2020-01-25 - No Girl Is An Island II

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Title: No Girl Is An Island II

A Dark Shadow wreaks havoc on Tokyo, but the magical girls defending it know there's someone trapped inside. They help Mikoto find the strength to fight back from within - while they shatter barriers on the outside.


Mikoto Minagi, Lera Camry, Yumi Ohzora, Takeo Akamizu, Nori Ankou, Eri Shimanouchi, Vita Yagami, Fuu Hououji, and Steven Universe

Guest starring Kasagami Araki, Endo Naoki, Fate Testarossa, Setsuna Higashi, Hayato Nishi, and Mai Tokiha


Tokyo Tower

OOC - IC Date:

2020-01-25 - 2015-08-01


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

Obsidian. This is the magic that Lord's minions bring to bear, cruel and unyielding. Spikes flare out about the epicentre of the Shadow, and these do not creep up Tokyo Tower, in hope of causing inconvenience.

These are the spikes of bower birds, each an executioner's lance, and they tear through the ground levels of the Tower. Through, and out - wave after wave and they will carve through the late-night cafe, the lively bar, through streets and office buildings full of salarymen who could not make their way home at a reasonable hour.

It does not look to the spires which tear from the earth, not with that gold light, not with the blazing red sigils along its malevolent blade.


It looks to you.

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

Kasagami's exhaustion creeps down her body, adrenaline keeping herself on her feet. The emergance of those Obsidian pillars of defiance lashing away towards the street level of Tokyo has the Duelist looking back towards their inevitable destination.

Fear crawls into her heart and forces her to move reluctantly. Instead it's the many salarymen and women, all of the innocent students that she aught be protecting as a Student Council Member, and most of all?

She knows her Uncle is a workaholic just like so many, and the young woman is a black-and-red blurr as she lashes out at the tracing lines of spikes as she moves, her long blade eager to bite in twirling, dancing strikes. There's no active thought put into her actions, raw emotion, love, and purpose driving her masterful guidance of her family's heirloom weapon.

But will it be enough? Will she get there in time!?

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

"Mikoto!" Endo's eyes widen as those obsidian spires begin to spread outward at rapid pace. He leaps backward, clearing space, finding a safe perch.

When it becomes obvious that the spikes bursting outward are a danger to more than himself, Endo acts as quickly as he can. A push takes him from the beams of the tower, down the streets below. Fallen Stern cleaves outward, contrails of purple-black flashing along the oversized blade as the boy sets himself to carving obsidian spires. Safety of nearby civilians is his top priority now, distracting him from pressing the other assault any further.

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

A cascade of dark spikes hurtles down a street, as a metro bus suddenly screeches as it tries to not only stop, but pivot in a quick U-Turn. It feels inevitable that it will be impaled by the onrush of obsidian monuments when.

<Jet Zanber>

A ping echoes, as a titanic yellow column of lightning descends like the train crossing barriers commonly seen throughout Tokyo. It embeds itself into the pavement, leaving a long slicing cut.

The Obsidian Spikes ram into it and lightning sparks and it disintegrates spikes both above ground and below.

The bus manages to prevent itself from tipping over, and after making its U-Turn speeds away.

A small child in armor and a white cape holds Bardiche in that position for a while, before he compresses back down to her normal size.

<Further Seismic Activity Detected Distance 20.>

Launching herself into the sky, the child flies that way.

"We're nothing alike." Fate echoes a prior statement from Mikoto, and something clenches within her heart as she sees the rumble of and appearance of more spikes nearby.

"If only that were true!" She shouts, equal parts frustrated and determined as she suddenly picks up speed into another dive.

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

A blazing red light appears inside the ground floor--and Cure Passion uncurls, fist strighting out towars one of the spires and meeting it with a show of force that causes dust and rock to shower the air where she stands, renders her invisible for sheer debris in the path. But when the dust clears, she is no longer there--she is back towards the people, leaning down to set arms over two innocents, one taller than her, the other a small child.

"It's all right. I'll take you somewhere safe."

In a flash of blazing red they're outside and she's standing up to look at both, giving the child a reassuring smile as best she's able. Flash--she's inside again, racing another of the spikes tearing through another wave, and another to find those who can't flee for themselves in the chaos and spirit them out of danger's path.

<Pose Tracker> Hayato Nishi [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

There's a coffee shop filled to the brim with panicking and stressed-out university students. To nearly a man and woman, they're frantically digging through half-scribbled supplementary doodles - for while final exam week is nearly over for them, there's just a few last revisions, a few last notes to check-

-and not a single cloud storage or email server is responding.

Some have given up, huddled in corners. Others argue feverishly, trying to remember what that one advisor mentioned in their last meeting. Others are trying to recall knowledge through sheer caffeine, hoping that thinking faster will be thinking better.

And then there's Hayato Nishi, who knew this was coming a few days ago and has paper copies of everything with him.

He's lounging with a coffee of his own, leisurely flipping through pages of notes for classes no one in this room is taking, occasionally toying with a weird belt buckle that looks like a yellow diamond. It's not a big deal, but it's a way to pass the evening while there's a storm outside his window seat.

"...hope she'll be okay. That's a lot to deal with...but she'll manage, right? She follows someone who values her, just like...hm." A thoughtful frown, and then he sets down his coffee before calling out loudly. "Okay, enough's enough - I'm pretty sure none of you are getting anywhere tonight. Time to give up and head home before the storm gets worse."

"Easy for you to say! You've had an easy time studying all night, what gives you the right to-" The angriest student is cut off by the blond student clapping his hands, Switching Over to become a figure of infamy if not fear.

"Mobius gives me the right, generally. Go cry and wail at home." Westar smirks as the teens and young adults scramble over each other in a rush to escape, turning back to the window. "...she's got her job, and I've got mine." Out the window he goes-

-and a barrage of obsidian spires tears the now-empty cafe to shreds not seconds later.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Nevermore - The Obsidian Conspiracy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFU4ulcO6tM

Is it an earthquake?

There's an office lady working late on a stubborn problem, when the ground shudders. She grasps at her monitor to stop it falling - and knows better than to go to the window. If she had, she might have seen a swordswoman and her nodachi, carving down spires which threaten to pierce the building and leave all those calculations unsolved. She's hardly the only salaryman working late, in this building, narrowly evading oblivion.

On the streets, the wave of obsidian finds it cannot crash over the civilians of Tokyo - because there's a boy like an army, meeting every spire with another black blade. Like thesis and antithesis they crash together, and obsidian shatters into a thousand fading shards. On the other side of Tokyo Tower, an entire bus of good souls narrowly evade a terrible fate... on account of the lightning. Once again, a girl makes sure that not one vulnerable vehicle is pierced - even though this time, they're trying.

On the ground floor of FootTown, the quakes have set debris sailing down - but there's a girl all in red, escorting children to safety in a flash. Those who cannot evacuate on their own will not be left behind, and one mother tearfully expresses her gratitude to such a brave soul in the wake of this disaster. Meanwhile, a friendly coffee shop is torn to shreds - but no one is there to witness exactly what happened, because the inhabitants have all gone, directed away by their senior.

So many defenders make their efforts - but it will still be difficult to fight through the spires to get up to their source, for anyone late in their ascent.

Mikoto is not the only one who knows down to her bones - death is a potent source of suffering.

A Dark Shadow did not have to learn.

Were any one of those defenders less mighty - less quick - less clever, the spires which tear from the ground would surely pierce through a dozen innocent hearts. And yet: for every stalagmite which gashes through, there is a response, one way or another.

The Shadow responds, but not to them.

Below, the spires rage out; here on the tower, the source of the escalation regards each threat in clinical turn. A Cloud Knight - a Puella Magi - a Witch, a Siren, a Mage. Each a title bearing power, and no name crosses what passes for its thoughts as it categorises them by the weights they carry.

The pause is not long, illuminated by the magenta light of command.

The Puella Magi has crafted a lattice of vines, along the tower, as if in counterpoint to the obsidian choking its girders. It is an advantage the girls use: the Puella Magi, particularly.

The Shadow leaps, black blade carving overhead through vine and girl alike. Plants and bones: both are meant to split in twain. From this angle, leaping up - it would tear her hip to hip.

It does not hold back.

Mikoto had this capacity for violence: ask Lera, who has felt Miroku's invocation too many times, or Vita, who witnessed Mikoto bring a building down upon them both. Ask Nori, or Fuu, who witnessed her actions at war. Ask Endo and Passion, fighting further out to keep everyone safe - who both saw a blade swung at them with killing intent. So many have faced her as enemies before this, and felt her unrelenting force.

But hope entered the universe at their darkest hour - and in a better world, even Mikoto so dearly wanted to change. She understood things too frightening to grasp, before. She tried so very, very hard.

And this, too, is as nothing.

A Shadow, in its violent perfection, still remembers with absolute clarity the immutability of their orders.

Enemies must be defeated.

This is - has ever been - one of the Obsidian Lord's many little euphemisms.

It calls for their death.

Your death.

And the Puella Magi is only the beginning. Fast - too fast, faster than Mikoto in all her feline agility - it springs in to knock the Mage and Cloud Knight away from each other, with a whirling blade which imperils the entire area about them. Those sigils detonate white along the blade's length as it spins, and it is as much explosion as slice.

It is away in a moment. There are more knights, to see to. It charges the Chevalier, blade flashing out in a swift cut. A step, a half-turn, and it wrests its weight in now towards the Wind Knight in a diagonal slash from below.

More epherimal than a knight's arms are the things held by a Witch, and light is such a wretched thing, to a Shadow. It springs for her, sword overhead, an executioner's arc. And the Siren, holding nothing so fiercely. Now there is no mercy, no backing down; it spirals in towards her, one rotation, two, three, and the edge of that blade carves in just the way it didn't, once.

And though the abyss of its lips curl back over white teeth, it does not make a sound as it hurries to their deaths. No snarl, no wordless bellow - entirely unlike Mikoto. The only noise from it is that blade coming down, and down, and down.

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has adjusted her boss levels. She is now ready to take on 7 opponents!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Demonic Spire: Malice on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Demonic Blade: Maidenslayer on Eri Shimanouchi.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Demonic Blade: Maul on La Sirene de Diamant.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Demonic Blade: Mutilate on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Demonic Blade: Marauder on Yumi Ohzora.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Demonic Blade: Mark on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Demonic Blade: Mark on Vita Yagami.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Demonic Blade: Manoeuvre on Lancelot.
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!  Critical Hit!  Accelerate applied to Mikoto Minagi!  Cleanse! All of Mikoto Minagi's debuffs are cleared!
COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi braces 34 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Demonic Blade: Maidenslayer, taking 28 Fatigue damage!  Eri Shimanouchi's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora cleanly braces 23 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Demonic Blade: Marauder, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Mikoto Minagi is Psyched!  Yumi Ohzora's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant neatly dodges 36 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Demonic Blade: Maul, taking 9 Fatigue damage!
COMBAT: Steven Universe braces 24 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Demonic Spire: Malice, taking 36 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Steven Universe's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji counters 11 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Demonic Blade: Mutilate, taking 33 Fatigue damage!  Cripple applied to Fuu Hououji!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji's counterattack, Spinning Slash, partially gets through, doing 4 Fatigue damage to Mikoto Minagi!
COMBAT: Lera Camry partially dodges 5 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Demonic Blade: Mark, taking 19 Fatigue damage!  Lera Camry's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Lancelot braces 16 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Demonic Blade: Manoeuvre, taking 13 Fatigue damage!  Lancelot's Block and Parry abilities activate!

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

"Still nothing? How long is that 'little meeting' supposed to..." Swallowing hot fury, Mai puts her phone back into sleep mode, grabbing her broom tightly before stalking down another hallway.

Custodial services aren't exactly glamorous, but it's a job that needs doing and can be spun as 'office experience' to school boards. She's getting hands-on experience in international trade, sweeping these halls, just...by proximity. Learning by osmosis or somesuch.

At least this one is a paid position.

It's also something of a sobering environment. Salarymen and office ladies, hard at work even after business is supposed to be done for the day. The sight of a third young man slumped over his keyboard brings a wince - she reaches out with the broom handle to nudge his hand off the keyboard lest something unwanted get typed.

"...really doesn't make our job easier having you all still at work, you know." Grumbling, she heads back to the nearest coffee machine, looking at the sludge in the pot. "...and I swear this thing sees more use than the ones at Linden Baum. This isn't a way for anyone to live long-term, it won't-"

There's no answer from this corner of the office - headphones are overlooked at this hour, so anyone not asleep is singularly focused. Just silence, and Mai's own thoughts.

"...Takumi said he'd be fine. Said it wasn't my business, the fink, but he's not pushing himself too hard. He knows better." She takes out her phone again, looking at a dark screen bereft of notifications, before finally moving practised fingers. "...but one text message. It's late and he promised and-"

[Your message could not be delivered.]

"-and something's wrong. How long has this been out, how long-"

The windows aren't so far away that she can't rush to them, abandoning her broom in her rush. Outside is dark - too dark for the fading of the day, and it takes a moment before she spots the wrongness at Tokyo Tower. The sight of obsidian spires brings a chill to her veins, and she clenches her fist. "...Mikoto. Why didn't Eri tell me- right, phones, she couldn't. If I weren't at this stupid job cleaning up after these self-destructive-"

What's important? Takumi's at his appointment, he said he'd be fine - but he can't reach her. Should she check up on him, or trust...

What's important? Mikoto's out there, alone against all her former friends, and maybe this is their chance to get through, to help her-

"...stay put. I'll be there soon, and-" And then there's a quaking of the earth, a golden light, and it's clear how wrong things have become. One window shatters, and another, and trailed by flame Mai leaps clear. There's a shadow where her companion should be, but she's not too far off. If she hurries-

Obsidian lances out, tearing into the streets, sending spears of certain slaying at an office building that Mai knows is still filled with exhausted innocents.

What's important?

Making sure Mikoto can live with herself after this.

Blazing crimson meets the first spire, defiant flame shattering the stone. But after that there's another spike, and another, and another...

"You can stop this! Please come back home - MIKOTO!"

And another and another and another-

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

Lera floats high in the sky, light crackling about her, as she watches those spires fly out. Her jaw sets; her lips curl back into a grimace, and she looks down. Down, away from Mikoto... and at the Shadow.

She has felt Miroku's bite before. She knows it well. She looks down at the Shadow, and then she rises. Miroku lashes out -- and Lera just moves to the side, a terrific rush of wind, and the tip catches her Barrier Jacket at the waist.


It slashes through, a thin line of blood drawn. Lera Camry hisses, flying backward -- eyes widening -- and then narrowing. "Mikoto..." She looks, sparing a brief glance at Mai Tokiha. "...if you're gonna be a weapon, if you're gonna say that you're just a sword..."

She holds a hand up in the air, and shouts: "Broken Ground, set up!"

<Get set!>

And light cascades around her. Soaring Sky shrinks down -- vanishing into the pen that dangles from Lera's neck, like a necklace. The bracelet on her arm expands outward, with a flash, and turns into a round shield of clockwork segments and a barrier between them.

"...Then we'll be the shield to stop you!"

COMBAT: Lera Camry transforms into Barrier Jacket Aphelion!
COMBAT: Lera Camry has used Earth's Heart! Erupting Hope! on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Lera Camry has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Lera Camry accepts Lera Camry's Earth's Heart! Erupting Hope!, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Empower and Surge applied to Lera Camry!

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


Yumi knows, when the shadow descends, that it is almost certain that Mikoto can't hear her or be reached just now. She spoke of selfishness and want, of accepting anger and much more besides, and so as she speaks of that acceptance--well, as she's here now, with the Dark Shadow rushing her--the Witch of Lost Ivy refuses to back down.

The executioner's arc leads downward, but Yumi Ohzora raises both hands and shouts a word of power; a radiant green shield of runes erupts from her gloved fingertips, her heart's intent once words, now a shield. That great blade slams straight into it, and the barrier holds firm. The sword finds no purchase, though Yumi herself is knocked downward by the force of the impact, and sails backwards on her broom to adopt a better position.

So many times, she's seen Mikoto on either side now; seen her strike at their enemies... Seen her strike at her. It hasn't changed, her feelings for this girl since the blade began pointing her way--

"I will free of her of you," Yumi promises the shadow, pink eyes sharpened and heart beating miles per beat--and then she hears Mai Tokiha in that shout. She's there, Yumi can see. "...We'll take care of her on this side," Yumi promises her, too, and sails up straight over the Shadow, heedless of the danger of that dangerous blade and the jumps its body wielding can extend. Instead, she begins to trace a rune that burns green-white in the air as she breathes in to chant, "O light, fade not in the dark! I call upon your true form by the life sleeping beneath!"

She extends the Staff of Lost Ivy and a cascading beam of green power lights through the night, slamming like a tide towards the Dark Shadow below. "Sacred Ray!"

COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora has used Sacred Ray on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi perfectly dodges 18 Fatigue damage from Yumi Ohzora's Sacred Ray, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Mikoto Minagi's Fade and Flash abilities activate!

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

The girl that he JUST got done telling he loves turns into a shadow demonic figure and then rushes at him with a blade as black as obsidian and with demonic intent. He tilts his head and says dead pan, "Huh. Well. This feels familiar."

Maybe later, when the girl he loves as a sister isn't trying to kill him with demonic powers he might laugh.

For now, Lancelot leaps back and crosses the blades at the last second before impact. Power the color of obsidian flashes with a crash of thunder and a lightning as the twin Blades of Arondight stop the strike from being fatal but slide him back a good fifteen feet along the girder of the tower. He pulls the blades apart with a "Tsk." And twirls them.

"Damn it Mikoto." He whispers. "I don't want to hurt you!" He says more loudly at the shadow form that was his friend. He spies Mai and calls out to her, "Careful! She's going all out!"

He wonders if he should go all out as well, but then grits his teeth. He really doesn't want Mikoto hurt. He just wants her home. Safe. Finally he nods once and then leaps to the side, to try and find a good spot to dance in as he calls out "LIGHTNING BLAST!"

With a boom, a blast of pure blue and white elemental lightning arcs from Lancelot's hand toward the Shadow form that is Mikoto. The sky flashes and Tokyo Tower sparks as residual lightning dances along the girders and super-structure.

COMBAT: Lancelot has used Lightning Blast on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Lancelot has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi perfectly dodges 21 Fatigue damage from Lancelot's Lightning Blast, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Mikoto Minagi's Fade and Flash abilities activate!

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53HZ7LoqhSQ

This time, it's coming.

This time there will be no luck, no favorable source of the universe, no moment of hope in a bloody decline. This time it's for keeps.

La Sirene de Diamant knew this in her heart, that something like this would come. She does not have time to think right now, only to feel as the black shadow of Mikoto Minagi - or the Mikoto Minagi that is beneath that black shadow - comes towards her. There is no hesitation here.

But she has not been completely innocent. She fences, if not at any great level. But it is enough to tell her that there is commitment here. No hesitation. It is enough to know that she is, truly, in peril. Her stomach tightens as she breathes out.

The thought, not quite, reaches her that in a moment she could die, cut apart.

La Sirene swings her arm as the slashes come. In her eyes, eyes that thirst to drink a light filtered through layers of gloom, through storm cells convecting the heat of an alien sun into the sky where tears warm and spill and find their rest in deepened layers of sedimentary salt, in those eyes she can see that thin streak of blue. It's fainter than it was. It is what she has. She throws her arm forwards, leaning back as she swings -

A year ago this wouldn't have worked. Her heart was less strong. She had shed fewer tears. And, as the blade of obsidian comes towards her, one other fact is clear - a year ago, she was a couple of centimeters shorter. The invisible blade crashes into the side of obsidian. There is a great clash. A single flash-flicker of ultraviolent splendor... and la Sirene is cut.

But only shallowly.

She breaks the clash, turning away and breathing out even as Lera rallies, along with Yumi. She sinks to one knee. The luminous gleam around her flares as her eyes squeeze out tears and she cries out, "COME BACK!! Stop this!! Stop trying to destroy yourself!!"

And then she brings herself upright, her right hand lowering to her side. It feels obscurely numb. Is that OK? La Sirene doesn't know. She'll ask the otter later. Her left hand raises, though it does not make another great sign; a streak of that light, eerily like liquid, flies towards the flitting shadow.

"Hate me if you want! Give me all your sorrow and your anguish and whatever it is - hate me if you want, as long as you are there to do the hating!!"

COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has used Carbonado Kaleidoscope on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi perfectly dodges 23 Fatigue damage from La Sirene de Diamant's Carbonado Kaleidoscope, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Mikoto Minagi's Fade and Flash abilities activate!

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Right Where it Belongs - NIN - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZSWMK68zM8

Everything changes so quickly. So swiftly that her mind falls into its own brutal pace. The drumbeat of cynicism marches to the percussion of Obsidian spikes through the Earth, to the baton of Miroku.

Mai's appearance might have changed that. Might have.

Yet the Shadow is there.

Swift - Deadly - Beautiful.

This is never what she wanted Mikoto to be. Even when she was sending her out as an assassin.

There's no time for her to get out of the way. There's just no time.

Eri's whip sings its whistling song as she snaps it straight into Mikoto's path. It snaps against the blade, an unequal - inadequate counterforce to the swift Berserker strength.

It slows her down for a moment though. Long enough when the slash comes, it carves fabric and shallow skin rather than muscle and bone from her shoulder to her hip. Red drips to the ground.

And as she stagger steps away, she hugs her chest, as if assessing the damage from the spasm of pain.

Lifitng up her arms as the shadow streaks from person to person like terrible effigy of death, she looks at the cut forced to be more shallow.

Then breathing, she says simply, "It's not her." Then repeats louder, "This isn't her!"

Drawing her arm back over her head, there's a moment where it sparkles bright green. Then...

... the Thorns just look longer. Like thin stiletto daggers all along it. She begins whirling it overhead.

"... We need - to draw her out of it!"

Faster and faster - as she sweeps it at an angle, like some terrible spiked chain, as it comes closer and closer to the shadow, trying to rend off the shadow as if it were simply a layer above flesh, that can be carved off... gradually.

"She - doesn't need someone controlling her life - like this!"

She hates it. Of all the things the change to the world could not eliminate - it was the harm she'd done to the mind of Mikoto Minagi.

"She never did! Mikoto fight it - you need to fight it!"

And then she adds more quietly - over the whirling din of her own attack, "I got to live. So you get to too."

She hopes. But maybe the fact that she can - is sign enough, that things can be better than her worst fears.

COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi has used Aerating Edge on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi fails to dodge Eri Shimanouchi's Aerating Edge, taking 71 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!

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

Vita's lips slowly curl up as a dark shadow overtakes Mikoto. Gobbles her up like a Vita might destroy candy.

"There you are," the Crimson Iron Rider says, fingers slowly curling tighter around Eisen's handle. She watches the dark shadow surge. The spikes-- her eyes cut to them, spot that others are angling in that direction, and that's all the attention she can pay. "Eisen," she hisses. <<Ja.>>

A dark shadow is suddenly right in front of them. Her eyes widen, just as a surge of rushing winds whirls up around her feet. <<Pferde!>> Eisen roars, and Vita suddenly surges to one side. When she slows, Mikoto has missed her completely; The outer wave of the detonation sets her skirt flying, and Vita has to slam her hand down on her hat, but she is otherwise largely unmoved. She breathes roughly. "There you are," she repeats. SHe sucks in one last, deep breath, and squares her stance. Then she raises her voice.





The hammerhead rises and SLAMS down, blasting magic into and threw Vita's form. Then it slides up again, the action discharging spent, once-enchanted brass out into the sky. Vita catches the falling casing as a second loads, pushing her powers higher and higher.

"I won't let you get away this time," she whispers, feeling her muscles sing, her thoughts quicken.

"I won't let you go back to him, this time!"

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!  Critical Hit!  Empower and Surge applied to Vita Yagami!

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

The shadow is familiar to the Wind Knight, of course - she's seen this darkness overtake Mikoto before, and to see it happen again *now* is hardly welcome, especially when it seemed - for one moment - like maybe they were getting through to the girl.

That's the last thought she has time for before a great deal of violence happens in a very short span of time. Her bow, an arrow already nocked, is abandoned for her sword - and while she feels her edge nip into something, the Shadow's sword cuts harder, and would have cut deeper if not for the armor which protects the Wind Knight's vitals. The impact *still* flings her from her initial perch, halfway across the Tower's span at this height, and trying to prevent that arc from leading into a near-vertical plummet adds wrenched arms to her growing list of injuries.

By the time the Wind Knight has something solid under her booted feet again, her hands are weaponless, but her gaze seeks out the Shadow, gauging its movements, trying to estimate which way it'll go next. Surely it won't give them time to gather themselves at length ...


She takes her best shot - not with an arrow but with a spell, gathering power from her injuries as she weaves a restorative breeze around herself, then trying to return the pain to its source: not so much Mikoto herself, swathed as she is in hostile shadows, but the darkness itself, the forces which drive her. If she could shove the offensive force of this spell down the throat of Mikoto's "Lord Brother," the Wind Knight surely would - but his proxy, maybe his actual puppet, will have to suffice for now.

Cutting the strings will have to be a separate effort.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Liberating Gale on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi braces 12 Fatigue damage from Fuu Hououji's Liberating Gale, taking 18 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Bind Break! All of Fuu Hououji's debuffs are cleared!

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

It is a day like any other. the warm din of an old CRT television. Popcorn slowly cooling. A controller hanging haphazardly off a bed. It seemed like the evenings children lived to see. Soft vermillion shades bleed in through the sliding glass doors.

Until an Earthquake deemed it was not.

The controller falls off the bed and clatters to the ground. A boy stirs tha twas buried under the covered. Nearby, a giant pink cat is bristling. It can sense the source. He can just feel it deep inside. Perhaps an intrinsic connection to a feelow cat calls to him. "What was that!" young Steven Unvierse says, flailing in an attempt to free himself from his downy prison. Deep breaths accompany an appearance, and Steven rushes to get his flip=flops. Lion is already trying to get out the door. A hanging light dislodges from its anchor and almost hits the ground from more shaking. A plate breaks. Lion, take me there, we need to check it out!"


It takes little time to find the swath fo destruction wrought around Tokyo Tower. And even less effort to know its signature smoky glass pattern. "Oh no, she is really doing it this time..." He can see the swirling effects and magical effort from friends and allies in the distance.

Lion begins to jump from spire to spire already placed, surely meant to deter warriors that would come from beyond the battlefield. A sudden crash! And out comes even more spikes! "Look out!" Steven says, quickly summoning a shield and deflecting what he can, though gets a nice tear up the outside of his arm for his slow reaction. "Guh... Hey! What is going on?!" he shouts towards the swirling melee!

As Steven struggles to get the sit-rep, Lion makes a high leap, and sense a passing dark rpesence. He unleashes a sonic roar at it in primal instinct! It surely cannot be a good thing. It doesn't smell right.

COMBAT: Steven Universe has used Just Lion Things on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Steven Universe has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi fails to counter Steven Universe's Just Lion Things, taking 23 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Tangle applied to Mikoto Minagi!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi's counterattack, Demonic Blade: Manoeuvre, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Steven Universe!

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Skinny Puppy - Killing Game https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MX750ArEb3E

A weapon.

Mikoto did say that, now and then: she was a tool, a weapon, a thing to be wielded and used. It took Homura's honesty for her to admit - she wasn't entirely happy about that.

But is this a weapon?

Eyes aglow, black and black and black, and it does not smirk as it cuts in, does not laugh - does not grimace, does not blink - as if it has no personal opinion on the pain it sees at all. It is all function, all strength, all obedience.

And those things which are not quite eyes turn, and narrow - at the sound of one distant cry.

Kagutsuchi's HiME.

... Mai..? Wait... what am I doing to Tokyo?!

The Witch sails overhead, and tries to cast a magic spell - but the Shadow leaps to a higher beam, and the light sears into the metal without touching its mass. Lightning comes, but with a crack - that's the sound of air protesting - the Shadow kicks off, and up again. Now it is higher: now it springs down on the Witch of Lost Ivy, blade falling like a judgement.

Down, and down, one way or another it cleaves through that lower girder with a crackle of residual electricity, and there is nowhere safe to dance, not here. Not with a blade - crashing in to cleave at one of the Chevalier's shoulders.

Yumi... Takeo... I'm hurting them..?

Leap, and leap again: more light sears towards the Shadow but it is darkness and it abjures the light, strange and wyrd or otherwise, and the Siren's call does not reach it. It charges along the beam, plants a heel to heft its blade to a heavy spin.

But there are girls who know the thing which was Mikoto very well.

It is at that precise moment of momentum - where it cannot easily control its movements - that the thorned vines lash down. The greenery bites into the darkness, sinks into that inky mire; but it does not drag at her weapon, as it leaves the skin it has borrowed. Away, and down, and away: the signal is pain. It is being struck.

... fight it?... come back? I...

It breaks away, but not before the Puella Magi's lash bites in - more times than it ought to have, even with the way it had to get its feet underneath it. Its sword plants in the steel as a storm of wind howls around it, unwilling to be unseated - and for that moment it is forced to stillness. It's only when a sonic roar comes in that it springs back into action, except --


There's just this moment --

-- where its swing hitches and shudders --

-- and the instincts of the magical beast win out, the waves echoing out and sending it spiralling back down into a cross-girder.

It stands. It corrects its error. Charging in for the Crystal Gem and his pet, sword slashing down in an over-the-shoulder movement which threatens to cleave the both of them. Springing up, and it charges the Wind Knight, now, a quick slash to try and send her off-balance again.

The Cloud Knight's regard, the Mage's conviction...

... a shield... for me..?

... it does not react. First the smaller, then the larger: pound-pound-POUND is the sound of Ohtori heels on steel when a powerful weight slams into them, leaping thunderously up until it can meet the Cloud Knight with a diagonal slice to annihilate her before her powers can manifest. Up, again, to that shield, and it will break it, claymore swinging down to crash into the Mage's barrier.

That girl - Mikoto - she's restless, at the back of its borrowed mind.

There is a way to solve the matter.

It turns, with hollow golden eyes, to regard the Puella Magi who has thwarted it - twice. There is no particular passion to its gaze, nor hatred; there is little of anything at all, excepting, perhaps, the anger. There is nothing satisfying here, in this thing.

It is satisified with its course, in its fashion.

... wait, am I... no! STOP IT!


It charges along the beam - cleaves straight through a girder as it charges, leaves the pieces to fall to the ground down below. Its lips lift over its teeth to show that wordless snarl, as it spins, and spins, and spins - twirling as it moves forward, in a dance too deadly to name.

Around, and around --

-- until it meets Eri Shimanouchi.

Tear the belly whole, and it knows what that smells like.

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Demonic Blade: Mark on Lancelot.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Demonic Blade: Maidenslayer on Yumi Ohzora.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Demonic Blade: Marauder on La Sirene de Diamant.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Demonic Blade: Manoeuvre on Vita Yagami.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Demonic Blade: Maul on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Demonic Blade: Mutilate on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: FINISHER! Mikoto Minagi has used Demonic Blade: Mezame on Eri Shimanouchi.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Demonic Blade: Mark on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has finished attacking.
COMBAT: Eri Shimanouchi counters Mikoto Minagi's Demonic Blade: Mezame with Footsteps of the Kodama, initiating a  BEAMWAR! Please see +help beamwar for further information.
BEAMWAR! Eri Shimanouchi and Mikoto Minagi's attacks collide. Mikoto Minagi has the advantage!
BEAMWAR! Now accepting mana bids for the first of three rounds! Now accepting new BEAMWAR entrants in this round only!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji perfectly dodges 24 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Demonic Blade: Mark, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Fuu Hououji's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Lancelot perfectly counters 36 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Demonic Blade: Mark, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Critical Counter!  Lancelot's Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!
COMBAT: Lancelot's counterattack, Lightning Impact, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Mikoto Minagi!
COMBAT: Vita Yagami cleanly braces 23 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Demonic Blade: Manoeuvre, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Vita Yagami's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora perfectly dodges 60 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Demonic Blade: Maidenslayer, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!
COMBAT: Steven Universe cleanly braces 34 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Demonic Blade: Mutilate, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Steven Universe's Block and Parry abilities activate!  Cripple applied to Steven Universe!
COMBAT: La Sirene de Diamant braces 15 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Demonic Blade: Marauder, taking 12 Fatigue damage!  Mikoto Minagi is Psyched!  La Sirene de Diamant's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Lera Camry neatly dodges 40 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Demonic Blade: Maul, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Stun applied to Lera Camry!

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

There is one thing Eri Shimanouchi is certain of whatever is controlling Mikoto.

That it won't leave things half-finished, given the opportunity.

And so as her lash stops spinning and she lets it settle, she finds herself back skipping, hopping, trying to keep her eyes on the thing as it carves a swath of bloody destruction.

And then - she sees the way it's hollow golden eyes regard her again.

And that is when she kneels down, upending her whip upside down. Keeping her eyes turned up, to look at it. Her expression equal parts defiance and fear.

And then it leaps. It slices through the girder.

You'd be hard pressed to see the way her whip crept into the cracks of concrete, chiseled its way into this urban garden.

At least until that moment when part of the tower starts to fall. There's a green glitter of magical power. Then suddenly something springs out, rising up to eclipse the shadow within its shadow.

It could be a vine, albeit a larger vine than could ever exist without magic, or it could be a titanic beanstalk of a fable that rises up high enough to be half as tall as Tokyo Tower - and as wide as one of the base supports.

It immediately starts to fall to meet the charge, like the limb of a nature spirit descending against her blade.

Even as large as it is though - it feels inadequate to that spinning charge. As it lowers down to crush Mikoto...

... Her spinning blade meets it. And it looks like to chop straight through.

However at the point where the shadow's blade meets plant matter, there's a flare of green energy that looks akin to a flame.

Reinforcing it. Pushing back against her effort to slice clean through in some impossible way.

And suddenly its enormous mass is warring with Mikoto's blade - trying to buy time to keep her at bay for a few seconds.

"No matter what happens next..."

She tries her best to put on a brave smile - as she delivers the same message that a man who was less than real once asked her to.

"... it's not your fault."

She says, eyes glimmering with tears. Because just because he might not have been real - makes it no less true.

And no less awful that she's echoing it.

There's time to help her though, and despite her words - her mood is not resignation. It's just that no matter how much things may wax towards hope with her now. There is always the knowledge, that it can go otherwise.

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

The blade meets the shield. It explodes with sparks and flame, energy crackling between the two. But Lera doesn't hold Ground against it for long. She rolls to the side, then -- and when she goes down, it's controlled... but fast. She slams into the earth in a three-point stance, hitting with such force that the ground shatters out from around her in a crater.

She looks up, then. She sees the blade hit the girder on Tokyo Tower, and then slam into plant matter -- and then into the energy that Eri uses to reinforce it. Lera's amber eyes widen, then she holds the shield up.

Light flashes out -- and a matrix of interlocked hexagons of golden light appear over the vines, shining bright, and helping hold the blade at bay.

BEAMWAR! Lera Camry adds her Strata Excelsior to Eri Shimanouchi's  BEAMWAR!
BEAMWAR! Lera Camry has placed her bid! Eri Shimanouchi and Mikoto Minagi still need to bid!

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

Yumi mutters something under her breath when the Shadow dodges her beam, and the iron is left clean and shining for its troubles, as if not harmed at all. But there's a more immediate concern--side to side, then up--the gray-haired Witch looks to find her quarry, and there she is, springing down with a judging weight of obsidian.

"Yumi, forward!" Tama calls, still perched on the front of Yumi's broom, and without waiting to question why Yumi's conveyance shoots ahead, letting the terrible greatsword slam through empty air instead of through her. The black cat's tail lashes back and forth while she remains perched, but Yumi turns suddenly--and watches the Shadow continue to work.

"Eri's right! She's in there, but it's not her in control!"

"You have to defeat the shadow to reach her!" Tama's voice is reminiscient of an older woman's, which is fair, given her age. But her dark green eyes settle on Vita, and then snap to the shadow again.

When Yumi comes to a stop it's near La Sirene, where she looks to the other girl. "I'm glad you're here," she says softly, but she can't finish what she was going to say while she took a breath because the Shadow is going straight for Eri--"NO!"

But Eri makes her counterattack, despite what she said, and that green energy blazes about Eri's conjured plant--keeping her at bay. And the cat, the Keeper of the Staff, calls, "Now! Here's your chance!"

Yumi doesn't think twice about it--instead she holds forth the staff in both hands, and hops off of her broom onto the ground, adopting a stable position as she holds the staff's green crystal aloft. From all around it, it takes in light. The lights on Tokyo Tower still there; the headlights of abandoned cars. The brilliance of magic; the light of the evening...

"Power shine in sacred light, banish this darkness from our sight! BLESSED SHINE!"

Yumi throws herself forward with the staff, and there's a faint ray that shoots towards the Shadow--before the entire thing abrubtly expands into a column of pure light that shears through the night, casting radiance as surely and brightly as noon.

"Eri, hang on! Mikoto, we're coming!"

BEAMWAR! Yumi Ohzora adds her Blessed Shine to Eri Shimanouchi's  BEAMWAR!

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xTzwdA4oAg

La Sirene de Diamant staggers for just a moment as the whirling dervish of death moves on. She is too hard to kill right now, perhaps. She breathes in through her teeth - forces herself to focus -

It is Eri Shimanouchi who the shadow contends with then.

The memory pains la Sirene for a moment. There is a memory of a filmstrip jittering - breaking, almost. The shapes, the patterns... there is irony there. A memory is triggered. It is enough to hurt, hurt as much as the cuts and the exhaustion.

La Sirene's eyes tighten.

No, she tells herself. Her right hand comes up to reach forwards - and she pauses for a moment, bringing her arm back, fussing with the strap of her gloves. No, la Sirene tells herself. take care of each other

"She's fine," la Sirene says to herself. It's cryptic, but sometimes she's like that.

Her eyes turn momentarily towards Lost Ivy, and to Tama. "Shadow?" she murmurs. The glove comes off.

(Music starts here.)

"Well," she says, "there is only one thing to do about that -"

La Sirene pivots round and flicks her glove upwards, to rest on top of that struggling stalk of immense plant life. She raises her bare right hand and curls it into a fist.

"In the name of the queen of the sea of tears," la Sirene says to herself, softly. "I beg of you to grant me this blessing and this boon here in a desperate moment. A heart ripe with sorrow struggles on razor's edge. Please hear this prayer and grant a poor fool in this planet among the world's edge a glimpse of this strength..."

The fist tighten. "La Sirene des Jardins," la Sirene de Diamant says. Her eyes squeeze tight shut. She visibly winces, but the glow around her intensifies - and it also becomes more visible. That same shimmering oddly-colored cast that was thrown by the near occasion of that invisible blade intensifies. It stretches out in a wet-paint streak from her towards the thrown glove, and the radiance shades steadily nearer towards something more visible. Towards the almost-painful purple-white of -

A growing light?

Alien halations bloom in the thrown glove, which starts to smoulder gently. The light lances outwards, glittering off of the obsidian.

It is one of those diffuse things, hard to take in at a casual glance from one second to the next, but it almost seems like dawn on a cloudy day as the light scatters round in crazy-quilt patterns, fueled by pain and grief and forgiveness. It is a latticework - but it might be as mundane as early morning on a cloudy day.

And have you ever seen your shadow on a cloudy day?

BEAMWAR! La Sirene de Diamant adds her Saturday's Delight to Eri Shimanouchi's  BEAMWAR!

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

The Shadowy figure leaps in, Demonic Blade flashing. Lancelot slides in with a, "LIGHTNING IMPACT!!" Lightning explodes as the twin blades of bright shining light known as Demon's Bane crash against a black Demonic Obsidian strike. There is a rapid series of strikes and parries that erupt in explosions of energy. One Dark. One Light. He turns to follow the Shadowy figure, the pair exchanging a second series of rapid strikes and energy flashing blasts that come from the blades colliding.

As the blades flash and crash, Lancelot hears Eri cry out that this ISN'T Mikoto. He narrows his eyes as she leaps away, and energy blasts and collides from multiple sources to focus in on Mikoto's .... Shadow? All that flashing energy, all that expended Lightning flowing around the Tokyo Tower and he grits his teeth, beginning to draw it all into himself. "Animaaaaaaaaaaas ~" He says, as a way of focusing that power. It swirls around him, beginning to make him glow with that power. His eyes flash and glow a vibrant neon blue that literally drip motes of lightning. In the middle of all that power swirling around and through him, burning him, making him feel as if his blood was pure skyfire, he calls out toward the Shadow, his voice strong and clear, cutting toward her.

"Mikoto!" He locks those eyes filled with pure power on her glowing eyes. "I know you can hear me. When I was lost, when nobody else was there for me, whenever I don't know who I am anymore, it's been you. You and Mai and Eri who have brought me back. Been my friends, my family. So fight it! Fight it like I know only you can, and come home! Be with your friends again!"

With a crack of thunder that shatters nearby car windows and shakes the ground Lancelot calls out, "TEMPESTAS!" And fires every bit of power he can into the strike started by Eri, and supported by Yumi, La Sirene, and Lera. He add everything he can, Lightning booming with peels of thunder, filling the very air with pure power.

BEAMWAR! Lancelot adds his Anima Tempestas to Eri Shimanouchi's  BEAMWAR!
BEAMWAR! Lancelot has placed his bid! Fuu Hououji, La Sirene de Diamant, Eri Shimanouchi, and Mikoto Minagi still need to bid!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

The Magic Knight of Wind seems to have been expecting that, peculiarly enough; she can see the attack coming, and she ducks tidily underneath it. Maybe not with quite as much panache as, say, a bold archaeologist dodging a deathtrap's blade, but she's more interested in surviving than looking cool.

And she's also more interested in making sure her *allies* survive than how cool any of them look, individually or in aggregate. The Shadow's attention gravitates towards Eri, and the Wind Knight gives chase, dodging and darting from one foothold to the next. She's sure of what the linchpin is - the key to break the puppet's strings - but until she can get a clear shot, or *one* of them can, the Shadow is at least pinned - and working together, they can turn the tide of battle from darkness to light.

"EMERALD ... !"

The Magic Knight of Wind begins her attack call even before she's reached her goal; the surge of magic and the rising wind buoy her transit from girder to wicked spire to girder, adding to her mobility when she needs it most. Finally, her boots alight on the last perch, and the green-clad Magic Knight turns to face her target, raising her arms and gathering the conjured winds.

"... CYCLONE!!!!"

Her arms sweep forward; the winds coalesce, and the gale is unleashed, weaving together with her allies' attacks, emerald eyes flashing behind the Wind Knight's glasses as she channels the whole of her will into the magical onslaught - not just reinforcing her own spell, but doing all that her power and will can allow to strengthen the others' without disrupting them.

BEAMWAR! Fuu Hououji adds her Emerald Cyclone: Full to Eri Shimanouchi's  BEAMWAR!

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

Steven has little time to react. Lion's attack spurns retribution from the shape of darkness that tears across the thorny landscape. In but moments a familiar blade comes in for a diagonal slice, aiming not to cleave a person or a friend, but to cleave meat.

A beauteous shield is raised to meet it firmly. "Stop! Hey, stop it! This is nonsense!" he shouts. He also remembers last time it was like this. Attempts at reason are meat with damning silence. A magical sound resonates at the impact of resistance, enough to cause Lion to skid some to the left, claws attempting to find purchase.

Steven has to lurch to one side suddenly, and drop the shield to a steep vertical angle. WIth nothing for the blade to bite, it should deflect downward, and Lion takes that moment to roar open a portal and take them through, snapping shut behind them. in a flare of pinks and blues.

hey reappear nearby, upon more of the dark obsidian bramble. "Close..." the boy says, visibly shaking. Still just as scary as last time. But someone is in there, isn't there? They know who they are, even if they may be dormant right now.

Maybe they just needed to remember the good times.

Some good friends, some bad laughs.

A plate of warm food, and a cool breese

Some sad moments.

And a happy reunion.

A vicious clash erupts between Eri and Mikoto. It isn't one that will end well if left to play out. "Gotta help her! Mush! Er, run, go that way please!" the boy says toward Lion, who takes the queue. They join the close proximity fray. "Mikoto! You gotta stop!" he calls desperately. He waits a few second in vain, hoping something may come of his call, but nothing does.

"Gotta help them," he says solemnly, before jumping in Lion's mane with a flash of pink fluorescent light. A barrel, seem so many times before is pulled out. Lion acting as the anchor for an ancient Gem weapon. "Never thought I would have to do this to a friend, but it has to be done!"

"Mikoto, you can change this! you don't have to let it win! You have to fight against it! Don't worry about you past, worry about the future!" He shouts.

"Because no one is perfect."

He feels like thiis is becomign a catchphrase or something.

"Because if every porck chop were perfect..." He hesitates for a moment. He worries for her safety. "...We wouldn't have hot dogs."

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

With Vita's power surging, she sees the dark shadow sweeping at her. It's another attempt to thwart her, not a focused assault. Vita's withstood this kind of attention even from the dark shadow that overtakes Mikoto at times before; with her Cartridges infused, she thrusts a hand forward and the Belkan magic shield forms instantly. Mikoto's crash against her leaves her fingertips and arms rattling but doesn't cause much more severe harm than Vita inflicts on herself with every swing. Still, she focuses on her breath for just a moment more.

Time for Mikoto to converge on Eri, whirling and spiraling with full murderous intent. Vita knows about spirals, of course.

"Eisen," she says, quietly, as the vines gather together in Eri's defense. "Raketenform."

Eri's colossus of vines matches forces with the scything sword, but a spear of crimson pierces the night - a roar of jet engines like an airliner right overhead, a light like a meteor's atmospheric ignition, a shockwave like a Pretty Cure's supersonic punch, and a small child hanging onto a polo hammer with a three-engine rocket booster on the back at the source of it all.

They don't call her the Crimson Iron Rider for nothing. Vita screams as the rocket roars her onwards: "Iron! Glass! Steel! Obsidian! The past, the future, shadows and light, whatever is holding you down! You saw me that day, but clearly you never listened to me! So I'll say it as many times as it takes!"

"I am Vita! The Cloud Knight of the Iron Hammer, Vita! And with Graf Eisen as my partner...!"

The chisel-tip of Vita's rocket-hammer drives directly into the incredibly fine edge of Mikoto's blade. Pushing at it with all her power.

                    "THERE IS NOTHING I CANNOT DESTROY!"

BEAMWAR! Vita Yagami adds her Raketenhammer to Eri Shimanouchi's  BEAMWAR!
BEAMWAR! Vita Yagami has placed her bid! Eri Shimanouchi and Mikoto Minagi still need to bid!
BEAMWAR! Eri Shimanouchi has placed her bid! Mikoto Minagi still needs to bid!
BEAMWAR! Mikoto Minagi has placed her bid!
BEAMWAR! Vita Yagami, Steven Universe, Fuu Hououji, Lancelot, La Sirene de Diamant, Yumi Ohzora, Lera Camry, and Eri Shimanouchi rally, overwhelmingly driving back Mikoto Minagi! Vita Yagami, Steven Universe, Fuu Hououji, Lancelot, La Sirene de Diamant, Yumi Ohzora, Lera Camry, and Eri Shimanouchi have the advantage!
BEAMWAR! Mikoto Minagi takes 22 damage! Vita Yagami, Steven Universe, Fuu Hououji, Lancelot, La Sirene de Diamant, Yumi Ohzora, Lera Camry, and Eri Shimanouchi each take 0 Fatigue damage!
BEAMWAR! Now accepting mana bids for the second of three rounds! No longer accepting any more BEAMWAR entrants!

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

A Dark Shadow abjures the light but here now is a strike from the shadows, brilliant in the dark. Up and up and up it towers, demands gardening...

Large - but a vine like any other. It will carve through.

And at first, it does.

Then it finds it must plant its heel - shift its grip - because Eri's vine is not just a vine. Its lips pull back a little further from its teeth, and on what passes for its face the grimace of effort is unpleasant.

No... no, not again! Please!

Lera adds a barrier of golden light, a thing the Shadow finds as it steadies its stance to force its blade down and through. Yumi's sunlight blooms in through the gaps, feeds the greenery, sears the abyss of its skin. Nori throws a glove - it lands atop the structure bearing down, and brings a strange cast to the light which shines.

Takeo cries out, and the Shadow's gaze snaps to him, the way it has for so few of these defenders. Its eyes narrow - its muscles stiffen, as overwhelming electricity crackles up the vine, through that black blade, into its arms.

... come home..? I... I promised!...

Fuu's cyclone wends about the vine and all around it, pushing back where the Shadow pushes forward. Steven speaks, and the words roll from it unobserved: the cannon whose pink light joins the fray, less so. Pink and strange and sunny there is so much light.

Can... can someone like me really change anything..?

The Cloud Knight of the Iron Hammer, Vita screams down, joins the top of the beanstalk as it threatens to topple over onto the Shadow. So much strength - focused to one point.

Its knees bend. It is all force - and it is being forced back.


It recalculates their might.

And, with greater strength, again it pushes back, as if to cleave through the lot of them.

BEAMWAR! Mikoto Minagi has placed her bid! Vita Yagami, Steven Universe, Fuu Hououji, Lancelot, La Sirene de Diamant, Yumi Ohzora, Lera Camry, and Eri Shimanouchi still need to bid!

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Ring a Bell - Tales of Vesperia OP - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spO3Klq3B7U

It's a desperate situation for her - but not so desperate for long. And then Lera's interlocking hexagons join her magic, shielding and reinforcing it.

And Lost Ivy adds in the blessed light of her spell.

And then La Sirene's Alien Light latticing around it.

A flare of pure electricity flooding Mikoto's space from Lancelot.

The Magic Knight of Wind bringing the force of her Emerald Cyclone to bear.

And Steven - joining the fray by firing a Laser Light Cannon.

And The Knight of the Iron Hammer - hurtling herself to crash against the blade.

Some of them she knows very well - some are good friends, some were once enemies, and some she barely knows, but that matters little compared... to their reason for being here.

Suddenly it's not just a smile trying to be brave.

"Hey Mikoto. You see this right?"

She asks not of the dark shadow trying to spoil their efforts and execute them without mercy, but the girl trapped within.

"We're all here."

Her grip around the braided handle of her whip increases subtly, and the flare of green energy reinforcing her spell grows to try to counter the Dark Infused Might of the creature pushing back against them.

"For you."

There's tension within her concentration, a bead of sweat rolling down her forehead.

"The next step is yours - and it may be a scary one... but..."

Suddenly she has to stop, as if her concentration is being sorely pressed, maintaining the spell's force against the Shadow's terrible power.

"... we're... not going anywhere."

BEAMWAR! Eri Shimanouchi has placed her bid! Vita Yagami, Steven Universe, Fuu Hououji, Lancelot, La Sirene de Diamant, Yumi Ohzora, and Lera Camry still need to bid!

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

The barriers that Lera has created begin to shatter. Interlocked hexagons of light pop out of existence, shattering into shards of light -- which wink away into nothing a moment later. The Shadow drives its sword down, the barrier cracking apart, and it almost blinks away entirely.

Lera grits her teeth. She thrusts both hands out, before her, shield held on her wrist -- secured there by a few bands of metal -- and it bobs. "C'mon, Mikoto--"

The hexagons begin to pop back into place. The ones that shattered reappear, filling the space they used to be -- connected to the ones that didn't, bridging the gap. Light crackles around both of Lera's hands, and over Broken Ground's surface.

"Even if we're seeing this... we're not giving up on you!"

BEAMWAR! Lera Camry has placed her bid! Vita Yagami, Steven Universe, Fuu Hououji, Lancelot, La Sirene de Diamant, and Yumi Ohzora still need to bid!

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

Yumi's light keeps crashing forth, constantly renewed from the green crystal orb atop the spiraling white wood of the Staff of Lost Ivy, and she has to hang on to keep it directed. It's more than she can handle physically, under normal circumstances... but that hardly matters here, and now.

"You hear that!?" Yumi asks Mikoto within. "We're not going anywhere! And I'm not, either! Everything I said before, I meant!" She smiles, and it's almost a smirk, as she considers the future, too. As Steven says... "I want to be part of that future, with you! For as long as I can!" She listens to Takeo, of more of Mikoto's family. To Lancelot, as he brings lightning to go with light.

Tama, meanwhile, responds to La Sirene, raising her voice over the din, "That's right! A shadow that's taken control! But not if you can all push through!"

But Yumi herself tightens her grip on the Staff, and closes her eyes. "...Lost Ivy," she murmurs. "This won't just end in destruction. I won't... let it!" Her eyes open as she pushes back.

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

La Sirene's arm raises upwards - her other moves along with it - the light strobes and pulsates out of her, a living thing, something with an oceanic tide and pulse.

Who is the person she called on? A goddess, a ghost? An old woman with a job she holds because it is important to hold to your responsibilities? A person who might, if she had been born on this side of this planet, known and understood Eri Shimanouchi?

I hope you're right, la Sirene thinks, about Eri, and she tilts her head back. "Come now," she murmurs. "Step out with us into the light."

BEAMWAR! La Sirene de Diamant has placed her bid! Vita Yagami, Steven Universe, Fuu Hououji, Lancelot, and Yumi Ohzora still need to bid!
BEAMWAR! Yumi Ohzora has placed her bid! Vita Yagami, Steven Universe, Fuu Hououji, and Lancelot still need to bid!

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

The Wind Knight shifts her stance, just a little bit; her arms, by contrast, waver not an iota as she keeps funneling her will and her magic, and her gaze remains intently focused.

Not on the Shadow as a whole.
Not on the sword.
And not on the girl who's veiled by the darkness that rides her.

But she *knows* the girl is there, and the Wind Knight addresses her - calmly, quietly, in a voice soft enough that the magics in play *should* drown it out. "Mikoto-san, we know - *I* know - that as much as you cherish your brother, there's a part of you that doesn't want to keep hurting us. If you were wholly devoted to striking us down ... he wouldn't need *that*."

The pendant, glowing darkly, glimmering magenta. *That's* what the Magic Knight's attention is focused on.

"Everyone ... that pendant is the key! If we can destroy it, then we'll cut the leash!"

And the tempest intensifies, like a storm wind that wears away even a mountain ...

BEAMWAR! Fuu Hououji has placed her bid! Vita Yagami, Steven Universe, and Lancelot still need to bid!

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

Raketenform's three-engine rocket blasts steadily, but the steady grind of chisel against obsidian perfection starts to rattle. Vita is an expert, a veteran, and that is the only reason that through gritted teeth she keeps the clash in balance.

"Mikoto!" she grates out, every muscle in her small body taught beyond its limits. She will hurt, tomorrow. But she doesn't plan to regret it.

Her eyes scan the shadow, seeking for where Mikoto's should be.

"We're here! I'm here!"

Her fingers tighten, every ounce of her strength pouring into holding that sword at bay from scything through the lot of them.

"I don't plan to give up on you! But you need..." She almost feels her wrist slip. She shifts it, more subtly than one would think Vita capable of, and her eyes rivet to the darkness where Mikoto's face should be. "You NEED to want this! It doesn't work without that!"

The light of the blazing rockets burns slowly brighter.

"I know how much it hurts! I know it seems impossible! But IT ISN'T!"

BEAMWAR! Vita Yagami has placed her bid! Steven Universe and Lancelot still need to bid!

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

It all started on the beach.

Not even a week after the trip to Okinawa. Steven was still so new to the area. Unfamiliar with the people and their customs. He worried back then. About something or other on how one would greet new neighbors, or how to approach them. Buttign the best foot forward!

She was there, too.

A new face was there too. She was looking for something.

Something important.


Lion begins to add his roar to the application of attacks as well, seemingly fully invested in this encounter for soem reason.

"No one is ever too far gone to change, Mikoto! No matter what is done, you can make things right! You can make your own choices, you don't have to listen to others and have them made for you!"

He does his best to keep the weapon aimed and pointed, but it is extremely heavy to aim. Lion toon, is starting to waver under the pressure of keeping it stable.

"Don't worry about what's been done. You said it yourself. We just gotta keep moving forward."

BEAMWAR! Steven Universe has placed his bid! Lancelot still needs to bid!

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

Gritting his teeth, Lancelot begins to walk forward, his eyes flare in power as he does so like twin orbs that crackle with pure lightning. His hand is outstretched, facing toward the blasts and sending all that he has into it. He walks steadily, slowly, step after step until he is standing next to Eri. He feels the power flowing through him, the skyfire burning him slightly, his cape snapping in the concussive force of every peeling crack of thunder he unleashes.

He meets those eyes as they snap toward him and he nods to her. Silent affirmation of what he says, a silent promise of a safe place full of warmth, and because of who the two of them are, a silent promise of food.

Steven's Hot Dogs not withstanding.

He drops to one knee, but he smiles at Mikoto. Not the shadow, not the thing that has her shape and her blade. Not the demon on the outside. But the girl inside. The friend, and his Sword Sister. The person he knows he can trust to be by his side. To stand with him when all else fails.

He smirks, because he knows Eri will hear him and likely just shake her head, but he says calmly and with all the warmth and love he feels for Mikoto. "Come on Mikoto-chan. Do it for the Ramen."

He winks. "And for the bacon."

BEAMWAR! Lancelot has placed his bid!
BEAMWAR! Vita Yagami, Steven Universe, Fuu Hououji, Lancelot, La Sirene de Diamant, Yumi Ohzora, Lera Camry, and Eri Shimanouchi press their advantage, tenaciously forcing back Mikoto Minagi! Vita Yagami, Steven Universe, Fuu Hououji, Lancelot, La Sirene de Diamant, Yumi Ohzora, Lera Camry, and Eri Shimanouchi have the advantage!
BEAMWAR! Mikoto Minagi takes 8 damage! Vita Yagami, Steven Universe, Fuu Hououji, Lancelot, La Sirene de Diamant, Yumi Ohzora, Lera Camry, and Eri Shimanouchi each take 5 Fatigue damage!
BEAMWAR! Now accepting mana bids for the third of three rounds! No longer accepting any more BEAMWAR entrants!

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

Everyone's... here for me..?

Obsidian glitters in the dark and there's something glittering on the Shadow's cheeks, too.

... I - I want...

Its maw gapes, panting openly as it stares down the lot of them with stark and impersonal rage. A Shadow has no connection to the girls of Tokyo - no feelings for the enemies it defeats.

Give up.

... n...no!

The command is known. The command is understood. It will do whatever it takes.

And those regrets at the back of its mind are still so distant, so easily silenced.


It cleaves. Against rocket-force and roses, a hurricane and a sunny day, hexagonal shield and lightning, a vine like a building and strange light it cleaves. A Dark Shadow can fell titans in a single blow; it was so designed.

It cannot fell this.

Even as it pours more strength into its assault, there is something which trembles at her muscles, beyond the tingle of electricity or the scouring of so much light or the flensing gale of wind.

BEAMWAR! Mikoto Minagi has placed her bid! Vita Yagami, Steven Universe, Fuu Hououji, Lancelot, La Sirene de Diamant, Yumi Ohzora, Lera Camry, and Eri Shimanouchi still need to bid!

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

"Mikoto!" Lera calls out.

A hexagonal shield on the vines shatters. Another, and another, and another. They break apart into shards of light that start to rise upward; start to expand outward, and there is a strain in Lera's face and posture, as she does. Her fingers tense, curling a little, and a Midchildan circle spins under her feet. Runes flow and rotate, with the movements.

Those shards of light slam back down. The hexagonal pattern on her barrier, reinforcing Eri's vines, refuses to stay broken. The shield reknits, bit by by biut, hexagons appearing in flashes -- and they lock into place.

"C'mon! You can fight it! I know you can! We're fighting it, with you!"

BEAMWAR! Lera Camry has placed her bid! Vita Yagami, Steven Universe, Fuu Hououji, Lancelot, La Sirene de Diamant, Yumi Ohzora, and Eri Shimanouchi still need to bid!

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

The cloak snaps and whips with each boom of thunder. Power pulses with each of those booms as pure white lightning tinged with blue at the edges. It whips and snaps and sends tendrils of lightning along it's path. On one knee, the power swirling around him, through him, and coursing down that pure bolt of lightning, Lancelot's eyes begin to fade. Where once neon blue power glowed like miniature orbs of ball lightning, they begin to wither as the knight sends everything he has into the blast try and save his friend.

He smiles at Mikoto. It's the same smile he gave earlier in the evening, real and genuine. "We're here. We're not going anywhere. So. Just Fight it, fight back this shadow that thinks it controls you." He shakes his head. "It 'can't' control you. Because you are the strongest woman I know, and I I know Mai misses you, and I bet, you miss her too." He throws the last of himself, the last of his power into the lightning bolt that he's feeding into the attack started by Eri. "So. Let's go home eh?"

BEAMWAR! Lancelot has placed his bid! Vita Yagami, Steven Universe, Fuu Hououji, La Sirene de Diamant, Yumi Ohzora, and Eri Shimanouchi still need to bid!

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

"You have to come back," la Sirene says under her breath.

"You have to come out of this shadow," she continues as the light grows. She stays in that pose she struck - is it dynamic, gorgeous, yes, but it also means she can stand there and not have to show the staggering pain and weakness she has felt since her initial affray of arms with Mikoto.

It would not do to collapse at this moment, would it? Oh, nobody would be mad. But la Sirene must follow her own ideals.

"Because I want to see a Mikoto --"

The pulsing light intensifies, grows. La Sirene's pale eyes roll back to the whites and flutter shut.

"I want to meet a Mikoto -- without tears in the back of her heart--!!"

BEAMWAR! La Sirene de Diamant has placed her bid! Vita Yagami, Steven Universe, Fuu Hououji, Yumi Ohzora, and Eri Shimanouchi still need to bid!

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Eri struggles with every second to maintain the spell. The gem on her head darkening to a point that's uncomfortable. She can feel it. She knows that feeling far too well for comfort, even if the consequences are different.

It's far too much magic she's expending, and she does not have as much as she did in reserve.

Yet in a strange sort of irony, she realizes it would not matter how much she expended. A pile of grief seeds would not have won this battle but instead might have lost it given what toll it would have taken on Mikoto to have them.

It might have saved her, but it wouldn't save Mikoto.

What an awful thought that might have been.

The blade bites into the titanic vine as the flare of green magic begins to dim subtly, the Puella Magi beginning to become breathless from the strain of holding onto this for so long, as Miroku starts to dig in - starts to cut through.

She takes a little inspiration from all of them. Some call for the pendant, others stand at her side, others stand on their own - bringing their own perspective to the fray.

"Think to yourself... what you want... and let it matter... for the first time."

And then, she pushes herself, like an athlete that's gotten her second wind, a burst of magic thrumming inside of her massive display of power, causing it to press back.

"... and if what you want... is to come home..."

It's a dangerous word, given what Mikoto has been told her whole life is her home. And yet she must trust in the concept anyhow. The idea of it. That it will reach Mikoto.

"... then we'll be the first to tell you... welcome home."

BEAMWAR! Eri Shimanouchi has placed her bid! Vita Yagami, Steven Universe, Fuu Hououji, and Yumi Ohzora still need to bid!

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

The combat continues. The conflux of events was leading to a devastating conclusion. Steven and Lion can't keep up this kind of pressure! Either Eri or Mikoto will die if they aren't careful!

"You know, Mikoto! I finally figured it out," he shouts.

The question. She knows the one. One posed so long ago.

"I finally figured out what a sword can be good for besides killing. It can be a symbol! A symbol that people who would hang it o na rack or in a shrine do so to give it honor for the things it may have to be used for one day!"

He thinks about that story Pearl told him one time about the blade. "It shows that the person who has it can and will use it to protect those who can't protect themselves! And the sight of it inspires others not to worry, to know that eveything will be okay, because the person with the sword will be there for them when they need it the most!"

He exhales as he does his best to hold it steady for a final few seconds he can manage.

"Thats what I think a sword can be used for."

BEAMWAR! Steven Universe has placed his bid! Vita Yagami, Fuu Hououji, and Yumi Ohzora still need to bid!

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

Yumi finds herself struggling to keep up the spell, breathing more heavily and feeling dazed through the sheer endurance required, despite her magical efforts. Nevertheless, she hangs on, looking at the shadow again and gritting her teeth with something like a smirk of defiance. "We'll see you... soon, Mikoto! And we'll do this as long as it takes! As many times as it takes!"

She closes her eyes, and focuses on that single wish, before lifting from the air, suspended by the sheer power she's still trying to use, braid whipping in an unseen wind as her brilliant light, so gentle to everything but shadows, continues to clash with everyone against that one terrible cut.

BEAMWAR! Yumi Ohzora has placed her bid! Vita Yagami and Fuu Hououji still need to bid!

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

Even for a Magic Knight, whose powers are fueled by her belief, keeping a single spell - especially one as potent as the Emerald Cyclone - sustained as an ongoing onslaught takes its toll. Despite the weariness starting to eat at her focus, though, the Knight of Wind maintains her portion of the assault, even as her mind settles on a few key points - the points from which she can keep drawing her determination not to let up.

The times they've fought side-by-side. The times they've spoken with each other as friends. Even the few times they've been enemies.

"You are more than a weapon, Mikoto-san. You have *always* been more than a weapon, more than just an arm for the sword you carry. A brother who sees you only as his weapon does not value your innermost heart ... the heart which is *you*, your most essential and important self. Break the leash ... please, be with the people who value you for *you*, not for just your power!"

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

Vita feels the tension all down her neck, into her spine. Her arms are stinging, her ears are ringing. A Dark Shadow does nothing.

The others do as Vita did before, calling out to Mikoto, calling out for her to fight from within, calling out for her to believe.

Vita sucks in a breath, and her eyes, nearly glowing blue beacons in the chaotic light of a thousand clashing magics, screams, "You're watching, aren't you!?"

Her teeth clench. "The ones like you are always watching! Do you see through her eyes!? Or is her even her field of vision not good enough for you!?" she spits it, defiantly seeking for where Mikoto's eyes should be within the dark shadow.

"I guess it doesn't matter. Watch closer. You...and you, Mikoto. Watch me work!" And then she tilts her head back and shrieks to be heard clear on the next island over: "GRAF EISEN!"


The hammer head CHUNKS down, and then slips back up, blasting another Cartridge worth of power into Eisen's supply.

And then the three-engine rocket booster on the back half of Graf Eisen ignites like a star, and the chisel tip begins to turn, putting a whole new dimension of torque into the clash between her and the dark shadow's blade.

She will pierce through. The blade, the shadow - the sorrow and darkness - and that amulet, too, if she must. This, she believes.

BEAMWAR! Vita Yagami has placed her bid!
BEAMWAR! Vita Yagami, Steven Universe, Fuu Hououji, Lancelot, La Sirene de Diamant, Yumi Ohzora, Lera Camry, and Eri Shimanouchi press their advantage, their Raketenhammer, Laser Light Cannon, Emerald Cyclone: Full, Anima Tempestas, Saturday's Delight, Blessed Shine, Strata Excelsior, and Footsteps of the Kodama exploding through Mikoto Minagi's Demonic Blade: Mezame for a total of 752 Fatigue damage! Vita Yagami, Steven Universe, Fuu Hououji, Lancelot, La Sirene de Diamant, Yumi Ohzora, Lera Camry, and Eri Shimanouchi are victorious!
BEAMWAR! Fuu Hououji, Lera Camry, and Mikoto Minagi are unable to keep fighting!

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> VNV Nation - Carry You https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_fLkbxnoGA

Is something watching, through those screens which show all Tokyo's suffering? Watching from below - as its weapon wanes up above..?

A Dark Shadow does not say. It does not say a thing.

Up goes a vine which cannot be carved through, thanks to a hundred hexagonal defences. A vine with lightning about it, rose-light and sunlight and strange light, braced by wind, joined by a hammer like a rocket.

I... I want to protect everyone!

Errant thoughts at the back of its borrowed mind, and it narrows its eyes and bares its teeth, and it does not cease its quest to spill the girls' blood.

I want to rely on everyone, too!

Its ankle shifts on the steel, knees sinking deeper, its central weight lowering as it manages the force bearing down upon it, and it holds.

I want to be Mikoto!

It holds, a weapon held in hands which dwell far from here.

I want to smile!

It holds, and perhaps there is a pained shade to its grimace.

I want to come home..!

A Dark Shadow does not want anything. It fulfills. But if it were to want anything at all - right now - it would be the strength to push them back, to carve through the lot of them. It cannot. It cannot - because cartridges are being loaded - and the precious resource of magic is being consumed - and everywhere, everywhere, they are pushing through. Light pierces; the vine impacts, made impenetrable by hexagonal lattice; the wind howls. Lightning travels up and through. A hammer crashes down.

Obsidian is black glass, the remnants of earth's wounds. And when glass is placed under such unimaginable strain - it shatters. A splintering from the very heart, cracks which leak shadow. They fall down over the half-moon setting of gold; the lesser bead below splinters in turn. And then - all at once --

Not with a whimper does a magical artifact fail. There is power, here, dark power which forces itself outwards all at once, a grim overload of this engine of suffering. It blows everything away from the Shadow - it blows the Shadow back, too. The core of the explosion, though, is not darkness. It is white: white in the manner of harsh light, ten inches of snow made blinding by a sun which will not melt any of it, high-beam headlights shining directly to the eyes. ... it's white like the arcs of lightning which crack from those dark portals Miroku plunges into, when Mikoto calls upon her obsidian magic.

The sort of light which would cast a Dark Shadow, just as it has always twinned hers.

Released all at once, it is light which drowns out a Dark Shadow in its entirety. It does not scream, at its end: it does not howl, or snarl, or curse the light of love. The only hint of its agonal expression... is how wide that bright gold light is, where its eyes ought to be.

But that cruel light is not the only source which shines, right now.

Magical might so often generates brightness - and that light washes over everything. Some of it is green, and some of it is orange, and some of it is red, and some of it is pink, and some of it is purple, and some of it is yellow - so many colours, a rainbow to rival anything the sky could show on one of those early summer days. It falls over steel and repairs it; it falls over FootTown and restores it to glory; it falls over the streets, the bus stops, the offices, the cafes, anything and everything which has felt the prick of an obsidian sting.

It's okay. Everything is going to be okay.

It is Mikoto - Mikoto who makes noise, as she finishes falling back to a lower beam, one hand flying down to catch herself as the other holds her blade. She gasps, as if she has never filled her lungs with air before; the air rushes hungry past her lips for a long moment, as she stares at the group before her with vacant astonishment.

It feels different, this time, to all the others. She pushes herself standing, and finds she moves easier, carrying less.

Mikoto looks down at herself, where that pendant ought to be. "... it's gone..?" Realisation dawns in her eyes, as her free hand comes up in that familiar gesture - and now there is no bead for her to grasp, to hold close to her chest. She tries to find it, traces the place where thread red as fate bound her neck, the place it rested near her heart. There is nothing left to find.

She takes a breath; she holds it, as her hand presses in against her chest just as it has so many times. Her obsidian heart does not feel so heavy, as it beats in steady tune. As if - perhaps...

Mikoto releases her breath. Her hands lower to her sides. Those fingers spread open. At her right side, she releases Miroku, and it clatters down to a lower rung still.

His orders were a geas, and the spell shatters like a million obsidian shards, as she looks up to them. "... I don't believe in my Lord Brother!" This - this is an act of true courage, the kind she has found so difficult to grasp. As she finds it, she does not clutch her blade. More ineffably, so much more strong - she holds the truth.

Yes, she loves him, but for the first time she feels her mind clear and she can fully acknowledge how sickly that love is. The dark and all its fell details slip from her mind - the light of day shines in. She realises the loss. All at once she shakes her head, fiercely, braids whipping at her face as her hands curl in sharp gesture. Every time before this, she has insisted she is leaving - going home - returning to his side. Now, freed from magenta light: "I don't want to go back there! It's not home!" It is a different answer to Fuu's question than what she gave before. Now she can finally think plainly, she can recognise that she must get away from him, just as everyone has said. If that means forgetting the path, and all it led to --

Here, now, she really does make a choice. "I don't like making everyone suffer!" Mikoto was ever raised not to hesitate. She does not hesitate now, and truth is a wellspring. "It's not right! It hurts! I don't wanna hurt anyone any more!" She does not want to hurt; she does not want them to hurt. This is a world free of the horror they faced down, and even though she can't quite remember why it turned out okay...

It's a warm thought.

And it is warmth she wished for, in Tanabata - warmth, and peace, and friendship. She always wanted those things; now her shackles lie shattered, and for the first time she can reach out without flinching back, fingers splaying as her weight lurches forward. "Everyone..!"

Thank you, the word says - I'm sorry - I want your help - I still want to be friends. It is all emotion, packed loosely to the shape of meaning, relief and love and realisation.

There is so much she has to say - needs to say.

There is one thing which comes before any other.

"... I wanna come home!"

And the first person to embrace her - will find her boneless in their arms, unburdened but still exhausted from her months of toil.

She'll be fine.

She just needs some rest... and ramen.

<Pose Tracker> Eri Shimanouchi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.


"...Welcome home - Mikoto."

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

The sword clatters, and Lancelot leaps forward, blue light surrounding him as the knight becomes the boy once more and he simple catches the girl he loves like a sister in a hug that is both fierce and gentle. He doesn't speak.

Because Eri says everything that needs to be said.

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

Lera Camry looks down, watching as the last of the darkness fades -- as Mikoto speaks. The obsidian breaks, maybe, and she cracks a smile. But, like she has many times before, she has used up a lot of energy.

She blinks her eyes happily. Or, maybe...


And then:

<The flight spell's ending-->


A suddenly not-very-magical Midchildan teenager slams down into Vita from above.

She is already snoring.

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

Vita's hammerblow converges with the rest, and Vita breaks through as she always does. A heartbeat after the clash is broken, Vita turns Eisen sharply, whirling powerfully around to a brake; but even with a masterful air brake, Vita's still a good ways out from the Tower thanks to her final burst, and she finds herself gradually floating back toward it, watching as Mikoto's friends gather around her.

Mikoto's wailing defiance leaves Vita smiling. She levers Eisen up and slings him over her shoulder, grinning. "Yeah. There's the hard part," she says, confidently. She opens her mouth to call something else.

Then Lera lands on her Vita emits a startled squawk.

About thirteen seconds later, way, way at the base of the tower: "What do you EAT!?"