2019-03-10 - TIMELINE 3: The Battle of Ohtori, Part Three

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Title: TIMELINE 3: The Battle of Ohtori, Part Three

Eclipse II Artemis is destroyed and SEARRs takes their final measure.


Mikoto Minagi, Ye-jin Song, Shizuru Fujino, Miyu Greer, Alyssa Searrs, Yumi Ohzora, Mami Tomoe, Steven Universe, Homura Akemi, Nori Ankou


Ohtori Academy - Chairman's Tower

OOC - IC Date:

2019-10-02 - 2014-09-16

<Pose Tracker> Miyu Greer [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> The World is Tumbling Down - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbgqVuNFKTM

The fusillade on Mami turns into a firefight, and though Mami's bullets are far less numerous, they are far more powerful. The single shot she lands in return sends Miyu's shoulder jerking.

Amidst the parted Puella Magi, Miyu reaps, still unable to land a blow on arguably her least physically imposing foe (not named Steven Universe). Flicking away a piece of Eri's whip, she turns to catch the electrical stream emanating from Arondight with her Blade Maria. The weapon is quite conductive, so the benefit of this is unclear, but she keeps it up anyway, and it does seem to help somewhat. Electricity, however, seems to be a good way to go with her, as her motions are jerky as she approaches. Unexpectedly, however, her body just fades out in an instant, and she is close, terribly, horribly close, and Lancelot can hear Blade Maria clank as Miyu's arm braces it, hear the almost inaudible whine of microservos as the android's arm draws backs. This is no weapon of legend like his, and the stories about it are very young. But there are virtues other than virtue. There is prowess in mathematics.

When she is past Lancelot, Miyu's head dips easily to the side to avoid Steven's hurled shield, letting it pass. She's entirely unprepared when it bounces off the wall, however, and it bonks the back of her head hard enough to make one wince--viscerally it's hard to remember that's not bone. Miyu, however, seems unperturbed once she lifts her head. "Capability profile updated," she says. Is it your imagination, or did she sound a bit wry there. Drawing back one leg, she meets Georgia's whirling, increasingly charged-up surge head-on.

Boom. The green energy shrouds both from view for a moment. With a shriek of monofilament blade against sticks, a glinting, smoke-shrouded combat takes place, brutal strikes making frightening music unseen. Then the foes are parted, and Miyu walks from the fading mist and light, singed, smudged, but standing tall.

Even her optical sensors have limits, however, and as they unfilter from the flash, she loses track of Eri for just a moment. Carving the air back and forth with Maria to reduce the time Kyouko will have to react to her motions, she approaches this challenge directly, as she had Georgia's. Reflexively her legs compress and shove, the motion causing her to shift a yard to the right as if Kyouko's vision had gone double, and then suddenly resolved.

But only a yard. Miyu's eyes snap down to the plant matter wrapped around her upper arm, straining, already frayed from the enormous force it just absorbed. Eri is not as heavy as Miyu, and Newton likely had some words for her just now. But it worked. Miyu barely moved. And Kyouko is nothing if not a professional with that spear. She can improvise a bit with her angle at the last second.

The spear drives into Miyu's stomach this time, and though her armor is powerful it cannot deny a weapon so sharp, so large, and so forcefully thrown. It hits her like a bolt from a ballista, ripping through her side. For an instant her silhouette is falling backwards, sparks and bits of transistor spraying lightly from a wedge-shaped chop that has opened where her kidney would have been. Then the spear sinks into the marble blocks, and Miyu catches the haft with her hands as she falls. She holds herself up, half-standing, that way, for just a second.

Then, double-jointed, she makes an impossible motion with her elbow, like a valve being cranked, and swivels herself onto her feet. Her side is open, a deep chunk taken out, severed wires spitting. A human would not be able to stand even if they somehow had the will; there are muscles there that one needs. But Miyu's posture is not affected, only her demeanor. She is serious now. Her eyes are careful. Fuu is coming at her now, so she needs to move. But when she takes a step, she seems unsure quite what will happen.

Her foot lands where she intended. She does not fall.

Miyu's smile doesn't reach her eyes at all, but it is wide and bright.

The way her body twists is like a chopping axe. She surges into and under Fuu's wind-borne slash. She catches the back of Fuu's neck gently with her hand. The soft hand. The one that doesn't hurt. Nearly cheek to cheek, she holds Fuu as the Magic Knight begins to feel what has happened to her.

"What about this one?" she asks Mikoto, with no more heat than if she were picking produce at the market. She does not twist the blade when she pulls it back, but she is not gentle.

As the blade Miroku passes beneath her feet, Miyu's palm taps Mikoto's shoulder gently, and as she reverses her body in the air above Mikoto, she fires straight down with the spinning barrels of her chaingun. The deep, ripping chatter of the weapon traces over and past her towards the wounded Fuu, then stays trained on Steven, trying to pin and crack that shield of his by sheer dint of constant fire. Her deliberate steps during this onslaught take her right up to Kyouko.

Unlike any prior clash, this time Miyu uses her powerful but unarmed hand to keep close and fight, long enough to send a shredding blast of autofire at Eri with her other arm, hoping to keep her out of it this time. Whenever Kyouko can put an end to that, she swaps out for Maria again and spars.

The worst thing about fighting Miyu is her speed. One has to predict more than react, sometimes. Miyu takes every angle that Kyouko's spear cannot be and stabs at it. But just when it seems the fight will reach a climax, she jukes to the side and charges past, to the softer underbelly--the ranged combatants.

A burst of buckshot strikes Miyu in the chest. It does almost no damage, but it slows her, and Homura begins pumping shot after shot into her chest. Miyu's shoulder keeps jerking back, her arm tossed briefly by the buckshot, then her upper thigh. Cumulatively, the damage starts to wear on her. Her spear-wounded side sparks. The slashes and burns from the others have taken some of her humanity; Homura can see some of her teeth showing, and the glinting metal of her jaw. But even as buckshot hammers Miyu, what Homura does not see is /pain/.

Assessment: Mami's guns are more dangerous. Mami is less mobile and heavily wounded. The priority is clear.

"You're in the way," Miyu tells Homura. And like a sawblade she begins to hack, over and over, with no intention to stop, forcing Homura to back away and somehow withstand it if she wishes to remain between her and Mami.

<Pose Tracker> Alyssa Searrs [None] has posed.

"Why would someone who wanted a better world sacrifice a young girl to achieve it? You, your friends--even Miyu!"

"You aren't going to do that thing again are you?! Can't we just talk this out?!"

"You claimed that nobody had died ... but if you call down that fire again - if you scour the island like you threatened - then you might as well have been killing people ever since the bridge was destroyed!"

Alyssa's eyes reopen, her baby blues steely with resolve. She raises her arms to the sky.

"Stop pretending this was inevitable," she chides them in a low murmur, that dreaminess returning to make her words as slow as they are deadly serious. "We tried to avoid the worst case scenario, to minimize casualties. We offered you words and options, but you rejected everything... because you believe in nothing. You don't know what you desire, or what you should be doing. Or else, you would already know why a young girl would be willing to sacrifice herself for the promise of a better world. For what she BELIEVES."

The sky responds immediately, painted yet again with the auroral herald of the destruction to come, as though the girl's hair has been magnified.

"But Miyu and I have conviction... and you have left us with no choice. This is more important than any of us... than all of us, combined."


And then the vision comes, like the sky is really a giant television screen.

The sunny blue sky is replaced with stars.

And among them, a satellite. THE satellite. It is normally roughly an inverted pyramid, with a green orb on the top -- but now it is abruptly surrounded by a pair of interlocking rings, two begemmed moebius strips which have materialized from nothing, the hallmark of the HiME.

Eclipse 1 responds promptly, transmuting from cold steel to bright gold as a number of radial edges flare off of it in all directions, and the tip of the pyramid splits in half, becoming the sides of a cannon, one powered by the orb.

Power comes from many places and manifests in many forms, but few are more spectacular than the fury of Artemis. It takes several long seconds for the charge to build, crackling hungrily, gathering in on itself, compressing, refining...



At first it's just a speck, a smear of light, a falling star distorting the magnified vision in the sky until it fizzles and vanishes, leaving only the true sky behind. The aurora intensifies to greet its source, which punches through the highest clouds without noticing they're there, surely the same fate of anything or anyone else who gets in its path.

The golden beam pours downwards, directly above -- STRAIGHT at the Chairman's Tower. Its path of destruction is surely wide enough to include much of the rest of the school as well. It is quite possible that there will be no survivors.

Guided by the other magical girls to the edge of the school grounds, the students and staff have been kept orderly, efficient, and quiet. They may wear different colored uniforms, but they're united in their purpose...

...and now in their death.

Ohtori, Infinity, Juuban... thousands of eyes gaze upwards in wonder and horror at the gorgeous sight of their oncoming demise. And here in the tower, one pair of eyes gazes sadly at another.

BGM: It's Only The Fairy Tale https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFqKHgd0eB0

Alyssa's lips shape final words for Miyu, but the sound is lost within a maze of tortured air beginning to explode and implode at the same time.


<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

There's three sources of light illuminating the tableau that is Ohtori.

One, of course, is the sun. Bright as it ever was, it bears celestial witness to the battle below. A second is the many blazing fires, spread wide from many sources to discourage the forces of the Golden Age. Many warships in particular are burning, courtesy of the recent naval battle. The third, unfortunately, is that golden light that floods the skies, shining down on Ohtori Academy's final moments.

For a moment, for an instant, there's silence born from terror. Once was unthinkable, twice was horrifying, and now the promised third has arrived. With no options remaining, silence can be the only answer - and yet one girl answers in three words. Two, a bitter oath; one, a name and command in a single desperate scream.

"Never again. KAGUTSUCHI!"

The wind doesn't howl - it roars, it burns as the Child of fire races back from the shoreline faster than wingbeats alone could carry it. Those flames that form the feathers of Kagutsuchi's wings trail behind it, the phoenix leaving a blazing record of its path through the air as it races toward the Chairman's Tower. Speed born of desperation, of necessity, of throwing caution into the inferno because there's no need for it any more.

They're injured, HiME and Child. Separated from trustworthy allies - for she has so few she can trust, these days - Mai was clipped a few times. Strong and swift as Kagutsuchi might be, the guns of the Golden Age made more than a few marks. Right now, though, those don't matter - nothing matters but getting there in time.

There's a single flap of Kagutsuchi's wings, just before the fiery creature would have crashed into the tower. A single beat, a single wave of burning air that sets a dying flowerbed ablaze by the entryway. Somehow, that one action is enough to completely change their course, sending the pair hurtling straight up the tower's height. It's a swift ascension - one that could have been done anywhere, but Mai had a reason for taking this path.

As the dragon passes the tower's pinnacle, those inside might see Kagutsuchi for a breath - might see Mai clinging to the Child's head for an instant. Scarf trailing behind her, skirts smouldering once more, her gaze trying to catch a glimpse of those within as she passes them. She sees those carrying the will of the Golden Age, bringers of so much turmoil. She sees the Ohtori student council, a pain in the neck for a working-class girl's first year at the school.

Fuu, La Sirene, Georgia, Steven, Kyouko. All of them allies she doesn't know half as well as they probably deserve, met in passing during monster battles or cooking contests or who even knows what.

Homura, the only conspiracy nut she could name to surpass Natsuki Kuga. Mami, an inspiration and rival and occasional friend, all in one irritatingly elegant package. Takeo, a well-meaning goof that's like some weird bacon-obsessed big brother. Eri, the wonderful gardener that's a little like a younger sister to her.

Mikoto. The only one whose gaze Mai tries to catch for that fleeting instant. Her companion, her roommate, her girlfriend, her newfound precious person - the reason Mai guided Kagutsuchi this way. She tries, in that instant, to meet her eyes, to express whatever feelings she can. Deserved words of apology have no time to be spoken, and so a final look will have to do.

The instant is gone, and the pair ascend into the golden aurora. Sight of her friends torn away, Mai can only look into the shining death above her, tears brimming in her eyes as she clings to Kagutsuchi's ruff. "There's just...never enough time, is there? I wanted to see Takumi graduate, to cash in all those promised get-togethers and meals, to properly enjoy being in love. So much I'm going to miss out on...but that must be how she felt, right?" There's an answering croon, and Mai holds tight to the only one she has left to embrace.

"If it's to protect someone I love, then-"

Artemis's golden lightning spears down from heaven, bringing Alyssa's final retribution with it. Long before it can reach the school, though, it finds its mark in Mai and Kagutsuchi. For a heartbeat, the destructive power and the dragon seem to be frozen in time, light scattering from where they meet.

That fraction of time ends, and the full power of Alyssa's Child erupts in a third terrific glory. A cataclysmic explosion erupts in the skies above Ohtori Academy, shining brighter than the heavens - like a second sun, a fourth source of light, was shining there. There was power destined to destroy the Chairman's Tower, to annihilate Alyssa and those fighting against her vision all at once. From the power demonstrated before, perhaps all the school would have been razed in that one fell stroke - but instead, the full measure of its wrath is expended on a single Child.

The air burns bright and clear, the shockwave of the blast having wiped all clouds from the sky. As the light fades, Mai and Kagutsuchi seem to be utterly gone - all that remains in the air is the remnants of a mighty blaze, a scattering of burning golden feathers that begin to fall.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Alias Conrad Coldwood - Burned Bodies https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rh0N-hlIJYU

Miyu asks if she values the Wind Knight, and Mikoto just gives her this measured look, eyes narrowed, brow knit, lips thin - trying to figure out why she is taking strangers hostage.

Perhaps a cannier girl might have made some protest, made the Wind Knight out to be so much more important than she is to her. It does not even cross Mikoto's mind to lie.

Well, perhaps her honesty is its own salvation.

Miyu is interested in hurting Mikoto; Mikoto is HiME.

Mikoto is uninterested in the Wind Knight being hurt, and so there is no more reason to hold her.

It's a very direct, surface-logic sort of thought, and perhaps a robot like Miyu could appreciate its forthright nature. But then - a robot like Miyu is programmed with a better understanding of social games than Mikoto has.

"What about her?" Mikoto asks, unaware, as Miroku bites down a second too late to disable Miyu, and Miyu springs up. A hand taps her shoulder, and perhaps Miyu is too fast to see, but Mikoto reacts on a hair-trigger. She hefts Miroku up, swings it above her as Miyu uses her bruised shoulder so lightly to reposition herself.

It is a blade; it is not designed to deflect bullets. It was never intended to.

She means to score a gash across her while she still has her in her senses.

Of course - there are the bullets. These tear gashes, too. Through luck and happenstance Miroku cleaves a path through the burst which defends her trunk and skull above; her limbs are not so lucky. Little red splatters colour pale skin as a bullet drags just under her elbow, across the back of her wrist, along her upper arm. Even glancing blows at that velocity are something to worry about.

And Miyu is everywhere and she is fast, too fast to match. She sees Homura and too late sees Georgia - and then she sees /Lancelot,/ and at this her face falls so much further. She opens her mouth to cry out and she hears him speak instead.

'Mikoto, Eri. Protect Mai-san.'

"No," Mikoto uses her breath to say instead, pales in the telling, and for those vital moments she is transfixed by his detransformation. She is not denying him, as such; she is denying the reality. Alyssa has saved no-one and she knows he will be hurt so much worse if she cannot do something. Both of them will be. One she cares for so much more than the other; Takeo has always been one of theirs. Takeo, and Eri, and Mai, and Mikoto... and so many afternoons between them rush through her mind as he falls, becomes Takeo again. Friendly quarrels over pizza toppings, the agonising grind of Ohtori homework, karaoke which stretches into the night.

One of them got hurt for her - one of them she hurt. It does sound like her fault. If not for her, they might...

Too late she realises Alyssa is speaking.

Too late she realises ARTEMIS is come.

'...Are you going to press the offensive? Press the advantage you surely see? Or... Are you more concerned with your wounded friends?' 'You don't know what you desire, or what you should be doing.'

Her muscles jolt as she realises the command has been given, a halting shudder-step turn as she tries too late to correct her mistake. She stops herself; it is pointless. Perhaps Alyssa's condemnation is not without merit. In impotence her eyes look to the sky and she thinks of how long it takes, between thunder and flash and lightning crashing to ground.

She looks into the light of death and she does not look away for the fear of it, but she hears Eri's collapse, the sound of sword on marble, and at this she glances to her. It is as if the space behind her eyes has been carved out, a quiet sort of horror. She steps forward, one step, two; she comes aside her and lifts a hand from Miroku's hilt to lay it on her shoulder in that instant, to give some solace to this girl who was part of their unit. Just as she apologised - she cannot quite call it 'family'.

She wonders if she can ever be forgiven.

There is nothing else she can do. Record-scratch her mind registers the roar and her despair is not understated any more. Mikoto's lips shape a word and there is no breath behind them - they have been stolen by a wave of heat.

Gold meets purple and in a snapshot she sees it: lips drawn down, teeth parted for a shuddering breath, brow arced high from what must have been a sharp expression not so long ago. Eyes wide in a way which does not quite comprehend, cannot quite believe. The shock and the fear and the plea and the love which aches, because this is always what Mai has done.

... fighting an Orphan which became too much of an issue - and Mikoto was thrown aside - and she couldn't get up in time - and there was Mai, shields blazing, before the blades of its claws could crash down.

... fighting a Nakewameke made manifest by Eas while they were trying to shop for groceries, and Mikoto was all tangled up in the noodles and Mai charged in and burned them away before she could be consumed.

... fighting a Youma who drained the kindness from their hearts, and Mai embraced her as she struggled with the remainder and took the dark lash upon her back rather than let Mikoto be affected even one more time.

The first person she met here; the one girl she can trust above all others. Mai is saving her again, and God, Mikoto prays, please, no, not Mai, is there no other way, please, there must be a path to his salvation which is not carved from her flesh.

Eri can feel it, the way her fingers twitch and tighten against her, a reflex born from her other hand's white-knuckled grip on her blade. Time is too slow and too fast and perhaps she should have said something - anything. Pleaded or bargained or struggled. The only sound she makes is a strangled little whimper as she tries and fails to breathe.

There are people who matter, to Mikoto - and then there's everyone else.

She would offer them all up to the altar, those thousand-thousand nameless faces, she would drive each one into the abyss herself if only it would save Mai - Mai - Mai. The name beats with her racing heart and she realises her eyes sting because she has not blinked, and perhaps that is why they are dampening. She cannot protect Mai. Mai is protecting her.

'I'm responsible for too much, here. Maybe after this whole Golden Age business is done, after everything goes back to normal...maybe then we can take another stab at a nice date.'

She wanted to show Mai so many more secret climbing places and so many more cats which napped there. She wanted to watch Mai cooking and appreciate the way she had such ease in her space, she could hold a conversation without her hands hesitating for a moment. She wanted to drape over Mai on the lounge and watch her face as much as the movie they were supposed to watch, because it is Mai's reaction to the fiction which is the captivating thing. She wanted to press her lips to Mai's and feel the flutter of her heart. Did you know - Mikoto has never kissed anyone? (She does not remember being resuscitated.)

Mikoto is chiseled in stillness as she stares at the pyre, an explosion to sunder the earth, and there is so much white to her eyes. Perhaps Kagutsuchi was too large to be bisected; she will never know. She knows it is not too large for this. It consumes them both. It consumes Mai. Her heart pounds at its jagged edges and it hurts, it /hurts,/ a quiet moan of 'uh-uhhh' as if she has been lanced through again. But despite Miyu's efforts, she is whole and she is here and Mai is not.

Mai is not.

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

There was nothing satisfying in landing that trickshot, a crafty flick of the wrist banking the shot off a wall. It barely did anything, and that sickening thunk was so inhuman. The boy recalls his implement in time to block a veritable full clip of hot lead slung his way. The boy strains against the onslaught and is visibly fatigued for doing so, but he is so far beneath her caliber, it was the other inquiry that was more interesting.

The shield did not crack, break, or yield. The bullets reflect off harmlessly as if spitwads. It hasn't even so much as discoloration done to it. Quite the artifact it is. Something far more potent than the little boy controlling it.

The gunfire forces the boy into a corner. "We want to live, that is what we know!" he pleas toward Alyssa.

There is a presence now in the air. Difficult to feel at first. A prickle o nthe back of a neck. A distinct stillness in the air before the onrush of a storm. A golden haze. "You can still stop this! No one has to be hurt--" The rest cuts off as the energy gains sound. Far too loud for the little poofy haired boy to be heard.

There is little to do but try to huddle under his shield, for all the good it would do.

A rumble and movement of color gets his attention off to the side. He calls to them but they cannot hear. He reaches for them as thy ascand, but he cannot touch.

The blast comes. In such a beautiful spectrum of yellows and golds and colors so bright they bleed into neverending white. A deafening sound peals, and with what is left to be seen as the light fades, the result is absolute. The tower isn't even so much as scratched. But at what cost. Steven has no idea what emotion to feel right now. THe clashing extremes of the heart render his face black with shock. Happiness for not being obliterated. Sadness at Mai's fate. Anger for what this little golden haired girl did, and fear for the heartless opponent still standing. He is trembling, and he is unsure which emotion dictates it. Whats it one of them, or all of them? Knuckles are bone white from gripping the edge of his shield. "She's gone... because of you," he says quietly.

His eyes search the sky for a sign, andthing besides the smattering of mythical feathers, feeling the air for the last time as they fall.

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

To put herself between a finely honed killing machine and a puella she thinks of too highly for 'killing' to enter the equation, but who is in her mind tactically unimpeachable... Homura intends to. She wants to protect her golden senpai. She runs to interpose herself, and pumps shot after shot toward Miyu, and she-


She falters, her traitorous knees locking.

But treachery is not their true failing. No, every part of Homura is far too loyal to risk dying for Mami Tomoe, however much she might cherish wisdom and cakes and friendship. Her heart lies on a different battlefield. Somewhere across the island she fights to keep civilians safe with pink arrows that once saved Homura.

'You're in the way.'

And Homura tries to get out of it, scrambling in a quick but unplanned reversal -- not quick enough, not against this opponent. Her seeming cowardice costs her dearly. The scythe descends and she's still beneath it, and this time Miyu gets to reap shrieks and injury both on her way to Mami. The girl who meant to be a wall is more like a sliced-up speedbump instead.

The true threat in the room, the one Homura wouldn't raise her gun to, speaks in that soft and dreamlike cadence. Even as she pulls herself up, braids flap against her cheeks in headshaking denial of those words. Homura is sure she knows what she wants, what she should be doing, and her conviction directly opposes theirs.

But the sky still turns to stars, and then it turns to light, terrible deadly light...

She looks Mami's way as everything's painted so close to other girl's color, and Homura's eyes are especially dark under all that yellow brilliance -- round and strained. Then she tilts her head back, her chin up, faces into the descending death with this cheekbitten firmness to her mouth beneath streaming black bangs. One hand on her shield...

Flame intervenes.

Mai and Kagutsuchi thunder up alongside the tower, and defiance screams in the wind around them -- it roars in the air. Homura's mouth falls open, and her hand falls to her side.

All that power detonates overhead, and when it is over they are all safe... all except for...

"She... they..." It's a whisper, a wondering one. Homura's legs give out all at once and she goes to her knees. "They saved us," she says, and what shakes her voice is relief, not grief or horror. Somewhere across the island Madoka still lives, and in this moment that is all Homura finds she can care about.

Not far from her Mikoto makes a sound of grief and Homura hears it, and shivers from horrible familiarity. She does not look at her friend. They are so alike, in this moment, and so very opposite as well.

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

Still burned--shoulder still /burning/ from the great impact of the ion cannon, the blue charge that ruined what control Mami had left over her other arm, Mami watches the battle ahead carefully. One shot gets through--one large shot, to be sure--and Mami will have to take that for what it is, instead of think ahead to the shot after next that may or may not happen at all. It is only thanks to her long experience with Witches that the wrongness of Miyu's too-graceful movements does not bother her; she is used to things that do not move as living things should, that point and turn and dance at angles strange to the human mind.

Hacking, and hacking--Mami sees it; she cannot help but see it, barely mobile as she is--as Miyu cuts Homura, cuts /through/ the space where she is. Her heart is gripped by an icy chill that's distinct from injury and chill of more conventional means. And there--there it is. Homura is shooting... and her knees lock. She scrambles, and Mami sees it. But what Mami thinks cannot be said, for now.

...Because in that spare, too-slow space, she pushes back, throwing all her weight backward and falling directly back into the elevator from which she came.

Miyu keeps coming; she is done with Homura by now, and Mami, hitting the floor hard enough that stars linger in her vision, is in her path. In one bright instant, she suddenly holds a rifle, lifts it--

There's a gunshot that echoes from the elevator--but in the next moment, anyone who looks will see that Mami didn't point it at Miyu--but straight up.

The elevator /thunders/ downward, taking the golden Puella Magi out of her opponent's reach with all the speed of gravity.

And the light comes...

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

A nervous laugh - laced with anxious panic, "What part of Disneyland is like this?" The girl's mind grasps for an attraction back from memories when she was so tiny she could barely ride anything - wondering if perhaps they'd added a shooting adventure through a military invasion up the tallest tower to fight an unstoppable overlord.

Then again she can actually imagine Kyouko enjoying that - both as an attraction and real life.

However - it's strange, how the girl's casual nature was causing her to feel a bit calmer too. Like this might somehow turn out in their favor after all. That after this they might all go celebrate at a food stand for their accomplishments.

That it all might be worth it. Like they could move on - and recover what they've lost - and heal.

However Miyu Greer - no matter how much damage they inflict - she just doesn't stop. Eri Shimanouchi pales as her whip finally snaps - and Miyu makes that impossible motion.

And catches the Magic Knight of Wind. "Does she not even feel pain?" The girl blanches even further - and drops her whip - it vanishing in a hail of sparkles. She starts to run up to Miyu to help out Kyouko - tugging another out of her soul gem mid-stride.

However then she sees the barrel of the gun pointed her way. Despite her being within sparring distance of the other Puella Magi. The girl suddenly drops to the floor just as a hail of chaingun fire takes her, and does a handstand spring backwards into a leap. When she hits the ground, she staggers in her misstep - dripping red.

There are Homura's shotgun blasts - and then she sees the blade transform and- "No - please!"

This is horrible. Homura and Mami are both in the way - and they're starting to drop left and right. The early ease Kyouko made her feel is dripping away.

And then a sword is thrown her way. Eri recognizes Arondight in mid-air. And she frantically tries to catch it, almost missing it as it bounces from hand to hand. Then just looks at Lancelot - then at the sword. She can understand the emotion with which it was sent but - "How am I supposed to protect Mai with this?" A whip wielder, she'd never even held a sword. How do you protect a girl who is a dragon with a sword? She tries to shift it to her other hand.

And that is when Alyssa SEARRS makes her proclamation. The sky is full of stars - and death hangs over them. It glows gold with celestial fury. "You... you wouldn't..." She stammers. She already did. As everything begins to glow brightly. She's already seen the forest. She knows there's no escaping this - unless Homura were already at work - and then she wouldn't have the magic to get all of them at safe distance.

There's nothing to be done by acting. The sword hits the ground. And Eri Shimanouchi slumps down to follow it, eyes full of tears.

It wasn't supposed to be like this. She regrets every thoughtless word she said to Mikoto on how to treat this. She feels a hand on her shoulder. Her eyes glassy look up as her chin lifts, and she simply mouths the words - 'I'm sorry.' At the girl through a haze of destructive gold.

If she had time she'd want to hug everyone goodbye. If she had time she'd tell everyone how much she loves them. How glad she was that she met them. How... if nothing else, she didn't have to die alone.

If she had time.

And then there's a flap of ardent wings. The familiar sound of Kagutsuchi. Distantly she feels a stab of regret that Mai will be caught up in this too.

She doesn't know how right she is.

It only vaguely dawns on her when the girl starts to speak, "Mai- please-" That it's not her intention to simply get caught in this, but to make herself a substitute. The girl she'd regarded as her surrogate big sister.

It's only right for a big sister to take responsibility isn't it?

She would never want it to be like this. The aurora grows bright as golden lightning spears down and Eri shuts her eyes. There is no pain other than the fingers spasming in her shoulder.

When her eyes open, there is only a feather fluttering through the air, and her eyes grow wide, before she starts to sob anew. Mai's life for everyone else's. Her rational mind tells her it is the most logical kind of sacrifice. She still cannot, will not, comprehend the idea that it's fair. That it's right, sacrificing the one for the many. The wild shifts in emotion have done her in.

She can only cling to Mikoto and crying hiccuping in her ugly grief.

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene des Lentilles [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"Then I suppose," la Sirene says quietly to Kasagami as her spell fires, "that I will never be great; of course, you could be wrong--" She gazes at Kasagami, her hand still raised in that mystic gesture. Her right hand threatens to come up - which means that it ends up being perfectly situated to catch the blown kiss from Kasagami, before she vaults from the tower.

La Sirene's cheeks color slightly.

But she can't focus here. Kasagami kept her from being shredded into wet red lettuce by that woman, that creature, MIYU. She, in turn, kept Kasagami from facilitating them. Now that Kasagami flees, it is time for - la Sirene struggles through the pain, turning towards... Towards Alyssa as she speaks.

La Sirene breathes steadily, heavily. She can't find anything to say in reply. Her face tightens. She is screwing her courage up to full sail again, tattered though it may be. She takes a deep breath--

A light gleams. La Sirene looks upwards with a dreadful portent. A dragon rises to meet the incoming ray of death-- no, it has -- Tokiha on it? She blinks once. WHen her eyes open the light has come, and so too has Mai Tokiha.

Horrible feelings flood into her. Relief. Gratitude. Guilt. Her ears are ringing. She says nothing, not right now.

<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed. Past clouds, past sky, past the place where blue begins to turn to black and the stars gleam outward forever, the satellite looms. But its brilliant gold is not the only light in the heavens now. There are two--

Two from below, not above, rising toward the heavens. Glowing purple and red, light erupts higher, higher, higher...



A masked girl jumps off a balcony. She does not hit the ground.


What from a long distance would seem to be lights--drowned out by the all-consuming gold of Artemis's power--closer to Eclipse 1 are something more. Like a devil rising, they fly, and they are not just light--they are /auras/. The mask of the Crimson Rook stares up, up, upward towards the great satellite, and she is not alone. A young woman with long brown hair and a black suit is nearby, the source of the violet to her red, and on--No, they are both standing on hard, cold metal, it seems.

Into the blackness of space flies a huge and terrible mechanical horror, plated in violet metal of unknown origin. It has the lower body of a great serpent, smooth and broad where it narrows to a tail with a wicked golden hook, long behind--but it /broadens/ upward, and the two girls stand on two of its six serpent-heads at the end of six serpent-necks. Gleaming yellow eyes are light themselves; the heads are long, armored, and broad, its maws open hungrily, and each has a red, red mouth and terrible fangs.

But they are not alone, facing Artemis's golden glow, a sunlight that they could hold... If things were different. There is a spirit waiting--the spirit of Artemis, Child of Alyssa Searrs...

And she does not simply wait.

Tiny blurs erupt from its surface as the green glint of its orb grows righter, as the golden gleam of the satellite still crackles and steams in the aftermath of its latest strike. Those blurs quickly become more; with astonishing speed, the missiles, backlit by blue flame, crash towards the two on approach. Each is tiny, golden itself, emblazoned with the same red symbol as on the Orphans Alyssa controlled. But in response, a sixfold harmony of mechanical voices /roars/ in a way that might be deafening, were there air beyond its aura.

Kiyohime's maws open, not as one but as many, spitting a horrific acid that detonates most of the first volley outright, each exploding in scathing gold--as another, and another--and the heads on which the two girls stand shift, bringing the melee weapons of the two to bear in great slashing strokes on more. The approach towards the satellite for a few moments is drowned out in golden explosions--but soon...

Soon, "...It's your cue, isn't it?" the brown-haired girl asks, glancing to the masked warrior beside her. "By all means, show us what you can do. We'll catch you."

The Oni-masked girl with the long black hair grins as she stares up towards the massive golden satellite that looms above even further in the sky. Her boots are planted firmly on the absurdly large hydra Child that serves as their ticket up to the very heavens themselves to deal with the destructive problem above.

"...All of that power available in one person. It really is beautiful. A guillotine above Ohtori Academy's head."

Her good eye narrows, and she tosses a quick nod to the her companion. "Well, I would hate to dissappoint after such a glorious ride upon this demonic steed! Allow me to show you what a /KING/ can do!" A laugh belts its way out of the boisterous warrior. She reaches down for a moment, rubbing the head of the great Child that has been their ride.

"Be good for your Mistress, huh?" She whispers to the strange HiME's beast as the crimson glow about her intensifies around her. Rolling her shoulders, bending her knees, Kasagami erupts like a rocket from the hydra-head she was just perched on!

The Araki girl is a screaming missile, a shooting dark crimson star into the sky as she rockets further and futher towards the great satellite she's come to help destroy. Gaze slitting, her nodachi gripped with trembling fingers, she sucks in a breath to firm her resolve as she approaches terminal velocity.

Lasers crash outward next, golden and searing. The great hydra-Child Kiyohime has black burns in her plates where missiles came close, where a laser shoots at her as she rushes forward, and Kasagami Araki shoots past another barrage, a smaller target as both continue forward. The young woman riding atop Kiyohime is small, in the face of them, but she lifts her strange red naginata. She smiles, and lashes outward--and her blade becomes a chain, the strange metal deflecting lasers in a rush that resemble's cat's-cradle. Some get through; some move past, or shudder into her Child, and one slams into her side--

It's more a smirk than a smile.

The inverted pyramid with it's ringed mobius first catches Kasagami's eye. Spinning upside down, she lands upon the glowing gemmed strip. Turning on the heels of her boots, she begins to charge along the ring, the tip of her nodachi slashing in front of her as her footfalls are feather soft along the surface. Each strike is a blurr of motion, the young woman spinning and turning as she runs to build more momentum. Spin, strike, rush. Turn, slice. Her wandering, cutting blade is everywhere along that ring, Kasagami trailing little images of her slashing weapon as she waltzes amongst the metal of the satellite-Child that cut as real as her own beautiful, precise attacks.

A terrible electric field of brilliant light begins to exude from Artemis--the strips themselves--and Eclipse 1, crackling out to impact its assailants, all-encompassing, as it begins to shift--towards the coming opponent...

But it's too late for that. With another six-at-once roar, Kiyohime surges forth, and Shizuru Fujino leaps up from her perch, swinging her Element forward, the bladed end of her chain rocketing for the green orb atop the massive orbital Child.

But Kiyohime comes closer, snakes through the golden aura even as its plates are wreathed in crackling golden light. Closer, closer--until Kiyohime wraps herself around the great bulk of the central part of the satellite. As smoothly as around any temple bell, violet metal coils enshroud Eclipse 1, lashing tail and sinuous necks. The cuts in the great mobius-rings around the satellite begin to leak light, more brightly, more urgently--

And there is a deep and terrible /crunch/ that does not echo through the emptiness of space. Kiyohime's coils hold the buckling satellite as it crumples--and suddenly, those rings /shatter/.

The bursts of beautiful, terrible, sparkling green light envelop everything. The great serpent, suddenly surging downward, two figures pulled with it, is drowned out in vision by the blinding l i g h t...

COMBAT: Shizuru Fujino transforms into Shizuru and Kiyohime!

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

Miyu stands before the empty elevator shaft, Maria at the ready. Maybe it's just anthropomorphization, but she seems disappointed, the way she stares at it for a moment. As she turns away, however, a golden light breaks, and Miyu's smile breaks with it.

There is an eye of the storm now. The fate of all fighting depends utterly on what happens above; even a machine cannot help but watch, though she keeps her blade at the ready. She is content.

And then that unwanted god rears his burning head, and ruins everything. For a little longer, anyway. A big sacrifice for a small reprieve. But then things get much, much worse. Miyu is an unsentimental being, unless it has to do with Alyssa, but this has to do with Alyssa, and two natures war within her. She sets both aside. Whatever else may be true, /she is needed/.

Miyu's heels bark orange energy, blasting her forward away from the elevator, and through her remaining opponents. With quick side-to-side bounds she crosses the vast platform, skimming to a stop on her feet, then her knees. By the time she reaches Alyssa, over by the railing, she bumps her as gently as an angel's kiss.

One arm beneath the knees, one beneath the shoulders. One little golden scoop of soft-serve, coming up. Kneeling, Miyu cradles her mistress, so sorely expended.

"Ojou-sama," she says, though there is a little feedback in her voice, from assorted damage. "Do not worry. Rest as long as you like." Her voice is placid, happy at their closeness. "The ancient designs are not so easily diverted... so rest, and do not rush." Her voice grows icy. "Because I am here."

It is a daring promise even for Miyu, perhaps too much so. Most of her enemies are either gravely wounded, emotionally broken, or unable to stand at all, but Miyu's systems are overburdened, and some of the damage is too extensive to be self-repaired. But there is nothing Miyu will not promise her only friend.

And Maria is keen, yet. Maria feels sharper than ever.

<Pose Tracker> Alyssa Searrs [None] has posed.

Alyssa Searrs stares in shock at another young girl's sacrifice for what she believes in, and then, gradually, something like respect comes into her little face. It enters through her lips, which press into a firm line with just the smallest wobble to it, and exits through her eyes, which are always grave but now carry something else as well.

A terrible understanding of what she has done.

And then they are -- she is -- distracted. She toddles towards the balcony railing, and looks out through its bars at the sky (she's too short to lean on the top). Her tiny hands grip two of them, knuckles whitening, until...

The green light of a dying soul sparkles above.

And the golden light goes out of Alyssa Searrs.

It's not like a candle. It's RIPPED from her, the initial glow in highly accelerated reverse. Her tiny body contorts in agony, and a tortured scream erupts from her that's nothing at all like the sweet notes of any Golden Angel. Pain, In One Movement. Physical. Emotional, too. Nobody makes that noise when the rest of them hurts but not their heart.

Without that lambent glow pouring off of her she seems even smaller than usual, just a tiny kid in an almost funereal gown. With the backdrop of flaming tanks and battleships burning behind her, and Kagutsuchi's remains burning above her, her simple presence in this place, at this time, seems wrong, every bit as wrong as it is for the students below and the boys and girls here on the balcony with her.

Crimson Rook, Black Bishop... Golden Queen.

Such a very small person given such a very large burden. And not even her own destiny.

Now she's unable to even support her own weight, and she sees no future at all, nothing bright, only a darkness hungry to claim her. It rises, engulfing her awareness. At least it makes the pain stop. But it means, that she can't see her. That she can't see


She falls backwards, limply, like a puppet whose strings have been cut.

She can't see Miyu... can she hear her?

Can she feel her?

It's only the fairy tale we believe.

Let's tell ourselves the answer is yes.

<Pose Tracker> White Queen [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Breath of Wings - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcJjiRyAetg

There is another sound, amidst the silence and choking grief. After the detonation, after the bursts of gunfire and clash of weapons still. The rhythmic chopping of a helicopter sounds like distant gunfire as it ascends outside the spire of the Chairman's Tower, blades vibrating with the tell-tale noise of it's approach. The dark eyes of its single passenger had looked skyward. First, wide in fear at the descending column of light. Then stretching further still in the fiery aftermath.

Now they are narrowed into furious slits. The helicopter passes above the massive balcony of the student council chambers, circles above like a vulture before it disgorges its payload onto the white tiles that stretch out over the school far below. The White Queen, agent of SEARRS, has arrived once again. She is not as immaculate as she once was-slashes and tears from earlier conflicts mar her scarlet dress, and bruises mar her skin-but he has found her way to her quarry once again. The golden domino that covers her face still reflects the light brilliantly as she takes long strides across the balcony, and the dark eyes behind leveled on the two figures huddled there.

"Enough." Her voice is a hoarse whisper. The next words come with more authority: "You're done. You're useless." She slows as she draws closer, straightens her back with authority and speaks:

"Code Delta 23, Hierarch, remote priority."

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

"Ojou-sama," Miyu echoes softly, forlorn. Alyssa feels even smaller when she's not moving, when those vast blue eyes of hers aren't open and wondering at the world. Humans are so resilient, especially young ones. But this was so much...

Lifting her hand, Miyu reaches gently to shift a blonde lock of hair from the angel's face. Before she can touch it, however, the sputtering wind from helicopter blades blasts that lock aside. Miyu's eyes narrow as her pale hair whips about her face. "White Queen," Miyu greets, so coldly as to be openly hostile. "Be advised that I am programmed with nearly unrestricted discretion with regard to a six-meter radius around the person of Alyssa Sea--"

Ye-jin's words effect an immediate change in the android. Her eyes shoot wide open, blanking. Her arms loosen slightly on Alyssa. Her ready posture relaxes. After a moment, her mouth moves in speech--but it is not her voice that comes out.

"Ye-jin Song," the voice of an old man grumbles grandly. It's a voice of educated enunciation but little excess of sentiment. "Primary doctrine has failed. Eclipse One is destroyed, and consequently Valkyrie One-Forty-Three is hereby declassified as a SEARRS asset, and subject to standard decommissioning procedure." Miyu's face is expressionless as she speaks.

"Valkyrie One-Forty-Three's Multiple Intelligential Unit's has a... software incompatibility with secondary doctrine. I trust that a daughter--and grand-daughter--of the august Song family will take the proper initiative in resolving all of these issues at one blow." Miyu smiles with sickening sweetness up at Ye-Jin.

Miyu's face briefly seizes up, then slackens. "Ah," she says distantly, in her own voice again. Her body does not so much as twitch; her spinal nervous column is disabled. It is not clear if she was cognizant of what she was saying just now, but there is a heavy resignation in her face, and she stares at Alyssa unblinkingly.


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

be calm be calm be calm be calm

"Grandpa!" Asks a tiny Ye-jin Song, hanging from the side of the vast mountain of her grandfather's executive chair. "Are you going to die?" Her eyes are wide and voice is filled with concern. "What a question! You know, everyone dies, sometime."

"Don't!" Concern fills her voice.

"I can't-" He begins with a laugh.

"Promise you won't!"

"Haa--fine. I promise. But you have to too"

be calm be calm be calm be calm

An older, nervous Ye-jin Song stands in front of a pair of glass doors. Beyond, techno-magical equipment buzzes and clicks. There are tubes and scalpels, vials and needles, meters and guides and somber men in labcoats.

"What if it doesn't work?" She asks the old man beside her.

"Remember our promise?" Says Sang-min Song, "With this power-we can be together forever. We could have our own Golden Age, where anything is possible." His hands take her shoulders. "You're everything I hoped for. I know you're strong enough to do this."

be calm be calm be calm be calm

Ye-jin Song, the White Queen, stares down at the face of Miyu Greer. Her voice is thin, raising as if to give objection to her orders. Her protests die on her lips when the voice behind Miyu Greer reference to the hallowed Song family. Her protests die on her lips. She swallows. Her fingers clench.

"I understand."

A moment passes, and she speaks again. "Code Omega 1, Abaddon."

Miyu's eyes change. They begin to glow a pale blue, and the same light begins to leak through her chest, through bullet holes and injures. Something is happening to Miyu Greer.

And Ye-jin screams. She shrieks in fury, her voice raw and uncontrolled, a balled fist smashing into the railing beside the mechanical girl's head. And again. And again. It does not satisfy her. It does not damped her rage.

BGM Change: MAYBE SOMETHING'S WRONG - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SW-fPm7bpUo

When she turns back to the assembled magical girls her eyes, in strikingly similar fashion to Alyssa's hair, radiate with energy.

"You ruined everything. Youyou garbage. This world is mine. This world is OURS. Not yours-"

Black smoke boils across the edge of the balcony. Thick, acrid black clouds wash across white marble like a tidal wave. The thing that comes with them does not break tiles or shatter concrete, does not burrow or fly, but seems to emerge from the mass of acrid fog as if rising from the waters of some vast, dark ocean.

The head comes first, and the huge yellow lenses that make up it's eyes. It's shaped like an ox, vaguely, two gigantic horns jutting from the head. It has shoulders too, and arms, a massive upper body that expands to fill the space at the end of the expansive balcony. It is a machine of dark bronze and tarnished gold, more mechanical than an 'organic' Child. Like Artemis, people built this. Love-and rage-power it.

"Not yours, SO JUST DIE!"

Yama Delta, the King of Hell, howls. A cacophony of terrible noise rebounds across the tower as it's gigantic fists rise skyward. When they come down, they do so with incredible force. Nothing will be spared.

COMBAT: White Queen transforms into Ye-jin and Yama!
COMBAT: White Queen has fully healed herself. She is now ready to take on 6 opponents!
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song has used Dead Terror on Homura Akemi.
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song has used Dead Terror on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song has used Dead Terror on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song has used Dead Terror on La Sirene des Lentilles.
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song has used Dead Terror on Yumi Ohzora.
COMBAT: Homura Akemi cleanly braces 0 Fatigue damage from Ye-jin Song's Dead Terror, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora perfectly braces 0 Fatigue damage from Ye-jin Song's Dead Terror, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Brace!  Yumi Ohzora's Block and Parry abilities activate!  
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi braces 0 Fatigue damage from Ye-jin Song's Dead Terror, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Steven Universe braces 0 Fatigue damage from Ye-jin Song's Dead Terror, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Steven Universe's Block and Parry abilities activate!  Steven Universe is Taunted!  
COMBAT: La Sirene des Lentilles braces 0 Fatigue damage from Ye-jin Song's Dead Terror, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  La Sirene des Lentilles's Block and Parry abilities activate!  La Sirene des Lentilles is Taunted!  

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

It may seem there is a moment to take a breath, consider options. The world hangs still in this one moment, as though history was at a crossroads, and was choosing its path. "It is bad enough that someone had to bear the brunt of everyone else ,but even on death is too many! What possible reason could you have to do all this? Some /mysterious/ means I take it? What is it with badguys doing mysterious things? They always turn out bad!"

Tears at this point have started to drip, but Steven is oblivious to them, his voice isnt cracking or choked. As if some kind of compromise with his emotions gave up the choking, the flushing, the puffiness to the other emotions swirling around in his heart right now. Something more happens off the tower. A pair of colored pinpricks by the time he sees them, but one of the colors is very familiar. "What is...?" It was difficult to pay attention to Alyssa and Miyu right now, though the former seems jsut as curious, and the later waiting on someone else to make a move, to implant that arm-blade in between someone's ribs.

A break in the moment comes at the flash of an almost minty green light that washes downward, just before it an object appearing to detonate and be awash in color. The Gem Child has to civer his eyes to protect himself. But as the light fades, a pained, emotional scream rings out And when Steven turns to see, the golden haired child lay in her protector's arms, unmoving. "What..." It takes a moment for things to click. He has seen it before, when that great being was splayed open at the refinery. A similar reaction from the HiME...? THat waould mean that shes... "Oh." For the little girl who nearly murdered everyone at the school, it was hard to be sad for her.

...Yet sadness is there. Where it came from was difficult to determine. Perhaps the passing of anyone is just an emotion evoking thing. Or more likely, she could have been helped still. Somehow. Some way.

A helicopter signals that others are interested in the tower and the events playing inside. "H-Heads up...!" The occupant makes themselves known, a familiar face-- or rather, a familiar lack-of-a-face. A golden mask. An angered sigh escapes the boy, even as he struggles to return his breathing to normal. He has had enough of this lady.

She utters a command, and the android Miyu changes immediately, beginning to speak in a different voice. What is said is disturbing, as if they are all treated as numbers. Another command is spoken. "W-What did you do to her?" Steven asks apprehensively. And yet the woman blames them. Then /it/ comes.

Much like the great beasts, Children, as they are called. A creature of great proportions. As if from the river Styx itself, roiling darkness like smoke and water, it rises to the call of its partner. The boy just looks up at it. How can he fight something that big?! Everyone else here has actual weapons and energy attacks and spells and stuff... ... That doesn't mean he cannot try, despite being so very, very tired and hurt. He jsut wants it all to be over. The sound of the creature even terrifies him. A call to join those that have passed. In the msot gruesome ways possible. But even scared, he won't stand down and just take this. "We have bested you before! Doesn't matter what you have at your side, we can do it if wr work together! You don't stand a chance!" he yells, though within he doubts his own words...

Could they do it? He wants to believe.

The boy brings up a pink shield, and prepares for the worst.

COMBAT: Steven Universe has used AND STEVEN! on Ye-jin Song.
COMBAT: Steven Universe has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song braces 0 Fatigue damage from Steven Universe's AND STEVEN!, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Steven Universe is Psyched!  Ye-jin Song's Parry ability activates!  

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed. The skies cycle through an unnatural glory of sunset colors. Alyssa's gold, and the vivid fire of Mai and Kagutsuchi's sacrificial rebuttal; then purple and red ascend... Homura recognizes Rook and Bishop both, another shiver running through her relief which Kiyohime's dread form only amplifies.

Violet eyes are wide indeed, uptilted to watch two girls and a hydra do battle with a satellite.

She's never seen anything like it, and at this stage in her existence Homura Akemi has seen a great many things. "H-how..." falls out of her mouth as nodachi cleaves space-metal, "...is that..." as light gathers again, and then, "...possible?" when those purple coils crumple their prey. But it is, and in the end Homura has had to assimilate stranger. It's odd to be thankful to the masked girls who helped terrorize them so recently; Homura personally experienced some small fraction of the power in that naginata... A shake of her head, a twist of her mouth-- --and a startled-cat flinch as Miyu Greer tears into motion through the assembled.

On an intellectual level Homura does not understand what transpires between silver and gold. Their bond is their own, and complicated by things beyond a time puella's singleminded ken. On another... her heart hears and knows Alyssa's scream, just like it heard and knew Mikoto's sob. Homura bites her bottom lip till it's whiter than her stained henshin coat.

The whump-whump-whump of a helicopter rotor bludgeoning air interrupts, then -- the White Queen makes her entrance, all her imperiousness unimpeded by her wounds. Miyu passes cold words which are not hers, and Homura glances around to the others. All this talk of doctrines and decommissioning...

The advent of a dark cloud tide and the great and terrible Hell-King somehow make more sense to Homura. She claps both hands over her ears and scrunches her face up, and her hair blows out behind her from the force of that howl -- her glasses fly off and she has to grab for them and slap them back on her face, and they land there crooked.

Then she's reaching for her shield with another hard twist of her mouth--

--to blink back into existence meters away from where she was and in full motion, braids bouncing as she runs. An emptied Desert Eagle falls from her hands and before it can hit the Tower's floor, eight .44 Magnum rounds whiz out of nothingness at Yama Delta. Each was aimed with teeth-gritting care by a girl only slightly less greyscale than her frozen surroundings.

Mami got out, no thanks to Homura. With a twinge she wonders, is her senpai on the way to Madoka's side? And Homura wants that herself, instead, but... Her best defense is a good offense. "No! We haven't come this far just to give up now!" She hasn't come this far, at such cost... Some of the awful things Homura feels sneak into the shout and make her voice ragged.

COMBAT: Homura Akemi has used Bullet Time on Ye-jin Song.
COMBAT: Homura Akemi has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song braces 12 Fatigue damage from Homura Akemi's Bullet Time, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Ye-jin Song's Parry ability activates!  

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed. "Ma..i..." Finally Mikoto's tongue moves at the same time as her lips in conjunction with her breath and there is so much coordination to a word. "... Mai..." As the tone shifts from disbelief to grief. And finally a hitch-drag as her breath draws in, and her voice shatters against a name, brittle as black glass: "MAIII--!"

There is nothing but flame and feathers.

There is more than flame and feathers.

Past feathers soars purple and red and past feathers glitters green and at first Mikoto looks and she does not see it at all. She is clung to and she presses Eri into her side with hand on shoulder and she does not feel it at all. The pink boy names fault and Homura names salvation and she does not hear it at all.

It is only another scream - a scream which brings some awareness to her haggard stare. Light dragged out as if by three-three-three snapping jaws, and perhaps she can only see it because she is in front of her, by the railing.

Certainly her face does not move, and only sluggishly do her eyes move down from sky to closer suffering. Miyu is come. Sounds carve through the air chop-chop-chop, and the air whips around them and Mikoto barely blinks as her braids batter her face.

The White Queen steps into view and condemns them and Mikoto's face will not shift from its horror for this. The two of them are worse than nothing, and there is no shred of emotion she can summon for them. Perhaps, on the outside, it might look as though she is stricken by the revelation which pours unwillingly from Miyu's mouth.

Is it kinder to think that way?

Oh, she has no kindness for them.

None at all.

Her hearthfire is extinguished and there is blood in the ashes.

Something is happening to Miyu Greer and Mikoto does not care. The White Queen - no, her classmate Ye-jin screams and Mikoto does not care. She punches the railing and Mikoto does not care.

Ye-jin's eyes are glowing and there is no recognition in Mikoto's fellow gold at all.

"Mai," she whispers, instead.

The world...

There is smoke and it lances at her nostrils; they twitch. A Child rises and Mikoto's head turns, fractionally, to see.


Shoulders, and arms, and black, black smoke... the gold is right, perhaps, if darker, but it lacks imperial colouring. It is metal true. Horns about the head instead of spikes which lance ground and sky. Fingers for spires.

Darkness given and darkness taken, one stares unblinking at the other.

These fists are not in gauntlets as they crash down. The ground shudders and Mikoto presses Eri into her body to support her and her feet know how to keep their footing without her input at all. "... oh," she says, distant. "We're fighting..."

Her eyes track, slowly, down to the girl at her feet. She is wracked; she is wrecked. Yes, Eri - it's only right.

Mikoto crouches down, and shrugs Eri across a shoulder. It is an inelegant carry; she has much to bear. She leaps to the far side of the room, places her down, not so far from the girl with orange hair. Mikoto does not look at her. That hair colour hurts.

Her lips shape words, sentences, and they are old things, and they don't matter any more. She's good at danger; she can handle this; reassurances given to a corpse. She cannot summon the will to breathe through them. Her hand comes up to press against Eri's cheek, and perhaps it is enough.

Eri is alive and perhaps it is enough.

It isn't - it isn't - it isn't.

Mikoto stagger-steps away so she is not a target, and she looks up at Yama Delta and she tries to summon the ability to care.

"Mai," she whispers, instead.

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used where is she on Mikoto Minagi. COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has finished attacking. COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi accepts Mikoto Minagi's where is she, taking 0 Fatigue damage! Mikoto Minagi is Quipped!

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Behind, in the elevator shaft, a muffled sound rings out--not the terrible crash of the car hitting the ground and lower, but something caught, something saved. But...

...Mami doeesn't re-emerge from the broken-open doors. The car does not rise back.

Someone else finishes dragging herself up, gloved green fingers clinging to the floor and then that hand /pulling/ upward, and Yumi Ohzora swings her staff up first, and then pulls herself the rest of the way up, gritting her teeth. The girl in black is still wounded; she's bruised, and battered, and burned, and was just as certain of death as everyone else in the face of that terrible golden light. But this...? This, here? Yumi is too exhausted to jump at the gunshots, though she is shocked by Homura's sudden appearance. She swallows, hard, a lump in her throat as she stares towards the great monster from the smoke, the girl who just pulled back from slamming her fist over and over again into Miyu--terrifying Miyu's--face.

"Your world," she repeats. "...Yours."

This is when she spots Mikoto, carrying Eri, and this is when the ground at her feet rocks once again and she stumbles, the point of her staff hitting the ground all that keeps her from tumbling over. Mikoto stagger-steps away...

"Mikoto-chan," she says, and rushes forward, wincing despite it, moves to catch her from behind. "Hey," she says, and then looks up to Ye-jin, filled with a horrific rage.

"...No," she says, and it is not some grim demand, it is not a stoic certainty--Yumi's voice is thin, and she is out of breath. But she is sure, anyway.

"...What's your claim? Why is it yours? What grants it to you?"

"It's /not/," she insists, and then grits her teeth, breathing in--

"Let your rage burn within--"

She doesn't offer encouragement--she just hangs onto Mikoto, for now, and looks to the great beast of Hell before them. And her curse moves like a shadow, to sap and decay and diminish.

COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora has used Hollow Curse on Ye-jin Song.
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song braces 4 Fatigue damage from Yumi Ohzora's Hollow Curse, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Ye-jin Song's Parry ability activates!  Exhausted applied to Ye-jin Song!  

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene des Lentilles [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Several things happen in swift succession. The light goes out of Alyssa. Miyu approaches her, and Ye-jin arrives on helicopter. Miyu speaks to her-- then, she goes still. Ye-jin arrives. Ye-jin -

Ye-jin -

La Sirene has a tendency to go into flights of fancy but at moments like this the mind is very focused. She feels her body tighten as the enormous thing appears, and as it slams its fists she wonders bleakly within herself: How many more of these are there?

The scream, the pain, the massive entity. It rings through la Sirene. She can hear it fine despite the pain in her ears. She raises her hands to her face again, feeling herself shake and jingle within.

I feel like broken glass, she thinks, before others move into action. Little Steven, brave; tall Yumi, denying. La Sirene does not know if she can dispute these claims. She closes her eyes for a moment; if she dies before she opens them, she thinks, that is fine.

When she opens them again she feels a little steadier, if no less bleak.

"It is like I meant to say to Kasagami," she says in leaden words even as she raises her left hand, not in the sign of Les Mysteres. "The day is not to the strongest, nor the race to the swift. Both fall to -"

A streak of glittering light - this at least is still beautiful, a telescopic sparkle of blue-green-something undefinable-yellow-pink across the front of the great beast's eyes - arcs out from la Sirene's hand.

"The ones," she concludes bleakly, "who live."

COMBAT: La Sirene des Lentilles has used Abyssal Vision on Ye-jin Song.
COMBAT: La Sirene des Lentilles has finished attacking.

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

Miyu kneels where she was. It is not clear if she is cognizant of her surroundings or not, but her eyes glow like little flashlights, and pale blue light leaks from every bullet hole, every gash. It is slowly pulsing as it glows brighter. Her arms still limply hold Alyssa Searrs.

The little girl seems insensate, perhaps catatonic. She does not react at first to the light. But as it begins to brighten further and further, her smooth eyelids begin to squint against it, disturbed. Miyu's hair ripples on a breeze, small motes of energy carried along by the gentle motions of air. Alyssa's, gold to her silver, shifts where it lies.

Miyu, like all the most expensive of military hardware, is nuclear-powered. She is well-shielded, of course, and her micro-fusion core is relatively safe and stable... unless someone wishes it not to be. This place was spared destruction once today at great cost, but here pound the hoofs again.

Miyu said it herself. The ancient designs cannot be so easily averted.

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

"It's ours, because you don't deserve it!" Ye-jin howls in response to Yumi, even as the witch's curse burns through the air. The magic smothers, and the great beast rears back as Nori's own blast of light detonates in front of it's horned visage. It roars again, heaving shoulders under the weight of Ivy Witch and Sirene.

Gunfire echoes too, each of Homura's bullets making deep impacts into the metal frame of the terrible Child. Each strike reverberates with the ping of metal as the monster slinks backward, rescinding a few inches from the gathered assault.

Ye-jin, her mask thrown aside in fury, takes short steps to her Child. It's head bows to accept her, her arm grasping at a horn to lift herself astride. There is nothing but rage in her eyes.

One of the SEARRS Child's arms rise, turning in a great sweep across the balcony. A metallic palm crashes along white marble, sweeping toward Steven and Yumi. It does not stop when it comes to Mikoto. Neither she or the monster she rides have any pity left, and the other girl finds no compassion either in the glowing gaze of the PRiNCESS or the golden saucers of the metallic beast she rides. The girl with the obsidian blade is treated the same as any other that would stand in the presence of their final judge.

"There's nothing you can do!" Ye-jin roars from atop her Child in response to Steven's assertion. "Nothing!"

There is a second hand on the metal giant, and it extends skyward. Chambers scattered across it's arm open, spitting forth masses of grasping chain. They shoot out across the balcony, crashing into tile and smashing into walls. Most of them race toward La Sirene and Homura, metal links seeking to choke, restrain, and crush.

"You could have just let us be! This is all your fault!"

COMBAT: Ye-jin Song fails to brace La Sirene des Lentilles's Abyssal Vision, taking 31 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song has used Vicious Cycle on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song has used Vicious Cycle on Yumi Ohzora.
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song has used Vicious Cycle on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song has used Infernal Grasp on La Sirene des Lentilles.
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song has used Infernal Grasp on Homura Akemi.
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora fails to dodge Ye-jin Song's Vicious Cycle, taking 45 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: La Sirene des Lentilles fails to brace Ye-jin Song's Infernal Grasp, taking 58 Fatigue damage!  La Sirene des Lentilles is Quipped!  Tangle applied to La Sirene des Lentilles!  
COMBAT: Steven Universe fails to dodge Ye-jin Song's Vicious Cycle, taking 46 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Homura Akemi decisively counters 45 Fatigue damage from Ye-jin Song's Infernal Grasp, taking 15 Fatigue damage!  Homura Akemi is Quipped!  Homura Akemi's Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!  
COMBAT: Homura Akemi's counterattack, Flashstep, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Ye-jin Song!  
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi fails to dodge Ye-jin Song's Vicious Cycle, taking 38 Fatigue damage!  

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Fall Out Boy - The Phoenix https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WgCzPKYDWI

Are Kagutsuchi's dying flames still there, lingering in merciless skies above? It's so hard to tell. Those golden feathers, scattered when Child and HiME were struck down, drift like dancing embers. They weave, they sparkle, they dance on the wind as if ignorant of what had transpired. Somehow, despite the wind, they do not drift far. Those last feathers seem to drift in a lazy spiral around the Chairman's Tower, as if those remnants are bearing witness to what comes next. The grief and sorrow, the betrayal and despair, the rage and conviction - all of it.

Ye-jin's rage screams loud enough to shake the king of Hell, invoking Yama's wrath to smash those who opposed the Golden Age. For whatever reason, answering whatever injury, the scattered feathers shine as if taking sudden offense.

There's a feeling like a heartbeat, a pulse, a sudden presence where one was not. All at once, filling the air with light and heat, the feathers blaze as one. A great cloud of flame burns around the tower, coalescing swiftly into a single sphere of raging inferno. In the air, it burns. It incinerates. It incarnates.

And a familiar voice speaks from within, as if only momentarily interrupted.

"...there's nothing I won't - nothing I can't do."

The flames scatter and erupt all at once. Ferocious fury tears forth, a shining light like a fallen star barrelling through hot skies toward Yama's potentially-undefended back. Gleaming white and fierce orange and mysterious jade glint in the air, burning wings spreading wide once more as a whale-like croon fills the air.

Atop Kagutsuchi's head, a figure stands with eyes closed. Clad in attire suitable for the location, if not the occasion - she wears a fully intact Ohtori uniform, a bright red scarf trailing behind her. She blinks, once or twice, hands letting go of the phoenix-dragon's neck-fur, seeming utterly baffled.

"How...I'm alive?! That - how is this - " Her gaze whips around, trying to understand how and where and when and what and who might be involved in the unexpected sight. Kagutsuchi's gaze is more measured, however, taking in the lingering helicopters connected to the Golden Age - and perhaps taking offense at their presence.

There's a cry, and wings of flame reborn beat once - turning the attention of the Child to the rest of Ye-jin's air support, in spite of the shouts from atop its head. "What - Kagutsuchi! We have to - we have to make sure Mikoto's okay! I have to tell her-"

Mai Tokiha's next words are cut off by the dragon's challenge, as it focuses on threats not currently being fought. But she's alive - those words can always be spoken later.

COMBAT: Mai Tokiha has fully healed herself.
COMBAT: Mai Tokiha has used Indignant Immolation on Ye-jin Song.
COMBAT: Mai Tokiha has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song braces 37 Fatigue damage from Mai Tokiha's Indignant Immolation, taking 16 Fatigue damage!  Ye-jin Song's Parry ability activates!  Diversion applied to Ye-jin Song!  

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

"That is only your opinion!" Steven retorts. "We all deserve to enjoy our lives! No one is greater than anyone else! You just sound spoiled!" Ye-jin of course, answers the first comment with a great raking claw, tearing up the floor like giant nails made for a coffin. Steven attempts to roll out of the way, be the side of the hand crashes into him and sends him sprawling painfully into rubble, a cloud of dust erupting around him.

It is a few seconds before the debris stirs. "Ergh..."

His eyes are filled with silt from the crash, making it hard to see, but he hears still-- hears the calls for someone no longer there. "M-Mikoto!" he calls out, still finding his own way, more concerned for his friends yet. "You... You have to keep going! I know it is probably hard, but you have to fight on! We can't let her sacrifice go in vain! If we let up, many more will die! Fight like she is still here!" His shoulder screams now, scree and fiber getting in his wounds, ones Ye-jin inflicted yet to be bandaged.

And yet, there is power in the air again. This time, warmer, more attentive. A flick of power, like a match, flares to life, and when it is done ,that same dragon-like being is there again, with its rider. "I can't even... believe it...!" But the fight isn't over. No time to slack. The boy climbs out of the rubble, and begins to rush forward, shield held out in front of him.

He was going to see this through!

COMBAT: Steven Universe has used Love Like You on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Steven Universe has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi accepts Steven Universe's Love Like You, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Mikoto Minagi is Cheered!  Surge applied to Mikoto Minagi!  

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

There is a familiar presence behind her and Mikoto sags back into Yumi's arms. "... Mai," she says, and the word is hollow-boned. "Mai's..."


She does not quite manage to construct the mora - to ask Yumi for help. To ask Yumi what she should do. Her head tilts back to look at the girl flinging curses, and her brow arcs in her grief and her lips hang askew with a jaw which has never quite managed to close.

"Ah," she says, in dull surprise, as a palm crashes towards them. She is leant into Yumi and it feels as if it will take an eon for her to straighten. Yumi tries to force the issue for them both; she is pliant in her grasp. She tries to get away on her direction.

She fails.

She wonders if this is what it feels like.

Perhaps she should ask Homura.

Perhaps she will not have time, because Miyu is glowing, now.

She should... do something...

But the palm grinds her mercilessly into the marble as it passes. It is crushing force and she is so, so small. She does not rise when it does. "... nothing," she echoes, through lidded eyes. Tears spring to them as she makes her accusations. "It's... my fault..." She murmurs, and perhaps she should care that Homura is battered.

She was warned - wasn't she?

Before any of this happened, she came to her, she warned her, and Mikoto didn't listen, and...

... Mai...

Her cheek tilts on the marble floor to look past Yama Delta, at the sky which is her tomb.

In fragility she drags the words from herself, as if she could still speak to her. "It's still burning... Mai..." Perhaps the sky will boil forever. Distantly she realises the boy, Steven, is telling her to fight as if she is still here.

BGM Change: Ingrid Michaelson - Parachute https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQ6XOQPFlnE

Heat like a star tears forward and it is from a shape partly phoenix, partly dragon, and it speaks with a whale's voice and there is a tiny speck astride it and it is unmistakably, unmistakably, "Mai!"

It is the first time life has sprung into her words since she left. Mikoto pushes herself up all a sudden, scrambling to her feet. The joy on her face is unvarnished. "Mai!" She calls, again - but Kagutsuchi is turning. Kagutsuchi still has enemies to fight.

It's just as Steven said. "Fight on," she echoes his words, turning to the colossus which shadows the balcony. She nods; her grip tightens, as she hums assent. "I'll fight!"

And she is smiling, she is smiling, she is smiling.

It's okay.

Mai's okay.

She charges forward and springs up, sword swinging in wild horizontal arc towards the biggest target in the arena, and she has not remembered Miyu.

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Destruction on Ye-jin Song.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has finished attacking.

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene des Lentilles [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The chain snaps towards la Sirene as she lowers her arm a little and a moment later she is embraced in the metal, compressed, held, squeezed inwards. She can feel her spine pop and has a hard time drawing breath afterwards. It hurts - does everything hurt? She can't really tell. I feel like I've been sewn together, la Sirene thinks, even as she answers Ye-jin with a curious note of false gaiety. "Oh," she says:


"And if we are fortunate," la Sirene says, "You will probably crush us, and behind you there is doubtless more... Is that not the way of things?" Her head tilts back even as she is squeezed further. Hard enough that she thinks she tastes blood.

"... ah... I'm a little frightened... but..."

And then comes a rising phoenix. No, a dragon. Both?

La Sirene trails off. Not for the first time, either. She stares at Mai Tokiha and Kagutsuchi - mostly Kagutsuchi - with wonder. The wonder brings her back to herself.

So does the pain, but, that was getting a little distant. Blinking inwardly, la Sirene considers her situation with new eyes. Probably Ye-jin has greater things on her mind than seeing a girl in a gray dress look at herself, put a hand to her forehead, murmur, and then seem to - for one heart-breaking instant - be constrained completely in chains --

Before she lands on her feet again.

Her hand stays where it is and she breathes out with great, shaking force. Trembling, la Sirene raises her head, but when she looks to Ye-jin. Where the chains went through her there is a lingering after-light - a neon-magenta glowing that shades into a violant-green that seems to want to crawl into the eyes of the great Yama-king.

La Sirene speaks: "But I think... that there is a great deal of sorrow within your heart, isn't there? Ye-jin-san."

COMBAT: La Sirene des Lentilles has used Salute the Four Corners on Ye-jin Song.
COMBAT: La Sirene des Lentilles has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song fails to counter Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Destruction, taking 55 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song's counterattack, No Chance In Hell, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Mikoto Minagi!  
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song fails to brace La Sirene des Lentilles's Salute the Four Corners, taking 22 Fatigue damage!  Bind Break! All of La Sirene des Lentilles's debuffs are cleared!  

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

They don't deserve it. That's the answer--Yumi looks past Ye-Jin and Child, though, in that instant--towards Miyu, Alyssa... the light. The time costs her, naturally--she can't also look up to the sky, to the cry of a Child, because there is a /hand/ coming for them, and that metallic palm crashes into Yumi, too. Her effort to shove herself and Mikoto out of the way fails; she herself is knocked backwards, her, hitting the broken tile and rolling along the ground until the momentum is spent. "Ah--" She hisses, in some pain, before she breathes in, makes herself get up as she hears the awful sounds continuing. They could have let them be--It's...

Steven calls; Mikoto rises. It starts to click, for Yumi.

She continues pushing against the gruond until she has reached her knees, sets out her staff and pulls herself up to her feet, where she wobbles until she can look up to the Child on his rampage now through this hall. Their... fault...

"/No/," Yumi says, louder this time. "It's NOT our fault!"

She bangs the butt of her staff on the ground, and light bursts around her in a circle of green in all directions. "You say we don't deserve it--you say it's yours--"

Yumi steps forward, and she is beside La Sirene, then, gray and black together, after-light and something different. "...It's not about strength, or victory alone."

"...You're mad. And you know? I /get/ that. I'm mad, too. I'm mad--that I've been here, running from a bunch of stupid soldiers--that I've been living in caves--"

"That everything has HURT all the time since this has happened, that I can't even THINK without everything aching anymore!"

"And I'm finally starting to see Mother's POINT about speaking up a little bit about it!"

Yumi throws out her hand, traces a quick and savage rune of green light in the air--and then clenches her hand. Spectral ivy, vines and leaves alike begin to twine upward, seeking to trap the great Child and its terrible power, if only for a moment.

COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora has used Ivy Binding on Ye-jin Song.
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song braces 7 Fatigue damage from Yumi Ohzora's Ivy Binding, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  Ye-jin Song's Parry ability activates!  

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

They say--the Christians, anyway--that hell is supposed to be molten hot. Yet it is not as hot as the flaming wings of Kagatsuchi, and Ye-jin's Yama was not built strong enough to weather such ancient flames unblemished. The King of Hell is wreathed if fire as the white shape of Kagatsuchi passes, cloying flame racing along it's metal joints and scorching across golden plating.

One side of it's enormous face, the side turned to shield it's rider from the force of the flame, is twisted and melted. One baleful eye flickers, then comes violently to life once again. Lengths of chain chase the white Child as it streaks into the sky, falling and burning away as it ascends to do battle with the helicopters above.

"Not now." Says the girl astride her Child. "No. No!" She's speaking more to herself than the girls below, or the one high above. Magenta light eats away at the metallic links connected to the great beast, burrowing deep along the metal and into the saucers of it's eyes. They do not blink, of course, but flash with color as the damage is done.

More still by Miroku, now wielded again by an energized awakened Mikoto. The ancient blade carves a deep path, and no hands can be raised to stop it as ivy bindings crawl and constrict. It bites deep, sheering metal, leaving a gaping gouge of smoke and fire behind. Yama heaves, roaring once more in pain and anger.

It is the same for it's rider: "I won't allow it! I'll keep my promise!"

Nori is right, perhaps, that there is sorrow there. And Yumi too has it right. They are both mad. The great arms of the machine rise again, tearing through vines in it's fury, clawed hands smashing wildly. There is no finesse here, none of the grace that Ye-jin might have displayed with whip or body. There is only fury for those that dare to attack her.

COMBAT: Ye-jin Song has used Due Rewards on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song has used Due Rewards on La Sirene des Lentilles.
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song has used Due Rewards on Yumi Ohzora.
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song has used For My Golden Age on Ye-jin Song.
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song accepts Ye-jin Song's For My Golden Age, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Ye-jin Song is Reinforced by Ye-jin Song!  
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora braces 6 Fatigue damage from Ye-jin Song's Due Rewards, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Yumi Ohzora's Block and Parry abilities activate!  
COMBAT: La Sirene des Lentilles perfectly dodges 15 Fatigue damage from Ye-jin Song's Due Rewards, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  

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

Even when things look their darkest, light can shine. The flames from Mai and Kagutsuchi's maneuver prove that. The boy has to cover his already irritated eyes from the light. It was hard to breathe, hard to ignore the pain. It bites at him, like a handful of jawed insects all over. But quitting now would spell doom to everyone!

Seeing Mikoto go back to attacking does his heart good, considering all that weighs on it in these moments. Likewise, La Sirene and the Ivy Witch do not relent.

The boy moves to tangle with one of the claws as they crash around aiming at others, and give it a firm series of hits with what strength he can muster. "What promise did you even make to have to play with people's lives like they were nothing?!" he yells. "Who does things like that?!"

At least he can hope to pose a good distracting, though he is firmly sure he can't readily hurt it.

COMBAT: Steven Universe has used Shield Bash on Ye-jin Song.
COMBAT: Steven Universe has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi counters 4 Fatigue damage from Ye-jin Song's Due Rewards, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  Mikoto Minagi's Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!  
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi's counterattack, Obsidian Blade: Dynamo, partially gets through, doing 10 Fatigue damage to Ye-jin Song!  

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

Once Steven closes the distance and begins to land small hits, feelings start to well up. The aftermath of all this. Would the school ever be the same? Perhaps in time, it would.

But it is a future he won't know. For when this is all over, he knows exactly what will happen.

The attacks become more intense. Stronger, more jarring. Strogner than a little kid his size has any right to be able to do.

Tears well up, and fall at a rate roughly equal to how many times the edge of that shield is attempted to be wedged into whatever classifies as flesh on the claws of Yama.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Steven Universe has used Lionheart on Ye-jin Song.
COMBAT: Steven Universe has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song fails to brace Steven Universe's Finisher, Lionheart, taking 71 Fatigue damage!  

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene des Lentilles [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"I don't know your promise," la Sirene des Lentilles said. "And promises are something very sacred... if you've made a promise and I've made the opposite promise, I suppose there's no way to avoid it, is there? And in a place like this, a place of miracles and horrors, we cannot sit down and discuss these things out..."

La Sirene tsks to herself softly. "If only we had that magic knight here... she'd probably see through some sort of gap in this argument, cold though it might be..."

Yumi approaches her. She looks to the Witch and she says softly, "I know exactly how you feel," and indeed she thinks she does... "Here, try to keep her busy for a moment." She puffs out a breath to blow a lock of black hair out of her eyes. "I think I have an idea."

Why do I feel stronger now? la Sirene thinks. From the Witch's companionship? Well, perhaps, she thinks, (and also thinks further, I should not say it that way to Madoka...)

Do I really feel stronger? she thinks further. The great beast comes towards her.

No, la Sirene decides, as she crouches down while leaning slightly back. I don't feel stronger at all, not in my body. I'm sore, hurting. I feel light-headed. I don't want to feel like this. I want to go home and sleep, but there is no home, is there? My home here is gone -

(At this point la Sirene leaps into the air in a flourish of blue gray sparkles.)

And I have no home in the north -

And I cannot reach 'that' place... unless...

"I make no claim," la Sirene says as she comes down -- to try and stand directly behind Ye-Jin, on the back of her child -- "on this world. It seems huge enough that many could make claims and be content. But, Ye-jin Song, I do make claims on the tears you have damned. You have driven them forwards - I barely understand the battle you all wage, save that your beautiful beasts are key and that you seek the radiance of that star. To make your wish, isn't it? To make the world better?"

She glances towards where Alyssa and Miyu still are.

Back to Ye-jin.

La Sirene snaps her fingers -- and turns herself to present her left arm. The sparkling Prism within sparkles a few steps brighter and then suddenly billows outwards with a different kind of radiance -- a shining intense violet, perfect-black and soothing to the eyes -- a space aglitter with a thousand thousand jewels!

"For I will help you take a step outside - into the hallway of the heavens, the space between, where you can shed your tears without shame. Step, then, into my Workshop of the Telescopes!"

And that backwards-light pours inwards from seven different directions, silver light and Saturnine rings rising as the glorious chaos pours inwards, centered upon Ye-jin (and, by necessity, the head of Yama) with a synaesthetic glory and shining effervescence. The pressure, the sensory overload - perhaps the beauty - it is all on display here! (It was less obvious in Zero Time.)

COMBAT: FINISHER! La Sirene des Lentilles has used The Light That Never Warms on Ye-jin Song.
COMBAT: La Sirene des Lentilles has finished attacking.

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

'I won't allow it!'


Yumi declares the truth of their blamelesness and Ye-jin screams, and this, too, is a mirror. Mikoto lands on the balcony, turns in revolution to find her bearing again; Yama Delta's fists bear down.

And the blade called Miroku rises.

Yama Delta is a titan; a Child speaks, and gods shudder. The love of good girls has no peer in this world, and devotion is a ritual-knife plunging down. When the two meet the impact shudders the marble, sinks Mikoto's stolen boots inches into the stone. Her knees bend under the pressure; her teeth grit, the joy on her face sharpening to intensity. Perhaps, for a moment, it seems she will be crushed under the cruel might Ye-jin brings to bear.

But the blade called Mikoto rises.

Inch by inch she pushes back against the stolen metal of Yama Delta, and the muscles of her arms strain against Miyu's wounds as their performance is demanded. With a bellow she cleaves her sword in - carving a gash through curled fingers as she forces the fist away.

"Just..." Mikoto says, the words trailing in their recognition and their condemnation, gold locking in with gold, "like... me."

She searches those headlights in that moment and there is assessment to her. "No good," she decides, because she knows the fury which must flood her veins, and she knows the power behind a Child who knows only destruction and hatred. She cannot let someone so nostalgic go free. She cannot guarantee Mai will be safe - let alone him.

And Mai is alive, and she intends to keep her that way.

"I told Ye-jin." Mikoto says, and her words are centred, because it is as Yumi has said. "By the river." She told her many things, and all of them are true.

Her grip shifts; her stance lowers.

Suddenly she does not speak any more and she is charging, and it is the start of a running leap. She springs from the ground, Miroku arcing overhead and there are eyes in the darkness, malevolent red sigils which alight on an obsidian-black blade, and Ye-jin may feel the unsettling feeling of being watched; being judged.

Being found unworthy.

How could someone like her even know what the top would look like?

Mikoto screams and if that claymore crashes into metal there will be a spidering along the bronze. The blade glows white - the energy which floods the wound is red.

It is explosive. It is unkind.

It does not care who is astride the Child.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Death on Ye-jin Song.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has finished attacking.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

What are restraints, to burning rage? Yumi does not worry so much about this Hell, or that Hell--she sees an underworld's envoy here before her, and she starts to brace herself as she sees the rampage beginning again. A promise, Ye-Jin says, a /promise/, Yama heaves.

Yumi, naturally, is hit by a gigantic hand, but less naturally, she is able first to interpose a gleaming green barrier of magic--which cracks under Yama's power, but shoves Yumi back instead of putting her down.

"...Promises," she says, gathering herself and standing back upright, "Can be things you never would've expected, Steven." She turns to La Sirene, then, and the other girl says she knows how the Witch feels. Yumi's gray hair remains half over one eye, as she looks back, and thinks that she must be right.

She is tired, very tired. She is sore, she said that much truly; even with the magic of the Staff suffusing her, she finds that the old aches are there. But here...

"I will," Yumi says anyway, and calls out, "Hey!" to Ye-jin, lowering her shoulders as if she's about to cast something--and there, La Sirene lands. There, she speaks of a wish... and Yumi glances to Alyssa and Miyu, too.

Mikoto rises. The Workshop...

"All I can do," she murmurs, "Is what I can." She breathes in, then, and begins to extend a hand--

...And all the grace that was lacking within her is there, now; for an instant, she is not an awkward, tired, sick girl, but a Witch in proper attire; Her hand stretches out, smooth, palm towards Ye-jin and her Child, as her staff stands tall. The fabric of her sleeves, of her dress, the wisps of her braid ripple in an unseen wind, and her free hand begins to glow black with something that is not quite light. Deftly, she traces symbols--runes that tell a story, that name a power that is long forgotten. They glow, before her, and she intoes firmly, "Sleeping power be bound by my will!"

Yumi rests her hand beside the runes that still glow in the air, open palm pointed for her foes, now--and her eyes for now are clear. "VERDANT FLARE!"

A brilliant, coruscating chartreuse beam shoots forth from Yumi's hand, and when it reaches its target, it /bursts/ outward, tripling in width, the witch Bending her knees and adopting a steady stance with hand outstretched to avoid being blasted back by her own spell.

And the wind has not stopped.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Yumi Ohzora has used Verdant Flare on Ye-jin Song.
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song fails to brace La Sirene des Lentilles's Finisher, The Light That Never Warms, taking 160 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Ye-jin Song is unable to keep fighting!  
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song fails to brace Yumi Ohzora's Finisher, Verdant Flare, taking 110 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Ye-jin Song is unable to keep fighting!  
COMBAT: Ye-jin Song braces 93 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Finisher, Obsidian Blade: Death, taking 62 Fatigue damage!  Ye-jin Song is unable to keep fighting!  Ye-jin Song's Parry ability activates!  

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

Steven's shield crashes into the hand of Yama-and it gives, slowly, cracking and bending against the sudden and enormous strength pressed against it. Steven pushes again the vast palm, something large enough to easily enfold him, and it gives under the weight of the Crystal Gem's charge.

The other great arm rises to shield the bulk of Yama's head from the brilliant green that arcs from Yumi's fingers. It's a ponderous motion, metal grinding and creaking and a horrible, horrible rear of pain and fury escaping as magic burns along the metal plates and wires. Both Gem and Witch provide distraction enough for La Serene to make her mark.

Ye-jin turns unsteadily to face La Sirene. "You wouldn't know," She breathes, and her words are short and labored, "About what I want." She is shaking, her fingers tight, the pale light in her eyes faded and strained with the power she's expended. Yama is a machine that runs on her, and Ye-jin is tired. The kaleidoscope of light is not just one more drop in the bucket she must endure-it is an ocean, and she can nearly hold no more.

Nearly. But the distance between her and La Sirene is close now, and one hand reaches out to grasp her throat with what strength Ye-jin Song still retains. She does not notice Mikoto Minagi.

Her Child does. Though there are no hands left-one spared to Steven, one to Yumi, there are other implements of deterrence at hand. Bronze links of metal erupt in the air around the girl, seek to bind and catch. They burn, but none hold long enough to stop Miroku's momentum. None of them prevent the obsidian blade from cleaving down deep into the horned head of the hellish Child before them.

There is a final and terrible roar as flaming metal ruptures and wires burst. Yama Delta was violent in life, and is so death. The hand that Steven forced backward throws him violently away. The other crashes through the floor of the balcony, ripping out a chunk of marble. Explosive bursts detonated across the metal, though the largest is from point of Miroku's impact. Powerful enough to fling Mikoto back, to violently separate the brief connection between Ye-jin and La Sirene.

There is smoke, and clouds, and gushing black oil. There is a final heave as the great mass topples backward.

BGM Change: I'll be there soon - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09ivU_q9TLU

It's hard to see Ye-jin Song amidst the black mass. Hard to tell where she is in the aftermath of it all. Hard, even, to hear the scream of her agony over cacophony of dying metal careening down the length of the tower.

In a conference room somewhere far away, in a conference room filled with crackling monitors and angry voices, an old man fades into empty air. The other observers turn with clinical eye and shaking heads. The monitors cut. The lights turn down and the room empties.

If there is anything Ye-jin she feels, besides pain, it must be shame. But there is no one to apologize to now, even should she be spared the fall.

If she knew the cost, she'd prefer the pain never ended.

<Pose Tracker> Miyu Greer [None] has posed.
<SoundTracker> It's Only the Fairy Tale (instrumental) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tr3j69mQatA

The light is too bright, now. It hurts the angel's eyes like morning. It isn't until she opens her lashes that she realizes they were closed, because her lids had become illuminated from without.

The sting closes them again, and brings a groggy wrist over the bridge of her soft nose. Alyssa feels the hollow grief open beneath her, draining her away again as though the memory was just waiting for her to wake up. Waiting for her blood to pump again before drinking it.

Artemis... her horizon song. Her very own star.

What is this /light/? It hurts. It pries at her eyelashes. Alyssa gropes around in white darkness, and her hand comes to rest on Miyu's thumb. Of course she knows right away that it is Miyu. She peeks into the light in confusion, and though it sears her eyes shut again in an instant, the impression she got of what's above her is seared with it. Two round circles of light in the sockets of a skull-like shape, its mouth pouring a thick beam. Miyu, flooded, flooding. Her skin translucent from the light beneath.

"Miyu!" Alyssa cries, and she falls, her long black play-dress snagging her legs as she rolls off Miyu's lap. Childish, she cups her knee for a moment, but there's no time for bandaids. Scrambling to her hands and knees, she gets up and hurries to Miyu's side, where the light is less bright.

"Miyu," she says again, miserably. Alyssa knows what this is... she is Alyssa /Searrs/. "Code Delta Seven, Orthia, direct priority," she urges. Miyu does not respond, her head bent down, vomiting a beam onto her lap. Her chest is suffused with atomic rage, barely withheld by her reactor's shielding. "Code Delta Seven, Orthia, direct priority!" Alyssa is shaking Miyu's shoulder by a grip on her shirt, but Miyu is very heavy. Alyssa throws her arms around Miyu's neck and holds her.

"Code Delta 23, Hierarch, remote priority," she tries, out of desperation. Maybe if she transfers permissions there will be a moment in between where Miyu will have control. But this command, too, creates no reaction. "Miyu," she weeps. "Please..."

The whine in Miyu's chest is getting louder as the battle against Ye-jin reaches its spectacular peak. "Code Alpha S-seventy Nine," Alyssa hiccups hopelessly.

"Command rejected," Miyu's voice answers instantly, the shape of those syllables spelled out in the beam of blue light. Alyssa's head snaps up.

"Orthia, direct priority!"

"Command rejected."

"Code Alpha Seventy Nine, Orthia direct priority!"

"Command rejected."

"Hierophant remote priority!"

"Command rejected!"

"Why?!" Alyssa begs, beating her little fist on Miyu's shoulder. Greer's hidden, undocumented code had supposedly been erased, and shouldn't even trigger a rejection. Is this just an uncleaned registry? A memory of code? Why does it work at all, and why doesn't it work all the way?

"Orthia, direct priority," Alyssa whispers, just to hear Miyu's voice again.

"Command rejected," says the calm, smooth voice of her guardian.

Alyssa stands up straighter, adding a scant few inches to her tiny height. Bending in, she closes her eyes against the glow and finds her way to Miyu's cheek. If Miyu wanted to keep something they deleted from her mind... who would she be keeping it for?

A tiny little smooch presses Miyu's cheek.

"Genetic imprint accepted," Miyu responds instantly, her tone no longer flat and dead.

"Orthia direct pri--!"

Miyu hugs Alyssa tightly, squeezing the command to a startled little squeak.

"I know," Miyu says through the fading light of her mouth, as the holes in her mechanical form rapidly dim. Her voice seems tremulous, but perhaps it's electrical feedback again. "I know," she soothes, as Alyssa begins to sob. "You stayed with me."

Unable to speak, Alyssa just bobs her head against Miyu's shoulder.

Miyu rises smoothly, scooping up Alyssa without effort as she goes, so that by the time she's standing Alyssa is cradled in one arm. The other arm splits open, disgorging the bulbous metal of her ion cannon, which she snaps into position, aiming directly at La Sirene des Lentilles as it charges.


COMBAT: Miyu Greer transforms into MIYU!
COMBAT: Miyu Greer has adjusted her boss levels. She is now ready to take on 13 opponents!
COMBAT: Miyu Greer has used Ionic Pulse on La Sirene des Lentilles.
COMBAT: Miyu Greer has finished attacking.

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

The recoil is immense, nearly knocking the unprepared Miyu over. The cannon kicks, aiming high, a bright white ball of energy slamming into the tower above the elevators, blasting right through the wall.

COMBAT: Miyu Greer has cancelled their attack on La Sirene des Lentilles. If there are more attacks that need to be +cancelled, please hold all +attacks until the process is complete.
COMBAT: Miyu Greer has adjusted her boss levels. She is now ready to take on 4 opponents!
<Pose Tracker> Miyu Greer [None] has posed.

Miyu stares down accusingly at the weapon, which is hissing and emitting a steady stream of black smoke. She disengages it and lets the broken gear drop onto the ground.

"Overcharged," she remarks to Alyssa briefly. Alyssa, her wet eyes wide, nods twice rapidly.

"We will not forgive you," Miyu tells Nori, Steven, Mikoto, and Yumi. Then her legs shoot out straight, like a ladder's hinge being slapped straight. She leaps directly off the platform, her red eyes hostile. Extending her palm, she fires a thin, clear wire up at the bottom of the platform, wind whipping her hair straight up as the wire extends, slowing her fall.

"Miyu," Alyssa says sleepily, somehow both miserable and utterly content.

"Ojou-sama," Miyu answers.


The campus has been liberated. Tanks lie cracked open like pistachio shells. Guns are silenced, battleships slowly foundering under their weight. Students are crying, scraped up, and dirty--but they are also smiling. Soldiers stand with their hands up in great clumps, herded about with the empathy one expects from the finest magical girls of Tokyo, albeit with the occasional passive-aggressive slight one expects from teenagers everywhere.

Touga Kiryuu and Kyouichi Saionji sit on opposite sides of Juri Arisugawa. The two men hold ice packs to opposite sides of their faces, avoiding looking at one another. Juri just rests her elbows on her knees like a boxer between rounds, an oversized ice pack resting on her head like a hat. More adorably, Miki Kaoru keeps accidentally turning his stopwatch on and off as Yukino touches an icepack experimentally to his bare chest.

Haruka Suzushiro bursts in at some point wearing a strip of her own skirt as a bandana, carrying a plastic javelin (basically blunt) from the track club storeroom and apparently prepared to fight SEARRS. She ends up hitting Miki with it for some reason.

The repairs will last a while even with Ohtori money. The emotional scars may be permanent--it's a hard thing to feel your school is no sanctuary, that it is a place of gunfire and violence. But humans are indeed resilient, especially young ones. They will be okay. And they have shared something that, however frightening, brought them closer.

There's always another day, for hate as well as for love. But for today, everyone is safe.


"Rest here, ojou-sama. I'll get you some water."

Alyssa makes a weary noise of assent, tucked under Miyu's tattered school uniform jacket. This forest glade is quiet, soothing, distant from campus. There isn't much forest left, no. But a few layers of trees can hide the whole world. Anyone who grows up in Tokyo learns that.

A stick snaps, and Miyu pauses. Her head turns, her sallow skin leaf-dappled. Joseph Greer stands behind her, wrinkled and grey, his clerical collar loose from sweaty hiking, his dark jacket open on an empty holster. There is a pistol loosely in hand at his side. Miyu's eyes rest on him steadily. Greer opens his fingers around the pistol's grip, lifting it loosely as he raises his hands to reassure her.

"Thank the Lord I found you," he says. "You need urgent repairs."

Miyu stares.

"Come now. Do you think a girl named Searrs could ever be expendable? You've nothing to fear from me." He raises his eyebrows, as if asking approval of this logic.

Miyu stares.

Greer's lip twists. "Code Alpha Seventy Nine," he spits quickly, his eyes hard. "Direct priority... Genesis."

Miyu is very still. Greer lifts his pistol slowly, in the direction of slumbering Alyssa. Somewhere, a bird chirps. So. They still live here.

"Command rejected," Miyu says.