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene du Nord [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Madoka holds the hands of Sailor Moon - of Mami Tomoe - and a cold breeze stirs the hair of la Sirene du Nord. She stands apart, though she looks at them, or towards them. Her eyes are half shaded.

Then someone shouts. La Sirene and Batiste look up and-- they can't make it out -- and --

Nori Ankou blinks as she walks towards the lodge. Batiste is with her, enjoying the stroll. He is still in a puffy vest but the color is different.

"I suppose I should get back to my tent," Batiste says to Nori as they enter the lounge, immediately running off to the side to exploit the fact that he is small and low to the ground to get back to his extremely plush reclining space in one of Nori's bags.

Nori doesn't reply beyond an "mm," but something seems to be weighing on her.

She can't put her finger on it. It's familiar, but... why...

Her phone rings.

Nori fishes it out. "Ah - mother -"

And then the phone speaks into her ear. What is said takes place over the course of about five minutes in an animated tone, leavened but not heavily with anger and having a certain air of scolding throughout. The dominant topic is a shopping trip missed, a hectoring on what-are-we-paying-for, imprecations that someone may be being an ingrateful child. Nori stops hearing all of it around the 80-second mark, instead letting her eyes look down to the lodge floor as she walks.

Each step is heavier. She's losing her breath a little. "Ah - yes - I'm sorry - ah - um - it's late -"

A pause.

"Good night, mother."

'Oh - that reminds me - about your FATHER--'

Nori settles down into a chair and sinks into it for long slow seconds. She never took her coat off. She feels cold despite it, somehow. She looks at nothing in particular as the voice keeps speaking. The words flood her quietly. He's on a trip, Nori thinks: well, so am I.

But it's like, Nori thinks, I never left.

COMBAT: Sailor Moon transforms into Usagi Tsukino!
<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

"Oh..." If Mami Tomoe doesn't know, then there's noone else she can look to to ask. She will simply have to wait and see. Madoka Kaname's hand goes a long way towards salving the feeling of dread. Like placing a balm on a still fresh wound. It still hurts... but sometimes the idea that as bad as it looks, it might heal is enough. "...I could really go for some of your cocoa back at the lodge." Sailor Moon whispers, with at least this little hopeful look on her expression. A craving for small comforts of company.

However the wind grows louder, and harsher, the chill stealing the sensation of a warm hand from her. On the wind is a voice...

Sailor Moon's eyes spasm shut, and when they open again.

They're back at the lodge. Dressed in a pink sweater with a blue collar and a plaid blue skirt, the deception of warmth and comfort lulls her into relief. "We're back!" The presence of familiar faces starts soothing her into complacency. The lack of decorations do not register. A familiar head of red waves and a bow catches her attention as she holds up a finger to Madoka, "Save some cocoa for me - I'll be back in a second."

Threading her way through the crowd, she catches up to a dour-faced Naru nursing a cup of cider. Putting an arm around her from behind in an ambush of familiar friendship, "Naru~chan~" She sing-songs. Naru tries to balance her cup, seeming only momentarily startled, before she offers glumly. "Oh hey Usagi-chan." Then shifting to put her hands, she takes a look at her face, "Hey what's with the grumpy face? Did you get turned down or something?" Naru momentarily sports a look of confusion, "Turned down?"

Usagi Tsukino takes a step back, rubbing the back of her head self-consciously from misreading the situation, "Oh I guess not. I just thought... you were all hyped up about this being the winter trip where you nabbed yourself a glamorous Ohtori boyfriend and made the romance happen."

Naru Osaka just gives Usagi this dour look, "As if anyone could make that happen on this trip. It's been a total bust." Usagi just looks confused in a way that seems decidedly plaintive, "But Naru-chan... you've been having the time of your life..."

BGM Change: I hate Christmas Parties - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AVO_sCRPC8

Sifting through her memories of Umino and Naru putting on an impromptu comedy sketch in the lodge together... all of them building a snowman together. Usagi trying - and failing to ski... and laughter... laughter... laughter.

Naru's gaze sharpens, as if she were wondering if she was the butt of some joke, "... I'm really not in the mood for your teasing right now Usagi-chan. What is this really about? Are you hoping to recruit me so I can help you approach someone?" Rolling her eyes, she turns away, "Well go put yourself out there all on your own." Naru starts walking away and Usagi who looks more than a little shell-shocked tries to call out to her again, "Naru-chan wait-"

Naru looks over her shoulder at Usagi for a moment, but her anger seems to only have softened a touch by the sight of her right now, "When you get rejected, at least the two of us can be miserable together."

Usagi Tsukino feels a cold sensation in her chest, like an icicle slid into the ribs from an unexpected angle. Reeling from the emotional blow cannot countenance this reality where Naru Osaka has been having such an awful time. It contrasts with all she knows. Like someone had stabbed a calendar with a precision strike on a day, and all the romance had flooded out through a void. With a dull - almost bovine look of incomprehension, she looks around the room, the lack of color. The langour the all too seasonal weather was bringing to all of the students.

There's nothing precisely wrong. It could be any other Winter Day. Naru will probably just sleep off the winter doldrums and they'll make up in the morning. That'd be normal for the two of them. But all the same...

...how can things be so normal that she feels like she wants to cry?

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

It's a somber walk back to the lodge through the worsening storm; it would be far worse if it was a walk undertaken in actual solitude. As chance or choice would have it, though, the Magic Knight of Wind isn't alone on that walk - and as distressing as the situation is, it really would be worse to confront it in solitude.

The Wind Knight looks over at the source of Sourisi's voice, trying to keep sight of her through the blowing whiteness. "I don't think we're getting back to Tokyo in these conditions," she calls out, still sounding rueful over the sound of the wind. "But if the weather lets up and we can seize an opportunity, anything is worth a try!" Assuming, she adds internally, that they have *time* to do so. The blizzard would have to let up an hour ago to stand any chance of returning to Tokyo before nightfall, at least through conventional travel. But instead, the storm is only getting worse, until she can't see anyone else around her.

Thankfully, the lodge itself looms up out of the white-out conditions, and bundled up for the slopes, Fuu manages to clamber to the door, scrambling inside that blessed refuge of warmth and divesting herself of some outer layers.

Adjusting her dark green sweater as she makes her way into the lodge proper, Fuu Hououji feels a little out of place at the lodge so freshly devoid of Christmasy decor. Or at least, to *her* it's freshly devoid....

"There you are, Fuu," Kuu says with a smile. "How was your walk in the snow? You should probably stay closer to the lodge when that kind of a storm is brewing."

"It was - something I needed to do in a hurry, if I could," Fuu says, painfully aware that it's not even a convincing excuse to her. "I guess I would have been stuck in town by this storm, though ..." She trails off, looking around the hallway again. "Kuu-neesan, did ... did they take the decorations down?"

"Decorations?" Kuu echoes, tilting her head. "Well, they spruced the lodge up to welcome us when we arrived, but why would it still be decorated now? It's just another night, there's nothing to decorate *for*." She purses her lips. "I guess things do seem a little bare, but - let's go get some cocoa for you, before the supply gets wiped out. Again," she adds wryly. "They may actually run *completely* out at this rate. - Fuu, are you sure you feel all right?"

"I'm ..." Fuu trails off, then shakes her head. "No. It's nothing major, though - I'll be okay. Let me go back to my room and see if my 3DS is done charging; if we're stuck indoors for the duration, I may as well see who wants to trade Pokemon, or something ..."

Or, she thinks, I can at least check to see if the holiday's disappearance reaches into games I've had for months or years.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Madoka triples down on a warm response to this uneasiness, after staring at everything and everyone with saucer-wide eyes.

She settles in between Mikoto and Homura and does what she does best: she snuggles. An arm in either direction.

"It's okay," she soothes. "Senpai's right, we all need to get warmer... and how can we be gloomy when Christmas is tomorrow?"

Steven is over by the fire, but he's going to have company on that couch in a moment. Can it fit him, Mikoto, Homura, Madoka, and Mami at the same time? They're soon to find out.

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Persona 4 OST - Who's There? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2PViOqKUUU

Ichiro is moving further and further away from Takeo; no, that's not quite right, he isn't moving at all. The room is getting longer and longer, and very slightly skewed to the right.

Endo, however, finds the opposite to be true; Shinji isn't getting as distant as he ought, because the room he's in is starting to shrink.

Chie and Aoi don't use the door to leave -- they walk right through a wall, and disappear.

The audio on Nori's phone starts to static in and out, as though there's interference from a radio. It is, very very faintly, playing a tinny song. Elevator music, maybe.

Squirming youngsters near Nagisa run past her -- and through each other, like a pathing error. A moment later, they do it again, correctly, passing from point A to point B on the floor twice.

Fuu's video game is unreadable. The letters just will not take proper form, they swim and swim and swim.

The fireplace is weird. There's a fire burning there, but it isn't making any noise, no crackling or popping. And it isn't casting any shadows, either.

<< Y'all! >> It's that voice from the storm. Now it's projecting into the heads of the magical girls and boys, with all its little might. << This isn't real! This is a dream... you're under an enchantment! But... the only way to break the dream is to, um... >> There is the telepathic sound of pages flipping and the little guy mutters unintelligably to himself.

<< Ya gotta destroy the dream logic! Even though there's no Christmas, ya gotta make Christmas anyway. Ya gotta make them feel it! Ya gotta feel it yourself! --HEY! >>

That sounded like an interruption. The connection starts to fade.

<< Believe, >> he calls frantically. << Gotta -- find YOUR true meaning -- and share it -- OW -- >>

It kind of sounds like he's being shaken. And then the sense of his sweet little mind is severed completely.

The dreaming students mill all around, continuing as they were.

OOC: Steven and Homura, and other civilians, don't notice the weird dream effects, nor do they hear the telepathic message from
the MYSTERIOUS TINY KANSAI SPEAKER (*cough* kero-chan *cough*)

OOC: Pacing-wise, it's time to go big (would that we had more time for rounds of this), in terms of digging deep to figure out
what you believe in, and try to inspire the FEELINGS of Christmas, which may not have anything to do with presenttos, in the other
PCs and NPCs. (Obviously you can succeed, if you're with an NPC; if you're with a PC, you will want to let them react for

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (4)] has posed.

The couch was at least comfortable.

And while the main lodge area was quiet, it has suddenly gotten louder. More people have suddenly poured inside. A look toward a window reveals that there is a blizzard outside! When did that crop up? Huh. Well, seems like they all had the best idea, to retreat indoors.

He peers across the room to those showing up, particularly toward someone leaving who he thought was speaking English. Huh. The boy offers a few waves to folks as he peeks over the couch, his chin lazily resting on the headrest. A fake smile given to them.

It would be real, but he just wasn't feeling it. Still is nice to treat people nicely, regardless of how you feel yourself, right?

After greeting everyone with a few half-hearted waves, he returns to the shape he is producing in the couch fabric with his weight. Except his zoning out is interrupted.

A look up repevals multiple folks showing up. "O-Oh. Hey." A pause. OH. "H-Hey! Need a spot to sit or something? I can move," he offers. They look like they are together. He would hate to keep them from all sitting down together.

They all look familiar, too! Madoka, Homura and Mami fro mthe Tug of War, Mikoto from the pole vaulting! Fancy seeing them all together! Maybe they are all gym buddies?

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

"Mmm...hmmm?" Homura's voice, already both quiet and soft, surfaces with a hibernal fuzziness. "Tomoe...san?"

She rouses to the sound of that voice, soothing like heated honey on a sore throat, and finds her finger joints are locked with painful cold. She has two dainty blocks of ice instead of feet thanks to the sill's draft. After one glacial blink Homura turns her snow-white face toward the warmth of Mami's concern.

That turn brings another's pale hand into view, planted against the glass. "Minagi-san, too... oh!" Madoka gathers the two girls with her caring arms and Homura huddles under one like a dark-topped duckling. "You'll get, it's cold over here Kaname-san..." Well she knows. Except suddenly it's so much less so, to Homura.

A blizzard gale slams into the window and snakes a subzero tentacle between rattling panes, and okay, it's still a little cold over here. Homura nods ready agreement and comes along to the fireside crowd. She'd feel so bad if they hung around that draft longer on her account. "Thanks, senpai... um, decorations?" Immediately Homura feels bad for questioning Mami, but, what decorations? "Maybe that was another cabin... was someone having a birthday?"

On their way over to the fireplace Madoka says something so puzzling that it wrinkles up the skin between Homura's eyebrows and distracts her during the seating process -- five people on one couch! -- and it's not until after the seating's all done and she's wedged in there somehow...

"What's tomorrow?"

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

There's a strangeness in the room in the little details. Blink and she'll miss things fading... a wrongness in vision that feels like static in the ears. Rubbing her eyes she tries to comprehend what's going on...

And then there's that voice again in her ears.

"Dream... logic?" Usagi Tsukino has had more daydreams than she can count, yet she's never considered the logic of dreams. Tapping her chin with a single finger, "Let's see... how to make people feel... Christmas..."

What does Christmas mean to her? What does she believe about it?

Her eyes drift over to Madoka snuggling up to Homura Akemi and Mami Tomoe on the couch, her eyes slide over to Steven, as she tries to lock onto constants in this room where everything seems to be constantly changing. She thinks back to that strange boy and his wish.

And then... snapping her fingers together, she suddenly heads around the corner.

Reaching into her pocket, she knows that there will be something there. Grasping it within her hand, she starts to undo one odango, then the other, allowing her hair down freely as she shakes it out then murmurs...

"Moon Power - Change Me Into-"

BGM Change: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhC9hA44enE

"HO HO HO - MERRY CHRISTMAS!" Calls a feminine voice boisterously, as if she were trying to mimic basso tones.

The first thing anyone sees is the floppy pointed red hat with a white trim. Below that are a pair of curved red glasses frames that are oversized on her face. Then a wispy white beard that covers the lower half of her face. And below that is a white, red, and blue Sailor Fuku of the one the only-


On account of a jerk taking the place of the real Santa, so she doesn't say that.

Shouldering a giant white sack in the common room as she nearly stumbles on Sailor V's blue high heels she walks up to Santa, "... And what would you like for Christmas Young Man? Wait - wait - don't tell me..."

Santa V rifles through her sack, and produces...

... a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Which she places into his hands.

"Have yourself some Christmas Chicken! Just the thing to get you right into the spirit of the season!"

Then she marches up to Homura Akemi, "It's the most wonderful time of year Akemi-san! The perfect occasion to snuggle up with someone special to you and let the magic of ~romance~ into your life-"

Before she can finish that thought though, she hands over a little baggy of chestnuts, "-here's just the thing for that - you should roast these over an open fire and share!"

Santa V then tries to offer a surreptitious thumbs up to Mami and Madoka, before hoisting her bag over her shoulder, and stepping onto a table in the middle of the common room to get up higher. "Get your treats from Santa V right here!" As she starts handing out treats to baffled student passers by.

A familiar voice now in the common room, "Sailor V - what happened to you?! You're really showing your age before your time!" Shingo Tsukino almost catches a saran wrapped Christmas Cake pitched right to the face. Catching them in his hand, his eyes get a glimmer of connection between the parcel in his hand and his prior insult. "Chrismas... Cake?"

When Naru Osaka enters her vision, the girl holding the cider cup catches Santa V waving almost too enthusiastically to try to get her attention, blinking her eyes and rubbing them she says quietly, "Sailor V?"Santa V!" She corrects, before hopping off her table and marching up to her to hand her a...

... package of Christmas shaped Gingerbread cookies. "Cookies? And why are you wearing a beard?" A little confused, she accepts, as Santa V suddenly takes her other hand and says, "Merry Christmas Naru-chan! Can't you feel the romance in the air?"

The confusion in Naru Osaka's eyes changes... as something else startles sparkle instead. Perhaps it's just a little touch of wonder, as she suddenly nods in agreement, "Mmm-Mmm!"

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

"Make Christmas." Takeo says softly after the tiny announcer makes his announcement in his head. Destroy Dream Logic. Well heck. Takeo destroys logic everyday at least three times before breakfast, and that's however long it takes for him to stumble into the kitchen and make himself a bowl of Frosted Death Sugar Bombs (tm). So. Destroying the dream logic should be ... simple! He nods to himself. Tekeo doesn't really question the fact that something is telling him what to do in his head. He literally takes orders from a talking rabbit, has a magical horse for his best friend, and regularly hangs out with girls who turn into the most bad ass super heroes on the planet.

There are somethings that just make sense no matter how crazy they might be.

Takeo leans back in the couch and thinks as the world twists and skewers his perception of reality. "You know what Ichi-Kun?" Takeo says and looks at Ichiro. "I think I will ... R, r, r, Read a b,b Read a book." He has a hard time choking out those words. "Because you like them, and they're important to you." He holds a hand out for one of the volumes on the Martian Invasion series Ichiro is reading.

Ichiro, stares at him. "What? You rarely open a school book why would you .... ?"

Takeo waves a hand dismisively. "Baka. I told you. You're my friend. And since it's important to you I'd like to share them with you. And maybe after I read a chapter or two, we can grab Kenjiro and a few others for some board games. Spend time with each other." He grins to Ichiro. "I know there's that girl you like in the back row in home room." He whispers. "We can get her to join in on the game and sit her next to you. I'll make the introduction. It's all in the spirit of Christmas."

"Chris what now?" Ichiro says form his far off spot.

"It's this time of year. You do nice things. You share your time with friends and families and those you care about." He swallows a little.

He knows Mama-Sama and Papa-San are likely wiht her, but at night ... At Night Mika is probably alone in the hospital. "Here. I'll read the book in a little. After the game. I'm gonna go call my sister and just ... sit with her on the phone for a little. Let her know she's not alone this time of year either, and that we all love and miss her." As Santa V comes in, he goes out to make his phone call. He does stop and blink at Santa V and mouths, "Why the Beard?" Before he goes to call Mika.

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene du Nord [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyDk_WXHu2M

Nori settles down, like sedimentary rocks in their earliest stages. She feels like that. Her eyes are without light. It is a familiar moment, the quiet places where she slides into nothing. She will be relieved when she wants to cry because it means it will be over.

The phone crackles.

Someone speaks.

That familiar kara-age fried voice from... outside?

Under an enchantment, Nori thinks. Gotta destroy the dream logic. Even if there's no Christmas, you have to make Christmas anyway.

But how can I make Christmas? Nori thinks.

The voice keeps talking. She can hear it in both ears now.

Nori shifts herself to sit upright and it feels like she's pushing in the water and she looks at the phone, at the name entry on the phone's screen. She turns her head back towards the doorway and then down at the phone again. Back up - someone is coming, someone who doesn't mean anything (to Nori; to someone else, that ski mummy is the most important person in the world.) Nori draws her hand back and


the phone forwards. Spinning, it hits the tile floor, rebounding and skipping off the edging. As the door opens to admit that skiier the phone bounces past their ankle, sailing off and landing in some snow.

No. Not in. Through!

Deep in the snow bank there is a pause. Crackling, the phone's speaker says: 'Nori? Did you drop your phone? Mm, you know, your father - just before he jetted off to -'

But do you know who cannot hear that voice now? That voice that whispers to packed and slowly melting snow?

Nori Ankou rises upwards to her feet and this is as far as she can manage. She feels tears welling up back behind her eyes and gravity is going to take her. She can't do this, she thinks bleakly. Even here I've messed up. I'm sorry, fairy, I hope that I wasn't the only one you could speak to. But probably, I was, and nHO HO HO - MERRY CHRISTMAS!

The shattering launch of the Santa V rocket, bound for the moon and all points north, take Nori out of her head. Her mouth opens, then closes, and then Nori Ankou steps forwards.

She raises a hand, fingers loosely curled as if to point. Nori's mouth starts to open and close again before she finally blurts out, "Santa!! You've lost weight!!"

She looks to Madoka and Mami, not so far away, as if to seek confirmation on this point. Her eyebrows raise slightly. Her eyes are wide, the faint dark ring beneath them more prominent than usual.

<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Christmas is tomorrow, how can they be so gloomy? Mami thinks much the same as Madoka says it. She wonders for a moment where some of the others are--like Nori. It's a passing wonder, though; her attention is full with caring for Homura, seeing how obviously chilly she is at the moment. She will help them all to the couch, and as she does--

"...No," Mami answers Homura, "No birthdays." Well, not that she knows of just now. "The Christmas decorations. The red, and green, the holly..."

What's tomorrow?

It is here where Mami begins to notice the strangeness around her. It's Mami's nature to live very much in the world, to understand the heat and warmth of the fire, the comfort of the couch, the chill outside; she pays attention to details, that's who she is. ...And the details aren't... right. So Mami does not answer Homura immediately--instead, she suddenly hears the voice of a very particular being--

"A dream," Mami murmurs, and looks up in some concern as she hears the voice's difficulty--is he being shaken? Is he hurt? "Oh..."

Mami thinks of Christmas, and so of course she begins to look to her side, to the one who is always there. ...Her hand keeps gently petting Mikoto's hair, but her smile goes to Madoka, small but sincere. "I don't have to look far to find that meaning, do I?" she asks--tells?--her partner, nodding once. She might have said something else, but before she does, she hears something louder, something brighter--and giggles faintly at Santa V.

Mami smiles at Nori. "Oh yes, he looks quite handsome this year, doesn't he?" A beat, before she starts to speak for herslef, too.

"...Christmas is when it's cold, and snowy, but you go out anyway, because you have preparations to make--you have people to see. ...Maybe you have a date, and maybe you don't--it would be impolite of me to assume," she says with some grace, "...But regardless it is an energy that everyone carries at this time of year. Family, or... New friends."

"It can just be looking up at the stars... and wondering if they don't have someone they're thinking of, themselves."

Nori was looking for confirmation--Mami lifts one hand, without standing, because she could hardly move now. She just extends it, as if to invite Nori over, to invite her to take it, and smiles.

"...And if you only watch other people, then maybe this is the year that you'll feel it, too."

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.

At least the 3DS was where she expected it to be, but the illegibility of the games does the opposite of setting her at ease. And she tries multiple games - even those that wouldn't have had holiday bonuses in the first place - only to run into the same swimming, unreadable text, until she finally turns the system off and snaps the screens closed, sitting back on the couch she chose and closing her eyes.

... and that's when the voice calls to her, not by her ears but by her mind.

She listens. She thinks. She tries to believe ... but first, she has to remember. She has to feel. Then she can believe. And *then* she can share that belief, and pick the dream apart - one thread at a time, if she has to.

The most obvious piece of logic to leverage would be Christmas presents ... but then, Fuu's birthday isn't even two weeks before Christmas day, close enough to be easily 'confused' in this illusory dream. She'd need to dial in on something that is uniquely Christmas - which tends to mean romance, or ...

Fuu slips her 3DS into its bag, looking up as she overhears Santa V from around the corner. "Kuu-neesan, come with me a moment? I think Santa-san sent a representative after all."

"Who?" Kuu stares at her younger sister a moment ... and her confusion lingers long enough for Fuu, looking a little mischievous, to snag her big sister's hand and physically lead her closer to the big sofa, and the lengthy discussion of what Christmas is about and what its traditions are in Japan.

Really, Christmas isn't a logical holiday at all - and that's where Fuu's consistently rational mind ran into trouble. It's a more emotionally-charged holiday than most, when you get right down to it: a holiday of love and fun, whether romantic or innocent.

And believing in Christmas means immersing yourself in those emotions, whether by eating fried chicken or exchanging gifts with loved ones or simply by being together. It's a togetherness that no dream can replace.

<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (7)] has posed.

Things are only feeling more and more off as Niramo spends time with Wakatsuki. It could have been the fact that the silver-haired girl was trying to talk her out of doing a group call with Yuhira later, saying she didn't want to be part of a one-sided conversation about fashion again. It might be the fact that the hot chocolate didn't taste nearly as good as it usually does, despite how even the powdered version can taste amazing with the right attention.

Or maybe it was that Niramo could have swore that Wakatsuki's fingers were sticking through her cup and holding it like her fingers were not in scolding hot liquid.

Wakatsuki's latest rant about how they should just get the trip over with and go back to learning at school is tuned out as a rather distinct accent seems to echo in Niramo's mind. Wait, didn't she hear that same voice when she was heading back to the lodge? Looking around the kitchen for the little voice wasn't making the speaker known, however. 'Wait, this is fake? But...it feels so real!'

Maybe it's just a one-way voice call of the mind, or the speaker was in a panic, but what he was saying does seem to make a lot of sense. She knew there was hot chocolate with Christmas shapes here earlier!

Maybe if she wasn't so focused on losing her festive drink, Niramo would have notice how dour the kitchen really was before...

Trying to find a way to break though the enchantment is worrying enough, but trying to do it by figuring out her own interpretation of Christmas is a bit...terrifying would be the word. Getting presents that you want is one thing, but that seems too easy to break the spell. It's not anything to do with songs or special food you can only get at this time of year, either. Wakatsuki's rant becomes muted background noise as Niramo tries to figure out exactly what the voice means. Maybe it's something that's important to her? But what could it--


The realization brings back memories of last year's Christmas, of in-laws that Niramo had never known existing dropping in to meeting her mom. Of her father surprisingly taking off from work in time for a warm dinner with his wife and daughter. Of surprising Yuhira by personally making her way across Tokyo on Christmas Day just to deliver a present Niramo had saved months for.

After all, family isn't just those that are tied to you by blood.

"...honestly, I don't even know why they made us come to the lodge with the other schools. It's not like anyone at Juuban even know I exist. Maybe I shouldn't have listened to you, Niramo-chan..." That...was a terrible time to listen to Wakatsuki again. It takes a deep breath and Niramo repeating 'It's not real' in her mind a few times to not make her cry. They may have only known each other for a month, but...she already sees the shy girl as a dear friend!

Putting her cup of barely-touched hot chocolate to the side with a little more force than what is needed, Niramo reaaaaches across the table and grabs hold of the silver-haired girl's hands with both of hers. Curse this table for being so wide. "Now hold it right there, Wakatsuki-chan! I know several people that would love to meet you and get to know you right now in this very lodge. You just need to stop shulking around like a reindeer avoiding the sleigh!" Not giving Wakatsuki a chance to respond or even muster resistance, Niramo drags her friend by the hand towards the common room.

Huh. Maybe Mikoto is rubbing off on her?

"We might not have a holiday for months, so let's make a new one, starting tomorrow! One where you meet new friends, give them presents to break the ice, and get to know one another. Let's see-oh!" Maybe there's no holly in the room or mistletoe hanging over a doorway, but not even a dream without Christmas can get rid of the Patron Saint of Presents!...even if Santa was going to school.

"See the girl in the Santa Claus outfit, genius-chan? Go say hello and ask for a present. Don't worry, i'm sure she won't bite!" Putting Wakatsuki in front of her and then shoving her on the shoulders, the silver-haired genius stumbles forward before catching her balance, and giving Santa V an incredulous look before turning to face Niramo again.

"Santa...Claus? What's with the outfit? And why would she have a beard?"

Maybe it's the crazy cosplayer, or how sudden Niramo was trying to cheer her up, but Wakatuski's curiousity was getting the better of her before she could duck back into her shell...

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

Kyouko Mori and Natsuko Koshino are seated together in front of the !yule log, feet on the table, both sketching in their respective sketchbooks. Long-limbed ladies, barely sketched, are adorned with lavishly detailed dresses and hats. These two students are members of the Juuban fashion club, which is even more of an underdog than most Juuban clubs, given the cultural focus of Infinity and Ohtori. They are also, at least outside this dream, Pretty Cure cosplayers. White and Black, respectively.

"Aa, thank goodness!" Nagisa Misumi is standing in front of the table, beaming. "I've been looking all over for you two! I need your help!"

The two girls look at one another, then back at Nagisa. "Why?" Kyouko asks.

"I need you to make me and Honoka Yukishiro costumes! I mean, I would love if... I'd be really grateful if you'd do it!" She claps her hands together and bows her head, eyes squinted closed.

"We're not some kind of charity," Natsuko says sourly. "Is this for a school event?"

Nagisa peeks out of one eye, keeping the other closed. "Not really..."

"Then no. We take commissions, not requests," says Kyouko.

"Please, I just don't have the..." Nagisa blinks both eyes open, standing up straight. "Wait a sec... this is just a dream right? So..." She rummages her pockets. "Here's my whole change purse! You probably don't want this pen... oh, but you can have my necklace! Oh oh, and..." Nagisa fishes a pink and white cell phone out of her pocket.

("cell phone")

Before the mystified cosplayers, Nagisa flicks the case. "Yoo hoo," she prompts. "Wakeup wakeup wakeuup..." The cell phone does nothing, and Nagisa grins a big grinchy grin. "You can have this too!" she crows, and plants it onto the table with the other things.

"Do you think we're yakuza?" Kyouko scolds. "What am I going to do with a cellphone on your mom's plan? Huh? Be reasonable."

"She seems kinda desperate..." Natsuko says quietly. She's the one who wanted to be Cure Black. Perhaps there's something subconscious going on here.

"So what?"

"I'll tell you Precure's real identity!" Nagisa bursts out. The two look up at her in shock.

"I d-don't believe in Precure," Kyouko says.

"Me neither..."

Both designers flinch back into their seats as Nagisa's eyes suddenly become flinty, and her stance powerful. With one fist cocked at her hip, she whips an accusatory finger at them.

"Return to the darkness from which you came!" she demands.

It's quiet.

Kyouko opens her mouth, and closes it.

"Omigod," Natsuko whimpers.


"I'm g-gonna touch your shoulders now," Natsuko says. "If that's okay, I j-just gotta measure... ma'am..."

"I keep saying, it's just 'Nagisa'," Nagisa moans. She has various pieces of brown felt draped on her.

"W-where's Yukishiro-sama?" Kyouko asks plaintively. "I mean... is she coming too? Oh god..."

"She has to get the presents," Nagisa says. "So just do your best?"

Kyouko bristles with alarm. "It won't fit right? Do you know her sizes?"

"That's..." Nagisa glances at herself in the mirror as Natsuko puts a headband on her as though coronating a queen, decorative cardboard antlers sticking out from it. "Which are the best?"

"The best... what?"

"Sizes," Nagisa says, as though it were obvious. "Whichever the best kind is, is the kind she has I bet." She smiles sunnily.

"AAH!" Kyouko cries, pointing at Nagisa as if she just grew a second head. "Precure is femslasMPH--!"

Natsuko smothers Kyouko with a hand over her mouth. "We'll d-do our best with that," she stammers dizzily.


"Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh," Shiho gasps. "She's gone completely bonkers."

"I'll call the nurse," Rina says determinedly, standing up.

"Wait!" Nagisa says, in her full-body felt reindeer outfit. She stretches her antlers wide, blocking the door to the lacrosse team's shared room to prevent Rina's exit. "It's just an idea for a... business! You like that right?"

"What kind of business has you dress up like an elk?" Rina fumes, but Shiho raises her hand.

"I'm listening" she says.

Nagisa bobs her head eagerly, and her friends wince in sympathetic embarrassment as bells jangle with the motion. "It's the perfect job for you. We just need to put on a show. There's an auditorium here right?"

"Tiny," Shiho says acridly.

"Well that's perfect! We'll just fill it with tiny people."

"Oh my god," Rina says, and suddenly Nagisa has to brace her hooves against the doorframe to try and hold her back, as Shiho wrestles her much-taller friend from behind to try and peel her off Nagisa.


The bustle of elementary schoolers is quickly rising to a cacophony as the little theatre fills. Shiho stands on the stage, frowning, tapping a rolled up newspaper against her arm. She's been using it as a megaphone.

"Do you not feel like you're putting on a play starring an insane person?" Rina asks.

"Of course I do," Shiho replies. "Ever heard of The Producers?"


"Never mind. I just think that, good or bad, this is going to be..." Closing her eyes, Shiho swings her paper megaphone across the crowd demonstratively. "Showbiz!"

"Ehhh?!" Ryouta grimaces in disgust, as he and his grubby-handed little friends peek behind them at the two oldest members of the audience. "Who are these weird oneechans watching a kids' show?"

"I'm sorry," Natsuko is babbling to Kyouko. "It's just so beautiful."

"I know, I know," Kyouko says, crying along with her.

The house lights dim under Rina's careful hand, and voices hush. Shiho throws on the floods--the flood anyway, the one flood--and the stage is lit.

Backstage, Nagisa is toying with the face of a well-weathered Ultraman action figure, pushing it back and forth with her thumb.

"You know," she says softly. "I think maybe I'll give this to Ryouta-kun in real life, too."

Looking up, Nagisa smiles at a face with a long white beard of cottonballs. "You ready, Santa?"

And the when the curtain rips open, to blinding light and the surprised squeals of children, a red nose leads the way.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Ali Slaight - Learning to Fly https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWtCLdqf8PE

Mikoto's hand curls against the chill of the window, and that is when she hears the rustling of pages. Her head turns, catlike eyes behind black braids; she wonders if Homura has forgotten, too.

How much has she forgotten..? Has she forgotten the way they worked together in the snow?

It's sad.

It's strange, how she doesn't hear a door opening, even though she can't smell Chie and Aoi any more, but she doesn't think of it for the moment, because now she's worried about Homura.

Mami says she should move closer to the fire, and Mikoto moves to her bundled chair, to lean on the back of it and peer at the book she's reading. "Gone," she says, to Mami, again, and it's even in that same plaintive tone.

And that's when Madoka worms her way between them, and Mikoto leans in against her side, pinned mittens pressing in against her shoulder. "Gone," she echoes, as Madoka tries to reassure them. She remains attached to Madoka's side as she herds them all to the loungechair; Steven tries to protest that he can move in the wake of everyone arriving, but Mikoto is already solving this problem with her typical disregard for personal space.

She just kind of flops down on top of everyone's laps, boots dangling off the edge, head resting by Mami's knee. She reaches back with a hand to grasp at Homura's wrist; all bundled up for winter, those slender fingers are about the only thing uncovered, and they're still a little chilly from the window.

She might feel those fingers tighten, as Mikoto hears someone who is not Steven or Madoka or Mami or Homura or anyone else. "It's not..." real? Maybe she sounds like she's responding to Homura. She isn't.

Mikoto turns her head to look up at Madoka, who said that Christmas was tomorrow.

And then Homura asks, and perhaps it's a mercy that Mami is petting her hair so comfortingly, because it seems like such a sad question to Mikoto.

A sad question which goes unanswered as first Nori starts acting quite strange, only for SANTA V to enter the fray. Mikoto's eyes go wide as saucers, and her hands lift to cover her mouth. She has not lived through a lifetime of Christmas movies and shopping malls; a fuku-clad Santa is as believable to her as an old man.

Mami goes on to explain what Christmas is, a little more, and Mikoto hums consideration.

"I..." At first she is unsure. "I don't really know. I never, um... did this before. But - but --" More insistent with the repetition, she continues: "Mai says it's called 'Christmas'. About - spending time with who's most important. And... there's lots of stuff, like food! And, gifts, and... love, right?!"

Mikoto insists, fiercely now: "I love Mai's ramen! And I love Madoka's tomatos, and Mami's cakes, and Homura's daifuku, and Nori's tempura, and Takeo's bacon, and Steven's ice cream, and Endo's kebabs, and Usagi's parfait, and Fuu's sashimi, and Niramo's chocolate, and Nagisa's takoyaki, and..."

She ticks off each item on her fingers, held up in the air, until she comes to a point where there are too many points and not enough fingers, whereby she curls her fingers into fists, and then finds she has run out of fists. She puffs her cheeks out in frustration, hands coming down again. "... everyone's important!" She says, as if that covers everything she has missed. "And that's Christmas, right?!"

Of course, a few things may have been lost in translation...

... like the fact that Christmas is supposed to be about one specific type of loved one.

But Mikoto seems pretty convinced she's right.

"I wanted to know what it was like... 'cause Tokyo's weird, but it's fun too. Christmas's supposed to be gone now, but... everyone's still here, right?! Everyone's here, so..." There's no need to be cold and alone, right? "... not gone! It's not... and I'm happy."

After all, she's not alone, and she's not cold any more, either. And even though Mikoto knows little of Christmas, she will surely find herself educated by the theatric stylings of Nagisa and company. There is no possible way this avenue of information could possibly go wrong.

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

It takes Endo a second to realize that something is wrong, and when he does he extends a hand out to measure the distance in front of his face. He frowns, shifting back and forth, trying to figure out what's wrong with the world around him.

The voice echoing in his head gives him further pause, and as it fades away he scratches thoughtfully at his chin. "The true meaning of Christmas?" Endo is unsure that he'll be able to puzzle something that profound out on his own, his face soon scrunched up in intense thought.

What's good about Christmas? What does it mean? Does it mean chicken? Dates? Trees? Presents? Lights? Singing?

It's the appearance of SANTA V which helps him crystalize some of those thoughts. When she indicates the group huddle on the couch he considers further, and seems to come to a final conclusion.

"Thanks, Santa V." Endo accepts exactly two cookies, one which he ferries back to his friend at the table. The snack is handed over to Shinji, and then Endo pulls the other boy to his feet. "We don't have a Christmas tree," Endo explains, "But we're going to make one."

"I don't know what--"

"It doesn't matter! We're going to make a tree for everyone. It'll be fun, trust me."

Because Christmas is about doing things for people. And with people. And Endo intends to do both. Shinji is only the first victim, and he'll certainly recruit more on his quest.

And while it may not be impressive as Santa V's offering, Endo's Christmas tree--composed of a broom, a poorly folded origami star, several rolls of toilet paper, paperclips, and glitter--is one hundred percent a decoration that exists and no one can deny this.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Madoka's is a quiet happiness, but it's one that radiates, palpably, from her place near the bottom of the couchpile. There's literal warmth pouring off of her, but it's the ephemeral that's more important. Her soft little smile is more felt than seen. And the very slight tension in her body is more directly felt, too -- the extension of the muscles, the tiny stretch, of someone holding someone else.

She can't squeeze everyone on the couch at once in a huge embrace, but her collective adjacency means that some part of her trembling body is touching them all. Tiny hairs stand on end. She's electric with joy.

That was true before the mysterious voice gave them some direction. After, she grows distant for a few blank moments, faraway with thought.


"Madoka-chan... you're old enough now, that I think you can handle the truth."

She's four or five, dandling on her father's knee, sucking on a loose tooth as she stares up at him curiously.

"...it's time for you to become a Santa."

Her eyebrows shoot towards her hairline.

"Be...become? But..."

Tomohisa leans in conspiratorially.

"You see..."


The many small presents Madoka has secretly prepared for her friends -- every year, she signs them as Santa and refuses to identify herself as the giver -- are nothing but memories in this dreamworld. She's sure they aren't where they ought to be.

But giving is everything. Giving people you care about things that they need. Selflessly, without concern for credit or reciprocity.

That's Christmas...


Madoka's happiness becomes less quiet, in the aftermath of Nori's arrival, of Santa V's dramatic appearance and the existential beauty of Endo's tree. She's buoyed on by Mami's speech and Mikoto's fierce explanation.

Her singing voice lacks proper support, and it's a little too breathy on the high notes and sometimes threatens to drift out of tune.

But it's not afraid -- not even of the obvious, starting to sing out of nowhere in the middle of a group of her peers, starting to sing something that makes no sense, for no reason.

And a small, fearless, joyful noise is heard.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Let your heart be light

From now on your troubles will be out of sight...

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Make the Yuletide gay

From now on your troubles will be miles away...

Here we are as in olden days

Happy golden days of yore

Faithful friends who are dear to us

Gather near to us once more...

Through the years we all will be together

If the fates allow

Hang a shining star upon the highest bough...

So have yourself a merry little Christmas

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Have yourself a merry little Christmas... now...

Madoka gives them all the only thing she has.

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (4)] has posed.

Before the seating issue can be solved, there is a uh. "Is this another Japanese tradition?" he asks. A person dressed up in an admittedly smashing outfit, handing out chicken and other foodstuffs. That chicken did look good though...! Though people start calling a name, which makes the boy's eyes widen, breaking for just a moment his downer attitude. "S-Sailor V?"

She is giving out gifts! How nice of her! And while it is completely out of the blue, it feels... right. Like, giving out gifts right now kinda fit.

"Wh--" is uttered, as folks sit down, though the noise is mostly toward Mikoto, who comes down on all of them, like some kind of cat! "Hahahah, well, that is a way to relax, I guess!" he says, that smile brightening up more. "Christ... mas...?" Steven repeats. It sounded odd, but... correct? Was it because of the name of that person mentioned earlier? "My ice cream? Awww!" he says toward Mikoto. He brightens up more!

"Hey! You look super happy!" Steven says, toward Madoka, who appears to be fit to burst. Having all her friends in front of a warm hearth, close on a special.. day?

And Madoka starts singing. The little boy immediately shuts up to listen to her go. His heart beats harder and harder. There was something to this song. He even begins to hum it with her quietly! Something so wondrous and joyful--

And in that happy little moment, something happens.

At first, it could be mistaken for a cellphone light.

But it is clearly coming from right under Steven's shirt, at navel level.

And it is pink.

Steven's coat pops apart, and his shirt ruffles, exposing a beauteous pink gemstone where one would have a navel. It shines brilliantly, as if excited, as if alive. It reflects the faces of Steven's friends on its factes who look upon it.

And it projects a light. A light of hope, of freedom, of love. And it coalesces into a dome-like shape. Spiral patterns spring forth and accentuate the forming shape. A blossoming symbol graces the center.

And it appears. Slowly rotating in the air. A roesate shield hovers in place, twinkling with all the wonder a little boy could have, given true form. Steven's eyes are about as big as saucers. It is tough to tell if he is not teary-eyed from how wide his eyes are or from excitement and joy. "M-My...M-Mom's..." he stammers. "My Gem thingy! It works! I'm not defective! I-- We did it!" he shouts.

Thoughts return to him. There was a reason for the season!

"It's a Christmas miracle!"

COMBAT: Steven Universe transforms into Steven Quartz Universe!
<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Santa... V? She knows who Sailor V is but... Merry what now? Befuddlement shows loud and clear on Homura Akemi's face, but a certain enthrallment does too. Whoever this Santa V variant is, she sure knows how to put on an amazing, if unusual, show! Kind of fascinating, really, and Homura would work harder at puzzling it out if Madoka's strawberry-sweet twintail wasn't tickling her nose.

It's right around when this bewildering red-capped figure finishes bestowing the greasy goodness of fried chicken and heads her way that the attention-allergic girl realizes her danger...

Far, far too late. Attention is coming right her way.

A deer has a better shot at looking away from headlights than bespectacled wallflower Homura Akemi has of escaping the social force of Santa V's cheer, and anyhow... she's squeeze-cuddled up between Madoka Kaname and Mami Tomoe, and blanketed by the feline sprawl of Mikoto Minagi, thawing inside and out by the second thanks to all that caring and friendliness. It'd be tough to get up right now, and it's not like she wants to move, exactly.

'...snuggle up with someone special to you...'

Oh, no. Well... maybe Homura should roast these chestnuts over her burning cheeks instead.

Still -- Homura keeps getting warmer. She can feel her toes, now, and her fingers fill to their fizzing tips with the burny-tingle of reviving nerves. Mami speaks about this Christmas thing, and Homura hearkens to the golden angel's words. going out anyhow in the snow. It tugs at her, like... maybe there is a reason to go out there, after all, if she could just remember it.

Or new friends...

Mikoto mentions all these delicious foods, and Homura has enough of an inkling of Mikoto now to think that being listed alongside a food is... important, somehow. Daifuku... she remembers handing Mikoto something round and cold, and it's a sweet treat shared with a girl who knows all about kittens -- but then it's also a snowball offered up to a teammate.

Homura looks down at the chestnuts in her hands, and hugs the baggy to her chest. A small, fearless joyful noise warms her Madoka-side ear. She goes very still, and very quiet, and listens with every atom of her being.

The song doesn't remind Homura of Christmases past; her days of yore do not gleam like gold. Christmas present, though... so fresh and precious like perfect falling snowflakes, the memories re-emerge. A snowball fight and Madoka's giggles; a mitten, returned; a walk in the trees with a girl who knows them.

It's merry little Christmases future that Homura wants, now, when she never really did before. She sniffles and lets herself lean against Mami, just a bit, and then lets out a sigh. From this surrounded vantage she watches her newly favorite color burst into joyful being from Steven Universe's stomach -- and heart, really -- and it reflects in her glasses and her eyes. Homura Akemi feels toasty from toes to tip. How pretty, she thinks.

"Um... Merry Christmas," she murmurs.

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> The Nutcracker Suite - Overture -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtOzjI7giJc

Christmas is summoned, and Christmas comes. It arrives in the sparkling eyes of children large and small; whether incredulous or wondrous, it's still there, all the same, unmistakable and jarring. That which cannot exist does anyway; a holiday miracle. But miracles can be destructive, to a thing as fragile as a dream.

There's a wall in the world, and it's starting to become translucent and strange.

Past their friends, past the lodge, everyone can see a most bizarre sight: it's Nagi again, in an all-black Santa Suit, lounging on an enormous pile of presents like a dragon on his horde.


He yowls vaguely, contentedly to himself.

But then the presents start popping out from underneath him like someone tossed a little antimatter in the popcorn maker. Quickly it collapses like a Jenga tower, leaving him bewildered on the cavern floor.


There's a wall in the world, and everyone can see Santa Nagi's disappointment as his fantasy begins to unravel...

But then, there are walls all around, and they're starting to come down.

The humming pink shield in front of Steven spins slowly, almost amiably, for all its awe-inspiring appearance; it is a construct of good cheer, an embodiment of one of the highest principles of Christmas: the safety of loved ones.

And with each weighty rotation, another layer of the dream falls away--

--until they're back in the snowfield... a field of angels.

They must have never even left. They must have just -- fallen asleep.

Nagi isn't there to greet them; the last anyone saw of him, he was plunging his fists into his armpits with an armfold so sharp it could cut off his nose to spite his face (and a pouting lip so wide it might hold the whole ocean).

But there is something else.

A glowing golden lotus with seven petals--

--which unfurls, wider and wider, until a maiden, composed of purest light, finishes stretching her way out, arms spread as though she was in a vast yawn.

There are no more details to be seen -- she is blinding to look upon, a curious contradiction since the hue of her luminescence is a bland dove gray. Colorless.

She exhales.

"...free at last..."