Catching Up – Chapter 6: A Training Duel Making Liberal Use of Soul Gem Canon Powers
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Madoka and Kyoko exited the changing room dressed in their shock-absorbent Ryoshi pilot armor, as well as matching sombreros.

“Ready to rock?” Kyoko asked.

“Damn straight,” Madoka replied.

they entered the spectator room, where all the magical girl trainees and the entire Magical Girl Squad were gathered, minus Sayaka who had to do some school field trip chaperoning. Even El Guante was here, albeit in a wheelchair, and missing the signature machine guns that made his character really pop.

Stacker Pentecost, dressed in his officer’s uniform as always, greeted the Kanames with a courteous and efficient nod. On the other side of him were their soon-to-be-opponents, Crispina and Nagisa.

“Now this is only a training match,” Pentecost said. “But I expect everyone to be at peak performance today. No holdin’ back.”

Madoka and Kyoko held hands. In the past couple days they finally had, in fact, been able to, erm, “sync up”, so their mental and physical connection was strong and incredibly powerful. It’s too bad they were going to have to use the Stark Reality since Mexi was still under repair. The two of them practically treated that mecha like their own personal love hotel.

Wait, no. Not THAT kind of love. Not in a gross way. Like in how they used the machine’s neural interface to grow closer to one another and keep their marriage at the rock-solid emotional level it always would be. Not at all like a brain sex thing. Probably.

Madoka stepped forwards and extended her hand. “I look forward to facing you two on the battlefield.”

“Yeah, it’s going to be fun,” said Nagisa, shaking her hand.

“We’re going to crush you,” added Crispina.

Kyoko narrowed her eyes and grinned, flashing a fang.

“Now get to your Ryoshi and show us what you’ve got!” Pentecost shouted.

They quickly scurried off into their respective mechas and loaded in.

Madoka and Kyoko placed their soul gems onto the magic amplifiers to activate the machine.

The Stark Reality roared to life (but not in a furry way), its chrome plating glittering against the spotlights above.

“Initializing projection mode,” Stark’s computer synthesizer voiced.

Beyond the loading dock and on the other end of the observation platform was a gigantic expanse of dirt and shrubs-- the practice arena. The Stark Reality flickered into existence, its translucent projection appearing in the arena and ready for combat. Crispina and Nagisa’s Ryoshi, the Octavia Supreme, appeared as well.

Isn’t it wonderful what amazing feats the power of the Soul Gem could accomplish? They barely tapped into them and could already power a robot and project its form a football stadium’s distance away. Extremely conveniently, too, for the premise of this story.

“Let’s start the neural link,” Madoka said.

Kyoko started to remember her thoughts from earlier and got a little embarrassed. “Uh yeah, let’s do it.” Wait. “Perform the neural link, I mean.”

They stepped onto the control platforms, and~~~~~~~~

Wooooooooshhhhh.

It’s hard to convey in text form but imagine a bunch of memories and emotions flowing around in blue-toned bursts going so fast you can only process it after two or three rewatches.

Actually I do own the Pacific Rim novelization in paperback form. Maybe next time I’ll use it as reference for how to write one of these “in the drift” scenes.

Not this time though.

“Cool, we’re connected now,” Madoka said. “That went very well. Hey-- wait. Kyoko... Why that crap were you thinking about... wow.”

“You must be imagining things.”

“You’re so gross, Kyoko.”

The Stark Reality was now synchronized with its two pilots, who were now synchronized with each other.

The pair they faced off against, Crispina and Nagisa, was no match for this level of compatibility. While Crispina’s open-book policy allowed her to effectively neural-link with practically anyone, she also excelled with nobody. And her personality clashed so much with Nagisa’s that it was unthinkable that they could really pull off a good combo.

Narratively, when someone talks down about an opponent’s skill it typically results in the complete and utterly-surprising defeat of the overconfident party. It’s the Law of Jackasses Getting Comeuppance, or more colloquially referred to as Frieza’s Paradox.

But this time it was just true.

Octavia charged at its foe, bass-pumping EDM surging through its metal body. However, as its fist extended into a punching motion Mexi side-stepped the attack and grabbed Octavia from the side.

Mexi headbutted Octavia.

Twice.

It let go and Octavia reeled backwards, stumbling around for a moment before--

POW!

Mexi roundhouse kicked it to the ground.

It wasn’t even a fair fight.

Octavia burst into flames... and its projection faded away.

Madoka and Kyoko high-fived from inside the cockpit, but Mexi just seemed like it was clapping its hands.

From inside the observation station, Pentecost was crying.

“Beautiful,” he said. “Beautiful.”

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