696/Salvation's Last Stand

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Salvation's Last Stand
Date of Scene: 28 September 2014
Location: The Great Mountains
Synopsis: Finale to the Hunter's Curse TP. D is ambushrescued by the Union, who attack him into becoming a good guy again.
Cast of Characters: 2, 22, 56, 85, 130, 151, 183, 232, 255, 516, 518, Zero Kiryu, 570

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    The sun has nearly set behind the mountains, casting sprawling shadows across the hills. Stars have begun to dot the sky to the east, heralding the approaching night. A stark contrast to the ever-present darkness looming over Castlevania's distant spires, where the sky seems to have been permanently blotted out due to the demon castle's presence; that, however, is far enough away from this particular point not to matter.

    It's not a short journey from Castlevania to the forest where tonight's events will take place. The castle is in view, but on a mountain far from the dense trees D will travel through. The forest is at once beautiful and ominous: lush and untamed, the dense growth has clearly not been touched by civilized hands. No roads are in sight to pierce the tall grasses and weeds covering the ground or to make passage through the closely-grown trees anything but slow and steady. D will have to take his time moving through the forest, for it stretches to either side as far as the eye can see; attempting to walk around it would only prove wasteful.

    After a short time, however, the forest thins out briefly. The branches above clear away to let the dwindling rays of sunset shine through on a circular clearing. Flowers and weeds coat the large space, but no trees have grown in this particular area: they remain walling the clearing on all sides, as dense as it was on the way back. Insects hum and creatures of the night murmur as they awaken, but otherwise, the air is still and quiet.

    Kagenashi stands not far from the center of the clearing, her poise upright and rigid, her expression shielded by her mask. Nageki isn't with her, but she has both of her katanas strapped to her forearms, and Munashi sits at her feet. The nogitsune stands there, waiting, as silent and serene as her surroundings.

D (232) has posed:
    Thunder charges from Castlevania's courtyard in the form of four pounding hooves. Heated gusts blasting from its nostrils, wind and stride tossing its mane into sharp lashes, electric light streaming from its eye sockets, the cyborg horse puts the castle far behind it within moments, racing so fast it seems ready to take flight. Crouched fearlessly in the saddle is a pale-faced rider whose cloak streams behind him like a snapping black war banner.


    He breaks through the tree line at full speed. Though his horse is almost immediately slowed by undergrowth, deadfall, and uneven terrain, he barrels forward ceaselessly. The long, dark sword in his hand wasn't made for chopping through weeds and thorny tangles, but he uses it like a machete, anyway, clearing his path whenever he must. He is slowed to a mundane pace by the forest's many barriers; by the time he reaches the clearing, the sun is very low in the sky. What light remains is pale blue and dreamy. Crickets sing a loud chorus.

    He hesitates on the clearing's edge, scanning the space before he dives into it, his mount leaping forth like an arrow from a bow. Kagenashi called him declaring an urgent need for his aid; he will not let a mere frisson of unease keep him from his task.

Homura Akemi (2) has posed:

    Homura shuffles awkwardly in front of Setsuko, and possibly Zero and Kimiko as well. They are still in pre-deployment, so probably somewhere in Njorun. She outstretches her hands, and then briefly explains:

    "The inside is going to look odd. Please do not read too much into it, it's shaped by my subconscious. It might have symbolism in there I don't want to explain. Also don't kill or threaten the things inside, they are technically me. It's going to sting and might collapse the whole thing if I get hurt enough. Just... chat or something, kill time in there."

    Once the parties have agreed to this, reality suddenly swells up around the magical girl, and swallows those who have accepted being in there early whole, dumping them into a new location explained below.


    D is right to hesitate; hidden just beyond the clearing, Homura suddenly appears, looking a bit strained and injured. She looks at D, and decides not to give him the chance to attack first-- he would take it, and in this state he might end the fight quite easily.

    "I apologize for this, but perhaps you will thank me later."

    For him too reality swells him. It swallows D, and Homura, leaving a red magical mark on the ground shaped like a spider lily. UNIONITES have been instructed to defend this mark and NOT allow Confederates to reach it, no matter what happens, though whether they can figure out how to interact with it is another matter.


    The sky is bright pink.
    Everyone is in an almost endless field of red spider lilies. Some of them in the distance are burnt to a crisp, others a bit closer are slowly growing up towards the pink sun, and burning when they come too close. In the further distance is a city in construction, heavily industrialized, with a thick cover of smog around it. Tin soldiers vaguely shaped like Homura patrol the partial route from the flower field to the city.

    The area does not feel evil, but it feels wrong, and definitely corrupt. It may trigger hunter senses or supernatural senses in general while inside. It also seems unfinished. There used to be a mirror maze close, but it's all cracked and destroyed.

    Homura is here as well, but is a hundred feet or two from the actual gathering point in the center of the flower field.

Setsuko Kaminagi (255) has posed:
    Amidst the spider lilies, under the sky, among all the vibrant reds and pinks and the wrongness of Homura's Barrier, there is a bastion of bright, flowing, billowing blue.

    Like a building thunderhead, the aura of divinity roils and flows around the swordswoman, tinting the greys and blacks of her clothing, the silver of her hair, the pale color of her skin. It is a nimbus the color of the natural sky, a thundercloud that shifts and churns around the swordswoman within, and silent, tiny little arcs of 'lightning' leap from point to point.

    In its own way, it's a perfect emblem of what is to come.

    The demigod already has her blade drawn, held in one hand, staring silently towards the duo who have been pulled into the barrier. She doesn't need to utter a single word. The sheer killing intent in her eyes, the intensity of the look she levels at D, says it all. She is here for one thing, and one thing only.

    Kaminagi Setsuko has come to end D's tenure in the Confederacy, one way or the other.

Sky Lynx (130) has posed:
Low Orbit. Debris from a thousand battles floats around the multiversal earth, on the verge of creating a ring of garbage around the planet. Satellites maneuver quietly between the spaceborn hazards, doing their jobs of relaying information to and from the planet. It is cold and quiet, dead husks of metal spiraling in their silent space ballet for all eternity.

It is within this debris field that Sky Lynx awaits the call to action, minimal energon shunted to the very bases of life support for the massive Transformer. His own scanners, trace the activity below.

As Setsuko appears, Sky Lynx's golden visor flares to life and he spins out of the debris field with a graceful turn. As he breaks through the atmosphere, the edges of his armor begin to glow a soft red. He passes through thin cloud cover, causing his armor to sizzle from the moisture.

He streaks through the sky and comes to a comfortable rest, hovering in the sky about 300 feet above Homura's mark, glancing about alertly, looking for the Confederate response, "Well, here we are ..."

Kimiko Shinobu (570) has posed:
    Kimiko looks a little uneasy about the plan, probaby because she's /very/ uneasy about what Homura's doing and just failing to entirely hide that fact. But she nods her assent. She goes along with it. It's an acceptable risk for what they're doing--and it's not as if the rest of them aren't risking their lives for this, too.

    Once it's nearly time, she armors herself. Silvery metal appears in place with a repeated clank, as if folding out from nowhere to encase her in a gleaming suit of plate that covers everything but her head. Her helmet appears, instead, in her gauntleted hands, and she places it herself, securing it with a finesse that shows great familiarity with such encumbering metal. Her visor remains up, and her hair flows out the back, but her change is otherwise complete.

    She raises one hand forward, her other arm held at her side. The position requires no adjustment as her arms appear in a bright flash of light--a crusader's blade and shield, held ready to block or parry.

    The targets arrive. Kimiko orients. She advances, stance wide and eyes cold.

Zero Kiryu has posed:
    Zero Kiriyu is also tucked away inside of Homura's pocket dimension. He had expressed neither interest or trepidation in it, simply accepting that this is the plan they're going with and rolling with it in silence. When he arrived at their initial meeting point he had been carrying an absolutely massive suitcase. More like dragging around one of those semi-portable wardrobes that ultra rich people would carry around with them before actual reasonable luggage was invented. Then, he had begun his setup more-or-less right away.

    Firstly, he had simply started throwing freshly-punctured blood bags around. Expired, no good for actually doing anything with. This he had followed up by offering everyone present a blood bag of their own, before smearing himself with the stuff. IT's the same idea before, to use it as camo -- only with more of it spread around their intended arena, it's even more confusing than it was the first time around.

    Secondly, he had retrieved a long rifle. It was easily the height of the case, and easily as tall as Zero himself. Other weapons were evident in the great case, but it was this one that he elected to arm himself with. He cleaned it lightly, made certain it was in good working order, then loaded it and... wandered off from everybody else.

    There are other people present to occupy D at close range. Zero is going to begin this battle at long range. The case that he brought was left behind, fastened shut and locked. A strange symbol, similar to the one on Zero's neck, crisscrosses the fastening devices that hold the great piece of luggage closed. It is correct to guess that it probably won't open to an unwelcome intruder.

    The Vampire Hunter himself sets up at a distance, lying down where it's not so easy to see him. Only two magazines, but it ought to be enough.

    There is no killing intent spilling up from Zero just now. He lies motionless and nearly unbreathing, and begins to line up his shot. He does not fire yet. Better to let the targets focus on the immediate front liners and assume that there's no one else present.

Mizuki (183) has posed:
    Seeing as there's no need for stealth, Mizuki wastes no time on it. As soon as she arrives through the gate, she soars through the brush with all due haste, summoning her sword a few moments before she alights with a gentle shockwave. At first, she's captivated by the barrier; there are feelings that emanate from it that feel wrong in the most familiar way possible.

    Really, though, a lot of this feels familiar. As she would say, authors of all stripes have an affinity for moments of finality and climax, and this certainly is one such moment. She remains completely silent and focused for once, letting the charge of the moment overtake her. So many feelings she has no right to flare in her chest, and she can virtually see all of the alternative realities that rely on this present as their point of divergence bursting forth into the sightless purgatory of the future.

    But some people have a preference for certain offshoots, and though she may not be willing to admit it herself, she has a preference as well. She will see to it that this 'D' fellow is put back in a place where she can interrogate him and learn more of his past. Interesting individuals merit that, especially after being involved in such exciting events as this one.

    Eventually, she is able to tear her gaze from the barrier and look off in the direction that her intuition hints her opponents will approach from. Then she readies her sword, her omnipresent smile fading.


She's probably better off that way.

Ferham (516) has posed:
     There is a reddish column of light descending from the heavens in the distance, and then nothing--until a tiny speck appears in the horizon, the little grain-sized dot getting larger and larger until it's shape is more insinuated as some kind of flier. Whatever it was, the distance crossed was so great that teleportation seemed to be necessary. As it came closer, the crimson outline of bird wings and a humanoid form would become apparent. Ferham swooped down and brought herself up high, coming down with her body floating down almost gently, but hovering closer and closer down, gaining speed until she's on a direct path to come to intercept the forces gathering outside of the castle itself.

     The flying armored woman would likely be a decent enough target hovering there, though as she flicked that glowing reddish pink whip out and cracked it, she tilted herself downward and picked up speed again, moving down to directly engage. Was she really here just to protect D? Perhaps, she likely had just been called in as... reinforcements.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    When the plan is enacted, Ainsley is quick to move into place. A bolt of lightning follows her as she flies through the sky, finding her place in the clearing where Homura had snagged D. When she gets there, the air around her boils with wind and lightning, her fury and determination at its maximum for this day. She looks incredibly haggard, though, to the point where she hasn't washed up completely and has dust covering the robes and armor she has taken to wearing to the battle.

    She floats somewhere near where Mizuki ended up. She offers no direct attention to the point they need to defend, out of fear her attention will hint to the Confederates where they need to focus, if they don't already know.

    A longsword is drawn from its scabbard with an arc of electricity that curves around her in a wide path, glowing a faint red color.

Medusa Gorgon (22) has posed:
    For the most part a certain witch dislikes being disturbed. Unless it's regarding matters that concern her, like one of her many projects. And when she hears that there might be interference with one of those projects? Well, Medusa has no choice but to take matters into her own hands.

    The Union members might get an advance warning from the sky above. A presence that would not be easily ignored by those sensitive to such a chaotic soul. And the dark silouette might be easily seen against the light of the moon as it descends in a near plummet. The snake witch has arrived, and as always, she seems focused and determined, serpentine eyes set on the clearing below. Just what is this? That mark does clearly not belong down there in that clearing. What exactly is going on? Whatever the Union is up to, it's rubbing her the wrong way. So she better figure out what is going on and ensure that D's condition... remains intact.

    As she descends, Medusa swerves her broom around the clearing, hoping that her speed will be enough to ensure that she can get closer to the mark before the Union can interfere any further.

Ariah (56) has posed:
     A different certain witch has fully recovered from her last... ordeal involving this saga. No longer half a charred skeleton clinging to unlife, Ariah is quite rested and recharged. Inwardly she hopes she's not going to be facing another fire and/or holy user, but outwardly her conviction and loyalty shine brightly and sincerely. Time permitting, she would have stuck around Castlevania a lot longer. For the time being, however, she is only passing through. Passing monsters and servitors and all manner of the castle's denizens, jogging through halls and corridors to find a suitable piece of machinery. And she takes scarecely a breath when she finds it.

     A trebuchet. She adjusts the pack on her shoulder and sets to work on infusing the sling with runes and mana. It's as much a quick hackjob as her mission to free the Bird of the Sun, symbols and marks literally crackling with barely-contained energy while the ink is still wet. Slipshod, but servicable. Clutching her staff, she settles into the sling and gives a signal to the beast at the lever. She closes her eyes as the counterweight creaks and the arm lifts, her world literally turning upside-down. A last touch of energy and she triggers the runes.

     A peal of thunder rings out over the castle and the tattered sling lies in fragments on its cords while a blue-white lightning bolt soars across the darkened sky towards the ambush point. Only -partially- cooked by her own magic, Ariah careens towards the brambly forest like the projectile flung from a magnetic accelerator. The downside to the unstable nature of the hurried runes and travel-by-trebuchet is the unreliable distance factoring.

     As her chute deploys behind her and she's jerked into slowing and stopping in the air towards a more controlled descent, she's off-target but far, far closer than she would be if she had taken the trip on foot or horse. The trail D had sliced and trampled through the undergrowth is easy to follow and quicker-going once she's untangled herself from her cords...

     ...and inbound she moves.

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    Kagenashi hears D's approach long before he actually reaches the clearing, but she doesn't shift from her spot. Aside from the curling of her fingers and the steady swaying of Munashi's tail, the fox woman remains perfectly still and utterly patient.

    Her only movement comes when Homura suddenly appears. The masked woman whirls around to face the puella magi, but a moment too late: the barrier consumes not only D, but her as well, and she soon finds herself in a strange field of red and pink.

    Kagenashi doesn't spare a moment to try and figure out the situation. In two swift motions, both of the katanas on her arms are drawn in flashes of steel, one crackling with the energy its high-frequency blade produces. The nogitsune grips her swords tightly, but aside from that, her stance is almost...relaxed? Even Munashi's crouch at her feet seems without panic or strain.

    Kagenashi faces the approaching Unionites as she holds her swords at her sides. A deep breath is inhaled, then allowed to fall from her slowly, steadily. Serenity is enforced, even as D seems to be steadily overtaken in a smoldering wrath. She will not lose herself; not today, not now. Perhaps that will be easier without Nageki here to influence her.

    With her exhaling breath come five orbs of blue-green flame that begin to dance around her, bobbing and weaving like burning sprites. Kagenashi's right arm lifts, her sword pointed toward Setsuko and Kimiko. "Come, then," she calls calmly. "If you want this to be the end, then move. It will not be easy."

    Her first strike is toward only one target, however. Two of those orbs of fox fire turn into bolts of lightning that lash out at Kimiko, closing the distance in a moment. Kagenashi is quick to follow, sprinting out over the flowered ground at Kimiko with swords held to her sides and flames dancing around her.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    The sight of a lightning bolt in the sky catches Ainsley's attention. She watches its path, prepared for an attack, but relaxes some when it manifests a parachute and descends as a figure in the distance. The lizard girl's eyes lid... and then she smoothly coils in the air, before propulsing herself forward over the treetops and other plant life.

    When she spots the person responsible for that peculiar sight, she dives through the canopy, knocking many leaves down with her. The blade of her sword gleams with menace when she comes to a neutral hover before Ariah, hoping the vampire doesn't just run past her. Instead of just attacking immediately, the lizard girl leers at Ariah, recognizing her immediately. The realization comes with a wide-eyed frown... and a surprisingly calm and neutrally-spoken statement.

    "You tried to eat my boyfriend."

    Leaving the rest of her feelings on this implied is her intent, because she doesn't waste time in lunging at Ariah with that longsword to try to slice her. Thanks to her flight, the terrain is not nearly as much of a hindrance to her, so she can make a speedy beeline for the vampire girl and delay her in this dense plant life.

Sky Lynx (130) has posed:
It would be difficult for Ferham's arrival to go by unnoticed by anyone, let careful eye of the Autobot Aerospace Commander. Lynx opens his maw and unleashes a stream of plasma energy at the Confederate as a warning.

"You have no business here, Confederate, and you will go no further. You, no doubt, know exactly who I am and that you have no chance of defeating me."

He addresses all of the assembled Confederates in unison, "This goes for the rest of you. Turn back now. This is the ONLY warning I intend to give."

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:

    A lot of words are said. Tears may in fact have been cried. And, her inner monster, like a great cat, was sated. She had given in to her bleeding whiny heart and clenched her fingers into her palm, giving a slow trickle of blood into Zero's potentially unwilling mouth. You know how it is.

    And Zero had left. Left to deal with D. And she had waited there. In the Apartment of Solitude. Alone. She hated it. She wanted to curl up in a ball and stop thinking about... About everything. She wanted things to be bright, and happy, and wonderful. She wanted... She wanted...

    ... NOW!

    Now there is a Witch Barrier... Which is joined by hundreds of pretty red butterflies, which seem to land on the flowers and hang out.

Mizuki (183) has posed:
    She glances left, and right. No one yet. Which is odd, considering that castle on the hill presumably belongs to -- ah, wait, no. There are cracks and flares in the distance now; a red glare and the spectral hum of magic propelling someone forward. All of this would quickly hint that her first test of the evening - the test of her intuition - had been failed. She had been looking left, right, back, and forth, but alas, there were no faces of 'evil' to be found; only the dim, cloudy sky, and more of that ominous energy of which she has grown so fond.

    Naturally, the direction she missed was up. However, she catches on quickly enough to catch a glimpse of darkened spot on the moon. To think, her beacon sullied by the person of one of this land's denizens! Absolutely unacceptable! But there's something... wafting off of that image. Something else familiar. Her intuition is giving her another hint, one that she places much more faith in than last: she knows, based on the feelings ricocheting throughout the area like so many bolts of transcendental lightning, who that image belongs to.

    And how fitting that they should meet here, under another starlit sky.

    Mizuki arcs into the sky with a series of powerful upward flaps, giving herself a bit more momentum via one of her transient timebending spheres. She, too, streaks across the moon's pale face and rights herself a few yards from the other witch, her gradually forming grin showing itself only in the reflective metal of her blade; eerily like Medusa's own, if she could see it.

    Coming back around for another swerve, she streaks past Medusa's broom, trying to disrupt her descent with her speed alone. She continues in this pattern until she has her attention and levels, holding her sword aloft.

    "Medusa." There's a pregnant pause before she bows her head in some demonstration of battlefield modesty. "To think that we would have our first taste of eachother's abilities under such magnificently intense conditions." She takes in a deep breath, and exhales. "Fitting, isn't it? But unfortunately, my curiosity is an insatiable thing; painfully ravenous, really. And I'm afraid I cannot allow you to go anywhere until it has been sated." She narrows her eyes. "So please do not disappoint me, o' lady of snakes. Let us make this a night that we may both remember."

    And with that, she's gone. From the left comes a series of deafening cracks, followed by the streaking of four ember-clad bullets. Provided the wielder is not caught then and there, she would zigzag her way to the witch's side and attempt a gentle slash to her side as well.

D (232) has posed:
    He had never come to know Homura Akemi on any personal basis. The way he brings up his sword as soon as she reveals her presence suggests he knows enough to be wary, but he makes no other move to defend himself. Of course, in this case, even experience might not have saved him. Even if he had been ready to face the likes of her, he wouldn't have been able to prevent her action.

    The world changes. Gone is the crisp, clean air permeating the Great Mountains; D's first breath in the flower-strewn land is a choking, blood-soaked onslaught on the senses. Full in the sky, the pink sun beats down a radiance his night-focused eyes have to squint to endure. He is blinded for so long he hears Setsuko's response to his question long before he actually sees the swordswoman. Hearing her voice gives him an inkling of what's to come.

    Seeing her wreathed inside her stormy aura, facing him as a woman prepared to either issue death or meet her own, confirms his suspicions. His hand, already tight around the hilt of his sword, squeezes tighter yet in response to Setsuko's obvious intent.

    He sees Setsuko's preparation mirrored in Kimiko's steady approach. He smells it on the wind, in the form of stale, old blood washing the arena in a confusing miasma, disguising what he suspects must be yet another antagonist ready to end his life. Zero -- or his tactics, anyway. As he looks around, the sun still a stinging glare, he at last spots Homura in the distance, keeping well away from where the action is about to unfold.

    D drops from his saddle in a rush unlike him. Controlled anger makes his movements rigid, tense, and fast. He isn't the butterfly dancing from delicate flower to delicate flower; he is the hornet preparing to sting. The cyborg horse snorts and stomps its hoof before giving its head a shake and ambling off to the side, clearing the way. D uses the horse's bulk to disguise his first movement.

    Setsuko is no doubt expecting D to meet his challenger and lunge right for her, but this is a life or death situation, and he knows he is trapped. A spray of wooden needles flung from his hand is all the attention D gives to Setsuko -- he is taking his sword, and rushing like dark lightning toward the girl responsible for this dimension, Homura Akemi. He won't be able to reach her yet, but left unchecked, he'll be on her in moments.

Homura Akemi (2) has posed:
    Homura frowns.
    D's sharp. Of course he'd figure out if he targets her, this is going to end. That was one of the few flaws in the entire plan; using this sort of tool against a Hunter. Someone who specializes in bringing down creatures with odd powers. Right now she's no better than any of them, really. She's just some monster with reality altering powers. A day's work for D.

    Putting faith in Setsuko, Homura doesn't burn magic needlessly to dodge. Instead, a pair of metallic, tin soldier Homuras, hair braided with glasses on, suddenly put themselves between D and her, raising their spears menacingly!

    ... unfortunately Familiars are scrub-tier.
    They'll be hacked apart in an instant, but if it slows D down by even a fraction of a second that might be all Setsuko needs. Or maybe it wasn't needed at all. Either way, once cut into pieces, the injuries transpose onto Homura a bit, in the form of one or two cuts just suddenly appearing and bleeding.

Zero Kiryu has posed:
    As soon as D starts moving, the shots ring out like muffled thunderclaps. On reflex, one might expect that they'll be aimed at him, but they're not. The great rifle is trained on D's horse, and more specifically towards its legs. Five shots ring out, the last of them aimed for the cyborg horse's eye. Last time that thing was involved in a fight with D, Zero remembers it being used as a shield... and in circumstances where quick movement is a concern, the horse is more of an issue than D himself. It would allow a retreat even if he was grievously wounded. This is, in fact, the purpose of the first magazine. The shells are not specialized in dealing with vampires. They're anti-armor.

    Like a good sniper, Zero doesn't stick around after his shots have been delivered. He crawls on his belly through the red flowers around him and takes up another position, without even troubling to "surface" to keep an eye on what's going on above. He doesn't need his sense of smell to know where D is. There aren't too many vampires here, and it's easy to keep track of the one that's made him so angry and territorial.

    Once he's reached his next location -- still quite far removed from where everyone ELSE is fighting -- Zero swaps out the magazine. Armor-piercing to anti-vampire. The first magazine is jammed haphazardly into a pocket and left there.

Medusa Gorgon (22) has posed:
    The presence that rushes by her makes the witch's eyes go wide in surprise, and she frowns, displeasure evident on her face as she steadies her broom. Oh right... her. The one in that world with the stargazing. How bothersome. Judging by the look on Medusa's face, she does not share the enthusiasm that Mizuki has, and she narrows her eyes. "I care little for your curiousity, your company, nor for conversation tonight, I am afraid. You are in my way." Before Medusa has seemed all too pleasant. But right now she has little interest in keeping up the charade when there are important matters to attend to. Who is this person to tell her where she can and cannot go?

    The snake witch frowns when Mizuki is gone, and she knows better than to simply hang around. The cracks from the left do not go unnoticed, and Medusa drops from her broom just as the fiery bullets pass just by where she was moments ago. During her freefall, Medusa turns and moves her arms, all while black snakes coil out from behind her. "Vector Arrow!" Even as Mizuki zigzags towards her, the black arrow snakes do the same thing, dark lines rushing through the air towards Mizuki, even as Medusa and her broom both fall toward the forest and clearing below...!

Ferham (516) has posed:
     Ferham wasn't exactly sure what was going on in this situation, she'd been called in to assist D, Unioners showing up. However, when the stream of plasma surges past her face, she's quite glad she's armored up for this. Otherwise that would have /definitely/ singed her.

     "I have plenty business being here, you're in front of my CO's residence," Ferham put her hands on her hips almost like a scolding mom, before shaking her head and cracking that whip of hers out into the air, as if in a return 'warning shot'

     "Better be careful, you know what they say about getting ice on plane wings!" Ferham holds her arms up and creates a gust of wind and frost that showers down upon Sky Lynx, trying to cover the aircraft-like Autobot in hoarfrost!

Ariah (56) has posed:
     The sight of the floating lizard with a sword does bring pause to the witch, her boots digging into the weed-choked forest floor as she comes to an abrupt halt. Her uniform already bears small rips and tears where the briars and branches had caught on them in her hasty flight towards the clearing. Her eyes narrow and she holds her staff in both hands, recognizing Ainsley immediately, eyes flicking left and right to be sure that there aren't more lying in wait for her. Especially that infernal holy inquisitor rat.

     "He set me on fire."

     Her response is as neutral and calm as her adversary's, and when that sword-lunge comes, her staff is up to meet it immediately. Without, for the moment, a fire-spewing salamander to deal with, she has fewer worries. Staff meets sword and the clang is loud, her eyes narrowing. "I have friends and allies who require aid, stand aside," she commands in that frigid tone. She lacks the mobility of flight and the terrain has her boxed in, but the reach of her staff is at least one bonus asset as she tries to keep Ainsley's blade out of striking range with short, rapid swats and feinting thrusts.

Setsuko Kaminagi (255) has posed:
    The swordswoman slowly brings her blade up, shifting from the calm stance of waiting to the tense, two-handed grip on her sword that signifies her readiness. Kagenashi's sudden attack doesn't so much as get a flinch from her - she trusts in Kimiko to head that off. Her eyes are only for D, watching the Hunter dismount and starting to step to one side in the wary beginnings of a circle. The fan of wooden needles whips her guard up, sword snapping through them in a flash on reflex alone-

    "Your opponent is right here."

    And in the next moment, she's planted herself in D's way.

    In truth, this was the action she expected. D has become bestial in some ways. Instinctive. He knows he's trapped. She would expect him to take the most direct route to escaping that trap: attacking his jailer. And so she's prepared on the spot to get in his way. The spider lilies uproot beneath her feet as she skids to a stop, a burst movement taking all her strength to plant her in the way that leaves her with so much momentum even she has trouble killing it.

    But kill it she does, becoming a great sky-blue storm of light in the dark Hunter's path. And in one fluid movement, her sword whips upward towards him. A diagonal cut, rising up from below, and as it goes her aura begins to wrap around it; by the time the slash has finished, she has created a larger, broader blade from pure divine light, making a deadly beacon of her sword.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley is not an expert with a longsword, but she certainly has some noticeable training with it. She smoothly pushes on the air with her feet as if shifting her stance, taking advantage of her ability to strike from odd angles and keep her opponent on her toes. While she isn't on the same level as Ariah, she is good enough to keep the vampire occupied, and that's enough for the lizard girl. She's not concerned with killing Ariah, only being a nuisance for as long as she can manage.


    he sound of blade and staff clashing together echoes through the wilds. At one point, a louder impact scares a flock of birds from a tree, especially after it's accompanied by a thunderblast of sound. Ainsley's face twitches as the vibration through her weapon makes her hands sting.

    "What a coincidence," she replies, remaining in her neutral voice, though the effort of battle bubbles through it here and there, "I also have allies, and they need my help. So that puts us at an impasse."

    "Let me rectify that, hmm?" She then tries to channel electricity through the longsword so that it is approximately twice as hazardous to deal with, making the blade glow red here and there where the lightning dances across its edge. It's not doing anything strange to the sword, just pushing a charge through the very handy metallic conductor. Which makes it Not Fun to try to parry.

Sky Lynx (130) has posed:
Sky Lynx unfurls his wings, extending large blue metallic feathers and flicking the ice shards away with little effort, he cranes his neck to the side, "You REALLY have not done your research have you? My alternate mode is a Space Shuttle, NOT a plane! Extreme temperatures are my home. You want a plane, go find yourself an Aerialbot to dance with. But for now, I'll give you a dancing partner to get you warmed up."

The massive dino-bird flicks his tail up over his head and fires a homing missile directly at Fehram!

"Hrumph, a plane, indeed!"

Kimiko Shinobu (570) has posed:
    Kimiko had, naturally, positioned herself roughly in front of Homura. Sadly, she did not do so well enough to block a charge from someone as fast as D. He's yet well out of her sword's reach.

    he Puella Magi moves as if aware of what's coming at her, despite few things being further from the case. Magical attacks of this type are difficult for her to evade, and her armor is as ill-suited for dispersing electricity as it is for heat--but this isn't to say she's without effective tactics. With a twist of her wrist, carried into her arm, her sword flies out, end over end and suddenly a blank blade without a hilt, shining with charged magic on an interception for Kagenashi's projectile attacks. It will explode if the magic hits it hard enough, but it should deflect either way.

    There's already another blade in Kimiko's hand, and she's twirling on her feet in a sudden display of speed as if to lunge straight for her attacker, but when she spins, the sword extends, breaking into a score of jagged edges connected by whiplike chains. It keeps extending, easily topping thirty yards in a lightning-fast motion.

    Only in that last moment does she reveal, by the length of the attack, that D was the target. The attack will be shallow, but managing to get her chain around any part of him will be counted as a major success. To divert his attention, a minor one.

    All else was a feint, and only her shield arm remains in position to stop the swords coming at her. This could hurt, if she's misjudged, but she's ever ready for that.

Mizuki (183) has posed:
    Tch. No one ever shares her appreciation for showmanship, even when they seem the type! Doesn't so much as humor her banter or her gunshots either, electing instead to jump off of her broom. This is the point where any haughty fighter worth their myriad titles would start shouting about impudence, rudeness, and the like, but --

Oh crap, that black thing isn't part of the sky, is it.

    Mizuki barrel rolls out of the way of the arrow at the very last second which, considering how it was mimicking her movements, might have been one of the best moments for her to choose anyway. Still, it manages a strike at her legs, and shaves off a good number of the frills of her dress. She doesn't bleed; rather, her skin flakes off a number of azure sparks, but judging by the grimace she's wearing, the effect is very much the same.

    "Fine. No need for it on either side, then." Those 'snakes' are emanating from her and moving upwards, so the solution is simple: to place herself in an area where she would have to readjust her aim. This is precisely what she does, blinking out of existence long enough to reappear directly beneath Medusa. But as always, she doesn't arrive without flair -- two trios of bullets fire at her from above in the meanwhile as the chronomancer tries to anticipate her foe's movements. If she stays where she is, chances are pretty good that she'll just launch another of those arrows at her, but her primary goal here is to keep her away from the barrier, so she stays all the same.

    She attempts to change her position with Medusa in parallel, employing some magic to 'teleport' if she must. Just enough so that if she doesn't adjust in kind, she'll be blocked off.

Ferham (516) has posed:
     OH CRAP--MISSILES! Ferham hadn't dealt with one of these for a while, having to suddenly bank and take evasive manuevers to try and not get directly impacted by that large soaring projectile. Cracking her whip out, Ferham tries to lasso her electromagnetic whip around the fusilage of the fast moving shell, finding herself amusingly dragged along with it, perhaps her intent was to try to grab it and swing it back at Sky Lynx...?

     Maybe Ferham is doing something to the missiles targetting system wirelessly, or maybe her electromag whip has just confused it, but as she retracts her whip cord inward, she's able to pull herself up and begin riding the missile back to Sky Lynx--like a surf board!

     "Yeee haw!" she cries, before jumping off, leaving it headed back in his direction!

Ariah (56) has posed:
     It's an even matchup, surprisingly. Ariah's strength and staff training a cut above the blood mage, but Ainsley's superior position and maneuverability preventing her from landing a focused blow on anything but the blade. If there's any frustration with her predicament, the witch doesn't show it. "Locked in battle," CLANG. "For our friends and allies," CLANK. "Placed on opposite sides. We are but a small but accurate representation of the greater conflict." SHNK.

     Ariah's voice remains cold and impassive, speaking in a reflective manner as blade meets staff again and again. Then her eyes widen slightly, violet light flickering in them, when lightning dances across the steel. Something tugs faintly at the edge of her mouth, perhaps the faintest touch of emotion. And with surprising eagerness, she uses her next parry to not simply block the blade, but to slam the metal of her staff into it harder than the previous maneuvers. It conducts beautifully, lightning dancing down the shaft and into her fingertips.

     There's a moment of gritted teeth as she feels the jolt, but the runes on her staff ignite like rows of misshapen ghost lanterns lining a straight path. She's drinking in the energy, recovering what she'd lost from infusing the trebuchet with power to launch her. And turns it around to give Ainsley a taste of her trip. She slams the end of her staff into the forest floor, a shockwave of light exploding outwards in all directions from the point of impact, bowing branches, rustling leaves, and fully intent on shaking the lizard sorceress either to the ground, or at least out of her way so she can get to the clearing.

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    The bolts of lightning crackle and disperse against Kimiko's blade, but Kagenashi continues pressing forward. In truth, she's at a disadvantage at this moment: her swords aren't really built for tearing through armor, save for the enhanced cutting power of her high-frequency blade. If she had Nageki, and made use of the blood coating the ground, that wouldn't be an issue, and the empowered sword could make short work of metal.

    In that case, she will just have to be clever. Not a new task for her.

    Kagenashi is quick to evade the sword-whip, but...there's something wrong. Even as she shifts to the side in her sprint, it doesn't seem like that was meant to strike her directly. In those split seconds, the nogitsune's mind works quickly; if they're here to deal with D, and they know that they may not be a match for him individually...

    The moment the sword-whip strikes out at D is the moment Kagenashi realizes the weapon's purpose. There's not much she can do at this range, and it may even be too late by the time she does /anything/, but she doesn't consider that. Her form is consumed in black as she leaps to the side, aiming to simply crash her own body into the jagged whip. It'll hurt, definitely, but if she's tangled up in the slicing metal, maybe that will prevent it from having much of an impact on D later.

    At the same time, a second copy of her splits off that dark form like ink blots separating from one another. Their colors return, one nogitsune tangling herself in the whip, the other leaping toward Kimiko with a swing of her arm. Not to slash out at the puella, but to slam the butt of her katana into the wrist of Kimiko's sword hand in an attempt to disarm her.

Sky Lynx (130) has posed:
Sky Lynx's visor flares a bit as the missile is redirected back at him. He swats at the missile as it gets within range. It explodes against his gigantic claw, the blue armor left singed and smoking.

"You, CLEARLY, do not understand the seriousness of this situation, and I have grown weary of your childish shenanigans!"

Sky Lynx turns his behemoth form in mid air with shocking speed, his thick tail cutting through the air at Ferham like a massive metal whip!


The sound of the metal snapping against the air echos throughout the sprawling mountain range. Now, whether it actually found its target remains to be seen.

D (232) has posed:
    Blood and wiring burst out of the cyborg horse's shattered knee. The steed's head flails back, and it begins to shriek, all before the first report resonates across the scarlet field. Another knee explodes into fleshy fragments and bony shrapnel. Much of the beast's skeleton has been reinforced by metal plating, but the armor-piercing rounds reduce the plates to useless shards. The cyborg horse slips sideways, its immense weight crashing to the ground. What's left of its legs flails at the air. Panicked, the poor thing continues to let its torment be heard before the final shot puts it out of its misery. One of its forward-pointed horns drags a furrow through the meadow in its final death throes.

    Seeing his horse shot down, and seeing Setsuko appear before him undeterred, D cannot contain his frustration. He releases a low sound like a growl, and checks Setsuko's sword without any restraint in his lightning-swift parry.

    The dark blade he wields appears almost black with living fury as it sweeps downward to meet the light-wreathed sword coming for him from below. As Setsuko's storm-like power gathers around and reinforces her blade by doubling its breadth and adding to its length, he bears down without remorse, forcing her sword's tip toward the ground. At the same time, he steps forward and inward, and attempts to complete a half-moon arc that would be more than enough to send her sword out wide -- leaving Setsuko all but defenseless.

    Only the sudden lash of Kimiko's chains prevents disaster. D's right arm, his sword arm, is lashed across the bicep. The stinging attack doesn't deal out much damage, but it does spoil his intentions through sheer surprise. D steps back to protect himself against the next oncoming attack. A furious wrinkle appears between his brows.

    He addresses Setsuko. "You say you are my opponent, but you have no hope of defeating me alone. You are in my way, but your victory is dependent on the allies you've brought with you. Your sword is ineffective; how can you say it's /you/ who will defeat me, when it's clear you lack the ability? Turn back now, and you might leave this alive. I am not feeling merciful!"

    Some part of his mind keeps alert of Zero. As D wades forward to rain three quick, punishing strokes down on Setsuko, his eyes scan the flowers for any sign of the other Hunter.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley can sense what she did wrong almost immediately. Her mouth twitches, too, but she barely betrays her emotions to her opponent, not wanting to get manipulated when she has something so important to do. The blade impacts, and the electricity courses through her sword and into the staff, and into Ariah... and so the lizard girl learns that Ariah is, in fact, able to manipulate lightning quite well. An ability that reminds Ainsley of the tournament match she was in where almost the exact same thing happened, with Ariel. They just traded the same lightning charge at each other until one collapsed.

    The lizard girl is prepared, though. She is slammed into by the shockwave of light, and bowled backward through the air, but Ariah will notice an oddity in the way the air moves around them. It swirls and rotates in such a way as to obviously be manipulated by the lizard girl. And then that Quetzal turns her attention back to the vampire, bruised and a bit unhappy but still in the fight.

    She then emits a huge gust of wind, ducking down low to the ground, planting her feet on the ground, and then doing a terrifying upward slash with every intent to repel Ariah back away from the clearing, branches snapping and leaves flying in that direction with dramatic effect, pushing forward with absolute chaos and destruction in the immediate vicinity of the lizard mage.

    "We will fight," she insists, "Until one of us cannot stand. That is the only way I will allow this to end."

Medusa Gorgon (22) has posed:
    It's a minor annoyance that the other witch manages to evade most of the attack, though Medusa does note the effect the Vector Arrow has on the other woman's leg. No blood, huh? Peculiar... At least it looks like it hurt.


    Why waste her breath on banter? And it seems that her ears will be spared any unnecessary talk too. But Mizuki appears to be serious as well, and it would be foolish to underestimate her. Which is why Medusa is alert when her opponent blinks out of sight and the bullets are literally fired at her. The snake witch frowns as she realizes that Mizuki is suddenly /underneath/ her and blocking her way to the barrier. Well, she will have to get past her somehow /and/ handle the bullets. Raising her arms above her head, Medusa cries out again. "Vector Arrow!" More snakes fly up and towards the bullets, though it is enough to dampen the attack somewhat, two of those bullets still do not get deflected enough, and Medusa winces as two of them strike her arms, fire bullets biting into her flesh. It hurts, but at least she lessened the damage to something bearable.

    And as she falls towards Mizuki, she calls out again.

    "Vector Plate!"

    For the most part these black arrows are best placed on floors, walls and ceilings... and it might not be as effective and be broken down quickly by Mizuki, but it's well worth the try. A black arrow, smaller than her usual ones, appears on Mizuki's torso, and Medusa twists as she draws close, bringing her feet down... connecting to the other witch's chest before she kicks off, aided somewhat by the Vector Arrow before it starts breaking down. While Medusa isn't heading straight down towards the clearing she is going down in one direction at least, falling towards the forest. Her stunt separated her from her broom however, which lands roughly in the clearing. Not that it would be good to anybody but a witch that is.

Ferham (516) has posed:
     "Shenanigans are one of my best features!" Ferham shouts back, but likely it's easy enough to hear her over short-wave comms, if theres any wind interference of simple vocals. When the large shuttle-dinosaur however turns the full weight of his Brachiosaurus-like tail at Ferham however, she finds herself clipped on one wing by the huge weight of it, throwing her away and down, her heeled booted feet driving up huge mounds of dirt and rocks as she attempts to bring herself to a stop, looking quite understandably a bit dizzy after the spinning she did.

     Cracking her whip out, she anchors herself onto a passing tree and manages to use it's grapple-like pulling action to boost herself back in the opposite direction, her wings flaring out. Now she dive-bombed directly down at Sky Lynx, trying to catch him with a few snapping cracks of that electromagnetic whip of hers--it would feel almost numbing to a robot, or any other mechanoid when struck with it.

     "Don't worry, this is gonna feel GOOD!" she announced in an excited voice.

Setsuko Kaminagi (255) has posed:
    The unrestrained parry smashes Setsuko's attack back down to the ground, and then only fails to shove her sword out of the way entirely by the intervention of Kimiko. She misses no time, however, falling back a step and whipping her sword around into a high-overhead guard, the longer blue-white blade extending a fair ways in front of her. "You're right. I can't defeat you alone. Killing you on my own would be a hopeless gesture. But in case you haven't noticed... I'm not alone."

    In the next heartbeat she's hurling herself at D with all her strength, her nameless blade whipping around into a horizontal slash. Every strike comes with all the power she can put behind it, one after another after another. All of them are aimed for the center of mass, simple killing blows. All of them demanding defensive movements; most of them aimed close enough that blocking is by far the easiest response to them. And every time she strikes, she takes a step, bearing down, trying to take advantage of D's offbalancing to keep him on the defensive.

    "And I don't need to kill you in order to win!"

Ariah (56) has posed:
     Ariah can handle lightning. It's the rest of the storm that usually gives her trouble, and it shows. Her lack of focus on the other mage is her undoing. So concentrated she is on her perceived goal, the wind catches her completely off guard. She tumbles backwards until her staff catches on a heavy branch, sent many meters back from the clearing and left to extricate herself from a thorny bush. She pulls herself free, scratches on her arms and her face seeping blood momentarily before they close just as quickly as they had been revealed.

     "I can aid in arranging that," she states, eyes settling on Ainsley. "Working yourself to exhaustion is a noble endeavor," the witch compliments before jamming her staff into the ground. No shockwave comes from it this time, instead she simply aimed to free her hands. Both arms sweep in front of her, and each hand grasps a rapidly-forming sphere of energy. Once they reach the size of softballs, she swings, sending the pair of brightly-glowing mana spheres towards Ainsley. They arc, curving around trees and branches, before intersecting on their paths and detonating in another burst of heat and concussive force once they're near enough to Ainsley.

Kimiko Shinobu (570) has posed:
    As she suspected may be the case, the attack was too shallow--too hasty. Kimiko will have to try again to really hamper D, and this time he'll be ready for it. She doesn't let this trouble her. Her thoughts are cool, in contrast to the heated passion of some others. She is merely thinking through what needs to be done.

    Kagenashi stops her from pulling the whipsword back for another attack immediately, and the splitting manages to surprise her--there's a brief thought that this might be an illusion of some kind, and that slows her shield enough that the nogitsune is able to get past her guard and strike her sword hand. It's a good, solid blow, felt through her armor, and her grip is badly loosened. Rather than scramble for it, she lets the hilt fall--which will give the instance of Kagenashi that's tangled a fraction of a second to get away, before what happens next.

    Kimiko's foot comes up, and she stomps down on the hilt as it reaches the lily-covered ground. Without so much as a finger touching it, the chains move on their own, her magic coursing through and controlling the weapon directly, either lashing out for the nearest target or (if she didn't take that chance to get away) wrapping around Kagenashi's copy more and more tightly, jagged metal mercilessly grinding into whatever flesh it reaches. The weapon can be broken, but evading damage with its entire length on the target will be difficult.

    Doing this requires some of her concentration, but not all of it. Kimiko's empty hand is suddenly holding a hooked spear, and stabbing, thrusting and slashing, trying to catch the nearer copy to get give her a chance to crash it against the ground. Avoiding that fate would be wise, given what the Puella Magi is prepared to do to a pinned opponent.

Homura Akemi (2) has posed:
    Without D putting pressure on her, Homura can relax.

    The word relax is relative, because she's still processing a landscape that is completely alien and opposite to her existence right now, and if someone could get a close look at her Soul Gem, they'd see the purple diamong is shifting from purple to black over time, like an hourglass emptying itself-- or filling itself with black sand. Pick your analogy.

    She glances towards the butterflies, idly-- she doesn't say or do anything, not wishing to give away a location or presence that might have gone unnoticed until now. Zero may be a bit grumpy and cold, but so is she, and she can respect someone with an efficient, down to earth plan like this.

    She's never seen Setsuko this driven, though.

    Is D that important to her?

Zero Kiryu has posed:
    Horse is dead. That's good enough, though Zero feels vague pangs of guilt. He doesn't really like hurting animals like that, but in this case the beast was a true liability. With the way things are right now, it reduces the chances that D will be able to successfully escape dramatically. Or at least, he thinks so. The Dhampir is pretty capable of hoofing it on foot, but not having to put as much personal effort into it would make it that much easier. He adjusts the bearing of his rifle, and the moment of truth rapidly approaches. D is going to be wise to what's going on. Aiming merely at his presence will not do. He is going to need to synchronize attacks perfectly with Setsuko in order to catch him at all.

    Zero waits in still silence. The moment comes. He springs up to a kneel, long rifle raised as Setsuko's muscles tense to begin her series of blows. Violet eyes focus on her momentarily, the rifle aimed approximately at the demigod's back. Fractions of seconds pass, the first blow falls, and the first crack of the rifle accompanies it. The crack repeats itself five times like before, but the timing of each strike is incredibly precise.

    Setsuko's killing blows are accompanied by killing shots. They whistle past her five times in synchronization with her swings, but whether they come from the right or the left side varies. The final two shots accompany Setsuko's attacks in terms of timing, but their aim is altered -- instead of firing up towards the center of D's mass, Setsuko can feel them pass under or by her legs. The amount of space they miss Setsuko herself by is tiny -- an inch, perhaps two. Especially the ones aimed at D's legs.

    The bullets feel charged. They are meant for foes like D, and to a lesser extent Setsuko. It is easy to believe that even a God would not rise again if struck in the right spot with one of them.

    However, white-haired and pale-skinned, Zero is visible now. He had to spring up to attempt to make those shots at all. He's a good distance away -- farther than he was when he shot at D with a carbine. But, there's no slick ground to protect him. It's wide open.

Mizuki (183) has posed:
    There's something wrong here. Medusa is falling straight toward her, but she hasn't called out an arrow yet. Why hasn't she called out an arrow yet? Clearly, she has made too many assumptions about her methods too quickly.

    And that costs her dearly. Medusa lands -on top of- the girl, not summoning an arrow to rush toward her, but -on- her. She careens toward the clearing, shocked into paralysis a few moments before her senses return. Several slowing fields are placed behind her to counter the arrow, and when said arrow finally dissolves, she switches gears. She rights herself and performs an aerial loop into another field, this one sending her toward Medusa as would any cannon.

    Medusa would be able to tell that she is disoriented, however; she cradles her head with her free hand and leaves those same blue sparks behind in her rush as she comes closer and closer to Medusa, her sword held in front of her. As she has so many times before, she has become a living missile -- she heads straight for her, blade aimed for her chest.

    But something is different this time. Mizuki uses her wings to break her momentum, throwing a speeding field between herself and the witch and firing several shots. Her plates can reverse them, but with proximity and speed, that can be countered. Whether or not this works, she would fly down; not beneath Medusa this time, but around, creating another pair of large slowing fields and shooting into them. These shots are delayed until Medusa approaches them, but when she does, a volley of at least 20 shots would spray across a linear path in sequence, making any passage through that area quite painful. Mizuki herself waits beyond the veil of sparks and iron, watching her opponent with her sword at the ready.

Sky Lynx (130) has posed:
Sky Lynx, satisfied that Ferham will be dissuaded by his vicious tail lash, is caught off guard when she rebounds back at him and unleashes her whip attacks against him as she passes. The whip cracks true against his blue and red armor, sending streaks of energy across it.

For a moment, the attack seems to be ineffective against the massive Autobot. He tracks Ferham's trajectory with his head, but suddenly he droops in the sky.

Ferham's attack skittered along Sky Lynx's right foreleg armor and founds it's way into one of his joints, disrupting the circuitry in the appendage! Unfortunately, for Sky lynx, the disrupted circuitry is one of anti-grav generators.

The Autobot behemoth starts plummeting from the air, his right foreleg locked in place. He struggles to unlock the frozen limb, but it's no use, "Watch out below!" he warns, as he redirects power to his other 3 antigrav engines!

The effort seems to slow the Autobot, but is not enough to keep him aloft. He slams into the ground relatively hard, sending a small tremor though the Earth.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    The lizard girl relaxes her stance after her wind strike, frowning in the direction the vampire woman was sent. Ainsley is, before anything else, a scholar, and so she carefully observes how Ariah reacts to the attack. The healing damage is not missed, nor anything else about the woman's movements. In fact, she's trying to carefully record the vampire witch's body behaviors so that she can be more accurately struck later on...

    And then the witch has two spheres of energy. The Quetzal woman is expecting another explosion and Ariah does not disappoint. The two big blasts manage to knock Ainsley off her feet and into the brush... and she gets torn up by the plant life as well, groooowling at the sensation as she pulls herself up to her feet. She sounds like some sort of dragon, and not a person, when she does that. It's much deeper than her nature speaking voice.

    Then she advances toward Ariah. At first at a run, but it bursts into a quick flight toward her. But instead of trying to strike the vampire directly, she tries to do something else. She shoves a burst of wind magic at Ariah to try and keep her off her balance for a second, and with that attempt, she does a spin in the air to focus the magic, and then shoves another gust of wind to curve under where Ariah had planted the staff, in the hopes Ariah does not grab it immediately.

    And if this is successful, she tries to send the weapon rocketing off into the wilds where it might be inconvenient to locate in the heat of a battle.

    From close up, Ariah can see how battered and bloody Ainsley is. There's scratches and the hint of bruising on her face, and the explosions certainly did cook her scales!

    "Don't worry," she tells Ariah, ominously, "I have ways of prolonging this that you may not be aware of."

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    Kagenashi-1 is not in the best position. The sword-whip wraps around her from her impact, and her landing is not as keen as it could be. Splitting into more than one seems to be more of a strain to her quick thinking than simply remaining as one person. She crashes down on her side among the spider lilies with the chain wrapped around her, and while she quickly scrambles to her feet and tries to push the whip off of her, it's not quite quick enough. The whip lowers enough to be on her leg by the time she's risen, and in that moment, Kimiko activates it.

    The segmented blade squeezes, grinds, and twists like a serpent of broken metal, tearing into the nogitsune's leg and drawing out a surprised, pained cry. She stumbles, falling again to one knee as the sword digs furrows into her leg and sends blood cascading down its length. Grabbing it is not an option, but fortunately, Kagenashi has a weapon just for this: the high-frequency blade that she swings between two segments of the sword to cleave through it and stop it from continuing to tear through her leg. If she manages that, it's then a matter of tugging the remaining length free from its agonizing coil.

    Kagenashi-2 deals with something she can manage. She plants her feet once Kimiko is temporarily disarmed, and that's exactly what allows her to survive the assault with that hooked spear. She twists, flows between strikes, ducks and whirls in billowing red. The spear grazes her now and then, but Kagenashi is spared being run through for the moment. At the same time, however, she can't seem to find a good opening to retaliate. What could she do now?

    It seems that second Kagenashi will have to remain as a distraction, as her form is once more suffused in black for a moment. A third copy leaps out from her, flipping through the air before landing behind Kimiko. Rather than strike at the armored puella, however, that third Kagenashi instead darts over toward Homura immediately after landing. One sword is thrust out at Homura...but not aimed to kill. Indeed, not aimed to stab into the girl at all. Even if Homura were to stand there, that swift thrust would just graze millimeters from her body. Perhaps Kagenashi really isn't used to splitting up so much?

    The second copy of the nogitsune takes advantage of Kagenashi-3's rush. In the hopes that that was enough of a distraction for Kimiko, she suffers a grazing thrust of the spear along her waist in exchange for a leap and a lifting of her knee to slam it into Kimiko's helmet's jaw, hoping to at least rattle the puella for a moment if not stun her for longer.

Medusa Gorgon (22) has posed:
    It sure sounds like D is impatient... just what is going on whereever he and Kagenashi are? Just who is the mastermind behind this plan? What is their ultimate goal? All of these thoughts are flashing around in Medusa's mind as she does her best to get to the strange mark that is clearly something that they need to check out.

    If only this pest would get off her back...!

    Crashing into the foliage of the upper tree tops, Medusa does catch the sight of Mizuki launching herself towards her, though she does seem affected by the rough kick to her chest for some reason. But rather than getting down towards the ground, it seems that she can't ignore the winged opponent. Here in the trees however it's easier to avoid the bullets, and Medusa kicks off the branch she's on, the bullets striking the tree and foliage around her. Too close! She frowns as Mizuki comes around her, watching the other with cold eyes even as she drops down, doing her best to get to the ground where she might have an easier time of making it to the clearing. But then there's the slowing fields... The witch's eyes widen in surprise, and she quickly brings her arms up.

    "Steam Vector!"

    This time the black snakes originate from around Medusa's feet as she falls, and the black arrows coil up and around the snake witch in great numbers. This leaves her unable to attack on her own, but it's a pretty decent defense as most of the bullets are blocked or deflected, though a few of them do seem to make it through. One of them strikes her in the leg, another goes through her side, and a third gets uncomfortably close to her head as she leans back, eyes wide.

    It's a clearly bleeding witch that lands on the forest floor, breathing heavily as she presses one hand to her side... but rather than focus on Mizuki, there's a twisted determination in her golden eyes as she sets her sights on the clearing not too far away.

    "Vector Plate!"

    A series of black arrows appear on the forest floor, and one of them underneath Medusa herself as she throws herself forward in a somewhat unpredictable manner. Though her destination should be rather clear and easy to figure out.

D (232) has posed:
    Multiple determined attacks push D back again and again. Any ground he's gained between his starting position and Homura Akemi is devoured in a few quick backward strides. Keeping light on his feet despite his simmering wrath exerting itself in the occasional jerking motion or sharp burst of punishing violence, he may yield ground, but not much else rewards Setsuko's efforts. His sword is more than a match for her own in his unwounded state, and he lets her beat her strength uselessly against his flawless barrier. Soon enough, she will exhaust herself.

    Or so it would go had Zero not made his presence felt a second time.

    D's eyes widen as the first bullet screams in from afar to graze his shoulder; the rhythm and flow of his duel with Setsuko spares him a more direct hit. Right away, the wound burns with a familiar agony his body's natural regeneration can't repair. D shifts from a passive defense to an active one, and exerts his senses and reflexes to their fullest. He listens for the whistle of the bullet rushing toward him. He watches for the gaps in Setsuko's attack pattern which Zero exploits.

    His sword deflects the next bullet with a ringing chime and a shower of sparks. Setsuko's blade slashes across his chest, but he accepts the gushing cut as the lesser of two evils. Spinning to the side, he throws out his cloak to confuse his motion and his appearance, drawing Zero's next shot wide; it punches a harmless hole through the garment. Not a trick Zero will fall for again, he thinks. The fourth and fifth shots are aimed unexpectedly low. A hobbling gash is opened into D's left calf muscle, and only a sudden, desperate tumble to the left saves him from the last shot. Setsuko's sword nearly severs his arm, however; it bites deep into the meat of his shoulder.

    D springs up from his tumble and continues running to the left at a limping rate nevertheless in excess of human capability. He attempts to circle around Setsuko, and, barring that, attempts to put himself in range for some kind of counter-attack.

    With Setsuko no doubt dogging him, he abruptly stops, and flings out his left hand in her direction. There is no face on that palm, of course, but the gesture does guide the direction of a telekinetic burst meant to drive her back and down. Like a bomb going off in close proximity, the force is sudden, deafening, and destructive, lacking only fire and shrapnel to be truly deadly. His eyes ignite in a familiar bloody glow. "ENOUGH! If you do not mean to kill me, then show me what you do intend!"

    The anger in that gesture and in the whipcrack of his voice is very unlike him. The cool mask he wears over his countenance is fragmenting. Worn down by Ainsley's telling of the truth and Cecily's further manipulations, worn down by the torment that is his constant hunger, his usual ice is all but gone, and his every nerve frayed to uselessness.

Ferham (516) has posed:
     "It's not overy yet, Shuttle Dino, I can keep doing this all night long!" Ferham cracks that whip again and again, in signature double entendre fashion, however her whip would likely cause a paralytic effect to the mechanoid transformer, she wasn't exactly going to injure him TOO much... well maybe a little. Just enough to leave a few marks~ As the massive Autobot's form begins to plummet to the earth below, the red streak of Ferham is seen following soon after, feminine cackling ringing out through the air, apparently she's having a lot of fun.

     Once the huge Dino-like mechanoid has become earthbound once again (no, not the cult RPG) Ferham is on him almost immediately, landing on Sky Lynx's back and cracking that whip out and around his very long and draconic neck, trying to actually hold and strangle the massive Autobot with her whip alone and perhaps keep him paralyzed like that... but can she really do it? She seems to think so!

     "Say uncle! Beg for mercy!" she brings that whip handle and length back /hard/ with both hands, getting her dom on.

Ariah (56) has posed:
     Ariah doesn't rest on her laurels, not with the battle raging and more than just herself at stake. The growling has her on edge, and she hesitates to recover her staff for but a moment. She reaches out to take hold of it when that flight-assisted lizard bears down on her, fingertips curling around the upper end of the shaft. And then the wind knocks her back, unable to take full hold of the weapon. For the first time in the fight, she makes a noise of frustration, scrambling to try and recover the runed metal length. The next gust knocks it up, and sends it past her. Her reflexes are quick enough to grab the end she'd caught prior, but not enough to take the whole thing. But it's enough.

     The majority of the staff tumbles off into the thick brush, but the light shines on what she did catch in her hand. Hidden in the staff is a sword, a straight saber now grasped by white knuckles. If she feels uneasy at the loss of the rest of it, she doesn't show it. "You are being difficult." Her only response is brief, and she holds the rune-etched sword in front of herself. Her other hand dips beneath the folds of her jacket and comes up with a seperate weapon. An old, reliable automatic service pistol. No flash, no magic, just steady steps and trigger pulls as fast as the recoil action can rack a new round in after each discharge. Her hand is steady, her strength keeping recoil minimal, and she endeavors to empty the magazine of .45 caliber rounds into Ainsley, or close enough to her to keep her distracted from her magic.

     She's clearly keeping her magic in reserve, waiting to see what tricks lie in her opponent still. Seven rounds. Seven steps towards the clearing, still advancing.

Homura Akemi (2) has posed:
    More pressure!
    Whether or not Kagenashi intends to miss-- or actually misses-- two more Familiars pipe up, suddenly clashing their spears as they emerge from the flower bed, vainly trying to hold her back. They don't last very long if she tries to push but they're a good enough distraction the Puella Magi won't even notice whether or not she's being half-hearted or has poor speed and accuracy. When cut apart, those Familiars too transpose their injuries to the girl. It doesn't look like cutting two or three is going to immediatly threaten her life, but a hundred would leave a serious mark, actual damage inflicted to her notwithstanding.

    The magical girl attempts to back away, putting extra distance between herself and D, while trying to keep the third Kagenashi on the run. This mostly involves erratic, teleportation-like movements, but they're a bit slower than her usual in here.

    Maybe if she gets the copy in the swarm of butterflies, they'll agree to help? That's a bit of a gamble, but it's better than straining Setsuko or Kimiko with keeping more at bay than they already are.

    D's anger isn't helping focus, admittedly.
    This place is a funnel for negative emotions as it is.

Zero Kiryu has posed:
    Not all the shots land, but enough of them do to mess up D's healing and slow his ability to move around, and that's all Zero needed. He discards the rifle he had been using, the magazine spent. He'll retrieve it later, it's pretty well-hidden in the flowers here. No counter-attack comes in an immediate sense, which allows Zero the ability to move completely unimpeded. Ordinarily he would have expected some wooden needles in return, but he supposes that Setsuko is just pushing too hard simultaneously for D to spare too much attention to him. Or maybe it was just luck. Either way, he's not going to throw that opportunity away.

    Before the rifle hits the ground, Bloody Rose comes out. In theory, its range is smaller than the rifle. In practice, that's also somewhat true. But it doesn't fire bullets, and the advantages it offers don't end at projectiles. Metallic vines snake out from the gun, growing rapidly to encompass the Vampire Hunter's body. Vital locations are covered in short order -- heart, neck -- but it's not as visible as it was the last time they fought.

    This time he's not staggering out of a lazy afternoon to fight, after all.

    Dramatic timing suggests that at this point, it would be most appropriate for Zero to ominously march towards D. This is not what happens. He tenses and JUMPS, employing the full force of his own vampiric strength to begin rapidly closing the distance between the two of them. The mass of vines that currently "merely" protect his body is growing larger and thicker, forming indistinct shapes around him. It's not hard to imagine strange things appearing in the tangles -- glimmering eyes, or the tiniest sliver of a great beast whose body is hidden just out of sight.

    Zero does not waste shots at this distance. Even with D's current mobility inhibition, it's too much risk for too little reward. He's trying to herd D, acting as a mobile wall to keep him from getting too far away from Setsuko or too close to Homura. As-is, he's too far away to present a direct threat just yet, but it won't take much.

    And those vines aren't getting any smaller.

Setsuko Kaminagi (255) has posed:
    To an extent, Setsuko hadn't expected any of her blows to actually land. But the fact that two of them hit home isn't an issue; indeed, if it will slow D down at all, even briefly, they're somewhat of a blessing. But the billow and flow of the dhampir's cloak is enough to rebuff her for just a moment, and she's forced to back off a step and run to the side as her opponent moves, maintaining her stonewall and keeping in the clash with D. Unfortunately, that runs her right into perfect position for a telekinetic burst that hurls her twenty feet straight back. The demigod skids and tumbles to a stop, but manages to find her feet before her momentum dies, leaving her with a substantial gap between herself and the hunter. When D demands an answer, her face grows stern, her grip shifts on her weapon, and she answers.

    "I'm disappointed in you as a swordsman, D." Setsuko calls, her voice loud, her divine blade held low and to the side. "The bond between sword and swordsman is sacred... they're two halves of a whole. You've let that bond be corrupted right under your nose." Bright blue begins to flood into the already-shining blade of divine power, flooding it, compressing, densifying. Making that two-meter bar of blue-white almost blindingly bright, impossibly compacted for all the power she's pushing into it. Her own aura dims, not just by comparison but in absolute; only the faintest amount of her power remains in it, almost all of it compacted into her sword's edge.

    "That hideous excuse for a blade... it's not the sword you've had by your side for longer than my clan existed. It's a mockery, that's made of you a puppet!" She brings her weapon up, high over her head, assuming an aggressive stance, wide-open and obvious, and all the more menacing for it. "So if I can't take that blade out of your hand, for the sake of the man you once were, I'll pit my own nameless sword against that wretched thing you call a weapon and shatter the shackles that bind you myself! I don't have to be stronger than you... so long as my sword is stronger than yours! Kaminagi-ryu Ougi!"

    Her movement is an explosion. She's suddenly hurtling forward in a dead charge, pushing her body, wringing every last pound of strength she can get out of her legs, every last ounce of speed, all to throw herself at D in the space of a heartbeat. Over the last ten feet she doesn't even step - she LEAPS, launching herself into the air, a low and fast arc that will bring her up to no more than five or six feet off the ground and on a perfect collision course. "Shippu...!"

    And as she comes down, she swings. She brings the the bright blue-white weapon down. And in that last instant, the back of it positively /erupts/. All that compressed divinity, a tremendous torrent of blue power, formed into one great pyre... no, a /jet/ of pure might. A massive jet that drives her sword downward, straight towards D and his own blade with impossible strength.


Sky Lynx (130) has posed:
Sky Lynx is 4 million years old and in those 4 million years, he has never had anyone ty to "dom" him. One might think he'd enjoy a new experience. Unfortunately, for Ferham, Sky Lynx was built for a single purpose: WAR.

Her actions are viewed as an attack, a somewhat humiliating attack, but an attack nonetheless.

As the Paralyzing effects course through him, he is able to activate his lower Transforming cog. The familiar Transforming sound rings out and aside from feeling a large *thump* underneath her, Ferham doesn't see much of a change in the Autobot she's wrangling.

That's when a shadow falls across her from behind and she see the large golden head of a feline staring back at her.

"Having a good time are we?" Sky Lynx says irritatedly.

The autobots bottom half slip from the top and is now staring down the Confederate while she rides on the back of his avian half.

"Here's a fun new ride, I invented just for YOU!" He swipes a large blue claw at her.

Mizuki (183) has posed:
    The earlier rush of adrenaline she had received when Medusa kicked her finally fading, Mizuki goes limp in the air, her aerial gait quickly becoming quite unsteady. She turns with some effort to see Medusa fall further, but there is one significant problem here: she hasn't the foggiest idea where she ended up. She bats her eyelashes to clear her vision and fervently searches the canopy... to no avail. It is moments later - too many moments later - that she notices a rustling of the trees, and a figure making her way toward the barrier.

    Not quite in the clearing yet, no, but far too close for comfort. Unable to steady herself before making her way down and certainly having spent too much energy to conjure any more speeding fields at the moment, she launches herself blindly toward the area before the rune. She points her blade downward to serve as a stopping mechanism as she nears the ground, churning up some of the grass and likely sending a wave of dirt flying in the opposite direction. She likely doesn't have the time to assume a proper stance before the other witch arrives, but she does her best, watching the shroud of the forest carefully. When she pops out, she would move to intercept her with another attempted slash, but it's unlikely that she would be fast enough to stop her without the aid of her magic.

    In-between labored breaths, she tries a last resort to keep her outside: verbal goading. "Such bloodlust! Such an appalling lack of tact!" She calls as loudly as her proverbial lungs will allow, "When I heard that you were a witch, and when you came to visit me, I had assumed there was so much more -artistry- to you, Miss Gorgon! But no, it isn't that at all -- your goals are vulgar, aren't they? Aimless! You truly are as monstrous as your namesake, aren't you?" Her stance falters, and her body nearly topples to one side. "So disappointing. Yours is the most putrid hue of madness!"

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley is from a world where magic and flash has supplanted the modern conveniences of firearms, where a thunderbolt is more reliable than a bullet, and the creatures that need killing tend to ignore firearms anyways. This makes her distinctly unprepared when a pistol is drawn out, to compound with the startle she gets when the blade is pulled from Ariah's staff. Ainsley, however, is not frustrated. From her perspective, she is doing her job just fine. Every second she keeps Ariah away from D is another second her allies have to enact their plan.

    Which is why the lizard can muster up the absurd notion to move /toward/ the person with the firearm. Ainsley catches a bullet in one of her arms, but Ariah may notice a distressing fact about shooting a storm mage: Electricity and wind make it stupidly hard to hit them with small bits of metal. Arcing red electricity pours from the wound where the bullet struck her, but the adrenaline and shock from the other painful distractions makes the white-hot sensation less crippling and more like a great splash of gasoline on fire.

    She barrels at Ariah like a madwoman, and then abruptly switches her mana alignment. This turns off her flight, which is great for the attempted tackle that sends all of her weight at the vampire at high speed. The longsword is used to try to anticipate any sword stabs, making sure she doesn't get skewered for her trouble. Once she's up close, she tries to grab onto Ariah, and in the struggle, she tries to wrap her hand around Ariah's throat quite violently. It's not an attempt at a strangehold so much as attempting to get contact on her target.

    And on contact she'd begin siphoning out mana, creating a surge of red light around her. "No, no, no. I have to make my point before you run off, and I have SO MUCH to say." And her fingers curl. "/You/ are the one being difficult."

Ferham (516) has posed:
     "How can you still move!?" Ferham is trying to bridal the Transformer into submission when suddenly the mighty structure of the cybertronian's body is shifting and /moving/ beneath her, kicking her up and back as she struggles to try and latch onto the Shuttle-Dino's back, several more cracks going across his metal hide.

     "Having a great tiiiime!" she finds herself being taken for a ride now however, quite literally, as the beast portion of Sky Lynx splits off from the ground faring portion and she finds herself struggling to hang on to what looks like a cross between a Pterodactyl and a plane! Sorry, Space Shuttle. She'd desperately try to hang on of course, even /ride/ on the back of the now winged flying section, likely trying to use her whip to lasso around and ride with Sky Lynx's back betwixt her legs.

Kimiko Shinobu (570) has posed:
    Kimiko's spear twists and tries to catch with its hook, but not quite quickly enough. Kagenashi's knee makes it to her face. She had not yet dropped her visor, meaning that her jaw was not, at that moment, armored. This does not precisely prove a problem, but it does cause the blow from Kagenashi's knee to play out differently. Rather than rattling her helmet, the attack strikes against a layer of metal rising from her gorget, that hadn't been there before and appeared too quickly for it to be believably a conscious thought. The shock is strong, but the magical material is likewise, and disperses the unarmed blow down to the chain and padding beneath her collar and chest. Unlike lightning, this is something her armor *is* good for.

    She give out a hard grunt. It should hurt, but it isn't pain at a level high enough to truly slow her down. Still, her spear is out of position in that moment, her opponent slipped inside her guard. The first copy broke her whip--easily enough, without her being able to spare the attention to reinforce it--and the third is going for Homura. And D is still fighting. Kimiko just doesn't have the time to deal with everything.

    The Puella Magi lets go of the spear--her third weapon summoned, and third discarded, now--and considers the lack of time to both create space and summon another. A magic circle, filled with obscure inscriptions in some Latin form, appears behind her for the briefest of moments, before it's funneled entirely into her right gauntlet. She lashes out with a closed fist in a strike that will, hit or miss, be accompanied by a shockwave from the immediate release of the magic accelerating it. It's the neatest solution she could find to the simultaneous problems of time and distance, and the need to give herself space.

    Though, if it doesn't work, she's just going to accept that--it will take some serious damage to deter her as she turns toward the performance D is putting on, just enough to get him solidly in her sight before her shield drops from her arm, and she hurls a double brace of knives in his direction. They're just knives--magically strong, yes, and able to cut through some horrible monsters, but not specifically engineered to exploit weaknesses. Certainly not a true threat in comparison to Zero's ammunition.

    Two of the knives trail thin, nearly invisible wires back to Kimiko's hands. Those wires will become immediately strengthened should they hit, the blades barbed, and then by force of arm she'll make herself a worthy threat. The others are here to break things. She's here to hold.

    This does all require another, dangerous moment of not paying much attention to the fox trying to beat her down. And sorry, Homura, only so many hands and eyes.

Medusa Gorgon (22) has posed:
    The clearing is right there... soon. Medusa kicks off yet another Vector Plate, though she dares not move at quite full speed with the Unionites interfering like this. One false step could lead her into another trap, and while she doesn't fear for her life, it would be foolish to sustain a larger injury and leave her unable to prevent whatever the Union are planning here.

    The attempted slash is something that Medusa did fear would come, and as Mizuki appears her eyes narrow. "Vector Plate!"

    The black arrow appears underneath Medusa, throwing her back and to the side just in the nick of time, and she barely avoids the slash of the sword. Though it does drive her back and away from the clearing, even as she skids to a halt. The snake witch is bleeding still, one hand pressing in on her side where the blood is staining the dark jumpsuit.

    ... oh great. A lecture. Just what she needed.

    "I'm sorry dear, but I am afraid I will have to show you my artistry another time. As for my goals... they are none of your business! Vector Plate!"

    Another black arrow appears, and this one launches Medusa forward as she aims a roundhouse kick at Mizuki's face. And up close, the vicious witch might indeed appear quite monstrous, a wild and dangerous look in her eyes as she tries to break her way through the person who /dares/ to stand in her way.

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:

    As the shots had rung out, the settling butterflies had been uprooted and sent fluttering around, like cherry blossom petals hanging in the air, softly lilting back towards the ground. Then, again and again, they are cast up into the air, clouds of them seeming to gather and move in balls and swarms now, fluttering around mildly antagonized by all the ACTIVITY.

    For all intents and purposes, it seems like there's a pile of these dumb useless butterflies in Homura's realm.

    Then one cloud seems to congeal, between Homura and Kagenashi, as the butteflies conglomerate, and a girl's hand reaches out of it, with a fuzzy coat around the arm behind it, forming out of the butterflies as a blast of concussive kinetic force blasts out, deflowering the ground with a spray of plantmatter as it comes to Homura's defense.

    It's not really lethally intended, just a generic (if quite powerful) blast of force.

    Then, the butterflies disperse, gathering anew near D, between Zero and D.

    Oh wait, that's not butterflies, as they lose their definition as individual insects, and form a girl in a winter coat with long, long brown hair, and dinnerplate sized red-brown eyes, just staring passively at D.

    She is Inconveniently Between Zero and D, and generally within the sphere of the fight, though she isn't actually doing anything.

    "D, please stop. This isn't you. I know - I've seen your torment. This life, this drive, isn't the true self. It's the monster that shares a body with you. Please... stop."

Ariah (56) has posed:
     The 'white witch' doesn't seem to be too surprised when her gunfire is lacking in its effect, but it still brings distraction. Or does it? When the slide locks back, the magazine emptied, she releases it as if preparing to reload it. But Ainsley advancing on her is unexpected. Instead of driving the storm mage back, she's coming closer? Ariah furrows her brow, a frown tugging at her lips as she's practically tackled.

     She drops her pistol and it falls to the ground next to the discarded magazine, both hands taking up her sword. She swings and slashes but her runed steel meets the other woman's blade, sparks of magic lighting up the impacts until the lizard is upon her quite literally. She growls and hisses, freeing a hand to try and claw at her assailant's garments and body to force her off as they tumble into the underbrush amidst weeds and fallen branches from the earlier storm. And she freezes. The words don't chill her blood, it's the sensation of her power being siphoned out of her. Her mana being drained.

     "...we aren't so different after all, are we..." she hisses, her fangs extending as the violet fire in her eyes brightens. And her hand moves to try and grasp Ainsley's shoulder, fingertips tightening to what could easily crush bones on a non-Elite. If it holds, if she can maintain her grasp, the vampiress will wrench the lizard's body towards her, mouth opening wide to sink those stiletto-like fangs into exposed neck scales. If she can make that contact and secure that bite, she'll drink. Drink but trickles of blood while trying to suck her own mana back into herself through the bite. Try to tap the woman's nerves and force her into inaction via numbness or intense pain.

     Her other hand is useless, blade locked to blade, the pair of mages chasing the Ouroboros of each others' energies.

Sky Lynx (130) has posed:
Sky Lynx's avian mode, complete with Ferham on his back, leaps into the air and fires it's booster rockets, soaring up and circling around the battlefield, arcing back, towards his Lynx half.

The Lynx reaches around the base of a pine tree and yanks it out for the ground, with a great heave and drapes it over it's shoulder like a baseball bat.

The Avian lowers it's head and arches it's back, raising Ferham into position, bulletting toward the tree bearing Lynx. As the Avian passes the Lynx, the Lynx swings the tree at Ferham, bent on sending her into orbit, Babe Ruth Style!

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    Kagenashi's advantages aren't in her strength, but in her agility. When Kagenashi-3 is intercepted by those familiars, she doesn't try to push through their guard, but instead brings her other crackling sword around to cleave through /them/. Electricity crackles over the sword's surface and strikes through the familiars like wheat under a scythe, and Kagenashi darts forward again in pursuit of Homura. Red lilies are crushed and scattered underfoot, her blades held out to her sides as she sprints low over the ground.

    She doesn't rush right for Homura, though; that would be foolish, considering the way the girl keeps teleporting around. Rather, she finds the midpoint of those teleportations, focusing her pursuit on where she suspects Homura to be heading. When she thinks she's found it, another orb of fox fire seeps from her mouth...right when Yuuki manifests in front of her.

    The blast is too surprising for Kagenashi to properly react in time. A gasp is all she manages before she's sent flying back, tumbling and rolling through the field for several yards. When she finally stops, it takes her several more moments to get over the ringing in her head and push herself to her feet, her rise steady and shakey. She's lost any proximity she had to Homura, too, in the process.

    As far as the other Kagenashis, Kimiko's tactic is quite effective. Kagenashi-2 is sent flying back moments after she lands, sending her skittering over the flower-covered ground before she kicks, twists, and plants her feet into the ground. It buys Kimiko another moment: Kagenashi-2 is occupied briefly with glancing toward D and Setsuko, that glaring flash of light drawing her attention. But she doesn't move off toward them.

    Kagenashi-1 has just managed to tear the sword-whip free, and it's her that Kagenashi-2 rushes toward. The two are suddenly suffused in black again, and their forms meld, then shift, growing and twisting into a dark shadow easily the size of a bus.

    What next comes flying at Kimiko is a giant, two-tailed black fox with gleaming silver eyes, snarling so that the opalescant orb in the center of her tongue remains glaringly obvious. The large fox lunges, snapping out to bite down on Kimiko's weapon arm and twist her head to the side to yank the armored puella down to the ground.

    Her landing is not terribly graceful: her left hind leg is torn and shredded, bleeding down freely onto the flowered earth. But it's enough for her to remain stable, and hopefully to harass Kimiko further.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    The really interesting part about vampirism is the concepts that embody it. Vampires subsist off of blood, and blood represents life. Life is what they need to live, life of complex beings that can appreciate what it means to lose it. And so what Ariah is drinking is life.

    Life that, she will find, Ainsley latches onto as soon as it enters her. The blood mage could hardly get anything from Ariah, but once the two of them are locked as they are like this, Ariah's contact with her creates this loop of power that is quite blatantly not going anywhere. And that's how Ainsley likes it. The lizard girl just... has a hard time moving while they're like this. The only reason Ains is fighting at all is to delay.

    The red light that pours off the both of them is impressive, and Ainsley's veins even start to glow red under her scales, creating this impressive and unnatural light that washes over the wilds around them. The blood and life and mana gets taken from Ainsley, who weakens, but also starts draining it back, regaining her strength and the power of her draining spell.

    And Ainsley just bursts into maniacal laughter as dark mana coats her senses and the pain makes her delirious. It hurts /so much/ that it's maddening.

    Yet she refuses to let go. Not yet. Not until she's done with Ariah. Not until D is freed from his state, one way or another.

    "No, I guess we're not!" Ainsley agrees, though not with a single ounce of friendliness in her voice. "Now will you please stop chewing on me? I don't want to catch whatever you've got."

D (232) has posed:
    Setsuko's blade becomes a focal point for all the power she possesses as a divinely blessed being. The radiance her weapon exudes forces D to lower his head and avert his gaze. His hat's shadow is a paltry defense, and his eyes still sting; to look at her would probably blind him.

    Shouted words are outwardly deflected by his wordless snarl of disdain, but echo onward through his mind, carving a doubt-riddled path to his very core. The dark jewel set into his sword's pommel gleams in a manner too-alive for anything inanimate, as if to echo and reinforce his unspoken resistance of Setsuko's claims. D knows his sword. It has been by him for thousands of years. It is his closest and dearest companion; no one and nothing could replace it.

    His wrist turns to sweep the tip of his elegant sword down and to the right. He straightens his posture, becoming poised and ready for whatever Setsuko should bring. D still keeps his gaze averted, but he's alert enough to sense the shifting energy in the air. He can hear the breath she takes in, sharp and swift, before she begins her charge.

    The ground trembles. The air rushes. The lilies bow and tremble. He does not need to look at her to know she is coming for him.

    Shining energy streaks toward him as if the heavens had issued judgment in the ancient style of a thrown lightning bolt. In the midst of such awe-inspiring ferocity, Setsuko shouts her own repudiation of the dark powers enveloping D, making it plain that it's not only the heavens who have it in for his sword, but all the earthly powers, too.

    His sword snaps upward in a dark streak.

    Setsuko clashes down on D's blade, but he doesn't budge. The weapon braced at the hilt by his right hand and at its tip by his left hand, he soaks the full frenzy of her attack without flinching except for the light and wind raging around him. His cloak flutters behind him like outstretched wings flapping madly, and the end of his scarf, too. Caught in the rushing forces, his hat is ripped from his head, and it streams away behind him, disappearing into the lilies.

    Darkness gathers to him. The shadows cast by Setsuko's aura visibly deepen, and the air grows frigid. D braces himself -- and then releases all his might. A twist of his body, the application of all his weight and supernatural strength, and Setsuko is immediately flung away. His fangs are flashed in the growling shout he unleashes as he musters himself against her, and in that hateful sound, another telekinetic rush drives home the point that even at her finest, Setsuko is simply no match for someone of D's caliber. The slash of his sword seems to cut a shadowy path to the very horizon.

    His head snaps up to track Zero's approach even as his words fall like hammers onto Setsuko's smashed form. "You claim to understand the bond between a swordsman and his blade, yet have no bond of your own to compare. My sword has seen countless deaths, and will see countless more before it falters." He looks down at her. A calmer wind blows his hair into his chilling gaze. "Until you embrace your weapon as an aspect of yourself -- mind, body, and soul -- you will have no understanding of what it is I've earned. You would not be broken now, if you and your weapon were truly one."

    He moves past her, already rushing to meet the next target. Though his shoulder his only half-healed and his wounded calf slows him, his strides make a joke of the distance between himself and Zero. Of course, a few steps in, and he's interposed again -- Yuuki Kuran emerging from a cloud of butterflies so suddenly he has to stop lest he run her through without thinking about it.


    D has heard enough. Rage floods his red-lit eyes and turns his expression stony. He shouts down Yuuki: "I have had enough of your lies and your manipulations! You -- Zero -- Setsuko -- all of you! I am as you see me -- and if I am a monster, so be it!"

    He aims a vicious stab for Yuuki's chest, all restraint burned through.

Ferham (516) has posed:
     It can be said that there is a very notable sound of a lady screaming as Sky Lynx takes Ferham for a ride. Sure, flying at really high speeds could be scary under her own power at times, if she was in a freefall plunge, but under another's power and inertia it's a bit too scary. Ferham's cheeks wound up rippling back from her pearly whites due to the significant G-forces and caused her voice to warble as she cried to have the Autobot/Dinobot-ish cybertronian slow the heck down.

     "Oh, bugger," Ferham can see the other part of the now standing divided Sky Lynx, holding what appeared to be a giant, gnarled and ancient tree trunk, suddenly pushed and /thrown/ off the flier portion of the Autobot as she was sent flying and tumbling as a big red (and definitely sexy) baseball.

     "Don't you daaare aiiieeeeee!" THWUNK, Ferham is indeed sent into lower orbit by that crack of the bat, or bough, whichever you might prefer.

Setsuko Kaminagi (255) has posed:
    In the instant before D braces, Setsuko's eyes go wide. Every instinct in her body screams at her. It's failed. It wasn't enough.

    And then her attack is turned aside, the sheer force in it throwing her offbalance a split-second before she sails back under a force like a speeding semi - and before she can even hit the ground, a slash carves its way across her body, from her right hip almost straight up, even catching across her left cheek. The blade bites deep, and between that wound and the utterly crushing force of D's telekinetic attack, Setsuko is sent hurtling like a fastball. This time, when she hits the ground, she doesn't get back up. And the ground between her landing point and the place she finally stops is smeared with a crimson most assuredly not born of Homura's barrier.

    Dull shock registers on the demigod. 'It... wasn't enough...? All my power...' Her eyes track to her sword. 'Why? Why couldn't we...'

    D's words cut her right to her core. The moment he speaks, she knows he's right. She's been a fool.

    She hasn't accepted her blade.

    For once, the demigod does not even try to get up.

Sky Lynx (130) has posed:
Sky Lynx's Avian mode swings back around, folding in its clawed feet as the Lynx collapses back down and the Dino-bird mode reassembles itself - that familiar Transforming sound ringing out.

Lynx puts a claw to his visor, feigning shading his optics as he watches Ferham fly out of sight.

He plants his claws back on the ground with a *whump*, glancing around at the other assembled Confederates. Everyone seems to be well accounted for at the moment. He glances back at the direction he sent Ferha flying: Lethal force is rarely something that Sky Lynx will resort to, even when faced with a Decepticon. To use such power on a non-cybertronian seems incredibly inappropriate to him.

Honor and duty tell him that he must go track her down and make certain she is all right. He lifts up into the air and blasts off, after her, hoping he won't regret such an act of nobility.

Ariah (56) has posed:
     Were there anyone or anything observing the clash between Ainsley and Ariah, it would look like the age-old conflict of good vs evil. Of darkness vs light. Of red vs blue. But it seems backwards. For that dark mana and crimson glow on the Union sorceress, the Confederate witch's bone runes light up bright blue-white. Her arms shine with the symbols etched deep in them, her own aura fighting as they're locked in a loop of power and sustenance being drawn.

     Her hand clenches tighter at that shoulder as if threatening to rip the arm from its socket so she can just beat Ainsley to death with it, but as what she's reclaiming is constantly cycled back, she has to focus on that instead. The request to stop chewing is unheeded, the bite digging deeper as she tries to increase the flow of blood coming to her. Nothing drives the vampiress nearer to that fire-engulfed bloodlust than having her food removed from her body when she wants it. -Needs it-.

     If it's mana Ainsley wants, it's mana Ainsley gets. She withdraws just slightly then renews the bite, chomping down hard before she forces her energy into the lizard. What could cause euphoria and ecstasy instead brings forth a different kind of heat, boiling in blood and magic as she tries a different tactic to give the 'fellow' mage just what she's trying to drain from her. With a little extra fire.

Mizuki (183) has posed:
    Medusa has her own momentum cannon, it seems, and it most certainly does not spare Mizuki its horrors. Medusa launches herself toward the girl with blinding quickness that she tries to counter with a raising of her sword. The snake witch effortlessly counters it with her kick, sending it flying into the ground beside the feuding pair. Mizuki's body spins in the sky, sending her hurtling on to her back where she remains for a number of minutes as her radio skids across the sediment. And then she begins to laugh. A maddening, chiding sort of laugh that somehow, in all its crude simplicity, might manage to be far more irritating than her earlier rant.

    But perhaps not as inflammatory as those that follow.

    When Mizuki has spoken her last, the blade blinks away from its place in the ground, and back into the girl's hands. A monochromatic bubble opens around the girl and closes itself, causing electric, chaotic energies to waft off of her flesh. Invigorated by her earlier orating, she sees no reason to stop now. "Some tragedy is necessary in a narrative. Adversity is a catalyst for growth." She raises her sword, gingerly brushing a bang out of her eye. "But this D has already suffered enough from the likes of deluded fools who misperceive their fonts of organs and hatred as 'artwork'." She opens her mouth to speak again.

And doesn't.

    Receiving a sort of second wind spurred on by her own incessant rambling, she hops through time once more. On account of her lack of energy, however, her traipse is fractured; Medusa would see her appear in several different places as she approaches her. Still, she tries to save her best for last; stopping abruptly at her side rather then behind her, Mizuki holds up her hand, conjuring a static sphere. "If you will pardon the cliche," She tilts her head, eliciting a swish of her still immaculate hair, "what do you do when a snake refuses to cease its whisperings of lies?" Her eyes narrow, and she disappears again. This time, she's right in front of her.

    "You cut off her tongue."

    She tosses the growing ball straight toward her. Should it hit its mark, it would latch on to Medusa's face, sinking into her skin and dramatically slowing its movement. This would distort her perception on account of the disparity between temporal flow between her eyes, ears, and appendages. But it does something worse: it stays her tongue. Literally. The stasis field congeals and locks itself around her mandibles and her tongue, intending to prevent her from speaking. And by extension? From casting. Not wasting a moment of any advantage she might have gained, Mizuki takes her sword in her hands, lifts hovers off of the ground with her wings, and charges straight for her.

    Just how much surprise she has to play on will be key here - she could just as easily sink her blade into her torso as she could spell her own doom, depending on how the witch responds.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley is broken from the loop after another bite, feeling a surging of mana in her body as she's burned on the inside. She releases Ariah and leaps away, and staggers up against a tree as her body nearly loses all sensation. She reaches up to do a patchwork job stopping the bleeding from the bite wounds, then leers blearily at Ariah for a few moments as if entirely too unhappy with what just happened, but too weak to do anything about it just yet.

    It doesn't look like she's going down, though. If Ariah wants to move, she's probably still going to have to deal with Ainsley who, despite being bloody, bruised and in severe pain, doesn't seem to want to give up this fight just yet.

    "Go ahead," she murmurs, in a raspy voice, "Make my day."

Medusa Gorgon (22) has posed:
    With Mizuki flying back, Medusa lands in a three point stance. This is taking too long, even as she advances towards the clearing and towards where she kicked the other witch. Who seems to be preparing for something, considering the electric and chaotic thing she has got going on. "You talk too much," Medusa merely comments. Then she kicks off.

    Her course is clear. A nearby Vector Plate, just feet away. Just as she's about to unleash some Vector Arrows on Mizuki, it seems she has teleported again. When she notices her to her side Medusa kicks backwards, pointing her arms towards her opponent. "Vector Arrow!" The black snakes shoot out, though a moment too late as the witch is now closer, causing Medusa's eyes to widen in surprise. Even more when the growing ball is tossed at her and hits her square in the face, causing her to stagger back as the Vector Arrows crackle and fade like ash on the wind.

    Rather than hurting however, it's a rather strange feeling. As if she's underwater, her vision blurring, the sounds are bleeding into one another. And her mouth...! It refuses to move, to let her cry out in surprise to match that look of shock on her face. Furthermore, she can't speak. Rage burns in those amber eyes as they set on Mizuki, an accusing glare and the unspoken question that should be pretty easy to interpret.

    Even as Mizuki strikes out at her, the snake witch isn't slow to react as best as she can. Her arms move up, and the black tattoos come to life as her two familiars are unleashed, growing in size as two large, stylized snakes open their maws as they seek to wrap themselves around Mizuki, bite into her... everything to delay her as Medusa rushes to the nearest Vector Plate, rushing towards the clearing! Hopefully whatever Mizuki did to her won't keep her from interfering with the Union!

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
    The cloud of butterflies, and the hand that had sprung from them, was cut through like so much chaff, a pile of butterflies simply bisected or sent spiralling away, the cloud dispersing or fading out of existance. If her kinetic wave isn't effective, the Yuuki Butterflies can't really do much else! So Kagenashi-3's path is quite clear towards Homura! Oh no!

    "You're more than I see. You're what I know." Yuuki offers, before raising up a hand, pointing at him, even has he draws up short of doing something rude. Like... Bisectng her. She is quietly thankful that he didn't just cut her down.

    "We know each other, because of what we are. You know what I feel, and I've seen inside of you. The pain. The man you think you are - what you feel. And I know what that's like. I can sympathize, but that doesn't give you an excuse. Your sword - that blade of yours - is the lie you can't understand!" She calls, her finger pointing imperiously.

    Then she gets run through, just getting her chest cleanly stabbed through, D's dark sword slicing right through bones and insides, piercing her through. She chokes ones, coughing,before placing her arms around D in as tight a hug as she can.

    "I'm so sorry this happened to you. But you've not earned anything. You've been consumed, controlled by that other part of you, and it's not truly you - it's not all of you. You drank my blood, and so now you must feel it." She breathes, squeezing D as hard as she can with her hugging arms.

    Her voice is a clear order, that rings with a palpable supernatural force. "D! Return to what you were! Remember yourself. Your /whole/ self!" She cries, unfortunately not able to do more because she's kind of got a bad case of sword-through-the-chest.

Zero Kiryu has posed:
    Yuuki interposes herself between Zero and his prey. It's an unwanted intrusion, and a hinderance. A deliberate one, no less. A surge of anger wells up from within him, but it isn't an impulse that has an opportunity to bear fruit. Violet eyes become luminous with a predatory red light, and something else shifts at his back. It's not the flowers they stand in. It's not even Bloody Rose. A long, long shadow vastly disproportionate to the size of Zero and his whole mass of vines trails away from the vampire hunter. It is a grotesque, beastly thing that cannot possibly exist in this physical space, and the fact of the matter is that it does not.

    The metallic vines seem to withdraw around Yuuki, as if repelled by her. There is no need to defend from D's attack, because all aggression is shunted into his charge. She does not need his help to defend against such an attack, no matter how much it might hurt her to meet it. There is a rustling, low-pitched whine as the vines weave themselves together. At first it appears as if their mass is simply building as is normal, while there is a lull in the fight.

    It is an easy mistake to make.

    The great shadow is being filled out. The glimpses of a monster from the belly of some deep wood consigned to the dead superstitions of tiny villages slowly becomes more real. The shape of its great head could be described as somewhere between draconic and wolflike. Its maw is vast, more than enough to swallow a man whole without having a need to chew at all. Each enormous fang is bigger than most of a man's body, and each curved claw is no smaller.

    It has no eyes. They are gaping voids that look without seeing.

    But they look at D.

    Yuuki speaks, and when Yuuki speaks Zero exploits it ruthlessly. He shifts the positioning of Bloody Rose in his hand, and the great monster responds as if an invisible signal were given. A vicious, metallic bark shakes the ground like the eruption of a volcano, and it bypasses Yuuki entirely by simply being enormous enough to step OVER her. Metal screeches and the rustle of plant matter punctuate every tiny movement as its structure grinds against itself within and without.

    It bothers aiming insofar as it snaps only at D's upper quarter or so, where Yuuki is too short to be reaching significantly. If it were not being careful of this it could snap both D and Yuuki up in one go.

Mizuki (183) has posed:
    "Inordinate verbosity comes with the territory, I'm afraid," She winces, clenching a shoulder with the opposite hand as the stasis field begins to take its toll. That garners a renewed grin. "And it seems my audience will finally be cast into a dutiful silence for the remainder of my reading." Or so she dearly hopes as she makes another attempt at a lunge.

    Well, her thoughts here were correct at least: it would seem Medusa does not have access to her primary avenues of attack. Unfortunately, she has more where that came from. Tattoos slide off of her arms and literally wind their way to Mizuki's feet, snaring her and - much to her chagrin - squeezing the breath out of her. Even if what she has is only a metaphor for oxygen in theory, it is functionally very much the same; that's to say, she has no way of continuing her 'sermon' until she extricates herself.

    So with all of the fury and energy that she has left, she fights to do so. The familiars have every opportunity to sink their teeth into her shoulder blades, her arms, and even her neck, causing more and more of those teal flakes to appear. These lack the glimmer and vibrance of the first glittery storms, however; they are noticeably dimmer, and to any who would garner the meaning of that, quite distressingly so. But she refuses to be a prisoner of such inane conjurations! As one would when fighting finger trap, Mizuki stops resisting; she goes limp in their hellish embrace just long enough for her wings to disappear.

    And to reappear in a conflagration of showering feathers that, with the force afforded them by mysticism, threaten to break the bonds of the new snakes. If she is able to free herself, she would proceed to give each of them a quick slash apiece, but she does not worry over them for too long -- she launches off of the ground again and continues toward Medusa, but it's unlikely that she would have the time to reach her before she makes it to the clearing. And if she doesn't?

    Well. Relevant authorities permitting, she just might have to follow her through.

    On Medusa's end of things, she may notice that there are brief periods when her magically-induced lockjaw cedes; it is fighting to stay active, but she would easily be able to tell that it is gradually weakening, though likely not to a point that would allow for full conversation just yet.

Ariah (56) has posed:
     Ariah feels the girl wrenching away from her, teeth withdrawing as not to damage her fangs, much as she'd want to rip a piece of her throat out. But Ainsley pulling back helps her get up quicker, her hand on her shoulder sliding free only as she's jerked upwards. The witch's head swims, sensations of being fed and yet being hungry conflicting, the surge of blood and mana she'd poured back into Ainsley leaving her wanting.

     The wounded sorceress is stared at, blood painting the white witch's lips and chin. The glow of energy under her arms still flickers, pulsing weakly. Then she stalks towards the tree and the lizard propping herself against it, feeling and looking a little uncentered from the mixture of energies and the lack of her staff as a centering focus.

     Then with a combination of growl and hiss, she stares her 'partner' down, "I would try to end your life but for two reasons. The first being that you are merely doing your job for your friends and allies, the second being that your infernal inquisitor of a mate would chase me to the ends of the Multiverse until my ashes are scattered across every inch of it."

     Then she swings her blade, intent on disarming Ainsley and taking up the woman's longsword. Should she succeed, her goal is a simple one. To take it and run her, as well as the tree, straight through enough to keep her pinned to it. And out of her hair.

D (232) has posed:
    Something flickers to the right of D's vision. Steel captures the pink sunlight in winking reflections. A trio of knives whistles toward him from -- where? In his clash against Setsuko, D had all but forgotten Kimiko Shinobu, trusting Kagenashi to handle what threat she represented. Those throwing knives remind him she is not a force to go ignored no matter what else she is doing.

    Two of the knives embed themselves in D's outstretched forearm; the third misses him, but only just. Pain lances up his arm, and the impacts throw off his aim. He had aimed for Yuuki Kuran's heart. Instead, his sword pierces her torso but misses the target. A clean hit wouldn't have killed her, anyway, but it surely would have hurt more than what she got. It might have stopped her from reaching out to him, from embracing him. It might have stopped her from speaking to him.

    Setsuko lies in the field, silenced by defeat. Kagenashi is nearing exhaustion. Kimiko stands, but she is wearing down, too. Homura can be of no help to anyone now, not while she's taxed by maintaining the dimensional field. Outside, Ferham has been beaten down, and Sky Lynx, too. Those who are capable of continuing this battle have shrunk to a mere handful. Of those, Zero looms over D embraced in the tangled and malicious monstrosity formed from his own weapon, preparing to strike -- and D cannot move.

    It's more than Yuuki's arms paralyzing him. The blood he had taken from her days ago -- it's still in his veins, giving him strength. Through it, he suffers the full weight of her pureblood Command, and more, he feels a forceful truth crushing the darkness binding him heart and soul to his cursed blade. D stands inside Yuuki Kuran's embrace with his eyes gone wide and dark. There is nothing Noble to him, nothing empowered, nothing severe and consumed by hunger. For the duration of that peaceful lull into which Bloody Rose grinds out its horrible warning, D is nothing but his melancholy self. Centuries of lonely despair are laid bare, and he murmurs Yuuki's name in sad confusion.

    Cracks have been pounded into his armor, but he is not shattered yet. As Zero's malevolent loathing takes horrendous shape, D's eyes regain their clarity. His expression blanks out to a solid stony mask. Wrath blisters around him in the form of deepening shadows, and the terrible chill returns to the air, so cold it could freeze what sparse breath escapes his gritted teeth. Scarlet light washes his countenance.

    There is no doubt whose lineage he boasts, and like the vampire who fathered him, there is no allowance in his heart for compassion whenever such a frailty would stand between him and his objectives.

    Let the wolf's maw come for him. D's eyes narrow, and a cold smile breaches his lips.

    Yuuki Kuran becomes the sacrifice whose death will enable D to survive. He throws the girl into the blistering shadows between the beast's parted fangs, and laughs.

    What remains to attack him scrapes down his chest, tearing a gory furrow from his neck to his belly. He is thrown back by the impact, his smile gone, his agony absolute, but his sword remains in his hand even after he goes bouncing among the flowers. Stunned, he remains on hand and knee, forced to spend time gathering himself and his senses.

Setsuko Kaminagi (255) has posed:
    "I've been a fool," Setsuko breathes quietly. Her fingers curl in the dirt, planting. She pushes herself up to her feet, slowly and with great effort. "All this time... I've been carrying this blade as if it belonged to someone else. As if I was simply holding onto it. But no... no, I should have given myself to it from the start. Given everything to it, and taken everything it has to give. The sword and swordswoman are one. 'Kenkon Itteki'." Soul and sword, in one strike.

    Setsuko's hands tighten around the grip. She can barely stand, but she raises the blade anyway, her aura beginning to billow and flow, divinity rising. "I'll correct that mistake here and now, and take this blade as my own from this day forward! Once it belonged to a god of war, but he is dead, and it is MINE! I will make this sword my own, and I will use it to SHATTER the weapon that has tainted your soul, D! And it all begins with a name. One that befits the weapon helid by the Daughter of the Slash, Who Shall Mow Down The Gods Themselves! Inherit my soul, blade of the forgotten... no..."

BGM: http://youtu.be/UM7RrKdjNIY

    The silver-haired woman shifts the blade over her head, and her aura floods upward, flowing into the sword - not around it, but INTO it.


    There is a brief, blindingly bright flare of divinity. Even those outside the barrier can feel it, and it obscures Setsuko from sight. The flare lasts but a moment, and when it fades, she stands there as she was, hair fluttering in the last vestiges of a breeze. Utterly still, eyes upward, on the weapon in her hand. The bright nimbus of blue around her has disappeared entirely. No light flows around her form. And yet, somehow, she simmers with danger, her intangible 'greatness' far stronger than it's ever been.

    For a moment, her eyes glow the blue of a clear sky. "Now I understand."

    She whips her sword down and around, holding the blade behind her. And... it expands. The hilt widens, the grip lengthens. A blade forms itself in a crackle of blue, a broad, flat double-edged sword twice as long as she is tall. It's thoroughly ridiculous. It's completely insane as a weapon.

    She hefts it as if it weighed next to nothing, whirls it about herself, and charges in.

    An instant after his brutal assault by Zero's bestial attack, D's world fills with slashes. Battering, striking, an impossible-to-escape torrent of attacks with a weapon big enough to cut a small jet in half. Her strength and speed have doubled, her attacks impossibly precise. Though not one hint of divine aura shows itself, she is now more a demigod of war than she has ever been.

Ainsley (151) has posed:
    Ainsley stares at Ariah, the strange and alien thing she had just done finally hitting her. She fully realizes what she is and what it means to walk a tightrope like this, that she may stumble and fall onto the wrong side, and never find release after that. The lizard girl stares with a dawning contempt, because she knows all too well that creatures that prey on those like her, while not always so, are often unnatural and evil. Things that Faruja is right to spit anger at but for the wasted effort it is to do so.

    But this realization is just a slow motion play in her head as the other drunken creature comes toward her, and deftly disarms her of her weapon. She doesn't seem able to resist, before she's run through and the blade has her pinned to the tree. Her sword tastes her own blood today, but it's not going to kill her. She's going to learn tonight that she is much more durable than she once was.

    For now, she only smiles at Ariah, and tells her, "You are too late," before passing out, smiling in that smug way. Because she felt Setsuko's awakening, as if Setsuko herself had reached through the barrier and patted her on the head for doing a good job. After that... Ainsley passes out, her smile fading minutes after her consciousness goes.

Kimiko Shinobu (570) has posed:
    That was probably the most Kimiko could do to interfere with D--another opportunity just isn't going to present itself quickly with a giant fox monster doing its best to bring her down. She looks toward Setsuko, then--injured, and not getting up. She worries. The pain is dull, but the worry is sharp. She thinks, furiously.

    But it's okay. She knows that Setsuko isn't out yet. If she says she'll fix her mistake...

    There wasn't time to dodge, focusing on making that last attack count, and Kimiko is not the most agile of opponents in general. Kagenashi catches her arm and the girl loses her footing. She slips, sabatons gouging the earth, and twists onto her back. She's pinned, but she intends to make it painful.

    Spikes erupt from her armor straight into the inside of the fox's mouth. Rather than trying to get her to release, Kimiko's other hand slams down with a fist onto the beast's head. She spares little attention to getting her feet back under her, and more to savagely beating her opponent's face into metal spikes, no matter how she is attacked in the interim. But get up she does, only then trying to rip free--with as much ripping as possible, but still with her left hand trying to keep the enemy from dodging away. Finally, she speaks aloud.

    "Stay... off!" She punctuates each word with a swiftly summoned, swiftly stabbed dagger into whatever she can reach, leaving it stuck in to its cross hilt if Kagenashi doesn't evade.

Medusa Gorgon (22) has posed:
    The snakes are ferocious indeed, carrying out the will of their twisted mistress as they coil and entwine around Mizuki. Once they have a solid grip on her with their teeth, they will not let go willingly. But even as they tighten their grip, they also make it even more effective when the witch dismisses her wings... only to bring them back in a force that cannot be denied.

    The two snakes are thrown away, crashing into the nearby trees and momentarily stunned. But just like Mizuki, they eventually continue the pursuit, forced to follow and unable to do anything else without Medusa nearby to order them.

    Thrown forward by the last Vector Plate she managed to place before that damn busy body took away her ability to speak, Medusa is forced to run, and she's glad she's still able to run somewhat. It hurts of course, with the bullet injuries from before. But she is nothing but determined, heading on and eventually reaching the edge of the clearing, one hand clutching at her throat as she tests her jaw again. It feels better, but no... she can't speak yet. So what is she supposed to do with the strange symbol...? There is little time to consider it however. Now when Mizuki is hot on her trail.

    Even as Medusa rushes towards the spider lily insignia in the middle of the clearing, she turns sideways just as her two snake familiars come flying out from the trees, encircling Medusa's waiting arms as she raises them. Yet they do not sink into her skin again, they are ready and waiting, and so is Medusa, even as she glances towards the spider lily. This must be it... but what now? She doubts her familiars can do something about it...

    Indeed, her annoyance should be very much clear to anybody looking at her face right now. She is even unable to communicate with her fellow Confederates!

Zero Kiryu has posed:
    Zero Kiriyu is forced to stay his hand, in a reversal of action that he really should have seen coming. The last time they fought it was he who struck through Yuuki to deal a terrible blow to D. Now, he's forced to temper his own actions to avoid shredding his charge. The beast bites down only the once, and half-heartedly at that. Because of this, D is able to get away without suffering the kind of viciously fatal injuries that such a beast could actually inflict. Yuuki, however, is left to suffer from what even a light bite will do to her. It probably won't kill, unless it strikes something especially vital. But the possibility that it might causes Zero's heart to skip a beat.

    "Bloody Rose..." He addresses the weapon. The great beast lowers its head and slowly dissolves into an indistinct mass of vines. This will permit Yuuki a safe exit, though whatever means possible. Except for a single vine that coils around one of her arms and latches onto a vein. It does not suck her blood.

    "Give her some of mine." He commands the vines, effectively using it as an IV to transfer blood from himself to Yuuki. Assuming she doesn't freak out and try to stop it, anyway. A possibility.

    A hateful gaze is turned on D, but... Setsuko is up again. He can hardly see what's happening through the storm of blades that she raises against D.

Homura Akemi (2) has posed:
    That much power, and yet her aura has calmed.
    Homura frowns, from the safety of the sidelines. There's a sharp pain in her right arm, as Setsuko's power increases, and Zero unleashes one of his larger trumps. This much power inside of her, she's too new at the Barrier thing to really contain it much longer.

    As she looks upon her hand, she notices it is skeletal, stripped clean of flesh and muscle; just the bones, held together by god knows what. She's really pushing it a bit too much right now. She reaches into her pocket, retrieving a few black cubes to dampen the corruption.

    The request to clear the radiant sun is met with a sigh; she can't alter the landscape, not consciously, but... closing her eyes, she calls upon more Familiars. Birds and ravens appear, their flocks darkening the pink skies, even as the sun dims a tiny little bit. They look stuffed, like broken toys, some of them torn open already, others looking poorly repaired, with sewing needles and pins still stuck in them. She hopes this suffices for Setsuko.

    Her attention fades from the battlefield, as she suddenly glances in the corner of her eyes. She sees Medusa, outside the Barrier. She would rather not let her inside at all. Well, this is going to suck.


    The red spider lily mark on the ground shimmers, and it opens like a portal. It seems activating it wouldn't have been too hard, from the way it does. Homura emerges from it, the upper half of her body only. She's got an assault rifle in her hands, with her right one skeletal, though the rest of the arm is up in her sleeve, so it's hard to tell how high that effect spreads.

    "Please leave."

    She opens fire, the bullets streaking purple light behind them. They're time-accelerated, more or less a literal application of the haste spell on the gun itself.

D (232) has posed:

    A clarion voice gives name to the unnamed, and sounds out the birth of a new deity.

    D is beset by righteous fury. Blow after blow rains down on him, the ludicrously oversized weapon carving past his defenses as if they were made of paper. Choking on the pain imparted to him by Bloody Rose -- the wound never healing for so long as he remains conscious and above ground -- he feels his command over the battlefield run through his fingers like the blood from his many injuries. Unable to set the pace, unable to catch his breath, and unable to escape, D puts his remaining strength into simple survival. Multiple times, his dark blade clashes against and deflects Zanjintou, sending sparks and shocks shuddering into the air, but more than that, he is evading.

    Kagenashi is down. A glance confirms it: he is alone.

    Desperation races through him. The will to live against all odds. D leaps backward in a rush that sees his figure shrinking before the outstretched sword chasing after him, and he lands in a skidding crouch.

    From there, he kicks off the ground and propels himself at Setsuko in a final attempt to pluck something like victory from the jaws of defeat. Killing intent blisters around him as his cloak spreads behind him like leathery wings speeding him on his way. The darkening of the skies is perfectly suited to the darkening of his desires.

    If he does not kill her now...

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    Kagenashi yanks, tugs, twists. Snarling viciously, much more befitting the giant vixen she is now than the serene woman she normally appears to be, she clenches her jaws firmly together to keep Kimiko to the ground. Kagenashi-3 rises, but suddenly looks back at her original body rather than continuing to pursue Homura or Yuuki. Her form shifts into black again, then dissolves into tendrils that slip back toward the great black fox. Three more tails extend from Kagenashi's body as all her duplicates are reunited, returning her full strength to a single body...just as Kimiko strikes back.

    That gauntlet explodes into spikes that stab into Kagenashi's mouth at several points, digging into the roof of her mouth, her tongue, her jaws. Even her star orb is scraped, threatening to be pierced by the bristling spikes. Kagenashi's silver eyes widen as pain shoots through her, and Kimiko quickly makes it worse. She strikes, again and again, slamming her armored fist into Kagenashi's muzzle and deepening the wounds she already created. A keening cry rises from Kagenashi as blue-green flames coalesce around the orb in her tongue and lick around her jaws, consuming Kimiko's arm even as the puella struggles.

    Kagenashi struggles, too, but soon it's clear the armored girl is simply causing too much pain. Daggers stab into the side of her face, her throat, her shoulder, and eventually she's simply forced to open her mouth further and stagger back.

    It /hurts/.

    Blood seeps from Kagenashi's mouth and the wounds stabbed into her body. She whines, keens, shrieks as she limps back and away from Kimiko. Her head is lowered, her tails drooping along the ground, ghostly flames licking from her blood-soaked mouth. It's another step before she moves wrong on her injured leg and crumples onto her side with a sharp cry. She's not /dead/, but...panting, gasping, and coating the red ground in a darker shade of crimson, she's certainly in no state to fight right now. She's just conscious enough to watch the struggle between D and Setsuko from afar, at this point.

Mizuki (183) has posed:
    Through something akin to divine providence, Mizuki finds that Medusa still has not passed through to the barrier by the time she arrives. She rushes out of the trees and lands gingerly a yard away, electing to allow for a brief reprieve rather than charging at her as before. She wraps her arms behind her back in her usual, dignified manner, even though her balance on her left leg is beyond crooked. At this point, the stasis has waned to effecting a mere speech impediment, if that, and at once Mizuki seems to retract what of it that remains. And yet, she continues her approach all the same, though she is deceptively mindful of the snakes at her sides.

    "I wonder if you would indulge a general interest question before we return to our fatefully ordained massacre of one another." She stops, clicking her heels together. "What is it that compelled you to embark on this quest, anyway? Why go through so much suffering for the sake of a man that you hardly know, and at that, one who was once your enemy?" She forms a check with her hand, holding it to her chin. "I wonder if, perhaps, there was something in him that stirred your soul. Something in your 'beloved' that made him stand out from we other 'plebeians'." She smiles again in spite of her obvious agony and unfolds her arms, calling her sword back into her hand. "Or perhaps it is just in the nature of a snake to seek the corruption of every poor soul within their grasp." She outright laughs now, still somehow unphased by Medusa's own fury.

    (Read too many horror stories, this one.)

    Whether through blind hubris or through some impossible to understand tactic, she stays her hand, waiting patiently for a reply from the other witch... and watching. She keeps her weapons at the ready, but this could almost be her way of mocking her.

Medusa Gorgon (22) has posed:
    Now what is this? The serpentine witch turns her attention on the mark as it shimmers and opens, and the she narrows her eyes as she sees Homura rising up from it... with an assault rifle. The order formulated as a polite request earns a snort from Medusa, even as she kicks off, doing her best to avoid the rain of bullets that is unleashed upon her. Without her magic however it's tougher to avoid it... but even as a few of the bullets graze her and draw blood, with a few of them striking flesh and drawing more and making the snake witch /wince/ in pain, she manages to get onto one of the snake familiars as it flies underneath her, lifting her up into the sky as it flies around Homura to avoid the fire.

    That is when Medusa notices the fact that her tongue seems to obey her again, and she draws a deep breath.

    Mizuki's questions... now aren't they curious. Of course Medusa could hold an entire lecture on the subject, but this is hardly the time and place. Besides, why should she prattle on about her personal business? So when she turns her attention towards Mizuki, it's a scornful look that meets her in those amber eyes, slit pupils staring her down.

    "I know him better than any of you do," she drawls. "And my love is not something I throw carelessly around, like pearls before swine."

    Rather than indulge the foolish witch though, Medusa turns her attention back to Homura as she dives in towards her, keeping low on the head of the snake familiar. "Vector Arrow!" A storm of the black arrows fly through the air in a zig zag pattern towards Homura. Now move!

Ariah (56) has posed:
And for the moment, it's silent. Ainsley's passing out leaves the witch in brief quiet. Time to catch her breath, but only barely. She jerks her head side to side, trying to clear it of the haze before she starts stalking towards the clearing again, and now. Her fingers clutch at her sword, sticky with the lizard's blood as well as her own. She's here to see this through, as much as she can, and she starts jogging down the horse-hammered path. She'll recover the other half of her staff and her fallen sidearm later.

     What focus she can draw is pushed into her muscles, supernaturally-augmented speed bringing her closer and closer until she bursts into the clearing, trailing leaves and twigs as she hears Medusa's rasp in stereo. She blinks hard, taking in as much of the scene that she can as her feet carry her further towards that's obviously her goal. The portal with Homura half-emerging from it. Instincts and reactions keep her moving forward with momentum, both hands grasping her blade for strength and stability.

     She needn't announce her presence with a battle cry, her unsteady run hammering her feet into the ground like some drunken sprinter. Ariah focuses half on keeping herself from stumbling and the other half on bringing her sword to strike Homura, to impale her on the rune saber and combine her efforts with Medusa's magic.

Yuuki Kuran (518) has posed:
    Yuuki Kuran smiles, and for a brief moment is happy. She got through. She found D, inside of the monster. He was not dead, merely hidden, subsumed within the monster.

    Thankful for that, she doesn't really mind the striking pain of being flung bodily, off D's sword, and into the waiting jaws of Blood Rosedog.

    She does, unfortunately, mind the light pains that come from the rose-tipped bushes, her body crackling with an electric power as her flesh is cut and burned by the contact with Bloody Rose.

    She screams.

    Then, all of a sudden, she is spat out, by the halfhearted monster, bloodied and bruised and not recovering, panting on the ground on a bed of broken red spider-lilies.

    She just kind of lays there, groaning. "N-next time, Zero? Please, don't... Please don't try to kill who I'm trying to save." She grouses, with a soft smile on her blood-trailing lips.

    Don't worry, she'll be fine. In fact, she looks INCREDIBLY melodramatic, a red-stained coat on red flowers.

    It'd almost be poetic, if it wasn't a huge GUTSY BATTLE going on around her.

Kimiko Shinobu (570) has posed:
    Kimiko's arm hurts. It's more than just an ache; Kagenashi's efforts wrenched it hard. Fixing the joint in the armor is easy; fixing the arm is not. But it's still functional, and Kimiko can deal with pain. It's an advantage of having a body like hers. She just has to accept that she'll be hurt more in the process.

    She was risking her life in the first place. They all were. This is nothing much.

    Setsuko is doing something Kimiko's never seen her do before. It would be fascinating, if it could get through the Puella Magi's battle focus. As is, she merely understands /what/ is happening without thinking of "why" or "how." She understands, as well as anyone can, the motion of her sword. She understands the fight.

    None of the arguing between the two of them matters to her. The extent of one's power or skill, the conviction behind their words, the derision for having needed allies to make it this far--she only half-heard the speech, thanks to Kagenashi, but it doesn't matter to her. To her, Setsuko, alone, is sufficient reason for her to be here. She neither seeks nor asks for understanding in this.

    This is why she says nothing when the spell circle beneath her feet launches her forward, hurtling through the air and, in three more rapid-fire leaps, straight to D. Just as she had at the very beginning of the battle, she holds a sword in one hand and a shield in the other. Unlike that moment, here she is fighting at full-blaze--an apt metaphor for how her kind burn away their souls for necessary power.

Her shield slams forward. Her blade cuts quickly around, to leg and shoulder. Her feet /dance/ as she blurs into the silver flame her magic surrounds her with, harrying and pushing, slashing and thrusting. Every iota of her understanding of Setsuko goes into complementing the demigod's attacks, arranging a bracketing from which she intends D to be entirely unable to escape.

Setsuko Kaminagi (255) has posed:
    Zanjintou whips and whirls like a weapon a quarter its size. Setsuko's arms twist and turn, weaving it around her in huge, sweeping circles, bringing it down towards D again and again. She spins around Kimiko, dancing forward when the Puella moves back, stepping back when Kimiko surges forward. It is a perfect dance of battle. A trade of attacks between demigod, magical girl and dhampir. One, two, three slip past her guard, bite into her shoulder, her side, one even crosses the wound on her left cheek, creating a T. But they are far more shallow than he's been able to manage. And Setsuko's movements are making it that way, in a process that makes things more and more clear by the moment.

    Even like this, she is still not the match of a fully-rested and powerful D. But she is in his league. She can stand toe-to-toe with him. And right now, that is all she needs.

    "My name is Setsuko... KAMINAGI SETSUKO! I am the Sword of the War God! And if I have to reach the very heavens themselves to grasp the power I need to shatter your sword, THEN I'LL DO SO WITHOUT HESITATING!"

    There is one last clash. Setsuko breaks away with a push, hopping back to open just a few meters' gap.

    And then she flies.

    It is no simple leap. It is no shove of strength. It is not one of the high, floating bounds the swordswoman has taken before. She /flies/, pure and simple, hurtling into the sky under the umbrella of Homura's familiars, her sword in a two-handed grip, her eyes only on the 'ceiling' above her. Twin streamers of blue trail from her shoulderblades, traces of the divine power holding her aloft, only to cut out as the demigod of War reaches the very height of her arc.

    She hangs in the sky for a breathless instant.

    And then she descends.

    Down from above, pushing downward as fast as she drove upward. Passing terminal velocity and accelerating still, entering a powerdive that aims her straight at D like a rocket. At the very last possible instant, she turns, shifts, drags Zanjintou around and SWINGS - bringing her weapon down with all her strength, all the force of her dive, and a thundering roar that heralds the name of the attack she unleashes upon the weapon in D's hand. The Shippu Doutou was but a pale shadow of this, the true height of her power.


Homura Akemi (2) has posed:
    Oh fuck there's two of them out here.
    The black arrows impact, shredding through Homura's shirt. It seems her ribs are skeletal too. There's nothing under her clothes but a skeleton. This seems harmful regardless, because she grimaces and cringes even as the arrows pierce through 'nothing'. She can't stand her ground like this. Ariah's coming in-- but Mizuki handles that. Thank god. That would have ruined everything even more.

    "I don't care if it's love. Good bye."

    Homura sinks back into the spider lily. The portal does remain open! ... but there's a fairly sizeable pile of C4 just next to it now. It was definitely not there a second ago. It beeps, loudly, and obviously.

    A moment later, the entire area around the entrance of the Witch Barrier detonates into a fireball. The portal doesn't seem affected-- it's a portal after all, not a physical thing you can blow up. It'll just be there floating over whatever crater is produced.


    Homura suddenly reappears, and immediatly falls to her knees with a horrible, raspy cough. Not yet, damnit. Just a bit longer. A shaky skeletal hand reaches for more of those black cubes, applying them to her Soul Gem. A few inky black spots turn purple again, but not enough to be good news. Most of it's black by now.

    Is she ever happy she told most of the people able to fix her to be on standby, and brought some chips along. It's been a while since she exhausted herself 'for real'.

Mizuki (183) has posed:
    As Homura recedes into the portal and the lash of steel threatens said demiwitch, Mizuki is there again with her sword held in her defense. She does a decent enough job of parrying the blow from Ariah's sword, but the incoming vectors utterly demolish what little of her energy remains. Her dress is in tatters, and the mystical energies emanating from her now hauntingly pale flesh are as dull as the throbbing pains that wrack her imaginary biology. She holds fast for a few moments, panting heavily and staring downward.

    And yet still, the brat manages a final smile. She locks her gaze with Medusa's a moment, but doesn't breathe a word. Instead, she simply disappears again, leaving in her wake the fireworks of the 'grand finale'.

    Seeing as she herself is not genuinely suicidal, she finally allows herself reprieve against the bark of a tree that lies a reasonably safe distance away. There she contents herself with thoughts of her comrades' victory and rests her eyes.

Zero Kiryu has posed:
    "No time to discuss it. I'll agree to the next formal command you give me without argument." Zero says to Yuuki, only half apologetically. The vines by and large withdraw into Bloody Rose. Not entirely. The armoring that it has wrapped around his body is still evident, as is a single vine connecting Yuuki and Zero at the left arm. Given the situation, he would prefer to pursue D wholeheartedly, but he doing so would require that he abandon Yuuki while she has been injured by Bloody Rose. This is not acceptable, and so his mobility is limited now. He hovers over her, silent for a time.

    Zero looks out towards D, locked in combat with Setsuko. It's like looking in a mirror of himself, a year ago. The man is lost in himself, but nobody had the good sense to chain him up while there was still an opportunity to do so. He's got more wits about him than Zero did in the same condition. He was barely a person. Some people might have argued that, even living, the Zero of the time was basically already experiencing the death of the mind.

    He looks down towards Yuuki again, sympathy mixing with loathing. Both of the self, and of D himself. Zero raises the handgun in both hands and aims at D. There is no conventional report of weapons fire. A cross-like bolt of pink energy issues from the barrel of the gun, soaring towards the fallen Hunter. The shot's aimed towards the back of the weapon arm. It couldn't be a fatal shot even if it landed. It's not even a potentially serious wound. But it could rob strength and functionality during a crucial moment of defense.

    Immediately after, Zero adjusts his aim. He spies the base of D's neck down the length of Bloody Rose, and lingers there in silence. He does not fire.

D (232) has posed:
    D scoffs to find a pest like Kimiko Shinobu suddenly in his way, but his contempt is purely for show. As he had against Setsuko, he must marshal the last of his resources in an attempt to protect himself and stay alive. For his might to be so depleted...! He can feel the pointlessness of his self-defense bearing down on him. He can sense the finality mounting. He is turned by Kimiko, forced in any direction but the one which would lead to his freedom. He flings a desperate brace of wooden needles, turns his sword in repeated and increasingly weary parries, uses his cloak to twist away her strikes, but Kimiko's assault is given strength by her dedication to Setsuko, and D cannot withstand the punishment for long. It's then, in the sector of sky he's turned to face, he sees Setsuko silhouetted against the shielded sun.

    Setsuko Kaminagi descends.

    D raises his sword. Behind the dark arc its edge forms, his eyes shine like crimson embers amid a marble mask streaked by blood. He awaits her, and awaits his end.

    He is ready for his torment to be finished.

    His final words are uttered in an awe-struck whisper meant for no one's comfort or hearing but his own. "Transient guests..."

    The air shrieks as another horrific impact looses a thunderous shockwave across the sealed region, scattering dust and flower petals in a sudden breath-stealing burst shot through by dramatic red.

    What power had ripped through his chest at Purgatorio was only a fraction of the storm he faces now. There is no desperation present, and the wrath shimmering from Setsuko like heat waves is not the kind sparked because her life is in immediate danger. What she wields is incomparably pure. Purposeful. Refined. Unfettered strength shivers along the dark steel in his single-handed grasp, and his muscles soon tremble like plucked harp strings. He loses ground. Setsuko forces his extended arm close to his chest in gains measurable first in millimeters, then in centimeters.

    D's lips pull back to reveal his gritted teeth. His jaw tenses, his red eyes narrow, and his nostrils flare around a muffled grunt. Laying his left hand against his weapon near its tip turns his crumbling position into a reinforced bulwark. Though he must surrender a footstep in order to fully brace himself, he thinks nothing of the sacrifice, leans his weight into his toes, and begins to push back using all his might.

    For a heartbeat only, it seems like this will be enough to resist Zanjintou. His muscles regain their rigid state of resistance, and the scraping between the two blades stops. He and Setsuko become locked together in perfect harmony, their competing powers equalized. Though Setsuko's storm has been taken into her blade, it is her pristine lack of visible aura which somehow makes her the perfect counterpoint to the dark storm raging around him. Purity versus corruption. Divinity versus sin.

    A smoldering hint of scarlet blossoms at the very point where the two swords meet. The color spreads, radiating outward throughout D's sword, and the core warms to orange then to white as it grows. Something rumbling and savage boils up from inside D's chest and throat. The sound rises into a fierce shout, and he takes another step forward. At the same moment, a hot fragment is chipped from his sword's edge. It flies back past D's face and opens a shallow cut along his cheekbone.

    At the same moment, a distant shot strikes its mark, and D's sword arm crumples.

    D closes his eyes.

    Without his strength to stand against it, Setsuko's power drives him to the ground, and as the man is smashed, so too is his sword.

    The blade bursts.

D (232) has posed:
    Howling gales erupt from the ravaged remains as the blade is reduced to molten shrapnel and a useless, cracked hilt. Shadows are carried by the horrible winds, and the distant, soul-chilling wail of something ageless and evil meeting its sudden end. The wail soon thins out to an inaudible whisper, but the winds rage on, blasting upward and outward from D in a vortex that twists it way to the strange pink-lit sky, shoving aside all in its path and tearing apart whatever is too weak to survive its passing violence.

    D is held upright by forces outside his control. His body is stiff, his hands grasping at nothing, his eyes looking at nothing. His mouth is open around a cry that goes on for far longer than he has breath, as if his agony defies all expected limitations.

    The winds strip from him what he had become, rendering it into dust.

    When the winds die, D collapses.

Medusa Gorgon (22) has posed:
    It's amusing how these people are probably among the ones who consider her heartless... heh.

    As the Vector Arrows pierce Homura's shirt, it's clear not everything is as it seems. And when Homura sinks back into the portal, Medusa is ready to follow suit. At least until she spots the pile of C4, her pupils constricting in surprise--

    Following the explosion, the snake witch finds herself thrown along the ground, only stopping when she hits a tree and cries out in pain. The additotional pain, that is. Right now, everything aches and hurts, her skin feels sore and raw. Part of it has been partially burnt off, and Medusa's left side could certainly look prettier. How is the woman even awake at this point? It's a struggle to push herself up, though the sounds from the radio do help. Something is wrong... clearly wrong. And as Kagenashi updates her on the status... her face is one of absolute fury. Her nails dig into the ground, and she peers towards the portal from underneath the hood of her jumpsuit. The witch soul increases in ferocity, something that should surely be felt by anybody in the vicinity as the air grows heavy. As Medusa rises to her feet, several of the black arrow snakes pour out from her back, coiling around her.

    They will pay for this.

Homura Akemi (2) has posed:
    The action inside may have ground to a dramatic close, but Homura's at her limit. Having given Setsuko instructions, she breaks her hold over the Barrier. Reality inside shatters like glass, and then fades away, as if obscured by the hot air of a desert, waving back and forth before being replaced by the real world.

    EVERYONE INSIDE, is dumped into the crater left by the pile of explosives. The red spider lily marking disappears. Homura is among those ejected, no longer dressed like a magical girl but wearing a white shirt and black formal pants. Looks like she's straight up unconscious, but at least she doesn't look like she's turning into a skeleton anymore. Her Soul Gem has reverted to ring form, though when Setsuko grabs it, the egg will be dark purple, almost pitch black, spared only by the fact the girl is unconscious.

Ariah (56) has posed:
     It would be her final thrust, Ariah's blade clearing the way for her comrade. Mizuki's last-minute interference and her own imbalance sending her cast aside when her sword is parried. She scowls as she scrambles to get to her feet, looking towards the portal as it has a little companion under it. And the soldier knows a bundle of explosives when she sees one. She digs her blade into the ground, heaving herself towards the forest's edge when it explodes.

     Fire and shrapnel lick at her uniform as she's launched towards the tree line and the overgrown underbrush. Her tumbling crash-landing leaves embers and fire in her wake as she finds herself faring a lot better than she had during her last trip out with D. Patting herself down weakly, she manages to keep from igniting completely, then lays under a cloak of leaves and branches, drained and dizzy, rasping for breath as the mixture of energies very, very slowly start to subside. The surge of the portal closing is vfelt, but it feels more like an echo with her presently-dulled magical senses.

Setsuko Kaminagi (255) has posed:
    In the instant after the cursed blade shatters, Setsuko is still, holding Zanjintou in the followthrough. Howling wind, the wail of darkness shattered, she is utterly still. Only as the gale finally begins to die does she release its oversized battle form, bringing the blade up into a vertical 'salute' position before sliding it into its sheath.

    And with the air of ritual, she declares, "There is nothing my Zanjintou cannot cut!"

    Then she turns and takes a step forward, just in time to catch the falling D, and be left floating in the air over the crater with him over her shoulder. Her eyes find Medusa in a heartbeat, meeting the witch's gaze steadily, without wavering. And then she turns in the air, flying off to one side to follow her senses towards Ainsley. She has two to carry out of here, and she doesn't plan to linger long.

Kimiko Shinobu (570) has posed:
    Kimiko's job was easy, really. She only had to fight to interfere. She fought using her strongest style, against someone that--sans their additional tricks--wasn't armed appropriately to beat her. And she wasn't alone.

    But that kind of reasoning means nothing in a fight at this level. If she had had to fight D the entire time, she really would have been drained to uselessness by this point. It's only because it was short that she could give Setsuko one opening after another, harrying her opponent to the best of her ability.

    When Setsuko flies up, there comes a moment in which she could strike--but at risk to herself, and against the primary purpose of her presence. Instead, she places her trust in her friend. More assistance, then, isn't necessary. The opening was given, to break the blade.

    Kimiko leaps back, out of the way.

    A fortuitous choice, given what happens afterward. She's enough outside the vortex unleashed by the blade to weather it without serious problems, though she's reminded that her condition isn't exactly 100%. She takes that opportunity to get away and, after confirming the mission's success, to look for Homura.

    Arms desummoned, and armor likewise, Kimiko picks up her fellow Puella Magi up to take home in a princess carry.

Kagenashi (85) has posed:
    The sword is broken.

    Kagenashi watches from where she lies, gasping for breath around the blood still seeping from her mouth. When the swirling cascade finally ceases, Kagenashi's silver eyes steadily close, as if taken over by a slow, steady peace.

    The barrier is broken, and Kagenashi is deposited uncomfortably in the clearing once more. The giant, five-tailed black fox slowly rises to her feet, her gait unsteady as blood still freely flows from the wounds covering her body. Munashi pads up beside her, glancing up at the much larger and more intimidating fox who is now coating the grass and flowers in a deep crimson.

    The Union members fly off as Kagenashi takes a few panting moments to ensure that she can still stand, much less walk. Eventually, however, she becomes certain enough of that, and her limping, steady gait carries her out of the forest and into the night-shrouded mountains. Save for her occasional growls of pain and gasps for breath, the nogitsune is silent, heedless of the bloody trail she leaves behind her.

    For whatever reason, her wounds don't really seem to matter much now.

Medusa Gorgon (22) has posed:
    As the barrier shatters and the group are left standing in the crater left behind the explosion, they will no doubt catch sight of the serpentine witch where she stands at the edge, a sinister presence with a dangerous look in her eyes. There are too many of them. The cursed sword is broken. Her main focus is on Setsuko and D himself. The look in her eyes can easily be described as poisonous, and yet... a sinister smirk crosses her lips.

    "I do wonder... will you be able to undo my work completely?"

    Either way she doesn't pursue the Unionites. An order is an order. Payment for their deeds will have to come another day. Still, it's quite the shame. From the nearby bushes the snake familiars rise, pulling themselves together. They are in no state to fight, but they should suffice in helping the other Confederates out if they are unable to do so themselves. Did she lose another broom? Seems so...

    Yet that loss is nothing.

Zero Kiryu has posed:
    Much has transpired today, but one thing that holds true is that Zero Kiriyu is unharmed. Through luck, the actions of others, and strategy he managed to avoid being targeted at all. This wasn't his intent. He'd expected to walk away in terrible shape. Yuuki had even given him blood to power him up a little bit for this mission specifically. Or... well, probably not. But that was the net effect it had. As it is, when they are dumped back out in the real world, he is whole and unharmed. If he had to fight, he would be able to fight for a long, long time.

    Many people need carrying. Zero isn't sure if Yuuki is one of them or not for sure, but unless she indicates otherwise he's going to pick her up one-armed and carry her out. In the other arm, Bloody Rose remains at the ready. The message is clear enough, but he doesn't start anything -new-. He just walks right off.

    They can deal with the details of the clean-up later on, if need be.