People You Want Back

Kunzite and Melanite go to pick up one of Beryl's targets from Seishou. Prism Keeper Yellow, Inariko, and Naru Osaka (?!) try to intervene. This goes well only for the Dark Kingdom.

Date: 2016-02-16
Pose Count: 60
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-16 19:06:33 29211
It's after the school day proper, which is one reason this end of the middle floor's hall is deserted. It's not much after the school day proper, which means that it shouldn't be this deserted. There's a subtle influence permeating the area, nudging students and teachers both away.

Except for students like Naru Osaka, whose exposure to a certain recent 'test' left her for at least a little not quite as susceptible to these things as a nonmagical human ought to be.

Except for students like the one packing up her things in the last classroom at the hall's end, a tall seventeen-year-old with a mane of light brown hair pulled back into a somewhat misbehaving ponytail. A couple of shades darker, and she'd look startlingly like what Makoto Kino might in a couple of years.

And then there are the people who aren't students at all, and those who pretend not to be.

Shadows gather sharply and chase themselves away again, leaving two figures in their wake, near the classroom's half-open door. The taller and paler one is already making a half-negligent gesture to the other as they fade into focus. His words are for the Kino lookalike, though. "You've had your fun," he says. "It's time to come home. Your sisters are waiting."

So far this has worked on exactly zero of the others, but the screaming and the running is the only mild amusement Kunzite's gotten these last few weeks.
Naru Osaka 2016-02-16 19:14:21 29214
"Hmmm mmmm, mmm hmmmm." Naru hums as she gets things out of her locker, tucking them into her backpack with care. The remains of her lunch, she clearly packed it without realizing Usagi wasn't going to be at school today. Homework, clearly very important. More homework. A bit of light reading. Most important of all, her sketchbook. Backpack getting looped over a shoulder, she closes her locker and turns to head down the hallway.

Except that there are two unfamiliar figures in the doorway to a classroom. The humming stops and Naru's brow furrows as she comes a little closer, leaning to see who the pale figure is speaking to, just barely able to peek into the classroom and see Makoto Kino still packing up.
Kyra Nygaard 2016-02-16 19:16:43 29217
The red-clad girl who emerges from the shadows beside the tall, pale one smiles a light, pleasant little smile as she steps over to close the classroom door. The school is a familiar sight to her, indeed she was here less than an hour ago herself, in another guise... but she had other obligations, and has returned at her superior's side.

"Hey, Kouhai," she says, striving to offer the girl a comforting tone. "You've got nothing to be scared of. You've felt out of place all along, haven't you? Like something vital was missing from your life? It's time to come and claim it. To find your place."

The door starts to slide closed, but in her focus on their subject, she neglects to complete that little task, leaving it open a crack as she steps forward a little. "You've always wanted to be a hero, haven't you?"
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-16 19:25:38 29218
Not actually Makoto; older, and hair the wrong color. But not that much older. It's easy to mistake her from a little distance. Especially with the week or two Naru's been having; Ami's missed more than a week of school now, which is enough to have people wondering whether she actually died from studying too hard, and now Usagi's out today as well. It's easy just to want people to be the ones she knows, days like this.

That pale figure is not a teacher. Teachers do not dress like that.

The girl recoils from him, her eyes widening in some unnamed terror, something old enough to go straight to the spine without consulting the brain. But the girl in red she can focus on, and does, drawing a quick, sharper breath. "Why would I want to be a hero?" she asks, half defensive. "Heroes get in trouble. Heroes get attention. Heroes get killed. I just want --" She starts to fasten her bookbag, but the jerk she gives to the straps is suddenly far harder than it ought to be, and the fabric tears and the contents spill out across her desk; she gives a little yelp of dismay and snatches her hands back. "-- I just want to go home. Why are you bothering me?"

"She doesn't remember as well as you did," Kunzite murmurs to Melanite. "None of them have, so far. The girls never worked well on their own."
Naru Osaka 2016-02-16 19:29:07 29220
Quiet. QUIET! Naru blinks as she overhears a bit of the words that are being presented to the girl in the classroom, even if its not who she thought it was at first glance. She slips closer to hear better, peeking in through that crack of the door left open, nudging it just that smidge more open to see better, and hear better. It could be a cult!

Naru glances up and down the hallway, half expecting to see teachers walking past that she can corner, but seeing none, she turns back to watching the conversation, the door opening a touch more at her movement, making a little sound.
Kyra Nygaard 2016-02-16 19:33:04 29221
A soft nod marks Melanite's response to Kunzite. She's tall enough to appear the right age to call this girl 'kouhai', sure, but she's left the school uniform a long ways behind.

"Hey, hey." she says, trying to soothe the girl. "Nothing to be scared of here. Like the man said, we're here to help you find home." She reaches out and starts gathering up the spilled books and papers, sliding them across the desk so the girl can reach them easily without getting too close to her. It's all about keeping up the minimal facade of normality, something for the girl to latch on to and let her work past the fear. That's how it always worked for her, at least.

In the sound of shuffling papers and sliding books, the tiny creak of the door opening might have gone unheard... or perhaps not. She doesn't seem to respond to Naru's curiosity... although her shadow seems somehow darker than the others in the room, lying across the entryway as it does. A paranoid mind might think it some sort of trap.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-16 19:41:56 29222
The girl puts out a hand cautiously, eyeing Melanite for a moment, and then says, "I know where I live," but there's something shakier behind it. Something unsettled. Her attention darts to Melanite's shadow and stays there for several seconds, though nearer the Dark Kingdom girl rather than farther from her.

Slowly, she puts down the books she's picked up.

Looks back at Melanite, still uncertain.

Kunzite leans casually back against the wall, almost out of the conversation. Almost not worth notice. But gray eyes slide to the side, steady, keeping the widening crack of the door in his peripheral vision. Letting Melanite keep momentary control of the situation - just to see what she'll do.
Naru Osaka 2016-02-16 19:45:05 29223
There are no bits of Naru's mind that can be called 'paranoid', nor is the ignorant young woman paying that much attention to shadows when there are people and conversations to listen in to, especially ones that make the almost but not quite Makoto nervous.

More especially ones where someone sounds shakey about being firm about where she lives. Naru stands and raps smartly on the door, as if nothing is wrong, pushing it open. "All packed up? Sorry I'm late to walk with you home." She blithely declares, hoping like heck it's believable, taking a step into the room, and looking at the two strangers. Stranger Danger!
Ayana Tasogare 2016-02-16 19:45:14 29224
Ayana isn't supposed to be on campus. She's not a registered student, she's not registered staff. In just about anyone's book, she should be considered a 'tresspasser'. But Ikiko goes here, and in another life, Ayana did, too.

The only problem is, Ayana never did bother learninig where the Animal Care club meets. Wandering the halls aimlessly in one of Ikiko's borrowed uniforms and a blue collar, Ayana hunts about for her girlfriend confusedly.

The sense of growing shadows does not immediately alert Ayana that something is wrong. Indeed, the little steel and glass ball at her throat begins to glow a subtle shade of gold, alerting her to the presence of something 'wrong'. Still, the oblivious girl doesn't even notice.
Hoshi Kogane 2016-02-16 19:49:19 29226
After school, Hoshi was doing some paperwork on behalf of Astronomy Club. She often helps with that, and now that she's gotten it done she's heading towards the teacher's lounge so Sensei can check her work and file it; corrections are unlikely to be necessary.

She comes across Ayana when headed that way, smiling as she meets the other girl. "Hi Ayana-chan!" The cheerful greeting is no less at a carefully moderated level of loudless, social graces demanding you do not shout in the corridors; despite the fact it would not disturb classes at this hour.

If she's noticed anything wrong yet, she hasn't acted upon it.
Kyra Nygaard 2016-02-16 19:51:11 29227
Melanite steps closer to the girl, angling herself to keep her shadow across the doorway. She reaches across the desk to clasp the girl's hand, a tiny tingle of magic in her grip, something that to her says 'home, safe'. Of course, to someone not as intimate with dark magic as she is, it might well say something much more frightening.

And then she turns her head to regard Naru. Who she's seen before. Who might have seen her before, although she was busy being a zombie at the time. Nastily Exhausting tests, indeed.

"Hello, Osaka-san," she says with a pleasant smile as her trap activates, a minor binding meant to pin Naru's feet to the floor. "Shall we all walk home together, then?"
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-16 19:57:24 29229
It might well say something much more frightening, yes. The girl whose hand Melanite's taken gasps, and starts to try to pull her hand away --

And then her eyes change, as that tiny hint of magic bleeds into her. Become a solid, shining black all the way across, pupil, iris, sclera. She relaxes with a breath, and says with a different voice, still almost recognizably her own but more resonant, to Melanite more comfortable, to Naru flat-out wrong, "Don't I know you?"

Kunzite doesn't say a word. He only reaches to push the door closed behind Naru, to wall out more eavesdroppers. His own magic isn't in play; he's not doing anything to alert anyone to what's going on.

But the feel of a youma starting to wake nearby is one that certain types of people are sensitive to, sometimes even from a distance.
Naru Osaka 2016-02-16 19:59:10 29230
Naru Osaka starts a little as the woman in red knows her by name. She pauses, blinking as she struggles to try and remember how that woman is familiar and only catching the bare edges of fuzzy. "Uhhh." Not the most eloquent of replies, truthfully.

She moves to continue stepping forward and her eyes widen as she can't actually move. "Hey! What.. She doesn't want to go with you. Leave her alone!" She struggles to lift her foot up off the floor and failing. She jumps, startled as the door gets closed behind her and she turns her wide eyed look to Kunzite.
Ayana Tasogare 2016-02-16 20:06:26 29232
"Hoshi-chan," Ayana replies, confusedly at the girl. "Do you know where my Ikiko is? I thought the animal care club was on this floor, but I never bothered to look for it when I was a girl, before, and her parents didn't let her bring me to school when I was a fox." Yup, she's just talking about it, right out in public. At least her ears and tails are hidden.

"I wanted to go to lunch with her when she's done, bu--" but the starball at Ayana's neck begins glowing brighter and hotter, and even Ayana can't ignore its warmth against her chest. Reaching up to grasp it, she looks confused, right up until she hears the sound of struggling down the hall. Ayana glances past Hoshi, and those fox-ears do pop out of her orange hair, now, both swiveled forward towards hte sound of Naru's struggling.

"Someone's in trouble," Ayana notes, then glances at Hoshi worriedly. "I haven't tried to Henshin since ... you know. But we should go help. Come on," she says, grabbing Hoshi by the hand and rushing towards the sound of Naru's voice.
Hoshi Kogane 2016-02-16 20:12:34 29233
"Oh, Animal Care Club is..." Hoshis about to reply when she notices the same thing, the itch of her Chroma Crystal isn't quite like the sting it gives when there's a shade, but Colour Energy is meant to purify, and just because it's the wrong kind of youma doesn't mean the alerts don't work; nor that the magic wouldn't. Hoshi's eyes open wide, and she reaches for the crystal. "Chroma Prism Yellow! Transform!"

A flash of yellow inside that empty hallway, out of sight to anyone but Ayana, and a pair of stars helps tie down the yellow and white miko's outfit that suddenly appeared, then ties down the ribbon in Prism Keeper Yellow's hair.

"Let's go." She agrees with Ayana when she's ready to follow along, only mere moments later, taking Ayana's hand and rushing in that same direction. The shriek, however clear the words may or may not be, at least provide Yellow with enough of an idea where things may be going on. She reaches for the door, not going in yet, just opening it. "Hey, stop that!"
Kyra Nygaard 2016-02-16 20:20:24 29234
Melanite smiles a warm, friendly smile at the girl-youma, drawing her close for a quick squeeze and a kiss on the cheek. "Welcome back, sister." She releases the girl's hand and turns fully about, to face Naru. "The thing is, Osaka-san, she does want to come with us. After all, we're her family. Her destiny."

She's about to add something more when the door is thrown open once again and a girl in yellow starts yelling.

"Stop what?" she asks the girl. "We're just here to pick up my sister, so we can all go home. You do know that school's out for the day, don't you?"
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-16 20:32:45 29238
Sister? The girl-youma, who still looks almost entirely human, narrows her almost entirely not-human eyes for a moment -

"In spirit," Kunzite amends to what Melanite said. "And in allegiance. Three of your true sisters are waiting for you. The last we'll be bringing home soon."

The girl-youma relaxes, and paces around the desk to join Melanite, her little pile of books forgotten. When the door opens, she shifts again - a little to Melanite's side, half a step farther forward, as if prepared to intercept anything untoward that her own would-be defender at the door might do.

Kunzite is still leaned against the wall, apparently unconcerned by the door opening. Nevermind that he's dressed in a vaguely military uniform, cape and all. Nevermind the indignant girl, and the one with the alien eyes. His own expression is, if anything, faintly bored; he looks over the Prism Keeper and Ayana without apparent recognition, then glances to Melanite and makes a small gesture with one hand. It might possibly translate into 'the more, the merrier.' They're all energy, after all.
Naru Osaka 2016-02-16 20:34:38 29239
"That's not what she said!" Naru protests Melanite's words, startling as a girl in yellow pops in, and unable to jump away, even if she might try. "Why can't I move!?" She looks just as wary at the girl in yellow as she does at the other two. There is a copious amount of 'not school uniforms' and 'not teachers' going on here.

"What is going /on/!? Why is she gone all strange!? What have you done?" Naru's questions seem to be piling on top of each other nicely.
Ayana Tasogare 2016-02-16 20:42:00 29240
Ayana skids to a stop just beside Hoshi, and her ice blue eyes widen in startlement and recognition. "Saito-senpai," she whispers uncertainly as she stares at Kunzite. She looks between Saito and the new-made Youma, between the Youma and Melante, and then finally to Naru.

The little fox's ears fold down as the realization sinks in. Yes, yes she knows all to well what Kunzite is; what he can do. She was there, once, too. Doing the same sorts of things. With that same sort of look on her face.

The glass ball at Ayana's neck is now a riot of colour and warmth, glowing bright enough to significantly brighten the already lit hallway. Poor Naru is only going to have a lot more questions, in a few moments. Ayana's ears slowly ratchet back upright and swivel forward as she summons her resolve.

"Hoshi-no-tama," she murmurs quietly, and the starball in her hands explodes. Little shards of glass expand outwards until Ayana is trapped inside her own ball of riotous creation. The Seishou uniform is whisked away, leaving behind a black top and skirt that leaves much of the kitsune's midriff bare. Flared boots and gloves sparkle into existence on her hands and feet, and then the hoshi-no-tama settles itself onto her chest at the center of a big blue bow. A matching sash of blue wraps about Cute Fox Inariko's waist like a loose belt. The bubble of creation rapidly contracts back into the star ball on Inariko's bow, and then she points past Naru straight for Kunzite.

"Saito-senpai," Inariko challenges, "There is a better way. Leave the girl alone and I'll teach you what I have learned."
Hoshi Kogane 2016-02-16 20:47:57 29242
"Just because you did something to her mind doesn't mean I'm falling for it." Prism Keeper Yellow points her wand at one of the two would be captors, the one that looks faintly bored more than anything. It's just rude to ignore the magical girl making her entrance. Yellow doesn't really like rude.

So, a beam of Yellow Chroma Energy is aimed at Kunzite, as unlike Inariko, Yellow doesn't want to waste too much time talking today. It's purification energy, of some kind, and it may also paint his monochrome uniform a nice and pleasant shade of yellow in the process. "Let her go."
Kyra Nygaard 2016-02-16 21:05:27 29244
"Oh, all I did was wake her up from a bad dream, little yellow girl. It's not as if I turned her into something she wasn't always meant to be. This is her real self, you see?"

She glances over at the fox-girl, briefly, making note of the face and the transformation phrase. She hmmms for a moment, considering the new appearance. "Welcome to the party, kouhai," she says. "You seem to think you understand what's going on here. Except that it's all about getting our family together. It always has been. You'll understand it in time. We'll be glad to teach you."

And then color energy is blasting out at Kunzite. Her smile dims a little at this, but she rallies quickly. After all, it's expected that a 'hero' would struggle. Resist.

Her shadow pools around Naru's feet, shrinking slightly as if the angle of the light had increased. Except that it isn't shrinking, it's climbing up the girl's legs, and further up. Forming into jagged, tribal-style markings. "Osaka-chan, my dear, please restrain one of these cute little interlopers for me, won't you?" In the shadows, it seems so... reasonable. A nice, polite request, unlike all the yelling the others are doing.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-16 21:10:23 29245
Ayana knows all too well what Kunzite is, indeed. He showed her parts of it; he nearly told her outright, once.

"I'll do whatever you want me to do, Saito-senpai. Go wherever you want me to go..."

"You shouldn't make that kind of promise. There are too many people capable of holding you to your word."

And later: "I have loyalties of my own, and service I owe to them, as you do to your master."

Now he looks at her without a single flicker of recognition, not of her, and not of the name she's calling him by. Whatever part of him was Saito-senpai, it's simply not there.

The bored expression does not mean Kunzite is ignoring anyone. Very much the opposite, as is proved by the speed of his reaction. A push off from the wall gives him the space to snap his cape up as an impromptu shield, blocking the path of that beam of energy. But the beam neither reflects, as Kunzite had planned, nor burns through -- it hisses against the white of the fabric, as if the two were burning each other. And when it fades? Where it touched, the fabric is glimmering gold for a moment -- then it fades in on itself, the patch diminishing quickly, vanishing, leaving white again.

Whatever it is that he's wearing, it's not cloth, or at least not anymore.

"So. You're one of those." Kunzite's expression, likewise, is not bored anymore. The slight smile is a coldly feral thing, almost pleased, almost hungry. He lifts his other hand. The bolt of energy and force is unexpectedly not monochrome, but it's not something a Prism Keeper is likely to be comfortable with either. It's a distorted, eye-bleedingly wrong pink, of all things. And it's not aimed at Yellow.

It's aimed at the floor under her feet, which is rather less likely to be able to defend itself.

As for the girl who all this is about? The half-woken youma lingers where she was, neither strong enough yet to take action nor willing to leave Melanite undefended. As far as her loyalties are concerned -- well. Kunzite can take care of himself. Something in her remembers, faintly, that Melanite was Beryl's directly. And so was she.
Naru Osaka 2016-02-16 21:12:59 29246
Cue a whole new set of questions for Naru. Enough new questions that she's most sputtering and stuttering and pointing and not making a whole lot of sense, really. "Ah Er Cha Wha.." She attempts a collection of thoughts, none of them collecting enough pieces to properly becoming a car, let alone an entire thought train.

Kitsune and yellow beams of energy out of wands and not cloth capes and a whole collection of 'this was not on my schedule for after school' are making her head snap back and forth as she watches the oddities pile up on oddities. Equally not on the schedule, honestly, was the shadows that are crawling up her tights and turning them into something that she didn't put on that morning, and distracting her in a different way. "Wait.. what?" She blinks as restraining interlopers seems perfectly reasonable. Two to start at least, then all four, perhaps, at least until she forgets that idea. "You're not supposed to be here." She notes to the girl in yellow and the kitsune, turning a little in the shadows to inform them both of that. Complete with a finger waggle and another step towards them.
Ayana Tasogare 2016-02-16 21:23:50 29247
Inariko shouldn't be surprised. He told her he had loyalties elsewhere; loyalties not unlike those she shared to Riventon. He told her.

It just never really sunk in until this moment.

Tears of anger and unhappiness well in Inariko's eyes but she banishes them with determination and hope: emotions she's only recently coming to terms with, but the more powerful, when wielded well.

"Yellow, deal with Osaka-chan," Inariko says. "I'll deal with ... with whatever has happened to Saito-senpai." Which leaves Melanite without anyone to deal with. They're outnumbered. But maybe Tsukiko will come bursting in soon. Surely she can sense the evil, here.

"Twilight Step," Inariko says, rushing straight towards Naru. She simply vanishes a step in front of Naru, and reappears a step behind her, as if the space between these two points were collapsed.

"Saito-senpai, I still care," is all the warning he gets before Inariko shouts, "Twilight Inspiration!" And nothing happens.

Nothing, except for a complete shift in Kunzite's perceptions. For him, the entire world changes. He's no longer in a classroom, surrounded by Melanite and their newmade Youma. The doorway with Naru Osaka and Yellow is gone. All that remains is a chaotic nothingness that surrounds and engulfs him. Stars errupt into view, and then die away, battling one another in this chaotic space. And into it, Inariko sends her own subconscious.
Hoshi Kogane 2016-02-16 21:38:31 29249
Unfortunately for Prism Keeper Yellow, the ground below her feet vanishes in a flash of 'wrong' pink. Not the Pink of Prism Keeper Pink (whenever she would awaken) but some kind of twisted dark idea of pink. She tries to dodge the blast, but trips right as it hits the ground, and if it wasn't for her butterfly wings, she would've fallen through instead of crashing into the wall.

Clearly she hasn't quite mastered flying yet. "I don't know what you mean by 'One of those' but I'm Prism Keeper Yellow, and you are?" Apparently somewhere in her mind there's a disconnect between 'this guy is trying to kill me' and 'social mores' that leads her to introduce herself.

Inariko tells Yellow to go after Osaka, and as much as Inariko has only recently come into these powers, Yellow would be hard-pressed to deny that she has more experience with this general kind of mess than she does, so she's all too happy to follow orders.

Thus, the girl's wand is aimed at the poor girl, "You're not supposed to be like that." She counters the girl's mostly involuntary statement, "You're not supposed to be helping her." Thus, she sadly fires off four little five pointed stars, each of them possessing a stern face as they try to splash into Osaka, releasing purifying energy upon impact.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-16 21:54:10 29252
Why should homicide ever be a reason to be impolite? "Kunzite," the figure in whites and grays answers the Prism Keeper. "General of the Dark Kingdom." He draws a hand back, as if intending to send something to tear at butterfly wings --

And Inariko shoulds "Twilight Inspiration!" and Kunzite is suddenly still, and silent, his gray eyes unfocused.

The stars and the youma are probably too distracting for anyone to notice that the first almost-invisible stirrings of something strange are beginning to happen to the wall behind him, or that the air about him grows the faintest fraction misted, as if contaminated by a single breath of smoke.

There's no change between the way Kunzite appears in the physical world, and the way he appears in Inariko's Inspiration. His subconscious idea of how he looks is the body he wears right now, apparently, right down to the unfastened button on his jacket, the way his hair drapes, the way his cape flows when he moves. There's not so much as a blur or a forgotten segment; what normal person knows what their back looks like between their shoulderblades?

As Inari manifests, he's already experimenting, prodding at a dying star, hunting for a way to tame the chaos in his vicinity to his will. It's as if he's been in places like this often enough to condition reflexes to dealing with them.

Which, to be fair, is true.

"An interesting choice," he remarks, or tries to remark. "Physical or illusion, little fox? -- no. Not physical, is it? I can't feel myself properly. Do you really hate your friend that much, to risk what will happen to her if I lose containment?"
Naru Osaka 2016-02-16 22:05:30 29254
Naru Osaka instinctively puts her hands up to stop Inariko from coming closer to her, to possibly even push her way even, but then the kitsune isn't actually /there/ and she's over by Kunzite. Which really is just going to add to Naru's list of questions, if she remembers any of this later.

She turns then to the girl in Yellow, as the interloper still left handily right there, who trips and has.. hey wait a minute.. she hadn't noticed the wings. "Uhhh. You have wings." She announces, because somehow that needs to be stated, even if she hadn't quite gotten to commenting on the kitsune yet. Distractions are legion. "I.. what?" The stars coming right at her are blinked at and a touch of a wide eyed sort of puzzlement as purification wars with obedience in a mind that is basically a ripe plum ready to be manipulated. "I dont know what's going on! I.. you're not supposed to be here?" It's less of a demand now, and more of a puzzled question as she looks back and forth at all the of weird currently going on around her.
Kyra Nygaard 2016-02-16 22:13:05 29255
Melanite reaches over to clasp the hand of her newfound compatriot, giving her a brief, encouraging squeeze. No reason to lose heart, after all, even if you're newly heartless.

Melanite has been heartless for a very long time.

She focuses her gaze on Naru and the Prism Keeper, confident in Kunzite's ability to deal with one minor kitsune. "That's right, Osaka-chan, she isn't supposed to be here." She increases the flow of power into Naru, trying to strengthen her control over the girl and overwhelm Yellow's purifying energy. The contact with that glow makes her wince, however, and black lightning crackles along her forearms as some of the power she pours in feeds back upon her.

"That hurts, doesn't it, Osaka-chan? What she's doing to you really hurts. Make it stop, please." And then she steps to one side, adjusting the angle of the light against her back, so that her shadow falls over both girls, now...
Ayana Tasogare 2016-02-16 22:26:17 29257
Lose containment? Inariko doesn't even know what that means, but this is her space, and she's not about to let a few paltry words distract her. Here, she has black hair once again; black hair and black ears, a black tail. She is the Ayana he doesn't remember.

"I trust her," Inariko informs Kunzite honestly. "I trust her to know how to deal with whatever comes. It's a sentiment that's hard to understand, when another holds your leash. Always snapping at the chain, trying to get away; trying to get free. It's hard to trust. But once you learn it, it's also very liberating."

Inariko drifts closer to Kunzite, then asks, "Why are you here? Why are you taking that poor girl and transforming her into something evil? Saito-senpai, there's a better way."

Meanwhile, in the real world, Inariko continues to drift towards Kunzite, footfalls even as she manages to split her concentration just a little between the two realities. There's nothing threatening in her steps; she's just getting out of the way. Inariko comes to a stop a mere meter from Kunzite, and then focuses fully on the world of her making.
Hoshi Kogane 2016-02-16 22:30:53 29258
"It only hurts because she's pouring gunk into you, Osaka-san." Yellow insists, taking a step towards the other girl once again, wand at the ready. "It's a poison, and I have the antidote. The poison doesn't want to go, so it makes a ruckus while it's being pushed out." This is Yellow trying to come up with a rationale for why it might hurt on the fly. She doesn't actually know.

Her wand is still aimed at Osaka for the time being, though she keeps her eye on the others present as well. "And she's the one who is not supposed to be here. She's being mean for no good reason, and dragging you into it."

Thus, she sends another quick beam of yellow, this one is aimed at Osaka like the stars, not at Kunzite. Yellow remains willing to follow Inariko's lead on this one.
Naru Osaka 2016-02-16 22:45:33 29261
It does hurt, in a push pull kind of way and Naru fairly sways as she's dragged a little further towards the shadows and a little futher into the light. "I don't think any of you are supposed to be here." She points out with a surprising degree of rational, all things considered.

The struggle is clear on her face, every twist of shadow and yellow starlight battle in her is clear upon her face. She tries to take a few steps, to move herself out of being literally in the middle of Yellow and Melanite, to be able to see both of them. The shadows crawling up her make this not actually possible, much to her frustration.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-16 22:49:49 29262
The black lightning along Melanite's forearms meets the hand she's just clasped, and the girl-youma soaks in some of the stray energy. Her skin color deepens and changes, shifting from a human hue toward a strange, cool lavender; her hair lengthens, and something bizarre begins to happen to her eyebrows. But her overall form remains almost human. And she remains out of the fight directly, on guard against anyone trying to drag Melanite in.

Kunzite's body remains still and silent, standing where it was. Nonparticipant, for the moment. Except in the way that a very few threads of his uniform, at the points furthest from his body, are just beginning to dissipate at their remotest ends. Return to the darkness they were spun from. Drift out, quietly, to infect the air, the walls.

"Trust I understand," Kunzite replies to Inariko, within her Twilight; there's a twist at the corner of his mouth as he adds, "I have brothers." A shake of his head. "It's her capacity you should be concerned about. It's an intellectual curiosity, you understand. Whether the energy I keep control over, left to its own devices, will corrupt or simply destroy. Not a significant matter. We need very little from this city now; if it's transformed or destroyed, it may even be more convenient." Not for him personally, of course; if things reach that extent, there won't be anything left to sustain his mind. But, as he said, he has brothers.

"As for the girl --" There's that little note at the corner of his mouth again. Not much of one. Most of his attention seems to be on the dying stars he's examining, studying orbits, points of pressure, whether he can deflect them, whether it makes any difference. Searching for patterns in the chaos. "You're making a poor assumption, little fox. We're not transforming her. She's transforming herself. This is the first chance she's had to see what she's been all along. We're only here to take her back to her family."

And then he actually focuses on Inariko, as if reminded of something trivial but relevant. "Or did you mean the human?" He shrugs. "She's in the way. You can run with her, if you like. Or we can take all three of you. Normally hostages aren't much use to us, but at the moment, a few might live a little while."
Kyra Nygaard 2016-02-16 22:55:40 29263
Melanite nods. "That's right. And it's your duty to escort us out, isn't it? All of us. Including these little troublemakers." She flashes a warm smile. She's a nice girl. Isn't she?

Well, no. But she's good at pretending to be one.

She continues feeding power into Naru, slowly and carefully, shadows twining around the purification. Attempting to corrupt it. It's not likely to succeed, but it's worth trying.

"Just stand aside, little yellow girl. Walk away. This isn't a kidnapping, it's a rescue."

And then she lets out a blast of her own, aimed directly at the Prism Keeper. Not to injure or even to hurt. But to weaken. To make it harder for her to keep up that purification. It's not an energy drain, but a simple 'go to sleep' sort of spell, wrapped in a blast designed solely to get it through her defenses.

Melanite never has been about the direct attack. As Sailor Jupiter recently proved.
Ayana Tasogare 2016-02-16 22:56:48 29264
In the Twilight, the fox squints at Kunzite, then shakes her head. "No, you're corrupting her. The same way Riventon corrupted me. The same way your master has corrupted you. You're destroying an innocent life; taking her away from who and what she was meant to be so that you can advance some further plot."

Like Kunzite, Inariko stands almost lock still; unmoving save for the slow in and out-take of breath. She's dangerously close to the infection of Kunzite's slowly leaking dark energy; but then, she was infested with the stuff, once. Maybe she's built up an immunity to Darkocain Powder?

"I'm not going to run from you, Saito-senpai," Inariko says to him. "I'm not going to run, but I'm not going to let you take her, either. I'm going to stop you, because I care about you, and about her. But I'm first asking you to stop, yourself."
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-16 23:19:50 29267
In the Twilight - there's no actual smile on Kunzite's features. It would be less awful if there were one. "She's already corrupt, little fox. She always was. The human seeming is only a mask. We're not feeding her that energy; she's eating it herself. I won't tell you I don't do that; it's too useful a weapon to lay down. But this one is special. This one was always my Queen's."

Slowly, distantly, the motions of the transient stars are changing. The stresses their motions put on the twilit world, likewise. "I'm curious," Kunzite adds, still apparently unconcerned. "Why do you keep insisting we've met?"
Naru Osaka 2016-02-16 23:21:48 29268
"You have to let me go. And /her/ go." Naru waves a hand towards the girl that she came in for originally, her eyes widening a touch as she notices all the changes in that girl. "And.. fix her. Back to normal. And me back to normal. This is ALL WRONG!"

And so it has been declared by the one in the room most intimately acquainted with 'normal'. Naru knows normal. Naru is very good at normal. This? All of this? Not normal.
Kyra Nygaard 2016-02-16 23:37:02 29269
"Really, Osaka-chan? After all we've been through together?" Of course, there's rather more from Melanite's perspective, but that would be giving away her secret identity. So she doesn't mention any of it.

She chuckles, light and pleasant, and gives her new compatriot's hand another squeeze. Not immune to flirtation, our Melanite, or to the temptation to indulge in it. "Don't worry. I'll teach you to appreciate the new normal."

And the dark energy builds in her shadow once more, this time surrounding both Naru and Yellow. Taking the little sleep spell she cast at Yellow, and magnifying it, pulsing it through both girls, pushing on both: Rest. Submit. Sleep.
Ayana Tasogare 2016-02-16 23:49:24 29274
Inariko has enough awareness of her own demense to recognize the change in the starlit patterns. She notices it, and she counters by simply erasing the stars from existence. Very suddenly, Kunzite finds himself surrounded by nothing at all. "Why?" Inariko asks, "becuase we do know one another. You were once Kunehiro Saito, a teacher at Infinity University.

"You helped me find my butterfly, when I was upset," InInariko explains. "You were very sweet, and I developed a bit of a crush on you. Then I very hamhandedly tried to do something about that crush, and you rightly turned me down. But rather than laughing at or mocking me, you were very kind; you explained why it was a bad idea. Later, when you found me hungrily stealing energy from people, you walked with me, helped me to do so safely, and explained a lot to me about the world. And then ... when I was on the verge of my demise, you comforted me for a while, before sending me my way. You were a kind and beautiful person once, Saito-senpai. And while I know, now, that I belong with Ikiko-chan, I also still harbour no small amount of affection for who you were. I want that person back. I want a chance to be his friend, now that I've been given a second lease on life."
Naru Osaka 2016-02-16 23:59:45 29278
"After.. what?" Naru's brow furros at Melanite, as she struggles to remember another meeting, that particular zombie episode already long gone out of her memory. Just a rough exam, that's all.

She sways a little at the push of another wave of dark energy in the shadow and she gives her head a little bit of a shake. "It.. must be getting late. I'm getting tired." The shadows are becoming part of that new normal, the exact details of the how and why and the weirdness all around, starting to just be accepted into her unnaturally tired mind.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-17 00:04:22 29281
Nothing at all. One of his favorite environments, in a sense. "Little fox." There's that sense of a smile in his voice. It's a predator's smile, this time. "You do realize why I did all of that, didn't you? Because I was hunting. Because you made it easier for me to find and take my prey."

He doesn't remember any of this. He doesn't remember who that prey was. It's all been hidden from him; somewhere in all of that, there was something that got to him, that wormed its way inside of his mind, that deceived him and brought him to betray his Queen.

(For an instant, in the nothing, Inariko can almost see blackness moving, twining about him, keeping his attention away from anything he might remember. And she can smell, can taste, just the faintest trace of the scent of roses on the nonexistent air.)

"And once that was done, I had no more use for any of it. Including you."

She willed the stars away. He wills something else: his own nothingness, the little pocket of the Dark Kingdom that no-one else risks entering. Blackness and isolation and, most of all, glacial cold. Comforting for him. Less so for Inariko.
Kyra Nygaard 2016-02-17 00:32:59 29289
A light smile graces Melanite's lips as she walks over to the Prism Keeper. "We'll let her tell the 'heroes' all about what happened here today... just to be sure they know what to expect." She carefully picks the girl up and settles her against the wall, with a conjured pillow tucked under her head. "Rest well, little Yellow."

Then she straightens and turns back to Naru. "Now then, Osaka-chan, are you done struggling? Don't worry... I have no intention of harming you. After all, you're my very good friend, aren't you?" The light in her eyes shimmers, almost hypnotic...
Naru Osaka 2016-02-17 00:41:50 29291
"I.." Naru hesitates a moment, glancing down at the sleeping Yellow and then back up to Melanite. "Yes?" She offers, still a touch hesitant. "Friends. Of course we're friends. It.. it doesn't hurt anymore." Of course it doesn't, there's no more battle between dark energy and yellow beams going on within her.

"Where are we going? What's wrong with them?" She looks over to Kunzite and the kitsume who are terribly still to her perspective.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-17 00:54:07 29294
"Nothing's wrong with them," the half-reborn youma answers Naru, lowering lashes and smiling at her. "They've just taken their argument elsewhere. Don't worry; we don't have to wait for them. He'll win. He does that." Her smile widens. "Or he'll die. He does that, too. Either way, he'll get what he deserves."

She leans her head toward Beryl's apprentice, her long mane of pale-brown hair tumbling free entirely now. "... Melanite," she ventures. "Yes? Melanite? Can we go home now?"
Kyra Nygaard 2016-02-17 01:06:08 29297
"Good, you're remembering." She reaches over to draw Naru closer, along with the awakening youma. "And yes, I am indeed Melanite. It's been a very long time since I've seen you, my dear."

She clasps one hand of each of the two, her shadow twining around the trio. "Don't worry, Osaka-chan. This won't hurt a bit."

And it doesn't. If she weren't shielded by the dark energy wrapped around her, it would hurt a lot. Wrapped in Melanite's shadow, however, all Naru Osaka will feel of the teleport is a warm, comforting darkness. Leaving Kunzite to face the kitsune alone, with nothing but a sleeping Prism Guardian and a little spy-eye from Melanite for company.
Naru Osaka 2016-02-17 01:17:50 29300
Naru Osaka is drawn closer, and doesn't resist. "Melanite." She muses on that name, the very faintest of ripples of remembering, but nothing that actualy clicks. "What? Where... ooooh." Teleportation is new to Naru, and she can't help but shrink a little closer to Melanite and the oh so comfortable darkness. Such lovely darkness.
Kyra Nygaard 2016-02-17 01:28:38 29303
Melanite gathers Naru close as they arrive, pushing back several too-curious youma with a casual wave of her hand. Magic comes so much more easily to her here, in the dark.

In the Dark.

She leads Naru - and the new girl - to a comfortable suite of rooms, the quarters Beryl has arranged for her to use when not keeping up her schoolgirl masquerade. It's nothing like what the Generals are able to command, but it's hers.

She leads the new girl into the bedroom, setting her to rest. "Sleep now," she murmurs. "Remember. And complete your rebirth." She tucks a crystal laden with dark energy into the girl's top, and draws a blanket over her before returning to Naru.
Ayana Tasogare 2016-02-17 01:36:39 29308
Inariko doesn't back down from that predatory smile. Sure, foxes are pretty low on the predatory totem pole (some relegated to 'scavenger'), but they're also known as tricksters for a reason, and 'fear' is generally better described as 'respect' where a fox is concerned. And she certainly does respect Kunzite; she isn't challenging him for supremacy just yet.

But oh yes, she recognizes his words for what they are. And there might just be a little bit of sardony in her tone when she says, "Yeah, I know that lie. 'I'm just hunting and you made it easier'. I know that lie better than most, Saito-senpai. It's the lie you tell yourself to justify your own morality warring against your master's. I know it, and I reject it. It is a lie."

The more she speaks with him, the more Inariko's confidence grows. It's not just confidence in herself, but confidence, too, that Ikiko made the right decision. That Inari made the right decision. "Your master no longer has use of me, but it wasn't your master that used me. You didn't, either. So I reject that claim, as well."

The cold settles in, and Inariko shivers, then raises a hand and says, "No." It is a scholding, determined word, and with it spawns the sun. Brilliant warmth shines high overhead as a ball of light engulfs the whole of her realm. Kunzite and Inariko stand now not in the nothing, but instead in the brilliant blue of the afternoon sunshine, surrounded by warmth and comfort. There is still no ground, but neither are they falling. "No more hiding, Saito-senpai. It's time for you to face the light." And here, in this place, it burns like purity. Good thing it's just his mind.
Naru Osaka 2016-02-17 01:39:57 29310
"I... where /are/ we?" Naru asks as she looks around, blinking and a touch wide eyed. "We.. we aren't at school anymore. And what do you mean by rebirth?" She asks, eternally full of questions, which is hardly likely to stop while she's conscious and not currently a zombie. She is, however, trailing along after Melanite, much like a faintly dim puppy.
Kyra Nygaard 2016-02-17 01:43:44 29314
Melanite smiles and guides Naru to a comfortable chair, where she can sit and rest. The shadows withdraw a bit, leaving her a little more free will, though still suppressing her anxiety. "Have you ever wondered where youma come from, Osaka-chan?"

While she listens to the girl's answer, she walks over to a small cabinet, withdrawing a bottle and pouring two small glasses of a thick, milky green liquid. She offers Naru one, then takes a seat nearby and sips from the other. (If Naru should try the drink, it's something like milk with a noticeable cinnamon flavor.)
Naru Osaka 2016-02-17 01:47:12 29316
"What's a youma?" Naru asks with utter innocence and complete sincereity. Ignorance is indeed bliss, and she's hardly about to turn down a new experience. She reaches for the drink, sitting in the offered chair and sniffing at it curiously. She takes a sip, just as curious about that as she is about whatever youma are.
Kyra Nygaard 2016-02-17 01:56:17 29323
"A type of person," is Melanite's first answer. "A long, long time ago, two great kingdoms went to war. One of them was eventually victorious, and used a powerful magic to banish the other, so that it could never be a threat to them again. Youma are the people of that banished kingdom, having used powerful magics to make themselves better than they had been before."

It's a rather sanitized version of the history, of course. She might even believe it herself, given how little she remembers of those days. But then, a lot of people from those days are starting to remember more, now.
Naru Osaka 2016-02-17 02:07:44 29330
Naru Osaka frowns, taking that in as she sips on her odd drink. There is just so much odd going on that such a fairy tale is hard not to just accept. So much odd. It's not the new normal, it's the new odd. "Are you a youma?"
Kyra Nygaard 2016-02-17 02:11:26 29331
Melanite hmmms softly, taking a sip of her own drink. "To some extent," she agrees. "It gets a bit more complicated at my level." She settles back in her seat, tucking one leg under the other knee. "I don't think you are, though."
Naru Osaka 2016-02-17 02:20:07 29336
"I'm not?" Naru hunhs softly as she sniffs her milky drink again and takes another sip. "I suppose if I was, I might have some idea on what's going on." She decides, which probably is at least partially true. "Where have you brought me?"
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-17 02:34:54 29344
"Do you really think there's a difference, little fox?" Kunzite's smile sharpens a little further, audible, tangible in the dark. "Oh, I'll grant you that my nearest mistress and I have our differences of opinion. But behind her stands the radiant dark. And that I serve with all my heart. This broken world will have what it deserves, very soon now. If something better rises in its place, well enough. And if nothing ever does - that's well enough, too."

And then, suddenly, there is the sun.

Nevermind that she's seen him during the day. He recoils from that sudden light, shielding himself behind his cape the same way that he shielded himself from the Prism Keeper's beam. But sunlight is bright enough to reflect off everything else; that's what color is, in most people's eyes. And it glares.

For the barest of instants, she can see truths overlaid on truths. The man wearing that uniform, with open contempt. The same man wearing a different uniform, neat and precise, but burdened with a slithering, coiling darkness that moves around him, moves through him, steals his memories, steals his thoughts, poisons his soul. A younger man, a teenager, dressed a few years out of fashion; the same mane of white hair, the same metal-gray eyes, the same uncaring expression, but beneath it haunted and driven and half-mad.

For an instant, a gleam of gold, and the familiar scent of Mamoru Chiba's roses.

And then Kunzite snarls, and the darkness that rushes over her again is all teeth.

It's memory that he throws at her, and it's all memory of pain. A spear driven into her side, just barely shy of a killing blow. The impact of an impossible fall, hundreds of feet onto stalagmites. A dozen lesser wounds, a hundred, things that should have crippled, sometimes things that should have killed. And one, shorn of all context and emotion -- what it felt like to die, awake and aware and in agony.

None of them are illusion or imagination. Her sun won't banish them. All of them are true. All of them are his.
Kyra Nygaard 2016-02-17 02:40:20 29346
"These are my quarters," she answers, which really isn't much of an answer at all, since she doesn't say where her quarters are. "I live here." When she isn't pretending to be a schoolgirl.

She waves a hand at the room around them, all hard stone hung with tapestries of - no, you probably shouldn't look at those too long.

Except that it isn't stone and eye-twisting tapestries, it's a pleasantly modern room with painted walls and tasteful abstract art and bookshelves and such.

Which is real? Maybe both. Maybe neither.

"What do you think, do you like it?"
Naru Osaka 2016-02-17 02:43:31 29347
Naru Osaka blinks a moment or two, her brain trying to catch up with what her eyes have told her, and that suddenly becomes a lie. "I.. don't know." She answers as she sits primly on her chair. "Yes. I think so." She decides after a moment and then leans down, as if to reach for something. "Oh." Her voice is an echo of disappointment. "I forgot my knapsack. I think I liked the tapestries better. They were more interesting than the art."
Kyra Nygaard 2016-02-17 02:49:58 29349
"Don't worry about the bag. I'm sure one of your friends from schoool will pick it up for you. They're quite friendly about that sort of thing, aren't they?"

Except that they've been so very busy being Senshi, with little time left over for school.

As for the tapestries, if she looks for them, she'll find them. It takes a trick of perception, but it's an easy one to pick up, to fool yourself into not seeing the illusion. It isn't really a very strong one, after all - it was mostly just to put Naru and the still-transitioning new girl at ease.
Ayana Tasogare 2016-02-17 03:16:36 29356
"You don't serve that darkness, you are controlled by it!" Inariko counters with a yell. "It's ruining that beautiful man who was so concerned for a girl's lost butterfly. I can see him, now, in the brilliance of the light! He's desperate to break free! Fight it, Saito-senpai. Fight i--hrk"


It's overwhelming and immense.

Even here, in this realm of Twilight, this place of Imagination and Inspiration, where Inariko is able to reshape the rules at a whim, Pain remains a constant. It's not physical pain, it's spiritual pain, so deeply traumatic and intimiate and wrong.

And it's so much.

The little golden ball on Inariko's bow (in the real world) begins to darken as Kunzite's attacks do their damage. Her body shudders in pain, and then collapses.

The twilight realm shatters as Inariko's will is broken, freeing Kunzite to return to his body.
Kazuo Takeba 2016-02-17 03:28:47 29361
Kunzite tips his head back for a moment, opens his hands just to be certain he can; closes them, and with the gesture gathers in the energy that had begun to wisp away from him. Fastens it back into his body, and the uniform that is hardly less a part of him. He glances around. The Prism Keeper, unconscious. Melanite and their target and the human girl, gone.

Inariko, collapsed on the floor.

"That's right," he muses aloud. "You were Riventon's, weren't you. I should have put that together before. He was a challenge, too."

The same smile as in Twilight, whether or not her eyes are open.

"He didn't win either."

She's not a Senshi. He's not under orders to kill her now. He turns and walks away, across the gap in the floor without missing a step or slipping an inch, leaving her there.

Two small victories. She got to him enough for him to leave them alive and free.

And she got him to remember something.