“If there is something that you desire, I can be of assistance. You have the potential for a contract with me.”
Ochaco looked up from the small pile of bills spread out on her desk. A small, white creature sat on her windowsill. It had an oval head with large, wide beady red eyes. Long ears drooped along its sides and a fluffy tail swished behind it using graceful and natural motions. It looks like a weird cat—but if it had spoken, it was sentient.
Was it someone with a Quirk like Nezu?
Either way, it was an intruder.
“Who are you and how did you get in here?” Ochaco asked, jumping from her desk. She held her hands out, ready to activate her Quirk. Was it associated with the League? Or some other threat? “U.A. is a secure campus.”
“You may call me Kyubey,” it said, speaking with a high and cute voice. It jumped from the window and settled on the desk. Its movements mimicked a cat as it walked in a circle before sitting and scratching behind its ear with a back paw. “I am a Messenger of Magic and there is very little outside of my power. Your school’s security systems can’t recognize or see me, so I had no trouble coming to see you.”
Ochaco considered herself a decent judge of character.
The creature—person—whatever it was spoke with the authority of someone who could back up that claim.
Getting into U.A. without notice backed it up as well.
She sprinted for the door and threw it open, dashing out into the hall. Her training kicked in and warning the others was her top priority. She needed to get a teacher and let them know they had an intruder as soon as possible, but there was another on her hall.
Why did Ashido have to be so far away on the other end?
“May I ask what you are doing?” The animal asked, running alongside her with ease. It bounced and jumped from surface to surface with natural agility and almost a floating grace that reminded her of her Quirk—as if Gravity didn’t affect it. Its large ears flopped along as it ran, showing off the large cold rings that surrounded them. “If you are getting help for an intruder, I am sorry to inform you that it is a pointless action. No one can see me but you and other Magical Girls.”
Ochaco smacked the creature into the wall and waited for her Quirk to lift it—but it did nothing.
She skidded to a halt and the animal dropped to the ground, landing gracefully on all fours; unaffected and bored.
“You look surprised,” it said. It flicked its tail and tilted its head in a manner appearing to be harmless. Ochaco knew better than to be fooled by cute appearances—Toga and Deku had taught her that long ago. “Don’t be. Many of the rules of your world do not apply to me and things such as gravity are easily manipulated.”
“What are you?” she asked. Ochaco’s feet stayed planted on the wooden floor of the hall. She wanted to get Aizawa, but she couldn’t move. Her Quirk had never failed her before. “Tell—”
“Uraraka? Are you all right?” Mina asked, poking her head outside of the room. She yawned into her hand and rubbed her eyes. “I heard you talking through the door.”
Ochaco looked at her friend and down to the intruder. The creature sat perfectly still, aside from the flicking tail, and watched the exchange. Mina turned her head to follow Ochaco’s line of sight but frowned and looked back at her.
She couldn’t see it.
“As I said before,” the creature said. It flicked its ears and tilted its head. “Only Magical Girls and those with the potential to become Magical Girls can see me.”
Why did it keep saying Magical Girls? Like the characters in television shows with the cute outfits and villains of the day?
Why couldn’t Mina see the intruder?
Was it Magic?
“Uraraka?” Mina asked again, oblivious to the animal. Her face turned to that of concern and frowned. “What’s wrong?”
“Tell her nothing,” it said. It turned on its hind legs and walked back to Uraraka’s room with steady steps. “You and I have much to discuss.”
“Nothing,” Ochaco said. She swallowed and rubbed her arm. Ochaco came up with the first excuse that came to mind and hoped it’d be good enough. “I had a nightmare and I guess I was sleepwalking.”
“That’s the worst,” Mina said. She leaned on her door and nodded before heading back inside. “Good luck getting back to sleep, and I’m here if you want to talk about it.”
She left Mina behind and returned to her room, all thoughts of getting Aizawa had left. Ochaco flinched when the creature jumped on her shoulder and rubbed their cheeks together.
“Now then, Ochaco Uraraka, I shall introduce myself properly: I am Kyubey, and I want you to become a Magical Girl!”
“In this world, there are curses that go unseen by normal people every day. They are responsible for all of the negative emotions in humanity. Suffering. Pain. Sadness. All are the results of curses existing.” Kyubey licked his paw and rubbed his face. “And those curses manifest themselves in creatures of despair known as witches. They prey on the innocent, trapping them in their labyrinths and killing countless individuals.”
“And Magical Girls fight them,” Ochaco said. She held her hands clasped together, tempted to pinch herself awake. She lived in a world where everyone had a super power, but this little creature was talking about wishes and magic. Ochaco had to be dreaming. Had to be. And in what world did little creatures grant wishes in return for magic? Wasn’t that two benefits? “Because no one else can see them.”
Ochaco stared at the meager stack of money that she’d been counting before Kyubey arrived.
“In exchange for a wish, Magical Girls must fight witches,” Kyubey said. The little beast tapped at the edge of a paper bill, bouncing it up and down. The cute appearance contrasted the serious tone and Ochaco wanted to slap him to make him stop. “So if you look at it that way, everyone is fairly compensated.”
The few coins and three crumbled bills stared at Ochaco.
She could hear the paper crinkle under a paw.
“Yes, I can grant nearly any wish you may desire, the only limitations are that of your magical potential—the greater the potential, the greater the wish,” Kyubey said. He walked across the desk, one of his paws stepping on a coin. “And you have a decent amount of potential, so feel free to ask and I will see if it is within my capability to grant.”
“What have others asked for?” Ochaco asked. There had to be a trick. Or proof that someone else had made the deal. Kyubey talked in plurals—so if he was telling the truth, there were other Magical Girls already out there. “I find it hard to believe you can do anything.”
The creature’s wide, unblinking red eyes stared right at her. “Quirks.”
A chill ran down Ochaco’s spine.
“Many years ago, someone wished that the world was more like comic books and that people had powers,” Kyubey said. “I granted her wish and the first child with a Quirk was born.”
His eyes flashed and Ochaco saw a vision of a young girl holding a comic book to the same, small creature. Her excited face and poses looked so hopeful. It flashed to a scene in a hospital and showed a glowing child Ochaco had seen in their history books. The vision left just as quickly and Ochaco grabbed her chest to calm her beating heart. She floated out of her seat and breathed hard.
“Not all wishes are so grand.” Kyubey tracked her as Uraraka floated. “One girl asked for a boy’s hand to be healed, while another wanted a piece of cheesecake. Wishes are very personal and there is no right or wrong to your choice—but may only be granted one wish, so it’s very important to make sure it’s what you want.”
“What I want,” she repeated. She licked her lip and dropped her arms. Uraraka floated aimlessly in the air, staring at the ceiling. “I could have anything.”
“Ochaco Uraraka,” Kyubey said. He jumped onto the ceiling and stared her down, free from gravity. “Would you like to make a contract with me and become a Magical Girl? Heroes can fight mortal threats, but the ones that lurk under the surface are out of their reach.”
The money continued to gleam under her desk lamp.
“I’d be helping people—saving them like a Hero.”
“Of course, you’d people able to fight the villains that can be seen and are unseen alike.”
Her family free of worry.
Ochaco reached toward Kyubey, her hand outstretched. She looked at him through the spaces between her fingers.
“And I’d get anything I wanted.”
She became a Hero to make money fighting Villains.
How would this be any different?
The creation of a soul gem hurt.
Ochaco covered her mouth to muffle the scream. Her Quirk floated her once more off the ground as the creature’s ears ripped into her chest with a strong glow. She squirmed in the air, opening her eyes in time to see the small, oval gem pull from her chest.
The beautiful gem glowed a bright pink, floating in the air before her.
“This is your Soul Gem,” Kyubey said. “Consider it as valuable as your life. It’s where your magic resides and grows. Make sure you keep it clear of corruption, though we will get to how you are to accomplish that after you meet your fist Witch.”
Ochaco reached out and held her Soul Gem. It felt warm and amazing. Like herself. Ochaco resonated with it and almost teared up at how beautiful it looked. She pulled it close to her chest and closed her eyes.
“Go ahead and try it out,” Kyubey said. His even, calm voice continued with little inflection. “It’s your magic, now. Transform.”
The world burst into light and color. It surrounded Ochaco with streams of pink and white. She spun in the air, feeling a new power engulf her. She felt light. Better than gravity. Free and beautiful.
She landed on the ground and spread out her arms. In the mirror she saw herself: A Magical Girl.
Dressed in the colors of her Hero Uniform, her dress resembled her favorite party dress with roses in her hair and a puffy white skirt. Ribbons lined her legs and her dress flats looked perfect and new.
In the center of her collar, sat an oval pink gem.
Her Soul Gem had transformed with her.
“Along with your magic, your physical abilities have been greatly increased,” Kyubey said. He rolled on his back, scratching and rolling. “You can leap higher, run faster, and withstand far more damage and injury than you could before. You also heal quicker, but you aren’t immortal.”
“So I can do more, but I need to stay on guard.” Ochaco stood in front of the window. She looked at her hands and could feel the power flowing through her. If she was dreaming, it went far beyond anything she’d experienced before. “So it’s just like being a pro hero. Nothing had changed but the outfit.”
“It’s so much more than that. You also have a weapon and a style of magic unique to you and your wish,” Kyubey said, rolling onto his feet. He stretched, arching his back like a cat. “I look forward to seeing your potential realized, Ochaco Uraraka.”
Her family was taken care of and Ochaco could get to work and earn it.
“That’s a witch?”
Ochaco’s legs trembled.
“Witches live in labyrinths,” Kyubey had said. He continued with the same, bored matter-of-fact tone that he’d spoken with since she’d met him. Kyubey said that his species did not experience emotion. At first she didn’t believe him, but much like magic, she was coming to accept that might be truth as well. “We’ll have to take care while inside because a Witch has total control in her domain. If we’re lucky, we may be able to save a few of her trapped victims before they are eaten by the familiars or the witch herself.”
“Then we’ll have to be lucky,” Ochaco said. She had used magic to sneak out of the dorm and still couldn’t believe the things she could do now. Ochaco had followed Kyubey with confidence. She’d been trained as a Hero. She was ready. “Leaving people behind is not an option.”
When Kyubey had led her to the entrance of the Witch’s lair, she still had the image of an old woman in her mind for the witch. Someone with a cauldron or a wand like in the books. Maybe she’d have a cat familiar or a crow.
Nothing could have prepared her for the witch being a giant monster that looked like an overgrown sheep covered in eyes. Large horns wrapped around it and a feeling of dread and despair surrounded her. Only the soft light of her own gem and the burning magic inside protected her from the sheer miasma and misery that spread from the “witch.”
Kyubey also had downplayed the Witch’s “Familiars.” The monster had hundreds of cloaked and creepy familiars that blew into horns like evil sheep herders.
And they wasted no time in rushing Ochaco; fighting to kill.
“You have a step up on most magical girls,” Kyubey said, dodging through the familiars. “Your Hero training will give you an edge in the fight.”
Ochaco dodged a hit from the minion’s staff while the Witch yelled in the background. She smacked it with her open palm and the minion floated up, but another took its place. Ochaco took a hit to the stomach and flew back.
The wall behind her dented and she heaved. Ochaco coughed up blood, but she could feel her skin stitching itself back together in real time. The faster healing was true, but the pain pushed through.
Her wish came with a cost.
Kyubey hadn’t lied about that.
“Your Quirk will work against them, though I suggest you use your magic,” Kyubey said, voice still even. “It’ll be more effective.”
“Right.” Ochaco inhaled and ran forward. She held out her hand and reached deep inside herself the way Kyubey told her. With another burst of light and flower petals, a heavy club landed in her hand. “Let’s go!”
Swinging it the same way she had swung the column in her first practical, Ochaco yelled as it made contact with the group of familiars. The club glowed pink and flames engulfed it as it elongated and hit the entire group of them. She finished through the swing, tossing all of them out of the way.
The familiars burst into magical flames and vanished one after another, going down.
“Good! You’re doing great!” Kyubey said. “Now finish the Witch!”
Ochaco struck down minion after minion. Alternating between her Quirk, hitting obstacles with her club, and her martial arts to dodge around. She jumped off floating fence pieces and the other random items in the Witch’s labyrinth.
Her surroundings felt like running through a surreal painting. The dreamlike state of it all continued, but the very real threat of the monster trying to kill her remained.
“I won’t lose to you!” Ochaco shouted. She’d lost too many times in her life. But no more. No more. Ochaco leapt and slammed her hand into the center of the Witch. It lifted from the round, wriggling its limbs as it floated. “Go down!”
Putting all of her power into the next hit, she swung her club and slammed it hard into the center of the witch’s head.
With the power of magic, the blunt object cut through and sliced the witch in half. Blood spilled from the wound and it screamed as it died.
Ochaco landed on the ground, out of breath and gripping her club tight to keep it from floating away.
Bits of the monster witch remained floating in the air, still affected by her Quirk. Ochaco stood straighter and tilted her head.
She didn’t feel nauseous. Not even the lingering bits she’d trained herself to push through during months of work.
Had her transformation cured her of that entirely?
“Come here,” Kyubey said as the labyrinth evaporated around them. “This is your last lesson.”
Ochaco approached him and knelt by his side. Next to him, sat a small sphere on a needle point, standing straight up in the ground.
“This is a Grief Seed,” Kyubey said. He tapped the seed and it floated in the air toward her. “Take it. This one is yours.”
She picked up the small item and ran her hand over the decorated markings surrounding the black circle.
“Hold it next to your Soul Gem.”
Ochaco did as instructed and held it near. A dark, black substance came from her gem and ran into the Grief Seed.
“That process purifies your gem. The more magic you use, the more corrupted it is, so make sure to fill up the Grief Seed often and keep it pure.”
“And then what?”
“I eat it,” Kyubey said. Upon noticing Ochaco’s confused stare, Kyubey clarified. “I collect its energy and use it for the greater good.”
“I see.” Ochaco said. She let the Grief Seed float in her palm and stared at it. Despite her win, something heavy settled in her heart. “What happens if my Soul Gem is corrupted?”
Kyubey didn’t answer her.
“Uraraka, you’re looking great today,” Momo said, walking alongside Uraraka as they headed to class. Momo didn’t see the dozing Kyubey draped across Ochaco’s shoulders. Momo smiled warmly without a care. “Ashido mentioned that you were having nightmare troubles, are they over?”
“I’m still having a few, but I am sleeping better,” Ochaco said. She used to dream about earning money and making sure her family had enough. Ochaco dreamed of fighting alongside Deku and the others as a Hero. Lately, though, her dreams were of Witches and Grief Seeds. “That’s probably it.”
“I’m glad,” Momo said. She stopped and clapped her hands together. “Oh! I forgot. My family wanted your parents number. They were hoping to hire them for a contract.”
Kyubey’s ear twitched in what could have been amusement if the little creature expressed emotions.
“That’s great! They’ve been getting so many offers lately, but I’ll make sure they give you priority.” Ochaco winked. “An Uraraka promise!”
“I’m sure they’re looking forward to working with you.”
Momo waved goodbye and ran ahead to join up with Todoroki. They chatted happily; their lives hadn’t changed.
“My wish is still going.”
“Of course it is,” Kyubey answered. “You wished for wealth and prosperity in their business for as long as they lived. They’re still alive, aren’t they?”
“Yes.” Ochaco exhaled. “And I’ll protect them and the city from Villains and Witches alike.”
She had no other choice.
Her soul was literally on the line.