While some of the clique-y-er girls were still testing out their powers, most of us were looking at the various portraits, carefully studying the nameplates, the histories, everything. Many of the girls were wishing they were allowed to have their phones on them so they could take selfies beside the Galaxy statue, but none of the girls are allowed to have smartphones during Orientation. I remember 13-year-old me was always a little self-conscious that at the time, my parents didn’t even let me own a smartphone.
The atmosphere in the Grand Foyer was a lot more upbeat; I was just looking at the different portraits on the walls and just beginning to smile at the fantasy world laid out before me. At my side, an excitable, glasses-touting girl seemed willing to share her deep knowledge of magical girl trivia with anyone who’d listen. And that anyone was me.
“Oh my gods, this illustration of the girls from Cardmancer Haruhi is using the alternate outfits from their crossover with Sailor Galaxy! I always thought these alt outfits were so kawaii!” she beamed, wide eyes hidden behind thick frames.
“Really? I never knew Haruhi did a crossover with Galaxy,” I casually responded, seeing how ecstatic she was to be here.
“Yes! It was never really an actual manga or anime crossover, but there was a cross-promotional trading card edition! The cards are really rare and there wasn’t much actual story to it, but you can technically use Galaxy characters as cards in the Haruhi trading card game! I actually wrote a fanfic about Haruhi meeting Akko if you wanna read it sometime!”
I didn’t really have any interest in reading whatever kinds of sugar-rush fanfiction this girl had cooked up.
“Sure,” I responded. Her eyes got wider. It was like this girl was going to burst into a cloud of sparkles at any moment with how exciting this all was to her.
“Eek! I’m so happy to be making magical girl friends already!” she responded. She took off her glasses to reveal a pretty, doll-like face underneath, waving her hand out to me more formally.
“My name’s Bailey!”
Before I could respond, a new set of names was announced on the intercom: “Bellarmine, Loonburg, Waspman. Please report to the registration table for your group formation.”
My gut flared up with anticipation at hearing my name, but Bailey was already telling me even more before I had a chance to say anything.
“That’s my name! I’ve gotta go meet the girls in my group!” She said.
“Really!? That’s…they called me too! My name is Ellery. Ellery Loonburg.”
“I’m Bailey Bellarmine! Oh wow! That must mean…this means we’re gonna become best friends and perform in the same magical girl group together one day! OMG, this is so amazing! Ellery, let’s go together!!”
Bailey offered her hand out to me with so much passion that a few sparks shot out of it. Up to this point I had just been quietly watching everything going on around me, but this girl was so excited to have transformed and to be here. I took her hand, and she began skipping through the Foyer. Anyone knowing me knows I would never do that on my own, but Bailey’s enthusiasm was infectious. Soon I found myself skipping alongside her as she giggled, the two of us holding hands all the way to the desk.
“I’m Bailey, and this is Ellery!” She explained to the lady at the registration desk before I even had a chance to open my mouth. Having seen two magical girls literally skipping together to their group, the lady put her hands together and looked at our camaraderie in affectionate awe. Maybe Bailey seemed a bit too excitable about all things mahou, but she seemed to be a nice girl for our group. I was relieved to have her around.
We were told to wait as our third girl arrived. After a moment I looked around and saw her walking forward from out of one of the cliques. I got a little nervous as I recognized the third member of our group as one of the girls in a clique I had seen bullying one of the crying Kelpies earlier. She was alone now, long azure hair, delicately moving forward with the air of a queen bee. I was wearing my school uniform and Bailey was wearing casual clothes, but this girl was wearing very nice clothing that looked like the regalia of a very, VERY expensive private school. She arrived at the desk looking us over and sizing us up in behind an impenetrably cool smile.
“Hello! My name is Tiffany,” she said firstly to the registration desk before slowly turning to us with an air of prim superiority.
“Hi Tiffany! My name is Bailey, and this is Ellery!” Bailey shot out enthusiastically.
“…Hey,” I responded. The registration lady chimed in towards Tiffany.
“Hello Mrs. Tiffany! It says here that you are the daughter of Karen Waspman?”
“Yes I am,” she replied.
“Oh, you look so much like your mother! It’s so incredible to see a legacy magical girl!”
I didn’t know what she was talking about, but the resident trivia expert next to me did.
“You’re the daughter of Karen Waspman!? She was one of the original magical girls who sang on the first ever magical idol broadcast!!”
“I most certainly am,” Tiffany nodded back to Bailey, pleased with the recognition of her apparently-storied pedigree.
Tiffany gave me some pronounced prima-donna vibes, but if she was nice to us and a good team player I’d love to have her. Now that our group was set, we began walking over to the Crystal Ball auditorium for our orientation presentation. Bailey held out her hand to Tiffany, probably hoping for the three of us to skip together, but Tiffany just smiled at her and kept her hand to herself, to which Bailey retracted and we began walking more casually. It looked like the gang was set, and pretty soon we’d be organizing our own magical girl group. Who knew where it’d go from here?