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Girls of the Sorcerer [Oneshot unofficial BFverse/Madoka]

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Aku-dono, Sep 21, 2012.

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  1. Aku-dono

    Aku-dono May or may not update; shrödinger's author

    Because this idea has been tickling me for quite some time now. Consider this non-canon to the rest of the Battle Fantasia Project, as I have not discussed this with any of its authors. In fact, it goes right up against much of what Gamlain wrote in the Sailor Nothing arc of BF.

    Written for fun.

    Because really, fuck my muses.

    ---

    For the most part, Magical Girls welcomed the MGA with gratitude and open arms. The Alliance was a great opportunity for many to learn from more experienced girls, but also a great way to ask for help in critical times. One could not, either, disregard the influence of having companions, not just friends, but people who could actually understand them and what they were going through. Very soon after the official founding of the Alliance, more than half of the magical girl population in Japan had signed in. Those were exciting times, full of hopes and dreams, and we, founders of the alliance, thought that everything would turn out for the best, and that the Alliance itself was the best thing any magical girl could have hoped for.

    Unfortunately, it turned out we were wrong.”

    -- from the Memoirs of Hayate Yagami, MGA chief commander, MGA founding member, SS-Belka type MG



    “When we met them, we made assumptions from the experiences we’d had before. Unfortunately, we'd never seen anything like them; we couldn't begin to imagine the kind of life they live. So we made a really big mistake.

    If only we'd known sooner...”

    -- Usagi Tsukino, “Sailor Moon”, MGA founding member, SS-Silver type MG, about the discovery of the Puella System.



    Battle Fantasia Project spinoff:
    The Girls of the Sorcerer
    With the best of intentions


    She stared at the door with a flutter in her heart. This schools classroom had no view on the hallway, unlike her last one, so she couldn't see what her new classmates looked like. However, the walls were clean and modern, the teacher had been friendly and the billboards had spoken of a healthy club culture going on. All in all, Shiroki public grade school looked like a nice place to spend the rest of the year in, maybe (probably) even her next and final year before middle school as well.

    “Alright, you can come in, now,” the teacher, a friendly almond-faced woman in her late twenties, called. Michi put on her best smile and walked in.

    She got her first sight of her new classmates, who had not quite finished taking in the news that they were taking in a transfer student, this late in the year, with only two months left until the final exams. She did her best not to blush in embarrassment at the “oohs” and “aahs” and “cute!” that welcomed her, walked stoically to the blackboard, took the chalk from her new homeroom teacher's hand and wrote, in precise strokes, “今瀬 美知.

    Then she turned around and introduced herself.
    And in doing so, she saw her for the first time, in the last seat of the second row, near the door.

    Being a grade school, Shiroki shougakkou didn't have many rules in terms of uniform. Students were required to wear clean, undyed and undamaged clothes that didn't have any affiliation markings of any kind. And while the clothes she wore didn't betray an affiliation, her torn jeans and shirt could hardly be called “undamaged”, and had probably been clean last several weeks ago. She wasn't quite sitting in her chair. Lounging would be a more acceptable verb, with her dirty, worn sneaker-clad feet resting on her desk, leaving dirt and unmentionable filth on the wood. Her hair was short and black, a tangled nest of dirty locks that looked like it hadn't received proper care in weeks.

    She was also staring fixedly right at Michi, her mouth in a tight line, her eyes glaring daggers.

    This was probably Watanabe Hanako, then. Well, Testarossa-sempai had told her this would be a hard job. But friendship would see her through! It always did!

    Her name was Imase Michi.
    She was also Miracle Lumina, defender of the holy light of the kingdom of Lila against the evil Baron of Shadows, an enemy she'd defeated almost a whole year ago.
    She was a member of the Magical Girl Alliance. And today, she was on a mission. A really important mission, too.

    She would befriend the delinquent Hanako-chan and show her the light, if it was the last thing she did!

    ---
    From: Lindy_Harlaown@MGA.jp.co
    To: 692@TMPD.jp.gov
    Subject: re:your cooperation requested
    Date: April 7th 2011, at 16:20

    Sir,

    I assure you that I this is the first time I hear of this case. Many magical girls have yet to make themselves known to the Alliance, and I am almost completely sure that these acts were the work of one of those isolated girls.

    As a police officer myself, I would like to offer the Magical Girl Alliance’s help in resolving these matters. This situation is one that could potentially affect us greatly in this period of vulnerability. Additionally, I must warn you that any attempts to stop a magical girl who has shown herself to be hostile with normal means—including force that would be lethal in normal circumstances—is unlikely to be successful. For the sake of cooperation between the Alliance and the Police, as well as to guarantee the safety of your men, I request that you give serious consideration to our offer. I assure you that the girls we will send know how to obey orders and will be on their best behavior.

    Admiral Lindy Harlaown
    Time-Space Administration Bureau Navy
    Chief Commander, MGA

    -------
    Original message below

    From: 692@TMPD.jp.gov
    To: Lindy_Harlaown@MGA.jp.co
    Subject: your cooperation requested
    Date: April 7th 2011, at 14:27
    Attachment: Chimoya_Evidence.zip (15,608.02 kb)

    Madam,

    Attached to this mail are several pictures and a witness testimony about a case that I seems to involve a member of your organization. It seems a magical girl was seen attacking several bouryokudan members and stealing from them, injuring several very seriously. One of them was the son of Yasuoka Tai, a high-ranking member of the Sumiyoshi Rengo.

    I'll be honest here: the yakuza are out for blood. Whoever it was that committed those acts is in serious danger, as are everyone around her. We would like her to give herself up as soon as possible so she can be put under protective custody. Violent acts of vigilantism are unacceptable and a threat to public safety. I know many magical girls consider themselves above the law, but that is untrue, and it’s your duty, as one of the highest ranked members, to remind them of that.

    Please produce the magical girl in question so she can be put into protective custody pending her trial.

    Senior Superintendent A. Yamato
    Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department

    ---

    The recess chime sounded, and almost immediately Michi found herself surrounded by her classmates and their questions. Yes, she liked the school so far. Her parents moved in the area, so she had to transfer. She lived somewhere near Shinoya. Her parents gave her a lift to and back from school, so no she didn't use the train. How did she get her hair to curl like that? Oh, it just did that on its own.

    She tried not to lie too much. Telling her new classmates that she preferred roof-hopping to school would have been a bit of a red flag.

    In the corner of her eyes, she caught sight of Hanako-chan getting up and leaving class. Somehow, her line of sight must not have gone unnoticed, because almost immediately, the subject changed.

    “But man, you have no luck, getting in today of all days,” drawled a boy, Tarou-kun.

    “Of all the days Watanabe decides to pop back in...” another boy agreed.

    “What do you mean?” Michi asked, innocently.

    “The girl that just left? That's Watanabe. It's the first time she's been to class in weeks,” Tarou noted.

    “She's scary!” the same other boy piped in. “I heard she hangs around with Yakuza or something, or maybe a street gang.”

    “At our age?” A girl asked.

    “She clearly hasn't been home in a while.”

    “She hasn't taken a shower in a while, more like!” A boy quipped. “Phew! I've had to sit right next to her, y'know.”

    Michi frowned. Somehow, she wasn't surprised to hear Hanako-chan wasn't liked by her classmates. How painful! How sad! Hanako-chan was just like Akiko-chan, isolated and alone, forced to fight an unknown enemy. She wasn't alone, though! Michi knew, and she could help! She would!

    “That's mean!” she protested. “She probably has a really good reason for not coming to class. Maybe she has trouble with her parents?”

    Maybe she had to hide to prevent the dark forces from getting to them? Maybe she'd lost them in a fight? She couldn't begin to imagine how that poor girl must have felt!

    Testarossa-sempai had been right. Hanako-chan needed her help! And she would, in the name of Queen Millermaia!

    ---

    “How is she?” Asked Hayate as Signum and Vita returned to the discussion table.

    Calmer,” Signum replied. “Compared to how she was an hour ago, that is.”

    Ever seen a dragon with a broken wing?” the hammer knight asked, shaking her head. “Frankly, I'm surprised Tsukino didn't detect a youma in her. She's got the personality of one. Glad she calmed down, because I don't think the barrier would have lasted much longer. If she has a go at it again, it'll probably go down. Girl's got some power.”

    Should we ask Kinomoto-san, then?” Tsukino Usagi suggested.

    Or maybe send her to the Athra,” was Fate's suggestion.

    Hayate shook her head. “She hasn't broken any laws of the Bureau. They don't have to, and in fact shouldn't accept that course of action, since this is strictly a local matter and this world isn't administrated.” at Usagi, she nodded, “Calling Sakura-chan is a good idea, though. But it's only temporary. We can't keep her like this.”

    What about the police? Any problems on that side?” Signum asked.

    Mom is doing damage control,” Fate replied. “I think they're starting to realize Hanako-chan could just break through prison walls if they try to jail her. There's no way they can hold her.”

    We don't have those facilities, either.” Hayate pointed out with a sigh. “The thought never occurred to any of us that a magical girl could abuse her powers like this... in hindsight, we really should have.”

    It's hard to imagine any of us doing bad things,” Nanoha noted, then froze and turned to avoid looking at Fate and the two Wolkenritter members. “Erm... Did she say anything? Did she give any reason why she was hunting Yakuza like that? Besides the obvious.”

    Vita shook her head. “Couldn't get much except threats and insults from her.”

    Nanoha stood. “Then I'll try to see if I can talk some sense out of her.”

    Remember to mind the building, Nanoha-chan.”

    Mou, Hayate-chan!”

    ---

    It was only during the last class of the day, phys ed, that Watanabe reappeared, still wearing the same torn rags and disregarding the mandatory shirt and bloomers. As the teacher explained that today, they would be playing dodgeball, there formed a hole around the surly girl, like a shark in a shoal of fish. Michi was picked early, under pressure by some of the girls who'd tried to befriend her earlier that day, and the delinquent immediately stood and settled herself on the opposite team, uncaring of how her presence was welcomed much like a tarantula in a crowded room. Her eyes never left Michi's and were cold, surly, but with something glinting in their depths.

    A challenge.

    Michi found herself smiling. Perhaps, through competition, they could forge a friendship of some kind? It was certainly worth trying.

    Her smile didn't last. One of the first throws ended up landing in the delinquent's waiting hands. The rest happened in some kind of blur, as far as the other students were concerned. First, they saw Watanabe reaching for the throw, then they she moved faster than the eye could see, and, like a speeding bullet, the ball—

    *SMACK*

    ...impacted in the hand of the unsmiling Michi with a thunderous clap, which echoed across the playground multiple times. A small dust cloud was raised around both girls, and many children later swore small wisps of smoke came from the ball as a tense silence settled on the field.

    There was a girl behind Michi. She was blinking.

    “What were you thinking, Hanako-san?” the magical girl asked.

    “Dunno,” the delinquent replied, grinning. “I thought maybe if I broke one or two brats here, I'd get a way out of wasting my time here. What do you think? Good idea, isn't it?”

    “You...” Michi frowned.

    “Are you starting to get it yet, softie?”

    “You're... you're evil!”

    Hanako laughed.

    She was the only one left on her side of the field, the others having fled to the safety of their teacher, or behind the friendly magical girl.

    “Evil? me?” she chuckled. “I guess you would see it that way. The way I see it though? I'm just a girl trying to get by, with self-centered morons trying to get in my way. That's you and your bosses, in case you're too slow to figure it out.” She turned to the teacher. “Hey, do you want me to go away?”

    “Yes!” the woman, terrified for her charges, replied immediately.

    “Well then, we don't have a problem, do we? See ya, softie.”

    She turned around and made to leave... but suddenly, Michi blurred to existence in front of her, barring her way with a determined look in her eyes. There was a staff in her hand, a twirly, glittery, pink and white and red and gold wand the length of her arm.

    “Oh? Do you want something?” Hanako grinned. In her hand was suddenly a little gem, a bauble shaped like an egg, dark violet and swirling with many flecks of darkness.

    “Playgrounds are for playing and having fun! Not for bullying and threatening people!” Michi declared importantly as she raised her wand over her head. “Miracle Kaleidoscope... CHANGE!”

    Hanako's grin turned savage as her opponent transformed. “So, the little girl wants to play? Alright, let me teach you something about the world.”

    ---

    Magical Girls Fight on School Playground
    one death, eight injuries

    A horrible scene unfolded on the playground of Shiroki grade school this afternoon, where two magical girls engaged in a battle that concluded with the death of one of them, under the eyes of several children, many of whom ended up injured during the battle. The victim was a registered member of the MGA, whose identity cannot be revealed due to her young age (under twelve). The police is actively seeking the other magical girl, Hanako Watanabe, for homicide[...]. Watanabe is considered to be extremely dangerous and unstable.

    [...]damage to the school itself is evaluated to be in the hundred thousand yen, and four classes will have to be temporarily housed somewhere else while the wall is repaired. However, this price pales in comparison to the trauma suffered by the children, who saw one of their own be brutally murdered in front of their eyes.

    The six of the injured are expected to make a full recovery. The last two, which includes the class's teacher, are in more serious conditions, but their lives are not in danger.

    When asked about the incident, the MGA reported, through their spokesperson, Sailor Moon, that [...]. The MGA also pledged to assist the police as much as they could in what could very well be the first verifiable instance of a magical girl killing another.

    --from the Tokyo Shinbun, edition 3 (evening), on April 10th

    ---

    Be careful, Nanoha-chan.

    Takamachi Nanoha nodded absently at the mental order from her friend (and commander, though it still felt odd to think of her that way). It also felt a little odd to be flying a few scant meters from rooftops, in plain sight of everyone. The reveal had changed a lot of things, some for the worse, some for the better. All things considered, Nanoha felt that having the ability to fly without being afraid anyone would see her was a good one.

    She could have done with fewer reporters, though.

    And fewer murderous magical girls.

    Thinking of her current target, Nanoha felt a pang of anger grow in the depths of her throat. Signum had been the one who had caught and forced Hanako under arrest. Nanoha herself had been the one to suggest that maybe having a friend would help Hanako adjust to life as a magical girl, after she'd been spotted skulking about in the dark, hunting for more criminals in the last few days. Tsukino-san had been the one to suggest the course of action they had taken. Fate had been the one to choose the friendly and lovable Michi-chan for the job.

    And now Michi-chan was dead. Killed brutally by a wild beast in human clothing. Killed by their assumption. By their decision.

    She had slept very little last night.

    Nanoha growled to herself, forcing those thoughts away before the weight of guilt started crushing her heart again. Was this what being in command felt like? She was no stranger to making dangerous decisions herself, but somehow, being responsible for the life of someone else felt a million times worse. And Hayate wanted this kind of job? She was welcome to keep it!

    “We are approaching target,” Raising Heart declared. This was where Kinomoto-san's fortune telling had told them Hanako had gone to? Nanoha frowned.

    Hayate-chan, this is a hospital,Nanoha said, looking at the white concrete structure.

    It is,Hayate replied immediately.And not just any hospital; Yamato-san tells me it's the one where Yasuoka Tarou and Hanako's other bouryokudan victims are. She's probably going after them. Nanoha-chan, you have to stop her!

    Nanoha nodded (though Hayate couldn't see her) and raised her intelligent device.

    “Raising Heart, Enhanced Barrier!”

    “Yes, my master!”

    Although barriers weren't her speciality, she was at least good enough to cast one herself. The barrier reached for every magic-responsive thing in the area and lightly nudged them sideways in time, throwing every mage or magic-capable being in the area into a pocket universe. It was an improvement over the original version, which only sought linker cores (thus, mid-style mages) and was thus completely unadapted for the heterogeneous nature of earth magic styles.

    It was also already illegal on Midchilda or most worlds managed by the Bureau from the sheer damage it would cause in a magitech city, claimed Lindy.

    “Response received,” Raising Heart reported. “Target appears to be within the facility.”

    Nanoha nodded. “At least we isolated her from her target.” she blinked as a thought occurred to her. “...if that's her, that is.”

    “Barrier life remaining: twenty-two minutes.”

    Nanoha smiled at her device's urging. “Alright. Let's hurry and end this, then.”


    ---

    “I wish my parents were alive again!”

    ---

    Hospitals had never been among Nanoha's favorite places. The faint smell of antiseptics, the sounds of the ill and the injured, the sights of faces blighted with disease, the moribund atmosphere, all of it combined with the worst memories of her childhood to make her very uncomfortable here. The visual effects caused by the barrier and wide, empty hallways only served to make the effect worse, in her opinion, and she did her best focus on Raising Heart's wide area search instead of her depressing surroundings.

    If only the sound of her footsteps on the clean linoleum floor didn't echo so loud, she might have managed it.

    She passed by the emergency ward, ignoring the way the undone beds gave the impression everyone had fled the hospital in a hurry, like in a zombie movie. While her device's orbs checked the rest of the first and third floor, she got started on the second, where she found herself exploring surgery room after surgery room. They were empty as well, but just like before, the surgeons' tools had found themselves without anything to hold them; cables hung loose from where they'd fallen from nonexistent patients, dripping their ghostly medicine to the floor, or staining the bedsheets.

    There was even one bedsheet with a fairly impressive bloodstain marring it.

    Hospitals were falling further down on her list of favorite places.

    “Target found,” Raising Heart announced. “Third floor. Feeding approximate location.”

    In Nanoha's eyes, a map of the hospital drew itself. A pink dot, which she recognized as herself, was wandering about the second floor. And on the third floor was a big red dot, near a four-way crossing...

    ...which happened to be almost directly over her head.

    “Master, warn--”

    Nanoha was already throwing herself to the side, barely in time to avoid the shower of debris that fell from the ceiling. Watanabe Hanako followed it, wearing a dark hooded cloak closed just under her throat by a silver clasp with a dark violet gem, her eyes glowing with rage in the darkness. The scythe in her hands had a black blade and an ornate silver shaft around which a pair of snakes curled, their heads tipped by little ruby eyes that looked like they were staring at her. As the dust started to settle, she noticed that thousands of little shapes were writhing all over the staff. Shapes with arms and hands and heads with horrible, screaming faces and what looked like wicked chains running around and through the figures--

    One of the snakes flicked its forked tongue at her.

    That was one seriously creepy weapon, Nanoha decided.

    “What the hell is it going to take for you assholes to leave me alone?!” Hanako raged, swinging her scythe in a wide slash that Nanoha easily avoided. “Killing the softie wasn't a big enough message for you?!”

    “Watanabe Hanako, you're--” she ducked under a slash, “--under arrest under the MGA's--” blocked with Raising Heart, nearly throwing her across the room from the power behind the blow, “--authority! Bind!”

    Pink rings spawned to life around the magical girl's limbs, leaving her immobilized. She struggled, snarled, swore, but none of it weakened the bindings pinning her in place.

    “Are you going to surrender peacefully, or--”

    “Damn you!” Hanako snarled, glaring hatefully at her.

    Then the snakes around her scythe uncoiled and threw themselves at Nanoha. She barely raised a shield in time. In doing so, she lost her focus for barely a second, which was long enough for the tremendously strong magical girl to snap her bindings. Nanoha's shield took a scythe hit directly with a crackling hiss, then other with the blunt end, then again with the blade, all the while the animated snakes continued to throw themselves at the barrier, uncaring that, had they been normal animals, every bone in their skulls would have been shattered after a few hits.

    Slowly, Nanoha was pushed back, step by step, forced into an empty operating room. The other girl's scythe technique was appalling if she compared her to Fate, but she had the same kind of raw strength Zaphira had. Her blows caused visible shockwaves on Nanoha's shield, and that same ridiculous strength let her wield that heavy scythe the same way one might use a simple quarterstaff. Every blow came with a deafening crack and flashes of light even Vita's Graf Eisen couldn't replicate.

    Had Vita been the one fighting, she would have sensed the trap.

    Hanako didn't know Nanoha, so she didn't notice, in her rage-filled haze, that each of those flashes of light came with sparks of pink magic, sparks that, once out of the angry magical girl's sight, suddenly stopped, then flew toward each other, fusing together.

    Nanoha hit the operating bed and tripped. Sensing victory, Hanako raised her scythe over her head to deliver the finishing blow...

    ...abandoning all defense in the process.

    “SHOOT!” Nanoha yelled.

    And the balls of magic, now fully active Divine Shooters, rammed into Hanako's unprepared back like miniature freight trains. Nanoha herself raised Raising Heart at the other girl's wide open stomach.

    “SHOOT!” she yelled again, firing the Divine Buster she'd been preparing since Hanako had engaged. The torrent of pink magic hit Hanako like a truck and threw her, effortlessly, through a thin wall, then through an observation room, through storage cabinets, into a waiting room, all the way across the floor into the wall on the opposite side. A Wide Area Search globe was already there to welcome her, feeding Nanoha with the sight of the hostile girl's limp form fall to the floor, collapse on its feet and slump against the wall, clearly defeated.

    She didn't lower her guard.

    “Bind.”

    The rings of light appeared once more and were securely in place when Nanoha walked to her side. Hanako was already pulling herself out of unconsciousness, her body protesting her movements, her eyes opening, first unfocused, then wide in realization, then narrowing in rage when she saw the white-clad magical girl walk through the debris, weapon ready, several blasts of magic prepared.

    “Surrender,” Nanoha ordered.

    Hanako said nothing, just seething. She opened her mouth, but whether it was to admit defeat or to shout epithets, no one would know.

    At the moment she was about to speak, there was a sound, like cracking glass. Hanako's breath caught, and she nervously looked down.

    The gem on the silver clasp holding her cloak shut was pitch black, and cracking.

    “Oh no. No... nononoNONONONONOOOOO--!”

    Hanako's terrified screams grew as the cracks spread. She struggled against her binds, blindly, like a panic-stricken animal. Faint wisps of darkness erupted from the cracks; tears flowed freely down her cheeks. Nanoha released her binds and made to help the girl, somehow, but suddenly the gem shattered in a million pieces...

    Then the scream was suddenly cut. Hanako slumped, like a puppet with its strings cut. Her cloak disappeared in a flock of black butterflies, leaving her in torn, dirty clothes. By the time Nanoha reached her, it was far, far too late.

    “No vital signs detected,” Raising Heart reported.

    Nanoha's heart stopped. Dead? But... no! How... why? That blast was far from lethal... had it still somehow been too much?

    “No internal injuries detected,” Raising Heart added, as if sensing her thoughts. “Cause of death is unlikely to be related to the battle--master, emergency!”

    “Huh?”

    Nanoha looked up. Something was... different, but she couldn't quite place it. She was still in the hospital, but--

    Wait. Where was the hole? And the doors? Where--

    She heard something skitter across the floor, like a bottle of medicine falling... or the clicking of chitinous feet against linoleum. It echoed, but wrong, louder than it should have, in a room as small as this. A room--

    Where did the chairs go? And the debris?

    Hanako's body was cold and still. Her eyes were still open, full of tears.

    Was this some kind of illusion? The nightmare factory again?

    There was only one door. A big, red, metal-reinforced one, helpfully marked as an exit by a sign just over it. But it made no sense; Raising Heart's map said that the door couldn't physically lead anywhere but deeper inside the building.

    It was the only way.

    She reached for the door, but it opened on its own, and a great gust of wind threw Nanoha off her feet and dragged her to the other side. There was a great sound, the gate of a powerful stone gate slamming shut, and the pale light of the hallway behind her disappeared. She landed in a roll, throwing herself back on her feet with magic-borne strength, then readied Raising Heart for whatever enemy was waiting for her.

    She couldn't see her own arm.

    “Illumination.” Raising Heart said. Handball-sized sparks of pink magic burst into life and scattered in every direction, illuminating...

    ...complete darkness. The balls disappeared after a few meters, absorbed in what looked like a kind of thick black smoke. Was it a fire? It didn't smell like one. It smelled like nothing... wait. No, there was a faint something, a faint stench of oil, burning rubber and... fish?
    Other scents floated to her nose. Something acrid, chemical. Something she couldn't place, yet which seemed familiar.

    The unmistakable coppery taste of blood, suddenly so strong she could feel it in the back of her throat. She gagged.

    Sounds came as well. Bird cries, crows and gulls. A flutter of wings from behind her, but as she turned in alarm, she found nothing but dark smoke there. She heard voices, male voices saying nonsense boisterously. Roaring laughter, distorted, twisted, with more beast than humanity in it. Screams. Screeches that could have belonged to a human or to a tortured animal. In the distance, there was the roar of a great wind, yet none of it reached her. The air was still, stale. Her breathing sounded louder than it should have, and part of her wondered if those sounds weren't, in fact, simply products of her own mind.

    “Raising Heart, gust flare!”

    “Yes, my master.”

    A blast of wind flowed from her, repelling the smoke several meters. All it uncovered was more of this place's strangeness. It was some kind of graveyard, but it was the weirdest she had ever seen. Tombstones littered the ground here and there, some simple stone slaps, others ornate crosses, and yet more had more esoteric shapes, like that one, shaped like a snail shell, or the one shaped like the left half of a giant skull, or the one shaped like a double helix spiral, tipped with a pair of snakes that moved on their own to stare at her. The graves were marked, but she could not recognize any of the strange runes inscribed on them.
    The ground, she noticed next, was made of bones. Small ones, large ones. Ribs, femurs, skulls, some of bovines, some of dogs, some, grinning crookedly, of humans. Other bones were less recognizable; some had extraneous protuberances, like fangs or claws or wart-like bubbles growing nonsensically on their surface, while others could simply not belong to anything alive: spiraling femurs; strange intact skulls, both animal and human, with no brain cage; twisting shells with rows upon rows of little snarling faces. Snakes crawled everywhere among the white remains, steering clear from her, but watching her with the little red eyes glinting in the pink light of her magic. Hanako's body had followed her and was resting on its back, arms crossed like a prepared corpse, in front of the middle tombstone of a trio of identical ones. A snake had coiled around her neck, like a hangman's noose.

    This place was giving her the creeps. Was this a remnant of the Nightmare Factory? It felt like it, yet at the same time, not. This was... less subtle. Whoever was behind this wasn't interested in ripping open her emotional wounds. It looked, instead, like it wanted to open brand new ones.

    Like hell.

    “Flier fin.”

    She jumped.

    Then, she nearly tumbled as, instead of soaring into the sky, she was dragged down inexorably by the force of gravity. The bones under her feet cracked and shattered.

    “Raising Heart? What's going on?” she asked her intelligent device.

    There was no answer. The gem glowed, flashing rhythmically in what Nanoha recognized as her emergency shutdown mode. This... was not good. How—

    The sound of a motorcycle engine burst into life. A light, brilliant and white, flashed to life in front of her. She turned and raised her inert staff defensively, and took a step back as a monster four to five times her height stepped out of the dark smoke.
    It had arms. They were long and spindly, with visible bones made of exhaust pipes and muscles of black vines, tipped with snake heads. Its hands were four metal pieces, jagged and broken, tipped with shards of broken glass covered in a red substance Nanoha preferred not to identify.
    It had a chest, sort-of. It was a single great skull, but it had eyelids, sewed shut with barbed wire and golden rings. A set of horns surrounded the skull, giving the impression of a ribcage that was open in front.
    It had no legs. Instead, a single great wheel, twice as tall as Nanoha herself, attached to bony axles from which exhaust pipes grew more or less haphazardly. Black butterflies and bits of bones flew from those pipes.
    It had no head. The single spotlight and handlebars of a motorcycle replaced it. The light's intensity changed with the engine sound it produced.

    It didn't move right away, which gave Nanoha a couple of precious seconds to wonder how she was going to get out of this one. Raising Heart's gem continued blinking. Without her, the best she could do was a single Divine Shooter after a couple of seconds of preparation, which she doubt would help a lot against something that dwarfed her several times over. She had no way of knowing what was going on with her, either. She could run, but her footing in this bizarre landscape would be weak, certainly weaker than the traction offered by the thing's wheel. Hiding? Since it found her, she guessed it had a way of seeing her through the smoke.

    It was useless. She was done for. A wave of despair grew in her, and try as she might to push it down, it still grew to the forefront of her thoughts. It was futile. She couldn't hide, couldn't run, couldn't fight. What could she do? She was going to end up like Hanako-chan, and her bones would join those on the ground. Something burned on the back of her neck, but it didn't really matter. Dying sounded like the only conclusion... yes. If she killed herself, she would escape he pain of what that thing would do to her. But how? Ah, those ribs on the ground were nice and pointy. Just one jab into her neck and—

    “TIRO FINALE!”

    What?

    There was a flash of gold, an explosion. Nanoha was flung backward, thrown hard against a tombstone... and knew no more.

    ---

    Kyuubei, why? What happened? Why are they...”

    It can't be helped. Your potential only stretched so far. These few days were as far as your wish could go.”

    W—Why didn't you tell me?!”

    Because you would have wished for something else, instead of what you really wanted. Doing so would have decreased your potential by a large margin. Your wish was granted, wasn't it? Why are you angry?”

    ...You...”

    A whip of air. A small, almost inaudible impact.



    A sigh.

    How wasteful... I'll never understand humans.”

    ---

    “What happened?”

    Nanoha blinked, stared up uncomprehendingly at Vita's worried face, looming right over her. She heard Hayate shout commands, saw Shamal focus on one of her search spells, saw Kinomoto-san and Saturn talk to a few doctors, bowing respectfully.

    She was outside, on her back.

    How had she gotten there?

    “I... don't know.”



    Unseen, on a rooftop far away, a young girl stared at the scene.

    She she nodded to herself and, readjusting her brown beret over her styled blonde hair, she turned around.

    ...and disappeared.

    ---

    I didn't know.

    I couldn't have known.

    At least, that's what I tell myself whenever I think about what happened that day. We'd known nothing about Puella magi, about the Puella system and what happens to a Puella who is pushed beyond her limits. We thought she was just lost, confused, or angry, someone like Akiko-chan who had turned her despair and rage unto everything else...

    The thought that she needed to hunt to live--that just by holding her captive, we were slowly killing her--had never occurred to us. Why she didn't tell us, was probably because she didn't think we'd believe her. We were “softies”, magical girls on white horses who have an easy life and don't risk our lives--our very souls--in the act of living every day... we only wanted to help... She never told us...

    And in doing so, with the best of intentions, we interrupted her hunts, thinking she was going to hurt someone again. We forced her to use her powers fighting us.

    And we killed her. No, it wasn't death. It was worse than death. We made her a monster.

    All I can hope is that Hanako's witch was caught and killed before it could hurt anyone. Hope, and wish I could turn time to undo all of this.

    They didn't deserve any of this. Either of them.

    I didn't know.

    I'm sorry.

    ---

    [...]The young man, Yasuoka Tarou, allegedly committed suicide last night by throwing himself out of a tenth floor window[...]

    Tokyo Shinbun, April 11th,, first edition, page 10: Tokyo youth commits suicide at hospital

    ---

    Puella magi are a very peculiar type of special being, a type which for a long time was considered a threat to public safety on UA 97. Puella Magi are exclusively female, aged between six to fourteen, a worldwide group of unattached girls that comprise nearly sixty-two percent of UA 97's total special being population, forming largest group by a wide margin. Due to their sheer diversity and number, further classification and listing is impossible, though a few Puella Magi stand out as noteworthy, such as Tomoe Mami, heroine of Mitakihara, the infamous and tragic Hanako Watanabe or the mysterious Akemi Homura, from whom most of our current knowledge of the Puella System comes from.

    Puella Magi's abilities are, as previously mentioned, too varied to properly quantify. However, each Puella's powers are individually focused in a “theme”. Some theories link the theme to the life of the puella prior to her wish, to the wish herself, or to her personality. They usually have a weapon or artifact, which varies in importance between C to S in power. Defensively, they are among the most fragile magical girls, with relatively minor enhancements on average. However, once again, this can vary greatly; the well-recorded case of Miki Sayaka, for example, speaks of her extreme regeneration factor. There seems to be no correlation between the range of engagement of the Puella's weapon and her defensive abilities. Metabolically, once again, no Puella is like any other. Some lose the need to breathe, some feel no hunger, some can punch through solid steel while others can barely push a small car. Most have some general enhancements over their base form, but it is unknown if this is on design, or if it is because those who do not possess such enhancements get selected out too quickly to be detected.

    As with the Cure type, Puella Magi are Externally Heightened [Editor's note: References to “the Academia of Magic”, chapter 5: On classification and quantification, p. 74], but unlike Cures, the creatures empowering Puella Magi, commonly known as “Kyuubei”, “Kyuubee” or under its real name, “Incubator”, is a collective of dangerous, conniving creatures with nebulous aims and inhuman motivations. Incubator comes to girls in need of help and offers them a wish, in exchange for empowering them as magical girls. While this looks, on the surface, as a good deal, the act of accepting such a wish is a death sentence in itself.

    For most human Specials, simply the act of living means one has to fight. This is truer for Puella Magi. While the option of laying down arms and settling down exists for others, Puella do not have that luxury. [...]Should the Soul Gem of a Puella be broken, the girl will die instantly. Failing to keep her gem clean, however, has an even worse result for the girl: the transformation into a Witch.

    Witches are [...]. Because Puella Magi are, so far, the only Specials capable of penetrating a Witch's maze, they are the world's only means of defense against Witches. Additionally, Witches produce a passive field of despair, which affects any unshielded opponent and causes them to entertain increasingly defeatist thoughts, often leading to suicide. Modern defenses offer no protection against this field, which can affect even intelligent devices, causing them to malfunction.

    As both Puella and familiars are capable of producing witches, the system is self-sustaining in such a way that it is hard to imagine it could be accidental; so long as there are human beings, familiars can turn into witches, and so long as there are Puella magi, new witches, thus new familiars, can appear. Without Puella Magi, however, the number of witches would skyrocket and cause the extinction of the human race within a few months.

    Unfortunately, very few Puella Magi are inclined to accept help. Most human Specials, because of the stresses and traumas of their normal lives, are prime target for witches and are vulnerable to the effects of entering the witch's maze, with the rare exception of the Black Paradox type (chapter 7). Accepting help therefore means having to protect someone else on top of their own selves, a course of action that is unwise for them. Attempts at creating a stockpile of Grief Seeds for girls attached to the MGA also ended in failure; left on their own, Grief Seeds have a tendency to saturate with the negativity around them and reawaken into the previously slain witch, that is, when they don't simply disappear into thin air.

    Lastly, there is the fact that the Puella System simply does not promote cooperation in the minds of its victims. Puella Magi, to remain human, have to hunt in a relatively constant fashion. Like most solitary hunters in nature, they establish hunting territories which they fiercely defend from other “predators”. Failing the secure such a territory leads to transformation, just as a weaker hunter dies from hunger in the wilds. Fights between Puella are frequent, ferocious and often to the death. On the rare case where Puella form groups, the stresses from having to hold a much larger territory often leads to fractures within the group. Combined with the high rate of unsuccessful hunts, the attrition rate of Puella Magi stands at a horrifying 85% over two months, particularly in densely populated areas. 5% of Puella live for one year after making their wish, less than 2% reach the second year mark. In that kind of environment, only the strongest and most ruthless survive.

    Solving the Puella question is one of the greatest challenge of our times for UA 97, and unless a solution is found, the system will only grow worse and more brutal in time as population densities continue to increase, shrinking its victims' territories and forcing more clashes between them.

    --from “A study and classification of the Special Beings of Unadministered World 97” by Dr. Vauxhall Monza, vol 1, chapter 3: “Puella Magi and the Puella System”. Bonneville Publishers, Kuranaga, Mid., year 108, 28th edition.
    [Editor's note: I was unable to find this chapter in my version of the book, nor in any other version I found.]

    ---

    Smooth sailing? Friendship and hope and dreams? THIS. IS. MADOKA!

    And yes, this is another one-shot. And is not, nor was intended, nor should be considered to be BF canon-compliant.

    Good thing, too, otherwise Nanoha would officially become the Bfverse's Worf.

    EDIT: Xenforo ate my italics :(
     
    seed00, Satori, elenchus and 9 others like this.
  2. Grace

    Grace Unapologetic in practice, too!

    Wonderfully dark. I quite liked it.

    ...I'm also kind of wanting to strangle you for the sudden attacks of weeabooetry, though. Seriously: "shougakkou"? "bouryokudan"? I thought you were better than this, dude.
     
  3. sdarian

    sdarian Watching The World Burn

    As I haven't been keeping up with the BattleFantasia stuff, since I'm waiting for an actual story to come out of it (they even made a special collection on FF.Net, only to have nothing posted in it), I had just assumed that those names were something they came up with.

    Edit: I did like this though. Kind of wish it was longer.
     
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