Author's Notes: I'm still alive, for those who are wondering.

Here's the last part to Hana's gaiden. This chapter contains more fighting than I have ever written before. Good thing they are not pointless.

Hard to believe I'm saying this, but I'm out of Beta-Readers. Oh, boy... This is going to be difficult. Would anyone care to take up the title and help me out?

This chapter was completed on 30/05/2013.

Reviewed by _

-{Disclaimer: I do not own 'Puella Magi Madoka Magica', the 'characters' or any of the 'settings'. All rights belong to SHAFT and the staff members.}-

-=/\/\*/\/\=-


Puella Magi ga Gotoku: The Story So Far…

Under the lunar gaze of one unsuspecting night, a gathering of familiar faces unfold before two young girls:
Kisaragi Hana and Yayoi Ayame - the latter seeking to alert the authorities, while the former determined to enact the role of a heroine.

Each playing out their respective roles towards a common goal, the leader of a fanatical group bent on ascending to Heaven called Tsukuba Yō,
tries to murder them with the power of darkness. However, she was soon thwarted and met certain defeat at the hands of Komachi,
a girl with the ability to wield magic.

Despite claiming victory for themselves, Hana received a fatal wound near the heart and with Komachi unable to magically heal her, she would
eventually die from blood loss. From the shadows, a kind creature not from this world presents an irrefutable offer that can save a life to Ayame,
an offer quickly taken up by Hana herself to escape the cold clutches of death.

A miracle was granted on that day, the girl reborn as Puella Magi Kisaragi Hana.


-=\/*\/=-


=Magia Life Gaiden: Cowardly Default=

-The Relentless Little Red/We Will Survive!-

-Part 2/2-


-=/IV\=-


~2011/08/05~

Ψ – EYES OF THE ASTUTE – Ψ

[MORNING]


-=\IV/=-

Drip, drop, was the ever persistent pattern of rain knocking on maiden's window; the sun vanished from hanging clouds above. Calm was the air touched by artificial scent, yet faint were the whispers of feminine-quality secluded in sleep. Where routine governed all, that time of day would repeat once more to the young: Wake up, attend school, interact with friends, then return home. Many were constant and many had variables. Rarely do lives participate in extraordinary scenarios; rarely does the life of one extend beyond the boundaries of the norm.

Feasting her short-sighted eyes on scenery dulled by the weather of gloom, the adolescent stretched both arms and legs while opening her jaws wide for a tired yawn. ="...a dream?"= She questioned drowsily. Haunting nightmares were but a bane to the human mind as Kisaragi rubbed her eyes, stunned by morning's wake. Precious memories would wash under the eroding sea, mutating until only the unknown forced its way to the surface - not an ideal source for inspiration.

In the midst of her train of thought, Hana's eyes gradually drifted down to something weighing on her legs. It was light, cute and had a fine white coat, but where it came from was a complete mystery. All of a sudden, its tiny eyes shot open as it slowly stood up on all 4, revealing its scarlet irises. ="Good morning, Hana."= Without the need to move its lips, the cat spoke. Hana could only return the gesture with a nervous chuckle.

="E-hehehe... G-Good Morning, Kyūbey."=

Like a worm in soil, the name lingered within the mind, laying dormant until his presence alone pulled the trigger of remembrance. It was all rushing back:

Scene...

Scent...

...and the frightful feeling of death.

What was thought to be a dream had in-fact transpired in reality.

Hana's attention slowly wandered off again, her interest caught by a tiny shimmer originating from the table, a mystical egg emitting a brilliant light.

="That is your Soul Gem. Remember to always keep it on you, Hana."=

It was her's to keep: Her gift, contract, and proof of her newfound potential. Today would be the start of a brand new day.

-=/V\=-


[AFTERNOON]


-=\V/=-

="Kyūbey, what kind of characters are these? They don't look Japanese."= The obsidian ring worn around her finger was cold like any other. Its shape was simple, but embedded with a lone crystal brown gem.

="The meaning behinds those runes have been lost for many generations."= Perched on Hana's shoulder and employing the usage of his tail as a comfortable scarf, the magical cat answered in regards to the foreign symbols etched onto the item's surface. ="Even I can't decipher them."= This reply left the girl tilting her head in great disappointment.

The rain endured with seemingly no end in sight, the weather becoming heavier alongside the passage of time. Students of various age departed from Mitakihara Middle School, accompanying classmates of the opposite gender, as they conversed under their umbrellas. Signs of love were fluttering in the atmosphere - some hearts beated with affection and some hearts broke with rejection, an obstacle to the ever-challenged youth.

="Hello, Hana-chan."= From the entrance behind her back, a soft voice called out to her attention. In turn, Kisaragi quickly spun on her heel, meeting Elise. ="Hello, Kyūbey."= Also greeting the cat on Hana's shoulder, the young girl gave a pleasant smile.

="Good afternoon, Elise."=

="Eh? Elise-chan, you can see him?"= Students whom casually walk by would ordinary fail to perceive Kyūbey and simply continue on with their business, preventing the secret of magic from being exposed to the world in the form of a talking animal. Elise, on the other hand, could clearly see him, which meant 1 thing.

The young girl nodded in response to Hana's query as she extended her hand, revealing an identical item in both shape and size to the eye. ="I'm a Magical Girl, too."=

="When...did you contract?"= Curious, Kisaragi provided another question, eager to learn more.

="Umm... I don't remember."= The girl with maroon-coloured hair lost herself in the sea of memories for a moment, her eyes sealed. ="A year ago...maybe."=

="Oh..."= It was clear to Hana that Elise could not offer a definite date, and continuing this particular conversation would only become sour in the end. It was time to change the topic. ="Uh, Elise-chan, where's everyone else?"=

="Hiyori-chan and Komachi-chan are cleaning the classroom. It's their turn today."= The Magical Girl informed. ="Claire-chan is repacking the musical equipment and will have to visit the Infirmary later."=

="And Ayame-chan's doing something personal..."= The schedule of all 4 lives had been lined with responsibilities - an overall common day for middle scholars such as themselves. ="So...it's just us 3, then?"= Abruptly, out the corner of her eye, something interesting was transpiring.

="H-e-e-e-e-y, Chido-tan!"= Marching from the hallway of this glass-building, an enthusiastic and familiar voice caught the busy mind of another student. ="Look, I know you're mad, but I really have no idea what happened yesterday! One moment, I was going to meet you and then all of a sudden, I'm in a pitch-black warehouse with Yō and some other people."= Explaining to the best of his capability, Junpei rested his hand on the listener's shoulder as he gazed deep into the person's eyes. ="It's the truth!"=

This honest description, no matter how believable it may be, was met with a saddened frown - one that was soon followed by an answer delivered through means that could be understood without the need for words: An almighty fury known as a slap to the cheek. ="Idiot."= With a scoff, Yoshino Chidori promptly walked away from the clown without regrets, never looking back.

="Ahhh, come on! Don't be like that!"= Immersed in anguish spreading from his chest, Junpei desperately reached out to his one true love, unwilling to cut loose the bond they had forged. ="Look, I'm sorry. Alright? I'll do better, I promise!"= It was fate that drew these two individuals together, and it was to be misfortune that would drive them apart.

Before his words could touch upon her tender ears, Chidori was already long gone - a bad end.

The feeling of compassion stirred as Hana pushed her spectacles back into place, unable to witness a man drown in his own sorrow any longer, even if it may be the same person who attempted to murder her. "Torajidī?"

="Uh...?"= Wiping his bitter tears clean from greyish eyes, Iori replied back in a calm manner. ="Oh, it's you, Hana-chan. What was that you just said again?"=

Eager to state the word once more, Hana repeated the phrase with a cheerful grin. "To-ra-ji-dī?"

Junpei didn't react nor did he understand the language, his face puzzled.

="Hana-chan said 'tragedy'."= In the midst of the conversation, Elise entered and assisted in translating the word.

="Uh... Yeah, looks like it."= He nodded, his cheeks pulling back a smile to conceal his damaged pride.

If Kisaragi knew anything about aiding in soothing another's pain, it was the use of encouraging words. The intellectual maiden had the perfect phrase for the soul. "Bān yō doreddo ando rīchi auto tō yō rabu。"

="What?"=

="Hana-chan said-"=

"Bān yō doreddo ando rīchi auto tō yō rabu!" Hana quickly repeated before Elise had the chance to spoil the moment.

="English isn't my speciality, remember?"=

="I forgot~"= She giggled, her face flushed in embarrassment. ="'Burn your dread and reach out to your love'. You're not going to give up. Are you, Junpei-kun?"=

="Well..."= He pondered the thought as he gently stroked his goatee. Before he could voice his opinion on the matter, both Hana and Elise began to provide dialogue after dialogue of support to convince him, taking turns as they did so.

="Winning her heart again is an unavoidable battle, Junpei-kun."= Hana said first, followed by the soft spoken Elise.

="Wrong decisions will lead to mass destruction, Junpei-kun~"=

="Living with determination is what you do best, Junpei-kun."=

="The path is still open, Junpei-kun~"=

="If you don't act soon, the path will close, Junpei-kun."=

="Take deep breaths, Junpei-kun~"=

="Believe in the power of the heart, Junpei-kun."=

="Sky's the limit, Junpei-kun~"=

="Junpei-kun!"=

="Junpei-kun~"=

Each time the man's name was uttered did it patch the holes in his depressing soul; fuelling his ever-growing desire to be close with Chidori. His false grin soon disappeared, replaced by a variation that was both pleasing and genuine. ="Ahahahaha!"= Bursting in a fit of joy, Junpei took his time to wipe away another set of tears rolling from his eyes. ="Thanks, girls! I'm starting to feel better, already!"= He exclaimed with excitement in his tone, adding warmth to the atmosphere. ="Now I know I have to face Chido-tan again. Guess that's the beauty of destiny."=

Iori Junpei, a young man whose heart was once tainted with misery, had returned true to form - his original persona reconstructed from ashen sands.

="By the way, Junpei-kun. How's Yō?"= Hana asked out of interest, her glasses sliding out-of-place before being pushed back.

="Still in hospital."= The man answered. ="The doctors said she's in a coma, so she's not going to wake up anytime soon. Other than that, she's fine. Hasn't lost a limb or anything."= He jokingly stated as he adjusted his cap. ="Anyway, this Ace Detective's got to run, girls! See you two, later!"=

="Remember to smile, Junpei-kun~"=

="I will!"= A smile, a farewell wave of the hand, and a flirtatious wink at Elise were the last things the maidens witnessed while the jester ran like the wind - love was certainly a powerful element, especially when subjected to the young.

The maroon-haired friend was somewhat saddened by his sudden departure. ="The Ace Detective is gone..."=

="Everyone always call him the Ace 'Defective' because of his personality."=

="They are just jealous."= Elise said with a grin, seemingly mesmerised by the charismatic Iori Junpei, a student of Mitakihara Middle School.

As the rain continued to spread despondency throughout the land and the clouds becoming ever-so-darker, the wait both Hana and Elise had to endure eventually rewarded them with the late arrival of 4 teenagers. ="Sorry we're late..."=

"Yū āru reito!" Hana exclaimed in English as she huffed in annoyance, her arms crossed.

="What kind of thanks is that?! I save you from a dangerous Witch and you treat us like criminals for being late? Hmph, maybe I should've-"=

="Calm down, Komachi-chan."= The golden-haired girl interrupted and advised before presenting a civil bow to Hana. ="We really are sorry, Hana-chan. We had a lot of things to do."=

The hazel-eyed student, employing a narrowed glare, did nothing but sigh as she lowered her guard, the feeling of regret swarming within for raising her voice towards the Magical Girl, her saviour. ="I'm...sorry, too."= Hana sorely expressed, an apology met with a smile from Komachi.

="It's okay, Hana-chan."=

When the heavy rain gradually weakened and soon subsided in favour of sunshine's yellow rays, silence fell upon them. ="Claire-chan, are you okay?"= Hana asked, the lime-haired maiden absorbed in utter bliss: Those green eyes closed from view and hands pressed against her own smooth cheeks blooming a lovely pink were enough for subtle hints.

="Madoka-senpai's touch was wonderful~"=

That sentence alone was enough to flood the excellent minds of students with multiple ideas, thoughts that were each devious and mischievous in their own little way: Madoka revealing a secret side to colleagues in intimate ways, everybody's favourite Senpai burning her playful personality into their fragile souls, Kaname sharing herself with the body of another - everyone in the group shockingly screamed in union. ="WHAAAAAT?!"=

="I think she's talking about Madoka-senpai's skills as a nurse."= Out of the rest, the only person unfazed by Claire's misunderstood compliment was the self-composed Elise, always making sound and sensible judgments while smiling to lighten the mood. Her clarification quickly took effect.

="Speaking of Senpai, there she is!"= Redirecting everyone's gaze by the point of a finger from Komachi, the ever-so-popularly pinkette of Class 3-A made her presence known to all as she marched down the crystal hallway, beaming with delight whilst surrounded by fans and friends alike. Adorned in the school's formal uniform and blue bag in hand, the celebrity with short pigtails tied in red ribbons took in the various love letters and expressed her gratitude, the kind voice of Kaname Madoka dissipating and becoming inaudible to the Magical Girls.

"Byūtifuru!" Hiyori exclaimed at this captivating image with eyes gleaming like stars.

At the same time, Hana, Ayame and Claire also spoke their thoughts on the drama playing out before them, unable to contain the overwhelming glee within. ="She's so cute~~!"= Elise, however, merely nodded in agreement. As quickly as the scene transpired, the crowd silently dispersed, leaving nothing behind - not even Madoka-senpai was present anymore.

The wind howled from the entrance, stirring the memory of 1 particular individual. ="Hana-chan, I just remembered."=

="What is it...?"= She asked with curiosity.

="I have something to show you..."= Ayame reached out with her hand, splaying the fingers apart for Hana's eyes to bear witness to not a typical item such as a chestnut, but a small, dark halo-shaped accessory from a world beyond the norm.

Kisaragi simply looked on in disbelief.


={SOUL'S MONOLOGUE #03}=


Yayoi Ayame never told me her wish...

...but she assured it had nothing to do with me.

I was glad - glad that she didn't waste her wish.

The 5 thought it would be a good idea to take me to a park...

...and train me to fight Witches.

By the time we got there, the sun had already set.

But it wasn't the darkness that frightened me...

...it was the horror lurking within.

-=/VI\=-


[NIGHT]


-=\VI/=-

Still was the windless black day, the clock striking the hour of 11, as lamps implanted on paths shone through like torches - beckoning hope to linger. Not even tiny leaves of green could be heard rustling as the yearning concept stayed and danced under the pale moonlight. Preparations were complete, the park belonged to them but for a brief moment. Time was of the essence. ="Concentrate..."= The Soul Gem glimmered with a spellbinding colour of brown in Hana's palm as she followed Komachi's instructions, a lone sweat trickling down her temple. ="Imagine yourself being enveloped by a bright light, your body becoming lighter than air. Imagine yourself reaching out to the core, grasping and unleashing the magic with your mind."= Her eyelids squinted, her mind focused, the girl did just as her friend said with teeth gritting, but nothing extraordinary happened. There was only the aura of dissatisfaction. ="Umm..."= Komachi was unsure as to how she should interpret this unexpected outcome, her teeth chipping away at her own thumbnail. ="This wasn't supposed to happen."= She stated out of confusion. ="Me, Hiyori, Elise and Claire all transformed without any problems, so..."= With a finger on her chin and eyes gazing the stars, Komachi thought about it for a second. ="Ah, I know! Kyūbey, is it possible Hana-chan's Soul Gem is broken?"=

="No, no..."= Sitting on a nearby bench while observing the girls with beady red eyes, the Magical Cat answered with a blunt reply. ="The fault is coming from Hana's subconscious."=

="Her...subconscious?"= Komachi gazed back at the girl struggling to summon the power of magic, seemingly unable to understand the Messenger's words.

="On the outside, Hana is trying to release her powers. But deep inside, Hana's subconscious is preventing that from happening."= He explained whilst licking his paw like an ordinary cat before rubbing it on his head. ="Unless the issue is resolved, she will not be able to transform into a Magical Girl."= Now using his hind leg to scratch an unreachable spot, the feline remained silent throughout the scenario, seemingly awaiting for the lavender-haired girl to take action.

She then placed a finger on her chin again, her mind lost in thought with ideas, until finally 1 caused her eyes to light up. =I've got it!"= She announced aloud. ="Hana-chan, try shouting catchphrases like 'MAAAAKE UP' from Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon or something!"=

Hana was completely baffled by that recommendation, her mouth gaping open - to scream words from various animated shows at the top of her lungs would be undeniably embarrassing, especially when she had to do it in front of her friends in the middle of night. Shaking the troubling thoughts away, Hana embraced the moment at hand with confidence and will undeterred. ="Pirika pirilala popolina peperuto!"= She called out to the bright stars in the sky, a phrase from a particular Anime revolving around troublesome witches. However, only the laughter of wind befell her unsuccessful endeavour, fuelling nothing but the fires of Kisaragi's temper. Growling in frustration at her current predicament, she went on to chant yet another fictional spell, clinging to the possibility that it would work. ="Pipiru piru piru pipiru pi!"= In the same vein as the previous attempt, nothing came to fruition. Irritated, Hana began to shout incantation after fictitious incantation until the transformation into a Magical Girl was attained.

="Pampuru pimpuru pam pom pum!"=

="Pulitto! Pararin ririkaru parapora magikaru!"=

="Pastel poppuru poppin-pa!"=

="Mahari kumaha rita yanbara yan yan yan!"=

"Chenji feisu!"

"Shugā、shugā、rūn! Majikaru rūn!"

"RERĪZU!"

"METAMORUFŌZE"

10 incantations were declared for all to hear; all 10 reduced as fuel to feed the scorching flame. At the same time, Hiyori kept track as to how many were said, counting each 1 towards her hands per finger. ="Waaaah..."=

Standing next to the seemingly alarmed girl, Elise uttered a single word to reflect her friend's state of mind. ="Nostalgia?"=

="All the catchphrases are from Animes I've seen!"= The yellow-haired student shouted before announcing the titles in the corresponding order in which the phrases were said. ="Troublesome Witch Doremi, Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan, the Angel of Magic Creamy Mami, the Star of Magic Magical Emi, the Idol of Magic Pastel Yumi, Sally the Witch, Miracle Girl Limit-chan, Sugar, Sugar, Rune; I think that 'release' is from Cardcaptor Sakura, and 'metamorphose' is from Yes! Pretty Cure 5 GoGo!"=

="It seems Hana-chan and Hiyori-chan have something in common."= Komachi remarked, her cheeks pulling back a delightful smile. However, at the sound of a cricket chirping away at the night, the grin suddenly overturned, her gaze focused on a bungled maiden as she muttered. ="But...none of them are working. If only there was some method to help her-"=

The peak of one's temper was about to be reached, one that was about to explode into an all-out fury. Her eyelids narrowed into a sharp glare, her chest beating ever-so-quickly, before directing the spirit's deteriorating aspiration through her passionate voice and into the alluring Soul Gem. ="TRANSFOOOORM! ! !"= It echoed throughout the nocturnal forest; sending shivers down the spines of companions around her - a light unlike any other was summoned from jewel in hand.

Gasping - that was the only reaction the girls had to show at the sight of a blinding miracle.

Beating in the dissipating gale of supernatural origin was a blanket of fabric draped over the body, the soft hood worn over the head. Revealed in plain sight on the chest of the single large sheet was a type of long muffler depicting a mysterious runic inscription of unknown meaning and strapped to the arms outside the garment's openings were metallic guards with a flawless shine. Confusion was written over her face as Hana examined her newly-produced uniform, twisting and hopping in fascination before tapping with the tip of her leather shoes onto the floor - the entire colour scheme was that of red and accents of light brown.

What was beneath such an astonishing outfit had yet to be known, but Kisaragi Hana cared not as she beamed with exhilaration. ="I did it! I'm a Magical Girl!"=

="No way!"= Komachi, struck with awe by this spectacle, flinched ever-so-subtly. ="Just saying 'transform' works?!"=

="You look so cute, Hana-chan~~!"= Drawn to the addictive bait called cuteness, the poor soul widened her eyes, seemingly unable to control her excitement as Hiyori gave out an adoring squeal.

="A brighter shade of red? A lot of people seem to appreciate that..."= Amongst the group, Claire was somewhat sceptical about Hana's choice of colour, her head tilted to the side.

="Red is the colour of a hero, Claire-chan."= Elise said to the girl with honesty, aided by a smile. Claire, turning to the young friend, did the same in return.

The night slowly began to settle down, the wind gradually building, but then Ayame noticed something abnormal on Hana's back, hidden under the cloak. ="Hana-chan, what is that on your back?"=

Puzzled, the glasses-wearing Magical Girl glanced over the shoulder, taking in the sight of a small, but protruding, hump on her rear. Steadily raising the cover, revealing detail after detail of chestnut brown and black streaks, the mysterious protuberance was ultimately presented in all its splendour. There was only curiosity in the girl's mind as it stirred, and in that moment of absolute shock, it swayed to the side.

Everyone naturally cried out, intoxicated with glee. ="HANA-CHAN IS A SQUIRREL~~! !"= Before Hana knew it, her friends immediately ran up to her, exchanging comments between themselves whilst admiring the adorable cushion-like tail.

To be surrounded by friends was a comfortable feeling...

To be complimented for possessing a magical limb as part of her spine made her heart beat with warmth...

However, at the end of all wondrous stories, unimaginable spite would loom on the horizon - happiness was not meant to last.

The surrounding foliage of towering trees and grassy paths began to twist and turn before the very eyes of young teenagers, the air coming ever-so-foul. The black sky eventually melted and disappeared, phasing in and replacing it was an expansive overhead dome that slowly encased its prisoners, poisoning them with the vile concept known to all as fear. Feeling the chill crawling down their backs, they worryingly studied their eerie environment composed of human remnants from ages past - their flesh stripped clean, leaving behind nothing but bones.

That was not the end of this nightmare...and without warning, a ghostly scream wailed, grabbing the attention of all 6 adolescents as a mountain of bone awakened from the very surface, its colossal presence alone enveloping them in shadow. The girls looked hard with beads of sweat rolling down their temples, their muscles seizing up in reaction to this unsettling mass. Bizarrely, all the skulls, mandibles, rib cages, joints and fingers suddenly began to move, shaking violently of their own accord. At the height of this terrifying grave that housed the restless dead, the remains burst open, scattering them throughout the dome, as hidden deep within was a sharp tail shimmering at an azure blaze engulfing a skeleton, the frame itself great and thick to the point it may not fracture. The fingers slowly articulated, rolling back to form hardened fists before flailing its arms wildly, instilling anxiety into the hearts of all whom may have heard its petrifying roar - the all-powerful serpent sought for prey most amusing.

="Wh-What's a Witch doing here?!"= The minds of everyone were unable to process their current situation that should not have taken place - it was unexpected; they were unprepared. ="Why didn't our Soul Gems detect it?!"=

Flashing red akin to the colour of blood did the hollow eyes reveal, the devil drawn to a speaker stained with panic and distress. Snarling with intent, the long tail grafted with an unblemished blade gradually raised high above before bringing it down at speeds faster than the naked eye could perceive - Komachi would be its first victim under this hellish night, but the undead failed to account for 1 minor detail: She was a Magical Girl...and Magical Girls were not so easily slain. Sparks flew in the blink of an eye, the blade barred from tasting human flesh by a naginata. ="...too...heavy!"= The now-transformed heroine struggled against its inhuman strength, her legs about to give way, unable to force the immense limb back. All of a sudden, a flash of light came out of nowhere, striking the menace with a bolt of lightning as it recoiled in pain and surprise. With the blade momentarily retreated, Komachi was relieved and out of breath, her appreciation expressed through a thumbs-up. ="Nice save, Claire!"=

A nun stood where the saviour originally was, her habit robes were of black, the inner frills white as well as the wimple around her neck, and the veil worn on the head was also black save for a white band. ="Everyone, transform!"= Lifting a rod of brass into the air, the leader of the Magical Girls declared with undaunted determination. Enraged, the demon swiftly brought its hand down before the girls could comply, its sharpened claws eager to dig into them. Quick on their feet, everyone immediately leaped into the air to evade the incoming giant attack, including Claire. This act consequently revealed not traditional stockings or socks worn on her legs, but a yellow stripe garter-belt ornamented with a single white ribbon concealed beneath - she was, oddly enough, unfazed.

Letting out another furious cry at its foes, the fires emanating from its body erupted into an unstoppable furnace, a sign of its growing temper, and promptly unleashed a devastating flame of blue out of its jaws to all who may be caught in it. The Magical Girls did their best to elude it using whatever tricks they had up their sleeves, finding the opportunity to even transform, but it was only after regrouping did they realise its intention - it was isolating them from Elise. All they could do was scream for her now, their path obstructed by walls of inferno both high and low. ="ELISE-CHAN! !"=

Descending ever-so-slowly from the air in this life-threatening trap, the timid young girl focused her gaze onto her checkered skirt as she pushed it down, the updraft trying to raise it up. At the same time, the atrocity devoid of mercy set its burning sight on the distracted girl, keen to see 1 such as her to burn into a black crisp; to hear her scream in pure agony. Opening wide the jaws of Hades and released was a tremendous fiery blue on an innocent, the gates to Heaven would prepare for another guest's entry - the poor soul was doomed. However, despite the approaching fury that would soon engulf her heart and soul, Elise was unusually calm. The girl nonchalantly turned to the Witch, her mind seemingly oblivious to the impending crisis that sought to kill, as the only thing she did in response...was steadily raise her hand, as if to reach out to it, and uttered a single phrase. "Schützen" The flames of disaster, a most deadly weapon, effortlessly swallowed her whole, snuffing her life away like a lit candle. Yet, there she levitated, undeterred and unharmed.

That attack was not enough to vanquish her; it would never be enough to quell the almighty existence of Magical Girl Elise of Mitakihara as the remaining azure blaze dissipated into nothingness, the school uniform substituted by leather-based and fabric-based articles with no name. Comprising of tiny hexagonal shapes, the impenetrable energy sphere faded at a whim, a weak breeze of supernatural origin swayed both the web-patterned skirt and simple purple short cape of royal shade whilst Elise raised a finger towards her nemesis' burning skull, her arm covered in a loose sleeve of the same colour tied by a buckle around the bicep while surrounding the wrist was deep yellow with black web-patterns, before proceeding to chant with indifference. "Wässern" At the sound of the Germanic language, a sapphire sigil of considerable size pulsated with life. Expanding to dominate the upper half of the dome, a gift to this lair of gloom was delivered: A welcoming torrent known to humans as a downpour.

The bright blue flames were beginning to wane, the rain washing away the gathered sins, leaving nothing behind left but the naked bones of a savage berserker. Anger seething within, its eyes locked with whom it loathed so much. To be bested by a maiden of magic was sheer humiliation as it roared once more. Elise, a special girl with incredible talents and a large leather-brown head-wear giving off the impression of twin hanging ears, was a true witch - the embodiment of traditional folklore itself.

="Everyone...!"= Prepared to dispense justice upon their foe, the heroines gripped their distinctive weapons, eager to finish this battle once and for all in one fell swoop. ="...it's time for an ALL-OUT-ATTACK!"= At Claire's decisive command, everybody launched a combined assault against the abominable Witch of Japan.

It was now or never...

Komachi threw herself forward before springing into mid-air, and with a naginata in hand and another summoned to her other hand, she yelled for attention as she brought them down. "Pa-eob Beulleideu"

Running her fingers through a series of strings attached to the golden heart-shaped lyre with gentle grace, Hiyori's amber eyes shot open, shining with resolve. ="Dissonance's Song!"=

The diamond jewel secured on the tip of the brass rod gave off a faint sky-blue shimmer, the gem crackling with a certain element. ="Violent storms of Nature, I invoke your name!"= Dancing along its smooth surface, the electricity of a 1,000,000 volts gradually travelled through the rod and quickly up her left arm before being discharged in the form of an overwhelming barrage of volatile bolts. "Sandaja!"

Elise, aided by magic to remain afloat, gestured the Witch's inevitable defeat. "Zerstörung。" The air itself suddenly became thin, a fleck of white snow slowly glided past her cheek until more occupied her space - the Magical Girl had called forth an immense icicle from the mind...and her intent involved fatal impalement with a hint of anguish.

Inexperienced as they were, both Hana and Ayame took the risk of attacking instead of standing idly by. With 6 against 1, the odds were in their favour and loss was but a thing left forgotten.

Clashing metal, restrictive strings, deafening lightning, freezing spear, heavenly light and the power of a 1,000 squirrels, the monstrosity of the human race screamed at the inconceivable pain. It struggled to fight back against the tiny maidens, swinging its claws to desperately kill at least 1, and in that moment of confusion, the Witch was no more.

Charred and damaged...

Lifeless and silent...

That was all that remained with countless bones scattered across the now-wet dome, marking its untimely demise.

Victory, after a long battle against evil, was finally theirs to claim.

="Haah... Haaah.. Haaaah..."= Falling onto her knees, Komachi's body was rendered exhausted, her pair of long weapons disappearing into a mix flurry of light and flowery petals. ="We did it... Haaaaah..."= She huffed and puffed again, seemingly unable to catch her breath. ="I thought we were really going to die for a second..."=

="Me...too..."= Pressing her hand firmly against her chest as she stood, Kisaragi was also tired. ="I never knew...Witches could be so...scary."=

="It's...normal, Hana-chan."= Hiyori replied, her clothes made entirely of soft yellow fabric, save for the rubber boots of orange colour, were drenched from the rain. ="Elise-chan...are you all right?"=

Steadily gliding back onto the ground with purple tip-pointed shoes on her feet, Elise gave a sigh of relief as she nodded in agreement.

="Elise-chan is a very powerful mage."= Ayame complimented with interest, her attention turning to the leader. ="Did you train her, Claire-chan?"=

The girl shook her head in response. ="Elise-chan is a natural. When I first met her, I was shocked by her speciality in summoning magic."=

="Claire-chan and I fought one time; I won."=

="Now, now, Elise-chan. I merely forfeited the battle, meaning nobody won."=

="You gave up because I was stronger, Claire-chan~"=

="Not this again..."=

The magic of laughter gradually transformed the miserable atmosphere into a comprehendible one, their smiles and hearts binding them together to strengthen a bond of undying friendship. Hana, watching them with delight, saw that despite the lurking dangers in Witch Hunting, the light of happiness could still be found no matter how deep the black depths of despair may be. Would she and Ayame fit in, she pondered? If not straightaway, the 2 would work hard to uphold justice and to earn their place - to live a double life, 1 ordinary and 1 secret, would be a challenge worth participating. ="Claire-chan, it's getting late. We should head home, now."=

The leader of the group nodded, but before they left, she had something particular in mind. ="Girls, let us celebrate today's victory with a cheer!"= She suggested with enthusiasm, her hands clapped together. Without hesitation, everyone agreed in union as they formed a circle in preparation. Counting down from 3 to 1, the group cried. ="BANZAI! BANZAAAI! BANZAAAAAI!"= With each round of applause and a giggle of joy, their arms were raised high into the air.

The battle was won, but the war between light and darkness was far from over.

It was time to leave; say goodbye to this sodom dome forever. ="Strange..."= However, curiosity quickly caught Claire's mind, and at the same time, she was disturbed. ="The barrier is still active."=

She, as far as everyone else could tell, was correct - this prison had yet to collapse into oblivion, despite the Witch's defeat. The haunting atmosphere lingered, the torches continued to burn and the luner rays could not penetrate the lair. Hiyori shivered with dread, her soul being invaded by anxiety. ="We're not...trapped...are we?"= Silence was the only answer to her question as she held the lyre close to her heart, grasping it ever-so-tightly.

="Hiyori-chan, don't worry. I'm sure we're-"= Hana reached out to her distressed colleague, trying to shield her from the feeling of confinement. In the midst of their unforeseen predicament, a bone rolled towards them. Frightened, everyone immediately turned their attention to it and, to their disbelief, noticed the pile of remains moving. It pulsed like a heartbeat, again and again. Swallowing her fears, Hana volunteered to inspect whatever it may be. Taking it step by step as she gradually closed the distance, the novice readied her pair of metallic arm-length tonfas, holding them close to her head. After taking one final cautious step, all motion ceased to be, the tension generated from the source vanished into the void. She leaned forward, scanning for any possible life to no avail. Lowering her guard and releasing a heavy sigh, Hana looked to her friends with assurance. ="...it stopped."= Oddly, they did not take this news lightly. Written on everyone's faces was the sign of horror, their eyes wide and mouths open as they shouted. The girl couldn't hear them, unable to determine what they were saying, but she was able to understand one physical action: A straight finger - they were pointing at something behind her. Confused, Hana slowly turned to see what they were warning her about, but as soon as she bore witness, everything fell apart.

Her body was throbbing with pain, her ears ringing with a noise that muffled all sounds. ="Ha...chan..."= She couldn't register what was happening, her eyes struggling to stay open. ="Healing Melody!"= A warm light blanketed her being, washing away whatever injury she may have received as her sight returned. ="Hana-chan!"= Leaning over the Magical Girl was a person wearing a frantic expression, har hands grabbing onto Hana's shoulders as she persistently shook her. ="Wake up! Wake up! !"=

="Hiyori...chan...? Wha- Ow!"= A stinging sensation sent a sharp message through her nerves, her left arm seemingly unable to heal as it bled. Looking around, Kisaragi Hana came to the realisation that she had been thrown across the field, backhanded by the cold touch of skinless bones.

It was a legless lifeform, its arms long and larger-than-average body cloaked in tattered robes of the blackest shade as it levitated in mid-air. It was watching them, gazing into their souls with a skull of a full-grown goat and empty eyes - it was a shinigami, a God of Death. ="Damn you...!"= Charging in head-first towards the threat, the brave Komachi leapt into the air, pulling back her spear for a horizontal swipe. A fatal impact was delivered, the blade cutting deep into its enemy. Unexpectedly, it was not the creature whom became the receiver, but the assailant. A scream echoed, one that belonged to Komachi as Death seized her by the throat, holding her hostage before the Magical Girls whilst brandishing a skeletal scythe that was once its former tail.

Desperate to rescue her, 2 girls stood forward, their courage undaunted by its staggering burst of speed. ="Ayame-chan, you must distract it!"= Issuing an order, the recruit complied with a nod, her sword and shield prepared as she approached diligently. ="Spark of calamity, heed my-"= Stopping in midsentence, Claire was suddenly attacked without warning, the Death God having hurled Komachi towards her, colliding them together as they fell across the floor.

="Claire-chan! Komachi-chan!"= There was nothing Yayoi could had done to prevent that, her ally tossed at a rate faster than she could perceive. Quickly as she turned to face her fallen friends, the horrendous smell of darkness originated from behind her, an evil shadow casting over her shivering self. Tightening her grip over her offensive and defensive weapons, the warrior swiftly spun to eliminate the Witch, but her short blade made contact with no such entity. Instead, she cried out in agony, her lungs coughing up crimson blood. What sounded like a snarl soon transformed into an all-out roar as Death lifted the impaled girl up, her eyes tainted with fear before launching her back to the group drained of vitality...except for 2 individuals. Wielding the blood-covered scythe with its skeletal fingers, the merciless creature swiped the empty air, sending out a crescent-shaped phantom blade of vast omnipotent red energy to deal the finishing blow.

="Harmonic Resonance!"=

"Beschützen!"

Combining their magical abilities to construct a force-field large enough to fend off against attacks such as this one, little did they know that their overconfidence would be their undoing - the energy shattered their defence like glass, propelling the 2 back in defeat. ="What kind of Witch is that...?"= Hana, horrified by what she had seen with her own eyes, asked her fellow Magical Girls in distress. ="Why is it stronger than before...!?"=

="It's a Hyper-Witch."= Standing beside her, Kyūbey flicked his tail as he answered. ="These type of Witches are much more dangerous in comparison to standard Witches and they can't be detected."= Turning to watch Hana with beady eyes, he continued. ="If I knew it was going to come to this, I would have told you to run."= At the end of his explanation, a demonic laughter was heard echoing throughout the lair, the shinigami mocking the group's effort and below-average strength in despatching its existence. With open arms and runic symbols encircling its being, a scorching pain suddenly transpired on their right hands. As soon as it disappeared and upon closer inspection, their palms had actually been branded with a number. To their horror, they knew exactly what this was - it was a real Death Clock, a curse that would bring about the end to their beating hearts as the digit mystically changed, ticking away the final minute to their precious lives.

All hope was lost, the Magical Girls descending into a state of panic and despair.

Komachi screamed. ="W-We're going to die...! WE'RE GOING TO DIE!"=

Hiyori cried. ="Papa... Mama... Save me!"=

Elise sorely expressed aloud in doubt. ="We...lost...?"=

Claire comtemplated their downfall. ="Why now...?!"=

And Ayame, lying in defeat and unable to move a muscle, simply wept as her vision blurred. ="It...hurts..."=

39 seconds...

39 seconds remained until the shadow of Death reaped their souls from mortal bodies. Hana never thought it would come to this, that she would die on her first day of being a Magical Girl alongside her friends. A tear rolled down her cheek as she tensed her eyelids shut in frustration, struggling to accept that fact alone.

30 seconds...

The memories of happy days, whether it was with Ayame or her family, flashed before her: Playing in the park, walking down the beach, riding on Otō-san's shoulders as a young toddler - many more surfaced like a bottle at sea; many more drowned out by the passage of time. The most recent of them all, a memory of maidens smiling in happiness, was the last to remind Hana of a bright future they could have obtained.

24 seconds...

"Sabaibu..." However, she would not surrender to fate's cruelty. It would be a future Hana would see through, together with her friends, as her branded palm formed into a fist trembling with fury. "We uiru SABAIBU!!!" Declaring at the top of her voice, she removed her cloak and threw it to the side, revealing a red midriff shirt adorned with a hand-size bow, covering only the top half and exposing the navel button beneath, as Kisaragi Hana dashed with hand blazing the power of concentrated energy. "Asutoraru Hīto!!"

10 seconds...

All her dreams, desires and love for everyone she ever knew were poured into that single hand, amassing until there was no more to spare. Here and now, the lives of 7 would be decided: 6 servants of magic and 1 gatherer of souls - everything was in her hand now, the power to obliterate a God. "Puranetto KURASSHĀĀĀĀĀĀ!!!"

5...

...4...

...3...

...2...

...1...

...0.

-=/VII\=-


~2011/08/28~

ᕙ23=DAYS=LATER

[NIGHT]


-=\VII/=-

"Gurīfu Shīdo、getto!"

Another day, another successful Witch Hunt.

A small amount of days had already come and gone after that death-defying encounter with a Hyper-Witch, a pseudo-shinigami that attempted to cut their lives short - to Hana, that day seemed almost like yesterday.

Tonight's extensive search throughout Mitakihara Town had left them exhausted, the glasses-wearing girl willing to trade in the last few remaining minutes for a good night's sleep as she yawned and stretched her arms in the air. ="I'm tired, Ayame-chan. Let's stop for today and go home."= She suggested whilst rubbing her eyes, her brain threatening to shut down if she didn't rest. That, however, was the least of her worries as a brief gale whispered by their ears and soon followed by eerie silence - her crime-fighting partner was seemingly lost in thought with back turned, unable to hear her young friend. ="Ayame-chan...?"=

="Hana..."= Having dropped the honorific a week ago, the tall maiden suddenly uttered out into the open, surprising the girl before continuing. ="What are Witches?"=

="Eh? Umm..."= Perplexed by that question with answer known to all Magical Girls, Hana looked to the black clouds with finger pressed against her chin, thinking back to the past. ="Witches are...monsters born from humanity's negative desires."= She replied, nodding in the end with certainty.

="What are we?"=

="Magical Girls born from hope."=

="And what do we do?"=

Hana the squirrel quickly jumped to strike a pose, her hand forming a V-shaped sign of peace over her head before her feet landed back on solid ground. ="We protect the innocent as Allies of Justice~!"= It was odd for 1 such as Yayoi Ayame, a smart and brilliant student, to question the nature of light and dark - the battle between Harmony and Discord were like the individual pieces of chess, the Earth itself doubling as the black and white board as well as the ultimate prize.

Ayame was clearly in doubt, her eyes concealed in shadow. ="...that is a lie."=

="A...lie?"= Hana titled her head in confusion, apparently lost for words as she spoke to herself in that mind of hers. (Why would Ayame-chan say that? She's probably just tired. I should try and cheer her up~!) Grinning with confidence to lift the discouraging mood that surrounded them, Hana sought to reach out to Ayame's injured heart, hoping to heal it with kindness. ="What are you saying, Ayame-chan? It's the truth~"=

For over 23 days and 23 nights, hidden in secret, mankind's nocturnal enemies had been slain time after time again by 2 promising maidens of magic. They had fought alongside each other in an effort to quell the eternal night, never requiring the assistance of others. They were content, their teamwork effective, and they were grateful to be a small part of something bigger. ="Daniel was right..."= Despite what they had accomplished in such a short amount of time, Ayame did not seem at ease with their actions as she uttered somebody's name aloud on this very night, her tone of voice sounding almost betrayed. ="How could I have been so blind? I should have seen the connection..."=

="Ay-Ayame-chan, who is 'Daniel'...?"= Hana merely watched as her friend grabbed her skull in distress, seemingly oblivious to Hana's question whilst sobbing continuously. As a friend, she couldn't simply stand back and witness such tragedy play out before her, even if she may not fully understand the situation. ="Ayame-chan, are you all ri-"= Out of concern, Kisaragi gradually reached out to the saddened girl, believing that, no matter how far Magical Girls descended into the depths of despair, Yayoi Ayame would cling to the radiance of hope and return to her usual self. However, the only thing that returned before her eyes was a quill tip, the sharpened end directed at Hana's throat - it was Ayame's choice of weapon: A short sword tinted in white; engraved with the same runic language.

Her ocean-blue eyes were overflowing with regret.

="I killed so many..."= Trembling with agitation, her hand was unable to keep the blade steady. ="We murdered them without a second thought."=

="Ayame-chan, you're scaring me."=

="You should be..."= She said coldly, gritting her teeth. ="You and I have changed - we are above humans, but at the same time, we are below them."= Her strength was slowly fading, causing her to lower the weapon to the ground. ="I don't deserve this life; I don't deserve being magical anymore."=

Ayame's condition was deteriorating with each passing second, the buildings towering over them casted nothing but dismal darkness, the moon being their only source of light. ="We're still human, Ayame-chan - that's all that matters."= Hana stated as she took a step forward. ="We're hu-"=

="WE'RE NOT 'HUMAN'! !"= At the sound of her voice screaming with refusal, her arm quickly lifted high into the air before immediately bringing it back to the ground. In the blink of an eye, steel versus steel clashed with 1 another, the sparks flying freely in all directions.

="Ay-Ayame-chan!?"= Defending herself with a set of tonfas, Hana did her best to repel the warrior of light's sudden attack, but the latter was exceedingly strong. ="St-Stop! We're Magical Girls! We're not supposed to fight each other!"=

="You're wrong, Hana. We are not 'Magical Girls'."= Yayoi proclaimed as she forced Hana to her knees. ="When we made our wish that day, our fates were written in stone."= She closed whatever gap there was between her and Hana, her glare piercing into hazel-coloured eyes. ="We will fight and fight until every last ounce of blood within us has been spilt; we will blindly tear apart all we deem as enemies until we share their destiny."= With Hana's mind left in a mystified state, a powerful kick was delivered to the abdomen, launching the frightened maiden off into the distance as she violently rolled across the ground before coming to a stop - her clothes now stained with dirt. ="We...are childish killers. THAT is the undeniable TRUTH! !"=

The energy in the beaten girl's arms were drain as she tried to lift herself up, but at the same time, blood gradually trickled from her forehead and subsequently dripped down to her red bow. ="A-Ayame...chan..."= The comparison between them was close to being equals, their abilities specialising typically around melee-combat. However, Kisaragi knew next to nothing about the exact amount of experience Yayoi had gained from training alone. ="You're...wrong. Y-You have to be. The Ayame-chan I know..."= Focusing her mind on the matter at hand, pushing the so-called 'truth' from Ayame aside, she gathered what little strength remained and pushed herself upright. ="...would never think like that!"= She declared before charging head-first with metallic weapons in hand, screaming with determination to set Ayame back on the path to righteousness. Lunging forward, the right-handed tonfa made contact with the delusional Magical Girl, but the sound of metal rang in the air as Hana widened her eyes, realising Ayame had deflected the attack with a circular shield composed of hardened white feathers.

="The world is not black and white, Hana."= The tall student made another attempt to strike her former friend. However, quick on her feet, Hana swiftly dodged the razor-sharp quill. ="It is grey - just like everything else in life!"= Anticipating the manoeuvre, the fallen maiden shined a golden radiance, her blade suddenly extending in length. "Rekuiemu Ēterunamu!" Crying out a chant of Latin origin with no window of opportunity to escape for the hooded teenager, the serrated sword tore through Hana's chest from the waist all the way up to the right shoulder in an angle, her voice echoing in agonising pain throughout the night as her feet left the surface, her body sent flying until gravity itself immediately dragged her back to the ground.

There was blood splattered everywhere:

The walls littered with maze-like constructed pipes...

Ayame's stern face and uniform...

Even the sky rained red for a brief second.

Defeated, powerless and the sudden loss of warmth, Kisaragi Hana struggled to do something: Move, stand, call for help, her body refused to respond as a sinister shadow engulfed her being. ="I am sorry it came to this, Hana."= Traces of sadness reigned supreme in those blue eyes of hers as the sword drenched in crimson raised under the lunar light, the wind gradually becoming stronger - death would be delivered with but a single strike, her choice unwavering. ="Our friendship...ends here."=

="D-Don't..."= This was not the Yayoi Ayame she once knew from loving times, her vision becoming blurry. ="Pl-Please...open your eyes...!"= Who was this impostor whose face was that of a familiar friend? Why would fate employ such cruelty upon the maidens of magic, to tip the delicate scale in which they balanced on? Who was this 'Daniel' she had mentioned before innocent blood was shed, a name that held no meaning to Hana but to act as a lingering mystery? 1 thing was clear - there was more to this world than she knew, forces behind-the-scenes that were intent to pull the threads of destiny towards an unknown goal, 1 that may bring about total annihilation to all life on planet Earth. ="AYAME!"=

However...

"Somunusu!!"

...there was no seat for Kisaragi Hana to uptake, no role as part of the main cast, for she was but a pawn in the game of death.


={SOUL'S MONOLOGUE #04}=


I never saw Ayame as the type to claim the title of 'Dark Magical Girl'.

Just like me, she had secretly relished in the idea of upholding justice - to protect the weak from the strong.

We fought as 1 Magical Girl, 1 body and soul under the cover of night...

...but the events that day tore us apart.

The others soon found me alive, my wound healed, and Ayame gone.

It was then I realised 'somnus' did not relate to anything lethal.

It was the Latin phrase for 'sleep'.

I cried that day, knowing it was a disaster I could have prevented.

I cried...

...because I was her only childhood friend.

-=/VIII\=-


~2011/09/25~

4=WEEKS=LATER

[NIGHT]


-=\VIII/=-

="Did they find her yet?"=

="No."=

="...oh."= A storm was brewing in the distance as elemental thunder rumbled for all to hear, especially for 1 such maiden in a foetal position at the top of a skyscraper of glass, her arms wrapped around her legs. (Ayame-chan, where are you...?)

4 weeks had passed since Hana's heart-breaking clash against the supposed 'Dark Magical Girl' of Mitakihara, the former unable to return to a life of Witch Hunting without her partner. Stricken with grief, she would cry herself to sleep every night with only her pet squirrel, and occasionally the Messenger of Magic, to commune with in an effort to cope with tragedy's scars.

It was a worthless attempt, for Kisaragi Hana's soul was seared with Yayoi's saddened face and voice, never to be erased for as long as she continued to draw breath.

In her hand was the Magical Girl's own precious Soul Gem, its brilliant brown shine now obscured in black particles of mystical origin - presumably magic, but now decayed like dead cells of the human body. In her other hand was a hardened object of significant value, its polished surface reflecting Hana's image as she gazed into its dark core. -(Kyūbey, what is this? A 'Grief Shard'?)- She remembered asking that very question out of curiosity shortly after the defeat of the Hyper-Witch, her fingers examining its elegant, yet small, design of a fragmented stone as she recalled another voice.

-(They are known by many names. For the sake of simplicity, we call them 'Crystals'.)-

That was the answer given to her by the cat himself, his long white ears swaying in the wind as he sat next to the Magical Girl. ="It's been four weeks now, Hana."= He reminded, his head tilting to the side. ="Given the circumstances, Ayame may already be dead."= He looked away to scratch his neck and lick his paw, seemingly absorbed in his own activities. ="Even if someone made a wish to bring Ayame back from the grave, she would not be the same."= After explaining to the young and distraught girl, he turned to gaze with bright eyes. ="I am sorry, Hana. There is nothing more anyone can do."=

Deep in her heart, his words transformed into a dagger and pierced the fragile shell that contained what was left of the light called hope. The Gem in her hand gathered another tiny speck of blackness, her eyes staring ever-so-deeply into its centre. -(Eh? My Soul Gem is darker...)- Hana recalled a time when she first witnessed such oddity with her own eyes, a time when her duties as an Ally of Justice were simply and clear.

-(Every time you fight, your Soul Gem will lose some magic. You'll have to use a Grief Seed to replenish it, otherwise, you'll eventually run out.)-

The words of Komachi clung to her mind as she held both items side-by-side, examining them:

To allow the black flakes of magic to consume the light would be foolish, but after what happened to Ayame, Hana should deserve it.

However, she could atone for her mistake by saving lives. Dangerous as it may be, Hana may find the forgiveness she so desperately yearned for from Ayame in the afterlife.

The hazel light was weakening; the darkness about to reach the peak of her treasured Soul Gem. In the end, the choice was made before her eyes with but a single touch on the Gem's external shell, the many flakes within escaping from captivity and merging with Crystal in hand, restoring the sacred light once lost. Suddenly, swirling around the fragment was a supernatural aura, its hardened core emitting a burning flame of purple colourisation in reaction, and as the fire grew with intensity, the dark object was no more - the Crystal mysteriously vanished from existence.

It did little to faze her, the details at this point were irrelevant. ="I'm done crying."= Her path was set: To live on with conviction was the only way as a Magical Girl. Much would have to be sacrificed; much would have to be put aside. Kisaragi Hana need only fight for the week as the strongest Magical Girl alive, even if it would mean fighting alone. Standing up, she raised her hand and reached for her glasses, tossing it away swiftly as it descended to the city below - she did not need to rely on it anymore, her sight returned by the power called magic.

The needs of the many outweighed the needs of the few - that was all that mattered in the eternal conflict against evil.

-=/IX\=-


~2012/01/04~

PRESENT=TIME

[EVENING]


-=\IX/=-

="I am your opponent, Magical Girl Kisaragi Hana!"= The stage was set: Good vs. Evil; Girl vs. Boy - a legendary battle that would forever remain undocumented in human history, a battle known only to all participants in the mystical arts, as the maiden of magic summoned her weapons in a brilliant display of flickering lights, her hands tightening into fists fused with passion. ="Let's go, Man of Mystery!"= A noise rang loud and clear throughout the forest of green as smoke left the steel barrel, the stranger having made the first move. Dodging the incoming shot with impossible reflexes, the bullet grazing across her cheek, a tree from afar was set ablaze, leaving nothing but fiery remains as the wind howled. (Now!) Immediately throwing herself forward at this opportunity, the Magical Girl pulled her fists back, ready to deliver a shattering impact on the man's torso in retaliation. "Infinitto Rasshu!" =("Infinite Rush!")= Declaring her attack, a series of lightning fast punches were launched, blows that were rendered unseen to the naked eye. However, much to Hana's surprise, her adversary was able to evade them without struggle. As expected, he attempted to land another shot, but such weapon forged from magic was demolished into glass after Hana smashed it with but a single strike.

Unarmed and defenceless, a powerful jab to the stomach would suffice in subduing him; a single punch to obtain certain victory. "Finisshu!" Like the deadly force of a 1000 men, the glowing tonfa imbued with power struck its foe, cutting this fight short between opposite genders as a powerful breeze exploded to signal the end. At least, that was what should had happened were it not for the foreboding sound of clashing metal ringing into her ears. Hana gasped in realisation, her heart beating frantically - she had left herself wide open. (Oh no...!) As soon as her mind registered the danger, it was already too late. The feeling of pain travelled through the nerves, signalling the immense pain before quickly dodging another attack and leaping back to a safe distance. Kisaragi gritted her teeth, her arms and legs too weak to continue. If she didn't find rest soon, her body would collapse from exhaustion. Taking in a deep breath as she inspected her blood-stained arm, the fluid trickling ever-so-slowly, the human squirrel redirected her gaze and gave an aggressive glare at the man, hoping to instil the slightest bit of fear. (Black...claws?) Around his forearms were sharpened talons protruding from protective gauntlets tinted in pitch-black darkness, their combined size and length able to utterly tear an individual to shreds without mercy - an understanding the man seemingly lacked in general as he approached devoid of hesitation, his eyes dull and fully intent to snuff the life out of the Magical Girl.

With each step he took, the more her heart sank into an endless ocean of dread.

With each step he took, the more Hana shivered with fear - the thought of being torn limb from limb, or possibly being skinned alive, frightened her dearly to the point she desired escape from such horrendous experience.

And escape...would be hers to obtain. "Obusukyura Furasshu" =("Obscura Flash!")= Raising her fist high up and then smashing the green earth, a blinding white light was unleashed, distracting the killer as he recoiled back in confusion. "Asuteroido Bijon" =("Asteroid Vision!")= Following up with a magical chant, both Kisaragi Hana and her mirror twin immediately dashed towards him, crying for attention as 1 readied herself with tonfas and the other gripping the dual daggers' securely. Despite being outnumbered by 2 to 1, he was undeterred - calm and calculating, the antagonistic killer swung his black claws, slicing the twins into various segments in the blink of an eye. Yet, there was no bloodshed, no screams or falling body parts, as the identical girls faded into nothingness.

Even after that cunning trick, he was still undeterred.

="Hah... Haah..."= Hana was exhausted, her chest beating faster than she could bear and her large puffy tail stiff. She had to stay hidden for now, otherwise she would lose in this 1-on-1 battle. Carefully taking a peak over her cover in the form of a tree, monitoring the heartless warrior, Hana tried to keep her breathing under control. -(Kyūbey, do 'Magical Boys' exist?)- A voice from the past retuned, her own voice to be precious, and within her mind, the voice of the Messenger of Magic answered.

-(Yes...and no.)-

-(Eh?)-

-(Young females are able to harness magic because of the Magical Girl System. Likewise, males should also be able to do the same under a similar system.)- Hana recalled, Kyūbey's words bursting with wisdom. -(To the extent of my knowledge, there is no such system for them. In other words, they are an irregularity - Magical Boys should not exist.)-

-(They...shouldn't exist? But, you grant wishes and make contracts. You're still responsible for those, aren't you?)-

-(That would be the most logical explanation, and it is true I am responsible for forming contracts, but that only applies for adolescent females. I am not responsible for contracting nor am I able to grant the wish of a young boy. It is beyond my capability.)-

The truth...or a twisted grudge against the opposite gender? As far as she knew, Kyūbey could not lie; everything he said up to this point in time had always intended to aid the Magical Girls in the form of helpful advice. If this was to be taken as factual information, then who was this enigmatic man? What was he after? Why was he an enemy of Magical Girls and an Ally of Injustice? Hana turned her gaze away from the stranger for a mere moment, taking the time to inhale a lungful of fresh air before breathing out, but this was a mistake. A terrible, terrible mistake. Hana cringed, her muscles seizing up in a panic in response to danger - the man was standing right in front of her, his eyes piercing into her own and claws prepared to taste the blood of a heroine.

Driven by instinct, Kisaragi evaded the incoming strike, escaping certain demise, but barely. A second later and she wouldn't be standing anymore, just like the tree of old as it toppled to the ground. Before her mind could process the next plan of action, another attack came from below, the silent man determined to drain the warmth from her body and leave nothing but the cold feeling of death in his wake. (He's fast!) Hana could not keep this up forever, she could avoid at least 2 more attacks before uncertainty clouded her judgement. She had to live: For the sake of everyone as their protector.

For the sake of Yayoi Ayame as memory and friend.

(There!) An opening revealed itself, presenting the perfect opportunity for a counter-attack. Evading the second deadly swipe with a backflip, Hana rushed forward to kick her relentless adversary in the face, propelling herself high into the air. With tonfas pulsating with pure amber energy, Hana spun herself into the correct position before screaming at the top of her lungs. "METEO DAIBU!" =("METEOR DIVE! !")= Like falling debris from outer space, Hana descended with body encompassed by a magical field and weapon directed at her foe - this time, she would be able to land a fatal hit for certain and just like that, she succeeded. (I did it!) Little did she know, even this attack was denied as the tip connected with resilient metal, her field dissipating into thin air with a hole having appeared on the side. Soon after that, something small, yet something hard, assaulted her without warning, lobbing her back into the air akin to a ragdoll. Each impact felt like the weight of a hammer crushing her bones, the pain unbearable. If she was still but a regular human, she would not last long enough to describe it. Still afloat, Hana tried to ignore the torment, her mind concerned more about the man below as she gave a quick glance - he was no longer there. Instead, he was right in front of her once more. The Magical Girl attempted to land a straightforward punch, but before she could even react, the villain immediately grabbed her face and tossed her to the glassy floor far off into the distance, her body rolling violently across the surface until she came to a sudden stop.

This was impossible...

="Who... Who ARE you?!"= She voiced her demand with what little energy remained, her strength dwindling with each passing moment. ="WHAT are you?!"= There was no answer, his lips sealed with no intention to speak. Frustrated by the lack of response, Hana pushed herself upright and glared at him with hazel eyes, but what she saw left her puzzled. (White...spheres!?) The Magical Girl recognised those designs: The round shape, the decorative and metallic flowers on their surface. Hana knew only 1 Maiden of Magic that would fit such description brought about by rumours long ago - the White Magical Girl Mikuni Oriko. She never met her in person, but seeing such hovering objects in action being manipulated by a mysterious individual led to only 1 undeniable conclusion: He stole them.

The power of 2 supernatural weapons, blackened claw gauntlets inscribed with illegible runic characters and whites spheres of cold beauty, both dangerous in their own rights, were more than enough for him to ascertain victory. What was she to do? She could not fight against him anymore, not in her current condition, and even if she could, Hana would undoubtedly find herself lying lifelessly in the puddle of her own crimson blood.

Seemingly irritated by the girl's inability to die, the unnamed villain slashed the invisible air to detach his arm's blades, sending them to seek out and rid Hana of her last breath.

If only she could tip the scale in her favour...

If only she had the skills necessary to defeat him...

If only she had more power...

«And power shall be yours to wield, Kisaragi Hana.»

In the blink of an eye, time itself suddenly came grinding to a halt, the blades suspended and the world's vibrant colours drained until there was nothing but the dreary sight of black and white. «Who...?»

«Shackled beneath your mortal soul is untold power tamed by limits. Can you sense it? Can you hear it crying out to you?»

There was no denying it. Ever since the Magical Girl took notice of her newly-received attire, there was something abnormal inside her body that craved for her undivided attention. «...I can feel it.» Hana replied back to the strange voice, her words within her mind tainted with anxiety. «Who...are you? What is it you want me to do?»

«Release it.» It instructed with a tone as monotone as her surroundings. «Reach in and open the door. Only then will you be strong enough to defeat him.»

«But, power is...» She pondered the thought for a moment, but only empty silence was delivered - to grasp almighty power to equal or even exceed that man's own would be selfish. As a Magical Girl, it was forbidden. She was kind as an angel; not cruel as a devil.

«Why do you hesitate? Do you not desire to shower in glory? Are you not compelled to surpass your nemesis?»

«I...»

«You see power as a means to destroy, correct? Pure and destructive power untainted by morals? That is not true. The world revolves around power; people strive for it. Whether it is to end conflict or to save a life, power is everything.»

«Power...» There was truth in its words. The world did indeed revolve around power, even in the bitter struggle against the supernatural. Both good and evil utilise power through various methods. Whichever fought the hardest, killed for their ideals, the outcome would be decided by the victor - be they righteous or iniquitous.

«It is a means to an end, a means you so desperately seek against all opposition. You yearn for it against your enemies; you hunger for it against all who take advantage of the weak. Accept this gift; let it empower you.» Its words dug into her mind, sounding more and more substantial as Hana continued to listen, her soul tempted by the offer. «Now...give me your answer, Defender of Humanity. Tell me your wish.»

«I...» Colour was gradually bleeding back into reality, her time of safety nearing towards a foreseeable end. It was now or never: Yes or No - a single answer that would shape her into an ideal Maiden of Magic for days to come. «I...want it. I want to be strong enough to defeat him. I want to be powerful enough to protect my friends, my family, and Kohaku from every evil monster out there!» As the gears of time began to march once more, Kisaragi Hana's choice was finally made. «Please, give me POWER! !»

A choice...that would be considered regrettable to those whose view on the world was black and white.

«May Fate smile upon you, Puella Magi Kisaragi Hana -Alter-.»

«'Alter'...? Why did you call- UGH!» A sharp pain suddenly erupted from within her right arm, a lethal sensation consuming her as she grabbed it. There was no answer from the mysterious voice, its short presence having abandoned her. (It hurts... It hurts...!) It was almost as if the burning flames of disaster were eating her away, the feeling gradually making its way from the arm to the shoulder and eventually to her right eye. She couldn't find a way to stop it; she couldn't suppress the unbearable anguish eating her limb. With a frightening, spine-chilling, ear-piercing, terror-inducing echo, the young maiden screamed aloud for all whom may hear her heartrending cry.

The black blades, deadly as they may be, were deflected by abundant crimson veils surrounding and soon slowly enveloping the maiden's body, the ground trembling in response. The man was not taken aback by this. Instead, he merely stood his ground, observing this scene playing out before him with curious eyes.

A volatile gale of red wind exploded throughout the forest, expanding far and wide before dissipating into nothingness. As her scream fell silent, the air tainted with the thickness of tension, the dust gradually cleared to reveal Hana's newly-obtained power manifested in physical form: A gauntlet engraved with the same runic symbols, its colour scheme was that of pitch-black with red accent lines. Despite its heavy appearance, it was actually light, almost weightless, as the Magical Girl clenched her metal fist with a passion. She could feel it, the promised power flowing within her veins as she concentrated everything into that right arm, eager to display the mighty force of a Magical Girl to the Man of Mystery. "Anima Disutōshon: AVUENJĀ!!" =("Anima Distortion: AVENGER! !")= At the sound of her enraged voice and unique name plucked from the top of her head, an illusionary flame matching the colour of hazel ignited from her right eye, absent was the emission of heat. At the same time, a dense mist of deep red immediately shot out from the piece of equipment, her hand gripping ever-so-tightly around the handle of something solid from impulse alone. With a vigorous swing, the weapon acted as a fan and cleared the remaining dust that clouded their vision, setting the stage for the final battle with the golden sun descending in the horizon. ="This will decide EVERYTHING! !"=

The stern individual causally dismissed his magical weapons in a flash of light and darkness as his eyes narrowed, seemingly unimpressed by the girl's undying motivation. Slowly flexing his fingers, his entire right arm soon began to quiver whilst emerald-shaded electricity danced on its surface, as another blinding flash ensued: It was long, roughly around the length of an average person, and wide enough to stand up against any blade. Its iron handle was wrapped in a long blood-red fabric for comfort, the remaining length swaying in the wind, and the underside of its steel surface was designed to shred foes to pieces with sharpened teeth - the lethal saw 'appeared' to be a perfect replication of the Magical Girl's own weapon of choice in every sense of the word, much to Hana's shock, but durability was another matter.

At the sound of a twig snapping under pressure, they instantly charged towards 1 another to exchange deafening blows. When 1 did not relent, the other would strike with all the rage in the world. (Faster...!) When 1 did not accept defeat, the other would attack with all their might until the opponent was no more. (Must go faster...!) The girl gritted in absolute frustration, her magic-imbued saw unable to connect with this aggressive villain as he barred her efforts. (FASTER!) At the height of her unstable anger building towards the verge of erupting, the blade was brought down from the sky and straight onto the antagonist.

No wound was inflicted...

No blood was spilt from his form...

But through her furious temper, Kisaragi Hana shattered the fake silver saw, scattering the glass remains as they laid on the grass before beginning to disintegrate, the imitation destroyed by the original. Yet, despite what had been accomplished, it wasn't enough to satisfy her; to calm the fires fuelling her soul. ="HyyyaaaAAAHHH! ! !"= Crying out, a murderous glare was given before throwing herself forward to deliver a horizontal attack, the eye flame blazing in intensity evermore, but her entire body suddenly came to an unexpected stop. Blood dripped to the ground, painting it red as the man withdrew his arm, pulling back a dagger that had been plunged deep into her abdomen. With a heartless gaze, he proceeded to assault her with a series of brutal kicks that could demolish bones, crushing whatever strength Hana had left before being struck with 1 final straight kick that sent her hurdling into a tall tree, breaking it in 2 as she fell in defeat.

She should have calculated his next move instead of lashing out in aggravation...

She should have formulated a strategic plan before jumping back into the fray...

Kisaragi Hana should never have struck first, and in the end, the price of ignorance was paid in blood. Her vision was blurry and weak, her limbs unresponsive and covered in her own DNA. (I...can't...move...) The people of this world were oblivious to the conflict raging in the woodlands, their everyday lives more important than the lives of those under the title of 'Hero'. Hana could not defend herself any longer, the eye flame extinguished and the long saw having dissipated into a cloud of dark red mist. Soon, she, too, would disappear from this world she called home...and nobody would ever know. «Why...?» She asked whoever may receive her telepathic cry, a tear trickling down her cheek. «Why...can't I beat him? What am I doing wrong...? Please...someone tell me. Annabelle...chan... Claire...chan... Ayame...chan... Somebody...help me...» In the face of reality, nobody came to her aid no matter how hard she hoped for salvation at the end of this gruelling nightmare. All she could do was close her eyes as tight as possible to escape the coming pain and suffering by his tainted hands, her wonderful life of friendship flashing within her mind, and with what little strength she had left was used to mutter a heartful plea. "Herupu...mī..."

"Ha...na...!" A familiar voice rang out to her ears, desperately calling for her attention with light footsteps gradually closing the distance - standing between herself and the killer was the English maiden with open arms, the girl not of this country, the girl who lost everything. "Stop it!"

="Lorina-chan, why?"= Hana struggled to ask, concerned by the girl's inability to follow a simple request such as fleeing. ="I told you to run!"=

"You're my friend, Hana. Friends don't leave others behind, they look out for them!" Lorina Liddell stated out of belief, willing to selflessly shield a friend she recently came to know despite the danger steadily approaching. Brave as she was, the girl exclaimed to the oncoming menace while maintaining her ground. "You have to wake up, you're not yourself! You're possessed by a Witch's Kiss!"

(A Witch's Kiss?!) As soon as the phrase was uttered, Hana's eyes shot open in scepticism. (That's impossible. H-He's like us. He can't be affected!) She wanted to warn her friend with all her might, but drained was her strength and disjointed was her mind to communicate telepathically.

"Please… Remember me! Remember London! REMEMBER THE GOOD YOU DID!" Little Liddell screamed as loud as humanly possible, silence falling upon them soon afterwards. Hana could not believe what she was seeing, her mind unable to process the situation as it, metaphorically speaking, exploded - the nameless man had came to a stop, the daggers splintering into tiny shards of reflective glass. "See, Hana? He was just possessed by a Witch's Kiss." Lorina said, her voice radiating with assurance. "That's-" Comfort was about to wash over the Magical Girl, a sign of peace she so desperately desired, but when the pieces instantly reformed, its silver handle firmly gript and barrel of death aimed, she knew once more the impending emotion of loss would take her.

Yet, there they stood, alive and well, surrounded by spectating trees, as a thunderous bolt struck the empty patch in which he situated, their adversary having somehow evaded with unfeasible reflexes before taking aim at the caster blocking his intended target.

="Claire-chan?!"=

Clad in black, Claire the Magical Nun raised her staff against him, prepared to launch another electrifying assault if necessary. ="So, this is the 'him' you have been referring to. I must admit, I never would have guessed it would be a genuine Magical Boy."= She smirked, amused by the existence of a real-life man utilising magic.

Leaping out from the leaves above, the others arrived to land on the ground, their weapons at the ready. ="Hana-chan, hold still!"= Sitting next to her, Hiyori concentrated her thoughts and called upon her musical instrument in a dazzling display of golden light. ="Heal!"= Plucking the harmonic strings, a shower of warmth cleansed Hana's weakened body, restoring her vitality to its fullest in a matter of seconds.

Komachi, furious at the sight of her friend's brutalised state, clenched her lone naginata as she steadied the bladed tip at the ruthless man with all of her anger. ="You did this?!"= She was inching to throw herself at him, eager to inflict the same pain he had delivered to Kisaragi Hana, but his stature alone convinced her otherwise.

Silent and reserved, Elise simply exchanged a threatening glare with the gun-wielding individual, her mind lined up with various incantations that could either erase him from the face of the planet or restrain him until further notice.

Everyone was here, the group stood united against a common threat. If the killer had the confidence to strike, the 5 would reveal to him that they were more than a match against, if not surpassing, him in every field: Magic, strength, defence, stamina, speed, accuracy and agility.

Much to the entire party's surprise, the enigmatic man lowered his gun and turned his back, fracturing the weapon in his hand to glass as he walked away into the coming night, never to be seen again as the shadows took him.

Hana was glad, a deep sigh of relief leaving her tired lungs after so long - the crisis was finally over.

="You were lucky I was around to intercept your message. Otherwise, you wouldn't even be standing anymore."= Claire said with a strict tone, in which Hana responded with a nod.

"Um, excuse me?" A curious individual spoke her mind, catching everyone's attention. "Who...are you people?" Lorina Liddell asked with eyes sparkling with interest. 1-by-1, the group introduced themselves to the British girl, transforming the mood into something less gloomy and into something more cheerful.

="Oh, you must be 'Lorina Liddell'. Hana mentioned you yesterday."= The nun stood forward, presenting herself first with a gentle aura accompanied by a welcoming smile. ="My name is Kaminariko Claire."=

Plucking a string or 2, an alluring scene of lights and floating musical symbols surrounded the musician of magic, embracing the moment as she spun on her toe with grace. ="Chiasa Hiyori~! Heehee~"= Active as a hopping rabbit, all that was shaped from magic faded into nothingness as the girl gave a loving wave and a jolly grin.

Driving the spear into the ground, the blade facing upwards, the girl with long lavender pigtails pulled back her cheeks for a toothy smile while raising her hand in a V-shaped fashion - the symbol for peace. ="I'm Misaki Komachi!"=

Finally, amongst the others, the last remaining Magical Girl yet to state her name presented a formal bow, displaying both manners and respect to little Liddell. ="Sumiko Elise."=

="Together we are...!"= In union, the girls of Japan gathered and posed, all of them smiling with delight. ="The Neo-Mitakihara Five!"=

="...you left me out."= Hana bluntly pointed out, her face was that of disappointment. Suddenly, she noticed something strange about their uniforms, her eyes widening in curiosity. ="Your clothes, they've-"=

="-changed. We know."= Claire answered, her fingers running across the new staff adorned with metal spiralling down the shaft akin to a snake. The magical uniform resembling a nun rarely changed, appearing almost exactly the same as it did as the original except for some newly-placed jewellery on her body: A heavily-decorated gold necklace with runic markings and yellow lines both swirling and straight around the edges of her black dress. Despite the changes, Claire's lime, diamond-shaped, Soul Gem was still connected to the frame on her left thigh above the garter-belt, much to Hana's perplexity as to why she was even wearing a garter-belt to begin with.

="I actually like it!"= Komachi remarked before twirling in a circle. Her Edo-style magical uniform appeared strikingly similar to the original as well: Dangling off various parts of her clothes such as the hanging sleeves and skirt were tiny yellow bells, a mesmerising chime emitting from them as the girl refused to stand still. On her back, a large bow was attached to the purple sash tied around her waist and twin fabric tails extended down to her legs, resembling colourful insect wings. Finally, sewed to her skirt was the image of a beautiful butterfly. In-fact, Komachi's entire appearance had the motif of a butterfly.

="Me, too~!"= Hiyori clapped her hands together, thrilled by the new features, or lack thereof, on her uniform: Extra detail was added to her clothes, represented as musical symbols sewn to the surface of both the edge of the soft skirt and the yellow gloves. Aside from the detail, there was a piece of accessory clipped to her hair and it, too, was shaped after a musical character. The orange, oval-shaped, Soul Gem did not change nor move from her right wrist, however.

Elise remained silent throughout the gossip, her face beaming with a smile as she nodded in agreement. In comparison to everyone else, Elise received the less cosmetic change, her uniform practically identical: The buckles around her arms had been replaced with metal frames inserted with maroon crystals shining with magic, the same shade as her hair and the oval Soul Gem laced with black ribbons under her neck. Elise's thighs were also attached with frames and crystals as well. This also included the forehead, the frame equipped in the shape of a crown.

="In any case..."= As the wind fluttered past them, Kaminariko raised a finger and pressed it against Hana's chest each time she referred to her. ="You need to go home. You are a mess and you need to rest."=

="Hana-chan, I'll walk with you! That man might show up again."= Komachi suggested, caring for her friend's well-being.

="That's a good idea, Komachi-chan! I'll go with you~!"= Volunteering, Hiyori raised her hand in the air as she jumped to the girl's side.

="Let's meet together again tomorrow."=

="I agree, Elise-chan."= Claire gave a warm smile to Elise for her plan before turning her attention to the others. ="Everyone, I will prepare for your arrival at my place tomorrow. Don't be late."=

="We won't~~!"= With everyone in agreement, the Magical Girls quietly left the stage, the sun about to lose its brilliant light as the silent forest remained as it were. Along the way, Komachi, Hiyori and Hana herself had dispelled their uniforms in their respective colours of violet, creamy yellow, and red as they returned to their traditional apparels, symbol of Mitakihara Middle School. The walk was long and tiresome, but safety was now within their sights, their journey finally at an end. Waving farewell, the 2 cheery Maidens of Magic strolled on an empty path, their journey home having just begun.

"Kohaku-chan、we āru hōmu。" With a sentence uttered in the English language, Hana smiled to Lorina as they marched.

The young girl stopped, however, her attention drawn to something in the distance under the golden clouds. A tear suddenly trickled, her vision blurred, before running as fast as possible towards a pair of shadowy figures with a heart pulsating the emotion called happiness. "Anna! Mary!" Throwing herself at them, Lorina wrapped her arms around the 2, expressing her worried feelings in the form of a loving hug as she sniffed, crying now and again. "I missed you! I missed you two so much that I...I..." She hiccupped before finishing whatever she had to say. "Don't... Don't do that ever again... Please...no more..."

"Kept you waiting, did we? Our sincerest apologies, Lorina Liddell." With a gentle hand running across the tearful girl's long auburn hair, Hana's cousin, Annabelle Reeds, returned the embrace to comfort her, washing away the distress lurking within.

"Yo, who's da Mary Sue?"

"Stay your tongue, Maria Wahrheit. Lest I cut it from you."

"Okay, okay. Calm down. Geez... I was just askin'."

(A happy end...) To see such a scene play out in reality filled Kisaragi Hana's soul with a sensation she had not felt for as long as she could remember. It was a warm feeling akin to a love poem, drawing in whoever may read it; it was a spellbinding feeling that was as rare as they came and fragile to the touch. She had no regrets. She was glad to have fought against evil that threatened Humanity and now that she had met the Man of Mystery, a new danger was imminent.

For the sake of Kohaku...

For the sake of her cousin...

For the sake of Yayoi Ayame...

She would be ready.


={SOUL'S MONOLOGUE #05}=


If there is 1 thing life has taught me...

...it would be that I'm never alone.

Kohaku, Annabelle, Hiyori, Elise, Claire, Komachi...

They will always be there to guide me - whether it's physically or spiritually.

Having powers isn't fun, nobody said it would be.

But as long as Witches exist, I will play my part.

As an Ally of Justice, I will protect everyone.

My name is Hana, daughter of the Kisaragi Family, and I am a Magical Girl.

-=/X\=-


~2012/01/09~

β – EYES OF THE TEACHER β

[MORNING]


-=\X/=-

Immersed in beauty by morning sun unmatched, the breath-taking skies of blue were clear from clouds both black and white, the world below welcoming solace with acceptance. Seeping in through glass scathed from time's abuse, the tender warmth paved across surfaces and eventually reached hands most delicate, a smile on the celebrity's red lips. Half a year had already come and gone since she last laid eyes on her beloved Mitakihara, the days and weeks devoted to higher education and lessons to expand her talent. In the beginning, she was but a face in a crowd cared by none, her existence forever trapped in solitude; in the end, she was known and loved by all of Japan as their #1 star, her spirit freed from depravity and renewed with golden fame. Off into the distance, surrounded by the glistening sea, the student gazed with yellow eyes attracted by the extraordinary, its mighty presence basked in the dense mist of mystery - the Tree of Life, Yggdrasil, was a sight to behold.

Cold was the touch of support beams and seats, the refreshing breeze from an open window pressing against her soft cheeks, the cart in which she resided was devoid of life. She was alone once more, yet her smile continued to persist, knowing the crushing sensation of loneliness would never conquer her again. Attached above, the hanging straps swayed side-to-side as the transportation itself continued down the railroad - it would not be long now before she arrived at her destination. Unexpectedly, a familiar vibration crawled up her leg, the source originating from pockets occupied originally in preparations for today's busy schedule. Reaching in, a personal flip-phone was retrieved, the digital screen displaying the name of a colleague. Opening the cover with a flick of the wrist, the star relaxed the device on her ear and answered with manners most polite. ="Good morning, Shinji."=

=["Good morning."]= A kind, masculine voice returned the formal greeting through the wireless phone. =["Did you hear? Our High School is closed today."]=

="I know."= She replied, her free hand readjusting the accessory around her neck, a piece of the dress code she must abide alongside the rest of the dark uniform: A yellow bow tie, a long black sleeve jumper with lines of white stitches sewn in at various points and a three pointed star-shaped emblem at the centre of the chest, a medium-length skirt with a checkered board design of black and grey, a pair of black opaque pantyhose and leather-based shoes each with a single buckle strap and white cross-shaped stitches on the side. ="Which is why I am going to use this spare time to visit Mitakihara."=

=["Mitakihara?"]= Finding the location of her choosing to be somewhat humorous, a quiet chuckle could be heard escaping through the phone. =["Worried about your friends, correct?"]=

Wtih a straightforward answer, she, too, let loose a giggle of her own. ="Correct."=

=["Do you think it's true? About Yggdrasil being a type of irregular Walpurgis Night?"]= He reminded with a rumour brought about by neighboring Magical Girls, their supernatural uniforms having undergone transmogrification upon the advent of the inexplicable.

="Maybe..."= She said with uncertainty, having never encountered a colossal giant trapped in water. Tilting her head down, her golden eyes sealed from bothersome thoughts, the student frowned. ="If it is Walpurgis Night, then it must be taken care of."=

A caring suggestion was provided, worried about her safety. =["Be careful."]= Hearing such advice, the welcoming beam returned, the girl's heart beating with affection. =["If you encounter a Witch, are you going to use-"]= There was a pause before he could continue, his mind struggling to string the next set of words. =["Ahh, how you did you say it again?"]= He asked out of curiosity. ["'I am za Bonu ofu mai Sōdo'?"]

Giggling once more in response to such broken English amusing to the ear, the student in good spirit answered. ="That is wrong, Shinji~ It is..."= She was eager to reply with the correct pronunciation, her lips prepared to form and utter the words, but her attention was drawn elsewhere for a brief moment, the small TV screen above broadcasting a recorded advertisement:

'Hello, everyone! It's me - the Idol of Magic Tomoe Mami!

Very soon, I'll be holding a concert right here in Mitakihara City for the debut of my new single: Luminous!

Don't miss out on this opportunity to see me dance on stage and sing to my heart's content!

Tiro Finale~~❤'

Blowing a heart-shaped kiss to the audience, CGI orbs of pure light encircled the star, their nature harmless and lively, as the camera withdrew to reveal the famous concert in all its splendour, one that would soon take the country by storm, the many seats occupied by enthusiast fans of all ages. To witness such a young and bright individual standing on stage, dancing to the sound of music, filled the girl's soul with immeasurable glee - Tomoe Mami was proud to have walked the path of fame and fortune.

She was proud to be adored by all.

"I am the Dream of my Soul."

-=/\*/\=-


~End of Gaiden...~


-=\/\/*\/\/=-

Author's Notes: I was originally going to make a 'the one ring to rule them all!' reference, but it didn't work.

Hana's story has been told and Mami is an idol! Oh, yes! She is now everybody's waifu...or something like that.

Be sure to leave a review! The more reviews I receive, the better I can learn from my mistakes.

More importantly, this is where I stop. I've got a lot of stuff lined up on my to-do list, so don't expect an update from me for a while. Sorry about that.

'Pa-eob Beulleideu' (파업 블레이드) is Korean for 'Blade Strike', according to Google Translate.

'Rekuiemu Ēterunamu' (Requiem Aeternam) is Latin. No idea what it translates to in English.