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The Hidama house was mercifully quiet once everyone else had gone to bed. It was Hirui’s favorite time of day – it gave her time to think and reflect.

Ice cubes clinked in Hirui’s glass as she took another drink of scotch. She hadn’t attended the event at Lucente Bay Park personally – but she’d heard plenty about the aftermath from all three of her children.

They were growing stronger. It was still strange knowing that her daughter and her friends were growing into capable Pretty Cure – and no doubt capable women on top of that – but the woman was certain Nami would be proud to see her successors. Hirui certainly was.

And yet…

She didn’t want them to fight. Despite all their successes, despite the fact they had most definitely surpassed her own level, despite the fact they were the only defense Lucente Bay had, she didn’t want them to fight. They deserved to be normal teenage girls, not warriors with the world on their shoulders.

She drank again, setting her Star Capsule on the table this time. Usami had told her to be patient and he had been right – the formerly empty Star Capsule was filled with shimmery, glittering orange light, the item glowing faintly even in the darkness of the kitchen. It should have made Hirui happy to see that. She wanted to be happy to see that. It had been the one thing she wanted above all else.

But the look in her eyes was clear – it wasn’t enough.

---

OP: "Shooting ★ Star!!" – StarSHINE 5
EPISODE 17 - "The airport destroyed! Libra’s windy wrath"

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“Did you see them? They were holding hands!”
“They’re dating, aren’t they?!”
“Ahhh, I knew they’d be so cute together…!”

The squeals and gossip in the hallway had been difficult, but it was the eager students trying to clamor into the classroom that tried at everyone’s patience. Despite Mei’s pleas to not overcrowd the classroom, people still made it through – as a result, there was quite the crowd surrounding Ibuki and Sumire’s desks that morning.

“Are you really dating?!” a blue haired girl heading the group blurted out. Ibuki felt herself blushing at the direct nature of it all, desperately wanting to shrink into her seat.

Sumire, however, handled the crowds like a professional. Offering a warm smile, the girl nodded. “We are.” she answered simply, placid smile remaining on her face at the eruption of fangirlish squeals.

“Have you gone on a date yet?”
“Have you kissed?!”
“Omigosh, you have to tell us everything!”
“Ahh, the prince and princess of Etoile, that sounds so romantic~!”

Ibuki flinched at the last comment and Sumire frowned, ready to say something, but it was Ushio who beat her to the punch. “All right, show’s over, get outta here!” the black haired girl said, emphatically shooing everyone out.

“Sorry, but you really are overcrowding the classroom…!” Mei said, helping her friend direct everyone out. Once the crowd filtered out – dirty looks and rude remarks all through the process – the two girls let out sighs of relief. “I didn’t want them to come in, but they forced their way in anyways…” Mei mumbled, shaking her head.

“Ahhh, was it really that hectic?” Kiyomi asked, poking her head through the doorway, Momoe poking her head out as well a moment later.

Ushio frowned. “You didn’t bring a crowd with you, right?”

Momoe smiled. “I threatened them all to model for oneesan’s store if they followed us.”

Kiyomi grinned. “Momoe’s really good at being intimidating~!” she sang out, then looked over at Ibuki. “Hey, I’m going to walk Momoe to her class. Ibuki-chan, you wanna come with me?”

The blonde blinked. It was definitely a strange request – it must have meant Kiyomi wanted to talk with her. Momoe’s class wasn’t far and there was still time before the warning bell – Ibuki saw no reason to turn Kiyomi down. “Sure. Be back in a bit, S-Sumire.” she said, cheeks turning pink as she could hear Mei and Ushio ready to tease for the lack of an honorific. She made her way out of the classroom with hurried strides – and the second the door slid closed behind her, Kiyomi surprised her with a hug.

“Congrats! We just knew one of you was gonna ask the other out later!” Kiyomi chirped, laughing a little at the look on Ibuki’s face. “Ah, did you think you guys were both subtle? Because it was plain as day to everyone~!”

“S-shaddap!” Ibuki mumbled as they walked, feeling her ears turn red. “Why’d ya ask fer me anyways?!”

Momoe offered a smile. “We were wondering if you’d like to double date with us. First dates can be rather nerve-wracking, after all.”

“Momoe was so nervous during our first date! She made a big old list of topics, it was so cute!” Kiyomi chimed in, giggling.

Momoe blushed at the recollection, coughing politely to avoid dignifying anything with an answer. “In any case, it would be rather fun, don’t you think? Yobaiboshi has plenty of nice date spots – Tachibana Teahouse is a nice spot too.”

Ibuki offered the two girls an apologetic smile. “It’s sweet of ya t’suggest date spots, but I already kinda had a place planned for our first date…”

Kiyomi’s gaze brightened. “Really?! Omigosh, you gotta tell us, I bet you’d pick a really cute place!”

Ibuki laughed, rubbing the back of her neck. “Well, s’not a cute place, and it’s prolly a little weird for a first choice, but I wanted t’take S-Sumire t’see the airport we got here, my dad works there and - ”

Kiyomi laughed, unable to stop herself. Momoe watched as the confident, excited light in Ibuki’s eyes was immediately dashed. The girl nudged her girlfriend’s shoulder, attempting to salvage the situation before it was too late. “Ki - ”

But Kiyomi didn’t hear her. “What? The airport, seriously? That’s so lame!” she continued unthinkingly – just before she blinked, her actions finally processing. The girl’s eyes widened and she clapped her hands over her mouth, horrified.

”Kiyomi!” came the sharp, angered cry from Momoe.

Ibuki stood still, expression hidden from the others.

“I-I didn’t mean to say that!” Kiyomi spoke quickly, kicking herself mentally all the while. What had she been thinking, doing that?! “Ibuki-chan, honest, I didn’t mean it! I’m - !”

The warning bell rang out, cutting the rest of the other girl’s sentence off. Ibuki turned on her heel, back to the other two girls. “ ’m heading back t’class.” she said, voice tight and shaky. She hurried off before anyone could stop her.

“Ibuki-san!” Momoe called, then sighed, looking over at her girlfriend. She was ready to scold the shorter girl – but stopped, seeing the look on Kiyomi’s face. She placed a comforting hand to the girl’s shoulder. “We’ll talk to her at lunch, okay?”

Kiyomi didn’t hear her, the shorter girl instead focused on Ibuki’s retreating form. “…I’m sorry, Ibuki-chan…” she finished lamely, voice small.



They weren’t any closer to luring Ophiuchus out of hiding. If anything, it seemed like she’d retreated further away from them. It was frustrating – but not for the reasons the Serpens thought it would be. They should have been angry that they were failing Lord Omega, they should have been angry that they couldn’t properly locate such a young girl.

But the inability to bring Ophiuchus to them only brought feelings of loneliness – and those feelings only brought sharp pain as well. It was uncomfortable – but it helped them bond a little better, the three of them knowing they all suffered from the same pain.

It was strange. Lord Omega would certainly disapprove.

And yet none of them could say they were opposed to it.

“You did well. I am impressed.” Cebalrai remarked, offering Marfik an almost smile.

Marfik blinked. The memories of before Ophiuchus abandoned them were mostly hazy and indistinct, but the boy couldn’t remember an earnest compliment from Cebalrai before. Somewhat awkwardly, he returned her compliment with a nervous grin. “Thanks.” he said, then paused, glancing over at Rasalhague, then back to Cebalrai.

“And sorry.” the two boys said in unison.

The woman stared for a moment, about to ask why – before the hazy memory came back to her. Rasalhague condemning her, Marfik attacking her, both of them blaming her for Ophiuchus’s condition. She had apologized then, hadn’t she? And they had been so angry with her… “It is all right, I forgive you.”

It was strange to say that, but Cebalrai knew it was true. Remembering it was painful, both because of the heartache and the dull throbbing pain in her chest, but she couldn’t deny that she liked it had been brought up. Her thoughts wandered for a moment as she tried to remember other notable things – it brought back thoughts of Ophiuchus, making the three of them flinch again.

“She abandoned us.” Cebalrai insisted, but it lacked the iciness of before. Her voice sounded mournful now, almost confused.

“Lord Omega saved us.” Marfik echoed, but he too lost the certainty that Cebalrai had before. He sounded lost, and more as if he was trying to convince himself.

“We have to find her.” Rasalhague finished. It had been the only thing they were all certain of – but now that he spoke it, why? Maybe the others were afraid to ask themselves that, but Rasalhague wasn’t scared. He didn’t know why they were so dedicated to this, and maybe that baffled him most. Their thoughts were less restrained now that they weren’t so chained to Omega, so maybe…

Maybe…

Cebalrai gritted her teeth. Regardless of the reason for it, finding Ophiuchus was their objective. “Marfik had his turn. It is mine now.” she declared to no one in particular, just before she vanished. Maybe time away from the two of them would help make sense of things.



Sumire was the type of girl who had homemade meals a lot. Sometimes the staff made them for her, but this particular morning, Sumire had made sure to make it herself. Her cooking skills were fairly decent, and Ibuki and her brothers had raved about her prowess. Cooking was something she took pride in. So, naturally, she wanted to surprise Ibuki with a homemade lunch. She was sure her girlfriend would love it!

…or she had been sure, anyways.

Ibuki was upset about something. Sumire had noticed it the moment she’d come back from walking with Kiyomi – something was bothering her. So when Ibuki had said she wanted to eat lunch with just Sumire today, Sumire understood the meaning behind it – she wanted to discuss something privately.

It didn’t make her any less nervous though. How could she not be? They had just started dating – what if Ibuki was already regretting it…?

Sumire rounded the corner to one of the empty, usable classrooms – and blinked, realizing the door was already open. She could see Kiyomi at the doorway, and Momoe was there too. The girl blushed for a moment, wondering if she’d heard Ibuki’s instructions wrong. Or worse – what if she was interrupting something private between the couple? Sumire took a few steps back, ready to look for another classroom when…

“I’m sorry, Ibuki-chan!”

…well that made her reconsider. Sumire paused, then peeked around the corner, watching intently.

Kiyomi had her hands clapped together, as if praying for forgiveness. “I really am!” she continued, eyes shut tight. “I say things without thinking a lot, I didn’t mean to laugh at you or say it was lame!”

Momoe nodded in agreement. “She’s been texting me all throughout class. She’s worried you hate her now.”

Ibuki sighed, stepping towards the doorway. “…I ain’t mad, promise. Jus’ kinda stung, I guess. But I know yer sorry, don’t worry.” she offered a weak smile, ruffling Kiyomi’s hair playfully. “Now as much as I ‘ppreciate ya bein’ here, y’mind givin’ some space? ‘m waitin’ on Princess ta show up.”

It was about now that Sumire realized she hadn’t exactly thought her eavesdropping out. Torn for a moment, the girl took a deep breath, and tried to walk nonchalantly around the corner…

Everyone noticed her at once. Kiyomi and Momoe traded glances, clearly suspicious, but Ibuki offered a smile to the shorter girl. “Sumire! Was hopin’ I’d see ya!” she said, offering the girl a hug. “C’mon, I want us t’eat together while we still have time, eheheh.” she grinned and the two entered the classroom together, which Kiyomi and Momoe took as their cue to leave. Once the door had shut, however, Ibuki sighed a little. “How much did ya overhear?”

Sumire jumped, then laughed nervously. “I was getting here r-right as Kiyomi-san apologized to you…” she fumbled with her hands for a moment. “I-I’m sorry, it was rude of me to listen in…”

“Suppose I can understand why y’would.” Ibuki nodded a little, taking a seat next to Sumire, the two girls leaning against the wall. She watched for a moment as Sumire unwrapped her cloth covered bento – and then blinked, realizing there were two bento boxes, one in purple, and the other in gold.

“I-I made lunch for you.” Sumire mumbled, handing the purple box over. “I-I know I’m not the greatest, but - ”

Ibuki placed her hands over Sumire’s, her eyes shining bright. She didn’t have to tell Sumire how happy she was – the warm smile on her face said it all for her.

Sumire blushed hard, only managing a feeble “L-let’s e-eat!” before opening her own lunch. The two lunches were exactly the same – teriyaki chicken in one of the smaller compartments, as well as tamagoyaki and some cherry tomatoes in a slightly larger compartment. The largest section of the box was filled with fried rice, although Sumire had decorated the rice with nori shaped as stars, and boiled carrots cut to resemble flowers. It wasn’t perfect – the stars looked a little haphazard, the tamagoyaki hadn’t come out perfectly, the chicken looked like it needed a little more color to it – but Sumire was sure she had done the best she could. She helped herself to some tamagoyaki, proud that even though it didn’t look the prettiest, it still tasted pretty good.

Mid-chew, she looked over at Ibuki – and froze, realizing Ibuki hadn’t started eating. She swallowed hard. “I-Ibuki…?”

Ibuki sniffled, looking over at her girlfriend with teary eyes. “Y’made it so CUTE, how can I dig in an’ ruin yer work?!”

Sumire sighed in relief. “It would be worse to not eat it at all, you know…” she pointed out after a moment, biting back a laugh as Ibuki’s eyes widened – evidently that hadn’t occurred to the other girl. She watched as Ibuki started eating, smiling when she saw Ibuki’s eyes light up – although she couldn’t help but blink when Ibuki started eating hungrily.

At least it meant she liked it…?

Once Ibuki slowed down enough to savor the food, the girl chewed thoughtfully, looking over at her girlfriend again. Ibuki swallowed, then paused, debating the best way to bring it up, then: “H-hey. We should g-go on a date soon. I-I’ve got a place picked out a-an’ everythin’!”

Sumire beamed at her. “Ah, I’d love to! Where are we going?”

Ibuki gaped for a moment, having not thought this far ahead, then: “…i-it’s a surprise!”

“Well, I’m looking forward to it then!” Sumire assured.

The two sat in silence, eating their lunches for a few minutes, before a red-faced Ibuki swallowed again and blurted out: “C-can we make it a group date t-though?!”

Sumire laughed nervously, her own face a deep shade of pink. “I-I was going t-to suggest it if you weren’t…” she admitted.

Ibuki couldn’t help it – she laughed. And when Sumire met her gaze and started laughing too, the blonde couldn’t help realizing bringing up a first date wasn’t nearly as nerve-wracking as she thought it would be.



[eyecatch 1 – Mei and Ushio wait on the roof as Sumire and Ibuki arrive with bento boxes and a large cloth fit for a picnic. The three other girls crowd around excitedly as Sumire opens a box up – only for the four to find that Usami has eaten all the food inside! The four girls sigh and then laugh. The Starshine logo appears in the corner.]

[eyecatch 2 – Aries shoots a blast of flame at the screen, which is followed by Pisces shooting a jet of water. It’s chased away by Virgo shooting a blast of petals, which are blown away by Libra shooting a jet of air. The camera pulls out as the four Cures pose together against a starry backdrop. The Starshine logo appears in the corner.]



Lucente Bay Airport was located several miles into the wilderness, away from the city – a golf cart “shuttle” often brought people to and from the airport. It was privately owned but happily open to the public – when the weather permitted, anyways, as low cloud cover made it difficult to fly. It was much smaller than the typical airport – with the island being so tiny, it could only handle supply runs to and from the island – but on occasion, pilots were allowed to land, as long as they stated their intentions and paid a fee. Prior to the airport being built, the only planes reaching Lucente Bay had been seaplanes, which weren’t able to import as many resources…

It was all interesting to learn, enough to keep her attention, but Kiyomi hadn’t expected this to be her way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Still, she and Momoe had wanted to make it up to Ibuki, and when the blonde had begged for friends to come along so she wouldn’t be so nervous on her date with Sumire, she and Momoe had agreed to come along. So had Mei and Ushio, something she was a little grateful for.

Since she and the others hadn’t wanted to outshine the dating couple, the four friends had agreed to not dress up too much. Kiyomi had opted for a warm green sweater, gray tights and a black skirt, along with her favorite black boots. Ushio had gone with a pair of shorts and a pink halter top, along with a pair of sandals, whereas Mei had chosen a black top with silver stars on it and pale blue jeans, simple black slip on shoes on her feet. She’d also brought with her a cute purse – which rustled every so often, a familiar teddy bear head poking out when he thought no one else was looking. Kiyomi smiled at Usami’s attempts to stay hidden, giggling a little.

It was Momoe who still managed to look out of place, evidently taking “don’t dress up too much” to mean “wear classic lolita instead of gothic lolita” – the end result making her look a bit like a misplaced princess, with her pale pink and white frilled dress and the girl’s wavy pink hair tied back into a side braid that framed her face. Pinstriped white and pink stockings and simple mary-janes completed the ensemble, and had they all not chosen to meet up at the shuttle, Kiyomi would have marched her girlfriend back home and made her change into something less showy.

As Ibuki continued to talk about the building of the airport and the types of goods they brought in, Kiyomi smiled a little. Nervousness or not, Ibuki was managing pretty well, and she looked pretty cute too! The blonde had gone with a red, long sleeved top with white polka dots and a ruffled white skirt, along with frilled white socks and wedge heels in the same red. Ibuki had also put her hair back with a red hairband with a frilly bow on top – it complimented the color of her hair nicely. Sumire had dressed nicely as well, having gone with a cream colored dress accented in black, most notable with the black ribbon around her waist. Black tights and cute cream colored shoes completed the look, as well as the cream colored knitted beret that the shorter girl wore.

There was just one thing bothering her though – neither of them were holding hands! Kiyomi frowned, about to say something, only for Momoe to place a hand on her shoulder and shake her head.

“It’s not our place.” Momoe said quietly, as Mei and Ushio nodded in agreement.

Kiyomi’s shoulders slumped, but she had to admit, they were right. Besides, it was better to play it on the safe side, considering how she’d already upset her friend once.

Up ahead, Ibuki waved to get everyone’s attention. “Oi~!” the blonde called. “Hurry up, I got someone I wanna introduce y’all to!”

The four of them hurried over, just as a taller man made his way over to the group. Ibuki grinned upon seeing him, and once the man joined them, the resemblance between the two was uncanny – though the man didn’t physically resemble Ibuki, considering his light brown hair and hazel colored eyes, they shared the same sparkle in their eyes and the same infectious grin. “Guys, this is my dad!” Ibuki introduced with an overdramatic flourish.

“Kousei Yoruto, it’s a pleasure to meet you all.” he said with a bow. “You must be Ibuki’s friends, right?” he asked, looking at Kiyomi and the others. “Let me see – you two are Mei-san and Ushio-san, Ibuki raves about both of you - ”

“D-dad…!”

“ – which means you two must be Kiyomi-san and Momoe-san.” the man counted on his fingers for a second, confused. “Ah, but where’s Sumire-san?”

“I-I’m over here, K-Kousei-san.” Sumire mumbled from behind the man, face pink. “I…w-well…”

Ibuki flushed red. “S-Sumire’s my girlfriend!” she blurted out, Sumire turning red beside her.

The entire group was silent for a moment – and then Yoruto’s face split into a warm, welcoming grin. Almost immediately, the man hugged Sumire tight, much to Sumire’s distress – although when the girl squirmed in discomfort, he let her down, still practically beaming. “Ah, I’m sorry, Sumire-san! I’m just so happy to meet someone that Ibuki cares so much about! You know, she wouldn’t stop talking about you for days – ”

Ibuki turned scarlet. “DAD…!”

Yoruto laughed, ruffling his daughter’s hair affectionately. “I’m sorry, sweetie, but I really am happy for you. Say, why don’t we - ?” he began, then paused as the sky began to darken above them. That definitely wasn’t normal – the forecast had said it would be cloudless and sunny all day! Confused, the man looked up. “What the…?”

It was a dark mass of some sort, floating towards them?

More people began to take notice – and the four girls felt it all at once, an immediate chill in the air.

“Kiyomi-san, Momoe-san.” Mei spoke slowly, gaze trained at the oncoming thing. “Run.”

Kiyomi and Momoe only looked at each other once, before shakily nodding. Hand in hand, the two girls ran off, hollering for other workers to follow them as they ran.



The dark mass shot towards the earth, sinking into the shadows cast by the planes at the airport – and as the four girls and Yoruto gasped at the suddenness of it, Cebalrai appeared before the group, the woman absently dusting herself off.

Yoruto immediately placed himself in front of the four girls. “Who are you?!” he demanded.

Cebalrai eyed the man for a moment. “I do not wish to involve you.” she spoke frankly. “Please leave.”

Ushio stared. In all the times she had fought Cebalrai, the woman had never once cared about others. What was…?

Yoruto, however, wasn’t one to be swayed. “I don’t care what your intentions are, I won’t let you hurt them!”

Inside Mei’s purse, Usami flinched. The chill in the air had grown even colder, and he thrashed inside, poking his head out. His ears were flattened against his head, every strand of his fur on edge. “Mei-chan!” he hissed – and the little bear’s eyes widened as the ground beneath them rumbled.

“I am sorry.” Cebalrai spoke again, and remorse really did color her tone. “But if you will not remove yourself from this situation, then I must do so for you.”

Darkness began to rise from the ground below – and realizing the danger everyone could be in, Yoruto let out a frantic cry, pushing his daughter and her friends away, just as the shadows rose up and swallowed him whole, reforming into a large plane-like monster with glowing red eyes and a wicked smile. The head of the monster even had a cockpit – and an unconscious Yoruto was currently inside of it. “TROU NOIR!” the monster bellowed.

”DAD!” came Ibuki’s agonized cry, just before she glared at Cebalrai. “Give him back!”

“Will you give us Ophiuchus?” Cebalrai asked, voice steely. “I will be willing to trade.”

Usami snarled, something none of the girls had thought possible for the little bear. “Never!” he declared, then looked to the group. “Girls!”

None of them needed telling twice. Immediately, everyone had seized their Star Capsule. “Pretty Cure! Wish Upon A Star!” the four girls called out, four flashes of light accompanying their words.

“The fire star with the determination of a ram, Cure Aries!”
“The water star with the grace of the sea life, Cure Pisces!”
“The earth star with the maiden’s innocence, Cure Virgo!”
“The air star with the balance of truth, Cure Libra!”

Libra led the charge, immediately sprinting towards the Trou Noir. The monster swung at her, but Libra let out a fierce cry, meeting its attack with a punch of her own. As the purple Cure attacked, Aries joined in, swooping past Libra and ramming her elbow into the belly of the monster. As Aries’s attack hit, Pisces leapt over the red Cure, landing a fierce spin-kick on the Trou Noir’s torso.

The monster staggered from the attacks, stumbling backwards.

Virgo took this as her chance, her staff already in hand. “Pretty Cure Floral Strike!” she called out as the light shot forth from her staff, exploding into razor sharp petals…

…and the Trou Noir growled, the propellers on its arms cranking on. Fierce winds picked up and blew Virgo’s attack back at the group. Libra gasped, trying to shield herself – and then felt herself being yanked by her scarf. The girl’s eyes widened and she turned to the perpetrator.

Aries.

The red Cure smiled at Libra, watching as Libra was blown away from the other three girls. Ibuki, you have to be the one to save your dad.

And then there was an explosion.

Libra hissed in pain as she hit the ground hard, the purple Cure skidding against the pavement, but she immediately forced herself back to her feet, the girl horrified at the clouds of dust that had kicked up. “Guys?!” she hollered, and as the dust settled, she stared with wide eyes as her teammates and Usami were on the ground, clearly in deep pain.

“I-I’m sorry, I tried t-to shield it…” Usami coughed out, grimacing.

Virgo laughed weakly. “G-guess my attack’s s-stronger than I thought?”

Pisces coughed a little, managing a weak grin. “N-no kidding…”

“A-are you okay, Libra?” Aries still wore that same smile. “S-sorry I didn’t give you a heads up…”

Libra gritted her teeth, frustrated tears welling up in her eyes. She wanted to apologize for forcing the others to protect her – first her dad, now her friends! – but when the Trou Noir let out another bellowing roar, the girl steeled herself, hands clenching into trembling fists as she turned on her heel, her golden scarf billowing as she turned.

“Stop hurtin’ my friends.” she hissed, voice low.

The Trou Noir lunged at her.

“I said – ” Libra repeated, louder now, “ – stop hurtin’ my friends!”

When it swiped at her, Libra kicked the offending arm away – and then, while the monster was still leaned over, the purple Cure leapt on the monster’s arm, using the arm as a staircase of sorts.

“Stop attackin’ people!”

She punched now, hitting the Trou Noir’s neck as hard as she could. The monster bellowed in pain now, unsteady on its feet.

“Stop ruinin’ my date with my girlfriend! Stop ruinin’ my dad’s job!”

Libra leapt back, landing in front of the Trou Noir. As it stumbled, Libra circled around the monster, landing fierce kicks at the back of the monster’s knees before running out of the line of fire. The Trou Noir let out a noise of pain again, falling backwards with a loud thud. As it fell, Libra leapt high into the air.

“An’ most importantly…”

Her star brooch erupted with a purple light as she reached the highest point of her jump.

“Stop. Hurtin’. Everyone!”

A purple sword formed in Libra’s hands, the pommel designed as a scale of truth. A gold star engraved with the Libra symbol decorated the hilt as well. As Libra descended fast, she struck out with her sword, aimed to pierce whatever would hit it.

“Pretty Cure Aerial Assault!”

Her blade sank into the Trou Noir’s head as fierce gusts of wind battered the monster. There was a brilliant burst of purple light – and when it faded, the Trou Noir had vanished, leaving an unconscious Yoruto on the ground.

“Dad!” Libra cried out, detransforming as she hurried to her father’s side. Fearful tears welled in her eyes – which became tears of relief as she realized he was still breathing. The girl remained by his side, shaking as she struggled to process everything.

Sumire was the first to join her, hugging her girlfriend. “It’s okay.” she whispered. “He’s safe. He’s fine.”

Ibuki’s face scrunched up in anguish – and she burst into terrified sobs, crying into Sumire’s shoulder.

As Mei and Ushio joined to comfort Ibuki, Cebalrai watched from the shadows, an unreadable expression on her face, though there was an almost…relieved expression in her eyes. As she disappeared to return to the others, one thing was certain – time away from them hadn’t made sense of anything.

In fact, it just made her more confused than ever.



After the hectic events at the airport, Usami was glad for the silence that had settled over the Hidama household after Hirui had put the other to bed. Yoruto hadn’t questioned what had happened – Usami had a sneaking suspicion it might have been too traumatizing for him to process properly – and the rest of the date had, thankfully, gone without a hitch.

It would be easier to just dwell on that. It had been happy and fun, and Sumire and Ibuki had walked off from the date hand in hand, much to Kiyomi’s glee. But it wasn’t what Usami was thinking about.

With Ibuki’s fight, all four of the Cures had received their Zodiac Arms. They were stronger now, much more cohesive as a team. He wanted to be proud of them – he definitely was! But he also still remembered the words of the Serpens.

The week deadline was approaching. And if Marfik and Cebalrai’s appearances proved anything, it was that they were willing to do whatever was necessary to take Naori away. Not only that, but they still had power up their sleeves…

…it made him scared. He knew the team was strong – but were they strong enough to face the Serpens?

“Usami?” came Hirui’s hushed voice as she stepped into the kitchen.

Usami smiled gratefully at her from his spot at the counter. “Ruru-chan…”

“You’re worried about them too, aren’t you?” Hirui asked as she approached him, placing a gentle hand to Usami’s head.

Usami hesitated – then nodded once, frowning. “If there was someone who could train them, like Naminami or Mama, I wouldn’t be so worried, I think…”

Hirui fell silent. Then: “I’ll do it. I’ll train them.”

Usami blinked, about to ask how – only to see Hirui holding her Star Capsule, and the orange glow it produced.

“Pretty Cure! Star’s Blessing!”

A brilliant, orange light illuminated the kitchen. Usami could only stare in awe as the Cure before him slowly opened her now orange eyes.

“The fire star with the courage of a lion,” she declared, the words still second nature even after so long, “Cure Leo!”

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ED: "Across The Sky" – Claris feat. StarSHINE 5

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ON THE NEXT EPISODE:

Usami: You all have to train!
Ibuki: Yeah, we gotta protect Naori! We can’t let her fall into the Serpens grasp!
Ushio: Are we just training with each other though?
Sumire: I suppose we’ll have to.
Mei: …a-aah! G-guys, that’s…!
Girls: EHHH?
Usami: Next time on Starshine! Pretty ✰ Cure: We won’t lose! Fierce feelings means fierce training! Don't forget to make a wish next time too!
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