"Right. Glad that problem was settled."
After Valerie and the Visceral sisters left the Bank, the former reported back to Maura about what happened. However, Sann apparently shifting Justine away and back unharmed drew her suspicions as well. When she tried to look back at the vampire girl's memories, she saw that the connection was blocked somehow. And with what Justine told her about what the vaklyrie said at the christmas party...
Whatever. She didn't have much to work off of, so she decided to just focus on something else for now. "Hey. You sure you wanna try and convice the unstable one to join us??"
Lauren spoke up. The two of them have been watching the monitors of Valerie's supercomputer for a while now. "Caroline? That'd depend on if Justine trusts me enough to take them both in. Why the question?"
The emerald haired witch frowned. "There's something off about what happened at the Bank. I'm sure you know."
Maura nodded. "Sanngridr." "Other than her creeping on that poor masked kid, why did she feel the need to shift the Viscerals away just to heal the younger one?"
Lauren asked. "If it was just to heal the younger sister, she wouldn't have set up a barrier against Williams, would she? She was only hostile to the winged runt until that happened, and yet..."
She groaned, sitting back in her chair. "We might have a fucking rat."
The reaper felt concerned. "You really think Justine would...?" “Would what?”
an amused voice asked. “Decide to abandon you for another, stronger Patron? One who wasn’t as spineless and indecisive as you? I mean, it’s a distinct possibility,”
the voice continued, although its source remained unseen. At least, until a tear was rent in the fabric of whatever constituted The Cradle’s reality, beyond which a diminutive girl wearing goggles and an oversized lab coat was siting in a hover chair, grinning maniacally as she gently stroked a small eldritch creature. “Wanna find out?”
The two witches tensed up at the sudden appearance of Dr. Nykannis, both with different reactions. "Wh-What?!"
The truthful jabs at Maura turned her concern to dread. She had to be lying, right?? RIGHT???
While Lauren unfurled one of her bladed fans, eyeing the mad doc in case she tried to attack. For someone who managed to tear through reality into somewhere as secure as the Cradle, she had to be dangerous. "Here I was thinking the little shit just made a bargain. How do we know you're telling the truth??"
Though before the Witch of Order got an answer, someone else decided to pop up. "Because, my dear friends!!"
From the background of Nykannis's location, the deranged "Witch" of Time called out. Popping into view as soon as she donned a different visage
. Something about her presence seemed...off-putting, even without the other intruder being here. "She's not the only one who saw what happened!"
Jennifer vouched for the scientist. Then she looked towards Maura with an amused grin, much to her dismay. "Gotta say, I almost feel bad for you. But it'll be goddamn hilarious to see your reaction to the real deal."
She stiffled a cackle.
Lauren shuddered. "Okay. Definetly don't trust you. ...In fact, don't I know- Oi!"
Her attention quickly turned back to Maura, who was walking over to the other two. "The hell are you thinking?!" "I'll be fine."
Maura looked over her shoulder to the green haired girl with a frown. "Something tells me I have to do this. Just wait 'till Val gets back, okay?"
Once Maura had entered Nykannis’s lab, the hole in the dimensional fabric closed once more. “Glad to see you still have at least some backbone,”
the mad scientist told her guest. “As for what actually happened during Sann and Justine’s little ‘secret chat’, well… See for yourself.”
With a snap of her fingers, the ultratech lab around them would be replaced by the shore of a lake in the Overcity, beside which sat Sann, Caroline, and Justine. ”Well, now you got your minute,”
Justine was saying. “Make it count.”
After watching the scene play out, Nykannis turned to Maura. “So? Whatdya think?”
As Maura began to watch what happened, Jennifer walked up next to her. As the former slowly felt mortified, seeing the consequences of her action come full circle, the latter's amused grin turned sinister in nature. And once it was done with, once Nykannis addressed the Witch of Death again, there was only one thought she had in her mind: "What have I done...?"
She said outloud, eyes dreadfully afixed to where the scene once was. “You gained possession of the possibly Penny-tier champion of an eldritch horror and then forgot to put her on a tight enough leash,”
Nykannis replied. “Or on any leash at all, actually. Y’know, if memory serves, one of your little minions told you that something like this was probably gonna happen, but you obviously didn’t consider it all that likely, huh? How about now? Oh, and, I gotta say, if someone who fatally stabbed herself to win an ass shoving contest is the genre savvy one, you know you’ve got problems. Thankfully, I’m here to fix things for you,”
she added with a twisted grin.
Letting Nykannis say her piece, Jennifer spoke up next. "So how does it feel, hm?"
She spoke in almost a low whisper, taunting Maura. "To lose one agent, and risk your reputation with the rest, just cause you wanted to play nice to a stupid girl who'd rather be the girlfriend to a psychotic angel than to stay with you?"
She circled Maura as if she was prey. And she might as well be. "To be one-uped by an Empress class Magical Girl that doesn't deserve to put up with someone as spineless as you?" "Go to hell..."
Maura tried to block out their words, ignore her
stare, her only response to the lunatic witch being a low growl. Though that was short-lived when Jennifer shortened the distance between them, looking her dead in the eye with a deranged grin. She flinched in response. "How does it feel knowing you're the most pathetic, weak-willed agent of Death I've ever had the displeasure of associating with?!"
Her grin twisted into a genuine scowl. "Like, man alive, Morri- "It's Maura!"
The Witch of Death tried to snap back. "WHATEVER! Do you really think playing nice with these fickle fucks would always end with sunshine and rainbows?!"
Jennifer backed up, spreading her arms out in emphasis. "People are selfish, Maura! No matter what you do, they'll be looking out for themselves, one way or another!"
She put a hand on her hip. "Like I know Sann's goddamn desperate to get some fuck, but you should've been more aware of this. You don't need kindness, ou need respect! fear!
For once, her cheshire grin became somewhat
normal. "People need to fear death, Maura. They need to fear you.
The Witch of Death went silent in thought. A short moment passed, and she turned to look at Nykannis. "...What do you have in mind?"
Her brows furrowed. “I’m glad you asked,”
Nykannis replied. “To start with, I’ve heard that one of the hand holders you brought in, ‘I must restore my honor’, not Casper the friendly ghost, seriously wants to fight the Brave Little Toaster herself, so I thought I’d give him a not-so-little power boost. I mean, he’s almost guaranteed to fail, but I thought it might be fun to see just how strong I could make him. Besides,”
the mad scientist added. “I’ve been needing a good test subject to try my new types of Cosmic Omniversal Infusion Numiouspheric Synthesizers on, and who better than someone who’s crazy enough to take on the Grand Magistrate’s favorite Patron Champion?”
Maura's eyes widened, despite the extra jabs. "You mean Finn??"“That’s right,”
Nykannis confirmed. “I had the dubious pleasure of running into him at the Christmas Party, and he seemed to be having a not-so-low-key panic attack over all the shit going on in Penrose.” "Still prefer calling him Ifrit or Inferno, but yep. Still don't know where the honor part came from."
Jen looked back to Nykannis. "And if he does fail, that'd mean I have to step in. Since I wanna try and avoid that outcome, we'll have to test the waters first before taking the dive. I'll explain further when we get our dear vessel here."
She then turned her attention to tinkering with her disguise tech. “Yeah, a test run would certainly be preferable,”
Nykannis agreed. “And keeping yourself out of the spotlight is definitely for the best. You’re fun to chat with, and I wouldn’t want the Grand Magistrate to get annoyed and have you accidentally erase yourself from existence. Still, who, or what, were you thinking of testing him out on?” "There's plenty of options back in Penrose! But I'm mostly talking about the Wonderland court."
The time witch spun back around to face Nykannis. "Could also sick 'em on someone like Rachel, but apparently these fellas are not to be taken lightly. It's perfect timing, I tell ya!" "Hmmm. I'll see about dragging him here."
Even though Maura didn't know how he or Oliver would react to just Finn being subjected to this, she went ahead and called the latter through Magicoms. “Think you can manage that?”
Nykannis asked, not even trying
to hide her derision. “Otherwise, I could just open a portal to wherever he currently happens to be brooding.”
Maura simply rolled her eyes, continuing to explain to the boy what the deal is through their coms. She walked over to the nearest shadow and formed a portal to the Cradle there, and reached in to gently tug him through. Looks like he was untransformed at the moment.
Soon as he stepped out into the Lab, Finn's eyes lit up, looking around the new sights before following Maura back to the other two. "This place is fucking amazing."
He said to no one in particular. “You better believe it is!”
Nykannis declared. “Welcome to my Lab! Now, how would you like to have an upgrade?” "Well, I've been long overdue for one, yeah. Maura already let me know what's up."
He shrugged, then appearing uncertain. "...This isn't gonna hurt, is it?"
He asked, arms crossed. “Only if you want it to,”
the mad scientist replied with a maniacal grin. "No thanks on that end."
Finn quickly shook his head. “All right,”
Nykannis said with an amused chuckle. “Then let’s get started!”
With that, five palm-sized coins flashed into being. An emerald coin was positioned before the magical boy, while an amethyst coin floated behind him. To either side hovered a diamond coin, while above him shimmered a multi-colored prism coin. Suspended around these was a shell of twelve Topaz coins, which along with the others, glowed with ever-increasing intensity.“By focusing my ultratechnomystic power through the lens of these new COINS I’ve developed, I can multiply my enhancement abilities a hundred fold! Nyahahaha!”
the Monarch of Mad Science declared with a deranged cackle as tentacular mechadendrites emerged from her back and her hands morphed into bizarre manipulator arrays. “So, got any particular improvements in mind?”
she asked as her various appendages positioned themselves in front of each suspended coin. “Or should I just go all out?”
With widened eyes Finn looked at the coins that floated around him, coins that not even he knew were possible. He was starting to feel a bit nervous, but... "No preference. Just do what you have to."
He took the moment to transform, just in case. His eye remained it's original color. Maura and Jennifer stepped back, even if the former appeared worried. “Nyahahaha! That’s exactly what I wanted to hear!”
the mad scientist cackled, before setting to work, swirling clouds of transphasic metaphysical nanites assisting her various manipulator appendages to enhance Finn’s various physical and magical attributes to previously unimagined levels, while simultaneously imbuing him with truly staggering levels of power. There was a blur of motion, followed by a loud *Zeeshoom!*, and a mighty flash of prismatic light, after which the various manipulators and nano swarms dispersed and retracted, leaving Finn standing visibly unchanged, aside from a swiftly fading glow. Internally, however, much
had changed. In particular, the magical boy would find all of his stats had been quadrupled…“Nyahahaha! So, whatdaya think?!”
Nykannis asked eagerly. “You now have the abilities of an Emperor-class magical boy, with your various perks and powers being enhanced accordingly. Plus, you’ve now got activateable invulnerability, access to the omnispec state, and the option to use a Killing Blow attack, although the chances of it actually hitting its intended target are entirely out of my hands. And to ensure you have enough Metaphysical Aetheric Numinousphere Accelerator to fuel all those additional powers, I’m letting you tap into my own personal power accumulator pocket dimension, which you can basically think of as a mana font on steroids. Oh, and I gave you an extra special treat as well,”
she added with a crazed gleam in her eyes. “See, even if you were a billion times stronger than Penny, she’d still wipe the floor with you in a straight up fight, simply because the Grand Magistrate won’t let her lose. HOWEVER, only a total idiot would ever engage her in a straight up fight in the first place. An intelligent person would exploit one of her MASSIVE weaknesses, in particular, her paranoia, and her generally brittle as all fucking hell mental state. Like I was telling Jen here a while back, when it comes to overpowered Mary Sues, you need to mess with their minds… And so, to facilitate that, and to really synergize with the whole chunni ‘my demon eye holds an awesome power’ look you’ve got going on, I implanted a nightmare ray into your eye socket. The one that’s covered up. It’s a little less powerful than the nightmare cannon I recently created, but it should serve you just fine, so long as you only use it on Penny. That’s another thing,”
the mad scientist added, raising a finger for emphasis. “These upgrades are only intended for use against her Mechanical Majesty. I mean, you could use them all the time, but something tells me the Grand Magistrate would take objection to that, so while I REALLY hate to say it, this is one of those rare situations where less is more.”
She paused for a moment to stare intently at the empowered magical boy. “You get all that?”
The boy quickly nodded. So this was like some weird Cinderella type beat, huh? One chance to be able to do something he wanted before things went back to normal. As much as he atleast wanted to keep the boost in strength, he understood what the mad scientist ment.
Then there's the deal with his bandaged eye's little upgrade that made his brows rose. "I only cover that eye up cause a failed experiment left me partially blind."
He explained, unamused at how she described his appearance. "But...thanks."
Regardless, he gave her a crooked smile. "There's a bit of a problem though."
Jennifer spoke up, one of her eyes having changed back to it's original gold. A screen-like window through reality appeared in front of her face, looking back into Penrose. "Since Beacon's caught wind of the Wonderland court, Penny's gonna be out visiting some higher ups to get more information about them. Unfortunate that Valerie got walled off from hacking further into their database. Anyways, unless you want to catch her before she leaves or some shit? Yeah..."
She slightly frowned. “Oh, my pleasure,”
Nykannis replied with a grin. “And I wouldn’t be too bothered about that,”
she added once Jen had voiced her concern. “Penny won’t be gone for long, and something tells me ‘tall, dark, and brooding’ here is gonna need a LOT more help if he’s serious about overthrowing her Mechanical Majesty. I mean, I could just give him all that extra stuff now, but where’s the fun in that? This’ll kinda be like a quest, a journey of self improvement,”
the mad scientist explained. “Y’know, your very own training montage. The Grand Magistrate loves that shit. It makes for a better narrative. I mean, who wants to see someone get everything they want without putting in any work for it? That’s no fun to watch or read about. So, yeah, I’m sure Jen here knows a few people who might be interested in helping you out,”
she told Finn with a smirk. “Though I’m not so sure you’ll actually enjoy working with them.”
The false witch turned her attention back to Finn, who gave Nykannis a quick unamused look. "That's where the test run comes into play. If things look fine and dandy into next downtime, I can introduce you to another friend of mine. You might have seen her at the Christmas event."
She explained to him. "She's kind of a weirdo, yeah, but her old goals and yours currently align. I know she'll be willing to help."
Jen smirked. "Okay but...who are you exactly? Why are you wanting to help??"
Finn rose a brow. "All you need to know is that I'm a friend that's rooting for ya."
She shrugged. “And I am Doctor Nykannis, Queen of the Mad Scientists! Nyahahaha!”
Nykannis added. “As for why I’ve chosen to bestow the gifts of my super-scientific brilliance upon your angsty, edgelord self, well… To quote my cryptic friend here, let’s just say because I was bored.”
Finn gave the duo a comical look, before pointing at Nykannis. "Understandable."
He turned to Maura. "Guess we should head back by now?" "Yeah. I have a lot to think about."
The reaper nodded, feeling disgusted both at herself and Justine, but also determined to set things right.