Nutcracker Witch Act 1


Homura Akemi has given into her despair, and turned into a Witch. It looks like the end for her, but Madoka has other plans...

Date: 2016-02-13
Pose Count: 45
Homura Akemi 2016-02-13 21:09:58 28567
    The old, dilapidated church, burnt down by its own preacher, was the place in which Homura had chosen to carry out her last task. It wasn't a place that meant anything to her, but it was a place where she was likely to be found. Kyouko wouldn't show up in time to stop her, she assumed, but the red-haired Puella Magi would eventually show up to deal with what happened after Homura was done.

    That's what Homura thought about, as she watched the flickering candles, flames working their way down the wick and towards the brass candleholders. They remind Homura of the candles she once had in her apartment, constantly burning, ticking down the time and providing a small amount of light.

    Always, those lights would eventually go out. Even the candlelights she was watching were close to their last flicker. They were, after all, only temporary.

    Homura marches down the aisle where a congregation once gathered to listen to spiritual words and share communion. A white sheet covers her like a cloak, barely shielding her from the cold. She walks up the stairs that lead up to the altar, reaching the top before collapsing to her knees. She is so, so very tired, and her legs cannot carry her any further. She's given all she had left just to reach this one point.

    She raises her hand to look at her soul gem ring one more time. Madoka had tricked her into purifying it just a week ago, but the darkness in Homura's heart was strong and getting stronger, and there was already so much sorrow in her that the once-purple gem had already turned completely black.

    The fact that she had to avoid her girlfriend didn't help either, but it was necessary. Homura didn't want Madoka to be around when the worst happened. She wanted Madoka to be safe and sound, as usual.

    Still, in order for anyone to be truly safe from Homura, from whatever new form Homura was about to take, she had to make sure that someone dealt with her. It's likely that Kyouko would eventually find her here, but additional insurance wouldn't hurt.

    She reaches into her pocket to produce her cell phone, her otterbox still cracked. Huh. That crack was formed so long ago, before Takashi and Madoka had broken up, even. The memory of Endymion beating up Takashi might've brought her a wicked smile before, but now even the memory of Mamoru wasn't enough to make her happy. Not even Madoka could do that anymore. Homura was past the point of being able to smile, and even past the point of being able to fake it.

    She scrolled through her contacts list. Did Mami ever give Homura her number in this timeline? Homura didn't remember. She knew that she had it, and that's all that really mattered in this moment. Homura vaguely remembers something about exchanging numbers after a yelling match. All of that seemed so long ago.

    Her fingers move across the keys, typing out a simple, if cryptic, message.

    TXT to Mami: A Witch just hatched in the church that used to belong to Kyouko's father. I can't handle it on my own right now. Please take care of it. Bring backup if necessary.

    That should be enough. Homura tosses the cell phone aside, no longer wishing to contact others or be contacted. It lands screen-side down, hiding the light from her eyes. Good. She didn't want to see it if Mami responded. She didn't want to see it if anyone tried to call her, either.

    Which is why she's all the more displeased to notice that she isn't alone. Glowing red eyes, attached to a silhouette of a familiar and hated form, resting upon the back of a half-collapsed pew. Homura's tone is cold and biting when she asks, "What do you want, Incubator? Are you here to collect your precious energy?"

    "You of all people should know that I don't need to be nearby in order to do that." The red eyed creature hops from pew to pew, finally landing on the floor before the altar, and coming into the light. Kyubey tilts his head as he regards the fallen Homura. "I did want to talk to you, though. That is, if you have some time, before you become a Witch."
Homura Akemi 2016-02-13 21:09:59 28568
    "You're the last person I wanted to see at my deathbed." Homura's cold eyes focus on Kyubey, purple meeting red. "I can't imagine we'd have anything to talk about, either."

    "Actually I think we'd have a lot to talk about, Homura Akemi." Kyubey walks around behind Homura, jumping up onto the altar to have a seat. "About Madoka Kaname, for one. About recent events, for another." Kyubey's leg reaches up to scratch behind his ear as he continues. "You know, for someone who wanted to avoid seeing Madoka Kaname suffer, you seem to be tormenting her a lot."

    The sting of that reaches Homura, but she barely even flinches in her current state. "I know. That's part of why... I can't be around her anymore."

    "Do you actually think that she'll abandon you? I'll admit that I don't know much about human emotions, but I find it odd to believe that she won't just use her one wish to get you back." Kyubey's voice is as even and disturbingly cheerful as ever. His tail swishes behind him. "Still, it's not as if you could stop it at this stage. I suppose we both knew that this was inevitable."

    "What would be the point of doing that?" Homura isn't thinking clearly, and part of her knows it, but she still has to ask. "If she wishes me back, then I'll lose all hope and turn into a Witch again. That won't serve any purpose. She should know better than that by now." No, surely Madoka wouldn't wish for something as easily fallible as that that. Maybe after this, she'll realize that Homura really is beyond saving, and then Madoka will give up on her like she should have a long time ago.

    "Still. It would surprise me if she didn't wish for something along those lines. You can be sure that I'll bring it up to her, when I talk to her next." Kyubey drops from the altar and circles around to see Homura's eyes, which are now glaring at him with burning purple anger. Kyubey sits before her. "Why are you surprised? Did you think I wouldn't consider that angle? You two have gotten pretty close, haven't you? I'm pretty sure that's what it means when you call each other 'my very best friend', or when you call her 'my little angel'. Was I incorrect in that assumption?"

    "I don't like you circling me like a vulture. She already knows just how horrible it is to be a Puella Magi, and anything she doesn't realize by now is something that I couldn't possibly show her. Short of doing something that would actually hurt her, there isn't anything more I can do to stop that." Homura looks down at the floor, eyes full of bitterness and voice full of defeat. "Either I've done enough or I haven't."

    "I see. So you're going to allow the inevitable to happen, because there's no stopping it. You've reached the end of what you can do, and so you're simply waiting to see what the results of your actions are." Kyubey tilts his head. "Not only that, but one way or another, you're contributing to the well-being of your friends by making sure they get your Grief Seed, and you're contributing to the rest of the Universe by falling into despair. Homura Akemi, this might be the first time you've done something that makes perfect sense to me!"

    Immediately and without hesitation, Homura Akemi pulls out a desert eagle and fires at Kyubey. The creature explodes in a mess of white and red, only to reappear in a new body at the back of a pew. "Why are you angry? I thought I was paying you a compliment."

    "I don't want to be complemented by you!" Homura keeps shooting. The second Kyubey body explodes, but the third one starts running around to dodge her shots.

    "You're not being very rational right now."

    "Shut up!"
Homura Akemi 2016-02-13 21:09:59 28569
    She henshins. Time freezes. Homura has enough magic left for one final fit of rage. She was just sitting here waiting to die anyways. To spend her last moments of life filling Kyubey with lead... she couldn't think of a better way to go out. As she fires into Kyubey, over and over again, one bullet after the other hanging in mid-air and waiting to be released from frozen time, Homura can at least feel the catharsis of letting her rage loose in this last moment.

    Suddenly, time resumes, marching on as Homura is powerless to stop it. She looks down at her shield, only to see it vanish with the rest of her magical armor. Her soul gem assumes the shape of an egg, resting in her open hand. As the bullets fly through Kyubey, Homura looks away, her voice growing soft. "You jerk. Don't bother me. I still have one more thing I need to clean up."

    Kyubey, sure that the fires of Homura's wrath have finally gone out, appears once more and begins cleaning up the white fluffy mess that was one of his bodies, consuming what once was. He looks up at Homura after his macabre meal. "Are you really going to do that? You know there's a high chance that your body will just vanish, right?"

    "Either that, or my body will be carried away by the others, and they won't know what to do with it. I don't want anyone to be blamed for my death but me." One last purple flash of her soul, and her heartbeat suddenly stops. Her breath grows short, her muscles grow weak. Her back straightens, and her teeth clench, as pain goes through her back and jaw. Homura then shuts off her pain receptors, now looking at this sensation distantly, almost clinically. If she had never made her wish, then this life-threatening pain would have eventually been her end. How fitting that she'd invite it back during her last moments.

    Kyubey escapes through a broken glass window as Homura's soul gem rises. Strong magical winds rip out of the soul gem, pushing everything away. Homura's body goes limp, and the life fades from her eyes, as the soul gem completes its transformation into a grief seed. The black winds of despair shove pews away, lift and throw debris into walls and out of windows, send her discarded cell phone flying out of the church, and blow out all of the waning candlelights at once. Every flame is extinguished.

    Homura allows the inevitable to happen. This was always her fate, long before she ever realized what kind of monster she had turned into.

    She was, after all, only temporary.
Madoka Akemi 2016-02-13 21:10:28 28570
    It had been a long time since Madoka had last seen Homura, or at least it felt that way. In truth it had only been four days, but if their not even three week old romance felt like it had lasted months than this absence felt like it had lasted years. The days had been a slow crawl, the pink-haired girl drifting to and from school, her volunteer work, and her home with very little attention paid to the actions she was taking.

    Now it was Saturday and she hadn't even bothered leaving the house, going downstairs to eat breakfast before making some excuse about homework she hardly intended to complete before returning to her bed and collapsing over onto her side.

    They had last parted on a terribly low note and Madoka blamed herself for that. She could have at least gone to school and spent some more time with Homura even if she was upset, but instead she'd made her disapproval obvious by walking away and saying she needed to be alone. Even a band aid fix that would solve nothing had to be better than this.

    She rolled over to face away from the window and reached out to draw Matilda, the large stuffed animal shark Homura had given her for Christmas, to herself so that she could hug onto it tightly. It reminded her of Homura and the time they'd spent together when the gift was given to her and she needed that right now.

    Back then Homura had come to her troubled, hurting, and with disturbing news of a mutual friend. Madoka was able to help her then, to care for her and comfort her when she needed it. Homura had always responded to well when Madoka reached out to her, or at least she had until recently, after the defeat of Walpurgisnacht.

    Why was it that suddenly her words of congratulations and encouragement had only hurt and dissuaded her? Even after hearing the same explanation time and time again Madoka couldn't truly understand it. After all, Homura had won. She really had- Walpurgisnacht was defeated, Madoka herself was safe and had forsworn contracting with Kyubey. And what should be more meaningful than all of that combined was the incredible bond of friendship that had formed between them, so recently having blossomed further into what to Madoka was quickly becoming a life changing romance.

    But every time Madoka had reached out to her and tried to make her feel better all it did was drive a wedge between them. It seemed like on this one issue, the most important of all, they couldn't see eye to eye. She had tried ignoring it at first but each time they parted Homura seemed even worse off than before when they met again no matter how happy they had been before.

    Eventually Madoka could stand it no longer and did everything in her limited power to try and help, but even forcibly purifying Homura's soul gem hadn't brought her around. It wasn't just the taint inside the container of Homura's soul that was causing the distress, but something much more profound. Even Madoka's impassioned tears and pleading didn't truly reach her, and that was the most troubling sign of all.

    Homura had before always shown great distress at seeing Madoka in such pain, but that time she didn't allow it to affect her. And all over something so ridiculous as her own importance.

    It seemed insane to Madoka that seeing her girlfriend breaking down crying wasn't enough to get through to Homura, that she would be beyond upset if something were to happen to her. How, after spending so much of her own life giving everything to protecting one single girl, could she not understand how much a single person could come to mean to someone? If that hadn't convinced her Madoka was reasonably sure nothing she could say ever would.
Madoka Akemi 2016-02-13 21:10:28 28571
    She had failed to let Homura know just how important she was, how much good she had done, and how irreplaceable she was. Madoka had been unable to get past whatever was blocking Homura's heart from her. In a moment of weakness she let her own pain overcome her and had left. And now it had been days and they not only hadn't seen each other but hadn't even sought each other out. Aside from a text message containing a music playlist they hadn't even tried contacting each other, which a week ago would have sounded ridiculous.

    But that wasn't the worst part. If it was 'just' that Madoka wouldn't be curled up on her bed squeezing Matilda. No, the worst part was that somewhere out there Homura was hurting badly, and Madoka knew it. Somewhere out in the city there was a girl who had given all of herself for a friend and was now suffering alone, whose pain and grief was so intense and terrible that Madoka could only guess at it.

    And she couldn't not; it was in Madoka's nature to worry about her friends and Homura had long ago surpassed being a simple friend, even before Madoka had even met her in this timeline if she was to be honest about it. Her closest, very best friend was now torturing herself, hating herself, and telling herself she was worthless.

    She wanted to help. To find some way to reach out to Homura and, if not convince her that she was right, at least find a way to soothe some of her pain. Long after all this had gone through her head the second and the third time Madoka remained alone in her room trying to think up some answer, having paused only long enough to change out of her pajamas so as not to worry her parents should they stick their heads in to check up on her.

    Outside her window there's a sudden light that flares and recedes, only for a shadow not unlike a cat with an extra set of floppy ears cast against the screen blocking it. "Can I come in? I'd like to talk to you," comes the ever cheerful voice of Kyubey.

    It's a few moments before Madoka answers. The alien outside her window is the root cause of all these problems in her mind, sewing grief and suffering upon hapless girls by taking advantage of their desires for a different or better life. "If what you have to say is important then fine, but I don't want to talk to you if it's just to bother me."

    That's close enough to a yes that Kyubey shifts, no longer outside the window but sitting up on the shelf above Madoka's bed, amongst several of her smaller stuffed animals. "What I have to say is always important, Madoka Kaname, even if you might not realize it at the time. But I think you'll be especially interested to hear the news I'm bringing you today."

    "News?" Madoka asks, the ploy working exactly as it's intended, the girl releasing her tight hug from her stuffed animal so that she can push herself up into a sitting position. "You've never brought me news before. What's going on, is there some kind of danger?"

    Kyubey jumps down from the shelf and lands near soundlessly on Madoka's bed, walking around in a small circle a few times before flopping over onto his back and rolling around. It'd be cute and endearing if she wasn't so frustrated with him. "You could say that, though this danger isn't of the scale that I warned you of before when the 'White Flower' was headed to Tokyo."

    For claiming not to know how human emotions worked he sure knew how to aggravate her, Madoka thinks to herself. He could very easily have just said exactly what the news was but instead he was making her ask. She lets out a small sigh before asking, "What kind of danger is it then, Kyubey?"

    "The same kind of danger that happens all the time, a new Witch has been born, just a few minutes ago." The predictable frown on Madoka's face doesn't stop Kyubey from righting himself and shaking his floppy ears, ending with his head at a canted angle. "Only I think you'll be much more interested in this Witch than others- it's your own 'very best friend', Homura Akemi!"
Madoka Akemi 2016-02-13 21:10:28 28572
    Madoka's eyes widen slightly and she makes a quiet gagging noise as if she'd just been stabbed. Her hands start to shake and she slowly raises them to her face, covering it with spread fingers, not bothering to keep her eyes open to look at the creature who seems out to torment her, though it would claim to have no such desire and gain no benefit from doing so. "...Homura...chan..."

    A stinging sensation suddenly in her eyes, and Madoka half turns and half falls, burying her face in her pillow and letting out a wailing cry of anguish that continues until all the air is gone from her lungs. Had she not taken that tiny precaution there's no doubt that both of her parents would have come flying through her door in an instant to hear such a sound coming from their daughter.

    Her trembling hands open and close, clenching into fists and releasing, thumping ineffectually at her mattress. She lifts her head to take in another breath before burying her face in her pillow once more, this time letting out less of a wail and more of a scream, only to have it die in her throat halfway as she begins crying instead.

    She was expecting this, actually. Not so soon of course, but at some point. She's been well informed of exactly what happens to Puella Magi who lose their way and fall into despair. Without some hope for the future, something Homura had clearly lost, there were only two ways out, each of those merely a different form of death.

    But that didn't make this any better. Intellectually knowing something was going to happen doesn't necessarily ready you for the emotional impact when it does. As of this moment Homura is well and truly lost to her, her soul gem exploded and transformed into the grief seed of a witch. A girl who would spend over a decade looking for some seemingly impossible way of saving her friend now turned into a terrible monster that sought to spread vile curses upon the world.

    It was so cosmically unfair that Madoka could hardly stand it. Couldn't stand it, in fact. The fact it had happened to her best friend and girlfriend made it all the worse. It ate her up inside, tormenting her and destroying her so thoroughly that for nearly ten minutes all she can do is cry into her pillow and suffer.

    Kyubey is naturally singularly unmoved by this display of emotion, hopping over onto Madoka's nightstand and curling up with his chin resting on his fluffy tail and closing his eyes until the sobbing finally begins to quiet down.

    Then, once Madoka's raw emotions have temporarily burned themselves out he picks himself up again and scratches at the back of his ear with his hind leg. "It really isn't all that surprising, is it? Surely you must have known this was the inevitable conclusion of the life of Homura Akemi?"

    Madoka pushes herself up slowly, still sniffling, wiping at her eyes. When she speaks her voice is coarse and weak from the screaming and crying. "That doesn't make it it any better. How can you be so cruel? Why are you coming here to taunt me about something like this?"

    "Is it cruel to state an obvious fact?" Beady red eyes blink twice at this question before resuming their steady stare at the girl in front of him. "I'm here for a far more important reason than taunting you, Madoka Kaname. I think you already know what that reason is."
Madoka Akemi 2016-02-13 21:10:29 28573
    "You want me to make the contract," Madoka replies dully. There's a pain in her chest as she says the words, because as surely as she knows this is exactly what Homura didn't want she knows she's going to do it. She'd already made that decision. That fact was the very thing that had driven them apart; that if Homura was ever to die Madoka was going to give up everything to bring her back.

    It didn't have to be this way. Homura could have potentially outlived Madoka if she had been careful enough, though it might be entirely unprecedented for a Puella Magi to live so long. She might also have simply lived long enough to give Madoka enough time with her that it would amount to a regular human lifespan, and maybe then Madoka wouldn't feel that this end was so obscenely unfair.

    It was also possible, if exceedingly unlikely, that the two would drift apart as time went on. How many people were truly close with their best friends from middle school well into their adult lives?

    So yes, possible that Madoka would never have to use her wish to bring Homura back from the dead. But unlikely given the nature of Puella Magi and the dangers they faced. In the end Homura had fallen into despair. Despite hardly fighting and having been recently cleansed her soul gem darkened until it could no more and she'd turned into a Witch, and that meant Madoka was either going to lose her forever, or she was going to need a miracle. A miracle of the kind that had been available to Madoka and at her fingertips ever since she'd returned to Tokyo.

    "My power," she asks quietly, "it gives me the potential to do things even you can't, right?" She doesn't like having to rely on him for any kinds of answers, not now. Unfortunately this isn't the sort of thing she could have talked to Kyubey about with Homura around either. Honestly she's going to make the same decision unless he answers that she can't even save Homura with her wish, but if that was the case he wouldn't have bothered coming here in the first place.

    "Your power is so great there might not be anything you couldn't make possible." If it were allowed Kyubey would have long ago suggested to Madoka that she attempt to wish away entropy itself, but Incubators were never allowed to make suggestions as to what people might wish for. For as much as learning the truth angered them it was rules like these that prevented their tactics from being overly coercive, was it not? "Things that are difficult or impossible to me, they would be easy for you if you made a contract with me and became a Puella Magi."

    "In that case if that's really the truth, then I'm ready. I'll do it, I'll make the contract with you." There isn't a stab of pain this time. Instead there's a small bubble of something else inside of her, something akin to excitement. She feels bad, she really does, but she isn't going to let Homura spend eternity as a rampaging monster, or whatever it is to exist as the grief seed of a defeated Witch. If she's going to do this it has to be with no regrets.

    Madoka gets up off of her bed and stands up in front of Kyubey, who in turn stands on all four of his stubby legs on her bedstand. "Then what is the wish you will pay for with your soul, Madoka Kaname?"

    Madoka takes a deep breath, holding up one arm, hand held in front of her heart. "I wish to be able to return Puella Magi that have become witches back into their former selves!" Her soft pink eyes meet Kyubey's directly, her eyebrows straightened and slightly lowered as she makes her wish, her demand.

    Kyubey blinks, having expected her to request nothing more than a return of Homura, or perhaps a reversion so that it had never happened at all. Though as unexpected as it is it isn't completely outlandish. Far more ridiculous things could have been asked for with a potential such as hers.
Madoka Akemi 2016-02-13 21:10:29 28574
    Potential that is now unleashed, an enormous flare of energy building around her until it's a blinding pillar of pink reaching to the sky. "Then let's see how big the soul gem you will create with your wish is, Madoka Kaname!" His long 'ears' stretch out, reaching towards her chest and the source of that light, pulling it cleanly from her body.

    Madoka winces in pain as her soul is wrenched free, knowing now what it was like for all the Puella Magi that came before her, with the caveat that she understands exactly what it is that's being done to her.

    "Your miracle has been granted! Now reach out and take it."

    She doesn't need to be told twice, and as she closes her hands around the bright core of that intense pillar of light it coalesces in her hands, a soul gem of her very own. She stumbles a little, needing a moment to adjust to the change, dropping down to a sitting position on her bed and panting softly.

    She gives herself only a few moments, and then she immediately sets to work. She reaches over to her nightstand and picks up her phone, turning on the touchscreen and quickly navigating to a GPS tracking app for finding lost phones. Only it isn't her phone she's looking for, but rather Homura's.

    It only takes her a moment to find it's last reported location. As much as she didn't want this to happen she was prepared for it. In order to use her new power she'd first have to actually find Homura's witch.

    Madoka looks again to her new soul gem, at the pure glowing pink within, the little teardrop at the top, and the golden casing that seems to hold it together. Was this who she was now, this pretty bauble in the palm of her hand? If she didn't know the truth she'd never have guessed it.

    "Well. I'd better be going." she says, having almost completely ignored Kyubey once he granted her wish. "I don't have much time if I'm going to save Homura-chan. She isn't the type to leave much to chance."

    Holding the gem out in front of her she's suddenly bathed in pink light, her clothes replaced piece by piece the the never before seen and yet oh so familiar pink, white, and yellow dress with it's eight pointed star pattern and seemingly unending frilly petticoats. Large red ribbons are in her hair and another is tied as a choker with a bow at the back of her neck. Red shoes with ribbon laces and more bows behind her ankles and white stockings that end just below her knees with a ruffle. White gloves cover her hands, and most important of all is the large pink teardrop shaped soul gem resting on her chest, just below her collarbone.

    Going to her bed she slides away her window shade and then pushes the window itself open. She starts making her way through it only to turn her back, looking expectantly to Kyubey, "Well? Aren't you coming?"

    Realizing what she means the small creature jumps down from his perch onto her bed before making one more leap, landing on her shoulder. Once he's there she leaps herself, throwing herself out of her house and off into the air.

    Several minutes later she lands in front of the church, not needing to know the exact location of the phone to know that this is the place. Madoka might have no experience as a Puella Magi but she has been along for the ride entering labyrinths many times. Walking inside she can even feel the presence of the labyrinth and the Witch waiting for her within.

    As she approaches the entrance, guided by that feeling it appears. She holds her right hand out towards it and it opens for her. Then, opening her left hand there's a brief flash of magic and a branchlike bow appears for her to take. "Don't worry, Homura-chan. I'm here for you now."

    She jumps forward and through the entrance, into the labyrinth under her own power for the very first time.
Mami Tomoe 2016-02-13 21:38:17 28576
Mami had still been staying with Runealy. She was actually starting to feel like she'd overstayed her welcome, but she also still didn't want to be alone. And hunting witches alongside Rune, or occasionally one of the other Guardian Knights, felt like working with a partner, or even a team, something she wanted so desperately. So, selfishly perhaps, she was still there when she recieved her message.

TXT to Akemi-san: I'll bring a friend! And you can help out maybe?

Mami never recieves a reply from that text, but she does locate Runealy in a hurry and set off to go slay another witch, to release another Puella from the hidden terms in their diabolic contract, to free their soul from despair. At least, that's how she'd come to think of herself.

No longer a doomed monster, Mami had decided there was only one reasonable thing to consider herself - a valkyrie-like figure who escorted the lost and despairing souls of Puella Magi who'd fought their last fight to their rest.

She's in henshin when she arrives with Rune at the path to the church. "Akemi-san said it was in here. And I feel it, too. It's a really powerful witch. Stay on your guard." she says, looking intently at the large structure, rifle in her hands.
Runealy Waldia 2016-02-13 21:42:54 28577
The timing of all this is... interesting. Rune has been trying to get in touch with Homura, to little success so far, in light of what she has recently learned. Keeping an eye on Mami's well-being has also limited how much effort she can spend on tracking Homura. That it might now be too late has not yet come to mind.

Nor has the notion of sending Mami off. If there's any hint of a welcome being overstayed, Rune isn't showing it. The 'safe room' - a rather colorful affair, not quite as utilitarian as the name would suggest - at their home has played host to Mami, and Runealy has been quite willing to go with her on Witch hunts. Not enthusiastic... they remain scary foes, and now they're sad ones since their true nature has been revealed. Nonetheless, if Mami needs this to survive, the alien princess goes along.

Knowing that they're heading to a definite witch site has caused Rune to transform enroute as well, following just a few steps behind Mami with wand in hand. "It'd be easy to say 'we beat Walpurgisnacht, nothing can compare'... but I've seen familiars kill people in just one or two strikes. I'll be careful, and watch your back too." No overconfidence here; Runealy is tense and focused.
Hannah Sharpe 2016-02-13 22:14:34 28580
A massive pillar of light off in the distance that's large enough to be seen from WPS tower sends every magical sensor into haywire. Hannah has to restart Raging Tempest just to get an accurate reading. The woman had been on the phone, trying to get in touch with a certain Puella Magi to grab her for lunch. Hannah's bad feeling had been growing ever since her last meeting with Homura. After the fifth call, she sighs.

There's more meaningful things to go out and find for the moment after all. Homura might be on that vacation with Madoka!

Seeking out the source of all of that power, Miss White teleports into the abandoned Church, almost immediately noticing the Witch's barrier.

"A Witch, huh? Welp, best stock up since I'm here. Eh?"

She'd arrived a moment too late to spy a newly minted Puella leaping into a barrier, but Mami and Rune are hard to miss.

"Hey! Hairdrills-chan! Princess! Feels like we've got a big one here! Care to lend a hand kids?" Grin! She gives a big one-armed wave to the pair.
Hannah Sharpe 2016-02-13 22:15:14 28581
And then, waiting just a few moments for the other two to catch up, Miss White plunges into the barrier she doesn't realize belongs to a dear friend.
Homura Akemi 2016-02-13 22:17:05 28582
    The entrance of the Labyrinth drops the magical intruders in the middle of a black asphalt-covered city street. Flanking either side of the street are sidewalks and buildings. The buildings themselves look just a little too tall, but they aren't too tall for a standard magical girl to jump on top of them, and they're clustered together close enough that rooftop jumping won't even be a challenge.

    The street stretches forward, but the view is blocked by a large red cloth curtain, lined with golden lace. In the background you can hear the tick-tock of a clock, and something else strange happens, too. With each tick of the clock, no matter where one looks, they can see a decreasing number hidden somewhere on the landscape.

    5... 4... 3... 2... 1...

    A loud buzzer sounds. The curtain rises and splits open, showing a festive and celebratory scene behind it. Confetti falls from the sky like snow. The sky itself looks like someone took black paper and tried to draw a rainbow on it with crayons. The street ahead is crowded, filled with a parade of festive dancers, some of which are recognizable as strange parodies of people Homura knew.

    Some of the dancers are dressed in tuxedos and wearing a familiar mask; and their dance partners have long flowing twintails, sometimes silver and sometimes blonde, and wear shiny dresses that swoosh out as they twirl. The tuxedos and dresses are only sometimes black and silver, sometimes they are red, sometimes white, sometimes blue, more often than not they are a mix of colors, and each pair is a unique combination.

    Other dancers have short white hair and red eyes, with a protective dog dancing around them. Still others have red messy ponytails with tiramisu-stained dresses, blonde hairdrills with a feathered cap, short blue hair with a white cape, or shorter dancers with long curly white hair and black fingerless long gloves. One might be tempted to think that one dancer is absent from this parade, but looking closely one can still see glimpses of her here and there, before she vanishes. Short pink pigtails in a poofy white dress, but this girl isn't dancing. Instead, she's searching the parade, as if looking for a lost partner.

    Those are only the common patterns, many copies of the same few images all dancing in the streets. The rest of the dancers are more generic, all of them looking like a magical girl or magical boy in some form or another. Mixes and matches of patterns that Homura has seen bits and pieces of in her life as a magical girl.

    The dancers themselves are placid enough, not stopping their dance for any interruption. Even if they are blown up or destroyed, the dancers don't leave. No, the first threatening thing that the magical invaders will notice are the toy soldiers that line the sidewalks, guarding over the dancers with spears tipped with frozen icicles of punch.

    The toy soldiers have tall fluffy black hats, akin to something a British soldier would wear, with a gold circle surrounding a four-piece diamond icon just over the forehead. Their purple faces wear red-framed glasses behind a black fishnet veil. Their hairstyle and uniform is reminiscent of Homura's own henshin, except that they look mechanical and toyish. The resemblance is unmistakable.

    The closest two soldiers, each on the opposite side of the street, turn to notice the arrival of potential enemies. They turn their spears point-forward, marching towards the interlopers. Pair by pair, the other toy soldiers all turn to face their magical enemies, approaching them in a slow march. If they get close, they will put those spears to use.

    The only exception is Madoka. Though they might get close to her, they will not attack her, merely point their spears at her threateningly.
Homura Akemi 2016-02-13 22:17:05 28583
    In the distance, at the end of the dancer-filled street, is a massive spiral cake. The frosting on the cake is pure white, decorated with pink lining. Along the sides of the spiral cake are pink witch runes spelling out unknowable words. One can see, climbing the spiral of that cake, a monster so huge and powerful that it could only be the Witch. It's even wearing a witch's pointy hat.

    The brim of that hat looks like a broken record, and the pointy tip of the hat curls down like a record player's spindel. The face is white and mostly unseen, but long black flowing hair comes out of the back. The shoulders are covered in a black collar with white lining, and a lacey mantle covers the peak of her upper arm, but the rest of her top half is nothing but bleached-white skeleton. Her skeletal wrists are bound in wooden stocks, pulled forward by the toy soldiers marching in front of her by a long, thick red rope.

    The bottom half is covered by a black dress, with an almost comically placed record player's horn coming out of a large poof in the back. The front of her black dress is split open, revealing a peach-colored dress behind it, which in turn terminates into frilly grey near the bottom. Her dress almost reaches the ground, but when it lifts one can see curly black shoes beneath it. It's bizarrely human, for a Witch.

    If one wonders what this large monster is marching towards, one need only to look at the top of the spiral cake to see the Witch's destination: A large guillotine, just her size, situated beneath a large black pendulum swinging back and forth. The tips of the pendulum are festively decorated with brightly colored candles. One might even mistake them for birthday candles. There are, in fact, 14 of them.

    The top of the spiral cake is similarly decorated in bright birthday candles, only it has 26 instead of the pendulum's 14. Every candle is little more than a colorful pile of melted wax, nearing closer to the end of its usefulness.

    Homura would've wanted it this way, really, if she still had her wits about her; but right now Homura Akemi is in a place where no magical girl, even a Puella Magi, could reach her.

    With one exception.
Madoka Akemi 2016-02-13 22:36:42 28587
    Madoka appears in the air, somewhere above the skyline of the mock city. She lets out a small cry of surprise when she finds herself falling unexpectedly. She recovers quickly though, leaning forward and reading herself as she plummets towards the roof of one of the skyscrapers, her skirt flaring widely in the wind around her.

    She lands, needing a short step forward to halt her momentum , not yet entirely used to her new powers. Her head turns this way and that, taking in the sight of the enormous, open labyrinth. There's something so terribly sad about this place, and yet for the moment it's Homura's new home. She never did find a permanent one had she? Instead staying in that hotel. "I won't this one be permanent either," Madoka tells herself.

    And then she's jumping again, having sighted the huge Witch in the distance. For now she's keeping things quiet, using only the magic needed to maintain her henshin and move along closer to Homulily.

    On her shoulder, clinging to her, Kyubey tilts his head, floppy 'ears' flapping in the breeze, "I don't understand. Aren't you going to save her? Isn't that what you came for?" She turns her pink eyes only briefly to the Incubator sitting on her shoulder, not speaking to him just yet. "This doesn't make sense. Where is your power, Madoka Kaname? You should be able to destroy a Witch like this in one shot, but you hardly seem any more powerful than any other Puella Magi."
Mami Tomoe 2016-02-13 22:41:41 28589
The sight of Hannah still makes Mami tense, and she's still not a terrible fan of the woman. (And she doesn't even know the half of it.) "You can help ME." she states to the punchy Mage before she pushes her way into the barrier, just behind Miss White. "But you're not getting the grief seed for whatever plans you have." she adds. Mami apparently has no qualms about being antagonistic towards the smiling mage still. And she doesn't even have the false smiles she held the last time. It's not cruelty though, just a stating of intent.

The labrynth though, takes her completly off guard. She turns to Runealy. "Even for a Labrynth, this is odd." she says, quietly. She's learned not to engage Familiars unless she needs to, so she vaults up to one of those buildings, walking along the edge with her gun still ready.

It keeps her out of reach of those soldiers, and she hears Kyubey before she sees, or registers, the new Puella Magi. "Kaname-san?" she asks, stopping her movement and turning. And that's when she also registers the familiar uniforms on the soldiers there. She jumps down towards Madoka, landing next to her with the twin clicks of her boots. She looks up the Witch in the distance when she lands, gesturing to it with her rifle but unable to find the words to ask the question in her eyes.
Runealy Waldia 2016-02-13 22:47:58 28592
Rune is visibly disheartened by White's attitude. "Do you know what... no, 'who', we're facing?" Runealy speaks generally; she doesn't know the Witch ahead is Homura, merely the general notion of where Witches come from. It's a sad thing to even consider. "But yes, we're here to help. And... you're...?" She notices Madoka, trying to make sense of this new arrival; is Madoka's new guise related to that burst of light from earlier?

Then she's gazing upon a reasonably familiar landscape. Unnatural, but it's a twisting of something relatively normal. The curtain is not 'normal' though, nor is the row of dancers... or, more alarmingly, soldiers. Questions immediately come to mind. "Why do so many of these look familiar?" It's not shouted, but it is said loud enough for anyone to overhear with ease.

She starts to take aim, but when Mami opts not to attack right away she follows suit. Boot wings light up, silvery light hurtling her up after Mami and landing on the same rooftop. "Do you think they can throw their weapons up this high?" She's wary of this possibility...

...Though one eye wanders to the Witch atop the cake, wondering why Mami is so taken with it. "Is there something I should know?"
Hannah Sharpe 2016-02-13 22:53:02 28593
And as ever, that hostility doesn't even make Hannah miss a beat. "Fine, fine. We can't really afford to be arguing in there, right? As long as I get plenty of data and maybe a Familiar or two to study, we'll call it even." Grin!

Hannah just blinks. "Yeah. We're fighting a Witch, Princess. You been spending too much time in the castle or something? Let's punch this thing to death quickly, huh?" From her attitude, it seems Hannah is rather in the dark.

Miss White's reactions go in stages. At first, as R.T. feeds her info and the festive aura of the place hits her, she can't help but grin.

"This has to be the most welcoming Witch I've ever seen. Throwing a party for us! How nice. We'll just have to paint this barrier red then!"

Her usual bravado wavers however as she notes they're not being attacked. Those dancers in particular have her smile dropping entirely. She can recognize some of these Familiars. People she knows. Even a strange caricature of herself and Boris. For once, Miss White almost seems scared.

Her smile is brittle as she turns to the others.

"H...hey. Guys. Uhh. Don't those dancers seem pretty familiar? It's not just me. Right?"

And then those toy soldiers start forth. The massive spiral cakein the distance, and its acompanying rune-covered Witch, and Miss White doesn't have time to worry. "I wouldn't doubt it." She too lands atop the roof. "Therefore, time for me to say hello. Keep them off my back ok, you two? And for the love of God, Mami, don't shoot me in the back please!"

Then, she takes an almost lazy leap off the rooftop, and she's hanging in air for a moment as the newest Puella Magi lands beside the others.

Hannah's sightless eyes meet Madoka's in worry, surprise, and then absolute, burning fury. Her voice chokes in anger, teeth gritting, but the scathing look Madoka gets might mean more than words ever could.

The fact that her body bursts with emerald green magic and then rockets off towards the approaching soldiers, roaring out a battle cry and kicking out waves of magical wind is probably another indicator of just how inordinately pissed off Miss White is with one Madoka Kaname right now. The yelling down below is just out of reach, but it's definitely soap-washing-mouth levels of bad. Thankfully anger and punching go well together for Hannah as she tries to ravish the ranks of the Familiar-soldiers in melee.
Homura Akemi 2016-02-13 23:01:02 28595
    Madoka Kaname is mostly left alone by the familiars. Large ravens, big enough to swallow a person whole, descend from the sky, appearing from seemingly nowhere, their heads a patchwork of purple and yellow. They swoop down, flying next to Madoka, but not really attacking her. It's more like they're watching her.

    One of the ravens does come up behind her however, trying to snap its grey beak around Kyubey's tail.

    The Toy Soldiers turn their gaze upwards as Mami makes her way to the rooftops. A crowd of them gathers around the building, jumping into the air ineffectually, their leaps only going about a foot in the air. Their spears wave in futility.

    The Raven Familiars, on the other hand, are in a perfect position to harass Runealy and Mami, swooping down to attack the two of them with beaks and talons. Swarms of smaller (really normal sized) ravens appear, flying up from between the buildings.

    The Homura-esque tin soldiers provide no real challenge for the ferocious Hannah Sharpe, and though they swarm her from every angle and try to rush her down she is just far tougher than they. However, since the other magical girls have chosen to take the high road, that leaves Ms. White to deal with... pretty much all of the toy soldiers.

    If one were to notice the layout of this labyrinth, it's pretty straightforward. The entire Labyrinth is a city, with the spiral cake in the middle. 12 streets, each filled with dancers and flanked by toy soldiers, are arranged like spokes of a wheel, each one leading to and away the spiral cake. There are side roads that lead in between the 'spokes', but those are less organized and are always uncomfortably squeezed between rows of buildings. As far as labyrinths go this one is pretty easy to navigate.

    The giant Witch, Homulilly, slowly turns her head. It's unclear if she even sees the people who have come for her, but something has caught her attention. From the crowd, several strange new familiars appear. They aren't doing anything particularly hostile yet, but they have distorted faces, mocking and cruel. Unlike the dancers, they are heavily focusing their attention on the four intruders.
Madoka Akemi 2016-02-13 23:11:09 28597
    Madoka refrains from jumping again once she lands now that she's closer, Kyubey swirling around behind her neck to the other side of her to keep his tail from getting caught in the beak of the familiar. She takes a couple of steps forward towards the edge of the roof, only to stop when she hears Mami's boots land behind her. Then with one smooth motion she turns around, meeting Mami with her soft pink-eyed gaze and removing any thoughts that the new Puella Magi might have been someone else.

    "Mami-san, I'm sorry. It looks like I couldn't stay out of this after all." She then looks back over her shoulder, casting her eyes over to the Witch making it's slow climb up the cake. "Yes. That's Homura-chan," she says with a note of sadness, though perhaps surprisingly not complete anguish. She used all of that up in her room, back home.

    She winces as Hannah gives her that look and whispers another, "I'm sorry," though it's probably not likely the white suited woman will hear it without magical assistance. Still, she can't dwell on how disappointing it must be to see her this way for very long; she has something very important to do. "Mami-san. Rune-chan. I need your help, and White-chan's too. Do you remember what we talked about, about finding another way? I need you two to help me call out to her, to remind Homura-chan of who she is and the things she cares about. And I need you to weaken her. I- I'm sorry, but I just don't think I can bring myself to attack Homura-chan, even like this."

    Her small hand squeezes around her bow, and the fronds at the top spread, the rose bloom at the top blossoming open, "But I can help keep you safe!" She draws her bow, the string and arrow both forming out of her bright pink magic, the rose atop suddenly enveloped in a wafting pink flame. She takes aim for a moment and then fires, loosing not one but several arrows that streak out to the large Raven Familiars coming to attack Runealy and Mami, one of them vanishing in a burst of swirling black witch magic while the other crashes into the building far below them before doing the same.

    She turns her head to see Ms. White carving a path through the tin soldiers in her rage. "It would be best if she didn't learn the truth, but I don't see any way around it. Mami-san, whatever happens please don't destroy Homura-chan's witch, and don't let Ms. White destroy her either, okay?"

    After a brief pause she walks forward to give both Mami and Runealy a hug in turn, "I believe in you both, so please have faith in me as well." She backs away towards the edge of the skyscraper roof, "Here we go..!" and then leaps off, beginning her dash towards the tall spiraling cake through the path Hannah has partially cleared.
Mami Tomoe 2016-02-13 23:35:42 28598
Mami shudders a bit visibly at the revalation - not of who Madoka is, of course, though seeing someone else choose this path is rough, she knows Madoka had more information than even she did when she made that thoice. But of who the witch in the distance is. Though, truthfully, it's not much of a revalation - not when she looks down and sees all the clear signs.

"Another way?" Mami says, confused, not letting herself cry. She tries not try cry for the Witches now - she saves that for time back home. But she's confused, too. Madoka, though, is asking for assistance. "Alright, Kaname-san. I'll give you backup. Actually..." she says, thoughtfully. "I'd better stop White-san. She gets... too much out of this sort of thing, I'd better worry about her. Runealy-san, will you keep Kaname-san covered?" she asks.

But it's less of a request and more of a demand because she's off to go meet Hannah before she can punch the Witch into paste.

"White-san, I need you to stop." Mami says, shooting a round just past her - and into a familiar that was closing in. "I don't know what's going on myself, but you cannot kill this witch!" she says. "We're going to contain it. From what I understand, you do that yourself already."
Runealy Waldia 2016-02-13 23:39:08 28600
"Sometimes I wish I could spend /more/ time there," Rune remarks back to Hannah, taking the comment literally. She might say more, but White is rushing off before any more words can come. Then words, coherent words, fail to come for several moments as Madoka unloads the truth: That's Homura up ahead.

"Wh!?" It's not even a full 'what', but a stunned syllable. The implications rush through Rune's head, as she mentally works with an image of Homura... the person, the human-enough-despite-a-soul-gem being that she could see, call, share messages with, and talk to. This is weighed against the... 'thing' up ahead, and Rune just begins trembling in place even as the other pink-haired girl offers an embrace. "Weaken, but not destroy... not kill. Weaken, to call out to her... is that even possible? And we can't let White go too far either..."

Breathe. Focus. Madoka is asking for faith. "It's a better plan than I have. Alright...!" A gasping end to that sentence, then Madoka is off...

...and ravens approach. "Ah!" They're fast, they're a swarm. Rune does not like her odds of dodging them outright, and instead encases herself in a sparkling red bubble of energy. Ravens bounce off, and Runealy winces with each one as they add little fractures to her shield. Still, it gives some time to speak with Mami. "Splitting up to make this work? I think I get it!" She actually /likes/ the plan overall; it covers all the important points.

On the other hand, it largely leaves her alone to face the ravens. This is the one thing Rune isn't so fond of. Nonetheless, her energy-shield drops and she launches into the air to aim straight down at the swarm. A shout heralds her wand launching an orb, one that splits apart into a wide spray of green sparkles meant to pepper several familiars at once!
Hannah Sharpe 2016-02-13 23:42:25 28601
It's a swarm of Familiars, and fairly decent ones, but Hannah Sharpe is angry and looking for an outlet. Violence comes easy to the young woman. One soldier has a fist smashed through its' skull, another is dodged with a blow, their spear grabbed, and Miss White doing a wind-fueled twirl using the thing as a bludgeon. There's none of her usual timing and grace. This is simple, refreshing, barbaric violence.

She doesn't go without strikes. She gets gouged lightly in the side, a spear-butt in the back, and a grazing blow to the jaw, but between her magical shields and good old time in and out of henshin in fights?

Miss White kicks down one more toy soldier, and grinds its head into the ground. Wiping her bruised mouth, she lets out an aggrivated sigh.

"Bunch of glass jawed chumps." She mutters, already turning her attention to the Witch. Indeed, Miss White is still blissfully unaware of what she's rushing off to go destroy, and of Madoka's apologies and intentions. No, she's not thinking at all, wanting nothing more than to vent rage, record data, and smash a Witch's face in.

Miss White instinctually ducks, and is about to yell, when said shooter cuts in. Caught utterly off guard, Mami actually gets her to listen through sheer surprise. There's a look of suspicion, and then?

"...Coming from you, that's weird, but seems like you know more than I do. Alright. Fine by me!" She actually sounds a little more chipper.

"Raging Tempest, Binding Mode!" Her knuckles extend, the Device opening venting spikes, and she nods.

"Well then, we'll need plenty of fire support. Let the little idiot pinkball and the Princess handle the trash, you shoot the Witch enough to hinder it. I'll clear out any soldier in our way, and get in close so the Witch has something to focus on. We'll weaken it, wait for our moment to strike, and then bind it up. Sound good?" A nod to Mami. Hannah certainly respects her skill as a fellow magical girl.

She doesn't take long to let the plan sink in, as she's already rushing off, smashing any tin soldiers that get in the way. But her focus is on the witch, and defensive shields appear around her. She's at least no longer out to smash it in the face as hard now!
Homura Akemi 2016-02-13 23:52:07 28603
    A strange thing happens when Madoka starts her mad dash through the streets. The dancers ignore her, which is to be expected, since they've been doing that from the start. However, the strange mean-faced dolls come out of the crowd, holding rotten fruit in their hands.

    Half-black bananas, dull-colored tomatoes, and too-mealy apples are chucked at Madoka, but none of the fruit reaches her. Each piece of expired food is intercepted by the spear of one of the toy soldiers. The Familiars are fighting over whether or not it's okay to attack Madoka. This is a problem for the toy soldiers, because the cruel girls, the Clara Dolls, are far, far stronger, wiping out the Homura-like familiars about as rapidly as Hannah does.

    The Clara Dolls are not to be trifled with, even if the sacrifice of the toy soldiers does keep Madoka safe for the moment.

    Runealy's own efforts, aided by Madoka's own shots from before, do help to fight back the flying familiars. Madoka's arrows pierce and destroy the larger ravens, exploding them into black witch energy. The smaller ravens are peppered with magical fire, falling from the sky and exploding in droves.

    Mami and Hannah are also attacked by the Clara Dolls, and unlike Madoka there are no familiars that are rushing to their aid. Two of the cruel and mocking familiars flank Mami from either side, hurling rotten fruit that has force not unlike a shotgun slug. A third still steps in front of Hannah, raising a strange hand to slap the white-haired girl. It attacks her in short range, perhaps providing her a challenge that the weaker familiars could not.

    Homulilly still does not turn her wrath against the four magical girls. Instead, she simply continues her march towards the top of the spiral cake, going around and around in a circle. At the peak of cake, the grim blade of the guillotine gleams brightly, and looks terribly sharp.

    Homulilly's hat begins to slip off. No, actually, it's not just the hat, but the entire top of her head, leaving only her jaw behind as it falls down the side of the cake, marring the otherwise perfect frosting. A large red flower, a spider lily, grows from Homulilly's jaw to replace the part of the head that was lost, and two streams of teeth fall from where her eyes used to be.

    The large ribbons on the back of Homulilly's dress become long arms of dark energy, dragging their long claws into the surface of the spiral cake but doing little to stop Homulilly's progress. Growing angry, the arms flail recklessly, grabbing car-sized handfuls of cake and throwing them aimlessly, crushing familiars that get too close and smashing nearby buildings with cake. For all of the grim and accepting calm that the Witch is displaying, those two arms are throwing a massive fit.
Madoka Akemi 2016-02-14 00:06:44 28606
    "I know it's sad," Madoka offers to Runealy as she reacts the way she does, reaching up and gently setting a hand over her heart. "This isn't something anyone should ever have to suffer through. It's horrible and cruel, but if we worry about that now it could get us killed, or get her killed," she looks back towards Homulilly for a moment, "and we can't let any of those things happen.

    When Runealy asks if calling out to a Witch is possible Madoka shakes her head and, perhaps oddly, smiles. "It shouldn't be. But we're going to try it anyway." Kyubey is silent on this issue since he wasn't asked, but his beady red eyes stare intently at Runealy for several moments, gauging her reaction.

    Madoka makes amazing progress since the sea of familiars all but parts for her, taking aim upward and helping clear the childish rainbow sky of ravens. She gets a little complacent when out of nowhere fruit comes shooting in towards her, and likely would have taken the hits directly were it not for the intervention of the tin shoulders, the pink-haired Puella Magi coming to a sudden stop.

    A shiver runs down her at the sight of those cruel girls and how effectively they carve up the small tin soldiers protecting her. It lasts only a moment, her face setting into a look of resolve, eyebrows angling slightly downward as she draws the string on her bow and lets out a small barrage of arrows towards the leftmost Clara Doll.

    Up on her shoulders Kyubey is making an utter nuisance of himself, running this way and that. When she looks to see what's happening she frowns- some of the remaining soldiers are stabbing at him with their spears, only to abruptly hold their jabs when he positions himself to use Madoka as a human shield. Even knowing they won't attack her it's a little disturbing.

    Ahead of her on the cake the top of Homulilly's head comes off and the spider lily blossoms. "I don't have time for this," she says to herself. "Kyubey?"

    "Do you need something, Madoka Kaname?"

    "I know you'll be fine... but I'm still sorry." She doesn't wait for him to ask what she means before reaching back with her hand and grabbing him around the middle and flinging him bodily, helplessly before the Clara Dolls blocking her way. It's a gamble, but she's willing to bet it's a safe one.

    With that she leaps, trying to jump past the hopefully distracted familiars to try and race her way to the base of the cake, "Homura-chan! It's me! It's Madoka! I'm here for you, Homura-chan. I'll never leave you! No matter what it takes I'll be here for you!"
Mami Tomoe 2016-02-14 00:15:25 28609
As the Clara Dolls push in on Hannah and Mami, Mami backs up and pretty much backs into Hannah. "Alright, regardless of whatever else, right now we're on the same side. You watch my back and I'll watch yours!" she says, sternly. A lot of what's been going on has hardened her, has brought back that battle veteran Mami Tomoe, and when the familiars throw that fruit with tremendous force, it's met by explosive shells from her matchlocks - Mami able to hit their projectiles in mid air - and then she's drawing and firing her rifles, pulling them out of thin air, and twirling rifles around to smack any advancing Clara Dolls or other familiars back.

When one moves closer, she suddenly switches though, using her ribbons like a game of cat's cradle to try to ensnare it so she can fire one of those shotgun-like explosive blasts right into it's stupid face. Failing that, the ribbons should at least ensnare them.

And she shouts. Because Madoka's trying to talk to her, so Mami might as well too.

"REMEMBER ALL OF THOSE THINGS YOU TOLD ME, HOMURA AKEMI? DON'T YOU DARE TAKE THIS WAY OUT AFTER ALL THAT. I WILL NOT STAND FOR IT."
Runealy Waldia 2016-02-14 00:18:15 28613
Rune certainly does give Kyubey a reaction, eyes wide as she realizes aloud that Madoka is... "Trying to do the impossible, or unlikely, anyway? That's asking for a LOT of faith!" It's faith she at least momentarily has the luxury of offering, landing upon a rooftop that is now relatively clear of ravens; what's left is not as dire a threat as an outright swarm was, and lesser efforts of various wand beams and energy-bubble-shields suffice to protect herself. She leaps from roof to roof to follow Madoka, albeit at a distance... taking aim to fire thin red rays from her wand at the various Clara Dolls and their thrown fruits; support from afar, trying to keep them off the other pink-haired girl.

What little attention she can spare from that is made as a flicked over-shoulder glance back to Mami and White to see how they're doing. Mami's shout serves as a sudden inspiration, eyes returning to... the odd figure ahead, the 'calmly thrashing' Homura-as-witch. "This isn't how your story should be ending! Think about it! You got through a 'storm', and now this is how you're winding up? How is that okay!?" Does a Witch even understand human speech? Rune isn't sure, but she's trying.
Hannah Sharpe 2016-02-14 00:21:47 28615
Unlike the tin soldiers, these Clara Dolls are not to be screwed with. A hard slap sends Hannah's face to the ground, only a quick shield saving her from needing attention to a broken nose and face. Instead, she rolls to her feet, spitting out blood and taking up a more cautious stance. She tests the Familiar with quick jabs, then backs off. She doesn't have time for this. Instead, she holds her hand out palm-first, and sends a burst of ravishing wind magic towards the Clara Dolls attacking her and Mami. It's not necessarily meant to destroy, but rather send them flying out of effective melee range! Their objective is the witch after all!

Miss White cracks her neck, grinning. "Got it! No dieing, protect each other. Good luck." She quickly adds to Mami as the two fight the Clara Dolls, Miss White helpfully taking a blow or two meant for the the woman! And when she wraps some up? Hannah's not above deadly sucker punches.

And then everyone is yelling. Not about the Witch, but about Homura. Hannah is almost entirely lost. Almost. No, there's some important thread, even as half-realized posibilities hit her all at once.

Homura Akemi is apparently taking the cheap way out. Her eyes widen, and she bellows in general.

"WHAT!? ARE YOU GUYS TRYING TO TELL ME HOMURA AKEMI IS TAKING A /COWARD'S/ WAY OUT!? Listen up, idiots! I BELIEVE IN HOMURA! SHE'D NEVER BE A COWARD LIKE THAT! IF SHE WAS, I'D KICK HER BUTT BACK INTO TUESDAY! I'D DRAG HER BACK FROM THE GRAVE TO KILL HER MYSELF!" Being loud is a virtue right now.
Homura Akemi 2016-02-14 00:31:56 28620
    The Clara that suffers Madoka's wrath takes a direct hit, a large portion of its body being ripped away by the pink arrow. There's no blood or gore, only the black of Homulilly's witch magic as the Clara Doll dissolves. The rest of the Clara Dolls see Kyubey, look at him, then at Madoka, and then him. They gather around him and, like bullies picking on a small animal, smash their feet against his tiny white frame.

    Madoka draws close to Homulilly, close enough to reach her. There is no pause in Homulilly's progress up the spiral cake, but those two large flailing ribbon arms stop. They reach for Madoka, arms not quite long enough to cross the distance. They reach out not to harm, but to grasp.

    Mami's own ribbon/gunshot combo is enough to destroy the foolish Clara Doll who got too close, and her melee attacks are at least enough to keep the other at bay. Runealy's support fire distracts the Clara Dolls from their Kyubey-menacing, but she might wish she hadn't. No less than five of them turn to fly through the air at Runealy. She might be able to take out one or two before they cross the distance.

    Hannah's tactics do manage to keep the Clara Dolls after her, and while they might resume their pursuit soon, she's kept them off of her for the moment. Or maybe they wont approach at all, looking at where the magical girls are going, covering their mouths and laughing.

    In a distant place, in the depths of Homura's despair, something stirs. An eye opens, hearing the sound of Madoka's voice, promising never to leave her. Mami's voice joins in, and a pang of guilt and shame follows. She hears them, but it doesn't make sense. It's too late for her, isn't it? She's a Witch now. There's no undoing this transformation.

    Rune asks, how can this be okay? How could anything ever be okay? Homura Akemi gave up on herself a long time ago, and now that Madoka is here, she may as well give up on her, too.

    A coward's way out... yeah... that's what this is, isn't it? Homura couldn't do it herself, but her Witch certainly could.

    Those teeth falling from Homulilly's eyes become familiars, running around on their roots as if they were legs. These teeth themselves have mouths, full of teeth of their own, and those teeth are gnashing. When those mouths open, they fire giant walnuts at the four magical girls.

    Toy soldiers part from Homulilly's procession, jumping on top of the teeth familiars and riding them into battle, punch spiked spears in hand.
Madoka Akemi 2016-02-14 00:51:00 28623
    It is a lot of faith. The fact that Runealy, even if only for a little while, is willing to give it to her warms Madoka's heart and gives her strength and courage in this place of loss and despair.

    When the ribbon hands reach out for her Madoka jumps away. It's true that it's Homura, and that might be Homura herself reaching out for her, but right now Homura is a witch. How horrible would it be to come all this way only to die to Homulilly? The very last thing she's going to do is put her best friend through the torment of knowing she killed her for all eternity.

    Other people begin shouting out along with her and she is simultaneously filled with sadness and joy. Sadness for Homura, and joy that she has so many people looking out for her, even in this terrible moment. "Can't you see, Homura-chan? Look at all the lives you've touched and made better by your presence. Look at how they're trying to help you, willing to do the impossible for you! No one who is worthless or has only ever hurt people could have so many people trying their hardest for them!"

    She leaps up one spiraling layer of cake ahead of the Witch, letting out a gasp when so many of those dangerous Clara Dolls launch themselves towards Runealy. With a shout of, "Princess, be careful!" she draws her bow holding the string back while the pink flame atop it flares, firing off a clean dozen arrows in a single barrage, trying to set up a crossfire to protect her ally.

    Kyubey, it seems, is completely left to his demise. The kicking Clara Dolls are more than able reduce him to nothing more than a pile of white and red, though almost as soon as he is another of his bodies is present, glowing red eyes staring out from a shadow. "Even your familiars bear such hostility towards me, Homura Akemi? These actions are truly illogical; they can't possibly have any effect other than to be wasteful." He steps out, running between the shadows of skyscrapers as more familiars begin chasing him, "Haven't I helped you? After all, I've brought your very best friend to see you one last time!"

    The tooth familars begin firing and Madoka is quickly overwhelmed, the inexperienced Puella Magi not quite able to handle avoiding both the grasping arms and the barrage of nuts at the same time, getting first clipped by one and then smashed into the side of a cake by another after losing her balance. She sticks in the frosting rather than bouncing off, and the magical flame atop her bow vanishes for the moment as she tries to pull herself free before she can be cornered.
Mami Tomoe 2016-02-14 01:10:43 28627
Mami looks up as the... walking teeth... fire... walnuts at her. "Okay now I am absolutly sure this is Akemi's witch." she says, with a sort of macabre sense of almost-humor and starts trying to shoot them out of the air, too. It's really a workout for her marskmanship, keeping the ranged attacks off Hannah so she can do the work of punching her way through the familiars.

"Because this is the creepiest damned Labrynth I have ever been in and that's aying a lot." Mami says, her decorum actually dropping as she fires multiple explosive barrages into the air to push back a particulartly aggressive swarm of Clara Dolls headed for Rune, too. "Come on, White-san. Finish those off. There's a lot more where that came from, you don't have to play around to feed your desire to fight." she adds.

"Akemi-san, I don't know if you can be helped now!" She shouts. "But if you can, it'll be by that girl who's risking death just to try to get through to you. So the least you could do is open up your heart and let her help. You've done so much to help her - now you let her help you!"
Runealy Waldia 2016-02-14 01:13:44 28628
Rune makes a worried "Hn!?" as she sees that efforts to watch over Madoka have... somewhat succeeded, somewhat backfired, and somewhat gone better than expected in a bad way. While a series of rapid-fire beams brings down a Clara doll, she still has several more chasing her. The alien princess does not like the idea of facing them all at once on an open rooftop, and she takes Madoka's warning to heart. "Right!"

So Runealy heads for the roof edge, blasting a hole in an adjacent building's wall, and is rewarded with building interior. Floors to stand on. It's not much, but it's /something./ She leaps in, then hurries behind a wall and begins watching, waiting, listening... on guard for what she hopes will be mindless, head-on pursuit.

Should it come, she stands ready to pop around a corner and lash out with a trio of hastily aimed wand-orbs, ones meant to explode into emerald sparkles on contact.

However, Runealy does overhear something else interesting regardless of whether her ambush succeeds or not. Kyubey's remarks are very, very interesting indeed. Interesting, and seemingly cruel... enough so to draw a chilled gasp from her, though she's in no position to really respond just yet. Nor, weaving through empty rooms with damaged walls, is she in any position to call out to Homura even as Mami's words ring out.
Hannah Sharpe 2016-02-14 01:15:46 28631
Mami's words at first have her brow twitching, then she relaxes slightly.

"I never thought I'd say this, but, I agree completely Mami Tomoe. Forget this place. Let's...let's save Homura from whatever the hell is going on here so we can all have a nice long chat to figure out what is going on!" There's a hint of desperation in her voice. She does /not/ like this situation at all.

The Clara Dolls going flying is more than a little satisfying. She soon feels bad, however, as the dolls begin to mash Kyubey into Kyubey-mush. Suddenly Hannah finds these Familiars far more pleasant to deal with than the rat himself.

"I'm jealous." She quips, but doesn't tarry to enjoy the sight, as there's TEETH THAT HAVE TEETH to deal with. She still lobs a ball of emerald magic at the remaining Dolls, determined to crush them.

Teeth with teeth that are ridden like horses by tin soldiers that suspiciously resemble a certain Puella Magi. Teeth with teeth ridien by soldiers that are overwhelming a certain pinkball.

"HEY! GET THOSE THINGS OFF HER!" She yells to the others, wind magic vauling Miss White into the air as Madoka is overcome! She raises a leg, and sends a mixture of pure physical force and magical wind down upon a group of the creatures menacing the newly minted Puella, trying to shatter mount and rider in one daring leap! Then, she'll try to bodily haul Madoka out from the pile, ignoring any hits that she might take as she tries to physically muscle her way in.

"Princess! Mami! Keep pinkball safe even if you have to kill me to do it!"

Somewhere, it all probably clicks in the back of Hannah's head, but she doesn't dwell on it right now. "Are you /REALLY/ going to give up on the one person who means more to you than anyone, Homura!? Are you really going to hurt her!? Wake up!" She yells amidst sounds of violence.
Homura Akemi 2016-02-14 01:29:35 28635
    The large ribbon hands sag as Madoka moves further out of reach, wilting in a way that might seem familiar to Madoka. They haven't been defeated by any magical shot or blast, but yet they lie limply against the surface of the cake, dragged along by Homulilly's march up the spiral.

    The fire provided by Madoka and Mami does help to slow down the charge of the Clara Dolls, Mami and Madoka each one out of the air and battering the other three. The combined firepower of the two Puella Magi weaken then enough that when Runealy lures them into a building and then ambushes them, the blast is enough to clear them out.

    As for Madoka herself, the teeth and mounted soldiers charge right past her. She's blending into the cake, apparently. White and pink on white and pink. It doesn't help that Hannah is currently tearing them apart. Ms. White may have broken teeth before. This is no different, just bigger. The wind magic and the mage using it pulls their attention off of Madoka for more than long enough.

    Madoka's words cut deep into an already open wound... but there's no surgery without a little cutting is there? She knows exactly where Homura's pain is, since Homura told it to her not even that long ago.

    One of those giant arms come back to life at Kyubey's words, scooping up a handful of cake and throwing it at him. Then it returns to its limp position.

    In the dark depth that is her despair, Homura floats, hearing these voices speaking to her. Is this what it's like to be a Witch? Did other Witches hear her like she does? No, that couldn't be true. All those times talking to Octavia only to not be heard. This can't be normal.

    Something is wrong. It's enough to make Homura stand up in the abyss she's floating through, turn upwards, and while she can't form the words, her soul demands an explaination.

    Yet her Witch form doesn't respond to Homura's commands. Whatever spark has just been lit, it can't burn through the despair on its own.

    What it does respond to is her sorrow, lashing out like an animal at those who have only come to help her. From behind Homulilly's back, large black clockhands, ending in sharp arrowpoints, extend out and then bend, suddenly forming circular joints. Their motion is jerky and strange, as if they moved at a much lower framerate than reality. They bend and reach out for Mami, Runealy and Hannah, lashing out at them like giant, multijointed arms.

    At least there aren't any more Clara Dolls coming.
Madoka Akemi 2016-02-14 02:00:28 28642
    Madoka is saved by a mixture of unintended camouflage and Hannah's bravery. Hannah seems easily able to drag her out despite how difficult it seemed for Madoka to get out- sugary frosting is surprisingly resilient when it's almost completely surrounding you! A little oomph from the outside and the pink-haired girl is free, if now covered in desert. "Thank you!" she says, leaning in to give Hannah a quick hug while she's tugged free.

    The large chunk of cake smashes a building as Kyubey hides behind it, sending it crashing down on him before he can react. Exactly what happens to him isn't seen but the fact that another of Kyubey's innumerable bodies walks out on the top layer of the cake shows that it must not have been good.

    There's suddenly a change in the way Homulilly is acting and Madoka is paying enough attention to notice. Are they starting to get through to her? She isn't sure, but she hopes so. And right now hope is what she needs most.

    "Homura-chan! I know that things will never be as you wanted them. I understand that you can never completely 'win' now that I've become a Puella Magi. But isn't a 'partial' win good enough? This way we can always be at each other's side, even in battle! I'll never hold you back as a helpless target again. Isn't enough that we have each other?"

    She jumps up several more layers of cake, until she's on a level high enough to meet Homulilly's face, her lower jaw and blooming spider lily. "You've always worried so much about what the end might bring, about what terrible fate might be in store for me. But Homura-chan, it isn't where we end up that matters. It's all the time we can have together getting there!"

    As the Witch continues its death march towards its execution Madoka frowns. "This is the way you've always seen things, isn't it? An inevitable march to a bitter end." She holds up a hand and clenches it into a fist, "Well I won't have it! That's not something I'm going to allow, Homura Akemi. That bitter end... I'll do whatever I must to prevent it!"

    She draws her bowstring and draws it back, far further than she has so far, and the pink flame flares to enormous size- larger than Madoka herself. But then rather firing at any familiars she suddenly aims directly upward, and a single large pink bolts shoots into the air before seeming to hit some invisible barrier.

    A series of large interconnected pink symbols appear parallel to the ground, not entirely dissimilar from that strange clockwork, and after a brief pause an enormous number of arrows come streaking down from it. Not a single one is aimed at Homulily or her familiars, however. Instead every last one of them is bombarding and plastering the top of the cake, smashing the guillotine that awaits the Witch at the end of her path and reducing the entire top surface of the cake to nothing but a smoking crater of pastry.

    Kyubey jumps away just in time.

    Even though she's now panting from the effort, Madoka now does turn her bow on Homulilly, leveling the weapon directly at her. There's an incredibly fierce look in her eyes as she takes aim and fires.

    Magical pink arrows streak out from Madoka's bow, cutting through the large spider lily that makes up her head. No, cutting isn't the right word, but rather pruning. Pruning away the flower so the leaves may grow. "That isn't it, Homura-chan." Madoka says in a soft tone. "Neither of us is going to disappear forever- not today. Believe in me, Homura-chan- I refuse to let that happen!"
Hannah Sharpe 2016-02-14 02:10:56 28645
Madoka is still Madoka. She gets one heck of a hair ruffle even as Hannah sighs after pulling her out of cake and teeth.

"Even as a Puella Magi, you really can be a pain in the butt to watch after, kiddo. Don't screw this one up, okay? You seem like you can handle it." Mad as she might be, she still believes in the newly empowered kid.

Shove. "Now get to work."

Some time after Madoka is obliterating that guillotine and providing impromptu mahou-based gardening, in come those clockwork joins. Somewhere between being smacked in the chest, horrible agony, and then being shoved through an office building does she get a decent reading on Madoka's power. Even as she pulls herself from the rubble, Miss White is smiling. Potential turned to power. She's at once jealous, and proud of the girl, even if she also wants to strangle her. It's an odd feeling.

Walking out, she concentrates, and then the normal shields that defend Miss White start to form over Madoka.

"Keep that pinkball idiot safe, R.T. This is her show."

"YOU'RE GETTING YOUR BUTT KICKED BY YOUR GIRLFRIEND, HOMURA! YOU REALLY GOING TO STAND FOR THAT? STOP USING THIS CHEAP STUFF AND COME OUT TO FACE HER LIKE A MAGICAL GIRL!" When encouragement doesn't work? Taunting the heck out of someone often does.
Mami Tomoe 2016-02-14 02:12:21 28647
Mami's gasp as Hannah announces that something might be happening to Madoka is doubled by a second gasp at the girl's furiosity when she recovers her. "Kaname-san, I know you're worried about her, but think about yourself, too. I don't think this can possibly work if anything bad happens to you!"

She moves around, shooting out the spiraling clockwork as best as she can, keeping it away from everyone else, continuing to work on removing Homura's threat and making her expend energy without killing her - or letting her harm the others.

And something, somewhere, is actually fustrating Mamo. "HOMURA AKEMI!" she shouts at the top of her lungs, the rifle in her hand, with an explosion of ribbons, creating a bayonette which she uses to cut through more clockwork as she runs up towards everyone else so she can be sure she's heard.

"YOU'RE BEING AN IDIOT. This?! This is ridiculous. Wether Madoka made a contract, wether you made a contract, wether anyone does - everyone has a limited amount of time on this earth. I know what being on deaths' door can be!" she screams and her voice goes a little hoarse.

"But what matters isn't how long you have each other, but that you do have each other for as long as you can. You're not a failure, as long as you spend all the time you have together. If you truly care for each other, don't cut that time short just because you're feeling sorry for yourself! If you cared for her enough to do everything you told me, then how could you want to leave her alone without you, when she's only just so recently understood that? You should savor every moment with her. Don't you dare leave her alone, Homura Akemi! Don't mourn what could have been - appreciate what you have!!!" she says before she generates a field of rifles and unloads on every tooth-cavalry she can see.
Runealy Waldia 2016-02-14 02:22:08 28649
"What!?" Now Rune speaks regardless of the situation, startled by White's demand. "I don't want to kill you, even if it makes some weird kind of 'sense'!" Sagging in momentary relief now that she's out of immediate danger, Rune makes her way back outside and onto a rooftop to see what's going on.

It's... a very odd situation to behold. A dangerous one, as Madoka is assisted and Homulilly lashes out, forcing Rune to jump again... but this is done just as she had landed to survey the scene, and the dodge is not wholly effective. A clock-hand lances through the side of a thigh, sending Runealy into a spiral-crash on the street, shrieking all the way down! Vision exploding into blackness and 'stars', the princess picks herself up on shaky feet.

Even as people call out to Homulilly... Homura, really, Rune joins in. She does not opt for taunts or anger. Instead, she watches where Mami is shooting and follows up with emerald wand orbs trying to capitalize on any openings to the clockwork... though Runealy is consciously avoiding shooting too close to center, mindful to 'weaken, not kill' the Witch before them.

Even as shots fly, her words punctuate the attacks. "If you let this end this way, do you think she'll accept it?! She's here to help, we all are, and this just can't be how things go! The idea that you protected everyone from the 'storm', Walpurgisnacht, only to become this twisted... it's wrong! See that!"
Homura Akemi 2016-02-14 02:30:07 28651
    How? How can she still have hope? Even after everything that Madoka knows, after everything she's seen... how can she still hold onto her optimism? Homura knows that Madoka can't be ignorant about this. Homura told her, even showed her, and what Homura couldn't bring herself to demonstrate Madoka found out on her own. So why?

    You know something I don't.

    It's not a spoken word, or even a telepathic thought. It's more like a feeling, on the surface of the despair.

    Madoka's attack is launched, and several several teal sillouettes of gears float out from behind Homulilly. Around the teal gears form many white-and-black circles, strange parody's of Homura's own shield. Each shield has a toothy smile, and those smiles are just a little... off. They appear around Homulilly, defensively, but no attack comes her way.

    The guillotine is torn apart, reduced to nothing but splinters and shattered metal sinking into a now collapsing cake. The top of the cake lists to the side as it slowly descends, bits of frosting and bread falling down the side.

    Homulilly watches as her goal vanishes before her, and the red flower is cut from atop her head in one clean strike. Her chin lowers as she watches the spider lily fall to the ground. Maybe something else could grow there, but it hasn't taken root yet.

    Other attacks come in, Mami's ribbons work against Homulilly's clockwork, binding it together. Runealy's blasts have some success, some of them behing blocked by the sudden appearance of those strange shields, but other blasts getting through to blast Homulilly. It's not enough to kill her, but it's damage that weakens her.

    For once, her march ends, and Homulilly has nowhere else to go. The topless jaw turns towards Madoka, as if looking at her with invisible eyes. The Witch doesn't even seem to know where to go from here. If not to death... then what? What other fate could possibly be there for her?

    Her skeletal hands lift, carrying the large wooden stocks with them. She reaches out with a single, massive, skeletal finger, pointing at Madoka. It's not an attack, but a sign. The Witch is listening, even hearing, but this shouldn't even be possible, right?

    What's going on here?

    Hannah wants her to come out and face Madoka? How does she even do that? Don't cut her time short? But what else is there? Do they truly intend to raise the dead?

    Of course it's wrong for Puella Magi to end this way. Of course it's unfair, but this is her fate, isn't it? Isn't this the price of her wish? One way or another, it was always going to come to this. She knew that. Life isn't fair, so why should death be?

    More confusing than anything is the idea that the words are getting through, that she's actually hearing them, and Madoka seems to be the source of that. What's going on?
Madoka Akemi 2016-02-14 03:01:44 28664
    The guillotine is destroyed and Homulilly's progress is stopped. The fact that a Witch denied it's one purpose is halting rather than thrashing and attacking everything in sight is beyond abnormal. "That shouldn't be possible," Kyubey notes, his cheerful voice betraying his confusion.

    "I understand," Madoka replies to Hannah tripping a bit as she's shoved forward but looking back with a smile. All around her the people have come together. Friends and enemies alike are working together to do what isn't supposed to be able to be done, working hard to save a monster that was once a fellow Magical Girl.

    "Thank you, everyone." Madoka says with overflowing appreciation as they shout, cheer, and convince. "I couldn't do this without you. I owe you everything."

    She lets go of her bow and it disappears in a poof of sparkling magic and takes several steps towards the edge of the cake layer she's on now, towards Homulilly. As she walks she extends her arms, holding them out towards the Witch in a kind, welcoming gesture towards the finger pointing at her.

    Raging Tempest's sensors would have found Madoka's magical power in the expected range of a Puella Magi, if perhaps a bit on the high side. True, that powerful attack was very strong, but most people have something that extends a bit past their usual limits in a time of need.

    Now, however, that begins to change. As Madoka holds her arms out to Homulilly with a loving expression on her face her feet leave the ground, not jumping but beginning to float upward. Right when this happens the Intelligent Devices sensors start to go crazy, as does the magic recognizing senses any of the others has. To Raging Tempest it's instantly recognizable as the same magic that had earlier flared like a pillar to the sky, though no such pillar shows here.

    Instead, as Kyubey's red eyes stare rapt, large incredibly bright sparkles of energy begin flashing over Madoka's form, a veil of pink covering her. Her hair begins to lengthen dramatically behind her, though her twintails remain unchanged, as the magic within her builds and builds towards a breaking point.

    Then, suddenly, a massive flash. Brighter even than the sparkles that heralded it. When it subsides Puella Magi Madoka has changed into something more. Rather than her magical girl dress she's wearing a much longer multilayered one of the purest white that wafts around her as if continually blown by a soft breeze, the underside of the fabric displaying the beauty of space filled with stars and gallaxies, as if a window to the universe itself. Her hair is almost impossibly long, floating behind her in individual locks that flow like wisps all around her. Rather than shoes and stockings she wears a pair of tall pink boots with long wings extending upwards and outwards from her ankles. In the center of her chest, just above a diamond shape opening in the dress, sits her pink teardrop Soul Gem, two smaller gems lower and to either side with another pair below and beside these. Finally a pair of ethereal wings spread out behind her, more solid near her back and seeming to fade as they stretch out beside her.

    Accompanying the transformation as it settles in is a feeling of well being and optimism, a sense that everything is going to be alright and everything is not lost. It radiates out from her, filling the entire labyrinth and overwhelming the natural despair of the Witch itself, the very essence and emotion of Hope itself.

    Kyubey's red eyes blink twice, caught completely off guard by this and showing it in his voice, "So this is where your power had gone. Madoka Kaname... what have you become?"

    She doesn't so fly so much as float, hovering clear of the ground with her arms still held out as she regards with her unendingly kind, sympathetic pink eyes the poor, despairing soul in front of her. "I'm here for you, Homura-chan. Your little angel is here."
Hannah Sharpe 2016-02-14 03:12:51 28668
Hannah's barrier jacket is in tatters, merely more than an undershirt and tattered golden tie left to her. Still, she leans against a broken building wall as the Witch points, coming to a stop with its eventual goal destroyed. Eyes narrow. They judge. And then she sighs.

"Even now, Homura, you're alive, right? So what are you doing? Wallowing in despair and loathing? When you have so many people who actually care? And the most important one here that loves you more than anybody just wants you in her arms! Are you really going to deny her that much, Homura!? The world is cruel, and horrible, sure! But you can at least do that much, right? Get back here, Homura! We're all magical girls, darnit! We can do anything if we put everything we have into it! If we believe and struggle hard enough, together, we can even change something so cruel as 'Fate'!" She yells out to the straggling Witch.

Even as she does so, wind chains lurk behind her, ready to bind Homulilly if it proves necessary.

And then pure power infuses Madoka Kaname, to the shock of Kyubey. Miss White's words ring far too true as a wave of Hope washes over the woman, and R.T. soaks in overwhelming power. The potential she's always seen in Madoka, rising to a level far beyond any magical girl.

Miss White takes in that light, the infinite void of space, and smiles. Kyubey speaks, and Hannah laughs.

"You really are an idiot, Kyubey. /THAT/!" Her voice is all mirth, tinged with both jealousy and respect. It's the very heights she's always sought. The pure unending potential to induce change to a rotten world.

"That's not a magical girl anymore. That is a God waking up, kiddo. Now I wonder what she'll use that kind of power to do..."

Miss White's eyes don't stop their fierce gaze, every magical sense latched onto Madoka. She trembles to feel such power.

What will it take for her to reach such heights? The confirmation that it's indeed possible fills her with Hope, and renews her Ambition on a scale that simply can't be measured.

Miss White laughs, raising her hand to the heavens.

"Don't dissappoint, Madoka! Bring her back!" She yells out in encouragement, her Device ceaselessly taking in data that's utterly invaluable to her end goals. Miss White laughs like a madwoman in pure joy.
Mami Tomoe 2016-02-14 03:18:58 28669
Mami's eyes are wide. But she's said her peices here. Her voice is hoarse, her body is tired. She can either keep yelling at Homura, or keep trying to keep the witch outside weak enough for the girl inside to be free. That's what Madoka said, isn't it? That she needs to weaken it? Well, Mami will do what Mami can. "The rest is up to you, Kaname-san. If anybody can do it, you can." she says, as she goes about doing her best to make sure none of that crazy clockwork or familiars attack.

But largely, she's just on standby now. In a real team, after all, everything works out best when everyone does what they're good at. She's good at fighting - maybe Madoka Kaname is just as good at saving. There's some amazing upwelling of hope in her heart that makes her believe that against all other odds.
Runealy Waldia 2016-02-14 03:20:17 28671
Rune is of half a mind to attack Kyubey; his seemingly calm observations grate on her just as much as what she interpreted as his cruel taunts earlier in this situation. She reins in this urge however for two reasons. First, the situation seems to be delicate and she's not sure giving in to those impulses is a good idea.

Then, the situation is wondrous and suddenly Kyubey doesn't even factor in to her considerations. Madoka is floating. Things start to feel a lot better, with a rush that tosses Rune's head back, eyes closed as she relaxes for a moment... and they stay shut as the flash goes out. Sight returns only as Madoka takes a new form, one leaving Rune basically breathless to witness it. She has no words, instead pacing over to join Mami and just... marveling at what is unfolding. There doesn't seem to be much of a fight left to tend to at this immediate moment, and her wand lowers in light of this.

Her gaze does split, however. Half on what's going on ahead, half on Mami... who Rune is very curious to see how she's taking this massive burst of hope, who may well have needed it in light of recent events.
Homura Akemi 2016-02-14 03:37:54 28681
    Homulily stirs as the Aura of Hope washes over her own Despair, overpowering it and pushing it down. The Witch sees Madoka inviting her, and she steps forward, over the mushy remains of cake, to draw closer to the one girl she sacrificed so much for. Homulilly can only move so far, pinned as she is by the ribbons, but she's clearly trying to reach her little angel.

    It's not a hostile gesture... but more of a grabby one. Like a child who sees someone she likes and wants to be held or picked up by, except that the relative size difference makes it seem absurd in this case.

    Well, she's walking on a cake already. She's already well past absurd.

    No more hostile familiars appear. The ravens flying overhead fly away, the toy soldiers return to their posts, and the teeth keep their mouth shut. A few Clara Dolls pout, crossing their arms and turning around to leave, one of them kicking a can as they go.

    Homura feels bad that Hannah had to find out this way, about Witches and where they come from, but it's never a good time to find out something like that is it? No, but Hannah's right on one point. If Madoka wants her to come back, then Homura will come back.

    ... but it's not as if Homura even knows how to do that. She's hoping that Madoka, the powerful angel before her, has an answer for her.
Madoka Akemi 2016-02-14 03:58:27 28687
    Madoka floats closer to Homulilly as her manacled arms reach out to her, her approach slow and gentle. Her intent isn't to cruelly make Homura wait, but rather to give her a moment to prepare for what is about to happen.

    As Hannah admonishes Kyubey the white alien keeps his calculating eyes transfixed on Madoka and Homura while he replies. "Madoka Kaname is no God, but as she is now perhaps she is beyond a magical girl. Still, she isn't the first to display this degree of power in this world, is she?"

    As the distance closes and the angelic visage nears Madoka closes her eyes. Her extended arms reach out to Homulilly just a little further, each of her small hands grasping one bony finger.

    There's a flare of magic upon the moment of contact, something ancient and primordial as Madokami reaches out not only with her arms but with her soul. At that touch they connect in a sudden surge of thought and emotion. Though it must be awful to suddenly have the despair of a witch thrust upon her the loving, sympathetic expression on her face doesn't change aside from a momentary wavering of her eyebrows.

    Into her flows all of Homulilly's, and indeed Homura Akemi's, grief and despair, every moment of sadness, hardship, and agony. And out from her flows un unending tide of kindness, compassion, and unconditional love.

    It's but a moment, a single instant in time in which the two are wholly connected to each other. To everyone else present it might even seem like it's over before it began, but to Madoka and Homura it feels like so much more...