Mahō no Gakkō: Chromatic
Arctin and Singh were in the red, Aaron and Davis were in the blue, and Aubrey and I were in the bleachers, watching carefully. This battle would determine who we had to face if we made it to the finals.
Both teams stepped in, and the ring lit up. Arctin and Singh rushed forward, already planning their next move. This time, though, one of them— the girl— readied magenta rather than yellow.
“I didn’t know Yuna was a double-master!” Aubrey hissed excitedly.
“Yuna Arctin. She’s the girl with the dyed hair.”
Davis readied cyan again, but not to create a shield this time. A cyan pillar rose from the ground and began moving towards Arctin. She didn’t break her concentration to look up at it.
“Fire! Now!” she yelled to Singh. He let one hand drop to his side and shoved the other at Davis. Since the blue team hadn’t set up any sort of shield, and Davis was too distracted to notice, the missiles hit him square in the chest and knocked him through the fire.
Before he fell out, though, he managed to give his pillar one final push, which in turn knocked Arctin out. It was just Aaron and Singh now, and Aaron had no protection. Singh was ready to attack again, but Aaron had other ideas. With a whisper, he cast his hand forward, and Singh kneeled to the ground, clutching his head.
This gave him time to cast his own magic— a barrage of yellow missiles, right back at Singh. He couldn’t avoid them, and when they hit, he flew right out of the ring onto the padded floor.
Shit, it looks like Aaron’s gonna be tough.
Which is why your chances of winning are still low, Shiera.
I turned to Aubrey while the teams shook hands. “What was Arctin’s magic even doing?”
“Ya know, I ain’t quite sure. Seems like she was tryin’ ta stop Aaron from usin’ Whiplash, if I had ta take a guess.”
“You know how to use magenta magic, right? Could you do that if we had to face him?”
“Hard ta say. I could, but it might not work super well, ya know?”
“He could just use other magic ta knock me out and then give ya a heart attack or some shit.”
Aaron stepped back up to the machine and edited the bracket. He and Davis would be going to the finals. “Cryojen and Kyona, you’re in the red. Beta and Sumisu, you’re in the blue. Good luck.”
Aubrey and I stood up again— we hadn’t had much of a break since our last fight. I felt the blood rush to my head and groaned. I wondered if that kind of thing could knock someone out.
We stepped up to the blue side of the ring, with Aka and Marissa in front of us. I lined up everything I could remember about their first fight in my head.
Aka uses yellow magic, Marissa uses cyan. Marissa likes to push people out with her magic, Aka likes to create weapons. Their efforts are sort of disjointed, so splitting them apart wouldn’t do much good. Aubrey uses magenta magic and I use cyan. What can we do to stop them?
Are you asking me, or are you just thinking?
Just thinking. Let me concentrate.
The ring of fire lit up around us. There wasn’t any more time to think up a strategy— it seemed we would have to just do whatever we could to stay in. I closed my eyes and imagined a massive wall shooting up between the two teams.
“Shiera! What’s the plan?!” Aubrey shouted. I opened my eyes to find my magic had worked, but I knew it wouldn’t last for long.
“I– I don’t know! Just run! Hit ‘em with whatever you can!” I yelled.
Aka quickly shot a flurry of missiles through the barrier and shattered it. As its cyan sparks fell to the ground, he dashed towards Aubrey. Marissa caught my eye, and I realized this would be a man-on-man sort of fight.
I tried to create some sort of field to push Marissa out, but by the time I’d conjured anything, she’d already done the same. She boxed me in with four cyan walls, a little taller than my arms could reach to climb over.
I panicked. She’s going to shove me out! With a deep breath, I channeled all my energy into leaping up to try and climb over. I didn’t quite catch the ledge, but under my palm appeared a rung of some sort, which I grabbed. I was able to pull myself over and ease my landing.
How did I do that?
You’re learning to cast magic subconsciously, like everyone else. Good on you, but there’s still a battle to win.
Marissa was a bit stunned, but she shook her head and readied her hands. I was quicker to the punch, though— I created a pillar underneath her which shot up to the tall ceiling.
“How’s the weather up there?” I called.
Marissa flailed her arms, trying to balance. “I hate heights! Get me down!”
I pushed against the tower with my hands, and it toppled out of the ring, disintegrating. Marissa was able to catch herself with magic before she slammed on the floor, but she’d fallen out of the ring along with the tower.
I looked over to see what the situation with Aka was. Aubrey seemed to have him in some sort of dizzy state, so his missile shots were a bit off, but he was closing in. He might not notice me if I come in from behind.
It was worth a shot. I sneakily ran behind him and created a wall beside him. He shot another round at Aubrey, who wasn’t able to dodge it this time. She tumbled out of the ring, landing in the stance of a feral cat.
“Now!” she hissed. I swung my body to the right, and as Aka spun around to find me, the wall slammed into him and flung him out of the ring. We’d won a second battle.
“Take that! Wooo!” I shouted, beaming. I hopped out of the ring and helped Aubrey to her feet. “You ready for the finals?”
She grimaced. “I’m kinda worried about Aaron, not gonna lie.” Her ears were flattened out— she was worried.
“We can take on that mansplaining jackass any day.”
Aaron cleared his throat behind us. “I’m right here.”
Aka stood up and brushed his shoulders off. “Hey, watch the attitude. Aaron would hate to lose to someone cockier than himself,” he said with a smirk.
“Cryojen, get your bitchass out of the arena. That’s an order.”
“But sir, Marissa didn’t do anything, and a forced exit applies to the whole team, sir.”
“Your team is henceforth disbanded. Now get your bitchass out of the arena.”
Aka shrugged and walked away. “Worth a shot.” He closed the doors behind him on his way out.
“Alright, the final matchup is— who am I kidding, you’re both already out here. Davis, get over here, we’re starting the finals.”
Aaron and Davis met up on the blue side— Aubrey and I ran over to the red. “What’s the plan this time?” I asked.
“Imma cast a magenta shield so you can try ta get Aaron out quick. Davis shouldn’t be too hard ta take out once he’s on his own.”
“A magenta shield? I thought shields had to be cyan.”
“Nah, a shield can be any color. But it does different things dependin’ on the color. Cyan is the only one that stops anyone from enterin’ physically. Magenta protects from the effects of abilities and mental stuff, and yellow protects from any kinda magic other than abilities.”
“So you’re casting a magenta shield so we can stay safe from… whatever Aaron called his ability.”
“Whiplash, yeah. Stay on guard, though. They could run at us, and then we’d have to use magic close-up, which sucks.”
“Great. So, you cast the shield, I try to do the thing from round one?”
“That’d do it, I bet.”
After both teams had finished planning, Aaron stepped up, eager to start the fight. Davis stepped alongside him, obviously less confident.
Sakira, what are my chances now?
It’s not about chance anymore, it’s about performance. Don’t waste your energy thinking about silly things like luck when you could channel it into laying waste to your opponents.
Aubrey and I walked into the ring, and the fire lit up for the last time. Immediately, Aubrey cast the shield— it looked like a magenta waterfall of sorts, surrounding us. We could still see the other two through the shield, but their shapes were distorted, as if looking at them through a kaleidoscope.
I couldn’t tell which one was which, but I focused on my bracelets and created a large dome surrounding them. I pushed it out, hoping to end the fight in one fell swoop.
“Aubrey, cut the shield! I need to see if I got ‘em!”
Aubrey looked concerned. “Are you sure?”
Aubrey gestured her arms outward, and the waterfall stopped flowing. I looked around— I couldn’t see them. Had we won that quickly?
I ran forward to check, and I saw Davis lying on the ground outside the arena. “We got one!”
“Not Aaron! I’ll keep looking, but I don’t see him!”
Aubrey started circling the edge of the ring over to where I was, scanning the perimeter for anyone who resembled Aaron. “I thought I caught both of them, but I can’t find him,” I explained.
“That’s because of this.” Missiles shot out of nowhere and sent Aubrey up and over the fire. I looked to the source, trying to figure out what the hell had just happened.
There he was, his body slowly appearing. Some sort of invisible coating was fading, and in his hand, I could see magenta swirling. In his other hand, though, I found him readying yellow. Was he… dual-wielding magic?
“Confused? I’d imagine. After all, you’ve only just learned about magic. Surely concepts like double-mastering are too complex for a Gaian to understand,” he spat, turning to face me. We were on opposite ends of the arena, but that didn’t mean I had an advantage. Not against him.
I was getting stressed out. “So now you can turn invisible?! How is that fair?!”
“It’s what you get for underestimating this ‘mansplaining jackass’.” He smirked. “Do you feel yourself getting stressed? Do you feel your cortisol levels rising?”
“Bitch, now you are torturing me!”
He cast his yellow hand out and created a rectangular shield in front of him. “And don’t even think about trying your stupid cyan shtick again. I’ll give you a headache so bad you’ll rather die!”
I could already feel the pain rising in my chest. Somehow, he’d combined all three of his strengths into one awful scenario, and I was at the receiving end. My heart was beating faster than I’d ever felt it before, and I was barely standing.
“Are you just going to stand there and wait until I die?! Is that it?!”
“Toying with prey is much more fun than putting an end to them quickly.”
I’d had enough of his bullshit. I took a step forward, and then another. If what Aubrey had said was true, then his shield couldn’t protect him physically. And he probably wouldn’t stop me— like he said, he was just toying with me at this point.
“Sure, come on over! I’d love to see you try casting magic with your cortisol through the roof! Let’s see if it even comes out!”
I staggered through his shield. He smiled at me mockingly, like a kid about to step on a cockroach. We were just a meter apart, and he didn’t seem to be doing a thing about it. He knew I couldn’t cast with this stress, and I knew it too.
Luckily, I wasn’t planning on casting.
I bent my knees, channeling all my stress and anger into a single movement.
I charged forward and shoved him with all my might, sending him stumbling back. His foot caught the edge of the ring, tripping him as he fell through.
I took a deep breath in, and a deep breath out. In, out. He’d stopped casting, but my cortisol was still high. I turned to Aubrey to gauge her reaction. The bewildered look in her eyes told me what I had just done was nothing short of miraculous.
I looked back at Aaron, who was in complete shock lying on the floor. “Hey,” I said, gasping for air between words, “what’d you say about Gaians being stupid?”
“What the hell was that?!” he spat. “You just… shoved me! Out of the ring! That makes no sense! Why would anyone do that?!”
“You… you obviously weren’t prepared for it.”
“That’s so stupid! You didn’t even use magic or anything! You didn’t even try! You just went ‘ooh, I’m gonna push him out’ and shoved me! Do you have half a brain?!”
“Well, duh, I have half a brain! Do you? How did you not see that coming? I was, like, right in front of you! What’s the point in having muscles if you’re not gonna use them?”
“No one just pushes anyone out! That’s dumb! You’re dumb!”
“Is there a rule against it?”
“N-no, but there should be!”
“Why exactly is it stupid?”
“It’s… it’s stupid! It has no tact! There’s no concentration, or thought, or anything! You just push!”
“Maybe I thought of it beforehand and realized you wouldn’t see it coming.”
“How would you have known that?!”
“Because you Dianians only think with magic. Your first thought when it comes to a problem is ‘how can I use magic to fix this?’ Why would I try to use magic when I could use my frickin’ hands?!”
“That– you… whatever. You win, blah blah blah, congratulations. Tournament’s over.” He got up to his feet and groaned. “I can’t believe I lost to a Gaian.”
I stepped down from the ring and held out my hand. “Hey, shake it, dumbass.”
He raised an eyebrow. “At least you have good sportsmanship.” He went to grab my hand, and at the last moment, I pulled it away, giving him the finger.
“Psych! Screw you!” I laughed. “I don’t need sportsmanship. You can hate me all you want, I don’t care!” I turned around and helped Aubrey to her feet again, maintaining a smug grin.
“You really want your commander to hate you, huh?” Aaron snarled.
“Until my commander learns to take his ego down a notch, sure!” I opened the door to leave. “Have a nice day, jackass!”
I wish I’d taken a picture of the look on his face when I slammed the door.