2019-04-18 - Black Blade Reflection
|Title: Black Blade Reflection|
Endo Naoki cannot wage war half-way.
Shitamachi Low City - Keiyou Industrial District
| OOC - IC Date:|
2019-04-18 - 2015-05-30
.**************************** Shitamachi Low City *****************************. *+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Keiyou Industrial District +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Stretching across eight districts, Keiyou Industrial Zone is like a small city unto itself, consisting primarily of factories, power plants, warehouses, refineries, and other heavy industry. Boxy, soot-stained buildings, multi-story chemical tanks, and baroque masses of pipes and girders dominate the architecture, and a distant clanking or hum can be heard at all hours of the day throughout most of the district. Cranes, forklifts, and other heavy equipment are common in this area, as are metal gratings exhaling steam, dizzying catwalks and ladders, and tall stacks of shipping crates. The buildings closest to the bay are often the most presentable, so as to avoid besmirching its beauty overmuch. The district cannot help but encroach upon the bay, however, for it is its lifeline, providing thermal power, naval shipping, and copious quantities of water for industrial purposes. Keiyo long ago outgrew the land allotted for its uses, and so artificial islands have been built up to permit its continued expansion. Since its relatively low potential for civilian casualties (particularly at night) appeals to magical girls, and its profusion of powerful industrial machinery appeals to their foes, combat is not infrequent in this area. *+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Players +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed. <SoundTracker> Akira Yamaoka - Acceptance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qm8sXNz7Bos
... I don't know what's wrong with me, and it's really scaring me.
... I'm trying my hardest, but I keep being told to do more.
... I want to make it better, but I just keep making it worse.
... I don't know what someone like me can do.
... help me.
There are a hundred things she could say.
She does not say any of them.
Quitting time is announced with shrill whistles and bells, up and down the Keiyou coastline. As the supervisors leave, so too do their workers, hanging up hard-hats and vests. Forklift keys are stored securely, in key-cabinets with a picture of a loved one askew. She went missing, one day, when she went to the museum. The police have never been able to give him an answer.
Perhaps less people go missing in Ueno, these days.
One by one or groups of twos and threes; the people who keep those factories running day after day go home for some well-deserved rest. Some have husbands, wives, children. Some are too devoted to work to find love. They'll upload clips of their dogs doing funny little dances when they get home. They will turn on the news and marvel over the quick reconstruction of the airport, a testament to the enduring spirit of Tokyo City. They will visit friends, and put salarymen to shame at the bar.
What precious normal lives they lead, these hundred-hundred civilians.
Work-boots splash through the puddles of rain which broke earlier in the day, clouds finally gathering and letting out one last Spring shower before Summer takes hold. Some are quite deep; the rain was sudden, brief, and intense. It has dried for a few hours now, but the warmth which leeched that liquid away can't last.
Behind those clouds, staining them a horrific strain of red, the sun sets on the horizon and the activity in the Industrial District.
It is as if there is a gash in the sky.
The ocean knows its meaning, reflecting the light through gentle waves.
One girl was caught in the rain.
She didn't care to seek shelter.
Twilight paints the world a pale shade, as every colour dies to purple and black. Quiet hangs over the district like a guillotine. It is broken by a rat snuffling through cardboard in search of a meal, by the scuttling of cockroaches around a broken shipment insufficiently cleaned. In the distance, a seagull cries out.
They are not the only plagues here.
A great crane stands as testament to humanity's triumph, looming in shadows like some vast prehistoric beast. Below it rest metal boxes with companies painted along the side, locked and waiting for the next day's work. Look up, past the hook which dangles; there are more machines in the distance. There is a warehouse under construction.
It is half a structure, as if its skin has been flayed partway along its flesh to expose the heart beating underneath. One half is more completed than the other, rudimentary floors and walls; they have not finished filling out the details, and the other half remains steel beams and scaffolding.
No one should be here, any more. The whistle blew. They've all gone home.
Nevertheless, something is moving.
<SoundTracker> Yuki Kaijura - HiME Star ~Alone~ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=je3rz_PuftA
Mikoto leaps from beam to beam, until she comes to rest on the incomplete upper floor. There are better places for her to search; more fruitful places. She can pretend the vantage point will help her. She can pretend she has not come here to be alone.
Her braids are still damp against her face, hair in dishevelled clumps. She does not carry a comb. It will remain a mess until she returns to Ohtori. Under the long sleeves of her winter uniform she shivers, lightly, as the sun's warmth fades away.
Perhaps, she thinks, with thoughts made slow by grief, she should go home and have dinner, like she always has.
But Mai yelled at her.
Mikoto hates the yelling most of all.
It reminds her how small she really is, how powerless. She wants to make the people she loves happy, and she knows what it means when they're mad at her instead. She hasn't done what she's supposed to do. She made them mad. And it's frightening, because there's nothing she can do. All she can try and do is make them happy again.
And in truth, she doesn't feel like eating. Not after what she did.
Not after who she hurt.
She didn't mean to. She didn't mean to put the old men in danger. She didn't mean to hurt Yumi. She didn't mean to, but she's dangerous anyway.
How will she make Yumi happy again after doing something so awful? She thinks, and has no answer.
She can't be a girl like Mai - and she can't be a defender like Yumi - and she can't hope for the future like Steven - and she can't keep her head above water like Kyouko - and she can't talk about her destiny like Nori - and she can't explain her situation like Chitose - and she can't - and she can't - and she can't --
But what can she do?
What can someone like her... possibly do?
There is no one for her to ask, and perhaps that's why she shrugs the black case from her shoulder, draws the blade from it, slings the lighter strap back over an arm. She crouches, Miroku held at an angle which displays its broad side to the open air where warehouse walls might one day be. One hand cradles its hilt; the other traces reverently down ancient engravings, so much older than she could possibly know.
"Please," she says, and it means, I don't know what to do.
Red cracks along the obsidian as sigils blink open, in all-seeing malevolence, and she feels that perhaps she has confused herself. It is easy to confuse a simple creature.
It's just as Mai said - isn't it?
'I was, trying... to be a girl, like Mai... but I didn't do it right.'
'Trying to...no. No, you didn't do it right. Which is probably for the best, because you shouldn't even try.'
She has listened overmuch to the guidance of girls who do not appreciate her situation. She should not try to change a nature writ in obsidian and blood. She is unhappy because she is trying to be something other than what she is:
And perhaps that's how it looks - as terrible red light cuts through the twilight.
Mikoto Minagi is no lighthouse in the dark.
<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.
Mikoto is not the only one who goes wandering in the darkening hours. Endo too has been reluctant to return home, feet trudging through deep puddles, stepping over gutters, and splashing quietly as he makes his way through the quieting streets of Tokyo's industrial sector.
There is no work for him to do today, and the small box of his room has been more of a prison than anything else in the last few months. He's grown too familiar with the shape of his ceiling, long hours spent staring at white plaster and thinking until his mind drifts off to meet unpleasant dreams. Exhaustion has been the only recourse, and so Endo spends his free evenings wandering until he's weary enough for deep, empty sleep.
He goes alone today, as he usually does. The company of his familiar Mages is mostly eschewed, not in small part because almost all are members of the Chevaliers. Endo is, of course, as well. Yet since the loss of their leaders he's both felt and acted distant, too busy weighing the options that lie in front of him and second-guessing the choices behind.
Alone, save for one thing:
<KNIGHT.> The warbling, distorted voice of Endo's intelligent voice drags him from his thoughts. <ABOVE.>
Eyes turn up toward the gash in the sky, the boy's dark gaze narrowing toward disruption. His fingers close around the stone stuffed into the pockets of his puffy, dark jacket. Lurid purple flows down his arm as he draws it out, magical energy burning across his arm, swallowing him up and shimmering away once his barrier jacket has formed. The stone is a sword now, heavy end clanging to the ground.
It doesn't stay there long. One big leap takes him to the balcony of a nearby factory, then to a row of outcropping pipes, and then toward the skeleton of the warehouse. He lands on what remains of the roof, soaring in a violet arc before he touches down with audible impact.
His suspicions are confirmed shortly. Eyes are drawn to the familiar figure of Mikoto Minagi, a shape that induces a swell of emotions. Fear, anger, resentment. She is a perpetrator and accomplice.
She is his enemy.
He doesn't speak as he contemplates that. She will no doubt known he's there, and though there are things he could say-proclamations, curses, demands-they do not come out.
Endo waits. He thinks.
<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed. <SoundTracker> Tsukasa Saitoh - Blood-starved Beast https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94n3p5ziADs
There are holes in the walls.
The war is over, so they say. The Chevaliers are done fighting. They've lost too much, too many, and there is no more room for conflict in a world gone wrong. They need to come together and support each other.
So they say.
But then, she has spoken, too.
'No one's fighting any more. I can't believe it, 'cause it feels like they should still be fighting me.'
What do warriors do - when the war is done?
What Miroku does is obvious in the night air, and it is noticed. Mikoto notices too, as the sound of heavy impacts cut through the quiet. She straightens, grasping her blade in a hand as her eyes dart to find the source. In the light of a moon which cannot quite hide behind scattering clouds, they seem to glint imperious gold.
Ah, she thinks, as those eyes widen to find it.
They are here.
Her shoulders lower, and her chin ducks down to shield her vulnerable neck. Her other hand curls around Miroku's hilt, grip tightening. Yes - he is her enemy.
Silence is a thing which stretches on, and a second can feel like an aeon. Her lips part; she breathes.
They have rarely spoken. Each knows the weight of the other.
She speaks. "I was sacrifice," and there's something sadly resigned about it, words rung hollow, "this whole time. Giving more and more... and now I'm all gone, Endo." The revelation is dull. She does not fear revealing the secret to a dead boy.
"But it's okay." There's nothing reassuring about the reassurance.
"It doesn't matter." She shouldn't have tried.
"'Cause what matters is..." Here her chin tilts, braid cascading over her cheek. "... enemies must be defeated."
And soon there will be no more holes in the walls.
Silence beats, one, two, like a ritual drum echoing down.
In sudden violence, Mikoto leaps. The only announcement to her intent is a tightening of her muscles, a slight shift back on her heels in preparation for the movement. She is a better vessel than he could ever hope to be, a better tool for a better weapon. He fells armies; there is no army standing here. Only a boy - and a girl.
A knight - and an assassin.
And the weapon which wields her arcs upwards with her jump, swept up from behind to come overhead, and with gravity's fickle blessing they hurtle down to meet Endo and Fallen Stern. Neither one of them can fly. This does not preclude them from the air.
<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.
Endo is thinking.
About another, younger girl who did everything she could for her mother. About how she got a second chance, and how much he values her friendship.
He thinks about other ancient weapons, people who ceaselessly endangered everything he loved to save their own master. They were selfish too-do they deserve a second chance?
His mind returns, as it always does, to two towers above Shinjuku, to an empty hospital room, blood-stained bandages, and the sound of a television tallying missing people. To a final meeting, to a flooded airport.
A line has to be drawn somewhere. Some things can't be forgiven. Some threats can't be ignored. A war can't be over until one side is broken.
Endo was prepared for Mikoto to move. Not for the exact trajectory of her arc, not for the exact angle of her attack, but for one violence or another. Prepared because violence is what swords are made for, and he was almost there without her help. His body is already tightened, feet shifting and weapon rising to crash against hers as she makes her descent.
Metal crashes, and there's a second when Endo's eyes meet hers-until the force of Miroku drives them through the scant patch of roof that Endo had perched upon. Brick and metal give way, crumpling under the boy's feet as dark metal grinds together. Down, into the skeleton of the warehouse. But not to the floor. Endo's feet find a new place to rest, a triangular platform of purple-black light that provides an abrupt bulwark against the falling guillotine of Mikoto's blade. And, more than that, gives him a force of his own to push back with.
"Call yourself whatever you want." The words are hissed through teeth gritted with effort. "We both know you're just a monster."
He shoves his weapon against hers, the add magical momentum throwing him forward with more force than he could must on his own-and doing the same for the girl locking blades with him, aiming to hurl her away.
<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed. <SoundTracker> Nine Inch Nails - Demon Seed https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7EsX-oJe6s
She was a little girl named Shigeko who just wanted a reprieve from what happened to her mother.
She is a condemnation of all the names Mikoto put out of her memory before she realised just how bad she was.
No, some things can't be forgiven.
'... even if, we can't, be forgiven... I don't, want, Eri, to do it alone... being alone's... the worst thing... I won't, let Eri, be alone...'
She knows why he is here, after all, and she knows why she is judged, and she knows she stands in guilt.
And she knows Eri was wrong.
She can't aim for something good, something which makes her life easier to live with.
Not when she has to do better.
Violence is what swords were made for, and they meet. Her eyes are sharp and vicious, lips curled over teeth in a snarl. Around them the half-made warehouse crumples, and she barely registers the dust and debris as they fall. There is only one important thing in the world, right now.
He has her full attention. It was never flattering.
They stop before they ought and here Mikoto relies on him, dependent on the sigil he has made, though sensible Ohtori flats barely manage to rest upon it. She puffs breath through teeth like a steel trap, as she strains down against the guard.
Endo speaks the truth of her and a more laboured breath huffs through them, and she nods, slightly. Any movement is notable at this range, and those eyes are too, too bright.
She does not defend herself against the truth.
She cannot manage a defence against his force.
One she will not argue; the other she tries. But she is in his sphere of influence, and it was only a matter of time before he found the strength to throw her away. She tumbles with the shove, crashing down into a row of high shelves. Perhaps, for a moment, they obscure her.
But it is not so easy to slay a monster, knight.
From those slats Mikoto springs up again, a scream ripping from her throat as she brings her sword up in diagonal arc. She will meet him wherever he is. It is not wise to fight a Mage in aerial combat, if he is still resting on his platforms. But Endo is not the only one who finds it easier to be angry, after all.
<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.
Room to breathe is what Endo needed, a second to regain his balance and reset the space between himself and Mikoto. The shove does the trick, and the platform provides a brief place to rest after the first clash. This time is like all the others, and even one exchange is a tiring struggle.
Which isn't to say that he's going to stop. The platform is abandoned, the boy leaping down to meet Mikoto as she comes toward him. The ground has always been easier for him, and there is where he intends to meet her charge with his own. Blades crash once more, another roaring clang of metal as Mikoto's weapon skids along his.
Mikoto's weapon finds purchase in his armor soon after, the knight unable to deflect the full force of that blow. It bites deep, sawing into the magical protection that his barrier jacket provides. He's forced to step backward, to lash his weapon out in a short arc in response-just to clear the space, to give him a moment to regain momentum.
More than regain. Again those triangles spin to life, burning into the air and pulsing as they he works the spell. Contrails of light begin to bleed off his blade, hands whirling it around in a great overhead arc of his own. The weapon moves with more force and speed than should be possible with such little time to start, a burst of energy that comes crashing down toward his opponent.
<METEOR ABSTURZ.> Snarls Fallen Stern.
<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed. <SoundTracker> Alias Conrad Coldwood - The Face Of A Killer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fA1GTBeO58Y
Of course Endo won't stop.
He'll keep coming and coming until Mikoto falls.
Just like she said she would.
They are titans poorly-shaped into the bodies of youth; the world reshapes itself around them. Here the crumbling remains of a rooftop; there the crashed remains of shelves. The concrete of the floor rings so empty, in a half-constructed place. There is nothing stored here. There are no memories stashed away.
All this is is a promise that one day, there'd be a safe place to keep what was important to them.
Of course they'd destroy it.
Her eyes narrow and her nostrils flare as she carves into armor, satisfied to see it can be bitten. It can be broken, of course. With the correct application of force, he will break.
But she breaks, too.
And he has broken her so many times.
They are alike in their aggression, but Endo withstands. Mikoto is a different creature altogether - she is violence in motion, and once her arc completes her feet plant and she springs back to avoid retaliation. It is instinct worn into her by long repetition. Perhaps she would have returned to harry him again, in and out, as he has seen so many times before.
He has seen it so many times before. He does not allow her the courtesy. He brings his sword overhead in executioner's arc, and if Mikoto were thinking, perhaps she would wonder whether this is what it felt like.
She isn't thinking. She's moving.
She's heard Fallen Stern say that before, after all.
The world reshapes itself around them. The meteoric force of Fallen Stern crashes down into new concrete, and the gash is not in the sky any more, not metaphoric. It is a wide chasm which exposes piping and earth, as the admixture which was supposed to stand for centuries finds itself suddenly - inexorably - vaporised by killing-force. At its edges, dust rises in a storm.
Step back half a second - and look at the point of impact.
There's Mikoto, throwing herself to the side in a desperate attempt to gain enough ground to clear ground zero. It is not only her own will that sets her to rolling as the earth shudders, debris rocking past her in an effort to flee the violence of having no choice left at all.
He's very powerful. It's almost a shame.
She sways a little, as she rises. There is dust caught in her still-damp hair, now. It will take forever to comb out. She does not think of the way Mai will be annoyed.
She only needs to know one thing, right now, and they both know what it is.
It is not over. He will not stop. He will break her, and break her, and break her. Has broken her, time and time again, and it is easier to remember those dreams. There are holes in the walls from where she has summoned Miroku in a panic, leaping from their bed.
Eri was wrong. Has to be wrong. When she kills him, there will be no more holes.
She snarls, grip tightening around her blade. The sigils flare as those eyes open wide, two-three-four, slit-eyed just like hers as her sound of warning turns into a bellowing war-cry. It is pain and it is fear and more than anything in the world it is anger, hot and red and piercing.
And she does not say anything any more.
With frightening speed she charges across uneven ground, and springs upwards with legs which have never once backed from the precipice. From the left crashes down a blade which blazes with terrible power, angled just so. She will carve away the magic of the Barrier Jacket - down into his chest - and through.
The negotiation table has long since shattered in twain.
They will come at each other with magic which destroys the world - because there is nothing left of them.
TO BE CONTINUED...