Magical March 11
A Royal Pain
Mark A Davis
"Royal?" said Octava. "What the Hades is that supposed to mean? A royal magical girl? Am I only to consider actual princesses? Because there ain't many of those left in the world, and most of them wouldn't be interested in the whole magical girl shtick. Does it mean I dress her in royal blue? Do I design a cheerleader for the Kansas City Royals?"
Octava and Daesdamona, two former angels who worked as magical girl guides for a realm known as Nibiru, sat in a cafe in Venice, Italy. It was a warm spring day and the streets and canals were bustling with tourists. The sound of conversations echoed down the street and blended with the lapping of water against brick.
Octava sipped his Vittoria coffee and nibbled on a baklava croissant. He stared at a virtual computer pad, assessing their next assignment. He resembled a young boy, maybe fourteen, with long blonde hair. Today he wore shorts and an A.C. Milan shirt. His companion had dark skin, black hair, and wore a bohemian gypsy dress.
"Don't be dense," Daesdamona retorted. "Obviously these are instructions for artists to draw a magical girl in a royalty setting -- think Princess Serenity, the royal alter-ego of Sailor Moon."
"Right, I get that," said Octava. "But how are we supposed to make that work? In the context of her own story, Sailor Moon really is the reincarnation of a princess from an ancient moon kingdom...."
"During the Silver Millennium..." added Daesdamona.
"Yeah, whatever," said Octava, waving a hand. "The point is I can't just wave my hands and say: you, you're the reincarnated princess of La La Land, or whatever magical ancient kingdom I want to make up, because that ancient kingdom doesn't exist and she isn't the reincarnation of any past princess. We can transform girls into magical girls and give them special powers, but making them a real princess of a real kingdom? Even a reincarnated princess of a long-ago kingdom? No can do. I mean, editing history to give them an elaborate back story -- not even the big guy in the sky, the big G.O.D., does that. Am I right?"
There was a flash of light. Suddenly a very beautiful woman was seated with them. She had long white hair and pale skin, and wore a red silk dress. Her eyes were the most notable feature, however -- there were no pupils, and they glowed with an unearthly white light.
"No," she said. "He doesn't. But I do."
"Um..." Octava began, sitting back.
"Have no fear, Dear Octavia," the woman said. "I know who you and Daesdamona are. I am a fan. A big fan. But you may not know who I am. My card." She tapped the table and a white card appeared, with the words "Eternia the Watcher" written in a flowing script. The card was only visible for a few moments, then vanished.
"I am a goddess," she said. "Small g, mind you, but a goddess nonetheless. I take an interest in the affairs of earthly mortals -- heroic mortals in particular. I am not the only one who does so. I have a special preference for magical girls, so I take a particular interest in the affairs of Nibiru. I've been pleased and fascinated with your recent work -- so many new magical girls to follow! Although the execution has been a bit ragged, if you don't mind my saying so...."
Octava frowned. "We're working under a tight schedule," he said. "I'm sure that once the month's up, we'll have a chance to go back and make sure every girl's situated properly...."
"Yes," said Eternia. "I'm counting on it. But right now you want a royal magical girl -- one who is the reincarnated princess of a bygone realm. I do recommend you go that route -- trying to establish a girl as a princess of a current realm is far more difficult...."
"Yes, but we can't..." Octava began.
"Oh, I know, Octava my friend," she said. "Establishing a bygone kingdom that has not existed for a thousand years -- well, it's really not within the scope of what you people can do, is it?" She smiled and added, "That's where I come in."
"Listen, Eternia, or whoever you are," said Daesdamona. "We really don't have a lot of time to waste...."
"Indeed," Eternia said. "A picture, as they say, is worth a thousand words." She snapped her fingers, and the three of them were somewhere else.
Ice crystals drifted across a frozen, barren landscape. The sky was black and filled with stars. Worn and broken pillars stabbed the sky, hinting at magnificent buildings that had once stood here. Unlike earth, these ruins were not overgrown with weeds -- nothing living was visible. Yet the ruins had crumbled with time, worn down by fierce winds, ice, and intense cold. A harsh wind whistled past their ears, and they no doubt would have quickly frozen -- as well as died of asphyxiation -- if not in the company of a goddess.
"What the...?" Octava said. He still held his coffee cup, halfway to his lips, but the coffee was now a block of ice. He tipped the cup over and watched the coffee slowly drift down.
"Where is this?" asked Daesdamona.
"This," said Eternia, "is Ganymede, the largest moon of Jupiter and in fact the ninth largest object in the Solar System. As you can see, I have retroactively placed ruins here -- the remains of an ancient civilization known as the Ganymidian Kingdom."
Octava frowned. "By retroactively, you mean...."
"The ruins," said the woman, "are five thousand years old. No one has actually been here in five thousand years, so there is nothing to stop me from establishing such a kingdom. Obviously I couldn't do this on earth's moon -- a Moon Kingdom on the Terran satellite would stick out as something that clearly had not been there previously. But this far out in space? Anything goes. There is zero chance of causing a time anomaly. So far the closest mankind has come to exploring Ganymede has been the Galileo spacecraft, which made multiple flybys between 1996 and 2000 and sent back spectral images. The European Space Agency plans to launch a Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer -- code named JUICE, isn't that clever? -- in about four years, which will eventually enter Ganymede's orbit. Perhaps then mankind will finally discover these ruins.
"So now, as you see, you have your ancient kingdom. You need only find a likely reincarnated princess and implant some dreams of a glorious past within her head. Or if that is also something which you Nibiru folks simply will not do, then I will do it."
Octava and Daesdamona glanced at each other.
"Can we trust her?" asked Octava. "Because honestly, doing a reincarnated princess would be fun...."
"As it happens, I've heard of Eternia the Watcher," said Daesdamona. "She really is a nutca... that is, very fond of magical girls." She glanced at the woman in red. "I think we can trust her, at least on this particular subject...."
Eternia clapped her hands together. "Oh, this is going to be so much fun! I'm not always that good with names but I thought a Princess Gloria of Ganymede would make a great leader of a small team. She could have three guardians -- named for and representing such concepts such as Love, Truth, and Honor. Perhaps Princess Valentina, Princess Verity, and Princess Creda...."
"Just so long as we're not naming anyone after Honor Harrington," muttered Octava darkly.
Eternia raised an eyebrow. "Honor who?"
"Never mind," the boy said. "Princess Creda sounds fine to me, as do the other two."
"Great!" Eternia exclaimed. "Then I'll leave the rest to you two." She waved her hand and four colored balls appeared, each with a name on it -- Gloria, Valentina, Verity, and Creda. "Just place one of these each with the four girls that you choose, and they will begin to dream of their past lives. The rest will take care of itself -- with the aid of one of your magical girl guides, of course! Oh, and don't worry about the enemy, or the love interest -- I'll be making arrangements on that front as well!"
"Wait a moment," said Octava. "What do you mean you'll arrange an enemy....?"
"Don't worry your little head about it, Octava Dear!" Eternia replied. "It'll be all taken care of! Now I did have one request -- I'd like it very much if one of our ancient princess guardians is reincarnated as a boy -- that's always a fun twist, and when I send him embarrassing dreams of his past life with the man he loved it's so entertaining! Oh, and I know what you're going to say -- what if he likes men? But trust me, at that age it doesn't matter!"
Octava said, "Getting back to this idea of you creating an enemy...."
His voice trailed off, as the three of them -- Octava, Daesdamona, and Eternia -- suddenly realized they were not alone. Multiple blobby blue creatures hovered in the air around them.
One emitted a weird, groaning sound. Eternia snapped her fingers, and the sound was transformed into speech:
"Which one of you," the creature said, "Is responsible for placing this trash on our world?" It waved an appendage in the general direction of the ruins.
Octava and Daesdamona exchanged a glance. They both stared at Eternia.
Eternia sighed. "I'm sorry, Dear," she said. "It's my mistake. I had not realized that this moon was inhabited... obviously I should have done more research...."
She snapped her fingers, and the landscape changed. Eternia and the two magical girl advisers were once again alone. Here were the same ruins, but on a surface that was redder and contained more ice than the previous.
"This," said Eternia, "is the surface of Europa, fourth largest of Jupiter's moons. These ruins have existed here for five thousand years...."