Chapter 6:

Battle 1: The Bride Monster, Part 1

pretty Loli defender

       The downtown district was in a panic as the large monster rampaged. People shrieked as they scuttled away in terror. The thing was as tall as a fifteen-floor building and as nearly as wide as the street! It stomped down the street with a roar that pained the ears and a step that threw people to the ground. It uprooted trees with ease and sent cars flying with one light kick.
     “Wh-w-what is that thing, Lii-San?” Unmiko squeaked to Lii-San as she crouched on the roof of the bank a mile away. “A monster.” “Well duh! Like I couldn’t figure that out on my own?” Miko snarked with a roll of her eyes.
     “ Well excuse me!” Lii-San rolled her eyes right back. “It looks like a spirit-type monster.” “Ghosts?!” Miko panicked. She hated creepy stuff! The only time she’d watch horror movies or gorey stuff was if Yuna made her. It typically took her a few days to be able to sleep with her door unlocked and the lights off whenever that happend.
       "Not that kind of spirit!” Lii corrected. “In this case, a spirit is a monster created from someone’s extreme negative emotions. Like hate, fear, or loneliness, for example. When someone finally reaches their breaking point, then the negativity can’t be held back anymore and it needs to be released, whether the person knows it or not. It usually tethers itself to it's creators most beloved possession. It might take a while for the emotions to possess the item, but once it can’t hold back anymore, the evil energy creates an actual monster from their suffering.” Lii paused. Was this too hard for Miko-Chan to understand?
         "Unmiko-Chan! Let's go through the process of accessing the situation and making a plan.” Lii-San stood directly in front of Miko’s face. “First of all, observation. Each spirit-type monster will have it’s creator’s item embedded in a part of it’s form. That origin object and the emotions and memories of it’s owner decide the appearance, powers, and strength of the monster. Get a good, long look at that thing. What do you see?”
    Unmiko squinted slightly. “Ummmmm…It’s black!” She burst out. “Uhh…” Not sure of where to go with this, she scanned the creature up and down.
       “It…it looks a bit like a giant shadow person; not a ton of shape or definition to it. It is kind of like a ghost, in a way” “What about those clothes on it?” “Well…” Miko pondered. What did the thing’s outfit remind her of? “Oh! I know now!” She excitedly pounded her fist into her other hand. 
       “A bride! It’s dressed for a wedding! It has a poofy white dress and gloves like what Ishiki-Sama wore to her and Papa’s wedding! And that head covering… I thought it was a towel, but maybe it’s actually a veil?”
        “Great observations, Miko-Chan!” Lii-San cheered. “If I had to guess, I’d say that that monster was born from someone who was having love troubles and was disappointed by their significant other. Most likely, the creator was female, judging from the bride outfit. The only way you’re going to be able to fight it is by doing direct combat with it.”
       “Ehh!” Miko gasped. “Fight? You never said anything about needing to fight! Fight the thing that’s the size of a skyscraper and very angry? No way! I value my continued existence, thank you very much!” “Oh, grow up!” Lii made a fist and bopped Miko over the head. “Owie! That hurts, you bully!” Miko cried.
      “Nice try! You promised, Miko, remember? You specifically said that you wouldn’t be a wimp, and that means that you need to listen to me and suck it up! We already had had conversation earlier about fighting and you’d be wise to remember it! Actually, I told you that you had to fight multiple times! I don’t intend to spend half of my life repeating stuff I’ve already said!” Lii-San snapped, her patience wearing thin. 
     Why did Miko-Chan have to pick now, of all times, to decide to not only not listen to her, but drag her heels when she’d already promised to uphold her contract? Lii sighed. As much as she liked miko and though that she would be a perfect Magical Girl candidate, she knew that working with her was going to be a uphill battle and that Miko was going to fight her most of the way. Not that it could really be helped. This was her job, so she just had to work with whatever, or, in this case, whoever, she got handed.
      “Pay attention, unless you want to get your butt kicked by that thing!” Lii ordered. “Yes, you have to confront that thing and fight! You need to find the object of origin. It’s the monster’s weak point. It will be on the monster somewhere. Usually it’s a part of their outfit or appearance or embedded in one of its body parts. It’s usually visible, but it may take a while to locate because you’re going to be moving around a lot. The object is also important because it will tell you all about the person and emotions that unwillingly created it. There are two ways to defeat a spirit-type monster. The first one is a direct attack on the object of origin. That usually works, but the other option is knowing about it’s creator and the mental state it was born with and using that information to attack it. Some spirit-types can’t be totally destroyed by attacking the object of origin. You need to read its memories, so to speak, to figure out what sort of attack will be needed to finish it. Sometimes, though, you don’t even need an attack. Just talk to them or perform a specific action, and they will fade away peacefully of their own free will.”
       “So, there’s no way to definitely figure out what to do now?” asked Unmiko. “And how am I supposed to attack, anyway? All I can do right now is run super fast and hop off or across stuff. Please do not tell me you want me to beat the thing up like a boxer or learn martial arts!”                  “What do you think this is? Some sort of delinquent manga or something?” Lii-San rolled her eyes. “I have you covered.”
     Slowly, she spread her arms, scattering a glittery rose-colored light. She closed her eyes peacefully with a smile, letting a little sigh escape her lips. Grandously, she dipped down in a graceful bow like a ballet dancer and then slowly stood upright again, gradually raising her hands above her head. She proceeded to do a few quick, graceful turns. As the pixie did her little dance-of-sorts, the glitter fell from her. 
      “oooo! So pretty!” Unmiko clapped gleefully, momentarily forgetting the fact that she was about to enter into a battle. Lii-San could do magic; she was really a pixie like in the fairy tales!
      As the glitter reached Unmiko, it slowly began to swirl into a little whirlwind. Eventually, it picked up speed and began forming into a solid object.
     "Oh, so cute!” Unmiko giggled as she reached out for it. Lii had created a tiny clip-on charm, like the sort people clipped onto their cellphones. It was a little poppy flower, just like the ones she was waiting on in her indoor garden! Unmiko was never really one for jewelry or flashy things, but she loved this charm because it was so simple.
       “Okay,” Lii-San fluttered over Miko. “When your heart tells you that it is time, you should press this to the moon on your Heart Compact. Remember how I said that you’d be given powers to help you fight? That’s what this and your compact will help you do. Sorry but, again, you are just going to have to learn by doing because your powers depend on you and the state of your heart. Just clip it to the compact until you need it.” “Okay.” Miko complied.
“Now!” Lii-San turned and pointed dramatically. “Let’s go! Time to protect the city and serve some justice!” “o-o-o-okay!” Miko stuttered, wanting to get this over with before she lost what little nerve she had. “Here I come!” Miko took off hopping across the rooftops.
       *                                                                   *                                                                        *
     The monster let out a screech and smashed a hole in the side of a brick building. ‘destroy destroy destroy! Hurt! Hurt the way I hurt! Hurt like I want to hurt him! Hatehatehatehatehatehate!’ 
     It’s thoughts were a blind panic, the unprocessed and raw thoughts of the woman who’s hate and love it had been born from. Nothing mattered to it except destroying things and causing pain. It existed to do what the girl could not; to make the world suffer the despair and anger she had.
      “Hey! You!” Something jumped to the ground with a thud and the thing turned around.
       “Stop this! How dare you hurt innocent people? Your weakness and hate cannot
be allowed! In the name of all righteousness I, a humble defender of the light, shall make you pay!” A pretty little girl, dressed in a frilly black and purple dress pointed at it in accusation. ‘Hurt…hurt? What I do? What that thing?’ The monsters primitive thoughts went.
     “Oh good God, what the heck did I just say? Why am I saying such embarrassing things out loud?” Unmiko panicked.
       In that split second, the thing made up its mind. ‘Hate thing there! Get rid of it! Make thing go smash!’ It promptly smacked Miko and Lii-San so hard that they went flying through the air and were smashed into a crater in the side of a nearby high-rise before they knew it.
        “Ehh” Miko moaned and twitched. So this was what it felt like to be road kill. “oww!” Lii-San shook her head before stretching her arms and legs and flying back into the air. “Hey, Miko-Chan? Try moving. You’ll be sore, but you’re not injured. This is why you have a transformation in the first place.”
     Reluctantly, Miko tested her limbs. She wasn’t dead! Yay! She jumped strait down, ignoring the fact that she was at least thirty stories above the street, and landed in the position that runners started off in.
     “Die!!!" The monster shrieked in an extremely human voice as it swatted at Miko again. “Ack!” She squealed as she clumsily jumped into the air and doged it’s hand. It tried again and she ducked under it. Again, and she jumped off of it. Repeatedly, she just barely managed to avoid it. “Bad thing! Bad thing! Sit still! I smash you!!” it yelled as it proceeded to give stepping on Miko a try.
     “Umm, no thanks! Not gonna happen” The girl yelled as she frantically ran around dodging the thing's attempts to turn her into a grease spot on the pavement. The monster gave throwing it’s whole self on top of her a try and Miko did a backflip that sent her spiraling up past it’s face. She caught a glimpse of something shiny as she flew up. 
     The thing lunged and it’s veil flew up briefly with the movement. As Miko flew back down, she saw it again. It was a ring embedded in what should have been it’s forehead! 
     “Lii-San!” Miko screamed as she landed on the side of a building and proceed to run across it, defying all laws of gravity. “Lii-San! Lii-San, I saw some sort of jewelry embedded in it’s head!”
      “Really?” The pixie caught up to Miko and flew alongside her. “That has to be the object of origin! Okay, forgetting what your heart feels for the moment, I think it’s time for you to put that charm to good use!” “A-a-alright!” 
     Miko hopped sideways off of the building and bounced her way down into a gentle landing. “What do I need to do?” “Just unclip that charm and press it against the moon on your heart compact. If you feel that you are supposed to say or do something, then do whatever it is you feel is right.” “Umm….Okay!” Miko stuttered. She wanted to get this over with as soon as possible before the monster got a lucky hit in.
      “Let’s go! Lucky charm!” She gave a little bounce and held the flower up high in the air. She inwardly cringed, but otherwise forced herself to ignore the utter embarrassment of what she was doing.
      She brought her arm down in a grand arc and slapped the flower charm into the moon. The charm dissolved into the smooth, pearly surface and the compact began bouncing around and shaking, much like Lii-San had emerged from Miko’s flowers.
     Yet another sparkling light suddenly shot from the compact as it burst open. The light surrounded Miko in a spiral and she gently twirled through the air. Gradually, what looked like a magic wand appeared in Miko’s hand.
    The handle was stripped in purple and pink, that matched the compacts colors. The very bottom was capped by what looked like a large, dull spike made of gold. The top of the wand was a solid gold heart. Surprisingly, it was very light and weightless. There was a sapphire star int the center of the heart, and a small pair of golden, angelic wings protruded from the back of it. A large pink bow was tied at the base of the heart.
     Miko completed a few more spins, now with the wand-like thing in tow, and then crossed her hands over her chest. "The gentle light of justice-“ Miko did one final spin before landing in cutesy position with both hands on the handle and winking. “Rabbit heart!”
      Lii-san paid careful attention to Miko's actions. ‘Hmm…so she has a classic staff, like eighty-percent of Magical Girl candidates.’ She thought. ‘Not that odd. However, it is pretty unusual for someone to receive a weapon that already has an innate name. Not that it really matters, because it was created by her inner self after all, but most girls name their weapons farther on after they have completed a few battles and they do it for the fun of it. Does this mean anything special, or does Miko just have such strong magical potential that she was able to generate a more intricate custom weapon?’
      “Let’s go!” Miko commanded her wand. In response, Miko grew a pair of translucent golden wings. They were clearly attached to Miko, but gave the appearance of hovering over her shoulder blades. The wings on her wand glowed and expanded in response, giving her weapon a similar look. “Fly!” Miko ordered and she took off spinning into the air.
     “Hey!” She screamed fearlessly as she hovered above the monster. The thing looked up in confusion. ‘What thing what?’ 
       "Take this, creepy!” Miko yelled as she fired a blue blast of light directly into its face. The monster roared and fell over backwards onto it’s rear, smashing the pavement. “Wow. That was surprisingly easy.” Miko commented as she observed the monster sprawled out in apparent shock and confusion.
        “Miko-Chan!” Lii-San called from below Miko. “Now’s your chance! Get up close and use your staff on the ring! We need to figure out how to beat it for good!” “Okay!” Miko gracefully descended as her wings fluttered softly. “Hmmm…h-h-hey!” She said timidly as she waved her wand in front of the thing’s non-existent face. “Hello!” Satisfied that the thing wasn’t going to be lunging at her again anytime soon, Miko leaned in and gently pressed the tip of her wand against the large ring.
     “Origin-reveal!” Miko ordered. The wand hummed and the ring began glowing as if it was experiencing intense heat. The red glow that the wand and ring emitted expanded and turned into a small, murky screen of sorts, and Miko watched as a story played out on it.
       The monster was really the manifestation of the anger, despair, and love of a eleventh grade girl at the public high school. She had experienced mental health problems all her life and had been abandoned as a toddler because her birth parents couldn’t cope with them. Despite the aid of her foster mother, a medical team, and various medications, the girl struggled and suffered from her extreme emotions and mental attacks.
     “The girl who created this thing…” Miko whispered. “She’s…she’s a lot like me.”
       The girl had experienced bullying and immense social struggles and grew to hate pretty much everyone, especially members of the male gender, as the boys in her class took particular delight in tormenting her. But then…
        One day, a new boy had transferred into her class. She had disliked him immediately, but he had quickly grown on her. He was a dorky, short guy with glasses and big brown eyes. He could be annoying, but she found his clumsiness and shyness oddly endearing. He wasn’t like the other boys in her class; he was really sweet and as cute and harmless as a little kid.
      Out of nowhere, he came up to her desk one day and bashfully said that he thought that she was pretty and smart; would she possibly ever consider going out on a date with someone like him? The girl had initially only said yes out of shock and gratefulness, as no one had ever told her that she had any admirable traits before, not even her foster mother. Eventually though, she grew to love him a lot. Despite her tsundere-like moodswings brought on by her mental problems, he still adored her and was always trying his best to be patient and make her happy. He was one of those few rare humans who are completely genuine and harmless. His presence helped her mental health improve by leaps and bounds.
      But then, thanks to family issues, he ended up having to move away. She was so terrified and so lonely. The one person she really cared about, who often was the only thing holding her together during her break-downs, was literally halfway across the world, and she was so lonely and confused. She had actually managed quite well on her own. She’d taken the opportunity to try and get her act together and become more self-functioning. She got a job, began getting her grades up, made a few friends, and began fixing her relationship with her foster mother.
      She missed her boyfriend so much, though. She constantly wanted to be with him. But, when he came back to visit her, all of her old anxieties and fears had come back tenfold. Even as happy as he made her, she spent half their time together waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. She obsessively worried that something so good couldn’t last, that she’d screw up the only good thing that had ever happened to her.
      Eventually, she’d lashed out at him when he came back to visit her. As much as she loved him, she was so scared because she couldn’t imagine a future without her anxiety or break-downs. She was scared of being happy. When he had begun suggesting that breaking up might have been in both their best interests, she hadn’t been able to take the pressure building up inside her anymore. She let loose on him and dumped him. She was so scared of being hurt, that she pushed away anyone who got close just to make sure that there was no chance at all of pain, and him snubbing her had just reinforced her fearful mentality. Only, that wasn’t how he had meant it at all.
      The boy wasn’t much better than her when it came to emotions. He was always so shy and skittish because he had always been pushed around and walked-over at his previous schools. He was totally shocked by how his classmates actually liked him and wanted to be friends. He ended up falling in love with one of the girls in his class, but thought that she would never want to have anything to do with him. She was so pretty and, despite her poor grades, very witty and silly. No one in their class particularly liked her, so he figured that he didn’t really have much to lose. To his shock, she actually agreed to go on a date with him! To his surprise, she wasn’t the perfect girl that he thought she was; she was beautiful, but didn’t really have anything together in her life at all. She was one of the first people to understand him, and being around her made him so happy. He didn’t consider her mental health struggles to be a burden. To him, it was just a natural part of who she was.
       Their supposed break up was, in reality, nothing more than a horrible misunderstanding and a poor choice of words on his part. He was so shy and didn’t have many social skills. He was very proud at how the girl had thrived without him, as he had worried about how she would handle the separation. At the same time, however, he felt very threatened. He loved her very much, but worried that the only reason that she was with him was because she was lonely and needed someone to support her. He was afraid that, now that she discovered that she was much more capable than she had previously thought, she would decide that she could do much better than him and find someone else. He also wondered if what they had was really love, or if he was just a glorified therapist. What if what she thought was love was really just reliance on, and attachment to, the one person who she felt safe around? 
      He had only meant to ask her how they were still together and why she fell in love with him in the first place, but it had came out terribly wrong, like he was being condescending about her struggles. Then, to his horror, it had turned into an offer to break-up.
     He realized his mistake when the girl burst into tears in and began screaming at him; he shouldn’t have said anything at all. He had tried to explain, but it was too late. The girl ran away.
      The ring that was now powering the monster in front of Miko was the ring that the boy had given to the girl when she experienced one of her worst panic attacks ever, just a few weeks after they became a couple. While she had been terrified and afraid that he would leave her in disgust, he had given her a pearl ring that had been his mother’s and promised that he would never abandon her, even if she tested his patience.
      Miko removed her wand sadly. “Oh, I’m so, so sorry. I’m just a kid, and I don’t know anything about love, but I do know what it is like to be stuck in your own head so deeply that it feels like you are buried alive. I know what it is like to be lonely.”
     The monster whimpered sadly, and Lii-San knew that it was nearly defeated. ‘All that thing really wanted was someone to listen. It didn’t know what to do with it’s anger and fear. It doesn’t have any fight in it left now that it’s memories have been exposed. Miko-Chan should be able to purify it now.’ The pixie crossed her arms, waiting to see if Miko would know what to do without her instructions.
     “I’m sorry, I really am.” Miko promised the monster. “If I can…that girl that created you…I’ll see if I can help her, okay? You aren’t really alone, no matter how scared you are. If you always keep the wall around your heart up, you may keep out people who want to hurt you…but the good people won’t be allowed in either.” 
      Miko didn’t know how to fix a lovers quarrel, but she knew she had to do her best. These thoughts of the girl who created this monster were too familiar to Miko for her to ignore. She really didn’t want to get involved in anyone else’s life but, now that she had had to confront her own fear and cowardice, she never wanted anyone else to feel the despair and pain that she had felt.
     “Purifying heart; Healing shower!” Miko instinctively pointed her wand in the air. A soft, golden light fell like a shower upon the bride monster. With a soft, contented sigh, the creature faded away in a burst of golden dust, leaving behind the ring that it had been born from sticking in a crack in the road.
     Miko flew to the ground and her wings dissolved. Her wand shrunk in her hand until it was once again a small poppy flower charm. She tightened her fist around it. 
     “Enemy defeated.” She announced to no one in particular.

Gerry Hines
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