Magical March 28
Mark A Davis
Parasol held aloft, Gothic Angel Galinda floated down from the sky and landed on cobblestone streets slick with rain. It was near midnight in London, and a waxing moon was partially obscured by clouds. Up ahead shadows moved and flowed across an alley, independent of any moving lights. Galinda wore an elaborate Gothic Lolita dress with tiered ruffles, long sleeves, lacing up the front that ended in a bow, and black tights decorated with tiny skull and crossbone designs and black leather platform boots, also decorated with silver skulls. Her hair was straight and brown, with straight bangs across the forehead. Her face was pale, her lipstick and nail polish black.
"So tell me something," Galinda said as she closed her parasol carefully. "These enemies are not created by you?"
"Oh my goodness, no," Sita said. The magical girl adviser was once again in her animal form -- which was not an animal, but a floating ball of white fur with large brown eyes and rabbit ears. "We never provide enemies for our agents. Our goal is to create more good in the world, not to simply look good."
"Which is why I am not really a Dark Magical Girl, but a magical girl who looks dark?" Galinda asked. She watched the shadows carefully. They rippled and bubbled. This disturbance grew closer.
"What we were provided with as a template are really prompts for internet artists," Sita said. "I have no idea how the corporate bigwigs back in Nibiru expected us to interpret Dark Magical Girl, but obviously we are not about to set up a girl who uses negativity to sow chaos and sorrow and mistrust... watch that wall to the right," she added.
"Which is what an actual Dark Magical Girl, sponsored by the Dark Magical Girl Division of Hell, would do?" asked Galinda.
"Right," said Sita. "If we did that, it would be a failure of Nibiru’s goals. So I chose to interpret this as a Gothic magical girl…."
"Basically," said Galinda, "a magical girl with black lipstick and a bad attitude?"
Three shadows detached from the wall and charged forward. Gothic Angel Galinda twirled her folded parasol and then aimed it like a gun. "Bang," she said. "Bang! Bang! Bang!"
The shadows were ripped to shreds, as if they'd been pierced by invisible bullets. They splashed onto the sidewalk like spilled ink and then drained away to nothing.
More shadows were moving from across the street to Galinda's left. She turned to face them.
"You can think of yourself in that manner if you wish," said Sita. "So long as you're battling the dark forces with your magic, you are doing good."
"That's another thing that confuses me," Galinda said. "You're from a place called Nibiru, which is not heaven, I take it?"
"No, it most certainly is not," Sita replied. "Heaven has their own magical girl program — the Angelic Council. Until recently I worked for them, but they can be very rule bound and hidebound to the point of impracticality. At some point you must stop worrying about the rules and ask: how can I help this magical girl? In what way can I do the most good? Obviously that should be the goal of a heavenly entity, but far too often they can’t see forest for the trees. When I had enough, I left for Nibiru."
Galinda aimed her gun again. "Bang!" she exclaimed. "Bang! Bang! Bang!"
"There are a lot of them," said Sita. "Might I suggest the Gatling gun?"
"Right," said Galinda. "Ratta tatta tatta tatta tat!"
Shadow creatures burst apart in a wide swath before them.
"But not all of your enemies are sent from Hell, either?" asked Galinda. "You mentioned dark forces...."
"The truth," said Sita, "is that Hell's Dark Magical Girl Division is even smaller than the Angelic Council's magical girl operations. Both are dwarfed by the number of magical girls that Nibiru sponsors. That's really our entire focus, after all. So while our magical girls sometimes face agents from Hell, most of what they face are what you might call independent actors — evil spirits, vengeful ghosts, humans who desire mischief, monsters and the like…
"And dark forces?" Galinda asked again.
The Gothic magical girl imagined Sita biting her lip -- although of course in this form she had no mouth. After several moments she said, "We do not speak of this often, but... just as Nibiru is a collective of former angels and others who wish to support magical girls and promote good, there are collectives with their own largely nefarious goals. Some claim to aid magical girls, but do not have the best interests of you girls in mind. Others are purely malevolent. These are often staffed by demons exiled from hell, or by vile spirits such as evil gods and fairies. Some of the larger ones are known as Arcticus Nox, the Samharrow Collective, and Shadowloche, but there are many of them, all much smaller than Nibiru itself. As a rule, such dark forces have problems working together and getting along. Despite this they cause a lot of mischief, taken as a whole. Hell does not collaborate with them directly, just as we do not collaborate with the Angelic Council -- but Hell and these other dark forces often have the same goals in mind."
The last of the shadows rushed forward. Gothic Angel Galinda swung her parasol like a sword, slicing through the creatures. Some slipped past her guard and attached themselves to her. They were sticky as if made of tar. Realizing she could not shoot or slice all of them, Galinda raised her parasol overhead and called out, "Gothic Angel Galinda, Final Attack: Purifying Gloom!"
A mist rolled in, like fog from the Thames. The shadow creatures writhed as if bathed in holy water. Within moments, the last of them had faded away.
"That really shouldn't work," said Sita. If she had a mouth she would be frowning. "Gloom is not a thing which purifies...."
Galinda said, "You've been creating magical girls all month, haven't you? From what you've told me, sinister forces are acting against them -- sending shadow creatures against me, giant stuffed animals against the girl in Brazil, dark fairy creatures against your fairy team in Oregon, a dark galactic queen and her minions against the sailor team in Denver, and even an evil dwarf against that fairy tale duo.
"What you need to do," Galinda said, "is figure out which of these dark force collectives is behind all of this, and invade them with an army of magical girls. If they're all as small as you say, you can win with overwhelming odds...."
"That," said Sita, "would be quite imprac...."
A bell chimed. A holographic screen appeared before Sita. Appearing on the screen was a robed woman with white wings and long, lavender hair.
"Ysolde?" asked Sita.
"Sita," said Ysolde. "I just wanted to let you know directly from me that Nephele looked into those dark force rumors that Icarus brought forth, and nothing came of it. They were completely unfounded -- which, given that the information came from a demon, is perfectly understandable. In any case, there is no need to pursue that lead any further."
Sita raised an eyebrow. "I see," she said. "And is there a reason why Nephele is not reporting this information herself?"
"She is unable to," said Ysolde. "She has been reassigned."
"Understood," said Sita. The holo screen winked out.
"What's that about?" asked Galinda.
"I'm not sure," Sita said, looking thoughtful. "Icarus had a very good lead on our mysterious dark forces, but he was working directly with Nephele of Nibiru's Counterintelligence Agency. They would never share information with Ysolde, and Icarus had told no one who his source of information was....
"I think," said Sita, "that you and I will take a trip to see Icarus and the others...."