Avatar of Ariamis


Recent Statuses

5 yrs ago
Current For some reason Discord is acting up.
5 yrs ago
Ended up sick, trying to respond once I get better.


User has no bio, yet

Most Recent Posts

Lily was curious about MDP’s mention of Nykannis, and the bad experience that Ronin had having met the mad scientist. Something bugged her about it, until she remembered.
”But weren’t those cyborg girls that suddenly appeared and helped us at Bolorton Nykannis’ friends?” She pointed to Penmtius-04.
”She can’t be a bad person if she wants to help! At least, not like what you think, Ronin. It might have been a misunderstanding.”

The moment Connie opened the entrance to her Interdimensional Home, everyone in the meeting walked inside. However, Lily turned upon seeing Justine return.
”So how did it go? Where’s Alex?” She asked, and Justine responded by shrugging her shoulders with lifted arms and a shaking head.
”Alex wanted to stay and chat with the merchant. She’s harmless."
As she passed by, she nudged Lily’s shoulder, but she stayed still.
”What are you waiting for, Lily? The meeting’s going to continue."
Lily bit her lip, and noticed as Sonia had teleported back in; she followed the others at a brisk pace through the portal.
”B-But…Alex…” She looked on into the distance, slightly extending her hand forward, before she retreated. It was embarrassing, but she had become dependent on her reliable and cool boyfriend always being there with her. It had become second nature for her to turn and laugh whenever she felt happy, or hold his hand whenever she felt nervous or anxious without even thinking. She truly loved him in those silly ways.

But now it was Justine who took her hand.
”It’s fine, you two lovebirds can be separated for a minute," she said in an exasperated tone.
”Besides, maybe he wants to be alone right now…" She added with an understanding smile. Lily blinked back, looking confused.
”Uhh…Well, if you’re sure, Justy. If it’s just for a moment…”
She stopped resisting, and let Justine drag her through the portal to Connie’s place.
It’s not like anything bad will happen the moment we’re separated, right?

While Lily remembered having seen the apartment before during the Christmas Party, her eyes widened upon seeing all the cute plushies that filled the floors and walls of Connie’s magical apartment, having forgotten how many there were. It was like a girl’s dream come true. But then, Lily gasped as portals with hands appeared, and grabbed the plushies rapidly, until they ended up in one mountain of stuffed toys, with Mariette poking out the top of it. Lily squeed at the sight, and hugged the person next to her.
”Ahh, it’s so cute! Alex, I want plushies too-!" She realized too late that it was not Alex, but Pentius-04 that she was hugging. She giggled awkwardly, and let go.
”Oh, whoops! It’s just, I thought Alex was there…"
She turned red in the face, and instead turned to Connie, who offered catering for the meeting.
”I-If it's not too much trouble, maybe some pepperoni pizza? A-And some popcorn, hamburgers, and kebab, and ice cream, maybe some soft drinks. But only if you can!"
From out of nowhere, Lily’s desired edibles appeared in her hands, causing her to gasp in surprise.
”Thank you, Connie!" She spoke in the midst of biting on a burger.

“I would like some beer,” Nefer asked with a cheeky smile, and sat with a crossed leg on the nearest sofa as a glass appeared on her hand, with Akhenaten sitting next to her with such force that it nearly caused the other sitters to launch into the ceiling.

Satisfied with the food she received, Lily settled in and listened as Penny disclosed valuable information. When Penny looked into her eyes, Lily noticed that her phone activated, and gasped upon looking at the document that she received on it.
Her finger shook as she used it to scroll through the contents. She didn’t understand most of the technical details behind the information, but she stopped when she got to the personnel files.
Various names and titles were presented, alongside profile pictures:

Name: Marquis Harry Lagomar.
Title: Minister of External Affairs.
Code Name: March Hare.

Name: Doctor Mathias Hatwington.
Title: Minister of Research and Development.
Code Name: Mad Hatter.

Name: Viscountess Absolem Blue
Title: Minister of Mysteries
Code Name: Caterpillar

Name: Countess Gilda Lionheart
Title: Minister of Defence
Code Name: Gryphon

Name: Duchess Jam Tomorrow
Title: Minister of Internal Affairs
Code Name: White Queen

And finally, Lily’s eyes happened upon the root of the evil looming over them:

Name: Iracebeth of Crims.
Title: Most High, Mighty and Illustrious; Red Queen of Justice; Knightess of the Most Noble Order of the Heart; Knightess of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Storyslayer; Member of the Order of Accomplishment; Knightess Grand Circle of the Royal Wonderlandian Order upon whom had been conferred the Royal Wonderlandian Chain; Grand Mistress and Knightess Grand Circle of the Most Excellent Order of Wonderland; Honourable Head of Council; Lady High Admiral of the Wonderland Navy; Admiral of the Royal Fleet; Field Marshal in the Royal Army; Marshal of the Royal Air Force; Defender of the Faith-Freed; Sovereign of the Most Noble Order of Alice Seekers; Goddess Ever-Queen of Wonderland.
Code Name: Queen of Hearts.

Lily’s eyes began spinning upon reading the full title of the Queen. How could one be so pompous and full of themselves? It even made Justine look humble, and SHE was a big braggart back in the day. Lily continued listening as Mariette and the others proposed a pre-emptive strike against Wonderland in the form of sabotaging their Conjuration Eggs, and she raised a hand in agreement.
”Hear, hear! We’ve gone on journeys to other worlds before, we can do it again!”

Lily continued eating silently as Nykannis made an appearance again: this time she seemed more abrasive than before. Did something happen, Lily wondered. Nonetheless, she was happy to hear that the mad scientist was willing to help with the Penrose protection plan, though she did wonder what her unnamed price was. Well, she figured that since MDP trusts her, she should too.
She giggled when Ronin called her a tsundere, and pat Ronin’s head.

”You need to be patient with tsunderes, you know. They need to accept their feelings before they open up and accept friendship. But don’t you worry, Kannis! I’ll wait for you as long as it takes for us to be friends.” She said to Pentius-04, knowing that she will receive the message.

Justine was the next one to speak.
”Anyway, I’m also voting for a direct assault: it beats waiting around and hoping for the best. But do we have a way to protect ourselves from the mind-bending effects of Wonderland that Mariette mentioned?" She asked while sitting on a bookshelf away from the crowded floor of the apartment. She looked at the eyepatched girl covered in plushies with concern.
”Even if it’s slow-acting, there is a risk we may succumb to the Queen’s influence if we linger too long in that plane. I have experience in mind-controlling magic, so I could develop preventative measures, but that would take time. Also, if there’s multiple supposed locations for the eggs, should we try to split up for each location?"

“It’s got some nice range, so you wouldn’t have to be that close to use it,” the street vendor answered Alex. “It refills batteries it charges, and itself takes in sunlight to charge itself. It’s better than mundane-made external batteries, I assure you.”
Once the two of them were alone, she looked around nervously, and then took a step closer to Alex, before she whispered in her ear: “Is it really you, Alex?” She asked, and then managed a nervous smile. “It’s me, Brittany. Sorry for the disguise. Ever since a couple days ago, I’ve had this feeling like I’m being watched. Now, when you’re in this business long enough, you develop a nose for danger. So, I’ve taken to selling my wares in disguise.”
As Alex listened, he watched as snowflakes kept floating down from the sky. Some were quite pretty, and some were less so. But there was one snowflake which seemed odd, and it floated down from…Was it behind Brittany’s basket? And it looked odd for a snowflake…
“Uhh, Alex?” Brittany called out to Alex.
“You’re still going to buy the Lightning Stone, right? Or would you like something else? I got other stones too.” She reached her hand into the basket, and as it swung, another snowflake dropped. Now Alex saw that it didn’t come from behind the basket, but underneath it. As he watched the snowflake drop, he saw that there were legs and arms attached to it…

Brittany let out a pained voice just as she lit a match, and Alex’ eyes jumped up to see one of the snowflakes on her neck, stinging her with what looked like a tiny syringe. Now Alex realized what was so strange about the snowflakes: they were actually very tiny people wearing snowflake costumes!
However, that revelation came too late, as Alex now felt a sting in his own neck too: one of the tiny snowflake people had got to him too. Alex felt his whole body turn heavier as exhaustion suddenly overtook him: his mind felt like it was stuffed full of cotton, and his eyelids weighed like lead. Just as Brittany had fallen down, so did Alex, both of them lying face to face on the cold, snowy ground of the park.
Brittany only managed a faint smile as she held onto the match for as long as she could, before it fell out of her fingers, extinguishing itself in the snow. As she did, Alex’ eyes finally closed, and he fell into a deep sleep.

Alex didn’t know how much time had passed or where he ended up once he woke up.
However, what he did know was the feeling of lethargy, a side-effect of the sedative.
He saw that he was in a prison cell in what looked like a dungeon, gray rectangular stones making up the construction of his surroundings. There was a barred window: looking out from it, Alex saw that he was in a different world. It was daytime in a fairytale-like world of wonder, with a smiling sun, and singing clouds and trees, and merry people down below, dancing and singing as they went on with their lives. It was quite a contrast to the gloomy prison he was currently in. Based on his location, he seemed to be somewhere high like in a tower, or something similar.

The moment Alex attempted to use magic, he noticed something glowing near his hands, and looked down to see manacles made of white stone, with blue runic engravings running around them. They prevented him from transforming, or from using his magic.
“Alex? Are you there?” He heard Brittany’s voice from the prison cell right next to his, and saw her hand wave out past the bars: she also had the magic-nullifying manacle on her wrist.
“Looks like we got ourselves in quite a pickle, huh?” She attempted to joke, but in truth she was shivering from fear.
“Just my luck, huh…”
She then blinked.
“I hear footsteps…Someone’s coming here.”

Warren saw how Al gave her a toothy smile in response to both her enthusiasm and Chloe’s agreement to onboard the agent.
“That’s the kind of go-getter attitude we love to see. I can see a bright future for you two here, mark my words.” He threw a smartphone to Warren.
“Burner phone for calls: get in touch if you need help. But it’s enchanted to combust if compromised, so keep that in mind.”

Afterwards, Al was less happy as Chloe gave out a report on the conditions her proposed deal would have. Al occasionally grunted as he listened and typed out something on an old-fashioned typewriter, printing the words to a golden paper. He grimaced when Chloe showed the final conditions laid by Penny. “Of course she would ask that…”
As Al wrote, he shook his head at Chloe’s suggestion.
“Would make a selling headliner, but that ain’t the scoop, kid. You see, the little birds have told me that one of Wonderland’s officers disappeared on the day they muscled in on the farmers outside Penrose. Then came some rumors from Sanctuary, and that’s when the full picture formed: it turned out that Penny was at the scene, and carpet-rolled her. Probably squeezed her of all the talk she’s worth before sending her to sleep with the fishes.”

Finally, he stopped writing, and looked at the contract.
“I can make this work. Truth be told, the deal went better than I expected. We got to pick the location, after all, and I bought some land to set up a new entertainment center. Real nice, with all that gacha nonsense the kids are crazy about these days. All it takes for those dopes is some pretty faces, and they’ll sink coins like nothing. Plus, with that shipment having gotten out as scheduled...We could go with a live streaming idol unit too…push merch… ” He mumbled as he nodded to himself.
“Well done, Chloe.” Al added a signature to the paper before the typewriter shot it out, and floated down to Chloe’s hand.
“This is now ready. Once you get that signed, there’s a glass of brandy waiting for you,” he added with a chuckle.

Lily smiled as both MDP and Ronin gave positive answers, and when Mariette affirmed her desire to live, but quickly bit her lip as Chloe gave what seemed to be her final words before leaving the meeting, leaving a bitter taste in her mouth. Of course, she knew none of this was her fault, that it was something more personal between Penny and Chloe, but she couldn’t help but let herself share in the woe.
”I’m looking forward to it, then,” she said, and gave a little thumbs up to Ronin before sighing. She looked around, having only now fully realized that Alex had gone to see the new arrival at the park. She took a step in their direction, but then realized if she was to walk there, she would reveal the location of the meeting to the outsider. Having remembered Mariette’s words, she fidgeted in place.

She saw as Nefer’s device had formed more cracks, and seemed to be turning yellow, and then orange in color.
“Wherever you decide to go, we gotta go there quick before our cover is blown~” She mused out loud over the wheezing and clanging noises of the device, having brought out a set of magical engineering tools and attempted keeping the Artifact operational past its limits. Lily opened her mouth, about to speak when suddenly Connie gave a suggestion. The green-haired girl’s eyes sparked at the idea. At first, she considered the Beacon community center, but she figured an Interdimensional Home would be a safe bet, and wouldn’t require much preparation. She also felt bad for Connie, and figured she'd need a boost in self-esteem. She gave a thumbs up and a smile to Connie.
”Let’s go to Connie’s place, everyone! First one to make a gate wins!" She shouted, gradually gaining her enthusiasm back despite the impending loss of their cloaking.

The street vendor gave a bright smile as Alex asked about her wares. “They do all kinds of things. Let’s see…” She started digging through her basket, and brought out various items on display, one at a time. The first was a tiny green see-through stone with yellow electricity slightly crackling inside. “This Lightning Stone allows you to power any electrical appliances you have, wherever you are. No connection needed, and for only the cheap, cheap price of a single Bronze Coin.” Next she brought out what looked like a handheld magical device with antenna-like prongs and an LCD display. “I also have a Skyline Detector on Sale: using this, you can detect moving objects above you, with a guaranteed distance of 100 meters. This one is a bit pricier at two Bronze Coins, but it’s a bargain, I assure you.”

Then she brought out a vial with black, smoky liquid inside.
“Oh, this is a special product. This is Emulsified Dissidence, magical liquid that transforms into concealing dark smoke when opened or cracked. The smoke not only inhibits magical senses and perception, but also cloaks the user in an illusory disguise. Very useful when escaping in a crowded area. And since it is so special, it doesn’t come cheap at 2 Silver Coins.” She then dug around her basket some more. “I also have elemental grenades, weapons, guns, Perk-granting Coins, whistles, dresses, plushies…” She kept going on and on about her seemingly endless supply of items on sale.

Justine, however, was getting tired of it.
”She seems harmless. Well, I’ll be going back to the meeting, Alex."
Justine then turned and began to walk in the direction of the cloaked area where the rest were located at, leaving Alex alone with the vendor.

Warren had heard of Penrose a couple of times during her stay in New York; she had heard the rumors of the place being cursed, haunted by demons and disasters. However, seeing the place was completely different. The streets had people, but there were few voices and noises as they carried off, almost as if they wished to seek shelter. It was as if the locals lived more superstitious lives, a sign that the Masquerade was thinner here. Many buildings were under renovation, with carpenters rubbing their hands from the cold as they worked long shifts into the night. There was life in the city, but it wasn’t as lively like back home.

Of course, Warren wasn’t here for mere sightseeing, and so she headed into a shadowed alley.
Her instructions were, as was the norm for the Ebon Mint, complex and convoluted. She had to pass through a couple of secret passages to ensure she wasn’t followed, and give the proper signs before the stone wall of an inconspicuous building opened, revealing a black portal that led into a monochrome world of black and white: Al Scarpe’s office. The office looked like an old-timey club from a time long past, with a smoky atmosphere and dim lights that illuminated the pool table, the bar, and of course, the Coin Broker’s own table. The man was imposing even while sitting down, with broad shoulders and sharp teeth.

“Took you long enough. Come on down, I’ll pour ya a stiff one,” Al greeted Warren. A shadowy figure formed on the other side of the bar counter, and slid a glass of whiskey to the new arrival.
“So, after the Beast of the North got taken down, the remaining Brokers decided to downsize, huh?”
He mused as another shadow brought him a glass as well.
“Not that I mind, of course. We could use the fresh meat.” He then laughed boisterously, and took a sip.
“Funny joke, eh? Anyway, let’s get down to business. Officially, you will be assigned to work under Chloe Irving. She’s an apprentice Broker, you see. Real ambitious gal. Gave her a chance to spread her wings.”
He took a cigar from his pocket and put it to his lips.

“However, you will also report on her moves to me, without her finding out. Suspicious behavior or messages, the works. This will be hush-hush. We’ve had issues with Brokers running loose in the past, you see, and there were consequences I don’t want a repeat of. Of course, you can’t truly trust anyone in blind faith, but I want to see if she will cause me more trouble than not in the long run. I’ll send the details to you later, but until then, not another word of it.”
He lit the cigar, and puffed out smoke in the shape of round coins.

“Since you’re new here, I also want you to infiltrate the city’s magical population. Avoid the big factions like Beacon and Sanctuary, but see if you can find a group of local Mahou and befriend them as you gather info. Don’t mention us, don’t arouse suspicion, you know the deal. We know there’s a sizable congregation running around. Their movements are more difficult to track, so we could use the intelligence. And of course, you’ll be compensated for your efforts. Now, any questions-”

Before Al had finished speaking, two girls arrived at Al’s office. One of them was tall and proper, dressed in a maid-like ensemble with a splitting jacket and dress underneath. The shorter girl wearing a scarf was noticeably less proper in her attire, yet carried a more commanding presence as she stepped up to the two of them.

“Ah Chloe, you came at just the right time.” Al gestured in Warren’s direction. “We have a new agent from New York, Warren James. She will be working under you from now on, so you should show her the ropes sometime. However, don’t bring her out in public: she has extra tasks which require discretion. But you’re not here to talk about that, right?” Warren then saw the other girl disappear almost as fast as she appeared, vanishing into thin air.
Al tapped his cigar ashes on an ashbowl a shadow brought to him; his tone of voice turned more serious.
“Did you secure a deal on the meeting?”
Here's a newcomer in the ring trying his firsthand at a magical girl RP lol.

Solid set of powers, even if the pun wasn't relevant, hah. The idea of a bifauxnen type of character is unique, which is impressive considering the variety we have had over the seasons. The Horror is also one of the cutest so far (including the party girl Cthulhu we've had). I'll let co-GMs check this as well, but in my part I consider this accepted. Once they've also checked and there's no foreseeable need for edits, you can post this into the CHAR tab and begin posting IC: your character will start at Al Scarpe's office, having arrived there before Chloe teleported in.

At this point, Lily had slowed down in her movements as her excitement gave way to nervousness, giving Pentius-04 a chance to stand respectfully at the color-matching girl’s side when Lily waited anxiously for what was to come, having noticed that Nefer seemed more frantic around her cloaking device after a crack had formed on it’s surface. She blinked and extended her lips in surprise upon hearing the exuberant Magical Dream Princess mention an associate who was capable of the tactics hinted at by the mysterious paper.
”You know someone amazing like that, MDP?” She asked, sounding slightly hopeful.
”Please ask. It could really help!”
She gave an uneasy smile as little by little, others like Connie and Kayli gave new additions to the deal with Mint, none too insurmountable based on the broker’s response. Even Alicia, despite her well-deserved skepticism, seemed to come around after hearing Chloe out.
It seemed like they really would be able to agree on-

Her eyes widened as Penny then spoke up, followed by a sad nod with her eyes closed. She had given her ultimatum, and Lily no longer carried hope that Chloe would be able to agree to that condition. After all, wasn’t Mint all about debt collecting like some ruthless mafia? That was as far as the unaffiliated magical girl knew about them. Having relented to the peer pressure of her friends, she gave Chloe one last apologetic glance before turning towards Mariette.

”So, Mariette…Do you think you could make us a portal to Sanctuary? It would help a lot with the commute,” she would try to joke, but her awkward smile betrayed her.

Alex went over to where Justine was, and saw that she was talking to the new arrival at the park: a street vendor. She was dressed modestly in clothes that looked plain and unassuming at a distance, and carried a hand weave basket around her arm, the draped white cloth partially covering what looked like various little trinkets, flasks, matchboxes, and other tiny items that were held within. If it weren’t for the ornately stitched patches with elaborate markings on them and the elegant patterns of the basket’s weaving, the magical girl could have easily passed for a regular poor civilian. However, despite never having met her before, there was something oddly familiar about the vendor to Alex, but he couldn’t quite say how.

“...and if you buy four now, you’ll get one for free. A bargain for any magical, I assure you,” he heard the last of her sales pitch.
”Sorry, but I’m not interested at the moment," Justine responded, sounding uncharacteristically tense as she looked the girl over. The vendor didn’t seem to mind, and gave a polite smile.
“Maybe next time then.” She noticed Alex, and turned to him.
“Greetings, mister. Would you be interested in some Artifacts? The prices are modest yet the quality is remarkable, I assure you.”
Justine leaned over to whisper in Alex’ ear.
”The timing of her arrival seems too perfect. Do you think she’s a Wonderland spy?" She asked him.

The fight around the truck continued at its full pace. Mac was well placed to handle two opponents and used her knowledge of fighting well. The aerial combat swirled as duplicates and clones flash stepped around various roof tops. And Maura moved in, to take care of the machine that-

*record scratch*

“And thats all the footage we have.”

“What do you mean ‘that’s all the footage we have’? That’s clearly not the end of the fight.”

Two men sat in a dark room, thick with the smell of cigar smoke. A couple desk lamps cast these dark shadows, allowing them to see others without being seen themselves. A small tv displayed the footage of the ongoing fight, from camera angles that did not make sense given the lack of physical cameras in those locations.

“That’s all we were able to record. There’s actually no sign of any of the combatants on the scene, so if they’re still alive they’ve gotten pretty lost in the myriad of reality plenums. Maybe they’ll pop up again, maybe they won’t.” the man took a drag of his cigar, letting the smoke escape with a sigh. “I don’t think we can consider it a major loss, even if the outcome is a bit disappointing.”

The other man tapped the tip of his cigar against the nearby ashtray, letting bits fall off before returning to it. “And what about the device?”

“No sign of that either. It’s unclear whether it was what caused this unexpected turn of events, or if it was brought along with them. Regardless, we can consider it another lost investment.”

A frown greeted that news. “And an expensive one. Making a machine to separate a patron from their source of power isn’t something you just come up with in an afternoon. Especially when we don’t know for sure if it was a failure or not.” That had been the reason they sent it out after all. If it had separated Viridian from Maura, they could have been sure that it would work against the real deal.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if that scientist was involved. She is a wild card.”

Another sigh followed, the thought of a certain Doctor not lingered on for long as they moved on. “I suppose Miss Irving will need to prove herself some other way. It wouldn’t be fair to place this blame at her feet, given the confusing circumstances involves.”

A nod from his companion. “Veronica is something of a wasted investment too. It would have been nice to settle affairs with her little ‘Cradle’ once and for all, but we have bigger business to attend to.”


A tall woman’s silhouette could be seen entering the room from a dimly lit doorway, silencing the discussion with a single word. Her heels clacked across the marble floor, each step carrying purpose behind it.

Both men stood up upon seeing her, but the woman waved her hand down, and they sat again.

“Greed,” one of them murmured, seemingly in awe at seeing her.

She produced an old-fashioned cigarette holder, and held it elegantly between her fingers. A tiny flame from a lighter held by an invisible assistant flickered into life, only briefly illuminating what looked like a visage cloaked with a black veil, and lit it. She exhaled a beautiful pattern of interwoven smoke, and spoke again.

“They’re not a serious threat to our operations at this point. I think we can put a pin on this little diversion. Anything else would simply be a waste.”

She tapped the end of her cigarette on an ash bowl produced by the unseen assistant.

“But I am curious about Al’s new protege. She almost reminds me of Veronica when she started out, with that drive and ambition. Oh, the memories…”

One of the men nodded once a moment of silence passed, a sign that the woman had stopped speaking.

“Understood. I’ll let Al know.”

And so the curtain closed on one scene, and the story took a step closer towards its conclusion.

Lily didn’t blame Connie for not knowing the answer to the confounding conundrum that the paper represented, and gave a comforting little pat on the masked girl’s shoulder after she gave the paper away.
”It’s okay, I’m sure someone here can solve it. As long as each of us can bring something unique to the table, it’s sure to help!” She said this as much to herself as she did to Connie; her low self-esteem had taken a hit by her blunder. However, this was not the time to dwell on her mistakes as Chloe spoke at length on the deal.

Lily was alarmed by Chloe summoning another monster, finding her antics kind of obnoxious. But she afterwards seemed to relent, and even accepted Lily’s condition.
”Oh, you will Chloe?”

"Of course." Chloe placed a hand on her hip. "We might even use some of your suggestions."

Lily nodded to Alex’ clarification; she knew from her experiences at the Christmas party to not agree to something this important on the behalf of others.

Lily and Justine then turned their attention to Ronin and Miko.
”Shrink everyone? Oh, that might work! When they’re all chibi, we can fit them anywhere we want!” Lily seemed enthusiastic about the idea, while Justine scoffed.
”I guess if it’s possible…”
Lily then clenched her fists before her and visibly trembled in excitement as Ronin mentioned Bleach.
”Oh, you know Bleach, Ronin? That’s amazing! Isn’t Ichigo so cool, and Rukia so cute? Haven’t watched past season one, but I really hope they end up together!”
”Getting back on track…” Justine interrupted, causing Lily to frown as the moment passed.
”Fabricating a fake city on top of Penrose would require Illusion magic, and powerful magic at that. Do we even have any Illusion magic specialists here?”

Lily perked up as Mariette actually stood up and physically joined them, something she had only rarely seen from the elusive magical girl. She confirmed Valerie’s words about Wonderland, and clarified the effects of the enchantment. Justine in particular seemed interested in the information.
”A perpetual effect, huh…While slow-acting, it’s still very powerful magic to be able to enchant an entire dimension…I wonder…” She put a hand to her chin in thought while Mariette explained her part in the Queen’s designs, causing Lily to gasp.
”What, the queen thinks she’s your mom? And you’re fated to die because of that? That’s crazy!” She went over and took Mariette’s hand, looking straight into her eye with determination.
”Mariette, don’t worry. I won’t let you die! I promise!”

As the discussion advanced, it seemed the others weren’t as willing to negotiate as Lily and Alex were. The green-haired girl looked on as one by one, everyone declined Chloe’s offer after the broker had agreed to let Penrose be free of crime, and also to provide all kinds of help with their fight against Wonderland.

Even so, nobody would listen. Even Magical Dream Princess, who she expected out of everyone to be understanding, seemed to ignore her. Instead, she corrected Lily about the dimension belonging to Amanda. Lily blinked, seemingly a bit out of it, and smiled awkwardly.
”S-Sorry, got a bit of a mix-up there…I really am a bit of a ditz, haha…”
She looked up at Angel of Hope as she settled in, glad that at least someone here was tolerant and kind. She decided that she would need to get to know the angelic girl more after Penrose was saved, and possibly even become friends with her. Not that she deserved to be friends with someone as wonderful as AoH…

Justine didn’t seem as shocked by the unfolding events as she had folded her arms.
”I’ve worked with Mint before, but I can’t say I’m familiar with how they operate. Still, Chloe’s offer sounds too convenient. They probably attempted to deal with Wonderland first, and when that fell through, came crawling to us.”

Chloe clicked her tongue. "Speaking from experience, Justine? The number of times you’ve double crossed others even makes me blush."

Nefer on the other hand seemed amused as Chloe took offense to her meddling, and gave her a grinning side-eye while examining the Artifact with a hand-held scanner; so far it seemed to be holding up.
“You’re right, I could be. But if I was, would I really go out of my way to show my meticulously crafted, beautiful art just as a cover?” She giggled at Chloe’s second claim.
“I know, I just wanted to chime in, and even the odds. Someone oughta take Prid-I mean, the queenie cutie down a notch,” she readjusted after Akhenaten suddenly grunted. “Thinking she’s better than the rest of us, with all that sparkling gemtech…Hah! As if!”

She afterwards rolled her eyes at the flirting. She stepped closer to Chloe despite the monsters and her entourage of magical girls, seemingly trusting her bodyguard to intervene in case of conflict. She leaned her head down at the shorter girl.
“For a coinbroker, you seem a bit green. Did they hire you in the last month or something? That’s cute~”
It was now Viper’s turn to be provoked, as she glared at Nefer.
“Another insult at Boss…” She summoned her weapon at her side.
“...and it’ll be your last.” Akhenaten responded by grunting loudly. He then took a step forward, causing the ground to slightly shake, but Nefer swiftly waved him off.

“Now now, I think it’s great that Mint’s getting new blood. Most brokers are not cuties at all. In fact, I wouldn’t mind giving my number.” She produced what looked like a small piece of paper from her pocket, quickly wrote something, and afterwards offered it to Chloe. “My contact info’s on that. Gimme a call, ok Chloe-cutie?~”

Chloe eyed the paper with a grin before shoving it between her breasts. "Well, I’m busy, but I can probably pencil you in sometime."

The situation developed as Penny suggested leaving Chloe and moving on to her place to continue the discussion.

Chloe just groaned. "Glad everyone is willing to work together against an external threat. Did you even raise a weapon to the queen when she appeared, or did you run off like I would have done?"

Lily felt the urge to speak out against the discrimination she witnessed. But she also trusted her friend Alicia, and to a lesser extent Penny, and so didn’t want to outright object. However, this was about far more than mere grudges or personal feelings. There were hundreds of thousands of lives at stake. She couldn’t stay silent.
”Shouldn’t we give her a chance? She seems sincere about it…”
She thought hard about her next words.
”Maybe we could give her something smaller at first, and then the rest after she’s proven herself to speak the truth?”

”Who knew Lily would be the most level-headed one here?”

The new voice introducing itself to the discussion was none other than Binky, surprising Lily with her suddenly speaking. The green haired, cultist-looking magical girl had been through the entire meeting. Though the array of taller, more important magical girls hid her from view. But there was no doubt that there was pure contempt in her gaze as she observed the magical girls around her. But at last, they came to rest on Penny.

”Penny, you helped me get out of Beacon. I’ll always be grateful for that, but the reason Lily had us come here was to make it accessible to everyone in Penrose. Moving everything to your ‘secret treehouse’ gives you all the power. Most of us feel safest right here on neutral ground.” Binky folded her arms. ”You’ve done your own fair share of betraying too. You refused to give Su her ship back. You became a Mint agent, and I doubt you told Beacon right away. You’ve even taken the mantle of a dictator like Cindy Ford. It’s clear to everyone that if you can do something to acquire more power, you’ll do it. Maybe you’re better than those bozos at Mint, but you don’t get to preach about what it means to be trustworthy. You need to set the bar a lot higher for yourself if you want to be Penrose’s moral authority.” Chloe smiled, but that faded when Binky pointed a finger at her. ”You’re no better! Penny might have a low bar to step over, but you’re the one person who could limbo under it!” Then Binky looked at Alicia. ”Alicia, we never got to talk much. I don’t know you, but I’m going to assume you care about Penrose as much as everyone here. Are you really going to reject help from the Mint if it can prevent an invasion of Penrose?” She spun her head around. ”Am I… Does Lily have to be the voice of reason here?”

With a sigh, Binky looked over at the group of magical girls that were keeping to themselves. The ones that hadn’t thrown their lot in with any of the big three. ”I don’t know most of you, but I’m Binky. Yes, like a kids security blanket. It was a nickname that Veronica gave me because I used to cry all the time.” She raised her hand, and a red coin glistened in it. ”I’m the one who made the red coins, and assisted with the white ones later on. Like most magical girls, my form is less than ideal. I wanted to change it. I wanted to be stronger, I didn’t want to be afraid anymore. I went on quite an adventure to get this made, but more interesting is the story of why I haven’t used it myself.” She held the coin close to her chest, pinched between her thumb and finger. ”There was this girl that used to be my friend. Her name was Betty, and she’s the only person who made me feel like I was enough. I spent years working on this coin, and it just took her a few weeks to convince me I didn’t need it.” Binky, slowly, turned to look at Justine. ”Could you come here, please?”

Justine was surprised; out of everyone there, she least expected Binky to talk to her. Binky must still have enmity for her, so the fact she wanted to converse with her was baffling.
”Um, sure.”
Curious yet wary, Justine tucked in her wings, and approached Binky. She didn’t know where this was going.
”You wanted to speak with me, Binky?”

”For a while, actually.” Binky turned back towards everyone. ”This is Justine Von Visceral. I doubt she needs an introduction. Some of you fought her at her castle when she tried to wipe out the concept of love, and again when she laid siege to Mariette’s dimension. No one here has double-crossed, manipulated, and masterminded as many catastrophes as she has. But I probably dislike her more than most. Because she abducted Betty. No, she brainwashed her and turned her over to the Mint like she was into human trafficking.” She rubbed her nose. ”Betty was not the same after that, and I’ve since lost contact with her.” Binky turned to face Justine and looked her directly in the eye. She sighed. ”You’ve mentioned you regret your actions, but I never got an apology. Maybe you believed it was all ‘Father’s’ fault and such a thing wasn’t necessary. Even if you had apologized, I don’t think I would have believed you.” Binky sniffed, but her face remained hard. ”I’m still not sure why Maura felt like it was a good idea to turn you loose, but…”

Binky extended her arms.

”I forgive you, Justine.”

Justine sighed, and averted her eyes, holding her arm. ”For what it's worth, I'm sorry for what happened. Father was of course the instigator behind my actions, but it wasn't entirely his influence…I am also to blame for enabling his corruption in me. So yeah.” She glanced at Binky. ”Was that all?”

”No.” She stretched out her fingers and fretted her brow. ”I-I’d like a hug, too…”

Justine blushed, her face in a grimace. ”F-Fine.” She went over to the cultist girl, and gave her an awkward hug; like the kind you give to a distant aunt or uncle that you’ve never really known but you’re still expected to show affection to upon meeting. Binky responded a bit like you’d expect said distant uncle to. She pulled her in closer and patted her back with one of her hands. Though Binky’s eyes were open and staring straight ahead.

”Sorry for putting you on the spot.” She whispered. The hug only lasted a few seconds before Binky released Justine and took a step back. ”Thank you.” Again, Binky turned to address everyone. ”If I can forgive Justine, then you can overlook your differences with one another. This isn’t about any one of us. Everyone here wants to protect Penrose. If I couldn’t forgive Justine, Cradle would never be able to work at maximum efficiency. I don’t have to think she’s a good person, I just need to stop living in the past so that I can focus on the present.” She looked at Chloe. ”We could say some of us don’t deserve a fourth or fifth chance, but we’re letting emotion dictate our actions. There are really only two outcomes: Mint gives us assistance for some territory, or they don’t. As someone who values life, I don’t know why you wouldn’t pick the first option.”

At last, Binky shrugged her shoulders. ”I’m just a researcher. I’m kind of used to people treating me like dirt. But letting past events get in the way of an important co-op feels childish. That’s why I like Maura more than Veronica. She’s not the best at her job, but she’s not as jaded as my last boss. Letting Justine off easy turned out to be the right thing to do.”

Chloe tipped her head with a grin. "And that’s all to say that Penny and Alicia should take my contract?"

”Not quite.” Binky approached the contract and looked it over. ”The only authority I respect is Maura’s. You could sign a contract with any other faction and I probably wouldn’t honor it unless Cradle backed it personally.”

The coin broker chuckled. ”So you want every patron in Penrose to sign it?”

”It’s our city, and we’re all going to have our own stipulations too.” Chloe scoffed, but Binky wasn’t deterred. ”The way I see it, the two signatures you want are also the ones you aren’t getting. Maybe if you can satisfy everyone else, they’ll decide it’s something they need to be a part of.”

”Well…” Chloe trailed off. ”I’m open to suggestions, certainly. What would it take to get your signature?”

”I’d like to ensure that Mint doesn’t conduct any research of a magical nature inside Penrose.”

”Sounds reasonable.”

”I also forbid them from performing research on magical artifacts that were made in Penrose, such as the magical coins I helped make. That includes outsourcing the work to other institutes or performing it in other worlds.”

”...Less reasonable, but I think I can make it happen.”

Binky looked over her shoulder at Justine. ”Got anything you’d like to add?”

Justine shook her head.
”I have already said my piece. The rest is up to everyone…else…" Her words drifted off as she peered at something in the distance: a person who had turned the corner. The figure seemed to be wandering around, seemingly unsure.
Based on Justine's subsequent reaction of alarm, she seemed to recognize who it was, and headed out.
”Continue the meeting without me," she hastily spoke before she left the field.

”...Okay?” Binky shrugged before turning to look at Lily. ”You thought it would be a good idea to give the Mint their territory in increments? How did you want that to work?”

”Uhh…" Lily seemed unsure.
”Maybe instead of an entire sector, we could give them a building, a street, or even a city block. Something like that?"

Instead? With a huff, Chloe folded her arms. ”I have to get this to pass with people over my station, you know? But fine. So long as there’s an opportunity to get additional territory, I can probably make it work.”

Binky relieved herself from the spotlight by stepping away from the center of everything. ”It’s not often we get to dictate our terms to the Mint. I hope the rest of you add your own stipulations.” And with that, she stepped behind Valery.

The plan was coming together.

Anja reacted swiftly as she was swarmed by the Mac illusions. Her blade slashed and stabbed, the dark power imbued in her blade flaring as it struck each in turn. They did not react to the fear that the blade radiated from it, so it wasn’t a complete surprise when they simply vanished rather than dying. Her awareness helped with that as well, though she did not have a Third Eye or Light powers to draw on.

That meant she was not ready for Mac’s follow up. The bumper struck her head on, sending her flying back and over to the sidewalk, where she rolled to a stop. Were she a normal human she would be out of it, but a dark magical girl was made of sterner stuff than that. Pushing herself back to her feet, Anja wiped the corner of her mouth off with her sleeve as she surveyed the area.

“Now this is more like it,” she said with a grin. Her blood was starting to sing, pulled by the siren lure of combat against a worthy opponent. “Seppa, we’ve got an illusionist.”

“Nothing we can’t handle,” Seppa remarked. She rolled her shoulders and summoned her weapons, a variety of blades and weapons floating out of the back of the truck. With the flick of a wrist she tossed an object to Anja, who snagged the tiara out of the air and placed it upon her head. A red gem glowed in the center of the ring, adding an extra gleam of light to Anja’s eyes.

That was when Oliver’s duplicates began shooting from any vantage point that they could find. Rifle bullets split the air in a veritable hail of fire. This quickly drew the attention of Seppa and Alma, whose Thick Skin endured under the barrage of weapons fire for now. “Handle that you two,” Seppa said with a glance towards the rooftops.

“Ah, there you are,,” Anja said as she darted towards Mac at the front of the vehicle. She unleashed a flurry of stabs. None of these would be lethal on their own unless Mac really messed up, but it did occupy her attention. WHich in turn made it that much easier for Seppa to come sweeping in from above with a crushing overhead hammer blow. She figured as long as she aimed for the area where Anja was hitting it would be good enough.

“On it!”

Oliver’s doppelgangers found themselves under assault in turn as two more Mint agents joined the fray from the upper levels. Ilmarinen’s rifle barked, each shot spearing through a duplicate with unerring precision. Ilmarinen took slow breaths from his rooftop perch, as methodical in the process as he was precise.

This was contrasted by Varjo, flitting from rooftop to rooftop as her Familiars floated above her. Bolts of darkness lashed out as she sought out the original Oliver. “Come on out so I can kill you already,” she called in a sing song voice as she kept moving.

There was but one last obstacle for Maura to fend with. Not everyone had gone to fight Mac, for Alma remained by the back of the truck. She would need to be distracted or moved out of the way if the Witch wanted to get to the device inside.

To Lily’s immense relief, Chloe had accepted her compliments. She was even seemingly positive about the dark magical girl’s suggestion, with a happy smile on her face.
”I’m sure the special someone you'll end up snuggling with wouldn’t want to escape in the first place~” She cheerfully replied, too distracted by the frantic meeting to realize the sinister undertones. She was also happy that Penny reciprocated her feelings of gratitude, though she did notice the uneasy interaction between her and Chloe.

Unlike Lily, Sonia was fully cognizant of Chloe’s thinly veiled reprimand, though the perfect maid did not show a drop of it in her stoic facial expression or the stillness of her movement, even as her jaw was touched. “Understood,” she replied in a monotone voice, unaffected by her boss’s flirting. Pentius-04 on the other hand expressed a seemingly genuine desire to keep Lily safe from such shady folks, and so Lily would not doubt it, trusting her.

She looked up, and greeted the Angel of Hope as she also made it alongside others, glad to see how big of an impact her message had made on the community at large. If so many were willing to unite for the cause of their home, then she had hoped that they would be able to agree on common goals. Even Ruby had joined the meeting with a puff of smoke, surprising Lily for seeing the girl who had once granted her silly wish.
”Yep, and this blessing is all thanks to you!” She replied with arms spread wide to AoH, ignorant of the magical girl’s less-angelic feelings on the matter.
”And don’t worry about, uh, Casper. He’s only here for protection…I hope.”
However, it wasn’t until Magical Dream Princess, a girl she considered a friend to the cause, and a smaller group led by Kayli, had arrived that she felt fully secure with going forward with the meeting itself, having excitedly waved at the sugary girl, her pixie-like pal, and the rest.

Alex was the first to speak on the meeting’s topic at length. The green-haired girl intently listened as he brought up evacuation as their first topic. No matter how awkward she would make things, he was always able to pull things back to ground level, and focus on the things that mattered most. She spoke up when pocket dimensions were mentioned.
”Could we maybe, uh, throw them in Dan’s place? Like the time when we fled the collapsing dimension?”

Justine visibly cringed. ”I would rather find an alternative than rely on that idiot and his weird magic again. Besides, do his islands even have enough space? Even if he were to make another one, we’re talking about close to 800-900 thousand people here.”
Lily bit her lip, and afterwards listened as Alex suggested using runes to form a network over the city.
”I wonder if that’s possible…”

Alicia spoke next, and pointed out the possibility of striking back against Wonderland, though Lily decided to hold on the thought for the moment, feeling it a bit too hasty a move until they’ve learned more. Kayli built up on Alex’ suggestion, bringing up smart ways to evacuate the populace.
”Yeah, that sounds like a plan!”
However, while Lily was onboard with such a ploy based on her positive reaction, Justine was less convinced.

”Sure, it might sound easy, but threatening peas-I mean citizens to flee with gas leaks or even earthquakes is not going to cut it. You’d need to hijack the local news sources, forge the material, and distribute it, all in a short amount of time. Time which I don’t think we have.” She shrugged with a shake of her head.
”I admit it’s at least a better idea than trying to scribble runes all over the city, but we’d need every organization pulling their weight, and that seems unlikely to me.”

Kayli then brought up something that caused Lily to pause. She scratched her head, confused by what she mentioned.
”Nexus? Um…Have I heard that somewhere?” She had a feeling she had heard the term, but couldn’t remember where.
”Oh, the Nexus?” Justine asked, and dropped down from the statue, landing next to her.
”Well, I don’t know too much about it myself, but according to what Father once spoke of it, it is supposedly a place of immense magic. Like a spring that bubbles with pure, unconstrained power. The Horror originally sent me here to find it. But no matter where I looked, I didn’t catch even a whiff of it. And when that plan fell through…” She averted her eyes, finding the memory uncomfortable.
”That bastard wanted to incarnate with the blood moon ritual. The rest you know.”

”I see…” Lily held her chin, deep in thought.
”So…If we could find this Nexus…” She mumbled, not having realized that Kayli had moved on to talk about an army of constructs that could be deployed, and how ultimately Wonderland would only be followed by others. The sentiment was shared by Gaia, who brought up the possibility of bringing the populace to MDP’s pocket dimension.
”Putting them to sleep might actually work, especially if you combine your magic. I can tell from experience that coordinated spells can produce very powerful results. But you’d need a method to travel fast across the city…”

At the time the discussion took place, Lily woke from her thinking, and noticed how Connie seemed to look uncomfortable. She quietly went over to her side, subtly taking hold of her hand in an attempt to reassure her.
”I know this is a lot to take in, Connie. Some stuff goes over my head, too. But still, I’m glad you came.” she said, smiling brightly. That was when something happened to poke the back of her head, and Lily blinked.
”Huh? What was that?”
She turned, and saw that a paper plane ended up stuck between her hair and her tiara ornament. Alarmingly, the paper plane was partially scorched black and smoking from the back.
She took hold of the paper and unfolded it.
”Karakura Town…Important Spirit Zone?” She quietly read the message with a lifted eyebrow.
”I know karakuri can mean mechanism or clockwork in Japanese, but…Uhh…”
Lily visibly strained from trying to think about the meaning behind the mysterious message, and looked around, trying to spot the sender. She sighed.
”It must be an anime reference. Connie, do you have any ideas?” She quietly asked the masked girl to avoid disturbing the larger conversation at hand.

However, it was soon disturbed by Chloe herself, who brought up a shocking proposal in exchange for what she claimed to be vital information. Justine’s eyebrows furrowed, and she grit her teeth. Lily gasped, and absentmindedly handed the piece of paper over to Miko as she moved forward to address Chloe among the others, letting her and Ronin try to solve the riddle, or hand it to Mariette. She figured if any girl here was smart enough to figure it out, it would be Mariette.
”Wait, by conjuration egg, you mean the thing the soldiers were carrying, right?”

Mariette suddenly spoke up, causing Lily to jump as she was startled by her.
”Eavesdrop? On us? Uh…I didn’t realize…” She looked slightly shaken as Penny followed though, clearly not having thought this meeting through.
It was around this time that Ruby had taken Alicia and Kayli away. Justine had noticed this, but decided to ignore it in favor of Chloe’s assertions. Lily was distracted by the proceedings as Valerie pulled her aside. Her initial sarcasm however paved way to information on Wonderland itself, which piqued her attention.
”Not able? Why?” She asked, and scrolled through the intelligence the android girl had sent. While she did see some of the soldier types at Bolorton, getting a more comprehensive look at what they were like put things into perspective to Lily.
I thought the soldier markings didn’t have any meaning. They’re really organized to go this far…

She listened as Valerie further explained that the dimension itself was enchanted, and how the castle was confirmed to be the Queen’s abode, and barred from outsiders. Amanda then introduced her, and Lily smiled in kind.
”I’m Lily Lightning," she said, and offered a handshake politely. She might have crossed paths with the android girl before, but she doesn’t remember introducing herself.
”Just your average friendly neighborhood magical girl. Though I suppose idiot magical girl is more fitting…” She sighed, and started to get more and more worried about the mistake she’s made. Soon enough, she started to panic.

Should we move the meeting somewhere else, like Overcity? But I’d have to make a new Glimmr post, and then Wonderland would find that and-

“Now hold just a moment, cuties~”

Everyone turned to look at Nefer and Akhenaten as she made her presence known, having seemingly appeared out of thin air, with no sign of teleportation or other movement. The golem had crossed his arms, barely moving as it cautiously guarded the eccentric magical girl.
Curiously, a spherical Artifact was floating over her extended palm.
The device was made of multiple interlocking plates, and seemed to emanate an energy field of some sort.

“The Mint cutie here is quite something: pretty as a pearl, but pretty clever too. But before I explain, how about we make this meeting more…private?” She spoke in a playful manner, and grabbed hold of the orb. This was followed immediately by Justine summoning her spear and pointing it at her.
”What do you think you’re doing with that?” But Nefer merely grinned.
“Don’t worry. This won’t disturb your little pow-wow. It just makes it more interesting.”
She casually threw the orb up in the air. As it reached the center of the area it activated: the interlocking plates opened up, and a blue core of magical energy expanded out as a field, passing through the participants harmlessly until it covered everyone in a dome. The dome shimmered a transparent, faint blue, though it didn’t impede anyone as they left the dome. Lily was the first one to try as she poked her head out. But when she did, she noticed upon looking back that everything inside the dome had turned invisible, and blocked sound. Even Mariette’s Absolute Direction, and other magical methods of scrying and detection were nullified by the Artifact. Fortunately, the magic didn’t seem to affect the eyepatched girl’s portals, likely due to her being inside the field.

“Now, we can continue without fear of prying eyes. Hope you Beacon cuties don’t mind if I used a borrowed model, right? I just felt it required a bit of a modification.” She winked at Alicia.
“Of course, this cloak will only hold for a while, so I wouldn’t mind hopping over to hang it somewhere else, like sugar cutie’s bounce pad~” She said, and winked again, this time at Magical Dream Princess. Akhenaten grunted, and Nefer giggled.

“Anyway, Chloe here has consciously revealed the information knowing that Wonderland was spying. In fact, she was betting on it. I’ve dabbled in Mint business before, so I have an inkling she’s got eyes on those facilities, and simply made a call. If the fairytale fellows fret and attempt to move their precious cargo, she will know exactly where it ends up. You see, those conjuration eggs are fragile stuff, real volatile with the magic charge, and can’t be teleported. They also require specialized trucks to move around, and give off enough magical energy to be spotted with Third Eye, so decoy trucks are out of the question. In short, Wonderlanders are screwed either way, and hope that the cutie is lying to us folks. Now, I’d bet my favorite car tires that she’s not intending to risk her deal going south by simply betting on the location of the eggs, so she’s likely honest on that part.”
Nefer then shook her head as she leaned against Akhenaten with one of her arms.
“How do I know all this? Well, I was snooping as usual, you see. But of course, this is all but speculation on my part, so take it with a grain of salt. I’m just here to see which way the wind blows~”

Lily was not sure how to take the sudden appearance and use of the Artifact, but at least it solved the immediate issue of Wonderland finding out about their plans. This left her with the problem of deciding how to go about Chloe’s suggestion. She went over to the dark magical girl, looking serious.
”I don’t know how fair or acceptable your conditions are, but if what you say is true, I don’t want to outright reject them. Maybe we can reach a compromise. But before all that, you have to accept one condition, Chloe: no more crime in Penrose. From you, or anyone else in your organization. If you really, really need to cheat people out of their money, you could set up a way to legally do it, like gacha.“ She blurted out.

Justine sighed, sometimes finding it exhausting to listen to her friend.
"She means gambling. But I agree with her point. If we’re to co-operate in any real capacity, then all the illegal business you’ve done here needs to stop.”
She noticed how Kayli and Alicia had returned, and how Kayli seemed a bit different than before.
In truth Kayli now saw what seemed like traces of magic that shimmered with various hues. These traces seemed to replicate the shapes and movements of magical girls of past present, and possibly even future. Though one particular oddity among them stood out: a trace of a magical girl pinned by another with an iron clamp against the statue, followed by the girl being impaled by her own conjured weapons of light, dying on the spot. As Kayli reached her hand out to that spot, the traces seemed to resonate, glowing brighter as she approached. Those traces then created other traces, leading away from the park, like a footprint of magic itself.

Meanwhile, Lily was still thinking.
”Loot boxes as well, and…Oh yeah, subscription services and microtransactions on full-priced products! Those are still legal too!"
Justine could only roll her eyes, exasperated from her antics.
"It's fine, Lily. I'm sure she got the point…"

Making their way out of Penrose, the Mint operatives knew they were unlikely to exit the city without being confronted. As it was, She had counted on it. The main question was whether they had attracted the right sort of attention, or if their little scheme would be interrupted by people who were butting their nose in where they didn't belong. With this being Penrose there was a pretty big chance of that happening, but this time around fate seemed to favor them.

Whether the Mint girls would have cared about running over some random civilian was an uncertain question. But this was no random civilian, and her presence was deliberate and calculated. The truck did not slow, on the off chance that it was actually some kind of decoy or an illusion. Mac's trick went off without a hitch, and the air filled with the sound of crumpling metal as the truck abruptly stopped.

Airbags popped as predicted, and the driver slumped forward into the airbag. He remained slumped and motionless for now, a nonfactor in what was about to happen.

Anja let out a groan as she pulled back from the airbag, clutching at her head from the jarring impact against Mac. Not that she was particularly surprised by it either, and so there was no shock or time spent wondering. Having recovered, she exited the vehicle with purposeful steps, moving towards Mac as she drew her blade. "I hope you'll be some sort of challenge, since you so rudely interrupted our trip," she said to Mac as she went to move around the front of the vehicle and begin the combat.

In the back of the vehicle, the door rolled up as Seppa and Alma emerged. The truck visibly bounced as Alma disembarked, looming over her companion. "Go time," Seppa said with a visible grin. There was no chance that Mac was alone after all.

Lily was anxious, her foot outwardly expressing it with impatient taps as she waited for her message to be received. But she wasn’t anxious about nobody showing up: there were still friends and acquaintances she could rely on to do the right thing. She was concerned about how volatile the personalities of the magical girls could be, and how that could lead into bickering if not outright hostility. However, Lily didn’t have to ponder such thoughts for long before the first person arrived. But to Lily’s surprise, it was nobody she recognized. She was alarmed as the shield-carrying girl suddenly teleported in, but quickly gave a hesitant smile as the stranger introduced themselves as an associate of Doctor Nykannis, and more importantly, an ally to her cause. While she wasn’t really familiar with the “Queen of the Mad Scientists” herself, she figured she cared enough about Penrose to give this meeting a chance. And so would Lily too.

”A b-bodyguard?” She slightly blushed out of embarrassment after hearing the announcement, and scratched her cheek, averting her eyes.
”I-I’m not so important that I’d need that…But, um, thank you.”
Though she secretly wanted to be acknowledged and respected by her peers, she never wanted to be seen as superior or more important than anyone else. In that sense, it was bizarre for a stranger to assign her a guardian. Not that she needed one, as she saw Alex arrive soon after the recording ended. She could trust him to keep her safe even if someone dangerous attempted to crash the meeting.
”Alex! You came just in time! Look what I got!” She waved the recording in her hand, looking like she might accidentally drop it, to Pentius-04’s possible dismay.

She then activated the recording and reacted with wide eyes, taken aback by Nykannis’ bold greeting. She was boisterous and rude, yet also strangely endearing to Lily, reminding her of a villain she saw in a TV show once. Regardless of her attitude, her intent seemed positive enough.

Once it ended, Lily turned to Pentius-04, about to say something, when she froze, her eyes wide. A new arrival teleported suddenly in: Chloe, with an entourage of girls Lily definitely considered dangerous. She instinctively hopped out of the way of the red carpet as it rolled towards the central statue, and summoned her magical weapon out of reflex as Chloe bombastically walked down it.
But as soon as she did, Chloe made her intentions clear: she also wanted to attend the meeting in peace, even if she did summon a horrific monster to enforce it. A bead of sweat dripped down Lily’s brow, but she put up a brave face. She would need to stay in control of the meeting no matter how intimidated she might be. But she had to admit, that scarf was pretty drip.
”Chloe, it’s good to see you,” Lily responded with a slightly hesitant smile, and put away her weapon.
”Love the new look, by the way. The scarf suits you.”
She hoped a few kind words helped with the unease between them in the coming conversation.

As if on cue, a portal opened, and out of it stepped a familiar face joined by representatives of Sanctuary.
”Penny! Is that…A new capelet?”
Her eyes sparkled upon seeing the new accessory the Queen of Penrose wore. Now feeling safe as one of the most powerful magical girls of Penrose was present, she let her weapon disappear with a spark of electricity, and curtsied.
”I am grateful that you have joined us, Your Majesty.”
Though she noticed the tension between their group and Chloe’s, she appreciated their self-control. She then noticed as various other Penrose magicals arrived including Gaia, Connie, and more. Even Justine, who had descended down from the sky, having landed on the statue with a gentle flap of her wings, was attending. Her eyes were fixed on a certain someone with a crimson glare.
”So we meet again, Sonia. Still working with the Mint?”
In response, the silent maid produced four knives between her fingers. However, that was all she did, before she cast them off and clasped her hands before her, her posture perfect as she stood beside Chloe.
Justine rolled her eyes.
”I take that as a yes, then.” She turned to Lily.
”You still want to wait for others?”

Lily shook her head.
”No, this is enough.” She looked around at the crowd of magical girls and boys.
”To be honest…The reason I brought you all here is because the situation is desperate. It won’t be long before Wonderland comes in and destroys everything we hold dear. And we can’t let that happen!” She smashed her fist into her palm.
”We may not see eye to eye on everything, but we can all agree that we should save Penrose!”

Justine interjected.
”That’s a given, considering we’re all here in the first place. More importantly, do you have a plan of action?”

Lily averted her eyes as she gave an awkward smile.
”Well, umm…Not yet.” Justine sighed, but Lily then immediately spoke up, trying to hold on to the conversation.
”But I’m sure we can think of something we can do!” Then, a thought came to her.
”Oh! Maybe someone here knows something about Wonderland that we can use to our advantage!” Again, her eyes swept over the crowd.
”At this point, any kind of idea would be welcome. Anyone?”

Elsewhere in town, as the meeting in Penrose Park began other plans were also unfolding.
“...And that’s the plan. Any questions?” Louis surveyed the gathered magical girls and boy, gauging their reaction to the information he had just provided. After some time running easy schemes, now they were back in the big leagues.
“It seems pretty straightforward to me,” Alma replied with a grunt and a small nod. She had listened attentively to the plan, and liked what she saw. It was simple, which meant there were less parts that could go wrong.
Off to the side, Varjo had a wide grin as she regarded their handler. “It sounds like fun! I’ve never killed a patron before. I wonder what sorts of trophies that Cradle has inside of it. Do you think the Mint will let us keep some?
The other member of their little group was not entirely content, Anja wearing a frown as a hand rested on her hip. “Do we trust Her though?
Seppa smirked as she glanced over at the other girl, her arms folded over her chest. “With how much the Mint is paying us for this job, we’ll be able to pay off our debts even without whatever we take. That’s worth a lot more than trust.” Did they really have a choice with their own set of circumstances
Resting in the back of the room, Ilmarinen pulled out the coin that was his trademark. Holding it steady, he flicked the shining object into the air. It tumbled in mid flight, flipping head over head as it rose and then fell. A quick swipe grabbed it out of the air, and he placed it upon the back of his hand in a smooth motion.
Pulling the covering hand away revealed the face of the coin, giving its approval for the mission that they were to undertake. “Fate smiles upon this mission,” he announced. Varjo rolled her eyes, but did not argue since she was already on board with the mission.
Louis clapped his hands together. “Alright then, let’s get going. Time is wasting.” That package would not deliver itself.

The Mint’s plan was fairly simple, as had been claimed. They had a truck which had been magically reinforced to prevent any manipulation by Metal spec girls. Inside the truck’s hold was the device that would be used on Veronica, the one that was the Cradle’s target. The vehicle itself was being driven by a civilian who had been Psychically influenced into doing the job. None of the team actually wanted to have to drive the vehicle, especially one so large.
Of the girls themselves, only Anja was visible in the passenger’s seat of the vehicle. It was reasonable to assume that there was at least one other girl in the truck with the device, but the precise location of the rest of their guards, or their number, would be difficult to pin down for the Cradle team as they arrived at their destination.
Thanks to the information provided by Ladybug, the Cradle team knew that the Mint planned to follow the main roads through downtown, then get on the highway and leave Penrose for places further North. Knowing the planned route, they had the opportunity to set an ambush to the location of their choosing. How would Maura choose to approach this situation?

Lily held a flower, and gently knelt down to place it on a patch of grass, where a small stone marker was. She still remembered the pillar of ice that once formed on that spot, though time has long faded away any traces of it. She closed her eyes, and the memories of that night came rushing back.
”Victoria Reales…” She mumbled, and then stood up.
”I’ll make your dream come true…I promise.”
She knew what she was about to do was foolish and dangerous, but it was her only choice. Wonderland was coming to Penrose at any moment. Though her wounds have since fully healed thanks to Alex, the mental scars they left behind still lingered. This was no mere monster attack or crazed magical girl. No, this was something bigger; pure war. Lily was not the strongest fighter, as even Metamorphosed she failed to protect Bolorton. And she’s not the smartest either. She didn’t know what to do.

But she had something worth fighting for. And it was exactly what she was going to use.

She took out her smartphone, and pressed confirm on the message, letting out a breath of anxiety. Alex would probably ask her if this was a good idea. To that question, she honestly couldn’t answer. But she had to try, even if it would end in bitter tears.

A new post emerged on Glimmr, visible not only to Lily’s friends and contacts, but also to others observing the Penrose tag.

The magical community of Penrose,

We now face a great crisis, as Wonderland will soon invade it. I have seen what happened to Bolorton, and I will not abide the same happening to my home. I will fight to protect it, but I need your help. I need everyone’s help: Beacon, the Crimson Cradle, Sanctuary, even the Ebon Mint. We all have our differences, but in the end, nobody wants to see this city gone, right? If you’re willing to talk, please come to Penrose Park.

Let’s do our best,

Then she waited, having cast a spell to brighten the electric lights surrounding the park to better guide others to her. This was her last chance, and she would take it.

But unbeknownst to Lily, the shadowed alleys in Penrose stirred, as mysterious forces were on the move…

It was an ordinary day, as ordinary as anything could be for a magical girl in Penrose. Ordinary by the standards of the distinctly unordinary Crimson Cradle. Yet as events began to unfold elsewhere, they would find themselves pulled into their own drama. One that could determine the fate of many things…

Valerie was the focus of the beginning of their drama. The dependable mission control girl, who guided the various Cradle agents on their missions. It was her who kept track of the bounty board, alerting them to any opportunities that might arise.

It was in the middle of her morning routine that she would receive an email. On the surface it seemed to be simple spam, but her skilled eye quickly realized that there was something lurking beneath the surface. It took some effort for her decryption skills to finally crack what it was, but soon she succeeded. Whoever did this was good, but not the best.

What she found at the end of it would not be what she expected.

Tell Veronica that this makes us even

Included with the short message was an attachment, and inside confirmed what would be so important as to clear that debt. It held plans for the Mint to move some sort of device through the city today, guarded by their toughest operatives. The exact specifics were unclear, but the way they described it made it seem as though the device would allow them to negate shadow magic in addition to an effect that would block access to the benefits provided by the Cradle. It did not take a genius to determine that the target was none other than Veronica herself.

Yet ‘Ladybug’ had provided them a solution, should they choose to follow it. The defenses on the device were complex, for the Mint did not intend to take chances. Complex, but not invincible. If someone could interfere with the bindings of the enchantment, destroy the base of Spirit and Light magic that was used to make the device, they could unravel the whole thing and render it useless. It might be too much for a magical girl, but not for a Patron.

Not for a certain Witch of Death.

Cardinal Ishtar looked troubled, but waited patiently until Alicia, Serenity and Aurelio were seated before she began speaking.

“The incident at Bolorton…I would like to hear a full report of what exactly happened,” she asked, sounding deathly serious.

Stepping into the meeting room, Alicia bowed to the Cardinal as the debriefing began. As the leader of the mission, it was only reasonable that she be the one to speak first.

"Our arrival in Bolorton was accelerated by the assistance of the girl known as Magical Dream Princess. Upon arrival we found the city under attack by mechanized and magical forces. At that point the troops had not yet entered the city proper, as a coalition of other girls from Penrose had arrived to fend them off. We made our way to the evacuation site, but before we could arrive we encountered an illusion of Beacon member Suwako. It attempted to incite us to attack Wonderland. However I was able to determine that it was an illusion and we ignored it.

We then arrived at the evacuation center and set up the teleporter. With the assistance of the magical girls already on the scene we were able to remove the residents from danger. However Wonderland was able to breach the defenses of the city and advanced upon the evacuation site. Their troops attempted to disable the teleporter, and we were forced to fight back. When the evacuation was completed we exited the scene."

That seemed to about summarize it, though if the others had something to add she wouldn't object.

“On the illusion,” Aurelio would chime in, having followed Alicia’s example and having given a small bow when he entered. “I sent a clone to try and get a better idea of what their plan was, but my clone expired before it could return to me. That said, I know that it got close to the outer edge of the engagement. Where I could feel two potent sources of anger that seemed to be fighting each other.”

“In addition, from what clones I had that I got back, I can tell that the mechanized forces didn’t see fit to bother with us or the others helping us evacuate. And were focused solely on attacking Wonderland, whereas Wonderland saw both us and the mechanized force as equal opportunity targets.”

Serenity nodded in assent with what Aurelio had said, before picking up where he’d left off. Her distance from the two agents of a certain Horror was more of a comfort now, but the sinking feeling she’d have to say something about it all was also there. Not that she wanted to hide it, really, but it was also…somewhat uncomfortable as well. Brought back similar feelings to what she’d felt back there in Bolorton. Even so-

“The soldiers were disposable, which from what little I know from, er, ‘before’ about them seems to fit the bill of how they operate. Despite this, they wielded stronger magical weaponry of a sort, examples of which I got a glimpse of in the possession of…a Horror-serving monster girl and her potential ally who were both among the defenders there as well.”

A small shudder ran down the magical maid’s back visibly at that mention of the two, though she at least attempted to hide it.

“However, I believe we didn’t get to see everything Wonderland likely had there at Bolorton either. Though to go in with that much force and using so many soldiers in a small place like Bolorton is…concerning as well, opposing magical girls being there aside.

Like they’re trying to secure a perimeter or something.”

Ishtar pondered on the reports given by the three, and sighed. "Wonderland had already contacted us and claimed they were attacked by Beacon forces first. Of course, we couldn't detect lies in that statement; must have been a third-party speaker who was simply told what to say, or worse, manipulated. Of course, Lux is handling the realpolitik side, but in turn has given us more pressure."

Rachel spoke up.
"According to on-site reports confirmed by our intelligence operative, Wonderland broke the truce agreement and initiated hostilities without provocation. It seems they are no longer concerned with the possibility of retaliation. But why now?"

Elora typed away on her laptop, and produced a hologram of Suwako. "Suwako is confirmed to continue operating on the West Coast. The imposter must have been aware of her absence when they attempted their scheme."

Ishtar spoke again.
"These mechanized forces…They must belong to a separate faction. Elora, run a search based on the data." Elora nodded, and began typing away, her fingers so fast they almost seemed like a blur.
"Aurelio, please assist her with any characteristics or traits that you might remember."

Rachel checked her device.
"According to the reports they use mana gem infusion with their weapons. We might be able to salvage something useful out of that were we to get our hands on a sample or two."

"That is true," Ishtar replied. "It seems that Wonderland utilized some experimental monsters as part of their forces as well."
Tsuki nodded. "Yes, the monsters were identified to emulate the cast of a children's story known as the Wizard of Oz. But how were they deployed? Did they teleport in the same way as the others?"

Alicia nodded along with the observations from the various Ascendancy members. “It sounds like we have a lot of questions and not many answers. We’re going to have some things to look into before Wonderland makes their next move.”

"We would need to ask those that were there before us" Aurelio would say, "Unfortunately it seemed like whoever chose to take the fight out to the forces of Wonderland had their own way out as none of them evacuated with us."

“Actually, someone who was out there might have been evacuated by us…I think.”

A small chill visibly ran down Serenity’s back as she spoke, her words trailing off with a certain sense of distinct unpleasantness about the topic tinting her tone of voice.

"Yes, we have identified the Mahou who were evacuated," Violette agreed.
"We could have someone follow up on more information with them."

"More importantly, we need to follow up on the rest of Penrose," Ishtar retorted. "Clearly Wonderland's objectives are of a malicious intent that will threaten more than just the city. Otherwise they wouldn't have pushed this aggressively to secure a foothold." She sighed in frustration. "I'll try to convince Lux to send more troops here, but what we really need is the support of the local defense, everything we can get a hold of."

Rachel looked grim. "There is always the ultimate solution…"

The rest of the Ascendant tensed up, realising what she meant. Ishtar glared at the Inquisitor. "Absolutely not. Lux has forbidden the use of the Reckoning, as you should know."

Rachel adjusted her glasses. "The Ecclesiarch left in the exception for an Aleph-class crisis. If this is as dire of a situation as you imply…” She adjusted her glasses, causing them to briefly flash from the ceiling light. ”We can't ignore the possibility."

A moment of awkward silence fell in the room, finally broken by Sally. "We just have to make sure it doesn't become a crisis that bad!" She exclaimed boisterously. "Anyway, what's our orders?"

"Co-ordinate defensive efforts with the Penrose Mahou," Ishtar answered. "Continue patrols and hunts as usual, but also conduct scouting missions around the area and in the direction of Bolorton, as well as research into enemy tactics and resources. We'll be keeping you posted. Most importantly, each and every one of us need to seize initiative and act independently to the best of our abilities, without letting protocol get in the way. That is all."

Rachel scoffed, but even she had to agree to the terms the Cardinal had presented. "This city is going to be the death of me, I swear…"

Alicia frowned as she listened to the conversation, especially as it turned to matters of large scale destruction. “I’m not ready to give up just yet,” she agreed, adding her voice to Sally’s. Ishtar then provided them with her directions as they prepared to face the oncoming crisis.

“Yes ma’am,” she agreed with a nod. Even if they lost, she did not intend to let them take her home here without a fight.

Rachel acknowledged Lily’s plea, but said nothing, simply writing down observations on her personal device. Lily managed a grateful smile as Alex together with the Beacon medics mended her multitude of wounds, and afterwards hugged Alex, burying her face in his chest.

”I can’t believe those people…” She mumbled.
”They would attack an innocent town like that…” She lifted her face up.
”If you weren’t there for me…I would have died. I let my emotions get the best of me…Even after I swore I would never falter..Geez, I’m so dumb…”
When Alex voiced his confusion regarding the incident, Lily could only shake her head.
”Apparently Wonderland was behind this attack, but that’s all I really know.”

Rachel then sighed, showing a hint of annoyance at Alex’ loud questioning, and glanced at the assistant who had arrived to gather another round of debriefings. “Those three are next,” she coldly stated, and pointed not only to Lily and Alex, but also at Justine, who blinked in surprise.
The assistant bowed respectfully and then went over to Lily and Alex.
“This way, please,” the assistant gently gestured. Lily looked to her before nodding at Alex with a bit lip.
”Let’s have our voices heard, Alex. It’s for the best.”

“Good, now then, follow me.” With Rachel in the lead and Violette following her, Alicia, Serenity, and the rest of the Beacon operatives moved to a large conference room, nearly fully occupied by various members of both local Beacon as well as the Ascendancy. Familiar faces such as Shamrock Sally, Tsuki, and Hudie were among the gathered participants of the meeting, with the Cardinal herself taking the spot at the very back; it became obvious that this was not going to be a regular report, but an important conference for Penrose Beacon as a whole.

With Alex helping steady Lily up, one of the medics brought a crutch for Lily to use, allowing her to slowly walk by herself as the two headed for the waiting room, followed by Justine just behind them. Once there, one by one they were brought to the meeting room, seeing Connie, Gaia, and the Angel of Hope on the way as they left their rooms. Finally, once they were alone, it didn’t take long for Dawn to come in and ask all three the exact same questions as with the others.

And now for another round.
-Dawn “worst PR representative ever” Astraea

“Good evening, my name is Dawn Astraea,” the young woman introduced herself again as she took her seat opposite of the interviewee. “I will be conducting your debriefing. If you do not have any questions, then let us begin. First and foremost, I am obligated to inform you that this debriefing is being recorded, and that your answers will be reviewed by a light magic specialist for verification. If any falsehoods are detected, or we are given reason to believe that you pose a danger to The Beacon, you will be retained for additional investigation. Is that understood?”

Lily’s eyes widened in shock, and she held her hands up to her chest, as if trying to calm herself.
”Y-Yes, I understand.”


”Yes," Justine answered bluntly, her hands on her lap, fingers tapping anxiously.
”Can we make this short? I need to go check up on my sister in Silverburg."

“This debriefing will end faster the more quickly you answer your questions.”

Justine scoffed. Even if she no longer directly opposed Beacon, they still left a bad taste in her mouth.


“What is your name and magical girl title?”

“Lily Lightning, a magical girl of justice. Um, do I also have to give my real name? I don’t want to be doxxed.”

“No, that is enough. We already know all we need to know about your civilian life.”

A big sweatdrop appeared on Lily’s forehead.

“Well, that’s…Great?”


”Justine von Visceral. Or rather, should I address myself as Sinner of Lust to you?" She asked half-mockingly and half-genuinely.

“That title no longer applies to you,” Dawn immediately retorted.


“What is your magical specialization?”

“Lightning, and also Time thanks to a wish my boyfriend made to a pair of djinn twins. B-But I swear I’m just a regular magical girl! Honest!”

“Do not worry; if you were corrupted, we would have already began the purification process.”

Another sweatdrop appeared.

“That’s great…”



“That is not a magical specialization.”

”Well what else am I supposed to call it? Hemomancy?"

“I’ll file it under Oddball.”


“Are you a dark magical girl or monster girl?”

“Neither. I swear I am normal! Although, sometimes I do lose my temper and that results in some unwise decisions, but that happens to everyone, right?”

Dawn glared back.

Lily sunk down in her seat.

“Well…I guess not everyone…”


”I was a monster girl at one point, but I got better," Justine answered.
”I think it was a Beacon girl that administered the purifying potion, I believe?"

“Yes, our records indicate that a purification potion was administered by local Beacon forces.”

”One of the Howell twins, correct? Sounds like they do a better job at purifying than you lot?"

A popped vein could be seen on Dawn’s forehead. “Let’s move on to the next question.”


“Is your Patron classified as a horror?”

“No, he’s a Puchuu…Though, these days I feel like we’ve grown more distant. He usually lets me do my own thing…Unlike Ixion…”



“You are currently employed by the Crimson Cradle, correct?”

”Yes, what about it?" Justine averted her eyes.

“Are you aware of that organization’s reputation in the magical community?”

”Yes, but that doesn’t…matter to me. Not at all." Any Light specialist would detect the lie in that sentence.


“Have you ever worked alongside a dark magical girl/boy, monster girl/boy, and/or servant of a horror?”

“Well, of course. Even if we are different, we can all still fight together for a good cause. We can’t let prejudice get in the way of what’s really important, like protecting our friends and loved ones.”


”That should be obvious given my history."


“Have you ever opposed the glorious and righteous will of The Beacon Ascendancy?”

“Well…one time, Rachel wanted to destroy an artifact belonging to one of my friends…” Lily pouted with puffed up cheeks.
“And she also wanted to blow up an entire dimension just because it was a bit different. And that’s just wrong, you know! If you were there, I’m sure you’d agree with me!”

Dawn glared at Lily. She sunk in her seat even lower this time.

“I guess…You wouldn’t, huh…”


”Not in my current occupation, but I believe that is inevitable given the stubbornness and refusal to co-operate that your lot typically expresses."


“Why have you yet to renounce your Patron and embrace the radiant light of The Beacon?”

“I actually did consider it when I lost my previous Patron…But then I remembered how mean you can be, even to your fellow magical girls! Yes, it’s important to fight for a good cause, but you’re taking it too far.”


”Because I am sworn to serve my Mistress. That’s all there is to it. Well, except for the part where you’re all a bunch of stuck up-"


“How did you learn that Bolorton was under attack?”

“This is kind of embarrassing to admit…But sometimes I like to watch live streams on Glimmr. One of the streamers I follow lives in Bolorton, and was doing one of her outdoor zatsudans-”

“What is a zatsudan?”

Lily turned red in the face.

“Well, umm, it’s like casual chatting-never mind, that’s not important! The point is, she noticed that some soldiers appeared, and the feed suddenly cut off, so I called all my friends and we rushed there.”

“Who was this streamer?”

“She goes by SunFlowey in Glimmr, but that’s all you’re gonna get! I’m a loyal fan, and would never dox her!”

“So Annabelle McDonald,” Dawn immediately wrote down, causing Lily to gasp.

“Is nothing a secret to you guys?!”


”Lily called me about it. Of course, knowing her luck, she must have seen a livestream of the attack happening or something. She can sometimes stumble into stuff like this like it’s magic."


“How did you reach Bolorton in time to assist with its evacuation?”

“My friend Mariette created a portal, and I’m so grateful for that. But now I have no idea how to pay her back! Maybe some cake…” Lily wondered with a finger poking at her cheek.


”Lily pulled some strings, and we got there with an associate’s portal. At this point she must know every single magical girl in Penrose. That’s honestly impressive."


“What was the approximate strength of the Wonderland forces attacking the town?”

“There was a lot of soldiers, like a lot lot! It was like one of those wave survival games where you have to hold out for as long as you can, it was terrible! There were also a bunch of tanks, and artillery, and crazy monsters that went bwoom bwoom, and blamm, and-”


”Enough infantry to invade a micronation with, complete with armored transport and assault vehicles and mortar support. There was also aerial infantry with heavy weapons, and what looked like a specialized group of weaponized monsters based on the Wizard of Oz story. To be honest, it’s a bit underwhelming as far as the whole fairytale and storybook theme goes. At least I went all out with the whole gothic horror style."


“Via what method or methods were the Wonderland forces deployed?”

“I don’t really know. I guess portals or teleportation? There was suddenly a whole lot more enemies, but I didn’t pay much attention where they came from.”


”Portal magic. And based on how the magic circles looked, it might have been artificially produced. But I’m not really an expert or anything on the subject."


“Did you witness any member of Beacon engaging the Wonderland forces in combat?”

“Yeah! I saw my good friend Alicia defend the town with other Beacon girls. She’s so cool, isn’t she?”


”Yeah, Beacon was there aiding in the evacuation effort. But when it came to Ascendancy…"


“Did the Wonderlanders communicate with you in any way?”

“Uhh, not really? I heard some shouting, but none of it was directed at us, I think. I don’t think they were interested in us surrendering.”


”No, not at all. They were out for blood, no diplomacy attempted. They did speak English though, so you could try talking to them…If you care, that is."


“Did you communicate with the Wonderlanders in any way?”

“I think I tried yelling at them to stop, but by that point they already started their attack…Sometimes you gotta make the other side listen to you, I guess. But if it were up to me, I’d always try to talk things out, no matter who it was!”


”No, because there was no point. In war, you can’t hesitate for even a second."


“If I was to tell you that this was the last question, would you believe me?”

Lily tilted her head, looking puzzled. “Uhh…I guess?”


Justine scoffed. ”No. I think you still have more pointless questions to ask just to spite me."


“Last question. If I was to tell you that this was the last question, would you believe me?”

Lily tilted her head again. “Uhh…I…Guess?”

What is she doing?

”No. I’m not going to explain myself again.”

Yep, here comes the stupid questions.


“That concludes the debriefing,” Dawn announced as she rose to her feet. “The Beacon thanks you for your cooperation in this matter. Someone will be with you shortly to escort you off the premisses.”

Lily sighed, feeling like her nervousness finally released in one big spark of electricity.

Justine rolled her eyes.

With that, Dawn left, and the interviews were over. Once all three got out of the meeting room, Lily grabbed hold of Alex’ shoulder with her free arm.

”Phew, glad that’s finally over. I gotta say, I did not like her attitude about the whole thing.”

”You tell me. The last two questions especially. Anyway, I gotta head off and see how Caroline is doing. But let’s keep in touch, okay Lily? Bye." She waved goodbye to Lily and Alex as she left. Lily waved back. And as the two of them also walked out of Beacon headquarters, the crutch-holding girl stopped still, and gave one last look at the building.

“You know Alex…I never thought I’d have to do this…But now’s the time to follow in my predecessor’s footsteps.” And with that, Lily summoned her bike, and they were gone.

“Justine? I didn’t know she was around these parts.”
Nefer sounded surprised when Iron Mouse mentioned the former monster girl, and looked back, simultaneously turning to avoid a large rock without looking. She then realized what she blurted out, and giggled.
“I mean, wow, those Wonderlanders sure are something else, eh? I reckon Penrose is gonna be a warzone soon. Plenty of loot to be had then~”

She smirked as Mayra wondered about the people around her, and winked at the excited monster girl.
“Well, aren’t you a sssilly little salamander cutie~” Akhenaten grumbled, sounding a tiny bit deeper in his voice than usual as he continued driving the group into the horizon.

© 2007-2023
BBCode Cheatsheet