2019-09-12 - Beat The Heat

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Beat The Heat

Second half of a scene whose first part's log has been lost. It's an extremely hot summer day and Juuban Public Schools has opened its pool for Free Swim. But it's also Rabbit Hunting season for Esmeraude...


Rei Hino, Usagi Tsukino, Hotaru Tomoe, Nori Ankou, Chibi-Usa Tsukino, Fuu Hououji, Esmeraude-sama, Chitose Shiratori, Haruka Tenoh, Homura Akemi


Juuban Public School - Pool

OOC - IC Date:

9/12/2019 - 06-30-2015

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

Rei Hino is not on her way to the pool.

Well, not on purpose. Sure, her instructions are taking her in that direction, but she's going to meet up with Ami and the others for one of their vaunted study groups. These are very important, on account of Rei's grades...

... well, they're not as good as Ami's, let's put it that way.

She has a lot of things to juggle, okay!

But thankfully, today Usagi seems to have shaken off the sloth Rei always ascribes to her, and has called her on an urgent missive inviting her out. And it must have been for study group, because that's what they always do.

Sure, Rei would have come anyway, because Usagi wasn't exactly clear on what she was inviting her into and there's even odds she's got herself in trouble somehow and needs Rei to rush in and fix it. But she's reasonably sure it's study group.

Until, you know.

She gets to the pool.

And remembers this wing of Juuban isn't where studying happens.

"Usagi, you little --"


"U-SA-GI!" Roars a terrible vengeful spirit, as Rei Hino looms large over whatever nonsense Usagi has gotten herself into. Dressed in Ohtori orange, she has /clearly not prepared for POOL LIVIN'. "Why didn't you tell me we were going to the pool?!"

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Mysteriously, Usagi Tsukino is returning a kick board to a small child at the time.

"Thanks for that."

The second grade girl puts a hand on the board before asking, "...should a middle schooler really be bullying an elementary school kid?"

"I'm not bullying Chibi-Usa! And for your information I'm a high schooler."

"... ... What's wrong with you - lying to a kid about your age?"

Usagi Tsukino turns a little red behind the ears and says, "LISTEN HERE Y-"


Usagi straightens up suddenly, as the child she'd been about to shout at just merrily kicks away, Usagi treads water on the spot, cringing, before she laughs, "Rei-chan you made it... and I did tell you."

When the predictable demand for how that happened comes, Usagi puts up a hand.

"Well you see I called Mako-chan, and Minako-chan, and Ami-chan to suggest we take a break for today - and I just knew that if I told them they'd tell you."

She beams at Rei from within the expanse of the pool. "And then you'd be here! So it worked out!"

What she's not saying is that she knew there was a strong chance of Rei saying 'no', but she just didn't give her that opportunity.

Doing her modified version of the doggy paddle to the side of the pool, Usagi puts her elbows up on the side of it, smiling up at Rei.

"And besides Chibi-Usa-chan is here too... I'm watching her! It's like I'm her personal lifeguard. So hurry up and get in! We might as well have a good time!"

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

A few fun facts about this open free swim:

  • It's really, really hot today, the latest in a string of such days, which is why Juuban Public School decided to be kind to the neighborhood and open its pool for splashing around.
  • Haruna Sakurada-sensei lost a game of jankenpon to Higure Akiyama-sensei, and that's why she's the lifeguard and Akiyama has gone home to work on her crafting projects in peace. She wields her whistle with ferocity.
  • This isn't a lounging pool. The concrete is hot and there is no furniture, other than the lifeguard hi-chair.

Despite that, there is at least one other spectator: a somewhat sweaty-looking Hotaru Tomoe, miraculously and almost casually reappeared after having been missing for months, who was apparently brought to the pool by Chibi-Usa. She didn't bring a swimsuit, or something, and is in her usual 'show as little skin as possible while wearing all black' getup. Despite staying out of the water, she looks like she's having a good time, laughing and clapping shyly at the antics of the others. (There are no shoes allowed in the swim area; but they've layered a couple of towels, so she has somewhere to sit or stand without getting contact burns.)

She looks over at Rei Hino, as she arrives, and her happiness stutters like a record scratch, her sweet little smile revealing a brittle fragility. Swallowing, she looks nervously between Rei and Usagi, then past them, to Chibi-Usa, as though seeking guidance as to the proper way to react to this situation.

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Which is the exact moment that Usagi notices with those wide blue eyes, "Hotaru-chan! You're here! Hey Hotaru-chan! Hey! Wow I heard that you were back but - it's so good to see you again!" Usagi begins using the water to hop up and down, waving an arm rapidly at the air at Hotaru. She doesn't say she was worried sick, even though she was.

For the moment she just looks so relieved that the other girl is alright, not even thinking of the moment where a scary hand came out of her mouth right before she vanished.

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

"Well that's all very convenient," Rei huffs, folding her arms. Set up a chain of whispers, and just wait for it to fail-!!

But Usagi insists she's Chibi-Usa's personal lifeguard, and her hands fall from their locked position, one pressing in against her chest instead. "Oh! Chibi-Usa-chan's here?" From spice to sugar, she goes from cross to joyful.

"Except --"

Her hand claps up to her forehead. "Augh, with what swimsuit, Usagi..?"

Rather than answer Rei's bemoaning of her fate, Usagi calls attention to someone else without a swimsuit, and Rei turns, blinking in delighted surprise to see the girl in black. "Hotaru-chan!" She exclaims, only to look a little closer and see the uncertainty in her smile.

Her hand scratches at the side of her head, smiling awkwardly for a moment as she realises. "Ah... oh! Hotaru-chan... may I sit with you?"

COIN FLIP: Chitose Shiratori flips a coin. It lands on heads!
<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Nori Ankou is beating the heat by

  • Wearing her black-and-white striped slightly retro AkaMira swimsuit, which has a little skirt frill but is otherwise just a striped one piece
  • floating in the water to the point where her nose and lips are just barely clearing the water, the rest of her stretched out a little and fully submerged
  • Letting her hair spread out a little, like some kind of... NORI, which is actually not doing anything to radiate heat but may be shading her legs from the cruel rays of Earth's yellow sun

She looks up and towards the conjunction of Rei Hino, but seems inclined to float -- though she does raise a hand to waggle her fingers, briefly breaching the water.

<Pose Tracker> Chibi-Usa Tsukino [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.


From whence did Chibi-Usa appear, after adventures with the board? Didn't Usagi defeat her for good, or is this terrible villain too powerful to be stopped?

Nope she's in the water, near the edge of the pool, looking up brightly at her good and smart older friend, and also at Usagi Tsukino.

"I think that's a nice idea! It's not like you have to bring a swimsuit to enjoy the pool, Usagi, sometimes you just want to be out and around it all!"

Hmph. The very idea!!

She beams, and pushes off, since she is totally going to swim more.

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

With Usagi and Chibi-Usa temporarily distracted from chasing each other around the pool, Fuu decides that it's safe enough to start actually swimming some more, instead of floating about more or less aimlessly. She can't quite make Rei out visually, but the voice is distinctive enough, and Fuu raises an arm in passing to wave to the shrine maiden/archer from Ohtori.

It really is a nice day for a peaceful swim, she reflects.

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

Hotaru flushes, and probably not just from heatstroke, when she's suddenly the center of attention, sufficiently so that people are shouting her name and waving. She waves back, very bashfully, turning her head to one side and letting her heavy dark hair swing forward like a privacy veil.

"Um," she replies to Rei, very softly, "Hino-san... of course you may..."

She shifts her position on her knees to only occupy HALF the towels, then looks up at the older girl and offers her a tiny but heartfelt smile.

Esmeraude-sama walks over from Juuban Public School.

<Pose Tracker> Esmeraude-sama [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.


Kids of all ages flock to Juuban Public School's pool, which is having a Free Swim this afternoon. Fun ensues.



A vibrantly green-haired woman looks down her nose at the friendly chaos in the pool, from above the upper rim of her fabulous sunglasses, and from across the brilliant red plumes of her partially unfurled fan.

She is sunbathing in a one-piece that borders on a public indecency violation; black, with daring darts and cut-outs, it is inexpressibly adult, proudly occupying the intersection of sophisticated and tacky. She has a lounge chair and a tropical drink. It is unclear how she got them there, or how long she's been there, in comfortable repose.

But she's here now, and the reason she's laughing with such an /edge/ to her voice is that the Usagi/Chibi-Usa splash war has managed to slap wholesome, chlorinated water right across her face. That isn't condensation dripping off the glass in her hand.

"Rrrrrrrrrrabbit!" she shouts with a fantastically rolled arr, pointing with the fan, which snaps shut in the same sweeping motion, becoming a bloody extension of her finger.

Oh, and the Black Moon sigil -- everyone knows the one, an obsidian, inverted Moon Kingdom crescent, Rubeus with the giant abduction-y UFO had it -- has just shined into being on her forehead. Well, more like whatever the opposite of 'shine' is.

That can't be good.

She isn't holding a drink anymore. Instead her hand cradles a ... is that a statuette of HERSELF? ... it's about champagne glass height, and cut from a single gigantic emerald.

"Prepare to die! Die, for my love!" she trills, as she tosses the million dollar woman into the pool like a javelin (an apt comparison, as instead of feet, it ends in a deadly looking spike).

When it hits the water -- there's an ENORMOUS blast of steam. About an entire pool's worth, in fact.


The pool will be bone dry in moments, the boiled-alive, decessicated corpse of the Rabbit, and her pitiful friends, waiting for her at the bottom, like the last scoop of delights out of a hot pot. (Not an apt analogy; Esmeraude has never had hot pot, and does not know what it is.)

Esmeraude is lost from sight.

On the other hand, so is everyone else.

EVERYONE OUT OF THE POOL CHALLENGE: Remember to put on your oxygen mask before helping another; transform, then find the civilian of your choice and description in the steam, and get them out of the pool in time!

COMBAT: Esmeraude-sama transforms into Droid SAUNA!
COIN FLIP: Chitose Shiratori flips a coin. It lands on tails!
<Pose Tracker> Chitose Shiratori [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Chitose Shiratori is still here, though she's kept to herself. She's tired, and extremely hot, and now she's in the water. Which admittedly is the best place for her to be, because even in her mind she likes to remind herself that it is hot elsewhere here in Juuban.

Which may explain why she's standing around in more shallow waters and doesn't actually swim. It's better than being out in the heat. But eventually she casts a look around, mostly to keep the swarm of kids from bumping into her while they're swimming, and spots what looks to be... Hotaru Tomoe? Huh.

This actually makes Chitose drop just a little, as she remembers faint memories. Well, that small girl doesn't -look- like all the terrible rumors going around Infinity...

Granted, her thoughts are suddenly cut short by a grating laugh and a sudden burst of steam, the warmth suddenly turning into blistering heat. With a yelp, she gets out of the pool as quick as she could.

Just one step out of the pool she turns on one foot and grabs her hairclip, using the steam to mask her transformation. Her barrier jacket forms on her. (Along with another set of glasses. White Omen provides.)

And as she usually does, Chitose takes flight. She stays low for a moment, scooping up a younger kid before depositing them safely as far away from the pool as possible.

COMBAT: Chitose Shiratori transforms into Barrier Jacket!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

So much for the peaceful swim; the sudden laughter from high above brings Fuu to an abrupt stop, and what little she can see of the figure far above, coupled with the laugh, reminds her briefly of somebody who has no business being alive. Or yelling about 'rabbits' ....

Oh. Not her. This is still decidedly not good, though.

Fuu hauls herself out of the pool in a hurry, wincing audibly as she goes from relatively-cool(-for-now) water to scorching concrete; a moment later, the statuette-dart flies, and *steam gushes everywhere*, fit to make the concrete seem nearly lukewarm. It might be terror that sends Fuu fleeing back into the locker room; it might be the intensifying heat ...

Or it might be the need to transform.

Either way, the Magic Knight of Wind comes rushing back out into the thick clouds of steam, dropping into the pool long enough to rescue a floundering fifth-grader, and leaping back out to the mildly safer pavement. "Head back inside where it's safe," she urges the young boy, then turns her attention to the developing situation at hand, trusting that her rescuee will indeed make his way to safety.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji transforms into Wind Knight!
<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

"What? Ohhhh rightttt." A beat. "W-Well that's no problem... I'm sure we could just... borrow a school suit in your size." Which causes Usagi to start waving and calling out, "Sakurada-sensei! Sakurada-sensei! Rei-chan needs a suit-!" However, then Chibi-Usa swims up by her and...

"I-I know that." However then she pokes her pointer fingers together, "I mean, I just thought Rei-chan would enjoy... getting in some time swimming." There is a smile on her expression though as Rei chooses to use her pool time to sit with Hotaru.

The rolling R of the Rabbit that's announced causes Usagi to slowly point at herself. Then a moment later in thought, point at Chibi-Usa... like she's confused as to which Rabbit, despite the Black Moon Clan always calling her rabbit.

Usagi at first tries to dunk herself underwater, bubbles coming up as she holds up a hand.

That is the moment there's a blast of steam and suddenly she bursts free of the surface with a shrill cry of, "HA-AH-H-OT!"

The girl's skin is beet red, like a lobster in the midst of being cooked up, and lost in the haze of steam she puts a hand up again-

"Moon Cosmic Power - Make Up!"

There's a silhouette of ribbons within the steam haze. A flash of ribbons. A hint of feathers.

Suddenly there is Sailor Moon, who is reaching to where Chibi-Usa's last position is, groping for her in the pool and-

Suddenly lifting her up over her head like someone playing 'up' with a small kid. It would be an impressive feat for her if she weren't transformed right now, holding her up overhead and out of the boiling water. Right now though. "This isn't fair! How did she even find you this time!?"

The girl hot foots it one way, then the other while holding Chibi-Usa high and-

"I can't even seeeeeeeee!" It's true, she's shut her eyes to avoid the stinging steam from burning them, which means she's lost sight of where the edge of the pool is. "How is anyone supposed to find their way out of this!?

That's the moment that Sailor Moon runs into the edge of the pool so hard that she bonks her face and head given her diminutive stature.

She's still holding Chibi-Usa overhead but she's going to need a few seconds to recover - seeing stars as she is, the Senshi just moans out this statement which reveals her dazed state as the world boils around her.

"... couldn't she have at least... the pool with Soba first?"

COMBAT: Usagi Tsukino transforms into Sailor Moon!
<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Over Rei goes! She sits herself down, and beside Hotaru, her voice isn't nearly as loud. "Please, don't mind us," she assures her, in a much more gentle tone. "Usagi and I... we can get very loud, but we really are close."

There is the briefest pause. "Just... don't tell her I said that, okay? Rei-chan's got a reputation to uphold!" After that upbeat declaration, Rei smiles to Hotaru, more sedately. "You know, Chibi-Usa-chan talks about you all the time. I'm glad to see you out here with everyone, Hotaru-chan."

She looks forward, at the splashing of the pool. "You know, I've always wanted to..."

Unfortunately, what she wanted to say will forever remain a mystery, because there's an 'R' rolling from vibrating tongue to back of the teeth, and a Black Moon sigil on the forehead of an ostentatious woman.

And then the world is steam.

Near Hotaru, for a flash, maybe the steam is a little brighter, a little warmer...

... but that's how steam works, right?

Through the steamclouds, there's a girl: white gloves, red skirt, a big purple bow about her chest. "I've got you." Sailor Mars scoops up that slight little girl and leaps to the fence surrounding the pool, by the exit. She makes sure to support her, as she lets her down -- makes sure she's close enough to that fence to use it for support.

She can hear the confused cries of rescued children, though. "They need help --" the realisation strikes Mars, and she sparks a flame into existence above her -- bright and merry and a beacon in the clouding steam. She scrambles back to the poolside, hoists up a child, and yells: "Follow me!"

Sailor Mars may not be able to see her foe, but she can lead the young ones to safety and away from the scalding pool.

But in the confusion, she's not carrying Hotaru any more...

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Nori's head turns as the ringing laugh of the wild ojou echoes over the water, leaving little o-ho-ho-ho ripples in her hair. Nori blinks once, and squints, as if wondering if she has had her brain burned out by the cruel rays of the sun.

And then the woman looms.

The swimsuit is neither duck nor goose to the subtle valences of her judgment, although she blinks once when she realizes how much of it is missing. Surely it wouldn't function, she thinks, even if it's visually striking. Then she thinks: Where did she get a drink?

Then she produces an accursed icon and Nori Ankou's eyes widen.

The steam comes.

It is an enormity. Water formed into the shape of a cloud that had been forced to ground level. Tormented into a dynamically improbable shape by fell magic. There is a chorus of screams --

The fog billows slightly away on the corner. A boy and a girl, first year of high school, are both sprawled out on the concrete perhaps three meters from the pool side. They pant in silence and terror for a moment.

He says to her, "Are... you okay,"

She says, "I'm fine," and then, "ugh... my leg..."

He says, "Hold on -"

La Sirene de Diamant says, "Can you carry her?"

She says, "He couldn't p-" / He says, "Yeah, absolutely."

There is silence for a half second.

"Both of you must leave," la Sirene says, "while it is still possible for you to do so. Here - up - there you are, over the shoulder - you can hop? Good... farewell. Don't weep for this memory."

The young couple leaves, along with others.

"You know," la Sirene says as she rises in the steam - or perhaps it is more of a fog, now - "Rarely have I seen someone express such rage, over getting water in their drink."

COMBAT: Nori Ankou transforms into La Sirene de Diamant!
<Pose Tracker> Haruka Tenoh [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

"I'm just at the library right now." Haruka tilts her cell phone outwards so Michiru can hear the evidence of her lie. Squeals, laughter, and most especially, splashes. Michiru loves the pool.

"No, really," she insists. "Had to catch up on some studying." Haruka sidesteps to let some kids run past, then enters the gate. "What am I studying? Well, it's really more of a 'who' than a what'..."

A combination of a light summer hoodie and tank top obfuscates Haruka's gender, but that won't last long if she decides to swim. Perhaps today's the day that her many fans will obtain clarity about Haruka, and confusion about their own souls.

Haruka pauses at the edge of the pool grounds, eyes growing sharp beneath her sunglasses as she sees Esmeraude. She knows Michiru can hear at least some of what the villainess is saying, and even if not, the laughter should tell her all she needs to know.

"To be honest," Haruka says, "this isn't my favorite subject." Her lip quirks. "Wish me luck."

Among the many disruptions, a fizzle of yellow light isn't easily noticed. Sailor Uranus skids up to the edge of the pool until one of her bootheels clicks against the slightly raised edge, and spearfishes the water hard with her palm. With a big sploosh, her white glove drives under the surface, and a moment later that surface bulges with brief tension, before vomiting up a pair of twintails, a red neckscarf, and some dangling legs. Chibi-Usa, who has never sunken to begin with, is too heavy to be held aloft at that angle by such noodley arms now that there's no water to help, so Uranus grabs her scruff too with her other arm, separating the two Moons. Holding them like wet kittens by the backs of their uniforms, Uranus glances to either side of her, checking the progress of civilian evacuation. The three of them are all facing the same direction, looking at Esmeraude.

"The pool really is a good place to pick up girls," Uranus observes. Her gloves are wet, but her tone is dry.

COMBAT: Haruka Tenoh transforms into Sailor Uranus!

<Pose Tracker> Chibi-Usa Tsukino [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

In theory, this is the perfect chance for everything to be nice again! Chibi-Usa recalls her mission, to swim around and have fun, and she is prepared. ...And, well, she doesn't want to keep all the extra attention on Hotaru when she wants to relax a little, after all, even if she's happy to see people liking her best friend. How...ever...

Chibi-Usa blinks. She feels a chill before she even turns, hearing 'rabbit' at rough the same time as she sloooowly turns towards Esmeraude, recognizing her for what she is immediately. "Aaa..."

Of course, that's her. She does not have time to appreciate the details, disjointed nerves taking in separate details; a statuette; a love; laughter.


And suddenly she's aloft, blinking as she feels the ribbons, feels rising--"It's--"

Someone might question how Sailor Moon could be inspiring in conditions like this, but nevertheless Chibi-Usa at least appreciates her in the moment, though--

Soba. Soba.

But by the time Chibi-Usa can actually say much of anything, abrubtly she's grabbed and lifted. "U-um!?"

She flails, lightly, and her eyes widen as she spots Sailor Uranus. "Ah--um--"


She dangles. The rabbit... is caught. But there is one unanswered question--


She can't see her friend. On the bright side, she also can't see Esmeraude! She can't see the terrifying woman at all, can't see her cruel eyes or what she's doing or...

"...aa..." Her gaze rests nervously on Sailor Uranus as she prepares to wriggle if necessary.

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

One minute, Hotaru is listening politely to Rei's explanation of how older girl friendships work. The next, there are monsters, there is steam, and there is:

"Sailor Mars," she breathes, awed. "Th-thank you..."

Set down near the fence, she grabs it as was implicitly suggested. Her fingers are so skinny and fine that it's like poking blades of grass between the chain-link; they cut into her painfully, but she doesn't cry out.

In fact, she's having trouble catching her breath.

"H-hnn," she moans, very quietly, less in response to Chibi-Usa and more for, well, dear life.

<Pose Tracker> Esmeraude-sama [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

The steam doesn't clear, exactly. Instead it... condenses. It congeals.

The first thing visible through the miasma is a pair of glowing red eyes. It isn't cherry red and it isn't even demon red, other than possibly in the definitional sense. What it is is like a filament in a convection oven. It's like the coals at the bottom of the grill. It is heat red, and perhaps, all things considered, that tracks.

One wisp at a time, the steam weaves itself more and more tightly around itself. Layers upon layers of... feathers? Yes. It's feathers, and in the end, the pool is empty, the bystanders have been saved and led out the side door by Sailor Mars, and in the middle of the newly revealed pit stands:

DROID SAUNA, a statuesque maiden who may or may not have any actual flesh (or crystal?) under those layers and layers of steamfeathers, which are both skin and attire, like if a humanoid avian also dressed up like a showgirl on the Las Vegas Strip.

The plumage in her hairpiece is particularly spectacular that way, and it gapes wide like a fan -- like Esmeraude's fan, really -- then... flaps.

A visible wave of heat follows the motion, slamming behind her; but, ah, she's twirling on a single clawed foot. Yeah, that's going in all directions. It leaves cracked tile in its wake.

That twirling had a purpose: "RABBIT," the youma rasps, on her (missing?) mistress' behalf. Bend and stretch and out she leaps, plunging straight towards the three girls at that end of the pool. Thrusting her arms in front of her on the downswing, she sends out another heat blast, one hot enough to instantly tan any skin that fails to get out of the way.

COMBAT: Esmeraude-sama has used Heat Wave on La Sirene de Diamant.
COMBAT: Esmeraude-sama has used Heat Wave on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Esmeraude-sama has used Heat Wave on Chitose Shiratori.
COMBAT: Esmeraude-sama has used Spray Tan on Chibi-Usa Tsukino.
COMBAT: Esmeraude-sama has used Spray Tan on Sailor Uranus.
COMBAT: Esmeraude-sama has used Spray Tan on Sailor Moon.
COMBAT: Sailor Uranus dodges 22 Fatigue damage from Esmeraude-sama's Spray Tan, taking 15 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Uranus is
Quipped!  Sailor Uranus's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant cleanly braces 34 Fatigue damage from Esmeraude-sama's Heat Wave, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  La Sirene
de Diamant's Block and Parry abilities activate!  Stagger applied to La Sirene de Diamant!
COMBAT: Chitose Shiratori partially dodges 8 Fatigue damage from Esmeraude-sama's Heat Wave, taking 31 Fatigue damage!  Chitose
Shiratori's Fade and Flash abilities activate!  Stagger applied to Chitose Shiratori!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji perfectly dodges 41 Fatigue damage from Esmeraude-sama's Heat Wave, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!
Fuu Hououji's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Sailor Uranus covers Sailor Moon for Esmeraude-sama's attack, Spray Tan, taking it upon herself instead!
COMBAT: Sailor Moon covers Chibi-Usa Tsukino for Esmeraude-sama's attack, Spray Tan, taking it upon herself instead!
COMBAT: Sailor Uranus perfectly dodges 37 Fatigue damage from Esmeraude-sama's Spray Tan, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical
Dodge!  Sailor Uranus's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Sailor Moon fails to dodge Esmeraude-sama's Spray Tan, taking 44 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Sailor Moon is Quipped!
COMBAT: Homura Akemi transforms into The First Apostle!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Uranus [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

Uranus frowns at this brand new Droid, her supernaturally powerful arms not trembling despite the fact that she's holding Sailor Moon up mostly with her lateral muscles. Rabbit, she says. Uranus looks down at the highly cautious Chibi-Usagi, her face difficult to read.

"Here," she says, shoving Chibi-Usa into Big-Usa's arms, basically combining her two burdens, then swallows both in her much longer arms, a matryoshka hug. She takes a weightless skip along the edge of the pool, evading the first searing arc of sauna-heat, but when she comes back down, it swipes the back of her leg and arm at the same time, and she bites her teeth down with a hiss. Shoving Sailor Moon roughly out of her arms and away from the effect rather than chance another jump on a leg she currently can't put weight on, Uranus rounds on the Droid.

"I can't say I like the look," she reproaches. Glancing down her leg and arm at the odd, square-edged block of tan that partly covers each, she grimaces. "Not that I'm one to talk." With a lunge, she rips the big metal-hafted parasol out of one of the poolside tables and chambers it above her shoulder, by her ear. With a measured rush of steps that culminates in a ballistic little hop, Uranus hurls the parasol like a javelin. The umbrella section snaps tightly shut from air pressure, rippling noisily as it soars.

COMBAT: Sailor Uranus has used Field, as in 'Track and' on Esmeraude-sama.
COMBAT: Esmeraude-sama braces 21 Fatigue damage from Sailor Uranus's Field, as in 'Track and', taking 9 Fatigue damage!
Esmeraude-sama's Block and Parry abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Dredg - Ode to the Sun https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nrIMhK_SRE


A dark head of hair just barely crests above the edge of Juuban's roof where it overlooks the pool. Up here there's no pool to escape to, no shade to escape in, and Homura Akemi is baking. She ignores a rather irritating, itch-inducing droplet of sweat as it trickles down the side of her nose, employing the still of a sniper. Or perhaps it is instead the serenity of a priestess at her devotions...

...no, she's definitely irritated, however much she'd like not to be. Homura finally wrinkles her nose to encourage the sweatdrop on its way and of course, it just itches more. That's about as much as she wants to move, though, with keen-eyed and observant sorts like Rei Hino and Fuu Hououji down there.

After all, it's not like Homura can just... disappear any more, and she's out of do-overs. It's all for keeps, all the time, now.

And it would be dead embarrassing to get caught creeping on Juuban's roof before she figures out how to casually approach like she hasn't been conspicuously absent from school ever since a certain Very Large Battle and subsequent bright and shining bridge reunion. This may or may not be the fifth such... ahem, surveillance expedition Homura has embarked upon. The moment just hasn't been right, yet.

She's not stalling.

Enter: Esmeraude of the improbable bathing suit and ruined drink! Steam erupts and suddenly Homura Akemi sees her moment. She draws a deep breath as she rises, eyes closed, hands at her side... feet like lead.

Madoka, she thinks.

Her legs work once more; she leaps.

-= NOW =-

She is the same Homura Akemi they remember, in her white coat and grey skirt and dusky violet trimmings, sable hair fluttering ever-expressively in her cool-faced wake.

She lands in a graceful crouch upon the steam-heated poolside in the wake of tanning blasts (the horror), then straightens, and it becomes clear that she is different, too... Her marvelous clockwork buckler is nowhere to be seen, and without her shield she also lacks those cold armaments it sheathed -- not to mention any other secrets its perfection of gears kept for its mistress.

Her new weapon, held upright and before her, rises an attenuated half meter over Homura's head. Its dark curves and recurves are so slender, so delicate, one might question its effectiveness in a fight; this would be a mistake. Its center span is framed by a pair of embedded violet diamonds. They guard the spot a newly minted archer's hand grasps.

Homura draws at the air with nothing held in her pale fingers, and a magical bowstring flares into vivid violet life; a violet-wrapped arrow appears where an arrow ought to be. To the youma, to the mahou, to existence at large and to someone precious who is absent yet may still be listening -- to all and sundry she declares herself, with conviction enough to color her reserved voice.

"I will fight to protect this world...!" A beat, after the spoken words, for the unspoken remainder of her vow: For her.

Then she looses the black-fletched arrow along with its soul-tinged payload of explosive magics, directly at Droid Sauna -- aiming to ruffle more than a few feathers, when it comes right down to it, but this time none belonging to any present mahou. Another seeming difference.

COMBAT: Homura Akemi has used Twilight Prayer on Esmeraude-sama.
COMBAT: Esmeraude-sama fails to dodge Homura Akemi's Twilight Prayer, taking 29 Fatigue damage!  Homura Akemi is Psyched!  
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Moon [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

"Hi." Sailor Moon squeaks as soon as she realizes she's no longer in the pool but being held aloft by a strong arm attached to her uniform. "You're um... really strong."

And so she's dangling, eyes faced forward, until she tries to turn her neck back. Completely oblivious to Chibi-Usa's fear of Uranus. "Um. Well. It's not that I mind being... you know... picked up... by you." A beat, and she continues as if she missed the dry wit attached to Uranus tone but somehow thinks that maybe her being picked up means she's also being picked up, "Is that what this is?"

However then Droid SAUNA unfurls her feathers. "A peacock?" Sailor Moon blinks until it unveils the glittering statuesque maiden.

As Uranus hands Chibi-Usa over, Sailor Moon's arms curl protectively over her, her chin on her head. Uranus intended for Moon to get out of the blast. Suddenly though the Youma's blast abruptly shifts And...

She takes a blast full on on the side, raked all over by it. The flush had just started fading from her skin, and now suddenly part of her is positively brown.

One can see Sailor Moon's skin split in an asymmetrical diagonal. More than one half of her tanned. She hasn't noticed it yet.

"She's okay. Mars has got her. Noone is going to touch her." Slowly her arms unfurl from around Chibi-Usa, gloved hands up to her shoulder, "You're okay too. I'm not going to let it near you either."

Slowly standing up fully, she looks at Uranus' spots of tan, "I-It's not too bad. I mean you make it look good. I mean - you could make anything look good but..."

Her eyes drift over herself, and she suddenly yelps in a way that feels nothing like pain and more like shock - which turns into indignation, "You're unforgivable! In the summer when skin care is especially important, only someone really petty and insecure would dare give a beautiful maiden a bad tan! Sailor-suited Pretty Soldier of Love and Justice: Sailor Moon! And in the Name of the Moon-" She points at the Droid dramatically, "-I'll punish you!"

However, her eyes slip upwards on a certain figure wielding a bow and arrows. The bow and arrows - she can't place it... the her that she is now cannot even hope to place it. Yet... somehow it feels familiar. "Homura...?" There's... a soft whisper, as she remembers the girl who was always so mean to her. Always pushing her away. All for the sake of some... one... that she travelled through time over and over for... now saying such a thing as 'Protect this world.'

It heartens her more than she can express in the moment, feeling more than a bit overwhelmed. It feels...

"It feels right somehow." Sailor Moon whispers, with a smile on her face and tears stinging her eyes.

COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used In The Name Of The Moon on Esmeraude-sama.
COMBAT: Esmeraude-sama perfectly dodges 0 Fatigue damage from Sailor Moon's In The Name Of The Moon, taking 0 Fatigue damage!
Critical Dodge!  Esmeraude-sama's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

That heat wave was three hundred and sixty degrees, right?

But Hotaru, distant and forgettable -- easy to miss, at the very edge of the area -- is as pale as ever. Maybe she was on the far side of the umbrella in that moment. She doesn't seem to have noticed the attack, if it was sent her direction at all. Her panic attack, or seizure attack, or whatever's going on with her, has intensified, but that's about it.


"Mmmm, I love hot food!" --Mistress 9


Hotaru's eyes flutter, and she sinks to her knees. Her fingers, still entangled in the chain-link fence, pull her arm upwards in opposition, like a black flag of surrender.

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


La Sirene de Diamant would find this creature beautiful if it were not simultaneously emitting deep infrared radiation - HEAT, in other words - and threatening this pool, which it has now demolished. It cracks stone, as well, and it addresses THE RABBIT, and la Sirene breathes in deeply.

It hurts! A little. The air is bone dry and lacks the sweet savor that many real saunas gain from fragrant wood or charcoal. She grits her teeth and shrinks back, feeling the heat wash over her body. And yet--

Some of it is the limning light of the abyssal visions from the Sea of Tears. Some is that her dress has always tended towards the industrial-strength protective side of the field, nearer to a barrier jacket than to a pure and gorgeous expression. It has shielded a vulnerable heart. Now it shields a vulnerable body.

And a moment later --

-- someone arrives.

La Sirene's lips, though chapped slightly now, part in a soft 'O' of surprise.

"You're a bit late if you'd hoped to cool off," she tells Homura then, her voice light, with a subtle quaver.

She purses her lips -- and sweeps a hand upwards. It is not the sign of Les Mysteres; perhaps she seeks to test something. (If it is compressed steam, la Sirene *actually* thinks, then if I just bust it open, won't it all burst out? Is that how it works?)

(Wait, la Sirene thinks even as the shivering cool light washes up and around her, twines round her forearm, and arcs forwards, striking the dry crack that SAUNA has put into the tile, pouring forwards almost but not quite like ink, and surging upwards to try and grasp round the creature's legs and waist: Why don't I ask somebody?)

"Magic Knight," la Sirene asks. "Is this creature under press-" Her voice then changes register into a stentorian shout, "GET AWAY FROM THEM!"

COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has used Polyploia on Esmeraude-sama.
<Pose Tracker> Chitose Shiratori [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Chitose, once having dropped off a poor kid, immediately banks a turn and attempts to get a better look on the condensing steam, and watches as it forms into... an odd woman? Chitose stops in the air, hovering for a few moments while she lines up a shot, only to get a massive wave of heat and steam washing over her. The force of the waves pushes her back enough that she has to land to regain some form of control. What comes out of the heat is a Chitose cooked a little, dripping steam and sweat, like she had just been in a giant slow-cooker. She steps backwards once, then twice, before she takes off again, takes aim, and...

Realizes her glasses are covered in water, now. Obviously her magic and heart did not quite need perfect eyesight, but the entire thing leaves her steamed, not just on the outside but also on the inside. White Omen fires anyway, just small laser bolts attempting to find their mark amongst the feathers of the droid.

"Come on!" She yells at the droid. "It's already really hot! Go away and come back in a few months, at least!"

COMBAT: Chitose Shiratori has used Light Bolt on Esmeraude-sama.
COMBAT: Esmeraude-sama braces 18 Fatigue damage from La Sirene de Diamant's Polyploia, taking 15 Fatigue damage!  Esmeraude-sama's
Block and Parry abilities activate!  Trap applied to Esmeraude-sama!
COMBAT: Esmeraude-sama neatly dodges 16 Fatigue damage from Chitose Shiratori's Light Bolt, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Esmeraude-
sama's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Chibi-Usa Tsukino [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

Glowing red eyes. Of course they're glowing red eyes. They had to be glowing red eyes, and... feathers? Feathers. Chibi-Usa shrieks at the coming attack and at her title being called out becaue that's awful, but Sailor Uranus has good hold over her, and... a very hard expression to read. "Ah?" she starts--


Protected and also shoved around roughly, Chibi-Usa spends the next couple of moments in a daze, and she does not share Sailor Moon's appreciation just at the moment for some reason.

...Well, not until she sees a girl with a pretty bow. Chibi-Usa's eyes widen, suddenly, at Homura Akemi, of all people. And Sailor Moon suddenly answers...

"...Okay," she says, reassured here. "Thanks..."

She scampers, then, once she's out of arms, scrambling on the ground towards a certain chain link fence, a girl doing poorly over there, because she's not planning to do any punishing. The tans are fine! It's fine!

No rabbit shere...!

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

The wave of heat is met, at least in one direction, by a swath of air that utterly refuses to be heated by it - a split-second application of wind magic, and one which lasts for about the same length of time it took to be enacted.

It lasts just long enough for the Magic Knight who conjured it to get both herself and a still-gawking fifth-grader out of harm's way - him ushered back into the comparative safety of the nearby locker room, herself vertically at a stark enough angle to get a brief aerial view of the fray. And of Homura, diving into the fray.

"I'm not quite sure what form of 'pressure' you might mean, La Sirene-san," she replies upon descending once more from her leap. "If you mean the magic or other force that gathered in the steam ..." She purses her lips, materializes her bow, and nocks an arrow. "I suppose there are ways to find out? But another steam explosion, if we successfully rupture such a compression field, could do quite a bit of damage."

Given the lack of hesitation in drawing back her bowstring, it's clear that the Magic Knight of Wind considers the droid's continued activity an equal or greater risk to a possible explosion ... but still, when her arrow flies, it's aimed at an upper side of Droid Sauna's head - so if any steam *does* vent, the odds favor it being vented vertically rather than horizontally.

It should also have the useful-if-risky side effect of pulling the droid's attention away from certain innocent girls, but that particular variable is a notorious part of pretty much every equation Tokyo's magical girls have ever had to solve on the battlefield.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Trick Arrow Shot on Esmeraude-sama.
COMBAT: Esmeraude-sama braces 10 Fatigue damage from Fuu Hououji's Trick Arrow Shot, taking 8 Fatigue damage!  Esmeraude-sama's
Block and Parry abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Esmeraude-sama [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

"OH HO HO HO HO!" rings out of... somewhere. Esmeraude's around, after all. It just isn't absolutely clear where. Maybe she's underneath that steamy shell, and it's armor? Maybe not. "I can see why not, it isn't a good look for either of you! Though putting a little color into your cheeks might not be the worst look I've ever seen, Sailor Moon... it's always nice to see you blackened."

Her voice twists nastily at the end.

The droid, meanwhile, shifts her weight into the incoming umbrella sent by Uranus' -- which was Esmeraude's. The speed of its thrust closed its underside, so no one can see what was there except as splinters, breaking against her feathery mass, being soaked and burned at once. It looked like... a face? Like a boy band poster or something.

Of course, the droid also has a face, and then a faceful of arrows, Homura's and Fuu's. It seems like maybe her anatomy isn't wildly important. Both attacks tore some feathers away, which hissed away into clouds of steam, but her face sort of recoagulates around the arrow-wound after it's exploded and gone, and she's as lovely as ever (which is fairly, ignoring the glowing eyes and beneath fabulous feathers; she's modeled after a beauty, after all).

In the same moment, La Sirene's polyploia secures itself around her legs, and Chitose's laser bolts shatter against her arms. There are no wings in evidence so far, but this does separate out a boa, which seethes and hisses tiny superheated droplets.

She grabs it by one end, whips it around her head a few times, then sends it towards La Sirene, trying to embrace her in reflection to the bindings at her waist. Once tightly around her, the boa compresses... threatening to cook her from the outside in.

Liking this concept, she pulls a few more out from herself and sends them flying towards the others, with similar effect.

After all that, there's a small puddle at the bottom of the pool...

"Focus, Droid Sauna!" complains Esmeraude from wherever her viewing box is. Dutifully, the youma turns towards the two girls by the chain link fence... and charges.

COMBAT: Esmeraude-sama has used Sous Vida Loca on La Sirene de Diamant.
COMBAT: Esmeraude-sama has used Sous Vida Loca on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Esmeraude-sama has used Sous Vida Loca on Chitose Shiratori.
COMBAT: Esmeraude-sama has used Sous Vida Loca on Sailor Moon.
COMBAT: Esmeraude-sama has used Sous Vida Loca on Homura Akemi.
COMBAT: Esmeraude-sama has used Sous Vida Loca on Sailor Uranus.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon perfectly counters 30 Fatigue damage from Esmeraude-sama's Sous Vida Loca, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical
Counter!  Sailor Moon's Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!
COMBAT: Sailor Moon's counterattack, Spiralling Moon Rod, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Esmeraude-sama!  
COMBAT: Sailor Uranus fails to brace Esmeraude-sama's Sous Vida Loca, taking 39 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Sailor Uranus is
Quipped!  Cripple applied to Sailor Uranus!
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant dodges 16 Fatigue damage from Esmeraude-sama's Sous Vida Loca, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  La Sirene
de Diamant is Quipped!  Cripple applied to La Sirene de Diamant!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji braces 26 Fatigue damage from Esmeraude-sama's Sous Vida Loca, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Fuu
Hououji is Quipped!  Fuu Hououji's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Chitose Shiratori dodges 12 Fatigue damage from Esmeraude-sama's Sous Vida Loca, taking 18 Fatigue damage!  Chitose
Shiratori is Quipped!  Chitose Shiratori's Fade and Flash abilities activate!  Cripple applied to Chitose Shiratori!
COMBAT: Homura Akemi counters 8 Fatigue damage from Esmeraude-sama's Sous Vida Loca, taking 23 Fatigue damage!  Homura Akemi is
Quipped!  Homura Akemi's Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!  Stun applied to Homura Akemi!
COMBAT: Homura Akemi's counterattack, Ghost Step, partially gets through, doing 10 Fatigue damage to Esmeraude-sama!  
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Uranus [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

"Oh, definitionally," Uranus replies to Sailor Moon. It's a nice long word, perhaps even uncharacteristically so for Uranus, but it gives her some syllables to play with and purr through. It's a word that takes a while and says a lot, and her voice is nice and deep.

"I'll make it more obvious next time, though," she says, her tone suddenly lighter. "Since you weren't sure."

Sailor Moon gets caught up, but her daughter (her daughter!) is safe for now. Uranus doesn't fret over tiny Sailor Moon's injury; she's a soldier too, and there is an enemy near.

And here's Akemi-san. Uranus is reflexively ready to wince at the sound of automatic gunfire, so to see this bow instead causes her an emotional double-take, from a reactive relief to a belated confusion. "Well, guess who," Uranus greets her old ally simply.

The umbrella seemed to reveal a secret about Esmeraude briefly, but Uranus didn't quite catch it, other than perhaps that the villainess is boy-crazy. In truth, she reflexively avoids being too observant about the individuality of a given foe, because if it came time to shed their blood, she would not want the extra burden on her conscience.

Uranus's forearms snap up to defend herself against her copy of the boa that swung at La Sirene, but Uranus has trusted too much in the strength of her arms. Perhaps that bit of flattery by Sailor Moon went to her head. She's wrapped in an instant, strength useless without leverage, and with the feather boa now more of a boa constrictor, wrapped thoroughly around her, Uranus bears down with her jaw muscle to avoid screaming. Dropping to a knee, she takes the full brunt of the attack, as though the heating element of a stove wrapped around her. Her senshi resilience preserves her from the worst of it, but steam is rising off in clouds from her body, sweat immediately pouring from her handsome brow as she shrugs hard this way and that, trying to loosen the tangle. She's of no immediate use in defending the helpless right now; she's one of them.

"Audacious little..." she swears. Ripping one arm free, she rises, letting the attack burn at her for the moment, and charges, preferring offense to first aid. Leading with a knee, she swings a hard fist through, and then uses it to attempt a grapple onto one of the less visibly hot sections of the youma and hold it steady for the others.

"Where's your mistress, little teapot?" Uranus growls gamely.

COMBAT: Sailor Uranus has used Don't Get In My Way on Esmeraude-sama.
COMBAT: Esmeraude-sama fails to dodge Sailor Uranus's Don't Get In My Way, taking 18 Fatigue damage!  Esmeraude-sama is Quipped!
Stagger and Tangle applied to Esmeraude-sama!
<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

A name comes, if softly, from Sailor Moon's lips, and the girl thus named turns to give her a near-expressionless sidelong look. Homura reaches up to run a few fingers through her own hair, and the gesture disturbs one final visible difference: a brilliant ribbon, the perfect bright red of roses and cartoon hearts, threads over and between glossy black locks in a large bow.

It is even more compellingly enigmatic than the bow and arrows she wields.

At the second thing Sailor Moon says her gaze slides away again -- but also downwards, as Homura firmly sublimates a swirl of emotion. After a moment she looks up again to la Sirene and tilts her head, and that gesture could not be more familiar coming from her.

"Better late than never." It's said so drily it just might wick some of this excess moisture right out of the air.

Feathers blown off, damage done -- Homura does not pump her fist or whoop or even nod, but there is still an air of satisfaction to her, something in the set of her mouth, perhaps. It doesn't hang around. A superheated feather boa is winging her way!

She successfully stifles her first reflex and does not reach for her shieldless arm. Suppressing her fear much like she suppressed more a more complex reaction earlier, Homura instead whirls to the left...! Alas, she has lost too many precious fractions of a second at this point, and most of those hissing-hot feathers still wrap around one black-clad leg. Homura does not clench her fist or scream or even grunt, but there's something to the way her eyes narrow... maybe she's just squinting to aim, because even as she continues her spin she's nocking a quick arrow out of nothingness and letting it fly.

She lands in a controlled roll with ribbons -- dusky violet and red alike -- twirling, and leaps back to her feet with one of her black leggings half-seared off. ...has the sun ever touched the leg beneath? Seems doubtful. Then it's blinding violet instead of blinding white that makes Homura hard to look at, as she draws an arrow which audibly snaps and crackles with power. She holds the shot, hoooolds it even as the vivid bowstring quivers and magic arcs up her arm...

...but why is she aiming at the bottom of the pool?

Released, it is a rippling missile of a thing which explodes in a shower of sparks as it hits exposed pool-bottom -- but -- something black and slightly less violet shrieks away from the point of impact! It hits the side of the school next, then ricochets at a dazzling angle to zing off the top edge of the chain link fence right above Chibi-Usa and Hotaru, so that little motes of violet drift down to them like harmless firework sparks.

This final ricochet sends a naked black arrow zipping right for the section of Droid Sauna which her old ally is so helpfully grappling into place, which happens to be on the opposite side of the youma from Homura, completely occluded from her line of sight.

Over the youma, she gives Uranus a single nod.

COMBAT: Homura Akemi has used Impossible Shot on Esmeraude-sama.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Moon [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

It might have Homura Akemi. Might have sucked the moisture out of her eyes, save for the fact that she cheerfully agrees, "You're right! It is!" Was she simply oblivious to the tone? Or is she too happy by this development to care? The world may never know.

Sailor Moon momentarily grows red for reasons unrelated to her tan or the heat at how Uranus purrs that word. Momentarily too flustered to speak, "M-More obvious?" Given how forward Uranus has been in the past - she wonders how exactly the Senshi might make it more obvious. The memory puts her fingers up to her lips, "... any more obvious and I might faint." It might have been that Sailor Moon's mind would have caught upon the idea that Uranus might be saying she's dense, except... Esmeraude thoroughly distracts her from that before that.

"... Are you implying my complexion is pasty or something!?" She sounds scandalized - at least until Esmeraude twists it into. 'Blackened.' And she starts waving a palm, "H-Hey hold on a moment! That sounds like an overcorrection! Where did you get your beauty license from?"

It's hard for her to truly comprehend the shape of the droid. She's not really sure what's in there.

However, then it whips out with a feather boa. And Sailor Moon ducks down rapidly, before suddenly coming up, rod swinging. The momentum of her spinning rod strikes against it, and deflects her out of the way of the impact, in a stumbling step backwards.

The last she saw Chibi-Usa, she was over by the chain link fence.

And so when the Droid turns that way, Sailor Moon shouts, "Oh no you don't!"

Running in it's path and facing it, with one arm behind her back, she suddenly puts two fingers up inside of her lips, and issues a shrill wristle like that of a Lifeguard. She then puts out a palm, "HOLD IT! NO RUNNING BY THE POOL! Your penalty is banishment to the kiddy pool for the rest of the day." A beat, "Also-"

And then Sailor Moon's other arm slides out from behind her back as she points her rod forward, "Moon Twilight-" Gleaming light gathers at the head of the rod as she performs a single pivoting spin, "-FLASH!"

The gathering energy takes the form of silvery spheres as they erupt forward, each on a separate trajectory, but on the same destination. The Droid's... 'face'?

COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used Moon Twilight Flash on Esmeraude-sama.
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

"Hnnn," Hotaru moans, as Chibi-Usa catches up to her. All this misery is making her throat rasp -- or maybe it's just the heat. She's saying something. Two words, unintelligable.

She coughs, an awful dry sound, then flinches away from the violent violet sparks of Homura's ricocheting arrow. A very human motion; a scared little girl.

"Get," she gasps out, a second time, and this time it's obvious that beneath the hoarseness that almost sounds like an alien, the dominant tone is that of a plea, "Away... get away..."

Her fingers finally tear out of the fence but they're still in a rictus little claw. She cradles it close to her chest, hunching over it.

Her cheeks are wet. "Please... Chibi-Usa-chan..."

COMBAT: Esmeraude-sama cleanly braces 17 Fatigue damage from Homura Akemi's Impossible Shot, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  Esmeraude-
sama's Block and Parry abilities activate!  Cripple applied to Esmeraude-sama!
COMBAT: Esmeraude-sama dodges 23 Fatigue damage from Sailor Moon's Moon Twilight Flash, taking 35 Fatigue damage!  Esmeraude-
sama's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Chitose Shiratori [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Once having fired her shots, Chitose takes flight again and tries to do a lap around the pool to find a better position, or to try and flank her so that the droid's attention is directed elsewhere, that wave of heat was exhausting. Exhausting enough, perhaps, that the lady doing the odd laughing is mostly ignored. Chitose doesn't recognize the voice in the slightest, all she can see and deal with is the feathery steam woman in the pool.

White Omen, though, notes the voice for later.

One lap doesn't quite see a good angle of attack, so she stops about twenty feet in the air and levels her Device right at the droid again.

<Thunder Dove.> And White Omen fires, laser birds flying directly at the target, moments before they explode.

It's in between this burst of birds that the boa flies directly at Chitose. She falls just a little bit to try and duck under it, but it manages to wrap around her despite this, wrapping once around her stomach and then getting her arms, before getting extremely hot, overheating her almost to the point of burns as she pulls her arms to try and escape. "Ack! S-seriously, just wait three months!"

The boa doesn't budge, so Chitose takes a moment to try and imagine how this fight might have gone in the cold. After a moment, she doesn't really see much of a difference, mostly because of the searing heat of the boa.

COMBAT: Chitose Shiratori has used Thunder Dove on Esmeraude-sama.
COMBAT: Esmeraude-sama braces 9 Fatigue damage from Chitose Shiratori's Thunder Dove, taking 14 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
Esmeraude-sama's Block and Parry abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

The way the severed feathers dissolve back into steam seems like it might shed a certain light on the compression question - but the droid doesn't give them enough of an opportunity to discuss the new evidence, flinging a boa-bola at La Sirene, and then following suit towards the other magical girls.

The green-clad Magic Knight reacts quickly, conjuring up another wind barrier, this one with enough turbulence (and some spin) to reduce the entangling projectile to a spray of very hot water. The ensuant scalding doesn't really slow her down much, though.

A piece of her wants to unleash the Winds of Admonishment, to help hold the droid at bay, but Sailor Uranus is already grappling with the monster of congealed steam; the Wind Knight could moderate the whirlwind, but the stakes are a little too high if her judgment is off in one direction or the other. Instead, the green-clad Magic Knight sidesteps, adjusting her line of fire to avoid her allies, and nocking another arrow.

She may as well keep chipping away at the monster as she knows she's able to, while she's evaluating more elaborate options.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Basic Archery on Esmeraude-sama.
COMBAT: Esmeraude-sama fails to dodge Fuu Hououji's Basic Archery, taking 12 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  
<Pose Tracker> Chibi-Usa Tsukino [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

"Hotaru-chan," Chibi-Usa declares worriedly, softer now so as not to call the monster down on them or something. She gets over and--plants herself in front of her? Just in time for the youma to start charging them. "Aaaa--"

it could've been much, much worse. Despite her uncertainty she worries over Sailor Uranus, too, watching her caught, but a surprising defender here remains Homura and her beautiful bow. Its violet light showers over them, and instead of being frightening it's beautiful; Chibi-Usa glances up at it with big red eyes. "Wow..."

But as she looks down--to her defense comes Sailor Moon, too, complaints or not--she whistles, and she strikes out--

And the little Rabbit will have to trust all of the assemmbled, for the moment, looking to see Chitose, Fuu--

As she starts to check for la Sirene's condition, she hears Hotaru's voice, and blinks. "...Hotaru-chan?" she asks, worried, and does the very /opposite of getting away. "no," she says, "I won't leave you! It's--it's okay, they'll take care of things, all right? Just hang on..."

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

"You!" la Sirene says as she can HEAR the voice of that horrible woman bearing the mark of the Black Moon upon her brow. "You and your kin have a lot to answer for. Abducting us all - pursuing these children - and now you're menacing a summer pool?? Pfeh! Miserable! Do you just want everyone to feel as bad as you do!?"

Of course that is so much rhetoric. She leaps back from the hurled seething wrap of mist that Droid Sauna sends towards her.

It isn't very effective.

A sizzling feeling washes over la Sirene, from her bare arms up to a prickling heat beneath the protective thick cloth and leather and diamonds. Hissing, she raises her left hand, spine tensing as she raises her right -

"Les Mysteres - Come!"

The burst of silver-ink-black light curves as it flies, not much but enough, perhaps, to spare Sailor Uranus more than a passing caress from alien light. She might prefer that to grappling a creature composed of steam, anyway.

"The burning is bad enough, but now I'm soaked - in this humidity - ughhh, I should have gone to the ocean," la Sirene half-gripes half-gasps.

COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has used Les Mysteres on Esmeraude-sama.
COMBAT: Esmeraude-sama braces 26 Fatigue damage from La Sirene de Diamant's Les Mysteres, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  Esmeraude-
sama's Block and Parry abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Esmeraude-sama [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

Sailor Uranus gets her hands on the youma and discovers the truth: she's all steam. Dense enough to grapple, sometimes, but nowhere cool enough to safely touch. (At least she's wearing gloves.) Her sacrifice is not in vain, as Homura's manibounced arrow cleanly finds its mark, blowing open a shoulder (they both get lightly spattered by sudden, forceful rain).

The droid heaves herself out of that tangle (and, more pointedly, out of the way of Moon Twilight Flash), not by force but by the opposite -- dematerializing enough to pass through (what a cheater), then recongealing, just in time to take Chitose's laser birds, and Fuu's arrow, AND Les Mysteres, squarely at her center of mass.

"OH HO HO HO," Esmeraude laughs down at the mage and Sirene, both complaining about her timing. "The heat-based droid, in this weather, is the point, of course, dear child! Of course the Rabbit isn't our only objective... in a way she's more of a sideshow, really, a loose... end."

THERE she is, smiling away, sitting on the edge of the roof; swimsuit banished, at some point, for her normal gown -- did she leave to CHANGE? At any rate, she gives Uranus a game little wave, then narrows her eyes at Sailor Moon.

"'Beauty license', what a quaint notion! As though you could ever regulate beauty like mine."

She flaps her fan, and spins to her feet, a motion surely assisted by some sorcerous floating. No exertion was required.

"NOW then -- you were looking for me?"

While everyone's attention was exactly where Esmeraude wanted it -- on her -- the droid, which was reduced to a cloud -- finishes again remaking herself. Only this time... there isn't enough of her to be a tall, fabulous steambirdwoman.

So instead she forms an egg.

Which starts to pour off heat in all directions -- incredible heat, agonizing heat, well beyond even the sous vide experience. This is titanic. Almost volcanic.

Water, by itself, could not be carrying all of this. But then, at the egg's heart, is something else entirely.

--power pulses--


It's going to blow. To hatch. To go off.

Unless it gets... dematerialized... once and for all.

"OH HO HO HO HO!" Oh yeah, Esmeraude is so gone. She's the worst. (The bombdroid remains.)

COMBAT: FINISHER! Esmeraude-sama has used Black Crystal Surge on La Sirene de Diamant.
COMBAT: FINISHER! Esmeraude-sama has used Black Crystal Surge on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: FINISHER! Esmeraude-sama has used Black Crystal Surge on Chitose Shiratori.
COMBAT: FINISHER! Esmeraude-sama has used Black Crystal Surge on Sailor Moon.
COMBAT: FINISHER! Esmeraude-sama has used Black Crystal Surge on Homura Akemi.
COMBAT: FINISHER! Esmeraude-sama has used Black Crystal Surge on Sailor Uranus.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji cleanly braces 68 Fatigue damage from Esmeraude-sama's Finisher, Black Crystal Surge, taking 12 Fatigue
damage!  Fuu Hououji's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Sailor Moon braces 49 Fatigue damage from Esmeraude-sama's Finisher, Black Crystal Surge, taking 40 Fatigue damage!
Critical Hit!  Sailor Moon's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Chitose Shiratori braces 45 Fatigue damage from Esmeraude-sama's Finisher, Black Crystal Surge, taking 37 Fatigue damage!
Critical Hit!  Chitose Shiratori's Parry ability activates!
COMBAT: Homura Akemi braces 45 Fatigue damage from Esmeraude-sama's Finisher, Black Crystal Surge, taking 30 Fatigue damage!
Homura Akemi's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Sailor Uranus neatly dodges 52 Fatigue damage from Esmeraude-sama's Finisher, Black Crystal Surge, taking 13 Fatigue
damage!  Sailor Uranus's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant cleanly braces 68 Fatigue damage from Esmeraude-sama's Finisher, Black Crystal Surge, taking 12
Fatigue damage!  La Sirene de Diamant's Block and Parry abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

The rising, resonant energy of the Black Crystal shard within the bombdroid pours across the girls at the fence, across Hotaru. Chibi-Usa is in her arms, now, and she's hunched protectively over and around her, a spindlier version of the matryoshka doll.

Her head is tucked, chin practically to her chest, dark hair tumbling limply everywhere. Tangling, here and there, with Chibi-Usa's pink, of which there is much more, and is, as a general statement, much livelier, more lush, full of health.

And Hotaru's eyes are flickering red -- not red like the droid's were, heat red, filament red, but VERY MUCH the demonic red that hers were not -- on and off, on and off, like a toddler abusing a light switch. When they're 'off', they're their usual violet, only too cold for comfort, the coldest thing in this horrible summer day for miles around. For planets around, maybe.

"Hnnn," she moans. "Hng. You... should've run..."

But none of the energy is touching Chibi-Usa; not a hair on her head is harmed. It's all just meeting Hotaru as though she's a lead shield at the x-ray machine, and... not passing through. She isn't solid like lead, though. If anything she's becoming increasingly translucent with every passing second, as the bomb's power rises and rises and flows into her. More fragile. Less present.

She dissolves into a coughing fit.

<Pose Tracker> Chibi-Usa Tsukino [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

In other circumstances, Chibi-Usa Tsukino would not allow such things as being called a sideshow... But for all the strange girl's boldness, so much of it simply melts away into terror when she's faced with the members of the Black Moon clan, and she offers no sassy retorts to Esmeraude at all.

...Even if she could; her attention is caught in worry, caught even before abrubtly Hotaru moves again after all. The rising energy crashes outward--and Chibi-Usa holds against Hotaru for the moment, as if being nearby might do something for the awful chill in the other girl. But neither the strange cold nor the flickering red seem to dissuade her; she promised, and... maybe she couldn't leave if she wanted to, now.


She wants to pass out from sheer proximity; she wants to do something about the way Hotaru seems to be disappearing. The way she's coughing--

"No, I--I won't--I wasn't going to--"

From off to the side, from that fence, rather than directly at the battle--there's a wail, a tangle of emotions, of worry and fear and love and inability to sort any of it--

But the voice is familiar. Even if the voice wasn't--the l i g h t must be, the symbol of the upright moon burning into existence on the Rabbit's forehead, buried as she is against her ptorector, a column of brilliant light searing up to the heavens, a beacon as bright as that power is dark.

Fallen leaves and twigs start to rise, as if gravity forgets them, and the Rabbit's eyes remain squeezed shut as she cries.

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Uranus [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

Hanging on doggedly, Uranus lets the others pound away with their various mystical attacks, particularly appreciating La Sirene's efforts to spare her from a tearful experience with the energies of her lachrymal realm. At last, their efforts pay off; the mistress returns lest her droid fall without exacting its full price.

"Oh... hey." Uranus grins tightly at Esmeraude, her voice strained from effort and pain. Her gloves have peeled back at points, though so far they've been doing heroic duty. Her leg and arm have that odd, very distinct tan, and her face is ruddy from the heat and beaded up heavily with sweat.

"That's right. And you do look like you'd be a lot easier on the hands," Uranus allows, albeit with a humorless tone of animosity, given her current discomfort grabbing onto mostly solid steam.

Stepping back lest she get dragged down in this shape change, Uranus glares at the egg. Quickly, she digs her heels down, leaps up, and kickflips, bringing a heel straight down as she plummets, her momentum carried about and redirected so it fires like a downward facing cannon. With a boom, it impacts the ground, and hopefully this egg as well.

With one foot half-buried in Juuban concrete, Uranus shoves her other down and pushes away, twisting as she goes to get her legs under her. She doesn't want anyone to have to hold back because she's nearby, this time.

"Hurry up then," she pants to La Sirene, in response to her complaints. "All you have to do to change back into your almost certainly adorable swimsuit is to..."

Uranus cuts off her banter, spying Hotaru and Chibi-Usagi. She sets her jaw, thinking a moment, then turns away.

"Kill it," she finishes with a more harsh and final verb than she had intended.

COMBAT: Sailor Uranus has used Meteor Slam on Esmeraude-sama.
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Heat, thinks the Wind Knight, as Esmeraude claims it was the entire point. And then the droid condenses back into physical shape - as an egg?

... or as a bomb. The heat radiating from it is too intense for anything physical, and the pulse of power from within its core is suddenly *far* too familiar for comfort. And this time, she doesn't have a seed that can conveniently hold such a massive quantity of eldritch energy.

Not that containing it would be a good idea in the first place: the damage might be confined, briefly, but energy does not stay bottled up in such a form, and as soon as whoever's working to contain it wavers, you potentially get an even bigger boom for your trouble. There's really only one option that she can think to enact, and she quickly suits actions to conclusions:


Disperse as much of the energy as possible before it has a chance to reach critical 'mass'. The Magic Knight calls out the force of the tempest, gathering it at her will, and flings it at the now-a-bombdroid, the conjured gale lashing through the blob of water and trying to scatter as much of both water and dark power as possible, diffusing it as much as she can. This is probably still going to leave lingering damage, but water will dry and evil taints can be exorcised. On the other hand, if the explosion has a chance to happen, there will be a large crater where Juuban used to have a pool, assuming the crater doesn't occupy all the ground that Juuban Public School currently exists on.

As for the pillar of light erupting around Chibi-Usa? The Wind Knight certainly notices it, but she'll have to think about it at length later. After making sure that there *is* a later. At least the pillar of light is less disconcerting to the mind than an arm reaching out of a mouth and draining a tome dry of so much magic ...

COMBAT: FINISHER! Fuu Hououji has used Emerald Cyclone: Full on Esmeraude-sama.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Moon [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

"If you don't have a license you shouldn't be talking like you're some authority!" Sailor Moon would never actually put Esmeraude down about her looks, so instead her focus is elsewhere. "I'll just watch videos online for tips! And don't call her a loose end!"

Sailor Moon instinctively stands between the Droid and the fence and the two girls as it becomes an egg. She doesn't know that behind her, Hotaru is proving to be a more effective shield of Chibi-Usa than she could ever be. And Sailor Moon is proving to be an ineffective one to Hotaru as the the energy simply flows around her.

The Senshi's eyes fill with tears. It hurts. It truly hurts. She came to the pool to have a good time and not to be attacked by some steam monster.

Hotaru and Chibi-Usa were getting to spend time together on a nice summer day. And this thing ruined that. One girl asks the other to run. The other refuses to. The love of these two girls is brilliant enough without Chibi-Usa's mysterious power erupting forth as a reminder, or Hotaru's fit.

As the energy washes over her, she raises the Spiral Moon Heart Rod on high, the light within drawing attention to the portal upon the silvery portal at scepter's head.

Can you see within it? Power - sometimes is a window. And within it, you can see glimpses, flashes, images. A Kingdom Sleeps - it's delicate spires abandoned.

Or so it seems. Like again. And it's lit up like a sea of stars within an ocean of obsidian. A skyline more brilliant than Tokyo. A jewel upon the surface of the full moon.

All this is there, if you look in-between ticks of a second.

It shimmers in a pinwheel of light as the girl begins to twirl it in a pivoting dance. An artist with a baton, before raising it up high with a resolved pose on her expression.

"MOON SPIRALLLLLL-" Rotating in place from high to low, faster and faster, a trail of glittering pink left in her wake like the trail of a comet making it's long journey. "-HEARRRTTTTT-"

Like a Ice Skater finishing up a combination spin, she finishes with her knees on the ground, holding the rod on high. "-ATTACK!" The rod erupts into a pinwheel of celestial sparkles, alternatively with bands of magical hearts pouring out of it, building unto itself.

A bright heart of spectacular size and sacred power moves to crash into the Droid before it can explode unto them all.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Sailor Moon has used Moon Spiral Heart Attack! on Esmeraude-sama.
<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

It is said in some quarters that if the egg cannot be broken, the chick will die within.

Of course, not all quarters are well attended to.

The surging heat that comes from the massive egg formed from the contracting droid -- and yes! The egg is massive; it is only smaller by comparison to what was there before, and it is no doubt worthy of hatching a roc or similar. -- makes la Sirene wince again. Before it was a sauna. Now she is facing into an oven or a blast furnace. Her eyes water, but weakly, for the tears themselves threaten to vaporize, leaving a faint rime of salt on her eyelashes.

She can hear a thin cough from the distance. She looks at Sailor Uranus, her pale face lightly blistered, her eerie-pale eyes twisting in reaction. She sucks in a pained breath through her teeth.

"Well-- when you put it that way--" she replies to Uranus. She glances towards where Sailor Moon stands, and remembers facing something that was...

You cannot say 'worse,' exactly. Whatever is within this entity is horrid. But at least, la Sirene thinks as she sweeps her hands up along the centerline of her body: At least I have not seen my beautiful city destroyed...

The light around her surges, draws in, twists into a shade not quite red but not quite violet - something that is vibrant where the more typical dark energy is turgid, deadly - and la Sirene then claps her hands. Once! There is a jingling of jewels.

It bursts from her forwards as she lets out a singular cry of "hei!" -- twisting round in a widdershins circle, twisting as it tightens and flattens, the shape something like a drill head for a moment before it splashes with enthusiasm against the egg, a tide that wraps and grips and forces down. Perhaps even 'holds'.

COMBAT: FINISHER! La Sirene de Diamant has used The Light That Never Warms on Esmeraude-sama.
<Pose Tracker> Chitose Shiratori [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Chitose pulls and pulls again on the boa, and as such the when the droid becomes an egg Chitose can't really do too much when it begins heating up. At least, the boa finally slides off due to the heat, at which point Chitose tries to get higher up to try and escape the heat. Except, no matter how much she rises, it's still really hot. It's an oppressive, encompassing heat, and she just feels like melting.

And then her ears pick up a child's wail, which brings the woman to look at the source: Chibi-Usa... who erupts in a pillar of light. The power of which disrupts even gravity a little bit.

It's only here and now that Chitose considers cutting her losses and getting out. She looks away, out into the distance, for a few moments.

But then she sighs. "I can't leave it like this." And again she points White Omen at the new egg, and lets White Omen herald for her. <Nightingale's Lament!>

White Omen unleashes a gigantic beam of light, but it splits into a rain of spikes, that shower upon the egg in an attempt to pierce it.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Chitose Shiratori has used Nightingale's Lament on Esmeraude-sama.
<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Something about the way Homura holds up one otherwise crisp white sleeve and studies the water droplets steaming on it, her lack of expression absolutely inclusive, conveys cat-tail-twitching displeasure. Little does she know what is to come...

...which basically qualifies as a new experience for Homura Akemi. Having new experiences, that is.

Esmeraude gets her attention right along with the rest. She seems like the main threat, after all. Homura doesn't realize until the initial heatwave washes over her, and then she's swallowing a curse aimed at herself for falling for the misdirection. It twists her lips before she stills them.

Black bangs plaster ever more progressively to a white forehead as Homura casts about for cover -- there isn't any, not close enough, and distance now matters to her. But there's a discarded kick board leaning up against the nearby section of fence... Meager, but every little bit helps. Homura grabs it and drops into a near-fetal curl, leaving one hand exposed and one arm out so that she can hold the flimsy kick board between herself and these conquering waves of volcanic heat.

It is the thinnest of heat-shadows she tucks into, and in the end her survival falls more to her inhuman resilience than the soon-melted lump of foam. She keeps the scream locked behind her teeth, but only thanks to obscene amounts of practice at stoicism. The freshly reddened skin of her exposed hand, though, has a too-shiny look to it, just like her eyes and mouth have a too-tight look to them, and she all over has a vaguely charbroiled glow.

Her less-broiled hand still grips her elegant black bow, though -- and even if they feel like overcooked sausages, those shiny red fingers flex when she demands it of them.

So she does, touching fingertip to bow and drawing back to her cheek in a slow, smooth motion until violet lights up her face and a halo of air around her. A full fan of arrows -- what would qualify as a quiverful, if Homura bothered with a quiver -- bristles from a single magical bowstring, uncountable in their close-packed brilliance.

Something else flares more brilliant still, and gives the archer pause as she holds her payload taut. Something burning a beacon to the sky and past, from the forehead of a girl...

Uranus's grated "Kill it" reaches her old ally as well as the old enemy it's aimed at, and Homura looks at Hotaru. She closes her eyes, and the ribbon in her heat-flat hair flutters.

With her eyes still closed she lets go.

An arc of arrows trails sparks the color of her soul, each flying a different direction away from the battlefield. One strikes the storage shed, another the pool's bottom, more ping off fence links and outdoor light fixtures and the side of the school, zinging between and above the fighting mahou. Her violet eyes open to behold violet tracery in the air around them, a bowshot latticework of geometric grandeur which encompasses them all without walls...

All of the arrows converge -- beautifully, symmetrically, impossibly -- on their final ricochets, toward the center of the space thus described: the flaring youma-egg and the imminent immolation its unknown countdown threatens.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Homura Akemi has used Cathedral on Esmeraude-sama.
COMBAT: Esmeraude-sama fails to brace Sailor Uranus's Meteor Slam, taking 64 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Sailor Uranus is
COMBAT: Esmeraude-sama fails to brace Sailor Moon's Finisher, Moon Spiral Heart Attack!, taking 303 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
COMBAT: Esmeraude-sama braces 67 Fatigue damage from La Sirene de Diamant's Finisher, The Light That Never Warms, taking 55
Fatigue damage!  Esmeraude-sama is unable to keep fighting!  Esmeraude-sama's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Esmeraude-sama fails to brace Chitose Shiratori's Finisher, Nightingale's Lament, taking 53 Fatigue damage!  Esmeraude-
sama is unable to keep fighting!
COMBAT: Esmeraude-sama braces 43 Fatigue damage from Fuu Hououji's Finisher, Emerald Cyclone: Full, taking 35 Fatigue damage!
Esmeraude-sama is unable to keep fighting!  Esmeraude-sama's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Esmeraude-sama fails to brace Homura Akemi's Finisher, Cathedral, taking 169 Fatigue damage!  Esmeraude-sama is unable to
keep fighting!
<Pose Tracker> Esmeraude-sama [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

Sailor Uranus' kick piledrives the eggbomb into the concrete, which cracks up around it like an instantly built nest. It tilts over to one side, precariously, as she retreats out of the blast zone.

The Wind Knight's cyclone starts up from there, ripping and tearing at the watery surface. Mist begins to rise.

Sailor Moon's hearts warp that weft, somehow drawn inward when they should be dragged outwards, point and counterpoint, force and reverse.

La Sirene's power comes in from the side, it collides and it binds. The mist is starting to rain. The puddle in the concrete nest is becoming a tiny facsimile of the dried-up Juuban pool.

Chitose's spikes initially have a tough time getting through. There's a lot of interference from the still-building black energy, let alone the other attacks. But one, at last, slices through, piercing it from top to bottom, transforming it in the moment from egg to dango.

And then Homura's manifold arrows arrive from all directions at once, and dango becomes Dyson sphere, becomes koosh ball, becomes nothing but that pool, and at its center, the emerald facsimile of the droid's dark mistress.

It steams...

...then shatters, gently, tinkling into dust.

And the vacuum where the dark power was is filled -- filled by everyone else's, and most especially by the golden power pouring off of Chibi-Usa, which surges to dwarf everything else, to blot it out.

When it clears... burns are healed. Cracks are restored. The pool is refilled.

Things are so over that it's almost as though they never even began.

<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.

Inside the golden column, Hotaru's lips gaped wide but no noise came out. It isn't a silent scream. She doesn't look like she's shouting at all, just -- breathing. Inhaling. Every breath is a struggle, and this is the biggest one of all. It rattles deep in her chest like bones do.

From outside, she is very black, a marked shadow within the radiance, a silhouette of a self.

But afterwards, when the light fades, and she's the one with her head in Chibi-Usa's lap instead of the other way around, that blackness is just leggings and tunic and tousled hair. Her eyes are closed, but there's no red glow behind them. She's just a kid, worn-out, collapsed in the arms of another kid.