2020-12-21 - Widows and Orphans 2

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Widows and Orphans 2

Shibuya, under Orphan assault, becomes a struggle to defend with so many helpless people in the way. Kozue and Tsuru are offered a ride.


Mami Tomoe, Mikoto Minagi, Fuu Hououji, Kozue Kaoru, Tsuru, Nori Ankou, Georgia Jenks


Shibuya Shopping Ward

OOC - IC Date:

12/21/2020 - 10-20-15


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

The spiders keep coming... but the magical girls are entrenched, now, and they are well able to hold the line. Mikoto cuts a path parallel to the ravine, one that any of the little monsters cannot enter without suffering dismemberment; with this boundary in place she is able to advance, then do it again, and again, expanding the width of safe zone between the arachnids and those that she defends.

And any survivors -- or retreaters, and there are quite a few who decide to turn around rather than face that sword labyrinth -- are swept up by Mami's ribbons. Mami pushes them back further. They've learned to fear those bright yellow lengths of doom, and go to considerable trouble to leap away from them. Away means backwards. Away means into the ravine.

A truly high density of spiders is forced into it by the time Endo plunges down onto them. There's a flash of purple light when the meteor hits. Then a column-shaped explosion, preceded both by a series of shockwaves and a vanguard of fleeing spiders.


The truck slams into Georgia, her shield of sparks, and Fuu's shield of wind, at tremendous speed. Both magicks flare up, in orange and green, as they begin to absorb the velocity of the truck.

Georgia can see the shocked expression on the driver's face, and smell rubber -- they're slamming the brakes. She can feel the concrete churning up around her heels. It's a good thing she's in Shibuya, because she may need to go shopping for a new pair of shoes before today is over.

The force is incredible -- a full-body muscle pull. Forget shopping; Georgia may want to visit a SPA. But, as it slows a little, and then a little more, and then a little more, consuming yard after yard after yard between truck and the intersection, each of those burning muscles feels more and more worth it.

In the very last few feet the pain lessens abruptly because the weight of the truck has... shifted. Braking may not have been such a brilliant plan after all on the part of the driver; like a hippopotamus on an ice rink, the trailer slides slickly sideways, into a vast, potentially fatal arc, even as the cab crawls to a stop against Georgia's palms.

A headache explodes behind Fuu's forehead as the exertion of sustained will required to keep her shield going mounts, then accelerates, in its requirement. But the windstorm blasts, galeforce, against the trailer, and it slams into it horizontally, tries with all the might of physics to tip over onto the nearest crosswalk packed with helpless bodies, and... doesn't.

Then, nearby, Endo's purple-column explosion goes off.


The surviving spiders... pause. A dozen dozen red eyes stare upwards, then swivel within their bodies to look at the same thing: nothing. It is an empty point of space, right in the middle of the intersection.

<SoundTracker> Yami no Butou - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSbtDr4JFSo

And then it isn't empty anymore, when the horde converges there. There is another flash of light; black this time, making every other color just a little bit weirder during the eyeblink in between there being hundreds of small Orphans and one really big one.

One might expect it to be a giant spider and one would be wrong. Apparently one plus one plus one plus one plus hundreds plus one spiders equals something else completely.

There is something of the biblical angel here. Not the feathers and halos and divine radiance kind; the too many wings and too many eyes kind. The eyes are the same -- red, lidless, and scattered along its bulk in no particular pattern, there are places with enough eyes to fill an egg carton all next to each other, and other places with only one eye, or no eyes at all. Where eyes aren't, the wings are recognizably that same violet-black material as the skittery legs; only now there's no space in between them, they are welded together, each quintet a five-ribbed organ instead.

It has no mouth, so it does not roar, but the shriek of metal made by its hundreds of rustling wings does an excellent impression of a kaiju scream regardless.

And then all of its eyes change, becoming paler. Not because pink is stylish, and not because the crimson is draining out of them. Because a layer of white energy is intensifying OVER them. Like a lid, if a lid was shaped like a sphere. A humming sphere -- as the power rises --!

As lasers crash everywhere at once, one fact becomes painfully clear: they're gonna have to move the bodies anyway. If the kaiju-Orphan isn't surrounded by corpses yet, it will be by the time the fight is over, if they're allowed to stay.


That truck going the wrong way down the empty side of the street was apparently only the first person to have that idea, because a glossily black SUV suddenly spins out of a nearby alley and turns to leave in the legally wrong direction. Up the down staircase. Right now, who gives a damn?

They skid to at stop only a couple of car lengths into their own acceleration, though, because their rear view mirror is full of Kozue, next to a broken car, with a giant monster behind her. (Tsuru, in her burrow, goes momentarily unseen.)

The side door slams open. A man in a suit gestures rapidly.

"C'mon c'mon, it isn't safe! Hop in, kid!"

COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick transforms into The Beast!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used A Time To Every Laser Under Heaven on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used A Time To Every Laser Under Heaven on Mami Tomoe.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used A Time To Every Laser Under Heaven on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Mami Tomoe fails to dodge Pink Moon Stick's A Time To Every Laser Under Heaven, taking 92 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!
Mami Tomoe is unable to keep fighting!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji perfectly dodges 57 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's A Time To Every Laser Under Heaven, taking 0 Fatigue
damage!  Critical Dodge!  Fuu Hououji's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi perfectly dodges 54 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's A Time To Every Laser Under Heaven, taking 0
Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!  Mikoto Minagi's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Mami Tomoe [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mami has no argument to give about getting behind cover--it's a good idea, if it's... possible, in all of this. But she has to hope that what she's trying to do is good enough for the moment. Still dizzy, she hops back up forward again. She misses the truck. She misses Tsuru's breaking of a window. because instead she has to focus on these spiders. As their survivors pause...

Mami shields her eyes against the bizarre light that doubles her vision, before she sees the Thing that is before; eyes, wings, carapace--She lowers that one hand and looks out, exhaling once as she sets her jaw and judges what they're up to.

She still feels dizzy, still feels disoriented, but she recognizes from long experience what is about to happen as that shrieking metal comes, almost before the energy begins to show. "No--"

Mami extends both hands, and great golden ribbon this time encircles not spider or angel or awful approximation of both, but fallen people. She throws out great sheets of it, the Soul Gem at her hatpin blazing with the amount of magic she has to put through all at once. Efficiency means little in the face of full Shibuya crowds, and Mami is stock-still as she maneuvers, moving not just quickly but carefully to gather people out of the way, at first those closest, then more, letting her magic take the brunt of lasers. One can imagine music swelling as she works--

But if so, there's a jump in the track as those lasers blasting apart reach not just the space where bodies were, but the space where one body is--and Mami is blasted full-force, the last set of people falling a couple of inches to the ground as she shoots backward and into a windshield. It cracks against her impact, and she's still smoking, her eyes closed. ...Her ribbons do not melt, but they go slack, no more animating force keeping them going as their mistress slips right out of consciousness.

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

Mikoto, who - going by all the cotton-wool in her brain - is not in the mood either, can't help but snipe back: "Stop being so Kozue! I'm trying to help!" Congratulations, Kozue. Like Ohtori, you are now a verb.

The agitation does little to hide the fact that it cut true; Orphans are HiME business, and she does feel responsible, and equally Kozue has lanced her guilt through before.

There must just be some part of her, she thinks, a sinking feeling - which expects she is to blame.

'You feel like you owe them something for what you did.'

Is that it...?

Like heaviness she is not quite sure, but the thread is too thin to grasp in the middle of a battle; the Orphans still are swarming, and she must focus so much more intently to get to the same baseline. A glance back between great hefts of her great blade, when she hears glass shatter, tells her that Kozue's companion has solved the problem of cars.

"Good!" She issues to Tsuru in her burrow, stern of face and voice. She does not know Tsuru, but she sees in her motions a practiced athleticism; Mikoto is no ballerina, but perhaps spinning is eternal. "Be safe!"

And that's all the consideration she can give them, Kozue's thorned encouragement and Tsuru's innovation. Because there are so many of these things which are not spiders, and if Mikoto focuses very hard, she can figure out how to clear greater breathing room for everyone involved.

She spies Endo's explosion - the truck - her heart sinks another inch, as she remembers who she left behind, in her rage.

If she had a moment, maybe she would have fought her way to Georgia.

Mikoto does not have a moment to spare.

Because the spiders pause and in the abruptness of it so does Mikoto, eyes narrowed as she watches theirs. Looking up to nothing at all, except --

Say a prayer to dark and transcendent things. Don't expect an answer.

All a sudden what is small is very large and it is known just how small the titans are, pinned in their flesh; Mikoto finds herself dwarfed, as things like wings spread in the air, their horrible metallic screeching over each other. Thinking of things in dozens comes quite naturally to a girl who loves eggs so much, but not... like this.

Not like this.

White energy is in no way good or pure or just energy by virtue of itself; Mikoto knows that much. What it is, generally, is powerful. She's moving before she recognises the command to move going to her muscles, and it's instinct which sees her leaping just before each laser comes to ground. A half-step around another. A desperate dive to avoid one long sweep. She rolls, and rises, hand to ground.

It's a good thing her hair is short. Her braids are scattered over her face, not quite free on account of the sweat on her cheeks. If the rest of her hair were that long, she wouldn't be able to see, and surely she needs to.

If this keeps up - all those people...

But Mikoto's blade is made for two hands. Mikoto's magic guillotines. There is little room in her for defence - save a targeted offensive. And her moment to strike is given by -- "Mami!" She cries, acknowledgment and concern and something a little more complicated, too.

She snarls, and starts running. Sensible Ohtori flats hit the sidewalk, in escalating force - until they don't. Legs bend, and spring, and Mikoto can't fly... but she can jump, very high. Her blade comes up over her head, vertically, as if she means to bisect the Orphan down the middle --

-- or at least blind some of those clusters of eyes.

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Disequilibrium on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

The Wind Knight staggers, not sure her head isn't actually threatening to split open from the pitched battle of magic against mundane physics. She's not sure where the girl with the escrima sticks wound up; it didn't *look* like she fell underneath the truck, but at the moment, the Wind Knight's head hurts badly enough that she's not entirely sure how trustworthy her eyes are.

Apart from the fact that where there were entirely too many spidery Orphanlings, there is now one monster, presumably the full-fledged Orphan, *definitely* far too big, and why are its still-too-many eyes starting to gl--

At some point in that thought, the Wind Knight dropped to one knee. Which has its advantages: she doesn't have to actually crouch before pushing off from the ground, leaping skywards in a desperate leap for some semblance of safety. Her headache is a little worse now; possibly she drew on the wind as well to fuel her desperate jump. Then again, she's gotten to the point of doing that out of near-habit, so maybe she shouldn't be surprised.

Her flight affords her time enough to take in the scenario on the ground at greater length. Nori and Tsuru seem to be getting rescued, or at least one of them is. There are still entirely too many civilians - incapacitated, it appears - in harm's way, but Mami is dealing with them - weaving her ribbons with greater speed and delicacy than the Wind Knight can really imagine, only appreciate.

And then Mami gets hammered by those lasers, as the Wind Knight's ascent peters out and she begins to fall once more. Her headache is abating again, even if only a little; she can cast another spell - and as she sees all of those metallic wings, she picks her spell, the mainstay which wouldn't have served her against the incomprehensible swarm - but may be more useful against this eldritch behemoth.


She has to be careful not to sweep Mikoto up in the cyclone, but the Orphan is large enough, and Mikoto small enough next to it, that there's plenty of body the Wind Knight can endeavor to bind - and if the wind wrenches some of those metallic 'wings' awry, all the better.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Winds of Admonishment on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

The car handle doesn't open, and Kozue is about to drag Tsuru along to the next when she sees her withdraw something.

What's she got?

A knife!

"Out of all the situations we've been in - NOW is the time you decide to bring out a wea-?"

The crack causes this momentary burst of delinquent pride in Tsuru's thought process - and shame in her own ability to do that. In her defense, there was nothing she could use in sight, but all the same... "Nevermind - now was the time!"

Tsuru dives right in, and Kozue plants her hands on the frame, and hoists herself up to put a sole on the edge of the broken car window.

She's about to simply slide her body inside, when she stumbles at the sight of all the Orphans gathering...

Together, into one.

A car seems like fine cover from so many small orphans. Against this...

... their 'burrow' feels like less than nothing.

Lasers crash and Kozue yelps and let's go of the car as the bright flash passes through her vision.

Hitting the ground, Kozue lays on the concrete for just a moment, and lets out a small laugh as she realizes she's still alive, through faint tears, "... God I miss Cass..."

Picking herself back up, she's got her hands back on the frame again, when she hears a voice behind her. Eyes open wide at the man gesturing her way, the black SUV behind in the alleyway.

With a dull look back into the car, and at the Kaiju like creature of biblical horror - she then looks backwards at the man.

"Not without her."

Reaching through the window, she pops the lock, and opens the door for Tsuru, offering her a hand out...

"Let's go-"

... when is when Mami crashes against the windshield of the same car, causing the car to lurch backward then forward on its suspension... and falls still.


In that fraction of a second... 'her'... becomes... 'them.'

And whatever rescue the man was offering her... well... he's going to have to stretch his patience pretty far, force the issue, or leave without them.

Because HiME powers or not, she has no intention of leaving and risking the loss of anyone else.

COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru has used Survivor's Guilt on Kozue Kaoru.
COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru accepts Kozue Kaoru's Survivor's Guilt, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Kozue Kaoru is unable to keep fighting!
Kozue Kaoru is Quipped!
COMBAT: Kozue Kaoru is unable to keep fighting!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick dodges 19 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Disequilibrium, taking 28 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick cleanly braces 17 Fatigue damage from Fuu Hououji's Winds of Admonishment, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  Fuu
Hououji is Psyched!  Pink Moon Stick's Block and Parry abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Tsuru [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

The car's suspension bobbed under the impact of Mami's body, as Tsuru was halfway out, her palm atop Kozue's. She pauses for a moment, blinking, then turns her neck to gaze at the defeated queen's slumped form. She had missed the grand union of Orphans, but she brings her eyes around to catch herself up on that as well. Then, turning to Kozue, she speaks with unusual calm.

"We'll carry..."

As her eyes return to Kozue's, they reflect that traumatized shade of blue. "...ah," she acknowledges. Her slim ankles leave the car, which does not shift when relieved of her slight weight. "Wait a moment, please," she requests of the Good Samaritan. Releasing Kozue's palm, she shrugs both shoulders at once to roll off her haori, and with a couturier's efficiency she switches hands as she pulls it up, over, and around. It settles lightly atop Kozue's shoulders, the jacket falling onto her like a cloak. With both hands, Tsuru plucks at it to close it warmly across Kozue's chest.

"It feels close by, doesn't it?" she whispers sympathetically. "Shh. Shh. It is all right." In the middle of this hellscape, it feels as though Tsuru is tucking Kozue in for the night inside the jacket, as she tugs at each side in turn. "It has always been close, and it has always been all right."

Tsuru's dainty fist closes tightly, sealing the halves of the haori-cloak closed around the level of Kozue's upper stomach. There is no way she could easily overpower Kozue's swimmer's arms; Tsuru has been fatigued of late and she has never shown proficiency for violence. So, she has wrapped them against her sides.

Tsuru drags with her closed hand, walking Kozue a few steps forcefully until her legs trip over the bottom of the open car door. She dumps her across the back seat, using her free hand to guide and soften this girl-toss. Then, as she turns back around to face the SUV, she drops her weight gently against the car door, swinging it shut and sitting on it to briefly keep it that way.

Leaning now against the car, with its broken window and a Mami decorating its windshield, Tsuru is bare-armed in her white tunic, her large dark eyes half-shaded behind round glass lenses, and more deeply concealed by a sudden absence of even her brand of subtle emotive glint.

"I apologize," she says, with a dip of her head. "She is not ready, and surely no one could be so patient and selfless as to wait any longer for us."

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

Mikoto breaks some eggs to make an omelette, which is to say, she breaks some EYES to make an Orphanlette. Though there's nothing diminuitive about the monster, even afterwards. Miroku comes away from its vivisection dripping ichorous, stringy eye-gunk, but the main thing that this accomplishes is to cause a whoooole lotta eyes that weren't looking at anything in particular to look




And sure, it's an easy thing to say 'good, just the way I want it', a heroic thing, but it's also these self-same eyes that almost murdered a few hundred pedestrians just now, if not for the swift action of Mami Tomoe, and then almost murdered her instead, and all of that -- all of it -- without focusing on everyone in particular.

The eyes narrow as one -- lidless, that requires a wing above and below each eye to spread just enough to create the effect --

-- and then --


On its other side -- front and back have no particular meaning with this creature -- a cyclone rips and tears against its form. It does not do very much. What was mighty against an out-of-control trailer is not wildly successful against a kaiju that Fuu herself might venture to classify as 'Flying-Type'. All those wings! And sure, monsters don't work that way, the rules are never that simple, and a different application of wind might do better than this one did. But the wings do indeed retract, WIDENING the eyes they surround in the opposite effect that Mikoto elicited, and in so doing providing no particular surface area for the Magic Knight to get a grip on.

But it is a retributive creature, and there's nothing else to hit -- and Fuu has dared to face it.


Nothing else to hit but Fuu and Mikoto, and evidently no more help on the way. It's just the two of them, alone together, against, if not the world, something that seems big enough to swallow it, if it had mouths instead of eyes.

Its metal screams again. Rage and defiance and something else also, something too strange to interpret. Maybe it just likes the sound of its own 'voice'.


<SoundTracker> Yoru no Soko ni Shizumu - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIyyXwLGvEg

The man pauses.

That's good; a compassionate man might pause, when two other young women in need of rescue and evacuation are revealed. One is decorating a windshield. The other has just apepared out of nowhere and adjusted her fashion.

Then he pauses again. Keeps pausing. The pause is dragging on just a LITTLE longer than it ought to. This is not a complex decision, right? His expression is distant, as though he's not quite looking at any of the three of them. As though he's not quite listening to them, either.

Not that it's particularly easy to read his expression, given the sunglasses.

"Oh," he says suddenly, as though just now catching up. "That's okay, you can all come with. Here, I'll help you."

And he hurries towards the car. His angle of approach might have taken him to Kozue, but it adjusts at the last second to jog around the far side of the sedan to the windshield.

Top-heavy or not, Mami Tomoe's weight is nothing in his arms, their athletic toning creating lines of strain even down as well-tailored a black blazer's sleeves as his are.

"I got her," he announces. "Let's go."

And, with the diligent haste of someone exactly as afraid as they should be of the kaiju in the background, but perhaps not as afraid as most would be if they weren't paralyzed in the Puella Magi's slack golden bindings, he heads back towards the SUV.

A second guy in a suit hops out of the passenger side to help him, once he sees him on approach with a wounded girl.

COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Resplendent Lasers That Took Out Mami Tomoe on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Resplendent Lasers That Took Out Mami Tomoe on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi fails to counter Pink Moon Stick's Resplendent Lasers That Took Out Mami Tomoe, taking 43 Fatigue damage!
Critical Hit!  Mikoto Minagi is Quipped!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi's counterattack, Obsidian Blade: Dynamo, fails to get through, doing 0 Fatigue damage to Pink Moon Stick!  
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji counters 22 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Resplendent Lasers That Took Out Mami Tomoe, taking 22
Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Fuu Hououji is Quipped!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji's counterattack, Storm-Dance of Kamaitachi, partially gets through, doing 18 Fatigue damage to Pink Moon
<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

One eye, two eye, three eye, four; seven eye, eight eye, nine eye, more.

Staring someone down is uncomfortable at the best of times, these days. They say eyes are the window to the soul, so why does it only ever seem to work one way? Her nerves are certainly on display, as she looks up at too many of them.

Mikoto happens to know how much it takes to knock out Mami Tomoe. Not for nothing do the girls of Tokyo call her a Queen. That level of force...

(Her soul gem, Mikoto thinks, briefly - how dark?)

It might be an easy thing to say that's the way she wants it - and she might have even imagined herself saying it - but then it happened.

And no, it isn't easy.

It's never easy.

It's not easy but it is simple, the calculations she makes without thinking as she sees that light begin to shine again. She's already launching herself back up, and perhaps she means to lance it through before it charges --

-- except --

-- it's faster.

It's faster, and in mid-air the beam catches her, sends her flying back into a street now mercifully free of bodies, because Mikoto isn't fighting this thing alone. She tumbles over herself, haphazard upsy-daisy round-and-round-and-round, and one might wonder at this point how her body is bounced against the earth so often without her meeting a grisly end on her own blade. Well, practice makes perfect.

She grunts pain and dissatisfaction as she collects herself from the ground, rising up with the assistance of her Element braced against the asphalt. "It's strong!" She yells, to the Wind Knight, and perhaps it is as much to think of the words as anything else; certainly, her strategy is not complex. "Hit it harder!"

Well, it means she has to think of the words, and it helps remind her she's not alone in fighting this thing as sacred as it is profane, even though Fuu is on the other side of FAR too many wings.

When Mikoto fights these things alone, it doesn't work o...

... no, don't worry about that. Ai was there. It turned out fine.

If she gets scared of that, like this, she'll just get angry.

But looking at that snarl on her face - she already is.

A short angry noise rips from her, all tongue to teeth and lips, and she springs up again. Spins, in mid-air - perhaps that's why she recognised Tsuru's efforts, from the corner of her eye - and this time she's looking to sink her blade in deep enough that she won't go flying away afterwards.

This might seem like a terrible strategy, except...

Anger is a shared emotion. Anger is easy.

Anger is what lights red eyes along Mikoto's blade - which explode in a cacophony of white. Not quite pure or just, but... certainly powerful.

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Obsidian Blade: Destruction on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Her head is hurting less, or seems to be, the Wind Knight realizes. Perhaps it was just that momentary overstrain, and casting spells at normal levels isn't straining her. Either way, she's looking forward to resting - on her own terms, thank you, and not as a result of Orphan laser-thingy blasts hammering all over her everything.

Or maybe the sight of the Orphan is just fracturing her mind too much for a simple headache to keep registering properly.

Then, more lasers. The Storm-Dance of Kamaitachi is unleashed once more, and this time, instead of letting myriad miniscule not-spiders ride on its currents, the tempest batters the Orphan like it's *supposed* to - not binding it as she'd hoped the Winds of Admonishment would, but simply whipping and tearing at it, and in the process, giving the green-clad Magic Knight a chance to control her fall: maybe not exactly steering it, but something that lets her swerve around, shedding speed, sometimes reclaiming it, until she comes to rest, her booted feet taking hold upon the abused ground. She didn't dodge the lasers entirely, and she knows it, the stinging heat of supernatural laser-burns stitching through her consciousness ... but she's on her feet. So is Mikoto.

So is their enemy.

And while the Wind Knight tends towards gentleness, she too is fully capable of anger; while her Escudo sword is far less menacing than Miroku, it can cut just as well - and the Magic Knight brings her own blade to bear, following Mikoto's lead, wielding her long sword with a measure of grace and precision instead of raw destructive force. It might even look like cool, systematic calculation that guides her strikes.

COMBAT: Fuu Hououji has used Unorthodox Swordplay on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick perfectly dodges 68 Fatigue damage from Mikoto Minagi's Obsidian Blade: Destruction, taking 0 Fatigue
damage!  Critical Dodge!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick braces 12 Fatigue damage from Fuu Hououji's Unorthodox Swordplay, taking 5 Fatigue damage!  Pink Moon
Stick's Block and Parry abilities activate!  Stagger applied to Pink Moon Stick!
<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Tsuru's hand slips out of her palm. A haori slips out of her shoulders. Kozue's mind knows what to do, but for the moment she's too overwhelmed to do it. And that is when Tsuru catches her in her haori.

Kozue just stares at her with this strange lack of comprehension for a moment. It feels comforting certainly - but she's so used to pushing comfort away, so unused to receiving it, that receiving it right now in this situation feels so incongruent.

Yet whether she wants it or not, it is there, and in a moment of such desperate vulnerability she cannot help but passively soak it up like a sponge, "I don't... we need to..."

Her neck turns to look back at Mami as if suddenly, tremulously she was going to try and force herself to act... but Tsuru acts first.


Kozue says as she feels her arms pinned, and is suddenly dragged. Caught off-balance, her legs stumble as they try to regain footing in the opposite direction. "-what are-stop!"

Then dumped into the back, the haori is released, so she scrambles to the side of the car that Tsuru's keeping her weight up against to bar her exit.

"Tsuru - let- let me out-! We have to..."

To do what?

There's this vague idea of a plan, of grabbing Mami and between the two of them hoisting her over to their point of egress, but it's like she can't bring herself to do it. After all, there are other exits to the car, she could leave through any of them, but she's just focused... on this one. If she really had the impetus to act, there's so many things she could do.

She just feels...

... so helpless, and hopeless.

So much so that a random man who has no stake other than seeing a trio of girls in trouble is able to actualize the thought better than her - and she actually cares for Mami's fate.

"We have to go..." And she begins rattling the door against Tsuru's backside, though she doesn't go as far as kicking it - or anything more forceful. Indeed, she's shaking so much that it feels like she can't, "... to go... with her..."

Kozue looks towards the man carrying Mami off...

And then Kozue says perhaps the single rarest word in her whole vocabulary, as her forehead thumps against the side of the shattered window frame of the car.


There's an audible pause... before she finishes her plea, as soft as a whisper - yet easily heard between the short distance between them.

"I don't want her to wake up... in that car... around... people she doesn't know."

COMBAT: Georgia Jenks has loaded her saved combat state! She is now ready to take on 1 opponent!
<Pose Tracker> Tsuru [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Tsuru watches the man scoop up Mami Tomoe without objection, and certainly without resistance. Why would she? These everyday heroes are here just in the nick of time, and though their SUV is not invincible against Orphans, it is safer from Orphans in there than it is out here.

But if for some odd reason she did want to object, or even odder, resist, she and Kozue have little to back that up. Just two model-skinny high school girls. All shoujo and no mahou.

But again. There's no reason to object. Tsuru does not shift from her position even when those muscular arms slide underneath Mami like a spatula beneath a cream puff. But she does not respond to her heartbroken protege either, nor permit her to open the car door without enacting at least a small violence upon her slim form. Her eyes just follow the men passively. She doesn't even blink until Kozue says 'please.'

A few moments later, she speaks up when the one rescuing Mami has almost gotten her inside the SUV.

"She is not ready, sir," Tsuru reminds him, her tone all but submissive. "You will have to save only one girl today. And." Suddenly the gentle breeze of her voice seems to run up the back of one's neck.

"If you do, you must watch the road for lanterns." Tsuru is staring over the top of her glasses. "For where you find one of the two, the other is never far. She is close, sir. You feel her gaze, do you not? She watches over us even now, wondering after your intent."

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Meanwhile, at 4-4-4...

On a hand-mounted wide screen television at a catty-corner angle of a converted office, a film plays. Black and white - Audrey Hepburn - Roman Holiday, with a Japanese dub. There is a lingering scent of drying nail polish in the air, and a gentle background hum of a water pump.

"Mm. Hwah. Hah- ahh--"


The sneeze is loud enough that the otter falls off the couch.

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

Tsuru's pale lips shift more subtly than most when she speaks.

"And should She mislike it, a mist will rise and steal all your light, leaving your eyes fit only for the sobbing She craves from them. So I thank you, sir, and you as well, sir."

There is no sarcasm in her voice, only soft humility, framed by the sear and crash of battle behind her.

"For the sacrifice you will endure for the Princess, by the inhuman cruelty of the Siren."

<Pose Tracker> Georgia Jenks [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Georgia knew the impact of the truck would be rough. When it hits the magic created by the Wind Knight and herself, she immediately grits her teeth for what's to come. And come it does. She goes sliding back, letting out a sharp cry as her muscles begin to burn. Her boots are skidding across the concrete -- at first. And then they're skidding through it, having been forced down into it to the point where it's breaking apart and leaving twin trails in her wake. Her muscles aren't just burning anymore -- they're on fire.

"Uggggggh!" She bites down on her lip, enough to draw blood, as she holds her position, skidding backward ever closer to the group of bodies. Then, thankfully, the force begins to dissipate, until she and the truck come to a stop just before reaching the aforementioned downed bodies. There's a brief moment of horror on her face as the trailer of the truck swings outward, carried by momentum still. Though thankfully the Wind Knight's magic is more than enough to halt it in its tracks as well, slamming it still.

Thank goodness.

Georgia stumbles back, breathing heavily, vision blurred... then falls to the ground, flat on her back, only half-conscious. The sky is all she can (barely) see, and for a moment she just wants to lay there and breathe.

But there's no time for such things on the battlefield. The sound of something great and terrible coming into existence is enough to rouse her. Vision still blurred, she sits up, and is met with the intimidating sight of the Angel Orphan. But could something like that really be called an Angel? Georgia hops to her feet, unsteady but unwilling to give in. And that's when the lasers blast outward, and on instinct she jumps back, biting back and curse when her muscles absolutely scream in protest. Still, she doesn't get clobbered by said lasers, and lands on a nearby sidewalk in a crouch.

"That's a mean son of a gun!" She exclaims, standing up again. "No choice, then, huh? Time to stop playing nice..."

A flare of green light appears around her, along with a small gust of air that ruffles her hair and kicks up dust around her. She begins to twirl the chrome escrima sticks, and then proceeds to clang them together, the sound ringing out cacophonously. At the same time, she shouts a single name:

"T I T H O N U S!"

An eruption of sparks overtakes her and the immediate vicinity, obscuring everything. Then there's a discordant screech, followed by a sleek shape bursting through the spark cloud. Sailing through the air is the chrome-plated grasshopper that is Georgia's loyal CHILD, with her riding along atop. "GO! TITHONUS! SHOW THIS JERK NOT TO MESS WITH US!"

Another screech sounds from the CHILD as it barrels forward towards the Orphan, intending to crash into it with enough force to down it. But this isn't just going to be a simple hit-and-run. Tithonus turns, bounding off the ground, and heads back in for another hit, and does the same thing several times over, hopping around like a very angry insect!

COMBAT: Georgia Jenks transforms into Georgia and Tithonus!
COMBAT: Georgia Jenks has used Swift Hops on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick cleanly braces 6 Fatigue damage from Georgia Jenks's Swift Hops, taking 1 Fatigue damage!  Georgia Jenks
is Psyched!  Pink Moon Stick's Block and Parry abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.

The Orphan is indifferent at best to Mikoto's anger and Fuu's determination, but -- even more expressionless than the average monster, this weird creation -- it feels less like it doesn't care and more like it doesn't know. It feels like fighting a storm, a force of nature, if instead of thunder and lightning it was eyes and wings and too, too, too many lasers.

Someone who cared -- who understood the narrative -- might reward Mikoto's awesome strike with the pleasure of at least HITTING IT. The Orphan doesn't, and she doesn't; it bisects ITSELF out of her path, a bottom half and a top half instead of side to side, wings flattening above and below, out of Miroku's pissed-off path.

Then it reconfigures itself back into one piece just in time to go wing-to-blade with Fuu's smaller, skillful sword strikes, parrying some, but not all. She manages to slice off a pinion, which looks a lot more like a spiderleg when separated from the whole. It wriggles like an inchworm along the pavement, all alone.

A pathetic sight, but the only one. Everything else is huge and terrible. This fight is getting more and more desperate, dragging out longer and longer, with no particular sign of having HURT the Orphan yet, beyond a couple gooed-out eye sockets. It's only a matter of time before a laser barrage takes out Shibuya 109's front face, or Hachiko down below.

Or the car that Kozue and Tsuru are up against, the car with a Mami-sized spiderweb on its windshield.

A fusillade of laserbolts pours out in every direction, and that is one of them. The concrete in the middle of the road, away from the curb, shatters. The SUV reverses several yards.

To his credit, the man cradling Mami holds her close to his chest so that he takes the impact, when they're rolled by chaos. But afterwards, he looks straight at Tsuru, and... pauses.

For a little bit too long.

The pretty hairpin in Mami's golden curls draws the eye, that lover of similarity, to the tightly wound coil of plastic betwixt earlobe and military-short buzz on her carrier.

When he comes up, it's without Mami. Then he hops into the SUV and it speeds away before the next explosion can hit it.

But Tsuru has the ominous feeling that, like the girls' emotions not being the driver of the Orphan's actions, her own considerable intimidation may not have been the impetus for this decision.

It was definitely, however, the reason that the last look of the man, before the car door slammed behind him -- that last look was of the back of his neck, and it was gleaming. Gleaming with sweat.


A second kaiju joins the first, Tithonus interrupting what was becoming an unbearably long barrage of destruction. Destruction which could have, at any moment, become an unbearable amount of carnage. Wings spread in concentric circles, creating interlocking shields -- a sign of respect for the potential for this opponent to take it out, perhaps. And they spot-block each hop-slam as it comes in.

But it's too busy defending to mount a second wave of offense.

And ALL of its eyes are suddenly fixed on the Child.

COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Laserbeam Fusillade on Mikoto Minagi.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick has used Laserbeam Fusillade on Fuu Hououji.
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi fails to dodge Pink Moon Stick's Laserbeam Fusillade, taking 32 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Mikoto
Minagi is Quipped!
COMBAT: Fuu Hououji partially dodges 5 Fatigue damage from Pink Moon Stick's Laserbeam Fusillade, taking 19 Fatigue damage!  Fuu
Hououji is Quipped!  Fuu Hououji's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

The Wind Knight dashes and darts and weaves and twists, avoiding a handful of the lasers; far more than a handful scorch her in passing, though, and she can be heard hissing at some, crying out more audibly at others. By the time there's a moment's respite, the Magic Knight of Wind looks substantially the worse for wear - as if she hadn't already been on her back foot for most of the fight. But then --

Another monster. At least, so it would appear, if not for the pertinent detail that this new "monster" is joining the attack against the Orphan ... and there was a shout which heralded its appearance. A *human* shout. An ally's call ... and once the Wind Knight sees from whom that call came, a smile of relief crosses her face.

The girl she was supporting earlier, the one with the sticks, is back in the fight. And the cricket-thing - Tython? Not quite, but accuracy can wait for a bit - is her ally ... meaning she's like Mai and Natsuki.

The green-clad Magic Knight leaps back, her feet finding purchase atop a still-intact light post. "Glad to see you're still in one piece!" she calls out to the unfamiliar HiME, the sword in the Knight's hand replaced by a bow, and a quiver of arrows forming across her back. "I'm afraid this hasn't been going very well, but hopefully ... !"

She begins loosing arrows, not focusing her aim on a specific part of the Orphan - just trusting her instincts along with her aim, and trying to start putting out eyes. One at a time, true, but without giving the Orphan any grounds to predict which one she'll aim at next ... it can't keep ALL of them shifting around.

Can it?

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

Like a hammer, Mikoto comes down. Just - not on the Orphan.

She is chthonic, and yet she is so dangerous to the ground. White energy explodes around her, and the fissure she opened before is a paddling-creek compared to this. Because what goes up must come down, and what begins must execute.

In the middle of her crater is Mikoto, dazed. Too much. As much a danger to herself, like this.

She sees the lasers coming in, but she can't - quite - move. She feels her muscles trying, but the blood which feeds them is cloying and thick with exhaustion.

Yes. It was a bad call.

It's all she can do to roll to the side as they blast down, protect her belly, her face, her neck. When it fades, she does not, immediately, rise.

No - she thinks - Mai will be so upset.

This wasn't supposed to happen any more.

But... she has to.

This one is bad. It's worse than the other one. Bigger. Adapts more readily. How many hearts? Many or none. One trick. She has one trick, and it knows her.

Hand to the ground, unsteadily, she rises to her knees. Hands to her blade, she looks up, and that is when she sees it.


And here, a crack in the dam of her despair. It is shaped like a smile, jagged and uneven. The laughter which slips from it is hitching and lopsided, all emphasis on the trailing mora.

Quietly, it dawns: "So, that's Georgia's..."

She doesn't have to do this alone; she never had to do this alone. Maybe the HiME are no unit like Pretty Cure, but there are friends amongst them, and each a titan in a girl. Other HiME don't have to be her enemies; can't she decide that?

This is what she believes, shoulders hitching as she yells, knelt, sword buried in earth. Draw air to lungs; expel volume. In this, at least, she remains expert. "TITHONUS!" Mikoto cries, and beyond the desperation of her injuries is a purehearted enthusiasm for the power it brings to bear. "GO! GO! DEFEAT IT!"

She's at her limit, but that's okay. She's putting all her faith - in Georgia.

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used YEAH! SUMMON IT! on Georgia Jenks.
COMBAT: Georgia Jenks accepts Mikoto Minagi's YEAH! SUMMON IT!, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Georgia Jenks is Reinforced by Mikoto
<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Kozue goes from forehead against the frame to giving the back of Tsuru's head a look of utter astonishment, "Tsuru what are you even... on about...?" The strangeness though doesn't make Kozue angry or upset or anything, except on a most visceral level of not being out there right now. Instead... no...

... when Tsuru is like this, Kozue finds a certain kind of fear welling up.

Oh not for herself, necessarily... more like... what is at the end of this road. When Tsuru speaks like this, it is like beginning to tread into some dark place, moving past some liminal boundary...

... and you never enjoy what you find on the other side.

Certainly some of it sounds more like a ghostly adaptation of La Sirene than... a box... but the tone makes her think more of the latter.

"Come on... he's just some guy. And he's... offering to get us... out of..."

An explosion of laserfire causes her to cringe - rolls him over, and Kozue lets out a small gasp... out of the thought that Mami might be hurt and...

Then she sees it.

The small earpiece behind his ear.

"What... the..."

The SUV takes off... and Kozue slumps back down.


Kozue has suspects in her mind, but the sheer enormity of the error she almost made. That she took for granted, entrusting Mami to has her too floored to...

... trust herself at the moment. To do anything, even that which is obvious.

Unable to place that trust in herself, unable to thank Tsuru for now what she now comprehends was happening, she whispers finally to Tsuru with this tone of... utter dejection - as she eyes Mami on the ground, "Can you at least... go check on her?"

Wearily, she looks behind herself at the Kaiju-Orphan chaos, at the new Child that has appeared, and she feels too devoid of anything to feel anything but another stabbing pang of grief upon the appearance of a Child she doesn't recognize.

<Pose Tracker> Georgia Jenks [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The manic hopping of the grasshopper CHILD is likely not easy to follow. Though the Orphan seems to fare just well-enough to defend itself from the brunt of it all. "Annoying jerk!" Georgia shouts, as if that's going to hurt its feelings. In her experience, Orphans tend to not be too bothered by being called names. Though that certainly doesn't stop her from doing so. Call it a habit, if you will, Or a quirk.

Tithonus lands some feet away from the massive pseudo-angelic kaiju, letting out yet another screech, likely not too happy the beast is still standing and posing a threat to his owner. Georgia rubs the top of his head affectionately. "It's ok big guy! We're not out of this yet!" She reassures, which earns a low rumble from the CHILD that sounds... pleasing? Only Georgia can tell, really. The HiME smirks in response. "That's right. This jerk is going down."

The Magic Knight of Wind's relief at Georgia still being up and fighting earns the girl a trademark thumbs up. "Yeah! Can't get ridda me that easy! And thanks for the assist with the truck, earlier!" She also notes she no longer has a fancy sword -- it being replaced by an equally fancy bow and arrow. "Versatile... I like it! Let's finish this thing off!"

The other HiME on the field isn't forgotten in this moment. Georgia turns to lock her gaze on Mikoto, who absolutely bellows encouragement to the grasshopper CHILD. Georgia is beaming brightly at that, striking a triumphant pose on top of Tithonus, who also bellows aloud, the screech less discordant and more of an affirming battle cry instead. "We won't let you down!" Georgia assures, feeling even more energized than she already is. It's true what Mikoto has realized. She doesn't have to do this alone.

"LET'S GO! TITHONUS!" She casts her hand outward, and Tithonus responds, streaking forward towards the Orphan menace. What ensues is a straight up brawl, with the chromed-out grasshopper pummeling his opponent with swift jabs from both arms and legs. It's a flurry of chaotic motion that does not let up.

COMBAT: Georgia Jenks has used Dukin' It Out! on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick braces 6 Fatigue damage from Fuu Hououji's Trick Arrow Shot, taking 9 Fatigue damage!  Pink Moon Stick's
Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to brace Georgia Jenks's Dukin' It Out!, taking 10 Fatigue damage!  Georgia Jenks is Psyched!  
<Pose Tracker> Tsuru [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Tsuru shows no sign of satisfaction; she had expressed no aggression either after all. She uncrosses the palms she had behind her as a sort of cushion against the door, bringing them in front of her. With a tug at the cloth on her knees, she arranges her clothes to squat next to Mami. Holding the back of her pale hand until it is almost touching Mami's mouth and lips, she waits for the span of a few breaths. Turning her head, the glisten on her long black hair shifts and slides down, until Kozue can see her profile, and the glance of the corner of her eye. Tsuru gives Kozue a nod, as her report.

"If you can inhale for five seconds, and then exhale for five more," she guides. "Then please come and help me move her."

That corner-gaze lingers another moment. "It's all right, Blue Princess. Feel all of it."

<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Minogasanaizo! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wA300MHRwgA

Fuu plinks out eyes and Tithonus plinks out everything else. At first it feels as futile as anything else -- there are always more eyes, and more wings, there are SO MANY of both, the theme of the afternoon.

But... gradually...

...like water wearing away at stone, there's a sense that progress is being made.

The last of it happens all at once. Perhaps there was a weakness and it gave way beneath a particularly brutal grasshopper-strike. Perhaps there was a limit to how many eyes it was able to lose.

(Perhaps the SUV is around a corner and out of sight.)

Although whatever non-ocular flesh is behind those wings has remained a mystery all this time, the Orphan's volume begins to... bulge. Lots of smaller bulges, in every direction at once, as though Mikoto's sunny optimism and newfound love of teamwork has made it break out into a dozen dozen engorged, swollen pimples.

And they streeeeetch...

...a burning red eye at the tip of each...

Until, with a POP!, the one becomes many again.

The tiny spider-Orphans don't stick around for cleanup. With a dozen dozen skitters, they leap into shadows, dive through grates, bound up walls and onto rooftops...


Gone, but the mess is not. There's all kinds of concrete jacked up in the intersection; no match for the infrastructure prowess of Tokyo, which will have it all paved over with remarkable speed. And there's all kinds of people strewn about -- just bumps and bruises from their initial drops, they will wake up from their envenomed naps eventually.

Fortunately, emergency services has turned out in force to help them. Ambulances. Police cars.

And a dozen glossy black SUVs.

Later, people will swear that this place was wrapped up tighter than a spider's supper in rolls and rolls and rolls of yellow police tape, as opposed to pretty ribbons.

It will even be true.