Chapter 4:

I'm a Killer Now

Happy Sweet Magical Girl Life

“So, basically, I can really do anything I want with my wand?” I clarified, using my chopsticks to feed an octopus sausage to Kyuu-Chan. Bookmark here

“Theoretically, yes. But there are some things that you won’t be able to do right away. Just because your powers come from something beyond natural laws doesn’t mean that the principles of personal fitness and improvement don’t apply. You need to train with the wand and strengthen your magical affinity and capacity to be able to successfully do greater feats.” Kyuu chomped down on the food I offered him. Bookmark here

It was lunchtime at school and I had promptly ran to the garden on the school roof and hid so that Kyuu-Chan and I could have privacy to talk Magical Girl work. I was probably going to worry Nano-Chan and Aoi-Chan, but that was fine. This was important.Bookmark here

“Yeah, you’re a bit…odd.” Kyuu-Chan admitted, eyeing a tomato in my bento. “Ugh…so I’ve heard. Why is that, now?” I popped a carrot into my mouth and then feed the tomato to Kyuu-Chan. Bookmark here

Uhhh…when did he stop using his weird little verbal tick? It definitely had to be something he did to make himself seem cooler. Ugh, I knew you could talk like normal and that you were smart! Quit playing the idiot, stupid cat!!’Bookmark here

“Well, normally, all Magical Girls can do a set of generic things. Invisibility, a bit of healing, sonar, glamor, force fields, and so on. But they have a main specialty, theme, or affinity that is their most powerful magic. That guides their role in combat and their main, most powerful moves. Light, darkness, plant magic, healing or medicine, animals, love, that sort of thing. But you…you’re sort of like a swiss army knife. You can basically do some of everything. It’s not like you have exceptional magical power or anything; you’re about average for the standard Magical Girl Newb. It’s weird…I mean it can happen, but it is rare.”Bookmark here

“Really?” I asked. Though he made sense; even the Glitter Star Warriors, with their individually themed show entries for each new generation of Magical Girls, had the Girls in each group have some sort of set of specialties of their own. For instance, fairy-themed with ice, plant, fire, sun, and electricity individual themes.Bookmark here

“Yeah. It’s like…you called yourself Miracle Nana, right?” I nodded. “It’s like…your specialty is making the impossible happen and being able to become whatever you need to be to get things done. Being anything or anyone that is needed for the situation is your specialty. Not having an affinity is your affinity, in a sense.”Bookmark here

I got lost in thought. I could do anything? That was a bit of an exaggeration, I felt, but it felt…good. A bit scary because it was so undefined and vague, but exciting and reassuring because there were no limits. If I could do anything…maybe there was a chance that, not now, but someday in the future, I would be able to do something about murders like the one that had traumatized me so badly just yesterday. Someday, I’d have the skills and finesse to deal with human threats, if I worked hard. I needed to hurry up and learn everything that I could to make that day come faster.Bookmark here

“So…how about that…I don’t know what to call it…psychic resonance?” I snapped my fingers, trying to find the right word. “-that thing that I did yesterday where I could see and feel the victim’s last moments? How does that work?”Bookmark here

“Well, generally speaking, you think about what you want to happen and what you need at the moment. Then you focus your mind on the power that’s dwelling within you and try to focus it towards the person or thing you want to use your magic on. Then you just fire it off. Oh, and you need to try and visualize what you want to happen…sort of like willing it to happen. You need to have some sort of conceptual understanding of what you want and how you want it to happen. That’s about it. It’s not like it’s easy, but it’s hard to describe because it boils down to your willpower and mental fortitude. There is some variation for some stuff but…I’m sorry, Nana-Chan. There really isn’t a ton I can do to help you…you just got to learn on the job. Your powers are an extension of you, but they have a sort of conscious of their own because they are from my dimension. Our people aren’t necessarily all human-like, but we’re all sentient and have feelings and emotions. Your powers are supernatural or paranormal here on this earth for you humans, but in my dimension, the planet we live on is the equivalent of earth and magic powers like I gave to you are normal. Some people have low magical power or none at all, but that is basically seen as a disability. Your world is a total inversion of mine and it’s weird that magic and stuff is laughed at and considered childish fantasies.”Bookmark here

“Ah, that is so odd.” I commented. “I’m actually in the occult research club. I know that sounds like we’re practicing black magic or worshiping Satan, but we just like to study supernatural and paranormal occurrences across the world. It’s an interesting topic and I’ve found it strange that so many normal people have seen weird things and are genuinely scared and just want to know if they’re crazy or not and they’re infantilized and mocked. And now I’m sitting in front of a magical akuma cat from another dimension talking about how to fight monsters using magical powers from my brain. It’s just so strange!”Bookmark here

“kyaaa-kyaaaa-aaaahhhhh!’’ Kyuu-Chan let lose a shrill laugh that nearly knocked him over. “It’s so ironic, isn’t it! I don’t exist in your world and you have a few screws lose in mine! And we’re somehow sitting together sharing lunch! It’s just so strange, don’t you think, Nana-Chan?”Bookmark here

I giggled and had to hide my giant smile behind my mouth. He wasn’t wrong. For all his more grating points, Kyuu-Chan was an interesting creature. And he had brought a few extra smiles to my face in the two days we’d known each other. If anything, he gave me a bit of levity and comfort in the face of a darker reality introducing itself into my life. If I was going to have to fight monsters and deal with horrible murders, he might not be the greatest teacher, but he at least was a good support. He would keep me sane, if nothing else. Even if I could never tell anyone about being a Magical Girl, at least I wasn’t totally alone in having to slog through it. And after last night, being able to giggle with an invisible cat in the school garden while eating my mother’s special hand-made bento was, strange as it sounded, was very cathartic. Bookmark here

“Yeah, you are right. I’m pretty weird anyway, so that doesn’t bother me. But…there’s something else I’m confused about. What are those monsters I’m fighting?”Bookmark here

“Those are called Dimension X-ers. I just call them DXers. Their planet is called ‘the inverted world’ in my home. The planet X…they’re like us but not…I guess the best way of describing it is that it’s like you humans having multiple races, ethnicities, and nationalities. But the DXers…the inverted world has been sealed off for hundreds of years. No one from my home can enter it and there is an insane amount of security and magical wards because it’d basically be the end of the world if the DXers got out.”Bookmark here

“So…the DXers are locked into their world? Why? Are they criminals or something?” Bookmark here

“Well, that’s the thing. No one knows exactly. We know that they are evil and belligerent, obviously, or else we never would have locked them onto their own planet, severed all ties, and buried all knowledge of them. We don’t know how that happened, what led to it, or why our ancestors took such desperate measures. We don’t even know how their entire planet ended up being sealed off. It was clearly something bad and deadly, but it’s basically lost knowledge now. Or, rather, forbidden knowledge. I’m sure the rulers and elders have to know something about the so-called ‘Lost Incident’, or else why are they still locking everything down and preventing us from knowing anything beyond the basic ‘they’re evil and deadly! Stay away!’? “Bookmark here

He shrugged. But, long story short, I’m a member of a secret society dedicated to stopping the DX-ers that manage to escape. Think of me as being part of something like the CIA or FBI that they have in America, only the general population doesn’t know we exist because the government can’t really share that the DX-ers are finding some way to escape. We still don’t know a ton more than the general population, though. We’re kinda in-between the rulers and the general population.”Bookmark here

“So…how long have they been escaping? How are they escape? Why? How and why are they coming to earth? What’s their endgame for us? Why are they so dangerous?” I asked. Nothing here was making any sense! Everything seemed so vague and contradictory!Bookmark here

“Geez, Nana-Chan!” Kyuu-Chan whined. “You have too many questions! But…I suppose that’s only to be expected. Okay, I’m just gonna do an info-dump here. You probably won’t be able to keep up, but this is the best I can do to try and answer everything at once.” He took a deep breath.Bookmark here

“Okay, so we aren’t entirely sure when their little escapades to your dimension started. My planet is the counterpart to yours in my dimension…they’re parallel, right?” I nodded, trying my hardest to follow along. Bookmark here

“ As far as we know, the DX-ers aren’t like that. There is no known counterpart to their planet because your planet is the only one with intelligent, humanoid life here. According to what my training has told me, it was about 8-10 years ago that they discovered that the DX-ers found a way to the parallel dimension, despite not being able to get off their planet in our own dimension. However, the exact year is still hazy, and it’s likely that they figured this out long before the evidence trail started, and I’m personally 100% sure they’ve been here and messing around with you humans for decades. We’re not sure how they got here, to be honest. We simply have a portal to your world; it’s so easy and direct because we’re parallel, like the sides of a coin. But the DX-ers aren’t like that; they weren’t supposed to be able to connect to your world on their own, and we know for a fact none of them have smuggled in through our planet. Obviously, we’ve yet to find how that’s happening. We still aren’t totally sure what they are doing here and why. But…it’s pretty clear they are trying to escape their own planet. It’s locked-down, cold, barren, and generally pretty bad. It was always bad, but it’s likely become downright awful since they’ve been quarantined and had no one to turn their evil on besides each other. Our best guess is that, for whatever reasons, the DX-ers are dying out and can’t sustain their population because things have degraded so much. Their planet is becoming uninhabitable, so they are trying to come here since they can’t just move on over to our planet and stage a mutiny. Whether they are planning to move into this world, overthrow this world to make it theirs, or just mining something that they need to sustain their own home…we know for a fact they are trying to cause death, terror, and abnormalities. They’re trying to break the accepted rules of your world and creating chaos and absurdity. Like…you having powers, me being a flying, talking fantastical animal, and that fire monster…the majority of you humans think those things are nonexistent and just made-up stories, right?” I nodded.Bookmark here

“They’re trying to break that order and sanity. I don’t know why or what they are getting out of it, but otherworldly chaos is their motive. Some are like that fire monster, just hanging out or going on an unseen rampage, with no structured plan. Some will try to manipulate, harm, or kill humans in a specific way…. like brainwashing, sudden sicknesses, pointless suicides, and unnatural and unexplained deaths. There are areas like that across the world that are hotspots for those things, right? Well, soon, those places in Tokyo will have increased and inexplicable activities and escalations in the unexplained. They will move in and use those areas and legends to cover their interference. They are only in Tokyo and some other smaller areas in Japan so far, as their point of entry to this world is Tokyo. We need to figure out what’s going on, but we need to stop them from hurting you humans and kill them; they need to go because they won’t stop and that’s the only way to protect people.”Bookmark here

Suddenly, my stomach did flip-flops. Killing…killing…that was what I was doing, wasn’t it? There was no way to sugar-coat it. Even if these…things were fantasy monsters who didn’t belong here, even if they were aggressors bent on death and destruction…they were real, sentient, living beings. They had the functions and abilities of humans and the powers and bodies of fantastical beasts and animals. But, despite being weird and not of this world, they were alive. Even if their deaths weren’t what us humans would call death…the unavoidable truth was that I was would be taking lives. I looked down at my hands.Bookmark here

No…I had already taken a life, hadn’t I? Even if it had dissolved into a shower of golden particles like the heroes of legend from the Destiny: Time Order mobile game, I had killed that fire monster days ago. Without realizing it at the time, I had become a killer. I wasn’t a murderer. Unlike the person who had killed that man, the thing I killed wasn’t innocent; it was the aggressor and I was trying to stop it from creating future fire outbreaks that could kill people. Both of us had consented to combat and the consequences, including death for our actions, even if I didn’t know it at the time. But even though I was in the right, it didn’t make the sudden knowledge that I had killed for the first time feel any less crummy, and it didn’t soften the knowledge that I would be taking many more lives in the weeks and months to come. I was a killer now.Bookmark here

“Nana-Chan!” I nearly fell over in surprise. Ryo rounded the corner of a planter. Bookmark here

“R-Ryo-Kun? Oh, you jerk, you scared me!” I breathed, placing one hand on my chest and using the other to punch him in the shoulder as he sat down next to me.Bookmark here

“I found you.” He said, giving me a wide, innocent smile that made all my anger melt away. “Nanoka and Aoi said that you ditched them and I was still worried about you, so I looked everywhere for you!”Bookmark here

“Wait, didn’t you eat?” I asked. Lunch period would be over soon. He didn’t skip a meal just for my sake, did he? His stomach gurgled loudly, answering my question.Bookmark here

“Oh, uh…yeah…I kinda was so focused on worrying about you that I forgot about eating…” he put his right arm behind his head bashfully.Bookmark here

“Ryo!” I yelled and scooted close to him. “I’m glad that you care about me, but you need to take care of yourself, too! Here!” I held some taioyaki in my chopsticks up to his mouth. “You can share my lunch!” “Umm! N-no! I don’t-!” Ryo waved his arms in a flustered panic. “Eat it! You big dummy!” I demanded.Bookmark here

Embarrassed, Ryo obeyed. “Good! You need to worry more about yourself instead of focusing on everyone else.” I scolded. “Here, have some grilled chicken and vegetables, too!” I rapidly shoved food into his mouth.Bookmark here

“…This is too much!” Ryo turned red like the tomatos and pulled his knees up so he could hide his face. “Y-y-you don’t have to f-f-feed me like that, you k-know?” Bookmark here

‘Dawww! So cute!’ I thought, giggling. Ryo was too adorable, getting all flustered over something as silly as that! At least I could get away with stuff like this, us being old family friends and all that. Ryo was just too timid and cute sometimes for me to resist messing with him!Bookmark here

“A-a-a-are you…o-okay, then?” Ryo stuttered out, still hiding his face in his knees. “Yep! I just felt like being alone for a bit, that’s all! But…I wouldn’t mind being alone with you instead…” I smiled at him. “Ehhh!” He clutched his legs even tighter. “D-don’t p-phrase it like t-that!” He panicked. “He-he! I’m just teasing! You’re too much fun to mess with, Ryo-Chan!” “W-why do you always have to pick on me, though…?” He sighed.Bookmark here

“Hey, Ryo-Chan? Can I ask you something weird?” I took a deep breath and wondered if it was really okay to ask him something like this. Bookmark here

“Ummm…Do you think that you could ever kill someone? Like…not just for fun or something, but not in self-defense either. Like…I can’t describe it, but you have a good reason and are totally justified and are the one in the right. I guess that the best that I can compare it to is being a vigilante, but that’s not…it’s not…ughhh! This is so hard!” I yanked on my hair, fumbling through my words and my phrasing. Maybe I should have just let it be? I didn’t really expect much of an answer from him and this was something that I shouldn’t have asked him anyway. What sort of insight would someone as sweet as Ryo-Chan have into my situation? He wasn’t the sort of person who knew anything about violence or cruelty. His life wasn’t perfect or easy, but he didn’t know much about the darkest side of humanity. How would…what on earth could he do to help me? I was too desperate for an answer, some sort of freedom from the pain of my guilt and uncertainty. But that wasn’t something that Ryo-Chan was capable of giving me.Bookmark here

He gasped and stared at me with his mouth open wide. “N-n-n-n-nana-Chan? What are you talking about? I…I could never…I would never hurt anyone!” He looked about ready to cry. I knew he had nothing profound for me.Bookmark here

“But what if you knew for a fact that someone was…evil? Let’s say that you know that they are a serial killer and are going to keep killing and killing and there’s no way that the police will ever be able to catch or stop them. What about then? Would you kill them? Could you do it to save their next victim?”Bookmark here

“I…I don’t think I’d be able to do it, even then, but I don’t know... Maybe if I was the victim and was trying to save myself, I wouldn’t be scared. But… that wouldn’t go very well, would it? I would just get myself killed even faster, I bet, since I’m not strong or athletic at all.” He laughed awkwardly, then hugged his knees again and gave the ground an awkward smile. “But seriously…I don’t think I’d ever be able to hurt someone, much less kill them. Even someone so horrible, even for the sake of someone else…I could never do that just because…it’s my own cowardice and fear. I’m emotionally weak and if I ever had to make that choice, if I was ever faced with that side of myself, the side that was capable of hurting someone else…even if I wasn’t in the wrong, even if it wasn’t happening because of my own malice or cruelty…if I was in a situation where I saw the part of me that could hurt someone else, I’d be terrified. I would probably…just freeze up in fear. The idea that there’s a side like that buried in everyone, including me…it’s pretty scary, isn’t it?” He laughed akwardly.Bookmark here

“Hmm…You’re right. You aren’t the kind of person to put yourself in that sort of situation in the first place. Someone like you wouldn’t know what they’d do unless you were actually in the specific situation. I’m sorry I asked you something so creepy. I should have known that you wouldn’t have any answers for me. How about we just forget that I asked something so weird?”Bookmark here

Ryo cocked his head like a confused puppy and stared at me like he was trying to figure out what was wrong with me. So cute! “Are you okay, Nana-Chan? Did something happen to you? Because you’re nice, too. And brave. You’re the kind of person who would definitely fight to protect someone. I can see you hitting a serial killer over the head with a bat to save someone.” He said it so innocently, but…Bookmark here

“Uh, Ryo-Chan?” I flushed red. “I don’t think that that is as much of a compliment as you think it is. You make me sound like I’m some sort of psycho-lady. What do I look like, a mentally ill, time-looper who tries to brain my friends in paranoia or something?”Bookmark here

“Uhhh, Nana, have you been watching creepy anime again? Why do you have to always watch the most gory and disgusting stuff? It’s weird for a girl to like that kind of thing.” “Excuse me? This is coming from the boy who still sleeps with stuffed animals and wants to be a daycare teacher when he’s an adult. You don’t “act like a boy” either, Ryo.” I added air quotes to my words. “You of all people have no right to point fingers at me.”Bookmark here

If people thought that I was too spacey, loud, and in-your-face for a girl, then Ryo was too shy, sensitive, and gentle for a boy. What stupidity. I loved Ryo because he was Ryo; I didn’t really care if anyone would laugh at me or call me crazy for liking a “weak girly-boy”. People liked him now because of how kind and sweet he was, but when we were younger…people weren’t nice to him. For most of elementary school, he was bullied a lot because of his personality. It didn’t help that he was being raised by his big brother; the other kids would taunt him about his parents being dead. It was could seriously be the worst some times.Bookmark here

It wasn’t really so much that I didn’t care about social norms or anything like that. I was just used to Ryo because we grew up together; who he was as a person was just totally normal to me. I hoped that that meant that we were destined to be together. I mean, I’ve been in love with him since I was little, so it would be downright sad and stupid if we didn’t end up together, right? At least when the female lead in a magical girl anime has a thing for their childhood friend, they almost always end up together. It was kind of hit or miss if it was just the male friend who liked the lead, but it was different if the girl was the one who had the crush. I liked Ryo and, since I was a magical girl now, that meant that things would have to work out and me and Ryo would end up together. Right? RIGHT? I had to hope that something positive would come of this mess because killing monsters until the end of time didn’t appeal to me. A fairytale happy ending would be nice.Bookmark here

Especially because…being with Ryo made me feel so happy. It sounded sappy, but it was true. Even now, just talking with him was very soothing. It settled the sour, anxious pit in my stomach. Just something about being with him just made me feel safe and relaxed. Just being with him made me feel less scared about my future. My mind wasn’t racing and overthinking right now. He could make me smile and laugh in a way no one else could, except maybe Nanoka. I just…I didn’t want anything bad to happen to him. I just wanted to preserve the one little ray of light that I had right now. My friends helped but…it was more me, if that made sense. My brain put up walls to protect myself and, despite knowing that they loved me and having fun with them, it still didn’t fully sink into my consciousness. But something about Ryo could get through my high-alert defenses and calm me down. I just wanted to be with him, and I didn’t want anything to happen to him.Bookmark here

Ryo gave me a wide smile “I’m glad that you’re feeling better, Nana-Chan.” I nodded at him. “Yeah. Thanks for worrying about me so much.” “Hey, do you want to hang out after school today? My brother isn’t going to be home until late tonight and I could make dinner for you.” “S-sorry but…I have something I need to do. And the occult investigation club is meeting before that.” “Ugh…Nana, why do you have to hang out with those people? They…they’re weird and they make me get a funny feeling whenever I talk to them. There’s just something really off about all of them and I wish that you wouldn’t hang out with them.” Bookmark here

I stuck my lip out at him. “Hey, that’s mean! Sure, they’re a bit different, but they’re all nice! They aren’t bad people or anything! Just because they’re into looking at mythology, demons, ghosts…just because they are into that sort of stuff doesn’t mean that they are disturbed or evil. You shouldn’t judge them, Ryo-Chan! You just don’t like creepy stuff!” I scolded.Bookmark here

“It’s creepy…why do you think that looking into spirits and aliens is fun? Just why? Why are you so gross and creepy, Nana-Chan? You’re normally so cute, too…”Bookmark here

“Hey, you take that back! Take it back!” I reached over and put him in a headlock. Cue weird strangled sounds. “Gahh…I give! Cough! I give! Let me breath!” Ryo begged and I let him go. “He-he! It really is too easy to mess around with you Ryo!” I giggled. Bookmark here

Suddenly, the five-minute bell rang and we both jumped. “I guess it’s time to go back to class.” I packed up my lunch as Kyuu-chan fluttered around my head. He’d been with us the whole time. He had settled around my shoulders like a fluffy, invisible scarf and been quiet and respectful the whole time. It was fine by me. In class, Kyuu would just curl up on my lap and stroking him under my desk helped me focus in class.Bookmark here

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“Are you ready to go back?” Ryo stood and held out his hand to me. I looked at him and then smiled. “Yeah, let’s go.” I reached out my hand towards his.Bookmark here

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