Higher Order Patterns

Sailor Mercury confers with Kunzite about her plans for the Dark Kingdom. Problem: Kunzite is no longer the Kunzite she's been conspiring with. And he's been planning revenge. Time for an unlikely salvation...

Date: 2016-02-07
Pose Count: 17
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-07 02:25:57 27300
On the street below, there's a teenaged girl, letting herself into an apartment building across the way. She's small, delicate, with a cloud of short, dark-blue curls about her head; she's dressed neatly in a skirt and blouse patterned conservatively. Or they would be conservatively patterned if they weren't quite so excessively many shades of pink. From a sufficient distance, if not for her questionable fashion tastes, it might be possible to mistake her for Ami Mizuno - if one didn't know Ami very well.

But she's letting herself into the building, taking herself off the street, out of the area. Safe for now.

The more immediate problem is above the street level. Watching from a rooftop, one foot up on the parapet, arms folded lazily. White hair and a white cape are caught in the cold February wind. He'd be attention-getting, if he weren't five floors up. It's the height that keeps Kunzite from having to expend energy on influencing passers-by to avoid noticing him.

It's the teleport signature, a few minutes ago, that might have caught someone else's notice. If she happened to be watching closely enough.
Ami Mizuno 2016-02-07 02:35:50 27302
The real Ami Mizuno isn't too far away, and if the man on the rooftop weren't busy focusing on the just wrong target, he might have actually noticed her. Unfortunately for him, he's a few blocks too far west for Ami's real highrise apartment. It's not his fault, Sailor Mercury has done a good job of misleading with her teleports; ensuring she can't ever be followed directly back to anything she cares about.

But he is close enough that the real Ami Mizuno was able to detect the signature of his teleport. Prior to integrating with the Eternity MAIN system, the Mercury Computer could never have responded to and analyzed the signature fast enough for her to respond. Today, however, things are quite different.

Sailor Mercury makes a single jump not terribly far from Kunzite, then spies him watching the blue-haired girl curiously from a location not far away. After a few moments of observation, she nods her head and raises her hand and opens a doorway in the air. Mercury steps through directly behind Kunzite, appearing from seemingly nowhere. It's a sensation he's likely used to by now.

"Hyperspatial Sphere: Generate," Mercury says from over Kunzite's shoulder. The well of green energy in her hand expands outwards very suddenly, engulfing the roof they stand on together, and trapping them both in in a single point of space expanded outward dramatically. The same trap she's used to capture him before. The same scenario played out again and again. All for information.

"Kunzite," Mercury says swiftly, drawing his attention, as if the barrier wouldn't. "I think we're getting close. Soon, we're going to be able to start taking action. But before that, I have a few more questions for you. Things about Metallia I haven't quite been able to piece together. I think you can help." Too trusting.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-07 02:44:53 27303
Her voice prompts reactions that are almost hardwired by the years, conditioned to the point that they come without thought. He turns, fast, one hand bringing his cape around to half-shield him, the other lifted to call that familiar shield of his -- the thing makes itself out of the same swarming shadows that Mercury's seen his cape dissolve into, interposes itself between the two of them, cold and black.

Kunzite's expression is cold and closed, as he looks down at the Sailor of Love and Wisdom. His voice holds no more emotion than his face does, or his body language. All defenses in place, after what happened at Walpurgisnacht. "What do you want, Mercury."
Ami Mizuno 2016-02-07 02:49:16 27304
Really, it should be her first clue. The first hint that Kunzite is defensive really should be enough indication to Mercury that something is wrong that she changes her course of action. Instead, she takes a step towards him. "I need to know how tight her hold is on Beryl," Mercury says honestly. "Kunzite, if we're going to end this--if we're going to stop her--then we may need to free Beryl from her, too."

No malice in Mercury's tone. No anger, no attack is coming. "I'm still ... still working on figuring out how to save you. And Nephrite, and Zoisite--damn his betrayal. I think I can do it," she says. "I think we can save all of you. But Beryl's the remaining wildcard. And until I've solved that, I don't want to make my move. Will you help me?"
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-07 03:06:53 27305
On the other hand - perhaps the defenses are reasonable. The chaos that ended that fight killed Jadeite, or at least appeared to, and wounded all three of the other Generals - Kunzite taking a peripheral strike from a slice of a Crescent Beam, Nephrite a more serious blow from a full one, and fire-hearted Zoisite near-frozen by Mercury herself appearing from nowhere. The concern that she might be about to try again might be ... a little warranted.


He makes the move that disproves it before she's done speaking, on the word 'help.' The cold rage that fuels it, the murderous hatred, has been growing for sentences before; but until that moment, it's all internal, all preparation, structuring the spell and intent in his mind. That word is when the fingers of his right hand curl just /so/ --

And as she's speaking, the hyperspatial sphere is flooded in darkness, in a cold that is fundamentally different from her ice, hungry and devouring, seeking her life and her magic as much as it does the heat of her body. Swallowing the energies her computer tracks. Filling with another energy: that unholy lightning of his, unlike anything of Jupiter's, palpably born of pain and vileness, horror and atrocity -- and trying to find some weak point by which to infect her soul itself with these things.

"It was a good try, Mercury," he says, and now there's a hint of that killing fury in his tone. "Well played. But our Queen is better, and more merciful. And I will not permit you to use me against her, or against my brothers, a second time."
Ami Mizuno 2016-02-07 03:11:37 27306
There was a time, once long ago, when Mercury heard those words. Those exact words. In a place that once never was, in a time that unhappened, with this very man ... or the him that was before.

Sailor Mercury's eyes widen as the memory of that long ago time hits her like a ton of bricks. She dodges aside and raises a field of energy to deflect his attack, then grimaces. "Kunzite, no!" Mercury calls out as the realization dawns. "Your queen isn't merciful! She's infected your mind, and Zoisite's and Nephrite's, too! Endymion wants you to be free. Mercury Aqua Mist!" Into the darkness he's created within her feield, Mercury raises a heavy fog, shrouding her movements, buying her time to try and reach him with her voice.

"Snap out of it," Mercury begs Kunzite worriedly. "I don't want to hurt you. I don't want to fight you. Shake her off. Be the General of the South. Endymion's general, not the puppet of a creature of darkness!"
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-07 03:34:59 27307
It's not an attack that's easy to deflect for long. The darkness is his own power, at the heart - the Eternity MAIN database told her that. Shade to defend against the desert sun, to shield against the killing heat, to preserve pockets of life where it would otherwise dessicate and die. The art of absorbing heat or channeling lightning like a piece of metal, to transfer it elsewhere, and leave what he protects unharmed.

But the energy that corrupts him, the energy that is him, infects his power, too. Metallia's hunger joining with his own to strengthen it. He was strong before, for all that he took care not to push to his limits, not to warn anyone without Mercury's computer or Venus' memories where those limits might be --

And now his queen's reinfected his mind, and the corruption is fresh again.

Beams of a violent, angry light play through the mist, striking almost at random in an attempt to find her or flush her out. They don't disrupt the blackness that's shrouded the sphere, that claws hungrily at her fields and her fogs, at every manifestation of her power. He can sustain both at once. He can afford to spend his own power, rather than others'. He can afford to do it without concern.

"Endymion?" His laughter is harsh. "That empty-eyed shell? It's as well you hurt Zoisite so badly. It gives us someone we can spare to follow my Queen's little traitor prince around. A nursemaid to keep him out of trouble. He's useless now, save as a vessel for greater powers. Does that delight you, Mercury? To know that you and Moon had half a victory over him, even if not over me?"
Ami Mizuno 2016-02-07 03:44:37 27309
Dodging those violent sources of power is not easy, and Mercury is still forced to deflect as many as she dodges. It's taking a toll on her concentration and her energy, forcing her back towards the very edges of her own dimensional pocket. Some small voice in the back of her mind is laughing at her; mocking her for daring to trust and believe that she might be close to victory. It sounds an awful lot like Sailor Venus, actually.

"No," Mercury whimpers to herself, quietly. "He can't be lost."

She was supposed to change the story.

Mercury backs away and raises her arms, then grimaces and cries out, "Frozen Barrage!" A dozen miniature crystals of ice form from the mist around her, coalescing and hardening into diamond-sharp edges. The mist is dissipating. She hadn't wanted to do this. Necessity, however, says otherwise. Mercury raises a hand and sends all twelve streaking through what's left of her fog. It's her fog, and she has no trouble targetting. But he's still the eldest and most powerful of Endymion's--Metallia's--generals.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-07 04:11:26 27310

Kunzite draws his left hand from his cape, and more spheres manifest in a crackle of his corrupt and horror-fueled energy. One in his hand as it opens, six more coming into existence hovering about it. Cores of seemingly solid blackness, like his shield; halos and sparkles of twisted pinks, of hate-cold violets, sometimes of something pure and white and lethal.

It is not an attack he has ever used before. It is not anything he would have designed. It is not in the Eternity MAIN database; it does not reflect Mercury's psychological profiles of him; it is not something she could have thought of and designed a counter for. It is, of course, stolen.

Even his modifications to it - created out of desire for revenge for Jadeite's death, for her attack on Zoisite, a desire that even Zoisite himself has no idea exists - even those were drawn from a place she has seen only the faintest shadow of, and that shadow she had no time to study before Moon purified the data she'd have needed out of existence.

He throws all seven of them at once. There aren't as many as her ice-shards. There don't have to be.

Because on contact with her ice, they explode.

Six of them are decoys, are interception. Made to shake and distract her, to clear the lion's share of her attack out of the way.

One is not.

The attack of Riventon's that he thought through, studied and modified, disintegrated into a spray of small explosive motes of energy, like a burst of crystals. This one does near the same, but the motes that score mist and fog and perhaps skin in Mercury's vicinity are solid -- literal shards of crystal, each one sand-grain small, sharper than broken glass. Steeped in his own tainted energy, carrying with it both corruption and hunger, a sharp and ongoing drain of the energy of any living thing it encounters. Soaked in chemicals and poisons derived from the fleshy yellow and red flowers that thrive in some corners of the Dark Kingdom, when Zoisite walks there often enough - things that dwell in darkness, are mutated and changed by it, but are not dependent upon it themselves; unlike the drain, Moon will not be able to purify it away. Infected by the spores of a certain glowing mold that Zoisite keeps Endymion from coming too close to, lest it take root in his flesh and consume the beauty that Beryl prefers.

One death Mercury would overcome easily. Two she might well. So when Kunzite came to hunt her, he brought half a dozen.

The remaining shards of ice that pierce his upraised arms, letting the too-bright memory of blood well up around them, are a small price for him to pay.
Ami Mizuno 2016-02-07 04:41:38 27311
Explosions rule Mercury's world for the first time in many, many years. The six distracting orbs of darkness claim all of her crystals as if they'd never been, and Mercury throws up her arms defensively, shielding herself once again.

But Kunzite's power is still draining her energy field, and when the seventh comes streaking towards her it simply passes straight through the field. "No," is the only word Mercury has time to get out before the ball of dark energy disintegrates in her face.

The crystals sheer through her henshin, shredding it into ribbons. It flays her skin, leaving poison in its wake. It shreds her hope. That one small glimmer of belief that she might save Kunzite from Metallia is torn away with the fine crystals that infest and infect her. With her last thought, Ami Mizuno collapses the bubble of hyperspace around her ... and then she falls into darkness.

Unconscious, Ami's body tips over the edge of the roof and begins to drop towards the ground. Even the sweaterdress she was wearing is a tattered mess from the after-effects of Kunzite's attack, and it only caught the tail end of the attack.
Takashi Agera 2016-02-07 05:08:34 27314
It's by pure luck, raw coincidence in fact, that Mercury - now Ami Mizuno - pops out of her hyperspace bubble and fallsnear where Riventon is searching. He's still looking for his fox, of course, still trying to find the missing peice of his soul.

Instead, he seems Ami Mizuno tipping off the roof and... Kunzite. Kunzite, the man who he recently had to retreat from a fight from - one of the first people he's met he's got a less-than-full desire to engage in a straight up fight, due to an uncanny ability to absorb his energy attacks. But... it's also Ami Mizuno down there, the girl who saved him, who actually took care of him when he was weak - loathe as he might be to admit it.

Takashi's mind is working so fast the world around him is in slow motion. Can he get her without being destroyed by Kunzite? He'd had to use a bargaining chip last time, and he doesn't even have a full set of cartridges tonight. Was that lack of preparation going to get one or both of them killed? He knew Kunzite played for keeps.

And that's when a quiet ping from Eiszapfen reminded him of a third option. But he couldn't drop this henshin - not without suffering the cumulative overload of that dark energy coursing through him.

<REVERSE THE FLOW. DUMP THE ENERGY.> Axion offers. Riventon knows what that means, too. "You're not designed for outflow outside of the lab. You'll be damaged." he says, sternly, looking down at his gauntlet. <IT IS EASIER TO REBUILD ME THAN HER.> Axion adds. It's a strange thing, a bond between a Devicce and its users. To anyone else, the way Axion is talking might seem monotone, common. But Riventon - Takashi - can sense the sterness and determination.

She's falling, and he needs more time - TIME! He telepathically replies to Axion. "Fine. But I'm going to burn some of that energy off beforehand so you don't explode. You're valuable." Riventon says. And, to anyone else listening, it might sound like Riventon would mean 'valuable use of resources' but to his device, it would know the meaning which he ascribes to it behind his mask of blackness. So he moves quickly - hopefully, before Kunzite can register his presence as Riventon. The last few cartridges are expended, as well as much of his personal dark energy as he can - into an attack that's generally speaking a waste of energy - which makes it useful here.

    <ZEIT KLOPF!> Axion announces, as the gauntlet fires a grey and purple orb out towards Kunzite and Ami Mizuno, detonating into a shower of energy - but likely not energy that Kunzite can absorb, as it's directed not at him, but into reality itself. Unfinished, the attack doesn't have it's eventual intended effect - but it does /slow/ time massively in that area, giving Riventon the time he needs to finish his plan. It slows her fall. It slows any attempted pursuit by Kunzite.

<SICHERHEIT AB!><OUTFLOW SURGE.>A black surge of energy erupts from the gauntlet again - but this isn't an attack - this is just the gauntlet pulling the still-oversurged black energy out of Riventon's body and dumping it into the world around him, until he's not only not suffused with the evil, he's not in henshin as Riventon anymore. The center jewel that makes up Axion cracks across the center, and shows more spiderweb fractures at the edges, and the gauntlet itself begins to fall apart before the device returns itself to standby mode - to a series of three gems that take the form of an earring, though two of the three are cracked.
Takashi Agera 2016-02-07 05:08:37 27315
There's no time for thanking his device though - he still has to get down there before Kunzite kills one of the few people the person now standing on the edge of the roof, Takashi Agera, values. He pulls the small version of Eiszapfen, in it's charm form, into his left hand, and there's a surge of energy and cold wind, and he's henshined again - into the Frost Knight Iceni - and that armor is a brighter blue and white now, cape trailing behind him, Eiszapfen a gleaming frozen halberd as he does the mathematical calculations necessary to intercept the falling senshi - the ground turning to frozen ice as he skates along it, still unhampered by the slowed time for long enough to get there to save her, an updraft of cold wind from his right hand buffeting her so the impact into him doesn't cause more damage, laying her casually to rest against a wall for a moment.

Halberd pointed, blade gleaming, at Kunzite above, while his two devices do the needed calculations for a dimensional transfer. He'll have to hold Kunzite off for long enough to get Ami - and perhaps himself - out of here, and follow Ami's goal of two jumps to keep anyone (Kunzite) from following them.

The boy in the blue-and-white ice-and-wind motif armor doesn't say anything to Kunzite yet - for once in his life not actively trying to antagonize an enemy combatant - but he has a feeling that won't last for long, unless Kunzite decides to give up attacking the blunette. Something about the energy he can notice within her bothers him too - he needs to get her to a safe place far faster than trying to fight Kunzite really allows for.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-07 05:19:36 27317
It's a pity the fall will kill Mercury first. More of a pity that the prelude to it tore her out of her true self, dropped her down to her human guise. They might have been able to get something out of her computer. But that doesn't matter. One Senshi dead will please Beryl in any case; that one dead will please her particularly.

Still. Moon should be dead, too. Best to make certain.

Kunzite starts to cross the roof to the point from which she fell --

Something happens. He can feel that something does. But he can't place the what, and that cuts short any laughter that he might have indulged in, returns the small cold frown in its place. She might have devised a failsafe, a deadman switch.

Venus might have planned it for her.

His sphere of shadow cloaks him again by the time he reaches that point. Looks down.

There is no blood. There is ice that is not hers. There is a faintly familiar figure with a halberd, one of the city's defenders.

Very well. She's still dying. Even if she lives, she'll be crippled for a while, and there's not much time left. By all tactical considerations, it's a victory already --

But for himself, he wants her dead.

There is no subtlety about what he does next; it's an early attack, one he taught Zoisite long ago and left largely aside for the younger general's use. Just an outstretched hand and a bolt of dark energy and force, lancing down from the rooftop toward the pair. But it's fast, and he wants that speed right now. And it gives him a channel for his anger.

And, unknown to him, it passes through the heart of the slowed time he's mired in.
Takashi Agera 2016-02-07 05:35:17 27321
There's a lot of ways in which the Frost Knight Iceni is far, far weaker in Riventon. They simply don't stack up, when it comes to raw power. But when what Takashi needs now isn't raw power. And it's something Riventon can't do, to the degree that this armored knight can.

What he needs to do is protect her. And for a moment, Kunzite's still trapped in the Time Knock - still working in a molasses of time. It could pop at any moment, but for now, it seems like the Knight is moving impossibly fast. A swoop of his halberd causes a wall of ice to burst from the wall, shielding Ami - soaking that ray - protecting her. Only a little bit longer, and he'll be able to pull her out. Kunzite could possibly see the Belkan Magic Triangle under her, though he might not be able to discern its function. The time is begining to return to normal now, though - and being closer to her, he's starting to get an idea of the damage she took, something he was unaware of at a distance. She is really in a bad way.

He knows not to attack Kunzite with his ranged powers, because of the absorbtion he showed in the field. He knows he's not on par with the Dark General in this henshin - arguably, not even as Riventon - but he also knows that if he runs, Ami Mizuno will be dead.

So he spents the halberd around in a flourish. Just a little bit, maybe a few moments, and both teleports will be ready. Until then? He holds him off. Maybe the residual effects of that attack will buy him the edge he needs. Maybe they won't - but he has to try.

"Come near her and I'll put you down." he says, sternly. Takashi has a lot of experience acting like he's in control of situations he isn't, and lying. He's putting both of those in effect today, along with a very real determination to not be responsible for this girl's death. "You won't hurt her anymore today. I promise you that."
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-07 05:53:43 27327
There's something else that Riventon can't do, that this armored knight can. There are two powers that are more difficult for Kunzite to counter than others. One of them is ice - a physical thing, solid, that draining energy from only reinforces. He has the ability to fight against it, but not nearly as well as he does other attacks.

The other is time.

That swiftness, near-impossible. The ice from nowhere, the pattern of magic springing up so quickly. There's something familiar there. He can't place it. He can almost place it --

A sweep of straight dark hair. Eyes as emotionless and calm and driven as his own.

The Akemi girl.

She's not visible. She doesn't want to get into the fight, presumably; Walpurgisnacht must have expended too many of her reserves. But either she's here, and influencing things - he doesn't know of any other local timeworkers - or she's given the boy some fragment of her powers, for some reason of her own. They were working together. Weren't they?

He can't remember. It doesn't matter. Akemi changes the way the equation balances. He wants to be certain Mercury's dead. But not at the cost of carrying out the orders that first brought him here. He won't risk failing his Queen again; and the girl's dying anyway.

The negligent gesture of his hand is timed under his words, not giving the armored boy more time than necessary. "Fine. I'll let you hurt her instead. She's not what I came here for." And he turns his attention to a particular lit window in a building across the street.

The instant after the shadows take him in his own teleport, there's a perfectly audible female scream; but it's cut off.
Takashi Agera 2016-02-07 06:11:48 27333
Takashi's really not sure what Kunzite means by 'hurt her instead' - he's got no plans to hurt her. For a moment, he wonders if Kunzite has seen through his henshin swaps - if he knows the armored boy is also the man in the lab coat. That's not a pleasant thought. He'll actually have to really consider killing Kunzite in the future, to keep THAT secret hidden. He can only imagine the damage it would do in so many ways to his life...

But now isn't the time for that. There's a female scream - but it's not Ami Mizuno's, and he's no hero, he reminds himself, despite fighting off a strange desire to go and help - he's just wearing the mask of a hero. Takashi Agera is still the one in this armor. And Ami Mizuno is still the one bleeding out - not just physically, but magically, spiritually.

<KOORDINATEN GESPERRT.> Eiszapfen notifies him, and there's a soft, weak beep from Axion as well. Both jumps are ready. He can't bring her to the lab, and he doesn't have a register of 'handily useful cruise ships' like the bluenette apparently did. But he's got a house now - with a guest room and a comfortable couch - and he's headed there.

The first jump though, brings him out of Mitakihara and into Pikarigoaka, over a small bakery he likes to frequent. It's the /second/ jump that brings him home. A different form of magic, even, and gone to great pains to cover its tracks by following the first magical lines as much as it can - to keep the path hidden.

As the Frost Knight Iceni arrives out of the mid-childan portal in his own living room, the third of the three earrings Axion has turned itself into cracks as well, and he lays the blunette gently on the couch - which likely hasn't seen any use before.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-07 06:17:27 27337
One bluenette safe - but bleeding. Poisoned. Infested. Dying in half a dozen different ways.

One bluenette who would likely be envying the other, if the sudden sharp drain of her own energy had left her conscious enough to resist.

Kunzite's own second jump brings him to the Dark Kingdom, and he lays the bluenette gently down on a stretch of bare stone. Uncomfortable, but safe enough for a human. While she stays that way.

"Don't worry," he says down to her unconscious form. "You'll be with your sisters soon. And then everything will make sense again."

It does to him, after all.