Katsu Wars - The Return of the Idols (Hikari's Birthday Surprise)

Minowa Hikari's birthday should have been a pretty regular affair. Unfortunately, on this particular day the world ended. It now falls to Hikari to fix this mess and restore the world to how it was meant to be... While I don't write fanfic any more, this is an older story I wrote for Hikari's birthday a couple of years ago. She's a cutie who got far too little screen time in Aikatsu itself, so this story was my way of giving her a little much deserved love on her birthday. It's also filled with silly action movie references and other humorous randomness, so... yeah, have fun :)

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1. Katsu Wars!

  Minowa Hikari, idol and social recluse, let out a heavy sigh. She was in her underground hideout as usual, dancing and practising, and had just finished a particularly lengthy and strenuous workout. She moved to the table near the door and picked up a neatly folded towel.

  “Aaah, so bright!” she said, staring up at the bright studio lights above her. She dried her forehead and dropped the towel back on the table, where it proceeded to slide off the edge like a lazy cat. Turning back to her stage, she was interrupted by the ground shaking.

  “Huh? Earthquake?” she muttered, holding her arms out for balance.

  It didn’t seem so, the tremors weren’t powerful enough, but there was a distinct vibration there and the table jumped about almost imperceptibly. A bright flash of light, so intense that it even penetrated the hallways leading to her hideout, forced her to shield her eyes with an arm.

  The light died away, leaving blotchy afterimages in her vision. As her sight returned, she shook her head a few times, blinking furiously. “What was that…? I’m meant to be the only sun down here!”

  She slipped out of her tracksuit and dressed in her Starlight uniform, then exited the room and made her way upstairs. As she came closer to the exit, she noticed something odd. An atmosphere as much as anything. Grey. A grey atmosphere.

  Hikari was confused by her own thoughts, but that’s exactly how it felt to her; grey and dull, as though the world had been bleached of all colour.

  She reached the top of the steps and made her way outside the audition building. All around her was grey. Grey, ash-laden sky. Grey buildings, decayed and crumbling. An inches-thick covering of dust and ash, also grey, was present on every flat surface. And swirling in the air, tonnes of particulate matter thrown up into the atmosphere by the flash incineration, blotting out the sun entirely.

  “What in the hell happened here…?” Hikari muttered.

  A ghostly voiced insinuated itself into her ears.

  “Hikari-chaaaaaaaan…!

  Hikari looked around and there, in all her translucent glory, was Ichigo. The ghost of Ichigo.

  “Hoshimiya Ichigo!?” she said, backing away a few steps.

  The ghost of Ichigo giggled. “Yep! Sorry, Hikari-chan, I… I made a mistake.”

  “What sort of mistake?” Hikari asked in a guarded tone, a singular eyebrow raised.

  “I shone too brightly and burned the world to a crisp!” Ichighost said, lowering her transparent head in shame.

  “Haaaa?” Hikari was rightly incredulous. However, gazing around herself at the devastated landscape, she knew Ichighost was telling the truth.

  “Oh! Also, happy birthday, Hikari-chan!” Ichighost added.

  “Eh? Oh, that’s today, isn’t it… wait, that’s not important right now!

  Ichighost gave another of her adorable giggles, made disturbing and ethereal by the hollow-sounding echo. “Actually, you’re technically a hundred years older today, Hikari-chan, congrats! You’re the oldest human alive! Actually… you’re also the only human alive, sorry.”

  “I… I don’t even know what to say,” Hikari muttered, taking in the post-Ichipocalypse campus. “Hang on, what’s this about a hundred years?”

  Ichighost nodded. “Yep! I uh… might have accidentally made the planet travel one hundred years forward in time. You know, similar to Star Trek? Or, wait, no, even better, Superman! When he spins the pla—anyway, shall we get on?” She gave a discrete cough upon realising her friend was giving her A Look.

  The Look morphed into a full-blown Glare. “Get on with what?”

  “Fixing the world! We can’t leave it like this, can we?”

  Nodding once or twice, Hikari agreed. “No, I don’t suppose we ca—you caused this!

  Another Ichighostly giggle with its ghostly harmonics echoed off the walls. “Sorry about that.”

  Hikari sighed. “All right, then, tell me what I need to do. I assume this is going to be some sort of Hero’s Journey?”

  “Yep! Well… mostly. Basically, you just need to find the missing idols, Miyabi-chan and Yuu-chan. I’m tentatively calling this operation ‘Katsu Wars: The Return of the Idols’.”

  “Aa.”

  Hikari turned at the sudden voice and saw Ran standing nearby, entirely still, eyes vacant. Or… what appeared to be her.

  “Oh, Ran’s still alive? I thought you said I was the only one?” said the Underground Sun in a vaguely annoyed voice. She had difficulty processing this situation.

  Ichighost shook her head. “No, that’s Randroid, a prototype android version of her that can only say one word, created by the great and renowned mad scientist, Kiigor. Sorry to get your hopes up, Hikari-chan.”

  “Aa,” quoth the Randroid.

  Hikari was silent for a moment. “That’s some weird science, right there…”

  Another familiar voice punctuated the still air, accompanied by an electrical disturbance that resulted in Randroid momentarily shutting down. “I’ll be forward!” the voice said in an excitingly Austrian accent.

  “Oh!” Ichighost exclaimed. “It seems the Idolator has come back to the future to help us restore the world!”

  Hikari couldn’t even summon the will to be surprised any more. She waved at the steaming figure crouched nearby. “Hey, Aoi-chan.”

  “If you want to find the idols, come with me,” said the Idolator, standing. She materialised a pair of shades and put them on. Clothing seemed to be of lower priority than looking cool.

  “Sure, why not? I’m beyond being surprised at anything now.” Hikari sighed and made her way towards the front gate of the campus, followed by an android that could only say one word and an Idolator who would probably end up being killed in a trash compactor. Or maybe dropped into lava or something? She sighed again.

  “Oh, you’ll need this, Hikari-chan!” Ichighost said. She floated forward and handed over a gold ring.

  Hikari turned it over and over, noting an unfamiliar script on the inside of the ring.

  Ichighost continued. “It’s called the Won Ring, you’ll need it when we find the idols!”

  “Why is it called the Won Ring?” Hikari sounded deeply suspicious. She privately added, ‘… or dropped into the fires of Mount Doom, that works, too.’

  “Because I won it in a raffle!”

  Hikari sighed. “I shouldn’t have asked. So, what’s first?”

  “Just one thing. Find the idols. Uh, I realise this isn’t very helpful.” Ichighost looked mildly embarrassed, insofar as it was possible to tell when she was basically just a transparent, glowing blue colour.

  “Aa.”

  “I am looking for these girls, have you seen them?” said the Idolator, holding up a picture of Miyabi and Yuu.

  “No, that’s why we’re looking for them, isn’t it?” Hikari said in an exasperated tone.

  “The Idolator has something of a one-track mind, don’t mind her,” Ichighost said.

  “Aa.”

  Hikari heaved yet another sigh. She’d always found Ichigo hard going, but now…

  “Let’s go,” she murmured, leading her motley band of misfits out through the front gate and into the city.

  It was equally devastated, not even a single building had escaped the destruction caused by Ichigo’s shining supernova of idolness. The group stopped near the centre.

  Hikari gazed around the empty streets, noting a prevalence of grey dust. “Amazing amount of ash everywhere…” she muttered.

  Ichigo looked shifty. “Yeah, just look at all that ash, I wonder where it came from…”

  “Aa.”

  “Ichigo-chan… you know something, don’t you?” Hikari said, narrowing her eyes.

  “It’s uh… it’s all the people who were caught in the burning.” Ichighost coughed, despite not having a physical throat any more.

  Hikari’s expression could be best described as horrified. “I wonder if there’s a shop with surgical masks anywhere nearby…”

  “My highly advanced Idol CPU has detected the presence of an aura,” said the Idolator.

  “Oh, looks like we might’ve found them!” Ichighost said.

  She floated off down the street, following the Idolator. The Randroid automatically followed them, leaving their subterranean sun by her lonesome.

  “If this is a dream, I’d really like to wake up about now,” Hikari muttered. She walked after the others.

  A short distance down the road, they turned off into a side street and stopped, their way blocked.

  “The Idolator requires passage through this area,” said the Idolator, addressing the black-clad figure impeding their progress.

  Hikari strolled up and took in the black figure with its black mask. She also noted a reddish-pink ponytail protruding from the top. “Darth Seira, I presume?”

  “You shall not pass.” The black figure brought what appeared to be a lightsabre out from under its cloak and activated it, the red blade spitting and hissing.

  “Dream Academy!” Hikari hissed, matching the continued hissing from the blade raised against her. “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.”

  “I think we’re mixing our references a bit here,” Ichighost mumbled to herself.

  The black-clad figure removed its mask, revealing Darth Seira’s true face. “Join the Spicy Side of the Aikatsu Sauce, Hikari! Only idol death awaits you if you continue on your current path.” She produced two cute idols, one with red hair similar to her own, the other a beautiful ginger girl.

  “Let me guess, these aren’t the idols we’re looking for?” Hikari said with a theatrical wave of her hand.

  Darth Seira nodded. “Indeed. Now, are you going to join the Spicy Side of the Aikatsu Sauce or not?”

  “Hold it right there, Darth Seira, those idols belong to me!” Another voice, another idol. Count Yurika dropped down behind Darth Seira and bared her fangs.

  Before Darth Seira could say a word, Hikari interrupted. “Again, I am forced to question this, Ichigo-chan. You said I was the last human alive, so why is Yurika—”

  “Hmph! I am a vampire, descendant of Count Dracula!” snapped Count Yurika. “Do not lump me in with lowly humans, thank you so very much.”

  Darth Seira turned and pointed her lightsabre at Yurika. “I have been waiting for you, Count Yurika! When we last met, I was but the learner. Now I am the master!

  “Only the master of spice, Darth!” Yurika countered.

  “The spice extends life. The spice expands consciousness. It is the most precious substance in the universe, Count Yurika, you know this to be true! Now, join me!” Darth Seira said.

  Hikari raised a hand. “Uh, excuse me? Weren’t you just trying to get me to join the Dark Side of the Spice?”

  “The Spicy Side of the Aikatsu Sauce!” Darth Seira corrected her.

  “I think Hikari’s version is better,” said Count Yurika.

  “I agree!” Ichighost said.

  “Aa.”

  “I am looking for these idols, have you se—

  “We’ve done that!” Hikari snapped. “Anyway, are you two coming with us? Or are you going to hang around here arguing about naming sense?”

  Count Yurika shrugged. “I suppose I will join you, I have nothing better to be doing.”

  Darth Seira nodded her own agreement and deactivated the lightsabre, its length going thoroughly flaccid. “We can argue while walking, no problem.”

  “Aa.”

  Darth Seira went to put the lightsabre away but managed to drop it. Bending down to pick it up, her skirt got caught in her own belt, riding right up to reveal her backside, resplendent in Ewok print panties.

  Yurika, meanwhile, was gazing up at the sky. “Ah, what I wouldn’t give to catch a glimpse of the beautiful moon…”

  “Darth Seira’s got you covered,” Hikari said, her cheeks glowing like a stubbed toe. “You know what they say, the harder you squeeze, the more things will fall through… the crack.”

  Darth Seira turned bright red and returned upright, adjusting her skirt. “That was uncalled for.”

  Ichighost floated forward. “Let’s go! The Idolator has started moving again, I think it’s best that we follow her!”

  “Anything’s better than continuing this silliness,” Hikari said.

  As she strolled forward, their two new companions fell in beside them, bickering continually over Darth Seira’s many failings as a Dark Lord.

  Soon, they arrived at a small shop set back from the other buildings. Hikari glanced at Ichighost, who nodded. She opened the door and stepped inside, noting how this seemed to be the only building in the city unaffected by the supernova.

  A little way inside, they were stopped by the appearance of an idol with blue and purple hair and an enormous spliff perched in the corner of her mouth. “Greetings! Before I can let you pass, you will need to answer a question. What! Is your favourite! Colour!?

  Hikari’s expression was wooden. “Blue.” Well, at least it was nothing to do with the carrying capacity of swallows…

  “Correct! Now,” Sora removed the spliff and used it to point behind her towards a dark doorway, “that place... is strong with the Dark Side of the Spliff. A domain of evil, it is. In, you must go.”

  “The Dark Side of the Spliff?” Hikari said.

  “Oh, did I say that? Sorry, I meant Spice, yes.” Sora looked momentarily embarrassed, before moving to one side and letting the group pass.

  “See, Darth Seira? It sounds better like that,” Count Yurika pointed out.

  Darth Seira sighed. “Fine, have it your way. Can we get on? I have planets to destroy.”

  Hikari nodded and pushed ahead, moving through the dark doorway and into a large chamber, dark as a crypt at midwinter except for a faint yellow glow, as of a sick firefly, up ahead. She moved towards this, the rest of the group fanning out behind her.

  “We’ve found the idols!” Ichighost said, floating forward and using her own glow to illuminate the area, blue mixing with yellow to create a nauseatingly septic green.

  And there, tableaux-like, stood Miyabi and Yuu, frozen in time and frozen in place.

  “What’s wrong with them?” Hikari asked. She prodded Miyabi and received a mild electric shock.

  “They’re stuck in time,” Ichighost said. “You need to unstick them, Hikari-chan!”

  “Okay, let’s get this charade over with,” Hikari said. She pulled the Won Ring out and held it up. “I assume I need this now?”

  “Yep!” Ichighost said. “Stand next to the two of them and put the ring on!”

  Hikari moved next to Miyabi. She placed the ring on her finger and immediately vanished. A moment later, she reappeared, frozen in place, unable to move, her complexion turning a pasty white colour similar to the other two. And in that moment, Hikari realised she had been tricked.

  “Ichigo-chan! What—” she yelled, before her throat seized up completely.

  “Sorry, Hikari-chan, this is the fate of all those whose calling is that of Shop Supporter. I’m as trapped in this cycle as you are, there’s nothing I can do, sorry.” Ichighost sighed, apparently having resigned herself to her fate a long time ago.

  Hikari attempted to move, but couldn’t. She was stuck in time, exactly as were Miyabi and Yuu, lost forever to the world of idols. On the bright side, her sacrifice meant the rest of the world would return to the way it was. But this was little consolation for Hikari herself, or the two girls who had already been frozen before her.

  As she lamented her situation, she felt a tremor like the vibrator of the gods, the whole world pitching back and forth as though someone had picked it up, turned it upside down, and was now shaking it to see what would fall out of its pockets.

  The shaking became worse and worse, until…

 

***

 

  Hikari awoke. Her head was pillowed in her arms against a counter of some sort. And she was sitting on a tall barstool? She took a bleary look around.

  “Morning, Hikari,” Ran said, relaxing on the next stool over.

  Hikari realised the shaking motion she had felt in the dream was her friend attempting to rouse her. “Oh… Ran? Morning. Jeez, that dream… talk about a nightmare! Wonder if I should cut back on the cheese before bed…”

  “Hm? What dream?”

  “No, nothing.” Hikari stood, stretched, and took in her surroundings. They didn’t seem familiar. She walked towards what appeared to be a window, misted over, and used her sleeve to clear the moisture, revealing—

  “What the hell…” she muttered. Looking out of the window, she could see the world below her, bathed in grey clouds, smoke, and wisps of ash. She turned back to Ran. “No… that was just a dream! It was!

  Ran smiled. “Aa, that one was. This one isn’t. Happy birthday, Hikari!”

  Hikari screamed, “Nooooooo!

  “Ran, stop being mean to Hikari-chan on her birthday,” Ichigo said. She walked over and moved the wall to the side, revealing a studio. “We’re filming ‘To the End of Tomorrow’, remember, Hikari-chan?”

  Hikari stopped screaming and looked embarrassed. Oh. Yes, of course, they were filming a new movie together and were on the set to check things out. Hikari had been up late talking to Ran about their roles. Clearly she had managed to nod off on the counter of this café in the sky set they were using.

  A relieved sigh escaped her lips. “You know, normally I despise endings where the main character wakes up and it was all a dream. But in this case, I’m actually rather pleased it was. Come on, let’s go and get something to eat, I’m hungry. And… thank you, Ran, for that awful surprise. And for the birthday wishes, of course.”

  Ran grinned at her and nodded. “Any time, Hikari.”

  The girls exited the studio together and sauntered into the city to find something to eat. All in all, Hikari considered, today hadn’t been a bad birthday. Birthday wishes from Ran were all the happiness she needed, after all.

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