Akemi had vanished from this world to enter the next one, the one of the day of the Walpurgis a month ago. Madoka had died and had taken with her all but two half-witches. Homura and Mitchiko had left. The city was now empty on all human life. All that was left was Kyubey, looking at the purple sky of the falling day, waiting. For once, he wasn't scheming anything, not planning anything, not doing anything. It was the first time in his whole life that he took such a moment of contemplation, of letting go. Everywhere on earth, at this very moment, every Kyubey stopped for this instant.
His last instants before his imminent execution.
He heard heavy steps behind him, ones he recognised immediately as his persecutor's. He didn't turn around to greet him.
Instead of killing him right here and now, Hachibey sat on the concrete, still having some things to discuss with him. "This is too easy. You surrendered without even putting a fight."
"Isn't that the usual rules concerning an execution?"
"Yes, but usually, when told they will be terminated, incubators go into a rampage and defect to the rules. And you're that kind of incubator, so I wonder why you didn't fight back. And here I thought I would actually enjoy your loss."
"What tells you that I have lost?" ask Kyubey, maliciously. "Everything went along my terms. I succeeded in creating the greatest despair Earth has ever known"
"What a waste it is if such a girl can't even become a witch!"
He smiled at the foolishness of his higher up. "That's why I allowed Akemi to go back in time once more. So that Madoka would become a witch."
In the new world, Homura Akemi was doing her best. Thousands of rocket launchers, a dozen of bombs, two collapsing electric towers, a fuel truck, a couple of anti ship missiles and many hundreds of thousand landmines. Still, nothing she could do seemed enough to deal with her monster of an opponent. The Walpurgis' laugh resounded in the ruins of the city, unfazed by a display of force that would have put the army to shame. She rose again, threatening, intimidating, insanely powerful.
Homura was not a match for this monster.
"Homura-chan!" Screamed Madoka, afraid for the safety of her friend.
"It's too much for her alone." Said Kyubey, watching intensely the fight. He felt something strange. Something coming from Madoka. Something impossibly strong that was trying to break free from her. He'll help with that..."You know I can make a contract at anytime."
Hesitant, Madoka took some time to think it through, but quickly made her mind when she saw Homura crash into a building and not get up immediately.
"I will!" She said with force and resolve. "Kyubey, I want to make a contract."
"What is your wish?"
"I wish to have the power to change any witch back to the girl she was before, to give her a second chance, and a third if necessary. I want to be able to shelter her and any other from the grief and give her the normal life she deserves."
"That wish would break the rules of the existence of witches!"
"I don't care what rules it break. This is my wish, so make it happen Incubator!"
A pink light formed all around Madoka and beamed to the sky in a tremendous display of power as her soul was removed from her body. She had power now, enough to shelter everyone she loved from grief and despair.
Or that's what she thought.
The beam grew larger and larger, and inside, Madoka took aim at Walpurgis with her bow of light.
However, exactly as she shot, at the exact moment her magic took form and was release from her soul, her soul gem exploded. The pillar of light she was in shifted from pink to black in the blink of an eye. Nobody noticed as Walpurgis disappeared in the single blast she shot; nobody noticed the small body of a young girl with black hair fall to her doom in the city far below. They all had eyes solely for the pillar of darkness that was taking shape, each thread of which was worth a lifetime of sorrow.
Homura couldn't take off her eyes from the place Madoka stood just an instant ago, utterly terrified. This... was not Kriemhild Gretchen!
"You see, Hachibey, we had it wrong since the beginning. Our way of harvesting energy was incomplete and foolish. There was a possibility out there that we over looked; the possibility that time wasn't a constant. Those girls, the Puella Magis, have a way to create new rules for the Magi system through their wishes. One of them, Homura Akemi, wished for the power to go back in time." He took a pause and turned to look at the large incubator behind him. "You know what this means?"
"Yes, but also so much more than that. It means there existed the possibility of harvesting energy from the future, and looping it back in time to before it was even created, thus increasing the fixed amount of energy in the universe. There was this kind of resource here, in the form of Homura Akemi. Each time she went back in time, she attached the despair of Madoka from the first timeline to the despair potential of the second. Each time, Madoka became more and more powerful, and so did her witch counterpart. I took advantage of that fact by giving her the totality of Earth's despair. And then I asked Akemi to finish the job and go back in time for me." He smiled at the thought of how he manipulated his girls. "Poor girl didn't know what she was in for."
Homura held on to the metal frame of the building she was on as a force wave erupted from the black pillar. The force was tremendous! It turned rocks to dust and trees to ashes. She could barely keep her eyes open through it, and lucky that she did because with the deflagration came a wall of darkness.
"Shit!" She protected herself behind her shield just in time to avoid being crushed by that wall of things. It was passing by her so fast that she couldn't really make sense of it. It was like passing through a dense field of tight threads. The black threads were all around her, preventing the light from reaching her eyes.
And then, without notice, it stopped.
But Homura still couldn't see. She was still in complete darkness, as if every light in the world had vanished at the same time. She couldn't even see her hand outstretched before her. She clumsily stood up, not knowing what happened nor what to do. The silence was growing more and more uncomfortable, especially after such a drastic event. Nothing moved, no sounds could be heard. It was as if everything around her was dead.
It was the first time this sort of thing happened to her. Why was she in complete darkness? What happened to Madoka?
She activated her soul gem to shed some light. At least this way she could see a few meters in front of her. Still shocked and confused, she started to walk, wishing to get out of this dark place. She often tripped on rock and debris and was mostly slowed down by the irregularity of the landscape she was on, one she guessed as rubble of mighty monuments and houses and stuff. She regularly sent telepathic messages to the void before her, hoping that maybe Kyubey or Madoka or any other Puella Magi would answer her.
But no answer came.
The atmosphere was dense and heavy. She felt like there were witches around every corner, every inch of this place. She felt like they could ambush her at anytime, and she was slowly getting paranoid by the threat.
But no witch came.
Seeing one would have at least been a relief, giving her something to aim for and some information on her environment. Instead, she was all alone in this darkness, with desolation and debris entering and leaving her small light radius as she walked by. She started to feel claustrophobic. There's got to be some light somewhere, or at least the edge of that thing that blocks light, she thought.
And there was.
After hours of walking in a straight line, she bumped into something. A wall. A wall of small black threads. Her soul gem was going crazy with signals, telling her that there were thousands of witches in front of her. Stretching her hand, she touched one of them. It was a witch. Or no, more like it was a part of a witch with the individual power of a full fledge monster.
And Homura was not stranger to those threads. She recognised them for seeing them many times before. It was the body of Gretchen.
This was not normal. There was no way that Gretchen could become so big and powerful that it would cover all over Mitakihara.
And then some thoughts hit her.
What if it wasn't just over Mitakihara? What if it's body expanded way larger than that, but only Mitakihara was enclosed like this? How big is Gretchen this time? Homura started to feel fear at the thought that she messed up badly this time. So badly that she couldn't even start to comprehend the final result. She couldn't stay there. No matter that she made sense of what was happening or not, she couldn't stay in this timeline anymore. She had failed once again, not knowing why or how, but she had failed. So she needed to leave.
She took her shield and turned the hourglass.
But nothing happened.
"Kyubey. You're just a fool! You let the time traveler escape. Even if you planned on such a thing as a despair link through universes, the girl still has the power to start things over again. It won't end the way you intended. You have absolutely no guaranty that this plan of yours will bear fruits, and you won't be there to harvest them. So what's the point?"
"Well, for starters, I can assure you that she won't be able to travel through time again. It's her own power that will prevent her from doing that." The though made him smile just a little. Oh, he would have liked to see Homura's face when she'll understand the time limit of a single month worth of time traveling! Or maybe she won't understand at all, which would be even more pleasant to watch. He could almost see her try again and again in frustration to travel back in time, tears on her face like those she dropped here so many times, slowly coming to the revelation that she was doomed by her own powers, and still the fear and the disarray showing on her face as she tried to make sense of her situation. Lovely.
"Do you have any proof supporting that theory?"
"I have none" He paused, thinking about his own motivations for a few seconds. "I believe this is what humans call faith."
He resumed his speech, knowing Hachibey was growing impatient. "I die here. But really, I don't mind. I leave you this world, without Madoka; with the Walpurgis Night defeated and her human avatar preferring to end her life instead of turning into the new Walpurgis. I leave you this empty shell, where you'll just continue to farm small girls like I did for thousands of years."
As Kyubey kept talking, Hatchibey's eyes started to glow red and blue, activating the terminal process for the white incubator. He had enough of him and his crazy plans. It was time for him to disappear. Kyubey's body started withering, quickly falling to dust that got lost in the wind. All Kyubeys everywhere were disintegrating, but still, he continued talking to Hatchibey even as his body disappeared.
"For my part, I will exist in a world home to the greatest witch that ever existed, one that can encompass stars and galaxies into her form, one that is almost capable of reversing entropy all by herself, one that will lead the other me to understand the same truth I came up here, and I will be the one that created her and that will harvest her." The disintegration was reaching his cat-like face, but even then he was displaying a large Cheshire smile. In the last few seconds of his life, Kyubey was reduced to a withering smile, whispering with absolute contentment his last words to the world:
When I first started this story, I was thinking of writing something of about 20.000 words, not 75.000! I surprised myself by going this far. I guess the story had a life of its own and forced me to write it :)
I wanted to thanks Art and Sergio Turbo for having supported me as long as they did. They also wrote what I think are the two best comments ever!
Art: "You monster! You're a very evil human being and I love your story!" 8D
Sergio Turbo: "The clash between Homura's cool attitude and the ridicolousness of throwing cars around is so WIN that I can't find any way to describe it better." 8DDDDDDD
I also want to thanks Faust91x and Arthur091 and FFLurker and Nemuri-hime626 and... oh boy I need to stop! Getting too emotional here 8) I'm just so happy this story is finished that I feel like I could embrace the world 8D
On a side note, could anyone recommend my story on TvTrope? I would really apreciate that. I think it's the only thing that could make me more happy than I am right now! Thank you! (^.^)
I don't plan to do another fanfiction for the moment (although I do have an idea for some Charlotte/Mami shipping...). Instead, I wanted to finish correcting this story (looking back on the first chapters, there are tons on mistakes :\) and adding visuals on deviantart. After that, I'll change style and draw a Nuzlocke comic also on deviantart. Wish me luck!