Collab Starter Post between LuckyBlackCat and NiceSpice
The skies had been a fitting overcast for a few days now. Steady, thick clouds rolled on the horizon, dampening the city-scape below. It was evening, the sun had made no appearance all day. Vague shadows swept across the streets, the outline of high-rise buildings, corner shops and transport hubs melded into one grey backdrop. Away from the bustle of downtown, there lay the industrial district. White smoke flooded into the sky from mill chimneys, churning down for the weekday. It was a failing part of town, it’s crime that of fading in the face of modern progress.
It was perfect for Vices.
Workers, minimum of wage and twice as hard pushed to earn it. Bosses with businesses threatening to sink under pressure, and the abandoned warehouses that dotted the area, terminally up for rent. The air hung heavy with the pressure, a looming, distressed shadow that expanded over the district.
“It’s gotta be here. Everything’s so… bleh.”
Wandering the piped walls and dusty paths, a young girl. Perhaps only 14, with twin braids that fell to her shoulder blades like pale straw. She stood so plainly, wide, dark brow eyes sweeping across the urban-scape with misplaced awe, mouth pulled into a slight frown. Haruko, a new Virtue, was about to meet her natural enemies.
Ahead of her, an older teen stood tall. Everything about her contrasted with the dreary grey of the district, from her spangled blue dress that billowed in the breeze, to the six-foot staff in her grip, bearing a moon shape with two golden stars. Stranger still was the orb of light drifting in front of her. Her appearance should have drawn stares from all over, but nobody trudging along their routine paths so much as glanced her way. Such was the effect of magic on the average person's senses.
This was still all relatively new to her, and newer yet to Haruko, the magical girl she guided. Her face oddly solemn considering her particular virtue, the older girl, Aki, nodded. "This way," she said, gesturing with the staff towards an alleyway. With cautious yet purposeful steps, the blonde followed the glowing sphere, then tensed as a shudder of dread ran down her spine. "Careful, this one's tough," she warned, "and we may be dealing with more than one."
This was why so many new recruits were needed, but by helping seek out latent magic to be awakened, was she doing the right thing? Or was she getting people in over their heads? Aki could only hope it was the former. Hope was sometimes all a person had.
Despite the miasma around them, Haruko smiled with certain determination. It was a jarring contrast to the miasma of hopelessness around them, but she knew so much better. It was bad now, it was always bad before the smiles returned. Her fingers curled in tight anticipation. Magical girls, Virtues, would always bring back that happiness.
“Really? How can you tell?”
With much less care than her mentor, the young braided lass skipped after Aki, dressed in almost gaudy citrus yellows and oranges, reminiscent of a court jester—particularly the twin-tailed hat upon her head. For a moment, in the drudgery of the steel and brick walls around them, she thought she glimpsed a cat… black, but with odd highlights on its fur. It had all too quickly scampered away.
Iron bars clanged in the distance, echoing in an abandoned warehouse. The windows had long since been smashed, the roof was unstable and partially caved in, leaking rain-water and who-knew what else into the floors below. Haruko could swear, it was darker inside, despite the damage. It almost looked… smoky and surreal. Her eyes snapped open, a hand soaring past Aki’s shoulder to jab a finger towards the upper levels. A dark silhouette, peering in dismay out the window. Perhaps a man…?
“Look! Look, someone’s up there! Inside!”
It happened so suddenly. A wave of magic, or what felt like it, before Haruko belted forwards, hand braced to her hat to keep it at bay with the sheer speed she could reach. It wasn't inhuman, but it was too fast for her build, particularly when she was hop-skip-jump-tripping over herself during it. At the very least, she was eager to help.
The man at the window didn't notice either of the girls, but the cause of his anguish did. No sooner had Aki raised her head than a pulse of dark magic nearly sent her reeling.
"Stay focused!" Aki commanded, sprinting after Haruko. Her grasp on her weapon, the Celestial Beacon, tightened as she lifted it. At that moment, what looked like a mass of black smoke poured from the window, forming a hooded, vaguely humanoid shape. Purple lights flickered from its torso and its skeletal face, a sure sign that the creature had recently fed, and sought to eliminate anything that stood between itself and its prey.
As it billowed towards the pair, the stars on Aki's staff began to glow. The light intensified to a brilliant white gleam, arcing through the air as the blonde swung the weapon and sent a flurry of shimmering sparks at the Vice. They seared like embers where they hit, wisps of dark mist curling and fading. Writhing, the monster fell back, although its own eerie glow still thrummed strong.
"Heyyy!" came a nearby voice. A figure, human yet displaying animal-like agility, leapt onto a wall and crouched there, grinning. "You're in luck, your backup's arrived just in time!" The third girl jumped down as easily as if she were descending a staircase, a feline tail stretching out behind her to match her fuzzy pointed ears. One wave of her hand, and warmth spread over Aki as a golden aura surrounded her and Haruko.
Aki's stern expression softened into a hint of a smile. "Thanks, Kichi." They needed all the luck they could get. This much became clear not just from the Vice shaking off the attack, but from other, smaller manifestations of the atmosphere's gloom rising up.
She raised the Celestial Beacon again. This was the duty of a magical girl, to ward off despair with hope, darkness with light, vice with virtue.