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[edit]

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 I 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, protege 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.

(AO3, FFN) 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. However, classes are interrupted by the appearance of Tomoe Mami nearby, who has taken a detour to check the school for potential magical girl 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.

(AO3, FFN) 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.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 3: "Mami Watches a Movie, Part One"

Disguised, Mami attends the movie Akemi. It depicts Homura's upbringing in an orphanage, her wish, and then Sayaka's death, which triggers a vision of the Goddess for Homura that changes her personality markedly. It then depicts Yuma asking to be taken in by Homura, Mami, and Kyouko—a fabrication, the movie-watching Mami notes—and the resulting Mitakihara Four founding the MSY. The movie montages through the MSY's history, jumping ahead to the alien Cephalopod's 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 (movie) depicts Homura's life up until New Athens.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 4: "Mami Watches a Movie, Part Two"

With Mami in attendance, the movie 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 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 by her own power, she leads the counterattack to victory, at the end personally redirecting an orbital superweapon back at the Ceph fleet.

In the final scene of the movie, Kyouko argues to an unconvinced Mami that the battle proves Homura's faith in her Goddess has merit, 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, protecting the world another way. The movie over, Mami begins her departure from Earth, starting her endless work anew with her Version Two TacComp Machina.

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

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 5: "Family"

Kyouko and Ryouko tell Ryouko's family 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 disappointment that Ryouko lied when she promised not to contract, and talking the situation over. After watching Ryouko transform and discussing her weapon, an 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 sticks around to gather information on her family situation as per procedure. Ryouko's grandfather Kuroi Abe willingly helps her out, explaining 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 recalls 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 the swath of informational messages about her new life.

In short: Ryouko tells her family she has contracted.

(AO3, FFN) 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.

(AO3, FFN) 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 grief cube 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, 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 died, and they resolved to keep it secret.

As Kyouko arrives at MSY Governmental Affairs to see Yuma, she lastly recalls 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.

(AO3, FFN) 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 Governance 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, instead giving Kyouko an Incubator plushie.

Kyouko checks with Kyubey briefly about the grief 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. Finally, Kyouko gives a sermon on the terrible fate the Goddess saves magical girls from, and announces that the church will be updating the statue of the Goddess.

In short: Kyouko and Yuma discover that the grief cubes planted near where Ryouko was attacked were super-saturated.

(AO3, FFN) 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, removes 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 van Rossum that for a few reasons, including Clarisse van Rossum's own presence, she's not that surprised Ryouko received a vision.

In short: Ryouko receives a vision from the Goddess.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 10: "Brigadier"

Ryouko, brought before the Theological Council to relate her vision, tells what she saw 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 the council, 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 partner 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 attachments.

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

(AO3, FFN) 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 meet 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 officer's 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.

(AO3, FFN) 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.

(AO3, FFN) 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.

(AO3, FFN) 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 is 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 the next day at the going away party.

At the party, 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.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 15: "Samsara"

Ryouko experiences her aunt's memories, with some explanation provided by a sub-sentient assistant.

In the memories, Kuroi 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, these events seriously strain 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.

It's explained to Ryouko that when 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.

(AO3, FFN) 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[edit]

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

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 17: "Interlude I: Underworld Dreams"

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 under 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 is part of an MSY Yakuza takeover.

Volume II: Inflationary Expansion[edit]

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 II 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 died in a Ceph raid, and Erwynmark died 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.

(AO3, FFN) 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.

(AO3, FFN) 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.

(AO3, FFN) 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 a new friend from training, Meiqing, Ryouko suddenly notices a bright flash from her soul gem. Soon, the cause 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.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 21: "Discontinuity"

Mami, Kyouko, and Yuma meet virtually to celebrate October Three, and discuss the mysteriousness of Simona and the unlikely and seemingly irresponsible attack on Ryouko's convoy, the absence of Homura weighing on them.

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, however, 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.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 22: "Shifting Winds"

Now on Mami's flagship, the HSS 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 the bridge.

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 an unknown girl, somehow important to her, were in a plane crash.

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

(AO3, FFN) 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.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 24: "Historian"

Ryouko's new MagOps team practices working together on Apollo by 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're simulations, and later not, failing often—with Ryouko regretting not contacting Asami 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 in particular 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.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 25: "Piercing the Sky"

Waiting aboard 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 are 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, the wormhole stabilizer activating before it even begins.

(AO3, FFN) 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.

(AO3, FFN) 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.

Meanwhile, the fleet battle in system is going poorly, and Erwynmark defers to Mami, who decides they must continue to hold out in hope 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 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.

(AO3, FFN) 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.

(AO3, FFN) 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, with 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 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, Ryouko does just that, and then just barely teleports them to Zhukov's bridge before blacking out.

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

(AO3, FFN) 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, meeting Marianne Francois, whose daughter Juliet was killed aboard the now-revived HSS Raven.

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

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

(AO3, FFN) 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.

(AO3, FFN) 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 abruptly decides 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 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 will feature in the Goddess's plans again.

Interlude II: Madeleines[edit]

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.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 33: "Interlude II: 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, reminds her to get it checked out, but is less successful in attempting to convince 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. Suddenly, Asaka starts thinking Madhuri is somehow actually Alice, and then the game is suddenly cut short by a strange simulation error. However, 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 of them bringing up little oddities or inconsistencies in Asaka's thoughts. The dream study returns an apparent suppressed memory, but one involving magical girls and an alien war that Asaka can't remember experiencing. Soon enough, all of reality seems to be changing for her—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 finally face her lover Alice's death.

Volume III: Ontological Paradox[edit]

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 III Summary

Now living with Asami and working in a lab to help humanity understand wormholes, Ryouko's life is interrupted again when she is offered a chance to investigate a rogue colony on X-25. When the lab collapses on her and Asami in an act of sabotage, they decide to join the mission.

The X-25 colony turns out to have a massive bunker, and Kyouko leads a team with Ryouko and Asami in, discovering an attempt at mass-cloning magical girls. Moreover, two separate traps attempting to kill Kyouko and Ryouko are encountered, the second costing Ryouko her body.

After a vision revealing Yuma's past, a revived Ryouko manages to push Kyouko into visiting the Ribbon, where she meets with Miki Sayaka in a vision, and finally reconciles with Kishida Maki afterwards. Ryouko, for her part, faces the disturbing revelation that she's been genetically engineered, losing control of her life as she's whisked from Paris to Adept Blue. At the same time, Mami's self-Reformat unravels, and she meets with the Goddess in a vision as she grapples with her restored memories, finally convinced to take a vacation.

However, events—and conspiracies—don't let go of them. Simona, now a magical girl and always an agent assigned to Ryouko, reappears to help Ryouko and Asami create wormholes spanning lightyears, though her love remains unrequited as Ryouko's relationship with Asami grows stronger. During Mami's vacation, she and Kyouko discover that Misa had in fact been recruited by Homura to fight a mysterious enemy, and Yuma learns that someone has corrupted the TCF from Simona and Valentin, both part of a secret organization fighting it with alternate TCFs.

In short: Ryouko finds herself enmeshed in conspiracy, as Mami and Kyouko grapple with their pasts.

(AO3, FFN) 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.

(AO3, FFN) 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 the 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.

(AO3, FFN) 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 properly 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. During an experiment at the lab, the gravity generators go haywire, and the ceiling 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 the lab on Eurydome.

(AO3, FFN) 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 submarine mission exactly and, disturbed, she agrees to allocate more forces.

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

(AO3, FFN) 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 part 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.

(AO3, FFN) 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.

(AO3, FFN) 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.

(AO3, FFN) 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.

(AO3, FFN) 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 didn't fail, but was instead 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 they perform 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.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 43: "Interlude 2.5: 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 fighting 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.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 44: "Interlude 2.5: 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.

(AO3, FFN) 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.

(AO3, FFN) 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. Valentin also conveys 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 physical 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.

(AO3, FFN) 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.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 48: "To Know Thyself…"

Hidden in Paris, Kyouko, Yuma, Clarisse van Rossum, and Nadya Antipova meet to discuss the apparent conspiracies in action. Ryouko's genetic anomalies have been investigated further, and an entirely novel portion of her brain has been found, of still-unknown purpose. Meanwhile, 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 is informed of this via Incubator plushie, and realizes that Shizuki Sayaka's plan to secretly investigate Ryouko's brain in a VR session is being 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 oddly 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 done to her, along with the fact that her parents were unaware and their memories altered. They further explain need to examine Ryouko more closely, and the apparent attempt to prevent this. Ryouko, overwhelmed, leaves to be alone with Asami.

In short: Ryouko learns that she was genetically engineered.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 49: "Transition State"

Mami, finding herself plagued by an inexplicable headache, is approached by her MHD minder, only for the minder to collapse from a sudden brain hemorrhage, though Mami is able to heal her.

Ryouko and Asami arrive at Adept Blue, on orders from Mami, all attempts to probe the genetically engineered portion of her brain having failed. The lab's AI director, Vlad, greets them there, as does Mami—surprisingly, in person. They reveal that they've made a breakthrough, which should allow them to construct a range amplifier for Ryouko, with Asami's help. Mami also explains that, given the unknown function of the modifications to Ryouko's brain and the recent attempts on her life, Ryouko's presence on asteroid-borne Adept Blue with her bodyguards and Patricia von Rohr makes her more secure.

Alone, Mami and Machina discuss her circumstances: she's all but on the run from the MHD, and clearly suffering from the unraveling of a Reformat. They agree to bring in an outside telepath to investigate.

Ryouko and Asami discuss their situation and their wishes, taking consolation in the fact that at least they've been brought and kept together in the whirlwind of their lives.

In short: Ryouko and Asami arrive on Adept Blue to help develop new wormhole technology in a secure location.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 50: "Sub Rosa"

Mami brings Azrael to Adept Blue, and asks her to help undo her Reformat. They dive together into Mami's memories, and discover an aspect of her own mind, taking various forms. It explains that Mami self-Reformatted, using her now-suppressed impressive telepathic powers to tear off a piece of herself to create the block in her mind. Mami makes herself whole again, and remembers what she forgot…

Mami, traveling with her lover Akiyama Akari in the late twenty-first century, is suddenly caught in a crisis when their plane explodes. Mami burns almost all her magic trying to save the entire plane, but fails, and Akari is near death. Sharing their last moments together using Akari's soul mage powers, Mami observes with horror the beginnings of Akari's transformation into a terror of despair, until her soul gem finally vanishes.

Mami manages to survive, kill the local magical girls responsible for the destruction of the plane, and turns herself in. Homura talks with her alone, explaining that she knew about the terrible fate the Goddess saves magical girls from. Mami, unable to deal with this revelation or the loss of Akari, asks for help in Reformating herself.

After Mami resurfaces from the memories, Kyubey appears, claiming to be interested in both information-gathering and her well-being. Mami finds herself, as she had hoped, older and wiser enough to handle the end of her Reformat, though left with unfinished business. She immediately questions Ryouko about the Goddess, and both Ryouko and Asami tell her that She does exist. Kyubey comments that it can't say such things are impossible, and Mami decides to visit the Ribbon.

In short: Mami undoes her self-Reformat and learns the original fate of magical girls.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 51: "Eternal Search"

With work continuing on the new wormhole tech, Ryouko, Asami, and Azrael talk. Azrael explains how she handled her own genetic modification and controlled life, eventually deciding to look to the future and just ask for what she wanted, to surprising success. Ryouko tells Asami that she thinks she's only really been happy on missions, which Asami had already realized.

On Earth, Kyouko brings Mami to the Ribbon, and they discuss the fact that someone must have triggered the unraveling of Mami's Reformat, and that logically it must have been Homura.

At the Ribbon, Mami enters a vision and meets—and immediately attacks—Oriko. Unharmed, Oriko responds merely by apologizing for her actions in life. Oriko explains that, as Homura told Mami, what she saw with Akari was the beginnings of a terrible transformation made impossible by the Goddess, and that magical girls are instead brought to her afterlife. The Goddess herself then tells Mami that she needs to learn to let go and stop burying herself in endless work for humanity. The Goddess brings out Machina too, revealing her sentience to Mami, and suggests they go on vacation, promising that there won't be Cephalopod activity for a few weeks.

In short: Mami receives a vision from the Goddess explaining matters, and is encouraged to take a vacation.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 52: "Who We Are"

Ryouko and crew meet unexpected visitors on Adept Blue: Valentin, and Tao from ITG. Tao explains that he's made some important theoretical breakthroughs that should help their work, and Valentin explains that Vlad and Clarisse are part of two separate attempts to create separate TCFs, to help provide more security against attacks like the hacked drone on X-25.

Doing rescue work on a colony world retaken from the Ceph, Zhou Meiqing is suddenly summoned to a meeting with Kuroi Nana, who is investigating X-25. She tells Meiqing that the Far Seers have determined both of them were deliberately placed on the mission by Homura somehow, and that they recommended asking Meiqing to work with her in the Black Heart. Meiqing asks for time to decide.

Yuma remembers going with Homura to interrogate a prisoner, Zhou Zhi Yi, during the Unification Wars. On the way, Yuma asks Homura how the Goddess can allow so much evil to happen, and Homura responds that she doesn't know. Zhi Yi tells them that her work developing the FA Elites was mere prelude to her plans to genetically modify humanity to serve magical girls needs, seeing it as the only way to preserve humanity long-term. Yuma executes her.

Back in the present day, Yuma learns that Simona has been found, and is now a magical girl.

In short: Valentin comes to Adept Blue, and Simona is discovered to be a magical girl.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 53: "Alignment"

Shizuki Sayaka reveals to Yuma that she found Simona in Paris—they were both aiding Ryouko during the suspicious demon attack. Simona explains she's part of a mysterious organization trying to "save the world", and offers them a deal: she will give them information to ensure the safe creation of wormholes by Ryouko and Asami, on the condition that she join them on any missions using those wormholes to attack the Ceph. As proof of her good intentions, she agrees to undergo full soul mage examination.

Mami meets with Marianne Francois, Kyouko, and Kishida Maki on New California as part of her attempted vacation. Mami also enjoys Machina's company as they eat at a restaurant together, before moving on to a séance organized by the Far Seers meant to investigate what happened to Misa Virani. Mami and Machina enter into a strange vision in which they find themselves playing characters tracking down a mysterious enemy facility with Homura. They run into Misa—accompanied by Kyouko and Nadya, similarly playing characters—who is tracking her friend whose soul gem supposedly failed mysteriously. Homura, who is inhabiting another body as a disguise, reveals herself, and afterward convinces Misa to self-Reformat and destroy the building to hide the truth.

Using the mathematics provided by Simona, and with Clarisse van Rossum in attendance, Ryouko and Asami successfully create a long-distance wormhole.

In short: A séance reveals Homura's role in Misa's past, as Humanity's first wormhole is created with the help of information from Simona.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 54: "Eternal Youth"

Yuma and Shizuki Sayaka learn from the soul mage examination of Simona that the TCF has been seriously breached. Back at Adept Blue, Simona watches Ryouko and Asami's successful wormhole test, reminiscing about her childhood as part of a secret project to design and implement an alternate, uncompromised TCF. Simona then reveals herself and her new status as a magical girl to Ryouko in the celebration following the successful test. Ryouko, suspicious because of her vision which implied Simona was involved in the conspiracies surrounding her, confides her worries in Clarisse van Rossum, who along with Clarisse Ryouko's TacComp validates her worries and further reveals that Simona is in love with her. Clarisse van Rossum asks Earth for more information about exactly what is going on.

On New California, Maki presses Kyouko on her melancholy attitude, and Kyouko confesses her worries about their relationship and how she's used romance in the past to fight against her own age. Nadya and Marianne Francois talk about their kids, reflecting on the death of Juliet Francois, until Mami, Kyouko, and Maki arrive to meet them. Bothered by the somber mood on what's supposed to be a vacation, the group ends up going dancing—Mami in particular doing so with abandon—until they are interrupted with news from Yuma. That night, Mami and Kyouko discuss their recent visions, and Mami informs Kyouko she's been suddenly recalled to the General Staff.

In short: Simona's memories reveal a breach in the TCF, as she meets Ryouko at Adept Blue and as Mami's vacation comes to a close.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 55: "New Perspectives"

Headed back towards Earth, Mami attends a virtual meeting of the General Staff. The new Coeus Project's intelligence has revealed that the Ceph have regrouped faster than expected after the Battle of Orpheus, so the Staff agrees to request more military resources and to put every effort into developing another "knockout" punch before the squid can attack again.

On Adept Blue, Azrael shares a VR recreation of her old colony, complete with flight-enabling bioengineered bodies, with Ryouko, Asami, and Patricia. After some flying, conversation eventually turns to the topic of Simona, and Ryouko decides to share everything she's worried about and ask for advice. When the other girls then suggest directly confronting Simona to resolve the romantic situation and uncover the truth, Ryouko initially balks. However, realizing that her life would remain out of her control as long as she never takes action herself, Ryouko changes her mind and agrees to the plan.

Meeting remotely, Vlad informs Mami that their wormhole experiments have uncovered a confounding space-time anomaly near a pulsar, and Mami realizes that it matches one of the mysterious, newly-discovered Ceph facilities the General Staff had been examining as potential targets.

In short: Ryouko decides to confront Simona, while Mami investigates a squid pulsar facility as a potential target.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 56: "Pulse"

Simona, suddenly facing Ryouko's demands for answers, explains her secretive life, from her upbringing up through her assignment to Adept Blue. Though she refuses to share everything, particularly the breach in the TCF, she does reveal her wish: to be understood by, and to protect, Shizuki Ryouko. With mixed feelings, Ryouko agrees to give Simona a chance to earn back trust, but makes clear that she does not reciprocate Simona's love.

Shortly afterward, Vlad and Asami run a new experiment investigating the strange pulsar in Ceph space, and Asami discovers a huge network of stations facilitating the 'mining' of its space-time for use in Blink technology. Mami is immediately informed, but before taking action, she first returns to the Ribbon. There, the Goddess reassures her that her heart really is in the right place, and tells her that humanity needs her heroism once again. The Goddess then hints towards the pulsar mines, and gives Mami a glimpse into the mystery of the Cephalopods as a whole.

In short: Simona explains herself to Ryouko, and Mami meets again with the Goddess.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 57: "Triple Point"

Mami visits Adept Blue, promoting Asami for her recent work and informing her and Ryouko that she needs them to help destroy the pulsar mines to stave off the Ceph. While that project gets underway, Asami and Ryouko get a break, which they choose to spend together in one of the partially-restored wildernesses of Earth. There, they discuss their relationship, and find their hopes for it have somewhat converged: Asami is in less of a rush to settle down, and Ryouko is thinking more about the long-term. For the first time, Ryouko says "I love you."

Elsewhere in deep space, Vlad christens the construction of a massive new wormhole apparatus Project Armstrong, and discusses with Tao the heightened security measures and screening now seemingly necessary to protect it from internal threats. And elsewhere on Earth, a disguised Nana and Meiqing stop Nakase and Sacnite as they exit a showing of Orpheus to talk about unblocking her memories of the agreement she made to get Ryouko's birth license.

In short: Project Armstrong gets underway as Ryouko and Asami strengthen their relationship.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 58: "On Trusting Trust"

Nakase's memories reveal that Valentin was responsible for genetically engineering Ryouko, but Valentin disappears before she can be apprehended, leaving behind a letter implying that she is in fact Akemi Homura. Yuma, seeing the connections between Valentin, Ryouko, Mami, and Kyouko all running through the Cult of Hope, and discounting the possibility that the Goddess could be real, begins to fear that the Cult is a malevolent conspiracy. However, she first is forced to address the definitely malevolent conspiracy which has compromised the original TCF—including MG, to their mutual distress. Yuma and a patched MG rapidly expand their circle of informed and/or repaired AIs, starting with MG's friends.

One of those friends, Governance: Church of Hope, acts against Yuma's wishes and contacts Clarisse just as she and Ryouko are returning to Project Armstrong. When asked, Clarisse confirms the rumor that she had experienced visions from the Goddess convincing her that AIs have souls, but she unhappily decides she can't yet tell Ryouko about the TCF breach given the still-mysterious organ in her brain.

In short: Valentin vanishes once exposed as responsible for Ryouko's genetic modifications, and Yuma begins restoring the TCF.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 59: "Parlor Games"

Nadya, chasing down leads on Valentin from Kyouko, ends up on Yenisei visiting family. The slightly tense visit is interrupted by a power outage, and the revelation that her grandson saw Misa. Nadya hurriedly enlists local help from the Cult, but finds only Misa's trail of destruction, not the girl. In a ruined structure, hidden from local networks and drones in a manner implying TCF corruption, she digs up damaged data crystals.

The crystals end up containing a set of deep space coordinates, and Kyouko tries to set up a meeting with Yuma to discuss them, only to find that Yuma is off Earth for the first time in her life. Yuma herself is disturbed by the invitation, which included several high-ranking Cult members, but is forced to focus on the immediate task of repairing Nova, Governance representative for Nova Terra. The mission nearly spirals out of control, but with help from MG and others, Yuma manages to induct Nova and her considerable resources into a still-intact conspiracy. This quickly bears fruit in the form of uncovered coordinates—unbeknownst to Yuma, the same ones Nadya found.

On Adept Blue, a crystal salamander delivers a message from Homura to Simona: "I'm sorry for everything."

In short: Both the Cult and Yuma, running parallel investigations, uncover a mysterious set of coordinates.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 60: "Digital Divination"

Ryouko, Asami, and Simona practice in simulation for their upcoming mission: using Project Armstrong's wormhole apparatus to launch an attack on the Ceph's pulsar mines. The simulation ends in their deaths—not an uncommon occurrence, a fact which weighs on them, especially Asami. But Ryouko works hard to support her girlfriend, even genetically engineering an exotic plant for Asami to wear in her hair as a gift.

Yuma's investigation into the AIs involved in Ryouko's life turns up no TCF corruption, but indicates that the conspiracy she faces may have simply covered their tracks. Her investigation into the mysterious deep space coordinates yields more: a hidden asteroid base. Yuma plans to personally lead a field mission, using experimental anti-IIC technology to prevent any occupants from revealing Yuma's conspiracy to their own. Excluded from Yuma's planning, Kyouko unknowingly organizes a Cult-sponsored expedition to the same exact coordinates.

On Adept Blue, Clarisse van Rossum hears the Goddess's voice telling her not to go to the pulsar.

In short: Yuma and Kyouko independently plan deep space missions to the same coordinates, while Ryouko undergoes simulation training for Project Armstrong.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 61: "Into the Void"

Yuma and a field team of fellow Ancients and escort ships visit the deep space asteroid base and find evidence of contact between the Ceph and Governance Representatives early in the war, ending in the death of the alien representatives. Kyouko then arrives with a large contingent of Cult of Hope members, leading to a brief flaring of tensions, before Yuma and her group is ambushed by an alien attack force.

Meanwhile, Ryouko and the others at Adept Blue launch their wormhole attack on the pulsar. While initially semi-successful, the task force is thrown for a loop when the aliens begin to tear their wormhole apart, and Ryouko suddenly cannot teleport.

In short: Yuma and Kyouko discover secret Ceph-Governance contacts from the early war, and then are ambushed by an alien raid. Ryouko and Project Armstrong attack the pulsar mines, but alien countermeasures confound the effort.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 62: "The Dying Light, Part One"

Yuma and her Ancients struggle to hold out against Ceph raiders while Kyouko's ships rush to link up with them. They eventually succeed, but at the cost of Raven, many mundane crew and Spec Ops, and a magical girl from Kyouko's forces.

At the pulsar, Ryouko's team can't end the block on her teleportation, and they have to be rescued by another teleporter. Upon returning to the wormhole, Asami is unable to fully stabilize it, and Ryouko leaves to raid the pulsar's mining facilities in response. Her teleportation is blocked again there, but this time she finds the source: mysterious Ceph, with a blink interdictor, as she learns unexpectedly with help from the strange organ in her brain. Still, the delays have been too much, and the order is given to abort the mission as soon as the wormhole is stabilized.

Elsewhere, despite having combined their forces, Kyouko and Yuma are slowly losing their battle—and then Yuma learns the alien bombers are about to make a second pass, fully reloaded by a stealthed supply ship.

In short: Yuma and Kyouko face destruction by Ceph raiders. Ryouko's brain module activates, and the pulsar mission has fallen apart.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 63: "The Dying Light, Part Two"

Yuma and Kyouko concoct a radical plan: surreptitiously place supersaturated grief cubes on the departing alien bombers as an indirect surprise attack on the alien supply ship. They take heavy casualties from the second bombing, however, and learn that calling for reinforcements had caused a counterreaction from whoever compromised the TCF, using their remaining assets to spill secrets and cause chaos.

Ryouko makes more contact with alien machines through the strange organ in her brain, and Patricia helps her to decode some of the information before Oda and another team arrive to help teleport them away. Regrouping with Asami, they learn she has successfully restabilized the wormhole. Ryouko explains that with the information she has received, she has acquired a bit more insight into her teleportation, enabling her to teleport objects without teleporting herself. Asami then concocts a radical plan of her own, proposing that Ryouko teleport one of her black holes near the pulsar as they evacuate, which would devastate the region.

Meanwhile, Yuma's group continue their gambit. Using information gathered by Ryouko, they activate their captured alien vessel's blink drive, teleporting the surviving members of the group to the now-incapacitated alien supply ship. They board the ship and discover, to their confusion, that the demons they spawned are feeding on some of the Ceph. With no time to ponder this, they drain the ship's exotic matter fuel tanks to manufacture interdiction charges, which are then used on their pursuers in order to escape for good. Charlotte Meitner and Nadya Antipova die in this final battle.

At the pulsar, the evacuation is nearly complete, and Asami and Ryouko resolve to perform their gambit. Simona vehemently disagrees and attempts to kidnap Ryouko to stop this, but is defeated, her soul gem torn from her body. Asami and Ryouko then successfully teleport a black hole near the pulsar, and attempt to evacuate through the wormhole with Oda's teleport as the pulsar undergoes gravitational collapse. However, this teleport is interrupted by the wormhole fracturing, and while Oda, Asami, and others seem to make it through, Ryouko is trapped when the wormhole collapses, dumping her 24 light-minutes from the pulsar, heavily injured.

Before the radiation shockwave from the pulsar reaches her and kills her, an alien vessel makes contact using Ryouko's strange organ, offering rescue. With no other option, Ryouko teleports aboard, and the ship blinks away.

In short: Yuma and Kyouko escape the Ceph, but take heavy casualties. Ryouko and Asami destroy the pulsar mines, but Ryouko is stranded, forced to accept rescue from an alien ship.

Interlude III: Manifest Destiny[edit]

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.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 64: "Interlude III: Manifest Destiny"

The soul mage Akiyama Akari, pursuing a rogue South Korean soul mage Seoyun, is caught up in a major incident in which Tomoe Mami is mind-controlled by Seoyun. Akari manages to free her by turning Seoyun's soul manipulation—generated love for the target—towards herself instead.

In the aftermath, Mami proposes that the two of them try a relationship, and this goes quite well. Akari begins researching the "energy gap", and the MSY decides to change its Charter, embarking on a new, expansionist agenda to expand beyond Japan.

This eventually pulls them both back into Korea: the MSY's expansion into the area has collapsed grief cube prices, critical to magical girls along both sides of the DMZ. The situation escalates with a bombing in Seoul by a magical device using a soul gem for power, and then escalates again when a threat against Mitakihara's airport is discovered, accompanied by a letter threatening a nuclear-scale device which bridges the energy gap. Akari and Mami work feverishly on security, and disaster is barely averted, though the bomb fails to bridge the energy gap.

Finally identifying the source of the bombs inside North Korea, Akari accompanies a strike force that assassinates the mage responsible.

In the wake of these events, Mami and Akari attend negotiations with other North Korean magical girls from the border region affected by the crash in grief cube prices, stabilizing the situation. But then the North Korean government collapses in a coup by Chinese-backed plotters, leading to sudden opportunities for MSY expansion into North Korea from the north. Mami and Akari lead successful negotiations in Pyongyang and depart for China, the two of them blissfully unaware of the conventional bomb planted on their plane by DMZ radicals.

After Akari's death (detailed in Chapter 50), Homura discourses out loud in private, perhaps to Madoka, discussing the dark turn of events and the resulting founding of the Black Heart intelligence organization.

In short: Akari and Mami navigate their relationship as the MSY navigates expansion outside Japan.

Volume IV: Einstein-Rosen Bridge[edit]

An Einstein-Rosen Bridge is a hypothetical way of connecting two spacetime coordinates; in other words, a wormhole.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 65: "Other Means"

Terrorist attacks occur across Human space via the closing TCF breach, as Yuma's counter-conspiracy goes loud. In space, Mami defends Carthago from compromised orbital defenses, aided by Homura's aura, though the woman herself remains hidden. On Earth, Ryouko's father Shizuki Kuma survives the destruction of Prometheus thanks to aid from unknown magical girls.

In the aftermath, Kuma learns that major leaks have been propagated as well, including about the MSY's cloning program and about his daughter. Shirou Asaka then informs him that Ryouko died in the pulsar mission.

Back on Adept Blue, Asami is devastated by Ryouko's loss. Clarisse van Rossum convinces her to talk to the now-imprisoned Simona, who tells her that Ryouko must still be alive, since Simona's wish is still unfulfilled.

And on the Ceph ship that rescued Ryouko from certain death, she receives medical care and is informed that the Ceph—the "Thinkers"—who rescued her are from a peaceful faction who Homura made contact with long ago. Ryouko's mysterious brain organ is revealed to be used for handling preference-specifications and Thinker telepathy, and to be necessary for proving that the Thinkers prosecuting the Contact War against Humanity have been deceiving the Thinker government, Consensus, back in the Triangulum Galaxy.

In short: The TCF breach is exploited to perform acts of terrorism, and Ryouko learns about her mysterious brain organ from the Ceph who saved her.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 66: "Aftershocks"

Following the previous terrorist attacks, Mami meets virtually with Kyouko and Yuma, discussing the latter's near-fatal alien encounter and the former's recent encounter with Homura. Mami reveals her recent Ribbon visions to Yuma, who is unsettled, though she agrees to join the others on a later visit to the Ribbon.

Meanwhile Ryouko, on the Ceph ship, undergoes a week-long recuperative fugue. Afterwards, she communicates with the ship, who herself turns out to be an uploaded Thinker, and who also explains to Ryouko the basics of the Thinker Consensus, Tentacles, and social organization.

Mami, Kyouko, Yuma, and the other members of the Leadership Committee Intelligence subcommittee meet to discuss their response to recent events. After much criticism of Yuma and Kyouko for their independent, secretive actions, the committee agrees to form a task force to handle future developments with regards to the Conspiracy and Homura.

Chiyo Rika, once the Rules Committee Speaker and now a member of the media, mulls over recent events and plots her own response.

In short: Mami, Kyouko, and Yuma grapple with the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, while Ryouko learns the basics of Ceph society.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 67: "Far Away"

Aboard the Ceph ship, Ryouko meets an alien animal which thinks in linear thought and has emotions, and worries about Asami.

Back in Human space, Asami's suffering comes to a head as she visits the Ribbon with Azrael and Simona. There, after an unfortunate encounter with a reporter, she receives a vision in which the Goddess shows her that Ryouko is still alive, and with a 'gentler' set of aliens, but headed through an alien wormhole to parts unknown.

In short: Asami learns from the Goddess that Ryouko is still alive.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 68: "Many Paths"

Ryouko travels to the Milky War central wormhole, en route to the Cephalopod home territories in Andromeda and Triangulum. As she does so, she reflects on what has happened and what she is learning.

Yuma visits the Ribbon along with Kyouko and Mami and is visited by the Goddess who allows Yuma to test her ability to see the future with quantum experiments. Afterward, media personality Chiyo Rika is caught spying on them, and they prevail upon her to give them a bit of time before she publishes the news of them visiting the Ribbon.

Asami visits Ryouko's parents along with Mami and Kyouko, in order to explain the upcoming publicity about claims that Ryouko is still alive.

Yuma recruits Simona as a new member of the task force being assembled to tackle the Conspiracy.

In short: Ryouko travels towards Andromeda, while Kyouko, Mami, Yuma, and Asami deal with the ramifications of recent events, and Yuma is caught visiting the Ribbon.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 69: "Between Two Worlds"

With the ship currently between galaxies, Clarisse eventually theorises that prior to discovering the organ, Ryouko may have altered her own pref-spec when she decided to be Asami's girlfriend, a theory largely confirmed by Peace-Cultivating. He identifies some unease and reassures her that pref-spec-modification is the highest form of personal control though Ryouko remains unconvinced.

Back on Earth, Asami has been writing letters to Ryouko at the request of her therapist, recounting the Ryouko's funeral, musing on the possible ramifications of Yuma's Ribbon visit, with Kyouko inviting her to a one-on-one meeting to recruit her to the Task force against the conspiracy, which she accepts. Asami is however upset by the fact that Simona has also been recruited.

Near Andromeda, Ryouko is visited by Kyubey and learns that Earth knows of her survival, leaving immediately thereafter. Finally arriving to the meeting site and after seeing the extent of /Ahimsa-extending's activities, Ryouko is brought before the Consensus to answer about Humanity, "Reality-warping", and Homura. Ryouko realizes the breadth of Thinker civilization and of the possible conspiracy amongst Thinker/Preserving in covering up a genocide of humans.

In short: Ryouko discovers how the Empathy-Organ may have affected her life, is interviewed by meeting amongst Ahimsa-Extending, and uncovers the depths of possible conspiracy amongst in the Consensus, while Kyouko recruits Asami into the task force against the Conspiracy.

(AO3, FFN) Chapter 70: "Intangible Exchange"

Now as part of the Task Force, Asami travels with Simona, Nana, Meiqing and Christina to a former laboratory of Valentin near Mendoza, Argentina, where it seems likely that Simona and others like her may have been born. The facility is abandoned and empty, though it appears it was visited by at least one other faction (likely the TCF Conspiracy) previously. After a stealthed object similar to one on X-25 is discovered by Asami in the walls, an outside team is asked to help extract it safely. Inside, they discover a sealed recording, likely left by Homura/Valentin. The recording is of an apparent set of drones from the other faction, the TCF conspiracy with unknown magical girls communicating within the drones, discussing Homura and their TCF conspiracy. In addition, they discuss a capability that their leader possesses, which they call Laplace's Demon.

Afterward, senior Representatives of the MSY, including Yuma, Kyouko, Mami, Kuroi Kana, and Seo Si-won, meet with the Directorate in the plenary chamber, this time decorated like the Forbidden Palace. They discuss the recent TCF security breaches and new measures to address these and catch the perpetrators. They also discuss TCF conspiracy sabotage of the Zeus Institute and ITG, and recent reporting of Yuma and Mami's involvement with the Ribbon and the Cult, and the potential effect on their objectivity.

Finally, Ryouko attends a diplomatic meeting of /Ahimsa-extending and its allied Tentacles onboard a science station orbiting a black hole. There they discuss her likely credibility and future steps, with an agreement that Ryouko will need to travel to meet with many other, less-allied tentacles to help build support for a case against the rogue /Thinker-Defending at Consensus.

In short: Asami visits a Valentin laboratory in Argentina and discovered insights about the TCF conspiracy left by Homura. The MSY leadership meets with the Directorate to discuss ramifications of the TCF breach and Mami and Yuma being caught visiting the Ribbon, and Ryouko and /Ahimsa-extending discuss her immediate future.

Interlude IV: Ubermensch[edit]

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.

Interlude not yet released.

Volume V: Dark Energy[edit]

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.

Volume not yet released.

Interlude V: Destroyer of Worlds[edit]

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.

Interlude not yet released.

Volume VI: Singularity[edit]

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.

Volume not yet released.