To the Stars

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After centuries of turmoil, a Utopian AI/human government has seized control of Earth, heralding a new age of post-scarcity and space colonization. An unexpected encounter with a hostile, technologically superior alien race has broken the peace, forcing magical girls to come out of hiding to save human civilization. In the midst of it all, Shizuki Ryouko, an ordinary girl, looks to the sky, wondering at her place in the universe.
—Hieronym, author of To the Stars

This page summarizes the entire story, volume by volume and chapter by chapter, for those who want a refresher on events. It also includes the names of all future volumes and interludes, as released by Hieronym many years ago.

Each section is collapsed by default, to avoid unwanted spoilers; use the right-hand "Expand" buttons to view descriptions.


Volume I: Quantum Entanglement

Quantum entanglement is a phenomenon where groups of particles cannot have their state completely described independently of each other, even if separated by large distances.
This perhaps describes the position Ryouko finds herself in.

Volume Summary

Shizuki Ryouko, a regular girl dissatisfied with her utopian life, contracts and becomes a magical girl, wishing to leave Earth, explore, and "find my place in this universe". Her life rapidly turns anything but ordinary, as day by day wild events pile up and new secrets from her past reveal themselves. She ends up under the tutelage of both Tomoe Mami and Sakura Kyouko, learns that the demon attack that led to her contract was deliberately caused by someone, discovers that she's the descendant of two powerful competing matriarchies, receives a mysterious vision from a magical girl Goddess, finds out her parents have been working on a secret project cloning bodies for magical girls to use, receives a special V2 TacComp, and learns about her aunt, protoge of Akemi Homura, whose wish turned Ryouko's own mother from a magical girl back to a regular human.

All along, Ryouko struggles to adjust, learning as much about magical and military worlds she's entering as she can. Saying goodbye to friends and family, and starting to make new friends among her fellow magical girls, she finally departs Earth, led by her wish out into a strange new universe.

In short: Ryouko becomes a magical girl, and begins to discover her unusual place in the universe.

Chapter 1: "A Wish"

Ryouko goes to school, dissatisfied with her life. She feels out of place in a world where her family at home and friends at school seem to enjoy the near-utopian Earth, even as a war against an alien menace rages. At school, Mandatory Session is interrupted by the appearance of Tomoe Mami nearby, who has taken a detour to check the school for potential recruits with Kyubey, who claims he has found one. The sighting leaves Ryouko dwelling on the remote possibility of becoming a magical girl, distracting her enough that she unthinkingly agrees to go on a date with another boy from class. Simona, one of her friends, sees that she's unhappy and follows her out to a riverbank with a view of the starport.

Mami, on the other hand, surreptitiously visits Kyouko in her church to discuss the Cult's discovery of irregularities in the grief cube supply chain. She agrees to look into it and departs, only to encounter a demon spawn on her way back. At the riverbank, Simona is about to confess her feelings for Ryouko, when they are suddenly attacked by demons. Ryouko manages to keep the both of them alive for a short while before getting trapped. At the moment she attempts to sacrifice herself to save Simona, Mami saves them both, and along with Kyubey explains that Ryouko has the potential to make a wish and become a magical girl.
"I wish I could leave Earth," Ryouko said, looking down, "and explore this world. I want to go where no one else has gone before and find my place in this universe."

In short: Ryouko becomes a magical girl.

Chapter 2: "Fantasma"

Mami, with some reluctance, separates Simona from Ryouko and lets Kyouko take over the immediate training. Kyouko runs her through the ropes quickly, learns that Ryouko has an unprecedented 200km teleportation range, and assigns herself as a mentor along with Mami, who has in the meantime realized that Simona had a crush on Ryouko. Mami advises Simona not to tell Ryouko how she feels. Ryouko fights her first demons with Kyouko, and afterwards Patricia von Rohr shows them a pile of grief cubes she found, indicating the demon spawn was deliberate. The Incubators swear off responsibility, and all Ryouko can remember is seeing a woman in the distance just beforehand. Kyouko promises to investigate.

In short: Ryouko discovers that someone deliberately spawned the demons which led to her contract.

Chapter 3: "Mami Watches a Movie, Part One"

Disguised, Mami attends the movie Akemi. It depicts Homura's upbringing in an orphanage and wish, then Sayaka's death, which triggers a vision of the Goddess for Homura, changing her personality markedly. It then moves on to Yuma's joining, and the new Mitakihara Four founding the MSY. The movie then montages through the MSY's history to jump ahead to the Cephalopod first attack on Aurora, after which Homura rallies the MSY to send a massive force of magical girls to New Athens to stop the next attack.
In short: Akemi depicts Homura's life up until New Athens.

Chapter 4: "Mami Watches a Movie, Part Two"

Akemi depicts Mami and Homura directing a surprise assault on the Cephalopods at New Athens. Initially the battle goes well, and the Human forces on the ground rally, but the aliens deploy stronger measures in turn. Homura goes out to personally lead the counterattack, but the combination of stealth armor and orbital strikes is too much, and she falls in battle... only to find that her soul gem refuses to fill up with grief, preventing her from being taken away by the Law of Cycles, to her despair. Homura then suddenly heals from her wounds, and her white wings are replaced by huge, horrible black wings. Almost entirely on her own power, she leads the counterattack to victory, at the end personally redirecting an orbital superweapon back at the Cephalopod fleet.

In the final scene of the movie, Kyouko argues that the battle proves Homura's faith has merit to an unconvinced Mami, only for both of them to be interrupted by Homura's arrival. Homura announces her resignation from the MSY, leaving one of her ribbons with them, and declares that she is leaving to look for her goddess and will protect the world another way. The movie over, Mami goes to leave Earth, beginning her endless work anew with her Version Two TacComp Machina.

In short: Akemi depicts Homura's transformation, victory, and disappearance at New Athens.

Chapter 5: "Family"

Kyouko and Ryouko tell Ryouko's parents and grandfather that she has contracted, to their horror. Kyouko defends Ryouko's choice, and explains some of the magical girl system to them, though they prove to know more than most. Before Ryouko goes to bed, her mother comes to talk with her, expressing her disappointment that Ryouko lied when she promised not to contract, but also just talking with her. After watching Ryouko transform and discussing her weapon, the arbalest, she leaves Ryouko with the request to tell her grandmother (who had disappeared to join the military when Ryouko was a child) that her family was "sorry", should Ryouko meet her.

After Ryouko falls asleep, Kyouko still sticks around to gather information on her family situation as per procedure. Ryouko's grandfather Kuroi Abe willingly helps her out, telling her that Ryouko's parents are near divorce, though Ryouko doesn't realize it, and that they know so much about magic because they're researchers. He also mentions that Ryouko has an aunt she doesn't know about. That night, Ryouko dreams of an old encounter with a magical girl, and finds that she still has the bracelet the girl gave her. She also recalled an old memory of her grandmother talking about her aunt, though she doesn't understand it. After talking to Simona and her family a bit, Ryouko spends the morning reading through a swath of informational messages about her new life.

In short: Ryouko tells her family she has contracted.

Chapter 6: "Military"

Mami remembers the Mitakihara Four's celebration of October Three with Homura, shortly before the Contact War. The four of them poke fun at each other—including about Homura's secret pupil and Kyouko's "transgressions"—and eventually Mami suggests that they take a long vacation from the MSY together, only for the others to reluctantly shoot the idea down. In the present, Mami arrives at the starport with her bodyguards and meets with Marianne Francois, her intelligence officer, who she instructs to secretly investigate the grief cube supply chain as Kyouko asked. Later arriving at Carthago Shipyard via scramjet, then space elevator, then Navigator, she attends a meeting of the General Staff.

During the meeting, the Chair of the General Staff Roland Erwynmark reveals that the Cephalopods have been discovered constructing a wormhole stabilizer in the Kepler-37 System, at the tip of the ongoing Euphratic Incursion. This would allow the aliens to directly transport reinforcements into the system, within Blink distance of the Core World Optatum, and so an immediate MagOps operation is planned to destroy it. Erwynmark then announces that he's appointing Mami as a special Euphratic Sector commander, over some opposition from her opponents on the Staff.

In short: Mami is promoted, and tasked with destroying the discovered wormhole stabilizer.

Chapter 7: "Southern Group"

Kyouko wakes up (with Kishida Maki at her side) and while making the rounds at her church discovers that Maki has painted the Goddess with pink hair, a previously unknown trait. However, Kyouko has to immediately leave to see Yuma about the saturated grief cubes incident. On the way, Kyouko remembers when she first met Yuma, in a confrontation with the Southern Group shortly after Homura had first joined the team, before her personality change. Kyouko had immediately taken sympathy on her, and telepathically invited her to switch sides, though the very young Yuma had angrily refused after Kyouko insulted Oriko, who had saved Yuma's life.

Kyouko's reverie is briefly interrupted by Maki, who tells her the idea of the pink hair came from Shirou Asaka. Kyouko then further recalls the next two times she saw Yuma: first, months later after Sayaka's death, in a chance encounter at a store where she had revealed she was doing "research" with Oriko, and second, two years after that, when Kyouko, Mami, and Homura had saved her after the deaths of Oriko and the rest of her team. After that, they had Befriended her, and once Yuma recovered she joined them as one of the Mitakihara Four. Eventually Yuma had told them what had really happened the night Oriko, and they resolved to keep it secret.

As Kyouko arrives at MSY Governmental Affairs to see Yuma, she recalls finally Homura telling Yuma that the Goddess provided an afterlife for magical girls, the only time Kyouko ever heard her say it out loud.

In short: Kyouko remembers how Yuma ended up joining the Mitakihara Four.

Chapter 8: "Church and State"

Yuma runs out to greet Kyouko like an older sister, herself having taken on a nine-year-old form, and Kyouko is greeted by her Goverance partner MG as well. Kyouko and Yuma then meet privately to discuss the irregularities in the grief cube supply chain, and the further reports of magical girls going missing, and Yuma agrees to investigate. When Kyouko brings up the grief cube incident with Ryouko, Yuma immediately deduces that the grief cubes were super-saturated with grief—a possible state kept very secret, though they don't have a sample to prove it. Before leaving, Kyouko recommends that Yuma visit The Ribbon, but she demures just as Mami always does too, instead giving her an Incubator plushie.

Kyouko checks with Kyubey briefly about the cubes, but he does not provide any new information, and so Kyouko ends up back at her church, where she meets with Patricia von Rohr and Shirou Asaka. Patrica reveals that she kept some of the grief cubes from the incident after sensing something strange about them, and Kyouko tells her to inform Yuma through the plushie, which turned out to be enchanted as a telepathy-enhancer. Kyouko also gets Asaka to agree to share the details of the Goddess's hair with the Theological Council, before going to give a sermon on the terrible fate the Goddess saves magical girls from, and to announce they'll be updating the statue of the Goddess.

In short: Kyouko and Yuma discover that the grief cubes from the incident were super-saturated.

Chapter 9: "Echoes"

Ryouko arrives at Kyouko's church, which holds MSY living quarters and local military facilities underground, in order to get her military upgrades. Patricia and Asaka guide her through the process. Patricia notes that Ryouko has an extremely unusual genetic profile, requiring some adjustments to the process, and then begins the procedure. Ryouko watches in a semi-VR experience as the procedure installs a TacComp, removing implants that are useless for magical girls, and installs a Permanent Awareness Module, among other things. Testing out her new capabilities, Ryouko sends Asaka a memory snapshot of the magical girl who gave her the bracelet she rediscovered after her contract. Asaka reacts oddly, but continues on to show Ryouko the armory and get her equipped with the required basics.

Then she cuts the tour short, instead bringing Ryouko to the Ribbon Chamber. At the Ribbon, Ryouko finds herself in a confusing vision, seeing among other things Yuma at the death of Oriko, Simona looking directly at her on her first day of class, Asaka receiving instruction from the Goddess to wait for the girl who sent her the memory Ryouko did, the Goddess herself briefly showing her face and telling Ryouko to keep it a secret, and the death of Kyouko on some sort of mission involving submarines. Both of them watching, Patricia comments to Clarisse that for a few reasons, including Clarisse's presence, she's not that surprised by the vision.

In short: Ryouko gets a vision from the Goddess.

Chapter 10: "Brigadier"

Ryouko, brought before the Theological Council to relate her vision, talks over her vision of Kyouko's death, determining with them it was on a colony world and that what actually killed Kyouko was likely a laser, not a misfire from the submarines. She keeps the rest of the vision from them, though Asaka deduces easily that she saw the Goddess. Asaka goes on to explain the circumstances of her own vision, where she met again with her dead friend Alice, whose death under her command had torn her apart. Now that she has recovered and her vision is resolved, Asaka tells Ryouko she plans to return to the front with Mami, who has just been promoted.

Later, Kyouko talks with Mami about Ryouko, noting that her family tree is dense with contractees and connected to the Shizuki and Kuroi matriarchies, that Patricia found a number of novel mutations in her genetics, and that her friend Simona has some strange anomalies in her recorded past. Unsure what to make of this, and with no further progress on the grief cube incident, Mami agrees at Kyouko's request to take on Asaka as a general, with Patricia and Maki as two of Asaka's attachment.

In short: Ryouko grapples with her vision, and Asaka explains how her story connects.

Chapter 11: "Remains of a Life"

Ryouko sets up her TacComp and chooses Atsuko Arisu as her designated psychiatrist, then goes out to eat dinner with her family and eventually ends up (through a test of her newfound right to drink alcohol without intoxication filters) bringing them to a firing range at Kyouko's church. There they visit other facilities, including a sparring area where they meeet Risa Flores, but Ryouko's parents are surprisingly well-informed on the subjects. Afterwards, Ryouko and her grandfather visit her spot near the starport, and talk about their impending military lives, and the disappearance of Ryouko's grandmother, both remembering her saying that she had lost something.

Ryouko receives her SW-155 pistol, and her mother tells her she's planned a going away party. Ryouko then meets her friends at a showing of Akemi and finally reveals her contract to them, also inviting them to the party. Watching the movie, Ryouko reflects on Homura's beliefs, and the fact that her vision contradicts the movie's portrayal of Yuma. Afterwards, Ryouko asks Simona what she was going to say to her before the demon attack, but Simona tells her to forget about it. Ryouko also asks about when she looked directly at her on her first day of class (as she saw in her vision), but Simona claims it was nothing.

Elsewhere, Yuma convinces Kyouko to have a spy bug planted on Ryouko for her protection, and warns her to be careful herself given Ryouko's vision.

In short: Ryouko spends time with her family and friends as she prepares to leave for war.

Chapter 12: "Demon Hunter"

Ryouko receives a CubeBot and three grief cubes, then studies combat doctrines with her TacComp until Kyouko invites her to join a demon hunt. Patricia and Risa meet her at Kyouko's church, where Kyouko appears briefly but leaves, clearly bothered by the impending departure of Kishida Maki. On the hunt itself, Ryouko uses her teleportation to rescue civilians, move other magical girls in for attacks, and so forth, finding herself enjoying the combat. The hunt is interrupted by the injury of one girl, who loses an arm and part of her face, but Ryouko simply teleports them to the armory hospital, where she is told they will be fine shortly, and the rest of the hunt continues without incident.
In short: Ryouko goes on a demon hunt.

Chapter 13: "Differences of Knowledge"

The next day, Ryouko goes to an MSY social gathering for new recruits, finding Risa Flores there as a chaperone, and meets a new girl named Nakihara Asami, who shares her desire to explore new worlds, albeit as a xenobiologist. They get along well, and continue on to the next scheduled event together. The following day, Ryouko meets Atsuko Arisu for her psychiatrist appointment, who manages to get her freely talking about many things, including her wish, and who also recommends that she talk with her parents about her family ancestry.

That night, Ryouko's father interrupts her reading on military subjects to take her to Prometheus, where she meets Joanne Valentin—who appears to be the woman she saw shortly before the demon attack that led to her contract—and receives an upgrade to Version Two for her TacComp. Afterwards, her father secretly takes her into Prometheus's cloning facility where he and her mother work, which he explains is used to provide new bodies to magical girls who are reduced to soul gems. Ryouko is shocked, especially upon seeing the beginning stages of her own clone, and bothered at the secrets kept from her.

In short: Ryouko learns about the MSY's cloning program.

Chapter 14: "Bloodlines"

Yuma, Kyouko, and Mami decide Ryouko's discovery of the cloning program isn't a problem, and discuss the incident that led to Ryouko's contract. Mami remembers seeing Joanne Valentin at the movie theatre shortly afterwards, and Yuma confirms that she was the woman near the demon spawn, and moreover that she mysteriously changed her whole life shortly after the Contact War began. Investigations into Simona and the grief cube supply chain problems Kyouko reported have unearthed more discrepancies, but nothing major, and Risa Flores hasn't reported anything from her watch over Ryouko, and so they disperse.

Back at home, Ryouko reads the file on her family with her improving TacComp, and discovers that her grandmother is stationed at the Apollo shipyard. Moreover, when viewing her family tree she finds much of it explicitly redacted, with the revealed portions being enough to show that she was a descendant of both the Shizuki and Kuroi Matriarchies. Later, Ryouko's mother comes to talk to her, and Ryouko confronts her about the secrets she's kept. Nakase says she's kept the secrets to prevent Ryouko from contracting, and will explain more tomorrow at the going away party.

The next day, Ryouko receives a number of gifts, including a necklace with the Shizuki crest from Shizuki Koto, her paternal grandfather, and a ruby ring with a helix inside, one of a pair from Simona. Kyouko arrives, and informs Ryouko that both her grandparents will be placed in slightly safer positions as part of standard procedure, her grandmother in particular being moved to the shipyards. Next to arrive is Matriarch Kuroi Kana, who begins an attempt to recruit Ryouko into the Black Heart (and reveals that Ryouko's bracelet is in fact a Kuroi insignia), but she is immediately followed by Matriarch Shizuki Sayaka and her own recruiting pitch. Kyouko's poor intervention is followed by Atsuko Arisu's successful one—her presence at the party revealing that she must be related somehow to Ryouko.

This is all further interrupted by the sudden appearance of Kuroi Nana, the magical girl who gave Ryouko her Kuroi bracelet and until now her entirely secret aunt, a fact which displeases Ryouko greatly. Kuroi Nana brings her aside, promising to help explain the situation, and revealing that she's part of the secret Internal Security, and has been searching for Akemi Homura on behalf of the MSY. With that said, they begin a memory transfer.

In short: Ryouko meets Kuroi Nana, her previously-secret aunt.

Chapter 15: "Samsara"

Ryouko experiences her aunt's memories. Nana investigates the strange behavior of her younger sister, finding with the help of a computer specialist that her sister's new friends weren't who they seemed, and secretly following them on a demon hunt. Nakase, in reality a magical girl, rushes to save Nana when demons attack, getting gravely injured in the process. Nana contracts to turn her sister mundane again, to her sister's relief. However, all this seriously strains their family, as their mother isn't allowed to know about the MSY. When Homura offers to mentor Nana, she accepts, and all but leaves the family. After New Athens revealed the MSY, Ryouko's grandmother blamed it for both her mother's death and her family's troubles, and insisted that Ryouko be kept from contracting.

After Ryouko surfaces from the memories, Nana closes off by telling Ryouko that she had just reconciled with Ryouko's grandmother, and they rejoin the party.

In short: Ryouko learns more of her family history from her aunt.

Chapter 16: "Light of the Sky"

Ryouko says goodbye to friends and family at the starport, journeying with Asami by scramjet and then space elevator. While riding the elevator, Ryouko's TacComp names herself Clarisse after Clarisse van Rossum, and Ryouko muses that her wish may have somehow changed the past, causing all the sudden revelations of the past week. At the top, the new magical girls take a Navigator shuttle to the HSS Spectre, an old frigate, who leads them around herself. When they reach the FTL core, Ryouko's gem suddenly begins to shine.
In short: Ryouko finally leaves Earth with Asami.

Interlude I: Underworld Dreams

Unusually, this a title with relatively direct meanings.
Kugimiya Ito dreams of his old girlfriend Nakanishi Aiko, as he digs into a transformed Japanese underworld.

Interlude I: Underworld Dreams 17

Kugimiya Ito, a police detective in Mitakihara, investigates the disappearance of a local teenage girl with his junior partner. Meeting the girl's parents makes him suspect abuse is the culprit, and reminds him of his old teenage sweetheart Nakanishi Aiko, who disappeared in similar circumstances. Back at headquarters, while analyzing the case's evidence electronically, he happens upon an image of the girl meeting what looks to him like Aiko. When he confronts the missing girl's friends about the Aiko-lookalike, they unconvincingly deny knowing anything until a Yakuza-affiliated lawyer suddenly shows up. Investigating this lead leads him to a D&E logistics building, where he's confronted by Yakuza and nearly killed for knowing too much, until Aiko suddenly intervenes, still the same age as when she disappeared.

Reeling, and told to drop the case by Aiko, Ito returns to headquarters, only to be met by an Interpol agent who has been tracking similar mysterious cases. Ito is asked to make contact with Aiko again and investigate further. He successfully makes contact, and is brought to D&E headquarters with his partner, to be greeted by Aiko, who treats him just like she did when they were dating, to his embarrassed pleasure. They meet the CEO of D&E, who turns out to be Sakura Kyouko under an assumed name, and who explains the situation, including the fact that they already knew about the Interpol investigation. Ito agrees to drop the investigation if he can confirm for himself that the missing girl is alright, and afterward retires to be with Aiko again.

In short: A police detective happens across his long-missing girlfriend and discovers she was part of an MSY Yakuza takeover.

Volume II: Inflationary Expansion

This is the universe's theorized early period of exponential inflation.
Here, it likely refers to the escalation of plot and stakes, especially for Ryouko.

Volume Summary

Ryouko completes her military simulation training, growing close to Asami, and gets her first taste of real combat shortly afterwards as her convoy is unexpectedly and suspiciously attacked by Ceph fighters. After Ryouko's successful defense there, Asami suddenly confesses her feelings to Ryouko, who doesn't know how to respond, and then both are recalled to the tip of the Euphratic Incursion, where the first attempt to destroy the wormhole stabilizer has failed.

Ryouko is assigned to a MagOps team, and begins training while still wrestling with family and relationship confusion, including the sudden revelation of her TacComp Clarisse's sentience. The eventual battle begins poorly, as the wormhole unexpectedly activates right at the start. Ryouko's team presses on, only to find the mission much more difficult than expected, and they slowly attrit team members. They finally destroy the wormhole stabilizer, but as the Goddess reveals in a vision, the Ceph had already amassed a stealthed fleet large enough to take the system. Having realized that her power uses wormholes, Ryouko reopens the Ceph's wormhole and sends the fleet back through, saving the day.

However, the battle was not without its casualties - Asami lost her body after nearly grief-spiraling upon hearing of Ryouko's apparent death, Ryouko's grandmother dies in a Ceph raid, and Erwynmark dies as well, among others. Coming to grips with her sudden fame and new life amidst memorial services and the news of her parents' divorce, Ryouko decides to become Asami's girlfriend. But there are more surprises in store: as the Goddess - who Ryouko discovers she is distantly related to - reveals in another vision, Ryouko will find herself caught up in even greater events soon enough.

In short: Ryouko delivers the Battle of Orpheus, and connects with Asami, as her old life falls away.

Chapter 18: "To the Ground"

The General Staff watches as a MagOps mission to take out the wormhole stabilizer fails, all members killed, after they are detected teleporting through Orpheus's atmosphere. Afterwards, Mami dreams of her past failures, disturbing her TacComp Machina.

On the planet Giungla, Ryouko is embedded in a military unit along with other magical girls, fighting against a Ceph invasion. She goes off mostly on her own to successfully rescue a soldier from her unit, and then joins up with a team of magical girls to teleport into an alien attack column, again with significant success.

In short: The initial attempt to destroy the wormhole stabilizer fails, as Ryouko gains combat experience elsewhere.

Chapter 19: "To the Sky"

Finding that she enjoys the combat, Ryouko works hard to sustain the human forces, but the arrival of a major Ceph fleet in system forces a general evacuation. They begin taking heavy losses, and Ryouko quickly becomes acting-Commander. Asami dies, Ryouko enters emotional suppression, and just barely escapes... only to suddenly wake up from the accelerated VR simulation.

Calmed by Clarisse and relieved to see Asami alive, Ryouko heads back to their shared room in the training center on New Athens. Clarisse recommends that they read some "messages" together, which turn out to be relationship proposals for Ryouko. Asami comments that she had been warned this might happen, due to Ryouko's mentors and heritage. The next day, Asami tells Ryouko that her wish was for her parents to stay together and understand each other, and Ryouko relays her own wish, as they look forward together towards the end of training.

In short: Ryouko and Asami finish simulation training.

Chapter 20: "Relativity"

Kishida Maki remembers how she contracted and later met Kyouko, dating, but breaking up after a fight over Maki's decision to head to the front, and Kyouko's refusal to explain her history with Miki Sayaka, a near lookalike. Stationed on Apollo with Patricia and Asaka, Maki then heads out, completing another mission aboveground to secure a building back from the Ceph.

Headed to Acheron with Asami and new friend from training Meiqing, Ryouko suddenly notices a bright flash from her soul gem. Soon, the source is discovered by the ship, Laplace, to be Ceph fighters. The early warning allows them to dodge the initial missile attack, but eschewing standard doctrine, the Ceph turn around for another assault, forcing the transport's magical girl's to fight them in space combat, with Ryouko taking charge. The fight goes well, but the final ship detonates its core in a desperate but futile attempt to kill them.

While recovering from the ensuing protective fugue, Clarisse reveals to Ryouko that she has uncovered the memory of her vision, and is in fact sentient. Afterwards, they arrive at Acheron, minor heroes, and Ryouko and Asami attend a celebration of October Three together.

In short: Ryouko's convoy is attacked unsuccessfully by Ceph fighters.

Chapter 21: "Discontinuity"

Mami, Kyouko, and Yuma meet virtually to celebrate October Three, and discuss the mysteriousness of Simona, the unlikely and seemingly irresponsible attack on Ryouko's convoy, and think of the missing Homura they used to celebrate with.

Ryouko talks with her mother about training and suitors, but fails to mention the attack on her convoy. Ryouko then goes with Asami to see a basketball game, and then to a volcanic spa, noting that Asami is acting strangely, and finding that she isn't enjoying the time on a colony world herself as much as she expected. At the spa, Asami suddenly confesses her romantic feelings to a stunned Ryouko, who promises to think about it - they have little time to reflect, as they are at that moment recalled to active duty in the Kepler-37 system, the tip of the Euphratic Incursion.

In short: Asami confesses her feelings to Ryouko.

Chapter 22: "Shifting Winds"

Now on Mami's flagship, the HHS Zhukov, and unable to stop thinking about Asami, Ryouko is awarded a medal for her performance during the Ceph attack on her convoy by the Field Marshall. Mami then brings her to the bridge, where they enter simulation as Mami explains the strategic situation. This is interrupted by a perfunctory Ceph attack, which Ryouko watches from simulation.

Afterwards, they reenter the simulation to meet Erwynmark, and Ryouko is told about the planned second wormhole mission, which requires her teleportation capabilities. Ryouko is to be sent down to Apollo to meet with the rest of the team (and her grandfather) to prepare.

Resting after the earlier battle, Mami dreams of the destruction of her apartment by Oriko, which reunited her with Kyouko, and of other old memories, followed by a strange dream in which she and some unknown girl important to her were in a plane crash.

In short: Ryouko is assigned to the second wormhole stabilizer mission on Orpheus.

Chapter 23: "Lost Love"

Along with others, Mami plans Humanity's counteroffensive to support the Orpheus mission and end the Euphratic Incursion. Meeting with Erwynmark, who will also lead the battle, they conclude that their success rests on the MagOps mission.

Ryouko thinks of her friends - including Chiaki on Earth, who always teased Ryouko about relationships - and ends up calling Meiqing, who insists that she call Asami, who is broken up over Ryouko's non-answer to her confession. However, there isn't time, as the HSS Raven brings her down to Apollo, where Ryouko meets up with her grandfather, who was seriously injured in the fighting but recovering easily. They share some time together, as Ryouko informs him that she's going on a dangerous mission. Her grandfather tells Ryouko that her family already knew about the attack on her convoy, and that he finally managed to find and talk with his wife again, who wants to talk with Ryouko as well once there's a chance.

In short: Ryouko delays talking to Asami, and meets her grandfather on Apollo.

Chapter 24: "Historian"

Ryouko's new MagOps team practices working together on Apollo fighting the Ceph. Their team practice and bonding is later interrupted by the announcement of yet another new team member: Clarisse van Rossum, Ryouko's childhood hero and, as it turns out, personal friend of team commander Nadya Antipova. They immediately return to mission simulations, first knowing they were simulations, and later not, failing often - with Ryouko regretting not contacting Asami earlier in her apparent final moments.

Recovering from this, the team socializes, and Clarisse van Rossum tells Ryouko that she should talk to Asami even if she doesn't know what to say. Finally, Ryouko does so, telling her about the dangerous mission she's on, and asking her to survive the upcoming battle too so they can resolve things afterward. They end the call somewhat comforted, but Asami finds herself still worried and unsure.

That night, resting, Ryouko has a mysterious seeming dream-vision, including a moment in the Cult's rose garden on Earth where her mother speaks strange things and almost appears to be someone else unknown.

In short: Clarisse van Rossum joins the wormhole team, and convinces Ryouko to contact Asami.

Chapter 25: "Piercing the Sky"

Waiting on the HSS Raven, Clarisse and Ryouko find themselves ruminating on the possibility of their death, and the Goddess's promised afterlife for magical girls. Juliet Francois and Clarisse van Rossum both ask about Ryouko's visions, but she defers, stating she doesn't think they were relevant to the current mission.

Mami begins the Human offensive, for her part attempting to draw Ceph forces away from Orpheus. While it initially appears a success, the wormhole stabilizer which was thought to be still under construction suddenly activates, and hordes of reinforcements begin pouring through.

In short: The Orpheus mission begins poorly, as the wormhole stabilizer activates before it even begins.

Chapter 26: "Blood and Ichor"

Clarisse van Rossum decides the MagOps team must act immediately. Donning magitech armor, Ryouko teleports the team straight from low orbit to what looks to be the key stabilizer core for the wormhole stabilizer. After efficiently clearing out enemy personnel, Nadya announces that there are what appears to be twelve separate stabilizer cores, rather than the single expected one, of which perhaps up to four are real. They detonate a nuke on the closest core, teleporting away towards the next one.

This time they encounter even more waiting Ceph, and clear them out with more difficulty. Suddenly, right when two fighters attack, a Ceph sniper takes shots at Eva Guderian and Ryouko, killing Eva instantly and shattering Ryouko's arm. In a rage, Ryouko teleports on top of the sniper and slaughters it.

In short: The wormhole stabilizer survives an intended killing blow, and Ryouko loses control after Eva Guderian is killed.

Chapter 27: "Those Brilliant Shining Stars"

Shocked at herself and slowly recovering, Ryouko realizes that her soul gem is not only pulling her towards the wormhole, but also reacting to the true stabilizer cores - and the one they lost Eva Guderian attacking is a fake.

The fleet battle in system is going poorly, and Erwynmark defers to Mami, who decides they must continue to hold out in hopes of destroying the wormhole.

The Orpheus team quickly finds and destroys a second stabilizer core with their last nuke, leaving still two more. The Ceph begin firing artillery at the third core when they arrive, forcing Clarisse van Rossum to seize their barrier generator Zheng Ying-Zhi's soul gem to save her life. Clarisse van Rossum then executes a powerful attack that vaporizes the core, but knocks her unconscious.

Unexpectedly targeted, Erwynmark's ship the HSS Arminius recommends evacuation. Erwynmark's escapes the ship with his bodyguards, but Ceph interceptors somehow find his stealthed ship and chase it down, killing him.

In short: The Orpheus team destroys two more wormhole stabilizer cores, but Erwynmark is killed.

Chapter 28: "Invictus"

The Orpheus team learns that the HSS Raven, along with her remaining crew, has been discovered and destroyed, all but eliminating any hope of escape. Misa Virani gives her soul gem to Clarisse van Rossum and takes advantage of the moon's electrical properties to generate an awe-inspiring electrical discharge, destroying the last wormhole stabilizer core. The wormhole above collapses violently, and the remainder of the team is suddenly caught in temporal/spatial distortions that threaten to rip them apart.
In short: Misa Virani destroys the final wormhole stabilizer and the wormhole collapses, trapping the rest of the team.

Chapter 29: "Deus ex gemma"

Ryouko suddenly recalls a lecture given by Joanne Valentin, and realizes that her teleportation uses wormholes, and that she can use the broken spacetime around them to teleport the team off the moon. At the same time, Ryouko realizes she's with the Goddess, in a vision - this time, with Clarisse her TacComp too. The Goddess shows them Patricia von Rohr and Kishida Maki on Apollo, hard-pressed by the Ceph. Shirou Asaka manages to get forces in to save them, but Maki loses her body. They are also shown an unknown woman commander in the Apollo shipyards, who is killed by a Ceph commando raid.

Following that, Asami and her Magi Cæli team are shown defending the space around Apollo with some success, despite incredible new Ceph stealth capabilities. Attempting to extract, the team is suddenly caught and scattered, Asami seriously injured and placed into a MedEvac. A sudden announcement from Tomoe Mami that the wormhole was destroyed at the apparent cost of the team involved, including Ryouko, sends Asami into a despair spiral, and her body is ejected into space to preserve her soul gem. Finally, Ryouko is shown Mami, who is pressing the apparent advantage at the destruction of the wormhole, even as she mourns the dead.

The Goddess then talks with Ryouko, revealing the Ceph trap - a huge cloaked fleet which had already come through the wormhole, enough to retake the system easily. The Goddess tells her to reopen the wormhole and send the fleet back, ending the vision. To her team's amazement, she does just that, and then just barely teleports them to Zhukov's bridge before blacking out.

In short: The Goddess has Ryouko send back a cloaked Ceph fleet through a wormhole, saving the battle.

Chapter 30: "Call to Power"

Mami and Atsuko Arisu perform a dream interrogation of Ryouko - and also Clarisse her TacComp, which complicates their attempt to loosen her up, as does the secret blocking of telepathic investigation by Clarisse van Rossum. Ryouko only explains that her power uses wormholes, and about her memory of the Joanne Valentin lecture that triggered the realization, avoiding religious questions. Ryouko meets afterwards with some of the Orpheus team, and is warned of the coming scrutiny she'll endure as a hero by Clarisse van Rossum and the revived Zheng Ying-Zhi.

Ryouko learns from her devastated grandfather that her grandmother was killed, and realizes she saw it in her vision. She attends the first of three memorial services in her near future, for the dead of the Orpheus team.

In a surprise to Mami, the General Staff and Military Affairs, in accordance with Erwynmark's wishes, select her as the new Chair.

In short: Mami becomes the new Chair of the General Staff.

Chapter 31: "Aspects of Love"

On the planet Bismarck for Erwynmark's memorial, Ryouko meets with Patricia von Rohr and Kyouko, along with a couple of local kids, finding herself surprisingly distant from the latter due to her experiences. Ryouko admits to Kyouko that the Goddess came to her in a vision on Orpheus to tell her about the cloaked fleet, and is afterwards unknowingly accosted by a seductive Shizuki until Patricia saves her. Patricia informs her that Kishida Maki is still taking Kyouko's continued absence hard, and that she is struggling herself, before collecting a more in-depth genetic sample from Ryouko. Later that day, Mami, attending virtually, gives Erwynmark's eulogy.
In short: Ryouko comes to grips with her newfound fame at Erwynmark's memorial.

Chapter 32: "Decisions, Implications"

Ryouko meets with her family at the starport, only to find her parents have divorced. Still shaken, she heads immediately to Asami's revival, comforting her, and finding herself unexpectedly comforted herself to have Asami back.

After briefly meeting Asami's family, Ryouko and Asami head out to meet Ryouko's friends. While waiting, Asami tells Ryouko how unhappy she is in combat, and, consoling her, Ryouko comes to a decision and agrees to become her girlfriend… right as Simona, Ruiko, and Chiaki arrive. Simona retreats to the bathroom, and Chiaki covers for her, instead planning the rest of the day. They go on to a restaurant and have a sleepover, the only disturbance being the strange arrival of Kyubey, who claims only to be visiting.

At Ryouko's grandmother's funeral, Ryouko discovers from her aunt that her psychiatrist Atsuko Arisu is in fact the grandmother of Ryouko's grandmother. After the ceremony, which Ryouko finds she can't connect to, she is suddenly given a memory recording from a friend of her grandmother's. The memory reveals that her grandmother's grandfather was Kaname Tatsuya, once the younger brother of Kaname Madoka, the Goddess. Tatsuya makes Homura promise to keep Ryouko's grandmother out of the MSY, as he warns darkly of the future that would become the Unification Wars, recalling in particular his daughter-in-law's wish for vengeance.

Ryouko rushes with Asami to the Ribbon, with both Kyubey and Kyouko showing up to watch. A vision ensues, and the Goddess explains that she is indeed related to Ryouko, as hinted previously, and that she tries to limit her interventions in the world, so that people can live their own lives. She explains that Ryouko has the special burden of having less freedom to live her own life, and that she will be called upon again.

Teleporting out immediately from the Ribbon Chamber to avoid questions, Ryouko learns that Asami also received a vision, assuaging her worries and including helpful relationship advice. Before Ryouko can digest that, Joanne Valentin and Shizuki Sayaka show up at her door with a proposal.

In short: Ryouko becomes Asami's girlfriend, and finds out she's distantly related to the Goddess and will feature in her plans again.

Interlude II: Madeleines

Madeleines (small sponge cakes) feature in Proust's "In Search of Lost Time", a famous French novel noted for its theme of involuntary memory.
Likewise, this interlude centers on the peculiar role of memory in an episode of Asaka's past. The first snippet even includes relevant sections from Proust's novel.

Chapter 33: "Madeleines"

Shirou Asaka wakes from a strange recurring dream in which she has lost someone important to her, as a magical girl in some sort of crazy alien war. Alice Lynwood, her wife, has finally succeeded in convincing Asaka to get it checked out, but less successful in convincing her to finally have a baby.

In a professional VR game playing as magical girls in WWII with her second-in-command Madhuri, Asaka finds she needs to sacrifice her to win the game and suddenly starts thinking she's somehow actually Alice. The game is then suddenly cut short by an apparent critical server simulation error, but Asaka's growing unease is again washed away by the joy of her life with Alice.

Tanaka Yui, Asaka's therapist, suggests doing a dream study, and Patricia von Rohr comes to visit, both times bringing up little oddities or inconsistencies in Asaka's views. The dream study returns an apparent suppressed memory, but one involving magical girls and an alien war that Asaka can't remember experiencing. Suddenly all of reality seems to be changing - Madhuri, her location, magical girls. Finally running a full internal diagnostic, Asaka remembers what truly happened: she was forced to send her girlfriend Alice to her death to win a battle in the Contact War. Unable to process it, Asaka had Reformatted herself and put herself inside a VR simulation where she could live with Alice. Tanaka Yui had been helping her face the truth after breaking into the simulation, along with Patricia von Rohr and Madhuri, and even Asaka's own internal representation of Alice. Patricia tells Asaka afterwards that Alice had planned on proposing.

In short: Asaka's self-Reformat and VR simulation are undone, and she begins to come to grips with her lover Alice's death.

Volume III: Ontological Paradox

In an ontological paradox, events occur as part of a causal loop: an 'initial' event, in terms of linear time, eventually causes itself.
This may refer to the nature of Ryouko's wish and/or the logic of the Goddess's interventions.

Volume Summary

In short:

Chapter 34: "The Bonds that Make Us"

Ryouko, her mother, and Asami attend Yuma's birthday party via VR from Eurydome, where Ryouko was brought by Valentin and Shizuki Sayaka for wormhole research. Kyouko brings up Ryouko's visions in front of her mother, and Ryouko is forced to explain, choosing to also forward the memory she received from her grandmother.

Mami intervenes in an argument between Kyouko and Yuma about Kishida Maki, and brings them to Ryouko. Ryouko is reminded of her first vision, where she saw Yuma, and which seemed to contradict her official history - she even tells Kyouko this. Ryouko then goes to Clarisse van Rossum for life advice, and is told that she needs to talk over her desires for an extraordinary life with Asami, who wants a more domestic life.

Away from the party, Yuma explains to Kuroi Nakase, Ryouko's mother, that Ryouko is probably the most genetically sure contract in history, and moreover, that she has a genetically-engineered second, hidden genome. Nakase knew only that Ryouko was likely to contract given her ancestry, and when pressed for information as to how she got the birth license, suddenly collapses - a non-fatal defense mechanism apparently built into tampered memories.

In short: At Yuma's party, Ryouko's mother learns that Ryouko was genetically engineered.

Chapter 35: "Causality"

Mami learns from Marianne Francois's grief cube supply chain report that in a few rare cases for the past 10 years, there have been severe shortages followed by surpluses, where they would hurt the war effort the least. Mami is disturbed by not only the report, but also her unintended reading of Marianne's mind.

Ryouko and Clarisse go over her visions, realizing that Simona was tank-born and seemingly knew her before they met, and that Goddess likely manipulated the events leading to Ryouko's contract.

Mami, in a meeting with the Directorate, is asked to investigate a distress signal from a cult's colony which was thought to have been destroyed en route to an entirely different planet. Elsewhere, Kyouko promises to tell Yuma to explain her past to MG, and receives from MG a recording of what happened with Kuroi Nakase at Yuma's party.

In short: Mami receives orders to investigate a mysterious colony.

Chapter 36: "Chasing Ghosts"

Ryouko learns in a call from her friends on Earth that Simona has moved away, and afterwards meets with Kuroi Nana and Kyouko, who ask her to join a mission to investigate a cult's colony related to Homura, and to consider an offer from Kuroi Kana to more generally join the intelligence services.

Kuroi Nana departs after being given the memory file from Ryouko's grandmother, but Kyouko accompanies Ryouko to the lab, ITG, and they discuss Ryouko's visions a bit. Experimenting at the lab, the gravity generators go haywire, and the lab nearly collapses - Ryouko is saved by Kyouko and Asami, but Asami is seriously injured. In the hospital afterwards, Ryouko tells Asami and her mother about the apparent attempt on her life that led to her contract. Kyouko explains that the incident at ITG appears to be another such attack. Ryouko decides to join the proffered mission, which Asami accepts on the condition that she come too.

In short: Ryouko survives an attempt on her life at ITG.

Chapter 37: "Seraphim"

Kyouko convinces Mami to let her on the colony mission due to the Homura connection, and Mami tells Kyouko about the mysterious sudden failure of Misa Virani's soul gem. However, Mami becomes inordinately emotional when discussing the necessity of ordering an investigative mind-read, and she later dreams of training mind-reading abilities that she doesn't remember.

Ryouko and Asami are taught defensive telepathic techniques en route to their mission, and Asami confides to Ryouko that the Goddess told her to stick with Ryouko for her safety. They then meet with Azrael Maslanka, who tells them both about the true proliferation of rogue colonies, and her own experience on one where she was genetically engineered with wings for flight, before the colony collapsed in civil war.

Later, Ryouko is suddenly summoned to a meeting, where she tells Mami about her vision in which Kyouko was killed. The details match Mami's planned mission exactly and, disturbed, she agrees to allocate more forces.

In short: Ryouko and Asami learn about rogue colonies from Azrael Maslanka.

Chapter 38: "Carpe Diem"

A special sentient probe sent to investigate the cult's colony on X-25 discovers a massive underground structure and comes under heavy fire, and the Directorate approves more forces for the mission in response.

Meiqing turns out to be one of the additional forces, and she, Ryouko, Asami, and Azrael go out hiking together on San Giuseppe while waiting for more reinforcements to arrive. At the top, Asami confides to Ryouko her worries about how much their lives are at risk, and Azrael explains herself to Meiqing.

Finally, the mission begins, with conventional forces taking the surface of the colony on X-25.

In short: The colony on X-25 is discovered to be heavily armed, and the correspondingly reinforced assault on it begins.

Chapter 39: "Indelible Soul"

Ryouko and crew descend to the pacified surface of X-25, and Gracia, to Ryouko's distress, forcibly mind-reads captives to learn that the colony's leader, Grigori DeWitt, has escaped to the bunker with children as hostages. Kyouko manages to convince Mami and Governance to let her lead a MagOps infiltration mission, despite their misgivings that Kyouko is doing so for personal reasons, given her history.

Kyouko chooses to bring Ryouko, Asami, and Meiqing on the mission, among more experienced girls, largely on personal hunch. Mission underway, and despite being hampered by some sort of magical clairvoyance blocking, they quickly discover large numbers of human clones, an apparent attempt to clone magical girls. The attempt to communicate this to the surface is blocked by the hostile telepath, however, and the team is discovered. Clearly personally angered by the situation, Kyouko insists that they fight their way through rather than escape.

In short: The colony on X-25 is discovered to be attempting magical girl cloning.

Chapter 40: "Through a Mirror"

The X-25 team kills a number of guards, only to discover that they are cloned teenagers, heavily implanted, horrifying the rookies into emotional suppression. Gracia manages to determine that the cloned girls are transformed into controlled guards once they failed to contract, and that contracts weren't happening. Kyouko decides that they must find and capture the enemy telepath, before more clones are killed.

They find the enemy magical girl, but before they act to kill her, Asami notices that Ryouko's soul gem is glowing slightly. Off-put by that and everything else that doesn't add up, the team nearly rebels against Kyouko's insistence on attacking the enemy magical girl, until Ryouko manages to convince Kyouko to relent by suggesting that the Goddess placed her on the mission for that reason.

Investigating, Asami detects a Ceph-like stealth device concealing a nuke, Kuroi Nana and Meiqing disabling it right afterwards. An alarm goes up, and the enemy magical girl suddenly pleads for help. The girl, Sacnite Tafani, tells them that DeWitt had been controlling her with the threat of a suicide implant, and had lied about hiding the colony's children in the bunker as bait for the nuclear trap.

In short: Ryouko prevents Kyouko from rushing into a stealthed nuclear trap on X-25.

Chapter 41: "Cause and Effect"

Ruminating over the mission, Ryouko, Asami, and Meiqing decide to visit Sacnite, as Mami makes a limited announcement of the mission to the general public. Mami approves the visit to Sacnite as a propaganda shoot, and Azrael joins them. Comforting Sacnite, Ryouko promises to spend more time with her. Afterwards, Meiqing confides to Ryouko and Asami that the mission has impacted her a lot, and that she's glad she was able to help, given her family's shameful efforts in the Unification Wars to develop the cloned FA Elites.

Having finally determined the whereabouts of DeWitt and the colony's children, Kyouko leads an attack on the stealthed facility, which meets with no resistance. DeWitt, however, manages to kill himself via suicide implant, after claiming he was trying to figure out what blocked magical girls "transcendence". Kyubey then appears, saying that DeWitt had based his beliefs on what Homura had achieved, thinking to have seen her alive on Optatum, and that he was supported by another group which escaped in a cloaked ship. Refusing to say anything more - and strangely calling Kyouko by her personal name - Kyubey disappears, and Kyouko walks off alone to think. Feeling uneasy about the situation, and thinking of her vision, Ryouko follows… only to lose her body saving Kyouko's life from an attack by a supposedly-friendly drone.

In short: Ryouko loses her body saving Kyouko from a sudden drone attack.

Chapter 42: "No Light Without Shadow"

The MSY Leadership Committee meets to discuss recent events, including the attack on Kyouko, the results of the grief cube audit, and the sudden failure of Misa Virani's soul gem, among others, but to no real conclusion. After the meeting, Kyouko is surprised by Atsuko Arisu, her therapist, who to Kyouko's anger tells her both that she should have stepped aside during the X-25 mission and that she should stop hiding from her feelings for Kishida Maki.

With Asami personally guarding Ryouko's soul gem, she, Ryouko's family, Meiqing, and even Sacnite plan to travel to Earth for Ryouko's revival, which has been delayed for unspecified reasons. Meanwhile, both Kuroi Kana and Shizuki Sayaka assign security teams for Ryouko.

Through a VR recreation, Mami reveals to Kyouko, Clarisse van Rossum, and Nadya Antipova that it appears Misa Virani's soul gem was somehow swapped out for another. The soul mage who put the soul gem that failed into stasis saw that it had a meek, shy personality which, she found out later, didn't match Misa's at all. However, the VR review doesn't show any possible moment in which Misa's soul gem could have been swapped.

In short: Mami discovers that Misa Virani is likely alive, her soul gem swapped for another.

Chapter 43: "Story in Silhouette, Part One"

Ryouko finds herself in another vision, in which the Goddess explains that Kyouko, Yuma, and Mami are more fragile than they seem, and that their "phase transition" must be managed carefully. Ryouko looks, and sees…

Yuma, noting that Kyouko is being pushed into finally confronting her relationship problems and that they need to help her, tells Mami and MG about her past with the Southern Group, and about Miki Sayaka

Yuma's abusive parents, unable to pay debts, attempt to sell her to the Yakuza, until the Southern Group suddenly intervenes. They kill the Yakuza, but Mikuni Oriko is seriously injured, and Yuma wishes to heal her. Yuma memory of this is patchy, though, and Oriko informs Yuma that the Yakuza killed her parents, so she'll take her in. Under Oriko's tutelage, Yuma lives a good life and learns much, but she can see that the Southern Group is vicious to others and generally hated. Oriko favors Yuma, to the other members' chagrin, and shares secrets like her efforts to try to bring Kyouko and Sayaka together before splitting them apart, and her work to saturate grief cubes, which Yuma later accidentally discovers leads to demon spawns.

Uneasy with her new life, Yuma runs into Sayaka, who is clearly very troubled herself, explaining that she was in Southern Group territory to die trying to destroy their evil. Instead, Sayaka takes Yuma to dinner. Yuma runs into Yakuza on the way back, but Sayaka appears, killing them before disappearing - though a shocked Yuma manages to reattach one's head and save his life.

Later, Yuma learns that Sayaka had died fighting a horde of demons at a violin concert, and pieces together the truth: Oriko, using her power to see the future and saturated grief cubes Yuma had made, purposefully spawned the demons to kill Sayaka.

In the present day, Yuma explains that she wants to tell Kyouko all this, so that she won't blame herself for Sayaka's death, but has been afraid to since she was involved. After talking this over, Yuma continues the story for MG's sake…

Clarisse van Rossum visits Oriko and Yuma, telling Oriko that there may be some merit to Homura's strange belief in a Goddess, and passing Yuma an anonymous message saying she has the potential to change things, and that Oriko only sees what she tries to see.

Life finally calms down for Yuma after this, though her studies accelerate, as Oriko uses magic to enhance her mind.

In short: Yuma reveals that Oriko caused Miki Sayaka's death.

Chapter 44: "Story in Silhouette, Part Two"

Ryouko's vision continues, as she watches Yuma retell her past to Mami and MG

Upset at Oriko's use of saturated grief cubes to kill others, Yuma sabotages the machine used to make them, but Oriko's machinations continue, with team leaders like Kuroi Kana forced to come and beg for the return of captured members. One night, another team led by Tanaka Yui attacks, Yuma just barely escaping - or so she thought, as she instead leads the attackers right to the rest of the Southern Group. But before the ensuing battle, Yuma finds that the rest of her team is torturing and killing other magical girls to absorb their powers.

Fleeing in horror, Yuma finds herself taken in at a church, where she finds the Yakuza man whose life she saved earlier. He explains that he had saved a number of girls held by the Yakuza and was now on the run, trying to do good and live a better life as atonement. Yuma talks with the priest sheltering him, and he tells her she should forgive herself for not stopping everything that's happened. That night, Yuma receives a message from Kuroi Kana, which helps her to realize that Oriko had in fact had her parents killed.

Yuma returns to the Southern Group, now under blockade and uneasy. Oriko claims that they are still on the path towards eliminating the Yakuza and bringing about a better world, but Yuma decides that they must be destroyed. Taking the advice passed on by Clarisse van Rossum, Yuma manipulates the Southern Group in order to change the future without Oriko noticing. Eventually, during an already difficult demon fight, she spawns hordes more demons using saturated grief cubes, and manages to turn her team members against each other. All but Oriko are killed, and Oriko finally realizes what has happened. Telling Yuma there may still be hope for her, she crushes her own soul gem.

Warning obscurely that a crisis is coming, the Goddess ends Ryouko's vision.

In short: Yuma explains how and why she killed the Southern Group.

Chapter 45: "The Body Electric"

Back on Earth, Asami is still unable to face the results of her wish, and longs for Ryouko to return - which she does, along with Clarisse, to their surprise. Clarisse tells Ryouko that the Goddess explained she does have a soul, and that her body would be regenerated by Ryouko's soul gem. Valentin explains that the delay in the revival was due to both Clarisse's regeneration and some necessary handling for Ryouko's unique genetics. Ryouko then meets her friends, including Sacnite, who is being de-aged physically to match her mental age, and her new matriarchy bodyguards, who get along poorly.

Kyouko bursts in soon after, followed by Yuma, who oddly both make a point of asking Ryouko if she was told why her revival was delayed. It soon becomes clear that Yuma is using Ryouko to confront Kyouko about her behavior, and in the ensuing argument Kyouko reveals she already figured out Yuma and Oriko were involved in Miki Sayaka's death. After Yuma departs, Ryouko tells Kyouko about her vision, mollifying her until the subject of Kishida Maki comes up.

Having walked out in a rage despite knowing Ryouko, like everyone else, is right about Maki, Kyouko visits the Ribbon. In the ensuing vision, Kyouko meets her little sister Sakura Momo, who tells her to move on from her past. Kyouko then descends onto a beach where she finds Miki Sayaka, who finally convinces Kyouko to try reconciling with Kishida Maki, and who also shows Kyouko a glimpse of eternity.

In short: Kyouko is comforted by her sister and Miki Sayaka in a vision.

Chapter 46: "Wheels Within Wheels"

Eating dinner with Kyouko and her friends and family, Ryouko is surprised by Valentin, who drops by to inform her that Governance would like to use the upcoming movie about her to inform the public about V2 TacComps, casually conveying her regrets that Ryouko's parents had split, especially since she had introduced them.

Kyouko, acting a bit odd, brings the crew shopping the following day, only for them to be suddenly surprised by Kishida Maki, who had apparently been assigned by someone to give Ryouko a message regarding the movie. Kyouko confesses to Maki that she started their relationship because of her similarity to Miki Sayaka, but tells Maki that it had grown beyond that, so she wants to try again. Skeptical, but still in love, Maki accepts her.

Afterwards, Maki explains to Ryouko that the Orpheus movie team would like to bring her to Paris to provide assistance. Ryouko agrees to go, but is uneasy about having her life directed by yet another proposition she can hardly turn down.

At the same time, in Paris, Clarisse van Rossum tells Nadya Antipova that she's discovered Misa Virani likely underwent a Reformat.

In short: Kyouko reconciles with Kishida Maki.

Chapter 47: "City of Lights"

In underground Paris, and bothered by the incongruity of that with her wish, Ryouko meets with her aunt Kuroi Nana. She warns Ryouko that Shizuki Sayaka will try to pull her in, showing her what life on Earth has to offer, and notes that she has opportunities with the Kuroi Matriarchy as well, though it wouldn't be an easy life.

Later, Ryouko and Asami meet with the actors who will play them in the movie, who have altered their appearances to match them exactly. Clarisse also is invited to join them in hologram form, and they go to the set to act out scenes. Thinking on her reenacted past, Ryouko finds she misses the meaningfulness of the war.

At a bar that night, they come across a mysterious friend of Ryouko's actor counterpart, who invites them to a VR facility.

In short: In Paris, Ryouko uneasily cooperates with Orpheus's production.

Chapter 48: "To Know Thyself…"

Hidden in Paris, Kyouko, Yuma, Clarisse van Rossum, and Nadya Antipova meet to discuss the apparent conspiracies in action. Yuma reveals that they've investigated Ryouko's genetic anomalies further, and found an entirely novel portion of the brain, of still-unknown purpose.

On the way to the VR center, Ryouko and crew are stopped by a sudden inexplicable power loss, and then are dragged away by a sudden massive demon spawn.

Yuma relays this info to the rest, realizing Shizuki Sayaka's plan to secretly investigate Ryouko's brain in a VR session is being actively thwarted by a deliberate demon spawn. Nadya notes that the power outage looks almost like Misa's handiwork.

The demon hunt isn't easy, but Ryouko is aided by a pair of magical girls who refuse to identify themselves. Not long afterwards, a messenger from Kuroi Kana appears, revealing that the mystery woman accompanying them is in fact Shizuki Sayaka, and further revealing the planned VR scan.

Brought to a secret location, Ryouko is told by Kuroi Kana and Kuroi Nana about the genetic engineering that had been done to her, along with the fact that her parents were unaware and their memories altered. The need to examine Ryouko further, and the apparent attempt to prevent this, are also explained. Ryouko, overwhelmed, leaves to be alone with Asami.

In short: Ryouko learns that she was genetically engineered.

Chapter 49: "Transition State"

In short:

Chapter 50: "Sub Rosa"

In short:

Chapter 51: "Eternal Search"

In short:

Chapter 52: "Who We Are"

In short:

More chapters expected; Volume currently incomplete.

Interlude III: Manifest Destiny

Manifest Destiny is a term describing the belief that the United States, due to its special virtues, had both a duty and a destiny to expand west into North America.
It also describes similar beliefs in the MSY during its fifth phase, as it reached further and further beyond the island nation of Japan. Perhaps may detail its struggle and eventual merger with the rival SMC in Europe.

Volume IV: Einstein-Rosen Bridge

An Einstein-Rosen Bridge is a hypothetical way of connecting two spacetime coordinates; in other words, a wormhole.
The subject of Ryouko's power and the Cephalopod's wormhole tech will likely feature.

Interlude IV: Ubermensch

Übermensch is Nietzsche's idea that humanity should turn away from the other worlds and values promoted by "dead" religions and gods, setting instead the goal of advancing new, superior generations of humans on earth.
This may refer to FA ideologies, or even aspects of Governance thought. It notably stands in contrast to Ryouko's life and wish.

Volume V: Dark Energy

Dark energy is a proposed form of energy that drives the accelerating expansion of the universe towards eventual heat death.
This may imply topics ranging from the role of the Incubators to the magical girl system itself.

Interlude V: Destroyer of Worlds

Part of a quote by the god Vishnu in the Bhagavad Gita, "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." Made famous by J. R. Oppenheimer, who later said he thought of the line after witnessing the first test of an atomic bomb.
Perhaps covers the Unification Wars, which saw heavy use of atomic weapons. May include Clarisse van Rossum's role, a character who notably was also present for the first atomic detonation.

Volume VI: Singularity

A singularity is a point at which a function takes an infinite value, especially in space-time when matter is infinitely dense, as at the center of a black hole. It is also a term used for the hypothetically unknowable changes to the human condition caused by superintelligence.
In former sense, it may reference Ryouko's or Asami's powers. In the latter, perhaps it refers to Governance's Emergency Mode Level Four.

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