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2 yrs ago
Ended up sick, trying to respond once I get better.


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The Great Penrose Movie Marathon

"Connie and Mia!”
Lily turned with a wide smile upon seeing her friends; she had kept in contact with them through text messages and Glimmr, but this was the first time she’s seen the two out of costume.
"I’m glad you guys made it too! And you’re so cool too, hah...”
She herself was also out of costume as expected, and adjusted her glasses and nodded as Emily gestured for everyone to move the snacks to the kitchen.
"Oh, Gojira! I love the movies with his son, Gojira Junior! He’s so adorable, eeeehh~!”

She observed as Shane went to talk with Emily, and giggled as Sakura pointed out the weirdness with his old name.
"Yeah, she was, Emily. She was the short girl with the sailor shirt!”
As she saw Faith and especially Hilaria arrive, she noticed how cramped the place was becoming, and turned visibly nervous, even as she greeted Hilde with a wave of her hand.
"Oh wow, are we all gonna fit here? I-I can sit on the floor if we run out of seats,” she offered, starting to develop anxiety as Oros arrived. Was there something she could do?

Then, as she noticed Alex take a seat on the couch, having been one of the first to arrive, she got an outrageous idea; she stood up from her seat next to him and sat on his lap, blushing profusely as she did so.
"Sorry Alex! I know how much you don’t like people being this close, but we gotta make some space. And uh...This is normal for couples to do.”
However, she wasn’t embarrassed for long, as she was shocked to see Tenebra of all people arrive in the apartment. She bit her lip, and took a deep breath, having missed the fact that the spin the bottle had landed on Alex.
"Oh, the movies are missing? I can help you look for them, Saku-chan,” she offered as she quickly jumped off, obviously avoiding Tenebra as much as she could.

Not too long after her brief, yet unique encounter with Faith did Hilaria gather herself enough to go ahead and seek out a means to reunite with her sibling. She could have asked the two who approached them at the diner but she needed just a moment or two to herself. This was happening much too often as of late, something that was relatively frightening for the centuries-old magical girl. If there was one thing she remembered about her life, it was that at every chance it beat the irrefutable fact that caring for people would only lead to despair.

Which, compounded by the fact she was now going out of her way to find and interact with members of the Ascendancy, gave Hilaria quite the bad feeling. Though what could possibly go wrong with a dark magical girl approaching an order established to eradicate such things? She figured that if one group would recognize her as an ancient, that maybe another one would. Not the soundest idea she ever had.

“How do you do, fellow magical girls~!” she called out to a group she managed to stumble upon. They did not make it hard to tell who they were affiliated with, what with the standard bearing the Beacon’s insignia on it. Hilaria was donning her armor and had her scutum in hand. She did not trust these individuals to remain completely civil, but she didn’t want to provoke them by waving her shotgun around. Most people did not take such actions in a positive manner. “Might Hilaria entreat you fellows for a bit of direction~?”

Unlike the previous patrol Hilaria stumbled upon, this group did not seem as eager for conversation; upon spotting her, the group immediately charged forth, using flanking tactics to surround her with weapons at the ready. One of the magical girls cast a spell on Hilaria before she finished asking her question, attempting to stun the girl with a psychic blast. Hilaria was mostly unaffected thanks to her endurance, and only felt slightly dazed by the attack as two girls elbow slammed into her from her sides, attempting to wrestle her to the ground.

“Surrender, or you shall be summarily executed!” The leader of the patrol, Amelie, shouted.

Their propensity for violence could almost be seen as endearing were it not for the fact she actually had an objective here. Having managed to shake off the mental attack, Hilaria raised her scutum towards one of the incoming girls and advanced with her shield, bashing the girl and, unless she had some way to prevent it, throwing her back and onto the ground. This left her back exposed to the other girl, who in their attempt to ground Hilaria, found herself being struck by the knight’s bombacious booty enabled by Dan’s blessing.

Merely stunning the girl would not be enough, so before the spell-slinging girl or the one she knocked to the ground could respond, she took the opportunity to force the last one to the floor, her scutum sitting upon her neck. “Hilaria thinks that’s no way to treat someone invited by the Cardinal~” It would be a simple matter to apply enough pressure to break a neck, what with her heavy shield and her strength. She hoped the threat of this would convince them to listen.

The first girl was successfully bashed right in the face, though instead of falling to the ground she made a backflip and skid backwards, slowing her traction using her blade while holding a hand to her face, bleeding from her nose. The other girl did not react as quickly, and was subdued by Hilaria’s mastery over the unusual martial art Dan had gifted to her, groaning as she felt the scutum press into her neck. The other girls stopped their attacks, and simply glared at Hilaria. Amelie stepped slowly forth until she was within speaking distance.

“Invited by the Cardinal? That’s absurd. She would never invite a murderous beast like you!” Amelie responded with disdain in her tone, only for the eyes to open in realization for one of the other girls. “Wait, is she...I think I saw her before...”
Amelie turned to her. “Where?”
“She was brought to meet with the Cardinal. She is speaking the truth.”

Amelie scoffed. “Unbelievable. The Cardinal actually did release her then...”
She continued moving closer to Hilaria, slowing down as Hilaria pressed harder on her hostage.
“Any other corrupted would flee before us or draw their armaments. Very well then. What directions are you asking for?”

Hilaria wasn’t letting her guard down for a moment. It was clear another step or any sudden movement from either of the girls would not have a pleasant result, but she was glad they at least noticed she hadn’t come to fight. “Hilaria wishes to see the Cardinal~ Or, well, the Cardinal wishes to see Hilaria~ But it’s hard for that to happen when Hilaria doesn’t know where to go~” she informed.

Amelie’s eye twitched. “Figures. Stacy, see if the Cardinal is available.” The psychic girl nodded, and placed two fingers against the base of her ear as she contacted headquarters. “HQ? This is Bravo 3, requesting the Cardinal. Apparently a corrupted one she has released wishes to speak with her.” After a moment, she lowered her fingers and spoke to Hilaria. “The Inquisitor has ordered to forbid the Cardinal’s contact with non-members of the organization. However, the Cardinal has requested to speak with you herself.” She turned to Amelie, who in turn grit her teeth with crossed arms. “...I suppose it can’t be helped.” Stacy removed her communication device and placed it on Amelie’s open palm. “Here, catch.” She carefully threw the device over to Hilaria, allowing her to equip it on her ear. “You have five minutes. Meeting protocol.”

Hilaria leaned over her shield to catch the communicator, careful not to put herself in any situation where she couldn’t just apply pressure to the girl beneath her. After receiving it and eying it for any trace of unwanted magics, she placed it in her ear. “Mmm, is this Ishtar, Hilaria wonders~? Hilaria was told you wanted to check up on her so here she is~”

At the very moment Hilaria spoke, she heard Ishtar cry out in surprise. "Helewisa!" She began sobbing, sounding weaker than the last time they met. "It's you...My heart was so heavy with worry, I felt like it would be crushed. I'm so happy to hear you again."

Being oblivious to the night of the Rave, Hilaria was questioning her sister’s sanity. There was no reason that she was aware that anyone should have had to worry about her, so it came off as Ishtar being clingy. Was she like this before? “It hasn’t been that long, has it~?” But knowing her own forgetfulness, maybe it had been longer than she recalled. Considering her age, it wasn’t impossible for her to have just forgotten a week or so. Maybe even longer. What’s a year to someone who has lived a thousand? There was something else, too. “You sound off, Hilaria thinks~ Did Hilaria contact you at a weird time~?”

Hilaria heard a distant noise of Ishtar blowing her nose before she returned back to the communicator. "So you don't remember...I was cursed at the park. And there, I saw you...Consumed by the darkness in your heart. I called out to you, hoping our hearts would connect and illuminate through the black...But I was foolish. I...I've been a horrible sister, abandoning you for so many centuries. I understand why you rejected that bond."

“Eh? But you’re alright, then?” Hilaria was astounded. It sounded like Ishtar was saying that Hilaria went berserk, but that wasn’t right. That sort of thing required a big spike in emotions -- Hilaria was woefully lacking in that department. She moved through life caring little for anything save a delicious meal and someone to share it with. “Are you sure it was me?” she felt the sweats and a severe headache coming on. Her head was splitting as if it was desperately trying to come up with something, but the memory just wasn’t there, at least yet.

"As much as I wished to, I could not deny the consequence of my sin. That rage, that despair...It was your raft on the turbulent sea of fate. It was the only thing you could hold close to yourself." She paused, and Hilaria heard her handle her napkin, as if she was cleaning her tears. "But it doesn't have to stay that way, Helewisa. I can help you," she stated quietly.

And as much as Hilaria wished it wasn’t true, she did not believe her sister had reason to lie to her. To lose herself to her darkness… that hadn’t happened in a long time, and it should not have, either. She prided herself on being above such feelings, yet here she was, a kid again. “What do you mean, ‘help’?” she asked. She did not forget the other girls, and since they had yet to try something, she at least lightened the pressure on the girl beneath her. It was probably not the most comfortable position to listen to an ‘enemy’ have a conversation.

The pressured girl underneath Hilaria groaned in relief once Hilaria gave her a bit of respite. Ishtar answered: "I now understand that you are truly lonely, and need the warmth that only a person you trust can provide. If you could let me be part of your life again, I can help you forget your sorrow, and allow your heart repose after all the suffering it has endured. We can be...Siblings, who squabble and frolic, and share both the joys and hardships that the future has. Then, I believe your darkness will make way to new light."

“Would that it be so simple…” Hilaria had once desired such a life. She knowingly had given her normal, human life so that she might be a shield for humanity. Yet she was also selfish and wanted some notion of an average life when she wasn’t fighting monsters. At the time, Beacon had felt like that for her. And so did Isabella. That, however, came to an abrupt, terrible end, and the beginning of the darkness within her. Only an idiot would deign to trust that combination of people and organizations yet again.

Playing the fool had become second nature to Helewisa. It was an ineffective way to pass the time as she moved from one place to another. The ditzy, eccentric Hilaria had once been a hot-blooded thug. A girl with more heart than courage. A perverted, bold girl. She wore enough guises to begin to question which Helewisa was the real one. But if there was one thing she could not do now that she remembered it, was to pretend like that betrayal had never happened.

“You’ll understand that it’s impossible,” she spoke, a hint of regret in her voice. “I was abandoned for becoming what I am. By Beacon… and you,” she then eyed the girls watching her. “And it’s clear they have not changed in the slightest in their crusade against a dark one like myself. The Ascendancy’s actions and my inability to even have an audience with you without risking my own life is all the evidence I need,” she explained. “And if they have yet to change their ways, then what about you? What assurance save your word do I have? Nothing. If you truly desire to rekindle a relationship such as you’ve described, then I present to you an ultimatum: Severe ties with this organization who persecutes me still, or discard any notion that I may place faith in you.”

For a moment, there was nothing but silence, both on Ishtar’s end, and amongst the forces of Ascendancy that have gathered. Finally, it was broken by Amelie. “Five minutes are up. Return the communication device.” Ishtar could be heard softly yelping in surprise, and spoke: “Please, return it. I will arrange things so that we may meet again.”

Hilaria’s expression darkened. “Very well,” she replied in a monotone. Taking the communicator off, she looked at it for a second before tossing it towards Amelie with a flick of her wrist. She didn’t like being put on hold, but she would get an answer from the woman next time. Until then, she would keep her association with her and the Ascendancy to a minimum.

Finally, the girl beneath Hilaria was allowed to get up once again. In fact, she wasn’t given much of a choice. Hilaria pulled the girl to her feet with ease and gave her a shove that could have been a bit more gentle towards Amelie. “Hilaria is done here. She would rather not go through this petty rigamarole again,” she told them. “Perhaps you may save us both the trouble, next time?”

The girl, who was up until now in a bind, quickly jumped back to join her compatriots, their hostility only reinforced by witnessing Hilaria shove one of them. Amelie was not amused by the antics, and scoffed as she caught the device, putting it to her ear. “We will proceed with the extraction, Cardinal. Wait, what?” It seems she heard something she didn’t want to hear, as she grit her teeth and clenched her fist. “We have clear orders from the Inquisitor to exterminate all corruption, Cardinal!” She paused to listen again, and sighed. “...Very well.” She turned away.
“Disengage. We have a report of a monster infestation.” The other girls looked confused. “But what about-” “I said disengage. That’s an order!” She gave one last glimpse of contempt at Hilaria, and left the area, followed by the rest of the patrol.

This encounter left Hilaria with a bad taste in her mouth -- perhaps the one of the worst things for her to experience. She knew not what would evoke a berserk state, she knew not what she did, and she felt disappointment that Isabella hadn’t given her an answer. But, more than anything, now she was wondering:

Did she try to eat Faith?

She hoped she didn’t.
Some time after Dina formed her pact with Dan, she found herself approached by the Lesser Force, holding an oversized party invitation letter. It was decorated with colorful stickers, and when opened, shot out streamers and whistles.

“Hey Dina! Come to the beach dimension tonight! I’m holding a big welcoming party where you get to meet new friends! I’d be super ultra mega sad if you didn’t attend! Ok, I’ll go prepare the funny hats now! Bye!” And with that, he disappeared.
He also gave the same invitation to Mika and Hilaria respectively, having given them unique cards too before poofing out.

When the girls arrived, their uniforms having changed accordingly, they found themselves looking at the beach bar that has been decorated from top to bottom. Resembling a Hawaian luau, there was a great feast prepared, with all kinds of mouth-watering dishes prepared; spicy skewered barbeque, big bowls of bananas, and even a multi-layered cream cake.

Dan, wearing a groucho gag mask, greeted the girls with a big wave of his fins, and floated up to each girl. “Welcome, welcome!” She placed a funny-looking hat on each of their heads. “Hold on to your hats, cause we’re going to have a big, wonderful welcoming party for our newest member!”
He took Dina’s hand, and shook it. “Welcome to the Smiling Sisters, Dina! May I introduce you to Mika and Hilaria, your new companions!!” He gestured to the other two enthusiastically.

Dina looked to the two, her eyes flickering from one to another, as her tail swished in curiosity and hesitation. She was rather uncomfortable wearing the pamela hat, despìte it having holes for her ears, but she endured it. One of them seemed to be a cat girl too. Huh. The other showed massive bountiful qualities. But formalities were in order, despite the crass outfit of everyone, so Dina performed a graceful bow before the other two.

“I am delighted to make your acquaintance.” She said.

Hilaria had smiled in response but couldn't seem to keep her eyes on Dina for more than a second at a time. Her gaze would shift elsewhere, then return, and this repeated often. "H-hello~" she tried greeting. "H-Hilaria is Hilaria, pleased to m-meet you~" It seemed her attention was occupied by something else and she was struggling to pretend like it wasn’t.

Mika also looked a little distracted. Her eyes darting between the newly arrived and the thing. Then she slapped Hilaria’s thigh. “Look Hilarious! Food!”

“Lots~!” her mouth began watering in anticipation of the feast which now held all of her attention, and she slowly began levitating towards it without concern for the others.

Before Hilaria reached the table, Dan floated before her, his flippers crossed.
“Hey, don’t just ignore Dina! That’s really rude! You can only start to eat once you’ve properly greeted her! Same with you too, Mika. Don’t you care about how she feels? Acting like this is discrimination, and that’s a big no-no on this island.” He then floated to Dina, missing perhaps the most lethal glare there ever was from Hilaria. “I’m sorry about this. They tend to think about food more than people.”

“Hey, that’s not true!” Mika’s tail got tall and stiff, the way a cat’s does when it’s flustered. “Dina just doesn’t like my mom, and if you have nothing nice to say, you shouldn’t say anything!” She folded her arms.

Dan’s cheeks puffed up to a comically large size. “Even if you don’t like someone, you should still have manners! Now greet her, or so help me!” Steam was now blowing from the top of his head like a train whistle.

Dina did look at the other two with restrained anger. She did not show it on her face, as her poise was unyielding, but the twitching of the nose, ears and tails was giving it away. Mika’s outburst only seemed to exacerbate it even further, her tail also becoming stiff, as if to pounce in a catfight due to the offenses. However at the last moment she stayed her hand and looked at Dan.

“It is fine. A party should not be ruined for so little.” She said to Dan. “I take no offense from their antics. Now that you mention it, they’re delightfully childish.” Dina even managed to force herself in a chuckle, before looking at Mika. “I beg your pardon, but I have yet to know who your mother is. Care to illustrate, miss Mika?” Dina said slowly, as if talking to a child.

Mika pointed at Dan to say-

“My, how so very cruel~!" Hilaria cut in dramatically. Mika closed her mouth and waited her turn to speak. “What a wicked fate has befallen Hilaria~! Calumniated by one with whom she shares a sacred bond and her intentions muddled by deceit~!" she looked intently at Dina. "But Hilaria shall not have you fret over these inequitable strikes against Hilaria's character~! Hilaria holds people - you - above all else, be it pork, beef, or chicken~" she heartened. "Insinuation to the contrary is merely ignorance or slander, nothing more~ Hilaria does not play favorites~! Hilaria would gladly have Mika, Dina, or Dan over for dinner were they to ever desire such~"

Mika took a step forward. “I’m not mad at her!” She said, clearly mad at Dan. “And thanks Hilarious, I’ll have you over for dinner some day.” With a sigh, she adjusted the orange traffic cone on her head and turned to Dina. “It doesn’t really matter who my mom is I guess.” She extended her hand. “I’m Mika. Nice to meet you, Dina. We have similar names, but I think we’re pretty different.”

Dina raised an eyebrow, then looked at Dan. Then at Hilaria. Then at Mika. She thought to herself that the impression she had of being the sanest of this group was comfortably close to being home. “I am grateful for your invitation, kind Hilaria.” She said, without batting an eyelid. Not that she ate much, but invitations had to be always thanked or refused politely.

“Hmm.” Dina drew closer to Mika, and answered her hand with a handshake of her own. “Maybe. Maybe not. Time will tell. Preconceptions are dangerous, in any regard.” Dina reminded, both herself and towards the others.

Dan calmed down once the girls introduced themselves to Dina, and sighed. "See, it wasn't that bad to show a little courtesy. I just hope you get along in the future." He floated down to the end of the table, where an oversized glass of carbonated water including a sliced lemon was, and dunked himself in it. This was followed by him lounging in it with his tail flopping out as if it was a jacuzzi. "You girls enjoy yourselves now while I have a sippy sip." He then pulled out a large straw, and sipped on the drink.

Dina's cat nature wanted to nuzzle Mika properly against her neck, but the ladylike nature once again reigned supreme. She just curved her lips in the cattiest smile she could muster, while keeping her tail in a satisfied position. “Say, do you like songs?”

Hilaria had somehow vanished, but her voice was still able to give an enthusiastic response to Dina. “Hilaria does~!” she called out seemingly from beside Dan, but all that was there was some barbecue and a rather large hotdog. Upon further inspection, however, it turned out the hotdog was the humorous hat Dan had given her earlier. And, odds were that she had even sat down before Dan had finished telling the girls to enjoy themselves. “Hilaria wonders if you can sing~?” she asked, then quickly devouring some barbecue.

“Singing is okay I guess.” Mika sat across from Hilaria and picked up a hot dog. Though Mika was a bit more fascinated with something else. Her eyes were locked onto Hilaria’s…Burgers. “Hey! You know what we should do when we’re done eating?” Mika’s tail wagged side to side. “We should play some Keijo one last time!”


“Hmm~?” Hilaria took a short break from eating. “Keijo~? Hilaria didn’t get a chance to do it last time, so sure~” she agreed before returning to the feast.

Dina looked at the other two, and then at Dan’s dismissal, and then took a choice cut from the meat barbeque, and began to eat it carefully, in small bites. She sat a small way apart from the other two, feeling that social distance was needed right now. She was having the smallest ration of the three, and eating in whimsical, delicate bites. “I can sing to an extent, but I can summon far better songstresses to my presence, kind Hilaria.” said the noble cat.
It was then when the other cat girl mentioned that dreaded word. Keijo. Dina stopped eating, as her ears went downcast, clutching her hat tightly against her face to shield the others from her fluster, as the hairs on her tail stood erect and stiff. She almost even hissed.

“...I will have to pass, even if it...sounds delightful.” She said, words not matching her body language at all. She needed a distraction, quickly. Finishing her bite, she quickly stood up. “Please excuse me, I shall fetch a singer.” She added as she went towards the surface of the water, and extending a hand, she tried calling the mermaid one more time.

She had been a bit of an overexcitable one, but she was a talented songstress. And if they were distracted, that meant she could be off the hook for such an indecent activity.

“Your loss.” Mika picked up a chicken wing. “If it’s just Hilaria and I that makes everything even anyway. Three’s a crowd.”

As the dishes began piling up beside Hilaria, who had finished a fair amount of food already, her expression was downcast. "Hilaria doesn't want to leave her new ally out of the festivities~" she took a slow bite of a skewer in perhaps the saddest possible way you could do so. "Keijo is supposed to bring people together, not drive them apart~" Of course that was ignoring the fact that the literal goal of the sport was to knock your opponent away and off a platform, this was hard to take too seriously. "Hilaria will make sure to play extra hard to make up for it~!"

Dina called in the same mermaid who had answered before, jumping from the waves with a great leap before riding down a stream of water created with Dina's use of barriers. "You called me again, Lady Dina! Do you wish to hear more of my songs?"

Dina looked at the mermaid, then at the two others. Seems like they were more of a … base tastes sort of people. Her eyes darted over to the chilling dolphin, as she scrunched up her nose, and muttered under her breath. “It’ll be okay, Dina, it’s just mounds of fat and water.” She said, making her resolve. What purpose was to act dignified if one was among people who could not even fathom it.

“Well, that was my original plan… but, these girls are up for a round of...K...k….Keijo.” She said, as if the barbeque was stuck in her throat. “You want to be the referee, or cheer for us?”

The mermaid's eyes widened in confusion. "Keijo? Is this some sort of game? How does one play it? I'm sorry, I am not familiar with the ways of the land. But I would love to try and participate in some way if you'd let me."

Dan splashed some of his carbonated water as he reacted to what he heard. "Did I hear that right? You girls want to play Keijo?" He turned excited in an instant. "A great idea! Let's go to the arena and have a match!" He clapped his flippers, and they were all teleported into the entrance hall of the arena; while familiar to Mika and Hilaria, it was the first that Dina had seen of the lobby. There were portals set on stone arches by the walls on the sides, a reception desk, and multiple screens showing live footage from the pool located in the center of the dome-shaped building. "So what kinda match you'd like? 1v1s among you, or a free-for-all?" The dolphin then asked, having appeared at the reception with paper forms.

Hilaria was mid-chomp when she suddenly found herself biting down on nothing, and in a new area as well. She stared at her empty hands with disappointed and sad eyes until she eventually managed to snap herself out of the depression. “Hilaria…” she sniffled. “...would like to play as a group…”

Dina looked at the stage. A mummer’s playground, it would seem, with all the lights and the cameras. “I do not mind.” She said, her ears and tail downcast. “But if you’d be so kind, milord, please don’t vanish kind Hilaria’s refreshments midway. It would look as if she is punished to partake in the game after being denied what she seems to like the most in the world.”

Dan blinked, then slapped his cheeks with his flippers. "Right! Sorry Hilaria, I got so eager I forgot. Here you go." He clapped his fins again, and now a small round table appeared floating in mid-air next to Hilaria, her pile of food including half a burger placed on it. She once again seemed delighted, and It seemed to follow her around in the lobby, but stopped as she went close to the archways. Noticing this, she proceeded to finish her food before entering, as Dan then turned his attention to the others. "So Hilaria wants a team game. How about you, Neito?"
The mermaid was still taken aback by her sudden removal from the water, and lowered her head. "Uh, I...I would wish to spectate from the water. It seems this game is about staying out of the water, which is unfortunate." Dan nodded. "Okay, you can be in the pool while the match is going on, as long as you're careful to avoid any contestants that fall in it. How about you, Mika?" He turned to the bright-eyed girl. "If you want a team game, I could arrange a 4-player match."

"If Hilarious wants a team game, I’m all for that." She looked at everyone present. "But who’s going to be the fourth person?"

“Oh, that’s simple,” Dan stated, and then lifted his flippers up. He was suddenly engulfed by blue waters that flowed upwards in a spiral pattern, until it formed into an opaque bubble that burst with sparkles. When the view cleared, the girls saw something they never would have expected; instead of the cute little dolphin, a voluptuous woman with beautiful, if strange, looks appeared in his place.

“I will be the fourth player,” Dan announced, the Lesser Force’s voice having changed to suit the new form they have taken, carrying a husky, mature tone to it. Hilaria could be seen blinky in the background. “You may call me Danalia while I assume this form.” She stretched one arm straight up using her other arm, causing the physics of gravity to set motion to certain parts of her. “It has been a while since I’ve played, so I may be a bit rusty, but I hope that we will all have a good time nonetheless. Neito can act as the referee in my stead.” The mermaid nodded, stunned into silence by her appearance. “Now then, who would like to partner with me?” She then asked, a hand confidently on her hip.

Mika walked around “Danalia” with the kind of smile she typically wore around vulnerable, clueless females.

"Well if Hilarious has no objections-"

"Yo, Mika!" Rina waived to everyone from the bleachers. "Playing Keijo again?" Her eyes swept across everyone before resting on Dina. "W-wait, there’s two cat girls now?" Rina hugged herself and sat down.

Mika’s entire head trembled as her eyes darted between Rina and Dina. But as quickly as it came, her fury subsided. The corners of her lips curled into a cute smile, and she hopped over to her hungriest companion. "Hilarious." She leaned her head against Hilaria’s arm. "Did you want to team with me? If we win, I’ll talk mommy into making us some burgers."

Hilaria thrust her arm into the sky, her pupils now stars. “Mika and Hilaria will make the best team!” she pulled Mika into her chest in a tight hug that might’ve starved the girl from oxygen. “For the burger~!”

Dina's eyes narrowed at the reveal of Dan's form, as her ears twitched slightly and her nose wrinkled, in a reflex to smell the new form. Surprising but not unexpected. She had long resigned to use her brain too much when in presence of these individuals, and simply was content with being dragged along for the ride.

Win or lose, she couldn't care less. It was more important to work out group dynamics. It was then when her head tilted sideways as she eyed the newcomer, whom she addressed with a curtsy as elegant as she could. "Pardon me, I did not expect any more girls in Lord Dan's presence. I am Dina Denisova, a pleasure to make your acquaintance. " She eventually said. "May I enquire who might you be?"

"Uh, Katarina." She put her arm behind her seat. "Everyone just calls me Rina though." she gave the cat woman a sideways glance. "You a friend of Mika?"

Danalia waved to Rina. “Ah, Katarina! Good to see you! We were about to have a Keijo match. You’re welcome to stay and spectate if you want.” She leaned over and whispered to Dina’s ear.
“She is too full of pride to admit it, but she is a skilled Keijo player. Even I was impressed with her techniques.”

Mika had been content to let Hilaria suffocate her thus far, but this was something she wouldn’t stand for. She wasn’t strong enough to pry apart Hilaria’s arms, but she could pry apart her breasts. Just barely.

"Just another girl of Dans!" she managed to say before her head was swallowed in Hilaria’s curves.

Rina shrugged her shoulders and looked back at Dina. "I’m just spectating. Don’t know Dan all that well. Mostly here for that fool of a cat girl."

"Let’s start!" Mika managed to get out before once again getting swallowed up by Hilaria.

“Oh, you silly girls~” Danalia stepped up to Mika and Hilaria, her hips having a prominent sway to them, and grabbed Mika by the scruff of her neck; like with cats, it caused a relaxing effect on Mika, causing her to loosen up, and easily detach herself from Hilaria’s bosom. She then placed Mika carefully aside, and smirked. “There, now we can start. Dina, you will be my partner. Let’s play some Keijo.” She gestured to the girls, and stepped through a portal on the side.

When the girls followed after her, they found themselves having moved into the arena itself, which was a giant circular platform the size of a basketball court floating on a pool of water that was surrounded by a dome of seats. Dina was next to Danalia on one side of the platform, while Mika and Hilaria were on the other side. Neito was already there, holding what looked like a card wrapped in plastic.
“Umm...Uh, welcome to the Keijo exhibition match, everyone.” She was reading the card.
“I hope everyone has fun regardless of winning or losing. Now then, umm....” She looked up at Danalia with an awkward expression, and the Lesser force nodded back with a thumbs up.
Neito sighed. “Ready, get set....Buttle!” She blurted out, followed by dropping the card and covering her red face with her hands. However, Danalia did not move even as the match started; she pushed up her luscious locks of hair, a confident smirk on her lips. “Remember the basics of Keijo, Dina; bend with your legs, not your back.” It seemed as if she had decided to wait for the opposition to come to her.

“Nice to meet you, Katyusha. I barely know Mika, though. First time I met her here”. Dina waved back at Rina, before getting ready for what was about to come. With a blank stare she witnessed the exchange between Mika, Hilaria and Danalia with a blank stare. “Alright.” She said to Dan. No doubt these two were trying to do the old vs the newb. Could that be considered newbie hazing? Well, this looked like the social norm. Even if she found the sport loathsome, rules were rules.

She tapped with her feet, her Reinforcement skill buffing both her and Dan as if she was no different from breathing. She even gave herself gecko pads on the soles of her feet for better traction. Swishing her tail, she tilted her head, letting a wicked forced smile pour through.”Let’s do this.”

Her eyes went towards her opponent’s...assets. Keijo was some sort of activity that involved keeping a centre of gravity and a steady footing, and only breast and hind were valid tools. The torso was more for all-out attacks, given how far it was from the centre of the body, and the butt was the main way of attacking and defending. Plus not everyone had boobs… she reminded herself . Those dancing classes she once took could prove themselves useful.

Now given their personalities, Mika was probably the one who made the most fluid attack patterns, trying to use agility and slip past someone’s stance. Hilaria seemed like a heavy hitter who would rather break someone else’s stance.

She didn’t know what to expect of Dan to be honest. Danalia seemed pretty random.

“Would you like to see my full power, my lady?” She asked Danalia.

"As long as you don't hurt them too much," Danalia answered, invigorated by Dina's magic.

“Eh~? Hurt~? You’re gonna hurt Hilaria~? Do you really believe that~?” the voluptuous ancient approached them, her sizable chest swaying from side to side as she stopped at the middle of the ring. If breasts and behind were the tools of war in Keijo, then Hilaria was outfitted enough to fight this war solo, a fact made more apparent by her deliberate, seductive movements.

"That was Danalia. Not me." Dina interjected. Danalia lifted her finger and made a shushing motion with a knowing smirk.
"Do not mind their words, Dina. Actions will speak for themselves.” Danalia now stepped slowly forth, matching Hilaria in her swagger. “Now, show me your power.”

"Sproing!" Mika hopped over Hilaria and stuck her hip out towards her. "Gimmie a boost!" Hilaria swung her hips at Mika, and when their derrieres connected, Mika was sent flying towards Danalia. She grabbed onto her own feet and allowed her buttocks to lead the charge.

But as Mika closed in on her target, her body would change. Her skin turned gray, her flesh bubbled and expanded like a chemist’s nightmare, and her form had changed to that of a Hawaiian monk seal. That was five-hundred pounds of ass flying in Danalia’s direction.

Dina looked at the exchange with wide eyes. She had not expected Mika to chase after Dan, given how much her reservations had been towards Dina. She acted quickly, as she sprinted, boosted by her reinforcement, only to perform a spagat, or split, at the last second, her centre of gravity dangerously low, and attempting to make Danalia go into a ducking position briefly.

As eager as that attack was, Mika seemed to be overcommitted when she had performed the seal butt cannon. All they needed to do was to dodge and let the sheer momentum do the rest of the job. Hilaria blinked as she wordlessly watched Mika, having come to realize the girl probably didn’t think her movement through.

Danalia had made a half-turn when Dina came in with a sliding trip, causing the blue-skinned woman to fall back, narrowly avoiding Mika’s fat ass. She caught herself with her hands, and with astounding agility performed a backflip, landing with her backside aimed at Hilaria.
“Good, good!” She then launched herself, buttocks spearheading the charge at the bustier girl.
“Such excellent teamwork from both of you!”

"Is that so~?" Hilaria seemed to disagree with Danalia's assessment, as she readied her bodacious buttocks in retaliation. A swift twirl followed by a thrust meant Hilaria was willing to face her ass to ass, in a competition of posterior prowess.

It looked like Mika was going to be an easy ring out, butt the seal wasn’t out of the match yet. Her front flippers became wings. She guided herself straight into the edge of the platform.

"Up you go!"

The impact nearly submerged Mika’s side of the platform, and when it came time for the platform to rise, it threw Mika and Dina into the air. Danielle and Hilaria were in the center of the platform, and were largely unaffected by the movement.

Mika used her momentum to flip forward, this time putting Dina in her cross hairs. The lass guided the mass of her ass of brass with no intent to pass.

"Back to earth!" Mika grinned with some sass.

Dina, as the cat girl she was, was completely comfortable with being tossed midair, her spine contorting in ways even a normal gymnastic girl would have trouble following. Of course, this meant little versus the winged seal butt dive, if not for a little detail.

Reinforcement platforms. As she was tossed she had created those in mid-air, and she just used her arms and tail to jump even further upwards at the last second, having a significantly tighter ability to change her trajectory in midair than a five hundred pound flying abomination. Her eyes were on Mika, knowing that maybe at some point she'd stop telegraphing her attacks.

When Hilaria collided with Danalia, she realized that the Lesser Force possessed great strength and formidable fortitude in her balance, equaling hers as the two locked rears.
“Oh, excellent! The lowered stance works well for your style,” Danalia commented without breaking a sweat. Her own weapon attempted to slide down to Hilaria’s legs and uproot her from her spot, but failed to do so due to the dark magical girl’s incredibly soft butt.
“But it leaves you open!”
She suddenly spun in place, causing Hilaria to move her butt past her due to the release of potential energy. At that moment, Danalia completed her spin to whip at her cheek with her boobs, her arms tucked in to flex them; it was an advanced Keijo maneuver imbued within the girls.

Hilaria’s head snapped to the side as if she had been hit with a cheeky punch, only this was much more embarrassing. She wondered how she couldn’t predict such a tried and true technique in Keijo. “Pretty good~” she replied, rubbing her reddened cheek. Danalia was clearly not one to be taken lightly with her fanny force being on the same level as Hilaria’s own. She would have to step her game up if she wanted those burgers.

And she wanted those burgers.

Danalia would find Hilaria swooping low with her chest, then transitioning into a rather straightforward attack with her rear in what some may call an ‘upperbutt’. However, after the windup of the attack, she shot with great force into the air, rear-first like some sort of cannonball, towards the airborne Dina, instead!

The Lesser Force smiled, seemingly happy with the compliment. She predicted Hilaria’s mixup, and was ready to block the upperbutt with her own bust, only to realize too late that it was a feint, as she assblasted up into the air, targeting her partner.. “Hah, I really am rusty.”

Dina’s woes would not end there. While Mika was a weighty seal, that was only under the application of her beast magic. Furthermore, Mika also had the ability to create barriers thanks to the circlet she wore.

As soon as Dina gained altitude over Mika, the cat girl reverted back to her normal form and put a barrier under herself. Seals were not very aerodynamic when they were spinning, so Mika’s air speed was low when she touched down on her own barrier. She came out of her role with a hop, springing up to meet Dina head on with her chest. Her mind was too fast for eyes. She sped on like a bullet, her arms and legs were pressed together while her chest led the way.

Dina was in a bad spot. She never liked Keijo. She was content with a token game. But they were pressing on to her. Dan was also intent that she had to play seriously. The catgirl took the blows in stride, despite how disgusting and retching those were, the womanhood of Mika colliding with her face with a wet sound as she staggered, the second cannonball hitting her in the back with force and sending her careening like a boomerang towards a ring out.

It was supposed to be my welcome party. All I wanted was to be social and relax, and you’re hazing me… with boobslaps. Her mind raced, as she was sent far away.

“Ruler’s Menagerie: Sphinx.” She whispered under her breath, just about as she was to be tossed out. Her body, not unlike Mika’s bubbled and warped.

Mighty wings that would take her aloft.

Powerful hindquarters capable of serious damage.

A front rack not unlike a battering ram.

The Dinasphinx flew almost skimming the water, right for a round two, as she stayed aloft, way higher than the two girls. “I see… you do not want to lose in front of your friend and against the new girl.”Dina said. “Still, Lord Dan’s watching… I cannot throw out this fight for you, you see.” Her sights were now on Mika… like a guided breast missile, she swooped.

Danalia smiled, impressed with Dina’s tactics. She would not let this opportunity pass by, and show the other two that ignoring her would turn out to be a mistake. When Hilaria started falling down from high altitude, Danalia jumped on the passing Sphinx Dina’s back, and propelled herself rapidly right up to the busty girl.
“Slam Dunk!” She called out, and performed a high-speed spinning butt slam right on top of Hilaria; while the dark magical girl had astounding defenses while on the ground, she was not safe from knockback while in mid-air. After her attack, she landed on Dina as the Sphinx circled around the arena.

Hilaria’s gravity specialization is what ultimately saved her from being knocked out of the ring, as she instead increased gravity’s effect on her before she could be flung too far, and even closer than that was that she almost forgot that she couldn’t touch down with anything other than her feet. “Woah~!” she gazed at the Sphinx in amazement after her near loss. “How adorable~! Can Hilaria ride you~?” she moved closer to the middle of the ring again.

"You can ride me!" Mika crawled between Hilaria’s legs. And watched her opponents swoop in. Mika looked on with giddy excitement as the sphinx threatened to bash and smother her with it’s J-sized cups. That was a lot of breast for Mika to deal with, especially being so diminutive in size.

"Alright Hilaria! For burgers!"

Mika stood up and dove towards Dina, her body shifting mid flight. This next trick was going to take a lot of mana, but it was all she could do against such powerful opponents: Give Hilaria an advantage.

The first thing Mika did was transform into an African shrewish short-tailed opossum. They were relatively modest animals in terms of size, hardly being bigger than a squirrel. But what made this humble creature valuable to Mika was that it had twenty-seven nipples. A ring of nipples with one in the center.

"Forbidden Keijo Art: Magnum Oppai!"

It was then that Mika unleashed an attack of titanic proportions. She was unable to simulate fantasy creatures, but she had recently been experimenting with grafting animal attributes on top of each other. Each of the opossum’s nipples jetted outwards and swelled as they became the breasts of a blue whale. They looked nothing like that of a human’s knockers, as they were typically “inverted.” But each one was about five feet long and weighed as much as a baby elephant. Their combined weight was almost seven tons, and it was all jetting in her opponents direction, meeting the charge head on.

It was the sort of attack few could survive taking, and even fewer could survive performing.

Dina’s temper had taken a sour dip. Why did she have to fight in a Keijo match, and why was she subject to such grossness and crass behaviour in one go? Maybe she needed not just to have contracted this fool. Dina’s swoop was broken, and she was knocked back. Knocked out of her form again.

Twice in a row, due to gross physical contact. Her stunned and mangled little form fluttered pathetically as it was sent off the platform, careening towards her knockout. Suddenly a barrier flared up, squishing her against it, but breaking her fall. “Is...this your definition of fun. Teaching newbies” She said, as the barrier broke, just a little more push for Mika’s duel with Dina to be victorious…

“Hen to Pan.” Dina said, harshly, as her descent was cut all of a sudden. Her power… oddly shrinked, and yet at the same time became much more… A gravity field as strong as Hilaria’s kept the T-posing Dina aloft preventing her from falling. Metal, like liquid mercury began to coat her, as wisps … of fire, electrical discharges and even ice danced around her.

“Full power, Lord I’ve told.” She said. Quadruple Accel. Reinforce. Metal Skin. Diamond buttock spikes. Gravitation. Her buttocks firmly planted against the whale-possum thing as she let herself to be intoxicated by the etiquette of this fight.

“Secret Keijo Art: Hypersonic Buttcheek Thunderclap.” Dina said, with the barest hint of emotion as her metallic rear slammed so hard and fast against Mika it broke the sound barrier for the briefest moment. Frazzled, and spending way too much mana, the figure of Dina had suffered yet another change.

Mika’s attack could only last for a fraction of a second before she reverted back to her normal form. Without any magical defenses to speak of, Mika’s body was hurled clear over the pool and into the bleachers, reducing the site of impact to a smoldering pile of scrap and smoke. Rina immediately ran to the crash sight.

Danalia realized that Hilaria had resisted her ring out using her magic when she saw Mika’s disturbing attack. She jumped off Dina, causing her to take the brunt of the attack.
She landed off to the side and glanced at Dina. “Are you alright?” She yelled out, worried for her.
However, that was when she saw a rainbow of light emanate around the barrier the noble catgirl had formed. And then she saw it; Dina at her full power, having unleashed her Avatar state.
She could only stare in awe at her sheer strength, and how she blew Mika far away, unfortunately past the pool of water.

For the briefest moment, Danalia contemplated ending the match then and there; she never intended the fight to get this intense. However, it would disrespect the passion and conviction these girls had put into the match. “Incredible,” she would state. Then, she noticed that Hilaria had recovered.

She was also done messing around.

Danalia, with a grim look, ran forward, her arms extended to her sides.
“Ultimate Keijo Art,” she stated, and began to spin her entire body, performing two revolutions. Her clenched buttocks began to shine with energy.


Upon the third revolution, she swung her ass, and it projected a blast of massive force; not only did it surpass Hilaria’s super soft defenses and send her off her feet, it even cracked the piece of platform Hilaria stood on, causing it to split off and collapse under the heavy girl’s weight. With a great splash, Hilaria met the cold but refreshing water.

The match had ended.

Dina did not wait until the resolution of the match. Upon seeing Mika being pushed back past the water and colliding into the much more solid bleachers, her reaction from anger went into shock almost immediately…

“Blyat!” She exclaimed, in a very exceptional bout of profanity, and still on her Avatar state, began to run towards the edge of the Pool, sinking neatly into it and then powering through underwater, emerging on the other side as she untransformed, her hair and fur damp with water.

“Nononononono. Mika! Please respond!” She said, as her legs staggered, and gritting through teeth began to use her reinforcement skills to heal the other catgirl. “I’m sorry, I really overdid it! I didn’t mean to…!” Her voice, for the very first time, was genuinely shaken at the prospect of having seriously injured someone. “Pizdets!” She cursed again.

And then, the exhaustion kicked in as she kept healing… making the usually prim and proper Dina fall sprawled on the floor, face first into the ground and ass up.

Dina opened her eyes, and realized she was moved to rest on a shaded beach chair located at the open-wall juice bar. She heard the sounds of munching, and turned her eyes to see Hilaria devouring burger after burger on a table. Mika was also resting on a beach chair, seemingly unhurt. Katarina was at her side patting her shoulder.

“Oh, you’re awake? That’s wonderful.” Dan floated up to Dina, having taken his regular appearance again. “You girls really worked yourselves to the bone in Keijo. And for such effort and dedication, I decided to reward all of you with hamburgers. Now, I have an important announcement to make.” He cleared his throat, and his squeaky voice turned a bit lower in pitch.
“All three of you will join together in a mission to defeat Justine, an evil vampire girl who is terrorizing Penrose. To do this, you will team up with a girl named Mariette.” He suddenly created an old school film projector, and showed a slide of Mariette to everyone.
‘“When the time comes, you will be summoned to her Interdimensional Home, where Justine will attack. Don’t worry, Mariette also has friends who can help you.” He then showed slides of all of Mariette’s minions. “Any questions?“

Dina raised her hand as soon as she was able to get her bearings. "Just one. Why? Lord Dan is a spirit of Joy, not War. Why we must be involved in all of this? Seems a bit more than we can chew."

“It is to protect the smiles and happiness of Penrose’s people,” Dan explained. “As Smiling Sisters, you need to prevent great tragedy from happening. And as long as Justine is on the loose, people will be hurt and die. If you can, I would prefer if you’d stop her using non-violent means...But I know far too well how stubborn some bad girls can be.”

“Hilaria knows that many like to have the fear of death beaten into them before they stop being ignorant~ As children do~” she commented casually, before returning to her burgers.

“Did that answer your question, Dina?” Dan asked, somewhat disturbed by Hilaria’s casual way of commenting something that grim.

"Somewhat." Dina's ears went low, as well as her tail. I don't like fighting, you idiot cetacean! Why do you think I considered you as a patron? [

Dan nodded. “Ok, any questions from you, Mika or Hilaria?”

“Hilaria expects the best food you can provide if it proves to be a pain~” she stated.

”Wow, she has a lot of friends.” Mika giggled. ”Does she even need us there?”

"Mika?" Rina shook her.

”Right.” The feline girl’s expression became somber. ”Um, Dan?” She looked the dolphin in the eye. ”I was going to tell you and Hilarious this after the match, but-” She hesitated. ”I can’t stay in Penrose anymore. I have to leave for a while.”

Dan’s jaw dropped literally to the floor, and his eyeballs comically expanded from sheer shock before he regained his composure by snapping his form back together in rubbery fashion. “WHAT? You want to leave Penrose?” he floated up to her, a big sweatdrop on his forehead. “Why? Did something happen?”

”I’ve been thinking about doing it for a while.” She shrugged. ”Most of the time I just make people worry about me. That and all of my friends are leaving Penrose.” She rubbed her arm. ”I still remember the day Lupa left. It hurt, but I realize now I had a choice. I could have gone with her.” She reached out and took Rina’s hand. ”But I guess It’s good I stayed, because now I can leave with Rina.”

Rina swas blushing, and trying to avoid making eye contact. "I just want to investigate Ethiopia. I told her I’d be gone for a while and that I might not come back." Her cheeks only got more red as she continued on. "…But this fool of a cat girl..."

”Besides!” Mika pointed at Dina with her entire hand. ”You have a replacement for me right here. She’s smarter than me, stronger than me, and she’s even a real cat girl.” The corners of Mika’s lips curled into a giant smile, and when she rolled back her lips, her white teeth glistened in the sun.

Dan looked mortified. "No, no, no! I never intended to replace you! I just wanted you to have more friends!" She now went over to Dina. "Look, I know we may have gone off on a bit of an uncomfortable start, but I'm sure once you get to know each other better you'll understand and appreciate one another's differences more." He lowered down to the floor. "Please Mika, don't leave us. You never made me worry until now, really! We can help you, just give us a chance!"

Hilaria's features weren't as bright as they were earlier, but she did not seem too upset at Mika's decision. She placed the half-eaten burger on the table, retrieved a notebook from the depths of her cleavage that she then tore a page out of. Hilaria would then spend a minute or so while the others spoke apparently copying something down. It was when she was done doing this that she stood up, and approached the group as Dan pleaded for Mika to stay.

"Oh, so fleeting are these encounters~ One day you're exchanging greetings, and the next, goodbyes~" She placed her notebook back into its resting place before handing Mika the piece of paper she wrote on. Mika would discover Hilaria's handwriting was absurdly good, but also various restaurants in Ethiopia, their best dish, which part they were located at, and a rank beside them, indicating which ones were her favorite. "Hilaria hasn't been there in some time~" she warned. "But if you can't make it to those, it is difficult to make bad tibs~!" she passed this information off as though it were life-altering.

Dina's eyes went briefly wide at Hilaria's outburst. How does she know that much? Does she teleport? Is she even older than me? The noble catgirl stood briefly stunned, before addressing the matter at hand.

"Your life is your life Mika, and you may choose who to spend your life with." She said. "However I am not, and never will be your replacement. After all I am a Babushka who is over a hundred years old." She added, her speech lowering her pitch a bit as she offered a token resistance to reveal her actual age. "Of course you would be lacking in experience on certain matters, but I think I can appreciate you being straightforward and bold. Most people eventually don't bother to tell." She eyed Rina. "Is this what you truly want? To elope and cut off all contact, your mother included, and live elsewhere? Or is it because you do not want to lose her again?"

Rina placed a hand on her face. "This display is so embarrassing it’s painful." She set her hand on her hip. "Look, something’s going on in Ethiopia. It’s not like she said she wants to cut off you guys, we just can’t be a plus one to Mariette’s army and investigate. Don’t you guys have her phone number?"

Mika looked between Dan and Dina before shaking her head. ”It has nothing to do with you guys. Lupa told me something before she left. She said that the more people you share your heart with, the smaller a piece everyone gets to have. I see what she was saying now.” she put her hands together. ”For a long time, I just wanted everyone to be my friend. But in trying to do that, I wasn’t a very good friend myself. I’ve made my mother and father worry, I’ve let my friends down. I don’t want to do that anymore.” She pointed at Rina with her head. ”I love my parents, I love you guys, but I’ve gotta make a hard choice and stick with it. I still wanna make the world smile, just in a different way.”

The feline magical girl scuffed up to Hilaria and took the paper from her. After a quick scan, she looked up at her colossal friend. ”You can’t remember your own name without repeating it, but you remembered this.” She closed her eyes and embraced the berzerker in a tight hug. ”It’s okay, I’ll remember you Hilaria. We’ll have a burger when I return.”

Dan began to profusely cry with puppy dog eyes, his beak having turned flaccid as it hung down the front of his face. "I guess...This is goodbye then."
He floated over to Mika and gently hugged. "I'll miss you, Mika." He also hugged Rina. "And I'll miss you too, Rina." Then he let go, and summoned what at first looked like a white towel, but turned out to be a comically oversized handkerchief. He blew his nose on it, making a car horn sound. "I know you'll make the world smile. Just don't forget the reason you do it."
All the girls present felt a slight dip in their magical reserves; just as Dan had told them, sadness and sorrow weakened his power, and in turn those of the magical girls, accentuated by him being the source of it.

Dina for the most part just shrugged. “Sometimes the heart is so big it doesn’t really matter the size of the bit you choose to share.” Dina said, tired. This was her welcome party. And now It turned into a farewell party. “Meh.” She sulked, her tail swishing as she stepped forward towards Mika. “Here’s my phone number.” The noble catgirl said, as she handed it, to Mika’s hands, before closing up and nuzzling against her neck, like a cat would do to someone they like.

Mika just programmed in her name without reacting much. Close contact never bothered the majority of Keijo players, Mika included.

“And guess you’re right, Katyusha.” Dina said. “This is a pocket dimension. It’s not like we can’t summon a portal in Ethiopia if things get too rough for you people to bear. I just wanted to make sure this child was trying to mature rather than selfishly running away.” She added.

It was Dan and Hilaria’s turn. “Hey, Lord Dan. We still haven’t said the last word about this.” Dina said, before grabbing Dan. “Don’t you have a farewell party to throw?” She paused before looking at Hilaria. “Please include Hamburgers.”

Dan wiped his tears, his eyes widened in realization. "You're right, Dina. We should celebrate all the memories we've had together, and have a farewell party!" As Dan's mood improved, so did the girls' magic. He cast a spell, and the table widened as more hamburgers were pulled, varying from small children's loaves to tall stacks with at least 3 meat patties. "Let's all have fun together, one last time!" He announced, and fireworks were shot up into the blue sky, painting it with rainbow colors.

There was a room in a cellar of a house in Penrose. Here, Mariette stood… in the midst of a brightly lit room with walls plastered with drawings for children, water-themed. There were kids having fun literally swimming with fishes, sharks not being shark-like and just looking happy hanging out with their fellow fish, random cartoonish submarines, the lot. In the midst of the underwater-themed middle of the room was a circle made for summoning, in the midst of which stood a tank filled with water. In said tank was a cartoonish animal from another world. The name unknown to Mariette, it was a yellow-blueish person-sized fish that just so happened to have the curious trait of leaving behind a rainbow of colours wherever it swam, a natural evolution to throw off predators, yet it was also supposedly interesting to look at and very colourful.

Mariette had ordered a couple of her Magical Girls to round up the materials to make this and Suzette collected the fish. Now it was simply a matter of hoping the Lesser Force she sought appreciated the gift.

‘Dan,’ Mariette called, clutching Bunny as she asked. She was just supposed to call his name, correct?

Soon after calling the Lesser Force, the aquarium filled with bubbles, only to clear as Dan appeared in the water. “Wooo-wee!” He squeaked, marvelling the sights. “What a fun fish! I’ve travelled to countless seas, yet never have I seen one with such resplendent colors.”
He then climbed up and hung on to the edge of the aquarium as he looked around himself. “Not to mention all this art! It’s just like at the beach.” He noticed Mariette, and practically leaped out of the aquarium to hug the dark magical girl, splashing her with water in the process. “Mariette! So it was you who called me; color me both surprised and impressed! This is the first time someone has put this much effort into summoning me.” He floated around her. “The last girl used a can of sardines and a pineapple. But to be fair, those were some really tasty sardines. Yum! So, did you want to make a pact with me too?”

The summoning was a success, Mariette could conclude while breathing out in relief. Now, it was just a matter of- wait, hold on, is he- Mariette’s eyes (even the one under the eyepatch) widened considerably as she saw the big dolphin leap directly for her, using her last free breath to lob Bunny to safety before she was snapped up into the Lesser Force’s soaking wet hug and she seriously thought she’d die. Turned out she did not in fact die, but her dress was drenched and she had an inconvenienced expression.

‘I… wasn’t sure how much it would take,’ Mariette admitted, feeling a bit silly that apparently that would have sufficed… ‘A-anyway, I wanted to ask you for a question and perhaps a favour,’ Mariette said, looking to him if he had anything to say before she’d go on.

Dan blinked, and realized he had turned Mariette’s clothes wet. “Whoops, sorry! I was so excited, I didn’t remember I was in an aquarium. But how to get you dry again? Oh, I know!” He summoned a giant hair dryer, but then dropped it to the floor. “No, that would mess up your beautiful hair. Or maybe-!” He then summoned a giant white towel, but dropped that as well. “Hmm...White doesn’t suit you...” It was then that he realized Mariette had asked something of him. “Oh, a favor? What did you have in mind? And you also wanted to ask something?” He continued summoning new items in a futile effort to find the perfect drying tool, and soon the floor began to clutter.

‘Indeed…’ Mariette replied with a sigh as she watched Dan pull up the weirdest selection of things. She really couldn’t keep up with this guy’s pace. ‘You once used magic to take us to a beach dimension. There, you used some form of power to prevent us from being able to leave said dimension. What was that power?’ Mariette asked.

Dan was mid-way to pulling out another strange object when he stopped, and smiled at Mariette. “Oh, that. I possess the power to destabilize a dimension’s place in the space-time continuum, basically removing it from space as you conventionally know it,” he explained in a casual manner. “It had the unfortunate effect of disrupting the flow of time, but I managed to fix that. That’s why time skipped for you girls when you left it. Uh, sorry about that, by the way. I didn’t think it was a problem as long as you girls stayed and had fun. But now I understand the responsibility I have, and the duty to bring smiles everywhere.” The item turned out to be a portable drying cabinet, which fell with a dull thud as Dan set it aside. “Hmm...Oh, this will work, 100%!” He pointed his flipper at a wall, and zapped it with a blue bolt. Then, a door formed in the spot he cast the spell. “”Let’s go to the beach dimension! Your clothes will dry up there in no time flat! Oh, and don’t worry, I won’t force you to stay anymore. You can leave any time you want.”

‘…’ What a very odd, specific power to have. For a dolphin-lesser-force focused on fun and enjoyment to have. Mariette winced when the drying cabinet appeared, and then flinched a bit as the beach dimension portal appeared. ‘I-’ Nonono. No displeasing the Lesser Force you’re going to make an outrageous request to. ‘… Okay,’ Mariette said with some hesitation, starting to head for the portal, a bit afraid of if she’d look different in there or something…

When Mariette stepped through the portal, she found herself to be in a much brighter and hotter place. The air had a faint scent of seawater from the roiling waves in the distance, and lush palm leaves shuffled in the pleasant light breeze. She had found herself back in the magical paradise that once held a group of girls prisoners. She saw that she was at the outdoor beach bar, an open-air roof providing shade from the harsh sunlight. Mariette also felt an immediate change on her person; instead of damp, cold clothes that clung to her skin, her uniform had changed to the very same swimsuit she wore during her last visit, completely devoid of moisture.

"Welcome back!" Dan cheerfully said as he appeared a couple of seconds later. "Yes, it worked! Your clothes are now dry." He squeaked happily, and sat on a stool before the counter. "Anyway, why did you wish to learn more of my powers?" A glass of juice with a straw appeared on his flipper, and he sipped on it. "Oh, you want something to drink too?"

Yupp, Mariette was afraid of this. She’d once again ended up in a swimsuit, and a really exposing one at that. Still, suppose the warmth wasn’t that bad, she thought as she portalled Bunny back into her grasp. She was a bit wary of being sunburned, though. … Well, better bite it up and go sit down at that same bar as Dan had appeared. ‘A juice, thank you,’ Mariette said, feeling a tad defeated. In any case. What she wanted to hear about his powers for…

A glass of pineapple juice, complete with a straw, appeared on the counter of the bar, and Dan picked it up, offering it to Mariette with impossible dexterity. "Here you go. It's on the house," he stated. "But still, I am very surprised that you of all people are interested in what I do," he stated afterwards, bouncing on his stool a bit.

‘I’d like you to seal a dimension for five minutes when I give the command, preferably while letting my portals be the only way in and out of the dimension,’ Mariette stated, bluntly.

Dan's beak opened wide. "What? What dimension? Is it taken?" A big droplet of sweat formed on his brow, looking befuddled. "Uh, sorry to disappoint you, but...Uh, I can only seal away a dimension that I control, you see. Uh, why did you want it sealed?"

Ouch, there was such a requirement? Mariette frowned a little, thinking maybe she’d wasted her time. Still, let’s see what he has to say. ‘My Interdimensional Home dimension. See, extremely evil vampire witch Justine von Visceral is probably going to attack me inside it. It will be a fierce battle. However, even if I win, she’ll be able to slip out through dimension-hopping as easily as, well, I can if I start to lose. In order to settle the deal, I need to create an arena where she cannot escape from…’ Mariette said, and then sighed.

‘Not exactly your typical job of spreading joy and happiness, I realize. But without Justine, it would be very much easier for the people of Penrose to be happy, I can promise,’ she then said, having prepared that angle that was sorta true ahead of time which sounded like one someone good-hearted might agree with.

Dan was taken aback but quickly drawn in by Mariette's tale, leaning on the counter with his flippers propped up as if they had elbows to lean on as he listened intently. "She sounds like a bad egg, that's for sure. Well, uh…" His beak scrunched up comedically as he thought hard. "I suppose I can do something if I am in the same dimension. Maybe not completely seal away, but perhaps distract them from escape? I am very talented when it comes to drawing attention to myself," he stated, only to blink. "But only because I want to make my audience smile."

Mariette definitely had to pause all manner of mental activity. Uh. The field Dan would be in would be a complete war-zone. There were no words to describe just how terribly his visage would clash against the area he’d be surrounded with. ‘… How do you mean? Would this distracting still work in the midst of a battle where I’m trying to defeat her?’ Mariette had to ask.

Dan also looked unsure, but he rapidly nodded in confirmation. "Sure, yeah...I think. As much as I hate violence and conflict, it's much worse to know you can't help someone in need. But I can't rest on my laurels while evil is afoot! So, I can prevent them from teleporting away and escaping. I can promise at least that much." He took Mariette's hand. "So don't be afraid. I'll be there, and you can be happy and smile again!"

This was slightly complicating the matter. Very complicated. She now had a Lesser Force that was willing to help out, but his means of helping out was… still, Mariette had to take help however she could get it. She swallowed a little and nodded, gripping the dolphin’s… grip… back where he held her hand. ‘Thank you. I’m glad to have your assistance. I’m not actually sure when Justine’s attack will be, as I don’t know her schedule, but I will have a place ready to summon you at any point when the time comes,’ she said instead.

Dan nodded, looking as serious as a cartoon ish dolphin could. "I understand. Please hold on to this." When Dan lifted his flippers from Mariette's hand, a seashell was left in her palm. It was aquamarine, with a shimmer that travelled across its surface like light refracted by the water's surface. "Hold this to your ear when you are in trouble, and I will come."

‘Ah,’ Mariette made a noise of realization as she was given the seashell. It was… it was pretty. She heard what Dan said about it, and gave him a nod. ‘I will. Thank you, again.’

Dan nodded, and took a sip from his drink. "This is all I can do right now unfortunately. If we were to form a pact, I could help you so much more. But I understand that you're happy with your current Patron, right?"

Mariette nodded slightly. ‘Yes, unfortunately. You don’t leave the charge of a Horror, and I wouldn’t want to make Asengav enraged at you. I’m not sure you’d survive that,’ she then said, unknowing of that her mind-bending made her unable to even consider the option. ‘Are there girls that have made such a pact with you?’ she then asked, sorta curious.

Dan seemed to tense up as Mariette mentioned working for a Horror. Even though it lessened as the dark magical girl changed the subject, she could still sense unease from the dolphin. “Yeah, of course. In exchange for bringing happiness and smiles to others, they get to visit this place any time they want to. And for fighting against bad guys, they can channel the ancient wisdom of Keijo masters, kicking butt with butts.” He squeaked a bit after that. “If you’re ever interested, I can form a pact with you, and you too can get to join the fun.”

Oh, he didn’t know? Hm, he could grow used to the idea. Though, what he said next was at least… mildly amusing. Not that Mariette would have much use of it. ‘Hm,’ she made a noise with the mildest of smiles. ‘If I ever find myself in a situation where I can consider it, I just might,’ she made a noncommittal answer that still hinted at maybe with no real intention of following it up.

“Uh, sure.” A big sweat drop formed on the Lesser force’s brow. “So, want another drink? We also got other flavors like strawberry and blueberry.”

‘I’ll take some strawberry, thank you,’ Mariette said, letting it get poured up before sipping some. Yeah, it was a really sweet taste, nothing that Asengav ever procured for her. ‘Would these girls be interested in helping fend off an evil vampire, as well?’ Mariette asked, just in case.

Dan blinked, but then put a flipper to his chin. "Would they?" He rubbed his chin. "Wait, does that matter if I want them to help? Yeah, they can help. Let's work together to defeat this vampire. Then we can save so many smiles!" He sipped on his drink. "This is good timing as well, since I plan on hosting a welcoming party to our newest member. I can give them the assignment there without much hassle."

‘Indeed, we can,’ Mariette made herself give a first of those smiles they’d save as she lifted her drink to him. ‘I look forward to working together, then. I’ll have trapped my mansion to help defeat the attackers, but I will guide everyone so we use them against our foes rather than get caught in them ourselves. I’ll get the keys to enter my mansion safely ready, how many do you need? I’ve also established a partnership with Vermillion Veronica for this mission, who has offered to equip my girls in exchange for… something, perhaps. Now, Veronica is apparently also a vampire, but a way more agreeable than Justine, that’s for sure. I could send your girls along to get equipped with artifacts, too?’ Mariette suggested.

Dan's eyes sparkled, and he squeaked from joy. "Ah, the pure smile of a magical girl. There is nothing better in this world." He listened to the explanation silently, and then nodded at her statement about the keys. "Four,” he answered. “I’d like to have one for myself, and three for my Smiling Sisters." He gasped at the mention of the other vampire, but sighed in relief at Mariette's assurance. "Ooh, you have artifacts. The girls love artifacts! Please do!"

Looked like smiling worked. The dolphin’s carrots were easy to give, if a little embarrassing. ‘Good. I’ll need a means to get into contact with them, then, unless I should be using the shell for it,’ Mariette said, about the equipping the girls with items.

Dan nodded. “The shell will call them too, so no need to worry about that. Once they arrive they can then be equipped and so on. If you want to, you can do so in advance, and I can return them back here.”

Mariette nodded. ‘Aside from that, there’s a matter of…’ she was then about to say, when she turned around to look at where she’d come from because…

‘Er, hi, mistress!’ Eli called from the other side of the portal. She wasn’t alone. ‘Since, uh, the rest of the troops have been sorta exhausting themselves preparing for the attack, they were wondering-’

‘Could we have a slight, brief, actual, voluntary vacation in the beach dimension?’ Victoria asked, somewhat eager. Also there was Mayra marvelling in amazement over how sticking her arm through the portal made it turn from dragon to human, an inconvenienced Taihei who’d been made to take a break by Josefin who’d made sure she got here, Tullia looking a bit nervous about being chewed out for being here behind Victoria, Jelena here with a handheld gaming device ready, Freya looking a bit embarrassed to have been dragged along and then Ronja and Suzette behind them looking just mostly amused at the crowd. Oh, and Esther, standing like a tree behind them for some reason.

Mariette looked at them, sighed a little, and then turned to Dan. ‘… Would you allow my girls a brief vacation here?’

Dan was silent, his jaw having dropped to the ground upon seeing the crowd of girls on the other side of the portal. “Of course, of course! Come one, come all!” He bounced over to the portal, and using magic lifted the portal with his flippers as if it was a giant plate.
“No need to be shy, just jump in!” He said, and angled the portal downwards, causing the girls on the other side to fall as if the gravity at their side had turned sideways towards the portal. However, instead of falling down into the beach dimension, they found themselves sliding on a blue waterslide that extended from the bottom of the portal, sending them out of the juice bar and onto the hot dunes of the beach. Mariette also saw that much like what happened with her and Mayra experimented, their outfits turned into swimsuits upon passing through, some of them assuming more humanoid forms to accommodate them.
“Welcome back, everyone!” Dan floated up to them. “Let me know if you have any questions, and have fun!”

There were some cries of excitement (Mayra, Victoria, Jelena), slight distress (Tullia) and amazement (Eli, Josefin), those holding it in (Freya, Taihei, Esther…?) and those just laughing (Suzette) or giggling (Ronja) about it as Dan had them slide down the waterslide and to the beach. They were immediately put into their various swimsuits again,

before they were finally deposited on the beach. It took a while as they were readjusting to being back on the beach, but eventually numerous of them started playing off in the water again (Victoria, Tullia, Suzette, Esther pulled along), some started looking after the sports equipment to start doing sports (Mayra, Jelena, Eli, Freya), others were simply chilling about, relaxing during the break in the sand (Taihei, making an advanced sandcastle with Josefin looking on happily, before they both suddenly had to stand in defense of the sandcastle as Taihei’s bad luck assaulted it with waves, crabs, meteors and stray volleyballs… and then Ronja, casually weaving on the side), but otherwise simply having fun.

Mariette thanked Dan for allowing her girls to relax here, and then simply took it easy at the bar for a bit. Even a horror-girl could use a break, you know.
The Great Penrose Movie Marathon

Lily arrived carrying a yellow backpack and two plastic bags brimming with junk food and soda cans. Behind her were Alex and Shane, whom she had invited along.

"Hi Sakura and Emily! She greeted the two. ”You know Alex already, but this is Shane; he's a friend.” She lifted her bags up.
"Should I bring these to the living room, or do we stash in the kitchen and retrieve from there?"
Depending on the answer, she would bring the snacks to the appropriate place; these included bags of cheetos, chips, marshmallows, gummi bears, and packs of Coca-Cola and Mountain Dew.
”So what kind of movie are we gonna watch? I hope it's not a scary movie; I don't do those well.”

It had been a couple of days since the rave, and Lily had gradually recovered from her mental exhaustion. She was still sad and depressed, but at least she now had the courage to walk outside. She had seen the news covering cases of vandalism and murder, but it was but a glimpse into the magical unrest that now plagued the wintry city. She sighed, and leaned against the railing of her balcony, reminiscing about an encounter she and Alex had before the rave.

Are they magical girls, or are they witches? Not knowing was part of Rockstar’s appeal.

Witches and rock-stars had been on a bit of a decline over the past few months. Recently Endsinger had been silenced, and a few months ago Beacon visited a cathedral that a coven called home. Not even a minute after their arrival and the coven was scattered. Even the cathedral was left in shambles. Not a good day for witches at all. Admit it, if you came back to Penrose after a long vacation, only to find Beacon chased out your coven and destroyed your home, you’d be pissed too. It was only a matter of time before they destroyed the rest of Penrose.

And the Rockstars had every intention of beating them to the punch. They had to practice their music anyway. It wouldn’t be fair to test their tunes against an unstable building. Nope. If your tunes can’t ruin a perfectly good home in one blow, you’re probably out of practice.

But hey, destroying abandoned malls was a fun warm up.

The old mall growled as it was shaken on it’s foundation, causing Lily’s motorcycle to tremble before it jumped off an uplifted concrete slab serving as an impromptu ramp.
She landed to a half-circle skid, and exhaled a breath of wonder.

”Geez...This mall has seen better days.” She stood up from the motorcycle, and gave a thumbs up to Alex, letting the motorcycle collapse into a ball of lightning once Alex had exited the vehicle. The two of them could hear the wild laughter of the rock-star witches from within the mall. ”And if Ixion is right, the source of the tremors are a pair of witches.” She summoned her bow, and twirled an arrow between her fingers.
”Are you ready, Alex? We might need to ‘rock out’ this time, tee hee~”

Alexander flicked Lily on the forehead “Boo, that was a horrible pun. Bad Lily.” He then sighed “Still...none of this makes much sense; it sounds like they’re the only ones in why are they making such a racket? On top of that, how are they making actual tremors with just music? If this is the kind of mess they can cause when they’re just messing around, I’m kind of worried about the destruction they can cause when they’re actually trying to kill someone.

Lily yelped from the flick, and giggled in embarrassment as she held a hand on her head.
"Maybe, but that was stone cold of you, Alex." She then listened as Alex spoke, moving forward with her bow out and an arrow nocked.
"Yeah, they're not any mundane musicians, that's for sure. We need to stop them before they decide to start their tour of destruction."
Once again, she took the lead, making sure Alex stayed behind as they traversed through the mangled mall in search of the wicked witches.

Due to the extremely loud noise, Alexander was hesitant to boost his senses. Enhanced hearing would just deafen him, and he was afraid what other enhanced senses would pick up. So he let Lily take point, as she had better ranged capabilities (and most likely better reflexes). “You still got that ring on you? You’re such a crazy driver that I’m worried it might have gotten lost during one of your stunts, and I really don’t want to have to make another one.

As the case usually is for run-down malls, it was dark. There was no power, and there didn’t appear to be any skylights. The witches did get louder though. Their laughter having been replaced by AFI’s Miss Murder. The music itself didn’t sound particularly loud, at least not loud enough to bring down a mall.

Though Lily wasn't a Light specialist, she intensified the electric bowstring of her weapon to illuminate their immediate surroundings. She considered firing electric arrows that would burst with discharges, but she decided it would be a bit too wasteful. She also believed that Alex would detect any danger with his acute senses.

Alexander could feel some dust land on his shoulder. It was difficult to discern with the music playing, but he could hear a support structure crack overhead. Something was falling towards them.

Fuck!” Alexander cursed as he realized what was going on. Not willing to waste any time when he didn’t know how much he had, he held Lily in place “Incoming!” and put a barrier around them. It was once their defenses were up that he allowed himself to look up to see what was coming at them.

Thanks to Lily’s bow, Alexander could identify the giant concrete slab coming at them. It was so robust that when it landed on Alexander’s shield, it only cracked. Metal re-bar held the chunk in place, and only a few pebbles managed to break free. Such mundane dangers were hardly a match for Alexander’s shields.

Despite looking like she was wary of any surprises, Lily was still startled by Alex's touch. She aimed her bow up, and screamed as she saw the slab shatter against the barrier.
"Aaa! That scared me." She turned to Alex with a nervous look.
"Th-thanks, Alex. You saved me from becoming a pancake, with butter on top."

Once Lily’s bow glowed at maximum brightness, the two could make out a directory map in the center of the isle. There were hundreds of stores, from a D&D mini shop to a laser tag adventure. It seemed the entrance they took wasn’t too far away from the indoor plaza. Aside from being filled with a lot of shut down eateries, there was a stage mapped out for community events. The path ahead would sweep to the right and lead directly into the plaza.

Lily swept her index finger on the dusty map, drawing a circle around the plaza.
"They must be here; musicians always go up on the stage. But...Maybe we could actually catch them by surprise this time."

She turned to Alex, her eyes bright with an idea.
"What if we split up? You could try going up to a higher floor and see if you can get above the stage. I would wait for your signal over by the entrance to the plaza, peeking behind the corner. Since they're playing music, we might actually get the drop on them."
She looked at her bow.
"I want to make up for the lich fight and actually fight smart."

Alexander shrugged “Eh, it sounds workable.” He made the barrier slowly expand until it pushed off the debris on top of it. Once that was clear, he dropped the barrier and began climbing to the ceiling, using his enhanced jumping powers, and barrier platforms. Once he was as high up as he could get, he made a barrier walkway straight to the stage, to get over them. He then checked to see if they had noticed him at all, and to make sure that Lily was in position.

The Plaza was a giant open space that went right to the ceiling of the mall. Unlike the hallway, the plaza had a canvas top that let diffused sunlight through. All the shops looked dark, and giant stalagmites poked up from the ground here and there, often through broken floor tiles. A fountain had once been the centerpiece of the plaza, but it had been ruined, and the pool below was filled with more stone than coins. The balcony that overlooked the plaza had seen better days, but might be able to support someone if they were careful. Two pairs of escalators lead up to them from where Lily and Alexander entered the room.

”The stars that pierce the sky!”

”He left them all behind!”

”And how his children cried!”

”He left us all behind!”

Far to the back of the plaza, was one of the witches. She wore a black dress that had a low cut in the front, and a large arch that almost left the entirety of her back bare. Her emerald hair bounced with every swing of her drumsticks. She was surrounded on nearly all sides by her drum kit, which looked to be made of volcanic glass. Any time she struck a drum, it briefly pulsed with green light before going dim again. Much like Lily had anticipated, she was playing on the stage.

The guitarist didn’t seem to be present, and the acoustics of the mall didn’t give any help in locating them by sound. But they had to be close.

Lily waited until she no longer heard Alex's movements, and then moved up against the corner, peeking into the plaza. She raised an eyebrow upon seeing only one of the witches on stage. "Huh? Where's the other one?" She quietly mumbled to herself, and saw that Alex was in position. She gave a quick thumbs up to him. Letting him know she was ready to dash in there. Then she drew her bow, preparing for a power shot, charging electrical energy into her arrow.

After seeing Lily’s thumbs up, Alexander nodded and jumped down. In mid fall, he surrounded himself in a large barrier. He hit the stage with a mighty crash, and the barrier vanished seconds after that “You know, I was working on some clever quip to break out...but fuck it, I’m just going to beat you up. Do you have any idea how much trouble you’ve been causing?

The green haired witch ceased her playing. She didn’t look surprised, but the displeasure was evident in her scowl. ”Not the best time to stage dive, kid.”

A stalagmite just off the edge of the stage exploded, showering the boy with stones. That alone wouldn’t have done much to Alexander, but the emerging guitarist was another story. Her blue twin tails flickered like a flame as she cruised through the air. A single swing of her guitar was enough to knock Alexander onto his back, at which point she landed on his chest and rode him to a halt at the other side of the stage. Once the dust settled, they could see that the guitarist was also a fan of wearing black. But she wore less outlandish clothes. Just a black hoodie with shorts. Though her hoody wasn’t zipped up, revealing her bikini top. One breast had “ROCK” printed across it in big white letters, while the other one had a star design printed on it.

”Rocked by a shooting star.” She grinned.

The green haired witch tapped one of her drums, and a stone shackles emerged around Alexander’s wrists and ankles. ”There’s the quip you were looking for.” The drummer turned in her seat to look at Alexander. ”I like to focus on my music, but it’s hard not to notice someone trying to walk across the ceiling.” She folded her arms. ”So what were you saying? Something about beating us up? Did you bring anyone to help you with that?”

At that moment, a brightly glowing arrow was launched, hitting the central big drum, followed by a great discharge of electricity.

"He brought his girlfriend!"
Lily announced, having run the entire distance across the plaza shortly after her shot landed. She had morphed the weapon into a staff, and let loose with a flashy bolt of lightning, aimed to hit the both of them in a line if possible to cause them to scatter. She then followed this up with jumping and weaving, drawing attention away from Alex.

"The only stars you'll become are twinkling ones when I blow you away!"

With their two opponents distracted, Alexander was able to shake off the shackles before they closed around him. He then flared his Beast magic, and his helmet cracked open as his now long hair exploded out of it, while his clothes also changed. “What she said!” He brandished both his wand, and his new sword, as he charged at the blue haired witch, refreshing his forcefield as he did.

Lily’s arrow may have struck the drums and exploded, but the drum kit was still in one piece. It didn’t even budge, being that the entire kit was rooted directly into a giant stone. It had managed to startle the witches though, to the point that the drummer nearly abandoned her drum kit.

Alexander had little trouble standing up. Witches don’t weigh very much, and neither do rock stars. The guitarist stumbled off of Alexander and raised her ax to brace for his incoming blow. The fight had begun in earnest, and the rock stars were done warming up.

The drummer had just enough time to rake her drumsticks across several symbols. This caused the Drummer and her drums to be elevated by a giant stone pillar, denying Lily her shot. Then she did a drum roll that caused the pillar to launch a flurry of spikes in Lily’s direction.

She knew she was at a disadvantage at range, as her lightning attacks would be easily mitigated by any stone defenses the witch might conjure up. However, Lily had a plan. She responded to the spike projectiles by performing a 780-degree backflip to dodge them, and landed her feet against the vertical section of the second floor, using that as a platform to spring herself further up towards the green witch, running the rest of the way up the stone pillar. Then, once she reached the top, she performed a time-accelerated spinning kick towards the witch, aiming to knock her off the drum set.

Lily’s speed was enough to keep her out of the path of the stone spikes, but the drummer was aware she was trying to get close. She dropped her drumstick across her symbols , causing spikes to jet out of the top of the pillaf, barring lily’s advance. Then she activated the kick pedal, which made a deep bass sound and detonated the top of the pillar. The wall Lily was trying to run up was broken into large chunks and shoved towards the wall. Meanwhile, the drummer and her kit was thrown into the air, where it looked like it would descend on the other side of the plaza.
"Oof!" Lily exclaimed as the pillar erupted in spines, causing a couple of the rocks to graze her. Using her time magic to slow her fall, she avoided slamming against the west wall, and turned to see the boulder heading at her. She bit her lip, but realized it was a feint made to catch Alex. She didn't expect the girls to be so agile considering the type of magic they utilized, but that meant she had to begin suppressing their movements. She took a deep breath, and began shooting arrows that moved curiously slow. She strafed as she made these slow shots, charging them with her time magic. Soon the witches would realize the trick to her seemingly useless attacks; the arrows were enchanted to turn back in time once they pierced a solid target, shooting again from where they first moved, accelerating with every iteration. Lily's plan was to surround the entire plaza with these arrows, and force the witches to slow down lest they get shot from every direction. However, the plaza was not a small space, and Lily’s spell was complex. It would take her some time to fire enough arrows to lock down the witch’s location, and the arrows would only eat up more mana as time went on. It was quite the gambit, but it might work.

Alex and the guitarist had been at it too. After getting shoved back, The guitarist rolled their neck until it cracked. ”Girlfriend huh?” The guitarist rolled her shoulder in her socket. ”Don’t suppose you’re into partner swapping?” Stone bracers appeared on both of her arms before she charged towards Alexander.

The Guitarist's question caught Alexander off guard “Partner swapping? Wait, are you saying you want to fight her instead of me?” Shaking off his confusion, he charged to meet his opponent, blade ready, with his rod in his off hand, prepared to strike when their initial blows had been made.

”Fight? In the bedroom maybe.” As the drummer passed overhead, she struck a single drum. Before Alexander and the guitarist could collide, She hopped into the air and a stone boulder flew under her legs and smashed into Alexander’s shield with enough force to break it. Since Alex was prepared for a blow, he was able to hit the boulder and roll it away before it caused him any harm. Apparently the drummer had managed to fire it from the pillar her drum kit had been previously attached to. ”Then again, I think Vanessa is into smarter guys!” The guitarist landed on the boulder and started to run away from Alexander, but given that she was on top of a boulder, that just caused it to pick up speed and carry the guitarist towards Him.

Alexander was shocked “wait...what!? You’re actually flirting with people you just met, who are trying to beat you up!? I didn’t think you were that crazy.” He made a barrier ramp over him, that would send the incoming boulder over him and into the air “Also, ‘bedroom’, really? Isn’t that a little soon?” He noticed Lily’s slow moving arrows and sighed mentally ‘[color=aba000]I really[/i]hope you’ve got some kind of plan there Lily, because those don’t look like they’re going to hit anyone[/i][/color]’

The guitarist wasn’t watching where they were going, so they didn’t even notice they were going up a ramp until it was too late. ”What the helllllllllllll-” The boulder soared through the air before crashing into the ground, throwing the guitarist towards Vanessa. All the drummer had to do was extend her arms to catch the guitarist bridal style.

”Are you alright, Jessica?” The drummer raised an eyebrow.

”That guy’s shields are as dense as his skull!” She pointed at Alexander.

”I’ll have to soften it up later.” Vanessa looked at Lily, who was continuing her strategy. She was about half way done with the first floor. ”Let’s focus her down first. She might be easier.”

”Hell yea!” Jessica hopped out of Vanessa’s arms and hung off the side of the drum kit.

Venessa stomped on her kick pedal, and the drum kit was once again launched into the air. She brought her drumsticks down on a symbol, then beat away on her drums. A stalagmite rose up between lily and Alexander and grew stone spikes, acting as a barrier.

Using barrier platforms, Alexander was able to get over the stone wall and into the air. Spotting the drummer girl, he made one more barrier to launch himself off as he rocketed to her like a ballistic grumpy missile. While in mid flight, he covered himself in a more aerodynamic cone shaped barrier ‘

While the drum kit was still in the air, Jessica kicked off and flew towards Lily. She had enough momentum that she could run along the wall. Jessica held her guitar behind her back, ready for a mighty swing.

Lily hoped that the girls ignored her by purposefully slowing her projectiles in order to set her technique into motion, but it seemed she didn’t have the luxury, quickly changing their minds after the drummer caught Jessica. But then, as she reeled back the name she heard in her mind, she lifted an eyebrow.
"Jessica...Have I...Heard that name before?"
Then, as the guitarist came in for the swing, and Lily saw a particular sticker on the guitar, Lily realized it.
She transformed her bow into a staff to block the attack, but Jessica was stronger, and slammed her right in the chest, causing her to recoil in pain.
"Jessica and Vanessa! I..Ugh...remember now!" She cartwheeled to avoid the following attack, and afterwards prepared to continue evasive maneuvers, shooting lightning bolts to keep her away, also looking out for the drummer’s advance.
"Do you remember me? I’m Lily Hanson, the girl from school!"
Even if it seemed hopeless, she would still try to reach out to them.

Wait, what did Lily say? Does she actually know these two?’ Alexander wondered, having only caught bits and pieces of what she said.


Jessica ceased her swinging, allowing Lily to get a bit of distance. ”Really? You were a frickin’ magical girl?”

Lily nodded to confirm Jessica’s question, hoping that they would be willing to talk now instead of trying to kill them.

Vanessa landed just a few feet behind the guitarist. ”This doesn’t change much, does it? They came here to stop us.”

”I guess.” Jessica noticed the slow arrows were quite close to her now, and decided to swing her ax at them. At which point they restarted, traveling a bit faster now. Even if Lily was only able to do half of the lower floor, it was still enough to eventually turn the lower floor into a death trap. The rock stars seemed to notice this. Jessica groaned. ”Maybe we can capture them?”

”We can try. No promises.” Vanessa turned just in time to see Alexander headed straight for her. She immediately banged out an improv tune that threw several pillars up in front of herself, while the ground beneath Lily attempted to shackle her feet.

The guitarist was approaching Lily, but more cautiously this time. She held her ax with one hand, and her other hand appeared to be holding a pair of stone handcuffs. ”Don’t knock ‘em until you’ve tried ‘em. That’s all I’m going to say!” Her footsteps became faster, and the restarting arrows had almost hit them again.

Turns out, her wish came true...But not in a way she wanted, as she heard the two mentioning the possibility of capture. Having already seen how they could mold the earth to catch Alex, she predicted the wobbling ground beneath her to attempt the same, and jumped to avoid the shackles.

"Why are you doing this?" She asked. "Music is supposed to be a gift to share with others, not used for destruction and vandalism." She turned her weapon into a bow, and pulled out two arrows; she deftly aimed them in a way that would allow her to shoot both witches simultaneously. She would release the arrows the moment either one of them would do anything aggressive or approach her.

"If you want to vent your frustrations, there’s so many better ways to do it! Now stop, or we won’t hold back!"
It was her last attempt to end the fight peacefully. That was as much as she owed to the twins who reached out to her in the past.

Alexander, who heard everything clearly this time, crashed through the chunk of stone in his way, but was slightly thrown off by it and missed his target. He dismissed his barrier and began to talk “Wait, I’m confused; are we fighting or not? We were told that there were a couple of witches causing trouble here, and we came to clear them out...but you two seem to actually know Lily, and even go to the same school as her. So…?

Vanessa had been startled by Alexander’s sudden appearance, but wasn’t about to stop her performance. She raked her drumsticks across the symbols before slamming them into one of her drums. Her drum kit had been walled off from all the incoming arrows, and a pillar shot out from behind Lily and intercepted her mid-air. Before Vanessa could retaliate against Alexander, he brought the back of his hand across her face, throwing her over the drum kit and into the stone barrier she made. The rockstars might have quick reaction times and hardy defenses, but the drummer herself did not inherit the sturdy quality of her specialization. She rebounded off the wall before collapsing on her drum kit, her arms and legs hanging off the drums. The drums sticks rolled out of Vanessa’s hands as she made an anguished moan.

Lily was able to fire at Jessica, but the sudden hit from behind threw off her aim. One of her arrows grazed the guitarist’s cheek, while the other one found its way into her femur. Jessica grit her teeth, and fell to one knee. Before Lily fell onto the ground, stone-like tendrils emerged from the earth and caught her, only to coil around her limbs. Jessica and Lily were below the incoming arrows, which were on their third pass through the Plaza. Forth, fifth...

”Lily, I play music for one reason, and one reason only.” She dropped the shackles and stroked Lily’s face as more stony appendages wrapped around the lightning girl. ”To express myself artistically. If the world wasn’t so destructive, I wouldn’t be so destructive.” Jessica batted Lily’s weapon out of her hand, which skidded across the floor. ”I’m going to deal with your boyfriend, then we can talk as much as you like.” Jessica turned around and walked towards Alexander. She remained crouched, as the arrows overhead were moving fast enough to cause her harm. This prevented Jessica from taking advantage of her superior running speed. Lily’s strategy seemed to be working.

Lily’s head hung low, her eyes shaded by her hair. She visibly trembled, still bound by the rings of stone.
" your reason? Just because something’s gone wrong, you have to make it worse? Just because of that, you’d spread chaos even further?" She grit her teeth, and then lifted her eyes up to her; they burned with rage.
"That...That’s just an excuse! A weak reason to do terrible things! You don’t have any passion for music, no artistic value! You only care about how to use your music! To hurt others!" Her eyes developed a ring of Roman numbers that circled her whites, counting up to twelve. "I’ll never forgive...Girls like you!"
Clock hands then formed, and they turned back a full revolution. At that moment, Lily disappeared, causing the rocky bonds to fall and crumble.
Jessica then heard the furious girl’s voice above her; she had moved her body back in time to the point she launched herself off the wall. Her body had grown taller and more defined, and her hair grew long, currents of electricity zapping across the strands as if she was rapidly aged to a woman in her thirties; a new form of Monstrous Metamorphosis, now also warped by her Time-magic instead of only Lightning.
Instead of before, when she was moving higher up, she had lifted her staff in a double-handed grip; it crackled and glowed with a great yellow light. She swung the staff down, and an axe-blade of brilliantly shining lightning formed, the edge of the blade sharpened to single electrons; it was a Killing Blow capable of splitting matter at the subatomic level.


A yellow light, and once it faded Lilly collapsed to the floor, bruising and scraping herself upon scattered rubble strewn all over the place. Lily’s time arrows had vanished along with her magical girl outfit. After such an outburst Lily was both physically and mentally exhausted she collapsed to one knee, panting, her glasses askew on her face.

”You don’t really think that’s true, do you Lily?” Jessica seemed to have rolled out of the way of the attack, as there was a perfect scorch mark to her right where the blow had landed. ”I’ve fantasized about going on a date with you. Even after I heard you had a boyfriend I still dreamed about stealing you away.” Blood oozed out of Jessica’s shoulder. ”But magical girl life is complicated. You end up spending most of your time doing the bidding of your patron, if only because you’re scared of them. And when that thing you obsess about vanishes for a few months, well…” She lowered her head. ”I guess we’re not going to get to talk after all. But it was nice to see you again.” Jessica collapsed, as her arm and leg separated from her body. The battle was over.

Alexander let out a sigh “Well that was way more awkward and dramatic then I expected.” He walked up the fallen Jessica and kelt down by her. Then, one by one, he reattached her limbs with healing magic. Once she was in one piece again, he walked over to Lily and helped her to her feat “Can you stand on your own?

"I-I can, just let me...there."
Lily stumbled back up, wincing a bit from the pain on her knees and elbows from the scrapes she got. She also felt exhausted, shaking a bit as she leaned on Alex for support. She looked at Vanessa, and spoke quietly.
"I should have known...I had the chance to help them, but I didn’t. They had no friends, nobody to tell them right from wrong."
Though Jessica was back in one piece, the pool of blood around her was a reminder of the wrath that led her to commit such a grisly act. She dropped to her knees, holding her face in her hands.
"It’s all my fault. I wasn’t the friend they needed, I was always so distracted, I..." Tears began flowing from under her palms. After a short moment, she wiped her cheeks.
"Maybe...Alicia can help them. Purifying them wouldn’t hurt, right Alex?"
She looked up at him with wet eyes; her glasses were still crooked.

Alexander shook his head“Not hurt, per say, but it might feel disorientating if they’re corrupted enough.

”Would that really do anything?” Vanessa was still hanging off of her drum kit. ”I appreciate your attempt to spare us, but being a group of angry witches is just a rumor. We are Mint agents.” She closed her eyes with a sigh. ”I doubt they will forgive our failure here.”

Lily was startled by Vanessa's voice, and hid behind Alex.
"Yiih! You’re still conscious?!"
But it seemed she wasn’t in fighting condition, and Lily gradually lifted herself up to meet her eyes.
"Wait, did you say Mint? I...I think I’ve heard of them before." She adjusted her glasses.
"Wasn’t Mrs. Veronica an ex-member, or something? So they must be a bad group. Why would you work for people who want you to destroy stuff?" She asked, wanting to learn more.

A better question is; what was your job?” Alexander spoke up “I thought you both were just messing around, but you just said that you ‘failed’ here. What exactly did you ‘fail’ to do? Because what little I know about the Mint is that they’re basically a capitalist cult, and random destruction doesn’t seem very profitable to me.

Vanessa’s eyes moved onto Alex. ”Pardon the brief summary, but my head is pounding right now.” She winced. ”The Mint has complex motivations. Nothing they do is ever straight forward. They’ll tell you to call up a pub to complain about a pizza, and somehow that will factor into a suicide bombing at city hall.” The drummer closed her eyes. ”Naturally, we are not told why we do these things. For all I know, you stopping us could have been part of their plans all along. If you’re here, you’re not somewhere else. Regardless if our failure was predetermined or not, the Mint is surely running out of uses for us.” Vanessa looked to Lily. ”As for the ‘why’, Jessica said it herself. We feared the Mint. They beat us, slew our puchuu, and our options were to convert or die. I do not pretend to be a brave person.” She seemed to briefly lose conscientiousness before forcing herself awake. ”I am aware of our situation, and I do not pretend that you two owe us anything. I will cooperate with anything you want us to do, and I’m sure Jessica will agree. If you want this ‘Alicia’ to purify us, we can do that. But then we’re going to need employment. Someone who isn’t afraid of taking on two former Mint agents.”

Lily sighed, having managed to calm down.
"I see…" She held her arm, looking aside.
"But, even so...Don't worry, okay? Alicia told me that these White Coins the Beacon uses can replace your old Patron's magic with theirs. They're not some crazy inquisition like everyone thinks they are. If you go to them, they will save you from the Mint." She sniffed, and went over to take Vanessa's hand, helping her up to sit.
"I promise you. So please, give them a chance."

With a groan, Vanessa sat up. ”Are you sure?”

Alexander nodded “The local Beacon has mellowed out a lot. If you go to them, tell them your story, and then ask to join up, as long as you play by their rules, you should be fine. It’s the out of towners that you have to be worried about; these ‘Ascendancy’ people. They are basicly a magical inquisition. But if you join Beacon, and don’t look like monster girls, then they should ignore you. Honestly, if you want to get away from Beacon, then they are a really good bet. Since I really doubt that the Mint is willing to start a war with Beacon over you two, no offense.

Vanessa stared off into space, not making eye contact with either Lily or Alexander. ”If this Beacon is as benevolent as you believe, then we can cast our lot in with them.”

A shuffling sound had everyone turning towards Jessica. It seemed that she had woken up. She forced herself onto her knees and looked at her hands. ”No way.” she grabbed her shoulder. ”My past was flashing before my eyes I should be dead!” She chuckled. ”Some emo rock band we turned out to-” Her eyes locked on Vanessa and Lily’s hand, which were still locked together. ”Hey!”

”Tch!” Vanessa released Lily’s hand. ”How much of the conversation did you hear?”

”All of it.”

The drummer placed her hand under her chin. ”And does that sound good with you?”

With a sigh, Jessica looked at the ground. ”Beats what we’ve been doing. Doesn’t seem like we have much of a future otherwise.” She shrugged her shoulders. ”I’ll be really sad if we have to turn into a Christian rock band though.”

Lily gave a wary smile as she put her phone to her ear.
”Well, I don’t know if they care about your style of music, heh...”
After a moment of talking, Lily put the phone back in her pocket, and addressed the rock girls.
”I explained the situation to Alicia. She said she’ll send Beacon girls with White Coins here. We can, uh...Keep you company while you wait.”
She glanced towards Alex, hoping he’d agree with her.

Alexander shrugged at Lily’s glance and sat down on a barrier he just made.

”Umm...I know we just fought...And I...Said some hurtful things...Did hurtful things...” She bit her lip hard.
”I’m sorry. I hope that someday, we can be friends again.”

Vanessa sighed. ”I’m sure it’s going to be fine.”

”Just make sure you visit us, okay?” Jessica looked at the pool of blood she was kneeling in. ”Is that my blood? How am I even alive?”

No one would notice, but they were being watched. An individual cloaked in magic pulled his head away from a slit in the canvis top of the mall.

”It would seem both of our plans worked.”

With a wave of his hand, Vermin Killer’s magical cloak dissipated. Contrary to what many might think, the Mint cared a great deal more about their members than most. People were a resource, and even the less useful ones still had a use. That was why entering into their ranks was so easy. Best case scenario, your new talent turns out to be pretty good. Worst case scenario, you ended up with weaker girls who could at least act as a distraction. And even if you were to die, you’d come back ready to serve a few decades later. No, the Mint was a loving group that could never forget anyone who served them.

Even if the rock stars were no longer affiliated with Mint, they still had a debt to pay. And it was just like Al said: everyone paid up eventually.

”Ciao, friends.”

With a snap of his fingers, Vermin Killer dispersed into a flock of crows.

One day, Reaver got a message from Al, calling him in to report. Much like the last time, he arrived at the monochrome jazz club through a portal situated in one of the dark corners of Penrose.
However, upon arrival, he would immediately realize it wasn’t just the two of them there, as a third person had also taken a seat there; it was Justine von Visceral, her leg crossed over the other in a most striking fashion as she swished a round glass of liquid on her palm. She had a curious look in her eyes as she examined the Mint agent.

“Ah, Reaver, just in time,” Al greeted him, showing off his sharp teeth as he smiled. “You’ve made splash in the sea. The magical underground is full of news of Cindy’s morte.”
“He was the assassin? Oh my~” Justine responded, sounding genuinely surprised.
Al extended a shadowy hand to grab a bottle of wine, and poured it into a glass. “Oh, this is Justine von Visceral, one of our newest clients. Don’t mind her. Now, tell me all about it, peguci.”

Reaver would compose himself, despite being jaded and tired, and then offered his best curtsy to the new acquaintance, followed by a kiss on her hand. Vampire. He had heard these lot used to be big in old fashion and manners. "Pleased to meet you, milady. Your presence upon this place shines like a ruby upon ash."

He then cleared his throat and straightened himself. "It was a sloppy, difficult affair. I had to do my utmost best to satisfy the other… issue a colleague tasked me with while at the same time dealing with my own hit. However, it seems that one can't breathe in this city without being interfered with. No less than three groups stood in the way. Cradle, Beacon and a lot of sycophants… each one trying to be the big damn hero of their own tale. Someone even summoned an Horror avatar. Lady Chloe was nowhere to be seen, and Lady Viper sustained wounds. I barely managed to get the killing blow by playing the tide of battle and people against each other. " He said, sounding really tired. "I apologize for this sloppy endeavour. Both Cindy and the Cardinal were hit, and Cindy left no corpse, as you have asked."

Justine’s eyes glimmered as Reaver greeted her in a dashing manner, her smile showing two fangs poking out. “Oh ho hoo, and a gentleman to boot. Aren’t you a darling little man~”
Al pushed the filled glass, sliding it over the table; it continued sliding steadily in the air until it stopped to hover before Reaver, allowing him to take it. Al then leaned back on his chair, holding his cigar as he listened to the dark magical boy’s story. “Hmm...Your story checks out. I heard from little birds that a Horror did pop out at the park and plenty of punks got involved, not to mention Viper’s injury. Very messy.” Al had a frown on his face...Until it turned into a big smile.

“But despite all the challenges, you pulled through, peguci. A lesser man would have given up, but you finished the job. And here at Mint, we recognize a man who brings results. The Mint always collects...But the Mint always pays.”
He extended his arm out with the palm down, and Magical Coins popped out one by one, each one stacking down on the previous one until they formed a pillar of money. Reaver counted the stack to include standard mission reward of two Silver coins and 3 Bronze coins. However, there were also extra Gold Coins and Silver Coins in the stack, 2 and 2 each in total.
“Here. Indennità, for job well done.”

"Thank you, capo… I shall accept this gracefully." Reaver said. He was far too jaded to think whether this was enough or not. It was blood money anyway, and he did not have a good rapport enough for haggling. The coins vanished in thin air as he addressed Al. "Is Lady Viper doing well? And courtesies aside, our honored guest does have something to do with my next assignment I presume?" He said after taking a sip of the wine.

“She has recovered,” Al stated with a more subdued tone. “We provided her with a new arm. She is back to working.” He then gestured to Justine. “Miss Visceral here is planning on striking back against an enemy of hers. I believe that is why you wanted him?”
He asked. Justine responded with a devious smile.

“I am currently planning to strike back at a certain witch. Her name is Mariette Pedersen.” She changed her crossed leg.
“She is a servant of a Horror, and destroyed the city of Penrose with monsters. I want to see her squirm-” She suddenly lifted up her leg, nearly kicking Reaver in the face with a bright red high-heel shoe.
“-under my heel. But I would like to have a bodyguard for the visit. I know better than to underestimate my foes, and she is a devious one, with plenty of magical girls at her beck and call.”

Al puffed a smoke as Justine lowered her leg down..
“But you’re jobbing with Beacon on this driveby, correct?” He stated.
“Reaver here is in bad blood with the popo. They wouldn’t work with him just because you vouch for him.”

Justine snapped her eyelashes at him with an annoyed look.
“So what? A daring man such as him wouldn’t be afraid of some lanternheads, aren’t you?” She gave a sweet look at Reaver. Al on the other hand shook his head.

“I am only afraid of not dying a glorious death. Whether it’s under a pretty lady’s heel or caked in blood of my enemies, it matters little to me.” Reaver smiled, his eyes beaming back at Justine.

“Can you give us a moment? I’d like to make facts straight with him.”

“Suit yourself~” Justine answered, and stood up from her seat, walking over to marvel at a collection of various vinyls and other paraphernalia in a corner of the bar.

Al turned his attention to Reaver.

“Peguci, you a good man. You get the job done, I like you. So you’ll get to make a choice. See, Visceral’s gonna pull some heat off from Penrose for this sting, see? So you got an opportunity to hit the Sanctuary.” He spread a map over his desk, and sprinkled ash on a red circle painted around a spot.
“Get in, smash the place up with some girls, paint the town red, just like promised. And you’ll get another bonus. But you gotta make the call, peguci. Do you want the money-” He said as he rubbed his thumb and index finger together, “-or the boot?”

Reaver rested his chin upon his own fist, pondering. “There’s no easy solution. Justine is lovely. But the thrill of battle…” He shook his head. “...I have come to realize I’m just a weak warrior on these last days. I was a middle fish in a small pond… This opportunity you bring might as well get me killed due to overconfidence.” Reaver admitted, before clenching his fist.

“Then again… who wants to live forever? Is it not what the Allfather teaches, than even gods must meet the end in a battle? As much as an important person miss Von Visceral is… I am not going to hide under skirts.” Reaver said, psyching himself up. “I will paint the town red.”

Al took Reaver’s hand in a firm handshake.

“Very good. Don’t overdo it, but good luck with your battles.”

Justine then returned.
“So? What have you fine gentlemen decided?” She asked coyly, to which Al shook his head.

“Very sorry, ma’m; Reaver here has got another job. But don’t worry, I’ll get someone else for you as bodyguard.”

Justine lifted the back of her hand to her brow in a dramatic fashion.
“Ah, so disappointing. Oh well, I suppose you’ll find someone who’d better appreciate a little pain~”

She then began to leave. But as she passed by Reaver, she placed a hand on her shoulder; her nails extended, subtly puncturing his skin.

“But if you change your mind...Call me.”
He felt her writing something on him in his blood, before she nonchalantly lifted her claws off him and stepped outside the door, turning one last time to wink at the two before leaving.

Al leaned back on his chair, and puffed out a big ring of smoke.
“You gotta watch your back with these broads. You give e’m an inch, they’ll suck your blood dry and leave you a husk.”

“We all have to die sometime, capo. It’s better to die in a way you like.” Reaver sighed as he looked at what Justine had written. “Hm. I think you could’ve haggled a better price for me… get some more resources. More’s the pity.” He admitted.

“Desires is what controls people. Get a hold of someone’s deepest desire, and they will be led by the nose.” He coughed as he typed the number and added it to his contact list. “Hm, I assume I will be the leader of this operation? Could I get some briefing on my colleagues? Plus the usual briefing on the hit and possible opponents.”

“Ajna’s going to be leading this run,” Al stated. “She prefers to use her sword over her Spirit magic, but she's pretty good at using it. She personally requested she lead this operation, and she’s serious about it. Probably a grudge. As for others-”

Al took out a notebook.

“We got a few regular agents with Stone and Sound magic, and a rookie with Beast magic.” He put the book down.
“No particular hits here. Just get in there and wreck the place up. If you want, you can collect fingers if you’re paranoid about the kill count, but we’ll know if you did your job or not. Opponents are going to be dark and monster girls, with maybe a couple magicals mixed in. There’s a lot of them, but the place is in chaos, so you can hit them hard. Oh, there is one gal you should watch for.”

He threw a photo on the desk like a playing card.

“Penny’s the new boss, and she’s a goddamn Terminator. Sound, Metal and Lightning, and she also has some acid or glue weaponry. Lots of heat packed into one box. If you see her coming, you either hit her with all that you got, or you run.”

“Mmm, so I am just one blade more. Feels a bit understaffed. I’d not underestimate what people can do…” He paused for a second. ”That’s not right. Penny used to be a whiny bitch of Chloe. Has she taken this abandonment issue harder than me?” He asked, puzzled.

Al nodded, and grit his teeth. “I’ve got reports that she’s done experiments with her soul. She’s a messed up gal, in more ways than one. A lot of girls get pazza if they lose what they love, capische? Better make sure what you love is something you don’t lose.”

“Hmm. Spirit might be her weak point then. No amount of ordinance can shoot soul attacks, and if she’s that messed up… her ego could crumble easily.” Reaver added. “A pity we’re enemies. Those legs were lovely.” He sighed. “Alright, I guess that’s it.” He paused. “Stay sharp, Capo. I think I should take my leave now.”

He waved back as Reaver returned to the world of color.
“Good luck, peguci. May the enemies of the Mint fear our name.”
Freetime/timeskip has begun. It will last IC as long as people need for their hunts, collabs, and short-term plans. If no time is requested, it will last a week. Note that OOC it probably takes 2-3 weeks.

Lily quietly listened as Alex shared his own views on what it meant to be a Mahou, occasionally nodding to the points he made, and she averted her eyes when he brought her up. She knew Alex long enough to know he wasn’t sugarcoating his words just to cheer her up, but nonetheless she felt her cheeks starting to glow.

”A hero? Me?”
She asked, and bit her bottom lip, her hands gripping her knees.
”I’m not a hero. A real magical girl would have saved those girls. She wouldn’t have lost her friend like that.” She felt Alex’ hand on her head, but it didn’t seem to help as she lowered her head; a new wave of tears began.
”I’m a sham! A fake! A...failure...”

But then, Lily felt something soft and fluffy surround her, embracing her. She stopped her sobs with a stuttered breath, and realized that Alex used his tails to comfort her.
She lifted a hesitant hand, and touched the warm fur; it reminded of her last moments with Ixion.
She remembered how Ixion wasn’t disappointed with her; he was proud of her. And that was why he chose to save her.

”Alex...” She quietly spoke, having closed her eyes as she laid her head on his lap.
”Thank you...For being here for me...” She whispered. Then, she simply stayed there, for hours upon hours. Even after Alex would release his tails, she would still stay there through the night, not sleeping, but reminiscing on the times she had with Ixion. It would take time for her broken heart to heal, and Lily knew she had to face this loss by properly grieving. After all, she had made a promise with Ixion that she would move forward, and to do so without any regrets. She didn’t know how, but she would find a way.

Alex did know how to make bridges, so that would definitely help, she thought as she fell asleep.

Rachel lifted her hammer, and delivered it down on Eden as she was pinned down by ranged attacks by Alicia and Sophia, expecting to crush her into a pancake. But when she lifted the hammer, there was no sign of the P.I executive in the cracked concrete. When she looked up, it was already too late; she had flown up, and blended in with the night sky, having disappeared. “YOU COWARD!” Rachel screamed, shaking her hammer.
“Come back here, you craven witch!” Her frustrated yells did not receive a reply, and she sighed heavily; she took her glasses, and wiped blood off them with a handkerchief in a silent moment.
“...Alicia,” she finally stated, turning towards the Paladin Seraph.
“Call in a squad and secure the club. Search through the place for any clues the P.I might have left. Don’t engage enemies unless necessary,” she added with a disgusted tone. “After that you’ll prepare to intercept any rioters reporting in from HQ.” She put a hand to her ear. “Leena,resume retrieving the corpses-”
“It’s gone, Inquisitor,” Leena responded. “The ghost ship had left.”
Rachel grit her teeth, and activated a homing beacon. “In that case we’re retreating! I will retrieve our fallen sisters if it’s the last thing I do!”
She gave one final fingerpoint to the rest. “The time of your Reckoning is nigh, sinners! I’ll be back!” And so, Rachel and Elora teleported away.

Helga wasn’t initially interested in Askefye, as she seemed like your average battlemonger by first appearance. She had seen plenty of them in her time as a rogue monster girl, and she liked their company; they were the least likely to stab you in the back and sell you out to Beacon, like what happened a couple of times, even if it did mean an occasional brawl over what food tasted the best or what hat went best with that dress. She was surprised by her declining the sparring offer, however, and it made her realize there was more to the high-temperature gal than her explosive exterior seemed to suggest. She seemed very tsundere, which amused the toothy monster girl to no end.

“We’ll see you there, Asskefyerhot,” she responded, holding back a giggle from blurting out the childish nickname. She turned to Su, and gave her a sharp-pointed thumbs-up. “Glorious success.” When the group reached the shop, Helga held one of her arms straight up in the air, and stretched it by hooking the other arm behind it. “MAN, I’ve heard of trashing the set, but that was ridiculous! Whoever came up with all BS is one screwball.” She then smiled at Su’s suggestion, and took her hand. “Sure thing, Su-Gar. Heh, get it? Cause you’re a sugar?”
She smiled, though it quickly faded. “Okay, I’m tired, so my puns are getting stale. Let’s check the place out. I heard there’s some cool sights.”

And so, the night of terror came to its end, and morning arrived; as gloomy as the night before, but nonetheless brighter in feel and atmosphere. For the following days, while the most offensive riots were quickly contained by Beacon, general unrest spread across the city.
Corrupted girls who steadfastly believed in Cindy’s power became disillusioned after her passing, and many of them left the Sanctuary to seek better ground. Some gathered at the Golden Trove, having heard from the place from Helga at the rave and seeing advertisements on Glimmr. Others decided to hold out within the Sanctuary, having thrown their lot in with Penny as the successor. A lot of them decided to go out on their own, no longer able to trust in their fellow magical girl. However, most of them went to the Mint, motivated by their fear for Beacon and the promise of sanctuary that Mint offered behind their contracts. And so the mysterious organization’s power grew within Penrose at an astounding rate.


“...Yes. The numbers have picked up, as planned. Red Nest has agreed to continue cooperation with us for the time being; they have smelled the slave smuggling trade, and come for the pickings. But they are pretty picky, so no pecking them too much.”

In a monochrome office, Al Scarpe was talking on an old-fashioned handle telephone, a cigar spewing smoke on the table. “...No, they’re still around, hasslin’ the joints. The hit failed. But good news is, they’ve cut down on the raids in favor of the riots.”
After listening for a bit, he grit his teeth. “...Still work in progress. I know for a fact she still has goons snoopin the block. It’s only a matter of time before she slips up.”
Another moment of listening on the phone. “Got it. See ya on the flipside.”
He waited for a moment, and slammed the phone down. “Stronzos.”

He lifted up a lid on the desk; it opened up into a computer interface, with a screen under the lid. “I get the coin, they whine and moan about the broad. No surprise,” the Coin Broker mumbled, when he happened upon a single message.

He squinted, and took a puff of smoke.

“...Well, this is interesting.”

It was a cold and windy night at the rooftop of the Penrose cathedral. Once, it was the lair of Justine von Visceral, but now, it was but a mortal shrine of worship. Justine observed the mass that was held there for the few who clung to faith, her crimson eyes apathetically glancing over the crowd from an open window. The priest delivered a sermon, and began leading the others in hymn. She listened to the song, seemingly reminiscing about something far in the past.

“Faith, huh...”

She then felt a magical presence. Her fangs glistened in the moonlight, and she turned. She curtsied.

“Ah, it is my pleasure to finally meet you...Mister Scarpe.”

The tall shadow that stood on the far side of the rooftop moved, revealing an arm holding a ruby-coated lighter. He lit up a cigar, and took a puff of smoke; despite the winds around him, the smoke was not disturbed in the slightest.

“I would be surprised by how you managed to find my business number...But then I remember...Visceral.” Al grumbled, biting his cigar. “You cost us lot of money with your little plant, winged rat. You gonna pay up?”
As he said that, his shadow seemed to stretch menacingly towards Justine. But the monster girl only kept smiling.

“I admit I set certain things into motion that I did not fully predict. But in a way, it was also a blessing. After all, I exposed a vulnerability in your information network, didn’t I?”

The shadow stopped stretching just before Justine, and Al’s muscular form rose up from it, towering over the short girl.
“A wise gal, eh? You think I’m gonna buy that?”

Justine rolled her eyes.
“I suppose not. But I do have something else...Something I believe you would be very interested in buying.”

As she said that, she snapped her fingers, and Sonia teleported in, holding the hand of a certain girl whom Al Scarpe recognized; Betty, as expressionless as a pristine doll. However, the Coin Broker did not show any reaction.

“Well now...One of Veronica’s broads.” He approached the girl, and lifted her chin with his hand; the brainwashed girl did not react. “O’l V’s a real tunnel treader. How you get your hands on her goon?”

Justine gave a little laugh.
“Oh, she practically offered her to me, it was that easy. Anyway, I would be willing to return her back to you in exchange for some...Assistance with a little project of mine.”

Al dropped his hand, and took a new puff of smoke. “What kind of assistance? Cold hard cash?”

Justine shook her head.
“No, nothing so mundane.” Her eyes flashed red, and a sinister grin emerged.
“I want information; more specifically the location of a certain hideout. One that belongs to Mariette Pedersen, the Reflective Witch. Also, I would like to rent some agents for an itsy-bitsy raid there.”

Al began laughing so hard he coughed, causing inky black smoke to escape from his mouth.
“You jokin’, lady? You think dirty deeds are done dirt cheap? Raiding a sub-dimension, let alone one so close to a Horror is expensive, capische? One broad ain’t enough to cover that kind of bill.”

Justine made an exasperated sigh.
“Well, what If I told you I could offer you more of Veronica’s girls?” She gestured to Sonia, who bowed in a polite maid-like fashion with her hands tucked before her.
“Delivery would be a simple thing with Sonia’s teleporting powers. Also, I have a little secret to share.” She came closer to Al Scarpe, and placed a hand on his chest, lightly moving it around in a seductive manner.
“You see, I have convinced the buffoons of Beacon to assist me. They will be occupied by the raid at the exact time I tell them to.” She smiled sweetly.
“Now, who would benefit from that kind of knowledge, hmm?”

Al took the cigar from his mouth, and tapped on it, causing some umbral ash to fall on top of Justine’s tiny hat, to her faintly hidden displeasure. “Now you’re talkin’. With the lantern heads out of commission, we could conduct some important business.” He chuckled. “You’se a shrewd woman, Visceral. We could use someone like you in the familia.”

Justine’s red nails suddenly extended, and she stepped back, seeming offended.
“Don’t get ahead of yourself, now. I’m not interested in your magical mafia, only the services that it provides.”
Al tipped his fedora. “Comprende, m’lady. I’ll arrange the Red Nest to assist you for operation.” He offered his arm to her. “How about we continue this discussion in my office? I don’t care much for the weather up here.”

Justine took his arm like a proper lady, and smiled.
“Very well then. Glad to be making business with you~”

Lily did not speak a word as Alex brought her back home; she hadn’t summoned her motorcycle as usual, looking into the distance in a daze of sorts. Even stranger was when she was greeted by the various pets who showed their affection to her, not petting a single one of them. It was only when she reached the familiar, safe space of the couch, that reality came crashing down on her.

And she started uncontrollably crying, holding her face with her hands.
”Alex, I...Ixion is gone!”
She finally managed to blurt out. Before Alex could do anything else, she had wrapped her arms around him, crying into his chest.
”I tried those girls...But I messed up...And Ixion protected me...Now he’s...He’s...”
Her sobs continued for a while, until they quieted down into pathetic whimpers. She released him, and wiped her face with her arm. Still, her eyes were red from the numerous tears. Her lips trembled as she finally spoke again:

”Alex...I...What are we fighting for?”

The Inquisitor scoffed at Eden, her hammer held tightly in her grip. “You are in no position to bargain, witch! Atone for your sins!” She screamed, and turned her hammer upside down, planting it down with explosive force as she cast a spell of Reinforcement. "Viribus Excelsior!" Her eyes and glasses glowed with radiant light, and her hair floated behind her, shimmering slightly. Most noticeably, her form seemed to somewhat thicken, her muscle density having increased. "I will end your malice in a single blow! Raaaaagh!" She kicked off the floor of the warehouse with explosive force, heading towards Eden with the hammer raised; she could tell her power had grown to a fearsome degree.

Helga nodded as Su made her speech, and waved at Askefye. “Yeah. If you want to do some friendly sparring, I’m always up for a scrap, hah. But be warned; I won’t go easy on you.” She added, hoping that her offer for battling would intrigue the gung-ho girl.
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