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Silver Carnation LAST TIME: The group met Peter Pan as the Lost Children, seeking to help him have a fun summer time in Neverland and make friends. Weird things happen as it goes on, leading them to believe that only two people here, besides themselves, are actually real. Peter Pan, and a teenaged girl name Wendy. Muramasa gained mermaid scales with which to forge a sword, ostensibly for Peter.

NOW: As the group goes down the warpgate on the hill overlooking Neverland, there's screams in the distance. Fires have spread across Neverland, spawned by flaming cannonballs. Captain Hook is here.

One of his smaller vessels full of a boarding party hit the lagoon, apparently, and immediately got injured and stopped by Muramasa's spiky trap. The mermaids are battling them off, leaving the main ship ahead.

The Jolly Roger is the picture of a pirate's ship, with the classic skull and crossbones, sailing near the coast and firing at any territories it gets a chance of.

Wendy, the girl with the light blue hair and the sad sigh, is near the beach, waiting for the group. "You're...the people from the portal! You can't let it continue, you have to make it end! Please!"

Peter Pan and the magical girl Silver Carnation are also here. Peter Pan brandishes whatever sword he has, while Silver kicks off and into the air. Tinkerbell, the tiny fairy as blonde as Peter is, sprinkles fairy dust on any who need it to fly over to the ship. "Hurry, Lost Children! Make Peter Pan's dreams come true! Help him defeat the pirate!"

At the wheel stands a man wearing a blue pirate's outfit, matching the color of his hair. His left eye is covered in a patch, and a hat is over his head. A long cutlass is sheathed at his side. "I'll get you, Peter Pan, today's the day! Yo ho yo!" He has a resolved expression of calm on his face.

Captain Hook brandishes a free hand and waves it, issuing another order of cannon fire. A short man runs back and forth, delivering his orders.
Phasewalker     When Ainkli arrives, it's dressed in his standard spacer gear, with the Concord colors on it. He walks out of the warp gate with no particular hurry, not even when he hears cannons and screams in the distance. He isn't unflappable, mind, he grows visibly more tense as more explosions go off, but it's more like a cat hearing thunder than a person hearing war. His tail curls and lashes behind him even as he nears where Wendy is. His alien, radioactive-green eyes peer down at her, his nose following the trajectory slower as if her worry were not his concern. His expression is blank for a second.

    Then he smiles. "'kay."

    He lifts his head, scans the horizon, and spots the center of the problem. The pirate ship. Being the objective-oriented mercenary that he is, he immediately vanishes in a WOOMPF of a collapsing air pocket, and appears on the deck of the ship in an instant, materializing in an empty space as if he had always been standing there. After that he takes a second to get his bearings and make sure he isn't about to be shanked by the crew, and turns to identify the cannons. Once he's spotted where they rest, he flicks a hand to try and shove a cannon or three off the ship with a telekinetic push, which has enough force to lift and launch a boulder, and surely enough to shatter wood if needed. It'll be awfully hard to dredge a cannon out of the seawater in the middle of a battle, he hopes.

    "Sure hope they have treasure on this ship," he muses aloud, "Or all I'm getting out of this is an exciting fight."
Muramasa Muramasa, indeed, had used most of the scales and fashioned an excellent magic sword much lighter than steel, yet even more effective than a saber made from such. It catches light and reflects it in a multitude of colors perfectly, the perfect shining sword for a boy with fancies. For Peter, is proportions are closer to a longsword than anything; Muramasa himself could have wielded it in one hand as a short-sword, but at the end of the day, it was better suited for Peter's hands than his own in this regard.

He'd seemed plum and satisfied with how it turned out, and was more than happy to relinquish it to Peter along with a scabbard made with local wood, as well as ensuring he knew how to hold and carry it properly.

    Which brought them to the here and now.

"Is there a problem with letting his dream play out to the end?" Muramasa queries Wendy, once again fully dressed now that he was no longer enjoying a relaxing time in the lagoon.
Hibiki Tachibana     Weird things certainly did happen in Neverland last time they were here. It's kind of unsettling and a little scary, as far as Hibiki is concerned. Interacting with people who react like that and might not even be real is naturally just really off for her especially.

    But for Peter's sake and to keep his childish wonder intact, she decided to keep following along with things, at least for now. And she figured John of all people would also appreciate getting to know about this, and would almost definitely want to lend a hand.

    She just wishes it was under better circumstances than Captain Hook finally showing, and when the non-Concord end of the group emerges out of the warpgate overlooking everything, she doesn't waste any time skidding-more-than-sprinting down the hill and dashing on towards the beach.

    She didn't get to see Wendy last time, but identifying them as 'the people from the portal' is enough to know. And something about the way she says that doesn't sit right with her. Still, no matter how weird Neverland and its inhabitants might be, she can't stand around and let this happen. "...We will. I promise."

    With a nod to the girl, Hibiki accepts some of the flying dust to take the air and aim herself down at the pirate's ship. "Balwisyall nescell Gungnir tron..."

    A golden light comes down on the deck, resolving into Hibiki standing back up as it breaks away to reveal her adorned in her Symphogear. The nearest cannoneer gets a casual sweep of her leg to bowl him over, though her attention is squarely on the captain at the helm. She's gauging that calm expression...and his response.

    "Captain Hook! ...Just give up right now. You should know you shouldn't be able to beat all of us coming to stop you."
Hiromi     Hiromi missed her first chance to meet Wendy, and her second is interrupted by the arrival of pirates. Or rather, by the arrival of cannon and fire, heralding pirates. With the promise of battle, though some misgivings as to its 'reality,' she arrives with little delay. She is, as ever, a giant of a wolf-woman, whose presence is greater than her size, who walks with her heels raised and leaning forward, like she's about to leap at any moment. A sharp-toothed carnivore, a picture of deadly perfection, who brings others into the foreground of vision just by being near them.

    And she is utterly ignored by the town's inhabitants, unless she does something to address them. And even then, it's only her words to which they respond, and that but barely. Little else could emphasize what she'd said before, and now repeats, "No spirit within these ones. No soul. Toys of dust, paintings on the wall."

    But Wendy's different. To Wendy, Hiromi asks, "To end what?" She says that while getting close, to take the scents from where Wendy's come. Some other world, surely, and not this one. This is a place people go to, for their own peculiar reasons, but not a land in which Hiromi can imagine one dwelling for very long.

    "I do not fly," Hiromi says to Tink, when asked. She is then given fairy dust. She still won't fly, but all it harms is that it makes her sneeze, once.

    There's a ship out there, and Hiromi wants to get to it. All this requires is that she leap out onto the water, strike its surface hard enough with her feet that it has no time to flow around her, and launch herself again. She finally catches herself on the ship's rigging with one hand, pulling it hard enough that it's a miracle it doesn't break, arresting her forward velocity into a spin, and then landing on the deck.

    And there's the captain. To Hook, Hiromi says, "You. Are you here?"

    Aside to Ainkli, Hiromi says, "Some little treasures on the island. Buried. Here, more, maybe."

    To Hibiki, "Does he know?"
Zephyrman      Well.

     This is awesome.

     It's every game of pretend every little kid has ever enjoyed. It's pirates and mermaids and flying swordfights and *Captain Hook*. It's a book that John Alan James grew up on, that his father used to read to him when he was a boy. It's a book that almost assuredly lent itself at least a little to John's own philosophies, to his ideals, to the creation of Zephyrman.

     He can fly under his own power.

     He has a flute that brings hope to the abandoned.

     He has a companion that can help him fly whenever he needs it.



     John's grin is as wide as can be as he passes through the warpgate into Neverland. Danger is part of an adventure story. You *have* to have danger, or it's just an anecdote. And there are people in danger - which is good, because it means John can divert some of that danger onto himself, and inspire in the process. He can bring even more heart to Neverland. Besides, who doesn't want to fight the, *the*, pirate, alongside Peter Pan? It's the adventure of a lifetime. But...

     Wendy begs them to make it stop. Light blue hair and sad eyes. It takes him out of the excitement for just a moment. It's not like C's missions, where it was just fighting a giant monster, where he could show off. This is someone pleading for help.

     So his smile becomes a broad grin, and he moves in front of Wendy, and he gives her a thumbs-up over his shoulder as the Gale Whistler appears in his hand. "Don't worry. Just smile."


     He spins the Gale Whistler up to tap the side of his head, still looking at her over his shoulder. "Nobody is allowed to look sad when I'm around."

     John holds up the flute. "The wind is calling me...that voice I heard once before..."

     "It chants the name of my soul!"

     He plays. It's a strong song, a fast song, a song that cuts through the chaos of the battlefield as if to say - Don't Worry. I'm Here. The wind whips up, blowing about loose hair, loose clothing, loose outfits, arrows, and everything else. It whirls into a cyclone around John Alan James.

     The music stops.

     The wind disappears. What's left in its place is armor. Beautiful, knightly white armor, lined with glowing red that pulses like a heartbeat. A helmet like a Roman warrior, crowned in gold laurels, flared with feathers. A flowing scarf that settles down. He stands in front of Wendy like a heroic knight from a storybook, an image only enhanced when he snaps the flute down and it blazes to life as a beam saber.

     "The name of my soul is..."


     Zephyrman walks forward.

     He wants to help Peter Pan. He really, truly does. Who could pass up this opportunity? Who could pass up the chance to fight alongside a childhood hero, someone whose book was read to you so often its pages are dog-eared and torn, someone whose book is so loved it's covered in the spilled water and the broken spine that says it's been held in the highest of regards for as long as it's been in your hands?

     But someone asked him to help make it stop.

     Someone asked him.

     And she had sad eyes.

     And John Alan James is the kind of man who wants to make people smile.

     So Zephyrman kicks off from the ground with the roar of jet engines, and rises into the air on the sound of the wind.

     And he just interposes himself directly in between Hook and Peter.

     "Sorry, Peter Pan." There's the sound of a smile in his voice, a strained one. "Sorry, Captain Hook. I really..."

     "I desperately want to play with you guys!"

     "But I can't just ignore someone with eyes like that begging me to make you stop."

     "So what's it going to take to end this and make everybody here smile?"
Cantio Cantio arrives as quickly as possible when she learns that Neverland is under attack, already breaking into a run when she hears the screams and sees the fires. "We're on it! Get somewhere safe, and..." She pauses briefly as she looks over Wendy to see if she has any visible injuries. If not, she continues with "If you find any survivors, take them further away from the coast if you can. Somewhere wet, but not the woods!"

When Cantio sees more of those flaming cannonballs coming down, she inhales sharply as she recalls the powers she was granted by a certain psychic ally. She sees a hand at first, her own hand reaching out to stop... No, to grab the cannonballs out of the air and throw them back at the ship, to smack them right out of the sky and pulverize them into a harmless flaming explosion.

And then she does it. A telekinetic force catches a cannonball in mid-flight,  tosses it right back at the Jolly Roger if it hasn't exploded already. Another force just slams into another cannonball, possibly exploding it in midair while Cantio tries to first limit the damage being done to Neverland.

Cantio sees several others going right to the ship, and she'll join them shortly. She just needs to try to stop the damage first.
Persephone Kore      Persephone is here, adorned in her typical regalia of a comfy ribbed keyhole sweater, chunky bold arm-warmers, and hand-knitted scarf. It's way too warm for clothes like those, but she doesn't seem to mind in the slightest!

     In her hand is a bottle that once held a note, discovered by Cantio. The note mentioned 'missing London'. In Peter Pan's mind, last time, she saw memories of London too- the dreary, awful place that Tinkerbell rescued him from.

     Does he long to go back there? Or did someone else write the note? And does it have anything to do with 'Captain Hook'?

     The ancient paper on which the note was scribbled had crumbled to dust in Cantio's hands. But glass can tell her stories, too. Sitting calmly on a hillside as fires burn and cannonballs rain down, I tune myself to the frequency of the bottle's story- a kind of narrative psychometry!

     If what she were asking were put into words, it'd sound like: "Why are you the way that you are?" Who's left their metaphorical fingerprints on it? In what hope was it buried?

     But she's not too absorbed in her analysis to give a fond wave to the assorted friends and heroes! Even in a situation like this, Persephone exudes an aura of cozy warmth, like a disembodied infectious smile. This is sort of a play-fight, isn't it? Like fighting with action figures, like playground make-believe. It warms my heart to see them having so much fun with it.

     Cantio, in particular, gets a particularly sunny smile. "Aw, you're so confident these days! It warms my heart, you know. I really am proud of you."
Staren     Last time, Staren fortified the mermaids' lagoon with magitech cannon auto-turrets that fire blasts of telekinetic force that she *thought* would be more than enough to drive off any but the most determined pirate captain... That the defenses have been tripped means she has been notified, of course.

    Again she's in the younger tween-ish body she used last time to appear more kidlike for Neverland, apparently switching no longer requires a lengthy upload/download process. An inch or two shorter than her usual body with shoulder-length hair, this time it's dressed in a red hooded cloak over a white overdress over a sea green underdress, as Staren's clueless attempts at fashion mix with trying to look like a kid. It would almost look period-appropriate if not for the modern athletic-style hiking boots. She didn't bother with the backpack this time, just carrying the usual messenger bag at her side under the cloak.

    She zooms out of the warpgate riding her broom, "Damn it! I thought we'd have more time to power up Peter..." She checks the status of the lagoon's cannons, seeing if any remain operational to hit Hook's ship. No holding back, it seems she's got to seriously try to sink him!

    Oh hey, Ainkli is here! "Well, this--" she starts to explain as she approaches, but he's already teleported. She lands by Wendy and puts the broom away in the bag too small for it. "End what? The attack? Or the... dream? Should it really be ending this soon? Peter hasn't even gotten any artifacts of power to defeat Hook with..." Okay, Muramasa brought a sword! "...well, I guess that will do."

    She pulls a knockoff M72 LAW out of her bag, kneels on the beach, "Stand clear!" and fires it at Hook's hull to get his attention. "HEY! HOOK! Can we challenge you to a contest or something, or are only dramatic duels on the table?!"
Silver Carnation Peter Pan was excited about his new sword. So much that he took to calling it Stardust, based on how it reflected light. Kicking off at the appointed time, he shouted out to Captain Hook.

"You adults are all the same! Yo ho yo somewhere else!"

Wendy, meanwhile, responds to Muramasa. "As long as it *ends*, it's fine. Please, aid him. I believe in him." Hiromi gets a brief glance, and then a mutter. "This story...needs to end."

Hibiki flies over, as Phasewalker begins pushing cannons overboard. The crew tries to attack him with knives after they notice a few, but they're weak. He can fight them off or teleport away easily.

"Ah, another Lost Child. You're an interesting one, with those fists. You think it's so easy to give up? That's not what people do. Why, I'm the one with the crew, little girl. But, if you insist..." He puts a hand in his coat...

And Captain Hook draws a flintlock and moves to blast her in the chest! The power of 'fantasy' allows the bullets to affect even those immune to mundane weapons, but it's still just a bullet, not a super slug or something.

Cantio's able to catch the cannonballs, seizing the damage done to the villagers. With the cannons stopped, there's no more threat of violence.

"Am I here?" Captain Hook responds to Hiromi, perhaps tellingly. "Or there? Anywhere? I'm on this ship, and I'm facing you. You smell like wet dog." The other hand moves to grab the cutlass, shining brightly.

Zephyrman tries to stop the violence. He merely gets a resigned sigh. "There's only one way this ends. You children wouldn't understand." Peter and Silver both chime in, almost in sync. "We understand better than adults do!"

He's deft, too. When Silver responds by firing a blast, he parries it with extreme skill, despite it being magic. When Peter comes in with the sword, though, they clash, pushing Hook backwards.

And then Hook moves to stab the cutlass into Zephyrman's armor, trying to rake across it, before discarding his pistol and grabbing another off the brace to fire at Hiromi!

The last remaining cannon is fired at Staren as the bazooka shot goes flying. Luckily, the ship isn't sunk. Unluckily, the last cannon on this side is blown off and the ship is damaged. Silver shouts out. "Don't sink the ship!!! All the treasure will go down with it!"

"Cannons down...crew, brace!" Hook shouts out, as they form a defensive line against further attackers flying in.

Persephone attunes herself to the bottle. She can hear the note read out. 'Oh, how I miss London. This fantasy will be the death of me, of course, but before I go, if only I could see it one last time.'

The note belongs to an adult man. A specific one - the only one it could possibly be, with dark blue hair. It was created out of a sense of longing for something he could never have again, after he resigned himself to a specific fate. A message in a bottle to never be heard.

A message of a man sworn to die.
Phasewalker     Ainkli is not weak like these pirates. He is not easy to hurt. But he is not, however, invincible or suicidal. He teleports away to another point on the deck, up on a railing where he can hold onto some of the rigging, his knees bent for balance and his tail lashing in the air behind him. His head cranes to peer into the ship when it shows its innards, and the sign of the inner compartments makes him smile. But... he reaches out, and flexes a hand, and there's a strange, soft glass-like crinkling noise as polygonal surfaces of telekinetic power seal over the hole, to prevent the ship's sinking. Invisible to the naked eye, though.

    He scans the horizon, getting a view of things as they are just under the surface. His mind opens to psychic potential-- he flinches as he spots Persephone Kore, who shines like a bright star standing on earth to those senses. He gazes at the story as it unfolds, bizarre kaleidoscopes of intent overlapping all around him, forming the physical stuff of his environment. He refocuses, looking to Peter and to Hook.

    He frowns at what he sees. A child fighting a man resigned to die.

    He lids his eyes and disappears again from his perch with a soft 'woompf', so he can enter the depths of the ship he can see, and begin searching for a box of treasure to steal. He isn't in the mood to watch this play out. It's hitting too close to home.
Cantio "R-really? Ah.. Thanks! I'm still working on it, even if it's not always-" Cantio looks from Persephone to Hibiki in the distance, taking a moment to steady herself as she gets ready to just head right for the boat. "-popular with... Er. Anybody. But that's fine."

Cantio transforms in a pillar of light, and then she starts floating. "Doing hard things isn't always popular. Now, let's finish this story!" And then she's off, flying towards the boat and looking for a good angle to strike while circling around in midair. When hears that Hook is resigned to die, however, she slows to a stop.

"If we took him to London, what do you think would happen to Peter?" She asks while touching down upon the ship, sword drawn while looking from Peter to Hook. "I mean... What would even happen to Hook himself if we tried to take him out of this place? I agreed to help Peter, so..."

Cantio has a constant grimace on her face as she braces the sword against her shoulder, advancing towards Hook slowly all the while. "Peter... What do you know about all of this? Hook, tell us what you know as well. Do you really want this?" She sounds uncertain, but not so uncertain that she stops herself from taking a swing at Hook, albeit a somewhat halfhearted one as she struggles to figure out what it is that's going on. It's almost more of a push than a real slash, although it has enough force behind to still do a fair amount of damage if it's not defended against.
Zephyrman      Behind the mask, John just grins.

     "Sorry, you magnificent...ah, no, I shouldn't say that around kids...


     "I've read your book!"

     Hook stabs Zephyrman's armor. There's a flash of sparks, the bright splatter of a toku explosion that everybody knows, smoke and sparks and special effects that nonetheless look really painful on impact.

     But John grabs onto the sword as hard as he can in one hand. It's going to spark, too, as he clings to it for just a moment, to force Hook to commit a few extra seconds to him. They need a few extra seconds.

     And, privately, John wants to see if the red eyes are true.

     But he lets go and Peter goes past to swordfight, as is proper. The cannons go down, the crew braces, and Zephyrman brings up the Gale Whistler. He plays a tune.

     The sky turns black. Thunderbolts leap across the water. The waves kick up, not enough to sink the ship - just enough to be dramatic. And then, from out of the sky, it comes.

     It's a huge, blocky-looking jet.

     The jet soars down and unfolds.

     It splits in half down the middle. Jet engines fold outward into legs. Wings click upwards onto the back. Arms emerge from the sides.

     It's ridiculous.

     It lands with a *thud*, the crashing of waves around it, the crack of thunder peeling out around it, as the wind whips up and jumps into the sails. A head - sleek, white, and helmed - pops out with a click.

     Meanwhile, Zephyrman flies over the ship and lands on the shoulder of the massive machine. "The lord of the skies who brings justice from on high - behold, and know his name!"


     Zephyrman plays a tune on the flute. The massive machine, in response, just *wraps* its hand around the ship. It won't let the ship sink. Period.

     This is a small consolation, not getting to *really* swordfight Captain Hook, but it's one that he'll smile about later.
Muramasa         "I see..."

Accepting what Wendy said at face value, Muramasa stands there with his arms crossed for several moments. The look on Peter's face, that smile as he brandished his new sword, Muramasa made sure to remember it. The joy he brought to a little boy. As the conversation continued and various points are brought to light -- such as that Hook was, like Peter and Wendy, 'dreaming' here ... is that what this was really boiling down to? I wanted to keep out of it and let Master, and everyone else, have fun messing around here. But the situation is changing. Someone actually is going to die for this ... but there has to be a way to get through without just turning around and beating up a child, telling him that he's wrong. I'd be trash for doing something like that.

"You know. I don't really like dour endings like that .. " he off-hands to Wendy, chuckling slightly, "When you get older, the more you live through things like that, the more you wind up wondering what it'd be like if things had been different. I'm sure that, this is also how you're feeling now, right? ... Well, I'm unfortunately not a super hero like Zephyrman, or Featherman, or Summer Island Mask. I'm just a blacksmith."

"Even so, I'd really like it if everyone could walk away from this with a smile."

        "Trace on."

Uncrossing his arms, he holds his hands out and begins to project. Magical energy gathers in his palms as he closes his eyes and calls forth the image from his soul; it took some extrapolating on his part, especially since these weren't swords, but -- it should still be possible for him to re-create them, he thinks.

The grid-like patterns wrap and shape themselves into isometric shapes before they begin to fain succor and are filled with his magical energy, shaped to the specifications etched into his existence.

Seconds turn into minutes as he carefully takes his time. Unlike tracing Rho Aias in a pinch, he had time to take tracing these gemstones to the best of his ability.

By the time he's done, sweat dribbles from his forehead and an uneasy breath leaves his mouth. "Alright, it's done. Now ..."

Each of the Tide Jewels dangle from his fingers by elegant chains, the rare and divine minerals themselves glistening brightly as he breathes in. They were the same precious finery used by Owatatsumi-no-Kami; a central figure in Japan's creation myth. "In these hands I hold nothing less than the sea itself."

Clasping his hands together, the jewels begin to shine as they clack against one another. The waters that Hook's great gallion sails over begin to churn unsteadily.

In a matter of moments, the waters rip and roar, tossing the ship hither and thither as if it were caught in a monsoon.

    For any other vessel, it would have already capsized.

Thankfully, HurriKaiser prevents it from being swallowed up whole by the gaping maw of the deep blue sea, even as a whirlpool rages just off of its bow. All it would take is a nary slip, and someone would find themselves within its briney bowels.
Hibiki Tachibana     "...Yeah. They don't." Hibiki gives a small, resigned grin as Hook declares his intention to fight. The way he speaks, acknowledges their words so directly, that told her everything she wanted to know - the Captain is a real man. Like Peter, or Wendy, not one of the normal inhabitants of Neverland. Maybe it would've been a lot easier to handle all of this if he was, butthe fact that he's not...and when it's confirmed not long after...

    <J-IC-Scene> Persephone Kore says, "Captain Hook is... a real person. He's not a doll. But he's resigned to die for this fantasy."
    <J-IC-Scene> Persephone Kore says, "I don't know why, but... he doesn't really want to."
    <J-IC-Scene> Persephone Kore says, "He wants to see London again. Can't you help him?"

    The bullet comes in. Her gauntlet comes up, and there's a brief shower of sparks as it impacts and the magical girl swings out to send it flying. "Then let's do this!" She says that, but she doesn't want to kill him. But faking a death is hard, especially if Peter is the one who has to beat him. That's what they're here for, right? To help Peter beat him, for the sake of the 'story'?

    ...Persephone and Hiromi have some kind of plan. Hibiki isn't sure about how she feels when it comes to trusting the Archwolf. When she's involved, things get excessive. But...if she wants to help like that, believing in her intentions might be something she has to do. And Zephyrman...she knows he probably already has something in mind. He's a genius, after all.

    So she'll do her part too - which involves starting to progress on towards Hook, sweeping and battering aside any crewmembers who get in her way in the process, towards the blue-haired man himself. "Is /that/ another line from the book, too!?" She calls towards both him and Zephyrman while moving--

    And when she closes in, Hibiki makes a whirling backhand strike aimed to smash into Hook's chest and send him stumbling. It's only heavy enough to do that, not inflict any real damage. During the movement, the close-by Cantio gets a brief look, a shift of Hibiki's attention onto her with a conflicted look in her eye.

    And then she's slipping away again, kicking aside another pirate crewman to keep the area of fighting around Hook clear of interruptions. "A bunch of Lost Children might understand more than you think!"
Staren     Oh fuck, cannon! Staren jumps, high like a videogame character, when she sees it aiming at her, dodging the deadly projectile but having taken evasive action in such a hurry that she eats sand when she lands. "Ackpth!"

    Staren gets to her feet and brushes the sand off her face and clothes. She brought weapons, but doesn't *actually* want to face Hook off in a dramatic battle herself. Letting it be 'dramatic' means playing to Hook's strengths (well, she expects he's a skilled duelist) and away from her own. "I didn't think the final confrontation would be this soon... The bad guy is supposed to stay on his throne until the hero's ready to come after him in this kind of story, isn't he? I guess I misjudged the situation..."

    Zephyrman has a plan, and really, if anyone here is able to think in a way that can accomodate Peter and Hook both, it's the man who became a costumed superhero in service to his ideals... or the woman raised to believe that childish ideals can make reality bend rather than the other way around. Persephone. And she has a plan too. (Of course, Staren has a fair bit of that sort of thinking herself, but... there's no way it would work for her, right? Right, of course.)

    Staren fiddles with the clasp on her cloak, a field of force briefly appearing around her and then fading from sight. It's no substitute for armor or magic but it should keep a few surprise pistol shots or stabs from dropping her. She hops on her broom and flies to the ship, staying in the air out of Captain Hook's reach but trying to get close enough to talk to him over the noise of combat:

    "Captain Hook! You have a dream too! Who says we can't make both yours AND Peter's dreams come true? Why do you have to die? I like stories where the villain is redeemed better than ones where he dies, anyway! You can see London again!"

    Through the wormhole link, she sends everything Hook has said, her companions have said, and everything she's seen to the AI in her lab, trying to find the connection that will thread this needle.

    What, if anything, can she or the others do to give Hook the best chance to see London again without destroying the benefits Peter is getting from this experience?
Hiromi     Hook heard what she said. Hook can smell wet fur. Yes, that's more than enough for Hiromi to understand. 'This one isn't sticking to a script' is how she'd put it, if she'd ever read one.

    A gun is drawn, and Hook shoots Hiromi. She watches without concern, only to be surprised when the weapon, through some power of fantasy -- perhaps the psychic field that Phasewalker mentioned -- allows it to hurt her. She's shot in the chest, the little metal pellet penetrating her skin. She bleeds. She stares down at it, fascinated, until she brings thumb and forefinger together, and extends her claws. She reaches in, digs for the metal, pulls it out again, enlarging the wound in the process.

    Hiromi holds the pellet up in her bloodied hand, more of that bright red flowing from her and down her front, though the wound is already beginning to close again. Wide-eyed and silent, she stares, then her eyes shift. She's launching forward. She's already left, flown from origin to destination, hand outstretched.

    Hiromi hits the deck hard enough to crack it. That's not the point. It's just a trap, a way to disrupt someone else's footing, enough that they won't be able to get away when her hand -- no claws, this time, only fingers -- snaps around to grasp him by the hair.

    "I return this," Hiromi says, and shoves the pill-sized, squished fragment of lead down Hook's throat, still carrying its coating of the heartsblood of the Archwolf.

    She steps back, then, satisfied that this one has a soul. This one will be able to accept her power. She isn't really giving him a choice in it, anyway.
Silver Carnation Phasewalker goes looking for treasure. He teleports to the below deck, where he finds the crew's stash. There's a problem, though - the guard dog. It's a big stash, and a big dog. If he wants that treasure, he'll have to lure it away, or alternatively be a jerk and shoot it.

Muramasa's waves start swallowing the ship hole, as Hurrikaiser holds it steady. The ship's rocking back and forth, causing Hook to be unsteady. "You fools! You're just children! What can children possibly know!? The world is one of adult's!" Peter, unsure about fighting because of the others, suddenly gets angry, grasping his sword. Cantio's slash and Hibiki's punch knock him back, towards the bow, as Peter comes on in. Staren's analysis gives her data, while her words seem to have little effect. "Shut up! This is the way the story ends!"

Hiromi forces the lead down his throat. He swallows. The power suffuses through him, but he doesn't realize what's happening, as he almost chokes and coughs and sputters. "Damn you all!"

Zephyrman will notice there's no red in his good eye.

Silver fires a spray of shots, which Hook parries again. This is intentional. Peter comes in with the sword, slashing Hook back. Hook stumbles onto the tip of the bow.

Suddenly, Stardust, the sword, glows. It takes in all that light. Peter, who is unsure of killing him, can't act. So it acts for him.

The will of Neverland acts to finish the story.

Stardust pierces Hook in the heart, pulling the boy forward, and sends the pirate careening into the water below. A corpse hits Hurrikaiser, if it prepares to catch him.

It won't be a corpse for too long.

The crew all immediately surrenders. Peter lands on the bow, brilliant red blood staining his shining sword. He looks at it briefly, and then raises it in the air to the villagers. From a distance, everyone cheers and celebrates.

Silver claps Peter on the back. She doesn't like murdering people but, hey, he's a villainous adult, right? "Great job, Peter!"
Zephyrman      The cockpit of HurriKaiser pops open. It's hidden by the ship - HurriKaiser made absolutely sure of that (or John did. It's hard to tell). So when Hook goes overboard, dead, the giant robot 'catches' him, and then seals the entrance. Nobody can see it. The hands haven't left the ship. In fact, slowly, HurriKaiser sets the ship down on land as the pirates all surrender, then moves onto the shore with Zephyrman still on its shoulder. He's looking down at Wendy, looking at her eyes, looking at her face.

     The helmet pulls back ever so slightly so she, and only she, can see him smile, wink, hold up his finger, and make the universal 'shhh' motion. Then the helmet locks back up and Zephyrman hops down from on high.

     That was, after all, awesome. The glowing, blazingly lit sword punched forward like something, well, something out of a storybook. He bounces up and down on his heels. "So *is* there treasure in there, Peter?"
Muramasa Once Hook falls overboard and his corpse "drowns" -- in reality, captured sneakily by Zephyrman -- Muramasa pulls the mystical gemstones apart and calms the violent frenzy he'd whipped the local waters into. As quickly as the volatile conditions began, they had ceased and left the ship rocking on once again even waters.

For some reason, Peter has a unique affinity for that sword. I wonder if it's because I made it here and out of materials from this place? It's hard to say, even for me, and that's rather rare when it comes to swords.

The blood glinting off of it stains the light that catches the sword. It is morbid, and perturbing, as it casts a red shadow over what should be a celebration of Peter's 'valor'. They'd, hopefully, managed to save Hook with their combined efforts yet ...

    Even I'm starting to feel unsettled. That was too close.

Casting a glance to Wendy to judge her reaction, he takes a cross-legged seat on the ground and says, "I wonder, is this the ending, or just a long and drawn out prologue..? It'd be nice if it were a short-story, so that everyone could go home, don't you think?"
Phasewalker     Ainkli's feet slip and stumble on the deck as the ship is rocked by the battle outside. He doesn't like being tossed about and yet it doesn't stop him from finding what he's looking for. When he does, there is a guard dog. A very large one. He gives it a look of mild surprise, as it's been a while since he's seen a domesticated animal used to guard anything. He doesn't shoot it *or* lure it away. Instead, he commits some more of his mental 'bandwidth,' and lifts his hands, and makes a telekinetic 'cage' to box the animal in and render it harmless... at least for long enough for him to approach the treasure and abscond with some of it. It should hold a mundane guard dog with relative ease... if it's imbued with the story's strength, though, the tangible force construct won't last very long.

    He was told this was a story, and can see it play out that way. Stories rarely react kindly to animal abuse, in his experience... and he doesn't want the kid up there to chance upon a dead dog. He's no problem hurting it himself, but this isn't about him right now.

    He'll push some of the treasure together, and promptly teleport it all out with him and back to the beach, provided this plan goes off without a hitch.

    Overhearing what's happening over the radio, Ainkli hesitates briefly, his pupils shrinking. He stares at the treasure for a second, then looks at the dog, briefly, and then, only then, does he leave the ship with the loot.
Cantio There's a distinct sense of discomfort in Cantio's moves as she pushes hook back and keeps her eyes on Peter to make sure he doesn't get himself stabbed by someone. He's actually doing far better than she expected, although it's still not particularly comfortable for some reason she can't quite put her finger on.

Actually, it's pretty easy once she realizes she still has a lot to talk about with Hibiki at some point. She doesn't catch that look, only managing to look over just moments after Hibiki's already kicking someone, then turns her own attention back to Peter and Hook when the latter gets a something crammed down his throat by Hiromi and the former stabs the latter right in the chest, causing Hook to tumble right off that ship.

"This is... This is what needed to happen. Otherwise..." She breathes out a heavy sigh, eventually forcing a smile when Silver cheers Peter on. "Right. You did well, Peter! Now..."

Cantio's actually not sure what happens now. She looks at the surrendering crew, the celebrating villagers in the distance, but she's not too concerned about any of them. Instead, she tries to see if Wendy's visible on the beach. Either way, Cantio holds her hand out to Peter and asks if he wants to meet up with Tinkerbell now (and Wendy if she's visible).

Someone needs to keep them distracted from that gambit going on below.
Staren     Plans are set in motion. No one clearly shares them with Staren, who has to go with her own plan then: Stabilize Hook before he actually dies.

    She looks at Peter guiltily and solemnly, sure he's wondering why she was talking to Hook seconds ago. "I'm sorry. I misled you. But I was a child once, and so was Hook."

    Staren dives down to hover just over the water on her broom and warps in cameras to search the water for the corpse. Damn, she's not great in the water, this could make timely retrieval a problem...

    But it doesn't seem to be there AT ALL. She looks increasingly distressed, checking and rechecking sensors. It's a matter of seconds, she has to find him!
Hiromi     Hiromi walks along the deck, ignoring the surrendering pirates and distantly cheering townsfolk. She looks over where Hook fell, but there's only a mecha there, and that's just leaving. Just water below, still too rapidly moving, and too deep, to clear.

    She turns to Peter Pan to say, "Your first kill, yes? But not by your own strength, was it? Your own will. Growing is still yours." She turns away again, though she'll wait a moment for a response to come.

    Someone is sending a message. Hiromi's ears move by reflex, and she tilts her head. She only give an acknowledging, 'hrmph' kind of grunt in response to Zephyrman.

    Getting to shore is easy than getting to the ship was, if only slightly, because Hiromi doesn't have to slow herself down before catching onto the rigging. She can just leave a crater somewhere in the landscape, then walk out of it again.

    Slightly after that, shaking dust from her hair, Hiromi gets up to Wendy to say, "You live here. Smells of this land. Why? Where is your pack?"
Hibiki Tachibana     Hook goes down. There's a wince, as Hibiki recognizes Peter's sword lunging forward--into the Captain's chest. Even with the plan that the others have put together, seeing /that/ happen, and then the man's body going overboard...

    There's a split second, where she wonders if it really worked or not. It's a tense moment, and a small squeezing in her chest--until confirmation comes in, and as the boat settles and the crew surrenders, Hibiki braces a hand against the ship's mast and heaves out a heavy sigh.

    After a glance to everyone else on the ship, with Cantio getting another brief glance before Silver also gets a somewhat conflicted one, she decides to watch the scene of everyone congratulating the boy from afar for a bit. Joining in on that doesn't feel...right to her for some reason. Best to let them enjoy the moment. Her attention goes off the edge of the boat, to Wendy and Muramasa on the beach, and she gives a small wave.

    Getting back is a matter of just making a pretty big jump, and she comes down pretty cleanly nearby the others, with another sigh. "...But something's gotta be next for Peter after all of this, huh? What about you?" She tilts her head slightly at Wendy.
Staren     Tears are coming to Staren's eyes as she grows increasingly panicced. The corpse should be here. She fucked up. She fucked up! How did she fuck up again?! How can everyone be so calm? There seemed to be SOME sentiment that Hook should be kept alive, but that would be easily verifiable by finding the corpse, but Hook's *gone*! In this state it doesn't occur to her that maybe she can't find the body because someone else is already hiding that Hook lived.

    When confirmation comes in, she lands on the beach, shakily drops to her hands and knees, and just... tries to calm down.
Silver Carnation As the ship is brought back to harbor, Zephyrman asks Peter about treasure. Phasewalker has his, gained from stopping a dog from eating him and teleporting it out to shore. "It's probably in the cabin! Let's go!" And then, he responds to Hiromi as he heads over. "I'm never gonna grow up!" He probably misunderstood her.

Wendy, meanwhile, turns to the others. She's smiling, but it's sad. She knows what happened - a death, even if it wasn't permanent. Peter had to stain his hands red. But, at the same time, the story can end now, right?

"Thank you, everyone. Hopefully, this ends. I live here, maybe, someday, other people will too. I wouldn't mind if Peter lived here for as long as he wanted." It's genuine kind-heartedness. Hiromi asks about her pack. Wendy just sighs, grabbing her blouse. "I don't have one."

"I just woke up here one day."

Meanwhile, those who enter the Captain's Cabin find coats, gold, a big treasure chest, and a big blue book on the table. Instead of going for the treasure, Peter goes for the book. "I want this. A pirate's adventure log! I'll read it all night long! Neverland is the best!"

He holds it tight, and then looks at the treasure. "Also, any cool gold! We can all split it. Someone carry the chest out!"
Persephone Kore      Can I tell you a secret? I love childish games like these. They really warm my heart! But sometimes, I feel like... I'm too big to play them anymore. I never really got to have a childhood, and now sometimes I'm too tall to ride. Is that a silly way to feel?

     She stands up, bottle still in hand. Off in the distance, the battle has gone poorly. The battle has gone as planned. HurriKaiser is carrying the ship onto shore- something that makes her face split into a delighted grin, hands clasped in sweet incredulity.

     When she floats by its cockpit, she waves to catch John's attention, then gives him a winking thumbs-up. You're the coolest, Zephyrman! I really mean it. This robot of yours... it's built like an action figure, isn't it? Just from that, I feel like I understand you so well.

     But that's not what she's here for. Instead, she touches down on the beach and sits next to Staren, a companionable distance away. The bottle is still in her grasp.

     "It's okay," she says. Like always, it's terribly difficult to hold onto 'feeling bad' around her, no matter how justified. "I don't believe you don't trust me. I meant it as a joke, but... I was far away. I wasn't looking at your heart. So I made a joke that hurt you, by mistake. I'm sorry."

     "You were really worried about Captain Hook too, weren't you? Thank you for worrying. If he really had been in danger... I know you would've saved him," she says. She's staring out at the waves, but there's a smile on her face.
Zephyrman      Zephyrman returns the thumbs-up from where he's sitting on HurriKaiser's shoulder. He's definitely grinning behind the mask.
Cantio Sticking with Peter and company, Cantio lets out a relieved sigh when Peter goes for the cabin instead of loitering on deck. She follows him inside, stepping past the gold and treasure to instead eye the book that Peter's grabbed. "Really? That's a pretty mature pick, but I'm sure you'll learn of all sorts of things that Hook did while he was... Er."

Wait. Should a child really be reading about a depressed pirate's life? "Ah... Would it be better if one of us read it with you? You know, to... Read it in an old pirate voice!" She laughs awkwardly, probably not hiding her concerns about such a book that well. When it's time to grab the treasure, though, she doesn't shy away from picking up whatever she can to help get it off the boat.

Cantio also makes sure to put on one of those snazzy pirate coats.
Phasewalker     Once back on dry land, for whatever that is worth, Ainkli gathers the captured loot and begins to take inventory of it. He does this while sitting down in plain view of the others. Anything that doesn't have any immediate value to him he will discard; a fantasy pirate won't have the same values he does, and he seems unconcerned with anything but souveneirs or truly lucrative. He's near enough to the others for something to linger on the psionic wavelengths for Persephone's perception.

    (Crippling nausea. Red. The cooling of a body at his feet. Horror and claustrophobia.)

    It plays over and over in the back of his head, as a frown mars his bright blue snout. Like a tape stuck on repeat as he counts coins and baubles. "Well, it looks like this place is gonna stick around longer than that," he muses aloud, "I hope it doesn't have anymore murder in the script."
Hiromi     Hiromi slowly turns her head side to side, eyes and ears scanning for who's here. Peter Pan, she's paying little attention to. Hook must be there, where Zephyrman's machine is. Persephone and Staren are on the shore. Cantio is off with Peter. Ainkli, she can't see. Muramasa and Hibiki have joined to shore, near her as well as Wendy.

    I don't have one.

    Hiromi lets out a huffing breath. It's almost like a sigh. "Stories," she says. "Story-people, made of dust. because a story is here, they are. Did a story make you? But you are not dust. You don't know why?" She pauses. "How long?"

    Getting answers on how long Wendy's been mysteriously here and packless is, now that there's no fight going on, the only thing stopping her from picking one -- that is, checking in with Hibiki and Muramasa.
Hibiki Tachibana     "Hopefully it ends, huh..." Hibiki's response to what Wendy says is a bit delayed, and more to herself than anyone else. It's a bittersweet kind of taste in her mouth, but afte all is said and done, she picks herself up some instead of looking like she's brooding to herself.

    Existing around Hiromi today has been...strangely, easier than last time. Maybe it was because of the Archwolf's part in saving Hook, knowing her a little better now despite how rough things got before, or just being so distracted with Neverland--or maybe, all of the above. There's too many things she's still trying to process about all of this.

    But the wolf asks one question, and after a second, Hibiki asks her own. It's a bit tentative, and maybe it already answered itself, but even so. "...You're happy here, aren't you?"
Persephone Kore      Phony glances back over her shoulder in the direction of the ship, her lips pursed. Something's wrong- no, someone.

     If I close my eyes and focus on the gravity of hearts alone, the world is velvety weightless black in every direction, with people as spots of heavy light. If you're good at it, you can read the shape of their gravity as thoughts; intentions; feelings. Right now, the gravity of one of those lights is telling me something awful.

     But isn't that Naragal?

     Quietly, almost accidentally, she tunes herself to that heart's narrative residue. "Why are you the way that you are?"
Staren     It really should be concerning, that kind of mental effect, but frankly Staren's in no state to question it right now as she did with the Queens' magic lighthouse-thing; she needed emotional relief, and is relieved, and what she was concerned about is a misunderstanding she trusts will be cleared up as soon as Persephone is in range, so now there's nothing to worry about. 'I don't believe you don't trust me' brings another wash of relief, the cat-scientist just about relaxed enough to just lie down and rest right here.

    'I'm sorry' jolts Staren out of it with concern that Persephone is feeling the kind of pain Staren has felt countless times after accidentally saying the wrong thing to someone and she stands up and rushes to hug Phony tight. "It's okay! You didn't mean it!"

    She's overcome with emotion for a moment, not euphoria and confusion like Seilatiya triggered, but just, going from paniccing over someone dying due to her mistake, to knowing it's okay. Building on the associations Phony made by being among those who came to save Staren when she was at her lowest, and being, for a moment, free of the fear of miscommunication that plagues Staren's every interaction, and thanks to the aura, the fear of looking weak that plagues every op. Otherwise she'd probably be a teensy bit embarassed about looking like a teary-eyed kid hugging Phony. Staren's forgotten about her appearance right now, anyway.

    Eventually, she goes to wipe her eyes on her sleeve, hesitates, and pulls a pack of kleenexes from her bag to use instead and blow her nose. Ears turning this way and that as others speak, trying to follow ongoing developments but not in the mood to like, interrogate Tinkerbell about what happens next right this second.
Zephyrman      Other people can question Tinkerbell and Wendy and the rest of the Neverlanders. Other people can figure out what's going on - at least, the stuff John hasn't already figured out, as someone who's read these books a thousand times, backward and forward, to the point where he could quote it blind.

     Zephyrman hops off HurriKaiser's shoulder. He lands near Staren and untransforms. There's a big smile on his face, but it's a big, sympathetic smile, not a big, 'hey good work' smile.

     John holds out a hand.


     "I don't like it when people are sad around me."

     "Anything I can do to help?"

     He looks up at Phony and winks, the same kind of knowing wink he gave Wendy, though obviously this one's less reassuring and more an awareness of a sort of shared secret, a shared understanding. Then he looks back at Staren.
Silver Carnation "It'll be fine! I'll read it first and then you can read it too." Peter nods to Cantio. He's going to just hang out in here for a bit. "I'm keeping the ship, too!"

Others talk to Wendy. "I don't know. It's been several months, I think. I venture out to the warpgate sometimes, just to talk to people, but it's too much to take in." And then, Wendy looks to the sky, before responding to Hibiki. "Maybe. I don't know if I'm happy. I think I want to rest, if that's okay. This has been very stressful."
Phasewalker     (The image expands. The scene fills out. Ainkli stares down at his hands, as the blood on them cools and dries. He stares past them to the body of someone whose name he knew, and the bloodied murder weapon laying on the floor, that the man tried to use on him... "You're a waste of resources we can't afford," he said. Someone that once smiled and waved when he was but a hatchling clinging to his mother in the halls. In this moment, the sanctity of life shatters in him. People, once they are pared down to their base needs, stop smiling, stop waving, and start hating, start hurting. Nothing matters but their survival. Nothing matters but who gets to eat and breathe, and who doesn't.)

    Ainkli has good reason to dislike Neverland. Good reason to hate whatever force has trapped Peter and the other players in this game. Good reason to linger now that he has arrived. The treasure is merely a distraction from his own mind.

    Once he's counted the coins, he sighs, lays back in the dirt, and stares into the sky for a while.
Staren     After blowing her nose Staren reaches for a pocket that the dress doesn't have, then just crumples the tissue up and stuffs it in her bag for later disposal. She turns to look up at Zephyrman and remembers how she chose to look for Neverland visits. But, it's hard to feel embarassed in Persephone's aura, so she pulls a hand sanitary wipe from her bag, wipes her hands off, stuffs it back in the bag, THEN holds out a hand to shake John's. "It's fine, I wasn't sad, just... afraid that Hook was going to stay dead because I didn't plan well enough." She tilts her head at a thought, then adds, "...What you can do is next time let me in on the plan." she says, plainly and warmly without any anger thanks to the aura.

    Persephone picks up a memory of how very frustrating it was when Staren's friend who is made of knives left her out of a plan and it ended up making Staren play morality chicken and lose.
Zephyrman      The minute Staren *starts* talking about Hook not being dead, John kind of moves forward and puts his hand on her mouth. There's a big grin and a motion of 'shhh' on his face. Then he leans in and whispers conspiratorially into her cat ear.
Staren     The whisper shuts Staren up immediately. She can't feel mad about that reason, though once the hand is removed she still asks to be let in on future plans like this without hinting at what they are.

    Ask her friends, they came up with it? "But they didn't tell me..." (Until after they did it, is the implication. They let her get so worried...) There's a bit of sadness on her face and in her words that time, but it's muted by Persephone's aura, as if too slippery to get a good grip on Staren's mind.
Persephone Kore      Persephone wraps her arms around Staren, too, for as long as the catgirl wants to hold onto her. Her chin rests atop Staren's head. (Phony's clothes always look too warm to be comfortable, but they're soft and nice to touch; that might even be intentional.)

     "Please don't worry that you hurt me," she says gently. "You can't! I promise. That's not ever something you have to worry about."

     "I care about you. And I trust you. And I know you care about and trust me, too! So let's just... sit here a while. And I'll try my best to make things better."

     Even after disentangling from the hug, Phony keeps holding Staren's hand: a gentle squeeze, fingers interlaced. It's a little affirmation that 'you belong'.

     Persephone returns Zephyrman's wink with a sunny, eyes-closed smile. It's suffocatingly warm, and innocently perfect, and accompanied by just a drop of knowing acknowledgement.

     Although... there is Ainkli, too. His memories of kill-or-be-killed... I know why he'd hate this place. I can't just abandon Staren to go over and comfort him, but would he even want it anyway? ... I think he's strong enough to carry it for a little while longer, at least.
Zephyrman      John murmurs something else in Staren's ear before he backs off. He puts the flute in his mouth and plays a tune. The giant robot plays a tune back, as if talking to the flute. Then, it folds up into a jet and disappears into the sky, the clouds above vanishing as it goes.
Hiromi     Hiromi's questions are answered, for the moment. There is nothing more for her to learn of Wendy, the strange and lonesome one. She is, politely, not mentioning anything about Peter Pan.

    She has Opinions about growth, and those who don't.

    That done, she now has no more distractions. She can slide right up to Hibiki. Behind her, if she's not paying attention. Looming over her, ears perked tall, ready to hear answers to other questions. "You, are healed now, yes?" She'll have to dodge a conspiratorial arm-around-the-shoulders if she really isn't feeling that. Hiromi's voice is low. "Will you return for mountains? I've not seen that one. But I've his scent. Like yours. You'll get up again, stronger, yes? You said you would."

    Muramasa is saying something about food. Hiromi calls out to him. "Cook plenty!"
Staren     Staren hasn't had anyone to comfort her in years. She's tried to be strong and stood alone against the Multiverse for so long, mistrusting her allies and even now still getting used to relying on them. And yet how does everyone else do it or the idea things could be different is a thought that's never entered her mind. This is a bit like drinking from a cool spring when you've forgotten what water tastes like and just assumed thirsty is how everyone feels all the time.

    You can't hurt me, even by accident, Persephone says, and another burden is lifted.

    Staren's ear flicks and she simply nods at John's words. Afterward she just stands there holding Persephone's hand like a little kid. Still drinking from that metaphorical spring. There are all manner of things to be concerned about, but they're easier to push away with the aura, at least as long as she feels on some level like it would make her feel worse. It might be a little childish, but this *is* Neverland, after all... she can take a break.

    ...Eventually, a thought rises in the right context, curiousity about someone she views protectively, to stick long enough to make it out her mouth: "What happens to Peter now?"
Zephyrman      John turns away. His hands are in his pockets. He looks off at the sky.

     "He grows up," he says to Staren, and then starts walking off with a wave over his shoulder. Muramasa and Hibiki can take care of themselves, unless they ask him to get involved.
Phasewalker     Ainkli doesn't seem to want Persephone's help. Or maybe he only thinks he doesn't need it. Whatever the case, he has resigned himself to decompressing by doing his best impression of a sleeping galapagos iguana, staring dumbly into the fake sky, to think about the fake world, and meditate on its nature. He squints at it, and tries to analyze it, like an engineer trying to read a harrowing technical manual.

    He has no lingering desire for justice, no hatred for the maker of this place, he has only questions... the first of which: Why do this at all?

    And then, if he finds the answers unsatisfactory, he will be firing guns into the thing or person responsible until he runs out of ammo, because he dislikes casual mental fuckery, especially when it comes to kids. Just a selfish disdain and nothing more.

    (The mind is a sacred place.)
Cantio "Alright. Just... Don't be afraid to ask about anything that looks confusing or weird, okay?" Cantio manages a smile at Peter, but there's already some anxiety creeping in. Still, if she can just word things right... How bad could it be?

It could be terrible, but she won't know that until way later. By then, it might be too late.

If nothing else, at least she can enjoy the celebrations for now in her snazzy new pirate coat.
Hibiki Tachibana     Wendy wants to rest, and Hibiki isn't going to get in the way of that. It's been an exhausting day for everyone, and probably her more than anyone, in a way. She doesn't know, huh...? Hm...

    (Un)fortunately(?), she's distracted just enough that the towering Archwolf coming up on her is picked up on a moment too late, and by the time she'd be able to do anything about it, an arm is already slung over her. "--Eh?" Her head lifts. She stares back up at Hiromi. A couple blinks happen.

    But she doesn't pull away, even with what Muramasa says. In fact, she simply holds the gaze as her expression slowly shifts into a more resolute and serious one. "...I said I would, and I am."

    The problem of the resident househusband potentially needing to cook an inhuman feast is apparently something she's glossing over right now. "I'm gonna get stronger. We'll get the mountain back--/and/ I'll be sure to beat you next time. And if I don't...I'll just keep trying until I do."

    Evidently, a fire has been lit in her, between what happened on that mountain and everything that happened after.
Hiromi     <J-IC-Scene> Muramasa says, "Hey, hold on -- who invited you? Actually, unhand my Master."
    <J-IC-Scene> Persephone Kore says innocently, "That's Hiromi! Don't worry, she's really nice."
    <J-IC-Scene> Muramasa says, "N o."
    <J-IC-Scene> Hiromi to Muramasa, "'Master.' What is this meaning? Leader or mate?"

    Muramasa has an objection to where Hiromi's arm is. Too bad for him, he didn't give an answer that gave him the right to demand Hiromi first challenge him before laying a hand on Hibiki. Or, maybe, that's better for him.

    I'm gonna get stronger. We'll get the mountain back--/and/ I'll be sure to beat you next time. And if I don't...I'll just keep trying until I do.

    "You'll keep your word. You'll grow stronger. Good. Remember, grow with them. Your pack. That's the way."

    Hiromi's satisfaction with Hibiki's response is palpable. She's more than pleased. There's even excitement. This close to her, actually in contact with her, it's all the harder to ignore any change in the oppressively commanding presence of the Archwolf. It's on her breath, in her posture, in the smallest motions of her body, in the way her eyes move, and in the way they hold. Hibiki told her exactly what she wanted to hear.

    "I like you." It's clear she means it, but what it means may be less than clear.

    She isn't affording Muramasa the same, but maybe if he deserves to be proud of his cooking, Hiromi's opinion will shoot up a fraction. She's a heavy eater, on the occasions the food is good.