497/Nezu Shrine

From Radiant Heart MUSH

Nezu Shrine
Date of Scene: 24 September 2023
Location: Nezu Shrine
Synopsis: An investigation into one of the shrines of Tokyo turns quickly into a fight with a ghost.
Cast of Characters: Nephrite, Wako Agemaki, Takuto Tsunashi, Ami Mizuno, Amanda Faust, Veronica Perenna, Pyrite
Tinyplot: Midnight Tokyo

Nephrite has posed:
    The Nezu Shrine is a short way from Tokyo's famous Ueno Park, and has its roots in almost 2,000 years of Japanese history. It is closely associated with Japan's Imperial family, and is famous for its azalea garden. A riot of vivid spring pinks, whites, and purples in April, and even when the azaleas are not in bloom, the Nezu Shrine's elegant old buildings, pristine condition, and colorful designs make this a well-loved and much-visited location. The landscapes grounds are on two levels.

    There are hundreds of torii archways that make tunnel-like paths around part of the grounds.

    A torii symbolically marks the transition from the mundane to the sacred, and is a spot where kami are welcomed and thought to travel through.

    Given the fact the temple is sitting on a magical and spiritual nexus, with connections both to the leylines of Tokyo and the local boundary between the living world and the world of spirits, it makes sense that it would be a target for the Midnight Tokyo Project if the Dark Kingdom is trying to get a power boost for their ritual.

    And if not, it's still worth checking out just to be sure, and to mark it off the map as cleared.

Wako Agemaki has posed:
Ginga Otome takes in the scenery around her with a certain fascination as she passes under one of the many torii - very mundanely, on foot. Like any other tourist, aside from her flamboyant military parade-style outfit. "It's so much different from our shrine," she comments aside. "Fancier, for one thing."

She turns in place and walks backwards for a few steps to focus on her companion. "To be honest, I'm not sure what we're looking for. Bad feelings, I guess, for a start? Anything weird."

Takuto Tsunashi has posed:
"Well you're the one who's most familiar with how shrines should feel," says the Ginga Otome's companion, the Ginga Bishounen. He says it mildly, and adds, "It is super fancy. I'm not sure we're fancy enough for it."

He is also really fancy, though the only skirt on the tall boy with the red-and-yellow hair is the bottom half of his military-style coat, bright white with gold highlights and dark red thigh-high boots, epaulets for miles. "What's weird for a shrine? Oh look at that bird!"

It's just a bird. Really pretty, but not weird.

Ami Mizuno has posed:
Sailor Mercury is checking shrines. It just so happens the Nezu shrine today. She already had her Mercury Visor and Mercury Computer open and was already scanning torii gates. She did so from the side, hiding from view and mostly was paying attention to her feelings aswell.

She looks up and to the side it's Ginga Otome. She walks from behind the torii gate she's been scanning.

"I take it you're here doing the same thing?" she asks to Ginga Otome. She looks over to Ginga Bishounen. Who's dressed in a military coat. She looks at the bird. It's a bird, alright.

She looks back over to Ginga Otome. "So far. Everything seems calm and clear." she advises.

Amanda Faust has posed:
    So, bad guys of some sort are trying to make a Dark World and then leak it into the real world using *ley lines*. Which are real because of *course* they are.

    Puella Red is cosplaying as... *something*, but no one here knows what. Over the bodysuit, the skirt and armor have been replaced by a sleeveless white robe with a red cape, her belt has a lot of dangly chintsy chains and charms and bits on it, including a long ribbon-y strip of leather or something hanging from the front of the belt with a charm dangling from the end. Her boots have been replaced by more fantasy-ish tall boots, and... the robe's hood, for no reason, has two metallic protrusions like a demon's giant horns were truncated after a few inches and she has a clear-faceplate gas mask on for some reason -- more charms dangle from the 'horns' and on necklaces around her neck, and her soul gem is on the inside of a bracer on her left arm.

    Amy looks around curiously... But she doesn't sense shit. She looks at her a-little-below-full soul gem and then looks at the center of the shrine complex and holds out her hand and focuses really hard, like a kid willing jedi telekinesis to happen, on drawing on the ley line nexus's potential psychic energy.

    Nothing happens, because she's a puella magi, not a ley line walker.


    She looks over at others nearby. "So what exactly are we even looking fo-- ARE YOU SCANNING FOR MAGIC WITH A COMPUTER?!"

    The costumed ley line walker-chan runs over to Ami to try and get a closer look at her stuff. "What?! How?! Is it a *magic* computer? Is that a thing?! I mean besides those Device things."

Veronica Perenna has posed:
Veronica is sure that she has almost identified the place of one of the other items. Despite the best efforts of the minion working on protecting it, she has been well on its trail and she has almost broken through all the misdirections it set around itself and the item, until of all a sudden, the trail disappeared, as if swallowed by a voracious black hole in a particular dark corner of space, where not even light dares go.

She sighs, wondering what is going on. Whatever anomalous event is going on, this has certainly made her job much more difficult than it ought to be. Pros: the being responsible seems to have gone for Nezu Shrine. Cons: said being clearly doesn't seem worried about hiding themselves, so them turning out to be a headache would be the understatement of the millenium.

The Princess of Sarek still ought to learn what they are capable of, so she makes her way for the designated place, her cane in one hand and a huge dose of caution in the other, hiding herself from prying eyes in her ethereal form. At least, that's the intention. She doesn't know if whoever she is going to face can see phantom beings.

To her relief, other mahous are here, so if nothing else, she could hope for their cooperation. Unless they are the greedy sort, then that would be bound to cause all sorts of problems.

Interestingly one of them is scanning the area with some sort of machine, so the Phantom Thief gets close to her, peeking at whatever information her device has managed to record.

Pyrite has posed:
    Torii are a symbolic representaiton of the transition from the mundane to the sacred. To put it another way, they can be seen as a gateway between the land of the living and the land of the dead. Ordinarily, without magic, a random torii isn't inherently a gateway to anything. But for a ghost, having hundreds of torii, and people passing through them, makes a difference. Even if they aren't aware of it, on another plane of existence that mundane humans are blind to, they are wandering around in the spirit world, and becoming more and more entangled in the underworld.
    In the red eyes of one girl who sits on the steps at the top of some stairs, elbows on her knees, cheeks cupped in her hands, smiling down at everyone, there's a green and black spectral mist flowing over everything, and her inteference has allowed her to start dragging people down to her level -- in a literal sense. The balance is shifting, each person passing through a torii making another step closer to death.
    A painted fan with ribbons sits at her side, the tool by which she is making this possible -- the vector for turning a place of holy or at least sacred presence into a broken stair on the precipice of a pit of dead spirits like her.
    Her eyes widen a little bit, and so does her smile, when she notices some abnormal people in the area. "Oh? Visitors already?" she says to herself quietly. Then one gloved hand reaches down to pick up the fan, and Pyrite rises to her feet. The young girl begins to descend the stairs, as eddies and whirlpools of air begin spreading across the temple grounds, increasing the strength of the wind, and also manipulating spiritual energy.
    She isn't about to reveal her presence yet, and normal people can't even see her. But she can see them.

Nephrite has posed:
    There is definite magical activity. Some shrines have no magical importance at all. They can't all be mystical, right? This one is on a leyline nexus, and there are rivers of power flowing beneath the ground that, if harnessed, could be used for a lot of things. Right now, the leylines are moving slowly, sluggishly, like they aren't fully awake or there's some kind of blockage 'upstream', so to speak. But that's gradually changing.

    For those more sensitive to spirit stuff, there's some intense spiritual disturbances. It feels like this shrine and the surrounding temple grounds are being 'sucked into' something, dragged downwards. The ground might feel as though it is moving beneath the feet of such a person, gradually rotating... Slowly, but faster the deeper in one goes.

    Dark Energy is also present, suggesting someone is here, doing something. But maybe it's that jerk Hematite floating around making a magical talking flying souvenir youma or something, but there is definitely already activity here of the exact type they were warned to look out for.

    There is also, believe it or not, the trail of a Witch in the area, but a weak and diffuse one. Probably old. Either moved on or already gotten to by another Puella Magi. But there's always the possibility of Familiars...

    And on the purely scientific level, there's a geo-magnetic shift in the vicinity that has compass needles turning away from true north noticeably by several degrees, and the atmospheric pressure is dropping quickly enough to be seen on a barometer. A storm, localized entirely on this shrine?

    Even one of these things is enough evidence to investigate further. Taken together, it suggests the natural state of this shrine is completely disrupted and actively getting worse.

Wako Agemaki has posed:
She looks for the bird Takuto took notice of, but Sailor Mercury's question soon diverts Wako's attention. Her face brightens a little in recognition and she nods readily. "I think so. Looking for leads on bad things... you heard about it from Sailor Moon, right?" A beat, and then she's looking between Mercury and the Ginga Bishounen. "Takuto-kun, this is Sailor Mercury who I met the other day."

She startles a little when Red runs over. A look toward the other girl turns into a double-take at her current costume; automatically, her shrine maiden upbringing kicks in. "Hey," she says, pitching her voice down a bit. "Don't forget we're at a shrine."

Settling her weight back a bit onto her heels, she looks around again. Her forehead creases as her eyebrows draw together. "...something's definitely not right here. Things are out of balance. I don't like it."

Takuto Tsunashi has posed:
And Takuto looks to Mercury as well; he gives lopsided little smile along with a headtilt and the vaguest suggestion of a salute. He shifts uncomfortably when Red comes over yelling, and Wako's doing her shrine maiden thing, but all of a sudden he feels his first sense of self-consciousness in three years. He's loud by existing, and people are going to look at Red being loud and think it's him and--

--whatever, he's here with Wako and he's going to own his self-presentation. As usual. His shoulders straighten and he stands up a little taller.

His voice is still quieter than usual, though. "Sailor Mercury, is there any specific place where we should go and, I don't know, push things around? Is there anything to," he practically whispers this last bit, "fight?"

Ami Mizuno has posed:
Sailor Mercury deals with being accosted by Amy first and foremost because she yells. "Y--yes it's a. Super computer." she says to Amy, who yells. She's a little taken aback by the yelling and all, but Ginga Otome has it handled politely. She adjusts her visor like they we're glasses and frowns a little more.

"Yes. There's strange readings off the gates." she says. "-and a general strong dark energy reading. I think it's all around us. I need to find. A source." she says.

She looks to Ginga Bishounen, she's about to answer his question-- "Well---". That's when she can detect some eddies in the area. And they're moving.

"Something is moving towards us." she says, pointing straight ahead. "But I can't see it." she asides as she frowns.

"-oh, so you are a fighter!" she adds with a smile, to Takuto. "Good. I'm an okay fighter. But I'm better at distractions and support." she asides.

"Whatever you are, show yourself!" she says outloud.

Her computer's screen is showing the disturbances currently going on. It looks like some strange infrared display but for magic detection. It's odd.

Amanda Faust has posed:
    "Oh, sorry." Amy, misunderstanding, changes her outfit to a shrine maiden's. The clothes get bright and sparkly and are in another shape in an instant. At the discussion of dark energy, she holds out her soul gem and holds her hand over it, closing her eyes and focusing. "There's darkness here... but also the trail of a Witch?!"

    She opens her eyes. "Well, I've got combat covered at least." Her trusty rocket launcher appears on her shoulder. "Partly covered, anyway." She looks around warily for whoever Ami is yelling at.

Wako Agemaki has posed:
Ginga Otome stares at Amy and the rocket launcher for a moment. Then her hand comes up over her eyes. "Okay--"

Deep breath. She drops her palm from her face and straightens, bringing both hands before her to sketch a vague shape in the air. "Zero Time."

There's no light show between her fingers, but the outward rush of the barrier feels like a tangible pressure against the skin for a moment, before the sky overhead turns from afternoon sunshine to a wildly colorful starscape of otherdimensional space. If there were any normal folks in view taking any notice of the magical girls and boy in their outlandish outfits, they've vanished.

"Let's... not destroy the shrine in the process of trying to save it," she says, very slightly on the strangled side.

Veronica Perenna has posed:
The more she passes through the Torii gates, the more the space becomes unsettling for the ethereal girl. On a physical level nothing particularly changes, but on a magical level she feels like the closer she gets to the shrine, the more she gains awareness of an abyss that is swallowing any who falls into it.

SVeronica shudders under this oppressive mantle of death that is surrounding her more deeply without the obstacle of her physical form. The spectacle decorating her vision doesn't stop here, the leylines themselves converging around that funnel.

SAt the shrine she looks at the magical readings on Mercury's screen, but it looks like that shivering experience has already told her everything she needed to know. She waits at their side as they exchange some small talk, pondering on the information she has received.

S'I already knew there was something that could make a quick meal out of magic, or that youma wouldn't have disappeared like that, but still, to have an effect this widespread, I hope it's using the solid energy from the painting to do that. This is going to be tough if it's not.'

SThe unsettling feeling is all but exhacerbated as something approaches, who dark energy makes her feel frigid and unwelcome. 'Ok that's my cue to to get away from this creepy environment' she thinks, acquiring a physical form once more, right to the side of Sailor Mercury.

"Hello, the Princess of Sarek", she bows as a quick presentation, her mind for fixated on whatever is going on here. "It seems that whatever is going on here, it is like magical energy is being all pulled towards here."

Pyrite has posed:
    The ghost in the military uniform continues to skip and hum to herself, fan in one hand, sword in the other (all she needs is a necklace and she'll practically be wielding the Three Treasures, she thinks to herself), and skipping along, drifting as she does so like she's on the Moon. Normal people don't and can't notice her, even if she was on the same metaphysical plane as them. But even way up here, Pyrite can hear the sound of distressed and yelling people down below. She pauses part-way through her descent through the torii gates, and tilts her head to the side.
    "Are they not coming to me?" she wonders aloud. She frowns thoughtfully, and looks back up to the shrine. Then back down the stairs. She decides to sit down on the steps for now, and let the others sort this out. She has all the time in the world, after all, unlike the interlopers.
    And Pyrite is very, very good at waiting.

Nephrite has posed:
    This is a popular shrine to visit, it's a beautiful Sunday afternoon, and there are witnesses to the exotically dressed and strangely behaving people who are yelling. One of them might be filming this even? There's plenty of disapproving looks from passers-by. When a rocket launcher is pulled out from somewhere, however, panic starts to spread. Disbelief probably at first, but American tourists at least are used to the threat of shootings and fear of terrorists and react appropriately.

    Right then, probably as someone is running to call for law enforcement, time is frozen and the mundanes are forced out of the local space and into some adjacent dimension. It doesn't make the unnatural state of the temple grounds any less disturbing. If anything, it looks worse, like there are cracks in reality all around. Little fissures, leaking death.

Takuto Tsunashi has posed:
"Yeah, I'm-- shimatta!" Takuto starts to answer, then leans back, eyes wide. But Wako pulls up the comforting arena of Zero Time a moment after Amy pulls up a rocket launcher, and then the mahou are alone with a monster they cannot see.

He frowns slowly, and then briefly puts his hand on Wako's arm, and then just starts walking through the torii. "Ley lines are lines, right? What are the odds this one goes right under the path?" he asks, glancing behind him for a moment. "Yelling at it doesn't seem to be working, which is rude but understandable--"

Amanda Faust has posed:
    Puella Amy followed the magical people in assuming that they would be snooping around looking for magic stuff without people around. Despite living here for years, she's never played tourist or seen a lot of places (besides Akihabara, of course she *had* to see Akihabara!) So she doesn't know that much about the place or, realistically, how full of people it would be. And she's been *so focused* on the magic stuff, and magical occurances, and on Ami shouting 'come out, whoever you are!' at the source of dark energy that she... doesn't notice, until her loud voice attracts specific attention. And when she notices *that* group of tourists looking at her, now she's LOOKING for that and sees more in the distance. And also not so in the distance. "Uhh, it's a movie," she's about to poof it away and then realizes she shouldn't be able to do that, and instead says, "this is a prop, see?" while adjusting it a bit moving it like it's a fraction of its apparent weight... and then they're in Zero Time. She switches back to her default outfit and poofs the launcher away and pulls her hood over her head.

    It all made sense a moment ago! They were confronting some dark magical being... and then suddenly, she's brandishing a weapon in a weird costume in the middle of tourists and made to look the fool.

    Oh how she wishes Hannah was here. Hannah would make everything alright, somehow.

    She's faced with a choice: Trust the people around her to understand if she just explains, or accept that they've written her off as a fool and will never see her as anything but.

    How many times, before, has Mallory chosen the first option and it was wrong? She's dug her own hole deeper and made even more of a fool of herself countless times. She should know by now: Cut your losses and run.

    But... but... can things be different, as Amy? A lot of things have been different as Amy. (She has mixed feelings about what that implies as to *why*.)

    But... they already looked at her like that. And she was Amy the whole time.

    And now she's standing frozen, *like an idiot*.

    She takes a breath and rallies all of her courage. "I..." she starts to explain. You *what*? "I..." you're MAKING IT WORSE. You couldn't even feign confidence and *sound* like you know what you're doing! Of course you seem like a fool!

    She runs.

    She turns and runs. The outfit changes to a schoolgirl uniform as she hits the edge of Zero Time, and just keeps running. Get out of here. Get away from people. Get out of here, and once you get some time alone to go calm down you can try to make the rest of the day better.

Ami Mizuno has posed:
Sailor Mercury points dramatically at the nothing and----

Nothing happens before that 'Zero Time' fades into existence and she frowns a little. That's how it usually works. You point. You make a speech and something happens. Nothing happened. Sailor Mercury seems sour about this now.

"It's still there though." she says. "Even if we can't see it." she says, walking along, as the Princess of Sarek appears next to her and she jumps. "EEK!" she goes and suddenly breathes in hard.

"W-wow you came from nowhere." she says. The sudden appearance stopping her from noticing Amy running away from the group.

Wako Agemaki has posed:
Ginga Otome's concern in no way abates once they're safely within Zero Time - not with the way reality itself seems to be coming apart. "This is definitely bad," she observes, very unnecessarily given the current state of things. "We need to find what's causing it--"

That's about when Amy bolts, and Sailor Mercury yelps. Thrown thoroughly off-balance, Wako falls uncertainly silent. Not much has been going anything like she supposed it might, and she's still not even sure what they're looking for from what information Inai-sensei could give them.

Takuto, at least, can always be depended on to pick a direction. Sailor Mercury and the Princess of Sarek get a fleeting helpless look, and then Ginga Otome is hurrying to catch up with Takuto as he passes under the torii. The path, and the ley lines--"You know," she realizes, "you're probably right. At least, there's a pretty good chance the layout of the grounds echoes the leylines, so it's worth a try--"

Veronica Perenna has posed:
As much as it adds to the creepiness of the place, this barrier thing is quite useful, Veronica notes. She looks around at everybody still trying to understand the phenomenon. "I'm very sorry about that, I will pay more attention next time", Veronica lowers her head towards the soldier of the gray planet. "Whatever is going on here may involve an artefact I am chasing, which would be quite hopeful, since I wouldn't dare imagine our opponent being able to do this on the regular."

The Princess of Sarek starts approaching the main unit of the shrine up the stairs, covering herself in rays of rays of moonlight that exist from her cane forming a barrier around her. "If I may, the only thing we have discovered right now is that there is lots of energy being dragged here, so we need to advance to discover what's going on, even if with caution."

Pyrite has posed:
    Tap. Tap. Tap. Pyrite is tapping the fan on the step next to her, as she looks around. The souls she was leading into that spiral of death are no longer detectable to her, and everything is all weird now. Here in Zero Time, there's just a series of torii gates leading up the stairs towards the shrine itself, and she's sitting at the top of them. Then someone approaches! Now on basically the same plane of existence, Pyrite smiles excitedly and hops up.
    From her perch, she points the painted fan at Ginga Bishounen! "So, you come to this shrine to cause trouble and disrespect the kami? You are an example of all that is wrong with heroes! People should be free to walk among the spirits of the dead if they choose to, or to donate to a worthy cause, or take home a souvenir youma! In the name of Lord Hematite, and the Dark Kingdom, I, Pyrite, will knock you all down!"
    She has been waiting to hit them with that one.

Wako Agemaki has posed:
Welp. Wako is already stepping forward, that same sense of responsibility she was raised with from birth kicking in once again at Pyrite's accusations. "We're not here to disrespect the shrine, or to cause trouble," she intercedes, holding forth both hands in a palm-up gesture that requests understanding. "Entirely the opposite. We just want to preserve the proper balance of this place, and show proper respect for the kami here. Besides--"

Okay, now her tone is getting a bit less conciliatory. Her stance shifts, a hand propping on her hip. "Did any of the people who came here actually choose to walk among the dead, or take home a youma? Because I'm pretty sure that if that's what's been happening, it was without them knowing. Don't you think that's even more disrespectful to a sacred shrine?"

Takuto Tsunashi has posed:
The look on Takuto's face is pretty easy to read: 'a little girl?! what???' but she helpfully provides a declaration of intent!

"I only came here to be backup fight guy if someone attacked! I'm happy to be wanted!" calls out the tall red-and-yellow-haired boy, striking a pose in response. One fist pounds his chest, thumb in, and he pulls out a glowing green light sword right from there. "Star Sword... Emeraude!" And then his other fist does the same thing, but pulls out a glowing blue light sword. "Star Sword... Saphir!!"

Now he poses with both swords. "What she said! Anyone who turns a shrine dedicated to the spirits of the dead into a vortex for making new dead spirits is confused at best and outright evil at worst! The disrespect is all yours! I am the Ginga Bishounen, and I am not a ninepin!"

He lifts off the ground and comes at Pyrite, flying, dual brandishing magical glowing swords!

Veronica Perenna has posed:
When Pyrite shows herself, Veronica looks up at the ghost, her attention focusing on the fan that she is carrying. No mistaking it, she would recognise the feeling of the energy it emanates anywhere. "You talk of disrespecting, but you are making use of something very old that doesn't belong to you. You have quite the gall, my friend", Veronica says, putting the top hat off her head where she has been keeping the formless energy she got from the vase. If the feeling she got wasn't enough confirmation, the way it's undulating towards Pyrite is enough confirmation that's another piece of the lost energy.

She puts back the hat on top of her head with a flourish, moving even closer to Pyrite, the barrier of moonlight surrounding her. "If you care so much about respect, just give it back, stop harming, and we can all go our separate ways." She frowns when Takuto starts attacking. 'There go the chances of taking the fan back right now, however minimal', she thinks, putting her cane angled towards the ghost girl, knowing that she would probably have to resort to combat too, but waiting for her answer.

Ami Mizuno has posed:
Sailor Mercury thinks 'Oh, now you appear and make a speech, but not when I yell it.' in the back of her head, but doesn't dictate this outloud. Instead. She points again.

"You've been sending people home with youma!? That is unforgiveable! In the name of Mercury, Douse yourself in water and repent!" she says, finally.

Then, she jumps backwards, before throwing her hands out to either side of her, and calls out "Shabon Spray!", filling the area with a bubbly mist to obscure the view in the pocket in Zero Time. She may not be the best fighter, but she can provide the best support. She's excellent at that. And if this turns into a discussion well.

They can talk through mist.

Pyrite has posed:
    "Oh? You're approaching me? Even though I have the high ground?" she asks haughtily as the number of stair-breathers increases, with their stairs and their... Breathing! She pauses at the counter-arguments and explanations offered. "Hm. I see. So you are here to help, not hurt. Hmmmmmm." She tap-taps her chin with the ornate fan. After a several more seconds of hmmmmmming at increasingly longer durations, she eventually says, "Well, I have thought about it, and my kami senses tell me it is okay to summon ghosts here and hold onto this fan, so it is fine."
    She grins as Takuto charges here, but then there's Magic Fog. Pyrite looks around in confusion. Normally she can see through fog just fine. Well, if someone is going to fog up her vision, she'll just have to return the favor! The fan is drawn back, and then swung forward, sending out green and black mist blasting down the stairs at the Ginga Bishounen and Princess of Sarek since they seem to be in the lead! It doesn't hurt or anything, but it's a strong wind that blocks vision as surely as Mercury's Shabon Spray blocks Pyrite's.
    Also there are several swords sailing through the mixture of magic and malice, but that's normal probably.
    All of her friends frequently tell her how normal she is.

Takuto Tsunashi has posed:
The Ginga Bishounen takes a giant gust of black and green wind to the face, which makes him fly harder and make less headway; he has both swords out, still, but one is down at his side and the other is held in front, his forearm shielding his eyes. "Anyway what does your Lord Hematite want with this shrine anyway? And you're Pyrite? This is supposed to be a Midnight Tokyo thing, not a rock thing??" he yells out, gulping wind.

A sword definitely slashes through his coat, but that's definitely what his coat is for. He whacks away another one, parrying it groundwards, and leaves a contrail of blue and white light behind him. Like it's trailing away behind even though he's barely going forward. It makes...

...it makes the fog really bright.

Wako Agemaki has posed:
For a moment there, it almost seemed like they might be able to talk this one out for a change... which means that, when the mist descends and Pyrite lets out that blast of green and black and blades, Ginga Otome is caught nearly flat-footed. A startled noise escapes her at the buffeting of the dark wind; almost reflexively, she calls up a shield of pink light around herself, outstretching both hands to bolster it just in time to deflect a windblown sword.

"It's not fine!" she calls back through the murk. "A lot of people are going to get hurt if this keeps up! Even more if your 'Midnight Tokyo' plan goes through. We're not going to just let that happen!"

The blue-white radiance illuminating the fog from within tells her that Takuto is still ahead. Glancing back, she calls to the others (or at least, to Mercury, the only one who seems to be behind her at this point). "Stay behind me if you can!"

Veronica Perenna has posed:
Veronica sighs as things turn out the way she expected, the green/dark mist launched by Pyrite dispersing as soon it hits the barrier she has surrounded herself with, her vision unaffected by the ghost girl trying to replicate Sailor Mercury's trick. She dissolves the barrier surrounding her with an outwards burst of energy, completely cinematic and not meant to do anything but impress.

"With all due respect, your kami senses are cow droppings! Everyone needs that fan to be returned to its rightful place, and that's what I will do." Veronica starts focusing her magic through her cane, bringing her hat down with a flourish and a smirk. "By this shine of moonlight, I shall do what is right!" The Princess of Sarek says, a beam of moonlight striking from the small ball among the cat's paws on handle of her cane in the direction of Pyrite.

Pyrite has posed:
    "Midnight Tokyo? Hm." She neither confirms nor denies she knows what that is. She isn't going to give more information than necessary. "But I want more spirits to play with. Is that not more important?" she asks in a tone that is a mix of both innocent and malicious. She may look like a little girl, but she is a monster, an old one, and it's easy to act like the thing she used to be.
    Then moonlight strikes Pyrite directly as she is focused on defending against the Ginga Bishounen by leaping backwards over and over to lure him closer to the shrine. She looks surprised as it pierces her. She seems to blur as if moving back and forth very, very quickly, or as if she is tearing apart in a phantasmal state or something. Maybe both. Maybe neither.
    The wind from the fan dies down, and no new ghostly fog appears to mix with Sailor Mercury's. She can't see through the offensive magic, but she can sense people still. And she can smell' them.
    "If you want this fan, you should be more cautious. It might be damaged in this battle!" she calls out as she falls back further, disappearing. No, not disappearing. She's still here. Her presence is still heavy like a physical weight. Like a cloak of skin with dead hands still gripping tight to the wearer's shoulders.
    She needs more time to recover from that weight light beam. So, in the meanwhile, skeletons suddenly emerge from the fog, scrabbling at Ginga Otome's barrier viciously but silently. At the same moment, more skeletons attempt to swarm Sailor Mercury. For the two who have threatened Pyrite the most, a different fate is in store. She raises herself up out of the fog suddenly, flying in the air--No. Not flying. She is being supported by a vast amount of smooth, straight, black hair that flows down below the fog layer. And there is
movement down there in the fog. Slithering darkness, shuffling and squirming. "I do not believe that you truly wish to protect this shrine. You were so quick to resort to violence." she calls out as hair tendrils lash out at Ginga Bishounen and the Princess of Sarek.

Wako Agemaki has posed:
"Mercury, here!" Within her shield, Ginga Otome lofts a little off the ground - not far, not yet, still not remotely clear of the skeletons that are trying to claw their way through the shell of purifying energy. Floating within the bubble, she twists in place, reaching back toward the Sailor Senshi. She can't see where Takuto is, but she can trust that he's holding his own. Meanwhile, she can at least cover their ally if she needs it.

She gives it a moment - two - long enough for Sailor Mercury to decide whatever she will. Then--

"Aurore Australe!"

The transparent curve of the shield flares with purifying light that pulses outward, pushing at the skeletons all around, hopefully giving the senshi an opening to reach the safety within.

"That's way too selfish!" she calls up to Pyrite. "'I want it so it's right, and you're wrong to stop me,' are you kidding? How about what the people who are getting hurt might want?"

Veronica Perenna has posed:
'Midnight Tokyo?' the Princess of Sarek thinks as turns quizzically towards the rest of the group as Pyrite mentioned those words. 'Right that was something Ginga Otome mentioned', she realises. 'I should ask her what that is once we are done here.' The Princess of Sarek extends her hands towards where Pyrite used to be, confident that the ghost girl would be able to see her anyway.

She raises three fingers from it, proclaiming "We have had two instances of fog today, I hope you appreciate my own brand." The girl does a pirouette around herself keeping her cane in front of herself, the shining cat handle releasing brilliant shimmers all over the place that actually do quite the opposite of a fog.

The soft light spreading around the area is one that undoes concealments, not letting anyone hide in the darkness of the night, be it 2 a.m. or midnight.

Veronica smirks after Pyrite's threat. "The form you hold is but an illusion: a sorcery meant to captivate the hearts of people. If it unravels, it will only return to its original state, and by that point, it will just be even easier for me to get it back", she explains, tapping her hat lightly with the cane handle.

Takuto Tsunashi has posed:
"Wako! How often do I use violence to protect?" calls Takuto, and the confidence in his voice is a laugh, and the laugh is only a little bit of a lie. Only a little.

It's a rhetorical question; there's PREHENSILE HAIR trying to get him right now. He's hovering in the fog and mist, and abruptly he's getting dragged down, and he yelps pretty satisfyingly loud before he bends over double to cut himself free. "Galactic Cross Slash!" the boy yells, making a giant glowing X in the air (in the hair?) with his star swords, then slashing as advertised. "Are you really just-- what is DOWN there?"

Ami Mizuno has posed:
The fog, regardless, would start to dissipate now. As others have handled the swords earlier, so she didn't need to deal with them. Instead, she's been using the time to figure out the cause of the dark energy distraction. Is this 'Pyrite' the cause?

Yes. Yes she is. "She's the cause of this all..." she announces, finally.

"...get that fan away from her, it'---" she isn't able to finish that sentence, because skeletons. Awful, foul smelling skeletons.

She clasps her fist together and with a punch worthy of a Belkan (Because her Belkan roomie trained her to!) throws it into the face of one of the Skeletons as one grabs her, moving to try to get free from it's clutches quickly!

Pyrite has posed:
    The skeletons are bashed away, but they don't exactly feel pain or fear, and they can just get back up. The hair is severed by Ginga Bishounen's swords, but there's plenty more where that came from. As three flavors of magic fog mix together, enemies' and allies' perception range is probably pretty limited. Even if she is doing big, hard-hitting, mecha-battle attacks, the unconventional attack methods and indirect combat seems to be heavily favoring the ghost girl. Especially if she is being powered up by the fan, as Sailor Mercury claims!
    Being dragged down slowly, strangled to death by the already-dead and cold, slick, wet hair that smells like old, and dead, and fresh blood, seems like it might be a real possibility here. No heroic final stand, no direct confrontation with the enemy, just having momentum gradually stolen, the warmth of life gradually bled out of them, the cold fog rolling in and smothering their cries, all in a world where time has stopped, and the people outside of it won't find out what really happened in the end.
    This isn't the kind of fight that most heroes are prepared for. They aren't prepared to be drowned in the mud like a common soldier as their team mates blindly trample them in the midst of their own frantic, deadly battle.
    But in this spiral of death, spirits swirling around and around, whispering in their ears that it's easier this way; that they were going to die eventually, and at least this way they can die together; that everyone's strength fails in the end, and even if they wish to fight to that last breath, it won't change anything and they will still go unknown into that final darkness like everyone else; the whispers of the dead who want their company -- it's simply not the stand-up slugging match or the disruption of a ritual or whatever it is they were prepared to face today. It's just slow, inexorable, patient death. Waiting for them at the end, ready to take them by the end even if they spew hate and defiance until the bitter end.
    The fog that the Princess of Sarek shares, however, is not tuly fog. It is light. A soft light that dispels illusions and removes concealment. And the power of the Ginga Otome is not simply magic. It is the power of a Shrine Maiden. And Sailor Mercury's computer is not inhibited by fog, magical or otherwise, and finds the weak point in all of this. And Ginga Bishounen has those powerful, deadly swords that have already proven to cut through even a ghost's cursed hair.
    Pyrite's eyes burn like hot coals when she realizes there's a shrine maiden present.
    She starts 'walking' on endlessly flowing black hair, fan in one hand, sword in the other, heading directly for Wako. And as she advances, she sings. "o/` Not everybody feels," Pyrite sings. "But everybody cries~. Not everybody lives, but everybody dies~. Not everybody wins, but everybody tries~." She raises her sword, with the tip pointed down at the priestess even as the spectral fog dissipates into nothing, and light starts to pierce the ghostly darkness, and skeletons vanish back to the hell they came from, and hair retreats to its source. Pyrite stops singing, just starting directly at Wako. She speaks the lyrics now, like she's just having a conversation. "Not everybody lives." She plunges the sword downwards. "But everybody dies."

Wako Agemaki has posed:
Takuto calls her name, and Wako laughs involuntarily. Startled, a little breathless, affectionate. How often does he use violence to protect? "Um, a lot!" she calls back. "You might to protect the powerless!"

Mercury seems to be managing - which is fortunate, because soon enough Pyrite's attention fixes onto the Galactic Maiden with a deeply unnerving intent. The singing voice drifts head of her, her slow advance materializing by degrees from out of the gloom. Wako lifts a hand, solidifying her shield around her--

--the sword comes down.

It rings against the shell of pure light, a noise like the striking of a bell. "Takuto-kun!" Wako cries out, hand upraised to hold her shield against the blow. "The fan!"

Ami Mizuno has posed:
Sailor Mercury dislikes this whole mess and that's an understatement. Skeletons she punches merely get back up. Even when she punches the head off one. She can feel one claw into her and she judo flips it quickly, grabbing and throwing it back into the ground and it too, will probably just get back up.

She has had quite enough. She tries to summon up her energy and "SHABON SPRAY FRE---" one of the skeletons grab at her and bring her down hard before she can finish her freezing attack.

She flails and gets back to her feet, out of the mud in Zero Time. She's wasted her time just getting back to her feet, taking a deep breath. She at least, made the weakness clear. And people are going for the fan. If her hypothesis is correct, her power will diminished heavily when it's out of her grasp.

Veronica Perenna has posed:
There is the perfect timing. Pyrite has reappeared like she set out to have her do, and most importantly she is entirely focused on Ginga Otome, who has erected a barrier to protect herself.

The Princess of Sarek turns ethereal again, launching herself speedily towards the ghost girl unobstructed by air or gravity, aiming for the fan that was held by her hand.

Turning back a second before reaching the hand, the Phantom Thief grabs the fan right out of it and with a swift movement, she hides it safely in her hat, which to those with a normal human vision never actually moved from her head.

"There, safe and done!" she exclaims, smiling confidently now the ghost girl can't rely on it anymore in an erect pose, the show off.

Takuto Tsunashi has posed:
"W-Wako! WAKO-CHAN!" Takuto cries out, seeing the girl go past him and unable to disentangle himself in time, unable to cut himself free-- but Wako has her apprivoise. She'll be fine. And the fan! The fan. But THERE ARE GHOSTS. But the fan. "THERE ARE GHOSTS!" he wails like it's completely unfair. There are skeletons. This is NOT like fighting giant robots. This is not cool AT. ALL.

"Easier this way?" he whispers to the ghosts. "No, I know. But I have a secret."

Takuto throws out his shoulders and yells, practically shredding his henshin as a giant X glares through his shirt and jacket from his chest, "APPRIVOISE!"

There's more henshin magic light but that's not the important part-- "Dashing Entrance!" because the important part "Dazzling the stage!" is that there's all of a sudden "Ginga Bishounen--" white-gold and red glowing solid-light energy armor in the phantom shape of a cavalier robot with an enormous smoke plume...plume, surrounding Takuto "TAUBURN!"

Then he's a big flying power armor cavalier and he says, "My secret is that the essential is invisible to the eye." He's got one sword over a shoulder and the other pointing at the little girl whose fan is in the process of getting stolen, and he says, "You're visible. What are you distracting us from?"

Pyrite has posed:
    The sword clashes against Ginga Otome's barrier. Black and white lightning flashes around the contact point, sending bolts lashing outwards. The cracks in reality riddling Zero Time like necrotized flesh widen under the pressure of divinity clashing with undeath. As the fan is snatched out of Pyrite's hand, the dark power that seethes around her, the enormous pressure of a miniature Death Demi-Goddess dragging hundreds of people down into a vortex of hungry ghosts that they can't even tell are there, all evaporates nearly instantly. Those burning coal eyes return to just being bright red eyes, the sword shatters against Ginga Otome's barrier, and the ghost scrambles off-balance on her prehensile hair until she lands on hands and knees.
    With Takuto double-henshining and demanding to know what she's hiding, the girl in the military uniform looks up, glowering unhappily. She points at Veronica. "That one is who claimed my form is but an illusion." Seems she misunderstood the Princess's usage of 'hold' to mean 'maintain' rather than the actual fan she was holding in her hand at the time. "So why are you asking me? I am just a ghost."
    She sinks down through the stone ground, in no condition to fight a powered-up Ginga Bishounen, let alone tangle with a shrine maiden without something to amplify her power. With that blue-haired girl and her greedy, greedy eyes peering into everything, seeking more and more secrets, and the one who now wields the fan... The odds are against her. So she isn't going to fight anymore. The spiral of death collapses, the green and black sky turning back into that of Zero Time, and the cracks gradually closing and sealing shut, even if it feels like, just for a moment, something inside of them just looked Takuto in the eye and saw him.
    Is that the end...?

Wako Agemaki has posed:
It's quiet, under the galaxy-field sky of Zero Time. Wako takes a breath or two to let the drumming of her heart subside a little, before she finally lowers herself back to ground level and lets her shield vanish.

Eventually, she manages to tear her eyes away from Ginga Bishounen Tauburn and his fancy new magical armor, and looks around to the others. Her gaze settles soon enough on the Princess of Sarek, now in possession of the fan that Pyrite held.

"Was that what was causing the trouble?"

Takuto Tsunashi has posed:
The ghost glowers and sinks into the ground, and the cracks look at him, and finally--

--finally it's with a literal full-body shudder that Takuto drops his double henshin and practically hyperventilates, half catching his breath and half just-- okay he's scrambling for Wako. "Wako-chan that was a ghost THAT WAS A GHOST and it's LOOKING at me--" If you don't want the abyss to look back, don't look into the abyss.

Veronica Perenna has posed:
"Great work, friends!" The Princess directs an energetic outburst towards the other mahous, before getting distracted by Ginga Bishonen's outburst of fright.

"You fought the ghost off yourself, and she's gone now either way", she exclaims, trying to say something that would help him calm down. She looks at what she has in her hat.

Yeah, she doesn't think getting the vase back like it was going to help any, and it's not like they are ok lacking in fresh air. "Would you perhaps like luminous sparks hanging around in the air?" Maybe something pretty like that would do the trick.

Pyrite has posed:
    Deep, deep beneath the Nezu Shrine, the conflict between light and dark has spawned plenty of energy that has gathered in a single dark crystal shard. Pyrite plants it the earth, over the leylines that flow beneath the shrine. On its own, it will do nothing. It is merely a point on a map of Tokyo. It will need a circle to activate.
    So, time to go tell Nephrite-senpai that he can start making the circle~.
    After she recovers from the exposure to that shrine maiden, that is...