2023-08-13 - VICTORY LUCK AIZAWA 3

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The thrilling conclusion of the defense of Aizawa House by Ren and her friends. Jail takes a hostage, but Dark Heraut refuses to go along. Someone gets left behind.


Lera Camry, Signum Yagami, Kyouka Okazaki, Ren Aizawa, Setsuna Higashi, Dark Heraut, Shadow Stern, Black Sky, Jail Scaglietti


Aizawa House, Chofu Suburban District

OOC - IC Date:

8/13/2023 - 3/15/2016

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

<SoundTracker> Fatal Fight - E.S. Levi - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiTCqbzT4SQ

The Radiant Knight brings her trusted blade down upon Umbral's, Soaring Sky locking with Fallen Stern with an immense crash that sends a huge disc-like shockwave away from the two combatants.

The Umbral Knight's foot twists on the ground where he stands, and he adds his second hand to the lock--

--and Fallen Stern burns scintillating violet as one of the major offenses of this legendary Belkan enforce is invoked, something that the Radiant Knight never imagined she'd be on the receiving end of--


--the days that they were on the same side seem so long ago.


Because they were long ago.

As the brief bladelock ends with Shadow Stern detonating mana along them both in order to blast her back, Lera returns to the present, hallucinating no more.

She can see the further wreckage of the house.

And she can see Mikoto soaring in...

Mikoto is concerned for this Fate clone. That is a righteous and compassionate position. Also, please recall that last time, she and Shadow Stern fought Endo, Mikoto, and several others all at once, which is also to say that people should probably be more concerned for the missing Endo right now... it is in fact pretty impressive that he did as much damage as he apparently did all by himself.

...Shadow Stern obviously ALSO remembers the Dark Burger fight, because he flattens beneath Mikoto's assault, sliding directly under her charge, fully committing in that moment to making very sure he does not have to taste Miroku's soulsteel, flat or no flat, again. It is, in a way, a compliment, as is the sort of contrail-like aftermath of his passing, violet waves of exhaust she and Lera now have to contend with.

There's no escaping Signum's revenge, however. The most he can do is summon up a Belkan triangle before him to take the worst of those screaming bowblasts. They detonate on impact, and he charges through the smoke cloud, as is his answer to virtually everything, and at close range challenges the General of the Raging Fire to handle the impending threat of his sword with her bow.

Meanwhile, Dark Heraut was bought a significant amount of time and space by Shadow Stern's intervention -- much to his disgust, no doubt -- but Fate is quick to fill it with her rage, with her passion... with herself. Dark Heraut elects to attempt to evade this bomb of a person, but lightning never tykes the same way twice, and she is partially caught. The electric-gold greatsword rips through that retreating robe, tearing most of it away and revealing more bodysuit, more damage... and more older, emptier Fate.

Dark Heraut seems almost confused by the command. Release what? He chimes dismay as he shifts back to scepter mode at last, and many, many explosive gems summon their way into existence. Like they did for Mikoto, they swirl, their power growing somewhat like a Divine Buster in terms of the visual of the column, albeit golden rather than hot pink -- then shoot.

Before the column of energy even clears fully from the sky, Ren is up close and personal. (After the column of energy clears fully from the sky, Mikoto has dropped like a stone; stunned, not dead, but down for the count.) The gems that formed the circle are also still present, and inventively they detonate, one after the next, interposing themselves between Ren's mighty blows and the scepter. These detonations cancel the worst of the impact like two opposite frequencies merging -- which tracks, Heraut v. Heraut -- but does not threaten Ren, either.

Passion, though -- Passion cries out the one great truth of her life as Pretty Cure, and smashes her fist directly into the scepter, and maybe the one enables the other or vice versa, but both definitely land. A disc of afterpunch shockwave blasts Dark Heraut's carrier back and for a split second it seems possible that she might drop the dark Device outright. But as her wrist trembles against the force, bands of pale purple light appear -- maybe they were always there -- and keep the scepter firmly in place.

<< 0r--- *** ****** *** * ***** ****** ****!! >> Heraut squawks at the former executive, but even the first word is unintelligible static, and the the rest of the sentence is worse. A slight crack can be seen on the scepter's bejeweled head, which has begun to pulse, instead of shining with its normally strong and steady light.

The rate of its pulse is accelerating... fast.

<< *** *3ph1*0...!! T-------T -4Z3*: M1*4G3 S*1FT!!!>>

The scepter writhes and pulses around its head, shifting back towards being a spear but getting kind of stuck halfway. Not so stuck, however, that phantasmal replicas cannot form, and execute on its behalf what it was trying to: swift, fierce strikes with superheated mana, made to smash through most defenses. In its current state it's terribly dangerous to use Turbulent Blazer, surely, let alone in this manner of extension. The crack on the gem spiderwebs further across it. And blood is dripping from between the fingers of the hand forced to hang onto the spear for what is, really, the opposite of dear, dear life.

Amid all this chaos, Kyouka reaches out for Shamal, and hears the soft femme voice reply to her, sounding too urgent to be tired, in the manner of the medic of a thousand battlefields: << Kyouka-chan... go ahead and release your barrier. I can take it over from here... the mirror maze is done. I think you're right about Endo. He must need serious help... and you're closest. If you can find him while I hurry to you, I can place you inside a shield together, to heal and protect you both. So, if you're ready, let the spell go, and I will catch it, in three, two, one-- now! >>

COMBAT: Dark Heraut has used Turbulent Blazer on Cure Passion.
COMBAT: Dark Heraut has used Turbulent Blazer on Ren Aizawa.
COMBAT: Shadow Stern has used Mana Burn on Lera Camry.
COMBAT: Shadow Stern has used Blauverschiebung on Signum Yagami.
COMBAT: Cure Passion partially dodges 10 Fatigue damage from Dark Heraut's Turbulent Blazer, taking 39 Fatigue damage!  Dark
Heraut is Psyched!  Cure Passion's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Lera Camry braces 13 Fatigue damage from Shadow Stern's Mana Burn, taking 20 Fatigue damage!  Lera Camry's Block and Parry
abilities activate!  Stagger applied to Lera Camry!
COMBAT: Signum Yagami partially dodges 7 Fatigue damage from Shadow Stern's Blauverschiebung, taking 29 Fatigue damage!  Signum
Yagami's Fade and Flash abilities activate!
COMBAT: Ren Aizawa neatly dodges 32 Fatigue damage from Dark Heraut's Turbulent Blazer, taking 8 Fatigue damage!  Ren Aizawa's
Flash ability activates!
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Lera comes out of the hallucination with a shock -- and a fast shake of her head. She stares at the wreckage of the hosue left by the shockwave, and then grimaces as Stern blitzes away. Violet waves of light slam into her, as she raises Broken Ground up.

The blast of violet energy slams into her shield, and that slams her backward. She flies into a shattered wall, then kicks off it. That leaves a large crack in the wall, as she looks up at Shadow Stern in the wake of his attack on Signum.

She can only spare a brief glance to Ren and Passion. She trusts Setsuna to see after her best friend.

So she blitzes into the air, zig-zagging with a trail of green light after her. As she does, she points the shield towards Shadow Stern. Broken Ground glimmers.

Then, a half-dozen glowing magma bombs appear -- more energy than substance, spectral and see-through -- and come rushing in towards Shadow Stern rapid-fire. <Terra Breaker!>

"Endo-kun, hope you're okay," Lera murmurs under her breath.

COMBAT: Lera Camry has used Terra Breaker on Shadow Stern.
COMBAT: Shadow Stern perfectly dodges 44 Fatigue damage from Lera Camry's Terra Breaker, taking 0 Fatigue damage!  Critical Dodge!
<Pose Tracker> Signum Yagami [None] has posed.

It is quite true - lightning rarely tykes twice - but fire can propagate quite readily. But is it the same flame, or a thousand new ones?

It is that storm that erupts down upon Shadow Stern as Signum's bolt polyfuricates, and by the time it is loosed Laevatein is already being changed into another form. But the speed and the ferocity of these beings -- particularly when there is that horrid revelation that they are LIVING --

It's a tactical restraint to Signum. A year ago, perhaps, it wouldn't have quite been; and before that? Not even a concern, not here and now.

But her choices are tightened further by their space. Even as Shamal speaks and offers to take over. Signum breathes out wordlessly.

Laevatein is raised up anew, this time gleaming in their glory as a sword, not as a whiplike chain nor as the bow. <<I'll fence them in,>> Signum replies to Lera swiftly while diving downwards, coming from the angle Lera does not take. As Broken Ground's bombardment begins, Signum swings the blade down -


And twists in another angle -


With bursts of flaming sorcery at each strike. Dodge the bombs and face the blade!

COMBAT: Signum Yagami has used Shiden Issen! on Shadow Stern.
COMBAT: Shadow Stern dodges 21 Fatigue damage from Signum Yagami's Shiden Issen!, taking 32 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  Signum
Yagami is Psyched!
<Pose Tracker> Kyouka Okazaki [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

There is much mayhem going on in the barrier-house above, but Kyouka can only pay a little bit of attention as she rushes to the barrier version of the front door, wrenching it open and diving right through without much care for decorum.

Most of the house has been demolished anyway, she can't possibly do much more to hurt its market value.

But outside (or the half-a-dimension shifted versiuon of it) is... better, in some ways--she doesn't have cover, but let's be honest, if cover was going to save her the house would be in much better shape. But what she does have is freedom of movement. It's not much, but it's something.

Part of her wants to go to Endo, but she knows she'd be straying too far from the protection of her friends--not that they need her to distract them from their fight.

But her call to Shamal gets a reply, and Kyouka blinks, looking up tot he sky to scan for the third device. If the mirror maze is done, then where... No. She'll have to trust Shamal's judgement. <<Okay. I can do that.>> And when Shamal counts, and reaches zero, Kyouka takes a deep breath and.... releases. <<It's yours.>>

It's a bit dizzying, after having that power channeling through her for even that brief amount of time, and then to have that flow suddenly drop. Like some sort of mana narcosis. But adrenaline is picking up the slack, and she has a friend to find and precious little time to do it in. She starts to run.

Running is a natural state for her, as much as breathing is. She knows the direction Fallen Stern arrived from, which makes it the direction their battle must have ended from, and steers herself in that direction. If it weren't for the people flying in the sky and pulling out flashy powers with flames and exploding gems and spears, it might actually be impressive in its own right, how Kyouka can effortlessly vault railings, run up fences, and jump over obstacles as she searches the replica of the neighborhood for Endo.

<Pose Tracker> Ren Aizawa [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

Ren grits her teeth as her hits are mostly absorbed. "Why you...!" She says in frustration, starting to feel the fatigue setting in. She shakes it off, though, unable and unwilling to let herself be weighed down by it. Not now. Especially not now.

She tosses a look down to the house where Kyouka is still currently maintaining the barrier. If another attack threatens her again... Ren shakes her head, accepting the fact that she'll do whatever it takes to protect her. Her thoughts then drift to the others as she turns to assess the current state of the field. Mikoto is seen on the ground, causing her to gasp in alarm. "Mikoto-san!" She grips Heraut tighter, feeling anger course through her as she whips back in Dark Heraut's direction, tears prickling the edges of her eyes, causing her vision to slightly blur. "You're-"

Whatever she's going to say to the dark device and its wielder is cut off when retaliation comes in the form of potentially devastating mana-infused lance strikes!

<EVADE!!!> Comes Heraut's urgent cry, and Ren is doing just that, not wanting to feel the sting of her own attack being used against her. She does an admirable job of getting out of the way, though still gets pinged by some of Dark Heraut's swipes which leaves a series of cuts in her barrier jacket. Nothing too grave, thankfully, but still enough to cause her to yelp slightly. Breathing heavily, Ren glares at her dark opponent, feeling herself shake with continued anger. There's only one path she can see before her. And she's going to take it.

A spell circle traces out beneath her feet, followed by a golden glow that permeates her body that turns her appearance hazy. Crouching down, the lance in her grip is enveloped in a white-hot light, and the air around her vibrates as well. Then she leaps up into the air, shooting up like a rocket reaching for the heavens. Her momentum comes to a sudden halt as she hangs there as if gravity has no power over her. Thrusting her lance downward, pointing directly at Dark Heraut, another spell circle traces out in the air behind her, and in an instant a multitude of phantasmal lances twist into existence, surrounding her in a circular halo of light.

It's magnificent.

And, hopefully, the end of this conflict.


And Ren comes streaking down like an angry missile from above, the lances following her downward as well, a cacophony of sound accompanying the act.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Ren Aizawa has used Apex Torrent on Dark Heraut.
<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

For an instant, Passion stares at Dark Heraut and her carrier, the shockwave traveling--but Dark Heraut is not dropped. Instead, that unintelligible static crashes against Passion's ears, and she sees the crack there. If it pulses...

Good, and bad. Maybe just bad. So those hammerstrikes of superheated mana crash towards her, and Passion tries to dodge and weave out of the way. She is able only to prevent those blasts from hitting her head-on; they still blaze and blister against her arms, a block with her hands still sending her flying backward. "Gh--"

"It's not over yet!" Passion cries back. Even if Mikoto is down--Mikoto, Passion knows, would want the enemy to be defeated. They must. So Passion rolls her shoulders and stands back up.

"Orders... are NEVER enough!" Passion calls. "To think for yourself, to feel for yourself--that's what you're denying those girls! That's what you're denying yourselves!" Cure Passion drops into a low stance, pulling her fist behind her to start to gather force. "You feel it, don't you? The errors in your programming... are because this isn't how it's supposed to be!"

Red light shimmers around Passion's hand, the air around her beginning to still and calm. "Ren-chan. As I said... I'm with you!"

She bends further at the knee and LEAPS, dust fromt he debris all around her as she swings forward and with great effort slams her fist towards that jewel once again, a crimson aura turning her into an outline of radiance.


Where Ren comes from above, Passion surges from the side, SLAMMING that fist straight for the Device!

COMBAT: FINISHER! Cure Passion has used Passion Drive on Dark Heraut.
COMBAT: Dark Heraut braces 43 Fatigue damage from Cure Passion's Finisher, Passion Drive, taking 35 Fatigue damage!  
COMBAT: Dark Heraut fails to brace Ren Aizawa's Finisher, Apex Torrent, taking 99 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  
<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.

The battle with Shadow Stern becomes a running one, a flying dogfight of the short Midchildans specialize in. Which is pretty funny, considering that Endo Naoki was never much of a flyer. It's possible that the problem is a lack of confidence, though, given the way that this Stern assists his holder in juking in and out and around Lera's magma bombs with pinpoint precision. He can't dodge everything, though, and Signum's plan to box him in is a good one; the flame of her blade carves away great swaths of his carrier's cloak, leaving her singed and increasingly vulnerable.

Taking a measured step back onto a violet Belkan triangle that flowers in midair beneath the carrier's foot, Stern sets himself at an upward angle across center mass of the carrier's body, and prepares to counterstrike, when--


Cure Passion continues her tirade. She brings forth a barrage of words, and only one punch -- and gets the feeling, as the backs of her red-streaming knuckles crash through the force field Dark Heraut summoned in self-defense, that the former may be more important than the latter after all. There's nothing in the eyes of the carrier, of course, and Dark Heraut doesn't have an expression. But there is something half-hearted in how the dark Device declines to defend itself more vigorously from the army of lances streaking down towards her from above.

Ren is at the Vanguard -- for an instant, Passion and Lera are both back on the battlefield of Belka, in that tragic last stand against the Enemy, beneath that now-familiar set of moons, on the windswept and lonely plains, watching their princess lead the charge -- but only for an instant.

Then they're back in Chofu and Ren's thousand and one lances (hers is the one) descend on Dark Heraut in an endless torrent. The carrier's cloak is reduced to tatters, then nothing at all, and the black bodysuit beneath, which is more of a barrier jacket, is getting shredded as well.

The lance itself snaps in half...

...and the bejeweled crown of the scepter form cracks squarely in half, when--


<< It's yours, >> says Kyouka.

There's a microsecond where Aizawa House flickers back into being, reappearing almost ghostlike around (fortunately, now, mostly below) the battle, as though it had never been harmed -- because, of course, it hadn't been.

Then the barrier is re-established, and Ren's home is gone again, before it was ever really there. Everything is as it was: the missing roof, the demolished living room, the splintered kitchen.

Everything, that is, except for the two people now present in the wreckage.

If the mirror maze is done, then where is Black Sky?

The Belkan longsword, held steadily in the palm of his black-cloaked maiden, has his very tip settled on the adams-apple-bobbing hollow of a certain boy's throat. A tiny runnel of blood is trickling down the edge of the blade.

The Fate clone tosses her head back, cowl falling away. Her eyes are the opposite of empty; they are filled with contempt. No Fate, no matter how strange, has ever looked at anyone like that.

<< Thank you for your cooperation, Kyouka-chan, >> smirks the voice of 'Shamal', which morphs, mid-sentence, into the unmistakable voice of Jail Scaglietti.

"Enough of this," he snaps, impatient. Rather than broadcasting telepathically, he communicates at a low shout, directly through the lips and lungs of his conduit, which never ceases to be creepy -- the way her vocal chords are made to reproduce his voice so precisely. "Ren Aizawa, come down here this instant."

The boy's eyes widen as he looks up at the sky.

"Don't listen to him!" he says roughly, starting to stand-- but the blade at his throat, plus the palm of Jail's hand, pushes him back down into a kneeling position. Jail shifts behind him, so that his throat is now bared to the edge rather than the tip of Black Sky.

"Tch," says Jail. "Hurry up. And nobody else move an inch, unless you want to make your friend an only child."

Bewildered but defiant, Yuu Aizawa holds very still -- but does not hold his tongue.

"Leave her alone! Ren, run!"

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

<<Got it!>> Lera answers Signum.

Lera soars backward -- eyes locked onto Fallen Stern, ready for him to attack. A pair of Midchildan circles spin into existence in front of her. Runes begin to fill in. Before she can fully manifest those -- and prepare a counterattack -- though, she hears a voice.

Her head snaps down, towards where Jail Scaglietti sstands. And Black Sky, with a blade to the throat of Ren's brother.

Lera freezes up. "What--"

<No!> Sky chimes. <He imitated Shamal... how!?>

<Pose Tracker> Kyouka Okazaki [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Wait, was everything supposed to flicker like that? That didn't happen the last time a barrier was handed off--

She skids to a stop as that telepathic voice morphs into one she knows full well.

She unleshes with some words that hopefully aren't in Yuu's English vocabulary, and finishes with a, "You bastard."

Right now she's too angry with Jail to feel angry at herself for falling for such a trick. But who knew telepathy could be faked?

Later, though... there will be plenty of time to be angry with herself. She had that instinct--the missing device she should have accounted for but didn't. Sure she's new to this game, and she doesn't even know all the rules, but... she should have trusted that instinct, dammit.

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

Vulnerable. Now they have to disable the Bearer so that they can remove them from the Device, like a delicate meat inside of a --

-- The house flickers.

And there is a sudden shock as the voice of Shamal begins to change abruptly.

Signum's blade comes up into a defensive posture -- not a thought, a reflex, drilled into her over unspeakable periods of time - and what is revealed is a call for Ren to come forth.

A blade at his throat.

Shamal in danger? Signum cannot tell. She silently sends a thought towards -- if this is not Shamal, then where is the true one? How long has she been deceived!?

Signum freezes herself in the sky. The concern for Shamal remains but that is not what is here, now, in front of them. Shamal is old and canny and wise; she will endure. That boy will not.

Signum makes herself breathe in and breathe out. Her eyes move over the others, slowly. Perhaps if they draw it out, she can compose some sort of tactic--

<Pose Tracker> Ren Aizawa [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

As Ren streaks by the Fate clone being pierced by her lances, she closes her eyes, tears falling down her cheeks. "I'm sorry." She utters, just loud enough for the girl to hopefully hear her. None of this is fair. These girls being used like this. It's not fair at all. She keeps going, only slowing as the ground approaches, and then lands, going down to one knee, breathing heavily, sweating and shaking from exertion. Steam billows forth from vents that pop out of the side of her lance, enveloping her momentarily before fading away. "I'm sorry." She repeats again, almost scared to turn and look at the aftermath of her assault.

"Ren Aizawa, come down here this instant."

Her head snaps up at those words. Standing up she spins around to see-

"YUU!" She screams, taking a few steps forward automatically, and then stops suddenly, tears still spilling down her face as she trembles. Sky's correct observation about Shamal being imitated is heard, though she has no further reaction to that. Hearing Yuu yell and plead for her not to give in on account of him is too much. She just can't deal with it! If something happens to Yuu she.. she...!

Wordlessly, she kicks off the ground and flies over to where Jail and Yuu are, landing in front of them, her face full of apprehension and fear. "I'm here. Please don't hurt him. It's me you want."

<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Passion sees it, she thinks. She sees something, anyway, in the way the Device doesn't defend as fiercely as she's sure it could. Maybe her words can reach him. Maybe...

Her hand hurts as she pulls it back, but she doesn't focus on it. It's not always a good habit, ignoring such things, but there are feelings more important to her right now than pain.

And for an instance, Passion feels that battlefield, that last stance--and blinks, shaking her head quickly as it disappears.

The gem cracks. Did they do it?

No. Something else--

"No!" Passion calls, when she sees Yuu threatened in that way. When she realizes what's happened. How...?

No, 'how' is for the mages. She only sees...

"She came like you asked!" Passion calls. "Let him go!"

What else can they do? She doesn't move.

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


Shamal's mirror maze ended a while ago, actually.

Black Sky found her first. But he was really already Jail by then, and one of his signature Momentum Traps was more than enough to stop her in her tracks. Once frozen in body, it was no great challenge to render her unconscious before she could cry out in mind. Add another little spell of his invention, a Mimicry Tracer, which he gently, literally traced along her cheekbone, and half of the mystery is solved.

Don't worry though; Shamal will be okay, and Signum can sense her continued survival through their bond, as well as her unconsciousness. That's because Jail would sooner level the Midchildan equivalent of the Sistine Chapel -- WITHOUT a barrier -- than harm one hair on Shamal's pretty little head. Like all the Wolkenritter, he considers her a work of art. Of course, works of art aren't people, per se.

Not that he's nicer to people.


"It was not particularly difficult to detect your brother on the other side of the barrier. After that, it was just a matter of ensuring the second barrier was tuned to include him," Jail helpfully, if unnecessarily, explains through the mouth of the Fate clone. "But he will be fine -- and YOU will be fine -- after you allow your Souverain Heraut to exchange information with mine. Just look at your other friends. We got Soaring Sky and Fallen Stern's data the very first night, and I'd argue that it was an enrichment for both parties. Just as you can't miss something you never had, you can't find something if you didn't know that it was lost."

Big talker, this one. But his hand -- her hand -- is very steady on the blade, and the blade remains very steady on the pulsating throat of Ren's brother, whose distress is mounting at his sister's approach.

Water swells behind Yuu's eyes, more from her pain than his own. It seems that when the chips are down, this hugely obnoxious nerd of a big brother... is one hell of a big brother.

"Don't give him what he wants," he says through a throat thick with unshed tears. "Ren, I--"

Jail puts the Fate clone's other hand over Yuu's mouth.

"Where were we? Ah, yes."

He looks over at Dark Heraut, who is almost shattered. Heraut's control over his Fate clone-carrier seems frayed as well; she has sunk to the ground, able to cradle the broken jewel but not much else, like a puppet whose strings have been cut.

"Fallen Stern," Jail says, "Bring Souverain Heraut to Aizawa's copy."


There is no question of who is being addressed here. Stern floats down past Lera and Signum to do as he is asked. At first the carrier tries to pluck Dark Heraut from the limp palms of his clone directly, but there's a sort of subtle resistance in the air -- Jail's tongue clicks with disdain.

"Use a binding, fool."

<< YES. >>

A violet energy ring traces around Heraut, suspending it like a prisoner; then it floats over towards Jail and the Aizawas. Closer, closer.

"Souverain Heraut, prepare for data instantiation."


  • clink*

Jail blinks the older Fate's eyes, hard.

Stern tries pushing the two Devices together again, like a pair of dolls. What SHOULD have happened, many here recollect from when it happened to Endo and Lera's Devices, is that they temporarily merged in a sort of mutual incorporeality. But...

  • clink*
  • clink*

<< N0 >> rasps Dark Heraut in a whine of telepathic feedback painful enough to give an instant migraine. << * W1LL N-- >>

"WHAT?" Jail recoils, appalled, enraged, and -- in a sickly, twisted undertone of emotion -- intrigued.

<< --0t. L1k3. Th1-. >>

Jail recoiled. The hand that should be on Yuu is stroking the chin of the clone he's inhabiting like a curious professor. Black Sky is still at the boy's throat, but his master is thoroughly distracted--

--now is the time for action.

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

Shamal lives. Signum's heart is eased to feel that, though there are the ten thousand other subtle frustrations and furiousnesses that will attend the near future.

But that is then. As the saying goes, a problem for 'future' Signum. For Present Signum, there is only Jail Scagletti to contemplate. Jail helps Signum by speaking at some length. Jail's proposal is modest, and perhaps, reasonable. All these wonderful things of mutual benefit and co-operation, and he says this, of course, after nearly destroying the house.

Signum's eyes narrow. That is the only motion from her for long seconds. Jail is reaching forwards - commanding the two to reach out and take what was taken. Contact...

... and nothing happens.

By the time Jail blinks stolen eyes Signum is already moving her hand to slide several cartridges against Laevatein's hilt and slide them in quietly. During the stunned aftermath, Signum sees that opening in Dark Heraut's agony.

Stille Mode, Signum informs Laevatein, who pulses back, without words. The cartridges are inserted, and she begrudes the fraction of a second thus involved, and then she begins her dive --

Without the passion of your voice, of course, magic cannot reach its ultimate pitch, but Signum is not trying for the ultimate pitch of destruction: she is trying to smash into Jail with Laevatein held out as a burning brand to knock the tip of the blade away from Yuu's throat before it could do anything more! (Perhaps there would be a scrape or a scratch, but there is enough of the old blood soaked general in Signum to consider this a tolerable margin.)

Hopefully, a silent flame will strike as well as a raging one; she is hardly raging this moment. The battle was hard, and swift, and this betrayal pained her heart. Even so--

-- the Barrier Jacket will remain for a few seconds, from inertia if nothing else. Signum has trust in the others, as once she had only trust for a handful.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Signum Yagami has used Kouga Shiden Issen on Black Sky.
COMBAT: Black Sky accepts Signum Yagami's Finisher, Kouga Shiden Issen, taking 245 Fatigue damage!  Critical Hit!  
COMBAT: Signum Yagami is unable to keep fighting!
<Pose Tracker> Lera Camry [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"You bastard!" Lera shouts down at Jail, her face growing red with anger. Her fingers tremble around Soaring Sky -- her Soaring Sky's hilt -- and then she looks to Dark Heraut. She can't so much as strike at Stern, as he floats down with Heraut.

But none of them expected what happens next. Defiance, from this copy of Heraut; Lera doesn't know what it means.

Someone else might be frozen. Lera has never worked that way; she isn't frozen in place. She's a creature of impulse, operating on a thought that comes to mind, which is to move when Jail seems to freeze up. A strange gesture, from a clone of Fate.

She registers Signum moving to free Yuu, with a silent spell. The moment the flame goes up, Lera swings Broken Ground out in front of her -- and the shield lights up, energy crackling over it.


Three dozen glowing magma rocks form -- and swing in like meteors. They don't explode, weaving around Yuu to fire into Black Sky and Jail's puppeted body (with a flinch in Lera's eyes, at having to strike Fate again, afte rall these years). But, at the moment, punting him -- meteorically -- from Yuu is her first goal.

COMBAT: FINISHER! Lera Camry has used Gaia Cataclysm on Black Sky.
COMBAT: Black Sky accepts Lera Camry's Finisher, Gaia Cataclysm, taking 106 Fatigue damage!  
<Pose Tracker> Ren Aizawa [Infinity Institute (12)] has posed.

Nothing else matters right now. Only Yuu's safety is paramount to her. "I'm sorry, Yuu-chan." Ren says, tears still falling steadily. "I'm sorry for all of this." She stands there, completely at Jail's mercy. When Shadow Heraut is brought over, she flinches, but doesn't make any sudden moves. Wordlessly, she watches as the dark device is placed up against Heraut. "Heraut... I'm sor-"

But then, nothing happens. Blinking, Ren looks to Dark Heraut who is... refusing? But... why? Jail also seems to be taken aback by this, and there's a moment where everything is uncertain...

...But things don't stay that way for long. First Signum comes down and delivers a powerful flame strike to Shadow Stern. And then Lera is acting next, streaking meteors battering the Jail-controlled Fate clone to force her away from Yuu.

<An opening!> Heraut cries out, and Ren doesn't think. She zooms forward, reaching out to grab onto her beloved older brother. "Hang on tight, Yuu-chan!" She shouts as she attempts to pull him into the air along with her, flying away from any sort of danger that may seek Yuu out.

<Pose Tracker> Kyouka Okazaki [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

Jail is clearly a person who will go to great lengths to get what he wants, although Kyouka does not yet know the full depths of how he orchestrated this particular hostage situation. But she is tense, frozen in place. She can't take any action--the one spell she knows, well, she's not about to test what happens when you try to shift half a dimension to the right twice. No attacks. She could find Endo, but since Shamal apparently isn't going to be shielding them and providing some healing, that doesn't seem that productive.

Not to mention Yuu's being held hostage. She might not be much of a threat but she's under no illusion that anything she might try to do would provoke some rather extreme retaliation.

But Signum and Lera both take action, using Jail's puzzlement to act, and once Ren grabs her brother away... Kyouka takes off running. She can make sure she doesn't become a second hostage.

Kick off a fence to direct herself up, over the fence, drop down into a roll and immediately get into a sprint without losing much momentum, and a sliiiiiiide to a stop right beside Cure Passion. She's panting for breath, having taxed herself into getting every ounce of speed she can, and can only give her friend a brief nod in greeting.

<Pose Tracker> Cure Passion [Juuban Public School (10)] has posed.

There's an opening... As Dark Heraut refuses. 'Not like this'. Had Passion's words gotten through to him? Maybe. But Jail is there, with Yuu, and--

The others are in a position to attack, and move. Passion isn't. She is in a position to marvel at the quick movement and thinking of Signum, at Lera's sheer power. And her eyes widen as she regards both--and sees Ren, taking Yuu away--


Kyouka rushes to her, runs to her--and Passion sees what she can do. She reaches out to take Kyouka's hand, and forms the other into a fist, staring right at Jail.

She's ready.

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

Jail is justly proud of his mind -- his greatest weapon, and in his not too humble opinion the only weapon that really matters. But genius can be a weakness, too, especially genius that has a propensity to hyperfocus at inopportune times.

Which is to say that he did not see Signum and Lera coming. Laevatein knocks Black Sky wide indeed, the superheated, silent flame even melting the tip of the sword into slag. And Lera's meteors slam into the Fate clone's body, one after the next. It may provide some satisfaction that it's Jail who feels the pain, but it's cold comfort indeed, his yelp of surprise and alarm, given that it's the clone who's getting burned.

And then Ren rushes in and carries Yuu off.

He throws his arms around her waist instinctively, Tonno to her Kiki, and away they go into the Tokyo sky...

Yuu's voice catches in his throat as he looks down at his sister and the city spread out beneath them, the million million lights of humanity shining in the darkness. And Ren, shining still more brilliantly.

"Sis," he breathes, "This is incredible. You're incredible...!"

...the Tokyo sky! Stars and all, and a silvery Moon.

Jail must have dropped the barrier again.


After Ren swept Yuu off his feet, the others, at the perimeter of the wrecked house -- Lera soaring in the front yard, Signum on her very last legs out back, Passion and Kyouka off to one side -- see the way Jail's eyes roll with an uncontrolled lividity, how he is literally shaking with rage. If he is in the grip of madness it is a madness of toxicity, a putrid and terrible emotion, a fire the opposite of Signum's own...

His eyes flick over to Kyouka, now guarded by Pretty Cure, then back to the Device suspended in a purple energy ring.

"You useless piece of trash!" he screams at his Souverain Heraut. "We're going back immediately!"

Dark Heraut -- though is that really the right name for him now? -- flickers the light inside his broken gem but does not otherwise reply. It seems that resisting the merge, and the will of his -- what, exactly, is Jail to these dark Devices? Not their wielder, that's the Fate clones. What did he first say when he revealed himself to the group? That he was removing the weak link by removing the humanity from the operation of a Device?

'Orders are never enough,' cried Cure Passion. 'To think for yourself, to feel for yourself-- that's what you'rue denying those girls! That's what you're denying yourselves!'

Whatever Jail is to Heraut, he is still his owner, it seems. And Shadow Stern's. And Black Sky's. The three of them shout in unison,




And since Stern was carrying Heraut, Heraut vanishes too, in that spinning Belkan triangle and the blinding light that follows.

But afterwards...

...after they re-enter the house (because no one was inside, not Lera who was floating in the front yard, nor Signum who collapsed from her last legs in the back; not Kyouka and Passion, who were out on the street; and certainly not Ren and Yuu, who were having a moment above Tokyo), the pristine house -- the saved house, saved by all of them --

-- besides the strewn-about study materials, the abandoned snacks, and the cell phones cheeping curfew alarms for those who have worried parents --

-- there's something else left behind, too.

Someone else.

Shadow Stern was carrying Heraut when the mass teleport went off.

But no one was carrying his carrier.

She is curled on the ground, clenched tightly into a fetal position. Her cowl has finished its transformation into dust, and her barrier jacket bodysuit is gone too; beneath are only black bandages, enough for modesty's demands but not enough to live a life outside of combat or a medical bay. Her chest is moving slightly, shallowly. She is not dead. But unlike Shamal, this feels less like being spared, and more like an oversight.

Her eyes, always so empty, have closed.

Who knows what will be behind them the next time they open...?