and her cool pals!
“Does anyone hate this as much as I do?”
— Betty Biohazard
— Samantha Howard
— Emily Ackerson
”Oros! Aria! Binky!”
Betty called the names of her new friends as she wandered the halls of the hotel. Quietly, as Betty was aware there were people relaxing at all hours of the day, and who wanted to hear a teenager screaming the name of three other girls? Don’t answer that.
She had seen the portal open in her room, but she was hesitant to walk through it by herself. Because Betty knew that Justine would be there, and Eliza and Maura would likely be there with her. Needless to say, she wasn’t going to go to a party if she had to stand around someone who she despised. If that were the case, she’d just as soon stay home. She didn’t think Trixy was going to be there, as she and Tetrad had left with Veronica. That just left her new friends.
Oros was MIA, had been since this morning. Betty was a light sleeper, but Oros had left the hotel a 4 when she woke up. Aria had left to get something, and none of the Binky clones would say anything about Binky’s true location. They just went on about what a good-for-nothing weakling he was.
It looked like Betty was going to spend Christmas alone. She supposed she could always go down to the arcade and play around a bit, but it sucked that she couldn’t enjoy the party without rubbing elbows with Justine. If only there was someone else.
And there was!
Samantha Howard was likewise not eager to jump into the portal. Parties in Penrose were always a recipe for disaster, and she didn't exactly fancy Dan's place. The biggest obstacle to her rejection of the gathering entirely was Emily's request. Somehow, she couldn't back out of the promise she made last time they were on the beach, and the only people who generally had that sway on her were Veronica and Trixy.
Sam chalked it up to Emily appearing completely unthreatening, and honestly rather cute. It reminded her of Mika. Well, the one from this timeline. The difference was that Emily wasn't lewd in the least and her cheeks weren't as pinchable (or were they?).
"Ah, whatever!" she set off from her room to the entrance of the hotel in her costume. She had agreed to meet Emily before leaving for the party and the girl was due here any minute now. It was as she was walking that she saw a stray Betty, yelling (not really) out names.
"Hello," Sam greeted monotonously. "You're... Betty, right? I think I saw Oros leave, and some other girl left who might be Aria," she tried providing help.
Betty’s face lit up, like she had just locked eyes with the love of her life. ”And you’re Silhouette! Veronica’s number two!” Though as fast as that rush of joy came, it left her face. ”Maura, Maura’s number two. I think? Or did that go to Eliza?” With a sigh, Betty’s back fell against the wall, and she slid to a squatting position. ”So why are you still here? Not a fan of parties?”
Betty obviously struck a blow on Sam’s pride with the 'number 2' comment but she refrained from letting it completely sour her mood. "It doesn't really matter.” Sam lied, as it did, in fact, matter to her. As Betty took a squat on the wall, Samantha went down the hall momentarily. She turned back to answer Betty. "No, I can't say that I am. Never was, either, but they tend to get out of hand in Penrose." Sam rested an arm against a wall. "Should I assume the same can be said about you?"
She looked to Samantha. ”I don’t really have anyone to go with, and I don’t feel like being around someone who’s there.” She folded her arms. ”I like to spend time with friends if given the chance. But with her there I don’t think I’d enjoy myself too much.”
"I understand." Samantha nodded. "If it weren't for a friend of mine I wouldn't've even considered it. But she ended up convincing me to promise, so I can't stay behind," she again glanced down the hall, then turned to Betty with a raised eyebrow. "Someone upsets you that much?"
She scoffed before looking away. ”It’s Justine. I’m not ready to deal with her yet.”
Sam blinked. Repeatedly. "Did I mishear you? Because it sounded like you said 'Justine'."
”I did.” Betty turned her head back towards Samantha. ”Veronica had sealed that monster away forever. Not even a week after the fact, Maura released her on the behest of a Beacon agent of all things.” Betty looked back at the floor. ”’She’s been purified, I’ll keep a close eye on her,’ like that stopped Justine in the past.”
"You're... joking, right?" Samantha's tone became a lot less monotonous and a lot more irritated. "Maura can't be that stupid, right? To take Justine from a place she can't escape and just let her out, even after all we and a lot of other people went through to put her in?" It looked like Sam was either in doubt or about to have some sort of breakdown. "She knows that could only cause problems with more than half of Penrose. There's no way. It's another Justine, right?"
”It was disgusting to hear her talk about it with Beacon.” Betty stood up and turned to Samantha. She was visibly shaking. ”So this, this bimbo asked Maura what had happened to Justine, and she just casually mentions that she made a contract with her to keep her from falling back into Father’s hands. And then when I dared to say Justine had squandered the second chance she had been given, do you know what the sarraf of Beacon said? This is Alicia, mind you, not the ascendancy.” Betty Sniffed. It sounded wet. ”She said it was a matter of perspective!”
Samantha fell silent. Betty's emotions starkly contrasted Sam's. It didn't seem to make her sad, it just seemed to piss her off. "You know what? I won't stand for this! If you're telling the truth - and I have no reason to believe you're doing otherwise - then I'll just remove the problem myself. Those other ‘perspectives’ can fuck themselves.”
”I really wish I wasn’t.” Betty hugged herself. ”Mind if I tag along?”
After some time, Samantha looked down the hall once again. She exhaled a sigh. "...I just remembered that if it's at the party, I actually can't do anything physical there, so I’ll have to wait until later," she began to reign her anger in, slowly. "But I have choice words for Maura and Justine if she is arrogant enough to attend. I can't nor desire to stop you if you want to watch that."
Just then, a faint knock could be heard down the hall that Sam was constantly looking at. "It seems my friend is here..." Samantha almost seemed embarrassed by something. She looked at Betty. "I'll introduce you. She's the well-meaning, naive sort, so she'll definitely try to make friends. Uh..." she rubbed the back of her neck. "It's gonna be... weird."
”Weird?” Betty tipped her head like a confused dog. ”How so? A lot of magical girls seem pretty eccentric, I don’t mind.”
"She's going to be ecstatic about the party." Sam said, beginning her walk towards the door. "It's more that I doubt I'm going to be able to completely hide the fact that I'm about to tear someone's head from their neck. It's just going to be awkward, you know?"
It would only take a dozen seconds or less to reach the lobby entrance. Samantha opened the door and on the other side, of course, was an excited and costumed Emily. "You showed up."
"Oh, of course!" Emily beamed. "If something came up I would've told you! So are you ready?" she asked. It was at this point she noticed Betty behind Samantha. "Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t notice you had someone with you. Are you going to introduce me to your friend?"
”Oh, wow…” Betty’s eyes trailed up and down Emily in morbid fascination. After dealing with all that political intrigue, someone who could smile as brightly as this was a sight for sore eyes. The only other person she knew with such an infectious smile was Trixy. Betty found herself practically pushing past Samantha just to get a better look at her. ”Betty Barton!” She took Emily’s hand in her own and gave it a quick, firm handshake. ”We’re co-workers. She was just telling me about how excited you are for the party, but I didn’t get your name yet.”
“Oh, sorry about that, Betty! I’m Emily, a friend of Samantha’s!” Emily gave Sam an uncertain look as though she sought confirmation about that fact, prompting the black-haired girl to sigh.
Emily returned her eyes to Betty. “Anyways, are you coming to the party with us? Dan does a good job of providing for his guests from what I’ve seen, so I can’t wait!”
The overwhelming positive energy radiating from Emily only seemed to make Sam feel more awkward, like she had predicted. “Yeah…” she halfheartedly agreed with Emily who, at least for now, was fooled by Sam’s indifferent facade.
”I wasn’t going to.” Betty’s tone became somber, if just for a moment. ”But that was because someone I don’t care for was there. But if both of you are coming, I want to go too!” She crossed her brow as that trademark Betty Barton determination took hold of her. ”Let me go get dressed, I’ll be right back!” Betty took off to get on her christmas clothes.
Once Betty left, Emily’s smile almost disappeared. “Is something the matter?” she worried. “You don’t look happy at all.”
Samantha motioned for Emily to come inside the hotel and closed the door behind her. “I always look like this, you know.” Sam leaned against a nearby wall, crossing her arms and looking off at nothing in particular. After a few seconds, she began fidgeting by tapping her feet against the wall.
Emily looked at her feet, then back up to her. “...so, um,” Emily put on a brave smile. “It is okay if you don’t want to talk about it. We can talk about something else! Like, um, what you’re looking forward to most at the party? Is it a game? Food, maybe?” She didn’t receive any answers from Samantha. “Uh, okay! What about people? Are you excited to see someone there? A friend, perhaps?”
Her question caught Samantha’s attention. After nearly a minute ruminating on something she looked down at the floor. “Everyone I am especially close to has left Penrose, so I don’t imagine they’ll be joining us today.” Sam then looked up at Emily. “Yeah, everyone’s… gone. All that remain are acquaintances. You’re the only friend I have left, so I’m here for you.”
“O-oh, well I’m very glad you agreed! I’ll make sure we have a great time!” Emily tried to keep the conversation from getting stuck in gloom. “Who knows, maybe you can find a new friend at the party! It’s certainly an opportunity!”
Samantha sighed. “I doubt people are going to want to be anywhere near me.”
“Huh?” Emily tilted her head. “Why is that?”
“You’ll see soon enough.”
It was not long before Betty returned while wearing a suitably Christmas-y outfit. It was just something you could buy almost anywhere this time of year. Just a red and white Santa suit. With black stockings.
”Sorry for the hold up! I wasn’t going to go before I met you two.” She stood between Emily and Samantha, eyeing them both individually. ”We should go before all the eggnog is gone.”
Betty found her hands being taken by Emily and squeezed tight with excitement. "You're absolutely right! Oh, I just love eggnog!" she looked around Betty to see Samantha. "Are you ready?" she asked, giving Betty her hands back.
"As I'll ever be.”
Eventually, the trio found themselves a part of the winter wonderland that Dan had created for the guests of the party. It was certainly worthy of praise, but that was probably the last thing on Samantha’s mind for now. Despite her clothing being rather unfit for the climate, having assumed they would just be at the beach, Samantha didn’t seem cold in the least. It could be the dolphin’s influence, the heat of the rage building within her, or perhaps the proximity to Emily, who was intentionally making the area around her warm.
In any case, now that they were here, Samantha didn’t seem like she was going to sit still very long. That was also the situation with Emily, although for completely different reasons. The fire-spec looked wide-eyed at everything around her and her mouth hung open in awe. “It looks so pretty!” she cheered, admiring the place.
While Betty was also surveying her surroundings, it was less out of wonder and awe. It didn’t take her long to spot Maura and the company she arrived with. ”Seriously?” Betty hugged herself. ”She personally arrives with Justine? ” Betty’s teeth were chattering, and not because of the cold.
Unfortunately, that was all the waiting Sam could do. Furious and looking for answers, she flounced in Maura’s direction, followed by Betty and a very worried Emily. She couldn’t care less about anything or anyone else at the moment. Mariette, when she approached and attempted to hand them a plushie, would not even register on Sam’s radar and was completely ignored by her.
Emily was lagging a few steps behind but still stopped for Mariette, offering an apologetic smile. “O-oh, sorry about that! I’m… not sure what’s going on, but I’m sure it’s just really important, so I don’t think Sam means anything by it!” Emily attempted to cover for them. Samantha didn’t slow down in the slightest, so Emily couldn’t wait around any longer. Though she wasn’t able to introduce herself, Emily did thank Mariette when the girl handed her a plushie and went ahead and took Sam’s too with the promise of telling the girl where it came from when she calmed down. She gave a very quick bow before letting Mariette continue with what she was doing and trying to catch up to the other two.
Her approach was anything but subtle. Anyone who bothered to stop and look at Sam could tell something wasn’t sitting right with her, and her direction only made it more clear what that was. Maura, of course, would eventually find it difficult not to notice the agent stomping towards her. It seemed she had more than her sisters to worry about.