2021-12-11 - Return To The North Pole 2

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Return To The North Pole 2

Our heroines, out on the high seas of the Sea of Sorrow trying to save Christmas, are attacked by possessed scientists from an Arctic research vessel.


Nori Ankou, Yumi Ohzora, Mikoto Minagi, Usagi Tsukino, Nagisa Misumi


The Sea of Sorrows

OOC - IC Date:

12/11/2021 - 12/24/2015

<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 Nega-energy aflame in the wells of their eyes.

COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick transforms into Negaverse Riders On The Storm!
<Pose Tracker> Nori Ankou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Within the barrels there are a range of Naval Stores, which are mostly something that smells like varnish; others hold salted filets of fish; dried pulses; what must be over two thousand little sachets of a spicy tea; near-black paper wrapping around packages of kanpan. One barrel is full of something dried and whitish, shaped like chili peppers but with a fruity-sweet smell.

The ship sails and the thunder rolls. La Sirene de Diamant, the captain of this ship, does not fear the storm - though she does fear, a bit, for the others. Just a little. And then she turns the wheel, and the vision is limned, seen in persistence of vision more than anything --


The glacier, shedding. "It's melting... the weather must be connected to it, mustn't it?"

"All seas change in time," Batiste replies to her, "but yes -- that is why the seas change now, on Earth. But this is... not Earth, is it? Where is this...?"

La Sirene thinks - perhaps with this wind they should bring in the sail, so that they aren't swept away and past this place, this ominous looming mount of eroding stone (for what is ice but the natural state of water, made molten at a surprisingly lower temperature?)

And then it comes.

The vision is immense and swift. Another ship - this one more familiar, the sort of ship that so commonly lights across Tokyo Bay if you care to watch. Smaller, of course, because it is a *research* vessel, isn't it? La Sirene can recognize the outline - remembers the sight of the one that weighed anchor for two days at one of her favorite places, the Veroni Aquarium - and there are people on the deck and


coming at

the ship



La Sirene feels a sensation she has never felt on the battlefield, quite, although there were moments (mami) that came close at times. Instead there is a certain animating silvered shock and the wheel is turned hard -- to port -- to loop PAST the incoming ship, to make them parallel to each other.

"BRACE YOURSELVES!" la Sirene shouts, and *this* time without hesitation, and so it is easy to hear it anywhere on the ship.

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

Yumi is exhilirated; she isn't afraid of the storm itself, except for a part of her that she would prefer to term 'excited', thank you very much, a loud part beat beat beating in her chest. But that purple worries her. Those tears... That lightning.

The ship. "Ah?"

Yumi Ohzora was not there at the North Pole that day, but she is here today. And there is some kind of ship... and Yumi sees them--


Yumi grabs tight hold of the railing to hold herself in place, already somewhere precarious--her broom helpfully floats beside her, just in case, offering its presence. But there is a vital message she must give, while still here--

"Those are people over there!" Yumi calls. "They look like they're--controlled, somehow!"

COMBAT: Yumi Ohzora transforms into Witch Ivy!
COMBAT: Usagi Tsukino transforms into Sailor Moon!
COMBAT: Mikoto Minagi transforms into HiME Mikoto!
COMBAT: Nori Ankou transforms into La Sirene de Diamant!
<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Nevermore - Dreaming Neon Black https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qp8zbNH24uU

La Sirene muses that some things, if not lies, are only true in an emotional sense, and Mikoto intuitively understands the difference between objective and emotional truth. She has to. It's how she's made sense of so much in her world.

But she asks if Mikoto is well, and Mikoto, righting herself, grasps the sides of the crow's nest with a hand as she waves down to the Siren. "I'm okay!" She says, with vigour. "Stronger than okay!" And, indeed, she isn't being careened from side to side any more, now that charm is unveiling the secrets of her hidden blade; her footing is steady as her grasp.

With saucer-wide eyes she watches Nagisa adjust her outfit and reassure -- Sailor Usagi -- and she asides, to Lost Ivy: "Shoulder markings..." Why would she settle on a comment on that? There are no clues on her arms; they're still perfectly covered, birthmark and all.

Nagi found his way up onto the rigging as well, but he, sight unseen, flopped into it like a hammock, arms all crossed behind his head. He's been of no help at all, except for when the storm CRASHES overhead, a wave flinging him over onto an opposite pole. He swings about it, gesturing broadly, all sing-song salutations: "We're heee~eeere~!" It's a raucous voice which seems to ride the crest of the noise, rather than be drowned out.

And all a sudden Mikoto can't comment on the commonalities. She's occupied with grasping tightly to the rim of the crow's nest, else she might be thrown into those hungry waves. It's a bird's eye view of the lightning, crashing thundering down; Mikoto is bone-deep familiar with the feeling of that banishment, the spiralling moon.

The changing seas, says Batiste; from them a tomb, thrombic against the silhouette of the snow. All blood must flow. All ice must melt. The crystal demarcation of that palace, once lost...

It was lost, should have been lost, stories told and stances taken. Mikoto had been too distracted from her search by Alyssa's machinations; she'd thrown herself back into the effort, and paid little attention to the plight of the heroic girls who stood in Tokyo's defence. ... in the end, it was Mai who answered the challenge. That was surprising, because Mikoto thought she wasn't involved, either.

She had to think about things, after that. She found a way to justify caring against her duties, navigating concern for what Mai would otherwise have to deal with through the sea of her grim complexity. It wasn't easy, and it wasn't quick.

Flash! This is quick, quick as lightning, quick as screaming, quick as curiosity. "Don't!" Mikoto yells into the wind, as the storm unveils a research ship, sailing fearlessly into the maw of that palace. She may as well waste her breath against the sky, screaming at a memory, a voice subsumed by the howling of ill winds.

(Did she care too late?)

Flash! Not coming but going is the icebreaker, and the ship which trails it. Her pupils narrow entirely the wrong way along as her keen eyesight focuses through the storm, down to the people sailing it, the glow of their eyes. Those enemies, those -- "Lost Ivy?!" Mikoto snaps a sharp question in response to that shock, rope-taut, searching for some confirmation or guidance in the scarce moments they have.

She's jumping down, regardless; her sword-case flies, all caught in the rigging, and when she lands heavily atop the deck it is with Element in hand and feet to the ground. Those people, she hears Yumi define them, with a little shake of her head to clear space for the thought. "... right!" She calls up, a brief curt nod to the crow's nest above, and Mikoto runs for the forward bow of the ship.

She doesn't quite bother stopping, as she reaches that narrow tip; she moves straight from running to spinning, dragging Miroku around, again, again. The rain slicks her snowy coat to her arms; meanwhile the opened back fans around her, a white contrast to her black. It's a wonder she doesn't unbalance entirely, the ship wrenched hard to port, but the counter-balance of that weighted blade keeps her own spiral firmly in place. "MIROKU!" She invokes, plunges her claymore into a dark portal, and from it arcs white light which casts her shadow, twinned, askance and awry.

From that dark, churning ocean, in the space between one ship and the other, there is light -- sparkling, glowing, GROWING -- and what comes from it is a greatsword fit for Gods. Greater than the span of a ship it rises from the waters, its broad side serving as a vast and implacable obsidian wall between them. A sword that wide and massive can, in fact, be a shield, when its edge is not pointed at the enemy.

If they manoeuvre themselves to plow into the flat of that massive greatsword regardless of la Sirene's efforts, the possessed ship, of course, will still have many problems -- but if they're determined to crash into anything, Mikoto would rather it not be their own ship. She's spent enough time being plunged from them.

If they're being controlled, there's only one power which could have taken them. Mikoto doesn't expect it to be unarmed, research ship or otherwise.

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

Usagi's unhappy, abstracted expression is easy enough to read - she wears her heart on her sleeve. The memories of D-Point are some of the worst of her life, even if it also contains a tale of great triumph. Stories are not so simple though that a happy ending leads to one looking back on every chapter fondly.

Far from it in fact.

Though whatever she's thinking or feeling is kindly interrupted by Nagisa's hand. Usagi's big blue eyes blink repeatedly, as she looks at her boyish Juuban senpai with an expression caught between two moment. There's perhaps something dashing to Nagisa in this moment, in the dark vest and tank top, and her well-muscled shoulders. But most of all from her kind words.

Usagi stammers as she looks away for a moment, "Y-You're right... we have a good crew." She says quietly, her expression faintly aglow with pink, "The best. And well... even if you can't use the marble screw tonight..." She dares a glance, as a hand furtively frames her face, "I'm glad you're here with us Nagisa-senpai. I think that's more important."

Lightning flashes and she starts slightly, just a small jump, and it causes her to think of... Chibi-Usa... even before she sees the afterglow of the silhouette. As she peers into the ghostly depths. It becomes more and more uncomfortable there, as she's reminded more of D-Point in the visions, the wind picks up, and she finds herself sinking down, as she holds the rail on the side. Clinging to it white knuckled as her eyes peer just over it.

Even as close as she is to the edge, she mistakes the advent of the ship for... another vision. Until... it's so close that the nega-energy filled eyes cause her to let out a small noise of distress - which might sound like an 'Oh' or 'Scary' if translated into words.

'BRACE YOURSELF!' causes her to reflexively hunker down, while the noodliest sailor arms of all try to lace over the side even as she dips her head over the rail. "HOLD IT RIGHT THERE!" She blurts out with closed eyes, even as Yumi calls to mind the half-formed idea in her head that people are probably controlled, "Ramming us is a violation of maritime law! DON'T DO IT OR CAPTAIN SIRENE-CHAN WILL PUNISH YOU!"

That'll probably dissuade them right?

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

Something bonks the top of the barrel from beneath, knocking it fully closed (but reversed. With a few more bonks, the half-rotation continues, accompanied by echoes of a tiny, muttering spelunker. Then, with a CLONK, the barrel-top completes a full rotation, launching Mepple upward before his soft, lightweight body splats back down. Panting, he sits hugging a salted fish filet.

"Haha, senpai, huh..." Nagisa rubs the back of her bleach-orange hair with a self-conscious grin. "Hearing that from Sailor Moon without even being Cure Black feels weird... but I need to get used to that, right? Every year there's one more year of people younger than me." Some of whom take lacrosse.

"Yossha," Nagisa says, clenching a fist near the level of her chin in a way that spreads the moonlit-glowing ink on her arm in some places and tightens it in others. "If I'm Sailor Moon's senpai..."

"Looks like fish in this one!" Mepple calls.

Nagisa tries to continue. "Then I'm gonna do my best to--"

"Ah~" Mepple somehow sighs and yells at the same time, inhaling the savor of his damp and floppy snack. "I'm glad I was born in Japan."

"Did Captain Sirene say you could eat that?!" Nagisa yells back at him. Looking down at the dainty, all-powerful Sailor-Sailor Moon, Nagisa shrugs helplessly.

It is then that the eerie calm of the evening is shattered by something far worse than a fairy's hunger. Rushing to the front of the ship in a typical combination of stupidity and empathy, Nagisa leans over the railing to try and squint up at the crew of the other ship. "Those are... science people," she realizes, some things about the ship snapping into context, and others linking up more personally to her feelings about Honoka's extended tribe. Tossing her gaze over her shoulder, she considers the rigging, but the scale and complexity of this problem is so beyond her modest proficiency with knots, rowboats, and small boat motors that she gives up--there is simply not enough time. Putting her faith in the La Steering being done by her captain, Nagisa flees back in the direction Nori is turning, so as to not be too close if they scrape past. Catching sight of Sailor Moon's very skinny arms wrapped around the railing, Nagisa shoves a step to change direction, and drops to her knees behind the senshi, grabbing both Sailor Moon and the railing with a diagonal grip like a car seat belt. Looking over her shoulder, her hair blasted away from her face and forehead by the storm, Nagisa gapes at the arrival of the massive sword, then looks up in consternation at its mistress.

"Minagi-chan! They'll crash!"

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

La Sirene and Mikoto both take decisive action to try to prevent this unexpected haunting from ramming straight into their ship, but both of their strategies -- the former making a hard turn, the latter summoning a magical wall -- fail to take into account the third party in this battle:

The sea itself.

And, tempest-tossed as it's become, it is no one's friend tonight.

A swell rises beneath the ship, immediately and gut-wrenchingly carrying her, and everyone, higher and higher into the air. This third dimension causes the attempt at a turn to first founder on the way up -- and then accelerate, brutally, on the way down --

-- on the way down, when the whole ocean, the whole world, seems to roar.

In this moment Nagisa saves Sailor Usagi's life, and the Staff of Lost Ivy saves Yumi's, because the angles for both were precarious and having something -- someone -- to hold onto -- irreplaceable.

The ship is too large to spin like a top but the wave beneath it is uneven in its collapse, and with the rudder in play, the ride down the wave into the next trench is more of a free-fall. One that ends not with the two ships side by side, as la Sirene had hoped, but rather with them nose to nose. (Miroku emerges from the guttering water's surface off somewhere to starboard.)

Of course, the other ship ALSO just had to contend with the wave. It drips from every surface and is listing a little to port. A violet-energy-eyed captain can be seen, through a broken, now-glassless window of the vessel's bridge, gripping the controls with unholy strength. But it isn't the strength of the hands on the wheel that matter, of course. There are other powers at war, here in the middle of the ocean, which render the human (and inhuman) forces in conflict, if not irrelevant, certainly secondary. Below their normal tier of prominence.

There is something of the zombie to their gait. They shamble, these things that were once researchers. But they shamble IMPLACABLY, INEXORABLY, and with an unfair indifference to the angle of the pitching deck beneath them.

It is thus that, despite Sailor Usagi's injunction for them to hold it right there, five of them manage to board across the kissing bows despite the storm conditions, and when, a few seconds later, the next wave comes and drives the two ships apart by more yards than could be jumped, they don't seem too torn up about it.

They have something else in mind entirely, when it comes to tearing things up.

It turns out that the girls were half right and half wrong about them being armed. They don't have guns or anything -- they were scientists, as Nagisa worried. Nor do they have some kind of mystically provided armament.

But their hands... too-pale, moon-pale, swollen by sea and by time... are impossibly strong, and determined to find the nearest enemy and throttle her neck. That means it's momentarily five to four, since Yumi is still up high on her broom.

Perhaps tipping the hand a little further about what's animating these things, of course it's Usagi who draws two.

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Even Batiste, himself a hog for seafood, is in momentary silent awe at the glimpsed view of Mepple just straight up downing a salted fillet of-- something; it tastes kind of like tuna, close enough to probably just call it tuna, yeah? It's not an Earthling fish; but it sure came pre-salted!

"Controlled?" la Sirene murmurs at Yumi's shouted words.

But then!

It happened too fast, too quick. The ship rears back, spray washing outwards, curiously warm (though of course arctic seawater is only warm in relative terms... for now), and for a moment la Sirene thinks she's done it, feeling a surge of pride which soon enough turns into a horrible lurching feeling as she stares forwards, past the gunwales, seeing that their doom is not imminent in the sense of ship collission but THAT INSTEAD



Don't break, la Sirene prays, as they smash the waters.

And they do not; or at least, are not torn to flinders direct. Problems for another minute, another hour, if they have it. Turning her head, she can feel the juddering halt as the bows touch and she cries out, "Scientists? Why are they out HERE? Did they find something-- But, that glacier, it --"

La Sirene is not cut off by new events, exactly. Rather, one of the scientists, glasses furiously agleam in the lights of their nameless boat of the heart, has come up on the deck -- and has grasped at her elegant, almost swan-like neck! La Sirene's blacked-over eyes go almost farcially wide and she reaches upwards to dig her fingers in underneath the former researchers' own --

But this strength against strength is a draw. She tries to kick, to drive her knee upwards, but the researcher was tall -- and the ship is swaying some, even now -- even Batiste running up the researcher's arm and biting at his face isn't enough to break the grip!

She forces herself to breathe in, but it comes slowly. Slow indeed...

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

Yumi had a reason for calling out her suspicion even half-formed--she knows Mikoto well. She has no singsong to help now that it's all gone to the sea, though. Mikoto is busy with her sword, and that's great! Because Yumi... can't interfere at first.

The Staff of Lost Ivy goes crosswise against the railing, Yumi holding on tight to the precious implement as its length lay crosswise to prevent both of them from going through the slats. Water crashes towards her even as high as she is, and she is soaked through when her bones stop rattling.

"Is everyone okay!?"

They are not. There are researchers with iron hands coming towards them, and Yumi drags herself up off the crows' nest and onto her broom to sail down the rigging towards them, sweeping down as she traces a rune in mid-air. There is no incantation for this spell; it's just a sigil of purification, traced in the air, gleaming sea-green, before she points the Staff. A salt-spray scent a beam of cyan-tinged white energy crashes towards one of the two 'zombies' approaching Sailor Moon, oceanic purification igniting cascades of green ripples.

"I'm on my way!"

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

As the ship tilts up, Usagi thumps into Nagisa like a baseball into a mitt, and hanging is quite easy for her. Even as the upward toss jerks higher, Nagisa's grip stays strong. She's even about to say something reassuring when the ship crashes down again, and suddenly attempts to toss her and Usagi OFF the railing rather than tumbling back across their own deck. Feeling their bodies about to swing *under* the railing, Nagisa slaps a foot into one of the posts. Her hand, which had been grabbing her other wrist to create the seatbelt, widens its grip to slide down her forearm and tighten it.

"Hang on," she yelps, as falling proceeds rapidly to its inevitable worse conclusion: ceasing to fall.

The abrupt stop to their momentum knocks Nagisa's forehead against the railing at the same moment it is requiring her to hold onto Sailor Usagi to keep her from being ejected off the side. Doggedly, she does both, her strong thigh absorbing most of the shock, though when Usagi looks back, Nagisa's eyes have essentially become a cartoon X and she looks dazed from the knot on her forehead.

"You okay?" she asks. Then, "Did we hit it?" But no, they didn't.

...not yet.

As the zombie researchers board, Nagisa shakes away her dizziness. Three are approaching her back at the moment, so she releases Sailor Moon quickly, rolling onto her hands, then brushing her knees off as she stands. When she lifts her fists, it is tentative--she is at heart an athlete rather than a warrior, when not Cure Black. But the glow of the sleeve tattoos emboldens her, and her smile takes on Cure Black's excess of sharpness and confidence, though her hair does not.

"You guys can't hear me, can you? Helloooo? We're here to help! ...guess not." She sidesteps to draw the approaching researchers away from Sailor Moon, but with a wide blink, she notices that the two in the front aren't following, and, embarrassed, she sidesteps back, so she is in front.

"You can cure them, right?" she asks Usagi. "Stay back and try it. And meanwhile, let's see how strong this glowing stuff makes me!"

Charging forward fearlessly, Nagisa slings a hard punch across the jaw of the first scientist, then barrels into him with her shoulder, pushing him back a few steps. Doggedly, she fires punches into his torso a few times, then, finding it excessively padded due to the cold weather gear, finishes with a hard, shoulder-twisting hook to the cheek.

Glowing eyes stare at Nagisa with uninterrupted malice. The scientist seems uninjured.

"Uh oh," Nagisa breathes, touching the tattoo on her left bicep. "Do I need to somehow..."

The second scientist, a woman, starts to walk past Nagisa, ignoring her in her pursuit of Sailor Moon.

"Hey!" Nagisa objects, but when she grabs the female scientist by the arm, the one she hit grabs Nagisa by clamping a gloved palm over her face, takes a few steps, and then simply shoves so hard that he slams her directly into the floor of the ship. Stunned and bruised by the floorboards, Nagisa lies between Usagi and the scientists, so they walk past her to get to the senshi.

And, as Nagisa starts to get up, the third scientist approaching drops to his knees, straddling her chest, and completely ignores her hands on his wrists as he wraps his hands around her neck and starts to throttle her.

"S-sailor Moon, help! S-somebody... urk..." Nagisa's sneakers kick on the deck, struggling for leverage.

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

"WE'LL crash!" Is the rough-throated rejoinder to a gentler shade of black, and it may not carry with it the thread of logic which pushes Mikoto to protect their vessel:

If they're going to take those people back home, they can't do it without a boat to carry them.

Mikoto doesn't think to explain it to Nagisa -- the perspective she's taken on defending everyone. And shortly afterwards, she can't explain anything, because they've been tossed in the air in much the way Mai tosses pancakes on a skillet. It seems to Mikoto that the sea might well view them in just the same way -- ingredients to make a meal, with the proper tossing and turning.

The portal closes, but Mikoto leaves her sword -- the one in her hands, not the one in the sea -- buried right where it is, and she is slung around it as the ship pitches up and crashes down, slipping and falling every-which-way. Her grasp is iron around the red thread of Miroku's hilt, and it's all that saves her from being slung up into the clouds to meet Lost Ivy and her broom. Her throaty YIPE, entirely wordless, speaks to the way she finally comes crashing down to hit the deck.

"... Miroku." Mikoto mumbles, as she gets her knees under her again, looks up to see the blade. She coughs out some of that inhaled sea-spray, an unpleasant twist to her lips. Her gaze casts further, to see its gigantic echo -- to see -- "Everyone okay..?"

(It's a wonder she didn't skewer them, she thinks.)

But the ship rocks, all against the other, and -- well, Mikoto was going to have to get these people on their ship at some point if she wanted to take them back home. The fact that they've crossed the threshold on their own, though, immediately puts her hackles up, and she pushes herself to her feet, wrenching at a blade buried in wood. "Stay back!" She warns them, only for the lightning to crash, her nostrils flaring. All a sudden her stance stoops down in something much less conversational -- growling, not reasoning.

This, too, is something she doesn't stop to explain, her realisation that the storm showed them the past, her conclusion about the pale hands coming for them.

But it takes precious moments for her to pull her sword from its seating, twisting around to get leverage against it -- and in those moments, one of those scientists closes into her space. The perils of a wide-space weapon like a greatsword are that one requires the space to wield it; it is an Element designed to keep her foes at arms-length, or further.

Mikoto, turning to find arms beside her, finds the entire matter wholly unpleasant. Her snarl rolls past her throat as she brings the hilt of her greatsword up into the underside of his chest -- something which ought to have winded even the most determined of attackers.

... but, did he even flinch?

She's used to being described as inexorable; being faced with someone else of that selfsame description isn't something Mikoto has felt for a long time. Something more implacable than she is -- well, those hands don't seem to be steel, reaching for her, but their grasp may as well be. She throws up a hand to dissuade one of them lunging for her shoulders, only to find his true target must have been her neck, because that's where the other hand falls.

Mikoto, keeping agrasp her blade, is one hand versus two. It means there's two hands around her neck, in a short and pointed argument between grips.

And Miroku clatters to the ground.

Air is the most vital thing for life, save, perhaps, a beating heart, and that is why the dead centre of a person is the safest place to aim. For that one desperate moment, gasping, pale hands scrabbling on even paler flesh, Mikoto is afraid.

And then she isn't.

Because her hands remembered what her brain forgot; they slip between the scientist's thumbs and her vulnerable neck, and, all the pressure of her strength on those two flimsy joints, she YANKS. Mikoto, who is something on an expert at holding things in an iron grip, knows how important thumbs are to the process. It's that counter-action which stops things from just... falling... through.

In that same motion she steps into the scientist's space, rather than jerking away -- and drops her shoulder and her arm, her own hand sweeping back to pull back on her no-doubt taller assailant's upper leg as she shoves into them. They might never stop, but she's not much known for stopping, either.

Which is when she hears someone calling for --

"Sailor Moon..?"

Mikoto can't see her here, of course -- there's Sailor Usagi, but surely she's different, the magics of the sea just gave her that extra strength -- but she remembers a pool shattered and remade, one desperate night. She can't see Sailor Moon, but still she yells out -- "I'm here!" A HiME, not a Senshi, but maybe disasters can make miracles sometimes too. She had to pay it forward someday.

She has to pick up Miroku from the fallen deck, in that same motion which sent her stooping downwards -- and it's lucky she did, because the waves sent it sliding along, and it would have been out of her reach a moment later. She has to slice at the scientist interested in her neck, too, to get out of his sphere of influence properly for those few moments she needs to charge over to the fallen Nagisa.

She did promise she'd help her, after all, if only in her head. And she remembers Nagisa being worried, too, so --

"Rrgh!" Mikoto grunts, as she batters the scientist at his shoulders with the flat of Miroku's blade, all carried with the force of a freight train that is Mikoto charging in.

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

Sailor Usagi had managed to beam a smile at Nagisa, pure in it's happiness at the idea of Nagisa being her senpai psyching her up. Which Mepple then interrupts, which actually manages to elicit a laugh out of her at Nagisa's shrug. It's so different from her interactions with Luna but there's still a enough familiarity to it that she can't help but laugh.

"If you ask me - your senpai deserves a more mature mascot." Luna pipes in - still annoyed at Mepple from earlier.

As the ship hurtles at them, she has her eyes closed and fearful... when she feels strong arms around her, restraining her in place while telling her to 'Hang on', and opening them she turns her head and see who it is just in time for... "Okay!"

... the sea to swell and jolt underneath them, "AH-!" She cries out, as she's jolted precariously as if to throw her overboard, only to find herself buckled in by her arms. Though, once the momentum stops...

"I'm alright! Are you?" She puts out a fingertip as if to point out the knot welling up on the other girl's forehead and the dazed look in her eyes, "How many?" As she holds up two fingers as if this were some simple jock injury - which to her maybe it is because it's Nagisa! To the other question though, "Um-? I don't... think so."

When she turns around, she freezes as she sees the researchers boarding... "Whatever's got them it must be really strong!" She remarks as they don't simply break out of the trance, as Nagisa charges forward to hammer into the lead of the first scientist. Usagi holds her rod like a belaying pin, though seems to think better of it and reaches for her sailor 'cap'. "I can! Moon Tiara-" Just as she's reaching for it, the woman advances on her, and catches her throat right before her hand touches the brim of that cap. Hands close over her throat, and the tiny Senshi is lifted bodily off the deck. "Gk-ack-" "Sailor Moon!"

Which is right as Seawitch Ivy's blast of sea-green crashes into the scientist, causing her to drop to the deck with a cry of distress, hitting it bodily, as her hands instinctively massage her throat. "Haaaaa-ha..." As she gulps down air, she looks... really looks at the others. Nagisa being slowly throttled on the deck, still fighting! Captain Sirene being held by her neck. "Everyone- I'm-!" She says desperately right as another scientist looms, having slipped past to come at her. Her eyes widen as shock right as Mikoto tackles him like a freight train with the flat of the blade, and she yelps, going down on all fours to crawl as Mikoto and the other scientist stumbles just past her.

Gripping her cap again, she calls out the words, "Moon Tiara-" Despite not having the appearance of a tiara, it still takes on that shining disk like form in her hands, alit eerily in the nega eyes of the possessed scientists, gleaming. It's frightening...

... but everyone is counting on her, so raising herself up fully on one knee, she releases her wrist... "-STARDUST!" and sends it flying, and it begins to rain down sparkling motes of purifying energy that falls from it like gleaming snow upon those below. It's arc taking it straight over Nagisa's assailants first... but it's been spun just enough that it would arc just over La Sirene too, to try and assist her with her desperate situation.

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

La Sirene lets go of the wheel in self-defense.

It isn't really made of wood, of course; this ship is wrought of stranger stuff by far. But it makes a very woody creak as it begins to spin freely -- an ominous sound, made moreso as the next wave drowns it out --

-- and this time when the ship hits the wave, it is side-on instead of head-on.

The deck tilts a horrid ninety degrees for a second, before, with a shudder that suggests, not for the first time tonight, that she is an ally -- she manages, somehow, to right herself.

That abrupt topsy-turvy is an opportunity to gain leverage; it's also an opportunity to lose it. So it is that la Sirene winds up able to duck free, and that Mikoto stumbles at just the wrong moment when the third, unaccounted-for scientist in the Usagi-Nagisa vicinity closes in on her, and winds up grasped again, this time, at least for the moment, around the middle.

But Nagisa is freed by her first, for the not-low price of the scientist's head being smashed into her own face full-force, since it's attached to buckling shoulders. And shortly thereafter...

...the stars begin to fall.

In the current weather it both looks and feels like snow, these oldest signatures of Sailor Moon's heroic journey. They fall at their own leisurely pace, immune to the high winds, lit up by lightning and lighting up rain in turn, either of those at way weirder, more chaotic angles to the deck than the serenely tumbling motes. They feel like sweet, platonic little kisses, motherly or sisterly perhaps.

Unless you're one of the scientists, anyway. Then they feel like something else.

"NO" rasps the one nearest Yumi, as a flake lands squarely on a cheek and immediately begins to smoke. But it isn't burning. It's just... leeching, leaking, nasty violet gas on contact, twirling and twining into the air.

"NOT" says the next one, in the same voice. This is the one that choked Nagisa, and now struggles to rise, only his hands are all over violet and his eyes are beginning to drain like a punctured wound. Now they weep dark energy. But more and more of them are tears.

"AGAIN" chimes in the third, La Sirene's, who slumps to his knees. She gets a good look at the name embroidered on his arctic gear. It says 'Dr. Haruto Akasaki.'

Mikoto doesn't have to work very hard to escape her captor, because he's weakening quickly beneath the assault. "DAMN," he curses, like something someone might say on their own, except that voice is definitely female and definitely familiar, even through the distortions of all these various vocal chords. It's definitely her.

"YOU...!" breathes the last, between mewl and growl.

Nothing is quiet after that; the storm rages on, now with five bodies -- human, still-living, quite unconscious (all of this easy to quickly ascertain) and in desperate need of immediate protection from the next wave. And the next wave after that. And the next.

They'll have to survive this, and ensure everyone's safety, before they can consider their next move.

The same ghastly violet light is still pouring out of the research vessel. It is never far off, and often very close indeed. No one else has tried to board... yet. Probably. With the ship as big as she is, and the weather as nasty, it is possible more possessed scientists could be far closer than anyone can see.

<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

The world reels! La Sirene de Diamant does not get seasick but for a moment, at this second enormous lurch within a few moments and without anticipation from a ride through a funland or at least an accelerating highway, she feels it: And this will bring her great compassion for the sufferers.


Because she is also seeing stars and - wait - the comeback! Batiste slithers past her neck, and she twists away, reaching over to grasp at the tiller JUST at the time when the scientist-revenant stumbles and:

Stars fall, sprinkling, light. A delightful and prismatic thing. Some of the stardust blows through the faint veil of abyssal light-analogue that limns la Sirene, and it glows with complex and subtle geometric shapes as systems of light dance together. (Batiste is star-struck for a moment; la Sirene, tragically, misses it... this time.)

Akasaki, la Sirene thinks as the reeling man's snow gear is revealed to her. But why - and a few moments later, the ghost has left them. The man falls, but this time it is without rancor. She can guide him to the deck, one hand on the tiller.

"Is he--" la Sirene asks, hesitantly.

Batiste checks - probes - administers a light press - "Alive," he reports, "but... numb. It's a complete exhaustion, I think, but..."

The ship lurches - la Sirene rises up, wrestling it into something other than another uncontrolled, heart-stopping drop, and calls out, "Get them below decks! There - there has to be some space there!" (And likely there is, although it may not be elegant - then again, there are five girls, are there not? And so there are most surely five bunks - perhaps even a sixth, to give the smaller guests space to nap as well.)

"Are all of you still there!? Crew, call out! Is Misumi okay!?"

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

Why shouldn't the ship be their ally? She called them in the first place.

Yumi is lucky, in one respect; the deck's tilting does not tip her over. That doesn't make the rough spray of water any easier to handle, and it's only the spells anchoring her to her broom that stop her falling off it completely when the water rushes towards her over the deck.

For her part, Tama is now also soaked, on the broom. "Yumi!" The cat calls out. "Look--the stars!"

Yumi watches those flakes fall, the strange gases and bizarre rasp calls out. Again.... Again.

"I see them!" Yumi says, and Nori gives out directions. Yumi nods firmly. "I'll set up some shields to help us--"

Yumi comes down, and lets Tama control the broom, hopping off with her Staff to start to drag the lightest of the scientists towards the deck, staff out and at the ready to try to deflect the next wall of awter to come rather than lose her grip.

"Is this familiar to any of you!? It sounds like someone knows one of you!"

Then, "Ohzora is OK!"

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

Nagisa's face is red, her eyes bloodshot, from the strength of the hands buried in her throat. Her feet are already kicking more weakly. What a mistake, trying to take on a Zakenna without Honoka by her side, she thinks confusedly. There is purple magic around, in her defense.

Just then, the scientist's head swings down like a mousetrap, struck hard about the shoulders from behind by Miroku. Headbutting Nagisa savagely and entirely by accident, the man releases her, and Nagisa is left sputtering in the wake of her freedom, punished and liberated all at once. It's like she fell out of bed during a nightmare.

"Owwww..." Nagisa sits up with the scientist limp on her shoulder like a baby, holding her nose with her palm, dazed again even as she pants her breath back. "Ahhh," she spies Mikoto, and smiles, hand still on her face. "Tangks," she says sunnily. "Ur a libe saber."

Lovely lights and sparkles from both Yumi and Usagi do the job that Nagisa's fists were woefully underqualified for. Turning her attention to her particular scientist, Nagisa blinks as he starts to rise, taking her hand away from her face. "NOT," he says, as part of a sequence with the others. She wraps her arms around him at first to restrain him, but after a moment, her grip shifts, becoming more intentionally and unmistakably a hug.

"Hey," she says, as he starts to cry. "Hey, it's okay... you're safe."

Softly, the white light on her arm tattoos, which had not reacted to violence, begins to brighten, the strange eyes of the baby goat blurring out into soft glowing nightlights.

"We're gonna take all of you home," Nagisa reassures, her voice calm now. The glow around her is not the same one that drizzles down on her skin, but they are kindred lights, and the one joins the other.

"Nagisa-mepo!" Mepple warns.

Hastily, Nagisa lets go with one hand to brace herself, and spreads her feet wide on the floor to stabilize. She skids a few feet during the first gust, then crawls onto her knees and manages, with a grunt, to hike the scientist onto her back and make for the barrels. Hooking an elbow through the rope wrapped around the barrel bellies to secure them, she hangs on tight, keeping the scientist close and under her arm, while Mepple grabs a single ounce of the man's jacket, holds the rope with the other hand, and forms a single-fairy chain that links the man to the rope from the other side. If he were a climbing rope, he'd probably only be rated for about ten pounds due to his lack of grip strength, but it's something.

"Ahh, where's Finn Fish when you need her, mepo?" Mepple sighs. "It's a fairy saying that when all you've got is cats, the problem's always water, mepo..."

"Is that real?" Nagisa asks. But Yumi's question is more pressing. "Eh? I don't think they know me, anyway..."

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

Mikoto snarls as her momentum is interrupted, looking back to see what Nagisa has to contend to with her rescue. "You're okay..?" Mikoto's voice softens down a notch when she enquires after Nagisa, but it seems that despite having perhaps bitten her lip (or at least that's how it sounds to her), her assailant isn't troubling her any more. Her face begins to light in a smile-- "Good--" only for it to come crashing down in an instant, as Mikoto realises too late she got distracted. Hands about her midsection, the scientist who's caught her now has to contend with Mikoto wresting herself this way and that, a frustrated growl bubbling through her lips instead of any more words.

It would be smarter just to drive her sword backwards, but her friends would be upset... would they even stop to hear her explanation? Mikoto has a very good one for why she doesn't have to worry overmuch about the welfare of these lost souls. She hasn't stopped to tell it.

Her angry writhing is interrupted, then, by something like snow, as the stars fall down.

Mikoto was born with no sisters; she never knew her mother. This, then, is a nouveau sensation, something of Tokyo, though they're not technically nearby. It's a gentler answer than it was once before. She looks down at the smoking arms of the scientist damning -- them? her? -- and rather than wrest herself free, she lifts a hand from the hilt of her blade to grasp his wrist tightly, holding him in place.

"Yeah," she says -- mumbles, really -- as she looks down at that smoking skin, twitching fingers, the dark energy sloughing off it. "I know." Rather than anger, they're words of regret and commonality; she sympathises. If they'd gotten here earlier...

But it's when she's left holding a now-unconscious man up by a wrist that her eyes widen, as she feels something which goes against all her comfortable assumptions. "He's alive?!" Mikoto yelps, louder, and she doesn't quite have time to feel regret for what she did to her prior assailant, because the water washes over them. Fortunately for this scientist, her own grip remains very strong -- though he may well be wrenched about a bit in the rocking of the boat, he's at least mercifully unconscious for it. Mikoto manages to keep her blade-arm away from him, at least, even as the water breaks over her, too; she stumbles on the deck, but somehow, she manages to keep herself from flying off.

Gasping for air when the water leaves her face, Mikoto plants Miroku in the deck of the ship once more -- this time, so she can turn around and pull the scientist more properly into her grip, draped over her shoulder like a fireman's rescue. She's just in time to grab her sword-hilt with her other hand to steady herself against the next wave, and the next, which cannot quite batter her out of place. "Here!" She yells, between waves, sounding all the more harried for it. When Lost Ivy lands, with her shields, Mikoto wrenches Miroku free to scramble over and take advantage of her magic to move towards the decks with her passenger. "Thanks!" She issues, in light of those shields, a sort of strength Mikoto has never been terribly good at.

Though, speaking of her attempt at a shield... that giant sword is still out there, because Mikoto never really got a moment to dismiss it, once the ship landed. In thinking of it her eyes fall on the research ship instead, all violet aglow, and Mikoto asks: "Is it really okay to leave that boat out here..?" Nominally she's asking Lost Ivy, who, in absence of Mai, Mikoto will happily entrust her moral and ethical decisions to these days; functionally, the question is loud enough to be asked of everyone, because she manages to pose it between crashing waves.

... but she doesn't speak on who angered the darkness, out here. It's unsettling enough to hear her voice.

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

There's something eerie about the voice as they're purified, it's grating to her ears, it carries a certain weight to her mind. It feels like... it feels like...

... she doesn't know what it feels like, it just gets under her skin. So many of them were after her weren't they? The goosebump sensation leaves her with the feeling that something terrible is out there... and it's looking her way right now... but she can't look back.

All the scientists fall to the ground... and she catches the disc in mid-air, putting it back on her head as it becomes that cute Sailor cap. Breathing heavily, a hand still touching her throat. And breathes an intense - rattling, sigh of relief when Nagisa is still looking so sunny after that beating. "T-That was... too much..." She says quietly, to herself, but manages a smile as she sees her hug the scientist.

Catching her breath, she slaps her cheeks, "Present!" She calls at Nori's call as if she were a teacher asking for a role call, even raising her hand, before scampering over to another scientist, and picking her up under the arms, scooting her across the deck gradually which is precarious, causing her to slip and slide a few times under the weight. Before Seawitch Ivy... asks, is this familiar to any of you. And Usagi freezes for a moment in her work with her charge... before eventually reaching a point of the deck where she grabs a length of rope, loops it around the head of her rod, and then begins looping the rope itself around the scientist before jutting the rod down through the loops like she's trying to sew with an oversized needle, getting it good and wedged in tight, as she tries to hold on.

Luna looks up from her examination of one of the scientists. "Based on the few facts we have available..." She gives Usagi an apologetic look, sympathetic, "I'd surmise this might have something to do with ... a survivor of the Dark Kingdom. I can't be certain of course. Call it... just a working theory." Luna pauses and gives Mepple an annoyed look on behalf of the felines on board, "You probably made that one up yourself."

"Uh..." Usagi doesn't say anything on that subject of the Dark Kingdom, instead just looking Mikoto's way as she keeps holding on for dear life, "I don't think it's okay... there's probably more on board that... need our help."

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

It takes a little doing in the storm, but eventually all five scientists are safely abed, or at least as safe as anyone can be in these conditions, which is not very. But short of a full-out capsize they are likely to be all right. And being placed under blankets, even spidersilk-strange, sorrowful ones like the ones in the forecastle, is probably good for them, too. They're much too pale.

Next it becomes obvious that a wave or two from now, it will be possible for even the least mobile of the group to jump from ship to ship, because they're becoming quite close again. To then prevent collision, however, some steering will be required...

"Don't make that FACE-mepo," chides Mepple, whose paws rest like a pair of lemon drops across 11 o'clock and 1 o'clock of the wheel (because that's how far his arms can spread). Naturally in order to achieve this, he needs some height, and so is standing on Tama, who is standing on Luna, who is standing on Batiste, who is glaring at Nagi (who is still up in the rigging, silently giggling at this sight).

All they need is a trenchcoat... but apparently four mascots, working together, can manage to add up to one pilot.

"We'll be fine-mepo!" he says, probably more confidently than he feels, though knowing him it's possible that completely off-base bravado is real.

And so the group leaves the ship behind in hands dubiously better than 'none'. As they leave it, if they look back, they notice the figurehead in profile. It is a girl with arms outstretched. The face of that beautiful girl depends very much upon the eye of the beholder, however. It is someone loved, and someone missing; someone who should be here, but isn't, whether that's because they're back in Tokyo or because they're dead and gone. A partner, a sister, a friend. Usagi sees a figure with an entirely blank face, no carvings of features at all.

In contrast to the ship that carried them here, the research vessel is very REAL. It stinks of fish and also of human, of humans on it for much too long. That becomes especially the case after the deck, empty of anything but hatchwork-frictioned metal hull, some winches and things that are probably research equipment, is searched, then abandoned for the indoors.

It doesn't just smell like living human, though. Mikoto may have been shocked that, sans animating energy, those scientist victims were still alive; but here, nostrils flare to the unmistakable smell of human death. It isn't overpowering, perhaps because -- melting polar ice caps or no -- it is very cold, clammily unpleasant, in the bowels of the ship.

Violet energy lurks here and there like litter rolled up into a ball and tossed into corners, or perhaps an underwhelming fog machine. There's no single, obvious source; the impression given, rather, is that there's so MUCH of it that it has inundated the whole boat, and now little bits of it are just wafting around, like tumbleweeds on a prairie, like the world's least fortunate potpourri.

The density of both -- the smell of death, and the presence of darkness -- increases, the more deeply the group ventures into the ship.