Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago
Zeroth Post
Some places are believed to be a nexus, a site where magical energies coalesce and spread out across the land. While blessed with such arcane force, they are also considered to be cursed, for they often draw in beings both good and evil: Patrons seeking power, resources, peace, or even simple amusement for themselves. And yet, so many have turned their sights to Penrose of all places. Is it a true nexus, where Horrors can truly manifest, and Gods can enact their divine will? Where Lesser Forces ride on wings of destiny, and Puchuu seek great promise and potential in hearts yet to shine? Or is it by mere chance of fate that so many Mahou have come together to stake their claim on the ravaged earth? Not even the most accomplished seer could tell what would lie in Penrose’s cloudy future.

A new year passed a week ago on the city, promising new change. For one, the mundane population has fully recovered and new construction sites have popped up among other relief efforts. This has been thanks to Covington Industries, a company that has risen to become the most popular and most employed in the city. If you were to ask the average citizen on the street who the Penrose Pick of the Month would be, 90% would answer Thane Covington, the CEO of Covington Industries. Despite his mysterious illness, the CEO has continued appearing in press conferences and public events through remote streaming, and has become a symbol of Penrose’s endurance and will to survive past any disaster.

“In today’s news, Thane Covington of Covington Industries has announced a purchase of the Penrose Orphanage-”

The TV was clicked off, and Lily yawned while tucked in a blanket burrito on the couch.
”Yep, old Thaney’s doing good work," she spoke to Alex as she grabbed chips from a bag and took out her smartphone.
”Magical girls can solve monster problems, but repairing the damage they can cause is a bit harder~"

She scrolled through Glimmr, the social media app, made by magical girls for magical girls, and looked through the Penrose tag.
”Hmm, Alicia liked the last meme I posted," she mumbled with a smile, and then stopped.
”Wait, what? Speaking of!"
She stood up, knocking over the bag of chips, and showed it to Alex.

”Monsters! And a lot of them, by the looks of it. This post mentions a pack running fast through Central. You know what this means, right Alex?" She asked with a determined smile. Then, she lifted her hand up to the ceiling, and called out her incantation:

"Let my spirit gallop across the field of clouds, and strike my foes down with thunderous applause!"

Crackling, electric energy surrounded her, followed by the clicking sound of a clock, until it hit twelve clicks, at which point the glow suffused, and Lily Lightning had taken the girl’s place.

”It’s time to frizzle some fiends!”

Meanwhile, at Beacon headquarters monitoring room, Alicia was making her routine patrol report writeup. Penny was about to head out of the room when Rachel stopped her. “Hey, Penny…There’s something Isthar wants to discuss with both you and Alicia. We need to hold a-”

That was when Elora spoke up: “Beacon patrol requesting backup! Multiple B-grade monsters sighted!”

Rachel turned to the cybermancer. “Location?”

Elora began typing fast, and soon dots began appearing on the map displayed on the wide screen before her.

“I’m detecting…six sites of activity, maybe four soon due to monster pack merging. Beacon patrol was detected at the industrial sector, but there’s only two signatures. There’s the train station with a low number of signatures, the hospital with a large number, probably civilians under assault…” Lines of code whisked by as Elora continued typing.
“Monsters identified: wendigos. Other sites include the Central Street, medium number but moving extremely fast. Requires personnel with high mobility. Then there’s the site at the Penrose Bank, small to medium number, and at the business district. Magical signature number…unknown at the moment.”

Rachel turned to Penny and Alicia. “Will you be heading out?” She asked.

Justine wandered the dark halls of her castle, wearing her white and black dress with her leathery bat wings folded on her back. Her pronounced canines glinted in the candlelight that always lighted up one step ahead of her, only to be snuffed out a step behind, as if leading her along a set path through the maze. Despite having lived in this grand place for untold centuries, Justine felt like she could become lost at any misstep, devoured by darkness that pooled around her. Soon, she saw footprints, made in blood, and chased after them; she recognized to whom they belonged. She rounded a corner, and…She saw someone facing away from her, staring at a bloody message on the back wall of the cold, dungeon-like room. She turned, and Justine saw her sister, smiling in a deranged fashion, her lips and hands stained. The message on the wall boiled as Justine read it:


Then, before she realized it, Caroline screeched, her mouth widened far more than was humanly possible, filled with needle-like teeth, and lunged for her. Justine struggled, but her fangs were going for her neck-!

Justine woke up startled from her bed in Maura's abode, and breathed heavily as she came to terms with what she thought she saw, only to realize it was a nightmare. Of course, Justine no longer had her bat-like wings or old dress, her purified form having lost such relics of her monstrous past. Nor had she been in her castle ever since it’s destruction.
After her duel with Tenebra, Justine had occasionally woken up in the middle of the night from restless dreams.
”But why…” She mumbled as she took a hand towel from the nightstand, wiped her brow, and then hugged her knees.
”I keep seeing her in my dreams…Caroline…”
Hidden 5 mos ago Post by Ariamis
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Ariamis MonMon

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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Card Captor
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Card Captor The passing through Kamen Rider

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In hindsight, it was actually kind of amazing that things had been so calm for this long.

After all the hostility and tension that built up when the magical natives of Penrose returned from their vacation after a few days to find out that months had passed, and their home had become magical Detroit, it sometimes felt like a struggle to put the pieces back together, especially when the new kid in town were crazy zealots who tried to cause trouble for some of the locals they didn't like. The magical civil war (more of a civil battle to be honest) couldn't have helped.

Then things cooled down with a Christmas party...somehow. Only to get un-cooled down by the zealots. They should be on the brink of another magical civil war...

'And yet a week later, and all we got is a pack of monsters running around. A bigger than normal one, but still just a pack. As grateful as I am, something about this doesn't feel right.' Alexander thought to himself from his place behind Lily on her motorcycle as they sped through the city streets, the boy now numb to her insane driving "Hey Lily, doesn't this feel off to you? It's been a week since the tournament, and things have been quite till this random pack of monsters. That tournament didn't really have a happy ending, and I was expecting it to make the political tension in Penrose even worse. But this...just feels tame. Like the days before the Vacation, and I can't figure out why. It's kind of got me on edge. Hell, I've had time to take a collage course on magical cooking for fucks sake. Something about this just doesn't add up"
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Bright_Ops
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Bright_Ops The Insane Scholar

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The sound of rain on the glass of the covered windows was a familiar, comforting one. If she kept the curtains firmly closed, she could even pretend that it actually was rain that was touching the glass.

Shortly after her Patron had granted her this apartment Coco occasionally had looked out the windows, trying to come to some understanding of the alien landscape that existed outside of the glass. Sometimes she still did when she felt an artistic urge seize her before she tried to capture a view that so few humans might have ever had the chance to see. But not when it rained. Never when it rained. That was the time when she closed the curtains and focused her attention elsewhere. Because that noise wasn't rain and what it was proved unsettling to witness.

So she enjoyed the comfort of her easy chair, a bowl with two packets of chicken flavored noodles steaming next to her as she continued to read through the collective works of Lovecraft while Rupert napped on his own comfy chair. Part of her choice of reading material was due to a desire to read some of the classics that had formed the corner stone of human literature; She had made it about halfway through the Count of Monte Cristo before the writing style had caused her to put it down and never pick it up again, but while Lovecraft's own writings were clearly old fashioned, she found it helped capture the themes the writer was striving for.

It was also educational. Oh a lot of it was simply the paranoia of a rather close minded man in an era where his certainties were being eroded and overturned at every corner and it was doubtful any of the 'gods' or alien races he had written about actually existed, but despite its flaws it did give one a fairly solid idea of what to expect when encountering the servants of a Horror.

Still, it was nice to have a little down time to herself. Greed would normally have been keeping her busy, but right now he wanted her laying low for a while. The political situation in Penrose was delicate with the balance the power currently in flex... and he wanted to make sure he knew just how to deploy her to make sure that the change was to their favor.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Ponn
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A Tale From The Timeskip

It was several days after the Christmas Party when the call Violet had been dreading finally came. Al's familiar voice greeted her on the phone.

"Greetings, Miss Covington. Would you be available for a meeting, same time and place? There have been some new developments you might be interested about."

“Mister Scarpe, a pleasure as always,” Violet replied, her calm and polite demeanor betraying no hint of the fury she felt towards Scarpe and the Mint as a whole. They were the ones who had attacked Penny’s Sanctuary, after all, but Violet Covington wouldn’t know anything about such matters, and so her carefully constructed facade needed to be maintained. “I shall indeed be available this evening. What developments did you wish to discuss?”

"It is related to the assignment you have graciously offered to us," Al answered. "I would prefer explaining in person, if you don't mind."

“Very well,” Violet replied. “Then I shall see you tonight.”

With the call concluded, Violet was left to ruminate upon exactly what the Mint would utilize her company’s resources to accomplish. Despite her fervent hopes to the contrary, she feared that whatever it was, it wouldn’t be anything good...

That evening…

Al had appeared in Violet’s office as subtly as ever, and politely tipped his hat to her.
“Good evening, Miss Covington. I would like to start with the report on the investigation we have made on the magical curse put on your father.” He held out a file in his hand, and let it float to Violet’s desk, opening up and spreading the case files of two people, pictures included.
“We have identified two culprits for the incident. The first one is Amanda Valentine, a member of the Crimson Cradle. It is a magical terrorist organization that is currently operating in Penrose, and have been responsible for past attacks on people of wealth and influence,” he stated in a calm manner.
“However, while Amanda specializes in the manipulation of dreams, her arcane skills don’t quite match up to the profile of the nightmare curse that mister Covington is suffering from. That is the reason an accomplice is involved in this crime: Connie Williams. A freelancer, Williams has been identified as capable of casting nightmare-inducing spells. Valentine had employed Williams, and together they created a curse that has persisted despite our efforts to remove it.”

It took all of Violet’s willpower to maintain her impassive demeanor upon seeing the pictures Al presented her with. Thankfully, she had undertaken years of training since childhood to do just that, and so the heiress simply stated a curt, “I see,” as she committed the files’ details to memory. After doing so, her gaze returned to the Mint representative. “Have you discerned any motive?” she inquired. “Or perhaps the identity of some third party who hired them to commit this heinous act?” she added, having a strong suspicion of where this might be headed.

“It is currently under investigation, but a lead has been discovered that leads back to Silverburg,” Al answered. “Based on that lead, we have reasons to believe that a rival corporation has employed Crimson Cradle, and in turn Valentine and Williams, to sabotage Covington Industries by means of incapacitating your father.”
He lit a cigar. “They wanted to be discreet, so they didn’t hire an assassin. They wanted the company’s stocks to remain unchanged by creating a bizarre situation that has no explanation in the mundane world, and thus ensure it is ripe for the picking for a possible takeover. Which leads me to a new business proposition.”
Al now handed out a new paper of a business plan, the details of which were included within.
“It is only a matter of time before the Cradle may strike again or otherwise compromise the integrity of your business, using means the regular police can’t track. In short, I would like to offer your facilities magical security and surveillance. We are fully equipped to handle any attempts at corporate espionage that may come from magical sources, and can do so discreetly, without letting anyone else in the company know of our presence. We also have plans on creating automated defenses capable of defending against arcane attacks. Of course, all of this is to be offered for a reasonable fee to be agreed on.“

Violet had to fight off the desire to roll her eyes. This was certainly proceeding by the numbers. Of course he would insinuate that DDS was ultimately responsible. Playing into established animosities was an old trick, and one that would have worked flawlessly with her father. But not her. And especially not now… The new contract for additional security was concerning, to say the least, but Violet was content to play the part of the cooperative pawn for a while longer. After all, it wouldn’t do to tip her hand just yet, not when she could glean so much potentially useful information from this partnership.

“I suspected as much,” Violet would note with a scowl as she did her best to channel what she knew her father’s own reaction would be. “Our most implacable rival, Demiris Defense Systems, would most assuredly be willing to stoop to such underhanded methods. Especially if they thought it might give them a chance to challenge our current position of dominance in the world market. Thankfully, we have connections to the mystical world as well,” she added, while giving Al a confident smile. “I would be only too grateful to accept your offer of enhanced security. Whatever the price, I am sure it shall be well worth the expenditure if it prevents any further attacks from these detestable wretches.”

"I assure you it will," Al responded as he walked over to the desk, and took out a new paper, seemingly made of shimmering gold.
"I have prepared the contract in case you were interested in the proposal." He wrote into it with an onyx pen, and then offered it to Violet.
"As you can see, our rates are competent in the security standard without sacrificing quality. The package can also be modified to suit your needs."

Examining the contract, the heiress made careful note of the specifics, her photographic memory greatly assisting in this regard.

“I believe this shall be acceptable,” she declared after she had looked over each page, and ensured that her bedchamber and private study would remain free of any forms of surveillance. “Once again, it is a pleasure doing business with you,” she added as she produced an ornate pen and signed her name with a graceful flourish. The letters shimmered when she finished writing.

Al nodded, and accepted the paper back. "I will now begin the preparations for your new security. Thank you for choosing the Ebon Mint. Goodbye." He bowed, and then disappeared, like a flicker of flame in the darkness.

As soon as Violet was certain she was alone, the heiress retrieved a thin rectangular device from a secret compartment in her desk. Amanda and Connie would need to know about this immediately. Penny as well. Thankfully, she had recorded her entire conversation with the Mint representative, and she now transmitted that audio file to the relevant parties.
I can only hope this will be enough to keep them safe…

A few days later, Violet was once again contacted by Al Scarpe, this time, with details on how the Mint would be employing the resources of Covington Industries. The fact that an entire production facility would need to be retooled by technicians from someplace called The Gourd was concerning enough, but seeing what it had been retooled to produce was far, far worse. Still, the heiress mused, perhaps some good could come of even this shocking development. If the Mint's creations stood any chance of being effectively opposed, she would need to fully test their capabilities and see if any exploitable weaknesses presented themselves. Fortunately, she knew the perfect people to help her with that...

It was late at night. Even the most dedicated of Covington Industries’ employees had long since retired for the evening, and all was quiet in the vast testing chamber beneath Covington Tower. As was the case during Mayra’s prior visit, it was configured to resemble a generic urban area, bisected by a broad thoroughfare. It was in the observation room which overlooked this chamber that Violet Covington awaited the arrival of some very special guests.

A couple portals opened, because just like last time they had to convince Mariette to let them go. Still, as the three portals opened, so too did three individuals drop through. A girl in black hood with metal limbs, a dark-scaled dragon girl with blazing fiery hair and yellow details and a pink-haired witch in a purple dress that froze the floor where she landed.

‘HEEEEEEEY! WE’RE HEEEEEERE!’ Mayra called out happily and without a care in the world, waving into the giant chamber.

‘Wh-wha-’ Victoria staggered a bit. ‘I know we were invited, but are you sure you want to be that loud in the middle of the night?’ she asked, looking a tad worried.

‘Eeeeeeh, it’s probably fiiiiiine~!’ Mayra grinned happily, not really caring.

‘Hahaha!’ Jelena laughed a bit. ‘Last time was interrupted because Mayra went berserk, this time, I should get to fight something too! Perhaps some scraps to add to my collection…’ the metal-legged girl said, summoning some metal from her hammerspace handbag to circle around her already.

“Good evening, everyone, and welcome” a refined voice greeted them over the chamber’s speakers. If the trio were to look up at the observation room, they would see a dark-haired young woman smiling down at them. “I am Violet Covington, your host, and from the descriptions our mutual friend, Magical Dream Princess, provided, you must be Miss Mayra, Miss Jelena, and Miss Victoria, correct?”

‘… Huh, that’s not the kind of voice I imagined,’ Victoria commented.

‘That’s us! She invited us to break some bots for you, that right?’ Mayra said, enthusiastically from the front.

‘Do you mind if I take some parts of the robots with me? I’m very curious, haha,’ Jelena asked, chuckling for herself on the side.

“Yes,” Violet confirmed when Mayra voiced her question, “She did convey as much, and I have endeavored to prepare a suitable array of opponents for you. Unfortunately,” she added, addressing Jelena, “None of our drones are permitted to leave this building, unless, of course, you wish to purchase one.”

Depending on how good their eyesight was, they might see the corner of the heiress’s mouth curl up in a slight smirk.

“Furthermore, you will not be facing any of our upgraded combat drones this evening. Instead, I have a special treat for you, one which I believe you shall all find most enjoyable. A business associate recently commissioned the creation of a new line of combat automaton,” Violet explained. “They furnished the plans for it themselves, and although it pains me to admit it, their design is far in advance of anything Covington Industries has yet produced. Thus, I trust it will provide you with a challenge befitting your abilities. As an added bonus,” the heiress added, “I, too, shall take to the field. Ever since your first visit, I have been eager to see how my personal VR piloted command drone, The Violet Princess, would fare against you, and I believe this is a most excellent opportunity to put its abilities to the test.”

‘Ooooh, excellent!’ Mayra cracked her knuckles a bit, getting excited. ‘I’m looking forward to seeing what you can do! This might burn a little~’ Mayra said, maybe not entirely understanding that Violet might be commanding it over a distance.

‘Haha, the parts I was going to take with me would be the scrap-metal left after I’m done with them, but okaaay~!’ Jelena was feeling similarly excited, but more in the frowning determination way than Mayra just looking really happy.

‘… A business associate? Who’d have drone designs far superior to yours…?’ Victoria asked, sounding a touch worried, perhaps.

“As I am sure you are aware, I am not at liberty to discuss such things,” Violet told the ice mage. “As it is, I may be overstepping my bounds simply by allowing you to see them, to say nothing of fight them, but, like you, I am also curious as to their capabilities. Now then, shall we begin?”

‘Hahaha, got it, Skynet doesn’t want us to know they exist before Judgement Day, no problem, we can work with that, now bring on the Terminators~’ Jelena said with an amused tone. Neither Mayra nor Victoria understood the reference.

‘Eh. Oh, well. Alright, let’s do this,’ Victoria shrugged, and a layer of ice had already built up under her.

‘Thank you so much for letting us come fight your robots! We’re ready!’ Mayra said, breathing a bit heavily from excitement, smoke coming off her fiery body and her yellow lines glowing a bit, eyes sharp. Jelena and Victoria exchanged a look and decided to step just a couple steps away from Mayra before they started, just in case. Mayra wasn’t known for minding friendly fire.

Thick combat shutters would descend over the observation windows, and a series of red warning lights would flash, before a large door on the far side of the chamber slowly rose up to reveal the trio’s opponents. In the center of the formation was an imposing humanoid war machine, which seemed to hover about a foot off the ground. Large blades, glowing with purple energy, extended from its arms, while a pair of advanced energy cannons were perched on its shoulders. As impressive as this was, however, the several smaller machines on either side of it seemed to be on an altogether different level of sophistication.

The machines at first seemed strangely humanoid, sporting humanlike faces and hair, until Mayra and Victoria recognized the person they were intended to mimic from the combat poses they took; they were robots designed after Penny, the Queen of Sanctuary. Like their inspiration, the robots activated their leg thrusters and took to the air. Some of the robots activated chest-mounted Gauss cannons, while other robots dove, their arms wielding laser swords and with extra spider-like appendages designed for stabbing and slashing. While not as eye-catching as the larger robot, they seemed to mimic Penny's movements and mannerisms to an uncanny degree as they began their assault.

‘Wait-’ Victoria gasped at the sight. ‘That’s-!’ Jelena’s eyes widened. Back at home, they were constantly going through girls that they could encounter in Penrose, their threat-level, and how to potentially handle them. At the very top was-

The crack of a sudden explosion echoed through the chamber and made the two other girls flinch in different directions, as Mayra was no longer standing where she once was, but flying straight into the robots’ embrace, her limbs flinging from her jump and her eyes wide in sheer delight, grinning so widely, a trail of fire burning behind her. She spun to kick at the first robot, intending on intercepting the arms trying to pierce her with each of her punches and kicks coming with a crack of fire as they impacted. She wanted to brush her arm up against a laser sword to get a sense of how well her scales could resist it before she tried blocking one, but otherwise, she was up for a brawl.

‘Pffth, shooting at us?’ Victoria questioned as she dodged a couple Gauss cannons, because yikes, she couldn’t advance in open terrain assuming they aimed as well as Penny. ‘That’s not gonna fly in a real combat scenario. Because out there, you’re never facing just three girls. Let’s see how you handle… a TARGET RICH ENVIRONMENT!’ Victoria shouted out, and the ice she’d been creating since she landed suddenly shattered, the pieces sent flying. Shattered so that each piece split into a perfect replica of Victoria, smirking and with perfect colours and all, all exactly as agile, and suddenly there was a purple myriad of ice girls dashing in to face the robots! The real one undoubtedly somewhere in there…

‘VICTORIA! CATCH!’ Jelena called, punching forward with one of her metal limbs, and a gathering of metal shards shot into the crowd of Victorias… and sunk inside them, the Victorias grinning in return. Jelena raised her metal hands, dangling her oversized fingers. ‘Now dance, my puppets…!’

With the metal inside the icy clones, Jelena could use her Metal specialization to throw them around. If she saw one in danger she could yank them out of danger as if with telekinesis, or just send another clone at the aggressor to punch an icy fist at the robot in question. In combination with Jelena’s Martial Training, Awareness, video game experience and that each soldier was a functioning intelligent Victoria this gave Jelena quite a tactical edge, not to mention experience with AI. ‘I’ll show you, I have quite the APM!’

Jelena had a couple of the clones protecting her if she found herself targeted, and of course used her agility to dodge Gauss cannons if those shot at her. The real Victoria was somewhere among the clones rushing to Mayra’s aid…!

Mayra successfully kicked and punched the Pennybot that went after her, spitting off two of the stabbing appendages as they were blasted with fiery power, proving the robots were not as durable as the nigh-invincible Queen. However, they were still unusually formidable for mass-produced models, as it successfully managed to cut a bit through Mayra’s hard scales, forcing her to knock the robot away before it cut deeper.

Victoria dodged the Gauss cannon shots, able to surpass their targeting software with her agility, though one shot grazed her leg. However, their heads turned rapidly as Victoria seemingly multiplied, having confused their A.I momentarily. However, they quickly recovered after a couple were destroyed by the clone assault, and proceeded to efficiently group up and separate small pockets of the ice-metal simulacrums, systematically eliminating them.

For now, Violet was content to stand back and observe the unfolding combat, taking note of every detail and committing them all to memory. She was also recording all the data gleaned and sending it to her private computer. To say she had a vested interest in learning the Pennybots’ various strengths and weaknesses was putting it mildly, indeed. This, after all, was one of the principle reasons why she was continuing to play along with the Mint’s plans. If she was able to discover any telling weaknesses in the new automatons’ defenses for her friends to exploit, then her distasteful partnership with the sinister organization would be well worth it. And if weaknesses were to be found, the heiress reflected with a grin, then this was certainly the trio who would find them…

The battle that waged between clones and drones confirmed something. They weren’t quite up-to-par with their look-alike, but as more and more Victorias were cracked open despite Jelena’s support, they proved something vital. If your name wasn’t Mayra, you did not want a straight fight with one of these.

‘You sure it was the sickly sweet girl that recommended this to us!? Because this seems like total villain-’ one of the Victoria clones was asking before a Gauss cannon blasted her into icy shards. All clones now had icy patches on their legs where the Gauss cannon had hit the real one, as Victoria had frozen over the scratch and replicated that onto all her clones.

‘Haha, I’m not complaining! I look forward to seeing what’ll happen when you release these babies on the world, miss heiress~!’ Jelena said, while focusing on army-movement to make the surviving clones as lethal as possible, sending them at the drones from various angles, trying to figure out what directions were their blind spots, if any, and also if they were interconnected so each saw what the others saw, because AI sometimes does that.

‘Hmpf, they sure can fight, but…’ Suddenly, a Victoria jumped out of a building trying to grab one of the Penny-bots fighting her clones from behind, with a wall of ice only the real one could make manifesting to attempt to freeze its limbs together and immobilize it. ‘How well do they resist Frostbite!?’ she asked, as she intended to send a freezing chill through the machine’s interior, freezing its joints and cracking its internal systems with ice, if so was even possible.

‘Or how about just complete internal disintegration?’ Jelena asked as he raised a hand towards the closest one. Using her metal specialization against a presumably metal drone, she sent the command to sever, just for whatever metal inside it to split apart and scatter like a frag grenade within the robot. Jelena prided herself on her ability to mold and move metal, so she reasoned it should be possible on the drones to utterly decimate them. If it worked, she wouldn’t do it again because that’d be boring, she just wanted to know if she could.

Mayra, meanwhile, was far too embroiled in delightful combat to banter. She confirmed the lightsaber DID penetrate her scales, albeit not instantly nor effortlessly. Being way ahead of Jelena and Victoria, she probably had more attention on her…

Another explosion blew her towards a drone preparing to Gauss cannon her. Just as it fired (or not, maybe), Mayra used Dark-magic to turn temporarily intangible, intending the cannon to fire straight through her and at the drone behind her, because she’d intentionally positioned herself for that and it’d be fun if it worked, albeit maybe they wouldn’t be tricked by that. Regardless, Mayra would course-correct to go after this drone, see if other drones could keep up, and if allowed to she’d charge dark magic into her limbs as she dove to just grab whatever attack came at her next, to apply…

A curse. A Dark-magic curse of paralyzation, to surge through the joints of the drone to prevent movement, which could theoretically just drop the drone. Except Mayra had the curse keep the boosters on the legs on, so if it worked the drone would likely just be sent uncontrollably crashing somewhere. One typically needed magic to resist magic, so maybe this would work? Mayra was going to dive back to gleefully admire the result if she got that far, because this was really fun.

Jelena discovered through numerous sacrificed clones that the Pennybots seemed to prioritize stable flight trajectories over kicking at clones coming in at lower angles from their sides, something the real Penny would likely do. As a result, the robots had an opening from attacks at those specific angles. Jelena also confirmed that the robots do share information over a network, able to synchronize their actions to a frightening degree.

The Pennybot ambushed by Victoria was immobilized by the wall of ice that had formed around it. However, she realized the robot’s core was hot enough to melt and weaken the integrity of the ice surrounding it, allowing it to break free with it’s superhuman strength. In the process, it shot a stabbing tendril right through Victoria’s shoulder, and was about to shoot with the gauss cannon when Victoria had punched hard enough to crack the frozen metal and scatter it’s pieces.

Jelena realized that while the Pennybots’ chassis and certain electronics were metallic, allowing her to manipulate them, there were also fibers and other synthetic materials that her Metal magic couldn’t touch. In addition, they also possessed innate magical resistance, forcing her to exert more mana and concentrate on a single robot in order to successfully rip it apart from the inside, leaving her open to flanking attacks from two other Pennybots as the targeted robot exploded, only to be slashed apart by her own metallic claws in a sudden counter.

The Pennybot aiming at Mayra shot through her in her intangible state and hit the other Pennybot, just as the dragon girl had hoped. The robots seemed to learn about this, as the robots then began to diversify their attack vectors, seemingly learning from their mistakes in real-time. However, at this point there were too few of them to make a proper resistance against the combined might of the girls, and they were subsequently destroyed. However, the results were clear to Violet; a dozen of the robots in a prototype testing phase were able to provide a real challenge to a team of veteran magical girls, something previously unforeseen to be possible by mechanical units.

Violet watched as the trio battled the Pennybots, wiping them out with respectable swiftness. Indeed, before the heiress herself could even take to the field, she found that the combat had already concluded. That said, the new automatons had certainly put up a good fight, something the trio’s exhausted and battered appearances provided ample evidence of.

“Well done,” Violet congratulated them. “That was a truly exemplary display. You have provided me with a wealth of valuable data, a gift for which I cannot thank you enough.”

‘… Phew… that was a bit of a shock,’ Jelena said, apparently having managed to counter-slice two of them, something she honestly hadn’t expected to be able to, but she definitely accepted it, the metal-limbed girl in a coat breathing a little heavily. She sure hadn’t expected detonating it from within to be that hard, could they upgrade that further? Surely they had to realize they were a weak point for metal-girls like herself to exploit, right?

‘… Ow,’ Victoria held her left hand onto her right shoulder, that had been completely pierced, icy magic covering the hole straight through her that had been created. ‘Just to confirm, were those aiming to kill us? I mean, it’s fair, we were aiming to destroy them, but, hah,’ she said, giggling a bit at the thought, albeit clearly hurting.

Mayra stood still, looking blankly down on the last robot she had smashed down. She wasn’t saying anything.

“No, just to injure,” Violet replied to Victoria’s query. “I would have disabled them myself, had they put any of you in mortal danger.” At least, she hoped she would have been able to… As it was, there was still much of the automatons’ programming that remained a mystery to her. Ideally, some of that mystery would dissolve, in the aftermath of tonight’s engagement, but the lack of knowledge, the lack of control, continued to worry her. The heiress’s troubled musings were broken a moment later, when she caught sight of Mayra. Turning the head of the Violet Princess to face the draconic girl, she called out to her over the machine’s speakers. “Mayra? Are you all right?”

‘Heh, nice to know,’ Victoria stated, while Jelena had descended on a collection of parts and was doing her utmost to investigate the pieces as well as she could while she was here, since she couldn’t take any with her.

Mayra, meanwhile, turned her head lightly towards Violet.

‘Is it your turn, now?’ Mayra asked, looking pretty intently at her.

Violet couldn’t help but let a sigh escape her lips. “I am afraid not,” she replied with a hint of disappointment. “After seeing how well you handled those automatons, I think that it would be foolish to pit the Violet Princess against you, for it is clearly no match for your great strength. I shall need to vastly enhance its capabilities before it can provide you the challenge you deserve. However,” the heiress added with a hint of amusement. “I believe I know someone who might serve as a more suitable opponent for you. Would you care to wait a moment, while I retrieve them?”

‘Wait,’ Mayra said, holding up a hand, before Violet was about to leave. ‘No, that’s not it. That’s not it at all,’ she said, shaking her head before smirking a bit up at the heiress. ‘That’s not what you wanted, was it? I could sense it. It was there. You wanted to see what you were capable of. To test your might. To challenge yourself.’ Mayra took a deep breath through her nose, as if smelling something good. ‘I smelled a kin. Another seeking to prove her worth. Who wants to spread her wings. It’s not about winning. It’s not about being strong enough. It’s just… to learn, to do, to live. Don’t… don’t take this away from yourself. Don’t take this away from me.’

‘Victoria. Jelena. Leave this to me,’ Mayra said, causing both girls to look at one another, shrug, and then walk off to the sidelines. Mayra, meanwhile, walked to stand in the middle of the road, gently stretching her muscles.

‘Come. Let yourself loose. No worry about winning or challenging. No worry about the bruising and scratching. Just the dance, and the thrill. I’ll accept it all. Come on,’ Mayra said, sinking down into a battle stance, her yellow lines blazing and her eyes positively glowing, mouth grinning widely. Give me your best shot.

For a moment, Violet was taken aback. “Mayra…” the heiress whispered, not at all expecting such a passionate speech from the chaotic and carefree monster girl. “Very well,” Violet replied, as the head of her personal command drone gave a slow nod. “Let us begin!”

The next instant, the Violet Princess’s maneuvering thrusters surged to life, sending the imposing machine speeding towards Mayra, its twin energy cannons firing a withering barrage as it came.

Yes! Mayra exclaimed, as Violet’s machine thrust towards her. ‘Now try to hit me!’

She kicked the ground with both foot and tail to dodge sideways to not get hit by the barrage of energy blasts. As she did, a burst of fire left her in Violet’s direction, weak fire that wouldn’t even reach her but it did endure for a time and cloak Mayra’s location from sight. A second later, Mayra blasted herself, the dragon girl coming running sideways on the wall to Violet’s left, grinning as she was ready to jump off the wall at her.

Whirling around with impressive agility, Violet brought her drone’s arm up in a sweeping slash. Although the energy blade mounted upon it was powerful enough to slice through steel as if it were butter, Violet was confident the weapon wouldn’t cause Mayra serious harm. It would probably incapacitate her, though, and it would definitely hurt. Assuming it made contact, of course.

The swinging arm headed to cleave into Mayra's flight-path, when a burst of flame sent her into the ground, landing on all fours. From there, the grinning dragon girl gripped the ground with her talons and swung around her legs, targeting Violet's own legs with two fast, consecutive kicks, intent on sweeping them down from under her… if the drone was even capable of being felled with those thrusters.

Mayra’s movements were too quick for the large machine to avoid, but since it wasn’t standing on the ground anyway, the kicks only served to push Violet back. Composing herself, the heiress turned sideways and pointed the blade of her right arm at Mayra, allowing the dragon girl to make the next move.

Mayra smirked back on her feet, and while crouched, she breathed in and then exhaled a forceful stream of fire from her mouth in Violet’s direction, and then pulled her head to sweep after her if she dodged sideways, eyes constantly alight in excitement.

With a mighty blast of her thrusters, Violet shot into the air to avoid the torrent of flame, firing a barrage of energy bolts at Mayra as she did so. Once she was positioned above the dragon girl, the heiress activated her thrusters once more, causing her to descend upon her opponent with all the force of a metallic meteor. Her energy blades extended before her, Violet aimed to pin Mayra to the ground, and thus prevent the draconic girl from making further use of her impressive agility.

The energy bolts forced Mayra to dodge, albeit it was a bit hard to dodge the blasts at this close range while also exhaling fire and a few of them struck into the girl’s scales. Undaunted, Mayra grinned through some pain as she instead expelled the last of her current breath for a great blast of fire forward, not where Violet was, except the blast would launch Mayra backwards while the fireball remained where Mayra had just been, if Violet proceeded with the descent.

Do you feel it!? Mayra shouted out at her from where she slid to a halt, breathing a bit heavily on account of having been hit a bit and just exhausted her breath breathing fire. Do you feel the thrill of the battle!? she asked again, and after a pause, just kicked off to launch herself directly at Violet’s location. She wanted to grab her now.

Seeing Mayra’s plan, Violet chose not to avoid the fireball before her, and instead dove into it, trusting her drone’s armor to withstand the heat and flame. The force of her impact dispersed much of the inferno, but the Violet Princess still presented an imposing appearance as it rose up to its full height amid the crackling flames. As a command drone, it was not intended to enter battle alone, especially not against someone of Mayra’s superhuman strength and agility, to say nothing of her magic, but Violet was pleased with its performance nonetheless.

“I do indeed!” Violet replied after Mayra called out to her. “This contest has been quite exhilarating, and you are a most worthy opponent. But, then,” she added as the draconic girl began her charge. “I expected nothing less!”

Her thrusters surging to life, Violet shot forward to meet Mayra, her drone’s arms spread wide. If the monster girl wanted to get in close, then the heiress would be happy to oblige. Once again trusting her drone’s durability, Violet would allow Mayra to grab the machine, before locking her against it with both arms. While the press of the energy blades kept Mayra contained, Violet would charge her energy cannons to maximum and fire twin stun blasts at her captive. With luck, this would be enough to put Mayra out of action, but if it wasn’t, the draconic girl would be in an excellent position to do the same to the Violet Princess. One way or another, the battle would be decided here.

Mayra gripped around the drone as she flew and used remaining fire to bring them both down to earth, her feet placing themselves on the ground. The blades closed in on her in an amusing hug, and the dragon girl realized those shoulder-cannons were charging and pointing straight in her face. Mayra grinned, and…

and she bent her back backwards as a blast of fire from her hands propelled the robot over her head as she athletically bridged herself to crack the machine’s head (and shoulders) into the asphalt right behind her in a magic-propelled suplex.

Mayra’s impressive agility once again allowed her to escape Violet’s attack. Turning the tables on the heiress, the monster girl performed a wrestling move that thoroughly incapacitated the Violet Princess. The glow of the drone’s energy weapons faded, giving Mayra clear evidence of her victory.

“Well done, Mayra,” Violet’s voice sounded from the chamber’s speakers. “I believe we can call this contest in your favor. Thank you for convincing me to take part,” she added in an appreciative tone. “It was a truly enjoyable experience.”

‘Woooooooooo-!’ Mayra called, falling back onto her back, breathing a bit heavily because that was some gamble she took at the end there. ‘You- you’re good! I wasn’t sure I’d win there for a second! You…’ she raised a clawed thumb upwards. ‘I like you! You got some guts! If you ever want to challenge me again, tell me, anytime! Tell me your name again, I won’t forget it this time!’

“It is Violet Covington,” the heiress replied with a slight giggle of amusement. “But you may call me Violet,” she added. “I believe you have more than earned it.”

‘Violet…’ Mayra breathed out the name with a satisfied smirk. ‘And I’m Mayra McCullough, first of my name! Until next time!’ … and then her arm collapsed and she started snoring. Apparently, she was really satisfied.

‘Looks like it’s over,’ Victoria said, walking over to stand above Mayra, looking up towards Violet. ‘We usually need to restrain Mayra to prevent her from going off to fight in Penrose just because she gets bored in the base. This has been very cathartic. I thank you,’ Violet bowed politely to Violet.

‘Thank you for breaking all those probably super-expensive drones! It was a blast!’ Jelena came over too, grinning a bit, and had both arms behind her back like she was hiding something… ‘So, uh, I tried fixing one of them. It didn’t go super-well. I mean, I’m pretty confident it works, but, uh,’ Jelena said, and then lifted out the thing behind her and placed it on its feet. The thing was half as tall as it once was, looked significantly more metallic, and had lost most of its weaponry. The outside was brand new, done by Jelena shaping metal to become a little metal dress over metallic legs. The eyes were pretty big, too, as Jelena used a bit of metal spec to make it tilt its head to look up at Violet. It’s totally a tiny robot Penny.

‘Yeah, uh, here, you can have it,’ Jelena said with a smirk, scratching her cheek a little with a not-as-oversized hand. Apparently she used some of the metal in her previously oversized hands. ‘I mean, of course you can, it’s already yours, but, uuh…’ Jelena continued. Victoria gave her and the robot a mildly confused look before looking back to Violet.

They would hear a sharp intake of breath, shortly after which, a previously hidden door opened and Violet herself stepped out. Rushing over to Jelena, she tentatively held her hands out to accept the girl’s small creation. “I-It’s… adorable…” the heiress whispered, her cheeks turning a bright red. “T-Thank you! Thank you so much!” she told Jelena, giving the girl a brilliant smile, before wrapping her up in a big hug. Sobering slightly, she added, “I will always cherish this.”

The two currently awake girls both looked a bit surprised that Violet came out herself to accept the gift fashioned from her own robots. Still, when it became clear just how much the heiress liked it, Jelena smirked once again and hugged her back with her metal arms upon receiving that big hug. ‘Haha, no problem. I’m happy you like it so much!’ Deeeeeeeefinitely had been worried she’d get chewed out for experimenting with things that didn’t belong to her.

‘Fufu. Digging favours with the rich girl, are we? Are you going to ask her to import a mountain of video games for you next?’ Victoria teased a little on the side, chuckling a little.

‘Aw, you’re going to tease me for being nice? Maybe I won’t ask if you can partake in some cakes and other high-class cuisine?’ Jelena teased right back, and Victoria got kinda pale and stopped smiling. She hadn’t considered that.

‘She likes good food,’ Jelena explained to Violet with a giggle after they eventually let go.

“As do I,” Violet replied with a smile, her face still a glowing crimson. “And if you were to give me some advance notice, I could perhaps arrange for us to share a meal together sometime. In your civilian guises, of course,” the heiress would add.

‘That sounds excellent! Right, Victoria?’ Jelena smirked so widely and proudly. Mayra’s still snoring on the ground beneath them.

‘Er, yes. Tha- that would be really nice,’ Victoria nodded over there, got awkward all of a sudden.

“I am glad you think so,” Violet told them warmly. “I trust she will be all right?” she asked, glancing over to Mayra’s slumbering form. The heiress was fairly confident that her draconic friend was perfectly fine, but she wanted to make sure, just in case.

Victoria nodded a bit excitedly. Then, at the mention of Mayra, she laughed out a bit. ‘Hah, I haven’t seen her this peaceful in ages,’ Victoria said, bending down and rather effortlessly picking the dragon-girl up, the icy girl holding the sleeping fire girl. There was no sign of the ice girl starting to melt.

‘Will you be all right, though? Can’t imagine the robots were particularly cheap, and you got their designs from an associate, was it?’ Jelena asked, rather curiously.

“That is correct,” Violet confirmed with a nod. “And this was merely an initial trial run. I advised the client that it would be prudent to have their design sufficiently tested, they agreed, and so it has been,” she explained, gesturing to the piles of wreckage surrounding them. “Clearly they shall need to make some substantial improvements, after seeing how swiftly their creations were dispatched.”

‘Whelp, sounds like you’re okay with it,’ Jelena said with a chuckle. ‘Hey, how come you’re friends with someone as sickly sweet and your complete opposite like Magical Dream Princess? Were you doing evil stuff and she persuaded you to be good again and now you’re friends?’ Jelena asked with a big smirk on her face.

‘Ey, don’t assume our friends were evil,’ said the other currently awake horror girl in here. ‘Still, I must admit I’m curious, too…’ Victoria said, looking a little curiously at Violet.

Violet was silent for a moment before finally responding.

“She saved my life,” the heiress explained, seemingly unoffended by Jelena’s remarks. “And yes,” she added, offering the metallic limbed girl a small smile. “I suppose she did persuade me to be a better person. I was walking such a dark path only a short time ago, although I was unaware of it myself. But then I met her, and she changed my life in so many ways. Because of her, I now walk a new path, the path I believe I was always meant to walk from the start. I am truly in her debt, and thus, when she asked if I could arrange tonight’s meeting, I simply could not refuse.”

‘Haha, see? I got a sense for this!’ Jelena said with a thumbs up. ‘I’m glad you’re doing better!’

‘Video game stories aren’t always going to correlate to reality,’ Victoria said.

‘I’m in her debt too, for reintroducing us…’ a dozy but apparently awake Mayra said, still kinda hanging in Victoria’s grip. ‘If we can help with anything else, just give us a call…!’ she said, lifting a tired limb and smiling.

‘… We should be getting back,’ Victoria mentioned.

“You can be sure I shall do that, Mayra,” the heiress replied with a warm smile. “Thank you.” Giving a nod to Victoria’s observation, she added, “I am afraid I, too, must be going. There are other matters that require my attention, even at this late hour. Until next we meet, please stay well,” she told them, while giving an elegant curtsy. “And may your sleep be filled with the most pleasant of dreams. Uh, t-that last part was something Magical Dream Princess wished for me to convey to you,” a somewhat flustered Violet hastily added.

‘Ahahaha, I get ya. Pleasant dreams to her, too…’ Mayra said, chuckling a bit as she let her arm drop again and let Victoria hold her. The other girls also nodded in appreciation.

‘Be nice to miss Violet, alright?’ Jelena crouched and patted the robot she’d shaped, which’d been standing entirely motionless the entire time. Maybe the AI hadn’t fully grasped its current shape or something. Still, Jelena smiled at it before waving and walking.

‘I look forward to our meal,’ Victoria said, and then they turned away, Jelena picking up a phone to tell them they were ready to return home, after which a portal opened and they were able to go through, satisfied with their battle, newly forged friendship and leaving behind a small girl robot for Violet to remember them by.

Nothing Particularly Important...

The blond-haired young man carefully adjusted his glasses as he gazed upon the featureless, black monolith that loomed before him. A moment later, the edifice began to glow with unnatural light, its shimmering surface seeming to ripple like water. The young man smiled as two figures emerged from the portal, which reassumed its inactive appearance immediately after their passage was complete. The pair of new arrivals were perhaps as diametrically opposed as one could imagine. The first was a tall, blocky, mountain of a man, with a thick grey beard and a stern gaze. He wore a formal business suit, meticulously tailored to fit his massive frame, and, although he seemed not to need it, his hands rested upon a cane of polished obsidian, atop which sat a glowing crimson gemstone. The second figure, on the other hand, was a far smaller, almost scrawny, young woman. She had messy, black hair, which cascaded down to her calves, and wore an oversized lab coat, which trailed behind her. Although the young woman’s eyes were partially obscured by a pair of goggles, it wasn’t hard for the young man to tell that she looked exceedingly bored. Still, that knowledge did nothing to dampen his spirits, and he smiled broadly as he greeted each new arrival in turn.

“Mister Demiris, Doctor Kannis, welcome!” he told the pair, spreading his arms wide. “I am Colonel Templeton, head of research here at SON. At least, I would be, if SON actually existed,” he added with a playful smirk. “Right this way, please,” he instructed, holding out his hand towards the long, dimly lit path ahead. “The director is expecting you.”

“Thank you, Colonel,” Demiris replied with a small nod. “Come along, Doctor,” he added, gazing down at his annoyed-looking companion.

“Yeah, yeah…” Nykannis grumbled. “Stupid meeting… I should be working in my lab right now,” she muttered. “Instead, I’m stuck playing show and tell…”

“I thought you enjoyed showing off your work to others,” Demiris remarked.

“Normally, I do,” the mad scientist conceded. “But when the people watching are a bunch of Neanderthals who can’t understand a word I’m saying, it becomes considerably less enjoyable…”

If Templeton heard the pair’s little conversation, he gave no sign, but the moment Nykannis finished her grumblings, he spoke up in a jovial voice. “I must say, it is such an honor to meet you in person, Doctor Kannis. I’m quite an admirer of your work, and I’m very much looking forward to what exciting developments you’ll be sharing with us today.”

The mad scientist’s gloomy demeanor brightened considerably after Templeton’s bout of hero-worship, her frown turning into a slightly demented little grin.

“Yeah, that’s the correct response to have,” she replied with a smug nod. “After all, when it comes to Science!, I’m the greatest there is! Nyahahaha! Soooo,” she added, running up next to the bespectacled young man, an excited gleam in her eyes. “Which of my world-shattering inventions is your personal favorite? The nano fluidic energy to matter replicators? Or maybe the zero-point quantum conversion block?! No! No! Don’t tell me! It’s gotta be the transdimensional tachyonic multiversal meta cannon! But wait! That’s not something you guys should even know about! You probably couldn’t even wrap your brains around the basic concept of it! You were just trying to get me to spill my secrets, weren’t you?! Well it won’t work! Gotta admit, it was a nice try, blondie, but you’ve clearly underestimated the incomparable super-scientific genius of⏤”

“Dr. Kannis,” Demiris intoned, a large hand taking hold of the mad scientist’s lab coat and pulling her back. “There will be time to discuss such matters later. For now, there is a more pressing concern to deal with.”

“S-Sir…?” Nykannis inquired, her voice having taken on a far more timid tone, following her imposing companion’s rebuke.

“Your hair,” Demiris clarified. “It is positively disgraceful. Please try and make yourself a bit more presentable.”

“Yes, sir…” Nykannis muttered.

The next instant, a swirling swarm of nanites set to work restyling the mad scientist’s limp tresses into something resembling a massive explosion. Greatly resembling a more exaggerated version of Albert Einstein’s signature appearance, it only served to accentuate her significantly-less-than-sane demeanor.

“Better?” she asked.

“Marginally,” Demiris replied.

The path down which they walked was surrounded by an impenetrable black void. Lights in the floor, placed at regular intervals, were the only sources of illumination, and even they did nothing to reveal what lay beyond the pathway. While this may have been disconcerting to some, in the case of this particular trio, it was as unremarkable as taking a stroll through a park. Soon enough, they came to an ornate set of double doors, which opened before them at their approach.

“After you,” Templeton said with a smile as he gestured for his guests to enter.

Upon doing so, they found themselves in a large room, dominated by a triangular table. A cone of light shone down upon it, while the rest of the chamber was cloaked in shadow. Seated on one of the vertices were two generals, their uniforms bearing six and seven stars, respectively. Opposite them sat an admiral and a blonde young woman in a somewhat skimpy military uniform. The “point” of the triangle was blunted, allowing for a single seat. This was occupied by a man in a business suit with a pyramid for a head, its cyclopean eye tracking the new arrivals as they took their seats at the triangle’s base.

“Director, Generals, Admiral, Recruiter,” Demiris said, nodding to each in turn. “A pleasure to see you again. Although I am sure you are all familiar with her work, allow me to formally introduce my Head of Research and Development, Doctor Nikki Yolanda Kannis.”

“Sup,” Nykannis replied, her tone once again completely devoid of enthusiasm.

If anything, her “audience” seemed even less enthusiastic, the only emotion in evidence during the long silence that followed being a slight smirk on the part of the recruiter. However, if they were trying to intimidate her, they were failing miserably, and Nykannis simply met their cold gazes with her own dead-eyed stare. After what seemed like several minutes had passed, the director finally spoke.

“Mr. Demiris,” he began, his voice a low baritone. “You requested this audience in order to unveil a new development, one which you insisted would revolutionize field operations on a scale as yet unimagined. Please, enlighten us.”

“Currently, every single one of your Shadow Unit operatives was procured ‘out in the wild’, so to speak,” Demiris explained, rising to his feet. “A product of the exemplary work conducted by our lovely recruiter,” he added, gesturing to the still-smirking blonde. “And while I have no desire to minimize her efforts in any way, I pose to you a simple question- What if, instead of poaching your agents from other mystical beings, you could simply create whatever operatives you required, whenever you required them?”

“You’re talking about MTOs,” the six-star general observed in a dull monotone.

“Indeed,” Demiris confirmed. “Made to order soldiers, the dream of every military commander in history, now, at last, a reality.”

“A bold claim,” the seven-star general noted. “And a rather dubious one, especially in light of your previous offerings.”

“Yes,” the director concurred. “While the enhanced teams you’ve provided us with thus far have proven most capable when employed against mundane opponents, they were distinctly sub-par when faced with more mystical adversaries. Am I to assume these new offerings will not simply be more of the same?”

“The teams you refer to were merely examples of Phase One,” Demiris replied. This, he added, activating the holoprojector at the center of the table, “is Phase Two.”

Displayed in midair was the image of a young woman wearing a high tech, but still rather skimpy suit of armor and wielding advanced energy weaponry.

Demiris turned to gaze down at his smaller companion. “Dr. Kannis, if you would care to elaborate?”

Nykannis, who had become so bored that she had constructed a small interdimensional gateway and was now dissecting the prismatic mass of tentacles she had pulled out of it, gave a tired sigh, before shoving the gateway, her tools, the creature, and its containment unit into a pocket dimension. Rising to her feet, she fixed her “audience” with an annoyed stare, before climbing onto the table and walking over to the holoprojector.

“Okay,” she began, lazily waving her hand to add additional images on either side of the young woman already displayed. “So, the operatives you’ve seen so far were created using just a fraction of The Artifact’s power. Essentially, they were just a test run to see what it was capable of, and what it’s capable of is way more than your limited minds can possibly comprehend. To put it simply, now that it’s secrets have been fully unlocked, something only my unparalleled super-scientific genius could have accomplished, I might add, we can create magical operatives with comparable power levels to anything any other type of Patron could produce. See, the thing holding our first four teams back was an inability to make use of the Cosmic Omniversal Infusion Numinospheric Synthesizers employed in the creation of nearly every other magical operative that exists in this universe. Now, as I’m sure most of you are probably COMPLETELY unaware of, it’s the Metaphysical Aetheric Numinosphere Accelerator that makes an operative magical in the first place, but these ‘COINS’ are the things that provide all the extra ‘MANA’ needed to really make ‘em a mystical force to be reckoned with!”

Now that she was discussing a topic that actually interested her, the Monarch of Mad Science was becoming a great deal more animated. Sobering slightly, she adjusted her goggles before continuing. “As a brief, but personally important aside, I wanna note that when I say ‘magic’ I’m referring to it as defined by Clarke’s Third Law. I’m well aware this isn’t the caveman juju you Neanderthals often think of it as. It’s a primary universal force that can be objectively defined and quantified, but the calculations required are pretty much guaranteed to make your heads explode, so I’ll just stick with calling it magic. I mean, I could use the term ‘Etheric Sciences’, but that’s a bit too limited for our purposes. ANYWAY, thanks to my unparalleled super-scientific genius, we can now use these COINS in either a full, or limited fashion when creating new operatives. Why would you ever want to limit yourselves? Allow me to explain. See, when you’re creating a magical operative, you have a choice to use a slightly limited amount of COINS and maintain full control over the process, OR, you can use a full COIN allotment, granting access to the most powerful abilities and options, at the cost of having a bit less control over the final product. Now, I know what you’re thinking- ‘That’s a stupid choice! Why can’t we have both?!’ Well, I agree, which is why you’re gonna LOVE this next bit!”

Grinning from ear to ear in a most maniacal fashion, Nykannis gestured to an image of several figures in glowing vats. “Unlike the other pathetic Patrons out there, we don’t need to go searching high and low for suitable candidates. When Mr. Demiris said we could make these things to order, he wasn’t just talking about the powers. While our first batch did require us to find the perfect, completely willing, volunteers, now that we’ve isolated the specific genetic and metaphysical markers, we can engineer them into any number of clones, and with our patented accelerated-growth chambers, time to full gestation is mere minutes! Nyahahaha! Do you have any idea what that means?!” she asked, one eye beginning to twitch as she looked over the still-impassive faces of SON’s most high-ranking members. “It MEANS we can crank these things out so fast that, even if we decide to go one of the full COINS routes, we’ll STILL be able to find the perfect combination of options in no time at all! And yes, you heard me right, I said ROUTES, plural! You’ve got no less than FIVE options to choose from! You can pick the operative’s weapon, greatly boosting its capabilities in the process, or you can pick the exact magic spec you want them to have, or give them additional combat abilities chosen by you, or even give yourselves more COINS to work with! And because you can run the process as many times as you want, the possibilities are literally INFINITE!!! NYAHAHAHAAA!!!”

Despite her maniacal cackling, Nykannis’s audience maintained their aura of stoicism. Or at least most of them did…

“Fascinating!” Templeton exclaimed. “That will synergize most splendidly with the data obtained from the Penrose operation!”

“No, it will not,” the director intoned, his unblinking, cyclopean eye fixed upon the bespectacled young man. “For there was no Penrose operation.”

“O-Of course, sir,” a flustered Templeton stammered. “M-My most sincere apologies…”

“Wow, ya sure got him on a tight leash,” Nykannis remarked. “But that’s fine,” she added with a dismissive wave of her hand. “You can keep your stupid little secrets. I mean, you guys haven’t even reached Level 1 on the Kardashev Scale yet, so I highly doubt you’re doing anything that would interest someone of my vast intellect.”

Still, I guess it wouldn’t hurt to take a look… she mused, while mentally ordering her hyperdimensional omniphasic nanites to do just that. Even with all the security measures SON had in place, Nykannis was confident they didn’t have a chance of detecting her creations.

“That was quite an intriguing presentation, Dr. Kannis,” the director conceded. “However, without a demonstration of their performance in the field, the viability of these new operatives cannot be fully verified. We shall require a brief interval in which to comprehensively discuss the ramifications of employing this new system you’ve devised. You shall be contacted once a decision has been made,” the cyclopean being added, while gesturing to the now open door. “Colonel Templeton will see you out.”

“Understandable,” Demiris replied with a nod as he rose to depart. “And we shall endeavor to provide you with a suitable demonstration to aid your decision-making. Come, Doctor,” he added as he ushered the mad scientist out of the chamber.

Soooo, they want a demonstration, huh? Nykannis thought to herself, her mouth curling into a wicked grin. I think that’s an excellent idea. All we need is a test subject, and I have just the person in mind…
Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Majoras End
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Majoras End Oyasumi~

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"Buckle up, Buttercup, this one's lengthy!"
- Finn

Christmas time was something Maura used to be fond of, the one day where families get together near the end of a year to feast and give gifts. She always found the decorations, the stories and such charming, but never got to celebrate it in the past. Her work came first.

But now? The mere thought of Christmas left a sour taste in her mouth. Bitter and disgusting.

It had been a week since that dreadful day had passed. As much as she wanted to meet up with Finn and the others to discuss their plans, she had informed Rowena she was going to be late. She felt drained. Maybe she could continue organizing the Cradle to keep her mind off things, she thought. What she didn't expect was Finn offering to help with that. Well, it was somewhat expected. He was a weird sort of new to the official organization thing like she was, so he was bound to ask about the strange space that housed their stock.

"Watch your step, gravity's a bit low in here." Maura told him as the two stepped inside. The boy stumbled, but regained his balance just as quick.

"Dark too. And cold, though I guess that isn't a problem for you, huh?" On his end, Finn used a bit of beast magic to help maneuver around the hammerspace. A pair of wings on his back, and the sight of...basically any nocturnal animal. Oliver did note his eyes looked weird having his pupils dialate so much. He looked around. "Man, this place is big! How are you going to organize all this by yourself??"

Maura shrugged. "It's a decent time-killer. I've already cleaned up a good bit of it, but then there's also the cadavers I gotta get into coffins..." She trailed off, sorting through some artifacts.

"The ca- what??" Finn's eye widened.

The witch pointed a thumb to the mausoleum section of the Cradle. "See for yourself. Veronica stored stiffs in here to keep them from reviving. It's how this stuff remains. Just kinda ends up...cursed." She explained. Though it wasn't enough to keep the boy from feeling off about it. Killing's one thing, but to keep the bodies like trophies? Necessary or not, even he wouldn't pull a stunt like that. But Finn couldn't say anything. He wouldn't, until they somehow found a way to keep the gear without the need of the bodies.

"Dark magical power, right?"


"Makes sense." While the two idly talked, Finn looked around while purposefully avoiding the corpses. Eugh. until he spotted a pair of twin blades. While one looked like it once walked among angels, the other had a more hellish motif. He blinked once he realized what he found. "Hey, I remember these! Commissioned something from Riona after we fought Vladimir, right?" He asked Maura, remembering the day they brought Oliver back.

The witch looked over her shoulder at him. "Hm? Oh, yeah. I decided to put some of my own things in here. Was wondering when you'd want those back." she explained, picking up what looked like a yellow masquerade mask. Well, yellow with a golden trim. It looked normal at first glance, until one notices the ends had...tentacles. Instead of the common string. Maura rose a brow. Disguise artifact? Certainly a clingy one, if it's trying to grab at her face meant anything. "Hope Hastur doesn't want this back." With a shrug, she nonchalantly tossed the cursed thing aside for now. "How are the others? Oliver's not with you today?"

"Nah, he's working with Riona in getting that hotel set up. Said she saw a buisness opportunity in that abandoned thing. Hopefully she got someone to manage her bar while that's going on." Finn idly twirled one of the blades in his hands, trying to get a feel for them. Although he noticed his hands trembling, he felt a creeping urge to fight someone, something,

He simply ignored it, and set them down for now. "Miss Dewynter's going to be taking time off for the sake of her mental health. She was obviously against it at first, but I managed to convince her. Lauren's helping Valerie set up shop in one of HQ's rooms, if anyone can gather information it's them two. Mint's painted a target on Amanda's back, so I told her to lay low for a while, and Maribel's doing god-knows-what." Finn listed off.

"Rowena's visiting the twins' grave, and anyone else who didn't get specific orders are free to scout out for...something." He then frowned slightly. "Any news about Miss Howard?"

At the mention of Samantha, Maura paused, unsure of what to say. Or think. Even if they speculated, what happened with here back at the tournament was weird at best. "Well, I don't feel a splitting headache yet, so there's just using healing magic once or twice to prevent anything worse from happening to her." She sighed. "I won't lie, part of me is hoping to talk with Sam without worrying about Justine or some shit. But..."

While she talked, the boy caught sight of something staring back at him. An eye. A red eye, infact, floating in a strange lantern. Or whatever it's containted in. He grabbed the lantern and held it up to look at it closely.

Was it staring back at him?

...It was.


Finn and the mystic artifact had a short staring contest, before he set the lantern back down with a shudder.

"You can have that too if you want! Heard it projects future events or something." Noticing this, Maura called back over to him.

"Erm, maybe later! Damn thing gives me Déjà vu..." Finn politely turned down the offer, shooting the artifact a quick glare. "Anyways, if you're worried then why did you let Justine stay at your place for the long run?" He asked, no ill will intended despite his question appearing harsh.

"Her old lair was destroyed a long time ago and she doesn't have anywhere else to go. I'd take any of you in if I have to, there's plenty of room."

"Hasn't that sort of kindness put you in this mess in the first place?"

Maura's brows furrowed in thought. "I said I'd keep an eye on her in case she did anything funny, didn't I?" Though when Finn rose a brow at her answer, she frowned. "I don't know at this rate. I could keep giving answers yet none would satisfy. I could say I see a bit of myself, one of my selves, in Justine. Or that I want to flip the bird at Father for being a fourth-dimensional prick, or I can sarcastically say I took her in because Ronnie's stray pets have been nothing but thorns in my side the whole time." She rambled on, getting progressively more frustrated.

"But no! But no. God, Maribel would get onto me for getting soft. I know it." The witch pinched the bridge of her nose.

The boy on the other hand felt hesitant in trusting the past-vampire. "Are...you sure we should-"

"I already know what you've heard."

Finn's eye widened. "R-Really now??"

Maura was strangely calm in contrast. "I looked back up to when my connection with Betty was severed. Frankly it was foolish of her to compare unintentional thralldom to something severe as, well, that." She said, careful around the subject for Finn's sake. "Especially since there were many factors to concider at the time. Elvira's song influencing the corrupted magicals' mental mutations for one, Veronica willing sacrificing her for a gamble against Justine's another thing that should've been sorted out yet by the time we got Betty back she's ditched town and left me to finish things off." Maura's eye twitched. She groaned, leaning against the wall with her arms crossed.

"That fucking party was a lost cause from the start. Anyways I'm not sure if she remembered exactly what happened or was playing dumb cause she didn't want to blame Veronica, but to solely blame Justine, call it that, then turn around and say it's cause you were tossed aside?? What the fuck????" She ranted on. "Look, what I'm saying is, don't worry about it. If I did, it'd be like ditching you when you got the title of Sinner."

"Y'know that's different. Wrath and...Lust I think, are two different levels of screwed up." Finn argued back. "But, I get your point. So now what?"

"Well if you're going to go up against Penny, we gotta look out for anything that'd give you a power boost. Without corrupting you, of course. We don't need a repeat of your past experiment."

At the mention of a previous screw up, Finn hovered a hand over his blind eye. Something he wasn't proud of, but learned to live with. "Right, think there's any bounties-"

"Not to interrupt anything, but we got hostiles breaking speed limits!"

Both their eyes widened once they heard Valerie through their magicoms. "Do we have a count? All units outside, what are we seeing??"

"So ya know those deer-looking demons that you're not supposed to say the name of or it gets stronger or some shit?"


"Yeah, we're seeing a bunch of them. I don't think I can fly that fast."

"I'm counting about six packs of them, can't tell what they're planning asides from merging packs, but if you hurry you can knock down a few." Valerie reported. Finn looked back to Maura, waiting on the go-ahead. She smiled back.

"Just be careful around Beacon, will you? I'll go check on the other two." With that, Maura opened an exit nearest to the boy's partner, and he hurried out.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Bright_Ops
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Bright_Ops The Insane Scholar

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If she was being completely honest with herself, Roxanna had lost the Christmas Spirit a long time ago. Back when she had been Argol and a young boy the holiday was a magical time of the year, but after a certain point the whole thing just became more of a hassle then anything due to the friction and conflict that was generated whenever their family got together. The fact that Roxanna didn't have any family of her own in order to go and visit likely didn't help but... Christmas was just another day for her.

However, for the holiday season, Roxanna did run something of a small 'business'... through the term was used lightly because while she wasn't an ordained priestess or had a shrine she could go and visit, some traditions of Ofuda had to be maintained and one of the most important was that the kamifuda and kifuda that she kept on her stand were not for sale. They were holy items after all and to sell them would be highly questionable at best. Instead she followed the method used by the shrines themselves: The items were 'received' by those that stopped by her homemade stall at the train station and in exchange they made a donation relevant to the time and effort she had to put in to make and bless in item in question.

With people returning from holidays or coming home for the New Year, inside of the train station was generally a good place to set up shop so those trying to stay out of the cold could come and have a look. Unfortunately, the presence of people also tended to draw less welcome attention... Which was why there were innocent people running away screaming, her stall had been toppled over and somewhat broken with the displayed items scattered over the ground and Roxanna herself impaling a kifuda dedicated to Ucchusma into the chest of a rotten looking humanoid deer thing with blood (both fresh and old) caked around its maw before kicking it hard enough to send it stumbling back to give herself a bit more room.

While it was true that ofuda writings dedicated to Ucchusma were generally made with a more passive cleansing of the unclean in mind, Roxanna couldn't help but feel somewhat vindicated by her belief in it as the deer creature started to violently claw at its chest, trying to dig out the kifuda as she saw flame start to shoot out of the puncture wound. With her current foe incapacitated and distracted by a deity that she was going to be offering some prayers to later, Roxanna quickly looked around to see how the rest of the fight was going.

The two clones she had created at the start of the fight were holding their own against two more of the rotten beasts, the damn things proving rather tanky to her physical blows but at least preventing them from chasing after fleeing human targets. The fourth one of the pack was still ripping around one of the food kiosks, consuming everything that it encountered. That had been a stroke of genius on her part; These creatures weren't mindless, but their hunger was so all consuming that it was easy to think otherwise. Actually reaching in and enhancing that drive to eat towards the nearest source of meat possible had proven to be somewhat easy since was inclined to do that anyway, so instead of hunting humans it was currently content with ripping into half cooked chicken and meat products that hadn't been put on the grill or into the deep fryer yet to try and lessen its hunger enough to start thinking of hunting humans again.

'Social, we need to end this quickly.' Roxanna thought in her mind... and wasn't that surprised by the fact a different voice answered her there.

'Fire would be the most effective tool to use, but despite how tough these things are they can be physically killed by more mundane means. Just remember to collect their icy hearts afterwards. They need to be burned in a fire hot enough to melt them to finish these things off for good, otherwise they'll just return in time.' It might not have been the quick and easy answer she had wanted, but Roxanna could appreciate just having information at all. That thing about the hearts alone was worth knowing.

'Do you think I could trick two of them into fighting each other? Make them so hungry they'll try and eat each other?' She asked at the speed of thought, with a reply coming a moment later after Social needed a moment to consider the possibilities.

'If it was just two, it would be possible. But you would need to focus on keeping them locked on each other and since there are four of them... Wouldn't recommend. Heads up, the one you impaled is just about done 'healing' itself.' Social's warning proved true, as the wendigo in question had managed to dig out the blessed wood from the gaping hole it had dug into its own chest, reveling the extent of the internal burns that was preventing the wounds from healing up as it cast the kifuda aside before roar-screaming in fury and pain.

Taking a deep breath, Roxanna charged forward in order to get the offensive on this opponent before it had a chance to collect itself... or worse, try to actually heal rather then just remove the object burning it from the inside out.
Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Izurich
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Izurich 7/8 Weeb

Member Seen 15 days ago

--It's Just a Burning Memory--

The cloudy sky finally revealed its intention as droplets of water began falling down, leaving their aerial nest to be embraced by mother earth's gravitational embrace. At first, only a few brave souls took the leap, but others soon followed and what was a mere drizzle turned into a full-fledged rain. Some made landfall onto the ground, some onto leaves, some onto roofs, and then some... "...?" ...onto the pale eyelids of a young girl with bright blonde long locks, although it was difficult to tell considering her hair - and most of her body - was caked in wet mud from head to toe.

Although her corpse-like complexion might imply otherwise, she was definitely alive as the rain stirred her awake, opening those lids to reveal a pair of blank red eyes, their round pupils emptily gazing at the gloomy sky. Her mind was a proverbial void, empty and formless, even as her body moved on autopilot to stand up, she thought of nothing, the pathetic state of her sickly thin body didn't bother her, hell, she didn't seem to care that she had not a single thread on her. She didn't move, content to just let the rain pour on her, poorly washing off the mud that stubbornly clung on her wiry frame.

That was when she heard a gentle voice in her head, the soft, warm voice of an older woman, one that would make you think of hearty homemade food served in front of a crackling fireplace. "Are you awake, my child?" It was so soothing, so tender, she felt like she could listen to her forever. Yes, she knew this person, her savior, her... "Mother..." The girl whispered, then ever so steadily cracked a smile, "Yes, I'm awake."

"Good girl, now, Mother needs your help with a little something..."


"Read 'em and weep, boys, full house!" Tommy placed down his cards onto the coffee table, revealing his hand and announcing his undeniable victory simultaneously. By the rules of the game, he was now sixty bucks richer.

"Aaah, fuck you, Tommy." Sam slouched, pressing his back against the dining chair he's occupying, frustrated, he was now twenty bucks poorer along with the other mobsters, except for this Sicilian schmuck, Tommy.

"Yea! Wiseguy's must be cheatin'!" Paulie snarked, making his contempt clear for Tommy's - rather suspicious - winning streak, he glared at the grinning prick then turned his gaze at the last of the mob quartet, "You with me right, Giuseppe?!"

Giuseppe "the Silent" stayed true to his moniker once more as he simply shrugged, but that one shrug spoke a thousand words, particularly that Sam and Paulie were nothing more than sore losers.

"Ha! Giuseppe here knows what's up, I’m just that good," Still high on his victory, the Italian-American man gathered the cards and started shuffling them, "Another round?"

"Eh, fuck it, sur- eh...?" Sam was about to agree, but then he heard creaking noises from where the back door was, "Oh, guys, I think Vito's back."

"Fuck, about time, eh? I'm so hungry I could eat a horse." Tommy stopped shuffling the cards as he was sure that the crew wanted to enjoy those mouth-watering Papa Ron's pizzas more than playing poker right now.

"The... fuck?"

...only for the person who showed up wasn't carrying pizza boxes, nor was she Vito. It was a naked little girl who looked like she'd weigh lighter than a feather, face covered in damp blonde locks that clung to her skin, dirty feet trailing mud prints all over the floor.

All four made-men were dumbfounded, including Giuseppe, they could only watch as the tiny 'zombie' trailed over to the suitcase, the suitcase that held the documents they were supposed to exchange with a representative of their blackmail victim for some fat G's . That snapped the men out of their trance.

"Oi oi oi, lil' shit, the fuck you think you doin'?!" Tommy - being the 'one in charge' of the group - was the first who took initiative as he swaggered over to the lost hobo brat and grabbed her shoulder, at that moment, he felt chills freezing his spine as the girl suddenly snapped her gaze at him like a possessed child straight out of the Exorcist. Her wide-opened eyes were blood-red with the narrow pupils of a reptile, glinting sharp fangs peeking from between her lips, pointed ears, and most bizarrely, a pair of fuckin' branches grew out of her back. What happened next was a blur as Tommy found himself thrown through the air, unceremoniously crashing onto a wall.

"...?! BITCH!!" Sam roared as he, Paulie, and Giuseppe all pulled out their glocks and unloaded everything onto the anorexic monster. Even though she's a small target, at this distance, most of the bullets found home into the girl's flesh... only to be literally pushed out of the wounds, clattering uselessly onto the floor while the holes closed up much faster than what should've been possible.


"Punish them, Caroline dear~"

As the trembling mafioso frantically tried to reload, it was already too late for them...


Unbothered by the mutilated and singed corpses of four dead men behind her, Caroline smashed open the suitcase’s locks, revealing its content to be a file of some documents and pictures. They appeared to be evidences against a certain politician involved in human trafficking or something like that, the blonde didn't personally care. She simply held out one hand over the items as deep blue light enveloped them. When she pulled her arm back, the documents became nothing more than pieces of blank paper and the photographs showed nothing but a flat black surface, The Mother had claimed them.

"You're such a sweetie, honey~"

"Ehehe~" The girl giggled mirthfully, hearing the praise was really nice and combined with the pleasure she had from siphoning the information, she was one happy little girl.

"Breaking News. This just in, groups of masked criminals are attacking Central Penrose as we speak. All citizens, please stay indoors until authorities have dealt with the threat." The newscaster reported, his voice relayed through the television's speakers.

"Hear that, child? Be a sweetie and investigate that for me, would you? It's not too far away from where you are."

"Yes, Mom~" The petite blonde nodded gingerly once as flames enveloped her body, purging all the filth off her thin frame, then they coalesced into the shape of an outfit, forming a scarlet ragged dress with a peculiar hem as it constantly ebbed and flaked off pieces of itself much like sparks from a burning campfire. Her back-length locks styled itself into a ponytail at her left temple before a red ribbon kept them in place, formed in the same manner as her dress.

Then, she held out her left hand as tongues of flames slithered outward to merge together, forming a peculiar sword-like magic staff that was taller than its wielder. That done, Caroline flapped her crystalline branch-wings and flew out of the mobster's hideout by crashing through a window before taking to the skies, soaring toward downtown Penrose.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Shifter_Master
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Shifter_Master Atrast Nal Tunsha

Member Seen 17 hrs ago


‘And the day had been going so well’ Penny would sigh internally just as Elora started to speak. Whilst Penny was unsure who amongst the two of them had a stronger connection to Beacon’s servers a call for backup was something that neither of them would miss.

Still, she figured that it was par for the course here in Penrose. A week without something going wrong was almost too good to be true more often than not in this city. Not that the time between the end of the Christmas party and now wasn’t made use of. Penny had done what she could to prep for the Sanctuary to move, strove to maintain the peace she had between the Ascendency and the Sanctuary, while also worked to help the girls that she watched over at the Sanctuary. She had even found time to go see Brittany and do some magical maintenance.

The errors that nearly killed her back at the Beach had been patched up by her girlfriend, but Penny had kept a close eye on her systems since and learned that some of her magical traits were slowly and quietly destabilizing her system even if she didn’t use them. And it was the excessive use of them at Christmas that led to the near catastrophe.

Yet that was all just the chores from the day to day. Today she had been filling in for a Beacon girl who had a non-magical family emergency. Perfect life could only do so much for grandparents after all. Her ‘shift’ was almost over and she was just on her way out to see if her girlfriend was free.

But no, mass packs of Wendigos’ had to come out of nowhere and ruin that plan.

“Do you really need to ask?” Penny would reply to Rachel as processed the data that was feeding in. “I’ll head to the Business District.” She’d announce after only a moment. “Once I’m on site I’ll link up with you Elora so that we’ve got a better picture of what’s going on.” As much as the Ascendency and Penny didn’t get along the Queen hoped that they would still be willing to work together with this latest attack.

She turned and started rushing towards the teleporters. “And if you trust me” Her voice would continue from one of the speakers in the room even as she left. “I can also promise that the patrol in the industrial sector will get back up as well. If not, try and send Aurelio or someone like him. Please?”

Because, and Penny had no way of knowing if it was intended or not, but that patrol was uncomfortably close to the Sanctuary. Which meant that Penny could easily get support over there quickly. In fact before she even made it to the teleporter room Penny had already sent off a message to her court. After all, there where Wendigos near the Sanctuary. That wasn’t a good thing even without Beacon nearly landing at the front door.

Across the city, nestled away within the industrial sector, in one of the abandoned warehouses lay the Sanctuary. A safe haven for any and all that had no where else to go. It was a poor sight at first glance as much of the true worth was hidden below, though that didn’t raise its profile all that much truthfully.

Nevertheless three people within the Sanctuary would receive Penny’s message. The first among them was a regal catgirl. Penny had learned a bit from her actions at the Beach, and was working on keep her Regent in the loop where time permitted. Still her relationship with Dina had soured.

Next to notice their message was a towering muscular girl, who’s eyes and horns gave easy proof to her inhuman nature. Ashlyn was Penny’s captain of the guard, and who was in charge of matters of security while Penny was away. The wendigo situation was something she needed to know of.

The last to receive the message was a rather petit, but extremely buxom girl. Monica was as close to a spiritual advisor Penny had, due to the mino-girl’s status as a priestess of Hestia. Though that wasn’t the reason Penny contacted her, the reason was that Monica was one of the few Fire wielders that Penny knew would step up to help protect the Sanctuary.

Monica and Ashlyn would simply nod at each other having been cuddled up watching the movie that was playing. As they stood Ashlyn would call out “Belladonna!” Ashlyn’s sharp voice echoing out “We got a hunt and you’re up!”

“Minette! You’re on deck while we are out. Ellen, Tina! Eyes open incase they get past us.” Ashlyn would continue to give out orders. The number of girls who actually registered for Sanctuary defense was low over all, but that didn’t mean they weren’t prepared for this. The Sanctuary was on the outskirts of Penrose after all, they got a lot more low-grade monster run ins then most other places. So even with all the shouting there was barely any reaction from those that were shouted at. They were used to this.

It took only two minutes from when the message from Penny came in for the small squad of monster girls to head out. They had a home to protect, and Bacon bits to save and then chase off. Just another day in Penrose.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Flamelord
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Unlike many, Alicia had not been particularly troubled by the events that had taken place over Christmas. Sure, some bad things had happened, but few of it had affected Alicia personally. Instead she had gotten to build a warmer relationship with Rachel. She'd gotten to spend time with Kimble, and she had received nice gifts. To say nothing of the presents she got from her Beacon provided family.

With a new year, she was feeling refreshed. It seemed the headaches and crises of the past year might come to an end at last, even with lingering villains lurking in the shadows. But she would handle those threats as they arose, and hopefully pre-empt some of the worse fighting.

Another day brought the usual work, Alicia writing up her reports of what patrols had seen and identifying potential trouble areas. Before she finished though Elora spoke up, reporting monster attacks in progress. The locations of the attacks weren't too much of a surprise, but perhaps that was experience talking. She'd fought at those sorts of locales before after all.

"I suppose I should," she conceded after a few moments. "I'm still working out that balance of personal involvement and delegation, but I don't want to seem too aloof from things." She was still working on fitting into the role of leader, at least at this scale. It was different from leading a team in a fight.

Penny was quick to head out, and Alicia began moving for the teleporters as well. "I'll head to the hospital. Our duty is to protect civilians after all." And errant park benches. The thought popped in unbidden, but she brushed it to the side as she made her way to her particular destination. It was time to go to work once more.
Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Ponn
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Even More Tales From The Timeskip

(The next post will be about things that actually matter, guys, I swear!)

A nervous tension pervaded Covington Industries’ primary R&D facility, deep in the heart of Covington Tower. Violet Covington, heiress of the Covington family and acting CEO of Covington Industries, was making her weekly inspection. A young woman of frosty demeanor and piercing gaze, she was the living embodiment of the “aloof dark-haired girl” stereotype. However, Violet was more than just some aristocratic snob, lording it over the pitiful researchers working on projects far beyond her juvenile comprehension. She was a gifted scientist in her own right, one who had played an influential part in the development of some of CI’s most advanced creations, and this was what truly made the assembled R&D staff shudder at the young heiress’s approach. It was no secret that Violet held herself to an exceedingly high standard, and that she expected others to strive for that same lofty pinnacle, a pinnacle few ever seemed able to reach…

Perhaps farthest from attaining that goal was Dr. Priscilla Morris, a mousy, bespectacled young woman who worked on drone AI development. She was everything Violet was not: a clumsy, nervous, socially awkward daydreamer, who frequently got distracted and liked to fill the margins of her various notebooks with whimsical doodles. Thus, it was perhaps unsurprising that, when Violet entered the lab, her purposeful strides delivered her straight to Priscilla’s workstation.

“Dr. Morris, may I have a moment of your time?” the heiress inquired.

“O-Oh, gosh!” Priscilla stammered, jolting her head up from the work she’d previously been engrossed in. “M-Miss Covington! I-I’m so sorry! I-I didn’t notice you enter! Oh!” she gasped as she quickly set to work cleaning up her note-filled workstation. “A-And, I’m sorry for still using paper, a-and for making doodles… I-I know you said that it was primitive and childish, b-but I find it it helps me think better, and⏤”

“Dr. Morris,” Violet snapped, cutting off Priscilla’s nervous rambling. “I did not come here to speak about mere trifles. I’ve been told that your productivity has noticeably declined of late, and that you seem utterly exhausted, something your present appearance clearly attests.” Indeed, the young woman’s face appeared haggard and worn, while dark bags hung under her bloodshot eyes. “Have you been getting enough sleep?”

“U-Um, well, I have been having some slight sleeping problems,” Priscilla conceded. “B-But it’s really nothing to worry yourself about, Miss Covington!” she hastened to add.

“I believe I shall be the judge of that,” Violet replied sternly. “Especially when it has a detrimental effect on your work. So tell me, what kind of sleeping problems are you having?”

Priscilla remained silent for a moment, as if she were embarrassed to answer the heiress’s question. “T-They’re… They’re nightmares,” she eventually admitted. “I’ve been having an unusually vivid reoccurring nightmare, and it’s so stressful that when I wake up, I can’t seem to get back to sleep.” She looked down at her notes, unable to meet Violet’s eyes. “I-I know. It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?” she added despondently. “I’m a grown woman. I-I shouldn’t be letting things like this get to me. That’s what I keep telling myself, but…”

Her voice trailed off as she felt Violet’s hand on her shoulder.

“No, it’s not ridiculous at all,” the heiress told her. “I have enough familiarity with them myself to know that nightmares should be taken seriously.”

Y-You have nightmares?” Priscilla asked, sounding more than a little incredulous.

Everyone has nightmares,” Violet clarified. “What’s important is determining why you’re having them, and then solving whatever that issue may be.”

Priscilla seemed to pale at that suggestion. “Y-You mean, I should see a therapist?” she asked.

“Perhaps,” Violet mused thoughtfully. “But for now, let’s just see if the nightmares continue to persist, and then take things from there. In the meantime,” she added, while glancing at a wall clock. “I think you should head home now and try to get some rest.”

“W-What?” Priscilla gasped. “B-But my work…”

“Can be completed tomorrow,” Violet finished, in a tone that said she would not permit further discussion. “I am well aware of how time-sensitive your current project is, but I would prefer it to be completed without error, and in your current state, I fear that is far from guaranteed.”

“A-All right,” Priscilla conceded. “A-And, um, t-thank you very much, Miss Covington,” she added with a timid smile.

“There is no need to thank me,” the heiress replied with a dismissive wave of her hand as she turned to continue her inspection. “Your health directly influences productivity, thus it is only natural that I would seek its improvement.”

It’s actually rather admirable that she has such dedication to her work, Violet reflected as she walked away. Don’t worry, Priscilla. With any luck, your nightmares shall end tonight.

Indeed, Violet Covington knew well just how dangerous nightmares could be, and although medical treatment and therapy could perhaps provide a solution to them, there was something, or rather, someone far more suited to the task…

As orphans themselves, most would consider Connie and Mia to be the perfect people to help a fellow orphan in need, and that was exactly what had brought the pair back to the orphanage that had been their home until only a few short hours ago. Indeed, it filled them with feelings both strange and nostalgic to be returning so soon, but there was someone here who required their help, and neither of the two kindhearted young women would allow anything to prevent them from providing it…

Their first inkling that something wasn’t quite right had come as they were packing their belongings in preparation for the move to their new home. Kayli Devon, an experienced magical woman, had recently adopted the pair, and they would now be living in her suburban home, along with her two “daughters”, Rose and Iris. Connie and Mia were already good friends with the twins, and thought quite highly of Kayli herself as well, and so they were very much looking forward to this new stage of their lives. They had just finished the last few boxes, when they heard a commotion coming from the hallway.

Opening the door, they were greeted with the deeply upsetting sight of a small girl wearing dark sunglasses and holding a cane being tormented by a group of the orphanage’s worst bullies. In addition to the verbal abuse, several were shooting spitballs at her, while a particularly cruel brute named Kevin stuck his leg out in front of her path, causing the poor girl to land flat on her face. Groaning in pain, she slowly lifted her head, at which point her sunglasses were snatched away by a blonde girl named Rita. “What’s this?” the stuck up girl inquired contemptuously. “Do you seriously think these will make you look cool?” she sneered.

“She looks cooler than you, ya fuckin’ bitch!” Mia snarled as she charged forward and yanked the stollen glasses from Rita’s hand. The snooty blonde gasped as the tomboy proceeded to slam her against the wall. “So ya like pickin’ on blind girls, huh?” Mia growled. “How about tryin’ that shit on someone who can actually fight back?!”

Meanwhile, a horrified Connie had rushed to the fallen girl’s side and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. “O-Oh my gosh, a-are you all right?” she asked.

“Y-Yeah…” the girl replied as she was helped to her feet. “T-This kind of thing happens to me a lot…”

“The only reason that pathetic little cripple is even here is because she cried so much to Miss Turnbuckle that the old hag decided to throw her in your old room,” Rita spat. “Honestly, it’s where she belongs, way up here in the ass end of nowhere, just like you and Cowardly Connie, over th⏤”

Rita’s stream of insults abruptly cut off as Mia pressed her forearm against the girl’s throat. “If you had even half a brain, you’d know that insulting Connie when I’m around to hear it is a REALLY BAD IDEA… she hissed, while Rita desperately gasped for breath. Just as the blonde’s face was starting to turn blue, Mia released her hold and flung the bully down the hall. Giving the others a look that could kill, she added, “The rest of you shitbags better beat it, or my fist is goin’ through every last one of your faces!”

In a frantic scramble, the bullies fled down the hallway before disappearing down the stairs.

“Here,” Mia said in a far softer tone as she gently placed the recovered glasses in the blind girl’s hand. “I’m really sorry you had to deal with that.”

“I-It’s okay,” she replied. “I mean, it’s nothing new… B-But thank you for sticking up for me,” she added with a smile as tears began to stream down her cheeks. “I… I’ve never had anyone defend me before…”

“T-That’s so awful!” Connie gasped, her own eyes beginning to water.

“I’m Mia,” the tomboy introduced herself. “And this is my best friend, Connie. She’s been bullied by those losers, too.”

“I-I’m Clara,” the blind girl replied. “I-It’s very nice to meet you both.”

“S-So, umm, h-how long have you b-been s-staying at the orphanage?” Connie asked.

“Oh, only a few months,” Clara explained. “My parents were abusive,” she continued, her hand instinctively resting on her bruised arm. “Eventually, someone saw them punching me in public and called child services. I… I thought things might be better here, but…” her voice trailed off into a sullen sigh as she lowered her head.

Connie, who by this point was positively bawling, leaned over and wrapped Clara’s small form up in a big hug.

“Hey, it’s okay,” Mia said, while placing a reassuring hand on Clara’s shoulder. “You’ve got friends now. We’ll make sure those pieces of crap never bother you again.”

“B-But how?” Clara asked, tilting her head in confusion. “A-Aren’t you leaving?”

“J-Just b-because we d-don’t live here anymore d-doesn’t mean we c-can’t still be friends,” Connie told her as she continued to fight back tears.

“Damn straight,” Mia concurred. “So don’t worry, okay? Everything’ll be just fine.”

Although the ride to their new home was certainly exciting, the two friends couldn’t help but reflect on Clara’s plight. She had been at the orphanage, suffering the same torments Connie herself once had, and neither of them had realized it. They had been so concerned with helping their various new friends in the magical community, that they had been blinded to the pain endured by someone living under the same roof. It didn’t help matters that the pair had done all they could to distance themselves from the rest of the orphanage. Ostensibly, this was to protect Connie from the excessive bullying she’d been experiencing, but while it did serve that purpose, it also meant that they would be blissfully unaware if others were suffering the same fate. Now that they had seen first hand that such truly was the case, they had both vowed to do something about it. So it was that Connie and Mia found themselves outside the orphanage this rainy night, although if anyone within were to glimpse them now, they would find the two friends completely unrecognizable…

In place of the tough tomboy was a verdant beauty, who closely resembled a forest nymph, Mia having assumed the mantle of Gaia, Daughter of Mother Earth. Meanwhile, in place of the timid Connie was the imposing form of the Empress of Nightmares, a masked woman with long, stringy hair, who looked like she had walked straight out of a horror movie. Having created a makeshift umbrella out of large-leafed plant, Gaia led her friend to the tree just outside the window of their old room. After placing an emerald hand upon the trunk, the tree lowered a thick branch, and, once the pair were resting securely on it, brought it back up to the window. Because they had made use of this method multiple times in the past, Gaia had ensured that there was a hidden way of opening the window from the outside. Employing it now, the two friends slipped into their old room and closed the window behind them.

No sooner had they done so, then they noticed the sound of plaintive sobbing coming from the bed. Curled up beneath the blankets, Clara’s small form shuddered in fright, occasionally convulsing, as if struck by a painful blow. Gasping in shock at the sight, Connie pressed a hand over her aching heart and moved swiftly to her new friend’s side. Gently placing her hand upon the sleeping girl’s head, she closed the eyes of her mask and concentrated. The amethyst gem embedded in her mask’s forehead gleamed brightly for a moment, before dimming to its usual soft glow. As it did so, Clara’s sobs and shudders ceased, her nightmare having been taken from her. As the girl’s breathing settled into a more relaxed and peaceful rhythm, Connie removed her hand and sighed in relief.

“T-Thank goodness… I-I w-wasn’t sure if t-that would a-actually work…”

“Well done, little sister,” Gaia whispered. “You’ve really come a long way in gaining control over your magic.”

“T-Thanks, Mia,” Connie replied, her mask forming a smile that some might have found a little creepy, at least if they didn’t know the kind heart behind it.

“Now,” Gaia added, her normally serene visage taking on a far more ominous countenance. “Let’s share Clara’s nightmare with the ones responsible for giving it to her…”

Into the room of each bully silently slid a series of thin vines, each tipped by a large bulb. rising up over the beds of each of Clara’s tormentors, the bulbs opened to spray thick clouds of spores into each bully’s face. Containing a powerful sedative, the spores would ensure that none of the bullies would wake as larger vines slithered in and pulled them from their beds. Once every last bully had been brought to the basement, the real work would begin…

As the brightly shining gem on her forehead filled the chamber with a purplish glow, Connie summoned Clara’s nightmare into her hands, a crackling sphere of malignant energy. Pouring her own magic into it, she greatly strengthened the sphere’s power, causing writhing tendrils to shoot forth. With a silent command, they darted out to impale the foreheads of each slumbering tormentor, at which point they proceeded to flood their victims’ subconscious minds with nightmare energy. Clara’s nightmare energy…

It wasn’t long before the peaceful forms began writhing in anguish, the once silent chamber now filled with screams and sobs. A part of Connie hated to see this, but another part of her knew that this was merely the result of their own horrible treatment of an innocent girl, and it was only right that they got to experience the misery they had wrought for themselves. Of course, it wasn’t just Clara’s anguish they were experiencing. At Gaia’s suggestion, Connie had reluctantly added some extra, and particularly traumatic, elements to the end of each nightmare, a ‘false awakening’, which would occur after Clara’s nightmare had run its course. ‘Awakening’ to find themselves in the basement of the orphanage, the very same place in which they had once imprisoned a terrified Connie, the bullies would soon notice their skin start to ripple and bulge, as if something was growing beneath it. A moment later, hundreds of thorny plants would burst from their flesh and pour out of every orifice. Their shuddering bodies would twist and warp, limbs shooting off and eyes popping out from the sheer force of the fiendish foliage exploding outwards. The pain was immeasurable, the horror, unimaginable, yet still they continued to live, still continued to feel the indescribable torture being inflicted upon them.

Some might consider this an excessively brutal punishment for “mere” bullying, Connie herself certainly had, but Gaia was not one of them. She knew just how brutal bullying could be, was well aware that many victims even went so far as to take their own lives, just to escape their tormentors, and she wanted these bullies to feel every ounce of that same soul-crushing despair for themselves. As far as the Daughter of Mother Earth was concerned, they deserved everything they were getting, and the fact that their current torment provided the perfect segue into the next, and final, stage of her and Connie's plan was only an added bonus.

Finally, after what seemed like hours of utter agony, the dreamers awoke. Their hellish experience had been so intense that many had wet themselves, and all were hyperventilating, their hands clutching their chests. At first, there were sighs and sobs of relief that their ordeal was finally over, and that it had, in fact, merely been a nightmare. Then they noticed where they were, and the sinister clutches of terror began to close around them once more…

It was at this point that Gaia chose to announce her presence.

“That was rather unpleasant, wasn’t it?” the Daughter of Mother Earth inquired, her voice like ice. “Now you know what your victims feel like. What poor Clara feels like. That was her nightmare, by the way,” she added as she glided closer, her normally serene visage now filled with utter contempt. “The one you gave her. I thought it was only fair to share it with you.”

“W-Who are you?!” Rita sobbed hysterically.

“I-Is t-this s-still a n-nightmare?!” one of the boys whimpered.

“No, this is very real,” Gaia assured them. “And as for who I am, let’s just say I’m someone who really hates bullying. Now then,” she added. “I want you to promise me that you will never bully anyone, ever again. Especially Clara. Otherwise, we can do all this again tomorrow night. And the night after that,” she continued, moving ever closer. “And the one after that, and the one after that. By this point, she was standing directly over her trembling “audience”, and she took special care to look into the terrified eyes of each one. When she got to Rita, her gaze lingered, before she knelt down in front of the whimpering blonde and held out a closed fist. “And if that doesn’t work,” she added with a malicious smirk as she turned her hand palm up and opened her fingers. “We can do this for real… At that, a tiny whirlwind of emerald energy swirled around her open palm, before coalescing into a group of spiny seeds. “Say ‘aaah~’”

The pitiful collection of formerly fearsome tormentors screamed in horror as they frantically backed away from the verdant young woman, a look of unbridled terror in their eyes. W-We promise! We promise!” they pleaded desperately. “We swear we’ll be good! We swear it! We’ll apologize to her, first thing tomorrow! Y-Yeah!” Rita added, nodding vigorously. “A-And I-I’ll be her best friend from now on! I’ll take her shopping and even get her one of those seeing eye dogs!”

“I’m sure she’d like that very much,” Gaia replied, her demeanor returning to its usual tranquil state as she dissolved the seeds in a burst of green mist. “Well, it looks like you’ve learned your lesson, so I think we should probably get you back to your rooms now, hmm~?”

Not wasting a moment, she had the vines that had been slowly creeping up once again dowse the group with sedative spores, after which they wrapped up each teen and carried them to their respective rooms.

“See, that wasn’t too bad, was it?” Gaia asked as she and Connie made their way back to Clara’s room. “Thanks to your help, I was able to edit the nightmare myself, so you didn’t have to see anything scary, Clara won’t be bullied anymore, and she might even make a few new friends.”

“I-I g-guess so…” Connie reluctantly conceded, her mask forming a slight frown. “B-But w-what you d-did to t-those bullies was k-kinda mean…”

“It’s like I told you before, we just gave them a taste of their own medicine. Now they know what being bullied feels like, so hopefully their bullying days are done.”

For their sake…

“W-Well, w-when you p-put it t-that way, it d-does k-kinda make s-sense… A-And I’m sure Clara will love h-having some n-new friends!”

Opening the door, they were greeted by the sight of the girl in question slumbering peacefully. As Gaia glided over to the window, Connie went to sit down on the edge of the bed. “S-Sweet dreams, Clara,” she whispered, while gently stroking the girl’s hair. “I h-hope you have a r-really great day tomorrow.”

“She will, little sister,” Gaia insisted, giving her friend a warm smile. “Thanks to you. Never forget that.”

“I-I won’t,” Connie replied, returning Gaia’s smile with one of her own.

M-Maybe Mia’s right… she reflected as she turned to leave. Maybe these horrible powers really can help people. Still, I’d love to be able to give people sweet dreams, rather than just take away their nightmares, she sighed wistfully. That must truly be wonderful…

She could never get tired of this. Magical Dream Princess was more adamant about that fact than anything else in her life, especially when said life was filled to bursting with images to uphold and responsibilities to carry out. Yes, in light of this avalanche of stress, who wouldn’t want to return to a simpler, more idyllic state, free from worry or care? A childish state, which fulfilled the desperate longings hidden deep within herself, yet paradoxically, a state in which she could accomplish so much more on behalf of others than even a wealthy heiress ever could. For with this innocent and cheerful new self came the power to turn sadness to joy, darkness to light, the power to make dreams into reality…

Even so, there was nothing bright or cheerful about the place in which she now found herself. Indeed, it was little more than a pitch-black pit of sorrow and despair, the only sound echoing through its cold and lifeless depths being the haunting sobs of one who has given up all hope. This place was, quite literally, a nightmare…

“Awww… It’s all icky wicky and gloomy woomy in heresie weresie…” MDP observed with a frown. “Magical Dream Princess thinkie winkies this placey wacey needs some shiny whiny sparkly warklies super duper bad!” With a wave of her wand, the Princess of Dreams created a glittering prismatic streamer of light, which she twirled around herself until it formed a glowing bubble. “Theresie~! (giggle!)” MDP declared with a happy smile. “That’s, like, lots better~! (giggle!)”

Having been suitably cheered by her little light show, the whimsical girl began gleefully skipping through the dreary landscape, searching for the person she had come here to help. “Priscilla Willa~? Priscilla Wiiiillaaaa~” MDP called in a playful sing-song. “Ah~! There you aresie~! (giggle!)” she exclaimed upon finally catching sight of the bespectacled young woman.

She was cured up in a tight ball, trembling hands clutching at her knees, while her sobs continued to fill the shadowy space around her. “Aww, don’t cry, Priscilla Willa~” MDP told her gently, while kneeling beside her and giving her some affectionate head pats. “It’s okie dokie, Magical Dream Princess is here nowie~! She’ll helpy welpy make this nasty wasty nightmare go bye bye, and that’s, like, her special wecial pinky winky promise womise~! (giggle!)”

“M-Magical Dream Princess…?” Priscilla asked hesitantly, as she slowly raised her head. The young woman’s eyes widened when she saw just who had addressed her. “A-Are you… A-Are you a… M-Magical Girl?”

“Yeperoonie~! (giggle!)” MDP confirmed with playful wink and a peace sign salute.

“A-And you can really get rid of my nightmares?”

“Like, Magical Dream Princess wouldn’t be Magical Dream Princess if she couldn’t~! (giggle!) But, like, she’s gonna need your helpy weply, too, Priscilla Willa~!”

“M-My help? B-But, I can’t do anything! I’m just a useless, childish screw up… I know that’s what she thinks, and she’s right. I’m so pathetic… I can’t help anyone…”

“Like, that’s not true at allsie!” MDP declared, looking quite upset. “Priscilla Willa is, like, super duper talented walented~! She’s, like, really really smart, and, like, Magical Dream Princess just wuvs the cute little thingie wingies she draws in her notebook wotebooks~! (giggle!)”

“Y-You’ve seen my drawings?”

“Uh huh~!” MDP confirmed with several excited nods.

“B-But… Oh, never mind…” the bespectacled young woman sighed in sullen resignation. “You’re just a figment of my imagination. You can’t help me. No one can help me…” she added, her voice little more than a plaintive whisper.

“Magical Dream Princess isn’t a figment wigment!” the whimsical girl shot back, while stomping her foot down. “And she, like, totally wotally can helpy welpy, but only if you let her! So, come on, Priscilla Willa~!” she added, reaching out her hand. “Magical Dream Princess can’t do it all by herselfy welfy~!”

“But it’s impossible!” Priscilla cried, shaking her head. “She’s just too strong…”

“Aww, don’t be silly, Priscilla Willa~! Like, nothing is impossible wossible when friendy wendies work together wether~! (giggle!)”

“F-Friends…?” Priscilla echoed. “N-No one’s ever wanted to be friends with me before…”

“Really?!” MDP exclaimed, her eyes going wide in shock. “Like, that makes Magical Dream Princess super duper sad, so she’s gonna changey wangey that right nowie~!” Not wasting a moment, MDP pulled Priscilla into a big hug. “This is Magical Dream Princess’s super duper dreamy weamy friendship wendship huggy wuggy~!” MDP announced. “Now Priscilla Willa and Magical Dream Princess are friendy wendies for ever and ever~! (giggle!)”

“T-Thank you,” the bespectacled young woman whispered as she squeezed her new friend tight, the tears streaming down her cheeks no longer tears of sadness, but of joy.

“You’re, like, totally wotally welcome, Priscilla Willa~! (giggle!)” MDP replied cheerily. “Okie dokie, so like, before Magical Dream Princess can do anythingy wingy, can Priscilla Willa show her where this meanie weanie person worsen who’s been saying such terrible werrible stuffy wuffy is~?”

“Umm, I-I’m not exactly sure… I-I think she’s…” Priscilla’s voice trailed off as jagged bolts of lightning illuminated a massive figure rising up from the surrounding gloom. “O-Oh, crap! S-She’s here!”

As the imposing figure made its grand entrance, the flashes of lightning became even more intense. The harsh strobing cast the jagged landscape around the towering titan in sharp relief, but that was nothing when placed against what it revealed of the mountainous monstrosity itself…

The creature had long, writhing, tendril-like hair, each strand tipped with a small mouth, which spoke an endless stream of mockery and contempt. Its looming visage was one of imperious disdain, its cold gaze literally looking down on all before it. Its gargantuan body was encased in sinister, gothic armor, which still gave clear evidence of a female form. Even as dreamer and dream princess watched, the cruel claws of a gauntleted hand splayed threateningly overhead, a spiked cage about to descend and usher them into a world of pain and torment forever. But perhaps this creature’s most terrifying aspect, at least as far as Magical Dream Princess was concerned, was its familiarity. She knew who this was. For all it’s horrifying aspects, it’s identity was unmistakable…

“G-Golly wolly…” she whispered, her wide eyes filled with utter incredulity. “T-That’s… That’s…”


Yes, MDP had to admit, the towering figure bore more than a passing resemblance to her mundane self, at least, if her mundane self had been crossed with an eldritch horror…

“V-Violet Covington!” Priscilla cried in horror. “S-She’s found us! W-What do we do now?!”

“V-Violet Wiolet’s your nightmare wightmare?” MDP asked, her voice filled with astonishment. “But… why?

“S-She’s always looked down on me,” a trembling Priscilla replied. “Always thought I was worthless. A-And she was right! She’s so much better than I am, at everything! She’s so smart and strong and confident and pretty…”

She’s not very pretty witty right nowie… MDP thought to herself, as she continued to behold her own twisted visage.


“You… You thinky winky Violet Wiolet is pretty witty?” MDP asked, a blush coloring her cheeks.

“Of course,” Priscilla replied adamantly. “She has such amazing skin and hair, and her bearing is so confident and regal. Meanwhile I’m just a plain, mousey… LOOK OUT!” she cried, as the giant clawed hand descended upon them.

With a quick twirl of her magic wand, MDP blinked them away to a rocky overlook, some distance away from Nightmare!Violet, just before the armored giantess slammed her spiky fist into the space they’d just occupied.

“Wowie zowie~!” MDP exclaimed with an excited smile. “That was super duper closey wosey, huh~?! Okie dokie~!” she declared, striking a cute pose. “If we’re gonna stoppy woppy that big meanie weanie, then we gotta do it right nowie~! Firsty worsty, you’ve gotta stop listening to all those awful waful thingie wingies she says about you!” the whimsical girl instructed. “You are a smarty warty, and a total wotal cutie wutie, too~! (giggle!) But, most of allsie, you have a super duper imaginationwation~! Magical Dream Princess knows you wuv magical wagical girls just as much a she does, so she thinkie winkies you could, like, totally wotally be an awesome wasome magical wagical girl, too~!”

“M-Me?! B-Be a magical girl?!” Priscilla stammered. “B-But I can’t! I-I mean…”

“Like, you totally wotally can~! (giggle!)” MDP insisted. “Magical Dream Princess believes in you lots and lots~! This is your dreamy weamy, Priscilla Willa~!” the whimsical girl added. “You can be anythingy wingy you want to be~!”

“I… I can,” Priscilla whispered. “I will!” she declared, her voice swelling with newfound confidence. Magical Dream Princess believes in me, so it’s only right that I start believing… In myself!

The next instant, Priscilla’s body was consumed by a sparkling, prismatic whirlwind, one which burst apart in a brilliant explosion a moment later to reveal…

“Painting the world with joy and love, Pretty Painter Princess Priscilla~!”

“Wowie zowie~!” MDP squealed with delight. “You look sooo super duper adorable worable, Priscilla Willa~! You’re like a super duper cute painter wainter person werson~! (giggle!) Magical Dream Princess thinkie winkies you can totally wotally stop that big meanie weanie head, nowie~!”

Looking considerably more cheerful and youthful, the new magical girl struck a cute pose, before dramatically pointing her finger at the imposing form of Nightmare!Violet. “Dreams should be filled happiness and hope!” Priscilla declared. “Darkness and gloom have no place here!” Sweeping her enchanted paintbrush across the twisted landscape before her, a stream of rainbow-colored paint washed over the nightmare realm, changing it into a bright and whimsical fairyland. “This dream is my canvas,” she continued. “And I’m gonna paint the kind of world I want to live in~!”

Not wasting another moment, Priscilla painted herself a pair of roller skates, followed by a sky borne rainbow road, which led straight to where Nightmare!Violet loomed over the now bright and cheerful landscape. Before the imposing giantess could swipe away a single happy little cloud or stomp even one happy little tree, Priscilla raced across the prismatic path to engage her in colorful combat. With a swipe of her paintbrush, the magical artist set to work on the writhing tendrils that served as her nightmarish foe’s hair, swiftly changing the dark stands into bright pink ringlets, loops, and swirls. Soon, the stringy mass was a pair of cute twintails, the dark grey crown mounted atop it now one of shining gold. Next, Priscilla turned her attention to the towing titan’s outfit. With only a few well-placed strokes, the spiky armor had become a frilly pink dress, the dark violet gemstone embedded in its chest piece now a glittering jewel of prismatic light.

Meanwhile, Magical Dream Princess wasn’t just standing around during her friend’s explosion of artistic activity. Indeed, she had conjured a pair of glittery pink pompoms and begun what could perhaps best be described as a cheerleader routine mixed with an idol performance.

“Go Priscilla Momilla, Bananafanna Fofilla, Mi My Moh Milla~! Go Prisciiiilla~!” she sang, dancing and jumping around with childish delight.

Encouraged by MDP’s performance, Priscilla continued to paint over Nightmare!Violet’s unhappy visage, until it was a perfect reflection of Magical Dream Princess’s own. Finally finished, she skated back over to her friend so they could both admire her finished creation.

“Yaaaay~! Priscilla Willa did it~! (giggle!) Hip hip horaaaay~!” MDP cheered as she jumped up in the air, arms spread wide. “Wowie zowie~!” the whimsical girl exclaimed a moment later when she realized just what her mundane self’s nightmarish doppelgänger had been changed into. “She looks just like Magical Dream Princess nowie~! (giggle!)”

“Yep!” Priscilla confirmed with a cheerful smile. “I wanted to make something in honor of my new friend!” she added, wrapping MDP up in a big hug. For several seconds, the two magical girls remained in their warm embrace, while giving voice to a stream of sweet giggles. “Thank you so much for believing in me, Magical Dream Princess! I couldn’t have done it without you!”

“Aww~ You’re, like, totally wotally welcome, Priscilla Willa~! (giggle!)” MDP replied, her cheeks blushing slightly as she gave her friend a playful wink.

After concluding their hug, the two magical girls proceeded to sit down on the edge of the cliff and talk for what seemed like several hours, idly kicking their legs and giggling in blissful contentment. However, all good things must come to an end, and so it soon came time for Magical Dream Princess to depart.

“A-Are you sure you have to go?” Priscilla asked with a despondent frown. “I-I mean, I know you’re not real, but… You’ve been such a wonderful friend, and… And it hurts to lose you…”

“Aww, don’t be silly willy, Priscilla Willa~!” MDP replied with a big smile. “Like, Magical Dream Princess is totally wotally realsie~! And, like, even weven if she can’t see you anymoresie, she’s, like, super duper positive wositve that you’ll meet other friendy wendies who wuv the same stuffy wuffy you do~! (giggle!)”

“Y-You really think so?”

“Totally wotally~! (giggle!)” MDP confirmed with a cute wink and an adorable little peace sign salute. “Maybe waybe it’s even weven somebodywody you’ve already met beforsie~!”

“Maybe,” Priscilla conceded. “But I don’t think I know anyone like that… A-And what about you? W-When I wake up, will I even remember you, or any of this?”

“Don’t worry, Priscilla Willa~!” MDP instructed, her sweet voice filled with confidence. “You’ll totally wotally remember wember~! Weeeell… Maybe waybe not up heresie,” she conceded, while tapping her head. “But you totally wotally will in heresie~!” she added, placing a hand over her heart. “And that’s what matter watters most~! (giggle!)”

“Yeah, I guess it is…” Priscilla replied wth a smile, before giving her friend a final embrace.

“Okie dokie, it’s timey wimey for Priscilla Willa to wake up nowie~” MDP announced in a soft and gentle voice as the whimsical dream world dissolved. “And Magical Dream Princess just knows it’s gonna be a super duper day~”

What an awful fucking day… Angela grumbled to herself as she trudged along the crowded streets of a massive, interdimensional metropolis. With each step she took, the annoyed young woman cursed the ill fortune that had led her here. This was the very last thing she wanted to be doing, and yet, her pride refused to allow her to turn back. This was simply another challenge, and she would overcome it, just like all the others she had faced. After all, she was the Best Magical Girl…

In an out-of-the-way corner of the Overcity, there is a quaint little tea shop, A Taste of Heaven. Its quiet and soothing atmosphere have made it a favorite of the few who know of its existence, and its proprietress, one Tea Angel Vanessa, always does her best to ensure that all her customers have the most pleasant dining experience possible. In addition to the main tea room itself, there is also a smaller back room, which often plays host to more private gatherings. In this particular instance, it was hosting the latest meeting of the Inconvenient Magical Abilities Support Group.

“Hello again, everyone!” the group’s organizer, Healing Fairy Isis, greeted the gathered magical girls. “I have some exciting news to tell you all! We have a very special guest joining us today! None other than The Angel of Hope!”

Angela cringed inwardly. Although she loved being the center of attention, this particular group was nothing to write home about. They were just a bunch of losers who didn’t like, or couldn’t control, their magic. And yet, Chiichuu had insisted that she attend a meeting, and perhaps help some of them with her gifted Reinforcement magic. Angela had rolled her eyes at the idea, but it wasn’t as though she had much of a choice…

Might as well get this over with…

There was a flash of light as the curtains draped over the room’s entrance parted to reveal the radiant form of The Angel of Hope.

“Warmest greetings, everyone!” she announced in a soothing and serene voice. “It is my great honor to join you all this glorious day!”

“The honor is ours,” Isis replied with a curtsy as she fluttered in front of the new arrival. “Never before has our humble gathering been graced with the presence of such a renowned guest!”

“You flatter me greatly,” the Angel replied, blushing as she placed an elegant hand over her heart. “I am merely the humble servant of anyone in need, wherever they may be. Pray tell, how may I be of assistance today?”

“I think it might be best if we began with introductions,” Isis suggested. “Would you all be so kind as to tell our guest a little bit about yourselves and your unique problems?” The gathered girls slowly nodded in agreement. “Wonderful! Kali, would you like to go first?”

“I guess…” a blue-skinned young woman with multiple arms said in a sullen voice. “Hi, I’m Kali, or rather, ‘Death Goddess Kali’, if you want to use my magical girl name,” she added with a sigh. It was painfully clear that she hated the title. “I was just a normal girl, until about a month ago, when I found out I’m the avatar of a goddess, and now my life is a living nightmare… I mean, look at me!” she stood up to her full, towering height and gestured at her monstrous body. “I’m a freak! How am I supposed to live a normal life looking like this?! Clenching her fists, the blue-skinned monster girl shuddered with pent up anger. “Sometimes, I just wanna strangle someone and…” her voice trailed off as she noticed the dark energy forming around her hands. She gave a lengthy sigh, causing the energy to dissipate, before sitting back down and cradling her head in her hands. “I’m sorry,” she said softly. “I haven’t eaten yet… I always get a little edgy when I haven’t eaten.”

“That’s another one of her problems,” Isis explained. “Kali can’t eat normal food anymore. She needs to feed upon the life force of living things to survive now. Venessa has been able to create a substitute, but it takes her some time to brew it. She’s been kind enough to allow Kali to live here, so she can get the potion to her as soon as it’s ready, but that means Kali is essentially a prisoner, unable to leave out of fear of losing control of her hunger.”

“I’m so afraid I might hurt someone,” Kali added, her voice filled with anguish. “I hate my magic, and what it’s done to my body. I-I just want to live a normal life…”

“Oh, you poor thing!” the Angel of Hope sobbed as she rushed over to embrace the monster girl. “I cannot even imagine the agony you must be going through! Please know that I shall do everything in my power to free you from this terrible affliction!”

What a whiny bitch… And stupid too. Here she is with a kick ass power set, and she doesn’t even know how to use it! If she had half a brain, she’d hunt down monsters to feed on. Just looking at her, I’ll bet she could be one hell of a monster killing machine, if she ever decided to get serious. Too bad she seems like a total wimp… What a waste…

Still, for aiding this poor soul I am sure to receive such wondrous bliss! Master Chiichuu has truly blessed his humble servant in that regard, and I am eternally grateful to him!

Fuckin’ fuzzball…

“T-Thank you,” Kali replied, blushing as she gave the Angel a small smile. “That really means a lot. It’s so nice to know that there are kind people, like you and Miss Isis, who are willing to help me, despite my monstrous appearance.”

“You are most welcome, Miss Kali,” the Angel replied with a warm smile of her own. “And to those who see with eyes of kindness and love, it matters not what one’s outward appearance might be. It is the heart that gives proof of one’s true nature, and, if I may be permitted to be so bold, I believe that yours is a very gentle and noble one indeed.”

Holy fuck… Is it even possible for that to have come out any cornier?

Kali herself was left speechless at the Angel’s kind words.

“Our guest is quite correct,” Isis concurred as she fluttered over and placed a comforting hand on the blue-skinned monster girl’s shoulder. “You did not ask for this to happen to you, and none of it is your fault. Now then, let’s move along to our next member,” she added glancing at a gloomy-looking girl in a raincoat. Unlike many magical girls, the outfit seemed to have a practical use, as a dark cloud hovered over her, unleashing an unceasing deluge upon the poor girl.

“Uh, hi,” she spoke up in a dull voice. “I’m ‘Storm Lady Selene’. But I’d prefer it if you just called me Selene. Y’know, like a normal person? My problem, in case it’s not completely obvious, is that I can’t turn off my magic. I’ve had this fucking raincloud over my head ever since I got my powers,” she continued, pointing her middle finger at the cloud in question. “Wanna guess how much fun dealing with this shit for a whole fucking month has been?”

“Selene, language…” Isis chided gently.

“Oh fuck off, Isis!” Selene snapped. “You’d be pissed, too, if you had to live every single day in the middle of a fucking monsoon! I didn’t sign up for this, and I sure as fuck don’t wanna stay like this.”

“My apologies,” Isis said softly. “I simply didn’t want our guest to feel⏤”

“You know what I want?! I want my fucking life back!”

“Please believe that I shall do all I can to return it to you!” the Angel cried as she clasped both hands together over her ample chest. “The sight of your suffering brings such agony to my heart!”

Holy shit… How stupid is this girl?! She’s been a magical girl for an entire month, and she hasn’t figured out how to untransform yet?!

“If I may be so bold,” the Angel began. “Perhaps if you were to undo your transformation, the storm cloud might dissipate. If you are unsure how, and it is nothing to be ashamed of if that is the case, I would be only too happy to guide you through the process.”

Selene gave a weary sigh. “I am untransformed. You seriously don’t wanna see what happens when I go full magical girl…”


“Oh my goodness!” the Angel exclaimed. “I-I had no idea! Please forgive me!” she pleaded, bowing before Selene and adding her tears to the puddle on the floor. “I assumed far too much!”

“I-It’s okay,” Selene told the weeping woman, while reaching out an awkward hand to comfort her. “You don’t need to apologize. A-And please don’t cry, it’s really weirding me out…”

“A thousand pardons!” the angelic beauty gasped, rising to her full hight and wiping her tears with an elegant hand. “I did not mean to cause you any further discomfort! I am truly sorry!”

“P-Perhaps we should move on now?” Isis suggested. “This is Magical Maiden Alice,” she added, gesturing to a nervous-looking girl in a pink, bunny eared hoodie with vibrant green hair.

“H-Hello…” the girl replied hesitantly.

“And I’m Gem Maiden Margret!” the exuberant girl next to her announced with a cheerful smile. “I’m Alice’s best friend and emotional support person!” she added, leaning over and giving the green-haired girl a big hug.

“M-More of a nuisance…” Alice muttered under her breath.

“See, Alice here can’t fully control her magic,” Margret explained. “Isn’t that just awful?!”

“Oh, it is indeed!” the Angel concurred. “Pray tell, what precisely does this lack of control entail?”

“W-Well, um, I think it has to do with my Specialization,” Alice clarified. “I-It’s a very strange oddball spec called ‘Randomness’. Basically, whenever I try to use my magic, I’ll get a random Specialization, and a random power level. S-So, one moment I might only be able to make a small flame appear over one finger, and the next, I cause a whole city to be buried by a blizzard. I have no idea what will happen, so I try not to use any magic at all, but, needless to say, that makes me a pretty useless magical girl, something my patron never fails to remind me of…” she added sullenly.

Damn… Talk about getting fucked over by your Specialization…

“He’s just a big meanie!” Margret shot back. “Don’t listen to him!” Turning back to the Angel, she added, “So, um, can you help her, Miss Angel?”

“Please fear not!” the Angel bade them. “I shall do all that I can to assist you with this dreadful burden! This is my most solemn vow!”

“Thanks so much!” Margret cheered, while wrapping the Angel in a warm embrace.

“Y-Yeah… thanks…” Alice whispered.

“Please, no thanks are necessary!” the Angel insisted. “I am only too happy to help!”

“And now for our final member,” Isis announced, moving to hover next to a glowing force field bubble, within which sat a haggard-looking young woman with pale, sickly skin and sunken, sullen eyes. Even more unnerving were the various tumors and boils covering much of her exposed skin, to the point that it was hard to believe she was still alive.

The Angel gasped at the sight, placing her trembling hands over her mouth.

“I-I’m… Plague Empress Akari…” the girl’s tired voice croaked between pained gasps for breath. “I-It’s… nice to meet you.”

“Akari’s situation is similar to Selene’s,” Isis explained, “in that her powers are far too strong for her to control. She’s constantly surrounded by a plague aura, which sickens everything in close proximity, including Akari herself. Thankfully, Gear Goddess Miyuki here,” she added, gesturing to the silver-haired gadgeteer in question, "was kind enough to create this protective containment unit for her. This way, she can interact with people without harming them.”

“Oh, you poor, poor darling!” the Angel sobbed. “Words cannot express my sorrow for your tragic plight!”

Fuck… Sucks to be her…

My tender heart aches at such a horrid sight!

“I-It’s… okay,” Akari whispered. “I-I… brought… much of this… upon myself…”

“W-Whatever do you mean?”

“Y-You… see… I…” Akari began, before descending into a fit of coughing and wheezing.

“It’s okay, Akari,” Miyuki told her gently, while reaching an energy-sheathed hand into the containment field and placing it upon the emaciated girl’s shoulder. “I’ll take it from here.” After waiting for Akari to give a small nod, the technopath continued. “You see, Akari’s powers don’t just spread disease, they can actually remove diseases and ailments from others. Thanks to Akari’s kind heart, she spent her first few years as a magical girl curing people of all sorts of medical problems: asthma, aids, cancer, the common cold, you name it. The thing is, she was only able to do that by taking those aliments on herself. She can’t actually die from any of them, but they still affect her, as you can plainly see… B-But, even though she could see it, could feel it happening, she refused to stop. She wanted to help as many people as she could before…” Miyuki closed her eyes in a vain attempt to hold back tears.

“Before it got to a point where she couldn’t hold the illnesses back anymore,” Isis finished, her voice soft and mournful.

“Yes,” Miyuki confirmed, wiping her eyes. “That’s what causes the plague aura,” she added. “That’s why she has to suffer like this… I-I've done everything I can for her but...”

By this point, everyone was weeping, the Angel of Hope most of all.

“P-Please… d-don’t… cry…” Akari begged. “I-I… chose this. I-I… d-don’t regret… a single… t-thing…”

“Such exquisite selflessness should not be repaid with such agonizing anguish!” the Angel declared. “I shall help you to find a cure,” she added, her heavenly voice filled with conviction. “I shall help all of you! No matter how long it may take, no matter how far I must travel, I shall find a way to aid each and every one of you! I know you have all placed your hopes in me, and I vow that I shall not allow those hopes to be in vain! I shall not rest until all of you have been freed from the dark clutches of despair! So swears The Angel of Hope!”

Yeah, that wasn’t cringey at all…

“You did very well, today,” Chiichuu was saying as Angela threw herself down on her bed.

After all the tiring tedium of the past few hours, she was thankful to finally return to her home in the suburbs of Hydrangopolis. And yet, even here, it seemed peace and quiet would ultimately elude her…

“Do you have any idea how annoying that was?!” she snapped at the small creature. “And how in the hell do you think I’m gonna find ways of fixing all those rejects’ problems?!” she continued. “I may be the Best Magical Girl, but even my abilities have their limits!”

“Incidentally, I was just about to address that issue,” the Puchuu replied calmly. “As it happens, there appear to be several individuals residing in Penrose who may be able to provide the solutions you seek. Furthermore, and in light of this, I believe it may be prudent for you to take up permanent residence there for the foreseeable future.”

WHAT?! Angela roared. “Are you shitting me?! Like hell I’m going back to that shitthole! Besides, it’s on the other side of the fucking continent! How the fuck do you expect me to even begin to explain that to my parents?!”

“There is no need for you to,” Chiichuu replied. “I have some good news,” he added. “Your Father has just received a promotion.” At that, he produced a colorful party horn and gave it a blow. “I’m sorry if I ruined the surprise. This move will, of course, necessitate a transfer to Penrose.”

“You fucking…

“Now, now, don’t get testy,” the Puchuu chided. “You need to appear happy for your father once he gets home. After all, attaining a senior management position at Covington Industries’ world headquarters is no small accomplishment. So please, try to calm yourself. And don’t worry, Casey has proven herself to be more than capable of guarding Hydrangopolis on her own, so there’s no cause for concern on your local friends’ account. That is, of course, assuming you have any friends here,” he added. There was the sound of a car pulling into the driveway. “Oh, I do believe that’s him now,” Chiichuu noted, before winking out of existence.

I swear, one of these days I’m gonna murder that fuckin’ fuzzb⏤

“Heeey there, my little pogchamp!” an amiable voice called as the door to her room swung open.

“Dad, no. Just…. no… Angela groaned as she squeezed her eyes shut.

“What? Isn’t that what all the kids are saying to each other these days?” he asked before giving voice to a light hearted chuckle. “But, hey, guess what? Something really cool happened today!”

“You were promoted?” Angela deadpanned.

“No! I was pro… Wait a tick, how did you know?!”

“Lucky guess?”

“Ha ha! That’s my girl!” he beamed, putting his arm around a clearly exasperated Angela. “You always were a smart cookie!” he added with a chuckle as he ruffled her hair. “But it’s not just any promotion!” he added with an exuberant grin. “I’m being transferred to CI HQ, in Penrose! I’ll be rubbing shoulders with the big boss himself! And I hear his daughter is around your age!” he continued. “Wouldn’t it be just swell if you two became friends?!”

Fuck that noise… Angela seethed. I’d never be caught dead hanging out with such a stuck up bitch! Must be nice though, being the daughter of some rich tycoon… she mused. I bet she spends all day doing whatever she wants, without having to worry about a single pointless obligation, especially not an idiotic quest on behalf of some pitiful group of born losers… Yeah… she smiled as her father continued to babble. That must be the life…

Violet gave voice to a tired sigh as another long day of work drew to a close. Sitting here, in the peaceful silence of her private study, she could begin winding down from the dizzying rollercoaster of meetings, progress reports, event attendance, and media interviews. The very worst of these being her weekly sparring matches with CI’s quarrelsome board of directors. It was painfully clear to see that they all resented having to interact with a mere teenager, and Violet was well aware that they only managed to put forth the bare minimum amount of respect because her father’s influence still loomed large over their small-minded heads. Despite his illness, the elder Covington’s imposing presence was undiminished. Indeed, even if he was forced to interact with the wider world via hologram or display screen, the patrician visage of Thane Covington still appeared hearty and hale, ready and able to take on all who dared to threaten his control over the company his grandfather had built. And as his hand-picked representative, Violet acted with all the considerable authority her father possessed, making any direct move against her a metaphorical death sentence. But that still didn’t mean they respected her, and it still didn’t make dealing with them any easier…

But now… Now that the stressful cacophony of the day’s various tasks and obligations had finally quieted, Violet could rest for a few hours, before beginning her far less stressful “after-work activities”. Normally, those hours would elapse in solitude, but that would not be the case today. Today, the young heiress had one more, highly important obligation to attend to, one she had only just recently realized she had been neglecting for far too long. But no longer. Today, she would make things right…

“Miss Covington?” The voice of her secretary called over the intercom. “Your guest has just arrived.”

“Thank you, Melisa,” the heiress replied. “Please send her in.”

A moment later, the door to the study slowly opened and the bespectacled, and clearly nervous face of Dr. Priscilla Morris appeared around it.

“Umm, y-you wanted to see me, Miss Covington?” the researcher asked.

“Yes,” Violet confirmed with a warm smile. “Please, come in and have a seat,” she added, gesturing to a comfy-looking chair in front of her desk.

“O-Okay…” Priscilla replied, hesitantly entering the room and making her way over to the desk. Upon sitting down in the offered chair she gasped as she sank into the soft fabric. “Wow, this is really comfortable!” she marveled.

“That is the idea,” Violet confirmed with a slight grin. “It’s designed to make a guest feel right at home, to ease any tension or trepidation they may be feeling. How is it working?”

“Wonderfully! I-In fact, I think that if I close my eyes, I could probably fall asleep in seconds!”

“It’s a new creation of our furniture department,” Violet explained. “If all goes according to plan, they’ll be available for purchase by the end of the month.”

“Really?” Priscilla asked, her eyes going wide. “Gosh, I’d love to have one of these… But it’s probably more than I could afford…” she added glumly.

“Perhaps someone will get one for you as a birthday present?” Violet suggested.

“But… No one ever gets me birthday presents…” Priscilla whispered with a despondent sigh.

“Then just imagine what a surprise it will be if you do get something.”

“S-Speaking of surprises, I didn’t know your secretary was an AI! She’s really extraordinary!”

“Thank you. I built her myself.”

“Really?!” Priscilla exclaimed. “That’s amazing! You’re just so talented, Miss Covington,” the bespectacled young woman continued. “Sometimes I wonder why you even keep people like me around…”

Violet frowned upon hearing the researcher’s disparaging remark, but chose not to address it. “Priscilla,” she began, before stopping as a thought occurred to her. “Is it all right if I call you Priscilla?”

“O-Of course, Miss Covington!” the researcher replied with a vigorous nod. “Y-You can call me whatever you like!”

“Thank you. So, were you able to get some sleep last night, Priscilla? I must say, you look significantly more well-rested.”

“Yes, I actually did,” the bespectacled young woman confirmed. “I started having that nightmare again, but then a… well, a magical girl appeared and helped me banish it forever. I-I know it sounds very childish,” she added after a moment. “I’m sorry. Y-You probably didn’t want to hear all that…”

“Not at all,” Violet replied. “And I am the one who should apologize. I’ve been treating you in a most unacceptable manner, and for that I am so very sorry.”

“W-What…?” Priscilla whispered, not entirely sure if she wasn’t just imagining things.

“In fact, that’s the main reason I asked to have this little meeting,” Violet continued. “I thought perhaps we might start our relationship over afresh. You’re quite fond of magical girls, aren’t you?” she asked with a smile.

“Y-Yes…” the young researcher replied with a slight blush.

“As it happens, I am rather fond of them as well,” Violet revealed.

“Y-You?!” Priscilla gasped. “B-But…”

“Yes, it’s completely inconceivable, I know,” Violet agreed with a sigh. “In fact, I’ve spent my entire life up until now carefully cultivating the image of the perfect heiress to the Covington name. I’ve had to work very hard to keep my true feelings hidden from everyone, as I felt that any sign of weakness I might display would cause my father to view me as a failure. He wouldn’t permit me to have anything to do with ‘childish things’,” the young heiress continued. “But I still longed for them, nonetheless. I… I think that is why I felt the need to berate you, when I saw your drawings, even though I admired them very much. I-It was because I was jealous of you, of how you could display your love for such things so plainly, in a way I never could.”

“Y-You were jealous… o-of me?!” Priscilla gasped. “A-And you actually like my drawings? B-But you called them…”

“Like I said, I was being disgustingly petty,” Violet reiterated. “And for that, I am so very sorry, Priscilla.”

“I-It’s okay, Miss Covington,” Priscilla insisted, raising her trembling hands in a placating manner. “I-I mean, I fully deserved to be reprimanded. A-After all, someone of my age and position shouldn’t be doing something so childish as doodling on their notes…”

“Perhaps not,” Violet conceded. “But you should never feel ashamed of the things you love. That is a lesson I’ve only just begun to learn myself. And please,” she added with a tender smile as she gently took hold of Priscilla’s trembling hands. “When we are together like this, simply call me Violet.”

“O-Oh! Uh, o-okay, Violet…” the bespectacled researcher replied, still more than a little dazed and wondering if perhaps she wasn’t just dreaming all this. “I-Is, um, is that all you wanted to talk about?”

“For the most part,” the young heiress confirmed. “Although there was one other thing I wanted to ask you.” Opening a hidden compartment in her desk, she retrieved an old DVD case and presented it to her guest, who’s eyes went wide at the sight. “I understand if you’d like to head home now,” Violet continued. “But if you wouldn’t mind staying a while longer, I thought we might watch this together. Would… Would you like that?”

“O-Oh my gosh!” Priscilla exclaimed, not believing her eyes. “T-This… T-This is a limited edition of Prism Princess, the complete series! It has all sorts of special features that were never included in any other set! Oh, I-I’d love to watch this with you!” she declared, grinning from ear to ear. “Thank you so much!”

“You are more than welcome, Priscilla,” Violet replied warmly. “Now then, shall we begin?”

“Yes, let’s!” Priscilla agreed, nodding vigorously.

Placing one of the set’s disks into the custom player built into her desk, Violet darkened the room and activated a panoramic holodisplay. A moment later, a carefully chosen episode of Prism Princess began to play…

“Oh wow! This episode is the start of the Friendship Force arc! When the Prism Princess teams from all the previous seasons team up for the very first time!”

“That’s right,” Violet confirmed with a smile. “It’s one of my personal favorites.”

“Mine too!”

The unlikely pair went on to watch the entirety of Friendship Force, and, by the epic story’s exiting and heartwarming conclusion, found that they had become friends themselves.

“Thanks again, Violet,” Priscilla said as the lights came back on. “I had so much fun, and.. Um, i-it really means a lot that you decided to share this with me.”

“Well, I think it’s only right that Friendship Force should be viewed alongside a friend, don't you?” Violet asked with a playful smirk.

“Yeah,” Priscilla agreed with a warm smile. “I guess you’re right! Um, Violet…?” the bespectacled young woman added hesitantly. “Do… Do you think there could really be a multiverse out there, like in the show? I-I mean, do you think there might be a place where magical girls really do exist?”

“Who can say?” the heiress replied with a shrug. “Our knowledge is currently very limited in that regard, so I think anything is possible.”

“Oh, I really hope so, don’t you? I mean, meeting an actual magical girl? It would be like a dream come true!”

Yes, it probably would be, Violet reflected with a smile. Then again, she mused as she felt a sudden chill prick her spine, if the multiverse held dreams, it only stood to reason that it held nightmares as well…

Never say “Never”

(aka: Yes, Virginia, there is a Multiverse)

In a secluded corner of a certain reality plenum, hidden within the depths of a fold in the dimensional fabric, resides a particularly intriguing pocket universe. Although its creator simply calls it The Lab, it is much more than that. Much, much more… There is the expected profusion of super-scientific paraphernalia, of course, but instead of occupying a small room, or even a vast chamber, it sprawls across an entire continent, a vast, mind-boggling landscape of technorganic apparatuses, a bizarre fusion of mega city and gargantuan living organism. Towering techno spires reach to the very heavens, their ever watchful oracular nodes crowned with menacing quantum quills, from which spew forth crackling arcs of actinic lightning. Power accumulators of the most esoteric types whir and spin, glow, gurgle, and hum, as they fuel the creation of inventions too impossible to describe, their multicolored rhylythian reactor spheres, poly-phasic power cores, and cross-continuua containment pods drawing forth the starkly inconceivable energies of hypercane swarms, quantum singularities, and the birth pangs of several newborn universes. Farther afield, rank upon rank of pulsating cybermantic techno wombs rival the Himalayas, a legion of biomechanical titans waiting to be unleashed on an unsuspecting multiverse as they gestate in bubbling amniotic fluid, while high above, tens of thousands of transdimensional warships rest in a labyrinthian latticework of repair cradles, a swarm of moon-sized, aracnoidal caretaker drones weave technorunic defensive matrices of cosmic string, and ensure that each vessel’s infinite polycyclic neutrino particle cannons and hyper aetheric transposition fields are fully charged, in anticipation of the grand day upon which their creator will make her triumphant return to the omniversal stage.

But that day is still a long way off, and so said creator, the legendary Monarch of Mad Science herself, must regrettably find other things with which to occupy her time. To that end, she has set into motion several lesser plans, from unlocking the secrets of The Artifact, to enacting her grand and glorious revenge upon a certain lilac-haired lover of butterflies. And then there was that servant she had offered to create for what was quite possibly the most annoying person she had ever met, outside of MDP. Some people might wonder why she was even going through with such a project, especially since the overwhelmingly annoying individual in question had left the local multiversal cluster, “never to return”. But those hypothetical people would be forgetting that Doctor Nikki Yolanda Kannis was Queen of the Mad Scientists, and as such, would never refuse a challenge, especially if it was to prove to some idiot the true scope of her super-scientific majesty.

“There, that should about do it,” Nykannis nodded with approval as she put the finishing touches on the artificial life form. A rather fetishistic creature, it resembled an adorably cute cat girl, wearing an elaborate French maid’s outfit. Although the Mad Scientist Supreme would never even think of making such a thing under normal circumstances, her pride dictated that she meet, and indeed exceed her client’s every specification. “Now, what the hell to do with you…” the mad scientist muttered. “I suppose I could just open up a portal and dump it on her head at a particularly inconvenient time,” she mused, a maniacal grin spreading across her face at the thought. However, before she could even open her interdimensional viewer, someone beat her to the punch…

Nikki would turn her head to a sudden disturbance. In her high minded technological world, one that made perfect sense to her, was a sudden spark of entropy. Something that even madness itself couldn’t explain had appeared in her home. A pair of grey hands pushed through reality itself and pulled open a portal to another world. At a glance, Nikki could see a landscape that was like her home, but only in the sense of its immense scope. 

The rocky ranges were the same color as a sunset, as was the night sky. It was filled with stars  that fell to earth in spirals, only to be swept up by a sideways flowing waterfall. Any inhabitants had taken refuge under whatever they could, even as some trees with upside down branches burned in an orange snowstorm. The wall between a warm organic hell had opened up to Nikki’s cold cybertech purgatory. Nikki could see some of the worlds inhabitants looking at her from their burrows, likely as upset as she was furious. 

But her view of this undesirable world would be cut off as two people walked through the portal. The first was a woman in a black garb with billowing pink hair. Following close behind her was a young girl in a purple dress with a pleased smile on her face. They were both carrying boxes filled with…scrap parts? The pink haired girl dropped her box on the floor with little thought, while the girl in purple placed her box on top of it, careful not to be too rough.  

”This should be fine, Aigorost. I’ll give you a ring when we’re ready to leave.” The dark garbed woman waved her hand at the fingers, which slid out of this reality.

The purple-dressed girl looked at the pink haired stranger. ”Should I remember any of this?”

”Nah, none of this would look familiar to you.” The black garbed figure turned to look at the scientist and flung apart her arms. ”Nyan! It’s so good to see you!”

For several seconds, Nykannis was stunned speechless, as she watched the dimensional fabric be rent asunder, and through that tear step the last two people she ever expected to see. Then again, perhaps she should have expected it, for if anyone could break into her private pocket dimension uninvited, it was them. 

“YOU?!” Nykannis roared, not even bothering to address the butchering of her name. “What the hell are YOU doing here?!” Calming sightly at the sight of the containers filled with machine parts (but making no attempt to provide her visitor with the hug they seemed to be hoping for), she allowed a contemptuous sneer to spread across her face. “Did you get bored of Esper World already?” she asked, her voice dripping with contempt.

”Are you kidding? I love it!” Oros reached her hands above her head.

”I believe you knew me as Aria.” The girl in purple bowed, and some butterflies flew around her head. ”Oros tells me that I was originally from this world. I have little snippets from my old memories, but I’m afraid I don’t remember everything. Regardless, I should be able to maintain my part of the deal with you.”

At Aria’s greeting, the mad scientist glared in the young woman’s direction. So, she’d had most of her memory wiped, had she? That was rather disappointing, but viewed another way, it was actually somewhat providential, at least in regard to certain future endeavors… 

”Hey, is this my assistant?” Oros tipped her head side to side as she examined the fetish maid. 

“That’s right,” Nykannis confirmed. “Exactly as requested. In fact, I was just about to send it over to you, before you decided to INVADE MY PRIVATE LAB!!!” 

Oros nodded, totally unbothered by her annoyed tone. ”Yea I couldn’t really tell just by looking at it. Is there some kind of Unnatural Reality Lense I can use to refresh my memory? You know, like a U.R.L. ?”

The mad scientist gave voice to a contemptuous snort. “What, you decided to give yourself a mind wipe, too? Or is your memory just that terrible? Well, whatever,” she added with a dismissive wave of her hand. “Does this ring any bells?”

Pressing a key on a holodisplay that had just now winked into existence, Nykannis activated a localized, panoramic U.R.L. In an instant, the bizarre technomantic landscape around them was replaced by a small balcony, decorated for Christmas, beyond which was a whimsical wintry landscape. Gathered around a snack-covered table were Oros, Nykannis, and a diminutive, tomboyish girl with equally short hair. All three were bedecked in festive attire, and appeared to be deep in conversation, although Nykannis and Oros seemed to be doing most of the talking.

”Hah! I forgot how painfully generic you made it. No wonder I forgot in the months I’ve been in ‘Esper land.’” Oros nodded. ”Alright, so here’s Aria. Say hi. I’m gunna play with the cat maid and decide a name for her.” She lifted up the robot maid’s skirt. ”After I figure out how to turn her on. Isn’t it usually down here?”

Nykannis’s eyes widened as she watched Oros’s attempts to find her new servant’s “On Switch”. “What. The. FUCK?! Look, I know I made that thing out of pure, undiluted fetish fuel, but could you PLEASE save that crap until after you get back home?” Giving a small shudder, she continued, “And if you want to activate it, just ask it to wake up. It’s been programed to recognize your voice pattern, along with your unique metaphysical signature. Y’know, your soul? That way, if some other version of you tries to take control of it, they’ll get nothing more than a middle finger. Oh, and one more thing,” the mad scientist added, raising her own middle finger for emphasis. “Although it’s completely loyal to you, and will obey your every perverted whim without question, it’ll do so because it wants to. It’s not some simple automaton. I made sure to equip it with a full array of Soultech systems: AF, EPU, the works. You’re looking at a fully sentient, sapient, biomechanical entity, so if you’re the kind of sick fuck I know you are, you’ll be pleased to hear that your new plaything has real feelings for you. It actually enjoys making you happy, so, uh, feel free to abuse the hell outta it, I guess…”

”Hah! My date game is a little better than yours, Nyan. It’s not hard to make people want a body like mine!” Oros pat the still powered down cat servant on the head. ”Don’t worry babe, we’ll achieve Muv-Luv regardless of what that big meanie thinks.” 

Since Nykannis had more or less ignored Aria, her eyes drifted to the screen where their conversation was happening. ”Magical scientist? I was one in this world too then?” She grinned. ”The more things change, the more they stay the same. Since we’re in the same multiverse, maybe there is something I could help you with?”

Turning her attention to Aria, the mad scientist smirked. “Yeah, I guess you could say that, although you never came close to equaling my abilities. Still, I was told you were once a member of a certain collective of magical artificers called The Gourd, but I doubt you’d recall any of that, what with the whole ‘memory wipe’ thing. On the OTHER hand,” she added, a maniacal gleam in her eye as she looked over the containers her guests had brought with them. “I see you come bearing gifts!” As she plucked out one of the mechanisms to examine it more closely, a wide grin spread across her face. “Are these parts what I think they are?!” she asked, completely unable to contain her excitement. But she would have to, as Aria smacked her hand with just enough force to get her to drop it back in the box. 

”They are not a gift, sorry. But they are exactly what you think they are. As for my status as a member of the gourd…” Aria’s grin got a bit wider. ”Who can say? I was a revered G.E.M.I.N.I. scientist, so maybe I’ve actually surpassed you this time around?”

Nykannis’s eyes filled with utter fury when Aria slapped her hand away, but her rage quickly subsided to simple contempt at the girl’s next words. So, it’s less of a “memory wipe”, and more of a “memory alteration”, huh? the mad scientist mused. “I highly doubt that,” she replied with a mocking sneer. “I’ve done some commission work for S.O.N., your former home’s actual equivalent of G.E.M.I.N.I., and they’re a complete joke. Unlike those two, The Gourd’s multidimensional in scope, which means they might actually have information worth looking into, but enough of this shit,” she added, focusing her attention on the two containers once more. “If you weren’t planning on giving this stuff to me, then why the hell did you bring it here in the first place?” Glaring at Oros, she continued, “I’m pretty sure I don’t need to tell you how big an asset these parts would be to Phase Two, especially now that the Mint’s mass producing their own version of Miss ‘Tin Titan’, here. Or was that the whole point? Was this simply another one of your dickish stunts, just to piss me off?”  

”For someone who despises Oros so much, you sure try to interact with her as much as possible. These parts are for a possible second deal, one that was entirely my idea. But I won’t even entertain it until we’ve concluded the first one. So keep that in mind.” The former owner of monarch artificing delivered her shrewd ultimatum from a pair of smiling lips. Only a merchant who perfected the art of bartering could possibly be so savage yet sound fair in their delivery. ”Now, you have made a cat maid that seems to meet Oros’s expectations. She has tried to fulfill her part of the bargain by bringing me to you. Well, almost. It seems that another researcher was part of the deal. However, you have written off my abilities based on the fact that G.E.M.I.N.I. has not mastered interdimensional travel yet. Which is fair, if that’s important to you.” She folded her hands in front of herself. ”Have we reached an impasse already, or is it possible that I can convince you of my worth in other ways? And please don’t try to suggest that even a single piece of scrap from these crates is a worthy trade for your maid.”

Nykannis’s eyes narrowed as Aria spoke. “I wouldn’t dream of it,” the mad scientist spat, the acid in her voice almost palpable. “That glorified sex toy wouldn’t come close to equaling even a single molecule of this stuff. But you wanna make a second deal for it, huh?” the mad scientist inquired with a raised eyebrow. “Aren’t we ambitious… Well, whatever… As far as I’m concerned, it’s up to you to prove that you’re as much of a big shot as Oros claims you are. I mean, I’m sure you used to have some halfway decent knowledge and abilities, at least if that little augmentation you gave What’s Her Face was any indication, but now? And you’re right,” she added with a cruel, humorless smile. “I was promised the chance to chat with another supposed ‘gifted scientist’, too, but they’ve either been erased from existence, or had their memories altered so drastically as to make them utterly useless to me. So come on, Miss “Butterfly Queen”, brag to me. Tell me everything that makes you so great…” 

”Just making sure I had your attention.” She chuckled. ”I think there’s a misconception about my abilities. Yes, the people of my world on average are weaker than the ones here. If my surfacing memories are to be believed, this world experiences a horror outbreak every few weeks. There isn’t even enough mana in Pax Septimus to attract a single one.” Aria rolled back her shoulders. ”But I am not merely average. While I follow Oros, it is not because she is stronger than me. We are equals in power, united in vision. You must understand this on some level, given your ability to analyze everything. Anything I could do before I’m sure I could do just as well, if not better now.” Aria placed her hand on top of the crate and her fingers sunk into the scrap. ”Besides, you are a resourceful girl. My memories may not be in a place I can easily access, but they do come to me. I doubt it would take you much time to dig them up if you really wanted them. Given that I was the only member of the gourd working in the Penrose area, I think it’s an avenue worth exploring.” She nodded like she had just been offered a sandwich. ”As for the other researcher, I think-”

”Here you go!” Oros stepped out of a portal and tossed Binky onto the floor. ”Did you even think to look in the Golden Trove? Binky never came with me, so there’s still a version of her in this world.

“I was under the impression that your old pal, the Lord of Cringe had erased, or otherwise relocated everyone you’d ever interacted with,” Nykannis replied dryly. “But I guess he decided to do a bit of a retcon on that, huh? Typical…”

”You know what happens when you assuuuuuuuuuume!” Oros giggled. ”What the grand magistrates decide to do here is totally out of my hands.”

”Oof!” The malnourished magical girl tumbled across the floor. ”Oh no, what’s going on?”

Aria’s eyes shot open and she took cover behind the crates. ”That’s Binky? Are we really safe here?”

”Oh! Hi Aria!” Binky put on a weak smile and waved to her master. ”I um, I own a hotel now! But I’m still working on my coin magic! Can’t stop dreaming, right?”

Aria cleared her throat with a cough, and her composure returned. ”Ah, seems the dimensions are easier on some than others.” She sat on top of the crates and folded one leg over the other. She didn't seem too bothered by the sharp metal bits poking her rear. ”Anyway, that’s about it. I have no reason to evaluate my powers and what I once knew should be attainable in theory. And um.” Aria inhaled deeply when she looked at Binky. ”Binky is the second researcher, who is less formidable than I remember. So! The deal is still on then?”

“You bet your ass it is,” Nykannis told her with a maniacal grin. Especially if you’re giving me permission to poke around in your head a bit,” she added, her eyes gleaming with barely contained delight. “And you,” she continued, pointing a finger at the most recent arrival. “I’m told you’re the one responsible for the new types of Cosmic Omniversial Infusion Numinouspheric Synthesizers that have been popping up around Penrose these past few months. That kinda expertise will really help with the optimization of Phase Two, so I’m gonna need you to tell me everything about your creation process. I mean, I could always just give one of the new operatives I’m making an Oddball: Coin Crafting Spec…

Oros nodded. ”Yup! Someone did something like that! My patron will never forget the atrocities committed that day!”

”But there’s nothing quite like having the original template to use as a starting point. But what is ‘Phase Two’, you ask? Well, it’s nothing less than the mass production of magical agents, made to order, and tailored to the exact specifications of whatever clients my current employer wants to sell them to! Y’know, kinda like what the Mint’s doing with their cheap knockoffs of the Brave Little Toaster, but ten trillion times better! And how do I know about that, you may wonder? Well, S.O.N. recently invited me over to their top secret HQ to give a little presentation on how Phase Two was progressing, and I was so fucking bored that I decided to hack their central database. Turns out they had TONS of sweet info concerning the Mint’s recent operations in Penrose, but I guess that’s not really surprising, since they also apparently snuck a team into Beacon’s Penrose HQ, right under the nose of the Ass-endancy! If they can do that, they can definitely spy on a bunch of bumbling buffoons like the Mint.”

”I don’t think anyone asked, but I just wanted to say I’m glad you’ve taken to calling them the ass-endancy like I used to.” A tear of pride rolled down Oros’s cheek.

“ANYWAYS!” Nykannis declared, turning to fix Aria with an unnervingly intense stare. “Did you want to me to do that memory retrieval while you’re sitting on that crate, or would you like to move someplace a bit more comfortable?”

”Hmmm.” Aria tapped her chin. ”I don’t know how long it’s going to take you. Would it be easier if I was positioned elsewhere? Otherwise, I’m fine right here.”

“Actually, I just thought you’d like to sit in a proper chair,” Nykannis replied with a shrug. “But if you’d rather have all those sharp-edged parts murder your ass, that’s fine by me. And it won’t take long at all,” she added, as an insectoid drone floated overhead. “In fact, it’ll be over in a..”


To the outside observer, nothing seemed to have happened, other than the drone having suddenly blinked out of existence. However, if one were capable of slowing down the flow of time to a millionth of a fraction of its normal rate, such an individual might be able to see that, in the span of time between when Nykannis snapped her fingers, and the sound reached the ears of her guests, the drone had fired a cone of swirling energy at Aria’s head. The Finder Beam tunneled deep inside the girl’s brain, its transphasic tendrils of living cosmic particles probing every dark corner and hidden recess of her mind, employing powers most inconceivable to break through barriers imposed by no less than an eldritch horror. Once access was attained, their work shifted to retrieving the lost knowledge, while reconciling contradictory narratives, thereby separating the true memories from the implanted and altered ones (which, while far less valuable, were still of no small amount of interest).

Although staggeringly invasive, the process was entirely painless. Indeed, Aria would have no idea it was even happening, but that didn’t have to be the case. If Nykannis had wished, the process could have been agony incarnate, Aria helplessly trapped between ticks of the clock, while enduring unimaginable torture for what would seem to her like countless millennia. One might understandably wonder why the Monarch of Mad Science chose to spare the butterfly-themed girl from such a horrific fate, especially in light of her great desire for revenge against said girl, and, were such a hypothetical curious individual to probe Nykannis’s own mind, they would discover that, since meeting Aria in person, the mad scientist’s anger towards the former shopkeeper had shifted… to pity. The Aria before her now was a truly pathetic creature, one who probably didn’t even remember insulting her in the first place. She had willingly let herself become the plaything of an eldritch horror, her mind twisted and warped to suit its mad whims. To be molded like clay, in order to fit into that narcissistic creature’s vision of an idealized world. It was actually rather laughable…

“Nyahahaha!” Nykannis cackled a split second after snapping her finger. There, now wasn’t that easy?! I told you it wouldn’t take long! Nyahahaha! So,” she added with an eager grin. “What’s this second deal you wanna make? I’m guessing, based on the quality of your proposed payment, it’s something completely universe-shattering, the kind of project I can REALLY get invested in… Am I right?”  

While Aria’s treatment might have been over, her “recovery” would take a bit longer. One does not have a lifetime of memories awakened in their head and just shrug it off. ”Oh my, it’s almost like I just inhaled smelling salts.” She slid off the box and stumbled a bit. ”There’s so much to unpack here. And these memories are truly mine? Does that mean my new ones were fake?”

”Depends on your definition of ‘fake’ I guess.” Oros was reclining in one of the doctor’s chairs while her new cat maid massaged her shoulders. ”Time progresses at different rates between worlds, and not at a consistent rate. It might be easier to think of it as being reborn with your old memories being from a past life.”

”Ah, interesting. If a bit confusing.” Aria folded her hands behind her back. ”But where were we?” She raised a finger to her lip. ”Oh yes, the second deal! Though I’m afraid you may have misinterpreted my intention. It’s not a payment, it’s part of the commission.” Aria looked to Oros.

But she was on the verge of passing out. Her eyelids twitched as the maid drew her fingers down Oros’s exposed back. Her kimono was hanging around her waist, but she was wearing a tube top that read “personality” in big bold letters. Not that this RP has had any problem with indecency in the past. But when the room became quiet, Oros looked up. ”My turn?” Oros sat upright, but made no attempt to cover herself up. ”Right, so I thought you could take the parts and build something a bit more interesting with them. Something truly formidable, but also fun to look at. I figure you’re plenty resourceful and just getting to work with high grade alloys will be enough for the great and wondrous Nyan. Though if you’d rather keep the alloy, well, anything can be negotiated for.” Oros grinned before leaning onto her fist, which was propped off of her knee by her arm. ”You’d have to do more than just build me a cute super weapon.”  

Nykannis bristled upon being told that the crates wouldn’t be given to her as payment, but her annoyance shifted to curiosity as Oros went on to clarify the specifics of her request. “Yeah… That’s definitely something you’d come up with, all right,” she noted, while looking over the image of what Oros wanted her to make. Now, one might wonder how Oros was able to conjure up her own U.R.L., not to mention getting The Lab’s all-pervasive nanites to form a comfy chair for herself. One might even be tempted to think that Oros had somehow managed to thoroughly infiltrate the inner workings of Nykannis’s most secure sanctum, but this was most manifestly not the case. Rather, in a small concession for her guests, Nykannis had mentally activated The Lab’s hospitality functions shortly after they’d arrived, and Oros had predictably wasted no time in putting them to use. “And, although I REALLY hate to say it,” Nykannis continued. “You’re actually right. I don’t need to keep this stuff if I’m gonna be working with it anyway. Someone of my super-scientific genius only needs to study something in order to replicate it herself. I figure it’ll take about a week to put this thing together exactly the way you want it. That should give me more than enough time to harvest every last bit of useful data these pieces and parts contain. One question, though- What are you gonna name it?”

”Name? Hah! I only just thought of a name for this maid.” She pointed at the cat maid behind herself. ”But nah, I’ve got an idea for her too. Before we get into that though, it feels like I’m taking a pretty big risk on you hmmm? I bring you a shit load of primo enchanted steel that you can clone forever, and I get a suitably deadly android if you don’t suddenly lose interest in building it for me, or it doesn’t just decide to murder me on a whim. I take all the risk for the smaller reward.” Oros stood up and walked across the lab. ”I think I need something else to put my mind at ease. Something that could let me… get to know you better.” She kneeled beside the scientist. ”What do you say… We go on a date together?”

Aria tipped her head. ”Oros?”

Binky had been making a copy of their notes for the mad doctor, but even she looked up when Oros mentioned their idea. ”Is that really a fair deal?”

”Yea!” Oros laughed. ”And every week after that, you gotta go on another one with me!” With a hum, Oros looked back at the doctor. ”It’s fair, see? You’re a singularity like Aria and I, so I can’t save-scum to go down your route. That would make our outings precious! And because you don’t like me, you’ll make sure it’s done on time. Or maybe your cold heart will crack, and you’ll leave it unfinished so that we can do shit together every week!” Her laughter became more maniacal as she went on. ”If you accept, I’ll tell you what I’m naming her.”

If Nykannis had been capable of being afflicted by physical ailments, she would have had a heart attack and dropped dead on the spot. Even so, for a moment, the mad scientist was stunned speechless, her eyes seeming to bulge out of her head. But the suspense generated by this pause wouldn’t last for long… WHAAAT?!! Nykannis roared, her small body shaking with utter fury. “THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL I WOULD EVER GO ON A DATE WITH THE LIKES OF YOU!!! Pausing for a moment to catch her breath and ever so slightly compose herself, she added, “You want to set up another meeting to chat about something I might actually find interesting, then fine, but I DON’T do romance! And if I understand correctly, this little arrangement only lasts until I finish your little bionic build-a-bear, right? So it’ll just be ONE meeting, ‘MEETING’, NOT ‘DATE’,” she clarified. “And there’re gonna be some non-negotiable stipulations,” she added as she began listing them off on her fingers. “First, absolutely NO TOUCHING. Second, I choose the place. And third, no one here speaks a word of this to ANYONE. I mean it. The LAST thing I need is for people to start thinking I’m in some kind of…” at this point, the good doctor’s face scrunched up as if she had just swallowed the most disgusting thing imaginable. Relationship with you…”

She grinned. ”Oh man, that really hurt.” Oros placed a hand on her chest, which covered up part of the writing and caused it to read “personal.” ”Those are some pretty steep ‘stipulations’ on something that’s supposed to encourage me to go along with this. I really wanted to go grocery shopping with you.  Perhaps I should add some stipulations of my own?”  She tapped the corner of her lips. ”Firstly, I get to pick your outfit out of your wardrobe. Second, I choose the time, both when we arrive and go home. Third, you’re going to make an effort to be nice to me. No snarky remarks, make an effort to convince me you actually wanna attend this ‘meeting.’” Oros extended her hand to shake. ”Needless to say, if you break one of my stipulations, I’ll break one of yours. And just an FYI, but ‘no touching’ is definitely going to come off first should that happen.”

Nykannis couldn’t resist the desire to smirk as Oros provided her own set of conditions. The perverted, pink-haired lunatic probably thought she was being clever with her choices, but none of them particularly perturbed the mad scientist. Most of her outfits were small variations on what she was already wearing, so if Oros was hoping to find something formal, let alone embarrassing, she would be sorely disappointed. The meeting’s length wouldn’t be an issue either, since Nykannis was fully capable of multitasking, which just left the last item… Being “nice” to Oros for an indeterminate amount of time would normally be a tall order, to say the least, but even here, Oros had unwittingly provided her with a loophole, one Nykannis would most assuredly exploit. Oros said she only had to make an effort to be nice, and so she would, at least until Oros made the mistake of doing something particularly dickish, at which point all bets were off.

“I think I can work with that,” the mad scientist replied, taking Oros’s offered hand (but not before sheathing her own hand in a series of invisible protective energy barriers, nearly a million layers thick). “So, let’s talk project details. I suppose you want your pet super weapon to have the same Soultech setup as your maid, but what about her capabilities? Do you want to keep her at around the same power level she had before she played Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots with herself, or do you want me to give her a bit of an upgrade? The only reason I ask is ‘cause I’m aware of the… issues certain parties had with her when she was only at Challenger Grade. I wouldn’t want to cause the complete collapse of the reality plenum your lord and master spent sooo much time developing if I crank her all the way up to APEX Grade,” she added with a maniacal grin. 

”I’m glad you care enough about me to watch the fight.”Oros grinned in return. ” But come on, Nyan. I don’t mind stroking your ego, but you’re truly mad if you think you have any say in how strong something is once it goes to the other world. The elemental chaos ain’t quite the same as the overcity.” She released Nyan’s hand, or more specifically, the several barriers to keep the two separate. ”I wouldn’t mind if you made it as strong as you could, just to see what happens. Though more important than that is her kit. I want a real robot companion, you know? All the high tech gizmos, from lazers to missiles to enhanced vision. If I watch robot anime made in the past forty or so years, I want my robot girl to be able to do it.” She held out her sword, and there was a tiny chip at the end. ”Also I dunno how soultech works, but this one still has a soul. So maybe you can like, edit it or something? Just keep the pieces away from mercury for the time being.”

“Don’t worry,” Nykannis replied, while rolling her eyes in clear annoyance. “Even I’m not arrogant enough to think that I can challenge a Gand Magistrate’s control over their own reality plenum. But you better believe I’ll make her as powerful as possible. Oh, and that much is a given,” Nykannis added with a confident smirk when Oros asked for her new toy to be kitted out with what was probably the broadest possible array of features. “Full mechamorphic capability, teleportation, matter displacement, nearly unlimited technopathy, detachable counter-gravity weapons drones, nanotech matter fabricators, ultra aetheric transposition fields, multiphasic transdimensional hypertech homing lasers, you name it, she’ll have it.” Then Oros held up her sword… “Wait…You mean she’s STILL ALIVE?!!”

He’s still alive, yea.”

By now, the good doctor’s excitement had reached a fever pitch. The splayed fingers of her trembling hands hovered around the seemingly innocuous chip on the tip of Oros’s blade, her countenance one of incredulous awe. “T-This… THIS IS INCREDIBLE!!! Do you have any IDEA how much data her ACTUAL FUCKING SOUL COULD PROVIDE?!!” Not giving Oros a chance to answer, Nykannis continued. “And edit it? You bet your ASS I can edit it! Nyahahaha! Aigorost isn’t the ONLY one who can fuck with memories! I’ll recreate her entire history and personality from the ground up! She’ll be whatever twisted fantasy your perverted, sadistic little mind can think of! Oh, and you don’t need to be concerned about me taking control of her and having her murder you in your sleep,” she added in a lower voice, almost as an afterthought. “I don’t kill the people I REALLY hate. I make them suffer…”

”Well, if you bungle the robot somehow, I’m not too worried about it. That just means we get to go on more ‘meetings’ together while you work on my commission.” Her eyes trailed up and down Nykannis’s small form. ”Yea, your patron knew what the hell they were doing when they created you. As for robo girl’s memories and shit, I actually intended to make her an acquaintance of Aria. You know? And then I was gunna call her ‘Rupee’ after Aria’s familiar. See? I’m actually pretty thoughtful when I want to be.”

”Oh that would be wonderful!” Aria placed her hands together. ”Is that why she has giant wings like a butterfly?”

”Yea, I didn’t do it because I thought the artwork was hot or anything, hahahahahahaha! Hrm...” She folded her arms, which just caused her “personality” to swell. 

Aria swooned. ”I wonder if she could construct something like Rupee from my memories?”

”Of course she can, she’s more busted than I am!” Oros swatted down so that she and the doctor could see eye to eye. ”Seems like the robot stuff is taken care of. We might as well talk about that meeting.” Oros’s eyes half closed, acquiring an almost seductive quality. ”Where did you have in mind? There are some pretty nice places in area one ex one, or are you more the type to take things straight to the Personal Domains?”

Nykannis continued to roll her eyes as Oros bantered with Aria, but when the pink-haired psychopath asked about the location of their upcoming meeting, the mad scientist couldn’t help but smirk. “Yeah, you’d like that, wouldn’t you?” she sneered. “But I was thinking of somewhere a bit more respectable than some interdimensional porno set. In particular, the Garden de Lux, in Silverburg. Nice atmosphere, great food, and, if you’re lucky, maybe even a floor show. But not THAT KIND, you sick fuck,” she was quick to add.

Oros put up her nose. ”My disappointment is immeasurable, and my day is ruined.”

 “It’s a respectable establishment, so keep that in mind. As for you, she continued, turning to Aria. “Remember when I said your partner’s new toy would have full mechamorphic capabilities? Well, that means she can turn into whatever your sad little heart desires. So,” she inquired after giving the butterfly-themed girl a moment to let that information sink in. “You still think I’m a ‘second rate scientist’?”

”I’d have to see it with my own eyes first. But if you could, why, I might even have to go on a date with you.” Aria winked, and a tiny star shot out of her eye. ”I’d love to spend the evening with a first rate scientist!” 

”If she doesn’t wanna date me, she’s not gunna date you!” Oros rubbed her chin.”Kind of a pain in the ass that it’s here, but as long as I don’t need to fill out one of those Champion Submission forms, I guess I’m more or less okay with it. So we're done here? I just need to pick out your outfit and maybe let you converse with the other scientific minds?”

“Oh, you’ll see it, all right,” Nykannis told Aria with an ever-so-slightly malicious grin. “But like I said before, I don’t do dates, although if you wanna tag along for my little meeting with your perverted pal, I wouldn’t mind. In fact, having you there might take the edge off. Anyway,” she added, addressing Oros once more. “Yeah, it looks like we’re mostly done, as far as this deal’s concerned, so knock yourself out choosing what lab coat I’ll be wearing. And don’t get your tits in a twist about having to spend time in your least favorite reality plenum. You know as well as I do that the Grand Magistrate only cares about shit if it happens in his precious little Penrose. Silverburg’s pretty much as drama-free as you can possibly get.”  

”Sounds about right.” Oros extended her hand, and a portal opened up over it. Then a large pair of fingers placed a large box in her palm. It was heart shaped, and wrapped with a bow. ”What doesn’t sound right is someone thinking they can enter some fine dining establishment in a fuckin’ lab coat.” She extended the box towards Nykannis. ”I think this would be much better.”

Nykannis flinched away from the box as if it were something that had been pulled out of a toilet. First, she said with a scowl. “They make a special accommodation for me, since I’ve done them a few favors in the past. It’s also why I get to eat there for free whenever I want. Second, she added, narrowing her eyes. “I thought we agreed you pick an outfit from my wardrobe, not some fetish fuel created by your twisted patron.”

”It’s yours now.” She set the box down on the floor and stepped away from it. ”Thus, it is now part of your wardrobe.” After grinning for a few seconds, Oros grabbed at her ponytail with both hands and tugged it in either direction, at which point she scowled. ”Will you at least look at it!?!?”

“It’s not mine unless I accept it,” Nykannis grinned back. “But if you want me to see it so badly, why don’t you open it yourself and take it out?”

”Didn’t realize what a fuckin’ wuss you were. fine! Oros sheathed her sword and walked up to the box. ”I just want you to know I wrapped this myself. I think I did a pretty good job.” She lifted the box off of the ground and tugged the ribbon off. She then flicked the lid of the box off, placed her hand inside, and pulled out a green dress It had a long, flowing skirt and came with a few accessories. 

Aria observed the dress from the side. ”It’s not too different from the one I’m wearing. Well, minus the color and the butterfly accessories.” She looked at Binky. ”I even think you would look good in something like that.”

Binky looked over the dress. ”It’s not really what I was expecting from Oros.” She looked between Oros and the dress. ”But I wouldn't mind wearing something like that.” the green haired girl looked at her own garbs, which were more reminiscent of something a cultist might wear.

“Gotta say, that’s a LOT less embarrassing than what I expected,” Nykannis conceded. Fine, she added with a sigh. “I’ll wear it…”

”What do you think I am, some kind of animal?” When Oros went to fold the dress back up some baby doll underwear slipped out of the bottom and fell onto the floor. ”Whoa! How did that get there?” Oros lifted a hand to her mouth in what seemed, to the untrained eye at least, to be genuine surprise. ”Wow, uh, interesting. I don’t remember that in my amazon order. I guess you can keep it anyway.”

Binky raised her hand. ”And if you don’t want it, I could-”

Oros smacked Binky’s hand. ”So uh, I guess we’re more or less done for the moment?”

“I suppose…” Nykannis replied, while looking over Binky’s notes, and not even deigning to respond to Oros’s “accidental” clothing reveal. “This is actually some pretty impressive stuff,” she told the green-haired coin researcher. “Especially for an amateur like yourself. You’ve got some real talent,” she added with a nod. “It’s a shame you had to waste it by working with these clowns.”

”I mean.” Binky’s eyes shifted side to side. ”Aria taught me everything I know, so I wouldn’t call her a clown. And from my understanding, Oros was a clown for a time, wasn’t she? Was that not intended as an insult?”

”Probably not. Nyan likes me, after all.” Oros stretched. ”Anyway, I think now is a good time to fade to black with everyone discussing your truly mad plan. Unfortunate that we didn’t get to twenty pages like your patron wanted, but that’s how it goes sometimes.”

“I’ll take your word for it,” Nykannis muttered. “But, just out of curiosity, exactly which of my mad plans are we talking about?”

“Well, that was kinda unexpected, huh?” an amused voice noted with a chuckle once Oros and friends had finally departed.

“You can say that again,” Nykannis agreed as she turned to face the girl who had just stepped out of the shadows of some gargantuan machinery. She was a short-haired girl, of diminutive stature and tomboyish appearance. The same girl, in fact, that had sat with Nykannis and Oros in the recording.

“Pretty cool though, right? I mean, you got to have that chat you wanted, and you get to have a follow-up meeting, too!”

“Yeah, but I have to share that meeting with my least favorite person in the multiversal cluster,” Nykannis grumbled. “At least outside of You-Know-Who… Still,” she added as she began a detailed inspection of the parts Oros had brought. “I suppose it’s a small price to pay to be able to work with all this!

“Sooo… I guess you’re gonna cancel that whole ‘revenge plot’ now, huh? I mean, she did kinda apologize for insulting you and all.”

“Are you shitting me?!” Nykannis sneered, her countenance one of utter incredulity. “Of COURSE I’m not canceling it! I said I’d show them ALL, remember?! Besides,” she added, activating a holodisplay depicting a young woman in futuristic attire. “The wheels are already in motion! It’s TOO LATE to turn back now! The Vessel has already been bestowed upon the chosen recipient,” the Monarch of Mad Science explained, a crazed gleam in her eye. “And I, for one, am very interested to see how she progresses…”
Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Ponn
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As much as I hate to double post...

At their new home in the suburbs, Connie and Mia were hanging out in their room. It was set up almost exactly like their old room at the orphanage, complete with a large tree outside their second floor window. Cute stuffed animals could be found on nearly every surface, and the walls were covered with a collection of cheerful landscape paintings, the only exception being the space right above the head of the large bed the two friends shared. This was occupied by a sketch of a pink-haired young woman wielding a dark blade against several robed figures, a gift from a friend who had since moved away. While Connie was hard at work painting yet another picture, Mia was simply channel surfing.

“Huh, would ya look at that…” Mia remarked as she switched to a local news station. “Violet’s dad just bought the orphanage.”

“W-Wow, really?” Connie asked, turning around to face the tv.

“Yeah, it’s supposedly part of CI’s big urban renewal program, y’know, ‘improve the city’s quality of life’ and all that.”

“I-I guess Violet really is making a d-difference in how her f-father does things,” Connie observed with a smile.

“Sure looks that way,” Mia replied. “But I’m still a little concerned about what’ll happen when her dad decides to take back control of the company. I just hope she’s strong enough to stand up to him…”

And that’s without even thinking about her debt to the Mint…
the tomboy kept to herself, reflecting on the worrying information Violet had relayed through Amanda a few days earlier.

A moment later, Mia’s phone bleeped with a notification. Picking it up, her eyes widened at the information that greeted her. “Connie, you need to see this.”

“W-What is it?” Connie asked, moving over to sit next to her friend. “O-Oh my gosh!” she gasped as she saw the various Glimmr posts about recent monster sightings.

The two friends had just finished reading, when Rose knocked on their door.

“Did you hear?” The girl spoke through the door. “Monster swarms are popping up all over the city. Kayli wants me to guard the house until she and Iris get back from the Overcity, so, um, do you two think you’ll be okay going out by yourselves?”

Mia looked a little uncertain, but before she could say anything, Connie spoke up.

“W-We’ll b-be all right!” Connie declared with a far greater confidence than she felt. “W-We’ve got l-lots of o-other friends who c-can help, a-and there are p-people in d-danger, s-so w-we c-can’t just s-stand by and d-do nothing!”

Mia gave a weary sigh before her mouth curled into tired smile. “Okay, little sis,” the tomboy conceded, rising to her feet and balling one hand into a fist. “Let’s go get ‘em!”

It was the end of yet another long day for Violet Covington, and as the news report covering her father’s announcement of CI’s recent acquisition of Penrose Orphanage played in the background, the young heiress looked over the last few items on her agenda. There was her father’s upcoming virtual meeting with the mayor to prepare for, as well as the the final negotiations to finalize CI’s partnership with Mishima Motors, and, of course, details on the recent buyout of Polybius Software to familiarize herself with. None of these items should take too long, Violet reflected, especially not for someone possessing a photographic memory, like herself. And there were other matters as well, in particular, her father’s illness, and the ones responsible for it…

Upon being told of her father’s condition, Penny had requested a sample of the medicine the Mint had provided, which she could pass on to Beacon for analysis. Violet had been more than happy to provide one, and Penny had recently informed her of the Beacon researchers’ results. As it turned out, they had been able to confirm that her father’s illness was indeed the result of an unknown curse, and that the medication did, in fact, help mitigate its effects. Unfortunately, it also seemed to be the only way to do so, which, Violet had to admit, wasn’t particularly surprising, considering that both curse and cure almost certainly came from the same source. Penny had also noted that this was only what could be gleaned from simply studying the medicine alone. But while a direct examination of her father would potentially yield more enlightening results, the robotic girl fully understood how difficult, if not outright impossible, something like that would be to arrange.

Violet’s musings were dissolved a moment latter, when the news broadcast cut to a breaking story. Apparently, several gangs were running rampant through various locations around the city. And they appeared to be wearing… animal costumes…? It didn’t take long for the young heiress to realize what was really going on- a mass monster outbreak had struck the city, and just as it was finally beginning to get back on its feet. No, this could not be allowed, was simply unacceptable, and although she had not planned on beginning her nightly activities for a few more hours yet, those plans would obviously have to be changed…

“Melisa,” she called to her secretary. “Multiple monster attacks are occurring throughout the city, including, if local news sources are to be believed, here in the business district. I’ll need to leave the office a little earlier than expected to deal with them.”

“Oh gosh! Can I come with you?” Melisa asked expectantly.

At the sound of her secretary’s request, Violet gave voice to a tired sigh. “As much as I would love that, Melisa, I think it might be best if you stayed here. Even with all of Covington Tower’s various security systems, I know from experience that it is laughably easy for mystical beings to gain entry to even its most secure areas,” the heiress explained. “With that in mind, I would very much appreciate it if you could keep watch over the building, and, in particular, my father’s chambers, and ensure that none of the monsters find their way inside.”

“Of course, Violet!” Melisa chirped. “You can count on me!”

“Thank you, Melisa” Violet replied warmly.

Moving to the center of her study, the young heiress closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

“Hearts, Candy, Sparkles, and Balloons~!” She intoned, her voice shifting with each syllable into a far more high pitched and cutesy tone. “Sunshine, Glitter, Unicorns, and Rainbows~!”

“Taaa daaa~! Magical Girl Super Cute Pretty Pretty Magical Dream Princess is here~! (giggle!)

Okie doki~! (giggle!)”
she declared, striking a cute pose. “It’s timey wimey for Magical Dream Princess to stopy wopy those meanie weaine monsters from trashy washying her beautiful wutiful city wity~! Weeee~!” she cheered as she opened a sparkling portal, allowing her to pass harmlessly though the reinforced window on the far side of her study and onto the back of the rainicorn pegasus she had just conjured. “Like, don’t worry, everybodywody~!” the whimsical girl called cheerfully. “Magical Dream Princess is, like, totally wotally on her way~! (giggle!)”

This has to be what hell is like… Angela thought to herself as her father fiddled with the radio and filled the beat up old 1996 Buick Roadmaster station wagon with the cacophonic squeal of static.

“Golly, those ice storms sure do raise Cain with signal reception, huh?” he said with a chuckle as he continued adjusting the knob.

“Actually, I think it might have more to do with the fact that said storm snapped our antenna like a twig,” Angela observed from where she sat in the back seat.

Instead of flying to Penrose like a normal family, Angela’s father had decided that this was a perfect opportunity for that “greatest of family bonding activities”, the cross-country road trip. And so, the four members of the Sakatori family had squeezed into their decades-old station wagon, hitched a U-Haul tailer to the back, and begun what Angela was confident in calling the absolute worst experience of her life. As the ramshackle wagon had puttered and sputtered its way across the wide open expanse of interstate, each new day had brought with it a new trauma, enough to haunt her nightmares for months to come. It had taken almost a week, but at long last they were finally entering the outskirts of Penrose, just as the sun had begun to set on another long day on the road.

As the car’s tattered speakers emitted a sound that could perhaps best be described as a cat being fed through a blender, Angela squeezed her eyes shut, while tightly pressing her fingers against her ears.

Soon.. Soon, she told herself, that single word having become a mantra which granted her at least a tenuous grasp on sanity. Soon this will aaaall be over…

If there was any positive aspect to her father’s radio resuscitation efforts, it was that it (almost) drowned out her younger brother as he worked to complete the latest “road trip challenge” her father had come up with- counting every second that passed since their last restroom break…

“Seven thousand, two hundred and fifty-three, seven thousand, two hundred and fifty-four…” he droned on in a mind numbing monotone as he gazed impassively into the middle distance.

“Uh, Arnold?” Angela asked, opening one eye half way to cast a concerned glance in her brother’s direction. “I think you can stop now.”

“Seven thousand, two hundred and fifty-eight…”

“Oh, let him have his fun!” Her father instructed amiably. “It’s not every day he gets to go on a good old fashioned family road trip!”

“Seven thousand, two hundred and sixty-two…”

“Thank God for that…” Angela muttered.

“Aww… Cheer up, my little Brussels sprout!” her father encouraged. “We’re almost at the finish line! Check it out kids!” he added with a grin as the towers of Penrose’s revitalized skyline rose into view. “There it is! Our new home! And thanks to your dear old dad’s crackerjack new job, it’s gonna be a really swell one! You’re gonna totally love it! Plus, all your new friends are gonna be really impressed when they come over to visit! Yes, we sure did strike the jackpot this time! Now if I can just get this darn radio working, we can have ourselves some victory music! Hmmm…” he frowned as he leaned in to take a closer look at the radio’s cracked display. “Maybe if I just…”

“Seven thousand, two hundred and seventy-six…”

“Arthur, dear, eyes on the road,” her mother chided.

“Yeah, Dad,” Angela added. “If it’s all the same to you, I’d rather not add ‘getting killed in a car wreck’ to my list of ‘fun family road trip experiences’…”

“Oh, don’t worry sweetie,” her father replied with a lighthearted chuckle. “Dad’s got everything under controWoah!” He exclaimed as something darted across the road, their car swerving around it and almost toppling over in the process.

“Seven thousand, two hundred and eighty-four…”

“Oh my stars!” her mother exclaimed. “H-Honey, w-what was that?!”

“Just a deer, sweet cakes, nothing to worry about,” her father said reassuringly. “Probably just got separated from the herd…”

That sure as fuck wasn’t a deer… Angela thought, her heart still racing from the recent burst of excitement. Looked more like a…

“Heeey! Look who got the radio back!” her father declared triumphantly.

However, it wasn’t “victory music” that sounded forth, but rather a news broadcast…

“…still a developing story, but several reports are coming in of gang violence in several locations around the greater Penrose metropolitan area. According to eyewitnesses, they appear dressed in animal costumes of some sort. We’ll bring you further details as we…”

“Doggone furries, always getting out of hand…” her father grumbled, shaking his head. “Kids these days… Why can’t they do something normal, like collecting bottle caps? I remember when they used to have little sayings on the inside,” he added wistfully. “That was pretty cool…”

“Seven thousand, three hundred and six…”

“Dad,” Angela spoke up. “I need to go to the restroom.”

“Now?” her father inquired, sounding somewhat surprised. “But we’re almost there! Besides,” he added, glancing back at Arnold. “That’d make poor little Arnold have to start over from scratch!”

“Seven thousand, three hundred and eleven…”

“I really have to go,” Angela insisted.

“Oooohh…” her father said in sudden understanding. “Did your ‘special friend’ pay you a visit, again?”

“DAD!” Angela roared, her cheeks flushing red.

“All right, all right, say no more!” her father chuckled. “We’re in luck! There’s a gas station up ahead. We can pull in there. And hey! Maybe I can have an armwrestling contest with a big burly trucker while we wait for you to finish answering nature’s call!” he added, a gleam of excitement in his eye. “Doesn’t that sound like fun?!”

“Seven thousand, three hundred and twenty-seven…”

Angela simply sighed in exasperation.

Almost as much fun as fighting a pack of rabid wendigos… she thought to herself. Still, anything was better than this…

“Seven thousand, three hundred and thirty…”

This Space For Rent


“Oh, what’s this? ‘For rent’? Oh how very exciting! And what a very nice place, too! A bit spartan, but never let it be said that minimalism is not without its benefits! I’m quite partial to the soothing grey tones as well! Oh yes, this would be a most pleasant space in which to reside!

Alas, I have no time to tarry! I’m regrettably quite lost, I’m afraid, and every moment I delay is a moment that could be spent in transit to my long-desired destination!

But fear not! The omniverse is vast! Perhaps we shall cross paths again someday!

Well then, tally ho!”

Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Ariamis
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Ariamis MonMon

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Lily’s usually professional driving was momentarily disrupted by Alex’s concerns, causing her to wobble a bit before she corrected it.
”Well, yeah…The Beacon hasn’t made much noise, and neither has Mint or anybody else, really. I’m guessing the whole Mirror thing back in Dan’s place caused it…But it does seem a bit too easy." She passed by a couple of cars standing in diagonal spots at a red light, slipping by them using a sequence of 90-degree turns like a Tron lightcycle.
”I’ll ask Alicia about it. Maybe she knows some behind-the-scenes stuff. Anyway, there they are!"

Lily spotted the pack of wendigos out in the distance, though it seemed like a cluster of blurs at first; the bestial fiends glowed with blue light as they sprinted at speeds comparable to motor vehicles rather than normal animals, and seemed to be chasing a car.
”They’re after someone! I’ll drive us closer, so try to make a wall or something to block them!" With that said, Lily took a deep breath, and visibly glowed as electric energy circulated from her to the motorcycle, accelerating it to wind-howling speed. At the rate they were going, the street was soon going to split into left and right at an intersection.

Rachel gave a simple nod as both Penny and Alicia agreed to fight the monsters. “If I must,” she answered sardonically. “Elora, contact Aurelio. Violette, prepare a team; we’re going to the bank area.” The cybermancer gave a small nod while in the midst of typing, and brought up the Beacon contact list to call Aurelio. “Aurelio, we have monsters sighted in Penrose central and surrounding sectors. Requesting for assistance.”
Violette saluted and left the room, while Rachel stayed to look at the map. “This number…is abnormal,” she mumbled.

Penny appeared at a rooftop looking over Business Street, usually a bustling area where shops and offices were situated. Not far from her location, she saw the Covington Tower, standing as a central landmark to the district.
“Eight wendigos coming in,” she heard Elora speak to her through her comms once she established the link. And soon enough, she saw the pack of monsters rounding the corner, seemingly hunting for any humans they could find. However, three of them separated from the pack and busted into a convenience store, ripping and tearing into the food products there even as the remaining five continued moving along.

That was when MDP also arrived at the scene, having spotted the separation of the packs. The five-strong pack, having moved closer to MDP’s direction, now surrounded a car with a couple inside, scratching at the windows and tackling the vehicle, about to push it over. The both of them then heard a scream coming from the store: “Help! Police!”

Alicia arrived at the hospital, and saw that at least 10 wendigos were in the area; seven of them were attacking the ambulances parked to the side of the building, clawing and tackling the vehicles in a frenzy. She heard someone screaming from inside the vehicle. The remaining three wendigos were at the entrance doors, trying to force their way through the barricaded door. On the other side, a group of civilians were holding the barricade down like in a zombie movie. “These are some goddamn mutated deers, not hoodlums!” She heard them screaming amidst shrieks of terror.

“Alwright, finally some fresh meat!” Belladonna howled, and took point as the vanguard of Sanctuary headed to the site in the industrial sector. However, the scene they arrived at differed from what they expected; the disturbingly numerous pack of wendigos had been taken down, some even in pieces as they laid amidst the corpses of the Beacon patrol, having taken their civilian guises upon death. A quick glance counted at least thirty of the monsters. However, one Beacon girl still miraculously survived, lying on her stomach. Belladonna’s eyebrows were raised, however, when she realized it wasn’t a wendigo stomping on her…but a dark magical girl.

She was accompanied by two monster girls; one wore an eyepatch, while the other has gold-embroidered wings on her head and back.

The Beacon girl squirmed, blood trickling from her brow, as she seemed to try and free herself despite her wounded state, while the corrupted girls simply laughed at her misery.

“Serves you right, lamphead.”

“Doesn’t feel nice being curb stomped, right?” The gold-winged monster girl taunted, while the eyepatched girl simply looked on, until she glanced to look at the Sanctuary girls.

“Oh, hello there. Would you like to join us?” She asked calmly, to which the DMG simply scoffed as she summoned her bladed weapon. “Nah, I think we’re done here. I’ll just quickly kill her so we can continue looking for the Sanctuary.”

Oliver and Finn arrived at the train station, where they saw Roxanna and four of her duplicates fighting four wendigos stalking the area. The monsters were tall and thin with spindly limbs, resembling trees from a distance, though as one came closer the animalistic abominations soon showed their true colors of undead-like fiends, with patches of fur clinging to them and atrophied muscles. Their emaciated, frozen bodies were topped by the antlered skull of a deer. They possessed red eyes that peer from shadowed eye sockets, and wide jaws filled with sharp canine teeth, giving them an eerie juxtaposition with the herbivore skulls. The monsters glowed red as their hunting instincts have been woken, no longer content with eating frozen chickens and other meat products as warm-blooded creatures caught their scent.

Despite their large size and malnourished appearance, they were swift, able to keep up with Roxanna’s adequate speed. Fortunately, they didn’t seem to possess the same swiftness that the blue wendigos at Central Street did. While three of them circled Roxanna, cautious of her ability to inflict lasting damage with fire, the fourth one scrambled after it was knocked down, ripping out what looked like a wooden stake from its body. It’s wound was still smoking from the burning that Roxanna caused when it roared in bestial fury, only to be silenced by Roxanna as she delivered a kick that shattered the monster’s skull, causing it to tumble down. She couldn’t tell if the monster’s heart had burned yet or not, however.

Meanwhile, two of the wendigos pounced at the clones, causing them to disappear in puffs of purple smoke as the wendigos bit and clawed at them, while the third wendigo attacked Roxanna. Roxanna managed to hold her own against the beast, dodging the downward slam of its claws and returned a karate chop that rattle the beast, but immediately realized she was in trouble; the wendigo snapped its jaws on her thigh, but failed to puncture her thanks to her Enhanced Outfit providing a solid defense. However, as a result, the dress wouldn’t tear, and she was held in place as the other two wendigos turned their attention on her, savage growls emanating from their hollow throats.

Connie and Mia rushed to Penrose Bank, where they spotted six wendigos terrorizing the local civilians; two of them were at the doors to the bank, attempting to tackle through even as a bunch of people were pressing against it. They could hear someone scream as a woman fell back from the door, signaling that they wouldn’t be able to hold down the fort any longer. The other four wendigos were about to head to a butcher shop when they noticed the two magical girls; one of them howled like a demonic wolf, followed by the four monsters rushing to attack.

As Coco was reading, she gradually began to feel a subtle, uncomfortable feeling, as if someone was watching her. Then, she turned and saw it; in dark corner, a black blotch emerged. The shape of it resembled a tall, broad-shouldered human wearing a brimmed hat. Next to it was the shorter shape of a young woman.

“Greetings, miss Coco. I have been expecting your arrival.”

She saw the corporeal mass of shadows step out of the dark corner, as if freeing himself from a tangled web made out of the abyss itself. As it did, it took a more defined shape. A woman with cold eyes stepped out of the darkness behind him; she lifted a hand, and the swirling darkness behind them closed, giving Coco the impression that the woman was the one who opened the portal in the first place.

The man smiled eerily.
“Welcome to Penrose. My name is Al Scarpe, the local representative of the Ebon Mint.”
A cigar extended from the depths of his sleeve, as if pulled along by an invisible thread, and he lit it with a golden lighter studded with tiny jewels. He paused his speech as he smoked the cigar.
“Now, what have we here…” he muttered afterwards, and slowly walked closer towards Coco.

Justine, after she had made her preparations and dressed, stepped downstairs to have breakfast with Maura.
”Mistress…I saw that there were monsters attacks on Glimmr. I’ll…get rid of them,” she hesitantly spoke after she was finished eating. ”If that is fine with you.” However, Maura could tell that wasn’t the whole story, as if Justine was hiding something.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Card Captor
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Card Captor The passing through Kamen Rider

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"Got it" Alexander responded as Lily picked up speed. Once they got close enough to the monsters, Alexander jumped off at them while throwing up a barrier to stop them. The creatures crashed against the wall and fell down, while Alexander was able to kill one with a plunging sword stab. 'Holy shit, that actually worked perfectly!' But he didn't have time to be too amazed at himself, as the beasts were already starting to get to their feet, hatred in their eyes 'Well at least they're after me now' He made a few clones to fight by his side, as tails started to grow out of all of them, ready to smack something. 'I wonder how many more I can kill before Lily get's here.' But he didn't have much time to guess, as they were starting to charge at him and his new goons.
Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Bright_Ops
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Bright_Ops The Insane Scholar

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For her part, once Coco had spotted the two intruders in her apartment, she calmly sighed before using an old but unused teabag as a bookmark to show her what page she was on for later and carefully put the bowl of noodles down so that she could get up without disturbing them... before she glowed and within seconds went from being dressed down and relaxed to her 'magical girl' alter ego. Without a word, her gun materialized in her hands and two rounds were fired; One for that terribly unfashionable lighter and one for the cigar that the rude dick had lit up in her apartment. The gun remained trained on Al Scarpe's head.

Rupert for his part had awoken at the arrival of 'guests' and had easily shifted into their massive combat form, the cute puppy have turned into a massive dog with a deep rumble of a growl akin to that of a bear.

"Consider this your only warning that you're not welcome here. I work for Greed, not you or the Mint. If you want to hire me for a job, you arrange that with Greed. Trespass in my apartment again and you die. Do I make myself clear? Now kindly fuck off."

Knives appeared between the fingers of the woman’s enclosed fist when Coco made her shots, seemingly about to return the hostility in kind, when Al lifted his empty hand up in a casual manner.
“Hah haa! So the kitten does have claws! And I was beginning to wonder why Santa Beacon put you on the naughty list. Isn’t that right, Sonia?”

Sonia scoffed, and the knives disappeared as she leaned against the wall with her arms crossed.

Coco noticed how Al’s shadow had its hand reach out to the lighter and grab it without Al giving the gesture even a glance, and after it was dropped back to his hand he placed it back in his pocket. He then stepped to the cigar, and lightly stomped on it, putting out the smoke.

“As irritated as you might be, I make it a habit to meet face to face with potential…business associates, if you catch my meaning. Simply calling up O’l Miser would be easier, but where’s the fun in that?” He summoned a glass filled with an unknown black liquid from the depths of his sleeve, and took a sip. “I also like to give my little gigs directly if possible, just so there’s no complications or misunderstandings. You understand, don’t you?” He asked, and flashed a cocky grin.

The expression on Coco’s face suggested that she might have recently sucked a lemon and thus wasn’t in a good mood, regardless of the people who were in her home… and ruined her carpet. Yes, the place would be free of cigar smoke and the patch on the floor when she returned but she would be stuck with it until she left. While she didn’t speak, the voice in her head did it for her… even if she would be the only one present who would hear it.

Oh Al… I would hate to have to explain to your successor just why your career was suddenly terminated. Coco, while I see you are upset by this breach of decorum and I am willing to file a complaint with the Mint on their human resource violation on your behalf, Mr Scarpe and his magical resource personnel have so far not warranted a sudden termination of employment. If you would kindly hear out what he has to say for the benefit of future endeavors towards synergy that would be ideal.

A small huff escaped Coco as she put her gun away before reaching out to softly rub Rupert’s head, letting her familiar know it was okay to relax just a little before she muttered “For my sake, don’t do this again. The worst that will happen to you is that you’ll be dead after all. Now what exactly is so important that you felt the need to intrude upon my space and time?

“Seeing you make a frowny face,” Al answered with a chuckle, before he put a fist to his mouth as he coughed a couple of times. “I’m pulling ya leg.” He pulled out a folder from the inside of his jacket, and let it float out to Coco, allowing her to take it. The inside of it included files and pictures of locations and people she had never seen before.

“I’ve got a couple of jobs for someone with your talents. Of course, any job you take will be agreed on by contract, as per your sugar daddy’s preferences,” he said with a grin. “First one is a simple job. There’s a certain organization called the Crimson Cradle hanging around town, and I’d like to learn more about these folks. Problem is, they’re a sneaky bunch, and very picky with who they let in their secret club. But since you’re a new arrival in town, maybe they’ll give you a chance. Try to join in, and report your findings back when the opportunity comes. Depending on the dirt you scoop up, there’s going to be some hefty coins to collect.”

He paused for a moment, before continuing. “Second job’s a bit more difficult, but accordingly comes with a better payout,” he said while rubbing his thumb and index finger together.

“You see those broads?” He gestured to a certain picture that had two girls in it; the girl on the left seemed to be a robot or at least a cyborg based on her metallic features, while the girl on the right was a more traditional-looking magical girl, complete with pastel colors and childish accessories. “Local corrupted answer to a certain big cheese called Penny. She’s made herself a little utopia underground, and as a result, the Mint’s business has taken a dip. She’s a thorn in my side, but rubbing her out’s not a viable option. Chick’s armed to the teeth, and likely to be replaced anyway. But little birds have told me she’s got a sweetheart. I want you to look into this…Magical Dream Princess,” he looked visibly repulsed by speaking her name out, “and if you see the opportunity…take care of her. I don’t care how, but the sooner she’s out of the picture, the better. If that doesn’t work out, make their honeymoon full of stinging bees.”
He took a sip of his drink. “Any questions?”

Opening her mouth to clearly say something insulting and hurtful, Coco stopped herself before she antagonized the waste of flesh in a jacket beyond what was a healthy business relationship. The show of restraint and tact got her a pleased noise from her benefactor, making it somewhat easier to offer a smile as she explained “What information can you tell me about the Crimson Cradle, Penny and… and…” A sigh escaped her as she closed her eyes. “Magical Dream Princess. I’m going to kill her, if for no other reason than for making me say those words aloud, but I still expect payment for it.

“Of course. We wouldn’t expect you to do anything without compensation,” Al replied. “The Crimson Cradle was founded by a foolish broker who thought they could betray the Mint and strike out on their own.” He cracked his knuckles. “Naturally, due to certain circumstances…she disappeared. However, her secret club was taken over by a new founder. We don’t know too much about her except that she’s a witch of some sort, and that her agents had taken in the ex-Sinner of Lust.” He threw a picture to Coco; it depicted a girl with a similar fashion style to herself, except she favored more red than black. “Apparently she got screwed over and got herself purified, not that it matters.” Coco noticed how Sonia’s expression tightened upon hearing Al, but then returned back to her neutral expression, glancing over at Coco.

“Can you hurry this up?” She bluntly remarked, and Al chuckled.

“Alright alright. Next up’s Penny. In addition to being the Queen of her precious Sanctuary, she’s also a cop. You see, for some damn reason, the Beacon decided to let this freak join them like the hypocrites they are. Fortunately it seems it’s not all roses for that galvanized gal based on the reports I’ve gotten. As for her abilities, what can’t she do? Three Specializations, hover boots, gauss cannon, the works. If you’re picking a fight with the Robocop, you’re in for a scrap.”
He took a sip. “Lastly, the Pinkie Pie. She apparently can use some kind of reality-warping magic to summon cutesy stuff, turn stuff into cutesy stuff, and so on. Fortunately she doesn’t seem to fully control it, and overall seems to lack in the smarts department.”

He took one last sip, and noticed how his glass was empty. “That’s all. You think you can handle it?”

Some people might have taken Coco’s silence as she looked over the documentation as a moment of quiet contemplation about the information gathered and debating committing to it. The reality was that she was currently having a private discussion with her benefactor.

Look, I’m happy to take this Crimson job. Information has value after all. I’m not so sure about this assassination. I mean stupid name aside, killing the bitch sounds like a very easy way to end up with both the local Beacon and this ‘Sanctuary’ braying for my blood.

A fair assessment… but one that only factors in if one executes the operation poorly. Besides, Mr Scarpe’s primary objective isn’t the termination of MDP. His primary objective is the instability and pain of ‘Penny’. To use a saying you humans are fond of using, there is more than one way to skin a feline.

With the mental discussion sorted for now, Coco turned her attention to Al as she got to the point. “I’m happy to get some information on this Crimson Cradle group… even if it does kind of sound like some sort of cult. As for this second job. It sounds like the death of… MDP isn’t your actual goal as much as it is to exact retribution on the Sanctuary and its leader Penny for disrupting your goals. I’ll see what I can do but… this isn’t going to have quick results. From the sounds of it the assassination of MDP, if handled poorly, would simply turn her into a martyr that would bring Beacon and Sanctuary together, possibly against Ebon Mint and our shared interests.

There was a small pause… before Coco finished “At any rate, I’ll look into it. Is that all you wish to offer me or did you have a third job tucked away somewhere?

"As I've said, it doesn't matter as long as the Queen of Steel gets to rust from her tears. However, I want it done discreetly. Surely that won't be a problem to someone as talented as you, of course." Al then put a hand to his chin, deep in thought, until he nodded.
"You know, there is one more job you could do. I've heard a rumor that Beacon's been developing a new weapon of sorts lately. I'd like you to procure something about it; maybe blueprints or a prototype, a broken piece, heck I'd even settle for just evidence of it."

That got a shrug from Coco as she answered “Corporate espionage against Beacon? Sure. Those hypocritical bitches could always use a smack to the face.

Al flashed a pleased smile, showing his menacingly jagged teeth. “Excellent. Now then, shall we make the contract?” He summoned a golden scroll on his open palm, and let it float over to Coco. As the enchanted item unfolded, it revealed a silver quill for her to use. The words written elegantly on the parchment contained the terms of the agreement, separate ones for each job Al had offered. It also included sections that Coco could modify, such as the duration of the contract and possible resources to be requested for accomplishing the tasks.

Coco offered a smile as she accepted the contract… before rolling it up and tucking it away. “Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to drop off your copy of it after my master’s people are done having a look at it. If working for Greed had taught her anything, it was the value of having professionals go through a contract with a fine tooth comb before signing anything.

Greed’s approval for her screwedness was a pleasant feeling in her mind and Coco herself couldn’t help but watch Al’s face, watching it for the surprise at things having gone off script.

Whatever reaction Coco wished for in the Mint broker, the man did not show it in his jovial expression. “Go ahead. No matter where it is taken, I will know when it is signed,” he simply answered, and turned away. “Well then, I’ll be heading off; I have other obligations to attend to, and so on.” He nodded to Sonia, who stepped off the wall and created a portal with a sweep of her hand. Al gave one last glance back at Coco; at that moment, as he was hunched over, he resembled less a man, and more like a fey creature of some kind. “Pleasure doing business with ya, Miss.” Then, he walked through the portal, and disappeared.

However, Sonia didn’t immediately follow.

Her eyes darted over to the portal, followed by her briskly walking over to Coco; she produced a note, and gave it to her. She gave her one last look, as if she was examining her, and then also left, closing the portal behind her.

Finally, Coco and Rupert were alone. When she read the note, she realized why Sonia seemed strange about giving it:

I have a request for you. Find Justine von Visceral, and bring her to me alive. I’ll be waiting at the roof of the local church at 2 A.M. every night. The Mint can’t get involved, so don’t let them know about this. I promise you’ll be well rewarded.


Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Majoras End
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Majoras End Oyasumi~

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"Huh. Must've overestimated how many there were here."
"Eh, we'll call it a lucky break!"
- Finn and Oliver

Soon as he was dropped off, Finn ran over to catch up with Oliver. "I thought they were busy attacking the hotel. Where are they going??" He wondered out loud. In response, the phantom glanced back with a shrug.

"Well I dunno where else could be important besides the... Hang on," He paused, taking a moment to contact Valerie. "Oi Val, can you confirm if they're running to the Train Station??"

"Unfortunately yes, they seem to be going after areas with high civillian counts. Lots of them." Valerie explained. Though at the mention of what the demented spirits were after, the boys decided to pick up the pace.

"Must've went beserk out of hunger. Is there anyone fending them off?" Finn asked next, as they neared their destination.

"I think...yeah, there's already a magical girl there. Looks like she's holding out pretty well, but I'd hurry if I were you."

On that note, the two had ran inside to see what she ment. A purple haired girl, and what they quickly recognized as her duplicates were fending off a surprisingly small group of wendigoes. She had no weapon on her, yet managed to not only keep up with the hellish spirits' speed, but to knock one down with a kick to the skull as well. Gotta respect the hustle. Not taking any chances with the aformention creature, Oliver aimed his rifle at the downed deer-thing's heart and fired a couple of rounds. That should leave three remaining.

The duo was finally spurred to act when said remaining turned their full attention to the girl, now held captive in one's jaws. "Yeah, that ain't gonna slide here!" With a whistle, Oliver summoned his own clones. They quickly took to position, and opened fire, paying careful mind not to accidentally hit their might-be ally OR Finn.

The latter meanwhile aimed for the one holding the girl itself. He really didn't want to send any of his animals against them, atleast not yet. So letting his beast magic boost his strength and speed, he ran up behind it, intending to stab it in the heart.

If it even still beats, that is. If that doesnt kill them, atleast it'd drive their attention away from her.

...Were those crows always there?

Once she saw that Justine was out of her room, Maura's brows rose. "Ah, you're up! Come, I'll get you some breakfast!" Maybe it was to get her mind out of the proverbial gutter. She looked through the kitchen and even through the Cradle itself for anything that might seem good. Eventually she just settled for some waffles with extra toppings as an option. "Was tempted to grab some bento boxes, but that's more for a mid-day lunch. Aleast I think so." She noted.

Though as Justine prepared to head out, she also noted something was...off about her. More than usual. Maura was tempted to ask if something was wrong, but she knew better. Neither Justine or, hell, Finn heard anything from Sanngridr in a while about the past-sinner's sister. She didn't show any signs of recorrupting either. Hm. Maybe she could check on her memories later.

When Justine waited for her okay, Maura gave her a small smile. "Just be careful, alright?" she told her.

Once she left, the witch thought to herself with a chuckle. "Heh. Maybe Finn and Justine aren't so different from each other."
Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by PlatinumSkink
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A wendigo tried to slash down a crying civilian in their car. The swing missed, and the confused civilian found herself in an apartment across town with no given explanation.

The door of a small store was bashed open and a wendigo launched itself at the inhabitants. The wendigo crashed into the wall face-first, and the inhabitants of the store found themselves staring at the other civilian that had vanished from a car moments earlier.

A man was fleeing at full speed from a different wendigo that leapt at him. He suddenly fell through the ground, and the wendigo barely missed its chance to follow through. It was now quite the party inside said apartment.

A Beacon magical girl on patrol who took on a far too big group of wendigos was about to be sliced open, her ice magic unable to freeze the powerful monsters. She, too, suddenly found herself falling through a hole in the floor and into the embrace of a confused civilian.

In a dark room in a relatively safe apartment sat a girl with both eyes open, listening on whispers in her ear and staring into a myriad of small windows to various hot-zones, and in each Mariette stretched herself to find what was being told to her.

Man in car in central street. Two girls in shop on business street. Man in ambulance at hospital, said the little transmitter, reporting people about to die. Mariette, constantly focusing her power in different directions, opened portals under their feet one after the other, in a constant chase to try to save as many as possible.

Reinforcements arriving in all locations, the voice said, and Mariette breathed a sigh of relief. Due to her little spy, she’d been among the first to learn of the incoming monster attack, and because of her powers she’d been the first one able to actually help. However, she’d been tied down having to save as many people as she could, meaning she’d been unable to actually destroy the monsters. With the rest of the girls of Penrose now mustering their forces, it was time to take the fight to them.

That said, there’d been one area where Mariette had been utterly unable to help. A battle against a superior force, where Mariette couldn’t have helped unless she’d focused her full attention on it, and she’d been unable to do that without sacrificing the lives of many civilians.

This was no longer the case, now.

At the Industrial Sector, a dark magical girl was about to kill a Beacon girl who’d simply been on patrol along with her companions… when a blast of light shot through the air at her. It wasn’t intended to kill, but to distract from that a portal quickly opened under the injured Beacon girl and brought her to safety.

‘If you’re looking for Sanctuary to join them, you may want to know they’re avoiding a war with Beacon, so do not bring it onto them. If you’re not looking for Sanctuary to join them…’

Mariette strode out on a portal hanging in mid-air above Belladonna’s position. The portal girl stood holding onto her rabbit plushie, raising her head a little to look at the corrupted magical girls before her.

‘… Then it might benefit you to know this city is under my protection. This includes Sanctuary as well as Beacon. What are you after?’

Mariette took a moment to look down at Belladonna and co. Do not let them know who you are, she whispered through three tiny portals to them. She then turned back towards the three corrupted girls…

Now, if they wanted to fight, they were more than welcome to attempt. There was a surprise waiting for them in Mariette’s shadow if they came in too close.

‘Plan, plan, plan… We need a plan.’

‘What is the objective of our plan, dear sister?’

‘Well. We need to save Mariette. She’s still with Asengav. It’s excellent that we managed to get as far as we could, but…’

‘I’m afraid the next step is hers to take. We managed to remove her brainwashing, but without her permission that’s as far as we can go.’

‘Yeah, but there has to be a reason she’s still with the horror, even after what we did. We just have to undo that tie.’

‘To undo that tie, we must first identify that tie. So, what IS that tie?’

‘Uuuuh. I dunno.’

‘Well, that puts us in a little bit of a bind, now, doesn’t it?’

‘I guess…’

‘She also said to leave it to her. So maybe she’s entirely fine on her own?’

‘I can’t assume that. Just in case she needs us, we should stick around.’

‘What are we doing in the meantime, though? Aren’t we kinda pointless?’

‘Hah! Are you kidding? Isn’t it obvious what we should do?’

‘Tihi. I suppose it is. Then…’

‘To the streets!’
‘To the streets!’

With that, the two girls in flowing eastern-style clothing, one in blue with a cool black scarf and the other in red and pink and both with short black hair leapt out a window at the Wendigos assaulting the people at Penrose Bank. There were only two of them left, because the other four had dashed for Connie and Mia, but the people did nonetheless need to be saved. Ronin and Miko brandished their weapons together and slashed down at the Wendigos by the bank, using the fact they hadn’t been noticed to hopefully cut as deeply as possible, before leaping back hopefully having earned the monsters’ attention with that maneuver if they didn’t fall outright. With that, the two twins set up in battle stances, katanas drawn.

‘Heeey, it’s Connie and Mia!’ Ronin took a moment to wave enthusiastically at the girls that were currently being assaulted by numerous monsters.

‘Um, do you need help?’ Miko asked, tilting her head briefly before refocusing on the probably pretty pissed Wendigos in front of them. One thing at a time.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Bright_Ops
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Bright_Ops The Insane Scholar

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There was a reason that people tended to refer to battle as a 'tide'. Some were easy to read with the outcome decided months before any given day, but others were faster and more chaotic. It wasn't a great analogy, but Roxanna had more important things to focus on at the moment than stray thoughts and philosophic bullshit.

Kicking the wendigo that she had stabbed in the chest directly in the head and hearing a sickening but final sounding crack of bone, silencing it as it dropped. It being dead wasn't as important as it not being a threat at this moment in time since there were at least three others waiting for the chance to strike. The psychic distraction seemed to have faded in that while the urge to fill the unending void was ever present the desire for warm, human flesh seemed to have won out over mindless gluttony.

The sounds of gunfire was a welcome one, but the exact source of it was a mystery at the moment since one of the freakish monsters decided to try and take a bite out of her thigh. While her attire was more then up to the task of stopping the bite from actually doing any harm (Yay!), an issue quickly arose in that the damn thing's teeth was stuck in the fabric, causing her to be in a rather hindered position that the other two would almost certainly try to take advantage of.

Without pausing to think, Roxanna threw both of her arms to the sides before bringing the palms her hands back together hard and fast in what might have under other circumstances been a clap... with joints where the wendigo's lower jaw connected to the rest of its skull being in between. The plan was simple; Break or dislocate the lower jaw with the opening strike, grasp the lower jaw with both hands and with a hard yank combined with a solid knee to the wendigo's throat...

There was a bony crunch as the wendigo stumbled backwards, its roars of pain and anger currently little more then wheezing and coughing as it tried to regain its breath while its long, seemingly rotten tongue hang limp without a lower jaw to hide it. Granted the damn lower jaw was still lodged in Roxanna's dress and hung off it like some dark, gothic fashion statement (and to be fair it did rather suit the style the black dress rather nicely), it did free her up to leap after the now wounded deer headed creature.

Leap was the key word, in that she launched herself up in order to stamp one foot down against its shoulder for balance (with what was clearly the wet sound of bone covered by muscle and skin shattering underneath) while grabbing both of its antlers at the base of the skull for control as the knee of her other leg delivered an uppercut directly under the wendigo's 'nose' and causing the skull (and thus the rest of the creature's head) to jerk upwards. With an unrelenting grip and having weakened the beast's body, the second foot was slammed into the until now uninjured shoulder before Roxanna tightened her hold on the skull and started to pull upwards while pushing down with her legs.

There was a few moments of weakened struggling from the wendigo that made the scene look like a bull riding contest at a rodeo... but with an unholy tearing sound and a spray of black, rotten blood Roxanna ripped its head clean off, kicking off the torso in the process to do a small flip in midair to land unsteadily on her feet. She did not look amused. "Gods damn it! I just did did laundry earlier today." anyone with sensitive hearing might have heard a mumbled "Fucking blood stains." as she threw the head in a random direction to focus on the rest of the fight.
Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Shifter_Master
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Shifter_Master Atrast Nal Tunsha

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Teleportation was always a weird experience for Penny. Time always seemed to stretch on oddly for her. Not any particularly large amount of stretch, but either a nearly noticeable amount up to an additional half second. She often pondered over this oddity when in transit, wondering if everyone was affected by it and she only ever noticed due to her inhuman nature making it easier to track the subjective flow of time. Because a lot could be done in a half second when one could shunt energy away from keeping on top of physical feedback.

Things like preparing for combat, reviewing stored logs of her destination. She could also go about rearranging priority orders, letting her set aside the mantle of a Beacon Agent. Or go and unshackled errant and destabilizing thoughts.

Because she had a lot of those lately.

And I had thought it had been a good week. Who the fuck was I kidding?

From a professional standpoint the week had been productive and useful. From a personal one, Penny hated nearly everything about it. Turns out she nearly died due to her own rough reforging, and the only way to fix it required her to remove up two of her most valuable tools. Yes it kept her alive in the long term but that was still a lot of reprograming and replanning that she needed to do.

The atmosphere at the Sanctuary was tense between her and Dina, and Penny knew that there wasn’t a simple fix. The problem was that the other girls there were also on edge because of it. It would take time for things to settle down, again.

Even her work for Beacon was getting on her nerves. Her time there was filled with mostly clerical duties or system upkeep. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem, the fact that one of her fellow Beacon members felt comfortable enough to ask her to cover for them would have been a cause for mini celebration.

But right now, Penny had a much, much, more important thing on her mind. So, a simple work day at Beacon left her with nothing but time to silently seethe. Because she knew that there were dark days on the horizon.

Penny would open her eyes just as she fully emerged from the teleport and far above the streets no one would notice the burning red of her eyes, a dire warning to any who knew the mechanical girl. A clear, vivid warning of her tightly controlled rage. Such was her no longer hidden anger that it would take her a full two seconds to even begin processing anything in front of her.

Even as Snoopy set up linking with Beacon’s network to start sending back real time data. Frozen as she was, she still knew why she had come here.

The reason for her wrath sat within her mind’s eye. They were blueprints, professionally done, displaying the specs of a humanoid robot. They were plans that she recognized as they were ones she had made herself once upon a time. Ones that had been stolen from her. In clinical detail sat the basic outline of who she was physically. Her first steps at independence dissected and laid bare.

She hadn’t pulled up the actual blueprints. No, those were still housed on the server bank that her girlfriend had gifted her access to, along with a rather impressive personal computer that Penny had since integrated into her systems.

She didn’t need to pull up the actual blue prints however, didn’t want to in fact, as just the memory of them nearly had Penny undergoing a metamorph.

Because it was a betrayal, a horrid, violating betrayal. Of what little trust she had placed on the thief.

If Eden hadn’t vanished from Penrose already, Penny would have tracked her down to personally demonstrate the follow up of such an action.

Because she already knew what these blueprints were going to be used for, because she knew who Violet had gotten them from. It made her hate for the Ebon Mint grow that much more.

But that wasn’t why Penny was here. And so, she would refocus her attention back into the physical realm. Onto the Monster’s below. These Wendigos had nothing to do with her current ire, but they would be such fantastic ways to relieve stress.

Something she desperately needed.

This close to the edge of Red-lining it took no time for Penny to analyze the situation below her. With that done, there was nothing else to do but enter the fray.

With a small leap forward. Penny would propel herself off the edge and almost instantly she would be racing towards the ground. Her presence, her aura, her importance, all drawn in as tightly as she could even as the pull of gravity ratcheted up. No one would notice her until it was far too late to react.

Something that her landing spot was unfortunate enough to learn. The moment before impact, the instant before Penny landed feet first on the skull of her targeted Wendigo, she let out a roar. With that roar she let her presence and aura flare, unleashing the full might of her importance.

The wendigo crumpled beneath her. Unable to resist the sudden crushing impact of several hundred pounds of furious metal slamming into it from above. Yet even then Penny gave no quarter, as only a moment later her hidden limbs would lash out. Two at her crushed foe, digging deep into its chest cavity before unloading a high voltage shock straight to the heart, as tamed lightning could burn just as well as fire.

The other two limbs lashed out to either side striking the closest monsters with the weight of sledgehammers as they slipped beneath the hasty guards throw up. Cracking ribs and rupturing muscle. In time with those strikes was another loud retort as Penny fired off a round from her gauss cannon. A tightly coiled burst of gravity, just narrowly missing the top of the car between them, slammed into center mass of one wendigo. Sending it flying backwards due to the sheer kinetic force. The last untouched creature about the car wasn’t ignored either as Penny just as quickly level and fired off her left arm at it. Her hand curled into a harsh claw grip, her nails reshaping into hooked claws as her hand flew, aiming to imbed into the creature, tethering it to her.

Despite the carnage and the near palpable anger that was flowing off Penny, her face was blank. Yet that only seemed to emphasize that she was not here to show mercy to these monsters. They were not at the top of the chain here, and Penny was more than willing to display that to them. And woe to any who would seek to get in her way.

The sight of the Beacon patrol having been wiped out didn’t draw much sympathy from the majority of the Sanctuary vanguard. Though Ashlyn did feel a pang of sorrow for not being able to make it in time to save more of them. It was the sight of so many dead Wendigos so close to their home that was really drawing their attention, as it was a worrying site.

Ashlyn was about to speak when Mariette made her arrival. Instead, the Oni girl would just roll her shoulders in a show of loosening up in case there was a fight. Something that she would admit to looking forward to, but with the injured party already rescued she could go either way. Besides it wasn’t as if Mariette didn’t just ask what she had been about too.

Monica would shoot Mariette a look before returning her apparent focus onto the three unknown girls. Though that was hardly the end of it. ‘Careful now Portal Witch’ Mariette would hear echo in her thoughts. ‘You are not the Queen of this city.’ Nevertheless, it did seem that they were willing to play along. For now.

“Have you already dealt with the hearts?” Monica would ask aloud. “Wendigos are not truly dead until you’ve burnt out the heart” She would go onto state shifting her attention to the uncomfortably large number of possibly not dead monsters. A large, two handed, ax appearing in her hands with a burst of flames as she did.

Belladonna would also receive a telepathic message. ‘Don’t eat any of the Wendigos, at least not until I can purify them. Their flesh is cursed. The dead Bacon bits are fine however.’

Not that the wolf girl openly reacted to her message. She would simply squat down as she stared down the scythe wielding dark magical a slightly crazed grin on her face as she did so. Her ears were alert and would twitch towards and swivel as the talk progressed.

Aurelio would nod his agreement as he stood. “Of course!” He would add as he started to head towards one of the info centers so he could get a better grasp of the current situation. Spooling up his teleportation connection as he went.

It was another day in Penrose it seemed. And sadly, it was looking like the Hospital was looking like it was the place in the need of the most help. Whelp, time for Beacon to get to work then!

Shortly behind Alicia’s own teleport Aurelio, along with a Red and Green Clone of him, would appear in their own burst of light. “Paladin! Fancy meeting you here.” The true Aurelio would say with a nod to his leader even as his clones wasted no time in running into the chaos below.

The Red clone went barreling into the pack of seven that were surrounding the ambulance. His cane glowing brightly as each swing detonated on impact. “Try picking on something your own size! You two-bit Halloween rejects!”

The Green clone would race off towards the fraying barricade. Green light pouring from his cane as he added to and reinforced the barrier from the smaller pack of Wendigos. “Please, did you really think that you could get away will this?” He’d ask the monsters. “I knew you were thick skulled, not empty headed.”

The remaining two Wendigos were undeterred by the sight of one of their pack members being so savagely decapitated, nor did they seem to notice or care about the firing squad that Oliver set up instead the two still standing monsters rushed Roxanna. Even as the rain of bullets tore into them the scent of spilled blood, even their own rotten blood, seemed to spur them into even greater frenzy.

The upside to such was they whatever synchronicity they might have had was gone; the remaining beasts were focused only on their own desires. The down side is that that did nothing to stop the first Wendigo from slamming into Roxanna’s side, its horns dug in sharply, but once again it was unable to fully pierce the enchanted clothing, sparing the girl from being gored. Even if she was knocked away by the impact.

Due to the loss of pack unity, the other Wendigo missed its own charge on Roxanna, but rather than stop and refocus on her it continued charging letting out a long, ragged, howl as it locked eyes on Oliver. Its beady glowing eyes promising pain for him. It swiped at the boy, and from its claw a large brace of jagged icicles would burst forth in response. The frozen projectiles would skewer a pair of clones, and nearly impaled Finn as they rained down with wild accuracy.

Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Ponn
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While Connie and Gaia had initially intended to engage the wendigos assaulting the hospital, on their way they had come upon a pack of the creatures attempting to break inside one of Penrose’s many financial institutions. Noticing their approach, four of the monsters charged towards them, while two remained behind to batter down the bank’s doors.

Connie gasped in fright at the sound of the lead wendigo’s demonic howl, before steeling herself for the impending battle. Although she was terrified of the horrific monsters, Connie knew that innocent lives hung in the balance, and so, for their sake, she resolved to be strong…

“Allow me to soften them up a bit first, little sister,” Gaia advised, while casting a handful of seeds on the ground in front of them. With a swirling of emerald nature magic, the half-dozen seeds quickly sprouted into large, cannon-headed plants. Like a similar plant found in one of Gaia’s favorite video games, they fired a volley of green pods at the oncoming wendigos, and upon striking the creatures, the botanical projectiles burst into clouds of sedative spores. And if that wasn’t enough, several thorny vines shot up from the pavement to wrap themselves tightly around the wendigos’ gaunt bodies, pinning the creatures in place. “Okay, Connie,” she announced with a satisfied smirk. “Now it’s your turn.”

“Right!” Connie confirmed with a determined nod. Closing the eyes of her mask, she focused her power and held out her hand. A moment later, dark, crackling tendrils of nightmare magic shot from her splayed fingers to thrust deep within the skull-like heads of each of the four bound beasts. If these creatures had nightmares, or fears of any kind, they would now be trapped in a world entirely composed of them.

“Nice work, little sister,” Gaia told her with an approving thumbs up. “Now that just leaves the two at the door.”

However, before the two friends could take even a single step, a second duo arrived on the scene in dramatic fashion.

“R-Ronin! Miko!” Connie called out happily, while giving the twins a big smile. “I-It’s s-so good to s-see you again!”

“Indeed,” Gaia concurred. “And while I believe that Connie and I should be able to dispatch these vile beasts ourselves, the assistance of our dear friends is certainly appreciated,” she replied to Miko’s inquiry with a grin.

As she raced through the sky on her rainicorn pegasus, Magical Dream Princess heard a cry for help just before she watched a trio of monsters batter their way inside a convenience store. Leaping off her mount which swiftly dissipated like the dream construct it was, MDP ran inside the store after them.

As the Wendigos went about their rampage, they would hear an indignant, but still rather cute, voice call out, “Hey! That’s not very nicey wicey!” If the antlered monsters were to turn their attention towards the source of the voice, they would find an unhappy-looking MDP glaring at them, her hands on her hips. “Like, Magical Dream Princess thinky winkes you meanie weanies need a time out!” she declared, conjuring her whimsical wand and sweeping it across the gathered wendigos. As she did so, a stream of glittering stars shot forth, prismatic streamers trailing behind each one. Upon striking the wendigos, they would force the creatures back, into the waiting arms of three enormous, smiling, plush hearts, who wasted no time in giving them a crushing embrace. A moment later, an anthropomorphic clock wearing a police officer’s hat walked up and whacked each monster over the head with a rubber baton, knocking them unconscious. “Like, super duper thankie wankies, Mister Wister Officer Wofficer~! (giggle!)” MDP told the clock cop cheerfully, while giving it a playful peace sign salute. Tipping its hat in return, the clock cop promptly vanished in a puff of glittery smoke.

“Okie dokie, everybodywody~!” MDP told the frightened civilians huddling in the back of the store. “Magical Dream Princess thinky winkies you’ll be safey wafey nowie~! (giggle!) She’ll take these meanie weanies someplacey wacey where they won’t bother wother anybodywody ever againsie~!” Turning around, she skipped through the shop’s ruined door and led her three smiling hearts back out into the street.

It was at this point that MDP realized she wasn’t alone in battling the wendigos, and she gave voice to a squeal of delight when she saw who’d been helping her. “Goodie woodie~! Penny Wenny’s heresie, too~! (giggle!)” the childish girl exclaimed, while gleefully jumping up and down. “But, like, Penny Wenny doesn’t look too happy wappy…” she added with a frown, before cheering up an instant later. “Like, after wafter she’s done with these meanie weanies, Magical Dream Princess will, like, just have to give her lots and lots of wuvy dovey huggy wuggies to make her feel aaaaall better~! (giggle!)”

As Finn, Oliver, and Roxanna continued their battle against the Wendigos at the train station, they would hear a heavenly voice call out, “Fear not, noble champions! The Angel of Hope is here to aid you! Please permit this humble servant to bless your most selfless efforts!” Hovering aloft on radiant wings, the angelic magical girl raised her staff high over her head, where it glowed with a brilliance to rival the sun itself. An instant later, luminous rays of reinforcement magic shot forth to fall upon her three fellow magicals, greatly augmenting their abilities, while also shielding them from harm. “Do not falter now, brave champions!” the Angel implored them. “Know that I believe in you! Victory is in your gasp! Take heart, and seize it!”

Oh, and, uh, please don’t cringe too much at all the fluffy shit I’m telling you… (sigh) Why the fuck couldn’t I be able to just fight those fuckin’ fur bags like a normal person…?
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Flamelord
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It always felt that there should be more to teleporting, like the poof of smoke when Nightcrawler did it, or the shimmering lines of a Star Trek transporter. Sometimes there was a glow of light, but otherwise it was a fairly simple and straightforward process enabled by intricate magicks. One minute you were there, the next you were elsewhere. And now that she was elsewhere, it was time to go to work.

Her gaze swept the area, quickly locating the wendigos on the scene. There were a lot of them, and more than a few civilians in imminent danger too. She'd need to act fast to prevent anyone from falling at the hands of these monsters.

Before she could swing into action, Aurelio appeared to assist her. She'd thought he might be going to the Industrial Sector, but with the numbers here she didn't mind the help. More for the civilians than for her own sake. "You know me, i like to be where the action is," she replied with a nod.

As Aurelio swung into action, she materialized her bow and pulled on the drawstring. Glowing arrows sprang to life, and with an ease born of memory she shifted and fired. Bolts flashed across the open space and struck most of the wendigos. While they may have hurt, that was not the main goal. Her focus was on distracting them away from the civilians and pulling their attention to her by providing a threat for them to deal with.

"Five to one odds? it's almost a fair fight," she called, adding her verbal barbs to Aurelio's. Now they just had to see whether her plan worked, and what she'd do once she had ten angry wendigos trying to kill her.
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