2019-05-10 - Walpurgisnacht: All The World's A Stage
|Walpurgisnacht: All The World's A Stage|
All the world’s a stage,
Homura Akemi, Lera Camry, Kasagami Araki, Marinette Dupain-Cheng, Steven Universe, Ren Aizawa, Setsuna Higashi, Vita Yagami, Fuu Hououji, Nori Ankou, Takeo Akamizu, Endo Naoki, Usagi Tsukino, Nagisa Misumi, Honoka Yukishiro, Rei Hino, Niramo Umokeshi
Rainbow Bridge, Tokyo
|OOC - IC Date:|
5/10/2019 - 06-05-2015
<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.
It isn't normal, seeing familiars simply walking the streets of the city like that. It happened once before in remotely recent memory -- that time, that bad time, that a Witch was left alone too long, and began to kind of colonize an entire city block. But even then, the unreality that accompanied it was... as expected. It was simply difficult to tell where Labyrinth ended and Shinjuku began, like a funhouse mirror filter spread across the ward.
This is not like that.
There is a hairs-on-the-back-of-the-neckio goosebumps factor to the juxtaposition of these creatures filling up Tokyo, not Tokyo through a mirror darkly, but Tokyo itself. Crossing streets. Passing landmarks. They could be tourists.
But they aren't.
Alongside the thing that is not an elephant is another not-elephant. It is cheerfully red, and its decorative barding is in different, complimentary, festive colors. Like its -- hers, this one feels vaguely female -- like her brother, she has a string of pennants attached to her harness which disappear up into the sky like the tail of a kite.
And behind them both are two columns, parade-marching.
There are floats, pulled by nothing in particular, all cheerfully red and gold and with strange riders. Like the -- it could be a fawn, with that stubby little nose and soft round ears, but it's purple, and covered in gouged-out crosses, and has bandages over its eyes. There's a pole coming out of its back like it belongs on a carousel, but instead of being attached to an awning, it ends in a polka-dot umbrella...
There are giraffes wearing sleep-masks that are nothing but neck, which make them more like snakes. Except that they exist to drive people to suicide, which makes them not very much like giraffes at all. The sleep-masks' eyes blink occasionally. Each is polychromatic, and no two pairs are the same.
It transpires that this something of a theme. Be they
moustachio'd puffballs catching a ride in a stroller
cheese-seeking eyeballs with spindly legs and nurse's hats ducking in and out between the feet of the not-elephants
misshapen, animated snowmen pulling a freakshow cage that is too dark to see anything within but a set of pearly whites,
the wheels of a gay carriage, plated in gold, their chivalrous blue spoke crisscrossed with grey chains to bind them to unfamiliar axles,
not a one of them isn't, in some way, forbidden from sight. They wear veils, they wear shrouds, they wear eyeless masks, they wear bandanas. There are nominally bipedal chicken-men with screwheads where their eyes should be.
In this procession of the damned and damning, it is the blind that lead.
After that early explosion of sound, that fanfare on arrival, they've been quiet, more like a funeral than a carnival. The chief sound, in fact, has been that rushing wind... flapping those pennants, with crackles and pops, as they vanish upwards.
They aren't the only thing vanishing upwards, though.
Once upon a time Fusa Nagamine wished that her family wouldn't have to move away.
Once upon a time Kohana Ubukata wished for her parents to stay together.
Once upon a time Iki Umeki wished that she could finally get the grades expected of her.
Once upon a time Haruna Matsuno wished for popularity.
Once upon a time Eiko Otani wished to win an audition.
Once upon a time Taya Gamo wished to win a girlfriend.
Once upon a time Rika Kumori wished to find the person who killed her sister.
Once upon a time...
All over Tokyo, its remaining Puella Magi -- total strangers to the last, yet each one's story close enough to taste -- each look up, alone, and see...
And they know despair.
First it's one column, then two, then three... a dozen.
Each has its own unique spectrum of tortured light, which is drawn upwards -- to converge -- towards --
She will turn all of fate's misfortune to nothing.
She will flood the earth with magic,
and take all of humankind into her play.
A moving stage construction.
If everything is a play, no unhappy things will exist.
It may be a tragedy, but it'll all be part of the script.
The play stops on Walpurgisnacht,
and the earth does not turn even once more.
The story will not change.
Tomorrow, and the day after, is the night of Walpurgis.
Let the curtain rise.
<SoundTracker> Surgam Identidem https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wy5MDYr4at8
.----------. / / / ______.' / /_ / --. '___ `. `'. | ) | ......-' / | _..'` '------
High, high in the sky, distant and yet at the center of everything -- every line in the city suddenly seems to lead to her. Pennants and souls most of all.
_ _ | | | | | |__| |_ |____ _| _| |_ |_____|
Her first impression is vaguely cylindrical.
No, that's not true.
Her FIRST impression is the way that easily ten skyscrapers rip in half to join her in the sky.
_______ | | |___ | ___| | |___ | ___| | |_______|
There's a terrible realness to the way the buildings shed concrete and steel, even as they continue to float, impossibly, bobbing up and down at roughly her level like apples in a bucket.
But she, herself, defies that reality, not least in the way that a mandala emanates from her -- this, at last, a taste, the only taste, of the familiar surreality of labyrinths, except that instead of drawing people IN, she is bringing it to THEM. It whorls and swirls. Looking at it directly is unwise.
.--. .' .-. ) / .' / / (_/ / / / / / / . ' / / _.-') .' ' _.'.- / /.-'_.' / _.' ( _.-'
She's a princess. A lady. She has a romantic blue and white gown. Her sleeves have ruffles and her hat has two points.
Or maybe it's the rest of the world that is.
Or will be.
She has a paint-bright smile, but from this angle it looks like a blood-red Black Moon.
__ ...-' |`. | | | .... | | -| | | | | | ...' `--' | |`. ` --------| | `---------'
Her skirt contains a simply gigantic set of interlocking gears, where her legs would be. With a low rumble, they shift -- up, down, clank -- and the many buildings she's chosen to adorn the sky erupt into flames.
Beautiful flames. Red and gold and blue and violet and pink.
Except for one. One particularly large building remains intact, or at least the top thirty or so floors of it do.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Mitakihara General Hospital +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Recently completed to great fanfare, this 42-story hospital is the tallest in the world, with a glossy glass exterior that folds two great wings inward towards the main entrance. Equipped with over 1,200 beds, Mitakihara is known as a place of last resort for those with difficult illnesses (and, ideally, disposable income). Designed with typical criticisms of health care facilities in mind, this ultramodern building eschews the usual bland pastels and workmanlike right angles for elegant, understated earth tone patterns and dynamic diagonal windows and paneling. Its patient rooms have large windows wherever possible to let in natural light, and are decorated to suggest a hotel-like atmosphere. There is substance behind Mitakihara's style; the latest technology dominates its every facet, from the touchscreen controls on its room-sized glass elevators to the particle accelerator in its basement used for precision radiation treatment. For all of its amenities, however, Mitakihara can be a quiet, lonely place; not all of its rooms are in use yet, and those that get lost in it can find themselves wandering empty halls. Mitakihara leverages its sheer size by providing a small, French-style garden on the roof for patients. Low hedges of pink flowers seem to sprout directly from the tiles, in a radiating circular shape, and an ornamental iron fence around the rim of the building ensures safety. *+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
Mitakihara General Hospital soars towards the bridge and the magical girls assembling there. It's so huge that it can't help but be both clumsy and graceful in the air, like an ungainly, inexpert, beautiful glass-and-steel-swan. It's fascinating to watch, really.
Empty beds pour out of its broken windows. It leaks fluids; better not to think which.
And its rooftop garden -- now sideways -- is suddenly close.
The tip of the spear that's about to obliterate the Rainbow Bridge utterly, along with anyone or anything in its way.
That ornamental iron fence on it really is pretty.
And all the pink flowers are in bloom.
COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick transforms into WALPURGISNACHT!
<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
The familiarity of the Familiars, so sharp of sorrow, marching in all their resonant horror... they stir little from the girl as she walks. The corner of her eye -- the corner of her heart -- registers them, but she does not miss a step. One by one by far too many the wishes of girls who trusted a white-bodied fairy unfurl dying, their souls now so many colors in a Witchward wind.
The lights are up; the stage is set. The curtain rises.
One more step and the girl stops on her mark, her eyes lifting. There. Above. Unveiling, unfurling, the lady of the hour takes center stage -- she sets the sky afire with the shattered corpses of Tokyo's first fallen, skyscrapers broken and then burning like so much steel-and-concrete kindling in her maelstrom of manifestation:
Soundtrack change: Aphex Twin - Jynweythek https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrzVLU74itM
She shuts her eyes against the storm and listens to the resolute song of her soul. The trappings of civilian life fall away, discarded. With bare white toes a meter above the grey, she becomes.
Widdershins she spins, and all the luminous purple hidden behind lowered eyelids flares about her rotating form. Dusky violet and trim black and clean white express in angles and layers and with dainty grace. She feels the featherweight of her shield as it coalesces upon her arm, and its steely still which conceals so much destructive potential.
Diamonds trace the lengths of her legs; a diamond adorns the back of her hand. The grey girl alights again upon the earth, and her eyes open.
The only Puella Magi left to face Walpurgisnacht stands before the Stage-setting Witch and her coterie, and she knows herself to be ready. It is the only choice available to her. She pulls out a spindly bulb of dull lead and gleaming black, handling it without looking. Her fingers know the feel of the thing well, this artifact of blue grief condensated:
The Grief Seed Sayaka Miki owed her, reclaimed from a pool of glass and blood and moonlight not so long ago.
Unbidden, a thought rises: would the Mermaid Knight appreciate her contribution to this final defense of the girl they both cherish? Odd, how absent it is of the usual acrimony. She presses the Seed to the chip of soul upon her hand; shadows shift within, then recede, and she lets the spent spindle fall to her feet like she would an empty pistol.
Still... perhaps somewhat of her history with the fallen mermaid lingers, for she notes the assembled and assembling puella -- those who have come despite her warning, who bid to deepen by every present soul the stain of sins upon her own -- and voices her disapproval of their presence with a single, hollow proclamation.
The word rings out just before the uprooted body of Mitakihara General thunders toward the Rainbow Bridge. She turns away long before impact.
Hair as black as a moonless night swirls as she turns to address her foe.
Her thumb rests upon a silvery flywheel, comfortable within its esoteric grooves; comforted.
"...I'll finish you!"
Whatever it takes.
Homura made a promise to her best friend, and she will always fight to keep it...
The gears within her shield launch into perfect clockwork motion, and Puella Magi Homura blinks out of existence as if she never was--
--except that the sudden, instant rumble of a staccato thunder independent of the betraying heavens sounds in the distance, from the far side of the grand Witch, and this is lit by lightning tinged a different sort of unnatural. Homura Akemi's continued if distant presence announces itself with a brilliance reminiscent of the Tokyo Metropolitan Building's tactical demolition, in the whites and yellows and roiling reds of an active warzone.
She leaves the building-threatened mahou to their own devices, intent on waging her own private battle with Walpurgisnacht.
COMBAT: Homura Akemi transforms into One Woman Army!
<Pose Tracker> Vita Yagami [None] has posed.
Vita turns to look at the horizon as she flies. The mists and swirling chaos of the descending Witch...it's unlike anything she's seen. Which is maybe the most terrifying thing she's been able to say. She's seen death, seen worlds clinging to their last motes of essence. Seen wastelands turned to crystal and silence. The many worlds have such horrors.
This is new. It sends ice down her spine as she finds her rally point near the Rainbow Bridge.
And then she sees other points. Pillars of something, bursting skyward. A Witch of Witches...
She stills her trembling by forcing herself to grip Eisen until her bones hurt. Her partner releases his resonant tone at her, a kind of grim encouragement. Clear blue eyes glare out from under that puffy red hat.
And then the skyscrapers rip themselves free, floating about. Awesome displays of power - raw and physical, if mystical in scope. She can almost appreciate such base, vulgar strength.
Less so when one of them roars at her across the distance. She braces herself...and recognizes the rooftop.
It flashes at her insistently; days spent quietly outside while Shamal and Signum, the 'adults', spoke with Hayate's doctors. Spent sitting at the bedside ofher withering master and all of her strength amounting to dust.
She screams, ripping herself out of yesterday, and the red around her flares as she riots lateral - flies up and away from the flying bullet of a building tied to a thousand horrible memories.
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.
<< Very soon, the Stage-Setting Witch, Walpurgisnacht, is going to come to Tokyo.... Thousands of people will die immediately if it even materializes. And it can't be defeated, not by Homura Akemi and not by everyone else here.... >>
The Incubators words come roaring back to the Wind Knight's mind as she bears witness to the advent of Walpurgisnacht. So too does she remember the handful of occasions when she's helped to fight a Witch ... but as the Incubator said, and as Homura said, this far transcends either of them.
First is the march of the familiars; while little enough of a threat in the confines of a Witch's barrier, merely seeing them parade through mundane, real Tokyo (even as alien as the lack of humans makes the vista) makes the world seem off-kilter, not-what-it-should-be. The almost-elephant which casually tramples upon one at the head of the true parade takes the peculiarity and turns it inside-out, casting an odder angle still upon the spectacle - for a spectacle it is, however strange; were it not for the looming destruction, the Wind Knight might even call it 'wonderful,' in the true sense of 'wonder' - something amazing, inexplicable.
But the parade is only a sideshow. The main event - the true peril - manifests far above, as Walpurgisnacht takes form in all her terrifying glory. *That* is the moment which brings the Magic Knight of Wind to a halt in her tracks; how is *anyone* to fight something so colossal? Not that she's a stranger to too-large-for-logic enemies; she remembers fighting a couple of Cybodies, and various monsters big enough to trample on magical girls without noticing more than a human would notice a pebble underfoot. But even if it's just the strangeness influencing perceptions, the size of the Witch even at this distance boggles the Wind Knight's mind.
And then she has a point of reference again, as skyscrapers are uprooted to become props on Walpurgisnacht's stage. No Cybody was ever *that* titanic, thinks the Wind Knight. Perhaps it's fortunate that the size and familiar shape of Mitakihara General Hospital are abruptly interposed ... even though she's never seen it from this angle before.
.... well. That's not true either. She's seen it from beneath; she just hasn't seen the roof or that fence from 'underneath' when the fence was pointing down like this.
She hadn't made it more than a third of the way from the Shitamachi end of the bridge to the opposite bank in Yamanote. Now she turns and runs, back the way she came - not to escape the fight but merely to survive the opening salvo. And she already knows it won't be enough: her most powerful magic would be hard-pressed to slow or divert the building propelled by more than gravity, and when it hits, if the bridge gives way, the loss of tension will collapse much of its structre in a hurry. She needs to be *off* it in short order.
But where can she leap *to*?
<Pose Tracker> Steven Universe [Juuban Public School (6)] has posed. <SoundTracker> Homestuck - CARNE VALE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdPU0emEeUg
The sound of the rancorous circus was concerning to say the least. The lack of storm save for eerie, cloying mist was enough to make Steven's skin crawl.
Lion hits the brakes at the temple. Steven hurries inside. It takes him only a moment to glance around and bang on the mysterious star-symboled door to know they aren't here.
"Lion, they are gone!" the boy says, rushing down the stairs and taking a tumble on the last few, planting into sand. The Gem Child quickly dusts himself off, as the procession grows eerily quiet. "Quick, do the bridge!" he says, hopping aboard, Lion taking off down the sands.
---"They have to already be fighting somewhere!" he comments, seeing the Rainbow Bridge ahead. Galloping paws are the only noise that can be heard on the bridge, as the familiars have grown near silent in their... it would be unwise to call it reverie. Perhaps they are so excited they are unable to express what they want to say properly.
Not that they would have anything kind to talk about.
"Are they here?!" he asks the assembling girls and boys. The bridge seems at least clear of foes. A good gathering place, or perhaps...
Their enemies are intelligent enough to know that being there was a baaaaad idea. "Uh oh..." is about all Steven can manage to say, as lights cut through the mist, visible from afar. They rise, and combine. "This is it...!" he states, words echoed not too long ago from Garnet, upon a green-tinted beach.
They form. And they look so happy to see the assembled group. A sickening happy. The kind of happy one would see in the eyes of someone who liked to do bad things. If they had eyes.
The candy apple red lipstick forms a smile that communicates it well enough. "She's huge...!" the boy states, now quite scared. She sets buildings ablaze with beautiful color. Except one.
"Is that the hospital?" he states, growing pale. "Wait, don't--" The two words gotten in edgewise before Homura vanishes to elsewhere. A thrum in the air indicates something much more pressing. That hospital is closing in fast, thrown like a javelin, effortlessly.
"Lion. Lion Lion LionLionLionLIONLIONLION!" Steven begins to shake the cat, who was looking off to the side for a scant moment. The cat sees the incoming building and nearly bowls over himself as he pivots roaring a portal open to get them the hell out of there.
They appear on a road on the shores. "It threw the entire hospital! What kinda of evil thing d... does that?!" A look to the far side of Tokyo. Despite the mists, her form stood out, like a moasic window dedicated to insanity. "We gotta go help that Magi!"
They were so far away though... this wasn't going to be easy. Her Familiars may try to stop them. After all, who interrupts a show in-progress?
<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.
The parade of that fell circus rolling into town is one gigantic spectacle, and Kasagami Araki can't help but watch with rapt attention. The familiars on display are of a multitude and sheer variety are more than enough to in turn fascinate and worry the Duelist. On the one hand it makes her sword hand itch for such a wide-open, target rich environment that her first urge is to carve into. On the other, just how many souls could be devoured by those monsters, or those same monsters becoming worse monsters to plague Tokyo sits high on her mind.
A stray thought, poisonous, flits through her mind of that large nonephant's foot crushing the shelter where her Uncle stays.
It's a harsh, sobering spike of fear for all of the adrenaline and excitement. Still, that's nothing compared to the great Witch in the sky whose very essence seams to tear skyscrapers to join her up on high. To Kasagami, it seems as if the whole of Tokyo is tilted in Walpurgisnacht's direction. Even her coat seems to want to betray her, rising from her shoulders and back briefly before she angrily swats it back down into proper swaying motions. Beautiful 'fireworks' go off in that flaming aurora of steel and explosions as the abhorrent monster so high up sets them all ablaze.
A long, slow laugh slips out of the Duelist's lips as a few beads of sweat drip down her brow. Her entire body seems to twitch. Her mouth is completely dry, and her feet feel like lead to see that gear-beskirted force of magical nature so easily turn the world into hellfire at her command. That is the thing they're up against. This is no storm.
It's a monster, and Kasagami's brave heart pounds with terror while her eyes go wide. Mitakihara General Hospital wielded as a gaia-tipped spear is leveled at the very bridge she and others have taken up height upon. Already, the girl is moving as fast as her legs can. She crouches low, and springs down the harp-bough tips of the rainbow bridge from column to column, her good eye ever watching that oncoming landmark as boots send her flying in flashes and eruptions of strength from calves and thighs. Her hair is wild, sparkling in the reflection of fire and remnants of rain touching it just enough, a grin plastered to her face of desperation, suprise, awe and this almost comical grim look of just what they're fighting.
Maybe, just maybe she can see why Homura and the Incubator had their doubts.
A glance to finally spy Homura heading off into the grand parade without them, leaving them to be speared by Mitakihara, has that grin dipping a little. She leaps harder, boots kicking hard enough to leave banging dents as she puts herself practically flying to get clear.
Nor is the irony lost on Kasagami that this building might just be her doom out of all things. Her first nights of loneliness and wounds of the body and heart had their realization there. Later, small acceptances and the many hours spent cheering up the kids in the burn ward, visiting for checkups herself. Yumi, and so many other injured friends. It's a place of respite, a place of life changing realizations and attempts at healing from the past to the Crimson Rose Duelist.
Hate bleeds against the fear. Her gaze narrows. "Your hands don't deserve to hold that place! Our suffering isn't yours to wield!" Kasagami manages to snarl out to the air around her, muffled by explosions on high and an oncoming building to her peril.
Then the girl pitches herself towards the shoreline one final time, coat spreading behind her as if she had wings.
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.
"Oh my god. I hate hospitals."
These are words that Lancelot has uttered more than once, and has even been an excuse to not go to this very Hospital to visit Mika while she lays in her coma. However, he has a very different reason for that tonight. The reason?
The top half is being hurled toward him, Sparkles, and the rest of the magical Population of Tokyo assembled to fight Walpurgisnacht.
That alone sends a spike of absolute terror down lancelot's spine, and the Lizard portion of his brain screams at him to flee. He can't fight this. It's throwing freaking buildings. However the Kngiht of the Round Table grits his teeth and stares at the building. "Shut up." He says to himself.
Then he urges Sparkles forward. The warhorse flattens her ears and narrows her eyes before the pair lurch forward at speeds not possible for a normal horse. The lightning shod hooves of Sparkles explode into bursts of lighting with each pounding hoofbeat on Tolyo's streets. Flashes of light, the pounding hoof beats miniature thunder to the flashing strikes on the pavement. Lancelot leans in close to Sparkle's neck to try and coax just a little more speed in the speeding warhorse.
As the shadow looms over the pair, Sparkles jukes left and right, somehow anticipating a falling bed here, an EKG machine there, a medicine cabinet there. She leaps over a couch that crashes in front of them. He doesn't bother with the reins, allowing Sparkles to have her head, and instead just grips her mane for stability. He grits his teeth, he can see the building getting closer and closer, they're well within the shadow and riding fast, but he has a terror beign crushed by the palce that is normally there to save him ...
Some things just shouldn't happen.
Suddenly he and Sparkles are out of the shadow of the flung building, but he still rides forward, trying very hard to be out of the impednign dustcloud.
Which is when his eyes notice the rest of the city.
he's suddnely in another plae and another time in his head. Camelot was burning. People were screaming and it was his fault. A tower collapsed. It was his fault. That section of the wall, whose shadow hid him stealing a kiss from a certain beautiful woman. His Fault. The body of one of the Knights of the Round Table, run through by a spear and kneeling at an odd angle, the Knight's eyes glaring at him accusingly.
Lancelot screams in terror and closes his eyes tight. Then bites his tongue to try and get a hold of himself. But his breathing is coming fast as he has a near panic attack. "I'm not there." He whispers to himself. "I'm here. In Tokyo. I have to fight. I'm not there..."
<Pose Tracker> Ren Aizawa [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.
Being there, on the bridge with everyone else, is... Well, Ren isn't sure what it is. It most certainly isn't relief. Or joy. How could it be with what they're facing? She looks at the odd-coloured parade of not-circus animals and shivers. They look like something a child would make, only to then be twisted completely and utterly wrong. She looks away after awhile, deciding to focus on other things.
"Lera-chan. Setsuna-chan. Vita-san..." She calls after seeing them, that strained smile working its way back onto her face. Pausing, she looks over to Endo, biting her bottom lip. "When things get going, I'll get you out of here, ok?" Preferably somewhere he couldn't be harmed by anything, like those freaky familiars. She only hopes the streets aren't completely flooded with hazards at least.
The arrival of the fabled "Super Witch" comes not long after, and it's just as awe-inspiring (and terrifying, yes) as Ren thought it'd be. For the next few moments she's frozen, eyes widened, as buildings are torn up from the ground and are carried along. She's immensely glad no one is seemingly, hopefully, in those buildings, though it's still quite a jarring event to witness. Still, her gaze is transfixed primarily upon Walpurgisnacht -- so far away yet so very, very huge. She feels like a tiny ant caught in the crosshairs of something much more significant than herself. Huge enemies aren't foreign to her by any means... but this... this is something vastly different.
A building is picked out of the lineup of floating structures and hurled at them. Ren's breath catches upon seeing what it is -- Mitakihara General Hospital. Memories flood back to her of visiting Endo there after the battle that snuffed out Mami's light. He was so broken. It scared Ren, even if she tried to be strong for the both of them amidst tears and regrets for everything that had transpired. And-
<Your majesty! We must MOVE!> Heraut chimes desperately, causing Ren to immediately turn to her right, grab Endo, and shoot off into the air, away from the incoming building. "Hold on!" She shouts over the roar of rushing air, squeezing the boy she loves with all her heart and soul to her, a jet of bronze light left in their wake.
Landing onto the wet ground later, Ren sets Endo down, gasping for air as her heart hammers wildly. "Th-the hospital... It threw the..." She looks almost disbelievingly at Endo, as if waiting for him to confirm this as fact.
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.
"We sure are!" Lera calls out after Homura, even if her expression shifts shortly into a frown -- watching the Puella Magi take off. She shakes her head, then her eyes lock onto the rooftop garden of Mitakihara General Hospital, turned sideways, and flying straight at her. She lets out a shaky breath, then, and her hand reaches over her shoulder.
She pulls down Soaring Sky, drawing the weapon off her back. The sword glimmers with light, dancing up the silvered edge. Walpurgisnacht has appeared, and drawn Lera's eyes only briefly. She can't pay much mind to it when a building is crashing down on her.
It's a mute terror at her immense form, with buildings ripping away to orbit her. It's a mute sadness to see the hospital that Setsuna worked at, and that she talked to Fate almost two years ago. Mostly, she feels the need to move. "All right, Ren-chan." Her voice is quiet. Then, she turns -- she looks at Passion for all of a second -- before she grabs her about the waist. "Up we go!"
She blitzes into the air, just after Ren. She leaves a trail of bright gold-red light in the air, zig-zagging and then wrapping around Ren's. Bronze and gold trails of light, which blitz around the half of the hospital, and then her feet slam into the wet grass.
"I'm... really glad we evacuated the city, y'know?" Lera says, with a glance at Ren.
<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.
The mass of blind familiars clearing the clouds is a horrifying sight.
Endo has seen them before, mind. Not these specific ones, but his mind flashes back to the confectionary maze of another witch that once Mitakihara for its own purposes. Charlotte's maze had been almost too much to bear inside its own confines, and now this witch has forced its maze across all of Tokyo itself. The familiar skyline has literally risen into the clouds with Walpugisnacht itself, warping reality in more ways than one.
"Ren-chan, everyone--" The words are quiet, and they don't last long.
Endo has other memories of Mitakihara. Of lying in a hospital bed, of watching missing faces and scenes of destruction scroll by on muted televisions. None of them are pleasant. Perhaps that makes it a fitting weapon to be pitted against the tiny, unarmored shape of Endo Naoki.
His hand grasps for Ren, breath catching as he she takes flight and he holds tight against her. He tries to track the movements of the others as they scatter, to ensure that assembled friends and allies make it clear. It's not easy, moving so fast.
A breath of relief passes when they hit ground, though his hands still hold Ren tight. His eyes move to the two shapes that follow, calling: "Lera-chan, Setsuna-chan!" More in relief than actually needing to get their attention.
"That thing is--it's huge!" It's all he can manage to indicate his awe at the foe before them.
<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
The curtain rises (falls?) on a new (old?) show of shows. As the strange columns march along the bridge, down the streets of Shinjuku, la Sirene watches them. They are, of course, not people...
Though could they be? There are so terribly many. Her neck shivers.
And then in the distance there are flashes...
And above them something comes.
Is this the manifestation, la Sirene thinks, in the small space in her mind which is not simply pressed into deep-ocean clarity by the scope of the entity, the Witch of Witches. Is this what will kill people? Will the Familiars seek them out? When did Tokyo change?
Her hands slacken to think of it.
And then the buildings take flight.
It is impossible. Inconcievable. Buildings do not do that. Buildings may fall but they do not rise like that, and yet that is what Nori sees. No trick, no shade, no nothing: the Witch is drawing them upwards. The great Witch, the glorious witch, the witch in BLUE AND WHITE--
Do the others see blue and white? la Sirene wonders.
Are there any others any more? Nori wonders.
The buildings burn - and one turns - and the shape becomes clear for a moment. Nori always approached MITAKIHARA GENERAL HOSPITAL from a particular train stop, chosen because of its promixity to a good place to buy fresh shellfish. And so there is a burning moment when the shape becomes clear, where the familiar becomes distorted, where everything strikes into her.
Her vision jerks round. There is that skipping-filmstrip feeling she remembers from the roof of the government building. That sense of everything coming apart at the seams. And that sense of being sewn together, a patchwork entity, comes back, rises, and does not seem to be slackening.
Ah, Nori thinks. Sayaka, she thinks. Mitakihara turns towards them, draws closer, like a meteor here to end the arrogant streaks of human or pre-human or saurian civilization. Sayaka, Nori thinks, I'm sorry.
She thinks of the times she visited, when Madoka was recovering. How Madoka has been so often targeted. Perhaps other beasts, other monsters could taste and feel whatever it is the devil Incubator saw in her, Nori thinks as she feels herself creak and drift apart. Externally the faint luminosity around la Sirene dims. Her eyes flutter.
Someone shouts in her ear.
Maybe it wasn't someone else. From outside la Sirene shouts a wordless syllable of surprise, a bark of command to nobody in particular, and the light around her opens up again like someone grasped the lamp's switch and turned it upwards. She sucks in a deep breath as she gazes at the hospital, which in her moment of dismay had drawn far closer.
La Sirene is in the middle of the bridge. That moment of weakness, of terror, meant that even with her greatest leap she could not get clear before the great building struck the bridge. She knows with a certainty that comes from a distant echo of the cosmos that the bridge will not survive this.
And yet, she thinks. And yet, all of them - shall it be in vain?
The garden is before her. La Sirene sucks in a deep breath, widens her eyes, and runs towards it. She leaps off the bridge, and she reaches forwards with one luminous diamond-studded hand, and she almost misses it - her fingers fall centimeters short of the fence and yet AND YET, and yet, that precious private garden, all of the pink flowers. Her left hand digs into the topiary.
Her right hand swings up and grasps the fence and now there is less than a second. With a shower of pink petals she mounts the penthouse recovery suites and as her feet touch glass and concrete she can only think of one word as it spreads out in front of her:
And so, having no other course, she runs.
They're just hurdles, Nori Ankou tells herself as she leaps across windows that have been thrown open by the torment of gravity.
It's a hill. A smooth hill, she thinks, as she feels the diamonds in the soles of her shoes bite like impossibly durable hobnails on metal.
A bed nearly slams into her as she tacks towards the Yamamote side of the flying building. The thought occurs to her even as petals stream from her left hand, still held in a hooklike posture though every motion of her body is hurling itself into a sprint: What would I see if I looked behind me?
Her eyes follow the objects that fly in the air. She crosses over what she knows must be the suites in which Madoka suffered because there could be no other, takes one additional precious step on a corner window sash flung open, and vaults -
To leap off of another bed, now turned upside down, but it is enough of a stepping stone for her to reach the top arch of a further stretch of the Rainbow Bridge -
And as she runs down the metal span, she stumbles a little. When she reaches the pavement she staggers. She does not, though, slow until she can brake herself against soil, land stretching round her instead of water. Shining, sweating, NOW la Sirene looks back, panting as she strives to recover herself, to draw on that cool light within, to ease the shuddering, sweating sensation that pervades her.
"it is," she answers Endo, between gasps.
<Pose Tracker> Ladybug [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.
A Witch's Familiars are a bizarre sight on the best of days, and this is the worst of them. Approaching that strange parade seems like a terrible idea - and yet, the danger must be met.
Ladybug is, admittedly, relieved to see that she really isn't alone here, giving a quick wave as she swings down to the bridge's railing. Sourisi gets a brief smile, Sailor Moon likewise, but any words of greeting die quickly. There's no space for them as the funereal procession comes into view, as the wrongness is made so blatantly clear. What kind of mind could concoct such minions, Ladybug isn't sure -
"What...I don't believe it. This goes beyond - it's more than - " She cuts off speaking normally, a litany of French curses mumbled under her breath. Skyscrapers burn in the sky, like little candles around a nemesis that dominates the very heavens. It's madness and menace on par with nearly anything she can name and many things she can't.
"I...I think Plan A might be out the window." An organized formation, careful coordination - somehow that doesn't seem meaningful here. And then - and then, slackened arms tense and dazed eyes widen, as Walpurgisnacht unleashes its first assault. It's almost adorable, that pink blossom that approaches the bridge.
Almost beautiful, the hospital garden that forms the tip of a ridiculous spear.
"Plan B!" The assembled group is scrambling without an order - her words are as much for herself as anyone inclined to listen. Her eyes dart for means of escape, tools that could be used, but apart from a few overhead lamps the most prominent thing is that descending tower. Her yo-yo flicks up to hook one of those lamps, and she grabs onto Sourisi with one arm as she waits for the right moment. "...survive until we can come up with Plan C!"
She vaults, with Sourisi, up into the air as the tower descends. It's a last-minute gambit, clearing the incoming wrought-iron fences by a narrower margin than she'd like - and then like La Sirene, they run. Running along windows and vaulting balconies, using the former house of healing as a platform in those moments before it obliterates the bridge.
It's like the most dangerous kind of parkour, except filled with even more heart-stopping terror.
Eventually, the building runs out, or hits a point where Ladybug is forced to leap off. Somewhere, there might be ground, or a not-elephant, or something to land on - she's trusting in chance, desperately searching for an opening.
"That's right - at least the city's relatively empty right now. We just have to keep going - stay alive until we can come up with a plan!" That's what she'll do, she'll just keep looking for something she can do.
Until her luck runs out.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Moon [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed. <SoundTracker> The Beginning Is the End Is the Beginning - Smashing Pumpkins - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GX3p6vLClf0
Sailor Moon clutches her hands together like pearls, and there's this little shimmy to the left, and right, trying not to get run over by a stroller - or an elephant - or a gay carriage. "La Sirene...?" It's like a circus and a danse macabre combined. "Lera-chan?"
Nothing about it should feel familiar - yet it carries the lingering horror of a nightmare personified. "Passion? Ladybug? Is this... is this it? It has to be..." Suddenly she wishes there was Mami Tomoe's voice to confirm - rather than having to make the decision on her own. The voice of experience that she felt she could not be.
Her eyes searching for the other Senshi like they might search for her favorite security blanket.
Paling and stumbling backward from a snow man, she finds herself on her backside, sprawled out on the bridge.
Looking up. Up. UP!
Usagi Tsukino's baby blue eyes grow wide as the countdown unveils the Witch.
One can see the exact moment when she feels something similar to the Puella Magi in the city. Even though noone is looking at her.
Why does it all seem familiar? To a girl who has lived two lifetimes with the same soul. It feels like she knows this, but it is not the same thing. Her soul feels only the faintest echo of connection.
The stage is set and for a few moments she can only gawk, and then her fingers flex over the Spiral Moon Heart Rod.
The Tokyo Skyline rises up. It reminds her vaguely of Shingo playing with a Godzilla set when he was younger.
And as she stands. She can see something. A lone girl in the distance.
And a shadow passing overhead.
Even from so far away - it's like Homura looked at them for just a moment. To bear witness to their doom.
Something in her jaw sets despite her terror.
One second is all there is between us and failure
Each time, we won because we did the opposite of what Akemi-san would have us do.
It is a strange myriad flash of emotion even as the pretty iron fence is pointed at them like a spear. Of course she recognizes that garden.
Why do you hang around Madoka?
<<Madoka has great Potential to become a Magical Girl!>>
Is everyone all right?
I feel so weak.
How many times did she visit Madoka Kaname in this hospital - a girl made to suffer for the crime of possessing compassion and potential in equal measure?
Forward she runs, panic rippling across her features, her moonboot tapping across the concrete frantically. The girl screams and it's something that's between both fear and outrage on her face. The hospital drips over the bay as it closes in on the bridge. The moment of impact closes in and she bends at the knees. Leaping abruptly - the girl makes a jump before when she estimates the impact of the thing would rock into the bridge.
Suspension wires warp and snap in a horrific chorus, and she is aerial. It is a desperate ploy. She does not leap out of the destruction, she tries to get ahead of it. And upon landing - she prays to be even half of what the wind might manage. Her prolonged scream of fear becoming a shout of determination as she keeps surging forward. She will not allow this to end before it even begins.
The moment comes where she's off the bridge, and it takes the girl a few moments to realize she's out of danger. Breathless and trembling she puts her hands on her knees and tries to get the stitch out of her side for just breathing for a moment.
Everything really is going to be all right. I saw Sailor Moon take down that... Metallia.
Shaking as she forces herself to straighten, she looks ahead at it.
You'll get through this, and so will she. And when that happens... we'll still be together then, too. Okay?
Her eyes slide around with a certain franticness, as if confirming everyone is alright, before. The girl heaves in another breath. "... It can - it can - throw... buildings..." She remarks on the obvious - gathering herself.
Then she takes another step. And another - looking at the laughing stage-setting witch in the background.
"... I'm scared. More scared even than usual." Sailor Moon who is Usagi Tsukino admits, in a whisper. "But... I've always been scared."
She keeps walking, and perhaps she remembers D-Point during that. When she felt the most alone she ever has been.
She was never alone though. Her experiences there taught her that.
"... Tonight - we can all be scared together."
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.
Cure Passion stares, as she sees a Tokyo filled with Familiars, a Tokyo that serves to suggest, for only a moment, the artifice of it all--that the buildings may really just be buildings, the sidewalks merely concrete, the trains so much base metal. They could be tourists, and they are not. The world could be strange, another space... but it isn't.
Maybe, for a cold heartbeat, it is Passion who is strange here, too. That feeling grips within her for the moment, wrapping cold fingers about her heart. ...But her fingers hold, too--Lera's hand, as she looks. She watches the Familiars proceed, a parade, a circus, and she has never been to the circus, really. She has never seen this kind of parade, even make-believe strange. They are so many, and so varied, and so bright, and something in her aches only to see them, all their different ways, and-
...and there is so much quiet, underneath the wind.
Cure Passion's eyes widen, she almost takes a step back, as she sees the first, the second, the third columns erupt. Despair--even now, even now, the once-Executive can feel misery when she thinks, remembers the courses it takes through hearts, and it is so quick and so fluid and so ready. How can they stand against this?
Rise. ...The buildings lift; maybe her soul, too, has the urge to join. Floating, appearing, arriving... Cure Passion feels the urge to look directly into that mandala. She sees the romantic gown, and it is like a dream of hers, too. And that thought--that thought, with everything turning, everything moving...
...Who was she? Who were they? The pink-haired warrior is transfixed b the look of those shifting gears, maybe.. But no. No, not really. It is not the look at all. Of all the things here...
It seems impossibly slow, the instant when she notices the hospital coming towards them. The hospital where she spent so much time--where she volunteered, months after being helped despite everything, where she met patients and nurses and doctors and did her small tasks. And here--
How? How does that girl face this in this way, so coldly? In the end, neither Witch nor Familiar nor strange fog can be anything near as alien to Setsuna Higashi, a girl from another world--as what she imagines must be there in Homura Akemi's heart.
"Lera--" Her voice is small, for an instant, very terribly small, and the call of Ren's voice is so distant-
But the light isn't. When Lera looks at her, Cure Passion wavers--but she's caught, in that moment, blinking once and feeling as if the color shifts back into her, that she is red again and not gray, as she blinks as if blinking awake, holds onto Lera with a firm nod--
When they hit the ground, Passion steps forward, looking up to the Witch again, and back to Lera, then to Ren and all of the others. To Endo, "I've... I've never seen anything like it," she admits.
When Sailor Moon talks about her fear... Cure Passion remembers, too, the time she spent there. It was after they'd all faced Beryl--not her. That Queen...
Cure Passion nods, firmly. "...It's all right, to be afraid..."
"Because the answer to despair... Is here, with us."
Her head turns, and she can't smile, but she meets Lera's eyes. "...This time... I'll support you, too."
She looks forward, towards where it must be, where Homura works. "We'll be fools, together!"
She nods fiercely--and starts forward.
<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.
Dark green eyes squint as if they could possibly pierce the misty curtain on the approaching show. Gloved fingers clench hard enough on wooden grips to cause it to creak, released once she realizes what they are doing, then repeat the process. Huffs of exhaled air go out of lungs that draw in once more, drawing in courage alongside oxygen. Soon, battle will be joined between the magical defenders of a quiet Tokyo and the Stage-Setting Witch.
Sourisi's taking advantage of the calm inside the storm while she can.
Not-elephants with skin colors straight out of a nursery book march forth through the curtains, the grand marshals of this parade. Fellow animals of bizarre shapes, carasol-fawns, snake-giraffes and antenna-llamas being the standouts can be seen, a fantastical parade like one that can be found in the most bizarre of dreams. But this is not a dream nor a nightmare. It is a disturbing reality that is approaching Tokyo, that threatens the city in it's entirety.
Beams of light, rising from unknown sources throughout the city, launch upwards spottedly. They converge at one point in the sky, collecting energy and gathering to become one, the sickly light a contrast against the dull gray of the sky. Buildings crack open in half like steel and glass eggs, the shells of humanity's shelter orbiting impossibly around an imposing figure. A lady graces the skyline of the dim city, petticoats of gears and sprockets, a slightlless mask grinning downwards (or was it upwards?) at a captive audience. Buildings erupt into flames, the spotlights highlighting the main lady of this once-in-a-lifetime traveling show.
The opening act is upon the supporting cast on the Rainbow Bridge then, sailing drunkingly yet unerringly towards those that have gathered to confront this chaotic calamity. It takes a moment for the absurb reality of the situation to dawn on Sourisi, and her eyes widen completely. "T-that's not right! You can't weaponize a hospital like that!" Complaint or not, Walpurisnatch likely isn't in the mood to listen even if it could hear it.
The hospital is familiar only due to how it can dominate the skyline at times, a place of healing and yet questions to be raised if she ever had to visit it herself. Bruises and cuts have been learned how to be doctored in private, if rather amateurly. Now, however, in a morbid twist of faith, the hospital was planning on visiting -her-.
The rally point is now a bullseye, with the Mitakihara Hospital the dart that's going to hit on dead center. The bridge is too far to land in either direction, and the hospital was coming in from such a weird angle, trying to jump onto it and keep her footing on the tumbling building seems almost insane.
But Ladybug, her mind ever sharp in these moments, has the answer to her prayers. "Let's just hope we don't need a Plan Z!" Sourisi grabs tightly onto the polka-dotted heroine's arm and leaps skyward, heart bounding above the roaring in her ears.
Tail taps lightly onto the wrought iron fence from the narrow flight, and her booted feet hit what was once the side of the skyscraper as she ascends alongside Ladybug and behind La Sirene. A hand pushes down on a flying bed to vault herself over, a hop over where window gives way to a vertical hallway...it's the latest in a bizarre tale that has only just begun.
Her boots press heavily on the jagged corner of the wall, then Sourisi leaps off and her eyes searching for a safe landing or a pole to slow her descent. They're so far away, but that can't stop them. It won't stop the Witch of Witches. "Staying alive is kind of the plan for all of us right now. That and getting closer. For once i'm actually complaining that it didn't come straight for us." A shaken smile is on her face, yet fear hides underneath.
This is far too much for just one person to fight alone. Everyone has to stay okay if they want to have any hope for today.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Mars [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed. <SoundTracker> Origa - Rise https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJjscA9Zvcw
There is a cost to parting the veil. The unseen has weight and consequence and a soul all its own; fate breathes, stares deep from the abyss where all possibilities lie in crystal stillness. Do not think Rei Hino has not seen the impossible; she deals in mysteries and she knows the secret things.
But there is a difference, here, crucial and empirical, between what is not and what cannot be.
It can't be, pounds the mind of Sailor Mars, who has seen the world shatter and who has felt death's chill grip. It can't be. It can't be -- like a metronome, ticking back and forth with infuriating regularity. It can't be. It can't be. It can't be. She looks at the veil and her mind rejects it with harsh rebuke, mental defences designed to lock spirits out of her heart and her flesh now straining under the effort of something not quite what it was designed to address.
She's seen Witches before.
Not like this. Never like this.
(It can't be, it can't be, it can't be.)
The city bends to her, torn to shreds at their foundations, and distantly Mars sees the ground floor of a cute little shop she'd found the best fluffy white blouse in. It turns out of sight in a moment. She is in sight in a moment.
It would be easy to say there's some familiarity there -- some foe they're used to fighting.
The garish split of her smile is nothing but a reflection of her own anxiety, she thinks, her own desire to match it to a pattern, to comprehend what she cannot. She feels as a child again, staring intently into the flicker of a candle, the fearful pull away as she started to realise how much was contained there.
Click...click...click. Gears in place. The metronome ticks faster now: can't-can't-can't.
She's looking into the fire again.
She's looking into the fire and she knows at once in the dance of red-gold-blue-violet-pink that once more the world is wider, the world is vaster and deeper and greater and once more she will stare into it and she will know its breadth. This time it is not because of any particular gift or talent.
This time it is because the alternative is more unthinkable still.
Sailor Mars is not alone, standing here on the bridge.
'We'll overcome this too somehow - together.'
Here, now, beyond the impossibility of a girl who turns the world upside-down: Mitakihara does not burn.
She has been there for Ami; she has been there for her Grandpa; she has been there for her friends; she has even visited herself, now and then. The thought flashes through her mind: where will we treat the wounded after this? She pushes it aside, irrelevant to their current situation. The beds are empty. That's what matters.
Well -- there's maybe a few other things which matter.
Like why, precisely, the hospital is not set to the Witch's pyre.
"Sailor Moon!" Mars barks, sharply, prepared to grab her if she has to. She doesn't have to -- so she follows her footsteps instead, two flashes of quicksilver in the shadow of a colossus. Outrunning a building is a matter of some investment: outrunning a building designed to house so many vulnerable souls is a matter greater still. A hundred nurses have run up and down its halls to attend to crises and complications. That was one floor; one ward.
She'll always have something bigger to throw at us, Sailor Mars thinks, as she barely avoids being tangled in an ancient blood pressure monitor, raven hair flickering across the metal bar she ducks underneath, don't get distracted so easily!
And eventually they are not safe -- will never be safe with her above -- but they are not in the shadow of illness any more, and Sailor Mars breathes deeply as she looks first to Sailor Moon, and then to the others.
"At least it wasn't Tokyo Tower," she puffs out, first, with a grimace which suggests she can imagine precisely how terrible a lance it would be.
"Come on," she straightens, as her fists curl at her sides. "One more apocalypse, everyone. Let's get it handled, and then we'll --" she pauses for a moment, and she does not say she is afraid and she does not have to, the way horror flickers over her face again for a moment as she looks at what the city has become, before she fixes a smile on her face and turns to them. "-- don't worry, we'll figure something out!"
She does not add that she is already desperately trying to figure something out; at least her mind is moving, now, its own private war-room as she runs down their options.
A tragic amount of her plans begin with 'fire', and end with 'fire, but a lot more of it'.
COMBAT: Nagisa Misumi transforms into Cure Black!
<Pose Tracker> Nagisa Misumi [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed. <SoundTracker> Pretty Cure Appeared - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1k-k6ascd94
Amidst the assembled magical girls, Cure Black and White stand hand in hand. The shadow of millions of tons of concrete a steel creeps up their oppositely-colored boots, crawls their skirts, and swallows their frilly bodices. Others are erupting into action, some decisively, some in fear. Fear and decision both exist in Black's chest, right now. As the shadow creeps across their faces, the two Cures begin to brace their legs. Blue eyes meet amber for a moment. Cure Black's feather-like bleached bangs cut across a hardened brow. Their nods are so small, so synchronized, that the angle of their joined gaze does not change.
The gardens of the beautiful hospital that had sheltered Honoka's grandmother form a roof now, blotting out the grey sky. The roar of groaning weight swallows even the mad giggles of death come. Taking a step outward, Cure Black grasps White's other hand, as if she would face her in this final moment. Instead, she pivots, pulls, and hurls, tossing White and her extended boot like a dart into the wall of concrete.
The cry of effort Black used to boost her partner only grows in volume as she grinds a foot back along the pavement. Her knees dip hard and suddenly her thighs shove against the ground as if it were the bridge she were trying to move, not her only small body. Like a slingshot she fires herself into the puncture wound White kicked right through the roof of the hospital.
The top story of windows bursts like a water balloon, spraying glass in all directions. Like a snaking line of firecrackers, windows begin to pop at random on all sides of the building, descending from the top floor, sides of the building taking turns to vent the sudden internal violence. Near the center, at a spot where the windows are slightly further apart and the elevators change, there is a brief moment of resistance, followed by a startling boom and a buckle of cracked substructure.
Down and down the trauma goes, the building wracked. It's like watching a constantly exploding bomb drop down through its floors. Glass pounds the pavement like a driving rain. There is a long moment of failing resistance as the violence hits the ground floor. Trembling, the vehicle port suddenly vomits an ambulance sideways, blasting the vehicle through its pillars longwise so they are ripped out along with it. As the boxy automobile hits the bridge with a crunch, the ground floor windows blast outwards as one.
Panting, filthy with grey dust, tattered with cuts, Cure Black has her shoulders planted against the interior of the elevator shaft, and the soles of her boots planted against Cure White's. Together, they are braced at the very bottom of the shaft, which upside-down is like a long cup held to the sky. Walpurgisnacht looms above as the building falls down, no longer the sturdy concrete cudgel it had been, but instead a ramshackle skeleton.
"See you in a minute," Black pants. In her dust-whitened face, one brilliant eye winks.
With a bellow of effort, Black pushes off White's feet, and shoves herself laterally. Something load-bearing bends, bends... gives, and Black is suddenly ramming through wall after wall, only half in control of her momentum. The savaged base of the building finally expels her out its side. Her small, dust-trailing body violently strikes one of the support cables, and she tries to claw at it for purchase. She's unable to get a grip strong enough to deny her momentum, and she twists and falls, catching at the vertical cables as she goes, repeatedly grabbing on and getting ripped off them by gravity. She finally manages to get a decent grip near the ground, enough to reset her falling speed, and so when she hits the ground, it's at a somewhat manageable speed... if a very bad angle.
"Uff!" Cure Black's body pounds down. With a wretched dusty cough, she expels her wind. "Augh, ukh," she complains, brushing glass from herself as she blinks away powder on her face, squinting up at the effects of her destructive passage through Mitakihara.
I wonder, she thinks if that's where mom took me.
<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.
Very few things in this world are truly unforgettable. Memory is one of the veils of safety that the human mind can retreat through in order to save itself, after sleep and before madness.
But the sound that Mitakihara General Hospital makes as it smashes straight through the Rainbow Bridge like a Bad End to the Dudley Do-Right cartoon -- Nell tied to the tracks, oncoming train -- might be one of those things.
It's a noise with many components. A foley artist would have their work cut out for them to regenerate it...
Tinkling wind chimes, maybe, for any last unbroken glass on its exterior, which shatters all at once on impact.
Some wavering undertones from a harp string, turned dissonant as it snaps. Then another, and another, all the rest too rapid in succession to be separated.
Sprinkle in the titanic crunch of a thousand beer cans under a thousand fists and you have one tiny fraction of what happened to the concrete.
And the splashdown, of skyscraper and chunks of bridge... if you can't pay a surfer to take a microphone into a tsunami, a cannonball into an ice-covered lake might do.
The Shitamachi side suspension tower is gone completely; the Yamanote side's is teetering, more than critically cracked.
Everything between them is no more, replaced by the butt of the building, which falls more slowly -- slowly -- slowly -- as it breaks a second time, and, on impact into the middle of the channel, creates another wave that overflows every bank nearby.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Uminari Seaside Park +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Brisk breezes with a salty-sharp tang dance over crisply trimmed grass, blowing frisbees off their course, tugging playfully at ribbons, and generally being an omnipresent reminder of the nearby ocean. The lawns are a popular place to think and read, but especially to picnic and play, populated with various curious statues and objects d'art, and even a clean, bright playground that features a gigantic penguin-shaped slide well-beloved by all children in walking distance. A paved boardwalk follows the rocky shoreline unobtrusively, except where it rises into a red brick bridge to cross a nearby river gradually injecting itself into the sea. Following the sparkling, sedately flowing river inland a ways along any of several winding, shaded paths, clever leeves transform it into a clear lake perfect for rickety rowboats. The sunny lawns give way to larger and larger trees, filled with birdsong and the soft chirps of furry wildlife, and the understory is replete with flowers, tended in both raised beds and lovely meadows. Reasonably comfortable wooden benches dot the landscape, and occasionally the path emerges partway over the water, railings enclosing as cozy a place with as romantic a view as anyone could hope for. *+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
The river fills with petals. Splinters that were once benches get caught up in the floodplain swirls.
King Penguin floats disconsolately past, his gaping mouth seeming to drink in the water even as his airy inside bobs against the undertow. But no matter how much he ingests, there's always more.
The parade of familiars has broken its ranks, and now a whole circus' worth of soul-eating monsters is dashing, crawling, climbing and scrambling across the shorelines towards the nearest prey: the only people out here.
It's like a third wave of flesh (or fabric, or feathers, or fluff, or...), after the first two waves of displaced water.
The circus came to town -- and it did not come to /play/.
<SoundTracker> Kami-iro Awase (translation below) https://soundcloud.com/user-541650709/5ksea0oxswds
High above, and some miles distant, Walpurgisnacht laughs, and laughs, and laughs, filling the air with laughter from horizon to horizon.
This sound may also wind up becoming unforgettable simply by repetition. Earlier, before she could be seen, it was spilling through the clouds between the blasts of thunder. Now, she burbles and bubbles with wild, unhinged glee -- is it joy or is it despair or is it both or is it neither -- as Homura Akemi's first salvo explodes against the royal blue of her skirts, which is always the broadest, easiest target.
The fragile workings of a clock begin to run The gears are turning and a revolution has begun Monotony and apathy infect you from afar The time has come to figure out who you are
It is difficult to make out even a scratch. Hopefully that's just because her mandala has intensified, radiating outwards from her in multiple layers, now, a mesmerizingly beautiful aura that is curtains and petals and chains all at once.
But 'hopefully' is not a wildly applicable word in this place.
(Reach out for your fate) Now your destiny's twisting and winding in a maze that you can't seem to escape (Maze that you can't escape) Even though this world is fading (Everything's fading away) There's still a glimpse of the future awaiting
She has come down from the sky gradually, as though descending a grand staircase that only she can see or use, to greet the one who has greeted her so strongly. Homura Akemi definitely has Walpurgisnacht's attention, though it is a difficult thing to constrain or direct completely, as she has a flyaway sort of impersonality to her presence. The sort of unpredictability that could be ascribed to stochasticity rather than intent. A natural disaster more than a person, or something that once was a person... was people.
For example: those first set of skyscrapers that she ripped upwards, then burned, finish disintegrating into ash, but another set is already on their way to replace them, to the tune of snapping girders and crumbling stone. Their fate is held in abeyance for now, as they slowly, slowly rotate in midair... stop... and turn the other way. Pendulums that lose more of themselves with every pass.
What does this accomplish?
Only Walpurgisnacht knows.
(Reach out for your fate) Searching for a hope within (Hope within) But the line to despair is so paper-thin It's the nature of the system It's the way of your existence
But she isn't even paying attention to those toys -- now that she's close enough to the ground, though far more gigantic than any nearby building -- she twists her head to the left and the right eagerly, as though trying to see them all, and...
Out of her gaping, chuckling, cackling mouth she breathes more of that gorgeous, terrible flame.
It is the color of Valentine's day chocolate boxes and the bruised sky after sunset and the burnished gold of a grandfather's watch and edged with the sickly blue light of the train station at night.
It is the color of hell, on Earth.
(Take me by the hand) Depravity beckons (Take my hand) Let your despair awaken
<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
The gears within her shield launch into perfect clockwork motion, and the world locks into place around her.
Finally she can feel alone, here in the static privacy of suspended greyscale. Mahou cannot shout their fool intentions with their vocal cords unmoving, cannot interfere while arrested mid-stride. The chains of time bind even dread Walpurgisnacht fast.
Homura Akemi, time mage, wields the rare power of movement here between seized seconds.
She first spends that power -- and make no mistake that it is an expenditure, though none see how the violet in her Soul Gem flares and flickers while she exists upon the temporal margin -- to move away, because she is not alone, not truly.
Away from the Rainbow Bridge and the hospital hurtling toward it she races, away from those brave hearts who came to defend Tokyo against all warnings, as Homura feared deep in her soul they would no matter how harshly she spoke to them. Here they are; and the same well of fear in her -- she would call it experience, statistics -- foretells that here they shall fall.
She tried. She tried.
...She tries still.
Betwixt blind and marching and frozen Familiars she catches the shape of something different in Shibuya, something familiar, in the white-grey and her pace falters. For someone whose entire existence feels comprised of thick layers of deja vu, the delicate sense of knowing she gets through smudging mists should not be notable, and yet...
Maybe its shroud of fog helps her recognize it.
A bench. Just a bench, like Homura is just a girl.
So many memories it could evoke, and only the most recent arises... of an aerated alien and horrified pink eyes and a soul saved from forswearing.
Of pain and desperation and gutgripping grief.
Of Madoka running away from her.
As if that was possible. ...As if anything else was.
Homura clenches both fists until four half-moon welts score each palm. She picks up her pace again... She races faster. Only once the inverted nightmare of Walpurgisnacht floats directly between the last Puella Magi and the assembled mahou does she take her new perch, having attained as clear a firing lane as can exist for destructive output measurable in joules and brisance.
Her shield arm rises.
Soundtrack change: UNKLE - Burn My Shadow https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDleI-vm7z4
The orange-and-white I-beams of Tokyo Tower stud with neat rows of ordnance, line upon line upon line of upright weaponry awaiting a teenage girl's trigger finger.
Every level stretch of loadbearing steel bristles with a deadly rank and file of tubes, all standing at attention: bunker busters and grenade launchers and the menacing flared warheads of rockets. The landmark gleams of gunmetal, festooned with explosive ornaments like some dread Christmas tree.
Homura stands alone amid her arrayed munitions -- atop the white-painted steel roof of the observation deck -- and sets one hand upon the heavy metal tubing of a bunker buster. The grey of its barrel shimmers, losing colorlessness in favor of subtle violet reflections. She settles the weapon atop her shoulder with more ease of familiarity than most modern infantry could muster.
Fire blooms behind her in the grey, a shocking and brilliant backblast which tosses her sable swallowtail -- the first of many explosive-heavy projectiles away, white contrail tracing its skyward path toward the Witch--
--and its warhead stutters grey and arrests midflight, roaring propulsion and all, as it sinks back into the frozen timestream. Homura pays this familiar sorcery no heed as she dances between I-beams, flitting upward within the steel skeleton of Tokyo Tower like a sparkling violet dragonfly. With each stop she shoulders the next weapon, takes aim, and fire blooms again.
until rockets hang heavy in the sky like a gleaming murmuration of suspended starlings, all seeking the upside-down and inside-out lethal glory of Walpurgisnacht.
She crouches atop the Tower's pinnacle when she is done, and springs -- takes to the open air, leaps without wings -- and at the apex of her jump a touch upon her shield sets the rest of the world in motion around her once more: storm and Witch and Familiars and mahou and floating buildings and swarm of seeking warheads.
Instead of being the only moving thing in a frozen world, Homura hangs in the open air unmoving as everything blows to hell around her. Energy the color of her soul expressed crackles around her hovering form -- the Puella Magi defies gravity the way she bids to defy fate.
She glares at the unmarred skirts of her foe and does not shiver as laughs burble up rather than blood, does not balk. Homura Akemi has more in store for Walpurgisnacht.
Does she have what amounts to its attention?
She burns violet energy to zip away from Tokyo Tower's unenforced airspace, even as the descending Stage-setting Witch invades it. The trigger for her next assault fits in the palm of one small hand. With one eye to dodging those beautifully burning skyscrapers, she depresses the first button on her remote detonator.
Shockwaves rip through the air and strip nearby trees of their green summer leaves as a double handful of precisely positioned and shaped charges detonate along the Witchward side of Tokyo Tower's hilltop base.
Debris billows in clouds around the bottom of its white-and-orange spire, a greybrown mottle of dirt and concrete, and for the briefest moment it may remind the eye of a rocket launching from its pad...
No rocket ever howled with a full-throated chorus of tortured, twisting steel.
With the deceptively slow-seeming movement of very massive things, Tokyo Tower begins to fall.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Tokyo Tower +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* This television broadcast tower is also perhaps the most iconic building in Japan. A lattice giant inspired by the Eiffel Tower, Tokyo Tower looks much like the French building, but has a more rounded, modern style, and is painted in a red-orange tone. Bright white bands punctuate its height, including one for the cylindrical observatory nestled near its peak. At night, it lights up brilliantly: a cool white during the summer, a warm orange for the cooler months, and various colors for special occasions. Once the tallest building in the world, it remains, at 315 meters, the second tallest in Japan, and is a popular tourist attraction. Tokyo Tower straddles a four-story building aptly named FootTown, containing museums, art galleries, and restaurants. Around its middle is the Main Observatory, which contains a restaurant, a Shinto shrine, and a club for live music. Near its peak is the Special Observatory, accessible for an extra fee, which provides a spectacular 360 degree view of the urban skyline. Whether it be attributed to its iconic nature, its ability to transmit long-range signals, or its sheer height, be warned: Tokyo Tower is a frequent target for supernatural events. *+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
The landmark dies precisely as Homura Akemi wills it, in the manner and direction of her choosing.
She watches with cold eyes and a hard face, but could hardly be called dispassionate in how she tracks the joust of its descending orange-tipped spire toward the Stage-setting Witch -- like a girl with a very large, very sharp pin, deadly intent on bursting a balloon.
And with the same precision and patience it took to set all of her careful charges in the first place, she awaits the perfect moment to press a second button on the detonator--
--and a second set of explosions goes off, unshaped, uncareful, as the lance-tip of the falling Tower erupts in gouts of flame.
Homura prefers incendiery-tipped rounds when she can make use of them.
COMBAT: Homura Akemi has used Monumental Barrage on Pink Moon Stick. COMBAT: Pink Moon Stick braces 35 Fatigue damage from Homura Akemi's Monumental Barrage, taking 15 Fatigue damage! Homura Akemi is Psyched! Pink Moon Stick's Block and Parry abilities activate!
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.
Sparkles slides to a stop on the concrete as the water washes over and around her. She bears her shoulders into it, and Lancelot ducks his head to find some shelter from teh great Warhorse's massive form and strength. When the water stops flowing past them he looks up at the same time as Sparkles to see the menagerie crawl out of that deluge like some sort of cthonic and acid trip induced Zombie invasion.
Burning buildings be damned, they were coming for his friends.
BGM Change: Bye Bye Beautiful - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F78pvg-wyLE&list=PLE3D07CF18375CFC0&index=116&t=0s
Once more the pair rush forward at impossible speeds. Memories flood into Lancelot's head of similar charges with hundreds of others, the hoof beats shaking the groud for miles around. He holds his right hand out and a lighting bolt arcs down. It is caught and solidifies into a lance. He couches it with memories into perfect position and impacts a not an Elephant right in the head. Lightning explodes throughout the thing before it erupts in brilliant light. Two more lighting bolts are cought and Sparkles and Lancelot are riding throguh the horde. Here a white mustached puff ball explodes from a sword strike. Here a circus performar gets his not a head crushed by lightning shod hooves.
Blasts of lightning and rocking thunder echo in Lancelot's wake, creating his own storm of destruction. Sparkles wheels, crushing another pair of stroller mustache puffballs, even as Lancelot strikes down a nurse hat clad eyeball by cutitng it in half. In this carnage, Lancelot spies Mars taking down snowmen familiars and then stands in his stirrups. There he leaps form Sparkle's back to flip in the air and throw both blades of Arondight, streaking lightning into another Red barded Elephant that is starting to barrel toward Mars. He lands in a crouch beside Mars and makes a pulling motion with his hands, Arondight flies back to him as lightning bolts which he catches, the bolts smiting a pair of snowmen, which he begins to lay into aound and with Mars. "Sailor Mars. You looked like you were having such fun, I thought I'd join ya! Hey! When this is over wanna build a snowman?" He winks.
Demon's bane may not be fire, but the lightning and sharpness absolutely demolishes a snowman.
He lashes out in rapid slashes, and even a kick here or there. As he stabs a snowman in the head with both blades Sparkles thunders past, her mane and tail flowing behind her like a war banner as her hooves crush and her bulk smashes aside familiars. He runs forward and, deftly leaps back into Sparkle's saddle, giving Mars a quick salute with both blades.
As he turns back to it, he lops the head off a familiar with screws for eyes and then begins the grim dark task of familiar destruction all over again. He pauses for a moment to look where Tokyo Tower was, as the sky lights up from it's explosion. He winces, but continues on his path, idly wondering what the Black Knight is doing this minute.
Probably eating popcorn and enjoying the show. The jerk.
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.
Lera flashes a quick smile at him, and then she she looks towards Passion. She flashes a smile at her, too. It's an effort to smile in the face of doom. "...Yeah. Let's do our best, y'know?" She turns, and starts walking. There is a nod to what Sailor Mars says.
She still pauses, shivering, as she sees the rush of water from the impact of the hospital. Lera's jaw sets, and she tries to not let the broken King Penguin slide. Her fingers tighten about Sky's hilt, and she looks instead to the familiars.
Her eyes lock onto a large tier, looked like its made of stitched-together fabric, with buttons for eyes and stripes that are purple and blue instead orange and white. When the tiger turns to look, it reveals that positioned perfectly behind it are another ten -- no, twenty -- no, sixty. Like a fractal ever-expanded, tigers turn to look as one.
They roar as one, and their sharp fangs flap like flags.
"Gh--come on, everyone! Let's go!"
Lera shoots straight at the tigers -- even as her movement jerks when she sees Tokyo Tower snap, crumple, and fall down straight towards Walpurgisnacht in a rain of fire and death. Her momentum, however, is only a jerk. Soaring Sky chimes out over it:
Lera's blade cleaves outward with a pointed, fiery shockwave that cuts through the fractal-tigers. They're blown backward -- and then Lera vanishes as they leap, save for fiery cleaves and bright blossoms of light as she lays into the familiars.
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.
Their best--Lera being the one to say it brings a small smile to Cure Passion's face after all. Just long enough. She is not quite so awash in experience of worlds ending as Sailor Mars, maybe--but she can appreciate the sentiment, and more--appreciate that she sees that fear there, too, before the smile. Just like with her.
"We'll figure something out," she agrees. "We have to, now--you wouldn't want to set a bad example, would you?"
But it's easier to show a little bravado, with Lera walking ahead. It's necessary,really, because...
The sheer scale of the devastation at hand is staggering. Cure Passion cannot help but hear the sound of the hospital's burial and destruction, of the last place it will go, no matter who has walked its halls. But even as she watches, in a moment of strange awe, preparing to move forward--she sees a shape, a flash. She does not have to imagine what it is. When Cure Black hits the ground, Cure Passion is already stepping forward. "--We'll meet back up closer," she says to Lera suddenly, seriously, in the way that must be spoken in times like these. And then, she sprints forward--and leaps.
This place, this between-place near where a bridge was, holds a place of so much importance. How much has changed, since dragging Lera away from a battle on the bridge to that beach, there, covered now in flooding waters? ...How many times has she stood on a bridge that is now gone?
But the question that matters is, how many times will she look for Cure Black? And the answer to that is once more. Her feet impact the ground hard in its dusty placement, and she hits a knee--setting arms around the older girl and lifting her out of the crater she's made of the ground in her fall. "Hey," Cure Passion says. "It's just like you two to push straight through, isn't it?" This is the warning she offers before she springs back upward, landing on asphalt instead, on the space on the other side of what was a bridge, letting the black-clad warrior down and stepping forward to look upon the things before them. Slowly, slowly moving back, and forth, back and forth, the buildings go...
"...We can't keep White-senpai waiting," Passion says with a firm nod, and looks up to the sky--before she sets her jaw, and looks ahead, to a procession of beautiful carriage wheels, and beyond, to a new parade of of revelling mourners, veiled in black and tilting back and forth, spilling something terrible from their heads as they have to balance, balance, balance--
In a blur of red motion, Cure Passion goes from walking to running to charging, leaping up with both feet at once to somersault through the air and land in in the center of a crowd of the strange creatures, hitting the ground with concrete-breaking force and swinging one foot all the way around first to bring them crashing down, their burdens shattering and spilling as she hops up--goes for the next, the next, and the next, a flurry of motion as the Familiars crowd towards her and each one is smashed with all the force Happiness can muster against this misery. "Hup--"
She kips up onto a car after one knocks her down, trailing sparkling red light as she crashes this time with her fist into the center of the street, sending more flying as she picks up a fallen sign--
Red. Triangular, 'stop'--it becomes an extension of her reach, voluminous pink hair whirling all around as the wings at her headband may as well be wings for true that let her fly.
It will take time, to fight through. She can only wonder, as she goes, when she sees the great explosions in the distance, no closer to understanding the strange girl who refuses their aid.
...Once, in another world, they met--One very like this one now, a darkened city, abandoned by all. ...Is it something meant? Is it something that is? Or...?
She doesn't know--but when the space in the crowd is offered, she takes off at a dead run towards the next crowd, breaking towards an intersection where she can see the others again.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Moon [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.
Moon had thought she'd heard Mars in that. Now though there's an instant upswing in emotion as she sees her and confirms that it was real, "Mars-chan!" Such that it can't even be dimmed by her invoking Tokyo Tower, beyond managing a more solemn, quick nod.
Sailor Moon does not look back for long at what replaced the bridge, and only long enough to confirm more buildings have not come to play with them.
"Just one more?" Moon says to Mars, and her smile is still there. Not even wan. Like the conversation between them is still there.
Whenever I feel happiness - there's always... this anxiety too. Like my current happiness won't last long.
That's just fate I guess.
The question feels like a teasing acceptance of the reality that awaits them.
Even as Walpurgisnacht laughs. Burbling with glee against the Puella Magi's salvo. The Witch looms ahead. This is not just one more. This is different. Somehow she can sense that, in the way this thing casually decimates places they've known - rearranging them with a childish glee she cannot fathom.
She'll still fight, all the same.
"We'll celebrate after at-" Sailor Moon had perhaps thought of the Shrine. The Crown. Any number of locations. She stops herself from picking as if it were a child's superstition of jinxing herself, "We'll celebrate after. All of us."
The witch's design is horror, and she does not know whether the horror has even begun.
She's made a promise anyhow. Though perhaps it's an unwise one.
Then comes the parade of familiars though. And Sailor Moon brings a hand up to her Tiara. However, the chained detonations of Tokyo Tower light up the sky in a geyser of fire that feels like it burnishes the sky.
That instinct fades in an instant.
Someone has to think about what happens tomorrow. In case we aren't there to stop what happens next.
Past lessons stay her hand, as if recognizing the mistake that would be. Instead of the tiara - she brandishes the rod. The Spiral Moon Heart Rod spins into her hand, twirling in a glittering arc of Stardust. A Plush Poodle with an Umbrella sprouting from its back like a flower rides on a cart with doors like eyes. It's face bandaged like a child's toy ripped during playtime. It is ready to run her over as if she were not even there.
The rod stops spinning, and she points the symbol at it point blank as it rolls her way, the figurehead alit with energy.
Orbs of energy scream outward to disintegrate a path through the poodle, a green elephant and mottled giraffe behind it to pitch into the cadre of gay carriage wheels. They detonate into a blindingly bright explosion that silhouettes the wheels in black.
They vanish as if they had been dipped into starstuff.
I wish Mami were here.
Mami isn't here. It is moments where she remembers that her Tiara on its own cannot destroy witchspawn that she misses her even more.
<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed. <SoundTracker> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbaWBn6-fmA
La Sirene looks towards the demise of the bridge and the hospital both. It is sobering. The day of titans struggling. An apocalypse.
Water comes. It washes up onto the bank...
The King Penguin washes out, disconsolate, dethroned. As the waters abate, la Sirene thinks: O - why must this be my time?
She - not quite la Sirene at that moment - thinks more softly, and says aloud as if half-dreaming, "I suppose we do not get to choose our times."
La Sirene glances towards the others for a moment, as if to count heads. To take stock. As she does, she reaches into one pocket. At this point, she is briefly distracted again -- by the towering form of Tokyo Tower in the distance... and how it is suddenly, shriekingly engulfed in smoke and flame, the great structure towering towards - no, it's moving. It's falling?!
It is a shock. A landmark, a part of the world, is collapsing. It has been turned. Is it going to come and fly towards them? And then, miraculously enough, it catches -
Explosions, la Sirene thinks. "Akemi must be there," she says, and a moment later slightly flabby arms wrap around her waist and squeeze her backwards.
La Sirene looks down and digs in her heels. One hand comes down to grasp an arm and rip it free and-- this is when la Sirene is suddenly whip-snapped up into the air. Twisting round, she can see what it is from this momentary aerial view, her gem-studded boots gleaming as gravity itself seems to glance away from her for a moment.
La Sirene is caught up in the arms of a great Thing, something not unlike an antlion and also like the lower part of the face of one's aged relative. A smell of too-old lotion and too-bloody teeth wafts outwards, even as another of its many arms sweeps up other Familiars, blindly. They look like girls with button eyes and zippered mouths, and the Auntielion devours them with casual ease. Another one seems to escape this fate, and its zipper-mouth unspools, its head lashing upwards to wrap around one of la Sirene's legs. It dangles, and it bears the Siren down.
Another zipper-headed Familiar does the same, grasping la Sirene's other leg. The flabby hand holding her in place starts to let go. The Auntielion's mouth opens. Lips curl back from yellowed-ivory teeth the size of windowpanes.
A third Familiar wraps itself round la Sirene's arms and waist, pinning them to her. This is when the weight becomes too much and she falls -
Teeth come down -
But there is no great snap. La Sirene looks down to where the three Familiars dangling beneath her are falling. There is no uvula in this mouth, it is like a horrid singular gullet. The tongues of the Familiars waggle at her, and la Sirene can tell they are accusing her of being greedy. Selfish. Vain.
That same feeling - that same sort of press forwards, as if small hands from memory or beyond the grave were patting her back - makes her say to herself, softly, "Well, it's not wrong."
Her left hand crooks into the sign.
The three Familiars dig their stabbing hands and toes into the gullet and pull downwards. Sparks fly from where the diamonds on la Sirene's uniform grind against massive ivory. "Les Myst--," she says, before teeth click together. The Auntielion makes a noise like a vast magnification of 'huhuhu' -
The lips, streaked as they are with rouge, purse...
And the entire domelike structure of the Auntielion begins to shake. To tremble. A darkling sparkle escapes its lips. Then another. Then the sea of wrinkled elephant-leather begins to shake, flapping wildly, before it rises upwards, bursting in slow motion as the hands catch spectacular light, not burning so much as reacting, the sorrow within each virtual fragment of the Familiar erupting outwards, rupturing them from their very blocks upwards...!
And standing in the moment of empty space, la Sirene lowers her left arm and uses her right hand to toss her hair back.
"Fuoooh--" she tries to breathe out, but a moment later a surging brigade of mustachioed fluffballs are marching down the small crater within which the Auntielion had nested. La Sirene looks up the hill, raises both her hands as if about to conduct a great score - The light pours out of the Pharos, directed like twinned firehoses against them. She aims low.
Soggy with the abyssal intensity of another world, they go flying as la Sirene crests the rim of that crater, standing on the balls of her feet to search for others...
<Pose Tracker> Ladybug [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed. <SoundTracker> Toby Fox - THE WORLD REVOLVING - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52gdri1EyiA
Ladybug looks back as Mitakihara General Hospital finishes destroying itself in a terrible glory of concrete and glass, tearing the Rainbow Bridge asunder. Destruction in a wave, tearing through a seaside park, marking the end of a cherished penguin slide. She can't help but watch the end of an era for a few moments, then follows the building's path back to the Witch of Witches that hurled it.
"Sourisi, I think..." It hangs in the sky, nearly impossible to look away from - save for the cries of the horde of familiars that approaches, hunger audible as the parade turns to ravenous circus. Ladybug swallows, glancing back to the parade's impassive ruler. "I think it might as well have come straight for us. It doesn't even need to get close..."
She shakes her head, trying to return her attention to what's here. First the army. Then the witch. One thing at a time, one problem at a time. The army of soul-devouring monsters counts as one problem, and...
And if she can't even get close to the Witch, there's not much point in any other plans.
Ladybug mutters to Sourisi, eyeing the approaching horde. "...all right. I'll need to find somewhere to recharge if we survive five minutes - for now, I'll just need a few seconds. Lucky Charm!" She flings her arm high, crimson light flaring as she tries to summon something useful - and then the object of the hour appears, dropping with its usual absurdity.
As usual, it's brightly patterned - red and black with spots all over. It's something of a tangled mess, rope wrapped around cloth, and Ladybug frowns as she tries to figure out just what it is. She's just about found one end-
And then the sky lights up with fireworks.
Not fireworks, or at least not the colourful ones that might normally be enjoyed at night. Homura's brand are more fiery, more destructive, lighting up the side of Walpurgisnacht to dreadfully little avail. The bloom at Tokyo Tower catches her eye, next, and Ladybug can only gape as the monument takes to the sky to become a spear of hope and destruction.
"All right, so we can write off any plans that involved Tokyo Tower, and I'm honestly just grateful that we hadn't planned on that being our staging point!" Her voice is a little manic, and she flings her arm out to one side as she shouts in Homura's general direction. "Could you not have warned the rest of us which monuments you were planning on blowing up?!"
There's a sharp crack, punctuating her exclamation. She blinks, turning slowly as Sourisi continues fending off the first comers, to see what the noise was - and sees just what her charm produced. Her eyes dart to the carousel-deer, to Sourisi's tail, to the swarm of little familiars, and to the instant of hesitation from one of the not-elephants.
"I think...I have it. Have something, at least. Sourisi - try to grab a couple of those fawns, we're going for a deer little ride!" The confidence she's been faking starts to feel real as she dons the spotted red top hat that goes with her new ringmaster's whip.
With Sourisi's chains serving as makeshift bridles, they're soon riding. Ladybug relies on her current partner to keep nearby foes at bay, as she focuses on stirring up trouble. One whip-crack after another, spooking larger familiars like the not-elephants into sudden trampling steps. Those little eyeballs hopefully die underfoot, but her goal is to turn this chaotic mess on itself - to send beasts crashing into floats, to direct eyes to jam cart wheels.
The circus's true master is hopefully too busy to ride herd on the familiars properly, meaning that a false master in red might be able to cause some damage.
Quietly, an earring begins to beep a warning.
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.
Somehow, the Wind Knight gets off the bridge while the bridge still exists in a form that can support somebody's weight. The sheer noise of the hospital's impact is nearly an attack in its own right, a solid wall of pure sonic chaos that sweeps her into the air harder than any wind she's ever conjured.
It's almost a good thing that the magical girls are so scattered at the moment, because she can't *hear* much of anything after that. What sense of hearing she *does* have left is drowned out by not-distant-enough thunder, rockets and explosions and the demise of --
The Magic Knight of Wind has exactly enough time to go through some mixed feelings about the weaponization of that particular structure. On the one hand, it's an Important Place for her and a few others, and she hates to see it destroyed. On the other, if Walpurgisnacht remains viable, there won't be anything left of the *city*, never mind one landmark which seems like it might be tactically useful (and appropriate, given that the Witch threw a hospital at them); as Fuu herself observed at the strategy meeting, a few ruined skyscrapers might be a small price to pay against something as apocalyptic as the Stage-Setting Witch.
But before she has time to think about her negative memories of Tokyo Tower, the battlefield swallows her up, her green-and-white-clad form disappearing into a mob of familiars. She doesn't even have time to try and identify any of them before she's lost to the sight of any allies who might have been tracking her. And she remains hidden, as if the familiars have already overwhelmed her ...
"Storm-Dance of Kamaitachi!!!"
... at least until the Wind Knight bestows indigestion on the battlefield that swallowed her. The conjured tempest hurls familiars about like dropping cotton balls and swabs in front of a box fan; the spell buys her enough room to follow up with her sword, and then the Magic Knight of Wind is back on her feet. Battered, bruised, even bloodied, but at least for the moment, unbowed.
And it's an ongoing effort, one moment at a time. One step; one slash; one spell. Then one more. Then one more than that. Not every swing lands; it's only the sheer number of her foes that ensures her spells aren't wasted, but she has to be economical with both magic and melee, and the press of familiars won't let her swap to her bow.
And above it all, Walpurgisnacht looms ever closer ...
She can almost feel the Witch's presence as a force opposed to the familiar reality of the city, of the human world in which Fuu was born and has mostly lived thus far. Or maybe that's her imagination, similarly strained to the breaking point by what she's already seen in this battle.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Mars [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
How many times, Rei Hino wonders, have they sat on top of King Penguin as the sun set?
It's one of those astoundingly normal little thoughts, entirely apart from all the practicalities: are they far enough from the flood to avoid being swept away, is Sailor Moon still whole, is Walpurgisnacht getting closer or is it a trick of perspective? These are the things Sailor Mars wonders, and the question of what could go wrong is soon answered.
It is answered with laughter, above and beyond and constant like rain, miserable merriment which announces the circus to town. One flood becomes another; those misshapen things which will be Witches one day. Is Cleopatra still echoed here, she wonders -- is Himiko, is Jeanne d'Arc? Is Sayaka..?
Lera smiles, too, and it's a relief she isn't the only one trying to rally them. (Lying to them, she cannot help but think of herself, but that's fine too, because if she has to lie to keep them going she'll say whatever she needs to, and Usagi can curse her afterwards, when it's done and finished.) "You want a good example, Cure Passion?" She smirks bravado, as her nails dig into her palms. "Just watch!"
A cage drags closer, something thrashing at the bars, and Sailor Mars leaps forward to meet them. The cage's attendants are not snowmen, precisely; certainly there is fluffiness to them, like new snow pressed to form. But when a spire of flame -- "FIRE SOUL!", Mars names it helpfully -- twists 'round to meet them, they melt not like ice but like marshmellows, charred and gooey and drip-dripping like confection down a skewer. The holes don't bother them so much. They were lumpy little things even before the roasting.
And the thing in the cage makes a noise like a throat gurgling around a jawbreaker which has been inhaled in a moment of crisis, a little wheezy, a little wet, and very, very quiet.
She burns one to nothing with a serpent's lash -- charred so small it shrinks and shrinks until there's nothing left of it at all -- but there are more still. Two less, as Lancelot flows from spearing a red elephant (at least it isn't pink; she'd never get it out of her mind) to carve through a pair. Slicing through their fluffy forms works just as well, so long as enough cuts are made. "It's June!" She snaps, reflexively. "-- but it's good to see you enjoying yourself."
Instead of having a panic attack, she doesn't add, because even if she's worried about them she's sure pointing it out can't help.
As Lancelot carves through the snowmen, Sailor Mars takes advantage of the assist to turn her attention to the cage. There is something white, glistening in the darkness. It gapes wide like a fish out of water, hsss-glk, and it presses to the edge of the darkened cage and they are teeth, rows of flat molars where incisors ought to be, sharp shredding thin things at the back, covered in something blue where they have bit into their own jaw in their inverted anatomy.
Sailor Mars lights a flame and brings it in a wide circle, orbs resolving into the mysteries of the Womb Realm as they flare to life. "-- BURNING MANDALA!" She cries, as she releases them, eight discs to lance in through the bars, in through the darkness, in through the blockage and whatever struggles with it.
The fiery barrage cuts through the bars of the cage; it collapses in on itself; the quiet choking sounds cease.
Tokyo Tower falls.
"Homura-san," Mars says -- to herself, to Sailor Moon, who she has kept nearby throughout her charge -- "you're really going all-out, huh..?"
<Pose Tracker> Sourisi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.
The cacophony of concrete on steel, of glass shattering and towering ocean waves crashing against everything within reach fills the air even as Sourisi descends. Panic fills her for a moment as the ground comes closer to greet her, but the panic is burned away and replaced with a core of determination at this moment. Survivability is needed in this moment, and Sourisi reaches her hands outwards just as a neon sign is within reach, fingertips clasping at the bottom edge.
The Miraculous User's momentum is changed from vertical to horizantial in an instant, and she lets go a moment later to be flung away from a sudden stop. A light pole is used as a stepping stone to keep her aloft, and another sign is used as a landing pad to finally bring her flight to an end. Letting out a shaky sigh in relief, Sourisi turns her head back towards the bridge, and immediately wishes she didn't.
A wonder of human engineering and landmark of Tokyo is left unrecognizeable, and all from an attack that felt like it was done as a half-hearted gesture. When talk at the meeting was about how destructive the Witch could be and that buildings would likely be destroyed, it hadn't dawned then on just how dangerous this battle would be. All of Tokyo could be a weapon against them, with nothing left but ruins.
Soundtrack: Raychell - Coils of Light https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVZ6nxAGJZU
That sobering thought has Sourisi looking back at the Maiden of Destruction before her, still so far away. The parade that preceeded the Witch of Witch is no longer being the heralds of devestation for the Stage-Setting Witch. The Familiars is her army, moving forward in their insane march towards those who dare to defy their mistress. "So...I suppose it's plan E, then?"
Humor is the shield she reaches for first in situations such as these.
Pulling herself upright, Sourisi reaches for her tonfa and pulls the enchanted rosewood free of their metal clasps. It's a comforting presence that Sourisi is glad to have to face this tide. But before she can just jump in swinging her tonfa and trying to barge her way through, Ladybug has a plan to help turn the numbers to their favor. "Right, I think I can divert a flood for that long." Now to bring her words to action.
Jumping in front of Ladybug, Sourisi plants her feet and starts to swing her tonfa in front of her. The Familiars are as vicious as they are bizarre, but each twirl and jab of her tonfa is enough to diminish their numbers.
Even as focused as she is on this, she can still spare a moment when she notices the Tokyo Tower being used as a weapon! On one hand she's glad to see such a massive blow against Walpurgisnatch, but this is another major part of Tokyo destroyed as an innocent casuality. "Hey! There goes three of my best plans!"
A quick glance behind her is enough to take in the tangled mess Ladybug is in, and just what she's eluding to. And....was that a pun? From Ladybug? "Ladybug, hopefully your next ideas are a little more sane. I'm not quite fawn of this one."
The nearest deer charges down the street, and Sourisi holds her throw to better judge the timing. After a moment that feels like hours, the tonfa flies free and true from her grasp, golden chain shining in the gloomy day. Luck shines on Sourisi as the tonfa turns at the precise moment, weaving around the parasol and back towards her. The magical chain catches onto the Familiar then, free of the tonfa and just as Sourisi hoped it would.
Now comes the hardest part! Grabbing ahold of her tail, the Miraculous Ninja tugs with all of her might, changing the deer's course towards Ladybug. Along the way it snags several more deer like some sort of magical lasso, and if she grabs a few more of other blind beast Familiars, all the better. "Get ready, Ladybug!"
Her tonfa get thrown back out as quickly as they return, a flurry of wooden tonfa that those that get to close to her or Ladybug for comfort. Sourisi does keep an eye on Ladybug, however. With her having used her Lucky Charm already, she'll need to break free soon, and Sourisi will be there when she needs it.
<Pose Tracker> Cure Black [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed.
Suddenly aloft, Cure Black blinks into the face of a friend. "Passion!" she cries, which isn't an incorrect title, but in the moment she omitted 'Cure' because her dazed mind thought maybe she was overapplying it again. "Cure Passion!" she thus corrects, happily. On the safe side of the bridge, she takes a moment to look over Passion's shoulder, her heart sinking. After all that...
"Right," she agrees, rousing herself. "We're Pretty Cure, after all." Dropping her feet when she's set down, she thrusts her fists down to her sides with a snap of force, then switches rapidly between two more stances, each time with a karate-like pop of emphasis. The dust comes off her uniform in three respective clouds, leaving her dirty but, once more, black and pink. It was a cool pose she struck by doing so, but it's less cool when she has to scrub her face with her hand to clean it.
As Passion charges, Black follows, clotheslining the shin of a giraffe as she goes, then rotating to kick it over as it stumbles. She lunges out of the way of a similar creature, rolling along her side and separating from Passion. As she comes to her knee, she sees a grand carriage in sickly bright colors is charging as though it were a chariot, its elephants goaded by a snowman driver, of all things. Chasing enemies, it tries to trample them or, failing that, clip them with a careening wheel.
Hearing a clatter, the snowman turns to look at the roof of the carriage, only to see the black seat of a children's swing hook around his face and drag him back against the carriage seat, pinning him.
Standing behind the driver atop the carriage, Cure Black now has him (based on the snowman's masculine accessories) on reins, a chain in each hand and the swing hooked around a snowy abdomen. "I liked this swing," Black tells it pointedly. With an almost dainty hop, she lets the carriage continue without her... but doesn't let go of the chains. The result is predictable.
The elephants suddenly feel a lurch as the carriage changes from a smoothly rolling burden to a grinding drag. Cure Black's heels are dug into the ground, fighting progress every step, until finally one of the elephants slips and the carriage ram into it from behind, halting the passage entirely.
With a creak and a few halting lurches, the carriage is lifted, first off its wheels, then up high. Cure Black stands below, hands beneath it, fingers dug in. "Don't you even think about--" she starts, but the still-standing elephant trumpets, rears onto its front feet, and jabs a kick beneath the carriage thunderously. The carriage dips, its front resting on the elephant's ponderous behind.
Cure Black is still standing, her stomach covered by the big blunt foot of the elephant, her cheeks bulging, her knees together to weakly support herself. She was struck, hard. But she did not move, the weight of the carriage helping her resist the familiar's momentum, her own resilience fighting against the actual blow. With a grimace, she straightens her legs, then her arms.
Then, with a heave, she hammers the carriage down into the elephant in front of her, dropping its leg from her stomach to the ground and pounding the familiar flat.
<Pose Tracker> Vita Yagami [None] has posed.
Vita blasts wide from the hospital and whips back to stare at the damage. Already the scale of this is near the top of her own list. Her pride, among other factors, makes it difficult to think this thing could be MORE dangerous than the Book of Darkness, a hideous, poisonous THING with the magical knowledge of worlds that fully intended to shuck this planet like a crab.
But it had also never attempted to pitch the entire city at them. This is a new kind of disregard, one Vita can't quite recall having endured before. It just plucks up building and picks them apart, like a cruel child plucking the wings from a butterfly. She stares in a grim kind of horror at the wreckage of the Rainbow Bridge.
Then the rioting roar of unimaginable simultaneous explosions tears the world apart behind her, and she turns to that, too, mind upturning a few weeks worth of Godzilla movie nightmare scenarios into her thoughts for what THAT racket is. It's worse than all of them.
"Tearing the whole city apart," she rasps, watching Tokyo Tower, the sight of their miracle barely weeks before, be deployed like some convenient, crude spear. Her hand hurts from holding Eisen so fiercely. Sucks in breath, wishing it came with it the sweet scents of aid the Knight of Lakes would bring with her, or the burning heat of the Knight of Flame. But she's alone on point, this time. The Master had to be protected.
The Wolkenritter's Knight of Iron squares herself and looks upon the enemy, swarming wheels of flame and shadows shaped like men that cling to walls and scream in something that isn't quite a voice; modulated, electronic, inconceivable.
'Come on, everyone! Let's go!'
Lera's shout makes Vita jerk to her senses, and she grunts to herself. "Right. Right! Eisen!" <<JA. RAKETENFORM.>>
The hammerhead BOOMS twice with firing cartridges and then the diminutive Crimson Iron Rider is clinging to a runaway rocket, whirling it around in a way that looks entirely uncontrolled and FULLY mastered as she drives the weapon through one enemy and then another, not bothering to check her kills. She drives through center mass. That should do it. She makes a few loops of the field, then shoots past, fistfulls of iron balls preceding her into the sky. She stops; cuts back, whips herself directly back the direction she came and swings her hammer once.
Iron hell descends, magic iron spheres the size of softballs streaking directly from the point of impact into the rotten heart of anything she can still see.
The swing completed, Eisen's rocket blasts back to heat like it'd never dropped off, and Vita careens around and away, clinging onto her rioting partner and letting him control the pace.
<Pose Tracker> Ren Aizawa [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.
Seeing everyone more or less assembled and not squished to death by a building is heartening, at least. Ren is still pretty shaken from the incident, but nods at Lera, Setsuna, and everyone else nearby. "W-Well I guess that could've gone a lot worse, huh?" A little humor in the face of absolute terror. Nice.
But they were all still alive, and that had to count for something. Looking out onto the horizon she grimaces as the wind picks up briefly, blowing debris and whatnot around. "Are we going to go after Akemi-san or...?" There's no way that girl could fight this super witch all on her own. She needed help, even if she did call them fools. No one should have to go up against something of this scale alone.
Of course, getting to her might be hard given the fact that several of the witch's familiars have decided that they are now viable targets.
"Ahh... Looks like we'll have to fight our way there, then." Ren turns to Endo, giving him a smile. "Endo-kun, you should hide..." It pains her not to have him fighting by her side, but given Fallen Stern's inactive status there's not much more that can be done. "Heraut!"
Ren holds out her hand, and the familiar shining lance that is her device appears within it. Grasping Heraut firmly, she looks over her shoulder at Endo one more time, before leaping forward into the air, following behind Lera. "Right behind you! Heraut!"
<Pose Tracker> Endo Naoki [Juuban Public School (12)] has posed.
'We can be fools together.'
'We can be scared together.'
That's why Endo is here, and the words spoken by Cure Passion and Sailor Moon are much-needed reinforcement of it. He reels from the sound of grinding metal and shattered glass and the torrent of water that comes after, but he still manages a short nod of agreement. Of solidarity, and renewed conviction.
"Ren," He says, grip loosening after one final, tight squeeze. "Be careful." His hand rises toward the others, Lera, Passion, Nori, calling, "You too!" His eyes follow the shapes of his friends and allies as they move between the grotesque shapes of familiars, kicking, punching, and unleashing magical energy.
Again his hand returns to the jagged lump of stone tucked into his coal, drawing it out into the dark haze that surrounds the silent city.
"Fallen Stern, set up!"
The request goes unanswered, Endo's voice swallowed up amidst Walpurgsnacht's ambient laughter and crashes of battle.
"Fallen Stern--you want to fight, don't you? Set up!"
In the distance Tokyo Tower topples, the tip of its spire exploding into a brilliant ball of fire against the towering mass of the witch that now dominates the Tokyo skyline.
"Come on, just..." The boy's eyes watch as Tokyo's magical girls cleave into the mass of twisted monsters.
But he does not join them.
<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.
The battle with the familiars is a running one -- the draw towards Walpurgisnacht inexorable and terribly, terribly urgent -- and it winds up ending, the last of the creatures falling into the swirling, twisting, eerily-shadowing tide of fog at everyone's feet -- at the edge of a crater.
From here, things go downhill.
Some other building must have created this mess, because the great big chunks of it that hit the ground were obviously on fire at the time, fire that must have been choked out by the waves, or the mist, or both.
But the damage is done.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Juuban Public School +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ A short, friendly red brick wall with a cast iron gate surrounds this tidy public school. There's little in the way of architectural whimsy to the rectangular white buildings within. The stairwells, which create tower-like square bulges, and the plate windows, which run almost unbroken along each the length of each floor, are the only real distinguishing features to the simple design. A well-loved old school built in the sixties, Juuban has undergone several renovations over the decades, and is probably a little overdue for another. The vinyl flooring has been mopped by generations of students, and no longer squeaks readily. The cork bulletin boards that publically display class assignments and grades are pockmarked as if by tiny machine guns. The concrete walls have been repainted the same shade of white so many times that their blocks have taken on a thick, soft appearance, like wedding cake. Some of the older ceiling panels have taken on the amiable sag of middle age. There is never a sense of decrepitude, however. Juuban Public is always neat, functional, and lively. Any actual damage or dirt is attended to with an anthill-like swarm of dutiful students. This is their school, and it is as comfortable as an old shoe. *+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
Walpurgisnacht's flames burn fast and hot.
The main buildings -- those that weren't guillotined by the I-beam skyscraper structural components -- or caved in by marble pillars that used to be part of an atrium -- or shredded by so much impacted glass that it's in little piles all around like razor-sharp fallen snow -- are gutted skeletons.
It's hard to see them fully through the smoke, at first. Individual details emerge one at a time.
Like the cast-iron gate, one side warped, one side slagged.
Gray lines on the scorched-black field, that were spared, because until they gave out and crumbled, there were soccer goals covering the grass.
The swimming pool is a hazard, a cliff. Everything in it has boiled away. The tiling underneath is a wild, spiderwebbed mosaic.
Infinity is a nexus of mystical power and nobody can /really/ say it was /that/ surprising that Ohtori, regularly overrun by monsters, amped it up when it got invaded by demonically-reinforced mercenaries, but...
Tokyo Tower plunges like a spear towards the breast of Walpurgisnacht, and detonates its way straight towards her heart.
Is that a tiny shred of the grown -- no, maybe it's the wimple -- flying through the air? It's hard to tell through the cloud of debris, which is thick, hot, and dark.
Thick, hot, dark...
...and on fire.
Laughing all the way, the Stage-Setting Witch emerges from her own conflagration with her head on backwards, having twisted a full one-hundred-eighty-degrees in order to breathe fire in every direction.
She finishes the rotation for a full three-sixty.
Her smile is wider, now. You can see teeth.
They're extremely, eerily human-looking.
Around the time she's floated over some train tracks, she changes gears, which is not human-looking at all.
Up -- down -- CLANK.
Tick, tock, swing the skyscrapers overhead.
Back and forth... back and forth...
When, exactly, did they transform from the second-keeping pendulums of grandfather clocks, to the hour-hands?
It's midnight everywhere.
And, catching fire as they fall, they rocket towards the city below.
The closest one to the group was one of the highest up and will be the last to land.
It will be a stretch to even get there in time.
But the threat of its angle is obvious -- intentionally or not, it's plunging straight towards one of the shelters.
A converted, armored warehouse down by the Bay.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Keiyou Industrial District +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+* Stretching across eight districts, Keiyou Industrial Zone is like a small city unto itself, consisting primarily of factories, power plants, warehouses, refineries, and other heavy industry. Boxy, soot-stained buildings, multi-story chemical tanks, and baroque masses of pipes and girders dominate the architecture, and a distant clanking or hum can be heard at all hours of the day throughout most of the district. Cranes, forklifts, and other heavy equipment are common in this area, as are metal gratings exhaling steam, dizzying catwalks and ladders, and tall stacks of shipping crates. The buildings closest to the bay are often the most presentable, so as to avoid besmirching its beauty overmuch. The district cannot help but encroach upon the bay, however, for it is its lifeline, providing thermal power, naval shipping, and copious quantities of water for industrial purposes. Keiyo long ago outgrew the land allotted for its uses, and so artificial islands have been built up to permit its continued expansion. Since its relatively low potential for civilian casualties (particularly at night) appeals to magical girls, and its profusion of powerful industrial machinery appeals to their foes, combat is not infrequent in this area. *+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
There's an irony here.
Normally this is would be a /great/ place to have a fight.
But not when who knows how many families are huddled inside that shuttered bunker, completely oblivious to their impending doom, trying to entertain the littles into quiet, warm themselves in evacuation-provided blankets, and keep the faith.
Either they'll never know what hit them --
-- or they'll never know that they've been saved.
<SoundTracker> Burn My Dread ~Last Battle~ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMTbyG5zoyE
A structure dominated by sapphire glass, its iconic facade is instantly recognizable to those who have spent much time in Shibuya. It has the typical central "crest" of a corporate building, a white paneled facade that decorates and divides glass halves. But its base is a patchwork of boxy, well-balanced compartments, as if several architecturally pleasing but entirely separate buildings had been constructed atop one another. Glossy, modern, and daringly offbeat, the skyscraper is a true child of Shibuya. You can just call it by its address: 4-4-4.
Except that right now the world is topsy-turvy and the building is upside-down, and so the lettering at its base looks more like a crown:
h-h-h (it is red because it's also on fire)
Walpurgisnacht's laughter, though distant here, feels more present than ever.
For what it's worth -- the shelter is on the way back towards Yamanote, and Homura, in a shoreline-hugging way.
But suddenly that isn't worth anything.
There are more important reasons to go.
To go FAST.
To go NOW.
<Pose Tracker> Lancelot [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.
Seeing the building flying toward the shelter, Lancelot tilts his head and says, "Oh holy shit dude." He doesn't know what to do, and his eyes go wide in fear. How many people are in that shelter? How many families? He looks around him, and then he spies Fuu, the Magic Knight of the Wind.
He puts his knees to Sparkles, guiding her and the two take off at a gallop toward the Wind Knight. He dismisses one of his swords and leans over to throw out a hand toward Fuu, "Fuu-Chan! Grab on!"
Once she does, he pulls her up to sit in front of him on Sparkles. He uses one hand to keep her on the charging and running Warhorse. "It's like the Book of Darkness, hit the building with that spell you used!" Then to Sparkles he says, "Sparkles, we need to get in front of that building. Faster than wind best buddy!"
Sparkles snorts in answer and runs like she hasn't run before. The sound of her hoof beats on the ground increase in tempo, until her hooves leave only a single trail of lightning behind her as she carries the the two knights to the spot indicateds by Lancelot. He holds Fuu tightly to keep her on the horse, now is not the time to worry about looks, or to risk the other knight falling off the horse. "Grab her mane!" He calls to Fuu.
Suddenly Sparkles slides to a stop with a crack of Thunder, and then Lancelot slides off Sparkles to get out of Fuu's way. "YOU GOT THIS FUU!" He cries in encouragement, as Sparkles nods once with a snort of encouragement, her chest heaving at all the running she's done.
<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.
So many familiars, so much ground to cover, and the Wind Knight has no idea how much time they might have. But she comes to the edge of that crater - and stops, teetering briefly before she realizes she's run out of enemies. At least temporarily.
It takes a critical couple of seconds for her to realize that the school whose remains lie in that crater is Juuban. It takes her a few more to take full stock of the situation - and to see the skyscrapers, turned into pendulums, now turning into missiles hurtling back towards the increasingly shambled remains of the city.
Keiyou is familiar. The specific warehouse normally wouldn't be - but ever studious, Fuu took note of where the shelters would be in the evacuation announcement. One more glance upwards and she realizes, no matter how much the city reinforced a warehouse, *it isn't enough*.
Fortunately, despair doesn't get the chance to sink its claws into Fuu's heart, because a knight in shining armor shows up - not to rescue *her* so much as to protect the countless innocents. The Wind Knight grabs the offered hand at a run, and manages to get her legs situated well enough that she won't fall off, grasping Sparkles's mane for additional support. "Thank you both," she calls out, and turns her attention both forward, and inward.
Forward, to see what she's protecting. She already knows what she's protecting it *from*.
Inward, to gather up her tattered and worn will, to weave it back together, and to tap into her magic.
The last time she had to stave off something this big, it was in a moment of overwhelming panic to save her sister. The Hououjis should be safe - but who might be in that shelter that she would recognize?
"WINDS OF ..."
She lets go of Sparkles's mane with her left hand, glove-jewel flaring like an emerald star as the Wind Knight, Fuu Hououji, focuses her will, fueled by desperation and determination in equal measure. Strangers, friends, or family, it makes no difference -
- her resolve and desire to safeguard them is absolute, clad not in mere iron but in adamantine. Technically, the distance doesn't matter that much, but with Lancelot and his steed bearing her closer, she can focus more effectively - and weave the air into as strong a barrier as possible, pushed as high up as she can.
"That won't be enough for long!" Fuu calls out, her arm still raised as she keeps channeling power into her spell. "We need to destroy the building itself!" It's not just Lancelot she's shouting to, now, but all her allies; she's practically calling out even to whoever might lie outside of earshot, or who might be as deafened as she was earlier.
<Pose Tracker> Vita Yagami [None] has posed.
Blasting through Familiars is like scything chaff. They die like anything else. Vita whirls to a stop; the chaos in the air makes Mr. Eisen's Wild Ride a little bit too dangerous a proposition, this much closer to the epicenter. Especially with that thing's awful heat...the flames that destroy so easily, the sourceless POWER throwing the whole city around like playing blocks.
She knows the crater. How could she not? So much magic at Juuban. Not the crystalline heart of glory throbbing beneath Infinity, not...whatever the HELL was going on at Ohtori, but a kind of magic all its own, precious and potent.
Vita sucks in two breaths and looks off to the distance. "This much destruction just to GET there..." she mutters. This...isn't her scale, she realizes, dully. This is a kind of foe the Master should be here for. But Hayate isn't here, they fled with her. Maybe if they hadn't just cast Reinforce back into the sky--
No time for reflection. She's not alone on this field by a longshot. These are the girls who made miracles happen real-time a thousand times. Made the one miracle she doubted with her entire soul happen against all odds and possibility. She chases her doubts away like ravens and pivots, starts to drive onward; she bucks and weaves between debris and flying buildings. Swings Eisen once and cracks an entire chunk off something screaming at her--
He calls out to her, his urgent BONG catching her attention. <<ABOVE!>>
She looks up, eyes widening. She runs the angles quickly, instinctively, and then her whole face twists and she screams, "GIMME EVERYTHING!" as she bursts away. Racing against time, against trajectory, against impossible forces. She speeds up by ticks and ticks as Eisen loads cartridges after cartridge, piling on power into her small body until it all but steams off of her, the world blasting away behind her. If there were intact glass in her wake, it would surely shatter; instead, the shockwave of her passing sends it flying.
She's not going to get far enough ahead of it to posture. She shifts her grip on Eisen even as the head begins to glow. "EISEN!!" she shrieks.
It's like an animation error; it's like a special effect. Something your eyes tells you is happening and your mind tells you MUST be wrong, a cheat or a trick, the way the whole shaft of Graf Eisen swings and BENDS and LENGTHENS, new length coming into view long, long after the hammerhead should've appeared. Finally it does, and it's nothing like Eisen's normal polo head, but rather a double-headed BLOCK, two blocks, each the size of a house in their own right--
("MORE!!!" Vita screams, even swinging)
--two blocks, each the size of an apartment building in their own right, dwarfing Vita completely as she puts her whole, tiny body into that swing. The elasticity in the shaft wastes no power at all as she drives the hammer into the oncoming building, trying to deflect it, stop it, shatter it...
The word never ends - or if it does, it's lost over the rupturing din of impact.
<Pose Tracker> La Sirene de Diamant [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
Soon they are there. La Sirene hardly recognized it; she was in the field before she realized with belated astonishment that this was Juuban Public School. Her eyes widen.
She is on that field. She remembers. She remembers Sayaka and Madoka here, laughing. A world where they had nothing more to worry about than high school entrance exams.
But no, la Sirene thinks. It was still this world. They were just hidden from the worst of it. Let them be hidden, she thinks fiercely even as she exclaims without words, running up and vaulting up to an intact portion of the school's roof to try and see how devastated the terrain is ahead of them.
What a miserable world, she thinks. How many cruel tricks are there? How deep are we within? How many people take the sorrow of the innocent and turn it to their ends?
In this moment la Sirene almost disregards the core of the Witch. Perhaps she is happy to let Homura tire herself out fighting it using whatever hellish explosives she has magicked up or stolen. And then something horrid happens. The rotating buildings move. La Sirene turns her head and gazes upwards.
Then - having moved forwards, staying within eyeshot of the others, fearful perhaps of losing them, fearful perhaps that she will turn round and find that they are familiars and she is all that lives, the sole survivor of Tokyo - she sees that shelter. The signs in front of it. Still blinking, the batteries unplundered.
La Sirene looks upwards again...
She has that moment of filmstrip-flickering again.
In that moment... memories come to her with profound force and speed.
INTRODUCTION: Kozue makes a proposal. Nori meets Tsuru, despite the danger of the neighborhood. The tension of it. She is enchanted. Within a box she sees a beautiful thing. She makes a promise. A pledge.
"I think I'm looking for something a little sportier. Where I can feel the thrum of the engines as I- ramp up the throttle."
DEVELOPMENT: They win out. Hostage situations are survived. They become more, and grow. Nori becomes someone, perhaps something, more; a new face is added in the tension between Siren and Anglerfish-girl. Fame accretes, like a pearl. There is a moment of guilt, as a thug beats a photographer. Nori doesn't stop him. That's the grain of sand. That is what brings it all together.
"It pains me for our first impression to be one of disagreement, but this is no longer your building. Yet if there is anything I can do to help you accept this, any compromise I might be able to offer..."
"... It's so beautiful."
It all comes back to her. The ten thousand little moments. Workout sessions (oh! Yumi - is she safe, is she well?). Picking out furniture on her limited but still enlarged budget. Installing the pond. Cooking, for herself, finally, without mother over her, without having to think of that damnable appetite for sweets.
A place of her own. Truly, truly her own.
And now it is a weapon, falling towards that shelter. The Witch has made it thus. Pulled it up by its roots and hurled it aside. La Sirene's teeth bare but it is because she is about to sob, she knows it. Her knees are about to give out. Her face is burning. She looks at her hands. This is too much. Too much. Too much. Too m-
The filmstrip jerks again even as she dimly sees Lancelot and the Magic Knight fly on a doomed quest to stop a building.
Nori can hear Homura Akemi - thousands will die if the witch even manifests. And are there not, no doubt, thousands in that shelter? Her chest tightens --
The tightness reminds her of another bridge.
'Have you ever tried selling all those diamonds?'
'You could even use it to buy stuff for widows and orphans if you needed that to sleep at night.'
'You're gonna call the kind of money that could feed starving kids dross?'
'So much for heroism, I guess.'
La Sirene de Diamant looks at her hands again. And she turns them over and she sees that inside of the sorcerous leather there are the black diamonds of that other world. The black diamonds that hold power... that draw it... that move it.
Her eyes well up, but the tears are clearer now. La Sirene takes off her gloves and she mutters to herself, "So be it, you spider-woman," and she runs.
As she runs she rips the gloves with her teeth and her hands into ragged strips. The material is tough and the in-setting of the diamonds is sorcerous, but the material between them is not. They jingle as she runs. She runs to the shelter.
She leaps atop it. She runs to the middle of the warehouse. Reaching what she feels to be the middle she glances up for a fleeting moment, quails for a moment, and then looks away. The six ragged pieces are thrown with her bare hands, approximately equidistant. The discarded scraps tumble and roll, the fat stones in each of them giving them some mass. One lands in a puddle. Another is briefly examined by a stray anthony. Two stay on the roof proper. La Sirene has to hope it is good enough.
La Sirene makes herself look up again.
The Pharos at her waist begins to shine.
She raises her hands - not her left alone, but both of them, spread out elsewhere. "O Mysteres," she prays quietly. "Please. Just to the side. Make it fall in the bay. Please. Please. Please--" La Sirene's eyes close, so she cannot doubt herself.
At least, she thinks, I will join them if I am wrong.
The discarded carbonado diamonds begin to glitter, in synchronicity with the Brazen Pharos. The light is not quite as other lights, but strange shadows start to flow outwards. They trickle out. They form a ragged hexagon.
Then the motes of cool and abyssal color rise upwards.
La Sirene de Diamant thinks of a room deep within 4-4-4. The room in her high perch. The room that had no light in it. The room wherein she kept the Pharos, its strange unlight soaking into the walls gradually. For while she has been la Sirene quite often, she has had to sleep - eat - go to school (sometimes)... and that room has held much of this same light. And with no window, some of it must have stayed, she prays.
The motes form six rays, towards a space somewhere in the upper (now lower) floors of 4-4-4 (now h-h-h). Tears run down la Sirene's face; inside of the Pharos' case, the shard of Black Mirror rattles. Just a little, she thinks, hearing distant screams. Slow it. Turn it. Please--
Not for me, la Sirene thinks as her hands tighten, already-pale skin growing clammier, nails fading slightly. She stares down at the rooftop and wonders how many are within for a fleeting moment. She is cold, she is hot, her arms hurt. It is a feeling as if she is shouldering the world, like Atlas of yore. She tilts it slightly - towards the bay - (and perhaps in the same direction as a certain hammer) - crying out as she does, "please please oh p-l-e-a-s-e"
She imagines the empty rooms within, the hollow shells where they lived their life. A workshop full of ao repeated in endless grief, the mysterious quarters of others, the familiar environs. She imagines her things, so precious, so silly now, rolling. All of them sliding. Let them fall from where they reached the ceiling, la Sirene prays. Let them fall out like the beds in that hospital.
Let them fall out -- AWAY -- from this PLACE --
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.
Give and take, share; this is hwo Cure Passion has come this far. Alone, she wouldn't have made it past the hospital. Now, even separated from some of the others briefly with Cure Black... It's different. It's more. She can think of all of them, out there, those near and those less so...
...and besides; They are Pretty Cure. Black's sheer power and Passion's speed see her to the others soon enough. ...But what she sees, where she sees it...
There is a hollow thing somewhere inside her, she finds, and she only knows it is there because it lets something echo terribly. Through the strange fog, towards the crater...
Cure Passion looks upon the ordinary school that she attended. It wasn't the grand halls of Infinity, though they would have welcomed her; it wasn't the strange social garden of Ohtori, though she has been there, too. No... Juuban Public School...
She remembers, when she wasn't Eas anymore, that she was able to go there. She remembers learning of it, learning in it, of times studying with Ami and Honoka... times not studying with Love. But she isn't there, now. No--
She is here, and she feels that distance too. She cannot lose herself in the school that was, even in her memory right now. Cure Passion does not know overmuch about looking at graves--but that instance has that same solemnity.
But far away, even Tokyo Tower has been deployed. ...And the flames come. Cure Passion stops short, for an instant, as she looks from the distance to a shape, in the sky--the approach of midnight. The approach...
The tower is falling. A tower that she has been to, seen more than once, thought wondrous... and it is leading straight to one of the shelters. The people within can't know what is ahead of them; the devastation on display, so much more than she did, back then. And here, now, the glass facade...
"...How?" Passion murmurs. Her courage doesn't fail, this time--but she knows--even with as fast as she can run... Can she make it? Can she do anything, arrive, act against something of that sheer scale? Is this just another thing she will have to learn to accept? ...In fire?
The laughter grates, Setsuna finds, but it is not some distant annoyance but something sanding away at her even now. And she looks--and she knows, where she must be, where she has to be, where she isn't, and as with Juuban, she feels that distance. So far away, from her once home; so far, from the things that have become home. And in that shelter...
Passion blinks--her red eyes cast about, her pink hair still light in all the darkness, as a little red fairy key bursts into being again before her, showing herself. Akarun, who Passion met that day in Okinawa, still holds her key shape, the jeweling about her face, and the ribbon adorning her, her wings. In all the horror and awfulness, this tiny fairy is a link--to the hearts of which she completed a set. To the friends who started so much.
Akarun bends ever-so-slightly, something like a nod from the tiny key as she trills once more, "Kiii-iii!!" The Linkrun at Passion's hip begins to emit a soothing crimson light, in time with an aura about Akarun. "..."
There is an unspoken undertanding, in that moment--and Passion's eyes widen, before her jaw sets. "...Please, help me one more time," she asks of the fairy that saved her, and Akarun rushes the Pretty Cure, twirling around her trailing sparkling red light. One hand raised curling before her into a fist, Cure Passion shimmers--
In a flash she is there, far above the shelter, staring up at the coming 4-4-4 building. She isn't flying. She starts to fall, and this beautiful place, glossy, modern--
It is a place whose halls Cure Passion has walked only in admiration. A place where she was reunited with a blue Princess; a place where she could have beautiful visions of a red Future. ...And she is far above La Sirene, now, with whom she has bonded in tragedy and shared belief.
Her eyes close. She disappears once more.
The shimmer is quick--a haze of crimson, them a burst of light, paler away from the center, becoming the outline of a girl. This time, Cure Passion appears before the rooftop. In an instant she whirls, slamming her fist upward for the building and shattering glass--but still it is falling.
She disappears. She returns in another flash, falling through the air and rushing in a corkscrew kick to try to knock the entire build off-course with rippling force that breaks metal rebar, spiderwebs glass all around. Again, and again, and again, this time to the south side, this time landing on the side of the building as it falls, this time lit by glowing green wind from below as she hammers with another punch, another kick, another shove.
Over, and over, Cure Passion blinks in and out of existence, and with one she picks up a length of column taller than she is by far, and it is her instrument for the next shutter-fast step through air.
Light continues to burst in pinpricks around the great structure, as Cure Passion keeps appearing further and futher down to strike and strike and strike and strike no matter how many times it takes, a vision of crimson set perhaps to dare the challenge of Sisyphus if she must.
...But it doesn't matter, how long she has to do this in the brief time before it hits; she didn't have to close the distance, but that isn't why. It's because...
For all these tiny steps, none of them are alone.
<Pose Tracker> Homura Akemi [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed. <SoundTracker> Juno Reactor - Navras https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9s18rUaubc
When Homura fights, rarely does she pause between emptying clips or swapping weapons. She inflicts a continuous flow of bullets on her unlucky opponent, seeking to overwhelm with sheer destructive output, like some girl-shaped machine of war.
No different this, her opportunistic razing of Tokyo in order to defeat the Witch due to destroy it.
All that grief-shaped power she and Kyouko Sakura hunted together, all the brilliance Oktavia's bounty restored to the gem upon the back of her hand... she burns it, immolates it as ruthlessly as she attempts to burn Walpurgisnacht.
The midair girl, just a suspended bit of fluttering black amid the churn of storm and bomb, flares like a jewel in the dark -- twinkles like a violet star.
Little else exists to Homura Akemi, in this moment, than this: this methodical outpouring of apocalypse, this howl of pent-up destruction expressed stage by stage in steel and fire and magic. She descends within Yamanote, but only to alight upon the cab of a tanker truck, to extend her flickering field of power about the massive conveyance and its reservoir full of fuel. An arching set of Tokyo's ubiquitous train tracks serves as their ramp, and that is all the start the puissant puella needs to send it the Witch's way.
The payload of accelerant sails toward Walpurgisnacht, a most awkward missile, but aerodynamics and physics hardly apply here.
The wind catches Homura's bangs and pulls them from her face as she falls free and toward the river, but violet flares beneath the wind-whipped grey waves -- something rises from the depths, even as Homura descends -- and dainty black-clad toes touch down one-two upon surfacing black metal as it sheds saltwater in great torrents, lifting, revealing her next salvo.
She crouches atop one of four building-sized missile batteries, each vivid with the aura of Homura Akemi's magic: her violet finger upon the trigger of batteries of anti-ship warheads.
Each points directly at Walpurgisnacht's waspish waist.
Behind the Witch's inverted head stretches one of those long urban valleys common to Tokyo: a long straight thoroughfare through the grand highrises of Shibuya, lined below with boutiques and above with dark glass and dim billboards. The shopping ward is a different place, evacuated and unlit.
With but a single expression of her power she pulls the trigger, and dozens of missiles maze through the air toward her grand foe.
They take her full in what passes for her midsection in a crumpling-nosed cluster and keep firing their rockets, keep propelling -- they impel -- and together missiles and Witch shriek straight toward the heart of Shibuya, between the glass-lined walls of skyscrapers.
A deep low rumble sounds, some seismic premonition.
Homura flies up into the stormwinds in an eyeblink, though the streaking purple afterimage she leaves is proof that no time was skipped on the way. From this superior vantage, with her mane tossing like a halo of inky chaos, she presides over what ensues like some black-winged angel of disaster.
All hell breaks loose.
A seam opens up, a seam in the street, a seam in what lies beneath -- the earth parts to vent inferno skyward as the gas main beneath the long Shibuya street ruptures down its length.
Concussive force reaches for Walpurgsnacht in a ridge made visible by the street-chunk shrapnel it bears, lifted up by the hungry tongues of flame beneath. The fault roars its way down the street even as the missiles propel the Witch straight through this gauntlet of neighborhood-rending detonation.
*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Shibuya Shopping Ward +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Any rural ingenue looking to come to the big city and get swept away at first sight would be well-advised to get off at Shibuya Station, where you could fill a high school yearbook with the people teeming over a single crosswalk, and a legion of ten-story department stores offer a choice so broad it resembles existential crisis. Shinjuku might administrate Tokyo, but Shibuya is its style capital. Its densest concentration of boutiques, retailers, and restaurants is bound together by Shibuya Crossing, a bustling pedestrian intersection resembling an even gaudier Times Square. Within walking distance to Harajuku, Shibuya is less whimsical, and far grander. Its most iconic symbol is the Shibuya 109 department store, a cylindrical grey monolith famous even outside of Japan. Each floor of 109 has about a dozen shops, and with ten flights of escalator to ascend, it doesn't take a mathematician to realize that even this single store can be a lot to take in. But Shibuya too has its side streets and quirks, and it's not hard to find a chic little cafe to rest in. Those who find themselves energized instead have recourse to the night clubs that trade on Shibuya's stylish reptuation. Shibuya Station has a humbler landmark as well. It was here that the loyal dog Hachiko waited for his owner each day, even after the owner had long since died. A bronze statue of Hachiko waits here still, a reminder that love and loyalty never die. *+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
Quaint side streets fill with crunching detritus.
Any shop which existed at street level... no longer does.
A statue of a dog, symbol of undying love and devotion, rips from its plinth and smashes into three misshapen bronze lumps. A steadfast paw extends from one, twisted but still recognizable.
Eruption chases the rocketing Witch in all her grandiosity and gouting flame, breaking every last meter of the boulevard on the way to Homura Akemi's grand finale at the thoroughfare's terminus.
Yoyogi National Gymnasium, its angle-free architecture and curve-defined space draped from points of prominence, possessed of imposing scale and unique profile: a waveform captured. And now, ever so briefly, Walpurgisnacht contained within.
Beneath the mask Homura Akemi's dead heart counts out a quick and steady beat. For the first time since she set hand to rocket launcher upon Tokyo Tower, she comes to a true pause to see how the rest of her carefully planned hand plays out.
<Pose Tracker> Sailor Mars [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
Juuban was always Rei's favourite school. Don't tell her friends. She never misses a chance to crow about how worthy Ohtori is, but since when has Rei Hino ever said what she really felt?
It's sad, seeing it like this.
There's no time to dwell on it. There's never enough time to dwell on the horrors, and Sailor Mars is hardly going to be the one to stumble and fall now. She's always been the one pushing them on, pushing them forward.
It would be a mistake to think she doesn't push herself the exact same way.
A mistake to think she speak to herself as much as anyone else, as she sees 4-4-4 angling down: "Go, go, go!" She is faster than an arrow and it is not fast enough, could never be fast enough.
But she is a ranged fighter; she doesn't have to get there in time.
She just has to get close enough.
Atop a lorry-truck laid on its side by the forces around it, industrial load spilled to the bitumen below, Sailor Mars takes ofuda in hand and chants the wisdoms of Acala, a mantra far from Japanese and its power evident despite it. "FIRE --" and here the flame sparks, "SOUL--" to lance through the paper charm, "-- BIRD!" As the talisman is consumed by flame it takes shape, a vast phoenix which soars towards that place which once was Nori's home.
Without apology she draws another ofuda, invokes wisdom, unleashes flame.
Once more; twice more. A quetzalcoatlus wingspan is still not enough to consume even part of a skyscraper. Perhaps a barrage will suffice. They say four is an unlucky number, but there are four sides to a building, after all. Well -- at least it is easy to say four. North-south-east-west.
She sees the impossible size of Graf Eisen and those fiery wings flock to the area Vita threatens, praying the conflagration will weaken the structure of the building and allow that vast hammer to do its destructive work. Each phoenix crashes through a window, and her flame eats from the inside what Cure Passion strikes from without. It is not unlight, though certainly they are both bright. Hers is one attempt amongst many.
It wasn't idle talk, her encompassing pronoun to Usagi. 'We'll make sure of it.' What she cannot do alone, she can help to achieve. It took her so long to really, really believe it. Sometimes it's still hard. It's not hard now.
They have to be able to do this together.
If they can't -- if they can't--!!
<Pose Tracker> Cure Black [Juuban Public School (11)] has posed. <SoundTracker> Heart of Courage - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRLdhFVzqt4
Panting, Cure Black feels big for a moment. She and Passion were a great team. The familiars are routed and destroyed, the combined strength of a true who's who of Tokyo magical girls sufficient to rapidly dispatch an army that would have in any other context been the main threat on its own. But as she watches Tokyo Tower--the symbol of the city she calls home--driven like a spear into the breast of a monster, she feels her shoulders sink. When it fails to bring the upside-down lady to the ground, or even cause a perceptible injury of any kind, she closes her eyes tightly for a moment. What sort of desperation would lead to such a plan? Black hopes she isn't about to learn what Homura knows.
That's before she sees what has become of Juuban.
What an elephant foot couldn't do, a boiled off pool has achieved. Black drops to her knees nervelessly, her arms limp. She was wrong. Tokyo isn't her home, Juuban is. Was. For if her parents changed apartments, that wouldn't have been so bad, would it? But the threat of losing Juuban has long been enough to take away all Nagisa's prowess, to bind all Honoka's wisdom. Knowing she'd have had to say goodbye one day does nothing to take away the agony of premature loss. Does mortality rob death of its sting? Of course not.
She picks herself up numbly, automatically, as another building begins to fall. Her limbs begin to gain pace without her, stretching out, falling into a familiar rhythm. But her mind remains distant. Only slowly do the cries around her penetrate. A shelter. It's headed for a shelter.
Panic stabs. She's failed already today, and with a smaller building. Despite the inconceivable cost, the impossibility of the task threatens to sap her strength away. There is a part of the human soul that needs to just watch, when something bad happens. Perhaps witnessing is her task now.
But no. Juuban. A rage has been building up unnoticed, a grief directed at the unfairness of a world where good things must be fought and suffered over for so long, and bad things seem to happen with the breeze. How many times did she almost lose Juuban already?
The next step kicks off gravel, and harder than the previous ones, with more purpose. She's on factory grounds now. Cure Black looks over her shoulder as the building descends. She and Honoka have both worn that brand. Nagisa has a good head for remembering Honoka's outfits, better than she has for her own attire. How strange, how perverse it is to have Walpurgisnacht turn the city into ghosts that haunt.
Cure Black needs something very heavy. She doesn't remember picking. She did not need to, really.
A tower lurches. It bristles with metal tubing. A concrete cylinder makes up its core, set above a vast turbine that normally drives steam into it. That turbine is silent today, the generator shut down, the plant silent. Rusted gangways and railing groans and stretches, unsettled, resisting. There are repeated holes in the walls of the ground level. Cure Black just kept smashing her way through until she found a spot she couldn't break. That was the easiest way to know where she should be.
Her back is against thick, reinforced steel girder. Her knees are bent, tired legs forcing against the ground. She's pushing up and through her spine, like this was a squat rack instead of the support around a turbine enclosure. She's grateful that the flooring is metal, too.
Outside, a tiny crack is appearing on the outside of the cooling tower, but the metal enclosure resists, as does the sheer unfathomable weight. The cooling tower does not directly access anything toxic, but its loss during operation would be dangerous, and it's built in a tsunami zone. It is very, very good at not tipping over.
But Cure Black is very, very determined to tip it.
"RRRRRRRRRGGGH..." Black's face is red with effort, her whole body trembling. One by one, bolts start to pop and ping, loosening the girder. It's so hard to keep breathing, but Black knows if she does not, she'll quickly faint. Raggedly gasping through a tightened chest, she shoves and strains. The turbine's shaft begins to bend. Its own weight starts to list to one side, bending its enclosure. Tinkling, bits of concrete begin to drizzle. There's no time for this; Black can hear the others outside fighting.
Letting herself take a half-second's respite, her knees bending lower and more weight dropping onto her, Black rams her shoulders up with all her strength. Her legs and arms surge like Ultraman delivering a plastic uppercut, four limbs trying to straighten at the same time. It's bruising, a brutalization of an already weary body. Straining, she feels structural failure racing muscle failure, each as unyieldingly inevitable as the next, and the former feeling so much more distant. Finally holding her breath, she gives one final ram of her shoulders and the base of her neck and holds it as long as she can, feeding the agony of lacrosse memories, of the sanctuary of a cold quiet club room on a winter night, down her throat instead of air, trying to force her heart to hurt more than her muscles.
The exterior structure is silent for a few seconds.
The side of the cooling tower folds in, like a mother's disapproving lips. The pliant hardness of metal is rarely a match, in the end, for the soft weight of stone. Pipes begin to burst, brackish bay water drizzling at first, then pouring in greenish gouts. The tower, ponderously, tilts into its failure. A metal tower built up around it screeches as it rips. Reeling, it lists towards the falling 4-4-4, and finally, all at once, keels over towards it. A second hammer, forged not by exotic magic, but by Japanese industrial engineering. Hurricane-reinforced. Earthquake resistant. Heavy.
As it topples fully, the turbine rips up from its own enclosure, baring the resevoir in a great spray of seawater.
<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed. <SoundTracker> Ongaku - Yuki Kajiura: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioHkag7ZAcU (translation: https://canta-per-me.net/lyrics/ongaku/)
There's a lot of wind in the area for Fuu, supported by Lancelot and Sparkles, to work with; she does not so much have to summon it, today, as control it, even a small part of it, like skimming cream off the top of a bucket -- instead seizing a little bit of that force that has turned the sky into less of a spiral and more of a moebius loop, clouds with no beginning and no end.
They come to her call, and she's able to feel the power driving them fill her, fill her well beyond her own capacity, fill her to bursting. And yet, paradoxically, in that moment what she feels most profoundly is a terrible and total emptiness, the gaping void within that every girl must face alone.
The barrier -- the emerald of Fuu's magic a bit sickly, as though it's infected -- sparkles and swirls between the falling skyscraper and the shelter in a huge, angled disc. If its sheer complexity has shades of the distant Witch's mandala, shimmering and shifting, well. Don't look too closely. Don't think of an elephant.
It stands up proudly, but no one knows whether it could take the full impact. No one wants to know.
The task now is to ensure that they never have to find out.
There are still a thousand feet before Shibuya 4-4-4 meets the shield -- and falling.
Vita strikes the first blow with Gigantschlag, and it is a decisive one: the entire trajectory of the fall is slammed to a more shallow angle, from that single strike alone. It won't miss the shelter... but it's going to take a few critical seconds more to get there.
There is a TITANIC crash as the sapphire glass that dominates the surface of the building shatters all at once. Vita can feel Graf Eisen tearing through the interior, feel the resistance he's encountering, feel him finally emerge out catty-corner to his entry, having created a dimple in one side of the skyscraper that would be comical if it wasn't terrifying.
Eight hundred feet.
La Sirene's home threatens to murder people she doesn't even know.
Though maybe she's seen some in passing...
Mina Kuroske's pigtails have grown out into longer hair which she wears in a sporty pony. She still wears her charm, the charm those girls helped her find, the destiny they helped her redirect, of the great dragon who swims beneath Okinawa.
She's inside for two good reasons: one, she has no idea what's about to happen, and two, she's on the phone, a landline, trying to find her parents. Frantically.
"Time's up," a security guard says with solemn sympathy.
Tears bead in her eyes, but he shakes his head and passes the phone to the next person in line, a bottle-glasses boy with wildly untidy hair even when the world isn't ending.
"I need to call OSA-P," Gurio Umino mutters nervously. As he passes a mother nursing her infant, with another seven children -- surely not all hers -- clamoring around her for treats, he gravely hands them down some spare origami he forgot to take out of his jeans pocket last time he did laundry. Their texture is, accordingly, a little matted. But they can still straighten into funny little cranes.
"Here," he says, voice cracking, offering the last one to Mina herself, trading her for the receiver. "For good luck."
He gave Batiste one of those once, slipped to him on the sly at Juuban's Sports Day.
The rays of the Pharos slam through the carbonado hexagon but before they can even hit the skyscraper, they hit something else instead.
Les Mysteres has come.
It pours out of one of the broken windows, then nine, then twenty-five, emerging in its silvery, stormy glory from the very walls it's come to know so well. It carries things with it -- maybe not Nori's things, but recognizable things regardless, in an ant-small distant way. Pens. A beautiful ceramic teacup. Tatami mats. Half an elevator.
And when the two beams impact one another, everything is briefly lost to light, and to unlight.
Six hundred feet.
High above, Shibuya 4-4-4 rattles with dozens of smaller impacts. It has lost much of what kept it a single building instead of a twisted, jumbled composite of engineering, and single strikes, in precise places, can send it rushing towards that tipping point in earnest.
Not that that's obvious to Cure Passion at the time. No, the main thing she encounters, as the lone warrior up close and personal with the plummeting ediface, is the flame.
It allows her a chance to know that which claimed Juuban, before anyone else does. It was dead, in that smoking crater, but here it is alive and not just well, but frighteningly hungry.
It's eating walls and floors and beams, but not quickly enough. Mostly it's just increasing the danger -- if it's still burning when impact occurs, the resultant spread could set the entire district aflame.
It wants to eat Pretty Cure, too, and it tries. It licks and bursts in beautiful colors, colors that no flame should be -- the red too cherry, the gold too metallic, the glittering purple and blue edges too bright. It tries to eat her hair, her beautiful, beautiful hair. To scorch her palms, the soles of her feet, straight through those cute boots.
It wants to melt her bones.
But she defies it, striking wisely. It can be isolated from the building, though the wild absurdity of punching firebreaks into a burning, falling skyscraper, into smaller pockets that have nothing left to eat, especially after she punches so hard that the air booms away from the flame.
Four hundred feet.
Sailor Mars has other ideas about how to fight fires.
This does not always go well for her.
But sometimes it does.
Vindication fills her like soda pop fizz when she sees -- when she feels, as though the heat is somehow connected to her instinctually drying skin -- the way that her birds, the firebirds of her very soul, overwhelm the flames too deep within the building for Passion to reach safely. Take them into themselves... and carry them away.
Four birds enter the building... and four birds leave, coated in coruscating colors they picked up along the way, before exploding into the sky like fireworks. The floor they passed through is simply gone; the building held together by concrete and metal threads and nothing more.
Two hundred feet.
The first pieces of debris are starting to hit the shield. Metal makes weird, twinging noises, as it's ripped around in a high-speed vortex then shot off in other, random directions. This wind chews things up and spits them out again like a railgun. Good thing nothing it's eating is on fire.
It won't hold. Shibuya 4-4-4, even damaged beyond belief, is far more than it can bite off.
And then water starts to hit the shield, too. The beginning of the end is prefaced by the resultant mist, which both deepens and magnifies the mystical patterns on its surface.
Nagisa Misumi isn't the baseball ace among Pretty Cure... but she just hit a grounder, with the world's biggest, heaviest, and most massive bat, and still it feels like a home run.
It hammers into the emaciated remains of the building from the side, and... passes through... starts to get stuck... and drags.
The skyscraper's roof collapses, huge chunks of it fed into and dispersed by the shield, but the rest of it... shifts, in a last-minute trajectory-change too heavy to really be called an arc.
Shifts, and crashes into the Bay not all at once but in pieces. It rains bits of 4-4-4 like it was a pinata.
But not one of those bits makes it to the shelter. The shield blows itself out on the last of them, those pieces with not enough momentum to make it all the way out over the water.
And then it's quiet for a few seconds.
The first few seconds of the rest of all those peoples' lives.