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Dana frowned when she heard the annoyance in Penny’s voice. “Hey, I was only messin’ around!” the Norban protested. “I mean, you are really fun to tease, but I didn’t wanna make ya feel uncomfortable or anything, honest! I just thought that ya might have a bit more fun if ya opened up a little and got to know some of the other people here. And let’s face it,” she added with a grin. “You’re kinda a celebrity, so I’m sure they’ll wanna get to know you!

Soon enough, the pair had reached the trio of young men. Incidentally, and much to Dana’s amusement, the officer cadets seemed just as nervous as Penny, but after introductions had been made, the tallest of their number managed to muster up the courage to ask Penny for a dance. Dana, meanwhile, received an invitation from a cadet who, although slightly shorter, was far more massive. Noah, the cadet in question, presented a stark contrast to the rather diminutive Dana, and the pair made quite the incongruous sight as the moved about the dance floor. Thankfully, both seemed to have enough dancing ability to keep things from becoming too awkward.

“My parents made me learn how to dance a little,” Noah explained. “But it’s been a while.”

“That’s cool,” Dana observed. “And you’re doing great! I recently got some lessons from my teammate, Vanna,” she added. “So hopefully I shouldn’t mess up too badly,” the cheerful Norban giggled.

Noah went on to say that he, too, hailed from Norba, which made Dana’s smile grow even wider. “Wow, really? That’s awesome! And yeah, it’s kinda crazy to think how far away from home we are,” she added. “But I don’t really mind it all that much. I mean, being chosen as an Ars Magi and gettin’ to come to Nova Lux is like somethin’ right outta my favorite stories and shows, a real adventure! How about you?” she asked her muscular partner. “Have ya been enjoyin’ your time here so far?”



Still standing safely behind Penny, MDP continued to glower at Oros as she listened to Dan’s little spiel. She wanted to protest that she didn’t have a chance to “stand up for herself”, since Oros had taken her completely by surprise, but she begrudgingly decided to remain quiet until the dolphin finished. “Okie dokie, Danny Wanny…” she mumbled, still looking quite upset.

Oros then gave a more formal apology, although even someone as innocent as MDP could clearly tell that the beast girl wasn’t even remotely sorry for what she’d done. And for some reason, she kept calling MDP “Baby”.

“Like, Magical Dream Princess isn’t a baby waby!” the whimsical girl shot back. “She’s super duper sweet sixteenie weanie!” And as evidence of her maturity, the indigent Princess of Dreams stuck her tongue out at the departing Oros.

She then heard Penny’s distorted voice offer her an apology for not stopping Oros sooner, which brought a smile back to the whimsical girl’s face.

“Like, it’s okie dokie, Penny Wenny~!” MDP told her cheerfully. “You totally wotally saved Magical Dream Princess from that awful wawful meanie weanie, and that’s all that matter watters~!”

Turning to look at Penny, MDP watched in childish wonderment as her mechanical girlfriend removed her warped appendages and regrew new ones to replace them. Such a sight might have creeped out some people, but for MDP, the process was utterly fascinating. “Wowie zowie~!” she exclaimed. “Penny Wenny fixed herselfy welfy aaaall up~! (giggle!) That’s just sooo super duper cooly wooly~” she added in a dreamy tone.

Once Penny had finished repairing herself, she asked what MDP wanted to do next, noting that they would probably have some of the more relaxing activities all to themselves. That was something MDP could definitely appreciate, especially after all the excitement and drama that had just transpired.

“Ice skating wating sounds super duper nicey wicey~” MDP replied, her face once more taking on a dreamy look as she imagined how romanic it would be to skate with her girlfriend. “Magical Dream Princess always wanted to go skating wating,” she explained. “But she was never ever able wable to, so she would just wuv it if she and Penny Wenny could do it together wether~! (giggle!) But firsty worsty, she has something super duper important wortant to do~!” Waving her magic wand, she conjured a swarm of giggling ice fairies, which swiftly set to work rebuilding the ruined snow fort. In no time at all, the whimsical spires of a new fortress rose up to tower over the former battlefield. “Tadaaa~!”

!!!

-MDP



At first, the pink-haired meanie (Oros was it?) didn’t say anything. In fact, the girl had closed her eyes and appeared to be meditating. Perhaps this girl found it difficult to apologize to others, or admit that she had made a mistake. MDP could understand that, as she had a similar problem as her normal self, although she was working hard to change that. Maybe this girl was doing the same? In that case, and despite her anger, MDP resolved to give this girl the benefit of the doubt and allow her to apologize in her own time.

Meanwhile, their Christmas Tree (who was apparently named Eliza) had started talking, and she seemed more than a little irritated.

“Y-You’re not a Christmas Wistmas Tree?!” the whimsical girl gasped when Eliza took off her hat to demonstrate that fact. “Like, Magical Dream Princess didn’t know you were a magical wagical girl person werson! She’s, like, super duper sorry worry, Eliza Wiza…” she added with an apologetic frown.

Eliza then asked about something called Keijo, which, after another girl explained the details, sounded like a very odd activity indeed. Eliza seemed to agree, as she promptly walked away after the other girl finished explaining.

It was at this point that Oros finally decided to offer her apology, although what happened next left MDP utterly speechless. Before she knew it, the whimsical girl had been roughly embraced by Oros, who then proceeded to give her a VERY unwelcome kiss. For a moment she was too stunned to even think. Her eyes went wide, her face turned a bright shade of crimson, and tears streamed down her cheeks. Once the initial shock had passed, and MDP realized that Oros’s lips were still pressed firmly against hers, the whimsical girl felt an overwhelming mixture of disgust, shame, and fury well up inside her.

While Penny might have been the most powerful being on the planet for all MDP knew, the robotic girl still treated her with such profound gentleness. This girl, on the other hand, was vicious and wild, little more than an animalistic predator. Being kissed by her felt like the assault of some savage beast. It was easily the most unpleasant experience of the whimsical girl’s life, and she just wanted it to end. But still it continued. However, even worse than the awful physical sensations was the knowledge that her girlfriend was watching this horrific, shameful scene unfold. Oros wasn’t just doing this to hurt MDP, she was doing it to hurt Penny as well, and that was something the Princess of Dreams refused to abide. Unfortunately, there was little she could do to escape Oros’s clutches. In fact, she could barely move. All she could do was hope that Penny would save her from this nightmare before it got any worse.





.:⋮A Line Crossed⋮:.


Three seconds.

That was the sum total amount of time that Penny had looked away from Oros. And when those three seconds elapsed, the rest of the world dissolved into static at the scene in front of her. Penny already didn’t like Oros, and this stint with ruining everyone’s fun didn’t do much to mend that perception of her.

And now this.

Penny was moving before anyone else could. Her eyes were blazing, but they were a vibrant electric blue, no hint of tale-tell red that normally accompanied her anger. In an instant she closed the distance between her and Oros and she reached out and grabbed the offending creep by the back of the neck. Her hidden limbs unfurled in the same moment, lashing out and grabbing Oros’ wandering hands. All of her appendages were gripping hard enough to bruise a magical, if not crack bone.

Once Penny had Oros in her grasp she would violently drag her off of MDP, her remaining two limbs snaking out to gently catch her girlfriend. Then, with Oros still in her grasp, Penny would pivot and plant her fist directly on the monster girl's jaw with a clinical right hook. One that Penny did not hold back on delivering. In fact, she dragged Oros into the punch with her control over the other girls’ arms making it more akin to a jolt counter.

Penny would release her grip a moment after her fist made contact, letting the punch serve double duty of tossing Oros away from her, and more importantly, MDP. Then with all of her spider legs half curled around MDP protectively she would pin Oros with a cold, hateful gaze.

In total it took her two seconds to rectify the situation. Five more than she ever wanted to give Oros.

“Alright, that’s enough, girls!”

At that moment, a puff of blue smoke exploded between Penny and Oros, causing Penny to release her hold. The smoke revealed Dan, who had transformed once more into a muscular figure.



He pointed a finger at Penny and shot a blue beam of magic, turning Penny’s arms into clothes hangers with ball points and her spider limbs into simple springs.

“I am very disappointed in you, Penny. You should know better than to let Oros aggravate you like this.” He then glanced at Oros, who also received a beam, turning her nose into a big red clown nose that honked every time she spoke.

“And you need to learn self-restraint, Oros. I can forgive the use of the satellite, but not this childish behavior.” He crossed his arms and stepped aside. “Now, I’m not going to end the spells I have placed on you two, until you have apologized to each other properly.”

Penny would stay silent at Dan’s arrival, not because she was waiting for Oros to try and properly apologize or anything, she doubted that Oros could at this point, but because her anger had rendered her mute. Even now simply processing anything that the Patron had said was proving difficult. She was aware of the curse that had been placed on her, so she did know that Dan was punishing her, but everything else he had said was still just static.

MDP gasped for air when Penny rescued her from Oros, before making a disgusted face and spitting on the ground. “Icky wicky! Like, that was sooo super duper nasty wasty! Super duper thankie wankies, Penny Wenny~” she added in a softer voice as she gave her girlfriend a gentle smile.

The next thing she knew, Dan had appeared and begun scolding Penny and Oros. While MDP certainly agreed with the beast girl receiving a reprimand, she didn’t think that Penny deserved the same treatment. “Like, Penny Wenny didn’t do anythingie wingie wrong, Danny Wanny!” the whimsical girl protested. “She was just trying to save Magical Dream Princess from this meanie weanie pervert wervert!” she explained glaring at the pink-haired beast girl with a look of furious contempt.

Simply hearing MDP’s voice allowed Penny to start relaxing. Understanding what had been said could, and would, come later, her gaze didn’t lighten, but her stance lost some of it’s blatant hostility. Not all of it, or even most of it, but enough for those watching to be able to tell she wasn’t about to attack Oros again. For the moment at least.


Connie was somewhat taken aback when Oros handed her a toaster, of all things. Still, she had been given a gift, and no matter how odd it was, Connie appreciated her quirky friend’s generosity.

“O-Oh! Uhh… T-Thanks!” Connie told the pink-haired girl, trying not to sound too shocked by Oros’s idea of a present.

The chaotic beast girl then said she had to go help someone with a very odd-sounding name and darted off, saying they’d talk again later.

“O-Okay…!” Connie called after her, giving her a shaky wave. “S-See you l-later, Oros!”

Connie had just finished putting the toaster in her sack of presents, when she heard Gaia call out to her, saying that she and Shane were leaving the lodge. After wishing them a good time, the timid girl began looking around for someone to hang out with. She saw Amanda talking with a somewhat intimidating group, but she really didn’t want to intrude, so she continued looking. Lily was also chatting with a few friends, as was Emily. She had briefly glimpsed Ronin and Miko, but they didn’t seem to be in the lodge at the moment. Then there was Rose and Iris. They didn’t look like they were otherwise occupied, so Connie tentatively made her way over.

“M-Merry Christmas, Rose! M-Merry Christmas, Iris!” She greeted the twins, giving them a happy smile. “A-Are you e-enjoying yourselves s-so f-far?”

The twins had been left behind with Kayli having told them to stay here. Seemed the older girl felt safe enough to go off with some stranger. Iris looked more frustrated than her sister over the matter. When Connie came over though she tried to relax a bit more.

”Merry Christmas, Connie. It’s alright so far. This is my first one so I’m not really sure what’s going on.” She glanced at the list of events going on.

Rose would move in close to look at the list. ”Ooh, have they done the snowman one yet?”

“G-Gosh, I h-hope not!” Connie replied, clasping her trembling hands together. “I was r-really l-looking f-forward to that!” A moment later, a blur of motion caught her attention. The source quickly revealed itself to be Lily, who was rapidly setting up chairs in preparation for some imminent stage performance. “Oh! I-It l-looks like there’s g-going to be a s-show starting s-soon. W-Would you l-like to w-watch it t-together?”

”Sure! That sounds like fun.” Waiting a bit for seats to be placed Rose would take Connie and her sister to take a seat. It didn’t take long for the show to begin and they would watch as Maura went first on stage.

Connie was excited to see what kind of Christmas show would be performed, and as Maura began her ballet routine, accompanied by a hauntingly beautiful rendition of Carol of the Bells, Connie found herself captivated by the patron’s graceful movements across the stage. Unfortunately, the performance soon took a turn for the sinister, and it wasn’t long before a frightened Connie was clinging tightly to Rose, her eyes squeezed shut. “T-Tell m-me w-w-when i-it’s o-over,” the trembling girl whispered to her friend.

Rose held onto her friend while Iris watched. The play concluded the blue haired girl leaned over. ”I think it’s done now.” She said as she clapped. Perhaps they should move on to some other activity that didn’t involve potentially scary narratives or being pelted by snow.

“T-T-Thanks, I-Iris,” Connie whispered as she released her grip on Rose. “I-It s-started out n-nice, b-but I w-wasn’t e-expecting t-there to b-be any s-scary m-monsters…”

A moment later, Dan appeared and announced that the first winter events would soon begin- snowman building and ice sculpting.

“Oh! L-Let’s go b-build a s-snowman t-together!” Connie told the twins, her demeanor noticeably brightening. “M-Mia and I do it e-every w-winter, a-and it’s a-always a l-lot of f-fun!”

Rose would smile and jump to her feet. ”Yeah, that sounds like fun. This would be my first snowman.”

”Mine too.” She would stand as well and they would begin to head out and be met with a portal.

“T-This is your f-first t-time?!” Connie gasped. “O-Oh, g-gosh! I-I’m so excited for you!” she added, smiling brightly.

Once they arrived at the location for the snowman event, Connie began gathering some snow together. “S-Since y-you’ve n-never d-done this b-before, w-we s-should probably m-make something s-simple,” she suggested. “A-After all, s-snowman building s-should be f-fun, a-and I d-don’t really l-like c-competition… S-So, um, j-just g-gather some s-snow together and r-roll it into a b-big b-ball,” she instructed. “T-Then we m-make a s-smaller b-ball for the c-chest, a-and an even s-smaller one for the h-head. A-After t-that, we can s-start decorating him! T-That’s the m-most fun p-part of a-all!”

Rose and Iris followed the instructions and began packing and rolling snow. They had a good size for the bottom and then the middle. The head though Rose made a comically small ball and plopped it on top. ”Tada!” She would giggle.

“O-Oh, umm, I g-guess t-that works…” Connie observed upon seeing their snowman’s diminutive head. “I-It s-sorta does look cuter l-like that,” she added after thinking it over a moment. Picking up some thin branches, she gave the snowman a pair of comically long arms, before going over to a nearby supply shack and picking out a red and green striped scarf. However, when she put it on, she found that it was far too big for their creation’s tiny noggin. “Uh, I d-don’t think a-any of the c-clothing o-over t-there will f-fit him…” she noted despondently as she inserted two pebbles for eyes. “H-He’s k-kinda s-strange l-looking, huh?” she added with a frown. “I-I h-hope he d-doesn’t get b-bullied…” she added, being quite familiar with just how awful it was to be picked on. “I-I know!” she exclaimed, her demeanor brightening as a thought occurred to her. “W-We can m-make him some f-friends, so he w-won’t be l-lonely o-or made f-fun of!” After using her finger to give their deformed snowman a big smile, Connie set about building a collection of slightly smaller snowmen. This time, she used only two snowballs, one for the head and a larger one for the body. She was also careful to ensure that they were able to wear the various items of winter clothing available in the supply shack. “H-How are y-yours c-coming along?” she asked the twins.

Rose had just meant to make a funny snowman. It seemed Connie thought other of it. ”Oh uh… I didn’t mean…” However their friend eventually came up with an idea to make their oddly proportioned creation some friends. ”Yeah, we can do that.”

Iris made a snowman with some more regular proportions. Taking some sticks she would put them in as arms, one of them on the tiny headed snowman’s shoulder. Bits of coal would make up the eyes and mouth. Meanwhile her sister made a second snowman like Connie’s so they had a total of four friends.

Soon, the four snowy friends had turned to eight, as Connie got a little carried away in her snowman building (she really likes making snowmen). When she finally took a moment to rest, she saw just how wholesome the little gathering they’d created was. “O-Oh my g-gosh!” she squeed with delight. “T-They look so adorable!” she added, pulling out her phone and snapping a few pictures. “Y-You guys did a g-great job!”

”You too. I didn’t expect to make so many. But they look good together.” She stood back and admired their work. An eclectic bunch of snowmen for sure. Not as elaborate as some of the others, but charming in their own right. Rose would pull out her phone and take several pictures.

“U-Umm, I t-think the n-next event is ice s-sculpting,” Connie would note. “I-I’ve n-never done that b-before, so m-maybe w-we could t-try to m-make s-something s-simple together?” she would ask tentatively.

Rose’s eyes would grow wide for a moment. Ice sculpting? ”Yeah I’ve never done that before. I’d be willing to give it a shot.” How did one work with ice anyway?

The answer to that was simpler and more complicated than expected. While some worked with simple tools, others used their magic to cut and carve. ”Hm, what should we make?” She wasn’t actually sure what should be made. Crafts weren’t something she was really done.

Connie gave a small gasp when they arrived at the ice sculpting area. So many amazing pieces had already been made, and she took a few moments to simply admire everyone’s work. “G-Gosh! T-They’re all s-so beautiful!” she gushed as she moved from glowing, ringed orb to rotating carousel of dancers. “B-But, uh, w-we p-probably s-shouldn’t try to c-compete with t-them…” she added, looking slightly downcast. “W-We can just m-make something s-simple, b-but s-still cute. A-As l-long as we’re h-having f-fun, it d-doesn’t really m-matter if it’s f-fancy or n-not. O-Oh, I know!” she exclaimed with a big smile. “W-We can each m-make a s-snowbun!”

Rose clapped her hands together. ”Those would be cute. Let’s do it!”

Setting to work, Connie used the tools provided to begin carving out her snowbun. Since the actual creature had an extremely simple body shape, it was fairly easy for even a total amateur like her to sculpt a rough approximation of its form. The ears were the hardest part, but with a little refinement, they turned out well enough. After that, she added the finishing touches, giving her replica two small eyes and a mouth. It wasn’t a work of art by any stretch of the imagination, but it was still quite cute, and Connie was very pleased with what she’d managed to accomplish. Turning to look at what the twins had created, she smiled brightly. “W-Wow! Y-You guys are r-really good at this! T-Those are b-both a l-lot better than w-what I made.”

Iris glanced between the three sculptures they made. ”You think so?” Not being much of an artist she didn’t really think hers was that much better. She would arrange the snowbuns together and step back. ”I think they all look great. You did a good job.”

“T-Thanks, Iris,” Connie replied, blushing slightly at the compliment. Dan then proceeded to reveal the next event- ice skating, which caused Connie to noticeably pale. “U-Umm… I-I’ve a-always w-wanted to t-try and learn h-how to ice s-skate, b-but, uh, I-I’m k-kinda c-clumsy, sooo… C-Could y-you guys p-please s-skate w-with me a-and m-make sure I d-don’t fall?” she asked as she hesitantly approached the portal leading to the ice rink.

”We can do that.”

Iris would put her hands on her hips. ”Rose, we don’t even know how to ice skate.

Oh yeah… well, maybe we can ask Kayli. She’s like super smart and knows a lot of things.” Taking a look around she didn’t really see their charge anywhere ”Maybe she’s at the ice skating. Let’s go and we’ll figure it out.” She would smile and lead Connie and Iris through the portal.

Like, Magical Dream Princess is having sooo much fun~! (giggle!) Huh~? What's that soundy woundy~?

-MDP

@Shifter_Master @Majoras End @PlatinumSkink @FamishedPants @BrokenPromise


MDP tilted her head when Penny began talking to their new tree. “Eliza Wiza~?” she asked, clearly somewhat perplexed. “Like, does Penny Wenny know this Christmas Wistmas Tree~?”

Before Penny could respond, a mighty gust of wind drew everyone’s attention skyward, where the clouds had parted to reveal a giant satellite shaped like Dan’s head. “Wowie zowie~! What’s that thingie wingie~?!” MDP exclaimed with gleeful wonderment. "It's, like, sooo biggy wiggy~! (giggle!)" A moment later, her bright spirits were quite literally dampened as it disgorged a colossal torrent of water, which swept over the snowy battleground and washed away all the various fortifications.

“Golly wolly!” MDP cried in alarm as the deluge surged towards them. The whimsical girl knew she couldn’t save their fort, or Penny’s various clones, but she could at least protect Penny herself. Rushing over to her robotic girlfriend, MDP quickly conjured a massive umbrella. “Don’t worry, Penny Wenny~! You’ll be safey wafey under heresie~!”

After the deluge had subsided, MDP dispelled the giant umbrella and looked around, her expression becoming more anguished with each passing second.

“O-Our fort…” she whimpered sullenly. “A-All Penny Wenny’s hard work… W-We were all having so much fun together wether, and… A-And… And YOU ruined it!” she shrieked while casting a withering glare at the pink-haired girl who was clearly responsible. “That wasn’t very nicey wicey!” she continued, while placing her hands on her hips and making an adorable pouty face. “This was a snowball wowball fight, not a water battle wattle! You totally wotally cheated weated!” The childish magical girl then gave voice a horrified gasp. “And nowie you’re stealing wealing our Christmas Wistmas Tree?!” she cried angrily, her eyes beginning to fill with tears. “You’re a super duper meanie weanie head, and Magical Dream Princess wants you to apologize wologize to everybodywody right nowie!”





The Laurus girls’ night on the town turned out to be one of the most enjoyable experiences of Dana’s young life. The cheerful Norban had relished the opportunity to bond with her new friends, and while she had gone on similar outings back home, none of them had quite compared to this. And Dana knew she wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Her bespectacled roommate had joyfully taken in the various sights and sounds with the wonderment of one entirely unused to such things, while Nicole had been like a dazzling whirlwind as she guided them to each new location and interacted with the locals as though she were a native of the city. In fact, even Vanna and Astrelle seemed to be having fun as the quartet’s tour took them from arcade, to shop, to restaurant, to movie theater, to nightclub, and then back to the arcade once more for another game of Duel of Destiny (although that might have just been Dana and Penny, it was all something of a blur). Even now, several days later, the night was still fresh in her mind, even as a far different evening was about to begin…

Right from the outset, there had been a considerable surprise, in the form of Astrelle’s absence. Had she quit? Been reassigned? Expelled? None of their fellow cadets seemed to know, and the academy’s staff were as tightlipped as ever. Dana only hoped their somewhat anti-social friend was all right… Still, the energetic Norban knew that this wasn’t the time or place to worry about such matters. There was a new teammate to meet, and, perhaps more importantly, a suffering roommate to support.

“Why did you talk me into this?” Penny groaned as she fidgeted with her uniform. “I don't know how to dance formally. Should have just faked being sick like I planned, but you dragged me out here anyways.”

Although Penny had been dreading the ball ever since it had been announced, Dana was very much looking forward to the experience and had insisted that Penny not chicken out of it.

“Hey, I’m completely lost when it comes to this formal stuff, too,” the energetic Norban told her roommate with a grin. “But it’s still pretty cool to meet all these high-ranking people, and who knows? Maybe we can even make some new friends?! Or maaaybe a new boyfriend? she added mischievously while gently elbowing her bespectacled friend under the table. “That group of guys from the officers’ academy over there are lookin’ kinda bored,” she noted, gesturing at a small cluster of young men with her thumb. “I’m sure they’d love to meet two genuine Ars Magi, so why don’t we go over and introduce ourselves?! And don’t worry about feelin’ embarrassed,” she added as she got up and proceeded to pull Penny to her feet as well. “I know ya might not be the best in social situations, but just think of this as another kinda battle! If ya go in there with that good ol’ Penny Grenoble confidence, I’m sure everything’ll work out!”

Like, Magical Dream Princess just wuvs our snow fort~! (giggle!) But, like, she can’t help feeling weeling that something womething is missing wissing…

-MDP

@Shifter_Master @Majoras End @PlatinumSkink @FamishedPants @BrokenPromise


“Awww~!” MDP squealed with delight when Penny mentioned going on a sleigh ride. “That soundy woundies super duper romantic wantic~! (giggle!) Magical Dream Princess hasn’t ever wever been on a sleigh ride beforesie, but she always walways wanted to go on one ever wever since she was really little wittle~!”

Penny went on to say that, while she liked the idea of simply staying in their fort, she would rather do all the various wintery events. MDP giggled happily when Penny gave her a hug. Being a massive cuddle bug herself, she loved it when her girlfriend acted so affectionately, and she made sure to snuggle up close, a contented smile on her face. Her smile grew when Penny expressed her desire to meet all of MDP’s friends, and have the whimsical girl meet hers as well. “Magical Dream Princess would totally wotally wuv that~! (giggle!) Making new friendy wendies is, like, one of her most favorite wavorite thingie wingies in the whole wide worldsie~! (giggle!)”

Watching as the various other Penneys set about making an even larger version of Mayra’s massive snowball, MDP’s eyes glittered with delight. “Like, totally wotally~! (giggle!)” MDP replied when Penny asked if their snowball had a chance of topping Mayra’s creation. “Like, Mayra Wayra is, like, super duper strong, but you’re, like, super duper mega wega ultra wultra strong~! (giggle!) So, like, Mayra Wayra’s gonna have a really big surprisey wisey when that thingie wingie is finished winished~!”

Speaking of surprises, Penny and MDP were about to meet with a rather unexpected one themselves, as at that very moment, Eliza was attempting to covertly infiltrate their fort. Of course, when one is dressed as a Christmas Tree, going unnoticed is easier said than done…

“Wowie zowie~!” MDP exclaimed. “Like, that’s what we were missing wissing, our very wery own Christmas Wistmas Tree~! (giggle!)” Unfortunately for Eliza, even her darkness magic was unable to hide something as adorable as the outfit she was wearing from someone as childishly exuberant as MDP, and the next thing she would know, the witch would find herself being dragged into the center of the fort. “Like, we have the perfect werfect placey wacey for you, right heresie weresie~! (giggle!)” the hyperactive magical girl would inform her as a pair of friendly-looking snowmen began covering her feet with snow, so as to hold her in place. “Like, all you need nowie is some Christmas Wistmas lights~! (giggle!)” With a wave of her wand, MDP wrapped Eliza up with a string of colorful lights. Once she’d finished with that, the playful girl stood on her tiptoes and tapped her wand against the star on Eliza’s hat, causing it to glow with dazzling brilliance. “Tadaaa~!” MDP announced, looking very pleased with her work.

Wowie zowie~! Magical Dream Princess gets to go firsty worsty againsie~! (giggle!)

-MDP




To MDP’s surprise, the imposing new arrivals didn’t appear to be particularly proficient in making snow forts, creating what was essentially just a big mound of snow and taking shelter behind it. “Golly wolly~! Magical Dream Princess was, like, certain wertain that they would be super duper powerful wowerful, but they’re just super duper silly willy~! (giggle!)” Indeed, they hadn’t even thrown any snowballs yet, although that changed a moment later, when the blue-clad one prepared to hurl a snowball at one of the many Pennys darting about. However, to MDP’s considerable puzzlement, the large, pink-haired one, who looked somewhat familiar, redirected her partner’s throw at the last second. “Like, that’s totally woatally crazy wazy~!” the whimsical girl observed. “Is she, like, a super duper secret wecret agent wagent for our sidey widey~?” MDP wondered aloud, before the sound of a distant explosion caught her attention. “Wowie zowie~! That soundy woundied like a firewirework thingie wingie~! Magical Dream Princess would, like, totally wotally wuv to see firewireworks with Penny Wenny~! (giggle!)" she declared, jumping up and down with gleeful delight. "But, like, it’s not dark enough for that yet, is it~?” she wondered, her face taking on an expression of innocent bewilderment.

A moment later, the two new arrivals swiftly departed, the pink-haired one dragging the boisterous, blue-clad blonde behind her.

“Like, they were pretty strangey wangey, huh, Penny Wenny~?” MDP asked her robotic companion, before her confused expression turned into a beaming smile. “So, like, after wafter we’ve defeated weated Mayra Wayra and her friendy wendies, what other wother super fun event thingies would Penny Wenny like to do~? Magical Dream Princess signed up for them allsie, but, like, she would also be totally wotally okie dokie with just staying heresie weresie and cuddle wuddling~”








Kate and Nykannis were still watching the (incredibly one-sided) snowball fight, when a new voice spoke up and mentioned Nykannis’s work on project Amadeus.

“Well, I did work on a project Amadeus,” Nykannis confirmed. “But it wasn't at anyplace called Viktor Chond...,” her voice trailed off as she realized the full implications of what a new voice speaking to them meant. Whirling around, the mad scientist was confronted with a pink-haired girl who was just a little too close for comfort. “H-How the hell did you get in here?!” she stammered, her eyes seeming to bug out of her head. “The door was locked, and the perception filter around it should have made it impossible to find in the first place! Don’t tell me, you’re another one of those gifted ‘see the unseeable, know the unknowable, row row fight the power’ types, right? Gaah! What is WITH you people?! First Kayli, and now… Wait. WHAT did you just call me?!” she asked, her eyes narrowing and her mouth forming a fierce snarl.

“Great, now you did it…” Kate deadpanned.

“WHY THE HELL DO PEOPLE KEEP COMPARING ME TO THAT TALENTLESS HACK?!!” Nykannis roared. “Just because we look a LITTLE alike DOES NOT MEAN WE’RE THE SAME PERSON!!! AND COSPLAYING?! COSPLAYING?!! SHE’S THE ONE WHO’S COSPLAYING ME!!!

“Yeah, she really hates being compared to Maho,” Kate explained. Major berserk button. Oh, I’m Kate, by the way,” she added, holding up a peace sign. “And this is Nykannis.”

DOCTOR Nykannis,” the other girl corrected. “Queen of the Mad Scientists! And who the hell are you supposed to be? Discount Haruko Haruhara?”

Yaaay~! Magical Dream Princess gets to go firsty worsty this timey wimey~! That makes her sooo super duper happy wappy, she’s gonna use one of these quotey wotey thingie wingies to tell everybodywody~! (giggle!)

-MDP




MDP giggled happily as she skipped inside Penny’s snow fort.

“Golly wolly~!” the whimsical girl gasped as she looked around the interior of the fort with childish wonderment. “There’s, like, sooo many Penny Wennies in heresie~! (giggle!) Like, Magical Dream Princess didn’t know you could duplicatey waitey yourselfy welfy, Penny Wenny~!” she told the mechanical monarch, while smiling from ear to ear. Giving voice to a blissful sigh, her face took on an exceptionally dreamy expression as she watched her girlfriend(s) go about their work. “Penny Wenny’s just sooo super duper cool~”

The original Penny then greeted her with an embrace, and MDP giggled sweetly as she returned the hug. “Awww~ Thanky wanky, Penny Wenny~” the whimsical girl told her robotic girlfriend, while nuzzling her affectionately.

It was about then that a very familiar voice called out over the snowy battlefield, causing MDP to squeal with delight. “Goodie woodie~! Mayra Wayra’s heresie weresie~! (giggle!)” the playful girl cheered as she bounced over to peek out one of the fortress’s view ports. “Wowie zowie~!” she exclaimed a moment later when Mayra revealed her secret weapon. “That’s, like, a super duper snowball wowball~!” MDP’s eyes widened at the sight, and widened even more a moment later, when the draconic girl hurled her creation through the air towards them. However, before it could impact the walls of Penny’s fort, the monster snowball was swallowed by a portal, which vanished as quickly as it had appeared.

MDP stared at the space in stunned silence for several seconds before a bright smile spread across her face. “Mayra Wayra’s super duper giant wiant snowball wowball went bye bye~! (giggle!)” the whimsical girl cheered, clapping her hands and jumping up and down with innocent glee. “Na na na na na, yooou miiiissed~!” she teased, while turning around and shaking her butt at the dragon girl. MDP’s eyes glistened when she heard Penny say that she was her princess, and the playful girl wasted no time in putting her arm around her girlfriend’s waist and snuggling up close. “Awww~ Magical Dream Princess just wuvs when Penny Wenny gets so romantic wantic~” a blushing MDP told the robotic girl, while fluttering her eyes.

After a few seconds of cuddling (which is a long time for someone as hyperactive as MDP), the playful girl turned her attention to the still-raging battle. “Like, Magical Dream Princess thinks it’s, like, super duper sweet that you want to protect her, Penny Wenny, but she wants to helpy welpy, too~! (giggle!)” MDP declared. Waving her wand over the battlements, she conjured several cute snowmen, who set about hurling a massive volley of additional snowballs at the fort’s various attackers. MDP was still admiring her work, when a peal of obnoxious laughter resounded throughout the battlefield. Looking up, the whimsical girl saw the dramatic arrival of two new participants. “Wowie zowie~!” she exclaimed, her eyes sparkling with innocent fascination. “Like, who are those people weple~?!”





A Minor Interlude...


An unremarkable world in an unremarkable corner of an unremarkable universe, Pastoria had never known the clamorous sounds of conflict. The picturesque landscapes of its rural surface were lightly dappled with a few dozen sleepy farming villages, whose quiet, hard-working inhabitants lived a peaceful, unhurried existence. Never caring overmuch for clocks or calendars, they moved through the gentle shifting of the seasons with the same serene placidity displayed by the billowing cloud formations that lazily drifted across the azure sky. There were no schemes, no power plays, no desires for greater land or greater wealth, merely the mundane tasks of daily life. Simple, perhaps, but simplicity has its share of benefits, and the people of Pastoria were content.

Then came the day when everything changed- The day the Dark Legions of Darketh von Darkenstine, Dark Lord of All Darkness descended upon the unsuspecting world…

It didn’t take long. Scarcely more than an hour after their arrival, nearly the entire planet had been subjugated by the dark legions. The peaceful natives offered no resistance and calmly complied with everything demanded of them. It was actually rather disappointing, Ramona Ralorin reflected as she stood on a hill overlooking the final town to be conquered. “They could have at least tried to put up some kind of opposition…” she grumbled, while her legion formed up behind her. A vast host of dark magical girls, monster girls, shadow demons, dark spirits, animated suits of armor and various technomantic war engines all covered in menacing spikes, it presented an imposing sight, one intended to strike fear into even the stoutest heart. Or, rather, it would, if there was anyone to actually stand against it…

“Be not discouraged, my dear Ramona, Lord Darketh bade his most trusted servant. “Your subjugation of this world has been most exemplary!”

“Well, of course it has,” Ramona agreed with a smug nod. “I only wish it was more of a challenge…”

“My dear Ramona, do you know why we’ve saved this particular village for last?”

“No idea…”

“It is because it holds a great secret, one my new scientific advisor tells me has the power to make our forces utterly unstoppable! Its attainment shall serve as the perfect capstone to our conquest! Rejoice, Ramona, that the honor of its claiming has been given to you!”

“Yaay…” Ramona deadpanned.

“Lord Darketh, Lady Ralorin,” a lesser dark magical girl greeted as she knelt before them. “The legion is fully formed up. We merely await your command.”

“Excellent!” Darketh declared. “The command is given! Bless this pitiful village with the dark touch of Darketh von Darkenstine, Dark Lord of All Darkness!”

However, before the dark lord’s command could be carried out, a shadow imp scout swooped down and prostrated itself at Darketh’s armored feet. “My lord, someone approaches from the village! They seek an audience with your dark majesty!”

“Such boldness!” the dark lord exclaimed, clearly impressed. “Very well! Their request is accepted! Come, Ramona! Let us see what form of foolish being wishes to converse with Darketh von Darkenstine, Dark Lord of All Darkness!”

Making their way to the edge of the hill, they looked down to see a rather scrawny young woman with long, messy dark hair and wearing goggles and an oversized lab coat.

“Your wish for an audience has been granted, feeble peasant!” Darketh’s booming voice announced. “Rejoice that the mighty Lord Darketh has deigned to bestow upon you this great honor!”

“Yeah, I think I’ll pass on that,” the young woman replied. Giving voice to a tired sigh, she continued, “Okay, so, here’s the thing- I’m in the middle of some really important work here, so would you mind taking all your emo forces and fucking off back to whatever edge lord paradise you came from?”

“Such insolence!” Darketh bellowed. “Such effrontery! Who are you that you would dare to address the Dark Lord of All Darkness in such an impudent manner?!”

Seeing the dark lord’s outrage, the young woman’s mouth spread into an extremely twisted grin. “I’m Doctor Nykannis, Queen of the Mad Scientists!” she announced. “And although you losers are probably way too stupid to realize it, this little mud ball of a planet is actually the core of a galaxy-spanning overmind, created by a race of omni-dimensional beings who used it to rule this entire multiversal spectrum! All of their vast knowledge is stored in this thing, but since it’s gone completely senile after being around for ten trillion years, its noospheric thoughtscape isn’t the easiest thing to navigate. And that’s before you even get to the security systems,” she explained, rolling her eyes in exasperation. “Spending a few millennia stuck in a recursive time loop, or drifting on a Dirac Sea isn’t my idea of fun, so I knew I needed to find some sort of intermediary to serve as a guide. Thankfully, while I was excavating the control node under this village, I was able to find the thing’s Caretaker, who, I gotta say, is a LOT easier to converse with. In fact, our little chats had just reached a critical juncture, when you idiots showed up and started making a racket! So, if you wouldn’t mind playing ‘pretentious interdimensional tyrant’ somewhere else, I’d really appreciate it. Otherwise, I’m afraid you’re just gonna end up embarrassing yourselves. Well, more than you have already,” she added after moment.

“Impudent peasant!” Darketh roared. “I do indeed know of the great power that resides here! My scientific advisor has already revealed all of this world’s secrets, and it is HE upon whom I shall bestow the honor of extinguishing your pathetic existence!”

A burst of lightning and a mighty thunderclap heralded the creation of a tear in the dimensional fabric, through which floated several techno-cylinders. The barrels of several ultratech weapons protruded from their sides, while atop the largest of them stood a silver-haired scientist in a white lab coat. An array of strange, cybernetic implants protruded from his enlarged cranium, while one of his arms was an oversized amalgamation of features from a variety of monstrous beasts. “Mawhawhawhaw!” He cackled manically. “It is I, Doctor Zinestine, the greatest super-scientific genius to ever exist! I knew I would find you here, Kannis!” he gloated, looking down upon his arch rival with gleeful hatred. “Which is the very reason I told Lord Darketh about this place! Muwahhaha! Soon all you have discovered here will be mine, and you will be very dead!”

“Nyahahahaha!” Nykannis cackled in response. Zinestine?! Zinestine’s your scientific advisor?! That idiot couldn’t even build a teleporter without looking at an instruction manual! You honestly think I’m gonna be intimidated by someone like him?! Nyahahahaha! You’re even dumber than I thought!”

“A pox upon you Kannis!” Zinestine spat. “Mark my words, I will not suffer your ridicule a moment longer! Behold!” he exulted, raising his hands above his head, while lighting crackled from his splayed fingers. “My greatest creation! Nothing less than the very pinnacle of my technomantic prowess and the instrument of your doom!”

With that, a new tear opened in the dimensional fabric, from which fell a young woman with patchwork skin and neon pink hair. “Hey! Hey! Whazzup, guys?!” the girl shouted exuberantly, while grinning from ear to ear. “Oh my gosh!” she exclaimed, her eyes going wide. “Ramona!” rushing over, she attempted to glomp the dark magical girl, but several dark tendrils shot up from the ground to restrain her, while a translucent barrier of dark magic interposed itself between the two young women.

“Hello, Stacy,” Ramona greeted the monster girl dryly.

While she wasn’t resisting the tendrils’ grasp, Stacy’s head was moving so fast she seemed to be looking in every direction at once. “Holy crap! There’s, like, a whole army here! Are you guys gonna have a battle?!” she asked excitedly, her eyes glittering with anticipation. “Am I gonna fight in it with you?! Oh wow! That’s gonna be, like, so much fun!”

“I highly doubt it,” Ramona replied. “The people here are all pacifists who surrendered right away. The only one making any kind of fuss is that scrawny nerd over there, and I could snap her like a twig without even using my magic.”

“Huh, she really is kinda scrawny,” Stacy observed. “And her hair is, like, a total disaster! Hey, Ramona,” she whispered, “Do ya think she might surrender if I offered to give her a makeover?”

The dark magical girl gave Stacy a blank stare. “Highly. Doubt it.”

For her part, Nykannis simply stared at the new arrival for several seconds, her eyes wide. “Pfft…” she snickered, before hugging herself, tossing her head back, and unleashing a peal of hysterical laughter. “Bawhawhawhaw! That’s your greatest creation?! That ditzy airhead?!” Another deranged cackle erupted from the Monarch of Mad Science before she continued. “The only way your little walking joke over there could kill me is if I laughed myself to death!”

“ENOUGH!!!” Lord Darketh bellowed. “The time has come for you to perish!”

“You really wanna do this?” Nykannis asked after catching her breath. “I mean, you can still walk away with at least some of your dignity intact.”

“My penumbral host is mighty in power, imposing in aspect, and unrelenting in ferocity! With what army do you intend to oppose it?!”

“Oh, I don’t know…” Nykannis replied with a demented smirk. “How about THIS ONE?!!! NYAHAHAHA!!!”

In a blinding burst of energy, a vast legion of ultra magitech constructs appeared behind the Monarch of Mad Science, who had herself shifted into her massive combat form. Glowing crystalline techno-pyramids floated above rank upon rank of kilometer tall biomechanical titans, while smaller mechs strode beside gargantuan, artificially intelligent supertanks and thick clouds of counter-gravity weapons drones.

“Holy freaking crap!” Stacy exclaimed, her eyes going wide. “That looks SO freaking cool!” Taking out her phone, she snapped a few pictures and then started typing.

“Uh, what are you doing?” Ramona inquired, her voice a dull monotone. This was due less to her usual apathy, and far more to her uncharacteristic shock at the sight of what had just occurred.

“I’m posting the pics I took on Glimmer!” Stacy replied, as energetic and upbeat as ever.

“You’re seriously posting about how cool you think the things you’re about to fight look? Things created by your Parton’s arch rival and someone who just called you a ditzy airhead?”

“Yeah!” Stacy confirmed with an oblivious smile. “I mean, you can see how totally awesome they are, can’t you?!” she asked, gesturing towards the newly arrived army in an exaggerated fashion. “And besides,” she added with a giggle. “I totally am a ditzy airhead!”

“Why do I choose to socialize with you?” Ramona muttered, while massaging the bridge of her nose.

Meanwhile, Lord Darketh was having an equally unpleasant time. “W-Where did this host come from?!” the dark lord cried. “Surely a pitiful worm such as you could not possibly have conjured it from thin air!”

"T-This c-cannot be possible!" Zinestine stammered. "My sensors should have detected..."

“Baldy, your sensors couldn't detect a bird if it was about to shit on your head,” Nykannis sneered. “And creating them from scratch wouldn’t have actually been all that difficult,” the mad scientist added with a smug grin. “But, no, these guys have always been here. If you take a look around, you’ll see that I’ve shifted us into an adjacent, trans-planar layer of the multiversal spectrum. This little out-of phase pocket dimension was just sitting around collecting dust, so I figured it was the perfect place to stash my army. And since there’s no risk of damaging anything valuable, it’s also the perfect place to TEACH YOU LOSERS WHY IT’S A BAD IDEA TO PISS OFF DOCTOR NYKANNIS, QUEEN OF THE MAD SCIENTISTS!!! NYAHAHAHA!!!”

With that, the battle began. Over the next hour, destructive forces were unleashed that utterly mocked all attempts at comprehension. Volleys of missiles choked the skies, while multicolored beams of starkly astounding energies were vomited forth from bizarre weapons that defied description. Warriors were erased from existence before they could even be born, whole regiments were swallowed up by quantum singularities, and no less than seventeen Earths at the first moments of World War III were saved from thermonuclear annihilation when every last ICBM was portaled away to bombard Lord Darketh’s personal Obsidian Colossus (and that was just to break through its penumbra barrier, before a condensed, highly focused blast from a supernova finished it off). Insidious hexes laid even the mightiest mobile fortresses low, while a series of death curses felled no less than four biomechanical titans, with six more being impaled by a crackling Killing Blow. Both sides fought with all the staggering power available to them, power enough to destroy a universe several times over, but in the end, it was the Monarch of Mad Science who would claim ultimate victory…






“And that’s how I defeated the combined forces of Darketh von Darkenstien and Dr. Zinestine! They might have seemed imposing to lower lifeforms, but they never stood a chance against my incomparable super-scientific genius! Nyahahaha! So, what do ya think about that, Dan?! Pretty awesome, huh?!” When the dolphin didn’t respond, Nykannis looked around to find that their host had vanished. “Dan…?”

“Uh, he left like ten minutes ago,” Kate explained with an awkward grin.

Since Dan was an old friend of Kate’s, he had invited her to spend Christmas at his new winter-themed island, and she’d brought along a reluctant Nykannis as her plus one. The two friends had arrived long before any of the other guests, and were currently sitting on a private outdoor balcony on the lodge’s second floor. It granted an excellent view of the wintery landscape, but was still perfectly warm, thanks to Dan’s magic. Of course, Nykannis wasn’t really a fan of the winter scenery, and so, as she sipped her cup of hot cocoa, she’d chosen to regale their aquatic host with tales of her greatest exploits. Indeed, she had been so invested in singing her own praises that she had apparently failed to notice the dolphin’s departure. 

“What?!” the mad scientist roared. “What the hell for?!

“I think he said something about needing to greet the other guests,” Kate shrugged.

“Other guests?” Nykannis asked with a raised eyebrow. “What other guests?”

“Y’know, the ones at the big party downstairs,” Kate replied pointing her thumb towards the inner balcony. “He’s holding it for the entire magical community of Penrose.”

“Penrose?!” Nykannis nearly spit out her drink as she jumped out of her incredibly comfy chair in search of the nearest exit. “You brought me to a place filled with a bunch of lunatics from that shithole?! What the hell, Kate?! You said this was gonna be a relaxing vacation! The last thing I need is to be dragged into the drama of those nut jobs!”

“Chill out, will ya?” Kate chuckled. “Dan specifically gave us this balcony so we wouldn’t be bothered, and no one even knows we’re here!”

“Well, Dan’s a pretty shitty host, so you’ll understand why I’m a little skeptical about that,” Nykannis grumbled. “I mean, first he makes me wear this stupid outfit, then he refuses to let me dissect one of his stupid snowbuns, and now he wanders off when I’m right in the middle of I’m telling him how awesome I am!”

“Yeah, he’s such a jerk,” Kate agreed, while giving her friend a wry grin.

“I know, right?!” the mad scientist continued, far too annoyed to notice her friend’s sarcasm. “Gaah… I’m completely bored out of my mind here! There’s nothing interesting to do! I mean, I can’t even create anything without it turning into some stupid Christmas ornament or decoration!” she added, holding out a dreidel for emphasis. “And yes, I know dreidels have nothing to do with Christmas! Blame the stupid dolphin!”

“Okay, okay,” Kate conceded, raising her hands in an attempt to placate her disgruntled friend. “Look, I think I know how we can make things more interesting,” she added, as a mischievous grin spread across her face. “How about watching me prank someone?”

“Prank someone?” the mad scientist echoed. “You mean someone down there?” she asked, gesturing back inside the lodge.

“Yeah,” Kate confirmed. “Shouldn’t be too hard to find at least one good target in a crowd that big.”

“A crowd full of edgelords, zealots, and people with more mental and emotional issues than you could fit in a Dyson Sphere,” Nykannis observed. “I really don’t wanna have to reconstruct you from your constituent molecules if you piss off the wrong psychopath.”

“Relax, would ya?” Kate laughed. “I’m not gonna prank some sadistic psycho, and besides, there’s no fighting here, remember? Trust me, I’ll be perfectly safe!”

“Fine…” the mad scientist relented. “But I assume you’ll need my help for this prank, correct?”

“You know it!” Kate grinned. “Okay, so here’s what I need you to create…”







Once Nykannis had completed her invention, Kate took it and made her way downstairs, followed by a small, cloaked drone, which would allow Nykannis to see the entire prank play out on a holographic display (it should be noted that this happened mere moments before the Mysterious Guest’s arrival on the indoor balcony). Arriving in the crowded central hall, it didn’t take Kate long to find what looked like a suitable victim, and once her trusty camera had confirmed her suspicions, she headed over to introduce herself.



“Hi there,” Kate said cheerfully as she stepped up to the refreshment table opposite one of the few magical boys present. “You’re Shane, right?”

Turning to the one that approached, Shane nodded. ”Yeah, that’s me.”

“I’m Kate Carson,” the girl replied. “Nice to meet ya!” she added with a big grin, while flashing a peace sign. “Enjoying the party so far?”

”Nice to meet you Kate. It’s been pretty good so far. Some odd surprises but patrons don’t always make a lot of sense. Probably going to see about joining one of the events or another.” He would chuckle a bit.

“Yeah, I noticed there’s all sorts of stuff going on around here,” Kate replied. “I gotta admit, it’s a little crazy that Patrons were invited to this thing too, but then, I guess that’s Dan for ya, huh?” she added with a chuckle.

“Uh, Shane…?” Gaia asked, while staring at her date with a slightly puzzled expression. “Who are you talking to?”

Glancing at his girlfriend for a moment he would point in the direction of Kate. ”You don’t see anyone?”

“Umm…” Gaia frowned, her eyes filled with concern. “No… As far as I can tell, there’s no one there…”

“Oh, yikes… I forgot to tell ya,” Kate said with a sheepish grin. “I’m your new imaginary friend. You’re the only one that can see and hear me.”

”...Hmm.” He would ponder for a bit. ”Apparently I have an imaginary friend. That… isn’t the most farfetched thing I could imagine.” While he spoke he would look around the room to see if he could spot anyone watching specifically. Since no one else saw Kate he didn’t imagine it would be an illusion. However, his brain has been assaulted by a horror in the past so he very well could be losing it.

“You’re probably wondering why you’re only just now seeing me for the first time, right?” Kate observed, giving Shane a lopsided smile. “Well, y’know that gift exchange thing?” Kate asked. “I always called ‘em ‘Secret Santas’, but I guess ‘White Elephant’ is, like, the nondenominational name, or somethin’?” she shrugged. “Anyways, someone wished for a person here at the party to get their very own imaginary friend, and you were the lucky winner, so here I am!” she told him, spreading her arms out. “Pretty cool, huh?”

Scratching his head for a moment he didn’t see any of the organizers around to confirm that the gifts had been handed out. Given they were wishes, and he knew decently how the djinn girl’s magic worked, it was entirely possible. ”Okay well…” How exactly does one respond to having an imaginary friend out of nowhere?

For her part, Gaia was just as confused as Shane. She was pretty sure some sort of magic was behind this imaginary friend’s appearance, but who’s? Perhaps this was the work of the whimsical MDP, or perhaps the recently departed horror was responsible… 

“So, Shane, does your imaginary friend have a name?” Gaia asked.

”Kate Carson.” He would answer.

“Kate, huh?” Gaia mused while tapping an elegant finger against her chin. MDP had mentioned knowing someone named Kate… “I don’t claim to be an expert on imaginary friends, but you wouldn’t happen to know anyone named Magical Dream Princess, would you, Kate?” she asked the “imaginary” girl.

Shane would notice Kate’s eyes go wide and her face visibly pale at the sound of MDP’s name. “Uh, n-no,” Kate replied shakily. “C-Can’t say that I do…” Despite her denials, it was clear to see that the “imaginary” girl was more than a little freaked out at that particular name being brought up. “Uh, w-why do you ask?”

The answer was suspicious for sure. But not really having any way to detect who or what Kate was the boy was at a loss. Luckily for him the antics had drawn the attention of another guest.



”See, not everyone here is against you. If you ever need help feel free to contact me. If you’ll excuse me I need to see some of the other guests.” She would hand Justine her number and leave the girl to talk with Alex. She was going to head outside but got briefly sidetracked by the odd magic happening by the refreshments. Someone or something was trying to hide, and doing a fairly decent job at it. Adjusting her path she walked in the direction of the tables. 

”Pardon me.” She would say as she seemed to be reaching for an item on the table. Instead though she shifted her hand over and took hold of the small device that Kate was using to cloak herself. Light magic bending things back as they should the trickster would become visible again as the candy cane looking device was removed. ”A curious invention.” She would look it over a bit.

Kate was stunned speechless when a white-haired girl walked over, and calmly took hold of Nykannis’s device, which had taken the form of a candy cane, protruding from the pocket of Kate’s jacket. “W-W-Whaa…?!” she stammered after a few moments of shocked paralyzation had passed. “Y-You can see me?!”

“It would appear we all can,” Gaia clarified with a small smirk.

“W-Who the heck are you?” a still visibly shocked Kate asked the new arrival. “A-And… c-can I please have that back…?” she added in a much smaller voice.

As tempting as it would be to keep such a device, theft was not necessarily something the Keeper wanted to be associated with. After a moment she would calmly hold the magitech item out to Kate. ”Kayli Devon. Is this perhaps one of your creations?” It could very well be something the girl picked up, but it was worth asking.

“Uh, not exactly,” Kate replied, as she tentatively reached out and took the device back. “A friend made it for me,” she added. A friend who was probably having a sizable conniption right now, Kate thought to herself. “And thanks,” she told Kayli with a small smile. “I really appreciate it. Oh, and, uh, sorry about that, Shane,”  she told the magical boy, while giving voice to a nervous chuckle. “It was only meant to be a harmless prank.”

Pretty much only left to watch as a stranger came out of nowhere and interacted with magic he had no way of really understanding, Shane just stood confused for a bit.  ”Uh, thanks for the help Kayli.” He would blink and glance at Gaia a couple times who seemed just as lost as he was. Kate would apologize though and the boy would smile. ”That’s okay. No harm done.”

“Allow me to get this straight,” Gaia spoke up, folding her arms below her chest. “You wanted to prank someone by pretending to be their imaginary friend, and in so doing, make them look like they had lost their mind?”

“Uh, yeah…?” Kate confirmed sheepishly, more than a little intimidated by the verdant beauty glaring down at her. 

She shouldn’t have worried, though. After a moment’s silence, Gaia’s lip began to twitch, before the nymph-like girl gave voice to a melodic peal of laughter. After giggling hysterically for several seconds, the botanical beauty finally began to regain her composure. Gracefully wiping a tear from her eye, she turned to her boyfriend. “I-I am so sorry, Shane,” a breathless Gaia told him between giggles. “It’s just so funny!” Getting a few more boisterous laughs out of her system, the verdant girl gave voice to a blissful sigh. “Thank you, Kate,” she said, placing a hand on the prankster’s shoulder and flashing her a brilliant smile. “I do not think I have laughed so hard in quite some time.” 

Shane threw his hands up a bit. ”Hey, I’ve heard of some crazy things. There was a Beacon girl that had a whole other persona in her head. It sounded plausible to me.” He would sigh a bit but concede. ”I’ll admit, it was a good prank.”

”I would very much like to meet your friend, Kate. Perhaps we could exchange some notes.” She would have to discern intention. That shouldn’t be hard to do if they got the chance to talk.

“Oh, uh, I’ll have to ask her,” Kate replied hesitantly. “She loves to talk about science and stuff, but she’s kinda reluctant to get sucked into all of Penrose’s craziness. Huh, this is her now,” she added, retrieving her buzzing phone from a jacket pocket. “Hey, Nykannis. Oh? You’re fine with her coming up? Okay then. So, how’d you like the show?” she asked with a grin. “Well, I couldn’t really help that. If you say so,” she chuckled. “See ya.” Ending the call, she turned back to Kayli. “She says you can come up and talk with her. I gotta say, I wasn’t expecting her to wanna chat with one of you Penrose folks in an environment she can’t fully control, but you really impressed her. So, uh, congratulations? Speaking of, how were you able to see me?” she asked Kayli. “The perception filter on that device should have been strong enough to fool even Third Eyes.”

”I didn’t see you so much as felt some abnormality. Just happen to have particular magical senses and curiosity.” She didn’t want to get into the weeds about such things. They could be there forever. It seemed she’d been granted an audience to see this Nykannis though. ”Excellent.” She would glance at Shane and then Gaia. ”I will leave you two to yourselves. Maybe we could chat later.” She would smile and turn back to Kate. ”Whenever you’re ready.”

“So I guess you’re one of those gifted types, huh?” Kate observed after listening to Kayli’s explanation. “That’s cool. And it’ll help ya get along better with Nykannis,” she added. “She loves learning about interesting types of magic.”

After Kayli had exchanged some parting words with Shane and Gaia, she got ready to leave with Kate.

“Okay, then, just follow me,” Kate instructed. “Oh yeah,” she added, calling back to the couple by the refreshment table. “If ya see MDP, could ya do me a big favor and not tell her I’m here?”

“Of course,” Gaia nodded serenely. “I am well acquainted with how overwhelming her personality can be, and I completely understand if you wish to avoid dealing with it.”

As the other two had decided to head off the boy would shake his head. He would look at Gaia with a slightly bewildered expression. ”I was this close to accepting I’d been given some weird wish or had lost my mind. You have no idea.”

“There are many strange things in this world,” Gaia would observe. “So it wouldn’t have been completely out of the question if you really did receive your very own imaginary friend. Still…” she added as she gave him a teasing grin. “You looked absolutely adorable when you were trying to figure out what was going on.”

He would grin. ”Good to know I look cute even when baffled.” He would give Gaia a kiss on the cheek.

Gaia would giggle after being kissed. “Why, Shane, there isn’t even any mistletoe! Or perhaps my hair qualifies?” she would ask with a grin as she ran her fingers through her verdant tresses.

"Oops. Guess I'll have to wait until we see some next time." He would shrug. 

“I guess so,” Gaia would reply, before conjuring a sprig of mistletoe and holding it over them. The next thing Shane knew, his girlfriend had pulled him close and given him a very passionate kiss.

Somehow it didn't occur to him that Gaia could or would do such a thing. He was surprised by the move and for a moment was a bit stiff until he leaned a bit more into the kiss. 

Gaia allowed the kiss to last for several seconds more, before she slowly pulled away. “Merry Christmas,” she said softly, while giving Shane a warm smile.

"Merry Christmas." He half expected some to call out for them to get a room. Time would tell. "So there's quite a lot to do here it seems. Where would you like to go?" 

“I believe our event coordinator mentioned sledding,” Gaia replied. “That sounds like it might be rather enjoyable. After all, you are certainly dressed for it,” she added with a wink.

He would smirk. "Sounds good. Let's see where that is." Looking around a bit they would find a sign just outside the door pointing them to the various events. "Ah, this way then." The directions would send them around to the other side of the cabin where a big hill was with various slopes. 

Allowing Shane to lead her, Gaia gracefully glided out of the lodge.

“Connie,” Gaia called to her friend just before stepping outside. “Shane and I are heading out for some sledding. Will you be okay by yourself?”

“Y-Yeah, I-I’ll be f-fine, Mia!” Connie replied with a shaky wave. “H-Have f-fun!”

Oh, I believe we certainly shall, little sister, Gaia thought to herself, a blush coloring her cheeks as she took Shane’s hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. I believe we certainly shall…


 

Following Kate, Kayli would be led upstairs to meet with Nykannis. Upon reaching the private balcony, they would find the mad scientist watching the ongoing snowball fight through a pair of goggles, while eating from a cup labeled Merry Mac-and-Cheese, with the image of a Santa hat wearing dolphin-shaped noodle on the side of it. A dozen more (mostly empty) cups now covered the balcony’s small table, along with some cookies and a refilled mug of hot cocoa. Apparently, Dan had returned at some point after Kate left and brought additional refreshments, which Nykannis had wasted no time in gobbling up.

“Sheesh, save some for me, would ya!” Kate grumbled.

“Penny and MDP,” Nykannis replied, not bothering to turn around, and completely ignoring her friend’s complaint. “Two of the most powerful, non-Patron magical beings in this entire reality plenum, and I can’t run any tests or scans on them, thanks to Dan’s magic… But I suppose you’re a suitable consolation prize,” she added, finally turning around to face her guest. “So, you’re Kayli Devon, huh? I hope you realize how lucky you are that I’m allowing you to have this little chat with me,” Nykannis told her, by way of greeting. “I wouldn’t risk the deal I made with the Grand Magistrates that run this place for just anyone, y’know? And, just to clarify, by ‘this place’ I mean this particular iteration of the multiverse, because, yes, there are other multiverses out there, one’s that even the great and powerful Grand Magistrates can’t influence. Bet ya didn’t know that, huh?” she added with a smug smirk.

Somewhat of an odd place to start a conversation, but this girl seemed rather eccentric if not somewhat unhinged. "It's not a subject I've put much thought into. One reality is enough to manage as is." She would pull up and take a seat. For now she would not comment on the want to study Penny or the other magical girl. "I'm to understand I've piqued your interest?" 

“Yeah, most lower lifeforms don’t,” the mad scientist would agree with a nod. “And you could say that,” she added, her eyes narrowing. “It’s not just anyone that can negate the effects of my inventions like that. I’m guessing you’ve got a Third Eye, coupled with a Gifted Light Spec, right? Being gifted’s a pretty sweet ability to have,” she continued. “You can do a lot of creative stuff with it, even break some of the rules of this reality, if you put enough effort into it. But something tells me you’ve got more goin’ on than just that. You’d pretty much have to, if you’re living in Penrose, of all places. So, what’s your deal? Are you working with one of the local factions, or are you a solo operation?” 

”Undecided.” She would state while putting a hand to one cheek. Her magic was working in the background and sifting through every word uttered by Nykannis. At the same time her charismatic aura was on the job as well. ”I am not as interested in vying for power for power’s sake. I feel that most patron’s deals come with too many strings. Solo best describes my position.” She would confirm.

“I see…” Nykannis murmured. “And what about your motivations?” she asked. “Your other magic specs? Your reason for wanting to come up here and meet me?” The mad scientist’s eyes grew wider with each question asked as a look of manic desperation took hold of her features. “Come on, Kayli! I’m bored out of my fucking mind here! The only reason I agreed to this was because I hoped you could tell me something interesting, but all you’re giving me are these pathetic one sentence responses! I saw how impressed you were by that little gadget I whipped up for Kate,” she continued. “So I’m pretty sure you’re a scientist of some sort, which means you’ve created something you think has value, or maybe you just need something created, and you want me to do it?! Well?! What is it?! What amazing things have you done, Kayli?! What amazing things do you want me to do?! GIVE ME SOMETHING TO WORK WITH, HERE!!!”

By this point, Nykannis had left her chair and fully invaded Kayli’s personal space, her bulging eyes twitching and her shaking hands grasping at the air.

Raising a hand, Kayli would lightly tap Nykannis’ forehead with a finger. A pulse of light would go off as the magical girl’s power washed though her target. It was warm and her mind quieted unlike anything the mad scientist had felt in a long time. ”I seek to grant others the gift of security. Ideally the goal would be peace, but peace is fleeting. I believe it may be advantageous for humanity to have a space at the magical table. Some would disagree with that, others the way how. I would like to know your opinions on the matter and how you would go about such a thing.” Coaxing the information out of the scientist rather directly.

“Huh, that feels kinda nice…” Nykannis observed absently, after Kayli had filled her with calming energy. “So, you’re one of those pacifistic ‘kumbaya’ types, huh? I can sorta relate,” she added with a smirk. “Lucky for you, it just so happens I know someone who feels the same way, at least where mundane human empowerment is concerned. As for me, personally, I couldn’t really care less. Science! is the only thing I care about. The only reason I’m even in this multiverse to begin with is because I needed a place to lay low for awhile, and although they’ve given me permission to stay here for a bit, the Grand Magistrates don’t want me doing anything that could significantly affect the local status quo. Ripples, not waves, and all that crap. So, technically I’m helping my current employer work towards that ‘give humans a seat’ thing you’re talking about, but I’ve gotta do it in the background, rather than make any overt changes. Which isn’t to say I couldn’t!” the mad scientist hastened to clarify. “Especially now that I’ve finally got The Artifact running at full power! I mean, if I had my way, if I could really crank things up to 1123, y’know, really plus ultra the shit outta it, I could have you Neanderthals at Level Four on the Kardashev Scale in less than a week! I’m talkin’ post-post-post-singularity here! Power for everyone rivaling the so-called gods themselves! Nyahahaha! Uh, you still followin’ along with all this?” she asked after a moment, her insane grin swiftly dissolving into a disappointed frown. “You look like you’re having some trouble wrapping your little mind around what I’m saying.”

"No one can be truly pacifist, not if they wish to protect anything in this world anyway. There are some terms you've used that I'm unfamiliar with, but I think I understand. A surplus of magic sounds like an interesting proposition. I'm not really sure of the results though. Your average beings don't always react so well to magical overloads. Wouldn't such a thing result in uncontrolled transformations?" She would ask. 

“Oh, I see where you might get that idea,” Nykannis replied, her smirk having returned after receiving confirmation that Kayli did indeed understand at least the basics of what she was talking about. “But no, the process I’m referring to would be completely controlled by yours truly, and everyone benefiting from this little ‘upgrade’ would each come with a built-in Off Switch, which would reverse the process for that particular individual if they started causing problems. Though this is all just hypothetical,” she sighed. “There’s no way the Grand Magistrates would let me use The Artifact at even a quarter of its full potential. And on THAT note, I think it’s time for you to start telling me a bit about your own accomplishments. I wanna hear more about what makes Kayli Devon so great, before I decide to reveal any more of my secrets. For instance,” she added with a raised finger, an intense gleam in her eye. “Rumor has it there are some interesting new flavors of Cosmic Omniversal Infusion Numinospheric Synthesizers floating around. You wouldn’t happen to know anything about them, would you?” 

Considering Nykannis was telling her about some pretty high level magic manipulation and had proven resourceful in her own right the girl nodded. How she could turn off the effects was curious. At least the girl didn't seem to be lying as far as she believed. "Interesting. I am familiar with the new variants. Rather interesting effects the Red and White ones have. The first rearranges the user's magic either in part or in whole. Even offers a few additional perks that couldn't previously be accessed. The White ones purify individuals of corruption and induct them into Beacon. It was an attempt by the organization to reach out to some of those that did not wish to be corrupted. It had a less than stellar reception." She would go over a brief history of the coins. Holding up her hands and folding them in front of her face they would glow with a purifying light. "My particular field involves purification though. Some or all. I've found I'm decently proficient with tweaking magical gadgets given the necessary resources. I could demonstrate if you have a particular corruptive trait you are not fond of." The light would die down after a moment. She would lay her hand back down and give a pleasant smile. 

“Hmmm,” Nykannis mused. “Yeah, that matches what I heard, although I was hoping you might be able to tell me who made them,” she frowned. “My employer could use someone with those kinds of skills, and abilities of that nature also have the potential of significantly expediting my own work. Still… That purification thing of yours could have some very interesting applications as well…” the mad scientist added, tapping her chin thoughtfully. “Not for me, mind you,” she clarified. “I was thinking more along the lines of removing negative traits from some of the operatives I’ll be making with The Artifact. Since it still follows the core rules of this reality plenum, if I go full monster girl with it, I’ve gotta pick out some potentially disadvantageous options, and that can be pretty annoying. It would be really nice to be able to just keep all the benefits and discard all the drawbacks, no doubt about it,” she nodded. “I mean, I could always try and replicate the exact set of abilities you have,” she continued, more “thinking out loud” than actually conversing at this point. “But since you still won’t TELL ME HOW YOUR MAGIC WORKS, it’ll probably take a bit of experimentation. Not that I don’t enjoy experimenting,” the mad scientist explained. “It’s just that I like to make progress at a little faster than a snail’s pace, y’know?” 

"How I do it is more of an inherent trait of mine than by experimentation. I do not currently have a way to replicate the results. Synthesizing such a thing would require time to sort out the necessary steps, fabricate the right instruments, and a lengthy time etching and infusing the correct sigils in order to give them the correct magical properties. Not impossible I would think, but not entirely practical. Certainly I am the easier of the two options." She would explain. Kayli didn't really want to put this girl on Binky's scent in regards to the Red coins and identifying Janet would inevitably lead back to her one way or another. Not that what they'd discussed didn't already put her in the scientist's sights. To some degree though she wasn't all that different from say Janet when it came to pushing the boundaries. 

“Yeah, that’s what I mean,” Nykannis nodded, her grin widening. That’s why I want to learn more about you. Is this trait you speak of some sort of Oddball Purification Spec, a Power, a Perk, or some synergistic interaction between them? See, here’s the thing,” she added, leaning in close and lowering her voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “When I first got here, it didn’t take long for me to realize that the powers and abilities that can manifest in this particular reality plenum can be pretty nuts. That’s a scientific term, by the way. The rules that govern how things work here are also extremely interesting to me, so much so in fact, that I simply had to find their ‘source code’, so to speak. Y’see, even with systems this complex and transcendent, there’s always some kind of interface, a way to interact with the mechanisms that run it. All you gotta do,” she grinned maniacally, “is find it. ‘It’, in this case, being The Artifact. That’s capital T, capital A. It’s the physical protrusion of the omni-dimensional mechanism behind the Create Your Own Avatar system that ALL the various Patrons use to make magical servants! Found it down in Antartica, which, by the way, is where all the really cool stuff is on pretty much every worldline. Take it from someone who’s been to over ten thousand of ‘em. ANYWAY, by using this thing, I can create pretty much any kind of magical being I want, at least within the framework of rules I already mentioned. But still, that’s a LOT of potential options! In fact, it’s practically LIMITLESS, especially if you consider all the potential Oddball and Gifted combinations! And with your particularly helpful combination added to the mix, my creations will be optimized to their fullest possible extent! Nyahahaha!”

Kayli would tilt her head a bit. After a moment she would lean forward with some interest. "Have you created any magical girls with this thing yet?" She said while tapping her chin a bit. Clearly considering what Nykannis was telling her. 

“Yeah, twenty-five of ‘em, but they’ve only been low-powered knockoffs at best,” she explained with a frown, before her maniacal grin returned. “At least, until I made The Prototype,” she added with a demented giggle.

"Hm." She thought about Hilde for a bit. "Sounds intriguing. Perhaps we could work on a project some time." She would muse. 

“I could see that being very enjoyable,” Nykannis agreed.

"Anything in particular you need help on?" She would see if it was something more in her wheelhouse. 

“Aside from what I just mentioned?” Nykannis asked. “Not much, although it would be really cool if you QUIT BEING SO EVASIVE AND TOLD ME EVERYTHING YOU CAN DO WITH YOUR MAGIC, but, yeah, other than that, I can’t think of anything else at the moment.”

“Well,” Kate cut in from where she was watching the snow fort battle through her camera, “If you two nerds are done swapping notes, this snowball fight is really startin’ to heat up!”

"Ah yes. It is a combination of magics. It would seem I was crafted in a way to serve such a purpose. Light and Reinforcement primarily, but psychically I can remove the mental afflictions. Friendship and some fate that awaits me guide my steps. To a degree I am the antithesis of dark and monster girls as I need not worry about the effects of corruption of a magical overload. It is a trait I intend to do more study on as I believe there are many that could benefit. But for now I may only offer my gift of purity personally. Obtaining resources to do otherwise without stipulation is hard to come by. I also cannot count that it might not be abused. You seem more as one to seek progress for progress' sake. A potentially treacherous path it would seem if you are here to avoid some consequence elsewhere. But I will reserve judgment on that until I have the chance to learn more of your work." She was somewhat wary of Nykannis, everything she'd picked up on so far told her that this girl was neither a friend nor foe in the traditional sense. It was entirely possible that she was getting into things that could cause great good or ill for all. While that was not really the kind of person she wanted to get tangled up with, if she didn't offer some kind of olive branch then there would be no chance to potentially get a closer look at the machinations at work here or this Artifact.

“I see, I see…” Nykannis nodded, completely ignoring Kate as Kayli finally revealed the combination of Specs, Powers, and Perks that granted her such fascinating abilities. “I believe those could be duplicated…” the mad scientist murmured as she seemed to run though the various calculations in her head. “Although if we go the surefire route, the power level will be slightly reduced, but that can be offset by a living battery… Yes… Yes… That would definitely do the trick!” she giggled, while rubbing her hands together with gleeful enthusiasm. Then Kayli mentioned wanting to see more of her work, which swiftly brought the mad scientist out of her maniacal reverie. “So, you wanna learn about my work, huh?” she asked, her eyes refocusing on the white-haired girl and narrowing considerably. “It’s some pretty top secret stuff,” the mad scientist explained. “As much as I might want to, I can’t go showing it off to just anyone. Hell, I’d probably get chewed out for telling you what I already have! Although…” she added with a grin. “If you were to join my R&D team, that would be a different story.” Nykannis was fairly certain a goodie two shoes like Kayli would never accept such an offer, but it would still be interesting to see how the girl chose to respond.  

Kayli was silent for a moment but eventually replied, not completely dismissing the offer. ”To what end?”

“To assist with my work, of course!” Nykannis told her. “And to help improve humanity’s position in the magical community. Like I said earlier,” she continued, “my current employer is really into that stuff.”

"Well I will consider the offer. I'd like to get settled with things a bit before making any major decisions like that. I do sometimes get the feeling that my skills could be better utilized with less restriction." She would muse. It would likely resonate with a fellow colleague of the field. 

“Well, you can be sure there aren’t any restrictions in my lab,” Nykannis grinned. “It’s UNLIMITED SCIENCE! Nyahaha! Although I can see why you might be hesitant,” she added. “You may have a thing for science, but you strike me as way more of a ‘help anyone in need’, ‘champion of the hopeless’ type, and you’ll definitely find more people who need saving in Penrose than in Silverburg, that’s for sure. Still, if you’re ever in town, stop by Demiris Defense Systems’ corporate headquarters and tell ‘em Doctor Kannis asked to see you. I’d be more than happy to chat again, especially if you’re willing to spill more of your secrets.”

Making a mental note Kayli will nod. ”Will do. And perhaps in the future there will be more to share. Penrose seems to have become something of a testing ground for oddities.” Since the major part of their talk was finished she would stand up. 

“You can say that again,” Nykannis smirked as she glanced over to where the snow battle was playing out. “Well, I guess I’ll get back to watching the snowball fight and continue to lament the fact that I can’t dissect, I mean, study anyone here. It was actually kinda nice meeting you,” she added. “Even though you can be annoyingly evasive at times.”

"Most people like to know a little about a person before sharing. It's not that surprising. Enjoy your stay." She would make her way out and back down to the first floor so she could head outside.

“Sounds like that went fairly well,” Kate observed as Nykannis joined her at the edge of the balcony.

“Mmm,” the mad scientist agreed. “I’m 99.9888 percent sure she either knows, or is the one making those new types of COINS, but that information really isn’t all that important. I mean, it’s easy enough to give someone an Oddball: Coin Crafting Spec,” she added. “No, what REALLY interested me was that ability of hers to selectively remove detrimental traits, while leaving the beneficial ones intact. I hope I don’t need to tell you how helpful that would be with Phase Two. The only question is, how do I go about implementing it? I guess I could always just give someone Oddball: Gifted Purification and hope for the best, but I think I’m gonna try out the exact combination of Specs, Perks, and Powers our new friend Kayli has first.” She closed her eyes as a demented grin spread across her face. “There’s just so many glorious possibilities, and I simply can’t wait to get started…”




Connie was overjoyed when Oros told her that getting her present to Faith wouldn’t be difficult. “T-That’s great! T-Thanks Oros!” she told the pink-haired girl. “I j-just knew you’d be able to d-do it!” Her cheerfulness subsided slightly a moment later, when Oros asked about her own present. “O-Oh! U-Umm,” she mumbled as she nervously searched through her sack. “I-It’s r-right here!” the flustered girl added as she retrieved a rectangular package and handed it to Oros. “M-Merry Christmas!”

If the pink-haired girl chose to open it, she would find a sketchbook, along with a set of high quality colored pencils and a small landscape painting by Connie herself.

“I-I h-hope you l-like it…” the timid girl added softly.

A moment later, Connie yelped in alarm as the sound of a mighty thunderclap reverberated through the lodge. “W-W-What was t-that?!” she stammered, tightly clinging to Oros as she frantically looked around for anything dangerous. When nothing threatening seemed to be in evidence, Connie slowly began to calm down. “S-Sorry a-about t-that…” she apologized to Oros as she released the pink-haired girl. “I-It j-just r-really s-startled me…” she added, her face turning bright red.
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