Chapter 1:

Fateful Encounter Under a New Moon: A Magical Duo is Formed

Mahou Shoujo Marina: I’ll Do Anything for J̵u̵s̵t̵i̵c̵e̵ Attention!

Seated on the roof of a skyscraper, Marina allowed her legs to dangle over the edge as she lazily surveyed the city for any sign of evil. Even at this late hour, soft blue and yellow light leaked from windows and streetlamps, the halation enveloping the city, making it feel safe. Surely, she thought, there was no need for a magical girl to keep watch over such a peaceful place.

As if the universe were out to prove her wrong, a shrill scream pierced the late autumn night. Marina turned her head to look in its direction. A woman was sprawled on the sidewalk, and a man was fleeing as quickly as he could, clutching her purse in his arms.

Marina rolled her eyes. “Another purse snatcher? What are these guys even after? In case they haven’t noticed, we live in a cashless society now. There’s nothing in that bag except makeup and toiletries.”

“It might have a smartphone, pyon!” The squeaky objection came from her familiar/mascot, Ondine, a white rabbit that was somehow able to fly with two tiny wings on its back.

“Locked, no doubt. At best, he’ll be able to fence it for parts. Not worth the risk, especially in this part of town.”

“What if it has sentimental value? You really should stop him before he gets away.”

“No need. Someone else will handle it. See?”

From the neighboring skyscraper, a magical girl clad in an emerald green ensemble dropped to the ground.

“Stop right there!” Marina and Ondine could just barely hear her shout. “Criminals who prey on the innocent will receive no mercy from Magical Fencer Petal ☆ Usami!”

Marina couldn’t help but chuckle. The thief just stood there, frozen in exaggerated shock for a good five seconds, as the girl delivered her line. It was only when she pulled a two meter long squeaky hammer from behind her back that he realized he needed to actually do something, but by then, it was too late. With one powerful swing, Usami slammed him into the side of the building, knocking him unconscious.

“Another victory for justice,” she declared, holding one hand aloft in a victory sign. No one was paying attention to her, however, except for Ondine and the victim. Magical girl nabbed a purse snatcher? Everyone’s seen it a million times.

Marina’s attention had turned to a more pressing matter. A gust of wind had rushed past her, causing her hair to sway and her skirt to flutter. Its chill raised goosebumps on her exposed legs and arms. “How come magic can’t keep me warm? It’s ridiculous. We’re out here patrolling on cold nights in miniskirts and sleeveless tops. You think someone would have invented a spell to deal with the cold.”

“You’re supposed to stay warm by moving around, pyon. Get out there and start fighting evil!”

“Evil?” Another chuckle, more scornful than the last, escaped Marina’s throat. “What evil? I’ve done nothing but harass loitering teens and drunk office workers. What’s next, are you going to have me write up jaywalkers?”

“I know what this is really about, pyon. You’re still upset about the other day.”

“You mean when you forced me to ditch my own sweet sixteen to rescue an ungrateful cat stuck in a tree? Yeah, I’m upset about that, but that’s not the half of it. I thought being a magical girl would be exciting, rewarding. I’d fight evil monsters and save the world from doom, but in reality, it’s just boring and tedious.”

“Look kid, it’s a job.” Despite Ondine’s high-pitched voice, Marina could clearly hear fatigue in the statement. “Pay sucks, so you gotta find some other motivation. Why do you think so many teens want to become magical girls?”

“Because we’re dumb and easily exploited for free labor?”

“Well yeah, but what do teenage girls want more than anything else?”


“Get your head out of the gutter! I meant attention.”

Marina swung her fist down onto the floating rabbit’s skull. “And I was going to say ‘designer clothes.’ You’re the one with her head in the gutter.”

Before Ondine could respond, Magical Fencer Petal ☆ Usami rose into the air in front of them. The quarreling duo froze, embarrassed that someone had observed their personal hijinks. Ondine shrunk back in shame, hiding behind Marina. Usami, however, seemingly oblivious, took a seat next to them.

“Hey, thanks for letting me have that one.” Usami was doing her best to sound casual, but as she extended a hand towards Marina, she was shaking, and not from the cold. “I’m Usami, by the way.”

Marina smirked and left Usami hanging. “I know who you are.”

“Really?” Usami’s eyes sparkled, and the excitement in her voice was palpable. “No one’s ever said that to me.”

“Yeah, well, I heard you shout your name just a minute ago.” Marina swore she could see Usami’s twintails droop in disappointment. She allowed Usami to drown in self-pity for a moment, then tossed her a lifeline. “And, you know, you’ve been doing this for years now. It’d be strange if I hadn’t heard of you. You’re the hardest-working magical girl in the city.” She reached out and shook Usami’s hand. “I’m Marina.”

The Marina?!” Usami pumped Marina’s arm much too hard in her enthusiasm. “They talk about you all the time on social media. Well, they used to. Is it OK to admit I was jealous? No one ever posts anything about me.”

“Hold on, people are talking about me on the net?”

“That video of you messing up a graffiti removal spell and scouring all paint in a two-block radius was trending for a bit.”

“Ugh, I reversed the spell and apologized. It was my first day on the job. Everyone messes up on the first day.”

“No, you’ve got it all wrong. I wish I could cast spells that powerful, and everyone found it charming. Look, see?” Pulling a smartphone from the thin air behind her, Usami brought up the original post—which she had favorited—scrolled down to the comments, and handed it to Marina.

I’d let her strip my paint? What the heck is that supposed to mean?” Far from being angry at the awkward, overly-sexual comment, Marina laughed.

“I didn’t mean that one,” Usumi tried to grab the phone back, but Marina held the phone high above her head, out of Usami’s reach. “You can’t let the bad comments get to you.”

“It’s fine. I’m not bothered, and I want to see them. I had no idea.” Grinning, Marina spent a few seconds scrolling through the comments. Ondine, curious, hopped up onto her shoulder to see for herself. “Oh hey there, Ondine. Maybe you were right. This is… nice. I didn’t know people cared.”

“They don’t care about you, pyon,” Ondine warned. “They just want something to entertain them for a minute.”

“No duh.” She handed the phone back to Usami. “Thanks for that.”

Usami reached behind her, and the phone disappeared into thin air. “You’re welcome! Um, if… If it’s OK with you, I… That is… I kinda overheard what you were talking about earlier. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but I couldn’t help it, and I agree. These outfits are ridiculous. We should have different uniforms for every season, just like in school. It’s not just the cold. I’m tired of all those dirty guys ogling my legs. So I was thinking that, um… Well, maybe we could…” Her words grew quieter until she was mumbling to herself. There was obviously something she wanted to ask, but she was too nervous.

“Relax.” Marina put a friendly hand on her shoulder, causing Usami to jump in surprise. She turned away, trying to hide her face, which was starting to turn red. “I’m not mad about the eavesdropping, and I agree with you. Not that I can blame those guys. You’ve got great legs.”

She only intended to tease Usami a little, but when Usami turned back towards her and asked, “Really?” it was Marina’s turn to blush. Up close, Usami’s face was really cute. She knew that it was probably just disguise magic. Given the way Usami was acting, she obviously wasn’t used to talking with people. She was probably a pimply-faced nerd in real life, but that pimply-faced nerd had nevertheless made her heart skip a beat.

“Really. Not that it excuses their behavior. Now, you were going to ask something?”

Usami immediately clammed back up, but then, taking a deep breath, she looked Marina in the eyes and asked, “Do you want to team up? Together, we could do more than catch purse snatchers.”

“I’m listening.”

“Well, I’ve got a lead on the CEO of a certain large company. Embezzlement, self dealing, tax evasion, a whole list of white collar crimes.”

Hearing this, Ondine flew between the two magical girls. “Hold on a minute, pyon. You’d need a warrant to go after something like that. Best leave those jobs to the police.”

Grabbing Odine by the scruff of her neck, Marina pulled her back so she could look Usami in the eyes. “We’re already doing the work the police should be doing, but why is this a job for magical girls?”

“Because the police can’t touch him. It’s not just bribery: He’s got his own mahou shoujo bodyguard.”

“You want to fight another magical girl?” Fear seized Marina’s heart at the prospect. Magic was unpredictable. Who knew what would happen in a fight between magical girls? But then again, it wasn’t like there were any other strong villains to fight. What was the point of having these powers if you couldn’t go all out? “Is she strong?”

“Stronger than me, but not you… Probably.”

It was a crazy idea, but it was also exciting, and that’s what Marina was missing: excitement.

“I’m in.”

The next evening, the CEO of Strategic Globotechnics stepped out of the office and walked towards the limousine awaiting him. He only made it halfway to the car before Usami and Marina confronted him.

“Stop right there, Mr. Blackburn.” Usami pointed towards him in a large, sweeping gesture. “Your days of corporate malfeasance are over. Prepare to face justice at the hands of Magical Fencer Petal ☆ Usami and Mahou Shoujo Marina.”

“Hold up,” Marina interjected. “Don’t call me a mahou shoujo.”

“It just means magical girl.”

“I know what it means, but it makes me sound like a weeb. Just call me Marina.”

As the two squabbled, the limousine door opened and a magical girl stepped out. She was blonde, with long spiraling drilltails, and dressed to the nines in a sharp black dress, which matched the CEO’s business suit.

“Father, it appears we have a couple trouble makers on our hands. May I?” When the CEO nodded, she turned towards the magical girls and thrust her arm in their direction, fingers splayed. “Peasants, kneel before me and beg for forgiveness, or you will face the wrath of Magical Princess—Urk!”

While she was monologuing, Marina summoned a whip to her hand and flicked it outwards, wrapping it around the girl’s neck. She then yanked hard, pulling the girl off her feet, and causing her to faceplant on the sidewalk. Usami and the CEO recoiled in shock, but Marina didn’t waste any time, running forward and kicking the girl in the side.

It’s not all about power. The first to lose heart will lose the battle. That was the only advice Ondine had given her on fighting other magical girls. Since her opponent was obviously born with a silver spoon in her mouth, Marina hoped that a few hits would be all it took for her to crumple.

Unfortunately for her, the girl had grit. After the second kick, Marina’s whip heated up, and a moment later, it exploded into a shower of golden coins, temporarily blinding Marina and forcing her to step back.

“You’re crazy,” the blonde girl gasped. Marina wasn’t going to fall into the trap of being drawn into a conversation, giving the girl time to respond. Without a weapon in hand, she ran towards the girl, but smacked headfirst into a magical shield, a semitransparent dome the girl had erected around herself and her father.

As Marina staggered backwards, Usami jumped forwards, bringing her hammer down on the shield. It impacted with a solid thud, causing the magical girl on the inside to scoff at the weakness of Usami’s attack.

“Give me that.” Marina grabbed the hammer from Usami’s hands and lifted it high above her head. The light from the setting sun reflected off the top of the hammer for a brief moment before a burst of magical jetfire erupted from its back and it slammed into the shield, shattering it. The enemy magical girl barely had time to push her father out of the way and fell once more to the ground to avoid the strike.

Pressing her advantage, Marina swung the hammer into her like a golf club, launching the girl high into the air. Dropping the hammer, she took flight, quickly catching up to the girl, and with a somersault, sent her back to the ground with a powerful heel kick. The magical girl bounced when she hit the pavement, and for a moment, Marina feared she had gone too far. Her hesitation gave the girl enough time to get to her feet and draw out a magical scepter from thin air.

The blast of pure magical energy was too large for Marina to dodge. It swirled chaotically, its tendrils lashing at Marina as she shielded herself with her arms. They stung, but Marina’s magic was stronger, and it absorbed the worst of the attack. Plunging deliberately from the sky, Marina grabbed the shocked magical girl’s staff. It burst into flame, forcing the girl to drop it, and the two squared off, bare-handed.

By this point, the commotion had attracted the attention of those around them. In every direction, people pressed up against the windows of the surrounding skyscrapers to watch the fight. On the ground, the only people looking at their smartphones were recording it. Goosebumps once again broke out across her body, but this time, they were not from the cold, but from the heat of all the gazes upon her.

She had never been the center of attention like that before, and she found that Ondine was right: The attention did feel good. Sure, some of the onlookers were skeeving at her, but most of them were simply captivated by her display of magical prowess. They were captivated by her. With her opponent breathing heavily and unsteady on her legs, Marina decided to give them a show.

A left jab to the gut, followed by a step forward and a shake-shake of her hips. A right hook to the girl’s face, blocked by an arm, but followed up by a small magical explosion that sent the girl to the ground one last time. Grabbing the magical girl’s hair with her left hand, Marina curled her right into a fist. The girl tried to form a magical defense, but she had used up too much mana in her last attack. Instead, she felt her magic being ripped from her, forming into an incorporeal, glowing orb around Marina’s fist, so bright that everything else looked dark in comparison. The last thing she remembered seeing before waking up in a hospital was Marina’s fist approaching her face.

For the first time—but not the last—Marina brought a magical girl to the brink of death. She didn’t do it for justice, or even in the name of the law. She did it for excitement. She did it because it felt good. She did it for herself.

She did it for clout.

Lucky Lane