2019-04-17 - Bait or Cast? And Another Looming Question, Too

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Title: Bait or Cast? And Another Looming Question, Too

A Nakewameke attacks, and one of Earth's defenders responds to the threat. Unfortunately, Mikoto is there, too. She does something she regrets, and not even Yumi can reach her.


Mikoto Minagi, Yumi Ohzora, Westar


Shitamachi Low City - Uminari Seaside Park

OOC - IC Date:

2019-04-17 - 2015-04-30

.**************************** Shitamachi Low City *****************************.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Uminari Seaside Park +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
 Brisk breezes with a salty-sharp tang dance over crisply trimmed grass,
 blowing frisbees off their course, tugging playfully at ribbons, and
 generally being an omnipresent reminder of the nearby ocean. The lawns are a
 popular place to think and read, but especially to picnic and play,
 populated with various curious statues and objects d'art, and even a clean,
 bright playground that features a gigantic penguin-shaped slide well-beloved
 by all children in walking distance. A paved boardwalk follows the rocky
 shoreline unobtrusively, except where it rises into a red brick bridge to
 cross a nearby river gradually injecting itself into the sea.

 Following the sparkling, sedately flowing river inland a ways along any of
 several winding, shaded paths, clever leeves transform it into a clear lake
 perfect for rickety rowboats. The sunny lawns give way to larger and larger
 trees, filled with birdsong and the soft chirps of furry wildlife, and the
 understory is replete with flowers, tended in both raised beds and lovely
 meadows. Reasonably comfortable wooden benches dot the landscape, and
 occasionally the path emerges partway over the water, railings enclosing as
 cozy a place with as romantic a view as anyone could hope for.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Players +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Toby Fox - Waterfall https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v712NiVK5uY

The day is overcast, as if considering rain, and Mikoto finds herself grateful the sun is not shining now. It feels too incongruent when she is sad. She finds her way from the dormitories and to the train, and it rattle-grinds into the city.

There, she finds Infinity; there, she finds Yumi.

And there is something pleading in the way she tugs at her, clutches tightly to her side. Something scared; something sad. Regrets pour from her like water trailing down a deer-chaser, and each makes as loud a clunk.

She does not quite manage to say what she did wrong.

She just manages: "Mai yelled at me."

There are times when each girl is called on to embark upon an emergency outing, and this Saturday sees Yumi and Mikoto setting out to the city, because Mikoto asks for help as well as she can, and Yumi knows her well enough to realise.


Nishitama is a place with too many obligations to relax in; Uminari has no such conflict of interest. The seaside park doesn't have as many visitors, with the weather looking poor, but there are still plenty of people willing to brave the clouds for a walk. The lakeside, regardless, is quiet; the trees which grow here serve as noise-breaks, and they create a microcosm of nature. It would take a larger commotion than couples walking down the paths to shatter this peace.

Walking is, of course, more an issue to one girl than the other. Luckily, there are plenty of benches to rest on, easily big enough for two.

"... Mai was really angry," Mikoto volunteers, finally, looking down at the water. "Never seen her like that..." Mai has gotten loud before, of course, but it was for Mikoto's sake. She's as overcast as the weather, thinking of it.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

If Mikoto doesn't want sun, she's chosen the right time of year for it. June is around the corner... and Yumi Ohzora knows what that means. ...But she also knows what that little look in Mikoto's eyes means, what the way she talks means, and...

Old plans are set down with a text as Yumi throws on a jacket.

There's a lot of places in the city that are good.


Nobody gave the cat trouble on the train. --That is, the cat padding along behind Mikoto and Yumi, casually following along on a trip through the park. Tama has been fairly quiet, thus far, not just because they're in public... but also for that reason. For now, Yumi is next to Mikoto, looking out at the water, thinking. Tama has taken up position nearby.

"...Yeah, yelling's the worst, huh?" Yumi says with some sympathy, looking to Mikoto. "I'm sorry--I know it's hard arguing with your friends. Do you..."

"Do you want to talk about what happened?"

<Pose Tracker> Westar [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Nakewameke Appears! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Le-bm1_ZL4

It's a quiet day by the lakeside, which makes it perfect for certain activities. There are a few couples out and about, some people hiking, some people just desperate for a glimpse of sun instead of studying.

And then there's this group, seated on some rocks by the shore.

"Now, the real trick is your bait. You need something that will entice the fish, see? The right food will bring 'em sniffing around like a bloodhound." One old man adjusts his straw hat, peering up at the clouds, and carefully inspecting a bucket of worms.

"Hogwash!" Another old man spits ferociously - toward the shore, never disturb the fish - and shakes a colourful lure. "It's all about the casting! Ya need to arc your lure into the sky, lad, so as to trick the little fish - it's about what they see, what they feel in the water!"

The third member of the trio is much younger - a first-year university student, having taken a bit of time to relax from a hard day's studies. He has a puffy orange jacket that was likely made for just this activity, a broad-brimmed Tilley hat, and is chewing on a straw.

He's been watching his little lure bob on the lake for twenty minutes while this argument goes on.

Nothing is biting.

"...while relaxing, this is...kind of boring. The fish don't seem to like my lure or my bait..." He frowns, jiggles the rod, and sees an absolute lack of response out on the water. As the two beside him argue more, he stands up with a sigh. "Maybe I need to change my strategy."

The two old men turn to him, asking in unison. "And how's that, sonny?"

"Switch! OVER!"

A cape billows in the wind as the two old men stare at the Executive of Labyrinth revealed before them - and without further wasting of time, he slaps a yellow diamond onto the hilt of his fishing rod. There's an explosion of smoke, visible all round the lake, and a spindly monster emerges with glowing eyes.

Spindly to the extreme - it's nearly skeletal, made up of thin flexible rods, with wire gleaming along every limb. Sparkling crystals dangle almost like flails from both 'hands', shining in what light makes it through the clouds, and a yellow diamond is prominent on the broad metal version of the Executive's hat.

Yes, Westar still has his fishing hat.

"Hahaha! Cry more, wail more - for this day belongs to Westar, Denizen of Labyrinth! Now, Nakewameke - catch all the fish in the lake!"

The monster strikes a pose, arching to fling one of those shining crystals high into the air. "CAST OFF!"

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

In this moment, Mikoto is not thinking of hospital visits and miscommunication.

Perhaps she'll realise the cruel little ironies later.

Right now her mind is aflood with one girl's displeasure, and the one girl Mikoto feels she can go to when all her allies and even her foes are so taken by grief and heaviness. She is slow to speak; she always is. Mikoto hums, uncertainly, as she glances back up to Yumi. "I..."

There is guilt written in her eyes, as if she has done something terribly wrong. It is not the expression of someone who feels wronged; the way her lips fall and her brow rises, she is the one at fault.

She never gets a chance to explain.

It is difficult for most people to interrupt the peace of a wooded lake; for an Executive, it is just another day of the week. Smoke explodes outwards and instantly Mikoto stiffens, gaze darting back to the lake. She growls warning, as she straightens in an instant and grasps the strap of her black case. "Yumi," she says, sharp-edged, and her name is a request for guidance as she glances back to her with eyes which are not gentle or sad any more. There are normal people here. She doesn't know how to proceed, what she may do.

But Yumi does, and Tama does, and she sees something there which makes her nod. She draws Miroku in a smooth motion, and focuses on the spindly stick-insect rod monster before them. It only takes a moment for her to determine the proper angle of approach - and then she's charging, and screaming, and perhaps it's a familiar sort of war-cry to someone who has faced down that black blade before.

This time, at least, it is something which comes down on Nakewameke instead of threatening his own flesh, as she charges forward and brings her blade about in a horizontal swing which threatens to fell those too-thin legs it balances on.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

She is at fault--that's what Yumi sees in Mikoto's face. ...Is it true? Maybe, or maybe not... But Yumi does want to help--she wants to know, she wants to listen, and like she told Mikoto, she wants to know. But--

There's shouting; that can be ignored. There's more than shouting--the explosion hits, and Yumi blinks, turning to look what happened. "What--"

She starts, and as she looks at the monster rising... "Now!?" Yumi calls in something like anger, though who would it be at? She has to set it aside, though, because Mikoto asks her what to do. There are normal people...

'Catch all the fish in the lake!' As this is called, Tama pauses in place, freezing, her black fur bristling as she suddenly looks up sharply. Her green eyes narrow at the Executive of Labyrinth, her ears flattened. "...Unforgivable," she announces darkly in the voice of a mature woman. "Yumi! Mikoto! You have to stop him!"

"Right," Yumi says. "We've got to stop him!"

The people, naturally, are starting to flee--so to make sure they have the chance, "I'll be right there!"

A chant, an incantation, and a flash of green light; in moments, the Witch of Lost Ivy stands in place, staff in one hand and broom set down with the other as she moves forward--and sails up into the air, towards the super-tall monster's head.

"Westar!" Yumi calls. "What are you even going to do with that many fish!?"

As she calls out, she points her staff--and from the crystal at its head, a white-edged beam of green crackles forth, an opening salvo of purifying magic straight for the monster. "Hey--" She spots the old men. "--Hang on! I'm coming!"

<Pose Tracker> Westar [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> An Incident Occurs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IT0bbcrDM0U

The Nakewameke is a curious creation, made of wire and rods and the essence of 'fishing', as seen through the lens of a foreigner to Earth. It's slightly alien, slightly mechanical, and slightly menacing.

Maybe extremely menacing, for those cats who wanted fish for themselves.

It arches its everything, tensing up to cast a lure into the lake. What it might do with such a device is a mystery, one briefly stymied by Tama's objection and Yumi's question. From his position on the shore, Westar holds up a hand to stall his creation, turning to the cat.

"That-" He pauses for a second, frowning. There's a purpose to fishing, right? Or is this another of those Earth tasks that needs to be done for no reason? "-that's none of your concern! Labyrinth has plans for this lake's fish - so you shouldn't get in our way!"

Nailed it.

Before the Nakewameke can follow through on its orders, though, Mikoto smashes into the scene with her merciless blade. It cleaves cleanly through the legs - and the shorn pieces shatter from the tension, the result somehow flinging the Nakewameke high into the air.

Yumi is able to follow it into the sky, though, and her magic sears at the creation with an unnatural hiss. It curls up in defense, rolling with the impact - and then flinging its arms and legs wide in mid-air with a cry. "NAKEWAMEKE!"

Somehow, it's whole again - though a keen eye might notice that its torso is a little bit shorter. Maybe it can shuffle its pieces around?

In midair, it twists suddenly, swinging one of those many-faceted crystals at Yumi like a giant flail. Whether or not it's able to clip her in the air, it's falling towards Mikoto - and it curls itself into a ball again to smash into the ground, rebounding away from the shore with a series of flips. Agile, it bounces on what could be its 'feet', and almost beckons to the sword-wielder.

The shore is quickly clearing of people, a general panic setting in. The old fishermen are still caught up in their argument, one pointing at the strange monster's lures as if that's a winning argument, while the other stomps next to the bucket of worms. Ignoring the two, Westar strokes his chin, purses his lips, and finally nods. "Be careful, Nakewameke - that girl with the sword is kind of ruthless! Better keep at a distance." With a nod, he starts slipping along the shoreline, to get a...slightly more distant vantage point.

He would have taken a boat out to the middle of the lake, but a whole bunch of them were mysteriously...made unusable last month. There's a shortage.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

"Stop him," Mikoto echoes, in confirmation. She nods, with an affirmative grunt.

She has heard; she has understood.

Westar tells them not to get in his way, but Westar is not the person here Mikoto is listening to. She charges, heedless of his warning, and Miroku bites through. The Nakewameke cheats, of course. Monsters rarely act like flesh ought.

At least it is better than some of the monsters she has fought.

Her eyes widen as she sees it menace Yumi in the air, narrow to angry edges as it crashes down. A stick oughtn't bounce; it bounces. Mikoto snarls, as it gestures to her, and charges forward again.

Westar's estimation is correct, built on experience. Mikoto is an engine of destruction which runs exclusively at sword's length. It is safest to be far from her. For the time being, he will find himself unchallenged as he acts on his own advice.

It is not that she has forgotten him. The Nakewameke simply threatens Yumi, and Mikoto cannot allow it. It is the threat foremost in her mind, in this moment.

But Westar is incorrect if he thinks his monster is the only thing capable of springing into the air. At first, yes, Mikoto chases the wire-fibreglass-lure amalgamation on foot, and each time it manages to bounce out of range before she reaches it. She quickly learns its erratic methods, realises the weakness of her approach. She winnows her thoughts to action and reaction, as she focuses entirely on stopping the thing in front of her.

And with a terrible roar Mikoto leaps up, to meet the Nakewameke with an overhead strike which comes from above, instead of below.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Stop him! It's a simple instruction--but it seems to Yumi to be important, in the moments. And Westar talks back, naturally...

Tama growls, in obvious anger, slinking behind the bench to hop up onto its edge, a good vantage point for giving advice that isn't directly in the danger. And this--

"Of course it's my concern! If you overfish the lake below replacement levels this area's whole ecosystem goes sour!"

What possible use could they have for that many fish??? ....Well, Yumi doesn't know. Labyrinth presumably has people in it. Maybe??

Yumi, of course, starts out far from Mikoto herself. The monster is a great threat, because... somehow it just, launches upward, and she blinks. "Flying was supposed to give me the advantage--"

"Aah!" Yumi throws out a hand, abrubtly, green runic circles bursting into being around her to collect into a shield against the flail, which cracks against them, its force sending her spinning down... but not smashing her out of the air. "Owww-""

She hisses, straightens her shoulders, looks up again. "Close. Mikoto-chan!" Yumi calls. "Be careful! It's faster than it looks!"

Surely, the fact that she's shouting directions to Mikoto the same way Westar is to his monster is a coincidence.


Yumi notices the men, and then frowns, looking between them, to the monster... and then--"Rising from the earth, return to the ground that which was stolen--"


Yumi throws out her hand and her curse, and vines begin to erupt from the ground, spectral, to try to tangle and slow the monster by its... leg?

Yumi, herself, is suddenly out of Mikoto's sight by the time she finishes casting though, blocked by line from trees, as...

Well, as she starts diving down, straight towards the old men.

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

The Nakewameke is, indeed, faster than the norm for Westar's monsters. It's also a lot jumpier - the glowing eyes beneath the brim of its hat seem almost wary of the sword-wielding girl before it.

The lures dangling from its arms sparkle in the light, weaving out in the odd tentative strike. Just enough to buy it a chance to jump again, just enough to mask which direction it's going - just enough for it to drag this chase out and out and out and why won't it hold still.

Perhaps it had a plan - perhaps it was just stalling to cause trouble. Regardless, its run is arrested by the forgotten Witch by the shore - bindings of ivy grasping it by the legs, holding it in place. It retaliates by whipping its sparkling flails out in wide arcs nearby, to try to catch the impending charge of Mikoto Minagi.

Too late, does it realize it forgot to look up.

There's a sound of splintering, a sound of tearing, a sound of shattering - a sound of rending, as Miroku cleaves cleanly through the Nakewameke's arm and leg, obliterating the lure at the end. Shards of crystal fly out from the impact, dancing in the daylight enough to be utterly dazzling for a moment.

"Nakewameke!" Westar's voice is positively distant now - he couldn't find a boat, but he's calling from a small dock nearly a third of the way around the lake. "You'll need a better vantage point to cast your lure properly!"

The arguing old men look up from their debate, frowning. They look at each other, considering the command and the Executive's words.

"Well, he's not wrong."

"I mean, it's nefarious, but it'll get a better cast from high up."

"But does it have decent bait-"

"Would you drop that already?!"

There's a sound of snapping, a vicious twang - as the Nakewameke's other leg is sacrificed to retaliate against Mikoto. Still tangled in ivy, it goes from bent to broken in a flurry of wire and fibreglass, lashing out to entangle Mikoto in a fishing-line snare.

That same sacrifice hurls the remaining portion of Nakewameke - a little over half of what it began as - high into the air. It curls into a ball as it flies, stretching out with a new set of arms and legs as it lands on a treetop perch. It's about half as tall as it used to be, and it's gone from two crystal flails to one - but it still seems ready to fight.

A moment - and then it arches its arm, flinging that lure out into the lake to see what's biting.

Far below the Nakewameke's perch, one of the old men frowns. "...still needs to work on its casting technique."

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Be careful, Yumi says, because Yumi cares about Mikoto, too. She nods, without taking her eyes from the too-fast thing, with a grunt of affirmation. Mikoto hears her.

She does not stop to think on the similarities, between Westar's battle-direction and the girl she follows. She does not linger on it because it is a distraction, in the middle of a fight.

'That how other girls fight? All that thinking? Slows Lera down.'

What she needs to know is that Yumi has trapped the monster with her magic. Yumi is out of sight, but Yumi stays high above, so it is not so strange to not be able to see her all the time. Mikoto can't look up, because Mikoto is looking down, down at the Nakewameke she is falling upon with all the force and fury of a freight train.

This is the violence Westar had to abjure, by the side of the river.

Perhaps it is no wonder he ran.

Miroku carves in, carves through, and by the end buries itself three inches in the ground where the Nakewameke stood. She does not hear old men pontificating, as she tries to wrest her blade from the hungry earth. As she hefts, the monster lashes out with its other leg, wraps her in wire and bending-bending metals, and perhaps it is notable - the way she cannot escape without her sword.

Perhaps it is a stranger's guess at a net, an alien's best approximation of line and lure; nevertheless, for precious moments, she is trapped. She snarls frustration as she struggles, an edge of anxiety accentuating her anger to a fine point. Finally she pulls Miroku up - uses its edge to pull at the wire until it snaps away, leaving a faint lattice against the parts of her skin not obscured by a winter uniform which is too warm for the season.

Those terrible golden eyes dart across the lakeside to find the Nakewameke again, and Mikoto screams as she charges forward. It may be assured, at first, that its wary approach has saved it, as she does the same thing she has done so many times before this fight.

But it is perched in branches, and branches tangle, too.

Mikoto's rampage does not take her up to the treetop. She barrels forward towards the trunk, and her blade carves a deep gash in the ground as it swings about in revolution - and slams into wood which has grown for centuries. She cannot hear criticisms of casting technique, now. All she hears is the blood pounding in her ears.

'Maybe, but... I'd rather be slow, if it meant doing something I'd regret. And I think regrets slow me down a lot more than thinking.'

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Fast, jumpy--not what something that big is supposed to be at all! But then, while you'd think Yumi would know that, fighting Ogres... It doesn't make it easier to deal with. So Yumi focuses, as best she can, on handling a distraction and then--Well.

"Oh, no you don't!" Yumi calls about the Nakewameke and its lure. But she's getting closer, closer, closer to the old men in their debate.

In another life, Yumi had told Mikoto a lot, about her feelings of the importance of the elders of their society--of what they can learn from them. Does that feeling influence why she's working so hard here...?

Snap, snap, snap, there goes the monster.

Yumi is relying on Mikoto--in this, no, it isn't that different. But it is, in others. Yumi is so often high above, and Tama, in turn, is the one able to see some of her position, to see the sheer savagery with which Mikoto strikes. She spots Mikoto trapped; she spots the charge. She narrows her eyes, watching, careful--

And then she sees a flash of black amidst the green, her keen eyesight spotting something that even Mikoto's cannot in the moment, at her angle. The trunk is carved, and at that same moment--

Tama shouts, "Mikoto! Stop--!"

Yumi glances up, just in time to see the trees starting to fall, and the men before her. She's not actually strong enough to pick them up and move them. "You two--"

Yumi dashes above them, turning mid-air and hanging onto her staff as hard as she can. She starts to trace a rune, mid-air, jagged, hasty--

The trees come down, and there's a terrible crack as their trunks impact green magical shielding, strain--

And then the shield shatters, the girl in black disappearing underneath the falling ancients even as the old men are safe from all but the crash of leaves and dirt and wind from the fall nearby.


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

Watching from afar, Westar is almost smug. His Nakewameke may be fairly badly damaged, but it's claimed the high ground - there's little way the scary girl with the scary sword can approach without being open to attack.

He's admittedly still not sure what to do with all the fish they're about to catch, but that's a problem Soular can probably solve.

The Nakewameke, for its part, is very secure - until it isn't. There's a horrible crack, ancient wood splitting in an instant, and the fishing monster's perch begins to topple. Frantically, it goes to reel in its line, so that it can spring away - but its reels and poles are too damaged from the battle, too slow to respond. By the time it can leap, it leaps in the wrong direction-

And slams, face-first, into one of the boulders by the lake.

There's silence in the wake of a crash, in the wake of the sound a falling tree makes. As Tama cries out, there's a faint sizzling sound - and the Nakewameke rolls over to reveal that its Data Diamond shattered on impact. Ugly black smoke streams away from the monster, until nothing but a broken fishing pole remains.

So ends the Nakewameke.

The old fishermen stare at the fallen tree, looking at each other in shock. Death came shockingly close, and as one they collapse backward to sit heavily on a nearby rock. "Is...is the young lady..."

"What were you thinking?!" Still distant, still almost unreachably far at that distant dock, Westar's voice carries across the lake. "I knew you were ruthless, but to sacrifice your comrade to stop mine?!"

If she peers, and if she cares, Mikoto might see Westar's arms folded as he trembles in a near-fury. "That's low! I expected better of Earth's defenders - so take your victory. I hope it was worth it."

The Executive storms off without another word. It's not his job to clean up this mess, or see who's left standing - only to gather misery and sorrow.

At this rate, he'll be put out of a job.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Icon for Hire - Off With Her Head https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8heQ0t48SL8

Maybe Mikoto would have cared, if she thought of them. But there is a certain winnowing, to the reduction of civilians to targets, from friends to flesh. Certainly she knows, intellectually, that they ought to be protected. Certainly there is still that part of her which abhors the unfairness of hurting them when they cannot fight back.

But there is so much she has sacrificed, on the altar of her loved ones.

She had to learn to ignore them when she knew they needed help.

There are consequences to a lesson like that.

Someone says, 'stop.'

But she does not recognise Tama, the way she does Yumi.

She does not stop.

The trunks are felled; the trees fall. Too late, Mikoto realises she heard a voice, there. Too late, she sees the characteristic flare of green light, and suddenly she is not looking at the Nakewameke as it leaps in disorientation. She is looking at a shield which strains - and shatters.

Now she hears the old men. Now she understands why. Now she puts the pieces together, too late.

Too late.

Yumi is a good person. Yumi didn't want them to get hurt. Mikoto was going to hurt them. Mikoto always hurts them. Mikoto wasn't trying to. That doesn't mean they don't get hurt. Yumi got hurt. Mikoto hurt Yumi. Mikoto

turns her face to the dock, horror etched on the arc of her brow and the gape of her jaw. Her breath falls fast-fast-fast past open lips, falling like old old branches on a girl she loves so much, and her eyes are not so sharp any more.

"Nn--" a little shake of her head, as she takes a step backwards, knuckles white against a silk-threaded hilt, "no, I - I didn't want - not Yumi --"

Stumbling she scrambles back, with trembling hands as she gropes for the strap of her sword-case and hides a blade which does not care who it hurts. Hitch goes her chest as she blinks and blinks and blinks. "Please," she whispers, low and strained.

For her pleading she is offered a victory.

It is ashes in her mouth.

She knows with certainty that he should not have expected better of her - because Earth's defender is currently pinned underneath bark and leaves.

The girl still standing isn't that.

She doesn't know what she is.

Except that she is something which hurts her friends.

A quiet sob shudders through her, and she backs away another step, two, the back of her leg impacting with the bench where they sat. Where Yumi took time out of her day to help Mikoto with her problems, just because Mikoto asked. Where Yumi cared so much that she was willing to listen, that she wanted to know.

Yumi cared so much, and Mikoto hurt her.

Did she not listen? Did she not listen to Yumi telling her to be careful?

Certainly she does not listen to any requests to stop and fix the problems she has caused, as she turns and runs at desperate pace.

It will rain, later.

She will not seek shelter.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Reply: Remember Me - The Birthday Massacre - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13FCZCMbihs

Accidents happen. ...Nobody can always be aware of everything; nobody can be sure that they'll never make a mistake. Bad things happen. How often has Yumi said something like that? How often has she, just in the last couple of days, had to think that?

...Sometimes, there's no averting the bad thing; there's only weathering it. But sometimes... Sometimes--

Something can be done.

For a girl who is used to being easily hurt by the simplest of things, it's surprisingly easy for Yumi to put the safety of these men over her own. Or, it was. And as the silence comes...

The monster disappears. The fallen trees are still fallen; the ground torn is still torn. It was not a sparkling light that ended this threat.

Tama is already in motion, when the silence comes--she leaps from the bench, sprints across the grass, making her way around the lake. She does not move to Mikoto, now--she does not scold her, she does not look at her.

Westar's anger rolls over the lake, as surely as Mikoto's protests. She scrambles; she asks. But she isn't given anything. The black cat reaches the pile of fallen tree matter, and the old men can see her dive into the wreckage.

...It's not until after Mikoto starts to turn, and run, that a faint, warm green light washes away from that pile, and a hand--an ordinary hand--extends out. "M...Mikoto-...." Yumi coughs, hard at first and then wetly, as she starts to stand--and then falls, hitting the ground again before she's more than halfway up with a thud, an uncomfortable posture and an obvious daze, scratched and hurt--

And without Mikoto.