2021-03-06 - Nightmare School

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Title: Nightmare School

Juuban Public School always enjoys a good ghost story, and a new one has been going around recently: ghost hands, grasping from the dark. It's a Halloween story which didn't go away after Halloween -- so it's time to stay after school and investigate.


Nori Ankou, Steven Universe, Fuu Hououji, Yumi Ohzora, Niramo Umokeshi, Fate Testarossa
GM: Rei Hino


Juuban Public School - Basement

OOC - IC Date:

2021-03-06 - 2015-11-06

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

The rumours began flying shortly before Halloween -- that's why everyone thought they knew why. A strange pair of hands from the basement, grasping anyone foolish enough to draw the short straw and need to go fetch supplies... the fifth-grader Akito Itoh has become a minor celebrity for being the first boy who ran into the ghastly hands, though, of course, there have been many claims since.

To hear him tell it, they were different colours -- "Kinda green, and, like, yellow, I think? I didn't see them that well..." -- and this drove the rumour mills of Juuban mad with tales of zombified flesh. The stories were as lurid as schoolchildren cared to make them, which always seemed to mean they were especially horrifying at lunchtime when their delicate classmates were busy trying to eat.

But then Halloween came, and Halloween went.

And people were still talking about the hands.

One student -- sixth-grader Hinata Nishiyama, miles more mature who is not above using her serious demeanour for a devastating joke now and then -- even claimed something absurd, in the days following. She says that what she saw was a foot, dangling from the netting where they kept the spare basketballs.

"What if there are bodies down there?!" The students cried.

"The ghosts are hungry!"

"I don't wanna clean the whiteboard, we're out of spray...!"

After a week of this rising tension, two things are deeply apparent: firstly, someone desperately needs to sleuth out the truth as to the zombies in the basement. Secondly...

Well, a few students have already been making excuses to go down there as much as they can, on dares or with a daring spirit.

This is disrupting the learning space.

The Sakurada name is one which has risen to prominence in the news recently, with the news of Natsuna Sakurada -- or, for one tense nail-biting moment, SUPER SAKURADA -- resigning from her position as Superintendent-General. Juuban students, of course, may know the name better on one Haruna Sakurada, eighth grade homeroom and maths teacher. Sakurada-sensei has done her students many kindnesses -- she's taken them on quite a few class trips! -- but one thing she simply cannot abide is slacking off, and those students know how stern she can really be.

All these kids sneaking off to go to the basement...

... Sakurada-sensei isn't about to let a new ghost story interrupt her lessons.

As such, she has put a most grievous BAN on visiting the basement with anything less than a teacher's note, plus signature; so vast is her wrath that she won't even tolerate them messing about down there after school.

Regardless of that, the stories haven't abated. Isn't it about time someone figured out what was really going on?

Clubs meet after school, of course -- but eventually, even the most diligent club must go home. It wouldn't be difficult to find a place to hide out after club-time, waiting for everyone else to go home for the weekend. Neither would it be terribly difficult for someone from another Sister School to slip in with those clubs, only to find somewhere to lie low for a while. After closing time, everyone is bound to have gone home, including the brutal Sakurada-sensei, right..?



... is also staying after class, because she has an awful lot of maths tests to grade, and she's experimenting with this new revolutionary technique of 'not bringing so much work home'. (Teachers have an astounding amount of work to bring home, did you know?) If she doesn't get it done, it's going to be hanging over her head all weekend, and even adults like to relax sometimes.

Grading tests is awfully intensive work, though, so she makes sure to take breaks and walk around the halls every so often. This serves the dual purpose of making sure no students have been caught out so late after school -- because kids here this late usually don't have a way to get home, and she has a duty of care to get them some help.

If she's making a few more passes by the basement than she normally would, well, it's not because she's worried about children's stories. It's just that she's worried about the children.

Hiding out was only the first challenge -- the second is sneaking past Sakurada-sensei.

And Juuban looks different now they're starting to turn the lights off... it's a little eerie, isn't it?

It's eerie because the ghosts are out to play.

There's a noise, from the basement. It sounds like rattle -- rattle -- crack -- shatter! THUD.

Open the door, and find it dark. Even with the light from the next floor up, it stretches out in a miasma of murkiness. The lightswitch... doesn't work. Shouldn't there be a lightswitch? There's enough light to get down into the basement hall, at least. Enough light to get down here... and hide from the prying eyes of Sakurada-sensei.

OOC: Your first pose should include how you came to be in Juuban so late (sneaking in, staying after club activities, visiting a friend to help them with make-up work, or perhaps you got stuck cleaning the blackboard erasers?), as well as an overview of how you gave Sakurada-sensei the slip to get into the basement. Encountering her isn't a game-over -- but you'll be escorted to the entrance and have to think up a new approach! Please end your poses on arrival to the spooky dark basement, which is spooky, and dark.

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

"I don't know how you can say it with such a straight face." Suzuka Tsukimura says to the girl in front of her.

"Say what?" Fate Testarossa says with a look of being at an utter loss.

"Investigate ghosts!" Arisa Bannings interjects, slamming the door of the Juuban Council room behind her to keep those from within for listening. She has a sheaf of papers under her arm, which she's roughly transferring into her bag. As the fifth year representative at Infinity, she's here for a joint project with the Juuban Council.

"Is that not something people do?" Fate says again in bewilderment. "I heard of um-" The girl puts a finger to her chin, "-tests of courage, on the latest Okinawa trip."

"Why yes, but that's just... to see if you have the courage to endure the darkness and the spooky presence of history. You make it sound like-"

"-you intend to fight them!" Arisa interjects again, interrupting her friend.

Fate looks at both of them again, at kind of a loss, before she asks...

"Is that not something people d-?"

"NO!" Both other girls cry out in unison.


Fate leaps off the landing above the stairs to the rooftop, and tries the door. It's locked, but that's expected since she heard someone chaining up. Placing her fingers to the doorway, there's a spark of electricity, and inside the rattle of chains.

Pushing open the bar, she heads inside, and moves down one flight of stairs. Two flights of stairs. Three flights of stairs. Once she's at the first floor, she peeks through the window, making her perception check.

And that's when she hears footsteps nearby.

... coming towards the door to the stairwell, as suddenly Haruna opens the doorway, "Who's hiding out in here? I heard footsteps!"

Game over right? Fate Testarossa has no chance of not being caught.

Save that the girl currently has her feet planted above the doorframe, her hands against the ceiling of the floor above, balancing delicately over Super Sakurada.

Jumping up there is beyond the ability of any fifth grader. She's not tall enough, her legs aren't long enough.

Flying though?

... well she can do that.

The problem is, her flight has a visual effect, so she doesn't... have the spell active anymore, arms and legs straightning as she tries to keep hold while the teacher looks around. "I could have sworn..."

A drop of sweat beads on Fate's forehead, starts rolling down her chin... and starts to fall...

... just as the teacher turns around and closes the door right before the drop patters into the floor. The girl holds herself up there a few seconds longer, then floats down.

"Test of courage. Test of courage." The girl whispers to herself...

... because the idea of getting in trouble with an authority figure makes her very nervous.

After a few more minutes she's huddled low as she approaches the basement door...

... just as she hears a crash. Eyes narrowing as this is more her kind of test of courage. Immediately she opens the door and starts heading down into the very dark basement.

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

At first, Niramo just assumes that the rumors were just part of people having fun with Halloween. But as the spooky day comes and goes, and the gossip continues to grow, Niramo starts to get a little worried. Zombies could be just as real as dark butterflies that possess people, and it's right under Juuban! Something is going have to be done. Now...how should she do it?

The early November light filters in through half-closed window shades, filling the home economics room with the last rays of autmun sunlight. The stoves were spotless, the counters wiped down multiple times and every utensil were free of every possible spec of dust possible. It's not like the cooking club of Juuban is overeager in their cleaning, but one member had gone above and above tonight.

Eyes flicking back to the clock above the chalkboard one last time, Niramo grabs her bookbag and walks towards the door with only a nod to herself. She's been rehersing this plan for a while now, and tonight seems like the best chance to go through with it. Peeking out through a crack in the door and looking both ways several times, the Juuban ravenette sighs softly and glances down at her bag. "Right. You're up, Takk-san."

Phasing through the bookbag and peering outwards, Takk floats down the hall a little and listens intensely before motioning down the hall to Niramo. Taking the cue, Niramo starts to follow after Takk, with the Kwami scouting the way. If anyone WAS watching, they might wonder at first why the student wasn't wearing her shoes, but the lack of any heels tapping against the floor would be the strategy here.

Even if that means that her feet were getting cold.

Once on the ground floor, Takk's aid prove immensely helpful. He's able to spot the patrolling math teacher as she's making her rounds before Niramo could go around a corner and be in plain view, and Niramo ducks inside the girls' bathroom to wait out the patrol.

Moments that feel like hours, hiding inside a pitch dark bathroom and with the only illumination being the light filtering through the crack at the bottom of the door starts to test Niramo's resolve, an anxious mind picturing all sorts of creepy ghosts sneaking up on her. Thankfully, Takk is quick to phase through the door and give the all clear, but...well, Niramo isn't looking forward to being down in the basement for long.

As she reaches the stairs leading down to the basement, Niramo takes this moment to get her shoes out of her bookbag and back on her feet. No way is she going to go basement crawling with only her socks on! But as she just manages to get both of them on, a loud crash could be heard, as well as the sound of a door being pulled open. Sharing a look with Takk, Niramo pulls out her phone and flicks on the light on the back before traversing down the stairs and into the depths of the school. The Kwami takes this chance to land on her shoulder, ears listening for any sounds she might miss.

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

When the supply room in the basement is off-limits due to suspected ghosts, there's only one thing to do:

Be *ruthlessly* efficient with the supplies you already have in the classroom. Or in the gym shed, in the case of Juuban's archery club. Fuu Hououji, president of Infinity's archery team, has taken it upon herself to help her peers learn to make the most of the resources on hand - using just the necessary amount of polish or rosin, not overdrawing your bow, handling the arrows with appropriate care, and so forth.

For better or for worse, Fuu spends long enough teaching about efficiency in care-and-tending of archery equipment that by the time she finishes, the sun is going down and the school is being battened down for the night. That doesn't give the team (or Fuu) much time to change back into school uniforms and depart the premises ... although one of those isn't much of an issue for Fuu. Not because she's leaving school grounds in her archery outfit - but because she wants to see what's up with those rumors. All three Sisters Schools see their share of suprenatural activity on the premises, and if this is something that a magical girl needs to look into -

"Who's there?!"

- then she's going to have to outwit Sakurada-sensei first, isn't she. Fuu simply offers her most winning smile and a very polite bow, "Good evening, Sakurada-sensei. I apologize for my late presence here, but I'm on my way home now."

Haruna Sakurada frowns, then lets out a breath. "I'll walk you to the front doors, Hououji, but make sure you head straight home. No detours to investigate rumors, no matter how fond you are of your friends here at Juuban. Understood?"

"Absolutely, sensei," Fuu replies, still smiling. Okay, this is going to take longer than she thought ...

Fortunately, the wall around the Juuban grounds is just a little higher than Fuu's own height, so once she turns to head towards the train station, Fuu can *stop* heading towards the train station, straining her ears so the sound of Sakurada's retreating footsteps can fade away fully. Only then does she poke her head around the edge of the gate ... then stalk, quickly and quietly, towards the front doors. Being escorted out *did* let her confirm where the route to the basement is, so if she times it right while Sakurada-sensei is focused on the next few tests that need grading, the coast should - hopefully - be clear.

(Footnote: Fuu has a really awful track record at Metal Gear Solid.)

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

Juuban has been under a straight no-basement policy now for a bit. Which is... not suppressing the youth??? Or whatever teenagers are saying these days. Why kids are up in arms for a basement ban is above Steven Universe.


A mystery is afoot. And ahand. And several other a-body parts. Appendages have been sighted in Juuban, and even some kids have been supposedly accosted by them! This mystery cannot go unsolved! Especially when it is worrying people.

But he cannot do this alone. Only one person had the spooky aura and amazing fashion prowess to tackle this sutation.

Hey Nori! Some crazy stuff is going on in Juuban's basement! I'm gonna check it out! Wanna come? :ghost: :ghost: :scaredface:

Steven likes to use emojis a lot as of late. People should have never shown him they were an option on texts.

The text was sent out earlier in the day, as the boy took a stop by Shibuya. A mysterious investigation ina school basement could be fun, so Steven devised a plan-- bring a friend to Cooking Club at Juuban! If he can get Nori in for the after school activity, they would be able to get to the basement, hopefully unaccosted. A particular teacher as made it their crusade to bar students fro mdescending into the unknown. Mostly to avoid another prank situation. Plus there are harmful things down there, like paint or cleaning supplies. Though who in their right mind would tamper with that?

Once the club has dispersed, Steven cleans up his station and looks to Nori. "It may be time we... get snooping!" the boy says, and takes out what looks like a bubble pipe and a fedora.

He is really feeling the detective thing today. "Oh, I uh, probably should have suggested a cool detective attire thing for you Nori... Sorry. You can have the hat if you want it!" he says, leading the way toward the stairs, and keeping an eye out for the teachers.

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

There is, traditionally, a direction that people don't look in the city. Yumi Ohzora has taken advantage of this many a time. But that's getting ahead of her. Long before that, Yumi has heard of course about these ghost stories, and... Well...

It seems like a lot of fun to investigate a little, especially when Fate expresses interest in it. Ghastly hands! A foot! Hungry ghosts!!

...And a place they aren't supposed to go...

So there is a direction people do not expect someone to approach a basement from, and how does Yumi get around a teacher? That's simple. She waits, and waits, and...

Well she was going to sneak in with Tama's help but Tama refused, so...

Instead Yumi flies through the halls to avoid making any noise, and when she hears Sakurada coming she zooms out of view before she can get to her. Eventually in this way she makes her way down to the basement.

Holding her broom in one hand, the young witch pads down... down...

Into the spooky basement.

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

Nori's reply to Steven:

> Ah sorry I was practicing... > Really? > Yes > :ghost:

Nori had come along with a plan and a very generously sized beret hat. That plan was to show people how to make festival bread, a simple and easy-to-make Caribbean treat -- which even Nori can't mess up from inattention, at least too badly. She might have seemed like she had a headache.

And after things are done, and the cleanup is passed...

Nori tilts her head forwards and takes off the beret in a spill of black hair. "Oh, don't worry about it, Steven. I'm just glad to be here."

Batiste hops out of the beret, giving Steven a brief handshake and then scampering off to visit the little otter's room. While Batiste is occupied, Nori whacks the hat back into shape and adjusts a black turtleneck shirt and a low-profile charcoal tulip skirt, leaving the apron up on its peg as it was a loaner.

"Please lead on - Detective Universe!"

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

Haruna Sakurada, in her patrols, finds a lot of things which don't totally add up; a stairwell which had footsteps but no students, a strange gust of breeze like something just flew past. (Of course, she can't spy the clever little scout Niramo employs.) She finds Fuu, at least, and escorts her out, so perhaps she can put her mind at ease about the students she could hear and not see. Back to grading...!

Luckily, Steven, a student of the noble institution of Juuban, knows Sakurada-sensei well enough to be able to sneak past her mid-grading. Nori benefits from this vast wisdom, too.

Meanwhile: the test of courage these children call the basement. It's dark, but not pitch black; if anything this makes the indistinct shapes of the basement hall more creepy, not less. The mind has a habit of completing incomplete images, after all. Is there something behind that ajar door? Did it move? Did they just see HER face, the one they mustn't look upon?

There's a sound like a slide on a violin, all out-of-place and at the back of the neck. Or -- no, perhaps -- perhaps the word for this is less a slide and more a SKITTER, scramble-bramble along the floor. The light from Niramo's phone catches the shards of glass, illuminating the ground. It's just a lightbulb. It used to be a lightbulb. Nothing there, on the floor, but those pieces of a lightbulb. One two three four five ten twenty-six pieces and they used to be a lightbulb.

Look up, up, up there, and the light fixture is still swinging, as if something was hanging from it. Swaying hither and dither, slowing, slowing... still. There was a teacher, once... just like that...

Everyone is safe from Sakurada-sensei. But are they safe from the ghosts? The zombies? The zombies who are ghosts. Juuban has so many stories, so enthusiastically adding onto each other, layering over each other. Here they've added another, to scare each other in the playgrounds and after school, but how much power do these stories... really... really have?

A noise follows from the chair storage, a toppling down. An even bigger crash! (Did Sakurada-sensei hear that...?)

This is a room all full with chairs and tables, the spares, the just-in-cases; the light seems dodgy in here, too, but Niramo's brought a solution, light in a beam to cut through the dark. Juuban is after all a Sister School; there are times it entertains more students than are contained in its classes. And sometimes classes are bigger than they expect, even regardless of visitors. And sometimes, a chair breaks! That happens, leaning back too far on two legs, knees all jammed against the desk, invincible until that exact moment one leans back a fraction too much. The teachers always say not to, but they can't keep an eye on the student body at all times. Like this time --

One of the chairs is back to the floor, two legs in the air, as if a student had that same balancing idea. But it was on the top of a pile too high for most students to think of climbing; now the pile is all askew, chairs jutting out this way and that, and one all sadly laying on the ground.

There's a dragging sound, moving away from it. Look. It's not too far away.

It can't get too far. It doesn't have legs.

Even if these feet were made for walking.

OST: Aivi & Surasshu - Gem Shards https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGOJIl2lx0M

One is light pink, the colour of blushing roses; the other a delicate-spun lavender, soft as a summer's day. At each ankle they become each other, purple to pink, pink to purple. Two ankles. No legs. Two feet, crawling-dragging themselves by their toes, and finally pink rises over purple, a heft of weight worthy of any junior physicist. Now they can thud-thud-thud, as the purple foot hops up and down, journeying back to the darkness.

Before one can worry too much on THEM, though --

The hand --

Akito-kun said it was all yellow and green, and it is. THEY are; like hand is to foot they are joined wrist to wrist, sunflower-yellow and grass-green, and where one palm faces the ground the other faces the sky, all in reverse, all twisted up. It skitters across the ceiling and drops, like a creepy-crawly which lost its grip, right -- onto -- Steven. It grasps at his shoulder, tight and tightening, as its fingers reach out for his face. It can't quite get there. Its hands are put together wrong.

It is smooth and cool, in just the way a hand shouldn't be.

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

Fate is halfway down the stairs, when she looks back, and double takes. "Oh! Yumi. You came too." Before she then looks to the others, "A lot of people came..." She marvels.

She's not certain if tests of courage are supposed to be one people, or two, or many. Either way, she's learned she doesn't know very much about tests of courage. In the end, she's here to investigate the ghostly rumors.

"Let's stay together. In case the ghosts show up. Then they'll be scared of us."

Fate says that with a sort of confidence that feels incongruent with her age. Or perhaps she's just not seen too many horror movies...

... or perhaps horror is something that she's simply learned to live with.

She doesn't lead the way down or anything though, just walks with the rest. And then there's a noise like...

... she doesn't know what it is. Something in her eyes sharpens. And she holds up a hand, like she's trying to stop and look before continuing. Watching the phone beam illuminate the glass. A few seconds pass and... "It must have broken recently... or else... The Juuban students would have cleaned that up." Fate says, voice taut, "... they take pride in their school."

A topple, and Fate spins around, gesturing Yumi's way to point...

As they head towards... the room with the chairs.

Fate looks at the chair on the floor as if it's not unusual, walking up to it. She too has taken part in stacking chairs for storage, as has every student who spends time cleaning up their classrooms. And then she looks.

At the creature, multi-colored. It's limbs just like the rumors. Yet it feels more solid than a ghost.

Much more solid than a ghost. "Is that... a ghost?" The girl gapes for a moment, before another movement comes behind them and she whirls around. "Steven!" Perhaps she feels transforming might take too long. So she doesn't. Instead, she quickly grasps the only thing in arm's length. The legs of one chair that's fallen from the sad pile...

... and pivots around, yanking it up as she goes and stepping up to him, swinging it like an overlarge baseball bat to try and smash it right into his assailant.

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

Now, one might think that Yumi, being a real witch and a magical girl both, would be especially unconcerned with dark basements and mysterious noises. However, there is definitely one major snag with this idea:

She knows even more spooky things than most people!!

"There probably aren't ghosts down here," Yumi says as she steps up to Fate, and smiles at her. "I mean, what would happen to cause someone to haunt a school basement?"

Pause. Various scenes of terrible death and curses flit through her mind.


The room with the chairs, and a creature--ah--


Yumi sort of stares for a ew at the shapes, at the limbs and feet and creepy crawlies that go there--"

"That's not a--Aaa Steven!"

She does not try to swing at it! Instead she says, "There wasn't supposed to actually be anything down here!!"

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

Niramo's tiny beam of light seems to be the best source of light in the underground of Juuban. There's light fixtures, of course, but some of them are flickering with no set pathern. Others produce more sound than light as electricity struggles to flow through the bulbs, and others are completely dark. All in all, the lack of proper illumination is enough for Niramo's shoulders to tighten up, her body instictively shrinking down on itself a little more. There doesn't seem to be signs of zombies, but the tricks of the light is enough to make the ravenette feel like ghosts are hounding her every step.

A sudden sound has the hairs on Niramo's neck stand up on end and she twists around, a sharp cry squeaking out of her throat from how sudden it was. There's no mutanted ghost zombie right behind her, but the light reflecting off the shards of glass and the creeking of the hanging fixture only a few feet away from her is clear. There is something here, and it's not afraid to show its' presense.

Breathing rapidly, Niramo looks around her wildly for any sign of movement, the small beam of light from her flashlight barely making a dent in the vast darkness.

Letting out a shallow smile, she nods her head towards the others, an uneasy smile on her lips. "S-sorry, was just spooked by that. I don't think we have any violins down here." The fact that she seems to be trying to ignore the fact that someone had to play it is clear.

Niramo takes after Fate's lead, holding her phone up slightly in order to help everyone see better, casting a light on the chair pyramid. "Okay, I know we stack better than...this?"

The light is enough to illuminate the conjoined hands, the multihewed appendages conjoined together. And it's not just the hands, there's also feet matched together as well! Flicking her light back to the hands with growing apprehension, she aims the light upwards--

--just in time to see the hands land clearly on Steven's shoulder! It's solid, far too solid to be a ghost, and the realization that there must be a mad scientist making zombie experiments down here has Niramo freezes up solid. Niramo turns a solid shade of white and stiffens up, her mind picturing all sorts of bizarre horrors that could roam in the abbandoned halls. She's no help, but she doesn't have to be when Fate is swinging to the rescue...!

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

Steven of course is always happy to see Batiste, AKA Mr. Otter! It is good to see him still out and about.

Getting to the stairs isnt so difficult-- Steven has walked past them numerous times. Just today there is intent to go down them. "You have a way cooler hat anyway I would say!" the boy adds, donning the fedora, a checker-plaid gray affair. Normally he would get a more festive color, but all the cool guys who wear it are on the silver screen, and lacked color.

With pipe held to mouth, Steven stalked toward the stairs, navigating around Sakurada's proximity well, though has their own hurdle to cross. Around a corner by the stairs, he stops. "Someone else is there... they might tattle on us!" he whispers to Nori. "Oh wait. Hey guys!" Steven says, heading toward the stairs, seeing other folks gathering and heading downward.

"We better hurry!" Steven adds to Nori.

The basement is as one would expect, perhaps a little damp, darker than comforably allowed, and always appears as though something is moving just out of sight. "Okay! Hang on, I got a cellphone light." The boy fuddles around his pockets, though Fate gets his attention. "Hey Fate! Yeah, had a club here today. Nori and me were gonna check otu the rumors. Glad to see a familiar face! I was--"


"Eep! More students?" Steven says, suddenly turning into a nervous wreck at the, well, drop of a hat. He has to pick up the fedora as it slid off his poofy hair. "Okay, that can't be good. Should we invesigate?" he asks. Others are already on it, looking and reacting to something, though they crowd the form out.

But that is the least of his concern.

A cool hand grabs his shoulder. A little firm, but a familiar temperature sensation. It feels like when he held Lapis Lazuli's hand. A sensation of flesh with the wrong temperature. "Did the Gems-- UH."

As it grips harder, he can see it.

BGM:Loop Hero - Cosmic Temperance


"What is that?! OH NO!" The boy exclaims as the not-so-being decides to clamp down. Whatever Steven is, it must have it. "FATE OH--"

The boy barely sees the bat coming in time as he is reaching for it, and tries to dive to the right to keep his head out of the way, so the bat can clobber it, and not the small child.

"I knwo what these are, I think! We gotta take them out, be careful...!"

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

Nori smoothly slides past the view of Sakurada-sensei. (Batiste, obviously, has his own routes.) As they rendezvous with others nearer to the basement, there is a sense of something there. Motion. The skittering gives Nori a thought - perhaps an outsized crab or two has come up a drain during a recent spat of heavy weather, or perhaps it came a few months ago, and now, fattened on scraps and abandoned bento boxes -- or a carcinophilic schoolchild - it looms large.

"I trust you in these matters, do not fear that I will second guess you," Nori asides to Steven, before they move further. Nori does not get her cell phone light on, which may mean there's a slightly eerie manifestation behind Steven, enough to be spooky -- if it wasn't for Batiste scrambling up to get on her shoulders and wave wordlessly but merrily at people.

And as they move...

Something comes, with tropical-fish brightness in its colors. Bright colors that, in this place, suggest warning - poison - and something beyond the range of nature.

And then it moves and strikes towards Steven and Nori feels her entire spinal muscle set contract and a giant scream seems to be rising in her throat like an ascending whale but THANK GOODNESS there is Fate, the avenger of time, wielder of a bat; Nori cringes backwards, saying through tight teeth, "gahhh crush iiit what IS it aaangh" to avoid desperately the urge to SHRIEK.

That would definitely alert Sakurada.

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

Having fared less than superbly on her first attempt to sneak down to the basement, it takes a little while for Fuu to catch up with the others - they might not even realize that anyone else is down there until one of two things draws attention behind them: the light from her phone's flashlight mode, or ...

"What on Earth - ?"

... the sound of a voice that wasn't already known to be with them, if Fuu gets that close without drawing friendly (or unfriendly) attention. She quickly turns off her phone's light upon sight of the mismatched parts of what could be bodies, and pockets her phone in favor of her glove-jewel. She's not transforming yet, but if the mobile parts are due to a monster's action, she'll need the glove-jewel anyway.

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

Fate equips a chair, and strikes--!!

Steven dives out of the way, and the hand -- hands -- go along for the ride, but their grip loosens and they tumble-scatter-turn across the ground, too physical, too solid, too REAL to be a ghost. The stories weren't supposed to be real. The fun thing about ghost stories, Juuban surely knows, is the possibility. There's nothing possible about those limbs all mashed together, no what-if, no wondering.

They ARE.

Steven says he knows but they offer no explanation, no noise, but for the drawing across themselves which is so discordant and out of tune. The hands curl in on themselves, less like flinching and more like a spider in its death-throes; but then they uncurl, and the soft pink hand lifts itself on its fingers, skitter-scatter away.

The chair impacted with a stack of tables, instead. CRACK!

Yes, Sakurada-sensei heard all that.

She hears so much banging, and the hairs on the back of her neck prickle up. "Oh, those kids..." She grouses, on her way to the basement. The light clicks. There is no light. She sighs, and heads down anyway, standing in the doorway to the chair storage room, all hands on her hips.

"Hold it! I thought I told you all to stay out of the basement -- look, the lights aren't even working right now, you'll get --"

Her ire clips off in the middle, because another noise joins it. It's like the rising tone of a brass instrument out of tune, or played by an inexperienced student. But it could have been made by a throat, passed through vocal chords, and the keening shatters after a moment. A voice feminine and put through a paper shredder, all ground down, all torn up.

Again, a thud, coming from down the hall. The cleaning cupboard had a secret, after all.

It's not... quite... a foot.

The knee is a complicated instrument, all hinges and moving parts. It shouldn't be at the end of a leg which bends -- that's simply not how legs work. One does not have two sets of knees. And yet here it is, bending and bending again, and impacting on the cold concrete of the ground. Thud. Thud.


It's dragging with it an arm, but not quite an arm; it's too thick, as if two of them have been superimposed over each other. It ends in something not immediately recognisable as a shoulder bone, and that's the point when it becomes obvious it's bending the wrong way, as if its trunk begins where it ought to end. Fingers grasp at the place where its limb meets its body, all melded in, all fused together.

One foot works, but the toes are all curled the wrong way up.

One hand works, but the area between the middle and ring fingers is grotesquely split, like some mockery of a Vulcan salute.

It does not... appear... to have a head at all.

Most striking is its colours: it is not white or brown or any shade between but yellow, and green, and pink, and blue, and purple and orange and red and -- one foot one colour, one hand one colour, two tones for that arm which oughtn't, two different shades for each of those knees.

It makes another noise - or are they two, woven together, discordant in their message? Two, three, four, five. Groaning, bemoaning... bellowing, as Sakurada-sensei turns to the shady hall, seen by the students in profile as she calls out to the indistinct shape in the darkness.

"If you think you're the first student who's put on a bedsheet and tried--!"

Something so lumbersome shouldn't be fast; it simply isn't fair. Nevertheless it charges, and all a sudden Sakurada-sensei isn't in the doorway because she has been knocked all the way to the other wall. She thuds down, and does not finish her statement, too sceptical, too devoid of horror to have possibly seen the truth.

This almagation leaves no room to question. It seems Fuu was right to grasp her glove-jewel; this isn't a ghost story any more. It's a MONSTER story.

Haruna won't realise anything ever again -- no more class trips, no more lectures over missed homework, no more Sakurada-sensei -- if that thing is allowed to charge a second time.

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

"Nevermind?" Fate echoed Yumi's statement with a question.

The girl hasn't heard enough ghost stories to have those images move through her head.

Whereas Niramo's statement gets a resolved nod.

That was then though. And this is now.

The chair impacts with the stack of tables. And Fate feels it jarred out of her small hands. It's not that she can't keep a grip, she just didn't expect what it impacted and the recoil jammed upright.

"Oh!" Surprised by the crash she just created, she looks around suddenly, this way and that... "I didn't get it..." She apologizes to Steven, but as he said that what they need to do... "But... we'll definitely take them out."

And then, the voice of the teacher at the doorway to the room causes her to freeze with more horror than the hands. "Ah... sensei... um..."

She stammers, now all nerves...

Scrape. And Fate stands up straight and whirls towards the sight... the distorted keening... the thud. And the teacher's... misunderstanding. "Sensei! No! It's!" But... she's too slow. And that thing is big... and far too fast.

Far too fast to prevent what happens next.

A jewel finds its way into her hands. "Bardiche Impulse! Set Up!" <Get Set. Drive Impulse.>

The flash of light is like a strobe in the awful dark of the room. Just a brief flash, and then the girl is right in front of that far too lumbersome monster. <Defenser Plus>

A concentric flash of circular runes strobes in the dark as she actually... rams up into the creature trying to keep it charging again. Trying to hold it back at bay for a moment against the solid barrier field. "Yumi! Can you bind it?!"

She may be instantly in trouble. The field is... not meant to be used in this way, as if to preemptively pin the thing in and hold it back. It's meant to be a reaction to an attack.

COMBAT: Fate Testarossa transforms into Barrier Jacket Impulse!

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

Hands go flying off into the dark with a strong swing from Fate and Steven is saved from the mutlicolored threat. The others are even speaking, and a disconnected part of Niramo's mind notices that Sakurada-sensei is staring at them all with a rather impressive frown, but everything everyone is staying seems to be swallowed up by the powerful roar of jet engines.

Sure, she's fought against monsters of all shapes and sizes before, giant scorpions to moisture-devouring cloud demons. The realization that the dead can come back and strike agains the living, tearing past the veil of death and drag others into the abyss is something completely different. It's real, it's here under Juuban and Tokyo could be swallowed up by an technocolor zombie outbreak! This fear is crippling, and it seems like Niramo is completely paralyzed by her own fear.

That is, until the most bizarre creation yet, a lengthy abomination that which *should not be*, hits the poor teacher with such force that she is sent flying through the air and against the wall, sliding down and not moving.

Sound suddendly starts to make sense again and Niramo can feel like she can breath for the first time in ages. Sakurada-sensei is in danger, an innocent woman is hurt and might possibly die, and will die if she doesn't act! Breaking herself free of her mental chains, Niramo tosses her phone onto the ground (gently, it's too expensive to replace) so that there can still be a source of light before she starts running for cover. She needs to get the math teacher to safety, but Niramo can't do much to safe her. But Sourisi can. "Tail, sprout!"

A burst of light from behind some fallen chairs as the magic of the Miraculous is tapped into, and Sourisi leaps over to get directly towards the collapsed Juuban teacher. Taking note of the strange field that has appeared around Fate and her headlong rush to pin the creature down, Sourisi picks up Sakurada-sensei as gently as she can. The best thing to do right now is to make sure Sakurada-sensei doesn't get attacked again. "I'll make sure it doesn't get near the teacher!"

COMBAT: Niramo Umokeshi transforms into Sourisi!

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

"...You do??" Steven apparently knows what these are. That's helpful, in theory. But 'be careful' is not exactly encouraging.

She feels Nori's cringe though. She's definitely also there. But soon, the noise comes, and Yumi winces as much from it as the fact that Sakurada is sure to be here any moment. With... these things. The foot.

Yumi looks a little green (moreso than usual) at the various limbs and colors of the creature. Noises, bellowing...


"Staff of Lost Ivy!" Yumi is suddenly holding her staff and invokes it, gleaming green before she stands in her witch's garb instead of ordinary clothes. Fate calls to her, and--

""I can try!"

Yumi chants strange words of power and carves a rune through the air. "Stop moving!" It's not the best magic chant, but the rune will do.

Since Niramo has her protected, then Yumi can focus on the monster...

COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora transforms into Witch Ivy!

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

Technically, Sakurada having 'found' the students might mean they no longer have to worry about drawing attention with loud noises of their own ... but Fuu still doesn't shout anything, willing her transformation rather than calling out her invocation. The appearance of the Wind Knight's bow and quiver are similarly willed rather than shouted - and of course, like any good archer, she doesn't need to speak, or even whisper, as she lines up her shot, her glasses not even slightly blunting the intense focus in her emerald gaze.

And then the arrow flies - and hits with far greater force than you'd expect a slim wooden shaft and a metal arrowhead to carry; the impact on the mannequin-esque monster is more like a bullet train than even a bullet, as if carrying the full weight of the Wind Knight's will with it. If adapted into words, that will might be conveyed simply as 'Get Away From Sakurada-Sensei,' whether spoken strongly or printed in bold text.

Fuu Hououji may be a student of Infinity rather than Juuban, but she still looks up to teachers - and she still protects innocents, whatever their age or job may be.

And she's already nocking another arrow, ready to keep driving the monsters back while her faster allies get Sakurada to safety.

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

Nori suppressed her screaming for nothing. Sakurada is here again! And that thing is moving too quickly and Nori Ankou, giant fool, did not bring her magic lantern! (It is a little hard to just hang around with if you're not already wearing a big purse, and she thought this was going to be a crab at worst. She had a plan for the crab.)

But in this cold squirt of fear - Nori is the one who is protected. The one whose friends will stand up. The one who sees the knights and protectors from the view of the field. It brings her heart strength.

Maybe not a lot of strength, though, because she has no weapon with her. The glow of the boundary field and the swift and glamorous motions of the others does not change the unfortunate and deep-set truth of that looming, lumbersome THING.

But there is one clear thing she can do -

"Aaah!! Look at me look at me look at me look at me!!!" Nori shouts at the monster. (Batiste looks at her from his current perch with total jaw-dropping astonishment.) As she does this, she crouches slightly, pops back up to spread out her arms, and then starts to backpedal quickly, hopefully not into anything that she can stumble over.

"If it looks my way it won't look at them and they can beat it," Nori says aloud, sweat running in cold trickles down the small of her back. "They can - I know it! And if I can just do this little part to help - them out --!!"

<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.
BGM: Loop Hero - Cosmic Temperance (With correct link!)

Unnatural, even moreso than what was previously known by Earth standards. If someone told you that body parts could be randomly stitched together and made t omove, would you believe them, or think they were talking about a horror flick?

Sometimes in the world of the magical, the line can blur, often to unthinkable degrees.

Steven can still feel it touching him, even it being long off his neck. "These are Gems! Well, sorta?! Its a complicated story-- we don't know all the details!" Steven calls above the dischordant echo of ruckus in the basement. A wink of pink light bades everything for a second in the dim light as he summons his shield. "I'll try to find that small one! We can't let any of them get awa-- teacher?!"


"Miss, those aren'tt kids in sheets! They are--!" A sudden surge of movement and a thud indicates the teacher has been disposed of, though alive still. "Gonna have to pull otu the big guns for that one! How did they even get down here? The last time we saw them was..." Is there anything further below the school, he wonders.

"Thanks for the help by the way Fate!" the boy says, giving chase to the multi-handed one.

A call over to Yumi and Niramo. "I don't know what they want with people though!"

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

An arrow glances off this thing which is so many and so much all at once. They don't have a head, but they still NOTICE the way that magic grazes across the fingers which are their shoulder, crashing across with her passion and the force of her will. The fingers do not bleed. They split, bloodless, and do not knit again.

The collection turns. Clomp, thud, scrape, they enter the room. There is again that noise from it, like a roar or a wail, nails down a chalkboard for how clashing it is, how suddenly it adjourns. Perhaps it is not a noise Earth was meant to hear, the way it sounds at once like a mistuned brass instrument, static-crackle, a creaky-creaky door hinge, a woman's scream. Maybe that's just the only way their ears can process what they're hearing, like something they were never meant to listen to, from somewhere far away.

Sourisi -- who appears just in the nick of time! -- leaps to Sakurada-sensei, and strangely, she will find that the woman doesn't seem terribly injured despite the horrific creature which ran into her. It's as if she's fainted from her fall; she's still breathing, and looks whole. Getting her out of here is nonetheless an excellent plan.

Fate rams into the creature-or-perhaps-creatures with Defenser Plus; they grind back, against the wall. The reason Sakurada-sensei is all right might be made clear, in this strike which was not designed for offence, either. The almagation of parts pushes its battering-ram of an arm at her barrier, and it pushes -- and pushes -- and yet there is no sense here that they are trying to strike her, trying to batter her with the shoulder which is their fingers.

There's no hand on the end of that knob of a shoulder, but it's like... it's like...

... they want to grasp her, through the field.

... like they're reaching out.

But she meets them with force and there is force to them, too, matching the pressure that field exerts, reaching, reaching, reaching. If they truly to grasp her perhaps they do not REALISE their strength, because if the field falters, with this level of pressure --

The Staff of Lost Ivy is remembered, and more runes join the fray; vines entangle them and they will find so many paths through something too hard to be flesh, gaps between their arm, through their fingers, through the gaps in their knees. The gaps, as if they were imperfectly knit together.

That scream gains a woodwind-reedy quality, a deep PULSE of noise, garuu-UUUUU; it's precisely the sound the monster under your bed makes, when you're just about to drift off to sleep. They have no face to register displeasure, but the way they writhe makes two things clear: for one, Fate's luck is about to run out if she doesn't get out of the way, and for two, they deeply dislike the binding. Nori's voice calls it towards her, like a siren; their vast limbs flail, as they stomp forward. STRIKE, comes their battering-ram of an arm, back and forth, and a set of chairs go sailing like bowling pins to a ball.

... but Nori may well find, in invoking that thing's attention...

... there's more than one of them, here.

There's a grip, at her ankle, cold and smooth. Creepy-creepy-crawly the hand which is two hands crawls up her leg, and that is where Steven will find it; he may well find Nori has bigger problems, with that vast creature advancing. Nori might be able to struggle with that double-handed almagation -- it is small, and its grasp not so vicelike that she might not be able to struggle it away, with effort. But without her lantern...

(There is also a foot. It shoves itself against Nori's foot. This does not do quite as much as the hand, with its grip, grasping tightly to her. Be kind. It is trying its best.)

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

"You're... welcome..." Fate strains out her response to Steven's thank... as if the engagement is pressing her a great deal. Fate despite her magic, is not exactly an individual of raw, brute strength in this form. The barrier is meant to stop ranged attacks - stop up close combat attacks even for long. Yet, it's not trying to attack her is it?

She pushes, and her metallic boots GRIND against the floor, raising sparks as she tries to dig her foot in to no avail. Because the pressure... is starting, to cause that field, to crack. Fortunately, that's when Yumi acts to bind it. "Good one - Yumi!"

Fate glances over her shoulder given that she's been bought time as she looks Niramo's way, "Alright! Keep her safe!" Before Nori actually draws her eye, 'Aaah!! Look at me look at me look at me look at me!!'

The child, caught in her desire to please even in the midst of the battle, obliges. Nori explains though, "Oh! That's what you're doing!"

Yet the scream causes her to pause, just as her shield finishes the job of cracking...

<Sonic Move.>

As it's writhings shatter her shield to smash into the chairs like bolwing pins, it passes through an after-image of the child who seems to be strobing around the room now, flickering in just brief glimpses of her position. Unfortunately, she doesn't see the grip of the wrist at Nori's foot.

Unfortunately she's tunnel visioned partially on her target, so when she reappears behind it, Bardiche on the backswing and ready to attack it... one of the hurtling chairs ricochets right towards her, sending her sprawling against the wall from the sheer force of the thing's strength.

She doesn't scream. Once upon a time, not so long ago, she was taught that screaming only increases one's punishment.

So she doesn't scream.

She does slump though, momentarily stunned.

That's something she's always been allowed to do.

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

Sourisi pauses for a split second to look over Sakurada-sensei and feels her heart eases as there doesn't seem to be any obviously broken bones or blood. With how hard she was hit, the Miraculous User was sure there was going to be something broken, but there seems to be a little luck for them there.

But that luck seems to be turning against them as well. Fate and her barrier seems to be being pushed back, and the Lost Witch's vines are strong but not doing enough to keep it in place. The screams coming from it is almost maddening, an unholy barrage that threatens the mind as much as the ears, and it urges towards Nori despite the binds.

And then the hands and feet make their return, threatening Nori! Nori doesn't have a way to defend herself, and the others are starting to lose ground.

But all isn't lost as Steven relays what he knows about these bizarre beings. "Wait, they're Gems? That means...we can beat them down and try to secure them better!" Not only does that means that these are not undead creations (therefore much less scary), they can be beaten into submission! But first things first. The well-meaning sensei needs to get to safety. All the stories have been about the basement, no hands or feet barging into class rooms and attacking students, so upstairs is still likely safe.

Bracing her feet, Sourisi kicks off the basement floor and leaps over the bizarre collection of limbs towards the open door. "I'll be right back, hold them off as best as you can!" And without looking back, Sourisi starts sprinting as fast as she can down the nearly pitch black hallway and towards the stairs.

It's amazing how quickly a person can move through terrain that once terrifies them once you know the full extend of the horrors that lie in wait, and Sourisi runs up the stairs and back into the main part of Juuban. It's not too far to Sakurada's classroom from the basement, and the Miraculous User kicks open the door with her right leg. Lowering the teacher down in her chair at her desk, Sourisi only hopes that she assumes she saw a rather bizarre dream once she wakes before she rushes back to give aid to her friends.

The return trip is like a paradox, impossibly long and incredibly short all at the same time. Boots pound down the stairs and on cement floor, and tonfa are pulled free of their clasps. Twirling the weapons in her hands, they start to pick up speed and fill the dark hallways with a wail as the air whistles from the movements. But it's not the Gem-like hands making the sounds this time, and Sourisi enters the chair storage room at full speed, rushing the abomination from behind with her weapons. With just how fast they're going, it's going to hurt whatever it hits!

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

Yumi has it easy when it comes to her transformation item, to a point; she keeps it in her phone! That makes that part simpler, but the rest of this is far from. She is kind of alarmed that Nori is trying to get its attention, is definitely alarmed by Steven saying they're Gems and they don't know the details, and she is also alarmed by the way they react to her bindings--but then, of course they wouldn't like it. Yumi focuses more on it for a moment, and that's when she realizes there are others. "Thanks!" she says to Fate, and then suddenly--


Fate is knocked aside, stunned, and Yumi rushes, getting on the broom she was still carrying and flying across the room faster than she could run to get in front of Fate and between her and the creatures.

"Get BACK!" she shouts at the Gems(?) and lifts up her staff. She traces more runes, but these are of destruction, and each one shakes in the air as she does; when she slams her staff through the shape they make together, each bursts into a cascading beam of green-black energy.

This is about the time that she notices that Sourisi ran Sakurada out and came back. Wow.

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

Arrows aren't going to be enough, are they? The Wind Knight's lips tighten, and she exchanges bow for sword, her quiver vanishing in nearly the same flash of light that swaps ranged weapon for melee implement. She realizes almost immediately, though, that she isn't going to have enough room for most of her swings ... the sword may be more useful defensively than offensively, even if she does have *some* experience in this kind of confined space.

Never mind that for now. The Wind Knight finally raises her voice, her gaze flitting from one mismatched monster to another, taking stock of where they all are, and preparing a spell - one that most of the group, if not all of it, will recognize: "Winds of Admonishment!" She *did* notice how these monsters didn't like being held back with Fate's barrier; what about a spell that's designed and intended to restrain an enemy's movement?

She might not get all of them, though, considering how spread out they are ...

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

When you mix colors, do they blend well? Foods, make a cuisine together? Everything can combine into something greater than the sum of its parts. In some way or another. In the case of Gems, a beauteous form of Fusion represents this motion. However, something has gone afoul.

These Gems are wrong. And not in the 'you tried your best' wrong. Something has happened to the conglomerates of these poor souls. Steven doesn't know everything yet, Why did this happen? Was this some kind of horrible event? And experiment? A Gem power from someone on the mysterious Homeworld?

Chasing the small fry is annoying, but it eventually finds its way to over at Nori, grasping at her for reasons unknown. "Hang on! I'm coming!" Steven shouts. As flip-flips patter on the floor, Steven finds her being accosting from another side as well. Even as she tangles with the small one. "Hold up!" he says, sliding in, and losing his at in the process (It really doesn't cooperate with his hair).

He deploys a Bubble Shield aroudn the both of them for a moment to keep the larger one at bay. "Do you need help? He says from inside the bubble. From otuside the large corrupted Gem approaches, and the shield should hold long enough. "Yeah!" he calls out to Niramo, a slight inside-a-plastic-playground echo attached to it. "Beat them up enough and they will poof to a Gem!" From there he should be able to contain them.

From there he will ready to brace for impact from the big one coming. "Once you deal with that small one, let me know when, and ill pop the bubble."

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

It screams, it screams, it S C R E A M S like an instrument being tormented, and Nori can feel a sensation like when she has hit a really powerful note when playing the bassoon - she stares towards the being, the entity, as legs flail. Arms come towards her, throw things, and she is quick enough to move out of the way


As she feels that same hotcold shuddering terror-chill run up and down her spine she bites her lower lip hard enough to taste a prick of blood, wondering if she can stomp or if she can kick, wondering just how strong these grips are and whether or not this is going to go like the legend of the red paper or if it's something worse, something like when you get a whole roast chicken and decide you want a leg and -


The young lad comes in and speaks and Nori looks at him with eyes that are as wide as an owl's. In a sense what he says seems to be giving her permission, and she reaches down to suddenly grasp at the thing as if she were tearing apart a lobster. There is a moment of grim, weirdly silent wrestling followed by a snapping crack and a thrashing, smashing throw away.

Nori pants for breath and Batiste speaks up, his voice low and intense but coherent. "Give her a moment," he tells Steven - as he curls tighter round her neck, "but I think this is just surprise...! I knew the hat idea was awful, if we'd done the bag trick then - be that as it may, Steven, when you are ready!"

Batiste continues as Nori's eyes come back into focus and she breaks out into cold sweat. "They are Gems, like the others...? But they look like invertebrates made from..."

<Pose Tracker> Rei Hino [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Aivi & Surasshu - Nothing Like You https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5RZgpTDAzs

Steven's intuition is correct. Despite the legacy of Gems, the actions of this collective are less than the sum of their parts. How can that be? Gems are better, together. But this -- this is a sick mirror of unity, together, a union which reacts so much to the binding. Gems aren't like this, when they're together.

This isn't how it's supposed to be.

In their flailing they send Fate crashing away; do they mean to lash out at her with such power? Would they follow through with such a devastating attack? Questions left unanswered with the swiftness of Lost Ivy's broom -- as beams of dark destruction crash into them, send them staggering to the side.

The Winds of Admonishment pick up, around them. There is that unearthly SCREAM, again. The foot which is two feet are picked up and flung against their big sister; there's a sound like a bag of flour falling open to the ground, but it's hard to see, with the wind whipping about.

The larger creature isn't so easily toppled. Their arms SWING, in the wind, and that force which dazed Fate is coming down -- and now they are not only rushing for the nearest visible life but angry, will Nori fare as well as Sakurada-sensei did..? They're not just reaching for her, now. With great effort, she will manage to fling the hand which is two hands at her assailant's lack of a face; it does not seem to dissuade either of them, though shortly the hands are caught in the Wind Knight's whirlwind, just as the foot was.

Luckily, she never has to find out what happens, when a hand does not reach out but instead crushes down. Blooming in roseate pink is a bubble, that thing which is so many and so much on the outside, them inside.

There is a reverberating THUD, as the creature -- the Gem? -- throws themselves -- herselves? -- against Steven's bubble, once, twice, three times. That ROAR, that SCREAM, that...

This is the precise moment Sourisi's tonfa strike at her back.

She only has one shoulderblade, but that's only natural, isn't it? The second one is at the end of her arm, like a fist eternally clenched.

One shoulderblade, and two impacts, because at that speed blunt instruments hit just like bullets. Beleagured by the wind, scoured by elemental magic, again there is a POP -- an unbecoming of the light -- and something falls to the ground.

There, on the ground, in the patchy illumination...

It's a gem in a gem in a gem. No -- a Gem, in a Gem, in a Gem. Three of them, all crushed and fit together at discordant angles, a handful of different shards pushed into the core of a brand-new star, the heart of a brand-new monster. Gentle lavender and shy pink, jutting out of each other at sick angles; jolly yellow and cheerful green, one stabbing into the next. A handful of shades, all forced into a ball with too many spikes.

They intrude on each other, too close, too close, too close. There is something wrong here which sits entirely aside from its unearthly origins. What happens when you mix paint without care for colour theory? What happens when you mix ingredients with no attention paid to taste...?

When Sakurada-sensei wakes she will find herself with a terrible headache and some bizarre memories; she concludes at once that she has been working too long, today, and she had better take these tests home before she falls asleep again. That was a weird dream.

She, at least, can dismiss it as a dream.

But those Gems were too solid, too extant, too MUCH to be a ghost story.

... at least there won't be any new sightings in the basement, except those the students' minds supply for them in the dark.

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

Whirling tonfa strike solid flesh, shattering from the immense force being wielded against them. The full out assault while it was distracted on Steven's shield overwhelms the bizarre Gem creature, and it appears to reverts back to it's Gem form. Not seeing any more movement, Sourisi lets out a sigh and stands up straight. "Is everyone okay?" The feral Gem was pushing everyone to its' limits, but doesn't seem like anyone is too hurt-wait, Fate looks a bit dazed...

Looking around, Sourisi spots the Gem on the ground and feels like there's a sudden pressure on her heart. She hasn't really looked at the Gems of the Crystal Gems (it seems like it would be rude to stare at something like that), but this Gem on the ground isn't like theirs. It's a bizarre fusion of other Gems, seemingly smashed together without rhyme or reason. If each color is a Gem...

With dawning horror, Sourisi leans back slightly. "...it was groaning in pain the entire time." Steven would be the Gem expert here, but this...this doesn't seem natural.

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

The corrupted Gem comes for the shield. It rallies against it, but only impact ripples on the surface come, accompanied by a sound similar to a dodgeball hitting a gymnasium wall. He looks back to the others in the bubble, after hearing a scuffle, as the pair turn against the small fragment of what once was. "It hurts them, but they can die unless their Gem is hurt... but that thing has to be in a lot of pain..."

Once the signal is given, Steven pops the bubble, a violent report shoving the large one back, and together, they join the fray.

In the end, all were dismissed back to their true forms-- or what can stand as true form, this monstrosity they have been made to be. Gem clusters that have little rhyme or reason. It forces a frown on Steven's face. A rare sight.

Dispatched and on the ground, the boy hustles over to each, quickly scooping them up, and forming a bubble around them. They float in suspension within, and Steven breathes easy. "I didn't think I would see some so close to home here. How did they get here?" he questions.

A quick glance around. "...Is she okay?" he asks, about Sakurada. "How about everyone else?"

"I'll need to get these home and put them in the heart chamber."

Guess we all got to the bottoms of this. Thanks for coming guys," he says, and turns toward Nori/La Sirene. "Especially you, I didn't mean to drag you into this. Figured it was just some ruffians causing trouble."

A look toward SOurisi. "Yeah, Garnet thinks they have to at least be in soem discomfort, if not sheer pain. Or some kind of wrongness."

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

"No, no - no apologies," says Nori to Steven, having found a heavy seat on one of the desks and having gotten out her phone for the sake of light and company. (Batiste did too. He is very clever)

"Sourisi, all of you... thank you." Back to Steven, Nori says soberly, "I thought it would be an escaped crab or something. Or a ghost."

"Like du Grand Banks," Batiste says, which makes him and Nori nod at each other sveral times in bobbing synchronicity.

"Not this," Nori finishes. "Not... a REAL hand, like... THAT. Brrh!!"

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

Sourisi nods her head and sighs softly as Steven bubbles the multi-Gem. "Yeah...i'll leave it to you, Steven-san. You have the Gems, i'll have the butterflies. Oh, and Sensei will be fine! Just...her back is going to be sore, I imagine."

Nori is given a thumbs up, but she motions to Steven, Fuu and Fate. "I just kinda ran around for a while, everyone else did the most work here. I'm just kinda came in at the last second there."