2020-11-22 - Hurdle Heartbreak 2

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Hurdle Heartbreak 2

The battle for Elsa Gray's Pure Heart, against Eudial and Hurdler, continues. Everyone gets an evil feeling. Chibi-Usa tries to get help for Hotaru and winds up needing help instead.


Pink Moon Stick, Steven Universe, Setsuna Meioh, Usagi Tsukino, Haruka Tenoh, Michiru Kaioh, Fuu Hououji, Hotaru Tomoe, Chibi-Usa Tsukino


Ajinomoto Stadium

OOC - IC Date:

11/22/2020 - 10-12-15

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Ajinomoto Stadium +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
  Though its primary purpose is soccer/football games (the Japanese use both    
  terms for the same popular sport), Ajinomoto Stadium is used for many         
  different sports year-round. One of the largest stadiums in Tokyo at 50,000   
  seats, Ajinomoto is a donut-shaped disk of white poles located near the       
  Chofu Airport, and sunken partially into the ground to avoid disrupting the   
  planes, such that its playing field is considerably below ground level. Two   
  vast tiers of seating ring the field, which during soccer season is a         
  rectangle of green grass. During rainy days or the hotter periods of Tokyo's  
  scorching summers, a panorama roof extends to shield viewers from the         
  Ajinomoto is unusually well-integrated into the Chofu community, and is       
  often put to other purposes. It is an emergency station during extreme        
  weather events, but when the weather is pleasant instead of dangerous, its    
  law is often converted into a sprawling open-air flea market, with tables     
  and stalls selling used goods to bargain hunters.                             
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji transforms into Wind Knight!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has loaded her saved combat state! She is now ready to take on 1 opponent!
COMBAT: Setsuna Meioh transforms into Sailor Pluto!
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto transforms into Setsuna Meioh!
COMBAT: Michiru Kaioh transforms into Sailor Neptune!
COMBAT: Sailor Neptune has loaded her saved combat state! She is now ready to take on 1 opponent!
COMBAT: Haruka Tenoh transforms into Sailor Uranus!
COMBAT: Sailor Uranus has loaded her saved combat state! She is now ready to take on 1 opponent!
<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Daimon Battle #1 - Sailor Moon S OST - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZEx2neikps




The Magic Knight of Wind's arrow closes in from the left; Steven's shield from the right; together, they flush the daimon out of hiding. Like the dusty outline of Hotaru's body, the pink mist of her afterbirth is left behind, but she herself is gone.

Oh, no, there she is.

Skidding to a half a few feet away, HURDLER is revealed to be a gorgeous pink elf in a black-and-white-striped (referee...) bikini bottom and arm warmers. Her bikini top... or maybe just her entire bust... is a gigantic, forward-facing white sneaker.

Also she has regular sneakers on her feet, and bangles around the terminus of all four limbs plus matching hoop earrings, and a giant pink bow at the back of her fluffy purple hair that honestly wouldn't look out of place of Minako Aino. In fact, NONE of this look would look that out of place on V.

Well... not much of it, anyway.

"HURDler," she calls again, and honestly it sounds a lot more like HURT-ler. Thrusting her arms to either side, ticker tape explodes out of her palms, obviously sticky and supernaturally strong. It heads straight for her two first engagements, Fuu and Steven, in a twist on the former's favorite play. And besides trying to tie them right up, it impacts crackingly hard. It's very rude.

It's obviously what she's going to have to do to Elsa, in the end.

And that is -- immediately -- her main focus. Props to any youma that remembers to obey their lieutenant's main command while surrounded by this many opponents. She blurs through the enemy lines, momentarily Elsa's opposite in that way; though her monstrous speed may be graceful, it is not beautiful, and the invisibility it renders her is a mercy to the eye. Her passing ruffles hair and skirts and, not incidentally, leaves FIRE in her wake, nominally frictional but juiced up a little extra with the power of Hell, or whatever strange origins these creatures really enjoy.

On the far side, she grabs the red hurdle off her butt (it was pinned there like a senshi's bow) and chucks it, javelin-like, in the runner's path. It turns out to not so much detach as clone itself, and soon a spectacularly difficult field of hurdles is in the runner's path.

Well, at least she's truth in advertising.


When it turns out that Four Out Of Five Schoolchildren Are Magical Girls, Eudial isn't really that surprised. She's too veteran now. They've tangled too many times. She's made some statistical models based on her many battles and they suggest exactly such a ratio, with the added twist that it isn't so much that 80% of all Tokyo teenagers are deadly combatants, it's just that 80% of all Tokyo teenagers are the same dozen kids.

And she's fine with it, for some overworked, grimly competent value of fine, as long as it's just the Magic Knight of Wind and The Quartz Universe and even, honestly, Sailor Mars and Sailor Moon. She could lie, like Elsa did, out of appreciation for their odd reliability, their peculiar breed of loyalty, as regards interfering with her plans -- and say they were her big problem, her grand nemeses. But it would be a lie. Sorry ladies. Sorry Steven.

It's the appearance of Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune, who are so bold, so dismissive, of the threat that she poses their well-being, that they straight-up transform right in front of her, that makes her gnash her teeth.

Why is it always THEM. Why are THEY always here?

Also like Elsa, she has never beaten them to a Pure Heart Crystal. It is ONLY because all her targets have been duds that they haven't absconded with the fruit of her all-nighter labors, her endless analysis of the denizens of Tokyo, teenagers and otherwise.

How utterly tiresome.

Well, maybe today will be different. Something about all this feels more personal than coincidental. And making things personal means making mistakes. She's constantly trying to drill that into her dumbass kohai Mimete, with zero success.

Speaking of, EVERYTHING'S personal for Sailor Moon all the time. She particularly presents herself directly in Eudial's path, and she obligingly shifts the car back into gear and stomps on the accelerator with all the rage she can muster. Her red heel hits the pedal with so much force that it punctures it.

She leaves it behind.

Eudial explodes out of the car in a roll, curling her body around the gun's fragile and complex architecture to protect it as one might a child. She comes up on one knee, and is in firing position with blinding speed.

"Acting with irritation," Eudial snaps back, "Eudial, first of the Witches 5!"

She pulls the trigger.

<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.


'We have to go.'

'But that's all I owe you.'

Cold words echo between Elsa's ears as she pounds turf desperately to lead these monsters away from her fans. And her friends. Old friends. Former... friends... maybe...?

She shakes her head unhappily, sending her magenta mane in all directions like a halo, desperate to clear it. The finish line may be her unfamiliar new acquaintance now but even she would lose to someone who isn't Haruka if she ran with a brain full of thoughts. This is not the time. When this is over... maybe they can... deal with everything.

Not now.

Her eyebrows lower like the crossing bar at an intersection...

...and then the train comes through.

<SoundTracker> Pure Heart Crystal - Sailor Moon S OST - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVKolCf7pzM

Accelerating, she leaps over the first hurdle. The second. The fifteenth. At some point she's empty again, empty and perfect, her form, her velocity, her height, so empty that she almost -- maybe -- for once in her life -- is nothing at all but empty air in motion, nothing at all but wind.

That's the same point where she forgot that someone was trying to gun her down.

Her path hemmed in, defined, by the track -- the trap -- the daimon made, she's suddenly an easy target. Unsafe at any speed.

Eudial's shot takes her in the back mid-hurdle. Her phenomenally athletic form is ruined in midair, not by the force of the blow but by the suddenness of her unconsciousness.

She goes down hard.

And, hanging in the air where Elsa once was -- like the dust, like the mist, and not like either of them, not at all -- is the glittering, gorgeous red-pink perfection of her Pure Heart.

COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Finish Line Web on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Finish Line Web on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Track On Fire on Sailor Uranus.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Track On Fire on Sailor Neptune.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has cancelled their attack on Steven Universe. If there are more attacks that need to be +cancelled,
please hold all +attacks until the process is complete.
COMBAT: Setsuna Meioh transforms into Sailor Pluto!
COMBAT: Steven Universe transforms into Serious Steven!
COMBAT: Steven Universe has loaded him saved combat state! He is now ready to take on 1 opponent!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Finish Line Web on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Vehicular Manslaughter on Sailor Pluto.
COMBAT: Sailor Uranus partially dodges 7 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Track On Fire, taking 28 Fatigue damage!  Sailor
Uranus's Flash ability activates!
COMBAT: Sailor Neptune braces 17 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Track On Fire, taking 14 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Neptune's
Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Steven Universe braces 16 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Finish Line Web, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
Steven Universe's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto braces 23 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Vehicular Manslaughter, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Critical
Hit!  Pink Moon Stick is Psyched!  Sailor Pluto's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji dodges 9 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Finish Line Web, taking 14 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Fuu
Hououji's Fade and Flash abilities activate!  Tangle and Trap applied to Fuu Hououji!
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

Steven's shield flies through the air, as if made for it-- and perhaps fro mthe depth's of Rose's soul it was. It practically sings through the air current and a rising arc, cutting low to the ground before drifting upward. It cuts into the emergent cloud like a knife. An impact sound rings, though the boy is fairly certain a simple shield throw would cause a creature such as a Daimon to bend the knee so quickly.

Indeed, the foe emerges to have its turn on the battlefield. "Oooh... she's so pink...!" The boy marvels. Is it appropriate to be enamored with a summoned badguy? Err, badlady?

Unfortunately there is little time to consider, as colorful tape explodes towards him and Fuu! In a momentary reaction, a tiny bubble shield arrives just as the tape begins to strangle, using it to push away and slip out, liek some kind of chunky little weasel. Which is good! Because boy that stuff looked sticky.

"Hey! That's a yellow flag, missy!" Steven shouts, pointing an accusing finger at the Hurdler!

A gunshot somewhere behind the boy gets his attention, and sees Elsa hit the floor, limp. "You don't aim the starting gun at people! Rude! Why aren't you following any of the rules?!" he shouts toward Eudial, perhaps finding deaf ears to a small childs incessant nagging.

Fine, just as well. Hurdler had to be stopped, and so the Shield is re-summoned with a magical ting-and-flourish. Best to provide a hurdle as well to this Daimon, and Steven charges at her, shield in front!

There is a good chance she may just leap over, but hey, a distraction is a distraction! It is also good exercise, which is the true objective of today!

...And not letting people get shot.

COMBAT: Steven Universe has used Shield Slam on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Pluto [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Eudial's arrival kicks clods of turf everywhere, and rather than surprise, Setsuna experiences a deepening of foreboding, like scales which have taken on weight and tilted further. The Outer Senshi chased the tides of portent here, or perhaps were chased.

Who cannot run forever? The star athlete whose history with her sisters fairly hummed in the air between them, or the girl with the large dark eyes who is the dear friend of Pluto's best friend? Her sisters are staying after all, it seems. That's when she hears it, and finds herself a step forward without having consciously commanded herself to move:

That wail for HELP! in a voice that goes right to the bottom of Setsuna's deep, deep heart.

Her heel drags back again. She retreats against that gravity to the unoccupied shadow of a great column. Duty makes her steps as sure as ever once she turns. The Guardian of Time keeps her secrets there, with only a flash of violet around her cover to mark the moment of transformation.

She steps onto the field from the other side of the column with precise timing and clear intent. Pluto's silvery Rod gleams, and eyes to match the hue and depth of its Orb gaze levelly at the rattling, bouncing front grill of the oncoming station wagon. Just as Sailor Moon interposed herself, so has this stoic sentinel done. Perhaps courage is a wisdom they both understand.

"Sailor Moon!" she cries, and at the last moment before that front bumper would hit she drops into a crouch; there is a violet-red flash, as brilliant as it is dark. The great sound which accompanies could be from impact, explosion, or both.

With her eyes shut and her face a mask of anticipatory calm within a flying mane of evergreen, she has turned her Rod-braced shoulder to the left front bumper. That silvery haft is a half foot deep in the turf. She is herself the brace, and the fulcrum: to absorb and shift impact. From deep within the well of her concentration, insulated from chaotic violence, she releases a blast of garnet.

Force from a standstill: a stand against force. She can aspire to both of those things, within a needful moment.

COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has used Garnet Blast on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Usagi Tsukino transforms into Sailor Moon!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Step four never *does* go as smoothly as she'd like it to, the Wind Knight reflects ruefully as she dives away from Hurdler's counterattack. Or at least, she tries to dive away - the tape shoots out faster than she expected and entangles her, particularly but not only about her legs. That's going to put a crimp in fighting -

And in the meantime, she has enough of a vantage to see that the bad guys are getting a leg up on their goals: Elsa, clearly the target du jour, is already down, her Pure Heart crystal floating above her body, and Hurdler is running loose. Eudial is out of the station wagon, the Wind Knight also notes, but the daimon is the bigger general threat - take out the monster, and its mistress is more likely to retreat without her muscle.

Bow and quiver vanish in streaks of green light, disappearing back into the Wind Knight's glove-jewel as she draws her thoughts inward, focusing her magic. She actually reaches down to touch the sticky ticker-tape wrapped around her lower body, and runs a pulse of power through it - a probe of sorts with her healing magic, trying to break down the bindings ...

"Liberating Gale!!"

... before turning that magic towards offense - trying to rip the tape apart so she can move around again, and to turn the ensuing blast back against Hurdler.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Liberating Gale on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick decisively counters 12 Fatigue damage from Steven Universe's Shield Slam, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Steven
Universe is Psyched!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick's counterattack, Long Jump, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Steven Universe!  
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to brace Sailor Pluto's Garnet Blast, taking 23 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Pluto is Psyched!  
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick cleanly braces 28 Fatigue damage from Fuu Hououji's Liberating Gale, taking 5 Fatigue damage!  Critical
Hit!  Bind Break! All of Fuu Hououji's debuffs are cleared!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Moon [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Eudial's engine revs. Sailor Moon gets this strange expression, "Eh?" Blink. Blink. It's only as Eudial hits the gas that she realizes precisely her peril, in challenging one of the Witches 5 to a match of Chicken.

Suddenly shifting into a panicked stance she juts forth her palm and shakes it, "Wait-wait-wait HOLD IT!" And blows upon two fingers of her glove in a desperate whistle.

Does she think... she'll stop? Or is it simply a childish notion of some societal contract. That people who get behind the wheel would never go so far as to...

A violet red blur saves her, "Ah-! Sailor Pluto! ... Thank you! You really saved me!" Sailor Moon cries out with a certain simplistic joy over that fact, until her expression becomes a bit pensive.




"She was actually going to run me over...!" The Sailor Senshi of Love and Justice sounds so aghast at the idea.

Fortunately this saves Moon, but she whirls around just in time to see Elsa Grey getting struck by Eudial's shot, "Elsa!" She sounds shocked - as the object of Hotaru's admiration, as the rival of Haruka's for something besides the finish line goes down.

As Haruka's rival, it doesn't surprise her that Elsa is so far away - but it causes another horrified realization with this athletic Daimon. "I can't get there in time! I'm not a runner!"

Especially with all those hurdles making it look like running hard mode to even begin to.

A sudden dawning realization takes her as she brings a hand up to her tiara... and a touch imbues it with sacred light, "Moon Tiara-" Cocking back her arm, she suddenly flicks it forward with a certain grace of movement - in this at least. "-ACTION!"

It sails in an arc through the air - but strangely it's not aimed at the Daimon. Instead it's ducking down to smack one of the hurdles as it goes. And then ricochets off to smack another a short distance away. And another in this zig-zagging display of random chaos. It's her attempt to cause them all to fall like dominoes and try to trip up the Daimon before she can reach the Pure Heart Crystal.

"My event always was the discus..." She stage whisper asides to Pluto, with an arm nudge that may never actually tap her.

COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used Getting Over Her Fear of Hurdles on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick perfectly dodges 25 Fatigue damage from Sailor Moon's Getting Over Her Fear of Hurdles, taking 0 Fatigue
damage!  Critical Dodge!  Pink Moon Stick's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Uranus [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

Lifting an arm to shield her face, Uranus disappears into the flame as Hurdler rips past. Lost to sight, Uranus might at first be thought to need help; though her partner's water may douse flame, her wind often feeds it instead. Has the Senshi of Wind run out of options so quickly?

But a moment later, her sharp, jockish whistle is heard calling Eudial's attention... upward? And there she is, reaching the apex of a weightless high jump, her spread fingers knuckles-out before her face, flanked by a scattering flotilla of churning orbs, each a translucent distortion of the air, flashing with gold energy.

"First, huh?" Uranus taunts knowingly. "That means you're the strongest, right?"

As she starts to drop back down, Uranus swings her forearms, crossing them before her thighs as her mighty shoulders flex inwards, putting her back up. With this motion she hurls the orbs of wind all at once, to pelt the ground all around Eudial and, hopefully, Eudial herself, in a dense but random pounding of heavenly energy.

Her boots striking down on the grass, Uranus flashes her sky-blue eyes to the Garnet shield. Pluto always seems to know exactly where she's needed. Uranus knows it's against the rules, but she still sometimes wonders if Pluto is playing the same game as everyone else, or if she's already checked what cards are coming up in the deck. So if she's got the ever-hapless Princess covered...

"Neptune!" Uranus shouts. "Keep the Strongest Witch off me!" And off she bolts, after Elsa, towards the Heart Crystal.

This is a very serious situation for her, and stress is visible on Uranus's face. Otherwise it would be pretty easy to believe that the fluttering skirt she causes by buzzing past Neptune was intentional.

Approaching the hurdles, Uranus might be expected to start jumping them. Instead, as she approaches, she gathers up a globe of golden energy in one palm, drawing that hand back. Halting herself just before them with one stiff leg, her shoulders rock forward in something very much like a baseball pitch, as her cannon of an arm slings the energy of the heavens forward. With a perfect vertical stability, the orb crashes through the hurdle crossbars rapidly, taking each in a different position due to their staggered locations, missing a few entirely. But when Uranus slaps her throwing-palm onto the ground instead of pulling it back to recover, and her haunches rise like a hunting cat, there is a direct, straight line clear between her and Elsa.

Uranus inhales.

And on the exhale, her long legs snap her into a blinding sprint.

COMBAT: Sailor Uranus has used Gaze Turbulent on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick braces 35 Fatigue damage from Sailor Uranus's Gaze Turbulent, taking 15 Fatigue damage!  
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Neptune [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

Sailor Neptune smiles at Eudial. It is not a kind, or a warm smile. It is also, of course, shortlived, for Eudial's frustration is soon enough expressed towards--

Fire! Neptune flinches, arms crossing and pressing near to her body.

But back to that wroth: Not just towards Elsa -- though the sound, the sense of that cannon is now irritatingly familiar to Sailor Neptune, as is the unfortunate commensality which they have developed, wherein that device is put to their ends in an indirect manner. But this is different now, isn't it; it's not just somebody, someone who they know only by reputation, or who is perhaps a distant fringe on a social network of lofty, aery heights.

No, this is Elsa, Michiru thinks -

- but Sailor Uranus moves. She moves like the wind; she moves faster than thought, perhaps to escape thought, but water for all of its power and penetration is never as swift as the wind. Her eyes follow after Uranus and her heart feels like a violin string on the edge of breaking as she says, "Understood," and then she leaps forth.

Sailor Neptune does not call down the force of the sea; instead, moving nearer to Eudial, she aims a firm blow with the tips of her gloved fingers at Eudial's midsection, sweeping one leg out afterwards; an effort, quite literal, to entangle her, to force her to defend herself terribly close and (may it be hoped) not to visit more wrath upon others!

Especially some of the others.

"You shouldn't leave your car unattended like that," Neptune breathes out: "Can you really afford a citation, on this sort of a budget?"

COMBAT: Sailor Neptune has used Calculated Dissonance on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick counters 5 Fatigue damage from Sailor Neptune's Calculated Dissonance, taking 15 Fatigue damage!  Stagger
and Stun applied to Pink Moon Stick!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick's counterattack, FIRE BUSTER, partially gets through, doing 13 Fatigue damage to Sailor Neptune!  
<Pose Tracker> Hotaru Tomoe [Infinity Institute (7)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Control - Halsey - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=so8V5dAli-Q

Hotaru can barely hear the wheeze in her chest -- two lungs' worth of air piped through the eye of a needle, instead of a camel -- over the thrum of blood between her ears. It's frustrating! How can something as weak as her heart make so much noise?

Focusing desperately, she tries to catch the soft scuff of tiny shoe against concrete. She doesn't. But she does hear her best friend's voice, at least a little further away than it was. No longer at her side.

Just as she'd begged.

Just as she'd... lied.

Begging for Chibi-Usa to go get help was a lie, wasn't it? There's no helping her. No saving her. The only remaining question is which fate will race through the finish line first. Will her body fail at last, leaving Chibi-Usa witnessing her final transformation into a corpse? Or will something worse happen first, leaving Hotaru cradling another precious friend, precious victim, she didn't mean to, she never means to...

This is better. She may not want to be the kind of friend who one supports by cushioning their failures, but their friendship is, undeniably, of the breed where, had she told the truth -- leave me, Chibi-Usa, you have to get away from me, it isn't safe, I'm not safe, for you -- Chibi-Usa wouldn't have left at all, not even a few steps. Very much the opposite. She would have crouched down with her. Taken her into her arms. HELD her as she shook, soft warm arms instead of hard concrete which, even now, bruises her knees, then her ribs, as she topples onto her side.

The simple fantasy of that embrace, so close and so determinedly far away, is enough to break her heart.

Hotaru's arms lash out like whips to catch herself, and she isn't sure she meant to do that. Her palms sting where they hit the ground and she cannot tell pleasure from pain. With a surge of strength that is inhumanly unfamiliar in muscles that are less withered and more never born, she heaves herself backwards, away from the pillar.


It's a good thing Sailor Mars was low to the ground, at friendly, reassurring Chibi-Usa eye-level, because when she abruptly collapses, there isn't very far for her to go. She's as bonelessly limp as someone who's just been brained.

It is no coincidence. Here -- a classroom poster, a dire diagram. But no tomograph can expose this experience, and almost no description. We turn to the classics to capture a bare approximation of what it's like, with as much ease and difficulty as one might capture a person's likeness with a small number of sublimely elegant calligraphic strokes.

This is Sailor Mars' brain on Silence:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre                  
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;                    
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;                 
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,                   
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere               
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;                    
The best lack all conviction, while the worst                
Are full of passionate intensity.                      
Surely some revelation is at hand;                     
Surely the Second Coming is at hand...                   

How could the hypersensitive mystic be stunned senseless by a surge of evil power that renders the nearby daimon, and even Eudial, invisible to her awareness due to the abrupt and seismic change in scale, and yet afterwards, not even know which direction it came from?

It might, or might not, have helped Rei get a clear view of things if she'd been allowed to spot the very obvious reason why she couldn't see Hotaru's aura. It was for the same reason that people in Ginza District can't see Japan.

OOC: With gratitude to W. B. Yeats and apologies to Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.


Chibi-Usa's innocent, trusting back is in clear view. Her chubby little shoulder blades, below a tendril of cotton candy pink hair that swirls, undone, at the nape of her tender neck. What lies inside her is only separated from reach by a scant few inches of flesh and bone, so easily removed. Saliva fills Hotaru's mouth until she chokes on it. She had so little air to begin with, and now a raw, visceral, overpowering hungry drowns her entirely. The sparkles filling her vision are the color of blood. The heat behind her eyes is nothing like tears.

Crawling towards Chibi-Usa would feel good. No, not just good. Fantastic. NECESSARY. Oh, she aches with undeniable need, with appetite not only cruel (though it is cruel) but desperate. She CRAVES to erase the distance between them with the urgency of an addict; and is it so wrong to be addicted to survival? All her nerve endings tell her this story, and something else, deeper down and deeper in, suggests that not only would it be an immediate ecstatic satiation, but that she's so deliciously close to ending the pain forever. To fulfilling her destiny at last. It wouldn't take much... just a little bit... a little bite...

Inexorably, her teeth are about to sink into something...

...Less like a press directly against a door that demands to open...

...more like the slightest deflection of an oncoming river, diverted by the tiniest of degrees...

...she's able to penetrate...the thin translucence...of...her own lip--!

With a gasp, Hotaru wrenches her gaze down, away from her best friend, so that she's facing the ground instead. Her head is splitting in half, searing agony the reward for this defiance of... herself, surely of her own true sick disgusting nature? A meaningless defiance, surely, but for the untouched innocence a few feet away, who never knew how close she was to mortal threat. But that means everything...

The pain is most concentrated between her brows, burning, burning like someone is boring a red-hot drill into her, twisting, melting...the heat of it is lifting wire-thin strands of her hair upwards, as though caught in a draft...

It hurts so much... as that unholy strength departs her... and merely normal pain and weakness and uselessness is all that's left behind...

Thank goodness...

What relief and what misery to once more have a body too pathetic, too fragile, to do so much as stand. But with that uncontrolled jumpstart of mobility, she finds herself able to replicate the first motion, backwards, much more slowly and pitifully.

Crawling, scooting, an inch at a time, Hotaru abandons her place behind the pillar. Desperation lends her haste, further facilitated by a total indifference to her own suffering. Let her muscles seize. Let her heart burst. She deserves it...

If Chibi-Usa looks back, there's no one there.

<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.

Sailor Pluto faces down the oncoming Death Busters Station Wagon.

<SoundTracker> The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly - Main Theme - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFa1-kciCb4

Eudial is not still attached to the crimson high-heel jamming down the accelerator, but there is, nevertheless, a spiritual connection. This is her noble steed. Veteran of a thousand magic wars. It has delivered her to and rescued her from trouble more times than she can count. And though it may just be an ordinary white station wagon with a cool black star decal... their souls are aligned. Their motors thrum as one.

There might be nothing in this or any world that Eudial loves quite as much as her car.

But love is not her weapon.

And Sailor Pluto's might is a lot more interested in its aforementioned ordinariness than any sentimental value it might have for a Witch. She is no Pretty Cure to be effortlessly chucking cars about, but with a Garnet Blast to get it off the ground, and then her staff as fulcrum, she is able to send it soaring over her and the Moon Princess both.

Flight is glorious.

It is also short.

The station wagon crashes to the ground behind them, suspension flattening, all body panels crumpled. An ill smoke rises from the hood.

"FUCK!" Eudial screams, identifying the fate of her beloved and reliable partner -- her ONLY reliable partner, honestly -- without even turning around; she only has eyes for that Pure Heart Crystal. There's nothing else here on the field that would have broken with quite that combination of sounds. A symphony of crunching.

But before she can do more than make her initial leap into action, Sailor Uranus is above her, jumping higher, further, faster. More. Just as predicted, though can one ever really PLAN for this imputent hypercompetence? Much MUCH tougher than her ride, the First and "Smartest! It means smartest!" of the Witches 5 protects herself with her Extraction Gun. Wracked with heavenly energies, the remaining, depressurized pink liquid in it boils and bubbles away. She won't be shooting anyone else with it today.

An acceptable sacrifice. UNLIKE certain others.

This leaves Eudial with a decision to make. Lose a race to Sailor Uranus, or...?

' R E V E N G E '

Sailor Pluto feels a shiver down her spine, an instant before Eudial jukes a full one-eighty in midleap like some kind of ice skater, and with unfair rapidity -- a little hypercompetence of her own -- swaps weapons on her back-strapped holster.

"Suck on this, time witch," Eudial hisses, as an ominous and familiar 'KA-CHINK!' precedes her intoxicatingly long pull on the trigger. "Fire Buster Mark II, Tactical Field Test, First Deployment!"

When Sailor Neptune chooses this moment to aggress via melee, glee splits her face in a manic crescent. Holding down the trigger long enough to project an appalling amount of magical napalm-level fireforce into both her and Pluto's faces -- two for one -- is completely worth being down from her leap by the SEA witch, which, in the moment, forced some air uncomfortably from her chest.

That just means Neptune's at point blank. "Heh."

"Looks like I'm not the only one making choices today," she calls towards Uranus, breaking her red gaze from Neptune's green one to do it. "Sure you want to leave her with me?"

Meanwhile, Steven predicts being leapt over by Hurdler but discovers that that was overly optimistic. She escapes his charge in leaps and bounds, so blurringly fast on the track that he is simply unable to catch up in the first place. And then, to add insult to injury, once he begins to slow, she buzzes BACK, a quick intersection, to stick out a long pink leg to TRIP him, midstride.

Fuu makes the daimon pay for this indulgence, but not as dearly as she might have hoped; her wind blast rips the pretty red bow out of her hair but lacks the ferocity to do much other damage. Now, a spoiled hairstyle can be a real impediment to a runner, and perhaps in time the Magic Knight can reap something from what she's sowed. In the moment though it just motivates Hurdler to re-accelerate and let the wind keep her fluffy purple hair out of her eyes, and she passes Fuu at baking temperature in much the same way she did Sailors Uranus and Neptune a few seconds ago.

For the second time since battle began, someone chucks a discus in Hurdler's path and mentions their favorite event. The daimon mugs a pout even as she effortlessly evades her own hurdles, which Sailor Moon has honestly more conveniently than problematically knocked over for her. She doesn't even have to jump... but she's still frustrated.

"Frisbee frisbee frisbee!" she shouts. And whips out a starting pistol from wherever, leveling it at Sailor Moon mid-sprint. "Get a real sport already!! Move your BODY! READY SET GOOO!!!" *BLAM BLAM BLAM*

It does not shoot blanks.

All this definitely means she'll arrive at the Pure Heart Crystal a few strides behind Sailor Uranus, though. Thrusting her palms forward, ten more sticky finish lines rush out from beneath her fingernails to try to spiderweb her opponent -- if they can catch her first.

COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Unsportsmanlike Conduct on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Track On Fire on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used FIRE BUSTER on Sailor Pluto.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used FIRE BUSTER on Sailor Neptune.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Finish Line Web on Sailor Uranus.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Starter Pistol on Sailor Moon.
<Pose Tracker> Chibi-Usa Tsukino [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

Once she gets away a little from Hotaru, Chibi-Usa can see the others again, off distant, fighting with a monster and Eudial targeting Elsa. There's a pang of worry for the girl Hotaru so looked up to, and another more complicated at two elegant warriors present...

The simple truth is that if Chibi-Usa had known the truth, there's no chance she would have left. If she hadn't simply trusted Hotaru's request, she wouldn't have gotten anywhere near away. And now, here, as she reaches Sailor Mars, who is telling her it will be all right. With relief she slouches, sighing, and then nods twice, three times in her haste to get her words out. "She's--she's back over here--"

Chibi-Usa is about to turn, but then Sailor Mars collapses all of a sudden and Small Lady jumps in alarm. "Mars!" she cries, kneeling down to try to wake her to no avail. Now, there's another who needs her...

A part of her just wants to sit here and cry, and hope someone will handle it. But... she can't. She won't. Hotaru, and now Rei, need her.

Chibi-Usa hugs Rei on the ground and then starts to sprint off, towards the oters. "PUU!" Chibi-Usa calls this time, specific in who she sees.

But she rushes towards, not away from the danger right now, to where everyone is fighting in a breathless quest to get help.

Not for an instant does she recogniz what was happening behind her. Not for a moment does she notice that unholy moment, or feel the strange sense of evil power. She doesn't seem to notice anything of the kind at all.

...But she has to notice the fire, the crystal, and everyone fighting here.

COMBAT: Sailor Moon braces 9 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Starter Pistol, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Moon's Parry
ability activates!
COMBAT: Sailor Uranus braces 8 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Finish Line Web, taking 12 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
Tangle and Trap applied to Sailor Uranus!
COMBAT: Sailor Neptune neatly dodges 44 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's FIRE BUSTER, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji cleanly braces 34 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Track On Fire, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji's
Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Steven Universe braces 9 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Unsportsmanlike Conduct, taking 13 Fatigue damage!
Critical Hit!  Steven Universe's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto neatly dodges 40 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's FIRE BUSTER, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  

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

Whiff! "Yep, there she goes," he comments. Why can't he be cool and fast like the other Gems?! "Urgh!" the boy utters, frustrated! "This badguy is so fabulously fast..." He seems to really like her shade of color. Insomuch that it is difficult to be mad at them.

Then they do something that changes that.

He pivots, takes one step, and trips, tumbling over a well-toned leg! "Oof!" The boy THUDs to the ground. He lays motionless for a second, but then begins to laugh, and points up at her as he stands. "Ha-HAH! I am self-insulated against tumbles! One of my many powers given to me by my parents!"

...That's not really a power, but sure.

A few pieces of gravel on the ground still stick to the boy's face. "I can't catch her! But I know someone who can," he says, looking toward Fuu.

"You can get her real fast with your bow and windy stuff! Give her..." The boy adjusts and dons his Aviators. "...the business!" The boy says boldly, pointing toward the Hurdler!

...And then he tries his best to keep up to her, running as fast as a round-ish elementary schoolkid can! However, the boy stops suddenly. He felt something. Something deep inside. Behind him--

A rapid turn finds nothing. Another part of the battlefield near Eudial. Part of the track bleachers. Some pillars. Soemthing far worse than anything present now. "What was. Uh." It was gome. "Everything going okay over there?" he calls to the Senshi duking it out, and going for the Pure Heart.

COMBAT: Steven Universe has used Love Like You on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji accepts Steven Universe's Love Like You, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji is Cheered!  Surge applied to
Fuu Hououji!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Moon [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Sailor Moon looks scandalized by Eudial's cursing - perhaps not understanding the context other than HER CAR JUST CRASHED BECAUSE PLUTO IS THE BEST, "There are kids out here!" Truly she must rate Eudial as the worst of villains for not only trying to run her over - and dropping an F-Bomb potentially within hearing range of Chibi-Usa and Hotaru.

She starts running right away, but she isn't so fast that she doesn't FEEL the intense heat of Eudial's retribution. It gives her pause, the thought of running back, hearing Eudial taunting Uranus with the threat of Pluto and Neptune's lives just rankles her so hard with the cruelty.

Yet she doesn't stop, she mustn't stop. It's a strange instinct of hers to think that Uranus won't be persuaded by that...

...she might just be wrong but if she's right she's not about to allow her go for Elsa's heart alone. "Uranus - I'm going to make a break for it!" Perhaps it's not naivete, but this is no adversarial decision on her part.

She hasn't left the range of the fire entirely when an intensely evil feeling overwhelms her at the flanks. Moon stumbles in her gait. "WahAH!" Then recovers, looking shocked to the side at something that's no longer there. "Is... something going on over there?" Her mind cannot truly parse that terrible feeling, not in it's brevity. It is both familiar and unfamiliar.... alien and close to home... and a void - hollow feeling, an osmosis of consumption. She doesn't know what to make of it, other than it makes her stomach churn.

Chibi-Usa's shout catches her attention briefly. "Why isn't she staying back with Mars?" The answer is one she might have worked out...

... but then the Daimon mocks her. "Hey!" Moon says as she suddenly reaches up to catch her tiara on its return. "I worked really hard to get good at this!" She has it back on her brow... when she sees the gun being pointed. It's a quick motion, but somehow she manages to twist her other hand to catch the starting pistol bullet on her rod, which then ricochets away.

"For your information! I was giving becoming the manager of the track team some thought!" She protests, as if that fact alone of CONSIDERING joining a team as a manager counts as her having a real sport.

BGM Change: Chariots of Fire Main Theme - Vangelis - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXxhb8US7Rg

And then she starts taking off after the Daimon. Of course... this is an impossible task for her. It is a Daimon created specifically for evil athletic achievement...

... and she is Sailor Moon. In slow motion she runs with all of her might, a futile battle against the inevitable. If Uranus hadn't cleared the track she'd already be done in by the obstacles SHE had created. All the same she doesn't stand a prayer compared to Uranus or the Daimon in this scenario. Usagi Tsukino is accustomed to last place - in P.E. in any kind of competition. And yet she runs, not consigning herself to it. Her chest is already heaving - and the Daimon's steps are swift and sure. Mid-run though, she gives the rod in her hand a glance. Then the Daimon. Then the rod, as her other skinny arm pumps. And then with a mischievous look she extends it forward with all the enthusiasm of a sports anime character. "STICK! Stick! Stick!"

While trying to run to bridge the gap - hoping the Daimon itself will be convinced this is a relay race... to SLOW DOWN to let her catch up and pass the baton, "It's... the final stretch of the race.... right? It's time for you... to give it your all HURDLER!" Moon notes breathlessly as she hopes to pull off her childish deception.

At least, that's the intent. If the Daimon falls for it, she waits for it to get close before...

"Moon Twilight - FLASH!"

... but, even if it doesn't, she fires off that explosion of twilit energy at it anyway as she tries to push ahead to get to Elsa's heart first - or at least delay the Daimon to getting to it long enough for Uranus to pull ahead.

COMBAT: Sailor Moon has used Moon Twilight Flash on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick perfectly dodges 85 Fatigue damage from Sailor Moon's Moon Twilight Flash, taking 0 Fatigue damage!
Critical Hit!  Critical Dodge!  Pink Moon Stick's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Pluto [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Steed and senshi both are tested veterans, are steadfast, have survived despite the unkind odds of the battlefield. But when two such legendary soldiers come face to face on the field, only one can walk -- or roll -- away. The wagon-warrior flies; perhaps the Valkyrie have her even before she crashes down one last time.

Dark mars the clean white of her back when Sailor Pluto extracts herself from the turf. Where she was driven down there remains a depressed oval of earth. It is no small thing to be a ramp for a car, and it is no small application of will which allows her to stand quietly with one side of her body still halfway between numb and screaming. She is intact, though, and Sailor Moon has not been run over.

Despite the Witch's efforts. Eudial sounds... unhappy with the results. "She was going to run you over," Pluto agrees, with sadness instead of her future Queen's surprise. "These are the stakes."

Pluto is not quite near enough to nudge, but the gesture is not lost on her as she watches that tiara wreak its havoc. A sidelong glance and a small nod of respect are returned to Sailor Moon. The sadness does not ebb, but it gentles in her tone when she says, "And for winter sports, is it ice skating?"

Appropriately enough, that's when the shiver runs down her spine.

Small mercy she isn't close enough for that nudge, considering the napalm roiling her way. A shiver is all a veteran's reflexes need. Pluto is moving before she knows what the danger is, and so her dark boots bear the scorching meant for the leaping rest of her -- those and the poor blackened sod-grass where she'd been. She's mid-roll when the darkness washes over-

and Time's Guardian feels it as something as cold and dead as the void between planets, but both far more empty, and brimming with evil

-and then she is rising from her knees in an unscorched patch of green, shaking her head.

Something rings in her ears. A syllable, shouted... a name...

A nickname. A dear one.

Puu's heart thuds in her chest, and garnet eyes fly wide to see the brave young girl running toward her, and the fight, and the danger.

"Small Lady! It is not safe!" she cries, as if the other did not already know that. Pluto does not know her best friend's need, does not know that Hotaru has collapsed. She only knows that there is a way to serve the safety of all those she loves, here on this battlefield. The Rod has already begun turning in her hands as she herself turns: rotations upon rotations, all of it of course clockwise.

She wields a garnet-studded silver blur by the time she faces Eudial, moving to try and take the side directly opposite Sailor Neptune. Her fellow soldier receives a quick glance before Pluto presses her attack. It is not a complex signal, simply, Now I attack.

Sailor Pluto knows the value of timing, in battle.

COMBAT: Sailor Pluto has used Pendulum Blitz on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"Gah - !!" the green-clad Magic Knight yelps as Hurdler rips past her, battering her with the wave of heat - and did she literally leave a trail of flames? Fortunately, an almost instinctively-conjured wind barrier keeps the worst of the fiery shockwave from roasting the Wind Knight where she stands. Which is all well and good, but being able to defend against the daimon's attacks doesn't mean the monster's going to go away.

Well. If they don't step up the offense *quickly*, the daimon and her boss *might* go away ... with prize in hand ... which is an unacceptable outcome.

Steven's voice rings out, and the Wind Knight's lips quirk a little as he reminds her of her strong suit. "Very well, Steven-san," she calls out, her left hand coming up and the breeze rising about her. "Consider the business given - Winds of Admonishment!!!" She flings her arm outwards again, an initially playful zephyr washing out and racing after Hurdler ... and intensifying into a binding whirlwind as the distance dwindles, the Magic Knight's spell aimed to catch Hurdler when she's not moving as swiftly. Say, while she's trying to shoot Sailor Moon with a starter pistol, or maybe in the middle of using those sticky tapes on Sailor Uranus.

And ... something else is apparently up, but for now, the green-clad Magic Knight stays focused on Hurdler. Rare are the problems that can truly be solved two or more at a time.

COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick counters 12 Fatigue damage from Sailor Pluto's Pendulum Blitz, taking 12 Fatigue damage!  Sailor Pluto is
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick's counterattack, FIRE BUSTER, partially gets through, doing 24 Fatigue damage to Sailor Pluto!  
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Admonishment on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick perfectly dodges 21 Fatigue damage from Fuu Hououji's Winds of Admonishment, taking 0 Fatigue damage!
Critical Hit!  Critical Dodge!  Pink Moon Stick's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Uranus [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Sailor Uranus - Initial U - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLsmegF8yYU

"I'm not happy about it!" Uranus calls back to Eudial, about whether she's sure about leaving Neptune with her. "I hate looking at drowned corpses!" Count her down as a vote of confidence.

Uranus, fleetest of the senshi, is forced to pit herself against a Daimon built for running. Focused, she flits past broken hurdles rapidly, aided by the various distractions the Daimon endures. Sailor Moon announces her intent to help race for the Heart, and Uranus spares her an incredulous glance. It's not that she wants to be arrogant here, but... Sailor Moon is the tortoise and the hare in one body. Slow as a turtle, but lazy as the bunny in the fable.

"I... I'm counting on you, Sailor Moon!" Uranus shouts, trying to sound like she means it.

Elsa's fallen body and her disembodied heart are soon before her, and though the Daimon is hot on her heels (literally), it seems she's going to make it.

Uranus hits the finish line... and hits it, and hits it, and hits it. She wins ten times as they wrap her from behind, and though she rips the first two free instantly with heaves of her strong arms, the third requires her to grab it with her glove, and by the time she rips it free the other seven have slowed her to a stop.

"Kussso," she hisses. Wasting not a moment, she seizes a nearby hurdle (previously felled by Sailor Moon), grabbing a bar on its base with each hand. She has a lot of practice judging how close someone running behind her is, and using that mental clock rather than her vision, she wastes no time on a glance. She twists her torso, hewn shoulders surging, and swings the hurdle like an axe handle, right across where Hurdler should be passing.

"You're kidding," she pants-slash-chuckles to herself, as that motion causes her to look back. Pluto broke that damn station wagon.

Ripping apart the hurdle if it's not already broken on Hurdler's body, Uranus arms herself with two torn bars, laying into the sticky finish lines to cut them off the ground. She's still wearing them as she hastens towards Elsa, but in the next moment, she almost misses a step on the ground, her hand going to her head as the color of despair floods it for a moment.

It can wait... as long as Elsa doesn't have a Pure Heart. If she does, everything could come together all too quickly today. She doesn't, does she? Haruka Tenoh would never consider herself pure, and Elsa Grey is a lot like her. Haruka would say Elsa is her minus savoir-faire, plus a hobby of checking out girls' butts. Elsa might say Haruka is her minus work ethic and plus a yacht catalogue. They'd both agree neither is going to get canonized anytime soon.

But Haruka can remember how good Elsa was with the younger athletes, how kind. She can remember how gentle the sometimes-crass athlete became when someone cried on the field. And above all she can remember that purity of focus; the way she made you feel like you were running alone together in some tunnel, if you glimpsed her eyes during a race.

Uranus wants to believe, for many reasons, that today is not the day she will finally find a Talisman. But when she wants to believe something so badly and she can't quite, she knows what that means. She won't count Elsa out.

She may yet need to make a choice today.

Only a moment or three has passed since she swung the hurdle at the Hurdler. Uranus shoots forward, but she doubts she can make it now. "Touch that thing!" Uranus shouts at the Daimon. "And this gets personal!"

Suddenly her short blonde hair is blasted into whipping strands, and Uranus is forced to skid to a halt, uncertain if she's about to run into a fireball.

"Moon Twilight - FLASH!"

You're kidding, Uranus thinks. The lazy bunny to the rescue.

Uncertain what the situation will be when the attack dies off, her vision of the Heart blocked, Uranus chooses to drop into a sprinting start, her sharp eyes scanning. Putting a knee down, she cocks her hips with the other leg, her body drawing back like the hammer of a revolver.

COMBAT: Sailor Uranus has used Hurdle This on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to brace Sailor Uranus's Hurdle This, taking 42 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Neptune [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

SOMETHING is awakening. A dire fate, a dire face. The vision of the silence. Its very sound, though no friend. Sailor Neptune's poise is broken for a moment as her head turns, letting out a soft 'gasp' even as the melee veils her sight from seeing where --

The foresight doesn't come fast enough. An enormous gout of fire erupts outwards directly into the face of Sailor Neptune! Witchfire, searing with elemental fundament - a philosophical intensity that no burning house could hold, nor any blazing furnace. How could anyone endure such a blow?

Sailor Neptune does not quite try. When the flame fades, with the smoke and the light fading, Sailor Neptune has pivoted backwards, standing lightly on her splayed-out fingertips and a single heeled foot. A singed mark mars the front of her uniform, and sweat and soot mar her features -- but the features are still there!

"Touche," Sailor Neptune says, even as other voices ring out-- the voice of Sailor Moon, the small one -- and - Neptune's head turns, a familiar voice. But she is hemmed in and the Talisman's potential remains unproven. Neptune breathes out sharply through her teeth, purses her lips into a momentary moue of frustration, and then pinwheels round to leap back to her feet, sweeping dust from her front with her back to Eudial momentarily.

"Your steed seems to be having some trouble," Sailor Neptune says. Barbed words, perhaps, despite their tone, but there is also the question of having Eudial look at her, who has the grace of the sea and significantly fewer small ones in the immediate area. Sweat glistens on the back of her neck.

Is it close? Is it going to come upon us all of a sudden? Sailor Neptune thinks - but externally this is a mere half-second pause, a half-breathed 'heh,' and then she pivots round. "Perhaps we can discuss it later."

There is a sense of the sea in the air... as Sailor Neptune sweeps round one hand, making an elegant grand circle before her, before her head tilts back and the sea itself calls out in reply. And miracle of miracle; the teal-surging foam of the sea rises up from round her, surging forwards in a graceful tumble of a wave that, oh so by incidental accident, aims to drown Eudial and press her backwards!

And, perhaps, to put out the fire within that dreadful machine.

COMBAT: Sailor Neptune has used Dolphin Wave on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick counters 26 Fatigue damage from Sailor Neptune's Dolphin Wave, taking 26 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick's counterattack, FIRE BUSTER, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Sailor Neptune!  
<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.

Even Eudial, mid-FIRE BUSTER, notices what everyone else does. Up close and personal, Sailor Neptune and Sailor Pluto can see her eyes dialate, like she's getting a quick high off of whatever that was. Assuming of course that it didn't come from her. A new level of madness has infected her laughter; and she, the most rational of her squad.

Perhaps that's why she keeps the trigger down longer than she should, fending off the counterattacks of both Sailor Senshi even as the flame pumping out of the gun's nozzle grows hotter and hotter and hotter. It had been red at first but it is rapidly moving up in frequency; now it is orange-yellow. Pretty. And pretty deadly.

A cloud of boiling steam erupts from where FIRE BUSTER meets DOLPHIN WAVE. Eudial is aware that she's at type disadvantage here but now she's overcommitted, it's all or nothing. Soon her skin is almost as red as her triple-ponytail, terrifically scalded.

And that's not the only problem.

A flash of heat up her back gives her a split second's warning that she's going to be sacrificing something else precious to her today. (Not THAT precious; this was only the first deployment of the Fire Buster Mk II. But its very novelty is appealing, and it goes hard to lose it so quickly.)

Juking it off one arm -- its 'holster' is not unlike a backpack -- sends her damaged Extraction Gun skittering off also. This is bad but not so bad; she has been meaning to upgrade it also; plus, in combination with what's about to happen, it will turn a disaster into more than the sum of its parts.

Rolling away from this pile of stuff dumped at Sailor Neptune and Pluto's feet, Eudial gets clear just in time for...

...nothing to happen.


Hurdler continues to be unfairly fast. It seems that she can even outrun the wind... Fuu's Winds of Admonishment lick at her heels, but nothing more. And even though -- INCREDIBLY -- Sailor Moon's tactic actually seems to work (the bunnies circling her head from the impact of Sailor Uranus' hurdle, last time she tried to pass, might play a role in this)...

"STICK! Me! Oh me!"

...and the daimon slows down for a pace or two in order to receive the baton pass, grinning both foolishly and triumphantly, since she has achieved her objective of getting at least one Ultimate Frisbee slacker to pump their legs...

...EVEN THEN she's able to duck past the enormous beam of Moon Twilight Blast, and it vaporizes only her afterimages.

"NO NO NO!" she objects. "YOU DO -- A PASS -- LIKE THIS!"

And suddenly Sailor Moon is holding TWO sticks.

One of them is a stick of dynamite, patterned all over in black stars. Hurdler accelerates away from the blast, and its shockwave propels her even faster than she can propel herself--

--past Sailor Uranus.

In a photo finish, she scoops up the Pure Heart without breaking stride, and keeps running, running, running, leaving the pale, unmoving body of Elsa Gray behind (though not so easily the Senshi of Sky).

"...I got it! Ma'am, I got it!"


It's a good thing none of Eudial, Sailor Pluto, and Sailor Neptune can see each other. Too much steam. They are silhouettes of pretty soldiers only.

It gives her time to back away.

And time for those two to safely be smug about the dud of her BUSTER.

She flips down a pair of safety goggles and thumbs the button on her belt that acts as detonator when she feels enough time has passed for the Outer Senshi to have properly enjoyed her failure.

The BUSTED BUSTER BOMBER (patent pending, since Eudial only just made up the name) goes off in a column of white smoke. Its particulates mingle with the steam, which acts almost as an extra delivery vector. Like a terrible poison rain...

...which Eudial is, just barely, ahead of the leading edge from.

"I got it! Ma'am, I got it!"

Honestly no one is more surprised to hear this than Eudial herself.

"What, seriously?"

Now they're both running. Though in opposite directions. In this hellish storm she's summoned, NO ONE can see each other. So, master and servant, their voices collide, back and forth, like a two-ball ping pong perfect game, as this conversation proceeds.

"Well," Eudial pants, "Is it a talisman?"

"...I DON'T KNOW? How can you tell?"



Eudial is hauling too much ass towards her objective to close her eyes and pinch her nose the way she really wants to. This has never been a problem before because they've never been the ones to make the ID. Because Uranus and Neptune always get there first.

Well, shit.

"Just keep running, Hurdler! Escape with it! I'll find you and perform the analysis later!"


Sailor Uranus on the daimon's heels, the race is on in earnest...

...while, behind them, Eudial gets behind the wheel of her escape vehicle.

"Gotcha!" she yells, grabbing up Chibi-Usa with both arms, right around the time that the poison cloud abates and everyone who's survived can see each other again. Now she's surrounded by foes, alone in the middle of the grassy center of the track... but she does have a bargaining chip.

And while she's out of guns... those very sharp, beautifully manicured fingernails of hers will do for the cherub just fine. She hovers two of them over Chibi-Usa's matching red eyeballs, right away.

"Nobody move," she yells, aware that Uranus is probably already out of earshot and just... having to trust, to hope, that the unbelievable overperformance of Hurdler is going to hold out to to the end. "Or the 'SMALL LADY'," her voice twists mockingly around the nickname Sailor Pluto has helpfully ascribed, "Gets it."

COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used BUSTED BUSTER BOMBER on Sailor Neptune.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used BUSTED BUSTER BOMBER on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used BUSTED BUSTER BOMBER on Sailor Pluto.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used BUSTED BUSTER BOMBER on Sailor Moon.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used BUSTED BUSTER BOMBER on Steven Universe.
COMBAT: Sailor Moon dodges 16 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's BUSTED BUSTER BOMBER, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
Sailor Moon's Fade and Flash abilities activate!  Blind applied to Sailor Moon!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji partially dodges 4 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's BUSTED BUSTER BOMBER, taking 16 Fatigue damage!  Fuu
Hououji's Fade and Flash abilities activate!  Blind applied to Fuu Hououji!
COMBAT: Steven Universe dodges 7 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's BUSTED BUSTER BOMBER, taking 11 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Sailor Neptune perfectly dodges 21 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's BUSTED BUSTER BOMBER, taking 0 Fatigue damage!
Critical Dodge!
COMBAT: Sailor Pluto braces 19 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's BUSTED BUSTER BOMBER, taking 8 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
Sailor Pluto's Block and Parry abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Chibi-Usa Tsukino [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

Where else is there to find help? Everyone else who hasn't run away is still trying. So thniks CHibi-Usa, as she runs towards trouble... before things start exploding. "Aaa!"

She can't see in the cloud of everything either, not the one caused by steam from how cool Sailor Neptune is or the poisonous one that follows. But she doesn't have to see to understand what happens next. "Urk--"

Chibi-Usa flails in Eudial's grip immediatly, kicking and struggling, right up until the next instant where she sees fingernails, and then she goes very, very still.


It might seem that her greatest worry is her own mortal peril, and that would be a reasonable assumption. But there's something distant in her wide-eyed stare, feet hanging below her ot particularly usefully.

Maybe that peril is enough itself. She doesn't even scream just at the moment! No, her distress is very visual and very quiet given how close Eudial is to her right now.


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

The Winds of Admonition come up short.

It's not the first time the Wind Knight's staple spell has been inadequate - broken out of, or simply not holding a foe tightly enough to keep them from acting, or what have you - but Hurdler *outruns* the spell, impossible as that should be. Not that the Wind Knight sees it, thanks to Eudial's clash with two Sailor Senshi and the steam explosion that clash sets up ... followed by an ACTUAL explosion ... but the sound of the daimon's victorious(?) shout tells the green-clad Magic Knight what she needed to know. What she was hoping not to know - not because ignorance is bliss, but because it means they're failing.

And by the time the explosions settle and the caustic rain thus created can subside (leaving her own vision blurry and unreliable, her eyes stinging like a million nettles) ... their failure is even starker, to judge by Eudial's threat.

There was a time when a hostage situation would only have driven the Wind Knight's determination all the harder. And to be clear, that determination is still unflagging, unyielding; the Magic Knight of Wind does *not* allow herself to give up. But she has nothing to work with - no leverage, no advantages, no wild cards she might try to tap.

The Wind Knight holds still, straining her ears and her brain, trying to will her vision to clear up so she can at least *see* what the situation is. Maybe somebody else has a better opportunity to rescue Chibi-Usa, or perhaps the situation will develop again and give them that opportunity ... but at this moment, the only thing the Magic Knight of Wind *CAN* do to save the little pink-haired girl --

Is nothing.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Moment of Stillness on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji accepts Fuu Hououji's Moment of Stillness, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji is Reinforced by Fuu Hououji!
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Uranus [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Neil Young - Heart of Gold - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3IA6pIVank

'STICK! Me! Oh me!'

Uranus has to briefly fight down a moment of incongruous fondness. It's like her jock Id is running around. But when Hurdler seizes Elsa's Pure Heart, any hint of sentiment burns out of her without so much as a tongue of smoke left behind.

"You!" she shouts. And, "Neptune!"

That particular intonation means, 'I need to do something.' It means, 'Help me, by knowing that my help isn't coming.' True teamwork is not all hugs and mutual worry, the Outers believe. If the left hand is preoccupied, the right need not always save it. Sometimes the right should drive its knuckles into the enemy's face, instead.

Before her partner's name has faded, Uranus splits the air in which it floats. Her body fires off and across the ground as if flicked by a giant finger, her boots kicking up a brief puff of turf grass. She crosses the track and disappears into the tunnel leading off the field and into the structure of the stadium. It's not hard to follow Hurdler, not with that fire. It's just hard to keep up.

Ajinomoto Stadium can't be exited directly when the gates are shut, and the path of least resistance is up the stairs to the higher levels, where people in the nosebleeds enter for their seats, and vast crowds can be seen on game days, shuffling their way across the concrete bridge and inside. Uranus takes the steps three at a time, then four, more jumping than running, gaining on the Daimon due to her familiarity with the stadium. Hurdler wasn't born yesterday... she was born today.

By the time they're nearing the ticket gate, Uranus is starting to close the gap. "Drop that!" she orders. "And just keep running!"

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

'Did I get her?!' is at the forefront of Sailor Moon's mind right now. She saw her beam strike her... and then, the Daimon's voice. "Huh?" Sailor Moon is still jogging, but both of her skinny arms have been brought up to look at the sudden rods in both of her hands. Completely mystified because despite the context of the Daimon saying that, she doesn't know when it slipped in, "Sparklers?"



Sailor Moon suddenly tries to hurl both the Dynamite AND the Spiral Heart Moon Rod in a complete failure of coordination. The explosion not just propelling the Daimon but causing a sacred artifact of the Moon Kingdom to spin end over end over end into the sky in a straight article

And also for Sailor Moon to get dumped ass over teakettle from the periphery of the explosion onto the track. Only to see the end result of the Daimon grabbing the Pure Heart. "That's... not how... not how... I imagined it... going..."

She needs a minute.


The Daimon makes it back to Eudial. Eudial tells Hurdler to keep running. And Sailor Moon, is hunched over in what can only be described as the P.E. class walk of shame. You know the one. The one where someone arrives out of breath, in total last place. One arm dangling, the other holding her side... "... ah'up... all up... you... a...nus..."

Sailor Moon plods... forward. "... am... fini...d..." Huffing in a pathetic display of unathletic ability. Now certainly she's a magical girl, but she just tried to race a thing that's matching and even overcoming Uranus at times in a foot race... she's wiped.

And that's when Eudial grabs Chibi-Usa. Sailor Moon wheezes, "CHI-U...U...."

Yet she doesn't move, because she's obviously having TROUBLE doing that. Letting go of her side, she holds up a finger, "Wai..." Then brings both of her hands forward as she makes a universal gesture. "T-Time... out..." Putting them together as if she were praying and then gets down on her knees, "... take... take me... 'stead... am... yours..."

More labored breathing, more wheezing, as she realizes that she has to add one REALLY IMPORTANT CONDITION. "... just don't... make me... walk over... t'you."

Sorry Chibi-Usa. She can't take another step.

<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.

Hurdler may have only been born today...

...but she was born to run.

Even if she's wearing her best running shoe above the waist.

She may have a lot in common with Uranus but there are differences too. She isn't human in some crucial ways; there are arms and legs but possibly not lungs and heart, daimons don't tend to bleed per se, they just ooze embryo after their defeat reverts them from chicken to egg.

Which means that if this goes too long-distance, the Sailor Senshi might actually be in serious trouble. She may be more than human but -- not for the first time in her career -- her humanity can still betray her.

"...can't do that! Ma'am said to escape!"

Glancing over her shoulder in order to call out to Uranus allows her pursuer to gain another stride; the daimon won't make that mistake again. Pumping her legs into pretty pink blurs, she surges forward, vaulting the ticket gate and out into the blinding blue autumn afternoon.

Then she misses another step just staggered by... everything. The enormity of it all.


But only one. Faced with all that Chofu has to offer, Hurdler's first instinct is to want to see EVERYTHING.

As quickly as possible.

She pours on the speed.

"I gotta make it," she chants to herself, though it drifts back to Sailor Uranus all the same. "Gotta make that finish line."

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

"Oh wow, she is REALLY fast,? Steven says, huffing and puffing as he runs across the field. Like a puppy trying to chase their mother, Steven finds himself constantly chaging trajectory to find the quickest path to the Hurdler, while the rest of the Senshi tangle with Eudial and the trophy at the end of the race. But he isn't gonna give up!

When the melting rain arrives, some of it begins to singe his hair and clothes! "Yikes!" Steven says, swiftly bringing his shield upward and over, expanding it outward-- within a few seconds, the shield is like a giant shelter over the boy, and his hands a held upward, toting it over him. "Hey, don't mess with the weather! Thats... a crime, I think?!" he shouts, his voice carrying an artificial echo through the shield.

The fight carries far, as Eudial and the Daimon hauls it, though is eventually cornered it appears. But with a hostage!

"H... Hey, s... stop right..."

By the time Steven makes it to the stand off, he is slog-walking. His shirt and headband becoming laden with sweat. The small holes the caustic drizzle added to it actually helps cool him down a little!

"You're gonna... hand on a second," he says, reaching for a water bottle and guzzling it for a second, having a stern finger still pointed toward Eudial. The shield has since shrunk back to a normal size, mounted on his wrist. The boy is practically panting.

Too much running for a small round child! The odds of him stopping her alone are very slim.

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

Uranus grimaces through her panting breaths. She suspects, though she does not know, that there is a hidden time limit on this race. She suspects that a Daimon's endurance surpasses even that of a Sailor Senshi; perhaps it is even infinite, so long as the wellspring of dark magic has not dried. She needs to think almost as fast as she runs, right now.

Whatever sentiment Uranus had for Hurdler as a sort of fellow athlete does not apply to her sense of wonder at seeing the city; in her past life in particular she slew many beings with some redemptive emotions. It does not mean they would not bite a big chunk out of your calf if you took your foot off their neck. Monsters are monsters.

As Hurdler peels out into the street, Uranus's thighs flash faster as well, her long legs taking a deep, natural stride. Normally when she runs, it seems effortless because of this gait; now even that cannot prevent her labor from being evident. Sweat begins to bead on her forehead.

"Damn, this one..." Uranus grimly admires through her breath. It's surreal to run this fast and not catch up. To, in fact, need to run faster.

But even as she manages, with all her might, to keep the race even, to remain within a long spitting distance, she wonders what her end game is here. What good is it to catch up? Can she really tackle this thing for the crystal? And even if she can, where will they be by then? It will take forever to get back to the others... to get the Pure Heart back in Elsa. Every minute it remains out is more risk to her life. Those ghouls in the Infinity Institute would love to get their hands on it even if it's not a Talisman.

"That's... not where the finish line is!" Uranus shouts. "The stopwatch is ticking back in the stadium, and everyone's watching for you!" Uranus's voice breaks a little.

"Your time is getting worse and worse with every step in that direction, Hurdler! A runner belongs on the track, so GET BACK THERE!"

<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.

If Elsa's eyes were open, would she enjoy watching someone lead Haruka for this long? Would she be bitter? Or would she just be irritated that she wasn't out there on the track with them?

Probably the latter.

She's never stopped chasing the wind, not after all these years. Not even when she was the only one left running.

Until now...

Her eyes are a little bit open. There's no awareness behind them. Pure Heart Crystals aren't Soul Gems but it isn't a completely inappropriate analogy either; in a very real sense Elsa IS present for this race, she is among them, she is leading, she is the finish line...

...she'll just never know it.

Hurdler has no real appreciation for the humanity contained in this precious hunk of crystal either; a monstrous innocence. She would not be less monstrous if she knew. Daimons may be more evolved fusions of an extranormal essence with everyday items than protodaimons, but protodaimons are more honest. Their hearts are no kaleidoscopes. They are exactly what all these creatures are, at their core.




And for all that there's something of Michiru Kaioh to the fluffiness of her unbound violet hair, Hurdler is very much one of them too.

"Whaaat?" she sounds aggrieved. "But I--"

They've been alive for less than a day and their Mom already taught them a bad word.


Her hair, which has lost its ribbon, had it shot away by Fuu Hououji, and now, as she pivots one-eighty, to blur back towards Ajinomoto Stadium... it momentarily blinds her.

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


The word rings out. Neptune intuits it - the gist, the core, the essence of what Uranus says - and so she does not even look in that direction. Would that she could. It would be more pleasant than what she sees before her.

Fingernails oriented towards the face of this small, pink girl.

"Tch! Crude and vicious alike," Sailor Neptune answers, but in a lower tone, her fingers curling into small, almost-frustrated fists as her eyes stay fixed upon Eudial.

In the periphery of her vision she counts others. Sailor Moon and that brave lad are both exhausted. The Magic Knight is at bay. She has a bow, doesn't she? Ugh, Neptune thinks: This is hardly what I had hoped to do.

And yet.

Her hands lower slightly, though not quite from a guarded stance. "..." Her jaw tightens: Nothing clever comes to mind.

Pluto, she thinks, the word turning into a helpless apology in the back of her mind.

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Pluto [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

A smaller, weaker flame might get blown back by the whirring rotation of the Garnet Rod. Not this one. It washes over Pluto in a brutal flash of brilliance. In her moment as a dark nucleus amid flame she thinks of another she loves, and focuses on being glad Kasagami is not here to suffer this. With this mantra she emerges scorched but whole yet, though her dark skirt is mostly soot-black now, and singed to fraying at points.

From Pluto's vantage point, she gets to behold the sparkle of sun-filled sky through a surge of summoned sea. It is beautiful. It is dangerous, like Neptune herself.

And unlike the drenched dud Eudial jettisons after, it seems. Sailor Pluto even allows an evergreen eyebrow to rise as her curiosity does, giving the look to Neptune across the fallen weapon. Shortly thereafter she gets to find out what poison rain feels like on burns, which is not the sort of curiosity even this acutely knowledgeable senshi ever wanted sated. She's actually hissing softly in pain when the caustic fog withdraws.

She stops when she sees.

Then there is this unusual, ungainly stagger-step, after which Sailor Pluto catches herself. Again her body had moved before her mind knew the danger. In this case, the whole of her involuntarily moved toward Small Lady in what can only be called a reflex of the heart.

And she halted herself mid-stride, without ceremony or grace or anything but the utmost speed, upon seeing the millimeters by which cherished red eye is separated from deadly red nail.

This is where and how Time's Guardian stands: with one leg in front of the other, with one arm behind and one reached forward with fingers straining, balanced upon a piece of turf and a moment. It does not matter how close she is to Chibi-Usa and the villain who holds her.

Any distance is too far, right now.

Somewhere, a Daimon tries to outrun the wind; another distance exists between Pluto and her awareness of that, of anything but the danger her friend is in. Of the fear on that dear face, the sort of fear that should never be on the face of a child but most especially not this one.

"You are so brave," she says to her best friend in a voice she finds somewhere inside her. It is steady, and warm, and full of love. It holds none of the fear. "It will be okay, Small Lady."

It sounds as certain as any promise made. Like a hug, just waiting to happen.

Sailor Moon is still not so far from Pluto, and that outstretched hand moves, becoming a flat palm facing the blonde senshi in a gesture that underscores Eudial's demand to not move forward.

"She will be okay," she repeats, and these words are to Sailor Moon, and to Sailor Neptune, and to everyone else. Eudial might as well be included. This repetition is less reassuring, but even more sure. The words ring with the finality of great bells.

Only one person here has the power to make EVERYTHING stop, Eudial included. She does not flash it, does not threaten it. But in the absence of other paths, one remains, even if it means one great promise broken for another.

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

Chibi-Usa does not have the opportunity at the moment to admire the race still going; she has the opportunity to think about Elsa still on the ground. She has the opportunity to think back behind that pillar. And she has the ability to get very, very familiar with Eudial's grip.

The small, pink-haired girl stares those red eyes of hers right at Eudial's nails, unblinking though certainly not as still as she'd prefer to be. Of course she shakes despite herself, what small girl would't be afraid of Eudial in this position?

She spots everyone freezing, and Sailor Moon can know for sure how serious this moment feels for Chibi-Usa that she doesn't take the time to complain from Eudial's arms. She just looks to her, and then looks to Neptune, and to Steven, and--

There. Puu's voice, saying something kind to her. She hears the lack of fear. She knows that Pluto means it, though she doesn't know how she intends to accomplish it. She, at least, will be safe here. Somehow. But there's something wrong there. But...

But she didn't come out into danger for herself. Rei is hurt, and in danger is...

"But Puu," she starts, more than half whispering, "Hotaru-chan! Hotaru-chan is...!"

And all this time, being caught here instead of bringing back help like she said she would. Tears fill red eyes over the course of a stand-off. "She's--"

She sniffs once, trying desperately to stay still, but she can't. She can't, because she's scared, and not even just for herself, but it's so strong, and--Her eyes squeeze shut.


Bits of track start to float up into the air, as a sense of power radiates suddenly through the area, a crescent moon on its wider side blazing into existence on Chibi-Usa's forehead as she wails.

<Pose Tracker> Sailor Uranus [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> My Hero Academia - You Say Run - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYZIUtDAFIw

The Pure Heart yanks Hurdler's arm almost out of its socket before it's torn free of her tight grip. As her hair is sliding out of her face, she gets a glimpse of Sailor Uranus's grin as she passes.

"Up!" she warns Hurdler mirthfully. In addition to being a belated warning for this relay, that was supposed to be Hurdler's line.

At this speed, as Hurdler now knows well, it's difficult to turn around. Uranus blazes past Hurdler and catches a lamppost with her left hand, letting her arm snap taut. It whips her around it, and with a plant of one boot, she kicks off, bolting back in the other direction. It only just gets her there fast enough; by the time she's there, Hurdler is running exactly parallel to her. But it's not enough to catch up to someone to tackle them; you have to go a little faster. The moment Hurdler tries something, Uranus will pull ahead. There is a stalemate, and the only way to break it, for Uranus and for Hurdler, is to run faster than the other.

"Come on!" Uranus goads, her heart light not with joy, but with the reckless excitement of life-and-death competition. "Do you know how long it's been since I had to run this hard? Since I got to go as fast as I can go?" She doesn't have the breath to spare for this, so she concludes with a final burst of words blasted out through a single burst of exhalation, directed at a creature that very well may be faster than her.


The rapid rhythm of Uranus's ideal breathing is well in the past. Already she's been cutting every corner, blasting each breath out a little before she's sated to suck down the next. She presses that limit further, her mouth grimaced open, sawing air through her lungs fast, dumping buckets of oxygen into her tortured bloodstream, the burn in her legs and chest creeping up. Like an engine burning nitrogen, Sailor Uranus's body accelerates, her limbs slashing, her knees piston-pumping. Sweat drenches her quickly, and at first it seems she will burn her body down just to stay level with the Daimon.

But somehow, she maintains it. She stretches her speed. The blocks of sidewalk beneath her feet keep flickering by at the same blinding speed. Ajinomoto Stadium, and the finish line within, begin to fill her entire vision, slurry as it is. She pushes until her teeth ache. She blinks away sweat, and feels the flame burn itself clean.

And, as the Pure Heart within her fist is carried along this asphyxiating pace, Uranus tries to focus the fizz of her consciousness into reading what is inside it. As she crosses the sidewalk onto the stadium grounds, she realizes that she already was.

There's the stairs, to her left! She's going to have to make a hard turn if she's going to make it. But at the last second, Uranus rips her thoughts in a different direction.

That's not... where the finish line is!

As her legs grow unstable, as a heady exhausted rush floods out all the pain in them, Uranus stays aimed directly at the locked gate, and forces the pavement blocks to go by just a little faster.