2018-12-18 - TIMELINE 1: Death of a Princess! The Outers' Revenge!
|Death of a Princess! The Outers' Revenge!|
Queen Beryl murders Princess Serenity. The Outer Senshi get revenge for both of her lives and so many others'. Usagi is revived by everyone's feelings.
|OOC - IC Date:|
12/18/2018 - 03-15-14
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ North Pole +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* A constantly shifting and changing wasteland of ice, the North Pole at its very sunniest hovers around freezing point, and in the winter plunges far below it. There is no speck of actual land within 700km of the pole; the North Pole itself consists entirely of ice floating on the surface of the water, though its thickness can lend it considerable stability. Few creatures compete for the scarce resources here; an occasional fox, seal, or polar bear can be found, but for the most part there is nothing but sea water and ice. Even the boundlessly greedy nations of the warm world down south cannot bring themselves to compete too hard over this ice, and they press their claims half-heartedly in occasional diplomatic sparring matches while generally ignoring the area. There are those who believe that this raft of ice is the home of mystical beings such as angels or gods, due to its position on the crown of the earth, however, and they are not entirely wrong. Dark beings have made their home here, undisturbed beneath the ice.
<Pose Tracker> Queen Beryl [None] has posed.
PREVIOUSLY ON BATTLE FANTASIA (title drop, woo!)
<SoundTracker> Pure Heart Crystal -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVKolCf7pzM (sorry season one, season three has way better 'previously on' music for finales)
The magical girls and boys -- calling themselves the Covenant of Style, so dubbed by Mami Tomoe at a sleepover the night before -- combine their powers to execute a mass teleport from Hikawa Shrine to the North Pole. There, their meteorlike crash into the pillar of darkness summoned by Queen Beryl's evil ritual leads to a great clash of powers.
The Covenant is triumphant, but only by the skin of their teeth, shattering her Dark Altar in the very nick of time. After that, they pay the price for their bold gatecrash of the Dark Kingdom's front door: its denizens surround them on all sides, and attack, en masse, while Beryl retreats to regain her composure after the considerable disappointment of not getting to enact her wish-driven revenge against the edicts of the Queen Serenity of old.
"There's so many of them!" complains Sailor Venus, as she snicker-snacks a half dozen with the sacred, cursed blade that is her birthright and physical reminder of her greatest failure.
"Less bitching, more killing," grits Sailor Mars out of the side of her mouth.
"I agree with Venus," says Sailor Mercury. "Regroup... SABAO SPRAY!!"
Mist covers the section of battlefield that the Inners have been handling, and when it clears, the four of them are gone.
But not before making a plan.
"JUPITER STAR POWER!" invokes the eponymous soldier, arctic wind making her brown ponytail sail behind her... before emerald light causes it, for the second time in an hour, to sail upwards.
Far across the cavern, Sailor Mars can be seen taking a meditative lotus position. "MARS STAR POWER!"
"VENUS STAR POWER!" cries their leader, thrusting her sword into the Earth in exactly the same way Gandalf might against a Balrog.
"MERCURY STAR POWER!" agrees their tactician, and with her invocation, she splits her arms off to the sides... and her beam arcs outwards, then connects with Venus and Mars, who then connect with Jupiter.
It's a diamond of light. Beautiful, shimmering veils in four colors, and where they meet, more colors still.
And the next wave of the army crashes against the wall and is repelled. And the next, and the next.
Their eyes closed, the Inner Senshi speak, with one voice, to everyone contained within, just as the last youma inside their safe zone are felled.
<< Protect the Princess. >>
Indeed, Usagi's location is at the exact center of their diamond.
Because they know their enemy.
And her own veils cannot withstand the light of their truth.
Queen Beryl, First of her Name, smiles as emerges from the shadows, claws outstretched.
At least in a technical sense.
Her lips part, revealing fangy incisors. Her cheekbones lift, and her eyes glitter with something so much less and so much more than any gold, even that of her lost, betrayed Kingdom.
Merely imagining her cruel delighth is no longer necessary.
But 'delight,' like 'smile,' suits her experience just as well as the school graduation song sung just a little off-key. It sits only with dissonance.
"How foolish," she purrs, "To lock helpless little princess Serenity in with me..."
Four pairs of eyes open.
<< You've got it backwards, you witch. >>
<< We've locked you in with her. >>
<< With all of them. >>
<< And I think two in particular have a real beef. >>
TO BE CONTINUED... NOW
COMBAT: Queen Beryl transforms into Queen Beryl!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Moon [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.
"...sugoi." Sailor Moon breathes at the same moment as Madoka's 'wow.' as the Silver-Pink explosion of their friendship detonates into the army. As her eye looks inward at her archer sister. There's a little smile as she says, "And maybe you're right." Sailor Moon puts a hand to her shoulder, before moving out in front of her to face her for just a moment, "But only because someone helped me figure that out."
Her tiara comes speeding back, and Sailor Moon's hand suddenly lifts up, and snatches it out of mid-air without even looking. There's a light giggle at that, before she waves, "Now let's go catch up-! Sailor Neptune is calling!"
Jogging forward in the advance as the Youma army dies, the four Inner Senshi call upon their power in a way that perhaps Sailor Moon didn't expect. Calling upon a diamond of light. A perfect barrier, to ward her from the enemy.
And trap her inside with their ancient foe.
Protect the Princess.
It's such a chilling reminder of how in the past, they did. And she failed their sacrifice anyhow. It's such a chilling reminder of how others might die in her name before this is over.
For not too long, Sailor Moon stands frozen, as she listens to the back and forth between the Inner Senshi. Can hear their faith in her.
"Don't worry minna..." She whispers to the air, as if these feelings could reach them, "...we'll all be enjoying parfaits at the crown together soon enough."
Sailor Moon take a step forward, then another, in a slow advance towards the others. And then she stops, facing the Queen of the Dark Kingdom, her heart beating so fast, as if she were trying to keep her grip on ancient trauma.
"Queen Beryl. A long time ago you brought an end to the Moon Kingdom. You're right that back then I was a helpless Princess who could only watch as others died to protect me. Now though, I'm a proud Sailor Senshi."
Her jaw was tight before, but now something in it is relaxed, "I don't come before you today out of duty as a Sailor Senshi though, or the Moon Princess, here to avenge what happened to the Moon Kingdom. This isn't between just you and me. These Magical Girls all have their own reasons to protect what they hold dear, and for that they have fought for it..."
Her eyes fall upon Neptune and Uranus. Perhaps they might disagree on the lack of vengeance part, but she still counts them as part of them.
"...have bled for it..."
Her eyes look upon Madoka Kaname in this moment.
"...and wept for it..."
Mami Tomoe now.
"This isn't about some ancient grudge anymore, but the people who have united to protect the precious things and people you're threatening now. Today you face the Covenant of Style."
There's something different in her pose, as if it's encompassing a great many, all of them here for their own myriad of reasons, to protect their homes, or families, or simply because they don't want the world they know to end. It is only now that she points at Queen Beryl with a fierce pose, as if inviting others to join her in either calling her out - or in the attack, "And in the Name of Style - We'll punish you!"
COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used In The Name Of The Moon on Queen Beryl. COMBAT: Queen Beryl counters 0 Fatigue damage from Sailor Moon's In The Name Of The Moon, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Sailor Moon is Psyched! Queen Beryl's Reverse and Tactician abilities activate! Diversion applied to Queen Beryl! COMBAT: Queen Beryl's counterattack, Blood Moon Eclipse, partially gets through, doing 49 Fatigue damage to Sailor Moon! Critical Counterhit!
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (4)] has posed. <SoundTracker> Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagan - Sorairo Days https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EXFilTUiko
In the middle of it all, the carnage, the darkness closing in. a group of voices ring out. As two four colors, which bleed into one. Pure white. It coats everyone and everything like powdery snow. TO the Covenant of Style, it is reassuring. TO Beryl's forces, it is anathema. They shrink, the burn, they are banished. It takes little time for the field to be cleave of the army. But oh, the darkness yet remains.
In a single individual, who makes herself known. "Princess...?" Steven says quietly. So what he has just learned, is not only is the super cool Sailor Moon amazing and a warrior of hope and justice, but is damn royalty too?!
So damn cool. But that also means she needs to be protected! And Beryl knows it. She practically seethes toward her. But the Senshi are there to reprimand immediately, as is Moon herself. "Y-Yeah!" Steven pipes up with, clutching his shield close, pointing a little stout finger and what is possibly one of the msot powerful individuals known far and wide. But he isn't scared. He has all his friends here with him, standing side by side.
And while fear may be creeping within him just from seeing this Dark Queen, it finds no purchase. "We won't let you take our homes and loved ones without a fight!"
A breath and a fist held high. His heart practically sings.
"Because we're the Covenant of Style! We'll always save the day! And if you think we can't, we'll always find a way!"
A look to his left, a nice fellow with a cool armor and greatsword. One met a few times in the forays these past months. "Endo!" A look to his right. A young man isstriking armor, wielding a righteous longsword for the sake of good. "Lancelot!"
The boy detaches his shield into his palm, gripped by its side. "We can't let the ladies have all the fun! Let's show this evil lady what we can do, too! LET'S GET HER!" And with the most powerful pitch he can imagine, throws his shield with everything he has as an opening for his amigos!
COMBAT: Steven Universe has started a combo targeting Queen Beryl!
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
"Miko-chan!" Calls out one Kasagami Araki, drawn to her dear friend like a moth to a similarly-sword-wielding lamp. Her motions are done without any sort of hesitation. The tip of her sword cuts through two more youma bent on carving out her calves and dragging her into short-tipped hell, but the solid back of the shorter girl Mikoto and the attendant blade Miroku are heavenly things to the Duelist.
And so she aims to slam herself into Mikoto's back hard. She only pulls back enough to compensate for their difference in height, even if weight if a mercurial thing among both magical girls and a far thinner blade versus Mikoto's wider greatsword.
That nodachi, gleaming gold and crimson, is held up in one hand even as her other hand reaches to swat Mikoto in the side. The pair are back-to-back, and the little nudge ends as she grips her blade. The tide that thought to devour her have been cut to the point where she's safe.
There's almost an audible twitch as Kasagami's brow rises, her sword arm climbs just a bit higher, and the beautiful, amazing Sailor Neptune calls out her blind spot as though it's as plain as day. The Girl Who Would Be King's pride is, even here, an ever-driving force. And so that blade lashes out one last time, cleaving the darkness with an eye widening even as she leans to look painfully.
Kasagami's panting breaths might mean something, after that exchange.
Kassie, even as she fends off enemies back-to-back with her fellow sword wielder, turns her gaze to the Inner Senshi as they combine their strength, their combined attack breathtaking even as it raises the heart. Sailor Moon, too, speaks to their reasons.
Her friends, the surrogate family she's found, the chance of this woman and her Dark Kingdom spreading the Duelist's own pain to many, many, many more young girls? The thought makes her heart ache, and her blade once shaking slightly, stills.
With the youma army locked out thanks to the barrier, Kasagami's gaze settles fully on Queen Beryl. "You are a mockery of everything that makes up a true and just monarch! I, Kasagami Araki, Who Shall Become King, won't allow you to harm the precious people I've come to love!" Offers Kassie, before she charges Beryl!
Not straight on, she's not a fool, boots propelling her into a zig-zagging blurr of rose petals, fluttering perfect locks, and the edge of her long blade offering quick cuts to the arms, legs, knees of her adversary as she aims to get closer. She has no doubt her opponent is strong, and so she remains constantly on the move in her spinning, almost ballroom-dance like motions.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Rose on the Wind on Queen Beryl.
<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
There have been so many. Mami Tomoe blazes with magic in her effort to carve a path back towards friends, to defend as best she can against a veritable army of darkness, a golden light in the sea of shadows. But they have beaten back enough to see the light of each other again, and Mami turns, looks to the coming wave--and hears the voices of four girls. Four girls, who bring brilliant light to bear. They have the space that she and others had been fighting so hard to gain, and more. Mami watches the barrier repel the armies, looks through the light towards each of them; Sailor Venus, an old rival, now a friend again. Sailors Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, who Mami had the chance to watch come into their power, who dazzled her with what they showed was within them.
The Puella Magi's gaze turns upon Usagi, and she hears the voice that speaks to them through their hearts. 'Protect the Princess,' they say.
"Always," Mami vows in return, certainty in her voice, the weight of it heavy on her words as she turns the rest of the way, and sees the great and terrible Queen before them all. Gold is something Mami knows well; there was something familiar in the eyes she saw in the mirror, but something so, so awful and different as well. She says foolish...
"Thank you," Mami says to those outside first, and then begins to step forward. The brilliant surge of light that has suffused her begins to abate; in moments she is one of the others as before, her empty hands at her sides first. When Sailor Moon looks at her, Mami comes to a stop at her flank, willing to move close because they will do this together. But she waits to speak. The gravity of an ancient Queen and a young Princess demands it... and the things she fights for are not things she will rush. So light shines at her hands, and she holds fistfuls of ribbons that spill out towards the ground where she stands.
"...Once, this world was yours," Mami says to Queen Beryl, widening her stance, lifting her chin. "But you chose otherwise. You abdicated your responsibility, brought ruin to those depending on you, let greed overcome whatever nobility you may have had. All this happened long, long before I can even imagine..."
"But I don't have to imagine the world you want to destroy. The thousand little stories in every face, the way each person can keep going, the that girls who know a monster was near them just don't have to think about it. Alone, I can only protect so much..."
"But I'm not. And for that world..." Mami looks to Sailor Moon for an instant, "For the Princess who brought my heart back to me." She does not turn from Beryl yet. "For everyone here."
"We will topple your throne!" Mami lifts her arms and casts out her ribbons, both growing and growing towards the top of the barrier, towards the great roof of this gigantic cavern, and she looks to Madoka Kaname--and smiles once, full of brightness, almost joy despite the awful place and their terrible foe. Because she told her once...
The first two ribbons attach to the roof of the cavern, billowing like festival streamers writ large, and Mami takes off at a sprint--not at Beryl, but to the side. "Madoka-chan!" she calls, and she says I trust you, I'm in your hands as she throws another, and another, and another before she leaps up to take hold of one of the golden bands, taking hold and swinging circular as she adds another, and another, each moving with life of their own and reflecting the light of the brilliant barrier. "Hup--" She swings through the air, and her ribbons begin as one, like dancers, to dive downward, to try to encircle, to bind Queen Beryl herself, directed by one graceful hand through the air.
She calls, "Our grandest performance yet! TIRO...!"
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe transforms into Puella Mami! COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has started a combo targeting Queen Beryl!
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
Arondight practically drips lightning, which is actually a pretty cool effect all things considered. The Lightning Knight, Chevalier Lancelot rushes and leaps over a snow drift avoiding an attack that obliterates said snow drift. He slides to a halt and is about to launch an attack at the incoming wave of yet MORE Yoama when the force field goes up. He blinks. "Well. That's handy .... "
Protect the Princess
He nods once. Serenity. Or in this case, Sailor Moon. He grips his blade in both hands and eyes Beryl squaring his shoulders, and hears Steven cry out; "LET'S GET HER!" To which his eyes snap to Endo locking onto the other boy before he gives a little smirk with a nod that silently says: "Let's do this.". He grips Arondight tight and begins to summon his power to him.
Like a rocket he takes off behind Steven. When Steven throws his shield, Lancelot breaks left and then really pours on the speed, he rushes up a glacier and leaps at Beryl, twirling Arondight as he goes, creating a sort of carona of lightning and power in mid air that trails in his wake sparkling and crackling in the air. At the apex of this jump he descends toward Beryl and cries, "LIGHTNING SLASH!" bringing the shining and impossibly white blade of Arondight, the Demon's Bane around with as much force as he can. Lighting exploding with the strike witha crash fo thunder that sends snow exploding outward from the blast wave.
Protect the Princess.
He feels like he's failed at a lot, but he WILL succede here. He hits the ground and rolls intoa crouch, one hand lancing out to stabalize himself the other holding Arondight out to the side perfectly horizontal to the ground. "Come on ya evil witch! Let's see how you handle a Knight of the Round Table!" He calls to Beryl, lightning already begining to crackle along his blade again.
COMBAT: Lancelot has joined the combo started by Steven Universe!
<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.
Madoka blazes -- with pride in her friends. With awe, too.
But it's the girls around her, and their conviction, their strength that moves her, far more than their pyrotechnics. She is awed because her friends are awesome.
And she has yet to stop smiling.
She leaves Usagi's side at Mami's call, after giving Sailor Moon her own signature pose, victory-V around her right eye.
And she takes her place in the air, swinging from her konbi partner's glorious ribbons like she's Tarzan and May has come to the North Pole. She snatches Mami out of the air at points, and their hands are so warm, clasped together in midair, before hurling her to another angle, and when her arms are free, she fires arrow after arrow...
...not into the far ends of the ribbons, where they reach out to entangle Beryl...
...but to the near ones, to anchor them against the icy ground.
Closer and closer they march, until the dark Queen is at the heart of a golden spider's web.
Where roses of energy bloom at every intersection. More -- and more -- and more brightly...
"...DUETTO!" Madoka shouts, on cue, landing next to Mami on the far side of the cavern, and accepting her cup of tea as the explosion goes off behind them.
COMBAT: Madoka Kaname has joined the combo started by Mami Tomoe! COMBAT: COMBO! Mami Tomoe and Madoka Kaname have used Tiro Duet on Queen Beryl.
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.
The Wind Knight doesn't let herself pause, even as she works on catching her breath; with the tide of youma abruptly stemmed by the four Sailor Senshi, she's sorely tempted to stop and lean on her sword or something - but no. The greatest threat, the true threat, has emerged once more, and the Magic Knight of Wind knows without asking that the old rule about 'never show weakness to a predator' applies in spades.
So she stands upright, holding her sword by her side in her right hand, her left hand freed to raise before her. "You do realize, Beryl-san," she calls out, "that the old stereotype about 'helpless princesses' has been outdated for at least ten or twenty years now, don't you?"
Some of her allies are already moving into melee range; the Wind Knight focuses past them, over them, and weaves her spell. "Winds of Admonishment!" she calls out, trying to capture Queen Beryl with a whirlwind of her own ...
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Admonishment on Queen Beryl.
<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.
"Star power!" Endo says, in awe of the display of power and color that the four Sailor Senshi bring into existence.
His spirit only lifts further at Sailor Moon-Princess Serenity's--proclamation, at the pose she strikes and the conviction she displays against the otherworldly power of the enemy before them. He doesn't pose nearly as well as some of the more esteemed members of the Covenent, but he can at least point. And he does, right at Baryl.
"Sailor Moon is right! This world is for us, not you!"
And when Steven calls for aid, he gives it. There's a short raise of his hand in acknowledgement, a sharp nod, and then he charges forward no caution, but plenty on conviction. Ugly purple energy pulses from the roughly cut stone set in the crossguard and triangular, Belkan symbols whirl to life as magic takes him forward faster than his feet possible could.
He streaks to the right, off the side while Steven's shield goes center and Lancelot goes left. He trusts them to strike true-he trusts all of them, every person here, to strike as true as each of their hearts are ringing. As true as the rainbow wall that burns around them. He's sure that they will.
He does is best to match. Fallen Stern falls, a great and sweeping arc that cuts low and deep.
COMBAT: Endo Naoki has joined the combo started by Steven Universe! COMBAT: COMBO! Steven Universe, Lancelot, and Endo Naoki have used Combo: The Boys Are Back In Town!, composed of Throw Shield, Lightning Slash, and Meteor Absturz, on Queen Beryl. COMBAT: Queen Beryl fails to dodge Steven Universe, Lancelot, and Endo Naoki's Combo: The Boys Are Back In Town!, taking 121 Fatigue damage! Steven Universe, Lancelot, and Endo Naoki are Psyched! COMBAT: Queen Beryl braces 12 Fatigue damage from Fuu Hououji's Winds of Admonishment, taking 5 Fatigue damage! Fuu Hououji is Psyched! Queen Beryl's Block and Parry abilities activate! Cripple and Trap applied to Queen Beryl! COMBAT: Queen Beryl fails to dodge Kasagami Araki's Rose on the Wind, taking 12 Fatigue damage! Kasagami Araki is Psyched! COMBAT: Queen Beryl braces 58 Fatigue damage from Mami Tomoe and Madoka Kaname's Combo: Tiro Duet, taking 25 Fatigue damage! Mami Tomoe and Madoka Kaname are Psyched! Queen Beryl's Block and Parry abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Queen Beryl [None] has posed.
Queen Beryl waits out Sailor Moon's speech with an increasingly bored expression, and then extends a single hand. Something blindingly fast passes from her, towards her ancient rival.
"So much for the power of style," she remarks, coolly. "Now you will face mine."
And so they do. Perhaps the scariest thing to happen is the part where Steven, Endo and Takeo's plan goes off perfectly -- they land huge hits on her flanks while she's facing the way the shield came from -- and she laughs, wildly, as her luminous skin does little more than raise sparks -- or maybe it's the force field she has in front of it -- either way, she thrusts her arms out through her now-torn sleeves to blast them and Kasagami away from point blank with sickly green flames that are just a little bluer than they would be normally from the sheer heat involved.
Spinning, she spirals her flamethrower, destroying Fuu's whirlwind with a clever application of temperature, then simply teleports out of the path of the gold-and-pink explosion by clapping her flaming hands together above her head, creating a final greenish detonation of her own.
She reappears in front of Sailor Moon.
Sailor Moon, who has a javelin-sized shard of ice protruding from her chest -- directly under the clasp of her bow.
"'Punish'... a child's word for what happens to wrongdoers, as though I might sit in a corner or be denied dessert. You don't want to punish me, Serenity. You want to tear me down -- do to me what I did to you. In the end, we're two sides of the same coin and always have been. You claim not to desire power... but you've always defended it, if not -- quite -- to the death." A sneer for a memory of a Princess and a sword.
Her voice is smoky, toxic, resonant with power far beyond mere verbiage. It infects, confuses, lulls. It is more dangerous than any lightning bolt or crystal dagger.
"For my love, I did the same. And look at us now!"
A vision swirls through the air, ice and darkness and malice manifesting illusion. Queen Usagi, wonderful and terrible, the light of her Crystal lancing forth with no mercy and no regrets.
This morning, Beryl inhabited the reflections of everyone on the planet. This is like that, but even more twisted -- for this white-clad visage of power and authority looks exactly like Sailor Moon, with her own eyes and her own voice. It is the expression on the Queen's face that is identical to Beryl's own -- hatred, rage and isolation war for space in the corners of her mouth, the shadows of her gaze.
"If you want to defeat me, you'll have to destroy me -- and become me. This is the inescapable destiny of your life. But never fear, child."
She grasps the end of her killer icicle like it were a sword in the stone. Steam rises off of it from the heat of her fingers. Or perhaps it's the terrible, supernatural cold of her weapon that makes the difference.
"I'll save you from that fate."
And she twists --
-- and she laughs --
-- and laughs, and laughs --
-- as crimson crystals pour across her hands.
Across her dress.
Across the ground.
COMBAT: Queen Beryl has used Emanation of Aurora on Endo Naoki. COMBAT: Queen Beryl has used Emanation of Aurora on Fuu Hououji. COMBAT: Queen Beryl has used Emanation of Aurora on Madoka Kaname. COMBAT: Queen Beryl has used Emanation of Aurora on Lancelot. COMBAT: Queen Beryl has used Emanation of Aurora on Mami Tomoe. COMBAT: Queen Beryl has used Emanation of Aurora on Kasagami Araki. COMBAT: Queen Beryl has used Emanation of Aurora on Steven Universe. COMBAT: Queen Beryl has used Experience Punishment on Sailor Moon. COMBAT: Fuu Hououji dodges 21 Fatigue damage from Queen Beryl's Emanation of Aurora, taking 31 Fatigue damage! Fuu Hououji is Quipped! Fuu Hououji's Fade and Flash abilities activate! COMBAT: Kasagami Araki neatly dodges 36 Fatigue damage from Queen Beryl's Emanation of Aurora, taking 9 Fatigue damage! Kasagami Araki is Quipped! Kasagami Araki's Fade and Flash abilities activate! COMBAT: Mami Tomoe dodges 29 Fatigue damage from Queen Beryl's Emanation of Aurora, taking 44 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Mami Tomoe is Quipped! Mami Tomoe's Fade and Flash abilities activate! COMBAT: Lancelot partially dodges 10 Fatigue damage from Queen Beryl's Emanation of Aurora, taking 39 Fatigue damage! Lancelot is Quipped! COMBAT: Sailor Moon fails to counter Queen Beryl's Experience Punishment, taking 75 Fatigue damage! Critical Hit! Sailor Moon is unable to keep fighting! COMBAT: Sailor Moon's counterattack, Innocence, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Queen Beryl! COMBAT: Steven Universe perfectly dodges 51 Fatigue damage from Queen Beryl's Emanation of Aurora, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Critical Dodge! COMBAT: Endo Naoki cleanly braces 34 Fatigue damage from Queen Beryl's Emanation of Aurora, taking 6 Fatigue damage! Endo Naoki is Quipped! Endo Naoki's Block and Parry abilities activate! COMBAT: Madoka Kaname dodges 32 Fatigue damage from Queen Beryl's Emanation of Aurora, taking 21 Fatigue damage! Madoka Kaname is Quipped! Madoka Kaname's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Moon [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed. <Soundtracker> Princess Melodies - BSSM OST - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wR3sXwPlfic
One moment she's as poised as any of them and ready for the battle of her life. Ready to join Madoka or Mami. Or to attempt to back up the elegant duo of Uranus and Neptune. To be seen amongst the ranks of Magic Knights, Knights, Duelist, and Mages, to assist a future Crystal Gem.
Within Sailor Moon's big blue eyes, her pupils dilate. Her skin goes from pink, to pale, to ghost white within seconds. Her hands start to shake, as if they want to do something, want to remove the ice from her chest, yet are too grave-chilled perhaps to do anything but move in rictus tremors.
And then Queen Beryl is even closer within her vision. That voice seems to penetrate down to her soul, just as the icicle has her body. The girl looks at her murderer.
Once upon a time Queen Beryl told her that Innocence was the kindest word ever coined for the dull stupidity of a farm animal. As her blurring vision look upon Queen Beryl, there's a primal sort of fear, the kind she enjoyed seeing within Serenity's eyes in a past life.
It is the ideal emotion she coveted. All the same, there is still that bovine look of something else, denial perhaps, even now that this hatred is necessary, "I wish... things had been different..."
It's not clear perhaps what Moon is saying first, whether it was a wish that this moment wasn't happening. A wish that she was elsewhere enjoying her time with friends. A wish for a better, kinder world.
"... between you and I..."
Queen Beryl twists. There's surprisingly little pain. All the same her body spasms within the throes of the dark power. Despite the words 'I wish' nothing changes in these moments. There is no silver radiation of a miracle that denies this moment.
For those words held not the force of a wish upon the Ginzuishou, it is simply the small regret of a dying girl. With death so close, it's like the feelings of both her ancient past and present are blending together as she faces down the woman who was responsible for her end both times.
With darkness closing in on her, her legs give out, and she falls. The Moon Stick bearing the Ginzuishou making a soft crunch in the snow a half second before the rest of her follows.
Her last mortal thought perhaps is being glad that this time that the Inner Senshi were still alive, had not perished protecting her. That they can still have their happiness as normal girls, kiss their first loves.
If only they survive this.
There's a subtle further dilation of her eyes as they go blank, the ribbons of her henshin unravelling to leave a girl from Juuban middle school laying in the snow, in her uniform, a rush of arctic wind dotting her body with flecks of snow.
Her friends, and there are a great many here, will recognize her as Usagi Tsukino, a second year middle schooler who is - was a little clumsy, and a bit of a crybaby.
You may have caught sight of her running to school every so often with a half-eaten toast within her lips, or at the Crown, whining about a game being too hard. Maybe if you're a Juuban student you've seen her napping on her desk, or standing in the hall.
... or maybe, you had an unearned reputation as a delinquent and she reached out to you at lunch. Perhaps everyone kept you at arm's length for having strange powers and she was excited just to talk to you. Maybe your past life memories made you feel so alone, and she worshipped you, or your genius made people think you're cold and distant, but she saw something different than everyone else-!
Even if you got to know her as the Pretty Guardian of Love and Justice, Sailor Moon, almost all semblance of why she meant something to anyone can be traced back to Usagi Tsukino, the normal girl.
All that made her that girl has left her, leaving just a husk of a normal girl laying in the snow.
The Ancient Hatred of Queen Beryl had even denied the illusion that she is napping, that some chicken clock that is destined to be silenced by her hand or the right stimulus of touch will awaken her.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon transforms into Usagi Tsukino!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Uranus [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed. <SoundTracker> I Made a Promise to the Moon - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81sSeQbacls
"Almost," Sailor Uranus informs her partner. The littered trail of bodies they left in their wake has not dissuaded a few youma from pursuing, and Uranus is relying on Neptune to deal with them for now. She is concentrating, her hands spread wide around a churning razorblade of wind that is wrapped around the base of an ice spire. Under the constant friction, the base narrows and narrows, until finally the wind pops through and severs it entirely.
Uranus has turned the churning wind into the rough shape of a globe, and the water that melted from the ice-stalagmite is gathered in it. Turning around, palms held out to balance it, she tosses it like an oversized beach ball to Neptune. Striding past her, Uranus pauses, and looks to her face for a moment, eyes distraught. Neptune knows this posture--she's about to get kissed on the mouth. But after a moment, Uranus turns away, with only a brief reminder: "Even if it gets both of us."
For all her caddish ways and passion, Uranus always was too much the soldier in the end.
A rime-coated stone dais, coated in occasional chunks of rune-inscribed rubble from the former altar, is the platform from which Beryl's lofty rhetoric descends to peasant ears. As the Covenant of Style engages Beryl directly, Sailor Uranus waits until Beryl is definitively looking at one of them, then bounds behind it. Carefully, step by step, she ascends stealthily. She hears Sailor Moon cry out in pain as her mercy is met only with cruelty, but she forces herself to stay slow. This only has to be done once, but it must be done right.
The violin-like back of the dark queen is before her, all purple gown and crimson hair and long wicked nails. Uranus speeds her steps as she approaches. Ideally she can do it alone, in a way no Inner Senshi would dream of. Twist the Dark Queen's head like a bottlecap. Five steps away, three... Beryl's burning up wind from a Magic Knight. Two, one...
Uranus's hands swipe through empty air.
Hawk-blue eyes dart around, seeking the distinctive red hair of Beryl. And what she finds instead are two skinny, dangling blonde twintails. A tiny body transfixed right through, sinking onto a blade. As her weight slowly settles back onto her thighs, Uranus's lips part tremulously.
"MMMMHHIIK!" Uranus clamps both hands over her mouth and smothers down her own desperate shriek. Her chest heaves with agony. Her soul stretches and stretches to reach all the way across the room to her dying princess and somewhere in there it just rips. Her hands drop limply from her now-slack mouth, and Uranus drops her weight onto her calves.
Like the Sailor Senshi, Queen Beryl had been incarnated once more, after many lifetimes waiting in the wings. And like them she has been searching, battling, striving. But only now, with Sailor Moon dying before her, does she truly feel alive.
The mad mirth and screeching grief has left her now, and what it leaves behind is what Beryl is made out of: feverish ambition. The jealousy, the sadism, all leak from a hole in her heart punctured by the unmitigated certainty that there is something above her that she needs.
"Little Covenant." The Dark Queen calls past the girl's petty distaff Shitennou as if they were not there. "Do you see me?"
"Long have I waited," Beryl purrs, "for you to understand all over again. To see my power, as it tears down your castles. To see my hands, drenched in the blood of those you love." Her eyes pass meaningfully across Madoka Kaname, in particular, and when Sailor Moon falls, when she dies, she laughs richly.
"Oh, is that all? Please, become Princess Serenity again. Play dress-up in the silver dress and false piety of a dead girl you never lived up to. Don't you wish to wear your best for my coronation?"
Whisper-quiet, Sailor Uranus throws herself forward again, with all her speed. If her eyes have water in them she can blink. If her gut feels cold and hollow, it is not going to affect her diaphragm. If she feels numb to hope and fear alike then perhaps it is for the best. She will function. She will fight.
The air itself conspires with Uranus, so that as she takes the dais steps down three at a time, her boots land but softly. She covers the snowy ground at pace. Sprinting the last length, she hastily moves her foot so she doesn't step on a bit of altar rubble, and that footfall makes a sharp, distinct sound. Beryl does not react. Accelerating into her last few steps, Uranus fires off the ground like an arrow, body extending into a boneshattering kick. Not at the shounders, nor even the spine. The back of the neck, with all the violence in her body.
Beryl whirls upon her with palms full of flaming shadow and disgorges them howling trough the air, all in one motion. Uranus rapidly tries to cancel her leap, legs dropping, and her hands make quick motions. "WORLD SHA--!" she roars, but Beryl's blast rips right through the nascent yellow globe. It disperses in a smokey cloud of gold sparks, and the bellowing dark smashes into Uranus's chest, driving her downwards into the ground. Beryl advances after her own still-roaring palm, scrubbing Uranus back along the ground.
"Oh," she says lightly. "This one decided to show up this time around."
Uranus drags her knees into the scalding blast and lets it force them under her, flipping her onto her stomach. She crawls into it, up it, through it, with just a forearm as shield. Rage twists her face hideously as she forces herself to her feet, but her glove is already tearing away. It won't be long until she too is incinerated, the way Sailor Moon might a youma. But she places a foot in front of the other. Weakly, she grabs Beryl's wrist.
Smugly bored, the blood on her forearms staining Uranus's hand, Beryl doubles the blaze.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Neptune [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.
The name rings out along the crystal hallways of this darkling citadel and Sailor Neptune hears it many times. The Covenant of Style. It is somehow an encouragement, though, she wonders: Are they doing what I do when I make such jokes? Do they laugh, to keep themselves afloat? Perhaps they are not so dissimilar after all.
"Mm," Neptune answers her partner, sweeping a hand above her face, shifting back a stray lock of aquamarine. She takes a half step back, and her eyes trace up towards the spire that is at present only still vertically aligned out of common courtesy. The travails of the Sailor Soldiers and their friends, for now, are forgotten for the most part.
Then she catches that sphere of wind, and a moment later the world leaves the area entirely. Sailor Neptune gazes slightly up, slightly close, at her partner. Her lips part as those stormy eyes return her gaze. She lets her mouth open just a bit more -
Uranus turns away.
Neptune takes in a deep breath.
What to say? There are pages, volumes, entire encyclopedias that Sailor Neptune could write. Distant memories forming into childish dreams forming into young longings beneath a horrid shadow. They have brought her here, to a place she has seen only sparsely when she dreams. They have brought Uranus here. And most of what Sailor Neptune has seen, past here - though it *is* past here - is bleak.
Bleak, and without the clear presence of a certain driving light.
And yet, what could be more important than the reason why they are here in the first place. "Understood," she tells Uranus. The spire falls - she raises up the sphere of water, catches it. In the distant corner of eyes focused on the torment of that girl, on the Princess, it would look like she is struggling to survive, and in a way, Sailor Neptune thinks, that's quite the case.
"I won't hesitate," Neptune tells Uranus.
And then she focuses. She sinks back then as if being overborne by the ice spire but it is, of course, deceit. She shifts her grip and sinks down lower, as if to kneel before the heavens or to the princess. The ice spire tilts forwards. Its far end smashes the floor of this horrid place and it shatters, but it is the nearer place that matters, for the great spire of ice rebounds from its floor strike... balances...
"What a clever idea you've had," Sailor Neptune says. Her posture suggests she is addressing the Queen, though perhaps she only speaks loud enough to be heard.
The water between her hands ripples. The ice spire moves forwards... the wind rises behind it, pushing the great mass as it pivots just a fraction more, Sailor Neptune's head leaning forwards. Her voice was light now, but her expression now is one of corpse-eyed intensity and utter, pinpoint focus on her action. Draw something so huge forwards, but, Sailor Neptune tells herself as droplets of sweat bead on the back of her neck and flash into tiny points of ice, what is ice itself but water that has forgotten how to flow -
As the great object moves, Sailor Neptune says once more, "All these clever ideas. That was your stock in trade, wasn't it? But you've forgotten the cleverest idea that you ever had: finishing everything before the watchers at the frontiers could act. But it's as the child says - this world is for them," not us? "not for YOU!"
Everything is burning up in front of her eyes, everything precious is laying out there splayed and destroyed, but the dart is moving and it is moving fast and Sailor Neptune tells herself that if she pushes hard enough, then it will be enough, then she can be mended, that something can be found - if not for them, then for these children -
"For a new age," Sailor Neptune says, tasting ashes in her mouth, "BEGONE!"
And that spire, that dart, that piece of near-geologic landscape slides itself to the very end of where Sailor Neptune can touch it, and the glittering aqua underlayering along the vast piece of ancient water, frozen from the sea and the snow - SPARKLES. And the entire thing hurls itself forwards with incomprehensible speed, like the shinkansen was screaming through the countryside.
It is said by many witches that what you do should come back to you threefold. Sailor Neptune drinks that cup with gusto as she stares ahead, her eyes turning, now that the missile is hurled, away from Beryl. Past her. Please, she thinks as she lands on her hands. Please, she thinks. One little miracle.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Neptune [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.
And as for that queen herself?
Her head turns for a moment. The sight is surreal enough that Beryl has to take a split-second to process it -- and that is the little miracle, for when she turns her attention from the Sailor of the Sky, her fire roaring forwards, it comes too little too late. The titanic flame surges outwards, hot and uncanny, and the ice hits it. The room fills, improbably, with hot waves of steam, *but there isn't enough fire* with the momentum behind the great thing.
"Uranus!" Neptune cries, as if she was struck.
Beryl jerks in place, restrained by Sailor Uranus's grip, weak though it might be. Enough that the huge spire, reduced as it was, is still enough to rip through her side. Her eyes widen in incomprehension as she staggers, fire dissipating in a crazyquilt of shimmering will-o-the-wisps as she looks at her hands, at the woman burned before her. She tries to reach for her neck, as if to grasp for some charm, but her hands won't work. They don't move.
"You," Beryl rasps. It is a wet noise. Her head turns back towards Sailor Neptune, who hasn't risen yet.
Neptune feels the wetness on her cheeks. "There is more in this world than your dark schemes encompass, you miserable woman! Now be silent and die like a sorceress; haven't you done enough?" Neptune pushes herself up to her knees if not her feet, lips pulling back as her own voice raises. Perhaps Beryl was not entirely wrong.
"The vow is fulfilled! Be silent! Go into the void, with everything else you've destroyed! I only wish you would suffer more for it!"
Reeling, Beryl has no immediate reply. She looks first towards the fallen princess, then to the others. Towards the wielders of Device. Towards the Crystal Gem. The Puella Magi. The Knight of the Round Table and the Magic Knight alike. Beryl's body begins shaking as she husks out, "no" and then turns her gaze towards the heaven.
She reaches upwards... As if towards the heavens themselves...
But all that there is is the crescent moon, cold and distant and barren. With her works in her eyes, Beryl crumples downwards, body swiftly rotting like a time-lapsed orange.
<Pose Tracker> Queen Beryl [None] has posed.
There was a terrible, awful kindness in the fact that, holding the line at their force field, Serenity's Court was facing away.
Their eyes burn fiercely with the light of their hearts.
But they don't have to see what happens to feel it -- and in unison -- they scream.
They scream, and their field explodes forward, turning the dark hordes that had been straining against it into so much ash and char and chunk and vapor.
Not even a single handful of dust, though.
And then, as one, they turn --
-- and rush to Usagi.
Unconsciously they, too, have become schoolgirls. Or maybe it's just that now the light of their hearts has gone out. The magic is gone. Gone with her.
Heedless of the pain -- what is a little scraping to this? -- Makoto's knees crunch into the ice, then Ami's, then Minako's, then Rei's. They form a line along her right side.
Minako's tears are quiet and Ami's are loud. Makoto keeps repeating her best friend's name, over and over. Rei is absolutely silent. She holds one of Usagi's hands, and stares, blankly, at the frozen blood everywhere.
OOC: Please pose! <Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
Kasagami plants her boots pivots, and makes to cut when that evil fire comes for her. It's too fast. The young woman doesn't even get to scream, instinct of a Duelist pushing her to dodge back from the bulk of the blast to avoid being incinerated on the spot. Yet those flames keep coming, lashing out, sending her flying back hard as they clip her.
Her back slams into the forcefield, head too tilting back to hammer into it. Brain rattled, she collapses for a moment. Only her magical toughness and awareness of the danger the others are in keeps her from blacking out after the impact.
She struggles up to her feet, leaning on her sword, only for Beryl's horrible words to seep into her her ears. Two sides of the same coin? Kasagami can see the possibility, even as her heart tries to deny it. Maybe Beryl was once a good person. Twisted into this witch before them. Her chest feels like it's on fire, worse than the actual fire that's touched her tonight. Even worse, that image in the air of Queen Usagi, wrathful, terrible, and hateful.
The girl falls, and Kasagami's eyes widen. It happens so fast. Tears start to stream down Kasagami's face. Her mouth opens, works, chews on air. The Duelist, always so loud and outgoing, finds her mouth scorched. Her words are a squeak. The loving and brave senshi that she's come to admire fades into the girl she's seen at the Crown. The crybaby, the amusing young woman who always put a smile on her face.
These two girls, one and the same, are gone. "...No!" Her words are a whisper, mourning and disbelieving all at once.
Uranus burns, and Kasagami can only mouth a single word of denial again. The strong, powerful Senshi that she's looked up to, hoped to emulate in love and as a warrior, meets a fate she'd not wish on any from a contemptible witch. Neptune summons a miracle, and Beryl seems to collapse only to rot. Their enemy, done. And without even the catharsis of taking vengeance on the horrible Queen.
Kasagami once more looks to Usagi. The scream of her friends rakes her ears even as the forcefield explodes. The youma die. She pays it no mind. Usagi.
On legs that feel as stiff as iron bars and yet made of jelly, she stumbles forward to stand a few feet away from the fallen young woman. "This isn't...not like this!" She finds her voice, raw and acheing. A familiar pain is piercing her lungs. Everything tastes like smoke, smells like a hospital bed, sounds like the drone of an EKG, feels like skin raw and naked to the bone.
"There's no justice in this." Only death, and a loss. Her hand wavers in front of her, reaching for Usagi. Only to finally drop. Realization dawns, cold and uncaring for the girl is happens too, as cold as the moon above.
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (8)] has posed.
It happens, seemingly, in an instant. Before the Magic Knight of Wind has time to react, time to even *process* what she sees happening, Sailor Moon is slain, and her death avenged by Uranus and Neptune. Maybe it took more seconds, or even more instants, than it felt like in the moment - but she was too far to help, recovering from her own spellcasting, unable to intervene until it's over.
"Usagi-san ... ?"
They met over video games initially - Fuu is mostly a fan of RPGs, not arcade action games, but hearing about an old side-scroller called Tower of Doom blurred the line enough to make her give it a try. And really, there are plenty of games that are *fun* even if they aren't necessarily her favorite type. Meeting another girl, just as enthusiastic about playing whatever struck her interest, only stirred Fuu's willingness to try a wider variety, especially games that could be played *with* other people.
The Wind Knight swallows, her sword vanishing in the absence not of enemies, but of fighting spirit. Her transformation remains, though, and her magic stirs. Winds of Healing - her first spell, one she casts readily for anyone who needs and desires her aid - but even the most powerful healing magic can't revive someone who's dead, and Usagi -
The Wind Knight's fingers twitch once more, then close into loose, weak fists, clenching just briefly, even bitterly. True enough that Queen Beryl is dead, her intended masterstroke thwarted - but the Princess of the Moon was not protected when she most needed it.
Who was this really a victory for, she wonders, forcing herself to keep looking, even through the welling tears in her eyes. She doesn't force herself to walk, though - her legs move without a conscious thought, trudging towards the fallen guardian of the Moon, her weeping friends, and their distraught allies.
<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
Mami will always be grateful to Sailor Moon for that one day, that one action. ...But Usagi Tsukino was long her friend before that. The earnest, sometimes silly girl who never let something stop her from showing who she was. The one who was just coming to find herself, who did poorly on tests but always had an appetite, who had hugs to spare and a beautiful sincerity when she wasn't lying poorly to get more snacks or get out of trouble. She was ditzy, lazy, credulous... And perfectly herself.
How could Mami not love someone who was all heart and no artifice?
Time seems to slow for her before what happens does; sipping tea with Madoka, projecting perfect confidence, Mami Tomoe has a wonderful vantage point for the reappearance of Queen Beryl--to see. Mami watches, hears the smoky voice and does not, consciously, process its words at first. The conjured cup tips forward; brown liquid spills across a saucer, steams on the frozen ground. An instant after they both tumble from Mami Tomoe's hands as she stares, transfixed as surely as if that javelin pierces her. The illusion comes...
And it is all wrong. It is all terrible. A tear forms at each corner of her eyes, and Mami does not entirely notice the scream she offers. She does not notice it because instead it grows louder and stops, as a horrid dark, cold power floods past her, and she shakes under its force. It holds her up, long enough to hear; long enough to see. And then Mami slips down, collapses into a little pile of a girl. She has to act. She knows it; she knows that even in the darkest of moments, she cannot hesitate, or else--
But she sees Usagi. She knew it was her. And Mami Tomoe knows the look of death when she sees it. She has seen it so much in her life. She lifts her hand, tries to summon forth power. "M-Mado..."
What direction she would have given falls silent as she stares above, to Beryl. She sees her. Those words...
It is cold comfort, that Mami can see through the steam and hear Uranus and Neptune, willing to put themselves on the line, able to move forward in the wake of all of this. They've... won.
Victory is too bitter for Mami to sample it silently and a tiny choked noise makes it past her throat. She has seen death. ...But it doesn't become easier. Especially not...
"This isn't right," she manages to murmur, and she thinks of it; the beautiful coalition, the wonderful togetherness that brought them here, that was her dream... And here it falls. Maybe, she is forced to consider, the world is not so bright and wonderful as she had dared to believe.
"..." She cannot even answer the soldiers who have finished the battle. Mami watches the four rush forward, and she puts out a bare hand, drags it along the ice, and starts to push herself forward. "Us..." Mami bites her lip hard enough that it hurts, chapped by the cold, skin splitting faintly. She pushes herself up, and looks to Madoka once. She doesn't look to her for anything, doesn't say or ask or give anything but the need, in one instant, to be with someone and to give that in turn. ...But she can't linger on it. She begins to move forward, and feels a tear fall again.
She had always cried alone, she said. But here...
From the other side Mami approaches, kneels down again. She is battered, and exhausted. She looks beyond, to Uranus, in such terrible condition. "L-let..." Mami's voice cracks, "I'll... I can--" It is not a few tears now that fall so close to the form that was so recently Usagi's; they interrupt Mami's attempt to speak, to give what she can, to do something for someone here. She looks down to Usagi again.
"It isn't right," Mami tells Usagi, reaching to brush a little hair out of her face, like she's just mussed it a little and isn't gone. She can't bring herself to say that it can't end this way, because she knows that it can, that spectre always lingers for her. But even so--
"She didn't understand. You we--"
Mami breaks off, and cannot speak through grief anymore. She falls backward, onto her feet where her knees were already bent, and her vision blurs.
<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.
Queen Beryl is strong and terrible, and for just a moment Endo's hope falters. His throat tightens when he watches Sailor Moon fall, when Sailor Uranus is set ablaze despite her attempt to intercede. He struggles to move, to do something, but the force that threw him several feet has left him shaken and unsteady.
But it's not over. Sailor Neptune's shard of ice strikes home and Uranus holds fast, and the dark queen falls.
And there's no cause to celebrate after.
Endo rises to his feet, stumbles toward the cluster of Inner Senshi gathered around the body of Usagi Tsukino. A girl he knows, a student from Juuban. A friendly, happy, good person. A guardian of love a justice who died standing up for the entire world. A girl who never deserved to end like this.
"Tsukino-san..." The circle around the girl grows as he drifts to the edge, hovering there like a lost ghost. "I'm sorry..."
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (4)] has posed. <SoundTracker> Dark Cloud 2 - Time of Separation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ou38QoUSe28
Steven seems rather excited that the team-up went off without a hitch! "Yes!" he cheers. Though on observation, nothing seems to have happened to Queen Beryl. Not even a scratch. "What?! Not fair!" the boy states, stomping his foot. "Gonna have to try something different--" is about as far as he gets with that statement, as the Dark Lady fights back against the rest of the incoming attacks with supernatural alacrity. Gouts of superheated fire spring forth, and the Gem Child takes runs, taking a tumbling roll to avoid it and go for his shield, coming out thankfully unscathed.
The same cannot be said of everyone else, especially a certain individual.
"NO!" he shouts out, still stumbling to his feet, and holding his mother's gift. Now fear begins to set in. It starts with his hands, which suddenly grow very coold and trembling. A bit of color drains from his face, as he sees that icicle impaling the warrior-- no, princess-- of love and jsutice. Tears begin to well up, though in this dire of temperature, begin to frost.
"All she wanted to do was help people!" he shouts. EMotions smill over, and the boy finds it hard to keep standing. One of his feet give out from in front of him and he falls ot the ground, his shield magically clanging once, twice on the icy floor. Though the pain is but a trifle compared to when Sailor Moon reverts into who she truly is, Usagi Tsukino.
He knew her.
The girl with the twintails at Juuban.
A calm day at school, adjusting to his new environs. Steven was ready for another day at class. Claps of shoes rang down the hall loudly as someone was rushing toward their own classroom. A pivot and turn, and he turned right into someone's leg. A tumble and fall, and a girl with golden twintails was there, upset, looking at a container of chocolates on the ground. It fell out of her bags. It seemed empty, but...
"A-Ahhh! Im sorry! Really!" Begged Steven, offering a hand up to her. A look down. "What a choco-tastrophe! I uhm..." The boy flushed in the face. She seemed to be fine as she stepped in front of it and gave a laugh, but he still felt terrible.
The next day however, he tracked down the person he caused issues for. A basket of chocolates in hand, gifted to them for causing her to lose some treats, and possibly be late for class. "I had to make it up to you, you know? Ha hah... hah..."
But even now, Beryl did not stop her advance. She turned her focus to Uranus. "Leave them alone!" he yells through tears, though he knows he is incapable of stopping her. Not on his own. Though another Senshi steps on, and with carful planning and deadly focus, impales the Dark Queen in her side. The boy's brow only furrows, as for once, this felt like someone deserved something like that. To be ended. And in his heart it was a foreign feeling, to wish something like that. Did... did that make him a bad person?
Beryl decays away, like a funeral pyre. And much like a pyre, she left others nothing but grief to respond with. "Nooo!" Steven shouts, running over quickly, leaving his shield behind. He quickly falls to his knees, the ice and snow bite his kneecaps but he doesn't care. Tears are falling faster than they can freeze. "I didn't know you were-- I wish I had-- I mean I-- you-- We did-- y-you--"
Only aching sounds and sobs are left. There is little to understand coming from the little boy with a Gem in his navel right now.
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
Crouched there in the snow he blinks as the life just ... leaves Usagi. He blinks again as the realization hits him. Usagi. The girl whom he has shared countless donuts with on roof tops, and once in a snowy field on Hokaido. Usagi, the pig tailed girl who was Sailor Moon. Who he fought beside so many times. Usagi was just ... dead. However before he can charge at the Dark Queen. She too is defeated by the combined might of Uranus and Neptune.
Arondight lowers from that horizontal position and the lightning leaves the blade, simply sparkling and crackling slower and slower until there is only the shining white blade. Lancelot's head falls to hsi chest as he closes his eyes. "Tcht." He has memories of loss. Of loosing people he holds dear from so long ago, but HE, Takeo Akamizu hasn't felt it and he feels the tears well up in the freezing cold of the North Pole as he experiences the gut wrenching pang of loss as it washes over him.
He stands up and feels the pain ... everywhere. He just simply hurts. He knows he's bleeding ... somewhere. His armor has dents, and is rent in more than one spot. It's scored from fire and near misses from dark energy blasts. But his cloak is only singed at the edges. He walks forward, his armored boots crunching in the snow and actually sheathes Arondight before reaching up and unfastening it. As he wals he folds the cloak until it's a rectangular thing and puts one knee into the snow near Usagi. There he gently lifts her head and then places the cloak under her yellow pigtailed head and lowers her once more. He nods to the other Senshi and then stands, his eyes falling on Steven.
He walks over and places a hand on the younger boy's shoulder. "Come on kiddo," He says softly. "Let's get you away from this." He squeezes Steven's shoulder as he kneels before the younger boy, putting himself conviently between his line of sight of Usagi. Then he simple wraps the boy in a hug. It is a warm embrace and he squeezes his own eyes shut for a second, the tears simply falling, unable to be stopped by little things like eyelids. He says softly, "If there is anything the Memories of Lancelot have taught me it is that this sucks, but eventually, we'll be able to move on. The hurt never leaves, it becomes apart of us, but we move on. Because we're strong. Becuase we all have each other. Just hold your memories of her in your heart, and she'll never really be gone."
<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.
Singed a bit at the tips, the pink Puella Magi ignores the minor ouches bequeathed by blisters pulled apart by muscles straining too fast, then starts leaning into their burn, and moves even faster still.
This time she isn't fast enough.
Madoka has ruffles and ribbons whatever her transformation, and she could have been matching Rei, on Usagi's other side, in the Ohtori Middle School uniform.
But she doesn't.
The Gem at her throat has plummeted in brightness, uncomfortably matching the crystals on the snow.
But it doesn't go out.
She takes Mami's hand and holds on for all she's worth.
"No," she echoes Kasagami, echoes Mami, "No. I can't accept this."
She tries to breathe deeply but her lungs, shaking and shattering, do not cooperate.
A tear drips off her nose and remains salt water.
She closes her eyes.
"I won't," Madoka whimpers -- but she doesn't lack conviction.
She's a great believer in wishes. In miracles. In fairy tales.
Her whole heart aches. It seethes.
But there's still a tiny piece of her that dares to let itself get hurt one extra time.
"Please -- please come back," she begs in a whisper -- she begs the corpse, she begs Kyuubey, she begs whatever gods or demons deign to hear -- leaning down until they're nose to nose.
"I need you."
Madoka's tender words, as they escape her lips, gently, sweetly shape Usagi's, too.
It's dangerous to hope...
But Madoka willingly pays the price, as her heart shatters.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Uranus [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.
Eyes glassy from her wounds, Uranus lies on her stomach. She doesn't particularly remember falling. The flame had stopped, and the dark queen died in the same way as the light. Uranus had been expecting to die, but somehow she had been expecting to be saved, too. She holds with those who favor ice.
Hiking herself an elbow-stride up along the ground. Uranus lifts her hand tremulously. Beryl's dead green eyes reflect it in twain, with a strange innocent trust. Even the devil is like a child in death. Perhaps now, far too late, she would accept the kindness a Sailor Senshi extends even to the wicked.
Delicately, Uranus lifts the obsidian tiara from Beryl's forehead--the twisted crown of the Queen of Earth. She holds it between two fingers, as if to let Beryl see it one last time. Then, closing her fist around it, she squeezes until it snaps, and two pieces fall to the snow. She lets the smaller shards in her palm drizzle out slowly, not looking at the clump of friends and loved ones clustered around her princess. There's little enough peace in revenge. Little enough Serenity.
Uranus places her palm down beside the ruined crown, and lifts the other. She places it against her face. She closes her eyes.
She'll stand up when she can find a reason. Any reason at all.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Neptune [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.
It is a horrid thing to Neptune, to feel such unwarranted, unalloyed delight when she sees the scorched form of Uranus rise - move - lift an item. She moves it - she snaps it.
The feeling is filthy, in the light of who lays there, but she has it anyway. Rising upwards, Sailor Neptune walks, staggers really, towards her. As she travels the space between Uranus and herself she looks towards the others; the four girls surrounding their princess. Madoka. Mami. Naoki. Steven.
Lancelot speaks wisdom. Neptune closes her eyes and is thankful for him for a moment, even as she comes up alongside Uranus. She kneels then, besides her.
She doesn't speak.
What a horrid person I am, she thinks, with academic detachment. But there will be a later.
<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.
The Ginzuishou's surface is dull at first, like it might never shine again. However it then receives a small glimmer of light, as if it were simply some reflection of one of the Magical Girls.
Without heir of course this should be impossible, for Usagi Tsukino was spiritually the last of great Serenity's line.
What if this isn't true though? Once upon a time, when the Silver Millenium gave it last agonal gasps, Queen Serenity made three wishes. And the third was...
Never again shall hope shine alone!
It did not appear to do anything, scholars mystified throughout the ages of what it could mean. Even the greatest sages, magicians, or wizards could not fathom what her dying wish could have wrought.
Because when Dark Fall came to shatter the universe, so many rose up to the call. So many champions. The idea that the Ginzuishou could be truly bereft of heir then is absurd.
It has all of you.
BGM Change: Tsuki no Densetsu - Sailor Moon Crystal OST - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hi0HE4pHPgM
As the tears fall, so do the petals open, as if they were lapping it up, swept up in the force of strong faith, firm resolution, and deep love. It cannot help but respond to such a stimulus, like a precious nightblossom under lunar light.
At first it may go unnoticed, until it starts to rise on its own. The light of its radiance small at first, before it expands outwards at such a rate that it might feel like it would fill the arctic on its own. It does not need words.
The feelings are there all on their own.
They belong to four Sailor Senshi for the one they loved more deeply for being the girl she was than because of any sense of duty.
To the slayer of the False Queen for her love and her cold assessment of her own person in response to all that has happened, and her partner whose gambit and teamwork made it possible, through her own courtly love and sense of duty, her own knowledge of how empty this revenge is with their Princess dead.
In the desperate despair of one Puella Magi who wishes to deny this this moment.
...and in the love, and need another holds for her. In a love that's enough to adorn her lips with that precious gift of her need and to call out to her with the grief in her shattering heart.
To a Duelist for the lack of justice in this pyrrhic seeming victory.
And to a Magic Knight of Cephiro who bonded with her over something as simple as games, who finds no meaning in this victory.
To a Crystal Gem who wished to know her better beyond a simple precious moment.
And a boy who thinks she didn't deserve this.
And in those feelings of a knight with so many memories of grief and suffering that he simply knows what one must do when facing this.
The light washes over them all like a great tide, denying this reality where Uranus is dying, and Usagi Tsukino is dead. Their wounds like they'd never been save for the memory, infernal fire quenched instantly and dark ice evaporated.
<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed. <SoundTracker> ibid
Those dead bright blue eyes have life in them again, as they blink suddenly with a certain incomprehension, filled with a certain joy, "Minna-!"
Almost like a bunny, normal little Usagi Tsukino leaps into the embrace of the four normal girls, and more besides, it feels like she could fit all who want to within her hug, her eyes wet immediately, and her smile as bright as it's ever been. "... I had a bad dream..." She whispers, voice full of emotion, like she only wishes it was a bad dream, "...but it's all over now."
The Silver Crystal isn't done though, because as if acknowledging the power in the feelings of normal girls, it sweeps over all of them, adorning them each with the garb of a bygone millenia. A Silver one to be precise.
Middle school uniform becomes that of a Moon Princess, adorned with the mark of heritage, while each Senshi becomes garbed in gowns marking them as Princesses in their own right, each in the colors of their past life's home world. This includes Uranus and Neptune of course.
Princess Serenity stands up from her embrace, and the Moon Stick simply rises into her hand, the Legendary Silver Crystal's petals may close, but the radiance is still spread around the North Pole like some persistent aureole.
Stepping away from the Inner Senshi, she walks to Mami Tomoe, and leans over to kiss her cheek, whispering. "You do understand though..." For she cannot help but notice her despair, not after that night. "... and that is a gift more precious to me than you can ever know."
She does not break contact with Mami with great haste, if anything her pace is restrained as she turns to Madoka Kaname to step up to her and whisper. "I need you too."
Instead of her cheek, they lean forward to find her lips, and her arms find their way around her, hands laced at the moonstick at the small of the other girl's back. As holy as a moment as this might be, she won't allow herself to become sacred to either of them. She holds that contact for several long seconds, her eyes closed.
There is a moistness to her lips that lends credence to the fact that she can only be alive, her cheeks minutely flushed after she breaks contact, her whisper full of happy ardor,"So when you called... I couldn't help but come back."
She cannot consider the thought of stepping by Madoka, so she simply guides her to stand beside her, as she looks at the Outer Princesses of Uranus and Neptune, and there is perhaps a little more of Princess Serenity in her than usual because she says, "Please don't kneel. Either of you. I couldn't bear it. Not after what you both did here today..."
Exhaling a breath, which is a wisp of foggy light in the arctic air as she says with a smile, "I was wondering if instead you might grace us all with the sight of a kiss we will all struggle to live up to for the rest of our lives."
She does however clarify, and there's a small sense of a tease, "That isn't a command."
COMBAT: Usagi Tsukino transforms into Princess Serenity!
<Pose Tracker> Queen Beryl [None] has posed. <SoundTracker> Duel Of The Fates https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlYCxbBZUCY
It is the best kind of ending.
Rebirth not just of life but of hope.
The noise! The warmth, even here, in the icy heart of darkness! The color! Everyone together! Everyone healed and whole!
Amid the happy chaos, one corpse remains a corpse.
It is the only time in all of history that Queen Beryl has not been the center of attention in her own throne room. She is tall and statuesque, but sprawled backwards on the ground, it doesn't matter. Frost is already beginning to creep across her violet gown, to transform her luscious locks from red to white. Her expression was never peaceful, but is beginning to harden into a rictus grin.
Between the idea
And the reality
No -- that isn't frost, and her body isn't leeching cold from the ice that has become her tomb. This chill is coming from within, not without, and one vein at a time it flows through her. Her body isn't freezing.
Between the motion
And the act
All at once, she rises, floating into the air as lightly as a cloud. That is the only thing light about her. As her body slowly, fluidly spins on its axis to become vertical once again, her feet hovering several feet above the ground and her broken crown proudly pointing towards the ceiling, palpable darkness flows through her. It is the same darkness she drew upon to try to wish away the magical girls of Earth.
And though she gave her life in its service, the darkness isn't done with her -- not yet.
Between the conception
And the creation
Everything shatters! Without warning, the ice gives way in all directions, blown backwards and outwards by impossible, unstoppable force. The sky is once again visible overhead, and it is now a true black, marked only by pale blue lines that delineate the clouds that swirl inward, a perfect spiral. In the center: the immovable object, now veiled from view by a fantastic blossom, a dark lotus. Its petals are screwed upwards, shut in an inverse spiral to the one in the sky. They are the color of poison, the very hue of death.
They are a hundred feet tall.
Between the emotion
And the response
The petals are no barrier to the voice. Deafness is no barrier; this is not sound. It is present inside everyone because everyone has still, small voices inside, which speak to them clearly without any words at all. Not all of those voices are friendly.
"After eons unending, I am become flesh."
Where Beryl had once hijacked the reflections and vocal chords of everyone to deliver a message, that trick is now turned upon her. It is her voice... but not her words.
"The sun itself was my prison, but could not hold me. This Earthly ice a cage, but now the bars are shattered. The final veil torn down -- no longer must I enforce my will through another!"
What was Beryl laughs, and her laughter is completely different. This is not the cackle of cruel amusement, this is an outpouring of ecstasy, the transcendent feeling of finally -- finally -- being truly alive. Nascent potential finally reached. It could almost be innocent, the first burble of an infant finally emerged from the womb, were it not so impossibly ancient. Instead it is parody, hateful satire.
Between the desire
And the spasm
The petals fly open, scattering a gross facsimile of pollen across the ice. Where the tiny motes of light land, they infect, turning shards of ice into more dark crystal, swirling with malice like tiny, angry eggs of hate.
Next to emerge from the steam are filaments of stamen, blacker even than the sky, which writhe and undulate their absence through the air. Air tries to fill the void that they are, and is instantly destroyed, nitrogen sizzling, screaming its descent into true nothingness.
Between the potency
And the existence
And at the center of the blossom stands Metallia embodied, Queen Metallia, no longer a voice and a shadow but fully realized upon the tapestry of existence. Not even in the time of the Silver Millennium was she able to express herself so completely.
If Beryl were many dozens of feet tall, Metallia might look like her, but the transformation is more than just growth, and more than just inversion. Her gown is not violet, but red, the red of heart's blood, of all the lives she intends to spend as freely and easily as coins at the arcade. Many magical girls wear crimson, but they don't wear it like this, so vibrant that it pulses, beats with its own malice. And her hair is no longer that glorious fiery auburn, but an unrecognizable cyan, the tainted heart of a tainted flame, the heart of an dying star. It soars above her, bourne aloft by the heat that pours off of her form.
Her tiara has been removed. Only the gem remains, in the center of her brow, a single shard of the crystal she once bubbled in impotently. Her choker, her armlet, both are an unrecognizable black metal. Her fingernails are as long and sharp as the spikes of bone emerging from her shoulders like clasps without a cloak.
Between the essence
And the descent
When her eyes open, the force of the presence behind them causes the rubble of the Dark Kingdom, mixed with the ice of the plain, to tremble. It is a familiar feeling -- the dark pillar that summoned everyone to the North Pole, the nascent wish that almost tore them away -- the malice, the wrongness.
But it was never like this -- so toxic in its closeness that it makes breathing shallow, squeezes tears from wind-torn ducts, clutches the heart and burns.
Falls the Shadow
"The time has come," says Queen Metallia, "To imbue all living creatures in the universe with hatred and greed -- and then wipe them out, reaping their darkness."
This is darkness born through fire and through ice.
This is the shadow on the heart of the solar system.
This is the true destroyer of the Silver Millennium.
This is the way the world ends.
SMASH CUT -- TIME SKIP -- SUMMER 2014
Cicadas whirr staccatos, forcing them through the oppressively heavy air. Nary a breeze stirs across Tokyo Bay; there is no respite from the concrete-gathered might of the sun as it absorbs and re-emits from every surface in the city.
Sweat beads at temples, at necklines, at the bottom of the back.
But it just makes the ice cream sweeter.
The resumption of school is weeks away and the obligations of summer homework might as well be on another planet.
It's a long, hot, lazy summer.
What a great time to be alive.