2019-05-11 - Walpurgisnacht: Ring Around The Roses

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Walpurgisnacht: Ring Around The Roses

Ring around the roses
Pocket full of posies
Ashes, ashes
We all fall down


Rei Hino, Homura Akemi, Lera Camry, Takeo Akamizu, Steven Universe, Mai Tokiha, Nori Ankou, Usagi Tsukino, Fuu Hououji, Kasagami Araki, Vita Yagami, Setsuna Higashi, Endo Naoki, Nagisa Misumi, Madoka Kaname, Honoka Yukishiro, Mikoto Minagi, Michiru Kaioh, Haruka Tenoh

GM: Pink Moon Stick



OOC - IC Date:

5/11/2019 - 06-02-2015

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Rainbow Bridge (#626) +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
  Despite its name, the Rainbow Bridge spends most of its time bone-white,      
  like an angel's harp carved of driftwood in the dark water of the bay.        
  Periodically it crosses beneath an island every bit as man-made and           
  geometrical as the bridge itself, planting pillars to claim it and then       
  traversing water again. It's visible from a wide variety of angles from the   
  coastline, forming a hypoteneuse that crosses the bay via Odaiba and, with    
  the aid of less iconic bridges, permits quick travel from Yamanote to         
  Foot traffic is possible across the bridge, and many visitors dare the long   
  walk to get a good view of the city on one side, and the sea on the other.    
  Walking atop a bridge is a poor way to see the bridge itself, of course, but  
  that is what the Yurikamome elevated train line is for. Slung beneath the     
  bridge for much of its journey, the fully automated, driverless train gives   
  a great view of the Rainbow Bridge on its way to Odaiba.                      
  For a few hours every night, this expensive landmark truly lives up to its    
  name, glowing with different hues depending on the season or holiday.         
  Rarely, a combination of floodlights makes a genuine rainbow of the bridge,   
  with deep reds at its foot and violet at its peak. Small, colorfully lit      
  tugboats and civilian craft float beneath the gleaming bridge, buoyant on     
  the liquid dream of a starry sky.


<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Ongaku - Yuki Kajiura: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioHkag7ZAcU (translation: https://canta-per-me.net/lyrics/ongaku/)

There's a lot of wind in the area for Fuu, supported by Lancelot and Sparkles, to work with; she does not so much have to summon it, today, as control it, even a small part of it, like skimming cream off the top of a bucket -- instead seizing a little bit of that force that has turned the sky into less of a spiral and more of a moebius loop, clouds with no beginning and no end.

They come to her call, and she's able to feel the power driving them fill her, fill her well beyond her own capacity, fill her to bursting. And yet, paradoxically, in that moment what she feels most profoundly is a terrible and total emptiness, the gaping void within that every girl must face alone.

The barrier -- the emerald of Fuu's magic a bit sickly, as though it's infected -- sparkles and swirls between the falling skyscraper and the shelter in a huge, angled disc. If its sheer complexity has shades of the distant Witch's mandala, shimmering and shifting, well. Don't look too closely. Don't think of an elephant.

It stands up proudly, but no one knows whether it could take the full impact. No one wants to know.

The task now is to ensure that they never have to find out.

There are still a thousand feet before Shibuya 4-4-4 meets the shield -- and falling.

Vita strikes the first blow with Gigantschlag, and it is a decisive one: the entire trajectory of the fall is slammed to a more shallow angle, from that single strike alone. It won't miss the shelter... but it's going to take a few critical seconds more to get there.

There is a TITANIC crash as the sapphire glass that dominates the surface of the building shatters all at once. Vita can feel Graf Eisen tearing through the interior, feel the resistance he's encountering, feel him finally emerge out catty-corner to his entry, having created a dimple in one side of the skyscraper that would be comical if it wasn't terrifying.

Eight hundred feet.

La Sirene's home threatens to murder people she doesn't even know.

Though maybe she's seen some in passing...


Mina Kuroske's pigtails have grown out into longer hair which she wears in a sporty pony. She still wears her charm, the charm those girls helped her find, the destiny they helped her redirect, of the great dragon who swims beneath Okinawa.

She's inside for two good reasons: one, she has no idea what's about to happen, and two, she's on the phone, a landline, trying to find her parents. Frantically.

"Time's up," a security guard says with solemn sympathy.

Tears bead in her eyes, but he shakes his head and passes the phone to the next person in line, a bottle-glasses boy with wildly untidy hair even when the world isn't ending.

"I need to call OSA-P," Gurio Umino mutters nervously. As he passes a mother nursing her infant, with another seven children -- surely not all hers -- clamoring around her for treats, he gravely hands them down some spare origami he forgot to take out of his jeans pocket last time he did laundry. Their texture is, accordingly, a little matted. But they can still straighten into funny little cranes.

"Here," he says, voice cracking, offering the last one to Mina herself, trading her for the receiver. "For good luck."

He gave Batiste one of those once, slipped to him on the sly at Juuban's Sports Day.


The rays of the Pharos slam through the carbonado hexagon but before they can even hit the skyscraper, they hit something else instead.

Les Mysteres has come.

It pours out of one of the broken windows, then nine, then twenty-five, emerging in its silvery, stormy glory from the very walls it's come to know so well. It carries things with it -- maybe not Nori's things, but recognizable things regardless, in an ant-small distant way. Pens. A beautiful ceramic teacup. Tatami mats. Half an elevator.

And when the two beams impact one another, everything is briefly lost to light, and to unlight.

Six hundred feet.

High above, Shibuya 4-4-4 rattles with dozens of smaller impacts. It has lost much of what kept it a single building instead of a twisted, jumbled composite of engineering, and single strikes, in precise places, can send it rushing towards that tipping point in earnest.

Not that that's obvious to Cure Passion at the time. No, the main thing she encounters, as the lone warrior up close and personal with the plummeting ediface, is the flame.

It allows her a chance to know that which claimed Juuban, before anyone else does. It was dead, in that smoking crater, but here it is alive and not just well, but frighteningly hungry.

It's eating walls and floors and beams, but not quickly enough. Mostly it's just increasing the danger -- if it's still burning when impact occurs, the resultant spread could set the entire district aflame.

It wants to eat Pretty Cure, too, and it tries. It licks and bursts in beautiful colors, colors that no flame should be -- the red too cherry, the gold too metallic, the glittering purple and blue edges too bright. It tries to eat her hair, her beautiful, beautiful hair. To scorch her palms, the soles of her feet, straight through those cute boots.

It wants to melt her bones.

But she defies it, striking wisely. It can be isolated from the building, though the wild absurdity of punching firebreaks into a burning, falling skyscraper, into smaller pockets that have nothing left to eat, especially after she punches so hard that the air booms away from the flame.

Four hundred feet.

Sailor Mars has other ideas about how to fight fires.

This does not always go well for her.

But sometimes it does.

Vindication fills her like soda pop fizz when she sees -- when she feels, as though the heat is somehow connected to her instinctually drying skin -- the way that her birds, the firebirds of her very soul, overwhelm the flames too deep within the building for Passion to reach safely. Take them into themselves... and carry them away.

Four birds enter the building... and four birds leave, coated in coruscating colors they picked up along the way, before exploding into the sky like fireworks. The floor they passed through is simply gone; the building held together by concrete and metal threads and nothing more.

Two hundred feet.

The first pieces of debris are starting to hit the shield. Metal makes weird, twinging noises, as it's ripped around in a high-speed vortex then shot off in other, random directions. This wind chews things up and spits them out again like a railgun. Good thing nothing it's eating is on fire.

It won't hold. Shibuya 4-4-4, even damaged beyond belief, is far more than it can bite off.

And then water starts to hit the shield, too. The beginning of the end is prefaced by the resultant mist, which both deepens and magnifies the mystical patterns on its surface.


Nagisa Misumi isn't the baseball ace among Pretty Cure... but she just hit a grounder, with the world's biggest, heaviest, and most massive bat, and still it feels like a home run.

It hammers into the emaciated remains of the building from the side, and... passes through... starts to get stuck... and drags.

The skyscraper's roof collapses, huge chunks of it fed into and dispersed by the shield, but the rest of it... shifts, in a last-minute trajectory-change too heavy to really be called an arc.

Shifts, and crashes into the Bay not all at once but in pieces. It rains bits of 4-4-4 like it was a pinata.

But not one of those bits makes it to the shelter. The shield blows itself out on the last of them, those pieces with not enough momentum to make it all the way out over the water.

And then it's quiet for a few seconds.

The first few seconds of the rest of all those peoples' lives.

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Juno Reactor - Navras https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9s18rUaubc

When Homura fights, rarely does she pause between emptying clips or swapping weapons. She inflicts a continuous flow of bullets on her unlucky opponent, seeking to overwhelm with sheer destructive output, like some girl-shaped machine of war.

No different this, her opportunistic razing of Tokyo in order to defeat the Witch due to destroy it.

All that grief-shaped power she and Kyouko Sakura hunted together, all the brilliance Oktavia's bounty restored to the gem upon the back of her hand... she burns it, immolates it as ruthlessly as she attempts to burn Walpurgisnacht.

The midair girl, just a suspended bit of fluttering black amid the churn of storm and bomb, flares like a jewel in the dark -- twinkles like a violet star.

Little else exists to Homura Akemi, in this moment, than this: this methodical outpouring of apocalypse, this howl of pent-up destruction expressed stage by stage in steel and fire and magic. She descends within Yamanote, but only to alight upon the cab of a tanker truck, to extend her flickering field of power about the massive conveyance and its reservoir full of fuel. An arching set of Tokyo's ubiquitous train tracks serves as their ramp, and that is all the start the puissant puella needs to send it the Witch's way.

The payload of accelerant sails toward Walpurgisnacht, a most awkward missile, but aerodynamics and physics hardly apply here.

The wind catches Homura's bangs and pulls them from her face as she falls free and toward the river, but violet flares beneath the wind-whipped grey waves -- something rises from the depths, even as Homura descends -- and dainty black-clad toes touch down one-two upon surfacing black metal as it sheds saltwater in great torrents, lifting, revealing her next salvo.

She crouches atop one of four building-sized missile batteries, each vivid with the aura of Homura Akemi's magic: her violet finger upon the trigger of batteries of anti-ship warheads.

Each points directly at Walpurgisnacht's waspish waist.

Behind the Witch's inverted head stretches one of those long urban valleys common to Tokyo: a long straight thoroughfare through the grand highrises of Shibuya, lined below with boutiques and above with dark glass and dim billboards. The shopping ward is a different place, evacuated and unlit.

With but a single expression of her power she pulls the trigger, and dozens of missiles maze through the air toward her grand foe.

They take her full in what passes for her midsection in a crumpling-nosed cluster and keep firing their rockets, keep propelling -- they impel -- and together missiles and Witch shriek straight toward the heart of Shibuya, between the glass-lined walls of skyscrapers.

A deep low rumble sounds, some seismic premonition.

Homura flies up into the stormwinds in an eyeblink, though the streaking purple afterimage she leaves is proof that no time was skipped on the way. From this superior vantage, with her mane tossing like a halo of inky chaos, she presides over what ensues like some black-winged angel of disaster.

All hell breaks loose.

A seam opens up, a seam in the street, a seam in what lies beneath -- the earth parts to vent inferno skyward as the gas main beneath the long Shibuya street ruptures down its length.

Concussive force reaches for Walpurgsnacht in a ridge made visible by the street-chunk shrapnel it bears, lifted up by the hungry tongues of flame beneath. The fault roars its way down the street even as the missiles propel the Witch straight through this gauntlet of neighborhood-rending detonation.

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Shibuya Shopping Ward +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
Any rural ingenue looking to come to the big city and get swept away at       
first sight would be well-advised to get off at Shibuya Station, where you    
could fill a high school yearbook with the people teeming over a single       
crosswalk, and a legion of ten-story department stores offer a choice so      
broad it resembles existential crisis. Shinjuku might administrate Tokyo,     
but Shibuya is its style capital. Its densest concentration of boutiques,     
retailers, and restaurants is bound together by Shibuya Crossing, a bustling  
pedestrian intersection resembling an even gaudier Times Square.              
Within walking distance to Harajuku, Shibuya is less whimsical, and far       
grander. Its most iconic symbol is the Shibuya 109 department store, a        
cylindrical grey monolith famous even outside of Japan. Each floor of 109     
has about a dozen shops, and with ten flights of escalator to ascend, it      
doesn't take a mathematician to realize that even this single store can be a  
lot to take in. But Shibuya too has its side streets and quirks, and it's     
not hard to find a chic little cafe to rest in. Those who find themselves     
energized instead have recourse to the night clubs that trade on Shibuya's    
stylish reptuation.                                                           
Shibuya Station has a humbler landmark as well. It was here that the loyal    
dog Hachiko waited for his owner each day, even after the owner had long      
since died. A bronze statue of Hachiko waits here still, a reminder that      
love and loyalty never die.                                                   

Quaint side streets fill with crunching detritus.

Any shop which existed at street level... no longer does.

A statue of a dog, symbol of undying love and devotion, rips from its plinth and smashes into three misshapen bronze lumps. A steadfast paw extends from one, twisted but still recognizable.

Eruption chases the rocketing Witch in all her grandiosity and gouting flame, breaking every last meter of the boulevard on the way to Homura Akemi's grand finale at the thoroughfare's terminus.

Yoyogi National Gymnasium, its angle-free architecture and curve-defined space draped from points of prominence, possessed of imposing scale and unique profile: a waveform captured. And now, ever so briefly, Walpurgisnacht contained within.

Beneath the mask Homura Akemi's dead heart counts out a quick and steady beat. For the first time since she set hand to rocket launcher upon Tokyo Tower, she comes to a true pause to see how the rest of her carefully planned hand plays out.

<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Surgam Identitem, Again - Yuki Kajiura: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wy5MDYr4at8

Yoyogi National Gymnasium seats almost fourteen thousand people safely, plus untold thousands more on the arena floor.

Walpurgisnacht takes up the ENTIRE THING.

Not that there's as much seating as there had been. It was possible to move her, after all, and she bounced and rolled and crashed her way down that major boulevard, hurled by main force, until at last...

Is it really 'entering' the arena when you take the entire ceiling, pretty, suspension roof curvature and all, with you? Can you really call that containment?

Perhaps not.

But she felt it -- she must have felt it, even though her smile survives. Though her orientation hasn't changed, for the first time, she LOOKS upside-down, it makes some kind of sense for her hat to be jammed between her head and the broken ceiling which is now the floor. For the ruffles of her sleeves and skirts to dangle. Gravity has claimed them at last.

They've flopped out of that bell-dome shape and into a pile that reveals the gigantic brass shaft at her core, a shaft currently at a slightly askew angle from her torso, though no less affixed to the gears than they were before.

She doesn't move for a few crucial seconds...

...during which time little red lights ignite all around her. Across the floor. Up every wall and the jagged remains of the ceiling. Under every seat and on top of every seat and between every seat as well.

They're too regimented -- in a precise square-shaped grid -- to be the results of lightsticks waved at an idol concert.

They're more like thousands and thousands of cyclopean eyes.

Walpurgisnacht shows no indication that she notices, much less appreciates, the trouble her opponent must have gone to to set up this absurd, ludicrous, upsetting amount of C4. DAYS inside her own little world of stopped time, no doubt, patiently threading wires and laying blocks and putting each little tool of destruction exactly where it should be...

...just in time for HER to be exactly where she is now.


The explosion is visible from Keiyo, and any other point in the city. At first it was just a twinkling rupture of light in the sky, like a laser-target announcing what's to come.

Then it was a column of flame so monstrously large that its light painted the entire sky crimson, overriding the natural gray and unnatural yellow mingled grimly up until now.

Then it was a shockwave that, at their current distance, ruffles the magical girls' hair like a sea breeze.

Fiery clouds of smoke and ash continue to gout from that which was once built for the 1964 Olympics, plus multiple city blocks in every direction.

It might just be the most depressing beacon of hope to ever burn at Tokyo's heart.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Homura Akemi has used World In Flames on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.

The sky is, for the moment, free of impending buildings.

On the ground, there are no more familiars to be seen.

COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick braces 124 Fatigue damage from Homura Akemi's Finisher, World In Flames, taking 83 Fatigue damage! Pink
Moon Stick's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Sparkleblast on Homura Akemi.
COMBAT: Homura Akemi fails to brace Pink Moon Stick's Sparkleblast, taking 47 fatigue damage! Pink Moon Stick is Psyched! Stagger
and Stun applied to Homura Akemi!
<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Enwrapped in her amethystine aura, Homura Akemi descends to touch black-clad toetips to the ground once more, one-two, at the far end of the devastated boulevard, and fine hair settles down around her shoulders gently as feathers falling. Her large dark eyes are vitreous mirrors, reflecting blooming red and billowing grey from her palette of ordnance wielded without warning or mercy, and her mouth is a small and level line.

The girl who stood to face the Witch-storm stands yet, cool and collected and resolute. Its winds pluck at her bangs; its heat glows upon her brow.

She stands alone. Unmoving. Unmoved.

Her straight shoulders, her high chin, her steady gaze amid a firestorm named Tokyo: all are marks of the untouchable ice queen of the Puella Magi. Not a single bead of sweat mars the smoothness of her skin.

Within her impassive porcelain shell Homura thrums.

Her breath: held. Her heart rate: accelerating. Her gaze: steadily fixated on the now-invisible point where the clouds of demolition rose over Walpurgisnacht. She is a live wire, acrid with tension unexpressed, made of latent electricity -- all the vivid anticipation of an incomplete circuit.

She awaits some sign.

When it comes, it takes her without warning and without mercy.

Soundtrack change: K.Flay - Black Wave https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2RiG5nhuPs

It takes her on the bottom of her high proud chin -- it knocks her into the air and it lays her out flat, while her eyes are still wide and staring.

Walpurgisnacht's desultory retort, the first direct counterattack it has deigned to launch at a desperate girl who has swarmed it with overwhelming ordnance sufficient to blot out the sun -- its initial return slap to Homura's face slams the girl fifty meters or more.

She hits blacktop and bounces. Rolls. Bounces again hard -- ragged sound emerges from Homura then, for the first time since she issued her challenge to the Witch. Blood emerges, too.

Homura keeps rolling, lost to bone-deep shock even more than to the violent vertigo of her tumble. The world inverts itself around her uncountable times, batters her with its city-armored body, and not once does it manage to upend Homura so badly as that first smack suffered at the spangled lash of Walpurgisnacht's retaliation.

When all that titanic momentum spends out and she tumbles to a halt, the grey girl makes an odd-limbed and twitching heap upon grey walkway tiles, like a discarded marionette.

Homura cries out once more before forcefully mastering her body's involuntary, damaged shudders. A delicate purple crackles at her margins; something crackles within her. The coppery taste in her mouth recedes.

She shudders, then stills and rises.

Each deliberate movement clearly costs her. Her fine steely control over the situation is gone, her ascendance crumpled. Her munitions and her magics... Homura Akemi looks up, to her grand foe, to the fell being whose very name presses upon the air with dread syllables -- to the thing which floats laughing in the firestorm. It waxes unabated in utter impossible defiance of all the everything Homura just spent to take it out.

Has Walpurgisnacht ever loomed so triumphant over her efforts, so mockingly? Or is it just that her imagination is poisoned by the Incubator's terrible truths? Even though it was not enough in the end, they beat the Stage-setting Witch and her storm together, once upon a timeline, she and Madoka.

Madoka. Madoka. Madoka, she thinks.

For Madoka.

Homura made a promise to her best friend, and... she will always fight to keep it...

Her shield yet holds things with triggers, and her fingers have not forgotten how to pull them. If she can stand, she can fight still. Homura demands via sheer willpower a responsiveness from limbs made of shattered lead and they cannot refuse her call, not yet. She draws a blunt-nosed submachine gun and leaps into the air, unleashing an arc of bullets at the sparkling silhouettes surrounding her.

<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.

The Grande Dame follows her initial salvo out of the flames at a sedate pace. At first she appears as a gigantic shadow within the inferno's heart, one whose outline is confused by the remnants of Yoyogi and Shibuya rising up all around her.

It's as though the thermal currents, rather than her own magic, are sending them aloft. There are no whole buildings left nearby to wield in this way. These are chunks, fragments, most unrecognizably blackened with soot. But they are large enough.

Her skirts rise up around her, too, resuming their properly impossible position as the reversed-but-in-place bottom of a ballgown.

The first detail to come into focus is her smile, which is somehow redder than the flame it competes with. It is very much as it was before, only now gaped wider than ever.

Her laughter is correspondingly louder and wilder, though it doesn't shake her where her belly would be, or, indeed, affect her lips in any way.

She's very close, now, filling the whole of Homura's vision, anywhere that one of those accursed and giggling girlish apparitions are not.


As the others close in on the two of them, it's Walpurgisnacht they're behind.

They have full view of her back, her base -- her gears, nearly perpendicular to the ground right now due to her angle. The largest one is the massive circumference of her skirt and then some, while the smallest and most innermost comprise the intricate delicacy of mere houses.

But no wonder Walpurgisnacht is laughing.

She's hiding the Easter Department Store from Homura, behind her enormous, revolving machinery.

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Easter Department Store +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
 Japanese department stores ('depaato') have only a slight resemblance to      
 their Western counterparts. Resembling classy vertical shopping malls, they   
 are committed to imparting a feeling of prestige to their customers. Easter   
 Depaato is a classic example of this type, with all the traditional touches.  
 Customers are greeted frequently and personally by formally dressed           
 salespeople, and 'elevator girls' ensure customers don't need to exhaust      
 themselves pressing buttons. Most purchases are placed into packaging         
 prominently displaying the carved lettering and orbiting star of the Easter   
 Corporation, so everyone knows they came from a fine department store.        
 The stores available in this ten-story, silver-ribbed black building are      
 diverse. The basement is home to a full grocery store, the ground floor       
 hosts accessories. Three stories of women's wear, two of men's, and a kimono  
 store follow in succession, then the stores diversify, with toy, book, and    
 ceramics shops sharing floors. Finally, the top floor and roof boast upscale  
 restaurants, with the latter surrounding an open-air terrace garden.          

And now she has the LAST laugh as all ten floors drop on an unprepared Homura.

It's a single, terrible moment of violence, and then longer moments of choking dust.

Did she blink away like she always does?

She must have, right?

No -- there, in the distance, a good quarter mile of collateral damage away.

In the middle of the newest crater, strewn among the latest rubble, is a tiny purple form.

Given the cavalry's angle of approach, she's lost from sight as Walpurgisnacht approaches her at a lazy float, looming over her as a magnifying glass looms over an ant.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Pink Moon Stick has used Final Act on Homura Akemi.
COMBAT: Homura Akemi fails to dodge Pink Moon Stick's Final Act, taking 350 Fatigue damage! Homura Akemi is unable to keep
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Lera is flying.

She doesn't fly too hard. She learned, through hard experience, that a lone magical girl flying through the sky is a lone target that could fall and scatter across the wreckage that used to be a city. She doesn't want to fly too high. It would let her see the shattered, broken husk that used to be Tokyo that much better. Her heart couldn't take that.

She gets a view of Homura Akemi's entire ploy and end. She feels a pang of fright to see that bloodied figure in purple there. Lera always thought of her as taller, somehow; now, she sees someone dwarfed by something so immense and so terrible. The fear doesn't leave her, but Lera finds a place for it in her heart. It's a place she built over two years that feel like twenty, some days.

"Ground," she says. Soaring Sky blows in the wind after the department store's collapse, the necklace with the pen on it blowing back with the wind. Her clockwork Device-hammer is in her hand; the same one she used to break through the department store on her way through.


She swings back the warhammer with both hands. The square of pale gold in the center glimmers, the gem brightening -- and a swirl of golden light forms up, into a glowing ball that churns and bubbles as it forms substance... or at least the illusion of it. A Midchildan magical circle swirls up behind Lera.

The clockwork hammerhead slams into the ball, and it converts from light to a ball of molten magma in an instant. She hits it like a golf club striking a ball, and then the orb of magma arcs up high into the air. It smashes through a chunk of shattered department store wall -- it burns a hole ahead of it, and rivulets of molten steel from the I-beam it oled through run down the wall.

And then it comes crashing down for Walpurgisnacht. It explodes behind her, with a titanic fireball that rattles nothing but rubble. She didn't leave any glass to shatter.

COMBAT: Lera Camry transforms into Barrier Jacket Aphelion!
COMBAT: Lera Camry has used Magma Bomb on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

To see Homura fight Walspurgisnacht is sort of frightening. When all of that C4 is ignited, it feels to Lancelot like all the air in the region is pushed away form him, and he's punched in the chest. Even Sparkles, easily the heaviest of the magical population (Other than perhaps Walspurgisnacht to be fair), staggers back a step and blinks her equine eyes as the concussion makes hearing interesting for a few key seconds.

Then the unthinkable happens. Walspurgisnacht simply batters Homura and small demonic shadow children appear and Homura is down for the count. Lacnelot is still off his horse but he blinks in horror as Walspurgisnacht goes in for the kill. All around him, energy collects and his eyes glow. Normally when they do it is a cobalt blue and he's about to unleash an Anima Tmepestas, but not this time. As electricity swirls around him Lancelot's eyes glow ....


He lets out a low growl and then swings both arms forward to hold open palms, one on top of the other at Walspurgisnacht, and just screams in defiance. One of the largest, if not simply the biggest bolts of lightning streaks form Lancelot's palms. The shockwave of the bolt passing shatters any somehow still standing glass in it's wake and creates a debris cloud on each side of it's passing. The thunderclap creates a second.

Still pouring on the power, as much as he can, he begins to walk forward screaming wordlessly at the thing that would destroy his home and those he loves. Steam comes off his arms as all that power is funneled into the lightning bolt being thrown until finally it stops. He pants, his arms still held, palms toward Walspurgisnacht, still steaming from the heat of the power he unleashed.

Then two more bolts of lightning streak toward Lancelot and he catches them, the lightning solidifying and forming the twin blades of Arondight once more. He sets his teeth in a snarl and prepares to charge.

COMBAT: Lancelot has used The Mother of all Lightning Bolts on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

The battle rages afar.

The explosions, muffled by so, so much mist and distance. "Keep going! We have to get over there!" Steven says to Lion. A portal jump here, a portal jump there, to avoid hazards.

Upon exiting one of them however, they are met with a superstructure I-beam impaling a row of shops on a street corner, like a toothpick through a row of marshmellows. Effortless. Messy. "Look oooout!" Steven says, seeing it as they exit the cotton candy-colored dimension.

The explosion of force is immense. Lion has to skid and change direction, to run parallel to the buildings, each one collapsing close and closer behind them. Steven's chest is pounding. He hasn't ever been this scared.

The final building comes down so close to the pair that it knocks Lion off his feet, and the two bounce a ways down the road. They boy make it to their feet after a minute. Steven fishes out a small cooler from inside Lion's mane, and pulls out a lion-shaped popcicle. He unwraps it and holds it out to Lion. "Here, we have to keep going."

A sniff-sniff, and the entire thing is gone in the cat's maw. A crunch indicates that Lion has little care about swallowing a popsicle stick.

They continue down the path, passing by a piece of what looks like... "T-That better not be the school..." he says, biting his lip. The color and styling was difficult to refute. A corner of the roof. He is going to pretend he didn't see it, because if he did, he probably won't hold it together.

Somewhere nearby, the sound of shouts and an explosion, as debris scatters on the ground in small pieces. "They must be nearby!"

Another explosion. This one strong enough to cut through the soft miasma and cause the ground to tremor. "Wow..." is all the little boy with the fluffy head can say. Even Lion has stopped to view it.

The pair continue to run. Lion conserves his portal-making, in case they are needed. He was already beginning to grow tired.

The fight isn't over. Out from the napalm cradled within a corroded stadium, like a chipped brazier hosting fire, comes her form. their form. They looks so happy. They sound so happy. A wave of vivid, unfriendly light, and the casting of a building like a fastball are the last things Steven sees before reaching Walpurgisnacht

It looks like a direct hit.

"You... You...!"

BGM: Foo Fighters - The Pretender


A look to the left. A look to the right. Magical Girls and Boys assemble from all sides. A chance remains to save their world. Homura did her best despite her lone wolf style. It was their job to continue where she left off, before the Witch of Witches did her worst to the Magi.

"we won't be part... of your games... any more!" Steven shouts. Visibly shaking.

Though fear is ever present, some of it begins to bleed into anger. Places he has seen. Shopped at. Learned within. All destroyed as easily as a toddler amongst building blocks.

"You'll pay for everything you have done!"

The child takes a deep breath. Another.

A magical roseate shield blips into existence on his forearm, with a fanfare of pink sparkles and light. "LION, LETS GO!" The cat growls, and roars loud enough to vibrate the air. damaging, destabilizing sound waves project at the colossal enemy that stood before them.

"Everyone, together... We can win!" the boy says, holding a fist up. Lion takes off to gain ground on their foe, attempting to flank them before the Great Witch pulverizes the spot where they stand again.

Steven has a feeling she could probably do that even if they are spread apart. Might as well make it a little more difficult for them!

COMBAT: Steven Universe has used Just Lion Things on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Yuki Kaijura - Mezame - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rudziat8H_k

The city really is empty - or at least it seems so, to Mai's eyes. She left Ohtori when the storm stopped, and left the ground when buildings began to fall. Rings of gold and jade blaze bright as she flies along familiar paths, tracing what could have been her footsteps to work a lifetime ago. Her gaze, however, is on the chaos above.

Walpurgisnacht is a queen reigning in the skies, hurling painfully familiar buildings throughout Tokyo as if they're nothing but stray bits of paper. Haste stalls to shocked horror at the sight of the Mitakihara hospital plummeting to obliterate the Rainbow Bridge, memories of Mai herself and Mikoto and Takumi and-

And there's chaos beyond the city tearing itself to pieces, as a veritable menagerie of alien Familiars spreads out into the city, as the sky turns into something unknowable and impossible.

It's the madness of a Witch's Labyrinth, writ in reality. Even with those few Labyrinths she's seen, Mai can't help but stop where she is to try to...take in everything.

The world is falling apart.

it's not that i don't think we can't stop it somehow. i just worry what this fight might cost.

Words to a friend seem burned into her sight as the world falls apart, and in spite of the path being familiar Mai feels so lost. Her brother may or may not be safe and her companion is lost and might never seek her out again and her sister is dead-

-and all the friends she promised aid are out there, somewhere, in the storm that used to be the city she called home.

Regrets burn in her heart, more than the grief and more than the rage for everything that's been lost. "...I'm sorry. Sorry I can't be there to protect you, Takumi. Sorry I can't try to find you, Mikoto. Sorry I wasn't there for you, Eri. And...sorry I've been leaving so much on your shoulders, Usagi-chan and Takeo-kun and everyone."

The city is falling apart, stray Familiars rolling or bouncing their way through the streets. The HiME looks down, and smiles sadly to herself. "Time to do something about this crazy mixed up world we live in. Let's go, Kagutsuchi."

They burn. The Familiars, the street they were rolling along, that park bench near Linden Baum - they burn as wings rise like a volcano, as a sorrowful croon is born into the air. Mai and her Child rise, and begin to fly into the heart of the madness.

Windows shatter in the wake of the dragon's flight, as HiME and Child weave between buildings broken and whole both. Normally, Mai might at least try to be a little more careful - but today, guilt weighs on her heart and frankly the city seems kind of doomed to ruin regardless. It's not just Walpurgisnacht, either - Homura Akemi's assault on the Witch of Witches lights up the sky with a conflagration that truly defines spectacular.

The sound Kagutsuchi makes at the sight is alien and bizarre - almost like a whale trying to whistle.

The detonation that consumes Yoyogi is like a beacon, calling all who oppose the end of the world. Mai and Kagutsuchi bank around a street corner, soaring towards it. If that truly dreadful inferno was enough to stop Walpurgisnacht, then the fire must be contained. Absolution for abandoning Ohtori's sprawling forests, so long ago. And if it wasn't enough...

Mysterious light shines, and Easter falls. It wasn't enough. "Akemi...san...." Memories of clashes over Jewel Seeds, of Alyssa Searrs's death - Homura Akemi has long been an enigma, but not one Mai was ever prepared to call an enemy. To see her struck down...

Once upon a time, a friend encouraged Mai to watch a movie about a boy and his pet dragon.

There's a whistle, a whine, a Doppler effect screaming through the air. The fire and the fury in the night, racing to the site of the battle - racing towards Walpurgisnacht's unguarded back. Louder and closer and higher-pitched - and then a shout above even that noise.


Is it the power of the fireball, or the sheer velocity with which it blazes into those gears? Kagutsuchi banks right, looping around to attack again, preparing to continue to answer that question at its HiME's command.

COMBAT: Mai Tokiha transforms into Mai and Kagutsuchi!
COMBAT: Mai Tokiha has used Indignant Immolation on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

An introduction:

As everything falls out before her, above her, la Sirene feels a certain sense of triumph. She did it - didn't she? They're doing, they're all doing, all of them are doing it. They're hitting it. Giving it their everything. Shibuya 4-4-4 may be dead now but it is a mere object in physical space and as her heart swells she abjures the mere boundaries of LAW and MATTER and GRAVITY because what is beneath her is more precious by far and - The flame rises - the blows tell -

She loses awareness for a few moments. She staggers over, in fact, her vision dissolving not into that filmstrip jerk but into a sea of pleasant violet-gray sparkles.

La Sirene remains afterwards. She looks briefly at herself and round at the roof. It seems to be as she remembers it. She rolls over - and hears a rattle. A rattle in the Pharos. She unhooks it from her belt, rests it on her knee, and looks in. There had been a sort of integral-curve to the fat piece of ablated glass within, but now, she thinks, it has calved off another section. A piece the size of a 5-yen coin.

La Sirene opens the lantern and reaches into it. The pouring out sense of a cool ocean somewhere far, far, FAR away from this, refreshes her. That dizzy feeling fades. Her now-bare hand collects the piece of glass, and... holds it. I don't have any pockets, she thinks. Her lips thin momentarily.

Let it rest in my left hand for now, she says, closing the adamantine pane and rising to her feet again.


Momentarily she joins the others. "Thank you," she says. Then, "Let's go." And then the travel. Back across the river.

As she runs again, settling into an easy stride, twisting her right hand's fingers in the wind, la Sirene feels energy return to her. Slowly. She feels soreness but it's distant, like it's all half a yard away. Strange.

Her eyes turn back towards the massive yet distant form of Walpurgisnacht. She wonders: Who was she? What did she wish for? How old is she?

Mysteries all. "I wish I could speak with you," la Sirene says. "All of you have uncountable sorrows. I know... it is hard. And you were used cruelly... but in this moment, I cannot waver. This is no barren shore where a storm could rage without ceasing. This city..."

"... is a home. It is--"

Then la Sirene is struck by the twist. The eruption of detonation crests past what she had seen before, and la Sirene's eyes widen. Despite everything, despite her rage at Homura, despite the dark theories she wove in her fantasy-prone mind about what and who and how Homura Akemi did what she did -- in that one fleeting burst, she wishes the girl who she has silently named the queen of explosions nothing but success.

Because if Homura succeeds-- they all won.

Then there is a distant echo of gunfire. A small flash of purple - and - the building.

The bloom of triumph dies in the frost. La Sirene's hands tighten - and her left hand pinches slightly, where the edge of the fragment of tomb-glass nicked her palm. Her ring finger's tip feels damp.


She remembers the words of that devil. That this was the strongest witch. That Madoka would become the strongest witch. She can't remember clearly. The intention sticks with her.

I defy it, la Sirene thinks, as she leaps to the side, to run up a piece of lingering wreckage. I defy kismet and fate. I throw it in the trash! Let it be ground for pieces to decorate my crown! Her eyes gleam.

"Mother of Sorrows watch over me," she says as she skids to a halt, putting grooves in concrete and throwing sparks on steel. The left hand comes upwards. She sucks in a deep breath, full of tears and explosive residue. Her eyes flash.

"Les Mysteres," she says, the piece of glass glittering darkly against her pale palm. Her right hand comes up in preparation as she feels the forces gather -


Down she slams. The sound is a wail, but it is a pure wail, distorted only for the sake of art, raised to the heights of mystery. This time the burst is neither black nor silver exactly - but a coruscant rainbow of pale spectra, the reflected light of the tears dried on her face, the chemical marriage called down at the perfect moment. Right at the great witch's back!

COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has used Les Mysteres on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Moon [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

It's not easy to notice the moment that Sailor Moon's steps start to slow after the running battle. Like a girl who just finished a race after P.E. It just looks like she's taking a short reprieve.

Unless one looks at her eyes, upon witnessing Juuban Public School aflame and gutted. Queen Beryl and her most elite demons may have killed everyone in Tokyo before.

Such things feel distant though, because it was reversed before a single corpse started to rot, before the silence of hollow buildings had truly settled in. It is not on the same magnitude as other tragedies she has witnessed, yet it is no less a direct attack..

Okay. Let's be friends. That means I should call you Naru-chan now!

Top score again! As expected of my good friend!

You made these? Wow - you're such an amazing cook!

You're really transferring in this year!?

.. on Usagi Tsukino's happiness. This year she'd found such pride in actually working hard and passing the entrance exams. All for the purpose of wearing the same blazers and plaid skirts as her friends for their first year in high school.

And now it was all going up in smoke.

The girl stands there for a time, the rod she holds dangling from her limp wrist, her eyes fastened upon the decimation. Wordlessly in shock from this tragedy that holds not the same scale as millions of lives - or five - or even one.

It's unknown what gets her moving again to a casual observer. However, it's simple. If she doesn't, then she stands to lose a far greater happiness before this is over.


It takes a few moments for the upside down lettering to register in her mind why this place is so familiar. From the distance, as she makes tracks towards it.

"It's.. Nori-chan's.." Usagi remembers Nori being so proud to show her her new room at the top of the tower. She still remembers saying this tower is like it's hers - despite her only having visited one room. It feels like the kind of place a model should be living in.

It is a simple enough thought. That moment she realizes it is like Juuban to someone else. Except that right now it is not that as well. She can see the path it traces to destroying so many lives.

It is simple enough thought to know that every place in Tokyo could be a place like this to someone else. And that not one of them is worth a single human life.

They are still worth happiness. And that is what Walpurgisnacht is destroying - or forching them to catch up

She is late in catching up. She comes upon the aftermath. It is admirable how thoroughly her Mahou Shoujo comrades have decimated it - sacrificed it in defense of those lives. All the same, she wants to hug Nori more than ever when she says this city is a home.

She wants to be hugged for Juuban.

There is no time for either.

Because - before Sailor Moon can blink, the sky is alight with fire. "Is it...?" For a moment, she holds her breath.


It wasn't long before they were proven wrong. They're distant. She is running. She can see the muzzle flash of Machine Gun spray. The dame looms overhead because there is no place where she doesn't.

From this angle she can see the surprise it has in store for what must be a Homura Akemi who is too small to even make out. She screams in warning - and she is too distant to matter, even if she were close it wouldn't make the slightest difference. The building slams down on Homura with all the violent glee of a child with a brick.

She fought him alone? Didn't she? She laid down her life for your sake.

Homura Akemi and her had never gotten along. The girl once reduced her to a wailing pile for the crime of going on a camping trip with her friend.

All the same, she knows the girl fought her hardest for the sake of that girl.

And there is fear - horror - terror in that fact. At those efforts being reduced to this.

"Mars - let's... let's..." Panic bubbles out of her lips and she blurts out, "-we have to get it away from her!"

She won't allow it. Cure Black had provided a reason for why Homura would do all this alone. It is up to them to teach her they can be relied upon even in the heart of darkness.

This time, there is a hand to her brow. Her sacred tiara isn't much use against a witch. She knows that from her earliest lessons of being a Magical Girl. She could fling it with all the accuracy in the world and it's sacred light would not even slow down the lowliest of familiars.

All the same. She can hit it though. Even from here.

"Moon Tiara-" Standing in the debrisfield, the girl slides off the Tiara into her hand. Turning it into a spinning - gleaming discus. There is a flick of her wrist, a glint in her eye, a prayer on her lips.


The tiara spins through the night air with all the accuracy that she is known for. A sacred - ineffective - missile that glides higher and higher in altitude. A dim little firefly against the massive witch that is turning Tokyo unto her stage.

Yet as it turns in an arc that seems destined to try to make contact with its upside down head - it intercepts something else.

You see - it's not ineffective after all...

...because she is not alone.

COMBAT: Sailor Moon has started a combo targeting Pink Moon Stick!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

At first, the Wind Knight mistakes the massive explosion at Yoyogi for something else Walpurgisnacht did along the lines of gratuitous collateral damage - or maybe, more accurately, simply continuing to level the city for 'materials' with which to build her 'stage'.

But when her head clears from the strain of an epicly huge Winds of Protection, the green-clad Magic Knight realizes it wasn't the *Witch* to do that. Still astride Lancelot's steed, the Wind Knight pats Sparkles' neck. "I need your help a little longer, Sparkles-san. Let's go - whatever that explosion was ... !"

Whatever it was, the Witch of Witches is no longer hovering out of range. Walpurgisnacht is close enough to the ground for the magical girls and boys to actually fight.

It's while Sparkles is galloping towards the remains of Yoyogi that the Magic Knight of Wind fully realizes two things.

First, the explosion must have been Homura's doing.

And second, the Witch of Witches took it very personally indeed.

For all Fuu's inexperience with horseback riding, she knows enough to reach for the reins rater than pull on her borrowed horse's mane. The Wind Knight looks briefly over what's visible of the stage-setting Witch, her eyes narrowing behind her glasses, and she raises her left hand once more. The Witch as a whole is an awfully huge target ... but some of that clockwork seems more manageable.

More *stoppable*.

"Winds of Admonishment!!!"

And stopping it is exactly what she aims to do - to snarl the gears, impede the shafts, throw a metaphorical wrench in the literal clockworks. Even if she can only get a good 'grip' on a single cog of those massive wheels, that should still do *something* to hobble the titanic abomination ...

And hopefully, keep its lethal attentions off of Homura.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Admonishment on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

At the stadium there's a lightshow that's impossible to miss, and as Kasagami finally crests upon the short from the destroyed bridge and it's lake crossing, she lands on a pile of rubble that was once a skyscraper taken down by Homura and her seemingly unlimited pile of bombs.

The young woman's coat is tattered at the edges, hairties long since shed and a sheen of sweat and beads of water dripping down her as she flicks it off briefly before running a hand through her black-and-scarlet tresses. With a quick moment to catch her breath and survey what's before her, her eyes narrow at the crashing form of Walpurgisnacht into the stadium itself.

But the explosions she's seen so far pale in comparison to the absolute pillar of flame that erupts from those incalcuable amounts of C4 going off in their precise timing. Kasagami's boots dig into rebar and steel as her coat is brought up to stave off the backblast. Pushed grindingly back from the pure force of it, and the monstrous flames have her gritting her teeth. In, out. Her heart feels like it's going to explode. With one more gasping breath, Kasagami is simply gone in a flash of movement.

The damned soul Walpurgisnacht still lives despite, and disgorges others of it's ilk. A building later, and Homura doesn't seem to be moving. Despite her speed, despite how she desires to, she's still far too close to help the Puella Magi.

"HOMURA!" Kasagami screams, half in rage and half in worry. She's still a Shepherd, even if one that's never grown close. For the Duelist, it's enough, no matter what turmoil the girl might have placed in the Araki head's heart.

"You'd better be alive, you and I are going to have one very long talk after all this! UNDERSTAND!?" Shouts the girl, continuing to vent her frustrations and horror and that tingle of excitement coursing through her at such an apocalyptic event. One with a face, that living storm known as Walpurgisnacht that looms over the fallen Homura.

Over a Shepherd. A monster, maybe once a girl, nevertheless now ready to take an estranged member of the family away.

Lightning bolts and flame and a flanking Lion catch her sight, and Kasagami avoids the gears others are attacking upon the looming Witch. No, something else beneath those skirts calls to herself and her blade. Steeling herself, she says a quiet prayer of thanks to her departed Mother for the skill and tenacity she imparted. The many long nights of dojo lessons, and aching knees and blistered hands.

There's times where it's imperative to rely on feints, dodges, and complicated footwork to defeat an opponent. The grand Dame's attention however, is very much turned. There's simply no need, and so Kasagami leaps high into the air on magically fueled powerful legs that leave broken concrete behind her as she becomes a streaking comet of black-and-red.

She tumbles, spins, the Duelist's straightforward and basic leap having her blade held up high in both hands as she rotates. Steam floods from the edge of her blade as friction builds from the sheer speed that this girl is working with, paying no attention to how the soles of her boots start to melt as she moves at a rate a human shouldn't. Then she pulls her spin short to right herself.

Her hair is the tail of her comet as she makes for that turning gearshaft upon Walpurgisnacht. Her hands are like rocks, gripped tightly and strongly. With a martial warcry, she puts blade, body, and sheer momentum into a diagonal crashing slice as though she were crashing in from re-entry upon the Earth.

Steel flashes, and her swing leaves beautiful afterimages in it's wake.

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Falling Petals Cut The Soul on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Mars [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Sailor Mars consumes flame with flame and they sail up, north-south-east-west as they explode into light and magic. She is tense as she runs through her options, as they run through their options.

Somewhere in there, Rei Hino is praying.

And in the end she covers her mouth to cover her relieved smile, the gasp; filling her lungs with air after a moment hanging loosely in time. (An entire tower, she remarks to herself, toppled by one girl. And who said Cures can't fly, and --) all at once the thoughts are disrupted by one which looms over all of them: where's Usagi?

Sailor Mars looks and she finds her, catching up. "Sailor Moon!" She calls, to her, in reproach -- in relief, as she rushes to her. "Come on," she grasps her hand, holds it tightly. "We're not done yet!" She speaks in fierce encouragement, as if she could be the fighting spirit for Sailor Moon in this moment.

And then the world explodes.

Well -- a particular point in the world. A glow which becomes a light which becomes a pyre which becomes a searing tower of Babylon, and Mars's hand loosens and falls in her shock. Her hair flutters behind her like a war-banner, each strand feeling its own angle of impact.

"Homura-san," she whispers, under her breath, and she starts running.

She's faster than an arrow and she's so, so slow, and Homura fights alone and she falls, falls with the crushing finality of the Easter Department Store. "-- HOMURA-SAN!" Sailor Mars yells again, as if perhaps Homura will get up and flip her hair and ignore her prattling like Mars feels she would. It's not right to see her sprawled like that -- wounded. Perhaps it's a mercy when she can't see her at all, except that Walpurgisnacht blocks their view, and it is no mercy at all.

"Right," Sailor Mars nods to Sailor Moon, as she manages to say it before she could. They need to get Walpurgisnacht's attention; they can't leave Homura alone.

Mars brings her hands together in a meditative gesture, index fingers laid against each other; a single spark of flame erupts from their point, not a colour out of space or explosive ordinance but hot and orange-red -- "FIRE --" and growing, growing in a spiral, "-- SOUL!" Grown to conflagration, it coils as it rises, at just the right angle to meet...

... a tiara.

It's like catching a bird mid-flight, that sacred nimble little thing which carves through darkness. Flame meets it and all a sudden the spiral is localised to the tiara's own trajectory, a spinning inferno, light from two separate viewpoints come together.

And all together, they shear into those gears.

COMBAT: Sailor Mars has joined the combo started by Sailor Moon!
COMBAT: Sailor Moon has started a combo targeting Pink Moon Stick!
COMBAT: Sailor Mars has joined the combo started by Sailor Moon!
COMBAT: COMBO! Sailor Moon and Sailor Mars have used All-Star Senshi! on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Vita Yagami [None] has posed.

Vita huffs and puffs in the air overhead, watching the desperate onslaught that shatters the meteoric kill-weapon - she has to think of it in those terms, harken back to more warlike fields than this, to contextualize the monstrosity she's just seen - and the fruit it bears. Success, of a kind, but...

Vita looks across Tokyo's much-reduced skyline. She's seen things like this before, but seeing it from where she is now, WHO she is now, she feels her heart quail in her chest. She draws in dusty air, spits it back out, and drives. Her magic flares and she drives toward the creature - as the sky explodes.

She squawks a word Hayate would be VERY cross with her for even knowing and slams her hand down onto her hat, just before the shockwave-wind would've stolen it away. Her long skirt whirls up, flying up to her knees in the blast wave.

She bulls through, drilling past the pressure wave, trying to maintain course through the chaotic air that follows until she's forced to slam into a surviving rooftop and stumble a few steps to a stop. She watches the light beginning to clear...

She shakes the anxiety out and blasts back off, just in time for the answering shot to pierce Homura's dust cloud, once and then twice, the hurled building--

She can't see what it did actually. Vita finds she does not greatly care what happens to Homura Akemi. "EISEN!" she calls instead, and Eisen throbs at her, blasts of magic ripping out of her as the Cartridge system fires in sequence, again and again.

Her hammer grows again as she appraoches, blasting to full splendor in five heartbeats, and then she roars wordlessly at the distracted creature as she swings a hammer tens of times her size with a child's arms, crashing the power of the monster-slaying Giganthammer against its automatic spine.

COMBAT: Vita Yagami has used Giganthammer on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick perfectly counters 52 Fatigue damage from Lera Camry's Magma Bomb, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical
Counter!  Pink Moon Stick's Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick's counterattack, Insatiable Laughter, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Lera Camry!  
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick perfectly dodges 31 Fatigue damage from Lancelot's The Mother of all Lightning Bolts, taking 0 Fatigue
damage!  Critical Dodge!  Pink Moon Stick's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick braces 14 Fatigue damage from Steven Universe's Just Lion Things, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Pink Moon
Stick's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick decisively counters 48 Fatigue damage from Mai Tokiha's Indignant Immolation, taking 16 Fatigue damage!
Pink Moon Stick's Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!  Diversion applied to Pink Moon Stick!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick's counterattack, Insatiable Laughter, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Mai Tokiha!  
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick perfectly dodges 33 Fatigue damage from La Sirene de Diamant's Les Mysteres, taking 0 Fatigue damage!
Critical Dodge!  Pink Moon Stick's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick braces 59 Fatigue damage from Sailor Moon and Sailor Mars's Combo: All-Star Senshi!, taking 48 Fatigue
damage!  Critical Hit!  Pink Moon Stick's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick perfectly dodges 15 Fatigue damage from Fuu Hououji's Winds of Admonishment, taking 0 Fatigue damage!
Critical Dodge!  Pink Moon Stick's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick counters 11 Fatigue damage from Vita Yagami's Giganthammer, taking 33 Fatigue damage!  Pink Moon Stick's
Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!  Cripple applied to Pink Moon Stick!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick's counterattack, Insatiable Laughter, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Vita Yagami!  
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick dodges 27 Fatigue damage from Kasagami Araki's Falling Petals Cut The Soul, taking 18 Fatigue damage!
Pink Moon Stick's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

The fire is hungry. Cure Passion knows hunger--knows the ache of what one must take, the viciousness of it. But this familiarity does not bring with it relief--No.

Light, and unlight flash, and Cure Passion can still see the afterimages of those beautiful, terrible colors from moments ago, of the flame that wanted her, too... Of the thing that took Juuban from her senpai Black and from herself.

When there is finally quiet, Cure Passion blinks back to the ground again, hitting a crouch on one knee, breathing, focused. She looks up, though the sickly shield...

The incredible explosion that comes beggars belief. Once, Cure Passion had to ask the purpose of something like 'imagination', and a tiny, rational voice within her suggests that the capacity to understand something like this is what it can mean. The twinkle of light, the column of flame, the reddened sky. Passion stares up at it, as her beautiful hair ruffles in the shockwave. She knows, in that instant.

...There is no going back. There is no simple solution, no easy figuring it out. And yet... It is not a knowledge that makes her despair alone. No, not when she looks to the side, and sees--Cure Black emerging from wreckage.

"Let's go," Cure Passion says, to one of Pretty Cure and to herself for that matter, and takes off at a run, keeping up with Lera Camry flying not far above. Maybe, if she tried, she could blip forward, close the distance. ...And run alone, into the jaws of this thing. No. It would not even be a sacrifice, only an ending.

But her heart hurts as she sees the column of light burst. These strange and terrible colors, this vertical lance. Her eyes widen, and her breathing stops for an instant as she watches Homura hit, and as she sees...

Those girls. Through the debris, through what used to be buildings that might block her vision, Cure Passion sees the girls she was so certain must be answered. This is no fantasy. What must they have wanted? What was their happiness, back when they were allowed to have it and hope?

She doesn't need to look at the others to know they are travelling as fast as they can. But she does skid to something like a stop--beyond, she can see Homura, alive, she thinks. ...But here... This Witch, this... someones, who beggar scale and exist so far beyond so much, recalling to Passion perhaps a memory of a thing she brought forth once that was so many worlds behind now.

Gears... And that awful laughter. The building comes around, drops--


Lera flies up with Broken Ground, and Cure Passion's eyes snap for an instant towards her partner. She looks again, to where the debris is still going, and she sees--she thinks--a glimmer--

Cure Passion has never liked Homura Akemi. She doesn't think she's ever come close, really,to understanding her. ...But since when did these things start with understanding each other? Since when was that the prerequisite? She recalls the empty city of that other world.

...Why didn't she finish her off? Maybe... Maybe, because...

"...It's not right," Cure Passion agrees with La Sirene, in that moment, stepping up beside her--beside her, once again, red and red. She heard what she said, before. She knows it now. And as La Sirene rushes ahead--

"...Home," Cure Passion agrees. "...Akemi-san..."

"...Please, keep doing your very best. We're here, now. ...Like it or not."

She turns to the side, extends her hand to Cure Black. "I think we can do more from higher up. Ready?"

When Cure Black takes Cure Passion's hand, they will both shine, and the flash will reappear up, up, up, high above--on top of the gargatuan and terrible Witch's spinning gears, where the younger Cure immediately whirls to put her back to Cure Black's. "...I'll cover you," she promises. "Let's go!"

The brilliant, shining Souls around them--these are the first thing that Passion checks, prepares for. She launches in sync with Cure Black in a different way than Black might with White, or Passion might with Peach; they do not know one another's movements so perfectly. ...Instead, they take different tasks--

As Familiars(?) rush to intercept them, Cure Passion launches herself at the first of them, a hooking punch causing her to whirl with the first strike and drop into a spinning trip along the ground, rolling in place to hop up with a knee to the next. She leaves Cure Black's work to her--

And her fists flash red with each strike, her pink hair trailing behind her as surely as the light.

COMBAT: Cure Passion has started a combo targeting Pink Moon Stick!
<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.

The pain in Endo's legs has long since faded. It is replaced, instead, by the burning of his lungs, each heavy breath coursing through him like flame. The sound of his feet striking the wet pavement beneath is muted in the howling laughter that rebounds through the stillness of Tokyo. He weaves between wreckage in his path, resisting the heaving urge in his stomach.

Movement is hard without magical aid. Ren Aizawa's ferried him most of the way over burning wreckage and twisted heaps that made up his beloved Tokyo places, but he has to make the last bit of the trek himself. She wouldn't want him to--and what good would be he anyway?--but to Endo there's no choice but to go forward.

The explosion in Shibuya and the brief quiet after gave him some momentary hope that the conflict was over. That, despite this great cost, life could go on again.

Small hope, and not long lived.

He comes to an unsteady stop at a corner, hand reaching to catch the side of a stone building small enough to still stand. He doesn't have to look through the skyline to see the burning shape of Walpurgisnacht rise from the wreckage of the stadium, because the witch IS the skyline now.

One more time he holds up the stone that he's kept locked in his fist, his grip closed to tight and so long he's unsure whether uncurling his fingers is even a possibility anymore.

"Fallen Stern, please, set up."

No response comes. There's a price that comes with breaking a contract.

And when his plea is met with no response, he takes a shaking breath.

"Then I'll do it myself."

Endo stumbles, wobbles a few inches forward before he forces his feet to move in a straight line again. Toward the towering, grinding gears.

<Pose Tracker> Cure Black [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

Cure Black's orange head breaks the water with a gasp. The resevoir basin is open, forming a brackish metal pool clouded with so much concrete dust it looks like a mint milkshake. Squirting some water from her teeth, Black can confirm that it is not a mint milkshake. Taking a deep breath, she dunks herself again, feet reaching for the ground. Unlike her junior, Cure Bloom, she cannot fly.

A moment later, Cure Black erupts from the water, landing with a clank on the metal flooring. Coughing water, she shakes her head like a wet dog, spraying dark dots onto the dust around her. Blinking away the sting in her eyes, she sees that the ruins have been torn open, giving her a direct line of sight to the shelter. It's completely intact, the shattered Shibuya skycraper resting in peace and pieces some distance away. Closing her eyes, she gives thanks for a moment.

"Where'd everybody...?" she starts to wonder, before a shockwave of wind hits her, blasting her sodden hair like a hairdryer. In the far distance, she can see flames. Downtown... which way is that? Being Precure has forced Black to learn a lot more about navigation than she used to know. That's gotta be just a bit past Shibuya... squinting, she tries to make sense of what's going on above.

"Cure Passion!" she coughs, as her compatriot appears again. Until now, she wasn't sure she could stand yet. The blood rushed to her head during all that, it feels like. She's never lifted that much weight before. But with her kouhai here, looking pained, suddenly rising is a matter of making Passion feel better. With a groan as her quads engage, Black tilts herself up, takes a running start, and clears the resevoir pool, falling into place with Passion as they go.

Now they stand beneath the Lady herself. "Huwaito," Black whispers to herself. Looking down, she sees a different hand extended to her. That's right. There are others who need Cure White, too. Just like there are others who need her.

Black feels her stomach lurch as Passion teleports her, but her eyes sharpen. "I'm in your care," she tells Passion resolutely. "Tell me if you're having trouble, because I'm not even gonna look back!"

With a clank Cure Black drops onto the massive gear. It's dizzyingly vast for a Tokyo girl--when's the last time Black saw so much open space--and makes the girders from before seem like toothpicks with its thickness. But relying on Passion to keep the shadowsparkle girls from her, Black sets her knees against the angle and draws back one powerful, heart-studded fist.

"Hey," she realizes idly, calling out. "I didn't think Lera-san was a Cure... so why are you always together?"

With that thought, Black slams her fist down, and unleashes her great strength on the unyielding surface below. Like a jackhammer she work with both fists, punching down rapidly, her knuckles seemingly impervious to the metal heavy bag she's working. "AAAAA-atchatchatchatcha!" she cries, a martial rhythm of ki shouts barely audible over the constant drumming of metal.

For Juuban lacrosse and their poor smashed field! HUNDRED FIERCE FISTS!

COMBAT: Cure Black has joined the combo started by Cure Passion!
COMBAT: COMBO! Cure Passion and Cure Black have used Combo: Flashing Fists, composed of Passion Flash and Hundred Fierce Fists, on
Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to counter Cure Passion and Cure Black's Combo: Flashing Fists, taking 98 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick's counterattack, Insatiable Laughter, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Cure Passion!  
<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.
<SoundTracker> MAGIA https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Xp_3r_nFGs
Someday, the light of love that you set                   
aflame in your eyes                             

At first, even getting the attention of the Stage-Seeking Witch feels like a monumental task. Lera and Ground's magma strike splashes against the gears harmlessly, while they choose to move, a single tick, just at the right, random moment, to evade Lancelot's empyrean summoning, which grounds out harmlessly in the rubble below. Les Mysteres is distressingly ineffective, Walpurgisnacht moving through it as though it's simply fog.

will transcend time                             
and surely destroy one dream                        

Maybe she has ears, somewhere, under that wimple, because the first time she even slows on her approach to the helpless Puella Magi is when her skirts are ruffled by the passing of Lion's sonic roar. They ripple, picking up the oscillations, then still back into place.

Her head abruptly spins a full one-eighty -- the rest of her still gears -- and she inhales...

of this world that hurries to its ruin.                   

...and exhales more of that awful flame, the flame that she's used to set buildings afire while they were scraping the sky, and other parts of Tokyo as well. It billows towards Steven like glorious, brilliantly-colored fog, but for all that its speed is almost gentle on approach, the boy can feel its heat long before it arrives to claim him and his steed.

Swallow down your hesitation.                        
What is it that you wish for?                        

Mai and Kagutsuchi herald their arrival with flame that leaves distressingly few marks on those mighty gears; it hits just at the same moment as Sailor Moon and Mars' flaming tiara, though, and there's a blinding flash that feels like progress.

Whether it is or not is hard to say, because by now Walpurgisnacht has finished rotating the rest of her body to match her head, and the gears are behind her, pulled neatly away from Fuu's attempted grip just as she tries to seize them up.

It turns out Rei Hino is not the only one who likes to fight fire with fire; more follows.

On the path of greed,                            
as hungry as this,                             
will there be a transient tomorrow?                     

The one thing wholly motionless in all this was the gearshaft that seems to comprise Walpurgisnacht's core. It held utterly still, a convenient target, until just as Kasagami came into strike it, at which point it floated almost leisurely past her. One could attribute masterful skill to such a moment if one was fighting a regular opponent, but laughter rings in her ears and it's impossible to know if the dodge was even on purpose.

With power that can break the darkness,                   
like ancient magic                             

Vita does manage to get a hit, however, and may be surprised by the way Graf Eisen's end twists in her grip, the blow made clumsy by the sheer toughness of the material, the metal, the soulstuff... whatever it is... giganthammer is not going to be enough.

Cure Black gets in close and goes for the gears instead of the shaft, and it's easier going simply because they're just so incredibly enormous, though she's on the same side of them as the skirts, which surround her like a parachute in the gym.

She starts leaving dimpled little scars, like a one-girl outbreak of acne on Walpurgisnacht's lowest level. The bad news is that whenever they scroll past the skirts and out of sight, lost to the transcendent weirdness of her emanating mandala, by the time they've returned they're unblemished again. Did they heal? Or is the gear not a normal, three-dimensional rotation? It's eerie.

what I dreamed of when I was young,                     
I want to meet you and your smile.                     

A couple of huge slabs of Shibuya -- one looks like the corner of a big building, several stories' worth, another is unrecognizably blackened but of a roughly similar size, while the third might, might be the piece of the road with the base of Hachiko's statue -- descend at ramming speed, trying to slam the three of them into all-new craters of their very own.

In these frightened hands of mine,                     
courage is made of handpicked flowers                    

Finally, Cure Passion is the only one to engage -- she isn't sure what they are, and they aren't tellin'. At first they were mostly night skies, blue and starred, but they're starting to warm up as they engage with her in strike and counterstrike, both surrounding and outnumbering her quickly. It's easy for those nearby, including Lera, Lancelot and Fuu, to get swept up in this swirling, aerial melee.

At least -- the sparkling girls are aerial. Can you keep up?

Walpurgisnacht can. Behind her, the mandala flares, more and more brightly, and with greater and greater complexity.

There is... worrisomely... a sense of gathering power.

My feelings alone are all that I rely upon,                 
a wish that will awaken                           
the light.                                 

COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Conflagexhalation on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Conflagexhalation on Mai Tokiha.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Conflagexhalation on Sailor Moon.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Conflagexhalation on Sailor Mars.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used All The World's A Stage on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used All The World's A Stage on Vita Yagami.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used All The World's A Stage on Cure Black.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Ring Around The Roses on Cure Passion.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Ring Around The Roses on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Ring Around The Roses on Lancelot.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Ring Around The Roses on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Ring Around The Roses on La Sirene de Diamant.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Second Stage on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick accepts Pink Moon Stick's Second Stage, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Accelerate, Surge, and
Withstand applied to Pink Moon Stick!

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji cleanly braces 45 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Ring Around The Roses, taking 8 Fatigue damage!  Fuu
Hououji's Block and Parry abilities activate!  Trap applied to Fuu Hououji!
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant braces 44 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Ring Around The Roses, taking 19 Fatigue damage!
Critical Hit!  La Sirene de Diamant's Block and Parry abilities activate!  Diversion applied to La Sirene de Diamant!
COMBAT: Lancelot braces 35 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Ring Around The Roses, taking 15 Fatigue damage!  Lancelot's
Block and Parry abilities activate!  Diversion and Tangle applied to Lancelot!
COMBAT: Sailor Moon partially dodges 6 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Conflagexhalation, taking 23 Fatigue damage!  Pink
Moon Stick is Psyched!  Sailor Moon's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Mai Tokiha braces 21 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Conflagexhalation, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Sailor Mars fails to dodge Pink Moon Stick's Conflagexhalation, taking 29 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Lera Camry braces 37 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Ring Around The Roses, taking 16 Fatigue damage!  Lera Camry's
Block and Parry abilities activate!  Diversion applied to Lera Camry!
COMBAT: Cure Passion neatly dodges 60 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Ring Around The Roses, taking 15 Fatigue damage!
Critical Hit!  Cure Passion's Fade and Flash abilities activate!  Diversion, Tangle, and Trap applied to Cure Passion!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki dodges 42 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's All The World's A Stage, taking 28 Fatigue damage!
Kasagami Araki's Fade and Flash abilities activate!  Stagger applied to Kasagami Araki!
COMBAT: Vita Yagami cleanly braces 57 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's All The World's A Stage, taking 10 Fatigue damage!
Vita Yagami's Block and Parry abilities activate!  Stagger applied to Vita Yagami!
COMBAT: Cure Black cleanly braces 68 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's All The World's A Stage, taking 12 Fatigue damage!
Cure Black's Block and Parry abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"Endo!" Lera shouts, looking back at him. Why isn't he transforming? Why isn't Fallen Stern answering him? "Please! You need to get to cover, if you can't--"

Her cry dies in her throat. She sees the magma bomb, with all of its fiery promise, just bounce off the gears. Lera shakes her head sharply, trying to clear it -- trying to not let herself be brought down by how easily it held her strike at bay. Flying, she finds herself suddenly the target of some of those flying figures. One comes rushing at her--

<Protection!> Broken Ground chimes, and a barrier of interlocked hexagons appears. Sparks fly when the hand of the strange thing smashes into the shield. Lera's teeth grit together. She looks towards Cure Passion for a moment. Then, she looks to her other side.

To Vita Yagami.

"VITA!" she yells. "Both of us, together! Let's clear as many of these things out as we can!"

Lera swings Broken Ground around. She flies up, then sets her feet down on a spinning magical circle in the air. Broken Ground is swung down; the clockwork hammerhead splits -- and then, beads of light draw into it, one after the other, before a massive beam of light explodes from it and hurtles across the seeming-Familiars and on towards those terrible gears.

"Raid--" <--CROSS!>"

COMBAT: Lera Camry has started a combo targeting Pink Moon Stick!
<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Ajinomoto Stadium +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
 Though its primary purpose is soccer/football games (the Japanese use both    
 terms for the same popular sport), Ajinomoto Stadium is used for many         
 different sports year-round. One of the largest stadiums in Tokyo at 50,000   
 seats, Ajinomoto is a donut-shaped disk of white poles located near the       
 Chofu Airport, and sunken partially into the ground to avoid disrupting the   
 planes, such that its playing field is considerably below ground level. Two   
 vast tiers of seating ring the field, which during soccer season is a         
 rectangle of green grass. During rainy days or the hotter periods of Tokyo's  
 scorching summers, a panorama roof extends to shield viewers from the         
 Ajinomoto is unusually well-integrated into the Chofu community, and is       
 often put to other purposes. It is an emergency station during extreme        
 weather events, but when the weather is pleasant instead of dangerous, its    
 law is often converted into a sprawling open-air flea market, with tables     
 and stalls selling used goods to bargain hunters.                             

A girl and a mascot stand together at the top of a shelter staircase. Through the frosted glass window of the stadium's front, they can only see the wind-tossed silhouettes of trees.

"Can Homura-chan and the others really do it?"

Madoka is quiet, so serious that she's almost subdued.

<< Would you believe me if I said she can't? But I don't have to tell you. You can see how poorly Homura Akemi will do against Walpurgisnacht with your own eyes. >>

The Incubator is... itself.

"Why does she keep on fighting?"

<< Because she hasn't lost hope yet. If she fails, she'll just negate this timeline and continue her battle. Despite what has happened, she will continue this meaningless chain of events. For her, stopping or giving up is out of the question by now. >>

Madoka's face fills with pain, but the Incubator is, as is typical, inexorable.

<< The moment she realizes she can't change your fate, Homura Akemi will despair and turn into a grief seed. She knows that, too. So she has no choice. She will fight even if it's hopeless. >>

The softness of Madoka's voice is rooted in misery, but in something else, too. Something more important.

"You mean, she can't be saved before her hope is restored?"

<< Exactly. She's just the same as any other Puella Magi. Madoka, you've seen it too, right?" >>







Madoka's eyes widen, then collapse behind her lashes, and her strangled breath turns into strangled vomit, and finally into strangled sobs.

She paws at her sniffling nose.

At her leaking eyes.

"But," she blubbers. "But-- but--!!"

And for what feels like the first time in ages, perhaps ever, her eyes open fully. All the way.

The resolve behind them is crystal clear.

She turns on her heel and starts walking downstairs--

--when someone catches her dangling hand, stopping her dead in her tracks.

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.

The shape of Walpurgisnacht only gets bigger. It fills the horizon, the dim shapes of Endo's friends and allies just small specks against it's terrible background. Compared to their embers, he's just a speck. It doesn't stop him.

<YOU'LL DIE.> The rock between Endo's fingers warbles, rousing from slumber for the first time in a week.

"There's nothing else I can do!" The words are half-formed and ragged. The clarity matters little when both Device and wielder's minds are stitched together by their link.


"I want--to protect--everyone!" They're hardly words at this point. Breathing is hard, but the sentiment needs to be said.


BGM Change: The Way Home - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCikIkXslP0

"It always has been."

Every time. This one is no different.


It might be asking too much to acknowledge Endo's words with any more than that.

But it is acknowledged.

Purple light flares outward as Endo changes, magical energy racing across his body and forming the armor of his barrier jacket around him in a heartbeat. The explosion that comes after is preceded only briefly by the sigil of Belkan magic, a burning triangle that stretches across the street and abruptly detonates.

Endo isn't running anymore. The remaining stretch of buildings move by at breakneck speed, the distance separating the boy from the mechanical mass of the witch decreasing by the second. The momentum of the spell takes him toward the burning haze of magic that crawls toward Steven Universe, and the boy about to be engulfed.


More triangles form as Endo takes his place in front of Steven. The dome comes next, a purple-black shield of energy that creates a garish wall in front of the burning cloud.

"It's okay!" He calls, party to assure Lera's earlier concerns and those of the boy nearby. "We're here!"

COMBAT: Endo Naoki transforms into Barrier Jacket Aufprall!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki covers Steven Universe for Pink Moon Stick's attack, Conflagexhalation, taking it upon himself instead!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki fails to brace Pink Moon Stick's Conflagexhalation, taking 42 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  
<Pose Tracker> Vita Yagami [None] has posed.

Vita's hands ring with the shock of Giganthammer's strike. Not enough to down it in one. Well that was expected, though it's alarming just how little that hit did. Usually she can at least bother the big ones.

Eisen chimes at her and she wheels around, already scything the megahammer in a downward SLAM toward what she suspects is coming. It slams the oncoming fragment of BUILDING into flinders, the resulting meteoric scattering pelting her defenses with debris. Her arms hurt in the bones, her entire skeleton resonating with the force of those impacts. She shoots back, buying herself some room to assess. The battle's been joined in earnest, but Walpurgisnacht is every bit as terrifying as Kyubey promised. She had dared to hope the little rat was lying.

But no, that was foolish. That wasn't the kind of trick it liked, was it?

Lera's call gets her attention and she looks up and over. She nods, shooting up into a bombardment position. The Knight of Iron likes it up close, but she's VERY capable of bombardment.

She gets up on Lera's level, flexing her fingers once and then flipping them wide - little spheres of iron appearing in a flash between her fingertips. She tosses these into the air, then a second set, then a third set, and a fourth, the spheres all independently expanding from golfballs to softballs.

"RAID!" Vita echoes, then shifts her stance to grab Eisen again, and swings the Giganthammer at ALL of the airborn Swallow Flyers and hits ALL of them at once, sending two dozen plus iron spheres scattering on self-propelled magical trajectories, blasting down to pelt the familiars and Witch all at once!

<<CROSS!>> Eisen cheers, always happy to be included.

COMBAT: Vita Yagami has joined the combo started by Lera Camry!
COMBAT: COMBO! Lera Camry and Vita Yagami have used Raid Cross on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Cure White [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Honoka's Theme https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rH_YPKIMMLg

Cure Black SHOULD have just been thrown from gear to ground with an intermediate step of breaking a chunk of building with her body, but the final piece of that puzzle, the ground-hitting, never happens.

Instead, she can feel a pair of silky-smooth arms wrapped around her torso -- and her landing is as soft as soft can be.

Not that she has to, but looking down, she can see that her savior's sleeve-length fingerless gloves are hwaito.

They show dirt, ash, grime and a little blood a lot more than Black's outfit, and her entire regalia tells a tale of considerable strife.

But Honoka Yukishiro wears her heart on her fists, and she is intact. They makes a soft stretching sound, their blue surfaces expanding, as she tightens her grip around Nagisa from behind.

Cure White tucks her chin on Cure Black's shoulder, and murmurs something in her ear.

Give them some privacy; or if you won't, Cure White's hair, which is blown by a wayward gust to fan thickly around them both like a glorious shadowy curtain, will.

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


The words of the Minagi patriarch echo through a world painted in black, water rippling unseen down below. The Obsidian Palace is a cold place; perhaps that is why Mikoto's Lord Brother has dressed her warmly. He looks up at the screens as they show the oncoming storm, and behind him, she bears witness. This is what Eri was so worried about, she thinks; what Kyouko felt calmer about; what Homura knew about, saying nothing. Keeping everyone safe from it mattered to Eri.

His words echo and hers do not, because she has not been spoken to. She speaks less and less, now; she is seen and not heard.

And suddenly, all she sees is him as he steps back towards her. He is larger than she is; when he stands between her and the hundred-hundred wires all she sees is his face. A broad hand reaches to her, cupping her cheek, fingers curling at her jaw as he tilts her face up with sure and gentle movement.

"Stay here with me, Mikoto." It is so evident to her why he would insist, in strength and love. Nothing would dare touch them here, in his inner sanctum. This is the still-beating heart of his imperium, and he would not suffer any threats to what he considers so, so precious. Love floods her eyes, leaks down to be rubbed gently away by a thumb.

No - not just love.

Mikoto is afraid, with no dark corner to hide in. She is afraid for them, all those little people still scurrying on the surface, trying their best to stand against the tide. Scared and worried and anxious, and the conflict between fear and love is so evident on her face. So evident in her eyes, captured by his and unable to look away. There is a thread of desperation and pleading in hers, as his knowing gaze bores into her.

Her lips tremble and part - her jaw shifts - as if she wants to say something. Say anything to beg his favour to help them. She's strong, she thinks. He has given her such strength, and she could help, she knows she could. She wants to help.

(It's how Nagi first got her attention, after all.)

But she finds she is not strong enough to say anything at all. He values her silence too much.

It is not the only thing he values, as he wipes a tear from her cheek. Sorrow weighs his eyes, a deep and knowing sadness as he sees the pain which flutters in her shallow-breathing chest. His eyes are not dry, either, as his other hand strokes down short hair to curl at the back of her neck. He presses, gently: "Do you understand?"

The question is a familiar cadence, in his voice, and she hears herself reply: "Yes, Lord Brother." She says it and at once it is true, distance separating her from her distress with the warm thrum at her chest. She understands that she must trust him, because she cannot comprehend the terrible weight of command. She does not have the perspective to speak up.

No matter what she feels, he knows what's best for her.

"Mikoto," his voice rumbles low in his chest as he rubs away another tear, and it sounds like approval. His approval. It gentles her expression further, as he gentles the back of her neck. "You can watch," he suggests, soothingly, and she hears in it generous allowance. She nuzzles her cheek into his palm in silent gratitude, cradled in his hands as she looks up to him.

He strokes her cheek, affection carrying through his fingertips, and slowly steps away. She is left to look up at the screens which allow the world no secrets either, and she can feel his eyes on her, and in a way she supposes they always are.

He can see everything, from his Palace.

She looks up, and she can see everything too.

Horror builds slowly in her body, as it overwhelms the distance she gained from it. A city emptied - of everyone but her friends. Her friends, who stayed to fight. But they are ants before Walpurgisnacht, she thinks, as her eyes widen and her breath shallows anew.

Mikoto sees a shock of orange hair on one particular monitor, and her brow arcs and her jaw drops, and she cannot help wanting to be there again, some old re-ignition promise vibrating volcanic in her chest. She presses her teeth firmly to her bottom lip, nails biting the palms of her hands as she tries to push it aside. It doesn't matter, she thinks, because she can't go. She has to stay here. He wants to keep her safe because he loves her. How can she argue against that - just because there's someone out there she --

Anyway, Mikoto tries to justify it to herself, she wouldn't even want her help, would she?

(Mikoto has not dared to check her phone.)

She's not the only one. Everyone is out there - everyone. Her friends, and the people she was slowly coming to see as something other than enemies, too. The city doesn't stand a chance in the wake of Walpurgisnacht's destruction, and everyone is...

Homura, crushed under an entire department store.

Lancelot, fighting in wordless fury.

Kasagami, trying to reach her fellow Shepherd no matter what.

Even that boy, she thinks, who manages to beg favour even though he went against the will of his blade.

And Madoka... Mikoto promised to...

... none of those promises mean anything any more, she realises. They can't. She doesn't have the authority to promise anything.

But even still, her eyes keep coming back to one monitor - one girl, and the Child she stands with, washed with flame which stands slightly to the side of how flame ought to look. Mai, the name floods her mind, even as she tries not to feel so strongly. Mai. Mai!

Her hand claps to her mouth to stifle a cry, tears wracking her chest and shuddering her shoulders. She moans quiet despondence through her fingers, because she knows, soul-deep, there's nothing she can do for her - for any of them.

She can't be there for them.

Not any more.

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Moon [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

For all their fire. It feels like Walpurgisnacht has worse. Sailor Moon might have cheered Kagutsuchi's arrival the way she might have cheered an unstoppable force showing up. The Witch proves otherwise in an instant. In a brilliantly colored wave that looks like a dark rainbow smearing the landscape. The Senshi pivots into a quick leap. The roar of flames searing her Fuku as she goes aerial.

Her tiara returns midflight, a bright disk still trailing wisps of smoke from Mars' flames.

It's less a flip now that the flames have struck her. It's more an uncontrolled dive. And yet her hand reaches out to snatch the tiara all the same.

Striking the ground, she bounces - smokes. Is still for a few moments, "I wish... I could take a nap... Mars-chan..." She squeezes out of her lips when she trusts herself to make any noise other than a whimper, "If I weren't Sailor Moon right now..." The girl whispers on the ground, agonized, tears in her eyes as if she'd touched a hot stove and was dealing with the pain, "...I'd be safe... warm..."

Please... Please don't do anything you'd regret.

"... drinking cocoa..."

She didn't have to be. A friend once assured her of that. That could be where she is right now. Destiny and Mission discarded.

Putting her palms down, she forces herself up. It's not hopeless yet - and even if it was.

She wants to be here.

From her vantage point, she can see the direction of the battle. The swarm of the familiars encircling Passion - Lera - like colorful dots in the sky. Pestering La Sirene on the ground.

With her Tiara still in her hand, she brings it to gleaming brilliance. "Moon Tiara-" There's a certain magical geometry in her head that she instinctively grasps, as she coaxes her arm not into a flick of the wrist, but brings it down and under like an underhand pitch. "-BOOMERANG!"

The Tiara spins out like a flickering beacon in the night, beelining for the familiars that are surrounding La Sirene. Whatever instinct these shape of girls possess, they will still likely move out of the way of the projectile anyhow. If it strikes any of them - it would be distressingly ineffective. Yet her intent is not to strike any of them. It is to simply bait them into giving each of them breathing room.

It passes between La Sirene and the familiars close enough that it feels like it would buzz off their sparkly hair. It then arcs upwards - passing between aerial Lera and the familiars that are hindering her, twirling around in a spin that it feels might carve off hand or foot if they don't back off from her.

Up and up it goes, before twirling back to return to the Sailor Senshi who threw it. It is a spectacular feint then that it passes by Cure Passion on the way, flashing blinding brilliance so close that it might seem like a twin-tailed sparkle shape might be Guillotined if it does not let go of her.

It is all a singular ploy, to give each of them breathing room. To tell these creatures to back off.

"Everyone - watch each other's backs! We're stronger when we do! Stronger than this thing!"

At D-Point they all cheered her on. Right now - she will do the same. It is what she knows to do when faced by an insurmountable foe. It is what all of them taught her.

COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used Moon Tiara Boomerang on Cure Passion.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used Moon Tiara Boomerang on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used Moon Tiara Boomerang on La Sirene de Diamant.
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant accepts Sailor Moon's Moon Tiara Boomerang, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Cleanse! All of La Sirene de
Diamant's debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: Cure Passion accepts Sailor Moon's Moon Tiara Boomerang, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Cleanse! All of Cure Passion's debuffs
are cleared!
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Welcome to the Warzone - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H31KNBevLF4&list=PLE3D07CF18375CFC0&index=79&t=0s

Well, to be fair, Lancelot knew SOMETHING was coming. The black shapes with starlight in them swarm in and Lancelot parries strike after strike. Each parry is heralded by a flash of light, a spark of thunder and a crackle of energy. He mvoes through the attacks, twin swords flashing left and right, high and low and enter, behind and in front, and even above. Demon's Bane glows white while he parries the incoming attacks, but one slips past his graceful defense, slicing a deep gash on his cheek and driving him back a stumbled step or two. He barely manages to parry the next few that come for him.

Lancelot however is a fighter, and he regains his footing quickly, and his eyes track around him, specifically the arial battle. He twirls both blades of Arondight and crouches.

His eyes track Cure Passion fighting, well, Passionately. He notices when she's hurtled skyward by attacking ... Pixies ... He's calling them Pixies. And then launches himself.

Lancelot can't fly. That's something left for Sparkles, and a spell Merlin couldn't cast right now even if he was here. You need a voice for that. Instead, Lancelot is jsut ... Fast. He runs up the side of a ruined building, and at it's apex pushes off. He soars with his back facing the ground and his head arched and arms wide for a good second or two before he twists and brings Demon's Bane to bear.

Somewhere between ten and twenty stories the Chevalier Knight Lancelot meets the Pixies in the air beside Passion with a cry of: "LIGHTNING SLASH!!"

He still can't fly, but with every strike he pushes off, and flips through the air, sometimes higher, sometimes lower, sometimes on the same elevation. His blades dance and spin, and lighting crashes with booming thunder in the air, appearing for all intents and purposes like a whirling blender made of lightning and he times each strike to try and be helpful to Cure Passion. Sometimes distrating a Pixie there, trying to smite a Pixie there. Always flipping around, over and under Cure Passion.

He'd like to say he planned it, but the reality is half of it is dumb luck, and the other half is Cure passion's Pretty Cure skill.

Eventually however, what goes up, must come down. He was ready to make a super hero landing and hope that in this form he could take it, but he spies something better as he comes to the apex of his mad leap frog flight. Pushing off the last Pixie he flips and soars and falls, right onto Sparkles back. He has to catch himself by grabbing onto Fuu, but he greets her as he lands on the back of the Warhorse. "Hello girls! Having fun?"

COMBAT: Lancelot has started a combo targeting Pink Moon Stick!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick partially dodges 12 Fatigue damage from Lera Camry and Vita Yagami's Combo: Raid Cross, taking 46 Fatigue
damage!  Lera Camry and Vita Yagami are Psyched!  Pink Moon Stick's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

Lion's roar seems to do only so much as to gain Walpurgis' attention. Her size so large that the roar does little as far as damage goes. But it would be enough to save Homura.

The Stage-Setting Witch has a roar of her own. Flames and color from her mouth, atop a half-head that swivels mechanically to face the pair. Like a fireworks display caught aflame, it is both beautiful and horrifying to watch sail toward them.

The conflagration moves impossibly fast.

The colored flames reflect in the boy's eyes, even as he moves to speak warning to Lion.

There is a wave of heat. But fare less intense as expected. Lion skids to a halt. Steven looks up. It was forcibly blocked. And at the center of it all, was a guy.

A guy that gave him a lift when he couldn't jump high.

A guy that taught him how to ski.

A guy that fought with him when times got tough on a spaceship.

"E-Endo!" Steven calls out. That impact didn't look friendly; he seems hurt. "Thank you... Let's fight together and save the day!" he says, looking to his friend. He gives him a big ol' thumbs-up too!

A look out onto the battlefield. Even now everyone was launching everything they had at Walpurgisnacht. He had to do his best too! Everyone was counting on them all. And while many won't know the deeds of this day, that would be just fine with him.

"Let's continue the fight! Get in closer, Lion!" he says to his trusty steed-friend. Lion howls to the sky, and takes off, straight toward Walpurgis. "We gotta support the others somehow!"

COMBAT: Steven Universe has used Love Like You on Endo Naoki.
COMBAT: Endo Naoki accepts Steven Universe's Love Like You, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Surge applied to Endo Naoki!  
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The laughter booms in Kassie's head like someone had put monster truck sized speakers directly against her ears. The laughter too scrabbles its way along her inner ears and skull as though it were scratching gouts right inside of her head. Her blade tastes air with such precision that the Duelist would think that the massive thing is as light as a feather and twice as skilled as any gymnast in the air.

Using her own momentum, the young woman turns mid-fall to glare daggers at the monstrous thing and it's head. Her boot is seeking something to find as a perch, to leap off of for another attack run. Then tons of partially-smashed building are rushing for her before she can find something to land on. Said eyes go wide as she aims her feet for the oncoming debris!

Luckily her foot manages to find a fairly solid bit of water tower to hammer off of back towards the ground, though she's hardly out of danger. Tons of crumbling solid steel, concrete, portions of glass and rock come at her. The Duelist spins mid-air as she's so wont to do, her coat slapping away the worst of the more minor debris. Shards of glass stick into it like needles in a pincushion. Her blade is slashed at line after line of steel beams that almost impale her. Head tilting every now and then, she avoids getting those falling spears of metal to the neck or skull by mere inches. A foot lifts, avoiding a falling office chair at utterly absurd velocity.

She's relatively unscathed until a massive wooden desk goes all aspin, hammering right into her blind side at the midsection. Several unhealthy sounds come from the girl as she accellerates in a no longer controlled plummet, curling up into a ball before a single slash severs the desk wholesale.

Kassie bounces hard on the pavement below, pained gasps and hacking exiting her as she feels glass pierce shoulders and back. There's no time to worry over her swimming vision with red on the periphery, or the stinging all along her back and on her calves.

She rolls to her feet with an uncharacteristic stumble from such an impact, kicks her sword up with her back heel, and breaks into a flat-out run as the deadly crush of a building lays it's shadow across her. The Duelist skids, bends knee, and launches into the world's most perfect long-jump with the help of her Kassie-sized nodachi.

When she lands into her second roll with a number of displeased words on her lips, it's only thanks to that said perfection that she's managed to avoid getting crushed. Unpinning her coat to her back with a curse to the Witch's great great ancestor, the young woman rockets up the remains of the debris that nearly turned her into paste.

This time it's not a single concentrated slash. Instead, Kasagami flashes again and again and again from ruin to ruin, in wide rising and falling arcs. She's a blurr that at times seems to be in multiple places at once.

Her sword? Well, it's a flashing spark of steel towards the merest edge of gears if she can get close enough, otherwise ephemeral strikes homed in for the lost souls guarding them.

Her heart beats a little faster, eyeing the damage to the Witch by her allies and friends and done to them. At Endo's re-emergence with his weapon, the brave and wonderful Pretty Cure, and the combined forces of Mages, Wind Knight, Gem and Knight. Seeing all of them fight, these warriors, these friends, stirrs Kasagami's heart as she leaps again and again.

"It may be powerful, it may be massive, but this beast WILL fall before our might! I, Kasagami Araki, She Who Will Become King declares it! There's no greater army than one that fights for it's home!" Yells the girl encouragingly to the other, amidst flurried stabs.

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Crimson Flurry on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"Winds of Protection!!!" the Wind Knight calls out, nearly a yelp of panic in her haste to ward off the charge of ... shadows? Whatever these shapes are. Maybe familiars; maybe fledgling Witches; maybe the actual ghosts of former Puella Magi. Either way, a quickly conjured wind barrier blunts the bulk of the onslaught - not just for the Wind Knight's own sake, but trying to keep them off of Sparkles as well. Magical the warhorse may be, but real horses are very fragile, and she owes it to Lancelot to hand Sparkles back over in as healthy a shape as possible.

... and speaking of Lancelot, there he is, waaaay up in the air. "Come on, Sparkles-san," she urges the steed. "Your normal partner seems to be in a pinch!"

Oddly, it's harder to find confidence in her riding *now* than it was when Lancelot grabbed her for the Keiyou intervention. But now that she can (or has to) think about what she's doing? She's not only worried about getting underneath Lancelot in time to save him from a terminal encounter with the ground - and for all that the Witch is making hash out of physics, the law of gravity seems to remain wholly in effect.

"'Fun' isn't how I'd call it," she greets the lightning knight once he's back on his usual steed. "You look the worse for wear, too ... Winds of Healing!" she calls out, more softly than sometimes, and wraps them in a balmy, soothing, magical breeze: Lancelot, the Wind Knight's own form, and even Sparkles, making sure they can keep going at relatively-full strength for a while longer.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Healing on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Healing on Lancelot.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji accepts Fuu Hououji's Winds of Healing, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Cleanse! All of Fuu Hououji's
debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: Lera Camry accepts Sailor Moon's Moon Tiara Boomerang, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Cleanse! All of Lera Camry's debuffs are
COMBAT: Lancelot accepts Fuu Hououji's Winds of Healing, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Cleanse! All of Lancelot's
debuffs are cleared!
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Cure Passion fights, too--because she has to. Because the alternative is to do nothing. Because she's with everyone. And this gigantic, monumental--no, not merely in the style of a monument, an incredible symbol of despair--

"Black, look out!" Cure Passion calls to her partner of the moment, "It's striking back at you!"

But she is not in a position, here, to deflect buildings--Black trusted her, and she has deflected these beings... But there are so many, and Passion ducks under one's strike, rolls past a kick, barely evades the heft of a two-handed swing--

Before a great club slams towards her, hitting her hard enough that she goes flying into the air--with the figures in quick battle. She can't right herself at first, stuck, dazed. She feels the presences of Lera and Vita, working together--she can't see a girl, far far away, talking.

Another strike, another punch, another slash--they weave around her, capable of flight in a way that she isn't, and Passion takes a number of hits as she tries to steady herself in free-fall. She can't quite get her balance enough to move. Not until, quickly--

The tiara--the selfsame tiara that once would have burned her far more than any of these girls--rushes past her, and that breathing room is enough. "Hup--"

In a shimmer, Passion disappears again, overtaxing herself as much as she has to. She reappears, this time above one of the sparkling foes. She swings, and exchanges blows mid-air, letting her kicks whirl her about and her punches steady her, and this time it goes far, far more smoothly--because Lancelot, leaping through the air, cries out his lightning and crashes around them. "Right!" she calls, and she does not know Chevaliers, but she knows something of what it is to be a knight in service to a lord. So--

He starts to start moving down, and as he flips past her this time--

"I see it!"

Where Lancelot prevents escape, Passion erupts higher, a spinning kick corkscrewing her up, up, up into the air--

Cure Passion shines in that light, flashing Lancelot and Fuu both a hightly American Thumbs-Up!

...And prepares for the way down.

COMBAT: Cure Passion has joined the combo started by Lancelot!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Mars [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Of course Sailor Mars has burned. Herself, others; on purpose, by accident, collaterally, unknowingly.

It's a mistake to think that a soul of fire makes one incombustible. The converse is true: she is comburent. Anyone who has met her in verbal sparring knows it to be true; she lights easily and burns brightly.

So it goes.

She grits her teeth and does not cry out -- a reflex, one she doubts Walpurgisnacht has the sense to appreciate. She's on the ground; she's rolling. That's another reflex. Who knows if a Witch's flames go out like they should.

Well, they extinguish. And Sailor Moon is on the ground, too. "Don't fall asleep on us now," she says -- the words are a little pained but it's covered with a sheet of bravado and grit -- "you can't tell me you wouldn't sleep in!"

It's an astoundingly normal thing -- Sailor Mars being acerbic. Even as the impossible looms overhead. Even now they have her attention.

It's a victory in itself. She drags what she can from it.

She drags herself up, too.

"Get this sorted... and I'll get you that cocoa," she insists, as she shakes her head to shake the gossamer cobwebs from it.

The Witch towers above; Sailor Mars looks up and keeps looking up for a long while. "You want to fight fire with fire?" She snaps, a third reflex to round the set: "Try this!" She raises a hand to face-level, palm flat, as flame flickers to life at her fingertips. Turning in a circle, she cries: "SEARING SERPENT!" -- and the fire becomes a lash, long and winding, the form this time serpentine, alive the way flame is rather than the way beasts are.

Alive the way she is, refusing to go out.

It lances up to bite at the -- things Cure Passion and the others are dealing with, as if the flame could swallow the stars. Sailor Moon isn't wrong. They're stronger together.

COMBAT: Sailor Mars has used Searing Serpent on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: COMBO! Lancelot and Cure Passion have used Lightning Slash and Rising Passion on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.

It is not a kind reception that Endo gets. At least not from the lingering trail of Walpurgisnacht's magic. It's doubtful if the dreadnaught itself could even take notice, but it's earlier attack does harm enough. The dome of protection sizzles and burns, magic fraying and melting as the cloud eats through it.

Endo holds it together as best he can, even as the searing heat passes through. His barrier jacket, the second layer of protection, does not fare too much better. Skin cracks and burns, but the magic holds. Enough that he can still stand by the time the cloud passes.

There's a fist raised in response to Steven. It's close enough to a thumps-up, and most of what he can manage. "Let's go." He affirms, a short nod given to the by. His small friend's words give him newfound confidence, and even more purpose.

"Alright Stern."


Endo too lunges forward. Another circle propels him from the ground, giving him the extra velocity he needs to soar toward the gigantic rotating gears above. Move triangles form in the air along the way, additional gates that speed his proceed toward his target.


Endo thrusts his weapon forward as he makes his impact, driving the burning point of the weapon as deep as he can in the metal in front of him.

COMBAT: Endo Naoki has used Asteroid Eilen on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick braces 29 Fatigue damage from Kasagami Araki's Crimson Flurry, taking 24 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
Pink Moon Stick's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick partially dodges 7 Fatigue damage from Endo Naoki's Asteroid Eilen, taking 27 Fatigue damage!  Pink Moon
Stick's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick perfectly braces 18 Fatigue damage from Sailor Mars's Searing Serpent, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical
Brace!  Pink Moon Stick's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick decisively counters 27 Fatigue damage from Lancelot and Cure Passion's Combo: Lightning Slash, taking 9
Fatigue damage!  Lancelot and Cure Passion are Psyched!  Pink Moon Stick's Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick's counterattack, Insatiable Laughter, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Lancelot!  
<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

The burst of abyssal light strikes against Walpurgisnacht and the great Witch turns and just bulls through it. To say La Sirene is displeased at this is to say that the sky is rather high up or that a home-cooked meal prepared with passion mixed with skill and fine ingredients is "okay." She steps back a pace, digging in her fingers against that piece of glass. She staggers another in sheer dismay. The witch; it's laughing. It's still breathing fire.

The Familiars come round her. But there is still, it seems, hope to be found, in the sight of la Sirene.

For she sees Endo come. He dives inwards and la Sirene, who has not said much thus far - it has seemed superfluous and she certainly has had no tactical insight to share beyond 'we must keep going' - cries out, "Endo!" And then just as some of the starry figures are about to lunge towards her, there is a sparkle of moonlight -

And the space round her, however briefly, is cleared. "Sailor Moon," la Sirene breathes.

The dread that had threatened to fill her does not go away but it abates, however faintly. She exhales with great force even as Vita slams her hammer down. They haven't lost, she tells herself. The damn thing keeps moving.

La Sirene breathes deep again. She puts a hand to her forehead and she turns her head. She makes herself look at the dreadful thing.

Ah - it passed through the power of Les Mysteres like so much fog, she thinks. Her hand tightens around the piece of glass. It hurts a little.

She sees the Witch of Witches turn. She sees it swerve. She sees it move, despite its great scope, with impossible precision. Maybe this was never a girl, la Sirene thinks. What were the things that came from Familiars? What would come from a witch born from a Familiar, who in turn would have Familiars?

Is it even from Earth? la Sirene thinks.

There is a moment of tension of mystery which pushes the cloud of despair away enough for her to twist herself round. Her left hand raises upwards. She holds up that piece of glass, like a coin. It gleams -

The light flows out of her, downhill. In all the fire and the fury it is probably not that impressive, which is of course one of the advantages la Sirene thinks she has, though it may momentarily mean her doom.

"You keep weaving around," la Sirene murmurs. "It isn't fair. Everyone's working so HARD. We've come this far. So you should just - stop -"

The unlight rises upwards, like those slow motion images of a crown shape forming from a water droplet falling into a cup. The rounded bulges of the subsidiary drops, though, whirl round - to try and form a net round the Stage-Setting Witch.

Perhaps not much. But perhaps, in turn, enough.

COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has used Polyploia on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick braces 28 Fatigue damage from La Sirene de Diamant's Polyploia, taking 12 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
Pink Moon Stick's Block and Parry abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Kagutsuchi's fire, like Mai's, blazes orange. Regrets and desperation lick at Walpurgisnacht's gears, to distressingly little avail - but as the phoenix's wings flap, Mai can at least be satisfied that they've been noticed.

Walpurgisnacht's fire, by contrast, blazes with all the colours of reality and perhaps some unknown to it. From the great Witch's perspective, that polychromatic flare is perhaps like a blown kiss, an off-handed breath - but for the Child of Fire, it's a raging storm.

"Hold on-" Mai's rings blaze to life. Fire meets fire, countless colours splashing against a desperate flare of orange. The barrier holds, for the most part, but tendrils of flame slip through to lick at the Child.

To their credit, the pair are hardly deterred - but Mai's mouth is dry as she swallows. "Well, at least...it's kind of paying attention?" Having Walpurgisnacht's attention is terrifying, daunting, frankly cause for grave concern -

- but if it's focusing on them, it isn't levelling Tokyo. Mostly.

She wants to worry about Lancelot, being flung around - or Sailor Moon, desperately trying to hold the line - or Lera, or Fuu, or any of the other comrades in arms she's laughed with before.

She wants to. But the most stark thing here is how there are no spears of obsidian, no berserkergang accompanying a claymore, and her heart aches to wonder where Mikoto could be.

Atop Kagutsuchi's head, Mai grips the sword's hilt tightly. What she's here to protect isn't...

The Child answers Walpurgisnacht with a challenging cry - not quite a croon, not quite a screech, something from the deepest seas and the hottest volcanoes. The mandala on its back spin rapidly, and the flames that form its wings grow hotter and hotter in challenge of the Witch.

COMBAT: Mai Tokiha has used Furious Firebird on Mai Tokiha.
COMBAT: Mai Tokiha accepts Mai Tokiha's Furious Firebird, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Empower and Surge applied to Mai Tokiha!  
<Pose Tracker> Cure Black [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

Panting, Cure Black bends herself to keeping the assault up as long as she can. All these pocked indents of fist aren't getting her anywhere. Her face drips with sweat. She's not sure if she's losing track of the marks or if they're just gone. Grimly, she's not sure if it's even much difference. So what if the damage remained? Her knuckles would break long before this gear. And from what she can tell, she's actually doing more damage than most, largely because she can focus on it solely while Passion protects her.

She almost doesn't hear Passion cry out her warning, so loud is the sound of her own heartbeat in her ears, so loud is the sound of her hammering fists. Black's endurance is iron, and never before has a foe ended the mighty Hyakujakenken simply by sitting there until Black can't throw them anymore. Today won't be the first time either!

But only because a building is about to hit Cure Black. She was definitely running out of gas.

Swinging her head up expecting some truly monstrous attack, Black is shocked to have her expectations exceeded anyway. A wall of concrete fills her entire field of vision once more. She does still have time to try to jump. She might even make it. But when Cure Black is flat-footed, when she is uncertain, she defaults to aggression. It's what makes her such a good striker in lacrosse. It's what makes her Cure Black.

Roaring high-pitched at the wall, Black tucks her shoulders and sets her feet, and just before it hits, she shoves into it too. Instantly her feet are skidding across the gear, not slowing the attack in the least. Black's whole body got slapped at once, as if falling from height, and she's already so winded. But she sets her feet and looks behind, to the edge of the gear where she hopes to catch her feet and resist. Pressing her chin to her clavicle, she twists her body, sets her feet for the shove...

BOOM. She can only resist for an instant, but it's a powerful one, ripping a big chunk off the building. Suddenly Black is free of it as she, the chunk, and the larger mass are all falling together, but separately. Her feet seek something, anything to push off of, because the crumbling building is still right above her, even if she's no longer pressed to it. It's just going to drop flat atop her.

The fall alone might take Black down, she knows that. The building dropping on her after will likely seal the deal. But she prepares herself, to brace its weight, to hopefully pop through its wall when it drops, and see if there's anything left of her afterwards. She can see Passion and knows she's too embroiled to help. She's alone, then, huh?


The brutal darkness of the day, with all its scrapes and cuts, is suddenly as soft as a cloud. Cure Black looks down at the angelic white arms around her waist as she drifts effortlessly away from danger. Her tired legs brace gently as they feel ground. She's letting herself sag against White for a moment. Her limbs are filthy with sweat and grime from repeated violent interactions with building materials. Her clothing smells faintly of saltwater. Her smooth young face is scratched and dirt-marked, but no less beautiful in its peace. A silken curtain of dark hair swallows it even as her eyes slip closed.

Kesshite Akiramenai - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLcFAisdBw0

In response to the whisper, four fingers lift, and gently brush the knuckles of white's lace-armored hand, before sliding between them, a spoon of a handhold.

A burst of heat nearby shifts the wind the other way, and White's hair pours away like mist from the sun. When last visible, the two Cures had compatible but different expressions on their faces. Now, they are identical, both sharp with determination, lips and brows hard, eyes glinting.

"Nothing else is going to work this time, huh?" Black asks softly. Taking a step to the side, she brushes her fingers free of White's knuckles, drawing that hand out to the other side in a tight fist. Her other hand re-finds White's, lacing and sealing.

"All right," she says. "Let's give it everything."

In the sky above and to the side of Walpurgisnacht's noble gown, a spot of cloud crackles. The air seems to shudder, there, as if some deity were dropping the edge of a great chisel against the cloud cover.

"BLACK THUNDER!!" Cure Black's palm is flat atop her arm, forming a pillar to the heavens.

"WHITE THUNDER!!" Cure White's neck is tight with resolution as she cries out.

Hand in hand in the darkness, two girls unleash their feelings, and it does nothing less than rip open a bridge between their small bodies and Creation itself. Through it streams Light, crackling and endless, the ambient energy raising hairs and simmering in the air with taut little crackles. Their bodies, these binary colors, begin to ripple, glazed in the rainbow of all colors. Black and white, the twin churning beams of energy atop their palms are wracked with their own intensity, but they are just tributaries.

A mortal vessel is filling, and overfilling. Grief may come to this world, to darken its skies and clog its heart. But this world does not belong to grief. And as they together endure what neither could ever have withstood alone, two girls gather what is, to deny what is not. They have tasted this fear long enough.

Time to spit it out.

COMBAT: Cure Black has started a combo targeting Pink Moon Stick!
COMBAT: Cure White has joined the combo started by Cure Black!
COMBAT: COMBO! Cure Black and Cure White have used Black Thunder!! White Thunder!! on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick partially dodges 0 Fatigue damage from Cure Black and Cure White's Combo: Black Thunder!! White Thunder!!,
taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Cure Black and Cure White are Psyched!  Pink Moon Stick's Fade and Flash abilities
activate!  Bind Break! All of Cure Black's debuffs are cleared!
<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.
<SoundTracker> MAGIA continued https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Xp_3r_nFGs
Someday, you will also                           
wish for great power                            

In perfect synchronicity, Lera's immense energy beam blasts Vita's Swallow Flyers through the mysterious silhouettes, towards the gears. There is a lesson to be learned here about behavior. Do they protect their mistress?

As a matter of fact: they do not.

Soaring out of the way, giggling all the while, they do little to prevent Walpurgisnacht from taking those impacts.

What used to be Yoyogi, burning off to one side, suggests why this may be. It makes the immense Witch cast an even more immense shadow.

Still, the croquet balls made some great clanging noises when they hit. It's a satisfying sound.

The girls -- no, never mind, don't think of a girl -- are prevented from rushing back in on the mages from all sides because of Sailor Moon's well-timed boomerang and further shooed off by Sailor Mars' whip of flame. Ultimately they break off, and break up. Suddenly it's one on one.

For the sake of                               
someone else, I suppose.                          

Kasagami is facing an opponent half her size, wielding what must, given its shape, have been an immensely heavy tetsubo, once upon a time. It's taller than she is. It's taller than KASAGAMI is. It moves at lightning speed, trailing Walpurgisnacht's demonic, licking flame behind it, keeping up with her strikes and counterstrikes, blow by blow by blow. Also, her hair is in a neat bob.

In the night when                              
love captured your heart,                          

Vita's has a wand that trails sparkles instead of fire, and the stars that comprise her mass seem to just pour out of them, all day long, in a cloying and surrounding mist that chases the Belkan wherever she goes and, when she's too slow, burns more like acid than fire. Also, her skirt flares outwards strikingly, like those rings-of-Saturn science fiction skirts sometimes seen on late night television.

unknown words                                
are born                                  

Lera's has two handaxes, two pigtails, and disproportionate strength for her small size. She giggles -- as they all do -- with chiming unsettlingness as she gets those hammers in a lock, then unexpectedly hip-checks the Midchildan to the ground and chases her down with the edges of her blades.

If I can go on without losing my way,                    
I don't mind if my heart is                         
broken to pieces.                              

Another one runs up Kagutsuchi's face to meet Mai between his shoulder blades. Coming down from her forward flip, her cape flares out behind her without ever fully separating from whatever it is that makes up her body. Out comes a heavy morning-star. Its links are beautiful, each one a little ring-constellation of stars. Its head contains something more like a galaxy, as she brings it down towards the HiME's face.

I want a spell                               
that can let me fight against                        

Sailor Mars and Sailor Moon are close to one another, and so wind up in more of a two on two than a one on one. Their opponents are sharply contrasted; one is round, all curves, and one is lean. One is tall and one is short. But, two commonalities also: both wield knives (the tall round one's are like razors; the short lean one's are like a pirate's, jagged, with handguards), and both want to cut the girls to shreds. Alarmingly, sometimes they throw them, then summon replacements out of themselves.

the sorrow that is always                          
in front of my eyes.                            

It's a similar story for Lancelot, Cure Passion, and Fuu, except that the former two fight off their cluster in a focused way almost before things can begin. For a moment it feels like victory, and then they look behind them and see Walpurgisnacht's face RIGHT THERE, big as anything.

She purses her lips, and blows. It fans out around them, and through them, and past them, threatening the more distant Pretty Cure as well.

You are a memory that                            
continues to dream.                             

Endo, like Nagisa before him, finds that in the current moment he can only get at the gears from the front, which is the same thing, basically, as ducking through the gap in that huge blue skirt. And then, like Nagisa before him, he finds himself getting scraped off like stuck food on the bottom of the pan, where he is the food and a cheerful, vaguely snakelike set of train cars are the spatula.

No. That's not a train.

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Tomoeda Theme Park +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
 Tokyo's largest and most beloved theme park, Tomoeda's broad fairy-tale       
 gates open into a world of rampant color and giggle-like music. Fried         
 delights season the air with their stomach-gurgling seduction, distant        
 shouts of joy punctuate a roller coaster's drop, and costumed mascots amble   
 and wave. Though Tomoeda is the name that stuck, marketers prefer to call     
 this place Dream Land, and it does its best to give a suitable impression.    
 The largest roller coaster has a metal track, known for its speed and         
 smoothness, and snakelike yellow cars with red bellies. Past its twisting     
 coils is the iconic Candy House, pink and sprinkled, whose spires are waffle  
 cones and sugar dumplings, where light-hearted performances are held for the  
 benefit of the younger audiences. Other attractions include the swinging      
 Flying Pirate, spinning tea cups, a dizzying mirror maze, and, of course, a   
 romantic Ferris wheel.                                                        

That's a roller coaster, and the entire track is still attached.

I am the sleepless tomorrow.                        

Steven, left behind on the ground, discovers the ferris wheel whirling towards him with alarming speed. There must be an evil will behind it, as it is battered and dent, which somehow isn't making it slower or clumsier at all.

I will move forward in order to attain                   

La Sirene thrusts her hand into the air, and works her own sort of witchery through the glass. A net begins to fall around Walpurgisnacht. It is not big enough -- it would have to be stadium-sized to contain her. But it briefly wraps around her head like a veil, until she burns it away with another blast of fire.

the miracle of the two of us meeting.                    
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Pocket Full Of Posies on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Pocket Full Of Posies on Vita Yagami.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Pocket Full Of Posies on Sailor Moon.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Pocket Full Of Posies on Mai Tokiha.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Pocket Full Of Posies on Sailor Mars.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Pocket Full Of Posies on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Conflagexhalation on Lancelot.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Conflagexhalation on Cure Passion.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Conflagexhalation on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Conflagexhalation on Cure Black.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Conflagexhalation on Cure White.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used All The World's A Stage on Endo Naoki.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used All The World's A Stage on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Conflagexhalation on La Sirene de Diamant.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon braces 30 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Pocket Full Of Posies, taking 13 Fatigue damage!  Pink Moon
Stick is Psyched!  Sailor Moon's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Steven Universe braces 47 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's All The World's A Stage, taking 20 Fatigue damage!  Steven
Universe's Block and Parry abilities activate!  Stagger applied to Steven Universe!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki braces 26 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Pocket Full Of Posies, taking 21 Fatigue damage!  Critical
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji perfectly counters 31 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Conflagexhalation, taking 0 Fatigue damage!
Critical Counter!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji's counterattack, Gale Arrow, bursts all the way through, doing 28 Fatigue damage to Pink Moon Stick!  
COMBAT: Mai Tokiha perfectly braces 44 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Pocket Full Of Posies, taking 0 Fatigue damage!
Critical Brace!
COMBAT: Cure Black cleanly braces 28 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Conflagexhalation, taking 5 Fatigue damage!  Cure
Black's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant neatly dodges 20 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Conflagexhalation, taking 5 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Cure Passion counters 17 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Conflagexhalation, taking 17 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
COMBAT: Cure Passion's counterattack, Crimson Counter, partially gets through, doing 14 Fatigue damage to Pink Moon Stick!  
COMBAT: Lancelot perfectly counters 30 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Conflagexhalation, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical
Counter!  Lancelot's Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!
COMBAT: Lancelot's counterattack, Heaven's Wrath, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Pink Moon Stick!  
COMBAT: Cure White braces 21 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Conflagexhalation, taking 17 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  
COMBAT: Sailor Mars braces 17 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Pocket Full Of Posies, taking 25 Fatigue damage!  
<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Junko yanks Madoka's arm up two steps; Madoka, startled, almost falls down two steps. But she can't -- she can't go down at all, not with her mother holding onto her.

"Where are you going?" asks Mama Kaname, extreme disapproval conveyed by her voice without it rising above conversational pitch. Her face is a closed door, her purple eyes grim and disappointed.

"Mama?" murmurs her daughter, still processing. There's a pause, as she collects her thoughts. She does not look up, look back. She doesn't dare. She doesn't want to see that face. Not here. Not now.

"I have to go and help a friend," Madoka replies, finally. Honestly.

Junko cuts her off almost before she finishes the sentence. "Leave. It. To. The. Firefighters," she demands, steel-toned. Slightly more gently -- minutely -- she adds, "Us civilians need to stay put."

Frustrated, defiant -- most of all, urgent -- Madoka tears her hand out of her mom's and finally looks up and over her shoulder, looks her straight in the eye.

"It has to be me!"

There's a cracking sound. Madoka's face is forced back downwards by a stinging force, something she's never, ever felt before. Wonderingly, one of her hands drifts up to clutch her cheek, while the other worries at the bow on her uniform -- still the winter one, no one has been able to get her to leave it behind.

"This isn't just your life!" cries Junko, exasperation and fear warring for dominance. Neither wins, everyone loses. She gasps in another breath to continue her tirade, and its shakiness reveals her own shock and uneasiness at what she's just done.

But Madoka got her resolve from somewhere, and Junko does not stop. The Incubator would not envy her passion, nor the faint throbbing of betrayal that stings her heart as much as it stings Madoka's sweet, soft little cheek, but it could take lessons from her inexorability, too.

"Don't you feel anything when you think of what happened to Sayaka?"

Junko's fists clench. She knows she's gone too far.

But Madoka replies quickly, surprisingly easily. She doesn't burst into tears, as maybe they'd both half-expected. She doesn't hesitate, this time.

She just looks back up at her mother, and it is her turn to gentle.

"Of course I do," she murmurs -- but she does not whimper.

Her tone is as clear as her eyes.

COMBAT: Lera Camry braces 26 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Pocket Full Of Posies, taking 21 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
Lera Camry's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki decisively counters 60 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's All The World's A Stage, taking 20 Fatigue damage!
Endo Naoki's Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!  Stagger applied to Endo Naoki!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki's counterattack, Asteroid Eilen, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Pink Moon Stick!  
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Lera stares, as Endo manages to activate his Barrier Jacket -- and then she smiles at him, and nods her head once. "Endo-kun!" she calls out. "I--I'm glad you're with us!"

The magical circle dispels. Before she can float back down, she sees Sailor Moon's boomerang tiara shoot across the air. Her eyes widen -- and then she glances to the side at her friend. "Sailor Moon! I-I got it, y'know?"

The pig-tailed one slams Lera down into the ground. The hip check smashes her to the ground. The first hand-axe slams into the concrete left of Lera's head as she rolls it to the side, sparks flying where witch-steel hits concrete. The left slams into Lera's left arm as she raises it, and it bites through the barrier jacket. Red begins to stain the green coat.

And Broken Ground is nowhere to be seen, unless the thing things to look at her wrist -- and the bracelet dangling from her wrist.


Which is when Soaring Sky forms, two-toned gold and silver blade appearing in a flash of light, then a roll of flame that explodes off the blade even as it finishes its manifestation. That manifestation is directed to come into existence through the pig-tailed thing.

COMBAT: Lera Camry transforms into Barrier Jacket Perihelion!
COMBAT: Lera Camry has used Inferno Slasher on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Hair flutters and steel clashes on the stuff of silhouettes made staggeringly solid as Kasagami faces her newfound opponent head on as the battle continues. She can barely spare a glance for her compatriots. Some face more of these odd, giggling spectres that the Duelist is half way convinced she'll be hearing in her sleep for quite a while. Others have the Witch itself to contend with, and half-spotted flashes of color give her hope that at least all of her allies are still standing.

It's something at least, what with Homura still in danger. She finds herself almost wishing she'd smell a molotov or pipe bomb go off right about now. Preferably not in range of singing her beautiful hair.

The young woman tucks herself into a quick roll as that tetsubo comes slamming down, brushing the material of her now thoroughly battered Student Council Uniform. Hauling up to her feet again, she lashes out only to get deflected off of one of the many hard spike-bits of the oddly colored weapon. It's the same story over and over. A vertical slice dodged or parried, Kassie finding it both utterly absurd as well as worrying just how much faster the much heavier weapon is swung by a much smaller being.

But it's the flame that causes Kasagami to howl as it washes over part of her body, burning away an arm of her coat and forcing her back at a rate that makes the girl quail inside at her own weakness.

Hands grip her sword, sweat building inside her gloves. How dare a King retreat before her own fears? With the scent of smoking leather in her nostrils, she steps in, praying the others manage to cut down their foes.

No subtlety here. As swiftly as she can, she steps aside even as she brings her long blade horizontally towards the midsection of her mysterious opponent. Hips twist, and she makes to neatly carve through the tetsubo-wielding shadow, weapon and all if she must. Trusting in her sword and her own skill, hearing others fighting around her, she puts her entire body into the swing.

"None of us can fall!" She chokes out. A little prayer to the warriors gathered, and a plea to cut through the tragedies this night represents.

COMBAT: Kasagami Araki has used Thorns of the Bloody Rose on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

The stage is set. but Steven has no intention to play his part.

Improv was more his thing, anyway.

Most take to the air to fight, and Walpurgis is not one to let others disturb her show. She moves supernaturally fast for a creature so large, so graceful for so much mass. Or perhaps a lack thereof.

Buildings and objects not crumbled into pieces make fine armaments when everything is a toy. Ever wonder how that army figure felt when you threw a ball at it?

Case in point.

A gnarled ferris weel speeds down the streetside, aiming right for Steven and Lion. "Brakes! Hit the brakes!" he shouts to Lion, who starts skidding. The boy brings his shield up, and expands it outward, larger, larger... and anchors it on whatever strange dimensional axis he is able to latch it to in front of them.

A makeshift ramp for it to sail over, still spinning due to the eldritch engine that fuels it..

It works, but is severely taxing to the boy, who is heavily breathing already now. Sweat beads and falls. He's come so far since the encounter with Jasper, and yet not far enough...

"Keep going... ill be fine!" the boy says to his pink friend.

The pair make it closer, yet closer, to the cneter of the fight. CLoseby, he sees Endo and Lancelot. He looks up to the tall, tall creature. "H-Hey! You two! C'mon, take a ride with me!" he offers with a smile.

They will tarry long enough for them to hop on, and a portal will get them out of there. If only they could leave this way and not return. But that would be irresponsible, wouldn't it?

The colors of the geometric, expanding dimensional highway are so much different than what is going on outside. An invisible force pushes against those upon Lion, like wind. There was no end of this path in sight. It's single controlled seems to be the cat that steeded everyone right now. Pitched tones play from every direction.

"Hey guys," the boy greets. "Okay, it's time we really let her have it! Have your weapons ready!" A pause. "Also, if we don't make it, uh... was coll getting to fight alongside you all...!"

"lion, we need to go faster...!"

COMBAT: Steven Universe has started a combo targeting Pink Moon Stick!
<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Stars pull Mai from her stupor.

Or perhaps it's a warning from Kagutsuchi, shaking its head to try to dislodge the assailant. Regardless, she looks up from her heartache to behold a vision of grace and laughter, trying to cave her head in.

It's a gorgeous morningstar, made of starstuff. It's an elegant cape, encompassing the galaxy. The girl-that-was is stunning to behold - and admittedly trying to kill Mai.

Mai's arms cross on instinct, to guard her head - the kind of move that Mikoto might have approved of. There's a resounding clang, as a galaxy clashes against rings of gold - but the Element holds, and with a gasp Mai is able to force the weapon away from her.

"Not today..." She should be terrified, but she's calm. Mai rests a hand on her chest, working her jaw for a moment. The turning gears that drive the great carousel of Puella Past is awe-inspiring, a terrific sight to behold - and yet, and yet. She's fled in a panic before, so why isn't she trying to run for her life?

There's a heartbeat, as Mai looks at not just the figment she's facing, but at the battle beyond. Is it that she has friends fighting alongside her? Or...

...is it that she's trying to absolve past inaction?

Kasagami's battle cry is a loud plea, and one that stands out amid the noise and chaos. Shaking her head, Mai raises her arms, spurs her rings to blaze to life.

"...I'm sorry for what happened to you." Something about the caped figure is just a little too uncannily real, too specific to be just a conjured figment - somehow, they seem to be a reflection of someone who fought, once. Probably a Puella Magi, meaning... "But we're here now. We won't go down without a fight - if there's a way we can stop this tragedy then we will. So - "

Mai surges forward, abandoning Kagutsuchi for a moment to meet the figment with the morning star head-on. A blast of flame - a newly born cudgel of raw fire - forms from her rings, smashes forward against the star-stuff. "Please, just rest...!"

COMBAT: Mai Tokiha transforms into Mai-HiME!
COMBAT: Mai Tokiha has used Impassioned Ignition on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

The bright shadows are massing again - and this time, the Magic Knight of Wind has time enough (if barely) to give them a proper greeting. Bow and quiver appear, in her hand and across her back, and a breeze rises around the Wind Knight as she nocks arrow to string, lowering her bow into position as the arrow is drawn back. The wind picks up rapidly around her, ruffling not only the Magic Knight's clothes and hair, but Sparkles' mane and tail as well, a few sparks of lightning from the magical warhorse drawn into the the zephyr as the Wind Knight gathers her power ...

"Gale Arrow!!!"

She barely needs to aim, save to make sure her shaft will strike enemies without endangering allies; when she looses her attack, it's more the wind which surrounds her arrow than the shaft itself which punches through Walpurgisnacht's minions, scattering them roughly, denying them a chance to lay hand, or anything else, upon her.

If only she could get a shot like *that* off against the Witch itself, thinks the Magic Knight. "Passion-san, Lancelot-san, are you both holding up all right?" she asks, drawing another arrow and nocking it, this time without gathering up the wind. Maybe they can actually start implementing a strategy, at this rate ...


She turns her attention back to Walpurgisnacht itself. Her earlier Winds of Admonishment were scattered without really locking onto anything; a mere arrow seems unlikely to do any significant damage - she'd have to find just the right place to aim it, and then hope that physics would cooperate with the magical girls, rather than the whimsical will of the Witch. It would almost certainly be better to join her attack with others' powers, the way the Sailor Senshi have done, among other such joint efforts.

If nothing else, she decides, she can try to keep thinning out the familiars. They may be replaced as quickly as they're destroyed, but that should take time even for Walpurgisnacht, shouldn't it? And maybe she can harass them enough to draw their attention away from her allies, create openings for them.

Trying to keep an eye on her allies, the Magic Knight of Wind settles into a near-rhythm of drawing, aiming, and loosing her arrows, trusting Sparkles ro carry her where she needs to go. It brings back memories of watching mounted archery tournaments; she had never expected to try her hand at it herself ...

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Trick Arrow Shot on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Moon [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

"Mars-chan's treat! Cocoa for every-" Is her cheery call. As she raises up a hand. Sailor Moon is about to catch her tiara - when suddenly a rude little familiar with hatchets swoops in and knocks it out of the sky with a cleaving strike. The tiara ricochets off into the distance to bounce off with a metallic clatter.

The familiar's body gleaming with terrible malice. Stunned by this, she shrieks and backpeddles rapidly on reflex, stumbling as she goes. Raising her rod as the thing sails inward at her.

The first strike is blocked. Catching it just below the hatchet head. The thing moves jankily as it strikes at her again. This time mid-stumble, she starts spinning the rod, which leaves a sparkling trail of stardust.

The hatches meet a gleaming circle that parry it again and again and again. And so it backs off a pace, and throws it.

The circular revolution of her rod rises to meet it. And finds the throw has shocking force. It impacts it, and sends Sailor Moon to impact against Mars' back. Only for her to see it reach an outline of a hand in itself, and pull out another hatchet.

"Mars-!" The girl wails her name a little, "S-Scary! This one is too much!"

Suddenly - Sailor Moon finds a hand in hers, forcibly turning her to switch positions with the other Senshi in their back to back, and suddenly she's traded one familiar for another brandishing gleaming razors like another equally terrible horror movie villain. A shrill squeal emits from her nigh immediately upon sight of it, "SO IS THIS ONE!"

The frustrated response from the other girl catches her a little off-guard, as she creates her desperate defense against the razors that try to juke in to shave off her ribbon.

It's that moment that she sees White and Black - hand in hand. Gathering power. There's something about that image that stills her a little.

"Mars - switch again!" It doesn't sound like something out of fright though, as the girl suddenly leaps over her partner, pushing her hands off her shoulders. "Sailor Moon-" A moonboot leads, as she tries to plow her foot into the familiar wielding a hatchet, "-KICK!"

Landing, she's breathless, "We've got this Mars..." A ferris wheel rolls into her field of vision, "We've got..." It becomes a squeak as she comprehends what it is, and the crash of the roller coaster. The roar of flames. The desperation in the air and on the ground.

It's all so much. In the chaos - she's desperately fighting just to keep away one of the witchspawn. Fighting desperately just to watch one girl's back. Much less all of them.

You can't protect all of us.

And there is still one in more need than all of the rest right of them right now, in this horrible fight.

And you certainly can't protect me. I hope you learn to understand that, before someone else gets hurt.

Feeling dizzy under the weight of an old lesson someone tried to convey to her, she tries to deny it anyhow. By shouting out at the crumpled department store, "Homura! Homura can you hear us?! If you can - call out! Call out and we'll come to you!"

COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used Sailor Moon Kick on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Despite his jovial tone when he had landed, Lancelot gives Fuu a serious look. "Thank you Fuu-san. I've never had the time to say it before, but you've always been there. In every strife, in every battle, and even when I just needed a hug, you've been there." He doesn't cry. Really. That's just water from some broken fire hydrant. There's a few dozen of those in this apocalypse right? "Sparkles. Keep her and yourself safe Best Buddy."

Sparkles looks briefly at Lancelot before returning to paying attention to the battlefield around them.

Which is when suddenly, Walpurgisnacht is right in his face breathing death at them.

He had been planning on leaping off and fighting on foot anyway, but now, to give Sparkles less weight and a better chance he did it sooner. As she began to breath her conflaguration at them, he summoned all the lightning he could around him and cried out; "HEAVEN'S WRATH!!" sending a bolt of lightning that sends the fire aimed for him off kilter.

He feels himself draining. The power he's spent is begining to take it's toll. He's thrown everything, literally everything at this ... monster ... and she just. Keeps. Tokyo was being destroyed, just like Camelot, and it was all his failt. Again.

He hots the ground on hsi shoulder and rolls, coming up in a crouch, both blades held to the side. Briefly they sag. Briefly he considers just giving up. Can they beat this thing? It appears indestructible, and is defeating everything they throw at it.

But then he hears Kagatsuchi, and knows that somewhere Mai is fighting. He remembers a discussion in the rain. Sad, and also feeling defeated, but there had been hope as well. Hope for victory here, right now, and hope for a future.

The blades are lifted a little higher as confidence is at least, for the moment restored as he screams at Walpurgisnacht; "VIENS MOURIS MON DIEU PUTAIN MONSTRE!!"

Which is when Steven ccalls. He blinks. "Steven...." He blinks again, "Endo..." He wastes no time beyond that and gets on the Pink Lion. Once they blink through Lion's portal he nods to the other two members of the Three Magical Amigos, "Guys. We need to hang out when the world isn't in danger." Then leaps off Lion, giving Arondight a quick twirl of his wrists as he falls right toward the face of Walpurgisnacht.

He hopes that Endo and Steven are striking at the same time, he was pretty sure this was the plan. He probably should have checked. Instead he twists the blades to hold them backward and tries to stab them in Walpurgisnacht's face. Not just to do damage and hopefully rip her head apart, but to slow his descent. He screams in rage at this thig while he does so.

Mai had left with a little spring in her step. Because she had believed him when he had said there was hope. Because she had believed in him. Because of that, he'd do everything he could to bring this monster down. Because of her belief, and because the people of his home depended on them all!

COMBAT: Lancelot has joined the combo started by Steven Universe!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick braces 14 Fatigue damage from Kasagami Araki's Thorns of the Bloody Rose, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Pink
Moon Stick's Block and Parry abilities activate!  Blind applied to Pink Moon Stick!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick partially dodges 8 Fatigue damage from Lera Camry's Inferno Slasher, taking 33 Fatigue damage!  Lera Camry
is Psyched!  Pink Moon Stick's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick braces 12 Fatigue damage from Fuu Hououji's Trick Arrow Shot, taking 5 Fatigue damage!  Pink Moon Stick's
Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick dodges 11 Fatigue damage from Mai Tokiha's Impassioned Ignition, taking 16 Fatigue damage!  Mai Tokiha is
Psyched!  Pink Moon Stick's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick perfectly braces 8 Fatigue damage from Sailor Moon's Sailor Moon Kick, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical
Brace!  Pink Moon Stick's Block and Parry abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

I can't restrain something this big, la Sirene thinks, as her attempt to weave a net of darkness and abyssal force around the Stage-Setting Witch is, at most, a momentary nuisance. The fire comes and burns away the lingering liquid light.

I wish, Nori Ankou thinks - even as she sees Pretty Cure come together, as she sees Kasagami and Endo's courage - I wish I still could stretch it out. I could send this creature to--

No, she thinks immediately, even as the flame washes towards her. La Sirene leaps upwards, the flames licking at the wreckage where she stood, incinerating part of it, making the metal portion sag under its own weight.

In the air, la Sirene looks down. This is not a misery that can be sent from world to world. The flames lick at her - her arms in particular, now bare, sting - and she kicks off the air again. Her head turns to look and she sees the Ferris wheel and her stomach lurches.

She looks down. She sees Endo. It is towards Endo that la Sirene directs her descent. Near him she lands; as he concludes his thrust, la Sirene puts one cool hand on his shoulder and tells him, not quite looking dead-on with her pale eyes, "Thank you. For being here."

Then she sees Steven atop his lion. She blinks once.

La Sirene thinks of Madoka Kaname. "Neko," she says --

She is astride the pink beast. "no basu."

'Get your weapons ready.' La Sirene looks at the glass fragment in her hand, and she passes it to her right hand in favor of gesturing grandly with the left hand, the hand that holds the power of the forbidden. She breathes in, she breathes out. I wish, she thinks - I wish I did have a weapon.

Like Sayaka did. Like Mami. Even Eri. Her fingers curl. The unlight around her begins to congeal, gently. Her lips purse together and she tells Steven, quietly, "Thank you. I am sorry you had to come here. Let's hope that we - That we -"

Ah, but there is wonder yet, isn't there? la Sirene thinks, with a certain inner effort. It is harder. She feels the tugs of fatigue. But she's not there yet. Breathing out with force, she shoves the burst of inverted darkness towards the great Witch as the others strike, letting out a shout of "hei!" for emphasis as she does.

COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has joined the combo started by Steven Universe!
COMBAT: Vita Yagami braces 44 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Pocket Full Of Posies, taking 19 Fatigue damage!  Critical
Hit!  Vita Yagami's Block and Parry abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Mars [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"Endo-kun! You're all set up!" Sailor Mars remembers it is 'set' and not 'made' for him, because she's good at keeping all this straight in her head. Well, mostly.

(One time she and Cure Passion got mixed up when she declared herself the Soldier of Passion, and Cure Passion declared herself too, and the youma demanded to know why they were doubling up, and they ended up getting into a heated argument until a barrage of opportunistic softballs broke it up.)

And she is voluntold into getting everyone cocoa, but she barely has time to groan about it, just as Moon can't finish her sentence. Because even though Mars's serpent serves to break up the ranks, all it does is help move them into duels. She moves closer to Sailor Moon, and so there are two which meet them -- and Sailor Mars finds herself assaulted by razors. She slams the back of her gloved hands against its wrists, straining to keep those sharp little things away from her flesh. They're fine, fine blades. They'd think nothing of filleting her.

She puffs out her cheeks, as she hears Sailor Moon wailing behind her. "Let's switch!" She calls, grasping back at her hand, pulling them about without losing a beat. She doesn't really have time to ask, between knife-strikes. Instead of something tall and rounded she finds herself facing someone winnowed and short, and she barely has time to knock back one of those jagged-blade strikes before she hears more complaints. "-- make up your mind!!" She demands, not bothering to hide her frustration.

Maybe snapping at the problem helps, because the next time Moon calls to switch, she doesn't sound like she's terrified in the same way. She's a sturdy platform for Sailor Moon to launch off of, and once her hands leave her shoulders she twirls, "FIRE HEEL --" bringing a heel down firmly on the tall not-a-girl's shoulder instead. "-- DROP!" She's hardly a Pretty Cure, but the flames which follow in the wake of that heel might make problems for her attacker.

Sailor Moon trails off. "We've got this!" Mars insists, finishing her sentence for her.

They were never going to let Homura fight this thing alone.

Sailor Moon reaches out one way, and Sailor Mars another. "Come on! She's reacting -- we're making an impact! Just a little further, everyone-!!" Maybe it's an optimistic interpretation of what is happening; maybe it's what they need to hear. It can't be hopeless, Mars thinks. It won't be.

COMBAT: Sailor Mars has used Fire Heel Drop on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick perfectly counters 26 Fatigue damage from Sailor Mars's Fire Heel Drop, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical
Hit!  Critical Counter!  Pink Moon Stick's Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick's counterattack, Insatiable Laughter, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Sailor Mars!  
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

It almost feels like a victory--Cure Passion at least gets to see Lancelot riding away with Fuu. But only almost. As she turns behind, beginning to fall, her eyes widen--she is right before the Witch's face, and if ever she wanted to be notied, she feels noticed now.

Operating on instinct, Passion swings straight for the flame as it comes, the flame and not-flame and awful colors of it, a blast of red that is quickly overwhelmed. The shockwave of her attack is sufficient to swing back at the Stage-Setting Witch's face, and to force enough air that she is not destroyed by this too-quick attack.

It sounds like more of a victory than it is put that way, too, just like a moment ago--she is not immolated, but she is burned, rocketed by that force far, far back, crashing down into rubble that used to be part of Tokyo and bouncing up once before beginning to roll down along the rocks.

She is still, for a few moments. Passion has to force herself up, pushing after she catches her breath. And when she rises, she sees them--just to one knee, at first, but it's enough to see White and Black, and black and white power. It's a balm; a piece of hope. A reminder, of what isn't. "..."

She sees, now, the brilliant explosions of Soaring Sky. She smiles, for a moment, pushes herself back up--

She can't make, for now, the grand calls some of them have. But as Mai Tokiha becomes the flame from above, as Sailor Moon calls out--

Yes. Yes, that's right...

"...I'd like some cocoa, too," she says. When did she arrive?

She is there, in brillance and red, with Sailors Moon and Mars both, bending at the knee and if Sailor Mars is not a Pretty Cure...

Well, the Soldier(?) of Passion(?) is. Bending at the knee, she leaps, somersaulting forward and slamming right after the two of them.

COMBAT: Cure Passion has used Passionate Kick! on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick dodges 9 Fatigue damage from Cure Passion's Passionate Kick!, taking 13 Fatigue damage!  Pink Moon Stick's
Fade and Flash abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Cure Black [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Love is a Battlefield - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsa_9xNpqF4

The rainbow energy builds across the bodies of Cure White and Black until they glow like twin filaments, crawling bolts cracking onto the ground from their resolute limbs. Cure White's head is draped back, hair floating behind her as though she were submerged in the haze of energies. Her arm raised, her elegant form dangling from the aeon force running through her palm, her sweet voice shouts to be heard above the crackle and rush. "Our beautiful souls...!"

A massive puff of flame blasts across their bodies, straight from the maw of Walpurgisnacht. For a moment both Cures are lost to sight. When they reappear, their hair is fluttering backwards, their bodies singed. But they have not yielded one step. Behind them, a rough cone of clean, paler pavement marks where they shielded the ground from the blast.

Closing her trembling fist to stall the torrent, Cure Black draws her hand down to her side in perfect time with her partner. Black lightning twists across her bold chest. "...shall crush your evil heart!" she finishes.

The Power of Creation is harder to contain than it is to unleash, and today the Cures are exhausted. But neither has the luxury of faltering, not today of all days. Let the current burn hot. Let their souls fill deep, as deep as the feelings they have discovered for one another. Let it be a consummation of painful separation, a portrait of passion, an invincible emblem written in light. Two voices rise in unison, two mouths filling with the same words.


The spiralling cone of black and white light is lined up directly at Walpurgisnacht's bulk, seeking neither weak point nor surprise. As attacks go it is total, unrelenting, and direct. The churning light of creation spins faster and faster at the ends of their unified palms, short orange hair and long dark locks whipping alike as they gaze through its hurricane force.


It could not have been more directly announced, and yet it is unexpected. A burst of debris spreads in a perfect circle from the feet of the two Pretty Cure as if a great artillery gun went off on the spot, and Marble Screw fires, a grinding drill of force and light united, a javelin that never ends.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Cure Black has started a combo targeting Pink Moon Stick!
COMBAT: FINISHER! Cure White has joined the combo started by Cure Black!
COMBAT: COMBO! FINISHER! Cure Black and Cure White have used Marble Screw on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Vita Yagami [None] has posed.

The satisfying DONG DONG DONG of croquet balls slamming home is pleasing to Vita, and she passes Lera a thumbs-up before scattering away, shooting off and - finding herself pursued. "Oh, you wanna rumble!?" Vita taunts a ghost, more for her own morale.

She does, except it's the worst matchup for Vita: Something she can't really APPROACH. Vita takes one turn toward the...creature, and soon finds her barriers flaring and her skin burning. "Agh!" she squawks, and forces herself back, first at a jog and then at a spring as the dogged pursuit continues. Red light flares and circles; the Stage-setting Witch is much too large to orbit in that flight, but circles and sparkles fly about as Vita tries to escape unwanted attention. Finally, she forces a spell through, accepting the sting as she whips a volley of Swallow Flyers in the sky: "Schwalbefliegen!" she hollers, and sets them flying with a single smash of her hammer. They curve impossibly as they scatter, each one ricocheting off nothing as they suddenly converge on her pursuer, drilling into center mass and trying to drive either through the thing or just drive it bodily down to its master.

"...sorry," Vita mutters, and shifts the grip on Graf Eisen, and flies away again.

COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick braces 182 Fatigue damage from Cure Black and Cure White's Finisher, Combo: Marble Screw, taking 149
Fatigue damage!  Pink Moon Stick's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Vita Yagami has used Schwalbefliegen on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.

Endo doesn't do much against the great gears of Walpurgisnacht, another dent and a short ride along the gear before it's made clear that it is time to depart. The method of his departure, a whole roller coaster, does also not look pleasant.

The knight turns to face the oncoming mass of metal, pushing free from his perch-and toward the oncoming structure. He's probably not fast enough to get out of its way. Instead, he focuses on getting it out of HIS way.

Dark purple streams out from his weapon, the device rising in a sharp arc as a violet line cuts through the oncoming debris. It's not a perfect cut. There's still enough of it left to batter and shake him on the way down, but he's less flat than he might have been.

Back to the ground he goes, another magic sigil slowing him before he touches down. His head turns after, dark eyes shifting to regard La Sirene when he feels her hand at his shoulder.

"I don't know where else I'd go." Comes the reply with small, tired smile. "I'm a Chevalier."

He too is astride lion after, hand raising toward Steven and Taken as he gets as good a hold as he can on the magical creature. "Okay!" He calls. "When this is over, we can hang out as much as you guys want!"

And then the world around them shifts, first to a whiling dimension, and then abruptly back to the titanic face of their apocalyptic foe. He heaves a breath, forcing himself to move. Forcing action despite injury and fear.

More Belkan triangles light up the sky around him, and he dismounts from Lion and into the sky below. He goes last, after Lancelot, Nori, Steven, adding his might to his allies powerful blows.

"Okay, Stern! Everything we've got!"

Purple flame erupts from the blade, energy tinged with swirling black. As the length of the sword rises over his head it extends, no longer a sword but a pillar of light that seems to cut across the entire sky. It pulses once, twice--


Down it falls, cutting across the horizon. Cutting toward the witch that ends the world.

COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick counters 11 Fatigue damage from Vita Yagami's Schwalbefliegen, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
Vita Yagami is Psyched!  Pink Moon Stick's Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick's counterattack, Insatiable Laughter, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Vita Yagami!  
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Your Contract Has Expired (Remix) - A Hat In Time https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZacFnVOXys

"Sirene... you made it, too!" Steven says, happy as he turns around.

Three was about the capacity of Lion's seating, dimensional mane car-seat not included.

"Been some fun times, huh? Doing stuff like this, I mean." A moment to look back cant hurt. Good memories are what make looking forward to tomorrow that much better, right?

The group's speed increases. Lion continues to roar, opening portals within the realm, cuasing them to go faster, and faster and faster. The frictionless force that presses against them becomes intense. "Hang on guys! We're about to break out! Almost there!"

Steven has his shield at the ready. One final roar from Lion...!

"Let her have it, For our home! Dismount! Go!"


A portal opens near Walpurgisnacht. Or perhaps it shouldn't be considered a portal in this instance. A more apt description would be the end of a loaded gun. And that gun unloads its clip rapidly, as Lion, and all those accompanied, exit the portal at extreme speeds.

With each one's exit there is rapport and distortion to carry them forward. A direct course leveled right at them, each traveler brandishing their own attack albeit now with devastating speed, each with the singular goal of felling the Witch of Witches.

COMBAT: COMBO! Steven Universe, Lancelot, and La Sirene de Diamant have used Combo: A Trip Down Portal Lane, composed of Shield
Slam, Double Strike, and Shine On Through The Night, on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: FINISHER! Endo Naoki has used Stern Brecher on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick dodges 71 Fatigue damage from Endo Naoki's Finisher, Stern Brecher, taking 107 Fatigue damage!  Pink Moon
Stick's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick perfectly counters 68 Fatigue damage from Steven Universe, Lancelot, and La Sirene de Diamant's Combo: A
Trip Down Portal Lane, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Critical Counter!  Pink Moon Stick's Reverse and Tactician
abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick's counterattack, Insatiable Laughter, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Steven Universe!  
<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Magia III https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Xp_3r_nFGs 

The battlefield is starting to move across Yamanote, a few blocks at a time.

No one can really help it, it isn't a matter of desire; the sparkling maidens are painfully quick while Walpurgisnacht is literally unstoppable. The net effect is that the latter is pushing the group back while the former are preventing anyone from getting clever and peeling off to try to go around her.

All of this is to say that someone puts their foot through something that looks like a stone boulder but is actually a burnt-out booth. Bits of magenta flake off with the ash as they pull themselves free.

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Linden Baum Diner +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
 Bright and airy, this establishment serves delicious Western food at          
 reasonable prices, and for that entertains an enormous student contingent     
 alongside families with young children and the occasional informal business   
 lunch. This combination makes for a frenetic waitstaff under enormous         
 pressure, but their plum, pink and white uniforms (vests, bow ties and black  
 slacks for the boys, puffy white sleeves and vaguely french maid yet not      
 unclassy ruffled aprons for the girls) are an unspoken draw to customers as   
 well. They can be seen at all hours, frantically ferrying parfait, pancakes,  
 salads and steaks across the squeaky clean (and slipper when wet) hardwood    
 floors, from the invisible-but-for-occasional-plumes-of-steam kitchen to the  
 bouncy magenta leather booths.                                                
 A single-story building made of brick but mostly windows, Linden Baum         
 proudly proclaims its name in English above the door, alongside its           
 signature linden tree. Inside, tiny cream crowns are etched into the beige    
 wallpaper, with more abstract but vaguely gothic etchings done in the glass   
 that separates dining areas. Large portraits of various delectable items      
 (with Japanese translation and price) adorn the walls, while each             
 ivory-painted wooden table sports tableware rolled in bright white napkins    
 and fold-out menus done in the restaurant's signature magenta.                

It wasn't Kagutsuchi's flames that did the iconic Westernized restaurant, especially beloved by Ohtori students, in; indeed, bits of the demonfire still dance here and there, like cruel hearthfires engulfing the ovens and atop the main counter. The roof was blown straight off, and what walls haven't collapsed into rubble will do so given so much as a dirty look.

But it is here that the magical girls make their stand against their spectral opponents.

What I hold in these                            
frightened hands of mine                          
is a sword of handpicked flowers.                      

Lera and Kasagami each bisect their opposite numbers, one from within and one from without. They vanish into more sparkles, but the giggling... doesn't. Vita's follows, shortly thereafter. It takes an obnoxious numer of balls, but eventually one connects, and one is all it takes.

My feelings alone are all that live,                    
a wish that I brandish                           
within my heart.                              

Sailor Mars and Sailor Moon have less luck with their opponents. Things look dire, as one simply takes Usagi's kick without any apparent effect, while the other is abruptly and frighteningly proactive, clapping two knives around Rei's heel and starting to YANK--

--then Cure Passion puts her feet through their glittering heads, and they fade into starlight, too.

When I liked books about strange lands                   
Illuminated by                               
captive suns,                                

Mai's counterpart survives that fiery bludgeon just long enough to get shot in the back by Fuu. Repeatedly. Poof.

A portal opens around Walpurgisnacht's face, which is to say, almost at ground-level. Couple stories up. It is the part of her that's closest to the world she's destroying so casually.

It should have been great. Lancelot leaps off Lion to slash at that face, frozen with howling laughter, at point-blank. And he does. La Sirene shoves her piece of inverted darkness directly into her flesh, practically up the slash that represents her nose. Steven batters it in further with his shield.

I believed the fairy tales that                       
Taught us that wishes would surely                     
Come true. (Among light and shadow...)                   

All three fall away with the realization that she didn't react at all. Like, not even a /little/ bit.

The face is not the face. The noble lady, in all her trappings... is it armor? A hermit crab's shell? Whatever it is, it isn't her, not in any way that really matters. The essence of Walpurgisnacht is not contained within.

Gently, magic from ancient times                      
bloomed wildly in silence.                         

And then Marble Screw slams into her from below, while Stern Brecher falls upon her from above.

"The power to change the world                       
Lies in those hands of yours",                       
it whispers.                                

They bisect the world; Pretty Cure's side contains only black and white for long moments, no room for any gradients, while Endo's shades everything a brilliant, violent violet.

There's a huge explosion, one that wipes out the last traces of Linden Baum completely, never mind everything else in range. ESCAPING it becomes an immediate requirement for survival as the edge of its radius churns up everything it advances upon, mauling it to nothing.

When it fades...

...familiar laughter tinkles through the air. A familiar mandala still glitters in the sky.

Let us have an unending dream.                       
During this time I go through with you,                   
my feelings alone are all that live.                    

Ash snows down onto the group, collecting in their eyelashes, on their shoulders, beneath each footstep.

And a sparkling young woman is standing /directly/ behind Endo Naoki.

Except for her arm.

Which has emerged out of his chest, a clenched fist at its end.

What will create life is                          
this wish.                                 
MAGIA ENDS                                 
COMBAT: FINISHER! Pink Moon Stick has used TAKE YOUR HEART on Endo Naoki.
COMBAT: FINISHER! Pink Moon Stick has used ENCROACHING RUIN on Cure Black.
COMBAT: FINISHER! Pink Moon Stick has used ENCROACHING RUIN on Cure White.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Ashes, Ashes on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Ashes, Ashes on Kasagami Araki.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Ashes, Ashes on Vita Yagami.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Ashes, Ashes on Sailor Mars.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Ashes, Ashes on Sailor Moon.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Ashes, Ashes on Cure Passion.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Ashes, Ashes on Mai Tokiha.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Ashes, Ashes on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Ashes, Ashes on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Ashes, Ashes on Lancelot.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Ashes, Ashes on La Sirene de Diamant.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon perfectly dodges 0 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Ashes, Ashes, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical
Dodge!  Sailor Moon's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji fails to dodge Pink Moon Stick's Ashes, Ashes, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Exhausted applied to
Fuu Hououji!  Bind Break! All of Pink Moon Stick's debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: Lera Camry dodges 0 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Ashes, Ashes, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Lera Camry's Fade and
Flash abilities activate!  Blind and Exhausted applied to Lera Camry!  Bind Break! All of Pink Moon Stick's debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: Cure Passion braces 0 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Ashes, Ashes, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Cure Passion's Block
and Parry abilities activate!  Blind and Exhausted applied to Cure Passion!  Bind Break! All of Pink Moon Stick's debuffs are
COMBAT: Sailor Mars partially dodges 0 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Ashes, Ashes, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Mars's
Fade and Flash abilities activate!  Blind applied to Sailor Mars!  Bind Break! All of Pink Moon Stick's debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant fails to dodge Pink Moon Stick's Ashes, Ashes, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Blind and Exhausted applied
to La Sirene de Diamant!  Bind Break! All of Pink Moon Stick's debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: Steven Universe fails to brace Pink Moon Stick's Ashes, Ashes, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Blind and Exhausted applied to
Steven Universe!  Bind Break! All of Pink Moon Stick's debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki dodges 0 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Ashes, Ashes, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Kasagami Araki's
Fade and Flash abilities activate!  Blind and Exhausted applied to Kasagami Araki!  Bind Break! All of Pink Moon Stick's debuffs
are cleared!
COMBAT: Mai Tokiha dodges 0 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Ashes, Ashes, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Blind and Exhausted
applied to Mai Tokiha!  Bind Break! All of Pink Moon Stick's debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: Vita Yagami dodges 0 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Ashes, Ashes, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Bind Break! All of Pink
Moon Stick's debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: Lancelot fails to dodge Pink Moon Stick's Ashes, Ashes, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Exhausted applied to Lancelot!  Bind
Break! All of Pink Moon Stick's debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki braces 59 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Finisher, TAKE YOUR HEART, taking 89 Fatigue damage!  Endo
Naoki is unable to keep fighting!  Endo Naoki's Block and Parry abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Lera Camry grits her teeth. She turns, when she sees the huge violet explosion that erupts. It obliterates Linden Baum; there is another dull pang that is swallowed in terror. Lera can't see if anyone else escapes. She turns, and she starts flying fast enough to blitz away from it. Her hand reaches down.

She grabs at the collar of Passion's dress, and lifts her bodily. Lera throws her, pitching her to the side, as she finds the shockwave catching up with her. It hits her legs -- and then it flips her.

There is a shout, before Lera smashes into a chunk of twisted, broken metal -- covered in ash -- that once belonged to Tokyo Tower.

She hits it hard enough to make it ring.

Then she crumples down, sightless but breathing. Ash drifts down, into her hair and on her bloodied, torn coat.

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.

There's a flash of violet as Fallen Stern cleaves across the sky, burning a long line across the laughing face in front of it. The complementary explosion from the other side of Walpurgisnacht's body adds to the assurance of its destruction, and Endo allows himself a moment a moment of brief satisfaction as the world becomes nothing but blinding light and coursing power.

The work is done.

So he thinks, until reality comes back with abrupt and fatal clarity. It takes a moment to realize why he remains suspended in the air, what the sudden warmth is that courses through his chest. The pain comes after, muted by the shock of the arm that extends from his chest.

His own hand grasps at the foreign one protruding from him, as if to in askance of why it might be there. A moment later, in short-lived panic.


Endo's eyes can't see the glimmering girl that's behind him as much as he tries. His neck may swivel, but he does not get far. There are other things he tries to see, though. The small shapes of friends above and below. His eyes try to seek them out, to find Pretty Cures, Sailor Senshi, knights, duelists, mages. Friends, strangers, former enemies now united in purpose. If he could find them, he could say something. Ask for something. Help? Forgiveness? Something important. If he could find Ren--


Words don't come out. His mouth opens like they should, but none do. Something raspy comes in their place, something wet.

<RES P O N D .>

And then it's dark.

<R E S P O N D>

The sword falls, and so does Endo.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Normally, there's a little bit more evidence of a battle that's in the process of being lost. Normally, it's possible to tell that the tides are turning against you and your allies, and a commensurate opportunity to dig in, reach deeper, and bring that last bit of power to bear.

But this fight has ranged so far and wide across the city, under such chaotic and mind-breaking circumstances, that those cues have been scarcer than normal. If anything, it's seemed to the Magic Knight of Wind like a precisely balanced stalemate of sorts - even as the magical defenders of Tokyo, and of Earth, and of beyond have thrown everything they have at Walpurgisnacht and its servants, and have weathered the various attacks and devastation unleashed against them in turn, there's remained what the Wind Knight took for a peculiar sort of equilibrium.

It's not until a flicker of magenta from under a solid layer of ash cues some recognition of the arrangement of what has been a restaurant popular among students (and not only from Ohtori) that the pieces click together - and a shock of despair brings the Wind Knight to immobility. Sparkles seems to sense it too, although she can't tell if Lancelot's magical steed feels the same dismay.

The battle has been at this strange point of balance because it *isn't* a fight.

The familiars? Those could be defeated, as in any Witch's labyrinth.

The shining shadows? Individually, not invincible, but a persistent danger in spite of that.

But Walpurgisnacht itself ...

They've fought entities that could reasonably be called forces of nature. Some magical girls could make a justified claim to that descriptor in their own right. But Walpurgisnacht is as antithetical to nature as to any mortal creation - it simply exists, and destroys.

The climactic onslaught unleashed by two Pretty Cures and Endo's magical swordplay erupts, pinning Walpurgisnacht's manifest form between fire and raw magic; the explosion jars the Wind Knight out of her unhappy reverie, and she leans hard away from it, digging her heels into Sparkles' flanks as the warhorse turns and simply *bolts*, wiser than her current rider. So the Wind Knight doesn't see what happens to the original pair of Pretty Cures, nor to Endo himself. Only when the cataclysmic detonation (could it be called a 'fireball'?) subsides does the Wind Knight look back ...

The mandala - the eldritch matrix which symbolizes Walpurgisnacht's power, its existence - is more visible than any previous moment; the green-clad Magic Knight can't help but notice it now, where it had been more of a 'background element'. And the rest of Walpurgisnacht, its physical body, seems practically untouched despite the explosion at whose epicenter it was located.

The last time Fuu remembers feeling this hopeless, this helpless, was when her powers as a Magic Knight failed her. Somehow, though, her armor remains intact about her body, the silent, silvery song of power still tingling within her, words on her tongue, power in her heart. Even now, she remains the Magic Knight of Wind.

And the wind picks up once more, as she dismounts from Sparkles, stumbling a little when her feet hit the ground. "Find Lancelot-san," she gasps. "Make sure he's okay. Or .... alive, at least."

If he's alive, she can heal him. The Wind Knight clings to that thought - that belief. The belief that even now, even faced with an enemy who shrugs off everything they've thrown at it, it's still not over.

Not yet.

Sometimes, she closes her eyes to concentrate and draw up her magic. This time, the Wind Knight's emerald eyes stay open and focused as she gathers her will, hands clenching at the air and drawing it back, as if summoning up the winds. Maybe it won't -

No. Don't think that way.

Belief becomes power. If her belief wavers, her magic will fail her after all.

"Emerald ..."

Thoughts of normality, of green and thriving things. Of the grass and trees in the city's many parks; of the thick woods bordering more than a few of the shrines; of the lawn and the garden surrounding her family's house. Thoughts of Cephiro in all its beauty; thoughts of Tokyo, the bustle of the city at its most urban, the beauty of those places where Nature is allowed to flourish; thoughts of Hokkaido, Okinawa, and assorted places in between.

Her world isn't always marked by green - but enough of it is to keep that color close in her heart, closer than her reflection in the mirror.

The Magic Knight of Wind sucks in a deep breath, filling her lungs to the utmost, and the breeze expands around her. Her gaze focuses on the most terrible Witch of all, the bane of all she knows and treasures in this world. She spoke one word already; now she speaks the other.


Or rather, she screams it - and the tempest screams with her, the storm rising and rending its way towards Walpurgisnacht.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Fuu Hououji has used Emerald Cyclone: Full on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick dodges 28 Fatigue damage from Fuu Hououji's Finisher, Emerald Cyclone: Full, taking 42 Fatigue damage!
Pink Moon Stick's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Madoka and Junko, mother and daughter, stare at each other on the steps like they're looking at each other -- really seeing each other -- in an entirely new way.

"I love you, Mama," Madoka declares earnestly. Unsmilingly. It's the first time she's said it without a cheerful giggle. It's the last time she's going to say it ever. And she means it so, so much.

"And Papa. I love you both so much. THE MOST."

She looks down for a moment, unable to withstand the strength of Junko's glare, unable to see how it softens. She's tired, suddenly. She's so tired.

That doesn't mean what she's saying is any less true.

"I know how much you treasure me. I know I mustn't throw my life away."

Her voice and gaze rise together, full of determination. She does not so much plea for understanding as demand that she be understood. A light grows behind her eyes, blooming from deep within, with every passing word.

"It's different... everyone's important, and I have to protect you! That's why there's a place that I have to go, right now!"

When her voice cracks, as her mother's did, it isn't with uncertainty or tentativeness.

It's sheer ferocity of emotion.

Junko's hands remain at her sides, in fists, but she's no longer afraid for herself, for her relationship, for possibly having crossed some invisible but unforgivable line. A different, much more profound fear has taken root inside her instead.

"So you can't tell me why?" she asks, with a sort of barely-controlled calm.

Madoka closes her eyes and shakes her head, which ruffles her twintails. It's exactly the same motion she's been making for 'no' since she was in a high chair and rejecting her cherry tomatoes.

Junko is unbothered by this response, because now she knows what to do, how to fix this, and that is everything.

"Then bring me along," she insists.

When Madoka shakes her head more emphatically, the second time, Junko feels her level surface beginning to crack. But her daughter is frustratingly stern. It's like talking to... herself.

"I can't." At least her voice is still light and breathy, a child's voice driven by a mature will. "You should stay with Papa and Tatsuya and make sure they're safe."

They both know the second part of this for an olive branch.

Could someone like me really make a difference?

Junko is silent, worried. The fear spreads its shoots down her legs and through her arms. It unfurls its blossoms in her eyes.

Madoka's cheek is still pink from the slap, but she's lowered her hand, now, and clutches it in front of her like she's arguing at the judge's bench. Her mother's lost calm has infected her. This, too, she's stolen for her own. Inherited too soon.

"You told me that you raised me to be a good person," she observes quietly. "I don't lie. I don't do bad things."

She lowers her arm and straightens her back, her shoulders, and lifts her chin a crucial inch.

"Will you believe in me now? Will you think I'm doing the right thing?"

Junko reaches out as though to grab her daughter again, hesitates with her hand splayed out in midair, and lowers it in the beginnings of surrender, like the flag atop a defeated fort.

Again her hands tighten, but they grasp nothing but themselves.

"Are you sure that you're not being tricked by someone?"

"Mmm." Madoka promises, simply, vocalizing her little nod, which does not lack surety along with size.

Junko looks down at her daughter, but only because she's one step up on the stairs. The moment goes on for a long time. Too long, by a few breaths or two.

Then, suddenly, warmth infects her expression, and this time when she raises a hand, it's to give Madoka a gentle push out of the door.

Out of the nest.

Since it's Madoka, this does not go gracefully. She manages not to fall but the first two steps are precarious and Junko dutifully swallows the heart that has abruptly lodged itself in her throat.

But when she catches herself, and looks back up, it's finally her turn to smile.

It's a very small smile.

But a memorable one.

"Thank you, Mama."

And then she's gone.

<Pose Tracker> Cure Black [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Warm Whispers = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqGHW5sQvXM

Marble Screw is as relentless, as beautiful, as it has ever been. Cure Black's heart aches watching it, somehow. It's not an emotion she normally associates with violence, despite how proficient she has become with it. This weapon is absolute. Its usage is not joyous, but it is right.

The scream of energy drilling into the apocalypse is a sound that pours not from her mouth, but from deep inside her chest--hers and White's. That is why Black believes in it so fiercely, why she stares and waits for Walpurgisnacht to be sundered. When violence goes beyond and becomes more, so too does hope become something even greater.

So what if Walpurgisnacht DOESN'T break? Neither will they.

Black's lip curls back in pain as she watches Endo die. Shelters or not, she is certain he is not the first today, not even close. What a bitter life this is. What soft people we are, to live in a world made of razors. Cure Black has gained scarce wisdom in her short life, but these things, she does know. And right now, she feels them down in her weary bones.

Walpurgisnacht endures. It does not even look harmed.

She's so tired. Cure Black was given strength above all, but she is exploring its thin dregs. She has broken herself against too many concrete walls, throw herself into too many girders, hammered her fists too long into the unbreakable. She can feel the same exhaustion in her partner as their palms endlessly hurl the spear of creation, as its point grinds itself dull against the Witch. This is already the longest they've ever delivered this power. And as they squeeze their fingers about each other's knuckles, the retaliation is chewing its way towards them. Pavement and buildings are shredded apart in a spreading sphere of pure destruction. Marble Screw is like a scorching pillar of firmament, and when the sphere contacts it, it is the sphere that retreats and is swallowed, shearing away with a sound like a bandsaw passing through wood. But the flesh and bone that channels that pillar will not manage the same feat.

Cure Black turns her face at last to White's. Block after block of city is being eradicated before their faces. Will it consume the whole world if not halted? Well, to Cure Black, Tokyo is the world. The air conditioners hanging outside the apartment buildings, the styrofoam bowl a monk left on the temple steps for stray cats, the imperfect fit of the metal gates closed down over each shop at night. The illumination in the park during winter. The rusty bike rack in front of Juuban. The smell of moss outside Honoka's gate.

Black shakes her head gently, miserably. But White understands. She agrees.

Behind their scuffed boots, black and white, there are a few inches of Tokyo that are safe as long as they can stand up. Even if they take just one step back, they're allowing that to be destroyed. Call it love or fatigue or courage or just stubborn defiant refusal. But the two Pretty Cure will lose nothing else today.

Cure Black touches her sweat-soaked forehead to White's, clenches her jaw, and renews her flagging contribution to Marble Screw, burying it deeper in the seeminginly invincible Witch. The sphere of destruction is nearly upon them. They can hear nothing else, and with its flashing lights, perhaps they could not even read one another's lips.

Nagisa Misumi opens her eyes ruefully. Amber, honest, close. She looks at Honoka Yukishiro, and she smiles. God, she smiles so big it hurts. The blaze of their souls strobes against their features. Gently, slowly, she leans in closer, letting her shoulders drift against Honoka's.

Nagisa closes her eyes again for this part. Honoka has to lift her heels just a little. This, too, they hold without stopping, but it is so much softer.

When the churning storm swallows them, still Marble Screw shines like a lance. Their hands fingers threaded so tight together at their side, are the last to be lost to sight.

A few seconds later, Marble Screw flickers, then winks out like a nightlight.

COMBAT: Cure Black accepts Pink Moon Stick's Finisher, ENCROACHING RUIN, taking 320 Fatigue damage!  Cure Black is unable to keep
COMBAT: Cure White accepts Pink Moon Stick's Finisher, ENCROACHING RUIN, taking 329 Fatigue damage!  Cure White is unable to keep
<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Starlight to stardust. One figure after another, vanishing like they never were to begin with, sent to a long-earned rest.

At least that's what Mai would like to imagine, as the girl with the morning star vanishes. It would be nice if those girls bound to this fate could be happy.

The fight separated her from Kagutsuchi - the Child is still overhead, still lashing out at those bits of starlight - but still on the retreat. Back and back, further and further, faced with the absolutely unstoppable Walpurgisnacht. As she steps back on the ground for a moment, Mai isn't even sure where they are any more-

There's a crunch under her feet, and she looks down on reflex.

The colour is too familiar. The landscape around has been blasted and ravaged beyond recognition, and yet-

Mai knows where she is. Witch-flame licks at what remains of a stool, and Mai Tokiha is standing right where she used to send in orders. Linden Baum diner, just as ever.

She sags for a moment, as if forgetting the fight, as if forgetting the fate of Tokyo. One hand reaches out, as if to rest on a now-lost countertop, as if to return to where she was.

To happier days. To when she could call herself a waitress. To when she proudly defended what she saw as her domain. To when she worked alongside Madoka and first befriended Eri and butted heads with Mami -

It feels like - for her maybe it was a lifetime ago.

"...I lied. I did want to come back here, to see this place again."

There's a rumble, a shifting in the stars, violet fury falling down as chiaroscuco rises. A distant cry echoes, and Mai soars away from her former workplace as the exploding fury consumes it utterly.

Hope, for a moment.

Dashed by laughter.

There's no sign of Cure Black or Cure White, any more. Mai wipes ashes and tears from her eyes, looking at the mandala and the Witch of Witches and spits anger. "You just...you just won't stop, will you? Tearing apart everything we know and love, never stopping unless-"

It's there, or an echo is there, behind Endo. There isn't even an instant to scream warning, to gasp in shock, to so much as breathe - there's an arm through Endo Naoki's chest.

It was so casual, the way Walpurgisnacht put an end to the boy that Mikoto could not. The way she ended the rivalry that led to the fight that led to Mai never getting to see Mikoto again.

Casually laughing as the Witch destroys and kills and never ever stops.

"How could you..." Tears and ashes, ashes and tears. Endo shouldn't mean anything to her, he'd hurt Mikoto - and yet it matters. It matters, and Walpurgisnacht just doesn't care about anything but tearing the world apart like pulling wings off a fly-

There's a croon from somewhere behind her - Kagutsuchi, approaching in concern, in support. Mai, for her part, doesn't seem to notice. Her rings blaze hot, spinning faster and faster like her Child's mandala are meant to, taking the burden of destruction on herself.

The first time she ever did something like this was right here, when Elixir Red invaded Linden Baum during her shift.

More flames join her - fire trails off of Kagutsuchi as the Child begins to fade, lending its fury and its nurturing to her cause. It seems like too much to bear but the whole day has been too much to bear - the whole week has been too much to bear - it's all too much.

"You just won't stop as long as you're here - "

So much is ruined, and Walpurgisnacht isn't to blame for half of it - but it's here, and it's ruined so much, and Mai can barely see it through the ashes and the tears and the rage. " - so get out of our lives! ARDENT..."

There's a feverish whine as the spinning rings go white-hot, heat rippling from the HiME. It reaches a pinnacle, and seems to push beyond it - and then Mai's fury explodes out in a blazing star of light to try to at least burn some of the terrible Witch. "...SPLENDOUR!"

A fire so bright consumes so terribly much fuel, though. Her rings fade away as soon as the fire has left them, and Mai tumbles from her stance in the air. She lands heavily amid the ashes - cushioned, in part, but barely able to move from them.

Reduced to a girl without a stable job or close companion, staring up at an impossible foe to see if this is the end.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Mai Tokiha has used Ardent Splendour on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to brace Mai Tokiha's Finisher, Ardent Splendour, taking 130 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Mai Tokiha is unable to keep fighting!
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

He was falling. He hit the ground hard in a poof of debris and was slammed down a few city blocks from the shockwave caused by Marble Scew and Stern. As he layed there, debris tinkled off his once shining armor. Lancelot pushes himself to his feet only to stare in wide eyed horror at Endo with a creature holding his heart.

He stared as ashes began to fall like rain. He didn't kow the Pretty Cure's very well, but he'd fought beside them countless times, and their deaths at the hand of this thing hit him almost as hard as Endo's.

The last words his friend spoke floods into his ears. "When this is over we can hang out as much as you like!" He stares at Endo, his eyes tracking the falling stern where it finds it's final resting place among the debris in a small cloud of dust, and then slowly turns his face to look up at Walpurgisnacht.

Something happens.

His hands begin to gather electricity. There is enough of it aorund him from destroyed junction boxes and downed power lines, and destroyed cars whose batteries are now bare. His eyes begin to pulse and flash a green color. This engergy spider webs around him, crackling around the ground and exploding rocks or walls that are somehow still up. He looks up at Mai, fighting above him and winces. He had one last trick up his sleeve as the power roared through him. He swelled with so much power that he felt like his blood was going to boil.

A single, and powerful bolt of lightning falls from the heavens and Lancelot stands up. His armor is scored. His face bleeds freely from a cut, the blood running down the left side and covering half his neck. He can feel his heart pulse in his ears. His Cloak is in tatters, he lifts a hand and unfastens it, letting it fall to what was left of his favorite Bacon Dinner hangout. The place he had met Mai and Mikoto.

Still the power flowed into him. His hair whipped back and forth, and electricity began to arc and explode along the ground in whipping tendrils of power.

"Mika." He says softly, looking right in that monster's eye. "Be safe. Get healed. Somehow. Live. Mama, Papa, I love you both. I'm sorry." He looks for his horse, no not his hors,e his companion all these years of crazy Knight stuff. His best Friend. "Good by Best Buddy. I love you too."

He knows those words will never be heard, but it helps. He sees in his mind Endo one last time, his friend murdered by this thing, and he remembers something Lancelot had said to Mordred, who had killed Bedeviere.

So he gives the Witch of Witches his best roguish grin, and says in a loud and challenging voice, "Je suis venu venger les morts! Je suis ton monstre de destruction!" He draws back, and suddenly the lightning storm around him draws back into him. It swirls in his hands and up his arms and the power drips from glowing green eyes. Glowing green eyes that haven't left that monster's face. That look and stare right into the monster searching for a soul or anything. that look 'defiant.' "Mourir." *

The last word is whispered, but the reaction that comes from it is not.

There is an explosion of power and violence as Lancelot sends every ounce of that gathered energy through his arms and creates a swirling maelstrom that is accompanied by one loud and long sound of rolling thunder. The blast of power burns Lancelot's hands, he hears and feels his flesh crack under the raw energy of it all, but he still pours everything he has into it. Everything he IS into this one strike. All of his love, all of his hate, his very soul into this last desperate attack.

  • Translated to "Japanese": I have come to avenge the fallen! I am your destruction monster! Die!!"
COMBAT: FINISHER! Lancelot has used Anima Tempestas on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

There's no joy in slicing through this opponent for Kasagami. She lands, coat torn and half burnt away as the thing fades into starlight. The Duelist is exhausted, falling to a knee from the constant fighting and warring against such an unstoppable force that is Walpurgisnacht. Looking up, she bares witness to the explosive power of mage and pretty cure, of Endo Naoki's fierce blade falling once again upon an opponent.

How many times has she seen it clash with Mikoto? As ash slowly coats the top of her head and her shoulders while she lets out ragged gasps for breath, she spares a thought for the girl who's been missing.

Surely Mikoto is out there, fighting hard for their sake. It kills Kasagami to know she's doing it alone. But there's no more time for texts. Just time for survival.

The Lindenbaum's fiery passing doesn't even stirr the Duelist at this point, having grown numb to the destruction of so many familiar and beloved parts of Tokyo. Another thing to mourn, when this is all over. Her ears ring, and somewhere in it, she finally hears what Moon was saying not so long ago.

"I could...really go for a milkshake right now." She mutters quietly, laughing in a trembling, unhealthy way as she fights her body for the strength to keep up, to nod simply collapse on the spot.

Her eye glances away from the great Witch in the sky. To find the falling body of Endo. Her mouth goes dry. She feels a dry heave coming on, that same one she always gets when she sees something horrible and can't stop it. She blinks twice. But the poor young mage doesn't grip his blade, nor draw breath.

She's only really known Endo as an enemy, as a mage to be wary of. But his fall nevertheless rouses the girl's exhausted body and aching heart to yet more action. Another fallen member of the Puella War. Another person swept up into the conflict and putting aside old grudges to fight this monster that wants nothing more than to destroy and burn, with it's twisted mockeries of people at it's side.

Two lights wink out of existance, and it only makes the grief and rage grow. Kassie feels it snaking its way through her heart, poisoning her every mood and intention. More precious souls gone. And for what?

Eyes shut hard, and then they open. Eyes sear at the laughing Witch. To the Duelist, it's an unforgivable taunt on top of all this thing has taken away.

"....Are you happy, Witch? Taking everything away from people?" Kasagami knows it can't understand. She refuses to think of it as having sentience. But the girl barks her hatred and frustrations fruitlessly at it.

"Well I'm not! Give them back!" The Girl Who Would Be King demands it.

In a flash, she's a streak towards the Stage-Setting Witch. No fancy acrobatics, only a flash of a sword reflected along half-suggested mirrors of her swords' own length as it seems to fan, to exist in multiple places as she lashes out.

Not to the neck, like a warrior. Kassie has too much spite and hate in her heart to give it that. But that blade seeks to plunge again and again for what passes for a heart, for a chest in the thing for it's wrongs. If only she can reach it.

She fears this, too, all of her strength and efforts will once again be for nothing.

Her feelings of weakness don't deter her from stabbing until her hands can't hold her family's sword anymore. It's all she can do.

COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick braces 78 Fatigue damage from Lancelot's Finisher, Anima Tempestas, taking 52 Fatigue damage!  Pink Moon
Stick's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: FINISHER! Kasagami Araki has used Crimson Rose Cage on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick dodges 53 Fatigue damage from Kasagami Araki's Finisher, Crimson Rose Cage, taking 79 Fatigue damage!
Pink Moon Stick's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Kasagami Araki is unable to keep fighting!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Moon [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Cosmic Love - Florence and the Machine - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EIeUlvHAiM

It looks bleak as the familiars do not go down until. Until a crimson bullet takes both of them by surprise. "Passion-!" Sailor Moon's face works up in momentary befuddlement, before she turns to face Mars, "She gets two cups." The girl remarks.

The Witch has been moving - and they've moved with her. It's only now that she realizes she's at the hollowed out ruin of where Mai Tokiha once served her cake on a surprise birthday visit.

The sky is alight with flames. And then the Marble Screw - the Stren Brecher falls upon it. Sailor Moon has seen the handiwork of Pretty Cure before. And for one moment. She dares to hope.

It is hubris in and of itself to hope at this moment. The Witch laughter wipes it all out. An explosion that seems to take both of the Pretty Cure with it. "White..." There's this stunned quality to her voice, like she doesn't completely believe it. "...Black."

It is perhaps hoped for that they will reappear once it is over. Surely she did not just witness the Legendary Guardians Pretty Cure - fall.

Ash rains from the sky, settling upon her.

The Spiral Moon Heart Rod is already lax in her hand. A symbol of Madoka and her love for each other - it teeters on the precipice. As if she were like to drop it from what she's already seen.

There's something else out of her peripheral vision. Like glitter. It stands out among the ash. The stimulus draws her wide blue eyes.

And there it is. Can't she see it? It is a hand through a boy's chest. "En...do..."

The Spiral Moon Heart Rod holds on two fingers. There's a sharp inhalation through her nostrils.

An orange shooting star strikes Tokyo Tower. And there is only red, "Lera..."

A quavering in her eyes. Mars can see the moment that her eyes turn to her. La Sirene. Each girl individually.

She remembers D-Point, where she lost all of them. It was so like this. Some lost in front of her eyes - and others into an uncaring void.

She is not alone. All that amounts to though right now is not dying alone. None of them - will die alone.

You can't protect all of us.

It mocked her then. It mocks her now. Her lip is sucked up into her teeth, trembling, her eyes streaming tears.

If you think about it, it's not such a bad tradeoff.

It's not such a bad tradeoff. Moments like when they're atop a hill of wildflowers. And Madoka drops her sketchbook by accident.

And she sees herself being drawn as Princess Usagi - for lack of knowing her name. The rest of them as Princesses The universe would devour such moments for the sake of saving itself.

They're all brave

and they're all beautiful
and they all cry a lot

Or puts flowers in her hair.

Something inside of her twists. A heartbeat that has the magnitude greater than any Earthquake.

because they all have big hearts

that love everyone
and get hurt easy because of it

As the ribbons start to whirl around her. A silverine shine in the center of her brooch.

You're always you

It is not so much an awakening of an ancient soul. She is still Usagi Tsukino. It is simply that Usagi Tsukino is in complete accord with everything else she is. In this.

The Silver Crystal Rises in front of her - shining in radiance, the ribbons becoming a gown that shrouds her in the midst of ruin - like a girl attending a funeral and in denial. A Crescent Mark appears on her head where her Tiara fell off. The tears which drenched it are causing it to slowly open.

Tears for Black and White - Tears for Endo - Tears for Lera- Tears for every Sailor Senshi fallen at D-Point - Tears for Madoka - Tears for every single Mahou Shoujo that could yet fall here - and for Walpurgisnacht and every single person predated upon by the creature that caused this to happen.

The rod is held up like a maestro ready to conduct a symphony that is to reverse a funeral dirge into a joyous chorus, dress billowing from her determination to stand against the ash fallen sky. "This isn't over..."

Despite her best efforts, the tremulousness of her voice cannot be fully erased immediately, as the radiance from the Silver Crystal becomes like the heart of a star. "...It can't be..." There is certainty. There is love. There is sorrow. There is determination.

And there is a sketch of herself as a Princess - Princess Usagi.

That image may not encompass everything about how she feels right now. It'll do though. To make her own last stand against the cruelty of the world. To deny Homura Akemi's words. To deny Kyubey's words. "...we'll do it - here - now..."

The Crystal twinkles like a star ready to unleash a flare of power.

It is not starlight that bursts forth - but moonlight. A supernova of radiance reflected off of her heart to pierce the night. It surges forth at the Stage-Setting Witch in streams that rupture into individual threads of light upon contact - like tributaries to some great cosmic mystery.

"...we'll protect everyone!"

All of them are here today - willing to pay that price - for the same united mission.

None of them ever should have been put in this position in the first place.

COMBAT: Sailor Moon transforms into Princess Serenity!
COMBAT: FINISHER! Princess Serenity has used Moonlight Legend on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick braces 42 Fatigue damage from Princess Serenity's Finisher, Moonlight Legend, taking 34 Fatigue damage!
Pink Moon Stick's Block and Parry abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRKJiM9Njr8

Their blows seem to be almost in vain, and yet, and yet, la Sirene still feels hope. It begins to become clear what may be going on. The Witch may not be this vast thing. It's like - it's like some of the others, isn't it? La Sirene can't remember. As she leaps clear, landing, she breathes in -- and looks up with a crude shock to recognize a familiar wall. Windows broken like eyes.

She turns round. Something laughs and -

endo -

Endo is holding hands with the familiar -

La Sirene feels the filmstrip flicker and then on some level it simply breaks. When it breaks she has no conscious thought of what she does for a second or two. She acts, in short, from the heart.

"Naoki!" she cries.

She leaps. She lands near him. His mouth is opening. He grasps at that extended hand. "Please-- ah -- no --"

La Sirene begins to see again. Her other hand comes up to touch Endo's face. She can tell from the look in his eyes, or the lack of them, that she is -- well; too late is relative. But that he is gone, now. She can feel someone else shifting near her, and she reaches down blindly, stopping the tilting object.

Endo's weight shifts down. She shifts too, into a crouch. Her tears drip down. "Ah. Ah! No - I - don't want - I -"

I want to go home, Nori thinks. I want to go home and hide. If I sleep maybe all of this will turn out to be a bad dream, one of those vivid ones that seems to go on for years. She blinks back tears. There is that strange laughter.

And it makes her gut clench.

But it is futile, isn't it? She shifts the weight in her other hand. "Endo," she says, quietly. "... I'm... sorry..."

There is a feeling, now bleakly familiar: Why wasn't it me?

Nori Ankou, the Siren of Diamonds, doesn't move for a few long seconds. The ultimate light of Pretty Cure fades; a silver memory of moonlight begins. And in that moment, for perhaps the last time, something occurs to Nori. La Sirene looks at her hand. What she had caught as it fell was the hilt of Fallen Stern.

She grips it.

"I'm sorry, Stern," she tells the Device. "I don't know if... you can hear me."

La Sirene gets up, heavily. The lantern at her hip twinkles.

"... I don't think there's any point in fleeing any further. Is there?"

"... But, I have to... get up, just... hah!"

Leaning against the blade, Nori finds her feet. She swallows. She looks down, and she finds that piece of glass she'd been holding in her hand. Or does she? It looks for a moment to her eyes, perhaps dazed, like that little badge.

She takes another moment, to place it in one of the embroidered pipings of her blouse. Bracing against Fallen Stern, she finds a grip that feels natural, both hands on the great sword's hilt. She feels obscurely unworthy to raise it.

But she supposes, to herself, that it would approve of her standing guard, for this moment. Her head tilts forwards. She thinks, not for the first time, of a small lighthouse on a promontory, facing into a dreadful storm. She twists her head upwards with a toss of her hair and --

I've done the best I can, Sayaka.

The Pharos sparkles. For a moment so does every gem on la Sirene's damaged uniform. Then, she thinks, she feels it; the clear cold light; ah,

And it flies out through that little piece of glass, that substitute badge, lancing outwards. It arcs round, spiralling widdershins towards where the ray of moonlight has gone.

La Sirene feels her head lighten again. Ah, she thinks. Well; well then. She swallows once. Then she grits her teeth and squeezes the tears out of her eyes and lets herself feel like a hollow crystal. Let it go, she thinks; at the least, I stood here, with my friend--

COMBAT: FINISHER! La Sirene de Diamant has used The Light That Never Warms on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick partially dodges 28 Fatigue damage from La Sirene de Diamant's Finisher, The Light That Never Warms,
taking 113 Fatigue damage!  Pink Moon Stick's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

There is so much, in this instant, that Cure Passion cannot see. So many she would have, before. She's spent a lot of time, in this city, so many places. And one, one so often...

A beloved restaurant--the place where she discovered something as simple as coffee, put up with its bitterness out of stubbornness until she developed a genuine appreciation for the complexity of its flavors. Here, in this place. And here--

"...Maybe you're better off with your fire, Sailor Mars," Cure Passion says with a tiny smile as she looks between the two senshi. It is not true arrogance, really--there's a clear relief, to have come at the right time. "Two cups sounds fair."

But far, far above...

The explosions come; the diner is made uninhabitable in an instant, and Cure Passion does not have time to be caught up in it--Lera comes, and Lera hurls her forward, and with a cry of alarm Passion tries to turn back--

She can see her breathing, at least. Just that, Lera breathing, not destroyed, as she hits the ground, turns, to see--

...To see Endo, there. Trying to speak. She knows that feeling, knows that impossible instant, and it aches worse than the spines did that long day ago. "No," she starts, and then she sees, in the distance--already sttruck unmoving, Cure Passion watches, as when Stern falls silent, when Endo falls silent--the Marble Screw, that titanic monument to hope, to love, to more than one--

It falls, and Cure Passion's anguiqshed cry is almost too quiet to hear, strangled in her throat as she falls heavily to her knees. Gone. ....Just gone. "Aah--"

Cure Black--even just moments ago, together, Pretty Cure. We. And she didn't get to find her, in battle--she didn't get to look, after she saw the wreckage of the school. A Queen of Knowledge, they called Honoka Yukishiro, but only--

Passion can't breathe, for an instant. The awful, awful truth gives lie to the idea that she could ever have failed to feel as much as she thought back then. She only thinks, in that instant--

...Of all things, a study guide. A study guide, just that simple help, from someone who understood. And so many other moments--

The ash blackens her hair. Glorious pink fades, to something like gray, a little bit at a time, and she cannot rise to look at Sailor Moon, and hear her. She can say nothing--she can do, nothing, for a moment, for longer moments still, and if ever she could understand idiom it is understanding heartbreak, now. There is a Princess, beside her, then. There is a Sirene, here--the cold, clear light, something beautiful there...

Passion is transfixed in that moment, tears falling from her face, overwhelmed. And yet--

Is it happy? Is Walpurgisnacht happy? Cure Passion can haer that question; she knows, its construction. She knows how it's used; it's been asked in her presence before. It means... It means a declaration, of loss. A question--after all this--is this enough? Is this enough to satisfy whatever need it was that made this awful thing happen? And the answer, for her...

"No," Cure Passion murmurs, staring up at the awful form of the Stage-Setting Witch, of... the end. ...And yet... "What..." She chokes on the word, "...What did he..."

She stares up, at the Stage-Setting Witch. How many times, has Cure Passion, with the others, been prepared to give her life? Too many. Lindy's words, Lera's worries, everyone's cares... Giving a life.

"To you..." Drawing in a heavy, agonizing breath, Cure Passion cannot stand, at first--but she can lift her shoulders. "...Akarun," she murmurs, requests. "Please."

It is not a request for the same power as before. The little key-fairy pops into existence in a shimmer of brillliant red, trilling sadly. She knows. Of course she knows.

"...The crimson heart.." Setsuna Higashi chokes out, "Is... is the proof... of happiness."

This beautiful city. This beautiful world. Ripped, and torn, and shattered.

In silence, she puts out her pale hands, ash-touched, too, and burned, and bruised. And with a tiny nod, she asks--and Akarun stares warmly at the girl she chose. In Cure Passion's hand appears the weapon of Pretty Cure--

Lit with sparkling crimson, made in fanciful curves and wings, a small harp is in her hands, now; the topper is in one, the body in the other, and she sets the heart down onto it as she has so many times before, bringing the jewel into place, onto the stick in the halfway point. "...Sing," she says, forcing her voice to be clearer, through tears and gasps around her words, "Rhapsody of--happiness!"

Painfully, with difficulty, Pretty Cure rises to her feet, unbending her knees and standing, instrument tucked under her arm. She breathes in--and begins to play a small progression. "...Were you ever.. given the chance, to feel it at all?" she wonders, quietly, at this awful end.

She remembers, after all.

Steadying herself again, Cure Passion takes one more breath. To give her life... It is one thing, a thing she has prepared often to do. But... maybe not only that, but...

The strings lighten, glowing with rainbow color in progression as she strums more firmly a downward set of notes. The heart lights up, crimson--and feathers begin to burst into being, all around her. A dozen, a hundred, a thousand, a flurry of angelic white, the hint of something wonderful.

"...I'll do my very best," she promises, and steps--beginning to twirl, and then to spin. The feathers become a storm, a brilliance, and as red light builds, she raises her voice, this time strong--

"Roar! O Storm of Happiness!"

The tune is longer, this time, grander, as she whirls--the light is red, the light is pink, the light is fading purple, it is shadoes, becoming hearts carried in the winds, in a vortex of wamrth and light and memory, "PRETTY CURE! HAPPINESS... HURRICANE...!"

She starts to rise into the air with the sheer force of it, a torrent of her own, an outpouring of vibrant color and shine.

Maybe her tears, too, fly into it, because she could never have shed so many, without something so wonderful to lose.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Cure Passion has used Pretty Cure Happiness Hurricane on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick braces 0 Fatigue damage from Cure Passion's Finisher, Pretty Cure Happiness Hurricane, taking 0 Fatigue
damage!  Critical Hit!  Pink Moon Stick's Block and Parry abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

The plan goes off without a hitch-- Everyone moves in to hit, each landing accordingly. Solid blows, movement is felt along with it, though the aftermath of the attack is far less than desired. Walpurgis isn't even tourched as far as damage goes. That percelain-like face-- or what can go as a face-- has not a bit of damage on them.

"Tch...!" Steven clicks upon landing with Lion seconds later.

Not even seconds later after that, bisecting energies meet and graze each other, causing a catalytic effect that begins to undo the entier neighborhood. "Run... Run!" Steven begs Lion, but utterly exhausted from the maneuver, Lion stands no chance at getting away from this hazard.

In the blasting, roiling rubble, when the ashes settle, Steven can be seen underneath the better, larger side of a building attempting to fall upon him. Pinned upward by a floating shield.

Getting out from its vertical advance isn't an issue.

Lion lay struggling to move underneath it. "Get up, get up...! Please...!" Steven urges. Fighting to keep that shield manifested. Loose bricks fall around them. The building begins to crack in places.

Across the battlefield from his position, he also sees the fate that befalls Endo. It would be difficult to describe the proper sounds Steven makes at this sight, other than the sounds a child hysterical might make in a time of duress. A glance back and forth. Others are still fighting...!

Lion struggles to find footing. He seems badly hurt. Steven's knees too, start to go wanting, under the pressure of the building section. "Please... move! Hurry..."

Did he make that happen to Endo? Because of the cool attack idea? Would that have happened if they just did things normally? Dbout of confusion cloud his emotions, making the effort of shield-bearing that much more difficult.

The shield starts to flicker...

<Pose Tracker> Vita Yagami [None] has posed.

Vita scatters her own shadow, and pumps her fist. "On the board!" she calls to nobody, because sometimes you have to do things to keep your morale up. She shoots around; clearly staying in one place hasn't really been working out for her. She flicks her fingers, checks her Cartridge reserves. Low, low, so very low...

And thens he notices Marble Screw, the spear of creation firing up, and Stern firing down; she yelps again and skedaddles, rushing out to further distances in a blaze of red. She settles. Watches.

And then her eyes shrink as the eruption of light, the counterfire exterminates the world.

She turns and bolts, straight-line and screaming. The world contracts in her thoughts. It's gaining, it's gaining, but she, she...

She finally has something she must return to. In all this destruction maybe that warm home is gone now, but...the house was never the prize. A house is four walls and a roof. A home, her home, is something she will fight until her soul is dust to protect.

So she does, surging onward and onward, piling on speed until she blasts away from the far edge of the coronal devastation. She flips, end over end, and doesn't so much land as she CRASHES into a surviving building feet-first, blasting entirely through the rooftop and coming to rest straddling an office window. She looks up at the annihilation and draws in dusty breath.

Which is when she notices that one of the things has torn out Endo's heart. Her fist tightens on Eisen. She watches him fall, watches de Diamant's sorrowful answer - and Sailor Moon's too, bringing forth a power Vita does not know or understand. More and more she senses that this is a war for other weapons than hammers.

But hammers are what she has. "I am the Knight of the Iron Hammer," she says to herself, quiet. Not the roaring boast she usually speaks it as, but a low self-affirmation.

Graf Eisen throbs at her. "And this is my partner," she says, and forces herself upright. "The Iron Count!"

Forces herself back into the open. Shooting higher and higher yet, streaking directly upward into the heavens, for the clouds. "And together....!"

Eisen sings, pummeling his body with cartridge after cartridge, emptying reserves and accessing the Wolkenritter reserve, filling himself with magic. <<THERE IS NOTHING WE CANNOT DESTROY!>>

The Giganform rises up above her, larger and larger and larger yet, dwarfing every effort Vita has yet made. She doesn't bother checking the scale. She just holds it high as her ultimate hammer grows and grows. And then:


Vita swings her arms down and the hammer's staff bends like a fishing line, unspooling itself along a length of elastic magic iron, what must be miles of length drawing power down and falling, falling, meteoric in power. She must believe in it.

Even if she were the only one left, she'd believe in it.


The Crimson Iron Rider's strongest weapon falls. As ever, it has only one goal, as it swings down.

Smash the enemy.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Vita Yagami has used Gigantschlag on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick dodges 148 Fatigue damage from Vita Yagami's Finisher, Gigantschlag, taking 99 Fatigue damage!  Critical
Hit!  Pink Moon Stick's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.

The sphere of destruction that enveloped Cure Black and Cure White at last exhausts itself, a grey rain of ash and rubble falling copiously onto bared sewers and piles of wreckage. But in its final moment, it seems to expend the last of its hatred, a deafening implosion first drawing in, then bursting outward with a pop. Great chunks of building and highway spray those buildings still standing, smashing through storefronts and flattening cars. One mashes into the facade of a Dark Burger. Another makes it as far as Nakano on the outskirts of the city, dropping right through the roof of an apartment building.

And one, just one, is aimed directly at a crater that currently hosts Homura Akemi. It is a piece of freeway, with a 'handle' of concrete formed from the pillar that held it up, and a great hammer-like bulk of concrete and tar, road markings still painted on.

It is unlikely to miss. It is larger than the crater.

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

The bridge over the Myoshoji River, a tributary that begins in a temple and flows ultimately into the Kanda in Shinjuku, is intact... with difficulty. Standing atop it, slightly dishevelled and with a little blood marring an otherwise immaculate forehead, is the Soldier of the Depths, Sailor Neptune.

Below her, the river bed is dry. Behind her...

"I believe," she says, "the hour grows short. Is our dart ready?"

Behind her...

Water has heaped up. Sloped up. The banks, reinforced by patient work and planning long ago, are already starting to crumble under the weight of what seems like a stagnant flood of impossibly increasing pressure.

Once, at her utmost, Sailor Neptune held back the torrents that drew out of the seas and in time returned.


When she receives the assent, she raises up her hands. Somewhere, Sailor Neptune thinks, she can hear the violins. She can hear the concert. She can hear something beyond this moment. Perhaps even beyond the silence. She hopes, with a sudden poignant sweetness like a glissando of the heart, that the storm will not have harmed the flowers growing so sweetly on the trellis she made with Eri Shimanouchi.

"It's a little late, Sakura," she says, "but..."

Sailor Neptune lowers one hand.

The waters behind her burst, an aggressive cataract of impossible pressure. Parts of its center are flashing momentarily into exotic forms of ice. But now there is a release - a goal - the noise is like what the Deluge must have been. Stone breaks and is drawn along, but it's all just a side effect to what this immense reservoir of hydraulic power is aiming towards. Sailor Neptune guides it, jaw tight and eyes grim. Guides it, implacably, towards...

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Uranus [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Once a Time in the West - Morton https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8O908d8Q1Ec

The 'dart' of Sailor Neptune is almost familiar, a twisted orange mass of metal bars. When it erupts into the sky it is with enormous force, but more of a 'heading' than an 'aim'. A river, in the hands of an ocean goddess, may gain the force of a cannon, but it does not gain the accuracy.

Sailor Uranus, standing on an apartment building, is just a few yards away from Neptune horizontally but four stories up. As the metal projectile passes her, she twists her body through a guiding motion, almost as if delivering a pitch. The wind swirls powerfully, guided by gleaming yellow currents, and forces the weapon's tip to shift. There's only an instant to contribute anything else, as Neptune fired this metal as if from a watery ballista. But just before it is out of range, Uranus hits it dead on its tail with a hurricane blast of force.

The rotating chunk of highway has just begun to cast its shadow across Homura, when suddenly it explodes, as if a bomb had gone off at its center. There is a whistling sound, just before a long, twisted-up metal blade sinks into the ground just outside Homura's crater. It drips still with river water, a pointed telltale of its origins.

The rubble from the highway clatters down more slowly, and far from Homura. The metal blade is familiar to her; it seems to have been salvaged from Tokyo Tower after Homura made her unkind use of it. She cannot see who formed or launched it.

But no matter how you look at it... it's a spear, isn't it?

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Mars [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Concrete Blonde - Darkening Of The Light https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaSSCqrnsUs

Linden Baum. How many milkshakes -- how many sundaes -- how many of those twisty little bread things which Sailor Mars can't remember the foreign name of? The ones which get dipped in butter, not the ones in packaging from konbinis.

Sailor Mars had, indeed, yelled her encouragement while trapped by her heel, because she's not about to have her style cramped by a bad situation. It is looking like a bad situation, though -- until the Cure of Passion drops in. And Mars stares for a moment and then she realises she's staring and she mutters, "show-off," with a quirked little smile which suggests the word she meant to communicate was 'thank you', and then she sighs, looking up. "Fine, fine, cocoa for everybody!"

She sounds beleagured, but it's all an act; well, from more than one angle, really. She needs to keep them fighting. Give them something to push against, because there's so little give to the Witch of Witches. (No give at all, she thinks to herself and immediately dismisses the thought.) There's only so long anyone can throw themselves against something immovable. Sailor Mars is aware; reactive; present.

She really is trying to help them. She's the Soldier of War, too, after all.

Above and below: the world shatters. "Sailor Moon! Cure Passion!" Mars snaps alarm as she realises just how great the power contained in white-black and violet; she is moving, leaping, rolling with the shockwave. Picture a willow, which does not stand resolute against the storm -- it bends.

She bends and she rises when she is free of the destruction, just in time to see them shatter.

It's the sort of thing that happens so quickly -- it's hard to really place it in sequence, as if everything awful happens all at once. Cure White and Cure Black, consumed as they stand firm. The mage, Endo -- her eyes see it and her mind screams immediately hands don't go there, -- and his sword is calling to him but he's collapsing in a horrifically final way.

"Oh," she says, more sound than word, a miserable utterance which betrays her before she can think to do anything else.

But what could she say -- to la Sirene, gathering next to him -- to Cure Passion, to --


The universe takes two paths.

Along the left Sailor Mars pours everything into one last barrage -- like she has so many times before. Burning herself to ashes in hopes that they burn, too. She gives everything; she falls; her duty is done.

Along the right...

Moonlight casts over her and her ribbon rearranges, artfully; a fluttering red dress. Elegant, almost understated. It makes sense, doesn't it? Royalty doesn't need to flaunt itself.

We'll protect everyone, Princess Serenity says.

I'll protect you, Princess Mars thinks.

And around them -- like a lattice, like a web, perhaps even under this awful stage lighting like a klein bottle -- threads of fire burst into existence at her gesture to warn away any reproach the Silver Crystal's wielder earns. They owe something to moonlight, perhaps. Tributary.

The horrific, crushing truth of Walpurgisnacht is that she cannot burn it to ashes. Not even the combined might of Pretty Cure or the regained strength of Endo Naoki could strike it down in one blow. And Mars knows that if she falls here --


She's the closest one at hand.

And they all swore to protect her.

She can't burn it to ashes. But if she can keep Princess Serenity fighting, then, maybe...

Endless war, then.

It's been a long ten months.

If only she knew how long some of the others had been fighting...

COMBAT: Sailor Mars transforms into Princess Mars!
<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Nux Walpurgis https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcoGD_pvKvM

<< You all cannot defeat this Walpurgisnacht. >>

Kyuubey -- the Incubator -- must be here in the wreckage of Yamanote somewhere. Its voice beams directly into the minds of those who continue to stand against the inevitable.

<< It is not your fault, >> the alien adds, in its helpful little voice -- not without condescension.

Walpurgisnacht either cannot hear, cannot understand, or simply does not care about the narration of what must have been, at some point and in some way, her creator.

She just keeps laughing.

Laughing, as one corpse collapses beneath her, and two do not.

Laughing, as the Magic Knight of Wind's cyclone breaks itself against her body.

Laughing, as the princess among HiME smashes the blaze of her heart into her face.

Laughing, as Lancelot pours lightning through himself and into her, enough to stop a million hearts in turn, though she has none.

Laughing, as Kasagami tries again and again and again and again to stab her, but somehow never finds purchase in anything but her vast skirts.

Laughing, as Princess Serenity and La Sirene de Diamant, nee Nord, refract moonlight and unlight off her every scintillating hue.

Laughing, as Pretty Cure Passion's million hearts of happiness burst into brilliant pink sparkles against her ruffling sleeves, arms spread wide to receive them.

Laughing, as the Crimson Iron Rider brings down her strongest weapon -- and through a trick of the mandalic light, causes it to strike her head, that worthless thing, instead of her gears.

Laughing as she's engulfed in another one of those immense explosions created by the concentration of too many extraordinary forces.

Laughing as it fades, and she... remains.

<< By using her powers to repeat time over and over again, always to save Madoka Kaname, Homura Akemi ignorantly and carelessly bound the fates of countless parallel universes into one another. >>

More sparkling girls have appeared; this time their ring is centered around Walpurgisnacht herself, rather than around the assembled, below. There are, therefore, far more of them than the first time.

Far, far more. None a repeat of the first wave. Every single one distinct from the last in everything but what they're made of, that mangled cosmic strangeness, beyond stars.

<< And it is the nature of Walpurgisnacht to engorge itself on nearby Witches. Witches drawn near it across worlds by the ties of fate gave it an unnatural food source that grew again and again, with every one of Homura Akemi's loops. >>

When they first take shape they're that pre-dawn blue-black, again, but quickly, far more quickly, their interiors heat up. Are they going forward through time to sunrise, or back in time to sunset?

Can you tell the difference between the beginning and the ending of the day?

Either is a death.

<< You are not only fighting this Walpurgisnacht... >>

Curling into fetal positions, they roil their bodies' temperature to the surface of that disjoint sun.

And then they explode, upwards and downwards, into columns of Witchfire.

Everything shakes.

More buildings topple, this time from seismic dismay rather than the insatiable pull of the playmistress demanding more set to arrange.

A roseate shield, a flaming web, a fulfilled promise, destiny, good luck, BAD luck...

...survival is determined by so many factors.

At last it's over, but the world is an even more broken place than it was before.

High above everything, all but invisible behind the endlessly changing complexity of her aura, Walpurgisnacht watches the final act of her play unfold.

<< ...But, functionally, every Walpurgisnacht. >>