2019-05-18 - Walpurgisnacht: Sagitta Luminis

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Walpurgisnacht: Sagitta Luminis



Madoka Kaname, Setsuna Higashi, Lera Camry, Nori Ankou, Mai Tokiha, Ren Aizawa, Fuu Hououji, Kasagami Araki, Takeo Akamizu, Usagi Tsukino, Rei Hino, Steven Universe, Vita Yagami, Homura Akemi, Haruka Tenoh


Tokyo/The Moon/Outer Space

OOC - IC Date:

5/18/2019 - 06-02-2015 - Out Of Time

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Outer Space +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
  Earth's little corner of space, called its geospace, is characterized by a    
  fading haze of gravity-trapped gas, a charged magnetic field, and an          
  increasing clutter of drifting satellite garbage no one's cleaned up. Pale    
  moon above, bluegreen earth below, the atmosphere lights up with an orange    
  glow during the day, and paints the cities in electric yellow dots at night.  
  Without the atmosphere or ambient light, the diamond stars are sharply cut.   
  Between them are unthinkably vast stretches of frozen nothing. Their number   
  seems infinite, and while most are almost as desolate as the void in which    
  they float, others contain strange beings and worlds.                         


<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Sis Puella Magica! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARSpkaprwwU

The objections and outcries of Madoka's many friends are unexpected music to her ears.

It means they're still alive.

It means that when she turns her head to look back down from their rubble mound, at all of them, her smile contains entire new dimensions--

--of sweetness--

--of sadness--

--of affection--

--most of all, of profound understanding.

Madoka's eyes are a mirror of everyone she gazes at, one by one.

They reflect Lera's resignation.
Fuu's suffering.
Steven's bewilderment.
Usagi's agony.
Ren's grief.
Vita's defiance.
Takeo's protectiveness.
Nori's smile.
Setsuna's fear.
Buki's faith.
Rei's misery.
Kasagami's anger.
Fate's trust.
Mai's question.

She takes it all into herself, inhaling sharply, as one does from the top of a high, high mountain. As one does when they're willing themselves not to cry, too.

She does not make a sound.

She just smiles...

...and nods, once, firmly, perhaps in response to the last.

The "Mmm!" is silent.

Homura is not, and Madoka can no more leave her in this state than she can fly...

Turning on her heel -- again the gravel makes that scraping crunch -- she walks away from Kyuubey in order to return to her side.

Again she kneels next to her, but this time she holds her even closer. Instead of taking Homura's hand, Madoka cradles her in her arms... threading one between Puella Magi and rocks, in order to lift her head a little bit, supporting her away from such rough pillows, while the other crosses over them both to rest reassurringly on Homura's shoulder.

Her cheek presses against Homura's forehead, and Homura can feel Madoka's temperature, the fluttering but fiery furnace powering through this impossible moment. Homura can smell her favorite strawberry shampoo. And her breath, which reveals that the last thing she ate was one of Papa's choco-mints, the kind that he presses on his children at times of stress.

Madoka's so warm.

She's as warm as her voice is tender.

"I'm sorry," she repeats, more fiercely than the first time though not more dramatically, other than her timbre rising, a little, in shared distress -- and keen understanding of why Homura in particular, Homura especially, is being sacrificed to this plan. "I really am sorry..."

Her eyes sink shut as her voice confesses an awful, wonderful truth, and she nuzzles even closer.

"I really, truly think I turned out this way because you protected me, and looked out for me, all this time, even more than everyone else."

It's so unfair. It makes Madoka want to weep. But she has wept enough.

Everyone has.

It's time for the need for tears to stop.

"I'm so sorry," she says still again, squeezing Homura's hand when it comes into reach, and willing all of her gratitude and regret to pass through their tangled fingers. It doesn't. It can't. But it's something.

Here is the rest.

"This is the answer I found," she explains gently. Her expression softens past affection to capture a little bit of shyness. Bashful or not in telling her mysterious guardian that she's found a solution, she goes on insisting, all the same.

Her eyes contain a promise.

Her eyes contain a secret.

Her eyes contain hope, and at a time like this -- especially at this time -- that's a revolutionary choice. It's dangerous to hope. It's vulnerable. Kyuubey would say it's irrational.

But Mama pushed her out the door. And there's just a hint of wonder in Homura's eyes.

She'll just have to live up to all that.

"Believe in me," she concludes. "I won't let all of your work go to waste."

Then -- even more slowly and carefully and gently than the last time -- she disentangles herself again -- lays Homura to rest again against the concrete instead of within the circle of her arms -- and rises.

She has to rise, because Homura's just like any other Puella Magi... as things are right now, she can't be saved until her hope is restored.

She looks back over at Kyuubey, and much as the sight of Tokyo emptied her of softness, so does he. He's positively fluffy with anticipation. He's never looked cuter, combining that 'noble animal' upright seating position, two paws straight down, two haunches rolled back, with that massive, curling tail and his pointy ears eagerly erect.

For someone who claims to not experience emotion, he sure seems excited.

<< You're shouldering the destinies of countless worlds, as the focal point of every fate line. No matter how impossible your wish is, it could probably be fulfilled! >>

"I'm counting on it," Madoka snaps back rustily, a bit of emotion knocked loose in her chest, creating the closest thing her tiny self has to a rumble. It isn't a low rumble, though. At her most rumbly Madoka is still sweetly high-pitched.

He does not clue into her darkening mood, so maybe he is telling the truth about that stuff after all. Instead he just rattles off the too-familiar, too-often, too-much question that he has asked her over, and over, and over, and over, and over...

<< Now, Madoka Kaname, what do you wish for so much that you'll pay for it with your soul? >>

The question that IT has asked, this alien creature, countless other girls, over and over...

She isn't smiling at all anymore. A frown is a thundrously pronounced thing on Madoka's face -- contortions of pain and misery are a familiar sight, but abject fury is not.

"I--" she begins, taking a quick step forward...

...and then she remembers her Mama's wisdom, and cuts herself off.

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

She pauses.

She closes her eyes, letting her arms hang down in front of her.

She takes a deep, deep, cleansing breath, and relaxes her shoulders, her fists. One of her hands again drifts up in front of her heart, but there it clenches earnestly, instead of painfully tight. Her posture straightens, unstiffening.

She exhales anger with the Incubator, and inhales her own resolve.

Her eyes reopen, crystal clear again.

This isn't about it.

This is about them.

And she knows exactly what she's going to say.

What she has to say.

What she wants to say.

What she chooses to say.

This... is her choice.

Magic and miracles do exist.

Her eyes flash.

"I want to erase every witch before they are even born!"

Madoka's declaration isn't serene or gentle, as it had been to Homura, to the others; she's still frowning, but not mad, just... extremely intent, as she incants each and every syllable with tremendous thought and care.

"Every witch, from every universe, from every dimension, from every past, and every future."

With the totality of knowledge gifted to her by the fates of Mami Tomoe, Sayaka Miki, Kimiko Akane, Kyouko Sakura, Eri Shimanouchi, Homura Akemi...

You know I'm not that brave.
You can just be sad.
Neither of us have a choice, do we?!
We should, we must try to save them.
There's... just something wrong with me...
What about everyone who's trying to protect you?

...everyone crumpled all around her, plus a few more empty chairs...

...and the Incubator itself.

"With my own hands."

With each and every way that it has all become so personal.

She knows she's asking a lot.

She will do it HERSELF.

Everyone deserves nothing less.

The Incubator stares silently at Madoka.

Madoka stares straight back.

And wins their brief, intense contest when the Incubator flinches back, as light is born, flickering between her fingers and her heart.

In less than a second it becomes too bright to look at directly, much more white than pink in practice, due to its sheer, ludicrous, raw intensity.

<< That wish... >> it gapes mentally, in rising, squeaky concern. << If your wish is fulfilled, it will surpass even Homura Akemi's interference of space-time! >>

The Incubator is white, and the light emanating from beneath Madoka's hand only grows, and grows, and grows. Amid her radiance, only its eyes are still visible now, and they're glistening with shock...

<< It's a treason against the wish itself! >>

...and dawning horror.

It can't stop this. That isn't how the system works. It asks the question...

...and she gives the answer.

That, the Incubator knows, is what it means to create a Puella Magi. That is the contract. The two sides of the equation that its people have discovered a way to exploit.

<< Do you really want to become a god? >>

In fact, she's still answering its original query.

"I don't care what I become," Madoka murmurs, quietly but firmly, closing her eyes to maintain her concentration -- to not let him distract her.

Her toes drift off the ground, as her twintails drift off her ears. She's suspended lightly inside a column of her own soul's shine, now. Her little fingers are unable to contain the magnitude of what's about to happen. Her whole body can't. But she tries anyway, joining a second hand to her first, there at the heart of the light, and clasps them together reverently.

"I don't want to let all those girls cry," she continues, as inexorably as he so often has been to her, unstoppably determined and, in an understated way, as deeply hurt as she is profoundly defiant.

"All those Puella Magi who believed in their hope and fought against witches."

She doesn't scream.

"All their friends who tried so much to help but could only win pain."

She doesn't cry.

"I want them to live on with smiles on their faces."

She speaks her truth, simply and forthrightly.

As honestly as she ever has.

She's a good girl, after all.

She doesn't lie.

She doesn't do bad things.

"I will destroy the rules that prevent that. I will change them. This is my prayer. This is my wish."

Her eyes fly open, and she pierces the wish-granter with her expectant gaze.

"NOW-- fulfill it, INCUBATOR!"

This little light of Madoka's soul stretches from beneath her feet to above the clouds.

And then it -- she -- detonates.

That whole fireworks display, up until now, was just the fuse.

Ignition. The very planet trembles. Cut the Earth a break, though.

It was not made to perform the birth of a star.

It is pink like the flowers she loves. Pink like the erasers she lends out and never gets back. Pink like the bubblegum she's not supposed to chew because it will rot her teeth. Pink like flamingos, which are silly like she is silly. Pink like her ears in the cold when she forgets to wear the hat Papa made for her. Pink like her cheek that Mama slapped on the stairs earlier. Pink like her lips that say sorry too much. Pink like Tatsuya's little nose, and like hers sometimes too, when she gets embarrassed.

It is pink like Madoka Kaname.

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

What follows swiftly and blindingly expands in radius, to consume the whole of Tokyo, just as Walpurgisnacht's explosions once did.

Only instead of destroying everything it touches...

...it feels...



<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> "Hope" Is The Thing With Feathers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BI-Z67RnIg


...and there she is, at the center of as many pink sparkles as there are stars in the sky.

Madoka, transformed.

The details of her raiment are like details of her heart. Poofy sleeves, just like her favorite part of her school uniform, from back when she was in middle school. A poofy skirt, too, like a mushroom cap or an umbrella, containing the infinite ruffle dimension beneath it. Her legs, emerging from the middle, look more slender and delicate than ever.

But not gangly and awkward.

Not anymore.

Her gloves are trimmed in ribbon and everything else is too. Big, fat, girly red bows compliment the pink and white of her dress, around her waist and at her back; upon the nape of her neck; adorning her twintails.

And like all of her kind, she wears her soul on the outside, now. It's impossible to miss, not because it's just between her collarbone, centered -- no thought has been given to protecting it, at all -- but rather because it's still pouring off radiance, the ultimate source of the light.

Everything is pink like Madoka Kaname, but nothing is more pink, anymore, than her Soul Gem. There isn't even a shadow of a shadow upon its smooth, curved surface. It is purely and completely and perfectly and absolutely and uncompromisingly itself.

She is herself.

She's Madoka.

One thing hasn't changed: her expression. It is exactly the same as it was before: fierce. Fiercely determined, fiercely compassionate, fiercely defiant, fiercely loving. Her brows are set in a firm line. Her lips are small and soft and tight.

And her eyes gleam with the forbidden truth of all girlkind, torn down from the sky, from the city, from the Incubators, from reality itself, to dwell inside of her like a sacred artifact within a temple:

A M                                     
E N O U G H                                 


Walpurgisnacht is visible again, too, along with the rest of broken Tokyo. To say that she waited patiently through all this may be to project more humanity upon her than she has left. Considering what wanton destruction she has visited upon this beloved home, let's believe that that's the case.

Let's say instead that she had no idea what was happening -- that even the medium of her experience of the moment was, likely, not shared at all with the assembled scraps of girlkind beneath her feet.

But now she is coming, descending from the sky like the avatar of despair, drawn like a moth to the flame of her opposite number.

And she is no less massive -- no less mighty -- no less great -- no less terrible -- than she was before. Not easily will she surrender the title of magical girl supreme, her wimple and gown as surely symbols of the past as her immense internal clocklike structure.

Her mesmerizing mandala promising only one future, and that, no future at all.

Her laughter sprinkles down on the city like rain, like the dust of shattered skyscrapers. Up and down are quickly losing meaning. So many more buildings have joined her in midair.

Focus -- duty -- sinks into Madoka like a cool lake, as she seeks a higher place to make her stand.

New to her clunky pink wedge heels -- balletic in their criss-cross straps, which terminate at her ankle in bows, naturally, of course they do -- she takes her first step tentatively, but, with a simple and amazed delight, alights upon the tormented concrete more gently than a feather.

The next step is more sure. And the next, and the next.

Pink light trails behind her every motion like petals, like glitter, like mirage silhouettes. Even now, her little body can't hope to contain its own unleashed power. No one's could.

Maybe that Soul Gem upon her chest is not actually a perfect representation of the girl who wears it, after all...

Maybe it's just that only one single glimmering facet is visible right now.

COMBAT: Madoka Kaname transforms into Puella Magi Madoka Magica!
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Mere moments ago--moments ago, as Setsuna Higashi, as Cure Passion watched Madoka Kaname step forward and speak her wish... She was so afraid. Something grand was happening, something immense, and she could feel it--she could feel that her friend was going somewhere far, far away, somewhere that she could never reach, and that scared her more than Walpurgisnacht ever had, for all the Stage-Setting Witch's power and majesty. Death is but one thing. Loss...

The brilliant, blinding light encompasses her with all the others. The very planet trembles; all is unseen... but not gone. It's less an explosion, in its way, she finds--and more... en embrace.

Cure Passion feels her toes wiggle in the sand, the sunset stretching out beyond her forever, and warmth, so much warmth, and she is not afraid, not anymore. When she can see again--

Passion reaches out, towards Lera, without even realizing it, staring in wonder at Madoka's transformation. A miracle, from the look to the change in her demeanor; bright, and girly, and shining, and it is more than Passion could have imagined. A girl so long left to the background...

She feels... with her, somehow. As if the distance between them is little, is nothing at all, and she pushes at the ground, tries to stand in order to watch and see her. The truth...

It is a truth that lives.

Walpurgisnacht looms above, and Cure Passion has no way to fight her. She cannot directly understand her, even; did she even know what happened? Could she even be aware? This lowering of despair, this incredible force...

"Madoka-chan!" Cure Passion calls, but it is not this time in desperation or terror or anything.

Her heart is overflowing--her body is exhausted, her mind fractured, but her heart shines enough that its pleasant burn reminds her of how alive she is.

If she can reach Lera, she'll thread fingers into hers. She watches the light, the glitter, the silhouettes...

"...Get your happiness, Madoka-chan!"

Her red eyes stare, upward, into the sky, and shine with a hope it took her most of her life to find.

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

Mere moments ago, Lera Camry watched Madoka make her wish. She isn't sure what feeling she is left with, as the light fades; a faint memory of sand under her toes, of warm evening air, and that feeling of hope -- that feeling that, maybe, everything will turn out fine instead of resigning herself to darkness. She stares at the transformation that Madoka has undergone.

Then, she looks sideways, to Cure Passion. When the Pretty Cure's hand reaches out, Lera takes it; she squeezes, tightly, and then she looks back up at Madoka. She stares at the bright, brilliant pink. Her lips part, and she tries to find words.

They fail her at first.

But Passion talks, and that makes it easier to find her words. She doesn't feel as run-down and exhausted as she did a moment ago. "C'mon," she calls out, "You can do it! We're all right behind you!"

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUmRjr30cjk

The warmth touches.

It surrounds la Sirene de Diamant.

And within her... something, quiet and small, kindles.

The blood doesn't flow faster in her, but she can feel her hands and her feet tingle, and she wonders at how cold she must have been. But now she isn't.

The smile. The smile is returned in pink.

"Madoka..." la Sirene says, and her voice resonates outwards. She speaks with the clarity that can address an ampitheater. She is too worn and too warm to curb her voice.

The hand that reached out towards Madoka turns... and her fingers curl... and one bare thumb with a white nail raises upwards. Her eyes glisten for a moment. Even as that laugh ripples out.

"That isn't the - the, the center," la Sirene says, her eyes turning to Walpurgisnacht for a moment. Then back to Madoka. Her breath draws in like the air turning at slack tide, and she says, "Oh-h- -- We believe in you!! Madoka!!"

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Supine within the ashes of what she once knew, Mai could only ask one question. One question about the fate that was to come - one question about the value of a life spent for a cause.

Is Madoka's wish worth her life?

Mai didn't expect an answer, and yet one was delivered. There's determination in that little nod, conviction in that little hum, speaking worlds of the opposite of rashness. Madoka Kaname has hope and a promise, only asking for faith.

Mai's hands clutch at ruined earth, fingers digging furrows through ashes and dust, but what can she do but lower her head?

However impossible hope might be, however confident Kyubey's incineration-warranting words, there's nothing that Mai can say. No final screams of protest against another girl sacrificing her life, no condemnations of Kyubey's accursed manipulations, just...just...

A single wish.

Would Mai have thought of a wish that would fix everything, or would hers have been short-sighted like Mami's? She can never know - but she lifts her chin with a gasp at Madoka's words. The younger girl's soul is shining, her will even brighter. And yet, and yet-

"All...all by yourself?" So that no one else would suffer - it's awe-inspiring and awful all at the same time, and Mai tries to find the will to protest - but the Incubator protests first, and Mai coughs out a ragged laugh at the accursed fae being expressing something close to panic.

Madoka's truth is a glimmer of hope, something to shake the very nature of the world. It's glorious, but as the pink light becomes everything, Mai's laughter dies in her throat. She murmurs to herself as that star is born. "...but to take it all yourself...do the rest of us deserve-"

The light fades to become all the stars in the sky, and Mai takes a shuddering breath.

Maybe...maybe it's not about deserving. It's choices. It's trust. It's gratitude. Dampened eyes still closed, Mai murmurs. "...thank you. For being...for being better." Better than what, she doesn't say.

She opens her eyes, gazing in wonder at the raiment, at what Madoka Kaname has become. A smile finds its way to her face, a little joyous laughter to her voice - because it's perfectly fitting. It's frilly and poofy and dotted with countless bows and it's all wonderfully Madoka.

She's fierce, and she's elegant, and she's that gleaming facet of hope on this terrible night. Above, the gears turn, the menace of a future forbidden looms, but Mai's eyes are firmly fixed on the girl that was her fellow waitress once upon a time.

"Madoka-chan, I...we..." Mai swallows, willing courage into her voice, blinking away tears. "...you've got this. You're wonderful, you've always been wonderful...like you asked, I'll believe in you."

<Pose Tracker> Ren Aizawa [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

Ren watches, the pink light of Madoka's transformation shining brightly before everyone. When it fades, just enough to see the girl -- no, the force left behind, she gasps.

Madoka is magnificent.

The sheer power she radiates is downright palpable. Still cradling Endo's head in her lap, Ren's grip on him tightens, and a warm smile breaks out onto her face.

"She's beautiful, Endo-kun." Ren whispers, then says louder. "We believe in you!" She speaks for both Endo and herself. "Madoka-chan! We believe!" Her voice cracks slightly, but her support is nevertheless absolutely unwavering.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Enya - Hope Has a Place https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLYOAYaTon0

Her body still racked by the pain of her injuries, the Magic Knight of Wind struggles - not to stand, but so much as to sit up, even merely to *breathe* without cringing. But her sight is fixed on Madoka, her ears focused as much as her eyes, as Madoka pronounces her wish.

Maybe it will work. Maybe, just maybe, Madoka's wish - to destroy *all* Witches - can be fulfilled without the cost they've been dreading since the Incubator explained it, that dark night at the Kaname house. Or possibly longer, in some cases.

The wish is spoken.

The wish is granted.

And Madoka is transformed - from an ordinary girl, friendly and cheery and possessed of a good, pure heart, into a magical girl, a Puella Magi.

There's something else in the all-encompassing flash and flare of rosy pink radiance, as fleeting as a dream, yet as deep-rooted as a prayer: *something* which brushes the Wind Knight's terror aside like so many tears. It doesn't nullify her fear entirely, but where she was engulfed by despair, a spark of hope is rekindled - a spark that burns the same warm, lively pink as Madoka's newborn magic. Even the looming shape of the Witch of Witches can't quench that spark.

Not this time.

"Madoka-san ..." The Wind Knight winces anew, but forces her voice past the pain. "You can do this ... You can do this now, Madoka-san!"

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Madoka speaks her wish, and Kasagami's gaze turns to the girl. Painfully, shoving herself to sit, she breathes out in exhaustion as her mind slowly takes in just what the girl is asking of the Incubator. What she's wishing for. What she's trading her life for.

Before she can once again protest, that brilliant light seems to consume all, and she's somewhere else entirely....

The Duelist's sword is dropped at her side, one hand at her side while the other touches her own forehead. There's something warm and gentle lingering there. Her cheeks feel warm. She feels safe. Cared for. And most of all?

For some reason, as Madoka Kaname completes her beautiful sea of pink and ruffles transformation, she can't help but feel her own inner anguishes and doubts easing just a little bit. Knowing somewhere deep down in her heart, that this girl so full of hope truly believes in her.

That faith, that little bit of belief, is returned in kind. Putting aside her own doubts, she lets herself believe in the girl that believes in her. Hands cup her mouth instead of a blade, and she shouts with all of the vigor she can summon.

The descending horror of Walpurgisnacht doesn't seem so terrible with this gleaming friend ready to help. "Don't you dare hold back, Madoka! You can do this if you really put your mind and your heart into it! Besides, everyone's got your back! SHOW US ALL WHAT YOU CAN DO!" Hollers Kasagami, radiating excitement over her previous rage, belligerent and enthusiastic as a soccer hooligan when Madoka finds her place atop the rubble with every confident step.

Kassie's fist clenches, and she grins. "Now that is how a magical girl should carry themselves." Despite how much it hurts to shout, this young woman isn't quite ready to drop the volume if it'll help out a friend.

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Lancelot was on his side, reaching for Madoka when the light, and the warmth washed over him. His hand drops and he rolls over to push himself onto, surprisingly steady feet. His hair blows in the breeze, the long strands waving slightly and he has to lift a hand to brush the strands that had escaped his tie out of his eyes and tuck them behind an ear.

His eyes, now clear of the offending hair strands track over to Mai, whom he nods once to. A silent; "We made it." Before he looks back to Madoka and gives her one of those grins of his and folds his arms over his battered and dirty breastplate.

Despite it being one of those roguish grins of his, the light in his eyes shows that the smile is real. He knows, just knows, in his heart this will probably be the last time he sees Madoka in this particular life, but that she just proteced him and everybody else. He bows his head to the girl in all the pink and covered in bows. "Go kick some ass Madoka-Chan. I believe in you!" He says, the words choked with a sob and emotion. He lifts a hand and wipes a tear away, hopefully before anybody can see it.

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

Color irradiates her vision. The girl is caught within her threadbare change between Serenity and Sailor Senshi and Usagi Tsukino. The ribbons swathing her from the center around the locket over her heart. One moment, she believed that perhaps Madoka was making this sacrifice because she did not think much of herself. That her adorable same height sister was getting caught within the machinations of the toneless little creature she could not comprehend.

Now? Now things are different.

All it takes is one look at the transformation of pink brilliant. Blinding. Like a transcendence of drawings she's seen in Madoka's notebook unto reality.

A problem unto a solution.

Madoka is the solution.

It's such a simple, feeling that she did not understand before, in her whimpering agony of the thought of losing her. The thought of Homura resetting not being such a bad one.

And now, now, with tear-filled eyes that expression that looked so broken changes into a smile.

It changes into admiration. Usagi Tsukino's bright blue eyes light up, and through the filter of tears they look more beautiful in the reflection of Madoka's light.

Madoka hasn't changed, she's herself. She's protecting all of them as herself.

It was a lesson Madoka taught her long ago, that Usagi Tsukino can protect everyone better than Sailor Moon.

And now Madoka is proving it by her own actions. Her own words.

She can look at Walpurgisnacht - the being that crushed them all. And suddenly she's not so scared anymore. Her hand reaches out to grasp Mars' in this moment, as if it by magnetism in these moments. It was her motion towards Madoka that brought her close to the other girl. Her eyes remain on Madoka, it's just her hand needs one to hold right now.

In the past she'd protected Madoka. And now she does not feel ashamed in the role reversal. "Beautiful..." she whispers, and it's like an echo of that time in the warehouse, when a barely conscious Madoka saw her attack, now she is the barely sensate one, watching Madoka defend them all on such a glorious scale. One she can barely even comprehend.

"Madoka... chan..." The word sounds as if she's more than a little overwhelmed to even say it. "... you can do it." It feels less like a cheer, like the idea that she can inspire Madoka simply by cheering her on is absurd. It is a statement of fact. However, it's one that's incomplete. One that demands she complete it.

"You can do it because it's you."

Once upon a time,said she loved Usagi-chan as herself, when she absolutely needed to hear it. And Usagi tried to say she loved Madoka-chan as herself because she believed Madoka needed to hear it. Yet she underestimated Madoka. Because now the statement has become one of triumph and glory rather than sadness and loss.

Madoka is still herself after all.

In the end the solution is Madoka's love for everyone. And she could not be more overjoyed to learn that the universe acknowledges that fact rather than punishes the girl for her heart.

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

We're not done yet, and maybe the person who knew it best was always Madoka Kaname.

At once there is light, and it warms as all the best light does, Rei thinks, kotatsu-warm on winter nights. The warmth of a friendly smile at lunchtime. Madoka's warmth - Madoka's light.

Madoka's ferocity.

A wish is a powerful thing; Rei would not interrupt. And as the pink shines from her, a-ruffled and radiant bright, the pained determination on Rei's own face has been replaced by a smile, broad and amazed and a little bittersweet despite it all.

She looks at those bows and she knows, they will never give up. Madoka believed in them; now Rei believes in Madoka. Madoka will keep fighting, too.

It's just - it feels a little like an ending, a sayonara-goodbye, the sort where you won't expect to see them at school the next day.

Because here is Madoka, but there is so much Madoka, so much Rei can't see the edges.

To take care of every Witch, everywhere, everywhen, everystice...

"Madoka-chan," she finds the words -- she was speechless, too -- and they shine, too, in their admiration and their affection. "No matter where you go, you'll always be there! You'll always have yourself -- and you're amazing, Madoka-chan," her voice quiets but is still crystal-clear audible. "You really are. We'll believe in you, too. In you, and your dreams. Your wish!"

She takes a breath, in that way smiles have of curving up lips and cheeks even as the air draws in. "So -- get out there and make it happen!" And it's a little like a goodbye, but she's never been good at sayonara.

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

Was it over?

Beaten and blooding, pinned to the ground. Pain. The taste of copper. One eye only saw in shades of red.

It was the worst position he has ever been in.

But then there was light.

It was warm. Inviting.

It was short lived though, but he felt... better? Coming out of it, even as the pain and agony returned. He felt like he remember something. A melody of some kind, or a fragment, or something.

Did he taste something else other than blood just now? No, it was the concussion.

But looking over, he can see her there. Lovely and fair.

She had become a magical girl. Not just any magical girl. THE magical girl. The kind that stands between salvation and destruction at the final hour. Her color radiated outward, ever outward. It bathed everything around with that cotton candy pink.

Steven tries to wriggle free from his position to no avail. "Mmh... If I could I... I would help!"

He looks disappointed in himself. "We may not be able to help you, but you're ever alone, Madoka! We all believe in you!"

She shouldn't have to stand along against this creature of a witch. What he would give to stand at her side now against Walpurgisnacht. Stand with her against a world worth of badguys.

But she would have to go it alone. But was she really alone? All her friends around her. But instead of her being the one in need, it was the other way around. There was no one left to look to.

But Madoka.

<Pose Tracker> Vita Yagami [None] has posed.

Even at the final moments, Vita tried to move. Peace is not something Vita finds comes easy to her, on the field, with buildings ripping free and twirling about a monster she...nobody, really...can defeat. Trust, Fate told her. It's a thing she has learned of too recently. So it's up until the words are spoken that Vita is still trying to force a failing body to stand. The light roars into her, away from her, crashing into light and time in a way that Vita's timeless body knows to be strange, if only from depth of experience.

There is peace in that, at least. "Trust," she repeats, and with the deed done in front of her it is easier to do. How do you break a system? Hammers can't destroy a demon's words.

But words can, it seems.

Finally she feels like she can stop tearing her shoulders apart, and flops, fully boneless, to the ground, shifted only enough to watch. "Take it home, then," she murmurs.

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> nine inch nails and Stella Soleil - A Warm Place (Illum Tangendo) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsGmT7I4c5I

The concrete chunks and rocks beneath her are cold and unyieldingly irregular, and Homura Akemi is so very shattered. She pools against them in her terminal slump. Only her violet irises move, tremulous in eyes wide with fear and a frisson of wonder, to follow Madoka.

Madoka. Madoka...!

Fresh surprise shows on Homura's face, faint but unmistakable, as the girl she loves turns back to her. Builds, as she kneels.

Homura gathers up so easily. She is a limp thing now, and light, lighter than her long limbs might suggest; her shoulders bunch up around her ears. At the touch of heated cheek to cool forehead, those violet eyes ease closed.

It's then the tears come welling up, like this unexpected kindness is all the permission they need to flow through the dust on Homura's cheeks unabated. A snuffled inhalation gives her the scent of strawberries and mint; the girl being embraced smells like blood and ashes, and a bit of both is probably getting smeared on Madoka right now.

Homura can't feel her foot; she cannot feel the ways her body is broken, small and large, any more. But she feels this hug, feels the apology and the gentleness and the careful caring, feels Madoka's touch past deathly-pale skin and past muscle and past bone, all the way down to her frightened heart. She shivers in Madoka's arms, overcome.

All that fear, all that yearning, all that wonder goes into voicing her name. "Madoka..." And just the closeness has restored her somewhat, because she finds enough energy in her to lift her hand, to reach and grasp, because she's not ready for Madoka to go yet. There is even enough in her to squeeze back, though it feels more like a kitten-weak twitch.

She meets Madoka's eyes with her own lost look and receives hope.

Receives a promise.

So much fear lives in the girl in Madoka's arms, and so much love. She trembles with both. Belief... well, belief is a hard thing for a girl like Homura. But she still has that wonder in her.

By the way the flow of tears redoubles as Madoka draws oh-so-gently away, it seems Homura will do the crying for them both, now. A wreck of a girl, grey of face and skirt and rocky resting ground, watches Madoka face the Incubator and all of her fear and love and wonder courses wet down her face.

It feels like her heart will stop altogether, seize in the moment, when Madoka utters the words. The very fact of the wishing brings on anticipatory pain to beggar any physical injury. But the words...

Little by little, Homura Akemi's small mouth falls wide. She and the Incubator share shock, though their reasons may differ.

'I don't care what I become,' says Madoka, and Homura feels dread creep through her, but does not yet understand. The bargaining beast is quicker to see. Madoka is still speaking, and her words... her truth brings more tears to Homura's eyes. Madoka, giving of herself. Madoka, thinking of others first.

Madoka, brilliant and pink with hope like a sunrise.

Pink like a rise of hope, pink more lambent than the sun, pink Homura refuses to shut her eyes to the shine even though they burn and stream from the intensity of the light...

...and the reward for her faith stands resplendent in her confection of a henshin, in the pink expression of a loving soul.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica.

Beautiful. Heroic. Fierce, and sure.

She is like, and unlike, the Puella Madoka who rescued a cringing apology of a transfer student oh so many timelines ago. And she inspires a stirring in a lonely girl, like, and unlike, how she did then.

For the first time in a very very long time, Homura Akemi begins to believe again.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Sagitta Luminis - Yuki Kajiura https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7C6MZul0lZ8

Steadily Madoka ascends, confidence building in her strides until it's a living thing, an unconscious echo, perhaps, of the gaits of Kasagami Araki or Haruka Tenoh -- or Michiru Kaioh, for that matter. Mai Tokiha, in the kitchen. Once or twice she places a hand wisely, like an experienced climber would, or someone who's seen Mikoto Minagi master many trees.

The higher she goes, the more of her friends she can easily see, sprawled out in the ruins all around, and it gladdens her, it heartens her, it reminds her why she's here, and what she's here to do. She is as surrounded by them as her light surrounds them.

They are together, and she stands for them all, as they have stood for her, so many, many times.

As one of them has stood for her more than any other. Madoka's gaze lingers there.

She can only be saved if her hope is restored.

And their words, reaching her, make her glow in an entirely new light.

She pauses just long enough to give them all a tiny, eye-shutting grin, and a friendly little wave, exactly of the sort that belongs to a girl in an ordinary uniform, meeting her friends in the schoolyard, not on the battlefield.

At the top of the rubble, which turns out to be a marginally-recognizable corner of depaato riding high upon the mound of other shattered floors below, Madoka deepens her stance, stabilizing, preparing to brace against recoil -- like Lancelot and his lightning, or, assuredly, Homura Akemi and her guns.

Then she raises the item that has been in her left hand this whole time, held with all the care she's seen Sailor Moon carry her many weapons, including the rod they once made together.

She isn't royalty, but there's something of the dignity Ren Aizawa enjoys when she uses her majestic scepter -- an awareness of its value, its importance, and care taken accordingly.

And something of the soft, simple joy that Cure Passion has whenever she touches her eponymous Harp, also.

Hers is a wand of twisted wood, inset with more pink gems in the likeness of her soul's, and crowned by a rose, little green leaves and all.

Now, it lengthens, then curves, becoming a bow.

She positions her hands on it like she's seen Rei Hino do in club. Like she's seen Fuu Hououji and Signum and Shiny Akko wield in battle.

When she sets her fingers to its string of light and draws it back -- the rose unfurls and ignites with a plume of fierce heartfire taller than she is.

Above them all, curls and whorls of pink light trace a complex pattern into the clouds themselves, painted there by an invisible brush. They're like doodles in the margins of the composition book of the world. They're like Midchildan and Belkan ritual circles -- many users of which, Madoka has long admired, Endo and Lera and Vita and Nanoha and Fate and Hayate among them -- but unlike, too, as they contain no runes at all, no writing per se. Whatever this inscription is, it goes beyond the concept of words.

Where before it had bisected her face, abruptly Madoka adjusts the angle of her bow horizontally -- above her head -- not aiming at Walpurgisnacht at all, but instead, straight at the sky.

She looses her shot. A simple, gorgeous bolt of pink light. It isn't even remarkably large, though it is incredibly bright.

One single shooting star, going the wrong way, going backwards: going up. The world is large and it is small and even with its brightness, it is possible to lose sight of it, for just a heartbeat.

But only one.

When it impacts the pattern, its energy surges down every line and curve, like an unfurling fern. As this force spreads outwards, it tears the clouds away, revealing the brilliantly blue sky above Walpurgisnacht's storm. Gone in an instant. From horizon to horizon, it's a beautiful day.

Madoka's sigil remains, steadily aglow on its own sustaining power, like an open circuit in the sky. The largest and most central of its circles -- though it is not a truly concentric shape, in the same way that the universe lacks total symmetry -- is gathering power like a jet engine just before takeoff.

And then pink rain begins to fall.

But each of these multiplied bolts -- pure energy or solid light or whatever they are, each still has the distinct whizzing sound of an arrow, which played in combination creates a symphony of wind -- isn't shooting inward, towards Walpurgisnacht. They're shooting... outwards.



There's a still-oozing psychic wound in the minds of everyone who, like Madoka herself, was flayed with the terrible secret history of humanity and the Incubators. Together they were dragged backwards through time, forced to bear witness to the demise of countless girls and their countless Soul Gems, which attracted misfortune and despair, and became the countless Grief Seeds of countless Witches.

But time is a funny thing, and memory more ephemeral still.

The first image can be seen as though from the surface of a bubble, floating in the ocean of the mind.

A girl -- Tibetan, the colorful flags of her village suggest -- collapses onto the grass, body bloodied from many terrible battles. Spirit bludgeoned by those, and other things, too.

It could be today, but it probably isn't; her magical raiment dissolves into ordinary clothing that would be extraordinary today in most modern societies. Maybe she's very rural. Or maybe this was years ago.

It doesn't matter. What's happening now is extraordinarily, vividly present. We're inside the bubble, now. We're there.

Her soul gem returns to its casing, held limply in her outstretched palm. It is blackened. The only green shimmer within it has the eerie strangeness of incipient witchlight.

It makes a soft cracking sound, like something precious that you stepped on by accident.

The girl stares at it. At what all her hope and labor has wrought. Terror drives tears from her eyes, and despair a whimper from her lips.

And then a bolt of pink light falls from the sky like a comet.

Right above the ground and the girl collapsed on it, it compresses into a point of light, then expands into a magical girl -- into Madoka, glowing with the light of her own heart.

Her smile is gentle. She is mother, sister, daughter, friend.

She is not Sirene, but she knows a little bit about how to go about this because Nori-chan showed her how.

And Steven, too, there on the park bench.

And with that same, soothing care, she takes the girl's hand in both of hers, and despair flows out of the Soul Gem like choking ash, like a cloud of parasites, like a river of pollution. It leaves behind the girl's original soul gem, beautifully intact, the perfect green of a baby leaf.

A moment later, even that is gone. It isn't violent; it does not crack, burst, shatter or explode. It just... becomes light, becomes what it always truly was, unconstrained by the prison the Incubators wrought from its essence. The girl's soul, freed, soars upwards.

And the girl, free of her Soul Gem in her final moments, is able to think beyond the blackened cloud of grief that had poisoned her, able to remember who she really is, and what she wished for, and why.

And she smiles, at peace with her choice... and simply fades away, disappearing, vanishing from the unblinking eye of a universe that clamored to judge her for what she dared to become.

Now there's no one there to condemn.

She's gone somewhere... else.

She's safe now.


There are countless pink arrows, as countless as there are, were, and will be Puella Magi, all pouring through the blue blue sky.

Another one lands, again becoming Madoka, beneath a lone tree on a lonely savannah, beside an even lonelier girl, weeping as she feels herself begin to change into her own anathema. Madoka holds her from behind, and together they reveal the beautiful amber hue of her soul beneath the blackness of her cracking gem. Together they release it.

Release her.

Her whimper becomes a tiny, incredulous giggle of relief, and then she, too, fades.

It's the world of the future, the skyscrapers of some strange city resembling the towers of an ancient castle, rendered in impossible modernity. A stuffed bear-themed magical cries alone on an empty rooftop. She needs a hug so badly, but can't even bear the touch of her own false skin. Her bewildered blink nudges a tear off the edge of her cheek, as she feels warm arms settle around her shoulders.

It's the ocean of the past, and a magical girl viking is fallen on the beach, her weapons sundered and her spirit broken too. Soon the tide will come, but she's staying. She looks up in surprise to see an unfamiliar face wearing a familiar expression: the same one she herself wore in the mirror, the first day that she made her wish.

It's mountains, somewhere, somewhen, and a magical girl whose gown and Gem are all over heart-shaped is collapsed against the rocks, contemplating throwing herself into the burbling volcano on the other side of the ridge. But she's too exhausted, too miserable, too spent to move. Her eyes, accustomed to the reddish darkness of night, squint as a star falls to her side and enfolds their hands together.

It's the shining spires of a blatantly alien planet -- its three Moons are a giveaway that this isn't any future of Earth -- and a diamond-themed magical girl is curled into a fetal ball in a dark alley. There's a line of light just inches away, where she might be seen, and saved... but even then, never understood. She listens to the cracking of her Soul Gem and wonders who she's going to curse first. But then, instead of having to go to the light... the light comes to her instead.

Madoka saves them all.

"I won't let your prayers end in despair."

A little hijabi curls herself around her once-golden Soul Gem, painting her palm with her own tears, as tanks roll through her beloved village, rendering it rubble and flame.

"You won't curse anyone!"

A little girl with short brown hair clutches her blue Soul Gem to her chest, where it nestles in her sweater right next to the six-pointed yellow Star Of David she's required to have sewn on. The train she's on rumbles towards the unknown.

"You won't torment anyone!"


The Incubator's projected memories remain, not so much papered over by, as existing in parallel to, this new, remembered vision. That direct juxtaposition carries with it some important revelations beyond the way that everyone's ending is being changed.

It's about perspective.

Recall for a moment what it was like, being dragged through history through the eyes of the Incubator. Two-dimensional layers stacked atop one another to form images. They were beautiful, but simple; more the stylized ideal of people than people.

And there was something missing.

Something crucial.

The Incubator immortalized none of their feelings at all.

But this new, second vision is different. They aren't stories anymore. Whether from past, future, or present, they are three-dimensional -- humanity, for good and for ill, allowed to be remembered as what they were.

So very, very human.


"I'll take all the misfortune!"

KIMONO passed down to me from my sister
SANDALWOOD, my favorite, it shall all burn tonight
SHRINE that I prayed to for salvation
RITES of my people, they will survive me
GIRL who wished only for peace in her time

Himiko looks at her own reflection, newly revealed in her fiery Soul Gem, which had been too black to shine; it is her last glimpse of herself before the flames consume the roof of her shrine.

DESERT kingdom that I love
SUNLIGHT shining on my father's funeral procession
SHADOW of his reign upon mine
PYRAMIDS, proof of the great works we can achieve
GIRL who wished to rule wisely for her people

Cleopatra walks forward, head held high, blue light leaking from the Soul Gem clutched in her palm, to face the end of her kingdom.

HILLS of my childhood, I will not see them again
ARMOR they use to brand me a heretic
CATHEDRAL, seat of the God I love
BANNER that I prefer forty times more than any sword
GIRL who wished to defeat the invaders

Jeanne d'Arc, tied to the stake, feels the warmth of her green Soul Gem twinkling inside her prayerful hands.

"So please, believe in yourselves to the very end!"


One arrow falls very nearby, and only a few minutes back in time.

Rika Kumori stares up at Walpurgisnacht, witch among witches.

"Th-there's no way I can fight that," she whimpers, huddling in the courtyard of her empty school. She hid from the evacuation, because Kyuubey told her to. Because Kyuubey told her her duty, now that her wish had been fulfilled.

Her wish.

Tears merge at the corner of her eye and flow down her nose.


She sniffs at the same moment that the first crack forms in her Soul Gem.

"I didn't-- I should have-- All I ever really wanted was to see onee-chan again..."

Suddenly, that wonderful pink light.

A hand in hers, helping her up.

"Let's go meet her together," says Madoka, warmly.


Walpurgisnacht is laughing, has always been laughing, throughout, even as uncountable arrows whiz past her on their way to their true destinations. But now that laughter, which had never failed to contain a note of derangement, is beginning to sound indistinguishable from hysterical crying.

Not a single arrow strikes her, but she's falling apart all the same.

She's collapsing rather than sinking now, lost to gravity's control instead of under her own power, as bits of her dress turn into light and vanish, one at a time. Her jewel-studded sleeves crack away into motes of white. The entirety of her maiden's form -- gown, face, and all, becomes nothing -- even her mandala winks out -- leaving only the gears and their shaft, her true core.

She's still sobbing, lips or no lips, mouth or no mouth.

Madoka is hovering inside the column of her own light again, as she did when she wished, hands over her heart. Everything she's said in the vision, she was really saying to Walpurgisnacht, here and now, and she continues. Her eyes are open, and she looks upon the Witch as the long-lost sister that she truly is.

"Shh, it's okay. It's okay, now. You don't have to hate anyone anymore."

She spreads her palms wide, welcomingly.

"You don't have to curse anyone anymore. I will stop you before it comes to that!"

Dozens and dozens of sparkling magical girl silhouettes, the cosmic witch-girl-fragments who Walpurgisnacht ingested, then wielded as weapons, now burst into being around Madoka --

-- and turn to each other in pairs, gently taking one another's hands --

-- and dance, together, as they fade away --

The whole world shakes again, then disappears, as white light issues from Walpurgisnacht's dissolving form, from Madoka herself, and from everywhere in between...

<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

For once, Passion finds her words before Lera--simple as they are. She turns for a moment to the red-haired girl beside her, smiles once, inclines her head. "It's... It's really going to be all right," she says softly, and her eyes, as she turns, catch on Homura Akemi, too. "...Is this why?" she wonders. "Is this why she was always so...?"

Maybe--just for an instant--maybe Setsuna Higashi of Labyrinth finds Homura Akemi a little less incomprehensible, a little less strange, a little less alien, in the moments as she begins to look to Madoka again, still rising. It's easier now to look at her, and when she pauses, when she waves--

Passion nods once, quickly, fiercely. "Mm!" she answers back, and watches still. She looks to the boy; she sees sheer magic, of a kind so brilliant and beautiful. And--up? Up, goes the bolt of light, and Passion's red eyes follow it curiously... until hit hits. It spreads. The sky--

She lets out a breath of relief as she seesEarth's sky again, and as the rains fall--

...In Passion, too, this wound was awful, was horrific--the despair of countless girls, from a girl who knows misery as clearly as she knows her own self, was too much in that instant. But this... Each one; each comes, and presses, and there is an answer. For each, Madoka; a smile. Each reminds her of a hand offered to her, back then; of many, but also... of the one she's holding, here. Setsuna's fingers lace more tightly.


Those words. The very things she knows some worried of. The very thing she hoped to stop, by entering this awful conflict leading up to now. And here--

Here, a girl from another world is filled with wonder, with an understanding of moments and figures and feelings from everywhere beyond.

"...The moons," she murmurs, as she sees one, tilting her head--and then--


She watches; the laughing has... changed. The light is changing. Everything is shifting--


They dance, together, and it is so bright.

"It's working!"

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Kasagami watches as Madoka shoots an arrow into the sky, that brilliant bolt of light catching her gaze and holding it until the comet-like shot winks out of her vision. Her hands clutch hard. She feels a little breathless as the newly minted magical changes the very sky. And then the rain of pink arrows falls. Not to Walpurgisnacht, but to elsewhere!

Another place, and a hole in the Duelist's head. The ache, the pure poison of the Incubator's passionless words and the memories shoved inside of her. But this time, interposed with a brilliant girl in pink.

Saving them from their own fears, terrors, losses, failures, and most of all despair. Again and again and again. Rewriting the horrible wrongs of the system that Kyuubey made, stopping the anguish before it reaches it's awful conclusion.

When next Kasagami can think and focus again, she has to rub at her cheeks to get rid of the streaming tears as she watches Madoka Kaname reach for Walpurgisnacht, and every other Puella Magi, not with violence but with love and care.

She really is, and always has been, Madoka. Kasagami curses herself for a fool in not having seen the beauty in that. But now it's plain as day, a flower finally fully blossomed into a magical girl of true glory in the kindest of ways.

The Duelist hugs herself, sheathed sword to her chest, thinking of all those she loves.

"Keep going Madoka-chan! You'll really do this!" Her words are full of joy, touched in her heart.

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Forward and onward, higher and brighter. In a way, Madoka is why they're all here, and they're all why she's here.

Mai struggles to rise, failing again, and can only just barely answer that little wave.

It's Madoka's first day as a magical girl - her first moment stepping forward to fight, instead of having to watch the rest of them. Mai can remember the panic, the confusion, the difficulty of learning what she was doing as she was doing it - and that memory clashes with the careful ease Madoka displays. Maybe she's just making it look easy - maybe she's learned from watching her friends fight for her sake all this time.

Mai watches with a smile as the arrow flies forward - gasps as it seems to miss - turns her head to track the arrows that are flying every possible way except toward the enemy before them-

-and she sees just how absurd Madoka's wish truly was.

Just what tragedies she sought to prevent.

Just what hope she meant to bestow.

The Incubator's taunts are turned to a beautiful memorial, a way to truly honour the fall of those who fought. Despair to hope, again and everywhere.

Here and now, visions of those countless victories in her mind, Mai lets tears fall as they will as light spreads across space and time. "All of them...everyone pulled into a life of despair, you're really..."

It's a beautiful mercy, but Mai's tears are for the fact that it was ever needed at all.

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

Madoka had wished to destroy all Witches: across time, across space, across history, across realities. But the Wind Knight didn't expect to see that wish enacted in such a vivid manner.

Arrows of pink light rain from the heavens, not raining down upon Walpurgisnacht but raining in every direction. And no sooner has the Magic Knight of Wind been surprised by this, than she realizes *why* the attack isn't focused on the Stage-Setting Witch. Rather than simply willing the Witches across all reality, all *realities*, to be destroyed, Madoka is doing it herself ...

Except that still isn't quite what happens. Not the way Fuu anticipated.

To take a wish-turned-curse, hope-turned-despair, and transform them once more into a blessing, into hope. To destroy Witches by ensuring, not merely with her own hands but with her *heart*, that they never 'hatch' from any Puella Magi ...

Over and over, throughout history, even on worlds that clearly aren't Earth, Fuu sees Madoka reach out. It's more than merely the destruction of Witches; it's a renunciation of the origin of curses, above and beyond defusing the curses themselves, and allowing those Puella Magi who'd reached their limits to pass on peacefully.

And Walpurgisnacht is being, not so much destroyed, but diminished. This, too, makes sense when Fuu thinks about it: as an amalgamation of Witches, as a convergence of those unanswered curses, Walpurgisnacht drew its unfathomable power from every Witch it had tied into itself. Remove those separate Witches, and of *course* the collective is weakened. It may be the only thing remotely 'natural' about the Witch of Witches, that it should fall in such a manner.

And yet for all the logic that runs through Fuu's head as she sees Puella Magi freed, Witches thwarted without ever forming, and the reduction of the most impossibly destructive of Witches ... it's not really logic that her mind lingers on, but wonder.

She's witnessed miracles before. She knows she's witnessing one now. And for all that it makes sense, the awe that fills Fuu's heart simply nods quietly at the rational part of her mind, and continues marvelling at the power of Madoka's wish made manifest.

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

The images flash through Lera's mind. She knows what they are; she knows what they mean. It's the image of the alien world, with three moons, that prompts her to gasp in shock -- that sudden recognition, the knowledge that it's Midchilda. Even Midchilda didn't escape the reach of the Incubators.


She stares up into the sky. She sees the blast of pink light from Madoka's bow -- and the slow dissolution of Walpurgisnacht is a relief to her. She lets out a long, pent-up breath that she didn't know she was holding.

"Madoka..." She trails off. Her eyes turn to Ren, in the distance; then, to Setsuna; then, finally, back to Madoka Kaname as the world begins to dissolve into light. "...she really did it, y'know?"

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

La Sirene sees.

Something is being drawn out of that soul gem. Madoka is doing something - drawing away that corruption. From that girl in the high mountains.

The bear.

The axe-maid.

The diamond.

The veil.

The star.

More. The dream of ancient days. The dream of (luxor? no, Egypt--). The dream of France.

The dream of meeting an older sister.

La Sirene raises her left hand and she makes a gesture she often has but she does not turn it outwards. Her index and smallest fingers raise and press against her upper eyelids for a moment, the dark-shaded lids closing as she can feel, smell, the little prickles of tears.

"She did it - Mami... Sayaka," Nori Ankou murmurs to herself through la Sirene's lips. "I would not have believed it for a moment. And yet, here it is. We..."

She trails off. Quietly, smiling for a moment, she weeps, and her tears seem to catch the light as it blooms into the world.

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

'Ooooh! What happens if you hit the very center! Do people shoot fireworks and cheer?'

'-- I wish.'

As that arrow fires out Rei's mind can't help but recall Steven watching Fuu and her at archery practice, and she marvels, now, that sometimes there really are fireworks. Sparks of light and magic which soar up -- which soar out.

Not one more girl, she'd sworn to the Incubator, who had come in the wake of the Silver Millennium's fall to terrorise so many throughout time. Not one more girl, and here Madoka is, and here Madoka is, and here Madoka is, a thousand layered salvations as not one girl is lost. It did not understand their feelings at all. Madoka understands that their feelings are everything.

"Madoka-chan!" She's found that protection charm her Grandpa pushed into her hands in them again, now; she clutches it in prayer as she looks to the sky, all her thoughts on one girl. Keep her safe, keep her strong, keep her bright. "They're free, Madoka-chan! They're really free-!!"

They are the ones who walk away, but it is Madoka who chooses to burn at the centre of their signal-fire, calling them out of the darkness. This is who Madoka is, and it is beautiful -- in the manner of something so large it can scarcely be seen. One girl, ten girls, fifty girls, a hundred girls, and she does not waver, and a dozen could pass in an eyeblink, look back and there's another being saved. There's Walpurgisnacht being saved.

Madoka is saving them all, one by one, as individual as their tears, so they don't have to cry any more.

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Standing there in the ruins of Linden Baum Lancelot watches as Madoka rises. Watches as she ascends with her newfound power and watches as she takes a stance. Carefully drawing the bow to release that arrow. It was an arrow not meant to harm, but to destroy. Specifically, to destroy sadness.

Lancelot is no stranger to memories in his head that, in his opinion, do not belong to him. So he hangs his head as the visiosn the Incubator had placed there, unwilling and in malice, simply change. They have context, they have emotion, they become as real to him as the memories he has of Camelot. Of Arthur.

Of Guinevere.

He sobs once more, and has to wipe a way a tear stuck in his eyelid. He looks once more to Mai and moves to stand next to her. He doesn't say anything as he looks up at Madoka, but he makes his presence known incase she needs anything.

He smiles though. Genuinly and warmly as the memories of despair are taken away and replaced with memories of Madoka's embrace. In everyone of those visions, Madoka is simply .... Madoka.

Walpurgisnacht begins to come undone as Madoka saves those that up the Witch of Witches. As the figures that once attacked him begin to hold hands and dance around her, he lifts a hand to touch the cut on his cheek caused by one of them. He can't even begin to feel the anger he once held toward them. He just simply smiles. "Vous avez ce Madoka. Je vous remercie. Pour tout."

  • Translated to "Japanese:" You got this Madoka. Thank you. For everything.
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

Look at her. Look at what she has become.

She is positively radiant in this moment. Sure of her decision. Sure of the decisions yet to come. Wide-eyed and full of hope for their last chance, little Steven can only watch this unfold. Walpurgis looms baleful upon them, and there is little chance to do much else.

She summons her weapon in such a darling little way that is SO her. And it turns out to be a bow! Oh look at it, it has gems and flowers on it! Even being so fearful and afraid of his own demise, he cant help but giggle a little as his heart skips a beat.

Wait, where is she aiming? Up?

A snapshot shows it was intended. They they just kinda go... everywhere. Was it a misfire? "Did ... she...?"

But then memories begin to, well. It is impossible to tell if alter or re-orient is proper for this. Or perhaps this is how they always were? Whether this is true or not, they are a wonder to behold once again.

With each change, Steven's eyes grow more full of stars. And her works are laid bare and manifest, as Walpurgis becomes unmade at the seams. Like a patchwork quilt whose swatches of fabric were returned to whence they came they unravel at the magical seams.

"She... did it!"

The boy attempts to raise an arm weakly in a cheer, but has to retract as something erupts into pain past a certain height. And jsut as Walpurgis fades fully into light, more shining aura shines upon them all, and light washes over everything.

"You did it..." Is uttered as his own color and sight fades from view.

<Pose Tracker> Ren Aizawa [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

As the images of girls and places touched by the cruel hand of the Incubators flashes through her mind, Ren reflects. So many innocent lives ruined. It's enough to make anyone cry.

But Ren chooses not to. Because Madoka -- radiant, strong Madoka -- is here. She shoots her bow off and clears the field of Walpurgisnacht. Just like that.

"Madoka..." Ren says, feeling her heart swell with pride and joy and love for what the pink-haired girl has done. It's bigger than... than... everything.

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Her bow... Homura remembers her bow. Like a star in the black, blooming warmth and light.

However lonely Homura has been since the first time she saw Madoka fit arrow to bow, she has never felt alone. Not like she was before.

Those soul-hued runes etched overhead -- those, Homura Akemi has never seen before, and the wonder which still inflates her lungs, which staves off the burgeoning black in a soul shaped like a diamond, the wonder grows until ashen cheeks warm with it. Heartfire shines in her eyes, and her face -- normally so inscrutably cold -- is an open mess of emotion.

When Madoka looses her arrow at the dome of the sky it would be so natural for the eyes to follow that streak of brilliance upward. Not so, Homura's. They stay with Madoka, where they always long to be.

Her peripheral beholds sweeping blue, catches an exploding veil of pink arrows like the falling sparkles of a grand fireworks display...

And Homura Akemi, who never suffered Incubator-inflicted visions of misery and horror with the rest, stays in the rubble with her wondering gaze on the girl she loves. Her psychic wounds... have other sources.

She stays where she is, and dares to hope. Will this... end it, somehow? Will Madoka's incomprehensibly powerful wish, whose edges Homura does not begin to grasp, prevail? Her hope is such a fresh and vulnerable thing amid the jagged shards of fear which fill her.

And instead of shooting Walpurgisnacht, Madoka embraces her.

A bittersweet kinship twists Homura's throat shut, then, and she gives a few shuddering sobs where she lies.

"Madoka," she whispers, after, as the world shakes and the light takes all.

<Pose Tracker> Vita Yagami [None] has posed.

Vita watches the arrow fly. Relations begin to fire in her mind. This is not an attack on the scale of a magical girl, she thinks. This is something other, something grand and glorious. She thinks of it on the scale of the Masters, though she wonders, has any Master of the book wielded such might? To destroy your enemy by taking aim at God?

But that's not what's happening either, she realizes, as the arrows scatter in a thousand, thousand ways. "What is she..."

It crashes down on her. The things, the critical truths the Incubator had so cunningly hidden in its monologues, falling down on her like a rain of pink arrows, scattered across all creation.

She thunks her head down to the dirt, eyes closing and seeing the light anyway. "So this is your hope," she says, softly, to herself, as it all washes away.

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

white white white

light light light

...eventually everyone awakens on an unrecognizable white surface. Then, gradually, the rest of reality reasserts itself. Space -- true space, the majestic star-studded void -- twinkles all around.

And ahead... the Earth is rising, three-quarters-full.

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* The Moon +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
The surface of the Moon is a grey and barren place, but it is far from 
featureless. Pale, reflective highlands contrast with the darker, deeper 
lunar /maria/, or seas, which are vast dry plains of stone. Craters mar its 
surface from every side; the Moon is dead on the surface, unable to hide its 
wounds with the flourishing green of plants, and dead within, without the 
Earth's living geology to heal its wounds over time. Its tiny mass can 
sustain only a ghost of an atmosphere, none of it oxygen, and too thin to 
communicate sound. Without an atmosphere, its temperature rises and falls 
within moments of sunrise and sunset, from an oven-like heat during the day 
to an equally burning cold at night. 

It was not always this way. There are signs here and there, outcroppings 
that look too geometric, stones that seem shaped by mortal hands. The ruins 
of a great and ancient kingdom called the Silver Millenium lie mostly buried 
underneath the windless dust, its secrets lost, its glory not even a memory 
to the people of Earth below. Yet below, the oceans still answer its pull, 
and its face outshines the stars. Perhaps there is power left in this 
desolate stone. 

There is the distinct sense that, right now, this place and everyone on it has little to do with the presence, absence, passage or cessation of the concept of time.

Or life.

Or death.

Intellectually, it must be cold, airless, and low-gravity, but that seems strangely irrelevant right now.

As for the Moon itself... this is not a piece of it that was ever settled by the Court of Serenity. There's only one remnant of that era upon the pitted white plain, and it walks up alongside the group on dainty little pawsies.

First up comes the squeaky-but-bland exposition.

Some things really never change.

<< According to Madoka's new laws, space is being reorganized. >>

The Incubator cranes its head around at the group. Curiosity settles into enlightenment, its favored state.

<< I see... you're all here because your connection went beyond even time itself. >>

It weaves its way between feet and around legs with an easy grace that has nothing at all to do with being a cat. At last, at the front of the group, it sits back on its haunches and stares up, above the horizon.

<< Come, shall we look, together, and watch the ending of the being called Madoka Kaname? >>

Its invitation is amiable and almost fatherly. Come on, kids, let's watch the meteor shower tonight.

But it isn't their father -- and it isn't a meteor shower.

<SoundTracker> Fine On The Outside -- Priscilla Ahn https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbK3Uwf-cOw
                 I never had that many friends growing up                  
                            So I learned to be                             
                                 Ok with                                   
                    Just me, just me, just me, just me                     
                     And I'll be fine on the outside                       

It's the opposite of a shooting star. It trails darkness in its wake instead of light. Terrible, terrible darkness. Darkness that isn't just an 'isn't' -- darkness that /is/.

Darkness like that which geysered forth from the North Pole, once. Only not like Metallia, after all. Whatever darkness she embodied, it was malice and destruction and /intent/. A directed will, but... a knowable one. Not human, but... not truly alien, either. She wanted things, like freedom and revenge.

This... well, a fetus doesn't want anything yet. But the roiling chaos billowing like a wake behind the thing dragging it along doesn't feel human at all.

Its unknowability is its own recognizable phenomenon, of course.

Just not at this... scale.

                    I like to eat in school by myself                      
                            So I'll just stay                              
              Right here, right here, right here, right here               
                     And I'll be fine on the outside                       

As for the physical object at its heart, rocketing forward with impossible acceleration, it is itself planet-sized, really, impossibly massive but sufficiently distant as to disguise that a little.

Until it soars straight over their heads, filling the sky -- well, this isn't really a sky. Filling space itself.

<< That's the Soul Gem her wish created, >> observes the Incubator.

It -- she? -- glows with all the colors of the rainbow, pink most of all, but... all the others, too. New leaf and amber and gold and aquamarine and violet and fiery orange and royal blue and hills green and everything else imaginable...

...all in witchlight, now. The only thing that can be made out within blackness of that magnitude. It does not shine at all. It only... pulses. Stirring, on the edge of its true awakening.

            So I just sit in my room after hours with the moon             
                      And think of who knows my name                       
                         Would you cry if I died                           
                       Would you remember my face?                         

<< Does the amount of despair she has to shoulder as payment measure up to the hope she creates? The amount of hope equal to creating a new universe was reached, but that also means despair equal to ending a universe, of course. >>

The darkness is like hands holding the Gem, and like wings propelling it through space. Where did it all come from?

Some of it, the Incubator said explicitly; it's just the backlash of Madoka's wish, the natural order of things. Opposite poles of a magnet attracting.

But there's more to it, isn't there?

                 So I left home, I packed up and I moved                   
                                 Far away                                  
                           From my past one day                            
                  And I laugh, I laugh, I laugh, I laugh                   
                     And I sound fine on the outside                       

All that despair, from all those Soul Gems... ...where did it go?

The surface of Madoka's Gem begins to burst, shattering, blackening, as it approaches the distant, beautiful blue Earth.

And what was it like to /be/ her, exactly? Did she ever take any breaks, or is that a meaningless question, did she experience all of it as a single moment? Did she ever get to see anyone again outside of the context of delivering their mercy?

              Sometimes I feel lost, sometimes I'm confused                
                             Sometimes I find                              
                          That I am not alright                            
                    And I cry, and I cry, and I cry...                     

When it ruptures completely, the Witch that explodes out of it is solar in scope, gathering the entirety of the Earth in its arms. Its eye is a planet, its mouth is the Moon.

And it doesn't have to be lonely anymore.

It's coming to meet... everyone.

It explodes a second time, permeating everything with the essence of itself... saturating all of space with total despair... and although it's very far away, the sounds of everyone on Earth being driven to suicidal madness -- the horrible laughter, the horrible crying much like Walpurgisnacht's own -- fill the air.

Then the next planet, and the next...

            So I just sit in my room after hours with the moon             
                      And think of who knows my name                       
                         Would you cry if I died                           
                       Would you remember my face?                         
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Passion, too, looks to Ren, to Lera, to Madoka--she bites her lip. There is so much here. So much, as even Homura is with them, now. ...In the end they're together after all. Except--

Except, the brilliance is so much.... and then Cure Passion opens her eyes, starting to push herself up from where she thinks she'd slipped to the ground. The white ground? It seems to register for her... at the same time that the distance seems to register--no, not distance. The concept of distance requires time, in its way, doesn't it? ...Does it?

Passion does not worry about breathing. She blinks, though, as she sees the girl beside her, and then sees... Kyubey. of course, the Incubator. Which means--

...It, too, would have a kind of connection, wouldn't it?

"You're guessing," Passion says, her voice immediately tight with suspicion as she sees this creature again. The invitation... It is an awful thing, not so much chilling as festering, and in that instant Passion wishes she could wipe away the very sound of its voice in her mind like she might erase a stain of dirt.

Nevertheless, red eyes rise, to see this... incredible thing approaching. It is so large, so great, so present, even with this separation. This incredible mass, approaching quickly--moving over them. The Incubator explains--

Passion scowls, before she looks up to so many colors--she recalls some of these colors... and then understands--the witchlight. There is no shine, here. There is pulse. And the question--

"You don't know!" Passion calls out, angry still at the Incubator, an anger that can coexist with softness and hope. And yet... Does it? No... No there is more. Passion watched, she saw in the bubbles and beyond, she saw so many. And then--yes, then, she wonders. Madoka went far, far away, after all, but Passion didn't entirely notice, because she got tow atch, because it all happened at once. How long? How long has it been, before--


Passion's eyes widen at the sheer scale of the Witch that comes, the Witch that was a gentle, kind, hopeful girl. ...That... is...? It, too, must meet everyone. For hope, despair. For wishes, curses. And the sounds--the awful sounds, the feeling she could swear, drip drip of misery--

"NO!" Passion calls, hand over her heart as she leans forward, staring to the planet. "You--you've come so far! You've worked so hard!"

Is this the price, then? A world, against countless souls, freed from torment? Or...

Passion's eyes widen, as she sheer scope of what must be happening finally settles in for her. Not one world, but... "No--You--you wouldn't," she says to the Incubator first, staring. "It--it can't--"

...But that warmth, that feeling. Could it all have been setup for something worse?

"...Don't give up," she whispers, staring towards the great mass of the Witch before them, beggaring scale itself with her power. "Madoka-chan..."

She leans Lera's way, puts an arm towards her, "I won't believe it ends like this! I won't!" But she can't entirely bear to stay far, either.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Kassie's mind doesn't cast to the logic of being here. She doesn't engage with it, too busy looking to the Incubator, the group of fellow mahou, and of course the Earth they're so far apart from.

The Duelist scowls, but looks anyway. Her curiousity is too keen, morbid though it might be amidst the heat of hope still in her heart.

Her jaw drops as she sees the chaos rolling towards the beloved planet, and right over their heads. Her gaze turns up, and stares as she takes on it's enormity as well as it's many many colors pulsing with that witchlight. A shiver runs through her body.

"That...That isn't something a girl like Madoka would end up as!" Denies the Duelist, despite having seen the monster that was Sayaka. The grandure of Walpurgisnacht.

Doesn't it make sense that such a massive Wish would make such a massive Witch? Her head feels it makes sense, but her heart aches to think Madoka would end up like that!

It feels so wrong. Just like every other aspect of Kyuubey's system, corrupting even this.

And when the Witch explodes, causing madness across Earth and so many other planets with wicked laughter? Kasagami's jaw tightens, trying to not sob in despair this time.

"You should never forget about yourself, Madoka-chan!" She whispers. Then, she rounds on Kyuubey.

"This doesn't help anyone! This is complete and utter insanity!" What good would such a Witch do for Kyuubey, watching all of this. Still, her gaze finds the disaster unfolding. She can't look away again. Nodding to Passion as she encourages Madoka to not give up, she clenches her fists.

Kasagami prays that it, indeed, won't end like this. Her hands shake. Will any Wish truly spiral so completely out of control?

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

The Moon is not unknown to the girl who is Sailor Mars, but this part is unfamiliar; some unsettled region, forgotten by the court. Just like how Rei lives in Japan, and has never been to the Akita prefecture, though certainly she has heard of the dog.

But, you know, you hear about the desolate and lifeless moon, but it's a different thing to be standing on it. A little liminal, like walking into the bathroom with the lights turned off. Don't look in the mirror.

Don't look in the mirror, because there's a monster caught in the reflection. And as soon as Rei thinks of the child's tale she can't quite shake it, looking up at the horizon as Kyubey talks. A reflection of every teardrop, taken into herself, and who looks to the reaper's heart as she meets them at the end? A dozen saved in an eyeblink, Rei thinks, and she never, ever stopped.

Oh, Madoka, Rei clasps that charm to her heart, we never stop, do we?

"Madoka-chan," she murmurs, sadness softening her eyes. "We wouldn't have ignored you. Why wouldn't you come to us before this happened..?" Maybe with some girls, Rei thinks, she could blame it on the brash way she acts, but she always thought Madoka knew she was on her side.

She shakes her head, but she does not look away. A moment's silence, and then she does turn - to glare at that fluffy thing as it talks. "No," she says, firmer now, and surety builds to anger. "If Madoka-chan made a new universe, she'd never let something as sad as this happen inside it. Do you think you can shake our belief just with this?! How low can you get, Incubator?!"

She turns back to the despair which consumes the universe, one hand clenched to a fist, the other still holding that charm. "MADOKA-CHAN! I know you won't let this happen! Not after you worked so hard...!!" And maybe she did all her work in an eyeblink, or maybe she was working for aeons, but work is work and hard work pays off. The drive and desire of a girl to save everything is no concept Rei can discard.

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

Somewhere along the line, the Wind Knight's body seems to have stopped hurting. She didn't get a healing spell off, yet, but the pain seems to have just moved out of her awareness while she was marvelling at Madoka's miracle.

She probably should have known better than to expect it would be so straightforward. Not where the Incubator was concerned.

The Wind Knight scrambles back to her feet as the unnervingly cute bundle of horror addresses the group - and as it speaks so casually of the 'ending of Madoka Kaname,' her hatred redoubles in intensity, almost as if *she* were a mob and the Incubator were a player's avatar in some game. She doesn't have the focus to bring a weapon to bear, but as the saying goes, if looks could kill ...

Fortunately or otherwise, she has other things to look at, as what was left of her wonder once more gives way to slowly dawning horror. A Soul Gem ... a Grief Seed ... a newborn Witch - and truly enough to the Incubator's claims that night, truly enough to the Wind Knight's own worry when Madoka arrived at the battlefield, this Witch is as far beyond Walpurgisnacht as Walpurgisnacht was beyond any other ordinary Witch.

If magical girls embody hope as a physical force, despair needs no such representative - it too is a physical force, as inscrutable and omnipresent as gravity. Yet it isn't so much despair that drags the green-clad Magic Knight down to her knees once more: merely the enervation of horrified shock, draining the strength from her legs. Rather than conjuring a weapon, the Wind Knight draws her hands up, clasping them against her breastplate, over her heart, her knuckles white as she clenches her grip around nothing.

"Madoka-san ... your wish ... this can't be the cost of it ..." she whispers, her voice nearly hollow. "Everything we fought for, everything *you* fought for ... just to end like this ... ?"

Gravity and despair both pull downwards - but both can be resisted. A person can stand up and walk in spite of gravity; a person can keep living, working, playing, loving in spite of despair dogging her heels. And with the right tools - knowledge and equipment, or willpower and magic - it's possible to not only resist those pulls, but escape further from them and *fly*.

But for all the willpower of a Magic Knight, it seems like hope has been yanked out of Fuu's reach, just when she'd dared to embrace it once more in her heart ...

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

"What did I tell you before!?" Lera snaps at the Incubator.

She finds the ground of the Moon -- the white stone ruins here -- familiar. She remembers them well, from the time she came here... and from dreams, when she was seeing through Jadeite's eyes. Seeing the ruins, now, is disquieting.

The Witch, though, that forms... that is horrifying. Her body tenses up; her arm comes around Cure Passion, loosely and reflexively at first. Then, she hugs her tight with more awareness, as she stares up at the Earth and swallows -- and knows, well enough, what that wave of despair is.

She knows how far it can reach.

The hand that isn't on Setsuna's shoulder balls, tightly, into a fist. "It--it can't," she says. "It won't. Madoka... Madoka must have some plan, she must have known--"

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

In an eyeblink, the ruins of Tokyo are gone. Stars and dust and the Earth in the sky, the moon stands before them.

Mai's first reaction is to look down at her hands, pat herself down to make sure she hasn't become Nephrite or Endymion or something again.

The second is to marvel at the fact that she's upright again - her injuries either having faded or simply being less noticeable in the moon's low gravity. Exhaustion still weighs heavily on her frame, either of body or of soul.

The third is to whirl on Kyubey, as the little Incubator weaves around them, dispassionately informing and talking and lying, and part of her aches to just swat the little thing into orbit - but the choice of tense jars, shakes her into looking around at those who are here with her.

Here for Madoka.

Mai's jaw tightens as the Incubator speaks of endings, as the light turns to darkness, as the hope turns to despair - and the Incubator keeps narrating as reality end, and that little thread wrapped around Mai's temper snaps.

"Then you've lost! If everything works like you say it does, then we've lost a friend - " Her voice hitches, but her tears aren't enough to dampen her anger. "- but you've lost the universe."

Burn it all to ashes, she'd said, and that nihilistic fury feels all too good right now. "Emotions don't work that way - the world can't work that way. You can despair without having hope, you can have hopes that don't turn to despair, it's not some stupid balance sheet!" She takes a step forward, sidereal to the being that Madoka is becoming, spitting defiance at the conductor of a miserable orchestra.

"That's the point of hope, that it's greater than all the despair of the world. Because if it isn't..." She swallows, thinking of hospital visits and endless pursuit of a happy life. "If you're right that she's going to become something equal to all the grief she's stopped...then Madoka-chan is going to wipe out the universe. Wipe out everything you care about, and good riddance."

Mai tears her eyes away from the Incubator, letting it chew on her words and doing her best to ignore what it might say in response. She looks up at the looming darkness, the growing laughter, the embodiment of all history's grief, and opens her mouth -

- but her voice is oh so timid when it comes out, a quiet little plea. "...prove the rat wrong. Prove that the world can be better, please..."

<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Homura Akemi's eyes open.

She does not remember closing them. What ha-

Memory snaps her fully awake. She rises on legs which will hold her, despite a certain emotional wobbliness, to stand on two feet. She looks around, eyes round and mouth open, and it's a tossup whether the lunar surface or the intact mahou surrounding her cause more shock.

All the ice-cold layers are shattered, gone, and the girl beneath is finally showing her face.

She looks vulnerable, and overwhelmed, and unsure of herself. She looks, at long last, as scared as she has always felt.

Once upon a timeline, some of the people present might have recognized the way her folded hand goes to her chest. It's a gesture which came so naturally to a girl in braids and glasses: to press upon the cage of her rabbity heart, as if a touch might soothe the fragile thing before it seized of fright. On the Homura Akemi they know now, it cannot be anything but utterly unfamiliar.

"Where..." she begins, but does not finish. If she had, it would have been not, 'Where are we?' but 'Where is Madoka?'

But the Incubator says Madoka's name, and so Homura stands in her bewilderment and listens for her answer.

The... ending...?

Homura chokes. The ending of Madoka?

She looks up.

And now, now as her long black hair whips around her head and shoulders and its expressive dance obscures her face, as she stands motionless amid a fury of hair and ribbons tossing in a cosmic wind -- for a moment she may look more like the Homura Akemi others know.

She is lost in darkness, but not the darkness within her own soul... the unimaginable darkness in Madoka's.

A small sound escapes Homura, a small agony.

She remembers a girl who ended Walpurgisnacht, and a Witch who sprung forth to consume the Earth after.

'Be it sooner or later, there is only one ending for you Puella Magi.'

"No..." A denial so weak it dies on her lips. "That's..."

The face of the universe-ending Witch, emergent and ascendant and terrible, shines darkness down on them all and Homura quivers in horror. She is not fearful for herself. Her heart does not hear the laughing cries of billions embracing death, has no space for planets and universes and entire humanities dying.

Homura's heart has room for one person because she has shaped it around Madoka.

And Madoka, Madoka is becoming a Witch, Madoka whose heart has room for everyone in the world, and the scale of it is terrible because it is so much more terrible for Madoka, because to know she'd become this would cause her so much pain, and there's absolutely nothing Homura can do to stop it.

All she can do... is cry.

The wash of helplessness, of worthlessness, just makes her sob all the harder, until her palms run with tears. It was all for nothing, after all. All for worse than nothing.

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

The light fades, and the pain is gone. Sight returns, and the sky is as starry as Steven's own eyes once he figures out where he is. "The moooooooooon...!" he says, hands on his cheeks. So cool! He would gush about it but something else demands his attention, strangely enough.

Kyubey. Steven's brows furrow. "W... What?" the boy asks, expecting no straight answer that could be understood. Ending? Is he kidding or something? No... he doesn't do kidding.

Something dark orbits the nearby Earth, or is it tracking it instead? If there could be a black spot visible on a void, this would be it, for it is much more than just color. And while it reflects flecks of other colors in the way a funeral pyre emits sparks, the emotional black it sports is so much worse.

"Please don't say that," he says toward Kyubey, his lip quivering.

The worst is yet to come. Steven has thought he felt heartbreak before.

No... No.

If there could be a physical rperesentation of heartbreak, watching that massive Soul Gem shatter is probably it. He loses his footing near immediately to, well. There is Doom. There is Despair. There is Sadness and Anger and Hate.

Then there is this feeling he is feeling now. "That's not FAIR!" he shouts, and his tiny voice cant reach nearly as far as he wants it to. He wan'ts the entire universe to hear him. "She did everything right to save everyone! You can't tell me this is the end result!"

"I refuse to believe it!" At this point he is just crying and wishing he could do something, anything right now. But what could be done for something so titanic in scale?

What could be done for Madoka?

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

The Moon. Lancelot had never been here before, and it took him a moment to take it all in. Including the Earth. They say if you can see the Earth form sapce that you feel a kinship with evey person on the planet, and as Lancelot stares at the shining blue jewel he can't help but feel that in his heart.

All of these are ruined when the damn Rat Speaks.

Lancelot looks down and dances to the left so the Incubator doesn't touch him. For all he knows the damn thing has Space Rabies or something and it would jsut his luck that he'd survived the Witch to End all Witches only to die from Space Rabies.

But the Incubator brings his attention to a jewel and all of those thoughts flee his mind as he takes in what the Incubator is saying. "There's a balance." Lancelot says softly. However THOSE thoughts are taken away when everyone starts to deny Kyubey his moment in the sun. or his moment in a Pink Gem.

He doesn't add to it. he watches the gem. Watches it shatter and then watches the Witch that was Madoka Kaname be born. As the despair begins to waver over the solar system, he drops to his knees. "M... Mika...." He says softly. His mother. His father. The Rabbit. He shakes his head and says, "Fight it Madoka. Fight it and win like only you can. Don't let this .... THING use you! Be you! Be Madoka, and not this!"

He stares at Earth as he feels that wave Never this. He thinks. Madoka, so full of life and happiness and hope for everyone. She can't be this...

He makes fists and stares into the eternal void that is whatever it is that Madoka had turned into and waited. Watching.

<Pose Tracker> Vita Yagami [None] has posed.

When the light fades out, they are...elsewhere. Incubator had said this would make of Madoka a god. The visions Vita saw told her that that was more true than she'd have thought.

At first, she thinks little of the Incubator's presence here, in this place even Vita should have trouble living. It is the arbiter of this whole thing, after all. Vendettas don't seem its thing. Obsessions, maybe...

She grunts at the little demon's assertion. Being bonded across all time and reality to this guy, even by degrees, is not a bond she would've chosen. But you don't get to pick your every bond. She knows that now. She steps up, watching the stars and the faraway Earth. Watch the ending? She takes it for poetry. Yes, what she did would mean that Madoka as she was must end. A sorrowful thing, but there is hope in i----

Her eyes shrink to pinpoints at the cosmic scale of the thing. All that wonderful rainbow, recast in sorrow. Her hands shake, not from weakness but rattling, bursting emotions. Her traitor heart betrays her again and she finds herself tensed to the point of paralysis. Vita needs something to DO and all she can DO in the face of THIS is FAIL. Again!

She grinds her teeth until she feels they ought to be powder, as the Witch reveals its true grandeur, and then...

It feels more like her soul turns to dust, instead. She plops backward, and does not look at the end.

"Balances," she mutters. "So this is how it all balances itself. I really thought....you made it all look so easy, so...."

She hangs her head, and wonders if it's her imagination that she hears Hayate among the shrieking.

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Uranus [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> King and Lionheart - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N30sBDpUR1Q

The thumb and a finger of a white glove rub back and forth slowly, grinding out a slowly falling powder of grey. The lunar horizon forms a silver arch in blue eyes. For a moment, it seems to Uranus that a breeze is rippling through the skirts of her gossamer yellow dress, trickling silver memory across the plains. Like a black light revealing invisible colonnades and ponds, it sweeps across the stone husk of what was. A pang grasps Uranus's heart, her thumb and finger flicking apart in a little puff of a dust that forces her eyes closed for a moment.

In that moment, there is no black light, no ghost of memory. She's there, in her thoughts. And beneath the earthlight, the Princess stands with her back to Uranus, the train of her silver dress draped down the stairs, her back delicately narrow, but so straight, like a blade sheathed in her skirts.

Uranus's eyes open, and every memory is gone. But that girl is still here. Her dress down to defeated ribbons, her back not so straight. It is not the gentle ligt of the Earth that shines down on her, but something malignant, the tortured apotheosis of her friend.

It's still her.

We told them, she thinks. Me and you, Michiru. We told them so many times. But we didn't really want them to believe, did we? We wanted to leave them something we don't have anymore.

And now that something is a wildfire across the heavens. What price innocence?

"That's all right," she says softly, to the howl of silent despair that is poised to consume her. "You do what you have to do."

There's a peace to losing when all your arrows are gone. Maybe the celestial archer that was Madoka feels that too. Now it's just about how. About where, and with who.

Maybe that darkness will fall, to rip open Uranus's chest and force back in all the ghosts she just exhaled. Maybe she will weep black tears and yammer with the comedy of it all, how funny it is to be destroyed so totally. But the manner of her death was never going to be pleasant, in her line of work. She'll fall at Neptune's side, and she will not outlive her Princess.

Is the despair here already? Because it's a little funny. All this time, she lived in fear of watching the kingdom swallowed by darkness again. But somehow, seeing how Madoka managed to redeem so many girls' sacrifices, to make the world so much better before it ends...

"It's not as bad the second time," Uranus tells Neptune. Her lips quirk in a smile.

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

NO! You--you've come so far!
You should never forget about yourself, Madoka-chan!
MADOKA-CHAN! I know you won't let this happen! Not after you worked so hard...!!
Everything we fought for, everything *you* fought for...just to end like this...?
It--it can't, it won't. Madoka...
Prove that the world can be better, please...
That's not FAIR!
Don't let this... THING use you!
I really thought... you made it all look so easy, so...
It's not as bad the second time.

For a terrible moment, nothing happens. Nothing but nothing, which is what the universe has become; NOT an entropically cold void, perhaps, but certainly a lifeless one. Unless of course you're a species that is not affected by Witch enchantment, emotion or no emotion.

The Incubator simply sits and watches, not deigning to reply to those who address it directly, as the encroaching darkness reflects in its unblinking irises. Reality is reality. All of this is just... irrational, and irrelevant.


No... that's...

<SoundTracker> Little Light Of Love - Eric Serra https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4QfyMUeOQ8

There are lots of ways to comfort someone in distress.

And lots of ways to deny something that's bad.

Sometimes, a sound can be both at the same time.

It doesn't even have to be a real word.

"Nnn," objects Madoka, as she's said so many times before. More of a squeak than a syllable, normally, but just now there's a depth to the murmur that makes it sound more like a thousand words instead.

"Shh, it's okay," her voice continues from nowhere, as calmly and soothingly as she was when she addressed Walpurgisnacht.

From nowhere...

...or from everywhere?

The miasma isn't becoming less dense...

...so whatever is forming on its far side must be radiant, indeed.

A feminine hand reaches out to tenderly scritch the moustachioed fluffball of a familiar; it squirms happily beneath the touch, nudging into it like a cat, then... becomes light, butterflies of light. Maybe it was always a chrysalis. That doesn't seem like an unfair characterization of familiars in general. They are, by nature, a transitional state.

"My wish is to erase every witch."

Madoka is standing at the center of the cosmos. Well -- the black silhouette of Madoka is standing there, backlit as she is by the light of all creation. She is astride the heart of everything, a place of rainbows made of colors the human eye has never seen before and may not see again for a long, long, long time. Her fingertips span galaxies.

And then, when she transforms, she becomes brighter still than all that surrounds her, her features thus able to reassert into three dimensions. Her hair pinkens and lengthens impossibly; the beribboned twintails remain but only as a small part of a much greater whole, a beautiful, swirling mane. It is the only thing about her that's still pink, however; her raiment has turned white, pure white, the kind of white that makes up every color.

And her eyes... are a shimmering gold...

Her body lengthened also, not just in the 'magnitude of scope' sense but in the proportional one. She seems older, though still somewhat childlike; ageless but never an adult. In an in-between state. But then -- Puella Magi, too, are inherently chrysalises.

She's smiling her gentle, serene smile, as she watches the butterflies flutter away. As she sees her friends calling to her. Her friends. She never forgot them, after all. Her love for them -- their love for her -- it carried them all the way here...

Aaa. She loves them, even now, especially now.

She loves them so so much.

It's the smile of a girl at the end of her long journey.

It's the smile of a girl who has been many places and knows many things.

It's the smile of a girl who knows a secret.

"If that's fulfilled..."

Translucent, iridescent wings unfurl behind her, and entire galaxy clusters glimmer within the depths of her gown, which is more mature to match who she's become, but still gloriously, fiercely feminine.

She thrusts her arms upwards, and a sphere of pink light gathers there, then becomes her bow, with a curvature that spans the universe itself.

"...then I have no reason to feel despair!"

She isn't smiling anymore.

But her familiar expression -- fierce in all ways -- is as triumphant as it is sad.

Drawing the string back, that complex pattern again whirls its whorls into being, this time using all of reality as its tracing paper. It's so magnificently huge that it's impossible to see even this gargantuan version of Madoka behind the middle of it, other than a blinding flash that surely occurred when she released the arrow.

Then -- naturally -- it explodes with pink light.

It's like matter and antimatter where the infinite barrage of Madoka's power meets the infinite expanse of her newborn witch. Again the reaction seems to consume... everything, creating the inescapable event horizon of a black hole, except -- it's a supermassive white hole, instead.

This time, it isn't a star that's born.

This time, it's the whole universe...

...every universe...

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