3053/Darkest Nightmare

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Darkest Nightmare
Date of Scene: 06 January 2018
Location: Plot Room #1
Synopsis: Alexis comes to try to make things right with Lacrima. Instead, help saves Lacrima from The Prince of Nightmares with the help of a unicorn and various friends of Rashmi, Kokoro, Ikiko, Jiaying and Kunzite. CAUTION: Vamprie smooching a Unicorn.
Cast of Characters: Alexis Raskoph, Norie Okana, Ariel Theodore, Rashmi Terios, Kokoro Akakuma, Ikiko Hisakata, Jiaying Maki, Kunzite


Alexis Raskoph has posed:
"SUBJECT: NORIE STILL LIKELY UNSETTLED."

The loud, synthesized voice speaking in german echoes from within the desk drawer in "Alex's room" within the ECFH.

It's been a long time since the Device spoke to Alex, what with him effectively rejecting it. But now, in the middle of his usual routine of weight lifting, the voice draws his attention there. Weights are set down and away, and the drawer the dark-red, precious gemstone has been stashed into gets opened with a mutter of "...What are you talking about?" in german.

"SUBJECT IS CONSIDERED YOUR SISTER, YES?"

Alex double-takes at this. Perhaps reasonably, so. He definitely did not expect the Device to be aware of the little incident between him and the vampire in the hallway the other day.

"What do you...?"
"SUBJECT SEEMED TO MEAN WELL. SHOULD NOT LEAVE HER AS IS."
"...Care."

Alexis damn near slams the drawer shut again with that. He just barely keeps himself from doing it, instead turning on over to step to the side, and tap his fingers along the wall nearby, with his lean to it.

"CONFIRM: SUBJECT NORIE TREATED AS SISTER?"
"..."

Two hours later

Alex is a bit unused to having an easy method of maneuvering through the city. But buses still move, thankfully, even if they don't particularly do much good for his current state of paranoia when he's stepping out of the ECFH's premises for the first time in over a month now. But he bears with it. Just for this purpose alone.

The purpose of getting to her manor.

The manor of the sister he effectively adopted, before all this.

Making way across the yards before the building, with a hoodie flipped up over his face to keep away the eyes of any onlookers that might recognize him... well. He doesn't really suspect all that much of anything. He doesn't have any manner of detecting magic, afterall, not even that of Norie's despite having held a portion of her energy within himself for a while.

He comes upon the door, and lifts a hand to knock upon it--

It's open. Just barely so, but enough that he can see the door pushing out of the frame.

The door isn't usually left open.

His hand lowers to the handle, thus, and slowly, carefully draws the door open by it just enough he can slip in through, quietly. And stalk inside further.
Norie Okana has posed:
The Door is strangely ajar. Usually. It is quite super closed. The inside doesn't particularly look unsettled. It's in fact. Normal. How Alexis might normally expect it when he visits.

There's a rather large whine in the air suddenly as some sort of horrific blast sounds off somewhere behind the manor and it's enough that Alexis can feel the manor shake AND hear the sound of almost every window on the backside of the house shatter. What the hell was that?

*********

Out back, in the mostly overgrown garden that's become less overgrown since Lacrima's hobby has been 'taking out bad feelings on dead plants' for the past few weeks- it looks like there's been some big fight going on. Alexis will also see Lacrima be slammed across the way into the side of a nasty old broken shed down there that only breaks it further, and causes some rusty old garden tools that probably haven't been touched since the 40's from flying out and sticking into the ground in various places.

Her assailant seems to be some sort of elegantly dressed boy in an opera mask. People here are gonna recognize him as 'The Prince of Nightmares' for those that got messed up in the Nightmare business a few months back.

Lacrima pulls herself up. She got awfully impaled on some large wood shards, but those got left behind as if falling through her body. She looks ragged. How long has this battle been going on?

"...what is it you want. If it's her. She isn't here." she says tiredly. Oh god. She really really hopes Ariel isn't gonna choose today to visit now, but that's just a light tug at her head.

She obviously has more pressing matters to worry about.

"-and even if I knew where she was right now. I'm not telling /you/." she says sourly.

"So you can what? Do to her what you did to her mother? Or do the same things to others?" she says as she takes a deep breath, trying to suddenly zip forward to try to drag some sort of awful dark claw attack against the boy.

But so far she hasn't laid a single hit.

And she's getting tired. And slow. She can't keep this up. She can't...

Is someone in the manor? Oh dear. This is another distraction to her already currently 'a mess' brain.
Ariel Theodore has posed:
    "Zzz... Zzz..."
    Ariel had been snoozing peacefully; curled up under blankets in the waking world, while off in the land of dreams she had been... Busy.

    "Mom! Mom~! I think it's ready!"
    The small cottage in the woods by the sea had a very homey feeling now that the darkness had mostly receeded. There were still parts of the forest that were off limits, but for the most part Ariel's home had been returned to normal. Complete with the ancient unicorn and mermaid watching with amusement as their daughter decided to treat them to a homecooked meal. But there is a pause.
    "Ariel. You should wake up." "You're needed elsewhere, child." The two agree, earning a funny look from the tiny unicorn. "Um. Okay. I'll just leave this to yo-..."

    THUMP. Ariel falls right out of her futon, eyes shooting wide open, and wide awake as realization sinks in. There's a Nightmare somewhere about the waking world. With a bleat she throws on the first outfit she can find and is out the door, Lucky in tow.
    Heading in the direction she senses it from, at first is just general haste, but once she realizes the direction she's headed, Ariel's heart jumps in her chest.
    "I-isn't this the way to..."
    To Lacrima's manor. Even if she doesn't finish the thought, in no time, Alexis is joined by Ariel, mounted on Lucky's back, just in time to flinch as the back windows are decimated.
    "Ummm. H-hi mister Raskoph. Did you come to check on Norie, too? Maybe we should hurry."
Rashmi Terios has posed:
Having a break is a good thing... even if in this case 'break' means 'only seeing to school, homework, debate club, helping with the restaurant, reading Lord of the Rings for the fiftieth time, and spending time with friends.'

Rashmi's day planner tends to be very, very full.

But, it's been awhile since she's heard from Lacrima, and being the worrying sort Rashmi has collected enough takeout to feed a small army, and called Kokoro to see if the taller girl wanted to join on a visit. Running an assault on a possible Fortress of Angst requirs careful provisioning, after all...

"So Koko-chan," she chirps as the pair stroll out of the nearby station, "did you have plans for the weekend? Only, Napping Princess is coming back to Shibuya, and I never got to see it the first time around..." Because of course it would be a fantasy movie...
Kokoro Akakuma has posed:
    Food?

    Sold.

    "Huh? Nah, not really. Was just gonna head out and hit an arcade, or stay home and play mobile games, or something." Kokoro is walking along casually, probably carrying a lot of the food but not particularly burdened by the load; the long legs probably help with that. And the overall muscle tone. "I guess I could come out and see a movie or somethin', sure. Ain't really done a lotta that." Mostly because her life has not much allowed for it before she came to Tokyo. But that's another story entirely. Right now is-

    *grrrrowl*

    "...ain't much further to Lacrima's place, right?" Someone's hungry.
Ikiko Hisakata has posed:
Ikiko Hisakata had been out feeding some of the strays around Seishou when something started feeling a bit 'off'. At first it just felt like some sort of indeterminate looming, like something lurking over her shoulder without being aimed directly at her, but soon enough it started making the strays nervous as well.

Just when she was starting to turn around to look for whatever the dogs were glancing towards, her wolfmotes gathered together for visibility (or at least as much as they could manage with Ikiko not in henshin) and made a growling ball, facing in the direction the strays were glancing.

"That can't be good," Ikiko murmured to herself, then turned towards the strays. "I have to go deal with some stuff," she explained to the strays. "I'll be back later to pick the bowls and such up, but if you get done before I get back, could you move the stuff under that bush, please?"

The strays replied with a chorus of assents, and Ikiko started heading in the direction that her wolfmotes guided her, henshining to Cute Wolf Tsukiko as soon as she was out of sight of the strays. From the rooftops, the wolfgirl paused to get her bearings. The 7-15 wolfmotes were forming an arc, so that's probably the direction to start searching... wait, isn't that Lacrima's manor towards the center of that arc?

Could be a coincidence... but at least it's a place to start looking, she thought to herself as she starts cautiously bounding that direction.
Alexis Raskoph has posed:
The sound of several windows through the building sharply shattering into millions of pieces is hard to ignore. It turns Alex from stalking to moving much more hurriedly.

And then again to a sudden halt when an Ariel-carrying Lucky appears in nearly an instant. From underneath the hoodie's shade, he peers at the smaller unicorn girl with widened eyes. "I..."

That's the only word he manages to utter before he manages to see through a window to the backyard.

To the Norie impaled upon shards of wood and closed in on by a menacing figure.

"I..."

No more words. No proper response to Ariel. He just runs. He doesn't even bother to find a proper door to let him to the backyard. He actually *leaps through one of the broken windows*.

He doesn't even wait to see if Ariel actually follows after him. WIth the hood flipping back away from his head, he just runs. And runs. Straight towards that Prince, as if his legs move on their own.

WHy am I doing this?

The voice echoes through his conscious mind, while the rest of the world, and the advance towards the masked figure moves in slow motion.

Why have you done anything in your life?

The responding voice is younger. Familiar, but younger.

Because they decided it. Isn't that it? All the pain and all the hardship, even all the victories-- it was because they chose it!
Is that really all though?

Where has he heard that voice before?

...ANd is that voice the same one foolishly lifting his fist up against this being of immense supernatural power?
Norie Okana has posed:
Lacrima is trying to speak to The Prince of Nightmares. Which isn't speaking back for some reason. Maybe there is nothing to say. Maybe he's just here to kill her and then move onto the others. Maybe....

Her eyes turn to... is that. Alexis? Why-- why is he.... oh god. Ariel on Lucky.

This isn't going to help her. Alexis can't /fight/ this thing and Ariel isn't going to fight. She goes to yell out. Tell them to run or hide.

But she doesn't even get a single word out before the Prince of Nightmares just shoves a hand into her.

Not in the way of an attack. The arm goes about almost up to his elbow without actually coming out the otherwise like he was physically rending her.

/Then she just begins screaming and suddenly forcing all the energy she can into literarly just getting as far back as she can./.

When there is no longer an arm inside her, she just sort of stands entirely still for a moment before she collapses in on herself and grabs her knees up to her stomach.

"A...aahhh~" she whimpers out, she's rocking back and forth lightly- and her breathings picked up a bit. Everything is on fire inside her. What just happened.

The Prince turns it's attention to Alexis. Who is foolishly trying to attack him.

He in turn. Raises his hand back. A simple burst of black horrible energy lances out toward's Alexis.

Then he looks at Ariel.

Oh. That's not at all a kind, comforting grin her just gave her.
Ariel Theodore has posed:
    At first, Ariel doesn't see what's going on through that window. Alexis gets an utterly baffled look when he doesn't give her a real response and goes booking it through the house.
    "Uwah... Lucky, follow him." She prompts her canine steed, before gently and with a touch more concern she follows up, "And be careful of broken glass, okay?"
    Unlike Alexis, even in haste, Ariel uses doors, and when she opens the door to the backyard and garden Lucky halts dead in his tracks and Ariel stares on in rapt horror, just in time to catch the sight of the Nightmare Prince thrusting his arm into Lacrima's chest. Her jaw hangs slack for a beat before fingers clench into Lucky's fur and the sight truly registers for her.
    "NORIE!"
    She doesn't even wait for her mount to bring her closer, she leaps off Lucky's back and rushes to Lacrima's side utterly needless of the danger. Arms go right around Lacrima to try and keep her on her feet and edge her back out of harm's way... Only to see that grin, and freeze like a deer trapped in headlights.
Alexis Raskoph has posed:
"NORIE!!!!!"

The scream is pained. Angry. It does nothing to slow down Alexis. The opposite. He sprints on with every damn bit of strength he can muster in his muscles.

... And right towards that lance of black energy. It closes in rapidly. Faster than he can react to.

It doesn't matter, his voice echoes in the depths of his mind. I was never meant for it anyhow. This is how and where I die now.

Why weren't you meant for it? the younger voice echoes in response. You remember the pain you saw in the people in your class, back then? How it made you feel?

Images flash through. Life rewinding before his eyes. Just like everyone who has had a near-death experience says they do. But these images are focused. Memories of people in need of help. Memories of sweat and blood and pain suffered in trying to help.

All those things I did were a lie.

But how did you feel?

Someone in Berlin cries tears of joy, responded to by a bloodied smile.

Was that a lie?

In the ECFH, Norie cries purple tears to stain into Alex's shirt.

Were theirs a lie?

The older voice hasn't said anything for a while. Only just then, does it speak up again. Does it matter? Even that wish was a lie.

Maybe, a five-year old Alexis says then, looking up, wide-eyed. But wasn't it a beautiful one?

"...I want to be..." whispers Alex, as he stares into the black mass approaching. And stomps his foot down with the inexplicable appearance of a translucent, glowing, red triangular runic inscription setting in between him and the lance, reducing it into barely anything with how off-handed the Prince must have been with the use of it.

Can I be? the voice of a sixteen-year old Alexis asks, after finding out about magic.

I'm not it, a Vampire Alexis growls, after realizing what the influence of Dark Energy drove him to do.

A red glow shines through the fabric of the pocket of Alexis' pants' pocket.

I can't be it, the post-coma Alexis whined, after finding out what his parents had done to him.

"Kriegsfauste--"

I want to be--! a bright-eyed, five-year old Alexis exclaimed.


"ENGAGIEREN!!!


I will be a hero for them.


It's quick. Hard to keep track of. Alexis is no longer there, where the beam was meant to pierce.

And instead, a large, steel fist smashes straight into the opera mask -covered face of the Prince of Nightmares with enough force to easily shatter the bones of any normal human. Enough to blow the figure away several paces.

An armored, shining steel boot stomps onto the ground. There stands a Knight of Steel. A black, sleeveless longcoat reminiscient in style of old student outfits flows about him, reaching down just past the knees of his armor-covered legs, left open to bare out the dark, gold-highlighted breastplate over a grey undersuit. Past the bared biceps revealed by the lack of sleeves in the coat, hands covered all the way up to the elbow by heavy gauntlets gripped tightly into fists. Face covered by a full-head helmet, with it's downwards-extending faceplate bearing a t-shaped visor that glows a hot orange of sheer fury to stare towards the Prince.
Ikiko Hisakata has posed:
A zigzagging rooftop path gives Tsukiko some triangulation data: whatever it is that the wolfmotes are reacting to, it's in the vicinity of Lacrima's manor.

This is further confirmed by a shockwave of impact emanating from the backyard of the manor -- a brief gust with no hint of dark energy behind it; some sort of massive physical blow, then.

The wolfgirl adjusts her vector slightly, aiming for Lacrima's manor and leaping there. In the moments before landing, she takes in the scene: Lacrima in pain, Ariel tending to Lacrima, a knight in armor with a jacket, and...

The Prince of Nightmares.

Oh.

That's why the wolfmotes were reacting.

"Minipack: Guard!" Tsukiko shouts as she touches down, directing the wolfmotes to make a defensive formation near Ariel and Lacrima to help ward against the Nightmare Prince. The wolfgirl faces the Nightmare Prince with a 'ready to fight' stance and a growl, with a brief glance towards the Steel Knight. Why does that jacket remind her of someone...?
Rashmi Terios has posed:
As the pair closes in on the haunted manor, Nicomachea makes a muffled, warning sound inside Rashmi's bookbag. Her eyes snap toward the direction of the house, in time to see a beam of black energy lance out through one of the walls, at a shallow angle but high enough to pass over the nearby buildings.

"Dengeki," she murmurs, "we need to run."

Passing Kokoro one of the delivery boxes, she fumbles in her bag on the run, drawing out Nicomachea's charm. Her clothes glow a bright yellow for a moment, then shatter away to reveal her Barrier Jacket, armored book tucked under one arm. "Nicomachea I want a Barrier with a one-block radius, centered on Lacrima's house. Set it up the moment we're within range."

*bing!* << COMMAND INPUT READY, MASTER. >>
Kokoro Akakuma has posed:
    Though Kokoro has not had friends for long, she has learned to trust what few she does without hesitating. Perhaps moreso than a normal person, purely out of her tendency to pick a course of action and stick with it, rather than waffling or hesitating. It's a trait that can make the difference between victory and defeat in a fight; even a bad call is better than standing there doing nothing.

    So when Rashmi says 'run', Kokoro runs.

    Too bad about those boxes of delivery. As soon as they reach the front door, Kokoro's just going to drop them. Right where they are. Food's probably gonna be a mess. And for that matter, so's the front door. Sorry about that, Lacrima. But there's a magical girl wrapped in thunder and angry, rushing to your aid right now. The furniture's less important than that, right?
Jiaying Maki has posed:
Jiaying Maki hasn't been the most observant lately, having been focusing on a number of things not related to going out nightly. Which is why she's slow on the uptake. If she's not zoned out in one way, she's zoned out in a completely different way. She slipped from her room, dressed to downplay anything strange. She's darting towards the source of darkness, getting a dark look when she realizes where it's coming from. With her hood pulled up, she slides down a nearby building and darts the rest of the way, still barefoot, though wrapped at least.

She doesn't say where she was, or what she was up to, but she does make it on time to realize it's probably not the fault of an experiment gone wrong again. Working her fingers a few times, she looks to the three that started here, calls out, "What happened?" The mist around her fading away as it coalesces into a long polearm, shimmering, see-through and a faint shade of blue. The the streamer seen with most being a flowing strand of mist leading back to the foxgirl. She doesn't recognize at least one of the new people here, doesn't know the situation and doesn't charge headfirst for once.
Kunzite has posed:
There's something wrong, was all Mamoru was able to tell Kazuo at first, or what the words boiled down to. It took time to narrow it down, time and moving, contact with the earth. More time than it should have. But that's normal now. He couldn't guess at what was wrong. Only at a place.

But it's a place Kunzite has been to before. And therefore there is a column of energy-seared darkness that swallows him, that sets him in a place between the park they used and Lacrima's manor. It's harder for him to travel that road now, more of an effort to drown himself in the living night that runs beneath the Earth's crust and surface again. He takes time. He breathes, and soaks in a few instants of sunlight, and submerges himself again.

This time, the magic leaves him in a place on the manor grounds proper, sheltered from the street. For an instant, it's hard to tell from where he's standing that anything at all is going on; the shattered glass doesn't show from here, he arrived a fraction of a second too late to hear the shrieks of Norie's name. Not too late to hear Tsukiko's shout.

Not too late to hear Alexis's.

He moves. If he has more trouble interfacing with the Earth's energies these last few months, he can still ask it for favors; he leaps, touches a piece of roof without fear of architecture collapsing under him, comes down in the back yard. Surveys the standoff --

-- Kunzite's teeth show in something approximating a smile. Of course there's a longcoat. How else does a jacket evolve?

He lifts his hands, and darkness starts to flow upward between the Prince of Nightmares and where Lacrima and Ariel huddle together. The Prince might react faster than his familiar shield can establish itself. The Prince might simply shatter it; it wouldn't be the first time. But it might buy Alexis a few moments. And a few moments of that lifetime's worth of anger finding an outlet ... well. That's a different kind of nightmare for its target altogether.
Norie Okana has posed:
Lacrima can't keep on her feet. She's burning. She isn't on fire, but she's burning. What did he /do/. Everything is fuzzy and dizzying and she can't keep track anymore. She can hear calls of various names, but not that much more. She can feel the small girl trying to tug her somewhere out of harms way but she can't actually help with that right now.

She blinks once at Alexis. She opens her eyes and someone else is there. Her brain is having trouble processing whos and wheres and whens right now.

The Prince of Nightmares is still not talking. There's expressions and actions but no words. He does FEEL on some level like the Prince at least. Right now there's a head tilt as the boy who just was gonna raise a hand turns into some other magic hero----

WHO then immediately punches him in the face. He goes flying backwards, a rocketing punch to the face--- but he somehow doesn't fall. And stops himself. This gets an odd stilted chuckle from him as he rights his postures. There's others arriving. There's a barrier coming up. There's Kunzite with a barrier coming up. And a rushing Kokoro and soon to be arriving Rashmi.

There's a sudden rock out of explosive dark energy just outwards centered outwards from the Prince's location. It rocks across the ground and aims to try to smash into others.

Lacrima manages finally manages to mutter out. "Burning." she mutters. She sort of blurrily stares at the wolfmotes. She looks to Ariel. "A..ari. S-stop. Others. Here now." she says through her teeth. "Burning." she reiterates again as she writhes. She's crying. Or starting to as she closes her eyes tightly. This is too much pain. What's happening. She has to think. Hard to think. Hunger.
Ariel Theodore has posed:
    Ariel is holding onto Lacrima tightly, doing the best she can to drag her back while incapacitated, Lucky even gripping a portion of the girl's clothes in his teeth to try and help, before actually doing something to help about the prince. There's a light, and she covers her eyes. When she glances up again there's a Knight where Alexis had been mere seconds ago. "A-ah..."
    And then others begin to arrive. It's practically a red letter day for Ariel right now when Tsukiko emerges and a familiar darkness- one she need not feel worried about shrouds her and the vampire.
    Ariel puts her trust in the wolfmotes and Kunzite's shielding as she drops to a knee, choosing to hunker down and defend a single small space as her own dreamsteel armor manifests and she hunches forward- adding a third layer of protection for Lacrima then and there.
    Her own body.
    "E-everyone..."
    Wow she is happy to see people arriving. But something is wrong. "That's... That doesn't feel right... That's not really him-" She starts to say, before her attention focuses on Lacrima and solely lacrima, holding her tightly. "B-burning? What did it do?"
Alexis Raskoph has posed:
"Down!" a voice growls out form behind the plating of the helmet covering the coated Knight's head, stepping sidelong closer to Tsukiko with a hand brought up.

Lacrima has *so many layers of protection right now*, but him and Tsukiko don't necessarily so--

"Panzerschilde!"

From the outstretched hand, about the open palm, a wide double-triangled rune forms up again, all shiny red lights, to act as a shield against the assault of energy from the Prince(?), making an effort to help protect himself and Tsukiko.

"Can you help make sure she and Ariel will be fine?" he says then, while maintaining the shield against the flow of it all, voice a bit more boomy and echoy as if modulated by the helmet itself so as to still be heard.

Ariel's words draw the t-visor towards her and Lacrima, and there's a growl of a sound. "WHoever it is, he still *messed up*. TERIOS!"

He didn't even look back to actually see Rashmi. Kriegsfauste may well have internally informed him of the source of the barrier that suddenly envelopes the whole area.

"MAKE A PATH UP THERE!"

He's not about to mention it, but he can't fly. And the Prince apparently isn't intending to reach the ground again.
Rashmi Terios has posed:
Now there's a spell she hasn't used in some time. "On it!" she says, book open and flipping through pages of its own accord. As she skids to a halt next to Lacrima, the magic circle spreads beneath her feet.

*bing!* << WING ROAD. >>

...Apparently Nicomachea wasn't content with just making a path up to the Prince's location. Instead, the ribbon of runes and light twists and weaves all around the assailant, providing a plentitude of angles from which to engage. And, even handier, its own local gravity to keep one from falling off the loops and spirals!

"Dengeki, Raskoph-san's on point! Back him up however he needs!"

It's hard to miss the pride that sparkles in the redhead's eyes, at the sight of Alexis taking his opportunity in both hands. But, now she has a Lacrima to help protect, and an attacker to watch get the beating of his immortal life.
Jiaying Maki has posed:
Jiaying Maki shrugs and mutters to herself in Chinese. She didn't get an answer really, but a friend's apparently on fire, there's a shouting German guy, a big scary guy and a bunch of shields going up. So she turns to confront the big scary guy. Guandao held lightly under her arm, she pads forward, suddenly leaps towards the wall, then up at the Prince while lashing out at the shell of the thing, leaving a trail of mist while she shouts at it in Chinese, something taunting based on her voice. Successful or not with her attempt to keep it distracted, the mist seems to be lingering, trying to blind the thing with the magical essence.

Landing with a flip into a roll, she stands up, brushes herself off and points her guandao straight at the thing and grins. Eyes almost luminescent beneath her hood, though little else.

She didn't really get an answer as to what's going on, but there's a familiar name called out. Glancing back, she doesn't quite make the connection, but she does take a few steps back, maybe trying to cover a side, keep things from getting out of hand. That sort of thing. Sure she'd rather be over there checking on Norie, but when there's a pile of people, all trying to do that... she'd probably get in the way.
Ikiko Hisakata has posed:
Tsukiko's natural instinct is to try to evade the surge of dark energy, but if the Steel Knight has an idea in mind, she's willing to go along with it. She hunkers down behind the shield, her ears perking towards Ariel's words before flitting back to the knight.

"I'll see what I can do," the wolfgirl nods to the knight, whose voice sounds close to being familiar. As she heads over to lend close support to Ariel and Lacrima, she hears Rashmi's call to Dengeki. That's Alexis? No wonder the jacket struck such a familiar vibe!

Now amidst the layered defenses surrounding Lacrima and Ariel, Tsukiko looks to the two of them. "Asides from defense, what do you need my help with?" she asks, trusting in her wolfmotes to provide warning about the Nightmare Prince's actions.
Kokoro Akakuma has posed:
    Smash goes Kokoro. Things which are dumb enough to be in her way are just going to have to regret their choices as inanimate objects. Right now, she needs to get out to the back yard, where- ...where Lacrima is hurt. Bad. And Ariel is holding her. And some armored dude is fighting aaaaaaw crap it's that guy again. Seeing that face makes things a lot more simple; she can't heal Lacrima, so she'd just be in the way. That guy in the trench is fighting the Nightmare Prince, so that makes him an ally. And the Nightmare Prince is almost certainly responsible here. Which means there's exactly one course of action she can take.

    "...wait, that's Raskoph?"

    Is Kokoro grinning?

    "OI, RASKOPH! LET'S GIVE 'IM A BAD DAY!"

    Dengeki Shoujo goes hurtling right up and over Alex's shield, hammer already crackling with built-up voltage as she ascends. She's not really more mobile than Alex is - but she's got the inhuman strength to just fling herself up into the air, and an uncanny knack for judging the angle just right. Just right, such that she'll be coming down towards the Prince from above, in an attempt to smash him back down to the ground.
Norie Okana has posed:
Kunzite's shield protects Lacrima and Ariel easily enough. Even if this isn't the 'real' Nightmare Prince, it's still a sold hit and causes it to crack and break however. THOUGH it still does it's job of keeping everyone beyond it safe.

Lacrima gets a vauge idea in the back of her burning head and looks to the bracelet on her arm. The same one Riventon-sama designed for her. Oh god. It's blinking red and it's usage is at it's max.

"...o..oh no." she mutters. "A...ari-chan? I.. I think. It.. it damaged. The wall between my soul and the dark energy." she mutters. "I think.. I think I'm eating myself." she says.

Ohhh that is god awful. Mainly the soul that stops her from 'actually' being a monster.

MEANWHILE.

Jiaying slashes at the 'Prince' and distracts him for a moment, enough for various 'tracks' all appear up in the area- made of shimmering runic magic ribbons which give Alexis and Kokoro various methods in which to get up there and hurt the current aerial prince.

Well. Kokoro is leaping into the air at least on her own volition.

That's kinda like Superman flying almost! Classic Superman.

Alexis gets a mighty superhuman magical punch into the face of the jerk. Which sends him spinning.

He's about to retaliate when a shadow overcomes his face. Some sort of attack or power up!? Oh. No that's just Kokoro's shadow. Coming down on him. Which sends him screaming back into the ground with a thunderous 'kaboom'.

Whatever that nightmare was, sort of screams out awful in agony before turning into some sort of black puddle of nothing. That seeps back down into the Nightmare Prince shaped crate it landed in. Either to run away or... well maybe just die.

Too bad the awfulness isn't over yet. Not just yet anyways.
Rashmi Terios has posed:
Her spell utilized, Rashmi manages, mostly, to stifle a 'yessss!' when the attackers bring the pain to the Not-mare Prince. Whatever else she might say, however, is cut off sharpish as Lacrima speaks about her soul being devoured by her own powers. Her eyes as large as dinner plates, the redhead turns to Ariel, face going ashen. "Ari-chan.... what do we do?"
Alexis Raskoph has posed:
There's plenty enough distraction going on that Alex allows himself to hazard to leave the shield and hunch forward-- with Belkan Runes of glowing red suddenl forming underneath his feet.

"Are you ready?" His voice booms and rumbles, and the runes explode in a sharp burst of light-- and he's launched off to zooming through the looping tracks set up by Nicomachea at a superhuman charge.

"HERE I COME!!!!"

It's nearly instantenous, the travel across the pre-made tracks, and it carries the Knight all the way through with a raised, armored fist encircled by more runes. And thus with an explosive burst of power, that fist in a massive gauntlet slams into the prince's ugly mug with a loud roar of "ORA!!!" and the impact damn near causing a hefty shockwave of it's own.

He skids along the tracks to a stop, and... jumps to the side and right off. Is he escaping a counterattack?

No.

He's getting out of the way of a Kokoro-meteor.

And once the HAMMER DOWN! sends the Prince plummeting down through the Magic Hot Wheels Tracks, Alex comes right down along with him, pounced off from the remaining tracks. No, not along with him. After him.

So that the whole time he can launch vicious punches at the damn bastard JUST BECAUSE, heralded with hotblooded cadence of "ORAORAORAORAORAORAORAORAORAORAORAORAORA!!!" all the way up until the terminal velocity brings them cratering the ground.

With a rapidly fading black puddle left underneath the coat-fluttering figure of kneeled down, fist-to-the ground Steel Knight. SLowly lifting up his helmeted head with bright flare through the t-visor.

But really isn't over. He acknowledges that the foe is gone now, but... Norie.

His sister.

He's from zero to hundred again in less than a second. Speeding across the cratered and battered back yard of the manor grounds towards the collection of people.
Kunzite has posed:
Kunzite's concentration was on keeping his shield -- the attack would hit it first, then he'd have an instant to clear the explosion himself. In theory. In practice, the shield's cracking and breaking threw him ... and then the attack proper threw him farther. What it would've been like without the wolfmotes, he neither wants to nor takes time to think about; he collects himself enough to get an answer from his body on which direction up is, and then pushes himself that direction, hesitating long enough to consult his knee and ankle on whether they're actually broken or merely complaining loudly. Not ... quite loudly enough to abuse his power to try to provide them a support. But when he rises, he's some ways behind the Steel Knight, and moving slowly.
Kokoro Akakuma has posed:
    It doesn't take Kokoro long either. She's more than happy to just stand back and watch Alex tear the Prince a new 'everything', but that just means she's in position to hear what Lacrima says. So she's not far behind Raskoph when he goes running over there, although she's going to hang back a few paces. Mostly because she's not sure what she'd even do to help - probably the best thing she CAN do right now is 'not be in the way'.

    Of course, that's going to leave her tense, not being able to help. But she'll just have to deal for now.
Jiaying Maki has posed:
Jiaying Maki watches the creature sort of collapse. There's a few moments of quiet as she tries to process that. Letting go of the guandao, it splashes to the ground, almost making it there before it turns back into mist around her ankles. She leans from one side, to another. There's mention of a soul being devoured. That's definitely out of her influence, it's still attached to something after all. She hurries over to Norie, muttering to herself in Chinese the whole time. She's got a few half crumpled spell tags that are pulled out, set down and stared at.

It's easy to tel she's not sure what to do at this point. Anyone with a passing knowledge of Chinese would catch hints of talking to various bureaucracies, none of which sound earthly and prooobably a bit of a reach for her. There's the idea of purification, burning away the dark to buy time, but that's probably a bad idea right? Eventually she sits down next to Norie, hood pulled down lower over her face. "You have to fight it." She finally offers in Japanese, her voice strained while standing there unmoving, afraid to interfere, but not wanting to just stand there at the same time.
Ariel Theodore has posed:
    That wasn't him. It looked like him, but it wasn't. But that menacing grin was real enough when it made Ariel freeze... Nevertheless, Ariel remains holding on to Lacrima rather than join in on the assault of the fake Nightmare Prince. She barely flinches as cracks form in the shield around them; putting her trust in those protecting her and Lacrima. Her trust is not unfounded when the youma is soundly vanquished.
    But there are other matters at hand. The unicorn goes tense, looking practically aghast at what Lacrima says. Lips flutter but no words come out for a beat. Rashmi looks to her on what to do. Topaz eyes flick upwards, wide and lost.
    This is her best friend in her arms, telling her she's devouring herself. What does a girl do in this situation?
Ikiko Hisakata has posed:
Tsukiko's eyes widen at Lacrima's words. "Um," she says. "That... might be a bit more than what I can help with at the moment."

With the Mockmare Prince defeated, the wolfmotes stat milling about, a couple of them nuzzling Lacrima worriedly. Assorted ideas come to Tsukiko's mind, all of them various shades of impractical, inaccessible, and/or other shades of flawed. "No wonder it's so easy for crafted items to eventually become cursed," she mutters to herself as she shoots down another infeasible idea.
Norie Okana has posed:
Lacrima can hear words. And call outs. And that tense feeling of whatever that thing's badness was starts to dissipate and it gives her a little more brainspace. Of all the words coming out to her, there's one that sticks out.

'You need to fight it.'

".....why bother?" she says more despondently as she almost 'squeaks a little in pain as she closes her eyes eyes.'

"What would be the point of that?....."

"To try again? To have everything shoved over again on me in a few months?...." she asks. "Again. And again. and again....?" she asks.

"What would be the point." she asides again.

"No one wants me anyways." she says quietly, as she just kind of wraps her arms around herself. "My own brother doesn't want anything to do with me. Natsumi-san didn't either....." she says quietly. "... and the brother who wanted me thinks I'm some mind control mistake or something." she says.

"It's better to just let this thing finish. Then whoever can kill the leftover souless energy with a clean conscious." she says quietly.

She clutches at herself again. God that hurts.

"It'll be better that way. I can stop being peoples problem then." she says.

Though part of it sounds like self convincing too. As often things are.
Kokoro Akakuma has posed:
    Step, step. Falter. "...huh?" Kokoro's face falls a little. Violet eyes grow troubled. "Lacrima, that ain't... we don't..." Hearing those words coming out of Norie is not something she expected at all, and faced with something like this, she discovers... she discovers she's not ready. That she doesn't know what to do. "O-oi, Lacrima, that's... ain't nobody sayin' that. We... we wouldn't be here if we didn't..." It's hesitant, tense. She shoots Rashmi the briefest look. A silent, worried, 'help'.
Rashmi Terios has posed:
"Why...?!" Rashmi bites off the rest of her indignance, she kneels down to take hold of Lacrima's shoulders. Looking up, she spots Kokoro's pleading look, and nods, drawing in a deep breath.

"There are people who care about you so much, Lacchan. People who want to see you get everything you ever want, no matter how impossible or crazy it is. And you can do that, but you have to keep fighting to have it, Lacchan. Koko-chan and I brought you lunch, because we worried about you and wanted to be sure you were all right!"

Biting on her lip, the redhead tries to make and hold eye contact with the vampire. "I know you're in a bad place right now, Lacchan... That's the Nightmare Prince's specialty, remember? The last time we fought him, and what he did to all of us? Well... he's done it again, but harder, and you need to fight it off. Please, Lacchan. For your own sake."

Trailing off, she looks up again, as if asking someone, anyone, to step forward and back her declaration up.
Kunzite has posed:
Kunzite is not in the first row, not fighting for a place by Lacrima. Let those who are more impassioned, better at matters of the heart, do that. He's quiet for a moment. Thinking.

"If we can get her to take from us," he says after a moment. "Flood the hunger with enough of our energy and identity to shield her from it for a little while. She might be able to reconstruct the barrier. Or we might be able to reach Riventon." Never mind what happened the last time Lacrima fed from him. That's an acceptable risk. Unless -- he searches the others' faces -- someone else has a better idea.

Because any plan where the best course of action is to consult Riventon is a terrible one.
Alexis Raskoph has posed:
The rapid steps on the part of the Steel Knight slow down, steadily. All the way up until he's brought up to the grouping of people, pushing past some if necessary even.

And down to one knee besides Ariel and Lacrima, as if on cue with Rashmi's pleading looks.

"You mean this brother?"

The booming, rumbling voice precedes the t-visored helmet suddenly retracting a plate at a time backwards around his head, until it eventually simple fades away into a dust of mana, revealing the caucasian features of Alexis Raskoph, his green eyes looking down to the vampire with a saddened smile.

"Hey, Imouto," he whispers, with a hand reached down over to carefully brush a bit of purple hair away from the girl's face, without interrupting Ariel's hold on her. "Did you see? I found something that's real." The hand moves down away from her face, to grasp onto her hand, and squeezing. "You have something real around you, too, don't you? Something that's not going to leave. Not again." His head dips downwards, and he shuffles in a bit closer on that one knee, as much as he can, anyhow. "Come on. Come see where that dream leads us, won't you?"

His eyes close, after having said that, and in a voice that's much more audible to everyone again, he declares simply, "Whatever it takes. Anything."
Ikiko Hisakata has posed:
"Friends are the family you choose, Lacrima," Tsukiko points out, nodding to Rashmi. "We're here for you."

She gives Kunzite a wry smile. "I could try to have my wolfmotes burrow in to help keep the darkness from eating her soul, but I can see at least three critical problems with that plan, plus several other major ones," the wolfgirl admits.
Jiaying Maki has posed:
Jiaying Maki listens quietly for a few moments. She shakes her head and reaches out and says, "What is wrong with trying again? You keep pushing on, you don't give up right?" She pulls her hood down, at least revealing her face properly and tries to give Norie a hug. "You shouldn't give up, you should push it back, stuff it back on the other side." She frowns, that doesn't sound quite right, but still. There's a hug and she's hiding some tears and there's a bunch of people here to help.
Ariel Theodore has posed:
    Ariel hasn't let go for so much as a single second, the whole time. Even when Lacrima wraps arms around herself, Ariel is still holding her.
    'Why bother?'
    'What would be the point?'
    'It's better to just let this thing finish.'
    'I'll be better that way.'
    Ariel flinches physically with each statement, looking more and more distraught as each one comes worse than the last.
    'I can stop being people's problem.'
    The unicorn is practically quaking where she kneels. Though her experiences with death have been few, they have been enough to teach her very real and stingingly painful lessons about the world she would have never learned had she spent all of her life in a certain dream by the sea. Fingers clench Ariel bites on her lip, seemingly hopeless and just holding on tightly as the others draw in closer, trying to overpower one girl's despair with their hope.
    'Ain't nobody sayin' that.'
    'There are people who care about you so much!'
    'If we can get her to take from us.'
    'You mean this brother?'
    'Friends are the family you choose.'
    'You shouldn't give up.'
    Ariel's world is practically spinning, shoulders trembling. Throat dry, words fail her where others have something to say. But it is Alexis who snaps the unicorn out of her internal boiling panic.

    'Come see where that dream leads us'.

    Ariel bites on her lip. She does not want to lose her friend, but moreso she doesn't want that friend to become something terrible and need to be destroyed. And everyone around her is of like mind...
    It takes much to move a unicorn to tears; even one as young and new to the world as Ariel, but Ariel has no words to give in the moment, where others have already said feelings she mirrors perfectly. She simply inclines her head. Where she has no words, there is something else, given in the form of the single prismatic tear that wells in her eyes, an outpouring of all the hopes, dreams, and love being outpoured now given physical form that slips free of her eye and rolls down a pale cheek, and onto Lacrima.
Norie Okana has posed:
Right now. The thing's she's being asked... it's like asking her to politely ask a glass of water not to make anything yet before spilling it over something important. She can't adjust the barrier herself. If she could... she would had been experimenting with that already.

"....feeding would only buy me a little time." she says quietly. "I don't think I have much longer as it is." she says quietly.

She's listening to everybody but she has no other words, except when the armored person speaks and she blinks. "....Alexis-niisan....?" she asks quietly. "...I thought you didn't....trust that...." thing? Device? Probably she means that but she winces before she can think on it too much. "I can't fight it." she says quietly. "It doesn't matter."

She wipes an arm across her arm, and wipes her eyes because she has been crying. And still is. She manages to bring herself to look at Ariel, finally. Who in fact hasn't let go.

"....Ari-chan?...." oh. Something about that hurt worse than her current situation. "Ari-chan....please don't cry...." she says, just a little pleading. "....I'm sorry...." she says quietly. "I'm terrible..." she says. "Please?...." she says. "I can't..." all she can do right now is hold back. Despite her shaking. The burning.

Then there is a tear. And it rolls down Ariel's cheek. and onto her.

And that burns worse. It burns terribly. It burns terribly because it's pure. And light. And it's burrowing through like a tiny drill bit right now. Norie's nature is to consume. That's what she is. She's a vampire. And that applies to her even herself.

BUT.

Ariel has her own nature.

The tear colldies with the current ongoing struggle in her own body and it's a little burst of.... something. As the barrier that protects her soul- her being from her own self as it were, repairs itself.

Maybe that isn't a good term for what actually happens. Repair infers going back to the way it was before. This. feels. different.

The shaking stops, for one. The burning is still there. But it's slowing down. It's becoming manageable.

Lacrima softly blinks and shakes her head. "A..Ari-chan...please don't cry....please....?" she begs. "Please don't... I...I..." Lacrima will probably look back at this moment with awkward, blushing frustration and maybe a bit of happy thoughts as she--- falls forward and gently places what is a very short kiss to the unicorn girl's lips. It isn't short. But it isn't needlessly long.

But afterwards "I...feel so tired...." is all she can manage as she slumps down against Ariel and seemingly pass out.

The bracelet's red light switches off. And the odd, runic mid-childian number indicating dark energy flow resistance begins to tick down at a consistent rate of 1 a second.

Whatever happened. Lacrima seems currently and miraculously stable.
Rashmi Terios has posed:
Settling back on her heels, Rashmi looks from Lacrima, to Ariel, to Alexis and back, eyes bright and shiny. And there are a lot of reasons for that; Alexis has accepted Kriegfauste, Lacrima's soul has been saved, and she got to witness the healing power of sad unicorns. I mean, there are bucket lists some girls have, and that last one has crossed a line out with a rainbow glitter gel pen.

In short, though there was worry getting there, today has been A Good Day for Rashmi.
Ariel Theodore has posed:
    Still shaking, eyes squeezed shut, almost too afraid to see if her tear helped or harmed worse, Ariel remains still and waits. The girl practically locks herself off to all outside stimulus, in the event that the worst outcome comes true. After all, Ariel knows that as a creature of darkness there is a terribly high chance she has just done more damage to Lacrima than anything else. But she had to try.
    Then she feels something. A warm contact on her lips that makes topaz eyes snap wide open.
    Her cheeks heat, a vibrant silvery flush flooding her face in the moment and remaining when the moment ends, leaving her simply staring down at Lacrima, stunned and flustered. But then the vampire loses consciousness. The last thing she'll see, though? Is that fluster breaking, and a thin smile tugging at the corner's of Ariel's lips, as she wipes her eyes on the back of her arm and stifles a sniffle.
Kunzite has posed:
Even before Lacrima begins to stabilize -- even as that tear falls -- Kunzite's breathing undergoes a tiny hint of change, the way he holds himself steadies.

Ariel wept. He's seen, after a fashion, the results of a unicorn's tear before. Even before he knows whether Lacrima will lives, he has silent and absolute faith that her soul will. And he believes that makes a difference.

It's not till the red light flickers off that he relaxes enough to bow his head. And it's several long breaths before he risks speaking. "We should get her inside," he says, quietly. "Does anyone know where she sleeps? Is anyone someone she would be comfortable having stay with her?"

He lifts his head, glancing toward the manor. There's endless cleanup to do. Starting with putting plastic over the holes as a temporary measure. All of that can be done. There's time. Thanks to Ariel -- there's time.
Kokoro Akakuma has posed:
    Wh... what just happened? Everyone was upset, Lacrima was coming apart and she looked like she was on death's door, and then Ariel cried, and... and? How...?

    Kokoro looks very confused. But seeing the way Norie just starts to look less agonized is a relief. And it's at that moment she realizes how tense she was, because she relaxes all at once.

    (The stray voltage probably drops by a lot, too.)

    The towering magical girl plants her hammer and leans her weight on it, letting out a huff of breath. "...cripes," she finally mutters. There's a quick glance Rashmi's way - and then a look towards Alex. That, right there. That's enough to make her grin a little.