2019-03-16 - TIMELINE 3: Sleigh Bells of Sorrow

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Title: Sleigh Bells of Sorrow

On a lovely day in the shopping district, the Christmas spirit is in full swing. Free hot chocolate, red-capped promoters for myriad businesses, Westar attacking with a Nakewameke...


Westar, Setsuna Higashi, Cure Pine, Steven Universe, Fuu Hououji, Sourisi, Sailor Mars


Shibuya Shopping Ward

OOC - IC Date:

2019-03-16 - December 23rd, 2014

<Pose Tracker> Westar [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

'Tis the season to be jolly, Shibuya Shopping Ward is decked with holly.

The holiday season has arrived, and the lights of the shopping district seem exceptionally festive this close to the the end of the year. The lightest dusting of snow rests elegantly on awnings and streetlamps, bright daylight gleaming off of purest white, while store windows display gift recommendations framed by twinkling rainbow-coloured lights.

It's festive enough without people - but the shopping district is utterly packed with people. Families out to enjoy the sights, teenagers and young adults rushing about in eleventh-hour gift hunts, and the Santas. Bright red hats trimmed with white fur are absolutely everywhere, as seemingly every store has hired an assistant to ring a bell or hand out hot chocolate or something. One cheerful young man or woman after another waves, each in varying degrees of the spirit of the season. It's commercialism, perhaps, but it's bright and cheerful.

There's room in the middle of the street, at least, as a small parade winds its careful way along. Leading the procession is a float in the shape of a giant sleigh, with a fully costumed Santa Claus on top waving. This one's taller and broader than most, the red jacket not a perfect fit but more or less fitting the character. His voice booms out, grabbing the attention of shoppers one and all. "Ho ho ho! A Merry Christmas to all..."

Abruptly, his gloved hand grabs that jacket and flings off the entire outfit in a single motion. The jacket and beard both go flinging high, revealing the black outfit and billowing cape concealed beneath. "And a Sorrowful New Year!"

....it's Westar.

Without further ado - or introduction - he flicks out a yellow diamond and slams it into the sleigh he's standing on. Black smoke explodes outward in an instant, clearing to reveal a holiday vehicle much more menacing. It's made of black metal with glowing crimson lines running up and down, the reindeer have vanished and replaced with rocket engines on the back, and the front of the sleigh has become a menacing face with a golden diamond between its eyes. "NAKEWAMEKE..."

Westar laughs, taking up the reins once more. The engines at the back of the sleigh whine as they build up a charge, steam billowing from vents that look like teeth on the sleigh's front. The Executive controlling it starts to speak, pauses, and then grins.

"For the glory of Labyrinth, all your tears shall now fall!"
"Cry and wail for the Sorrow Gauge - and dash away, all!"

With a roar, the sleigh rockets down the street, spraying slush to either side in its wake and splattering many a nice winter coat.

The jerk.

COMBAT: Westar transforms into Nakewameke!
COMBAT: Westar has fully healed himself. He is now ready to take on 5 opponents!
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

"C'moooon.... tell me your secreeeets! Please?"

The voice of Steven Universe comes out from the moving crowd, as some have to step out of his way. Or rather, not /his/ way, but what he is riding. At some recent point from being forced to homeschool, he has come across a... lion? Yeah, a pink one at that. And it is apparently taking a stroll down a sidewalk. It walks amongst people as if it has been doing it his whole life, majestic, yet completely unthreatening toward anyone that comes close.

Little Steven is draped over its back, riding it like a mount, well, sideways. It is unusually large for even a male lion, and can support the boy well.

An odd place to see one though, here in Shibuya.

Steven himself is decked out in winterwear, a floofy pink jacket, a pair of jeans, and some galoshes for the snow, and a pair of light blue gloves on his hands.

He is also wearing a magnificent scarf acquired quite recently at a fashion event!


And now it is wet. So is Lion, who seems thoroughly unpleased. THe look on the boys face is one of SILENT RAGE that his new scarf got wet. THe wet everywhere else was fine, but THE SCARF.

"It's that guy again." The way he says it sounds like he is rather annoyed. Westar is like a comic book villain! Why does he do this stuff! "Lion, chase that sleigh! We gotta stop it-- UWAH!"

Off like a bolt the pink feline goes, streaking down the road after the sleigh at high speed, looking like a wet, miserable, angry ball of cat as he goes. "H-Hey! Get back here!" The boy shouts as he summons a shield. "Stop him!" he calls out, mostly to anyone around with the capability to do so, but Lion has a better idea. He opens his toothy maw, and out peals a magical roar with visible pink vibrations to the air, destabilizing everything it touches.

"Wh... that was cool," he says, gripping the cat's mane. "What else can you do?!"

COMBAT: Steven Universe has fully healed himself.
COMBAT: Steven Universe transforms into Serious Steven!
COMBAT: Steven Universe has used Just Lion Things on Westar.
COMBAT: Steven Universe has finished attacking.
<Pose Tracker> Inori Yamabuki [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"You're sure it's okay? That I had you to myself for a whole day?"

'Buki is in a yellow and white jacket - trimmed with faux fur, and leggings that sport cats wearing Christmas hats peeking out of her brown loafers. She'd never wear real fur after all, carrying a shopping bag at her side as she walks alongside Setsuna Higashi. There's kind of nervous laugh, behind her smile. "I mean it's not like I'm complaining. It just feels a little... indulgent? To have had the headline model for AkaMira helping me Christmas shop..."

Her shoulders had been worked up into a slightly anxious wiggle, as she holds the bag between her two hands. The square is jam packed - and there she is walking alongside a celebrity. A few people had already stopped to ask to take pictures with Setsuna - others for her autograph - others trying to solicit fashion advice.

It made her feel almost selfish hoarding her to herself. Yet all the same...

The moment the parade starts - is also the moment that 'buki sees one of her favorite mascots as the subject of a float not far behind Santa's. A large Mama cat with another smaller cat atop it. Each bearing a Santa hat, though the larger cat's was lopsided due to the space made for the baby. "Oh it's NekoKoNeko!"

Upon sight of it, all doubt fled her as she impulsively grabbed Setsuna's hand and rushed ahead to the side of the street. "Ohmigosh it's so cute!" The girl declares - eyes shining. It's fitting though - like it's part of the holiday season for 'buki to get swept up in the mood. Cute animals in the Christmas spirit making her react like she's almost ten years younger in wonder and cheer.

However there was an even bigger celebrity in the parade on the float. And as Santa calls out to the crowd, 'buki looks almost eagerly to him. "Merry Christmas Santa-" She's even raised a hand to wave. And then suddenly the outfit is flung off. "-san..."

'Buki suddenly straightens up like a bolt, "Westar!? How could you?" Like she's indignant of the very /idea/ of Westar impersonating a beloved Christmas icon.

"Um... Secchan I hate to ask..."

The girl hands her bag over, "Could you hold this?" This happens just as the Nakewameke sprays them all with slush - "Oh look out!" - and 'buki suddenly - almost impulsively wraps her arms around her, trying to spare her the fate, as the back of her coat gets washed off by icy slush.

She knows how much Miki hates to have her hard work ruined on the day before she models, so she covers Setsuna for just a moment. Then takes a step back, shaking out ice from her golden sidetail like a dog that just got sprayed by water. "I'm... going to go... get changed..." She says deliberately, like she's implying something, then uses the crowd to disappear into.

"Change! Pretty Cure - Beat Up!"

When she returns as Cure Pine - it's not on ground level. The Pretty Cure descends from the sky with a kick aimed at the front end of the sleigh. It starts with a kick to the front of the sleigh. It's a prelude to a sudden barrage of kicks in a left-right rhythm as she smashes into the front end of the sleigh like she's dancing in mid-air. "Shouldn't you take some time off from this Westar? It's Christmas!"

COMBAT: Inori Yamabuki transforms into Cure Pine!
COMBAT: Cure Pine has used Pineapple Express on Westar.
COMBAT: Cure Pine has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Westar braces 9 Fatigue damage from Steven Universe's Just Lion Things, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Trap applied to Westar!  
COMBAT: Westar fails to dodge Cure Pine's Pineapple Express, taking 21 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Cure Pine is Psyched!  
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Given the events of the year thus far, Fuu has been putting more thought and care into the gifts she's giving this year. She's been working on a scarf for Ferio, even though she discovered in the process that knitting is *not* one of her strong points. (That isn't stopping her from continuing to press onwards with it, mind you. It just means she's got her work cut out for her to finish before Christmas.) She's being similarly deliberate about those gifts she has to pick out at one store or another: a cookbook for her mother, a school organizer for her elder sister Kuu ...

She's on her way out of another store when Westar goes "HO HO HO"-ing down the street on a rocket sleigh, and a little too much slush splashes not only all over Fuu, but into one of the bags she's holding. She quickly and primly removes the laptop case from the shopping bag, brushing slush off the former and trying to dump residue out of the latter, then gives Westar's back the kind of look that, if looks could actually kill, would be accompanied by high-energy sound effects and a beam of raw force.

Looks cannot, however, actually kill, so the efficacy of Fuu's glare is substantially mitigated by the fact that the Labyrinth executive probably won't even notice it. Still, Cure Pine and Steven's Lion are trying to bring Westar and the monster sleigh to heel; that gives Fuu enough time to vanish around the corner into an alley, tugging her gloves off in favor of a different hand-worn accessory.

"Belief becomes power ... Winds, guide me!"

A moment after *that*, there's a call of, "Gale Arrow!" before a single feathered shaft hurtles down between the Nakewameke's engines, wrapped in wind to both accelerate the arrow's flight and steady it against turbulence en route. The Magic Knight of Wind barely gives her arrow time to reach its mark before she leaps from her rooftop perch, aiming to close the distance.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji transforms into Wind Knight!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Gale Arrow on Westar.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Westar braces 26 Fatigue damage from Fuu Hououji's Gale Arrow, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Fuu Hououji is Psyched!  
<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Ho ho hold up one freaking second, here.

Rei Hino is not some sort of last-minute shopper who hasn't even brought Christmas gifts yet. Obviously, she's made them already. Is making them. Look, they're not done them. This is absolutely no comment on how complicated they are. It's just, you know...

... she ran out of craft paper at one point?

But let's not get the wrong impression here. She kind of felt like going shopping anyway, in the disgusting glutted crowds directly before Christmas. And if anyone has a problem with that statement, they can feel free to file it straight in the inbox of someone who cares. (Like the fancy decorated homework inbox/outbox combo she's working on for Ami, because cram school gives her a mountain of that stuff to work with and Rei's noticed it can get overwhelming. It's not a big deal. Anyone would notice that sort of thing.)

So here she is, in a nice Akamira-red coat to ward against the cold, a cute and warm little green dress with long sleeves and high-necked wool looped about her shoulders, stockings underneath. She hasn't yet managed to find what she's looking for, but that's fine, she wants to be out here. There's even entertainment, like that float rolling past.


/That ain't Santa./ "Oh my god!" Rei exclaims, in utter exasperation as the Executive reveals himself. "Take a holiday, already! Ugh --" She turns on a heel and flees down a side-street, not quite in time to avoid the slush coating the back of her stockings.

"Always with this, I swear, what a pain in my..." Rei grumbles, as she glances down at her communicator. She should call it in - get some fire support. (Of course she would phrase it as fire support.) But in the end, it's just Westar, they're busy with Christmas coming up...

... besides, if she called in every little problem she ran into, how could she criticise /them/ for not stepping up?

"Whatever," Rei shakes her head, making sure she's safely tucked into the shadows. "Mars Power - Make Up!"

The girl who charges out in front of the float is clad in traditional sailor fuku instead of street fashion - but like the days he's ruined, she's still a shade furious. "Westar, you /really/ need to work on your timing!" Sailor Mars accuses him, hotly. Cure Pine dives right in, the Wind Knight looses an arrow, and Steven is doing... something with a /Lion,/ but there's one thing Sailor Mars has always done to ruin the Executive's day.

She produces an ofuda, and prays over it, cutting gestures with hands and fingers: "Rin, pyou, tou, sha, kai, jin, retsu, zai, zen!" Her wrist flicks as she tosses it towards the yellow Data Diamond. "Evil, begone!"

COMBAT: Rei Hino has fully healed herself.
COMBAT: Rei Hino transforms into Sailor Mars!
COMBAT: Sailor Mars has used Evil, Begone! on Westar.
COMBAT: Sailor Mars has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Westar fails to brace Sailor Mars's Evil, Begone!, taking 63 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Exhausted applied to Westar!
<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

"It's fine," Setsuna answers simply, though she gives Buki a pleasant, good-natured sort of look at her nervous laugh, at her talk of indulgence. Obviously, Setsuna doesn't smile a lot around most people... But, well, Buki's a little different, even if Setsuna's usually understated, and sometimes forgets to emote at all.

...But the Red Future, well--"You're helping me, too," the darker-haired girl points out. "And besides, it's not like my parents are going to tell me I'm out too late."

Since... she doesn't have them.

The model is absolutely dressed for the chill, though--cold is definitely one of her banes. But not as bundled as someone might be--she has to dress for the part. A black chiffon skirt, a hint of red leggings visible over her knee-length heeled boots, a snug white coat with gold buttons, gold jewelry--earrings most obviously--and a gold scarf. The kimono style panelling in places accentuates her figure, softens the inside of her sleeves... and as always, her nails, makeup, and hair are both perfect and /highly/ feminine.

Purple works for winter.

"Indulge a little. You've got this whole world going for you," Setsuna points out to Buki when it's just them, "So enjoy it."

A few people have stopped to ask, sure--Setsuna takes pictures, is suitably mysterious, has a whole aura to her when she's On that's a little different--and her advice is good...

...Though things that really don't suit someone get a simple shake of her head before she suggests something better.

But, despite her apparent reputation for reading some futures--she does /not/ see all this coming. Oh, the parade, sure--"Oh--" Setsuna looks, too, and her hand is grabbed as she runs along to keep up, laughing despite herself. "It really is," Setsuna agrees, not quite as wondrous or cheerful--but appreciative nevertheless. It's her second Christmas, after all. "...They look like the ones you had last week, don't they?"

Santa calls to the crowd, and Setsuna turns her head towards him. There's something familiar, there, but she can't place it. "I still..."

Pause. Pause. ...Frown. "..."

She already turns towards Buki, expecting what comes--and while she's less indignant, she's already putting out her hands. "Yeah, I can--"

Setsuna ducks, a little, in Buki's arms, and then rises once the slush passes. "...Thanks," Setsuna says, gratefully, "I'll find a place to stay out of the way, all right?"

With Buki's bags and her own, the Red Future does not flee--....at least, not undignified like most. She just glances around, and spots a bench to duck behind, but before that--

"Westar!" Setsuna Higashi calls, frowning, her voice sharp. "You should've kept the beard!"

.../Then/ she ducks down behind the bench, careful, crouching. She knows the score, and...

Well, it's not like she can fight them.

<Pose Tracker> Niramo Umokeshi [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

The streets of Shibuya are chaotic and filled with people during the best of times. With Christmas just around the corner and the streets packed with those scrambling for the perfect present so close to the holiday, it's often all one can do not to be swept up by the crowds. If all goes well for Niramo, she should have the last few gifts just waiting to be wrapped. Now if she can just get to the train station...

And a Sorrowful New Year!"

It doesn't take a genius to realize that someone is up to no good, not when someone is used to such phrases. Breathing through her nose loudly in annoyance, Niramo looks down at her bookbag and match stares with her dear friend and ally. A nod shared between herself and Takk is all Niramo needs before she's rushing for the nearest alley. Wrapping will have to wait. "Tail sprout!"

Up on the rooftops runs a beige figure, pale tail whipping about as its' owner surries after to keep up from above. Leave it to evil to never take a break, even during these days leading up to one of the most cheerful times of the year. Then again, good doesn't rest as well, and there's yet another magical defender here to help save the day.

Even if it's only Westar.

Wood cutting through air can be heard by those with keen ears, the calling card of justice that preludes first one, then another tonfa twirling after that sleight. There's indeed some magic in these plain weaponry, seeing how they're able to keep up with a sleigh speeding along the streets under rocket power.

"Trying a new take on Christmas when the classic lines are superior? Westar, it's obvious you're up to snow good, there's no sleigh of hand you can do to hide your actions!" Sourisi leaps over the edge of a department store, an annoyed look in her eyes even as the corner of her lips tug with a smile.

The shopping bags held in her left hand might give a clue to her ire, as well as the overabundance of puns...

COMBAT: Niramo Umokeshi transforms into Sourisi!
COMBAT: Sourisi has used Crashing Tooth on Westar.
COMBAT: Sourisi has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Westar dodges 15 Fatigue damage from Sourisi's Crashing Tooth, taking 23 Fatigue damage!  
<Pose Tracker> Westar [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

Westar is dashing through the snow, in a no-horse open sleigh. Through the streets he goes, laughing all the way...

The joyride, mercifully for the many shoppers, isn't exactly a runaway success. The mechanized monstrosity is swiftly pursued by a pink Lion, whose roar kicks up the snow and grit through the street. Not enough to stop it entirely, but the villainous vehicle swerves back and forth somewhat wildly from the instability. Sourisi's rapid-fire slashes nip at it with every sway, slowing it down further...

And then Cure Pine drops in from above just as Fuu's arrow strikes from behind. There's a loud bang from that engine, and it billows smoke as the rapid-fire kicks start smashing home. One, two, three - and the third blow sends Westar's minion into a full-on spin, careening for a moment before coming to a halt having done a full one-eighty turn.

"Cure Pine. And...you two, again. This season of misery is just getting started, you didn't have to jump in this quickly!" With a harumph, he folds his arms over his chest, red hat slightly akimbo on his head. "It doesn't matter anyway. When everyone here sees you defea-"

It is at this point that Sailor Mars slams an evil-banishing ofuda right between the Nakwameke's eyes, eliciting a blaze of light and a mechanical roar of pain.

When the light fades, Westar is coughing from the smoke that spirals up from the much-angrier-looking sleigh. "You again?! I was trying to - never mind! On a day as important as this, things are going to be different. The greatest gift of all - will be enough misery to fill the Sorrow Gauge!"

He takes up the reins, ready to command the Nakewameke forward - but pauses long enough to yell back at Setsuna. "Eas! If I'd kept the beard on, they wouldn't have known it was me!"

Now he pulls on the reins, now the engines cough back to life, now the Nakewameke charges forward. Somehow, more slush sprays up from its runners than should have been on the streets - a veritable wave of grey to envelop Fuu and Sourisi. Cure Pine and the Steven-Lion combo get a closer view of the menace, strings of ominously clanging bells unfolding from the sides to whip out at them with a dizzying clang.

Finally, the sleigh tries to just straight-up run over Sailor Mars.

COMBAT: Westar has used Dashing Through The Slush on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Westar has used Dashing Through The Slush on Sourisi.
COMBAT: Westar has used Bells Of Misery Ring on Cure Pine.
COMBAT: Westar has used Bells Of Misery Ring on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: Westar has used Sorrowful Stomp on Sailor Mars.
COMBAT: Westar has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Sailor Mars fails to dodge Westar's Sorrowful Stomp, taking 32 Fatigue damage!  Stun applied to Sailor Mars!  
COMBAT: Steven Universe braces 19 Fatigue damage from Westar's Bells Of Misery Ring, taking 8 Fatigue damage!  Steven Universe's Block and Parry abilities activate!  
COMBAT: Sourisi cleanly braces 17 Fatigue damage from Westar's Dashing Through The Slush, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  Blind applied to Sourisi!  
COMBAT: Cure Pine counters 8 Fatigue damage from Westar's Bells Of Misery Ring, taking 23 Fatigue damage!  Cure Pine's Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!  Cripple applied to Cure Pine!  
COMBAT: Cure Pine's counterattack, Pineapple Reverse, partially gets through, doing 7 Fatigue damage to Westar!  
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji braces 14 Fatigue damage from Westar's Dashing Through The Slush, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji's Block and Parry abilities activate!  Blind applied to Fuu Hououji!
<Pose Tracker> Cure Pine [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"They really do!" 'buki had agreed, joyfully. Like every animal that visits the premises of the Yamabuki animal hospital was special to her. And perhaps - enjoying this simple parade with her - had been her way of taking Setsuna's advice - to indulge a little.

That was then though - and this is now.

The thing pivots - and Cure Pine kicks off its whirling self to slide upon the slushy street, taking up a fierce pose. "Sailor Mars! Magic Knight! It's so good that you're - Ohmigosh a Lion!"

It's pretty predictable what gets the biggest reaction out of Cure Pine - and it's the Lion.

"You know I did-! I only get a vacation when you take one!" Which means never - given Labyrinth Executives - even in Okinawa.

Cure Pine - gets a look at the ominously clanging bells alright. Because as it tries to lash her, she reaches out and tries to... /yank/ it free.

What actually happens is that her expression goes through three stays as she actually catches it in midair.

1. Oh! I actually caught it?
2. Yay!
3. ... Wait! OH NO!

In a matter of seconds the cord is pulled taut as the sleigh rushes by - and Cure Pine is holding on for dear life as the sleigh drags her behind it, bouncing her along the slush covered concrete and it gets in her face and forces her to gargle her just desserts for not thinking this through. "GUHAHHGLE-!"

However she then grasps higher up on the sleigh bell cords, and starts one grasping motion at a time, like someone climbing a rope without use of her legs works her way up in determination.

Until eventually she's high enough up that she can work her legs up to a standing position, Now skiing on the road behind it precariously as her boots toss up slush, the Pretty Cure tries to dig her feet in and salvage this by using the momentum of the sleigh to whip her around suddenly on one of its turns. She lets go, allowing that sideways uncontrolled momentum to skate her around on the icy concrete.

Leaping like a skater in a lutz jump, instead of sticking the landing on the ground, she turns in mid-air to do an aerial manuever and press off the side of a building. Then ricochet at Westar's sleigh Nakewameke, one fist extended.

"Of course we would have known it was you!"

The fist she pounds into the side - attempting to use the force of it to try to cause a rollover accident.

"Who else would do something like this?"

COMBAT: Cure Pine has used Pineapple Punch on Westar.
COMBAT: Cure Pine has finished attacking.
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

"Wh... how did you even get the part if you weren't wearing the beard?!" Steven exclaims out toward his admittance toward-- hey, its Setsuna! And other friends from nearby! Okay, so he doesn't have to do this alone! "Careful everyone! This guy is a handful!" He is really strong but also theres something about him thats really... irritating? Perhaps it is his schemes that just dont make much sense.

Lion continues his charge toward the sleigh as it rips out of its halted spot with great speed after Sailor Mars (!!!) does her coold ofuda thingy! Whipping bells from the sleigh snap out just high enough to hit Steven. The boy deflects with his shield deftly, but the impact makes him roll backwards off of lion and facedown into snow. Slushy snow. Ew.

"Pffffpffbfpfbbpppt," is roughly the sound Steven makes once he surfaces. "Yuck! Some got in my mouth..." he whines.

Lion has to skid on the snow a bit and bumps into a snowbank. It takes him a bit to get re-oriented. For the moment, Steven snags his shield off the dimensional anchor in front of his forearm, and wings it at the Nakewamek-sleigh, attempting to lodge it somewhere where it could cause problems to move on the underneath!

It isn't like the shield could break anyway. It has taken lasers, explosives, drills, fire, more lasers, more drills... you get the picture. "How's everyones holiday going anyway?" he yells, even toward Westar. The boy makes his way over toward the side of the streetway, trying to avoid getting ran over at least. Then again that thing is magical, it could probably bank onto the sidewalk if it wanted.

The boy perks up toward Cure Pine. "He's cool right? We found him in a Gem Ruin in the desert a few weeks ago! He follows me everywhere and is cool and stuff! You can pet him if you want when we are done, he likes pets!" Meanwhile Lion is scowling as hard as his fluffy face can at the speeding sleigh, waiting for a moment to make a move.

Can Lions even scowl?

COMBAT: Steven Universe has used Throw Shield on Westar.
COMBAT: Steven Universe has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Westar counters 5 Fatigue damage from Cure Pine's Pineapple Punch, taking 15 Fatigue damage!  Exhausted applied to Westar!  
COMBAT: Westar's counterattack, What Fun It Is To Ride And Punch, partially gets through, doing 5 Fatigue damage to Cure Pine!  
COMBAT: Westar fails to brace Steven Universe's Throw Shield, taking 35 Fatigue damage!  
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Mars [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"As if that's a gift anyone wants!" Sailor Mars snaps back, and does not dignify his dismay with a discussion. (Does Westar's own misery fill the Sorrow Gauge..?) Certainly she has appeared before to foil his plans with her horrible little prayer slips; she is industrious in battle.

Perhaps that explains why she stop to scowl at Cure Pine, after the ofuda strikes true. "Cure Pine!" She says, and she is just as harsh to her: "If you get distracted by some cute animal again, I swear --"

Here her glass house sparkles in the afternoon sun as the Nakewameke takes advantage of her distraction to /straight-up run her over./ With a strangled little noise Mars gives up on her chastisement just a hair too late to leap out of the way, and once she struggles up again she is, just, /covered/ in snow, with nasty tracks over her nice white uniform where the deerless sleigh rode past.

At least there were no hooves..?

And there's Steven, talking like they're having a nice, casual meetup. Sailor Mars sucks in a breath through her teeth, counts to ten, and does /not/ yell at the small child. "Oh, it's going /great,/" she says, instead. "You know what'd make it /even better?/" Twitch-twitch goes a smile which is just a little too broad as she faces down Westar, clasping her hands in prayer: "FIRE -- SOUL!"

A twisting spiral of flame erupts from her fingertips, barrelling down towards the Executive, and maybe it's not actually going great.

COMBAT: Sailor Mars has used Fire Soul! on Westar.
COMBAT: Sailor Mars has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Westar braces 17 Fatigue damage from Sailor Mars's Fire Soul!, taking 26 Fatigue damage!  
<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Setsuna Higashi left her home behind for this world, for its people... Why wouldn't she encourage the people who might take it for granted to remember otherwise?

Well, excepting all the ones she doesn't want to talk to. She doesn't bother so much doing that for those, unless she's working. Which... is more often lately. It's fine.

"There's plenty of misery already!" Setsuna calls. "It's /cold/! Why aren't you wearing sleeves or something!?"

She knows why; Executives don't have to feel the chill. ...But fairness has /never/ stopped her from trashing Westar's choices, though she is... a little less cruel about it than she used to be.

"And Mobius-sama doesn't even care about holidays!"

But--well, Buki says the same thing Setsuna--'Eas'--was planning, more or less, so she chimes in, "Who else would they think it was!? Nobody else uses yellow Data Diamonds!"

Setsuna's red eyes peek over the bench, her fingers curled around its back for stability, and she watches Lion first, then Cure Pine's graceful maneuvers. And--Sailor Mars's grat power, before...

"Sailor Mars!" Setsuna Higashi calls out from behind. "You're not supposed to let it hit you!" Then, "Try more fire!"

But, Steven did ask. How is her holiday...? Does Lion approve of pets...?

"Don't eat the snow!" she says to Steven instead. And also, "Pet the lion later!"

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

"What makes you think it's *our* defeat everyone here will see?" asks the Wind Knight - and then the sleigh accelerates again, a wave of slush kicked up that's too sudden and too broad for her to actually dodge away from. She settles for bringing her arms up - right arm forward, so that the armored bracer on her forearm can absorb the bulk of the impact.

Which, to be fair, it does.

But it doesn't stop a fair amount of dirty gray not-quite-melted snow from landing squarely on her glasses. That's the kind of thing that slows most people down a bit - and the Wind Knight is not an exception to that. (At least it's on her *glasses* and not straight in her eyes ... but until she can wipe her glasses off, it's still going to mess with her vision.)

Her bow and quiver vanish, and the green-clad Magic Knight's sword appears in her hands; the Nakewame-sleigh is roaring around too quickly for her to pull off a good melee attack, but she doesn't expect to take out two (or three) engines the same way the first one did. "You know, Westar-san," she calls out, "I'm surprised that you're still trying to collect misery after all this time! I'm sure all of Labyrinth's current members will wake up in a couple of days to see coal spilling out of their stockings, but you *might* persuade Santa-san that you're sorry if you give up right away!"

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Gentle Chiding on Westar.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has finished attacking.
<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

As Sourisi lands on solid ground, she rolls her eyes as Westar forgets everyone's name except for Cure Pine. Forgetting her name is understandable, but the Wind Knight and Sailor Mars have names that tend to roll off the tongue a bit more.

There's also Steven, but...well, Steven never went with a fancy moniker. He's just Steven...on a pink lion?! Okay, something new to add to the profile. It was like a mascot, vehicle and power up all in one!

Sourisi places her bags down just in time to grab her tonfa as they return to her. She could have just left her gifts behind once she climbed up to the rooftops, but it would take precious minutes after the fight backtracking just to find them again. With how cold it is, she's just going to risk it and keep the presents with her. It's what reciepts are for, right?

With how often these attack happen, surely return policies cover 'act of magical villain' these days.

Though maybe there's benefits to leaving her personal effects behind, as the Nakewameke calls up a massive wall of street slush to wash over them. With her bags already on the ground, all Sourisi can do is step in front of her bundles and let her body act as a shield for the sludge.

One gray mouse is wiping her eyes and face clean, though her cargo is safe from the tidal wave. Just in time to see Westar run over the Sailor Senshi with evil reindeer and rocket sleigh. She winces upon seeing the hit and run, but it doesn't seem to dampen Mars' internal fire. No puns there, but her comeback is still very effective. "The gift that keeps on giving, Sailor Mars?"

Lifting her prestine bags up, Sourisi gives chase on foot once again, clawed boots giving the Miraculous Ninja the traction she needs on powdered streets. It's thanks to the damage already done to the engine that allows her to keep up, and gives her the chance to actually respond to Steven. "Quite well, Steven, though if anyone is looking for last minute gifts, giving me a Santa imposter isn't a great one!"

Running in the wake of the sleigh isn't easy, but Sourisi is able to leap aboard onto the back of the vessal, holding on tight with her unoccupied hand. With both of her hands now occuiped with sleigh and presents, her rosewood tonfa won't be able to come into play.

That's why the Miraculous user is kicking the rockets with all her might. "Keep this up, and you might just give yourself Claus-trophia if nothing else!"

COMBAT: Sourisi has used Feral Flail on Westar.
COMBAT: Sourisi has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Westar dodges 0 Fatigue damage from Fuu Hououji's Gentle Chiding, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Westar is Quipped!  
COMBAT: Westar fails to counter Sourisi's Feral Flail, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  
COMBAT: Westar's counterattack, Crisp Kringle, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Sourisi!  
<Pose Tracker> Westar [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

It's like no one wants to let Westar rampage over hills and streets, laughing all the way.

For a brief moment, at Cure Pine's comment, Westar seems utterly baffled. He starts to speak, thinks better, and then shouts toward the pseudo-civilian watching events. "Eas! Do you know what a vacation is?"

It's a brief diversion, and by the time Westar turns back to Cure Pine she's trailing along behind him, climbing along the strands of bells. Accusations fly like punches, and as she winds up to punch the sleigh he's suddenly there with a fist to clash against hers. "You and Eas can't have known for sure that it was me! I don't normally have a beard, so-"

He's not steering while he's punching, though, and the sleigh hits Steven's shield like it's the worst speedbump in the world. The whole thing bounces, taking to the air for a brief and panic-inducing moment. Already off-kilter from the exchange of fists, Westar goes flying and only barely catches himself with the sleigh's other strand of bells. This might have worked out for the best, though, as Sailor Mars proceeds to set his former seat on fire.

"My holiday?!" With one heave, Westar hauls himself back up to stand on the sleigh's hood, facing back towards his pursuers, looking at Steven in puzzlement. "Is that why everyone in my class decided to hold some out-of-the-blue party last week? I guess that was pretty fun...wait, are you and your weird cat-thing trying to distract me?!"

The sleigh is still in motion, but has slowed down enough that Fuu's words and Sourisi's kicks manage to catch up. The right-most engine, still smoking from that first arrow, erupts in flames from the ferocious impact - but it's a belated blast, sluggish enough that Sourisi wouldn't be caught. Fuu, on the other hand, gets an extremely puzzled look from the Labyrinth Executive.

He goes as far as tilting his head, scratching at the white-trimmed red hat he wears. "...I don't get it. What do socks and train fuel have to do with anything?...hey! You're also trying to distract me, aren't you?! Nakewameke!"

The sleigh groans, flames belching - and then a hatch on the back opens up. Tiny little presents go flying out, sparkling in almost circuit-like wrapping paper. They're small, but there's dozens, even hundreds of them to fly out in the sleigh's wake. Surely, opening them early would be inappropriate...?

Oh wait.

They just contain tiny explosives that go off on impact with the ground. Way to spoil the surprise.

Both Cure Pine and Sourisi are in too close a range to get given those gifts, though, so Westar steps in with a simpler present of more violence. Sourisi he closes in with first, aiming for a simple boot to dislodge her. "Claus this, Santa that - it may be the last minute, but this is the day I had to act! Stop trying to catch a ride to my victory!"

As for Cure Pine, Westar has a sack that came with the outfit - and he swings it overhand to either club the Pretty Cure with it or maybe even catch her inside. "As for you - even Eas might be impressed if I make sure the Pretty Cure problem is all wrapped up!"

COMBAT: Westar has used The Gift That Keeps Giving on Sailor Mars.
COMBAT: Westar has used The Gift That Keeps Giving on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: Westar has used The Gift That Keeps Giving on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Westar has used Kind Of The Worst Santa on Sourisi.
COMBAT: Westar has used Hands Full Of Misery on Cure Pine.
COMBAT: Westar has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Cure Pine braces 26 Fatigue damage from Westar's Hands Full Of Misery, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  Cure Pine's Block and Parry abilities activate!  
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji perfectly dodges 34 Fatigue damage from Westar's The Gift That Keeps Giving, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Fuu Hououji's Fade and Flash abilities activate!  
COMBAT: Steven Universe braces 16 Fatigue damage from Westar's The Gift That Keeps Giving, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Steven Universe's Block and Parry abilities activate!  
COMBAT: Sourisi fails to counter Westar's Kind Of The Worst Santa, taking 32 Fatigue damage!  Westar is Psyched!  
COMBAT: Sourisi's counterattack, Forest Down, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Westar!  
COMBAT: Sailor Mars partially dodges 8 Fatigue damage from Westar's The Gift That Keeps Giving, taking 33 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Sailor Mars's Fade and Flash abilities activate!  
<Pose Tracker> Cure Pine [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"Oh can I!?" Pine's eyes light up as Steven indicates that, because she absolutely wanted to pet the Lion - but as a responsible pet handler she knows better than to do so without asking. Especially with a cat so large.

However she cringes at Sailor Mar's response. "I wasn't going to do it right now." She says - feeling a little embarrassed.

Pine suddenly at Westar's comment at the beard has a sweatdrop, "The rest of your hair is still green though... you didn't even change it."

Westar hitting the speed bump at the same moment of her punch sends Cure Pine careening backwards, "Kyah-!" And a little dizzy from it, she's caught suddenly dancing in a little bit of a panic from side to side as the presents start to become a minefield. However none of them come close.

And instead Westar swings his Santa sack like a giant club. The Pretty Cure manages to duck the opening of the sack in time, putting up her arms as the sack impacts her, smashing her way effectively, sending her sliding on the ground before her inevitable impact with a bus stop sign. The girl flattens it - or perhaps is flattened by it.

"I'm /not/ some office deadline for you to meet." The girl says - pained, as she picks herself back up. "And her name isn't Eas anymore."

She does not dignify whether she'd be impressed with an answer.

"If you want to impress her-"

The girl starts breaking into a run, the ice covered ground making her advance a little precarious. There's an almost prissy way to the way Cure Pine runs, raising her hands as she does, but...

"-then you could start by not trying to ruin her Christmas!" The sudden array of punches she offers into the side of the sled may not be particularly strong - but she's working up a tempo like she's planning on something soon.

COMBAT: Cure Pine has used The Yellow Heart on Westar.
COMBAT: Cure Pine has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Westar fails to dodge Cure Pine's The Yellow Heart, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Cure Pine is Psyched!  
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

"Woooow!" Steven replies with toward Rei, with honest-to-goodness glee. "That was awesoooome!" His gazes all starry and giddy. It was clear he was a fan of the Senshi. "I-I know that!" he says toward Setsuna! "I mean, normal snow is fine, just not whatever... that is." A gesture is made toward whatever the stewing cauldron of gutter slush is considered. He is gonna need ice cream to get that taste out later.

THe shield eventually dislodges itself from under Westar's sleigh, but looks like he hit a yule log-size bump! "Uh... well yes and no!" he answers back toward Westar. "I guess it does make a good distraction, but I hope your holiday is going okay! Besides the whole uh, terrorizing civilians thing!"

Killing them with kinda-kindness. "Yeah, Christmas parties happen a lot this time of year!" Lion scampers up to Steven to pick him back up. No way he can stay close to Westar without him. He climbs aboard his buddy.

They take off, and immediately have to contend with presents /worse/ than not including the batteries-- ones that actually explode in your face! They fall all around, and the two get rocked around hard. One in particular sends them up in the air a bit, but Lion catches his footing on the descent and they barrel on toward Westar.

"Totally!" he calls toward Cure Pine. "Soon as we're done here!" A look toward Fuu. "Yeah, she's kidna got a point! Can't you collect energy from some other emotion? Like happiness or fun or something? Why's it always gotta be bad emotions?"

As for Sourisi... "Did... did you get that joke from my dad?" he asks. "Its a really good one!"

Lion continues to superspeed run, and Steven climbs atop his mane, hanging on. He projects the shield in front of both of them. "Ramming speed, Lion!"

COMBAT: Steven Universe has used Shield Slam on Westar.
COMBAT: Steven Universe has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Westar braces 13 Fatigue damage from Steven Universe's Shield Slam, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Steven Universe is Psyched!  
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Something goes flying out of the sleigh's back hatch, and the Magic Knight of Wind pre-emptively moves away, even though she can't see what those myriad somethings *are*. She's already in mid-air when the 'gifts' start exploding underneath her, as a result - and she makes a point of *not* touching down on the ground again while things are going boom across the pavement. Or maybe, given the small size, it's closer to 'bang' than 'boom' ... ?

"Not that I'd normally object to a good fireworks display," the Wind Knight comments as she perches on a street light, "but you're supposed to wait until it's dark to start launching them. And firecrackers are more in order for New Year's - Chinese New Year's, specifically - than Christmas, aren't they?"

She leaps from her perch, descending towards the Nakewame-sleigh - and finally puts her sword to use, trying to drive it into the third of those engines and then lever her blade *down* through it.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Unorthodox Swordplay on Westar.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Westar decisively counters 15 Fatigue damage from Fuu Hououji's Unorthodox Swordplay, taking 5 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Westar's counterattack, Chestnuts Roasting On An Engine Fire, partially gets through, doing 28 Fatigue damage to Fuu Hououji!  Critical Counterhit!  
<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

Fire roars, fists fly, kicks crash and stern words bite, but the sleigh is still a Nakewameke through and through.

It makes sense that Westar is completely baffled with Christmas and the traditions that make up the holiday, and he has obviously done some research into it if he had apparently used a Santa costume. The fact Westar still had fun without actually causing sorrow is an interesting tidbit to hear!

The smoking engine combusts completely into a flaming ruin, Sourisi twisting herself around to the side to escape the flames. With the right-most rocket out, it's surely going to put a damper on this one-man parade! "I say the Wind Knight succeeded in distracting you." There's almost a smug tone to her voice, and Sourisi goes to pull herself and her bags up so to bring the fight to Westar directly!

Only for Westar to deliver a boot to the head just for her, sending her tumbling out into the snow.

It's a few moments before Sourisi is able to stop her wild fall enough to stand upright, bruised and battled but all the more annoyed. The bags are not as pristine as they once were, but the contents should be good! Hopefully. "Ow...okay, Westar just made the naughty list."

The Nakewameke is slower now, but Sourisi is trying a different approach now. A tonfa is pulled free of their clasp but isn't thrown after the speeding sleigh. Instead, Sourisi's tail curls around and taps onto the tonfa, a golden chain of light connecting between the two points. With a bit of a wind up, the battered Miraculous Ninja tosses the weapon out like the boomerang it pretends to be, chain extending all the way back to her. But it's not going for the sleigh.

As the tonfa twirls ahead of the monstrousness reindeer, Sourisi tugs hard on her tail to yank the weapon back, hoping to give them a set of reins not under Westar's control!

"It's not really common, but red and green fireworks can sell this time of year. Maybe 'fountain' fireworks?" Then again, fireworks are never legal in the city...

Steven's comment almost hurts a little. A pun, being compared to a dad joke? Of course he doesn't mean it as an insult, which is a big plus in his favor. "Nope, it's a Sourisi Original, but I think maybe I should go back to the drawing board on that one. That, and i'm starting to run out of puns!"

COMBAT: Sourisi has used Whao Dasher! on Westar.
COMBAT: Sourisi has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Westar braces 13 Fatigue damage from Sourisi's Whao Dasher!, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  Tangle applied to Westar!  
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Mars [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"Oh, gee, thanks!" Sailor Mars yells back, as Setsuna pipes up. "I'd never thought of it that way -- of /course/ I know that, come on!" At least sniping back at her proves that she's still punchy enough to fight, even after Westar blazed a trail.

To Sourisi, she points out: "If Westar's set on getting coal this Christmas," just as the Wind Knight says, "I'm more than happy to light it up." Fire is, in fact, the gift which keeps on giving, and she seems quite pleased by Steven's starry-eyed admiration, because Mars is, perhaps, a little bit of a hypocrite about battle focus. "Why, thank you!"

For instance, there's the way Sailor Mars takes a moment out of moving about the battlefield to gesture, flabbergasted, at Westar, as he wonders why they would hold a party. "HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW WHY AT THIS POINT." Her exclamation is loud, but in a uniform sort of way which might even be pleasing to a Labyrinth Executive. "You've been here for a year, do you not pay ANY attention?!"

One gloved hand slides down her face. "Oh my God I feel like I'm beating up a puppy here, /why are you like this./" Most of the Dark Generals at least /pretend/ to be competent at manipulating Earth's systems. Westar doesn't seem to even /get/ half the details about the people he's supposed to be making miserable. It's enough to almost make her feel /bad./

Unfortunately, the Nakewameke interrupts Mars's dismay, and instead of getting sad she just gets mad. "Ow-ow-ow-ow-ow!" Sailor Mars yelps as she dances between present and present, hopping between explosions just quick enough for none of them to bring her down, and notably /not/ quickly enough not to be battered by a dozen little bangs. Even if Westar is a fool of a General, that doesn't mean he doesn't /hurt./

Maybe he's even better at blindsiding them /because/ he seems so innocent.

Which is the sort of thought which leads Mars to snap, as Cure Pine is battered by a sack: "Oh, please! How impressed is she gonna be that you're clobbering her friend, huh?! Get real, Westar, if you can't even remember her name --"

'More fire,' she said.

"-- there's no way Secchan's gonna notice you!" And here, Sailor Mars takes another ofuda in hand, and chants, with lilting and deep tones: "No-maku Samanda Bazara da Senda Makaroshada Sowataya um Tarata Kanman..."

Bringing her hands together, she calls forth a spark of flame which lances through the ofuda, and this time the spiral of flame is not broad and formless. "FIRE SOUL BIRD!" Sailor Mars calls out, and it is so: the flames take the form of a broad phoenix, large enough to coat the sleigh whole in flame as it dives down. But as much as she'd like to save her allies from the fallout - that is rather a /lot/ of fire...

COMBAT: Sailor Mars has used Fire Soul Bird on Westar.
COMBAT: Sailor Mars has used Fire Soul Bird on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Sailor Mars has used Fire Soul Bird on Cure Pine.
COMBAT: Sailor Mars has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Cure Pine dodges 15 Fatigue damage from Sailor Mars's Fire Soul Bird, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Cure Pine's Fade and Flash abilities activate!  
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji partially dodges 4 Fatigue damage from Sailor Mars's Fire Soul Bird, taking 17 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji's Fade and Flash abilities activate!  
COMBAT: Westar fails to dodge Sailor Mars's Fire Soul Bird, taking 31 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  
<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

"Well maybe you know it, but you're not /doing/ it!" Setsuna sasses Sailor Mars, before she turns her eyes on the Wind Knight. "Labyrinth doesn't hang stockings!" Setsuna calls at Fuu with a frown. "And he's getting it by mail--"

She pauses, at that part. She pretends she didn't say anything. She seems not to register Sourisi's joke, though--instead, as Westar shouts at her--well, she can actually answer this one. She sets her jaw, thinks--

"It's when humans schedule a break from work!" she calls. "Usually they travel somewhere if they can--the idea is time to refresh yourself lets you work better later, like how even people from Labyrinth sleep!"

There's no anger in it, no... Well, not really anything; it's definitely a moment to remember that Setsuna, too, is kind of alien... though, "But we definitely knew it was you! And the party was definitely for the holiday!" Pause. Lion and Steven /are/ trying to distract Westar, though, Setsuna will give him that. And if this is the day he had...

Even Eas might be impressed if--Setsuna blinks, and tilts her head. "I mean, I would," she admits, "But I would also be angry! Don't giftwrap Cure Pine!" She pauses again, and then, as if confused, "...Was that a /pun/, Westar??"

She stops, though--at Cure Pine's picking herself back up despite the pain, at her defense, and she watches her. Maybe, a little prissy in her way, but...

"...Pine's already impressed me," Setsuna says, not shouting but raising her voice enough that she thinks the other girl can hear her. 'Not Eas', she says, and maybe, in a way, she always will be...

But it's nice, to be considered someone different--someone new. To have a future, instead of only a past.

There's a little of that smile let as she explains to Steven, "Only misery energy draws out what we--" No, not we, not now, and she shakes her head, "What they're looking for!" Pause. "...Besides, Nakewameke aren't really equipped for other emotions..."

Pause, as she considers Fuu. "Is that how it is...?" Hmm. Sourisi seems to have an idea of it. "

...But Sailor Mars is there, talking about her, too, and finally bringing th efire, purification and all. "Mars," she starts--and then her eyes widen. "Pine, Look out!" she calls to the others. ...All right, to Pretty Cure first--she can still be a bit selfish. But then, she does believe in Pine and Mars both...

<Pose Tracker> Westar [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

Like a little drummer, Cure Pine's punches pummel the side of the sleigh. It rocks back and forth, and Lion's high-speed impact knocks one of the runners off entirely. Sparks fly as the corner of the sleigh starts dragging on pavement - but the Nakewameke seems bound and determined to keep going where it's going. Back toward the parade, back towards the biggest crowd of onlookers, back to the maximum opportunity for misery and sorrow.

It's slowing down, but it hadn't stopped yet - until Fuu leaps in, slamming her sword into one of the remaining engines. Already destabilized from punches and potholes and pyrotechnics, the piece of technology explodes in a massive blast. The sleigh starts reeling, Sourisi's golden chain pulling control of the vehicle away from Westar long enough to crash it into a lamp post. It groans for a moment - and then a wave of flame engulfs the entire vehicle courtesy of Sailor Mars, ancillary explosions filling the air with sound and fury.

Emerging from the smoke, stomping down hard on a nearby mailbox, Westar pulls off his hat and slaps at the parts that are burning. "I don't need to change my hair! And Eas doesn't need to change who she is for you people!" He looks around, teeth gnashing, but lets out a sigh. "Right, right. Vacation, break from work...what's with this world, anyway?"

There's more comments being flung his way, more annoyance and taunting. He wheels on Steven for a moment, before sweeping an arm out to indicate all those standing in the way. "Sorrow and misery is what Lord Mobius seeks, not happiness and fun! As for you, Sailor Mars - you've underestimated me! Do you think I'm completely clueless? Today was all part of my plan - all the hopes and joys there were to ruin today in particular! I've been paying attention!"

Westar tilts his head back, folds his arms, and smirks. "How many dates do you think we wrecked on today - December 23rd, the most romantic day of the year?"

Silence. The sleigh is silent. The onlooking crowd is silent. Distantly, a hundred meters away, there's an awkward cough.

The smug look turns downfallen as the silence drags on.

"...I got the date wrong, didn't I?" Westar brings up one hand, engulfing his face in it. "Nakewameke, just...just attack them."

The sleigh surges out of the snow, veering wildly and sparking unsettlingly on its trail. It lashes out wildly with those strings of bells, whipping and smashing with wild abandon. All the damage seems to have slowed it down too much to spray slush or run people down anywhere near as well as it used to.

COMBAT: Westar has used Bells Of Misery Ring on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: Westar has used Jing-a-Ling Too on Cure Pine.
COMBAT: Westar has used Jing-a-Ling Too on Sailor Mars.
COMBAT: Westar has used Ringing Out The Old on Sourisi.
COMBAT: Westar has used Ringing Out The Old on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Westar has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji fails to brace Westar's Ringing Out The Old, taking 29 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  
COMBAT: Sourisi dodges 16 Fatigue damage from Westar's Ringing Out The Old, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Sourisi's Fade and Flash abilities activate!  Diversion applied to Sourisi!  
COMBAT: Sailor Mars dodges 9 Fatigue damage from Westar's Jing-a-Ling Too, taking 13 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Mars's Fade and Flash abilities activate!  Stagger applied to Sailor Mars!  
COMBAT: Cure Pine braces 14 Fatigue damage from Westar's Jing-a-Ling Too, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Cure Pine's Block and Parry abilities activate!  
COMBAT: Steven Universe fails to counter Westar's Bells Of Misery Ring, taking 30 Fatigue damage!  Cripple applied to Steven Universe!  
COMBAT: Steven Universe's counterattack, Repelling Shield, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Westar!  
<Pose Tracker> Cure Pine [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"Secchan..." Pine says, as if a little stunned by her saying she'd impressed her, only able to make a pleased noise after, as if overwhelmed by a little emotion.

Pine is in the middle of punching Westar's sleigh when Mars sends a phoenix effigy down - and Setsuna's warning turns her around to face it - stunned at the sight of it, she stops punching and waves her palms, "Wa-wait let me get out of the-" There's no time left. And suddenly she's leaping to the side with a shriek as it singes her hair. Pine upon landing is doing a little dance, wiggling and squirming as she pats herself out. "Hot-hot-hot-hot-hot-!" Before she complains, "Sailor Mars..." It sounds a little pouty even.

However Westar unveils his evil plan!? Westar actually made plans. Pine stops patting herself off to shoot a look at him in abject shock.

The shock starts to fade though as he mentions that he realizes it's December 23rd. And genuinely - sincerely thinks this is the holiday. Pine...

... can't help herself, she puts both of her hands over her mouth, and turns around, squatting down. Squealing laughter into her hands. She muffles it hard enough that most people probably wouldn't even have a sense that's what she's doing.

You see - Pine is too polite to ever laugh at anyone openly, even if it's Westar - she tries her best to hide it.

She tries.

Pine stands up, wipes off her eyes while her back is still turned, takes a few deep breaths to recompose herself. Then turns around.

While she doesn't want to encourage Westar - she'd never make fun of him. So she tries to sound as serious as she can manage. "We'll never-!"

She gets punished for it because the strings of bells whip at her - quick as a lash, and she pivots into trying to shoulder block it. The bells knock her back into a spin.

Dancing backwards to try to recover her footing, she says, "Even if it's the wrong day - you're still bringing sorrow and misery! And we'll stop you so Secchan can enjoy her Christmas...!" She struggles, she truly does, "... two... days... from now." Somehow - through supreme force of effort, she keeps herself from breaking back into laughter.

Taking out her Linkrun, she swipes a finger over it. A glowing flute emerges, with rainbow keys, spinning into her hands. "Heal - Harmony of Faith-" She plays the keys to the end, with prismatic light and concentric circles of sound emerging, "Cure Stick - Pine Flute!"

Taking it up however now less as an instrument and more as a magic wand, she waves it from side to side in a complex choreography, complete with a little leaping move at the end, "Nasty things - Nasty things - fly away!"

Eventually ending up with her pointing it at the Sleigh Nakewameke - "Pretty Cure Healing Prayer-" Her motions creating a diamond of warm faith and belief - wrought in gold. Then casting back her arm, she calls out- "-FRESHHHHHH!"

And then stabbing it forward, the Diamond is sent forward at the Nakewameke, before bursting into hearts upon hearts that revolve around it like electrons around an atom - save that it is in reverse. They are positive feelings trying to balance out a core of misery, which Pine struggles to keep control of, twirling her wand as she focuses upon it, "-Haaaaaa!"

COMBAT: FINISHER! Cure Pine has used Pretty Cure Healing Prayer Fresh! on Westar.
COMBAT: Cure Pine has finished attacking.
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Tactical memorandum: Engaging explosive targets successfully with melee attacks comes with a hefty price. The Magic Knight of Wind finds this out the hard way - because while she does succeed at destroying an engine, the following explosion catches her basically right in the face - well, right in the *everything*, really. The only good part is that the force of the explosion tosses her violently enough to escape most of the brunt of Mars's Fire Soul Bird.

And then the Wind Knight's impromptu flight comes to an end as her body slams into a wall (not a window, one of the few actual *walls* along this stretch of the street), with a bell-string driving her further into the architecture for good measure. Maybe not by much - but every little bit hurts.

It takes a few moments before the Magic Knight manages to move again - but move she does, prying herself out of a roughly Magic Knight-shaped crater in the wall, hissing quietly in pain, but forcing herself to stand on her own two feet ... even if she has to lean on her sword to do it. She's scorched and battered and possibly bleeding; she probably needs to make use of her healing magic to patch herself up - but if she takes the time to heal *herself* then it's time in which she won't be supporting her allies. The best she can do is take a couple of deep breaths to try and clear her head, to force the pain back from her consciousness.

Also, if she lets herself think about the pain, that might add to the misery Westar's explicitly trying to collect, so she has an extra reason. And then there are the onlookers - she has to at least *look* strong and enduring, for their sake more than for her own.

She draws in one more breath, and braces her feet and legs, letting go of her sword and allowing it to vanish. That leaves her standing on her own two feet; her legs hurt about as much as the rest of her, but they're still supporting her weight. She raises her arms, drawing back, and focuses her will; the breeze picks up around her, tousling her hair and ruffling at her clothes.

And her green eyes, not clouded by pain but clear and focused behind her glasses, turn their gaze upon Westar and the Nakewameke.

"Emerald ... !"

She draws her raised arms back, as if winding up to throw something - which is, really, exactly what she's doing: the wind intensifies around her, actually blowing some loose soot off her, and a few bits of stray debris away from her as well. It's just that what she's about to fling at Westar and his evil rocket-sleigh is nothing less than --


-- the wind itself, amplified and focused, ready to rend and erode away even solid metal.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Fuu Hououji has used Emerald Cyclone: Full on Westar.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has finished attacking.
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

Steven and Lion ram into the back of the sleigh, giving it a good shake! Those bells have reason to ring, now! They have to dodge the sleigh-runner as it skids off. "I dunno, if its original, I would copyright it, before anyone tries a Claus-action lawsuit!" Heh.

Okay /that/ was bad.

"Yeah, Mars! Show them whoWUAH--" Lion HITS the brakes on his running when that fire explosion occurs and skids, spinning out for a moment before giving chase again. Steven looks quite dizzy from the moment. "N... Not the teacups..." he moans before snapping to.

"I mean, can't they make new ones?! Like, go to the drawing board and design new ones? I bet if they did and went off good emotions there would be a lot less fighting and resistance!" A suggestion toward both Setsuna and Westar. Not that Lord Mobius would suddenly change plans for a chubbly little kid with a gemstone in his belly, but constructive criticism made some businesses what they are today.

...If filling the gauge was a business, anyway. Which if could be??? He has no idea.

The sleigh retaliates, flinging those bell-straps around like a flail. The boy puts up a curved section of a bubble shield to push it away, but it bounces right off the outside and cracks him right in the head. "HEY OW," he exclaims, holding his head. He isn't sure if the ringing he is hearing is from the bells or the headache he now has.

"C'mon Lion, let's get em!" the boy says, hopping off and charging the sleigh, as does Lion, a two-pronged attack!

COMBAT: Steven Universe has used A Boy and His Cat! on Westar.
COMBAT: Steven Universe has finished attacking.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Mars [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Sailor Mars realises, too late, that she has used /perhaps a little too much fire./ "Oh --" she exclaims, eyes widening, as the Wind Knight and Cure Pine are caught in the blast. "Cure Pine! Wind Knight!" She sounds alarmed they've gotten hurt - shocked, even. At least Westar didn't escape, either, and he came out so much worse from the holy flame.

"Geez," she mutters, self-consciously, looking aside as she scratches a hand at her cheek and tries to save face, "haven't your teams gone over 'don't get in the way of the giant fireball' yet..? E--to, that is..."

But she's saved from trying to figure out how to apologise in a cool and disaffected manner by Westar pointing out that he has a /sinister plan,/ and Sailor Mars returns her heated attention to him. She narrows her eyes as he unveils just how much he's been paying attention...

". . ."

The way her jaw falls open, ready suspicion bleeding out to stunned silence, is something which can only be illustrated with the way she fully fails to say anything in the seconds afterwards.

Westar could hear a pin drop.

Certainly, he can hear the way Mars's hand impacts with her face.

"Give me strength," Sailor Mars mutters a prayer into her palm as Westar realises his mistake. Perhaps it's a worthy prayer not just from her exasperation -- but also for the entirely practical reality that the Nakewameke isn't stopping. Jingle go the bells, and Mars springs back, but it's hardly just one lash of merriment. Back, back she scrambles, and, well...

She /could/ use more fire, here, but she just /set Cure Pine and the Wind Knight on fire,/ even if the Wind Knight's own explosive feedback took care of most of her damage. Even if she's not going to say it, it's possible that Sailor Mars feels just a little bad about that.

Just a smidgen. "How is that thing still moving?" Sailor Mars snaps instead, irate, and she produces another ofuda as she chants, cutting the nine symbolic cuts over it before she tosses it out towards the face of the beleagured sleigh. "... Evil, Begone!"

COMBAT: Sailor Mars has used Evil, Begone! on Westar.
COMBAT: Sailor Mars has finished attacking.
<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (8)] has posed.

Sourisi pulls hard on her impromptu chain-rein with both of her hands, her magically agumented strength enough to pull the sleigh off course. For a moment, Sourisi's afraid that she didn't pull like she planned and caused him to charge into some innocent bystanders, but luck is on her side, and the light pole leaves a sizable dent before the sleigh continues.

But the roar of a massive phoenix crashing into the sleigh in a powerful fireball is startling, and Sourisi stares in horror at the consequences of the assault. Sourisi pulls her gaze from the results to the caster, but doesn't say a word. The mouse girl lets her anger and fustration at the reckless action of the Sailor Senshi show clear on her face. This isn't the time to say anything she might regret, however.

The will to do what has to be done no matter the cost to others feels too close to Ye-jin Song for comfort. Her wounds of betrayal are only now just healing over, and it's too tender to pick at for long.

Westar shows that while he can cause misery, he can also break the tension before it's too much. He's been here for a year...right? How could he not yet get everything right about Christmas?

In that silence, Sourisi could swear that she hears Takk somehow facepalming...despite the fact he's intangable while she's transformed. All Sourisi can do is just hang her head.

The Nakewameke still possesses a Data Diamond, and even in it's weaken state can still be a threat. It strikes out with bells and reigns, and Sourisi struggles to keep a hold of her chain, the bags and evade at the same time. Alas, the bags pay the price this time, tumbling out of her grip even as she skips to the side, yet thankfully not pulperized by the Nakewameke. Yet.

Now with her hands free of her presents, Sourisi renews her tugging with her chain, trying to keep Westar's monster in place for the others. "I would try to be a whirlwind of puns all the time, but the Wind Knight has me beat there. Take it down, everyone!"

COMBAT: Sourisi has used Whao Dasher! on Westar.
COMBAT: Sourisi has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Westar fails to brace Steven Universe's A Boy and His Cat!, taking 23 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Westar braces 24 Fatigue damage from Sailor Mars's Evil, Begone!, taking 20 Fatigue damage!  Exhausted applied to Westar!  
COMBAT: Westar fails to brace Sourisi's Whao Dasher!, taking 25 Fatigue damage!  Tangle applied to Westar!  
COMBAT: Westar fails to brace Fuu Hououji's Finisher, Emerald Cyclone: Full, taking 106 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Westar is unable to keep fighting!  
COMBAT: Westar fails to brace Cure Pine's Finisher, Pretty Cure Healing Prayer Fresh!, taking 243 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Westar is unable to keep fighting!  
<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Setsuna notices Pine's reaction--but she doesn't draw attention to a girl she knows can be shy. She smiles at her--but... She is not smiling about the fire. She figured they'd be fine, but, even so... Well, when Mars mutters, Setsuna prepares to say something--

...Okay, she too is very silent. She doesn't face palm but she opens her mouth, and then... clloses it. "Westar..."

He--he got the date wrong. he facepalms. Setsuna is not actually able to answer him, not immediately. She goes for other things.

"Mobius-sama doesn't change his plans," Setsuna tells Steven, explaining without malice because--well, she knows this from personal experience.

The magic flies--the attacks come, and Setsuna starts to lift her head above her hiding place,watching the things that she never quite gets over seeing. And Pine... Well, Pine is fighting here for /her/. Not even laughing, even. And it's true that Westar did it...

'Two... days from now. "Ah..."

"They're... pretty strong," Setsuna starts to Mars, by way of explanation, but... "I mean..."

She pauses. She thinks. She thinks of the holiday coming, of what evveryone has said about it, of all the music she keeps hearing...

"...It /was/ a good plan," the former Executive admits, rising from behind her bench, glancing to the side, to a ruined bit of road.

<Pose Tracker> Westar [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

They're laughing at him. Westar can tell, and frankly he can't even complain about them too much. Getting the day mixed up...it's an embarrassment. Even if Labyrinth doesn't really have holidays worth keeping track of, he doesn't really have any excuse.

A boy and his lion tackle the sleigh, tilting it up onto its one remaining runner. An evil-sealing talisman slaps onto its face, again detonating hard enough to launch it back up onto one corner - whereupon Sourisi's golden chain holds it in place, unable to twist or swing or make any kind of counter-attack.

Fuu's cyclone smashes into the pinned sleigh like a hurricane, ripping it off of the ground and hurling it high into the air. The Nakewameke groans, smoke sizzling from the Data Diamond it sports as it begins to fall - any hope of it surviving impact seems forgone. It never touches the ground, though, as Cure Pine's shining diamond of Belief smashes into it in mid-air, engulfing it in purifying light.

From the blinding light, there's a faint sound of fizzing, of evil bubbling away, of wrongs being put right. Labyrinth's dark power sizzles away, and the light spreads out - straightening a dented lamp post, cleaning slush from the sides of the road, and leaving an intact sleigh safely alone on the ground in its former decor.

Westar slowly drags his hand down his face as his Nakewameke ceases to exist, letting out a forlorn sigh. He looks up at the assembled group, battered but victorious - and then at the cheers of the distant crowd. The comments, the laughter, the mockery - he doesn't challenge it, doesn't defend himself. He starts to walk off, pausing only at Setsuna's words.

"...thanks. I just screwed it up...and, well." A sour look crosses his face, and he turns back to those who have opposed him, donning his red hat once more. "...congratulations, Pretty Cure and associates. You've won this day - so I guess I'll say it again. Merry Christmas to all!"

He leaps, then - straight from the ground to the top of a two-story building, and calls down once more before running off. "And next year, I'm getting a calendar!"