Don’t forget that I’m always here with you.
Always, somewhere, someone is fighting for you.
As long as you remember me, you are not alone.
Neoakemi burst into tears, but tried to make her sobs as quiet as possible to hide it from the other Madoka who was sitting in the back of the Cybernet-powered jet.
Madoka… Shinigamidoka… Was gone. After all these years of fighting and training, her first and only love went out in a death that she didn’t even see until after it had happened. She did nothing and probably couldn’t have done anything in the first place.
Their only chance was to escape back to this other Madoka’s original universe. They had to abandon this one. Neoakemi almost wanted to go back and give Shinigamidoka a proper burial, but she knew the body had probably been disintegrated shortly after Kiiko had confirmed that she had killed her. That monster.
Kiiko Kawakami. Why didn’t they take her as seriously as they should have? Her name literally had Kami 神 in it; her godlike powers should have been taken down before they could grow as much as they did.
But they had more pressing matters, like Walpurgisnacht to deal with. They just didn’t know that Kiiko was going to be able to use her powers to control the monster so easily…
She wiped her tears and looked back at Madoka. She was asleep. It was so strange, seeing Madoka right there, beautiful as always, but feeling such grief at her death.
This Madoka though… she seemed different. For one, she was considerably older, possibly by an entire decade. That didn’t make her appearance any less graceful, but it was something of a strange sight. She was also wearing a sombrero, something that Neoakemi was having a hard time figuring out. That was something to ask about later, she guessed.
The jet reached a point where they could descend to the ground and ride the rest of the way. That was probably a good idea because it would help hide them from Kiiko’s prying eyes. For all her powers, she did not seem to have telepathy or any other similar powers of foresight, which made Neoakemi able to fool her and predict her actions ahead of time.
From past experience, they had about ten minutes before she attacked again, possibly for the last time.
Neoakemi pressed some buttons on her Cybernet computer and the jet transformed into a motorcycle– a very quiet one, too. Madoka woke up very quickly and grabbed onto Neoakemi’s back, riding pillion on the motorcycle.
“Where are we– Oh. Uh, hi,” Madoka said. “Sorry I fell asleep…” She trailed off, obviously very sympathetic about Shinigamidoka’s death. But sympathy wasn’t going to make up for anything, and she should have known that.
“We’re almost to the hideout,” Neoakemi said.
“Oh, uh, good.” It took all the strength Neoakemi had not to begin crying again.
She pivoted the motorcycle to avoid the large pieces of debris strewn across the highways. It had been like this for years, ever since Walpurgisnacht appeared. The storms had long since stopped, but the destruction stayed, as did the magical girls within. It was almost like some sort of stasis field that the city was in. Was the rest of the world like Mitakihara City? She had no way to confirm; even the Cybernet couldn’t break through the signal disruption caused by that monster.
They made it to the hideout, finally. However, the hideout was missing two walls and it looked extremely structurally unsound.
Sayaka and the two unfamiliar girls next to her were standing there… as was Negasayaka. Neoakemi drew up her Cybernet computer and began summoning light weapons, but the other Sayaka dashed in front of her. “Dude,” she said. “It’s okay, yo. The other Sayaka is our gal now.” She then turned to Madoka and ran up to her, hugging her tightly.
Negasayaka came up to Neoakemi. “She’s… gone,” she told the grayscale girl.
“That’s unfortunate for you,” she replied. “However, I don’t really care. I broke off my ties with all people I know once I made my double-wish.”
Homura pressed her hands against her chest. “I’ll do it. And I won’t turn into a monster. I won’t let it happen.”
“I highly doubt that,” Gyuhey said. “But if you want to make your double-wish, then I am willing to let you become a monster. It’s your choice.”
“Then my second wish is…” Homura paused to gather her thoughts for the correct wording. “To go back one more time, and to save Madoka, so that we can live together, happily ever after!”
Neoakemi cried. How could she fulfill her wish now? It was impossible. Gyuhey had lied to her once again. It was all useless.
She felt a hand patting her on the back. It was the unfamiliar girl with white hair who oddly looked like Charlotte, the witch that General Tomoe had often used to attack the other magical girls with. “It’s all going to be okay!” she said with a sincere smile. Neoakemi would have thought she was a lot cuter if she weren’t so tall… and pretty muscled as well. This girl was actually pretty intimidating.
Madoka, the sombrero-wearing one, stood in front of all the other magical girls. Neoakemi forced herself to pay attention.
“Okay, so… a lot of us died and we are all a lot worse of for doing this mission,” Madoka began. “But we did get Homura. So I think we should all go back to the universe where there are no godlike beings that want to kill us.”
Neoakemi was confused. “What do you mean? We haven’t defeated Kiiko Kawakami yet.”
“Yeah,” Sayaka said. “And we aren’t going to. So we’re going to run to fight another day. Except not fight her again because we really don’t stand a chance.”
“I have to kill that bitch,” Neoakemi said. “Leave me behind.”
“We’re not leaving you behind,” Madoka said. “You can’t self-sacrifice to the point of ridiculousness. That’s my job.”
And that was probably what Shinigamidoka did, looking back… Neoakemi realized at that moment that her girlfriend’s final act was not a foolish attack; it was the only thing keeping Kiiko from killing her and then destroying the rest of the survivors from the other universe.
She didn’t want to go. She couldn’t do it. But she knew that that’s what Shinigamidoka would have wanted. That’s what she died to do. Her double-wish granted her the powers of the dead, but in the end she used those powers to protect… and that’s what made her so special.
“I… I’ll go,” Neoakemi said, finally.
“Thank you,” Madoka said. “Now… does anyone remember how we’re supposed to get back?”
The white-haired girl raised her hand eagerly.
“I know! We’re supposed to use these devices that Kyoko gave to Crispina and me,” she said, pointing over to the dark-skinned girl. “They’re weird pod things that are supposed to give us a burst of incredible magical energy that will give us enough power to cross back to our universe once we activate them. We’re supposed to activate them together to create a portal.”
“Is that… all?” Madoka asked. “That seems way too simple. Why didn’t we do that during that big fight scene a few chapters ago?”
“Once activated,” the Crispina girl said, seemingly reciting technical instructions. “The portal remains open for five minutes. If we were to do that back then, all of those enemy magical girls would have been able to follow us.”
“And Kiiko,” Nagisa added.
“I count her as a magical girl,” Crispina said.
“Really? No way!” Sayaka shouted. “Kiiko doesn’t even have a cool uniform. She didn’t make a contract and she doesn’t even have a transformation sequence. Half our budget is wasted on those things.”
Neoakemi was confused again.
“Okay, shut up Sayaka,” Madoka said. “If the portal is supposed to be open for five minutes, then we need to do this now. Otherwise someone might be able to follow us.”
“Good point,” Sayaka said. “Does anyone have any pickles? I kind of want pickles right now.”
Everyone stared at Sayaka.
“Fine. No pickles it is.”
Crispina and Nagisa gathered the pods and then released them one by one at the same location. They did it six times, one for each girl here, and a portal formed. There were seven pods, though, which must have meant that more of their universe’s magical girls died than she realized.
“Let’s go through,” Madoka said. “Hold hands so that we don’t get lost or anything.”
“I feel like we’re forgetting something important…” Sayaka said. “It might just be me.”
“It is probably just you,” Negasayaka said as she took her fellow self’s hand. She offered it to Neoakemi, who reluctantly took it. The two were at each other’s throats just hours ago, but now they were working together… this didn’t seem right and it didn’t feel right. But Neoakemi followed regardless.
As the six magical girls jumped through the magical portal, Neoakemi thought she saw something behind her.
Was it– No. It couldn’t have been.
She focused her mind on the future. And she hoped from the bottom of whatever amount of a soul she had left that this new universe would be better than the ruins she had left behind…