Operation Capture Baba Yaga Castle (Part 3)
Operation Capture Baba Yaga Castle
|←Chapter 47, "Operation Capture Baba Yaga Castle (Part 2)||Chapter 49, "Operation Capture Baba Yaga Castle (Part 4) →|
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|Medusa separates the DWMA students to bring down Baba Yaga Castle and Arachne. As an ally makes his dramatic return, Ox Ford is reunited with Kim Diehl--only she is not how she once was.|
Operation Capture Baba Yaga Castle (Part 3) is the forty-eighth serialized chapter of the manga Soul Eater. It was reprinted in tankōbon form in Volume 12.
Death the Kid and Medusa, disguised as masked and cloaked Arachnophobia members, walk together, the reaper asking the witch whether they currently stand in the middle of Baba Yaga Castle. Medusa pauses, then confirms that indeed they stand in the center, to Kid's great relief. But actually, she is lying just to assuage the concerns of the symmetry-focused reaper.
At sunrise, Sid Barrett, Mira Naigus, and Azusa Yumi stand with DWMA soldiers. Sid asks Azusa whether she can identify what is happening inside Baba Yaga Castle. She uses Telesynchronization Thousand-Mile Eyes to contact Ox Ford. He telepathically explains that they are about to begin Medusa’s mission. Azusa concludes the discussion after reminding Ox to contact her in case of any problems. Sid is pleased at this news, as he refuses to allow Medusa to have unsupervised control over his students.
Sid is interrupted by DWMA soldiers to announce that "they" have arrived. While Sid is impressed how quickly the weapon and meister arrived, one of them says it is to be expected: "It is me, after all."
Baba Yaga Castle
Having guided the DWMA students to an isolated hallway, Medusa unmasks so she may direct the students to separate missions. Eight Demon Tool Locks, located in eight towers away from Baba Yaga Castle, generate magical gates preventing entrance into the Spider Queen Room, in the exact center of the castle and where Arachne sits upon her throne. While none of the DWMA students are magic users, and while there are eight Locks, Medusa argues that the students need only to destroy two of the eight locks, while Medusa and her team including Eruka will destroy the other six locks.
Medusa approaches Kilik Rung and Ox Ford, performing Vector Conduct to give them knowledge where to locate one of the eight towers: they now can see magic arrow-shaped markers she had planted around the Castle earlier (while the DWMA students were stuck with Arachnophobia tasks earlier that day), and these arrows are visible only to her and those students, not to anyone else in Arachnophobia. Medusa assigns Kilik and Ox to one tower, and Kid and the Thompsons to a second. Furious, Kid refuses, as he is tasked by the DWMA to monitor this witch. Maka Albarn interrupts, asking why Medusa does not send her and Soul Eater instead. Medusa explains that, as soon as the eight locks are destroyed, she depends on Maka's soul perception to guide her through one more trap that lies between them and Arachne's room.
As Kid again disagrees with any plan to destroy a lock rather than stay physically near Medusa to monitor her, Maka intervenes, arguing that, as she has the most anger against Medusa, so she also will be the most vigilant to keep an eye on the witch. "We can't really waste any more time arguing," Maka says. Kid acquiesces, allowing Medusa to implant Vector Conduct upon him, but still suspicious how this witch is manipulating his teammates. Before the teams separate, Maka stops to remind Ox that they will retrieve Kim Diehl no matter what.
Assigned to destroy one of the Demon Tool Locks, Ox, Harvar, Kilik, and the latter's weapons follow the Vector Conduct arrows, discussing how powerful is Medusa's magic. Kilik mentions that, before their teams split up, Medusa added one Vector Boost to each of his left and right weapon-powered punches for him to use if necessary during this missions. As Ox is impressed how well Kilik works with magic, Kilik is less enthused at "being compatible with a witch," silencing Ox. Kilik quickly apologizes, not meaning to criticize Kim. As long as they are on this missions, Kilik suggests, Ox should try to locate Kim's soul. But Ox, thinking his Soul Perception is less refined than that of Maka or Kid, worries he may not locate her. Even with how focused he is on Kim, Ox cannot locate Kim's soul.
Then Ox and Kilik hear Arachnophobia technicians discussing good results from recent tests of the Morality Manipulation Machine. Ox reasons that the technicians are discussing those "Demon Tool Soldiers" they heard Mosquito mention earlier. Harvar encourages his teammates to hurry to follow the Vector Conduct arrows—until Ox notices something: the soul of Kim Diehl, on a path different from Medusa's Vector Conduct directions. While Ox vascillates, assuming he is mistaken and the wavelength is not Kim's, Kilik urges Ox to follow that wavelength, on the chance of finding their friend. Kilik promises he can destroy the lock on his own, and unless Ox's "two pillars" talk is "just bullshit," he needs to prove his love for Kim. "The only arrows I can see are pointing that way, man!!" Kilik yells as he points to where Kim may be. Kilik then threatens to use Medusa's Vector Boost on Ox if he does search now for Kim. Ox and Harvar depart for Kim—a bit worried that Kilik's loud encouragement is going to blow their cover before the nearby, confused Arachnophobia technicians. But both meister and weapon are aware that Kilik's encouragement gives them one more reason to bring Kim home.
Alongside Harvar, Ox follows his Soul Perception to a room, its contents obscured by fog emanating from bottles. Arachne's worshippers, without their masks and cloaks, are collapsed but alive against the walls, dazed and giddy. The smell and smoke start to make Ox and Harvar feel dizzy as well. Ox and Harvar remove their masks and, while separating to quicken this search, determine to conclude this search as fast as possible before the fog affects them more.
Even as Ox can feel Kim's soul, he cannot locate her. He remembers the number of times he "force[d his] feelings upon" Kim, and questions whether he ever attempted to understand her. "If only I'd known she was a witch," Ox thinks, "maybe I could've been there for her, helped her cope," then she would not have left the DWMA. Sensing Kim's soul, Ox wants to apologize to her, as he chastises himself for failing to find her when he prides himself on his Two Pillars: "The intelligence to help the ones I love," and "the strength to keep them safe from harm."
Then Ox feels Kim's soul, stronger than before. He pushes through the fog, finding Kim and Jacqueline O'Lantern Dupre before him. Kim recognizes Ox, asking why he is here. Ox is so joyful to find her and Jackie and says they must come home now. But something seems different about Kim: she approaches Ox, backing him to a wall and wrapping her arms along his sides. "Why don't you take off this stifling cloak?" she asks, stripping Ox, breathing onto his neck, and rubbing her arms and chest onto him.
"Stop!!" Ox yells, the force of his push knocking Kim onto her backside. "This isn't you," Ox realizes. "You have more self-respect than this." On the floor, Kim groans in pain. Ox, concerned he hurt Kim, stops yelling and helps her to her feet. But as he helps her, he does not notice Jackie smirking.
Ox doubles over in pain, his legs growing weak as grips Kim by her shoulder for support. Blood drips onto the floor as Kim removes an Arachnophobia dagger she stabbed into Ox's gut. Ox collapses.
"That was too deep," Jackie teases. Kim stares at Ox, blankly, cursing this "fucking moron" for thinking she would ever be interested in any "nice guy." Kim kicks the collapsed Ox. "Morality's nothing but baggage," Kim concludes, which makes Ox realize what those Arachnophobia technicians were discussing: Arachnophobia has brainwashed Kim with the Morality Manipulation Machine.
As Kim brags of her allegiance to Arachnophobia, an alarm begins to sound throughout Baba Yaga Castle. As this noise surprises DWMA and Arachnophobia agents alike (except a passed out Giriko), Maka recognizes a soul wavelength outside of the Castle. In his room, Mifune as well can recognize this person, not by his soul wavelength but by his bloodlust.
Baba Yaga Castle Security Operations Room
Arachnophobia agents struggle to locate this person, who is moving so quickly that he is almost simultaneously tripping every single sensor around Baba Yaga Castle.
A noise rumbles throughout the forest. Trees splinter in the path of this fast, strong warrior.
Unfortunately, this warrior does not listen to directions, as back at Sid's camp, a DWMA soldier informs him that the young man left before receiving orders.
The young man screams as he tears up the forest, unable to locate Baba Yaga Castle until, finally, he arrives in front of Arachnophobia headquarters. Wielding Tsubaki Nakatsukasa, "the Great Black☆Star" apologizes for his late arrival.
Manga and Anime Differences
- Although this chapter has no exact analogue in the anime, both stories do feature Black☆Star participating in an attack on Baba Yaga Castle and against Mifune, as he is on a mission separate from a team including Ox Ford and Kilik Rung. However, in this chapter, Black☆Star had departed to train at the Nakatsukasa Residence to better learn his abilities with the Uncanny Sword, and in the anime, it took nearly dying at the hands of Mifune to allow him to better handle that weapon form with Tsubaki.
- As well, in the anime, only Ox Ford, Kilik Rung, and Kim Diehl were disguised in the Arachnophobia robes to invade Baba Yaga Castle, no other students from the DWMA. In this chapter, only Ox and Kilik, along with their weapons, wear this disguise, while Kim and Jacqueline were effectively kidnapped by Mosquito and brainwashed by the Morality Manipulation Machine.
- Also, in the anime, Azusa Yumi synchronized her vision with Kim Diehl, whereas in this chapter she synchronizes with Ox.
- This chapter features a colorized page when Kid questions Medusa about their location within Baba Yaga Castle.
- Whereas the sisters wore maid outfits at the end of the previous chapter, in this chapter Liz and Patty return to wearing their Arachnophobia robes. Later chapters reveal the sisters were still wearing these maid outfits under their robes, when they confront Noah.
- Sid claims Ox and Azusa have matching soul wavelengths.
- Kim was not practicing Soul Protection when Ox located her soul.