2019-02-09 - TIMELINE 2: Beryl Falls And Metallia Rises! Dreams vs. Destruction! Hope vs. Despair!
|Beryl Falls And Metallia Rises! Dreams vs. Destruction! Hope vs. Despair!|
Timeline 2('s version of the North Pole) ends badly, though not before a truly epic triumph of the magical girls and their dreams over the elemental force of evil Queen Metallia.
Queen Beryl, Rei Hino, Usagi Tsukino, Steven Universe, Niramo Umokeshi, Takeo Akamizu, Marinette Dupain-Cheng, Nori Ankou, Madoka Kaname, Sayaka Miki, Mami Tomoe, Homura Akemi, Kasagami Araki, Fuu Hououji, The Maiden of Dreams
|OOC - IC Date:|
2/9/2019 - 04-24-2014
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ 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. <SoundTracker> Pure Heart Crystal - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVKolCf7pzM
The sakura faded and the trees grew leaves -- soft breezes became oppressive heat -- and spring yielded unto summer.
It's been a long one already and school hasn't even quite let out for vacation yet. But in the last two months, a lot has happened:
- Akuma! Corrupted Gems! Invaders from Cephiro! Orphans! Witches! Duels! Monsters are growing in variety and intensity, and attacks from monsters of the day (and their lieutenants) are steadily growing in frequency. The struggle to find enough time in the day to save the world and achieve your dream is real.
- Usagi Tsukino was revealed as the Moon Princess, and Ohtori high schooler Mamoru Chiba her Prince Endymion, of the once Golden Kingdom of Earth. Already in love as Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask, destiny has brought them together in a new life.
- But destiny is an unkind thing. About a month ago Mamoru was kidnapped by the Dark Kingdom, and started making appearances as Dark Endymion, Queen Beryl's chief enforcer.
- Two nights ago, the magical girls of Tokyo experienced the Silverine Dreaming while Sailor Moon and her court visited the Moon, reliving one facet of the secret past of the world.
- Every since Queen Beryl shot the Arthra right out of the sky, everyone has been aware that her base must be north of Tokyo, but only recently did they realize how far north. The Midchildans want revenge, so this time around nobody waited for her to challenge them -- instead, a joint operation to the North Pole was launched using Dimensional Transport spells.
That last bullet point was about an hour ago.
PREVIOUSLY ON BATTLE FANTASIA: TIMELINE ONE
The magical girls fought to interrupt Beryl's dark ritual, landed in the heart of her fortress, and were surrounded by her army. They fought both -- but not without the loss of Sailor Moon. But she was revived through the power of the Ginzuishou and the love of her friends, just in time...
There is no evil ritual to disrupt, and the North Pole that the magical girls landed in is, initially, dark and cold and seemingly empty. The girls fan out to look for the entrance -- at which point, separated into smaller groups, they're ambushed by the army of youma (also broken up).
The army is not full of pushovers -- every creature (and there is a wide variety) is some combination of claws, fangs, energy blasts and (sometimes) improbable household objects like vacuum cleaners and cookie jars. There are living shadows, and shadowy lives. There are eyes in the darkness -- and in the unbearable brightness, back on the surface, when the sun hits it just so, which is almost worse.
None of them die easily. And there are so many.
Somewhere along the way the ice yields to crystal -- twined red and blue and other dim, cold auroral colors, with faint and irregular pulsings within, as though little bubbles passed through it -- as though the crystal itself were alive. Here and there are curves of solid stone, deadly cold to the touch.
The Dark Kingdom is beautiful and deadly, like the North Pole. And, like the North Pole, it is still dark, and still cold.
One of the most comforting thoughts is that for every youma fought through, that's one less that's able to attack the other groups, long since lost in the chaos.
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki transforms into Crimson Rose Duelist!
<Pose Tracker> Queen Beryl [None] has posed.
Where others found resistance and confusion, the North Pole opened its maw wide to welcome Usagi and her team.
And then it slammed closed around them.
The winged and mighty DD Girls, greatest of the Queen's youma army and the ones responsible for draining all the energy of Tokyo last winter, hit the girls on the bridge -- a stunningly beautiful, jagged black ice bridge crossing a chasm whose bottom is surely not still in the realm called Earth. No natural hole has such evil vapors.
"GO!!" Sailor Jupiter screams, and only once her sisters are safe behind her does she turn to face her counterpart -- plus four more.
Lightning glitters in her tears, trails behind her arms, as she thrusts them over her head.
"THIS ENDS HERE! SUPREME!"
There is no sky in the Dark Kingdom... but the heavens respond anyway.
Afterwards, there is no ice bridge either. No DD Girls.
Kunzite, once the leader of the Four Heavenly Kings, is now the only Heavenly King. He was Queen Beryl's second-in-command, but that job has of late been given to another. He does not quite know what he wants anymore, in a world without Beryl's esteem... or Zoisite's love.
The four remaining girls almost run him over in the hallway, which is when he decides that 'revenge' sounds like a pretty good thing to reach out -- and grasp.
He dies on Sailor Venus' sword, the sword torn out of dormant stone at the tomb that is the Moon.
And she dies in the micro-black-hole he calls up with his final breath. Its hunger is endless and it reaches -- reaches -- for Usagi, for the others. It wants to fill its master's emptiness -- even now, in his final moments, Kunzite is empty -- with their screams.
"YOU CAN'T HAVE THEM!"
She fills it with Love-Me Chain, endless glimmering, glittering linked hearts, more than she's ever conjured before, until she's shaking and gasping. It isn't enough.
But she knows, instinctively, that she will be. She is too much, she is always too much, and a little bit too much is enough.
Her golden hair swirls around her as she looks over her shoulder at the others and smiles.
"Protect the Princess," are her final words, her last, unnecessary order as Captain of Her Guard, before the throws herself in like she's going off the high dive at Juuban Community Pool.
The spatial distortion and Kunzite's beautiful corpse vanish in an instant.
And so does Minako.
<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
In the end, as they come to this chamber, maybe Sailor Mars's initial estimation was right, and she should have been suspicious of the boy who always seemed to show up at the final hour. He was close to them, but not close enough. He was taken.
And here he is, kneeling by the woman who has taken him, as if she has earned his fealty. Sailor Mars balls her fists, and one swipes to the side, fingers lengthening out as she does. "Tuxedo Kamen-sama!" She barks, because he has in truth earned that estimation over his time helping them. "How can you listen to a woman like that? Even now, can't you appreciate how Sailor Moon feels at all?!"
It might seem like the strangest thing for her to say - when she told Sailor Moon to keep going, after the bridge crumbled with any hope of seeing Sailor Jupiter again. When she demanded Sailor Moon stand up, in the wake of Sailor Venus's consumption. Each time so hard, as if she was not shaken to her core.
As if the grief has not wrapped around her chest like a python, clenching tighter and tighter.
Her protest is pointless. Prince Endymion receives his orders, and stands, and Sailor Mars steps forward, too. But she knows who is controlling him, and it is not Endymion she springs forward to attack. Let Sailor Moon purify him - Sailor Mars is going to the source.
It is a mistake.
She has barely brought her hands together before she is knocked back by a blast of energy, with force enough to send her sprawling to the ground. Moon Healing Escalation has as poor a showing, Mars realises, as she pushes herself up in time to see him leaping out of the beam. "Sailor Moon!" She cries out, but he has roses enough for them, tossing those black-lipped things with a deft wrist. Enough, too, for Sailor Mars, brought to her knees where she had not quite managed to find her feet.
His impassive eyes fall on Sailor Moon's, and there is no arguing with him, because there is nothing to argue with. He dismisses their roses, but the energy those thorns have drained from them is a wound which lingers on their souls.
He steps forward. There is a sharp sound, an alarming gesture, and his boot impacts against Sailor Moon's side with a horrifically solid noise.
"SAILOR MOON!" Sailor Mars screams, as she forces her feet under her. Prince Endymion reaches for Sailor Moon, grasps her by the throat, hoists her up --
-- and Sailor Mars impacts heavily with the other girl's side, knocking her bodily out of his grasp before he can tighten his grip, pushing her back towards her artifact. She trembles with the exertion of the energy drain, and she is not fast enough to escape as he clamps that hand around her neck, instead. Her hands scrabble at his; to no avail.
It's always draining, with Dark Fall. Mars reflects, as her teeth grit and she groans in pain, that it is always draining. The energy crackles around her neck, a visual indicator of the way it lances through her muscles and her blood.
She cracks open an eye, locks gaze with his, and there is nothing there to argue with at all.
Sailor Mars draws a strangled breath through grit teeth, and forces her hands to lower from their instinctive position. The curl around themselves, instead, index fingers pressed against each other.
She knows she is not fireproof.
Neither is he.
"Fire -- Soul," she grits out the words, and as the words leave her, her lips curl up to a smirk. Yeah, Rei thinks; it's a bit stupid.
The inferno coils out and has nowhere to go. Instead it spirals around them - around both of them, Prince Endymion and Sailor Mars, and maybe this was all for Usagi, and maybe neither of them were very good at showing it. Her teeth grit and her hands grasp his arm again, holding him there as the flames curl around them.
And when the fire fades, they fall on each other, and Prince Endymion does not move, and Sailor Mars barely does. "... hey... Sailor Moon?" Her voice quavers; it has never trembled so much.
She smiles to her, so gently, from behind the soot. "... we always fought, but it was fun."
A finger twitches, the closest she can get to gesturing her away. Her mouth opens, but no words come out from lungs too burnt, this time; a last gasp, and the light in her eyes has vanished.
<Pose Tracker> Queen Beryl [None] has posed.
After an interminable time fighting for their lives in a frozen maze, various clusters of magical girls discover the many entrances to the center of the labyrinth.
Just in time -- to be too late.
The silver light reaches out to engulf Queen Beryl. Where it touches her blood, it heals her. Where it touches her darkness, it purifies her, and the collision of this explosive force of love with the malice infecting her body causes pure white smoke to rise from her, spreading out in all directions.
It is not refreshing, and she is not refreshed.
But she dies on her feet.
"You're wrong," she spits out, with the very last of her air. "You've already lost... everything."
And then she falls.
Her knees are harder than the ice beneath her; it shatters instead of her. It is her last, tired victory of the last, tired remnant of a grudge that has lasted so many years that there is no easy way to tally them. This is hatred that slips through time more thoroughly than any hourglass sand.
The last thing she hears are the sobs of her enemy, surrounded by the corpses of the loves of her life.
The stillness, afterwards, is almost a climax. With her hair splayed around her in a red cloud, her face peaceful in the knowledge that her foe's victory is an unhappy one, she could be sleeping. In death, she is as she was in life: a human, a woman. A queen.
The queen is dead.
Long live the queen.
<Pose Tracker> Princess Serenity [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed. <SoundTracker> To Protect the Stars - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWSNrlaknMQ
Once upon a time, Usagi Tsukino accepted a brooch from a talking cat, who gave her a duty to protect people from the Dark Kingdom.
Did she know at the time what that truly meant?
Well, just look at her now.
Within the vast cavern that makes up the Dark Kingdom's court, there's a girl on her knees in a white gown that no longer looks pure, but stained. The moon stick, bearing the treasure that everyone was fighting for crescent down in the ice. While she's a Princess, there's nothing regal about her grief. The empty eyed look her blue eyes bear, the choking-hiccuping sobs.
Beryl's finest cruelty was to drive home a singular fact, after she became Princess Serenity. Although it may have resulted in the ancient Queen's death, it brought to mind ancient memories to mingle with those of a grieving Usagi Tsukino.
While it gave her the power to defeat her, this was no kindness, no true triumph. A helpless Princess Serenity once witnessed the deaths of all of her Sailor Senshi, her Prince. And she was utterly helpless to stop the Dark Kingdom from taking even one of them away from her.
Now in this modern era, as heiress to the Moon Kingdom's power, she brought it all to bear against the Dark Queen in an attempt to break the cycle of hatred...
... and it still didn't change the fact that she was helpless to stop the Dark Kingdom from taking them all away from her again. Four girls came with her. Two didn't even leave corpses for her to mourn in the battles that brought them here.
Venus' final smile. Jupiter's last battle cry. Those are what are etched into her memories. Where there should instead be memories of Makoto Kino preparing happily for a date, and Minako Aino singing into a faux microphone to get ready for an audition.
What of the ones who did?
There lies Sailor Mercury over there.
Is she your cat? When she dropped down like that - I thought she might be an angel.
The worst feeling in the world is knowing that all her promise and potential is gone. Yet that's not what Usagi Tsukino become Princess Serenity values the most. They are those gentle smiles, and the quiet laughter, and the sublime insights, and the forbearance her support tried to instill within her. That the past should cut her present chance short...
And there's Sailor Mars.
Anyway it's a bit stupid but... someone like you really needs protecting right?
The worst feeling in the world is knowing she's dead because you asked her to protect you. That you are responsible for her awakening, and thus responsible for her death. She could have become anyone, but she decided to be your friend. The verbal sparring matches she cherished between them have come to an end.
And there's Prince Endymion.
I'm glad you're not hurt... keep that beautiful faith and we will meet again...
Mamoru Chiba, Tuxedo Kamen, Prince Endymion. The two of them never truly even got to know each other this time. Never had her feelings take shape beyond schoolgirl crushes and back and forth-fighting and the cycle begins anew. Star-crossed yet again. Princess Serenity desires to kiss him goodbye, yet she will not do that to Usagi Tsukino.
She will not do that to the girls who gave everything for her again. To Mars, who made the decision that Usagi Tsukino never would.
Trembling as the memories of the first fall of the Moon Kingdom intermingled with those of the events today. Princess Serenity says quietly, "... no that's not right."
BGM Change: Tsuki no Densetsu - Sailor Moon Crystal OST - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hi0HE4pHPgM
Her fingertips reach down to brush the handle of the moonstick, before grasping it more firmly. Eyes shining with tears, there's a steadiness about her which seems uncharacteristic for both Princess Serenity and Usagi Tsukino, "Things are different this time."
Images of all the girls she'd met, fought with, lessons learned, they all flash through her head. In this moment perhaps she is a little more Usagi Tsukino than Princess Serenity. Hope lies in the fact that all is not desolation. Hope lies in the hands of Madoka Kaname, and the guidance Mami Tomoe has lovingly gifted to others. In the courage of Sayaka Miki and in the meek determination of Homura Akemi. In the compassion of a young Steven Universe, and bravery of Takeo Akamizu. In the warmth Mai Tokiha offers for her friends, and the ferocity with which Mikoto Minagi protects them. In the cleverness of the Miraculous Ladybug, and the kindness of Sourisi, and the deeply caring heart of Nori Ankou. In the passion of Kasagami Araki, and the wise words of the Magic Knight of Wind.
She's lost much, more than can ever be expressed. Yet she hasn't lost everything. And what's more, she knows it.
And what is lost can be regained, with a strong enough faith, a firm enough resolution, and a deep enough love.
Usagi Tsukino who is Princess Serenity does not raise the crystal high, but hugs it against her chest.
"I am never alone. And my happiness..."
And closes her eyes, having hope that when she opens them...
"... are those moments spent with all of you."
She's shed so many tears out of grief for what she's lost, but now she's shedding them on a wish and a prayer. The Ginzushou is struck, and it cannot help but respond. It blossoms instantly. Its radiance spreading throughout all of D-Point nigh instantaneously, changing the dark aurora in the sky into a glorious aurora borealis of light.
It does not simply mend wounds, or restore the soul to the flesh. It undoes the need for it. It denies a reality where they are dead. All four girls who came to know Usagi Tsukino, all four Inner Senshi who swore to protect their Princess are brought back to her, hale and whole.
One on each side of her.
Princess Serenity who is Usagi Tsukino opens her tear-stained eyes to the blinding radiance she has brought into being...
... and when her vision clears...
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.
Was there no end of evil to be found? As the light of hope halts the dark's advances, another always seems to rise in its place. See: The North Pole.
Two months since the events with Precia, Steven Universe found himself in good company, to thwart that which attempted (on purpose or by sheer accident) to obliterate them from the sky. Thw other Crystal Gems would have him not got, but Steven would not take no for an answer, and with the rise in Corrupted Gem activity, it was up to him and him alone to represent the good will of the group!
In truth, he always admired the senshi-- especially Sailor Moon, in how they thwarted evil. To work alongside them felt like an honor. it inspired him to do better and better with each encounter! He could never say no to their call to arms.
"There's no end to them!" Shouts the coated and hooded boy, curling behind a beauteous shield. A creature made of twisted rusted irons and a blue flame assaults him with gouts of fire. They are vaguely humanoid shaped, with mostly elemental energy for a body. two brighter slits make for menacing eyes amidst the crackling coldfire. It threatens to entomb those in this cold place, where they would never be found again.
Icicles and rime from the licking flames build up on the shield, and grow faster and faster in moments. "We gotta pull out all the stops! Dig deep! We can beat these guys!" he shouts toward Fuu and Kasagami in encouragement, at least keeping its attention from them for a moment, perhaps even making an opening for the two!
He was so weary by this point, it was a wonder he could even keep a shield summoned.
Boots click on rime coated floor, as Steven manages to stumble into the throne room, in time to fiew a horrifying and miraculous sight. Twas the senshi on the floor, as Beryl is lanced with purest positive energy. Literally cooked away from the inside out as energies meeting causes a catalytic reaction.
Beryl stands little chance. For how powerful and mighty and fearful in sight she was, the small boy witnesses her laid low, as her senshi, her friends-- rise to her side, unscathed. "You' all... okay!" the Gem Child pants, smiling a bright smile as it all ends. The boy laughs his little goofy smile, even as he struggles to make his way over. He is out of sweat and tears at this point from the struggles to just arrive that nothing comes, though the redness in his face clearly would state otherwise.
It was a miracle, nothing less. "I'm so happy..." A pause. "I-Is it really over?"
<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.
The notion that being a magical girl would be easy died after the first month. Monsters, masterminds and villains of all shapes and makes attack Tokyo and it's up to a new generation of magical defenders to keep things safe for the innocents. Not that it's all been stress and chaos, however. Despite it all, Niramo has been making more friends in the past months than most of her life beforehand!
The mysterious dream that everyone receieved while the Sailor Scouts were on the Moon gives them a look into the past, and with it, a hint towards the future. After the assault on the Garden of Time, the Midchildans are eager for a chance to revenge for the fall of the Arthra. Now, the time has come!
The frigid surface of the North Pole has more darkness than even the lack of the sun could predict. Tonfa swing through the air to barely deflect a bolt of corrupting energy. A powerful kick sends a Youma skidding back, armed with sharp kitchen utiensils and with a head of moldy rice for some strange reason. Binding chains litter the space around her, traps set by a mouse and holds down legs and arms. Yet still it's not enough.
This isn't a Miraculous Ninja out to charge against evil with a smile on her lips. This is a girl trying her best to hold back the flood of evil against her friends. And failing.
A claw of obsidian swipes at Sourisi while she's distracted with an metallic harpy, sending her rolling along the ice before she could get her footing again. She's being worn down slowly, and despite her best efforts, her movements are already slowed from exhaustion. "Madoka-chan, Homura-chan, Opales-chan! Please...hurry up with whatever you have planned! Things are not going so-look out!" A blast of energy is set out of the mob of Youma surrouding them, and Sourisi can already tell it was aimed at Homura.
Without a though against it, Sourisi leaps upward to intercept the blast. She's going to give it her all for her friends.
Claws boots pound on crystaline floors, and Sourisi huffs with each beat of her heart to keep up with the others. Just in time...to see the finale between the Dark Queen and Princess Serenity. Racing thoughts are quick to connect the dots, and she drops to her knees. "No...the Sailor Senshi...are they okay?!" Were they delayed? But as much as she wanted to deny the reality before her, there's no way the Sailor Scouts would let the Princess lead the charge alone...
The light of the Ginzushou washes over them all, and Sourisi closes eyes brimming with tears against the light. Even with how powerful the Silver Crystal was, surely it couldn't..!
More tears fall, but now these are tears of joy washing away sorrow. The magic that resides within the Moon Specter is enough to give rise to new hope. Sourisi just stays on her knees, smiling at the scene before them and not bothering to wipe her face clean. There will be more tears. "This...she did it. They did it." A deep intake of air, and a Mouse raises upwards. "We did it!"
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
When the youma appeared Lancelot drew Arondight. The blade crackled with blue and white lightning, while the steel itself shone as bright and white as the snow of the frozen ground they stood on. As they closed in Lancelot took a deep breath and let it out. He was not going to let these monsters stop him, or hurt anybody, and he knew exactly what he had to do to do it. He has to engage as many of these Youma as he can. Every single one he can reach. Distract them as much as he can. Which means he needs to bring the thunder.
It starts with a roll of a shoulder and then a single step forward. Then another, and another. Each foot step echoes in the halls of the fortress, and each one comes a little faster than the previous before the Knight is running, his sword held low and to the side. By the time he is halway to the charging youma he is running and he lets out a wordless battle cry and jumps at them. SOUNDTRACK FOR LANCELOT'S FIGHT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XESJ9F0O9E&list=PLE3D07CF18375CFC0&index=111
He lands in front of the first one shouting, "LIGHTNING SLASH!" The blade erupting in a cacophony of thunder as he unleashes it into a fanged beast. As that one begins to fall a second one opens it's dragonic like mouth and lets loose with a blast of dark energy. Lancelot spins in place and splits the beam with Arondight. Each side of the split beam slams into a wall on his left and the floor on his right. These send plumes of ice shards that fall like glittering snow ina cloud around the Knight.
From inside that cloud of falling ice comes: "LIGHTNING BLAST!" and a bolt of thick lightning crackles out to take the offending Youma in the face. The lightning evaporates the snow fall around Lancelot who slices his sword to the side and runs forward, parrying a monster with really long claws.
The Knight grits his teeth as he pushes on the beast unable to get the upper hand as more Youma close in, but he spots a dash of red zipping by, "Hey! Red! Could you lend a hand?" In his panic as he begins to be surrounded, he called out in french. When she responds by causing ice shards the size of telephone poles to tinkle down among the flanking Youma, he leaps up and backflips to land on the large piece of glacial ice Ladybug is riding through the massed Youma. He crouches at he rback panting a little and says with a grin to her, "The name is Lancelot. Pleasure to meet you!" Still speaking in french. "
"The pleasure is mine Lancelot!" the girl in red answers as she steers the glacial shard. "And the name is Ladybug. Heads up! More bad guys!"
Nodding Lancelot stays there on the sliding and crushing glacial shard lashing with his blade watching her back as Youma swarm in on all sides. He slashes left, right, stabs upward at a leaping Youma and lets out wave after wave of lightning blasts, sending lightning coursing through the swarm of enemies trying to get to the pair.
INSIDE THE FORTRESS PROPER (End music)
He was out of breath, but at least he wasn't alone. Looking to the cave in he whistles. "Nice job by the way." He frowns as he looks around him in the Throne Room and spies Sailor Moon ... That isn't right, he spies Princess Serenity surrounded by the inner senshi. Only they're all down, and they are definatley dead. He winces and begins to slowly walk forward his sword held at the ready.
His armored boots click on the floor as he slowly begins to walk toward the sad scene. Sailor Jupiter had been known to him, the two had thrown more than one lightning bolt at somebody or karate kicked a bad guy in the face. All of the he knew he had fought beside, hell, he may even have RIED beside on more than one occassion. Yet, here they were, fallen angels.
He quickly supressed a tear and wiped the errant one with his free hand and squared his shoulders. If there was one thing his memory had tought him, now was for the living. Later was when you mourned. With that thought he began to once again walk toward Princess Serenity, but then she makes her proclaimation and he has to shield his eyes from the sudden bright light. When it clears he smiles and with that same free hand has to wipe another tear away. One of reliefe, of joy, of happiness. They had defeated the darkness, and the darkness had LOST. It was one for the good guys. He sniffs once and looks to Ladybug. "Ice shard. Pretty sure." Sniff. "Also. One shouldn't cry in the Antartic. Freezes."
He sniffles again.
<Pose Tracker> Ladybug [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.
The North Pole is a brutal cold for a little Ladybug to find herself in. As she sprints down another twisted hallway, she finds herself missing the Akuma of Tokyo.
The Akuma, at their heart, are transformed humans. Beryl's army of youma are very much inhuman, and the discrepancies cut like razors. In most of her fights, Ladybug could count on human foibles, a temper blown by a clever quip. In most of her fights, she could plan around human mercy, counting on some situation where the enemy might hold back. In most of her fights, she has no need or reason to go for the kill.
This is nothing like most of her fights, and she has a few injuries already from youma that were down but not dust.
Springing off a saber-fanged scaled ape-like monster, Ladybug reaches out to catch hold of one of the macabre sculptings that adorn these darkened halls. There's only a moment for breath, and her odds of pulling that stunt again are growing dimmer by the moment. One hallway is as dismal and terrific as another here, and dead-ends are growing increasingly common and dangerously literal. Half a dozen in all, advancing cautiously towards the pair of them.
A pair, but not the one she might be used to. The young lady in the red-and-black bodysuit glances to her partner of the hour, a literal knight in shining armor. His sword flashes out once, twice, thrice - but the youma seem to have learned how to avoid the lightning at a distance. Probably survivors from their little glacier jaunt on the way in. Once one gets to sprinting distance, Lancelot might be in serious danger...but if not for his flashy storm, that group would be up the wall toward her already.
For a moment, she whispers to her yo-yo. "Tikki, I love you dearly, but a yo-yo is feeling distinctly inadequate for something like this!" The ape below - midway through punching its claws into the wall to scale upward - looks up in confusion for a moment.
At some point she might realize she's been making all her plans with her partner-of-the-day in French. She hasn't noticed yet, but most youma not knowing the tongue has certainly helped.
Ignoring the monster for a moment, she calls out to Lancelot. "Get ready - I need your brightest flash there and there, as soon as I sweep you off your feet!" She whips out her yo-yo with as much strength as she can, rebounding it off a youma's head to smash into the stone on either side of the little cul-de-sac, tugging it up at last to hook the fang of a gargoyle.
And then she leaps. Into open air, claws snatching at her, to grab Lancelot and swing over the monsters' heads. Arondight shines, and more potent bolts smash into the spots on the wall she marked - but a long tail catches her leg, sending her tumbling. With a wince, she closes her eyes as her luck has finally run out -
And opens them, finding herself in a princess carry in the knight's arms. Behind them, the youma turn just in time to see the dead-end cave in, making that part of this fortress literal after all. Above her, Lancelot smiles. "Well, my lady, might I escort you to our next destination?"
"Is it sad that I can think of worse date nights?" She does push off to stand on her feet, resting a hand against the wall. "We just need snacks and something better to use against these monsters. What I wouldn't give for a runaway ice cream truck right now..."
There's little poise as Ladybug staggers through the door into the final chamber. Her hair hangs loose on one side, her right hairtie having been lost to a fang that got far too close for comfort, and she has an arm wrapped around her side. Determination might carry her through a fight to come, but she'd sorely hope for a Lucky Charm that didn't require her to run around too much.
The sight she sees is not a hopeful one at first glance, because the first thing she sees is how many fallen bodies there are. Her first fear is that Beryl won, and is about to win again - but the expected death-magic doesn't come, and slowly she realizes more of the tableau before her.
Sailor Moon. Usagi Tsukino. Pyrrhically victorious, having lost her closest friends, clutching a crystal to her heart. Ladybug - Marinette can't move, feeling her heart break in sympathy for what stands before her...
Then there is a whisper. A wish and a prayer. Light.
Beautiful, triumphant light.
"Senpai..." Memories rise, unbidden, of a sheepish unmasking and a childish call of solidarity. Even now, she's not sure how much she can call this young woman an equal and how much she's an example to live up to, but...
"You really are something else. Juuban's definitely gotta be proud of you." There's still tears in her eyes, but they have a flavour that matches her grin, and Ladybug gives a proud thumbs up before starting to stagger forward.
Lancelot does get one last smile as she moves forward, not even bothering to try to hide her emotions. "Oh, is that so? I fear it's contagious."
<Pose Tracker> La Sirene des Opales [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed. <SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRKJiM9Njr8
There's nothing easy about growing up. It is not made easier even if you are a magical queen, or at least, want to be.
Devils and demons and even the dread Cardiax worm have made their appearances in Tokyo. It has been tiring, and the respites have had a certain grimness to them even if they are seen differently in the moment. Still, there were joys. A princess of the moon. A prince, though abducted. A darkling dream... and a dark mirroring.
Being twinned in the mirror was peculiar for la Sirene des Opales, the shining particolored guardian of sorrow and tears. Even now her throat hurts a little, though of course it is the merest shadow of what she avoided with the aid of her dear Meduse. But Meduse and Batiste stayed in Tokyo. Only those with thick fur or the aid of magic - or folly - or both would brave the depths of the Arctic.
Up here, they use stone. Immaculate.
The shining opal-light of her gown and her sweeping hands has been an orchestra of motion. La Sirene has never been the swiftest mover but she has kept the pace. She has not spoken much - beyond some clasping and kissing of hands on the part of Madoka, and the same if with a little more self depreciating laughter for Homura - before the translation. Now they are here in the throes of everything.
She has marched forwards. Her bursts and blasts and the invocation of LES MYSTERES have pressed back against the youma. Not easily, no - they fight like demons mated with wolverines - but stagger them enough, stay with your friends.
Why did I ever want to do this alone? la Sirene has wondered, not for the first time. Then Sourisi is struck - la Sirene turns to look at her - but the Miraculous recovers with apt swiftness. Then she leaps forwards for -
no, la Sirene thinks, and she leaps, not for the youma but for Sourisi. "Aaaah!" she cries out, vaulting upwards and suddenly wrapping her arms round Sourisi, pressed against her from behind. Her fingers contort into mudras as she says, "Seven Secret Colors -"
Strange lights in hues never seen on this world roll out from around her, like a visible ripple in the surface of a bell's metal. They don't hurt to look at. The incoming blast smashes through one, two, three, four - attenuates into two smaller bursts of flickering light - five - now into three - six - two of them fade into inky splots -
With a sound like breaking crystal the burst strikes la Sirene in the side. Attenuated as it is, it still hurts enough for her to cry out - but she lands, sets Sourisi down, and breathes out. "Be careful!" she says, as her left hand rises. Fingers crook again and she looks that way. "Akemin please, make haste! --Les Mysteres--"
The sight of the senshi makes la Sirene's eyes spill over. Her mask, the thin black silk already imperiled by the wind, slides downwards; she tears it off. She doesn't answer Sourisi as she looks towards the dreadful woman in the shining shimmering flames of purification -
A witty rejoinder seems useless.
All there is is sorrow. For a moment she is overcome. Light rises...
But it's not THAT light, la Sirene thinks. It's warming her - it's like the day sky glow, not -
They stand anew.
La Sirene feels a delicious sensation. One of the great pay-offs for spending so much time in the depths is just How HIGH *YOU* **CAN** ***RISE*** --
La Sirene des Opales jumps up and down once, twice, clapping her hands. She lands heavily, winces as she feels the blow against her side, and then turns towards the others. "Do you see it. Oh! Oh, oh it happened - there can't be any mistake - will you excuse me, darling Sourisi, if I say that it may be..."
La Sirene bites on her lower lip to stop herself. She recovers herself, tossing back her long black hair as the wordplay - that will-to-laugh - fades enough... to recover herself.
<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed. <SoundTracker> Sis Puella Magica! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btmSuNcxiIU
It takes approximately half a minute for Homura and Madoka to become separated from Mami and Sayaka. After a long moment of scanning the darkness and blinding light, the howling winds, the sheets of aerial ice -- hand shading her eyes completely without effect, upper body thrust over her hips and turning at the waist -- she ever so briefly closes her eyes.
It might be in prayer. It is a still, quiet moment of grief and fear, and she almost dies when a monster comes out of nowhere to eat a young girl worrying about her friends.
But she doesn't, because of Homura's heroism, and afterwards when her eyes snap open, they're very serious. Level. Set.
"Don't worry, Homura-chan," she says warmly -- because one of those things about Madoka is that even at her most serious, she is also at her most warm -- "I'll make a light! That way they'll be able to find us, no matter what."
The rose at the tip of her staff unfurls into full bloom.
Its magenta flame is always dramatic, but now it is a brilliant star in the false night.
And then more stars begin to fall. Arrow after arrow sprout in the chests, the arms, the throats of youma after youma. Step after step she advances. A thin sheen of sweat quickly coats her skin, freezes instantly, and crackles away.
This happens over and over and over -- but the roseate light never wavers.
La Sirene and Sourisi know Madoka from, by now, almost a year of battles, and not a few school events, shopping trips, maybe the occasional sleepover. She is a stalwart and cheerful companion; an equally thoughtful and silly friend. But being in a great battle together is a whole new way to know somebody.
They learn that she is the likeliest of the group to be watching their backs -- specifically their backs, rotating on a chunky heel to survey the path they've only just cleared. (Homura knows this move from Witch-hunting, and that one time familiars got the jump on them from behind. Ever since...)
They learn that she believes in stopping to soothe pain -- and, if they hadn't encountered it before, that she is capable of healing, and does so generously, unstintingly. "Ah, well," she pants at one point after banishing a stinging scratch into a tender line of pale new skin, reading the question in someone's eyes, "I guess it's 'cause I wished to fix a save a kitty?" They learn that Madoka heals by applying that same undying roseate flame, closing her bow back up into a staff for just a moment so she can gently tap the offending wound. It feels warm and cheery as a campfire -- which is extra precious in this place.
They learn that she is an indefatigable hypocrite when it comes to her own suffering. But then, she's a Puella Magi. They've always been in the upper echelons of pain resistance, when it comes to magical girls.
They learn that she will jump in the line of fire for them, over and over and over again.
It's just who she is.
And they learn that when she promises to follow through, she will.
"NOW, HOMURA-CHAN!" Madoka shouts, after Sourisi calls for them, then Norin, too --
Madoka is so relieved to see Sayaka and Mami -- and Usagi and Rei, for that matter -- that she's still trailing pink sparkles as she sprints across the distance between them.
"Thank goodness," she weeps openly. "I'm so glad. I'm so glad."
<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed. <SoundTracker> Combat Soundtrack - GUNS GOLD GIRLS https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGyseZ43EZY
Her mistake was to yank on the sword, rather than just summon a new one. It sticks, driven through both the torso of a foe and the ice beneath, and though Sayaka gives up on it after two pulls, it's too late. By the time she stands up straight and draws a new sword from her cape, the first youma is already upon her.
A power cable wraps Sayaka swordarm as a youma made out of a home PC rams into Sayaka, grappling her and trying to knock her over, where the advantage of numbers will quickly overwhelm the Puella Magi. Sayaka backpedals to avoid that, then, with a groan of strain, reverses momentum, shoving the PC youma faster and faster until, together, they smash through the mass of youma behind.
Kicking the PC youma in the chest, Sayaka drives her away, swivelling her wrist to free her sword. Their combined impact drove the youma apart, which means they now surround Sayaka. With a shout, Sayaka lifts her sword for a downward strike on the reeling home computer before her, but before she swings, the youma goes crosseyed, a musket ball having ripped through its forehead.
Grinning, Sayaka rounds on her nearest attacker, parrying a heavy blow from an iron bar. That youma drops before Sayaka can riposte, shot through the chest. As she spins to decapitate a third youma charging from behind, that one, too, spins from the impact of a musket shot, falling before it reaches Sayaka. A fourth, fifth and sixth get riddled by a large volley (multiple muskets surely). As Sayaka turns to her last foe, she hesitates, sword at the ready, not sure if she should bother at this point. Just when she decides to go for it, the youma gets shot in the leg, causing her to hesitate, doing a sort of double-take with her sword where it bobs up and down indecisively. As she decides again to try, the youma gets shot three more times.
Turning around, Sayaka puts her fists on her hips as she casts a look of exasperation at Mami. She can't hold it for more than a second before she cants her hips and her lips both, though, revealing the admiration beneath. "I feel like the dog in, whatzitcalled, Duck Hunt," she calls back.
Sayaka's head rocks forward suddenly, struck by a shattering ball of glass. Dazed but not badly wounded, Sayaka yelps as she zig-zags to dodge a few more. Turning, Sayaka feels her blood run cold as a sea of youma pours from the depths of Beryl's fortress. Even from a distance, one stands out; a heavily armored demon, twelve feet tall, carrying a cannon on its shoulder. In the far rear of the army, it will be hard to reach, but the threat is obvious. Sayaka backs away slowly as she watches the great brute load her cannon and lift the burdensome weapon onto her shoulder.
A fiery metal ball sails towards the magical girls... Mami, in particular. Sayaka sets off at a sprint back towards her, but it's too far; Mami will have to deal with this on her own. When the cannonball strikes the ice, it smashes a crater, sizzling as the ice quenches its heat rapidly. Facing an impromptu palisade of ice all of a sudden, Sayaka gets an idea.
With an athletic vault, Sayaka clears the palisade, then spins, tossing a fan of swords through it rapidly. Now approaching youma have to face a tiny fort of ice with blades sticking out of it. Not a bad way to receive a charge.
"Senpai, over here!" Sayaka calls, before correcting, "I mean, Mami-san!" The fort is about chest-height for Sayaka. As the sea of youma begins to pour across it, some of those in the front try to slow down to avoid the swords, only to be crammed into them by the weight of those behind. This makes combat easy for about thirty seconds, before the swords end up padded by dead youma, and others start climbing. Sayaka starts defending the palisade, hacking youma off at the ankle as they clamber over, or rapidly dueling those that get over, skewering them to the ground. It would be better for Sayaka and Mami to retreat... but worse for the others. If someone can even briefly hold the line...
But all the while, the cannon youma keeps firing. Its massive cannonballs shatter barriers put up by more mystically inclined magical girls, and sow chaos among those in the rear trying to shoot at range or use magic. Sayaka rams forehead into a wounded youma's nose to knock it cold, then stands, scratched up, bruised, and tattered, to watch the intractable foe reload once again.
"Mami-san," she says, widening her stance yet again to shield the blonde. Her sapphire eyes are on the cannon... hopelessly distant, like artillery. Her voice holds a seriousness that few at Ohtori would believe existed in Sayaka Miki. "Can you hit it from this far?"
<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
It is bitterly cold... But the wide, wide caverns are good for a ranged combatant like Mami Tomoe. But that doesn't mean it's all gone well--separated in the chaos, Mami can't find Madoka or Homura anywhere. There's a fierce knot of worry in her stomach, but if there's anyone can trust--she has to tell herself that it's Madoka.
...But with Sayaka, she's not alone--and she's practiced with her, too. Together, they can reach the others.
With the first few youma converging on Sayaka as she charges forward, Mami takes the opportunity to set up her next volley, pulling rifles and jabbing them into the ground with extraordinary speed, nearly in silence. The home computer ahead, she lines up in her sights--
Another, bang. Mami keeps firing, sometimes one at a time, sometimes six at a time, and none of them are easy, but with their attention on Sayaka Mami can bring her power to bear. ...At first, anyway.
Sayaka looks back to her, and Mami quirks a smile, "...I should probably understand that reference--"
Her quipping is cut off abrubtly as the shattered ball of glass erupts, and Mami too has to dodge the next few, sprinting to the side towards a rocky outcropping that will serve briefly as cover. She looks ahead, to the sea of youma, to the great armored demon with such a cannon...
There's no time to move. Mami throws out her hands and a sphere of ribbons erupts around her, starting at the bottom and whirling, twirling upward as a shield. The entire thing is hit full bore by the flaming projectile, and sails backwards, burning up as Mami hits the ground and rolls--but is burned, not shattered. But Sayaka has an idea, and Mami looks up--"Good thinking!" she calls, and leaps up to run forward. This time Mami can dodge some of the next, aware that they're coming, and she reaches Sayaka in time, stands behind her with a little exhalation. "...From this far..."
Mami sets her jaw. "Yes. But i'll need your help."
Mami breathes, and then in her hands are ribbons to weave forward; occasionally, Sayaka will have seen her conjure different guns from her standard; most often the great Tiro Finale, but other variants as well. This one is not so large as that--but it is longer than her usual rifle, as well as wider. It is beautiful, silver and gold, and Mami stabilizes her stance, bringing it forward to rest the barrel on Sayaka's shoulder. This close, in this much cold, they can sense each other by mere warmth alone; Mami's breath fogs forward, mist before it reaches Sayaka's back as the veteran leans down over her gun, aiming carefully, ever carefully.
"Sayaka-chan," she murmurs. "Just a little..."
BANG. The shot rockets forward for the great demon ahead, center mass, an eruption of golden light that bores a hole through armor and flesh alike.
But even that is not the end. There are more; Mami breathes in, and whirls to start conjuring more guns. "If you can keep the rest off of me," Mami says, "Then we can do this."
By now the bizarre crystal has transformed this place into a thing of her nightmares. But if they stop... Then the others will deal with even more.
Here, Mami steps into the great chamber at the center of the Labyrinth, Sayaka at her side. The golden Puella Magi is battered and tired, but unbroken; her black half-gloves bear the residue of countless shots against so, so many youma. But the battle seems to have ended before she can finish--
Mami looks with wide eyes at the silver light engulfing Queen Beryl, at the smoke... at the death of an ancient Queen. A last, tired victory, a hatred beyond mortality...
Mami looks down, and cannot help but see Beryl's face, and remember--it is always different when their foe is a living, breathing being, evil or otherwise--so different from Witches that have nothing in common at all with the girls who fight them.
How can she focus only on that with Usagi present, though? Mami looks up to her younger friend, reaches for Sayaka's hand as she watches solemnly. She is alone--not alone now, not with all of them, and yet...
What comfort would it be, if Mami lost Madoka and still had others? Homura, Eri... Sayaka? All of them are friends, and yet which are the ones she sees every day?
So it is with surprise that Mami watches Serenity. The light comes, and Mami too can't help but think of times with Usagi, with her protectors...
As the light clears, Mami is whole; she is not exhausted, is not wounded from her passage, is bright and vibrant again as she looks at four girls around Usagi who were not there, but should have been there. "...She..."
Mami smiles to the girl next to her, looks around for the others who have arrived, for two precious faces, a partner and a student, and others. "It's over," she says, laughing happily despite herself. "I can't believe it. I never imagined..."
For a girl who has lived and breathed magic for years, to see a true miracle never loses its shine. She is careful of wishes, careful of everything like them, and yet...
This is right.
Mami spots a shock of pink and then--Forget just squeezing a hand; in suddenly uncontainable joy, Mami shifts and in an instant her arms are around Sayaka, a little hop closing the distance to give the other Puella Magi the hug that she's usually too restrained to make happen, practically aglow with cheer. "We all--!" If Sayaka doesn't get her footing then Mami will swing around with the taller girl, whirling with relief and happiness and amazement all, reaching out a hand as she pauses only briefly to bring Madoka close, too.
<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
Sayaka had been a Sailor Moon fan. When she found out Madoka was basically Sailor Madoka, the fandom had transferred, and then spread out as she met more and more magical girls. But there is something cutting about seeing the hero from Sayaka's carefree school days broken and weeping. She feels tears start to fill her own eyes.
Making brief eye contact with Madoka and Homura as she catches sight of them, Sayaka feels too burdened by the grief in the air to even nod at them. It doesn't much matter; the pain in her eyes conveys more than a nod ever could.
Feeling Mami's eyes on her, Sayaka looks down at her partway, feeling as though it would be somehow profane to turn her face away fully from Sailor Moon at this moment. But when Mami's hand seeks hers, Sayaka's heart catches, and suddenly it is Mami's grief she feels more keenly than her own. To be sought for comfort at a moment like this is sacred, and Sayaka wants it too suddenly, wants to feel this together. Gently wrapping Mami's black half-glove with her full white one, she squeezes her hand, leaning her shoulder into the blonde's. With her free hand, she pushes tears with the base of her hand, sniffling.
She scarcely dares to breathe, as the Princess brings impossible hope in the cold dark.
An uncontrollable laugh of joy bubbles from Sayaka's tearful throat. "No way..." she agrees with Mami. "It's so per--"
Mami is embracing her tightly. "fe-fe-fe-fe," Sayaka stammers, losing coherence as she blushes. As they twirl and come to a stop, though, she's gotten ahold of herself. This is the time, right? They are super close right now, and Sayaka's hugging her, and Mami's hugging Sayaka, and the credits are about to roll...
Sayaka is sweating bullets in the North Pole. She'd just have to duck down a tiny bit and close her eyes...
OH THANK GOD MADOKA. PERFECT TIMING.
Grateful for the save, Sayaka giggles, collapsing into a hug with her best friend as well, now, putting her forehead to both of theirs.
<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
Homura sticks closest to Madoka's side, always, and so she ends up by her best friend's side when the thundrous cold closes in around them. She calls after Mami and Sayaka, but arctic winds snatch the names from her mouth and swallow them up. "Kaname-san..." The time mage clenches a small pale fist as she sees the closing of pink eyes. She'll keep Madoka safe, somehow.
"Eeeyahhh!" A silvery screech sounds out above the howl of arctic wind and the girl's own scream. Her shield lodges in the gnashing jaws of a wolf-reptilian beast, because she's thrown her own left arm into its mouth rather than let it bite Madoka. "Aaaaa....!" Its horrid breath washes over Homura, and she keeps yelling but she's also reaching her other hand into its mouth--
--into her shield--
--and something screams fire right down the monster's slimy throat. The beast topples with smoke belching from its maw, and Homura's left with a red-streaked arm and a discharged canister of Roman Candles. She stares at Madoka with eyes that reflect the color of a sunset, and her shaking subsides to feel the warmth of those words and the light of a soul-kindled star.
"I'm not worried, Kaname-san," she says, and Homura means it amidst all this terror. She follows Madoka's lead, follows her light, and she is always there whenever Madoka needs saving.
The horror has no end, and Homura can never quite catch her breath, nor find the space between dodging youma claws to grieve the senshi who have fallen -- bright and beautiful lives, lost in the dark. She fights on with tears smearing up her glasses lenses and new pains in her frail heart. Her fits easily into Nori's and clasps tight, revealing ice-nipped fingers that warm in her grip -- Homura has ever had poor circulation, she'd know, but this is unusually cold for her. Every time, she is grateful.
It takes a good half minute just for Homura to pull her prepared munitions from her shield; tt took days for her to put it all together. Each packet is comprised of a series of thin steel cables rigged into a tow cable, which is in turn fastened to mortar tubes as long as her skinny arms. They have names on the side like "EXCALIBUR STORM DELUXE" and "STARBURST SUNSET" and "THE BIG FINALE, MK III", and they all have nice long wicks.
"Sourisi-san, La Sirene, we're almost ready! Just- just hang in there!" Homura winces for the nasty fall Sourisi took, but doesn't let sympathy slow her down -- nor her awe at the unquenchable beauty of Les Mysteres. She figures they both might prefer that.
Each packet is earmarked for a rose-pink arrow, and each is ready to rain shrieking sparkling doom down upon the monstrous hordes. Homura shields a purple lighter from the arctic wind and looks up at Madoka. "Let's do it, Kaname-san!" Her mouth is a grim little line, which looks very out of place on her -- she's such a soft girl, really. But, beneath the meekness: determination.
She lights each one as its arrow gets nocked and sticks close to Madoka and Sourisi and La Sirene after. Pyrotechnics designed to cheer instead slay, burning swaths in the monstrous army.
New tears, happy ones, cause new smears on Homura's glasses but she hardly notices. She's running after her best friend, braids flapping; she's casting a sidelong happy smile at La Sirene, giving Sourisi a little cheer.
Madoka was right -- they didn't need to worry at all. Everyone is okay. Everyone is okay, and there they all are!
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
-=-= Ingress Battle -=-=
Kasagami's coat is tight around her shoulders, the tall young woman shivering even as hard boots beat a war path. Hair flutters as she steps aside from the falling and dissipating body of yet another youma that's crossed the path of Knight, Shield Guardian, and Would-Be King. Her body's on autopilot, something approaching a certain kind of freedom building up in Kasagami's heart as she slices again. Step. To the side in a flash, grip, turn, cut.
But not peace. The rigors of being President had taken their toll on Kasagami enough, nevermind the Dueling Games' intrigues, and the occasional outing where youma or Witches interceded. The old memory of that brief hour where the DD girls had stolen so much from everyone feels fresh during their fight inwards. And of the night she spent apologing to her Uncle the day after. Or the aftermath of the Garden of Time, of hours spent sweeping a pair of graves and pouring out a god-awful bottle of whiskey. Her parents never had good taste.
Her sword's strikes, even with every injury she's taken in the long, each held a certain amount of vengeance. A little spite, purpose, arms increasingly heavy but the girl flowing and moving with grace despite. Always for what would be vitals on a human, or simply to destroy. Her winter clothes over her uniform are tattered, one sleeve of her coat is missing, and her right arm has seen far too many sharp claws and the end of an evil vacuume cleaner that tried to chew it up.
Lucky her for bandages and Fuu's healing.
And lucky her for her friends. Kasagami has called on every ounce of steel in her heart thus far, all of the advice of her Father when confronted with danger and the practical applications her Mother drilled into her with long mornings outside or long nights in the dojo. It's not been a battle she's enjoyed. This is no fight for pride or honor or entertainment or World Revolution. This is a war. Kassie has fought like it thus far.
She's in one piece thanks to the ministrations and calming wisdom of the Wind Knight. The fear and seared-in memories have been pushed aside, if not still in the dark corner of her heart, thanks to the encouragement and purity of Steven's good nature. As the flames lick and burst, sparks threatening to catch away from the boy's protection, she draws one last breath. "Steve-kun...you're right. We have people still waiting for us. I..." Teeth grit. She never fully grasped it, but the young man is so brave.
"I will not subject those I care for to a life of nightmares by falling here! Wind Knight-chan!" She'd whipped off her coat's remains, that much more momentary protection before it's toast. She's a flash towards the thing of iron and fire.
It's strong. Her blade carves through fire as her heart stops for long moments. Only once a full half of her nodachi's length is buried straight into the center of the creature's body does she feel the heat on her now half-exposed back. Tears fall, she chokes back pain and lets out words.
"Bow to the strength of knights and royalty joined in friendship and purpose, monster." Her family sword's image is reflected upon itself a dozen times, the Duelist unmoving as she holds the creature still.
-=-= The Miracle -=-=
Kasagami has to catch herself with the hilt of her sword as she forces herself to stay upright. Her eyes cast to the scene of the Princess, and her fallen friends. She blinks, and all of her own injuries are nothing against the deep well of sorrow rising in her chest. The genius and collected Mercury, in repose and unable to be teased. The graceful and aggressive Mars, fallen and taken from their petty social games she's so enjoyed. Two people she's respected so much, and might even have called friends.
"Hey...genius, come on, this is no time to try out pranks! Mars, come on, you still owe me dinner! Right...?" It can't be. Not more.
The Princess denies it, and the light of the Ginzuishou shines. Hope and love fills her. The 'crybaby' girl from Juuban who turned out to be a Princess of the Moon actually did it. Her knees give out. Tears fall in streams, the light of that miracle sparkling within each drop. "How..." is her whispered question as she's struck numb by a wave of relief. Her arm points straight while her heart hammers in her chest. The point of her sword trembles in the air as she finds her voice through gritted teeth.
"How DARE you, Sailor Mars! Who gave you permission to...to worry me like that!? I am going to make sure you have detention after all of this, understand!?" The young woman's voice cracks, there's joy filling her voice with every syllable, and she's doing an awful job of being the image of a Student Councilor right now.
"And don't even get me started on you, Sailor Moon!" For all of her yelling, her eyes scream 'thank you'.
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.
Leading up --
There's no rest for the weary, as the saying goes in one version - and in contradiction of the other version, the wicked aren't even *trying* to take it easy. Never mind 'monsters of the week'; it seems like there's a new incident every day. Or at least that's what it feels like to the Magic Knight of Wind - and today has been no exception.
Running Battle In the Tunnels --
Having been on the Arthra when it was shot down, and remembering far too well the Dark Kingdom's attempt to harvest the life-force from everyone in Tokyo, there's pretty much *nothing* to stop Fuu from coming along on this mission. Even being separated from her fellow Magic Knights didn't put a dent in her determination; the Wind Knight just joined up with the closest group she could find - that being Steven and Kasagami - and proceeded to help them carve their own path through the Dark Kingdom's forces with bow, blade, and magic, shifting readily between support and offense as the need presents itself.
Such as now.
"Emerald Cyclone!!" the Magic Knight of Wind calls out, her magical gale tearing into the monster of fire and steel, yet so tightly controlled that the spell's edge merely tousles Kasagami's hair like a playful (if chilly) breeze. Fuu is ready with her own sword, just in case that combination wasn't enough ...
But it looks like that might have been it. For now, anyway. "They aren't holding anything back, are they? Hold still a moment, Kasagami-san ... Winds of Healing!" she intones, and her healing magic billows forth, a balmy, soothing breeze caressing Kasagami and Steven, mending their injuries so that the group can push onwards at something more like their full strength.
Witnessing a Miracle --
They reach the heart of darkness, and their eyes are opened to light at the end of all the tunnels. It's the warm light of the Ginzuishou's miracle that quickens the Wind Knight's steps, and a relieved, joyful smile touches her face as she sees everyone else gathered. "Thank goodness," she says quietly, her gaze skimming over everyone else who's there, and it is literally *everyone* who she knew was on this mission. Also some who she didn't 'know' but had caught sight of during the preparations and the mass transport. And, of course, her fellow Magic Knights. She doesn't run over to greet Hikaru and Umi, but smiles, bowing her head towards both of them, and if she gets the chance, she'll make her way over to her closest allies. She's currently a little too preoccupied making sure that everyone who's accounted for is also in decent shape.
They did it. They really did it ... and even if there were some losses, those losses didn't stick. For that, she is intensely grateful.
<Pose Tracker> Princess Mars [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
Miracles are strange little things.
Rei was dead; Rei has never been dead. She stands at Princess Serenity's side and she is not quite Sailor Mars, not really. In a sleek red dress, ribbon tied about her neck and necklace nestled there, Princess Mars is hale and whole.
Long and long ago Mars swore protection to the Moon, a planet so like the Earth it orbited but red, so red, angry and dry and possessed of a desert's determination. And like the arid scrublands of her home she persisted, long and long, carried by a wish to the present day.
But it is not just a promise kept so long ago which brings her here.
It's all the little promises, from each day in Tokyo, not a crystalline thing but one made of torii gates and skyscrapers and a route between schools with every shortcut known. Challenges and clashes, and those embarrassing little moments of genuineness.
Rei could have become anyone.
With Usagi, she became happy.
"Princess Serenity," she says, and Princess Mars smiles and Rei smiles, and she would not admit that her throat is a little choked up. Smiling through the emotion, she reaches out for her hand, squeezes it gently in hers. "... you did it."
There is so much she could have done. She kept going; she defeated Beryl; she didn't give up on them. Oh, she didn't even give up on Rei, quarrelsome difficult Rei.
And there is the pride of a Princess guard, there; but there is gratitude, too, from a girl who is becoming so much.
They're okay. Every one of them is okay, Makoto and Minako and Ami and Rei, and it's thanks to her.
Her cheeks colour in response to whispered words, and it is Rei's will which murmurs in turn: "... Usagi." Her name is yobisute.
She squeezes her hand once more before that hand - it is bare, now, not gloved in the manner of the Senshi - drops to her side again, and Princess Mars turns to see everyone who has come. Steven Universe, the bravest little boy. Sourisi, ever-agile in wit and wend. Lancelot, a knight whose thunder cannot help but remind her of Jupiter's own. Ladybug, in all her ingenuity. La Sirene des Opales, who strives no matter the weight of their strife. The Wind Knight, steady in her wisdom. All the Puella Magi: Madoka, that gentle girl who she came to know through Usagi's friendship. Homura, who has always shadowed her with trembling determination. Mami and Sayaka, who work so well together. And, of course...
Her hand rises to hide her smile, as Kasagami points her sword. "Oh, no," she says, and she cannot hide her grin, "anything but that." Worrying about detention in a place like this - there's something about it which is delightful.
She shakes her head, and her smile remains as she lowers her hand. "Everyone... it is good to see you."
<Pose Tracker> Queen Beryl [None] has posed. <SoundTracker> Danger Lurks https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJd2QJQM7sI
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 crystal 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, in most timelines, Beryl knew a spell to 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 an unfamiliar feeling -- 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.
She extends her gigantic palm -- and that ending rushes to meet the girls.
COMBAT: Queen Beryl transforms into Queen Metallia! COMBAT: FINISHER! Queen Metallia has used Dark Star on Princess Serenity.
<Pose Tracker> The Maiden of Dreams [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.
A cluster of stars fall from the sky to hover between the magical girls and Queen Metallia.
They had been banished long before Metallia; she knows them not.
But the magical girls do -- they last saw them in Hokkaido...
...when, then as now, lines of white starlight connected the rainbow of seven dots until she stands among them once more.
The Maiden of Dreams.
She's even more whole than she was at the top of that snowy mountain. There, once they helped her regain who she was, her silhouette was just that; there were no details. Just a sense of a person.
Now it's the opposite; there is too much of her to take in all at once. She is TOO MANY people. In the sleeping hearts of everyone, where she belongs. Any single detail blurs into ten.
Her voice isn't generic, though. It is recognizable from December, and gloriously, gloriously sane.
If a little loud, fast, and intense. After all, it has to reach the group before Metallia's blast does.
"Don't give up! Remember what you're fighting for! Remember your dreams -- and I'll help summon your true power!"
She separates back into something more abstract as the seven stars spin into a circle -- then spin faster, becoming something like a lens.
Or a scope.
The Maiden still has a voice, though.
"Reach out your hands -- and open your hearts!"
COMBAT: Princess Serenity counters Queen Metallia's Dark Star with What Dreams May Come, initiating a BEAMWAR! Please see +help beamwar for further information.
BEAMWAR! Princess Serenity and Queen Metallia's attacks collide. Queen Metallia has the advantage! BEAMWAR! Now accepting mana bids for the first of three rounds! Now accepting new BEAMWAR entrants in this round only! BEAMWAR! Lancelot adds his What Dreams May Come to Princess Serenity's BEAMWAR! BEAMWAR! Princess Mars adds her What Dreams May Come to Princess Serenity's BEAMWAR! BEAMWAR! Sourisi adds her What Dreams May Come to Princess Serenity's BEAMWAR! BEAMWAR! Madoka Kaname adds her What Dreams May Come to Princess Serenity's BEAMWAR! BEAMWAR! Homura Akemi adds her What Dreams May Come to Princess Serenity's BEAMWAR! BEAMWAR! La Sirene des Opales adds her What Dreams May Come to Princess Serenity's BEAMWAR! BEAMWAR! Ladybug adds her What Dreams May Come to Princess Serenity's BEAMWAR! BEAMWAR! Steven Universe adds his What Dreams May Come to Princess Serenity's BEAMWAR! BEAMWAR! Fuu Hououji adds her What Dreams May Come to Princess Serenity's BEAMWAR! BEAMWAR! Mami Tomoe adds her What Dreams May Come to Princess Serenity's BEAMWAR! BEAMWAR! Kasagami Araki adds her What Dreams May Come to Princess Serenity's BEAMWAR! BEAMWAR! Sayaka Miki adds her What Dreams May Come to Princess Serenity's BEAMWAR!
<Pose Tracker> Ladybug [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.
Hope so quickly becomes despair.
Ladybug's steps were slow, but her smile bright. Injuries of the body would heal, in time; the joy of seeing friends reunited was the balm to prevent a scar of permanent heartbreak. Each step forward toward the tableau let peace settle back in to supplant all the fear and panic of past hours.
Then Metallia rose, and all hope was lost.
Darkness born through fire and ice, the shadow of the sun and moon, Metallia comes forth and unleashes the end. Faced with that dark finale, all Marinette can do is let her hands fall limp - there's no trick in her bag that can tie a neat bow around something like this. No charm could be the key to a convoluted scheme to get around this shadow. There's nothing left.
Her luck has run out.
But - there's starlight. A familiar light - blinding now in its raw existence - and a comforting if hurried voice. The stars swirl, dance before them all, and become guidance for inner power.
Ladybug looks down at her gloved hand for a heartbeat, maybe two. What is she fighting for, other than her own pride? Friends, and family, and loves that might one day be. As she thinks of them...
"...it's warm. After this cold dark night, we could all use a little warmth, couldn't we?" Thinking of her home, Marinette holds Ladybug's hand to her heart. On the wind, one could almost imagine the smell of freshly baked bread...
...and Ladybug opens her eyes to what might be a new morning after all, bathed in crimson light.
Then like many new mornings, she realizes that she has absolutely no time to dwell, and flings out her hand in a near-panic. "We've got too much to care about to just give into hate!" Chaotic, a storm of light pours from Ladybug to join the general torrent!
BEAMWAR! Ladybug has placed her bid! Sayaka Miki, Kasagami Araki, Mami Tomoe, Fuu Hououji, Steven Universe, La Sirene des Opales, Homura Akemi, Madoka Kaname, Sourisi, Princess Mars, Lancelot, Princess Serenity, and Queen Metallia still need to bid!
<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
In the midst of great hope... Of course, that's when it comes. When everything seemed at its best, it changes. When the darkness comes, Mami remembers all the times in her life that hope has turned to despair, all the curses that she kept at bay hanging onto hope and purpose. They cast such a grand shadow over her... and even that is nothing when compared to what looms before them. Mami's eyes widen, and she stares up, upward, unable even to focus on what might have come of shattering in favor of... this. The voice comes; the voice is one that Mami has heard before. The sense of such an ancient thing that she is so small before is overwhelming; what was a woman is now... something else. That hateful laugh, the darkness that rushes forward--
A faint noise escapes the back of Mami's throat as she stares, and and the weight of the long battles settles onto her shoulders. She can only inch closer to the girls beside her, pink and blue both. It is not all of them. And yet...
And yet, the star falls again; a cluster, hovering forward, and there stands a familiar force despite vision being too hard, too incredible. Dreams. The dreams of December, when Mami Tomoe met a being so ancient, who had worked so hard, and for so long. That voice, and all the hearts she touches bringing with her--
"...Yes," Mami says, and she is able to do more than shake--she breathes in, and concentrates. What she's fighting for, and her dreams? Those are the very same. More than most, Mami Tomoe has the incredible fortune to be living her dream every single day, to have what she has wanted for so long, what she cried alone over for years. Her dream?
It's the wonder of the girl who showed her that she didn't have to be alone anymore. The shy joy that she can see every time Homura comes out of her shell a little more. It's the brilliance of someone who seems to show new blooms even more often than the gardens she tends. ...It's the simple sincerity of a hero. And it's more, it's all of these, here--
Light suffuses the air around Mami. It is golden, warm, bright as the sun, of many flowers and of honey and of a hope that only wanted to be able to share it again, and stay.
"But I already have what I wanted," Mami says, and from her hand comes the beautiful light gathering around her, pure gold one of many, the gold of a sunbeam filtering through the window to the table where they all might sit.
BEAMWAR! Mami Tomoe has placed her bid! Sayaka Miki, Kasagami Araki, Fuu Hououji, Steven Universe, La Sirene des Opales, Homura Akemi, Madoka Kaname, Sourisi, Princess Mars, Lancelot, Princess Serenity, and Queen Metallia still need to bid!
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
"Oh." Lancelot says as he watches Queen Metallia rise and then grow to enormous height and power. "Sh#." He finishes once she declares that she's going to bring on the end of all things living. He takes an involuntary stab back but redraws Arondight. If he was going to die, he was going to to go down fighting with sword in hand. He grits his teeth and begins to summon lightning to him, As much as he can bring into him. He'll charge, leap at her head, maybe take out an eye. Maybe take an eye. He's about to do it. Run and leap and attack when seven stars make themselves manifest.
He stops himself from charging through the stars and attacking anyway. Becuase. He knows those stars. With lines of Starlight the Maiden of Dreams stands before them all and he feels the power she offers swell within him.
"Reach out your hands -- and open your hearts!"
Lancelot takes a deep breath and as that dark beam descends down on him he opens his eyes and extends his free hand. He has people to protect back home. People he knows and loves, and he has all those gathered here. He won't give up. He was ready to leap at Metallia and he pours his heart into the power that swells into him. He is a warrior, and he'll stand here, with sword in hand and continue to fight. But most importantly, Lancelot will always, "I SWEAR TO DEFEND THE INNOCENT!"
Normally at those words he transforms from an awkward teenage boy who loves bacon, motorcycle riding, and kendo into the sword wielding Chevalier Lancelot. This time however a blast of pure white lightning explodes from his palm. Normally his lightning is blue with hints of white, but this time it is pure and white. It pulses and flashes and crackles as he pours his power, and his heart into that lightning bolt, adding his own unique energy to the swirling mass trying to hold Metallia back.
BEAMWAR! Lancelot has placed his bid! Sayaka Miki, Kasagami Araki, Fuu Hououji, Steven Universe, La Sirene des Opales, Homura Akemi, Madoka Kaname, Sourisi, Princess Mars, Princess Serenity, and Queen Metallia still need to bid!
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.
"Y-You were all so brave! I wish I could have been there for you..." Steven says quietly, even as his face puffs up a little, in that pre-state of crying, though never quite reaches tears. It only occurs a bit after that he would have died as well. He slowly purses his lips at his own comment.
For them though? Of course, on second thought.
"Everyone is so amazing! I just-- I can't believe we did it!" His shield winks out of existence, and the little boy just has to take a seat, even if it makes hus hind end cold. He is so very spent. Steven just looks over to that body on the floor. Even though she was pure evil, something still nips at him. Could anything else have been done?
...No, it doesn't seem like it could. She murdered the other Senshi with impunity. Why does it bother him still?
Well, it is over, and the entire world was saved.
"We gotta commemorate this occasion with something!" the boy says, rocking around on the icy ground. Seems like a strange thing but, what does one do when an entire planet is spared? He has never thought to ask before. "Thanks for all the help, Fuu, Kasagami," he says kindly, a cheeky smile splayed out to show those pearly whites. "I would have been a goner if it wasn't for you both."
Speaking of being a goner... there is commotion behind the group. Movement.
Steven tenses and stands. "Uh, guys...?!" he says, pointing his finger to the moving corpse. They change shape, color, hue... they are made whole. Though 'they' is more of a kindness now, as it is more akin to saying 'they' to a puppeteer and their marionette toy. What what bears existence now is a much grander evil than what that body was host to before.
It is stomach turning. It is remniscent of what became of Roses Fountain, it a much darker and malevolent concept. Everything pollen and petals touch is corrupted immediately. One could posit it was almost curing something of benevolence.
At some point Steven reflexively summoned another shield with adrenaline, but the more he watches this darkness wringed into being unfurl and recognize her imprisonment is over, the less he thinks his implement will do a lick of good. The power roiling off them is on the level of something legendary. Tucked away and forgotten by time for a reason.
Because it could end everything just so easily. Steven has no words to even dare say as they act, emotionless. No, that isn't right. Devoid of all positive emotion. Anger. Hate. Despair. Wrath. These are the things this being knows. And she lets it be known.
What feels like all the black in the universe coalesces into a single wave of energy, leveled at everyone present. It feels like the end.
The end of all things.
...A light breaks the cascading dark before it arrives. A voice calls out. "I-It's you!" Steven says, still shaking. She calls out in a soothing voice. To reach out, and offer their hopes and dreams. They are the key to victory.
He looks at her sadly for a moment. He was so weak, so tired... He felt powerless compared to this primordial force.
Steven furrows his brow. Perhaps.
But, with what little power he has. maybe he can still help.
Steven holds out his hand. "I dream... to help everyone reach their dreams! And that won't stop here! My dream is eternal! And I'll always be there to help save the day when people people's dreams are on the line!"
A soft pink light glows from where a belly button should be, and expands outward, encompassing the child in a gentle light, before working its way up the boy's arm. It gathers at the tip of his hand.
The power of love, life and freedom itself.
It gathers until the little palm can no longer contain it. The boy holds it up, and the power explodes outward, joining the cascading chorus.
BEAMWAR! Steven Universe has placed his bid! Sayaka Miki, Kasagami Araki, Fuu Hououji, La Sirene des Opales, Homura Akemi, Madoka Kaname, Sourisi, Princess Mars, Princess Serenity, and Queen Metallia still need to bid!
<Pose Tracker> Princess Serenity [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.
Usagi Tsukino is tired, hungry, and more scared than she's ever been from her time at D-point. She's weak from grief. Yet the moment that her eyes behold the others. A new emotion touches her instead.
"Everyone..." Her fingertips slide forward, as if she were afraid to touch them, as if it were an illusion, and the moment she did, she'd been proven unreal. This only lasts as long as Sailor Mars puts her hand in hers, and she feels the warmth bleed into her palm. And words of praise. Precious, and hard won from the lips of Rei Hino.
The tears spill down her eyes from happiness, and she gives her head a fervent shake. "Of all the times to call me 'Princess'... Rei-chan." As she whispers, "I'm never 'Princess Serenity' to you."
Whether it's a Usagi spoken sharply in anger, or a Usagi in annoyance, or a Usagi in affection. That's always who she'd prefer to be for her.
And then she's drawn into a long hug between the other Inner Senshi. "Thank goodness... you're all alright. I'm so happy... so happy."
So much is happening around her right now. There's Sourisi's celebration, and Steven's relief, and Lancelot's tears, and the praise of her precious kouhai in Ladybug, Kasagami's paradoxical rebuke, and La Sirene's excitement, and the quiet support of the Magic Knight of Wind who is making certain they all stay healthy. There is also the sheer joy of four Puella Magi celebrating which is so precious to her. She wants to hug everyone. Given half the chance, she would do so for each, individually. For a while she's too overwhelmed to respond to any of it.
"It wasn't like last time, when the Silver Millenium fell." The girl who is Usagi Tsukino and Princess Serenity says once she gathers enough composure to articulate her joy. "And that is because all of you are here." And thus does she confirm the 'we' rather than the 'she' or the 'they'. "So please, don't hold back any of your precious feelings right now. Because they are the true miracle."
And so was she about to take her own advice when...
Suddenly the warmth and light she'd summoned feel smothered by something cold. Like an abyss, a void had opened, except they were on the other side of it. They were feeling it all returning out. Princess Serenity suddenly hugs her own arms, then finds herself looking.
Queen Beryl once asked Princess Serenity whether she sees her. In her death and transfiguration to being Queen Metallia does she see her in a new light, the kind of angle that one can see in the deepst of shadow. The world around her shatters, and Queen Metallia blooms into flesh. The horrible puissance of her presence is overwhelming. Making her feel cold, and scared, sapping away most of her happiness in just a moment. It feels like in an instant, she's made a liar of the miracle that history will not repeat, that things are different this time.
It feels like a requiem, or a dirge. The toxic pollen causing her to cough, and tear up, blurring her vision as she burns. And looks down upon her end as it bears down upon her.
In this moment, all she can manage is a tiny squeak of protest - a bovine sort of incomprehension, before she shakily raises the Silver Crystal in one last gasp effort to try to ward off their doom.
The stars fall then, and there she is... just like in Hokkaido. Except more real. More vivid. "Welcome home." Princess Serenity whispers, with tears shining in admiration and emotion, that she's come to aid all of them.
What is she fighting for?
That's simple. The seven stars spin, and Princess Serenity reaches into her heart which often feels like a kaleidoscope with how the emotions shine through and closes her eyes. Raising the Silver Crystal between both hands, she tries to recapture the joy of not even a minute ago, that she felt.
BGM Change: Carry on - BSSM OST - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqMHRKTYDHM
"My dream is to pass my high school entrance exams..."
It's such a normal dream, yet to the four Inner Senshi it invokes the thought of all of their study sessions where Usagi Tsukino was slacking off. Napping, snacking. Anything but actually paying attention. It may be almost shockingly jolting to hear that from her, as if it were startlingly unlike her. Yet there is a twinkling of a nascent light shining off of her.
"... so that in the Spring of our first year, when my cuckoo alarm goes off, I can get up and get dressed..."
The light becomes an aureole of pink and silver, gloriously radiant despite her dream.
"... and meet up with all of you, so that all of us who just started high school can show off our new uniforms to everyone."
She doesn't have to give voice to it perhaps. Yet there is something perhaps inspiring in so humble a dream, giving off such light. Like no dream is too normal. And perhaps strangely enough, the Maiden of Dreams might understand that when she says 'everyone' it includes... her as well.
It shines like starlight unto itself, before erupting out from her hands, rather than from the Ginzuishou itself.
"I'll never stop fighting for a world with all of you in it. A world that lets us keep sharing moments like that... together."
She brings those feelings and small dreams of a normal girl to bear against the darkness that would end them all.
BEAMWAR! Princess Serenity has placed her bid! Sayaka Miki, Kasagami Araki, Fuu Hououji, La Sirene des Opales, Homura Akemi, Madoka Kaname, Sourisi, Princess Mars, and Queen Metallia still need to bid!
<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.
Sourisi's desperate attempt to block the corrupting energy with her own body is stopped when la Sirene wraps her hands around her body and calls up a barrier. It's not enough to fully stop the massive blast, but...well, the end result isn't something Sourisi wishes to think about. It takes a moment for Sourisi to focus onto the eyes past a black mask.
"Thank you, Opales-chan..."
Standing up slowly from the rime-frosted floor and wiping away her tears, Sourisi gives her co-conspirer a full on grin. While la Sirene may not enjoy puns as much as her, there's no kidding there's a soul of a joker in her still. "You're excused, Opales-chan. I mean, do you really think i'm going to try stopping you here?"
The reunion between two duos of Puella Magi is almost as touching as the Sailor Senshi somehow fighting against all the odds thanks to the miracle brought about by the Silver Crystal. Madoka smiling beautifully. Sayaka hugging onto Madoka with all her heart. Mami, the proud elder and mentor to just more than Puella Magi. Homura, ever quiet and bashful, with tears on her face. It's a miracle everyone is okay despite everything!
Speaking of which...
A quick look around is all Sourisi needs to squish her fears before they can even rise. After all, while many magical girls may have frills and dresses fit for a catwalk, there's only four heroes she knows who fight evil in bodysuits.
But there is much more going on than just a miracle made flesh and a dark queen dethroned. What appears to be the resurrection of Queen Beryl is much, much worse in reality. Queen Merallia takes controls of her new body and remolds it like clay to her liking. The Maiden of Dreams, far more than what she once was, descends in time to aid the defenders of Earth from darkness made into being. And tragedy prepares to strike hope down once again.
Unless they all fight for it, tooth and nail. And that is Sourisi's perfered way of fighting.
Dreams. There's always strength in dreams, and not just those that exist only during the hours of sleep. Dreams for the future, for what you desire more for the world...those are the dreams with the most dreams within them. And the courage to stand up for those dreams is the magic that make dreams into reality.
A tightly held dream, a dream of everyone's else dream becoming reality and of a brighter tomorrow is what Sourisi draws her strength from. Running up to stand alongside Ladybug, the Miraculous Ninja raises one hand to join her friend and ally against the Akuma, radiating beige light.
"Why hate when you can love, when you make the life of others all the greater for it?!"
A font of light blooms from a gloved palm, wishing to stop a future without hope.
BEAMWAR! Sourisi has placed her bid! Sayaka Miki, Kasagami Araki, Fuu Hououji, La Sirene des Opales, Homura Akemi, Madoka Kaname, Princess Mars, and Queen Metallia still need to bid!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.
The rise of Queen Metallia takes the Wind Knight as much by surprise as anyone else - although it feels to her like she should maybe have expected it. Of *course* invading the heart of one of the great evil powers of their world wouldn't be so simple, a corner of her mind thinks. Of *course* there was some last horrible surprise, even after the miracle of the entire group of magical girls surviving this far into the fray.
Where Queen Beryl had fallen, Queen Metallia rises up, terrible in her majesty and dark, fearsome glory. Her power spreads not from a gesture but simply from her *presence*, tainting the ice and stone themselves - and then Metallia *does* gesture, a simple motion as fatal as the sharpest blade's fall, concentrated into the rush of dark, destructive energy.
The Wind Knight's sword appears once more, as feeble as it is in the face of death - but the light of ancient stars shines forth, the Maiden of Dreams returning from wherever she'd been since Hokkaido. The voice is all the Wind Knight needs to recognize; a fierce smile forms on her face, cloaking the grateful relief in her eyes, and she nods to the Maiden, a soft wind gathering around her, tousling her hair and ruffling her skirts - not the fatally frigid winds that howl around the Arctic, but the gentler breezes that nurture and succour in warmer climes.
It's not one dream that she holds in her heart, but two. One of them is mundane enough - to create video games like the RPGs she loves playing, to tell stories in a form that other people can immerse themselves in: to start out weak, but to grow strong enough in the course of the story to save an imaginary world, or perhaps - somehow - even a real one.
The other dream, new though it may be in the Wind Knight's heart, is just as strong if not even stronger: to nurture the bond she shares with not just her fellow Magic Knights, but also with the Cephiran swordsman they met in the Forest of Silence. Fuu had never really worried about hunting for a boyfriend, so the emotions which blossomed after meeting Ferio have caught her by some surprise. But those feelings are there, flourishing within her, and she can't deny their existence. And that's her other dream - not just to fulfill the Magic Knights' mission to save Cephiro, but to pursue a future which she can share with the roguish-seeming swordsman after Cephiro is saved.
Two dreams, perhaps out of many more, but each of them gives her a reason to stand her ground and fight for the future that she desires - to become one of the lights which holds back the darkness. And with the Maiden of Dreams assisting them, with so many other magical girls and boys fighting alongside the Magic Knight of Wind, the warm breeze around her rises further, emerald light condensing from drifting sparks into a brilliant beam, and hastening to join with her allies' power - one more light that dares shine in the face of Queen Metallia's boundless darkness.
BEAMWAR! Fuu Hououji has placed her bid! Sayaka Miki, Kasagami Araki, La Sirene des Opales, Homura Akemi, Madoka Kaname, Princess Mars, and Queen Metallia still need to bid!
<Pose Tracker> La Sirene des Opales [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed. <SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53HZ7LoqhSQ
The celebration does not last, would that it could. Something else is present. An inconvenient fact which rises - or is, in fact, revealed. Even so, the first stages of crystallization pass unremarked by the Siren of Opals, who is beaming at Madoka, giving Sayaka a different phase of warm look.
At that point the shadow rises.
The taste in her mouth turns to ash. La Sirene looks at the enormous creature. She steps back a pace from the sheer vision of this red ending-of-the-future, this titanic beast. It reminds her of legends of sculptures, of great beings beneath the sea that you can only see in their shadows on the storm clouds, titans that walk the void between stars.
Choking despair - something unfamiliar, something other - rises. It is not like the depression that blankets la Sirene at times. It is worse. If that is vinegar, this is hydrochloric acid. And she can feel it starting to etch at--
Something - someone - else is there.
Seven stars, la Sirene thinks.
Seven seekers. Seven sages. Seven dreamers...
For a moment it all comes to her. She dreams of being... Something; something else. She sees them. The maiden of dreams must see them too.
"I dream," la Sirene des Opales says: "I dream a dream of history. A dream that threads throughout years and days and aeons, across the life of stars and the death of planets. A vision that weaves all things together until they rise and fall, and rise again. I dream of ancient stones set in glory, and I dream of admiring them together with my precious friends."
La Sirene des Opales raises her left hand... but she does not make the sign of Les Mysteres. Light rises around her, a stormy gray-blue-blue-gray.
"I dream of being a queen... a queen who brings beauty and justice! And one who banishes the wicked.."
The light flows with sudden intensity.
BEAMWAR! La Sirene des Opales has placed her bid! Sayaka Miki, Kasagami Araki, Homura Akemi, Madoka Kaname, Princess Mars, and Queen Metallia still need to bid!
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
Kasagami's heart, bouyed by the return of dear friends, brough low to tears and high to love, goes cold once more as the corpse of Beryl rises. Larger, renewed, and with a voice unlike the horrible Queen they all faced down, she can hardly deny what Metallia. The end. Destruction writ large here to ruin the beauty and joy of the many people in the world.
To take everything away when they'd just regained so many precious things, to ruin the world with that horrible energy in it's dark flowering petals and deadly pollen. A creature that brings nothing but death and loss.
Kassie doens't move or flinch away from the onrushing doom. She stands resolute, blade in one hand, prepared to go down swinging. If she's going to lose, to die here, then she fully intends to go down swinging as the head of the Araki family should. Just like her Mother did. No matter how it feels like there's a tinderbox full of ash in her mouth and throat, how her eyes sting, she refuses to do less than meet her demise with dignity.
Yet the voice and that precious starlight yet lives. The Maiden of dreams speaks to them all. A promise of a way to find victory. And yet to do so they must open their hearts.
Quite possibly the most painful thing of all. What choice is there? And most of all, the thought of dreams.
Dreams. Kasagami's eyes open, and she sheaths her blade. Her hands come to her side as she concentrates. Slowly, they rise, up above her head. Fingers curl as a gentle light fills them. Small at first, and growing in a dark crimson intensity. Not like the hateful colors that Metallia is clad in, but the bold colors of ambition!
Kassie's mind falls to Ohtori. At the progress made, and yet to be made. Brilliant hearts in the Sister Schools, with their many talents, yet to be given that one shove or hard kick to finally realize all that they can be. Of reaching for the illusive Castle in the Sky, for World Revolution. Her heart trembles, still so wounded, but the ache is that much less with those who care for her.
The shining throne in her dream seems dull next to the overwhelming urge to never see another friend lying in the cold cavern like Rei had been. To use a blade to ward off the evil in the world, the evil now right here, trying to destroy them all.
"I will reach to the sky for..." She bites her lip. Revolution sings in her heart.
"I shall become a King...and suffer not evil or injustice! To never see another life cut short for children to grieve over!"
For a brief, fleeting moment, Kasagami knows that a King isn't about the greed of ruling over others, but being a leader that protects others. The light flares in her hands.
And she swings downwards until only one hand is extended out. A single step forward, head tilted just so as her hair flutters behind her. The crimson beam shines and moves, joining with that of the others. It's everywhere all at once, as if refracted again and again off of half a million mirrors.
BEAMWAR! Kasagami Araki has placed her bid! Sayaka Miki, Homura Akemi, Madoka Kaname, Princess Mars, and Queen Metallia still need to bid!
<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
Madoka is one girl among all the rest.
Surprised by the interruption, she uncurls herself from around Homura, whom she had seized -- in her haste, lifted right off the ground -- and held close.
Madoka's back was the one facing Metallia's blast.
Really the complete lack of a blush is the ultimate statement, afterwards. She isn't embarrassed to have done it. She isn't embarrassed by the implications.
She isn't embarrassed that when she reaches out her right palm towards the seven stars -- towards the incoming tide of darkness -- towards the embodiment of same, beyond --
-- her left is still holding Homura's.
The light that emerges from her hand is just a little bit shy, in its first moments -- feathery and slender. A candlelight's worth. Then a flashlight's.
Madoka dares to look away from their incoming doom -- to look around at everyone else -- and breathes them in.
For the second time, she dares to close her eyes.
When she exhales, she reopens them to see her own, steady brightness, pouring out of her whole self, and into the world, and she is the only one that is surprised.
<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
Sayaka is one of the many who fails to notice the ice take Queen Beryl. There is much to be said for empathy for the defeated, but perhaps it is better this way. Too often does evil die grandly, beautifully. There is no question what is grand or beautiful here; it is the miracle of a princess and those who love her.
But whether it dies in darkness or at the top of the highest parapet, evil never dies for long. One might well hope for a bit longer than this, granted.
Sayaka lowers her head but keeps her eyes high, like a buck about to charge with its horns. Serenity takes the brunt of the hatred, but she is not alone for long.
Sayaka watches the light of her best friend ignite the darkness. There are so many candles, here... but that one is hers. She smiles a bit before it occurs to her. Madoka's beam looks really strong, after she... with Homura...
Sayaka sidles a bit closer to Mami, and glances surreptitiously. "Mami-sa--"
"But I already have what I wanted," Mami says, and her sunflower radiance spreads across Sayaka, then glows forth to join the others. Sayaka's lips part in awe. Blinking, she reaches to touch her blue breastplate, but she is greeted with an unfamiliar sensation. Looking down, she can see that her chest is glowing with the blue of the sky--the blue of openness, that hides nothing. The blue of birdsong.
Sayaka's lips tug with a smile, rueful, joyful. Stepping forward, she swings her arm outward with fingers together as though she were pointing a conductor's baton. Blue soars ever upwards, to where it belongs.
<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed. <SoundTracker> Something Worth Protecting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBKJM2fCUyg
Everyone, and everything, was okay... No reason to worry at all.
Until there is.
The advent of Metallia drives ice through Homura's weak and thudding heart. "N-no, oh no..." Whimpering in the path of a death so dark and terrible she does not truly comprehend it, the frail girl shivers where she stands...
Only to have heroic warmth embrace her -- lift her high and squeeze her silly, really -- in the form of arms she's come to know by the sweetness of the hugs they give, and pink hair she knows by the soft way it tickles her ear when they're this close. Homura cherishes the moment long before she understands what the other girl has done, because for a moment she's just too lightheaded from it all.
Then the dizzy smile gives way to realization: "Y-you... you saved me," and then concern, "Kaname-san! Are you okay!?" But she is, Homura can see.
And just like that, hope lives on.
The Maiden asks them to remember their dream, and Homura clutches to Madoka's hand -- holds fast to her dream like she'll never let go, and the smile comes right back.
Her other hand lifts, and all that joy shines even more brightly than the diamond-shaped gem glittering there. The emotion glows like deepening sunset, and takes shape like a ray shining through clouds: a beam as lustrous as Homura's big dark eyes, the color of shadow made luminous.
She can't stop looking at Madoka, even as she aims her heart's hue in complementary violet alongside the other girl's pink.
<Pose Tracker> Princess Mars [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
One corpse remains a corpse but this is the way of war - and the Soldier of War does not think on it, in her relief.
Not until it's too late.
Princess Mars whirls to face the crystal Queen who rises, and perhaps she was Beryl but she is hardly Beryl any more, her shape and her voice and something else. Everything explodes and the Senshi move to protect Serenity, as they always have, as they always will; there is nothing any of them can do to shield her from the voice. Oh, Rei has one of those too.
That vicious little inner critic which turns every inch of her venom in on herself, made sharper and keener by every barb she snaps out in anger or frustration.
And then the lotus opens.
Princess Mars wears red but it is a gentle, youthful thing, vermillion and striped pale down the centre; they are incomparable.
She beholds the towering queen with a scowl and clenched fists, and she hopes it hides the way her hands tremble, the fear in her eyes. Let them think she is implacable, unshaken by the horror which rolls off like waves, not high and crashing but deceptively gentle things which hide a riptide promising to tear them out to sea. Let them think she is not scared of drowning. Oh, let them think she is not scared of drowning, alone and afraid and struggling and blinded.
She hisses in a breath to deny it, but there is someone else speaking denial before she can. She speaks fast and loud and whole, and she is the Maiden of Dreams, and Princess Mars snaps her gaze to her, relief rolling over her to see that starlight. "You came!" She came home, just as Serenity says.
She bids them to remember, and the light shines, and Princess Mars reaches out. "My dreams..?"
Up past the torii gate, in the shrine office, in the fourth door on the left, tucked underneath bedding, there is a book. It is a secret thing filled with a hundred dreams, innumerable careers which Rei Hino is going to master. She has been working on it for years.
"I'm going to become a famous idol," Rei says - these are Rei's dreams, after all - as she clasps her hands to her heart, and red light floods over her. "And I'm going to travel the world as a fabulous stewardess and I'm going to know everything there is to know about all the best places to be. I'm going to find the perfect husband and have the perfect wedding. I'm going to organise the sorts of festivals people will talk about on their deathbeds, and I'm going to become rich beyond my wildest dreams. Isn't it obvious?"
She holds out her palms, as the light gathers and pours out. "... everyone's going to know my name!"
She is not the only one who speaks. Princess Venus might appreciate her dreams of fame; Princess Jupiter, her domestic aspirations; Princess Mercury, the knowledge she will gather. And they speak their own truths, orange green blue, and the lights of the Senshi join Serenity's in an outpouring of the one thing the darkness could not kill.
BEAMWAR! Princess Mars has placed her bid! Sayaka Miki, Homura Akemi, Madoka Kaname, and Queen Metallia still need to bid! BEAMWAR! Madoka Kaname has placed her bid! Sayaka Miki, Homura Akemi, and Queen Metallia still need to bid! BEAMWAR! Sayaka Miki has placed her bid! Homura Akemi and Queen Metallia still need to bid! BEAMWAR! Homura Akemi has placed her bid! Queen Metallia still needs to bid!
<Pose Tracker> Queen Metallia [None] has posed. <SoundTracker> She's Got The Power https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wpIpxJsJkY
It was the inevitable response, and Queen Metallia, unlike her predecessor, welcomes it. She honors it, even. She's said the same words so many times against the bars of her elemental prisons, whispered them into the dreams of Serenity the elder -- and a young Beryl.
Never, never, never.
She smiles, streching her one of her massive arms above her head, spreading her palms. It's invisible behind those clouds, but impossible to avoid the visual, regardless, that she seems quite able to snatch the Moon out of the sky and grind it between thumb and forefinger. Render it to dust... again. Finish what she started, all those years ago.
"Never," she replies conversationally, to everyone in general but Usagi of the never-give-up in particular, "Is a very, very long time. I have already waited forever -- in a way inconceivable to you fleeting mortals."
Her pupils narrow to slits when Princess Serenity invokes the power of the Silver Crystal. It does, indeed, get her attention, even as its very existence defies and denies her own. The other senshi's joining to her causes her to grimace but also to yearn. She wars between feeling hungry and affronted.
The power pouring out of her shines blackly. It sizzles, crackles, arcs, but is not lightning. It licks and burns, but is not flame.
And it's growing -- as Metallia rolls her shoulders back -- and brings the second hand down to join the first. The resulting backblast sends her vast tresses soaring over her head like a cyan halo.
"Ah, I see the past is present. Princesses of the Sol System, returned for revenge -- you've saved me the trouble of tracking you down to take your Crystals."
Her massive blast intensifies, becoming so dark that it wraps back around into color again, tinged with tainted reds and oranges and blues, beauty perverted into great, great evil, well able to swallow up all the magical girls at once.
It bulges behind the point of impact between the two beams -- and then -- inexorably -- starts marching forwards.
"You dream of a shining future? Ultimately, you'll realize that this world is already ugly and full of filth. It is unworthy of your protection... and when you discover that, my wrath could be nothing as compared to yours."
She grins savagely.
"That is, if you weren't all about to die."
Her power halves the distance to the magical girls -- then halves it again.
But their power is beginning to show something interesting. Faces swim amid the prismatic cascade -- family, friends. Crowns and swords and computers and microphones. Lakes and the bow that ties a sailor fuku and a wedding gown. The light from two mirrors reflecting each other, infinitely. A chair. A table. A kotatsu.
Ephemeral visions. But then, isn't every dream?
Until you make it real?
"...believe..." whisper the seven stars, their harmonics somehow both above and below the clash of titanic powers -- even as their light threatens to be eclipsed.
COMBAT: 819 is not a valid bid. Bids must be a positive number of mana points equal to or less than your current mana (820), and no larger than the original cost of your individual BEAMWAR attack, modified by your boss multiplier (702).
BEAMWAR! Queen Metallia has placed her bid! BEAMWAR! Queen Metallia presses her advantage, overwhelmingly driving back Sayaka Miki, Kasagami Araki, Mami Tomoe, Fuu Hououji, Steven Universe, Ladybug, La Sirene des Opales, Homura Akemi, Madoka Kaname, Sourisi, Princess Mars, Lancelot, and Princess Serenity! Queen Metallia has the advantage! BEAMWAR! Sayaka Miki, Kasagami Araki, Mami Tomoe, Fuu Hououji, Steven Universe, Ladybug, La Sirene des Opales, Homura Akemi, Madoka Kaname, Sourisi, Princess Mars, Lancelot, and Princess Serenity each take 22 damage! Queen Metallia takes 0 Fatigue damage! BEAMWAR! Now accepting mana bids for the second of three rounds! No longer accepting any more BEAMWAR entrants! BEAMWARNING! Sayaka Miki, Kasagami Araki, Mami Tomoe, Fuu Hououji, Steven Universe, Ladybug, La Sirene des Opales, Homura Akemi, Madoka Kaname, Sourisi, Princess Mars, Lancelot, and Princess Serenity must regain the advantage this round, or they will be unable to continue fighting!
<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
The light of Mami's best friend; the light of her precious student; the lights of friends, opalescent, planetary, smaller, taller, bold and quiet, all shining, all different. This is what Mami sees, and when Madoka glances at her, Mami smiles at her best friend too.
But Metallia is not silent. She speaks, and the answer Mami has to give--
"No." Mami answers without even having to think it, and it is simple, as she lets her eyes track beside her once, to smile at Sayaka who started to say her name before she spoke. Despite that instant of defiance, she cannot finish her sentence at first--no, that sheer awful power before her forces her light back with all of the others, forcing Mami to shift her stance to avoid being shoved back, to push with all of the might that she can back against Metallia--
There is a purity to fighting this directly, to the light of all of them, and the faces Mami sees--they show her. The table at which they all sit; the city she's spent so long protecting, the countless people about their lives...
"No!" Mami calls again, redoubling her efforts. "...You say that we will see the world--But I have! I've seen this world ugly, filthy, awful--I've seen terrible things done by those that should've protected them--I've seen death, and cruelty, and despair! From out of sight... I see so much of people!"
Mami inhales, shoulders lifting, "...But that awfulness isn't all that there is. People can be selfish, and petty, but they can be so loving. I've seen so many lives going on, unaware of any of the monsters that would take them in an instant given the chance. ...Watched, as the time I gave meant that they got to have a little more of their own."
"...I love the life I have. And I don't--I won't--regret the time I've been given to help the people of Shibuya and beyond. For all the terrible things that have happened..."
"I asked for this life. And I won't give it to you so easily!"
Believe, the stars whisper, and though it is dark, Mami knows the lights she sees. The hand that does not exude a beam of light moves, as Mami looks beside her--and she reaches out, to take Sayaka's hand in hers, and squeezes her fingers. "...How could I?" she says more softly. "Especially now?"
BEAMWAR! Mami Tomoe has placed her bid! Sayaka Miki, Kasagami Araki, Fuu Hououji, Steven Universe, Ladybug, La Sirene des Opales, Homura Akemi, Madoka Kaname, Sourisi, Princess Mars, Lancelot, Princess Serenity, and Queen Metallia still need to bid!
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
Kasagami leans into the beam emitting from her hand as if pressing a blade down harder upon an opponent. Her eye is half lidded, and the sheer might being directed at all of them is enough that her bones seem to quiver in her body. She licks her lips, glaring.
This savage, horrible person wishes to destroy everything. And worse still, she taunts them all while doing it, trying to tear down their believing hearts.
"So because the world isn't made of gleaming gold, you expect us to simply stop trying!? People are flawed, and weak, they lash out at each other! Their own greed and desires makes them hurt other people. Even...even the pain that they've gone through pushes them to hate and seek a destraction from nightmares!" She starts. The world is a place of hurting.
Her free hand swipes a dramatic line in the air. "But there's a spark of nobility in the world too that's worth preserving! Friendship, love, joy and ambition! The care of a Mother for her child! Willingness to defend the lives and precious memories of the departed from the dark things that seek to steal it away! Dark things like YOU! Without demons such as yourself, maybe this world would be a little brighter!" Teeth grind.
The starlight tells them to believe. And so, Kasagami puts her trust in her friends and her own grand dreams. One hand grips her wrist, and she howls a warcry as her own beam grows that much more reflective and luminous in ambitious reds.
"I'll be taking that light and holding it up along with everyone, even if it burns me to cinders!"
BEAMWAR! Kasagami Araki has placed her bid! Sayaka Miki, Fuu Hououji, Steven Universe, Ladybug, La Sirene des Opales, Homura Akemi, Madoka Kaname, Sourisi, Princess Mars, Lancelot, Princess Serenity, and Queen Metallia still need to bid!
<Pose Tracker> Ladybug [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed. <SoundTracker> Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance - Majestic Wings - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x76CZIUmDKM
There's panic and triumph, confidence and surprise, a dozen lights in a thousand spectra opposing the rising tide of darkness. Hope clashes against oblivion, and holds.
Briefly. Until Metallia starts trying. Eternity has waited for this moment, and will not be denied lightly. Ladybug is barely able to hold herself up, let alone hold up the hopes of a world, and the eclipse mocks all their dreams as it prepares to consume them all.
But those hopes are real.
Everyone around her has hopes. Words of love, of conquest, of ambition and of cheer. There's conviction surrounding enough that the girl behind the mask hesitates to speak up, feeling like her own dreams are too petty to even bring up.
But there's a single word from the stars, entreating her to believe, and Ladybug takes a deep breath.
"You think we don't know that? You think we don't know that the world waiting out there is full of ugly people and terrible things?" The light from Ladybug's outstretched right hand falters a moment, losing its luster as she answers Metallia. "We're not the stupid children you think we are. We know the world out there isn't some beautiful jewel ready for the taking."
Her left hand wipes at her mask - and the spotted disguise fades. The rest of Ladybug's outfit remains, but without the mask Marinette's face is revealed to those who know her - at least, to those who hadn't known already.
"We have to make it beautiful. That's what I'm really dreaming of - not some idyllic life, not some fairytale romance. Half my room at home is full of dresses and suits and all kinds of things, the fashion line I'm going to make a reality!" Marinette's left hand joins her right, and spots of black join the stream of crimson - a strange mottled pattern, but with hues of pink and green and blue weaving themselves into the torrent. A black pigment is just everything combined, after all.
"If the world's really that horrible to behold, then I'm going to make it beautiful!" That faltering stream of Marinette's, blended with colours myriad, shines bright and pours forth. Spots and all.
BEAMWAR! Ladybug has placed her bid! Sayaka Miki, Fuu Hououji, Steven Universe, La Sirene des Opales, Homura Akemi, Madoka Kaname, Sourisi, Princess Mars, Lancelot, Princess Serenity, and Queen Metallia still need to bid!
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
Lancelot slides backwards a few feet, his armored boots squeel on the floor of the throne room as he moves. He doesn't let up though. He drops Arondight (and can hear Mikoto gasp in horror in his head) and puts his sword hand at the base of the lighting he's throwing. Once that hand is there he pushes back. The lighting bolt appears to grow slightly larger with a boom of thunder that echoes in the throne room. He takes a step forward and lets out a low growl that begins somewhere in his gut and reverbrates in his throat.
"I won't quit."
Three words, and he grits his teeth as he locks eyes with that massive form up there glaring down and literally throwing hate at him and his friends here, and in generla the whole world. He can't fail. He failed once.
In his mind's eyes Camelot burns. He kneels next to his best friend as he dies, cradling him in his lap and shed's tears that sting the cuts on his cheeks. So many friends died, his home, becuase he failed.
He won't do that gain. He won't fail.
He narrows his eyes. "I won't let you take bacon from me. Or Mountain Dew." he smirks. "But most importantly I won't let you hurt my sister, the Earth, OR THOSE I LOVE" As he calls out those last few words there is another boom of thunder as he pours on the power. Images of his friends and his loved onces flash through his head.
Mikoto and their sparring sessions and sword discussions over Bacon gorging.
Kenjiro and late night Video Gaming with copious amounts of Mt Dew.
Mama Sama and Papa Kun. Both huge roll models and points on his moral compass.
Eri-chan and her damn vegetables, but more importantly her warm embraces when he's feeling defeated.
Mai-chan. Just ... Mai-chan. So many emotions swirl there. Words unsaid, a cake that was probably better not eaten. And her smile. Always, her smile.
The thunderous boom creates a wave that scatters ice crystals that might be loose on the ground around him. He never breaks eye contact with those large eyes glaring down on them all. She may not notice him, but he's going to give everything he has to stopping her in this very instant.
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.
Belief is still where it all begins for the Magic Knights. The first and most critical lesson they learned in Cephiro was that the strength of belief within one's heart is the foundation of one's power in that world; the power of their belief is the source of their magic.
And words intended to dishearten, to plunge the magical girls into despair, utterly fail to shake the Wind Knight's own belief.
"Even if the world is dirty and corrupt," the Wind Knight retorts, "there are still things each of us wishes to protect - things, *people*, so precious to us that we *will* stake our lives, our hearts, and our souls to defend them! You, who know only the power to destroy, cannot imagine what we love enough to protect with all our beings!"
Certainly the Wind Knight has seen parts of the world she'd rather excise from it, if the power rested in her hands ... but even if she had that power, she knows better than to assume she has the purity of wisdom to make such changes. And so her choice is clear - she *will* fight for the world as it is, for the sake of those people and things which she loves.
Even in the face of total obliteration.
Even if it means her own utter annihilation.
Because to save herself, but lose those she holds dear, would be to save nothing at all.
She pours forth all that she can muster, reaching deep into her own heart; if they lose this battle, it won't matter whether Fuu makes it safely home to her family - if the Wind Knight falls, the rest of the Hououji family will die at Metallia's will and Fuu can apologize in the next world, assuming Metallia even allows *that* much mercy to any of their souls.
BEAMWAR! Fuu Hououji has placed her bid! Sayaka Miki, Steven Universe, La Sirene des Opales, Homura Akemi, Madoka Kaname, Sourisi, Princess Mars, Lancelot, Princess Serenity, and Queen Metallia still need to bid! BEAMWAR! Lancelot has placed his bid! Sayaka Miki, Steven Universe, La Sirene des Opales, Homura Akemi, Madoka Kaname, Sourisi, Princess Mars, Princess Serenity, and Queen Metallia still need to bid!
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.
This being is unlike any fought before. Something foreign, far and away compared to what has been seen before. They say the machinations of ants are nothing to a person. This is an apt example of such a saying. And they are the ants.
The way she talks so calmly is unnerving. This is a game to her. A way to stretch before a workout.
The voidlike energy surges forward against the kaleidoscope of energy fighting it. It makes distance, being held back only moments from collision. And yet, the Maiden doesn't give up on them. A similar being of unfathomable power in her own right, though not alone.
As if a prism, she is only as powerful as those she reflects. Steven concentrates as that energy continues to well up from somewhere inside and out his hand, the roseate energy whipping around him.
"I won't let my mom's sacrifices thousands of years ago, and with me, go in vain today! If you think I'm just gonna take this, you are wrong!"
A deep breath. His heart speaks.
"I am not strong. I am not fast. I am not nearly as talented as everyone else here!" He smiles as the Maiden talks. As if on some kind of awesome mindreading queue.
"...But what I do best... is believe!" It would be an understatement to say that while Steven has magical powers, his compassion and belief is by far his strongest power of all.
"And I believe in our ability to stop you! Everyone has their whole lives ahead of them, and you have no right to take it away from them!"
He pours everything he possibly can into his energy, and if flares to life, radiating multiple shades of pink.
"We all believe!"
BEAMWAR! Steven Universe has placed his bid! Sayaka Miki, La Sirene des Opales, Homura Akemi, Madoka Kaname, Sourisi, Princess Mars, Princess Serenity, and Queen Metallia still need to bid!
<Pose Tracker> Princess Serenity [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed. <SoundTracker> The Power of Love - BSSM OST - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esBJKglRv24
It is a difficult thing to defy Queen Metallia all the same. Her words are insidious, marking the battle endlessly futile, naming their motive revenge, twisting about how their defeat is inevitable, and even if it weren't - that it is pyrrhic. For their feelings will mirror her own, perhaps to eclipse them.
... save for the fact that they're doomed.
And her power intensifies, closing the gap against them. The light of their dreams and feelings are...
Usagi Tsukino sees herself in her high school uniform, surrounded by friends. Usagi Tsukino sees her lips closing in for a kiss. Usagi Tsukino's high school uniform exchanged for a wedding gown. And she sees glimpses, glimmers of the others. Their wonderful feelings brought to fruition in ephemeral visions of their dreams.
She hears them spoken from Mars' own lips, on how everyone will know her name. From Mami how she has everything she wanted. And others besides. In a smile. And in a held hand.
"I..." The tears that have stung her eyes, now feel like something sublime and wonderful, her brow writ in determination as she echoes.
Steadying herself, her own light begins to intensify, and as if she were trying to give voice to this feeling, she answers Queen Metallia, "...in this world. A world where all of these dreams can come true."
Queen Metallia stated never, like it was something she cannot comprehend. Yet at the same time, she'd never heard of a historian who could mark the Silver Millenium on a calendar. How long has it been since Princess Serenity died? Perhaps an eternity unto itself. And yet...
... and yet she can still see blue, red, green, and orange lit around her. Along with the myriad of colors from friends she's made in this life. This time.
"Even when you brought an end to everything before - I was still was reunited with my friends! We were given a second chance to make new lives and new dreams for ourselves! To fight to preserve the precious dreams of all the friends we met! I will never stop believing in a world which has the potential to make such wonderful things happen!"
And with that comes a sudden burst of feeling from her, as she redoubles her efforts to try and beat back the night.
"That you think our motivation was ever revenge... is too sad. We didn't come here for that! But we will protect our shining future - we won't let you take it away from us!"
BEAMWAR! Princess Serenity has placed her bid! Sayaka Miki, La Sirene des Opales, Homura Akemi, Madoka Kaname, Sourisi, Princess Mars, and Queen Metallia still need to bid!
<Pose Tracker> La Sirene des Opales [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed. <SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOG3eus4ZSo
They're giving their all and it isn't working.
Some part of la Sirene, the part of her that is simply 'her' and will never be 'cured' the same way you cannot 'cure' a stone or the Sun, is unsurprised. The rest of her tenses down, hearing the others near her, feeling them, seeing them. But the great being speaks.
Never IS a very, very long time.
Inconcievably long... a being from deep time. La Sirene wonders if this is kin to the Mother but there is not much room to think such things.
The ray is coming closer. I wonder if it will hurt, la Sirene thinks, before she sees, inexplicably, her baby brother floating before her.
She blinks once. It resolves more. The faces of the two other Sirens she has met - and then the third, the reigning Queen, who looks much better than she did; others, too. Some are the faces she sees here. There is a garret window looking out onto Luxor Bay, a vision of her dormitory room and the sight of Meduse and Batiste raising their leftmost limbs as if in echo of her.
"This world... even were you right," la Sirene says, her voice langorous with the spiritual effort: "Even if you were right... there are other worlds. Not only those we walk, but within every person there is a world... a world only dimly glimpsed... you would call them all ugly, each and every one? I would envy your certainty... if I did not know you were wrong."
The buttons on her blouse start to pop. Her sleeves come partway undone, the opalline fragments hanging in a haze around her. The forward flap of the blouse leans forwards, revealing a silk underlay which la Sirene touches with her right hand, over her heart.
"For a world that has such beautiful friends and beautiful dreams within it... the worst you could say is, oh! how beautiful the lotus, that grows in such mire..."
La Sirene's eyes close.
"It's a funny word," she muses.
Her eyes open again. They are colorless.
Her pulse quickens.
"I have walked a world in instants. I have fought peril, with joy... And I have seen the dead return. This is a day that has truly been," and here la Sirene's eerie eyes flick towards Sourisi, "miraculous," then back to Metallia:
"The impossible is possible, tonight."
She feels herself tighten in ways she did not know that she could and the passion soars out of her, the storm-blue light shifting towards an almost-ultraviolet, borderline-black radiance. And yet it is not despair or, exactly, sorrow: It is one of those feelings without quite a name, the sense of tumbling back headlong into something. With joy or with despair -- although of course, it is most decidedly the former.
BEAMWAR! La Sirene des Opales has placed her bid! Sayaka Miki, Homura Akemi, Madoka Kaname, Sourisi, Princess Mars, and Queen Metallia still need to bid!
<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.
Arrogance. That is what Metallia seems to be the embodiment of right now.
That arrogance is well earned. Though Sourisi doesn't knows it well, this is an entity that destroyed a civilization from eons past and was only sealed away due to the will of one Queen. This is also a being that, despite being freshly released from her bonds, is already immensively strong and is only becoming more so as time goes on.
This becomes even more apperant as Queen Metallia lowers down her second hand and exerts so much more raw -power- upon them all, that the pillar of light and hope in this world starts to shrink. So much hate, fury, disdain for all that exists in the universe bears down upon their dreams.
It's sad in it's own way, even when they're almost overwhelmed by this threat.
Queen Metallia's words, meant to break Sourisi's will to stand and fight, is what tempers her desire to finish this more than ever. If this enemy, this entity has watched them through their struggles...how could it fail to see something so simple? Ladybug, clever Ladybug is aware of this as much as her!
"That is the reason why I took up fighting in the first place! Not for magical powers or see things I would never even dream possible. It's the fact that the world is filled with so much ugliness to the world already, which makes the beautiful parts of it all that more precious! I fight to protect that which is all and good in this world, and to give everyone a chance to see that good as well!"
A flicker of movement from Ladybug has Sourisi glancing over out of curiousity, but that curiousity turns into full blown shock upon seeing who exactly it was under that mask. So many questions fill her mind...but only to be shelved for now. Later, and there -will- be a later, they will be brought out to ask a friend. But now isn't the time for that.
And it isn't fair to leave a friend to shoulder a burden on her own. A free hand reaches up to remove an eye mask, and Niramo lets her face be seen by her magical friends and allies by the world. It's moments like these when you should know who you stand with!
Raising her second hand, Niramo glares up past the light pouring from her hands, at the encroaching darkness that threatens to engulf them. Now is not the time to give it to the night! "And i'm going be there every step of the way! Dresses are not my forte, but good food makes warm comfort for all of my friends!"
BEAMWAR! Sourisi has placed her bid! Sayaka Miki, Homura Akemi, Madoka Kaname, Princess Mars, and Queen Metallia still need to bid!
<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed. <SoundTracker> Amethyst Blossom https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0uotGXcu08&t=1340s (just the one song, not the whole album)
The darkness marches toward them, Metallia impels it forward -- and her words are as terrible as the power she wields, as oppressive and as potent. She talks of an ugly world, and Homura might have agreed with her, once -- from the unknowing despair of a sad and lonely childhood rather than the inhumanly expansive perspective of an undying queen, but...
But she's holding Madoka's hand, now.
Memories play out in the light before her, drawn out from her own heart.
She's the senpai of the beautiful, wise Mami Tomoe. Sayaka Miki called her cool and accepted her. The unbearably glamorous Nori has both affection and a pet name for her. Mikoto Minagi's love for her is so direct, so demonstrative, that Homura cannot doubt it. None other than the Ohtori Class President herself took a personal interest in her grades and her future. And with Eri, she's discovered the unexpected comfort of a kindred spirit.
Homura draws a brave little breath. She shifts her hand so her fingers interlace with Madoka's instead of clasping around her palm. Her cheeks are red -- no escaping blushes for her -- but she holds fast, and speaks up.
"The world... the world is a good place! I know it! I have... I have friends now, and they're the most amazing people I've ever known." She draws a deep breath, and her voice quivers a bit -- saying the next words to Metallia is nothing like easy, but Homura has done harder things. "You're wrong. I'm... I'm sorry you haven't had a chance to see how good the world can be. It can seem awful... But you're wrong!"
She believes, and she throws all of that belief into the beautiful beam blooming from her upheld palm. Homura Akemi is not the frightened, depressive girl she once was, and it is thanks to the friends she made -- thanks to the girl holding her hand, the girl who saved her. She has blossomed, and the brilliance of it shines forth in violet to refute Metallia's darkness.
BEAMWAR! Homura Akemi has placed her bid! Sayaka Miki, Madoka Kaname, Princess Mars, and Queen Metallia still need to bid!
<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
How could she not?
A grimace does not touch the determination in Sayaka's eyes. The credits aren't rolling yet after all, but what's another yard? What's another mile, or a thousand? When the stakes are this high, when the dreams of humans and the greed of the void clash together on a vast scale, it has a way of zooming things out. All the black and white in the world blends together like static. On a small scale, evil can triumph, bullies often win, and wrongs may never be righted. But from far away, all that blurred-together static... Sayaka is sure it is bright.
It hurts, to keep this up. It hurts to open a heart. It's scary to want something you're not sure will happen. Sayaka had always understood the rot around her better than her classmates, and had no idea what to do with that knowledge. But Madoka gave her a hilt to grasp, a way to change things. Kyuubey gave her a mission. And Madoka's coworker, Mami, gave her a date she didn't know she'd asked for.
Sayaka watches Mami's confession, her heresy against despair. Her blue eyes tremble as she takes Mami's hand again. It's the most dangerous thing a girl can believe: that the world is a good place.
Sayaka's always believed in dangerous things.
Mami squeezes Sayaka's hand, and the song of strings ripples dramatically up the blue shaft of light. Five loose, ephemeral cords stretch--whether they are strings themselves or the lines on which the music is drawn is not clear, and perhaps they are both. The song is soft against the roar of so much hatred and hope, but it is Sayaka's. She swallows as she stares into Mami's eyes. Her reaction to the soft words of devotion is pouring out of her palm right now, and Sayaka feels exposed by that, her feelings unfiltered, her repression irrelevant.
"Mami-san," Sayaka says softly. "I know this is a really bad time. And I don't really know if it's true, because I don't know how to tell." Her fingers slip deeper between Mami's, to grasp for support. She bites her lower lip. "I j-just sort of thought you should know, that I feel like I'm maybe sorta fall--"
For the rest, Mami will have to read lips, because what had been a solo is suddenly a symphony. The sapphire beam sings out.
<Pose Tracker> Princess Mars [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
Revenge? Certainly there is history written here, old failures and lives snuffed out like candles. Some of them feel it more keenly than others - Minako most of all. Even Rei, who does not care to be dictated by destiny, feels the complex web of emotion which surrounds the destroyer of their Kingdom.
But revenge is such a cynical reflection of what pushes them forward. Even as the shade floods over them, a mockery of their shades, that light does not fade. Blue, red, green, orange.
"You will take NOTHING!" Princess Mars shouts, and it is not simply the hot anger of vengeance but a deep, fierce love, ever-ready to move to the defence of their happiness. How sad Metallia cannot see it. Mars will not mourn.
The world is ugly, she says, as the beam pushes forward. Princess Mars sets her jaw, locks one hand behind the other, pushes back. It is not unlike an ant pushing at the gargantuan wheels of an airbus.
There are images, there are dreams, indistinct at first but promising, promising.
"Ugly?" Rei puffs out a breath, lips curling over her teeth in something between grimace and smirk. If she forces her expression to cooperate, perhaps it will seem like it is easy. "The only ugly thing I see here is you. What could be more ugly than looking at everything this world has done - and saying it's unworthy? Sure, some people are pretty bad..."
Black laps at them about the edges and it is like ice in her chest, and Rei tilts her chin up, an image of total confidence. "... but there's this daft, obnoxious, amazing girl who convinced me everyone's worth giving a chance." Her fingers lace in together, as if in memory. "And you know, when you start giving people a chance... you start making friends."
Like the girl who insisted on calling her -chan as soon as they met, or the girl who was kind even when she was rough, or the girl who always had her back in leaping before thinking, or the girl who modelled all the things she so wanted to be.
Like the girl in ribbons who laughed as they came out of the theatre, because even if the movie was bad at least they went through the pain together; or the girl who joined her after class despite the whispers of her classmates; or the girl who patiently waited so long for her to warm up after years of remove at archery meetups, or the girl who doggedly tried to befriend her even after she learned that the target of her efforts had such command of the fire she feared.
And when she thinks of them she does not have to force her expression, any more. "... like I'd let you threaten all their dreams... for even one second!" Princess Mars declares, as red light flares and grows anew.
Around Princess Serenity, hers is not the only heart to rally around their belief.
Blue, green, orange.
They have never stood alone.
They are not out for revenge.
BEAMWAR! Princess Mars has placed her bid! Sayaka Miki, Madoka Kaname, and Queen Metallia still need to bid! BEAMWAR! Sayaka Miki has placed her bid! Madoka Kaname and Queen Metallia still need to bid!
<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed. <SoundTracker> Believer (Vitamin String Quartet) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2cSyROtNmk
What does Madoka Kaname believe in?
'Her friends' is the first and facile choice. It being an easy answer doesn't make it a shallow one, or a wrong one.
It is her universal constant. Her deepest fundamental.
She believes in Usagi, and her pink is the same pink on those ribbons, the ribbons that solidify into the armor of a pretty soldier. The ribbons in the tiny bows she wore at their last picnic in the park.
She believes in Nori, and her pink is the pink she saw in the mirror when she cried her eyes out in her friend's bathroom -- and then in her arms.
She believes in Steven, and her pink is his pink too, the pink of his shirt, of his Gem -- of the sparkles in his eyes when he sees someone new to befriend.
She believes in Mami, and now her pink pales into the surface of a porcelain teacup. Into the throw cushion she always picks out there. Into the inside of senpai's mouth when she's bold enough to yawn in her presence.
She believes in Sayaka, and her pink is the pink of her lips as they flinched five minutes ago from the kiss Mami so very much deserved. The pink of dawn, when they meant to go to bed but never did because they stayed up all night talking instead. The pink of the carpet where their hair mingled when they fell asleep doing all the summer homework in one go.
She believes in Homura. Ah~
And she believes in all the girls, in all her friends -- her pink is all of theirs and more. Some see pink as a label and reject it. Some see pink as a trophy and embrace it. Pink is delicate and temporary like sakura (and that cup at senpai's, the cup she broke, and was forgiven for). Pink is fluffy and gentle like clouds on the lake. Pink is silly like flamingos -- and strong, have you ever seen them bite? Pink is her favorite, is Madoka's--
--oh. Pink is me. It's my pink.
It's pouring off her now, not just from her palm, but from everywhere.
She is a chalice, and she overflows.
It explodes above and below her -- she is a column of light.
And from behind her -- vast wings of pure energy unfurl, growing like fresh spring shoots, fast and hard and yet sweet and soft. They shelter.
While in front of her, the staff -- her staff -- is where it's been all along, since she thrust it into the snow to save Homura.
The rose blooming furiously at its tip burns like it's the eighth star.
BEAMWAR! Madoka Kaname has placed her bid! Queen Metallia still needs to bid! BEAMWAR! Queen Metallia has placed her bid! BEAMWAR! Sayaka Miki, Kasagami Araki, Mami Tomoe, Fuu Hououji, Steven Universe, Ladybug, La Sirene des Opales, Homura Akemi, Madoka Kaname, Sourisi, Princess Mars, Lancelot, and Princess Serenity rally, their What Dreams May Come exploding through Queen Metallia's Dark Star for a total of 1930 Fatigue damage! Sayaka Miki, Kasagami Araki, Mami Tomoe, Fuu Hououji, Steven Universe, Ladybug, La Sirene des Opales, Homura Akemi, Madoka Kaname, Sourisi, Princess Mars, Lancelot, and Princess Serenity are victorious! BEAMWAR! Madoka Kaname and Queen Metallia are unable to keep fighting!
<Pose Tracker> Queen Metallia [None] has posed. <SoundTracker> Moonlight Densetsu https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bBpiHJm3t0
"Fools! Everyone is born alone and dies alone! Your connections, your support -- ephemeral, fleeting constructs!"
Seeing that the array of magical girls is failing to fall to her quick efforts, Metallia's expression turns wrathful.
And as the girls begin to draw together, to gestalt their strong resolution, deep faith, and pure love through the conduit of the Maiden of Dreams, the darkness surrounding them, in shattered earth and veiled sky, intensifies. It's hard to say where it's coming from, exactly -- this evil power seems to be absolutely everywhere, surrounding and binding.
All of it, streaming towards the demoness' form. She is its genesis and is expression, the alpha and the omega.
The essence of the descent, at least in this moment.
With an enraged roar she thrusts her palms outwards, trying to race the girls, to blast them out of existence faster than they can summon their full powers. A torrent of void pours towards them, casting evil halos where it refracts their light.
But their power -- Planetary power, Earthly power, powers from worlds far and near, powers from without and powers from within... it rises to meet the tide of darkness head on, and as it does so it merges truly into one. No longer a rainbow; instead a strobe, one color at a time but always all of it itself.
There is no single shade of the heart, and so although it is encompassed by a massively silver sheen, what impacts Metallia's deathblow is breathtakingly lovely and spectacular. It is hope, as purely as she is hunger.
They strain back and forth for a long moment, and then -- not inevitably but inexorably, and only with the contributions of each and every individual on the field -- the magical girls begin pushing Metallia back.
The light approaches her palms, inch by inch.
"NO! After all these years, I will not be sealed again! I will not!"
It looks like she doesn't have to worry about that, because as the light touches her fingers, they are vaporized -- as are her wrists, her arms, and then the rest of her, all at once, as the energy rushes through in a bursting dam of hearts.
The Silverine Dreaming, that memory of light, revealed a miracle forged alone. Even it could only send Metallia away.
With everyone together, something greater has been wrought. A true ending of darkness --
-- and a new beginning for the light.
As the clouds overhead recede, the revealed night sky is almost blinding in its brightness. Each star twinkles with what feels like approval, in colors nearly as countless as those of the girls. Seven of them wink in unison.
And the Moon shines most brightly of all, as though the ancient Queen who fell to make tonight possible is blessing every girl and boy touched by its light. Another still, small voice, which couldn't be more unlike Metallia's, briefly whispers from within, quiet and clear in the night, in the heart.
Remember... the most important thing... is not that you're a princess or a knight or a chosen warrior. The most important thing... is that you are a person. Live on, and live in happiness, my child...
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
With every heart together, all of their dreams and desires and love for friends and family together, that horrific power is beaten back. At first, even together, it seems a dim hope to Kasagami. But as they push, as she helps press harder and harder, Kasagami stands more and more firm.
"You should never have been free to hurt anyone in the first place." Comes the Duelist quietly. There's no anger or hatred here. Instead, there's simple pity for Metallia as the beam of their hearts finally tears into and banishes the old tyrant that would have cut them all down along with everything they've known.
When the light returns, the Moon shining high above, Kasagami looks up to peer at the beauty overhead. The many colors in the stars, and most importantly? The wonderful light on high and the whispers that touch the ear and stirr her heart.
'Live on, and live in happiness, my child.'
The words hurt, but it's the hurt of cleansing alcohol on a wound. Of a spike of warmth after getting in from the cold. Kasagami Araki looks over to her dear friends, this crowd of magical girls and boys, nodding to each and every one of them. She sits down, one leg crossed, the other with her knee propped up as she leans on it. Sword laid down beside her, she closes her eyes.
And then collapses, only to look at the sky again. One hand rises, fingers open to heaven.
"Mother...Father...is that what you'd say to me? It's hard..."
A gentle wind kicks up a light sway of her dark tresses.
"Maybe with the help of those I love, I can try." She whispers in turn. After a few moments lost in her own thoughts, she goes to join the others, the spark in her eyes that much brighter.
<Pose Tracker> Ladybug [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.
There's a legend written in the moonlight. It started thousands of years ago, and the latest chapter just ended. Silver light, shining forth, puts an end to Metallia's newfound existence. Unlike that memory of the Silver Millennium, though...there won't be another one. Above it all, moonlight shines against the stars.
It takes a moment for Marinette's eyes to focus again. For one, the clash of dreams against oblivion was nigh-blinding in its intensity, and frankly she's still seeing spots. For another, she's finally looking at the here and now, instead of looking to some distant future or to some half-built ambition. It's...a little disorienting, but here they are.
"After all those thousands of years...it's finally over. We're all free of that shadow. ...thank you." To the distant memory of Queen Serenity, to the conviction of the Maiden of Dreams, Ladybug speaks to the stars. Abruptly, she makes a fist, holds it out towards those shining heavens, a smile on her face. "And well played."
Whether she was left hanging or if the fist-bump was invisible to all others might be a mystery for the ages.
She turns to the rest of the group, tension going out of her shoulders. Here, she doesn't have to be a hero of justice, a force against darkness. She can just be...a person, with a dream of her own. One red-gloved hand reaches up to touch her face, considering...
But in the end, at least for now, Marinette leaves it be.
"So, uh...I'm going to be horribly honest, I'm used to having to run off with something like two minutes to spare. We're, uh..." Marinette's blush isn't quite the same as her usual crimson domino mask as Ladybug, but it's making a pretty good stab at a start. "...we made it. We all survived and get to go out and back up what we said we were going to do in future and what was I even saying there-"
She looks back and forth between the closest dozen, those who she joined for this last stand. "...would...would any of you be offended if I put my mask back on? I'm really a lot better at talking and...everything with it on."
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
Lancelot falls to a knee and puts one hand to the cold ground there. That hand, near the hilt of Arondight trembles slightly and he closes his eyes and jsut thanks whatever god or colelction of gods, or after everything he's seen, collection faeries and dinosaurs in their rainbow court that govern the universe. He takes a shakey breath and lets it out before he gathers Arondight, and still on one knee sheathes the blade after a quick twirl.
He hears the final words and manages, by the skin of his teeth, to not cry this time. As she wishes his to live on, and in happiness he says very softly, "Thank you, for all you've done."
He stands up and looks over to Ladybug, minus her mask and smiles that infectiously rogue grin of his at her. "Thank you. When we were fighting our way here. I wouldn't have made it without your help." He tilts his head, and transforms.
Unlike turning into Lancelot, turning into Takeo is much less dramatic. The armor glows and then fades from existence in little flashing motes of lightning. The last thing to go is Arondight. A final soft crackle as the Demon's Bane returns to wherever it is it goes. Merlin explained once where his power comes from and where his armor and weapons go. He couldn't explain it if it was given to him on flash cards. He extends a hand to her and smiles. "My name is Takeo Akamizu. Ohtorri Grade eleven, class A." He bows his head ot her. "Pleasure to meet you." He winks to her, "And go ahead with the mask. I jsut figured you deserved to know who I was. I would have died with out you. Thank you."
<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
There is a pink that is theirs, and among everything, Mami too believes. The light pulses, all of theirs, now.
And here... It's dangerous, to distract someone during a critical battle; it's dangerous, to say something important, in the midst of something else, it risks losing words. It's dangerous to look away from the enemy.
...But it's dangerous to believe that the world is good, and it's dangerous to open one's heart.
What Mami sees as Sayaka grasps her hand is not a distraction, though--opening her heart, one of those precious lights looking to her, too, only swells that devotion, that hope. Mami cares for so many... And she cares for this one, too.
And she does read Sayaka's lips, over beautiful music from all of them. A bad time...
Mami doesn't yawn, this time. Metallia makes her retort, and Mami does not look towards her, sees the light of friends in her vision and two blue eyes up close. This terrible darkness is ended, and the stars above are so beautiful, so crisp, even as cold as it is here. Still Mami says nothing, even as she feels thos seven. This moment is real, is precious. And the voice...
Remember, it says--no, she says. An ancient voice that is a balm, and that encouragement... To live in happiness. To live on--Mami's very wish years ago.
"Sayaka-chan," Mami murmurs, in answer, and steps forward, a hand resting on Sayaka's bicep as she stands up on the balls of her feet and presses her lips to Sayaka's, and it is an answer even if it is not in words.
With the ice fields, the stars above, the shining moon, the brilliance of everyone here... She can give her words to the others after.
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.
With every last bit of his strength, Steven pours his heart into the pink colored beam of positivity made into energy. There was no way he would give up. It would be fine if it was just him, but he was living for two. And he couldn't let them down, now could he? And that doesn't even include every one of his friends here today either!
"It may be fleeting," the boy shouts over the powers that scream between. "But it is the most wonderful thing anyone can ever experience! The power of friendship!" In retrospect, that felt a little cheesy, and...
No, ya know what? He thinks it fits. In this moment... it fits.
In glorious, scintillating fashion, Queen Metallia is undone by an opposing force that reflected her own, negative versus positive. Light versus dark/ And as times before, the light banishes the darkness.
Everything grows serene and peaceful. The cancerous power that festered in this place recedes much the the little boy's cheer, and a hand is held out to look upon moonlight shining into a palm. A voice is heard deep within. Never heard by ear, yet so familiar.
Steven remains tense even after it speaks, as he looks around where they are. Was something else could to crawl out fro mthe depths of despair and strike?
...Thankfully no. For a small time, the small child gazes to his shield. He looks at it longingly for what feels like forever, before gently tossing it into the air, it winking out at the apex of its spin and height, pink sparkles remaining behind for scant moments. "We... really did it that time!"
"I'm uh... really happy I could help," he says sheepishly. There are so many things he wants to say, especially to the princesses. He wants to tell them how much he looks up to them after this, how they are like role models to him besides his caretaker-moms!
...But today has been very stressful for them, for certain. Maybe he should let them have their space.
...Nah. Gotta gush! "You guys were super cool!" Is just that start of what he levels at them. And in turn, he starts practically cheering about everyone here, from Puella Magi, to Knights, to Duelists and Miraculous, and to the fashionable la Opales of course.
<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
Sayaka lifts a forearm to shield her eyes from the radiance. Slowly letting it drop, she watches falling sparkles, her heart in her throat. It's a joy that's almost sad. That there could be such beauty in the world is worth weeping for. Perhaps the sky thinks so too, tonight.
Sayaka turns slowly back to Mami. The older girl has always been in soft focus for Sayaka lately, but now that is literally true, as the haze of falling light and hopelit snow drenches everything that is golden about Mami until it suffuses her. The unheard confession is still burning on her lips, her eyes wide with uncertainty. But Mami's beauty softens her shoulders and steals tension from her cheeks.
Mami's delicate hand alights on the strength of her swordarm. Mami's boots bend to extend her legs. And before Sayaka can finish an indrawn breath, the confession lingering on her lips is quenched so fully it might as well be at the bottom of the ocean.
"Mm?" she queries, which might be Mami's name, and might just be noise. Dizzied, Sayaka feels a headrush nearly take her down mid-kiss, one of her knees bending briefly. But brief though it may be, Sayaka understands how crucial this moment is.
So this is the happy ending. Sayaka's back straightening, the snow scattered on her cape glittering like all the stars in the sky. Two little joys among thousands. The knight, at long last, kisses her queen.
<Pose Tracker> Princess Serenity [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed. <SoundTracker> To Protect the Stars 3 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vws9UuQmCi0
It starts as a small push. And then strains into a larger one. The lights of the dreams and feelings of all these girls. Princess Serenity beholds them all.
... there's this daft - obnoxious...
"Nnnh-" Suddenly Princess Serenity is pushing harder. One can almost hear her about to complain in the myriad forms it can take right now.
...amazing girl who convinced me everyone's worth giving a chance.
Oh it was praise after all. The little knot of tension releases, and instead becomes her beaming with pride as her feelings shove back.
Princess Serenity's eyes pick out the lights of those beholding the struggle. Of Ami and Makoto and Minako but also Madoka and Mami and Sayaka and Homura and Nori and Ladybug Kasagami and Fuu and Niramo and Takeo and Steven.
A wellspring of color, and belief. Joining.
And then... it's over. The power that brought an end to the Silver Millenium destroyed, not simply sealed. "... Thank you." Princess Serenity says to a Maiden of Dreams, who is...
Overhead, seven stars wink in approval.
There's a subtle smile, "You didn't need to leave right away you know. When you're ready - come find me..." Then she corrects herself, "... us... again."
However the smile fades away unto wonder, when suddenly there's an ancient nostalgia behind the voice that speaks to her. The Princess Serenity in her stands still for a moment, before more tears roll down her cheeks. "I will..." Being a normal girl is too precious to her to do otherwise. "... Mother."
Brushing away at her cheeks. When she turns around to face the others, she's smiling so brightly that one can't imagine she was sad even for a moment. And then she's leaning sideways into Princess Mars' personal space to whisper, "And just who exactly is that amazing girl that inspired you Rei-chan?" Princess Serenity asks almost brattily, because she definitely knows the answer, she just wants to try to get Rei Hino to say it. "Hmm... hmm?" As she presses, even now, within the shower of light.
Perhaps there's even laughter from how normal this is of Usagi, and each gets one quick, fierce little hug that seems to belie the capabilities of her skinny arms.
"You did more than help Steven." Princess Serenity finally says to the young boy, as he gushes and calls them cool, "I imagine you've made the Crystal Gems very proud of you."Which is when Marinette starts fumbling over her words, "Hmmm." She puts a hand to her chin, "You're adorable like this though Marinette-chan." It's an innocent sort of tease which holds none of the regality that she's known for. Before she flaps a hand back at her, "Of course you can put it back..."
However, this is the exact moment that she notices Mami kissing Sayaka Miki. And thus, it's the moment that Princess Serenity's cheeks become all flushed by how unexpected it is. "...on."
Princess Serenity trails off, eyes glued to Mami kissing Sayaka Miki.
Princess Serenity waits until the two are finished without comment. As soon as they're finished, she's stepping over to Madoka lightly, waiting until she's unoccupied to wrap her in a small, yet fierce hug with her arms as she murmurs, "You know... I feel like I wouldn't have gone very far as Sailor Moon if not for you. When things where are their worst... I just tried to remember the things you taught me..."
Those are not simple things like how to fight - or react. They were powerful magic spells though all the same, of believing in one's self. What one is capable of. And the people around you.
"... rather than what happened last time... when the Silver Millenium came to an end."
It's only once she releases her though, and is standing at her side, that she turns to face Sayaka and Mami. She certainly meant every word she said to Madoka...
... however now that she's beside her. It feels like the perfect opportunity all the same.
"Soooo...." She drawls, her smile seeming especially girlish, "... when did..." A finger traces the space between Mami, then Sayaka, then both of her hands form something like a heart. "... happen?"
<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.
The light of the Moon shines once more upon the frigid tomb that is the Dark Kingdom. The throne room of a Queen that caused the fall of a great civilization sparkles with mysterious light now. Does evil still linger in these halls, even with Metallia gone? Or is this room have it's own inner light than can only shine through now.
That's not for Sourisi to say. Above all else, she's happy to be here to assist her friends.
The gentle wind that lingers still tugs at a strip of tan magical cloth in a hand, and suddendly Sourisi remembers there's a few more pressing details going on at the moment. Marinette was Ladybug?! But...she-they...they were nothing alike! Aaaand she got caught up in the moment and took her own mask off as well.
The lecture from Takk is going to be -legendary- tonight.
Quickly attaching her eye mask back onto her face while all the while realizing her 'secret' identity was going to be an open secret now, Sourisi turns to look around her and at the others...just in time to see the student that assisted her against some bullies was the magical knight?! That...might actually explain why he helped at the ball so long ago. But...why was he speaking French to Marinette? Did the two of them know each other that well?
And...oh. Oh my. Sourisi's blush is clear even as she turns away from Mami and Sayaka exchanging a kiss. This was something she shouldn't intrude on, even if it was in public.
Even as Steven cheers them on, Sourisi looks back up at the Moon, remembering the whisper of a voice from a bygone age. "It's not what you are...it's what you do with your life, is it?" Wasn't that also the message that Kasagami was trying to tell during the Dream Faire?
Sourisi has always wondered why she was picked to use a Miraculous. She wasn't the soul of a reborn person from a Moon civilization, or a descendant of magical aliens or some other wonderous backstory the magical defenders of Tokyo seem to have. She was just a normal girl who happened to stumble upon an artifact while shopping. Sometimes, she wonders if it was a mistake that she is a magical girl.
But then again, you don't need magic to fight for what you believe in, to want to make the world a better place. It just helps a little.
Sourisi looks away from the celestial object and smile over at Marin-no, Ladybug. "I think going without the eye mask is a bit of a fashion blunder, Ladybug-chan. 'Eye' can't believe it!" After a night like tonight, a small pun can go quite a long way.
<Pose Tracker> La Sirene des Opales [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
"Perhaps," says des Opales: "But what about the middle?"
And then the darkness fades and the sky returns. The cold wind blows but despite her turned-back clothing la Sirene does not quite feel it. She breathes out, misting in the cool air, as she feels that memory - and wonders...
Her cheeks color slightly.
She tilts her head back to look at the stars above. She turns to face south (not that this is hard here), following shapes. She tilts her head down - to look towards the horizon...
Her arms cross before her loosely. "Hah," she tells herself. "That's right. Too far north... you cannot get any norther than this."
She looks towards Marinette - Ladybug - and smiles at her. "No," she tells her.
She looks towards - oh! Her eyes widen and her cheeks pinken a bit more as Mami Tomoe lays a firm and decisive smooch on Sayaka Miki. She claps her hands once. "Ahh! What a perfect place to --!!"
La Sirene reels backwards. Head rush.
She comes back to.
As Serenity speaks to Mars, la Sirene cuts in for a moment, to approach Madoka and to sweep her up into a brief and fierce hug. She smooths a stray lock of pink hair then and smiles at her gently, before leaning forward - down a little now, when it didn't used to be the case, but perhaps she is destined for height - to press her forehead against Madoka's. "Thank you," she says.
The embrace does not end so much as fade.
"Akemin," she then says, looking to Homura, "I do not suppose you have any fireworks left in your bag of tricks...? I think they would be quite proper." Though then she looks at the heavens once more.
"But the sky is beautiful like this, too."
("Maybe we can signal the Russian navy... or is it Canada? And Argentina and America too... maybe we could walk to Norway...")
<Pose Tracker> Ladybug [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.
In the heat of the moment, Marinette needed to step forward. Now that the crisis has passed, though, the realization that everyone knows who she is and that every bad pun is entering the public record forever, well...
Lancelot steps up, and doffs his armor in a flash of light. On one hand, the solidarity is nice - Sourisi's de-masking was noted, and the girl in red gives that friend a sheepish wave. On the other hand, the sudden reveal to her manages to make Marinette panic even more.
"I - that - I didn't need to know! It was fine, really, and you helped me out of just as many pinches so we're even, okay?" She reaches out for the sheepiest, most timid fistbump of Ladybug's career.
Pauses, for a moment. Slowly, Ladybug tilts her head. "...you do know that not everyone else here can speak French, right? I figured it was fine on the way here, but..."
Her Juuban senpai speaks up next, and the flush on Marinette's face increases. "Senpai! Adorable isn't the point, and it's a panic, and you know who probably doesn't find panic adorable which means that my future prospects of all sorts are completely-" A breath, a long sigh. "I just- thanks. The whole thing was - it seems kind of silly now, but it was more than just making things fair this time."
There's a kiss that deservedly takes center stage, and Ladybug takes advantage of the diversion to swipe two fingers across her own face. By the time everyone stops gawking, she'll have her familiar domino mask back...for what little it might or might not help.
She makes her way over toward Sourisi, an apology ready on her lips - but is met with a joke that leaves her groaning. Indignant, Ladybug plants her hands on her hips, staring down her teammate and friend. "Enough has certainly been revealed...that was horrible! I hope you realize that I can never learn Chat's identity - dealing with those puns in both lives would be unlivable. Just - absolutely - "
In spite of that indignation, she's smiling. Before everything, after everything, they're people.
<Pose Tracker> Princess Mars [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
In a girl's life she will know many voices without a single one being said; the voice of reason, of criticism, of indulgence.
And - sometimes small and sometimes distant but always there - is conscience.
She is a person, and Princess Mars is Rei Hino, after all. As a Soldier she is harsh enough to assist in Metallia's obliteration; but it is her bonds as a girl which weave through, light on light on light. And it is over and Princess Mars stands firm, in the wake of a foe which has plagued them for centuries and centuries.
She smiles - to the sky, to the girls and boys gathered. She gives Serenity privacy for her tears.
Unfortunately, this extremely thoughtful gesture means she is completely blindsided by the sudden familiar invasion of personal space. The nervous, disbelieving expression on her face is hardly fit for a Princess. "Ehh-- you heard that?" Her cheeks colour with embarrassment as she realises what she's blurted out, and she glares at Usagi, sticking out her tongue. "I can't believe you're worrying about something like that at a time like this!"
She gets a hug anyway. All the Senshi do.
And when she looks to the others, she is not nearly so snappish. "I'm glad everyone was here..." Perhaps she would have said more, if not for what Usagi has seen.
"Give them some privacy, geez!" She hisses, in a stage-whisper, elbowing her fellow Princess.
She says this without taking her eyes off of Mami or Sayaka for a moment, and when the other girl thinks to ask about when it happened, she leans forward as if the answer is the most important thing in the world.
<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed. <SoundTracker> Dream Is Collapsing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jx5KJQb0pDo
The last of the huge pink leaves Madoka's tiny body in streamers, then in tendrils, and finally in sublimely delicate roots, until there is none left at all.
Her hand loosens, then leaves Homura's entirely, as she falls backwards into the snow -- both her arms stretching outward -- she's a snow angel!
She's smiling. She's smiling so hard, as she's hugged by Usagi, then by Nori.
A plume of rose-incense smoke drifts upwards from the torch that was her unstrung bow.
She's smiling so hard her teeth are grinding. No; she's grimacing.
"--Homu--ch--n!" A mangled gasp.
She isn't an angel and those aren't snow wings. No; her arms are seizing. And freezing. This is no place for the Ohtori girls' uniform.
What's that black thing on her palm?
A stone? No, too perfectly smooth.
An egg? No, too sharp.
Now its tip pierces her palm and its other end has the very last miniscule mote of pink -- a perfect, delicate facimile of one of her ribbons. Their ends tumble in the arctic breeze.
Her mouth gapes open, wider, wider. Her insides are pink too, of course. But this is no yawn.
It isn't just a scream that rips out of Madoka, out of her throat.
The fragile spherical housing of the Grief Seed crumples from the force of the black vapor surging out of it and disappearing, along with a final glimmer of something else, some other color, something else so small and so brief that it was probably imagined anyway -- upwards.
It accelerates with impossible speed, twining loosely around itself -- then more tightly -- then even more tightly still --
-- implosion --
Black lightning crackles.
Black rain falls -- no, it's streamers again, dozens of them, hundreds, thousands, tumbling downwards instead of up. It's like a vast, round tent.
No; a vast, round skirt.
And at its apex is the vapor yet, a cumulus cloud working itself into a thunderhead; it grows and grows and grows.
It grows arms. Then a nose. And two bulging eyes. And lips that make Metallia's look like a Barbie doll's, if we're talking about scale, though in terms of feature it's just an indent, a pucker, because this cloud can somehow scar.
the face of the WITCH
Kriemhild Gretchen's face
towers, higher, higher, higher, until it's lost to distance
lost to the sky
lost to heaven
lost like the top of a mountain is lost.
It -- she? -- does not go alone. Ice is cracking all around, belching fog. Flecks of snow take wing, then dissolve impossibly back into liquid; suspended in an unseen force the droplets are strange in their perfect sphericality.
Drawn upwards with the Witch's arms (still out-, now up-stretched, and no angel of any kind) the only light remaining is from the Moon -- as filtered through gaps in her form -- and it transforms them into itself, visually. Odd little moon-beads, whirling and jerking in unnatural orbits on their path to their new mistress.
Beneath, the earth groans.
Above, something else groans too.
Tinier than ever set against this backdrop, Madoka doesn't groan. She is absolutely still, which is what happens when you aren't a person anymore -- because you've become a corpse.
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
As Mami and Sayaki kiss he awkwardly fist bumps Marinette and gives her another wink. "It's cool. The armor chaffs in places you don't ... " His eyes go to Madoka.
"Want ... " She screams and he blinks a few times as she begins to ... change.
"To..." Takeo follows the growth skyward and his eyes just grow wider and wider.
"Know about.... Oh. Sh#% again." He scrambles for his oendent under his shirt clearly prepared to to suffer that chaffing once more. Madoka. Little pink haired Madoka. he saw her wear a Lancelot T-Shirt once. About the only person who ever did anything like that as far as he knew. Madoka. Happy cheerful bubbly and kinda cool Madoka.
And she was, or had turned into someting .... What did Eri call them? "Witch." He whispers and finally pulls the pendant out. "I SWEAR TO DEFEND THE INNOCENT!"
Like that Lighting strikes and he's armored up again.
Lancelot looks up at Madoka and sheds a tear. He's tired. He's hungry. He;s absolutely heart broken. However, he's in armor again, scared beyond belief, but he's ready to fight a Witch, even if he doens't have the heart for it.
And with that thought, Arondight flares to light crackling lightning, causing the tears that fall to glitter as they freeze in the Antartic air.
<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
Sayaka loses some time.
Has anyone ever fallen so fast and so far from joy to despair?
Mami's kiss is still warm on her lips. It's selfish, Sayaka knows, but this feels like punishment from the universe. For being too happy. God help her, for paying attention to romance instead of friendship for a little while. Shame had always ruled Sayaka.
She's squatting in front of Madoka. She touches her face.
She loses a little more time.
"Hey," Sayaka whispers, and the whisper brings Sayaka back. There are a lot of things she could say. Hours of things. Maybe a lifetime. Sayaka knows already, with perfect clarity, that Madoka will be with her always. At graduation, in college, at her first job. On the track, on vacation. At her wedding, if she has one. When she's old. It is no comfort right now. It is a life sentence.
But it always was, wasn't it? With she and she.
In the end, all she says is, "Thanks."
Against the wind, heedless of the trembling ground, Sayaka stands. There is her childhood, dead on the ground. She fell in love and lost Madoka. There is no door back now, back to the schoolyard, back to looking out the window while her parents drive. Sayaka is a woman now. And she feels the difference.
Children go to war. Adults make it.
Reaching to her collar, Sayaka gives it a sharp yank, ripping her cape free. Laying it across Madoka, she pauses one more moment, to look, to give it a tuck. It is the last time she will hesitate tonight.
She walks to Mami, bare-shouldered, red-eyed, and takes her face in one hand. "Don't," she whispers. She pleads. She knows what she sees in Mami's eyes. Her own are limned with frosty lashes, her cheeks streaked, the tears frozen there as if she refused to cry them.
"Stay with me," she urges Mami softly. "Tell tonight..." Her voice labors, having difficulty coming out. Her lip trembles with violent emotion. "...that it takes nothing else from us."
The second time Sayaka and Mami kiss is nothing like the first. Firmer. Damp with pain.
By the time it ends, a sword has already hissed into Sayaka's hand, and she grips the hilt tight.
"Come on," she offers, along with an extended hand. Palm up, for a lady. "I can't do this without you."
The air groans as if it was bending, the sound of something massive shifting. Little flurries of snow dance at their feet from the wind. This place is slowly falling apart beneath their feet, but Sayaka stands there as if she would wait forever for Mami to take her hand.
The taller girl sniffs hard, to avoid sniffing again for a bit. She tries to smile, which makes her eye leak a bit onto her cheek. "When we get back... I'll tell you so you can hear it."
<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
Yes. At least one other has fallen so fast, so far. At least one.
Mami opens her eyes; Mami watches. Mami hears. Her lips are still warm, yes, but something icy has seized about her heart. Mami Tomoe knows, better than nearly anyone alive right now, what a Grief Seed looks like. It is impossible. It is mad, it is horrible, it is worse than anything.
She thought it would never happen again. She was sure that if anyone died, it would be her. but is it--is it that? Mami cannot understand it. The ice crackles, and Mami does not want to know what she knows. Her heart aches, and everything aches, and all she wants, all it feels like she could ever want, is for Madoka to reveal that it was some sort of prank, some girlish high spirits, something that doesn't make sense that could be better than this. There is a groan.
Mami does not realize the strangled noise in the back of her own throat. What good is it, to hope, if it will end this way? What good is wishing, and wanting, and living, if every time, another thing will be taken?
Why is she alive? Why did she have to know the joy of her dearest friend if it was only going to be taken--taken like this? If it means--
...At the edges of Mami's mind, the connections threaten to fall into place, and she is shock-still, completely stiff, staring in horror. She does not want to finish her thought after all. But when Sayaka goes to Madoka, Mami can't. Mami cannot move, certain that if she even so much as more breathes she will shatter, and achingly, painfully, all she wants is to hear that voice one more time.
It's obvious, in her eyes, when Sayaka comes; the tears freezing to her face, but the utter, complete despair that threatens to overwhelm her. Not even the bliss of what she thought could happen can pierce through. What could? What could, in the face of--
...Of Sayaka, who comes. Who pleads with her, and Mami blinks, and turns her gaze up to her. In her eyes is why? In her eyes is how? But...
But it is different, this time. Mami feels one thing break through the shell, and it is Sayaka, and numbly she nods, when the other girl looks to her...
"Sayaka," she starts to say, and it hurts, it hurts so much.
But she feels it as much, more, doesn't she? She knew her so much longer, had that wonderful presence all her life...
Mami's trembling hand moves to Sayaka's, and she can't do more than fake a curve of her lips, nothing like a smile. "I'm looking forward to it," Mami promises.
It is a kind lie. She knows she will never go back. But if she can stay, a little longer, for her knight...
"I'll go with you."
<Pose Tracker> Princess Mars [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
And at first it seems normal. Ladybug - Marinette! - is stumbling over her words until she finds her composure again, Steven is gushing, Usagi is being her usual annoying self.
And at first Princess Mars barely registers the way Madoka falls into the snow, as if it were an entirely normal expression of relief.
And at first she does not connect with alarm the way white-pink ruffles have become white and warm grey.
It's only at her second glance - that she realises.
No, no, no...
"Madoka!" Princess Mars cries, as she realises she is seizing. Takeo has the harsh words she does not quite manage to say, as the spinnet pierces and there is a black which is deep and dark and more than what it ought to be. All at once she staggers to feel the outpouring of wrongness, and her arm gropes out to grasp at Usagi's. There is an acrid taste at the back of her teeth, needling behind her eyes, pressure at her temples, as her descriptive sense floods over to needle the prescriptive senses instead. She does not need to be sensitive to know this is not as it ought to be. This is a horror which can be shared with everyone.
She grasps tightly at Princess Serenity's hand, holds her wrist with the other, and there is no bravado on her face any more. The abhorrence of Metallia she bluffed through, though it lashed at her; but this, this! Her friend is dead, a monster rises. "Madoka," she says again, a prayer or a plea, and the bottoms of her eyelids are tight with the way her cheeks draw up in tension to accommodate the gape of her mouth.
She feels Princess Serenity drop and looks to her, stricken, and it is easier than looking at that thing, that broad and unknowable thing. Princess Mars kneels to help her, wrapping an arm about her to hoist her standing, though her own legs tremble.
And when she is upright again Mars does not, strictly speaking, let go, but instead leans in against her as if Serenity is holding her upright just as much as the inverse is true. "Usagi," she whispers, voice thin like ribbons, "Usagi, what happened?" She cannot comprehend it; it is so rare to see Mars afraid.
She is aware, on some level, of the way the ice cracks. But this - this! -- it is too much, she cannot bear it. Certainly Sailor Mars has fought Familiars, Witches; she is Madoka's friend. She does not like to fight them. They are noneuclidean; they are nonsensical. Even spirits have a logic to them, though it can be difficult to find. They have grudges and unfulfilled desires and wishes never met. A Witch is - a Witch is --
And then the cracking reaches them and sense finally shakes its way through the cracks of her mind, and the Soldier of War does what she must and leaps away with her Princess. "Come on," she says, forcing volume into her voice again. "We're not done yet."
They have to keep going. It's what she always told Usagi.
<Pose Tracker> Princess Serenity [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed. <SoundTracker> Thanatos - Neon Genesis Evangelion - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZs0rb8aQlE
Was Madoka's smile just a little too wide?
Princess Serenity does not notice. Perhaps she's just a little too tired, too drained, despite all appearances to notice the sign that anything could be wrong. Instead she's laughing at Princess Mars, "If they wanted privacy then they should have..."
However then there's a gasp. And Princess Serenity's head turns. "Madoka...?" She still doesn't realize anything is wrong. To her it's a small disaster, like Madoka forgot what day it was and it turned out to be someone's birthday.
However the way her limbs are contorting- the way her mouth is opening. "Help her..." The Princess whispers, in abject horror, as Mars' hand takes hers and she frantically pleads with the crowd. "... somebody do something!"
And with a single trembling hand, she raises the Moon Stick bearing the Ginzuishou to do just that. "Silver Crystal..."
And then a Grief Seed erupts out of her... as black mist, creates an implosion.
The third word of 'please' never leaves her throat. She...
... had no idea what she was asking the Silver Crystal to do.
She still doesn't. Not really. "Madoka... MADOKA!"
The force of the implosion takes even her off guard, sends her sprawling. Her twintails and silver gown fluttering. As she looks upon a witch so massive that it feels like it could blot out all of the heavens, sending a dark pall even over the light of the moon.
And almost an infinitesimal speck compared to it is the hollow form of Madoka Kaname.
There's a horrible sort of despair, as she realizes her eyes aren't even blinking. "No..." The deaths of the other Senshi are so fresh that it cannot help but evoke them. "...Nuh-No!" The chain of events are proving something. No matter how much Usagi Tsukino has cried, she is never truly dried up. "NO!" She doesn't even have to check for other signs of life. There are none in those eyes. She knows it.
And thus this nightmare hasn't ended. For all the triumphs and small joys... it was still going on. How much can one girl take?
It would only be right for her to be frozen in a sobbing mess. That is perhaps almost what happens. However then she sees Madoka's best friend cover her with a cape, saying something so soft. It is not to her. However... 'Tell tonight...'
The girl's eyes squeeze shut for a moment, as she trembles with the force of her emotion.
Instead she slowly brings herself back to a knee on the icy ground. "She's right..." Tears staining the ground. And she hears...
And the girl's eyes squeeze shut in a moment. "I need help... getting up..." Then she blubbers for a moment, "... need... help."
Princess Serenity solicits, as she sounds suddenly bone-weary, like all the second wind she got from their triumph before has fled her, as she sucks in a breath, steadying herself as she does, only with the support of Princess Mars, "I... don't know." It's perhaps half a lie, as she sniffs her answer to her on what is going on. "I... duhn't..." She's not a stupid girl. Her time with the others has taught her just enough. "...nuh-know!" She chokes out Her mind has made the connection, she just doesn't want to say it.
Another breath, as she tries to recompose herself is...
"All I know is... we have to keep going... for just a little longer... a little more..."
The words of Metallia crawl within her head. Never is a long time. The world is ugly and full of filth. In a world where this could happen to Madoka Kaname at a time like this. It would seem like that's right.
Gripping the Moon Stick, however, she finds herself creating a barrier of shining light once again.
'We're not done yet.' Mars says.
And Princess Serenity agrees in a subdued way, that still feels very Usagi. "... I'm tired... I'm scared... I'm hungry..." It's like she's complaining. Except not truly. That's just a superficial analysis. Instead it's more a statement of fact. "...but if it's for Madoka Kaname... I'll keep going."
The girl is dead. The girl is a...
Her mind cannot truly think it. Even now. Not that word. Because that word is like an impassable gulf.
Tonight she saw a small glimpse of Madoka Kaname's dreams, alit in that pink light. In her mind she can see it so clearly. That light is a denial of the possibility that it is gone. A denial of the funeral shroud that is her best friend's cape.
A denial of the witch that touches the sky.
"... wait for us Madoka-chan. We're coming."
<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
Wings of purest energy unfurl next to Homura. They fill her peripheral vision with beauteous pink and fill her chest with hope. Her shoulders rise, not to hunch but out of an irrepressible urge to somehow nestle into the gentle shelter of those wings' span.
"Kaname-san..." she whispers, awe and adoration and affection all in one. Seven stars shine, but Homura only has eyes for the eighth.
And together they accomplish the impossible, because together they are all so much greater than the sum of their individual contributions: together they bring light where there was darkness. Homura smiles up at the Moon, listening to the whisper from within and believing in it, too. She smiles at the gathered mahou, the princesses and the warriors and the knights -- the people, the precious friends she has made. Something else she'd thought was impossible. Mami and Sayaka's kiss sweetens that smile further and puts a flutter in her chest.
After all the joyful sharing of hugs and laughter she turns to give the full fluttery happiness of that smile to Madoka, because there's no one she'd rather share this moment -- any moment -- with.
But Madoka isn't smiling any more.
Soundtrack: PMMM movie OST - Fateful #4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ti_JRaJa7w
"What's- what's wrong? Kaname-san? ...Kaname-san! Hold on!!"
The obvious pain Madoka is in rips at her -- she drops to the frozen ground by her friend's side, agonizing over her agony. "...What? How, what's happening, why is this..." Her voice climbs, trails off into horrified nothingness.
Every pale and horrorstruck cell in Homura Akemi's body wants to deny what she sees happening in front of her, but... she has no choice, none at all, thanks to her brave and unflinching heart -- that congenitally-flawed muscle which has nonetheless persevered beyond imagining, and which has found new and wonderful reasons to keep beating. It sees, and it knows.
Her heart suffers a nauseating lurch to see that cruelly sharp spindle balanced upon her soft palm, to see it pierce down. It loses its rhythm when that intricate seed with its tiny pink ribbon contorts and implodes, because it knows.
It takes a heart to understand grief.
She wants more than anything to keep denying it somehow. This cannot be happening because Homura is supposed to save Madoka. It cannot be happening because she made a wish, and Kyuubey granted it, and she lives in a world where wishes prevail, not nightmares. This... this isn't... this isn't right...
It may not be right, but it is true.
Soundtrack: nine inch nails - Help Me I Am In Hell https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KD5a5lvRnA
Madoka's body lies before her, and even though her scream of pain was the most terrible sound Homura has ever heard she longs to hear it again, because it was still better than the nothing coming from her now. Anything would be, anything at all.
The other mahou around her react -- to the Witch-storm breaking above them (that's Madoka, cries Homura's heart), to the world groaning and shifting around them (that's Madoka, too), to the crumpled lifeless form in the Ohtori uniform and the pink twintails (Madoka, Madoka, Madoka). The pale girl in the color-leached violet henshin doesn't see them at all, not any more, although they may see the tears tracking down her cheeks.
They have already faded to a distant and meaningless grey for her, taking on a dissociative tinge of unreality which is both proactive and protective. Just as her heart knows what has happened, it also knows what she must do.
Homura reaches down and sobs, once, a broken sound, as she takes hold of Madoka's hand. So still. She finds that it is, impossibly, even more horrible to see her best friend die a second time.
"Don't worry, Kaname-san," she whispers. Homura sits up and tenderly folds the cooling hand she was holding onto the other girl's chest, right atop her Ohtori uniform bow.
Then she stands and reaches for her shield, moving as if through a dream. The magical device is endlessly intricate, but even though Homura has never personally initiated this action before she knows exactly what to do. Her fingers do not falter or slip.
Its esoteric clockwork moves easily under her hand, like it was waiting for her touch.
With a smooth click and a whir it rotates, and all can hear the sibilance of sand coursing downward, scrubbing clean all the choices made and kisses given and hands held since last it turned so.
Then the entire world spins around the shield instead, a vast counterclockwise twist and--
END OF TIMELINE TWO