223/Le Cirque qui Brule

From Radiant Heart MUSH

Le Cirque qui Brule
Date of Scene: 10 August 2023
Location: Juuban Ward
Synopsis: A witch's labyrinth lurks in Juuban, inviting the unwary to a circus where the shows flametacular ending never stops. Officer Usagi is on the case - and before she knows (or agrees to it) is joined by The Red Princess, Puella Red, Yellow Pearl Voice, and Trager des Blauer Greif. The civilians Madoka and Hinote are drawn into the drama as well, and meanwhile Haruko gets a Witch's Kiss - can all this really be wrapped up in one thirty-minute episode of Radiant Heart Academy?
Cast of Characters: Usagi Tsukino, Runealy Waldia, Hannah Steiner, Hinote Kagari, Madoka Kaname, Amanda Faust, Haruki Hara, Coco Kiumi

Usagi Tsukino has posed:
Even a place as upscale and well-trod as Juuban Ward has tucked away corners, secret spaces, old places half-forgotten. All you have to do is wander the neighborhood for a while, roam away from the buzzing downtown area or take a wrong turn in the suburban area, and you?ll find them. Places that eyes glide past, not because of magic, but apathy - places that would be too much work, take too much money, to restore, blemishes to the neighborhood that aren?t yet dilapidated enough, ugly enough, to spur people to action.

One of those places is an empty lot that had once been a building and then an attempt at a community shrine and then a garden, now gone to seed, the grass overgrown, the few wooden benches still standing only just barely managing it, wood sagging with rot, their paint chipped and scratched and worn away by time and the elements. It's an ugly, empty place, but there's a soccer ball, half buried in grass. A trail of broken grass and plants, where feet have stomped through the area towards the center. Most of all, there's the music, echoing from the empty field.

Not everyone who walks past can hear it, but for those who can, it?s a lively, upbeat tempo, the harmony of traditional instruments, horn and drum and accordion all playing a rousing song, inviting everyone who hears to come in and join the fun. Those who hear it are the ones with potential; the ones depressed or exhausted; the ones gripped by adolescent despair, the heartbreak of confessing love only to be rejected; the ones marked by previous encounters. The music draws them in, makes them look at what everyone else ignores, all to their own peril.

No one else hears of it. No one else but those unlucky few know what lurks in their town. Still, there are ways to find out; those paying attention - those looking out for information - will hear rumors of a circus. Not a proper circus, though. A ghost circus, with tricks like you won't believe.

There are two boys talking about it right now, the sunlight fading, shadows cast by old shops slanting long as they walk through one of those side streets in Juuban, not far from the field that lays fallow.

"It's real," one of them insists, a boy with buzzed hair and a silver earring in his eyebrow. He gesticulates as he walks, hands jerking to emphasize his points. "Look man, I swear I saw that freaky-deaky ghost circus with my own eyes."

"You're full of it Takuya," his friend denies with a laugh. He's a tall boy with broad shoulders, and his voice booms, loud enough for anyone to overhear. "Come on man, a ghost circus? You're scared shitless of clowns, you wouldn't be anywhere near a circus."

Takuya turns red, and punches his friend in the shoulder. "Man, screw you. Not every circus has clowns you know, and like I said, it was a ghost circus, it's not like I went on purpose! One minute I'm walking down that old side street a block from here, throwing rocks at the busted benches in that jank garden, next thing I know it's circus music city, and tigers are crawling out-"

His voice grows distant as the two pass, nearing the corner of the street. The last thing anyone not following the two might hear is a mocking scoff from his unnamed friend.

"Now there were tigers? Give it up, nothing that cool happens in Juuban -"

Anyone who happens to overhear them will be fortunate enough - unfortunate enough - to hear what follows: music on the wind, the familiar, rousing beat of a circus jingle. But after hearing that story, no one's going to go looking for a ghost circus, right? Even if that song tempts, even if it promises joy and excitement, a thrill to shake off the gloom and despair of life.

Runealy Waldia has posed:
Juuban has been very interesting to Rune. While still daunting to someone who is used to measuring populations in 'thousands' rather than 'millions', it is less daunting than most other parts of Tokyo.

And yet its peace is sometimes an illusion. The princess has seen this first hand, though tracking down the scene of her last battle yielded nothing - the barrier had erased all signs of it. With nothing to show for her time, she begins to walk to another part of Juuban Ward.

This brings her in earshot of a distant conversation about clowns and a ghost circus. She only catches a few words, paying it little mind... and this gives way to another distraction - strange music.

"Mm? This sounds not entirely unlike what I might hear back home. Not wholly familiar, but... not at all like anything else I have heard in Tokyo." A remark to herself, then Rune begins walking to follow the circus music. To others, it might be recognizable for what it is. To her, it is completely alien and she wants to find out what it could be.

Hannah Steiner has posed:
Hannah Steiner has never once heard circus music in her life up until now. Tharkad is a bit too upper class for such things, and the closest ones are veiled in wealth and noble veneer to utterly obscure such lowly origins. Here though?

Lyra barks in annoyance. Hannah's head hurts. By the Cradle and the Sankt, what is that irritating set of notes? The young woman and her Not-Quite-A-Dog don't think to duck away and engage a wide area search. Because it's just music. She briefly just starts to walk away and ignore the whole ordeal!

Only to pause. After her last few failures at her job(s)? Noble pettiness rises in her chest, and honestly, she wants to talk to someone about ear-grating music. It can almost be good, if one added maybe a few extra notes, a whole entire symphony, or at least a few of the local music people call 'jazz'!

"Lyra. Come! Let us confront this Sankt Kaiserless heathen about their lack of musicality!" Gruffs one Hannah as Lyra hiss-growfs in assent. As one, they cane-tap-stalk towards the source of such an annoying set of musical notes with a rather rare scowl on their face!

"This beautiful dirtball requires better of you!!!" She grumps to no one as she walks towards an empty lot!

Hinote Kagari has posed:
Hinote Kagari was investigating strange rumors and events now that he knew things. So thusly, he was drawn by the rumors of a 'ghost circus' and decided to investigate. Today's attire is a black suitcoat with a white undershirt, with a red tie and brown slacks into dress shoes.

He isn't kissed by the witch, but he can hear haunted circus music anyways and seems drawn to it as he 'huhs' and places his hands into his pockets, following along to the music as he seeks out it's source in Juuban, today.

"...I wonder." he says. "If.. circuses can be 'haunted'." he says to himself.

"Which means ghosts are real?" he asks to himself. This makes him stop, just for a moment, before he continues on seeking.

Madoka Kaname has posed:
    Madoka has gone on a long walk today. She has a lot to process and think about. Juuban isn't one of her usual haunts, but that's what makes it preferable. There are no memories for her here, or anything to remind her of bad things. It's not like her to withdraw from people, she realizes, but it's hard not to. There aren't that many people who can understand what she's going through, and the ones who can have their own magical powers.

    When she hears the music, she perks up. A couple of kids pass by, talking about a ghost circus. At first she ignores them, but then... with all that's happened recently, she has to think that it's at least possible. An evil circus monster is well within the realm of possibility.

    Madoka glances at the two boys as they pass, and then starts moving towards the source of that music. It crosses her mind that the kind of rumor she used to ignoring is now something she'd consider investigating.

    Though... even if something was there, what could she possibly do about it?

Amanda Faust has posed:
    Just what HAS Amanda been up to since finally fighting her first Witch? Due to the player vanishing into a hole of unexpected ADHD focus, no one knows! Hopefully it won't be too important.

    Going out on patrol for once, feeling optimistic and full of energy at her soul gem being full of color, Amanda checks to see if her soul gem can sense a witch... and is surprised to sense something from... Juuban, of all places?

    Oh man. It just feels. SO GOOD. To be able to run and jump from rooftop to rooftop like this. Amanda remembers moments from a distant childhood, before she got out of shape, of how on the rare days when the weather wasn't too hot or too cold or too humid or too buggy, he loved to try and jump from rock to rock and such. And this is a hundred times better than that ever was! She's grinning as she leaps, getting so into it she overshoots before she remembers to sense the Witch again, and has to turn around.

    Huh, some empty lot. Wait, is that... Hannah?! What's she doing all the way out here? ...Forget that, it's Hannah! What's Amy gonna do, *not* see her?

    She's hopped into an alley to detransform when she remembers, oh right, Hannah is blind. Also she already told Hannah that she was a magical girl. Still...

    It's in a red T-shirt and slacks that Amy runs across the street, waving. "Hannah!" She'll run right up to the tall girl and hug her, affectionately petting Lyra as she grins happily. "What are you doing out here?"

Haruki Hara has posed:
    Summer vacation is a time for mental and emotional recuperation for Haruko Hara. Even putting aside the stress associated with grades, social interactions, worrying about the future, and so on, Haruko has another issue weighing on her mind that she (mistakenly) believes is solely hers. That problem is that Haruko Hara is a fictional person.

    'Her' legal name is Haruki Hara. A male student at Radiant Heart Academy, who has a secret. Whenever Haruki gets the chance, they dress in more traditionally feminine clothes, do their makeup, don a wig, and go out to walk around town, ride the bus, and just... Do things as a girl in neighborhoods where nobody knows who Haruki is. Getting to see a different life, where people treat her differently, is a huge relief from the crushing pressure of feeling like she is constantly underwater. Haruko is the name used during these adventures and, if necessary, she introduces herself as Haruki's twin sister. So far, it has only been necessary once.

    Haruko Hara sits on the train, wearing an old school uniform for a different school that she managed to get from her real big sister's closet. She sits there, having gone with a pinkish-brown wig today, and hugging a pink backpack to her chest. She stares up at the ceiling of the bus, light pouring through the windows at her back as the sun sinks towards the horizon, alone in her train car as far as she knows. And the next one too. Not many people riding back from where she went today at this time.

    It was a nice day.

    But how much longer until she grows too much to keep passing outwardly as a girl? What about when puberty starts changing her more obviously? How will she live day to day when she has to just be... Him. Haruko. It's exhausting to think about, but a problem that is closing in day by day.

    And now she is returning home to an empty apartment, where all she can do is dwell on it further without the distraction of her big sister.

    She just spaces out, not realizing when the train passes her stop. Perhaps intentionally not noticing, just to not have to go back for a little while longer. She can always walk home at the next stop. Maybe she'll even wait until the final destination.

    Maybe Haruko won't go home at all.

    That is her mindset when she finally lurches back into awareness, blinking rapidly, and seeing that the train has stopped. No point in putting it off. Brushing down her skirt after standing, and slipping her arms into her backpack, Haruko Hara steps down to the train platform, and starts walking home. It's a walk that takes her by broken, old, abandoned places. They're places she usually ignores, because they remind her too much of home.

    But tonight... Tonight her path wanders a bit. She passes the two boys on the sidewalk, bows her head in a brief nod of greeting, offers them a quick, pretty smile, and then continues on her way. Circus music, huh? Visiting a circus isn't the same as procrastination. Maybe she can get her mind off of things. There's another pink-haired girl ahead of her. Maybe she can do normal girl things for a little while. Besides, she just doesn't have the energy to make dinner tonight. Really sluggish feeling for some reason. Maybe she'll just get something at the show.

Coco Kiumi has posed:
Coco has been traveling down a desert road somewhere in Juuban Ward. Her otters had reported a number of strange incidents with people around here, though they have been unable to pinpoint an exact location each time, so she had come here to do some exploring herself. There wasn't much going on around here, just a people passing by and deserted lots. 'This demon likes to play hide and seek too, huh?'

This naturally unsettles her, this being the third kind of demon she had met with this hunting style, and the first two having a clear penchant for horror. 'Come on out now, where are you?' she thinks, a bit of frustration after fruitless searching.

As if to answers her call, an eerie music reaches her ears. 'This music...' The sounds propagating through the air carry a clear alluring quality, a magical one that reminds her of Yuri's piano.

'Yes, I think I found my culprit', she thinks, invoking the power of her pearl. "Yellow Pearl Voice!" she shouts, a kaleidoscope of colours replacing her clothes with her idol attire, complete with the appearance of her E-Pitch microphone and the yellow pearl being set in it. The preparations done, she starts following the music's direction. 'I doubt it's actually Yuri, though. This is too cheery for her taste.' That, at least, is something Coco is glad about. Nothing to ruin her day like Yuri's taste in music.

The music leads her to an empty lot, or rather a lot that would normally be empty if she didn't recognise Amy and...Hannah?

'What is she doing here?' she wonders by herself. Coco had seen the fellow student like once beforehand, hosting an animal club party. She has been friendly, but she didn't look like the type to fall for that alluring melody.

'Has she been taken in by the witch? No, she is too calm for that. Is she a magical girl too?' Either way, she isn't going to get questions standing on the perimeter, so in she goes. "Hello, Amy!" she smiles, waving at her friend. The red Puella Magi knows her identity, so Coco doesn't have to worry about the veil with regards to Amy. "Is this a friend of yours?"

Usagi Tsukino has posed:
As those drawn in - by music, rumor, or the sense that something wrong is afoot - walk the empty streets, the sky above grows gradually darker as the sun sets. Haruko, who has found herself drawn to the music, captured by it's power, may find herself practically stumbling over herself to get closer, captivated by the abrupt need for joy, for entertainment, and the conviction that the origin of this music will take away the emptiness of her life. Hinote, Runealy, Hannah and Madoka, chasing rumor and unaffected for the moment - perhaps never to be affected - will find that the music is perhaps entertaining, but not particularly enticing. It's just music, though, given the ghost story, the fact that the rhythm never breaks, never stops, a perfect unceasing repetition may make one suspicious - or in the case of Hannah, irritated that whoever is playing this music clearly has a ten hour YouTube video going over their speaker. Amanda Faust, newly arrived, will hear the music - and maybe realize there's a connection to the Witch she sensed, as will Yellow Pearl Voice, the only other person here to have intentionally come seeking danger.

What everyone, regardless of reason for being here will notice, is the yellow caution tape strung up at the far end of the street they're now standing on. They'll notice the empty lot too, in the middle of that street and pretty ugly, all overgrown garden and dilapidated benches, but really, it's the caution tape, and the young... officer(?) putting up more, currently working to block off the end of the street nearest them, that everyone will probably pay attention to.

She's short, this officer, and wearing a uniform that looks brand new and shiny, the pale blue of her collared shirt peeking out under the darker blue of her vest, a belt with pouches for objects on her waist. The cap on her head hides the top of her head, of course, but her surprisingly blond hair is still visible, pulled back into a short ponytail. This is the power of the Disguise Pen - a magical tool that's transformed Usagi Tsukino into a mostly unremarkable young police officer; only those who know Usagi Tsukino and Sailor Moon are one and the same will see through her disguise. When she sees the approaching group, she calls out in a scolding tone, "Hey! You all need to turn around, this place is off limits."

The sound of music echoes through the air, no visible source in sight.

The officer is frowning at all of them. Of course she is; the last thing she needs is people getting into more trouble, while she's trying to resolve the trouble! Usagi's not entirely sure where the source of the music is - this field, obviously, but there's no music playing, and no monster lying in wait. She's got to investigate, but how could she do that if people were constantly walking over, investigating?

Thus the disguise, and the caution tape. A quick request - Make Me A Police Officer With Caution Tape! - and here she is, perfectly equipped to keep back the law abiding public.

What she's going to do if someone doesn't respect the authority of a lone officer? Don't worry about it. Usagi hadn't thought that far. She also hadn't thought about other magical girls appearing, but well, that's Yellow Pearl Voice alright! She'll just have to hope she insists on staying, while all the rest of these people wander off, obedient to a police officer.

Haruko, captivated by the music as she is, will be the only one able to see a poster on the nearst of those dilapidated benches. It's got a border of striped red and white around a deep red center, with white block text that reads, Come See My Circus! Come to Le Cirque qui Brule!. Another poster features an arrow pointing to the back of the lot.

Runealy Waldia has posed:
Rune approaches the empty lot as others do, raising an eye as she notices Hannah and Lyra. She starts to say something to the pair, but gets all of a syllable in before spotting Hinote in the distance. They have only spoken briefly, but seeing him immediately causes memories of their meeting to rush through her mind and she starts to offer a slight handwave in his direction.

Then she sees Madoka, and Rune is torn on whether to approach her or Hinote first to seek advice. This indecision gives her time to realize something aloud: "This composition is... slightly unusual. I am no musician, yet it flows in a way I have heard in no other music. Is this normal for E..." A verbal slip, and she corrects it to: "...Tokyo's composers?"

Then Usagi protests their presence, and Rune tilts her head with an eyebrow raised in confusion. "You are one of the town guard, I presume?" She uses archaic terminology, 'town guard' rather than 'police officer'. The alien princess simply walks right up to her, ignoring police authority. Rune speaks in a soft, polite tone. "I might be of some assistance. What is amiss?"

Hannah Steiner has posed:
Lyra is a good guide lizard. The semi-sentient Razorhound native to Hannah's homeworld is protector, partner, and basically 'Callout Leader' between herself and Blauer Greif that lets Hannah so effectively magical girl and Belkan Knight so strongly. The fact that Hannah is suddenly finding mass familiar and then a voice /very/ familiar land into her in Hug form without notice has her melting into Amy's arm without worry. Automatic squeeeze of her dear Angel!

She also gives out a 'Was???' of confusion, before her ears catch up to her brain!

She laughs, despite herself.

"Mein Engel!!! Acht! Und I should ask the same, except...by the Sankt's dirty socks, what /IS/ that verflucht noise!!! You hear this....this horrid cacophony as well, yes!?" It's circus music to her. Just that, she's not a Puella! And yet she's unknowingly tipping her hand here!

She grips both of Amy's wrists if allowed, then spins her in a dance in place if allowed! Until another /note/ strikes her ear, and she wobbles in places and taps golden griffin head of BG to her poor ear.

Lyra is barking. The animal part of her brain able to detect Wrongness, but she's blasting that bark everywhere except where it's from. The downside of being a creature of half-intelligence!

And then another familiar voice. It takes a bit, but she finally recognizes the voice of Yellow Pearl Voice. Hannah's mouth suddenly goes dry. She swallows once, twice, thrice. The Steiner heir does not like the implications of a vaguely known magical girl being here, ready for battle in her henshin. Sure, maybe YPV, is just out youma hunting. She inwardly prays that's just the case.

Also knowing Amy's a mahou of some flavor doesn't ease up her own desire to try to retain some veneer of secrecy, even if her Name is more precious than her being a Magical Girl.

The fact she respects the heck out of YPV only makes her anxiety worse. If Amy is gripping around there, despite her Tharkad Royalty Government Issue Poker Face of a Smile, her neck is /sweating/!

"Such a pointed question mein new freund! Fit to make me blush! frau Amy is a blessed companion indeed!" Smile. Smiiiiile! Just thousand-gigawat-grin at YPV as though she has never heard that voice ever, at all!

Then an Officer is telling them to turn back. Hannah doesn't balk at that. In fact, that authority in Officer Usa's voice has her...relaxing? That's not a normal response to authority. She's also grinning. Suddenly, Hannah grips her cane, folds it at her waist, and clacks one heel to the other in a formal bow towards Officer Mun. Vaguely western style, if such an old school Noble thing can be tracked to Earth customs.

The disguise pen perhaps works too well.

"Mein deepest apologies upon you, oh faithful shield of the populace! Und yet I must ask. What danger lurks past your lines? As a well-meaning civilian, I should be happy to spread the word!" She suddenly frowns.

"Acht...Shall I summon the local emergency services number, mein freund of the valiant watch!?" Comes Hannah suddenly, even as Rune's soft, vaguely archaic words increase her own alarm!

She grips her Device firmly!

"That they have not already arrived upon the scene is a disgrace upon their Honor! Alone? With aught but we few civilians about!? Und such /ear gratingly graceless/ music to boot! By mein own Honor I shall happily make a citizen's arrest should it ease your troubles, dear Officer!" Comes Hannah dramatically, overdoing everything all at once!

Hinote Kagari has posed:
Hintoe Kagari sees Runealy, and this makes his expression soften a bit. He approaches and gives a wave. "Hey there, Rune." he says. "I've been looking around for you! But, Do you hear that music too?" he asks as he approaches. "It's creepy." he says.

He comes along the caution tape and the officer as he tries to place the officer among his mother's fellow officer co-workers. Nope. No one he knows.

That doesn't mean anything though. He's still a little suspicious. There isn't a good reason to disobey an apparent police officer at the moment, however as he looks beyond the tape and keeps his hands where they are.

"Officer." he says. "Why is this lot cordoned off?" he asks curiously. "I don't.. see anything." he says.

Madoka Kaname has posed:
    Madoka looks up, and around, and starts to recognize some of the gathering magicals. Yellow Pearl Voice she remembers from the other day. Hannah is someone she can't help but remember, considering how friendly she is, but she doesn't recognize her as 'magical'. Does she live around here? She hasn't quite caught on to the fact that Haruko is walking behind her. Madoka's pink eyes are focused ahead.

    When she sees the police officer, and hears the objection, her first response is a sheepish smile. Well, it's mostly a smile. Her eyes have a slight of 'wtf is going on' edge to them. The very presence of the police and the tape indicates that something, in fact, has happened here. While she's thinking about how to respond, she notices Runealy walking up to the officer and... calling her a 'town guard'. She clears her throat, and walks up to stand beside the alien princess. "A-ah, um, don't mind her. She's from... not around here."

    Madoka can't actually bring herself to say that Rune is from Europe, because even though that's the official story, it's not one that Madoka fully believes. Hopefully this is enough to explain the odd speaking pattern.

    Hannah starts asking the questions that Madoka wanted to, so at first the pink girl remains quiet, but then as Hannah goes on about EMS honor she starts getting more quietly awkward, maybe even mortified. "I... I'm sure they're trying their best!" she says defensively.

Haruki Hara has posed:
    Caution tape? A police officer? Haruko comes to a reluctant stop behind Madoka when challenged, a reasonably polite distance away. That there are others here too seems a bit less important to acknowledge at the moment. Instead, a hand tightens around the right strap of her backpack. "Eeto..." she starts. Blue eyes down, moving back and forth between her shoes and the officer's, and occasionally off to the sides. She licks her lips, suddenly dry, and looks over to the wall where the poster is. "Anoo... Officer-san... I..." She raises her left hand and points off behind Usagi.

    "I need... To go that way."

    She just wants to lose herself for a while. An hour or two at most. Surely she's allowed that, right? She needs to... Just not be her anymore. Not be anyone. "So... If you please..." she continues, gaze darting up to the officer's face briefly before going back to the ground. She rubs one shoe against the other awkwardly, nervously. She's normally a source of peace, beauty, and calm to those around her, like she has some invisible Something that makes her feel like a refreshing rain in the forest, and the scent of fresh flowers blooming.

    Now, it's all she can do to just speak like a relatively normal person instead of an addict seeking a fix. A fix of emptiness.

    Her blue eyes look up and find Officer Usagi's. "If you could just move aside." she says with a tremor in her voice.

    The hand she used to point with goes to the side of her throat, covering up the marking that has just burned itself into existence on her fair, pale skin.

Amanda Faust has posed:
    Amy beams up at Hannah, briefly closing her eyes at the hug. If she had a tail she'd be wagging it more than Lyra. SHe opens her mouth to answer the question, and then to her surprise she's swept into a dance and there is nothing except the two of them. And then the spell is broken, and Lyra is barking. She tries to give the not-a-lizard a comforting pat on the head while whispering to Hannah, 'Yeah, I think it's magical girl shit. I sense one of those 'Witches' I'm supposed to hunt around here.'

    And then Yellow Pearl Voice, already transformed, is calling out to her. And at that question she grins WIDE, and answers with the most sunny cheerfulness ever seen on her face, "Yeah, she's my girlfriend!" And turns to hug Hannah again. It seems that in this moment of high spirits, she's free of doubt, at least! She blushes in turn when Hannah confirms it.

    And then, as nearby teens approach the caution tape--

               You are not supposed to go past the police tape...              

    ...but you're on Magical Girl business, so it's OK!

    --The police officer turns them away and Amanda's mouth gapes open *why is Usagi pretending to be a police officer isn't that an Actual Crime*. And it seems Hannah can tell, as the other blonde girl threatens to call the police, Amy turns and holds up her hands in a 'stop' gesture, whispering, 'A-t-t-t-t-t-t! No! Don't do that! I'm pretty sure this is Magical Girl business, you don't wanna get the police hurt!'

    Amy glances back apologetically to Officer Usa, still looking a bit confused about how no one else can tell she's a teenage girl in a police uniform.

Coco Kiumi has posed:
Coco smiles at Hannah as she confirms to be Amy's friend, as does Amy. "It's nice... to meet you", begins the mermaid, doing her best to fake not recognising Hannah too (although her best is often not good enough).

Hannah's following speech draws the mermaid princess' attention to the police officer that is limiting the zone. Coco looks at the 'police officer' thinking 'How did a police officer get here of all places? Though, it's good she is working to limit the victims, however she knows to do that', she thinks with a relieved smile.

"Excuse me, miss officer..." she starts talking, wanting to ask her to let her in, though she is going to improvise some other way if she refuses. 'Huh?' Coco things, caught by surprise by the officer's look. 'Usagi!?" She thinks as a look of surprise and recognition dawns on her face. 'Is this a power of hers?', she wonders, looking at the rest of the group, of whom only Amy seems to recognise the girl for who she is.'

That's good, she can send all these people back home', she thinks, eyeing Hannah, Madoka and Haruko with worry over the bad timing the trio had.

"I'm sure the reinforcements are coming. Why don't go back now? This isn't really a safe place, and I'm sure Officer Us-, I mean the officer knows what she is doing. "Something bad lurks here", hoping the rest of them go away, adding special emphasis to the threat as additional leverage.

"Meanwhile, I and Amy have to discuss some things with her. Right, miss officer?" says Coco, looking at Usagi expectantly.

Usagi Tsukino has posed:
This is absolutely not what Usagi was expecting. She was hoping that everyone would leave, actually, not ask questions! Who are these girls and why are they talking so funny? (One of them feels like she ought to be vaguely familiar, but at the moment, Usagi's got bigger problems to deal with.)

"Don't worry about it," she says firmly, because obviously that's a statement from an adult that will work on teenagers. "I'm the town guard, that's right. A police officer! And don't worry about emergency services, they're already on their way!"

They aren't, actually, because she hasn't called anyone. Her plan (in as much of a plan as she had, frustrated and angry and very upset as she is) consisted entirely of cordoning this place off, and then finding a way to destroy whatever monster lives here. Her plan did not include people wanting to help a police officer! "This music is definitely a problem, and I will be arresting the musician! But I can't do my job and watch all of you, so if you could all see yourselves back to the main street - there's been an attack, and this is a crime scene -"

She's a really, really bad liar. She points directly at Madoka, the only person speaking up for the officers that Usagi is accidentally slandering. "That's right, listen to that girl! We're all doing our best - so you should do your best to leave!"

Except - one girl doesn't back off. She says she has to go that way, behind Usagi, towards the lot, and Usagi sets her jaw, a determined hardness to her face. "I can't let you through here miss. This place is no good for you - why don't you join these nice girls and go on, let me handle my - I mean, official police business?"

Yellow Pearl Voice backing her up is a relief, even if it's going to involve another girl - maybe someone magical? How should she play it off, that she knows Yellow Pearl Voice? Would anyone find it suspicious, a police officer allowing one girl - seeming idol - to stay, and the rest being coaxed off?

Actually, who cares? She's a police officer. She can just make them go!

"Come on, all of you go! Except Yellow Girl and Red Girl!" Because she's not supposed to know their names. Not that Yellow Girl and Red Girl aren't more suspicious.

Runealy Waldia has posed:
Rune winces at Lyra's protests, at first viewing it as a distraction from her conversation with 'the guard' before silently realizing it might be a warning. "I do indeed hear it," she admits to Hinote. "And if it is jarring to you as well then it is not a matter of mere familiarity. Perhaps something is truly amiss?"

Madoka tries to cover for Rune's verbal gaffes, and the princess blinks several times at the other pink-haired girl. "This is so, and I make scant little secret of it. Yet I would offer aid to any guard, especially one who protects the citizenry while the Queen of Tokyo repeatedly shirks her duties."

She repeats this sentiment to Coco, tone somewhat terse and haughty. "I count myself among those very reinforcements, and with that in mind?" She stares at the 'town guard' and insists: "I shall do no such thing! A princess aids the guards, but under no circumstances shall she neglect her duties and defer to them! Summoning Princess' Tiara!"

Jeweled headwear appears in Rune's hand, energy audibly humming from it. "The Line of Succession..." It's passed from one hand to the other, which brings the tiara to her head in the same motion. "Transform!"

Rune is engulfed in red light. When it fades a few seconds later, she stands in full magical attire with staff in hand. She nods to Usagi, insisting: "I stand ready to assist you."

Hannah Steiner has posed:
A voice hits her ears, and after some searching? And a helpful 'bark' from Lyra? She suddenly recognizes Madoka's voice on the belated. That soft, empathetic voice. Defending her good EMT compatriots! For a young woman who's supposed to be on her guard all the time, Madoka takes her entirely off it. She has meant it as a challenge to the Officer, rather than actually defaming the poor EMT's.

As it turns out, Hannah can turn her heels on a dime while grinding said currency into the dust. She demonstrates this, drops to one knee, and her eyeglasses hang as well as her hat while she dips her sightless eyes straight towards the ground in pure prostration towards one Madoka Kaname as if trying to atone for some great sin. Hannah is pretty tall, as it stands, and it's like she's trying to pack her frame /below/ the diminutive 'Doka.

"I did not...No. Mein words were uncaring for the efforts of those whom have..." Her words fall silent. She remembers screams. A desperate defense. And then when it all ended? The howling of EMT vehicles to try to save the Tharkad Royal Court, and the Medics upon her own House that doubled and tripled shifted to try to keep citizens as healthy as they could after the coup attempt of her Uncle.

"I am entirely in error. I beg forgiveness." Comes Hannah solemnly, right towards Madoka, her Belkan accent all but cutting into her own tongue. She sounds utterly remorseful here, as though something has been struck hard in her heart!

Then she stands up! H U G! By Amy this time!?!? Lyra warmly hiss-growfs, but Hannah actually seems briefly surprised from /this/ declaration from Amy! And then?

"Mein /girl/ friend!" She returns, emphasis upon girl, and then all but melts into Amy's body furiously! Her voice is determined, pure Steiner in making a statement!

"frau Amy Faust is mein /girlfriend/!" She repeats in pure /joy/ despite the oddity of all that's around them! She laughs! Amy's words are a balm upon her wounded soul!

Also Amy tries to help Hannah off her Government Issue Complaints (tm). She only vaguely hears some of those whispers!

She whispers back! 'Und what exactly, mein dear engel, is a /Witch/!?' Hurriedly responds Hannah to her girlfriend, pique at not knowing...well it's honestly one part tease and one part annoyed at not being in the know without any actual malice. It ends with a vague frown to Amy, the kind perfectly calculated by a Planetary-Ruler-To-Be to drag out information from the recipient!

One corner of her mouth quirks in a smile, just to show she's not /actually/ mad.

Hannah gives a nod at YPV's voice. Warmly so, and then she slowly relaxes. Her body tenses briefly as suddenly? Well, Yellow Pearl Voice gives her an /out/ to hide her identity, and she reluctantly disentangles herself from Amy, and even the Extremely Suspicious Officer has her playing the better part of valor. She taps her cane over one shoulder, and Lyra leads her away with a vague wave with said cane! Not a word otherwise.

How odd for the vocal young woman.

She ducks into the next-nearest alleyway and once she's sure she's alone?

"Blauer Greif! Aufwachen!"

<Linker Core Online>

<Sensoren Online>

<Zauberspruche Online>

<Alle Systeme Nominal>

<Bereit meine Herrin>

Hannah adjusts her now-golden-sunglasses, and the trio of Device-Hund-and-User gravitate up towards the buildings that overlook where that strange noise and even stranger Officer have cordon'd off. Activating a Wide Area Search from on high, she and her blue-furred Space Lizard and Device attempt to figure out this whole mystery as Trager des Blauer Greif!

Hinote Kagari has posed:
Hinote Kagari frowns and nods at Runealy. "Also. It's coming from a place where there's apparently nothing?" he asks looking into the vacant lot and pointing. He frowns a little, and looks towards the officer, who's acting oddly to him, and watches Runealy transform, and blinks a little, that's still gonna take some getting used to.

Hinote reaches into his own pocket and---!

Produces a cellphone and not a henshin item because he isn't a magical boy. He instead starts texting his mom. Text. Text. Text.

"Yeah uh." he looks up. "I think you're lying." he just straight up says to the officer. "So what's really going on here. Is it. Ya know. Magic?"

"Go ahead call me weird, I've been called weird for the past few days by too many people to care." he says bluntly.

Madoka Kaname has posed:
    Madoka hears a voice behind her, and she turns around to see Haruko. Isn't that the charming lady from the magical girl club?

    Oh geeze. Madoka doesn't like that look in Haruko's eyes, or the way she acts. Something is Wrong about this, and that Wrongness is familiar. "U-um... You can't come this way right now! I'm sorry, can't it wait for another day?" Hopefully long after someone kills... whatever this is.

    Haruko's mark went unnoticed, and the hand covering it looks non-suspicious. It probably wouldn't bother Madoka if she wasn't already looking for some kind of Witch's Kiss. Even if she didn't find one, it wouldn't really alleviate her fears. Witches are far from the only thing that could go wrong in this town. Her eyes scan over Haruko for any obvious signs of the cursed tattoo, but only for a moment before focusing back on her eyes.

    Runealy's sudden henshin distracts Madoka from Haruko for a moment. Well, this is escalating quickly. Now there are two people in henshin. Madoka visibly winces as she feels sorry for this random police officer. She has no reason to believe that Usagi is anything other than a mundane defender of justice who is, ironically, getting in way over her head.

    Hannah's apology catches Madoka off guard, and suddenly Madoka feels a little bad about that, too. She holds up her hands palm's forward, as if to placate. "I... it's okay..."

    Still, this is all the more reason to get Haruko out of here. Madoka tries to step in front of Haruko's path, and stay in her way. "Come on... you can go visit the circus some other day! Let's go... do something else for now."

    Hinote calling out the police officer isn't something that she has time to deal with, but her eyes do dart towards him for a moment.

Haruki Hara has posed:
    Haruko Hara sways on her feet. She is not an aggressive person. Never has been. But as she continues to be denied, and her perception of the world lowers to about the same level as someone having fever dreams and hallucinations, her hand drops away from the side of her neck, her blue eyes lock onto the polce officer without parsing anything that is happening or being said, and she begins to advance, with empty eyes, and gritted teeth. Why would anyone try to stop her? It makes no sense. Don't they want her to be happy? To finally be her true self?

    To go somewhere -- some other world -- where she isn't bound by a body?
    Even if it means dying.

    The Witch's Kiss on her neck is plainly visible to anyone in a position to see it. But unlike most victims, she stops half-way to Usagi, even if it's with faltering, uncertain steps.

    She doesn't have the energy for this.

    I'm tired.

    She closes her eyes and then opens them with effort as she looks beyond the policewoman, and then turns to look behind herself at the strange collection of people -- and the road behind them. It's not that far to the train station.

    I'm tired of thinking.

    She turns around fully and starts to walk away, even though she can hear the music calling for her to come back. She just... Isn't the type of person to hurt others just to end her own pain. She'll go back to the train station, wait for a train to come along, and then it's just a matter of taking a single step.

    I don't want to think about anything.

Amanda Faust has posed:
    Mein /girl/ friend!

    Amy feels a happy little twinge inside.

    Mein /girlfriend/!

    The second twinge is so strong that she hunches over slightly and looks away, a bit of pink coming to her cheeks which will be sore later from how hard she's smiling.

    ...A moment later it's back to business, alas. Amy glances around at the others. There's a mix of civilians and magical girls here, so she has to keep it low, whispering to Hannah and trying to gather her thoughts which were starting to melt into a puddle.

    'It's, uh, it's, a Witch is--' She starts to whisper, but that's as far as she gets before suddenly Hannah is leaving?? She gives a brief awkward look to Yellow Pearl Voice and Officer Usagi that says, 'bear with me a moment, I'll be back' and then hurries off after Hannah.

    She's so focused on other things she doesn't spot the Witch's Kiss on poor Haruko, even as the phrase 'suicide victims' assembles itself into the explanation she's mentally preparing.

    The redhead walks after her friend -- her /girlfriend/, eeeeeee! -- and is extremely surprised when Lyra growls at her, repeatedly, eventually stunned out of giving chase for a moment. She gives the same awkward 'just a moment' look to Yellow Pearl Voice and Usagi again, and hurries into the alley.

    And in this moment, she's a normal girl, with normal thoughts about explaining something to her girlfriend, and the farthest thing from her mind is 'always look up', so she doesn't think to, as she steps into the alley and sees Hannah is gone. "Hannah?!" she calls out. "Hannah, wait!" she calls out again, taking a few steps into the alley, looking around as feelings she didn't even know she could feel turn to confusion and distress.

    "Was it something I said?" No longer shouting, words asked of the Hannah-less world rhetorically. Barely above a whisper: "Did I... do something wrong? ...Again?" All that cheer is suddenly gone, as she finds herself in a familiar place she's been countless times in her life.

    Things have gone wrong and she doesn't understand why.

    And because she's the weird one, it was probably something she did.

    There is no one to lean on, so she leans her back against the wall, as her thoughts become a whirl of aimless, confused anxiety, and she slides down to a sitting position, the Magical Girl Business momentarily forgotten.

    She tries to rein in the whirling thoughts and give them direction. Think over the exchange that just happened. /What did you miss/? //How could your words have sounded differently to others?// There must have been something! Maybe if she can figure it out, her apology will at least seem sincere!

    ...The mental image of her going to apologize to a Hannah looking down at her angrily, with an expression that says 'you know what you did', makes her throat tighten.

Coco Kiumi has posed:
Coco is pleased when people start going away, albeit she has to wait for Hannah to finish apologising to Madoka first. The reveal of Runealy as a magical girl, and one she fought alongside multiple times is of great relief too, though Coco still stay focused on everyone else leaving.

'Please, hurry!' She urges in her thoughts. 'We need to check if the demon already got somebody, please hurry up!'

She is however confused when Amy starts leaving with Hannah, and she is about to ask the red-haired girl what she is doing, but she is distracted by Haruko's weird behaviour.

'Isn't that the same kind of behaviour those possessed by witch had?', she thinks, squinting at the girl with worry. The weird things the girl is muttering sadly confirms her suspicion.

"Wait there!", is Coco's reaction after she gets that realisation. The sphere of white light known as the Live Stage starts forming around her, the soundtrack of her chosen song beginning to spread from it. "Legend of Mermaid: Pichi Pichi Voice, Live Start!"

The song reaches everyone's ears as Coco begins singing and dancing, the musical blessing giving the environment a sense of serenity that repels evil, while the notes begin affecting the Witch's Kiss, speaking to the sorrow inside it, chanting to reassure it, calm it down, embracing it like a balm against its fatigue and sorrow.


Usagi Tsukino has posed:
Usagi was expecting a lot of things from her fellow teenagers. Most of it was for them to walk away. Actually, she was only expecting one thing from her fellow teenagers, and it was just that walking away thing.

All of which is to say that when the girl who called her a towns guard suddenly transforms into a magical girl with a tiara and staff (she remembers when she had a tiara), all she say is, "Ohhh... shit."

It's a good thing for multiple reasons that her mother isn't here.

How many magical people can Tokyo fit? Clearly more than she's already met, and then, before she can react to this, there's a girl running off - well! Good! "The rest of you should follow - excuse me?!"

Did that kid just say she was lying?! She is, but how rude! Who just calls someone out like that?

Usagi blusters, puffing her chest up. "Who are you to call me a liar, kid? Unless you're going to change into a magical teenager like - like this lady just did, you need to get out of here, before you get hurt!"

This bluster would continue, if not for one thing. One person, actually. Haruko.

She moves away, stumbling off, and Usagi is glad to see her going, only - only - that mark on her neck is just like the one on Shingo's neck. And Shingo -

"Hey, wait, maybe you should -" what, stay here, where she's going to fight a monster? Usagi falters, not sure what to recommend. It's a good thing she doesn't have to find a solution then, because Yellow Pearl Voice has it handled, her song of serenity a balm, combatting the circus music (which has STILL been audible all along). This is when Usagi realizes - she just doesn't have time for this. The whole point of the officer disguise was to make people go away. And if they won't?

She turns back to Hinote, who'd called her a liar. What he'll see next is the blonde adult police officer raising her hand, her badge suddenly a broach, and calling out, "Moon Prism Power, Make up!"

Light spills from the broach, wrapping around the officer like ribbons. Her uniform dissolves into light - in fact, her whole body is a silhouette of pure light and sparkle, that suddely solidifies - white leotard with chest armor, red gloves and boots, navy blue sailor collar and pleated skirt - red bows on her chest and at the back of her skirt.

"In the Name of the Moon, I, Sailor Moon, really don't have time for this! There's a monster on the loose, and unless you can fight back, you can't be here!"

Now that everyone can see Sailor Moon, they'll have a moment of 'how did I ever think this obvious teenager was an adult police officer!?', but Sailor Moon isn't giving them time to process that. She's also not looking up, which means she has no idea Ms. Tragar-chan is up there.

Amanda Faust has posed:
    OKAY YEAH A MAGICAL TRANSFORMATION OUT IN THE OPEN /THAT/ HAPPENED. But Amy already knows about magic and she will be back in a moment to deal with Magical Girl business!

Runealy Waldia has posed:
"How strange. Music with no cause? And it is not one of your strange televisions?" Rune asks Hinote, tone raised in genuine confusion. She notices Madoka trying to help 'direct traffic', and silently decides to try to keep Madoka in her peripheral vision in the meantime - just in case the other pink-haired girl ends up needs help at some point.

Then Usagi and Hinote start going at one another, and the red-clad princess decides to interject with a forceful, imperious tone: "Cease this bickering! It promotes neither protection nor happiness, not when potential danger is at hand!" She has no actual authority here, but Rune speaks as if she just outright presumes a citizen of Tokyo and a 'town guard' will automatically defer to her.

Fortunately, Rune gets her wish - the argument seems to be dying down. Unfortunately, it's because something more pressing just grabbed Usagi's attention... and Usagi has chosen to grab Rune's attention in turn.

The alien princess blinks several times, then smiles as she realizes aloud: "You are more than a town guard! You are one of Tokyo's Guardian Knights!" That is not how Sailor Moon introduced herself. It is how Rune is interpreting her, however, and Rune is clearly pleased by what she sees.

Hannah Steiner has posed:
'Was it something I said?' Comes the words to her ears as she alights atop the rooftop of Tokyo. Lyra's claws drags her up beside Hannah as she unleashes the spell to allow her to 'see' the area about her with Blauer Greif's help! Right in the middle of her forming a 'mental map' of all about, she is rocked by Amy's words hitting her right in the back! Less physically and more mentally as her mind catches up.

She's been too worried about odd music and irritations to really /listen/. And by the Sankt does it make her heart sink. She knows what it sounds like when someone close to you has been wounded.

And ensconced in her own Henshin?

Amy missed nothing. Hannah missed her fragile girlfriend. She feels like an utter fool, as she hears the young woman echo out!

'Did I do something wrong'?

"...Nothing. I'm..." Sightless eyes burn as tears fall. She hasn't cried this much since...Then.

And with the Veil saving her secrecy? She can't exactly offer Amy any kind of succor. Shame burns deep in her heart. It's only the sheer hammering of the results of her Wide Area Search that have her getting back into the magical here and now.

Honestly it's a bit of a relief. This is far easier to deal with. Especially as she suddenly feels through Blauer Greif that Sailor Moon is on the scene!

And then all her hope dies in her heart. Well, not really. It's most like sheer /D R E A D/ washes through her linker core, into her Device, and vaguely through Lyra. The trio share that unenviable feeling of something utterly Wrong with the world, this poor tragic comedy of a dirtball.

<Mein herrin...> Cautions her Device.

<Wary> Comes the ancient Belkan Weapon, for the first time in far, /far/ too long coming upon energy signatures she doesn't recognize, and are far too foul to deign catalogue.

Trager-chan and Lyra step off from on high without any of the sort of fanfare that Sailor Moon perhaps might expect from them. The Razorhound is tense in her muscles, and Trager is ashen-faced with worry.

"Shall we, Sailor Moon? ...Barrier ahead. Und in a manner that makes mein skin quiver." Offers Hannah as though she's just greeting Sailor Moon while running into her in a konbini. Or, at least, that's her voice. The data that's being returned into her head is giving even one so poised for Fight over Flight pause.

There's others around.

Teeth grit. Her parents would not even /balk/ at this challenge. Her cane-strikes upon the ground grow stronger, and she pushes forward with her cape flowing behind her regally, Pride winning the war against the worry in her very bones!

Madoka Kaname has posed:
    Madoka finally does notice the Witch's Kiss, and she immediately makes a quiet distressed whine while her face gets pale. "That mark... this is from a Witch! Which means that music is coming from..." Her eyes go to the empty lot. "... a Labyrinth?! There's a Labyrinth over there?! No way..."

    Turning to the others at the scene, she says, "If you don't have magic then you need to leave! This isn't something normal people can deal with! I don't have time to explain, I'm sorry..." She knows that at least two magicals here have been in a Labyrinth before. Hopefully they can explain things.

    Madoka chases after Haruko, following closely behind her. Something bad is gonna happen here, she knows, but what will she do about it? If nothing else, Madoka make sure that Haruko remains safe. Even if Haruko might end up resisting her efforts to do so.

    Quietly, Madoka is thankful to Inai-sensei's lessons. Every thing she learned was for self-defense, though. How much of it could apply to trying to pin someone down?

    Yellow Pearl Voice starts singing, and Madoka remembers this happening at the Drowning Witch, too. When Madoka turns around, she sees the Police Officer transforming into Sailor Moon. Didn't she see her before... at the beach? That seemed like so long ago.

    She doesn't have time to think about that. Madoka is walking behind Haruko, close enough to catch her if she suddenly stumbles or falls due to sudden hypnosis failure or anything like that. Her focus is on the Witch Kissed girl. This kind of damage control, she decides, is her role right now. Fighting is for others. That's just how it will be, until she becomes a magical girl.

Haruki Hara has posed:
    The singing clashes with and eventually overwhelms the circus music. The fact that Haruko turned away rather than pressing forwards into the Labyrinth is peculiar, but the end result was still going to be the same. "It will be empty either way." is her distant response to Madoka as the circus tent mark on her neck fades away into motes of black. Then her eyes flutter and she falls into Madoka's waiting arms. Even in unconsciousness, she hears both Yellow Pearl Voice and the Witch's lure.

    It would be so nice, she thinks. If there was somewhere else I could go to where things didn't hurt.

Amanda Faust has posed:
> In the name of the Moon,

    Words reach Mallory's ears. Oh right, he's supposed to... he should be... He has Magical Girl responsibilities right now. That's... more important than... than... ...teenage girl stuff!

    Darkness creeps into the top of the soul gem.

        He stands up, muttering. "'Even your heart's become that of a girl'... I guess manga was right..."

    Deep breath. Focus. There's a Witch, most of them may not know what they're up against, you have to help them! Hand on the gem under your shirt, and--

    Amy is engulfed in the flames of an explosion, which leave her unharmed and transformed.

    The red Puella Magi walks back to the group with fists clenched and a serious look on her face. "It's a Witch. They drive people to suicide and stuff. They're what I promised to hunt, and they're weird, reality-warping monsters that live inside bubbles of unreality. *Never enter a Witch's Labyrinth alone.*"

    She walks right through the caution tape. "Come on, let's find it then. The civilians won't remember this anyway."

Hinote Kagari has posed:
Hinote Kagari crosses his arms. "Yes, I am calling you out. My mother is an actual police officer and I don't appreciate impostors!" he says, leaning forward, like he's ready to get into some kind of comedy dustball fight with the imposter police woman.

He stops getting into it when Runealy interjects and only stops because of it. He 'ughs!' and merely steps back. "No I don't think it's.. a.. a television." he says to Runealy.

- and there's another transformation, as the police woman becomes Sailor Moon. He then announces.

"I'm not stepping back." he says bluntly. "I dunno what it is, but I was told it was 'special' I could see this stuff and not forget it the next day. Or go crazy. Or something. No one will will tell me anything. So. I need to find out what that means." he says, putting his hands back into his pockets, frowning a little.

Coco Kiumi has posed:
The air around Hotaru is home to a musical clash, the witch's siren song fighting Coco's mermaid song. The dark notes and the purifying notes weave themselves together, undoing each other's effects, until something relents in Hotaru's heart and the Yellow Pearl Voice pushes the dark away, still dancing around in the air, giving the witch a clear message: that she too doesn't deserve to be shrouded in negativity.

As Madoka catches the fainting Hotaru, Coco dismisses the Live Stage, looking back at Hinote. "This isn't why I told you your ability to resist things was special at the mall. The danger here is real, Hinote. This isn't something you can get back from. Please, everyone has limits. Take this opportunity to keep yourself safe" Coco talks to him, the worry clear in her voice.

She then turns towards Sailor Moon and tells her. "I am ready to go with you when everyone is."

Usagi Tsukino has posed:
A... Guardian Knight? Yeah, okay, let's go with that. Why should she argue? Her transformation has defused the argument - so she decides not to worry about what was being said before, about the argument not promoting protection or happiness. (Even if she totally was, by telling these kids to leave -)

"That's right, I'm a Guardian Knight," Sailor Moon says, "And there's something dangerous here. It's been hunting people - and letting them go, just to drag them back here again and again."

Her voice shakes - not with fear, but anger. "We have to stop it. We don't have time to waste on regular people today. That's why I tried to get everyone to leave. And I don't care if you're special -" she rounds suddenly on Hinote, blue eyes dark with anger. His protest, his determination to stay and get involved - she can't stand it. He doesn't know anything at all, and he just wants to jump in for a reason like that -

"Being able to see these things won't protect you from them! It doesn't mean they can't kill you, and it doesn't mean you can fight back! You should listen to that girl - she knows what she's talking about," that girl is Madoka, who Usagi knows she's seen at other fights - the girl must be as unlucky as Naru-chan, and she clearly has the same problem - she can see these things and remember it. This boy needs to realize that it's not a good thing, this ability to remember.

She might have carried on, if not for Ms. Tragar-chan landing beside her. Some of the light comes back to her eyes and her face softens a little. "Ms. Tragar-chan, I've never been so happy to see you. I've been looking to get into that thing's - circus - for a while."

Her usual nerves, her usual fear, it's all gone for the moment. Hannah will realize that there's an iron core to Sailor Moon for the moment, one that she's not seen in their training sessions. The thing they face is bizarre and strange, leaks despair into the air, but there's not a quiver of fear or doubt in Sailor Moon.

"As soon as Yellow Pearl Voice is done with that song, we need to go in. We've got to stop it, as soon as posssible."

And then, as if her words had summoned the result - Haruko falls, caught by a prepared Madoka. She clenches her eyes shut. Puella Red appears, another ally, with a succinct explanation - because for all her anger and frustration, Sailor Moon had not known the details of her prey-

"Good thing we're not alone then. Come on! Everyone who can fight, let's go. The rest of you should get to safety. Maybe call the real emergency services, to get that girl some help."

And Sailor Moon follows Red - the caution tape disappears as she goes, as much an illusion as her officer uniform.

Runealy Waldia has posed:
"If you have a compelling reason to face Tokyo's demons, a reason that overrules so many objections from others... then so it shall be - I shall strive to keep you protected!" Rune insists to Hinote.

She then raises a tense, cautious eye at Amy's transformation and description of Witches. "They transform existence itself, and plunge people into such utter despair as to do that?! Tokyo truly is beset by monster after monster... utterly vile ones, no less!"

Now keenly aware of the danger, Rune follows along to join the Witch hunt and addresses Sailor Moon along the way: "Sailor Moon, you speak wisely as an esteemed Guardian Knight of Tokyo... urging him to abandon this matter is well founded! However, I will vouch for him. He must have sincere motive and genuine need, if he wishes to press on despite the danger. He knows at least some of what he shall face. If he sallies forth, he shall do so as my ward. We may yet need his insights. And perhaps her knowledge as well, if she ventures alongside us any further," Rune nods aside to Madoka.

Hannah Steiner has posed:
Madoka tells the magic'less to get out of the area. That immediately raises the pinkette's standing in her own measure. Hannah tries to imprint that voice into her memory, though the chaos of the situation makes it all a little waffly.

A field medic without any sort of weaponry to hand, going out of her way for another. And one that bodily catches that poor girl that Hannah doesn't recognize as in danger.

'It's a Witch'.

The voice rings out, and Amy's whispers are as one. Hannah is utterly confused, until again Amy speaks up in her true guise, Veil pierced!

She's known Amy is a Magical Girl. But one against such a disturbing foe!? Hannah hesitates only a moment.

Suicide. A single word. That is all it takes to get Hannah's focus back on the mission.

"...They deprive families of members most precious by..." Her throat chokes. Her entire body twitches.

What has her girlfriend been fighting all this time!? Clenching her Device in her hand, she slashes out a duelist's salute in sheer frustration and anger as suddenly it all becomes clear.

"Gutless, flea-bitten curr! I shall remedy the yellow upon such a wretched being's zuruck personally!" Comes Trager-chan furiously, only to find that there's no immediate wrath to bring down upon a head, magical or otherwise!

And Sailor Moon is just as out of sorts as she is. That /she/ of all people blows up in someone's face? And yet then turns upon her with that pure purpose in her eyes? And without that fear or lack of confidence? It both at once worries and fills her with pride!

Hannah taps her Device to her chest, and swears an oath to get Sailor Moon out of whatever is going on here, lest the Sankt Kaiser strike her down!

A single blade taps upon her shoulder, and she grins at Sailor Moon with a nod!

"Whatever this 'Circus' is? I shall be honored to follow you into it's depths Sailor Moon!" She offers, her chest hitching just slightly before she pushes herself up! And then Lyra and her cane tapping proudly, following her Ally towards the madness that is a Witch's Labyrinth!

Hinote Kagari has posed:
Hinote Kagari shifts a bit and clenches his fists in his pockets. He's tired of being told 'lol you know nothing, and also go away' by everyone he's talked to. All he knows so far is the world can be cake sometimes but it's a bad thing if that's the case. Also these monsters are called 'youma'.

"So this..this is a 'youma' right?" he asks, lining up next to and slightly behind Runealy. "Yeah I can't fight but. I have my reasons to know what's going on now." he says. "I'll stay behind Rune." he says. "And keep my wits about me." he says as he removes his hands from his pockets to keep them more ready

"So lemme get this straight. There's a monster called a 'witch' in a 'labyrinth' and that's what's...making this all happen?" he asks. He takes mental notes.

"Alright." he says. He looks around. and frowns.

Madoka Kaname has posed:
    Madoka catches Haruko as she passes out, both relieved and stressed. She has traded one highly lethal problem for a much safer problem. "Eheh... you're safe now, just rest."

    Madoka overheard Hinote's previous objections, and might have said something about them had she not been distracted by other things. Now that she's no longer worried about Haruko getting herself killed, she can attempt to deal with other problems.

    Granted she is... still holding onto Haruko. Laying her down on the sidewalk isn't really acceptable, and dragging her around seems both tiring and potentially harmful to this poor girl's feet. Maybe there's some place nearby she can be put until she wakes up?

    "If it's all the same... I think it might be better if I was out here," calls out Madoka to the others, looking over her shoulder. "Your henshins can protect you against what's inside, but I've had too many close calls lately. It's not like I can really help you fight. However... before you go."

    Madoka turns a bit more, still holding Haruko safely. "When the Witch dies, it will drop a black jewel called a Grief Seed. It's very important that the Grief Seed goes to a Puella Magi. Fortunately..." Her eyes go to Amy. "You have one with you. No one else should try to claim it. It's too dangerous."

    To Hinote, she adds, "If you follow them into the Labyrinth it'll all make sense... Well, actually, I guess it wont make any sense at all, but seeing it is faster than explaining it. Just watch your back. There's no telling what form a Witch's attack will take, and look out for the Witch's minions, the Familiars. They keep sneaking up on me."

Amanda Faust has posed:
    There's one stubborn civilian insisting on proceeding. Another... fainted? It seems the Witch got the non-Madoka pinkette and Coco's song freed her, probably. Amanda mutters, "Yellow's song has bought her some time, but if we don't kill the Witch, she'll be..." She takes a breath. That's why they *have* to do this. The boy is determined, but he won't understand unless he sees the Labyrinth, and then he might not escape.

    Something inside Mallory suggests handing the boy a gun, which is ludicrous because Amy doesn't HAVE one and also this is Japan.

    She turns to the others and looks them over. The magical girls, and Hinote. "...Once we find its Labyrinth, I'm not sure if we can *leave* without killing it. There's gonna be this like... I dunno, like an invisible doorway you *step through*, when you touch it the air kinda wavers a little, and once you're in, you're... well, outside Reality. I don't know how else to explain it. I've only fought one of these before, and..."

    She takes a breath, and sighs, and relaxes her stance a little. "Look, I'm not an expert Witch hunter. If, uh, we don't have the right counters for whatever crazy abilities it has, we *might die*. I... I knew that was a risk of fighting monsters, and maybe you all did too when you started, but... I gotta reiterate it. So... look, I know we're all heroes... heroines... but... Like, this is it. There isn't shame in turning back and making sure you're still here tomorrow to protect Tokyo from all the *other* monsters running around."

    The red Puella sighs and tilts her head forward for a moment, scratching the back of her head. "Ah... who'm I kiddin'... No one would dare turn back after hearing that, even if they're scared. You're a bunch of proud teenagers..."

    She lifts her head and looks at Hinote. "YOU, however, don't have any powers. I'm serious. This is deadly. This is... going into space without a spacesuit. Running into the burning building where you'll pass out from smoke inhalation and then burn. I don't know if a Labyrinth can instantly kill you, but the Witch surely *can*. If you want to know about what's in there, ask her." She points at Madoka, but continues speaking to Hinote. "I *really* should stop you by force, but... I don't have powers good for doing that and I'm not good at manipulating you into leaving. Just try not to become something I'll regret for the rest of my life, okay?"

    Madoka helpfully provides exposition, including a tidbit Amy didn't know. She blinks at the pinkette. "Why? What happens if someone else tries to claim it?"

    Whatever her response, Red turns, looks at her wrist like she's checking the time, and gently taps the soul gem, currently in a watchlike position on her glove. "Huh? How have I already used up magic? I was still full this morning..."

    No matter. Look into that later. She closes her eyes, her right hand hovering over her soul gem for a couple of seconds, before opening her eyes and striding forward. "I think it's this way."

Coco Kiumi has posed:
"I am ready to help put a stop to this demon's folly with you", Coco says, the list of the creature's victims not surprising her at all, given the other one of its kind she had faced.

Her heart is filled with a burning regret and sadness for what drove this monster to do the heinous acts.

Coco knows she must remembers her songs can only truly save if she holds the desire for peace instead of hatred in her heart. Even with the revulsion that stirs deep in her heart, she must look past that, to end the chain of hatred and pain.

Coco takes a deep breath, trying to recover that calm. Being fired up is good, but her power doesn't work on resentment. Once her mind is clear, she joins the other magical girls about to enter the labyrinth.

Usagi Tsukino has posed:
Sailor Moon scowls as the other magical girl promises to protect that boy - she doesn't know what she's getting herself or him into. The few things Shingo had said - the the things she's seen happen to people - the things Naru-chan has told her - and he wants toc come charging into a monster's lair now, with no powers, all because he thinks he wants to know what's happening?

He can use his words to get answers!

But she really doesn't have time to keep arguing. Everyone's tried to talk sense into him, and if he insists on coming anyway - then it's on him. She doesn't have powers to protect people from harm, not like Ginga Otome with her shields and Zero Time, or Yellow Pearl Voice with her stage. The only thing she can do to keep anyone safe is kill this Witch before it can hurt anyone.

Because as Red so clearly elaborates, they don't have a choice. Everyone touched by the Witch - like her brother, like that girl on the floor out there - will die in the most awful way if they don't.

So Sailor Moon gets her head in gear. Her friends are gathered and her allies are willing to fight with her and for the first time in her life she's sought out a fight instead of being dragged into one. This monster, this Witch, it needs to go down. It doesn't matter if they'll be trapped with no way out - they have to kill monster, right?

And so, with a smile at Ms. Tragar-chan - a smile that's tired and grim but fiercely determined - Sailor Moon follows Red, following her suggested path as they seek out the entrance. The empty field isn't all that big - it doesn't take long for them to find the barrier, as Ms. Tragar-chan had put it, the place where the world doesn't feel right, where music emanates from. As they get closer, it darkens, a wound in the air, color and patterns undulating, inviting, taunting. Once they're close enough, the entrance to the Witch's Labyrinth opens for them, and they're able to enter. Prey, for the Witch lurking inside.

Usagi Tsukino has posed:
The labyrinth is utterly unlike the world they've only just left behind. Where before, they stood in an overgrown lot, now they find themselves standing beneath an enormous circus tent, sickly light shining through the red-and-white striped fabric cast over the world. The colors of the world itself are wrong, overly saturated and stinging just to look at. And on a second glance above? The tent fabric doesn't look like fabric at all.

It looks like metal plates, popping out of the world, fitted together with rivets and welding marks. Light still filters impossibly through that metal. Uneven wooden pillars rise high, high into the air, holding up the tent, carrying on the masquerade that this is a Totally Normal Tent. Actual fabric banners drape from those pillars, gauzy and blowing in an unseen wind.

Extending to either side are row upon row of metal bleachers, perfect for taking a seat and watching the show. Most of the seats are empty, but several have people in them.

But are they people? Their bodies are in shadow, their faces blank and empty - featureless- missing altogether, actually, they don't have faces, just a mass of shadow where the illusion of a face should be. They have voices, though. Oh, they have voices, cheering and calling for the circus to start, a cacophany of noise all around them. All around them, because as they look around, everyone in the labyrinth will see that the bleachers are actually curving into the air, spreading up and down and left and right, splitting off in almost organic paths. Above them, shadows. Beside them, shadows. Cheering voices, echoing calls.

The scent of something burning.

But that's just what's to the side. To the front, our intrepid intruders will see a distant circus ring, large enough to land a jumbojet with room to spare, a red spotlight illuminating it from above. They can't see where the spotlight originates from. The ring looks like a papercraft, as if each piece - each solid, obviously three dimension piece - should be made of paper glued atop each other.

It's when they take a step forward that everyone will realize there's not ground beneath their feet - ground doesn't sway. Instead, they're standing on top of a rope bridge, only, there's no handrails, and the braided wires are pretty narrow, barely wide enough to plant two feet besides each other. It's trapeze wire, braided together with plenty of hopes for the tips of a shoe or the point of a heel to get caught in. There's emptiness beneath the wire. They could fall through.

And that circus ring, so huge - it's so far away, actually. And the shadow audience, still cheering so loudly - they're turned to face them now, the empty space where their faces should be a flat plane of shadow. After a second of delay, they swing their heads, heads unerringly 'looking' at Hinote.

The scent of smoke is on the wind. The shadow of an audience never looks away from Hinote. They don't have eyes. There's no way to tell if they blink.

Sailor Moon swallows harshly, clenching her hand into a fist to steel her nerves. She has to shout to be heard. "I don't know what's going on here, but if this is a circus - the enemy has to be one of the circus acts, right? So if we keep going, we'll be able to find her and stop her - and Red will take care of the Grief Seed, so there's no more problems, after." She takes a step, then another, then another, hands spread out to her side for balance, because the wire wobbles with her every movement, but a descent on this path of wire is all they have.

The path isn't a straight line, either, because that would be too easy. It angles up and then down and all around and there's nothing in sight that explains how the trapeze wire is being held up. They'll have to trust it though, because this is the only way to the ring, unless they can fly.

They'll have to be nearly as good as trapeze artists themselves, just to survive getting to the witch.

Amanda Faust has posed:
    'Red' finds the entrance, sure enough. "This is it. Last chance." She doesn't actually walk in until someone else goes to, stepping inside alongside them.

    The labyrinth is trippy, but at least now Amy's experienced it before. The audience is cheering. "They're not real. Or, not people. I'm not sure if 'beings' even makes sense for whatever they are."

    She steps forward--and almost falls, arms windmilling as she winds up crouched. "[F***!]" She swears in English as she realizes the situation they're in: Having to cross a trapeze wire, and *the apparent distance to the circus ring is meaningless*. There is no set distance they will eventually cross if they just doggedly put one foot in front of the other enough times. How did they force the transition last time? Amy remembers the picture frames sweeping over them, but what triggered it?!

> So if we keep going, we'll be able to find her and stop her - and Red will take care of the Grief Seed, so there's no more problems, after.
    Red SIGHS. "We're not in REALITY. The concept that walking some physical distance means you end up in a place that same distance away from where you started, is a law of REALITY. It depends on the laws of physics, it doesn't *mean* anything here!" Amy makes a sweeping gesture with her arm and wobbles a bit. "And no, it isn't necessarily one of the circus acts. But... I suppose if we are clearly Going Towards The Ring, once enough stuff happens maybe we'll get there. Or maybe we'll end up someplace else. I don't know, whatever sense there is to this place isn't completely *ours*."

    On the bright side, she realizes she can summon a really long rocket launcher and use it as a balancing pole, so there's that. Conveniently her outfit doesn't have any heels to get trapped!

Runealy Waldia has posed:
"A dangerous gem that must only be received by a Puella Magi?" Rune repeats Madoka's advice, clearly confused. "I imagine it shall be more clear when the moment is upon us..." She silently makes a note to find out more about these 'Grief Seeds'.

Amy tries to talk the group out of pressing on, and Rune takes exception. "It is not pride that drives me. I am knowingly unequal to the task at hand. Rather, it is necessity guides my travels. You speak of a monster that spreads the greatest and most final despair imaginable, and twists existence. Imagine that I quit the field this day. What then? Will I face this Witch some other time, in circumstances more dire and less favorable? No... I shall venture forth, though your advice is well founded."

Then... absolute impossibility, as they step into the labyrinth. Rune has no idea what a circus is to begin with, so this is alien to her as it is. But all of this looks unreal and wrong. Fabric that isn't fabric. Shadow-people. Terrain seemingly made of paper. All of this is taken in with wide eyes and breathy gasps.

Rune is tense - as shadow-people focus on Hinote, Rune's gaze sweeps from person to person, wondering if any of them plan to attack. Being unable to fly, she follows along on the wire with obvious discomfort and tension. The princess' steps seem graceful enough if one looks at just her legs, but her eyes and wavering in her shoulders give away that while she is physically up to this task... it is still nerve-wracking.

Along the way, she decides to distract herself by talking with Sailor Moon. "The performers are the enemy? That sounds like an utter betrayal of everything those on-stage stand for... I can only hope you are mistaken." Amy's remarks also get her interest. "'Not reality'? Are we to understand, then, that the very concept of cause and effect may not work as we expect?"

If she succeeds in crossing despite 'distance' making less sense than normal, Rune will turn around to hold her staff for others to grab on to. With the gem tip, the 'business end', pointed toward herself. Otherwise... she keeps going as long as nothing interrupts this.

Hannah Steiner has posed:
Hannah is surpremely grateful for the explaination from Amy. It really does help to know the stakes! Madoka's wisdom, too, is noted. While part of her wants to claim this 'grief seed' out of pure merchantile greed, better sense hits her. It's dangerous. What if it's like a Lost Logia? Mouthing a prayer to the Sankt Kaiser, she nods towards both Amy and Madoka.

"A cowardly wretch hiding in some jumped-up Barrier spell that has not even the decency to show itself properly!? Preying on innocents that cannot defend themselves!" This isn't directed in anyone in particular, the Steiner royal's worry for those lives on the line burning quickly into noble outrage at the conduct of the monster they're set to eliminate. If mercy was on her mind at all, well that seals things.

"Blauer Greif, deactivate duellprotokoll seventy-eight. Maximum linker core throughput!" Comes Hannah, and there's a brief shimmer around her weapon as the 'Anti-Murder-Your-Face' magic fades away. She follows Amy into the mouth of hell near Sailor Moon, happy to be up front like a proper knight.

She doesn't respond to the unspoken out, both too angry and worried to even ponder flight. There's people that need saving. It's an easy choice, really.

She does ponder the non-sensicality of it all. "Und then we strive forward! The knave shall make itself known, if we needs carve through all of its' minions to do so!" Comes Tragar, very nearly snarling. Something about this Witch has her upset. Rather personally so. A deep breath. She has to focus.

It doesn't help that as they get inside? Every reading is /off/! The very air makes her nauseous, and she coughs and hacks, looking /very/ green for a moment. The magic feels horrible. Corrupted even.

It does save her from any worry over the fact they're high up in the air over who knows what. Even a Wide Area Search can't reach that far down. Lyra and her suddenly start floating however.

<Fluss: Aufhellen>

That's better. She briefly considers giving the others her boon, but people not used to gravity magics have a tendency to be worse off. She doesn't want people floating off into the hell-ether.

"This place smells like evil." Spits Hannah even as she grips her blade tightly. Her entire body is tense. She's /never/ one to be anxious when fighting's involved, but this place is /wrong/ and it makes her skin crawl. Despite the urge, she keeps Blauer Greif's sensoren suite active. She needs the data inload to survive here if Madoka and Amy's words are anything to go by.

Hinote Kagari has posed:
Hinote will be following in behind Princess Runealy. It's times like this he wishes he was the dashing knight of his dreams because he could actually do something about this problem, maybe but instead he'll just have to put up the brave facade. He's good at this, he's an actor.

Oh god this is trippy. Now, Hinote knocked his head really hard when he fell off stage before and the colors and world looked like this. Only this time he isn't in a near concussion. He blinks as strange shadow people in the stands all Zero in on him... for a moment. Until he realizes what he's on and he freezes and maintains his balance as best he can. Which is pretty good. Drama training, go!

Okay there's a little flailing but he doesn't fall to his death. "Okay. We should uh. Go. There. Right?" he asks, looking to the ring, quickly, before looking to maintain his balance on the careful braided wires.

Coco Kiumi has posed:
The odd sensation of entering the labyrinth surrounds Coco for her second time as reality starts breaking down and reassembling like it was vacuumed then replaced by malevolent energy that took shape into something that passingly resembled normal reality. The sickly light threatens to give her a headache as the impossibility of the labyrinth just shouts to her the aberration of this space.

Coco summons the Live Stage around her, the white light providing some comfort to her mind against this eerie reality, a corner of peace that is the closest thing to normal reality she has here, breathing a sigh of relief as soon as the sphere has taken its place around her. 'I'm not sure if I want to get used to this place', she thinks, wondering what implications it would have once she came back to normal reality.

Now that she has gotten a bit of her peace of mind back, she looks around at the the structure of the place, picking note of what must be this witch's minions first. "Be careful about those shadows, everyone. It probably doesn't need to be said, but they could attack us too, not just what awaits in the circus. In fact even the most unsuspecting thing here could be a deadly trap, no matter if it looks like an inanimate object or something resembling a living being. That was the case with the other witch I fought."

Having given that warning, Coco looks at the trapeze wire that is supposed to lead them forward. At least this is simple enough for her, simply willing the Live Stage forward as it overs above the path provided by the rope. In the meanwhile, she figures she should start singing, providing the others some kind of mental security against the eeriness permeating this place. "Legend of Mermaid: Pichi Pichi Voice, Live Start!"


The magical melody starts picking a fight with the otherworldly nature of this place, as much as it can to provide some peace to the other people in the labyrinth. The mermaid princess keeps dancing and singing as the Live Stage keeps hovering forward, accompanying everyone and using the music of her voice to kindle a sparkle of serenity in the witch's labyrinth.

Usagi Tsukino has posed:
Red is right about one thing - this isn't reality. Cause and effect, as Runealy so thoughtfully asks, cannot necessarily be associated with one another in this place, where the world is not quite what it seems. As the intrepid group of would-be-witch-slayers cross the trapeze, they'll find that they never manage to outpace the audience - there are always bleachers and there is always an audience, staring at Hinote. It never seems to thicken or thin - it's almost as if there's a texture over the universe, one that dictates the exact number of audience members a circus should have and imposes it on the world around them.

Already tense with the unnerving tableau around them, Sailor Moon takes Red's sighing and tense explanations with ill grace, barely holding back from snapping at the other girl. "Well, we can't just stand around here, can we? Even if the world doesn't work the way we're used to, we've still got to do something to get that Witch to come out, right? At least if we're walking, we're doing something."

Standing around, doing nothing, waiting for something to happen - they don't have time for that, not when this creature is hunting people. It doesn't sound like Red is much more familiar with any of this than Sailor Moon herself, honestly, and if that's the case, she has to fall back on her own instincts - instincts which say that killing the monster has always solved the problem before. As long as they find the enemy, they'll be able to save the day. That's all they have to do. Find the Witch, slay the Witch, gone home.

But - Red does have a point. Because while the staring, creepy audience might not be so bad at second glance, they are at least consistent. As the group progresses along the wires, they'll quickly realize the rest of the world is not so consistnet - the wooden pillars holding up the circus tent shift and move, rising and falling - the roof never falls with them, never shakes, but as they move along, more and more pillars begin to shift around, as if dancing along to Yellow Pearl Voice's cheerful song.

It's almost cute, in as much as anything can be cute in this horrible place, and Sailor Moon looks back at the magical girl she still doesn't know - the one who'd spoken up for that boy - and realizes that she should probably exchange names with the girl, because she's the only fighter here she doesn't know. "I'm Sailor Moon. This is a weird time for introductions, but there's enough of us girls here that I really don't want to have to yell, 'duck girl' if something comes after you, and I've gotten to know everyone else here at least a bit -" sorry, Red Princess! This is the best introduction you'll get today. As the Red Princess' words about circus register, Sailor Moon shakes her head, frustration pinching her mouth. "This whole place is a betrayal of what a circus is supposed to be. It's a place where families and friends come to make memories and watch amazing shows, not this - this awful place that tricks people into coming and hurts them, and lets them go just to do it again, over and over." Because that's what this place does, according to her little brother. He'd come three times, with his friends, watching the show because it was the only thing that made him feel anything, even if every single time he got closer and closer to dying. This Witch - that was her fault. And Sailor Moon is going to stop her. Even if that means slowly inching her way along the trapeze wire, arms and legs wobbling as she miraculously keeps from tipping over into endless darkness. "Like Hannah-chan said, it's a coward. But the circus... even if this place doesn't make any sense to us - and it really doesn't, the beams are dancing - it's not just a circus for no reason, right?"

Usagi Tsukino has posed:
The Live Stage adds color to the grim red lighting of the circus, interrupting the heavy shadows. A breeze shifts, wafting the scent of burning cloth over them, and Sailor Moon freezes for a moment as something - shifts, in the darkness, and then - one of the banners overhead falls directly in front of her, the fabric alight with twisting flames. It narrowly misses the trapeze braid they're walking upon. "Look out! One of the banners -"

Before she can finish the warning, another banner falls, this one landing within the orb of the livestage, burning just feet from Yellow Pearl Voice. That fire is probably the least of their concerns though, because with the banner has fallen - something, which falls right through the livestage. There might only be a brief second where they can see it - a ball of flame the size of an adult's head with flailing legs of candlewick.

Before anyone can breathe a sigh of relief at the close call, another appears, and another, And it's not alone, others appearing in bursts of painful brightness all around them, as if someone were using a lighter to burn them into existence right there onto the trapeze wires strung up all throughout the circus.

With a closer look, the group can see that these things don't look like fire should, doesn't move like the result of a chemical reaction should or give off warm light. Instead, looking directly at this fire burns the eyes, like looking directly at the sun. It's almost like the fire is burning through reality, every time anyone catches eyes on it - as if this world were a two dimensional drawing, and the flames are burning holes through it. Strange script seems to crawl across the 'screen' of the world, seemingly emblazoned on the eye directly, and though none of these visitors should recognize the script, all can understand that it reads FLAMBEBE.

Sailor Moon nearly topples off the trapeze wire in a scramble to put distance between her and the creatures.

"What the - did you all - did you all see those letters? What are those things -"

And as if her voice had startled them, the flambebe start running, flames spitting and spilling from their bodies as they do, setting the trapeze wires all around them ablaze. One crashes into a wooden pillar, and the whole pillar goes up in flames that start to leap to yet more banners.

The shadowy audience starts to scream in terror. The flambebe don't seem to be attacking anyone on purpose - but the fire is spreading, and the heat it gives off promises that for all it's strange looks, it will burn.

Amanda Faust has posed:
(Amy merely nodded solemnly at each in turn as they refuse to turn back, like she expected.)

> So are even cause and effect broken???
    'Red' can only shrug. "I'd advise keeping your mind open to the possibility. Don't assume something can't happen just because it's impossible. ...I guess that's not very helpful..."

> This place smells like evil.
    "I mean, it's anathemeic to our existence... and we it. Although, I don't know how your 'sense evil' power works..."

> We should uh. Go. There. Right?
    Amy can still only shrug. "That does seem to be everyone's natural inclination. Whether it will cause effects we desire is unclear. Causes may not lead to the effects we're used to... but this place may have *other* rules, all the same. If we're going there, we're 'going there'. I'm not sure what decides if that leads to us 'getting there', 'being lost', 'being accosted by malevolent creatures', or, perhaps, having to go through a series of trials and tribulations and challenges in order to reach 'there' and uh wow now that I thought of it that one *really* feels right. But it's just a feeling."

> ANYTHING could be an enemy!
    Amy is grateful for the sure footing of the Live Stage, dismissing her launcher for the moment. If someone asks for it as a balancing pole, she explains that it's much heavier for everyone else. As Yellow warns about the shadows she looks like she wants to say something, but Yellow's further warnings seem to cover and she nods in agreement that ANYTHING could be a danger. Amy bobs to the song, on edge.

The party float/walks forward and doesn't seem to be *getting* anywhere. Amy, at least, kind of expected that to happen. It *would*, after all, serve the Witch for mortals to just waste away lost in its Labyrinth.

    She nods at Usagi though. "Yeah. Doing something is probably better than doing nothing. ...Doing nothing won't advance the 'story', if that's the logic this place runs on."

> This is indeed a betrayal of what a circus is!
    Amy shrugs. "Does 'circus' have any meaning to an alien fey being from outside reality? I don't know why a circus is what we see. Is it something about the Witch that decides it? Something about us? Something about humans in general? For all I know, maybe the... maybe the real..." She fumbles for words, "As much as this place can be a *type* of place like 'circus' or 'grocery store' or 'office building' or 'school' or 'park'... Perhaps the type of place it is is 'a-place-that-should-be-comfortable-but-isn't' and could just as well as appeared as a threatening library or amusement park or arcade or beach or something."

    The discussion is interrupted by falling, burning banners. The red Puella Magi has some kind of FPS rocket gun in her hands in an instant, firing non-detonating rockets to try and catch the banners and carry them away.

> Familiars?
    "That's not good..." but Amy's instincts are still observing, not attacking. She knows so little about this place.

    Until she sees the BOSS TITLES.

    "Waitwaitwait! Boss titles?! Already?! Is this the Witch?!" She levels the rocket launcher at the closest one, but... "Wait, how can I blow up things made of fire?" but then also: "...Oh wait, that kind of logic only applies in *Reality*."

    Tightropes burn. "Everybody onto the Live Stage!" Amy calls, as she starts firing small explosive rockets at the flambebe. It's a science experiment, which will matter more? That her tool creates explosions of flame? Or that it is a weapon made to violently destroy and kill?

Runealy Waldia has posed:
"Does evil have a particular scent?" Rune asks Hannah, looking up to face her while wire-crossing. Every so often, she glances back to Hinote to make sure the 'shadow performers' aren't deciding to jump him. Coco's advice draws a raised eye, too. "We are to be wary of literally everything, then?" Her tone is soft, taking any edge of sarcasm or hostility out of the question - Rune really is asking, not snarking.

When Sailor Moon asks for introductions, Rune is patient and willing to provide. "Understandable," She listens to the rest of Sailor Moon's justification and starts to return the introduction... then Sailor Moon gives a heartfelt explanation of both what should be the case and why this circus is deeply wrong.

Something about Sailor Moon's words causes Rune to lower her gaze, eyes lidding somewhat. "So it mocks the stage, and those who use it to spread happiness. Regardless... you may refer to me as 'the Red Princess', or 'Rune', whichever you prefer."

Then things get very tense. Impossible terrain, impossible fires and only vaguely sensible outcomes to them. "I believe we all see that bizarre script, yet it is hardly our most pressing problem!" Rune decides to quote her late mother's advice, thinking it fits the situation as fires spread: "Take action! Hesitation will cause someone's demise... your own, or an innocent person's!"

Her boot wings glow with a silver-blue light, launching her off the wire and landing on one of the pillars. This is effectively leaping from one fire to another, but the pillar at least gives her more room to stand even if she will likely need to abandon it very soon. Aiming her staff at one of the flambebe, the princess launches a green orb at it. If the orb strikes, it 'explodes' on contact, leaving emerald mist instead of black smoke!

Even as the orb flies, Rune leaps toward the Live Stage as Amy suggested... and stares at the effects caused by Amy's attack. Something about it draws a breathy gasp from the alien princess, even if she's not saying exactly what it is.

Hannah Steiner has posed:
The Tragar finds herself grateful for the soothing melody and feeling of light on her back as she trudges forward in this odd Barrier - or so she calls it for her own grip on sanity. She's still tense, but at least she looks less like she's immediately about to hit anything that breathes on her. Yellow Pearl Voice is given a smile vaguely to the sound of her beautiful voice!

Sailor Moon being /snappy/ is new, but frankly she can't blame her. It's not like her own conduct thus far is entirely up to snuff. She also has a point.

"Tragar des Blauer Greif, mein freunds. Acht, we are all tense as a silk scarf. Sankt walk beside us. We may well need Her Benevolence." Introduces the young woman with a brilliant but rather forced smile.

She also realizes she knows most of the people here in this form to various degrees, but politeness and protocol is /calming/!

Fire should not walk! Fire should not have legs. The Belkan Knight decides she /hates/ this place even more than she already did. Also things are now on fire, and it doesn't take much imagination for fire-with-legs to find the very wires that have them not falling to their doom. She's suddenly wishing Nanoha was here. This really is a job for an Aerial Ace! The Steiner is just a floaty Belkan Knight!

Amy gets a shrug. "Not a 'sense' so much as gut feeling. All the sensoren is wrong. Broken." Huffs Hannah lightly. It doesn't make sense. Clearly nothing is right, and she cannot stand it!

The Red Princess' words has her laughing mirthlessly. "Breathe in more mein fraulein! Und you shall likely choke on the scent!" Her words aren't angry, but a stressed joke tossed around to try to ease up the other young woman's heart as she beams at her in that incredibly amiable, yet to one used to Court politics? Forced manner. She's keeping it together for the sake of morale. This place is Bad!

Hannah doesn't bother with attacking. No, they need to get to that center stage, and time is of the essence. So she and Lyra leap backwards, floating down nearby Yellow Pearl Voice. If allowed, she'll gently grip the young woman's shoulder as herself, her Device, and her Companion flare up with magical power as they work in unison.

"Mein freunds! With frau YPV! Let us fly upon the winds, as the Greifens of eld that we may bring Justice to the fell beast before us all! Sankt Kaiser grant us the swiftness of the Cradle!" Encourages Hannah, clearly liking Amy's ideas. And once they've all made their choice!

She mouths 'trust me' to Yellow Pearl Voice and holds her Device's tip forwards towards their destination.

A gravity well begins to form at the tip of her weapon. This....isn't the small one she usually uses. No, it just keeps growing and growing and Hannah's gritting her teeth to keep the thing from veering off course and sending them all very rapidly into the darkness below. With a sweaty brow, she crosses one leg, leans back as if this is /nothing at all/ to a member of House Steiner, and then violently thrusts the thing in the air towards the stage.

"I am the center of gravity! All shall move at mein will! BLAUER GREIF!"

<Warning: Linker Core heat exchange exceeding...>

"Und what part of that was /asking/?" Comes Hannah rather piqued in the moment.

<Fluss: Anlocken EX>

<Please maintain proper links with fellow gravitically aligned persons to avoid potentially lethal results> Adds Blauer Greif dourly, as that massive ball of gravity tries to attract those gracing the Live Stage faster and faster and faster in it's wake of being a very quickly moving gravity well that Hannah's just decided to toss in front of them in an affect to out-run all the fire around them before that trapeze gives way or they all burn to death.

Hannah immediately loses her hat, and has to work some extra magic so she doesn't choke on her own cape as gravity is very, very harshly /forward/!

Hinote Kagari has posed:
Tiny flames with legs show themselves after banners fall around and he flails a little. Youmas!? That's, that's some strange aerial text, but still, he has to hurry up, hurry up because if he doesn't, the world below is gonna become a nothing burger and he doesn't wanna eat it.

Still, when Amy says leap for the live stage, what does she mean!? Does she mean... Yellow Peral Voice's hovering platform, well, he'll leap for it and crawl onto it with hurry as he scooches quickly to the center of it and brushes off his suit a moment, as he swallows.

"Alright. I'm on it." he says dramatically.

"I'm on the stage. Where I belong. I might add." he chuffs.

Coco Kiumi has posed:
Coco doesn't like at all when the pillars start reacting positively to her song. She starts beginning to wonder if her songs would even provide some use against the witch of this labyrinth if she can enjoy the magical music of her pearl. There isn't a whole lot she can do except continuing to sing for the rest of the group while eyeing the pillar with worry. She gives a nod to Runealy at her question, hoping the Red Princess won't mind if she replies by that method.

Things are going calmly despite the eerily accepting pillars, but soon something in the labyrinth seems to change its mind, sending a minion of the witch at the Live Stage. The fire familiar of course, plummets down through the Live Stage, since nobody authorised it to make use of its magic. 'Oh, darn it!' Coco thinks when more of the creatures start falling everywhere and attaching to literally everything, setting it on fire in the process.

Amy is quick on her feet, urging everyone to get on the Live Stage to get away from the flames of the circus. Coco smiles at the rest of them, worry in her eyes, to urge them to get inside while she keeps singing to try and keep away from them the malicious effects of the labyrinth.

She is about to push along the Live Stage with as much urgency as she can muster when Hannah warns about setting a gravity point with her spell towards which they would be all attracted. The spell does exactly as it was advertised, pulling them all towards the point. Knowing that timing is of the essence here, Coco dispels the Live Stage herself as soon as they start being attracted, then quickly reforming it once they have all been sucked by Hannah's spell at the destination point.

"Is everyone all right?" she asks once they safer than they were before, taking a few breaths to recover from the experience.

Usagi Tsukino has posed:
The Red Princess - Rune, she's definitely Rune-chan, now that that's on the table - serious, but in a sincere way rather than a stuffy one. Sailor Moon thinks she could like her a lot, if they make it out of here. A big if, with the world on fire.

Red is making a suggestion - the live stage - and without better ideas, Sailor Moon goes for it, hopping up and onto the livestage to get away from the erupting flames.

The flambebes continue to run around, lighting fire to everything their bodies touch - they jump and hop and run about, and as they do, merry laughter echoes from their flaming bodies, as if they were giggling school children. A group of them are still giggling when Red's rockets strike - the rockets explode and the flambebe - it explodes too, into dozens of tiny flames the size of a single pinky finger, wriggling about like worms on every surface they've landed on.

Plenty fail to land anywhere, wriggling little flames falling into the endless nothingness - but others fall atop members of the shadow audience, of the bleachers. The screams of terror amp up as those shadow figures touched by the tiny scraps of flambebe - well, they don't burn. Burning is too simple a word for it, brings to mind flesh, or wood. Instead, the shadows write as light burns through them, as if they were pieces of black paper, and the tiny scraps of familiar were embers alighting and eating away at their very being, holes spreading until the shadow figures affected are simply - gone. Dust on the smoke-filled wind.

une's attack is more effective - the green mist that erupts when the orb strikes the flambebe seems to smother the flame - burnt candlewick falls away from the mist.

Sailor Moon grimaces upon seeing the different effects of the two attacks. "Red! Your attacks are spreading the fire - we've got to do something that snuffs them out; come back!"

All around them, the flames are intensifying - more and more flambebe appearing, the world starting to burn away. Flames climb the pillar the Red Princess stands upon, reaching to the ceiling of the world - the tent - and setting it aflame.

Piercing spots of light appear, as the metal-fabric ceiling burns away in tatters, threatening to cave - no! Actually caving in on them, metal-fabric falling from the sky with a screech and letting in a burst of light that will have most of them blinking away spots as the Livestage, with all of them on it, is launched forward by Tragar des Blauer Greif's command of gravity.

The circus burns to the ground.

When the gravity spell ends, and they are done blinking away spots - Lyra may be blinking them for Hannah - the Livestage is resting in the center of the ring, the red overhead lights beaming down directly onto it. And the circus, which had burned so readily - is pristine and new.

The audience cheers as if they had never screamed for terror. The roof stands strong and fresh, clean. The wooden pillars are strong and sturdy, unmarred by flame, and the scene of smoke is gone from the air.

Usagi Tsukino has posed:
Sailor Moon sinks down for a moment, overwhelmed with relief. "What - happened?"

But it's not a question any of them are likely to have an answer too.

The large ring is more than enough to contain the livestage, and up close as they are now, they can see that it really does appear to be made of paper - and yet, it's clearly not just folded. It's a circus ring, strong and sturdy, but, to the eye it looks like nothing more than papercraft. It's disorienting - Sailor Moon slides off the livestage and onto the ground, looking this way and that. "Those... flambebe things are gone now, but who knows when they'll come back, or why this place burned. And look -"

She points. In the distance, they can see another ring. And another. An endless line of rings, stretching as far as the eye can see. Red lights, papercraft, all in different colors, but under the same terrible red lights. The labyrinth could go on infinitely. "Did we just buy ourselves time? Maybe we went so fast, we outran the fire and it's going to catch up?" She genuinely doesn't know. Is this a breather, or just a - another threat?

Amanda Faust has posed:
    When Hinote saus the stage is where he belongs, Amy rolls her eyes but smiles good-naturedly.

    Flambebe sounds like a Legend of Zelda enemy.

    That doesn't have any significance, probably, but it's a thought that floats through Amy Faust's mind.

    The german-sounding magical girl swears by the Sankt just like Hannah does! Amy has to wonder if they're both from the same part of Germany, whatever a Sankt is. Although her brain autosuggests it to be followed by 'Kaiser'.

    ...Not that there's time to really ruminate on that now, though!

    Rockets DO explode fire enemies. Good! Amy looks at the 'audience', cocking her head to one side slightly as the shadow-people have Unreality burn through them. "Huh!" The sensation of another reality-- err, unreality, outside this one, is intriguing. Amy wonders if, perhaps, THAT'S the Witch's lair, and they need to damage the area around them enough to break through?

    She's no more horrified at their fate than someone is when the crowd of NPCs in their videogame starts to glitch into the floor and fall out of reality. They're not people. A circus is supposed to have an audience and so 'an audience' is there, but they have no more reality or personhood to them than the words 'an audience is there' on a page. Or a screen. They're literally scenery. Almost certainly. Red's not going to think *too* hard about that.

    By the time Sailor Moon calls to her, she'd already stopped to observe this phenomenon for a few seconds. "Are you sure?" She calls back. "I think burning this area away to get at what's... behind, or around, or.... *after* it, might be how we reach the Witch."

    The german magical girl is doing a thing, and then they're all falling down, and down is sideways. In the back of her mind Amy can understand what happened, but GODS IT FEELS SO WEIRD. She can't stop herself from scrabbling uselessly at the surface of the Live Stage to hold on, only to push herself off it and begin to slooowly drift away from it like she's in zero-G, and all of her instincts are screaming YOU'RE FALLING YOU'RE FALLING YOU'RE FALLING AAAAAAAAH

    --and then she's on the Live Stage again. And trying to dig her fingers into it in case she 'falls' again. She kind of needs a moment to, to, to...

    She kind of needs a moment.

    As Amy notices the circus is now un-burned, and Usagi asks what happened, Amanda muses, "If the front of a book catches on fire and burns away part of the book before it's put out, the later pages aren't burned just because the pages before them are."

    It seems she *does* get a moment, to catch her breath, and slowly stand. The red Magi looks at the series of rings leading into the distance. "...I mean... we *did* burn our way forward, maybe..." And then holds out her hands in a 'woah, woah' gesture when she's no doubt scolded for that thought. "BUT, I wouldn't try that *first*." She looks to the german magical girl. "What if you do the Gravity thing again to try and take us to another ring? Should we see what happens?"

Runealy Waldia has posed:
Rune keeps an eye on Hinote's dive to the stage, and raises a curious brow at his comment. "Indeed?" It is inquiry, not a swipe at him. Then to Hannah, "If nothing else, I endeavor not to inhale smoke!" She does her best to remain on the stage as well, confused as it seems to be moving in sync with Hannah's efforts - even if the princess does not fully understand the relation, she gets the idea: 'Getting off the Stage may be hazardous to your health. Especially at these speeds!'

"Well enough," Rune confirms to Coco before her gaze wanders - the wince-inducing lights, the ongoing changes to the circus itself, it's all very confusing. For someone who was saying 'do not hesitate', the princess is doing quite a bit of it because she's having to try to figure out what is even happening. "I have scant better idea than you!," she admits to Sailor Moon.

"Regardless, being caught in a pincer between a blaze, the 'flambebe', and whatever else is at hand sounds unwise." Amy points out some interesting things about what happened with the circus, and Rune tilts her head down in thought a moment before remarking: "Then we should proceed either by employing flame, or by moving along - I shall support whichever approach we decide upon."

Hannah Steiner has posed:
Hannah is fairly certain she's about to be reduced to a very expensive piece of royal meat, but such is not to be! Light dazzles everyone, Lyra included, save her. She has to stop this gravity-train with her heels, which ends with much grinding, a headache, and said headache redoubling as she stumbles forward and immediately trips on her landing hat, face straight to the ground.

Lyra helpfully tugs Hannah back up, puts her now thoroughly abused hat back on her head, and Hannah uses a little gravity magic to plug her bleeding nose. Leaning on her Device, she laughs far-too-loudly!

"Und...so it seems we have, Sailor Moon! Acht, mein heart seeks to leap from mein chest! Well done, all of you! Is everyone alive und mostly not reduced to cinders?" There's more laughing. This is the sound of someone under deep stress and letting it off while being elated at the /rush/ of still being alive after their escape.

The Steiner royal is no more certain of actual safety than Sailor Moon is, to be frank, but she's certainly trying to /project/ confidence for the group at large. Standing straight, she oddly returns her blade to its' sheath. Several vents open up along the sides of Blauer Greif, and soon with a light shimmer along both her own and Lyra's body, said vents are blowing out steam from the sheer magical effort she's put into things. She's not a Puella, and so can't 'perish' from magical overuse, but building up too much stress or in her case too much magical 'heat' is certainly a concern. Drawing out her blade again, briefly she looks like she's about to try to cut the very fabric of the Witch's reality away at Amy's words, but thankfully her liebling has better sense than to let the more enthusiastic members of the local Lance start throwing hands.

A deep breath. Amy's plan seems solid, and so after a moment to telepathically confer with her Device? She nods gently.

"So long as it does not exceed our previous distance? I can keep doing such a thing from ring to ring...Assuming..." Scowl.

<Wide Area Search> Comes Hannah's Device in Space German, and the duo converge on a quick bout of magical space magic.

"Whom knew the Warrior of the Moon und our fire-support based engel would be so demanding! Luckily for all of you, by mein honor, I shall spare no expense." Her beaming smile is tempered quickly. There's lives on the line.

"Shall we?" She asks the group, awaiting a group decision, even as she's already floating up off the ground and aiming for the first-next ring. A deep breath, and Blauer Grief shuts down a few unnecessary, and one or two debatably necessary sensoren to allow for multiple such jumps. This will be a bit more efficient, controlled now that they have data.

But from the sheen to Hannah's brow, this is going to take her everything. Lyra is hovering near her Herrin, claws flexing, knowing she'll be the only 'shield' for her during each Gravity Jump between rings.

Hinote Kagari has posed:
Hinote Kagari is too busy being flung to his butt and holding on for dear life as the live stage zooms forward and soon there's a bright light as the entire strange world burns away and--- they're back in.. another ring? The same ring but reformed? And there's cheering?

What exactly is going on here.

"Maybe this is a new act." he says bluntly. "Indeed! I'm an actor. I belong on the stage." he says. Then he considers. "Anyways! maybe, First comes the flames then...."

"Then..." he swallows. "Then..." he goes green in the face.

He then quickly crawls to the edge of the live stage and begins getting sick off the edge because poor mundane bodily systems we're not made for this.

Coco Kiumi has posed:
While they were being launched by Hannah's spell, Coco was doing all she could to resist the urge of closing her eyes as they were being dragged through the air without the comfort of her Live Stage. Once they are safely in its perimeters, Coco looks around confused as the the world around them is suddenly fine.

"I take it back. Gaito got nothing on these. They are all one more insane than the others", she says, shaking her head at the catastrophic events that they had to live through. She decides that no, she is not going to step out of the Live Stage, and you are going to have to push her by force to make her leave the sanctity of her sphere.

"That spell was crazy stuff, Tragar", she smiles at her fellow magical girl. She was quite scared during it, but fact is "That was genius thinking. I don't want to think about what would have happened if you hadn't pulled us at this exact stop", she tells Hannah. Whatever the device mage, she starts studying the rings that follow each other rapidly. "Do you think that was just stage one of the circus performance and it disappeared because we completed it successfully?", she asks the rest of the group. "Then these rings are the next", she gazes at them pondering.

She looks back at the group when everyone proposes their plan. Coco is worried about both Amy's and Hannah's plans, though in the former case it's because how bad of an idea it is. In Hannah's case, she can clearly see the gravity spell took a lot out of her. 'I don't think you look that good, Tragar', she thinks to herself, gazing worringly at the tired magical girl.

"I think we should preserve our strength for now. We aren't being chased by any flames or things like that for now, so I suggest we all ride on my Live Stage." She looks around at the other people, trying to ascertain the reception of her idea. "It's not the fastest thing ever, but using it costs me nothing, so I think it's the wisest move."

Usagi Tsukino has posed:
They all made it through. Everyone's healthy and alive and safe, and that's the most important thing, even if Sailor Moon has absolutely no idea of what the hell is going on. This world of the Witch is confusing, discombobulating, and utterly bewildering, but they all made it, and they have to keep making it. Tragar had pulled them out of the frier, but looking at her...

"Another jump sounds like a good idea, but can you really keep pushing like that, Tragar-chan? Not that you're weak! But a power to launch all of us forward can't be easy!"

And they haven't even made it to the boss fight. The Witch herself is still somewhere in this claptrap circus; is it a good idea to use up so much of Tragar-chan's' strength like this? But on the other hand, staying here in the Witch's domain, just wandering about, doesn't seem to be working either. The audience is the audience is the audience, ever present near them, and now that they're actually in the rings, they're farther away, but not that much farther. If they're going to get away...

It's times like this that she wishes she could loan her strength; she has plenty of it, and none of it useful without anyone to fight.

But then, as if her thoughts and words had summoned it, comes the resounding echo of circus music, drifting towards them. The crowd grows frenzied with their interest and excitement, and Sailor Moon stiffens up, wondering what will come next.

"I don't think we have a lot of time to decide. Maybe we got here early, maybe we burned through part of the world - or maybe that's just how things work here, or, I don't know, but the music picking up probably isn't a good thing!"

They have to make a decision. Sailor Moon will support anything, but Tragar's actions - perhaps combined with the fire, perhaps in separation - did get them far.

Runealy Waldia has posed:
"This could well be a situation where one of us exerting themselves to the utmost, to prevent us from being bogged down in senseless battles, is wise," Rune comments aside to Sailor Moon. "If we choose that path, then providing for her protection both now and upon arrival would be our utmost priority!"

As the music rises and the crowd's interest grows, the alien princess goes tense; she begins pacing the stage with staff in hand, looking around in every direction to wait for attacks that may be coming sooner rather than later... and regularly glancing aside to Hannah, quietly concerned regardless of what decision the group makes on how far to push her.

Amanda Faust has posed:
    Trager is preparing to jump again already? Amy gets into position on the Live Stage, bracing herself. But Coco is concerned. "I honestly don't know that slow or fast, or aiming for those 'rings' or not, *matters*. I guess we should try the easiest thing first, and move onto each backup plan if it doesn't work.

    Red Princess points out the opposite, and Amy rubs the side of her head, thinking. "That could also be the key. Someone trying as hard as they can, regardless of the method. We just don't *know*. I'm down for seeing if the Live Stage works first, then jumping if it looks like not."

Hannah Steiner has posed:
Hannah's teeth grit. She's sweating. And fairly certain she can /feel/ a frankly inadvisable temperature in her Linker Core. The intelligent thing to do would be to find some other workable, sensible plan rather than keep going like this.

Of course then wonderful, caring, amazing Sailor Moon wields her empathy...well, rather gently as it turns out. She is also entirely correct. A spell only half-complete doesn't help matters either, but, at least she now knows it's not going to instantly kill them all. That's something.

Unfortunately the Steiner noble hears the words 'can you really keep pushing like that', and basically nothing else in those sentences actually registers.

The rising of the crowd only cements her decision, her brow visibly twitches in rage, and her mind can only translate all of that as a /challenge/!

Rune also speeds things along by both agreeing with the premise, and also making the fatal mistake of insinuating she won't be able to defend herself. Which is sensible, but again, a Steiner isn't going to let that go unchallenged!

"In the name of the Sankt Kaiser, I tire of this cowardly debatte! Attend me!!! FORWARD TO GLORY FOR HOUSE UND HONOR!" Comes the Trager as she strikes a proud, royal pose, both she and Lyra are suddenly floating, and the gravity well that's forming atop her Device is....big. Bigger than the last one. She is pointing in a rather obvious arc straight towards the center of the place. And just to add a bit more oomph as she washes everyone in a wave of gravitics?

Her legs audibly flex as she prepares for liftoff!

When everyone's all grouped up? It's like being in a rocket ship that's soon tipped /down/ in that expansive arc, with Hannah at the fore, gravity well like some kind of warhead tip aimed for whatever may lay beyond!

Coco Kiumi has posed:
Coco is waiting to see what the others think of her idea when the music picks up again. Seems like the Witch really intends to leave them no pause. Guess Trager's idea it's gonna be even if she is loathe to the idea of tiring her even more.

"Since that crowd is metaphorically on fire, there really is no other solution", Coco comments, trying to ignore the unnerving melody that is quite getting under her skin. To Yellow Pearl Voice, that's the antithesis of her being, and while it's strong enough to paralyse her, it's still a thorn she can't remove from her side.

'My song would help her in this circumstance, but I wouldn't be able to employ its magic since I an supposed to be outside the Live Stage for good part of it', she offers herself some musings, looking at Trager with worry over the recklessness the noble is demonstrating.

"Trager, a normal one is good, nobody is doubting what you are capable of", she says with worry at the sight of the spell's size, one second before everyone is launched towards the gravity well. Much like before, Yellow Pearl Voice picks everyone up by forming the Live Stage around them once at their destination. She also takes this opportunity to sing Legend of Mermaid, helping Trager with her fatigue by singing of the paradise of the seven seas where the mother wished that everyone would journey on a miracle-filled adventure.

Usagi Tsukino has posed:
In hindsight, Sailor Moon can recognize that implying Hannah can't do something is the numbner one way to ensure she absolutely does it. Wasn't that how she'd been convinced to throw a full power Moon Tiara Action at her, once upon a time? But Sailor Moon hadn't been possessed of the power of hindsight when she made the comment.

She's regretting that, now - Tragar-chan's power is even greater than before, and the effect is even more disorienting - to those on the Live Stage, it may feel as though they the gravity well is a fishing line, and they the unruly fish being snatched by the hook. Sailor Moon cries out, equal parts shock and panic as the force of acceleration knocks her off of her feet. "Wait, Ms. Tragar-chan -!"

The music of the circus rises to a discordant crescendo, a fever pitch of sound and noise and should anyone look behind them, they'll see a pair of strange creatures entering the ring from walkways that surely weren't there before. Orange and white, striped with black, the creature look almost like tigers - only... folded. Living origami, moving in unnatural stops and starts, and staring with round, painted eyes, getting smaller and smaller as the spells carries them away.

The world blurs.

The world b l u r s.

The gravity well was larger this time, the spell taking everything the caster was willing to offer, and in this twisted hell-maze of a circus, that kind of drive, that kind of desire, does not go unrecognized. It does not go unrewarded.

For a certain meaning of the concept of reward, anyway. As the world narrows to a singular point - as the group of magical girls and lone human are flung forward through space - there is the sound of fabric tearing, or paper shearing, of rope snapping, of the very concept of breaking.

And when they finally come to a stop, Yellow Pearl Voice's Live Stage formed around them protectively, they are no longer in the rings. They are in fact, no longer even on the ground. No, the Live Stage rests, improbably, atop a single, narrow strand of wire, and all around them swing wooden bars, connected by more of the delicate wires - they have left the ring and returned to the realm of trapeze artists -

And they are not alone.

The Ring Master is with them.

The Witch.

There is no face, no head at all that they can see - instead, at their eye level, is the great top hat, so black it appears as a hole in space, eradicating light, defined more by it's lack of presence than anything. A ribbon of flame dances at the base, only highlighting the eerie non-presences of that hat. The rest of her is no less unsettling - the Witch is a long, distored figure, limbs like pulled taffy, stretched and twisting. Her torso is hidden by a crimson jacket, burning incessantly, and her flesh is the color of cardboard.

In one hand, raised high above her head, she wields a whip the length of two football fields, a match to her towering height. In the other, a megaphone, the bright piercing white of the mundanity of the plastic at odds with unrelentingly bizarre nature of the Witch's domain. Far below stretch her legs, stiff and still, as if they were stilts.

Sailor Moon gawps at the creature, frozen in terror for a moment, unable to even conceive of fighting such a collasal beast - the Witch's tophat is twice her size. From the top of that empty-black hat to the far below ground where her feet rest, she is easily building height - over a hundred feet (thirty meters) easily. Her voice is only barely above a whisper. "That's - that's what went after Shingo?"

Usagi Tsukino has posed:
The hand with the whip is the most pressing concern - because just as these intrepid fighters may be regaining their wits and getting to their feet, the Witch strikes, snapping her whip with a crack like a hundred bursts of thunder, and snapping the cord on which the Live Stage rests. Even if the stage is able to suspend them, it's a long way to the ground - unless they make the perilous trip to the wooden bars for the trapeze artists, they'll be forced to fight in close quarters, far from the enemy.

Even as Yellow Pearl Voice sings her song of strength and encouragement, the circus music picks up it's pace, blitzing along like a sped-up record. The Witch crows, a voice like shattering glass crooning at them wordlessly as a riot of flame dances atop the ceiling, the circus tent's roof once more ablaze.

There will be no running this time. There will be no clever escape. They have found the heart of this place.

There is no way out but victory. There is no one who can save them but themselves.

If these heroes wish to triumph - wish to live - then they must defeat her!

The Witch of Control - Zazel van Amburgh!

Runealy Waldia has posed:
Rune tenses anew in the face of redirected gravity, going to a knee as the stage moves. She continues to quickly look in every direction she can, uncomfortable from the acceleration and the music alike.

Reality continuing to shift in bizarre ways is equally unnerving, and the princess' eyes go wide as the Witch absolutely towers over them. Very little of its figure makes sense to her - the Witch is enormous, with fashion that is only vaguely familiar to her, and a whip multiple times Rune's size.

Realizing that she is not the only one awe-struck by this, Rune looks to Sailor Moon and calls out: "Strive alongside me! We must not falter, nor hesitate!" Standing up, the princess aims her staff at the impossibly large Witch and fires - the staff's large emerald tip flies out like a rocket, aiming for a direct hit to the Witch's vest! Another orb grows to replace it, and this too is quickly fired at Zazel.

Hannah Steiner has posed:
After the ripping of fabric, the hellscape of the 'circus', and being so wonderfully drawn into the main show in apocalyptic style? Hannah is very grateful for the Live Stage as they're all safely - for vague notions of safe - landed before the Ring Master Horrorshow that they all must now contend with. The Trager isn't one to lightly fall to one, or even both knees. But somewhere in her head Current Hannah is cursing her self of a few moments ago for not being strong enough to get back up after such a display of mastery of gravitics. Worse, Blauer Greif is chewing her out with words in Ancient Belkan that are best left untranslated, and even Hannah is glad her ringing head ensures that she can only translate a spare handful of them.

Arms are pushing her body up, she falls back to her knees, and anyone that looks at her might spot a distressing sight. The blue-black-and-gold striped orb that is her Linker Core is visible deep in her chest, pulsing from sheer overexertion. If the sweat dripping down her cheeks weren't enough, she's actually a bit hot to the touch from such recklessness, and that's /with/ Yellow Pearl Voice's fortifying song.

The crack of a whip far, far, too massive in size and the sudden inload of the Witch's horrifying visage has Hannah scrambling for a way out of dodge. The last dregs of her mahou friend's power is the only thing that saves her life! There's no artful dodge or skillful parry, just the Trager weakly reducing her own gravity a touch, and then throwing herself aside in an anti-gravitic skid helped along by Lyra biting her free wrist and tugging her along to safety! Even then, much of her cape is reduced to less than nothing, and the sheer shockwave of that whip has her tumbling straight towards Yellow Pearl Voice despite their perilous wire-'grounding' with a weak gravity-slingshot that has her suddenly cough in a very unsound manner! Her breathing does /not/ sound good right about now, and she can't exactly help the group from the fall into nothingness, despite her talent with gravity abuse!

Amanda Faust has posed:
    Huh, maybe the Rune Princess was right! The key was making an effort to progress? Or maybe Trager bending gravity repatedly was too much weirdness for the Labyrinth to withstand and something broke? Either way, Amy's a little more ready and manages to hold in the panicked flailing this time as gravity shifts and unshifts.

    Geeze that thing's huge. It's a monster that's going to--

    Amy takes a breath and pushes that feeling down. That's thinking like a little girl, freaking out about your girlfriend leaving, or the monster being big, won't save anyone, only make you one of those characters who gets killed on-screen while you're shouting 'HOW ARE YOU SO DUMB?!' at the monitor.

    Stay calm, Mallory. THINK, and stay in control.

    To Sailor Moon, she replies, "We don't actually know that's the Witch... but it seems like it probably is. They're all different. I have no idea what the one that attacked 'Shingo' was like."

    "You're still thinking as if we're in reality. As if what something from what outside Reality looks like, has any bearing on what it--"


    Amy leaps up above the stage reflexively, but has nowhere to go.


    Time to test its defenses. Before landing, the launcher is on her shoulder, firing. She lands on the edge of the Stage, firing a second time down at the Witch. "Backblast, clear!" it helps that she's firing DOWN. *FOOM!*

    For some reason, even though it's a shoulder launcher most resembling an AT4 right now, it's making the Quake II rocket launcher noise for some reason. Probably because as she's focused on other things it's just what the Puella Magi imagines it doing.

    She kneels by Trager-chan and pats her shoulder. "You did good, um, Trager was it? Conserve your energy if you need to..." She stands again, "Although, I mean, if shit gets bad we're fighting to the death, so..."

    Feeling she has to have *something* to say, as the one who's supposed to be hunting Witches, she announces: "Let's see what our attacks do to it and find out what works. Be ready for anything. It's some kind of being from beyond Reality and we're in its lair."

Coco Kiumi has posed:
Thanks to the fact she is currently singing, the music intensifying isn't really affecting her as things would have gone otherwise, but the Witch "helpfully" substitutes that with her grotesque appearance, not to mention the disconcerting effect that light being swallowed up by the hat would have when gazing at it for too long.

'Don't look at it, don't look at it', she repeats to herself, forcing her gaze away from the witch. Helping her being distracted from the Witch's jarring essence is Trager tumbling towards her, though this is an help she would glady do without. Coco doesn't like at all the pulsing light of the magical girl's Linker Core, reminding her of a frantic heartbeat. And it sure feels like that's one, with Hannah sweating and exhuding heat in a way that promises nothing good.

Luckily for everyone, despite Hannah's worrying conditions, they aren't at risk of falling anywhere as long as they stay inside the Live Stage, but that's not a reminder that should be actually needed, and anyway she is too busying holding up the dreadfully sickly noblewoman to give such a warning.

Her song clearly isn't doing Trager any favour at this stage, so Coco figures there is no way to go but up, as a figure of speech. Answering her urge, the yellow bracelet at her wrist starts shining with a white light, the blessing of Aqua Regina surrounding the yellow idol, adding more frills to her clothes as a bright yellow halo descends from her head to her feet and endowing her song with additional strength.

"Just wait a bit, Trager, I will help you!" she tells the groaning girl in her arms, before addressing the Witch. "It doesn't matter how much your tricks may swallow it, this light, the blessing of Aqua Regina, who wishes forevermore for everyone's future, won't stop shining, ever! Coming Back to the Sea: Pichi Pichi Voice, Live Start!"

The mermaid princess sings of millions of stars that enchant everyone's gaze, the Live Stage shining bright to its utmost as the magical notes spread around the area giving solace to those that need it, both in mind and in body. The inevitable destiny Yellow Pearl Voice sings of moves to repel the darkness of the Labyrinth, a protection to the pure of heart against whom fear won't prevail. Coco sings of her love for her homeland, the most lovely memories that await her there, providing her the resolution to help anyone that extends her hand up to her, as the melodious magic attacks the dark magical energy composing the Witch.

Usagi Tsukino has posed:
The shockwave of the whip strike is enough to buffet the Witch's own flames, the heat all around them intense, and Sailor Moon is frozen - the fact that Tragar-chan immediately falls to her knees once they still doesn't help - Tragar-chan is the strongest magical girl she knows! And she's down, before the fight, just as Sailor Moon had worried about...

She's frozen until the Red Princess and Puella Red each in their own ways snap her out of it, anyway. The Red Princess with her call to action, her call to fight - and Red with sheer annoyance, because in the mood she's in she doesn't want to be corrected on anything, or given anything close to a lecture.

"I've got it, thanks, we don't know anything so we can't trust anything, how many times can you say something like that?"

And before she can doubt herself or get anymore frustrated - she jumps too. Not up, like Red, but forwards, digging into the bag she's been wearing on her back all this time and bringing out... a rock. A rock the size of her fist. With one arm, Sailor Moon reaches out and catches one of the trapeze swings, momentum carrying her forward, then swinging her back -

"Moon Rock Action!"

And the momentum is carried through her throw, as the rock shines with cosmic power, transformed into a glittering force of pure cosmic energy.

The Witch Zazel shrieks in that shattered-glass voice as the attacks land - first the Red Princess' sequence of exploding orbs, then the two blasts from Red's rocket launcher, and finally the indginity of being hit with a glowing rock blast. She steps back, swaying on her stilt-like legs - but unfortunately, when the smoke disperses, she doesn't seem hurt.

She just seems pissed.

The megaphone is raised to the base of the top hat, and the bellowing blast of sound echoes through the flaming circus, so loud it almost isn't heard as much as it is felt, vibrating through their bones.

And when the sound is done echoing, it is answered with a roar, titanic - the sound pouring from dozens of throats, as the Witch's familiars answer her call.

The tigers they might have caught a glimpse for our back, coming to the defense of their master, and they are... bizarre creatures, racing along the razer-thin trapeze wires, sure to reach our heroes within a few moments.

Stalking closer, jaws open in a fierce snarl, lips curled back, and those fangs, oh those fangs are huge, each one the length of a finger, they're tigers - of a sort. Each moves in a jerky fashion, not a smooth gait but the positions changing between blinks, like stop-motion. And the tigers - they, like everything else in this labyrinth, are not flesh and blood animals. They are creatures the size of any living tiger, made entirely from strips of papern molded together - like the most threatening of paper mache or origami projects. That strange script crawls across the screen again, reading out - PAPERMACHIGER.

Sailor Moon, dangling from the swinging, groans in outrage. "Are you kidding? Fine! I brought plenty of rocks - Yellow Pearl Voice, you keep helping Tragar-chan! I'll keep them from getting to your Live Stage! You two, focus on the Witch!"

Gathering all her courage, Sailor Moon swings back and forth, and let's go at the apex of her swing, grabbing a handful of pebbles from her bag and throwing one more attack. "Moon Pebble Spray Action!"

Glittering rocks fly the bombard the tigers sprinting for the Live Stage. They roar, and the Witch shrieks in affront.

Runealy Waldia has posed:
Rune makes hurried sideways glances as the situation changes - Amy's rockets surprise the princess, though Coco's song is more familiar and thus less worrying - it's a reminder to stay on the Stage if at all possible. The 'Moon Rock Action' is entirely novel to her, and she wonders what effect it will have.

It has, in conjunction with everyone else's efforts... ...not enough effect, it turns out. Zazel emerges from smoke and emerald-mist, and Rune's voice asks in dismay: "There was no effect?! ...Hnn?!" She is cut off by the megaphone call, shuddering from the sheer noise of it. The novelty of literally dangerous 'paper tigers' is lost on the princess, but she takes them seriously anyway... and takes cues from Sailor Moon.

When Sailor Moon sprays smaller rocks, Rune tries something similar. She starts to aim at the tigers, but Moon talks her out of it and Rune instead levels her staff at Zazel once more. Another orb gets launched, but this one splits apart in mid-air to become a wide spray of emerald sparkles that aims to blanket Zazel's vest, hat, and megaphone in several smaller attacks. Rune expects this to do nothing, as it is strictly a weaker attack than what she just tried, but Amy had suggested that reality might not entirely apply here - perhaps doing something unintuitive is a good idea?

Hannah Steiner has posed:
The touch of her girlfriend's hand makes some of the pain feel...well, less agonizing. Moral support is a balm to an exhausted mahou, and she forces a smile to the beautiful Puella she's intertwined her heart with.

"You...cheeky little..." Her voice tries to sound insulted, but she's smiling too much to try to either come up with a counter and too exhausted to really engage in proper wordplay.

Affection however leaks out of her as much as exhaustion does, an unsaid token of sheer love aimed at her Puella sweetling.

It /really/ doesn't help that by now Hannah finally can appreciate the full enormity and horror of the Witch now that her head is somewhat less made of scrambled eggs. Her heart and mind rejects the thing. Luckily she's already burnt up any semblence of food in her furnace of a stomach, as she's in fact looking quite green as she tries, and fails, to comprehend the data given to her by Blauer Greif. Her most unique way of understanding things only makes it worse. Several dry heaves later as the tactile feeling wears off?

She doesn't exactly /hear/ Coco's words, distracted as she is, but then the mermaid princess gathers stars and the brilliance of pure magical lyrics that throw Hannah's mind back. Coco sings of a far off homeland in memories most joyous. Of family, of love, of protection.

All of that bluster and pride that led her to such recklessness shatters in the face of pure joy. Hannah /weeps/ openly at the beauty of the song that reaches her ears. She drinks in every single note like a dehydrated desert-wanderer. Her Device records it for posterity, even as vents open up in its' form, letting loose with excess heat as slowly, slowly, Hannah feels strength returning to her.

Unsteadily, like some kind of newly birthed dear, she wobbles onto her armored heels and then manages to stand as her breath evens out and her chest slowly is no longer glowing.

"B...by the Sankt's own blood! Walk with Her in every step is what I should like to say mein freund, however your voice clearly is one to make Her flush in embarrassment!" Comes the Trager with slightly delirious words to Yellow Pearl Voice, but she's up on her feet and is drawing both sheath and cane-sword portions of Bleaur Greif in readiness. Exhaustion still is etched in her features, but she's up, moving, and despite the pangs of effort, is clearly ready to brawl!

Or, rather, she would until that trumped from the old bad Saint Kings' wildest dreams sounds, and she screams despite being the direct target. The coughs that erupt from her are, though less unhealthy than before, still by not any means /good/. She's scraping the bottom of her power, and it's only dear YPV and her own sheer stubborn desire to see the threat ended keeping her vaguely fight capable.

As her Device inloads Moon's vicious rock-based attack however? Well, their Fight Club practice comes in handy. Gripping the sheath of Blauer Greif, she infuses the thing with pur gravitic magic, trusting her friend to the effort of calculating an attack vector!

It's by far her greatest work, and frankly Sailor Moon is already far beyond her own skill in ranged attacks. But it's an earnest one. She ducks into the same posture she first showed, then Moon redoubled upon, and she holds her dear fellow warrior's vague visage in her mind. A single toss, aimed straight to, and then hopefully /through/ the arm wielding the whip and back to her!

<Schwerkraftwurf> Announces Hannah's Device as the young woman grits her teeth in the sheer effort to even use this attack! She clings to the Live Stage for dear life!

Amanda Faust has posed:
    > I've got it, thanks, we don't know anything so we can't trust anything, how many times can you say something like that?
    The red Puella winces a bit. She almost screams out that she doesn't know what she's doing-- But, they're all looking to her to be the knowledgeable and experienced one. Having some breakdown now -- she winces again at the thought of them seeing her in the alley a few minutes ago -- might make the others break down too and this would be a *catastrophic* time for that. Stay in control, Mallory! Or at least, fake it while you figure it out. Because now you've started down this path, and if you DON'T figure it out, and get anyone else killed... well, it probably won't be your problem for long, but let's try to avoid that.

    Two problems: Attacks are only making the Witch mad. Why did Teresia's chainsaw work? Did she do something special with it? Damn it, Mallory, why didn't you think to ASK?! You're such a lousy magical girl!

    The other problem is the paper tigers -- and she daren't wait to see if they live up to their metaphor or not. But Sailor Moon's got it, at least.

> You... cheeky little...

    "Huh?" Amy just cocks her head slightly at the response from the MYSTERIOUS MAGICAL GIRL, TRAGER des BLAUER GREIF! Who she has never met until today.

    Coco sings. It's helping, and though it doesn't solve the direct problem of how to kill the witch, it's surely buying them critical time to figure it out. "I wonder if you can sing Wyld-Shaping Technique..." Amy mutters to herself. Oh, Tragar's getting up. She offers a hand to help pull germanic magical girl up, which... only works because of her Puella Magi strength, really.

    And then, Tragar tries throwing her weapon.

    You know what?

    That sort of effort seems like if anything's going to work, maybe it is. She's going to help.

    Amy doesn't actually have to call her attacks. She just quarter-turns and holds out her arm, the rocket launcher suddenly a large tube strapperd to her arm again, and it fires, one big missile trying to streak past Blauer Greif and then split into a bunch of little ones, raining into part of the Witch's arm -- Only this time, instead of the piercing lances of high-energy physics from anti-tank warheads, these seem to be high explosive armor piercing missiles, which try to blow apart the witch's defenses on contact while the kinetic penetrator inside the missile keeps going, hopefully into whatever passes for the Witch's flesh. Hopefully that'll soften it up for Blauer Greif!

Coco Kiumi has posed:
Yellow Pearl Voice nods as Sailor Moon tells her to keep focusing on Trager, smiling at her ally's dependability, although her attack is a bit... odd, but hey, if it works, it works. The Witch's call was admittedly dangerous, but the others were doing well and managing everything just fine.

This fact gives her confidence and she sings with additional passion, still holding onto Trager as she does that. She should probably avoid making things harder for Sailor Moon though, Coco thinks, elevating the Live Stage a bit further from the Witch's minions.

The mermaid princess flashes Trager a smile once the noble starts talking to her, mostly because of the signs of her recovery, but the compliment gives her satisfaction too.

She keeps singing Coming Back to the Sea as she knows best, the magical impression of the lights turning to wash away the evil from the zone. Hannah choosing that moment to make an attack is both perturbing and relieving at once. She is well enough to move, which is great, but does she really want to risk making things worse again!?

Usagi Tsukino has posed:
Against all odds, the Red Princess' weaker attack seems to be working - where her initial barrage merely irritated, the spray of smaller strikes causes the Witch to wobble and retreat, tottering about on stilt-legs in an awkward dance, limbs twisting closer to her middle, intending to shield her torso - a mistake, on her part, for Tragar's attack, the flinging of her weapon sheath would have missed, if not for that.

Red's attack strikes first, dozens of little strikes that collide and disorient the Witch, have her shrieking in outrage and confusion as she once again wobbles.

And then, while she's off-balanced and frustrating, the weapon sheathe, thrown with all the force of Tragar's heart and feelings, with her face still wet with sincere tears - that weapons strikes one of those stilt legs, and shears through her right leg. It is not severed, not entirely, but it cannot bear her weight, not as it had before. The Witch buckles forward, arms pinwheeling wildly.

The flames atop the roof spread faster. Flaming banners begin to fall, heavy cloth falling like stones.

With the other three focused on the Witch, and Yellow Pearl Voice boosting their spirits, their strength - her voice sings of home, sings of hope, and the chaotic, despair-inducing aura of the labyrinth begins to falter under that hopeful onslaught.

And Sailor Moon, defending the defender, finds herself tentatively standing atop the Live Stage, hurling attack after attack at the Papermachigers. The stage moving up has helped - the leaping familiar's don't seem to understand that they'll just fall if they miss - and the spray and pray version of her Moon Tiara Action, hurling tiny detonating bursts of cosmic energy pebbles, seems to be working.

"We can do this! We've got this, everyone! We just have to keep it up, and we'll take these things out!"

Runealy Waldia has posed:
Rune gets a moment - very brief - to watch appreciatively as Sailor Moon's efforts fend off tiger after tiger, and Tragar's strike inflicts unexpectedly (from Rune's perspective, at least) high damage. It's a welcome sight. "Well done! Now we have an opport-- ah?!" Rune is interrupted by falling, flaming banners; her boot wings light up to propel her away from some of them, though she's puzzled by their lack of any real impact with the Stage.

Sailor Moon calls for more firepower, and Rune is quick to agree with it. A confirming "Mm!" follows, as the princess plants her feet and aims once more at the wounded and unbalanced Witch. Rune's tiara gems glow, firing a stream of tiny sparkles at it... but this is the least of her contributions, the equivalent of a few jabs. Instead, her real effort is launching a trio of wand orbs - one after another - at Zazel's hat-clad head (or what Rune presumes is a head), each one aiming for direct contact... and exploding into emerald mist if they strike!

Hannah Steiner has posed:
A flood of missiles and the very enjoyable sound of anti-armor smashing into something large. She suddenly desides she likes this Red-chan Puella. Also YPV is keeping her up quite nicely

Perhaps she'll have to hunt down this Red-chan later!

The miss turns into a helpful strike, and as her sheath returns to her hand? She lets out a triumphant laugh! Feeling the thing fall a bit via Blauer Greif is a pure pleasure, and Hannah pushes herself up to her feet thanks to YPV's invigorating energies! Ignoring her acheing bones, and taking heart in Sailor Moon's encouragement?

Well, someone has to take this horrid monster on in melee combat, and with Moon missing her Tiara? She figures she's the most qualified despite her everything hurting. A single leap up high, and then, she is gravity-slingshotting straight towards the Witch! Immediately, twin gravity-Shields erupt into being around her, and she's a living missile towards the horrid thing! With a ferocious Belkan warcry? There's no spell shouting. No fancy tactics. Just calling forth all the lessons her parents drilled into her from such a young age in bladework, and an absolutely keen Device suited to purpose for the act.

A blunt sheath descends down /hard/ towards the baleful megaphone that made her ears hurt so badly, followed by a simple incantation.

She's using the Witch's own presence as a gravity-anchor to keep herself vaguely afloat. She can't exactly Flier Flin, but it works well enough when your objective is to cut the enemy to pieces!

Which, her sword-arm very much intends to do. A stab here. A slice there. Interwoven, artful, elegant motions of pure martial skill honed in far-away Palace halls are unleashed upon the Witch without a single concession towards something like 'subtlety'!

And that's just before a Tharkadian Razorhound decides she's going to leap off of the Live Stage of YPV, suddenly clad in gravitic magic, and assist the Red Princess' attacks by attempting to tear out what might pass for a throat in Zazel's 'body'!

Amanda Faust has posed:
    Yay, it's damaged!

    On the other hand, she threw her big attack and drained a bunch of magic. If she has to do that again, she's gonna be going through magic too fast. And... it's interesting, how the weak attacks also worked really well. Maybe she can take advantage of that?

    She jukes to the side of a falling banner from above. The big launcher is gone, the little missile-pistol in her hand again. She starts firing tiny little rockets at the body and hat of the Witch, although when Tragar leaps in, she shouts in alarm, "W-what are you doing?! Wai--" She fires repeated little missile shots ahead of Tragar's and Lyra's attacks, again trying to soften up the area for them!

'Usagi Tsukino has posed:
The Red Princess launching more strikes cause the Witch the shriek her frustration; it's as if in that moment she remembers her whip, and
snaps it out again, catching one of the staff orbs before it can collide, and causing it to explode on contact - but the other two hit the mark colliding with her top hat one after the other - emerald mist starting to smother the flames in the area where it spreads.

screams, striking out with her megaphone, intending to fully spike the Live Stage like an oversized volleyball - only to be cut off by Tragar's vicious downward strike. If there's one thing that seems to be effective on this Witch, it's direct melee contact - the megaphone
shatters on contact.

"TEAR HER APART, TRAGAR-CHAN!" It's a vicious cry, torn from Sailor Moon's very throat - she's distracted for the moment, all the papermachiger's around her seemingly down, a moment of calm in the storm that draws the eye directly to Tragar's vicious assault on the Witch.

She should be fighting this thing - she wants to be fighting this thing - but protecting Yellow Pearl Voice, who was supporting them all, and Hinote, the human who couldn't defend himself - is even more important. It's what she has to do.

Even if she wants to be taking a page out of Tragar-chan's book and beating it down viciously -

There's a growl from behind Sailor Moon, and she whirls just in time for the creature to tackle her down. It's not very heavy - it's made of paper, and this one is almost entirely origami - but it's enough to startle her.

Nearly as much as Zazel is startled by Red's continued assault - tiny rockets shower the surface of her body, and the graceful, elegant assault of Tragar's swordplay is able to slip in between gaps in her defenses - slicing, stabbing, drawing frustrated scraping-glass cries -

And when Lyra lunches for what could be her throat - the Witch's 'head' goes rolling, as Lyra and the hat fall towards the ground.

The Witch is not dead. The Witch is furious, a gout of flame pouring from the neck of her jacket, like a spurt of blood before the fall -

Runealy Waldia has posed:
Rune watches as Trager moves in for close combat, and the princess realizes she will need to change tactics - she cannot keep blanketing the Witch in magical explosions. Moreover, Zazel's whip-lash causes Rune to duck on sheer reflex - the weapon is massive, and Rune feels threatened by it even when it's being used to strike down her attacks rather than lash out at her!

This preemptive (and perhaps unnecessary) dodge causes her to see something else, though; Rune's eyes go wide as Sailor Moon is rushed by a paper tiger! The princess stows her staff inside her dress' bow - the weapon improbably disappears into it despite the size difference. In the same motion, she starts to pull out a much smaller, ruby-tipped staff. There is no time to make an articulate warning; all Sailor Moon gets from Rune is an alarmed "Ahh!"

The tiger brings Sailor Moon down. It might look like it is made of paper, but the princess gives it all the regard she might of a real, feral beast! Rune takes quick aim, firing three times. The first sparkling red beam misses outright - the princess' aim was off by a half meter to her left. The second beam might hit, but if so it is a glancing shot that merely clips the paper tiger.

The third, however, is punctuated by a tense gasp-shout and takes advantage of being able to see her shots and correct her aim. This one is meant to strike the tiger directly, in the hopes of shooting it off Sailor Moon before it can deliver a more telling blow than a 'mere' tackle.

Hannah Steiner has posed:
Grin! The Belkan flashes a grin behind her just as she leaps, straight towards Amy!

"Before blade blessed by Her Grace, und the power of mein dear compatriots! The Sankt Kaiser shall show us the path towards victory!" Assures Hannah, the tired Noble trusting everything to both her compatriots as well as the Saint King she so highly adores! It's the voice of a religious zealot, and the young woman happily leaps towards doom or glory in an utterly unhealthy way!

'Tear Her Apart Trager-Chan!'

How, exactly, could she do any less than what her dear freund would so furiously ask! The two are alike in so many ways, and perhaps Hannah is a...well, she's certainly an influence. But Sailor Moon's encouragement only brings out more of the Ancient Belkan in her heart, and as soon as this nightmarish monster of a Witch shows a sign of weakness as she starts from Red's assault?

<Fluss: Erhöhen> Comes Blauer Greif, even as Lyra starts to tear down a vicious line with pure Razorhund sharpness upon the Witch!

Both of them float briefly aside form the pure font of fiery fury of Zazel, Hannah's cloak singed off, her hat meeting oblivion, and more than a few of Lyra's feathers turned to multicolored dust!

Hearing a gasp of the Red Princess, it only encourages Hannah onwards to danger. Floating near the slashed-up Witch? She suddenly climbs up once, twice, and then again, her dear Razorhound with her! Both suddenly flare with gravitic magic! Hannah angles herself down, and Lyra is upon her back, the Noble Belkan raising both blade and sheath behind her back!

And the with the last of their magic? Falls down, a blade, a crushing sheath, and teeth and claws combining into a ferocious descent aimed to ruin this abomination in the Sankt Kaiser's eyes!

Amanda Faust has posed:
    Puella Red smiles a bit at how effective this is. Yeah! Maybe with teamwork and smarter attacks they can take down Witches even more efficiently...

    And then there's a scream from nearby. She whirls, spots the tiger, spins one rotation more, and

    Suddenly, instead of the pistol she was holding, she's holding the extra-long rocket launcher she was using as a balance pole before, and as Runealy launches it over the plate, Red's 'bat' hits as hard as if she'd spun it around just as fast because physics be damned, she's *magic*.

    "What, no candy?" Man, she actually can't remember the last time she hit a pinata. There *must've* been a couple birthday parties when she was a kid that had them, but no specific memory comes to mind.

    If the tiger is now dealt with, she crouches down and holds out a hand for Sailor Moon. "You okay there?" And... feeling a little better now, the mask drops a little. "Sorry about before. I... this is freaky for everyone and... like I'm figuring out what to do too, y'know?"

Coco Kiumi has posed:
The situation for now stable, Coco doesn't see any reason to change her methods. The Witch is gradually being pushed back, so it won't be long now till this is over, especially since the Witch toppling over has made her even more of an easy target.

'I guess what they say it's true: the bigger they are, the harder they fall', she thinks with a bit of satisfaction, looking at the situation proceed with advantage to them. She still does her part, magically singing and dancing to help everyone keep up their efforts.

Usagi Tsukino has posed:
Sailor Moon had gone down, hard, flattened on her back with a monster on top of her and the wind out of her lungs, teeth as long as her hand, and she had been scrambling, try to fight it -

And then a blast just missed. And another hit, but off balance, striking the papermachiger's flank. And then -

The last beam blasts it right off - and it goes FLYING as Red strikes it like an errant baseball - PAPERMACHIGER GOES BLASTING OFF AGAIN -

What's that? Wrong genre? Okay, well -

Sailor Moon sits up, her eyes wide - there are scratches in her fuku, the bow on her chest and her collar having been shredded by the paper tiger's claws, but her chest armor had held - aside from some small scratches on her arms, she's totally fine.

Well, a little embarrassed, maybe. She'd thought she could handle them on her own - but then Red is there, the other magical girl reaching out her hand even though Usagi had been snappish at her, and Sailor Moon takes her hand of course, an embarrassed flush to her cheeks.

"Rune-chan - Red-chan - thank you. And - I'm sorry."

This would be a bad time for a conversation... if not for the fact that Tragar-chan has this covered. The Witch, weakened by so many blows and frazzled by all the unpredictable fire, isn't able to handle the coming fire. She shrieks uselessly as death comes - death, and the irrepressible battle-fury of a Belkan Knight.

Tragar and Lyra tear right through her. There is no more resistance - only devastation. Zazel falls to her knees, and then, flat on her chest, landing near her hat head. The flamers flicker and die - not just on her chest and hat, but throughout the entire circus. The witch vanishes in a cloud of smoke and ash, leaving behind a small dark orb, almost like a spindle - the emblem at the top is a top hat.

Above them all, the roof creaks ominously, the fire and combat having weakened the structure.

Sailor Moon looks up, eyes wide - "Guys? I think we need to get out of here, quick!"

The gutted and burned circus, with it's metallic-fabric roof and wooden beams, is being flooded with light - but not sunlight. It's just - light, as strange and fantastical as the rest of the Witch's realm - the labyrinth is falling apart.

At least with the lights flooding in, they can see a path - a straight forward one, even - back to the entrance, and the strange portal they'd come through.

Coco Kiumi has posed:
With the labyrinth collapsing after its owner disappearing in a puff, now is not really the time to take a breath of relief, as much as Coco would be instinctively brought to. The Belkan and her lizard are what she is focusing on atm, the former having spent all of her energy again and the latter bringing out to the best of her abilities.

"Hey there, you should come with me", Coco tries to address the reptile-dog. To her relief, Lyra understand and helps the mermaid princess bring Trager back onto the Live Stage, quickly hurrying along as the wave of smoke and falling rubble follows them ever so close.

'Yes, we are there!', Coco thinks, looking at the ever closer exit to the Witch's Labyrinth, and soon enough they are pushed out, the looming threat no more as normal reality replaces the ruinous environment.

Coco smiles at Lyra and Hannah, too stuck on processing the adrenaline still coursing through her system to do anything else. That, and she slowly extends a hand to pet the lizard-dog as a reward for her assistance.

Hannah Steiner has posed:
There's a reason that Ancient Belka was so feared. And part of that reason was a bunch of crazy people willing to melee anything regardless of how terrifying said thing was until either they or said abomination decided to stop moving. This particular Noble clearly lives up to her family line by refusing to stop smashing and cutting into the Witch until the inglorious affront to Saint Olivie is broken, and finally she's lashing out one more time, just to be sure!

Matters like a falling circus top are only finally brought to focus just before she thinks up appropriate Belkan curses for the Witch as her knees again threaten to wobble and fall.

Hannah Steiner, for all her talent and strength, is spent. Twice over, in fact, only thanks to Yellow Pearl Voice's abilities has she gone this far!

Hannah groans audibly, and leans on her companion, but even that might not be enough with how shakey she seems! Both hands grip her Device, and she uses the cane-shaped weapon to keep herself upright!

Yellow Pearl Voice's well, voice proves as powerful upon Lyra as any other creature! Suddenly, the massive lizard is bumping into the young woman's hand, and then clamping teeth around both of Hannah's wrists. By the fact the sparkleskirt is tipping over, and not protesting in pain? This isn't the first time this has happened. And then Lyra is dragging both Hannah and her Device up towards the Live Stage of YPV, the only vaguely conscious Hannah giving her last motes of magic to gravitically attach themselves to the mermaid songstress!

Yellow Pearl Voice's hand is suddenly awash in drippy Lizard Licks, even as the Belkan Trio cling about her magical stage like three souls utterly out of it. Even the Old Grandma Device is trying to praise YPV by way of an old Ancient Belkan soup recipie.

It's been a long and reckless day!

Amanda Faust has posed:
> Thank you. And - I'm sorry.
    "...It's fine. This is a really stressful situation. ...And I've got an unfair advantage." Not in fighting monsters, perhaps, but decades of having to try to keep emotions in check. Although, all of that crumples so easily when he's around Hannah--

    No, don't think of that now. A magical girl's work is almost done.

    She looks down at the fallen Witch below them. "Yeah! ...Uhhh... did it... die? Last time, the Labyrinth just kinda... disappeared..."

> Guys? I think we need to get out of here, quick!
    If there's any rule of reality, law of 'physics' that seems to work here, it's to follow the story. Maybe the labyrinth will disappear, but if it doesn't, 'and then they escaped' had better be the next thing that happens. So Amy just nods.

    ...But, the Live Stage is already on it, and Yellow and the German magical girl are here, so, she'll ride it out too. In the meantime, she pulls her phone out of her pouch to try and record the collapsing labyrinth on the way out, curious if they can even record at all in here.

Usagi Tsukino has posed:
The world collapses around them - Sailor Moon takes Yellow Pearl Voice's generosity seriously, dropping down to it's safety along with the Red Princess and Hinote, and as a result, the lot of them are able to be carried out alongside Red, Tragar, Lyra, and Yellow Pearl Voice herself - and when the Live Stage passes through the entrance, they land in the courtyard they had started in, surrounded by overgrown grass and benches left to molder.

Ash and smoke pour from the entrance in space that was the labyrinth's entrance -

Was, because within a minute of their departure, the whole thing goes up in flames that flicker, gutter, and die - leaving behind only the small dark orb, almost like a spindle - the emblem at the top in the shape of a top hat.

Lifts a hand, waving it in the laziest salute possible.

"We did it, everyone!"

What else is there to say? They survived, and the monster didn't.

Coco Kiumi has posed:
Coco smiles as Lyra starts expressing her affection intensely, letting her take all the time she wants, lowering her E-Pitch to the ground to keep giving more pets now that Lyra has claimed her other hand with her tongue.

"We actually did it", Coco agrees, smiling tiredly at her companions. She hears the slight pin of the Grief Seed falling to the ground, but Amy Is here, so that doesn't concern her, opting to just rest there in the overgrown grass until everyone is ready to move.