"Send in test subject one." Came the apathetic voice from over the intercom.
Homura, dressed in nothing but a white hospital gown, was led forward by two armed guards. She maintained her stationary upright posture as she walked, although her dark eyes darted all around. White walls, metal doors, and two-way mirrors. That is all her life had been for the last two weeks since she was first taken here.
The tiled floor felt cold against her bare feet. The fluorescent lighting annoyed her. It was too bright, and it let out a constant low buzzing sound. If she did not think about the buzzing she could not hear it, but when she did think about it, it was all she could hear. If she didn't know any better, she would think they had chosen that specific lighting just as another way to get into her head.
She, and the two armed guards who escorted her, stopped at a metal door. A camera stationed just above the door rotated and looked at them, the guard to her left put up a hand and waved. There were beeping sounds coming from somewhere inside the door, and it slid open with a hiss.
This door, just like all the others she had seen so far, was nearly a foot thick and seemed to be solid metal all the way through. She had some pipe bombs stored inside her shield space, but she doubted they would do any good. She had another type of bomb stored there that she knew for a fact would blow right through (plus a lot more), but it was still too early to take that drastic of a measure. For now, she had to just play it safe and let her enemy know as little about her as possible, all the while learning as much about them as she could. When the time was right, she would make her break and get out of here. She grinned; they had no idea who they were messing with.
The metal door led to a small room. Inside, there was not much to see. There was a mirror on the front wall, which she guessed would have a group of scientists sitting behind it. There was a table with small building blocks lying on top of it. On the floor there were two Xs - one made with red tape, the other made with blue. The walls, floor, and ceiling were all white, and there was that annoying buzzing of fluorescent light, just like everywhere else in this hellhole.
The guards stationed themselves on either side of the door. It beeped, hissed and it slid shut again. Homura stood, a few paces ahead of them, and looked around.
That same monotone voice came over the intercom, "Test Subject One: Homura Akemi, age fifteen." Then a pause, and "How are you doing today, Homura?" Homura was not exactly in the mood for pleasantries, so she didn't bother with a response. She just flung her hair back and looked over to the two way mirror with dark menacing eyes.
"If you would, please step over to the red X and stand facing the mirror." There was not much point in resisting this simple request, so she obeyed. This wasn't the first time they had brought her to a room like this, and the sooner she finished whatever ridiculous tasks they had in store for her, the sooner she would be able to go back to her room.
"Good. Now if you could, please transform your clothing." She stood there, in the white hospital gown, and just stared.
After a full minute of waiting the voice asked: "Is everything alright, Homura?" There actually was a reason why she would rather not transform. She didn't know how many people were sitting behind that glass, and for a few seconds within the transformation sequence she would be standing there stark naked. Well, not actually naked; for the most part she would be covered by that rainbow light, but it outlined her nude body perfectly enough that it did not leave much to the imagination.
How was she supposed to explain that, though? Well, she had already been here for two weeks, and if she knew anything about her enemy it was that they were persistent. She could go on standing there on that X and doing nothing for another five hours if she wanted, that stupid voice over the intercom would just keep asking over and over again until she finally obeyed. So, she felt for her power, and let herself transform. She did it with pride, she decided she would not huddle her arms over her chest and turn away like an embarrassed school girl. She was a Magical Girl, and this power meant she was something greater than an ordinary human, and that is how she would carry herself.
She put a hand over the center of her chest, where she kept her Soul Gem hidden, and suddenly her hair and the hospital gown started blowing as if there was some powerful source of wind in the room. The sleeves and hem of the gown tore away, dissipating and separating into the air until it was all gone and her entire body was nude and covered with light.
She stretched her arms out, and leaned backwards as her feet lifted off the ground. She floated a few inches in the air, her eyes closed and her hair blowing wildly. Black ribbons appeared and circled around her limbs and body, and pulled tight. With another burst of light the ribbons expanded and changed form. From her forearms, to her shoulders, to her body, to her legs, her Magical Girl uniform appeared.
When it was all over, her feet landed back on the ground softly. She was now wearing high-heeled shoes, black leggings, and a dress of purple and white. She opened her eyes, and continued staring at the mirror with her dark and heavy expression. There, you bastards. Did you enjoy the show? She could imagine them all sitting back there, with their notebooks, whispering back and forth about what they had just seen. She could only imagine how they would react if she showed them a true display of her power. No doubt the transformation alone was quite impressive for someone who had never seen magic before, but that was the lowest of the low. She wanted to keep a good portion of her power hidden from them, however.
"Thank you Homura, that's, quite impressive," said the voice. "Now, can you display your teleportation skill for us? If you would, please teleport over to the blue X."
The gears on her shield arm turned, and time stopped. She walked over to the blue X as she was asked, faced the mirror once again and resumed time. To the viewers it would have looked like she disappeared from the red X and reappeared on the blue X instantly. She thought it was funny that they thought she could teleport, although part of her figured that by now they had at least some inkling of the fact she was stopping time.
"Excellent!" said the voice, "Thank you for being so cooperative today, Homura. We have just one more test and then you can go back to your room. See the blocks sitting on that table over there? We would like you to rearrange the blocks, instantly, like we have seen you do before. If you could build a small tower with them or something like that, that would be best. Go on, give us a real display of your power."
A real display? She grinned, playing with blocks was not exactly a 'real display' of her power. She spoke out loud. "You want a real display of my power, huh?" Her dark eyes traced the two-way mirror back and forth. "Fine, you got it." She stopped time and walked over to the blocks. She smacked her hand across them, sending them flying, until they froze in mid-air. Then she walked over to the two guards who were standing by the door. "Sorry about this," she said to them, although she knew they could not hear her. She yanked the assault rifle out of one's hands and pointed it at his leg. She fire one bullet, which froze just as its tip made it to the surface of his skin. She turned the gun on the other guard and did the same thing.
Then she walked to the center of the room and pointed the gun at the wall opposite of the mirror. She carefully fired in quick bursts. She was spelling something out with the bullets, which froze just before hitting the wall. Having run out of ammo on the last word, she started taking the gun apart. She removed the clip, the slider, unscrewed the barrel, removed the handle and the firing pins. She laid all these parts neatly on the table where the blocks had once sat. Then she walked to the other guard and grabbed his gun from him.
She finished the last couple of letters on her little message, and walked back to the blue X. She stood there and pointed the rifle at the mirror. The true reason she did all this was partially to make a point, but that was only a very small part of it. The truth is she was hiding her true intentions by making her actions seem like those of a tantruming teenage girl. Her actual intention was to learn more about her enemy.
She wanted to know if the glass could be broken. It could be bullet-proof, but maybe it was not. If it wasn't, she wanted to see who was sitting behind it. How many of them were there? Were they old? Young? Were all of them scientists? Were some of them military? Also, was there a door on the other side of the glass she could get through without the use of a bomb? These were all things worth knowing, and she was not giving any information away about herself by doing this. She knew they had already gotten a good display of her power before even capturing her, so even with all of this she was only showing them things they already knew.
She held the rifle firmly, and resumed time.
Instantly, there were screams from the guards as they fell to the ground. There was a series of quick crashes as the bullets hit the wall and blew away parts of the concrete, spelling three words: "GO TO HELL" . The blocks fell to the ground and spun around amongst themselves before coming to a stop.
One of the guards screamed: "Sh-shit! Let me out of here!" as he clawed at the door.
Homura focused down the sight of her rifle, looking at herself in the mirror. She couldn't help but have a wide sardonic grin spread across her entire face.
"Homura. Release the weapon immediately, and calm down," said the voice over the intercom. "We'll forgive this outburst if you stop right now."
"You'll forgive me?" she said loudly, and steadied the gun. "I think you're the ones who need to start begging for forgiveness!"
She pulled the trigger and opened fire, spraying the bullets back and forth across the mirror. Each bullet cracked it with small spider webs of damage, but for the most part it held strong. She continued shooting anyway, thinking maybe enough fire would eventually blow it off, and she could get a good look at her enemy.
That did not happen, but a bullet must have ricocheted and hit one of the fluorescent lights on the ceiling, because the room started flickering. Black and white and black and white. With each flicker, Homura could see them. Although she only saw them as silhouettes through the cracked glass, it was enough to see them scurrying around in a panic. She felt satisfied. When the room flashed white, she could see herself in the cracked mirror, blood dripping from her forehead and running over her face, her eyes narrow, and her lips smiling.
Then, she felt that something hit her back and dug in, and she suddenly lost control of her body. She spun in an arc as she hit the ground, the assault rifle letting off its last rounds in a circle around the room as she fell. She lied on the ground, her body convulsing. It was one of the worst pains she had ever felt in her life. She could barely move a single finger, but somehow she managed to get her head up just enough to see two wires going from her back and leading to a small gun held in one of the guards' hands. A taser.
Her body gave off one more burst of distressed motion before falling limp, and she passed out. Her Magical Girl uniform disappeared, and she was once again wearing nothing but a white hospital gown.
The room they had her staying in was not terribly uncomfortable. It was big, to say the least. It was like having her own personal apartment. There was a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a living room. The living room came complete with a widescreen TV and a plethora of video games and movies to choose from. The fridge was pretty well-stocked, and she was told if there was anything else she wanted all she had to do was ask.
She had taken up drawing, as another way to pass the time. TV and video games could only keep her engaged for so long. Her art wasn't nearly as good as Madoka's, but looking back through the notebook she found that there was some obvious improvements from her first drawing to her last. Thinking about Madoka made her put her pen down, and lean back as she reminisced.
It wasn't fair. She had finally achieved an ending she was happy with, and still she did not get to be with Madoka. She knew poor Madoka was probably extremely worried about her right now. She did not even know if any of her friends knew what had happened to her. To them, it probably seemed like she had just disappeared without saying a single word to anyone. Or maybe they thought a witch had gotten her? Whatever the case, she hoped Madoka wouldn't be foolish enough to make a contract and wish for her safety. She didn't think she would, as she had done a good enough job explaining to Madoka why she could not become a Magical Girl under any circumstances, and she thought Madoka would listen.
If it did happen, and Madoka did become a Magical Girl, Homura supposed she could just rewind time again. Yes, that option would always be there, and if things got bad enough it would be worth considering. She didn't want to, though. After hundreds upon hundreds of failures she had finally gotten a satisfactory ending, and she would not throw it away unless absolutely necessary.
She could not remember much after her outburst in the test room. She remembered the taser, and then staring at the ceiling as it flickered black and white with her vision fading. She vaguely recalled being put onto a stretcher and carried through the hallway. She had woken up, and turned her head to one of the doctors who were carrying her. Then she felt a sharp pain at the side of her neck and everything went black again. When she woke up, she was lying on the bed they had provided her with in her 'apartment', and according to the clock several hours had passed.
She finished up her drawing and held it out. It was just a simple picture of a cat. She thought the tail looked a little bit distorted, and its paws were not quite right, but its face and body seemed spot-on. She wrote the word 'Amy' above the cat, in pretty cursive writing, and closed the notebook.
She got up from the kitchen table, and walked back over to the living room. She sat down on the couch and picked up the remote. She pointed it at the TV, and pressed the power button, but nothing happened. She pressed it again and again and thought 'What the hell?'. She stood up and tried to turn the TV on manually, but that did not work either.
'Oh... I get it.' she thought. She threw the remote down and walked to the giant metal door at the front of her little apartment. She looked up at the camera that was stationed there and yelled, "Hey! What the hell's wrong with the TV?" She stood there staring at the camera for a while without getting a response. "I know you can hear me!" After another minute of waiting, her eyes narrowed and she flung her hair back as she turned away. She grabbed a chair from the kitchen and brought it back to the camera holding it up high, posed to strike. She knew from experience that they really did not like it when she broke their cameras. "Going to talk now?" she asked one more time.
Then the intercom clicked on. It was not the same voice that she usually talked to. She supposed that the guy, whoever he was, was already off for the day. "It was decided that there needed to be some kind of punishment for your outburst in the test room today." Homura's eyes narrowed as she tensed her hands around the chair legs. "If there are no more issues with you over the next few days, your television privileges will be restored to you. That includes not breaking any of our equipment, Mrs. Akemi." This guy at least had a little more personality in his voice then the usual guy. Homura scowled, and lowered the chair. Instead of striking the camera, she just threw it against a wall. Then she went back to the living room and sat down on the couch with folded arms and an angry look on her face.
She had been here for just over two weeks now, and she was starting to go a tad stir crazy. Not having the TV made things a little worse, but whether or not she had television and games to play made little difference in her overall satisfaction of the situation she was in. She cursed herself for allowing this to happen.
After Walpurgis Night they had apparently been stalking her for quite a while. Luckily, she didn't team up with the other girls in that time, so their identities were not revealed as well. Still, she cursed herself for not noticing anything sooner. The thing is, she had never had to worry about something like that before. Of course, making a public display of her power by predicating the future and warning people about the upcoming disaster gave her a lot of attention. She should have known something like this might happen, and she should have prepared for it. Alas, she did not, and now that she was here she had to make the best of her situation and figure a way out of it.
She sat at the kitchen table, doing a puzzle. It was a one-thousand-piece puzzle, and she had been working on it for just over two hours now. She was only about half way done, but of course the second half of a puzzle was always the easiest. She joined a large section she had been working on to its place on the main piece when the intercom buzzed on.
"Homura," it said; it was the same monotone guy she was used to hearing. She decided to start referring to him as Dr. Mono.
"What do you want?"
"We have made a slight alteration to your schedule tonight. There is a psychologist coming into your room to meet with you. She should be there in about an hour. If you are cooperative and don't cause any trouble for her, we will return your TV privileges a day early."
Homura raised an eyebrow "Psychologist? Why are you even bothering with something like that?"
"We are trying to avoid another situation like what happened in the test room yesterday. Also, just for your information, the testing session we had planned for tomorrow has been postponed until we come up with more secure arrangements to test you under."
"Whatever," she said. "Is that all?" Dr. Mono did not bother saying anything else to her.
She went back to her bedroom and picked out some different clothes to wear. Right now she was just wearing sweatpants and a loose black shirt. She took the clothes to the bathroom, which is the only room that did not have a camera in it (at least one that could be seen), and she got changed. As long as she was stuck here, she figured there was no reason not to try and keep her appearance up, and at least maintain some of her dignity. When she was done changing, she made some tea for herself back in the kitchen and resumed working on her puzzle while she waited for this psychologist to show up.
She was well over a third of the way done when the intercom buzzed on again. "Homura," said Dr. Mono "Dr. Sakura will be coming in now."
Sakura? What a coincidence, Homura thought. Wasn't that also Kyoko's family name? Well, it was a common enough name, she supposed. She just hummed and continued working on her puzzle. She decided she would just give this psychologist the silent treatment. She hoped she would not stay for too long.
The front door beeped and hissed open. On Homura's first day here she had stopped time when that door opened, and tried to slip out. It seemed her enemy was smart enough to plan for that, though, because behind that door was just another identical steel door. Those two doors would never be opened at the same time, so it was impossible to slip out that way. Even if she did manage to get through the second door, just about every door in the hall that followed was the same, so escape was basically impossible.
Dr. Sakura came in, wearing a white overcoat and a notebook held in her arm, against her chest. She wore glasses and had her long red hair tied back in a pony tail. Funny, Homura thought, besides having the same family name as Kyoko she actually looked quite similar to her as well, almost as if she could be an older sister. Homura knew that was not that case, Kyoko only had a younger sister who had passed away. Perhaps a distant cousin? It was certainly possible.
"Hello," said Dr. Sakura. She stood a few feet back from Homura who was just staring at her. "You must be Homura Akemi. I'm so glad to get to meet you. May I take a seat?" Homura nodded.
Dr. Sakura sat down across from her and set down her notebook. "I had been trying to convince them to allow me to talk to you for a while now. I finally got them to agree after the incident that happened the other day. I suppose I should thank you for that." She smiled.
Homura raised an eyebrow. There was something strange going on here. It was something in the doctor's voice. "I'm Dr. Sakura. I hope we can be friends. Actually, if you like you can just call me by my personal name, Kay."
Kay? That name alone could also have been another coincidence, but the sudden grin that came over Dr. "K" Sakura's face said it all. Homura's eyes widened and her mouth dropped open.
Kyoko's eyes narrowed. "Now what could that mean?" It was clear she was actually trying to say "Don't blow my cover! You idiot!"