2019-05-15 - Intermission 3: HIKARI

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Intermission 3: HIKARI

Madoka, Lera and Setsuna discuss the fate of other worlds, and this one.


Madoka Kaname, Lera Camry, Setsuna Higashi


Okinawa Sunny Island

OOC - IC Date:

5/15/2019 - 06-02-2015

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Okinawa Sunny Island +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
 Haisai and mensoore! This might be a good time to brush up on your Okinawan,  
 but you don't need a word of it to understand weather like this. Wherever     
 the term "room temperature" was invented, it wasn't Okinawa, where the        
 suntanned residents and pineapple-laden forests only endure such mediocrity   
 in the dead of winter. Encrusted with coral reefs and surrounded by           
 crystal-blue waters, the Okinawan archipelago adorns many a desktop           
 wallpaper in cubicles across Japan. This is where summer comes from.          
 The locals are just as pleased to be here as you are, too. Despite the        
 diligent efforts of box jellyfish and absurdly amphibious snakes, Okinawans   
 are the longest-lived people in the world. Dying, after all, would mean       
 leaving Okinawa, with its spicy, unidentifiable cuisine; close-knit           
 neighborhoods; and balmy beauty. After raiding China's coast and Thailand's   
 larder, and battering around samurai with farming implements, Okinawan        
 culture has triumphantly assimilated the best of many worlds, and after       
 WWII, they claim the best burgers in Japan, too.                              
 The eponymous island of Okinawa is one of the closest to the mainland, but    
 the chain stretches far across the sea, like stepping stones all the way up   
 to Taiwan. They tend to get smaller and wilder as they go, transitioning      
 from Okinawa itself, with its sleepy capital of Naha and well-developed       
 beaches, and proceeding through hundreds of mostly-tiny islands to the        
 jungle isle of Iriomote nearly 500km away.                                   

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

"I want to erase every witch before they are even born! Every witch, from every universe, from every dimension, from every past, and every future. With my own hands. I don't care what I become. I don't want to let all those girls cry, all those Puella Magi who believed in their hope and fought against witches. All their friends who tried so much to help but could only win pain. I want them to live on with smiles on their faces. I will destroy the rules that prevent that. I will change them. This is my prayer. This is my wish. NOW -- fulfill it, INCUBATOR!"

And glorious light pours through Tokyo until...

...it fades.

It's twilight. The sun is gone but its memory lingers. Being in this air is almost like swimming, not because it is wet but because it is warm. The every breath of it upon the skin is like being kissed by a wave.

Madoka is standing with the others in the surf. Her shoes are hanging from one hand, stockings bundled into them, and the Ohtori skirt is short enough to not be easily threatened by the waves, which are more rushing than crashing, in, and out, and in, and out.

She wriggles her toes and grins as the burrow she makes one moment is washed away to nothing in the next, taking a child's delight in the streaming complexity of sand and sea.

"No matter how many times I come to the ocean, I never get tired of it," she says, with a certain soft reverence one reserves for the sacred.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Lera's shock at the moment of the wish is written on her face. Her shock isn't one of disbelief -- she trusts, absolutely, that the girl who held her hand while Nanoha fought Fate could make such a wish come true. Her shock is that it might offer a way out.

When the flash comes, her expression shifts from a shocked one to a more surprised one, blinking at the feeling of twilight sun on her now bare shoulders. She has swimsuit on, and sunglasses lined with little plastic roses perched on her forehead. The orange-haired girl blinks a few times, looking side-to-side, and she blurts out as recognition sets in:


And then she looks to Madoka, and surprise wars with a dozen other emotions on her face. She takes a step forward, barefoot on the sand, and stares at Madoka. "M-Madoka," she stammers out. "Are we--" Dead? Alive? She doesn't know. "...Was all of that real?"

All of that may be the fight against Walpurgisnacht, or maybe even further back.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

It was all so dark, even moments ago. And then... it wasn't. And the 'was' feels... How does it feel?

There's so much, after all, to think through right now. Just instants ago, Setsuna was so afraid--not of the great Witch before them, anymore, of what could happen, because so much already had. But because...

Because, where was Madoka Kaname going? What was she doing?

Lera was near her... But--

But that's a 'then' that is still there but isn't, and Setsuna has abrubtly already been standing here, her toes pressed into the sand, the sea breeze ruffling her purple hair. It's longer than it used to be, now--longer than it was when she was last at this beach in particular. The water shifts about her, rising and falling. She has sunglasses perched on her head, too, a swimsuit likewise, her things over up the beach. And this--


She hears Lera's voice, and looks to her--sees her standing, not covered in buildings. She sees madoka, in her uniform, and it seems to click but doesn't seem that important that it's strange she's dressed differently from them. Except--

"I..." She starts to trail off, and her face is as difficult to read as usual. Her expressions are gentle, despite the tears of moments ago--tears that aren't there, anymore, maybe because they don't have to be. "I feel the same," she says of the ocean first, and then bites her lip. "I-it doesn't feel like we're..." Setsuna glances again to Lera, as if she might find the words she's trying to speak in her girlfriend's face along with the wondrous fact of her presence.

But she doesn't--so she speaks more simply, and like water breaking a damn, she closes the distant and enfolds her shorter friend in a tight hug. "Madoka!"

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

Madoka blinks at Lera, slow down and slow up, the faintly daydreamy expression of someone unexpectedly called upon in class and unable or unwilling to simply snap to.

"We-ell," she considers, slowly. "Yes? As long as we all remember it...eep-uehihihi!"

Giggling, she disappears into Setsuna's arms. Eventually her own arms emerge to first wrap around her friend's back, and then tug at Lera's arm until she joins the clump.

For her part, Madoka definitely feels real. She's as solid as the sand beneath them, and as warm as the shimmering sky. And she gives as good as she gets, as embraces go, fierce and tight and full of emotion.

"I didn't know how much I needed a hug," she squeaks out, eventually. "This is... nice."

She isn't tall enough to lean her head on Setsuna's shoulder, but she is tall enough to kind of lean it on her upper arm.

The waves continue to lap at their feet.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

There's no resistance when Lera's arm is tugged. She joins the clump of hugs, arms wrapping around them both -- and she floods with relief to discover that both of them feel quite real when her arms are about them both. She lets out a soft sigh.

"...yeah, me too," she admits after a second. She stops the hug only reluctantly to step back, and get a good look at the both of them. Her toes wiggle, when the water washes over them.

"And the beach, and things being warm, and everything else," Lera says, quietly. "Aah, this is all nice, y'know?"

She looks up at the sky -- and she smiles -- before she looks back at Madoka. "...You really pulled it off, y'know? I didn't... I didn't see any way to ever get back to a place like this."

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Was it real? Setsuna wonders that, puts together the last few moments in her mind passively as her focus stays just on relief, at first. She is... quiet, until anyone says anything, and only then does she loosen her grip a little. Only after Lera pulls back does she do the same, and look over Madoka and Lera too, thoughtful, eyes wide and deep as ever.

She puts on a small smile at Madoka's answer, though. "Then... I'm glad. They're nice." A pause. "...I did, too," she admits. "I was... I was so scared/. It felt like you were--that you were going far, far away."

She looks to the ocean, to the sunset, and sighs. "Okinawa... Even with what happened, I feel... happy, here."

She pauses, looking into Madoka's eyes for a long few moments. "But you are, aren't you?"

The water is calming, too, for Setsuna; she couldn't say why, exactly, but she's been drawn to it, since those days, maybe sooner. Maybe it's because of the feeling she gets...

"...Is that why we're meeting... here? Like this?"

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

"Uehi," Madoka giggles again, shorter this time, quieter-voiced. There's a faint flush of embarrassment tickling her nose, along with the salty air. "I mean, how many times have you made miracles? It isn't really that surprising, or such a big deal."

As the hug ends, she looks with the others, out to the horizon. It is difficult to tell where the sky ends and the sea begins, and difficult to tell where EITHER ends and Madoka's hair begins. It's just that color, that after-sun pink.

Her shoulders lift, and drop, in a slightly awkward shrug, at Setsuna's question, and she's the first to look away.

"Mmm," she agrees, reluctantly. "I have to go soon... I'm sorry."

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

They almost have a habit of making miracles. Except, of course, there is nothing certain or reliable about it. Lera knows that all too well.

"I guess not... but still," Lera says. She reaches out with a hand, and claps it onto Madoka's shoulder, and then she nods. "You did great, y'know? Making a miracle is really hard work," she says. "But..."

'I have to go soon... I'm sorry.'

"...You're sure, right?" she says. "I-I mean. As sure as you can be. It's a big thing, that you're doing. And... if you don't want to, if you want to look for a different way, we will. But..." She smiles, too, and it's sad and happy all at once. "...I guess I just don't want you to go, so I'm blurting out that kinda thing, huh?"

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

How many times? Setsuna giggles faintly back, smiling despite herself. "Maybe I'm still not used to them..." Though, her being alive at all, even to make it here--she knows that was a miracle, too. ...Just like now, where it seems that Madoka is a part of the sunset as much as any of the horizon, and maybe...

"Mm..." She was so afraid of that truth, a moment ago, but, somehow hearing it now--it's... a little different, somehow. She tries to think of how... and then shakes her head. She is rarely the first to look away. But this time...

"No," Setsuna answers. "Lera's right. You did great. And..." She looks to Lera. "It's a little easier to say it, after you've said it," she admits to the taller girl. "Even now you're still helping me figure it out, huh?"

But back to Madoka, "It... It's going to be a long trip, isn't it? But... Even so, you remembered. Earth alone is such a great task, but... You thought of the other worlds, too. Not just this past, not just this future, but..."

"So maybe one day... Maybe even in Labyrinth..."

She breathes in, steadying her feelings, and then straightens her shoulders. "I... don't want you to go either," she admits. Setsuna takes a half-step forward again, reaches to take Madoka's hand in hers, if she can, the other one opposite the one whose shoulder Lera touches.

"But if someone hadn't changed things for me, then I could never be standing here. I... I believe in you."

"There's...there's just something I want to ask."

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

"Nn-nn," Madoka asserts in soft disagreement, when Lera tries the idea of another way -- tilts her head to the side, resting her cheek against the other girl's hand, for just a moment. Her shoulder is so small, it practically vanishes inside. It really is easy to forget how tiny the oldest Kaname really is.

The three of them are still so close, now, holding hands inside the surf, that when she shakes her head they're both tickled by the very tips of her twintails. "Don't take that feeling with you, the idea that you have to find me an out. I would do it again. And again, and again. That's how sure I am. Be happy for me... it's not so easy, finding a purpose!"

She looks over at Setsuna and blushes. Looks down, then looks back up, and this time meets her eyes more easily. More comfortably.

A bigger wave crashes some yards distant, and the swell, this time, goes up to their knees.

"You taught me to think of such things -- you both did," she points out, as to the two aliens she's hanging out with right now. "I... I really don't know, how widespread things are out there, but... I wanted to make things better. For everyone. No matter where they're from."

Her eyes sink and sink and disappear into a broad smile, one that swallows her whole face and threatens to get Lera's and Setsuna's, too. She got her happiness. She swells with it.

"Besides -- who knows if I would have ever gotten to see these places? Now... I'm going to get to go everywhere."

Pausing, she waits for the question.

<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Lera smiles just a little wider. "It's... I know. It's really good to have a purpose. I just... don't like to let people go, but..." Her amber eyes drift downward, gone to the sand and that bigger wave that washes up to her knees. She lets out a little sigh, and then her hand pats that little shoulder before she finally pulls it back.

"...It's okay," she says. "You're going to do great. There's... there's a lot of worlds out there, y'know? They could all use some help. Or, um--the people looking after them could."

She smiles even wider -- matching Madoka's expression -- and she nods. "Make sure to go look at Midchilda. The view's great. Three moons, y'know?"

Then, she quiets. She waits for the question, too.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

It is easy. But, this close... Setsuna feels the little twitch of pink twintails there, the denial in it, and... No. The assertion in it. With what Madoka says there...

Setsuna lets out a little sigh--but this time, it's something like relief, instead, even before the water touches at her knees. She nods, first, before answering--and looks to Lera, too. "...That's true," she says, about letting go. She wonders, a little--but it seems... different, this way.

Still, Madoka's talk of worlds--Setsuna blinks, and then smiles, a little shy, her head dipping for a moment, cheeks reddening slightly. "Really?" she asks. "We did...?"

She nods, brightly. "That's true! There's so many--I've seen a lot, but not nearly as much as I would like." She glances to Lera. Midchilda, too, she wants to see--so her eyes say. But...

Then she looks back to Madoka, because there are things left unsaid and her question is among them, so, she composes her words--and then--

"I was scared," Setsuna admits. "...Because I didn't understand. I couldn't... make sense, of what was happening, what you were doing. But now that I know... I am happy for you. I'm not afraid."

"But what I wanted to ask... I think you'd do it anyway," she admits. "But even so..."

"...Remember us," she asks, fervently. "Even in all the places you're going, all the people you'll see... I know it's going to be hard. But maybe... Maybe that way, even if we're far apart, then..."

"Then, we can still be together. I think... I think that's true."

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> HIKARI https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K88rWhJ7uG4

That was the last big wave.

Now the tide is starting to recede.

The next wave laps their ankles.

The one after that barely kisses their toes.

And there's a path... a way foward which had been invisible beneath the water, before.

It's the path to the cave in the rocks over there.

It looks dark, and cold, and scary.

Madoka laughs at Setsuna's question -- not just a chuckle or giggle, but a full-throated expression of affection and delight and, in her own sweet way, incredulousness.

"Secchan," she says, warmly, so warmly, and her eyes shine, "Lera-chan. How else do you think I could possibly be able to do any of this?"

She gives them both a final squeeze, then tugs her hands away and rests them over her heart.

"I'll never be alone!" she promises. "You'll always be with me."

And she skips lightly along the wet sands to the cave.

Right at its edge, she turns back, at first looking over her shoulder, then turning around fully and waving her whole body at them, both arms flying.

Her voice is small, but only with distance.

"--and I'll always be with you--"

Mage and Pretty Cure disappear into the swelling light.

Madoka turns, smiles, and disappears into the darkness.