2020-11-25 - Hurdle Heartbreak 3

From Battle Fantasia MUSH
Jump to: navigation, search
Hurdle Heartbreak 3

Sailor Uranus beats Hurdler in a race and retrieves Elsa's Pure Heart Crystal, which thankfully turns out not to be a Talisman. Hurdler takes a wrong turn on the way back to the track and encounters an unexpected enemy. Rei wakes up with a headache. Elsa figures out that Haruka is dating a magical girl, but so does someone else. Eudial makes an ungainly escape... but lives to win another day.


Haruka Tenoh, Fuu Hououji, Usagi Tsukino, Steven Universe, Chibi-Usa Tsukino, Hotaru Tomoe, Rei Hino, Setsuna Meioh

GM: Pink Moon Stick


Ajinomoto Stadium

OOC - IC Date:

11/25/2020 - 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.                             


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


Aghast at having been suckered out of the Pure Heart Crystal, Hurdler obliges her opponent's request: she does what she was made for. She hurtles forward, posture shot but her lower profile more aerodynamic and anyway it's an open question as to whether or not she has a SPINE. Her gait transforms further as her pumping arms lose some of their tightness. They stretch and stretch like pizza dough, until her palms slap the ground at every step. Until Sailor Uranus is racing on two limbs against something on four.

And yet.

She doesn't gain; she's never in a good position to snatch their mutual objective in passing; she's never in a good position to pass at all. Every ounce of her being is poured into the run -- ninety percent -- one hundred --

-- one hundred. One hundred. One hundred.

The pavement thunders beneath Hurdler. One hundred percent. The air rushes by. One hundred percent. And Sailor Uranus drifts almost casually away, a little more distant with every passing step.


Maybe it's because she's human, after all...

Uranus has limits that the daimon doesn't. Air, blood. Lungs, heart.

And so Uranus can also, for brief, sublime moments, transcend them.

Hurdler isn't more things than she is. And those few small shreds of identity, of definition, are neither more nor better than human. They're just... not. She is monstrously strong but no stronger than she is; she is supernally fast but no faster. Her ceiling is as static as it is lofty.

The saddest part, perhaps, is that she knows no other way to be.

The daimon takes that hard left turn badly, not realizing that her foe has deviated from their track until it's too late to correct. There's a thudding sound as she plows into the stairs at high speed, instead of up them.


Rubbing her head, Hurdler regains her feet a few seconds later, but by then it's too late; Sailor Uranus is nowhere in sight. And her own mental geography of the stadium is hazy at best. Instinct had her retrace their steps TO the steps. And instinct is all she has left, in terms of where to go next.

Letting her eyes drop shut and her nostrils flare open, she concentrates. There's something in the air, some sympathetic vibration, that entices her through a door into the interior of the stadium rather than simply up and over the stands. After that she's running completely blind. All the hallways look the same to her even without her plunging down them at a punishing pace: gray concrete or gray blurred concrete, what's the difference?

But somehow her feet seem to know where to go. Or at least, there's somewhere that they know they WANT to go. Left, right, left again, each corner awkwardly slamming her into the opposite wall as she skids too widely around the turn.

Faster, faster, she has to catch up somehow...

...wait, what was THAT?

The daimon skids to a stop, then takes a few halting steps backwards, to stare down a hallway that has sunlight at the end. But it isn't the egress that attracted her attention. That led her here in the first place like a lodestone is drawn to magnetic North.

It's the little girl collapsed against the wall.

A frown is less relaxing than a smile but more relaxed than the extraordinarily strained expression of a desperate, lost sprinter, and so it is that her face softens into that puzzled expression. She is as confused about the child's condition as she is about why she cares about it in the first place.

But she does; instinctively, fiercely. She has no heart to go out to the defenseless little waif. Their connection must, therefore, be soul-to-soul.

Even kneeling at the child's side, Hurdler towers over her.

"Is something the matter?" she asks worriedly. A too-pale child. Too-sweaty. Too-shallow breathing. Everything about her feels like too much and too little all at once. "If you're not feeling well," the daimon stammers, any track-and-field health protocol authoritativeness muted by a nervousness she cannot explain, "You should go to the infirmary..."

She bends in closer still. She can't see the child's face, only a wheezing tumble of black hair. "...I can escort you..." she offers, solicitously.

And then a too-little, too-trembling, too-delicate hand clamps around her throat like a vice.

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

The instant before she leaps, Sailor Uranus plants her second to last bootfall perpendicular, then launches herself off the other foot. It sends her body into a sharp, neat twist without slowing her, so that when she slams into the gate, she does so shoulder-first and braced. The padlock does not break, but the swing-latch it is hooked through does, ripping open with a loud ping as the metal bars of the gate burst wide. The padlock slings into the concrete wall of the tunnel, sounding a musical note of finality. And Sailor Uranus hits the ground again, her balance and momentum askew from the impact, running them both into order again with hasty, careening legs.

To those on the other side, only the beginning and end of the story are told, joined together into an illusion of effortlessness. Once upon a time there was a gate nobody was looking at, then it blew open and Sailor Uranus ran through, clutching a Pure Heart that should be miles away in the other direction by now. Somehow she did what she said she would do.

It is difficult to stop running before her legs give out, a seeming paradox familiar to her from many a race. She exerts herself bringing her pedalling thighs to a halt, her head swinging forward, bobbing as she puts a hand to her knee and flicks her eyes around the field, assessing what she has missed.

Apparently? Quite a bit. The Princess's princess is having one of her supernaturally-blessed tantrums, and for once it is not Uranus and Neptune who will be foiled by it. She would love to wait for that to play out, but she is fairly sure the Daimon will not feel the same way. She calls her warning to Neptune, and any others who can tear their eyes away. Not Pluto, thus.

"She'll be back," Uranus wheezes, waving a pointed finger towards the upper levels of the stands, where the stairs will deposite Hurdler. "Any second now."

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

Eudial was casual in her cruelty towards the apparent army of people who care for this 'Small Lady.' She sneers openly at Fuu's hesitation, barks caustic scorn at Steven and Sailor Moon's collective collapse. Sailor Neptune's impotence is intoxicating, especially after the humiliations she's suffered at her hands today, and it causes the red Witch to breathe deeply of the struggle tormenting her luxuriously pretty face. Sailor Pluto she hardly hates less personally -- they have nearly as long a history, and also mere moments ago the Time Space Senshi TRASHED HER CAR, and it is she who tipped Eudial off in the first place as to the value of her hostage, so there's extra satisfaction in that. Her defiance is a miserable thing; Eudial enjoys it thoroughly.

Most magical girls will go to the mat to what she views as an absurd degree for ANY hostage, but these older, taller, more aloof and jaded Senshi... for THEM to hesitate, it really has to be someone SPECIAL.

She glances down at the little pink bundle of misery in her arms, not realizing that it's Pluto's intent gaze, Pluto's INTENSITY, that she's really following. What IS it about this kid exactly? She's just another chubby, snot-nosed munchkin, a dime-a-dozen in Tokyo, a constant infestation of rudeness and interruption at Infinity. That she hasn't WET herself is good for both of them, but that small courage hardly seems enough to justify this kind of obsessive loyalty...

Whatever. 'Good enough is good enough,' Eudial's Motto #3, sticky-noted to the edge of her monitor, applies here.

"WILL she be okay, Puu?" she counters, looking back up at Pluto and the rest. "That depends entirely on your good behavior."

She backs up one step, then another, towards the nearest exit, hauling Chibi-Usa along like the world's cutest sack of potatoes. "You let me go, and I'll let her go," is Eudial's confident offer, and also, she's suddenly strangely sure, also her lie. No way will she surrender a valuable asset so easily, not even an inexplicably valuable one. At the very least, further analysis is required to understand why--

<SoundTracker> Dreams Come True - Sailor Moon OST - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcvYvlBQuwQ

--never mind.

She'd tuned out the sniffling and is WHOLLY unaware of the nature of her hostage's distress, that she's so self-sacrificing that she's more worried about her friend than herself, even at a time like this.

But as the wail becomes a howl...

...the twinkle at her forehead grows into a column of golden radiance with Chibi-Usa at its heart. Everyone knows THAT symbol. The upturned Crescent Moon.

Much is instantly explained, and Eudial now has even more questions -- her favorite research outcome -- but unfortunately for her she also has an extremely urgent problem, because her feet are no longer quite touching the track. They're both being drawn upward, into the sky... and there's a sizzling smell, like from that one time the Professor took them all out for teppanyaki...


To characterize the light fantastic of Chibi-Usa's sublimely unleashed heritage as a bug zapper is to undersell it considerably, but ultimately the effect is the same. It ejects a blackened Eudial from its presence -- from the stadium entirely -- at the highest velocity anyone has yet achieved today. She's obviously not coming back for more; she'd wanted to leave anyway, especially now that Sailor Uranus has returned triumphant, Pure Heart in tow. Just not like this.

Everything else touched by this ethereal radiance is beautified by it. The concrete is marble. The track is a rainbow road, its grass an inner sea. Boys and girls are ennobled into princes and princesses. Even Elsa's corpse is endowed with greater vibrancy, like she might just be sleeping. A gentle feeling rolls off of the maiden in her golden suspension, like a cool cloth on a warm brow. Like the peaceful surface of a shimmering pond.

Like a full Moon on a dark night...

<SoundTracker> Music ends.

...until it's interrupted by a second apocalypse pulse. Again it only lasts a single heartbeat. What happens next is less about relative strength and more about... destructive interference; two frequencies so opposite that perhaps they're cancelling each other out to nothing. But more practically speaking, it's like someone flicked Chibi-Usa's light switch back off; she is suddenly falling, and in her transcendent tantrum she had ascended a good fifty feet into the air.

At the same time, a suspiciously Hurdler-sized and Hurdler-shaped hole is blasted through several consecutive walls, until a minor mushroom cloud of concrete dust diffuses enough from the edge of the track to reveal her. So much for Sailor Uranus' prediction of her approach. But that's not the only thing that's different. The daimon is pink no longer, but bone white, and though the dust is fading, SMOKE continues to drift off of her every feature. Her eyes are dull with fatigue as well as with the sting of defeat in a race.

They snap upwards to look at the group, and NOW everyone can see the essence of the monster within... that all-consuming HUNGER.

But it will take her a crucial few seconds to regain her equilibrium and stagger back to her feet--!

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

"Hesitant" is certainly an apt word for the Wind Knight's freezing when Eudial laid hands on her captive - but better still might have been "waiting."

The ultimatum didn't bring all movement to a halt, of course: Hurdler tore out of the stadium at a reasonable appearance of full speed, but Sailor Uranus gave chase with equal fervor, if not greater. There's little the Magic Knight of Wind can do on that front except pray, hope for the best, and see what happens. But events *within* the stadium aren't a static constant either ...

As exemplified in due course by Chibi-Usa, and a display of power to match any magical girl's awakening - or perhaps even to exceed it.

The pillar of light is short-lived, and punctuated by a flux of darkness which even the green-clad Magic Knight can't help but feel this time - maybe not so much sensing the darkness itself, but a twinge in her guts which is all too familiar from one day not yet long-enough ago. And by that point, everything else seems to be happening at once.

The daimon is back, bereft of its prize. Chibi-Usa is falling, gravity once more asserting its rightful dominance over all things physical. Sailor Uranus is also back, while Eudial is gone, the First Witch of the Five blasted away as the price of grabbing the wrong hostage.

An updraft could slow the little girl's fall - but the Wind Knight can only cast one spell at a time, and the terrifying hunger that rolls off of Hurdler's deformed and smoldering frame sets an alarm jangling through every nerve, more immediate and more strident than the pulse of disaster from an unseen (and only suspected) source.

"Emerald - !!"

Even as the Wind Knight gathers her magic, she takes note of additional movement: one of the Sailor Senshi - is it Pluto? she wonders - dashing to catch the falling Chibi-Usa. THat's one less concern, and the Wind Knight's attention focuses laser-like on the remaining actual monster. Hurdler outran the wind *once* ...

"- CYCLONE!!!!"

... now, to see how the monster fares while charging into the teeth of the tempest, not away from it.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Fuu Hououji has used Emerald Cyclone: Focused on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Moon [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

As Eudial holds Chibi-Usa-chan hostage. Sailor Moon pants in blessed oxygen in an attempt to work out the side stitches, her eyes wide and pleading that Eudial might take her instead, but that idea isn't even entertained. Even she is taken aback somewhat by Pluto's intensity, but she's not sure what to think about it - nor Chibi-Usa's pet name for her sent back her way with such cruelty.

"Please... give her back. Give back Chibi-Usa... don't go...!"

Yet she doesn't dare to even scramble too far forward and test it. What will give first? Her heart... or...? Well it turns out the 'or' is Chibi-Usa's mysterious powers, which she's seen in action before.

As Chibi-Usa begins to rise. As EUDIAL begins to rise, and is forcefully ejected from the column. Yet her alarm does not fade, because she knows what typically happens next is that the Black Moon Clan is going to be drawn by it. "...Chibi-Usa!

And so her thoughts are invested in merely trying to calm her down, as both means of protecting her and to calm her distress, "It's... going to be okay! We're all here!" The familiarity of the light's effects on those around them goes unnoticed by her, because she's far too worried to contemplate the Deja-Vu. Uranus' warning that she'll be back is important, but a distant second in her immediate attentions. "We'll protect you - and Hota-"



Suddenly there are no words, simply that understanding of profound wrongness. Pluto is rushing to catch Chibi-Usa, far more swiftly than she can dart forward. The momentary relief melts away into a dumbfounded stare at the Hurdler sized hole...

... and the bone white Daimon that made it... she remembers 'she'll be back'... "I don't... think Uranus did that..." It actually takes a moment for her to discard that possibility, as she knows Uranus is capable of quite a lot. It's just she can't articulate how this isn't at all Uranus' way of doing things. Nothing Uranus has ever done has felt like THIS. And then its eyes snap up. "AIEEEEEE!" Sailor Moon dances backwards and away in horror as if she'd just seen some awful visage of hunger. However she then brandishes her hand forward because she can offer her usual remedy... which seems like a poor match for this, but all the same, it is what she has.

Except there's only a dotted line in her hand where the Spiral Moon Heart Rod ought to be.

"Huh-?" Sailor Moon looks sidelong with a sort of awful anxiety, as not only is this a dire situation but she's goofed in a way that will get her chewed out by Luna and likely Mars in short order. "-Oh! Soooo... I'm sure - you can all handle this! Because I seem to have misplaced my..." She taps her pointer fingers together in a guilty posture, "... you know!"

A shape suddenly hurtles down from the sky end over end, and Sailor Moon stumbles sideways in an attempt to catch it quickly. Hopping on one foot and fumbling it before she finally snatches it up in both hands and hugs it to her chest. "Nevermind! GOT IT!"

Since the explosion knocked her rod into the sky, perhaps it can be said that Hurdler just passed it back to her?? That might just be wishful thinking though.

Immediately switching from hugging it like a long lost safety blanket that's suddenly been found, she immediately begins holding it on high. It's twinkle is a glimpse of eons old glory fashioned to be wielded in her hands. She then begins twirling it around while pivoting about on her toes with a dramatic flourish that nevertheless feels like an intrinsic part of the spell, lifting her leg high, spinning it in a spiral through the air as it twists behind her form. Round and round, trailing sparkles and golden hair that streams around her circuitously. Until she stops, holding it across from her body with one hand parallel, the other lifting up high


Spinning around, faster and faster, there's a certain loveliness to it that still seems inadequate to the sheer depths of the hunger that is ahead. And yet, still she continues because the idea of it overtaking them all is too horrible for her to contemplate. "-HEEEEARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRTTTTTTTTTTTTT-" That switch from high to low is smooth, with all the grace that Usagi Tsukino has not ever possessed. "-ATTACK!" So too is the shift in pose to her knees, with the rod held up high above her.

The pink light erupts forth, in waves, the light cascading outwards into flowing waves of hearts and streams of stardust joining together into one tremendous effigy of a gleaming heart.

The afterglow of the light is intense... but can it offer even one iota of resistance against that hunger?

... perhaps it's wishful thinking, but sometimes that's the only kind of thinking she has to offer.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Sailor Moon has used Moon Spiral Heart Attack! on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

The water bottle is emptied within no time. Steven breathes heavy, leaning over toward the ground. As though being closer to the grass would get him more exygen "Stop... you big meanie!" he says. That finger is stiffly pointed toward Eudial, still. As much good as it would do, either way. This currently seems like a poor standoff. And while some Senshi are currently approaching at high speed, things look dire, an expects Eudial to pull something before they get too close.

But the powers that be have another plan, as the small, near same sized friend that is Chibi-Usa, the same girl that took out that strange black crystal when escaping the ships, decides to do something on her own!

"Eep!" Steven lets out, covering his eyes. That is bright. Real bright. "That isn't a usual thing that happens, right?!" he calls to the others nearby. "She gonna be okay?"

It was rhetorical. It distinctly felt like she would be.

Something is catapulted out of the pillar of light. It looked distinctly shaped like someone with poor attitidue and odd fashion sense. Lips purse out of excitement, and saucer-sized eyes remain glued to the luminescent light.

His eyes are practically reflecting the light as well.

Good thing this light is magical and full of positivity, because otherwise it might be bad for him to stare at it like that. The moment is surely one the boy will remember.

It is sadly cut short.

That strange malevolent tick is felt again, this time causing Steven to reflexively grab his head. "That thing again?!" He turns to look behind him toward the bleachers. It is gone as quickly as it is felt, but a dynamic entry reveals their speedy foe yet stands. Though looks uh. Burnt? Spent? Tough to say.

"She's still there!" he says, turning his attention toward the settling dust cloud. And as Hurdler appears, Chibi-Usa starts to fall. "Uhhhh!" is about all that escapes his mouth, not really knowing what to do! He cant catch her safely! He's too small! He can only hope one of the taller young ladies will get her.

Others nearby begin to attack the Hurdler as well, including Fuu and Sailor Moon (who does it fabulously as well) And Steven just looks down at his shield. He doesn't have supreme blasts of positive magic like the other girls. But he sure can hit the Daimon with a shield real good!

He cannot ru nfast, but he is good at that throwing part of athletics! The boy grabs his shield firmly. "Gotta hit the mark, gotta hit--" he starts chanting as he spins in form, the shield held outward, cutting through the air. His eyes are squeezed tight.

What he doesn't see as the edge of the shield, that light teal color, glows just before release, flying at Hurdler.

Steven gets dizzy and crashes, so doesn't see the end result, but the shield spins unnaturally fast as it is thrown, and whether it lands or misses, it will impact the building behind, and leave a perfect cut. The shield is nowhere to be seen.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Steven Universe has used Lionheart on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Uranus [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

The brightness leaks through the slim-fitted glove Sailor Uranus holds up to it, revealing the few and slight loose creases from which the shadow of her finger is absent. She squints against it, but the light leaks through that too, and Uranus grimaces, closing her eyes entirely for a few seconds. It was ever the fate of the Outer Senshi to look back towards the Sun, but it had always been painful.

When the small princess falls, Uranus leaves her to the woman who knows her best, rounding instead upon Hurdler. The angle of her intrusion is unexpected, and how more so her appearance. But neither constitutes a surprise; Uranus has seen the face of what they are dealing with more than most, deep within the halls of Infinity itself.

"Neptune," she says, bookending what she said upon her departure. The intonation is reversed, this time falling instead of rising. Joining up rather than separating. The consequences for letting demons like this gain the benefit of her hesitation were written in deep, bloody gashes on Neptune's upper arm, the first time this lifetime that she laid eyes on the Sea King in her true raiment. It is not a lesson she will forget.

As Sailor Uranus drags an increasingly vast, coruscating sphere of charged air above her head, she finds that she and Neptune are collaborating with a third, unwittingly. They are not in synch with her at all, any more than they are with Steven's courageous effort with a magic discus. Nevertheless, they toss their attacks with just a few seconds gap between them and Moon Spiral Heart Attack. There's a strangeness to it.

World Shaking pays no need to the novelty. Uranus shouts its name and slings it along the ground, where it skips and sinks by turn.

"THIS is the finish line!" she shouts.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Sailor Uranus has used World Shaking! on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Chibi-Usa Tsukino [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

Chibi-Usa is in a bit of a reverie as it all happens; everything is bright, warm, safer. She is alone in short order, and rises further. There was some worry for herself, too, but all of it melds into Distress, into something within that is answered. "Uh?"

Until abrubtly she isn't flying anymore. "Aaah!"

Not noticing all the vibrancy of the wrld around her directly, she nevertheless felt that warmth--and now it's gone, and if she feels the pulse itself it's hard to say over the loud, loud sense of light disappearing. Abrubtly no longer transcendant, she is instead falling. "Aaaah!"

But Sailor Pluto is there, stepping forward to catch her and make good on the promise she made moments ago. And as she's caught, Chibi-Usa hears Sailor Moon's assurance, too--for both of them. She stll can't quite breathe, though, can't get words out yet.

But she has a good vantage point to see the brilliant lights of emerald winds, moon spirals, a pink shield... a shaking world.

Her fractured nerves can't quite put together something that seems impoortant.

COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to brace Fuu Hououji's Finisher, Emerald Cyclone: Focused, taking 44 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick braces 57 Fatigue damage from Steven Universe's Finisher, Lionheart, taking 38 Fatigue damage!  Critical
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to brace Sailor Moon's Finisher, Moon Spiral Heart Attack!, taking 277 Fatigue damage!  Critical
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to brace Sailor Uranus's Finisher, World Shaking!, taking 99 Fatigue damage!  Pink Moon Stick is
unable to keep fighting!
<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.

Hurdler never gets to the point of charging anything. Fuu's cyclone is too much momentum against her rise from the very start. So often does the Magic Knight summon the winds as an inhibitor, but rarely so effectively -- or so brutally.

For, absent that freedom of movement, there is no way, none at all, for the daimon to escape that which is coming for her.

The immense heart of Moon Spiral Heart Attack from the left. A razor-sharp shield, contradiction in terms, from the right.

And World Shaking, straight down the middle.

It is the finish line, as Sailor Uranus says.

But... that is less satisfying than it ought to be.

Because historically those gaudy-pink hearts more or less effortlessly obliterate anything in their path as long as anything is something that is corruption, that is darkness, that is a sufficiently pure evil. On their worse days the Outer Senshi might wonder what would happen if their Princess levied that power against them. Would they be unharmed? How can they possibly be immune to a power that only spares the innocent and pure?

Maybe Sailor Moon was thrown by the evil feeling from right before. Maybe she psyched herself out.

Or maybe she's right to be worried about matching her strength against hunger's...

...because the massive heartful attack shattered AGAINST Hurdler, instead of shattering HER through IT. And then it was Steven's strike, and the Outers' follow-up, that finished it off.

It did not die saying 'Lovely.'

Is she getting weaker? Or are the daimon... getting stronger?

The battle ended very rapidly, too quickly for immediate analysis, and since it ended in victory regardless, it's not like it ended WRONG.

But, nevertheless, there's an unusually ominous feeling, after. No one thing in particular, just everything in general. Maybe this is what it feels like to be Uranus and Neptune, plagued by troubled winds and dark seas.

At least there's one way to improve everyone's moods.

Elsa is still sprawled out on the track -- a track no longer littered with magically conjured hurdles. It just looks like she took a bad fall.

And it needn't be anything more than that, for her.

Which is something worth fighting for...


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

If this moment does make Sailor Moon feel what the Outers often feel, it also makes the Outers feel what the Outers often feel. Uranus knows well how effective that attack normally is on youma. But not all difficult problems are complex. There is only one shortcut Uranus knows of to ending this threat before it metastasizes. And the Outers are already on it.

For now, she holds the Heart of her friend literally in her hand. Stepping over to Neptune, close enough that she does not need to hold the Pure Heart out for them both to touch it, she lets her partner check it over as well. Neptune can see in Uranus's eyes that she knows the answer already--she is a bit slower at checking for Talismans than her partner, but she had slipped into a deep understanding of this crystallized spirit on her way here.

Perhaps in having Neptune check her work, she is trying to make a statement to herself, or to Sailor Moon, Fuu, and Steven. She will not accept the answer she had hoped for just because she hoped for it. She wants to be sure that Elsa Grey doesn't have to die.

She makes eye contact with Sailor Moon, in fact, blank and cold. That girl is quick to see redemption if you let her. Uranus wants her to understand what this is not.

But eye contact makes it difficult to hide a flicker of relief when Neptune confirms what she already knows.

Letting her senshi raiment dissolve back into her coarse Aran sweater, Uranus becomes Haruka Tenoh again, and walks to Elsa's side. Placing a knee down, she gives Elsa's empty face a look before she goes further.

"All right, Grey," she says, pushing the Pure Heart down against her sternum. "Walk it off."

COMBAT: Sailor Uranus transforms into Haruka Tenoh!
<Pose Tracker> Chibi-Usa Tsukino [Juuban Public School (5)] has posed.

It's weird. That didn't end how it usually ends at all. But Chibi-Usa, as she gets her feet under her metaphorically, prepares to get her feet under her literally. With another hug to Pluto, she says, "I'm okay," more or less asking to be set down. She's not so small anymore that carrying her is completely trivial, but she's still the smallest of those remaining here. And she looks around... and spots Uranus with the Crystal, returning to Elsa.

She doesn't entirely get what's happening there; she doesn't catch that cold, blank look. "Oh, good," she starts, with a breath of relief, and then turns to the others.

"Thanks," she says to Puu first, and then she turns to look at all of the efforts. "Um--Hotaru-chan's in bad shape too... We have to go help her!"

She is at least calmer than she was before about it. After all, Sailor Moon too said...

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

"Hup hup hup hup!"

A three-man medic team in Ajinomoto staff tracksuits is moving someone out onto the field on a stretcher. Someone too-little and too-dark and too-pale all at once. Someone unconscious.

It isn't a large stretcher, but Hotaru is exceptionally small upon it. She looks peaceful in repose, however, which is an entire world of improvement from the last time Chibi-Usa saw her.

"We found her collapsed in one of the hallways," their chief remarks to any curious-looking bystanders. "But her vitals are normal. The air and sunlight will do her good... she should come around any time now."

Indeed, something of her exceptionally deathly pallor is lifting as she inhales the freshly mowed grass all around her. Her sunlit cheeks are almost rosy. This is what it looks like, when Sleeping Beauty is kissed awake from her long sleep. When a flower blooms in winter, and it yields at last to spring. When the starving have had their needs met at long last.

Or at least the edge taken off a bit.

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Thrice - The Earth Isn't Humming https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcD81fKRZVU

The centre cannot hold. And what does this mean, for someone so keen to the ways of the world beyond?

Before the world was stone.

All stone, crashing together.

Now the world is stone.

All stone, frozen in place.

Primordially, essentially, and in this moment. This moment, again.

An expression frozen to stone.


A building, frozen to stone. A bird. A blade of grass. Stone.

Everyone she loves.

Everyone she trusts.

And she...

"Silence..." Forbid the word; it transgresses. In this world is only the rasp of hunger mid-sating. In this world, sound crumbles.

Throwing arms around one small statue, the medium cries out. "Please, I can't win alone..!" To whom does the prayer fall? She has no ally, when existence ends, these prophecies of damnation. Perhaps there is a statue of her, somewhere, too; the her who would face oblivion, not the her who sees what is to come. Not the her who feels the heaviness of the air as it pulls into her lungs, the utter exhaustion of the earth itself, existence itself on dwindling life-support in the absence of its heroes. All colour drains to red; all life drains to emptiness; and it crumbles.

Sound, and everything else. This storm of consumption brings down everything in its path, and she cannot stand against it alone. Even the stars have fled the sky.

Arms around the statue, she feels it falling, first. Unmaking. And the girl there, and the girl here...

Darkness lashes -- complete.


It's still dark, when existence creeps back into Mars's consciousness. She realises only afterwards it is the fault of her very own eyelids, and they scrunch, all too aware of the way the blades of grass tickle at her face.

Hand to the ground, she pushes herself up with an exclamation of, "Chibi-Usa-chan--!!" From her perspective, she was kneeling down to help the girl mere moments ago.

It's only as she looks around that she realises how long the vision took her; the battle is done. And, that presence...

... never mind. They've won the battle, evidently, even as there is something that screams at the back of her mind. Was it that same presence which called the harkening Silence to her mind--? Surely they could not have defeated it so easily; though, perhaps this unsettled conclusion is itself a consequence of the creeping malaise at her neck.

She shakes her head, as she pushes herself up. She only sees the tail-end of Neptune and Uranus's consideration, but regardless she sees it; as well does she see what follows, as Uranus presses the Pure Heart back into Elsa's chest. "What a relief..."

There is something to Sailor Mars which sounds tired, but she must be tired; she evidently hit her head at the start of this fight, and she's just now picked herself up. It's not until Chibi-Usa speaks up that she thinks again on what she was trying to do -- and here Sailor Mars picks herself up, even as the medic team hups in. "Ah--!" Her gasp, hand to chest, is soon given relief by their explanation, and she moves closer, step -- over blade of grass -- step.

"Hotaru-chan..." Mars trails off, before she looks back up to Chibi-Usa. "... you were really worried about her, weren't you? I'm sorry I couldn't help her... but I'm glad she's all right." She is all right, isn't she..? ... no, surely Sailor Mars just has a bad feeling because of what happened.

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

With the daimon's obliteration, the Wind Knight lowers her arms, but not quite her guard; her armor remains intact about her as she takes stock of the situation.

Hurdler is defeated - no trace remains of the track-and-field-themed daimon. Similarly, Eudial remains completely gone from the stadium - and good riddance, for as long as that lasts. The Witch of the Five will certainly be back someday, but not today.

And in the innocents' column, Chibi-Usa is safe, and intact enough to worry about her friend. The crystal which was forcibly ejected from Elsa Grey is being returned from whence it came - and if the Wind Knight had somehow missed Tenou-senpai being Sailor Uranus before, there's no question left about it now. They really should talk at some point, thinks the Magic Knight of Wind ... but not now. And who's to say when they will?

Movement catches the Wind Knight's eye; rather than running, she walks, seeming more curious than worried. From what the lead medic says, there's no need for the Winds of Healing - at least not for the dark-haired girl, and from another glance around, maybe not much among the other combatants. So the green-clad Magic Knight takes one more step forward -

- and then backwards, far more quickly, her face blanching and a look of alarm flashing across her face. She schools her reaction in the next heartbeat, taking a deep breath, left palm pressing over her breastplate as if to settle her heart back down. The last time she saw Hotaru this closely was a moment out of nightmare ... a moment which remains peculiar in Fuu's memories, all but disconnected, even isolated, from 'before' and 'after': a moment which broke all sense she'd acquired of the world of magic.

For now, and with a small effort, the Wind Knight can put that memory away again, keep it sequestered from her knowledge of the world. "I'm glad to hear she'll be all right," the Magic Knight of Wind finally says ... and if her smile is a little on the hollow side, blame the recent battle, and the near-calamity when Eudial took a hostage. Then she looks around, "Is everyone else ... ?"

She trails off, this time jogging over to where Steven landed. "Are you all right?" she asks the young shield-warrior, leaning down to offer him a hand. Just in case he needs it.

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

When the Moon Spiral Heart Attack shatters against Hurdler the Senshi's eyes grow wide with alarm. It's not that she wasn't already feeling plenty anxious about the idea of facing off against whatever it was she was feeling. It's just that typically her anxiety is only half-founded. "It didn't..."

When the others do finish it off, she's still staring at that spot for a long time. Relieved... and yet all the same, she says quietly.

"... it didn't work."

She remembers when the Moon Princess Halation had difficulty facing down the the alien Protodaimons. When something precious born of love was formed - she thought for a time, she had the power to at least hold her own. Now though...

... now though she wonders what would be enough if these beings are backed by that terrible hunger?

It feels like yet another threat to the small happinesses that make up her life. Taking a small breath, Sailor Moon looks over to Uranus expectantly.

Perhaps because of that mysterious closeness that Uranus has to Elsa Grey, Usagi believed without a doubt that Uranus would spare this heart - and it is true that she does. But she does not spare her without letting Neptune glimpse it first. There is startlement at seeing Uranus' cold glare over this. And she has to inhale sharply, waiting with the others in that tense moment...

... eventually the heart is returned though, and she would swear, she saw relief. Relief that Uranus could spare someone else who runs for the sheer joy of it. Yet she's not certain, and that lack of complete certainty causes her to stare at the ground near Elsa Grey for some time... just considering the kind of woman Haruka has made herself, in order to best this.

Sailor Moon's blonde hair gently waves in the breeze as she contemplates this.

Yet such thoughts do not long hold a grasp on her mind as Chibi-Usa mentions Hotaru... "Bad shape?" Sailor Moon looks up her way, "Hotaru-chan is in- lead the way!"

The medic team though leads up, and Usagi scrambles in that direction - though perhaps remains behind where Chibi-Usa assuredly is. "Oh thank goodness!" Sailor Moon though gives her a strange look at the fairy tale quality which seems incongruent with how she knows the sickly child, but she's far too relieved by her good health to even dream of darker implications to it.

And then Sailor Moon sees Mars return, "Mars-chan?" And Moon suddenly runs over to her, "Oh there you are!" Moon puts a hand on her shoulder as if to hold her up, "Are you okay?" Moon gives her this look of concern, Mars doesn't look that bad but... "Hurdler didn't head you off and force you to... run laps right?"

Compared to facing whatever was behind that hunger that is perhaps the second worst fate she can think of, but it's the only explanation she has for Chibi-Usa having come back seeking help, and Hotaru not being in Mars' care, just... that she never got there to begin with.

With another glimpse at Hotaru, Moon looks at Elsa and whispers to Mars... "You know... if she'll be awake soon then maybe..." It's a selfish thought, to consider asking of someone... but... her eyes turn to look at Elsa Grey's progress... to consider asking her for a favor to one of her fans.

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

In a world where less and less feels like a sure thing, what happens with the Pure Heart is reassurringly predictable. It sinks straight into Elsa's very fit chest like a stone sinks into water: slowly, deliberately, completely.

She takes her first breath a heartbeat later, and her eyes reopen a heartbeat after that.

Haruka hasn't gazed deeply into those eyes maybe ever. Certainly she is suddenly aware that they have stared at her for far more seconds, total. Tic-tic-tic. Every second Elsa was behind her on the track. Every second Elsa strove so mightily and joyfully to chase the wind.

They are so dark that they're almost liquid. Ink-blot eyes. Not crying; not a mess; but a splendidly rich hue, which the very best inks must be, to keep their color when they sink so deeply into thick, high-grade paper.

"Tenoh," she groans. Gradually she becomes aware of her altered location. The exact memories are fading fast, as they always do -- Old Queen Serenity's blessed curse of a final wish. She was, they were?, running... there was an attack, some kind of... gunman? That's all so wild, and so weird.

But her first instinct, when she sees her old friend and lost rival, whose business is so unfinished, kneeling over her like that, is to deflect Haruka's worries. No magic, dark or light, is required to make that happen.

It's the jock code, you see.

"What," she jokes thickly, in dire need of a long drink, "Did I get high on your girlfriend's perfume and pass out?"

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Meioh [Infinity Institute (U)] has posed.

Small Lady is okay.

And so, Puu knows as she receives and returns a hug that is tight but not as tight as the squeezing around her heart, is she.

"More than," is her reply as she lowers one knee and one Princess to the turf in a smooth, sure motion. The smile is in her eyes. Pluto remains kneeling after Chibi-Usa steps away. Her first friend asks the others for aid for Hotaru, and only then do her eyes turn sad again.

It looks like that girl will also be okay. Pluto's heart squeezes further as she sees how small Hotaru looks on that stretcher; she looks away, sees Uranus with Neptune and both of them with the Pure Heart and the fallen Elsa Gray. Time's Guardian rises more slowly than she knelt, and walks to join them.

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

The fall was a little harsh, but worth the effort. By the time he gets a hold of the situation again, the Hurdler has been dealt with, having not seen most of the amazing forces at work to decimate it. They are cool to watch though! Such fanciful and awe-inspiring powers-- are these what he will have when he gets older?

Time will tell. "Yeah! You guys did it!" he cheers toward Fuu and all the Senshi-- actually, Uranus is already gone. Huh. A very handsome person is on the track instead. Came out of hiding to check on Elsa, looks like!

The boy accepts the hand to stand up. "Thanks," he offers back kindly. Only a few blades of grass and some green tinting on one knee are all that comes from the fall.

The medics arrive with Hotaru in tow. "Hey, isn't that the girl from the festival?" he comments, seeing the frail form on the stretcher. "The one at the booth some of us went to?" He knows Chibi-Usa and Fuu were there. At least they would get what he meant. Not that he knew many others present were there too.

"Uhh. So!" he turns to some of the other fighters. "I have a suggestion. When a fight happens and a vehicle is involved, blame it on the badguy. All of it. Even the wall area the Hurdler broke."

"Don't ask how I gained this wisdom," he says, slowly lowering the aviators back over his eyes, crosses his arms, and stands vigilant.

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

Sailor Mars doesn't know the anguish Sailor Moon is feeling right now over her inability to make a lovely end to this battle, but...

Her gloved hand comes up over Moon's, and she smiles. "Oh, I wish. She just hit me over the head, I guess... right in front of Pluto and Neptune and Uranus, too..! ... hey," Sailor Mars leans in, conspiratorially. "We could say Hurdler made me run laps though, right? I mean, if they weren't looking, would it really hurt anything to make it sound better..?" Clearly, Mars is taking Steven's advice to heart when it comes to blaming the bad guy.

Still, maybe it just sounds better from Sailor Moon's perspective, but that's the one Mars is really worried about. All those times she's almost fallen asleep in the middle of Ami's study groups...

... she hasn't really talked about what's bothering her.

It's not like she's trying to hide it, or anything. It's just...

Well, this unsettling feeling...

Mars stops thinking about that, though, when Moon whispers again. "Hey, they'll both need to recover. Maybe we can get them to rest up in the same room!" It's only a moment later that she pauses, and thinks, "... oh, but Hotaru-chan can be so shy... maybe that would upset her." Not every person is gung-ho about bad ideas, Mars. Congratulations on belatedly realising that.

<Pose Tracker> Haruka Tenoh [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

Haruka can be a jealous sort. But it takes more than confiding to her that her girlfriend is really, really hot. She's aware of that. This is half-flattery to her, really, though part of the art of banter is to be a good sport and let yourself be a bit annoyed.

"You would know if that was true, because it doesn't leave you looking like shit afterwards when it happens. Hotshot like you, passing out from a little cardio."

Haruka offers Elsa a hand, and when they grasp one another's wrists, she bolsters her elbow too. It's an unfussy intimacy, neither clinical nor shy; in no hurry to release Elsa, but with no note of lingering either.

"Let's skip the part where we talk around it," she says, more seriously, as her arm drops to her side again. "It all happened right in front of you, and I'm too goddamn tired to put on a show of being freaked out. Besides, you were obviously checking out my girlfriend." A wry note that does not reach her eyes.

"So." Haruka breaks eye contact for the first time since Elsa reopened them. She'd needed a while to celebrate the fact that Elsa could open them, perhaps, but now she finds she needs that little bit of privacy back. "...you get why, now?"

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

Despite everything, that smile is in Small Lady's eyes too in the moments Pluto sets her down. She doesn't notice the way her dear friend's expression changes when she gives her request.

The stretcher comes into view before Chibi-Usa gets very far at all; she spots her quickly, and her eyes widen in surprise--but she sees how much better she looks, too. "Oh..."

"So she's okay?" Chibi-Usa asks, looking up a the one talking, and she slouches in obvious relief. She didn't end up finding help before Hotaru got it anyway... But the important part is that she got it. Right?

"Are you okay?" she asks Mars. "I was worried about you, too..." Step. Step. She turns, looks at everyone, smiles her thanks at Fuu, too, and then looks to Sailor Moon. "Hm?"

She turns back to Pluto and her eyes shine. "I'm glad you were here..."

And then she starts to walk gently towards Hotaru. "Uh huh!" she answers Steven, "Hotaru-chan."

She leaves behind the suggestion about the vehicle... Steven's wisdom goes unquestioned for the moment.

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

Hotaru's eyes flutter, and she blinks away the sunlight several times before they can focus. She sees... sky, mostly. Concerned, unfamiliar, adult, medical faces.

That's bad, mostly.

She doesn't see Chibi-Usa.

That's... good, mostly.

It has to be good.

She promised herself, she'd be good.

"Whoa, take it easy," one of the men worries at her, as she sits up and rubs her face. "Nice and slow, kiddo."

"I'm okay," she says shyly, looking down. Then urgency drives her to meet the gaze of this stranger. "Is... everyone else? No one got hurt?"

They exchange bewildered gazes.

"Everything's fine," the chief reassures her, settling a fatherly hand on her elbow that makes her almost jump out of her skin with surprise. He quickly removes it, frowning a little.

Hotaru shrinks from the change in his expression, worried that she's done something wrong, and hastens to get her legs under her. It's very filly-like. Long skinny sticks. Awkward. Unstable. But she makes it eventually. Falling back on one of the earliest trained behaviors she has, she bows, and announces as politely as possible, with precocious seriousness, "My family forbids me from seeing outside doctors. Thank you very much for your care. Please excuse me."

And then she looks around for someone that she recognizes...

...and spots...Elsa.

Her pretty blush -- pretty unusual, unusually pretty -- intensifies.

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

Elsa was Michiru's friend before Haruka ever knew her, firmly platonic. She would never have checked her out before or after, first Elsa was too young and then Michiru was too taken, but she yielded any possessiveness to the inevitable long ago. It is always better to be graceful, when things change, than to be difficult. So she was trying not to be difficult.

But Haruka challenges her to acknowledge the truth.

Her face knits. She's half a head shorter but shoulder-to-shoulder, speaking quietly and earnestly to each other, the two of them seem a lot more the same than they are different.

"Mmm," she hums, low-voiced, just above a grunt. "It felt like you'd run away from running, but maybe I just assumed the worst. It looks like... you've had a pretty good reason, for doing what you did."

She glances over at Michiru thoughtfully. The mystic of their middle school class. No surprise when she wound up at the 'school for sorceresses'. Artistic. Musical. Fabulously, fantastically feminine.

"Dating one of those magical girls... tough life," she says with more incisive sympathy than joking. It's pretty easy to imagine when you think about it, and more serious than funny; sure, Michiru being super-strong and bench pressing Haruka is HILARIOUS, but staying up at night worrying about your cop or soldier partner is not. "Glad she was here though. Otherwise, I don't think I'd still be."

Her hand drifts over her heart.

"I don't want to make things weird for her," she decides, "By letting on. So... thank her for me, without it being from me," she orders Haruka firmly. "Take her to dinner or something. She did good today."

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

Chibi-Usa is not up in the sky to be seen, anymore. Instead she is walking towards Hotaru, spotting the men worrying over her before she can see Hotaru herself rising. Her seriousness of course would be no surprise to Chibi-Usa.

She glances over to Haruka and Elsa when she sees Hotaru's gaze on them, but only in passing as she walks up to the other girl, her small pink self starting to greet her, "Hotaru-chan!"

"I'm so glad you're okay... I tried to go find help like you said, but... it looks like they found you first. Are you...?"

Her expression is all innocence and happiness, a quiet relief that is too effusive for someone as small as she is, a quietly radiating warmth no less bright than the light that sprang up around her not so long ago.

....Then she she gets closer she peers over to where Hotaru is looking again, curiously.

<Pose Tracker> Haruka Tenoh [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

Haruka does not react to the idea of running away from running. That is, itself, a reaction. She doubts if Elsa's feeling about the past can be settled and shifted all at once like this. Even if they could, she knows hers could not.

She watches with sympathy as Elsa works through what Haruka has asked her to confront. It was difficult for Haruka, back then. Michiru had not been very gentle in her role as guide, perhaps because she was never meant for it. Haruka was not some lost sheep, or some student. She was supposed to be Michiru's partner, and she wasn't.

It's different for Elsa. Haruka can afford to be gentler. It's nothing to do with sentiment over having seen her clinically dead body moments ago.

Haruka tilts her head a little in acknowledgement. She had a good reason. It's not that she wants forgiveness--what did she owe Elsa, after all? But Elsa understanding, at least, what had actually happened, is a relief she had not realized how much she craved.

But Elsa seems to be wandering in a different direction than Haruka had expected...

Haruka almost blows it wide open accidentally with something like, 'Well, she puts her transformation pen on the right nightstand, and I put mine on the left.' But when she gets it, she grimaces a fake smile, startled. Her spine creeeeaks a little as she turns her head to look at Michiru, briefly hiding her face from Elsa. Her expression is flabbergasted, but also rueful.

Somehow Michiru wins a lot. Haruka, other than her duties, has one of the most charmed lives on Earth, and somehow Michiru manages to punk her like this.

Depending on how well Elsa's concealed her own realization, Michiru may not know exactly what victory she just achieved, but she will be happy to hear later on, Haruka is sure. She closes her eyes, accepts her fate, then turns back to Elsa. Having gotten that out of her system, she finds herself more touched than annoyed.

Bit of both, though.

"She's... really something else. Dating her changed everything."

She chuckles a little. "You're damn right. If someone saves your life, you owe them forever, right?" A sparkle in her eyes. "I'll pamper her a lot this week, just for you. Just... a great home team for my big strong magical girl."

Haruka folds her arms. "What say I start pampering her by dragging her old friend to a coffee shop? You look too tired to fight back, and I know she'd love ten or fifteen minutes of catching up." Unfortunately, Haruka and Michiru shouldn't spare much more than that. There are some things they learned today they should be debriefing.

"I won't let her know," Haruka whispers, "that you know."

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

Hotaru startles in a very different way when she's approached by Chibi-Usa instead of some stranger. She's still pink -- as though some of her best friend's glow has leaked into her and is now there to stay -- but it's... sweeter, both more innocent and more intimate. She's so simply and blindingly relieved to see her in one piece. To know that she's okay.

That nothing bad happened.

It's an immensely important victory to her.

The way that Chibi-Usa is radiating warmth feels... nostalgic. Her eyes unfocus for a second as she simply basks in her well-being. Her effervescence. She's so wonderfully lively. Being near her is like being at a favorite holiday dinner with her family. Or at least how she imagines that would be, because she can't remember ever celebrating such a tradition in that way.

She firmly ignores her tummy, which just made a tiny rumble, maybe too small for anyone else to hear. Hopefully so, because otherwise she'd have to be mortified right now, and she's busy being happy instead.

"Chibi-Usa-chan," she says, breathless with joy. "You did perfect. Thank you so much."

Swallowing -- the last of her nerves, not saliva, honest -- she holds out a hand and gestures with her chin at the athlete. "Do you maybe still want to... come meet her with me?"

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

<SoundTracker> Friendship - Sailor Moon S OST - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BkfjopFAGk

Elsa's feeling stronger by the second. She props her palms on her hips and nods like an approving uncle at Haruka's dutiful and romantic assertions of Michiru's extreme worthiness. That nod was also for Haruka's whisper. It was a sneaky double-nod. Those are necessary, now that she's in on the secret.

The last thing she'd ever want to do is cause trouble for her new favorite magical girl. She hadn't really been following that whole phenomenon, but that changes tonight. She and Google are obviously going to have to have a long conversation. And then she can bug Haruka when she's better-equipped to ask the right questions.


This is an excellent plan.

"You underestimate me," she declares, lifting her chin. "As usual. Tell you what, I'll meet you two at the one across the street in half an hour. It'll let me hit the showers, and," she glances at the two children standing near a stretcher, one of them obviously as sickly as she herself used to be as a child, "Take care of my fans."

Her smile loses its pridefulness, and becomes very gentle instead. Very kind.

She really does have a pure heart.


<SoundTracker> Witches 5 - Sailor Moon S OST - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSQPcS88x8I

Eudial's lab coat did not survive the station wagon's destruction, so not only is she on a platform having to wait for the next train, but everyone around is giving her weird looks over her... eclectic... outfit. Her baleful glare is more than enough to make the worst offenders back off. What's irritating about this is that it is NECESSARY.

She taps her bare foot -- yes, she's getting a lot of looks for that reason also, RIP her favorite pair of high heels -- and tries to focus. Today was an extremely eventful day, if she can just look past the lingering fireball enraging her mind's eye, the one that used to be the car.

Yes, at first blush, she lost everything. Her Extractor Gun Mk I. Her Fire Buster Mk II. Her ride. Her shoes. Her daimon. Her dignity. It wasn't just a loss, it was a farce. She was routed by the tantrum of a girl too small to have her feet touch the ground when she sits at the dinner table.

Another dud Pure Heart instead of a Talisman.

Another failure.


Eudial's sticky-noted motto #4: Every defeat leads to the next victory.

Why is she the first of the Witches 5?

It's not because she's the weakest, or the most expendable, as those sailor-suited bitches smugly implied. She tells a lot of lies but they irritated her into telling the EXACT truth today.

She's the smartest. The researcher. The hunter. Systematic. Meticulous. Targeted.

Not like Mimete, whose Talisman analytics and celebrity mood board are one and the same. Useless.

Not like Viluy, whose operation will admittedly be impressive as hell when she finally stops dragging it out and pushes the damn button on her machine -- as will Tellu's, when it comes into season -- but both of them are banking on just rolling as many dice as they can at once and hoping they get lucky. She knows better. Statistics are not on their side. Tokyo just has too goddamn many people.

Not like Cyprine, who's apparently too cool to do anything.

No, the only other operative worth a damn as regards the race for the Holy Grail is Kaolinite, and she's the boss. She'd damn well better be competent. But she's too busy with other duties of her leadership to pull the kind of all-nighters she'd need to crack this with her mystical scrying.

So it's down to Eudial, collector of data, master of analytics. Information warfare.

Remember what she said at the very beginning of the fight?

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.

At least her glasses survived the fight. She pulls them out of her pocket and pushes them up her nose until they gleam.




She doesn't even need to use facial recognition to identify two of them. Oh no. She knows EXACTLY who they are. She recognized them on sight. She knows all the faces of her precious classmates. And soon, she will know everything else.

It's time to do a little research...

...into Haruka Tenoh and Michiru Kaioh.

As for the one who remains a mystery? Well, she knows Sailor Garnet Ghost's WEAKNESS, now. She doesn't NEED to know her name.

She was so engrossed in thought that she almost missed her train. Hastening to board it, she stares out through the slightly foggy window.

She stares at Tokyo. At everything and nothing.

Oh yes, today was an epic loss.

Eudial narrows her eyes so her gaze can penetrate the razor blade of her reflected smile.