2020-11-27 - Phantom Empire Strikes Back

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Phantom Empire Strikes Back

Namakelder reminds the magical girls that Terribads and Kindabads are a thing. The Sister Schools use midterms to test out new high-end VR exam software at Infinity.


Mikoto Minagi, Fuu Hououji, Setsuna Higashi, Niramo Umokeshi, Iona Hikawa

GM: Pink Moon Stick


Infinity Institute - Classrooms

OOC - IC Date:

11/27/2020 - 10-14-15

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Classrooms +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
  Typically painted in a somewhat lighter shade of the purple so common in      
  Infinity, the classrooms are often arranged with steep auditorium seating,    
  such that even the students in the back are able to see and hear. The         
  equipment in the rooms exceeds even Ohtori's considerable sophistication,     
  with the blackboard being replaced in most cases by a ceiling-height,         
  motion-sensitive display, with various controllers available. Class is often  
  a multimedia experience, in the hands of teachers who can make skillful use   
  of this technology, lured in quantity by Infinity's high wages and prestige.  
  Less tech-savvy teachers can get by on pedagogical talent, but Infinity has   
  a reputation to build.                                                        
  Many classrooms are emblazoned with the Infinity logo, either on the wall or  
  floor. Desks are metal--brushed or painted black--and many have touchscreens  
  built right into their surface, with which worksheets and tests can be        
  simultaneously displayed for all students, and even graded automatically      
  when appropriate.                                                             
  Unlike traditional Japanese schools, Infinity does not have homerooms.        
  Students move from classroom to classroom every period, in the Western        
  fashion. This has the advantage of making the classrooms themselves more      
  specialized, but the disadvantage of depriving students of a room that is     
  theirs, to feel attached to. Infinity does still require students clean       
  classrooms, which they do on a rotating basis.                                
<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.
<SoundTracker> The City Full Of Smiles - Hachipre OST - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfCijjfWRyk

Infinity Institute has been selected to host both mock and official exams for the most rigorous academic test in Japan, the National Academy Decathalon. Brainiacs from around the country have been queueing up at Infinity on the weekends to come in and try the state-of-the-art exam software, which apparently includes not only regular test questions, but simulated laboratories for the science setions. Doing well on these exams is great for getting into high schools, universities, and most of all for genius bragging rights. Needless to say, competition is fierce... and there are whispers of sabotage amongst those at the highest ranks. Who wouldn't do everything they can to be the best?

But today is not ABOUT those little geniuses. It's about the fact that the state-of-the-art exam software being developed at Infinity is partially publically funded, and that somewhere in there was a requirement by some bureaucrat to get a larger and more general sample of software testers than just the obsessively academic overachiever stripe. Conveniently, the Institute has an existing strong relationship with TWO OTHER SCHOOLS in order to create a well-varied pool of candidates!

All this to say that a randomly selected subsample of Ohtori Academy and Juuban Public School students are also sitting their midterms at Infinity Institute this year. Entire classes are being brought over so that everyone within the same class gets the same testing experience, which is, of course, somewhat unusual and disruptive when compared to being at one's own ordinary desk, pen and paper in hand.

On the other hand, it's also kind of... awesome.

Infinity desks often have touchscreens but this classroom has been equipped with VR visors also. Don't worry, no sign of any fruitrasaurs. Nevertheless to put one on is to descend into a fully immersive testing experience. Questions are augmented by contextualizing sounds and images. Answers are delivered holographically through some kind of image-detecting camera; sometimes that means pushing a button corresponding to one's choice among multiples, but it can also mean touching the right place on a map, or labeling a diagram that is fully 3D-rotational.

There are several proctors at the front of the room. The teacher of each class, of course, who are just kind of playing along with all this, going with the flow, and -- when asked -- doing their best to help their students with any confusion. Yui Bidou, an Infinity 10th-grader who also heads up their science department and computer club, has bent her pale blue head in closely alongside the creator of the examination software, little Urata Yamashiro, who seems to be from Infinity ELEMENTARY school of all things, given his white-and-navy uniform. They switch between observing the group operating the software and whispering furiously to each other. That, and occasionally one of the teachers who doesn't know HOW to help their student shouldertaps them for an explanation.

It is, all in all, a pretty sparkling experience by midterms standards. There's unusual excitement in the room, a buzz of energy and enthusiasm which Yui is even now pointing out to Urata will have to be considered when analyzing exam outcomes.

After an initial tutorial that was projected to the whole room from the front of the class, students are now expected to register at their individual spaces. It seems as though the adaptive exam technology ('the questions might change depending on how well or how poorly you're doing!') has already begun, because some people just get a couple perfunctory questions before being asked to sign their name in digital starlight, while others get increasingly unusual requests. No two registrations are the same.

A typical example...

  • Name?
  • Grade?
  • School?
  • Blood Type?
  • Favorite Book?
  • Favorite Song?
  • If you had five cookies and were at a table with four friends, what would you do?
  • Have you ever been in love?
  • Do you prefer basketballs or soccer balls?
  • Sweet or spicy?
  • What do you feel is the most important virtue for a life well lived?

It's somewhere between filling out a dating profile and one's own sidebar in a world where one was a manga protagonist. The software seems to think there's no wrong answers to this one, but it is eager, in a friendly way, to plumb the psyches of anyone who answers it earnestly.

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

Clearly, this selection was random, because few people would look to the mediocre academic output of Mikoto Minagi and think she would make a fine scholastic ambassador. But give her credit - she has tried very hard to make up for all the schooling she missed while she was having a hard time at home. She's not failing her classes any more! And that means, now midterms are upon them...

The pressure is on.

Can Mikoto continue to struggle herself to an average grade in her classes..? That's still an achievement for her, given how she only really entered proper schooling in ninth grade.

This isn't even a diversion, any more. Class used to be something very low on her priorities list - her life plan simply didn't involve anything which would require education. But now she has freed herself from a future of strife, Mikoto has had time to think about what future she wants for herself, about life as an adult. A little later than other students in eleventh grade, perhaps, but no less earnestly.

She's decided she wants to work with cats. She's good with cats. If she can help other people communicate with cats too, then she can make things better for lots, lots more cats. This is a particular struggle, because the careers counselors have been quite clear she'll need to perform well in biology to work with animals, and science is hardly something which plays to her strengths. But she's trying..!!

And so she arrives in earnestness to Infinity's infinitely impressive exam rooms, and feels immediately dwarfed. (And deeply nervous, seeing the VR setup, though surely since these aren't video games it will be just fine.) She tries to pay attention to the tutorial projected out, because technology and Mikoto have always been poor friends. Sitting down at her assigned space...

She's asked for her name; Mikoto Minagi. Her grade is eleventh, of course, at Ohtori Academy. But then they ask for her blood type, and Mikoto pauses for a full minute as she tries to remember back to the doctor's appointment Mai dragged her to. Finally she remembers: B!

Who she is in the dark (or when answering an increasingly strange registration process) is someone who would eat five cookies, though to her credit she at least deliberates on that for a moment. No deliberation at all is required when they ask her about sweetness or spice: sweet flavour wins out immediately. So, too, is there zero hesitation in answering whether she's ever been in love, because Mikoto loves Mai, and she loves all her friends, and she loves her Lord Brother, and she loves Eri, which she knows now are different types of love but they certainly all count.

And then they ask her about the virtue of a life well-lived...

A minute passes. Tick, tick, tick.

Finally, she inputs: 'making special people smile.'

Luckily, that's the last question it asks her for the moment. Maybe the algorithm picked up on how hard it was to answer.

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

Even a 10th-grader needs to take the National Academy Decathlon seriously, *triply* so for an Infinity student, and Fuu is no exception. While she hasn't been hitting the practice/demonstration sessions on a weekly basis, she *has* been hitting the books with increasing vigor as midterms drew near, and she made sure to get a good night's sleep last night rather than staying up late to study.

Thankfully, the pollen count is normal for the season, maybe even a little on the low side. Fuu still makes sure NOT to avail herself of energy drinks on the way in today. One incident like THAT was abundantly sufficient.

Time to log in ...

Name - Fuu Hououji

Grade - 10th

School - Infinity Institute

Blood Type -

Fuu raises an eyebrow, and fills in the appropriate 'A'.

Zodiac -

"Seriously?" Fuu murmurs under her breath as she enters, 'Sagittarius,' *taking* it seriously despite an impulse to test what this information's being used for. No point in getting penalized, however curious she is. Or however peculiar the questions get ...

Favorite game? -

Dragon Quest (series)

Favorite dessert? -

Chocolate cake

Not including yourself, what is the ideal number of people to spend time relaxing with? -


Do you believe in magic? -


What movie did you last watch? -

Napping Princess

That seems to be enough for the computer, as no further questions follow; Fuu briefly lifts her headset to rub her eyes and adjust her glasses, then settles the visor back in place.

<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

No fruitosaurs. Very, very important.

Setsuna Higashi hardly minds extra time at Infinity now and then--she has friends among all the Sister Schools, really. She is not showing the same level of overt excitement as most... For mostly the reason that her enthusiasm is quieter in the first place, made of a smile and a quiet radiance. She is not exactly opposed to tests in the first place, but this is fun. Oh, it reminds her of where she comes from in places--but the difference is night and day when expected to enjoy the lessons.

Name: Setsuna Higashi

Grade: 10

School: Juuban Public School

Blood Type: A

Do you like to travel? Yes

Have you ever been in love? Yes

There are a few easy questions like that, and Setsuna answers; she tries to answer overall earnestly, in fact. She prefers soccer balls to basketballs; she would split the donuts if there weren't enough so that everyone could have some. And she keeps going...

When is your birthday?

This one takes her a while. She hesitates, at what should be an easy question, which might be its own level of interesting if anyone notices. But eventually, she taps in 'September 8'.

From there the next one is about which vehicle she'd take if there were four each with...

Well, that one goes on a while. Some of them get a little weird.

<Pose Tracker> Niramo Umokeshi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

The news that the midterms was going to be used as a testing ground for some new software has mixed reactions from the majority of students. What was wrong with static questions on normal pen and paper tests? Some students saw it as a great opportunity to try out the latest of technology in a quickly changing world. Some others...

Niramo Umokeshi makes a face as she looks over the VR headset being offered to her and she picks it up carefully. "I really think it would have been better if they gave us more time to practice first..." As Niramo tries to find a reason why the midterms should be returned back to what she knows and loathes, Takk momentarily sticks his head out of a pocket and look it over for a moment. "If only I could take this test in your place. Being able to experience this wonder firsthand would be wonderful."

The ravenette quickly taps the Kwami on the head, prompting Takk to fully hide in her pocket again with a huff. "I just think they need to keep the technology with video games. And stay there, okay?"

Slipping on the goggles after finding nothing that she could find fault with, and reality fades away as a new (and dull) one takes its' place.

Name: Niramo Umokeshi

Grade: 9th

School: Juuban Public School

Blood Type: A

"Well, so far so good...kinda weird on that last question though." Usually blood types were saved for physical tests...and now the questions are starting to get a little strange.

Favorite Type of Fictional Creature: Kitsune

Does it matter to you if your friends use their right hand?: No

How much time do you spend at home awake, in average?: 5 hours

High Fantasy or Science Fiction: High Fantasy

Do you go to a shrine on New Years?: Very rarely yes

With how seemingly random these questions are, the Juubanite is starting to wonder if there is something wrong with the testing software already.

<Pose Tracker> Iona Hikawa [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Iona Hikawa was part of the classes accepted for this new testing experience. When the idea was first presented to her and her class, Iona was somewhat skeptical. There was a familiarity to Juuban that she was unable to get at Infinity, especially with all the rumors that shes heard about the place. But at the same time, all the things about this new setup intrigued her, and she at least wanted to check it out. It could be fun, though she wasnt sure that doing it for an -exam- was the best idea.

So it was that Iona came to the testing center, and immediately beelined to her seat. When she saw the VR goggles, she gave just the slightest frown. She looked at them for a few moments, before looking back up at the rest of the students. Theyre putting the goggles on, so she decides she might as well.

Iona has not engaged in VR before, so when she does put them on she is stunned for a few moments. "Wow." She says quietly. Iona takes a few moments to move her hands around and touch some of the errant stars that are part of the testing background, before beginning the test.

Name: Iona Hikawa

Grade: 10

Juuban Public School

And so on and so forth. Its after the initial questions that things start to get strange...

Favorite Color: Purple

Least Favorite Color: Blue

Have you ever been in Love:

Iona takes a few moments to think about everyone shes met over the course of her life. From when she was very small to very now, she... couldnt find anyone that she could have been in love with. 'No.'

Do you like grasshoppers?: Some

Iona looks at this last question for a moment, then raises the goggles off her eyes for a moment and looks around to see if any of the other students are confused, then she lowers them again.

What -is- life, really?:

Iona raises her goggles again. She's starting to hope she'll get a do-over later.

<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Terribad Appears! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m78ZBUs6v2c

At some point, when the software gets bored (or whatever ephemeral criteria it's procedurally generating these questions from), it begins the exam instead. Everyone is on their own timer, so those with fewer registration questions started before those with more. Nobody notices, though, because each VR testing environment is so immersive.

The tests proceed -- today's midterm is for 9th, 10th and 11th-grade English, which is fascinating because it involves an actual conversation with a holographic partner, a fully oral exam that might have normally been fully written. The conversations -- and the partners' appearances, and the location itself! -- seem to be loosely inspired by answers to the registration questions. So, one might be talking about video games with a White Knight while surrounded by a beautiful fantastic countryside, for example, or about family members with a Patisserie chef while surrounded by a buffet of holographic desserts. Of course, the 9th-graders in the room have easier, lower-level conversations, relative to the 11th-graders. It is, all in all, a pretty good time to be had, really.

There's just one small weirdness...

...it kind of smells like mold.

At first it's a pretty minor, excusable scent, but gradually it gets more and more unbearable -- downright hazardous-smelling, really -- to the point that it would be more absurd NOT to take off one's VR set and find out what's going on, than to continue the exam.

And when people do, they find that the classroom has... changed.

It smells like mold for a reason; vast clouds of it have filled the chamber, FANTASTIC clouds, green and blue and violet. There are a variety of species... some coat the walls and floor and desks, others hang in midair, sporous and strange, like vast colorful spiderwebs. This is handy, since there are at least a few curtains of mold between any given person and anyone else, which turns everyone into more of a silhouette. It's not an ideal examination privacy screen, though. Most of the kids and teachers have passed out.

Down at the front, someone else is looking over the chamber -- and his handiwork -- with considerable satisfaction. He's already let the future in the mirror turn terrible -- that little boy programmer is trapped in a coffin-shaped mirror by his side, and replaced by a twenty-foot-tall Terribad with black limbs, snazzy green sunglasses, and a computer-screen torso. Every time the Terribad does another squat, a new kind of mold starts to grow.

Namakelder, a Phantom Empire lieutenant in a green coat, top hat, and somewhat grasshopper-like feelers, is stretched out across the big podium at the front, hands behind his head, happy as can be.

"This is much better," he remarks to the Terribad. "I can't think of anything more offensive than," he yawns, "A bunch of children happy and energetic about taking their midterm exams. And this little punk," he chins at the coffin-mirror, "The worst of all, creating all that happiness to inspire his classmates to not be lazy."

"TERRIBAD!" agrees the Terribad. Its monitor projects the D:< emoji.

COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick transforms into Terribad and Kindabads!!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

At first, the smell of mold seems to Fuu like it might be a VR glitch, or maybe just a problem with the visor itself. And if the simulation goes beyond video and audio, it's easier for her to suspect a glitch, try to force it out of her mind, and keep going with the English exam-that-could-be-an-interview. It helps her immersion further that English is one of her stronger subjects: English is the foundation of most programming languages, and the games she plays tend to borrow heavily from English (and some other languages). Grammar occasionally forces her to stop and think about how she's structuring a sentence, but the immersion actually helps - she can 'think' in English and ride the flow of the conversation.

Try as she may, though, there's no ignoring the stink of mold. "<Please excuse me a moment, Mr. Taylor,>" Fuu says apologetically before reaching up to pull her headset off. For the briefest of instants, terror rears up in the back of her mind - what if the headset WON'T come off and she's stuck in VR again? -

There's plastic against her fingertips. That's more than Mario Kart gave her.

- and then her bespectacled emerald gaze takes in the classroom around her, and she immediately regrets the instinct that caused her to breathe in while doffing her headset. "Wha - HNGF!!" Her eyes water behind her glasses as Fuu covers her nose and mouth with her sleeve, left hand diving into her pocket. How long has this already been in progress for, how badly are the bystanders hurt from the mold on every surface and the spores in the air? So many people are slumped over their desks or sprawled on the floor ...

She usually calls out an invocation when she transforms, but this time, she gives thanks that she doesn't *have* to. The sudden turbulence of a whirlwind about Fuu's seat is announcement enough, really - but the Magic Knight of Wind *does* call out her spell, daring to fill her lungs while the transformation protects her:


There's no hiding the anger in her voice as she tries to trap the Terribad in a whirlwind of its own: a tornado not of transfiguration, but of confinement.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji transforms into Wind Knight!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Admonishment on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mikoto is involved in a deep philosophical discussion about how she expects to make people smile when she's eating their snacks, of which a surprising amount is going right over her head because it's English, and she's still not the best at speaking Japanese, though she's improved by leaps and bounds since she's come to the more supportive environment of Tokyo.

She manages to catch the word 'sharing' and 'happier', which is probably a twist on the word 'happy', she knows 'happy'. "I, like... food?" Mikoto says, haltingly, in the foreign language. "We can... ano... more food? We group, at food? That's table? Place - for food? Like normal? Eto... gomen..."


It's not made any easier by the fact that something is bothering her sensitive nose. At first she tries to ignore it; if she doesn't pass her English midterms, she'll be in real trouble, because it's hardly her strongest class even in normal school hours. So her nose just sort of scrunches up, and she tries to focus even harder on remembering how the foreign language works, which if anything makes her remember less vocabulary.

But that's really a strange smell.

Infinity has always been the cleanest of the three campuses, in the sense of its sterility, to Mikoto; sparkling and high-tech and new, with none of the character of age or wear and tear. It bothers her that there's a bad smell now, in this place, of all places. And it's getting harder and harder for her to focus on trying to say the right words when her nose is screaming at her that this is a BAD SMELL.

In the end, it's hard to argue with her nose, and it's just not possible for her to work in these conditions anyway, and - school knows she's bothered by poor sensory conditions, so if she can't complete her test because the smell is that bad, they wouldn't count that against her, right? It's something about making sure she's not disadvantaged because she's more sensitive...

So she takes the headset off, and what she expects to have to do is put her hand up to talk to the teacher about it.

What she finds does not meet up with her expectations - not one bit.

"... wha..?!" Mikoto stands in a hurry, as she looks around at the mold, draped over desk and wall and hanging in the air. She looks downright queasy, as she realises just how horrible things have gotten all a sudden, and decides here and now that she Does Not Like VR Headsets. Nothing good happens when she puts them on!

And the nearby students are all passed out...

... which makes sense, given the Terribad which towers over everything else.

Of course she brought her sword-case with her to the examination hall, like she brings it everywhere else; but she had to put her bags down with everyone else's, because this is an exam. Rather than try to find her way through the miasma of mold, she simply extends her arm, and speaks the word which summons her Element: "Miroku!"

A shimmer-glitter in reality, and suddenly that sword-case is empty, and the ceiling crashes as a greatblade careens in from above. A light shatters; the fixtures mix with the mold on one desk, just as the claymore buries itself in the ground. Her hands curl around the fate-red thread of its hilt, and she hefts it from the ground.

"We worked really hard!" Mikoto doesn't protest Namakelder until she's armed; this is less a function of Mikoto trying to hide her identity (most likely a lost cause, given her associations with Dark Fall, even leaving behind the other reasons she's easy to trace) and more a function of Mikoto not wanting to start any trouble until she's able to back it up. She doesn't expect Lieutenants of Dark Fall to show much mercy to civilians; she certainly didn't, after all.

Unfortunately, Mikoto's verbal defiance is something she's almost as unpracticed in as her English skills, even if she's more eloquent in Japanese. This is her best retort: "It's NOT better!!"

Well, that's not quite true.

Her best retort is when she sidesteps a mold cloud - pauses a moment to cough and scrunch her nose up - and then steps forward in firm roof stance to bring her blade up overhead, to offer a vertical slicing solution to the Terribad Namakelder has brought here. She might not manage to cut from the top, because she's very small and the Terribad is very tall, but with her growl of irritation it's clear she doesn't mind just carving where she can.

This isn't exactly in line with her recent practice with Fate, but Mikoto doesn't think she needs to worry too much about controlling her strength when she's fighting a monster.

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi transforms into HiME Mikoto!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Dauntlessness on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Niramo Umokeshi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Despite her misgivings about how functional the test is after several increasingly bizarre questions, it seems like there actually is a reason for all these bizarre questions. After a small loading screen with a warning that the exam was about to begin, the world turned white and brought forth the fruits of their rather inane questions.

Which is how Niramo finds herself talking with a kitsune sitting on a cushion of it's personal airship and talking about if it's better to fulfill tradition or embracing new ideas. Even with how long she's been in the magical scene, this is not what she expected her day to be like.

"So, you believe there should a balance between traditions that have been part of your culture for centuries as long as it doesn't interfer with new technology?"

"W-well, yes. Japan is well known for our culture and traditions, but we're...um...what's the word...we're doing a good job balancing those traditions as well as embracing new technology. Only a decade ago the concepts of smart phones was just that: concepts. And-

"Niramo!" Wait...Takk was trying to get her attention?...and the room was smelling really disgusing...uh oh. "Excuse me, Kitsune-san..."

Ripping off the VR headset and throwing it on the ground, Niramo quickly pulls her sleeve against her mouth and tries to use the fabric as a filter. "Uggh, what is going o-...ewwww!" The entire room has changed so much in such a short amount of time! Takk was waving a hand to get Niramo to quiet down, with a hand plugging up his own nose. "Shh! I think you were right to expect trouble." "Just...not the kind I was expecting. Tail, sprout!"

Sourisi is quick to transform and she tries to use the curtains of mold to her advantage. She starts to head diagonally through the room while crouching slightly to make herself less of a visible target. Pulling her tonfa free, she throws the rosewood weaponry through the air towards the...some sort of giant moniter monster? There's no battle cry at the moment, since if she can catch the monster off guard, maybe she can get a clean hit in!

COMBAT: Niramo Umokeshi transforms into Sourisi!
COMBAT: Sourisi has used Crashing Tooth on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick braces 10 Fatigue damage from Fuu Hououji's Winds of Admonishment, taking 8 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji
is Psyched!  Pink Moon Stick's Block and Parry abilities activate!  Cripple and Trap applied to Pink Moon Stick!
<Pose Tracker> Setsuna Higashi [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

It was a nice spot, before all the mold. Setsuna was seated on a train, the scenery flying by her and her conversational partner as they talked about what it's like to adapt to a new place. She has to keep some of her flourishes to herself, and think carefully about what she's saying, but she has gotten to do a bit of travel by now--and is happy to talk about one of her favorite topics, Tokyo.

But there is mold and there really shouldn't be on a nice train like this, and eventually it's s overwhelming that Setsuna has to pause. "-Ah--excuse me-," she says politely, stammering a little bit because of how bad the smell has gotten, but saying it in English for the benefit of her... imaginary conversational partner. Hey it's polite. But as she looks aroun after that, there's so much there that everyone is kind of shadowed to her perspectve. Alarm settles in quickly, and hears Namakelder at the frnt. "You--"

She has her 'phone', which is also her Linkrun, and and she reaches down to it. She ducks dwn through one of the littl walls out of the way, and opens the Linkrun...!

"Pretty Cure! Beat... Up!"

In moments, Cure Passion is driving through mold in a flash of red. It's very gross. It's more than gross. It reminds her of something else entirely.

But she comes up to strike at the Terribad on the heels of Fuu's wind, following it to where she can best find her foe in a swirling kick.

COMBAT: Setsuna Higashi transforms into Cure Passion!
COMBAT: Cure Passion has used Breaking Wave on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to dodge Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Dauntlessness, taking 33 Fatigue damage!  Mikoto Minagi is
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick braces 26 Fatigue damage from Sourisi's Crashing Tooth, taking 21 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Pink
Moon Stick's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to dodge Cure Passion's Breaking Wave, taking 19 Fatigue damage!  
<Pose Tracker> Iona Hikawa [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

After making -absolutely- sure that these strange questions were intentional, Iona fits her goggles on and continues on for real. The opening questions are weird but Iona answers them to the best of her ability. They were strange but harmless. At least, other than the philisophical question.

And then the english test starts, and Iona is presented with someone she wasn't expecting: a woman in a fancy purple dress and tiara. She blinks for a moment. Was this the test? The goggles said the test started now, but...

The woman finally speaks in English. "Hello." Oh, she was the test. "How are you?"

Iona blinks, and takes a moment to shed her confusion, before she looks at the virtual purple princess. She smiles. "I am fine. How are you?"

The conversation continues on for a little while before Iona gets a whiff of something strange. She sniffs, and smells... mold? It's VR, for all Iona knows it's part of the program. "Do you smell something strange?" She asks the virtual conversation partner.

"No." The woman says simply.

And the VR headset comes -right off-, as Iona knows exactly what foul smelling mold means. Lo and behold, there's now mold everywhere! And, of course, a Terribad. And so... Iona immediately runs for the door, and quickly grabs her back, quickly getting it open and retrieving her mirror. A purple flash later and eventually Cure Fortune emerges, ready to fight. "The star of hope that glitters in the night sky! Cure Fortune!" She drops the bookbag, which falls over and drops out... a sleeping purple ladybug fairy.

Cure Fortune wastes absolutely no time and immediately runs at the Terribad. She leaps up, wings forming to give her a boost of flight, as her foot starts to swirl with purple energy. She immediately drops towards the Terribad, attempting to give it a swift kick to its face.

COMBAT: Iona Hikawa transforms into Cure Fortune!
COMBAT: Cure Fortune has used Fortune Star Kick on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick braces 21 Fatigue damage from Cure Fortune's Fortune Star Kick, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Cure Fortune is
Psyched!  Pink Moon Stick's Block and Parry abilities activate!  Stagger applied to Pink Moon Stick!
<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.

It all STARTS normally enough.

Fuu's whirlwind roars a column of clean, fresh air straight down the stadium seating to the Terribad. All the mold she just sucked into it winds up wrapping around the Terribad's legs, which doesn't SICKEN it since it's the source, but will slow it down a lot more than her spell would by itself. ? ? ? asks its screen.

Similarly, Sourisi's tonfa rip through several curtains of mold to bounce off of its big black bicep after a reasonably loud impact, and at that point the monster seems to fully appreciate that it's under attack. It stops squatting mold into existence and stands at a battle-ready stance, which means that as of now any mold swatted, slashed, or otherwise removed from existence won't be coming back right away.

It is, however, exactly too late to stop Mikoto from slamming Miroku down on it from above -- sparks pour off the computer screen which is now going ! ! !, or Cure Passion and Cure Fortune (who have the same basic idea) from soaring in through Fuu's nice clear column to kick it in the sunglasses (rude). The former gets the left lens, the latter the right. They narrow in pain and irritation, animate and expressive. There's no knocking them off, experienced Terribad opponents know. Those are basically the thing's eyes.

"Hmph, always with the Pretty Cure," Namakelder complains (about everyone, from his perspective this is a generally applicable moniker), as he gets up from his podium lounge. Springing high into the air, he takes a seat in the rafters, crossing his well-booted feet at the ankle demurely. "And Fortune, too? Ugh. Your turn, Terribad! Show these impudent girls your power!"

"TERRIBAD!" bellows the monster excitedly. It props its big white gloved hands on its hips (the lowest quarter of the monitor-torso). And then it starts projecting questions... directly at its opponents.

<SoundTracker> Jeopardy Theme https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Wi8Fv0AJA4

Mikoto gets 34+55=?? right in the face at a barely-subsonic velocity, with only a second to answer before she takes it dead on.

A gigantic anvil appears over Fuu's head, and printed underneath it in Japanese is the question, What is the English word for this? It starts falling...

Sourisi suddenly has a samurai riding down hard on her. What year did the Heiji Rebellion take place? is subtitled beneath his battle roar.

Cure Passion gets a man-sized kanji for 'everlasting' flying straight at her. What does this kanji mean?

And Cure Fortune is the lucky recipient of a white table with two big beakers on it. One says 'water' and one says 'acid'. Combine these safely, read instructions on the tablecloth.

In all cases failure to give the right answer will cause either a LITERAL smackdown of the actual conjured question (giant numbers into face, for example), which hurts every bit as much as a punch might have from the Terribad, or a more figurative one, like Cure Fortune's little science question exploding in her face if she takes too long or makes the wrong choice.

Get it right, and a happy little ding-ding! chimes, and the question fades away harmlessly.

COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Harvest of Grades on Cure Fortune.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Harvest of Grades on Cure Passion.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Harvest of Grades on Sourisi.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Harvest of Grades on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Harvest of Grades on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji counters 9 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Harvest of Grades, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji's counterattack, Spinning Slash, partially gets through, doing 10 Fatigue damage to Pink Moon Stick!  
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi partially dodges 3 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Harvest of Grades, taking 13 Fatigue damage!
Mikoto Minagi's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Sourisi braces 12 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Harvest of Grades, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Cure Passion dodges 10 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Harvest of Grades, taking 15 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
Cure Passion's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Cure Fortune braces 11 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Harvest of Grades, taking 17 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Statistically speaking, it's easier to answer a question when the source of it isn't literally falling on your face. To the Wind Knight's credit, she actually manages to parse the question and blurt out, "Advil!"

... which is, sadly, much closer to what she's going to need after impact than to the source of said impact. She does manage to conjure and interpose her sword, but that just means the anvil comes clanging down on a shoulderguard instead of her face, and her follow-through succeeds in clipping the Terribad by way of retaliation.

"And here's a question for *you*," the Wind Knight calls out, forcing the pain from her shoulder aside in her mind. "Where's Yui-san?!" The question is directed more to Namakelder than to the Terribad - but she's not leaving the monster unattended, following up on her spell attack with a melee strike of her own. Four - no, five magical girls, and all close-combat specialists from the look of things. Hanging back and loosing arrows would risk being more of a hindrance than a help, and while that doesn't rule out further spells on the Wind Knight's part, it'll be easier to coordinate if they're using compatible tactics.

... at least, that's how the Magic Knight hopes it'll go.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Sword Strike on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

"Of course there's Pretty Cure! Plans don't just work like that!" Mikoto knows very well how on-the-ball Pretty Cure are when it comes to foiling evil plans. The fact that he might have been speaking in frustration instead of surprise is lost on her entirely, of course.

"Did you think you can just --"

Mikoto's incisive comments are, unfortunately, cut short by one Terribad (TERRIBAD!) and its newfound passion for education. And it projects -- "Maths?!" Mikoto yelps, horrified, because shockingly it's difficult to catch up on mathematic knowledge when one enters proper schooling so late. "It's - um - um--!"

Three plus five is eight because that's the time it takes between Mai checking into her waitress job when she has an evening shift and getting home to cook dinner, and then five plus four is one less than ten so that's... that's nine, right? So she puts those together and that's --

That's way too much time thinking about basic addition when there are numbers flying at her, and Mikoto opens her mouth to respond but ends up just yelping as she tumbles to the side to avoid an ignoble mathematical fate. CRASH goes a table, thankfully not with a sleeping student slumped over it.

She raises a hand, shakily, once the dust settles.


That hand slams down to push her up, as her other hand brings her blade with her. She huffs as she rises, an astoundingly grumpy expression for the Terribad, though how much of that has to do with the way her nose is still all wrinkled up from the mold is really up for debate.

What isn't up for debate is the way she spins, once and once again, before her blade lashes out for the lower parts of the Terribad to try and destabilise its footing.

Spin spin, hit or miss she keeps twirling a few cycles, before she manages to halt her momentum. Say, of those Cures coming in to get in the Terribad's face with her...

... why would Namakelder single out Cure Fortune? That's a thought she holds onto, because thinking is at a premium at times like this. Should she be worried about her..? Mikoto knows how mean grudges can get, in Dark Fall. If Cure Fortune has made a lot of trouble for this man...

Well, maybe thinking too much in a fight isn't a good plan, either, but Mikoto has never been very good at moderation.

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Devastation on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

"Wait, what?"

'Wait, what?' is not the meaning of that kanji.

The question flies at Cure Passion. This is not something that she expects to happen. Even reading the kanji takes up extra attention as the sheer unexpectedness of the moment almost catches her completely flat-footed. Because she's as fast as she is, she manages to start to the side just in time, and is merely knocked spinning away by the giant kanji instead of flattened. "Aaah," she answers, and shakes her head. "That's--not fair!" the red Cure complains.

"Well--take this!"

Passion darts back forward again, unsure too why Fortune is singled out, and mvoes with Mikoto this time. Spin spin frward--when Mikoto stops, Passion immediately launches forward, whirling around still with punches as she jumps up.

COMBAT: Cure Passion has used Rising Passion on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

The stealthy approach is enough for Sourisi's tonfa to land solidly against the surprised moniter monster, but there are several others who are rushing in right away, tearing through magical mold like it was disgusting butter. And there's two Cures here to deliver justice for the villain who's disrupting the exam.

The strange grasshopper man is quick to get out of the way of his minion's battle, letting the title of two of the magical defenders drop from his lips with disgust. "Maybe that's because you're always doing something wrong!" With practiced hands, Sourisi plucks her tonfa from the air as they return to her. But first thing first, take care of the source of the mold.

And...then a samurai leaps out of the screen, fully dressed in heavy red armor and is holding a nodachi high above his head. He was even speaking in an old dialect of Japanese! And...there's a question in the air in subtitles? Was this still going to count as part of the exam?! "U-uh, I know it was in the 12th century...uh, 1158?"

It doesn't seem to be the right answer as the two-handed sword swings downward and the Miraculous Ninja is forced to defend herself from the fictional samurai, locking the blade against her enchanted weaponry. Grunting from the effort, she kicks the ancient warrior in the chest plate and watches as he breaks apart into sparks. "Great, I can't escape from pointless history even in English!"

Knowing how the Pretty Cures tend to be with enjoying close range fighting as much as she does, Sourisi thinks it's time to make the Terribad an easier target. Flicking her tail against one of her tonfa and creating a magical chain, she throws the single weapon through the air again, but this time the weapon goes wide. But then Sourisi tugs on the chain to make the tonfa curve back around, with her plan to ensnare the 20 foot monstrosity in place. "So are you ready for a chain reaction?!"

COMBAT: Sourisi has used Tail Snag on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Cure Fortune [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Cure Fortune rebounds off the Terribad and lands... in front of a table. This briefly (just briefly) takes her off guard. She examines the table for a moment, takes both beakers, and... just barely... drops a few drops of the acid into the water.

It explodes, ash and smoke spews into her face like a waterhose, and blowing her hair backwards.

Cure Fortune blinks, then sputters, before she gives a mighty shake of her head to dust off the ash, and her hand rakes her hair back down quickly. Then she leaps up onto the table and then again into the air, towards the Terribad, to strike it right in the center with one, two, then three punches, before she flips and leaps off the Terribad to land safely away from immediate melee range.

She glares directly at Namakelder, since he complained specifically about her. "I'm here to stop you. I won't let you harm these people who are here to study."

COMBAT: Cure Fortune has used Fortune Flurry on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to dodge Fuu Hououji's Sword Strike, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick braces 21 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Devastation, taking 9 Fatigue damage!
Mikoto Minagi is Psyched!  Pink Moon Stick's Block and Parry abilities activate!  Stun applied to Pink Moon Stick!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick decisively counters 6 Fatigue damage from Cure Passion's Rising Passion, taking 2 Fatigue damage!  Cure
Passion is Psyched!  Pink Moon Stick's Reverse ability activates!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick's counterattack, Tough Luck, interrupts, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Cure Passion!  
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to dodge Sourisi's Tail Snag, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick cleanly braces 23 Fatigue damage from Cure Fortune's Fortune Flurry, taking 4 Fatigue damage!  Pink Moon
Stick's Block and Parry abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.

Fuu asks a fair question: Urata-chan's been Phantom Mirror'd -- and is unreachable inside that dark coffin's reflection, his eyes closed, his arms crossed, pale with misery, until the Terribad made from him is gone -- but what about his high school sponsor, the club president? She might be under the mold? There's so much of it in some parts of the room that people are basically covered up. They're at no risk of permanent harm, though... as long as the magical girls win.

The Terribad, made from the corruption of the boy's bright joy into dark despair, makes no reply. ? ? ? pops back up on his screen again, though, until Fuu stabs him in the leg. Then it switches back to ! ! ! and there's a certain sense that the monster thinks the question was a trick.

Not wanting to get slapped by Miroku again, the Terribad draws a gigantic fountain pen out of his belt, and parries with a mighty CLICK. He escapes harm, but the pen is vibrated right out of his hand on impact.

Cure Passion leaps back up again to punch some more, and discovers that the computer screen is tougher than it looks -- it won't so easily crack beneath her blows. Cure Fortune has much the same experience with the Terribad's defensively raised arm.

And Sourisi's chain goes soaring gloriously around him, perfectly executed...

...but he's smart enough to just step over it before she can close the loop.

"Sometimes they do," Namakelder murmurs at Mikoto. He lightly clasps a hand over his heart. "If I had a dream... it would be to make the ultimate no-effort plan to satisfy her Gloriousness, Queen Mirage. But it would take effort... to make the plan..."

He sighs the deep sigh of the put-upon. "That's why... I have others... fight for me. KINDABADS!"

And then a couple dozen Kindabads fall out of the rafters. Where did they come from? How long have they been up there? How many are there exactly?

All of this is unclear. But they are slender black almost man-sized opponents, who mainly express themselves through their own animate red sunglasses, strong and tough enough to hang in the magical girl battlespace... barely. They're mooks, in other words, and easily chumped en masse, but if THEY manage to mass someone successfully they might be able to create an opening for their larger ally, the Terribad. They throw punches and kicks from midair and scream "KEEE!" as they drop in.

"Terribad, don't let Cure Fortune get any breathing room, keep on top of her!" Namakelder adds, and obligingly the Terribad's arm snaps out as she's soaring back out of melee range to try to grab her by both legs, swing her around for a while, and then hammer throw her into the digital whiteboard at the front of the classroom.

What Olympic event was won by Anita Wlodarczyk in 2012? is printed underneath him as he does this, which seems like a slightly unfair interpretation of his powers.

COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Kindabads Kindaswarm on Sourisi.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Kindabads Kindaswarm on Cure Passion.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Kindabads Kindaswarm on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Kindabads Kindaswarm on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Terribadass Assault on Cure Fortune.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji braces 7 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Kindabads Kindaswarm, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  Fuu Hououji's
Block and Parry abilities activate!  Exhausted and Trap applied to Fuu Hououji!
COMBAT: Sourisi partially dodges 2 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Kindabads Kindaswarm, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Sourisi's
Fade and Flash abilities activate!  Diversion, Exhausted, and Trap applied to Sourisi!
COMBAT: Cure Fortune partially dodges 8 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Terribadass Assault, taking 33 Fatigue damage!  Pink
Moon Stick is Psyched!  Cure Fortune's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Cure Passion cleanly braces 11 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Kindabads Kindaswarm, taking 2 Fatigue damage!
Critical Hit!  Cure Passion's Block and Parry abilities activate!  Diversion applied to Cure Passion!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi counters 7 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Kindabads Kindaswarm, taking 7 Fatigue damage!  Critical
Hit!  Mikoto Minagi's Reverse and Tactician abilities activate!  Diversion and Exhausted applied to Mikoto Minagi!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi's counterattack, Obsidian Blade: Disequilibrium, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Pink Moon
<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

"Since when has Dark Fall's plans ever worked?!" Mikoto huffs, and maybe she shouldn't be QUITE THAT offended, but she lost an awful lot back then. It was so casually accepted that one of Westar's first lessons to her was how to lose gracefully.

(The fact that Westar may have needed to know this specifically isn't something Mikoto entertains, because Mikoto thinks Westar is a very effective Executive.)

Even so, given her... gaps in memory... maybe she might actually learn something useful from the question. She's forgotten many of those little details which might have informed her about the plans which are effective, and those are the plans she most wants to ruin.

... she doesn't particularly think Namakelder is going to be the architect of any of those wheels-in-wheels, though. Even if she's not about to berate him for sounding lazy, because Namakelder's laziness is good for Tokyo.

And tragically, she doesn't have much time to interrogate her feelings on the matter, because - in fact - the situation has become kinda bad.

The Kindabads have a more or less humanoid body-plan, and as much as that makes Mikoto feel a little bad, it also puts her at an advantage. Because a Kindabad leaps in to try and kick through her defences, and she brings her blade up to bowl it away - though, she notes, it gets right back up afterwards. All of a sudden there are many enemies, and...

Well, Mikoto's first instinct is one she bites down on, as logical as it feels in that first split-second. Obsidian spikes would solve the issue of a swarm quite handily, but, Miroku, there are a lot of normal students trapped in the mold right now.

... maybe it's a good thing she's started practicing, even if she's still terrible at restraint after her first attempt.

With a grunt of frustration which slides effortlessly into a snarl, Mikoto goes for the next best thing: she swings her sword in a wide arc, a momentary whirl of sharpness which promises to give a bad time to any Kindabads who were thinking of swarming Mikoto after that first one dived in.

Spin spin spin spin, and she still sounds kind of dizzy as her mind catches up to everything Namakelder said after setting more foes on them, because she's still kind of in motion. "Cure Fortune, why's he so mad at you?!" Did she ruin his nap or something..?!

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Decimation on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Scowling softly as her chains are evaded with a simple jump, Sourisi shatters the chain with another tug and grab her tonfa free from the air again. And the Terribad is certainly not lacking at all in imagination as it uses a pen to parry Mikoto's obsidian sword. "Oh geeze, it can jump good too."

And then more minions drop down from above, seperating Sourisi from the other magical defenders in the exam room. "Ow, hey! Already having more than one monster is bad enough!" It feels like cheating, and Sourisi is too used to being part of the numbers against a foe, not the other way around.

Trying to stay away from all the kicks and punches from the Kindabads is not working out at all for the Miraculous User. Every time she leans out of the way of a fist, two more are swinging right where she's repositing to! There's too many to allow Sourisi to use her mobility to the fullest and while the blows are weak, you will get wet eventually even if you try to dodge all the rain drops. "Gah!"

But maybe that's a weakness of the Kindabads as well! They're weak, so hopefully that means they're nowhere near as durable as the Terribad. "Get...out of my way!" She starts to swing her tonfa around her wildly to get herself some breathing room before she emulates Cure Passion as she runs forward, using her tonfa as battering rams. "Sounds like you just can't do anything by yourself then!"

COMBAT: Sourisi has used Mouse Flurry on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Cure Fortune [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Cure Fortune leaps back as the Terribad comes right on in to grab her. The good news is that the Terribad doesn't get -both- of her legs.

Except it manages to get her left leg, as it grabs her ankle and lifts her up. The Terribad swings her in a complete circle once, then twice, before she is thrown into the whiteboard, though not before bowling over a Kindabad or two. She bounces off the whiteboard with a 'thwack', as Fortune comes to a complete stop underneath the whiteboard. "I can guess what event she won..." Fortune says after a moment, as she slowly climbs back up to her feet.

Instead of rushing in and punching again, Fortune instead spins a dial on her bracer. "Fortune..." She takes the forming purple energy that quickly form into stars, which she then raises upwards and form into a ring. "Star Riiiing!" She hurls this ring at the Terribad's own feet, to try and trip it up.

COMBAT: Cure Fortune has used Fortune Star Ring on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

That mirror is Bad News. There's a lt of bad news going around; some bad news is that Passion can't punch through this screen. She definitely liked the last exam form much better. But complaints don't win fights or exams, so...

She doesn't comment n whether the plans work. Instead, "We won't just let you enforce her will on this world!"

So it's like that. But the mooks suddenly drop in, and Setsuna moves to block the first assault, blcking most from there in a whirl of motion except for one that is hard enough to knock her backward. "Fortune!" Passion calls. "I'm coming!"

She's not going to leave her fellow Cure alone. Though. ...Can... she actually help that.

Well, maybe she can do something if she can just get through. Passion starts whirling forward, using her elbows and knees for hard strikes against the Kindabads on the way to try to reach the Terribad--and Fortune.

Mikoto brings a good question.

COMBAT: Cure Passion has used Breaking Through on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Just when the situation seemed like it might be manageable, here come the Kindabads. The Magic Knight of Wind still has her sword in hand, and she puts it to use defensively more than offensively at first - using the flat of the blade to block and deflect as many of their attacks as she can, and seeking her openings. And she's *still* trying to sort out where Yui might have wound up ...

At least until the press of Kindabads gets so thick that she literally can't see the floor around herself, and more of the blunt fists start slipping past her guard. The Wind Knight grimaces as those blows bypass her defenses, and does her best to retaliate - taking advantage of the openings that the *Kindabads* leave (They can hit respectably, but apparently they don't train on individual defense, she guesses.)

Even so, it's mostly Mikoto's wild windmill spin that alleviates so much of the pressure, and Sourisi's mousy mobility (coupled with swift swings of her tonfa) helps give the Wind Knight extra breathing room. "Mikoto-san, Sourisi-san, thank you!" she gasps once she can spare some attention from trying to guard *herself*. She takes a moment to look over her allies more critically ... and comes to a decision.

"Winds of Healing!!"

The balmy, restorative breeze of the Wind Knight's healing spell rises about herself, the Miraculous-user, and the sword-wielding HiME; besides pushing the spores further away from them, the Winds of Healing help to mend some of the worse-hindering hits they've taken thus far, giving them a chance to fight closer to full strength for a while longer.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Healing on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Healing on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Healing on Sourisi.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi accepts Fuu Hououji's Winds of Healing, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Cleanse! All of Mikoto Minagi's debuffs
are cleared!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji accepts Fuu Hououji's Winds of Healing, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Cleanse! All of Fuu Hououji's debuffs are
COMBAT: Sourisi accepts Fuu Hououji's Winds of Healing, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Cleanse! All of Sourisi's debuffs
are cleared!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick dodges 18 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Decimation, taking 27 Fatigue damage!  Pink
Moon Stick's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to brace Sourisi's Mouse Flurry, taking 25 Fatigue damage!  Sourisi is Psyched!  
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to dodge Cure Fortune's Fortune Star Ring, taking 37 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Trap applied to
Pink Moon Stick!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick braces 14 Fatigue damage from Cure Passion's Breaking Through, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
Pink Moon Stick's Block and Parry abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.

"The ones that work best are the ones you never hear about," Namakelder points out to Mikoto, honestly kind of reasonably. Though it does call into question what he's doing here today. "Traitors give me a headache," he adds to Cure Passion, when he addresses him. "Quiet down."

Then he rests his head on palms held behind it, leans back, and disappears above the rafter beam he was sitting on. Presumably, he is now sleeping on it instead.

The magical girls make pretty short work of the Kindabads. Mikoto and Sourisi are like blenders with all of their whirling and slicing (and/or thwacking). The ones that get away find themselves meeting Cure Passion's elbows or knees instead. And so it is that they're winnowed down from 'small army' to 'small squad' and therefore 'threat' to 'nuisance.'

The remnants decide to converge on Fuu, because they haven't seen yet why that might be a bad idea, as she was healing her allies. She briefly disappears beneath a dogpile of Kindabads.

Cure Fortune, meanwhile, gets exactly what she wants out of her gambit with a summoned ring; the Terribad trips and falls. Propping himself up on his hands, he reveals what he was doing while the Kindabads were kinda buying some time: MORE EXAM QUESTIONS.

The subjects have rotated a bit. This time Mikoto's facing a natural science question: 'What is the typical lifespan of a maple tree?' And suddenly there's a huge, brilliantly red tree crashing down towards her. Sourisi gets the math punched at her literally by the Terribad: What's one plus one?

And the Pretty Cure get a group project to work on together, not that they have time to communicate much before it all blows up. Another white table, this time covered in various baking ingredients. Select the correct ingredients for a Victoria Sandwich.

D :D :D says the Terribad's screen.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Flight of the Kindabads on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Your Number's Up on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Punches Come In Terrible Twoes on Sourisi.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used A Side Of Pain on Cure Passion.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used A Side Of Pain on Cure Fortune.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi fails to counter Pink Moon Stick's Your Number's Up, taking 42 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi's counterattack, Obsidian Blade: Dynamo, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Pink Moon Stick!  
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji fails to dodge Pink Moon Stick's Flight of the Kindabads, taking 39 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  
COMBAT: Sourisi partially dodges 5 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Punches Come In Terrible Twoes, taking 21 Fatigue damage!
Sourisi's Fade and Flash abilities activate!  Exhausted and Stagger applied to Sourisi!
COMBAT: Cure Passion dodges 11 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's A Side Of Pain, taking 16 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
Cure Passion's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Cure Fortune partially dodges 4 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's A Side Of Pain, taking 16 Fatigue damage!  Cure
Fortune's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Heal though she may, the Magic Knight of Wind abruptly finds herself in the midst of painful amounts of adversarial attention - swarmed, overwhelmed, and try though she may to break loose, borne to the ground beneath the kinda crushing Kindabads. She can't even bring her sword back into play at this point, although she's able to maintain her grasp on the weapon.

"Enough of this - !" she manages to call out, the defiant cry heralding a surge of will. Unleashing an area attack is a risk, but she raises her voice, trusting her allies to hear it and give her the room she needs: "STORM-DANCE OF KAMAITACHI!!!"

On the plus side, she can also direct this spell *upwards* rather than send it billowing out to the sides - and the Kindabads are blasted aloft, letting the Wind Knight scramble back to her feet. An additional howl of the conjured gale echoes the fury in its caster's eyes, ensuring that the Kindabads won't remain intact even in the air.

It's a good thing the ceiling of the exam room was so high. *Especially* at the front, where they are now.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Storm-Dance of Kamaitachi on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick perfectly braces 40 Fatigue damage from Fuu Hououji's Storm-Dance of Kamaitachi, taking 0 Fatigue damage!
Critical Brace!  Pink Moon Stick's Block and Parry abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mikoto hums angrily in response to Namakelder, because a) that's exactly the response she should have anticipated and b) he just called Passion a traitor and told her to be quiet, and Mikoto is mad about it.

She might not be on Dark Fall's side any more, but Mikoto Minagi is still very good at holding grudges, herself. It's a transferrable skill.

Luckily for Mikoto's poor sense of smell, the Wind Knight is here to blow away some of that awful mold which is getting everywhere. "Thanks!" She calls back, only for her half-turn to turn into a full rotation when she sees the remaining Kindabads converge. "-- look out!!"

Unfortunately, Mikoto's desire to assist her ally is at once thwarted by a question. She turns to find the Terribad, only to realise that the question is much more potent than she might have thought.

Is this karma for all those times she chopped trees down onto people..?

Her blade flashes up - only to find a terrible fate.

This is a maple tree.

When Miroku bites into the trunk, it's coated in the sticky, sluggish, gluelike fact of MAPLE SYRUP. And it's stuck. "Gyaah!"

Which means the tree falls down onto Mikoto - and she can't even chop it in half to ameliorate the blow. She disappears under a broad branch, and it's not until the magic fades that she's able to appear again. "That's... not... fair!" She huffs, continuing her trend of being DEEPLY offended throughout this whole ordeal. "If you chop a tree down it's not alive any more!"


"Unless a new tree grows out of the old tree," Mikoto supposes, to try and ward away the anger boiling under her skin. "'Cause that happens when the roots is still there, sometimes."

A second beat.

"-- hey!" Mikoto snaps, glowering, that anger breaking the surface, as she realises she's been distracted. "Trees don't matter right now!!"

She pushes herself up, shaking herself off, and looks back to the Wind Knight. "Those Kindabads..." She trails off, frowning, and looks back to the Cures. "Cure Passion! We'll take care of these, just stop that Terribad! I don't like these exams..!" TOKYO SCHOOL DOESN'T INVOLVE GETTING HURT, THAT'S THE DEAL.

And so she springs to the Wind Knight's aid. Her sword comes down - and it's a good thing she chose a relatively clear place for it, even if there are plenty of Kindabads underneath her shadow. Because her sword comes down, and that itself ought to be enough to bisect the ones unfortunate enough not to move - but the shockwave from the blow will echo out to catch quite a few more.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Deontology on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Sourisi's wild charge is the perfect answer to this pratical question, her tonfa sending any Kindabad flying as she cuts her own path through the miniture mooks with overwhelming force. Without any planning on her part, she manages to help relieve the pressure off of Fuu and comes to a panting stop near the Emerald Knight. The life-giving winds Fuu creates is enough to freshen up the air and Sourisi flashes a grin towards her. "And right back at you!"

That is before the Kindabads show some intelligence and gang up on the magic archer, being taken under a mass of living darkness. "Breeze-chan!"

But Sourisi doesn't have time to react as she hears the sound of whistling winds and she twists her head to stare at the approaching question like a deer staring at headlights. This was super easy, just have to say it! "Eleven!...wait, no-!"

Sourisi is sent flying from the worded assault, smarting from more than the force unleashed upon her. Her wounded pride isn't enough to hamper her instincts from having her flip in the air, her feet hitting the wall and causing spider webs cracks to appear from her impact. For a split second, Sourisi sees the hulking form of the Terribad grinning at their pain from the continued exam and almost aims herself to smash in that monitor. Fuu's loud windstorm catches the Kindabads and lifts them aloft, but they're going to swarm Fuu as soon as they land back down again.

Without hesitating, Sourisi redirects herself, kicks off the wall and sends dust flying from the force. Twisting back around, the Mouse who Roars aims her red glowing clawed boots towards the central mass of the minions. If this grasshopper man wants to think of all of them as Pretty Cures, maybe she can mess with him a little. "And here comes Cure Mouse to take out all the wrong answers!"

She might as well use the nickname Cure Black likes to give her!

COMBAT: FINISHER! Sourisi has used Wild Claw Barrage on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

The fact that the ones that work best aren't heard about is a nice, chilling reminder of a few things for Cure Passion, who can't help but feel a bit of dread at what that could mean today. She is able to push through, but it's still... there.

Besides, she's annoyed enough, "Then I'll give you a bigger headache!"

But there are more exam questions still. Passion makes it up to Fortune, and has precisely enough time to say, "Wait, isn't that a cak--"

But then it explodes on them. SHe manages to avoid the worst of it, which is to say the table knocks her over instead of totally flattening her. She hits the ground, and then bounces back, rising quickly and extending her hand while they have the brief span they have. "Fortune!" Passion calls out, looking towards her. "It's too strong," Passion says firmly, remembering punching it, shaking her head. "But if we can do it together..."

She breathes in. "Passion Harp!"

She nods sharply to Fortune, and sets her up without asking. Instead of requesting, she just counts on Cure Fortune, channeling towards her to help boost her up.

"Pretty Cure!" she calls, and strums her harp. The whirlwinds begin to gather around her, filled with hearts, preparing to be directed on Fortune's cue as they start to whrl around her, too. Red, brilliant hearts, sparkling.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Cure Passion has started a combo targeting Pink Moon Stick!
<Pose Tracker> Cure Fortune [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Cure Fortune sees her ring strike true, and starts to run towards the Terribad again for another leap... before suddenly the table strikes again, and she reads the question. "A... Victorian Sandwich?" She looks over at Passion for a moment. She hasn't been to any Victoria she knows of.

But then it explodes directly on both of them. Fortune tries to brace for the explosion, but it too knocks her down. It takes her a few moments for her to stand back up, at which point Passion suggests 'together'.

Fortune looks over to the Terribad for a brief second...

before she nods.

She raises her bracer to the sky, and it gives off a flash of light. Fortune spins and spins. "Light of the stars! Turn into sacred power!" She spins the dial on her bracer, before spinning both her arms around one another. Purple light forms, and she raises it above her head. "Pretty Cure!" The light turns into a star, which she bring down in front of her. "Stardust Shoooot!"

And as the hearts swirl around the two of them, she punches the star directly, sending it, and Passion's hearts, zooming off towards the Terribad.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Cure Fortune has joined the combo started by Cure Passion!
COMBAT: COMBO! FINISHER! Cure Passion and Cure Fortune have used Combo: Pretty Cure Star Hurricane, composed of Pretty Cure
Happiness Hurricane and Pretty Cure Stardust Shoot, on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick braces 60 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Finisher, Obsidian Blade: Deontology, taking 49 Fatigue
damage!  Pink Moon Stick's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to brace Sourisi's Finisher, Wild Claw Barrage, taking 135 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to brace Cure Passion and Cure Fortune's Finisher, Combo: Pretty Cure Star Hurricane, taking 331
Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Pink Moon Stick is unable to keep fighting!
<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.

Fuu blasts her dozen Kindabads high into the air, but once they're up there, they seem apparently unharmed, and start twisting into various strike positions... an outthrust leg or fist. Soon they'll fall back down upon her, striking en masse--

--until Mikoto and Sourisi fall upon THEM, first. They are struck and shockwaved They are clawed and booted.

The number of Kindabads in the room rapidly shrink from twelve to zero.

That just leaves one monster left...

...facing two Pretty Cure. Not just that, but two Pretty Cure working together...

It's over pretty quickly. Starfall, heartfall. The two barrage attacks ultimately cover the Terribad from head to toe like he's at the middle of a choux tower (Iona will have to google the reference since cooking is her worst subject, or just ask Yuko). Then it detonates and there's nothing left.

As the power of their outrage and friendship washes over the classroom, it has other, immediately positive effects. Little Urata is freed from his prison, smiling again as he looks around at a mold-free room full of students and teachers waking up.

"Oh no," he gasps, "Is it too boring?"

Yui Bidou slams the double-doors at the back of the classroom steps open. The blue hair is the giveaway because she's wearing a gas mask and has procured, from somewhere, a flamethrower. Ah, Infinity Institute. (Elsewhere: Eudial, furious.) "EVERYBODY D...own..."

She pauses just before opening up the nozzle and letting loose, staring at the inexplicably completely fine room.

"...I must be losing it," she mutters. "Too much stress." Shucking her gear, she trots back downstairs to Urata's side and claps her hands to get everyone's attention.

"There was some kind of glitch in the system, so the rest of the midterm is cancelled for today..."

The room erupts in cheers.

"...but we'll have you back tomorrow after school hours to finish!"

The cheers peter out.

"I'm so sorry for the inconvenience!" cries Urata, bowing so deeply that it's almost dogeza. "Please allow me to compensate all of you with... something! I'll make it up to you, I promise!"

He's too cute to be mad at.

Yui smiles down at him. "I'm sure the Computer Club can come up with something good."