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The sky that hung over Lucente Bay was pitch black. Wherever the sun was, it couldn’t be seen anymore.

The trio couldn’t tell where the gash in the sky began and where the darkness ended - it was all the same endless color now, stretching as far as the eye could see and farther still - the three of them were certain the sky the entire world over was being poisoned with that same darkness. The inky black seas continued to rage, shadowy waters slamming against the shield that protected Lucente Bay and everyone in it. No matter how many times the shield held fast, the water didn’t stop, hammering against it, then clawing with deformed talons, then finally turning into a sea of monsters, hands beating against the barrier over and over.

The noise was unbearable. And as the monsters began to form from the living darkness, so too were the moans and shrieks. The darkness and monsters clamored against the shield, pushing against it, crawling higher and higher, until it was hard to tell where the sky began and the monsters ended.

Crack.

Rei saw it first. The hairline fracture forming in the shield, the pressure coming from the beachfront. Bit by bit, the crack trailed upwards, shallow but getting longer by the second, and all he could do was watch in growing horror -

Crack.

Celes took to the streets, throwing as many shields up as she could, protecting buildings and people, no matter how much it drained her to do so. Lucente Bay was her home, and her family’s home, and she wasn’t giving it up to anyone -

Crack.

Masao steadied his nerves as the cracks grew and splintered off, body alight with magic. A shield of light in one hand and sword of the same in the other, he stood in the park, steadying his breathing. In. Out. In. And out again. He was ready, ready as he’d ever be -

Crack.

It happened in the blink of an eye - one moment, the shield was straining, and the next, it had finally given out, shattering under the weight and the continued assault against it. There was a loud, ghastly groan as darkness and Trou Noir alike flooded onto the island from all sides, all with a single objective - to destroy anything in its path.

And with only Rei, Celes, and Masao there to protect it, it was just a matter of time.

---

OP: "Shooting ★ Star!!" – StarSHINE 5
EPISODE 27 - "Sacrifice! A star’s wish!"

---

The second the scream left Hirui’s mouth, she could hear laughter. All around her, there was a cacophony of noise, echoing off walls that didn’t exist, vibrating in ways that shouldn’t have been possible. Frightened and alone, mind still whirling, Hirui gripped the Star Pact tighter, the warmth under her fingertips enough to clear her head at least a little. Fear giving way to anger and with tears in her eyes, she took a shaky breath. “Give them back!” she snarled. ”Give them back!”

Again, there was only laughter that rumbled the ground beneath her feet. ”Or what?” came Omega’s response, echoing against its mocking laughter.

“GIVE THEM BACK!” Hirui only shouted again, dropping to her knees as she banged her fists against the darkness beneath her, her movements equal parts futile and furious. She screamed as it did nothing, tears of misery streaking down her cheeks, though it did nothing to sate the fire in her heart. In the ensuing bout of laughter, the woman continued to bang her fists until they were sore, punching at the ground until her knuckles began to bleed. Hands aching, she took deep breaths, tears dripping onto the ground.

”There’s nothing you can do, you failure of a Cure.” Omega said, its voice echoing all throughout the cavernous darkness - yet somehow, it was also hushed, as if it was also being said directly into Hirui’s ears.

Hirui gripped the Star Pact again, movements clumsy but with purpose. “Give them back,” she said in a ragged voice, “or I destroy it.”

The Void went silent all at once. Something rumbled under Hirui’s feet - and then a tendril of darkness shot out at her. The woman’s eyes went wide - and then the Star Pact flashed with light, forming a bubble shaped shield around her. The tendril ricocheted off the barrier, leaving Hirui safe inside, even when Omega growled in frustration and tried to attack again.

“Thank you,” Hirui whispered to the Pact. It glowed in response, and the woman wondered if it was Altair controlling it or something else.

”I shouldn’t be surprised that the failure who hid away before is doing the same again.” Omega said, a cruel edge to its voice. ”But I am a gracious host, even in the face of a failed Cure. Shall I show you how they’re faring?” And before Hirui could respond, something in the darkness shifted, hazy images beginning to form.

Aries, getting knocked back and forth with blasts of fire, just before being hurtled into a wall with such force that the wall exploded.

Pisces, struggling to fight off an advance, only to be slammed into a rockbed, a torrent of energy blasting into her.

Virgo, frantically trying to get back to her feet, only for a tree to get swung at her, the gold Cure screaming as she arced high into the air.

Libra, pinned down and punched repeatedly, the purple Cure desperately protecting her face the best she could, before being picked up by her star shaped brooch.

Ophiuchus, worn down and bleeding, barely able to stand, just before being blasted off her feet by another wave of darkness.

Usami, throwing up shields as quickly as they were destroyed and torn apart, making a misstep and getting a swift uppercut to the stomach, just before a powerful blast sent him careening into the nothingness.

“STOP IT!” Hirui begged, heart racing with fear. “They’re just children! Please!

In response, Omega only chuckled, before the hazy images became clearer. “Give up.” came the voice of the five Shadow Cures and the fake Ursa, Omega’s sinister voice ringing through each of them.

The response came in an instant, all six as one: “No.”

The Star Pact pulsed in Hirui’s grasp as it resonated with the six, but she couldn’t feel it, nor could she really hear the way Omega snarled in displeasure. Instead, the woman focused solely on the six of them - so resolute in their unified response - and marveled at their bravery.



As the dust and smoke cleared, Aries had willed herself to her feet, no matter how much her body hurt, no matter how much it felt like she might not get up again. It would be so easy to give up, she realized - but it wasn’t something she would ever forgive herself for. To come all this way and give up at the end? No. Her team was counting on her. Her family was counting on her. The entire world rested on their shoulders. That - well, that was what being a leader was, wasn’t it?

“I won’t. We made the right choice, and I’m not scared to give it all here.” Aries said, as candles flared to life, the chandelier above them lighting itself in a brilliant display. The warmth in the room invigorated her and her body hurt less, a red glow enveloping her body. “But the only one losing today is you!”

And there, on the beach, Pisces swayed as she stood, only laughing at the notion of giving up. Her? Give up at anything? Impossible. Determination defined her existence. Whatever she wanted, she had worked for, no one had ever successfully driven her off from anything, and it sure as hell wasn’t going to start now.

“I can’t. See, this is why I’m not cut for leading, too competitive and short-sighted.” Pisces said with a sigh of amusement and a shrug, the storm coming to a stop as the waves settled, a blue glow setting her form alight. “If you’re gonna stop me, it’s gonna be over my dead body!”

Though Virgo couldn’t hear her friends and their resolve, she could feel it, just as much as she could feel her own. So much in her life had changed since becoming a Pretty Cure - she had grown so much, making friends, becoming braver - and to give up now would just be a disservice to everything she had worked for.

“I refuse. Not for myself - but for all the people that love me, and all the people I love in turn.” Virgo declared, as grass began to sprout under her feet, spreading all throughout the forest she was in, flowers blooming in abundance as a golden aura radiated from her. “Prepare yourself!”

It was the resolve in Libra’s eyes that had made her shadow drop her, the purple and black clad girl recoiling as if burned. It hadn’t taken much for Libra to get to her feet from there, the Cure taking a moment to crack her knuckles. Had she really thought about running away? It was hard for her to believe it - especially when only one choice was clear.

“Ain’t gonna. The way I figure it, bein’ a hero isn’t ‘bout the glory. It’s about fightin’ even though you’re terrified.” Libra said, the fierce winds giving way to a gentle breeze as purple light illuminated her body. “So what if ‘m scared, I’ll still take you out!”

Even though Ophiuchus’s body burned and her healing couldn’t keep up with the rapid-fire assault of her shadow, she could still stand, even amidst her shadow’s screams to just stay down once and for all. As she stood, she remembered before, when she had been on the other side of this - and she remembered the person that had taken her hands all those years ago too. It made Ophiuchus pity her shadow, just a bit, but it only highlighted something much more important.

“Not anymore. The regrets I have and the things I’ve done, they’re things I’ll carry with me forever. But they made me who I am.” Ophiuchus said, as the dark void she was in began to fill with light and stars, the Cure beginning to shine with green light. “I’ll stop you here and now!”

Usami, however, met the question with a fierce glare. He wasn’t a Pretty Cure, only a guardian, sent to protect and mentor them. The past had changed him just like it had changed Hirui - but one thing was for certain, he had never believed in giving up. Even when he faltered, even when he was sad, it had always been a constant. He was their guide, and hope was his own guide, and the idea of turning his back on that was something Usami couldn’t conceive.

“I never did. The fact we’re all here is proof of that! And I know they all feel the same!” Usami declared, an aura of white light shining from him as he placed a hand to the brooch on his chest. “We won’t lose to you!”

And again, with all six as one: ”Now, get out of my way!”



As each of them made their declarations, the Star Pact had grown more and more vibrant - and at Usami’s last words, the inside of Hirui’s shield had turned a brilliant white, a blinding beacon against the darkness. Hirui herself didn’t understand what was happening, the woman only letting out a sharp gasp - and when the light faded, she found herself in an empty void of white. It should have felt oppressive and alien, but it didn’t - instead it was warm and welcoming, as if she was visiting an old friend.

Just as she was getting her bearings, there was the faint sound of sobbing. Hirui tensed, more out of alarm, but just as she readied to defend herself, the source of the voice came into view.

It was her. A much younger version of her, to be exact. A ten year old Cure Leo sobbed and cried in front of her, wailing as she mourned her fallen friends.

Hirui’s heart wrenched in her chest. How many times had she woken the same way? How many years had it been? Too many to count, and too much pain to put on a scale. Without thinking, she hurried to her younger self’s side. “It’s going to be okay.” she said, placing a hand to her other self’s shoulder.

“It’s not!” Leo protested, sobbing more. “I didn’t do anything to help! It’s all my fault!”

That made Hirui’s heart twist too. Even now, she couldn’t be sure it wasn’t all her fault. As the woman struggled for the best way to comfort the distraught girl, a new voice spoke up.

“Ruru-chan, it’s not like you to be such a worrywart!”

Hirui turned, eyes wide. Cure Scorpio stood before her, the same toothy grin she remembered etched on her face. “...Mizuno-san…?” she murmured, eyes welling up with tears.

Scorpio laughed, reaching over to ruffle Hirui’s hair. “Thought I told you t’call me Nami.” she said, voice catching as she began to tear up too. Wordlessly, the two hugged tight and when they parted, Scorpio was still grinning, even if it looked watery and strained. “You gave them up, didn’t you? Your powers.”

Hirui looked away, ashamed. “I’m sorry. The Queen said they’d be stronger with more power split between them and I...” she trailed off, uncertain. “...they’re the future.”

“They are, ain’t they?” Scorpio asked, looking past Hirui, towards the distraught Leo, before looking at Hirui again. “It’s funny, you grew up and I...we’re all kinda stuck, y’know?” she laughed, and gestured outwards, where her fellow fallen Pretty Cure appeared. “Those four girls and Ophiuchus, they all got new lives, yanno? And we...” her voice broke a little, eyes shining with tears. “...we...”

“Nami, please - ” Hirui tried to protest, but Scorpio only shook her head.

“They’re the future.” Scorpio said, voice thick. “And for the future to move on, it means we gotta let go of the past. That goes for you too, Ruru-chan.” she said, gesturing to the crying Leo. “It’s time to stop blamin’ yourself, yanno? None of us do.”

“So...this is goodbye…?” Hirui whispered, voice small. It couldn’t be goodbye, she had just gotten to see them again, she couldn’t just - she wouldn’t just -

“Not just yet.” Scorpio’s smile didn’t break, even if her heart was already doing so. “There’s something we gotta do first, and we’re gonna need you and the Pretty Cure to help to see it through. Isn’t that right, Your Highness?”

A new form appeared - a very familiar King Altair, looking no different than when Hirui had seen him on Via Lactea. His words came out in a rush: “I know where my son is.”



[eyecatch 1 – A photo album opens up, showing several pictures. The first is the five girls at the park with Mei taking the lead, and the next is Sumire and Ibuki holding hands, with Ushio teasing them. Usami and Naori chase a butterfly in the fourth picture, and the last is the five girls and Usami taking a picture against the sunset sky, grins on all their faces. The photo album closes as the Starshine logo appears in the corner.]

[eyecatch 2 – Aries holds her hand out, a small piece of a star appearing in her hand, red in color. She passes the star piece to Pisces, who adds a blue star piece. Virgo and Libra add two star pieces, gold and purple in color, and the star bounces over to Ophiuchus, who adds the last star piece in green. The star turns white and flashes brightly, a starry backdrop appearing. The five Cures and a human Usami pose in front of it as the Starshine logo appears in the corner.]



The shield protecting Hirui shattered.

Omega had taken it as an opportunity to strike - only to let out a howl of pain as the light inside of the shield hadn’t let up, merely becoming an impenetrable pillar of light. Somewhere in there, the Star Pact was there - and so was Hirui.

“Your light show doesn’t scare me!” Omega shouted as tendrils rose from the darkness, each shooting at the pillar of light. Nothing could get close enough, shadows turning into dust as they got close, and Omega howled in frustration. “You won’t win with that pathetic display!”

Hirui floated within the light, eyes pure white as she channeled the Star Pact’s power through her. ”Winning is what the Pretty Cure are here for.” she said, voice echoing as her seven fallen teammates and Altair spoke through her. The light pulsed, glowing brighter and brighter as the darkness began to pull away from it.

It was only a little further now, at least based on what Altair had said. The light allowed her to see through it all, through everything Omega was trying to hide. She could see the five Pretty Cure overpowering their shadow selves, with Usami doing the same with the fake Ursa, and she could see past the Void entirely, where the trio were fighting on earth. She longed to help them, to lend some of the power towards them here and now - but Altair and Scorpio had been clear in the plan.

They had one chance to do this right.

There! came Altair’s voice from within her, directing Hirui’s sight to the very core of Omega, where a sphere of darkness was. The pillar of light surged with energy in response and Hirui took a deep breath, just before it fired from her, an arrow of light piercing through the darkness, blasting past the attacks Omega had tried to use - and it hit its target, a resounding crack echoing everywhere as a wave of light and power surged in and out of the Void.

As the power left Hirui’s body, she clutched the Star Pact to her chest as she fell, the Star Pact’s power protecting her once more as a bubble shield formed to keep her and the Pact safe. The world around Hirui grew hazy, her own body heavy and weak from the amount of power coursing through her. But as she closed her eyes, she smiled, content.

She had done her part.

It was up for the Pretty Cure to do the rest.



There were Trou Noir everywhere.

No matter how many they destroyed, more rose from the darkness that blanketed the island, each new monster just as feral as the last. There was nowhere to hide, the three of them had been lucky enough to regroup and keep each other in their sights - however, it was becoming increasingly apparent this wasn’t a fight they could win.

A resounding crack echoed against the sky, making the three of them look up in alarm. The last time they’d heard that noise, the shield had broken - and as determined as they were, each knew they couldn’t take any more fighting.

But there wasn’t another shield breaking. Instead, it was something different - a brilliant light streaking across the sky, coming from the place the Pretty Cure had disappeared into. The Trou Noir stilled, seemingly confused at the turn of events and Rei readied to go on the offensive - then had to stop in confusion as well.

There was a trail of black and red butterflies.

And then, before Rei and the others could question that, two girls simply appeared, the butterflies blinking out of existence as they did so. One was pale and dressed in purples and blacks, the lilac bow around her waist ringing lightly from the bells attached to the bow tails. Her hair was a stark white, covered by the black hood she wore, and her eyes were red - or eye, rather, as her right eye was covered by an eyepatch in the shape of a purple rose. The other was tan and dressed in reds and whites, the pink scarf she wore billowing outward like a cape. Her hair was black and her eyes a bright blue, the complete opposite of the other girl she’d appeared with.

“The maiden of one path, Cure Styx!” the girl in purples and blacks announced.

“The maiden of three paths, Cure Sanzu!” the girl in reds and whites announced.

“Pretty Cure River’s Cleansing!” the two said moments afterwards, hands joined. The torrent of magic water that shot from their joined hands tore through a swath of Trou Noir with laughable ease. The friendlier of the two, Sanzu, turned to properly introduce she and her partner to the utterly baffled trio - just as another Trou Noir rose from the darkness, ready to strike them all down -

“Pretty Cure Ink! Rainbow Wave!”

- only to be taken out by a brilliant wave of color, clearing the surrounding area. The girl that landed was dressed in blues and blacks, a prominent butterfly on her chest. Her hair was a bright yellow, wavy in a way that reminded Rei of Ibuki, and her eyes were a bright blue, like the sky.

“...Kousei-san?” Celes asked.

The blonde girl only laughed. “Nope! But good, you DO know my cousin!” she grinned. “I’m Cure Ink! Me and my team - ” she gestured out, where four other Pretty Cure, along with two others, were fighting against the Trou Noir, “ - we’re here to help!”

Rei, Celes, and Masao just stared.

And if Ink thought the looks on their faces were funny, she kept that to herself. “Uwaah, who are you?” she asked as she looked at Sanzu and Styx.

It was Styx who spoke up, the ghost of a smile on her lips. “Just passing-through Pretty Cure.” she said with a curtsy.

Ink just grinned wider, triumphant even amidst all the fighting. “I’ll remember that!” she said with a mock-salute, then addressed the trio once more. “Don’t you worry - the cavalry’s here!”



”Now, get out of my way!”

The light that had burst from each of them was enough to completely destroy their opponent. Their surroundings cracked and splintered - but it was a wave of light that broke them free, though as it passed through them, something changed. As the light faded away, the six found themselves in the same place they’d started in and with a wordless cry, hugged each other, happy to see each other safe and sound.

Usami broke away first, gasping as he realized what had changed. “How did you…?” he asked, gesturing wildly to the five Cures. “Radiant Form?!”

Aries blinked, not understanding, then looked down at herself. Sure enough, her outfit was different now - she wore a high necked white dress decorated with bright red frills, a pleated skirt of dark red underneath that, and pale red ribbons around her waist, clasped with a silver star. There was no longer a chest ribbon, merely a silver shaped brooch, decorated with the five colors of her team at the edges, dark red ribbons trailing from her brooch. The cape that she normally wore in her Cure form was longer now, reaching to her knees. Instead of arm-warmers, she now wore elbow-length white gloves, lined in red at the ends and at the wrists in a v-shape. Her stockings remained the same, though lacked the frills of her normal form, and her shoes had been replaced with white boots in a similar style to her gloves, the toes decorated with silver stars. Her hair had changed little, only expanding into bigger curls, and a star shaped halo floated above her head, silver in color.

This, she realized, had to be Radiant Form. She looked up at the others and they had similar outfits - not exact, of course, there were small differences. Pisces didn’t wear stockings, Libra and Virgo only matched each other, Ophiuchus’s cape had shortened instead of growing longer...

“Wait, where’s Ruru-chan?” Usami asked, terror coloring his voice. Frantically, the six looked around - and in the distance was a flash of light, an unconscious Hirui sprawled against the darkness, still clutching the Star Pact to her. Aries let out a cry, racing to her mother’s side.

“Mama?!” she asked as she shook Hirui, to no effect. Stomach running cold, she checked for a pulse - and sobbed in relief. She was still breathing, just…

“The hell happened?” Libra asked.

“Omega must have done something to her!” Pisces growled.

Virgo shook her head. “He would have taken the Star Pact. Hidama-san must have done something.”

“That light...” Ophiuchus murmured, as her gaze fell on the Star Pact. Gently, the girl took it from Hirui’s hands - and then gasped as it began to glow, warm under her fingertips. It shimmered briefly - and then shot out a beam of light, leading them farther into the darkness.

For a long moment, the group was silent.

“Usami,” Aries said at last, “you can make a shield to protect her, right?” And when Usami nodded, Aries took a deep breath. “Then let’s go. Whatever mama did, we can’t let it go to waste. We have a promise to keep.” she gazed at her team. “Ready?”

Everyone nodded. Usami cradled Hirui to him, while the five Cures placed their hands over the Star Pact. In an instant, a bubble of light encased the group and it sped into the unknown.

It was always darkest just before the dawn.

And if Omega was the darkness, then the Pretty Cure would be the brilliant light of dawn.

---

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

---

ON THE NEXT EPISODE:

Aries: Everything we’ve fought for, everything we’ve experienced - it all builds up to this! Next time, on the finale of Starshine! Pretty ✰ Cure: Hope is the brightest star of all! Starshine! Pretty ✰ Cure! Everyone, we love you all so much!

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Starshine! Pretty ✰ Cure

May 2017

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