Chapter 3

        Yutaka tilted her head toward the functioning primary inhibitor next to her.
        "Well, it's a little embarrassing," explained Yutaka. "There's not a lot of pictures of me or anything."
        Madoka, anxious to use the primary inhibitor, slowly made her way toward it during the conversation.
        Madoka was close enough to the primary inhibitor to activate both it and Inhibitor 3. But before she could put one hand on the machine she was next to, the inhibitor room was filled with a green glow as an alarm-like drone sounded three times.
        Everyone in the room looked at the destroyed Inhibitor 2 just as a loud electric bolt quickly emerged from it...
        ...and sent Yutaka to her knees with a crackle.
        Another bolt struck Yutaka with a blinding flash.
        The next thing the teammates heard was a voice... one that didn't exactly belong to the person who spoke.
        "Aww crap, not this again..." Yutaka moaned.
        As Yutaka let herself collapse to the floor with a thud, the team noticed that her appearance had changed.
        Her school uniform was changed back to its original colors of blue, white, and yellow. Even her loafers had returned to their original brown.
        But Yutaka's hair was now blonde, and the ribbons that held her ponytails were black and red.
        "That just ain't right!" yelled Engineer.
        ("Wait a minute,") said Miku. ("That comic I read--")
        Yet another electric zap removed Yutaka from the room with a time-screw teleport before Miku could finish speaking.
        The team's ringtone sounded, as the mercenaries and Miku readied their headsets while Madoka took out her phone.
        "Resurrection Movement? I really wanna talk," prompted the Fugitive.
        Madoka lowered her phone and tapped the primary inhibitor's frontal column.
        A signal scramble allowed the Fugitive to make his broadcast through the machine.
        "I saw what happened through the inhibitors. Something doesn't seem right about that girl. I mean, she looked like she's from Bubble Symphony, and then the machine zaps her to look like that other girl who... I think was carrying around explosive wind-up boxes last October."
        ("That's it!") exclaimed Miku. ("It was that comic--")
        But Miku was ejected from the room in another time-screw before she could say another word.
        "Dammit!" yelled Engineer.
        "We can't really do anything about that, folks," sighed the Fugitive. "I didn't think the Opposition would start zapping out people again."
        Madoka slammed her hand onto the inhibitor, creating another signal scramble. She didn't mean to cut off the Fugitive, but she really wanted to check on Mami, now that she had a chance.
        The primary inhibitor's viewscreen displayed Mami, wearing the glasses Engineer left her a month ago, firing off her musket rifles at the snow-covered outdoor fountain area. It was followed by long beeps out of the gasmasks of some nearby defeated Time Police officers.
        Mami paused for a moment as she listened to a nearby spear making its scraping impacts against another officer.
        Kyoko Sakura spun her spear upright in her hand. A fellow magical girl recruited into the Resurrection Movement, Kyoko had been helping Mami defeat the Time Police scouting party while nibbling on a few Pocky sticks.
        "Now, now, we can't let our guard down," Mami pointed out as she took off her glasses. "There was a moment when I thought we were in trouble."
        "Why do you gotta be such a wet blanket?" groaned Kyoko. "Instead of preaching, you should invite us over for tea and cake." She made her usual grin.
        "Guess there's no helping it."
        But a blue-uniformed military-man, Soldier, rudely interrupted the conversation.
        "Cupcake, you are a disgrace to the afterlife," Soldier taunted Mami. "You do not deserve to wear that magic dress."
        Mami did not hesitate to summon another rifle and shoot Soldier with it.
        But instead of the wide-brimmed hat he stole from Demoman, Soldier wore a blue beret marked with a skull-shaped pin.
        With a bright flash, Soldier disappeared from the area using the glitchy Tux penguin on his belt.
        Mami and Kyoko were left to stare at each other.
        At the inhibitor room, Engineer, Medic, Scout, FemScout, Madoka, and Homura had watched the live-footage broadcast on the inhibitor's screen.
        "This... This is kinda troubling," admitted the Fugitive over the inhibitor. "I don't know what Mami Tomoe's been thinking about to make the gasmask men want to kidnap her. But, team, our main focus is taking down the Opposition and the Hostiles. Scout, you should thank Homura for finding your gun."
        "Yeah, yeah, thanks, pally." Scout told Homura.
        "There's no need for that," Homura replied darkly.
        "Engineer sent me the photos," the Fugitive continued. "So, Homura used your Back Scatter gun on Miss Strength, and it actually worked. That's gotta be it. Team, we need a weapon that works very well on other people's backs."
        "Oh man!" chuckled Scout. "We're gonna screw that tank up!"
        "What do you think about Pyro?" suggested FemScout.
        "Pyro?" repeated the Fugitive. "Look, Miss Stocking took him down last year, remember? And as soon as Pyro goes outside, someone's gonna blow his head off."
        "How about Spy?" asked Scout.
        "Yeah, Spy's more stealthy," agreed the Fugitive.
        Homura's frown didn't go unnoticed by Madoka or Engineer.
        "But he's not here. He took a flight overseas for who knows what."
        "Is there a point to your lives?" snarled Medic.
        "Look, you won't reach Spy with those weird hallways around you," continued the Fugitive. "I did notice he's been carrying around some interesting-looking daggers. Wait a few months until he gets back, and then bring him here so we can talk. All right?"
        The four mercenaries agreed.
        "Until then... That young girl... Yutaka, was it? She really concerns me. Be careful of her, and take down anyone who's got something against us."

*   *   *

        Pew pew POW!
        Three bright explosive flashes threw Yutaka upside-down against a wall inside Office Building 52375. Yutaka's hair was still blonde from the inhibitor's electric zap.
        But Yutaka wasn't the only one in the room.
        There was a girl with long pink hair and a distinctive gold circlet crown on her head. She was known as Princess Bubblegum. Despite undergoing a more human-like appearance in this world, Bubblegum's search for one of the Resurrection Movement's magical girls led her to the office building.
        Bubblegum looked over at where the three flashes rang out. She screamed once she saw the upside-down girl against the wall.
        "Aah! You scared me!" exclaimed Bubblegum.
        "That's right," Yutaka replied smugly.
        "What are you doing here?"
        "I fell on my head."
        "You're really going over the top here."
        "Don't worry. I'll be okay in a bit." Yutaka's voice was back to normal again.
        "Take it easy. Princess's orders," urged Bubblegum.
        A determined grin slipped onto Yutaka's face for a brief moment before she silently nodded at the princess.




Chapter 4 >