2019-04-20 - Alone, Together! Kimiko's Dilemma

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Alone, Together! Kimiko's Dilemma!

Kimiko rescues Madoka from a Witch, only to be killed by an unexpected enemy.


Madoka Kaname, Kimiko Akane


Tokyo Bay

OOC - IC Date:

4/20/2019 - 05-31-2015

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Tokyo Bay +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
  Once known as the "Inner Sea," the shelter Tokyo Bay once provided for        
  merchants and fishermen helped Tokyo develop into the powerhouse that it is   
  today, nor is it less useful today. Japan's largest shipping ports operate    
  out of the Bay, as does its own navy and that of the US Forces. Herculean     
  efforts dredge up its silt to create artificial islands, and factories drink  
  its water to soothe their smoky throats.                                      
  To most residents, however, the Bay is simply blue water glittering,          
  salt-seasoned breezes, and gently drifting sails. The aptly named Rainbow     
  Bridge crossing the bay enhances rather than damages its beauty, its white    
  towers lit many nights by an artificial rainbow. A provincial visitor might   
  consider Tokyo Bay to be trimmed like a garden hedge; it has a number of      
  oddly geometric islands with arranged greenery, and any land touching the     
  water often makes the best of it with a park, intake valve, or other          
  imposition on nature. To a city-dweller, though, it is a miracle of open      
  space and calm.                          

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Conturbatio https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWqUsygCD_I

There isn't much Tokyo waterfront real estate that's underutilized, much less abandoned, but exceptions can be had if you look hard enough. There's always a story at such a time. Stories, actually; speculation runs rampant. It doesn't take a lot of coincidences for a legend to begin.

Five suicides in three weeks serves that purpose very well. Well -- one suicide and four disappearances. But one is enough to, correctly, imply the other four. Even blind and deaf to the magical, humanity has plenty of respect for liminal spaces and what happens when you wander inside.

In between a hotel and a construction zone, the Takahashi Building is slowly rotting away. Whatever made this real estate venture go so wrong, it has gone wrong, indeed. It's hard even to know what the high rise was for originally. Apartments? There aren't the individual balconies you'd expect. Offices? Not enough windows.

The bottom floor, at least, must have been storefront. But where there were bright displays, now there is only broken glass, and inner shadows.

Now -- twilight -- there is a gentle crunching of debris underfoot, as a sixth person slips inside. And a gentle twinkling in the foyer, telltale sparkles that not just any eye can see. They carve a finely-wrought oval in midair, pencil-thin arcs of light intertwined.

A portal.

A labyrinth's entrance.

<Pose Tracker> Kimiko Akane [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The smell of the ocean is welcome most nights to Kimiko. Every time she comes here, it's like she is home. In some ways, she would rather be here than at the dorms anyway. At least here, there is solitude and she doesn't have to worry about most of the thoughts that plague her back at school. Even if she wanted to believe that there were people she could trust, extending that trust without reservation was proving more difficult than she hoped, even in light of what happened at the World Tree.

As soon as Kimiko arrives, she assesses the threat level. When it's quiet, she usually spends most of her time up on rooftops, observing, always waiting for something to happen. Occassionally, there is a feeble attempt at school work but with the last week being Golden Week she doesn't even bother tonight. Instead, she is sitting near the edge of a building, her feet dangling as a blue light illuminates her face. Kimiko's eyes move back and forth quickly... more talk about disappearances... more loss of life. She sighs to herself and quickly puts her phone aside.

It's not a minute later that she looks down from her perch on the building to see a figure moving inside. Kimiko is immediately on alert, making leaps to make it down to the store front. It's not hard and by the time she makes it to the opening where the person went in, she can see the labyrinth there. The numbers run through her mind... 1 suicide, 4 disappearances... she's not going to let another person fall victim.

Approaching the opening to the labyrinth, Kimiko is already transformed, with her silver hammer in her hands. There is no hesitation as she steps inside. Every time she does this it never seems to get any easier. Even still, she knows she has to do it. She takes careful steps, remembering the last time she entered a labryinth and the traps she could have easily fallen victim to. As she walks, Kimiko looks around and calls out, "Hello? Is anyone there?"

COMBAT: Kimiko Akane transforms into Puella Magi Kimiko!
<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

There's a liminal space between the real world and the interior of a labyrinth too. The doors that Puella Magi summon may mark a distinct boundary, but the width of that space is the time it takes to pass through. Who knows what mysteries might lie in that place?

Someone knows.

Wandering into a Witch's hunting ground is not such a discrete experience. Things change gradually.

But Kimiko only briefly has one foot in a grungy, run-down lobby and the next on a springy surface. It has a little give, sinking with her weight as she steps through.

A finely woven... net?

There's no reply to her call. No human reply, anyway. And, perhaps, if something else is to respond, she is still enough on the periphery that it will take time for the welcoming party to arrive.

It is gloomy in here. Twilight has a dimming effect but it has nothing on this. Most labyrinths are claustrophobic but this is an uncommon (though not too rare, the only regular thing about a Witch is its irregularity) agoraphobic one instead. Kimiko stands in the middle of a vast, undulating gray sea.

In the distance, the sea and sky are impossible to distinguish.

Up close, the air is still -- too still -- and the 'sea' is net. Nets, actually, impossibly interwoven with one another, creating unsteady footing as some have a tension that leads up and some down, and, wavelike, they shift constantly.

The netting's texture is imperfect, irregular. Warp and woof are full of little loops, and looking at it for too long is like staring at a Magic Eye -- complexity begins to arise. Pattern within chaos.

But its slow, slow rise to the surface of conscious view is like the congealing of a one-day-too-old konbini rice ball in the gut. A more existential sort of seasickness threatens anyone who looks too closely at the everchanging shapes.

<Pose Tracker> Kimiko Akane [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

There is no answer to her call and Kimiko continues to press forward. As she steps down, each foot fall is unnervingly soft. With every step, she feels like the netted floor is going to give way and throw her into the depth of the labyrinth. It makes her movement more cautious than it would be if there were a solid floor beneath her feet so her pace is painstakingly slow, although at times her speed increases as she takes a deep breath, hoping the holds are firm enough to keep her up.

The area she finds herself in the midst of feels familiar in some ways but even as she pauses to look at the nets, they seem to be more complex than just a simple net. For a minute, her eyes are transfixed on the patterns they form but then a strange feeling comes over her and she has to force herself to look back up.

Never knowing how deep and far labyrinths reach, Kimiko imagines she could be walking for awhile. A few times as she steps down, the nets seem to soften more and she sinks, almost needing to catch herself with a hand. Her hammer however comes in handy as she realizes she can use it as a third leg of sorts. The head is kept close to the floor, rather than up on her shoulder.

She resists the urge to call out again, instead looking around for anything that could indicate where she should go. Kimiko keeps shifting her eyes from the netted floor and then back up across the sea but even looking up doesn't help because all her eyes can seem to focus on is the fact that she cannot tell where the sky breaks with the sea.

In her mind, Kimiko feels like this is taking too long. Where was the figure she saw and whose domain was this? For a minute, her hammer is hoisted back onto her shoulder as she pauses but then the net sinks again and she jumps a little and continues her pursuit of whatever created this place.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Holst's The Planets - Neptune https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4wuV14QlNM

The 'waves' are getting bigger -- the deeper in Kimiko goes, the more the netting shifts from horizontal to vertical. Steep, steep inclines. The walls closing in, but they aren't walls. Indeed, the fabric is so fine, so very fine, that it is possible to see through more than one at once, now, to see the next wave rising as the one after falls in a sort of two-dimensional seascape of mesh.

This raises the vertigo quotient several notches. And there's also a keen sense of presence, now, of observation.

Kimiko's foot sinks into something soft and opaque -- ah, a patch of density, layers and layers atop themselves -- which then gives with a crunch.

Bone dust stains her shoe, but that's all that's left of the skull, now. One of five, presumably.

It's just at that moment that the shapes tangled... woven... designed, in the nets all around her -- attack. They don't leave the sheer surfaces; instead Kimiko threatens to be engulfed, drowned in a maelstrom of mesh.

In truth, that environmental hazard is probably the greater threat; like most familiars, these are weak creatures, though plentiful. They are scorpionlike, but instead of having pincers, they have party poppers (without the bleating hornlike sound) -- checkered gray and white diamond paper, sharp enough to cut.

And like all scorpions, they have a sting.

<Pose Tracker> Kimiko Akane [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Each time the netted wave comes over her, Kimiko has to adjust her steps. It reminds her of being in the water in the ocean with a huge wave that causes one to lose their footing briefly with increasing water depth. But here it's more like each wave means that she can see the next one coming and as they rise in front of her, she has to make adjustments in how to navigate through them.

As one of the biggest waves yet reaches her, Kimiko finds herself needing to jump over it and as she begins to make the leap, she can immediately feel the presence of something watching her. Her foot lands with a hard crunch on the netting and she looks down at her stained shoes. The dust... knowing what it is, Kimiko is taken by surprise by the anger she feels.

There's no time to reflect in a place like this though and there's not much she can do but hope to stop this now. What she doesn't realize immediately is the growing nets closing in around her. It isn't until they reach for her that she starts to fight back.

Kimiko uses the head of her hammer to beat each scorpion-like familiar back. Every time the hammer meets with the 'stinger' she feels a sense of gratification. Even if they are weaker than a witch, the familiars are an obstacle. One that has to be cleared and she does so as quickly as she can. Despite her hesitation earlier, as she fights, there is little to be found. Even briefly stepping onto a softer surface, her focus remains on the familiars.

With every swing, they seem to come closer and quicker, a few narrowly missing her body. At times, she using her weapon more as a shield than an offensive tool. It doesn't help her though that the ground isn't solid and the more she fights, the harder she finds it to keep focused on both things.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.


Kimiko fights and fights and fights, and familiars die and die and die. That's what they're for. Still, although they die easily, they do not die pretty. Smashed apart, the scorpions' party popper paper suddenly gains color, as though each impact of Kimiko's hammer is not just destroying their structure but changing their nature. She is a painter, and she paints them orange neon -- complete with the soft hum and the unstable flickering.

Flicker. Flickerflicker. The same as any number of storefront signs on the street.

These lights do not go out, but create an increasingly complicated environment, visually. The waves of netting haven't stopped, but now the mesh casts shadows; it's hard to tell which are real and which are just tricks of the light.

Kimiko finds herself stepping through more skulls. They mark a path, further on and deeper in. Two. Three. Four. Five.

Victims of this Witch.

Victims of a girl who used to be just like Kimiko herself. Everything takes on a new cast, knowing that. The weirdly human/inhuman notes inside a labyrinth -- candy, phones, shoes, whatever -- they must have been personal to the Puella Magi that was. This one has netting, mesh... veils?


There once was a princess who never laughed, and she lived under seven veils.

Or maybe 'here comes the bride'.

Those familiars are making it a party in here, after all.

<Pose Tracker> Kimiko Akane [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Every time a familiar hits her shield or her hammer, Kimiko finds herself more and more determined to get through the non-stop waves. Each time a shell breaks open and exposes the disgusting neon color of it's insides flickering, she attempts to kick it away. Her footing however, barely remains firm on the ground with every kick.

The flickering lights are disorienting and for a moment she pauses just long enough to close her eyes for a second before attempting to refocus on trying to figure out where her feet land. It's only after kicking another party scorpion away that she once again sees the skulls in this place.

The anger boils inside of her at knowing what the skulls once were and knowing that the ones that left them behind likely had no idea of what they were stepping into or maybe they knew, like her, and yet still proceeded into this terrible place.

Moving through the path carefully, but purposefully, she cannot help but cast a look at the things left behind and wonder if her friend was left behind in a place like this. The thought is one that threatens to bring a tear to her eye but she frowns instead. No time to think about things like that now!

More familiars scatter out from around the skulls and the veil and Kimiko brings her hammer down onto them with a renewed focus that makes them shatter. If she is getting tired of the relentless onslaught, she refuses to show it or slow down again.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

The intricate, unreadably complex embroideries on each layer of veil -- there's always something -- adds further confusion. They seem different every time, and that was true BEFORE the shadow play began. They're a Rorshach test. Do you see flowers? Do you see dragons? Do you see knives? Do you just see stains?

Four, five--



The surprise sixth corpse does not give beneath her foot the way the others did.

The sixth is larger, and firmer. Invisible beneath layers and layers of netting, it contains more mass than dried-up bone. A fly still on the web? A cocoon, waiting to hatch?

Anyone -- or anything -- could be inside.

But taking the time to find out is a choice. It is a choice to be distracted from the familiars; or from the Witch herself, who must be close. That sense of being observed -- of presence -- has become overwhelming.

It is a risk.

<Pose Tracker> Kimiko Akane [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The shadows dance in front of her and around her and Kimiko catches glimpses of what each one seems to be but then again, it's only what she believes it could be. It seems to really be the ultimate test of her perception. If she sees monsters though does that mean she is one? Some of the shadows loom so large around her that it feels like it's engulfing her and she has to make sure there really isn't one coming at her from somewhere. Just when she starts to think it could really be there though...it changes.

The skulls that crumbled before her is sickening enough but when one doesn't crumble like the others she hesitates but then looks more closely at it, even bending down to attempt to look through the layers. She doesn't want to look but forces herself to try and see what's beneath and uses her hammer to try and break through.

With the distraction of this sixth corpse, it takes a little longer for Kimiko to register the feeling of being watched. Once it is felt though, she is quickly back on her feet. This place is quickly becoming suffocating to remain inside. The sensory overload, the uncertainty of what she is going to face, and the ever-changing path around her is overwhelming.

Even with the overpowering sense of being watched, she can't help but feel very alone here. She is fighting this battle like she has done in so many others...alone.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

It isn't a corpse, after all.

And then Kimiko isn't alone, after all.

When she applies her hammer, it makes a soft sound.

Veils rip away, seven layers in all, revealing Madoka inside. Madoka, with a strange sigil on the right side of her neck, barely below her little ear. It is purple, and an oval, with a rune inside.

A Witch's Kiss.

Well, that's only natural. What easier prey than the walking dead? She agreed to meet Kimiko this evening to work on an assigned school project, but that assent was wordlessly glum. She's been quiet and hollow-eyed since the memorial service for Sayaka Miki. (Well, that too, is only natural. Right?)

She stirs, her gaze vague at best, as Kimiko leans over her.

"I couldn't help any of them," she explains dully, with the slurred voice of someone under the influence -- though it's impossible to imagine her doing drugs.

The second half of the sentence is implied. There's only one conclusion for those Kissed.

So I should die, ne?

<Pose Tracker> Kimiko Akane [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Something nags at her about the person beneath the layers. Maybe they weren't just a corpse and she needed to find out. As she finally breaks through them, Kimiko gasps at the familiar sight. "Kaname-san!" She is frantic as she tears away the rest of the bindings around the girl. Her heart is racing and her hands tremble as she brings the girl's body closer to her own and that's when see spots it...

The witches kiss.

Despite the planned meeting, Kimiko never imagined that the girl would have ended up in here. Then she speaks and Kimiko frowns at her words. "Help them? Who?" There's a brief pause. "Who were you trying to help?"

Releasing Madoka from the very last binding she can see, Kimiko pulls her closer as she hears the last words. "No...I can get us out of here. I have to..." Kimiko looks around, "Stay with me! We can make it out!" She cannot stop the tears that fall now as she cradles the girl.

With all of this, the nagging presence never lessens and Kimiko knows there is no safe place for them here. The only way to get out is to defeat the witch that created this labriynth. Even so, she is starting to doubt herself but now there is another reason for her to get out of here in one piece. There have been too many victims already...

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Kimiko's words reach Madoka, if only a little -- her eyes gain a tiny bit of clarity, though there's no pink to them in this grayscale, flickering maze. No color of her own at all. It's all been washed out by the labyrinth. She's in her -- their -- school uniform, and the fact that she's still alive means that she couldn't possibly have been in here for very long.

She looks up at Kimiko and smiles the saddest of all smiles -- wipes a tear off of the Puella Magi's cheek, then studies it as though it's an alien ladybug, perched on her fingernail. Who knows what it looks like through the lens of her warped perspective, right now.

"I'm sorry..." she sighs, more herself than before, though the Kiss simply tore back another veil between the world and the truth, rather than obscuring it. "I guess I'm late... causing you trouble again..."

With Kimiko's help she finds her feet; she sways, but is able to remain upright without support.

"Thanks," she mumbles, rubbing the sore spot on her neck uneasily.

And then -- something truly unexpected happens -- as the labyrinth starts fading away.

This would have truly been the perfect moment for the Witch to strike; but the opposite is happening instead.

As each veil turns translucent, and then to nothingness, reality reasserts itself. The smell of the bay. The walls of the abandoned Takahashi Building -- run-down at best, rotting at worst -- appear around them. Debris beneath them; Madoka immediately slips, from her standing position, and falls to her knees, skinning one of them.

She sniffs, but rather than bursting into tears, looks up at Kimiko with dawning sobriety and confusion.

"Ano, eto," she stammers. "Why...?"

<Pose Tracker> Kimiko Akane [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Madoka's touch on her cheek brings a small sense of comfort to her. Knowing the girl wasn't lost in this place with no one ever knowing what really happened to her...

Kimiko shakes her head at the apology. "Please... don't...don't apologize. You're okay. That's what matters." The feeling of sadness and loss around the school lately had been overwhelming at times but knowing that Madoka hadn't been another casualty was comforting.

Kimiko stands and offers a hand to Madoka. "Do you think you can stand?" The question is quickly answered though as Madoka pulls herself up. Kimiko helps to steady her as she looks around. For the moment it seems like the only way to go is forward.

"Hold onto me if you need to." Kimiko starts to walk but only a second later she feels the labriynth begin to break apart. In her confusion, she lets go of Madoka and watches the last of the veils disappear, leaving behind the familiar smell of the bay and they find themselves back in the abandoned building.

She is as confused as Madoka and shrugs. "I don't know..." In a way, she is relieved though. "Kaname-san...we should get you home." Something nags at the back of her mind though. There had to have been a reason it disappeared. If she has any idea, it's not apparent as she attempts to lead Madoka out of the building.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Madoka shakes her head and makes a soft noise of negation. Nnn-nn. Her ribbons, bedraggled, tangle in her twintails, a messy frame for her face. She struggles to find her words, which emerge sleepily when they come at all.

"I'm okay," she reassures, and it is both the biggest lie and, incredibly, barely a lie at all. "We still need to..."

The whistling sound is the only warning -- more like a steam kettle than the whirring of chain -- which tracks, because the metal that flies through the air towards Kimiko's face is red-hot with friction, burning the air, incinerating the moisture in it.

It misses and crashes into the wall behind her, which immediately crumbles. There, in the debris of rock and plaster, is a spiked ball on a chain on a stick. It's an artful weapon, as Puella Magi's tend to be, but there's no time to appreciate the fine details now, is there?

The sound of tongue against teeth, disappointed, sounds through the hallway. From the way the flail was thrown it is possible to guess which direction the thrower is in -- and it's between them and the exit, at least the official one.


And then the whirring begins to rise again. It sounds like flies. Like kazoos. Like razor wire in wind.

<Pose Tracker> Kimiko Akane [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Kimiko doesn't seem completely reassured by Madoka's assertion that she was okay but she doesn't openly question it either. As she steps closer to the door she immediately hears the whistling noise of and before she can even react, the wall behind her crumbles, scattering rocks and debris across the floor of the room.

The young puella cringes at the sound. "Watch out!" she calls to Madoka as she turns in the attackers direction. Kimiko is immediately preparing herself for another fight. Her main focus seems to be on keeping Madoka safe as she places herself in between her and the attacker.

"Who are you?" Kimiko calls out. Before she can get an answer though she hears the horrible whirling sound again. This time she's at least a little more prepared and braces herself with her hammer raised in front of her defensively.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Madoka watches death fly past her and just -- can't.

No excitement. No fear. No... nothing.

She doesn't even shriek, only stares. Obediently, when Kimiko tells her to watch out, she cowers quietly behind her. She knows how to hide behind her friends when there's danger. She's good at it. Practice works that way.

Notably absent, though there was no time to discuss it until now, is Kyuubey; he wasn't with her in the labyrinth and he isn't here now. Who knows what he's up to, or what he's thinking? Maybe he was getting help.

Maybe this is the help.

Another flail comes flying in; this one wraps around the handle of Kimiko's current hammer, battering at her fingers and threatening to singe and swat them, too, when the chain, then the handle, come rotating around.

<< I'm the Puella Magi of Tokyo Bay! >>

Smart to use telepathy; it makes her harder to find.

But her mental voice is not as confident as those flails. There's something slippery and desperate to her syllables, as though she's forcing them out. She doesn't sound like a deadly hunter. She sounds more like a child.

Like all of them are.

<Pose Tracker> Kimiko Akane [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Kimiko has fought other battles but the ones she dreads the most are those against other magical girls. Fighting against another person who is just like her in a lot of ways makes her sad and yet she always expects it in some way. She remembers the lessons that were taught to her when she was first starting and how lucky she had felt to not to run into the wrong person.

As the flail wraps around her hammer, Kimiko uses all the strength she can muster to keep it in her grasp. The pain quickly becomes nearly unbearable as her skin burns and her grip loosens enough to cause a slip of the hammer in her hands. The large head waivers and starts to fall as she attempts to keep a grip on it, refusing to be disarmed with this unknown person.

Kimiko frowns at the label the other girl gives herself and now she feels a sense of anger. "This is my territory! Not yours!" Kimiko has her reasons for caring so much about the Bay and doesn't want anyone to take that from her.

She takes a step forward, "Show yourself!" Her voice sounds confident on the surface but inwardly she is more fearful than she had been in the labriynth. Given the introduction, Kimiko can easily guess what the girl is after.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Madoka is whispering something unintelligable. A koan? A prayer? It's too quiet to hear, and obviously not directed at Kimiko. She's crouched low indeed, so low that her hands are worrying at her socks.

She really is good at it, though -- she isn't presenting much of a profile.

That makes it easier for the rival Puella Magi to launch her next attack without having to worry about collateral damage.

<< I killed the witch; I took the Grief Seed already. >>


<< And I'm going to keep doing it... because I need them. I need this place... if I'm going to live. >>


Ice splinters beneath the foot of her voice. They both know what she's talking about. It's so hard to talk about. Saying it out loud -- or even mentally -- makes it more real.

Another flail comes in, then another, then another. They're smaller, better-suited to throwing batons. As though she's learning from the relative failures of her first few attacks.

<< And I have to live... I have people to live for! >>

She obviously isn't going to show herself. And her aim keeps getting better and better. Sooner or later she's going to get Kimiko in the head if something doesn't change.

<Pose Tracker> Kimiko Akane [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The acknowledgement of the witches death confirms what Kimiko already suspected happened. She is out of her territory when it comes to negotiations and honestly she is not prepared to negotiate for what she rightfully feels is hers.

Knowing that losing this place could mean life and death for herself, Kimiko is fighting for that but also for the life of Madoka as well. Each flail comes closer and closer and Kimiko only narrowly manages to avoid them.

In an instant though, she gets an idea and there is a small rain...of hammers. Tiny shrapnel flying through the air which aim, not for anyone in particular because it's really hard to hit someone or something you can't see. Instead each hammer spins, hitting the wall that was already broken in a way that sends the debris away from Madoka and Kimiko and upwards into a vortex.

"Kaname-san! Run towards the stairs and down the hallway!" The orders are spoken quickly as she is using most of her focus to keep the debris away from them so they aren't buried underneath it. Once she knows Madoka is safely ahead, Kimiko follows.

Her plan seems to be to get out into the open and force the other girl to reveal herself. If they can make it outside, Kimiko can make sure Madoka is safe at the very least.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.


A physical sound again, disappointed, frustrated, as Kimiko makes her move and it's actually a good one -- clever enough to give the two girls an opening to stage their escape.

What follows is a desperate, high-speed cat and mice chase. It takes numerous hammers to counter numerous flails, which come from all directions, but it isn't like whoever's out there is some practiced, hardened killer. They're both amateur survivalists; they both make mistakes; there's hope.

Madoka keeps up; she's actually amazingly fast, for someone so normal -- is she on the track team? -- and the running itself seems to help return her to the cucrrent moment, a little bit. By the time she skids to a stop in the last hallway between them and outside, she is breathing heavily and her eyes are flashing with feelings that are very much in the present.

"You," she replies to a question from back in the labyrinth, gasping shallow breaths, sucking in air for more running. "I couldn't help you, Kimiko-chan. Or her."

Saying it out loud makes it true, it's as much the case for her as it is for the other girl, and a tear escapes her at last, rolls slowly down one cheek.

I'm sorry.

But she stopped for a reason.

There's a girl their age -- Madoka looks young for hers and Kimiko's only a year younger in any case -- standing in the doorway. Her hot pink battlesuit is just that; sleeves, pants, a flaring tunic. A curiously geometric pattern of silver stripes across the chest, most densely on one shoulder.

A pair of flails drop into her hands from nowhere, and they aren't for throwing. They're obviously very heavy... their heads immediately crash to the ground at her feet.

She has brown hair in a bob cut, brown eyes, and makeup that we'll call 'high concept' -- there's a lot of eyeshadow involved, so much that it almost makes a mask, painted on, without truly being a mask.

"I don't... want to fight you head on," she grumbles -- the most obvious thing in the world, from how things have gone. It's almost a whine. But then, she is very young; they all are... "But I doubt I'll have a better chance than this, ever."

Her eyes flick past Kimiko to Madoka.

<Pose Tracker> Kimiko Akane [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Kimiko is grateful for each missed aim as they run and moving targets are harder to hit but it also means that she can't block every flail. There is only a slight sense of relief when they reach the last hallway. Kimiko cannot remember this building being so big before but maybe it just felt that way.

As they stop, Kimiko looks at Madoka, who has suddenly stopped. For a brief moment the battle pauses long enough for her to hear those words. Her expression falls, "It's not your fault... you couldn't have known." She is trying to be reassuring, especially when she sees the tear that glimmers in the light and rolls down the other girls cheek.

There is so much more Kimiko wants to say and wants to ask Madoka but that will have to wait because there is someone blocking the exit. The girl looks their age but her outfit and appearance stands in stark contrast to Kimiko's own.

There is an audible sigh from Kimiko as the girl whines about not wanting to fight her head on. "If you want this territory so bad then that's the only choice you have!" There is an annoyance in her voice as she speaks. If the situation wasn't so desperate, it would be amusing.

The look from the other Puella to her and then to Madoka makes Kimiko immediately become defensive. "Let her get out! This is not her battle. If you want the Bay you can fight me, not her!"

Growing concern about what the girl will do causes Kimiko to manifest one of her larger hammers. She doesn't yet attack though, giving the girl a chance. One that she hopes she will not regret...

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

The girl worries her lip with her teeth, then shakes her head.

"No deal. She's, like, your weakness. I can tell. If I hadn't killed the Witch when I did, she might have killed you for me, 'cause you were so distracted."


"Uh, the witch, I mean."

Having them be 'shes' rather than 'its' really screws up the conversational flow.

She shakes her head, which tosses her hair into spikes, and lifts the balls and chains.

"I don't have a choice," she grits out. "I don't -- I can't -- I won't become -- like that!"

The chains are longer than the width of the hallway, but they start rotating fast enough to simply break the walls around her like advancing buzzsaws, as she approaches at an inexorable pace.

Madoka shrinks backwards towards the stairs, pale. More tears have joined the first. No fear -- just guilt.

"I -- I can't --"

She and the advancing girl could be twins.

Their voices sound exactly the same.

<Pose Tracker> Kimiko Akane [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The comment about her being distracted causes a wince of guilt from Kimiko that is quickly replaced by anger again as she sees the ball and chains lifted against her. "Neither of us have a choice, do we?! Did you really want to have to live like this? But... it's too late to change it so I have to fight for my survival...just like you do!"

Kimiko dodges some of the flying debris and looks at the crying Madoka for a second before frowning. Talking is not going to help right now. She uses her hammer to hit the debris that she can away from them and then takes aim for the other Puella before she's too far from the door. The hammer is used as more of a lever than of a deadly weapon for the moment. She braces her feet and pushes at the girl with every once of energy she can muster.

Feeling the weight of the hammer and the girl's resistance takes a lot out of her but soon she can feel the air from the outside and smell the Bay stronger than ever. "This is the last chance I am offering you! Stand down or I will fight you down!"

Kimiko can see the water from her position. The place she considered her sanctuary for so long and it spurs her drive to keep control as long as possible.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Kimiko pushes forward, towards the girl, and talks about last chances.

And the girl -- who hasn't even bothered to give her name, all this time -- simply flicks her wrists, sending the balls and chains behind her opponent, to either side of her.

They reflect the sunset-tinged Bay behind her, but pollute the scent. It smells like burning ozone.

Her arms spread wide as she releases the handles -- lets the weapons soar in a tight circle -- lets the hammer, unfettered now, plunge between her widened, expectant legs.

It all happens so fast.

Too fast. There's not much honor among Puella Magi, but going STRAIGHT for the Soul Gem, from the word go -- well, it makes sense. The secret's out, now. She knows what they all know. They aren't people. They don't have bodies.

The spiked balls hit Kimiko in the back of the neck, and there's a shattering sound.

<Pose Tracker> Kimiko Akane [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Kimiko doesn't want to fight this girl and that is clear in her actions. Maybe it's exhaustion from being caught in the labriynth and maybe it's something else entirely. Whatever the case though, it causes her to hesitate. It's that hesitation that ultimately leads to her being caught in a position where she cannot fight back in proper form and clearly isn't going to be given the opportunity by this other puella.

What she doesn't expect and barely has time to react to is the girl's expert move. All this time Kimiko talked about being careful and was told to be careful by others like Kasagami and Aki and yet... she has failed and underestimated the severity of the battle in front of her.

It's the ultimate failure in the fight for her life as she feels the air from the spiked balls and knows exactly what it means if she cannot dodge. But it happens too fast and the only reaction she can even muster before it happens is an audible gasp. The pain shoots through her body for only a brief second before her soul gem cracks and the girl falls.

What's left when it's all over is nothing but a body and behind her... the girl that Kimiko tried to protect.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Kimiko's corpse goes flying forward, launched straight at her killer by the impact of weapon on Soul Gem. They go down in a tumble.

Madoka, behind them, retches.

So much for having run out of capacity for horror.

Images pour across her brain; Eri and Mami, atop Shinjuku. Sayaka and Kyouko, in an alley. The sound of gunfire. The smell of blood.

She retches harder, and makes a tiny, shrill sound as she heaves for air. Nothing came out, nor will come out. She hasn't eaten -- hasn't wanted to eat -- since it happened. Since... that.

And then the other Puella Magi starts turning a little green, too. She hastily untangles herself from the corpse and backs away.

"I win," she pants. "I win. I win."

Madoka, hands on her knees, looks hazily up at her.

Their eyes meet, and they both know the truth.

There are no winners among the Puella Magi.

The girl flees the scene of her victory.

Madoka doesn't.

She kneels beside Kimiko... and it's her turn for tears to fall down onto the other girl's body.

"I'm sorry," she repeats, over and over, a mantra of misery. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry."

And sorry doesn't change a thing.

Not a single tiny thing.