2019-12-21 - Pyrotechnical Difficulties

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Title: Pyrotechnical Difficulties

The magical girls investigate the sluggish start to the fireworks festival, and find Mikoto coopting the fireworks. Things take a turn for the worst after the Wind Knight targets Mikoto's pendant.


Mikoto Minagi, Yumi Ohzora, Fate Testarossa, Fuu Hououji, Vita Yagami


Shitamachi Low City - Asakusa Traditional District

OOC - IC Date:

21-12-2019 - 25-07-2015

.************************ Tokyo - Shitamachi Low City *************************.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Asakusa Traditional District +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
 The heart of Shitamachi, Asakusa is an emblem of tradition and street
 culture. Once, this was the city's foremost pleasure district, a place for
 entertainment, music, and parties. Left behind by rebuilding and
 modernization, today it is famous instead for its temples and shrines. With
 Ueno's parks to the west, the slow waters of the Sumida River to the east,
 and plenty of old-fashioned buildings, Asakusa is scenic and colorful.
 Sightseeing and temple visits bring a lot of traffic, and it's one of the
 few places in Tokyo that rickshaw drivers and (a small handful of) geisha
 can call home.

 Asakusa is not, however, merely a historic district or tourist spot. It's
 very much a living part of the city, with department stores, apartment
 complexes, and corporate offices. The street life is lively, with many
 storefronts spilling out well into the street. More traditional street
 markets are available near the temple districts, too, with stalls that sell
 handmade goods, local food, and religious charms. Interaction feels a bit
 easier here than in most of the city; it's certainly no small town, but
 there's something of a personable, mid-twentieth century ease to the urban
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Players +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Nobuo Uematsu - Jesters Of The Moon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWmHOalJGng

The wind whistles between high, high buildings, in the midst of the city. Smooth glass - smooth steel - smooth concrete. Up there, it's hard to see two figures, standing above, looking down.

One, a shade higher than the other: the white-haired boy called Nagi perches on the wide pipes of the air conditioning unit, pale hands shoved in his pockets. His crisp shirt and slacks are smart casual. He, at least, would fit in down on the winding streets below.

The same cannot be said of the girl who stands and looks down over the edge, tracking the people as they walk. Mikoto Minagi is all clad in black, magenta trim at the edges of her skirt and socks and long-sleeved shirt. The bright armour at her wrist and shoulder, and the red cape behind her, are the only colour she shows. Her hair is black, too. So is the sword-case slung over her other shoulder.

Her eyes are bright, bright gold. His, a pallid red. Both are eerily supernatural, in their fashion. They are the eyes of monsters at the end of storybooks.

Only one set looks amused, in the darkening evening. Nagi rolls back on his heels, swaying back and forth precariously. He expresses his good cheer: "Genki, genki! We're making great progress!" Mikoto has brought suffering back to Tokyo's streets, and Nagi has... well, never mind what Nagi does.

"... yes," Mikoto mumbles agreement, monosyllabic, but in response to his happy encouragement, she frowns.

"Man," he exclaims, with a puff of air, one foot coming up to rest on the other. "You're always so glum, Mikoto-chan. Come on, did you forget how to have fun or something?"

Times past she would snarl at him for his provocation, she would lash out; now her lips only tug further down, as she looks over her shoulder at the boy's balancing act above. She exhales, in a long sigh, and returns her gaze forward. For a moment, perhaps it seems like she won't speak at all.

"... it's just hard, Nagi." Finally she volunteers her voice, numbed in the altitude. This is something she would not say, in the Palace: something she could not say to their Lord, where her voice has little value. "It's so hard, every day. I thought it'd get easier... but it's getting harder and harder." Her voice drops down a notch, with the passing wind. "I'm tired."

The word she uses here is not generally so literal or self-directed. It's used to thank coworkers for their hard work after a long day - they look tired, because they've put so much effort in. From one perspective, perhaps Mikoto heard it used and didn't quite understand the nuance behind it.

On the other hand...

Nagi scratches at the back of his head, with a rueful grin. "Geez, if it's that tough, there's no shame going after easy targets now and then. You know they're doing that fireworks thing down by the river, right?" He is, naturally, very helpful. Nagi has always been helpful to HiME, and Mikoto is still a HiME, even if the others are her enemies.

Mikoto grunts acknowledgement, with a curt nod, as she looks out towards the distance. She knows, and in resignation she thinks - she can't avoid it, after all. With no more conversation, she steps out to the railing of the fire escape, a hand reaching forward --

-- and she flips herself over the edge, down onto the metal staircase below.

She never quite mastered flying, but she remains an apex climber.


BGM Change: Akira Yamaoka - Empty of the Sky https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEtRrW-hUCg

The moon is in its first quarter; the stars glitter in the sky. It's a clear night, this Saturday: the last one of the month, and the traditional time of the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival. The breeze is brisk enough for a cardigan to be comfortable, but in the middle of summer, no one's at risk of getting too cold.

Sumida River twists through the north-east of Tokyo's suburbs, lancing close to Asakusa on its way through to Tokyo Bay. It has seen this festival for close to three centuries - one of the oldest fireworks festivals in Japan. From macabre roots in the Kyoho famine, the festival began to celebrate the spirit of rivalry between different pyrotechnic guilds, and competition grew and grew.

Now - though the tradition did not go unbroken - it's a day of massive celebration, and the throng of people attracted from throughout Japan and the world to see the night sky light up numbers near to a million strong. The nearby Sensouji Temple will enjoy a burst of activity - and it's hardly the only place in Asakusa bustling with sudden visitors.

Everyone is here, looking up together. If something were to go wrong...

An event like this attracts certain types of attention, as the veteran magical girls of Tokyo can attest. And so, for sensibility's sake, we look away from the vibrancy of Sensouji and the streets of Asakusa - to the riverside, to the lines and lines of fireworks, centuries of competition creating a stockade to outshine the stars.

The public doesn't come this close. There are rules, to fireworks. These are, winnowing away the delightful light and noise, explosives. The technicians are trained; the fire brigade is standing by.

But these people are experienced in handling fire; there are other types of fury still unknown to them.

One minute to detonation.

Two men wheel out one of the rockets, checking the final details. There's the sound of fabric whipping in the air - and a girl lands in front of them, all in black, red cape hanging from the single spaulder on her right shoulder.

"Run," advises Mikoto Minagi, as she hoists her greatblade to her shoulder.

Thirty seconds to detonation.

"You can't cosplay here!" Snaps one of the technicians, as the other looks about the evening air and wonders where she came from.

Mikoto clicks her tongue against her teeth, and slams her blade down between them. The earth shudders. The firework shifts in its casing; the men fall to the ground.

The first tries to comprehend what's going on, while the second has noticed the precarious way that firework is hanging off its cart. He's the one who volunteers, pulling his friend up: "Let's get out of here!"


There is the sound of a muffled explosion, as Mikoto's blade impacts with the firework just as soon as those two are clear. It blows past her, hot and angry and sparking, but there's no light in the sky. The firework exploded on the ground.

Thirty seconds past detonation.

Everyone's watching the sky. Did they miss it, somehow?

Mikoto cough-hack-coughs, pats some glowing embers off her cape, wipes the ashes from her face. Scrub-scrub-scrub. Okay, she thinks, to herself. That didn't work out so well.

A minute past detonation.

People are starting to notice the empty sky. A muttering has begun, throughout the crowds. Rumours are quick to blossom, when no one can see the cause.

By the river, Mikoto wrestles with another rocket, trying to get it to point towards the rest of the munitions. She has figured out a much better way to get rid of all the fireworks than blowing them up in her face. She'll just use one to light the others... and they'll all explode, without a single one lighting up the sky!

The lifespan of these rockets is now measured in how quickly Mikoto Minagi can figure out how to light one of them while they're all still on the ground.

Don't leave it too long.

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi transforms into HiME Mikoto!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has fully healed herself. She is now ready to take on 4 opponents!

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Yumi Ohzora... had planned to stay out of the sky tonight, at least for a while. The breeze is offset by the summer heat, but Yumi is slightly insulated from the breeze in turn. She'd planned to watch the fireworks herself, having scoped out a spot along the river with a couple of friends, a boy and a girl, one of whom an observer might recognize as her roommate until she moved into a single dormitory. They're still friends, obviously.

Even if Yumi's had more to keep from her than previously... and from her other 'normal' friends.

But as the time past detonation goes on, Yumi frowns, having a certain feeling. "I..."

"?" mentions a friend, and Yumi quickly, "I... will be right back! Need to, um--It's fine!"

She scurries back into the trees, presumably towards the bathrooms...?

But instead, a figure on a broom with a pointed hat rushes up from the treeline, away from them, and towards...

"Mikoto," Yumi says. "...That's really dangerous." She was going to come in swinging with a big speech--but she's taken aback somewhat. But Mikoto isn't known for talking things out right now so--

"Hunger insatiable, fulfilment denied! Hollow Curse!"

Yumi puts out her hand and from her fingertips springs a projectile of green light and shadow, for--well, Mikoto's near it. But it's mostly for the area around her, where she's trying to get fire to eat wood and wick...

COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora transforms into Witch Ivy!
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora has used Hollow Curse on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi fails to dodge Yumi Ohzora's Hollow Curse, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Cripple and Exhausted applied to Mikoto Minagi!

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

"So you've really never seen fireworks before?" Arisa asks, "Like - really really."

"Not exactly. I was staying at... ... ... someplace where I couldn't see them, last festival. And from what I heard my... Mother ruined that festival."

Three girls sat in the backseat of a sleek luxury vehicle, which is caught in bumper to bumper traffic. Each one is dressed in a Yukata. Fate herself is dressed in a navy blue one with white flowers. Amidst the chorus of angry honks, their prospects of getting there in time get dimmer every moment.

"We'll never make it..." Suzuka just allows this small sigh, as Arisa suddenly looks out the window. "You know what - we're not waiting. On three-" Arisa took it upon herself to hit the release button on the seatbelt buckles of the other two, "One - two - three-!"

And threw open the door to the sidewalk, pulling Fate Testarossa along with her out the door.

"But the driver-!" "Is smart - he'll figure it out - come on!"

Suzuka hurried out to catch up to the three girls holding hands as they jogged off.


"M-Made it-!" Arisa was the most breathless of the three ironically, being the least athletic, as the three girls made it to a playground within viewing distance.

Each one quickly scrambled up onto a jungle gym to the top, their feet dangling off.

"I can't believe we just left him in traffic." Suzuka noted.

"He'll get over it. There's no way Fate-chan could have seen her first fireworks from the car!"

Arisa checked her smart phone for the event web page, right at the timer, "And here we go in three... two... one."

The sky remains unlit other than a haze of light pollution.

"Sometimes these things run a little off..." Arisa hits reload on the page of her phone, checking the sky every few minutes.

"And after she counted down too." Suzuka whispers to Fate, who allows this tenuous little smile.

"Annnnyyyyy second now." Arisa says, obviously flustered.

It's almost a minute past when Suzuka finally notes in a worried tone, "Something's wrong..." Before she then looks at Fate's expression, putting a hand over her mouth as she says, "I-It's probably not your mother this time."


Mikoto hears the words, "I think I found the problem. No it's not... technical difficulties... it's more 'someone' than 'something'."

There is Fate Testarossa, standing on a nearby tree, speaking into her phone. She's in her barrier jacket now rather than a Yukata. "... Yes it's her again. Put you on speaker?"

Fate Testarossa pulls the phone away from her ear, and hits a button, which then results in a shouty voice of Arisa Bannings over the phone, "HEY YOU - ARE YOU FOLLOWING US AROUND? YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF FOR RUINING EVERYONE'S GOOD TIME!"

Fate Testarossa simply gets dot eyes for a moment, "I should hang up now. I don't think I can talk and fight."

Hitting end before Arisa can shout again. The phone shimmers in yellow light as Bardiche internalizes it. And then Fate waves Bardiche overhead in an arc, causing four runic rings to appear overhead in the space where he crossed. From each one an arrowhead of lightning sprouts. <Plasma Lancer> Fate chops Bardiche back down at Mikoto, "FIRE!"

The four arrowheads aim at Mikoto with rather good precision. If they start to endanger the fireworks she can probably tell them to 'Turn' in time.

COMBAT: Fate Testarossa transforms into Barrier Jacket Assault!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has used Plasma Lancer on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has finished attacking.

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

While Fuu dislikes the noise of fireworks, the sight of them is as pleasing to her as to any other child of Tokyo; the crack and pop and boom that accompany the flash and sparkle and color are, to put it most simply, a necessary drawback - and one that can be ameliorated with, say, a good pair of earplugs.

But on the flip side, when the scheduled beginning of the fireworks display is heralded by one boom and then silence, and that one boom is purely groundbound?

"I wonder if they're having technical difficulties of some kind," Fuu wonders to her big sister, as the two girls and their parents watch and wait. It seems unlikely even to Fuu - especially with a familiar instinct nagging at the back of her mind. "... I'll be back in a moment, Kuu-neesan."

"Don't be long!" Kuu whispers back with a smile, even as the bespectacled Fuu in her green yukata slips away from her family and through the crowd, weaving her way out of the gathered spectators and picking her way towards the riverbank.

Catching sight and/or hearing of a couple of terrified pyrotechnicians suggests that it is, indeed, a little more than mere technical difficulties - and shortly thereafter, the Magic Knight of Wind emerges quietly from the trees, spotting not the Witch of Lost Ivy but her handiwork. She quickly adds her own spell to the combination: "Winds of Admonishment!!" she calls out, and attempts to bind Mikoto with a conjured whirlwind - ideally, pulling her even further away from the fireworks that Mikoto's trying to tamper with.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji transforms into Wind Knight!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Admonishment on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi braces 12 Fatigue damage from Fate Testarossa's Plasma Lancer, taking 10 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi braces 14 Fatigue damage from Fuu Hououji's Winds of Admonishment, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Fuu Hououji is Psyched!  Cripple and Trap applied to Mikoto Minagi!

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

The Yagamis of course, would not miss such a thing as this for the world. For one, because it is a great chance for all of them to be together with Hayate as her condition, day by day, improves. For another, because Hayate absolutely refused to miss a chance to dress up her whole found family in Summer finest! So the whole clan is handy, Vita excitedly clutching festival food and staring at the sky with fixed wonder, because for all the explosions she has herself caused, sometimes you just want to see what the pros can do.

Tick. Tock.

<<It's late,>> Zafira says at the same time as his wolf body rumbles.

Vita grimaces. "Well," she mutters, as the crowd around gets louder. "...I have a feeling. Keep an eye on Hayate." <<Two.>>


A crimson spear pierces the night, spiraling corkscrew around itself as it zooms in on the firework prep area, a gleam of iron poking out of the ray.


A polo hammer at highway speed streaks for Mikoto's side, aiming to send her tumbling away from the fireworks altogether."--OUT!"

Vita slams into the ground in armor-shod feet, kicking up dirt as she skids to a halt, spins on one heel, and hefts Eisen in a fist-pumping frustration. "I had to put my cotton candy away because of you!!" she grouses.

COMBAT: Vita Yagami transforms into Crimson Iron Rider!
COMBAT: Vita Yagami has used Cruising Speed on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Vita Yagami has finished attacking.

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

Mikoto fumbles with the firework rocket, trying to figure out how they even operate this thing. It's not exactly rocket science, but...

... from one perspective it is absolutely rocket science, and Mikoto's been failing her science classes for a few months now.

Before she can make much headway in her newfound dreams of arson, though, here's -- "Yu..." Mikoto starts to say her name, catches herself in the middle. "Lost Ivy!" She snaps, instead, eyes narrowing.

She does not think she can ask Yumi how this rocket works.

Neither can she ask Fate, or... Fate's friend, at the end of her phone. Mikoto's hearing is keen enough to pick up the yelling. She yells back: "I'M NOT!" She fully fails to clarify whether she is responding to the question or the statement. Maybe she's responding to both at once. She's not following them; she's not ashamed, either.

Part of that mystery, of course, is simply because a Hollow Curse is arcing between the girl on the broom and the girl with the rocket. Mikoto rapidly abandons her own method of propulsion - which is for the best, really - leaping away from the fireworks and back towards the river. She finds herself having to plant her stance as the Wind Knight's whirlwind whips about, so she doesn't lose her footing entirely, and it's a stoic defence she keeps up as Plasma Lancer pinpoints her.

... mostly because Mikoto remembers very well how agile Plasma Lancer's projectiles can be. At least this way she can catch them on the flat of her blade, heels digging into the soft loamy earth of the riverside.

Stationary defence doesn't suit her, though, and when she hears Vita charging in - well, Mikoto has responded to that sort of gesture from her before. In henshin or out of it, her instinctual response is the same: she springs away from Eisen as it crashes in.

The hammer gets caught in her cape. Briefly. Her cape is not magical; it rips from her armour and flutters to the ground, and she's jerked back from her leap by the sudden halt. She staggers, for a moment, before she turns on them.

"Good!" She snaps, to Vita - though it's a motivation for all of them, really. "Now no one gets to have fun! All I have to do is figure out how to get rid of all these fireworks!"

Beat: "Hitting it didn't work too good. It just blew up in my face."

Oh. That explains why there's soot all over her cheeks, probably.

"... but first I'll get rid of you!" Mikoto decides, definitely not because she knows how to fight people much better than she knows how to operate fireworks. Vita, first, who has bravely volunteered to be on the front lines: Mikoto plants one foot down and twirls, once, twice, three times, before the flat of her blade hoists up to crash into the smaller girl's side.

She doesn't linger - she springs forward, now, to bring her blade-flat down on Fate, leaping up into the air and bringing Miroku down overhead. Landing, she charges Fuu, bringing her blade up from below.

Finally she looks up to Yumi, and sweeps her blade in an arc around her before plunging it into the earth. Dark portals like the one which receives the blade open, one-two-three-four, surrounding the Witch - and lances of dark energy erupt from them, piercing through the spirit on their way to pin Yumi's heart to the board.

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Dauntlessness on Vita Yagami.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Dynamo on Fate Testarossa.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Devastation on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Darkness on Yumi Ohzora.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora counters 9 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Darkness, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Yumi Ohzora's Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!  Trap applied to Yumi Ohzora!
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora's counterattack, Witch's Mirror, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Mikoto Minagi!
COMBAT: Vita Yagami cleanly braces 28 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Dauntlessness, taking 5 Fatigue damage!  Mikoto Minagi is Psyched!  Vita Yagami's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa perfectly dodges 40 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Dynamo, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Fate Testarossa's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji neatly dodges 24 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Devastation, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji's Fade and Flash abilities activate!  Stagger applied to Fuu Hououji!

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Yumi winces a little at the shouty voice. Just a little. But she's still up in the air, and Mikoto is moving--

It is rocket science, or maybe rocket engineering, depending on the perspective, and Yumi spots the narrowed eyes--

"Looks like I'm not the only one investigating," she says, and then frowns. "Mikoto-chan that's enough!" she snaps at the other girl. "You can try--"

Yumi throws up a ward, and while she can't quite get anything back through the portals, she manages to block the one pinning for her heart--gets hit by others instead, dark energy lancing into her. "Gh--"

"No, you WON'T!" Yumi answers Mikoto. "You're stuck with us! Do you think a little thing like being hurt would make me give up on you!? Do you think a tiny thing like pain would stop me? Us???"

"Ancient form of the land, reappear and snd claim that which is lost! Ivy Binding!"

Yumi's magic takes effect, spectral vines shooting up from the ground abrubtly under Mikoto.

COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora has used Ivy Binding on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi perfectly dodges 15 Fatigue damage from Yumi Ohzora's Ivy Binding, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Critical Dodge!  Mikoto Minagi's Fade and Flash abilities activate!

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

As Mikoto rises up to meet her, Fate does a little front flip forward, bringing up Bardiche against Miroku's blade. The haft guards her against the blow, angling it even as she somersaults over it. The form of the small girl goes hurtling past, while Miroku skitters off.

Bardiche sports a chip in his length afterwards from the initial impact, but much worse than had it been a prolonged clash.

Fate Testarossa rights herself in mid-air, turning around as if readying herself from attack, but Mikoto is already on to... "Oh Vita!"

The girl's eyes widen in sudden understanding, as if her battlecry of Mikoto knocking it off just registered, "Were you here to watch the fireworks with Hayate?"

Fate swoops in as Mikoto plunges her blade in the earth, intending to take her off guard. However there is always warning when she attacks. <Cartridge Load.>

A cartridge thrums in, causing Bardiche to surge with magical power, as she crashes into Mikoto, the impact of the swung Polearm Device more than likely causing the ground to shatter beneath her from the thunderous boom.

In the aftermath of the impact, Bardiche vents steam out of his head, and Fate speaks in a firm tone, "We won't give up on you but someone could get really hurt - someone could even die if this keeps going on. Is that really what you want to happen?"

COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has used Thunderous Clash on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi counters 12 Fatigue damage from Fate Testarossa's Thunderous Clash, taking 12 Fatigue damage!  Fate Testarossa is Psyched!  Mikoto Minagi's Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!  Stun applied to Mikoto Minagi!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi's counterattack, Obsidian Blade: Disequilibrium, partially gets through, doing 22 Fatigue damage to Fate Testarossa!  Exhausted applied to Fate Testarossa!

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

Rather than meet sword with sword, the Wind Knight elects not to remain in Miroku's arc, instead flipping back and to the side, riding the shockwave of that devastating slash and letting it push her further away from more grievous sorts of injury. Not that she escapes as close to 'unscathed' as she might have - but she'll take bruises over bleeding, absolutely any day (or night).

"'Blew up in your face,' you say," the Wind Knight remarks mildly as she regains her feet - materializing not her sword, but her bow and quiver, quickly nocking an arrow to her bowstring. "Such an apt metaphor ... but really, Mikoto-san, we *can't* let you keep wreaking havoc like this. Surely you remember, just from fighting alongside us, how tenacious we magical girls can be - especially when it comes to protecting the happiness of this city's non-magical populace, and protecting the members of that populace. Even with our own friend as an enemy, do you think we're going to give up and let you run amok, doing as you please?"

Her tone is firm, stern, but still gentle - the voice of a girl correcting a friend, rather than talking down to an enemy. And while Yumi and Fate unleash their own further attacks ... the Wind Knight lets her words be her weapon, at least for one more moment.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Gentle Chiding on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has finished attacking.

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

As always, Vita's and Mikoto's clashes turn into flashing sparks and swinging, heavy weapons. Vita shifts her grip on her weapon, popping the weight in her grip as she considers the pose Mikoto takes. But what she gets, instead, is a warning. "Oh. Yeah, stuff does that sometimes, you have to--"

Eisen bongs at her to remind her of the situation. "Oh. Right. Stop that!"

Mikoto's coming. Vita barks, "EISEN!" and throws out her hand. "Barrier!" <<JA! Panzerschild!>>

A twirling barrier builds up in front of her, triangular magical circle counter-cycling against swirling glyphs in the outer ring. Mikoto slams into it, the barrier crashing against the shield and merely forcing Vita back a few steps. "I'm not going anywhere! Hayate's festival is on the line!"

She forces back as Mikoto zooms off to face the rest of the fight, and starts hovering up, swinging her hammer up over her shoulders as she spies Fate. "Well, yeah! She's fine, but we have to wrap this up fast!"

Hayate being fine was a given, of course, because physical harm to Hayate would not have gone nearly as well as this is currently going for Mikoto.

So while Mikoto darts around to face her foes, Vita tosses a few iron balls into the air, the Swallw Fliers growing in scope just before Vita slams her hammer into them, sending them scattering and corkscrewing after her. Each one that lands punches right into the dirt!

COMBAT: Vita Yagami has used Schwalbefliegen on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Vita Yagami has finished attacking.

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

The darkness glances Yumi, but before Mikoto can think of pressing her attack - there's Fate, and Bardiche, and for a moment she can't think of what she just heard her say. Mikoto wrests Miroku from the ground and whirls, meeting Cartridge-force with her hungry blade. Sigils like eyes alight across its obsidian surface, and a white explosion crashes out between them, power feeding into power.

One cleaves through sad destinies. The other...

Neither one quite manage to cut through, this time, though the explosion sends Mikoto staggering back. She pulls her blade to a defensive position around herself, narrowing her eyes.

Yes, she knows just how much Yumi likes raised voices, but Mikoto is not, precisely, operating on what's nicest for the people around her right now. Making the Witch of Lost Ivy wince is a benefit, and it only makes her feel a little bit miserable.

And yes, now she thinks on it, she realises... she's making things worse for Hayate, amongst everyone else. That makes her a little miserable, too.

The magical girls have their own treatises on how far they're willing to go - how far this could go. It's a heavy kind of sadness which shutters her eyes, for a moment, as she takes a breath inwards. Her volume lowers. "I... I wanted..." Her jaw sets in a line, then, as she grits her teeth against the wavering. "It doesn't matter. I can hurt people. I can kill people, too. We both believe in what we're doing," she glares to Fuu, "so that's the end of it."

That's the end of it, even though it would have been so easy to enact her plans before the technicians ran away.

She meets Yumi's eyes, and carves into the implications. "So long as you're attached to me... I can drag you down." Do not think Mikoto isn't clever, in her own fashion. She can see where the faultlines have formed.

But Yumi has a rejoinder to the acid she spits, and Mikoto's eyes widen as she recognises the chant. Before she can think about it, she's springing away from the vines - a leap she clears spectacularly, leaving her in mid-air as Schwalbefliegen hammers in. Mikoto has no way to change her trajectory in mid-air: the best she can do is twist to try and keep the heavy balls from impacting anywhere immediately debilitating.

Mikoto staggers, as she lands. She grimaces. She puts away her pain and discomfort in short order, straightening and facing them down again.

"Fine," she snaps, to Vita. "If you won't tell me, I'll just figure it out myself." BUT MIKOTO WAS THE ONE WHO CUT HER OFF WITH THAT LAST ASSAULT-- no, no, she's definitely not acknowledging that. She turns to Yumi, first, eyes narrowed, and springs up - with alarming alacrity, to strike at the girl in mid-air. For all intents and purposes, the flat of her blade seems entirely designed to strike her right off her broom. Why would she--?

When she lands, Mikoto whirls about, plunges her blade back into the earth with a feral scream - but this time the white-bladed explosion which rocked Bardiche instead courses into the ground itself, and the earth splits under their feet, much more literal faultlines crashing in to threaten Fate and Fuu and Vita. If it goes on for too long, the fireworks are going to fall into the split earth, too.

There are plenty of girls present who could tell everyone how bad that would be. So why is Mikoto doing something which Yumi has outright said is so dangerous?

Perhaps the answer lies in the sickly magenta light washing over her, from the pendant at her chest.

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Dauntlessness on Yumi Ohzora.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Disaster on Vita Yagami.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Disaster on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Disaster on Fate Testarossa.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used The Obsidian Pendant's Purification on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi accepts Mikoto Minagi's The Obsidian Pendant's Purification, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Accelerate applied to Mikoto Minagi!  Cleanse! All of Mikoto Minagi's debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji decisively counters 18 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Disaster, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Stagger applied to Fuu Hououji!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji's counterattack, Trick Arrow Shot, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Mikoto Minagi!
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora fails to brace Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Dauntlessness, taking 35 Fatigue damage!  Mikoto Minagi is Psyched!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa braces 9 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Disaster, taking 14 Fatigue damage!  Fate Testarossa's Block and Parry abilities activate!  Stagger applied to Fate Testarossa!

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Yumi is appreciative in the moment for Fate, but cannot put her thoughts too hard on appreciation just now--not amidst great explosions, amidst her anger for and at and with Mikoto, and there are places. But what she wanted...

"I know you can," Yumi says, suddenly--gentler, in her voice. "I've known for a while. But that doesn't mean you have to, or that you want to, or that you believe in it really."


"You can try. But when everything was at its worst... I didn't go down."

But she is going to have to literally hit down, however--Mikoto's blade slams towards her. The spell keeping her stuck to the broom snaps with the sheer force of it, and the Witch of Lost Ivy sails through the air and hits the ground roughly, rolling once she does, coming to a stop still for a moment--before she rises, coughing. "I--"

Her heart may be hard to bring down, but her body is not so resilient. "Mikoto... You..."

"...I won't let you hurt yourself like this, either..."

She drags herself upward, leaning heavily on her staff, and looks over--she sees the magenta light. "....Strength... inverted, a body betrayed... let this blade feel my ire! Weakness!" She throws another rune for Mikoto, and looks around--her broom is already moving back towards her... but that'll take a few moments yet.

COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora has used Weakness Hex on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora has finished attacking.

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

Fate grips her chest in the aftermath of her clash with Mikoto, sucking in a breath through her nostrils. "I can be fast."

Fate says to Vita a little matter of factly, despite the pain.

"I'm expected back too." She says quietly to Vita.

Mikoto says she can do it, and Fate's eyes narrow all of a sudden, as she bristles. And snaps Bardiche out to her side. <Haken Form>, as it shifts into a scythe like blade, shifting lightning mana lining it.

Mikoto attacks with a feral scream, and the earth splits. Unfortunately for Fate, she's on the ground at the time, and it drops her to her knees and Bardiche begins to chime. <Defenser Plus>

Instead of it's usual form though, a yellow dome like shape appears around Fate Testarossa, which she uses simply to hold herself upright against, as she wedges Bardiche in one of the cracks forming.

In the aftermath, Bardiche simply drops the barrier.

<Sonic Drive - Ignition>

Fate Testarossa's cape vanishes. As her skirt and leotard shift into a pair of spats. A pair of wings of golden mana appear on each wrist and ankle.

And then she all but disappears in her sudden, violent upwards ascent in altitude.

There's a twinkling of a star in the sky, as she drives back, spinning round and round for momentum, as she slices her scythe in a wicked rotating arc that doesn't end as she speeds past Mikoto's position, trying to catch her in its shearing cycle on the way.

<Haken Slash.>

"Don't kid yourself."

Fate says as she breaks away, whirling around in a position hovering a distance away from Mikoto.

"Even if you can do it. We all know you don't like it."

COMBAT: Fate Testarossa transforms into Barrier Jacket Sonic!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has used Golden Flash on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi braces 6 Fatigue damage from Yumi Ohzora's Weakness Hex, taking 5 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Yumi Ohzora is Psyched!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi dodges 17 Fatigue damage from Fate Testarossa's Golden Flash, taking 26 Fatigue damage!  Mikoto Minagi's Fade and Flash abilities activate!

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

Dark power lashes through the earth, and the Wind Knight's arrow flies, actually caroming off of the ground just ahead of a dark-lit fissure coming in the other direction. A normal arrow would have fluttered back to the ground again, but this shaft seems to rebound with greater force, driving towards Miroku's blade.

Maybe the arrow, infused with the Magic Knight's will, somehow diverts a portion of the power. Maybe it's just a distraction. But either way, the Wind Knight manages to leap clear before a fissure can open anywhere near her feet; she's already pulling out another arrow, and if her landing is more wobbly than it should be, perhaps there's a reason for that.

Such as, potentially, just maybe, a weak point that she's spotted.

Those who've watched Fuu in tournaments would recognize the way she raises her bow, the way she lowers it in front of her as she draws back; even the look in her eyes is the same, a relaxed concentration wholly out of place in a frantic fight where life and limb hang in the balance. Mikoto is moving about too much, it would appear, thanks to the attacks being launched by the other magical girls in this fight, but that doesn't seem to trouble the Wind Knight; indeed, it seems almost like it doesn't register on her awareness. She doesn't try to aim at where Mikoto *is*, but at where she expects Mikoto *will be* in a moment ...

And another arrow leaps from her bow, sailing towards Mikoto's heart -


At *the pendant*.

If her aims is off by a hair's breadth, it may do a lot more harm to Mikoto than Fuu intended ... off by much further, and it would miss completely.

And if it *does* strike the pendant - seemingly a token of the dark power of Mikoto's precious Lord Brother ... what then?

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Trick Arrow Shot on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi braces 8 Fatigue damage from Fuu Hououji's Trick Arrow Shot, taking 12 Fatigue damage!

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

"Maybe I'll show you later!" Vita says to Mikoto's yelling. "If you stop breaking fireworks! They break on their own, you know!"

She knows what Mikoto's actually saying; she told Vita herself, to her face, in no uncertain terms. But if she acknowledges it too clearly, she's not...sure. Ghhh. "How the heck does Takamachi do it!" she grunts out, vaguely in Fate's direction, before they're forced to scatter. Eventually she alights down, toughing down with heavy gloves as she shifts Eisen in her hands, considering her play, just in time for Mikoto to tear the ground back apart. "Jeeze!" Vita yelps, shooting skyward. She gets conked by some flying debris, and slaps a hand on her hat as she zooms away, swooping up and taking up a spot in midair to adjust it. "So your only goal is to make us upset," she mutters. "And you hating it is also fine. Great. Great! Actually, you know what, I have a plan for that!"

Then she BULLETS down toward Mikoto, a crimson spear bursting across the distance. It's much like the first attack, except she veers sharply just toward the end - as Eisen slams home, once KACHUNK twice KACHUNK--

<<Tödlich!>> "SCHLAAAAAAAAAAAAG!" Count and Rider scream, as Vita slams home Eisen's hammerhead.

And half a second later, a BLAST of force releases from the hammer, hopefully dislodging Mikoto and sending her tumbling.

"No seismic activity in the city!!" Vita yells. "Rule six!!"

COMBAT: Vita Yagami has used Tödlichschlag on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Vita Yagami has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi counters 7 Fatigue damage from Vita Yagami's Tödlichschlag, taking 21 Fatigue damage!  Mikoto Minagi's Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!  Stun applied to Mikoto Minagi!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi's counterattack, Obsidian Blade: Dynamo, partially gets through, doing 12 Fatigue damage to Vita Yagami!

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

Yumi won't let Mikoto hurt herself like this, and she hears it, over the sound of rumbling wounded earth. She stays the course - but her grip shifts as her shoulders drop down, hobbled by the weight of her conviction. An arrow glances from it, shifting it a little further, weakening the earthquakes a little more.

For a moment, her eyes blink shut.

She brutalises her friends... and it makes her sad... and, that sadness...

She hears Bardiche's voice chiming its drive change, and her breath hitches in her throat. She wrests her blade from the earth, and springs away - before she even hears an attack declared. She's started moving now, because she has seen how fast Fate can be, with wings at her feet.

Even with her advance movement, Bardiche still glances her side, carving through the metal of her spaulder and sending her crashing abruptly to the left. Tumble - tumble - thud. She grasps her shoulder as she rises, feels the bruising there.

It's fine. Her Lord Brother will take care of her.

But Vita has a plan, and Mikoto whirls to face it, obsidian blade coming up to meet the assault. Another explosion - or two - and she goes flying again. Roll-roll-thud, Mikoto impacts heavily with the ruined platform which hosted the firework she cut in half. "Nnn..." Mikoto's eyes scrunch shut, as she grabs the side of the wheel to pull herself up. It crumbles under her grasp; she falls down again.

She really should have seen that coming. She did cut it in half. And then explode it.

"How is that a rule," she grumbles, as she uses Miroku to help herself standing instead.

She shakes her head to clear it; she finds her gaze on Fate and Yumi, again. Perhaps it's the blows speaking - which make her sigh, and glance away, briefly. "... I don't," she confesses. "I don't like it. But I have to believe. It's an order... from my Lord Brother." And would she still believe, if that geas were not wrapped around her soul? Sometimes she wonders.

She forces herself to stop wondering, abruptly, and springs forward to slam her blade - not into Yumi, and perhaps it's a mercy, except for the fact that her blade impacts the ground in front of her and threatens her footing for a second time. She turns, and rather than try and hit Fate, uses a similar strategy - whirling her blade through the air with a crack, the shockwave blowing out around her to buffet the flying girl. Both of the flying girls, in fact: Vita isn't safe from the shockwave, either.

She turns to address the final girl --

And her eyes widen, because she turns and she sees the attack coursing in. She has seen the accuracy of the Wind Knight's arrows, too, as surely as she has witnessed the speed of the Sonic Barrier Jacket. She sees its path, its destination. She has an instant to decide.

She does not leap away from an arrow which would find her.

She curls in on herself - lets the trick shot bury into the vambrace on her arm, lifted from her blade to shield the pendant at her neck.

She yelps, a sound dragged through grit teeth.

The next sound which rolls past that steel trap of her jaw is something much closer to a growl, as Mikoto lifts her wrist up to her face --

-- and grabs the shaft of the arrow by her teeth, tearing it from her armour with a whip of her neck. She spits it out; she leaves the arrowhead where it lies.


It's an address made of gravel and hatred, Mikoto's eyes narrowing as her world narrows to Fuu Hououji. "It's precious to me," she snarls, grasping her blade, dragging the words from her throat through a haze of anger. "My Lord Brother gave it to me. It's his precious gift. It will always guide me back to him. I won't forgive you."

There's something monotone to the declaration - as she fights to say it. The words are slow.

She is not. Mikoto charges forward - away from the fireworks, towards the Wind Knight, and her blade flashes out in a whirl as she spins once-twice-thrice and she is not holding herself back so stringently any more. "I WON'T FORGIVE YOU!"

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Devastation on Yumi Ohzora.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Decimation on Vita Yagami.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Decimation on Fate Testarossa.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Destruction on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora decisively counters 24 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Devastation, taking 8 Fatigue damage!  Mikoto Minagi is Psyched!  Yumi Ohzora's Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora's counterattack, Dark Beam, partially gets through, doing 19 Fatigue damage to Mikoto Minagi!  Critical Counterhit!  Stagger applied to Mikoto Minagi!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa partially dodges 8 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Decimation, taking 33 Fatigue damage!  Fate Testarossa's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji braces 27 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Destruction, taking 40 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Vita Yagami perfectly counters 48 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Decimation, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Counter!  Vita Yagami's Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!
COMBAT: Vita Yagami's counterattack, Panzerhindernis, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Mikoto Minagi!
<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Expected back. ...Yumi is too, isn't she? She has friends who probably wonder if she's okay. If she'd thought of a better excuse it would've been better. She got so used to being around magical girls...

It makes sense that that's a rule. It's a good rule.

But, talk of liking it, talk of solutions, all of that falls for an instant from Yumi as she looks and meets Mikoto's eyes for a half-instant--and the moments that follow come slowly, too slowly. "An order," Yumi answers, distant, as she lifts her hand. Mikoto slams forward her blade, and as it impacts the ground, Yumi steadies herself with the staff; even as splintering wood crashes towards her, a piece of it grazing her cheek, she traces a rune of destruction--

And point-blank blasts Mikoto with a beam of dark energy, black-edged green, concentrated magical power of her own.

"I don't like your Lord Brother very much," Yumi answers, wobbling--and sliding back onto her broom, which starts to lift her forward again--

"Hououji-san, pull back!" She looks with great interest at that shot--but it's not happening right now. "You know how angry she gets!"

Trying to save the other girl, Yumi prepares herself--to lay down suppressing fire, not that she thinks of it in those terms. She traces multiple runes just like the one she just used, and these cascade into beams like waves of the ocean smashing forward in green shadowed light.

"Forget her! You're not done with me yet!"

COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora has used Dark Radiance on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora has finished attacking.

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

That was, simultaneously, both less effective and more effective than the Magic Knight of Wind might have hoped for.

On the 'down' side, of course, is the fact that the pendant went utterly unscathed. Whatever link it holds to Mikoto's 'Lord Brother,' that link is preserved and protected - even more importantly than Mikoto's well-being, if she'd take the shaft in her arm instead of let the pendant be damaged.

On the 'plus' side ... it is clear, *just* by that desperate protection, how critical and precious the pendant must be - and Mikoto even *says* as much in her mounting rage. A gift from her Lord Brother, which guides her back to him ...

Just as the Wind Knight suspected.

There's one more drawback to the discovery, though: namely, the unbridled fury with which Mikoto responds to the attack. The Magic Knight of Wind barely has time to exchange bow for blade and defend herself, obsidian smashing against Escudo, daemonic relic versus legendary artifact -

And while the blade holds intact, the body and will which wield that sword are a little more susceptible to injury, or at least to physics. All of that force has to go *somewhere*, and that "somewhere" is "through the Wind Knight's body," hurling the green-clad Magic Knight away, her body sailing through the air to land with a pained cry, rolling to a halt.

And then - she gets back up. Bruised, battered, but still, pulling herself back to her feet.

"So it's what I thought ..." The Magic Knight of Wind can *still* smile, even despite the walloping she just took. "So that's the leash your brother has you on. It doesn't look like a terribly pretty gift, though - nothing befitting a girl as cute as you are, Mikoto-san. Maybe you can give me a better look before you try to finish me off?"

She *is* backing off, step by step, but she's not *running*. In fact, she takes a moment to cast another spell, calling out, "Storm-Dance of Kamaitachi!" The whirlwind isn't quite as violent as sometimes, but it has a distinctly buffeting quality - especially 'behind' Mikoto, on the side of the swordswoman away from the Magic Knight, possibly as if trying to coax her closer ....

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Storm-Dance of Kamaitachi on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi dodges 12 Fatigue damage from Yumi Ohzora's Dark Radiance, taking 18 Fatigue damage!  Mikoto Minagi's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi fails to dodge Fuu Hououji's Storm-Dance of Kamaitachi, taking 40 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!

<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

How does Takamachi do it?

"... She said once me to me that her hands are so small. But within them is magic that can blast away anything. Even sadness itself." Fate relays to Vita, "I guess it's just that confidence - that she can do that - so long as she keeps trying."

Fate isn't sure if that's the right answer. That's just what she thinks, because before they fought the Wolkenritter - Nanoha fought her.

"So even if you can't say it directly - you hate your Lord Brother's orders. I understand."

Fate tries to shift sideways in mid-air as the shockwave rips towards her, but in this barrier jacket, her armor is much thinner.

The blow knocks her away much further.

With a gasp that knocks all the air out of her lungs, as she's goes into an aerial spin that nearly crashes her into a temple roof.

She rights herself just in time. Putting a hand to her side.

"Bardiche. She might kill Fuu."

<Yes Sir.>

"... Let's stop her before that happens."

Each wing twitches, and Bardiche pounds in a cartridge - as Fate returns in an instant, and she flies at Mikoto so quickly that its like she's being flown by by a supersonic jet. A miniature sonic boom buffets Mikoto - and a sensation like something is slicing through the air.

It's hard to follow her with her eyes, but there's another one buffeting Mikoto. Then another. It's all happening so fast, so fast that it feels like it's intending to keep her locked down in one spot by how it batters one way and then the opposite in her passing. Force and counter force blitzing just by her each time.

A half dozen times. A dozen times. Twenty times.

Then all of a sudden Fate Testarossa just appears in the air a short distance away.

Golden slashes blossom over Mikoto's from so many angles. Appearing and disappearing - the sheer violence of the assault only registering after its finished.

Bardiche doesn't chime a spell as Fate snaps him back into position.

"He doesn't deserve your loyalty." Fate says quietly, like a whisper.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Fate Testarossa has used Golden Blitz on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has finished attacking.

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

Vita looks down at her own hands; tiny, of course, with her childlike body. She clenches one in its soft glove, rubbing fingers against each other. "Well. Guess I know a thing or two about not giving up," she says, and sucks in a breath, turning her eyes firmly on Mikoto.

Which is when she's taking aim. "Scatter!" Vita yelps, but doesn't; instead, she thrusts her arm down. "Eisen!" she calls, and the Armed Device throbs a reply, the air around Vita filling with crimson light. It hardens, crystallizes into an all-but-impenetrable barrier. The awesome power of that annihilating wave smashes into it, and Vita's eyes widen at the forces, but though cracks appear up and down the crystalline barrier imposed over her, it does not fail. Vita squares her posture, looking down.

She finds herself adjusting her hat at Mikoto's exclamations, making sure the bunnies can peer down upon her in judgment. "Well, she's got the reaction down right," she mutters, and then sweeps her arm, dispelling her barrier. "Eisen, we can't let this continue. Access reserves."

Eisen BONGs in reply, and Vita holds Eisen forth.

And then the sky fills with a steady kaCHUNK, kaCHUNK, kaCHUNK as the Iron Count fills himself with power, screaming: <<EXPLOSION!!>>

COMBAT: Vita Yagami has used Explosion on Vita Yagami.
COMBAT: Vita Yagami has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Vita Yagami accepts Vita Yagami's Explosion, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Empower and Surge applied to Vita Yagami!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi partially dodges 18 Fatigue damage from Fate Testarossa's Finisher, Golden Blitz, taking 74 Fatigue damage!  Mikoto Minagi is unable to keep fighting!  Mikoto Minagi's Fade and Flash abilities activate!

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

Normally, Yumi's insistence that she doesn't like her Lord Brother would earn so much more retribution. But Fate launches a much more effective attack, and Mikoto flinches, as Fate suggests her understanding that Mikoto hates her Lord Brother's orders. She lets her blade be her denial --

-- and then she has no more room to think about disproving Fate's claims, because she barely has room to think at all.

Obsidian bites escudo, and all the force which flows through Mikoto ends in Fuu. Mikoto snarls as she sends her flying, lips curling up over bared teeth, nostrils flaring. The Wind Knight taunts her; she stalks forward, deliberate step over deliberate step. Her blade carves a line through the earth, gripped to white knuckles.

Yes - they know how angry she gets.

Everyone here has seen Mikoto's berserkergang, from one side of her blade or the other. Perhaps, through that lens, the struggle to speak makes sense. She can barely hear herself, through the blood pounding in her ears.

If she let herself fall into that same oblivion of thought, how far would she fall, now..?

She can scarcely think about it: she is action and reaction. Yumi tries to call her attention, but like a bullet Mikoto streaks away from her beams, and even the one which impacts soundly does not still her for long. A grunt of pain escapes her, as she catches herself. She glares up to the Witch --

But the Wind Knight capitalises on her momentary distraction, and Mikoto hisses complaint as she's bowled forward by the wind. For a moment she is tossed through the air, as light as she seems - but a hand flashes out to press against the ground, and she pushes herself upright without stopping her motion, feet coming in underneath her again.

"I'll..." The word sloughs through her throat; she has forgotten the shape of them. "... I'll make you pay..."

The operative question here - for everyone who has seen her wordless rage - is surely thus:

Why is Mikoto still talking?

She never said a word, before.

In her inexorable path forward, it might become clear to Fuu as she draws closer, step after heavy step: Mikoto is crying.

(Did she cry, before? Don't ask her. She wouldn't remember.)

Vita recognises the gravity of the situation - and Fate moves in to stop her. She hears the sound of air snapping, and springs to the side, only to be caught and flung through the air.

She does not, strictly speaking, land.

Each time the shockwave passes by her, keeps her in the air a little longer. Mikoto is made of muscle - even so, she's frightfully light. It's not so difficult to juggle her in the air, and she has no way to correct her course and lash out in protest.

Finally it passes; she falls to the ground.

It's only then - that she feels the pain of a hundred cuts, as it hits her all at once. Mikoto cries out, and curls in on herself. It protects her core... and what lies against her core.

Perhaps one is more important than the other.

The energy expended explodes outward; the ground knits, and a firework is restored to perfect health where it was in the middle of being wheeled out. Mikoto's efforts come to naught, and everything is well, at the riverside.

She looks out at it; she groans.

Finally - finally - she pushes herself to a sitting position, and grasps her blade, and... her eyes fall on Vita, and her words finally catch up to her conscious mind. "Even if I kept going... you'd..." She remembers fighting Vita, injured. She remembers how well that went.

It would not go any better with Vita releasing her limiters.

Mikoto could release hers, but...

... she kept talking, even when she was that angry.

Why was that?

Mikoto's shoulders sag; Mikoto sags. Her eyes blink closed. "... I understand," she says, heavy in her fatalism. "It's over."

She opens her eyes; looks from the blade in her hands, up to the Wind Knight. "I... was I really going to..." She doesn't sound certain of what she was just doing, which is unnerving from at least two angles. "Stay away from me!" She decides, sharply, as she pushes herself upright with the steadying help of her blade.

"I was raised to be loyal to my Lord Brother," she says, looking back to Fate. "... that's why I'm loyal to my Lord Brother." And if there is anything unpleasant in the circular logic, perhaps it is held in the pain of her lips parting for a breath inward --

-- until her pendant glows, again, sickly magenta light which only she could call 'comforting'. And if there was any painful realisation in her eyes all a sudden it fades to nothing, as her expression hardens and her tone grows cold again. "I'm going."

She turns, and leaps, clear across the river. Her feet make a splash on the other side. It's cold in the nighttime. It's fine.

It's only after Mikoto is gone that the fireworks technicians begin to filter back in. "Hey," one of them calls out, "I know you kids are having fun out here, but you can't play right next to the fireworks, all right?! I don't know what sort of technology you're using these days, but I know it's not safe right next to those!"

It's... probably better he not realise exactly what just happened.

At least it's not hard to get back from here - to a place to view the fireworks.

They're nice fireworks.

Mikoto does not stop to watch them.


"... breaking a leg out there," Nagi says, leaning against the back of the Obsidian Lord's throne. The corner of his pale lip quirks up, in some unspoken amusement. "She told me herself."

That smirk is gone, though, as he looks down to his Lord. "It's just as you said, boss." Nagi alludes to the cost of their progress with a light gesture, as the man stretched out on his throne curls his fingers about his teacup.

"Yes," the Obsidian Lord says, and in the growing darkness of his Palace, the only detail is in the gold of his narrowed eyes and the magenta of the pendant about his neck. Its light pulses through the shadows, like the beating of a calm and steady heart.

It calls her home, home, home.

"My dutiful little sister..."