All Kohaku could do was stare in awe as, one by one, her colleagues took on their own magical girl transformations. Much more impressive and elaborate ones than her own, no less. "Hata...?" She slowly approached the green-haired, deeply tanned young woman. She could see the vague resemblance in facial structure to the kindly old geography teacher, but that was quite the drastic change - and Hata wasn't the only one who'd de-aged. Miss Harper flipped over the fallen backpack to reveal a younger, smaller Amber. "You're not hurt, are you?" Kohaku asked, bending into a slight crouch, noting the lack of stiffness in her back from night after night hunched over a desk. Magic, it seemed, was the ultimate age care.
Shinobu, decked in an elaborate floral hat and monochrome striped cloak, panicked right away about falling to the dark side. "I doubt anyone with that substitute teacher positivity thing would fall from grace so fast," Kohaku tried to reassure her colleague.
"No need to worry!" Lux confirmed, rather unconvincingly given the fact that they'd all ended up in the middle of a nightmare sequence. "Different magical girls just get different outfits!"
Izumi's costume wasn't exactly standard magical girl fare either, being a skintight sci-fi style bodysuit that brought a blush to Kohaku's face. She averted her eyes, hoping Izumi hadn't noticed, only for her mouth to fall open at the sight of Aiko. It was unmistakeably her - same face, same voice - yet that punk rock getup, with the attitude to match, was not something Kohaku would ever have associated with the mellow music teacher.
Just as radical was Sakura's transformation, lightning sparking around her as she stood. Yes, stood, no wheelchair in sight. With a laugh and a spin, Sakura lost her balance. Before Kohaku could head over, Andrew was on it, helping her up while cracking a joke, albeit a rather unsettling one about pharmaceutical companies. As well as he meant, Kohaku couldn't be sure that was helpful right now.
Close by him stood Emiko, sporting rainbow-coloured hair and eyes, swinging a giant paintbrush. Red paint arced through the air, turning into an energy blast that Kohaku narrowly dodged. "Ah! That's impressive and all, but... Be careful!" She watched as it collided with one of the bizarre stalls, obliterating it in a burst of burning splinters.
"Yes!! You've got this!" Lux, seemingly oblivious to the near-miss, twirled and fist-pumped the air. "Now let's go! As for how you use your powers, you'll have some sense of how they work right away! And this is a good chance to figure out the finer details!"
"But... Wait!" No, she didn't, was all Kohaku could think as she followed Lux through the chaos, her steps strangely fluid despite her less than practical shoes. "Elaborating on that would sure be helpful right now."
She came to an abrupt stop at the sight of a large stage at the end of the field, just like the one in the school hall, only with ragged curtains that opened to reveal... Kohaku stepped back, gripping her spear. A giant doll-like figure, with plastic-looking jointed limbs and a tattered school uniform, hunched over the group, a mountain of stalls piled onto its shoulders as it juggled several fireballs. No, not fireballs - burning items. A large notebook. A soccer ball. A chalkboard eraser. A festival-style lantern. All of which illuminated the unmoving form at the back of the stage, limbs bound in shadow tendrils like a spider's web. He was translucent, as if immaterial and fading, but Kohaku's heart sank as she recognised him right away.
"Watanabe-san..." The name came out in a shaky whisper. Her suspicion had been correct. "Don't you dare hurt Watanabe!"
The wraith, its face cracked and worn away, gave an eerie laugh that juddered through Kohaku's bones. "I'll do what I like for once!" Its voice, however distorted, was clearly Watanabe's. "Do this, do that! I'm sick of living on everyone else's terms! Sick of taking on the weight of the world! Sick of it sick of it sick of it! Ahahahaha!!" His laugh took on a panicked, desperate tone as he flung the blazing notebook at Kohaku.
Snapping back into action, Kohaku pulled out of the way, bringing her free arm up to shield her eyes from the fiery glow - which instantly dimmed. She gaped as the notebook hung there in midair, half-open and completely still. Even the flames no longer flickered, stationary as a film scene on pause, their former brightness now a dull sepia tone. Just as she processed what she'd done, time resumed for the book once more, sending it darting like a shooting star through the mockery of a festival.