The Nature of a Hero


(CW: German cursing) Alexis' frustrations and anger reach their apex, and Rashmi and Miho have to stop him from making the biggest mistake of his life.

Date: 2018-08-14
Pose Count: 55
Alexis Raskoph 2018-08-14 18:02:07 94479
    Alexis has been... strangely scarce. It's not as if though he's hard to find if one really, truly wants to find him, but he's been very deliberately not visiting the ECFH much for a while despite it effectively being his home base at the moment, and he's not been patrolling on the streets with anyone else.

    But now, after the whole Earth mess, Alexis *finally* actually sent a text message to Rashmi. SImple enough affair, that one: "Can you come over to the guys' place? SOmethin' I wanna ask about Nicho."

    That might mean he just wants to train or share notes on potential tactics, right? Right? Probably. Maybe.

    Whatever it was, when she does actually arrive to the otherwise quiet and empty penthouse in the skyscraper, she isn't greeted by smiles, hellos or calls to sit down.

    But rather...

    "VERDAMMTER SCHEISSE!!!!!"

    ...Very, very angry yelling down the hall leading to the personal rooms of the occupants. The language used is a dead giveaway of *who* exactly is doing the yelling-- and even those who don't actually understand any german can probably immediately guess that the words used are the furthest thing from anything one should say in polite company.

    "HIMMEL, ARCHS UND ZWIRN!!! DAS VERDAMMT BACKPFEIFENGESICHT!!!"

    ... Yeah.

    And thus lo and behold, in Alexis' room, one finds the young man himself, pacing back and forth through the room, obviously enough *fuming* to the point that in an anime there would be actual steam flowing out of his ears-- and the desktop table by the window has somehow been broken in two by something smashing on top of it. Somehow the very expensive -looking laptop currently opened up to some local newsfeed site has survived more or less intact, though it has understandably dipped down to be wedged by gravity between the two broken halves of the table.
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-14 18:05:09 94480
Paying a visit to check up on the residents, now that the madness of Mirai is finally over, Rashmi is startled by the vehemence of the swearing. Peeking her head in the door, she takes in the destruction with wide eyes, before glancing furtively up at the room's occupant. "...Alexis-kun?"
Alexis Raskoph 2018-08-14 18:13:44 94481
    "WAS ZUM TEUFEL WILLST DU?!" Alexis roars out in response to the meek question of Rashmi as he turns to face the intruder-- right before taking a deep breath to try his damned best to calm himself down, though it's *obviously* not an easy effort.

    "Sorry--" he growls in japanese then, shoulders still heaving a bit from his anger-quickened breathing. "I didn't mean to-- just-- NNNRH!"

    He turns himself away from her there, arms shaked out in that sort of angry gesture where one just has to *try* to get some tension out by forced motion. "That... that kotzbrocken just *WALKED*!"
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-14 18:26:25 94483
".....What?" Rashmi says, leaning further into the doorway... But not entering, oh no. Broken desks make a wonderful deterrent. "Who walked, Alexis-kun...?"
Alexis Raskoph 2018-08-14 18:40:55 94486
    "That arschgeige!" Alexis growls before he stamps his foot down on the floor to try and keep himself still. "That lab we went to? As much as I hate to admit it, mother was... right. I looked into it, it was funded and ran by this... ugly-ass councilman or whatever the hell. So I ran through about two dozen Yakuza to get through to him and find enough evidence to let the cops go through the rest, right? Because a broken nose is temporary but a destroyed career is forever. So I drop it all on the officials and wait to see the results, and-- and--"

    A foot turns to kick against the wall before he points at the laptop. "ALL I got for it is a couple bloody social media posts speculating about why the good councilman got escorted to the police station only to leave back to his multi-million bloody estate right after! WITHOUT EVEN AN ANNOUNCEMENT FROM THE POLICE! NOTHING! Twenty people in a coma and god knows how many more just dumped off after they grabbed them off the streets and got waht they needed from them and he just WALKS!"
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-14 18:47:46 94488
".....What?" Rashmi stares after the pacing Alexis, then sighs, thumping her head against the doorway. "That... is terrible. So he has enough political power to skate, which means... well... probably it's the best way to get at him, ruining his power base?"
Alexis Raskoph 2018-08-14 18:55:45 94490
    "Oh SURE, I'll just arrange a political smear campaign that will take away all his support that also is probably corrupt to the core real quick like," Alexis growls, finally at least coming to a stop, though he has to forcefully cross his arms together over his chest to keep them still. "This is horseshit!"
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-14 19:05:12 94491
"Well... yeah it is," Rashmi sighs. "But if your plan didn't work, just like... come up with another one and try that, y'know? Sometimes we try things, and they don't work."
Alexis Raskoph 2018-08-14 19:31:42 94500
    "WEll what IS the other plan?!" ALex growls out, in frustration. "Anything that doesn't involve breaking his bloody nose will just end in some stupid political fingertwirling, and even that won't solve anything because he'll just sleep it off!"
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-14 19:40:53 94503
"HEY," Rashmi says, eyebrows drawing down. "You're upset, I get that, but you need to take a step back and a big breath, because if you start kicking in the walls you might get asked to leave, Alexis-kun. What happened to tactics and striking where the enemy's weak, huh?"
Alexis Raskoph 2018-08-14 20:00:33 94505
    "Well they just took away that one weakness I COULD exploit!" Alex growls in protest, hissing past his teeth. He pauses, and rather purposefully looks away from the redhead. "...The one that isn't..."
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-14 20:02:58 94506
"Hey," Rashmi says, much more gentle as she finally comes in, approaching the angry teen. "What's going on, Alexis-kun? You've been really off for awhile, now, and I'm starting to worry, y'know?"
Alexis Raskoph 2018-08-14 20:12:17 94510
    "What's wrong is an aasgeier like that doing awful things like that and getting to just *keep going*!" Alexis growls, first-- and then rather deliberately turns to face fully away from her,arms still crossed together.

    "...Things used to be so much more simple," he mutters, voice quieter. "I could see someone doing something wrong-- a ganger abusing people, criminals turning people into their livelihoods... I could just punch them, maybe break a couple bones and burn down their base of operations and then just toss them to the cops and that would be it... it'd be over then. Now when I see this kind of thing, I... don't know. I don't know what to do to make it *stop*, when they just let it flow right past them with their influence and money, or just out of virtue of cops simply not being able to handle them."

    His teeth tease down at his lower lip, in frustration. "... Just how much do you have to do at that point?"
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-14 20:16:17 94511
Rashmi Terios closes her eyes, loosing a long, slow breath and moving forward to wrap her arms around Alex's waist in a brief, tight hug. "I know," she says after a moment. "I know how you feel. But some things, you can't just... punch or laser away, y'know? Stuff like that is just too big to put a fist through. You have to change the world, and that's hard, slow work. But it's better that it is, because people have to want to fix it, and you can't scare people into making a better world."
Alexis Raskoph 2018-08-14 20:22:00 94513
    Alexis has fallen silent, by that point, at least for the moment. He remains still, too, while the redhead's arms find their way around the young adult-- until his folded-together arms are allowed to falling down at his sides, and one hand to go down to brush over one of Rashmi's arms about him.

    "I know you're right," he mutters. "But I hate it. I hate that it means these kind of people just get to go hurting others without any consequence to them until then."

    His teeth grind together, briefly. ".......unless."
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-14 20:27:11 94515
"No," Rashmi says, stepping back and looking up at the boy's face. "No unless. You stop what you see in the moment, and do the long work for a better world. Alexis-kun, people with the kind of power we have can't start going too hard. Ask Cure Gull where that stops, and what she had to give up to fix someone else's mistake."
Alexis Raskoph 2018-08-14 20:33:19 94516
    Another moment of silence. Another moment of him looking away from her. Until he mutters, quietly, "...So we just let them keep hurting?" A frustrated sound whines through his throat, and he starts to turn to the door back to the hallway. "The people in the hospital and their families don't deserve that."
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-14 20:41:17 94517
"No, Alexis-kun," Rashmi says. "We don't let them keep hurting... They'll pay. It'll just happen slow, and it'll come when they'll never expect it. And it'll happen in a way that they can't wiggle out of. It just... it takes time." With a sigh, she follows the boy to the door. "I know it hurts, wanting to fix everything right now. But that's not how people work, y'know?"
Alexis Raskoph 2018-08-14 20:46:58 94519
    "Maybe there's just some too difficult choices somewhere along the way," the boy mutters underneath his breath. He pauses then, to stand at the doorway, rather than immediately crossing the treshold.

    "... You know you are important to me, Rashmi," he murmurs, with a peek sent back to her over his shoulder.

    "...But it might be best for you if you stay away from Stahlritter for a while."

    And with that ominous statement, he not only steps out of the room, but also goes making way to the balcony.
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-14 20:48:47 94520
"It'll probably be best for you if I don't," Rashmi says quietly, an unutterably sad look in her eyes.
Alexis Raskoph 2018-08-14 20:55:22 94522
    The german boy doesn't offer a verbal response to that. He continues to the balcony, opening the glass divider there and stepping through.

    And only there, when he steps up to the railing seperating the balcony from the imperceptible fall below, does he look back towards Rashmi again. He still doesn't say anything, but...

    In that brief moment, the expression on his face almost seems to say 'I am sorry'.

    Before with a flash of mana forming, his body is covered in the dark Knight Armor, and he's leaping off into the city.
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-14 20:58:48 94523
"Stahlritter don't you dare," Rashmi says, pelting toward the balcony and just leaping off, Barrier Jacket and Flier Fin activating in a burst of yellow light. "I'll stop you if I have to!"
Alexis Raskoph 2018-08-15 16:49:04 94580
    "SOMEONE HAS TO!" The magically enhanced growl comes from underneath Stahlritter's helmet, just as mana concentrates together to form a length of chain attaching to a building in the distance, to swing him forward, turned just enough that he can look back at the redhead flying after him.

    "I don't want to fight you, Rashmi! Don't make me just because you don't want that hard choice to be made!"
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-15 16:56:04 94581
"THAT'S AN EXCUSE AND YOU KNOW IT," Rashmi shouts indignantly. "RIGHT NOW I JUST WONDER IF YOU'RE TOO SCARED TO DO THINGS THE ACTUALLY HARD WAY!" Fishing in a pocket, she pulls out her Virtue phone, glancing away from the fleeing Stahlritter just long enough to check up on who's active and about... and stabs Miho's number. Whether it goes to voicemail or is picked up, Rashmi doesn't waste any time on pleasantries.

"Miho-chan Stahlritter's on the warpath and I need help stopping him before he does something he can't take back we're heading **** over ****** Street please help!"

And hangs up.
Miho Kagami 2018-08-15 16:59:13 94582
Life Mahou Joy is flying up to the ECFH to see if Mamoru's woken up yet, and she frowns as she suddenly gets a call from Rashmi. "I think I can already see --" Click. Uh-oh.

Enveloped in a minty-green glow, she boosts Stahlritter-ward, and ... misses and overshoots, twisting around in midair and activating a boost for a split second to cancel the inertia. "HEY!" Her clear bright voice cuts through the sky as she resumes closing in on the two of them at her normal (but still high) speed. "What's going on here!?"
Alexis Raskoph 2018-08-15 17:04:29 94584
    "IS THAT WHAT YOU WILL SAY TO THE FAMILIES OF THOSE PEOPLE?!" Stahlritter roars out back to Rashmi-- and just as Miho shoots past him, his swing reaches the upward apex, and he lets the chain dematerialize and send him launched off upward, landing down upon a building just a few ways down, where he spins around to standing and facing Rashmi and MIho both.

    "Is that what you will say to the people that guy will go on to hurt from here because we didn't tkae the responsiblity to STOP IT?!"
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-15 17:17:54 94585
Eyes flick to Miho, gauging speed and travel time, as Stahlritter turns to face Rashmi.

*bing!* << SEALING MODE >>

Nicomachea disassembles and reassembles in her hands, optimizing himself for output. Her face set in grim determination, she lands on the other side of the rooftop from Stahlritter, and when Miho is close enough, she gives a two-word response.

"Labyrinth Barrier."

To the uninitiated, the bubble of space-time-folding magic that surrounds them looks like nearly any other similar Barrier meant to keep collateral damage from spilling over and harming the innocent. Tinted red and black, perhaps, instead of green and black, but otherwise unremarkable.

To a Device User, however, the Barrier is effectively a prison. Dimensional space is being refolded and rearranged at completely random intervals, and while there's always a weak point in every Barrier's structure, this one was built precisely with that in mind; never in the same place twice, and with no discernible rhythm or pattern to the folding, a Device User could be contained here as close to indefinitely as it takes for the casting Mage's reserves to run out.
Miho Kagami 2018-08-15 17:24:49 94586
Joy's eyes flick back to Rashmi, and she frowns slightly at the different colors. But she trusts Rashmi to have constructed the barrier in such a way that won't be a problem for Miho herself, while still stopping them from becoming Sailor Collateral Damage.

"Stahlritter-kun," she says, "I don't know who it is you're angry at, but ..." She considers how to phrase this delicately. "You're kind of giving me the impression of the people who were shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later on Lacchan for the 'crimes' she committed before she had people like us to help her." There, nice and nonspecific and without mentioning Hoshi by name, while still being personal to Alex. "I'm new at all this, but even I know that violent grudges aren't the way to deal with things. You need to settle down."
Alexis Raskoph 2018-08-15 17:37:04 94588
    Stahlritter's fiery-orange visor is directed upwards, briefly, as the barrier forms. And after Kriegsfauste gives the proper analyzis of what's happening, he growls in annoyance, "*This* is what we are doing now?"

    And then, that visor snaps to Miho. "Do not tell me to SETTLE DOWN! Not when all those people in a coma in the hospital and GOD KNOWS how many more dumped in the gutter don't get any justice-- just because some SCHWEINHUND wanted to make money off of the suffering of others happened to have enough power to GET AWAY WITH IT! DO NOT DARE COMPARE SOMEONE LIKE THAT TO HER!"

    And back to Rashmi. "Is this what you are going to do to whoever eventually decides someone like Riventon has hurt a hundred or so people too many, too!? To the person who decides they don't want *EVIL* to continue when it could be STOPPED?! Are you really going to make me beat you up until you run out of mana JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE CONTENT TO LET THEM KEEP GOING?!"

    A gauntlet-bearing hand lifts up, then, the fingers slightly curved and thumb hooked up, as if though holding an invisible detonator. "And one more thing, Rashmi," he growls. "You really need to start paying attention to details that specifically concern you."

    The upraised thumb lowers down, and Kriegsfauste intones <<SPANNSTUCK: FERNZUNDER>>

    --TWENTY SECONDS AGO--

    Stahlritter lands on the rooftop, and as he starts his slide towards the opposite end, his hand breifly sweeps on the roof itself there, with the briefest flare of a rune appearing momentarily before disappearing again.

    --NOW--

    *click*

    A rune lights up right underneath Rashmi's feet where she landed-- turning into an explosion of a blinding lightning, and in turn to violent sound carrying pieces of concrete and metal flying into every direction as dust and smoke clouds up the area.

    Stahlritter immediately pounces into motion with that, running through the rooftop, with a foot swinging up to kick into one of the flying bits of stone-- and looking right at Life Mahou Joy. "OUT OF MY WAY!"

<<SPANNSTUCK>>

    The kicked piece of rubble not only gets sent into the direction of Joy, but instantly gains massive addition to the speed at which it travels, enough to leave a blur of a trail behind it-- like a projectile launched by a railgun.
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-15 17:49:54 94590
Rashmi is.... not... the greatest of combat Mages. The fact that she drops her guard so easily is testament to that, and it's only her Barrier Jacket that keeps her from being horrifically injured by the trap rune.

Between the recovery time from that, and the recovery time from processing the fact that Stahlritter just set a trap to hurt her, It's a decent amount of time before the dust clears, revealing a slightly tattered Barrier Jacket and bruised Rashmi, but when it does...

Oh now she's angry. This was an excellent idea.

Pushing off from the rooftop, she first points the pages of her book Miho's way--

*bing!* << BARRET BOOST UP >>

--and a ribbon of light snakes out to wrap around her friend's wrist, this time adding her power to Miho's ranged attacks. "I'm sorry, Alexis-kun. But now we have to stop you." And indeed, she does sound sorry... and that she knew how this would end up from the beginning.

"Solar Barret--"

*bing!* << SOLAR BARRET >>

A half-dozen glowing balls of light fade into view, revolving around Rashmi's head as she starts to weave through the flying debris. With a gesture, she sends them all speeding toward Stahlritter, but her incantation isn't done yet.

"Bind Shift"

<< BIND SHIFT >>

It's not quite an on-the-fly modification, but like the trap placed on the rooftop, there is a second spell embedded within the Barrets. If any one of them impact, they 'splash' into bands of light that constrict along the axis they're placed in, and hold fast. Whether this simply binds his arms to his torso, or sticks one of his legs in midair... any result will be a disadvantage for him.
Miho Kagami 2018-08-15 18:05:33 94592
Life Mahou Joy flinches back from the explosion, eyes widening. "Rashmi-chan!" she exclaims, and she boosts sideways to avoid the launched rock. Okay, good, Rashmi survived even if her costume was damaged, I'm not going to have to jump right in and heal her ...

She turns back to Alex, and sighs sadly. She's still recovering from the huge final-boss fight against Sailor Earth, and right now, this is the last thing she needs. "... Sorry, Alex-kun," she says as Rashmi's power-boost touches her wrists. "If you're going to attack us just for trying to talk you down ..." She summons her heart-wand in her left hand, tosses it into the air, and catches it in her right. "... then in the name of all life, and more importantly our friendship ..." And she thrusts her wand out at Stahlritter. "... Rashmi-chan and I will halt the rampage before us!"

She preemptively dodges to the side and swings her wand forward. "MINTY SUN BARRAGE!" Pellets of light fly forth, looking vaguely like mint-leaves, except this time they have a golden sunny sheen as well; the purification isn't boosted the way the overall offense is, but, well, it's not like Stahlritter was a creature of darkness anyway.
Alexis Raskoph 2018-08-15 18:25:41 94593
    "Kh--!" Faced with the full on ranged assault from the two Mahou, Stahlritter, who... very decidedly can't actually fly, much to his current chargrin, turns his vector of motion back to the other side, running sidelong along the roof, with phenomenally fast motions weaving through the projectiles of the Minty Barrage, while his hands sweep this way and that to grab pieces of rubble to throw out with the trademark acceleration spell in an effort to get them triggered early by impacts. There's still so *much* of them, from both Rashmi and Joy, so he can't keep that up forever, right?

    "Directly offensive cluster to suppress me," the Knight's voice growls. "WIth Homing Binding spells in the gaps to catch me while I try to survive the rest-- right?"

    Rashmi already knows from all the times they trained together. Not only is Alexis a phenomenally skilled combatant even without the power output directly meant for combat that a Belkan Armed Device provides, but even though he can come across as dense in most situations, in a fight he shows *shockingly* quick wits, and is outright terrifyingly analytical about sussing out and exploiting weak spots in his opponents.

    "Then--!" he grunts out, just as one of the projectiles of light from the Minty Barrage cuts across his shoulder and tears at the coat framing his Knight Armor. And he reaches his mark. Right where his previous trap went off, and his gauntlet-bearing hand grabs all-too-easily into a large piece of the rooftop seperated by the earlier explosion, breaking it into two to let the fingers of both hands dig into and crack up the stone of the respective pieces.

    <<SPANNSTUCK: NEBELHANDGRANATE>>

    Two explosions ring out again. But this time, the result is less destructive and more... theatric. Namely, the rooftop Stahlritter was left to is covered in rapidly expanding smoke and dust-- and the other piece of rubble he caught is briefly seen flying towards the two Mahou, only for it to explode into a massive cloud of dust and dirt, too, to directly blind them. LEaving both building and the skies a concealing smokescreen even while the rooftop is pelted by the two combined ranged attacks.
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-15 18:33:21 94594
More Barrets fade into being around Rashmi, and she flinches as the massive chunk of rubble starts to fly toward them... and then flinches again when it explodes. While she may not admit it, her 'prison' requires a substantial portion of her mana reserves to keep up, and she's already getting close to her limit. Glancing worriedly at Miho, Rashmi relaxes in midair, scraping a bit of dust and blood from one cheek. "Stahlritter, what are you even going to do? You can't get away from here without stopping me first. Is that what you want?"
Miho Kagami 2018-08-15 18:57:45 94598
Miho catches on really quickly that Stahlritter is brilliant in combat, just from his sudden analysis. But the great thing about super-speed, even when you have no real precision, is that the optimal solution for dodging any non-homing attack is automatically "boost in a random direction." He can't cover every possible angle, and all the analysis in the world can't handle complete randomness, so ... Miho decides to go for something unconventional.

She boosts straight down between the buildings, and looks up at Rashmi from below. Oh, jeez, even at this distance she can see she's not doing that great. She circles around, more-or-less with the goal of getting Stahlritter between herself and Rashmi, or at least get into a position where he'd have to defend on two fronts. And even if he catches on ... well, she's faster than him, when all is said and done.

She swoops up to the very edge of the rooftop, practically hanging off it, and sweeps her wand back and forth as she fires an even-lower-powered Minty Barrage, just trying to suss out where Alexis is in the smokescreen.
Alexis Raskoph 2018-08-15 19:13:22 94600
    It's not easy to figure out where precisely Alex is, in that massive smokescreen...

    But it turns out that would be because he is not even in it anymore.

    "I know."

    That much becomes apparent when that simple answer is given to Rashmi, from... *behind her*?!

    And in the very next instant, a lenght of chain wraps up around Rashmi's arm, the one where Nicomachea's screens come out from, and she's tugged *hard* by it as it retracts to Stahlritter, who evidently managed to use the smokescreen and some short-distance phase shifts to sneak his way over to the next rooftop over.

    And into the grab of his large hand. "... And I know this is taking a lot out of you, isn't it? You can't move so well? Magic's not coming out quite so right?"

    And no, he did not forget about Joy. He turns to settle Rashmi in his hold just so that her back is directed *right* at the other magical girl. "Don't get any funny ideas down there!" he calls in warning. "I know you are fast, but are you *fast enough* to get around to a spot where you can attack me without hurting *her*?" Oh, well isn't he just a *jerk* now.

    And down his visor goes, to stare right at the eyes of his friend. HIs own eyes can't be seen through that fiery visor, but...

    "... Just release the barrier." His voice sounds almost pleading. "Don't make me do this."
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-15 19:18:57 94602
When your guard is down, it's fairly easy to surprise you. So when the voice rings out behind her, Rashmi looses a startled squeak, turned into a panicked cry as the chain wraps and hauls her back. Tears stand out in her eyes, as the realization comes that Alexis is far gone enough to take her hostage, and she draws in a shuddering breath.

"I'm not making you do anything," she says, voice shaking. "What you do next... you do because you choose to. But you're not killing anyone... Anyone. Without going through us." Swallowing, she folds the book closed, tucking it under her other arm without taking her eyes off Stahlritter's visor.

"So what do you want more?"
Miho Kagami 2018-08-15 19:36:24 94604
Joy stays below the building. There's a moment of silence; she opens her old cracked phone and get out a dice-rolling app.

"You know what? You were right before," says her clear and bright voice. At the result from her first roll, she boosts to the next building over, and briefly reverse-boosts to stop herself. "It was unfair of me," she calls out, "to compare the magical boys and girls who thought they were defending against a creature of pure darkness ..." Dice-roll, boost, and her voice is coming from behind another building. "... to a raging meathead who's willing to beat up his own so-called friends just for telling him 'no'." Dice-roll, boost, and she's back to her previous spot. "You are another Okana Ryo." Dice-roll, boost, and she's right by the building behind him. "So here's some friendly advice, Raskoph," she says, without an honorific -- which she usually reserves for the likes of Hannah Sharpe and Ryo.

Another couple of boosts, and then she rises up directly in front of Alex, her expression firm. "If you keep going the way you are now," she says, and then points her wand out towards him. "... you're gonna have a bad time." The last time she said that, it was directed at Sailor Earth.

She's sweating. She has no idea what she'll do if he calls her bluff, or if this isn't enough to persuade him, or if he calls her out for quoting a video game.
Alexis Raskoph 2018-08-15 19:45:55 94605
    The Knight falls silent. Much like Rashmi's eyes never leave his visor, his visor never leaves her gaze. Even while he makes an effort in turning after Joy, to keep his... hostage between him and her.

    But towards the end of the spiel, his movements start getting a bit more sluggish. Or at least sluggish compared to his usual movement ability.

    "I don't *want* this," his booming voice says, as his other hand lifts up, curled up into a fist. "But what kind of man would I be if I just let those people keep hurting others?"

    That fist vibrates, as power courses through it. That fist, that craters the ground and smashes buildings upon impact.

    "What kind of..."

    But the hand holding Rashmi shakes faintly.

    "...What kind of..."

    What kind of hero would he be?

    That's been the question that's been there for the longest time. Even before he got Kriegsfauste.

    In the reflection of Rashmi's iris, he sees himself. But what's staring back at him there, isn't the face-concealing helmet of STahlritter. But rather, the purple-haired, purple-eyed image of him, as the berserking vampire.

    ".................."

    The vibration along his fist stops. He may be fierce combatant and a frighteningly analytic tactician, but... so did those two exploit his weakness. BUt his weakness wasn't any hole in his techniques, no strange loophole in his power. IT was something much simpler.

    And that meant he already lost.

    A step is taken back, away from the edge of the rooftop, and the hand holding Rashmi lowers downwards, until she can feel her feet touching the ground. ANd then, he lets go.
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-15 19:49:15 94606
And the moment he lets go, Rashmi lunges forward. Not to attack, or to restrain, but just... wrapping her arms around his waist and hugging tightly. "I know, Alexis-kun," she says, eyes squeezing shut. "I know... It's so hard to hold back when nobody else does... but that's what a hero does, y'know? They're better than that. You're better than that."
Miho Kagami 2018-08-15 19:55:06 94607
Miho dispels her wand, and walks calmly over to Alex. "Well, for one thing, you're showing yourself to be a better man than Ryo," she says, smiling warmly up at him. "And ... yeah, what Rashmi-chan said." She shrugs. "When there's other people involved ... it's always more complicated than black-and-white." And she walks up and joins in the hug.
Alexis Raskoph 2018-08-15 20:00:57 94608
    The Knight doesn't say anything. Not even by the time he has both girls embracing him. But two other very important things happen.

    For one, his Knight Armor dissipates into mana dust, to leave Alexis Raskoph standing there between them, instead, in his jeans and t-shirt, with the latter slightly torn at the shoulder where one of JOy's projectiles scraped him.

    Second-- he collapses down to his knees. In the brief moment that his eyes can still be seen-- they're desperate, staring off into distance with the kind of hundred mile stare that's usually reserved for traumatized soldiers, and practically streaming with tears. It's only a few seconds before his head tips forward, though, and just presses his face into Rashmi - being the one who is hugging him from the front - and just... stays there, shaking uncontrollably.

    Shoulders heave from quickened breathing, and Rashmi's poor Barrier Jacket itself gets stained in tears and blubbering, uncontrolled sobbing sounds muffling against her-- and then, a long, wordless scream.
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-15 20:06:59 94610
The lucky thing about Barrier Jackets is, they never need laundered. Stains literally melt away when the protection does! And so, Rashmi just holds Alexis there, quietly stroking his hair and biting her own lower lip. "It's okay," she whispers. "It's okay. We've got you, Alexis-kun."

Sniffling, she looks up at Miho, trying to figure out what to do, how to proceed from here.
Miho Kagami 2018-08-15 20:10:30 94611
Miho hugs Alex all the more tightly. She gives Rashmi an uncertain smile; she isn't sure what to do next, either. "It's all right, Alexis-kun," she says. "In the end ... you made the right decision."
Alexis Raskoph 2018-08-15 20:20:14 94612
    "I..." Alexis' voice muffles against Rashmi, otherwise just limply kneeling there with his weight pressed into Rashmi, hands hanging limply down to the ground.

    "I'm-- so-...sohrry..." he blubbers against the barrier jacket, words not quite coming out in the most articulate manner on account of the noisy, shaky crying that rocks his core. "I didn't... I don't... I don't know... what to do..."
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-15 20:27:54 94614
"It's okay, it's okay," Rashmi says, gently singsong. "You didn't do anything you can't take back, you're all right. We'll figure this out, okay? We'll figure it out together."

Although given Rashmi's call list, 'together' could mean any number or all of a hell of a lot of people...
Miho Kagami 2018-08-15 20:29:39 94615
Miho squeezes Alex. "It's okay," she says softly. "It's okay."

She smiles uncertainly at Rashmi. "Need me to, uh, handle the scratches you got?" she says. "Or, uh, or are you all good on that front?"
Alexis Raskoph 2018-08-15 20:33:50 94616
    "I just--" Alex blubbers still-- but now, at least, one of his arms comes up, to wrap up around Rashmi, in at least a half-hearted attempt at returning the hug. Miho's a bit harder to hug back, though, considering her positioning.

    "I don't... why... I was... just so angry..."
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-15 20:39:42 94617
"Shhhhhhshshshsh," Rashmi answers, kneeling down to look Alexis in the eyes. "We'll figure it out, Alexis-kun... Just... you're not alone, okay? No matter what, you don't have to deal with all this yourself."
Miho Kagami 2018-08-15 20:40:32 94618
Miho slips around to try to get a better hugging-angle, and nods. "Yeah," she says. "I mean ... I still don't know what kicked this all off, but ... we can deal with it. I know we can!"
Alexis Raskoph 2018-08-15 20:45:23 94619
    When Rashmi pulls back to look Alex in the eyes, all the while his otehr arm goes coiling about Miho, almost as an afterthought-- well. It's not quite a pretty sight. Tears have dampened his skin around them, and they're reddened bloodshot from the moisture. And he almost looks as if though he is not at all sure what to do with what he sees in front of him.

    "I..." he eventually manages. "I... think I want to... lie down... for a while..."
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-15 20:46:39 94620
"Yeah," Rashmi says, smiling gently. "Yeah... you look like you could use a nap, Alexis-kun." The Barrier fades away, and the redhead's Flier Fin raises faintly. "C'mon.... hang onto us, we'll get you right back home, okay?"
Miho Kagami 2018-08-15 20:52:52 94621
Miho looks slightly nervous at the prospect of carrying Alex, but she just nods. "We can probably both help you to get where you need to go," she says. "... I'll stay in henshin for a while afterward, though ..." (She isn't sure whether Rashmi has deduced why she's reluctant to go out of henshin, but she's not out to Alex, so that conversation can wait.)
Alexis Raskoph 2018-08-15 20:56:14 94622
    "O... ohkay..." Alex sniffles out, and draws one hand away from the girls just long enough to try and swipe some of the tears off away from his eyes. "I'll... yeah..." Well. At least he's not going to complain about being carried along by two girls, right?

    Meanwhile. Around the corner of the building over, something hovers. A floating, orb-shaped camera like an eye, with the lense shifting this way and that to ajdust the zoom and focus. Watching the three there, on that rooftop. But by the time they start moving again, it dips into the shadows, and disappears.
Rashmi Terios 2018-08-15 20:57:48 94623
Completely ignorant of any watchers, Rashmi shifts around beside Alexis, wraps an arm around his waist, loops his arm around her shoulders, and hoists.

Best thing about Barrier Jackets? Rashmi can handle the weight of a grown German just fine. All Miho really needs to do is help keep him steady as she flies -- slowly -- back up to the apartments.
Miho Kagami 2018-08-15 21:00:35 94624
Miho glances over ... immediately after the camera disappears. Hmm ... well, probably nothing. How would anyone or anything have known they were there in the first place, anyway?

She smiles as she helps Rashmi guide Alex up. "Okay, this is way easier than I expected ..."