One of the aspects of Puella Magi Madoka Magica that made it so bleak is that the characters were all on their own, and it becomes increasingly apparent that their sponsor for being Magical Girls actually cares very little for their well-being. Similarly, one of the things that made Saya no Uta so depressing was the humans having seemingly no chance against a powerful entity from outer space.
The Unlikely Ally is a crossover fanfiction between the two that asks: what if one of the Drones/bodies in Kyubey's Hive Mind broke away and decided to actively help the main characters? Originally, it was as straightforward as that. However, as the story goes on, things start happening that hint at a greater mystery and scope to the conflict than originally thought.
Originally published on December 29, 2018, The Unlikely Ally is a reboot of an older fanfiction (which can be found here) by fellow fanfic author InGodzHandz, who gave permission for author Jalaras to make a reboot using the concept of their original fic.
Currently, the Fic is ongoing.
It is crossposted on three different websites, links are here:
Archive of Our Own: https://archiveofourown.org/works/17728160/chapters/41823968
Jalaras has also produced some fanart for the story, which can be found in the same DeviantArt Folder as the fanfic chapters. Direct Link is here: https://www.deviantart.com/lordgodsservant/gallery/69107440/The-Unlikely-Ally
This page and story contains unmarked spoilers for the Anime Puella Magi Madoka Magica! It is highly recommended that you watch the show/movies before viewing either!
- Acid-Trip Dimension: The Witch's Labyrinths, as in canon.
- Homura and Key's encounter with Saya in chapter 3 doesn't do this per se, but her sheer otherworldy feel makes the hospital ward she's in evoke the same feel as a Witch's Labyrinth.
- Alternate Timeline: Obviously as the story appears to take place in one of the time loops that Homura went through, though with the difference in this one being that Key has joined her and is actively trying to help her.
- The Atoner: Key seeks to atone for his actions as an Incubator drone by preventing girls from turning into Witches and purifying the existing Witches to free them from their torment.
- Awful Truth: Discussed in-universe as Key wants to tell the other characters the fate of Magical Girls as soon as possible to better prepare them. Homura however, having tried this tactic already and having it fail, is less enthusiastic.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Played With: Key only agreed to drain despair out of a Witch for the sole goal of gaining another Magical Girls contract. This however, resulted in his gaining individuality and the capacity to feel emotion. Its not a pleasant experience by any stretch of the word, but Subverted as he is extremely grateful it happened to him.
- Also possibly with Homura as she likely has wanted for awhile for some element to give her an advantage and break the time loop. Key is near perfectly suited for this given his abilities and knowledge of Kyubey and Magical Girls in general. The main thing is, he's still and Incubator, the same kind of creature that is the source of all the suffering that she's endured. It's a bit of a bitter pill to swallow.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Lampshaded in Chapter 11. When Key reveals that he made a contract with Joan of Arc, Mami and Ryoko are stunned to learn that Key had actually met a famous historical figure and turned her into a Magical Girl.
- Being Good Sucks: Just because things are more hopeful in this story does not mean that its going to smooth sailing for the characters.
- Berserk Button: As of Chapter 3 Saya seems to hit Keys as she tries to eat Homura and he responds by throwing the equivalent of a fireball at her. His appears to be harming of anyone he considers close to him.
- Big Bad: Kyubey is in full form as the manipulative little weasel he was in canon.
- Big "NO!"!: Key gives a minor one when Sayaka attempts to get him to make a contract with her.
- Bloodier and Gorier: Due to its non-visual medium, the text at times gets a bit more detailed with the natural consequences of fighting than the anime did.
- Blue-and-Orange Morality: Played With as Kyubey is as eldritch as his canon self. However, Key is the same species as Kyubey, yet he managed to find a way to gaining emotions and considers Kyubey abhorrent.
- Bizarre Alien Psychology: Kyubey's canon Hive Mind and lack of empathy is contrasted constantly against Key's individuality and ability to empathize.
- Cliffhanger: Chapter 3 ends with, despite their best efforts, Mami apparently succumbing to her Canon fate. The chapter cuts immediately after the act itself.
- Chapter 17 ends with the girls and their allies stranded in a forest at night ... with a certain thin faceless man for company...
- Crossover: Other Madoka Magica works aside, it slowly becomes one with Saya no Uta as the story goes on.
- And come Chapter 17, Slender: The Arrival comes into the picture as well.
- Cute Is Evil: Kyubey as in canon, but subverted with Key who is a rogue drone from the Kyubey Hive Mind who's noted as looking far more emotional and relatable than Kyubey. The main feature is facial features that actually allow the expression of emotion rather than Kyubey's blank pupil eyes and static mouth.
- Deal with the Devil: Key refuses to make contracts anymore to avoid unintentionally doing this.
- Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?: In Chapter 4 Mami and Nagisa have a civilized and comforting conversation with something called Marethil, who is portrayed as an Eldritch Being with power likely outsripping all of the other characters. His conversation with Key in the flashback section is more get ahold of yourself but still ends on a nice note for those involved.
- Divided We Fall: A major part of the story as of the first few chapters seems to be Key trying to get the main characters to avert this. This makes sense as in the show, they were competing for limited resources, but as of Chapter 4, it's revealed that Key's ability to purify Grief Seeds and Soul Gems negates this limitation altogether.
- Dramatic Irony: Kyubey spends his tenure when the girl's still trust him telling Mami, Madoka, and Sayaka that Key is mentally unstable and in need of treatment. As per Kyubey, he's not lying from his own perspective. He does succeed in coloring the girl's views of Homura and Key for a while.
- Dream Intro: Used frequently. The Canon one with Madoka witnessing one of Homura's failed fights against Walpurgisnacht is used, but this time, all of the main girls (sans Homura who lived it) have the dream. Others are used at different points to possibly give foreshadowing.
- Easily Forgiven: When Key reveals to Mami that he was the Incubator Drone that turned her into a Magical Girl and that he wanted to make amends for taking advantage of her, Mami just hugs Key and thanks him for coming back and helping her. Madoka, Sayaka, and Nagisa all eagerly share the same sentiment with Key and don't hold his past actions against him. Justified, since as far as they're concerned, Key is an entirely different person from Kyubey after he gained emotions and his own individual personality, and his act of saving Mami and Nagisa are all the proof they need.
- First Time Feeling: Key becomes overwhelmed when he gains emotions for the first time, which leads him to start noticing everything in his surroundings that Kyubey would have ignored due to it not being relevant to his mission. Key notes it felt like he was sleepwalking his entire life and he only just woke up.
- Foreshadowing: When Key first hears Homura mutter Mami's name, he almost stumbles on his feet. He also bears a shocked look on his face to see Mami herself, goes out of his way to save her in the fight against Gertrude despite Homura's orders to stand back unless it's necessary, and tries to warn Mami about Kyubey as soon as possible, even when Homura tells him she's a lost cause. It turns out that Key was the Incubator Drone that made a contract with Mami after she got into a car crash, and even though his connection to Kyubey's Hive Mind is severed, he still bears memories of what he personally experienced (including the girls he contracted with) and he wanted to help Mami to make amends for taking advantage of her and turning her into a Magical Girl.
- Freak Out: Mami's canon one to finding out the truth behind Witches is a big motivator for Homura to keep the other girls in the dark, something she enforces on Key. She only agrees to tell them when it seems that there might be some mitigating factors to prevent it. Even then, she's shown to be ready at a moment's notice to stop Mami if she displays any sign of trying to Mercy Kill the others.
- From a Certain Point of View: Kyubey continuously talks about how Key is mentally ill and how much he wants to help him. Hes not lying since, from his perspective, Key is mentally ill and needs correction. Key disagrees . . . vehemently.
- Frozen Face: Key is a notable aversion as he has normal eyes and mouth that move in time with his emotions. It's noted as making him more relatable than Kyubey.
- Heel Realization: When Key gains emotions for the first time and becomes an individual capable of feeling empathy, Key can only react with horror and shame now that he finally understands the pain that humans go through because of the Incubators. It takes some encouragement from Marethil for Key to decide to work on atonement.
- Heroes Gone Fishing: When Key is asked to watch over Nagisa, the two of them usually watch movies together, partially because Key has also gained an interest in human entertainment.
- Hive Mind: The Incubators as confirmed by Canon Word of God are explicitly show to be a Hive-Minded race. Specifically, Kyubey is shown to be the only individual consciousness in their entire race.
- Horrifying the Horror: Saya ends up on the receiving end of this twice. When Saya tries to eat Homura, she ends up invoking Key's ire as the latter burns her and threatens great harm on her if she dares harm another human, scaring her out of the hospital. It's also shown that Saya is utterly terrified of Slender Man, as Dr. Ogai's journal entries revealed that he had encountered the Humanoid Abomination and it drove Saya to run away.
- Humanity Is Infectious: A literal example ends up contributing to Key's origin. Key, back when he was an emotionless drone following Kyubey's will, drains the negativity out of a Magical Girl about to turn into a Witch just so he can convince her friends to make contracts with him. This ends up leading the drone to gain emotions and true individuality for the first time, and thus allowing the drone to become more human in personality.
- Hurting Hero: The Canon Examples apply here, but Key is shown to be deeply regretful and troubled by his past as an Incubator Drone.
- Intrigued by Humanity: After gaining emotions and individuality, Key starts see humans as amazing beings, which leads him to seek to help humanity to atone for his actions as an Incubator Drone. Key also shows a great interest in human entertainment, which leads him to watch movies with Nagisa during his free time.
- Killer Rabbit: While Kyubey was deadly in how he made lopsided deals and psychologically tortured the main characters, Key is more traditionally powerful. He actually takes part in fighting Witches and seems to have a certain amount of ability to manipulate energy.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: As in canon, when Madoka talks about having a dream with Homura in it, Sayaka talks about them (Sayaka had the dream too in this story) being like Anime Characters. She then follows it up with several sarcastic quips that are things that actually happened in the original Anime.
- Leonine Contract: As it happens, it was one of these turning out in an unexpected way that gave Key the ability to feel emotion.
- Also turns out that he was the drone that gave Mami her canon one of these.
- Made of Iron: Key offhandedly mentions that he modified his body to be this, so he doesn't get torn to shreds whenever he fights.
- Meaningful Name: Key's name as it turns out. He wants to be the Key to Kyubey's defeat, and thus chose the appropriate name.
- The Mentor: Ryoko Tanbo, at times, gives some much-needed comfort and advice to Mami. She seems to empathize a bit with how Mami feels pressured to always have a handle on things when they're dealing with Eldritch Abominations.
- Must Make Amends: Key recognizes Mami as one of the girls he made a contract with back when he was an emotionless drone. This is one of the reasons he tries to warn Mami about Kyubey and the Magical Girl as he wants to make things right between himself and Mami, regretting how he took advantage of her back then.
- My God, What Have I Done?: When the Incubator Drone that would become Key gains emotions for the first time, he is overcome with horror and remorse when he finally understands the pain he had put girls through by turning them into Magical Girls and condemning them to become Witches. This has led Key to turn the girl he drained the despair out of back into a normal girl so she won't have to turn into a Witch. This event, along with Marethil's encouragement, has led Key to become The Atoner by seeking to save as many Magical Girls and Witches from their torment as possible, as well as refuse to make more Magical Girls.
- Nice Guy: Key, as a result of becoming an individual who can feel emotions and empathize with others, proves himself to be kind-hearted and friendly when interacting with others. He wishes to atone for his actions as an Incubator drone, seeks to save every Magical Girl that has turned into a Witch, and actually goes out of his way to try and warn Mami, Madoka, and Sayaka about Kyubey as soon as possible, even when Homura is against it. In contrast to Kyubey's superficial politeness, Key's cordial and kind personality is genuine because of his emotions making him act more human.
- Noodle Incident: In the opening chapter, Homura mentions that at one point she wound up getting eaten by Walpurgisnacht and survived. No further information is given.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Key saves Oriko from a Witch's Labyrinth, which shocks her since she assumed Key was evil due to her vision of him fighting Walpurgisnacht. Unfortunately, before Key can get introductions in order, Kirika arrives and attacks him, thinking that he's trying to harm Oriko and forcing the latter to stop her from killing Key. While Oriko does save Key's life and heals most of the damage before running off with Kirika, Key still ends up traumatized from the attack.
- Not in Front of the Kid: A Running Gag has Sayaka and Kyoko having to censor their words in front of Nagisa and Yuma respectively whenever they were about to swear. This is humorously lampshaded when Kyoko is horrified to realize she spent so much time with Yuma that she stopped swearing.
- Not So Similar: When Ryoko finally reunites with Yui following Key purifying her Grief Seed, Homura thought their relationship is similar to her relationship with Madoka, since they both worked so hard to save them from their fate. However, Homura is shocked when Ryoko explains that Yui has decided to pass on, calling her out on giving up on her best friend. Ryoko explains that she isn't giving up; she wanted to save Yui from her state, and she has with the girls and Key's help. She's not going to force her to stay in the Land of the Living because she wants her to, she's going to respect her choice as a friend since she's made peace with what happened to Yui years ago.
- Painting the Medium: When a characters voice is supposed to sound alien and Eldritch, the author will often bold the words and change random letters to capitals to reflect this. SomEThInG liKE tHis.
- Rogue Drone: Played With. The Incubators are less Hive Mind in the sense of "many minds fused together" and more "one mind, many bodies." Key's flashback does note that there is some autonomy when Kyubey is more focused on directly piloting specific bodies over others, but it's likened more to robots with extremely detailed and sophisticated programming than actual living creatures. Key qualifies for this by default as he has managed to gain his own personality and sapience outside of Kyubey's control. On the whole, mostly due to gaining a conscience along with individuality, he VASTLY prefers his life now as opposed to before.
- Protectorate: Aside from Madoka for Homura, Key appears to view those close to him as this.
- The Stations of the Canon: As of the first few chapters, in spite of the presence of Key, things have gone more or less the same for Madoka, Sayaka, and Mami. The writer's notes also acknowledge that Walpurgisnacht is a set event that will happen. The Writer's Notes also say that this will eventually be an averted trope.
- Chapter 4 aggressively starts the process of the Canon progression of events being averted, most notably, with Mami surviving and Nagisa being cured of being a Witch.
- Chapter 5 Zig-Zags the trope as it contains several of the beats of Puella Magi Oriko Magica but both blends it with The Extra Story as well as purposefully changing and averting a few of the events.
- As of Chapter 17 the story seems to have driven completely off the rails as far as sticking to canon events. Several events of canon do happen, but the placement and context is usually played with. Similar to how the show would show 'echoes' of certain events through Homura's time loops.
- Vagueness Is Coming: In Chapter 4 its said that things other than Kyubey and Walpurgisnacht are taking note of the main characters and may potentially become problems. Naturally, what these things are go unrevealed.
- Chapter 5 gives Oriko a vision of a bad-future like in canon, but while the events are clear to a point, its kept ambiguous how and why things might progress to that point.
- Virtual Soundtrack: Used frequently in the story. Naturally, most of the music used comes from Madoka Magica itself. But there's a generous helping of others such as Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Ori and the Blind Forest, or Saya No Uta.
- A Wizard Did It: LampshadedSayaka: How does the tentacle extension thing work?
Key: Explaining that would be long, tedious, and take up time that we probably don't have. Let's just call it 'magic'.
Sayaka: You can't just say 'magic' like it's a good explanation.
Key: Magic exists, your argument is invalid.
- You Are Not Alone: Marethil affirms this in his goodbye to Mami in Chapter 4.
- Key does the same to Mami later on in the Chapter when she almost gives into despair after learning about the source of Witches.
- You Can See Me?:
- The Incubator Drone that would become Key expresses shock when a seemingly homeless man actually starts talking to him and reveals that he's aware of his presence, since only Magical Girls, or girls with the potential to become one, can see him normally. This ends up tipping off Key that man standing before isn't actually human.
- Ryoko Tanbo reveals that she can see Key as well, a revelation that shocks Key, though he quickly realizes that Ryoko must be a Magical Girl Candidate.
- You're Insane!: When Kyubey confirms Key's revelation about Magical Girls turning into Witches, Sayaka and Madoka proceed to call him out for trying to trick them like that, leading to this exchange:Kyubey: I don't really know what you mean by 'tricking' you? I provide you humans with a once in a lifetime opportunity. The granting of a single wish is something that no human is ever afforded in their whole lifetime. So why is it that you humans become so unsatisfied when you don't fully utilize the opportunity, or that there's a price to be paid? It's not as though I take away what your wish does, even after you become Witches.
Sayaka: [snorting] You're insane, aren't you.
Kyubey: That's not a very nice thing to say. From my perspective, you are the ones who're dangerously unhinged. And yet here I am devoting my time to giving you all the benefits of becoming Magical Girls.