Prologue: Be Careful What You Wish For
Note: Names are in Japanese order except for Western characters such as Alyssa Searrs. Additionally, the Himes and their Childs will be spelled out with normal capital and lowercase letters, to make it easier to type them out. When the SUEs are introduced, they will be in all capitals except for the s in plural or possessive.
Suou Mariko had virtually everything a girl could wish for at Fuuka Academy. She was the top student in her grade level, and possibly all of Japan. She was an excellent athlete. She was amazingly popular. She had also, as rumors told, grown up alone after the death of her parents, with the maturity of someone over a decade her senior.
But there was something odd about her, one that her classmate Tokiha Mai, a relatively new student at Fuuka Acaddemy, noticed from time to time. While Mai seemed to have an improbably deep affection for her despite having met her not long ago, her admirers, if pressed on what kind of person she was, could only list the myriad things she was good at and ways she was exceptional. But Mai realized she was a new student, and believed her ignorance of why Mariko was so amazing was because she was still fairly new.
During the school festival, Higurashi Akane brought Kurauchi Kazuya to a secluded spot to confess her feelings to him; he would always be second to Mariko for her, but she loved him, and hoped that he felt the same way about her. Suddenly, Miyu Greer arrived on the scene, pursued by an Orphan. Akane summoned all her courage, and then dispatched the Orphan with her Hime powers, revealing herself as a Hime in front of Kazuya when the back of her uniform was torn off. Having defeated her enemy, she stood facing a critical moment, more terrified than she was in any of her battles up to that point. Would Kazuya accept her for what she now had been revealed to be? The answer was yes, and the two embraced.
But then Miyu, having identified one of her targets, revealed her true colors as a robotic Searrs agent and attacked. After a short fight, she stabbed Akane's Child, Harry, with an arm blade, impaling the tiger-like Child. The rules of the Himes' powers were clear; the death of Akane's Child would lead to the death of Akane's most cherished person. And Mariko, who happened to be that person, would bear the consequences.
In Fuuka Academy's campus, Mariko felt a sudden throbbing pain in her chest, but managed to hold herself together long enough to dart into the unoccupied girls' bathroom. Sitting down on one of the toilets without bothering to lock the stall door, she tried to catch her breath, but the pain grew even greater, and green sparks began to come forth from her body as she began to fade away. The last thing she heard before her body disintegrated and scattered was someone calling out to ask if someone had run into the restroom.
Her death meant the end of her powers, and as a result, everyone forgot about her. Had they been there to witness her demise, she could have been saved with the powers of her Child, Baldur, but their absence resulted in her losing Baldur and her final death. She was only able to impress the people she knew through the gifts she had been given, and once those were taken away, nothing remained.
Back in the woods, Akane stood in disbelief as she reeled from Miyu's sudden betrayal and equally sudden departure.
"Akane-chan… that mark on your back… it's gone," Kazuya said.
"Really?" Akane asked. Kazuya nodded.
"But never mind about that, are you okay?"
"Y-yes," Akane said timidly. "I was told I'd have to put what was most precious to me on the line as a Hime, but how can this be if you're still here? There is one thing I am happy about, Kazu-kun; you accepted my feelings."
"That's exactly how I feel, Akane-chan," Kazuya said, smiling warmly, as the two started to walk back to the academy, hand in hand.
Akane had her worries about Miyu- why she had attacked, why she had departed so suddenly, and who or what she really was. She was also fairly certain that she could not defeat Miyu even if she still possessed her powers, and so resolved to give her a wide berth in the future. But if this day had opened her eyes to a danger she was unaware of, it also showed her that everything was as she hoped for with the boy she loved most.
Mariko, gifted with unnatural talents and charisma, may have won Akane's heart with her gifts, but by winning Akane's favor, lost her life like all those who had close bonds with defeated Himes. In this regard and being subject to the finality of death, Mariko was no different than any other human being.
But she was not the only one of her kind.
Chapter 1: The New Threat
Some time had passed since Akane's defeat and Mariko's death. Mariko was gone from the minds of her classmates and teachers, but her presence remained in the attendance rolls, causing some to wonder whether she had ever truly existed at all. Another disappearance, though less noticed, was Takamura Kyouji, a young college graduate who was a candidate for the position of history teacher at the high school. After several failed attempts to reach him for the second round of interviews, the hiring committee struck his name from the list of candidates and proceeded on to others.
Akane had her relationship with Kazuya, but was troubled by what she had learned about Miyu. Unsure who would believe her, who could do anything about the situation, and who might be another spy, Akane remained silent about what she had seen, even after Miyu disappeared from class. When the Searrs launched their attack and took over the school, she was sent to be tested along with the other girls, but was able to evacuate before her turn came up. Once the soldiers fled, Akane assumed that the strange events had ended.
But little did she know that Mariko was the first of many new arrivals intending to alter the world forever. For Akane, the battle had ended. For the rest of the Himes, it had only just begun.
A lone man walked up to an ATM late at night, inserting his card and entering his PIN. He then entered the maximum allowed withdrawal amount, took his money and walked away.
He then met with a girl who seemed old enough to be in high school, but was not attending. Her name was Kirihara Hitomi, and she had long dark hair, red eyes and relatively pale skin. The man handed Hitomi the money, as well as the money inside his wallet, his credit card and his ATM card, then walked away. As soon as he was out of sight, Hitomi released him from her control, leaving him with no idea of how he had gotten to where he was or what he had done.
As Hitomi counted her money, she felt a sense of disappointment. She had never failed in controlling people this way, but money hardly meant anything when she could control people into giving her anything else she desired. But more than anything else, there had to be something riskier, something more entertaining, than this. None of her targets could resist her, nor could she experience their feelings of helplessness.
The challenge would come sooner than she thought.
The next day, as Tokiha Mai and Kuga Natsuki stood over an injured Sister Sanada Yukariko, the nun's words seemingly pointed them to the prime suspect behind her attack. Yukariko had claimed that she had seen a spider attack her- the form Yuuki Nao's Child had- and had also named Nao herself in a faint and weak voice.
Mai thought to herself that something was amiss, even though despite Natsuki's dislike of Nao, her belief that Nao was guilty was somewhat reasonable. Yukariko seemed trustworthy enough, and Nao's personality, self-centeredness and declaration that she was striking out on her own cast her in a suspicious light. The recent revelation that only one Hime would remain standing at the end of the battle royale known as the Hime Carnival would give Nao a reason to eliminate the competition. But why would Nao target Yukariko first? And why would she do something that would arouse the hatred of her rivals and make herself the prime target, instead of keeping a low profile? Nao was the prime suspect, but she was merely a suspect, nevertheless.
A phone call on Mai's cell phone interrupted their thoughts before they could begin their pursuit.
"Wait, Natsuki, it's Midori-chan," Mai said, picking up her phone. "Tokiha Mai speaking," she said after taking the call.
"Mai-chan, it's me, Midori," Sugiura Midori, Mai's homeroom teacher and self-proclaimed leader of the "Hime Sentai", said. "I've just found some disturbing news reports saying people are making withdrawals from their bank accounts and can't remember what they did. It's possible some kind of mind control is involved, although the media and the cops would never accept that as reality. It might be the work of one of the unidentified Himes"
"We've got another problem on our end; Sister's hurt and she says Nao-chan attacked her."
"Get her to Yoko's office and meet me on the roof. But DON'T confront Nao-chan about this until you talk to me first; the incident with Sister and the one I'm looking into might be related."
"Got it," Mai said. "Natsuki, we need to take Sister to the nurse and then meet with Midori-chan in the garden. Someone out there seems to have the ability to control people's minds, and it's possible Sister got caught up somehow."
"I… I can go on my own," Yukariko said. "Go… meet with Sugiura-sensei. This… sounds important."
Mai then looked at Natsuki and the two exchanged skeptical glances before they and Yukariko went off in separate directions.
"I'm glad I called when I did," Midori said, as she spoke with Mai and Natsuki, as well as their fellow Himes Minagi Mikoto and Kikukawa Yukino. "It's entirely possible that someone is trying to frame Nao-chan."
"Or that she did it," Natsuki said. "With things as they are now, she might be trying to eliminate us to ensure that she makes it through the Carnival alive. Although… who apart from herself would she value enough to want to protect at all costs?"
"We don't know, but there are a few possibilities of how things turned out," Midori said. "The first, as you said, is that Nao-chan is indeed guilty. The second is that Sister is lying, although that hardly seems to be characteristic of her. The third possibility, if we do have someone who can use mind control, is that Nao-chan was controlled and forced to attack Sister."
"But if that's the case, and she doesn't remember what she did while controlled, then she would most likely deny it," Yukino said. "We couldn't tell if she were truthfully stating her innocence, covering up her guilt, or simply unable to remember."
"Unfortunately, that's a likely risk we'll have to face," Midori said. "So, Yukino-chan, would you like to skip some class and dig up some information on the mind-controller? I can call in a favor with Yoko and get you off the hook."
Mai sighed. "Typical Midori-chan," she thought. "But I suppose we'll need Yukino-chan's help on this one."
"Meanwhile, Mai-chan, you should try to talk with Nao-chan and get her side of the story. We might be able to learn about who's behind this."
"I'll try," Mai said hesitantly. She understood the importance of getting to the bottom of this, but realized Nao was a difficult person to deal with even under the best of circumstances, especially considering her intense dislike of Mai.
"You're all dismissed, but until this is cleared up, don't travel alone and stay on-campus as much as you can."
As Midori's fellow Himes left the garden, she couldn't help but feel as though there was yet another twist to the ongoing Carnival, one that would likely change the players and rules of the game.
Author's Note: In this story, the Himes will face a new threat, called the SUEs, from the beginning of the Carnival onward, which takes the story in a new direction. This is intended to look at the various Mary Sue character types, personality traits and impact on the plots and environments. The SUEs' powers are intended to symbolize their various effects on the plot, as well as be less obviously useful than many of the powers they're gifted with. For example, it's easy to see how to use a sword longer than one's body or a mode that augments all of one's abilities. By contrast, mind control is potentially even more useful, but only if one knows how to use it correctly.
Some of the SUEs will make significant, often fatal, mistakes out of almost unbelievable stupidity. This is intentional, in order to reflect the kinds of mistakes that Mary Sues often make. Sometimes, their authors use those mistakes are used half-hearted attempts for their writers to preserve the sense of drama- note that Mary Sues often have to come back from the dead. Alternatively, the writers have no idea how to write a Mary Sue who behaves in a competent manner. This time, while the SUEs are still very powerful, they will often find that they cannot afford to be careless. Additionally, not all of them will use their powers to their full potential.
The story will also focus on the canon characters, as it takes a different path from canon. They will ultimately be forced to consider their own personal issues, and in doing so, will learn important lessons, such as that life does not always give you what you want, that will help them stand against the SUEs' ideology.