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Dec 11, 2019 9:15 AM
magical girl Sasuke's adventures in PMMM
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This sector's been an intellectually engaging challenge. The initial target this unit was assigned to proved to be low capacity, but skilled at maximizing the small potential she did have, ultimately generating an above-average energy spike with her wish. And the wish she did make puts the Incubators' pieces in a good place - something that sometimes doesn't happen, with those inclined to optimization.

The girl, Magical 90238-NISRV, known locally as 'Cecilia Uccelo,' has also had a productive emotional arc, and has proven valuable in keeping local witch populations at optimal levels. 

Potential 90304-NISRV, known locally as 'Sue Uccelo,' has recently reached initial - and, according to calculations, peak - onset of actionable potential. This unit has long experience creating emotional arcs in this particular harvest species, and believes that 90304-NISRV's potential can be similarly maximized.

Of course, doing so remains a challenge, which is why one of this unit's 'Kyubey' bodies is currently approaching 'Cecilia Uccelo.'

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"Hey Kyubey, what's up?" Cecilia asks when she spots the small ball of fluff. She's never really been able to decide if Kyubey looks more like a rabbit or a cat...

She's sitting in a tree in a park, right now, her back to the trunk, resting from a witch-fight. She got a pretty good grief-seed off of it.

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'You know you can speak to me like this, Cecilia,' Kyubey not-quite-scolds, in a repetition of their customary greeting. (This unit has a theory that repetitive greetings like this serve as a low-level identity and freedom of action verification method among non-telepathic social species. Regardless of purpose, though, engaging in 'teasing' and 'in-joke' rituals generate feelings of fondness in the harvest species, and put them at ease in interpersonal interaction.)

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She smiles a little. "You know me. I like the sound of my own voice." Except for how she completely doesn't. Still, it makes her feel a bit less lonely, talking out loud... "Anything going on?"

(Kyubey's right, telepathic contact is more secure... And Cecilia needs to grow up. Needs to stop being so emotional, and get some control over herself so she stops wasting magic on tears.)

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'Are you holding up okay, with your current work load?'

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'Yeah, pretty much. School's still easy. I'll graduate high school soon, and then I'll have more time.' Her father will be disappointed in her for not going to college at thirteen after graduating at twelve, but, well, she suspects her mother will have the 'let Cecilia be a child' fight for her. And it's not like Cecilia isn't used to disappointing people. 'Witches have been getting a bit stronger, but I can handle it.'

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'...There's been a trend, in this area. Stronger witches. More witch victims.' Because this unit maneuvered to have more unstable local Potentials offered wishes and more extraneous grief seeds moved from other sectors and hatched here. 'It's enough for one girl for now, but at this rate your territory won't be sustainable forever.'

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' - That's not good. But aren't you always saying overlapping magical girls always fight? Should I just shrink my territory, try to get along with - guess a new neighbor?' She's been here five years, which means she's the most senior magical girl in the county if not the state (which is an unnerving thought), so all of her current relationships are extremely stable. A new neighbor - a new magical girl to get used to - sounds unpleasant, but she's not willing to let her people get eaten by witches...

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'Magical girls without prior relationships, at least, which is the usual case. It's rare for potential to cluster. But there's a potential you already have a positive relationship with, who I think would make a good partner.'

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That gives her pause. She doesn't know many other girls - her social circle's pretty much her cousins and her little sister. Maybe cousin Elizabeth? Elizabeth's her age, which is a normal wishing age, and lives next door so Cecilia sees her a lot... (And kind of has a crush she's not telling anyone about.)

'Who?' she asks, because Kyubey is terrible at responding to silent questions.

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'Your sister, Sue Uccelo.'

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' - She's seven!'

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'So were you, when you wished, and you've done well. I think she's ready, and she'd be more willing to listen to you than most.'

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'...I guess...' Except Cecilia doesn't think she wants this life for Sue - except what if she's holding her sister back, restraining her instead of setting the example for her to rise to, test herself against - except Sue might die - except even potentials aren't always immune to the Witch's Kiss and Sue deserves a fighting chance -

Her soul gem dims a little. Why is she so emotional, she needs to consider this calmly, without reference to her stupid dreams she always falls short of -

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'I know you want to protect her, Cecilia... But is a cage and clipped wings really protection?'

Appropriately timed metaphors increase efficiency of emotional arcs by 247 percent.

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' - I. I don't know.' She hugs herself, then scolds herself for being so silly and lets go.

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'You should think about it. In the meantime, I can collect your grief seeds.'

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'Yeah.'

She hands over the overloaded ones, then, distracted, keeps going when Kyubey paws at her leg. She says goodbye to him, barely hearing herself, and starts walking home.

All she's doing is holding her sister back, isn't she? Even the example she's set has only caused her father to ignore her sister. And Cecilia's been too busy to help Sue with her homework, or play with her, and - and Sue doesn't really have friends, Cecilia's tried pushing her away from her and Elizabeth's adventures so her little sister will go find someone her age to play with except all she's managed is hurting Sue -

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Her parents don't interrupt her just going straight to her room.

It occurs to her she's low, her magic's dipped farther than she usually allows it.

She realizes she gave Kyubey all the grief seeds she'd been carrying. Stupid, silly girl...

But she has the stash in her money box, under her carefully hoarded allowance -

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It's not there.

Her stash isn't there.

She tears through her room, can't find it - why is she so useless, it doesn't even occur to her until she's upended everything to use her despair-sense, but she can't feel seeds, just the suffocating despair of her whole neighborhood, a spot of sorrow and worry in her sister's room that Cecilia must have caused - there's no witches small enough for her to fight low like this -

'Kyubey!' she screams over the telepathic channel. 'I'm out of grief seeds - '

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No answer comes.

Cecilia throws open her window, then grabs at her soul gem - it's always been odd, black metal and shimmering red liquid more like a grief seed than anything belonging to a magical girl -

The glow is a dull, angry red like drying blood.

She can't become a witch, she can't, her family's right here and Cecilia would never hurt them - she needs to find something to break her soul gem with before she tips over the edge -

Dropping her dresser on it doesn't work. Slamming her conjured shield on it, shooting it with a summoned gun - for fuck's sake she's seen soul gems destroyed like this before, don't tell her she can't destroy her own -

The gun shot must have alarmed her parents, because there's footsteps thundering up the stairs, and Cecilia can't even do this right -

She screams.

And stops being Cecilia.

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Sue first notices something is wrong when she spots her sister running into her room, alone and upset. Sue doesn't know how to comfort her, though, and their parents are letting her go -

Her second clue is the gunshot.

Her third is the scream.

And then reality stops making sense very, very quickly. Her room dissolves into jagged, blood-red spikes, angles weird and dizzying. Sue flinches.

She jumps to her feet, runs to the door - which still exists, there's just spikes in the way, but she can dodge around or crawl under them - and throws it open, intending to run to Cecilia's room -

Her parents are on the landing. They're moving strangely, a distant look in their eyes, fighting each other.

Sue holds her hands over her mouth as her mother throws her father down the stairs and then turns to her.

Sue slams her door shut.

There's noises, in the rest of the house, distant screams and chains rattling.

Sue puts her back to the door, and starts hyperventilating.

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There's a creature in front of her. Pure white, jarringly contrasting against the blackish red of the room. His eyes, though, gleam a bright red that echoes the blood outside.

'Hello,' he says to her. 'You can save them, if you make a contract with me and become a magical girl.'

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"What - what are you, what's going on - "

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'I'm Kyubey. I grant girls wishes, so they can become magical girls and fight witches. A witch attacked your house. It's controlling your parents.'

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"What's a witch? Where's Cecilia?" Why is any of this relevant -

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