Chapter 1: An Unexpected Outcome
Kyubey had no way to escape Homura's cruel demands. Her powers made him feel despair and pain whenever the magical girls he contracted did. Sometimes her magic forced him to experience visions of their despair – unable to change anything, only to observe. These visions were making him lose his grasp on reality, unable to separate what was real and what was not. Homura knew the fates of all magical girls – they inevitably succumbed to despair yet she insisted that he maintained his previous quota of contracting one magical girl per month before she became a part of his life. It was the equivalent to torturing himself and he couldn't refuse. She was a demon and he was her captive.
Every night Kyubey shivered against the cold stone floor as he listened to Homura complain about her mortal life. Despite being a goddess of sorts, she chose to continue her existence as a normal girl during the day. The problem was whenever Homura wasn't happy, she inflicted physical pain on him – paIn that he could actually feel. Nothing he could say would spare him from the torment that Homura wanted to inflict. Life was so much better when he lacked the ability to feel emotions. For his actions in the past, Homura wanted to make him suffer.
His head hit the wall after Homura threw him.
"That Madoka – how can she score higher than me?"
Kyubey whimpered, hoping for some measure of relief, not that he would get any. There was nothing he could do except wait for Homura's rage to pass. It didn't matter that she healed all the physical scars, the memories still took a toll on his mind.
"You could make Madoka less intelligent," Kyubey said. As perilous as it was, he couldn't be direct with Homura who constantly expected him to trick her.
Homura stomped on his body as a result. "How dare you suggest that!"
"Maybe you could study harder?" Kyubey mumbled after coughing up blood. Anything that made Homura care more about her mortal life was less torment for him or so he hoped. There were days when she slept over at Madoka's house – those were the only days he didn't feel extreme pain.
"Enough – let's go hunting instead." Homura seemingly grew bored with acting like a mortal.
There were wraiths that roamed the world – born from negative human emotions. After someone defeated them, a few contained grief seeds – which were manifestations of their regret. Homura expected him to consume them as per usual – but with the ability to feel emotions – experiencing their grief took a toll on his mind.
"Please no more," Kyubey begged. This was the first time he pleaded for mercy.
"Things can be so much worse for you. Would you like to find out?"
"How much worse can things get?" Kyubey asked rhetorically.
Within mere moments, they appeared on his home planet. Homura wasted no time in destroying everything around her while all Kyubey could do was watch.
"You…" Kyubey was out of words as he witnessed the genocide of his race. So many died indiscriminately from Homura's wrath.
"All you need to do is wish for them to be back and they will be, but you will remember this. Remember to choose your phrasing carefully."
Homura couldn't grant wishes, only rewind time. Thus, Kyubey had to voice his wish in a way that Homura could actually fulfill. "I wish this never happened, and won't happen in the future."
"Now, that wasn't so hard, was it?" Homura smirked before activating her powers which now included the ability to bring someone else across time.
Time shifted back to before the genocide even began.
"While we were there I saw your own kind experimenting on others. Would you care to explain why this happens?"
"They're mentally ill and can feel emotion. It helps us develop medicine for the good of the entire species."
"Do you see anything wrong with that?"
It couldn't be wrong because it was better for the species as a whole, but if he said no, he was sure that he was going to suffer even more. "I do not want to answer this question."
"Interesting. Do you want to set them free?"
It was against his principles of logic to say yes, but he was sure that was what she wanted. "I cannot set them free." This wasn't a lie because he couldn't convince the bureaucrats nor change the system.
For some unknown reason, she dropped the subject. "It's been a long day, I'm off to sleep."
This was highly unusual, but compared to recent days, it was one of the better ones. Homura didn't force him to absorb the memories of wraiths for she didn't fight any today. He was free to do whatever he wanted during the night if he can manage to remain sane. The nightmares that the magical girls were experiencing made it difficult for him to retain his grip on reality.
Kyubey saw a vision of a furious Madoka confronting Homura.
"How could you?" Madoka said. "You killed them all."
"They're still alive."
"It doesn't change that you killed them, and you know that you did."
The vision faded as quickly as it began. Kyubey smiled from what he learned because Homura feared Madoka. This was the first time he witnessed her nightmare and it made him hopeful that there could be an end to his. He debated if he should break Homura's most sacred edict of never contacting Madoka. There would certainly be consequences, but would he be happy afterward? Was it worth enraging a demon with powers over time?
The next morning, before Homura assumed her role as an ordinary school student, she gave Kyubey a warning that today was the last day to fulfill his quota in contracting a magical girl. Kyubey had to contract one magical girl per month with consequences he didn't want to find out if he failed.
He had to act "normal" despite his body being in constant pain. Appearances were everything when he had a target to lure and to grant a wish to. However, it was becoming harder and harder for him to maintain a semblance of normalcy with pains wracking his body randomly and it certainly didn't help that at times he zoned out – forced to witness a vision of despair that a magical girl was experiencing at a given moment.
Time was running out and he still hadn't become confident enough to approach a target. He had to find someone that made a meaningless wish so that he would feel less pain in the future, but on the flip side, he wouldn't fulfill the energy requirements expected of him. The greater the despair they felt, the greater the energy generated, but the more he suffered.
It was afternoon by the time he found a target with his powers – a girl was bound to wish for a cat to regain the ability to walk again. All he had to do was give her the opportunity. The girl was crying from multiple cat scratches, holding a struggling dark grey cat in her hands.
"You can change all this by wishing her to be healed. On top of this, you gain magical powers!" Kyubey said. He hoped that he could maintain his concentration and that a vision of despair wouldn't snatch him from reality. "Think of all the cats you can save." This wish was so simple since modern medicine could probably do the trick as well.
He didn't disclose any of the negative consequences of the wish she would make. It didn't matter. All he needed was her consent.
The girl nodded. "I wish this cat could walk again."
That's when everything went wrong. It shouldn't be this way. None of it made sense when the entire area spontaneously combusted. Apparently, the girl's wish was beyond her potential… but how? It was so simple. The wish made the cat seemingly immune to fire as it walked through the flames unscathed. Kyubey thought nothing more of it as he turned his thoughts to mitigate his impending doom. He had to contact Madoka and hope that it would all work out somehow.
He appeared as an injured creature right in the path of Madoka as she was walking home from school.
"There, there everything will be okay."
Her hands gave him comfort as she petted him. He cried because the sensation gave him hope. Madoka didn't know what or who he was yet he had a feeling that things would get better from now on. He didn't speak and Madoka probably didn't know that he could talk either.
"How was your first day of class? And what is this?" her mother said when she arrived home.
Kyubey learned that Homura set time back further than she intended. This universe existed for at least a month, there's no way that it was the first day right after its creation. He didn't know why the others could see him. It never happened before.
"I don't know what it is, but can I keep it? It was hurt."
Kyubey purred, playing the role of a dumb animal. Since the adults could see him, he was probably safer now compared to before.
"Of course, you can. I think he's cute," her mother said. "What are you going to call him?"
The name she gave sent shivers down his spine: Kyubey. How much did this Madoka know? Was the reason that Homura didn't reset time again was that Madoka was going to have her turn tormenting him instead? He began to cry.
Cinderpaw couldn't believe what happened to her. Mere moments ago, she was struggling furiously against a twoleg's grip with an injured leg. Now, a circle of fire surrounded her with no way out. Her body was strong enough to move and none of her limbs seemed to hurt which seemed strange. The unmistakable scent of blood filled the air. There was no way out except through the fire which she prayed to StarClan that she would somehow survive. Without any other option, she ran into the flames while fearing for her life. It was as good as dying, but so was doing nothing. She panted for breath once she was outside of the flaming circle. The fire didn't even burn a single strand of fur on her body.
Once she caught her breath, she tried to make her way back to her clan, but every thunderpath she came across terrified her. She made slow but steady progress towards her destination. The sun was shining by the time she left the twoleg place and arrived at the edges of the forest.
The scent of the ThunderClan border made her feel safe. It was a sign that she was almost home. She ran into Fireheart looking for her.
"Cinderpaw, what happened?"
"I don't know…"
How could she explain what she witnessed today? Everything made no sense.
"Never mind that, are you hurt anywhere?"
She shook her head. "For some reason, my leg is fine now."
"It would be a good idea to check in with Yellowfang regardless." Fireheart led the way back to the ThunderClan camp.
As she approached the camp, strange cats she didn't recognize made her falter in her step. "Who are all these cats?"
Fireheart blinked. "Who?"
She pointed at the strange cats she didn't recognize. "Them."
"There's nothing there, Cinderpaw. Are you feeling okay?"
"How can you not see them? They're running towards us with claws out. We need to run! Now!"
"Find a safe place to hide. I'm going to get Yellowfang. It's going to be okay."
Fireheart couldn't be serious, could he? She watched him walk into those strange cats as if they didn't even exist, but they were running towards her and she had to hide. They chased her all the way to the Fourtrees then stood as if an invisible wall held them in place. She hid underneath one of the giant trees and prayed to StarClan hoping that Fireheart would find her soon.
After what seemed like an eternity, Yellowfang arrived with Fireheart. They walked through the strange cats as if they didn't exist. The strange cats made no indication that they ever knew of Fireheart or Yellowfang.
"Can you still see them?" Yellowfang asked.
"Eat this." Yellowfang held some poppy seeds in her paw.
She knew those would make her sleep, but that seemed terrifying. "No!" she screeched and knocked the seeds out of Yellowfang's paw.
"She's your apprentice. Make yourself useful!" Yellowfang grumbled.
Together they forced Cinderpaw to consume the poppy seeds. Betrayed by her mentor and her own clan. They didn't care at all.