The shadow's voice failed to reach Kazumi's ears as he hacked away at the witch's disgusting figure. With a pained expression, she slashed horizontally and aimed for the witch's «», which she immediately recognized as one of the weak points of the hideous figure. Green blood-like fluids sprouted out of the witch, weakened by the fact that the sword Kazumi used pierced through and through. She took 4 steps backward, and studied her still exhausted Soul Gem.
The shadow inside Kazumi sighed, "Always so cryptic."
"… It's not like I don't care," her empty eyes were proof of her real emotions, even though she was smiling. "It's that… some things shouldn't be known yet."
Kazumi's ever empty eyes diverted towards the void. Where was she looking? Was she looking at the wall? She didn't stop staring at 'it'; scratch that, she couldn't. With eyes as straight and as assertive as someone who has seen a God, the God who has caused everything in the world from start to finish, she continued to stare back at it with a stern face. With her sense of certainty, she was sure enough that her own gaze went beyond the wall itself, and beyond the world itself. As if she was looking at someone… as if … she was looking at …
"Oi, who are you looking at?" The shadow snapped. Exerting what little force it had to push Kazumi away from the witch's slimy hand slap, the shadow's real figure almost got slingshot from the safe confines of Kazumi's shadow.
Kazumi diverted her eyes back at the witch as she gave the last strike with her red light saber, piercing through its body.
"I can't blame you," Kazumi shrugged, as the barrier continually blurred, leaving behind a Grief Seed, whose logo at the top represented a medical capsule, similar to the ones in medicine and prescription. "No one will understand that… only she did."
Within the last second, the green mucous-covered tubes disappeared completely, replaced by the busy streets. People, oblivious of the girl that had appeared right at the center, continued their trance-like walk through the seemingly mundane scenery. However, the cars, just at the center of the road ahead, jerked and swung away from her as they made an abrupt break, nearly hitting the pedestrian side.
"Hey!" the driver got out of his seat and, on a fit, stomped back at the road. "Don't just stay there, damnit!"
However, the girl whom he had nearly hit… was already gone.
(Play Luminous ~1:30 version~)
"Magical Girls exist,"
"I've pretty much mapped everything in this city."
Hikari's words were rather a refreshing twist in the endlessly noisy streets of San Francisco. She flung a screen of some sort from her finger, making its way to Mami's hands. She quickly examined the map with utter dissatisfaction and simply heaved a sigh. Yuma took the opportunity to look at what Mami was looking at, taking a peek from the bottom. Minna simply continued to drag the other Pleiades Saints down into a corner, just near a door.
"I appreciate the work."
Homura, with a voice as flat as the ground, turned her back from the girls and into the wide array of skyscrapers. The endless horizon of skyscrapers kept Homura from looking at the ground, and seeing the hundreds of people in the streets living their petty lives in blind, yet safe ignorance. She felt the air, which had been a mix of the sea breeze and the endless car exhaust, with a diluted concentration of nicotine. The bright dark citrine moon, tainted by the city, surrounded by smoky grey clouds, simply served to further confirm the ignorance of man. With a grazed look, her eyes got ahold of a girl, jumping off through the rooftops of the skyscrapers. Looking back at the mentally fatigued Kanna, and back at the girl, she finally made up her decision, dashing off through the skyscraper rooftops.
"Akemi-san where are you-" Mami almost bit her tongue. "She's already off."
"Heh," Kyouko replied with a shrug. "I don't know what that girl is thinking, ya know?"
"Well, Homura's himself," Sayaka bitterly laughed. "It's not, unlike before, as if she's in any way an enemy now."
The two saw the girl dashing off, jumping from one skyscraper to the other with an astonishingly bullet-like speed, chasing the girl around the horizon. Mami was ready to run after her, only to be stopped midway by the young petite hand of Yuma. She shook her head, as if asking not to follow her. In the end, the yellow-ribbon girl reluctantly sat down and heaved a heavy sigh.
"So, that girl?" Mami pointed to the girl Homura saved. "She looks like a mahou shoujo… what happened to her?"
"She looks quite desolate," Yuma pointed out the obvious.
As the others tried looking at the broken bird, goose bumps covered their faces. Kyouko was especially turned off by her inexpressively silent chanting. Yuma couldn't figure out what was wrong either, being a healer and all. Sayaka just simply kept her face away from everyone for some reason, and Mami, despite being the big sister type, couldn't even see through the girl's eyes, as if she was instinctively avoiding her. Hikari and Minna's faces turned away from the girl, mostly filled with disdain, the former focusing on the Search and Rescue Magical Girls mission. Mai teleported the Pleiades Saints to a safe place (most likely an abandoned large freezer), although, with Yuma around, she'd think it would eventually be unnecessary, and eventually started teleporting girls as prescribed by Hikari – yet a perfect example of how she doesn't care about people anyway. It was wondrously ironic how they were still doing their job quite well, despite the announcement from the MGE, which would have then alerted every puella magi right now to abandon the ship – the home called Japan.
"Akemi-san loves bringing in lost cases, does he?" Kyouko bitterly grinned.
"Lost cases, huh?" Mami pondered the thought, as she continued on studying the map.
Homura's figure teleported right in front of the girl she had chased for too long. Without her noticing, she was already at the top of a long dark red suspension bridge. The wind vigorously waved upon the two unaffected mahou shoujos, who would simply threat it as a fresh breeze. She turned around. Her hair, with her cape suddenly uncovered with the wind, fluttered with a mix of black and pink in the bright citrine moon. Her face, painted with a pained expression, suddenly hid it and smiled.
"Hm?" The girl, Kazumi Sakura, shrugged. "Homura-ch… Akemi-san? Was our fight that dissatisfying?"
"How did you get here?" Homura asked, with a partially stern, partially calm tone.
"Don't be such a fool, H … Akemi-san," Kazumi shrugged, giving a sarcastic smile. "… you know I have the power to copy all powers, right? You should know how I copied Mai's power."
Both Kazumi and Homura's hair fluttered as the strong wind passed through the two figures. Within seconds, Kazumi had gotten over from one pillar to the next – near Homura Akemi.
"I should be the one demanding here." Homura displayed her intentions quite clearly. "And you should know that you don't really copy powers. You simply create fake ones that function much like the real one."
"Isn't that one and the same?" Kazumi entered the philosophical mode, and turned her back on the girl to the wide river. "When there's no distinction between the real and the fake, aren't they all but the same in the end?"
Are 'fake' and 'real' two sides of the same coin? If it was, then what would the witches be? Isn't it part of the reality that the world so says it's a simple fantasy? Would the endless despair be fake then? Would this so-called 'fake' simply just be what you wished everything to be, turning out to be true in the end? There will always be two sides of this coin, dubbed reality. Fantasy is not reality. If reality is the coin and fantasy is the tails, what would be the heads? One word will only come to mind: truth. So, then, it should be the other way around: the real and the fake are two sides of the same coin called Reality. So, then what is Fantasy? And what is Truth?
"Even still," Homura regained her composure, and locked gazes with Kazumi. "I can defeat anyone if I really want to, including you."
Kazumi tilted her head, frowned, and stepped closer to Homura. "Don't I have the same ability as yours now?"
"I know my and your own weakness." Homura rebutted. "It should be enough to defeat you."
"And I know yours." Kazumi teleported right at her back, and took a step forward.
"In that case, we don't need to fight, do we not. If we really can defeat each other, shouldn't we have done it back at Asunaro City?" Homura stared at Kazumi, and, sensing her emotions, calmly deactivated the light saber, placing it back at the shield. "I just want the Soul Gems of the Pleiades Saints."
"Oh!" Kazumi slammed her petite fist into her right hand. "You mean that, huh?"
Homura didn't respond, and neither did the unending breeze. She took the time to study her stature, and locked her eyes again on Homura's.
"Oi, Homura-chan…" Kazumi's expression turned serious. "Do you have ANY idea why I took their gems?"
"Other than luring me?" Homura's expressionless demeanor remained unfazed. "No."
Kazumi teleported right in front of Homura, near the edge of the pillar they stood on. Despite knowing that the distance between stepping into the wide river and the red lump of iron is effectively almost non-existent, Kazumi carelessly hopped and skedaddled without a care.
"Oi, oi," Kazumi giggled. "This actually seems quite fun. No wonder you always used this nifty ability."
Homura's fist clenched for a second, "Get straight to the point."
Homura finally showed a surprised expression as she heard those unexpected words. What could she be apologizing for – everything?
"I've…" Kazumi paused, and bowed. "…actually never been happier than when you came along. I've hated Kyubey and their sadistic system for so long… I had forgotten this part of myself. I've forgotten to be happy. I've forgotten… who I was supposed to protect. No, scratch that. I've forgotten why was I supposed to protect, and hid myself in hatred for so long…"
Kazumi gazed at Homura yet again, this time with eyes of guilt.
"You," Kazumi deduced. "…have lost your old self, haven't you? You should know what I feel."
Homura continued to her listen to her senseless monologue without a single word or thought.
"Anyway," Kazumi started balancing herself against the thick steel cords. "You should know what I did right about now. I used the Pleiades Saints to create the 13th Kazumi of Asunaro City to take a risky gamble. I used my own powers as a power-up to Asunaro's Kazumi, and thus had gained total independence. Funny, Kanna had to come along. It's a good thing I used my powers to fake Nico's death, something she absolutely did not expect. Now…?"
Kazumi materialized Nico's Soul Gem out of nowhere.
"I don't know what to say to her." Kazumi frowned. "If you think you can do it, you take care of her."
She threw the moderately tainted Soul Gem up in the air, getting caught by Homura's careful hand.
"Umika and the others?" Homura calmly asked.
"I'm afraid I can't do that, at least not yet." Kazumi's voice faded. "…they're probably quite mentally unstable right now, because of what I did…"
Homura finally understood her situation, even was just a little. She wasn't just a girl who had lost her family. She hated the system, with all her might. She hated that every magical girl would become witches. She hated that, how powerful her powers are, she will never be able to surpass the pressing law Kyubey had implemented for so long… but now he's gone. The bastard she cursed for so long was gone. I wonder what she would have thought. Was it something in her eyes that seek to actually seek salvation in this wretched system? Did she finally realize that she can now rest in peace knowing that there's a certain someone who has a clear definite plan of turning the situation around? She knew that one thing that would have easily swallowed her whole into a witch: nothing was permanent in this world.
"…but" Kazumi continued. "…If you can convince Nico to help. Maybe it's possible. Call me when that happens."
As Homura nodded back, both figures disappeared without a trace.
"Oriko?" Homura's straight expression slightly changed. "I thought you'd be dead? Or so I would say if I was the old Homura."
"Ara~ Homura-san…" Oriko smiled. "Good, good, you're here already…"
With a surprising twist, Homura found herself suddenly in front of Oriko, as if she, indeed, waiting for her all this time. Judging from her looks, she had stayed here for a month, already familiar to the place. She was in her nostalgic white magical girl costume, something she hasn't seen for quite a long time.
"What are you doing here…?" Homura asked.
"Well, what are YOU doing here?" She returned the question.
"You should know what I'm about to do right?" She bounced her question once again. "You should have no problems with my initial plan right?"
"Hmph, I personally prefer destroying Kriemhild Gretchen with my own hands…" Oriko admitted. "But as I supposed to have embedded into your mind, whatever you're planning, unless it can't save the world, I won't have any part of it."
"You know I can't simply destroy Kriemhild Gretchen…"
"Ah, Homura-kun," Oriko changed her initials rather quickly. "But you can. You have the power to do so, in fact, I personally would have thought that you should have been able to defeat Kriemhild Gretchen right then and there. Although I doubt you'd last long that way…"
"Well, would you destroy Kirika if she became a witch if there's a way to turn her back?" Homura finally showed a speck of glee. "I think the answer's rather obvious."
Oriko's mouth formed an O shape, then a D.
"I" Oriko stuttered. "Is it?"
Homura's eyes blinked and glittered with a bright faint blue-purple aura, then back to normal again.
"Why wouldn't it?" Homura returned the question.
"I wouldn't simply know, un…like you Akemi-san."
"As I expected from you, Oriko-san." Homura turned back at the girl. "You would really choose the world over the one you love… your only friend. Is that right?"
Oriko couldn't make up something in response to Homura's bull's eye statement.
"Do you honestly think so, Akemi-san?" Oriko smile was genuine, but somehow it didn't felt as such. Why was that?
"I figured you'd say that." Homura slightly frowned. "The world over yourself, huh…"
"Homura, don't say that so easily…" Oriko had frowned in response. "It's hard to play the Savior role, you know…"
"But, you can't save everyone, can you?"
"That's true but…" Oriko's left hand reached for the sky. "…some things should never be mentioned like that. You know that girl, Kazumi right?"
"Did you," Homura lifted her eyebrows. "meet her?"
"I have… just a while ago, before I sensed your Soul Gems," Oriko clenched her left hand, and pressed it against her chest. "but in the end, she isn't the same as me. I can't necessarily agree with her ways. Do you, Homura-san?"
"Not necessarily," Homura admitted. "When worst comes to worst I might have to seal her. However, I need the Pleiades Saints for my plans. She can still help if she wants, but, with the hatred she had come to terms with so far, it would be a wonder how she hasn't turned into a witch yet."
"She has the power to copy other powers, right?" Oriko turned around to Homura; her long, silky white hair fluttered within the skyscraper breeze. "Then you should know that she, too, knows the future, which means she still has hope left inside her. 'What little hope that empowers a mahou shoujo is the same hope that will pierce the heavens.' I heard that from the friend you sought to protect."
"You believe even that huh…" Homura showed a smile. "For someone who believes in killing a couple for the world, you seem to have some sort of remorse."
"I'm not like you, Akemi-san," Oriko smiled. "Even a single soul in a separate time plane is worth the same amount of respect."
"But, in the end, you'd still do it, just like I have. Isn't it that she's doing what we both have done in the past?" Homura passed a rhetorical question with a slight frown. "You should know that. You tried to turn the entire Mitakihara High School into a witch barrier, just to kill Madoka."
"I only did that to get a reaction from you." Oriko's gaze went straight to hers. "I wouldn't do that if I knew you didn't have the power of time travel, and that it was useless the moment you had used your powers. That's why…"
"…you're here?" Homura asked the most obvious questions.
Oriko nodded with a straight face. "I was on bad terms with the old you, and I'm pretty sure somewhere in the past she still does… but you…"
Oriko paused for a bit.
"At least you're more negotiable."
It's been almost an hour, and, by this time, Kriemhild Gretchen might have already found itself swallowing 10% of Japan. The light of the bright shining moon covered the entire sky with a pinch of blue-orange, at least from the top where they were at. The entire city buzzed with people from all over the city, and cars that can't seem to take a break, even at around 2 AM, where everyone at this city at this time is supposed to be asleep. Unlike Mitakihara City, which was just a mere urban in an otherwise partially remote region of Japan, San Francisco was no ghost town. It was a busy city, with its thousands of its inhabitants walking about, probably without a care for anyone but themselves. For Mami, such was anything but sadness, to be oblivious to this real world of harshness and sadness and loneliness. What is the real "reality"? Is it the sad, dangerous world of the magical girls, or the "safe" world of the mundane world, which has its own share of hardships and such?
"It's getting boring," Mai returned from nowhere, came in from nowhere, and said something from nowhere. She's a nowhere girl.
"Don't say such things," Mami scolded the adventurous puella magi. "It's not as if we have anything to do. We can't even talk to the girl Homura picked up. For now, we'll most likely be safe for around 5 or so days, if Homura and my own calculations are correct. Rather, we should find a way to gather as much magical girls as we can."
"It won't be that easy." Kyouko rebuked. "One, there are only a few magical girls scattered throughout the world, at least, comparing it to other people. There's only probably 1 or 2 for every town there is, while in cities like this 4 can 'work together' to finish off the witches in the area."
"Yeah, about that…" Mai pointed at herself. "…and there's Hikari too."
"I know!" Kyouko flustered. "I just wanted to say it, okay?! Anyway, there's also the second problem: the fact that this city is a filled with people. How can we gather at least a thousand magical girls on such a place? It will be even harder for us not to get caught like this. Plus, the fact that we actually turn to witches is gonna have one hell of an effect too. Hell, if ever someone turns to a witch before their eyes, it will be hard to know what they'd do. It's just that unstable to gather at least a thousand, save alone a hundred… or forty."
"It can be quite complicated, when I think about it…" Yuma was, most likely, overthinking it; however, it wasn't so far from the truth. "I mean… how about the maintenance? How can we gather a thousand magical girls without enough Grief Seeds to accompany such a massive number?"
"For once, you made a point, Kyouko-san." Minna responded. "Isn't it the primary rule of MGE to ensure that these things should be known by only such a few people?"
"Tsk tsk tsk…" Hikari waved her finger back and forth. "…even you Minna…! Are you all undermining the power of the MGE?"
Hikari materialized an old English-style lantern in front of the eyes of everyone. The flame in its lantern flickered in yellow-orange light, much like a normal lantern; however, the shape of the flame was a straight teardrop: the skyscraper breeze didn't affect it at all.
"This is the epitome of my powers." Hikari declared. "It's the lantern that shines through all the obstacles in the world, save time. Actually the only reason this lantern can't reach such a vague obstacle is merely the fact that it doesn't seem to exist as one, but despite that…"
"It has the power to reach anything… and anyone."
The gang swiveled, their eyes widened as she saw Homura and Oriko, side by side. Yuma clearly recognized the girl's conspicuous face, remembering the girl who said that Kyouko will die if she didn't save her, and her white, wedding gown-like dress, and the deep feminine voice of an angel.
"I-I-It's that girl!" Yuma frantically pointed at Oriko. "She's the one I told you about, Kyouko-chan."
Upon hearing this, Oriko bowed, almost down to the ground. "I'm sorry, Kyouko-san, if Yuma-san had to have part in this, but I figured that you shouldn't die. Not then, not there."
"You know…" Kyouko pouted. "I swore to practically kill … if not punish you when I found you. But I admit… that Yuma saved me tons of times … so not today. Remember those words: not today. Hikari… please continue."
Hikari straightened her arm and reached the lantern she held to the sky. The sound of ringing wedding bells echoed… or at least would have if not for the annoying yet persistent medley that is the city. The orange-red light turned into a neon green one, and flickered occasionally.
"You see…" Hikari pressed her right index finger into the flame, and took out a small piece of its flame. It didn't burn the skin, but floated right at it. "When I say that this lantern reaches anyone and everyone, part of its ability (most of it, depending on your mileage) lets me talk to anyone and everyone I wish to. This includes basic information such as names and location too. If, say, I wanted to talk to everyone talking about Baseball, I get around… probably a billion people to talk to, just like that. Including some weird conversation about some guy named Riki in some near dimension. I knew I heard those lines from a game before… not sure."
"Isn't that a bit… overpowered?" Sayaka's right eye twitched. "And some near dimension…? Isn't that a bit too much?"
"I don't really use it much because of the magic it consumes." Hikari noted. "However, I think this is the perfect timing to use this, no?"
Hikari turned to Sayaka. Or was it the other way around?
"… I did that during the times I was but a curious magical girl, so don't worry."
"Well, that's very convenient indeed." Kyouko noted. "We could practically contact every magical girl in the world and get them to San Francisco City without much trouble."
"There's a catch though." Oriko interrupted.
"You know huh," Hikari chuckled. "Well, I guess I can tell everyone."
Hikari crossed her fingers.
"It consumes 90% of my magic reserves."
"Eh…" Mami widened her eyes.
"'Eh' is right…" Kyouko blinked. "Just who the hell designed your powers…"
"Well, it's not like anyone can do anything about it." Hikari shrugged. "And it was from the times when I was inexperienced. The consumption should probably around only 40% right now, but it's still quite much. As long as the taint in my Soul Gem doesn't reach a mere 80%, I think I can hold out."
"Either way," Homura's voice was stern. "We need to do this quickly. After that, we'll visit Beijing."
"Beijing?" Yuma repeated the word.
"I'm going to fetch a certain technician." Homura's eyes was glowing a bright purple, "Someone good enough for this job."
"But first," Homura cleared her throat. "Let's prepare that lantern. Oriko's partner, Kirika Kure, is at the Kennedy NASA Space Center right now on the other side of America. With Oriko's signal, Kirika's going to break into the worldwide broadcast to keep the authorities at bay as we rebroadcast the same signal through all known media, including all known monitors, with the help of Oriko's new friend."
She obviously meant Hikari.
"Did you really have to send that girl that far?" Kyouko asked. "I mean… it doesn't really matter if Kirika is there or not, is it?"
"She would probably pout at me," Oriko frowned a bit, "if I didn't make her do something. She's just that."
"I see, I guess we could easily use Mai-chan again in case we need her," Hikari nodded. "But, first thing's first: what are you going to announce?"
Oriko, carefully choosing her words, replied with a serious face.
"I'm going to announce the existence of puella magi."
The permeating noise of cars dominated for a moment. To say such a crazy thing, is it crazy after all. Homura kept a straight face, the face that says she already knew what her plans were from the start. Mami and Yuma couldn't keep up with the discussion, and simply blinked and glanced at each other's faces. Kyouko and Sayaka's eyes were twitching. Hikari tried to be as calm as possible, but it was still obvious that she was shivering, obvious by the vehement shaking of her right hand.
"EHHHH?!" Minna was the first to response: it's quite an achievement actually. "T-T-This… I-I-I… W-w-w-what… why the heck is this happening?!"
"You're overreacting again." Hikari slapped her in the face.
"She might not be overreacting at all." Mami's one hand found its way to her cheek. "It was problematic enough if Kriemhild Gretchen was ravaging the world, but to announce the existence of puella magi is a great risk. At the worst case, we might be dealing with the government and military as well."
"There's no such risk." Oriko turned to Homura, and back at Mami. "I've already seen it."
"Easy for you to say," Kyouko replied with a snark. "Even I had a hard time protecting Yuma who had been continuously ravaged by witches because of this."
As she looked at Yuma, the girl blushed and hid right behind Mami.
"Are you even ready for the consequences of these actions, Oriko-san?" Hikari questioned the girl. "This is a risky action, but I already see why you would want this."
"Here we go again…" Mai seemed to cover her ears.
"Listen, you dimwit."
BAM! A knuckle went straight flying into her hard head. However, Mai didn't even care to notice the pain.
"Anyway," Hikari continued. "While the greatest reaction would come from the general public at large, the advantages would be substantial. One, this will allow all magical girls to know of the general situation, even those unreachable by the MGE. Second, we might be able to evacuate individuals from countries nearest to the area. By this time, Kriemhild Gretchen might have swallowed around 40% of Japan already. We might have enough time to avoid casualties if there will be. (I'm onto the assumption that people caught within the barrier are getting killed somehow.) Third, it'll allow for a quicker deployment of magical girls interested in this expedition. The fourth is probably the most important advantage: we'll be able to gather support from the military and abandon everyone in San Francisco for a base of operations."
"In reality," Homura corrected. "It's the only real advantage there is. First, we can already make Hikari contact the magical girls. Second, Kriemhild Gretchen does not kill. And third, other magical girls can help with the deployment."
"So, only that huh…" Hikari continued. "…the problems we can encounter are most likely the fact that many people might not accept Oriko's announcement, or, if they did, they might panic and cause unnecessary chaos, and that the military might go ballistic and declare war on the magical girls. Most likely we're going to see panicking from the near countries of Korea, Taiwan, China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines who'll be affected from the 4 or 5 days of preparation we have. The Chinese would be especially problematic because of its population of more than a billion people."
"Well that's that…" Mami threw the verdict to Homura.
"Mai, you can't teleport a billion at once, right?" Homura asked.
"One billion?" Mai returned the question. "You think I can teleport a billion people?"
"Well anyway," Mami sweat dropped. "Let's first prepare for Oriko's announcement."
"… you can't be replaced Kirika," Oriko whisper echoed through Kirika's mind like it was yesterday. "… and as long as that fact holds true, I'll always be by your side – so trust me."
Kirika slightly blushed as she passed through the immense crowd without a speck of notice. How much has her powers grown – perhaps a ton? As she chuckled and moved on through the several doors within the long grey-painted hallway leading to the open ground for the launch of the new spaceship Shooting Star, Kirika's claws chipped off the edge of the tiled floor without a sound.
According her and Oriko's extensive research, the Shooting Star was the first spaceship to utilize one simple goal: to live on the Moon and start terraforming it into a green planet, full of life. It was a real miracle in itself, when scientist (a girl) had developed the formula to turn deserts and/or space rock into fertile ground using a mix of 0.01% plutonium, 0.03% selenium, and water filled with tritium to break down silicon into nitrogen and oxygen, which in turn breaks down the plutonium and tritium into environmentally safe products, which also in turn decontaminates the nitrogen and oxygen in the process. The only trouble they'd be having is actually reusing the tritium, but otherwise, it was enough to create a small, fertile dome, enough to cover a part of the planet in a green spot. The water itself helps to keep lunar dust from swirling into the normal civilian's lungs, while several air filters are designed to filter out as much lunar dust as possible as the dome is being built – the only thing that would be missing is planting cacti, then legumes to help in forming the necessary nutrients to start vegetation. The glass itself, which ought to function like the Earth's atmosphere, without the clouds, would be responsible for deflecting cosmic rays and what not, while magnets placed around the vicinity would attract gamma rays. It was, in fact, an ambitious project: most likely only possible with a magical girl's wish.
"What a waste," Kirika sounded sarcastic, too sarcastic in fact. "Who cares if the moon turned into a paradise? In the end, it's just a desolate satellite void of life which happens to revolve around our precious Earth. It's no paradise for people to live on."
"I can hear you, there," Oriko's telepathic voice reached her ears.
"Eeep! O-O-Oriko-sama…" Kirika jumped, turned around and took cover at the nearest bush. "H-How…?"
"I have some new so-called allies to help me…" Oriko smiled.
"Eeeeeeh," Kirika groaned. "You don't need them… I can do everything you ask of me."
"Eh…" even over the voice, Oriko's voice reeked on irony,"…you can broadcast me right now in all forms of media…?"
"Err…" Kirika stopped for a moment. "… I can do anything as long as I have enough time. HAHAHAHAHAHA!"
"No." Oriko straighten her tone.
"Alright… we're ready to roll."
Kirika's ears puffed the second she heard a voice she couldn't recognize.
"You know you're gonna pay for it if you continue to be like that, Kirika-chan."
She straightened down her pitch, and went straight for the open space. With a single glance, she destroyed the camera at the site with a single strike with all her might.
ニエニエニエニ『Meanwhile in Beijing, China』エニエニエニコ
"Maaaaa... (Mom), I'm not done yet. Can you wait for me for a bit?"
A voice permeated throughout the dark room. The long fluorescent tube flickered in a measly beat as the girl in the bottom continued on holding onto a single 'weapon', a welder. Beside this welder, in her other hand was a crumpled blueprint, filled with a hundred scratch marks or corrections. At her front was a TV. To be precise, it was a Cathode Ray TV, one of the old, vintage ones, to be exact, complete with its washed out wooden sides and worn out rotating mechanism – most likely the channel output. The protector in her face… was mostly a decoration; one time when she was looking at the mirror she honestly thought it was quite cool, so ever since she started welding she would wear it simply out of her weird sense of fashion. Her coat, despite the whole place covered in welded smog, kept a clean white look. Her hair, swirling around as it kept on fluttering without a speck of a breeze, eventually wrapped a remote and clicked the Power Button.
"It was supposed to be today, right?"
She was talking to herself.
"The Shooting Star," she grinned. "I'd loooove to get my hands on it. Hehehe… maybe I should try installing warp drive on it. Then redirect the path to a wormhole I discovered days ago in the Alpha Centuari System. Or maybe I should install a time trans-fluctuation device and teleport Albert Einstein and Albert Hitler in this time… ooh the possibilities would have been endless!"
The broadcast kept on iterating the different technologies currently present within the new spaceship of the NASA, which has now officially given support by the UN. Well, it's not as if she hated new technology. One word was to describe the current situation in the new spaceship and terraforming developments: boring. It was entirely predictable, given its roots. And, displaying the large spaceship which had been equipped with tons of gorilla glass, the spaceship rocket was ready for its legendary lift off.
"In merely 5 minutes, the Shooting Star is going to launch directly into the moon. Armed with the new, yet highly costly anti-gravity technology created from the principles of the Higgs Boson," the boring male American reporter continued blabbering on stuff she already knew long ago. "This technology was created by the world famous scientist, Scarlet Liliac."
"Scarlet Liliac…" Within seconds, she had fully remembered her name. "Wait, wait, wait… why did that journalist mention her name? Isn't she like… 14?"
Within seconds, however, the TV's signal was replaced by something she hasn't seen in a long, long time: static.
『Zhao's Soul Gem: 12% Tainted』
"Well, well, well, this is … interesting."
She had dropped the welder and was now staring intently at the screen, waiting for the next thing to happen.
ニエニエニエニ『Meanwhile in Quezon City, Philippines』エニエニエニコ
Michelle continued to stare at the screen. She was ready to use her powers and smash it to smithereens.
"AAAAAAHHHH…!" Michelle's trashed around in her fit of range. "WHY THE HELL IS THIS HAPPENING?! PUTA! PUTA! PUTAAAA!"
"Now, now," Angel was holding her by the shoulder with both of her hands. If she was to even loosen up one bit, Michelle would have already slashed open the monitor with her powers. "We've experienced this kind before right?"
"But this is Cable for Pete's sake! Okay… I would have still calmed down if this was my own home, but this is Robinson's Galleria for Pete's Sake!" Michelle pouted. "Hmph!"
Sure enough, this was the Robinson's Galleria. Part of the crowd at the front of the large screen at the center of what was, before, a fountain, many people around them continued their businesses. However, several people took notice of the complaining girl, but moved on and bounced their gazes back at the screen. However, someone within the crowd spoke up:
"Eh? My phone's static!"
"Eh?" Angel instinctively reached for her Galaxy Ace. Sure enough it also displayed the same static screen.
"What's happening?" Michelle, now taking the matter as seriously as she can, took her own Nokia 3310 cellphone. It, too, was static. Yet, according to its technical specifications, it can only hold two colors, the screen itself which is a light green, and a monotone black. A static image like this should have been totally impossible.
"Is someone… contacting everyone?" Angel deduced. "If I'm right, then every single monitor is already covered in the same static."
"I have a bad feeling about this." Michelle's hand was shaking with an unprecedented intuition. "Remember the issue with the MGE?"
"I remember that." Angel started walking towards the left exit, opting Michelle to follow her. "How is it the same though?"
She passed through an Electronics Store. Sure enough, every single screen she passed by displayed the same static image. She glanced at several people, who were frantically removing the plug on the screen without any effect at all. The static screen remained, without even the aid of electricity. She had reached for the rotating exit, and noticed that even the digital advertisement monitors echoed the same static image.
Both had stopped.
The static screen was static no more.
What was displayed in every screen… was white-clothed Japanese-looking girl instead.
ニエニエニエニ『Meanwhile in The Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia』エニエニエニコ
"I can't say 'Hello' in every language in the world, but I can sufficiently say 'Hello' in English."
The girl's voice echoed through the wide, wide screen, echoing through surrounding several small monitors that was supposed to display military Intel instead. Everyone was in a daze, still dumbfounded on why or how did this simple girl be able to hack into every screen in the Pentagon. Contacting the outside world has failed, thus far, save for screen-less phones. Word has gotten out: every screen, most likely throughout the entire city, displayed the same girl.
"In case you all haven't realized yet," the girl in the screen cleared her throat, and continued her calm tone. "Every single monitor in the entire world is displaying this broadcast right now. It's all courtesy of a new alley – the puella magi / magical girl, Hikari-chan."
"Magical girl? Puella magi?" whispers and mutterings echoed throughout the entire room. Unsure what to say, a certain military officer stepped into the Pentagon's main Intel room. Her comparatively small, russet eyes, met the other girl's mysteriously familiar face. Her unkempt face differed from the other girl's provocative one, yet, without a doubt, she could sense with her own heart that it was but one and the same. She couldn't notice how she had stepped into the wide screen, keeping her composure all this time, and taking in the time to think about the words she would need to say.
"Master Sergeant Sarah Cornelia, is there something wrong?"
She shook her head, totally ignoring the question of her secretary. Words slipped through her mouth.
"This is Sarah Cornelia of the US Army." Her hesitation had completely vanished. "I don't need any such formalities in return, but may I ask: how exactly did you manage to hack into every single monitor in the world?"
She saw into the girl behind the monitor, displaying a mix of surprise and relief. It was a mystery, but, did she actually expect her to reply? She was sure enough that something pushed her to slip some words into the screen, where no microphones existed, nor recorders anywhere, but what could be that thing? Within the next second, however, her doubts have been officially confirmed.
She had completely heard what she had said.
SMA Sarah Cornelia
Ability to focus whatever the situation is
As the military started to accept female recruits into the Army, only a few ones who had the willpower to pursue the very top of the ranks can acquire such a power and, consequently, prove to the feminist world of the endless potentials of women. Sarah Cornelia, being part of the military's HQ staff on the age of 15, was a wonderful demonstration of this miraculously optimistic point of view. Yet, little do people know that the only reason she had been able to reach such a rank with such a short age was because of one thing: her sole wish – to be able to focus on everything she needs to. When she has her eyes on her target, it's a 100% probability that it's a sure shot from her 3000 meter sniper, made from the fruits of her wish. At first glance, it simply looks like a normal sniper with a ridiculously high range enough for sure shot at a really safe distance, but in reality, it's her own magic weapon, which reflected the very nature of her entire being.
However the situation is, whatever kind of fear she may have, however far the opponent is, as long as she can see her enemy, even just a part of it, her ability allows her to focus on it, and shoot with deadly accuracy, whether it's the forehead, the arm, the left ear hammer, or just enough to leave a 1 millimeter scratch wound on the right index finger. However, as she has a relatively low magical potential, enough to keep her Soul Gem alive without taint for 3 months straight, she rarely goes out of her way to fight witches, but is responsible to keep structures like The Pentagon to be overrun by a witch.
She is one of the rare magical girls who retain her own uniform when transforming. This is because her military uniform IS her magical girl suit. While not fitting for a typical magical girl, she keeps her composure at all times, and cannot easily be provoked. She, however, like everyone else, displays emotions, albeit she suppresses them as a way of further reducing her magical output.
ニエニエニエニ『Meanwhile in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia』エニエニエニコ
"I'm quite surprised someone already realized that anyone will be able to ask questions if you're proper enough to ask."
The girl gave a hearty laugh.
"I'm sure everyone heard it… did all of you not?"
The girl, in front of the screen of her Nokia Lumia 960, silently nodded in affirmation. The dark-eyed girl looked at the others who were staring at the nearest monitor they can stare at. A slight worry overcame her, as she continued to run through the quiet crowd.
"Hikari…" the girl opened her iPhone 4S, but it was the same screen that opened instead. She continued to mutter with a sigh. "…first you declare the emergency in Japan at the highest level, then you help these puella magi to create a broadcast throughout the entire world? I hope you're doing the right thing."
"Trust me," Hikari's voiced her thoughts in return. "This is me doing the right thing. It's just a once-in-universe thing, you know…"
"Alright," she smiled in response. "Let me contact the other MGE members in the UN. I'll need to prepare a lot of paperwork for each of the remaining countries' presidents now… I hope that training you had in wish magic control paid off…"
ニエニエニエニ『Meanwhile in the middle of nowhere, above the archipelago of Indonesia』エニエニエニコ
"This is the very first thing I'd like to tell every person in the world: that there is no time left."
The girl's stereo voice reflected upon her HTC Cookie. This is just taking broadcasting to impossible levels. How so, perhaps? She is currently at 100,000 meters above sea level, right at the level where insane UV levels would have caused people to develop skin cancer. Seeing the entire archipelago of Indonesia right in front of her eyes, a small black spot caught the girl's attention. She flew right towards it with her wings as pure white as light, but felt an insanely pulsing sensation not to go.
"A serious matter, huh." She flapped her wings backwards, and dived towards the ground, smiling with an exhilarating pulse. "Obviously, as a magical girl myself, I cannot allow this."
The broadcast continued.
"Against all taboos: that's what my position is right now. And speaking to you now is already against all taboos. But, be reminded… that we are now at war. And in war we must never hesitate. And wars only serve to destroy the defeated. And that's why winning is must, if ever we want to save this world – save humanity."
The girl beyond the monitor breathed in.
"Just as girls like me, whose wishes have turned into a wonderful power… there are also those who oppose humanity: the ones who turn despair into power. We call them witches, once hidden within places you might not even imagine… slums, abandoned factories, etc. And now, Japan is being engulfed by a powerful witch, enough to swallow the world into a new age of despair, similar to a new Ice Age, similar to the events that had led to World War III where millions have died as witches ran rampant across the European front: its name – Kriemhild Gretchen. In 24 hours, Japan will disappear from the edge of the map."
She instinctively gulped.
"Then…" she couldn't help but speak over her phone. She already knew if she was proper enough, her voice will reach that girl and the world as well. "… there's a way right?"
"In 5… No, scratch that. In 4 days, we're going to deploy at least a thousand puellae magi for the ultimate battle against Kriemhild Gretchen. That's why we need the help of every magical girl in the world, especially those in the Southeast Asia, Eastern Russia, and countries that might be fully affected by its exponentially expanding border."
She grinned, took out a wireless phone, and, as the distance from the ground neared 10,000 meters, held a single button, automatically calling its speed dial assignment. A hoarse, yet feminine voice returned the call with a smile.
"I think I know what you're thinking right now. I didn't expect your voice to actually reach that girl… hehehe…"
"Redundancy not needed, Ishir."
"Don't worry, Khashi," the voice sounded optimistic, "we'll get there before you could say kowabongga."
The clouds passed her, replacing it with the miniature version of the city – her home – instead.
ニエニエニエニ『Meanwhile in The Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39 in Merritt Island, Florida』エニエニエニコ
"What's happening?" the scientist moaned at the scene right in front of his own eyes. With his binoculars, he saw a figure, one by one, jumping from camera to camera and hacking them away along the way, as the figure dashed towards the Pad A, where the famous new shuttle, dubbed the Shooting Star was bound for the Moon. It was around 1:45 AM, yet he still had the energy actually to complain and panic. "S-Someone stop it! I-It's… ruining everything!"
"We've already deployed the security guards and the city," the chief of the local police was the one speaking right at the entrance. "But no one could even land a shot on it. That thing's simply too fast!"
A 14-year old girl right at back to the two, instead of actually looking at the scenery from above the Control Tower down to the dangerous open grounds, glued her eyes to the screen. She was listening word for word… sentence per sentence, with a worrisome look. Her hands took hold of the wireless microphone and threw it sideways into the noisy scientist.
"Shush, you two." Scarlet Liliac's childish-sounding voice overcame theirs. "Can't you see how this broadcast is more important than some shuttle that can easily be built with time?"
"But, Ms. Liliac," the scientist's hands spread out and pointed at the scenery just below them. It's as if he was now begging to her, despite probably being around 20 years older. "We've spent 6 months perfecting this plan. We can't simply put it all to trash, just like that."
Annoyed, Liliac rose in her seat and pointed at the ground.
"For once, Mr. Defiant and Absent-Minded," the girl was cuddled in an inbound rage. "That thing you call a THING is a SHE. Second, she's not aiming at the shuttle; she's aiming at the cameras. Third, she hasn't hurt anyone. Fourth, she's magical girl and, if you were actually listening to the broadcast, and you, all of you, have no such chances to even match her."
Scarlet Liliac had calmed down after the ensuing sermon, sat down back in her seat, gazed back into the screen, and continued to listen to the still persistent broadcast. Her superiors are probably whacking their heads right now at the revelation more than the puella magi that may be slashing down the entire shuttle with her scarlet claws, she thought. They might found out that the reason was such a genius was because of her being a magical girl. But despite that, she continued on staring at the monitor, right at the bat. However, something is off. Without her noticing, she was suddenly asking the magical girl who had done all of this.
"I," her voice surprised the two men, "as someone of equal terms with you, understand the situation right now. However, I'm skeptical about one thing: Puella Magi need this one thing called a Grief Seed, found in witches by a ratio of around 30%, according to my calculations. How do you propose we can go there and simply fight with such a shortage? In fact, there is only around 1 or 2 magical girls within a town or city just for her to fend for herself."
"A good question, Scarlet Liliac." The girl in front of the monitor nodded. "Actually, you being a real genius, you should understand everything right? However…"
A smile covered her.
"We've devised a way… to constantly reuse Grief Seeds." She was serious, yet it was very easy for this girl, Scarlet Liliac, to dismiss it as sarcasm. "To be precise… no, actually what I said was a real understatement. We've discovered how to completely override a truth some of the magical girls may know regarding themselves: that there's the limit of magic."
"WHAT?!" It wasn't her voice, but the voices of around 5 people. But, sure enough, this reaction reflected hers so perfectly.
Her hands were vigorously shaking. Her head was screaming inside her: impossible… impossible… impossible… that's impossible. No, it wasn't a simple understatement. She knew the truth behind magical girls. She knew that magical girls turn into witches. She had researched far and low, trying to reverse that one-way loop, trying to avoid Kyubey's ever watching eye. In almost every instance, one conclusion could only be reached: there's no way. Despite that, because she believed that Kyubey uses this so-called Despair as an energy source to combat entropy. The first question popped in her mind: what is "Despair" as an energy source? How did Despair become energy? How did energy that wasn't supposed to be there simply 'exist', and why did it have to be girls, not boys, who have a lot more mood swings in some cases? She couldn't answer those questions. And yet… and yet, someone simply overrides every monitor in the world and says that they've done it?
"Mr. Worrywart Scientist," she turned her back on the monitor and, standing up, into the door now in front of her. "Please arrange a personal jet to San Francisco, California."
"A reusable cleaner, huh?"
She, clothed half by half by a frilly red and white dress, slurped her tongue. Recalling the background which displayed the girl's wonderful figurine, she looked far beyond the endless backdrop of skyscrapers, and materialized binoculars out of nowhere, searching for the girl in question. Finally, her eyes glittered with gluttony.
"Finally, we'll finally have something to clean all these gems in my… ahem, our new collection." She materialized a music box out of nowhere, and took several small capsule-like containers, each containing a girl and a Soul Gem placed right next to it. For some reason though, the container neutralized any attempts for the girl to even become conscious, or for it to be tainted even further. "…it was a pain, you know, trying to get each of them out of … what did they call it? Was it The Freezer?"
"Oi, oi," she spoke again, but in a rather different tone. It wasn't as different from the last, however. "Isn't it going to directly conflict with our new master's plans?"
"Hehe… don't worry, Luca-chan," she replied, "As long we don't mess with her or her plans, we'll be fine."
"Hmm… when I think about you're right." She affirmed, taking the container back at the music box. "Let's do it! Let's do it!"
She jumped from the roof towards pedestrian road, filled with the still crowd of people. Without a care in the world, she threw what seems to be an old Gameboy Advance right towards the road, and smashed it with her finger-powered white ray gun.
"Ayase Souju," she grinned. "Back in duty, kyun!"
ニエニエニエニ『Meanwhile in the St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City』エニエニエニコ
"We need your help, whether it's for your selfish purposes of gaining the new technology, or for the thrill of actually being a part of saving the world. We need everyone's help."
With a loud crashing sound, the large projector broke open into hundreds of little pieces, especially after specifically hitting it with a red axe. With the monitor gone, so did the echoing sound of that girl dissipated without a trace. Based on this fact, the broadcast can't be cut short by anyone, but it seems that breaking monitors has been found to be the simplest way of muting that politically gifted hypocrite. That's what the nun, Maria de Hesus, has been doing all this time, at least when it comes to holding meetings. She held a simply stained glass of the Mary and Jesus Christ that shone with an ever holy light, piercing down onto the large church grounds, as if approving this brutal method. It's not as if they're killing humans, not that normal people knew what she's about to do with it.
"So that's what's happening huh…"
She happened to talk to a girl, similar to her age, if not for the fact that she was a nun, and the other she was talking to was but an artist. She held a Galaxy S III on her right hand, where a conspicuous teal-twin-tailed child continued on pushing a window from the side, making an anime-like effort face.
"Well, aren't we going to help?" she finally asked.
"… and who is going to protect Vatican City from witches in the mean time? It may be 4 days, but 4 days is more than enough for a witch or so to ravage this small city." the girl with a long umber-colored silky hair answered the question with a question. "With Kyubey gone, can we even recruit someone?"
"Puella Magi will move here to compensate for the lack of territory, then problem solved!" she replied with a glee. "Now c'mon, let's help 'em."
"Oh don't be that cruel," she laughed it off with a remark. "I mean, look at Miku… she's being well and all."
"Don't be a fool." She rebuked the ungrateful girl. "She's having a hard enough time trying to block that hypocrite's undying I-wanna-save-the-world message…"
"Miku can handle herself," she puffed her chest. "Isn't that right, Miku-san!?"
"Uguuuuu~" Contrary to the girl's lightweight words, Miku WAS, in fact, having a hard time. "I don't even get where this broadcast is coming from."
"Either way," the nun clarified her point. "I'm not going."
She reached for her other phone, and took out a Lenovo smartphone from her right hand. A clear distinct message echoed through the wide open aisle.
"Like I said earlier," the girl at the other side cleared her throat. "We've discovered how to completely override a truth some of the magical girls may know regarding themselves: that there's the limit of magic, so it's a no-holds-barred attack."
"Hmm…" the nun focused on the girl's words, "Sounds like the truth, alright. Okay, let's go."
"We have yet to calculate the cost of gathering a thousand puellae magi to San Francisco or the consequences of leaving the South east countries for 4 days," Oriko was finalizing her speech, "But please, be assured that, whatever happens from here on out, we'll figure it out. Do not panic."
Oriko raised an eyebrow, looking at the back of the camera. A certain girl was already crossing her arms in a hurried fashion, and took out her Soul Gem. Its taint, reaching of around 75% simply by looking, signaled the proactive girl to open her mouth one last time.
"Well then," Oriko smiled. "Let the showdown begin."
With that, every screen in the world was cut short.
Kazumi Sakura looked beyond the entire San Francisco, California. She frowned, looking at the city from afar. While she herself was a tank, who didn't even wobble even with the strong wind. Her cloak, however, wasn't. With a strong gust, her cloak flew against this force, fluttering with the sound of a usurped flag. Her dress, while very similar to Kazumi's, the earrings was missing; there was no trace of a Soul Gem anywhere. She opened her mouth agape at the scenery at the site of San Francisco, whose noise had been reduced to nothing, leaving behind the voice of the never-ending wind.
"So, Homura-chan…" she whispered to the wind, hoping that someone will hear it, "In this new stage, will you … finally know who you are?"
She disappeared without a trace.
(Play Magia [Quattro ver.])
『To Be Continued...』
As a new season comes, new hopes and dreams turn into despair, and this despair always becomes a sure hope as well.
Konichiwa, everyone, and welcome to the new season of Homura and the Apocalyptic Rift. Hehe, it's not as if it's going to be turned into anime, but rather, this is supposedly the signal that something else is in stored for everyone. Get ready as the world descends into darkness, as the entire drama escalates, and as the major events throughout the world turn into a tidily convenient situation… and then the truth will reveal itself. You can say that Season 1 is a long "Introductory Season" of the main forces of this fic series. Or rather, Season 2 will focus on the world side of things. And of new allies and some returning enemies from the Kazumi manga. And finally of the war at large.
Get ready to rock and roll, and burst your heads out as Homura and the army head out into the void – the Apocalyptic Rift that separates the light from the darkness, and relative truth from the real truth.
On an unrelated note, this is Ayase Souju's debut in PMMM fanfiction… I think? (I wonder if Lisek's series or Moiderah's series also mentioned her though. I have read both; I simply forgot…) Say hello! That is… if you don't want your Soul taken. :3
I guess this is my new long chapter record, ever: approximately 10,400 words... or is it 10,800?
"Everything comes to an end. This is the reality that everything functions with. Not even you, or Oriko, or anyone will stop it. No one can. Only the void – the creeping darkness – remains. I have already told you this, and I'm going to tell you again: eternity is a fantastic illusion."
Next episode: "Into the endless void."