Time for the third chapter of this tale. As you may guess from the title, this chapter (re-)introduces a character who has been doing the whole magical girl thing for a lot longer than the protagonist.
On a completely different note, I have recently finished watching Fresh Pretty Cure!, and made a start on HeartCatch PreCure!. In the future, there will be a post with my thoughts on each iteration of the franchise, and I might even get into my favourite ships.
Anyway, here’s the third chapter.
Chapter Three: A Veteran
A few hours later, Seren made her way downstairs. She had shut herself away in her room just to have some time to herself. When she saw that Symphony was still present, patiently sitting in the front room, she let out a sigh.
‘That sound coming from upstairs… that was amazing!’ Symphony said. ‘What was that?’
‘Huh…? Oh, right… that was music from those bands I mentioned earlier,’ Seren replied. ‘I would’ve continued listening to it, but I’ve come down with a sudden headache.’
‘That’s too bad… maybe we can listen to some more after you get better?’
‘Sure… for now, though, I’m grabbing a paracetamol.’
‘Something to help this headache get better.’
‘Actually, I fear that might be something to do with your powers.’
‘You mean there’s side-effects?’ Seren couldn’t bring herself to get any more worked up with the pain running through her head.
‘It manifests differently for each magical girl, but they all obtain a way to detect any unusual magic. You won’t be able to rid yourself of that headache through normal means.’
‘I’m not. The only way to feel better is to transform and confront the source of the unusual magic. Seren, you have to fight.’
‘So you’re telling me that there’s no other choice?’ Seren sighed. ‘At least this can’t get much worse…’
‘There are two sources of that ominous power, and they’re in opposite directions. Your initial transformation will only prevent the headache for a short while, but it should be enough for you to handle the situation.’
‘You know what? I don’t care… if this is the only way to deal with the situation, I’m going to resolve it as quickly as possible.’
Seren transformed once more. She still maintained her physical appearance, and her outfit was the same skirt and jacket combination as before.
‘Don’t waste any time, Seren,’ Symphony instructed her.
‘Maybe I’ll just learn to cope with the headaches… I don’t have to leave the house, do I?’
‘The pain will only grow worse. I’ve never witnessed anyone enduring it from long periods of time, so I don’t know how detrimental it will be to your health…’
‘I can’t go out there again!’
‘I imagine that there’s no television cameras present this time. If you work quickly, things will work out. I’m sure of it!’
‘Fine. But, Symphony, can you go and deal with the other source? I know you possess powers, considering you transformed from a cat into a human earlier.’
‘Right,’ Symphony agreed. ‘My mind is still a bit hazy, but I feel that a battle should help to wake me up. Seren, don’t push yourself too hard, all right?’ With those words, Symphony departed.
‘Let’s go,’ Seren muttered to herself. Having psyched herself up, she too left the house and rushed in the direction of the ominous power.
It didn’t take Seren too long to arrive at the source of the unusual magic. It was located in a field at the bottom of the hill that her house stood on, which was often frequented by people who were walking their dogs. As she drew closer to it, she had been mentally preparing to confront whatever horror was awaiting for her. Unfortunately, her expectations were defied and she froze in absolute terror when she saw what shape the power had taken.
At the centre of a huge web sat an equally gigantic spider. Several innocent bystanders had already been wrapped up in the web. Nobody else was around, probably having fled a long time ago. The spider scuttled down the web, its attention firmly focused on the sudden appearance of a mass of magical power. The gaze of it’s eight eyes settled on Seren, and it crawled towards her. For something that was so big, it moved alarmingly quick. As the spider drew closer, Seren’s fear sapped her consciousness. She collapsed to the ground.
The spider was mere inches from sinking its jaws into the prone Seren when someone rapidly descended from above, using their momentum to deliver a crushing kick to the gargantuan arachnid. The spider was smashed into the ground, leaving a small impact crater. The spider’s assailant recognised the unconscious woman and jumped down to her.
Seren regained consciousness, surprised to see Kalla standing over her. Kalla was dressed in a black dress and a white cloak. ‘Seren, are you all right?’
‘Kalla? You’re a magical girl, too?’ Seren asked.
‘Fate sure has a funny way of working things out, huh? I had no idea you possessed magic when we saw the meteorite.’
‘Kalla… s-sp-spider…’ The terrified Seren had noticed that the blow that the spider had received had not been enough to deter it, and it was gearing up to launch another attack.
‘Don’t worry, I can handle this. It’ll be over soon.’ Kalla turned to face the spider, and moved with lightning speed to be directly underneath it. She kicked straight up, launching the arachnid into the air. She fired several blasts of magic after it, which pierced through the spider. Kalla immediately followed up by leaping above the spider, and punching it back down with all the might she could muster.
As the spider fell, Kalla descended with it and unleashed a barrage of punches at the same time. By the time it hit the ground, the spider was utterly and thoroughly defeated. The spider landed on its back and its legs curled up before it almost completely ceased moving. One of its legs continued to twitch for a few moments.
The fear that had been filling Seren had gone. Instead, she was filled with awe at the spectacle she had just witnessed.
‘You seem impressed,’ Kalla said. ‘Surely you’ve seen that kind of thing before?’
Suddenly, Seren recalled what she was supposed to be doing. ‘Kalla, I need to seal the artefact.’
‘Relax, I can take care of it.’ Kalla sealed the artefact, causing the giant spider to disintegrate and scatter on the wind. ‘Whew, that was quite a workout! I’ve got quite an appetite now… Seren, do you want to go and grab something to eat with me?’
Seren gave it a couple of moments of thought. ‘That sounds good… I’ll pay, since you saved me.’
Seren and Kalla walked into town together, back to wearing their everyday clothes. They made their way to a café in order to pick up a drink and a snack each. Seren chose to have a glass of lemonade with a piece of caramel shortbread, whilst Kalla decided upon a cup of tea and a chocolate chip muffin.
Having paid for their food, the two women sat down at a table together. Having adequately recovered from the previous event, Seren was looking forward to having a relatively normal conversation.
‘So, how did you gain your powers, Seren?’ Kalla asked.
‘Oh… I was hoping we could… well…’
‘Don’t worry. I was only given these powers yesterday. They were forced upon me by a familiar named Symphony… oh! I forgot!’
‘What?!’ Kalla was slightly taken aback by Seren’s outburst.
‘There was two disturbances… I wonder if Symphony is all right.’
‘I took care of another magical artefact before coming to your rescue. That might have been the other disturbance.’
‘That’s a relief… Say, Kalla, how did you acquire your powers?’
‘It was a situation similar to yours… though it happened to me fifteen years ago, when I was nine.’
‘Symphony told me that I should have been given powers fifteen years ago…’
‘Maybe we should have been rivals, huh? Regardless, I’m what many consider an old hand at being a magical girl… though I really wish they would change the term for those of us who manage to make it to adulthood…’
‘You’ve got a point there.’
‘Anyway, when you’ve been doing this for as long as I have, you get to visit all sorts of other planets and parallel dimensions.’
‘“Planets” and “dimensions”? Pull the other one, it’s got bells on.’
‘I’m being totally serious. Sometimes I wish I could share all this information with the scientists on this planet, but I’ve been sworn to secrecy.’
‘Should you be telling me all this, then? You won’t get into trouble with the SMS?’
Kalla gave Seren a curious look. ‘You mean the Special Magic Service, right?’
‘Er, yeah… did I get something wrong?’
‘I never expected to hear that name again after all this time. It’s outdated.’
‘Really? Symphony lied to me!’
‘Not quite… it seems this familiar of yours has been out of the loop for a long time. The Special Magic Service ceased to exist around a decade ago,’ Kalla explained. ‘When I was granted powers as a magical girl, it was under their jurisdiction. Apparently there was a lot of trouble going on between them and several other organisations, leading to all sorts of inquiries and such.’
‘I’m surprised you’re aware of all that, considering you were a child at the time…’
‘Ah, I’m pretty much just repeating what I heard from higher-ranked members of the SMS. I certainly know that five years after I became a magical girl, the Interdimensional Task Force was formed – a sort of replacement for the SMS, but with far greater freedom.’
‘“Interdimensional Task Force”… my life really has become an anime…’
‘Never mind. So you worked for this force, right?’
‘Yeah. Since I was based here on Earth, nothing really changed for me. Maybe things were different for the people based in their headquarters, but I have no idea. Actually, I managed to make quite an impression on the ITF – oh, that’s what we shorten it down to, as you may guess.’
‘Considering what you did earlier, that doesn’t come as a surprise to me.’
‘They even offered me the chance to work as an officer at their HQ. However, I had too much fun travelling to different places, so I turned them down. It wasn’t long afterwards that I completely lost all contact with them.’
‘You don’t think it had to do with your refusal, do you?’
Kalla shook her head. ‘That would be far too petty of them. I did travel over to their HQ a few times, and they seemed like decent enough people.’
‘I’ll just have to take your word for it.’
‘Aye. Since incidents involving the magical artefacts continued to crop up, I took it upon myself to continue as a magical girl. I also keep trying to contact the ITF, but I’ve had no luck so far.’
‘So what do you do with the artefacts you seal?’
‘I have quite a large collection at my home… they take up a lot of space. It’s safe, though, since I check their seals everyday.’
At that moment, realisation suddenly struck Seren. ‘Here I am talking freely about being a magical girl with you, yet I never wanted these damn powers in the first place.’
‘Really? Well, I suppose you have only just started…’
‘For some reason, it doesn’t seem too bad when I’m with you. Something about your presence is…’
‘Seren! Get away from her!’ a familiar voice cried out, interrupting Seren. Symphony burst into the café, grabbed Seren by her arm and dragged her out. Kalla just sat and watched, utterly bewildered by the event.