Another Witch’s barrier had gone up. This one resembled a children’s playground, with slides and things to crawl through that seemed to stretch to infinity. The skies were white with occasional patches of blue clouds, and everything looked like it was drawn in sidewalk chalk. A Witch with a strangely humanoid form waited at the top of a slide that was wider than the average human, and stretched to the heavens. A magical wand was in her hands. Steam came out of it at random intervals, fogging the scene. Legions of mechanical familiars, each one like a miniature HAL crossed with a duck, orbited her, their high pitched squawking driving people mad beyond the barrier.
“Puella Magi, I know you’re out there. I promise this won’t hurt. At first,” said the Witch, speaking in the language of humans.
I wake up again in the restaurant where my friends and I eat after school. I must have been daydreaming again. Hitomi has already left to do some shopping. Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot to introduce myself. I’m Madoka Kaname, a second year middle school student. A few weeks ago, I made a contract with Kyubey, and am now a Puella Magi. I don’t know much of what we’re up against, so I’ve been trying to write it down. There’s a sketchbook on the table before me with drawings of the Witches we’ve faced so far. I think this is what they’d call a bestiary?
The customers here aren’t paying me much mind. I’m just an average middle school girl, after all. This quiet is interrupted by a sudden sharp pain in my Soul Gem. It begins to glow bright pink in my breast pocket. That’s the sign that a Witch is nearby. I leave my food and sketchbook on the table and run off. I don’t have to run very far. The entrance to the Witch’s dimension is located in one of the decorative windows of a nearby tea shop.
I think back to the games I used to play with Sayaka when we were young. I look into the glossy window and hold my Soul Gem aloft. “Shining Transform!” I shout to no one in particular. My school uniform is magically ripped from my body and replaced with my frilly pink Puella Magi outfit. The magic keeps me warm and the glow covers my body.
With the transformation done, I take aim at the window with a single arrow. Reality itself is cut open, revealing a walkway of concrete and sand against a strange white-blue sky towards the Witch’s domain. Letters in a language I can’t understand flash around me, but I hold my bow close and walk forward. For a playground, it’s pretty dimly lit. Things don’t feel right. Like the energy in the magic barrier comes from another source, but I don’t know enough about magic to place it.
The familiars start to swarm me. I find myself surrounded by metallic feathers covered in pastel ink. There isn’t enough room to fire at them. Maybe if I use the bow itself as a weapon? My worries turn out to be ill founded. One of the familiars is taken down by a blast from a musket. Another group of three is defeated by a polearm that erases them from existence. The last of them are stuck to the walls of the sky by sabers, crying out before vanishing. I use my bow at last, on the final familiar.
“What’s that?” I ask.
“Madoka, don’t think you can do this without us!” Sayaka calls out, somewhat indignant, but glad she got to be the hero.
“We’re the legendary warriors,” said Mami, blowing on the tip of her gun barrel.
“The strength of our souls is our strength united!” said Kyoko.
“You’re all alive, and getting along with each other?” Madoka asked.
‘Why wouldn’t we be?” Sayaka said, “We’re heroes!”
“The protectors of people’s smiles!” said Mami.
“The world’s saviors!” added Kyoko.
“Pretty Cure Wishing Jewel!” the four of them said together, striking a synchronized pose.
“Pr-pretty Cure?” I asked.
“We face guys like this all the time. Everyone, charge!” said Kyoko, taking a bite before going into battle.
Sayaka and Mami summoned multiple copies of their sabers and muskets, taking down even more of the familiars at a surprising rate. Kyoko was alternating her fists and her staff simultaneously, often piercing through several of them at once. The geography of the Witch’s playground became cloud-like, making it look as though we were fighting in midair.
“I’ll do something too,” I said.
I took aim with my bow, destroying several more of the familiars and leaving large craters in the grass. We were almost out of the labyrinth when a purpleish burst of energy shot down from the top of the slide, sending us flying to the edge of the barrier. Bat-like energy wings had sprouted from the Witch’s feet.
She descended the slide and came into our line of vision. She had an outfit that called to mind a machine more than a man. Her hair was tied into a single ponytail. Her magical wand looked like a circle with a blade atop it, holding a blood red gem in the center. Was it possible for someone to keep their Soul Gem on their weapon?
“Who’s that?” I asked.
“It’s the witch, Fiasse. In life, she was known as Nanoha Takamachi,” explained Sayaka, knowing more about this than I thought.
“I’ll show you my full power magic,” said Fiasse.
“Meteor Impact,” spoke a wailing voice from the gem on her weapon.
The attack was cut off at the last second by an intercepting pink blast. The words “Standby Ready.” echoed through the dimension. A girl with hair the same color as the Witch, her outfit primarily white and blue, and her weapon gold with a shining red jewel in the center, approached. They looked like twins from over here. I think the girl was about my age.
“Excuse me, are you related to the Witch?” I asked.
“I’m Nanoha Takamachi,” said the girl in white.
“There are two of you?” I said.
“This is a false copy created from a Jewel Seed and some regrets. We just need to deal with her,” said the real Nanoha.
“So we can fight to our full strength,” I said.
“To purify peoples’ hearts is what we’re here for,” said Mami.
“To protect their smiles,” said Sayaka.
“Who do you think we are?” asked Kyoko.
“We’re Pretty Cure Wishing Jewel!” I said, leading everyone in another pose. It was awkward, but felt kind of cool.
We charged into battle. Kyoko extended her polearm out into a chain, capturing several familiars in the links and destroying several more with the bladed tip. Mami summoned a ring of muskets around her and fired off every single one, the hail of yellow bullets turning the familiars into a cloud of white dust. Sayaka used five swords at once, three in one hand and two in another, breaking through the familiars on top of the monkey bars.
Nanoha pushed back her double with stronger and stronger blasts of energy until the two of them were near the swings. I followed close behind, clearing away the familiars to make it easy for my senior.
“Let’s go!” Nanoha called out.
“Take this! The power of the Lord’s Salvation!” said Kyoko, “Santo Chain!”
The end of her polearm shot out and wrapped itself around a medium sized familiar. Kyoko pulled it close to herself and leaped into the air, destroying it with a flying kick.
“Take this! The power of blossoming life!” said Mami, “Tiro Finale!”
She summoned a much larger musket than usual and fired it off. The only difference is that this time, the shot blossomed out into the shape of a flower, imposing itself on the familiar before raining down shrapnel like petals in the aftermath of the explosion.
“Take this! The power of healing love!” said Sayaka, “Allegro Slash!”
Sayaka called forth a single sword from within her robes. She sped up until she resembled a blur. It looked like several of her sliced through the larger familiar at once. She apparently had, cutting it into several segments, all of which exploded individually.
“Take this! The power of eternal friendship!” I said, “Soul Arrow!”
I held my bow between my fingers and shot off a single arrow. The dark Nanoha, however, fired off a Magick Burst from her weapon, destroying the arrow in hellish fire before it could reach her. I regrouped with Nanoha. She was holding Raising Heart outward. Steam shout out from the weapon as the jewel within it spoke.
“It didn’t work!” I said worriedly.
“Then we’ll have to combine our powers, Madoka,” said Nanoha. “Raising Heart, are you ready?”
“Yes, Master,” answered the red jewel, “Starlight Breaker. 10. 9. 8. 7. 6.”
I mimicked Nanoha’s movements. My Soul Gem was starting to glow. I could see runes in the language of the Witches being written across it. Pink energy surrounded us. Wings sprouted from both of our weapons. I didn’t even know my bow was capable of that. I joined Nanoha and Raising Heart in their countdown.
“5. 4. 3. 2. 1. Zero. PRETTY CURE STARLIGHT BREAKER!” we both shouted.
Her beam weapon and my arrow converged into a spiral of pink light that bore right through the chest of the fake Nanoha. I think it leveled the rest of the playground within the barrier. Nanoha and I posed triumphantly. Nanoha saw the Jewel Seed lying in the corner and picked it up. She smiled.
“That wasn’t so hard,” she said.
“You’re incredible,” I said.
“We’ll have to work together more from now on,” said Sayaka, running over.
“It’s our duty to protect the Earth,” said Mami.
“We’re friends. Friends stick together,” said Kyoko.
“Everyone...” I said. “One more time.”
“Pretty Cure Wishing Jewel!” the four of us and Nanoha did that pose again. I think I got it right this time.
As quickly as the images of battle had come, they went. I woke up to find myself lying down on the restaurant table, my face buried in my sketchbook. Homura was sitting across from me. When did she get here?
“What are you muttering about?” asked Homura.
“I thought everyone was the legendary warriors, Pretty Cure,” I said.
“Puella magi are not anything like that. It’s only you and me here,” said Homura.
“But everyone... and Nanoha...” I said, trying to make sense of that fantastic event.
“I do not know anybody named Nanoha,” said Homura.
“So you’re not a rollerblading magical girl either?” I said.
“I’ve never shown such skills,” said Homura coldly. I heard her whisper under her breath, “though I think it sounds fun... So, what is that you’re drawing?”
“I wanted to sketch down the Witches so that people can be aware of them,” I said, showing her some of my drawings.
“You should give up on that while you still can,” said Homura, standing up and leaving.
“Homura! You know a lot about these things. Maybe you’re a legendary warrior too?” I asked, following after her.
“I’m not,” said Homura.
I followed her down the street, trying to get to know her better. She had budged slightly, today. Maybe there’s a warm heart beneath that cold exterior yet, and some day, our hearts will be connected.