Mahou Shoujo Kagayaku Tsu-maru: Chapter 30
Saturday morning was a time when students of all ages either slept in or left the house to have fun with their friends. For one Suzie Addison, this particular occasion was dedicated to studying. Important research was underway and the thirteen year old clad in her green, clover pattern uniform was diligently focused on it. “How much longer are you gonna watch this crock?” Sitting on the couch behind Suzie with a coffee table between them, Mihao gazed over at the screen with contempt as the latest episode of a popular Magical Girl show blinded it’s audience with colorful sparkles and feelings of warm fuzziness.
Not a word was uttered in response. Several seconds passed, until the commercial break began. In that instant, Suzie’s upper half turned to one side. Her head twisted around as best as one could naturally do, and her eyes locked onto the taller girl with pure malice. “Do Not…” This intimidating stare sent a chill down Mihao’s spine, which took a lot considering this was someone who spent her entire life giving others that same sensation. “…Do Not Insult Pre-” A knock on the door drew attention away from the tension, and with a fierce point toward the door, Suzie uttered in an exceedingly harsh manner. “You. Answer that!”
Almost immediately, the pigtailed girl reverted to cheerfully watching the show again, without a care in the world. “…When did you start getting all tsundere?” Mihao muttered as she did as complied. She opened the door and was greeted to the sight of Hitomi, who flinched visibly as Mihao struggled to wipe the look of irritation from her face. “S-Sorry sorry. I was just… never mind. What’s up?”
Mihao couldn’t help but notice how easily Hitomi shook off the fright she had just endured. It was a far cry from just earlier in the year, when being anywhere near her reduced poor Hitomi to a quivering mass of gelatin. She was holding something in her hands, and raised it to show it off. “This arrived on my doorstep today. Isn’t it beautiful?” Decked out in Gothic Lolita clothing complete with frilly headband, this two foot tall plastic doll stood dangled lifelessly in her arms. A long twisted side ponytail colored in soft brown dangled along the left side of it’s head. Its gentle, blue eyes gazed timidly in the direction in front of it, and it’s plastic lips were finely crafted into a warm, peaceful smile. “I thought you or Suzie might have sent it..”
Shrugging, Mihao examined the doll and failed to find a tag of any sort. “Beats me. Hey Suzie!” She turned toward the girl sitting in front of the television, wondering if she might of given the doll to Hitomi. Suzie’s eyes snapped in Mihao’s direction, leering angrily. “…You’ll have to excuse her. She’s having an episode. It’ll be over in ten minutes.”
Once the show ended and her friends were able to pry her away from the television, Suzie joined Mihao and Hitomi on the arranged outing of the day. “Chiyoko should be waiting for us.” Mihao explained as the trio walked along a small hill overlooking a stream. Chiyoko’s house was closer to the destination than those of her three friends, so she had the liberty of leaving later than them. Still, she arrived first, rounding the corner just in time to spot the trio approaching. “Yo!” Mihao called out, raising a an open palm with fingers pointing skyward. Her other hand was occupied with a sturdy, wooden basket, which was stocked to the brim with goodies to be enjoyed on this particular outing.
It wasn’t long before a blanket was spread across the grass and four young ladies got comfortable upon it. Three neatly arranged pairs of shoes each sat on a side of the blanket, while a pair of purple sneakers were strewn carelessly on the remaining side. “Sorry we’re late. Someone…” Mihao nudged her head against Suzie’s as she spoke, staring over at her. “Didn’t tell us that she was a Magical Girl anime addict, so we had to wait until the televised diabetes session was over.” She found it surprising that Suzie would want to watch such things, considering how she was living them herself.
A content smile adorned Chiyoko’s gentle features as she shook her head. “It’s okay. I just wish you had let me pack something. I almost feel guilty coming here empty handed and…” She gazed over at the single basket Mihao had been carrying, packed with goodies intended for all four parties.
“We didn’t even get to contribute. She stole all the joy of catering from us.” Suzie teased as she turned toward Mihao and exposed her tongue. Of course she didn’t mind. She knew that Mihao’s passion came alive in the kitchen, and when it did, it rarely failed to amaze her.
Chiyoko’s attention was cast away from the festivities and onto the fifth participant in this little picnic. The doll Hitomi brought with her was lying beside it’s new owner, facing Chiyoko and gazing straight ahead. Something about the doll unnerved her, possibly the choice of attire. Gothic Lolita fashion now held a place in Chiyoko’s hall of nightmares, with blame resting on a certain princess.
The basket was popped open and it’s contents slowly sorted out. “Strawberries. A strawberry crepe. Cupcakes…” A wide smile crept onto Suzie’s face as she glanced over at Mihao. “You’re spoiling me aren’t you?”
“The crepe is mine, the cupcakes are for Chiyoko and Hitomi gets the strawberries.” Mihao jokingly responded. She snagged one of Suzie’s pigtails and pretended to nibble on it. “And this is mine.”
“Aaaah! Stop that! Nooo!” Suzie cried out as she feigned an attempt to tug the fluffy lock of hair out from Mihao’s grasp. The two who watched these antics unfold giggled amongst themselves, pleased to see these two getting along so well despite their relationship not working out.
Mihao cracked open the packet of strawberries and removed one, watching as Suzie’s attention immediately focused on it. “Now now, don’t be so greedy. You have to share these with everyone.” She nibbled one, cooing contently in an attempt to tease the eagerly staring girl beside her. Once it was gone, she pulled out another and extended it toward Hitomi. “Your turn.”
Immediately, the tallest of the four raised hands in objection. “N-No I-” She backed away, only to watch nervously as Mihao crawled forward, still holding the strawberry.
“Come on! It’s not gonna bite. You know you want iiiit~” She teased, dangling the strawberry just inches from Hitomi’s face.
“Get that away from her!” These words entered Mihao’s ears seconds before the savory strawberry was smacked out of her hand, sent flying into the grass. All parties could only stare at Suzie in utter shock as her rarely seen anger spewed forth. It was different from the comical rage she had displayed while defending her favorite show. They could all see the hurt in her eyes as she glared at Mihao, before recoiling back. “I-I’m… sorry.” She kneeled on the blanket, staring down at the basket before her. “Hitomi-chan is… allergic.” Suzie mumbled out after much hesitation. She knew it was important to mention this, but now felt guilty for reacting so strongly about it.
Hitomi knew what this was about. She knew why her long time friend responded that way. “Suzie-chan… it’s okay. She crawled over to where Suzie was sitting and embraced her gently. “It’s okay. Don’t let that bother you any more.”
Mihao’s eyes locked onto Hitomi’s. She nodded slowly after a brief pause. It was easy enough to deduce. Chiyoko had caught the gist of it as well.
Though she nodded and attempted to cheer up, just thinking about that day made her stomach wind up in a knot. She thought back to that day, when she was only six years old. She should have listened when Hitomi refused the offer of delicious fruit. Instead the oblivious child snuck a portion of the allergy afflicting substance into a sandwich Hitomi was planning to eat. She remembered that sickening feeling, watching as her only friend was rushed to the hospital, barely able to breathe. Allergies were a foreign concept to her people, so little Suzie had no idea what was happening. She wasn’t even sure if her healing powers could do anything.
A choking whimper snared everyone’s attention. Droplets of remorse fell onto the blanket as Suzie buried herself in Hitomi’s arms. No matter how many dangerous monsters she would face, no matter how many times her friends lives were threatened, none of the emotions she would feel could top this. It was far different when you yourself was the one who nearly ended the life of the one you care for most dearly. Guilt was telling Suzie that she would feel better if Hitomi resented her for it. Yet Hitomi did no such thing. “Why?” Suzie finally spoke up. The tears flowed as she gazed up into Hitomi’s eyes. “You’ve never been angry about it. You’ve never called me on it. Even back then… You just acted like it never happened…”
Hitomi just smiled and shook her head, holding Suzie closer. “I love you… too much… to be mad about such an innocent mistake…” Hitomi began, her words choking as she tried to hold back tears, not wishing to burden her friends with this emotional display. Still, if it helped Suzie get past this hang-up, it was worth letting it out. “I know you feel guilty… but that was… a long time ago.” She cradled the smaller girl close, completely unaware that her eyes were dripping onto Suzie’s shirt. “No more… no more eating yourself up over this.”
As much as she wanted to, it was difficult to tear away the guilt that came from nearly killing someone, not matter how many years passed. It was a memory she did well to repress for all this time, but a sufficient trigger now brought it center stage, and she was having a hard time just repressing it again, much less letting go entirely. I don’t deserve you. I don’t deserve to be so easily forgiven… By someone I… Suzie vigorously shook her head, sending tears scattering about. Her entire body trembled as she gazed up into those warm, forgiving eyes. No matter how many years she lived prior to her new life as a human, moments like this made her realize just how childish she really was.
While she lay with her head buried in Hitomi’s chest, she had no idea that the one she clung to for comfort was conspiring against her. An exchange of signals was being passed between Mihao, Chyoko and herself. “Suzie…chan~?” Hitomi finally spoke up, in a gentle tone that betrayed her ominous intent. “I want to see that precious smile again.” The cheerful expression on her face masked the malice within her as she took hold of Suzie’s shoulders and nudged her onto her back.
As her direction of facing was changed to skyward, Suzie saw a couple of smiling faces loom over her, along with the smiling conspirator who started it all. As they got close, she knew what was coming, and that her fate was sealed. “Eeeeeyaaahahahaaa!!” A howl of laughter spewed forth as fluttering hands swarmed around her. Every attempted to roll, sit up or drag herself away was nullified by the vicious triple threat that had her surrounded. Squeals and giggles fluttered forth as Suzie struggled to avoid drowning beneath the sea of mischievous hands consuming her. “Ahahaahaaa~!! S-Stahahaha~!!” Three against one was too much for the little fairy turned human, who could only watch helplessly as her dearest friends ganged up on and tormented her.
“No more sadness? You’re gonna stop eating yourself up over this?” Mihao expressed what she knew Hitomi was trying to say. She delighted in seeing the pigtailed girl shriek and squirm with delightful agony, unable to do anything but laugh helplessly and plead for mercy.
Suzie let out a hysterical shriek as one of the tormenting hands found a critical point somewhere between her side and navel. Burrowing into this area proved to be too much for the girl who had, in her past, suffered injuries no child should ever have to experience. “GYAAAHAHA!! OH MY GAHAHAHAA!! ALRIGHT ALRIGHEEHEHEEE!!” She flung her head back, tears rolling down her cheeks as she kicked the blanket furiously beneath her.
A wide smile was plastered on Chiyoko’s face as she ceased attacking this particular area for just a second, then swiftly dig her fingers into that same area as well as it’s counterpart on the opposite side of her navel. This earned her a roaring holler of laughter the likes of which made her ears ring. “We found her weak spot~” Chiyoko cooed, swirling her fingers around the areas as if to mark them for later. Smiles were all around as Chiyoko played with these particular giggle pockets, while Mihao’s free hand explored the ribs and underarms, with Hitomi pulling back for fear of pushing her friend too far. “No no~ You have to promise~ Promise us~” Chiyoko chirped as she pressed her index fingers into these weak points as if they were buttons on an arcade machine.
Pigtails flung side to side as Suzie thrashed her head in a hysterical fury. “AHAHA-I PROMIIII-EHEHE! I PROMISE I PROMAHAHA!! The poor girl’s face resembled a soaked tomato as she rocked helplessly under the wrath of her dearest friends, tears dropping onto the blanket below. Finally the bombardment of playfulness came to a stop and the defeated Suzie found herself staring up at the sky, gasping for air. “Woooooowaaaaah…” She let out a huff as she pulled herself into a sitting position. “That was fun. Now what were we so upset about?” Suzie questioned, putting on a cutesy face to clue her friends in on what she was doing.
Hitomi put on a warm smile as she caught the joke Suzie was making. She wanted nothing more than to see that smile again, the smile that shone without a care in the world. She gave Mihao and Chiyoko each a quick glance before looking back at Suzie. “We were upset about you not laughing enough.” She cooed playfully, knowing what suffering she was about to bring onto her poor friend.
The moment that statement arrived, Suzie’s eyes widened as she was pulled onto her back again. “Aaaah-no-nohohowahahaaa~!!” Giggles filled the picnic blanket as three friends found themselves content with playfully punishing Suzie for bringing such sadness onto their picnic. “M-My stomahahahaaaach~!!” Suzie hollered as she flailed her arms side to side trying to sway away the offenders as best as she could under such hysterics.
“Yes. Your weakness~” Chiyoko cooed as she prodded those particular spots on either side of Suzie’s navel, earning loud, tortured shrieks from the poor girl squirming in Mihao’s unbreakable grasp.
“NO I MEHEHEHEAN TROUBBAHAHAA~!!” Mihao let go the instant this was uttered. She signaled for Chiyoko to cease her attack. The short time when she and Suzie had been forced to live each other’s lives left one major impression on her. That stomach churning sensation that arose whenever danger showed itself. She made a note to ask Suzie how her ability to detect danger worked, but for now couldn’t worry about that. Once she was helped up to her feet, she raised her arms and cheered. “Triangle formation!” Seconds passed and nothing was happening, forcing away Suzie’s cheerful smile as she looked around at her three friends. “That means you all surround me, facing outward.” Suzie grumbled as she pulled the trio into formation around her.
This formation not only allowed her to remain hidden behind a barrier of friendship, but this barrier could scout for her and spot anyone approaching. Chiyoko was facing a nearby tree since she was the shortest. Once all three of her friends gave the signal, the flashing light that foretold many a transformation arrived. A shining pink streak shot out from between the trio and darted into a nearby tree. It moved from tree to tree until enough distance was put between them that Kagayaku Tsu-maru could conspicuously emerge from a tree and take off in the direction of the city.
Ominous, eerie giggles emerged from a lone foe, who stared down a row of police officers with glowing, red eyes. This creature stood at three feet tall. It’s body was comprised of a black sheet with pink streaks. It’s high pitched giggles resembled those of a young girl, while it’s body swayed side to side. The moment it was fired upon, the creature’s body unleashed a wave of afterimages as it evaded in a manner that could be considered sidestepping if the monster hadn’t been floating. It remained facing in the same direction as its body rapidly moved from one spot to another, avoiding a hail of gunfire. It let out a giggle as it twirled around. A shower of pink blades flew toward the police blockade.
Expecting the worst, they flinched, bracing for impact. When no harm came to them for several seconds, all eyes fell onto their weapons in shock. Each pistol was cleanly sliced in half by what appeared to be long, pink flower petals. They remained lodged in the weapons as they were dropped, leaving the officers to wonder what they would do next as the creature took to the air and began unleashing these petals. The metal pole of a traffic light shot off sparks as it was sliced open, falling onto a neighboring pole like a downed tree.
With a swift gale the Magical Girl made her landing between the two opposing sides. She stood up, spun around and issued a salute to the officers. “Clear the civilians and leave this to me!” She cheered before turning and taking off again. “Come on! Let’s play!” She called out to the enemy, trying to lure it away from this crowded area. She lead it toward the park, which had been nearly empty aside from herself and her three friends. Not even ten seconds before her opponent was upon her, unleashing a wave of afterimages as it speedily cut her path off. A bright flash was all she saw as her body was sent crashing down to the ground.
“Ehehe~ Play~ Don’t run away~” The creature fluttered down, descending gently upon the ground in a shower of pink petals. A surprised wail emerged as the glittering figure plummeted to the ground. A massive gust of wind erupted at ground level as she forcefully prevented a very harsh landing. By the time she readjusted and turned to face her foe, a barrage swift pink streaks was darting toward her. Acting on instinct, the pigtailed Magical Girl put up her trademark wind barrier. The protective, gale force dome surrounded her as the incoming objects made their approach.
A horrific shriek came from the barrier as the pink blades slipped right through it. The barrier dispelled as it’s owner was thrown onto her back. Streaks of blood ran down her right cheek, left hand and forehead, the few areas not protected by her costume. Joyful giggles emerged from that which hurled these pink blades as it danced about, swaying side to side. “Ehehe~ Play~ Play~” The childish tone didn’t sound innocent at all coming from this creature. It’s tone came with an air of menacing intent, as if it knew just how cruel it was being. “Hug!” It cheered, thrusting it’s cloak to one side to reveal a long, pink cord, which was wrapped around the fallen foe and used to squeeze her as tightly as possible.
“GYAAGH!!” Tsu-maru chocked out a shriek as the binding cable constricted around her upper half. Her legs kicked furiously below, acting on pure reflex. “L-Let…” She struggled to even speak as she tensed up, preparing a powerful desperation tactic. She attempted to channel the light magic within her. “G-AAAH!” Before she could explode the power inside her petite frame, her binding lifted her off the ground and slammed her into the nearest building.
“Boom! Boom! Ehehehe~” The puppet creature cried as again and again it smashed its prey into the nearest objects. The approaching footsteps were barely heard Tsu-maru struggled just to breathe. Her body trembled as blood ran down her forehead. Her bleary vision locked on the target, fading black as her last thoughts failed to coherently emerge within her mind. She could see a person slowly approaching the monster, to certain death. “Nnn… st..” She choked out in feeble desperation. A bright purple flash was the last thing Tsu-maru saw before her head tipped down, consciousness slipping away.
The puppet’s body shook violently as purple sparks raced along it’s form. It let out a shriek and exploded into a cloud of black smoke. “Pitiful. Was she even trying?” Lurella Atelier gazed with somber dismay at the fallen Magical Girl before her. The poor thing was covered in blood, lying lifelessly on the concrete. She was breathing, though faintly. She examined the blood running along Tsu-maru’s hand and sighed. Really you could learn a thing from reality.” She had never heard of a Magical Girl who’s costume didn’t include shoes of any kind, and doubted that was safe or practical at all. She wondered how this girl could have even matched her strength, yet lost so easily to a mere puppet.
As she approached the fallen Magical Girl she came to a stop when she noticed that she wasn’t alone in the area. A broom was drifting several feet above her, manned by a young woman with short, red hair. “I really don’t deserve this.” Lurella slyly smiled up at the young witch. “To have someone constantly coming to your side… would be great if I was the lonely type.”
Amber’s solemn expression beamed down on the girl as her broom lowered. The moment she stepped off of it, Lurella was quick to offer another quip. “So you think you’re ready to fight me. That was quite a severe injury you suffered. I doubt you’ve fully recovered. I on the other hand…” She raised a frilled hand and called forth a mere sample of her power. A purple flame consumed her entire hand as she smirked calmly, letting Amber know she had, in Lurella’s opinion, little hope of winning. “Still, I question your mother’s logic.”
Amber’s eyes tensed as she took note of the remarkable power this girl displayed. It became painfully aware that she could not hope to capture this girl in her current condition. When the questioning of Melissa’s logic emerged, Amber decided to press the matter further for more information. “How so?” She often wondered about the relationship between these two, and was curious to know what Lurella thought of her long time foe.
Her hands disappeared within the frilly sleeves as she paced toward the young witch. “She spends twenty years obsessing over me, but rather than face me herself, sends you. I assumed she wanted to challenge me specifically. But it seems she’s just trying to replay our lives from the yesteryear.” By this Lurella meant that Melissa wished to pit Lurella against monsters and minions, Amber being the latter. Of course there was one obstruction in the way of that goal, and it was lying just nearby. “Not that it’s healthy for a grown woman to be so obsessed with a child of course.”
Amber’s brow narrowed, showing just a twitch of emotion. Irritation was the best word to describe what this subtle change in her expression was conveying. She didn’t take kindly to what Lurella was implying. She decided it was best to let the dark princess go for now, and focus on the foremost obstacle in her path. She paced toward the fallen fairy and raised her left palm skyward at chest level. Black energy began to course around her hand, creating an oxymoron in the sense that it was luminescent, yet pure black in color. As she made her approach, her path was cut off by none other than the foe she sought to challenge. “Killing a defenseless child? How low.” Lurella taunted with a smirk directed at Amber.
“My creation defeated her fairly. You interfered. Therefore I must finish what I started when I assigned it the task.” Amber’s words were quick and concise, leaving no margin for alternate interpretation. “Of course, part of the reason your aspirations failed was because you were so soft on her.” When Lurella failed to step aside, Amber knew she wasn’t going to accomplish anything. This girl had a reason for protecting the injured girl, and wasn’t going to explain what it was.
“Or because I had a couple of nuisances dogging me every step of the way.” She approached the young witch with a wicked smirk and pressed a hand to Amber’s stomach, earning a pained flinch as the young woman backed away. The spot where she had suffered that critical injury was still vulnerable. “Relay a message to your mother for me. I’m very curious about what she would do if I were to simply eliminate you. Would she come after me herself, instead of letting others do her dirty work for her? Ask her for me. If you would be so kind.”
Without another word, Amber seated herself upon her broom and departed. Looking back at her mother’s prey and wondering how such a vile being could have been the great symbol of hope and freedom her mother spoke of.
Tsu-maru’s eyes tensed as they slowly drew open, struggling to see past the blur of what was possibly a concussion. She saw a purple haze in the corner of her eye, which faded away once she turned to examine it closer. The aura of a departing Lurella Atelier was gone by the time she was able to sit up again. “Oh wow… what a rough night…” She muttered to herself as she rested her head in one hand, pulling away when her hand grew slippery and a great pain erupted from her forehead. She stared at her blood covered fingers for several half-aware seconds, before remembering what had happened to her.
The trademark white glow of her healing powers began to surge around her hands, which she used to clear away the injuries she had suffered. Fortunately she hadn’t expended too much magic during the fight, otherwise she would either have to avoid returning home until she regained it, or let her mom see her like this…
Seated in a luxurious chair, Melissa gazed into a small mirror. She gripped the handle tightly as Lurella’s words flowed from the glass. “Hmmm..” She watched in dismay as Amber was forced to flee, and her prey departed. “No need to say a word.” As she spoke, the red pendant around Amber’s neck began to glow. “I apologize for sending you out like this. I assumed we could simply eliminate that obstacle, but it seems they’re destined to protect each other. We may have to change our tactics…” The image on the mirror faded away as she set it down and stared into space. …Liberty Lulu… This game of hide and seek bores me. I believe it’s time to flush the mouse out of hiding…