"Kyubey promised that humanity will reach the stars one day. The Incubator tactfully refrained from saying too much about what they would find there."
In the latter half of the 25th century, humanity finds itself locked in total war against alien invaders. Though not as advanced as the Incubators, the Cephalopods have a significant technological edge over humans. They attacked without warning and for no discernible reason. Now magical girls fight alongside the rest of humanity to bring hope of survival to us all.To the Stars is a distant sequel to Madoka Magica, taking place several centuries after the anime's epilogue. Featuring a detailed exploration of the possible future, it is one of the most thorough Madoka Magica world-building fics.Two surviving characters from Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Mami and Kyouko, are also main characters in this fic, and Yuma from Puella Magi Oriko Magica appears in a supporting role. The third and central protagonist, Ryouko Shizuki, is a girl whose entry into the world of magical girls begins a little after the story's start.Just to give prospective readers an idea of how long it is, the first 100K words alone cover just the first 24 hours of the story. Despite its length, if you're at all interested in world-building or the future of Puella Magi, To the Stars will capture your interest.The epic tale can be found here, the Wiki here and the author's Tumblr here, featuring additional details (see sidebar) along with answers to reader-submitted questions.Character page under construction.
Tropes found in the stars include:
Abnormal Ammo: Human weapons are advanced enough that the officer's sidearm is able to shoot grenades, missiles, small drones, lasers etc. from the same clip. And they are still inferior to what the aliens bring to play.
Badass Preacher: Kyouko, full stop. The other leaders of the Cult of Hope all qualify as well, being Magical Girls.
Barrier Warrior: Usually paired with a teleporting magical girl. Homura was also this, when she stopped a giant Wave Motion Gun by flying straight to it, halting it by a simple wave of hand, and reflecting it back to the ship. After that, there wasn't a single weapon that capable of harming her.
Biopic: The holomovie Akemi, an unapologetic piece of pro-MSY propaganda produced based on surviving historical records and interviews with the surviving members of the Mitakihara Four. Some liberties were taken.
Big Damn Heroes: Mami and Kyubey save Ryouko and Simona from a horde of Demons at the last second. Much earlier, Kyouko, Mami, and Homura saved and 'befriended' Yuma under similar circumstances.
Bile Fascination: In-universe Ryouko is a little too absorbed in examining her (still living and recovering, if a little uncomfortable) grandfather's bloody stumps where the legs used to be.
Blue and Orange Morality: Kyoukoís lecture on the pulpit accuses the Judeo-Christian god of being unable to understand humanity because their morality system is so different from humanityís. The Incubators suffer the same problem in relation to humanity. One of the principle, though lesser known roles of a major division in the MSY is to serve as an advisory body for the Incubators with regards to human affairs.
Brain Computer Interface: Direct Connection Cable, used for virtual training and running spaceships. The business end is just a tape with microneedles instead of a large typical cyberpunk plug, so no need for sockets in the body.
Once the situation became less dire, and political pressure grew, the military decided that quality was better than quantity, especially considering the scarcity of Puella Magi, and withdrew magical girls under 13 year old from direct battle to give them training. This was, at least, a slight improvement. Continuing pressure from forces within the government to completely avoid this sort of use has been steadily growing.
Church Militant: Every member of the Cult of Hope is a superpowered Magical Girl with a military commission and has dedicated her life to fighting Demons and Aliens. Forget this at your peril.
The Conspiracy: Thereís something strange going on that Mami, Kyouko, nor Yuma can figure out. Said conspiracy may have a hand in Ryouko's vision of Kyouko's death, what with the targeting and intent to completely destroy her soul gem as the results seem to indicate.
Somewhere along the way, the MSY stopped being a simple Magical Girl union and became a secret pseudo-government for the whole humanity. Now less so after they revealed themselves.
The Corruption: Magical girls are constantly fighting not to succumb to this and fade away. Homura isnít being allowed to go, her wish still active and preventing her passing.
Cosmic Retcon: The opening of chapter 16 mentions that wishes can change the past, and speculates that "the most powerful wishes are the ones we don't know about". Oh, how right they are. Ryoko's wish may have done this.
Crazy-Prepared: Might as well be the Mahou Shoujo Youkai's calling card... although even they didn't plan for an alien invasion. They did have a fleet of stealth ships, though, and equipment for space combat.
They also learned to prepare decoy targets and shielding for soul gems, to keep them from being destroyed by savvy foes.
Cult: The Cult of Hope, led by Kyouko. Created after Homuraís miraculous superpowered destruction of an entire alien fleet while having a completely corrupted soul gem convinced her that Homuraís ramblings about the Goddess were true.
Decontamination Chamber: The medical bay has one of these. Ryouko isn't a big fan of the searing UV cleanser or the skittering robobugs.
Defector from Decadence: Many from the Freedom Alliance before and during the Unification Wars, most notably a group a AIs who were so horrified by the atrocities committed by the FA hyperclass elite that they rebelled against their programming and defected to the United Front.
Despair Event Horizon: Homura hit this after the major battle when the magical girls revealed themselves to humanity and the attacking aliens.
Divide and Conquer: The Human Fleet are forced into this situation after the failed raid on the wormhole generator.
Epigraph: Each chapter starts with one or two excerpts from in-universe works such as history books, instructions, documentations, documentaries etc. etc, that are relevant to the chapter. And one Shout Out to Sid Meiers Alpha Centauri.
Eternal English: Human Standard is a variation of English, but implants translate everything anyway.
Expy: The Aliens are pretty much the Ceph from Crysis, but a few centuries late.
Famed in Story: Tomoe Mami is one of the top human military officers; Sakura Kyouko founded the only religion that's still gaining members; Chitose Yuma is the face of Magical Girls in the government; Akemi Homura is a hero venerated for her role in saving humanity.
The Greatest Story Never Told: Miki Sayaka's role in the Mitakihara Four is mostly glazed over in-verse, due to her early death and the others' unwillingness to expound upon the topic. And of course there's Madoka, whose story is only known for sure by Homura, who was usually vague about most details when telling about it to others. The only info she concretely provided was that she was a human who ascended and that her wish brought hope to Puella Magi. It took several Ribbon visions for the Cult of Hope to deduce anything about Madoka's physical appearance, and they only know that she wears pure white. Very recently, they learned that her hair is pink.
Family Business: Itís noted at one point that the temperament for becoming a magical girl runs in families, informally known as Matriarchies. Some families even call becoming a magical girl the family business! Some of the older generations girls, like Kyouko are understandably unhappy about this because how difficult their life were as magical girls. It is strongly implied that some of these families are extremely influential.
Fantastic Recruitment Drive: The MSY has been much more open about this since gaining the government's support thanks to the war. Parents are less than thrilled.
Force Field Door: Rare outside of ships and the like, but the Mitakihara base has at least two: one protecting the arena, and one in the Ribbon Shrine.
Foreshadowing: Someone mentions that since Mami is Ryouko's mentor, Ryouko is likely headed to Mami's command staff. Several chapters later, she gets transferred out of her current squad and promoted to 1st LT by command of Mami.
Genre Savvy: Kyouko and her council learn of an ominous vision predicting her death. What do they do? Why, take the matter 100% seriously and plan her itinerary to avoid placing her in that sort of situation. This is stated to be cult policy regarding prophecies.
Goal in Life: The Cult of Hope explicitly exists to provide one of these to Magical Girls who would otherwise become angsty.
God Before Dogma: The official stance of the Cult of Hope. There are no holy books or articles of faith and everyone is free to intemperate just what that 'Hope' means for them. The only exceptions are the existence of a Goddess and Homura's role as her prophet.
It's Raining Men: The MagOps method of infiltration on the planet with the incomplete Wormhole Generator they were sent to destroy. Unfortunately, the Cephs were Properly Paranoid and nuked them out of the sky, all due to slightest disturbance on the sensors.
In-Series Nickname: The Mitakihara Four, a group of magical girls that led their kind in their survival, revolutionary history, and finally, acceptance in society.
Instant Expert: Magical Girls are born knowing how to fight. You can also call up a frightening amount of data on cue if you have the right implants and clearance.
Job Stealing Robot: The creation of Volokhov AIs accelerated the replacement of human labor with the automated one to the extreme levels.
Kansas City Shuffle: Mami and the rest of General Staff hopes that their attack on the wormhole generator will pull enough defenses to attack the fleet so that the MagOps team will slip by and destroy the generator, while praying for the aliens not to notice this.
Kill All Humans: Say what you will about the Aliens, at least they know when to keep things simple.
The Kindnapper: An accepted Magical Girl practice is to chain rogue girls to a bed and out of reach of their soul gems until they have a change of heart. It's called "befriending."
Lamarck Was Right: It's already said the psychology that makes the girls form their contract was inherit to the descendants, making magical girl into some kind of Family Business. The same is also can be said to Ryouko, who Mami and Kyouko have found out to be from a bloodline that is really dense of the contractees from both sides of her families, and only does not become one herself for this long because of her parents' interference.
Laser-Guided Amnesia: Used by Magical Girls for therapy in very extreme cases, and by Black Heart for their special ops.
The Leader: Mami, the main representative of the magical girls in the army; Kyouko, the leader of the Cult of Hope; Yuma, the main representative of the magical girls in politic; Homura, the representative of power and hope for most of the magical girls who has disappeared to find the reason that Madoka hasn't come to take her to paradise after her soul gem became completely corrupted. In short, the Mitakihara Four is an example of Authority Equals Asskicking.
Lie to the Beholder: Only Magical Girls and special agents can do this legally. Mami abuses it to watch a movie in peace.
Memento MacGuffin: Madokaís ribbons, which have never worn after hundreds of years, one of which Homura has and the other which she gave to Kyouko. The latter resides in the Cult of Hopeís main base, open to all magical girls to see. The ribbon is also said to give visions of the future and a glimpse of the Goddess herself.
The Men In Black: The Black Hearts, who are so secret that even knowing about their true existence requires security clearance, though conspiracy theories abound.
Mundane Utility: Some of the uses the girls find for their powers just make everyday life easier. Yuma is the queen of this trope.
Murder Is the Best Solution: For dealing with insane Magical Girls, or at least it was until the Mental Health Division started rehabilitating them. Occasionally, it still is the best solution.
Mystery Cult: Subverted. The Cult of Light looks like it could be this, but the upper echelons don't have a clue what it is they're worshiping either.
Naming Your Colony World: Humans love New Something and Names-the-Same. And in Chapter 20 there is a discussion on why would someone name the colony Acheron, a river of pain in hell of Ancient Greek Mythology.
No New Fashions In The Future: Military uniforms are still traditional, and Kyouko's followers like to wear jeans and t-shirts. It's debatable how much of the second one is this trope and how much of it is the girls showing their age.
No Poverty: On earth, everyone is guaranteed enough Allocations to live comfortably, although those who perform vital roles in society, contribute significantly to culture, or have family members serving the the military receive extra. The colonies, on the other had, have capitalist economies that ensure that poverty exists in some form.
The Singularity: In situations of emergency, a majority vote by mankind can activate "Emergency Modes," which effectively bring humanity closer and closer to a single-minded entity, with a "philosopher-king" technocrat comprised of a mixture of human and AI government consciousnesses dictating the actions of every single human alive.
Sniping The Soul Gem: The Aliens learned how to kill Magical Girls this way. This leads to the development of realistic decoys and methods of protection for soul gems.
The Social Darwinist: The Hyperclass and quite a few of Magical Girls. The former are Type 1 and the latter are Type 3.
The Cephs are building a Wormhole Generator so that they could get reinforcements faster and in greater numbers. Naturally, its destruction is a high priority for the humans.
There Are No Therapists: Gloriously averted with the Mental Health Division. The MSY was genre savvy enough to realize this trope, and set-up a division to provide psychological services to Puella Magis, given how critical emotions are to Puella Magis, and the immense stresses of that occupation. Indeed, this trope has been so thoroughly averted that therapists are very influential among Puella Magis!
Cyborgs: Everyone, basically. The Hollywood style is absent, though.
Emergency Transformation: Humans are equipped with implants that send them into crisis mode, pumping chemicals into the brain and advising them on what actions to take. They'll even tell you when you can no longer save yourself.
Nanomachines: They do essentially everything, from building ships to installing implants to reformatting the brain to detoxifying alcohol.
The Needless: The need for sleep has been abolished for military personnel, and members of the infantry don't need to excrete waste.
True Companions: Many of the magical girl teams are said to always stick together, unless one of them gets married and starts a family. Even then, they stay close.
Tube Travel: Larger human spaceships have FTT, Fast Travel Tubes, a transport network made possible thanks to the Artificial Gravity generators neccesary for such ships, so that diverting a little of their power for transportation didn't cost much.
The Unmasqued World: The magical girls had to reveal their presence to help save humanity from utter annihilation.
The Wiki Rule: In-universe. Each chapter has two different wiki sources explaining about the theme of the chapter, complete with citations and direct links.
Who's Laughing Now?: The Magical Girl researchers who insisted on developing methods of space combat.
Who Would Want to Watch Us?: Everyone. In-universe, the story of Mitakihara Four is so legendary, and the movie is covering several hundred years. From (movie-makers' purely guess) Doorstop Baby that is Homura, her search of Goddess and her gradual cynicism, her contract, finding her Goddess, her leading the magical girls surviving under radar for several decades with their never aging bodies, the Very Loosely Based on a True Story sudden Big Damn Heroes of the magical girls in the Battle of Epsilon Eridani, and Homura's disappearance. And it's awesome.