Snitches on Witches


Masu gets caught in a witch's labyrinth and... well... learns what it's like to feel true despair. Fortunately, Rashmi, Millie and Miho arrive on the scene to rescue her at a time she needs it most. Though the scars this witch leaves could have consequences none of them yet realize...

Date: 2019-01-19
Pose Count: 34
Masu Yogoshi 2019-01-19 19:52:15 102837
Masu Yogoshi was... a bit tired. To say the least. Her shields had been getting more... she'd been trying things that were a new method. Namely because it was getting far too easy to just break them. It had already happened a few times, like a rigid shield that refuses to bend, instead just breaks.

So instead she'd been trying to make her shieldings more malable. To rather than block stuff, more deflect it. But emotions WEREN'T a physical object, and couldn't really... be movedl ike that. And the attempts were exhausting her because it wasn't LIKE her normal shields.

So maybe she could be forgiven for not noticing the field until she stepped into it. "W-what?" she said, looking around at the clear signs of magical nature. There were dancing pieces of toasters, VCR's, all of that HOPPING around. And blending in with the world. Oh, and a bunch of strange.... cable/wire like creatures? Youma? She sighed. "I'm not in the moo--

Crash. Her shields were shattered by just... a wave of despair so over whelming it shattered her shields in an instant and wrapped around her like an ocean. Masu's eyes went wide and she struggled, reaching for her phone. She had to call for help. She knew what this was, Homura told her all about it.

A witch... And she had no signal on her phone. Tears began to fall down her face as she stared up at the creatures approaching... Paralyzed by the despair enveloping her...

Meanwhile, OUTSIDE the labyrinth, magical girls who were more attuned to it MIGHT notice that, hey, suddenly there was a witches labyrinth! Gosh darn it! That had to be DEALT with!
Rashmi Terios 2019-01-19 19:58:23 102840
When you're a mahou...

Your first instinct when finding something wrong with the world is to go fix it. Sometimes, that instinct can get you into trouble, such as when you respond to a feeling in your gut, and fly in... only to spot an active Labyrinth.

Labyrinths are dangerous. They're the active-meltdown reactor of the mahou world. She's told many a newbie to come after her 'When reality gets all scribbly, don't think, RUN.'

And yet... as far as Rashmi can tell, she's the first responder here. And who knows how many people are dying on the inside.

Drawing in a deep breath, she flips open her armored book. "Nico... alert the Virtue network, active Witch, please send all the backup."

*bing!* << COMMAND COMPLETE, MASTER >>

And in Rashmi flies. This is a bad, bad idea, but sometimes the only available idea is a bad one.

"Hello?" she calls, just in case. "Is anyone here?"
Miho Kagami 2019-01-19 20:03:28 102842
It isn't long before Rashmi's call gets a response. A mint-green streak of light zips through the sky as Life Witch Joy approaches. Yep, she feels that sort of ... off-kilter darkness, the kind that she doesn't automatically feel through the Life Blessing.

Witch Energy.

She pauses to see if anyone else is approaching, then just flies in. Time's a-wasting! And yep, there's Rashmi. "Rashmi-chan!" she calls out in her clear and bright voice, as she flies over to her. "... This is a lot less, uh, coherent than the last Witch Labyrinth I was in."
Millie White 2019-01-19 20:09:52 102843
Yesterday's run in with Erato had taught Millie one important detail; she could in fact henshin once again. It wasn't at full power thanks to a damaged linker core, but it was there, and she could fight. That was why the Canuck had resumed patrols. Granted they were smaller scaled patrols, but patrols they were... and it was a good thing too.

The scent from last night returned with a vengeance and Millie's eyes flew wide. Darkness. WITCH Darkness. Millie didn't know much about Labyrinths and Witches in general, but she knew enough to know that Witches were dangerous and needed to be dealt with ASAP. Apparently she wasn't the only one who thought so because suddenly, her Cure Line went off. Rashmi...

In no time flat, Cure Shield rocketed through the entrance to the Labyrinth, skidding to a halt and looking around carefully for the redhead. Rashmi was there, but so was Life Witch Joy... that was good. More backup was always better than none. Cure Shield approached them silently with a polite nod, keeping her eye on their surroundings in case something jumped out at them.
Masu Yogoshi 2019-01-19 20:16:32 102845
There was a strange, wirey feel to the place and while they weren't very... focused yet, they could see the first signs of monsters. Familiars. They could also see the door, to go deeper into the labyrinth. For now, nothing would attack them...

However, once they decided to enter the next room, the city streets would give way to long, metalic holey floors going in all random directions, over a massive furnace. And flying about... Were the creatures seemingly cobbled together of wires and scraps of appliances. A toaster one would be the first to strike, sending... toast at them. While vacuums, shredders, lamps, all descended on them, lancing out with their cables and other things. While the fall would be bad, the chamber was FILLED with all kinds of bridges/platforms with holes all throughout them, going in all random directions, some even vertically, allowing people to have plenty of space to maneuver.
Rashmi Terios 2019-01-19 20:24:47 102847
Bobbing along in the air a couple feet off the ground, Rashmi focuses on the screens blipping into existence above the pages of her open book, as the trio moves from reality to unreality. One of the screens is a bumbling pair of gray tabby kittens. "Nico... Wide-Area Investigation."

*bing!* << WIDE-AREA INVESTIGATION >>

A smallish, revolving circle forms under Rashmi's feet, locks into place, and sends out a horizontal pulse of yellow light in an ever-expanding ring. "We don't know if anyone is trapped in here. If there are, we'll have toOH GOD."

The screens are forgotten, as the Devil's Scrapyard turns hostile. Dodging to and fro in the air over the chamber, Rashmi hunts for a place to take enough of a breather to activate another spell. "Nico! Strike Bless!"

*bing!* << STRIKE BLESS -- BOOST UP >>

This time, the edge of the circle spins out a trio of ribbons sketched in warm light, incomprehensible runes scrawled along their length. Eeling out into the air, the ribbons settle around the right wrists of each of the girls, creating a sensation like the summer sun warking skin, and adding a decent amount of magical oomph to their close attacks.
Miho Kagami 2019-01-19 20:37:37 102850
Life Witch Joy nods to Cure Shield. "Okay, a third is good," she says, nodding to Rashmi as well. "Shield-san, do you need a lift?" In a burst of mint-green light, her long staff materializes in her left hand. "My, uh, my broomstaff isn't that big, but I can probably fit yikes!?"

They suddenly have a lot more to worry about. Straddling the broomstaff, Miho hurriedly descends down to Millie.

She thrusts her hands out at the oncoming attackers; the glowing heart-emblems on the backs of her gloves light up. "Sunny Jade Barrage!" she exclaims, and jade-green pellets of light start firing out at the attackers. Just purification, not Rashmi's power. "... Oh."
Millie White 2019-01-19 20:47:48 102854
Cure Shield had never been inside a Witch's Labyrinth before, and even the warnings didn't do the abstract environment justice. Floating toasters and wires, lamps and other electronics... magic had always been strange, but this was pretty high up there on the list. Nothing was attacking them yet which she found strange, but she wouldn't complain as they advanced deeper into the hellscape.

She had spoken too soon as Rashmi's sudden cry had the Cure immediately raising her shield. Toast, cables, and all other manners of attacks began to lash out at them, but Rashmi was already moving. An unexpected warmth began radiating from her right wrist, and she flashed an appreciative glance in Rashmi's direction as Life Witch Joy descended towards her.

"I'm alright, just keep moving!" The Cure cried as she leaped out of the way of some cables. Without wasting another second, she began to jump from platform to platform, seemingly unbothered by her lack of flight.

"JADESTEEL!" The face of her shield began to glow green and she 'drew' a long sword from it; this time, aided by Rashmi's magic, the blade appeared wreathed in golden flames. Cure Shield got straight to work in striking back, slashing at toasters, fax machines, and anything else that decided it wanted to hurt her friends.
Masu Yogoshi 2019-01-19 21:05:39 102859
The monsters are able to traverse this strange world easily as well, however. Hopping and flying through the air. Three of them leap at Rashmi, going for her... and her book. Trying to tear it and, as she'd soon find if she let them get their hands on her, HER apart. Apaprently they wanted to 'rebuild' her...

And then the shields form, blocking many of the strikes at Millie and Miho! It seemed they weren't very strong, at least. There were just a lot of them, and the longer they were here, the more of them were coming, attacking from the sides, behind, ahead... Even below. One trying to latch onto Joy's ankle and drag her OFF the platform and slam her into another.

Millie's strike, however, cleaves through a number of them, clearing a cap in the wave of electronics, and making them explode into sparkles.

And as the alarm pinged... it showed that there was only one human inside her. Deeper in the labyrinth, the next room...

But more humans were fast approaching from behind, walking towards their deaths.

The next room was a mass of cables, it seemed to go on forever, just bundles of cables wrapped around each others, coiled up... and the creatures rising out from it... And somewhere in here? Was a person.
Rashmi Terios 2019-01-19 21:12:37 102861
*bing!* << SOLAR SHIELD >>

A shell of golden light snaps into existence, flaring bright as the constructs make contact with the shield and kicking them *hard* back the way they came.

More and more are coming, and Nicomachea's screens chime as the first sensor take returns to its position. "Guys we need to make a hole. I'm seeing someone already trapped that way, and there's more about to walk in. Here..."

An aiming ring blinks to life around her shield, orienting itself in the direction of the reading.

*bing!* << RED SHIFT >>

The Barrier glows, then shatters outward in the direction defined by the ring, pure kinetic force boring a brief, wide tunnel through the growing crowds.
Miho Kagami 2019-01-19 21:15:57 102863
Miho lets out a yelp as her ankle gets grabbed! She responds with a sudden barrage of high-speed punches, knocking the familiar off her leg, and immediately starts zipping through the air in evasive maneuvers, her Jade Barrage flying wildly. "Right, then!" She glances over to Cure Shield. "... well, that makes my job easier," she says dryly.

She nods to Rashmi. "Got it!" she says. She boosts forward at high speeds surrounded by a mint-green and jade-green corona, simply slamming through any remaining Familiars in the way as she heads through to the next room.

She looks around, and raises one hand. "Can I sense life?" she murmurs. "I can sense darkness ... but ... this is the Life Blessing ..." She focuses, trying to sense whoever it is. But no dice.
Millie White 2019-01-19 21:31:58 102866
As much as she hated to admit it, Cure Shield missed this feeling. The electronics and appliances exploded into sparkles but the Cure was already moving, leaping away and closer to her allies. Rashmi had found someone in the Labyrinth, but even more humans were on their way? She grit her teeth; this was not good. They had to hurry and deal with the Witch because once more people entered it would make their job that much harder.

"Right!" The green knight affirmed, jumping from platform to platform within the area Rashmi had cleared as the group made their way to the next room. The room in question was a mass of cables as far as the eye could see, with creatures rising out from the coils. Cure Shield frowned and launched herself forward with her sword in hand, slashing at the creatures to distract them and allow her allies time to find whoever the poor soul was who was trapped in here.
Masu Yogoshi 2019-01-19 21:43:24 102868
As they travel through, the creatures, monsters, flow in behind them, racing after them like a tidal wave, fortunately the shields the group had formed and walls they made held long enough for them to get into the next room.

As long as they kept moving, launching occasional attacks, they were able to keep above and make it towards the human and...

And they'd find Masu. She... wasn't as bad off as you mgiht think. Though... she was walking, or more shuffling, towards the next door. The witch's kiss on her neck and... Her hands and arms were covered in scrapes and cuts. She could be heard muttering to herself as the tears flowed down.

"No no no i'm so sorry I didn't no it's not please stop it make it end no no please no more i can't, I can't take it, it's so, please, I'm sorry I'm sorry I'll do better I'm sorry please I won't make anything please please I'll make everything I'll please please..." she pleaded with herself.

Her movements were... Odd. One moment she'd be heading deeper into the labyrinth(where death awaited), and other times... She'd pull back, and grab at the wall, a fixture... Something. Anything. As if to pull herself back, or slow herself down... and then she'd let it go, and start going again. And always, the same soft, pained, adonized sobs came from her, tears flowing down her face as she tried to stop... this... All of this.

Her phone was clipped at her side and... The screen was shattered, as was most of the rest of it, as if she'd repeatedly beat it against the wall.
Rashmi Terios 2019-01-19 22:03:37 102871
Defenses aren't all Rashmi has to work with, thankfully; golden orbs of mana fade into existence and lance out toward incoming creatures as they head toward the signature.

Upon seeing Masu, Rashmi skids to a halt in midair, gasping in dismay... "Oh no..." But it occurs to her that it may be a bad idea to stop moving with all the scrap minions behind them, and she darts forward.

"Hey, hey hey! It's okay! You're going to be okay!"

...Sadly Rashmi has no idea who Masu is, and thus takes the crying girl's hands. For herself, the redhead is projecting no small amount of worry... but also determination, confidence, and reassurance. "We've got you, and we're gonna get you out."
Miho Kagami 2019-01-19 22:19:53 102876
Miho is more-or-less at the vanguard at the moment, still firing Jade Barrage wherever she can.

But then she follows Rashmi's gaze. Miho's eyes widen, and she swoops down to land next to Rashmi, banishing her broomstaff. "Yogoshi-san!" she exclaims. She worriedly reaches for her shoulder, then stops and lowers her hand. "Masu-san!? Are you all r--" What, no, she's obviously not all right. "W-wait, no, Rashmi-chan, touching her is bad because of her --"

And then she gasps. "Ohhhh crap, her empathy! This whole place must be ..." She frowns. "... D-do we get her out of here first, or do we try to find the monster-Witch and take that out instead?" she says urgently. "I, uh ... I've only been in one other Witch Labyrinth, but ..." She groans. "... splitting up sounds like a fantastically horrible idea, actually."
Millie White 2019-01-19 22:25:45 102878
There were so many creatures, The Cure had never seen anything like it. Were all Labyrinths like this? She did her best to keep clearing them out as they came at the trio, but they couldn't keep this up forever. If they didn't find this person soon, they'd have to--

There she was, the person they were looking for. Cure Shield's eyes widened in horror as she realized it was Masu. The Canuck swore under her breath before rushing forward with Rashmi. The redhead didn't stop but she had grabbed Masu's hand while trying to reassure her, which depending on Rashmi's emotions, could be a good or bad thing. Joy recognized the Empath as well and began trying to figure out a plan of action. Masu didn't need anymore people crowding her, so instead, Cure Shield spun towards their flank, where most of their enemies had been following them.

"EMERALD GUARD!" The familiar green barrier exploded from the edges of her shield to create a large barricade of sorts. The bodies of multiple assorted appliances and electronics slammed into the green barrier and bounced off with a crackle of energy. The Cure grit her teeth. "The Witch will just kill the others entering the Labyrinth while we're extracting Masu; we have to take the Witch out!" Even as she said this, she was mentally apologizing profusely to Masu.
Masu Yogoshi 2019-01-19 22:33:14 102881
Masu Yogoshi just glanced at Rashmi, no recognition, no look... But she could feel a small, small amount of worry. Determination, confidence, reassurance... But in the sea of despair that enveloped her, it was might as well have been small candles flickering in the daylight. She didn't notice....

Then a hand grabbed her hand. And finally, FINALLY Masu had SOMETHING other than despair to cling to. And she latched onto it. That worry, that determination, all of it... It was like... small. Tiny. A little life boat in a raging storm.

But it wasn't SINKING. And to Rashmi's possible surprise, the faded, pained look in Masu's eyes faded slightly and she stared at her. "W-what?" she asked. "W-who..." And she felt the waves coming down on her and... And she LUNGED at Rashmi. And held her. Tightly. Her hands up and around her neck, holding her cheek against the other girl's cheek. Her hands gripping her hair and just... Trying to get as much physical contact as possible. She didn't even seem to notice the other two.

"H-help... please..." she pleaded. "I'm so sorry.... I'm so sorry... I never wanted to build... I just wanted to make everyone happy... And I never meant to..." She then shook her head, focusing on Rashmi's emotions. "I can't stop it. I can't block it out. I want to die. I NEED to die and and I can't block it out, I can't s-shield myself... please please please stop it... please make it stop... I can't... I can't... I don't want to die I..." And then... the faded look in her eyes returned. And she... Let Rashmi go... and started trying to walk back towards the next door...

"I'm sorry... I'm so sorry... I never meant to make everyone mad... I'm sorry... Please... I'll just go away forever... Please... please... please don't be mad..."

And her life boat sunk.
Rashmi Terios 2019-01-19 22:43:47 102883
No.

There are things a mahou will not accept. Despair is an enemy to be fought, and lives are never to be allowed to wither away if there's any single thing that can be done to stop it.

No time for questions, Rashmi simply banishes her gloves and takes hold of Masu's arm, trusting her intuition and her friends' mentions of the girl's empathy to do what needs to be done. "Yogoshi-san," she says, her voice gentle and firm, radiating compassion and care. "We have to leave. We can't help you here, we all need to get out. Then we can fight the Witch."

Something flickers behind her eyes, and a thread of worry enters her voice. "...I hope."

Shaking her head, she looks back to the other two. "I do have a plan though. We just need to be out of the Labyrinth to see if it works."
Miho Kagami 2019-01-19 22:56:22 102886
"Right, then," says Miho, marching after Masu, renewed with determination. She nods to Rashmi, pulls off one of her her gloves, and puts a hand on Masu's shoulder. "I trust the heroes in this city," she says firmly. "And I've seen the kind of threats we have to run into. I trust the heroes because if the weren't trustworthy, Tokyo at least would've been wiped out long ago!" She shakes her head. "It's simple logic and all that!" There's just the tiniest bit of worry and uncertainty. But, hey, she doesn't let it drag her down.

She looks over at Rashmi. "So. What's the plan?" She's not letting even a smidgen of uncertainty enter her voice.
Millie White 2019-01-19 23:04:38 102888
The Cure's eyes flickered back to see what Masu was doing, and her heart broke for the poor girl. Her Empathy must make this place even more unbearable than it likely was originally supposed to be. Once again she found herself cursing Masu's powers for seemingly always being against her instead of helping her... The Cure wanted nothing more than to gather Masu into a hug and assure her that everything would be alright, but their current predicament all but made that impossible.

More creatures slammed into the barrier she was holding and the knuckles of her sword hand had turned white due to her grip. Though she would never admit it, Cure Shield was beginning to tire. Her linker core was still damaged and that made her supply of mana more limited. The edges of her barrier began to flicker slightly as Rashmi met her gaze.

"I trust you." The Cure grunted instantly. If Rashmi said she had a plan, it was likely the best shot they had at the moment. Even if they needed to get out of the Labyrinth instead of go for the Witch... Rashmi would NEVER put the other civilians in danger, so Cure Shield would trust her.
Masu Yogoshi 2019-01-19 23:09:50 102889
Masu Yogoshi didn't react as her arm was grabbed. All of the world was despair. That's all there was. "It's better to die... to just go away forever..." she whispered as she tried to pull back from the arm.

Internally, Masu tried to reach out for the boats. A sea of grief tossing her about on its waves. She tried to reach out for help... and another wave crashed her back beneath the surface. Emotionally, she'd already given up. All that despair. That self loathing. All of that loss of hope... it was killing her. But the logical side of her kept saying 'this isn't real. This isn't my feelings, its someone elses.' It was that part that was keeping her still alive. That had stopped her from turning into Tarnished and accidentally killing herself. That side suppressing the dark energy and barely holding it back so she wasn't torn apart.

Joy's hand and... the familiarness of it? Brought Masu out of the waves, for a moment. And she turned to the girl. "M-miho?" she asked, looking... confused. Relieved. "I.... out of here?" she asked, struggling to keep on the life boat, holding on for dear life."Y-yes. Please. I can't... it's so... I can't..." she stopped trying to pull away, staring up at Miho and managing to maintain... control for the moment. A weak control. "H-help me..."

Behind them, they'd hear the sounds of... tearing. The batch of enemies they'd left behind on the way in? Were coming straight at them, a wave of just... destruction... Aiming to block them off...

On top if it... the door to the next room opened, revealing a white light from within. It seemed they wanted out... But the witch didn't want them to go yet.

Meanwhile, Rashmi's sonar would tell her that the other humans were approaching. A few had already entered this room and were making their way towards the witch, while the first two rooms had people in them making their way in as well...
Rashmi Terios 2019-01-19 23:23:29 102894
Pings from her screens almost, almost bring a curse to Rashmi's lips. If she were Stahlritter, she would definitely be saying florid things in another language. With the extra strength given to her by her Barrier Jacket, she manages a single apologetic look before rolling Masu up tight against her. "NEW PLAN!" she cries, as the door opens. "Protect the civilians by taking down the Witch!" Pushing off the floor, she leads the waning trio and their passenger into the heart of the Labyrinth. "Shield-chan, I have a weapon that might do it. We'll need you to cover us. "Joy-chan... Remember the bunker? Yogoshi-chan... pray for us, please."

THIS DOES NOT SOUND LIKE A SOLID PLAN.
Miho Kagami 2019-01-19 23:29:32 102897
Miho whirls around as the familiars approach. "... Welp!" she says. "Ooookay, there's that plan out the window!" She hurriedly puts her glove back on. "Life Blessing, Stand Firm!" Jade-green light with a mint-green tinge exudes from the gems on her gloves, reinforcing Millie's shield.

She looks to Rashmi. "... Right!" she says, grinning. "We haven't done that since I went witchy, huh? Can't wait to see what it'll look like now!" She does, however, look nervously down at Masu. "Just ... hang in there, Yogoshi-san! You'll be all right!" One again, her voice completely exudes confidence, showing no sign of her nervousness.
Millie White 2019-01-19 23:39:46 102898
The terrible sound of the wave they had left behind was getting louder. She was able to keep the few here at bay for now, but if the wave reached them... Cure Shield definitely trusted Rashmi, but did they have enough time for her plan to work? Apparently not. At Rashmi's outburst of there being a new plan, The Cure nodded and shoved the remaining creatures off of her now Joy-enhanced barrier before the barrier went down, and she sprinted after Rashmi and Joy.

Now that she had a chance, Cure Shield gently reached out and took one of Masu's hands as they ran towards the final confrontation. The emotion she was exuding wasn't determination, or love, or even sympathy, even if all of those were a gentle undercurrent. The emotion she most strongly conveyed was tranquility, like the day in the park when they had first met and Millie had meditated. It wasn't much, but it was something that maybe Masu could grab onto and focus on.

"We've got you, Masu-san." The Cure said resolutely before nodding at Rashmi and letting go of Masu's hand with a soft squeeze. "I'll keep you guys safe, just do what you have to do to take it out."
Masu Yogoshi 2019-01-19 23:42:43 102899
Inside the room ,they see the witch... A woman in a big dress. From the dress, long cables with jumper cables were attached and...

Latching onto metal poles throughout the room. Four cables grabbing random metal rods. And whenever they touched them, electricity would form massive WALLS of electrical energy through the wall... The familiars seemed fine, in fact they seemed unaffected going through them. Others? Not so much.

A wall of electricity formed in front of Rashmi, trying to make her run INTO it. As the familiars came from behind!

Worse of all. Masu had lost her grip as she was pulled away. The despair over took her and she didn't resist for a moment. But then she began to struggle in Rashmi's grasp. Attempting to move TOWARDS the witch at the center. "Please... let it end... There's no point... it's all... I never should have existed... if I wasn't so... so greedy it... no... no no..." She shook her head and TRIED to resist but... she could only get it for a second every ten. So close to the witch... There was nothing she could do but try to push on. Shoving and fighting at Rashmi. TRYING to get closer... ever closer to that horrible end... But Rashmi would still feel one arm on her, even when it tried to push her away... She still tried to hold onto her... To not let go... to not let it overwhelm her....

But that side was losing. And then... Cure shield. It tore through, again. An odd familiarity. She turned to Cure shield, stopping her resistance for a moment. And then she looked... Angry? Then confused. Then... Back to the struggling. Closing her eyes and giving a sob. "P-please... don't... don't let me... I can't... s-stop it... it's too strong for me... I can't... I can't stop it... I just... want to die... just let me die..." Her eyes glazed over again. "Please..."

And then electrical walls formed all around them as the familiars descended on them, the electricity moving to block off and isolate themselves from each other.
Rashmi Terios 2019-01-19 23:52:57 102900
Barrier Jackets make a person uncannily strong. Some a lot more, some less, but even the weakest Jacket allows a Device User to hold a single person in a grip that is supremely difficult to break.

And the electric wall springs to life in front of her, and Rashmi puts on the brakes just in time to keep from ramming them both into it. "UP!" Rashmi calls, golden wings fluttering as she shoots up a short distance toward the ceiling of the chamber.

"I'm not letting you go," she whispers into Masu's ear. "Everyone needs help sometimes... Everyone needs someone who won't let them fall."

*bing!* << SEALING MODE >>

As she begins to speak, a complex magical circle sketches into place beneath her, forming a solid platform for her to stand on as her Device glows, and flies apart, reassembling itself into an ornate, armored folio. ... ....With steam vents at the top of either spine?

"This isn't your despair, Yogoshi-chan, and even if it was? We'd never let you fall into it." The Device levitates off Rashmi's hand, pages fluttering as it points the sunburst charm at its center toward the Witch. "Because despair is an enemy to fight, Yogoshi-chan, and every breath we take is a victory against it!" A ring of at least a dozen golden, bright Barrets pop into place above her head, as more circles draw themselves into place in a complex arrangement... that begins to look like the skeleton of some arcane particle accelerator.

"JOY! NOW!"
Miho Kagami 2019-01-20 00:00:14 102901
Miho nods, even as she fires more Jade Barrages back at the Familiars. "The three of us are here to protect you in particular, Masu-chan!" she says. "We've got this! You can count on us!"

She nods to Rashmi, and hurriedly lands next to her. "We're counting on you, Nico-san!" she says.She claps her hands together, then thrusts them at the skeletal cannon. "Life Blessing, Combo Special!" Jade-green light with a mint-green tinge exudes from her hands, filling up the gaps between the circles, simultaneously strengthening the cannon with an extra source of power for Nicomachea to use, and reinforcing the cannon itself.

There's none of the hesitation or worry that she had the first time she did this. Only sheer determination, and the confidence born from experience.
Millie White 2019-01-20 00:11:52 102902
The anger and confusion in Masu's eyes hit Cure Shield like brick. Had... she said something wrong? Figures, it was just like her to make a situation worse, wasn't it? Even so, she didn't have time to think about it. She had to protect them, all of them.

Rashmi rocketed into the air and began to prepare what could only be described as witchcraft science, keeping Masu safe both physically and with reassurance. The walls of electricity, the familiars, there was too much! Emerald Guard would only block from one direction, but there was literally danger everywhere. The Cure swore under her breath and looked from her allies to the witch to the enemies around them. Improvise!

"AEGIS..." The shield in her hand began to glow and thrum with green energy as she stepped behind the duo aiming to attack the Witch. The shield was raised above her head as it began to shake with excess energy, the gemdial spinning rapidly.

"...LOCKDOWN!" A beam of green energy shot into the air to just above where Rashmi and Miho hovered before it exploded from that point outwards, forming a dome around the three of them comprised of the same emerald energy as her usual shields. The electrical walls slammed into the dome but could not go through, and the familiars bounced off it with a crackle of green energy.

"YOU CAN FIRE THROUGH IT!" Cure Shield roared as one hand flew to her ribs. She just had to hold it long enough for the shot to go through... just hold it...!
Rashmi Terios 2019-01-20 00:27:21 102903
The emerald barrier brings a fresh wave of relief, likely felt by the empath in one arm. As Joy's energy flows out to reinforce and empower her construct, Rashmi can only smile. Trust, compassion, and determination... these things are the greatest weapons against despair, and they are weapons the three of them have honed to a razor edge.

"O noonday sun! O star of life! Shine your joy upon us, and burn away the clutching shadows of depair!"

<< SOLAR >> The Barrets take their place at the back of the construct, revolving until they lock down into place.

"Make our hearts bright with your love, warm us against the crawling chill that gathers to swallow us!"

<< JADE >> The mint-green energy glows brightly, as the smaller Barrets feed into another at the center of the ring, so bright it hurts to look at.

"I call upon the star that lights all things to banish the evil before us! Burn, shadow of despair, and never darken our hearts again!"

<< STORM >>

"SHOOOOOOOOOOT!"

The ball of mana bulges, and leaps forward, accelerator rings cascading in sequence to kick the weaponized mana faster, faster and yet faster, purifying power gathered in a similar manner to the heat front of atmospheric reentry, coruscating in the projectile's wake as it streaks toward the Witch in less than the blink of an eye.

The recoil of the spell is astounding, Knocking Rashmi back and nearly off her platform, causing a bobble that translates, at the other end of the beam, to a wide vertical up-and-down cutting motion.
Masu Yogoshi 2019-01-20 00:37:40 102904
Masu Yogoshi was in no state to really object or fight. The other girl told her not to give in, not to surrender, all that good stuff... But what did she know? She didn't know what it was like to feel this despair. This helplessness. To know that nothing you did mattered. That al you were was a screw up. A failure. A--

The witch didn't seem to be much apreciative, or noti ce, of all that was going on. However, as the barrier formed around the cannon, it applied one cable to the location and...Electricity hit the wall. When that didn't do it. Two would be applied. Then three. Then four. All four bursts of electricity CASCADING against that barrier. While familiars descended on Millie and banged, cut and tore at her...

Then BOOM! The blast of magical energy hit the witch dead center and for a moment there was... silence. Then the EXPLOSION of air from the mega blast making them get knocked back as the familiars were sent scattering... And Masu went completely limp in Rashmi's grasp. No restraining, no fighting. Just... limp.

For a long, long moment, there was silence(or perhaps just the ringing of ears) and then...

The labyrinth began to fall apart around them. The kiss on Masu's neck melted away. And the young girl groaned and gave a soft whimper. "Can you... please... just kill me? That would be... far preferable... to this headache..." she groaned. The flat, empty tone of hers was a clear sign that she was, indeed, back. And being sarcastic. But all of her ow...
Rashmi Terios 2019-01-20 00:42:38 102905
Many other girls, upon being greeted with sarcasm, would be upset. All that work, just to be ungratefully snarked at? The nerve.

But Rashmi has come to know many personality types in the mahou community. She can smell emotional armor. And thus, her only response is a gentle, if tired and shaky smile, as the Labyrinth begins to decay, and the pair of them slowly drop to the ground.

"No," she says with a weary chuckle. "But I can drop you off if you have anywhere you need to be? Or if you want to go to the hospital?" Rashmi doesn't look at the cuts and scars. Very obviously does not. But the offer is made, and it is apparently Masu's call where she goes from there.

"Joy-chan? Shield-chan? You okay?"
Miho Kagami 2019-01-20 00:50:27 102906
Miho is about to dart forward to catch Rashmi, but before it's an actual problem ...

... the Labyrinth fades.

She snickers at Masu's comment, floating next to Rashmi. "Okay, you're better," she says flatly. She looks herself over for a moment. "I'm doing pretty darn good myself!"

She hesitates, trying not to wince at Masu's injuries. "Hey, uh, I could heal you, if you wanted ..." Her tone is just a little bit hesitant; she knows that Masu isn't comfortable with the idea of just being 'zapped' with other people's magic, and there's none of the irascible-doctor tone she used on Millie at the ECFH.
Millie White 2019-01-20 00:55:22 102907
The first cable hit the wall and it held. The second hit, and then the third and fourth. The electricity cascaded around the barrier like a crackling aura of death, and it took everything Cure Shield had to keep the barrier from buckling. When the familiars began to slam and tear and claw at the barrier in addition to the electricity, she realized her vision had whited out and she could hear herself screaming as she fought to the last second to keep the barrier up and her allies safe.

The shot went off and blasted through her dome barrier like it wasn't even there, the barrier not diminishing the strength of the shot at all. The shot was almost instantaneous and her barrier lasted long enough to protect the four girls from the ensuing explosion of air, debris, and scattering familiars. Even before the dust began to settle, however, Cure Shield's barrier failed and shattered into green particles that fades quickly.

The Cure's knees hit the ground and her shoulders heaved as she fought to regain her breath. The shield that was limp in her hand was smoking and occasionally crackling with jumps of green energy, but it didn't appear to be damaged. She could hear the voices of Rashmi, Miho, and even Masu through the ringing in her ears, but she would have to get her breath back before she'd be able to respond. Instead, she did her best to simply nod.
Masu Yogoshi 2019-01-20 01:02:20 102908
Masu Yogoshi would, once on the ground, slowly pull back from the other girl and put some space between them. "T-thank you. All of you. I felt like... I... it..." Everything inside her burned. All of her empathic connections were just... they felt like they'd exploded. Her entire body did. And she tried to bring up her shields. To just... Contain it. "I felt... I though..."

But she couldn't. Not after that. Never after something like that. And she moved forward and she just... Hugged Miho. And she broke.

She cried, not because of the despair of another creature. But because of all the pain, all the suffering, EVERYTHING she had just been through. All the hurt. The awfulness. The pain. The fear. It burned into her. "I-I couldn't stop it. It was s-so powerful a-and there was nothing I could d-do. I kept, I kept t-t-t-trying to fight it. I kept t-trying to resist but I couldn't! I-I just wanted to, to keep g-g-going forward a-a-and I knew I'd die but but I WANTED to and I... and I..."

Sometimes, you just need to cry. And hold onto someone. Consequences be danged. Especially now. At least this just gave her one person's emotions to focus on, rather than the waves of others coming from the world around her...