2019-03-08 - TIMELINE 3: The Battle of Ohtori, Part One

From Battle Fantasia MUSH
Jump to: navigation, search
Title: TIMELINE 3: To The Tower

Magical girls of Tokyo make their assault upon Ohtori Academy to free their classmates from the Golden Age PMC and stop Alyssa Searrs from calling down another nuke.


Mikoto Minagi, Ye-jin Song, Kozue Kaoru, Sayaka Miki, Mami Tomoe, Fuu Hououji, Steven Universe, Nagisa Misumi, Haruka Tenoh


Ohtori Academy - Courtyards / Chairman's Tower

OOC - IC Date:

2019-08-02 - 2014-09-16

<Pose Tracker> Ye-jin Song [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Bright sunlight streams down over the polished white surfaces that make up Ohtori Academy, reflecting off the ivory spire of the Chairman's Tower and warming the vast gardens and courtyards far below. It would be a perfect fall day on Southern Cross island if that same sunlight didn't also illuminate the rows of occupying soldiers and the lines of gleaming heavy artillery that blot the open spaces across the prestigious Ohtori campus. Inside frightened students are still held captive in classrooms and gymnasiums, unaware of the true nature of the conflict at hand but ever fearful of terrorists, soldiers, or both. There has been no word from the Student Council since Kasagami Araki's address, nor any further communication from SEARRS since the address precluding the forest's destruction. Ohtori remains occupied. Perhaps not for much longer.

BGM Change: WAR SEASON - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKGmy7AGsgw

Deep underground, in the caverns that wind below the ancient forest above, the magical girls stranded on Southern Cross island have spent the last days slowly gathering, finding one another or stumbling upon their peers by chance. Whether they escaped early in the occupation or late, no matter their means of freedom, most paths have crossed down below the earth. Once gathered in mass, a plan of attack to take back Ohtori academy was formed:

The assault is to begin with a wide spread of magical girls heading to assault the main buildings used to hold students, with intent to both rescue their classmates and to make a large show of force. The more noise made possible the better in order to draw Golden Age forces away from the Chairman's Tower, the most heavily fortified building on campus. Bodies will also be needed to escort the freed students to possible points of escape, and commandeering of existing infrastructure may be a necessary part of that plan.

Meanwhile the second group is going for the tower itself, straight through the rows of tanks, artillery, barriers and armored troops that encircle Ohtori's central structure. The captured student councils of all three schools are still imprisoned in the white spire of the building, as well as Alyssa Searrs herself. Finding and stopping Alyssa before she can call down another destructive blast from the satellite hovering high above the earth is of utmost importance.

Now all the pieces are in place. The school is surrounded, magical warriors emerging from caves and treelines around the far perimeters of the Academy. Those with the highest vantage points can see the white columns of buildings and countless shapes of soldiers arrayed before them. The forces of the Golden Age are vast, armed with bullets and violent machinery, and they have yet to be truly challenged. Until now. For some in the second group it comes from the buzzing alarms of near-exhausted cellphones as the hour ticks to the appointed time. Others may get their sign from a trusted (and more coordinated) mascot. But absolutely no one can miss the cacophony of noise and bursts of sparkling explosions that, even in mid-day, light up the grounds of Ohtori like a Sumidagawa firework festival as the vanguard of magical girls breach the first of SEARRS defenses.

This is the signal. It's time to go.

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

It would be a lovely day--but then, maybe it can still be something like that. Ohtori is occupied...

But it's time. Setsuna Higashi, last night, worked with Madoka Kaname to gather as many magical girls as she could--and bring them together for the plan. While she no longer has the power to fight with them directly... There's an ordinary girl with purple hair emerging from cover behind the magical girls as they put down resistance, keeping low and running ahead to tell students where to go with all the authority of an Executive.

...A little less obvious is a certain green-and-black themed witch throwing curses from odd angles.

But the second group includes a blaze of golden light as Mami Tomoe leaps pward from street level and throws out a hand clad in a black half-glove, looking down as if smirking down at tanks, soldiers--

Right on schedule, the veteran Puella Magi makes her appearance, and the guns she conjures sparkle as they appear--and gleam in the sunlight by twos, pointing straight down--straight for the enemy artillery.

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

Mikoto and Yumi find the group late; they were coming back to the caves from the surface, after all. Mikoto, at least, is easily-given to a plan of offence, and joins the assault team without complaint. They hug before they part. There is history, there, in the tight one-armed grasp Mikoto shows, the way she leans into her so completely. It is utterly unexplained.

It is an expression of affection only surmounted by the force with which Mikoto barrels into Mai when she finds her, and this time Miroku clatters to the ground so that she can wrap her up with a grasp which trembles. Mai, she is less willing to leave, but she is eventually convinced of the logic behind splitting their skillsets.

Her dress is tattered and dirtied; the innocence of her white roses have long-since fled, leaving braids and the single shoulder strap of her dress bare. Her opposite arm is completely exposed, showing the HiME birthmark on her upper arm, below the shoulder. Her pale heels have been soundly abandoned, and she wears a stolen pair of soldier's boots, multiple pairs of socks beneath them to let them fit. What was once an ankle-length gown is now ripped to the knees in uneven jags, and something has taken a bite out of the sash at her waist - now tied into a hasty knot at her hip instead of an elegant bow at her back. Above it, front and back, are the most concerning signs of damage it bears; two holes either side of her midsection, the torn edges stained with dried blood.

But the skin exposed beneath is knit and whole. So too are her limbs free of cuts and scratches, her face unmarred. Mikoto is safe, renewed, her debt sworn. It is well she is so. She means to go now into danger's maw, between serrated teeth and swallowing tongue. They have someone she cares about.

They are not treating her kindly.

They have made her... they have made her...

... an enemy.

Oh, she does warn her allies, the ones she has found. "Be careful," Mikoto says to them, a light frown crossing her features as she looks away, "of Kozue Kaoru." A hand lifts from Miroku's hilt to press at the hole in her dress, lightly. And looking down does not hide the pain in her eyes and the crease of her brow, a different pain entirely from the agony she no longer endures. "... Kozue did this to me..." Mikoto and Kozue were seen together often enough, in Ohtori or on the streets of Tokyo at night, for the impact to be easily-guessed.

Mikoto has never reached out to the antagonistic elements of the community, though at least one has reached out to /her./ She spends no time redeeming sad girls, and perhaps this history makes it strange to hear her say: "... don't think it's Kozue's fault. But... Kozue's an enemy."

Though she offers that muted defence of someone she once considered such a close friend, she never tells anyone not to fight her. She won't tell them to go easy on her. Mikoto knows Kozue; she doubts the other girl will be pulling her blows. The both of them are wild things, both of them cornered.

She joined the second group late; she does not have long to wait with them. When it comes time to take position she sneaks through the scant forest which remains, and this time she does not step into the open for things which are not branches or bugs to graze past. Madoka helped Mikoto to pick out a new phone which would survive the rigours of Mikoto, but it has long been forgotten in her dormitory, if SEARRS have not taken it for the secrets engraved in the cat emoji she sends. Nagi has been seldom-seen, in all the chaos. But, to speak of chaos...

There is another girl, in another group, and she is restless and harried and critical and of a /perfect/ mind to cause a scene. Sailor Mars engages in flagrant conflagration to allow her friends and allies to get the students to safety. Is it possible she's taking out her frustrations after so much time lying low..? Don't accuse her of it. Her fuse is so short, right now, it's a theoretical question amongst physicists. The forward team carves in and it is Mikoto's turn to charge forward. She bellows a wordless howl as she erupts from the treeline, and as the gigantic barrel of a tank swings forward she plants her feet and wrests her blade about and suddenly, the vehicle is in two halves. One man scrambles from one half, another from the second, before the agitated fuel explodes.

She is not focused on them. She charges forward. And there are words to her war-cry: "Kozue!" One-two, rage and pain through an SUV. "Hand Kozue over to me!" Three-four --

She springs over assault rifles; her feet plant either side of the soldier's shoulders, forces him groundward as she springs off, blade slamming down on the armor of another vehicle.


<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

The Magic Knight of Wind is still slightly of two minds about this.

On the one hand, a general rushdown shock-and-awe frontal assault seems like it's just asking for trouble in some form; there are too many unknown variables, too many possible contingencies that can't even start to be ruled out, too many chances for ambushes, traps, or other surprises. Fog of war isn't just a gameplay mechanic, after all - it's all too easy to go charging in and then get caught by surprise in the teeth of something bigger and/or nastier than you thought the enemy could possibly have hidden away and ready to throw at you, just because you didn't take enough of a look, and sometimes even then.

On the other hand, Fuu has spent the past several days being afraid - of the initially-unknown force which destroyed the bridge; of the ostensible terrorists; of the 'soldiers' who were supposedly there to protect the seemingly-helpless students, and so forth ... and there's a piece of the Wind Knight which relishes, perhaps too deeply for good health, the chance to make the *soldiers* afraid for a change.

It's not all about fear, of course - Kuu is somewhere on campus, genuinely helpless, and the Wind Knight knows that her fiery ally has brothers who are likely stuck somewhere as well. She has to trust the Water and Fire Knights to punch through the Golden Age forces and make good on getting the civilians to safety.

For herself, though, the Magic Knight of Wind emerges from her hiding place (a hollow between a couple of bushes), accelerating to a run and calling out, "STORM-DANCE OF KAMAITACHI!!!" as her sword appears in her hands. The whirlwind isn't quite as destructive as it could be, at least to humans - but she's aiming to fling the soldiers hither and yon and unto none-too-gentle landings, and if she can rake at some of the artillery to more damaging effect, she's not above some well-placed property damage.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Storm-Dance of Kamaitachi on Ye-jin Song. COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has finished attacking.

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

Having escaped into the forest as other Magical Girls made their move to leave Ohtori campus, little Steven Universe had bailed out a window after protecting some innocent schoolgoers from a hail of bulletfire. THe event was entirely traumatizing, but it did answer the question if his magical abilities was up to the task of blocking military grade weapons fire.

THe answer was yes. An important thing to know.

In the chaos, the boy, wounded still from the Cybody fight amd the resulting shockwave from a heavenly blast, found his way into the forests. There even was danger, as creatures roamed the corners of what was left for cover. In time though, he found cave systems, and more importantly, friends-- to huddle together with.

The boy was thoroughly miserable, still with bandages on him, and wearing an Ohtori gym outfit that didn't quite fit him right. "Garent, Amethyst and Pearl haven't done anything yet, I hope..." Being down here loses bearing on what happens above. And his greatest fear still, is them arriving to try a daring rescue and getting hurt. There is too much for them, even with their powers combined...

A plan was struck, and when the groups split, and his powers more suited toward the rescue group compared to retaliation, Steven went with the spearheading party. What if someone needed help in a pinch? What if a student runs into the massive crossfire? The signal was given, and the magical girls launched into their crusade to free the school. Steven, not particularly quick compared to most here, is one of the last to arrive on the scene, but is no less ready to join the fray. Where others have incredibly strong or wide-sweeping attacks, he will do what he can to fend off soldiers that get separated.

A shield soars through the air to attempt collision with a solider. "Hey! How about you put that down and fight the people that destroyed the forest?! Heads up, it isn't us!" he calls out.

Once the attack is done, he summons another shield and holds a hand out, having it anchor to a spot in the air in front of him. He widens it to be large enough to cover him fully.

"I /don't/ recommend shooting at me."

COMBAT: Steven Universe transforms into Serious Steven!
COMBAT: Steven Universe has used Throw Shield on Ye-jin Song.
COMBAT: Steven Universe has finished attacking.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Uranus [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"Hostile approaching! Put her down!"

Sailor Uranus dips and zags, several lines of assault rifle bullets chasing her. The barbed wire-strung sandbags sputter with muzzle flash, converging more accurately as she approaches. But as she makes the final approach, Uranus dives into a slide-tackle, directly at the sandbags. On the other side, a sandbag erupts from the pile as though fired from a cannon, slamming into one man's shins and flipping him down into a violent facevault.

In the instant that the autofire pauses, its target lost, Uranus is hurtling over the crumpled sandbag wall, twisting as she goes so one foot goes into a man's face and the other chases his chest down to the ground. Juking and snatching a muzzle at the same time, Uranus directs a blaze of bullets into the nearby ground, then backfists the man from his rifle. Whipping the muzzle like a sling, she hurls it into another soldier's weapon, pushing it out of the way long enough to shove a palm strike over it, cramming the woman's chinguard and sending her to the ground. Uranus catches motion from the corner of her eye.

The butt of the last soldier's rifle smacks into Uranus's raised forearm. She had not even turned to block this strike from behind, but she turns now, grabbing the man by the throat with one arm and lifting him off his feet easily.

"Hhhow...!" the man croaks.

"I work out," Uranus says.

About ten meters to Uranus's left, the sandbags burst to let out a tank, its engines roaring as its treads chew dirt. "Hey!" Uranus shouts, trying to warn a girl who had the misfortune to be just on the other side of the sandbags. The Pretty Cure she was trying to warn can't hear over the gunfire and magical explosions, and Uranus winces as the tank drops down directly on top of her, just as she's turning around.

Uranus is turning away already, when she hears the tank engines growl, the treads gnawing the ground, unable to gain traction for some reason. Her eyes narrow as she tries to understand what she's seeing, even as the tank gives a great lurch, its heavy turret bobbing. The massive bolts that secure its thick armor creak and vibrate as the treads loosen their grip on the ground, beginning to whirr rapidly in midair. With a queasy complaint, the tank goes aloft.

Beneath it, Cure Black stands, knees bent into a plunge, arms at full extension, her cheeks red with effort. Grime spatters her face, her lower lip pushed up hard in girlish resolve, her bare abdomen locked up tight. "How?!" the soldier repeats. Uranus shakes her head.

"Beats me."

COMBAT: Ye-jin Song fails to dodge Fuu Hououji's Storm-Dance of Kamaitachi, taking 32 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song braces 21 Fatigue damage from Mami Tomoe's Tiro Circle, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Mami Tomoe is Psyched!  
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song fails to brace Steven Universe's Throw Shield, taking 48 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song fails to brace Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Dauntlessness, taking 50 Fatigue damage!  Mikoto Minagi is Psyched!  
<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"Leave it to me!"

As Mami's muskets let loose their first volley on the artillery, the anti-aircraft guns are swinging towards her. Their job is to defend against threats like this, and leave the artillery to do its devastating work. Sayaka Miki's job is to stop those guns from doing /their/ job. Leaping up the back of an emplacement, Sayaka summons a sword in either hand, swivels it, and stabs both directly down into the vulcanized cannons as they are beginning to spin up. Planting her hands on her hips proudly for a moment, she stands between the twin guns of this emplacement as they lock up on the swords. But then they give a lurch, spinning partway, and then snap the swords entirely, whirring as they rotate fast.

"Aiee! Ow ow ow!" Sayaka is dancing around in between the gatling barrels as shards of her swords shoot out at random like broken blender blades, zinging and peppering her. Another battery is about to open up, its sights on Mami.

"Rrr!" Sayaka mopes, frustrated by the failure of her great plan. Grasping a handle on the top of the emplacement, she swings down loosely from it on one arm, using her momentum to rotate the emplacement, then catching the ground with her feet and running to turn it. The vulcanized rounds shred the second emplacement, as the gunners scramble away.

"Sawry! Please excuse me!" Sayaka sings in English. There is only one emplacement left, this one rear-facing, and so still rotating to find Mami.

Lining up the iron-sights, the gunner squints, shifting the targeting until Mami is dead in the center. But when he triggers the gun, the vulcanized cannons lock up tight, not even shifting much.

Sayaka stands panting on this emplacement, between the two guns again. Like a dog that got into a porcupine, /these/ muzzles are feathered with so many swordblades that it's hard to count them.

Panting, Sayaka lets out a satisfied huff, staring at the two gunners with a big grin as if she expects them to praise her.

COMBAT: Sayaka Miki has used Perfect Pitch on Ye-jin Song.
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song braces 6 Fatigue damage from Sayaka Miki's Perfect Pitch, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Sayaka Miki is Psyched!  
<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

September winds bring autumn's chill, but the girl on the rooftop is strangely warm.

Sneaking back to the dormitories wasn't easy, and Mai Tokiha had more than a few near misses. Arguably, doing so was foolhardy, and if she was to be honest with herself it was unnecessary. There had been a purpose, though. Try as she might to spy Takumi among the prisoners, he was nowhere to be found - and so she sought a familiar vantage point.

Heartbreakingly familiar, really - all the memories of moonlit conversations and peaceful stargazing from the dorm roof might be tainted, now, by the sight of the soldiers below. Something good ruined...but that's just the way life goes. Admittedly, there was a second purpose; though she didn't have long to spare, Mai did manage to slip into her sadly ransacked dorm room to grab a uniform jacket and a bright red scarf. A little warmth, at least, to offset the scorched ruin that was her ballgown. Suitably clad for the fall air, she takes a moment to take in the sight of the invaded campus.

She should feel colder than this - or maybe more rage at the sight. Despite everything, though - despite the misery brought to a place that was feeling like home, despite the peril she's been put through, despite her continued failure to keep Takumi safe and sound - she just feels the warmth of Mikoto's last hug before they parted ways. A promise, murmured, to stay safe...

Violence is starting - the counter-attack has begun, and her role is to provide a diversion the Golden Age soldiers might not ignore. Memories of the haunting Zero Time at the back of her mind, Mai closes her eyes and does what comes naturally. She sings.

BGM CHANGE - Chiisana Hoshi ga Oriru Toki - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ONr68VAy04

Where is it? I'm searching for the truth in the deep night... Wandering around the universe alone... Hoping that I will come across you...

The soldiers patrolling near the dorm aren't deaf, aren't unobservant, and in spite of the chaos beginning aren't that distracted. A squad rushes in, scaling the stairs in a hurry with guns at the ready to find the source of the song. The rooftop access is kicked open brutally, harsh voices calling out to the escapee. "Hold it right there! Wait..."

It was the first time my tears felt so hot, And the ties holding me down might now be broken...

It's not quite what they might have expected. The girl on the rooftop is familiar, of course; the soldiers were briefed on key targets, and Mai Tokiha is one of them. She has rings around wrists and ankles, sparkling in the sunlight, and she's dancing - turning slow spins with her eyes closed.

She's also surrounded by fire. There's a merry blaze on the dorm roof, sparked by the HiME's Element, and it swirls around her in a growing spiral. The soldiers look among each other, hesitant in the face of power - but they're professionals, and they aim their weapons. "Mai Tokiha! This is your only warning!"

Because of the radiance of life embracing me, I am never alone...

I gaze at the proudling smiling moon, And now, with your strange power...

She stops, facing the soldiers, and speaks the next line with an almost resigned smile. "...Awaken me. ...Kagutsuchi!"

The guns open fire, but it's far too late - the inferno consumes them, envelops the rooftop, blossoms into a great signal flare as Mai's Child rises in an instant. Eight eyes survey the campus as a great serpentine tail sweeps across the rooftop to fling aside those who didn't dive for cover already. Before more can arrive, the dragon takes flight.

It screams by with a defiant cry, winging its way high and wide - but its goal doesn't seem to be the soldiers, or the tower, or even the tanks. The fleet in the sea, with its many artillery batteries, was always another of the threats levied against Ohtori - and so to those ships it flies.

Batteries exchange fire with battleship-scuttling meteors as Mai and Kagutsuchi's diversion begins.

<Pose Tracker> Ye-jin Song [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Sound and light fill the air of Ohtori's buildings and courtyards as the second wave of magical girls charge into the fray. In their periphery they can see the work of their allies, electric flashes of beams and bursts of magnificent light. Soldiers scramble wildly for cover as tanks rumble forward, and then abruptly backward, or roll onto their side, or just go up into the air for no good reason.

The fighters in the air smoke and weave as streaks of light chase them through the sky, and in the sea nearby every cannon on every ship opens fire in desperate bid to hold against the burning flame of Mai Tokiha's gigantic child. The path to the Chairman's Tower is still by no means clear-but at least now there's a chance.

A chance that's rapidly becoming reality. Armed and armored figures blockading the path are thrown from their feet by the force of the gale that Fuu summons as she charges forward. They scatter like bowling pins, whirled from their well-ordered lines and dumped in unordered heaps as the path ahead becomes suddenly clearer.

Mikoto too clears a path, even in the process of making one. The few tanks left guarding the chairman's tower are rendered to husks as she passes, split open by the dark blade.

From above the golden queen rains down fire on the artillery below, exploding shells bursting into puffs of black smoke in the air around her. Golden bullets split the thick metal hulls of tanks and heavy guns, sending Golden Age soldiers running in their wake. Sayaka's work removes several more from the equation, though she does not find anyone particularly happy with her bouquets of swords. Gunfire erupts, though on a much smaller scale than what might have been possible before she'd removed several of the heavy machinery from the equation. Gunfire pings across Steven's shield in retaliation as the boy makes his presence known, soldiers toppling and scattering.

And they all go forward. The noise and chaos of battle go with them, bullets, grades, and shells exploding into the air as the group forces their way forward. Past the last line of soldiers at the door to the great tower, and into sparkling lobby within. The massive rose seal, assembled in the floor tiles under their feet, is still pristine. The light of the chandelier above illuminates not more soldiers, but only doors to the twin elevators that run through the skeleton of the long tower.

There seem to be no stairs at all-no way up to the student council chambers and the students held captive there save the iron cages of the elevator cars. And time is of the essence. Who knows when Alyssa Searrs could call down another strike from her heavenly child, and the mass of soldiers are still in pursuit, attempting to funnel through the huge doors behind and prevent the infiltrators from making any further progress.

OOC: You may toss parting attacks at the soldiers (aka me), but please be on an elevator by end of pose. There are a whole two to pick from!

COMBAT: Ye-jin Song has used Real Guns on Sayaka Miki.
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song has used Real Guns on Mami Tomoe.
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song has used Grenade Diversity on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song has used Surprise Shotgun on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song has used Real Guns on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji perfectly braces 25 Fatigue damage from Ye-jin Song's Real Guns, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Brace!  Fuu Hououji's Block and Parry abilities activate!  
COMBAT: Steven Universe counters 3 Fatigue damage from Ye-jin Song's Surprise Shotgun, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Stagger applied to Steven Universe!  
COMBAT: Steven Universe's counterattack, Reverb Shield, partially gets through, doing 5 Fatigue damage to Ye-jin Song!  Stagger and Stun applied to Ye-jin Song!  
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki braces 16 Fatigue damage from Ye-jin Song's Real Guns, taking 13 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Sayaka Miki is Quipped!  Sayaka Miki's Block and Parry abilities activate!  
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi perfectly dodges 7 Fatigue damage from Ye-jin Song's Grenade Diversity, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Mikoto Minagi's Fade and Flash abilities activate!  
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe fails to brace Ye-jin Song's Real Guns, taking 21 Fatigue damage!  Mami Tomoe is Quipped!  
<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Being bright and brilliant also means being a target--and Mami does not entirely escape the hail of retaliation that comes for her. Shrapnel explodes from a detonating shell; assault rifles move up to try to find her--and an ordinary girl would be destroyed.

...As it stands, Mami lands, with powder burns and gunshot wounds, a little less gracefully than she would like, drawing in a breath quickly--it isn't the rhythm she wanted, forces her to gather herself back up again. However...

A Puella Magi is not so easy to destroy as that, and she rises after, seeking out Sayaka ahead with her beautiful sowrds. "Perfect work," the senpai declares to her eager kohai, smiling at her as she looks up again to the tower--to a line of soldiers. "Shall we head up?" she asks of Sayaka, far across the battlefield from Haruka and Yumi and others.

A beat, "...I've been curious about it for a time," she admits, "Since I don't have the open schedule for Student Council work..."

Well, she does know Juri Arisugawa.

Her words are light, but her movements are careful--she steps forward, and this time throws ribbons at soldiers to prevent them firing their weapons, in favor of unnecessary killing. She goes for the right elevator--

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

That, thinks the Wind Knight, went surprisingly smoothly -

And she promptly stops thinking that, when a few soldiers gather themselves and open fire on her as she's passing. More by reflex than plan, she brings her sword around and up, holding it with the blade angled downwards between herself and the guns (and the soldiers).

She would have expected to need a good bit wider of a blade, and possibly heavier, to actually fend off all of the bullets ... but apparently these particular mercenaries are the precision shooters of their squad, or something. The few bullets that *don't* ricochet off of her sword skim off the Wind Knight's armor instead.

There's a lull in the gunfire, not from clips being emptied but from a dawning realization among the soldiers that they aren't getting through her defense. Before they can try adjusting their aim, the Magic Knight of Wind flicks her hand - not a proper attack spell, but a stiff gust of wind to throw them further off-balance - and hurries into the tower proper.

She's closer to the left than to the right, and thusly she steps into the left elevator, holding the gate for any of her allies who join her on that side; the Wind Knight also offers a smile and a bow of the head to Mami.

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

The shield, despite not hovering on Steven's forearm, still seems intrinsically attached to him somehow. As incoming fire rains down on the shield, A foot has to dog is as kinetic jolts slam Steven back several times, sending painful vibrations up his outstretched arm. But that isn't the only thing reverberating.

As bullets connect with the shield, sound waves ripple out, disrupting and cracking the nearby ground, and causing undue pain to those in front of the shield. As well, the ammunition reflects every which way imaginable in a frontal area. It isn't long until the soldiers literally undo themselves. Spotting an opening, Steven grasps the azure lip of his shield and runs toward the tower.

The fighting grows more intense as the group packs in toward their destination. And for the little boy, he has to play a bit of stealth getting past another group as everyone converges. Slipping around an ornate pillar. Admittedly, when there are others causing massive explosions and bursts of magic, it makes for a good distraction!

A pair of elevators offer momentary respite and travel to their destinations. The little Gem Child piles into the left elevator, gasping for air. "I need... to ask... the Gems... how to... shapeshift better clothes..." he sputters out, wrenching ad his overly tight shirt collar. Whether or not he can actually /do/ that like them though is a question for another time.

It is only now he notices someone else i nthe elevator. "Ghh...! Oh, hey! Good work out there," he says, slumping on a side wall. "S... Sorry for bailing on your earlier, I was so scared, I didn't know what to do, and..." He trails off, but begins anew with a better thought. "You are doing great out there. The guys ahead will be no match for you, I bet!" he says nicely, trying to uplift her spirits. "And if it gets too dangerous, I got your back. We got this! We can free the school!"

COMBAT: Steven Universe has used Love Like You on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Steven Universe has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji accepts Steven Universe's Love Like You, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji is Cheered!  Surge applied to Fuu Hououji!  
<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Grenades hail down, and there is a world where Mikoto is scored with shrapnel again, a hundred-hundred tiny metal lances launched with concussive force.

But perhaps knowing Homura for so long -- and being caught in explosives so recently -- is its own teacher. Mikoto sees the first bounce down, and springs away, and it is the first in a series of snapshots of diving and weaving and never quite being staggered or thrown aside. Homura has

the element of surprise; these soldiers do not.

She is not distracted in her dance between the explosive hail they rain down.

She is running for the tower.

She is screaming: "/KOZUE!/"

Mai rises from the ocean and Mikoto knows she will punish the soldiers for their transgressions. Mai promised she would be safe. Mikoto promised to take care of it. ... what an interesting contrast.

And then she is into the lobby, and the battle behind them is shielded by walls. A rose beneath them, lights above; they cast a shadow at Mikoto's feet as she walks. And Mikoto is apart from many of the girls around her, uninvolved in so many of their works. She is not sure she can properly call any of the people here her friends...

... so the friends of her friends will have to function well enough to follow.

Mikoto has heard complaints from Mami and Sayaka, but they are important, to Eri and Madoka and Homura. They are known quantities.

Mami asks Sayaka if they ought to head up, and Mikoto just steps into the elevator beside them, completely uninvited and utterly self-assured. At least she's not attacking soldiers in the process. She glances to them, finds blue eyes and ones gold like hers in so many fashions, and she makes an unsettled noise in the back of her throat as she looks aside. "... Eri and Homura are okay," she says, the words a little awkward, unsure of what to say, delivering information instead of hopes or aspirations. "I think."

She doesn't know what happened to Madoka.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Rather than praise her, the gunners draw sidearms and start shooting at her. Sayaka seems almost to disappear into her cape as she drops low, then surges forward. She takes a bullet on her way over, grunting as caves down to her knees and slams them into the first gunner. Bearing him to the ground, Sayaka ends up kneeling on his chest, slicing her sword back behind her to neatly sever the barrel of the pistol.

The gunner hesitates a moment, then decides to try to fire it anyway. The shot goes wild, but scares Sayaka, who had thought the gun disabled. She shoves herself to her feet so fast she bonks her head on the gun emplacement. "Uuugh!" she moans, embarrassed. The gunner with his sawed-off pistol steps up to try and plant it against Sayaka, realizing how inaccurate it is now, but Sayaka moves into him to prevent it, stepping through his space and turning around to grab his head. Tossing her feet in the air, she drops down straight onto her back, forcing him to do the same, only with the added unpleasantness of being on the bottom.

"Huhh," Sayaka pants. She winces, reaching up under her armpit to grab the bullet her healing is pushing out. As she picks herself up, she places the bent slug on the unconscious man's chest. That move is called the sitout sometimes, and this gentleman is definitely going to be sitting this one out.

"Give this back to your buddy," she advises, patting the bullet almost fondly.

Jogging up to Mami, Sayaka beams at the praise. "Keheh. Mami-senpai took out the bigger guns." Turning, she looks up the tower, finding it more imposing when it's a fortress to assault than when it was just a school building.

"Mami-senpai would definitely win if she ran, even for president!" Sayaka proclaims, clenching a fist near her jawline emphatically. Following Mami into the car, she beams visibly, her mouth at a traditional, possibly copyrighted "Smiley Face" angle. When Mikoto jogs through to stand between her and Mami, that angle reverses into an equal and opposite frowny face.

It softens, though, as Mikoto visibly worries about the others. "They're okay," she says, resting a hand on Mikoto's shoulder. "Those two can handle themselves. And absolutely nobody but nobody can beat my best friend Madoka!"

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Frozen In Time - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjnW7icsx9I

As the Magical Girls file into one of the elevators, another slips into the rear to join those filing into the one on the right. There's no masque on her face, simply the hood drawn up over her hair to enclose even her bangs. Those who are bright and brilliant cast long shadows don't they? And as they celebrate - carry on, she stands within those shadows.

Her eyes drifting upwards like she was heading for the same goal as the rest of them - like she belongs there - yet stands apart. She does not sneak glances at the others in the elevator. She doesn't need to - to know who is here - whether in this elevator - or the adjacent shaft.


There's the feel of a head on her shoulder - and the smell of chlorine in the summer air. "You know... I like going into the water more than I do sitting around some bonfire."


And then there is the scent of almost far too sweet - cloying crepes. "Isn't it nice to just... exist - sometimes?" The girl says as she sits on the slats of the ruined rollercoaster ride. The park overlooking the city. "I don't mean existence is nice... but existing." The girl turns the crepe around to show Mikoto, "It's like eating crepes when noone is around who thinks something of it... or swimming in the pool by yourself at night. You get it right?"

There's this light sigh, as she chews off an end of it, allowing it's flavor to permeate her tastebuds - before she swallows, "Of course you do." Kozue's smile seems bittersweet at best. "You have a brother after all. So you know what it's like."


The gates of the elevator squeezes shut with a strange coordination - as a girl in each hits the button for the Student Council Chambers, and the cars traversing upwards becomes a silhouette of a cage against the strange geometry of the portals showing the sky outside of the chairman's tower.

She doesn't respond for a while, hands at her sides, bobbing up and down on her feet in a gesture of impatience but the moment someone looks at her a little too hard - she states-

	"Before we get started. Does anyone want to give up?"

It's then that everyone might be alerted to the traitor in their midst. It's unmistakable whose voice it is. As the girl's gaze slips down, and an Element snaps into her hand - materializing out of nowhere. The shadow of a sickle, with it's chain seemingly drawn up inside the handle. Surely this lone girl doesn't believe she can take them all on?


BGM Change: Countdown - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iiBy3p3ffa8

The word hangs in the air for a moment, before the entire elevator screeches - rocking and shuddering - it's archaic design lacking the same modern anchors - the light from outside of the Chairman's tower flickering like a strobe. The Child's talons are gripping the top of the elevator - like a vulture sitting atop the cage of a chipper songbird. It's crimson eyes glaring down eerily. Kozue sets upon Mami Tomoe first - attempting to bring her sickle down through her wrist to pin her against the cage wall - so she'll have a harder time firing up.

At the same time - pipes burst all over the elevator shaft, spraying them with what feels like a sprinkler like rain shower. The water causing the floor to grow slick in these few moments of disorienting ambush, as it streams off the edges. As the elevator passes by one pipe in that moment - it's severed payload hangs suspended in the air - like gravity was arrested droplet by droplet.

They elongate, stretching out and joining to congeal into long tendrils that try to clothesline Mikoto from approaching her. The ends stretching out to slide through the cage doors and wrap around the elevator - it's grip tightening to grind her back - including a still healing wound against the cold metal. "You should have stayed in custody-" There's a sort of redirection in that thought. "-both of you."

Almost like a terrible command.

The cage then rocks in another way entirely, as something smashes into the elevator floor from below. Again - and again - and again. The metal of the elevator floor warping and buckling beneath Sayaka Miki until it gives - the sudden column of water ripping her off her feet to try to smash her into the ceiling - pinning her to the ceiling. The talons of the Child suddenly squeeze, trying to shape the metal around her back to try to keep her held in place.

	"Hang in there... Sayaka-chan."

There's such a cruel twist of the knife in those words to her childhood friend. Before she seems to ignore her - pressing her attack on her mentor. "Fighting monsters has gone to all of your heads. Makes you think you can beat any enemy or that you're some heroes of justice."

As she tries to drive Mami Tomoe against the wall. "That isn't what this is about. The only truth to be found here is that every woman, even the most powerful - and most beautiful..." She taunts up close, almost sensuously in her struggle for dominance, "...can't change the fact that they'll go down on their knees when a man insists hard enough."

Kozue uses her elbow to try to hinder her movement, to keep her boxed in - while her knee whips up to try to brutalize her gut - and keep her from resisting. As she whispers almost sensuously. "Why fight what you can't even hope to resist?"

All of this struggle - for a singular purpose - of puncture one of the Golden Queen's limbs and hooking them to a wall.

The elevator continues in it's disorienting shifts and turns - all the while the Child's weight stands above, the creature having far too many sharp ends for anyone's liking - given that it's embracing the cord keeping them all suspended over the abyss.

COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru transforms into Kozue and Cassandra!
COMBAT: Cassandra has fully healed herself. She is now ready to take on 3 opponents!
COMBAT: Cassandra has used Toccata on Mami Tomoe.
COMBAT: Cassandra has used Ebbe und Fluth on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Cassandra has used Die erwachende Thetis on Sayaka Miki.
COMBAT: Cassandra has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe fails to dodge Cassandra's Toccata, taking 22 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi cleanly braces 11 Fatigue damage from Cassandra's Ebbe und Fluth, taking 2 Fatigue damage!  Cassandra is Psyched!  Stun and Tangle applied to Mikoto Minagi!  
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki fails to dodge Kozue Kaoru's Die erwachende Thetis, taking 45 Fatigue damage!  
<Pose Tracker> Ye-jin Song [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Song at Midnight - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Uvh-DUb0QQ

From an entrance high above, Ye-jin Song waits. Dark eyes track the progress of the two elevators as they rise, following their steady ascent up through the tower. She waits patently, until the metal boxes are just a few stories below. Then she jumps.

Air rushes past the White Queen as she descends, wine-red hair flaring behind her like in a dark corona. Fabric ripples as she descends, plummets those long feet to meet the roof of the second elevator with a metallic clang of impact. The sound is not, perhaps, as immediately alarming as the arrival of Kozue and Cassandra, which Steven and Fuu can easily witness through the bars that separate the two metal boxes.

It becomes more so shortly. Ye-jin's fingers trace the air and her Element forms inside of them, a neatly coiled length of white cord. A flick of her wrist splits the roof of the elevator open as easily as a more mundane bullwhip might sheer open a soda can. Metal screams as a long hole is abruptly torn, exposing the masked girl above to the two occupants in the car below.

It's the sound that's the worst part. It reverberates with agonizing volume inside of the elevator shaft, visibly distorting the space between the two occupants. As the cord snaps back into her hand Ye-jin scowls. "You're really starting to piss me off, you know?" She does not sound happy to see either the Wind Knight, not the boy in pink once again. "I hate wasting my time."

COMBAT: Ye-jin Song transforms into PRInCESS Ye-jin!
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song has fully healed herself. She is now ready to take on 2 opponents!
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song has used Sonic Shock on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song has cancelled their attack on Fuu Hououji. If there are more attacks that need to be +cancelled, please hold all +attacks until the process is complete.
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song has used Sonic Shock on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song has used Sonic Shock on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song has used Grace and Glory on Ye-jin Song.
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji braces 6 Fatigue damage from Ye-jin Song's Sonic Shock, taking 5 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Fuu Hououji's Block and Parry abilities activate!  Cripple applied to Fuu Hououji!  
COMBAT: Steven Universe fails to brace Ye-jin Song's Sonic Shock, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Cripple applied to Steven Universe!  
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song accepts Ye-jin Song's Grace and Glory, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Accelerate and Surge applied to Ye-jin Song!  
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

The Magic Knight of Wind smiles wryly at Steven, although the wryness fades as he speaks to her. "We haven't been blessed with much certainty about anything of late, have we?" she replies. "None of us are really at our best -" The universe decides to double down on that point almost immediately thereafter, yanking the Wind Knight's attention away with the sudden commotion being wrought in the other elevator. And then *their* elevator comes under similar attack: perhaps less catastrophically destructive, but at least as violent and attention-grabbing.

The Wind Knight brings her sword up as the elevator's roof is torn open, and she has some defense up even before the cord lashes through the air. You wouldn't expect a raised length of metal to provide much protection against a sound so harsh as to be literally painful, though ... In this case, maybe it's a small matter of familiarity breeding contempt; the Wind Knight has been on the receiving end of this before, and not that long ago. Or maybe it's just a measure of luck and reflex - she certainly doesn't really have time to cover her ears; all she can do is wince and endure it, knowing the noise doesn't last indefinitely.

"Believe me, the feeling is mutual," she retorts to the White Queen with an ever-so-faint smile, her voice raised over the sonic onslaught. "Unfortunately, if you were hoping we would back down, we'll have to disappoint you. Winds of Admonishment!!" she calls out still more loudly, trying to entrap the White Queen in a binding whirlwind.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Admonishment on Ye-jin Song.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has finished attacking.
COMBAT: White Queen fails to brace Fuu Hououji's Winds of Admonishment, taking 18 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji is Psyched!  Cripple and Trap applied to White Queen!  
<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mami herself would be forced to admit only internally that she is less likely to be quite so kind to her opponents... But it's endlessly charming from her student and friend Sayaka anyway. Once they're together-- "Well, you know what they say--fight guns with guns." She nods, as if that's a real saying, and then smiles--with the rough time they've all had, unfettered /praise/ is a balm. "Well--" She pauses, then, as she spots Mikoto coming through. For an instant, her old habits make her wonder if they will have a difficulty here-- with Mikoto, who she has had issue with before, who is shouting even now for her enemies--what was the name, over the gunfire? And yet. That doesn't happen.

"Thank you," Mami says to Mikoto, as Sayaka reassures her in turn. "I haven't had a chance to meet up with them, yet..." A pause, and then she smiles back at Sayaka. "That's right. Madoka-chan will be fine--but," she turns back to Mikoto as they go up, "I did see her, before the battle." She pauses, an instant, and considers--she saw Kagutsuchi flying out towards the others...

"...I believe Tokiha-san will be fine too," Mami offers. They've had their disagreements in the past--plenty of them--but now is not the time for them. Now, they work together. ...And for shadows... Mami Tomoe /is/ a brilliant fond of light, isn't she?

She recognizes the voice when Kozue speaks up--recognizes the sound of a weapon materializing, and turns immediately, her demeanor changing. "Sayaka--!"

Her warning for the other girl is cut off by Mami clamping her mouth shut to avoid crying out as the sickle slams straight through her arm--and the fact of Kozue's choice is made wise as in the same instant the gun she'd already summoned fires, far wide of the Child above them.

Water crashes down upon them, and when it hits Mami's delicate sleeve it flows red. "I didn't ask your opinion," Mami asks, and it is as close to a snarl as a girl as refined as Mami gets. But she doesn't have time to free herself immediately. Gone to their heads, has it?

Mami is already on the wall; driving her against it is easy, and the older girl narrows her eyes as she sees Kozue close. If there is a sensuality to it, perhaps it is in the senses; the scent of chlorinated water warring with that of flowers. The soft fabric as delicate as crepe paper, warring against slick red. A sharp elbow into soft flesh.

"To /your/ knees is a familiar trip," Mami spits darkly at Kozue, coughing as the knee hits her gut, and she feels the searing pain of her wrist /stuck/ such that it puts stars in her vision-- Before the next strike pins her arm closer to the elbow and Mami lets out a shout of anger as much as pain.

Her eyes snap up. "What would /you/ know about resisting anything?" Mami spits back at her. "Not all of us think it's our purpose in life to sleep through the student body!"

Her free hand comes up--and while one might expect it it to just be a gentle movement, it isn't. Mami's fist snakes out for Kozue's face, and in the wake of it ribbons course off of her other wrist, wending about arms, about hands, about her weapon to slow and tire, streaming in gold. "So get /OUT!/"

COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has used Parete on Kozue Kaoru.
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has finished attacking.
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

"Nah... it's all been guesswork, but following our hearts always seems to lead us where to go. At least we can count on those, right?" he asked with a smile.

The elevator ride up was a serene moment in an otherwise tumultuous event. A chance to clear one's head before the trials meet them. The boy rests his chin thoughtfully atop an edge of his shield, balancing it from there as he stared off through the metal safety bars. Unfortunately for Steven and his elevator partner, someone seems intent on interrupting that.

A metallic groawn and a shudder grab the boy's attention. "What was that? Are they sabotaging the elevator?" He stands, and carefuly walks to the edge, a tender hand grabbing a metal bar. A look beyond shows the opposite elevator with the Puella Magi and Mikoto is under attack! "We gotta do something! Can we reach--"

A deafening snap of metal and flick of light reveals their roof is now missing a section, and a familiar figure who caused problems not too many nights ago is seen. Not only seen, but heard. Heard in the worst way. As if someone put an angry housecat in front of a chain of megaphones. THe boy grips his ears, though again there is a strange, further effect that grates at his being, coming from inside somewhere.

Violent sounds just seem to cause him undue problems.

"What is your problem, Lady?!" he shouts up as his hearing slowly returns. "We're trying to save the school from being blown up! Go... away!" A thought and a forceful hand creates a section of a Bubble Shield, that he launches after the Wind Knight blasts outward with wind, attempting to impact the masked figure and knock her away, or off, or somewhere than isn't here, because he doesn't need this right now! "If you care about this school at all you'll help us save everyone!"

COMBAT: Steven Universe has used Repelling Shield on White Queen.
COMBAT: Steven Universe has finished attacking.
COMBAT: White Queen partially dodges 3 Fatigue damage from Steven Universe's Repelling Shield, taking 13 Fatigue damage!  White Queen's Fade ability activates!  
<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Sayaka does not acknowledge the hooded girl at first, her attention on Mikoto. But as the doors slide closed, her eyes trace over, at first just for a glance. She finds herself staring, though. Some intuition keeps her watching. It isn't her danger sense. It's a sense of familiarity. Narrowing her eyes, Sayaka feels herself unfocusing, her mind trying to find something. A feather, a scent of aquamarine. Her head tilts. The voice of a girl Sayaka was raised with answers a riddle unasked.

Sayaka doesn't move. She knows a twitch will be answered by violence. She can see the blade glittering in Kozue's hand. She can feel the tension in the air.

This would have been unthinkable, even moments ago. Sayaka never dreamed she'd fight Kozue. But whatever scrap of wisdom she has gained in her young life is resonating inside her. Somehow... somehow she just knows.

"Do you mean," she asks softly, "anyone else?"

"Sayaka!" Mami shouts.

Sayaka rips a sword from sizzling blue nothing, bringing it overhead. Her strike is decisive, because it comes from Mami, but uncommited, because it goes towards Kozue. It is also useless, because Cassandra has her own ideas about who is attacking whom today. Jarred violently, Sayaka drops to one knee.

"Senpai!" she shouts a warning. Being trapped in an elevator is a vulnerable position for Mami. Better for Mikoto and Sayaka to handle this-- Better, but not to be.

Sayaka feels the equivalent of a broken hydrant's worth of water hit her in the chest, driving her off her feet. She loses her sword, which clatters to the ground and spins there in the flow, as Sayaka herself strikes the ceiling forcefully. Thrashing, she tries to free herself from the water, only to feel the ceiling itself "grab" her, wrapping her torso in bent metal.

Blowing water from her mouth and nose, Sayaka lifts her head parallel to the ceiling so she can see what's going on beneath her. "Kozue!" Sayaka shouts, but Kozue no longer seems to even know that she's up there, for all the attention she pays. She freezes in alarm as she sees Kozue slam Mami into the wall. Mami is endlessly resourceful, and hardly helpless at close range, but a match for Kozue? At a distance shorter than the length of a musket? She's afraid Mami will get cut down at any moment. If only Madoka were here.

Sayaka kicks with her legs, but they're not long enough to reach Kozue's head unless she was standing right beneath. If only Kozue was taller. Gritting her teeth, Sayaka tries to lift one shoulder to pull an arm free. A rib or two didn't make it through this, and crushed like this, she can't heal it either. Groaning rises to an angry scream as Sayaka drags at her own arm hard, pulling it against the claw-crushed metal. Her voice rises, her feet pedal, and she yanks a heavily abraded arm free.

Gasping, Sayaka snatches a sword from her dangling cape with the freed hand, and tosses it to catch it in a reverse grip. Heaving, she slams it in hilt-deep into the ceiling, then rips it free again. Unsure where to stab to get Cassandra to let go, she slams her sword down again and again, puncturing holes in the ceiling at different spots.

"Hang on!" she urges.

COMBAT: Sayaka Miki has used Furioso on Kozue Kaoru.
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki has finished attacking.

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

There is another girl, but Mikoto does not know her, and pays her little mind.

She is distracted. The contact and support are unexpected, as Sayaka hears the concern Mikoto has for the other Puella Magi - and the one left unnamed. Mami's kindness joins her, reassuring her that Madoka is all right in a different way to Sayaka's concrete belief, and her expression gentles for a moment into something so much more fragile, more breakable, more vulnerable and raw. The upwards arc of her brow and her lips, the little shudder-halt of a breath before a sigh of relief; she's happy. It is so easy to ease Mikoto, even in the depths of the oblivion SEARRS has brought her. "I..."

She breathes through her lips and at first she does not catch the scent of it.


"Is it okay?" Mikoto asks of existing, legs swinging over the precarious edge of the rollercoaster. Her eyes drop to the black case on her other side, but her hands are occupied with a crepe half-devoured. "Sometimes, I feel like... I'm having too much fun. Nice to not have to... but... what if I'm not doing enough 'cause I like it too much?"

Her teeth drag over her lips, and she takes another bite of crepe - and then another, because crepes are delicious. "Did I give up 'cause I have friends now? Am I not trying hard enough? Is that why I haven't completed my mission? I - I didn't mean to. Guess I'm just scared that, one day... I won't be free to eat crepes with Kozue whenever I want. I dunno if..." Mikoto trails off, as if she has realised she is speaking too much. She so rarely speaks her mind. She so rarely speaks at length. It is long friendship which has drawn the words out of her, long patience with her silences and clipped-wing words.

She smiles, small, and there is the weight of millennia behind it. "... no, there's no way, right?" Another bite, and Mikoto notes: "It's good."


And all a sudden the memory clicks into place with the scent, and shock floods through the succour on Mikoto's face as her gaze snaps to the stranger. Her breath catch-lodges in her throat, sucked in through grit teeth. She knows.

Golden eyes snap down to the kusarigama she comes to hold; on reflex she draws Miroku up, covering her belly. "Ko--" It is the word she has been screaming this whole time. Now she is here, the word chokes.

It's getting damp in here. The sprinklers are making her eyes wet, creeping down her face. When did Ohtori decide on salt water to quench their fires?

In-out her breath shudders and she growls against it, diving forward - and oh, these are /such/ small quarters, aren't they? - but she cannot clear the few steps of distance.

Cassandra is come.

Her reckless approach is punished by solid water, and she is slammed against the back of the elevator. She grits her teeth and bears it, and she had thought she was whole but Kozue brings out the memory of pain regardless.

Perhaps it is a function of her opponent.

But Mami says she knows nothing of resisting and Mikoto cries out: "Don't!" And it is not the sprinkler which sets her words awobble.

"Kozue," she says, and they are not battle-edged words, "Kozue-! I know! I know but - we can /help,/ Kozue! This isn't right! Kozue wasn't made for this!" The words thin in their grief and she does not know the shape of them. She is not Madoka; she does not speak reason. She does not redeem sad girls.

But when her friends are in trouble, she gets involved.

She heard what they called her. She heard how they laughed.

Kozue is in trouble.

With a cry she wrests her blade up and carves through the water, because the water isn't quite water any more. She stumbles as she is freed and she does not want to, does not want to, but she can't hope to resist, and she knows the way the truth carves the world open.

She will try not to kill her. She will try.

There is no room here to gain momentum; it is a swing as Mikoto steps in to match Kozue from behind, in the wake of Mami's ribbons. Her breath hitches in a sob as she brings her blade in towards flesh, an upwards strike from below. It is edged; it will cut. The truth carves the world open.

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Disequilibrium on Kozue Kaoru.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru fails to counter Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Disequilibrium, taking 40 Fatigue damage!  Exhausted applied to Kozue Kaoru!  
COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru's counterattack, Toccata, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Mikoto Minagi!  
COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru braces 9 Fatigue damage from Mami Tomoe's Parete, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Kozue Kaoru's Block and Parry abilities activate!  Diversion applied to Kozue Kaoru!  
COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru partially dodges 4 Fatigue damage from Sayaka Miki's Furioso, taking 16 Fatigue damage!  Kozue Kaoru's Fade and Flash abilities activate!  Sayaka Miki drains 6 fatigue from Kozue Kaoru!
<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [None] has posed.

Something inside of her twists - as she bulls through Sayaka's comment in her assault. She has to - right through Mikoto's concern. Her coming here for her.

The adjacent shaft shrieks with the sounds of the White Queen's assault, and Kozue is glad at least that there will not be support crossing over to blindside her. The ones in that shaft are both fortunate and unfortunate in her eyes.

Fortunate because they get to die ignorant. Unfortunate because they picked the one that the White Queen was ambushed.

As Mami's fist snakes out towards Kozue's face, the girl's wrist twists, and out of nowhere a chain drops to the floor between them. Catching it with a hand in mid-air. The ribbons snap around the chain - as she diverts some of its winding path.

Sayaka stabs upwards - and Cassandra squawks - as she starts doing this shuffling dance. Her talons pattering upon the metal as what must seem like nails pop out of the floor. The final strike pops right through it - and impales it - the Child makes this noise of agony as it rocks its food back and forth to try and wobble it off it.

"... That's a really good question." Kozue snarls asks what she knows about resisting anything. It's like she's forcing the insult to roll off of her and strike...

... her beloved kouhai - like ricochet from a musket ball turned friendly fire, "Why don't /you/ tell her Sayaka-chan? That's why you gave up your one and only wish - and gave it to a boy. So tell her from someone who's seen the truth with her own eyes... what all her pride is going to amount to." That smile is knowing - vicious - even in the profile of what angle Sayaka can catch of her from her position against the ceiling, "Don't lose your nerve now."

Kozue however loses her own nerve a little as Mikoto tries to cut through. Carving en route to her. She has to turn around suddenly to try to match the blow - ripping her sickle free from Mami, but Mami's ribbons are hindering her - and so as she does, Mikoto's blow smashes into the chain, and thus smashes her back against the wall with a gasp.

The Child, now furious causes more pipes to spring leaks - one after one. And suddenly a column of water stabs through the ceiling, just missing Sayaka to stab down at Mikoto with a pressurized stream - that seems like to drive her through the floor if it gets her way. "Help? What a laugh. As if you'd ask me for help if you were in the same position with your Ani-Ue."

Kozue recovers - trying to shake it off - ducking down like she's going to press her assault and swing her sickle at Mami's belly. "Someone reinforced to me-" However at the last second, she backsteps, revealing the feint. "-what I was made for." The water soaked floor suddenly swirls upwards to try and spiral around Mami's feet, and trying to wrench her down to the elevator floor.

... where Kozue will most assuredly advance again.

Sayaka in comparison is perhaps 'fortunate' in that Cassandra has finally had enough of her stabbing - and tries to reverse the trick on her by jamming her wingtip through the ceiling. Again - and again - and again. Like a blade trap that keeps going off. It's perhaps not the best way to deal with the girl. However - much like it's HiME, the Child has a temper.

"Don't worry /Mami-san/." There's a little bit of a blood haze in her eyes, "You still wanna think you're better than me?" The girl tries to use her blade to sever a few of the ribbons. "I'll let you hold onto that fairy tale for as long as you can. After all - it won't be me you're going down on your knees for."

COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru has used Toccata on Sayaka Miki.
COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru has used Ebbe und Fluth on Mami Tomoe.
COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru has used Ondine's Curse on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi fails to dodge Kozue Kaoru's Ondine's Curse, taking 52 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe counters 4 Fatigue damage from Kozue Kaoru's Ebbe und Fluth, taking 13 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Kozue Kaoru is Psyched!  Mami Tomoe's Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!  Stun and Tangle applied to Mami Tomoe!  
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe's counterattack, Tiro Retort, partially gets through, doing 16 Fatigue damage to Kozue Kaoru!  Critical Counterhit!  
<Pose Tracker> White Queen [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

The wind that Fuu conjures is a much more violent turbulence than the White Queen experienced on her trip down the elevator shaft. A hand rises to shield her face, red strands of hair once again streaming outward as the wind knight's magic buffets against her. Her footing is tenuous at best, in the force of that gale.

The blow from Steven's shield bubble loosens it altogether. She rises abruptly from the roof of the elevator, puffing into the air like a plastic bag in a windstorm. For a moment she hovers in space, brilliantly lit against in the sky in the vast window that borders the elevator. Until her hand flashes again, and the length of her whip flashes through the opening in the roof once more. It might seem for a moment that she's missed-she strikes neither crystal gem nor wind knight, the white strands instead binding tight around a mass of metal grating at the side of the elevator. It seems, for a moment, a mistake. At least until a kick of her foot against the elevator shaft and a snap of her arm sends the masked girl shooting back along the length of her element, down into the elevator like a bullet.

Her path runs on a collision course with Fuu, crashing bodily toward the wind knight with intent to do meteoric violence. "There's nothing that isn't disappointing about you," She hisses, "So just go to hell!" The whip untangles from it's anchor once she's in the elevator itself, returning to her hand once more.

Just in time for her to pirouette toward Steven, pivoting like and dancer and letting the cord spool out once more. White cord streaks through the confined space of the elevator, the vicious tip of the White Queen's weapon finding it's prey with unerring accuracy. "If you care so much about your stupid school," She snarls, "You should have behaved when you had the chance!"

COMBAT: White Queen has used Brutal Dance on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: White Queen has used Focus Flense on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: White Queen has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji fails to counter White Queen's Brutal Dance, taking 23 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  White Queen is Psyched!  Exhausted applied to Fuu Hououji!  
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji's counterattack, Spinning Slash, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to White Queen!  
COMBAT: Steven Universe braces 15 Fatigue damage from White Queen's Focus Flense, taking 12 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Steven Universe's Block and Parry abilities activate!  Cripple applied to Steven Universe!  
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Much as Mikoto confirmed in the other elevator, there isn't really enough room to 'spin up' for a powerful melee attack within these confines. The Wind Knight tries anyway, less a circle of her sword and more a twist of her body, trying to add force to a counterstrike - but she leaves herself too wide open on the wind-up, and the White Queen slams into her hard enough that the green-clad Magic Knight rebounds off the inside of the elevator, wobbling on her feet.

But when she lifts her gaze to her adversary, there's a rare tint of anger in her gaze. Usually she only gives that kind of personally-aggravated look to Zagato's minions, or other villainous minions who've managed to hurt her where it's personal. She might never have bestowed such a glower on another magical girl. She might not realize that behind the White Queen's mask *is* another magical girl.

"Ignorance must truly be bliss, for you not to realize what drives us right now," the Wind Knight says, her voice quiet but still razor-edged. "If we meet on more friendly terms, help me remember to apologize properly." A gale abruptly arises within the elevator's confines, breached though they are by the Queen's entrance in the roof. It still isn't enough room to really cut loose ...

"Emerald Cyclone!!"

... but the Magic Knight of Wind has had to focus and constrain her wrath before, and she does so with most of her usual aplomb. It's almost like a rebuttal to the sonic onslaught from before, the wind not rending like normal, but buffeting violently, even viciously. It's a wind force which could uproot trees or tanks alike - and the Wind Knight turns her power squarely on the White Queen, raising her voice once more to be heard over the conjured tempest:


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

Even in this, Mami would rather spare Sayaka, but that simply won't be possible. Already Mami can hear the sounds of combat in the other car, the White Queen and her harsh words just close--and she cannot but hope that the others can hold her attention, because this position... Being enclosed in this space is /not/ to Mami Tomoe's advantage.

"I don't think I'm going anywhere!" Mami calls back to Sayaka, and with the splintering pain in her arm, more than a third of the way to a crucifixion, she cannot entirely comprehend Mikoto's words at first, her quiet manner. ...Help her. Isn't made for this. How often has Mami heard something like that, and relented?

But by this point she cannot simply shrug off her ire--not when Kozue tries to redirect onto Sayaka. Rather than shocking or stopping Mami--it makes her angrier.

"You have /no idea/ what I've seen of girls and their wishes," Mami answers, and the memory of a girl in red adds venom to drip from her words. There are reasons she says as she does-- She could have sympathy, being nervous of Mikoto--in another way.

"Aah--" Mami can't stay silent as the sickle is ripped free again, and that arm hangs, limp and useless, at her side. Kozue denies help, and she feints--

Mami doesn't bother defending; she lets herself be grabbed by the water, but in the instant before it pulls, she puts out her hand--and a short cannot bursts into being in her hand, and erupts in a line for Kozue, upward, upward--

Mami's ribbons stick, and hold; they can be gotten through... it just takes a bit of time.

"I don't have to /think/ I'm better than some spoiled, petulant girl," Mami answers, and she sees that haze and looks down her nose /harder/. She's still in a vulnerable position, slamming downwards, but as she hits the floor of the elevator--

Ribbons /burst/ from all around her, great golden lines that crash outward, that give Mikoto something to hang onto, that give Mami an instant to breathe.

"I've fought more monsters than you've had dates. You're years too early if you think you can force me into /anything/."

COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has used Evadere on Kozue Kaoru.
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru perfectly counters 16 Fatigue damage from Mami Tomoe's Evadere, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Critical Counter!  Kozue Kaoru's Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!  
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe is unable to keep fighting!
COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru's counterattack, Ondine's Curse, bursts all the way through, doing 57 Fatigue damage to Mami Tomoe!  Critical Counterhit!  Mami Tomoe is unable to keep fighting!  
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

The manifested transparent shield makes contact, and propels your assailant away. "When will they learn?!" he says with a bit of a scowl. The boy turns to look back across at the other fight raging as a pointed filament surges right past him and grasps a spot upon the elevator. "Still?" In moments, the masked opponent is within the elevator with them. Fuu is the first to be attacked, giving Steven the moment to ready his shield. Tang-tang-tang-tang goes the implement as it clashes agains element. The final spin catches Stevens shoulder as it licks up and over the rim of the shield, a few drops of blood fly and hit the floor-- the whip has a small red spot. Though considering how fast it flies it could be clean by the time it stops moving.

"Gargh...." grumbles Steven, reaching to his shoulder. "None of this even makes any sense, if the girl wanted the help of HiME to stop a terrorist incidenct, how can they even help if they get blown up in thirty-six hours?!" He complains most likely to no avail, but Steven won't stay quiet.

The boy looks toward Fuu, who in retaliation, readies one of her most powerful abilities. He looks up and sees an opportunity. "We got this! Lets punch her ticket!" Mustering what power he has left to offer, he forms two sheaths of Bubble Shield, that crash through the metal bars on both size and almost take their place. While not a full seal, Fuu's wind is forced into one space, and exit out one way-- the hole the WHite Queen formed.

Steven can anchor himself to his shields, and Fuu is most likely immune to her own power, which means...! "You should have taken a different flight!"

COMBAT: Sayaka Miki perfectly counters 21 Fatigue damage from Kozue Kaoru's Toccata, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Counter!  
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki's counterattack, Disjunct Chord, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Kozue Kaoru!  
<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Nine Inch Nails - The Great Below https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pev0dINRaok

Mikoto does not fight for strangers. She does not care about the thousands of faceless, nameless students captured here in Ohtori. She cares about people, specific people, and she has never once fought for the good of the world, but she has fought for the ones she cares about. Sometimes the world is helped while she helps her loved ones. It's incidental.

Mikoto charged for the tower and screamed a name and it's Kozue, she came here for Kozue, she will rip this tower off its foundations for Kozue.

Kozue does not listen.

Perhaps it is because of the violence Mikoto brings to bear. She slams Kozue into the wall and advances, hefting up her blade, and water courses out behind her. She is too close for Cassandra to strike - without striking her girl. Miroku's edge keeps her against the wall, not quite pressing in. In her eyes is an earnest plea; she wants so badly to fix this.

Kozue poses her question and the desperation written on her face is wiped clean with new shock, and Kozue knows so intimately the expression Mikoto bears now when she has been stabbed through. Her jaw gapes, her breath shudders in and out too quickly, and without thinking she jerks away. "That's not --"

isn't it? really?

... in her haste to stumble back, she does not hear the water which cuts.

With a strangled cry Mikoto is plunged down and the rushing water cannot completely mask Kozue's words, but certainly it masks a girl, down through a dark bored hole.

Perhaps it would be the end of her - but she is not alone.

Down, down the great yawning shaft, in the shifting dark where all the silhouettes go when they are stored for future use, golden ribbons burst down, and Mikoto snatches hold of one with iron grasp.

She starts climbing, with one hand and two legs, and she does not have time to linger on the pain.

There are a few nice, quiet moments when there are only two enemy combatants in the elevator...

... and then Mikoto leaps for the torn gash in the floor, just as that ribbon fades to nothing. She snarls with effort as she hoists herself up - rolls onto the floor. She does not take a moment to catch her breath, pushing herself up with rocking motions. Those golden eyes search out Kozue. She remembers what she has said.

"What Kozue's made for?" Mikoto demands, and there is a hot lance of anger to her words. "What Kozue's /made for?!/ That's not something for Tokyo girls to worry about! Here there's crepes and pools, Kozue! It's /different/ here!"

She shouts and perhaps it becomes clear where her anger lies. "What did they do?!" It is anger but it is not disbelief. It should not have happened, but that does not mean it cannot.

It was never meant to be Kozue.

Kozue was never meant to understand like this.

Mikoto cannot spin in this place - not with Mami fallen. She hefts her blade over head and it is a narrow thing, not carving /Sayaka/ instead. "Let's go back!" She cries, desperation edging into the anger of her words again as she fights through the haze. "Let's go back to existing, Kozue!" Say one thing, do another; she reaches out with her words and her stance shifts forward, Miroku carving down in a vertical slice straight towards Kozue's person.

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Destruction on Kozue Kaoru.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru partially dodges 11 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Destruction, taking 43 Fatigue damage!  Kozue Kaoru's Fade and Flash abilities activate!  
<Pose Tracker> White Queen [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"Why would I ever care," Says the White Queen, "About anything you wanted?" Her words are tinged with fury as her knee smashes into the wind knight, the girl in red bringing her whip back to her hand once more. She notes, idly, that the stain upon it means she made her mark. She is about to do more than that. Again her hand extends outward, prepared to fill the entirely of the elevator with the whirling, cutting length. She's interrupted abruptly by the tornado of force that Fuu summons into the enclosed space they share. The metal caging shudders, as does the floor beneath them. For a moment, it seems the entire elevator might rip itself apart--

Until Steven separates another chunk of the metal bars. The masked girl's balance falters, and once again she's picked off her feet. She hisses in anger as she's thrown violently from the carriage, smashing into the side of the elevator as the gale forces it to ascend higher and faster, and her in the opposite direction.

She goes down. Down, toward darkness. The bottom of the elevator shaft, once well-lit by the seemingly endless window behind, has abruptly turned into a pit of black smoke. She does not so much fall in it as she falls atop it, feet touching down on some unseen surface beneath the boiling darkness.

Her eyes are searing yellow lights as she watches the cars ascend. She does not pursue.

<Pose Tracker> Sayaka Miki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Sayaka's eyes widen as a bladed wing pops through the ceiling next to her head. Getting out of this just got even more urgent. Shoving her sword into the metal crushed around her, Sayaka starts sawing back and forth at it. But without serration, this is difficult work, and Sayaka yelps as another wing punctures near her head.

"Kozue!" Sayaka objects, shocked that she'd drag her brother into this just to hurt Sayaka. "W-well, I'm too busy to tell anybody anything, if you haven't noticed!"

Convenient but also true, Sayaka has no bandwidth for repartee at the moment. She pries at her sword like a crowbar, partially freeing herself, as Mami engaged in ribbon-enhanced fisticuffs below, and Mikoto is blasted with water. Things have been better.

"Hrrrk!" Sayaka groans. She can tell that Cassandra has narrowed down where she is, now. It has to be now or get impaled. Wrenching her arm, she rips a curved hole in the ceiling, and her body drops. Unfortunately, Cassandra can now see down into the car.

Thowing her elbow, Sayaka rotates as she falls, eyes widening as she watches the wing plunging down even faster. Grunting, she swipes at the stabbing pinion with her sword, smacking it aside. Clang, clang, clang! Three times she parries, the third just as she hits the ground. A final, devastatingly strong downward slash is coming, using the angle to make a guillotine of the wing. Sayaka, still half-bouncing from the impact, rips a second sword free and crosses them just as the pinion stabs again.

On the ground, she lies, the metal feather inches from her forehead, her crisscrossed swords supporting one another while holding up the wing. Her elbows, planted on the soaking ground, support the blades in turn.

Pursing her lips, Sayaka blows on the feather, a quick puff of air, like an Old West gunslinger with a pistol.

Cassandra has to yank her wing back at that point due to Miroku swinging its massive weight around, and Sayaka wisely sticks to where she was. Rolling back on her shoulders in its wake, she springs up, brandishing both swords, ready to challenge Cassandra through that hole again.

But as she stares up, she sees nothing but empty elevator shaft, up and up, going until the end of the world.

"/No/," Sayaka breathes. And she turns her face to Mami Tomoe.

The pillar of water drops, swallowing Mami entirely, its driving force far beyond the one that had smashed Sayaka into the ceiling. And Mami... she can't heal.

"No!" she says again. Sayaka's keen blue eyes lift to a hole in the side of the elevator. As she bolts forward to rush past Kozue, she kick-lifts the dangling chain of her kusarigami, briefly setting it sailing, a length of links floating before the hole in the wall. With a sharp thrust, Sayaka neatly plunges her sword through a link, pinning the chain to the wall. The elevator has no mercy; if Kozue doesn't get it loose, her chain is going to start dragging out of the elevator fast. Sayaka fixes her with a brief glance of disbelief and anger, her tremulous lower lip hinting at the hurt beneath.

Then, hastily as she can while being as careful as she can, Sayaka body-checks the falling Mami, catching her about the lower waist. Sayaka is a bit too late for a clean save here; Mami has fallen too much and the weight is too low to balance well. There's a moment of struggle, then Mami is arrested, held up, hugged protectively. Her stockinged knees are a few inches from the ground. But they never touched, no, never hers.

Sayaka's are planted on the ground firmly.

"Ah," Sayaka exhales. She stares at her own knees for a few seconds, dully. She has to, as she's supporting Mami's good arm with her head.

COMBAT: Sayaka Miki has used Caprice on Kozue Kaoru.
COMBAT: Sayaka Miki has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru braces 12 Fatigue damage from Sayaka Miki's Caprice, taking 5 Fatigue damage!  Kozue Kaoru's Block and Parry abilities activate!  
<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> The End of the Line - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pm7pN2oKV4M

The cannonfire bursts into Kozue - clipping her shoulder - causing red to enter her silhouette, "Guh!"

Ribbons burst all around, and Kozue just starts swiping desperately. Trying not to get caught - the ribbons slice through the water, trailing sparkling droplets. "You're right. I don't know anything about you." It's a brutal dance for her to keep ahead of them. "I don't need to though." The ribbons extend, almost completely slicing through her bonds. Kozue swipes madly, hacking like she's trying to make a path through the Amazon. "No matter what girls you've known - no matter what wishes you've seen - no matter how many monsters you've slain."

Cassandra's baleful glowing eye can be seen in that moment through the hole in the elevator ceiling. Focused eerily on Mami. "... It's the same for every girl." To Mami Tomoe's great credit, it does not blindside her. The great torrent of water that slices down like a great arcing wave catches into the great golden lengths that she's summoned. In the end though, the great force behind the crashing wave ust barely manages to outdo the ribbons.

"Especially me." It's so muted that noone even hears that one - and perhaps there's something sad there.

Mikoto perhaps, Kozue thought - was gone. She's just as surprised when she comes back - and Cassandra is too - squawking in alarm as it swiftly retracts its wing to keep Miroku from slicing it off - thus freeing Sayaka. What did she find to hold onto down there? "Just - stay - down!" The girl has just barely cleared the ribbons - as the girl hefts her blade up in a two-handed swing.

Kozue hastily flattens herself to the side of the elevator, bringing up her sickle blade up for a desperate parry, which swings the chain mid-air. And it's that same moment that Sayaka's blade catches a link - pinning it to the shaft - distracted from the cleaving threat of Miroku - Sayaka catches her off-guard like she's a rank amateur. "Damnit!"

The sickle blade whips past her hand, and the girl hisses like she's been caught in a simple kitchen knife accident. Leaving her disarmed, wringing a hand that's now dripping blood. Well... as disarmed as someone under the protection of the Giant Swan Child can be. There's something that's almost twisted in her smile as she raises her arms in what looks like surrender. "Let's go back..."

It's like she's just echoing the words. And perhaps it does reach her. Like there's a nostalgic synchronicity to it. And something about her fighting spirit just - fades, "Wouldn't that be great? My brother would love that you know." Her eyes touch upon the sopping blue hair that Sayaka is right now, "She would too." She says in a sotto voce, a little emotional, "You can't fight time though. You can't fight change." She takes a step towards the hole, eyes on Mikoto, "... And you can't fight the way things are. It was always going to end up this way you know?"

She takes another step towards the hole in the floor. The step back allowing both Mikoto and Sayaka cradling Mami's head to come into view - as if she were taking in the full scope of her betrayal - able to witness it now, "It always does." She does not sigh - but the comment is perhaps like one. Like a fact of life. "Sometimes it's a slow thing as you grow up... and sometimes it happens all at once... but no matter what eventually..."

The girl whispers softly, "... it's the end of the line."

Another step and there's nothing left beneath her - gravity is another thing one person can't fight. Right?

The cage suddenly lurches - like a great weight just shoved off it, rattling the whole thing in a gut-wrenching moment as Cassandra dives out the building's window.

One might expect something to happen just after.

Nothing does.

Other than the elevator suddenly giving a distorted 'ping' of letting them know they've reached their floor.