&A Night Off“Hmm, this should go here,”
Alicia remarked to herself with a frown, picking up a book from where it lay on her desk to place it in a different spot on the shelf above said desk than where it had started. Taking a step back, she surveyed her room with an approving look as her hands rested on her hips. Her room was clean (relatively speaking) and all ready for tonight. After all, she wanted to put on a good impression for her guest, even if they might not care. She took it as a point of pride, and her parents had suggested that she do so anyway.
With that as motivation, she had spent about an hour or so getting things in order, and making sure that she had some activities prepared for them to do. She wasn’t sure how long they would spend on anything, so it helped to have some ideas in her back pocket for if she needed them.
Glancing at the clock, Alicia took a deep breath as she noted how close it was to five clock. With her room in order she turned and headed downstairs to wait for the arrival of her guest. It shouldn’t be very long at all.
Just a little ways down the street the awaited guest was checking her backpack for the sixth time. Most of what was in it was to be expected, a set of pajamas, an extra set of clothes, and hygiene supplies. The half pound of assorted hard candies, deck of cards and filled water bottles were slightly less expected, but still not outside of the realms of explainable. So long as it wasn’t discovered that the water bottles were filled with Vodka, but dammit if the encounter at the graveyard didn’t call for a drink or two.
Taking one last deep breath Penny zipped up her bag and focused on drawing her magic in as deeply as she could. A few moments later there was a soft flash of light and Penny was in her human guise. Nodding to herself she quickly made her way to Alicia’s front door and knocked on it a few times in a 1-3-2 rhythm.
Around the end of the sequence, Penny would be able to make out some shuffling from inside. Moments later there was the audible click of a lock being disengaged, before the door swung open to an older woman
who took but an instance to assess Penny before breaking into a smile. “Hello there. You must be Alicia’s friend.I’m her mother. Alicia has told me so much about you.”
The pleasant and welcoming atmosphere that she radiated did not fade as she swung the door open and gestured for the magical girl to step inside. “Alicia, your friend is here,” she called over her shoulder, where the girl in question could already been seen descending them from the upstairs bedrooms. She would close the door behind them, but remain nearby for the present just in case. Call it a motherly curiosity to see if word lived up to fact when it came to their guest.
Not disturbed by or even really noticing that, Alicia approached Penny confidently, if a bit awkwardly due to not being in her magical girl outfit. “Hey,”
she said with a grin of her own. “How are you doing? Have any trouble finding us on your way here?”“Nice to meet you Ms.Hayden”
Penny would greet the mother with a smile as she entered the house taking a quick look around as she did. Silently affirming that the decision to have this over at Alicia’s place was definitely the right choice, as it was much more comfortable then the other options they had open to them.
Before she got much further then that, Alicia made her appearance, causing Penny’s smile to morph into a matching grin “I’m doing good, and nah no issues.”
would come the response as she moved closer to her friend to give a quick hug “My Dad was the one to gave me a ride.”
she would add as if that explained it, more for the floating parent then anything else.“Oh, where should I put my bag?”
She would ask slipping the item in question from her shoulders to hold up as she did. It would be best to make sure it was safely stashed away in case one of the parents decided to be nosy considering the drink she had hidden. Not that she expected such, but better safe than sorry. Especially as Alicia was the one who would have to face the consequences if it was found.
Alicia returned the hug warmly, aware of the deception but making no issue of it. “We can put that in my room,”
she replied when asked about the bag. It was as good a place as any. Stepping back, she motioned to the stairs in order for Penny to follow, before heading that way herself.
Her mom turned to watch her go as the two of them departed, remaining where she was. “Your father should be home soon,” she called after them. “I’ll let you know when dinner is ready, but don’t be surprised if he checks in on you.” “Got it,”
Alicia called back with a glance over her shoulder. It was a bit more attention than she got in her old life, but she didn’t mind. They were only looking out for her well being. Besides, it wasn’t like Penny would do robot mode while she was here, so there was no risk of revealing something with magic.
After a short walk they arrived in her room. The walls were green and studded with a couple posters of popular soft rock music groups. There was a desk off to the side, some small bookshelves, a window out to the yard, a stand and a tv with a game system connected to it, and a bed up against the wall with open space on the floor nearby. “So this is my room,”
she explained with a sweeping gesture. “Put the bag down anywhere you want.”
She would wait until Penny did so before speaking up again. “I have board games, video games, we could just chat, or I could give you the tour.”
Falling silent, she waited to see what her guest was most in the mood for.
Penny gave an appreciative whistle as she took in the room, as compared to her own it was a grand thing. She plopped her bag up against the wall near the bed, taking the chance to check out the backyard as she did so “This is a nice place”
She would comment before mulling over the options tossed out. “What games do you have? It’s been a while since I’ve kept up with the new releases”
She would ask meekly scratching her cheek a little as she did. She hadn't realized just how out of touch she had gotten to the normal world.
Humming in thought, Alicia walked over to the tv stand and opened up a door on the bottom, revealing the games inside. “Well, we could play Battlefront 2, a racing game, Minecraft, destroy our friendship in Mario Kart….we could do Rock Band, though I’d need to get the instruments from downstairs.”
She listed off a few options, waiting to see if there was one Penny was interested in.
Perhaps due to her rather action filled life that she now lead Penny was finding the idea of playing Minecraft or Rock Band much more appealing then any of the other options on the table. Mario kart wasn’t a bad idea either, yet the usual association of ruining friendships had Penny shying away from it. “Rock band’s not a bad idea, chilling out in minecraft and just talking doesn’t sound too bad either.”
She would toss out as she sat down across from the TV. “Brought a deck of cards as well if your interested”
she would admit before tossing a glance towards the door to check that they were for the most part alone “and something to drink if you want some, considering what happened recently figured we deserved one.”
She would finish softly so her voice wouldn’t carry too far.“Minecraft it is then,”
Alicia decided with a nod, going for the option that was easier to set up in the short term. Turning back to the tv, she quickly set them up with a splitscreen game, and took a seat on the bed as she passed a controller over to Penny.
Soon enough the game was booted up and they were in an unblemished world, running around and building themselves a nice base to expand from. “I figured it’d be a nice change of pace, since you usually break things rather than build them,”
she noted aloud as her character mined out part of a cliff wall.“Agreed”
Penny say nodding as she went about gathering wood to start expanding upon their starting area. “At the same time this”
she would gesture at the room “is also a nice change of pace. It’s been a while since I had a normal night off”
Leaning over she would zip open her bag and pull out the bag of candy and nab a few pieces before dropping it on the bed “Help yourself”
she would say before crunching on the first piece she had grabbed.
Alicia nodded, leaning back to grab a piece of candy when it was offered. “Sure, but not too much,”
she warned as she joined Penny in enjoying the treat. “I don’t want to ruin my appetite before dinner.”
Delicately maneuvering along the cliff face, she did not take her eyes from the screen even as she continued on that topic. “Speaking of which, any preferences for dinner? I know dad is going to want to grill something, but if you’d rather we have pizza or something normal we can work that out too.”“Brought them less for eating myself”
Penny would remark as she crunched pointedly on another one “More as a replacement for my bucket of nails”
She was using her collected stores of wood to make a couple story log cabin. Making sure there was space for storage and crafting as well as beds and decoration.“If your dad wants to grill, I say let him have it”
Would be her answer before shaking her head slightly “And I’ve got to ask; Is it as weird as I imagine it being? living with parents and acting as a kid again?”
At the moment Alicia was getting a lot of cobblestone but not much else. She’d at least angled downwards, to increase their chance of finding something besides coal, even if they needed that too. A nod escaped as Penny explained the candy thing, since otherwise Alicia probably would have assumed that she did have something of a sweet tooth. At least she knew better now.
Food decided upon, she addressed the next question. “A bit, though it helps that I was pretty much out of college when I became a magical girl, so it wasn’t too much of a backwards step for me. Still, it has its perks.”
Especially when it came to food. And they’d always be there for her, which was nice when she had to deal with all this magical girl related nonsense. “Why, worried you’re out of touch with the younger, hip generations?”
she asked with a grin. “Oh please, I doubt I’m that much older then you”
Penny would chuckle with a roll of her eyes “It’s just the whole dual lives things always seemed like it would get weird to deal with, heck normal tends to be weird for me at this point.”
She was currently arranging the stuff in the house she had built rather fastidiously. Placing things down, before breaking them and placing them again slightly to the side till they met some unspoken criteria.“Another question, Is your birthday still the same? Or did it shift when you joined the community?”
Penny would ask after a lull. The house was finished in a basic way, but had plenty of room if they wanted to improve upon it later. Penny had shifted goals towards gathering Iron, in an effort to go hunting after Redstone.
Joining Penny in her mining efforts, Alicia was quick to answer that question. “Same day,”
she replied. “The memory alterations they set up your family help with that.”
She could hear the garage opening downstairs, meaning they would have company soon. But for the moment she wouldn’t worry about it too much.
That aside, it was time to ask her own question. “So what does a nail taste like anyway?”
she asked, her curiosity piqued by the candy.“Depends on the nail”
Penny answered with a shrug “The age and what it’s made of can change the flavors but the most common remind me of beef jerky, with extra crunch. Found one that I swear tasted like dark chocolate though.”
she shook her head at the memory, she had spent weeks trying to find another nail like that but hadn’t faced any luck.“Pretty sure my sense of taste changes though”
she would add as an afterthought as she kept an ear out for the sounds of someone coming up the stairs “Different things seem more or less appealing depending on which I am.”“Huh, okay.”
That was not the sort of answer that Alicia had expected to get, but it seemed like her curiosity had been worth it to find out. On the other hand there really wasn’t anywhere she knew to go with that conversation, so she kept that topic as a solo point of conversation for now.
A good thing too, as Penny would rapidly hear footsteps approaching after a few minutes. They would pass the room by at first, only to return several minutes later. “Hey guys,” Alicia’s dad remarked as he poked his head into the bedroom with a war smile. “How’s it going?”“Good,”
Alicia replied with a look to match as she glanced away from the game to make eye contact with her dad. “This is Penny, she said she’s willing to try your cooking even if it ends up tasting like charcoal again.”
That earned a huff from the man, though he took it pretty well. “Hey now, that only happened once,” he challenged. That said, his attention quickly refocused as he offered a hand to Penny. “Anyway, nice to meet one of Alicia’s friends. Make yourself at home.” “Nice to meet you Mr. Hayden”
Penny would reply as she stood to shake the offered hand not caring too much about the game, It was minecraft after all. “I’ll keep my mess to a minimum”
Shaking hands, Alicia’s dad kept a friendly look. “You’ve got a pretty firm grip there,” he noted aloud, making a show of rubbing his hand once it was free. “But don’t worry. I’m sure there won’t be any trouble.”
With a small wave, he stepped back towards the door. “Well, I’m going to get to that grilling. You girls have fun.” The door would be closed at that point, and they would be able to hear him head back downstairs as he got to the work of grilling dinner for the four of them. “So, what do you think?”
Alicia asked, once they had some privacy to themselves. “They seem like nice people”
Penny would reply slightly bemused at the thought of being somewhere around the same mental age as them, yet having to act like a teen. “Back to twenty questions?”
she would ask sitting back down in her spot in front of the bed.“Sure,”
Alicia agreed as they returned to their game and their idle conversation. “So if you were stranded on a deserted island and could only three items, what would they be?”
she asked. Besides a boat, of course. That was just cheating. Besides, if you had a boat then you weren’t really stranded now were you?"I'm going to just assume that community advantages are not included"
Penny would say aloud as she mulled over the question. "Otherwise Earthbastion is just cheating. So I'll go with… hmm a tent, a knife and a large piece of flint."
She would decide as she went back to mining.“I’ll go with a classic; What’s your favorite color?”
Simple and nearly as old as time, yet potentially useful in a lot of situations. Besides if she was going to relax like a teen, might as well take the chance to act like one.
Hm, very practical answers, Alicia mentally decided. Very like Penny. Though she wasn’t sure if she would even need a tent with her particular powers. Or a knife for that matter. Then again, sometimes precision was called for. “Orange,”
Alicia decided when asked the simple question. “It makes me think of Fa-creeper!”
An explosion rocked the screen, bringing the conversation to an end in the face of swift panic.
About a half hour later, dinner was served. A plate of simmering burger patties sat in the middle of the table, circled by various toppings, condiments, and buns. There was also a small bowl of fries, like the kind you’d buy at a store to prepare quickly. Alicia and Penny would be seated at a corner, Alicia’s parents at the opposite corner of the table. Food was free for the taking, and Alicia already had a burger with lettuce, tomato and mustard on it
“So Penny, tell us about yourself,” Alicia’s mother began, after sampling a bit of the burger to make sure that it tasted good. “Alicia has told us some things about you, but I’d like to hear it from you personally.”“Uhh...”
Penny stalled in the process of neatly (over)loading up her burger with a bit of everything as she turned to face her friends mother. “Well, I like to build computers, kinda like tinkering around with machines in general really.”
She would start, recovering from the unexpected question.“That being said, not the biggest fan of cars or at least driving them. I like to fixing them up or taking them apart.”
She would continue returning some of her attention at preparing her first burger “Prefer walking, or skating, to get places. Plus there is a lot of cool places tucked away off the roads that you would never find otherwise.”
The two parents listened calmly as Penny rattled off the things she was into. “Alicia did say that you were something of a gearhead,” her dad remarked, glancing over at the girl in question. His burger was more traditional to the American style, though whether that said something about his personality was something that one could muse on at length.
“Roger, be nice to her,” her mother commented, shooting him a warning look even if she refrained from elbowing him. “She’s our guest after all.”Alicia would roll her eyes though, not surprised by the lack of tact.
Roger raised his hands in protest. “I am being nice,” he assured her. Having expressed his intent, the conversation resumed its focus. “I mean, it provides a lot of useful skills, especially when it comes to creativity and problem solving. It’s like what I was telling Alicia recently.” “Is that why you ended up calling a handyman to fix the shower a couple weeks ago?”
Alicia asked, gesturing upwards to the second floor while wearing a slightly mischievous look.
Once again her dad was on the defense, but Roger took on a solemn demeanor, closing his eyes as if imparting divine wisdom. “Part of being successful in life is knowing your limits,” he assured those currently gathered. Giving them a moment to take that in, he took a chunk out of his burger, enjoying the savory taste and the brief moment to reorient himself. “So, how did you wind up getting into that? It’s not the sort of hobby kids your age would normally pick up.”
Penny watched the easy going humor pass back and forth between the family and couldn’t help the longing the rose up within her. She missed that level of comfort with others yet at the same time she was glad she didn’t have a false family to live under. Her actual mom and dad were still alive after all, even if she couldn’t see them again.“I’ve always been a fan of computers”
she would reply after enjoying the first bite of her own burger, she also resisted the urge to roll her eyes at the age comment “Not really sure where it first started, they just always did. Messing with machines started when I was seven, I think. I had found an old Commodore 64 in the basement. It was my dad’s, but I didn’t know that at the time, I just wanted to know why it looked so weird for a keyboard and started taking it apart. Later my mom had found me surrounded by all the bits and pieces of it with a paper and some crayons trying to map everything out.”“Dad found it hilarious, and helped me put it back together. It didn’t work, but that was also why it was tucked away in the basement. After that I started taking allsorts of things apart before putting them back together, or at least trying to.”
She would explain rubbing the back of her neck at the final addition “took apart the toaster once but couldn’t get to go back together correctly”
she would add with shrug sheepish smile.“What about you two?”
Penny would ask after another bite of her food “What kinda hobbies do you enjoy?”
Penny’s explanation was received with an unsuspecting sincerity, though for her part Alicia suspected that it wasn’t all entirely true. But her parents didn’t know about the magical girl thing, so why would they have a reason to doubt her close friend?
The topic swinging around, her mother was the first to answer. “Oh, nothing too major. Jigsaw puzzles, knitting, some zumba,” she offered with a somewhat dismissive wave. They were fairly sedate, especially when compared with computers, or Alicia’s after school activities as far as they knew.
“Model trains, when I’m not gardening,” Roger answered in turn. “My set up is in the basement. I’d be glad to show it to you after dinner if you want.” “Ah, I’m a fan of Zumba as well”
Penny would exclaim with a smile “Mom made sure that I had something physical to do to off-set my computer habits. Zumba and martial arts are the two I stuck with.”
She would add, lying through her teeth “And I’ve never seen a full model train set up sounds interesting enough. Do you have to put the trains together first?”
“Some of them, though usually it’s just the paint and the wheels, if that,” Roger answered, pleased to find that there was someone interested in his hobby. Both of the other members of the family were used to it by now, so genuine interest was a rare experience.
Her mother was intrigued by the other part of what Penny said. “Oh? What kind of martial arts?” she asked, before glancing over at the other magical girl. “Alicia did Karate for a year or two, but eventually she decided that it wasn’t the thing for her.”
Perking up, Alicia nodded, about halfway done with her first burger at this point. “The relaxation and directing energy stuff comes in handy though.”“Aikido is the one I enjoy the most but I hopped around for a while trying out different styles.”
Penny would explain after swallowing another large bite of her burger “I was hoping to find someone that could teach me Jeet Kune Do, but there wasn’t anyone in my last city that could.”
The parents nodded, though to be honest they didn’t really know what either of those things were. But it sounded interesting, and that was good enough for them.
“I see.” After a moment Alicia’s mother took the conversation on a different tack. “Still, it’s nice to meet you. It seemed like Alicia was always so busy with after school activities or helping out at the community center. Just spending time with friends is a nice change of pace.”
That caused the girl in question to roll her eyes. “Mooom,”
she protested. “It’s not that bad. I’m usually spending time with friends at those things anyway.” “She’s got a point though Alicia. Yeah, most of the time your there with friends, but as they say: All work and no play, makes Alicia a dull girl”
Penny would tease in a singsong voice.“Traitor,”
Alicia grumbled as she leaned over to give a light karate chop to Penny’s arm. That would teach her for siding with her parents.
And speaking of said parents, her mother was looking quite pleased with her friend’’s input. “See, Penny gets it.” She gestured towards Penny before her gaze fixed upon Alicia in turn. “I mean, at this rate I’m never going to have grandkids.” “....”
Alicia started to sink into her seat. God, kill her now.
Penny chose to show her age and maturity and just stuck out her tongue at Alicia before returning to her food.
Only to start choking on her next bite, due to the massively unexpected comment from Alica’s Mom. “She’s only a teen, isn’t that a bit early to be expecting grandkids!?”
She’d near demand incredulously once she got the offending food dealt with.
Smiling, Alicia glanced over at her friend and the support that came with it. Not that it would make much of a difference, but it was appreciated nonetheless.
“Calm down, it’s just a joke,” her mother assured Penny. “I mean I wouldn’t mind it in the future, but I’m not in a rush.” She was perfectly willing to let Alicia chart her own course. Romance was not something that one could hurry along. At least not in her mind.
Huffing, Alicia finished eating and reached across to get another burger for herself. Maybe that would help her recovering heart. “Right”
Penny would say somewhat shakily before blatantly shifting topics “What kind of Movies do you all like?”
Dinner had continued well enough after moving past the embarrassment that had happened. Penny had made sure to spend a bit of time to take a look at the model train set Rodger had set up in the basement but didn’t stick around for long. It was too tempting for her to break it all apart.“Well that was… A thing”
Penny would comment once they were back in Alicia’s room, not really sure how else to call it seeing as she had completely the wrong upbringing to even try. “They often like that?”
she wondered as she pinched the bridge of her nose. She could feel a migraine coming on, and with it all of the other little irritants she had been ignoring so far were going to become unbearable.
She sat down on Alicia’s bed suddenly looking very, very, haggard. She needed to drop her disguise for a bit before it fell apart.“Yeah,”
Alicia confirmed as she joined her friend in resting for a moment on the bed. “Sometimes it’s annoying, but the rest of the time it isn’t too bothersome. You gotta take the good with the bad when it comes to family.”
Glancing over at her friend, she couldn’t help but notice Penny’s state. It had been a long day for her, so it wasn’t too hard to surmise that she might need a bit to reset and work out the kinks of her monstrous nature. “Looks like this is as good a time as any for that special treat you brought,”
she observed. Then she paused, waiting to see if Penny would agree with her. It felt odd to be the one to go for the drinking first, but there didn’t seem to be a reason to not indulge, not with what they had both been through the past couple of days. “Hmm? Oh, yeah..”
Penny would say bringing herself back to the present “Kinda funny, actually, Rina was the one who gave me the idea.”
She would explain more for the sake of talking then anything. It gave her something to focus on other then her body starting to reject the disguise. “Though I doubt it was intentional. She mentioned wanting a drink after the Stadium incident, and I figured that I could probably order some from Laat. I was right but he only had stuff that was also flammable so it’s strong.”
She stood up from her pack holding the two large water bottles she had stashed at the bottom. She started turning towards Alicia before she stopped as she wobbled a bit.“Damn…”
She cursed as the migraine flared up “Mind if I borrow your roof for a bit?”
She would ask static lacing her voice softly “It’s the only place I can think of that I could hide out for a bit without being noticed.” Oh, I see. It didn’t seem like your normal thing anyway so I guess now I know where that came from,”
Alicia replied. When asked, she moved over to the window and slid it open, before popping out the screen to give them access to the exterior of the house. Having done so, she retrieved some of the candy and other snacks to bring with her.
With those items in hand, she rejoined Penny at the window. “Just be careful. It’s not exactly an easy exit,”
she informed her. That was why Alicia went first, making the jump over and up to the rooftop. That way she could grab Penny if there was any trouble from her current state.
Penny let her friend lead the way, not really surprised that Alicia had left through the window before, she was a Magical Girl after all. When she followed after it was notably slower, more of a wall crawl then a jump, as Penny was in no mood to fall. It wouldn’t hurt much but trying to explain things would be a pain.
When she reached the roof she gently sat down before slowly letting her disguise unravel. She took it slowly on purpose trying to minimize the sound and lights that came with revealing her true form.
When at last she was completely out of her disguise, Penny gave a sigh of relief. Already she could feel the tension in her frame being soothed away. “Whelp, we’ve got a bit before I can power down again.”
She would say as the top two of her extra limbs popping out to help hold things.
She unscrewed the cap on one of the bottles and took a swig before grimacing “Still tastes nasy”
She took another swig anyway “Mind if I ask a question?”
Joining Penny atop the roof, Alicia sat down next to her as she watched the monster girl transform back into her normal form. She had become used to the mesh of human and machine, and relaxed comfortably as she joined in unscrewing the cap off of the other bottle before taking a sip.
First there was a grimace and then a cough, the magical girl left taking deep breaths as she glanced at the label with her eyes watering. “God, it burns,”
she hissed. “I have to get used to drinking this stuff again.”
Alicia decided to recover before having another go at it, her head tilting over to look at Penny as she propped herself up with her arms. ”Sure, go for it.”
It wasn’t like they had much else to do at the moment besides chat.
Penny took a moment to just watch the city off in the distance before she spoke up “Why did you decide to join the community?”
She would take a glance at Alicia as she asked “And did it turn out as you were expecting it too?”
A sigh escaped in response to Penny’s question, one that was filled with memory as opposed to exasperation. Alicia’s gaze turned to the horizon and the city beyond as well, as she reflected on how it had happened. “Well, this Puchuu showed up, said one of my ancestors was this important magical girl and that I should follow in her footsteps and that they really needed help. At the time I was kind of a wanderer, looking for meaning, for purpose in my life. So I figured this could be it. And being able to protect people from the monsters under the bed, that made for a nice incentive too.”
Having described her reasons, she moved on to her impression of the whole thing. ”As for expectations, not entirely. I figured we’d just fight monsters and darkness, one big sisterhood. I didn’t expect all the dumb politics and mistrust and world ending apocalyptic threats to go with that stuff. It can get….frustrating, at times.”
She took another sip of the vodka, doing better at it this time even if it still tasted bad. But at least she didn’t have a coughing fit this time around. “Sounds like you”
Penny would agree with a rueful chuckle before taking another pull from her bottle. She could tell already she would need a lot more for the alcohol to actually have much of an effect on her. She was also of two minds on that fact. “I wish I could say I joined for the same reason, but I don’t really remember my first night in the community and from what I can figure about Laat I doubt I was actually given a choice.”
she just shrugged in a ‘what can ya do’ way.“Not from Penrose to start, came from East Drake City, but politics is everywhere sadly. Makes me wonder what could get done if everyone united for more then just stopping the apocalypses”
she took a couple of the hard candies she had brought, but rather then eat them she slowly started to grind away at one of them with her fingers, slowly turning into so much sugary dust.
Alicia could only frown as Penny explained her own entry. Somehow she wasn’t surprised by that, though perhaps it was merely because her friend was a monster girl. She couldn’t think of too many people who would voluntarily want to be stuck like that, having to do all of the things that she did on a daily basis.
Hearing about the politics caused her to take a longer drink, the burn from it reflecting the anger in her own heart. “No kidding, but it’ll probably never happen,”
she grumbled. God, she was going to need a lot more of this vodka to distract herself from this nonsense.
Nonetheless, she elaborated. ”It just gets so ridiculous. Like yeah, we do go overboard, I get that. But people fall for that ‘woe is me, I was an innocent girl unjustly attacked by Beacon’ schtick way too much. They’ll tolerate us during the apocalypse, but after that it’s right back to how things were. Like that girl from the hospital. Shannon, I think she said her name was? She just waltzes in to shut down the fight, even after we point out that there’s a legitimate reason for the fight this time. And people think that we’re pretentious.”
Her speech was interrupted by the necessity of another drink before she continued. I was the only way to deal with the rising anger. ”Just...if everyone’s so pissy with us, then why don’t they just point us towards the actually bad girls who go after humans? Why don’t they accept purification? I think I’ve had one Dark Magical Girl voluntarily accept purification, and she became a DMG this morning.”
Another sigh escaped as she slumped, head coming to rest on the roof as she laid there with her simmering anger. “Sorry. It just feels good to get that out.”“I know how it feels when you need to vent, and hey, you’ll hear no complaints from me”
Penny took another drink from her bottle focusing on the burn of it for the moment it lingered. “I mean, I know just how dangerous I can be and I’m only half monster most days. Going full monster just adds to my understanding of why Beacon is needed. That mindset is terrifying, to say nothing of what I could do if left unaccounted for.”
With a flex of her hand the candies in it were reduced to powder instantly. Brushing off the mess on her leg she reached over and grabbed another handful of the replacement nails slowly grinding them down as well. “At the same time I can see where they are coming from. Part of it, I feel, is that not a lot of the girls on the streets know that Beacon can purify them. Lots of rumours and hearsay for sure, but none of the ones I’d met could say they met someone who was purified.”
She would explain, pulling from her own experiences before joining up with Beacon. “Hell, Janet is still the only one I know of”
She took a moment to stop and drink before continuing on “It makes it hard to try and seek help. Especially when most DMGs and MonGs are attacked on sight. It ends up seeming like a life or death choice regardless if it’s true or not. As for why they don’t point you at the girl’s that are actually causing trouble? Who knows, maybe they think they can do a better job at redeeming them?”
she took another pull from her bottle “Not that they have a good chance at it, but what else can I say?”
Alicia grunted as Penny provided her reasoning, eyes adjusting to the point where she could make out the pinpricks of stars in the night sky. She knew there were legitimate reasons for this fear, but it still ate at her that in spite of all their efforts and everything they did, they couldn’t make any headway. “I guess,”
she conceded with a groan, a hand falling over her face as she swirled the vodka in its bottle. ”We need to hire a PR firm or something. Cause all it takes is a fake sob story and the regular magical girls snap it up like gullible idiots. Meanwhile we get our HQ blown up and no one bats an eye.”
It wasn’t the worst idea, though there were some obvious difficulties to that sort of plan. Oh well, she could wish.“Well with what we just got through, I doubt as many people will be so willing to look down on Beacon. You were the first responders, the main force behind repelling it and the clean up crew for the mess at the Graveyard.”
Penny would offer “Gotta think that would bring in some good will”
She would take snag another candy, popping it into her mouth this time before crunching away at it before washing it down with a draw from her bottle.
Alicia joined Penny in downing more of her vodka, the buzz starting to kick in a bit past the burning that almost made her eyes water. ”God, that fight,”
she said with another groan. She should feel good about it, they had stopped the end of the world after all. But she couldn’t bring herself to be content with how it had happened. ”If I ever get my hands on Regina or whoever it was that let them get away, they’re going to rue the day that they were born.”
Teeth grit as her cheeks flushed with that surging anger. With what they knew about Regina and her activities, and what they had been able to learn about the other who she had controlled at the graveyard, she was up for some payback. Especially since, deep down, she couldn’t help but blame herself. If she’d just been faster, stronger, if she hadn’t let Regina walk away that first time, none of this would have happened.
Her silence hung for several minutes, those thoughts working through her mind as her mood sagged. “Sometimes I wish I was like you. Yeah, there are downsides, but you’re so strong, and fast, and you take whatever gets thrown your way. Meanwhile I have a bow and get frozen in ice blocks.”
Her face tore into a scowl as she glanced at the vodka. ”I just can’t help but think of how many people I could save if I had that kind of ability.” “Regina just up and fled from what I remember”
Penny would say vividly recalling her stare down of the shadowed flames that would have killed her. “But I’ll hold her down for you. When we catch her.”
She promised with a cruel smile. Penny didn’t have much against Ragina personally, she felt that mind control was abhorrent sure. But she’d never actually talked with the Monster Queen, Elroy on the other hand “At least her brother won't be causing any more issues.”
That was a hate born purely from conflict, but one she had been glad to bring to an end, as unsatisfying of an end as it was.
Penny ended up draining most of her bottle in the silence that followed. And was still both annoyed and relieved to find that her regen had countered the effects of the alcohol near instantly. She was contemplating just how much she’d have to drink to get a buzz when Alicia spoke up again.“You..”
Penny started a cruel temptation nearly spilling forth, before she shook her head and starting over. “You’ve also got your Light”
Penny would add turning to look at her friend. “That’s not something I can really equal up to. Yeah I’m effective in a fight, but all of those capabilities end when I’m off the battlefield. You? You inspire people, you lead people. I’m barely good enough to keep myself in one piece.”“I wonder though…”
Penny would add softly “If there was someway one could be both purified and a Monster.”
It was a thought that Penny had had before, for as much as she didn’t want to admit it aloud, she had grown to like being inhuman.
Lingering on the topic of Regina, Alicia shook her head to clear up events for her friend. ”I tried to use my magic on her while the others went in to hit her, but someone deflected it so I missed. That’s why she was able to get away as easily as she was.”
And there was no way it could have been Regina herself. She didn’t have that kind of power before.
She appreciated the effort to try and cheer her up, and she was glad that Elroy was gone. But she couldn’t quite seem to pull herself out of that hole, especially as the effect of the alcohol pushed her further down it. Unlike Penny, she wasn’t quite so immune. She was nigh motionless, listless eyes roaming over the stars above. ”I guess,”
she huffed, unable to meet Penny’s gaze. ”Still, I use one big spell and I’m tapped out for hours. You just keep going and going. And I’d feel better if my main accomplishment was more than just being a nice person. Having a sense of decency shouldn’t be treated as something special.” “That's just great…”
Penny grumbled upon learning about Regina having allies, before finishing off the rest of her Vodka before starting to munch away at the bottle, figuring it would be easier than keeping it hidden.
Her personal gripes didn’t hold much weight when faced with Alicia’s mood though. She put a hand on her friend's shoulder “I…”
she trailed off, not really sure what to say. She wasn’t really capable of offering up much help when it came to magic. “I can be your training dummy”
She offered up, the only idea she could really think of “As you said I can take a lot and just keep going. That way you can get feedback on what works and what doesn’t.”
Penny suggesting being a target dummy was certainly not what Alicia had planned would come from this conversation, and she was left unsure as to how she should respond at first. ”Wait, what?”
This did prompt her to shift, glancing over at the monster girl leaning against her. ”No way, no way,”
she said in a sharp refusal. ”I’m not going to use a friend as a training dummy. That’s what the actual training dummies are for.”
A light nudge accompanied her statement, just to get the point across.
Her mind was focused, yet it did wander a bit as a strand of thought intruded. ”Actually, while we’re on the subject, what happened to your arms, during the fight against Elroy? I didn’t think he could do that.”
Penny raised a hand in surrender, willing to let the idea drop if Alicia wanted to. She’d keep working on other ideas in the meantime. “Training partner then”“Normally I don’t think he would have been able to”
Penny would answer glancing at one of the spider legs that she had out “But these didn’t come standard, they were my first modification actually”
Reaching out Penny grabbed on to the limb furthest away from Alicia and waited. Shortly after there was a sound of something being unscrewed at a high rate. With a grimace Penny detached the limb and held it up so Alicia could look at it.“I can’t conjure metal, and it takes me a long time to enchant it as well. So I traded for some. Got gypped though, as it turns out the metal I got was enchanted by Elroy.”
She would explain “That’s what gave him the chance to blindside me with it, otherwise I should have been able to notice him trying to influence my parts.”“Still”
She reattached the Spiderleg “I’m not going to have to worry about that happening again regardless. Stole his trick to seal off metal from external influence.””Training partner sounds good,”
Alicia agreed with a smile, giving Penny a thumbs up in the process. That was a lot better than just using her as a target and nothing more. At least it made her feel better to think of it that way.
Watching Penny mess with her various augmentations was nothing new for Alicia at this point, so she was fairly calm as Penny explained what had happened while removing her leg in the process. So, that was what had gone down? She didn’t read much more into it than there seemed to be on the face surface. ’Ah. Well as long as it doesn’t happen again then I guess we’re good,”
she conceded. ”Besides, he got his just desserts in the end anyway. And his sister will soon too if we can ever find her.”
Unfortunately, finding her was the hard part.
As for the source of this barter, she didn’t ask. She was too distracted by her own thoughts, and the effects of the vodka, to really consider it. Whether that was lucky for Penny or not. “That he did”
Penny would agree warmed but the trust Alicia showed by not digging into the trade that Penny made. She was also uncomfortably aware of her Black Coin, knowing that it too had come from that deal brought up a fresh source of guilt over it. “And she can’t stay hidden forever. You’ll find her.”“Here, let me take care of that”
Penny would say plucking the other bottle of vodka out of Alicia’s hands before draining and eating it as well. Unvoiced was the belief that Alicia had likely had enough to drink tonight.
A quick check told Penny that she would be able to reply her disguise and keep it up till everyone went to sleep, but she was enjoying sitting up here with Alicia. And wasn’t wanting to head back in just yet.”Oh, okay,”
Alicia conceded with a small frown. She didn’t think she had had too much, but made no move to stop Penny as she devoured the other bottle of vodka wholesale. Now that was weird to look at, even more than the leg. But she merely shrugged, and went back to laying down on the roof.
Silence descended, fully in the act of enjoying company with her friend as they rested on top of the roof. It was a good night to be out, with only a few clouds in the sky. She was able to watch the stars, twinkling lights in the sky far above. They were pure, untainted. Though the light from the city around her meant that it was hard to discern them in their full glory. And as she watched them a question rose to her mind. Unbidden, but there anyway.”Hey Penny,”
she asked without turning away from the view above. ”If there are actually aliens up there in outer space, do you think they have magical girls too?”