Otomaho: Who Said an Adult Can No Longer Be a Magical Girl?!
CONTENT WARNING: The following chapter contains graphic depictions of self harm. Reader discretion is advised.
“She’s going to get herself killed!” Rose screamed, propelling himself off the swinging blade of his clone to gain even greater momentum.
“We can’t be certain of that,” Báisè responded, the jets of their suit firing at full speed.
Even at their top speeds, they were no match for Yellow’s lightning quick footsteps. That Yellow had trapped them in place with her magic only served to allow her to cross the finish line before they even left the starting line. Rose summoned two clones this time to propel him forward, attempting to double his speed.
“Can’t be certain?” Rose scoffed. “It took seven days for all three of us to beat that thing down. Seven days of it destroying planets, suns, solar systems. Every day we inched closer to death, having to forgo our plans for another year.”
“Then why did you agree to save her?” Báisè asked.
“You know why, you chose to save her as well!” he shot back in rage, his scowl quickly faded though as he recognized the truth. “I’m sorry, my anger isn’t going to fix anything.”
Báisè remained silent.
“I’m the leader, I’m supposed to be strong for my team, and I always was,” he shivered, grabbing his arms, “until that thing showed up. These last seven years, while I planned for our future with you and Yellow, I hoped and prayed every night that we would never see it again.”
“We all did,” Báise finally replied.
Rose gave a slight chuckle before asking, “I thought you said hope was illogical?”
“I did, so I think you can ascertain how terrified I was as well,” Báisè said, giving a light laugh in turn.
“So what’s your contingency plan?” Rose asked, ready to act upon it.
“How many women have you connected with through your magic?”
“I had just started a few months ago, so only 800.”
“Use your teleportation powers to bring all of them to the ship, and as many of their family members as you can as well. It has enough rations and space to sustain five thousand humans comfortably for a month. You’ll have to find a planet suitable for human life in that time, or an alien civilization willing to aid refugees.”
“That part would be difficult for me, why can’t you find it?” Rose asked.
Báisè didn’t answer, their visor's glare hiding their eyes.
“You can’t stay here alone!” Rose commanded.
“You’re the leader,” Báisè answered coolly, “you’re supposed to remain strong and be willing to make the sacrifices necessary to complete the mission. You’ll be more valuable for keeping morale up than I. Yellow, as you mentioned, is not capable of fighting that monster. Currently, I am the only one able to use Rainbow Mode, which will be necessary to distract it long enough for the others to get away. This is the most optimal plan.”
“Your sacrificial contingency plans were what got us into this mess in the first place,” Rose said.
“Only because you approved them. You have to accept the consequences of your choices, just as I have.”
Báisè and Rose continued forward in silence, spotting a clearing through the trees up ahead. They both planted their feet to the ground, skidding to a stop. Craning their heads up, they found their target standing atop a hill. The monster stared at the moon, not even turning to them as they drew their weapons, ready to fight.
“Please Aka, I know you’re in there!” A voice rang out.
So focused on the monster and its visage, they failed to notice Yellow standing right before it, her hands clasped together pleading with it. Though those cries appeared to fall on deaf ears.
“Yellow, step away from it!” Rose screamed.
“Why, so you can kill her?!” Yellow yelled back.
The monster finally noticed them both standing below the hillside. It rose to its full height, the crackling and snapping of bones echoing throughout the forest. With a single slash of its arm, it sent Yellow flying straight into the forest, and charged at them both.
“Stick with the plan!” Báisè yelled, already activating Rainbow Mode. Rose nodded solemnly in response, heading into the forest after Yellow.
Báisè unloaded the clips of both of their handguns with the monster as their target. Each bullet hit somewhere vital, whether heart, lung, eyes, or even the brain. The chunks of those organs exited out of gigantic holes left in its backside by the exit wounds. But just as quickly, the monster’s skin swirled out and grabbed all of them, pulling them back into the churning mess of goo that made up its body.
The monster was unfazed as it continued to charge at Báisè, who threw their guns to the side, and began summoning their robot companions to aid them.
The robots were mostly tiny creations, about a foot tall, but they worked together to help take down foes much larger than it. They jumped upon the monster, stretching their robotic arms around it to clamp down. As they did, they delivered electric shocks, noises, blinding lights, and various other cacophonous sensations that were amplified by Báisè magic to make them effective against such beings.
The monster finally stopped its assault, weighed down by all the mass attached to its body. It began to claw and scratch at them, trying to get them off, but they were persistent buggers. When one was knocked off, two more would hop on.
Báisè took their opportunity to close in and summoned a flame thrower. They fired it at the monster point blank. It screamed in pain, its body seeming to physically retreat from the flames despite being held in place by the robots. Báisè didn’t let up in the slightest despite its pain.
“Sorry, but I’m not taking any chances.”
Rose rushed into the forest, trying his hardest to find Yellow.
“Lover’s Rendezvous!” he yelled out. An invisible pink string fired from the tip of his sword, seeking out the one he loved above all else. Following its trail he was able to find Yellow laying atop some bushes.
“Yellow!” he cried, so grateful to find the one he loved. Picking her up, he was even more overjoyed to see her rustling from her state of unconsciousness, like Sleeping Beauty. He went in for a kiss… and received an accidental headbutt in turn.
Losing his balance and falling over, he still made sure to land such that Yellow would fall on top of him.
“Rose…” Yellow said groggily, “now’s not the time.”
“Sorry,” he grunted, as Yellow vaulted off his body, then reached down to pick him up. As Rose was lifted up, he took the chance to embrace her hands tenderly within his own.
“We have to work quickly, Báisè is trying to buy us as much time as possible,” he said, already pulling her along, only to get dragged back. Looking toward Yellow, he saw her face, crying and angry. He reached out to say something, but words failed him again that day.
“Stop!” Yellow slammed her foot down, “You and Báisè both are so concerned with keeping everyone safe, that you two can’t see our own friend hurting right in front of your faces!”
“Yellow, she’s turned again, we don’t have the resources to stop it like we did then! It will destroy the Earth! There’s nothing we can do!”
“If Aka wanted to kill me, she could have done so. Did you even think about that?” Yellow pointed her finger straight to his chin. “You’re supposed to consider all the possibilities and make an informed decision for what’s best for the team. Yet you’ve just decided she’s unsavable.”
“She’s a wild beast now, it could have just as easily made a mistake when attacking you.”
“And I say she didn’t strike to hurt me, just to remove me from the situation.”
“What makes you think that?” Rose asked.
Yellow opened her mouth to respond, only to be cut off by a rustle from the bushes.
“What’s the matter?” Báisè taunted, their gun stuck in the creature’s mouth. “You seem weaker than before!”
Báisè attempts at trash talk had improved significantly since they were a kid, and it felt like it was paying off. The monster seemed even more aggressive and stupid than before, falling for every jeer and insult Báisè threw its way.
Báisè pulled the trigger, blowing its head right off, it stumbled back, its head seeming to take longer to reform than before. Its stumbling continued, until it fell over some tripwire the robots had set-up. Falling over it, it came upon the second part of the trap: Landmines. Exploding in sequence, they hurled the monster into the sky.
Báisè didn’t let up on this opportunity, jumping into the air above it, and pulled a rocket launcher out of their chest. They focused the monster in the reticule, and when the visor gave the all clear, they fired upon it.
The rocket shot forth with an intense roar, the kickback fierce enough to send Báisè flying back. It hit the monster in its chest, sending them both flying straight into the ground, ending their joint dive with an explosion.
Chunks of the monster flew everywhere, splattering against the trees, rocks, and dirt that surrounded them. The chucks animated to life, being compelled back to their home by the force of the monster.
Báisè produced their flamethrower, ready to scorch those chunks out of existence. They could hardly believe they were winning right now, they wondered if this was the effect of an adrenaline rush in addition to Rainbow Mode. It felt like all their plans were working perfectly, they all might not even need to abandon Earth at this rate. Báisè took a step forward to finish the job, only for a feeling of lightheadedness to take over them.
‘What, it’s only been three minutes,’ Báisè thought. As a teen they felt no ill effects passing the five minute mark, even though they faced the same consequences they would now. However, having their bodies converted to magic for that long, feeling the consequences of it upon their bodies for seven years, it had made them scared subconsciously to pass the five minute mark. The point at which their body would need to remain untransformed for an appropriate period of time after they stopped, or risk becoming magic itself permanently.
Their bodies had come to fear that time limit, and it was taking effect in Báisè’s nausea right now. They felt like they had to throw up, even though they no longer had any organs with which to do so, their body just a magical construct now.
Báisè bit their lip, trying to force the sensation down, despite knowing how illogical it was. They stepped forward again, and again, faster now then the chunks that continued to slither to where the monster’s torso and head had been before Báisè blew it off. Stepping over one of the pieces, they pinned it under their shoe, ready to burn it to a crisp.
“Stop!” a voice called out. Báisè whirled around, the chunk they held slithering off as if it knew its very existence was in danger.
“Yellow, why are you back?!” Báisè yelled, losing their composure. “Didn’t Rose tell you the plan?!”
“He did, it’s a terrible one, and we’re going to scrap it right now!”
“In favor of what?!” they asked, their voice softening as they continued. “Hoping that it won’t destroy us?!”
“Why don’t you check your readings,” she said, pointing to their visor, “since you’ll believe it more than my intuition. Do you see Aka building up energy?”
“That’s only because I’ve been fighting it for so long, so it couldn’t do that!”
“Then why wasn’t she charging up when I was just sitting next to her?”
Báisè was unable to answer that.
“Can you not hear her pain?”
Báisè listened intently, recognizing the scraping of bones against bones as the creature attempted to take form. The sharp sounds sadly announcing its return. Looking at it, finally seeing it as Aka and not a monster, Báisè could now see the emotion of sadness surrounding it they had been blind to before.
Báisè fell to their knees. Their concentration lost, Rainbow Mode disappeared from their suit, leaving them still transformed, but feeling powerless nonetheless.
“We have to help her,” Yellow said, holding her hand to Báisè.
“We don’t even know if she’s in there anymore.”
“We do, though,” Yellow responded with a smile.
From the forest, Rose came forward. In his hand, an unconscious man in a torn white coat wearing broken sunglasses.
“This man,” Rose started, “he admitted to fighting Aka. And yet, he's still alive. The monster we fought before cared nothing for human life. Aka does though, she cares so much it hurts her.”
“Then we have to save her!” Báisè shouted, finally convinced.
“That’s what we’re going to do,” Yellow responded, pulling them up from the ground.
The three stood together, as Rose threw the unconscious man to one of his clones, who set him beside a tree. They looked at the monster who stumbled onto its feet as its upper body slowly reformed itself.
“The first thing we need to identify is why Aka is like this,” Báisè said, already formulating a plan. “I noticed while fighting her that she was much weaker than she was before. Last time, the source of the transformation was the Dark Lord’s power overwhelming her. Now, it seems to be something different. We were able to revert her before by fighting until she exhausted the Dark Lord’s powers, allowing Aka to regain control.”
“So why can’t we just do that again?” Rose asked. “She is weaker now, as you said.”
“You’re right that it’s weaker, but I don’t believe violence will work. The source of the transformation into this creature is different, incomplete somehow. Like it shouldn’t even exist. Like it doesn’t even want to exist.”
“What do you mean?” Yellow asked, stepping toward them as the implications sank in. Báisè did not need to answer though, as the monster’s face finally formed, and from its mouth, they could hear a raspy voice.
“K… me-me! K-Kuh… me!”
The monster’s voice sounded coarse and scratchy, like it had sandpaper lined through its windpipe. The very act of speaking causing it to feel immense pain. Its red eyes glared straight at them, a chill ran down each of their spines, the thing they had failed to notice becoming undeniable right before their very eyes.
“Kill me!” its voice finally rang clearly throughout the forest.
Aka wished to die.
Yellow was the first to recover from Aka’s words, “Aka, I don’t want to fight you! None of us do! Come back to us!”
The monster seemed unconcerned with Yellow’s words, though it did come to them, charging straight at them. They each dodged out of the way as the monster crashed into a tree, toppling it over.
“Kill the monster!” it screamed, bashing its head into another tree, chunks of skull flying from its head.
“Aka, stop!” Rose yelled, summoning a clone to stop Aka from continuing to smash her head into the trunk of the tree.
“Fight me, beat me, destroy me!” Aka yelled, held back by the flat of the clone’s blade pressed into her forehead.
“No! We don’t need to do that! If you’re angry, be angry at me. I let this happen to you as your leader.”
The monster, frustrated at Rose’s response, retreated and seeked out its next target: Báisè. It swung at them with all its might, ready for Báisè to fire back. Only for Báisè to do nothing, and for it to do nothing to them, its fists swinging straight through them.
It was only then that it realized that this wasn’t Báisè, but a projection of them by one of the robot helpers. More projections scattered throughout the forest.
“If you’re angry, take it out on me, my plan caused this to happen to you!”
The monster’s hands shot to its head as it ran away. It came back to the hill it and Yellow had been sitting atop.
The three Magical Girls followed, but it was quick to summon a dome of black flames around the hillside. They could see through the flickering fires, their friend, standing atop the hilltop, tears of scarlet dried upon their face.
“Don’t try and take the blame from me, this is my fault!” it screamed down at them.
With each word the monster spoke, its breath became more weak and haggard, its speech became more pointed and strained. Like the words it spoke were made of glass, cutting its mouth and lips open with each syllable.
"I’m sorry I wasn't strong enough then, I’m sorry I put this burden onto you. It only seemed right for a Magical Girl to kill a monster. I'll do it myself, I'll clean up my own mess.”
The claws of the monster extended, it pressed into its chest, and raked down slowly. Its skin opened up, as what was inside flowed out slowly.
*drip* *drip* *drip*
The monster looked down at the blood that fell from its chest. It reached its other hand out to capture it. The blood splattered against its hand with each drop. It brought its hand up to its face, studying the blood scattered across it.
The monster shivered, the blood flying from its fingers with each tremor through its body. It laughed up to the night sky.
“It was so easy, why didn’t I just do it myself?!” it cried, “I can feel the evil leaving my body!”
As it looked at its hand again, it was disappointed to see no blood remained. It reached its hand down to collect more. Only to see it had dried up.
The monster let out a sad howl, its hands beating against its chest. Through its beating its claws cut through its chest. The monster stopped, feeling the desired sensation trickling down its body once again. Only to despair as it closed up once again.
It digged furiously at its own chest with its claws, trying to reach it again, the same feeling it desired. As it dug and dug into itself, its body healed over and over again.
Tear, and mend, and tear, and mend, and tear, and mend, and tear, and mend.
The monster looked at its hands, covered not only in the blood from the areas it tore into itself, but its very nails and fingers bleeding from being rubbed raw. But that too began to heal, causing it to dig even more ferociously into itself.
“Aka!” Yellow screamed, but the monster could not hear her anymore, fully absorbed in its own self-mutilation.
Yellow ran forward, but both Báisè and Rose gripped her hands, stopping her in place.
“You were the one who told us not to sacrifice ourselves,” Rose said.
“Those flames could destroy you,” Báisè added.
“I’m not throwing my life away, I promise. I’m saving my friend,” Yellow answered, her suit glowing in all colors of the rainbow. Rose and Báisè stepped back, believing her, not because they knew she could, but knew she had to.
“I promise after I get back, we’ll have the best wedding ever, Rose!” Yellow shot off into the flames with her super speed. Hoping to pass through them in an instant with speeds unrivaled, but what greeted her instead was an eternity of torment.
As she passed through the flames, she saw visions of Aka dying over, and over, and over again. Killing herself, exploding herself, dying by her friends’ hands, dying alone and abandoned. These flames contained all of her negative emotions and hatred. And it was obvious now that all of it was directed at herself.
The visions continued to assault Yellow’s psyche without relent. She tried to flee, but in her mind, there was no escape. She looked at the unchanging floor beneath her feet, the scenery around her refusing to shift, and couldn’t help but wonder if she was just running in place.
The floor beneath her cracked, finally breaking the monotony. From it erupted a mountain, its peak pushing Yellow high into the sky. As she looked over its peak, she saw it was not made of rock, stone, or even the flesh of her mind through which she ran.
Rather, it was a mountain of Akas, their bodies piled beneath Yellow, broken and twisted. The one’s right beneath her feet reached up to grab her, but as they did, the ones below flung them off the mountain to their deaths. More and more Akas turned on each other, causing ripples through the mountain, threatening to topple it over. Yellow could only see one way out.
Yellow jumped into the air, and then dived into the mountain of Akas, trying to go as deep as possible, to reach the ground. They tried to grab at her, to block her path, but she refused. The pressure and heat all the Akas above her exerted threatened to melt her very soul, but she continued her dive. She saw a yellow light shimmering deep within, trapped behind the creaks of a door.
She continued her free fall as the door opened to greet her. She turned up, seeing some of the Akas reach for the door, only for the light to burn them. The Akas bursted into flames of red that slowly turned black.
Yellow turned away from the sight, greeted by the scenery of the hill, finally free from the flames of hell. She gasped as pain shot through her body, and Rainbow Mode slowly lost its color. She had survived, but she was not unscathed.
She stepped forward, her steps feeling weak and slow. Another step forward, putting her next foot in front of the other. She could hear Aka continuing to tear into herself.
“Aka!” she screamed, climbing the hill up to her. She stumbled, falling to her hands, pushing herself back, as she ran to her.
“Aka! Aka! Aka!” she screamed, like saying the name frustrated her more and more. Her suit started to crumble around her as she climbed further and further, her destination seeming to grow farther and farther. But still, she ran.
The monster with one large slash finally tore its chest fully open, its heart beating before its very eyes. It prepared to slash right at it, to end its own painful existence.
“Karin!” Roxy screamed, the last of her suit finally crumbling around her. The monster finally looked at her, and in that instant, Roxy embraced Aka.
Aka screamed and cried, “That’s not fair! You have to let me die!”
“You’ve never been one to play fair Karin,” Roxy said, looking up into her eyes, “you can’t complain when I don’t.”
“Why won’t you just give up on a failure like me?!” Aka asked.
“Because you’re not, not to us,” Roxy answered.
“I lost to him, he took control of me. If that’s not failure, then what is?”
“When you turned into a monster, I told Báisè and Rose something when they wanted to run away, do you know what it was?”
Aka shook her head.
“How can we save the world, if we can’t even save our friend.”
Aka’s body started to crack.
“That’s what failure would be, giving up on someone who clearly needs help. Are you going to make us into failures Karin?”
The cracks spread further.
“If you hate yourself, if you can’t find anything to love about yourself, if you can’t find a reason to live for yourself. Live for us, and we’ll promise to live for you too. To love you, no matter what you wish to be. This monster, Magical Aka, or just regular old Karin. You don’t need to be what others wish for you to be, just live in the way that’s most comfortable for you.”
Aka’s body shattered completely, revealing Karin within. She dived at Roxy's stomach, and wailed her loudest into her friend’s chest.
Xi’er and Calice joined them up on the hill, the fiery dome no longer in place, joining them in a group hug. Buried deep beneath her friends, she realized she had forgotten how warm human connections can be.