2021-04-17 - MGLN SeekerS: Road Trip 1

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Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha SeekerS: Road Trip 1

Lera, Endo, and their friends follow their deadly puzzle's clues offworld... and into another lifetime.


Lera Camry, Setsuna Higashi, Endo Naoki, Fate Testarossa, Signum Yagami, Sourisi, Mikoto Minagi, Vita Yagami, Steven Universe, Hayate Yagami, Zafira Yagami, Shamal Yagami, Ashen Knight, Umbral Knight, Azure Knight, Argent Knight, Vermillion Knight, Ebon Knight, Palatinate Knight, Auric Knight, Radiant Knight


Yagami House (Yotsuba Clover Town)/Belka

OOC - IC Date:

4/17/2021 - 11/17/15

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Yotsuba Clover Town +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
  On one horizon, there is mountain and forest; on the other, city and sea.     
  Here there is Yotsuba, a town named for its clover-carpeted hills. It's hard  
  to say if it's any luckier than neighboring towns because of it, but it does  
  feel a little easier to smile around here. Yotsuba is a town for families,    
  with no real pretense of hipness, and enthusiasm spills from every store      
  awning, town council meeting, and local festival. Streets are broad and       
  brick-paved for walking, and the architecture and decorations are             
  birthday-cake pastel against the rich green shrubbery and hills.              
  Like so many Japanese towns, Yotsuba is built around its shopping district.   
  Clover Town Street runs straight down the middle of town, marked on either    
  side by large archways bearing its name. Greenery, lamp posts and benches     
  cut down the middle. Shops of all kinds line both sides: florist, tofu,       
  candy, supermarket, and accessory, to name a few. Most of the businesses      
  here are locally owned, and their proprietors live on their upper floors.     
  Yotsuba Park is the social center of the town. With broad pavilions and       
  famous donuts, it is popular enough to be lively and spacious enough to       
  avoid crowding. Its amphitheatre regularly hosts performances, as well as     
  the beauty, dance and idol competitions that have become popular among        
  locals lately.                                                                
<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.


The Maiden of Dreams, or at least an element of her spirit, delivered a mystical golden skein -- a complex chart, something between constellation map and abstract art -- to Earth and its protectors. Older(-looking) clones(?) of Fate Testarossa, known agents of the mad scientist-criminal Jail Scaglietti tried to intercept it, and were driven back; by every indication these agents are more wielded by their Devices (apparently copies(?) in turn of Soaring Sky, Souverain Heraut, and Fallen Stern) than the other way around.

Speaking of Sky, Heraut, and Stern, the dense pattern of the aureate web contained three lacunae, spaces formed naturally by the boundaries of other intricate, intersecting shapes -- holes very recognizably sized and shaped like the resting forms of the three Devices themselves.

Simply putting the Devices onto the blank spots in the diagram did nothing, and thus commenced a long season of research, study, and puzzling, much of which was performed by the Devices introspectively. Sky and Stern were both assaulted and downloaded into their dark copies, and have emerged from that trauma with missing places in their memories starting to fill themselves in. Heraut, successfully protected by Ren and her allies, is still a target, but conversely has not made any progress in this involuntary voyage of self-discovery.

And that brings us to this week, when Sky and Stern uneasily announced respective breakthroughs; each of them contains a word that is also a flower that is also a crystal that is also a coordinate. And the latter is enough, from the two of them, to fuel a dimensional transfer spell, if they put their coordinates into the golden diagram.

They have no idea where it might lead.

But they both know, to a deeply disquieting degree, that it must be important.


It is a dry and chilly evening in late autumn; the scant Tokyo stars above are invisible beneath a thick smudge of cloud.

Naturally the backyard of Yagami House is being used as the departure point for this adventure. The Device-wielders (and their invited friends) can set up this elaborate ritual without having to worry about any parents or siblings stumbling onto it and mucking things up. Such is the convenient life of the Wolkenritter, whose 'parent' is a magical girl herself.

There are other benefits as well.

"I made everyone scarves," Hayate announces from her chair, which has been rolled out onto the lawn since the concrete deck is basically one hundred percent occupied by the shimmering golden web, and nobody wants to step on it, at least until it's time. On a similar note, a table with a couple plates of high-quality snacks and drinks is off to one side, a little precarious on raw ground but not too unstable.

"To keep you warm," the hostess continues, very earnestly. "Since we don't know where you're going."

There is a certain transparent worry in her sapphire eyes, as she looks over the group. And, beneath that, something more complex; wistfulness? Even grief, perhaps. But her smile is sunny enough, and she hands out her crocheted products like the party favors they are. Every color imaginable is on offer, and they're all very soft and fluffy.

Zafira and Shamal side-eye their mistress without adding color commentary. They DO mention, however, that enchantments have been laid upon the scarves, such that if the group winds up teleporting to an inhospitable clime (such as, say, THE VACUUM OF SPACE which statistically occupies most of the possible destinations), anyone whose transformation is not sufficient on its own to enable their survival will have sufficient protection, at least for long enough to escape.

"It's not rated beyond the heart of a class C celestial engine," Zafira warns. "Stay out of blue stars."

"Klarwind and I will be staying behind to anchor the transport," Shamal adds reassuringly. "No matter where you go, we'll ensure you can find your way home safely."

Hayate unconsciously fingers the heavy golden pendant hanging from her neck, the singular remnant of the one being they were unable to save. "Please be careful," she says softly.

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

Lera Camry isn't quite sure what to make of the their new findings. Especially after the obvious solution produced no results, rather than any result. Nonetheless, there is at least some way forward -- through research -- and then the the word (that is also a flower, that is also a crystal, that is also a coordinate) came. From there, it is easy.

But also hard.

She sent a few messages out -- to Setsuna, of course, and Mikoto. She made sure someone was contacting the Wolkenritter too.

"Thanks, Hayate," Lera says, with a big grin. She pulls the scarf around her neck -- not tight, but form -- and then her hands slide down to the pockets of her pants, her thumbs hooked through them. She glances sideways at Zafira. She blinks once.

"We'll, um, keep it in mind, y'know?" she says, before she glances back at Shamal. There's a nod of thanks at her, then a long-held sigh comes out.

"...well, let's see what we can find, y'know?" she says.

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

Setsuna Higashi is and has been a part of this, though she has no Device of her own; she's pretty attached to the ones here though, and their wielders. Hayate's house is warm and familiar! ...While the destination to which they're going to travel may not be. Setsuna has some experience with dimensional travel, and is concerned by the whole 'no idea where it's leading' part. Not enough to stay away, though--she can't let her friends just go off without trying to help!

So she's been helping as best she can with the setup; she is not, however, proficient in Midchildan or Belkan magical practices, so her assistance so far trends towards the mundane if any. But here on the lawn...

Setsuna finishes off a snack and then turns towards Hayate as she announces. Worry... Yes. Worry, and other things. It makes sense to her, at least. "Thank you," she says, when it is meant to keep her warm and then again when it turns out that they're magic! Very important. But--ah.

"No blue stars," Setsuna answers seriously. She is, just now, standing next to Lera, and looks her way with a small smile when she sighs. Likewise she's now wearing the scarf.

"Mm! We can do it!"

<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.

Endo chooses a purple scarf, wrapping it around his neck carefully once he's taken the offering from their host. "I'll take good care of it." He assures, though it sounds like the scarf may take better care of him than he will of it. He's already got a few crumbs on it from earlier snacking.

His eyes are focused mainly on the glowing web that occupies the deck, the fruits of their Device's research. What lies ahead is unknown, and cause for worry. Still, he attempts to keep a brave face, smiling at his gathered allies as he shakes the debris from his newly acquired garment.

"Whatever's there, I'm sure we'll be able to handle it. Even if it's a lot of trouble."

COMBAT: Niramo Umokeshi transforms into Sourisi!
<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

It's been difficult waiting for Sky and Stern to finish their research on the gift from the Maiden of Dreams. While some part of Fate was grateful for the reprieve from needing to immediately tackle these issues... in general, she's a person who prefers to act, rather than sit around dwelling on all the unknowns.

And there are so many unknowns.

She shows up to the Yagami house early, taking some time to graze on the snacks. And when Hayate presents the scarves, her eyes light up with awe. "Thank you Hayate."

Fate's hand smoothes over the fabric of the scarf, and it's unclear if she's just in awe over the effort of the knitting or the enchanting.

"We're very grateful."

Before she then steps near her and places a hand momentarily on her shoulder. It's not... a gesture entirely of gratitude. In that moment of silence, Fate gives her this look of gentle resolve as if to try and tell her... she's worried too. But they'll get through it.

She doesn't say it aloud though, as if she doesn't want to embarrass her, or call more attention to the fact she's not going.

And then she gives Zafira a look that seems light surprised, before silently nodding, "Red, Yellow, and White only. I understand." As if that was a completely normal thing to be briefed upon. (Spoiler: She's never been in any star.)

...and back towards Lera and Endo.

"Answers... maybe."

She says neutrally, as she wraps the scarf around her neck snugly. Answers have rarely been a positive thing for her... but she's going to seek them out anyway.

<Pose Tracker> Signum Yagami [None] has posed.




Signum Yagami


right now, at this moment, eating a chocolate cornet.

Signum is in her full barrier jacket regalia, glamorous and perfect. It has been some time. She has in attendance Laevatein, the Armed Device currently in its sword mode and resting in proper association in a sheath at Signum's hip. Laevatein may have been given a choco cornet in previous moments.

Signum bears one of the scarves wrought by Hayate Yagami. She has already made it a treasure of her memory, laying in honor with several others in her interior hall of glory. For now it is round her neck, a crochet with a feathery-fiery suggestion in warm colors. It is an autumn touch on the sakura-petal radiance of her Jacket's core colors.

"Of course," Signum answers Shamal with her eyes half-closed in momentary emphasis. They open, meet Shamal's...

But then she steps forwards. "Camry; Higashi. It is good to see you. I trust that you have been well. Please, feel free to avail yourselves of this banquet." She is referring to the snacks. She is being literal about her assessment of the spread.

"Naoki," Signum continues. ("<STERN>," Laevatein pulses in acknowledgement.)

"The primary purpose of this mission is reconnaisance," Signum states. "I would encourage everyone to remain in close contact with one another, even if we should encounter a very hostile environment." She finishes off the choco cornet, which silences her for the moment, because she would not want to talk with her mouth full.

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

A clawed boot tapped anxiously on the ground as Sourisi eyes the glimmering ritual circle, a clear sign of the nervous energy she was dealing with currently. A trip into the complete unknown is usually exciting, but this was heavily tempered by how serious things were. She's more than happy to help out, but the power wielded by the Dark Device Wielders in the past is making Sourisi a little worried about how things could go. Not that she would actually say anything about that out loud.

"Oh, thank you, Hayate-san!" Brought out of her thoughts and giving Hayate a quick smile, Sourisi takes a tanned colored scarf and lifts it up, admiring how soft it looked. But it quickly becomes clear that the scarves were more than just a way to help warm in the late autumn wind, especially with the comments comming from Zafira and Shamal.

"I rather avoid any stars, if I can help it!" The thought of somehow ending up inside any star is not something she wanted to worry about. If nothing else, she hopes the Miraculous could handle that kind of abuse.

After a few moments, Sourisi glances over at Endo, the smile she had moments ago fading into a small frown. "We'll be fine as long as we work together. Always worked out that way for us in the past!"

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

Mikoto Minagi doesn't have any parents to muck things up, and if her sibling cared to she'd have bigger problems - but regardless of those freedoms, it's hard to hold magical concordances in a dorm room. There are disciplinary students whose entire job is to make sure people aren't sneaking around at night. Mikoto even likes some of them! But sorry, Yukino, she's planning on sneaking back in late tonight. Again.

She got a message from Lera, after all, and this is a world where she can agree to help without a moment's reservation. She cares about Lera, and she has empathy for Lera's devices; and not just Lera's. Bardiche once told her a treasure she could not see with clouded eyes. Fallen Stern, in dark reflection, revealed things she could not fail to see. (Both these, you see, through the people who held them; Mikoto is happy to see that partnership, too.)

Besides... Mikoto, who knows a thing or two about being wielded, has has own reasons to seek justice for Fate's sisters, beyond her worry for Vita and Fate, or her admiration of Endo, or her warrior likeness to Signum, or the bonds of reliability she shares with Lera.

They should get to choose, too.

She has no magical costume but instead wears a light grey coat over a cream skirt, yellow leggings against the cold. A pink shirt, somewhere under all that, but it's hard to see when the coat's all buckled up. Really, she looks like any other teenager off for a night on the town, aside from the fact that she is holding a rather offputting greatsword in a hand at this very moment.

Miroku is not in its case because they are going to space, and even if Mikoto has forgiven space for being the worst, Mikoto's track record with fighting things in space is EXTREMELY consistent. There are a lot of things which want to hurt her in space. That's just how space works. Even if space isn't all bad, that doesn't mean Mikoto can't just not bring a sword to space.

Judging by the smudge of chocolate on her lips, she absolutely devastated the croissants BEFORE she brought her sword out, though. But not now. One reason for that, of course, is because she cannot possibly suffer to get crumbs on the fine red silk thread adorning Miroku's hilt. The other --

Mikoto is holding her sword with one hand. That's because her other hand is holding a scarf, all deep burnished gold with dark grey stripes. And she's just kind of been... looking down at it... with very big eyes, and a very big smile.

"... yup!" She says, eventually, and her agreement with Hayate's hopes for their care is out of sync by the time she remembers to use her words, but it's the thought that counts. With one hand she aptly tucks the scarf around her neck, tucking one of the tails into the poofy hood at the back of her coat so that one single end dangles down her neck like a cravat.

She looks around, and a thoughtful noise bubbles up out of her throat, as she puts two and two together. Her head cants to the side, braids tumbling across her face.

"... stars... are engines?"

That is the thing Mikoto is focusing on in this moment.

<Pose Tracker> Vita Yagami [None] has posed.

Vita Yagami, the cutest digital lifeform, has just consumed an entire muffin.

She attempts to say three different things before finally stopping, swallowing hard, pounding her chest for a few seconds, and then saying, "Thank you Hayate!!" for the scarfs just before reaching for a cup of water that was probably just now not-subtly put directly in front of her by, statistically, probably Shamal.

Seconds pass.

GULP. She sets it down, then holds out her hand, Eisen appearing in a flash. "Yeah, we're goin' into who knows what! So if you can't fly or nothin' you should probably hang close to someone who can!" she advises, puffing up. The scarf she has chosen is, of course, fire-engine red, and finds a wind to billow in as she sets Eisen wide in a hero pose.

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

"No! Steven is too young to go on some sort of extra-dimensional adventure! He barely understands how warp bads work! What if he sticks his head outside of a safety shield again?!"

"I only got a runny nose!"

"Your nose froze, Steven!"

"Steven is old enough to make his decisions, Pearl. Besides, he is going with his friends. How many deadly fights has he gotten in with them and we weren't around? He has come back from each one. If anything, we owe them help."

"Bring me back a souvenir! Like a cool space rock or something!"


Steven has arrived via communication with some of the cooler members of Magical Girl society. In mentioning a trip might be involved, has prepared accordingly. Pearl wouldn't let him leave otherwise.

Cut to the Lion's mane having like five coolers of food and multiple Boy Scout backpacks worth of gear, because of course she would do that.

Having arrived via teleporting buddy, joins the rest of everyone at the Yagami household. Wearing his usual getup and his hamburger backpack, he has a furrowed, serious look to his face, as he salutes the group. "Steven Universe, reporting for duty!" A smile cannot help but crack and fight against his ready for action demeanor.

"Hope everyone is prepared! This is gonna be neat." He looks to the folks like Vita and Fate who know more about this. "Don't know a lot about magic, but hope I can help you out somehow."

"Oh also if Pearl comes here asking how I am and someone's here, just tell her I am fine."

She might do that.

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

The Dimensional Transfer ritual is simple enough. Once everyone's transformed -- a reasonable precaution -- they arrange themselves in a circle around the edge of the golden web (with guidance from those who've done this a lot, like Fate and the Wolkenritter). It isn't necessary to clasp hands, though some might want to anyway.

Then things are quiet for a moment, until Soaring Sky and Fallen Stern assert themselves.

<< The crystal is Danburite. >>

<< The crystal is Aragonite. >>

<< The flower is camellia. >>

<< The flower is iris. >>

<< The word is... >>

<< ... >>

They flash intermittantly, like overloaded processors (not far from the truth, but also completely inadequate). After a long enough time for everyone to get a little nervous, Stern gets there first.

<< ...lost, >> he declares.

<< ...choice, >> Sky says right on his heels.

Sigils unfurl in the empty spaces on the diagram that represent each of them. There's no time to study them, though, because they're bright, bright, BRIGHT--

--the whole skein is shining like the noontime sun, dangerous to look at directly--

--and then the world is lost to golden light.


Another world is found.

It seems the strain of the transfer collapsed the group; they awaken on their own, stirring from uncomfortable positions on the grass. But there is grass, and air. Ground, and sky. It seems the failsafes won't be needed. This could be somewhere else on Earth...

...if it wasn't for the spectacularly different heavens.

Three moons, in various states of fullness, are rising above the horizon. The sky itself is not natively blue, it seems, but a vivid emerald that is nowhere on the spectrum of the skies of home.

The horizon itself is easy to find, but beyond it, where it should be, there is more of it. Landscape dappled in a hundred shades of green and blue green. The world seems to climb halfway up that green, green sky, three-quarters of the way up it, IMPOSSIBLY high. But it isn't.

It's just what the curvature of the world looks like, when that body is so much larger than Earth. Things that seemed far away would turn out to be farther still. And that was the problem. It shouldn't be possible to be under a sky and still see things that were so far away, against a horizon that left you feeling you were at the bottom of a huge, shallow bowl, with all that sky pooling on top of you, pouring onto you like water, pressing you down...

Big. It's too big.

And there's one final and less pleasant clue that the group isn't in Tokyo anymore:

The matter of the spire across the plain. It might as well be an orbital elevator, though it seems like natural rock, or perhaps crystal; it at least is truly lost to sight where the human eye can no longer render that far away.

And spiraling down it, in ominous, swirling loops, is a shiveringly terrible mist... not otherworldly but exworldly, instinctively, obviously something that doesn't belong on this world or any world; something from Out Of Bounds. Something invading. Something encroaching.

Something hungry.

"HURRY!" shouts a woman as she flies overhead, past the group and towards the trouble. She is wearing heavy-looking armor that is both ancient by Earth standards and somehow sleekly hypermodern, greater than any Earth technology. Also, she is wearing a crown, though it is a practical thing woven into the braids atop her head. "We must reinforce the line if it is to be held back! Our world WILL NOT END TODAY!"

She does not stop, clearly expecting to be followed. She does not look back.

And she will go to face that terror alone, if she's forced to...

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

Lera glances back at Setsuna, smiling back at her in turn. Then she glances at Endo -- and cracks a grin in his direction. "Mm-hm," she agrees. "It's almost certain to be a lot of trouble. Just depends what kind we find!"

When she looks at Fate, it's more serious. She nods her head, her eyes looking downward. "...I hope so, y'know?" she says more quietly. She looks sideways at Signum -- smiles at her -- and bobs her head in agreement. "Thanks, Signum. We'll try to not go too hard at your snacks."

She waves at Steven and Sourisi. Then, Lera glances sideways at Vita -- and she makes a face for a second at how she gulps down the water. Then she shakes her head.

Lera's looking down at Sky -- a one-handed longsword, in his weapon form -- as he speaks with Stern. Lera hesitates, nervously. She grimaces when there is the brilliant flash of symbol after symbol; she tries to remember them, tries to pay attention, and it doesn't work. It's too bright.

When the light fades, they're standing on a world with an emerald sky and three moons. She draws in a sharp gasp, as she looks up, and sees that the spire across the plain reaches up much, much too far. Lera draws in a breath and holds it -- and then she spots the woman fly by. Soar by, really.

Lera's eyes blink, as she hears what she said. She turns her head, peering sideways at Setsuna for a second. Then, she looks ahead. "We have to go after her!" she says, before she takes up to the skies. Hayate's scarf flutters -- and then Lera starts to fly, though it's not that high up.

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

It's pretty different from the dimensional travel Setsuna is used to, but she expects that much. She... does not however make any kind of assurance about not going hard at Signum's snacks. That's a lost battle. Much like Vita, she will simply eat the muffins, and that will be that.

But soon there is Transit...

The light and sounds radiate to Cure Passion's eyes, and then--

She stirs on the ground, looking up. Three moons--a green sky. Setsuna finds this particular feeling unmistakable; she is not on Earth anymore, somewhere else. It is... big, in ways that certain other worlds aren't; there is so Much of it where she's used to something a little different. But the mist...

She looks to Lera at the same time, and nods sharply. "Right!" she answers, and takes off at a run for where the mist is coming down. She can move very quickly when she wants to, and she definitely wants to now, her pink hair streaming out behind her as she sprints.

COMBAT: Setsuna Higashi transforms into Cure Passion!
COMBAT: Lera Camry transforms into Barrier Jacket Dynamic!
<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

Fate nods gently to Lera, before giving Lera a longer look. For a moment, her expression looks serious... but her telling Signum she won't go too hard at the snacks brings this, smile to her face.

Some things can just be simple.

Fate straightens up as Signum speaks of the purpose of the mission, as if it were simply her way of responding to someone being authoritative, and few are as authoritative than Signum... perhaps she's even more authoritative eating a chocolate cornet. "Hai!" ... Fate loves chocolate cornets, after all.

Before Fate then nods at Vita's addendum, "Bardiche and I will offer our support in that." <Yes Sir.>

Before Fate's eyes flutter at Steven's comment, before she says gently to him, "One doesn't need to be a mage, or knight... to help."

Sometimes being a friend is enough.

Standing in the circle, Bardiche shines gently. <Get Set. Drive Impulse - Ignition.> And the child is armored in her barrier jacket, a polearm in her hands. Hayate's scarf - yellow and black checkered is still draped around her neck.

Listening to Stern and Sky gives her this strange sense of poignancy... along with the anxiety. The last time she did this, went to another world...

... it was to lay a Device to rest.

Sigils unfurl, and Fate feels her stomach lurch with the dimensional transfer. And when her vision clears. Fate inhales sharply... perhaps with awe. She hasn't done this so often that she can't be captivated by sights she hasn't seen before.

"It's so..."

It's hard to say what she might describe it as, because her vision focuses on the spire, her gaze sharpening as if comprehending at least... that it doesn't belong here.

Before her eyes are drawn up by the woman, just a glimpse, at the urgency of her cry. Lera declares that they have to go after her, and Fate responds...

"Yes. There isn't much time." Before they lose track of her? Before something terrible happens? Fate doesn't know, only that her instinct tells her there isn't much time.

Bardiche's polearm dematerializes in her hand, and all of a sudden she lifts off, zipping by Steven and grasping one hand on the flyby, using the momentum of that one arm to swing up sideways for her other hand to grasp ahold of the other. Putting him in the position of hanging down from both of her arms.

"Sorry for the abruptness, but we need to go fast."

And then she takes off like a bolt in the blue. Cape and scarf fluttering, the air rushing through her hair and Steven's as they take off after the others.

"Just think of it like hanging on the monkey bars." She explains, looking straight ahead. "Except, I won't let you fall."

COMBAT: Fate Testarossa transforms into Barrier Jacket Impulse!
<Pose Tracker> Signum Yagami [None] has posed.

An alien sky. Green, not blue, Signum thinks as she gazes up at the trefold moons of this planet. The gravity does not feel meaningfully different at a gentle flex of her legs.

She gazes towards the horizon. Her lips purse into an actual frown, rather than her somewhat stoic resting facial expression. Her brow knits. They can see that great spire -- and there is something coming. A mist, and -

A native.

'HURRY!' she shouts, in her armor of proof.

Signum glances towards the others and nods once, briskly, and reaches up to adjust her scarf for firm seating. Towards Steven, she states, "Do not risk the scarf that Hayate gave you. It will protect you in extremis, should it come to pass." After this, she grasps the hilt of Laevatein with one hand, though it is not an iai grip.

"To 'Reinforce' - indeed," Signum observes, primarily to Vita, before advancing towards the smaller form of the Miraculous Sourisi. "Please excuse me, but there is little time to acclimate," she tells her, before one arm sweeps forwards, gathering up Sourisi to Signum's side. A moment later Laevatein comes out in a magenta flash, and the surly bonds of gravity shrug aside--

-- The emerald sky rises --

Flight! Signum shifts her grip on Laevatein, and after a moment of consideration, invokes: "BOGENFORM." The blade shifts, slides, and flashes round. Signum turns her head to inform Sourisi, "My apologies. The sword makes its own demands. If you become nauseous, just focus on the horizon and it should pass."

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

The word, the word, a single word can bring the world down, a single phrase can sunder reality. In the silence of their tension Mikoto waits, and to hear the word from Fallen Stern there is something in her eyes, and it is like worry and it is like concern and it is not quite either.

(Choice, says Sky, and that is more relieving.)

Sigils alight on the skein. Mikoto does not try to see the shape of them or understand their form; in fact after that first flash she does not look at them at all, eyes scrunched up, pulling towards Setsuna though she does not hold her hand. It's too bright!

Tumble-rumble-thud Mikoto falls upon the grass, throwing her arm out to the side instinctively to avoid landing on her sword. She shakes her head and snorts at the grass-smell as a few blades, shaved by the motion of her arm and what ends it, scatter onto her face. They fall to the ground as she pushes herself up, and looks up, and up, and up.

And up.

"Green..." Did Zafira say anything about green? Mikoto casts her mind back as she tries to remember. Nothing about green, right? Just blue? Blue was bad. Green is fine. Three moons is... fine. That's what she tells herself, once and once again, even as the mora of the word falls from her lips to be engulfed by the yawning fishbowl vista.

She only takes a moment to gawk at it, though; just a moment to reveal herself an Earthling, someone unused to the alien vistas of otherworlds. Only a moment, to look at that spire reaching up and up and up, higher than her efforts ever reached, so high even her supernatural gold eyes cannot see their peak.

And then she's pushing herself up, sword in her hands, because it doesn't belong on this world but there is one place something that hungry belongs in her mind, a comfortable classification which in this moment she sees no reason to challenge.

The intruder spiralling down to a place not quite earth down that could not have been built to receive it...

... must be an enemy of this world, mustn't it?

It's an assumption given weight by the woman who rallies them, but more still by Lera, who speaks in her wake. Mikoto grunts agreement, but looking up, it's both clear that Fate's assessment is correct, and --

Well, thinking back to the warnings didn't just bring Zafira's words to Mikoto's mind, after all. It remains a tragic truth that Mikoto cannot, for all her acrobatic antics, fly under her own power.

And so: "Vita!" Mikoto cries out, turning to her and reaching out a hand. "Let's go!"

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi transforms into HiME Mikoto!
<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.

Endo closes his eyes before the flash, squeezing them shut tight. When they open again there's an entire new world in front of him, green grass, soaring walls of land, and multiple moons above. There's the spire as well, an ominous presence extending far into the sky. Endo takes it all in as he pushes himself to his feet again, a hand reaching to make sure his scarf is still attached around his neck while he rights himself.

"Is everyone okay?" A short glance confirms that at least all of his allies have made it, all present and account for in what used to be the circle.

And there's one more, someone new. Endo's head snaps up as the stranger soars overhead, his eyes following the path that she cuts as she races past them. There's not much time to get a look at her, but it's clear by her call that this important-and dangerous.

"Aaah...why's it always like this." Endo puffs, making quick adjust to his scarf before he starts off in a sprint.

A few heavy steps and he launces from the ground, taking to the air. The sensation of flight is still new to him, but it's certainly coming in handy now. Both scarf and cape billow out behind him as he moves into formation with his allies, speeding toward the tower.

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

Sourisi waves gently towards Steven for a moment as he makes his way towards the others. "Glad you could make it!" Sourisi seems to have gone back to tapping her foot again...

Lera gets a friendly wave as well, and the Miraculous User takes a moment to take a quick breath in. 'No need to let my nerves get in the way. I'll be fine once we're on the other side. This magic scarf will make sure of that!'

Sourisi takes her spot in the circle with the others, the glowing web making the outsides seem a little darker now. Two Devices call out their odd words, coordinates yet not coordinates. Sky and Stern then pause in place and Sourisi tilts her head as the final word is brought out after several long moments. It apparently was the right thing to say, as the web becomes ever brighter and becomes too bright to keep her eyes open. Sourisi raises a hand up to try to keep the light away and then--

--a groan could be heard as Sourisi pushes herself off the ground, shaking her head and focusing on her surroundings. A sense of awe fills Sourisi as she takes in the emerald sky and three(!) moons filling the sky, even as her head aches at trying to make sense of the bowl-shaped horizon. "Holy...I gotta tell Slithery about this later."

An infinite tower breaks the otherwise clear sky, surrounded by spiraling fog that was coming down. It's clearly unnatural, and the fact that it was going towards the planet just made it feel more wrong. Add in a mysterious woman wearing a suit that looks straight out of sci-fi novels flying right for it...well, Sourisi doesn't need to be told twice! "Right behind you!"

Sourisi starts to take a step forward to run after Cure Passion and the mystery woman, but freezes as Signum calls out to her. "Huh? What are you...?" But Signum doesn't take the time to explain, and Sourisi is pulled in close. Laevatein is called forth and...oh, this isn't jumping.

Shaking her head a little, Sourisi calls to Signum to be heard over the wind. "I'll be fine, she comes first. Besides, I like flying!" Signum has a good grip, and Sourisi landed fine from bigger heights than this. And the scarf was just as good as holding back cold without magic!

<Pose Tracker> Vita Yagami [None] has posed.

The slow recitation of the coordinates makes even Vita need to calm herself. Breathe. The moment before it all begins, the tenses few seconds of the fight. Breathe.

The transit knocks her silly, which is new. She comes to, shaking her head out and groaning, then takes a look around at the space. "Air, gravity, actual ground...OK. Baselines clear." Graf Eisen chimes an agreement as she forces herself to her feet, taking a look up, and then up, and then up further. "What in the world..."

And then, they get press-ganged. "Oh, that's new," Vita says, lifting off the ground. "And..." Her eyes narrow at the....thing? that is emerging from the spire. Not solid nor gas, it's...She chews her lip, uncomfortably. How do you hit that with a hammer? Guess they find out.

Mikoto calls to her, and it gets Vita into gear. "Right!" she calls. "Clench up!"

The crimson light of her flight magic flares around her as she takes off, hooking her arms under Mikoto's and picking her up like a bird making off with a trout. She drifts into formation with Signum, because Cloud Knights fly together.

DICE: Pink Moon Stick rolls 1d7+0 and gets 1!
DICE: Pink Moon Stick rolls 1d7+0 and gets 3!
DICE: Pink Moon Stick rolls 1d7+0 and gets 4!
COMBAT: Endo Naoki transforms into Barrier Jacket Zerstörer!
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

"You know I wouldn't miss cool magic stuff!" Steven says toward Sourisi. He's gotta be there if he is gonna prove himself a Crystal Gem!

Transformation is a simple task. Steven only has to think about his friends and family, and bam! Rose Quartz's famous shield is brought to bear. Sometimes he wonders if he should invest in a cape or something to look cool like everyone else. But a cape could also get him in trouble. A thought for another time. "Okay, do the magic thingy!" he says once he has sturdied himself. Lion is also standing by, ready to offer a paw if needed. Mikoto knows how helpful cats can be in stressful times.

"You ready too?" he asks Lera after seeing her wave. Was anyone really ready for this?

Sky and Stern begin some sort of incantation. It seemed important, whatever it was! Something about a location?

He really needs to take the witches up on teaching some magic to understand this better. There is little time to contemplate, as a bright light suffuses the room, and pretty much everything Steven only begins to let out a yell about how bright it is, when next he finds himself getting up off the ground. "Wow, that was a lot faster I guess than Warp? Or maybe slower. I dunno. Hey we can breathe!" Steven first notices. Having faced perils of exiting Warp wrong, filling lungs with not-air or poison is something sensed first.

Meanwhile, Lion is already up before everyone. Somehow. He licks at a paw, having gotten something stuck in it post-teleport.

It takes a minute or so of looking around to attempt grasping the landscape. "Oh weird! THe land kinda goes up like a wave far off! Neeeeaaaat. Also someone miscounted the moons." WHOOSH. Something zips overhead at high speed. Someone armored and with a crown. "Oh, they are going toward that creepy area by themselves! We should help them! Maybe they can tell us stuff about here too!"

Everyone mobilizes quickly with the same thoughts. Steven barely gets to see Fate fly closeby with a small hand outstretched. His hand reaches in turn, and moments later finds him being carried super fast! "Whee! Oh this is so cool! Flying seems fun." The boy leans over his should and shots. "Hey Lion! Come oooon!" he calls down to the cat.

Only after a few seconds, and in the distance, does Lion finally start to follow. Not that he can't cach up. The boy rremains hanging on tightly as he hangs. "That person seemed important! Wonder who they are."

COMBAT: Steven Universe transforms into Serious Steven!
DICE: Pink Moon Stick rolls 1d7+0 and gets 1!
COMBAT: Vita Yagami transforms into Crimson Iron Rider!
<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Violette's Theme - One Step From Eden - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBuqO1PKgq4

The group jumps, sprints, flies and is carried -- one way or another they follow the apparent royal towards her doom.

It is a disorienting flight in the same way that the world already introduced itself: no matter how much closer and closer they get to the ridiculously tall spire, it DOESN'T get taller and taller, because it's already maxed out. It barely gets larger around, creating a sense of high velocity and zero forward progression.

But this isn't a moebius strip; very suddenly the group finds themselves at its base. Exactly at the same time that the main other evidence of the passage of time does too... for that steady, patient, terrible spiraling downwards has continued apace with the group racing towards it.

Everyone arrives at once.

"HIYAH!" shouts the woman; she has drawn her greatsword, which she wields, with impossible strength, in a single hand. In the other hand she carries a shield of similarly epic proportions. There is nobility not only in her gear but in her stance, a sort of purity of purpose, as she throws herself at...


...they defy description. If they have eyes, they weren't evolved in this universe to see, and look nothing like what eyes would be. If they have grasping claws, or tentacles, or spikes, it is only because of a certain higher order universality of violence. But any resemblance to recognition ends there. They are hard where they should be soft, and vice versa. They are dark where they should be bright, and dark where they should be dark also, but with strange, shifting colors that, like the rest of them, have not yet existed in this dimension until now, and therefore have never been named.

The woman charges, and battle is joined...

It is a lot less like fighting evil by moonlight and a lot more like war, but fortunately the group finds themselves equipped with armor of their own. Weapons, heavy and light, brutal and clever, which they've fought with for a long and difficult campaign against these invaders alongside their Crown Princess. The Knights of Belka have lost many -- far too many -- of their comrades; family members and dearest friends; all in defense of their world, THE world, the only home they've ever known.

It is a seamless experience; Sourisi is still Sourisi, and yet also the Ashen Knight, and her command over ice, through the triangular Belkan arts of magical combat, is both instinctive and the result of years of training. She is her usual cheerful self; the Ashen Knight has, her personality or something very like it, and perhaps that is why this is happening so easily, so naturally.

And so it is for the rest.

Certainly it is not untrue that they are brothers and sisters in arms, this group that flies towards the army of darkness that is, it is said, making its final push to defeat the handful of remaining defenders of Belka, the knights and their Princess who have come today to make their last stand. They've fought armies of darkness before. It is comfortable and familiar, being the Knights of Belka, like wearing an old favorite coat rediscovererd in the back of a closet rarely cleaned.

Even Vita and Signum find themselves in new personas; their memories of the past do not include this spire, these monsters, or the color of this sky. Only two people change differently; Lera and Endo are Knights now also, but the Radiant Knight still wields Soaring Sky, and the Umbral Knight still wields Fallen Stern.

To battle...


Sourisi - +youma/summon 5, +transform Y
Mikoto - +youma/summon 7, +transform Y
Signum - +youma/summon 6, +transform Y
Fate - +youma/summon 10, +transform Y
Passion - +youma/summon 9, +transform Y
Steven - +youma/summon 8, +transform Y
Vita - +youma/summon 11, +transform Y

COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick transforms into Extra-Terror-Strial Threat!
COMBAT: Signum Yagami transforms into Youma Form Azure Knight!
COMBAT: Cure Passion transforms into Youma Form Argent Knight!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi transforms into Youma Form Vermillion Knight!
COMBAT: Fate Testarossa transforms into Youma Form Ebon Knight!
COMBAT: Steven Universe transforms into Youma Form Palatinate Knight!
COMBAT: Vita Yagami transforms into Youma Form Auric Knight!
COMBAT: Sourisi transforms into Youma Form Ashen Knight!
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Lera looks down at Cure Passion -- watching her move, running and keeping pace with her as she flies. She glances sideways at Signum, then back ahead. There isn't much time, Fate said. She nods at that.

"Do you recognize this, buddy?" she asks.

Sky's answer is hesitant. <I... don't believe so. But...>

He isn't, sure the Midchildan realizes. She glances about -- making sure everyone is keeping up, that Endo's new flight magic is holding up -- and once satisifed, she looks back ahead.

She starts to appreciate the scale of the place. THen, they arrive all at once -- with the crowned woman. She blinks at her, as she slows in midair. She sees the monsters: strange, terrifying things which have claws and tentacles, and send a shiver through her spine.

And there are new memories and perceptions there. Knights -- and not Cloud Knights, but Knights of Belka. The people, a part of Lera thought, that her father claimed as his ancestors. Her ancestors, even if she never knew them. But...

Those were the Belkan minority living on Midchilda. This is something else; this is her home and these are her fellow Knights. ANd she is the Radiant Knight.

Lera turns her head, looking towards the dark creatures. She hefts up Soaring Sky. The blade splits down the middle of the broadsword -- energy crackles between the two halves, growing brighter and brighter between them. "We have to drive them back!" she yells to her fellow Knights.

One control ring -- then another -- and then a third appear. Each filled with runes, each spinning. The light between the sword's split halves groes brighter and brighter.

<Aurora Burst...>

And then a beam explodes outward, through the rings -- and it turns over an arc of the approaching enemies, white radiance burning at them -- as Lera cries out: "RAAAAAAAY!"

COMBAT: Lera Camry has used Aurora Burst Ray on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

"It is." Fate answers Steven, though she seems far too serious to be caught up in the fun of it at the moment. "Fun."

Whereas when he asks... "I couldn't speculate." Yet by the same instinct... she agrees with him.

Fate finds herself trying to listen in to Lera and Sky, she's been with them for a long time but... something about this...

The scope of what they're facing is daunting... as they follow her, her eyes snap onto the sight of the horror, as they speed at them, her mind barely able to comprehend them. The kinds of things that haunt her in her nightmares.

And then...

The Ebon Knight flies overhead. Cape fluttering beneath wing-like protrusions on her back. Her helm fully covering her head. The transition is nigh instantaneous, and for her... strangely familiar. She is used to memories that are not her own, and are being inside of her head.

"Palatinate. The ground battle needs your immediate reinforcement."

She says to the one she is carrying, before swooping down releasing him from one arm, and bringing him far too close to the ground, swinging him into the fray at a high but ultimately controlled speed for him to dynamically impact...

Before she hovers in mid-air, her device polearm that's now appearing as a Scythe snapping into her hand. The eyes within her helm shining eerily yellow... as Belkan runic triangles appear in three layers, each spinning counter to the next, at varying speeds.

<Nocturne Bell.>

The triangles expand outwards over the battlefield, as ephemeral Belkan Church Bells appear out of them. And then each tilts in an opposing way with a deafening CHIME. Unleashing visible waves of sonic hell into the ranks of the otherworldly enemies.

"We will." She answers the Radiant Knight, before taking a grip on her Scythe with both hands.

COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has used Nocturne Bell on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Despite her assuring Signum that she'll be fine, the horizon is still disorienting to Sourisi. Where the landscape should be flattening off to an even line, the earth here was curving upwards. As if this was a hollow world that was cut perfectly in half to let the stars see inside a massive geode. It made Sourisi feel as if she had shrunken down to the size of an ant, and the tower not getting any close is getting on her-...wait, they were at the base now.

The unholy masses gathered at the tower were disorganizing to the senses if you were to try to focus too much at one specific creature. With the numbers gathered here, a mistake like that would be fatal, to get distracted with trying to make sense of that which is senseless. Thankfully, she knew better...or, at least, a part of her did.

Sourisi smiles softly, her mouth the only part of her face that can be seen under her shining white helmet. A sleek metal 'beak' covers the rest of her face, and she shakes her head softly. Her gauntlets, breastplate and greaves are a polished silver metal, broken only by black tights. A stylized snowflake inlad with a black symbol of Belkan resting on her right shoulder showed her to be one of the last knights of Belkan. In her left hand was a rapier, silver frost crystals weaving around the hilt to guard her hand.

Flying on her own, Sourisi points the rapier towards the mass and lets out a gental laugh, bittersweet and hope mingling with one another. "They won't proceed any further, you have my word on that!"

Raising her right arm and running two fingers down the length of her thin blade, the Ashen Knight didn't need to see as several rings form behind her and her blade casting a pale light outwards. "Let's give them a cold reception!"

<Freezing Gale.>

Flicking her hands off the point with a flourish, countless shards of pale white shards of ice were launched from the control rings, with the Ashen Knight dropping down among the frozen rain.

COMBAT: Sourisi has used Freezing Gale on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.

Endo moves with the rest of the group, pouring on as much speed as he can. It seems to take forever, the space neither shortening or the spire shrinking no matter how fast they move. And then they arrive, the distance shrinking in what seems like an instant.

The things that meet them defy description.

But the circumstance does not.

BGM: Still in the Dark (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPA3Y-acjb0)

War is what the Umbral Knight was made for, and so too his weapon. This is his most natural element, and no matter the enemy, his duty wouldn't change. The knights of Belka were here to do battle, to defend their world from this alien invader, and they would fight and die together to do it.

"Stern!" The word roars from Endo's throat, the knight not slowing even a second as he propels himself toward violent collision.

<READY.> Fallen Stern warbles in reply, the gem at its crossguard pulsing once in affirmation.

The blade is raised, thrust outward like a jousting lance as the Umbral Knight takes aim at one of the dark creatures. One last burst of speed propels him forward, sending him on collision-course with the first in the wave coming forward.

"End them!"


COMBAT: Endo Naoki has used Asteroid Eilen on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Run, run. It's disorienting, looking around here at the spire that never seems to change, but running has never been disorienting. Passion continues moving along at a sprint, arms pumping as she races forward, hair still flowing behind her, her form almost a red blur that keeps up with flight. There is something they have to help with, people who need them, under a strange sky. Another new world...

What could await here? For now it is awful things, strange things, things Passion cannot begin to identify. But there is... something else, too. It is war, and she knows her princess and her comrades well. All in silvery armor, sturdy yet delicate, with many flourishes and more edges. She stands holding her Device and her weapon, a great single-headed axe all in light and brilliance, with a design that sings through the air where it chops. She holds it in both of her hands at the moment, a Knight of Belka with the others.

Her long white hair flutters in the wind as she flies upward, presenting Device forward. "It's time," the Argent Knight declares. "We move!"

<Cipher Crusade.>

Belkan triangles burst into being and rotate, patterns interlocking until they're completely solid, and strange runes immediately burst forward like blades, whirling ahead and forming spectral chains of incomprehensible codes.

COMBAT: Cure Passion has used Cipher Crusade on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Signum Yagami [None] has posed.

Azure rests atop of magenta, on top of sakura-pink.

Signum lets it flow, because whatever this is, it is not something that she can understand. Yet on some level it does not feel hostile. It is not an attack; it is perhaps an intersecting, an overlap. And -

I don't remember getting a sword. Did I...?

The Azure Knight's eyes are veiled as Laevatein is tilted back and forth. The Armed Device makes a brief chord of concern, but then is silent. There is a subtle shift in the trailing lights on it.

I didn't steal this? Did I? I didn't... no - if I'd gotten all dizzy again I'd feel different now.

Ah - darn - why do I have to have the sword? I'm just going to screw this up.

The Azure Knight's eyes feel as though they close as she descends towards the dark and anomalous creatures. Sourisi is loosed at this point. The Azure Knight comes to the ground in a low crouch very different from what Signum does - a horse stance, extra wide, completely loose, Laevatein held in one hand and raised up gradually, weighed.

"Pretty good. Here we go--" The blade is swung round in a single test arc, and then held out in one hand like a shot put as the Azure Knight begins to spiral forwards, taking advantage of Laevatein's stern blade to sweep elegant half-moons through what rests before them.

And four streaks in, comes a rather delighted word: "Schlangeform!"

At this points, the arcs mushroom outwards, engulfing dozens where before they might have reached handfuls, spiralling fractal-triangle 'foam' ever-sharpening at the slicing end. "A Z U R E S P I N" cries the Knight, from within the growing hurricane!

COMBAT: Signum Yagami has used Azure Spin on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

It's new, at least, Vita confirms; Mikoto follows her instruction and finds herself in the air; she makes sure to hold her sword in such a way that it won't cause her trouble, hoisting her up like she is.

"Flying is good," she issues across the gap of air, as Vita flies in formation with Signum and so Mikoto is brought close enough to hear Sourisi's comments. Acrobats, clearly, think alike.

She can't quite muster chirpy cheer for the statement, though; her mind is in entirely the wrong place. (Perhaps that's why she makes the effort to comment at all.)

There's not much Mikoto can call good about getting here, even if she has to admire the weight-counterweight of wielding a sword that large with a shield in hand. They're all together and perhaps in that moment Vita can feel the way Mikoto's skin shudders, as she looks at what comes down. She used to be able to look without seeing at things which don't make sense...

Now, even when she blinks, she sees without looking.


This isn't the first time Mikoto has superimposed over a Belkan knight; she still remembers Golf, even if Vita and Signum do not. But Golf was with them, and evidently there were not here; here lies the Vermillion Knight, and she parts from her partner to stand toe to burnt-red glyph. They are burnished gold greaves which lead to red skirt, all armoured at the flanks; golden gauntlets, chainmail along arms and chest, and a neck still, inexplicably, wrapped in a gold-grey scarf. It does not quite obscure the gorget which protects her vulnerable neck. A red vest lies over the armour; unlike the skirt, it does not play at extra protection. Instead: it has pockets. Do not ask what clever little destructions are hid inside them.

Mikoto matches to her because she cannot fly, either; she has never had the knack for it. But she has magic which, perhaps, the Umbral Knight who is Endo might find familiar. She has that same familiar drive, too.

Her hands are full, but she's not wielding a blade.

The Vermillion Knight who is Mikoto hoists from her shoulder a massive ARBALEST -- steel in its bow, a huge weighted length with such drag to its draw that it features a winch to wind the drawstring back. "MARK!" She barks, because she has always been focused on the battle, winnowed warnings which must follow violence.

She lifts the arbalest to her shoulder and the crank turns all on its own power, red light chiming from its handle. A low masculine voice, with that mechanical twinge akin to Devices, affirms: <Burning Heart.>

There is no bolt in the bow but the shining light of magic, red light coming together like a hundred-dozen threads; all at once the windlass releases and it scorches through the air. Where it meets the smooth soft underbelly of those piercing sharp horns, or perhaps the smooth fabric of an eye which was not built to absorb light, it threatens to punch through a massive hole with the force of its velocity --

-- but that's not the real danger.

It's in what happens to that sudden emptiness, all filled with flame, scouring on the inside, as if she has given it a heart only to set it aflame.

"Focus," says the Vermillion Knight, and here's something Mikoto would say, too: "the enemy must be defeated."

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Burning Heart on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

"Whoever they are, we can certainly help them!" Steven says, hanging on, kicking his feet around gently. It felt like a fun ride with a friend, despite the seriousness of the situation. Maybe he is just someone who can appreciate every moment, the good and bad ones.

And then, a moment happens. One no one is able to quite process. Perhaps one where Steven or the entity thereof, took some steps back down an extradimensional timeline, and decided to explore a forked path. The original path is still visible of course, but a what-if scenario almost seems to play out.

When anyone is able to even passingly notice this re-fabrication, it is already in motion.

"Feel free to drop me any old place, Ebon," they say with a wry sence of humor.

Some things dont change too much.

With a flick of the wrist a being hurdles through the air at extreme speeds.

(Image: https://i.redd.it/zef4y9f5vwy21.png)

Their armor, both with sleek additions and Belkan triangle motif, and armor plating fit for chivalrous times long past. Their tabard flutters in the wind as they fly. Static begins to spark on their form, as a barcelet-like magic circle appears on their wrist. Concentric layered tringales begin to peel off their form, hanging in the air in a three-dimensional latticework of primed magic. "How's this for an entry?" they say, as they crash down in the midst of the fighting, the magic-lit palm touching the ground. In so doing, the area around is lit up with countless amounts of electicity, fired like salvoes from the redied magicworks in the air behind, leaving everything, but the point the Palatinate Knight landed at scorched and ionized.

"Okay, next target!"

They seem excited to be here.

COMBAT: Steven Universe has used Aura Rain on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Vita Yagami [None] has posed.

The movements feel natural even though she and Mikoto have not, she knows, actually fought together all that much. And that she knows Mikoto extremely definitely does not have a friggin' artillery crossbow. But still, dropping her off mid-air onto her own magic feels like a maneuver they've practiced a thousand times. Perhaps Vita has a harder time noticing the overlay; the downsides to having a mind forged from Belkan sorcery to start with. Perhaps the shift of bright-red cloth Knight Outfit to shining, SHINING gold plates, wielding a hammer that is less of a dainty polo hammer and more of a cracked-off pillar attached to a handle, is more natural for her than she'd normally admit.

"Stay high!" she barks. "I will take the fore!"

Then she does a wild triple flip, descending like a stone, for no purpose but to build momentum for when the Auric Knight CRASHES to the ground, hammer first, screaming: "JUSTIIIIIIIIIIIIIICE!!"

The impact shatters the earth for meters all around, bringing out deep troughs and flying boulders. From the dust cloud, a gauntleted hand thrusts forth, capturing several in her magic. "FISSURE!"

The captured stones cracks right back down, sending a snaking tectonic uprising toward the approaching menace.

COMBAT: Vita Yagami has used Justice Fissure on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick partially dodges 10 Fatigue damage from Fate Testarossa's Nocturne Bell, taking 39 Fatigue damage!  Fate
Testarossa is Psyched!  Pink Moon Stick's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick cleanly braces 17 Fatigue damage from Vita Yagami's Justice Fissure, taking 3 Fatigue damage!  Pink Moon
Stick's Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to dodge Signum Yagami's Azure Spin, taking 47 Fatigue damage!  Signum Yagami is Psyched!  
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to brace Mikoto Minagi's Burning Heart, taking 36 Fatigue damage!  Mikoto Minagi is Psyched!
Stagger applied to Pink Moon Stick!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick perfectly dodges 37 Fatigue damage from Steven Universe's Aura Rain, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical
Dodge!  Pink Moon Stick's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to brace Sourisi's Freezing Gale, taking 21 Fatigue damage!  Blind and Stagger applied to Pink Moon
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to dodge Lera Camry's Aurora Burst Ray, taking 73 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to brace Cure Passion's Cipher Crusade, taking 22 Fatigue damage!  Trap applied to Pink Moon Stick!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick cleanly braces 34 Fatigue damage from Endo Naoki's Asteroid Eilen, taking 6 Fatigue damage!  Pink Moon
Stick's Block and Parry abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Trisection - FFT - Orchestration - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4sXKhofh68

The invaders come and they come and they come -- and they die and they die and they die.

The Ashen Knight slices them into ribbons with ice shards and blade alike, while the Azure Knight's small-scale, high-intensity hurricane similarly makes it difficult for the enemy to tell where the ocean ends and her sword begins; all are one, and all are deadly. The Vermillion Knight lays down lethal suppressing fire alongside the Palatinate Knight's rain of lightning; then the whole world is bells, bells and chains and sonic, slashing hells.

The Crown Princess more than holds her own in this company; she uses sword and shield alike with ruthless efficiency. She wields no signature element, but exemplifies the physical style of ancient Belka; every strike augmented, every motion perfected, superhuman through the channeling of mana. She seems everywhere at once; calling warnings, shouting orders, utterly self-possessed despite the chaos of battle. And when she's too preoccupied with defending the flanks of her Knights, and overextends herself... the Radiant and Umbral Knights are there to defend her, disintegrating enemies with auroric plasma rays, smashing straight through them with blade impacts that are blunt instead of sharp solely because of the sizes involved.

Still, the enemy comes... there are so many of them. It feels endless. For every hundred of them slain by a Knight, there are a thousand more to replace them. And every single time one of them manages to pierce the terrific offense-as-defense of the line, and land even a single hit, that is the more significant action than all those deaths that made it possible, because the defenders are so terribly few.

"Stand strong!" the Crown Princess exhorts. "We are the cavalry -- the final reinforcements -- the very last line of defense. Show them what it means to be a Belkan!"

But although this was encouragingly meant, it can't help but highlight -- as the lasting pains of claws and fangs, the miasma and acid of pseudopods and tentacles, every cut and bruise left in their wake feels weighty and difficult -- how much and how many have been lost.

Every Knight here has lost something. Many have lost someone. Some have lost places rather than people. Some are fortunate enough to have only lost things, but they were crucial things indeed.

Muscles ache and so does the mind.

We've lost so much, says the pain. Why do we go on?

OOC: Make sure, as you struggle through this next wave of battle, that you meditate a little on the person, place or thing that
your Knight lost -- flesh it out! Why DO they go on?

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

"Umbral Knight! We have to keep them at bay!" Lera calls back, as the last motes of white and gold light fade from the Aurora Burst Ray. It leaves a swath of them dead... but there are still so many more.

The gap is filled in short order, and Lera sags a little.

She looks down at the white-haired Argent Knight. There is a familiar flash of concern; then the burst of flame from the Vermillion Knight makes her look upwad at it. Her eyes narrow, and then her armored hand swings out sharply to one side.

Interlocked, elegant plates move along her arm. The gold-and-red armor is gleaming, but it is also close to her form, somewhere between medieval plate and high-tech wonder. It moves effortless with her every motion.

She lands next to Argent Knight. Her armored feet hit the ground, glowing brilliantly when they do. She swings her sword back in one hand, and then strides forward. There is a glance from the corners of her eyes at Setsuna.

The Argent Knight. It feels easy to think of her as both, in the moment.

She has so little family left. The Argent Knight -- and the Ebon Knight, too, though in different ways. Her parents, her siblings; they'd all fallen in the course of the war. She swings up her free arm.

A clockwork shield spirals out from it, interlocking blades rotating out to form a buckler. She remembers her mother once considered having a Device to accompany Soaring Sky commissioned.

It was never made; resources are drawn short. "Stay close," she says to Argent Knight.

Then she slams bladed shield into the midst of the surging monsters. A blast of light explodes off the shield, then ripples outward, casting them back.

COMBAT: Lera Camry has used Fault Siege on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

One after another, after another after another after another. The Argent Knight swings axe and spell both, but there continue to be many more. She knows each of these Knights with her, has known them for a long time now, and knows how to move and work with each. But here, and now, fatigue threatens to set in after another swing down at an unspeakable creature, the Argent Knight shifting into the next foe as she tries to judge the moment. Her eyes flicker to the Radiant Knight in gold-and-red. Her armor, too, interlocks but flows, heavy plates somehow light thanks to the power of Belkan magic.

What has she lost? A lot. But the biggest is home; she came to the others from far away, joined their ranks and was welcomed as one of them, but she never will see her old home again. It is gone, only ruins now. Her connections to it are gone with it. And what is left...?

The Argent Knight hits the ground, absorbing the impact and standing close to Lera. "I will," she answers her, and that is a reason to go on itself. A new home, a new family...

One in particular.

<Fatal Helix>.

Setsuna shifts forward into the opening Lera's blast of light makes, and the Argent Knight swings her axe around, gathering force for a blow that shatters through magical triangles and sends a blast further along all around to try to make a bigger gap in their forces.

"We won't give up!" she calls to her Crown Princess and others.

COMBAT: Cure Passion has used Fatal Helix on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The Vermillion Knight gives the enemy a heart and she sets it ablaze, and yet there's a chill to hers all written in the motion, the execution, the simple directives of her speech. As something squamous invades the space of her glyph she raises her barrier; she steps back, onto another. She yields space. She does not yield her voice.

Don't cry.

They told her... not to cry.

Mikoto matches well to the Vermillion Knight, after all. Don't you remember? Mikoto doesn't have any parents to muck things up.

She doesn't, either.

But she did. Once upon a time, she did. She did, and she was so happy to have been accepted into her training, even though she was a young applicant. They were fighting a war. She wanted to protect her family.

Her parents were so proud of her, and then the darkness fell over their town and all the potential in the world could not save them. SHE could not save them. Don't cry, they told her, as they hid her away. Don't let them hear you.

She became the Vermillion Knight, and she didn't cry. She became the Vermillion Knight to burn them to ashes, and she's not about to cry over something like this.

Not now. Not at the end; not ever.

"Affirmative," is her response, to encouragement strapped thin over the brutal truth.

Perhaps it's more of Mikoto which offers: "I'll keep fighting."

When the joy of her success is ripped from her, what remains but the battle? No one else will have to choke their feelings down, the Vermillion Knight thinks. If she just stops it here, she can save the ones who are left.

Always less left to save. Always more young women crying. Always more people lost. But there is still SOMEONE, somewhere. There is still someone she can save.

So long as there's still that one person who still has something left to lose...

... then, with this steel bow...

"I'll protect them," the Vermillion Knight promises, no matter how weighty the draw of the winch might be.

She cranks it herself, this time, draws back the tension as magic builds in the space left behind. <Quick Star,> confirms the Device, as all at once she releases and the thousand red threads split to a thousand narrow bolts; they bend and arc until all at once they CONVERGE on one of those extraworldly foes. From the tips glow a light which becomes a supernova; it is consumptive.

No, she's not giving up.

COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi has used Quick Star on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

"Acceptable." The Ebon Knight answers to the Palatinate's desire for praise.

They die. And they die. And they die. The enemies cut down rank after rank. And yet it is without end.

She fights, and fights like one possessed.


A hand upon her head. A ruffling of her blonde hair, an affectionate gesture towards the younger sibling.

"Be good. And don't worry. Your big sis will take care of this and be back before you know it."

One final look. A smile. A parting.

A black helm appears over the head of the elder as she walks away.


A helm identical to the one the younger wears right now.

The Crown Princess calls out what she already knows, but even knowing that does not make such a gesture worthless. The reminder helps.

What it means to be a Belkan for her right now is pride... and grief.

<Twilit Blades>

Her device warbles, before the scythe head launches, attached to an energy chain.

Numerous other blades appear like spikes, as it hooks around the horrors in a curve, more blades appearing along the chain, as it curves around in an arc, spiralling upwards in a circle. A whirling cage that surrounds her foes, before the radius narrows.

And the girl pulls the chain taut.

"I will give no ground." She vows in response to their calls...

... there's no going back anyway, not for her.

COMBAT: Fate Testarossa has used Twilit Blades on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

The Ashen Knight's mastery of the blade is well known, the slim rapier being only visible as flashes of light and cries of pain only showing where it's been. Shards of flash-frozen ice are flung with precision and grace, with instinct and muscle memory reacting faster than the mind can think. This is a good thing, for Sourisi is coming to terms with the situation.

'I...don't normally wield a rapier, yet it feels as if it was crafted for me. This is just like...Laika! This is bizarre, but I need to-' "Aah!" A clawed tentacle slams into her right arm, and the fiend lost the limb and then it's life in quick succession, but it is clear that this is a battle of numbers.

The odds were not in their favor.

In the haze of battle, the Ashen Knight can still hear the orders given by the Princess clear as day and the cries of her fellow Knights, but they were seperated too far. An oprhan has no family except for the one that finds her, not connected by blood but the bonds that she forms. So many of her fellow brothers and sisters in arms have fallen in this endless war, and more will pass on from this life before the sun rises.

It's best to mask her grief with a smile, after all. The others have much to bear already.

Mana gathers within the blade's point, and the Ashen Knight swings the rapier point over her head and plunges the point into the earth. "Call me selfish, but no more!"

<Brave Smash.>

A glacier of solid ice form in front of her blade, swallowing whole a dozen of the hoard's number in a blink of an eye. With a vicious kick, Sourisi sends the ice shelf sliding forward before jumping on top. "No more will fall while I still stand!"

COMBAT: Sourisi has used Brave Smash on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

Destruction and clean ozone scent are all that remains once the latticework dissipates in the air. And while a small spherical area is clear of horror-terrors, so very many more creep inward. Like sickly syrup confining to the bowl it was pured in. "They all just want a chance to meet her Majesty! Didn't get tickets though."

Double-bracelets of belkan magic spring forth on the Knights wrists. Crackling in anticipation. A lavendar-like color, too bright to look at directly with unprotected eyes. Hands wring as the prepare magic. The feel of their gauntlets remind them of another time.

The last gift left to him before they were gone.

A simple training outing gone horribly arye. Discovered and attacked. Creatures of these kinds care little about the emotions of others, so when felling numerous people, including a mentor, how is one supposed to feel? Just surrender to the whims of fate? Or develop the will and fortitude to change it?

Their mentor often asked them that. A shame they won't any more.

But perhaps someone will stay the course. And at the end of days, they will all meet again.

Unlike some, no blades are pulled, though his hands appear ready to recieve one, or something akin to molding clay. Small handflick motions, as though cleaning something off, or vague chopping motions at midair are made. It doesn't look like might, though what happens as a reaction is efficiently and felling.

At the precise vectors of where their fingers point, the Palatinate's finger's glow, and in planes and vectors perfectly matching that within the swaths of enemies, interlocking trangles ionize and spring into existence.

They do not cut so much as begin to exist in those spaces, finely dividing whatever had the unfortunate chance to be in those spots. The briefest flash of violet, coupled with a crackling sound, and they are gone. This appears to repeat itself outward i na cascading motion, until it looks like roiling waves of geometric lights play like a visual orchestra withing the teeming hordes of the far realms.

Many creatures go missing appendages, or what may count as bodtmass, before they can even register pain. Do they even feel pain? It is difficult to tell.

Perhaps a note of research later. "This isn't exactly the dance I was hoping for today, but better to be on the floor than on the floor I suppose!"

COMBAT: Steven Universe has used Lightspeed Slash on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Signum Yagami [None] has posed.

So why do we go on in the face of a swarm like this?

Signum admits that she is wondering this herself. She has considered broaching the proposal to move into aerial mass bombardment, but the situation has not fully revealed itself yet. In addition, this might not be sufficient -- and might show their hand. They might need her or Vita's utmost effort simply to remove themselves...

It would be easier to just sit down and wait for them to come. More fun that way. This way -- you're going to go out tired. No matter what happens.

"Flexible as heck," the Azure Knight observes as a momentary divot in the ground clears space. She raises up the snake-form blade and rocks her head back and forth, wriggling to shake off strain and take one, just one, breath.

But you know what happens then. Sometimes... it doesn't even work.

And sometimes that doesn't keep people from believing in you.

The day the Crown Princess came to the border fort. The remains of the fort. The Azure Knight can remember the shame, the pain, the despair. It was her fault, she knew. She hadn't attended to duty. Why not? Signum can't quite taste it. But it was there. However much of a truth this responsibility would be in the eyes of a cosmic tribunal, she cannot tell.

But the Azure Knight remembers it. Remembers the approach that reached the outer wall because she decided not to ride out that day. Remembers the surprise attack. Remembers reduction and fire and terror. She had come out, belatedly -- sea and strike had fended it off enough that there *was* a fort. That there *were* others in review. That there *was* an Azure Knight.

She remembers the single nod that the Princess had given her, when she had told her the truth. And what she had said afterwards -- and how she had moved on to how they would regroup to the south river fork without a single moment of reproach. How she had been seen in that moment. And perhaps she had been forgiven.

"Bogenform" comes the instruction. Laevatein complies. The bow is turned over in the Belkan Knight's hands for a half-heartbeat, with a thought that Signum does not understand but whose idiomatic intention is clear to her: 'Cool.'

"Come on, dancers: No blue in this dance hall." The eyes of the Azure Knight go wide as Laevetein contracts slightly, from longbow scale to something shorter. A horse-archer's bow. The Azure Knight yields yards with a hop, nearer to the others. A few more - and then she has the advantage of a seemingly trivial space of elevation --

Laevatein erupts with four hundred arrows drawn and knocked in vibratious fury, each of them crying out like a choir as the triangular-fractal 'foam' around the blue arrowheads flenses supersonically through the air! "GOLD! BREAK THE LINE!"

COMBAT: Signum Yagami has used Wave Breaker on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Vita Yagami [None] has posed.

The Auric Knight's assault brings unqualified ruin...but what good is ruin against...against this?

Things scatter and shatter as the fissure devours them. Calling it bone or sinew or anything else feels wrong, it's all just...things, breaking, not lifeforms taking injury. She knew some of the folks back home had been trying to crack that riddle, find out what hurt them most....

She remembers the sight of it, a city reduced to shattered rock, taking their answers to the next world with them.

Now it's a question stuck in her mind forever. She almost wish they'd never asked her to think about it. Maybe she'd find the way nothing she does works the way she needs it to. It's not her alone, maybe; nothing anyone does seems to slow this. But the responsibility is on her shoulders, as the vanguard. The hammer. The one who destroys the enemy.

She sucks in a profound breath that whistles in her helmet's air holes, and releases a roar of a scream, daring to fly close to engage. The golden magic runs up her arm, concentrates in the head; the Belkan triform spins at its head, signalling the formation of the spell.

"SO I WILL, BLUE!" she screams back, in reply to the call. Her dainty size nonetheless kicks up stones as she slams back into the ground, whips her hammer back, and SLAMS it down, overhand, into the... ...it'd be the skull if it had anything that she was even its head, of one of the throng. "QUAKE!"

The magic explodes downward as a golden spike, sending out a massive shockwave that lights up every crack and crag in the field - and then it bursts, like a bomb far below, shattering the ground!


COMBAT: Vita Yagami has used Quake Smash on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.

"Understood!" Calls the Umbral Knight to the Radiant. A fist rises in salute, violet and silver gauntlet clenching in solidarity.

Wave after wave of twisting and turning monsters come, and the knight meets each with the point and blade of his massive sword. Each time just a fraction little less fierce, a tiny bit slower, aching wounds and fatigue slowly piling up as the battle rages onwards. They say even dust, when piled, becomes a mountain.

Yet he dives into the melee again and again, blade carving through enemies, clearing the way for the Crown Princess as the Radiant knight does the same. No matter how many wounds are opened, he'll still take more. He won't stop.

There's too much that's been lost already.

In his mind he can see each one, each knight whom he swore fealty and fought beside. He remembers every name, every place that each one fell. A broken city between crumbling canyons. A last-ditch evacuation and a sky littered with bodies. A circle of blades, the last ring in a desperate struggle.

So few of them remain.

In the whirlwind of battle he can see some of them, armored shapes that struggle against the terrible hoard. The Ebon Knight, whose predecessor he'd fought beside. The Ashen, a fellow survivor. The Vermillion, whose village they couldn't save. Others too, all giving everything they can in undying loyalty to their Princess, their families, their world.

He'll fight with them all for Belka, till his last breath.

COMBAT: Endo Naoki has used Blauverschiebung on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to brace Sourisi's Brave Smash, taking 31 Fatigue damage!  Sourisi is Psyched!  
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to dodge Endo Naoki's Blauverschiebung, taking 33 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick braces 30 Fatigue damage from Signum Yagami's Wave Breaker, taking 13 Fatigue damage!  Pink Moon Stick's
Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to brace Vita Yagami's Quake Smash, taking 49 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Vita Yagami is
Psyched!  Diversion applied to Pink Moon Stick!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick dodges 11 Fatigue damage from Fate Testarossa's Twilit Blades, taking 16 Fatigue damage!  Pink Moon
Stick's Fade and Flash abilities activate!  Stun and Trap applied to Pink Moon Stick!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to brace Lera Camry's Fault Siege, taking 12 Fatigue damage!  Lera Camry is Psyched!  
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to dodge Steven Universe's Lightspeed Slash, taking 48 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick braces 19 Fatigue damage from Cure Passion's Fatal Helix, taking 29 Fatigue damage!  Pink Moon Stick's
Block and Parry abilities activate!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to dodge Mikoto Minagi's Quick Star, taking 21 Fatigue damage!  Exhausted applied to Pink Moon
<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Doomsday Trance - Trails of Cold Steel III - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ze-6tgL_aTk

In many battles such as these, whether fought in Tokyo or on Belka, there has often been a transition to culmination. First one defeats the little monsters -- then one defeats the big one.

That does not happen here. There is no big one.

Or rather... they're ALL the big one.

It takes time to notice, and there's both very little time indeed for such observations moment-to-moment amid endless peril, and all the time in the world -- literally, because it will run out if the Belkans fall -- because the battle stubbornly continues to go on.

But it is noticeable. The Radiant Knight SLAMS her shield into one wave of monsters on the left flank, and the right flank flinches -- just for a moment. The Argent Knight widens the gap just created, and somehow it is filled again far too quickly, by extra-universals who had no business knowing that a gap existed in the first place.

Unless, that is... they're all one creature.

It makes sense. The Vermillion Knight eviscerates one creature with a thousand fiery arrows, but a thousand creatures feel its pain long after it is gone. The Ebon Knight entraps her foes in chains, but they can tell that they're surrounded just a little too quickly, because others outside of her cage can see it. The Ashen Knight sends a sliding ice shelf full of creatures, and though those entombed are already doomed, those outside of it seem perfectly aware of its trajectory, as though she was manipulating their bodies like an arm. Why are you hitting yourself? Blue bolts rain down from the sky, followed by a golden spike; heaven and earth united to defeat these foes, to consume them. But those who come after, down the spire, remember that clever maneuver despite having never experienced it. It will not work twice, because they actually just did.

SHE just did. Or he, perhaps. The energy of hunger of these beings is more darkly masculine than feminine, if gender must be prescribed at all. Doubtless the creature -- THE creature -- has no use for it. He, It, simply continues to send out parts of himself, and the defenders mow down his limbs like a forest of hairs. Shave after shave, but none of them close. Even the Umbral Knight, whose skills in a melee are unmatched, is starting to run out of tactics.

The Crown Princess started hanging back a little to spot these details; it took more than one save to keep her alive to make the observation she now does. Her sword points out through the ranks -- DEEP through -- which is to say UPWARDS, since the monsters keep spiraling down.

"THERE," she calls. "That one never moves!"

It's true. There's a single rock in the river of ichorous, cthonic monsters flowing downwards to meet them in battle. Sometimes it is momentarily lost to sight, simply because there are too many others in the way. But it always reappears eventually, exactly where it was.

It seems like a creature like any of the others; strange and wrong and, individually, not all that tough.

The challenge will be GETTING to it.

"Together, we must break through and put an end to it!" she calls. "I will be the van!"

Abandoning her Aegis, she takes her greatsword -- its name on the tip of everyone's tongue, yet lost -- in both hands. And she charges forward, one last time. There are merely countless thousands of monsters and a few hundred feet of elevation in between them.

But that's what the Knights are for.

OOC: Let's see some combos; duos, trios, clearing a path to strike at the heart of the enemy! Final combat round!

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

Lera looks at Setsuna, watching the rush of energy they struck out. She lets out a soft breath, then, and lowers her shielded arm for a moment. Soaring Sky spins as she does, the silver-and-gold blow ready to strike.

She tries to keep an eye on everyone. This is what the Radiant Knight has always done; tried to befriend the Vermillion Knight, tried to keep a close eye on the Palatinate Knight after his mentor perished, and tried to not wonder too much about the Azure Knight. It was important to trust them.

Together, they cleave and cut through the sea of monsters -- or monster. One monster, and their princess points out its heart: the unmoving rock, so often lost in them. She takes a deep breath, eyes briefly on the princess's greatsword.

"Argent," Lera says. She tries to keep her voice even -- without panic or fear, as she looks at Setsuna. There is an effort to keep her voice cool and calm; the essence of someone trying to a rock of stability, in a sea of despair.

But also not letting too much slip about what she feels.

Then, she glances upward, and cries out: "Auric! I will clear the way... then both of you go! Sky, are you ready?"

<Yes! Let's see this done!>

Lera holds up Sky. The blade splits in twain again -- down the middle, with arcs of lightning and plasma crackling off it. Some snap down, scorching the ground black in places. Energy gathers and grows there.


It blasts outward, forming a large blade of light -- twice as tall as Lera. It shines brilliantly -- and then expands outward, a dozen blades of light in the form of Soaring Sky appearing.


And then Lera slams the sword down -- and slashes through the first rank of all the monsters. It slashes into them -- and then dozens of blades of light rain down, smashing into one after the other. Stabbing, slashing, impaling -- and exploding in titanic gouts of starlight.


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

The Vermillion Knight will protect them. Argent hears this, and cannot help but look her way, knowing what she has not protected in the past. The Argent Knight knows the dance here, too. But it is with two whom she will work now. She looks back at Lera for a moment. She remembers...

"Yes?" Argent responds to the Radiant Knight, and she is calm, as she is always calm. But it shows in her eyes, the way she latches onto that stability. "...I understand," she answers quietly.

And then it is time for loud. She knows Auric; she works closely with Auric, subtle to her obvious in some places, but just as obvious in others. She knows her story; she knows what brings her here. And she knows--

"Right! Together, Auric! I'll go!"

The Argent Knight likewise rises. She would not have puzzled out the answer herself, but it begins to come together--the way many move... the way this one does. So it is time to break through, and break through they will. The Argent Knight rises from the ground, familiar ground. This impossible spire is worth protecting; these three moons look down on them in a green sky. It is worth preserving.

Setsuna holds up her Device, and power begins to charge in it, a Belkan triangle rotating underneath her feet as she hacks at the air, three times, to form another triangle. The triangle splits, and bcomes another, andother, all at a tiny point that becomes impossible to see but for the glow. She aims through it, at the stone--and as Lera slams her sword to slash through the first rank, Setsuna hammers down her Device, the axe slamming through the impossibly small point of energy and in the process, shaped by another triangle at its base, it sends a massive column rocketing forth into the enemy. Along with Auric and Radiant, maybe...!

COMBAT: FINISHER! Cure Passion has joined the combo started by Lera Camry!
<Pose Tracker> Fate Testarossa [Infinity Institute (5)] has posed.

It's a dark and awful melee. They've always had theories about these creatures, speculation, but rarely any hard facts. Except they kill, they die, and they come without ending. And yet... it is the eye of the Princess that calls out... an important detail.

The Ebon Knight's helm moves to look upon the one... beyond the many.

"Vermillion, Azure..."

It's a dangerous thing. Hope. Yet it infects her all the same.

"... this could be our chance."

Ever since the day the Umbral Knight returned unto her the news. Her Legacy in her arms. She had worn it to prevent her memory from fading. If this continues though, there will be nothing left of that memory.

The three have always understood each other in this. Everyone has lost someone... lost many someone's even. Yet... for the three, there is an understanding in their grief. Two of them far too new to the grief... the other, trying to get them to consider life after war because of their grief.

"... In all our time together, I have never witnessed either of you miss your mark."

The field is thick with the things, her grip subtly increases on her polearm. She can see any number of scenarios where these creatures interpose to protect their beating heart. It is no accident that she flips up her visor, just long enough for them to see her resolved eyes. And a small smile. "I will see that the trend continues."

And then she puts it back down, flying ahead into the next layer of the enemy ranks, right into the thick of it. And her Scythe like device grows. And grows. Until she's holding the polearm like scythe that's easily five times as she is tall. It's black and violet energy blade crackling with energy.

There's a rush in the air, an intense shockwave pressure as she draws it backwards...

<Eclipse Edge.>

Swinging it forward, there is no fast finesse, or grace. The swing is slow, cumbersome as she slices through their ranks. And leaves a trail of ebony energy in the air. On the back swing, she carves another. Then another in the vertical. And the horizontal. Until there are just so many darkened lines across the air like an enormous patterned smear in the air.

For a moment, it just hangs, before she says quietly.


And her creation suddenly distorts, setting the field alight with an explosion of slashes, which detonate outwards like a shrapnel bomb of scythe blades. As the field in front of her momentarily flashes, then clears in a deafening ring for her...


She says quietly, to herself really. It is not a command, it is more... a measure of her trust, that she knows they do not have to hear it...

COMBAT: FINISHER! Fate Testarossa has started a combo targeting Pink Moon Stick!
<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Sourisi's memories of how these battles typically go are starting to be proven wrong. No matter how many fiends are cut down, frozen or unable to fight, there's no pause in the forces attacking the small group of defenders. The hoards facing them truly seem infinite in number, and the superior might of the Knights of Belkan are dimishing as the war continues on. Unless things change soon, and fast, the day will end in total defeat.

Thankfully, the Princess has a plan. Calling out above the roar of battle pointing her greatsword skyward, an unwavering weapon pointed directly at their one chance of victory. It takes no time at all for the Ashen Knight to understand the plan and move in to engage the enemy directly above. But if this is going to succeed, then there's two others that she needs to find first.

Flying upwards, she calls out to the two that she can depend on the most. The Umbral Knight, one who shows the same mental wounds from past battles in this everlasting war, for they mirrored her own. The Palatinate Knight, one younger than her yet showing as much passion as those with twice his years. "Palatinate, Umbral! Follow my lead!"

They have kept her alive far longer than she would have on her own, and she had done the same in return. She can trust them.

The rapier in her left hand glows softly once before starting to gather mana, a silent acknowledgement of what was to come. A Belkan triangle forms under her greaves and the Ashen Knight concentrates on the task at hand.

<Bypassing Limiter Protocols.>

Raising the thin point upwards, ice starts to coat the blade, growing thicker impossibly fast and coating the blade entirely...then her hand, and her wrist...

<Stabilizing Field Manipulation.>

A claw manages to shatter part of her helm, yet the Ashen Knight's concentration does not waver. A pale blue eye and tuffs of green hair is visible, and the ice has coated her arm completely down to her shoulder.

<Trust Your Instincts.>

The Ashen Knight kicks off hard against her temporary barrier, launching herself skyward. A creature intercepts her strike with its' entire body, yet the Ashen Knight smiles. "Absolute Zero."

In the same moment, the fiend's body instantly froze upon being near the lance of ice brought down to the coldest tempeture possible and was shattered. The shards of the corpse flew directly heavensward, flashfreezing dozens more of its' brethen in their wake. "Now! For the glory of the Crown!"

COMBAT: FINISHER! Sourisi has started a combo targeting Pink Moon Stick!
<Pose Tracker> Vita Yagami [None] has posed.

Auric's nail and hammerblow don't, quite, do the job. Or rather, they work spectacularly, and it doesn't help. Auric sucks in noxious battlefield air, and vaults herself back into the air as the Crown Princess calls their attention to the true target. "That's...I see. I see!" she bellows. Something she'd tried and failed to see, and the Crown Princess puts it together at the last. Yes! Perfection! "Then! Yes, I come!"

Radiant and Argent call, and Auric answers, blasting forward like a wrecking ball. "WE FLY!"

The cataclysm of swords clears many away from her, leaving her partner in Argent to rush ahead while Auric powers her hammer, Belkan triangle magic guides collecting at both ends of the hammerhead. Argent's column of light sheers away scores more enemies, giving Auric the space she needs; she screams downward. "CLEAR THE WAY!" she roars, not merely a declaration but a warning. She cruises in on empty land, SLAMS her hammer into it, and one of the circles discharges as a circular chunk of scenery rips itself free of the ground - like a ball-and-socket joint swiveling, an entire portion of the battlefield now stands horizontal.

Then she soars at that, and with a powerful, full-body swing, SLAMS the hammer into it, and the two remaining magic frames discharge themselves, transitioning tremendous inertia into the dislodged chunk of landscape and sending it flying at the enemies between the Crown Princess and her goal!!

COMBAT: FINISHER! Vita Yagami has joined the combo started by Lera Camry!
COMBAT: COMBO! FINISHER! Lera Camry, Cure Passion, and Vita Yagami have used Aurora Galaxy Divider, Vorpal Flare, and Calamity
Throw on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.

The Princess calls out their target, and the Umbral Knight's eyes move to find it. There's a short nod of his head, a recognition of what needs be done: "We'll clear a path!" He calls in response, fervor renewed.

The Ashen Knight calls, and he nods in response to his steadfast ally. He knows as well as she does what must be done, and how to do so. Many times they've stood together in the whirlwind of battle, two survivors in a desperate war. He knows what she's capable of, the power of her conviction, just as she knows his.

He descends as the Ashen Knight begins to work her magic, feeling the first traces of that freezing cold as he drifts to rest beside the Palatinate Knight. A gauntlet-clad hand reaches to clasp the younger knight's shoulder, clapping there in camaraderie and assurance.

"We'll make them proud today." He assures. He speaks for the Palatinate's fallen mentor, his lost brother-in-arms. He had told him, before he left, that he would watch over the young knight beside him. There's some part of him that, amidst all this, swells with pride at how far the lightning knight has come. Far enough that he knows he can rely on him for what comes next.

"Lend me your power!" Fallen Stern is raised high as frost scatters outward, freezing swaths of the enemy before them. "Ready-"

Purple energy pulses across the span of the Umbral Knight's dark blade, interlocking magic triangles burning into the air around it. They appear at his feet as well, forming a launching pad that sends him hurtling forward and into the mass of frozen foes.

"For the fallen!"


Purple light floods outward, mixing and melding with the lightning that's to come on its wake. For a moment the blade seems to encompass the entire emerald sky, extending out impossibly far before the knight swings it in one gigantic arc, sheering and shocking through the mass of monsters that the Ashen Knight has frozen.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Endo Naoki has joined the combo started by Sourisi!
<Pose Tracker> Signum Yagami [None] has posed.

The Azure Knight's name is spoken. She had been about to try to wipe her forehead off, and had thought better of the idea, when her head swings round, her plume on the helmet (or is it a ponytail? perhaps both) brushing against the Auric Helm.

'In all our time together...'

The Azure Knight flips part of her visor up. Her eyes are damp, still heavily ringed as they always are. "... So you're putting your faith in my aim?"

The visor is flipped back down. "..."

The Azure Knight's hand grips tighter around Laevatein.

I'm going to get this wrong. That's it. This has all been a fluke. I'm going to botch it this time after I've gotten them all to trust in me. She might as well have told me she wanted to start an orange farm while not having a name on the playbill.

There is a faint tremor in the arm.

I don't want to BE here I'm going to RUIN it all this is so AWFUL I'm not suited for this and I never was and oh I wish that they were still here and I was in some place in the back where I wouldn't have fooled--

The voice of the Crown Princess draws the Azure Knight's attention for a moment.


I might blow it.

Her head turns towards the far-distant creature. And maybe I might not.

Will ripples through Laevatein, who responds, moving to something like the longbow configuration familiar to long-time Signum-observers. She holds it at an intermediate angle, tilting her head as the ebon blades go forwards, go snicker-snack, reave the field, harvest the horror. Futile, perhaps, in the long run, but you have to stand up before you can run.

"Is that how you say thank you?" says the Azure Knight, rhetorically, to the Azure Knight. Then she raises her voice.

"Oi!" she then calls. "Vermillion! D'you want to know a secret?"

The bow gleams, ripples upwards. "I think purple's going to be my new favorite color. Come on! LEEEEEETS--"

The Azure Knight draws Laevatein's string. A literal string for once, and Signum marvels at the muscle within the memory. A vibrant woman, however despairing.

The arrow does not really seem to be there, though. Signum's eyes saccade for a moment and then she spots it. Aha, it's forming fractally. From the head on down. And indeed, in the gathering luminosity of the Azure Knight's borrowed* bow, a single triangle with a square behind it is increasing in complexity, in force, in power.

The drawn string begins to fill with the simplest of shapes, and as they manifest each of them makes a small sound, and many, many small sounds together makes a rising and falling susurrus, then a hum. "Terminus Disco Active," the Azure Knight says to herself as a triangle-in-circle disk of sea blue swirls round her legs, anchoring her. All motion stops, save the subtle tracking with the motion of the planet itself. Three tinier spots rise above her - flit around - synchronize with the three moons hanging in the sky...

Laevetein makes a chiming sound, then a seven-part syncopated beat. Mass Synchronization Complete.

"Then good night to all the ones behind us," says the Azure Knight, before she finishes her statement to Vermillion: "GOOOOOOOOOOOO02:19, 30 April 2021 (UTC)!!!!!"

The arrow is, first, a line drawn with perfect parabolic precision from where the Azure Knight is standing. "THIS!" she cries out. "IS! The Ultimate Decisive Magic! Get DOWN, and REGRET YOUR SINS! FINAL LULLABY~!"

The Azure Knight lets go.

The line disappears and the arrow flies, inevitable and perfectly guided. The rings surrounding the Azure Knight - beneath her, facing the moons - are not, in fact, rings round her, but rather around the arrow: they orbit into flickering neon-blue as the fractal accelerates, the shapes pouring towards the edge, folding together to form a shape with a single mathematical point for the carriage of all the force -- and once the force is spent, and the arrow is within, let a myriad of myriad triangles of force burst out, inevitable as the tide!

The Azure Knight's bow-string hand is hanging in the air, fingers curled dramatically. (I wonder what this looks like, Signum considers.)

COMBAT: FINISHER! Signum Yagami has joined the combo started by Fate Testarossa!
<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

In the rubble that remained the Umbral Knight found her, the survivor, the one who was hidden, stoic and stapled into herself, hand over her mouth. She never did learn to fly, but he taught her how to make up for it.

In the ranks of the Knighthood the Vermillion Knight found her band, though she was so distant and so whittled-down. She was a difficult friend to make, but she still appreciated the humour of Palatinate, Argent's calm nature, the counterpoint of bright positivity which icy Ashen brought to their patrols.

The Radiant Knight always seemed like she knew what it was like, to lose what she'd lost. Vermillion never managed to speak on it, but she did manage to get a little close to her, a long series of lunches eaten with scarcely three words uttered. ... it was tasty food...

She followed a path others had already trod; perhaps that's why she so easily recognised Ebon, who was not the first, either. The both of them stern, determined, speaking without decoration and striking with intent...

But the guidance the Knights have offered the Vermillion Knight has always come from one shining Crown. She hears and receives the directive; perhaps it comes doubly easy, right now.

(Distantly Mikoto thinks, if you do not cry, no one will hear you. No one will know! It is never too late for love and self-acceptance, but perhaps that is the tragedy of an overlay not quite at the same position; or, perhaps, that is the emphasis.)

That strange distaff between the ease of the Princess's orders and the knot in her throat comes to head at the way the Vermillion Knight backsteps to another red-glyph platform, and looks to the Ebon Knight, sparking that dangerous idea of a chance.

The bare expression of her trust is a question: "... can we do it?"

But Ebon has recognised something in her, too: she has always struck the heart. (Where there was no heart, she made one.) She finds her eyes and for a moment the stoic resolve in her own falters to something more gentle, more genuine, more ALIVE. She swallows; she nods. Ebon is right, of course, she thinks. They have to be able to do it. They...

That grim dedication is interrupted all a sudden by something much, much louder, and it's surprise which shunts onto her unfriendly face when the Azure Knight yells to her.

(The Azure Knight, who always had something to say, even when the Vermillion Knight said nothing at all.)

"What... is the secret?" She may as well have asked 'why would you ask such a ridiculous question in the middle of THIS'; perhaps, months ago, she would have been so unkind. But she has come to know that the Azure Knight has an aim of her own under that aimless expression, and so she asks.

She gets an answer, and this, THIS is what finally cracks a smile onto her face, a disbelieving little chuckle, and she almost tells her she's pretty sure that magic doesn't mix like colours do, but -- but it has already begun.

The Ebon Knight forward, and the Azure aiming...

Here the Vermillion Knight who is Mikoto winds the windlass, a hand below to keep it steadied. She doesn't have to feel the tension of the bow, not really. Her Device is a magical artefact; it can bear all the weight for her, and then some. But sharing the load of its execution has always connected her to the war, viscerally, even as she stands far from its front lines; she may be apart but she is in no way DETACHED from the violence Ebon wreaks upon the enemy which cannot be named.

But she has always been the more quiet of them, in announcing their assaults, and so it is with a note of surprise that the low and faintly mechanical voice is interrupted in the middle of: <Rising -->

"SUN!" All belted out, warning and reassurance and declaration.

And the light which charges at the steel bow leaps out with a snap which could launch five thousand pounds of force. It is darkest before the dawn, they say, and the fiery bolt which lances in through Ebon's shrapnel-bomb is bright as a lightening sky. It follows in a perfect straight line the example of those blue fractal triangles; the light it reflects, it turns out, might very WELL be purple.

And within the tip of that bolt is the explosive force of sunlight, burning to billions of degrees.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Mikoto Minagi has joined the combo started by Fate Testarossa!
COMBAT: COMBO! FINISHER! Fate Testarossa, Signum Yagami, and Mikoto Minagi have used Eclipse Edge, Final Lullabye, and Rising Sun
on Pink Moon Stick.
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed.

While Palatinite can technically do the dance forever, energy reserves don't account for endless hordes. Palatinite is proud enough to do it and go down swinging, though they would heartily prefer not to. Thankfully the ever-knowledgeable princess standing strong and bearing both shield and sword, strikes a chord somewhere in the knight. That this person needs to live.

The world will be at a loss without them.

People would miss her, very much.

But as always, her battle acumen sifts through the enemy tactic and finds their weakness. "I don't believe they wish to line up single file!" he says, finally clearing just enough to get a moment to look about himself.

But a pair of voices call out to him. Two that are very familiar. "Yes yes, Ashen, Umbral, I can hear you! Hold up just a moment---!"

And Palatinite takes to the air. He doesn't fly like some of his comrades, but his liftoff into a jump is something envious. He lands squarely next to Ashen and Umbral, perfectly calculated. "Might be gone but, do you think they would be envious of our teamwork, eh?" he asks, hands already charging with lightning.

In the air, something is building, far above. THe battlefield is beginning to alight a soft purple, as a large magic circle forms. It channels and siphons the electrical currents in the air, the very ions held in the atmosphere. It charges a potent bolt of lightning, which then targets Umbrals weapon. It links to the blade, added its power to the devastating slash that is to come.

"Love it when a plan comes together!"

COMBAT: FINISHER! Steven Universe has joined the combo started by Sourisi!
COMBAT: COMBO! FINISHER! Sourisi, Endo Naoki, and Steven Universe have used Combo: Memento Mori, composed of Absolute Zero, Stern
Brecher, and Howling Heavens, on Pink Moon Stick.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to brace Lera Camry, Cure Passion, and Vita Yagami's Finisher, Combo: Aurora Galaxy Divider, taking
414 Fatigue damage!  Pink Moon Stick is unable to keep fighting!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to brace Fate Testarossa, Signum Yagami, and Mikoto Minagi's Finisher, Combo: Eclipse Edge, taking
490 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Pink Moon Stick is unable to keep fighting!
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick fails to brace Sourisi, Endo Naoki, and Steven Universe's Finisher, Combo: Memento Mori, taking 409
Fatigue damage!  Pink Moon Stick is unable to keep fighting!

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

Afterwards, the most striking thing is how CLOSE it was.

The Knights of Belka brought all of their terrific force to bear, and it was spectacular indeed, but--


That there was a but at all is horrifying.

What 'but' could stand up to the starlight bladestorm of the Radiant Knight? The geometric prisma-column of the Argent Knight, a ladder of death which her Crown Princess dares to occasionally climb, using a Belkan triangle's side now and then as a rung for her charge? The Auric Knight's hammering of Belka herself at the legions of doom, taking not the battle but the entire battlefield to them? The Ashen Knight's localized vaccum -- then more than that, as infinitely colder than space itself than zero is smaller than three point five? The Umbral Knight's titanic, iconic purple pillar of might? The Palatinate Knight's lightning summons, which electrifies that same pillar into an even more frightening weapon? The Ebon Knight's rent airspace, from which pour shrapnel bombs of scytheblades? The Azure Knight's fractal assault, a single arrow and every arrow at once, all self-similar, all deadly? The Vermillion Knight's truly singular bolt, sunlight distilled, compressed, into a white hole of destruction?

The answer has to do with numbers, and it has to do with size, and -- because being outnumbered and small has never stopped a legion of magical girls on their worst day, let alone their best -- it has to do with sacrifice.

Of course the creature, who has been spending the lives of his legion like toenails, does not hesitate to spend them -- faster, harder, more -- in his own defense. Most of the progress was made in the first few seconds, before he figured out what was going on. After that...

After that, every meter up the column towards him was its own little war. Trench after trench the attacks of the Knights advanced, clearing them out, but more and more slowly, more and more desperately.

By the time she reached the master creature, the Crown Princess had had to clear a path for the last few arrows and blades of her allies, as much as they cleared it for her. She has no signature color, but right now she could pass for Vermillion and Ebon alike; her armor drips with her own blood, at every joint and cavity; and it's splashed with the black ichor of these monstrous unbeings, who throw themselves so eagerly upon her greatsword.

One too many of them, all at once, finally disarm her, just as she reaches her goal; the sword is ripped from her hands with the weight of the thirteenth monster strung along the blade too suddenly to clear with a flick and a tear.

She narrows her eyes and grabs one of the Radiant Knight's starblades, ripping it backwards out of the corpse of another enemy, in her left hand. Extending her right palm, she calls a portion of the Umbral Knight's pillar to her, and it lengthens and lengthens until it is more javelin than sword; hiltless, guardless, just sharp at every angle. Her right gauntlet disintegrates beneath its power instantly.

She does not look back, but everyone senses that she wishes to. Instead she lowers her heavily braided head and charges the last few feet to their goal.

He brings up his claws in feeble self-defense, and she looks up into what passes for his face. Something passes between her and the hive king, before he's eviscerated in a magnificent X -- a magnificent cross -- of Radiant and Umbral power.

All the remaining monsters scream as one -- they scream with his voice -- because, of course, they are him. Their limbs lose their grip on the skytree; they lose their grip even on the air; and they fall.

...their gravity is not Belka's, and never was. Their gravity calls them back the way they came.

They fall upwards...

The Crown Princess very nearly falls with them. It is an extra, unexpected feat of prowess to keep herself in this world, when the Otherworld's forceful retreat is so eager to sweep her small body away. But she manages, somehow; she manages to make it back to the earth. To Belka. She lies heavily upon the chewed-up ground, and in that moment her eyes are green, green with the expanse of the three-mooned sky she gazes up at.

The last few monsters disappear through the atmosphere, upwards and out of sight.

Surrounded by the Knights, the Crown Princess summons a smile. "We did it," she pants, every word as great an effort to her now as an Aurora Galaxy Divider or Stern Brecher. "You did it. Belka knows peace, at last..."

She lifts her right hand, the gauntletless one, and her fingers, splayed wide, suddenly seem so fragile. So frail. Such a small hand, to hold the fate of everyone in it.

"...thank you...all of you..."

She is reaching towards the point where the spire meets the sky. Her breathing comes heavily, now. It is wet, but not with tears.

"My only regret," she coughs, "Is that in saving our world from them... we have surely doomed another. I only wish... we had the power... to save..."

'Them all' dies on her lips, and so does she.

Grief rends the hearts of the Knights of Belka and those who have momentarily inhabited them; grief, and other feelings also, too intense to bear; and the connection is overwhelmed, shredded, it cannot stand.

The last thing anyone hears is a scream. Not theirs, not one of them; but recognizable, in context, all the same.


The next time they blink, their eyes open on Tokyo's night sky. They lie in a circle on the back porch of Yagami House. Beneath them, around them, is the golden skein they were delivered. It is smoking with spent power, and the smoke smells not acrid but sweet; little whorls of lilac that drift into the evening air.

Shamal, Zafira and Hayate are at their sides in an instant. Actually, in less than an instant. They were already there.

Already there, because, as the inevitable question arises:

"How long were you gone? You never left," Shamal explains, while helping Vita to her feet.

Zafira confirms this with a sharp-snooted nod. "The spell executed, and you all just collapsed."

Hayate worries at the Belkan cross around her neck. "Thank goodness," she whispers, "Thank goodness you're all right. But..."

Her own fragile little hand points at the spell circle, once everyone has shifted off of it enough to see.

Its configuration has changed. The old lacuna are filled with runes, one apiece, the ones defined by Soaring Sky and Fallen Stern. But now there are new ones; new empty spaces; new possibilities; new journeys to take.