Yamagato Matsuri -- Opening Ceremony


asi_icon.gif brynn_icon.gif cassandra_icon.gif colette_icon.gif dirk_icon.gif emily_icon.gif eve_icon.gif felix_icon.gif lance_icon.gif marlowe_icon.gif monica_icon.gif pippa_icon.gif robyn_icon.gif squeaks_icon.gif zelda_icon.gif

Also Featuring:

ivy_icon.gif val_icon.gif vi_icon.gif

Scene Title Yamagato Matsuri — Opening Ceremony
Synopsis Yamagato Industries kicks off their fall celebration with an outstanding fireworks display.
Date October 22, 2018

Violet neon light phosphorescent through a cloud of steam rising up from a sewer grate. It creates a bloom of color in the narrow, brick walled alley between a bookstore and a Vietnamese restaurant. Two stray cats sit perched on the edge of a dumpster, contentedly grooming as a man’s shadow becomes cast in the neon-lit steam.

“Best behavior tonight,” a young brunette woman says as she steps through the neon gout of steam, a calf-length fur coat swaying from side to side as she walks. With a click of her heel she stops, looking behind herself as an identical brunette woman in a transparent yellow plastic rain jacket steps through, a thick sweater worn beneath.

“I wanted to wear a yukata,” a third nearly identical woman says as she comes through the fog last, in a brown men’s tweed jacket and a rainbow alpaca wool sweater. Her hair is cotton-candy pink, though.

“You can't run in a yukata,” the sibling in the fur coat says, checking a cell phone in her pocket and then flipping the ancient flip phone shut. “Besides,” she looks at the two cats as they hop down off of the dumpster and scamper out of the alleyway onto the street, “we’re not here for the festivities.”

The other two siblings look at each other, make scrunched up faces of frustrated agreement, and then shrug helplessly and fall in line with their other sister. As they step out into the street, they are consumed by the noise and size of the crowd beyond, and disappears as such into it.

Matsuri Grounds

Yamagato Park

October 22nd


A packed crowd of festival-goers of all ages fill neon-lit streets strewn with paper lanterns and traditional Japanese festival decorations. The sun set just under a half an hour ago, and just a block away the lights of brightly-illuminated barges spill between the gaps in decorated buildings. As disgruntled as some naysayers might be about Yamagato's special dispensation to use fireworks when they were banned during 4th celebrations, the excitement of others outweighs it here — especially for families with children.

Most of the crowd is starting to move toward the lower half of Cropsey Avenue where a well-lit stage is constructed for the commencement ceremonies. Throng of Safe Zone residents have gathered together to experience the first real festival since the Safe Zone was founded, the first sense of normalcy in too long a time. Though it's a Japanese celebration, there's little else that says America like an excuse to light off fireworks.

That it's in an open venue means that they can't keep out her service dog — if that were even allowed anyway. Brynn's got Doodlebug's leash wrapped around her wrist, the soft golden labradoodle in his "Working Animal" vest on this, their first outing together. Normally Brynn wouldn't even consider coming to something like this, but … Emily had looked so excited about it, and in that spur of the moment, Brynn volunteered. And then didn't have the heart to back out. So here they are.

The brunette does not like the sheer masses of people around, though — it makes it hard to keep an eye on her own companion and if they're separated, she is pretty sure she will never find the other girl again. So with the leash secured so she can 'talk', the deaf teen signs, Is there a good place to sit to watch the fireworks? This is craziness, all these people. She didn't know this many people actually lived in the Zone.

So, it’s been….more than a decade since the state of any given crowd in New York was his problem. He knows that on the intellectual level, does Felix. The gut, however, is blithely refusing to listen to him in any way shape or form. So while he may be a Wolfhound now, his manner is very much that of a border collie who has way, way too many sheep to keep track of. Nevermind that he has neither authority nor backup nor anything beyond his ability to help him. He’s trying to soothe his instincts by keeping to the fringe of the crowd as much as possible, ghosting along with the slower flow of people.

The whole idea of coming is questionable. Fireworks are pretty, but something of a trial to a case of PTSD that’s still rocking and rolling along, despite the years since the war. But surely this’ll be worth it, a sign of his beloved New York reaching another stage in its regeneration? The brain and the gut continue their argument unabated.

“We’re going to miss it!” That’s Squeaks’ excited voice off to Emily and Brynn’s left, calling out as soon as she can see them. Which means that she’s probably been there since as soon as the Yamagato people started letting the Safe Zone people in. It also means that she’s been waiting forever for the older girls to show up. But it doesn’t mean they’re going to miss anything — unless you ask her directly. “It’s fireworks time!”

She disappears into the crowd for barely a second, on her way to join her friends. Ducking around a family of five and nearly running into an older couple, the teenager beelines for Brynn and Emily. “Let’s go,” she practically sings — and she remembers to talk with her hands also — “let’s go! We’re going to miss it!” She even reaches for each of the older girls’ hands to tug them along. Or she starts to — Brynn’s dog gives her reason to slow down long enough to stare curiously at him.

Then, “Come on! We got to get the best spot!”

Emily's got her own challenge with signing back, all of it still a relatively new experience for her to begin with. She's brought her crutches to help her get around, not trusting a wheelchair in these crowds. It means her hands are mostly occupied, though. She takes a second longer than it should to process the gist of the sign, then scans the crowd. Cheeks puffed out, she starts to slowly shake her head, not having the first idea where the best seating might be.

When her head suddenly turns in the direction of Squeaks' shout to them, her amused smirk indicates she's either seen or heard something to merit it. After all, the younger teen's excitement apparently rivals her own for the event. "It's Squeaks." she faces Brynn to explain.

"Hey— hey, come on now." she stammers as Squeaks attempts to pilot them both out deeper into the crowd. "Do you even know where the best spot is?" Emily doesn't either, but that didn't stop her from posing the question!

Mentally thanking her lucky stars that her foster sister is really good at what she does with animals, Brynn sticks close to Emily until suddenly there's a signing Squeaks right in front of them. Her relief knows no bounds — as a group, they are unstoppable. Or at least safe? She nods to the signed instructions, grinning her amusement at Squeaks' excitement to Emily and remaining close to the girl on crutches. Between the crutches and the dog, they really have no choice but to skirt the edges of the crowd lest they be squished and someone falls in the center of the moving mass of people.

Mouse, don't rush! Em can't move so easy in here. But the younger teen is already off and running, so Brynn merely rolls her eyes and acts as the bulldozer to clear a path for Emily too. She sure hopes no one minds the occasional cold nose at butt level, though Bug is far too well trained to goose everyone.

He doesn’t mind, though it does startle him, the brush of a cold nose over a loose hand. Fel’s dressed lightly, despite the cold of the evening. Canvas army parka, jeans, boots, but no gloves, not now, anyway, no hat. His black-framed glasses on - blame the old injury for his need for them again. Or late middle-age. He gives the dog and its companion an absent, crooked smile, but doesn’t touch the beast further. A service dog, clearly.

“It's okay. If you want to, y’know, sniff his butt and say hello.” That cheerful rejoinder comes from the dark-haired woman walking alongside Felix, cradling a hot coffee in a paper cup between cold hands. Blind eyes flick up to the tall, lean man beside her, and a snorting laugh manages to find its way out. “But seriously, is that a cousin? Or…”

Colette Demsky doesn't usually do crowds. Didn't want to do them with the prospect of being bombarded by loud explosions and flashes of light. But after a long talk with her therapist, and more than one meeting with the vets at the church, she'd decided to make a go of the opening fireworks. Not with Tamara or Tasha, but with someone who implicitly understands her specific trauma. It isn't what they're bonding over, but it helps.

“Aside: I can feel the aurora in my teeth,” Colette notes with a motion of her chin up to the shimmering curtains of vibrant pink and green light hanging over the Safe Zone. “Everything tastes funny.”

“I can find the best spot!” Obviously it’s a challenge now, and one that Squeaks accepts as whole heartedly as urging the two older girls on. She spends half her time, as they navigate the crowd to get to the edges, stopping every three steps to wait for Brynn and Emily. The rest of the time she’s wedged between, because that’s definitely going to make all of the people and them move faster.

The dog, even though he’s given another two or five curious looks, is eventually accepted as just part of the gang.

After another pass forward and back, the youngest of the girls settles in to walk with her friends. Hurrying isn’t going to make things go faster, no matter how much she tries. “This is going to be so primal.” She looks up at Brynn then Emily, basically skipping in place to turn around as she talks. “This big festival thing. And fireworks.”

Being here tonight hadn't originally been part of the plan. Really, setting foot in Yamagato wasn't something Robyn Quinn had considered an option for sometime, given their stance on Class U evolved in the wake of the attack that now seemed like a fading memory in the back of her mind. Certainly, coming to a fireworks festival had seemed like an exercise in futility and madness. What enjoyment could she get out of a night like tonight, unable to appreciate the various colours on display and having to constantly avert her eyes from bright blumes of light that would inevitably start to burn her overly sensitive eyes?

And yet, here she is. With the aurora in the sky - something else she is unable to fully appreciate - she finds herself in need of something to take her mind off the days events, off the vision she had had in her office earlier that day. She had spent many of the hours afterwards puzzling over it with equal parts curiosity and fear. Now she wanted to just not think about it.

Quietly, she slips through the crowd, trying her best to smile. While maybe a tad too formal, she wears a red with floral print kimono she had purchased for the memorial event later in the week - far be it to let her own personal problems prevent her from being whatever form of fashionable the venue may require.

“C’mon, Colette,” Felix retorts, grinning, despite himself. “I’m purebred Borzoi. I’d never condescend.” She’s a talisman to help him deal with the crowds, in turn. And the fireworks, all too reminiscent of some of the arms turned on him and his allies during the war. He will be clutching her hand frantically during the actual pyrotechnics, have no doubt, sweating, teeth grinding, the whole ‘Charlie’s in the trees’ internal horrorshow.

More at ease for her presence, the closest thing he has to family left. “How’s your application to transfer going?” It’s as if he doesn’t dare name the NYPD directly, lest it somehow hear them both. Then she makes that comment about the aurora, and he peers at her narrowly. “……what.”

After a failed attempt to locate and drag Cash out— that was, if Lance was being honest with himself, more for his peace of mind than her socialization after all the public events he’s attended recently that have gone horribly wrong— the teenager’s running late, and unsure where the rest of the motley crew that he runs with has gotten to, especially in these crowds.

He didn’t have anything specifically Japanese to wear, but he did locate an old AKIRA t-shirt that he’s wearing beneath his open hoodie, so that counts, right?

He pushes up onto his toes, craning his neck to look through all these crowds for the Lighthouse… and instead? He finds Wolfhound. A grin curves to his lips as he dodges around a gaggle of chattering girls to head closer, calling, “Hey! Colette! Felix!”

It would have made Brynn laugh, if she could have heard Colette's teasing about Bug's nose and it's placement. Or perhaps she'd have blushed too — after all the man is a stranger, and Colette she only knows by face. But she doesn't hear it, busy enough watching Squeaks run to and fro as if she's been fed huge amounts of sugar to not realize who it is that Doodlebug has brought them nearest.

Primal, huh? It's a good thing they're up in the air. Otherwise no one would be seeing anything. The deaf teen looks up and watches the aurorae overhead for a moment while they stand still — they lived in Canada, so it's not the first time she's seen it, but this far south she didn't think it was a Thing. I wonder how fireworks will look against that. She honestly can't remember the last time she even saw fireworks so she's not entirely sure what the show will look like against nature's own display.

"Oh my god." Emily utters exasperatedly under her breath. Too much going on around here. "Squeaks, just, find an open curb or something, okay?" She sees Brynn's comments out of the corner of her eye, deciding that probably anywhere could be the best spot just as long as they had a clear view of the waterfront. And it'd be tough to mess that up here.

She pauses as she hears a familiar voice, brow furrowed. She hastily lifts her left arm to try and tap the side of Brynn's leg with her crutch to let her know she's lagging behind. "Hey, Lance!" she yells to get his attention, completely oblivious she's just passed the two he's heading toward. "Come on, you're late." This was just as bad, if not worse, than herding cats. On the chance Brynn turns around, she lifts one arm up, crutch hanging from her forearm while she signs just who it is she's looking for.

Colette’s attention is drawn away from Felix when Lance comes over, one brow raised in inquiry that somehow he hasn't managed to get himself arrested, killed, or a combination of both at the same time. Colette zips up the front of her leather jacket with one hand, sipping her coffee with another. “Hey Kiddo,” she greets with a nod, then looks back to Felix.

“It's not official yet. I mean, they want me to do six months in the academy beforehand. That should line up with when the city’s planning on reinstating everything.” Colette tilts her head to the side, eyeing the aurora. “Won't be until June or July when there's a full rollout, so until then it's just business as usual. Honestly? I'm amazed I wasn't flat-out rejected.”

Drawing in a deep breath, Colette side-eyes Lance in what is an entirely vestigial and wholly pointed look after someone in the crowd shouts after him. “Sounds like somebody's got a lady in waiting,” would be an even bigger deal and joke if she knew who it was that was shouting.

When her sister brings up the light show already happening in the sky, Squeaks tilts her head back and looks up. “Woah.” What is that? She turns all the way around again, watching the lights dancing overhead. “Look! Look, look! What’s happening in the sky!” And she almost misses Emily’s suggestion. Those swirling colors above are fascinating. But she pulls her attention away from them to navigate to …somewhere.

She’s sometimes good at finding places, little island places where the crowds don’t jostle. But with all the people in the park that might be harder. The younger teenager points toward an opening. “There,” she calls out, turning Brynn and Emily to wander nearer to Felix and Colette and Lance. Because there’s open space on the other side of them.

Among the crowd a pale figure can be seen making its way through, muttering softly to herself the woman stops near the concrete wall of a nearby building and looks up, doe eyes taking in the lights above her, mouth gaping open slightly Eve Mas looks like she might laugh, a snicker emits from her softly instead and she leans a white hand on the side of the building taking a moment to watch with a curious glint to her eyes, those eyes are haunted. The soft material of her dress doesn't do much against the elements but a black shawl over her shoulders keeps her from outright freezing.

Red from the hem up, the blood color fading up to black all the way to the neck of the dress a mix of strings and lace imitating a spider’s web, if it were her heart would be trapped right in the middle of that web, something she felt now. Trapped in the web of the strands of happenings.

A clink of her metal staff as the seer leans on it and begins to walk forward more under the lights of the Omen as she had come to finding it. Bumping a shoulder, the one loose curled tendril of midnight black hair bounces while the rest is pinned back with two metal sticks stuck through. “Sorry sorry..” Eve whispers absently to the man, eyes flicking up to the aurora as she continues to move towards the stage. A quick look down to her phone, Monica was supposed to be meeting her. The older woman had promised to be a hard three on the Eve Scale.

Dressing up in a Kimono was a thing, apparently, that was expected of Cassandra. When the planner of the entire Matsuri invites you out on a date to the Matsuri she planned, you need to look your best. A good amount of time was spent at a shop in Yamagato's territory, being fussed over by a little Japanese woman who knew three words of English - Yes, no, and apparently one other that she apparently didn't qualify to hear while being fitted for what was 'Fuyu no Kimono,' or a winter kimono. "Couldn't I just wear a fancy dress?" Cassandra protested while she was being fitted for the nagajuban. The little Japanese woman simply said 'no.' and continued.

Still, as a manner of protest, before dressing this evening with Zelda's help, she maintained a little looseness, allowing her to take full steps instead of the smaller, proper steps required when wearing a kimono. Also, peeking out from beneath the hem are a pair of comfortable boots - not the little socks and sandals that were part of the outfit. Wooden sandals in a New York fall aren't a thing to do, in her opinion.

"There are so many people…" she says to herself, standing in an out of the way alcove next to one of the stalls selling yakitori, the clouds of good-scented smoke already attracting a line of hungry passerby. She clutches her small purse close, a thin loop of leather around her wrist to keep it close, packed full of the things that she might need and things that she hopefully won't need, moving out into the sea of people toward the viewing platform where the fireworks will be displayed later.

The aurora overhead catches her attention, a pang of worry coming through. Richard mentioned that in the meeting - a sign of people crossing over or going back - and that might mean that more interesting people are about to make an appearance.

It's not too hard for Robyn to hear Lance call out Colette's name, bringing a bit of hesitation as she continues to wander aimlessly. Scanning the crowd around her until her eyes land on the two of them - and more - she considers for a moment. Only a moment, though, before she begins to make her way over.

"Hello," is offered simply as she reaches the group, sliding up behind and to the side of Lance. "Surprised to see any of you out here," she remarks, looking mostly to Colette and Felix - she doesn't share the same brand of aversion to loud cracks of sound and bright flashes of light but she understands enough to raise an eyebrow in concern. "Did you both lose a bet or something?" And there's a small smile, the first of the day.

Zelda herself is also adorned in a kimono, a black background with white and blue flowers etched into the outer robes of the Furisode kimono; she took no liberties, doing her best to honor the traditional dress of Japan. After all, having gone through all of the trouble of organizing this whole thing, the woman isn’t about to skimp on her outfit. Unlike her date, she does wear the standard Tabi and Zori shoes, and she carries with her a bag that matches the fabric of her kimono, but in a smaller design.

As she slips into the alcove to join Cassandra, carrying two taiyaki wrapped in paper. One is offered to her date; the other has a tentative bite taken out of it. “I still can’t believe I managed to pull this off in a month and a half,” she murmurs to the other woman as they slip into the crowds, a look of wonder on her features as she takes it all in.

She has noticed the aurora overhead, as well — but she’s trying very hard not to think too much about it. This festival is the culmination of a lot of stress, and Zelda is doing her very best to enjoy herself for now.

“Hey, Robyn,” Lance adds brightly at the arrival of the agent, “Good to see you all, man, there’s a lot of people here— “ Then there’s that call of his name, and he turns a bit, pushing up to his toes to look over the crowd. Spotting the girls coming their way, he rolls his eyes. “That’s just Emily,” he chuckles to Colette’s suggestion, moving to step off through the crowd to meet them half-way.

“Sorry I’m late,” he offers once he’s closer to Emily, Squeaks, and Brynn, “I was trying to find Cash to drag her out and be social, but I couldn’t find her in time.”

Hearing his name called has Felix looking around, and lifting his free hand in greeting to Lance. “Hey,” he says, amiably. Nevermind that his other hand has more or less seized Colette’s, less out of affection than a child’s frightened clutch of his mother’s. Explosions are still way, way too much of a spur for adrenaline, now.

“Rejected? You kidding? They’re gonna be desperate enough to be begging for recruits. Life in the NYPD….it’ll be some Wild West bullshit for the foreseeable future. It won’t be like what you used to see with me and Judah and Lee and Liz.” He worries his lip. “In fact, if I were less of an ass, I’d probably try to steer you clear of it. But I’m not, and I won’t, so.” A shrug of shoulders under the canvas of the parka. “Hell, I should probably go kowtow to Donovan, see if he’ll let me come help. I wonder how many former officers he’ll have trying to get back in.” Probably not enough to make Donovan inclined to reject his errant cowboy trying to get back into the fold.

The dog attached to Brynn's wrist is minding his manners, generally speaking. Clearly Hailey-trained (or at least trained to the nth degree in terms of Service Dog). And there's so much going on that Brynn is grateful to the TinyMob comprised of Da Girlz because otherwise she might be too gawky and be running into people. Or she wouldn't have come. Her attention successfully guided in particular directions by both Emily and Squeaks, though, she's managing to at least mostly follow along. There's a hint of relief when her brother appears in the crowd as well, because she just doesn't care for crowds. That sucks, she replies to the info on Cash, but now that her attention has been fully brought to Colette and Felix as well, she waves shyly. Colette she knows by sight, but the man… he looks like he feels about as out of place here as she does. Mouse is looking for the best view of the fireworks — maybe we should all find a spot and just park somewhere so we're not getting run over?

There isn't a kimono in the world that would do this shape any justice. No color scheme that would create an hourglass from the straight edges that create this figure.

Dirk knows, because he's tried on a few.

"Alright Pimple," he announces as he leads his tiny little 'date' through the street. Both of them are carrying fistfulls of sparklers, hers lit, his not. Every time one of hers runs out, it's quickly replaced with a new one. Can't have too much fun at a fireworks show. "Did I ever tell you about the time I spent in China? They have things like this there too, not with kimonos. When I was there, they had this giant red dragon that danced through the street, can you believe that?!"

“Hey,” Colette puts the topic of the NYPD aside for a moment to clap a hand on Robyn’s shoulder. Immediately Colette shivers momentarily and transfers a jaw-tingling sensation into Robyn’s molars. “Okay I don't even know what the fuck just happened there, but can you feel like… your teeth trying to get out of your skull?”

Colette’s brows kick up, chin-tilting toward the aurora. “I've only ever felt this in Alaska and I was so drugged I barely remember it. I literally have felt like my teeth are bees for an hour now.”

But she does afford a quick look to Felix. “If Hana doesn't strike you dead with a glare for entering civilian law enforcement, it might not be a bad idea. The west could use its cowboy.”

“Lance!” Squeaks almost extends her circling to include him — since she can’t easily drag Brynn or Emily around like she wants — but even that stops short. The grown-ups he’s tagging after are eyeballed, even though she recognizes two of them. Colette’s a stranger, so she’s looked at with the same curiosity she’d given Bug. It only lasts a second, and she picks up as if she never paused.

“Lance. You’re going to make us miss the fireworks.” She’s serious this time. Because they might miss the fireworks if they spend all their time wandering and not just grabbing a spot to stand and watch.

"How're we doing tonight?" A conversational, female voice echoes, cutting through the din of conversation. It sounds at first as though it's coming from everywhere, but keen eyes could sight inconspicuously stationed speakers at intervals around the plaza and lawn. Lights on a platform on the edge of the event seating suddenly ignite, illuminating a singular figure on its stage. The slender, ostentatious being is wearing a gold-studded black leather jacket over a broad, patterned obi that holds up the lower half of an autumnleaf-embroidered kimono. A bright, horned black and red kabuto adorns their head with decorative feathers shooting out from the helm. Their face is concealed by an expressive blue mask with a broad, canine-showcasing grin.

"Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of Yamagato Industries, I am obligated to thank you for joining us this evening. Please note that the lights in the area will soon be dimmed to let you better see the show, so please be aware of your surroundings. It's an honor to be able to host this event for you, and I sincerely hope you will enjoy."

The figure squares their posture to offer a formal bow… but upon standing, claps their hands and makes a more casual, open gesture to the audience.

"Now that that's out of the way… I said, how are we doing tonight New York City?" They gesture with their black-gloved hands energetically to encourage those gathered to show their enthusiasm.

"Are we ready for the show?"

Within the crowd comes an enthusiastic squeal of delight. Yes, Pippa Varlane is ready for the show. Dressed in the tiniest yukata, a vibrant shade of magenta with ivory flowers here and there, the little blonde bounces in place, practically bursting with excitement. She’s never seen real fireworks before.

“Is there gonna be a dragon here too?” the little girl asks her ‘date’ with wide eyes. Pippa leans one way, then the other, trying to see through the crowd better. Her sparkler fizzles away merrily in one small fist.

Glancing down to his side, Dirk gives a frown. This will not do. Carefully taking Pippa's free hand, he shouts at the people ahead of them as he drags her through to the front of the crowd. "OH MY GOD!! EXCUSE US!! QUICK!! SHE'S GOING TO THROW UP!!" Everyone here is dressed in such fancy silk clothes, the assistant can't imagine that any of them would stop to think before jumping out of the way.

Soon, they're at the front of the crowd and he looks over his shoulder with a brilliant smile, "Crisis averted~ Thank you~"

"That's just Emily," the selfsame Emily shoots back in Lance's general direction, making mockery of his choice of language. She'd swat him if they were closer. "Don't make plans with people and not show up on time, Lance." she scolds, though not too seriously, as she turns away from it to pay attention to the announcement as it rings out. Oh shit. She looks to Squeaks, then to the stage, then back to the teen. There's a split second you can almost see the gears turning.

"Squeaks! You know what? This looks like a great spot right here." Don't lie through your teeth, Emily. "Maybe not the best, but still really good. Let's stay here." There's only a 50/50 chance she could be shot down, right?

Even as she says it, she's scooting back in Lance's direction, finally giving Colette and Felix and Robyn a glance. She's not really overheard the conversation up until now, but she's skeptical of them regardless. She shrugs back at Brynn and firmly signs here before starting to work on getting seated on the curb.

Brynn's hands are immediately over to helping Emily sit down — there's too much happening around them. Her gray eyes flit over the people she doesn't know as well and she shrugs slightly, as if indicating that she's not going to be pushing Emily somewhere else. She makes a single gesture and the golden labradoodle parks his butt right at her feet, protecting her flank and Em's back. I think really anywhere is going to work fine. They're way high up, so it's not like we have to be right at the stage. Which is uncomfortable for her anyway — the fact that she can't hear the noise coming from the speakers doesn't mean that she can't feel it in her chest, and the closer to the large speakers they are, the more she feels it. She hopes it's okay with Lance and Squeaks.

The voice that comes over the speakers is just loud enough to cause Squeaks’ hands to press against her ears. They stay that way as she continues to look for a spot that will work for fireworks watching, and so Emily’s suggestion goes unnoticed until she’s parking herself on the curb. After watching the older girls stake out their place to watch the display, the youngest teen blows out a breath. She’d rather be closer, or up higher but that’s probably impossible. A bunch of steps take her one way and then the other, pacing behind the TinyMob, then she drops into criss-crossed seat to Brynn’s other side.

Brown eyes scan the skies more as she continues to walk into people and stands, stopping short at a stall with an assortment of masks, “Oh oh yes. How about..” Reaching over she plucks six out of the bunch and grins as she waves money and a can of chilli picked out from her messenger bag, “The chili’s on the house. The masks for me and some friends.” A casual grin thrown the way of the merchant but Eve hurriedly shoves all of them into her bag and winks over at the older woman. “You never saw me hmmm?” A click of her tongue and she's hurrying off head still up in the clouds.

Once the rep from Yamagato welcomes them Eve claps and whistles her agreement that this is a time for celebration and shows. “AWWWWWW YEAAAAAA!!!” In reply to the calls for enthusiastic behavior. Her haunted mood lifted by the energy in the crowd around her. Fireworks. “BABYYYY YOU’RE A FIREWORK!!”


“Hey.” Cassandra takes the second yakitori - the one without the bite - and gestures to the surrounding crowd. “You did amazing. Not everyone could have pulled this off. I don't hear screaming or complaints. I just hear happy people. And the sky has decided to put on its own show, too.” She smiles and taps Zelda on the nose. “C’mon, lets get a spot for the fireworks. I've not seen anything like those since before the war.”

She's not above using connections to get a seat on the viewing platform.

Out among the crowd, Monica Dawson makes her way through the attendees at a casual pace. Tonight she's here acting as official-unofficial extra security. In that she told Eizen she would be on hand in case of shenanigans or a repeat of the last party they had on Yamagato soil.

She wears a yukata, white with black markings swirling around it as if being blown by the wind, but under it is something easier to chase bad guys in. Most of her arm is hidden under the wide sleeve, except her hand which is extra shiny for the occasion (Marlowe insisted).

Eve, where are you?

The message pings through on Eve's phone. Then a few moments later…

nvm I will just follow the shouting.

“You’re worse than Brynn,” Lance rolls his eyes again, expressively, as he meets up with the other teenagers with a grin all the same despite the scolding— shaking his head, “Sorry, I had to try. Cash spends too much time playing garden gargoyle.” His hands move casually before himself, signing his words so Brynn can read them while she can.

“Lotta people here I know, to— oh.” The voice is speaking, and he looks up, pushing up onto his toes to peer up towards the front.

A short, pink-haired woman in a brown tweed jacket and a rainbow-dyed alpaca wool sweater bumps square into Lance. Equal pink color flushes her cheeks and she offers a silently-mouthed apology of an over-enunciated I'm sorry, followed by a brush of her teeth over her bottom lip and a raise of her brows before someone’s hand yanks her by the elbow into the crowd again. Lance can just make out her pink hair slipping between people before the three disappear into the crowd.

At Colette's part, Robyn reaches up and rubs her chin. "I do now," she remarks with a bit of a confused tone, before looking up at the sky. Teeth grind for a moment as she waits for the feeling o pass. "How odd…" Her head tilts slightly as she considers something. "Did you… do that, Colette?" She looks quizzically at the other woman as her hand falls back to her side. "Because I've never felt that before, no."

After a moment, her lips thin. "I don't like it," she offers somewhat facetiously.

A quick glance back over to Colette, and then she motions up to the aurora. "What does it look like, anyway?" she asks with a sad sense of curiosity. "It must be beautiful." Fingers reflexively curl in and then back out as she watches the not-so-Northern-lights.

But with that question out of the way, she musters a small smile."Civilian law enforcement?" She quirks an eyebrow, grinning. "Very nice."

The figure on stage begins applauding the audience's more energetic second reply. "Ready, then! All right, here we go!"

They lift one foot high, and stomp. Another stomp. Lights begin to turn down section by section.

Stomp stomp clap.
Stomp stomp clap.
Stomp stomp clap.

The lights around the entire block have all gone black.

Buddy you're a boy make a big noise

Playin' in the street gonna be a big man some day

You got mud on your face, ya big disgrace

Kickin' your can all over the place


With each word in the battle-cry that comes, multicolored blooms of light explode high in the night sky. Blues and golds and white shine in the night in a gradient.

We will, we will rock you!

The next wave are purple, orange, and green in contrast. We will, we will rock you!

Gaze turning skyward as the lights start to dim, Brynn remains standing behind Emily with Squeaks on one side and Doodlebug on the other. She slants Lance a faint frown when the pink-haired girl bumps him — it's a little reminiscent of pickpockets in the Marketplace… but it could also just be that there are so darn many people around. Her hair matched yours, almost… only yours sparkled. She points out to her brother. But if you just got your pocket picked, I am never letting you live it down. Brian taught them better situational awareness than that. She's thoroughly amused by the possibility. Her eyes turn back to the stage, and as the deep thumping booms sound in their pattern, she pulls in a quick breath of surprise. She's never been in a place with this many people and this much volume, where she can feel the beat in her whole body quite like this. And the fireworks against the aurorae in the sky are… absolutely stunning.

As the lights go out, Squeaks’ head swivels left and right and she tries to look all around and everywhere at once. Her hands stay pressed to either side of her head, muffling the sounds but not totally blocking them out, so when the first explosions sound her attention whips that way. Her head tilts way, way back, and she nearly lays on the sidewalk to watch the colors light up the sky. Wide-eyed wonder and fascination meets the bold and brilliant colors against the softer pastel movements of the aurora. “Woah.”

Felix get this bizarre, inward-turned look for just a moment. Even odds no one else here has ever seen a Russian former cop consult his Soviet dentistry before. Because there’s a molar in the back that’s still got its little burden of steel, courtesy of a Moscow dentist in the days before perestroika. No signal. No nothing. He shakes his head for a moment, then he’s turning his face up to the lights.

His expression….isn’t anything. Neither the flinchy unease of a PTSDed veteran nor a childlike joy. He’s weirdly neutral, considering. Still gripping Colette’s hand tightly, like she might be drawn away from him in the whirl of the crowd. Then it bleeds into something like intensity, like he’s trying to divine something in the flowers of fire blooming over their heads.

Streams of white-gold shimmer into the air to compliment the bold chrysanthemums greeting the stars as the song plays on. The figure on the stage continues to stomp and clap.

// We will we will rock you//

// Sing it!//

Screaming silvery streaks shout along with each beat of:

We will, we will rock you!

It is with a playful grin that Zelda takes Cassandra’s hand, leading her up to the stage, and promptly taking the honored spot of spent a month and a half organizing this festival off to one side of the stage — just in time to catch the show. “I couldn’t tell you the last time I saw fireworks. On the other side of the pond, they aren’t very celebratory.”

She takes a moment to take in the crowds, the food stalls, the lights, and especially the fireworks — Asi took charge of the actual fireworks show, but Zelda had to fight tooth and nail to even get them to happen — not to mention a liberal show of Yamagato’s finances. “I can’t believe I managed to do this.”

Zelda is proud — though that pride is certainly tempered by a terror that everything will suddenly go horribly wrong and her life will be ruined forever. She offsets this fear by mentioning to Cassandra, “The aurora really makes Asi’s fireworks shine.”

Marlowe's form blends in with the festivities and colors of all sorts. A stylized white rabbit carrying a mochi pounding hammer encircled by the full moon displays as the mon on her back, while beneath it the mountain and reflection logo of Yamagato Industries fills out the bottom half of the happi coat that she and a number of festival workers wear. The engineering teams have decked themselves out in matching outfits, traveling in groups or running behind-the-scenes festival tech and ops. Marlowe adjusts her black-and-white headband a bit, pulling out her phone from a discreet pocket within the coat and checking the screen.

She makes her way through the crowd, following a pulsing dot of the mapped zone that brings her closer and closer to… "Moni!" With a bright smile and eager pace, she slips around fireworks watching folks to get to the bearer of the shining (you're welcome) cybernetic arm. And coworker. Once she's caught up, Marlowe seems to finally breathe out a short sigh. Or remember to really breathe at all. "This is really something, isn't it?" she comments with a glance skyward, not only for the fireworks, but for the natural light show above as well.

Hearing her name, Monica turns toward Marlowe to watch her snake her way through the crowd. She doesn’t laugh, but there is a smirk there. Once her friend gets to her, Monica gives her a warm hug.

She hasn’t been watching the show, but rather, the people gathered while they watch. So when Marlowe brings it up, it’s the first real look that she gives the actual show. “Your team did a hell of a thing,” she says, because they are always elbow deep in the effects for these gatherings, “how drunk are they already?” That part is a tease.


The pale skinned woman shakes and throws her hands in the air and sways to the cheering and song before she's spotting her friend she's here to meet along with a new face.

“Monimoni.” Eve slides right into Marlowe and Monica’s conversation, pressing against Monica's back as she looks up nervously at the dancing lights, “It's not right, not right, look at the colors.” Muttering she fidgets with her fingers before turning her eyes over to Marlowe, “Oh hello dear one, I'm Eve.” Sticking her hand out to shake the engineers and the precog leans forward. “I'll give you this one for free, watch out for those lights okay?”

In the middle of the crowd, Colette firmly squeezes Felix’s hand reassuringly. Though her eyes don't move in his direction, she nonetheless sees him and keeps an eye on him while focusing her conversational energy on Robyn.

“I can't do lights that high or that big,” Colette says with a shake of her head. “Not like an aurora. You can feel it too. It's the uh, the photons? The buzzing is literally electricity, they're charged. That's solar radiation. Sometimes I can feel it in sunlight on a really high UV day.” Her dark brows furrow, head tipping up to face the aurora, “I've never seen anything like this so far south though…”

But her wonderment over the aurora fades when she remembers their more immediate conversation. “Oh uh, yeah it's… it's not official yet but I put in for placement with NYPD-SCOUT. I'll still be working for Wolfhound through the end of the year and on reserve while I'm in the academy, but… I need to try this.”

Then, awkwardly. “Nobody But Felix, Hana, and Avi know yet. So, try not to tell anyone. Lucille and Berlin’r probably going to try and kill me.”

As the guitar starts to play the outro, the figure up on stage twirls in place once and rocks along with the beat, very clearly 'playing' along with an air guitar. They stomp along with the beat until the very end, before their attention turns inland, still looking high.

Streams of glittering fire spew from a nearby roof, shimmering back and forth almost erratically. Gold and white dance as though being tossed around by the breeze. A poppy voice thoughtfully pines for attention, lyrics echoing between the buildings of Yamagato Park.

Do you ever feel

Like a plastic bag?

Drifting through the wind

Wanting to start again?

“S’alright, happens,” Lance calls after the pink-haired girl, checking his pocket to make sure his wallet and phone are still there— smirking a bit at Brynn’s comments. She’ll never let him live that down. “She was cute,” he notes, and then the performance is beginning!

Oh, hey, it’s American rock and roll! Lance knows this one— a broad grin curving his lips as he stomps his foot and claps his hands, his voice raising as he sings along with that first part, his gaze up to the skies and eyes reflecting the shine of the fireworks above. He looks back towards his friends, his chosen family, and pauses when he notices Squeaks’ reaction to all the clamour, hands over her ears and all.

He drops down to a crouch beside her, and suddenly — the noise of the crowds is just gone for the two of them, a small bubble of quiet in which only the sounds that he and Squeaks make can be heard by each other. “Probably a bit much for you, huh,” he offers with a grin, reaching out to nudge her shoulder with two fingertips before looking up at the sky, “Pretty, though.”

Emily's been awestruck into silence staring up at the fireworks, a slow grin creeping over her until she's positively beaming up at the show. Between the songs she looks down at the labradoodle to see how he's doing — and he's a champ, completely nonplussed at all the noise. Turning over her shoulder quickly to look back at Squeaks and Lance, she grins at them both. "This is amazing, isn't it?" she asks, oblivious that they're in their own world.

Her happy expression falters as she hears overhears more than she would have hoped to one of the people Lance had been talking to earlier. Her attention swings hastily forward again before she can focus in on it, paying that much more attention to the show now. Emily leans her shoulder into Brynn's by her side before she points out the fireworks shooting from the new area, her smile a little less sincere than it was before.

A second passes before Squeaks’ hands come away from her ears, like maybe she’s expecting the full force of booms and loudspeaker to return suddenly. Or she’s surprised by the sudden muffling of it. “It’s really loud,” she agrees, tilting her head to look up at Lance. But it hasn’t squished any of her excitement for the fireworks show. It’s even better now.

Pulling her legs under her, so she can sit on her knees, she grins at Lance. The new flare of golds and whites, brighter still against the dark sky, draws her attention back up to the sky. “Look look!” She points at the glittery-shimmeries in the sky, eyes wide and bright with amazement. “This is primal. Look at the sky! The colors all swirling up there and then fireworks!” Her hands clench a little then fingers splay as she pushes her hands overhead in show of how the fireworks explode.

As the song bridges toward the chorus, blooms of single-color fireworks begin to go off in rapid, quiet succession. By the time the songstress bellows 'Baby you're a firework!' the sky is alight with much larger, multi-colored explosions that grow in intensity and number.

You're gonna make them go

BOOM, BOOM, BOOM go an obnoxiously loud trio of shells

As you shoot across the

The next lines are drowned out across the square by the crackling brilliance of several smaller shells exploding around the visual edge of a shimmering diadem that lights up the faces of the crowd below it.

Before Marlowe and Monica can say much to reply to Eve, the seer is screaming: “//BABY YOU’RE A FIREWORKKKKKKKK!!! COME AND LET YOUR COLORSSSS BURST!!” Stomping her booted foot hard on the ground. She looks insane.

Cassandra has managed to make it to a spot where the sky is relatively unobscured, the fireworks dancing overhead, intermixed with the shimmering of the aurora in the high atmosphere. Her yakitori has been eaten and she simply stands in awe of the show going on right before her eyes. Occasional 'ooohs' and 'aaaahs' can be heard from the crowd after a particularly bright burst, a few people shuffling toward cover as their tolerance for loud noises starts to reach its limit. How Zelda managed to get the city to allow fireworks must have taken every bit of her charm and patience. That, as well as the 300 pound gorilla of Yamagato owning a giant chunk of the city and able to make its own rules behind their walls.

"I haven't seen fireworks since before the war, in New Orleans, during Mardi Gras." she says as an aside to Zelda, if she's listening. This is followed by a shake of her head and a smile. "This is a wonderful memory you've made for everyone."

Brynn accepts the leaning of Emily on her side and she grins down at the other girl. For all that the group of them have lived through, this is a sight none will soon forget. Affectionate eyes catch Squeaks pulling her hands off her ears, and she can't help but smile, knowing what her brother is up to over there. She was cute, she agrees about the pink-haired girl. That he noticed actually makes her grin — he doesn't often comment. She turns her attention back to the sky, keeping one eye on her TinyMob for signs coming her way. If they're talking to her, she has to know it. One hand drops to the labradoodle's head while he sits there so calmly. For herself, though she can't hear the loud bangs she can feel the crowd's excitement and energy, can feel the bass thumping through the loudspeakers and the people. It's a high-energy time, and she's not immune. The awe and wonder that Squeaks is feeling, Brynn's feeling too, just in a quieter, more low-key way.

Ribbons of sparkling light begin to rocket diagonally across the sky…

If you only knew what the future holds

After a hurricane comes a rainbow

… and in their wake leave willowing technicolor trails that glimmer and linger.

Robyn doesn't watch the fireworks directly, though she does appreciate the musical accompaniment. When she does look up at them, it's with her eyes partially shielded - even with her contacts, plumes of light that strong can still sting, and she wants to avoid that headache for as long as she can.

It does look pretty magnificent against the aurora though.

A low chuckle is her response to Colette. "I didn't think you did the aurora," she offers with genuine amusement. "Though I wouldn't have been surprised." Her jaw slides side to side again, still trying to shake that feeling. "Your secret is safe with me, Colette. Good on you, though. I hope that goes through - no offense to Wolfhound." She means that, too, reaching over to pat the other photokinetic on the back.

"Might be making some changes myself end of the year. We'll see." As more fireworks go boom, she is slightly drowned out, but she continues on anyway. "Taking a month off from liaisoning to do some work on some leads. Going to see how I feel afterwards, but it might be time to retire soon." A thought that's been on her mind ever since her vision earlier today.

With that, she glances over at Felix, and a more familiar and older sort of grin forms on her face. "It's that or end up the next old dog out there," she ribs playfully.

With Pippa at the front of the festivities, Dirk relaxes just a little. She can see. She's sparkly. She's full of caffeine and candy. Life is good. The music is a little loud, but what's a bit of hearing loss between friends. Nicole will just have to thank him later for the shouting her daughter will be doing for the next few days.

He might just take a sudden vacation.

"Hey Pimple! Look up there!" The light from the fireworks does nothing for his complexion but it does wonders for his hair. Try as they might, the bursts of color won't be able to penetrate his thick waves of gold and grey to show scalp.

Although he can't hear, Lance does see the grin from Emily, flashing her one right back in agreement— he can guess what she's saying. The joy of the younger girl with them's infectious, and he drops down to sit on the curb there as well, leaning back on a hand and watching the skies as lights and colors flash through the sky.

"It really is," he agrees, "Primal as hell. This is legit… I haven't seen fireworks like this in— " He pauses, "Ever."

Overlapping gold and white peonies shine in the approximation of a circle.

Boom, boom, boom

Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon

Silvery sparkling crysanthemums join the other circular fireworks, filling out the circle shape. Behind the growing bloom of white light, the aurora colors shift slowly against the sky.

It's always been inside of you, you, you

And now it's time to let it through

A bright ring of white-gold explodes out the entire circumference of the hovering moon, letting out a noisy crackle before it twinkles away.

“I can’t take any credit for the fireworks themselves,” Zelda replies over to Cassandra, though her eyes are on the brilliant display above. She reaches out, quietly but smoothly taking the other woman’s hand and giving it a small squeeze. “But I’m glad that I managed to get the city to acquiesce on this one thing.” She chuckles softly, turning briefly to smile at Cassandra. “And I’m glad you’re here watching it with me.”

Then, she turns those large brown eyes back up to the skies, a wide smile planted on her features. The taiyaki isn’t forgotten — she takes a small nibble of a bite on it, making a note to herself to take Asi out for a fancy dinner as a thank you for her hard work on this.

"Nice to meet you, I'm Marlowe," laughs the engineer. Shaking hands is a quick affair, and she releases Eve's hand and looks up towards the lights she's been forewarned about, but she obviously doesn't seem to mind them as any sort of danger. It is wild to watch the fireworks going off against the shimmering aurora. The only thing flashier is Eve, whose antics pull Marlowe's attention back to earth. The seer's enthusiasm gets her own blood going, and where there are the trio of booms, she shouts out "TA-MA-YA!" and on the moons, "KA-GI-YA!" And a chorus of laughter issues forth from the woman before she settles back down and lets out an exhilarated breath.

“Never ever.” Squeaks’ voice is quiet, but the awe and wonder is unmistakable. This is definitely something she’s never seen either. She makes a tiny ‘Oh’ with her mouth when the fireworks outline the moon, and she shoots a quick peek at her siblings and Emily to make sure they’re not missing anything. As those glittery things sparkles out, she places a quick finger on Lance, then Brynn, and even Emily, each in turn, then returns her attention to the sky.

He’s mostly rapt in contemplation of the fireworks. When was the last time he watched something like that that was really only a display meant to entertain? Lost in that faulty memory. Listening with half an ear to the conversation at his side. Though Robyn’s comment about being an old dog has him looking down long enough to give her a wry, level look. I heard that, young lady.

“Too much work to do,” says the former cop, vaguely. Translation: Felix, being Felix, has no retirement plan other than ‘suicide by job’. Not that it’s worked so far. How many of the nine lives has he used up already? Hard to tell. Then, as a suggestion to Colette, he asides, “Recruit ‘em. We’ll never have too many SWAT qualified officers, especially with what’s coming.”

As the previous song fades out, the gentle thrum of a guitar and a pensive male voice croons out into the night. The skyline is momentarily dark again.

Lately, I've been, I've been losing sleep

Dreaming about the things that we could be

But baby, I've been, I've been praying hard

Soon no more counting dollars, we'll be counting stars

A single swirling trail of a comet visibly careens up toward the clouds…

Yeah, we'll be counting … stars

… And explodes with half a dozen other colorful fountaining fireworks. Somehow, a shape of a giant yellow star emerges out from the fading lights. As a thrumming piano line pulses through the air, single pistils of green, purple, and blue fire off from rooftops in time with the beat.

"Whooooa!" Pippa's eyes are wide, the fireworks reflecting off the sky blue of her irises. "So pretty!" she squeals, hopping up as high as she can manage to convey her enthusiasm. "Dirk, Dirk, Dirk!" She points skyward as though maybe his attention might possibly be elsewhere at a time like this. "Look!" She hasn't even noticed that her sparkler has burnt out. It can't compare to the ones in the sky.

“Pip pip pip!!” Dirk answers back, letting his little date know that his attention couldn’t possibly be on the leggy, blonde woman that he’s been smiling at for the last five minutes. Then he leans down and points to the object of his affections, “Do me a favor and call me dad or something? I want to score points with that lady over there by showing her what a great dad I can be. Women love a guy with a cute little girl.” They must, because Pippa has a bazillion siblings.

Then he points up to the sky and exclaims his matched excitement, all the while scoping the reaction of the mystery woman over there. “Woooo! Stars!!”

All things considered, Colette's a little overwhelmed by the fireworks display. It isn't that she didn't hear Felix or Robyn, but it's her turn for her grip to take an adamant hold of Felix’s. Staring up wide-eyes at the fireworks, Colette’s eyes tear up. It's hard to tell exactly why, or even what it is she's really seeing up there as fireworks bloom in front of an aurora.

Breath held in the back of her throat, Colette opens her mouth to say something but no sound can be heard over the roar of the music and fireworks. She blinks back those tears, free hand coming up to wipe the side of her hand beneath her eyes. Beauty, terror, it's hard to say what she's experiencing. But whatever it is, it's impactful.

Squatting down next to Emily, Brynn scoots closer to Squeaks a little bit. Now the TinyMob is kind of all one little grouping — they can protect one another and watch the brilliant explosions overhead without the chance of those nearby stepping on them. It satisfies something in the deaf teen that they're a group. No one is getting snatched tonight. She ruffles Bug's ears while she watches the impressive display. It doesn't escape her notice, though, because she also likes to watch people that Colette and her companion aren't merely awed. There are other expressions in their faces. The lean, somewhat haggard man, for example… he looks like he might need Doodlebug way more than Brynn does.

"Oh, hey." Emily's eyes widen at the unexpected additional splashes of additional color. A quiet laugh escapes her and she leans back on one hand, signing It's beautiful with the other. She doesn't take her eyes off the horizon, captivated by the lightshow. Her foot begins to tap along with the beat. She knows this one.

The steady pulse of explosions continue, culminating with green and yellow explosions side by side repetitively. The barrage glows out in an unusual gradient, appearing like the canopy to the tree of light sprouting from the cannons on the ground.

I see this life, like a swinging vine

Swing my heart across the line

A red heart shape flashes just at the right moment to accompany the line

In my face is flashing signs

Seek it out and ye shall find

With the claps in the track come a flurry of glittering crackles

I'm old, but I'm not that old

Young, but I'm not that bold

Up on the stage, the helmed individual appears to be having the time of their life, vibing along with the music with sweeping feet and expressive gestures with their hands. It's possible they're singing to themselves while the mic is dead, but it's impossible to hear or see with everything else going on.

And I don't think this world is sold

On just doing what we're told

The figure on stage clenches their fists above their head before stamping their foot on the stage again.

I feel something so right

Doing the wrong thing

Abnormal swirls and shapes all fire off in the sky, a tempest of color including blue trails that beehive about, almost like a school of fish

Everything that drowns me…

All that's left are the blue, fishlike lights. They shouldn't still be aglow, nor should they still be aloft, but there they hover.

makes me want to fly

As the music floods back in, the school of dots coalesce into a distinct shape — a bird in flight, with its wings pulsing down as it takes off into the night and finally vanishes, its ascent covered over by the next wave of blue and purple glimmers.

No betraying gleam in Felix’s eyes - but the light catches in them, falling to the back of the iris like crystal. He’s still got his eyes up, watching the display….but a quick, sidelong glance has him groping in a pocket with his free hand, and producing a white scrap of cloth. He reaches across, proffers it to Colette after a gentle nudge of the elbow. Ever practical.

Which is when, of course, he looks down - to check on her, and to glance around. Another kneejerk survey of the crowd, as if this might be some sort of trap. Which way is the fastest out, even if he has to bodily haul Colette with him?

“Woah!.” Squeaks tugs on Lance’s sleeve with one hand. The other snakes by Brynn and Emily to point at the display. “How’s that happening?” The finger follows the schooling lights a little ways, then falls away as the floating glow-spots collect all together and change into something more. And bigger. She rocks back a little bit, switching to sitting criss-cross again. “Do you think someone is making it happen? Not just shooting fireworks but making them move like that?” Because that would be pretty amazing.

Note to self: always get the technopath to run the fireworks. Zelda looks every bit the curly-haired blushing maid, especially in that kimono of hers. “I owe Miss Asi a fancy dinner and a great deal of gratitude,” she murmurs to Cassandra, glancing toward the woman briefly. “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a fireworks show quite this spectacular before.” She chuckles softly to herself, turning her gaze back up right in time to see the bird. She can’t help but sharply inhale, hand lifting toward her mouth at the display.

“I see it,” Lance confirms with a grin, watching the glow sweep across the sky into an avian form, “Maybe a photokinetic…? I bet Colette could do that.” Just a hint of bragging in his tone, head turning to look over in the woman’s direction through the crowd before he looks back up to the sky, “This is pretty primal… I bet it’s the guy up there with the mic doing it.”

"What…" Emily starts to ask, echoing Squeaks' question about the lingering lights. She trails off, captivated by how they fall like a net together. When the lights shoot back up again in the shape of a bird, she starts tapping Brynn's arm with the urgency of someone silently asking did you see that? She doesn't have the words to ask any questions coherently at the moment, too awed at seeing the unusual spectacular.

The deaf teen is too enthralled by the light show overhead, gawking just as much as her siblings, to do more than offer a brilliant grin at Emily. Holy crap, that's amazing! is what her expression says. Like a kid at Christmas, the marvel that is firework transfixes her. She squeezes Emily's hand in glee, smooshing Squeaks while she bounces a little in her own spot waiting for the next amazing thing.

Twists of color dance in various direction — orange, red, and green. They align too perfectly, the brighter colors 'burning' away the green as the song enters its final chant. As the honeycombing lights taper off, the aurora pulses a light orange behind them.

Take that money, watch it burn

Sing to the rhythm of the lessons I've learned

Take that money, watch it burn

Sing to the rhythm of the lessons I've learned

"How's everybody feeling so far?" The energetic female voice from before cuts back over the speaker systems, to whoops of acknowledgement and applause alike. The figure on the stage flashes a thumbs up above their head.

"I'm so glad to hear it. It's been an honor to spend this night with you, and I want to share with you a message before this final display."

"The New York Safe Zone is alive and well. It grows stronger each and every day, thanks to the resilient people who live and work here, striving to turn this town back into a City That Never Sleeps."

"I know Yamagato is proud to stand with New York and do everything it can to accomplish that shared dream."

"Though from different origins, different backgrounds, we all strive for that one goal. I am happy to be a part of that diverse tapestry that makes up the Safe Zone."

From the stairs off either side of the platform, two new groups sweep up onto the stage. It's clear at a glance they're not foreign, probably not even Yamagato. Most are in street clothes, though a handful are dressed in costume — some in festival-wear, some in garish Halloween finery. A man and a woman standing close by each other are wearing shakos with vibrant plumes.

Each person is wearing or carrying a musical instrument with them. Horns flash in the light shining on the stage, contrasted by a cluster of less-vibrant woodwinds, and are rounded out by a sousaphone-wielder, a bass drum, some eager-looking guy holding cymbals, and a snare drummer.

"—And to be moving forward, together."

It's only but so long before Robyn squeezes her eyes shut, unwilling to subject herself to the bright lights any longer. She smiles anyway, the small and happy smile that someone might have when they're enjoying the night despite themselves. A glance over to Felix, and she chuckles. "No rest for the wicked. Why should there be for the rest?" Which is to say, he's right. Which is part of her consideration as of late.

She peaks open one eye, looking at the folks carrying musical instruments. "That could've been me, you know," she offers to Colette. "One of the band kids. Could you imagine? Someone like me, or Sable, up there?" Her smile widens, and she closes her eye again. "What dorks we would be." Said lovingly, but also with a little bit of a tease in it.

"Wow." Emily leans back onto her hands as the music fades and the voice from before comes back, attention drifting lazily over to the energetic figure on the stage. Come on, come on, hurry up with the 'We're a big happy family here in the Safe Zone' chat and let's get back to the fireworks. she thinks to herself, head starting to tilt as she waits patiently through the speech. When the instrument-wielding pedestrians rush up into view, an eyebrow begins to slowly arch and she leans off one hand to make an attempt at signing along with her thoughts.

"… Hey, I think I know that guy." she says of one of the people who's on stage now. "He lives in our building." Her tone's just as curious as confused. She's scanning the distant faces with more interest than before, seeing if there's anyone else she recognizes among their number, as unlikely as that might be. "That's awesome."

The fireworks have provided a brilliant distraction to Dirk’s proposal, but that hasn’t stopped it from kicking around in Pippa’s mind. When the speaker on stage finishes speaking and the band begins to line up, she turns around and flashes the PA a grin that would both make her mother proud and utterly terrify her - if she saw it. “This is the best, Daddy!”

Lying’s okay sometimes. Especially if it will help a friend. That’s how that works, right? Right.

The motley marching band on stage all turn to look at each other, and a nod is given to the man with the large bass drum strapped to his body. He counts off, with an accompanying beat, "One, two—!"

The cymbalist and the bass beat out a rhythm, joined by a clap from the helmed figure. They can be clearly heard through the speakers, along with a vibrant track. Lyrics, not in English, can be heard — translations are beamed onto the backdrop behind the platform for those sitting close enough to see.

空は青く澄み渡ー / The skies are clear and blue

海を目指して歩く / As we head to the sea

怖いものはなんてない / There's nothing to be afraid of

僕らはもう一人じゃない / (Because) we're not alone anymore

As a string of chimes ring out, smaller white peony clusters explode in the sky to create a new canvas. The male singer's voice turns from upbeat to wistful as the song moves along.

**大切ななんかが、壊れたあの夜に / On the night our precious 'thing' was shattered **

**僕は星を探して、一人で歩いていた / I was out walking alone, looking for the stars **

Willows of golden light weep across the night sky and shimmer, blue and red dots appearing in their midst like so many shooting stars.

**Perseid座流星群きみも見てたんだろうか? / Were you also watching the Perseids? **

**僕は元っ気でやってるよ、今はきみどこにいるの?/ I'm doing well, but I wonder where you are these days **

The strings of falling colors among the gold coalesce together into a single thing, the reddened streaks taking the shape of a dragon that swims through the air toward the event ground. Around it, the blue streaks swirl like comets in its orbit.

Dirk beams when Pippa follows along. Pointing to the dragon, he makes a show of spreading his arm across Pippa's field of vision, like a magician revealing the sky to her. "Dragons!!" A quick glance to the woman with the legs up to her neck and he offers a little wave and a chuckle as he shrugs his shoulders. Kids, what can you do, right? They're so cute.

Especially this one. Nicole dun good.

Then the assistant leans in to murmur words just for Pippa. "You just earned yourself a pippamint mocha, little lady." Caffeine, hot chocolate, whipping cream, chocolate sauce… the works. Being at Yamagato, he's sure he can find a nice place around to treat his little date. "And a best friend award, for being the best friend ever~."

“But how…” Squeaks’ question never finishes forming as the fireworks change again to something even bigger. Instead, it changes to a whispered woah with the reds and blues mingling with the whites. She stands to watch as those glimmeries fall and collect with others and then take on a whole different shape completely.

“Look!” She grabs Lance’s leave again and tugs on it. “Look! Look what happened! It’s a dragon!” The youngest of the TinyMob shakes Brynn’s and Emily’s shoulders next, but it’s her hands that do the talking for her— as best as they can in her excitement. Someone might have to translate later. Look, look! Are you seeing this?! The fireworks turned into a dragon! It’s a dragon!

Brynn's literally just as transfixed as Squeaks, the show they're putting on against the aurorae is incredible. She's never in her life seen fireworks like this and her eyes don't know which thing to watch first, she's so dazzled. If people are signing at her, has no clue whatsoever.

“Damn,” Lance breathes out, watching the lights spill through the air in wonder, grin broad as it can be, “I see it, Squeaks, I see it… damn, that’s one talented— whatever they are. Photokinetic or— whatever. It’s beautiful.”

方法」という悪魔にとり憑かれないで / Don't lose yourself in worrying about the "how"

目的」という大事なものを思い出して / Just remember that precious goal you're shooting for

The dragon simply disperses as it nears the shoreline, shattering into a swirl of shimmering light that fades overhead while a new round of scattering lights launch into the air. The marching band stomps on the stage as the instruments swell to announce the next repetition of the cheerful chorus.

Emily's grin bubbles over into a laugh as Squeaks shakes her shoulder. "I see it, yeah!" She manages before she runs out of breath, leaning forward to lace her fingers around her shins. Get a look at that. The rush that was going over the crowd at the dragon is much more pronounced than the bird. The kids weren't the only ones clamoring over the enhanced fireworks.

When the illusion shatters and the light scatters away again, Emily sinks back down into her seat, glancing to the lyrics on display before giving up on them to pay better attention to the colors in the sky.

One part of his brain is idly turning over the possible power sets that might be capable of a display like this. But mostly, Fel’s back to watching the show. His expression’s gone neutral, a little bit dry again…his posture, at least, as relaxed somewhat. As if some little fraction of that hypervigilance has eased off, some part of that piano wire tension has eased. It’s possible to enjoy something without it merely being a reference to trauma.

It took that long for Colette to notice Felix had handed her his handkerchief. She'd been pinching it between tightly clasped fingers for a while, only now bringing it up to dry her cold, wet cheeks. She swallows, tightly, then looks over at Felix with an appreciative smile before handing it back to him and resting her head against his shoulder. In a way, this display felt cathartic; a way to bury the war of the past behind a curtain of color and sound.

On a nearby rooftop overlooking the performance, a pink-haired woman stares up at the dragon-shape moving in the sky. Her eyes narrow, fingers curling against the soft fabric of her rainbow sweater. Footsteps behind her are hard to hear, but she feels the person behind her intently.

“It's a sign,” the brunette in the yellow rain jacket tells her, resting a hand on her sibling’s shoulder. “Come on, we’re not done.”

The pink-haired girl nods once, slowly, then closes her eyes and the pair disappear into a heat mirage ripple and a rush of displaced air that sounds with an audible pop, drowned out by the fireworks.

More beehiving lights of a single color spiral through the smoke left by the other shells that have exploded recently. They float through the air almost lazily, randomly, yellows and dim oranges.

世間」という悪魔に惑わされないで / Don't be mislead by society

自分だけが決めた答を 思い出して / Hold onto that answer you decided for yourself

A giant rainbow chrysanthemum booms into existence, drowning out the previous display. Screaming, glimmering blooms trail behind it, and rainbow lanterns of light sway in the wake that comes after, drifting halfway down through the sky before winking out one by one.

煌めきのような~人生の中で / In this fleeting brilliance that is human life

君に出逢えて、僕は本当によかった / I'm so glad to have met you

Clapping and singing along to the song, Marlowe takes a moment to dab at a corner of her eye. Everything about the times leading up to this moment touches the woman deeply. She just needs to remember not to smudge the makeup. So instead, she drapes an arm over new-found friend Eve and longer-time friend Monica, watching the fireworks display and the band on stage with a sense of elation, worries wiped away for now.

“Is that— IS THAT A DRAGON!?” Eve leans forward while holding onto Monica and Marlowe and she does a little dance while she shrieks, “I miss Falcor now!!” A brief thought sent out to the ice dragon she and Liz befriended beneath the tunnels.


The seer takes a deep breath and shouts out to the sky, “Long live the dragonnnnnnn!”

Unlike her friends, and probably everyone else here, Monica isn’t watching the display. She’s watching the crowd. She knows that this is the perfect time to be a pickpocket (or worse), when everyone is distracted and predictable.

The lighting, while pretty, leaves them in plenty of darkness. Plenty of shadows.

So when Marlowe’s arm goes around her, she has to shift gears to look back to her with a smile. She glances upward in time to catch the chrysanthemum, but it is just a glance.

A steady stream of tailed fireballs begin to shoot into the air, all at various heights as they explode out into colorful messes.

街を抜け海に出たら、次はどこを目指そうか / After we make it all the way to the sea from the city, where should we head to next?

僕らはまた出かけよう、愛しいこのせかいを / Let's head out again together, out into this beloved world of ours

The intensity of the reports increase to a nonstop booming that can be felt in the air, and echoes off the buildings in Yamagato Park. While rings of light explode out off to either side, fireworks shaped like letters hold position in the air one by one - N Y C S Z dominating the center of the display.

Emily's grin starts to grow as she notes the swell in the fireworks. Individual whoops and cheers for the cacophany playing out overhead can be heard throughout the crowd, and she'd join them, but she's taking a moment to just feel the explosions. The air itself seems like it's popping, an erratic drumbeat that plays out against everyone's skin.

It's the most normal thing she's felt in a long time, and she loses herself in that moment — her voice jubilantly rising to join the others. She starts clapping as loudly as she can along with her cheer as she sees the lettering pop up in the sky, feeling an odd swell of pride at seeing them rise up. It's a new look for the Safe Zone, one she's happy to see.

“Whoa…” Lance’s jaw nearly drops at that last display, as the letters explode into the air in brilliant blossoms, his shoulder nudging to Squeaks’ own as he points a finger up, “Look! How do they do that, is it the photokinetic again or… can they just do that with fireworks?”

Do not give Lance the secret of fireworks, he would do terrible things.

“We got to find out how it works!” Squeaks’ answer to Lance comes with all the wonder and excitement of the show. This is something they have to find out. She points with him, in case anyone of the TinyMob might miss the colorful display.

空は青く澄み渡り / The skies are clear and blue

海を目指して歩く / As we head to the sea

怖いものはなんてない / There's nothing to be afraid of

僕らはもう一人じゃない / We're not alone anymore

Bright flashes of light begin to shine independently of the larger, colorful blooms that continue to shoot off in rapidfire. Mixed in with the constant stream of color are gold and silver shimmers that crackle and shout into the night, almost drowning out the final variation in the chorus.

空は青く澄み渡り / The skies are clear and blue

海を目指して歩く / As we head out to sea

怖くても大丈夫 / Even if you're afraid, it'll all be okay!

僕らはもう一人じゃない / Because now, you're not alone anymore

Even after the last lingering notes of the song fade, the ear-popping litany of shells continue to excitedly pop off, crackling and willowing and resiliently lighting up the night almost a full ten seconds after the music ends. A cloud of smoke is left billowing behind after the rest of the fireworks fade into the night … followed by one last double-explosion of amethyst and gold willowing across the sky.

At least he didn’t wipe her face *for* her - for someone who’s never really gotten any closer to fatherhood than Colette herself (at least in this timeline, there’s at least one timeline where he’s happily married and the father of a little daughter), sometimes he’s got the vestigial instincts, at least. But Fel contents himself with putting an arm around Colette, letting her rest her head on his shoulder. No tears in his eyes, but they are suspiciously bright, until he swipes impatiently at them with a thumb. Hey, Russians are allowed to be sentimental, right?

“We really won, didn't we?” Colette asks Felix, as if the memory of the war humming in her bones was some ephemeral thing that, if she forgot, would be made unreal. The question is ultimately rhetorical, but the fact of the matter is that neither had ever truly stopped fighting the war. Hana had called Wolfhound a knife, and asked Colette if that's what she thought of herself. Tonight, under an aurora that burns as bright as the fireworks erupting in the sky, she's found the answer to that.

Head on Felix’s shoulder, Colette looks up at the night sky with both emotion and something far more dangerous and hard to find than sentimentality. Hope.

When Colette finally speaks up again, Robyn looks over at her, focused intently on the other photokinetic. Fingers brush over each other uneasily as she recalls a conversation they had once, in the back of her mind. One where she almost gave up.

And yet, here they are.

She purses her lips, choosing not to break the moment. Instead, she offers the two a smile they might not notice, before turning and making her way back off into the crowd.

Standing quietly in her out-of-the-way spot, Cassandra looks over to Zelda with a smile, then up at the fireworks blessing the skies above the Safe Zone with their beauty. Compliments surely will come from all sides, but, for now, she remains silent, watching the shimmering display. It’s a scene that could have taken place at any location around the world, but here and now, it’s a testament to the resilience of New York and the people that call it home.

The group up on the platform are whooping and celebrating with each other, exchanging high fives and hugs before turning back and waving at the crowd, cheering along with them at the feeling that lingers in the air following the fireworks.

A different, male voice pipes through the speaker to pleasantly report over the cheers and whistles, "Thank you for joining us this evening. Yamagato Industries Matsuri activities will conclude tonight at 11 PM…. We look forward to seeing you tomorrow starting at 10 AM!"

Hoots and cheers fill the crowd, ringing up and out from the street and through the neon-lit buildings beneath the auroral curtain. As celebrations go, it is the start of something new, the beginning of another era for the Safe Zone. Something that started as a small idea…

…and grew into something larger.




Kam Nisatta flowers at the sound of her own voice, sweeping one hand over the surface of her desk to dismiss the red-lit private mode her communication system was engaged in. Turning in her chair, she looks out the angled wall of glass from the office of the late Kin Egami to the neon-lit backdrop of Yamagato Park beyond. Exhaling a shuddering breath, she sweeps one finger beneath her eyes to dry away tears, then swallows back her frustration.

Retrieving a cell phone from the pocket of her jacket, she slides a finger over the screen and slowly shakes her head as she keys in a text message.

They're coming for you. Run.

Her thumb hovers over the send button. Jaw muscles tighten. Her hand starts to shake, and…


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