There's a girl on the floor.

I killed her.

I killed her because she is a monster; she just didn't know it yet. She was still too shaken up over what happened to Sayaka- they all were- to have made the connection. Not me.

I'm a monster too. Well, I will be. That's inevitable. I didn't know that until just an hour ago, when my friend turned into one. She loved a boy, some guitarist who got in an accident that crushed his hand. She made a wish to heal it, so he could play again, so he would love her.

He didn't. Love her, I mean. He just thought she was a friend, she cried onto my living room table while I, completely at a loss what to do, shoved a small slice of red velvet cake in a futile attempt at comfort. Someone who listened to music with him, who helped her with her math after she helped him with English. Someone to trade gossip with (he's a boy, though, so he doesn't call it that), to pass the time chatting about nothing, to distract him from his crippling injuries after his accident, but not to love. Never to love.

Literally sold her soul (although she didn't know that at the time; none of us did) for a boy who didn't even want her. And then, her best friend told her she loved him too, and she was going to ask him out if Sayaka didn't.

Well, she did, finally mustered up her courage after years of crushing on him in silence, and it turned out he never thought of her that way. And then she came to my apartment to cry a little, then stumbled out after she had cried so much she literally had no more tears, just sad, abortive sobs.

How horrible is that? And she's not even the worst. Homura's never hinted to us what her wish was, but sometimes, there's more pain behind those red reading glasses than anyone should ever have, when she looks at all of us like one looks at their parent's bodies, lying in coffins at their funeral. Well, now I know why she had that haunted look when Madoka and I first met her as she killed a witch in the form of the Arc de Triomphe.

I later learned that I could have saved my parents with my wish. That didn't even occur to me at the time; I was in so much pain that I couldn't even think straight. I was just a little girl being driven to her dance recital, whose world was now a cage of blood and glass and leaking gasoline. How many people do you know would be able to rationally lay out their options and arrive at the best outcome when they are losing blood so rapidly that they can feel their consciousness slipping by the second? I'm not angry at myself, or Kyubey. It wasn't his fault that I didn't think to include my parents in my wish, to bring them back from death as I kept myself from it. In any case, I was even grateful; if he hadn't come along then, I would have been dead before the ambulance ever made it to the crash.

That's what I used to tell myself, when I sat alone in my apartment- the plaque next to my door only has my name on it now- to keep from crying into my tea that I made in Momma's brand new teapot. And it worked. "At least I'm alive," I'd say to myself, "So now I can help people, save people, keep other little girls and boys from losing their parents to a Witch, from having to go through what I did."

I almost laugh at that thought now, the irony of it. But my own tears, and Kyoko's glassy, lifeless eyes turn it into a rasping, gasping sob on its way up my throat.

Kyouko's had it worse than any of us.

I shot her first because of her wish. Kyouko made a wish that people would listen to her father's preaching. Nobody did before. There aren't very many Christians in Japan to begin with, and even less that would listen to a radical preacher with new, controversial ideas. So they didn't, until she made her deal with the devil.

When her father found out, he killed his entire family and himself, except for Kyouko. Her father, mother, and little sister, dead because of a wish, killed by the man whom that wish was supposed to help.

She's the one who found their bodies.

And then, just when she started to open up to someone again, that girl turned into a Witch because she was scorned by a man. Because her wish didn't give her what she really wanted in her heart.

It's why I killed her first, without any warning. Sure, she's the most experienced in combat besides me, but she would not be able to actually beat me me if I was truly fighting at my all. I killed her first as a mercy. So she wouldn't have to see any more of the people she cared about die, that she wouldn't know that another one of her friends is now a murderer. She was my friend, even though she was an infant monster. I owed her that much.

I'm crying now, sobbing so hard I can barely hold my rifle straight.

I didn't always use guns as my weapons. When I started out, I just had my ribbons. Sure, I could make a lot of them and tie down Witches a dozen times my size, but they just weren't very good offensively. I decided that I needed a different weapon so I could actually fight the Witches threatening my city, from a distance. Eventually, I learned how to change those ribbons into my usual flintlocks. Later, I even learned how to make pistols and cannons and all sorts of things that I would use to finish off the Witches I fought, to strike down their evil in a spectacular Tiro Finale.

I'd never even seen a gun, before the accident, except in pictures in Daddy's hunting magazines. The first time I ever fired a weapon that I had made, I took off the head of a Witch at two-hundred meters, one-handed, without even looking down the sight. The gun was longer than I was tall. It was a rifled flintlock musket, silver with black inlays, lined with more silver. The flint and frizzen (part of my magic is knowing exactly what the names ofall the little parts of my weapons are, once I figure out how to make them ) were made of a gemstone the same golden yellow as my soul gem, only cut like the diamonds you see on engagement rings instead of smooth stone. I made it by literally pulling it out of my hat.

It seemed appropriate.

(My bullets, as it is, aren't made of lead and don't have any copper, and aren't propelled by gunpowder. That was just an example. They are made of magic. So are my guns, actually. My outfit, too. They vanish as soon as I stop supporting them. Well, my costume just turns back into whatever I was wearing before I transformed, but the weapons disappear.)

Kyouko never heard that bullet.

I had Homura wrapped up in my ribbons. I couldn't let her activate her time magic; if she escaped, killed or disabled me before I could stop us, what kind of Witch would she create? How many people would a Witch that could control time kill? Could such a monster even be stopped?

Probably not.

If magical girls all turn into Witches, then there's nothing left for us but to die.

I'm screaming hysterically; I can barely see though my own tears. I take aim, at where I know her soul gem to be in her constraints, and shake my head to clear the tears. She's looking at me in panic, pure terror. Why? She's stared down Witches and Familiars before without fear; for such an awkward, timid girl, she has a spine of steel. Why is she so terrified now?

She glances off to the side, and her eyes widen. With that motion, I remember that I had forgotten abou

A flash of pink, and another body strikes the floor, along with the tinkling of shattered crystal.