2019-02-16 - TIMELINE 3: Monsters By Moonlight

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TIMELINE 3: Monsters By Moonlight

Against the background of the vampire-Orphan attacking girls at Ohtori Academy, Midori Sugiura investigates and goes missing. Then HiME and their allies are contacted with a warning that she's been seen... captured. A rescue mission ensues.

It's a trap.


Fuu Hououji,Kozue Kaoru, Takeo Akamizu, Mikoto Minagi, Nori Ankou, Mami Tomoe, Steven Universe, Ye-jin Song, Kasagami Araki, Miyu Greer, Alyssa Searrs

GM: Hotaru Tomoe


Keiyo Industrial District

OOC - IC Date:

2/16/2019 - 09-11-14

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Shinobi Yoru Kage https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjSgJs5h3XM


Starting a couple weeks ago, Ohtori suffered a rash of assaults on young women at night, attributed in whispers to a vampire. Alarm on campus skyrocketed; even by normal school standards, this fear and tension was beyond the pale.

Led by newly instated Disciplinary Executive Kasagami Araki, the Student Council issued an emergency curfew, which was unpopular with the student body. It is ongoing.

Magical girls who snuck out anyway (easier for non-Ohtori girls but of course they have to sneak ONTO the island instead of AROUND it, and if they get caught they too would be in trouble) discovered that the true threat was a massive, winged monster -- an Orphan. It had a pulsing red rune on its forehead. The magical girls engaged the monster in battle in the Ohtori forest and the skies above it, but it ultimately escaped, fading into the ground like a shadow.

The same night that that battle occurred, Ohtori eleventh-grader Akane Higurashi and her boyfriend Kazuya Kurauchi vanished from campus and have never been seen again. It wasn't noticed right away, but in the last few days eleventh-grade homeroom teacher Midori Sugiura appears to have disappeared as well; her history classes have had a substitute ever since. Neither hide nor hair of these people have been found...


...until now.

Half an hour ago, many HiME, and their allies, received a text message on their phone from an anonymous number.


The refinery in question is a gigantic tangle of tanks, pipes, towers and cranes. At night, it's a maze of shadows interspersed only occasionally by the coal-red of hot machinery and the blinding white of spotlights.

One such spotlight mercilessly illuminates Sugiura-sensei, who is, as promised, trussed up around her torso by a bunch of ropes, one of which snakes up to the edge of a balcony. She dangles limply, perhaps unconscious.

Which would make her totally unaware of the good half-dozen blueflame rocket-propelled, razor winged, manta ray-esque monsters screaming towards her, gaping fangs-first.

One of them plows straight through an oil refinery column on the way in, creating a stinking plume of smoke and shooting flame. It can be seen from miles away.

OOC: Please come in swinging on the Orphans!

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe transforms into Vampire!!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji transforms into Wind Knight!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Just because Fuu dislikes going anywhere near Ohtori doesn't mean she's going to ignore somebody in trouble. She *does* keep an ear out for the rumor mill, particlarly since one of her fellow Magic Knights is an Ohtori student; as such, she's aware of the mysterious disappearances ...

And the hint, anonymous or otherwise, that Sugiura-sensei is a captive somewhere well *away* from Southern Cross Island gives her a reason to head out to the Keiyou Industrial Zone.

She does her best to cover her tracks - subway rather than above-ground rail where she can, alleys rather than open rooftops when she has to leg it in magical form; the wind may be hers to command, but there's no way of knowing who's been able to track her, or how.

Trying to avoid open areas and sources of light makes the approach more interesting (and less familiar) than the Magic Knight of Wind would prefer, but after spotting the dangling (suspended?) teacher, the Wind Knight knows where she's going. She finally has to ascend a crane's scaffold to get a better view - and boy, does she get it, especially of the flying monsters. "We can't have that, can we ... Winds of Admonishment!!" the green-clad Magic Knight calls out, casting her spell wide. She's not quite as concerned about immobilizing any one of the monsters, but anything that flies depends on the air around it, and if she can generate enough turbulence it'll at *least* wreck the monsters' formation and thwart their initial attack.

It might even make them easier prey for any other magical girls (and/or boys) who happen to be on the scene.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Admonishment on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Takeo Akamizu transforms into Chevalier Knight Lancelot!
<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [None] has posed.

Kozue Kaoru is closing in on someone's lips when she gets a text message. Most of the time she wouldn't bother checking it...

Except for the fact that it had a ring tone, even though she was certain she'd put it on vibrate.

"Give me a minute..." She says as she breaks off just centimeters away from his lips and slides her hands into her nearby purse, "You're checking it now?" Says the boy with her, in total disbelief. "Yep." She answers, tapping it over to her texts, as he mutters something about girls and their phones.

As she checks it, her eyes narrow, "Why should I care about Sugiura...?"

However she looks at it longer, eyes narrowing. "That's not right... how did someone know to..."

Shouldering her purse suddenly, she says, "Change of plans." "Seriously!?" "Yep." Kozue says as she pushes the nearby door open and strides out without giving him another look, adjusting her blouse as she goes, "Turns out I need to earn that extra credit after all."


A chain rattles through the night, as a sleek looking weight at the end is cast out - just missing Midori, as it flies past her, and strikes a manta ray in a grazing hit, before it snakes around in a wrap trying to strangle one of its wings in its links. Then with a sharp tug she tries to pull it taut in a tug of war to attempt to force it up, and over - and to smash it into one of the columns of the refinery with blunt force.

"Mikoto! You didn't give out my number right?"

It invokes a time perhaps when whoever is Cassandra was trying to teach Mikoto how to use a phone...

... with mixed success.

"Because I sure didn't give it to that Nagi creep."

COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru transforms into HiME Kozue!
COMBAT: Cassandra has used Dominant Chord on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.


It had been ANOTHER boring day at school. As usual he had garnered yet ANOTHER detention for falling asleep in class. Some days, all Takeo wanted to do was to shake the teachers who gave him these detentions and ask when else was he supposed to sleep? Between midnight races and running around as Lancelot trying to save the world from Youma's and apparently freaking Vampires the only time he HAD to sleep was in class. Adults just don't understand how difficult it is to be a teenager. When his phone buzzed he looked at the text and frowned. He LIKES that teacher. She never cared when he got his sleep! He closed his phone and ducked around a corner removing his pendent as he whispers, "Come on Sparkles. It's time to armor up .... "


Having ridden Sparkles to the Oil Refinery the Knight of the Round Tabel spies Sugiura-Sensei hanging in spotlight and the strange monsters jetitng toward her. "Come on girl. We gotta take down the monsters!" And he applies his heels to Sparkles while he summons Arondight with a flash of lightning and a crash of thunder.

Sparkles rears and then is off lightning bolt. Her iron shod hooves sparking on the pavement as she barrels through the maze like layout of the Refinery. Lancelot holds his blade low and to the side as he crouches on the Warhorse's back to build up speed. Suddenly Sparkles leaps, hooves impacting the side of tower and pushes off to land on a higher platform and then leaps once more taking the Chevalier close enough to one of the monsters for Lancelot to swing with Arondight in mid air with accompaning shout of: "LIGHTNING IMPACT!"

As the thunder echoes off the canyon like walls of the Refinery, Sparkles lands and slides to a halt, preparing to rush again to provide Lancelot with an angle of attack. The Kngiht twirls Arondight as they come to stop and he searches for his next target, mind already racing to come up with a plan of attack.

COMBAT: Lancelot has used Lightning Impact on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe partially dodges 3 Fatigue damage from Fuu Hououji's Winds of Admonishment, taking 13 Fatigue damage!  Fuu
Hououji is Psyched!  Hotaru Tomoe's Fade and Flash abilities activate!  Cripple and Trap applied to Hotaru Tomoe!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe cleanly braces 17 Fatigue damage from Cassandra's Dominant Chord, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  Cassandra is
Psyched!  Hotaru Tomoe's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe perfectly dodges 20 Fatigue damage from Lancelot's Lightning Impact, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical
Dodge!  Hotaru Tomoe's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

'From the way you were acting, you were throwing some pretty big hints that you were attracted to Tokiha. You may not even realize it. And she probably wouldn't either.'

It's funny, how life can change so much in just one year. Even someone like Mikoto - guarded, awkward, terse Mikoto, who barely says three words to anyone she doesn't know - can make and keep the sort of friends who could help her understand things she was never taught about.

'Date?! You mean - you and me?'

She can even come to understand that the value she places on one person in particular means she likes them, even though she's never had to worry about that sort of thing before. That there is a difference in the way she hangs off of her friends and the way she clings to Mai Tokiha. Certainly she can love Kozue, and Madoka, and Yumi - but Mai is the most important girl in the world. It's fine, because girls are different.

'Personally, I think she looks much better with this kind of look, don't you?'

The love she feels is something which must be defended, no matter the situation they've found themselves in. The Woman in Black is watching her, and perhaps she knows the truth. But if Kozue is right, she might have already known... and Mikoto has never been very good at covering up the way she feels. It's okay. She will do what she has to do to keep Mai safe, even if that means getting involved in Tokyo's conflicts.

'Mai is Mai, so do what you want.'

If Mai does not want to fight - Mikoto will fight for her. If Mai is uncertain about whether she should - Mikoto will be certain instead. Mikoto will act to protect Mai's desires, and allow Mai to live the sort of life which makes her happy. She's not going to let Mai down, because Mai can count on Mikoto.

And Mikoto is doing this because she likes Mai.

That's why, when Mikoto gets a text - this is a new phone, Madoka needed to take her to buy another one because she lost the last one somewhere along Tama River, it's a nice sturdy pink flip design which has survived being dropped at least a dozen times since then - she doesn't stop to think she should sneak back to the dorm and get Mai. Mai wasn't sure, and Mai needs space to make her decision. Mikoto can give her that space. Whatever Mai decides to do, Mikoto will support her. Right now, she can support her by dealing with the current threat.

Mikoto, at least, is not surprised at all to get a text from a strange number, with a directive to fight.

After all, the Woman in Black is watching.

She does not think at all that perhaps someone else close to her is watching, too.

Besides. It explains why the history teacher is missing. Maybe she has some obnoxious ideas, but she's a good person, and Mikoto is actually good at her subject. It's nice to actually have a subject she isn't terrible at in school (aside from physical education, which hardly counts) - and though she wouldn't think to say it, she's actually looking forward to next year, when she'll be in Midori's homeroom.

Sneaking out from Ohtori's forests to Tokyo proper is an ordeal, but Mikoto has done it before. And once she's off the island, it's the easiest thing in the world to make her way to the industrial district; under cover of night she can move quickly with her blade. Unlike the Wind Knight, she does not make particular efforts to hide her movements - aside from staying out of sight of civilians, because Mai gets upset when she causes a scene. It is important they see that she is here.

She leaps from pipe to pipe, and her voice heralds her destruction, a bellowing wordless war-cry which announces her presence even as she leaps up from the morass of industry to meet one of those manta rays, blade swinging overhead in an effort entirely designed to cleave it in half.

Unlike Cassandra, she does not use an alias. She's not Miroku. But she cares about Kozue enough to use the words, though hers come out clipped and aggressive in the middle of a fight: "Wasn't me, Cassandra!"

She can't quite say it isn't her fault - because maybe this is just one more layer of cost.

But she certainly didn't give out her number.

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi transforms into HiME Mikoto!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Dauntlessness on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe partially dodges 10 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Dauntlessness, taking 40 Fatigue
damage!  Mikoto Minagi is Psyched!  Hotaru Tomoe's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.


"A vampire!" Batiste reports from the monitoring station. He has a small beanbag to sit on, with a convenient little Tuner logo on it. He turns away from the monitoring station, which is the charger rack for his phone, and calls towards the bathroom, "Cousin! There's a captive at the oil refinery in Keiyo sector!"

Nori Ankou leans out of the shower. Her hair is barely down to her shoulders, and is currently wet. "Oh no," she says.

"It's Sugiura!" Batiste says. Over head, Mme. Meduse floats down to look at the telephone (presumably), colors flashing with alarm. "You have to get in there... but, wait!"

Nori Ankou pauses, having already raised the brass case holding the Obsidian Prism. "??"

"This isn't from the Tuners... be careful. It may be a trap."

"Got it," she says.

"Sight above and light below - split in the mirror, the silver hour comes--"


Gray heeled boots click as long gray coat-tails nearing the width and breadth of a dress flutter in the breeze. She runs and light twinkles around her, strange halations of colors rarely seen. Anxiously, la Sirene adjusts the leather straps that wrap the Obsidian Prism in its case securely to her left upper arm. Not for the first time her fingers brush over the glass said to be diamond. The light is cool over her fingers.

In the distance there is a flare. "Oh no oh no oh goodness golly gracious me," la Sirene mutters beneath her breath. She vaults over the last building, across the road - and gasps at the sight of Midori bound and raised up like that.

But it is the creatures in their vicious flight on which she focuses. "Focus, luminaire --"

She crooks her left hand out in a finger-gun in midair, sighting along it towards one of the orphans. She feels the shiver up her spine, radiating down, making the Obsidian chime as the light forms lenticular shapes along the curve of her arm up to her finger tip - "Optic Burst!" A sparkling tanzanite-hued ray, straight at an Orphan!

This done, la Sirene focuses on landing. She does land on her feet, but heavily. "uff"

COMBAT: Nori Ankou transforms into La Sirene de Diamant!
COMBAT: La Sirene des Lentilles has used Carbonado Kaleidoscope on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe braces 14 Fatigue damage from La Sirene des Lentilles's Carbonado Kaleidoscope, taking 6 Fatigue damage!
Hotaru Tomoe's Block and Parry abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.


There was a curfew on Ohtori Academy's campus. Naturally, this meant that Mami Tomoe decided it didn't apply to her, and snuck on campus with her team to handle matters. It's only a real problem for the Student Council if someone is caught disobeying them, isn't it? Mami was sure it would be fine.

...And unfortunately, they only half-succeeded.


Naturally, Mami still feels suspicious about the anonymous tip on her phone--but it's not as if she can ignore the possibility of helping the missing teacher...

This leads us to the very moment itself, which sees this: A rain of bullets crashes towards the flying monster as it comes loose of the column, brilliant golden blurs that sound with the report of rapid gunfire. One, two, another, another, it must surely be a group--

But as Mami Tomoe lands atop scaffolding, it becomes clear that it is not. It's just a single Puella Magi joining the others, her chin lifted so that she can look down her nose imperiously towards the monster.

The others are wondering who gave out their numbers; Mami is just already conjuring more weapons; from her sleeves she pulls another, jabs it into the scaffolding; another, another, another, as she whirls in place, drops them in a curtsy, pulls from her chest.

Why spare words for this kind of monster?

COMBAT: Mami Tomoe transforms into Puella Mami!
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has used Tiro Flourish on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe fails to dodge Mami Tomoe's Tiro Flourish, taking 34 Fatigue damage!  
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.


Things... aren't going well.

The slew of disappearances targeting schoolchildren has only exacerbated the issue of Garnet and Pearl considering to withdraw little Steven Universe from school. Travel is an issue, and the number of magical hazards has exponentially grown. There are too many 'if's for even a woman with Future Vision to tussle with. They feel it would just be safer to homeschool him.

These past few nights Steven has had to argue for everything good with the curriculum as best he can, yet he feels it could be a losing battle.

This night, he has his head buried under a pillow, unable to sleep from stress. Staring into nothing but bedlinen. A quiet light shines in through the shining glass door from the night sky. Cresting waves can just bately be heard.

A pearlescent light shines, and a phone vibrates. "Nnh..." grumbles the child, a hand jutting out from the pile of ruffled covers to fumble and reach for a phone. The hand finds purchase, and draws the device to under the covers. A few seconds later, a shape bolts upright under a downy comforter

"Uh oh."


Flip flops clatter against pavement as a winded child runs into the industrial complex. They look like they haven't gotten quite as much sleep as a normal rest pattern would warrant. Hair being a little wild and bags under eyes are the main signs to those perceptive.

A detonating refinery stack helps the boy find his marks, all the while wondering who sent the text message as he ran.

Around the corner he comes, seeing these horrific creatures sooming toward who he assumes is the person mentioned in the text. "Look out!" he calls, summoning a shield and winging it at one of the foes closing in!

And yet, more magical girls and boys are spotted moments after. Seeing them makes him recoil for a moment.

The prime reasons he is wanted home. He hopes Garnet isn't watching right now.

COMBAT: Steven Universe transforms into Serious Steven!
COMBAT: Steven Universe has used Throw Shield on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe braces 22 Fatigue damage from Steven Universe's Throw Shield, taking 18 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
Hotaru Tomoe's Block and Parry abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Omnislash (Hurry Up!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UroYl6a0p7Y

The intervention is swift, though imprecise, as girls pour into the refinery from all directions. Let's count the slavering mantabeasts diving at Midori:

  1. 1: Wholly enveloped in the Magic Knight of Wind's tornado, then taken out with a cymbol-like crash from Steven's shield. WHONNNNNNNNNG!
  1. 2: Furls its wings and neatly dodges Takeo's Lightning Impact, straight into la Sirene's ray, which causes it to slow its flapping, and then drop like a stone.
  1. 3: Perforated and forced to turn back by Mami's brilliant bullets -- one of which incidentally, severs the rope suspending Midori in the air.
  1. 4: Wrapped by Cassandra's weighted chain -- and slammed into a brick wall.
  1. 5: Bisected by Miroku. Period.

Midori falls, and at the last moment reveals that she was playing possum; in midair she summons some kind of weird, long double-headed axe that students of history (such as herself) might call a labrys. (As one of the most open, out, and 'we're all magical girls let's work together!' loudmouths around, her HiMEdom is not a surprise in itself, only her consciousness.) She lands hard, shoulder-first, on the platform below, and gets to her feet unsteadily.

She wastes absolutely no time laying out what's happening, her green eyes snapping almost as loudly as her voice, which is confident and commanding, if a little tired. "They're going to merge--"

The survivors all turn as best they can, then converge into each other right where Midori was a moment ago. Flesh roils and bubbles as it merges, and then the same massive beast of the Ohtori forest is back in living color. It is bat and bird and darkness and metal and a REALLY BAD TIME ALL AROUND.

And yes, it has a glowing red rune on its forehead.

It flaps its wings and razor-sharp feathers blizzard the area. They have a bad habit of puncturing pipes and making them ooze more oil.

Did we mention there's fire all over the place?

"--yeah. Listen up, kids, in case I don't make it out of this alive: the night of the curfew, I followed a lead on old Fuuka Island architecture and wound up underneath the Chapel. Stumbled right onto some kinda hidden room! Father Greer," the head of Ohtori's Catholic School and main priest of the chapel, "And Alyssa Searrs," a sweet little girl who wins choir competitions at the international level, also the daughter of the CEO who built Searrs Symphony Hall, "Were down there, with all kinds of equipment, talking about HiME, but I only heard them for a minute before someone took me down from behind. They've kept me pretty drugged since then."

It might have been a mistake to pause for all this exposition, but then, despite her jaunty demeanor, she's leaning pretty hard on her polearm, now that she's on the ground. She might not be much use in this fight.

The 'vampire' Orphan hisses, and acidic steam boils straight off of its fangs and into the air in a gigantic cloud, merging with the toxic smoke from the oil refinery to create a truly awful atmosphere. Then it begins to bank, in order to come around for another pass.

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Razorstorm on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Razorstorm on Mami Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Razorstorm on La Sirene des Lentilles.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Razorstorm on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Razorstorm on Lancelot.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Razorstorm on Cassandra.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Razorstorm on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Cassandra braces 21 Fatigue damage from Hotaru Tomoe's Razorstorm, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Cassandra's
Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe perfectly dodges 40 Fatigue damage from Hotaru Tomoe's Razorstorm, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
Critical Dodge!  Mami Tomoe's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi fails to dodge Hotaru Tomoe's Razorstorm, taking 39 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!   COMBAT: Steven Universe fails to brace Hotaru Tomoe's Razorstorm, taking 20 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: La Sirene des Lentilles cleanly braces 28 Fatigue damage from Hotaru Tomoe's Razorstorm, taking 5 Fatigue damage!
Critical Hit!  La Sirene des Lentilles's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Lancelot dodges 11 Fatigue damage from Hotaru Tomoe's Razorstorm, taking 17 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  
<Pose Tracker> White Queen [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> BREATH OF WINGS - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcJjiRyAetg

Clap clap.

Short, sharp sound cuts through the space between the orhpan's defeat and rebirth. It comes from above, from atop one of the long pipes that stretch up toward the night sky. On of the massive spotlights below shines up to illuminate the tip of metal just so, just at the exact angle necessary to frame a girl standing atop it against the black smoke behind her. In the light one can easily pick out the bright orange of an Ohtori jacket, the dark skirt and black leggings underneath, and the horned, golden mask that conceals the upper half of her face.

"The Searrs Foundation has been guiding the planet's history for thousands of years. A few phone numbers are a small trifle to us." Her voice his high and sharp, dark eyes peering down from on high at the gathered magical girls. "And you followed instructions so well! Sugiura-sensei finding us was a mistake--but you being here isn't." There's a frown as the captured HiME falls and rights herself once again, to indicate some displeasure at that.

The masked girl's hand twirls in the air, making a rough circle as something forms in the air around her fingers. A whip of pristine white, it's long coils settling naturally in her grasp. "Searrs requires the power of the HiME to bring about our Golden Age." Her eyes are shifting, following the wide curve of the reformed orphan as it banks to attack again.

"So you can surrender now," The girl--the White Queen--says, "and go unharmed." Her fingers tighten around the element in her hand, adding with a bright smile:

"Or die."

COMBAT: White Queen transforms into PRInCESS Ye-jin!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji braces 21 Fatigue damage from Hotaru Tomoe's Razorstorm, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Fuu
Hououji's Block and Parry abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Crimson Rook [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"I'd really do what she says if I were you guys! She plays for keeps." Comes a boisterous voice from up above on one of the many unpierced pipes. A black-and-red shadow descends in a flash, only to thud-thud with a heavy sound upon the ground.

The Crimson Rook stands tall, the overly long katana she wields hefted over one shoulder as though it weighed nothing at all. Light from the oil refinery only serves to further shade her uniform: a severe military cut, dark crimson, interspersed with lines of black and golden buttons. Across her shoulders flies a longcoat that seems to flutter along her tied up hair. The young woman's face is obscured by a brilliant golden mask, it's top spiked upwards like the horn of an oni.

Dark black gloves and equally dark boots clench along sword's hilt and grind into the refinery's concrete floor in anticipation. The young woman rolls her neck, and swings her blade in a massive arc around herself. It's as casual as a flick of the wrist, but the scaffolding and connected pipes nearest to her spew smoke and flame to further silhouette her athletic, severe form.

"Do the right thing! Otherwise, the might of Searrs will fall upon your heads! The Crimson Rook will dance the waltz of battle against anyone so foolish as to deny our will!" A boisterous laugh follows, as she points her sword at the many magical girls who've gathered today to save the HiME sensei!

COMBAT: Crimson Rook transforms into Crimson Rose Duelist!
<Pose Tracker> Cassandra [None] has posed.

"Great." Is Cassandra's response to Mikoto. It doesn't sound great. Midori warns them on what's coming next, and the HiME warily leaps down from the catwalk she'd positioned herself onto, running to try to take cover. The merged Orphan sends down a flurry of razor sharp feathers, and she skids to a stop, swiping her Element in a great arc that slams several of the feathers off course.

One sinks slides past her thigh though. Hissing in a breath, she knows she's going to feel that one next swim practice.

However, noticing Mikoto's slip and what lays below her, she launches herself into another leap onto higher ground, landing on the railing of another catwalk, and casting out her chain. This one wraps around Mikoto gently in mid-air, as Kozue draws her weight back to keep it balanced. "I heard cats always land on their feet." She teases, "Let's not test that in an inferno though."

Straining to keep her from dropping down, she's in an intensely vulnerable position right now

"Thanks for the intel... Obaa-san." The girl says with a sort of intense disrespect for Midori and her way of life, despite the fact that she is in fact grateful, "Knew you were good for something."

At least now she had some names to go on why the heck she was being harassed.

However then a clap, clap, cuts her off, as she stares at the girl in white. "Uh-huh, figured it was something like this." There's a light sigh, "Seriously? I've heard about being the company girl, but you're taking it a bit too far - don't you think?" There's this small headshake, which causes her head of short blue hair to toss back. "Just level with me, do you really believe all of that - or are you just doing whatever it takes to climb to the top?"

There's an almost shark like grin at that. "Come on. I'll keep it just between us girls..."

And then yet another SEARRs agent appears. "Hmm. Hmm. Just look at those odds now. Ganging up on all of us like that." There's this sigh, "If Mikoto and me played fair - I'd be pretty worried right now." The girl pauses for just a moment...

BGM Change: Mezame - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rudziat8H_k


The girl's image doubles, and then a shadowy shape erupts in a streaming helix of gushing water. The Swan Child busts through the platform Kozue stands on, as she causes her Element to vanish in the same moment and falls onto her Child's back, grasping onto her neck.

In mid-air it extends a wing that gives Mikoto a platform to fall upon, then pivots abruptly to swing the other HiME about, a giant gout of water erupting beneath the other HiME to buoy her towards the White Queen, as the Child herself just lands heavily on the refinery ground - trusting in its sheer bulk to prevent it from receiving significant harm.

At the same time however, one of the pipes around Ye-Jin ruptures, spewing out water. Which takes shape into...

It's amorphous a ways back, but at the end of the stream it takes form into Avian Talons. That look wickedly sharp despite being water.

It swings around, trying to sever the rest of the pipe platform the Queen stands on - at the same moment that Mikoto herself would make contact. "I've never been one for doing what someone else tells me is 'the right thing."

COMBAT: Cassandra transforms into Kozue and Cassandra!
COMBAT: Cassandra has started a combo targeting White Queen!
<Pose Tracker> La Sirene des Lentilles [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Midori descends and la Sirene looks up, then towards the coalescing monster. The vampire, at last? "Ah!" she says, pivoting round in a twirl and raising her left arm again. "Flash B--"

FEATHERS!! Horrid, razor-sharp plumes! Too many of them!

La Sirene is forced to defend herself, twisting round and raising up her left arm to guard her face - the usual defensive posture she has taken, when it comes up. Her eyes, squinting narrowly, brighten when she sees Glamourous Mami Tomoe (as she has dubbed her internally, secretly) up in the rafters, surroudning herself with her weapons.

Then Midori begins to explain at more length.

I hope Batiste is getting this, la Sirene thinks. Her eyes widen a little more as she realizes:


"I hope cousin is alright," Batiste says.

Meduse glows a soothing chorus of blue.

"You're probably right... Got any threes?"

Meduse glows red.

Batiste goes fish.


She has to remember it all herself!

To herself she thinks - Old Fuuka architecture - under the chapel - mendacious cleric - "Alyssa Searrs?!" La Sirene squeals in dismay.

And someone claps.

La Sirene looks up towards Queen and Rook alike and she feels her back muscles tighten. But they speak at some length - time enough for strain to fade - and her lips purse even as she crosses her arms with enough force to make the black prism in its case sparkle luminously.

"But eventually I'll die anyway," she tells the Queen.

And to the Rook, she nods. "Yes... I will do the right thing."

She takes a deep breath - and suddenly lets out a sharp, hacking cough that almost doubles her over as she gets a nice good lungful of that classic Japanese industrial pollution! Her eyes watering a little, she says afterwards, "Hahh - yes! The right -" Her eyes turn up - "thing - is..."

"To bring things in tune!"

La Sirene's left hand snaps upwards, fingers splayed out in the sign of alien benediction. Her right rests on her hip for a moment before coming upwards, saying the words as she draws it back, almost lovingly. She tracks... she tracks... she leads on the vampire-Orphan's trajectory...

"Les Mysteres--"

The firing-stroke! The burst of light is silver-threaded but inside of it is flash powder, bursting with white light as it surges upwards, adding yet another cavalcade of sharp chiascurio to the increasingly-unfriendly industrial environment. "COME!"

"The right thing... is to stop the monsters, would you not agree?!"

COMBAT: La Sirene des Lentilles has used Les Mysteres on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

The shield hits true in conjunction with a potent gale unfurled by one of the other fighting magical girls. "Nice!" he calls out, starting to get a little less worried about his sudden predicament. Maybe everything will be fine. One of the defenders free the young lady, who lands painfully but makes it to their feet easily enough.

Midori lays out how she ended up in this compromising situation being dangled from bindings. Yet she learned something interesting. "I heard she was a good singer," Steven comments, though is unsure why they would be involved in these events. Not much time is left to ponder however, as the vicious creatures merge into one and unleash a storm of feathers, each sharp as a cutting edge.

The boy doesn't have time to summon another shield before the impact, larcerations mark his arm, and one particularly solid hit lodges in his forearm, which has to be painfully plucked out. "What a jerk!" he says, gritting his teeth. And yet, it is not felled. It makes for another attack run.

Though others seem intent on using the hazardous moment to make themselves known. Steven just watches them, bleary-eyed, and rather irritated that they would pick this specific moment to do this. And after they finish--

"Okay, one, what is your beef? Two, what the heck is a HiME? Three, can we please beat the evil-looking flying thing before we do this?!" he shouts, stomping a foot. Steven doesn't seem to be in much of a good mood anymore. Doesn't seem like those two are either.

For the moment the boy turns his attention toward the evil-looking thing (that's not a girl) and pitch another shield toward it as it closes in for another attack. It seems like others are going to get in a fight with those two. Can't they just talk it out?

Maybe these are the kidns of dangers the Crystal Gems don't want Steven around. They have on articles of Ohtori clothing. They were in school, and they sought to hurt others. Most troublesome.

COMBAT: Steven Universe has used Throw Shield on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The smaller monsters merge into one large monster like some sort of twisted biological twisted version of voltron and Lancelot blinks. He did ... Not ... Expect that. As Midori speaks he looks to his homeroom teacher and blinks again. The most out HiME she may very well be, but Lanelot is the least observant boy in the history of Ohtori. He recovers quickly though as she speaks and nods in her direction. "Father Greer. Chappel. Origin of evil." One quick nods. "Got it Sensei!"

Seeing the big thing with the rune he frowns, and Sparkles tries to get the pair out of the way as razorblades slame around the pair. Thankfully the horse is spared, but Lancelot takes a hit witha loud KA-PLANG on his shoulder that throws him form the horse. He hits the ground rolls until he slams into one of the many pipes thatdot the place. Pushing himself up he calls to his friend, "Get to cover!" Then he's off and running while Sparkles dissapears into the maze like corridors of the Refinery.

He leaps, and runs UP a wall, spinning Arondight in a flashy twirl of the Demonbane's blade. As he reaches the top of an Oil Drum, he hears White Queen and Crimson Rook. His eyes dart ot the large Vampire, and the two Searrs operatives and he narrows his eyes. He's closest to Crimson so when she finishes he leaps at her, Demon's Bane flashes in the firelight of the already burning Oil refinery as lightning flashes along the blade. "HEY! You wanna dance? Let's Tango!"

As he closes he moves form Crimson's left to the right quickly and slashes multiple times, Arondight moving in a white, lightning infused blur as he cries out! "BLAZING ZEPHYR!" Thunder crashes and lightning streaks with swing of the bright white blade, sending streaks of lighting to dance and crackle into the sky and around Crimson and Lancelot as they clash swords.

COMBAT: Lancelot has used Blazing Zephyr on Crimson Rook.
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

As much as the Wind Knight wants to prevent the monsters from (re?)merging, she doesn't get the chance; the best they could probably have done would have been to kill all six before they could combine into one. And then things get even worse ... as if a storm of monstrous wing-flechettes wasn't bad enough in the middle of a highly hazardous oil refinery. The Wind Knight is actually glad her fiery ally isn't here, but she doesn't have much time to be grateful for even small favors ...

Because there are two enemies who are *not* monsters. At least not the usual sort.

The Magic Knight of Wind does try to take in Sugiura's discourse about the conspiracy, but she's not very close, and there's a LOT making it hard to listen in detail. Plus, two *human* enemies showing up is a really bad addition to the already-unstable equation of this particular fray - especially when one of them so much as says that the message leading the magical girls here was from their enemies.

But as much as the Wind Knight believes those human foes need to be neutralized? The actual, physical monster remains a bigger and more vicious threat. The two masked women will have to be attended to later. And it's clear that she's not the only one thinking like this.

The Wind Knight bounds to a new perch, after weathering the storm of razor-sharp feathers, and manifests her bow and quiver; an arrow is nocked to the string, and she focuses along her shaft as she draws back and takes aim. The only magic to accompany the arrow when it flies is the Magic Knight's pure will, sharp enough to defy mundane physics as the shaft flies towards the Orphan's rune ...

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Trick Arrow Shot on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

It's at least a relief to spot Midori conscious; Mami watches her fall, watches her wielding her axe, and--of course they're going to merge.

"No--" Mami whips up one of her rifles and fires... but the merger isn't something she can stop so easily. The great beast from before is whole once again, and its strange rune gleams. The razor-sharp feathers cast outward, and Mami whirls in place, dropping down one layer on the scaffolding and pressing her back to a reinforced section, which itself is abrubtly covered in ribbon; feathers slam straight into it, riddling the thing with a new coat of spines--but they don't pass through, and Mami leaps back up when the storm has passed, expression serious.

She doesn't blink at Midori's worst case scenario--it just tells her exactly how serious this may be. Listening, Mami is still frowning as she puts together what it might have been. And here--

"We'll handle it, Sugiura-sensei," Mami says, raising her voice. "Thank you for the information." Mami doesn't share Midori's goals--but she's one of those in the community that has the veteran Puella Magi's respect. So, Mami looks down to her, seeing her leaning there, and makes a note to keep track of her... but things become complicated even further rather abrubtly by the arrival of a girl in uniform and a strange mask. Mami's golden eyes snap towards her, and she frowns at her. So, it was a trap.

"Is this a game to you?" Mami asks the Crimson Rook as she looks over the other girl's heavy attire, powerful sword, casual confidence, following up the White Queen's indication.

"How generous," Mami calls to the White Queen, "That you would give us such an offer. Naturally, I will be sure to consider it carefully before giving my answer." She lets that hang, and watches Cassandra appear, the attacks resume in earnest.

'...Really, do you think it's the first time that someone has tried to take what's mine?"

Mami lifts her left hand from her side abrubtly, palm out, and with it rises the entire set of a dozen rifles she's previously conjured. They shoot forward, forming a semicircle pointed straight for the White Queen--

And when Mami clenches her fist, they all fire at once, a riot of brilliant gold and thunderous gun reports.

...What Mami doesn't voice is her concern that this blaze could be much, much worse at any moment. There's no time for her to hesitate.

COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has used Tiro Circle on White Queen.
COMBAT: Crimson Rook perfectly braces 43 Fatigue damage from Lancelot's Blazing Zephyr, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
Critical Brace!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe dodges 21 Fatigue damage from La Sirene des Lentilles's Les Mysteres, taking 31 Fatigue damage!  Critical
Hit!  Hotaru Tomoe's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe braces 30 Fatigue damage from Steven Universe's Throw Shield, taking 13 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
Hotaru Tomoe's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe perfectly counters 22 Fatigue damage from Fuu Hououji's Trick Arrow Shot, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical
Hit!  Critical Counter!
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe's counterattack, Darkness In Flight, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Fuu Hououji!  
<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

How does one dodge a thousand lancing razors?

Certainly it is possible to spring away, and Mikoto does; but there are a thousand stinging needles, and they land before she can, hailing past her, tearing at her. The pipe she meant to set foot on pours out oil, and the flames catch on the flow as it drip-drips down. Perhaps it is a mercy that when she lands, she slips, falling off a moment before the entirety of the perch catches flame.

It is a small mercy, considering the fire below.

But she sees the chain lashing out and she lets it happen, because Cassandra would not hurt her; it is trust rewarded as it wraps about her, gentled in the way of an Element's control, and Mikoto puffs out a relieved breath as she grasps at the chain with the one hand she can spare. "Cassandra!" She calls out, looking to her, and this time her title is spoken in gratitude.

Mikoto notices that her sleeve is torn, and realises she'll need to ask Mai to repair some tears in her uniform later. That's fine. It happens sometimes, in their line of work. It's not like they have vestments, the way Lancelot or Madoka have.

They are HiME; they materialise equipment. (More or less; Miroku never seems to, the way she carries it around in that black case.) Midori does, too, as she lands heavily and makes her explanations. "Midori!" Mikoto calls to her, alarmed; there is little time for her to say anything else.

Because an imperious figure stalks in from above, and as she speaks she too calls forth a weapon from nothing. The other one who descends already has her blade out; a long Japanese style, and it is impossible to say whether she has summoned it to her. If she were not in a battle, Mikoto would wonder if that sword is like Miroku; but she is, and so she has precious little room to theorise at all.

No - she's too busy processing what they say, tearing out the parts which matter from the useless noise an enemy makes.

Perhaps the way Mikoto snarls after the White Queen praises their obedience is telling. She has realised too late how easily this could be a trap. Tell her to get involved, and then send these girls to kill her once she is drawn into a fight...

It wasn't a mistake, she says.

Certainly someone made sure Mikoto would not make the mistake of ignoring this call for help.

Certainly, someone wanted...

Cassandra sighs, casually, but Mikoto is not unbothered. Her face knits in hot fury as she demands: "You were gonna hurt Mai, weren't you?!" They wanted Mai here - they wanted Mai active - they wanted Mai vulnerable.

The chain fades, and Mikoto drops - but not far. She plants her feet on the true Cassandra's wing, lifting Miroku slightly to ensure she does not cut the Child underneath her.

Mai tries to play fair, even if she does not always succeed.

But as she's said, Cassandra and Mikoto know better.

"You really want me to fight?!" She demands, and perhaps it doesn't make sense - from what they've said. Or perhaps... it makes perfect sense.

Sometimes it's possible to ask for something - and not realise what you're asking for.

She would have stood aside.

She has stood aside, so many times. She was not present at the North Pole - she did not help defeat Precia. She has had her own task to see to, and has not bothered with the conflicts of Tokyo.

But if they want to hurt Mai...

Buoyed by water, Mikoto charges forward, a black speck of foam atop a terrible wave. She uses the true Cassandra's speed and fury in her own momentum, Miroku swinging up overhead - and when she comes to a landing, it's going to be blade-first, right on top of the White Queen.

"FINE!" Mikoto screams her anger, as she descends. "Now -- it's my problem!"

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has joined the combo started by Cassandra!
COMBAT: COMBO! Cassandra and Mikoto Minagi have used Combo: Two Girls Doing The Wrong Thing, composed of Die erwachende Thetis and
Obsidian Blade: Destruction, on White Queen.
COMBAT: White Queen fails to counter Mami Tomoe's Tiro Circle, taking 27 Fatigue damage!  Mami Tomoe is Psyched!  
COMBAT: White Queen's counterattack, Sonic Shock, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Mami Tomoe!  
COMBAT: White Queen partially dodges 20 Fatigue damage from Cassandra and Mikoto Minagi's Combo: Two Girls Doing The Wrong Thing,
taking 81 Fatigue damage!  White Queen's Fade ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (6)] has posed.

"Alyssa Searrs?!" cries La Sirene.

Alyssa Searrs.

It's impossible, isn't it? Ohtori's Golden Angel. The elementary schooler who leads their choir to win international competitions with her sublime soprano; in the hallways, quiet and shy. Sure, she's the daughter of the Searrs CEO, but like -- that's like the COMPANY, right, not some conspiracy?? They have department stores. They sell clothes and appliances.

Alyssa Searrs.



There's a monster here, a monster with a glowing red rune, and the right thing to do is to stop it. To fight it before even thinking about fighting each other. La Sirene and Steven Universe know this and they act accordingly.

But ah -- it is elusive. This is why it was so successful in its hunts on Southern Cross Island. It blends into the darkness so well.

And there is much darkness to be had. Steam and flametongue make for strange shadows and so does Les Mysteres. With an unholy screech it swerves out of the way, and when the Rose Shield comes in this time, it is against a much larger monster than the individuals that merged together. It leaves a scratch on one wing, but bounces off mostly harmlessly.

It has too many eyes. Seven is not a sensible number under the regime of Earth's evolution. All of them are dull, bestial. There is no gleam of intellect and hardly even a gleam of instinct.

And yet.

As it disappears into the shadows yet again, leaving Fuu's arrow to stick out of another pipeline where it was but a moment before, it acts with cunning; striking back too quickly to be seen -- then showing itself in a wide-open area (surrounded by metal barrels) that's facing directly away from the rest of the fight.

Should any of the HiME's allies that it's fighting dare turn to try to support them in their own battles, it strikes with absolute surety, with a chilling confidence. And those who ignore it completely risk a dagger-feather in the back.

It's using tactics.

It isn't a mindless monster at all. Or if it is...

...it's a chess piece.

COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Speed From The Shadows on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Speed From The Shadows on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Speed From The Shadows on La Sirene des Lentilles.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Backslash on Mami Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe has used Backslash on Lancelot.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji fails to dodge Hotaru Tomoe's Speed From The Shadows, taking 26 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe fails to brace Hotaru Tomoe's Backslash, taking 12 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  
COMBAT: Steven Universe braces 9 Fatigue damage from Hotaru Tomoe's Speed From The Shadows, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Steven
Universe's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: La Sirene des Lentilles fails to dodge Hotaru Tomoe's Speed From The Shadows, taking 21 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Lancelot fails to brace Hotaru Tomoe's Backslash, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  
<Pose Tracker> White Queen [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"How could someone like you," Asks the White Queen with her toothy smile, "Even know what the top would look like?" There's conviction in the words. Blind authority and arrogant purpose. Searrs world is her world, and she will enact their will accordingly.

It is this arrogance, perhaps, that gives her cause to challenge Mami Tomoe's rain of bullets. As the ring of golden muskets fire from below the White Queen's Element snaps outward. The whip cracks like thunder, a deafening noise that visibly distorts the air around her. Not enough to have the intended effect of scattering the bullets-but enough to alter an otherwise fatal trajectory. The missiles that graze draw a hiss of pain, and a stagger backward.

But even when she finds support, it's not there for long. The White Queen's eyes go wide as Kozue calls forth her Child, the watery mass drawing her eyes immediately. She has no time to take satisfaction in the discovery of her target when her attention is drawn to another mass of water bursts out of a nearby pipe, cleaving the structure she stands on out from under her.

Before she can find a safe place to land she's met with the surging wave and the sword-wielding girl that rides it. The girl in the mask twists, makes frantic attempt to turn out of the way of the massive blade and block the arms that swing it downward with her own Element. It's only through herculean effort, and luck perhaps, that the blade bites deep into a shoulder rather than straight through.

She does not part from Mikoto, however. Not immediately. Long tendrils of her whip bind and attach as they ride through the air, tumbling through the gaps between factory pipes. The White Queen's hand grasps her tightright until her feet slam into the smaller girl's chest, heels driving down and shoving hard to propel the White Queen off and away as they make a violent parting.

She does not land gently. A crash echoes through the surroundings as the masked girl falls in a heap, smashing onto a factory roof as the breath escapes her lungs. She lies still a moment, before one fist rises to slam into the ground beside her. She pushes upward unsteady, snarling, "You piece of trash..." Gone is the sweetness from her words, replaced by unguarded fury. "Do you think you own anything that doesn't already belong to me!?"

The whip is in her hand again, perfectly coiled once more. At least until it flashes out toward Mami Tomoe, spanning the distance between them in the blink of an eye. It's sharp, that whip, a line of white rapidly unwinding toward her golden assailant.

COMBAT: White Queen has used Brutal Dance on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: White Queen has used Focus Flense on Mami Tomoe.
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe braces 9 Fatigue damage from White Queen's Focus Flense, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Cripple applied to Mami
<Pose Tracker> Crimson Rook [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mami calls out to her, and Kasagami has the gall to absolutely smirk at the Puella Magi. "A game!? Well of course! All conflict is a game! A competition, a blazing contest of strength!"

Kozue refuses to play fair, and with the eruptive gush of water? The arrival of Cassandra has the Crimson Rook grinning through her half-mask. That's what they're looking for! Unfortunately before she can get a quip against the independent HiME. Play fair indeed!

Lancelot's lightning-emitting blade slices towards the young woman, and she turns to face the brave young man! When he comes in for her, the young woman meets him head on! Hands grip her own sword as she turns in grand, sweeping strikes! The Crimson Rook is a flash of red and black, her long blade meeting the metal of Arondight with every pass. Sparks fly in the air to mix with lancing lightning across her hair to make it sway and shine. She's always moving, clashing blades, and repositioning. The young man's strikes have her grunting in appreciation, pushing her back with the weight of his blade, yet always at the end she manages to shift and turn just enough that her long weapon's blade slides off of his own as she takes advantage of her sword's full length.

"There's some bravery! I love it! Aggressive, swift, that is how people should fight!" Comes the Crimson Rook with delight dancing in her eyes and voice. On his final slash, however, the Duelist ducks herself nearly to the ground as that sword goes flying overhead. Leaning onto her toes, she pauses. And then is simply gone.

The cut towards Lancelot is less a blurr and more the mere suggestion of having actually happened. A sharp wind, a keening, all motion and the light scent of smoke, sword oil, and a telltale flutter of a longcoat. The two handed leaping blow is devilishly precise for the unholy speed it gets up to along with the leverage and weight of the overly long nodachi. Where Kassie's feet were, concrete shatters as afterimages trace right up to her arcing leap.

"I'm a little jealous, however, of the White Queen and her beautiful admirers right now! Don't mind if I cut in a little!"

With an absolutely seering look and gargoyle's grin, she sends herself into a spinning flip in the air, coat blossoming behind her with every rotation. Faster and faster, she falls tracing a line for the HiME that's chosen to mount up on her Child like cavalry.

It just so happens that a nodachi is meant to face cavalry. Kassie lashes out with one of those trademark sweeping arcs of steel to try to scythe away at the legs of the grand swan Cassandra. The light from the refinery refracts of her blade, casting it in warm oranges and crimsons!

COMBAT: Crimson Rook has used Dance in the Petals on Lancelot.
COMBAT: Crimson Rook has used Dance in the Petals on Cassandra.
COMBAT: Cassandra partially dodges 8 Fatigue damage from Crimson Rook's Dance in the Petals, taking 33 Fatigue damage!  Critical
Hit!  Cassandra's Fade and Flash abilities activate!  Cripple applied to Cassandra!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi decisively counters 21 Fatigue damage from White Queen's Brutal Dance, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Critical
Hit!  White Queen is Psyched!  Mikoto Minagi's Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!  Exhausted and Stagger applied to Mikoto
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi's counterattack, Obsidian Blade: Dynamo, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to White Queen!  
COMBAT: Lancelot perfectly dodges 31 Fatigue damage from Crimson Rook's Dance in the Petals, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

He's not sure what gave it away. The strike was perfect, beautiful and very very deadly. The Nodachi poised to cut deep into his flesh through the knight's armor he wears. However, something. A change in the air, a hint of Crimson Rooks perfume. The lingering traces of sparks from their blades or the lightning dancing around the pair. Or perhaps it was just pure, unhindered instinct that caused Lancelot to leap to the side, avoiding ever so skillfully executed strike that would have likely brought him out of this fight. He performs a shoulder roll, and instead of leaping directly back at the Crimson Rook all that Lightning flows back into him.

Swirling blue and white lightning whip and crack and spark as it touches the metal railings or the floor grates he stands on. He thrusts out his free hand toward Crimson Rook and cries out; "LIGHTNING BLAST!" Sending all that recollected lighting out in a single blue and white bolt of lighting. Thunder roars and echoes off the metal sides of the Oil Refinery, and the lightning hisses and crackles as it burns the air.

COMBAT: Lancelot has used Lightning Blast on Crimson Rook.
<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Even without completely ignoring the Orphan, Mami finds it a sure threat--her logic is that there's a greater threat, one that can think... And yet--

Razor feathers slam into Mami Tomoe's back, two sticking in her corset and another two piercing through fabric and striking flesh, sinking in. ...To an ordinary girl, these wounds, even without being larger, would be debilitating.

Mami grits her teeth as she falls forward, catching herself on one knee--but she isn't down. She looks up again to spot the White Queen first, before the others. It's fair timing--it means that as she rises, she sees the Queen rise in turn, and snarl at her. Mami's jaw is set, her expression serioous. But she doesn't answer, first--

She doesn't answer first because instead she sets her arms together, lifting them in front of her face to brace an attack she doesn't have the balance yet to evade. The lash cracks across her, raising a line of red in an instant, right across her arms but away from her body, and the noise of the whip's crack drowns out the hiss of intaken breath. There's a reason whips have long been used for punishment.

Alyssa Searrs, Midori had said. It still doesn't make much sense, but is it true? It's certainly true that someone doesn't want them to investigate further.

Mami throws down her arms and sprints to the side, making herself a more difficult target in the moment by leaping entirely off the scaffolding, apparently to her doom some stories below...

Except that instead, she swings ahead on a golden ribbon, sailing into the air in free-fall, somersaulting forward before she puts out both arms.

"If it's a game...!"

A set of rifles materialize around Mami Tomoe, falling with her--and abrubtly, turning not on the White Queen, but on Mikoto and Cassandra--and towards herself. "Then you should be careful who you challenge!"

There's a thunderous retort, and Mami's bullets rocket forward, but instead of seeking soft flesh, they slam into bindings, into debris that has piled into the way, golden light erupting from each as they free three girls from restraints.

Mami's hands extend, and she catches a pipe, swinging from it and backflipping upward to clack her heels against the metal. "We've hardly started." Her eyes flicker towards the Orphan, for an instant. Mami is in motion along the pipes a moment later, keeping on the move.

COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has used Tiro Assist on Mami Tomoe.
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has used Tiro Assist on Cassandra.
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has used Tiro Assist on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi accepts Mami Tomoe's Tiro Assist, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Cleanse! All of Mikoto Minagi's debuffs are
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe accepts Mami Tomoe's Tiro Assist, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Cleanse! All of Mami Tomoe's debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: Cassandra accepts Mami Tomoe's Tiro Assist, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Cleanse! All of Cassandra's debuffs are cleared!  
<Pose Tracker> Cassandra [None] has posed.

The White Queen that gets her attention, and for a moment Kozue narrows her eyes. "A true believer..." Cassandra replies in disdain, "...how adorable of you."

However, it's not like she thinks true believers can't be dangerous. As the White Queen proves right away, her lip does curl at the choice of statement for Mikoto. "What you think Mikoto is beneath you, you spoiled little debutante?" It's perhaps an inference to the White Queen's background, but given her comments... she thinks it's a pretty good one.

As Cassandra lurches forward to try to back up her allies, she's having to bend over nearly sideways to avoid the Rook's spinning flip. The nodachi sending sparks up against Cassandra's wings, as it tries to evade getting its legs taken out from underneath it. It's successful enough - but a few feathers are sheared off in that crimson light. And the Rook's blade catches between several more, momentarily hampering Cassandra's movement, like it was a bird caught in a trap - about to be spitted

The swan squawks out murderously while the HiME resummons her Element.

Which is when Mami Tomoe fires a shot right at the blade, causing it to be dislodged right out of Cassandra's wing. The Child immediately shoves off to the side to catch a few paces distance from her opponent. "What do you know... didn't expect a goodie two shoes like you to lend a girl like me a hand Tomoe..." The HiME throws up a few fingers, as if it were in a mock salute, before addressing her opponent.

"Sorry. I think you're under the impression that this is a dance."

As the Child swings around towards Kasagami in a feint, it's wing scattering water that's been streamed out over the refinery in an upward wave, causing a sheen of pretty droplets to fly.

"I don't dance. The kind of games I like to play..."

The droplets all seem to suspend in mid-air, before flying together into large spheres that ripple as they elongate into what look vaguely feather like, like razors. A few dozen of them.

"...might be rougher than you're used to. But go ahead, cut in if you like..."

Suddenly, as quick as a crashing wave, the barrage of feathers swoop in. Some come in directly at Kasagami's guard, but others are curving around to her sides. Her flanks ... her back ...

"... you won't be the first girl to learn I'm more than they can handle."

They pierce a little more deeply than simply someone starting a water fight in the pool.

COMBAT: Cassandra has used Rusalnaya Nedelja on Crimson Rook.
<Pose Tracker> La Sirene des Lentilles [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

It is sure and certain to la Sirene des Lentilles that she will no longer see the softer side of Searrs. Not if they're behind all of this. The burst of invoked mystery, the shadow and the dream, does not blast agains tthe creature. It has seven eyes. That makes sense, to la Sirene, but -

Well it is no Cardiax-worm, that's for sure, she reasons: They don't dissolve into constituent parts... and the fire would be raining from the sky or something. So she reasons, even as the Orphan leaves her sight and she turns half round, turning her attention then up towards the aerial queen and her whip. "Ah - she has the range on them," la Sirene echoes, as if she had someone with her to hear.

"It isn't that I would weep if she gave Cassandra a little discipline," la Sirene continues to narrate as her left arm comes up, fingers crooking for a moment - "But these creatures are the topmost priority! You! Stop it!" she says.

The Obsidian Prism turns sixty degrees in its adamantine case. The sparkles rise. A starkly inconcievable ray of what seems to be vantablack but is in fact an alien abyssal color flashes out towards the face of the White Queen. Blinding, in theory.

But there is quite the good chance for the White Queen to never even notice - for as she looses this bolt, a feather lands into her back, digging into the shoulder blade hard enough to throw the Siren of Lenses forwards, landing on the ground and letting out a shriek of pain. "Aa-aah! Nghkh -" She bites on her lip, hard, reflexively protecting her dignity as her head turns to try and look towards her assailant.

COMBAT: La Sirene des Lentilles has used Abyssal Vision on White Queen.
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

It's not like relatively intelligent monsters are a completely unfamiliar scenario for the Wind Knight. Setting aside RPGs, there are plenty of evil minions who will either direct their monsters in combat, or even those monsters who are smarter than just (to use game terminology) spamming whatever attacks they have. Using the environment to this much advantage, though? That's less comfortable ground.

The SEARRS operatives - or whatever those two girls are; SEARRS is just the most likely organization behind them - are still a threat; the Wind Knight just has the advantage of not being caught up directly in combat with them. That could change at any moment, though, and the Magic Knight of Wind is content to keep her fight as far above the ground as she can. Still, her archery doesn't seem like it's doing much against the Orphan. Trying to get into melee against a flying target is a big risk, but playing it safe hasn't done very much good ...

The Wind Knight glances around, taking stock of the terrain - and then leaps, bow and quiver vanishing, sword materializing. In mid-air, she twists as though cadging a page from Mikoto's battle handbook, and starts spinning with her blade extended.

.... and it occurs to her only *after* committing that if the Orphan simply fails to be underneath her when she tries to cut it? This is going, at best, to be TERRIBLY embarassing when she hits the ground.

And the 'best case' scenario is also, she imagines, by far the least likely outcome.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Spinning Slash on Hotaru Tomoe.
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe dodges 7 Fatigue damage from Fuu Hououji's Spinning Slash, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Hotaru Tomoe's Fade and
Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Crimson Rook dodges 24 Fatigue damage from Cassandra's Rusalnaya Nedelja, taking 16 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
Cassandra is Psyched!  Crimson Rook's Fade and Flash abilities activate!  Cripple applied to Crimson Rook!
COMBAT: Crimson Rook perfectly dodges 18 Fatigue damage from Lancelot's Lightning Blast, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!
Crimson Rook's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: White Queen braces 19 Fatigue damage from La Sirene des Lentilles's Abyssal Vision, taking 8 Fatigue damage!  Blind and
Tangle applied to White Queen!
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

They can't even take five seconds to stop this creature. They are already upon themselves, eager to claim their prizes, apparently. Despite a devilish creature flying around attempting to impale them many times over. And the Gem Child doesn't have the brain capacity currently to really think beyond it just being a creature out for them.

"Are you both just going to keep attacking us? Really?!" Steven shouts. "Yknow I heard such good things about Ohtori, but you both are really representing your student mass poorly here today! Who even does stuff like this?!"

He is done with tonight.

When the creature attacks, Steven moves to brace the impact, and skids back a ways at the sudden hit. THe shield vibrates at the impact, and a few moments later when an attacking moment comes, the boy holds the implement out, and a peal of sound echoes out, a single dulcet tone, well known for disrupting creatures and machinations of magical nature.

"Be careful!" he calls out toward the Wind Knight and La Sirene, the only two people here that seem to have a lick of sense about them currently.

The bags under his eyes seem a little more pronounced with each exchange he hears from everyone else. "It attacks from the shadows!"

COMBAT: Steven Universe has used Reverb Shield on Hotaru Tomoe.
<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Is it impossible? Mikoto does not think so; it is entirely possible for children to be warriors, active players on the field. There have been so many examples. Even now, the boy Steven, though he knows little, is here fighting.

Children can be enemies, too.

Let's not dwell too long on what Mikoto thinks in that moment.

Distantly she is aware that the Orphan is moving with purpose and on a deep level Mikoto knows this is wrong; Orphans are not clever beasts. (Are not beasts at all, though some have fur to grip or scales which abjure a blade.) But she does not have time to do more than glance to it because there is another enemy before her, an enemy with a golden mask.

Down they go. Mikoto is not like so many of the magical girls who fight in Tokyo; she will carve into her enemies, even human, and this close the White Queen can see that she does not blink. Those hateful eyes widen as the whip wraps about her, tension lifting her upper lift in a bestial snarl, and she presses her attack in to try and ward away the other girl's own - but the whip has tangled all of her, and it binds Miroku as well, and she cannot earn much purchase, though perhaps she keeps the White Queen distracted keeping her might at bay instead of letting her score her own wounds too deeply.

Miroku cannot carve the whip for all its might; the whip cannot crack Miroku under its pressure; they are at an impasse.

Until the White Queen manoeuvres, pressing heels into Mikoto's chest in the manner of a different stiletto entirely, and she realises she has been angled below the other girl. Alarm crosses her face, for an instant, before the White Queen uses her as a platform and leaps. She goes flying and Mikoto is slammed onto the roof, bouncing once, twice; she is still tangled, and has no recourse as she slides down the angled side in the same manner as raindrops.

("Cassandra!" She shouts, all a sudden, as her eyes catch a glimpse above - Cassandra is in danger; and perhaps Cassandra is not Mai but Mikoto wants to see her safe all the same, because she is her friend, her friend, and perhaps Mikoto does not care so much about the world but she cares for a few of its people.)

It would have been an effective gambit, keeping Mikoto tied up, letting her fall to whatever fate awaited her.

Except - there's a gun.

The golden light is an addition to the tendrils of the whip, shooting out a line below Mikoto on the roof and sparking out. Perhaps it seems like a strange choice of target, when Mikoto is actively bound, but Mami knows what she is doing, and Mikoto can see just as well. As the White Queen summons her Element back to her, and the light lays over the marks they have made, Mikoto is able to reach with one hand to grasp at the handhold Mami has created for her with her bullets. She halts her momentum along the smooth metal of the rooftop with her grip, and somehow she does not lose her grip on her claymore, either.

And once she is not scrabbling any more she rises in smooth motion, and perhaps, as Cassandra says, the White Queen is looking down on her. She said that they could not understand what the top looked like - and what does the top look like?


That's a complicated question.

What is eminently uncomplicated is the fact that Mikoto is on the roof with the White Queen, and she is striking out at the distant target of Mami Tomoe, as if so confident that Mikoto has been dealt with.

What is just as uncomplicated is the knowledge that this girl fights with conviction and will not falter.

She does not goad the White Queen, but simply charges, blade flashing up diagonal as she grunts with the effort of hefting its vast weight. Perhaps it is alarming - the way she charges back into the fight without so much as a word, the way she zeroes in with speed and purpose with only a growl.

She speaks once she's closed in again, though. One little thing, and perhaps the White Queen is not the only one looking down on her opponents.

"You always talk," she snarls, eyes flicking to that golden mask. "Too much."

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Dyspathy on White Queen.
COMBAT: White Queen counters 14 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Dyspathy, taking 14 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: White Queen's counterattack, Bind Counter, partially gets through, doing 15 Fatigue damage to Mikoto Minagi!  
COMBAT: Hotaru Tomoe braces 13 Fatigue damage from Steven Universe's Reverb Shield, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
Hotaru Tomoe's Block and Parry abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> White Queen [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Now that her feet are back under her the White Queen starts to move. When Mami breaks off so does the masked girl, sprinting after her target. She's quick, but there's something in her way. Something that is coming toward her again, with the obsidian blade that bit into her just a moment ago.

The White Queen recognizes Mikoto is dangerous. All of the are. She was unprepared, perhaps, just for how much so. But this is what she was made for. She will not be stopped.

She meets Mikoto halfway. There is a vague awareness of something coming toward her from the side, a searing light burning through the space between her and La Sirene. It's with that knowledge, that sense of imminent danger, that she rushes forward. Again the whip comes, spiraling and tangling as she and Mikoto crash together. It's everywhere, twisting, binding, turning.

They pivot, the two of them, until the burning light of des Lenilles separates them. Mikoto tossed one way, the White Queen leaping another. The masked girl narrows her eyes, vision swimming black, leaping her way from one inky walkway to the next.

"You're both nothing!" She calls in the direction of the vast blot of Cassandra and Child. Prompted by Steven, she continues, "And in my world--I can do whatever I want!" She alights atop another smokestack, her whip reforming in hand as she blinks some semblance of vision back into her eyes.

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

Kassie's arms flex beneath her uniform, the young woman putting all of her prodigious strength into carving through the heavy wings of the HiME's Child. Unfortunately that long scraping only results in sheared off feathers and a bullet from Mami's grand rifles dislodging her several feet of cold steel entirely.

"Guns!" She snorts in disdain, even as her good eye peers back at Mami cautiously. That Puella's aim and beautiful rifles are not to be underestimated no matter how much she might cleave to the sword.

Lancelot's miraculous act of remaining absurdly unbisected has certainly gotten a sparkle in Kasagami's eye though. This far past him, she's forced to focus right on Cassandra and her rider however. Kassie steps back smartly out of the way of those razor-sharp wings, only for that water to be kicked up...and crash towards her from all sides! Her sword is in both hands as she pauses, and then twists her body in such a fashion that would absolutely break a less athletic person. Yet her dedication to the martial arts, workouts, and the magic of a Duelist propels her Student Council obscene physicality to unbelievable levels. She's a whirling tornado of steel, her limbs and blade becoming a swaying smeared line of movement as she catches those piercing watery spikes.

Slash, slash, step, cut! Again and again, she manages to parry or simply cut down the worst of the attack on her person. She's a one woman waltz of the battlefield, boots hammering down with the speed of a tango, the energy and rotations of a break dance. Teeth grit, more and more feathers finally find purchase in her coat and sides and legs, slashing up neat lines into her uniform. One even ting's right off of her mask, leaving her to snarl and wipe away water from it with a single freed hand.

Until finally she slams down her blade with the kind of form and savagery only training, experience, and a love of the sword can impart in a person. Light refracts, and wherever there's a final feather aimed for her? There's the tip of a sword all in the same instance. Each a perfect impression of a sword strike at angles physically impossible for the Duelist to make.

Kassie ends the dance with a flourish. "Oh, come on! Now that's not romantic at all, Miss HiME! You must be the type to always go for dessert first. You should learn to appreciate the dance, the chase, the anticipation!"

A brow rises. "Of course, since you insist on being carried around by that disgusting beast, maybe you simply don't have the stamina to wait that long."

This is exactly when that gigantic blast of lightning that Lancelot sent at her catches up. Kasagami whirls around as her phantasmal strikes fade, and the string of utterly un-Student Council-like words that exit her mouth are drowned out by the sparking reaction of lightning attracted straight to her thanks to the young man's impeccable aim and the natural reaction of lightning and the water she's currently got a light coating of thanks to Cassandra's attacks.

There's an explosion and shock all at once, like a gas line going up alongside a cut power line sparking out in the middle of a rainstorm. There's a semi-smoking shape that goes flying out of that plume of reactive elements. The Crimson Rook's coat flutters where she once was, now thoroughly shocked through and cut with holes from the blast of the young man's power. She lets out a long breath of air, tinged with relief and pure excited joy!

"Ahhhh, now THIS is a dance I could get used to! Screaming muscles, swords and a monster to slay!" Her respect for Lancelot's efforts is open...and the pure contempt she peers at the Child with is similarly without any desire or ability to hide it. Gloved hands grip her sword, and bring it high, stance daring her opponents to march forward yet again!

<Pose Tracker> Miyu Greer [None] has posed.

Fuu spins and slashes and catches an edge of the monster in the darkness, which tugs at her sword even as it denies her a clean landing.

Steven takes the Orphan head on -- shield on -- and witnesses the result, satisfying vibrational waves running down its only-dubiously-solid form. It sheds a few more feathers, this time involuntarily, as it ducks behind a raw steel support column.

But amid the chaos of HiME versus HiME, of Orphans and Sirenes and Knights big and small, of nightfall and flame, there lies the hinge of a question.

Whatever happened to Midori?


She hasn't tasted her own sweat and blood like this since the first time she went on an archeological dig. She didn't mind, back then. She was paying attention to something else. Someone else.

She doesn't mind now.

"Hahhh." She forces air -- hot air, ashy air, heavy with chemicals -- into her lungs, then out. Again. Take a step. Again.

The kids are in trouble. She can't see them from down here, and they can't see her from behind these shipping containers, but it's true all the same.

She tries not to patronize them; she's ONLY seventeen, right??? One of the girls. But in her heart of hearts, beneath the jokes and the mayhem, they are students and she is their teacher. They are kids...

...and she's the adult.


Her labrys' haft makes a 'clack' sound as she revolves it until it's vertically bisecting her face.

She slams its butt into the ground, and no smoke, no oil, no injury, no exhaustion can stop her cracked dry voice from howling even louder than the winds she's just summoned, a roar that instantly fills the entire refinery:



BGM Start! Gakutenou Kenzan! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DayeJtD3zTE

He is race car red and Olympic gold.

He is steel gray and the white of a pure heart.

He is like a great beast; four legs, pointy ears, vast maw.

He is like a mecha; heavy armor plates and, especially, his spectacular prehensile mane, which erupts from his brow but flows back to also be, aesthetically, his tail.

He is like a blade; six out of six ends are sharp.

He is faster than the wind and he blurs across the battlefield, blurs towards the ones threatening his winged counterpart Cassandra.

He is Gakutenou, The King Who Surprises Heaven.

He leaves only contrail from his rocket thrusters in his wake.


He leaves only contrail from his rocket thrusters in his wake.


...motes of green radiance, which flicker and dance like will-o-the-wisps, circling hands and heads before they pop out of existence like bubbles. Brief, so brief.

When did it happen?

Like a log bisected too quickly and perfectly to even notice, his front half abruptly collapses away from his rear.

And then he dissolves completely.

Miyu Greer -- wearing no mask, very purely and plainly herself in her high school uniform and with her neutral expression -- and very clearly more than what she seemed, given that her ARM! is currently! a FREAKING SWORD! -- makes the air weep with ozone as she flicks the still-disintegrating chunks of Child abdomen off her blade with a single shake.

And then she leaps up to one of the railings of a vast smokestack, and rejoins her mistress.

Faster than the wind.

Faster than Gakutenou.

By the time she lands, her arm is an arm again.

BGM Switch! It's only the fairy tale https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztudxa-MGLI


A tiny doll in black fabric and lace, her rioting mane of blond hair secured by a silken ribbon.

A tiny hand, which tugs gently at the hem of Miyu's skirt, and the older girl kneels. Standing on tiptoe, she whispers something into Miyu's ear.

"Impressive," murmurs Alyssa Searrs. She smiles at her guardian with sublime sweetness entirely in keeping with her appearance, and entirely at odds with her congratulating a successful murder.

"The valkyries always are," Miyu replies, conversationally, audibly. Neutrally. Too little inflection. Yet, so much more than she ever gives a classmate or a teacher. Actual warmth lingers in her ruby red robot eyes. "But they can be defeated."

As Miyu regains her feet, her ward turns her vivid blue eyes upon the crowd. Her hands clench in her skirt and her lower lip is still wrinkled by the impressions of her recently-acquired new front teeth. Any sense of warmth is long lost in the gap between -- not her teeth -- but between looking at Miyu, and looking at everyone else.

"Next time," Alyssa promises quietly, her voice so perfectly pitched that it cuts through the sound of crashing equipment and roaring flame regardless, "I shall make you an offer you can't refuse."

And then she reaches up a hand to tug her hair free of its ribbon. Flowing upwards in open contempt of gravity, her locks blaze gold, then intensify even further to white, blinding beyond belief.

When the dancing motes of the coiffure-cum-flash-grenade fade, the four scions of SEARRS are completely gone.

And so is someone else.


Without the support of her Element, which also became light and vanished when Gakutenou did -- when HE did, hundreds of miles away, though ignorance is bliss tonight -- Midori would have collapsed to her knees. Dull-eyed, she would have waited for the end.

But before that could happen, someone caught her beneath the elbows.

Someone put chloroform over her mouth.

And someone hustled her away with no more noise than the swishiness of a three-piece suit.

Whatever happened to Midori?

She disappeared.

She, too, is gone.