2021-12-04 - Return To The North Pole 1

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Title: Return To The North Pole 1

The worst Christmas Eve ever escalates into something unexpected: a sailing ship, spun from everyone's tears, to sail upon the Sea of Sorrow to confront an unexpected foe at the North Pole.


Pink Moon Stick, Yumi Ohzora, Usagi Tsukino, Mikoto Minagi, Nori Ankou, Nagisa Misumi


Possibly in the liminal space between reality, metaphor, and Christmas Eve?

OOC - IC Date:

12/4/2021 - 12-24-2015

<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.
<SoundTracker> A Strained Tension - FWPC OST - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVh9ry5eztA

A warm front has blown in just in time for Christmas Eve. The streets are sloppy with grit and wet. No ice, not even really any slush; just a chilly, sticky mud that gets on, and in, everything. Yet it isn't even sunny, but a dismal gray overcast with the occasional patch of clammy fog, stirred from the surface of an ocean that wasn't expecting all this evaporative heat thank-you-very-much, and isn't at all sure that it likes it.

The people of Tokyo suffer from no such ambivalence.

Tempers are high, and tensions are higher. On the biggest scales, there are rumors that geopolitical conflicts between China and its rivals may finally spill into all-out war; there are a lot of very serious people on TV all the time saying very serious things. But on the smallest scales, too, it's as though it isn't Christmas Eve at all -- almost as though it's the opposite. Pedestrians knock one another aside aggressively; the aisles of shops, even grocery stores, are no safe place to be today. Little arguments feel like the worst, most awful fights in the world... and quickly start to really become them.

In short: it is the most terrible, horrible, no-good very bad Christmas Eve ever.

Let's hear the story of yours!

OOC: This should be self-contained; after this round of vignettes we will be skipping to nightfall.

Setsuna Higashi arrives from Yamanote High City.
<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Yumi Ohzora has done her best with Christmas this year. Her living space is merry, decorated with help from her friends. She has wrapped presents for people. She has helped make sure that Infinity Institute is doing its part for the joy of the season, by helping arrange decorations for others. And she has... well, she still hasn't gotten a date for Christmas, but she has everything else down fine! However...

However: today sucks.

Yumi's friends are all off celebrating, which would be great, except she missed PE today in the nurse's office even though it was going to be a relaxed day with something she could actually do. Then, Hanae and Takahiro were already gone when she got out, and when she went back to her dorm to change to go somewhere, she tried to call her mother and... her mother was too busy to talk.

Then she had an argument with Tama over her schoolwork, and it just felt... so much worse than usual that she had to get out of her dorm, and when she did...

Yumi is nursing a few bruises from being knocked around even at her favorite art supply store. Her favorite clerk Rina wasn't even there, which is really a good thing because it means she wasn't working Christmas Eve, but only made Yumi feel lonelier. And it's cold.

It's really, really cold, and Yumi doesn't like being cold. So she's miserable, sore, and freezing, and that's just what Christmas is so far.

In short: it sucks.

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Usagi Tsukino has waited in line all day! As grey and gloomy as it's been, she's preoccupied herself with her phone - which ran out of batteries forty nine minutes ago, though she's been looking up frequently at all the arguments that are boiling over in the line behind her. However, she's at the front of the line!

"Here you go Ojou-chan. Have a Merry Christmas."

Usagi Tsukino is handed over a shopping bag containing the prize-! "Yes! Thank you so much-! Chibi-Usa-chan is going to be thrilled-!"

A limited edition Jewel Watch in pink with a special variant Ruby! The tired shop owner smiled kindly at her... before turning to the rest of the line. Usagi Tsukino stood aside, admiring her prize.

"And that's the last of them everyone! We're sold out."

The immediate explosive reaction from the crowd was overwhelming.

"Sold out!? I've been waiting in line all day!"

"You think we're leaving empty handed!?"

Suddenly... Usagi Tsukino felt numerous eyes boring into her. "A-Aha... ha... w-well would you look at the time? My mother was expecting me back home already and..."

Even as the crowd of angry shoppers started to converge in her direction.


Usagi Tsukino stomped down the sidewalk, "What is wrong with them!? I'd already paid for it - and then someone just... takes it!?" Like she was innocently aghast at the idea of that kind of theft.

"Now what am I get her for Christmas?" With a dejected sigh, she stood in place in the sidewalk - only to get shoulder checked by a pedestrian who was walking right by, "Don't just stop in the middle of the sidewalk-!"

"H-Hey-!" Causing her to stumble perilously close to the side of the road before she catches her footing... right as a speeding truck zoomed by, sending up a spray of sticky sopping mud inbound for a ditch that just covers her whole front side.

Stunned, Usagi stands there for a moment covered in the gooey muck, trying to shake it off once, before letting out a frustrated scream.


Between Shingo laughing at her filthy state, and Ikuko wanting to bring up her end of semester exams which led to an argument between them... this speaker phone call with Naru while brushing her hair in front of her vanity was turning into the highlight of her day.

"Wow... that's rough Usagi-chan." Naru responds with a tone that feels like ambivalence.

Or at least, it was the highlight of her day, until she catches that tone... "What's wrong?" "Nothing. Go on, keep venting if you want..." "No seriously-! If something's wrong I want to know..." Naru suddenly faces forward at the camera and gives her a hard look, "You know what Usagi? It must be nice to only have to deal with problems you're facing - where the worst you're suffering is a bad day."

Usagi Tsukino blinks her eyes with a look of bovine confusion, as she whispers - shocked, "Naru-chan?"

"Merry Christmas, Usagi. I've gotta go."

The screen goes dark, and Usagi sits in silence and misery... stunned and staring, with a look like she doesn't know what she did wrong. It takes her some time before she starts brushing her hair again, blinking back the tears.

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

Mikoto DROPPED AN EGG WHEN SHE WAS HELPING WITH BREAKFAST. Luckily, this wasn't quite the disaster it could have been; eggs can be cleaned up. But it made an entirely unsatisfactory smush, rather than a satisfactory crack, and it really set the tone for the rest of the day.

She's out of the dorm, right now; Mai has her own business to take care of during the day, and with how the morning went, Mikoto is pretty sure she should ask her if she wants to take a break from her myriad responsibilities later. (Maybe a week later? Setsuna did say any day could be special...) It's winter, so she put on her winter coat, but as the sun rises in the sky it may as well be a suffering shroud. It's white as all the snow that isn't, with extra hints of grey, and its one mercy is that it has large enough pockets to fit the mittens she's since shed. It's open to the air, exposing the pink stretching cat decal of her shirt beneath, the yellow of her skirt -- but there's only so much that can help, without a helpful breeze. The fog is oppressive to her eyes, heavy as the sword-case on her back.

And it's looking like war, say the people on the train, all crammed together like sardines in a hot-pot. Mikoto looks to the pole opposite the one she's grasped, that miserable scowl on her face, as she listens to entirely normal people worry about the fighting reaching them. There's one young man especially preoccupied with whether he'll have to fight. He looks like he's only ever fought one of those spinny chairs with the bars on the bottom which move them up and down, and he probably lost that fight, too.

... she misses her stop.

Mikoto, who for all she's grown is still not even five feet high, is easily tossed-about in the aggressive crowds out today. When she stops at a konbini, it turns out they're out of chicken sandwiches, and only have spicy options. She ends up getting a bag of jerky. It is sad dry meat when she really wanted something juicier. Someone ends up knocking the bag out of her hands before she's finished eating it anyway, because they're in a hurry to get... where, exactly?

And then she steps in a mud puddle because so many people are pushing, and has to deal with the feeling of mud on her tights for the rest of the day, because getting BACK on the train and going back to Ohtori just to leave again is a nightmare her senses aren't ready to take on. It's a choice between the horrible overwhelming feeling of too many miserable people in a hot train, or the itchy-smelliness of damp dirt. Mikoto doesn't like this choice terribly much, but she has been firmly instructed that yes, you need to wear shoes in Tokyo, so she can't just take them off.

"I don't like it," she grouses, to herself, and not just herself, as she escapes up a fire escape to go hide on a rooftop for a while.

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpBFOJ3R0M4

Christmas Eve:

The weather is the only thing that Nori Ankou can speak well of; she appreciates a clear blue sky and a sunny shine, and she would prefer a bracing chill and the familiar sensation of snow settling out like a radiant jeweled blanket, filling the air with coolth and strange shapes. But greyish, foggy and damp...

At least it's familiar.

Because today --

In the morning, she tried to call her mother, and she couldn't get through. Breakfast was indifferent eggs over last night's rice, and not much else. Batiste had gotten a cold, and so there were no encouraging antics to brighten up the day.

In the later morning, Nori had gone out to get something. She had walked past displays and messages, intent in part to get some fresh shellfish for the benefit of Batiste and in greater part to just sort of... be around. Cars went too fast; her boots were splattered.

For lunch, she had sat at a cafe, and someone moving too fast had born over the tall glass of a special beverage she had gotten, spilling it into her food. Aghast, Nori had sat there, but she had felt then a familiar sort of choke on the back of her throat, something that was rare now but which had come to her more often, not that long ago. That feeling had a sense of obscure terror to it. It was *good* that it came now only occasionally and faintly.

She left, paying for everything.

At the fish market, Nori had been considering when someone snapped behind her, with the querelous tone of justice, "Are you going to just STAND THERE ALL DAY? Move over, already, before they go bad --"

She couldn't say anything. Eventually, she got frozen shrimp - it wasn't bad - but it was a compromise.

The tears came around mid-afternoon, when the shrimp were thawed and the seasonings were all ground in the mincer. She did not let them come out of her throat, not wanting to worry her quadripedal housemate, but it was like a thick cork in her throat - her face crinkled, and the tears came down her cheeks. There was no reason for them. They kept coming as she fried up the little dish of get-well food, and she didn't say anything when she set it out; a sense came on her that she couldn't look anyone in the face, right now.

It was, perhaps, not the best time to get on the train. It was crowded, it was close. She got off four stops after getting on - having intended to go nine more, to sit in a cafe somewhere in Harajuku and be alone or with only the cats of Earth for company - but the crowd and the press was too much.

Out on the street, in front of a station she can't quite tell, Nori sits heavily on a bench. She breathes heavily, for some time, and then she gets out her phone.

A number, recorded some time ago. A name. Kumada: Nori holds the phone with both hands and raises it to her ear.





There is that subtle sound when it is about to go to leave a message, and at that point Nori's hands go slack and the phone lands on her lap. To add insult to injury, perhaps, it lands face down, and there is enough electric tension in the faintly mud-spattered skirt she has on to 'hang up'.

<Pose Tracker> Nagisa Misumi [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

Ever since the pink thumb of Nagisa's knit winter glove tore, she has belonged to the elite group of Juuban students that have touchscreen-friendly gloves. Too bad her new phone doesn't have a touchscreen.

It's her own fault really. Her old phone's battery held a charge about as well as a skittish bull at an Akai Mirai show, but it would have lasted at least another year. That is, if Nagisa had not beaten it up so bad that when it plummetted beneath the waves at the beach, it could only be deemed a merciful retirement for the hard-working device. Her parents had not budgeted for a new one this soon, and Nagisa had messed up her lacrosse stick around the same time... she's lucky she has a phone at all.

Texting with a push-button keypad in the Year of our Queen two-thousand-and-very-almost-sixteen can do a lot to make a teen girl feel unlucky, especially with an unnecessarily cold left thumb. And crammed into a busy Yamanote Line train littered with gritty winter puddles, with overdue make-up homework stuffing her bag, ought to be enough to enforce that view on Nagisa's fortunes. Yet as she painstakingly taps out her hiragana, her little smile is not so weary that it does not have a faint, sad hint of the same, silly joy it usually has when she is texting, because most of her texts go to the same girl.

That girl, Honoka Yukishiro, is busy today. She's supposed to text when... if, she frees up. It may not happen; right now it sure feels like it definitely won't. There are days like this. There have been worse ones too.

But even on bad days, there is no one luckier than Nagisa Misumi.

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

Gloom has settled over the city with the coming of night. It really is as though all the joy of the holiday has somehow been replaced with misery; like the salt and sugar shakers got mixed up on the emotional tabletop, only with way more serious consequences.

It is long past time for good boys and girls to be in bed, or at least in their bedrooms, which are ideal sulking locations -- and now is a good time to sulk, after that horrible day. But whether a magical girl is in their room or no, they find themselves interrupted by their mascot.

"Trouble! Big trouble!" yells Mepple.

"I have an evil feeling..." mutters Tama.

"We have to go. Right now!" demands Luna.

"Once upon a time, there was a prin~cess~" yowls Nagi.

Batiste's whiskers twitch. "I smell..." He looks up at Nori, and puts both his little forepaws on the back of her hand. "...home."


Alternatively nagged, begged, harrassed or simply told, those guided by the (usually) fluffy and adorable mascots take to the evening streets (or rooftops and lampposts, depending). It should almost feel like a relief, that perhaps all of this awfulness from today can be confronted, defeated, by punches, lovebeams, sparkles, etc; but unfortunately 'relief' is apparently close enough to 'joy' that it isn't quite coming through the way it ought, this silent night. Just getting across town feels exhausting, and that's with the city having mostly emptied itself behind closed doors.

It's too quiet. It feels desperately lonely. Exactly the opposite of how Christmas Eve ought to be.

The mascots converge on Uminari Seaside Park -- specifically, the railing overlooking the actual Bay. One of the furthest edges of Tokyo, in its way. The neon haze of the city proper makes it feel very much as though, here at water's edge, one is looking out into a pitch black void, but with fire creeping up from behind.

But the water itself is... different. Normally, it smells of the particular and specific brine of this part of the world.

Tonight it smells of tears.

It is tears...

The Sea of Tears.

<SoundTracker> Ocarina of Time - Title Theme - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nzm6fy2qck

It is vast and dark and empty like Tokyo feels vast and dark and empty tonight. But there the familiarity ends. Some, who have visited this place in La Sirene's company, may recognize it from past experience; but it takes no precedent to know it to be somehow otherworldly, somehow extraordinary, something that is not supposed to be here, some place that does not belong.

For this water is vast in a way that the ordinary Bay should not be vast. There are no lights from other vessels, no lights from buildings across and adjacent to channels, lights that should be there, reflected, refracted, now lost; it is immense and those who behold it know, in a way that even the regular old ocean fails to fully, or at least as fiercely convey, that they are so very, very small.

Why is sorrow's sea lapping against the Tokyo shore?

Batiste looks out over it soberly. This is not a happy homecoming. He looks up at Nori, and there's nothing visible in the sky to shine in his eyes. They are as dark as tonight's unlikely sea, and very nearly as sad.

And she knows, when he meets her eyes, that he saw her cry, earlier, after all.

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

Even if they've argued, Yumi knows that when Tama has a bad feeling, it's important. So, she looks up from where she'd been, kind of quietly exhausted already, and watches the old lady cat. "...Yeah?" she asks, and it's not very polite of her to respond that way, but it's how she responds anyway.

Tama explains, soon enough. She has seen a lot in her time. This is another matter. And soon...

Yumi sails out into the air over the rooftops, Tama at the head of her broom, flying along towards the road. She doesn't stay high up; the neon haze of the city takes them to the water's edge, and where they must soon be near to the ground. To the sea. To the...

"What...?" Yumi wonders, looking around at thesea. It doesn't feel like the ocean; she can tell that much. The smell is different. It smells of tears. And it's... Dark. So, so dark.

"I don't understand," Yumi says softly, looking out over the Sea of Tears. ...Her eyes are a little red. But maybe they should be, here.

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Usagi Tsukino jogs through the streets, panting for breath - not the most fit girl she.

Right now she's in her pajamas, soft pink pastel with darker pink outline and a small bow on collar, a coat hastily thrown on. She hadn't even had time to put her hair back up before Luna had forced her out the door, her blonde hair quickly becoming a messy tangle in the chill breeze as it whips behind her.

"Wha-What's... emergency... Lu... Luna?"

"You'll find out when we get there!"

It's been such an awful day already, but despite not being in a hurry to make her day worse - she's been running as fast as her legs and lungs would allow.

Usagi hits the railing, her ungloved hands already cold enough before gripping the railing. Leaning over as she looks upon the water. The sea breeze bracing against her unshielded face.

Until she takes a small sniff.

It's a familiar smell. It's one she knows well - it's one that still lingers on her cheeks from not long ago, but even if it were not - it's still one she'd recognize.

After all, most people in her life have accused Usagi Tsukino of being a cry baby.

"Something's very wrong..." Usagi utters the obvious, after all, the mascots had led them here. It's an unsettling sensation that gets under her skin. "... What are we supposed to do...?" She does not know it is the Sea of Tears... all the same, her eyes may wander to Nori anyway, looking for answers.

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

The day just keeps getting worse. Soon enough day becomes sunset, all painted bloody shades, and then the sun disappears. This does not provide nearly as much relief as it ought, the way all these all-together buildings trap the heat of the day... but it's something, at least. Enough time to sulk -- on a different rooftop, now, Mikoto's been moving around throughout the day -- and wonder what the point is of going home, when today turned out like this.

What sort of day did Mai have?, Mikoto wonders. Will she have a dozen bad things to say about the people around her...? When Mai is stressed, Mikoto gets stressed, too. Maybe she should stay out a little longer...

And so it goes, along the hours, until the crowds have thinned out enough in the streets for Mikoto not be able to justify staying away any longer. She thinks: Mai will worry. Mikoto is better at coming home at night, these days.

But on that journey back, there comes a yowling --


And Mikoto only has bad things to say about him, entirely too cross, but at the same time, she thinks -- if something is wrong enough for Nagi to be here, she'd better take care of it, or else he'll visit Mai, and then Mai will have to fight. She chases him across rooftop and gutter and signpost to the bay, and comes to land on the railing, heels hanging over the edge of the metal, one hand to either side of her legs.

She sniffs, the sound cutting through the air. Her nose crinkles.

Mikoto has never visited the Sea of Tears, but she has heard its tales, one sister, six brothers. A princess, once upon a time... it nags at her and doesn't quite cross into her awareness, this sensation that the sea has shifted, that it is something different, now.

"Ocean's wrong," she says, elaborating on Usagi's unease, and she looks for Nori, too.

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCHUw7ACS8o

For Nori there was no easy resolution, or rescue, from that station bench. Sometimes there are such things, but more often there is simple endurance. Persistence, as long as you can persist, however that may be. After about thirty minutes, she went back in, got on the train, and went back to Shinjuku.

She went and sat in a park in the damp weather, well alone, for an hour; and that helped. It was getting to night at that point. An attempt to go into a beef-bowl restaurant got a door nearly slammed into her face; in the end, dinner was a half-price bento, a bottle of juice, and two packs of Lawson fried chicken nuggets.

After this, she put on something on television. A foreign movie with subtitles is playing - Nori has not really seen it for the last half hour - when paws touch her hand.

Nori looks at Batiste, then.


And she manages to break that inadvertent oath of silence extending over most of a day to say -

"The sea...?"

It was, at least, easier to speak, to move, to think about such matters than about.... Was it the magic that buoyed her, or was it the fact that if nothing else she could hold onto that? Even if mother did not want to return her calls - even if Yuuichiro Kumada was not inclined to take calls from acquaintances on Christmas eve - even if the reason WAS the thing that some part of Nori darkly suspected - well, they could not touch what she had done in the city. What she had seen, who she had loved, who she had saved and seen condemned.

Nori is standing on a rock facing towards the vast gulf. Against the eerie totality of the darkness of the bay - no distant shore lights, no other side, no nothing, simply the Sea in its grand and great deeps - she is easy to see. Almost grayish. She is gazing out to sea as others come.

Her eyes turn downwards, to the small furred form -- and meets black eyes with blue. Her lips purse for a moment. She is, almost, about to cry again. But instead somehow she smiles, a moment of guilt but only a shy and tender moment.

Nori then looks towards the others.

"I don't know," Nori says. "I'm shocked, too. I wonder what could have caused something like this. I haven't heard of such a thing, or seen it, either." Looking out to sea again, she says, "There isn't a storm, or anything... it's always closest in a storm. And now, I suppose."

Nori looks out back into the gloom. Half-formed dismal imaginations flicker in the theater of her mind. None of them come together, but visions from news reports. A graveyard. The Sea is not far from a graveyard from a certain set of eyes.

Nori is quiet for a moment after this. Then she shifts her shoulder - a bag that had not been very obvious in the dim light. She reaches into it. What comes out has been seen clearly by Usagi, for certain, and Yumi very likely; it may surprise Mikoto a little, for the Brazen Pharos' form, unawakened, is a rather unpreposessing thing. It has even been repaired, with *tape*, from when it was struck by Shizuru Fujino, half a nation away.

But it is still, in a sense, a light. Nori holds it by its handle and raises it aloft. She looks to the others: "Watch, and tell me if you see anything. You may spot things I do not..."

Her fingers tighten, the subtle grip that raises the brass cover. In a lantern of Earth, that would let the flame's light shine forth. This one, of course, has something far different within - but the tomb-glass casts its own light.

<Pose Tracker> Nagisa Misumi [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

"Honoka didn't see my text yet," Nagisa worries as she walks along the city sidewalk. Her gait is slow, her vision unfocused. She always wore unhappiness on her sleeve. "If this is actually BIG trouble..."

"You can't just ignore danger-mepo," Mepple caws in outrage. "I'm telling you, I SENSED it, mepo!"

"Why do I feel like you're more worried about me wasting your perfectly good sense-ing than about the trouble?" Nagisa teases, putting her hands behind her head to stretch. She almost pulls a stomach muscle when Mepple startles her by popping open his fake "cell phone" clamshell and extends a cartoonishly prehensile neck up to yell at her. "Why do *I* feel like you'd rather find Cure White than the danger?"

"How am I hearing that from YOU?" Nagisa sputters, pounding her chest a few times as if to restart her heart after the jumpscare of a little yellow head popping into her field of vision.

"Such a lazy Pretty Cure," Mepple sighs indulgently, "mepo..."

Gritting her teeth, Nagisa fumes for a moment, then relaxes with an airy smile. "Well, I guess you're right. If Honoka's not there, I can't turn into Cure Black, but I have a legendary hero with me."

"Umm!" Mepple grimaces.

"I shouldn't be scared when I'm with you, right? If I see a monster, I'll just throw you at him!"


"Mepplechu," Nagisa announces, unhooking Mepple's cell phone body and winding up like a pitcher, knee in the air as he starts bawling. "I CHOOSE Y--!!"

Nagisa blinks with a noise like a dipping bird, doink doink. The familiar environs of Uminari are dark, endless. She is goofing around on a plane of dim grief. Frozen, balancing on one leg, she gawks at her surroundings, along with a bug-eyed Mepple, still in her fist, who has likewise forgotten his predicament.

"Eh?" she ventures. "Did... the amount of water suddenly increase?"

Nagisa whips her leg and arm back into position, straightening her back and holstering Mepple in one smooth motion. She is an unfairly handsome girl in serious moments, in a way that lends her an entirely undeserved gravitas sometimes. It is not even as though she seems abashed; she has just switched modes. Her eyebrows, unbleached, are much darker than her hair, lending a slight ferocity to her solemnity as she gazes across the waters, though they lack the lavish, stormcloud weight of her absent partner's brows. Glancing at the other girls, she nods at their assessments. 'Very wrong.' 'Ocean's wrong.' 'Always closest in a storm.'

"Maybe the storm is on its way," she suggests distantly. She seems unable to look away from the water, now that she's had her glance around to the other girls.

<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Carrying You (Cello, Violin, Piano) - Laputa - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAkz6mDzubA

Nori isn't the only one who knows that tears have power.

After all, once upon a time, Princess Serenity revealed herself by shedding a tearful Ginzuishou. Once upon a time, a tender brother dried his cute little sister's tears with a soft touch, or a prince dried a princess', or a Lord did. Once upon a time tears got lost in an island storm so profoundly powerful that it almost began to approach the magnitude of the greater storm, the one inside. Once upon a time a girl cried alone in a hospital room, and remembered that later, when she cried again but wasn't so alone anymore.

They haven't all cried today, but they have cried. And the Sea remembers.

In time with Nori revealing the contents of the Pharos, the clouds part a little way offshore. The light that spills through, languidly, like an unfurling flag in a lazy summer breeze, is something of the Moon and something more. There are stranger constellations in this sky; beautiful and mysterious; there is a baleful red eye, also; and perhaps orange and yellow eyes too, eyes of every color, a rainbow tapestry of stars. And the lantern, too, contributes directly, in a slow, small, profound exhalation of its contents. Silver and shadow dominate but something of everyone finds itself woven, in shimmering starlight, down from the crow's nest, down masts and across mainsails, until it impacts and creates the deck all in one glorious breath, and from there swims outwards into a hull.

It is a ship, giant and ghostly. And waiting. The gangplank touches down, soundless and only a little unsettling in its prismatic translucence, upon the Uminari handrail.

There are many things to find and do on board. Ropes and winches and barrels. A spyglass. A ladder, into the rigging. And, of course, a Captain's wheel...

Tama and Luna seem to be conferring, and then a third catvoice squawks from a catmunicator. "North!" says Artemis, Sailor Venus' companion. "All the way--"

And then the connection sputters and dies as the fog, which has nipped at the heels of the girls the whole way to water's edge, thickens in its roll over the city, losing it entirely to view, but for one light, that pulses with a steady beat. It isn't the tallest or brightest light of Tokyo, but everyone knows it anyway, right away.

Tokyo Tower wasn't made to be a lighthouse, but it will be one today.

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

Yumi doesn't try to listen in on Tama and Luna conferring. It's probably very important cat business, and she's focused on the others showing up here instead. Usagi mentions something is wrong, and wonders what to do. Mikoto specifies it's the ocean. Nori....

"I'll keep an eye out," Yumi volunteers, and wonders too. Maybe the storm is on its way.

...Yumi remembers those days. The Sea knows her well.

"It's beautiful," she comments on the light and the sights that they see with Nori revealing the contents of the clouds. But there, there is a ship. A ghostly ship, prismatically translucent, and... It's... the perfect thing for the moment. Yumi looks thoughtfully over it.


"...I think he's right," Yumi says, looking to Tama as if for confirmation, and then floats forward. She's still seated on her broom, and this takes her up to the spyglass, high above, where she steps off her broom and stows it in the nest beside her.

"I might see a lot," she says, mostly to Nori, and to the others. "I'll follow your lead!"

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

"... I hope not. It's cold enough out here." She complains mildly, Nagisa's way.

Usagi looks upon the Pharos, before leaning over to look at the tape - surprised. Usagi's eyes wander upward, and she puts a finger to her chin, thinking of the time the Ginzuishou sported a crack after Tokyo Tower.

"Why didn't I think of that...?" She whispers to nobody but herself, before nodding to Nori, "Mmm-hmm!"

However she goes quiet as the light spills out of the Pharos, as the lantern begins to form something beautiful, spinning it out of moonlight and stars and many things besides - weaving it into a beautiful ship. "Sugoi..." She says, breathless and awed as she gives Nori a smile.


Once on board... "Hmmm... Yumi-chan's got up high which is good because that's scary. And I don't have my driver's license yet... so I can't steer... Oh I know!" Raising a wand over her head, she calls out, "Moon Power - Turn me into a Beautiful Sailor!"

As a silhouette forms around her in the light of the moon, Usagi Tsukino seems to fade away, before transforming into...


"Reporting for duty Captain Nori-chan!"

Mostly she stands around near Nori and says 'Aye-Aye!' a lot in a way that sounds more like 'Hai-Hai!' That's her contribution, before repeating as Artemis says that over the catmunicator "North!"

Because on ships everyone need to repeat things - she thinks.

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

It's always closest in a storm, Nori says, as if she knows just what this is -- and that is when it clicks into place, in her mind.

'It was Desolation who mastered the charm that would let them sail to different shores through the storm.'

'There isn't a storm, or anything... it's always closest in a storm. And now, I suppose.'

"New charm?" Mikoto asks Nori, concern creasing her brow. She looks to Nagisa, and thinks she would prefer the answer of a storm not yet come, considering the alternative.

The Pharos surprises Mikoto, heart beating faster in her chest, but not for the reason which might spring to mind. Rather, as her fingers tighten around the railing, she remembers black glass damp as tears, how different under her fingertips -- here she tries and does not entirely succeed in averting the thought that it felt wrong.

The earth does not bleed as the sea does, but it is all black, black glass. Her mind glances off the word for it, even though Nori told her, and...

She looks to it and she looks away, a little self-conscious, in the moment. The light of the Pharos illuminates the wistful expression in her eyes, as she wonders how different it might have been, if she hadn't taken the difference as a gulf between them. Up to those eyes, and away, and Mikoto springs back off of the railing, to stand with the others. "... is it okay?" She asks Usagi, who always finds herself entangled in magical business, even though all Mikoto has seen her defend herself with is all those tears. She's worried about her, but she scarcely wants to drown her in that concern; she knows just how that feels. And not just with Mai, but...

A hand comes up, to brush against her cheek, and it's not her fingers she's remembering.

Down comes the gangplank; with a confirmatory look to Nori, Mikoto ventures onto it, wobbling a little as her sense of balance adapts to the rolling sea. Once she finds her footing, listening to two-point-five cats (Mikoto would never deny their wisdom) -- immediately she sets upon those knotted ropes, and starts climbing up and up, hand over hand, using her momentum to swing this way and that. Clamber, clamber, she makes her way up near to Yumi, who took a different route up entirely.

"A vast temple, right?" She asks, she remembers, looking out over the black, black sea. "That's what's out there... real far north."

<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqxtRTYBRZ8

The eyes gleam in the sky. Nori breathes in and out. She did not see this often.

Something is coming...

Tall and gorgeous. Wrought together. Woven, perhaps. It is not a hostile ship. As it comes to them, Nori swallows for a moment, and she feels her eyes prickle, and she looks at the others and she says, "North?" to Artemis, but that seems to be the order of the day.


Yumi is the first person on two legs to speak. Nori takes a deep sharp breath, lets it out, and says, "Yes," before she slides her hands into the pockets of her coat. "Alright."

To Nagisa, Nori says, "If it's a storm in fact, then perhaps we shouldn't tarry. Storms are more dangerous near shore... out at sea, it's not so great either. But at sea, you only have to worry about the waves."

She walks up the gangplank, then, looking round, the Pharos held in her hand despite the search for warmth in her pockets. (She can't quite find the warmth, but it's not so bad right now.) As she walks on, she sees no persons, beyond their party.

And then Usagi reveals herself as a beautiful sailor. Who could have suspected such a thing? "I don't know quite what we will need to do, other than making for the north," Nori tells Usagi the Sailor, even as she looks towards Mikoto. "They say so... I don't know if it's all the way north. Most of what I heard... it was stories from the tropics."

"Because the tropics are not always warm," Nori says, as she approaches the wheel. "But they're usually... ah... livable..."

She rests a hand on the wheel. The fog is thickening.

"Miss Tsukino, please make the lamps ready. And ask them to loose the sails, because I do not think we want to tarry," Nori says. Then she considers, looking out the window. "Tokyo Bay points south... does it not? So we will have to hook round the Bousou peninsula. But I cannot see it..."

"Check the spyglass?" Nori says, and then

It feels fateful. She turns the tiller wheel left, putting her other hand upon it. Not left, quite, is it? No, to starboard.

"If there is no far end of the bay, then... we should go as fast as the wind will take us!"

<Pose Tracker> Nagisa Misumi [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

Nagisa's wide eyes flood with too much awe to let much comprehension in, as a ghostly miracle ship appears before them. She starts to lift her palm to touch it, then lets her hand back down hesitantly, about to look to Nori for her approval. But as Yumi hops onto the crow's nest and Mikoto climbs up to Yumi, Nagisa takes their word for it on the ship's solidity--Yumi is a witch, after all. Instead, turning, she looks back, following the direction of the ship prow as if it were the gaze of a living thing.

She has been half-aware of the cat chatter, and as she turns, it cuts off. Nagisa looks down at Luna, eyes soft. Then, on the soft feet with which gentle humans approach a cat, Nagisa walks to Usagi and Luna. Usagi may at first think Nagisa has something to say to HER, as Misumi-senpai is tall and her gaze would be downward regardless of whether she approached cat or senshi. But when she reaches Luna, she kneels and extends a hand. Humans are big, heavy lunks compared to cats, but Nagisa's palm rests gently on Luna's back despite its weight.

"It's okay, Luna," Nagisa assures her. "Artemis is safe, and he's looking out for you."

Whether Luna was worried or not (she certainly hadn't voiced it), she finds herself bathed in a comforting glow of true concern, the likes of which can wrap past the barriers between humans and beasts. Nagisa is a far more boyish girl than one finds in the tapestries of unicorns and maidens, but is her beauty any less pure? The smooth lines of her face are softened by both affection and the slight sadness of sympathy.

A few moments pass, and Nagisa gives Luna a little it'll-be-okay nod.

"Just humor her, Luna," Mepple tells his fairy friend from his half-open cell phone, resting on a squishy blob of his own cheek as casually as if it were a bent elbow. "You're a black cat and Artemis is a white cat," he explains with brotherly benevolence, "so it made her all sad without knowing why when you couldn't hear him anymore, mepo."

"What do you know?" Nagisa sputters, recoiling her hand away from Luna in embarrassment.

"I am wise in matters of the heart mepo."

"Do you know how weird it sounds when you say 'mepo' after something like that?" Nagisa stands up in a huff. Turning, she follows Nori up the gangplank, with some haste.

Once she's on the ship, however, Nagisa seems at loose ends. She is not a fairy, or a Sirene, or a witch, and she lacks Mikoto's familiarity with this realm, and Usagi's cute uniform. What she does not lack, entirely, is experience on the open water. But this is a double-edged sword.

"Just the waves..." Nagisa echoes Nori softly. With a shiver, she walks towards the aft of the ship. "Sails, sails," she repeats to herself, as she starts pulling at likely looking ropes.

<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.
<SoundTracker> In The Presence of Another World - Blue Oyster Cult - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGmJaHsL62g

Although the recently melted mud was cold today, the air was unseasonably warm. And that continues, even intensifies, as the ship casts off from land and is engulfed by the enormity of the Sea. It feels, not pleasantly, like a fragile little toy, tossed effortlessly by the waves. They are not storm waves -- but they are more than big enough even in this relative 'calm'. It will take some time to get one's sea legs -- and during that time, the typical symptoms are perfectly possible; discoloration, nausea, being sent sprawling by an unexpected drop.

So the sea is hard in a mundane way, but the ship itself is supernaturally easy. It wants to be sailed; and it yields with childlike eagerness to the hands of those who would sail it. Her. It's always a her, isn't it? And there is something fundamentally feminine in the vessel. Her ropes uncoil at Nagisa's touch and feel, just for a moment, like long, long hair. Yumi finds the spyglass fits entirely perfectly to her eye, and though it's feather-light it isn't without its own weight. Mikoto learns that the rigging is embracing her like an old friend -- or one of the newer ones, perhaps -- like a TRUE friend. Surely she cannot fall. Beneath Usagi's feet, the deck may buck and pitch, but it also catches her, every time, when she's about to go over. And the wheel in Nori's hand, against Nori's palm, could be Mami's. Or Sayaka's. It's so, so familiar.

Though she isn't entirely Nori anymore. Out here on the Sea of Tears, these girls drawn into its adventure and embrace, the truth of themselves is laid bare, one way or another. For most of the girls that means the familiar strength of their henshin, which for those who did not initiate, comes over them gradually and subtly rather than all at once, between waves here, between heartbeats there, until suddenly they realize they're in the fullness of their power. Fullness, through a mirror not darkly but a little bit unusually -- for something particularly nautical has worked its way into their costumes; even Miroku's case is sporting a cell phone strap-style charm on the handle.

But it's Nagisa who is different. She does not, cannot, become Cure Black; but still her truth cannot be denied. She feels it less like stabbing needles and more like pinpricks, the seaman's tattoo that manifests out of her skin rather than being bored INTO it. And when she rolls up her sleeve to investigate, another sleeve is bared beneath it, glowing faintly with neither moonlight nor starlight but White light.

Batiste has a First Mate's headscarf and has perched himself comfortably upon La Sirene's shoulder. He sniffs the too-warm air.

"All the way north," the otter repeats. He glances over both their shoulders at Sailor Usagimoon, or perhaps the Moon Sailor. "Do you remember...?"

"Remember what?" Tama inquires, reluctantly; he does not like to admit that there's something he doesn't know.

But even the invocation of what was seems to be remembered even by the sea. It has passed through innumerable shades of gray in recent minutes, perhaps recent hours -- time has little meaning here -- but is starting to turn just a little bit purple. A queasy, ill-favored tone, and at its current saturation, which is minimal, already very, very ominous in its invocation of another, terrible invocation. Of a wish, a Wish, manufactured from sacrifice... and cruelty.

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

Yumi is fine with being up high! Which is good, because flying taks her into the sky an awful lot. She looks down with appreciation at Usagi's cute sailor outfit, but focuses more at first on Nori for the moment. Mikoto mentions a vast temple, but...

"Aye-aye," Yumi answers Nori with a smile as she says to check the spyglass, and does. She finds it perfect; she can see through it easily to the future ahead, to where they have to go. "That way," she says. "No obstructions here." She points!

...And then awww. Nagisa and Luna. Tama regards them, and her tail flicks in something that could be amusement or could be approval, depending on how one looks at her.

Yumi waves to Mikoto, as she clambers up. "Hi there."

But Yumi is a witch, and therefore can appreciate the sea. That's how it works, right? But the too-warm air...

As Yumi finds herself staring out into the distance under the brim of her great black hat, Tama downthere looks to the otter after her question. She is, ultimately, a cat of Earth; the Sea of Tears is outside her purview, a strange place that she does not know. Ships are not so strange, though. She has accompanied many a fisherman out to the day's catch... And gained for herself a bit of it in return.

"...Ahead," Yumi says, and her witch's costume in black fabric and green leather suits the sea well enough already, but there is a touch of kelp and not just ivy at her broom, in places. "It's getting... purple," she comments, thoughtfully. She is not so cold anymore.

The Staff of Lost Ivy gleams, its crystal bright in the darkness, soft green light shedding from white wood. There is at least a sense of calm, of peace that emanates from it, despite that ill-favored tone.

<Pose Tracker> Usagi Tsukino [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

"It's okay! Mostly from what I know Captains just need to look really inspiring." Usagi then leans over to Nori, "You're really good at that, you're a model after all. Anyhow! We'll do this for you-!"

"Hai-Hai! Readying the lamps Captain Nori-chan! Loose the sails Mikoto-chan!" As she busies herself lighting lamps, the deck may buck, but for some reason... as clumsy as she is on this rough seas, she's not fallen once.


Luna hadn't said anything, she'd just been staring at the catmunicator a little long after it cut out. Which is when the warmth of Nagisa's palm touches her first, and then her concern concern rolls over her in her words, and the cat turns her head, looking up at Nagisa's comforting boyish face.

At first her reflex was to be snappish in her dismissal - the idea that Artemis and her are close is a touchy subject, but something about the feelings in the moment don't... evoke that out of her. Instead, she says quietly, "Nagisa... chan... you're... you're rig-"

'Just humor her, Luna.'

Luna gives Mepple in his cell phone this phenomenally annoyed look but doesn't actually say anything until he says it's about them being Black and White. "It's not about that! Geez - you're lucky we have Yumi-chan on lookout - someone might need to call 'fairy overboard' if you keep talking to Nagisa-chan like that."


Yet it's when Batiste says 'All the way North. Do you remember...?' That Usagi stops her busying with the lamps for a moment, to look his way. Those blue eyes of her look so sad for a moment, even if she's still smiling at him. "I remember... I don't think..."

It's a good thing perhaps that Rei, Ami, Makoto and Minako aren't here. Normally it's never a good thing that they're not here, but for just this moment, Usagi is glad they aren't. The sea in this moment has that small tinge of royal purple that reminds her of Queen Beryl's robes.

"... I don't think I could ever forget that..." She says... her voice becoming momentarily distant. After all. Some things are indelibly etched onto the soul.

This she knows better than most.

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

What's the word for hearsay twice over? Mikoto doesn't know it, but she trusts what Nori's told her, even if it's not something she's seen with her own eyes. She has never been to the Sea of Tears, but she is the receiver of honourable words, and she listens closely.

She looks down, and beholds Nagisa extending care to a cat. Luna might be a pretty bad cat as far as cats are concerned -- Mikoto heard her meowing once, and Mikoto is pretty sure she has a better meow than that, even though she's a person and her throat is all wrong for those sounds -- but she is still a cat, as far as Mikoto is concerned. The fact that Mepple has an entirely obvious explanation for why Nagisa is supporting her doesn't diminish the action in the slightest. Nagisa noticed a cat might be sad, and stopped to comfort her...

So, you know, obviously Mikoto is going to defend her with her life from here on out, that just goes without saying.

The pitching and rolling of the ship is something complicated to keep up with -- Mikoto is a parkour exemplar, but she has learned through hard experience to generally select stationary footholds, because she does not have the righting-reflex of the cats who taught her how to climb so cleverly. Nevertheless the rigging is as quick to catch her as Eri's vines or Mami's ribbons, Endo's runic glyphs, Mai's arms. It would be easy for something like this to be entangling, ensnaring -- but the rope, it seems, isn't that old. She manages to clamber her way over to the tops of the sails to help Nagisa with them, just as Sailor Usagi directs her.

A HiME summons their weapon to enact their magics, but Mikoto's Element is not the same Materialising Equipment as her fellows; it never seems to dematerialise. Miroku is always with her, and all that keeps the truth of her strength at bay is that veil she throws over it, a black sword-case which may as well hold a nine-iron over a claymore. There are no enemies on the ocean -- except, perhaps, the lurching feeling of her stomach not quite following the rest of her when the ship pitches to a particular degree -- so she has not drawn her blade, and yet, with the addition of that little charm on its strap...

"The Sea sees us," she says, to a witch, up there by the crow's nest. She is disquieted, and draws close to the Staff, all spilling over the edge of the wood into the high-up refuge.

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

The ship wants to be sailed.

Nori doesn't worry too much about it - she had a suspicion this wasn't a lighter or a sloop or the great vast yacht exactly. The ropes, the sails, the deck, the sea. Nori feels that warmth of the wheel. It is familiar. It's -

It almost hurts to feel something so familiar. Her eyes crinkle for a moment, tears almost welling.

And a moment later, and a moment after that, she is dressed differently. Look away and it changes bit by bit. Coat, gloves, boots, hair, makeup, all of it moves into place. Batiste joins her, and she smiles at him. "Yes," she says.

"But why north? There was that temple in the Sea's realms, or so they say. But they say a lot of things, and I know a lot of them are lies; or if they aren't lies, they're only true in a, you know, an emotional sense," la Sirene muses.

"Purple... is it the sea at large?" la Sirene calls to the Witch of the Lost Ivy (the rigging, perhaps?) "Not a creature?" You never know.

"It does," la Sirene tells Mikoto.

"All the way north... but in this warmth, would there be ice? I do not know where we are sailing. Just the direction."

"Mr. Mepple," La Sirene says, "could you check the barrels? If this journey is long enough and these winds don't stay with us... We might need what is in them. But I don't think a ship like this would come, if we could not make the voyage."

She may not quite realize that she is asking the fairy to do quartermaster duty.

"Mikoto! Are you well up there?" la Sirene calls up. (She was not surprised at Mikoto taking to the rigging, of course, but a ship is a little different from a tree, even in a wind.)

<Pose Tracker> Nagisa Misumi [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.

"Th-that's not true, is it, mepo?" Mepple demands of Nagisa. He doesn't want to be a fairy overboard. "J-just because I look like a cell phone doesn't mean you can drop me in the ocean like one."


Nagisa pauses her walking of the deck as she notices Nori's attire growing more gothic. Looking back, she sees Yumi wearing her hat, staff decorated with sea plants. Mikoto was as over-armed as ever to begin with. Usagi is a Sailor-Sailor Scout. Setting her jaw, Nagisa sighs. Without Honoka, should she have even boarded this boat?

Frowning, Nagisa shifts and looks down. Her scarf is tied differently than she remembered. Where it had once between folded across itself casually, it is now bound into a loose, lazy approximation of a bow. Reaching up to unbutton her jacket, Nagisa shrugs it onto her elbows, and startles at her attire. Her upper school uniform has been reduced to just the dark red vest, which is now embroidered at the edges. The blouse is gone, and though the undershirt remains, it is a tank top that leaves her arms bare. And running down both arms, from her well-muscled shoulders over the hard curve of her triceps, terminating at last halfway down her forearms, are twin sleeve tattoos of glowing white. The pattern is dense--like most tattoos, meant to be taken as a pattern at first glance, with the images that make it up only its texture. Viewed more closely, it reveals a supple tumult of imagery: swan necks forming hearts, a gardenhose fountain, a necklace suspended between soft animal paws, a swingset, a baby goat, a bicycle crossing a bridge...

"Ah," Nagisa murmurs, flexing her fingers experimentally, testing her own reality rather than her own strength. Carefully, she brushes at a corner of the pattern, and when it does not smudge, she lets her hand rest on it, feeling its cool light.

"Mepo-mepo, Captain Sirene!" Mepple agrees. With a poof, he reverts to his natural form, dropping from Nagisa's now piratically-crooked belt. Bounding along the ground, he thumps into one of the barrels with his arms spread in a huge hug, then starts clambering with his legs until he can reset the hug at a greater height. Passing him, Nagisa picks him up a few hugs into this extremely slow climbing method, and drops him atop the barrel. Huffing at the supposed indignity and unaware of his own, Mepple forgets about it quickly enough and starts jumping on one end of the barrel top, trying to lever the other up high enough to grasp.

This time, Nagisa's hand rests on Usagi's shoulder. "We'll be okay," she says. "Batiste and the captain know this place super well. And Yumi's a witch and Mikoto and you are really strong. I, uh," Nagisa scratches her opposite cheek with her opposite hand diffidently. "I might not be very helpful compared to you guys tonight... definitely don't be expecting any Marble Screw, but..."

Mepple is still jumping up and down, starting to make headway on the barrel top. With a soft smile, Nagisa touches her own upper arm, which serves the dual purpose of connecting with the pattern there again, and lending her other arm's emotional support to the one that's already on Usagi's shoulder, which should make it twice as emotionally supportive.

"...I'll be okay too."


With a sudden swing of motion, Mepple manages to slam his side of the barrel top all the way down, causing it to drop him into the barrel. Pivoting, the top nearly fully reverses, leaving only a crack through which a yelped MEPO! reaches the decks.

<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Beryl's Reprise: Night on Bald Mountain - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5pnoSgIuVo

The purple is not a creature.

But it might be a memory.

Like a frog in a pot of water that doesn't realize that it's boiling until it's too late, the storm isn't present until it is here. And then it is everywhere.

Huge, booming waves that could almost be more present in that immense sound than in their physicality only their physicality now defines the whole world. The horizon looms horribly close whenever the ship is in a gutter between swells. And it STILL looms horribly close whenever the ship is cresting towards the top of a wave -- just in time to anticipate the next, bonecrushing drop -- because the sky is nothing but rain, hard, hot raindrops. Teardrops.

The tears of someone who lost their heart's desire. And then lost again, and again.

The tears of someone with nothing left at all.

Lightning! It forks across the sky, and in the singular instant of its existence, lights up a tableau of silhouettes. One has the unmistakable hairstyle of Sailor Moon -- or maybe her mother? -- or does that distinction even matter here and now? Whoever it is is doing what they both did, sending a similarly familiar wavy-haired figure back to the darkness from whence she came. KRA-KOW, comes the thunderous aftermath, and every ghostly timber of the ship shudders with the agony of that loss, and that loss, and that loss.

Again! But this time the violet-lit tempest contains a the 'before' snapshot of another loss; a vision more present than past, perhaps; more of destination than journey. The Arctic, surely, even recognizably -- it wasn't just ANY frosted landscape but an incredibly specific battlefield, one that led to an equally memorable palace. A palace buried under a vast flower of ice, the last blessing of the Ginzuishou, an instant, crystalline tomb.

Once more! And now the 'after'. The same landscape, but with rivulets fast becoming rivers. Nature, unnaturally accelerated... not by sorcery or even heart-magic, but by greenhouse gasses, by climate change, by that impossibly, unreasonably warm front that the ship is sailing through, even now. Huge petals of ice fall off the glacier and into the sea. And what's left of the skull-shaped palace beneath -- much of it collapsed by the battles within it, but still grotesquely recognizable -- is, for the first time in a few years, easily accessible...

...to the very modern ship, not a sailing ship at all, but some kind of research vessel, that in this diarama seemed to be heading straight for it.

The wind picks up, howling like the damned. It does sound like Beryl, or perhaps Metallia. A scream that goes on and on and on until it is interrupted by another flash of lightning and crack of thunder--

--this one right on top of the ship--

--revealing, mere meters away, the research vessel, not in memory but in reality. Devastatingly present and about to create an apocalyptic future, at least for the lives of five girls (and five more girls who are their friends, and five more, and five more, and five more...)

It is plowing towards the ship at ramming speed and with lethal intent.

And the people who crew it -- who clearly are people, or maybe were people, in their thoroughly sleek iceproof jackets and other weather-appropriate gear -- all of them have that violet, violent Nega-energy aflame in the wells of their eyes.