Chapter 12:

Karin's Answer; Magical Aka's New Power

Otomaho: Who Said an Adult Can No Longer Be a Magical Girl?!

The sea of cameras focused on Aka, their combined glare turning Aka to stone.

“Apologies, Magical Aka is working as security for this event. She isn’t part of the panel,” Rose said, covering for Aka’s mistake with a light flourish.

“That hardly seems fair, she’s the most popular of you girls, there’s even a day named after her,” the reporter said while gesturing towards Aka, who was still frozen in place, “and many of our audiences have questions from her they want answered.” Murmurs increased among the reporters as they discussed how it looked like they might get to question her.

“Be that as it may, we can’t put our own audience at risk for the sake of curiosity,” Rose said, making sure to speak directly into the mic without any of his usual panache.

“Surely you could just have Yellow and Báisè protect us then?”

The reporters’ excitement increased further, and Aka’s suit worked to deafen their sounds from her ears. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as effective since they were speaking about her, making it sound like soft whispers and rumors were floating throughout the crowd, like a classroom full of gossiping students.

Aka’s suit, sensing her stress, seeked to further close down her senses, but she fought back. She couldn’t run away from this, no matter how much it hurt her. She couldn’t disappoint her team.

“You make a fair point,” Rose said, giving a small nod to Yellow and Báisè, “so we will be willing to oblige you for a single question before Aka returns to her post. I hope this is acceptable.”

Yellow and Báisè jumped off the stage, over the reporter, landing in front of Aka herself. As they walked around each side of her, they both gave their support.

“Good luck Aka, I know you can do it,” Yellow said.

“Think carefully before answering the question,” Báisè advised.

They took a back-to-back stance to maintain a full view of the crowd. Aka took that as her cue to go up, about a second later than she should have. Her movements felt slow and robotic. She wasn’t prepared in the slightest, and she knew this could truly hurt the team if she screwed it up.

Aka couldn’t help but think this was karmic punishment for her bragging about her popularity so much as a kid. Her ego would inflate upon reading these online polls and she’d boast about the one area she beat her friends in.

Yellow would congratulate her on her accomplishment, while Báisè pointed out that her popularity was because of the color red, and that boys were more likely to think of her as cool. Rose didn’t care about what boys thought of him in the slightest, and was ecstatic that he ranked a strong first in the popularity polls surveying girls (which Aka ranked dead last in).

Aka found herself staring blankly at the microphone on stage, the crowd looming before her. Her mind had wandered while her body completed its needed actions. She cursed herself for wasting that valuable time on such a vapid memory.

“Uh, hi,” she said, like someone trying their very worst to break an awkward silence after their introduction; not like someone who was supposed to answer questions for a crowd of people. Thankfully this small remark wasn’t amplified by the microphone before her, she had almost made a serious mistake on top of all the minor ones she had already committed.

This time she made sure to speak into the microphone clearly, “Hi, I’m Magical Aka, I’ll be taking this gentleman’s question before continuing my duties as security.”

It was a satisfactory introduction. It wasn’t as good as her friends, but Aka felt her confidence boosted, at the simple fact that she could get through this.

“Yes, my question is regarding the evening in which you visited a prison facility,” the reporter said, Aka froze up at this.

“What was your motivation for visiting the prison; what did you plan to do there?”

She couldn’t get through this.

“I was, uh, I,” Aka stammered, having started to answer without thinking. She activated her mind acceleration, remembering Báisè’s advice about thinking carefully.

She couldn’t answer with the truth, if she told them she was there to destroy the prison then that would definitely get them marked as criminals for life. But Aka was awful at lying beyond the little white lies she told the people she dated.

She could omit her desire to destroy the prison, but she’d still have to say some reason she went there. That reason being to get Tyler out. She knew he was a good boy, but he was still marked as a criminal. What would happen if she expressed her sympathy for him?

She didn’t want to take that risk.

As she desperately thought for some solution, her mind was distracted by the droning hum of the “I” her mouth was holding when she activated this power. In reality less than a millisecond had passed, but to her that “I” was drug out for minutes, and would continue to be drug out for hours at this rate.

‘I sound like an idiot!’ she yelled internally, ‘what am I even doing trying to think my way out of this?’

She had hurt Carol and Tyler so much by acting without thinking. Yet when it came time to fix something with care and thought, she felt entirely helpless.

Rely on them more.

Carol’s advice rang like a heavenly bell throughout her stormy mind. It was so obvious, if she couldn’t address this herself, she just needed to ask someone who could.

Her mind snapped back to her body, causing her head to perform the same action.

“I, uh, choo,” Aka said, playing it off as a sneeze, “sorry about that. Anyway, I think I need to ask Rose if I can disclose that information.”

“Good call,” Rose whispered into her ear as he took to the podium, “Aka and I were engaged in a simple training exercise. We can’t go into full details about why the venue was chosen, but I can assure you that Aka had permission to be there. Does that satisfy your rather odd question?”

The reporter gave a small laugh, “I guess it was a rather mundane thing to ask about. How about a different question then?”

“Sorry, but you only get the one, just like everyone else here,” Rose said, gesturing to everyone here.

“Do you think you can stop me?” He asked, unperturbed.

There was a malice in his voice that was all too familiar to Aka. The kind she had only seen in her fights as a Magical Girl.

The man’s body turned to a black goo that spilled upon the floor, only to reform into a monster twice his original size. From the palm of his hand, an orb-shaped device surfaced out of the black ooze that formed his entire body.

Yellow and Báisè ran to opposite sides of the crowd, shouting out in unison, “Light Sunshine Barrier!”

A blinding white circle shined on the floor, with those two on opposite ends of it. A transparent dome extended up from its circumference, reaching to the ceiling.

At this time, Rose made his move. He dashed straight at the monster, his rapier poised to pierce it straight through. The monster only grinned though, as a pulse of dark energy was released from the orb within its grasp. As the wave expanded out, several dozen minions appeared within the ripples of energy it expulsed.

The minions dived straight at Rose, but he summoned several clones to dispatch each of them. With that, he lunged his whole body forth, his rapier seeming to extend beyond his reach out into infinity. He ran the monster straight through in a flash, causing a pink heart to explode at the tip of the sword behind it. As the pink energy cloud dispersed, Aka and Rose were both shocked to see that a minion was the only thing pierced on the end of his blade.

A laugh echoed throughout the room, setting both Rose and Aka on edge. Aka’s fist lit up in flames, ready to strike back at whoever hit her, while Rose summoned a clone to cover her backside.

“Aka, clear away the minions from the shield!” Rose commanded, “Yellow and Báisè are stuck maintaining it while those minions have it surrounded.”

Aka dashed forth towards the shield, giving a hard punch at it. A jet of flames rocketed forth from her fist, sliding up and around half the surface of the dome, roasting any minions that came within its path.

However, the cleared half of the dome was quickly swarmed by another wave of minions that came to sit upon it, clobbering their fists uselessly into it. Aka looked back towards Rose for direction, only to sense something amiss.

“Look out behind you!” Aka screamed at Rose.

Rose pivoted on his feet, his rapier transforming into a broadsword to give a better defensive edge. Behind him, in place of his clone, was now the monster, who struck his fist down at him with all its fury.

Rose’s sword caught the monster’s claws against his blade, and held firm in his position. Unfortunately the same could not be said for his sword, which cracked along its edge, before shattering into pieces.

Rose flew back several feet from the exchange. Aka ran to capture him, but he was quick to recover on his own as he tumbled in mid-air and grinded his sword into the ground to stop his path backwards.

“Stay back!” he commanded, holding an open hand out toward Aka, “He’s as strong as the Dark Emperors.”

“That doesn’t sound too impressive, we’ve both beaten their ilk before.”

“Just focus on clearing the shield,” Rose said, ignoring her words, “Rainbow Mode Overdrive!”

Rose’s suit glowed all colors of the rainbow as his magic reformed his broken sword back into a rapier, ready to lunge at the beast once again. Aka took this as her sign to leave, and headed straight to the shield to do as he commanded.

“I see through your tricks this time!” Rose boasted, “I’ll be sure to end it in one strike.”

The monster only laughed, more pulses came from his device. From those energy rings, hundreds of minions formed, making a sea of darkness out of their bodies as they rippled throughout the room.

Rose’s body drove forth through that crowd, parting the sea of minions with his sword. As he came upon the monster, he cried out, “One Thousand Soldiers of Love!”

Clones of Rose appeared all throughout the room, their swords running the minions through in a single strike each. With nothing left but the monster and Rose, the strike aimed straight for his neck seemed poised to put an end to this conflict.

Only for Rose’s sword to stop mere inches from its destination, or rather, mere inches from what had replaced its target: Aka, who stumbled back from Rose’s sword.

“So your magic to switch places will even work on flesh and blood Magical Girls?” Rose asked, turning to where Aka had once been.

“Only those weaker than me,” it laughed, “though I guess such a trick will no longer work now. Time for Plan B.”

Its body once again melted into a puddle of ooze, and seemed to swell in size. Expanding itself to crash over the shield like a tidal wave. From the swamp of darkish-purple goo that covered the barrier, a slight bump formed, defining itself into a more humanoid shape.

“Strike me down now if you dare, but be careful, if your sword pierces through the barrier as well, my toxic insides will spill into the crowd.”

“Dammit!” Rose cursed. Rose rarely cursed, and Aka was scared to hear it.

“My fire won’t hurt that shield at all!” Aka ran forth again, preparing another jet of flames to purify its poisonous body with her flames.

Another pulse of dark energy came forth, and hundreds of minions appeared to cover its body. Her flames roasted them alive, but the monster underneath them was no worse for wear due to its shield of minions taking the heat for it.

“Struggle uselessly all you like,” the monster heckled, “I’m sure Rose is nearing his limit soon.”

“What are you talking about?” Aka asked, turning to see Rose; the rainbow colors of his suit slowly fading.

“I’m sure he never told you, but he only has a limit of five minutes before side effects start to kick in, isn’t that right?”

“How do you know about that?!” Rose demanded, his suit changing back to its normal pink color as he fell to one knee.

The monster answered only with a laugh.

“Rose-” Aska started, only to be cut off as a tendril of ooze struck her in the back like a whip. Its tip struck right where her heart would be, tearing straight through it. It left a long lash on her back, but the true damage to Aka was what it revealed: The black scar on her back, a place that seemed to be as dark as it was dead.

Electricity ran through her body as it was exposed to cutting wind surrounding her. She felt herself huddle up instinctively, memories rushing through her. Their assault on the Dark Lord’s base, their separation, her final fight with the Emperor.

She didn’t want to remember this, but the memories flooded her thoughts anyway. Her fingernails dug into her palms, trying to distract her mind from the memories, but it failed to slow them in the slightest.

She remembered the Dark Lord’s hand penetrating her back, holding her heart in his hand before her very face. It all felt so wrong, her fists pounded against the ground in weakness.

Rose screamed behind her, knocking her out of her downward spiral, but she still couldn’t bring herself to look back. She could hear his labored breath, the tendrils of ooze holding him up by his neck; choking the life out of him.

A darkness creeped into her eyes, she felt like she might pass out. She gritted her teeth, and pulled her hand far back behind in a balled fist. She did it again, and again, and again, like she was trying to start a lawnmower that refused to turn on.

She felt something flood up within her useless body with each tug of the invisible string. It continued, to breach her insides, to fill every part of her, but she kept pulling.

Her arm started to twist with each pull, soon completing entire revolutions like a drill as she pulled. The very bones inside of her arm twisted and broke over themselves to accommodate this motion. Her healing mending her arm back to normal by the time she was ready to pull it back again.

Finally, with a final crackle of bones, she felt whatever had flooded her insides ignite. It was a black fire that filled her entire being, one that selfishly sucked the very heat from her insides into itself, not sharing its warmth with her in the slightest.

She slowly exhaled the breath she’d been holding this entire time. She was used to steam exiting her mouth as her insides fired up, but what left her was a cold and chilly fog. From her back, her thruster expanded outwards and mutated into an extended turbine. It whirred and hissed to life, but fire did not come out to propel her forward. Rather, it was sucking in something behind her.

Aka turned her head back, seeing a trail of dark particles behind her being sucked straight into it. She followed it to see the monster behind her, slowly shrinking, the tendrils wrapped around Rose’s neck loosening their grip as they lost their form.

The monster groaned and shuddered, its entire mass being sucked away from the shield. It used its device to summon more minions, but those were sucked up as soon as they spawned into existence as well.

“I guess it’s time for me to take my leave,” the monster said. It threw its device at the ground, causing an explosion of dark energy, and all of it was sucked up in an instant by Aka’s turbine.

Finally, with nothing left for it to consume, Aka felt something again ignite. Upon her hands rested cold black flames.

“Aka, are you alright?” Rose asked, running up to her.

“Stay back!” Aka screamed, flinging her arm back. An arc of black following the path of her hand.

Rose stopped in his tracks, not proceeding a single step further.

“I- I need some time alone!” Aka ran off, not sure where to go, other than somewhere far away from here.