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Legends: A Story of Lies [Star vs. The Forces of Evil, Gravity Falls, Big Bad Beetleborgs]

Old Money
Been about a month, time for a new chapter.

= - = 4-5 = - =

|Old Money|

Lunchtime had arrived and in the school's parking lot Heather was lounging in the driver seat of her car, a black Audi convertible, scarfing down one of several large pieces of pizza she'd picked up from the cafeteria. Though the building had been reopened to students, she had come to enjoy just sitting out in the lot, even if the risk of her cheap lunch food ruining the interior of her expensive car was high.

"… Pizza mozza-rella… pizza mozza-rella…" She sang to herself through her teeth as she bit on the end of her slice and pulled to stretch the cheese out as far as it could go. "Rella, rella, rella, rella, rella, re-lla~"

Noticing a flash of white out the corner of her eye, she turned her head to see Shermie Pines' SUV pull into the student parking lot and come to a stop just adjacent to her own car. Her brows rising as she smiled around her pizza, she watched as Dipper, Mabel, and Misao all disembarked from the car.

"Thanks for the ride, Sherpa~!" Mabel called to her Grandfather after she closed the door.

Shermie looked over towards his charges, smiling. "You know, back in my day, when we played hooky, we didn't come back to school for lunch. If you kids want to make like a camel and hoof it, I got a full tank of gas and nothing to do for the rest of the day."

"Wish we could, but we have a lot of business to handle today," Dipper said.

Shermie gave them a knowing look. "All right then, just keep your eyes peeled and your noses clean. I'll pick you up after the dust settles."

"Thanks, Grandpa," Dipper replied as Shermie put the car in gear.

"I love you, Sherpa~!" Mabel called.

"Bye bye!" Misao likewise bid farewell, as Shermie pulled off and left the lot.

Heather leaned her left arm onto the door of her car as she waved to the trio with her right hand. "Hey! I was wondering where you guys were."

Mabel and Misao both greeted Heather with brilliant smiles as they made their way over to her.

"Wow!" Mabel said as she beheld the convertible. "This is your car?!"

Heather nodded. "Mmhm! Nice, isn't she?"

Misao raised her nose and smirked. "Your family has good taste in cars, sehr gut."

Heather giggled, then gestured at them with her pizza, a bit of sauce getting on the leather upholstered inside of the door. "So what's up? Why are you guys showing up here just now?"

Dipper rested a hand atop Misao's head and gave it an affectionate pat. "We were helping Misao get moved in properly."

"All my stuff finally arrived from Europe," Misao added for context.

"And we weren't gonna miss school, all our friends are here!"

Heather let out a hum and looked towards the school. "Yeah, I'd have stayed home. The drama is thick today."

She picked up her plate and offered it to them. "'Za?"

Mabel and Misao each took a slice, while Dipper refrained–more taken aback by the amount of pizza she had on her plate. "What drama?" He asked.

"Brittney," Heather explained as Mabel took a bite out of her offered slice, "Banned Star from the School Spirit Week activities. She can't be at the Pep Rally Friday, the Awesome Opossums Football Game Saturday, or the Dance after that."

Misao scowled. "Who gave her the right?"

"The school. This is basically her do-over for Spirit Week, and Brittney's got full authority over everything." Heather continued. "And the only reason they're letting her is because she's rich and Principal Skeeves is a tool."

"But why?"

Dipper and Mabel looked at one another and realized Misao wouldn't know. The former answered. "Because way before any of us showed up, Star set off an incident at the homecoming game. She didn't realize the football game they were having was a game, and not… you know… a battle."

Misao folded her arms. "Well with all that armor and violence, how could anyone not mistake American Football for a battle?"

"Valid point, but Star's a magical princess from another dimension, and she took the initiative to ensure victory."

Misao's face fell as she considered the implications. "Oh dear."

Heather shrugged her shoulders. "Yeah, it was total chaos. There were magical bombs going off, squirrel monsters, portals to other dimensions–I think Brittney even got eaten by a dragon or something–but in the end the Silver Hill Warriors forfeited so everyone was pretty stoked about the school's first win since like… before any of us were born."

"Star and Marco spent the entire weekend cleaning up the mess they made, though," Dipper said to Misao. "Star made an entire vlog about it."

"She did…" Mabel agreed.

Heather threw a hand up. "So you see why it's stupid that Brittney's banning Star? It's freaking double jeopardy."

"It is not fair!" Misao said, fired up again. "Why punish her again?!"

"Because Brittney hates Star, and because her rich Dad dumps cash on the school like Trip and Van's Dad do, she's going around drunk on absolute power like a Student Council President in a lame high school anime."

Heather looked aside. "I'm almost glad I'm going on this stupid trip, now."

Dipper took a deep breath. "Where is she right now?"

Misao liked Dipper's tone. "Yes, I am curious to know, too."

Mabel turned to her brother and bestie. "We've already got one rich kid problem; we don't need two."

Everyone looked at Mabel, who shrugged her shoulders and tilted her head slightly. "I'm just saying."

Dipper didn't expect that tug on the proverbial lead, but it did help him pull back from the confrontational impulse hearing about this gave him. He understood where she was coming from, though.

Misao looked up at Mabel. "But what about Star?"

"We'll chat with her about it later. There's no way that she's going to let Brittney tell her where she can or can't go."

Misao's smile was a little nasty. "Ja, you're right. She'll go to the dance no matter what that haughty girl says!"

Heather sighed. "And now I'm wishing I could go again, so I could see that go down."

The bell rang, and Heather looked towards the school. "Well, my lunch is over… but I have a study hall next so I'm going to keep eating my pizza."

"And I'm going to get more pizza since it's the beginning of ours!" Mabel said with her usual bright energy.

Misao was in full agreement. "And we can talk to Star about our inevitable counteroffensive against the forces of Brittney!"

Mabel looked off to the side. "Ah… yep…"

Dipper eyed Mabel with some curiosity at the shift in her tone and body language, before he heard a strange sound. It was a high-pitched whine, like the sound of a supercar rushing towards him… but there was a weird pulsing and droning to it that reminded him of a star fighter's engine out of a science fiction action film. As he looked around for it, first on the ground and in the sky, Mabel, Misao, and Heather noticed it, too.

"… What is that?" Heather asked.

Mabel brought a hand to her ear, trying to determine where the sound was coming from, but it was bouncing around everywhere. "… Is someone making TIE Fighter noises?"

As the sounds grew louder, Dipper had an increasingly bad feeling about what they could be.

Misao looked almost straight upward, and her eyes grew large as she at last identified the source. "… Ah."

@@@@@

While it didn't look like much, Britta's Tacos was a local institution. Hands down the best Mexican Restaurant in this corner of Los Angeles, if not the entire city, it was a place with food so good it could only be described as magical. The food was so well-known, that no one was above eating there, no matter who they were–hence why Trip Vanderhoff could tolerate being seen at such a place, waiting at one of the stand's tables sipping horchata through a straw.

"You did tell him to come here right, Dilbert?" He asked after lowering his cup.

"Dudley, sir," his butler replied before confirming. "Yes, I informed him of the time and place."

"I don't pay you to tell me your name," Trip snapped at him before he gave a quick careless glance around. "Where is he? Last thing I need is for him to pop up in a Bueno Nacho or something because he can't follow simple directions."

"I wouldn't set foot in a Bueno Nacho if my life depended on it," Marco said as he walked up to Trip's table. "It's all horse meat and cardboard tortillas."

Trip turned to him, with a brief nod. "Well, nice to see we agree on one thing. Hopefully we can see eye to eye on others."

He gestured over to the seat across from him. "Have a seat right there."

Marco sat down, gave Dudley a sharp look, then directed it at Trip. "So… what exactly do you want?"

Trip smiled and set his cup on the table. "Cutting to the chase I see, I like that."

Marco didn't reply, instead scrutinizing the preppy fop's perpetual and unwarranted smug expression as he talked. There were a lot of things Trip could want, or at the very least thought he could get from him.

Coming out of the blue to talk to me… what else could he want besides someone who could take a shot at Dipper?

"So, you and I are mutually acquainted with someone, and I am willing to pay a handsome sum for you to… get a message across," Trip continued.

I'm surprised he'd even come to me, but does he really think I'm for sale?

Marco curled his lips to one side and let out a snort. "Oh yeah? Just how handsome are we talking?"

"Deon, give him the number."

Dudley handed Marco a folded-up slip.

How much are you willing to pay for your petty revenge, Trip? He thought as he unfolded and looked at the note. His eyes shot wide.

Okay, that's a lot.

"Is that good looking enough for you?" Trip asked.

Marco did not want to be frank aloud, but he could understand why people were happy to throw themselves into the meat-grinder that was being an enemy of Dipper Pines. He set down and tapped his fingers on the bottom of the slip, before he folded it back closed.

He understood that, but even if he didn't like Dipper, he wasn't going to take this. "You are a piece of work, you know?"

"A work of art, some would say," Trip shot back.

All right, that was an okay comeback, Marco thought. "But no, I'm not going to take your money to beat up Dipper, or Drew, or whoever you got beef with."

Trip recoiled. "Wh-wha?"

"If you wanna fight someone, do it yourself."

Trip shot up to his feet. "Whoa, whoa, whoa! I wouldn't spend that much cash on beating up either of those losers!"

He stopped. "Not that I'd pay anyone to do it. I'm over the beef, it's done."

That was obviously bull, but the fact that Trip wasn't here for that did throw Marco off a bit. "Come again?"

Trip palmed his forehead and let out an exaggerated sigh. "I'm talking about the girl you know; I want you to let her know that I want to take her to the dance Saturday."

Marco tilted his head to one side, like a puppy hearing whistling for the first time. "… You want to take Star to the dance?"

The very thought obviously wasn't a good one to Trip, given how he cringed in disgust. "No, not her! The other girl you know!"

Marco searched his mental database of girls he knew. "… Janna?"

Trip's head dropped back, and he let out a frustrated groan before slamming his hand on a table. "Let me put it in a way you can understand:"

Then, in the most over-enunciated, condescending, touristy Spanish Marco ever heard, Trip spoke. "¿Quiero salir con la chica que se parece a ti? ¿Lo entiendes? Te estoy hablando español!"

Marco stared at him, his expression darkening. "Si me vuelves a hablar te arrancaré los huevos."

Trip stopped, and tried to parse his reply "Yes… you speak… eggs?"

He shook his head. "Ugh! You weren't there, but there was this girl a couple weeks ago hanging out with the magic princess. She had the same kind of hoodie you have on, but she was cute in it and she had this long, really thick hair in a ponytail and this really pretty face. You know her, right?"

A long, overburdened silence followed.

Outwardly, Marco was stoic, statue-like even with his tight-lipped expression. He stared at and through Trip, into the infinite–perfectly still.

Within the temple of peace and serenity that was Marco however, echoed laughter that would make the Joker inquire with worry. Only the briefest twitch of the corner of his lip gave away the slightest hint, but what were the odds that Trip would catch anything that subtle?

Trip was indeed too focused on Marco's blank stare to consider what lay beneath. "What?"

Marco raised his hands and clapped them flat together, before taking a deep breath. "You… want to ask her out to the Homecoming Dance?"

Trip rolled his eyes. "Finally, how is it so hard to understand?"

Marco brought his hands down onto the table and interlaced his fingers. "All right, I'm going to clear this up right now, so you don't get your hopes up, okay?"

Trip adjusted his glasses. "Huh?"

"That girl you saw with Star that day? At the park where they found you crying like a horse?"

The way Trip's face twisted into a grimace almost made Marco laugh, but he held it together. "That was me. Not my sister, not my cousin, me. Star cast a spell that made me super feminine and pretty, and I'd been stuck like that because her magic was messed up. Okay?"

Now it was Trip's turn to sit in silence and process that. He stared hard at Marco, taking off his glasses and squinting at him, before putting them back on again and squinting even harder, eyeing his face, his shoulders, his hair. He looked over at Dudley, and the old chauffeur had his back to his young charge, hunched over with one hand on his hip and the other over his mouth–his entire body shaking from his held back laughter.

He looked back at Marco, who waited patiently for his response with the ghost of a smug smile on his lips, then closed his eyes.

"Do you hate money?" He asked.

And there went Marco's head tilt, again. "Huh?"

"I understand my unfortunately tarnished reputation now precedes me," he continued as he opened his eyes to level a withering look at Marco. "But really? You're going to claim that you're a crossdresser to get me to back off?"

"Are you calling me a liar?" Marco asked.

Trip slammed his hand on the table. "I'm calling you an idiot! Just give me her digits so I can ask her out!"

Marco pointed at himself. "Her digits are my digits! She's me!"

"You can't be, you are not that hot!"

Now Marco's pride was jabbed. "I am so too that hot!"

Trip snatched up the slip and waved it in front of Marco. "What is wrong with you people?! This is more money than you'll ever see in your life, and you're just turning it down for what?!"

Marco thought about it. "The money's nice, but saying no to someone who has never been told? That's priceless."

Letting his hand gripping the slip drop to his side, Trip pulled back and slowly shook his head. "I don't get it…"

"Some people just aren't for sale, no matter how much you've got."

Something about that specifically hit Trip hard, he crushed the slip in his fist. "Everyone has a price. They may talk big; they may act all high and mighty… but in the end? Flash them a big enough number and they'll do anything for it."

He pointed at him. "I just need to figure out yours, and you're mine."

Marco got up. "You're pathetic."

"How can I be the pathetic one, when I'm the one with the money?"

"All that money and you can't buy the girls you like," Marco clapped back, and Trip blanched before his face turned a solid shade of furious red. "It's not a substitute for your crappy personality, and it never will be. Later."

As he turned away from Trip, he heard a mechanical whine from above. Looking up for the strange sound, he quickly locked onto the source and his mouth fell agape.

"… Huh?"

Slicing through the air, the eight vespid Magnavore Jet Fighters flew above Echo Creek, the afternoon sun dancing off their gold and black bodies as they headed towards the mountains, and Hillhurst.

Behind Marco, Trip's anger faded when he saw the Jet Fighters, and his anger drained away into confusion. "What are those things…?"

"Trouble," Marco said, before he felt his phone buzz like crazy in his pocket.

= - = 4-5 = - =

Looks like Los Angeles is in for an air show.
 
Last edited:
Incursion
I had a bunch of plans for this chapter. But then I realized that almost all of them would be better suited for the battle to come. Here comes a fight scene.

= - = 4-6 = - =

|Incursion|

High above Los Angeles, the appearance of the eight jet fighters did not go unnoticed. In the stacked air traffic patterns over the city, the two tight formations of four Magnavore Jet Fighters were a sight to see, anywhere from bemusing to alarming depending on how close the planes involved were.

"Tower, US 618, we just passed some fighter jets." The pilot of one such plane reported as their crew watched the eight fighters slip past them and begin circling downward towards Echo Creek.

"US 618 okay, thank you. Were they off to your left side or right side?" The professionalism of the Air Traffic Controller did not waver.

To their credit, neither did the crew of the plane. "Right side, our altitude and descending, they look like they're going in."

Planes potters and Radio Chatter enthusiasts across the region whose curiosity had been piqued by the strange report out of the blue, soon had a more alarming callout.

"Tower, US 618. Fighter jets are shooting at the ground. We're seeing explosions…"

Sweeping low and fast into the San Gabriel foothills, the first four Magnavore Jet Fighters lined up and took aim at their target: Hillhurst Mansion. Laser cannons slung under their inexplicable wings flared to life, sending bright red beams towards their target. The lasers were powerful, creating tremendous explosions that shattered windows and shook the foundation as they crashed around the house.

Inside, the thunderous blasts sent Flabber spilling from his couch in front of his television, and flat onto his face with an exaggerated splat.

"Hey! What's all that racket?!" He heard Mums yell as he got up on his hands and knees. "I'm trying to rest in peace, here!"

Fangula called out a moment later "I am trying to put on my face here! Do you know how hard that is without a reflection?!"

"Bad enough those brats come in and out to do whatever they want, now they gotta be driving around blowing stuff up?!" Mums yelled.

Flabber shook his head and got up. "Hang on you guys, I'll go see what's what!"

Disappearing into a shower of stars, planets, and squiggly lines, Flabber appeared just outside the door. "Hey, kids? Are you doing live-fire practice in the vineyard…?"

He looked up to see the next flight of four Magnavore Jet Fighters lining up for their run. "Ruh roh!"

Flabber vanished back inside, just as the fighters' salvo of beams walked up to the front of the house but stopped short, leaving a line of smoldering craters on the path leading to it. His back plastered against the door as the rumbling stopped, Flabber peeked out the window to see the damage, and winced when he saw both groups of fighters were coming back around to form up for another run.

Mums stomped out onto the mezzanine overlooking the foyer and glared down at Flabber. "Who the heck is trying to blow us up now?!"

Flabber hummed. "High speed jet fighters, Powerful yet wildly inaccurate fire, complete disregard for life… it's either the Galactic Empire… or the IRS."

"They're not getting a dime from me!" Mums yelled before the next run hit, this time a bracketing attack from both flights of fighters at once, passing on the sides of the house.

The violent rumbling pitched Mums over the railing, and he fell into a heap in the middle of the foyer.

Fangula swept into the foyer from the back, followed by the plodding Frankenbeans. "Flabber, this had better not start happening every week!"

Biting his lower lip and inhaling sharply through his upper teeth, Flabber turned to his vampiric resident. "I've got some bad news…"

The fighters strafed again, the assault missing the house once more but doing enough shaking to send everyone but Frankenbeans to the floor.

In the parking lot, Dipper, Mabel, and Heather all stared up in the sky at the fleeing shape of the Magnavore Jet Fighters in silence, watching them make their turn towards Hillhurst. The twins and Misao shared very unsettled looks, as Heather got out of her car and stood to get as good of a view as she could before they dove out of sight.

"Those were Magnavore Jet Fighters," she said, as she broke into a big smile. She turned to the trio, vibrating with excitement. "That was so cool! They actually built working models of them! How do they even get them to fly?!"

Dipper was glad that he didn't have to offer a difficult explanation to Heather. "Hollywood Supertech is wild, right?"

Heather laughed. "I'll say!"

Mabel had her phone out before it began chiming at high frequency. "Uh oh, phone's blowing up." She turned to Dipper and Misao. "We're needed by the gym."

As she and Misao sprinted off, Dipper turned to Heather. "We'll see you later, um… take care, okay?"

"Yeah, see ya. Enjoy lunch," Heather said before she looked back in the direction the fighters went and saw the smoke and dust. "Oh no! Did one of them crash?"

Dipper really hoped so, as he followed his sister and roommate around to the other side of the school. As soon as they were out of sight of the cafeteria, Jo abruptly appeared in front of them, followed by Drew and Roland. A portal opened and both Star and Janna jumped out of it, joining the group.

"They can summon Magnavore Jet Fighters, now?!" Jo asked as she gestured towards the plume over Hillhurst.

"We really can't waste time freaking out about it," Drew said.

Dipper agreed. "He's right, the only thing there is to do is fight them before they attack more than Hillhurst."

"I am not freaking out, I am expressing frustration that the Magnavores have their Jet Fighters now," Jo more calmly corrected.

Roland nudged her. "Silver lining? We can fight them in our A.V.s"

Jo's brows jumped up, and she smiled. "Consolation accepted."

Dipper turned to Star. "Where's Marco?"

Star pulled them out. "Marco went to Britta's Tacos."

"Is he over there now?" Roland asked.

Mabel held up her phone. "He's there right now-"

Roland disappeared from where he stood, then reappeared with Marco.

"Superspeed must be nice," she finished.

"Huwuh?!" Marco looked around wild-eyed, then turned to Roland. "Let me know when you're going to do that!"

Roland shrugged his shoulders. "Sorry."

"Well now that everyone's here-" Janna said before the sounds of explosions echoed over the hills and rooftops. "How are we getting over there without getting blown up?"

"She's right," Jo said. "The Anti-Teleport Field blocks the scissors, and we don't have time to walk a mile and change."

Drew agreed. "Yeah, if emergency services head over to the house and those fighters are still there…"

"Can't we just use your super speed?" Misao asked Roland.

"I have a limit," Roland said, "And going back and forth to move all you guys would definitely be over it.

Star let out a hum, as an idea came to her. "I have an idea!"

She faced everyone, before raising her hands and giving them a nervous smile. "All right. What I'm about to pitch to you will get us there really quick, but there's a drawback…"

Dipper looked up at the smoke rising over the hills. "We don't really have a choice. If it can get us there fast, let's hear it out."

Star nodded. "All right! Here's my idea…"

In the Vineyard, as the Jet Fighters' strafing runs passed, Noxic popped up from behind some brush near the house, ruefully shaking his head. "What the heck, do I gotta take these guys into the shop when we're done here? They're shooting like chumps!"

Typhus agreed. "Yeah, baby. I've seen Stormtroopers with better aim."

Jara, standing a row behind them, let out a sigh. "You do know the Stormtroopers were aiming poorly on purpose, do you not?"

Typhus and Noxic looked at her, though their faces did not emote well, she could see a lack of comprehension written all over both.

She admitted to being no better, given her mask. "The Empire wanted to know where the Rebel Base was, so they needed them alive and to think they escaped. Vader and Tarkin ordered the Stormtroopers to miss, it is an unspoken testament to the Empire's insidious indoctrination and discipline that they followed that order even as they were being killed."

Typhus let out an enlightened grunt. "Wow, it all makes sense."

"You learn new things about that movie every day, you know?" Noxic asked Typhus, who nodded back.

Jara resisted rolling her eyes at the most casual of casuals. "This is the same idea. We cannot destroy the house, Vexor wants to know what's inside. What we can do… is kick up enough dust to bring the Butterfly and the Beetles out right where we want them."

She looked up the road leading to Hillhurst. "They should come running right about now."

Behind her and the other two Magnavores, Saberizer sat in silence, his anticipation betrayed by the faint rattle of his armor. As soon as she spoke those words, his sharp senses came to life, and he tilted his head upward.

"There!" He called and Typhus and Noxic both jumped.

'"There? Where?!" The latter shouted as he looked around, his head going left, right, then performing a full rotation.

Typhus followed Saberizer's line of sight into the sky. "… I don't see 'em, baby."

Noxic followed suit, and using his superior spec specs, zoomed in on a point in the sky and detected movement. "… Whoa… what the hey?!"

He zoomed in further, and saw Star, then Dipper, Marco, Mabel, and Misao fall past his field of view. "They didn't just come runnin' Jara! They're literally droppin' in!"

Two kilometers above Hillhurst, Dipper held onto his lumberjack hat as he fell towards the ground far below. Star's idea was a good one on paper: open a portal to exactly two kilometers above the house, drop straight down, and then she would use a spell to help them land safely. Only now that he was falling did he realize that two kilometers–a relatively short distance to walk for him–was a long way to fall. Longer still with hostile enemies flying around that were eager to kill him.

A long fall, but as he took into consideration the staggering events that led to this moment, he couldn't help the grin that spread across his face as he thrust his free hand forward, balled up in a fist. It didn't get any stranger than this! "LET'S GOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

"Wheeeeee!" Mabel cheered as she fell past them like a bullet. "This is just like skydiving with Mom and Dad!"

"Without a parachute into a combat zone!" Marco shouted as he flailed at terminal velocity. Unlike everyone else, he was having second thoughts way past the point of no-return.

Janna, pulling her hat down tighter so it didn't go flying off, passed close to Marco. "Oh come on, the fall's not so bad."

"Ja! It's the landing that'll kill us!" Misao shouted as she caught up with Mabel and joined hands with her and Janna to form a circle. Star dove headfirst in the gap between them, then opened her arms and legs wide to slow herself down.

"WOOHOO!" She cheered, before she noticed four of the Magnavore Jet Fighters pulling into a climb towards them. "Oh, they've noticed us~!"

Down on the ground, Noxic looked at Typus. "Hey! I bet three crates of beer that they get one of 'em!"

"You're on, baby!" Typhus said.

Jara tightened her grip on her blade.

The fighters, nearly vertical, slowed down to line up on their falling targets, their sensors locking onto each falling teenager and their wing-mounted cannons swiveling to zero in on and correct for their target's movement relative to their own.

"You got a spell for them?!" Dipper asked.

Star laughed in the face of their certain doom. "Yeah! High Explosive Beetle Blast!"

A barrage of beams from above the falling children pummeled the body and wasp-like tail of the fighter. More beams followed, raining onto the other three fighters. Above their falling friends, the three Beetleborgs continue blasting away with their Input Magnums in Crashing Mode, forcing the fighters to break off, all trailing smoke to the surprise of the Magnavores below.

"Man, those kids are crazy!" Noxic yelled.

Typhus almost wanted to cheer them on as they came down, in no small part because of his newly won cases of beer. "Yeah baby, this is nuts!"

Jara tensed up and said nothing.

"Star!" Dipper shouted. "All we gotta do now is stick the landing!"

"One soft landing coming up! Super Summon Cloudy Charm!" Aiming her wand down, Star fired a pink ray that shot down ahead of them and expanded into a large pink cloud.

She hit it first, disappearing into the pink, cotton candy like structure, followed by Mabel, Misao, Dipper, Janna, and finally the flailing and screaming Marco. The Beetleborgs landed one by one in crouches, the ground denting into shallow craters from the force of their impact.

The pink cloud drifted to a gentle stop just above the ground behind them. Emerging from the inside of the cloud, Star smiled down at it. "Thanks, Cloudy."

A cherubic face appeared on the Cloud's front. "Oh, you're welcome, Star!"

Waving her wand, she dispelled the cloud and everyone inside fell to the ground in a heap. The Beetleborgs turned to face the others as they began getting up.

Janna rose first, and was helped to her feet by Drew. "Well, cross skydiving off my bucket list… after putting it on it."

Misao, who landed on Mabel, lifted her head from her chest and looked up at her. "The best moments in life can be the unexpected ones, I think."

Mabel nodded back. "Mmhm!"
"Don't I know it," Janna said while taking her hat off to shake out the dust.

Marco sat up, rubbing his face. "Some unexpected things can be very bad too, case in point."

He looked down and saw he was straddling Dipper, who was staring at the sky with an unreadable expression. "Are you okay?"

"Yes, please get off," Dipper's eyes widened and he verbally reeled. "Up. Up. So I can stand."

Marco stood, and he and Star both helped him to his feet.

Dipper rubbed his back. "I'll take a hard landing after a fall of six feet over one of six thousand any day."

Flabber came out onto the porch and brightened when he saw everyone. "Oh hey, kids! Nice of you to-"

"Don't you dare say it!" Jo shouted.

Flabber buttoned up his lip and looked off to his right.

The Red Strikerborg stared at the Phasm.

Flabber opened the corner of his mouth.

"No!" She yelled.

Flabber cast his gaze to the ground with a sad whimper.

Mabel trotted past Jo. "Oh we love dropping by to see you, Flabber~"

Jo groaned as Flabber lit back up into his incandescent self.

Marco patted her on the shoulder. "You tried."

"Anyway, come on in!" Flabber spun around to the other side of the door, dressed as a fifty's era housewife complete with a bright yellow apron over a similarly gaudy Sunday dress and a beehive hairdo. In his free hand he balanced a large tray with plastic cups, a pitcher of lemonade, and a plate piled with fresh chocolate chip cookies. "I've got cookies and lemonade for your long day of fighting evil~!"

Dipper was first through the door and headed straight for the Organ Room. Janna, on his heels, took the lemonade. "Sweet."

"It's actually a little on the tart side," Flabber corrected.

Misao grabbed the cups. "Danke!"

"Bitte~!" Flabber called back.

Mabel, bringing up the rear, took the whole tray of cookies. "You're the ghost with the most, Flabber!"

Flabber wagged his hand back at Mabel. "Oh you~"

Jo rolled her eyes. "Come on."

Drew smacked Jo's shoulder. "Don't worry about that for now."

She turned around, and with the others faced down the Magnavores, Saberizer, and their fifty Scabs. The group marched towards the house, Jara at the very front, the red-adorned warrior woman's blade already glowing in anticipation of the fight.

"Speaking of bad jokes," she said.

Marco rolled his shoulders and hopped from one foot to the other, limbering up. "They're going all out."

Roland tightened his fists and got ready. "Good, then so can we."

@@@@@

Inside Hillhurst, as the organ slid open to reveal the way to the Beetle Battle Base, Flabber called over to Dipper and the others. "Hey, there are a ton more of the bad guys out there than ever."

"What?" He went to the window to look out and saw for himself the Magnavores' numbers. "Uh oh."

Mabel peered over his shoulder. "There's even more of them!"

Misao and Janna came to the windows next. The latter regarded the advancing force with prompt dismissal.

"Oh no, more Scabs… the scarred and gnarled guy with the sword's kinda cute, though."

For the most part.

Dipper didn't care much for this development, for what it meant. "They're experimenting with their abilities, seeing what limits they have in summoning."

Misao looked back to see the organ open. "Then let's explore our own limits."

Dipper nodded and called out to the guys skilled or equipped for this kind of thing. "Once the Beetle Base is up we'll roast these guys with the defenses, you guys gonna be okay until then?"

Star spun her wand in her hand, as Marco moved into his karate stance. "We'll take care of it!"

Jara, raised her blade in front of her face, her vision tunneling on Star. "Yes, come… get taken care of!"

She thrust her blade forward and the Scabs charged, waving their weapons above their heads. Looking to one another, Jo cracked her knuckles, and Roland snapped his fingers.

"We got this," they said together, before the Red Strikerborg jumped and the Green Hunterborg vanished. The Scabs looked up and watched as Jo fell onto them, her fist pulled back. Plunging into the middle of their ranks, Jo punched the ground and set off an explosion that scattered the dozens of robot foot soldiers in every direction.

As Jara stopped short of the plume of swirling dust, she heard Star shout from the other side of it. "Bunny Rabbit Blast!"

Star burst through the dust, fire in her eyes and skulls on her cheek as she transformed her wand into a mace. Turning herself around twice for momentum, she let out a yell and swung the wand-turned-bludgeon down on Jara's head. The weapon stopped short, crashing against the flat of Saberizer's falchion.

"My General is not so easily struck in my presence!" Saberizer shouted as he riposted her attack so Jara could extend her energy whip into a rigid blade and lance through Star's heart.

Transforming her wand back, Star dropped out of the path of the beam and landed in front of both of them as Saberizer stepped to her right and allowed Jara to lunge with another stab. She went left, diving past Jara and aiming her wand at Saberizer. "Rainbow Fist Punch!"

Saberizer swung his blade in a parrying slash to deflect the spell, but it connected in spite of the effort, pushing the swordsman back along the ground. As Jara raised her energy blade to bring it down on Star's back, the Green Hunterborg abruptly appeared between them–his Input Magnum pointed in the Mercenary General's face.

"Wh-?!" Roland opened fire before she could finish, the first shot knocking her backward head first, and the second and third shots connecting with her chest and stomach in a shower of sparks.

"You were talking about not getting touched?!" Roland shouted before he turned to see Typhus coming at him like a freight train that never skipped arm day.

His right arm turning fully red, Typhus let out a bellow as he swung, the punch clearing the dust Jo kicked up. Both Roland and Star were nowhere to be found.

"What the?!" The second set of eyes on his whale-like head did not fail him, spotting Star appear in the wake of a green blur just behind him. He swung his whole body around, the second mouth opening to fire a ray at Star, when Roland crashed into him.

The Hunter Claw secured around his neck, Roland slammed Typhus headfirst into the ground and dragged him through the dirt and rock, digging a long trench with his body. Reaching the end of the vineyard he swung him up over his head and drove him down into the ground with enough force to make a small crater.

"Thank you!" Star shouted to Roland, before she turned and used her wand to block Saberizer's sword. Jumping back to avoid two more strikes of the falchion, she unleashed another spell with a swing of her wand. "Hard Bass Sword Rave!"

In a flash of light, five swords–a claymore, a rapier, a katana, a scimitar, and a cutlass–materialized and shot at Saberizer. With expertise he deflected each blade, only for the thrown aside weapons to right themselves in midair and attack again, putting him on the defensive.

Satisfied to see Saberizer preoccupied, Star turned her attention back to the Scabs, raising her wand and firing another explosive spell that carved through the mooks before they could gang up on her.

In front of the house, Marco, Jo, and Drew's battle with the Scabs was a wild melee. Multiple blades came down on Marco from all sides, only to miss or have their trajectories knocked off course by his quick hands. When one stabbed at his front, he used his sidestep to side kick a Scab in the head. A second blow, vertical chop, was evaded and punished by a spinning backfist that connected with the dead center of the Scab's face.

Jumping onto the back of a Scab that attempted to spear tackle him into the ground, Marco leaped and flew a kick into the forehead of a third Scab. The rebound from the blow sent him into a spin, and he landed hard on his feet to face another Scab coming at him head on. A second Scab, scrambling to corner him, came at Marco's exposed back.

An Input Magnum beam holed the head of the Scab attacking Marco's back, and the one running at his front just disappeared, replaced by Jo finishing the motion of the punch that she plowed into it. Marco looked to his right, as he heard what sounded like a cannonball ricochet on the hill at the end of the vineyard opposite the house and saw a puff of dust and dirt the Scab-projectile left behind on the hill's lip.

The Blue Stingerborg's Input Magnum shots hammered two more Scabs, as Drew moved to cover Marco's back. "Just keep beating the crap out of these guys, we won't let them get close to you."

He made good on that reassurance immediately, imposing himself between Marco and Noxic, the latter's electric attack crashing against his armored body. "Hngh!"

Even as bolts of plasma arced up and down his arms, Drew raised his Input Magnum and fired at Noxic, who ducked and rolled out of the way. "You can take a hit and keep standin' now?!"

He spun in place and drew his umbrella. "I'm just gonna have to hit ya twice as hard!"

Drew fired back at him, forcing Noxic to deflect the shots with his umbrella. "You'll need to hit even harder than that!"

Before Noxic could even try, Star broke free of her own melee and attacked. "Sunny Ocean Sandblast!"

Noxic turned his umbrella towards Star and stopped the swirling stream of ocean water, sand, starfish, crabs, and clams that shot from Star's wand. "You're lucky I don't rust, or I'd be really mad-!" He looked up to see Jo looming over him to punch him square in the face. "Aw nuts."

In that same moment, Typhus's monstrous claw grabbed Roland and the much stronger Magnavore hauled him up as he rose to his feet. Spotting Noxic's situation, he rectified it in the most expedient fashion possible–pitching Roland like a fastball into Jo and sending them both tumbling end over end.

"Haha, nice one!" Noxic congratulated before a torrent of flame from Drew's Input Magnum in Flame Mode engulfed him. "AH! HOT! HOT! HOTHOTHOTHOTHOT!"

"Are you guys okay?!" Star shouted before the Katana from the Hard House Sword Rave Spell hit the ground at her feet from her left and dissolved. Looking the way it came from, she found Saberizer bearing down at her.

"Clever tricks, witch!" He yelled as he swung.

"Witch?!" She leaned back to limbo underneath Saberizer's falchion. Rising, she twirled clear of a wide diagonal slash that would've otherwise split her in two. "I'm a Magical Princess! Dagger Crystal Heart Attack!"

Wand aimed at Saberizer, she unleashed a torrent of razor-sharp crystal hearts, and Saberizer twirled his blade in circles from one side to the other, deflecting each projectile away from him. "Try again, sorceress!"

Star swung her wand back and forth. "That's better, but still wrong! Shooting Star Explosion!"

A trio of spinning stars fired at Saberizer next, and he hesitated not in cleaving through each–creating an explosion that enveloped him. "Grah!"

Star used the explosions to backpedal and open the distance. It was a wise move, as Jara erupted from the spell's smoke and lashed out at her wildly with her beam whip.

"What must it take for you aggravating brats to give up and DIE?!" She yelled while her overpowered swings tore chunks out of the old vineyard and the ground beneath it.

Star turned her backpedaling into a graceful dance, leaping from one leg to the other, twirling and spinning around Jara's attacks and the debris they kicked up for no less than five of the devastating strikes. Landing on both feet, she swung her wand down and fired a spell at the ground. "Smoke Bomb Blast!"

As the smoke swirled around her, Jara yelled and lashed out with her whip, clearing the cloud around her from the waist up. Marco sprang up from her left, spun, and kicked her in the back of her head. "Surprise!"

The blow threw Jara into the ground on her face, and she slid to a stop, very still. "I hate them. All of them."

Star came up behind him, and both turned around one another to catch each other's hand as Star kicked a Scab in the head, decapitating it, while Marco punched a second Scab in the chest with such force that mechanical wasps sprayed out its back. They let each other go, turned towards the remaining Scabs, and Marco placed his hand over Star's holding the wand as she aimed it at another large group of them.

"SUPER MEGA NARWHAL BLAST!" She yelled, and the barrage of Narwhals tore through the robot warriors, leaving few left.

"You okay?" He asked, turning to her as the last mechanical wasp fell to the ground and dissolved.

She glanced back at him in turn. "We just gotta last a little longer!"

"You ain't even got a second left!" Typhus yelled as he came down on both of them with a hammer blow. His fists came down on their skulls, both of them dead to rights in his sights.

Just centimeters away from his fists connecting, millimeters, Typhus ground to a halt. Star, Marco, the entire world for everyone but Roland was near perfectly still. Jogging over to his unarmored friends, Roland picked them both up and carried them over to the front of Hillhurst. He then jogged back over to pick up Jara, who was in the middle of getting back up to her feet and carried her over to where Star and Marco had previously been.

Dusting his hands off, Roland took a few more steps back, entered Crashing Mode in his Input Magnum and aimed it at Typhus as he slowed down.

Typhus's fists crashed down on Jara's back, driving her into the ground.

"Take that, baby!" He shouted before the dust cleared to reveal Jara face down in the hole she made in the dirt shaped like her body. "Uhh… wait-"

Roland's Crashing Mode rounds hammered into Typhus, driving him backward. Seeing Roland appear and open fire, Drew joined in with beam mode shots–the more powerful semi-automatic beams shoving him back faster along the stream of fire Roland pushed him with.

Noxic, still trying to put himself out, heard Typhus' wails. "Hang on, buddy! I'm comin'!"

"Let me help you get there!" Jo yelled as she grabbed Noxic by the arm and ran at Typhus. "THROW PEOPLE AT ME WILL YOU, MOTHERFUCKER?!"

She swung Noxic around and threw the burning android at his monster man best bud. There was an explosion, and Typhus slammed into the ground at the far end of the Vineyard, unconscious. A broken and malfunctioning Noxic landed on his back, his uncontrollable short-circuiting shocking Typhus over and over.

Star and Marco looked over towards the Beetleborgs. Marco rubbed the side of his head, as he realized what must've happened for them to be several meters away from where they'd been. "Okay, Hunterborg. You get a free pass for that one."

"That was awesome, Strikerborg!" Star said. "Awesome enough to make me forget most of the crappy stuff you said! Get 'im, girl!"

Jo let out a laugh as she turned to face Saberizer, who recovered from the Shooting Star Explosion. "It feels so good to be actually wailing on these punks, now!"

Roland flickered to appear beside her. "Yeah. We may not be good fighters, but we definitely know how to use these powers!"

Drew watched the two of them swagger out towards Saberizer and couldn't help but feel a little envious of the two of them and their powers. Marco rubbed the sweat from his brow, as Star gripped her wand, ready to jump in.

Jara pulled her head out of the dirt with a pained groan. "What… what is even happening?!"

Saberizer stared at the Green Hunterborg and the Red Strikerborg, and rested his falchion on his right shoulder, tapping the flat of the blade against his helmet. "Is it really something to be so proud of? Your ignorance?"

"What we're proud of… is that as new as we are at this, we're still able to beat you!" Jo shouted as she charged at him.

His left hand reaching behind his back, he brought around to his hip the scabbard of his falchion, his right hand bringing the blade to sheath it. When Marco heard the clack of the blade locking into the scabbard and saw Saberizer's stance widen and lower, he lunged forward with alarm.

"WAIT! DON'T GET TOO CLOSE!"

Once more everything slowed to a stop, with Jo in place pulling her punch in confusion from Marco's shouting, Marco himself frozen mid-shout, while Star was caught between acting and wondering what he was shouting about.

Roland stepped up to Saberizer's side and rested the Input Magnum against the unarmored left side of his head. "Nah, bruh."

Before he could pull the trigger, Saberizer unsheathed his blade, striking both Roland and Jo in the same motion and scattering them away from him in different directions. The two froze in the air, sprawled out as sparks began to leap from their damaged armor.

"Your ignorance is the mistaken belief that power can overcome skill."

Pulling his blade back, then flicking it back out to his side, he brought the sword and scabbard together again and sheathed the blade–stopping just short of locking the hilt.

"Consider yourselves enlightened."

He locked the hilt, and the world resumed its normal speed, explosions ripping off the green and red armor as their wearers fell to the ground.

As the violent reversal played out, Jara nodded. "Yes, this is how it is supposed to be going."

Saberizer turned to her. "General, we need to discuss the quality of the company you keep, and the detriment it is causing your skill."

Marco landed in front of Saberizer with enough force to crack the ground beneath his feet. In an instant Saberizer drew his sword to cleave through him and missed wide as Marco leaped directly above him to swing a kick down into the top of Saberizer's head.

Dauntless of Marco's maneuver, Saberizer raised his falchion to run him through. "Not quick enough, boy!"

The very tip of the blade began to cut through the front of his hoodie–when another blade crashed into his with enough force to dislodge it from Saberizer's hand. Flipping end over end, the falchion struck the ground at Jara's feet, and she took a step back in surprise.

Marco landed to the side of Saberizer and looked back to see the afternoon sun gleaming off the monomolecular edge of the Stinger Blade. Drew stood in front of Saberizer, the blade raised between the two, panting heavily from the mad dash he made to save his friend from being countered.

Saberizer stared at the expressionless helmet of the Blue Stingerborg, then glanced at his hand, then out the corner of his eye at Jara and his sword. For the briefest moment, he wondered what had happened.

The Blue one… I did not even see him move. He thought, before he did notice Star holding up an alarmingly glowing wand.

"SUPER GEYSER WINDSTORM!" She yelled, and Saberizer crossed his arms to guard against the torrent of water that threw him back and just past Jara.

Jara turned towards Star, but only saw power and fury radiating from the girl, her cheek marks glowing, as she turned the spell from water to electricity.

"ROLLING THUNDER LIGHTNING BLAST!"

Alarmed, Jara ignited her energy blade and swung it down into the beam of lightning Star fired at her, the blade cleaving the attack in twain and scattering it away from Saberizer, Typhus and Noxic behind her. Feeling the stray bolts course through her, leaving blinding agony in their wake, Jara clenched her jaw tight to endure the attack with a desperate growl through her teeth.

The scattering bolts of lightning devastated the vineyard, ripping the rows asunder and carving deep, scorched cuts up the path from Hillhurst and into the hills surrounding it. For ten whole seconds it surged and split against Jara's blade, until it finally dissipated, leaving dense clouds of ionized smoke and dust hanging over the vineyard.

"Haa… haa… haa… haa…" Slumping forward, her blade nearly slipping out of her hands, Jara looked into the electricity-filled haze.

She could see two heart-shaped points of light–then two more points just above and between them in the shape of glowing, angry eyes as Star's silhouette slowly distinguished itself from the smoke.

The ground began to shake, and Jara looked higher to see the Beetle Battle Base emerge above Hillhurst Mansion. Her pained breathing became weak chuckling that grew stronger into triumphant laughter. She looked back down at Star, and despite every instinct telling her to run, she gestured out to her.

"Well, then… I suppose now that it's out? This…?" The droning whine of the Magnavore Jet Fighters diving in towards the Beetle Battle Base filled the air. "Is checkmate."

Closing in, the fighters' tails swung under their bodies, until their ends were pointed at the newly risen structure.

Seeing them, Drew realized what they were going to do. "Their missiles!"

Marco looked at him. "What about them?"

"We can't let those things fire, they will destroy the base and Hillhurst with it!"

Star looked around and smiled. "They won't get the chance."

Before the fighters could do anything with their new arrangement, the air was filled with the louder, deeper pulses as almost a dozen large dome-shaped laser cannons situated around the house and the Beetle Battle Base opened fire–clearing the smoke around them. Their bright pink beams surged skyward, slashing through the Magnavore Jet Fighter formations and blasting all eight of them out of the sky in seconds.

"See?" Star said as the smoke cleared, revealing Marco, Drew, Roland, and Jo standing with her. The Princess pointed her wand at Jara, her hearts turned into skulls again. "Time's up. You lose!"

Jara reaffirmed her grip on her weapon and took a step back. "We must withdraw."

She stood and crossed her arms to teleport, when she remembered just that one unfortunate detail and froze in place.

Damn it! I forgot we cannot teleport here!

The cannons that ravaged the Magnavore Jet Fighters traversed and depressed their lenses, bringing them down to aim at her and her downed friends. From the Beetle Battle Base itself, Dipper's voice spoke.

"You can either give up now, or get blasted into stray particles, what's it going to be?!"

Jara clenched her teeth. "I will not yield to you brats!"

"Stray atoms it is," Dipper said as the cannons began to charge.

Before they could fire, a familiar, booming voice echoed.

"ENOUGH."

The ground warped beneath Jara, before a massive hand ripped through the ground and grabbed her, before yanking her under the ground. A second hand rose and snatched Noxic, Typhus, and Saberizer away. What remaining Scabs left behind, regardless of functionality, quickly began to dissolve.

"What the…?" Dipper asked.

The guys on the ground were no less disbelieving.

"That… that was Vexor's hand!" Jo shouted.

Roland looked at the others, then back at the house. "What the heck, man! I thought the Anti-Teleport Field could keep them out!"

When Dipper spoke again, they could hear all sorts of alarms going on in the background. "There was a massive breach of time and space just now! I… I think Vexor just brute-forced his way through the field to drag his people out!"

"Ja, confirmed! The exact location where the events just happened, the barrier's in the red!" Misao reported.

They heard Mabel next. "Holy cow! And pig! And goat! How much power did it take to do that?!!"

"I… I don't know," Drew said. "But… I think we won."

Star jumped up and cheered. "We won~!"

She turned and hugged Marco. "We won! And you're not hurt!"

She pulled back and looked at him. "Are you hurt?"

Marco smiled back at Star and lifted up his shirt to reveal the blade hadn't touched him. "I'm fine, not a scratch on me."

She laughed and rested her forehead against his, as she rubbed his back. "I'm glad."

Jo shook her head. "Geez… Roland, did you catch what he hit us with?"

"I think he pulled like some Kenshin, Zatoichi crap on us," Roland replied–before adding. "It was rad as heck, though. Not as rad as you throwing Noxic at Typhus."

Jo laughed and raised both arms, pumping them. "They got their free passes to the gun show~!"

Star, full energy all the way, ducked under one of Jo's raised arms and joined Drew's side to pat his armored chest. "Did you see what Stingerborg did?!"

"Yeah, he disarmed that Saber dude and saved my neck," Marco added.

Roland turned towards Drew. "Yo, get out of here! I can't believe I missed that!"

Star bounced up and down in excitement. "I saw the whole thing, he was like 'swoosh' and Saberizer went 'what?!' and then I blasted him with my Super Geyser Windstorm!"

Marco, who was even closer, nodded. "I didn't even see you move, man. How'd you get there so fast?"

Drew was given pause and looked down at the Stinger Blade. "Actually? I don't know, I saw that saber guy trying to stab you and I just didn't even think then."

Jo folded her arms and gave her brother an approving nod. "And to think you didn't even need any special power to do it. Very nice, bro."

"Yeah, to think…" Underneath the helmet, Drew frowned as he continued staring at the Stinger Blade.

Flabber came back to the door. "Hey guys, I bet you worked up an appetite saving the day. There's more snacks and drinks inside!"

Star lit up. "Mabel, you better have saved me some cookies~!"

Marco followed. "Let's head in, so Flabber can clean this place up."

Roland followed. "I hope the base recorded the fight. I need to see you throwing Noxic at Typhus."

Jo agreed. "Right?"

Drew quietly brought up the rear, still looking at his Stinger Blade all the way to the porch.

As everyone went inside, the Beetle Battle Base retracted into the ground, and Flabber got to work cleaning up the mess, none paid any attention to the now no-longer hostile skies.

"Tower, US 618. We've got eyes on what the unidentified fighter jets were shooting at…"

= - = 4-6 = - =

Uh oh.
 
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Advocacy for the Devil
Sorry for the delay, folks.

= - = 4-7 = - =

|Advocacy for the Devil|

Jara, on her hands and knees and almost all her exposed skin wrapped in gauze and bandages, stared at the crypt's floor and the base of the sarcophagus that Vexor still remained within. Behind her, on her right, Typhus finished healing from his wounds. On her left, Noxic lay in a disjointed heap, sparks popping off his damaged body. Directly behind her, at the far end of the Saberizer sat in the lotus position, with his sheathed falchion across his lap–he was meditating on the battle fought.

She wished she could meditate, if to be anywhere but near Vexor's suffocating presence emanating from his temporary tomb.

"For what it's worth… I am not angry." Vexor spoke through the gap created by the ajar lid. "Just very disappointed."

"Absolutely nothin'," Noxic said. "That's exactly how much it's worth."

"I could be angry."

"And that's worth less than nothin'." Noxic said.

Typhus bit back his snicker. Jara's shoulders shook, and she praised her mask for hiding her clenched expression as she held in her own laughter. It hurt to laugh, and it'd hurt even more to laugh at Vexor now.

"This was to be your grand show of force Jara, and yet this was our most debilitating setback to date." Vexor's words cut into her even as they conveniently ignored the circumstances that laid him up such as he was. "What have we learned from this?"

Jara raised her head. "Attacking the house is no longer viable. It is too well defended, and its counter to teleportation makes any withdrawal difficult under the best of circumstances."

She looked back down, "The Beetleborgs are also stronger than we have encountered, having abilities that they use to patch up their lack of combat experience."

She let out a seething hiss. "And the Butterfly is still aggravating with her magic."

A long, contemplative hum rang from the tomb. "The Butterfly, the young man she appears close to, and those other children besides the Beetleborgs… on them from now on. The house can wait until its defenders are out of the picture."

Jara nodded. "I was thinking the same thing actually."

"There is more to this world than just that house, go out and see it–surely there awaits wisdom that could bring victory." A clawed hand rose to curl around the edge of the heavy stone lid. "I leave that to you."

With that he pulled the lid shut, only to catch his fingers with it.

"Ow."

A thump followed as he freed them and let the sarcophagus fall closed.

Noxic's broken neck managed to roll his head to look at Jara as she rose to her feet. "Does this mean Vexor's lettin' us do what we want?"

"Do you want to interpret it that way?"

"Yes."

"Then do what you want, as long as it goes toward defeating those insect children."

"You betcha Jara. I'll do it for you, because I respect you, and Typhus, and even you Saberizer."

Vexor's muffled voice came from inside the sarcophagus. "When I am back on my feet Noxic, I will be removing your head from your neck and installing it up your exhaust port."

"Jokes on you, I don't have an exhaust port! High-efficiency, baby!"

"I will take the time to craft you one and it will be exceedingly superfluous."

Typhus got up and watched the last of his wounds disappear. "When we find out where those kids hang out, we can bring the fight straight to 'em, baby!"

"You can do that, I gotta get a workshop going or else I'm gonna end up bein' more patchwork than working, know what I mean?" Noxic complained.

Jara agreed. "It is for the best. Typhus and I can handle finding the brats."

Saberizer took his sheathed blade in hand and stood. "General, if I may speak freely?"

The Mercenary General turned to face her subordinate, bracing herself for what he had to say. She didn't forget his comment from before. "Da, go ahead."

"Fighting all of them at once doesn't work, even with large numbers of Scabs at our disposal," he said, "So, allow me to seek out and engage enemy elements as the hunter, so that you may fall upon them as the killer."

Jara could see something burning inside Saberizer, she heard it in his voice. A slight tremble–not of fear but anticipation. "Eager to seek them out?"

He held up his Falchion and slowly unsheathed it, revealing a nick in the blade where the Stinger Blade cut into it to disarm him. "As much to avenge your honor after our defeat, I must satisfy my curiosity."

He sheathed the blade with a click that echoed in the crypt. "Grant me this request, General, and I shall complete our mission without fail!"

Jara nodded. "We will be right behind you, Typhus and I, and as many Jet Fighters as we can muster to support you."

Saberizer knelt before Jara in salute. "You have my highest gratitude, General."

"Let me know how that works out for ya!" Noxic said.

Typhus gave the android a thumb's up. "I'll bring you back some scrap from the scrap, baby!"

"You're the coolest, Typhus. You and Jara, and you too Saberizer!" Noxic looked towards the sarcophagus, daring Vexor to say a thing.

When he didn't, he laughed. "And no one else."

The lid pushed up. "I'm not even going to dignify that with a retort."

"Too late, you already di-" Arcs of electricity surged from the gap left by the raised lid, sending Noxic's broken body into a thrashing fit.

Jara shook her head as Saberizer looked up at her. "Is that capable of even hurting Noxic?"

"Yes, but it won't kill him," she said. "Still… this is his victory."

Typhus grumbled. "It's about the only way to win against Vex…"

The lightning ceased and without a word from Vexor as promised, the casket closed.

@@@@@

Standing on the front porch of Hillhurst, Drew leaned against the railing with Roland. Both watched the sun sink towards the crest of the hills straddling the valley Hillhurst Mansion sat in. While his best friend admired the once more untouched scenery restored by Flabber's magic, Drew's gaze was cast down at his right hand as he opened and closed it.

He was replaying the moment over and over in his mind: Himself watching Marco swing himself around to kick Saberizer, while the Mercenary Warrior's blade rose towards his heart. He didn't even remember when he started moving, but he was–reaching Saberizer and swinging the Stinger Blade into the falchion to knock it out of his hand before he could stab Marco.

It's like my body just knew what to do. He thought.

And that was the problem he had. While he was glad that he saved Marco's life, and there was no argument that his move was a decisive one…

Not even one of my friends almost dying was enough to trigger my power. His expression darkened with his thoughts. Unless my power is my body turning off my stupid brain so that it can get things done. That would be fair for someone like me, right?

He hissed through his teeth; a faint snarl directed at himself.

Stop, damn it.

Roland heard his sharp breath and turned to him. "You good?"

"I'm good," he replied, looking nowhere but at his right hand.

There was a crash and shouting behind them, inside the house. Looking back through the window, they both found Jo lifting Frankenbeans over her head, fire in her eyes as she faced off against Mums. The Mummy was scrambling back from her towards the stairs, hands raised in capitulation.

"H-hey! Watch where you're wavin' that thing!" He pleaded.

Frankenbeans, flailing, cried out. "No pet! No pet!"

"You're darn right no pet, I'm not gonna be anybody's, especially a bunch of moldy weirdos like you!" She yelled before throwing Frankenbeans onto Mums, both monsters hit the stairs and tumbled up them from the sheer force of her throw before landing in a heap at the top of the steps.

Dusting her hands off, Jo let out a harsh and loud snort. "Who else wants some?!"

Fangula, who'd been intending to swoop in for a bite, presumably with some gauche line about wanting more than some, quietly closed the door to the hallway to avoid being seen. Ghoulum, who wanted to test Jo's strength but liked the house in a non-destroyed state, said nothing.

"That's what I thought," Jo snapped with her nose upturned.

"Attagirl!" Flabber, lying on the bannister with his head propped up on one hand, pointed at her with the other. "Like I keep saying! Show them who's boss and they won't bother ya!"

"If they don't know, now they know!" Jo flexed her right arm, showing off a modest bicep that belied her unfathomable strength. Looking out the window, and noticing her brother and Roland, she waved to Flabber–who gave her finger guns and a kachow in reply–and headed out onto the porch.

Roland, an eyebrow raised, had to ask. "What was that about?"

Drew looked away from Jo and back out at the hills as she replied. "I was exploring the kitchen, seeing if there was anything salvageable back there. Then Frankenbeanie spotted me and decided that he wanted to try making me his pet again! Hmph! I started teaching him a lesson when Mums jumped in and well… you saw."

Roland chuckled. "You'd think the old bean would know better."

She joined the two at the railing and settled against it between the two. "He ain't all there, but that's okay. If I got these guns, I don't even have to transform to punk those punks."

Drew clenched his hand into a fist, and his entire forearm trembled.

Out of the corner of her eye Jo noticed her brother's clenched fist, but just as quickly the end of Star's Dimensional Scissors opened a hole in the air and then opened a portal into reality. Both she and Roland lit up as the portal spread to full size and Mabel poked her head out.

"Da-daa-da-daa~!" She cheered. "The Dimensional Scissors have been whitelisted!"

Jumping out of the portal, Mabel stomped down on one foot and held her arms out, like she were a bird or a plane. "Now when we want to drop by, we don't have to drop by!"

Jo made a face at Mabel's wordplay.

Flabber leaned into view in the window, holding a tablet. "Sure you don't want me to buy an airbag just in case?"

"Don't worry about throwing any money down the chute, Flabber."

"I don't mind making the leap for you guys at all!"

Jo groaned. "Please stop."

Misao strutted out, bouncing with each step, before she gave Mabel a playful hip-check, making her bounce too. "It was nothing, the Beetle Battle Base's systems are like the back of my hand, ja? I can make it do whatever I want now."

"Except make the internet speed up," Janna said as she emerged with Star.

Misao shrugged her shoulders. "That is a hardware limitation, not software."

"Or squishware," Mabel said as she picked up Misao and cuddled her, making her giggle.

"Squishware has no limitations!" She declared as she raised her fists high

Janna poked Misao's chest from her right. "It's definitely optimized."

Misao giggled, and even more when she noticed Drew and Roland averting their eyes from her chest with all their might.

Dipper and Marco were the last through the portal, joining everyone as the aperture disappeared. The former turned to Flabber and nodded to him in greeting. "From here on out, expect at least one of us to be here so we can keep on the lookout for the Magnavores."

"Flab out! It'll be nice to have you over without the house getting blown up, or at least the guys will like it!"

"No, we still hate all of you!" Mums yelled from where he was still beheaped with Frankenbeans.

Flabber mouthed "He doesn't mean that" to the kids.

"Yeah we do!" Flabber flinched under Mums' yell.

"On that note," Janna then spoke up. "I'm not gonna be out here Saturday."

Jo brightened a bit. "Really? You're not?"

Drew and Roland both rolled their eyes. Janna knew just like them why Jo would be so excited to hear that.

"Yeah, I'm crashing the Homecoming Dance," she revealed.

Misao gasped. "Really?!" She slipped from Mabel's arms and bounded over to Janna. "Do you need a dress? I can get you one very quick, ja?"

Janna wagged a hand dismissively. "No need, I know exactly what I'm wearing and what I'm doing."

She put her arm over Star's shoulders and gestured to her. "Since Brittney banned Star, it's my duty to be there."

Marco did a double take; this was the first time he'd heard about it thanks to his preoccupation with Trip's nonsense. "Wait, Brittney banned you?!"

"Right?" Star asked. "She said it was for the stuff during the football game."

"We already got punished for that, though," Marco said, reiterating what many held as true.

"That's why I'm going no matter what she says."

Janna nodded. "With you all the way"

Dipper scowled. "Get a picture of the look on her face when she sees you're there."

Star beamed to Dipper. "Oh, you know I will!"

Jo looked aside innocently enough. "I mean, pissing Brittney off is cool and all, but do we need more enemies?"

Bait taken; Star turned to Jo. "What she's doing isn't fair!"

"And petty," Janna added. "I mean, it's not even going into what she said when she banned her."

Jo nodded. "Uh huh? And need I remind you that there's people trying to jump Dipper on the behalf of the Vanderhoffs–who are unfair and petty."

She stopped. "Oh, and rich, like Brittney is. Pissing her off sounds like it'd make our lives easier."

Misao, who'd been winding up to pitch her own argument about Brittney's attitude, stopped when Jo's point got there first, and hit in a frustratingly similar spot. Janna herself narrowed her eyes at Jo, then looked at Star who wasn't about to have it at all.

"I'm not going to let Brittney get in my face and flex on me, because she can't get over one mistake!" She argued.

Drew and Roland both turned around completely to face the confrontation, both not surprised that Jo was having a go at Star, but surprised that Jo was spitting if not facts, then good points.

"One? She has every right to be pissed at you for all the crap you've done," Jo said.

"If I recall, you talked smack about her entire squad, then you went and caused the disaster at the game." She hummed in mock-contemplation. "What else? Oh yeah, you crashed her birthday party when you weren't invited and rolled the bus."

"Technically I did-" Marco began to say, only for Dipper to put a hand on his shoulder and advise him not to with a shake of his head.

The color began to slip from Star's face, as Jo folded her arms and continued her barrage.

"The way I see it? This is strike two. You crash her dance, and anything happens, I mean anything that ruins it? She'll come after you just as bad as Trip and Van go after Dipper. But because she's not half as dumb as those two? It'll be bad, we'll all get caught up in it, and it'll make fighting the Magnavores even harder."

The silence that followed for a moment after–the result of Dipper, Misao, Marco, Drew, and Roland digesting her point of view–was broken when Janna retorted. "Counterpoint: Brittney is a bitch and needs to be knocked down as many pegs as the Vanderhoffs."

"Yeah!" Star and Misao both said.

"Besides," the latter added with a firmness to her voice. "If a rich girl thinks her money will help her? She is badly mistaken."

Jo huffed. "Only an idiot fights a war on two fronts. Only the heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Idiots would keep opening new fronts we don't have to fight."

She gestured to Dipper. "We literally don't know when or if the next jerk who comes after Dipper will–and after the last guys tried to film themselves running him down and beating him, we don't know what they'll do."

Jo held out her arms. "Do we really want to throw more money onto that mess?"

Misao shut her mouth and looked down. Janna on the other hand, shrugged her shoulders and remained defiant. "I'm not afraid of anything Brittney can do to me, and I don't even have superpowers… yet. I'm going to the dance, so she knows that I go where I want, whether I'm wanted or not."

"And so am I," Star added.

Mabel had been quiet to this point, but finally she spoke. "Janna? I think you're right. You shouldn't let Brittney tell you where you belong."

"Exactly!" Janna said with Star in chorus.

"But Star…?"

Star stopped, and Jo looked at Mabel directly. She had the look of reluctant admission: her lips creased into a frown as she successfully wrestled with maintaining eye contact with the princess.

"You shouldn't go to the dance."

"Whoa…" Roland said quietly.

Misao almost looked like she'd been betrayed. "Mabel…"

Star was struck, full-on blindsided by Mabel. "… Huh?"

Dipper had caught her vibe when she pulled his proverbial lead earlier, so he knew what she was on. He looked back and forth between her and Star as she continued.

"It's not because we should be afraid of what Brittney might do… it's more…" She took a deep breath. "… Brittney's not wrong for kicking you out of the school stuff."

Star blinked, unable to process that. "Wh-what? She-but-she!"

Marco wasn't quite buying that either. "We already apologized and worked off what happened during Spirit Week!"

Now that she said it, Mabel reaffirmed her position with more confidence. "Yeah, that's the school though. Has anyone apologized to Brittney… for anything?"

Marco opened his mouth to reply, then stopped. "… Oh."

Star appeared to wilt on the spot, as Mabel's words struck deeper than Jo's spiteful assaults could only think to. Looking around, and realizing she was now the center of everyone's attention, Star slowly wound back up.

"… Then… I'll apologize to her!" She quickly said, to bounce back with as much force as she could.

Marco agreed, as Mabel brightened. "Couldn't hurt."

"Yep, I'll do it first thing tomorrow!"

Janna rolled her eyes, but Misao nodded in agreement. "That would be best."

Star was beaming again, as she pumped a fist. "Then Brittney will let me go to the dance! Problem solved and drama squashed!"

And just like that, Mabel's disappointment returned.

Janna thought differently. "Don't even apologize, all she'll do is throw it in your face."

Roland spoke up. "Yeah, but that doesn't mean she shouldn't try, and mean it."

"I swear I'll mean it!" Star insisted with a dismissive wave. "I'll apologize and I'll even give her a gift to show how sorry I am! What does Brittney like?"

Janna snorted. "Any sort of power and influence that makes up for her lack of personality."

"I can't get her that, but she'll get the next best thing!" Star declared.

"People to mock in public so she can validate herself?" Janna asked.

"It'll be even better than that!" Star promised as Misao joined Mabel's side.

Dipper glanced at his sister, she looked like she'd seen this all before, intimately so. He understood it perfectly, having seen what she'd seen himself, with almost the same familiarity.

"If you're gonna apologize, I'll back you up!" Mabel promised, almost despite herself.

It was as if she'd forgotten that she'd been cornered by Mabel, as Star received her validation. "Just you watch, Mabel! By the end of the weekend, Brittney and I will be BFFs!"

"Still saying," Janna said, "Don't even bother."

Jo hadn't expected the leader of the Teen Girl Squad to take her side, let alone bring up stuff that she hadn't even considered. She wasn't going to question it though, clocks were right twice a day, and that's all she needed to have her day made. "Well, if that's settled, how about we end our day and go home?"

She turned to Janna. "If you're still going to the dance."

"I have my principles," Janna assured her.

"Then it'll just be Marco, Dipper and I up here at the house."

Flabber pouted. "Aw, the guys love having Janna around."

"NO WE DON'T-" Mums stopped mid-yell. "Wait, Janna's not coming up Saturday?"

"Nah!" Flabber called back.

Mums was angrier than ever. "Can't have crap in Echo Creek!"

"Love you guys," Janna replied, her tone dry as the dead vineyard surrounding Hillhurst.

Dipper rubbed the back of his neck. "Yeah, it'll be just the three of us, I guess."

As Jo tried to not give away her internal preening, Roland shook his head at Drew. Sharing his best friend's annoyance at Jo's antics, Drew joined Roland in the gesture and looked down at his hand again–though briefly.

He had a lot to think about, and he'd rather subject himself to his brain, than dump it on anyone else.

= - = 4-7 = - =

The Kids Are Alright.
 
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Volume 4 END: Escapism
Well...

= - = 4-8 = - =

|Escapism|

"I bet it's something cool, like flight or turning invisible."

Jo said it without prompt or any kind of warning, alerting Drew to a conversation he didn't realize they were having until she spoke. They were back in town, walking down the sidewalk into the cul-de-sac of clay-tile roofed houses decorated with palm trees they called home. The sun was almost halfway sunk into the horizon and the streetlights were just beginning to turn on, but younger kids were still outside using up every second of daylight left.

Drew looked at her as she stretched her arms with her fingers interlaced and palms outward. She was in a good mood, having a lot to look forward to this weekend.

"What do you think?" she asked.

He felt his tension ease, "Flight would be cool, but wouldn't it be redundant?"

Jo shrugged her shoulders after dropping her hands to her sides. "I guess it would, invisibility though?"

Drew tilted his head from side to side as he mulled it over. "Yeah, that would be cool to have. Being able to sneak up on Jara, or Typhus? Maybe even Vexor."

"What about Noxic?" Jo asked as she broke into a little grin.

Drew managed a smile too. "What about Noxic?"

Jo chuckled as they turned and walked up the driveway. "Whatever it is it's gonna be cool, all right?"

He smiled a little more. "Thanks…"

The two entered their home, and barely had stepped past the doorway into the living room when they heard their father's voice. "I got a call from Mr. Pines. You two were helping him move furniture?"

Both turned to face their father, seated on a recliner, reading the screen of a tablet computer. He looked out the corner of his eye at them both.

"Yeah," Drew answered. "He's hosting a foreign exchange student, and her belongings arrived today. Roland helped too."

Mr. McCormick looked down at his tablet again as Drew spoke. "You're telling me you skipped school for that…"

Jo spoke up. "Performing acts of community service and charity is a valid reason to skip school. Especially if it's helping the elderly."

He set down his tablet. "I know that. This is just the second time you've skipped class to 'help out the elderly.' And I'm wondering if that's really what's going on."

Drew tried not to get defensive. "If you're so uncertain, talk to Mr. Pines and Nano."

"No, I'd rather not. I'd rather you not skip school. Not for assisting the elderly, especially if it's for Sherman Pines or Nano."

Jo wasn't having that. "Why?"

"Because Sherman's grandson punched out a kid in Nano's shop, right in front of the both of them, and no one's thought to do anything about it."

Jo lit right up. "Dipper punched him out because he was harassing Heather and Drew!"

Mr. McCormick leveled a withering stare at his son. "… He was harassing you?"

"Uhh… yeah, that's what Trip does. He messes with me all the time."

Mr. McCormick slowly shook his head, his blunt scowl shifting to a sneer of disgust before he spoke. "You're telling me that happened because you don't stand up for yourself."

"It's not his fault," Jo said.

Their father thought otherwise. "No, it is his fault." He singled out his son. "It is your fault. You're obsessed with those damn comic books and your superheroes, and you don't know how to actually stand up for yourself."

He shook his hand at Drew. "Now people are getting beaten up in broad daylight because of you."

"That's not even fair and you know it! You don't even know how messed up Trip and his brother are!" Drew shouted.

"I don't need to; I don't care whatever crap some rich punks get up to. They're not my sons, you are."

Drew rolled his eyes. "Then what, am I supposed to punch Trip out myself?!"

Mr. McCormick stopped and weighed on that. "I want you to start being a man. You're too old to be letting people solve your problems or cover for you when you mess up. Accept responsibility for your actions for once!"

Jo threw up her hands. "I'm gonna go do my homework!"

She turned and stormed up the stairs, leaving her older brother to stand alone in the face of their father's ire. Taking a deep breath, Drew nodded.

"Yeah, I can take responsibility."

"Then you're grounded for skipping school and making Jo do it with you. Twice."

Drew recoiled. "What?"

"You just said you were going to take responsibility. Are you going to walk that back now?"

"But I have stuff to do! I'm going to the dance on Saturday!"

His father shook his head. "No, you're not. Even if you weren't grounded, you're not. We both know that about you."

He adjusted his glasses again, this time with his ring finger, then pointed up the stairs. "You'll be off the hook Monday. Now go to your room."

Frozen for an instant, Drew let out a frustrated growl and all but sprinted up the stairs. Jo was standing just outside his door, looking down the stairs.

"The absolute gall! What's up his butt today?!" She whispered.

Drew looked back. "It could be half of LA for all I care. He's not stopping me from going out if the Magnavores attack and you guys need me."

Jo nodded in agreement. "I've got your back. I'll even help you sneak out so you can go to the dance if you want."

That took Drew aback some. "… Thanks…"

Looking down the stairs again, Jo shook her head. "Don't let him get under your skin, that's what he wants."

Drew didn't need to be reminded. "I'll just do what I always do."

At that, Jo sighed. "And I do not begrudge you for it."

Then she remembered and lowered her voice even more. "Don't forget to delete your messages for when he remembers he didn't take your phone."

"I swear, once I get enough cash I'm buying a burner," he muttered as he headed to his room.

Going into his room and shutting it behind him, he dropped onto his bed. After erasing his group chat messages, he started a podcast and flopped onto his back, letting his phone drop to his side.

"Hey guys, welcome to the next episode of Big Bad Beetle Bros podcast, where we talk about everything Beetleborgs. We got an update about the new director for the Big Bad Beetleborgs Movie, and the reshoots for the new actor of G-Stag, Ace Haley."

He looked around his room, on the walls were posters of the Beetleborgs, some carefully taped to the drywall while others were framed. On his desk, surrounding his own tablet, were neatly ordered comics, data books, and other miscellaneous literature about his favorite heroes. On the dresser across from his bed and the shelves next to his shallow closet were figurines and model kits of everything Beetleborgs, some boxed up to protect their value and others accurately posed.

"Reddles and Stags, if you haven't already heard? The man himself Robert Rodriguez, is going to be taking up the helm after Jerry Bruckheimer gave up on the production citing mental health–only to immediately sign on for the Kim Possible biopic."

Drew's gaze moved across the room, over every piece of Beetleborgs memorabilia and material satisfaction. Things he bought with his own hard-earned money or were gifted to him by Jo, Roland, and Nano.

His father was right about one thing, and this was all that he would give him: he was obsessed with comic books and superheroes. They were what got him a friend like Roland, what he and his sister bonded over, and the only thing he could talk to Heather about without tying his tongue into knots and looking like an idiot. Thanks to comic books, he had all the things in life that made him happy.

At least… until he wished to become his heroes.

"The crazy part about this is, Rodriguez has worked with each of the Beetleborg actors, Lucas Lee, Cindy MacDougal, and Ace Haley in three different film projects. It's like everything is coming together perfectly. Three different actors from three different roles, assembling to create a masterpiece."

Drew turned off the podcast and looked specifically at a poster of the Blue Stingerborg posing shoulder to shoulder with the hero underneath, Blue Beet. He had once thought about dyeing his hair blue, to be just like him… but was pretty sure his dad would make him shave it off even if it could be washed out.

Now he was more like him than he ever wanted.

He lifted his right hand up and held it above his face. The armor, the power, he was given everything Blue Beet had… even his enemies.

He let his hand fall onto his face with a soft clap.

Take responsibility? If he only knew what I was taking responsibility for. He has no idea what's my fault.

= - = 4-8 = - =

Not all of them.
 
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It really says some shit that Vexor makes a better dad to the Magnavores when he's a fucking supervillain just using them as tools, than Mr. McCormick does to his actual offspring.
 
Volume 5: Queen B
Hello everyone, we're back for more


= - = 5-1 = - =


|Queen B|

Like any other day, Jackie Lynn Thomas was boarding to school, the drone of hard polyurethane wheels against the pavement interrupted "ka-kunks" that followed her traversing the cracks in the street and in the sidewalk. As she approached the school looking for Janna, she did a double-take and coasted to a halt.

She stared, with mouth agape. The entire front of the school was decorated not in Echo Creek's oranges, but the purples, pinks, and blues that Brittney was commonly associated with. Everything from balloons to banners, to streamers, to lights and even what looked like holograms of cheerleaders and football players decorated the street-facing buildings of the campus. On the School's Sign, the words "Spirit Week By Wong" was written in place of the usual "Go Opossums!"

It was hard to look at, even for someone laid-back like her. "Dude…"

"I know, right? This is aggressively dumb."

Jackie looked and found Janna leaning against Otis the Opossum. Kicking up her board, she strode over and joined her side, brushing arms with her.

"Still down to dance?"

Janna coiled her arm Jackie's, inviting her to lean into her shoulder. "Maliciously."

"Cool, I got something for you."

As she leaned against Janna, Jackie produced a pair of purple bracelets that were wider around one half than the other. On the wide half "Spirit Week by Wong" was etched into it. Staring at it uncomprehending for all of an instant, Janna recognized what they were and she rolled her eyes.

"Really?"

"Yeah, this is how Brittney's making sure the people she wants go to the dance." Jackie offered one of them to Janna. "Chantal and I are cool, though, so I grabbed extra from her."

Taking the wristband and pocketing it, Janna nodded in praise to Jackie. "Good looking out, I could've grabbed one though."

Jackie chuckled. "At least I saved you a lockpick."

Taking that into consideration, Janna agreed. She really didn't want to exert any more effort than she wanted in jamming someone's face in their own crap. Brittney wasn't even at the top of her list of people harshing on her vibe, anyway.

"Has anyone checked on Brittney lately? Is she doing okay?"

Both girls looked to see Dipper, Mabel, and Misao, who had just been dropped off by Shermie. They were looking at the redecorated School–Mabel was cringing at the poor decor choices, Misao was outright disgusted by the flagrant ego on display, and Dipper had asked aloud what everyone was thinking.

Janna responded. "On a scale of one to ten: Fifty-one-fifty."

Jackie nearly burst into laughter, but she held it in as a throaty chuckle while she appraised Dipper up close and in-person for the first time. With the gulf of academia separating them, and having as high an opinion of Mabel as she did, she had been eager to have even a few moments' time with the other Pines twin. Their shortstack roommate and companion, too.

"Janna!" Mabel greeted as she and Misao led the way over to them. "And Jackie, too!"

"Morning, party girls," Jackie greeted.

"Hallo!" Misao chimed back. "Jackie Lynn Thomas, I am presuming?"

"Mmhm, and you're Faithful Pony, right?"

Misao beamed from being recognized. "Ja, I hope you've been keeping your six o'clock clear~!"

Jackie was too chill to fangirl. "You are twenty percent cooler in person."

Misao cupped her cheeks and beamed.

She looked back to the Twins, inwardly appreciating their height, and her attention drifted to Dipper. "And you're Dipper…"

Her smile grew a little. "… Hey"

Janna glanced out the corner of her eye at Jackie, looked at Dipper, danced her attention back and forth between the two, and all the malice she had had simmering since yesterday became a superheated geyser erupting taller than the Empire State Building.

Dipper, to his credit, didn't ogle the most popular girl at school even as he appreciated why she'd be revered as such. "Hey, yeah, that's me. Dipper, Mabel's brother…"

Mabel gently elbowed his side. "Yep, my handsome brainiac of a brother who can't stay out of trouble. He's single, too."

Dipper shot her a look. "Mabel, knock it off…"

Jackie let out a chuckle and brought her skateboard in front of her to rest it on her knees as she leaned over some. "But you are single?"

Dipper sensed that playfulness in her voice like a shark smelled blood. With a devil may care smile, he stepped up with a lot more confidence radiating from him. "You looking? Because if you're down…"

Jackie blurted out another laugh, but wasn't at all quick to walk back her shot. She held her board behind her back and looked aside as her face warmed up. "Yo stop… I might just say yeah…"

Misao nodded to Jackie. "I too have learned not to flirt carelessly with Dipper."

His smirk sharpened into something that even Janna now looked at with a bit of weakness. "You're all more than welcome to take a swing. But you ladies will knock it out of the park."

It had Jackie covering her mouth to stop her chuckling. "Dude, I said stop~!"

Mabel palmed Dipper's face. "Please, Casabrova, you promised to use your powers for good."

"Says the girl trying to hook me up." He gestured to Mabel. "Best wingman in the world, but does not know when to stop."

Jackie could tell she was going to have a great time. "I mean, if she works is that a bad thing?"

Janna took a moment to scan the street, looking first up towards where the buses parked to disembark. Sure enough she found Van Vanderhoff, standing at the corner of the school in the direction where faculty and students parked their cars–his face turning purple with rage and his fists tightly clenched.

The lingering smile curled to something cruel even for her, as she disregarded Van's existence from there.

"I'm of the opinion," she said, "That if you're into someone and they're into you, just go for it."

Dipper's eyebrows rose, wondering what she was getting at. "If only it could be that simple."

"It totally could, people just complicate things on purpose like they're obligated to."

Misao caught that, and hummed as she too wondered what Janna was implying.

Jackie smiled, agreeing with Janna with little more than a nod. "Anyway, we gotta talk about the dance and how things are gonna go, girls."

"The only way I see it going is crazy~!" Mabel said.

"Not if Brittney has her way."

To illustrate the point, Janna produced the bracelet Jackie gave her. The twins and Misao all recognized it.

"Admission Bracelets? For a school dance?!" Dipper asked.

Misao scowled. "That is the kind of thing for concerts or discotheques."

Janna pointed out the heavily decorated school. "And exclusive parties held by stuck up bitches with unwarranted egos."

Mabel let out a sigh, closed her eyes, and braced herself. "Don't you guys worry about Brittney, okay? Star and I, we'll get this all sorted out and it'll be good."

The look Misao gave Mabel screamed doubt, but she otherwise held her tongue.

"Do what you want." Janna left it at that. She already made her argument.

"If it doesn't work," Jackie dug into her pants pocket and pulled out a few more Admission Bracelets. "We're still on to crash the party."

Mabel was optimistic. "There won't be any need."

Dipper not so much, as he looked again at the school's decor. "Yeah, I'm sure she's being completely rational and not letting the power go to her head."

@@@@@

With the first bell minutes away, Drew and Jo met with Roland at their lockers just outside the school. Having been told of Drew's punishment, their mutual friend leaned with his back against his locker with his arms folded and an annoyed grimace.

"The heck is wrong with your Dad?" He asked, all but seething.

"It's just how he is," Jo said with her hands in the pockets of her overalls and her head turned away.

"Don't make excuses for him, he's treating your brother like Trip messing with him is his fault."

He looked from her to Drew. "It's only a matter of time before he tries to keep you from hanging out with us."

"And he's not going to," Drew replied, "I'm sneaking out for the dance and any time the Magnavores show up. I don't care what he does."

He thumped his balled fist against the locker. "This is too important for me to be worrying about being grounded, or stupid stuff like that. It's my responsibility."

"Basically," Jo agreed.

Roland gave Drew a light punch in the shoulder. "Just be careful, aight?"

There was no mistaking that under Drew's defiance, something was eating at him, just like it had been yesterday when they stood on the porch. Roland gave Drew's shoulder a squeeze.

"You good?"

Drew hesitated, then returned a slow nod.

Roland narrowed his eyes, his gaze boring into Drew for a moment before he relented. "Aight, but if something's bothering you, talk to me."

"I will," he promised.

"Drew!" Heather called as she trotted into the locker area from the school's parking lot. She waved at him, Jo, and Roland. "Hey guys!"

Drew lit up. "Heather, h-hey!"

The abrupt shift in Drew's mood made Roland recoil from him. Jo let out an exasperated breath so hard her lungs could've popped out of her mouth and dangled on the end of her tongue.

"What's up?" Drew asked, stepping up to Heather to deliberately avoid his sister and basically a brother. "How are you this morning?"

"Well, my family decided they're gonna drive to Tahoe, which means I'm leaving tomorrow," she explained. "So, my weekend just got worse."

Jo whispered to Roland out the corner of her mouth. "How's going to Tahoe sooner a bad thing?"

"Going cool places is all about who you go with," he replied. "I mean, would you like to drive up to Tahoe with the 'Teen Girl Squad?'"

Jo visibly cringed at the thought.

"That sucks," Drew said.

"I was thinking then," Heather went on, "That since you're such an expert at skipping class lately, that you could show me the ropes during lunch."

Drew's cheeks reddened. "An expert?! I'm not…! I mean…! I was helping the elderly!"

Heather giggled, then brought a finger to her chin and looked away. "And here I brought the Beetleborgs Halloween Specials from '98 to 2011 for us to read. I guess I'm gonna have to enjoy them alone at Britta's."

That got Drew's attention, and he smiled a bit. "How dare you tempt me with your collection of rares, contributing to the delinquency of a minor?"

Heather smirked and gestured to herself. "What can I say? I'm a bad guy."

Jo yanked Drew back by his shirt and stepped up. "I'll go!"

Heather wagged a finger at her. "Ah-ah-ah! Sorry, I want it to be me and Drew."

Jo stepped back and shoved Drew forward, he stopped himself barely from Heather. "If you don't take this offer right now, I'll lose all respect for you and punch you."

Drew and Heather were close enough to touch noses when she pulled away, her face coloring like his. They both shuffled back from one another and she reached up to toy with her bangs.

"So…" she said with a jumpy giggle. "You wanna go…?"

Drew sputtered. "Y-yes! Absolutely! We can swing by Zoom and pick up my number one so you can read it again."

Heather beamed. "I'd really like that. See you at lunch?"

"Y-yeah!" Drew replied, before he gestured towards the door into the school. "W-walk to class?"

Heather nodded, and the two bade their farewells to Jo and Roland before going into the building.

Jo and Roland both watched them go in silence, before the latter spoke. "She is so good for him."

"Right?" the former asked. "He completely forgot about Dad being a jerk and his superpowers not kicking in yet."

Roland looked down at her. "Huh, I figured that's what it was."

Jo turned to him. "I can't blame him for being frustrated. He should've exploded yesterday because of Dad's BS."

She looked back the way Drew went with Heather. "But at the same time… I'm glad he didn't."

"Why?"

She paused. "Real talk?"

Roland had an inkling of what she was going to say, but before she could say a word, a voice rang out.

"Roland Williams!"

It was a voice Roland and Jo didn't want to hear. Turning around, they found not only Brittney Wong, but half the Spirit Week Inquisition. Chantal, a caucasian girl with short hair in a bob cut and an entirely no-nonsense expression, Megan Gandlym, a wide-eyed african-american girl with long straight hair, and finally Sabrina Backintosh, a caucasian girl far too timid-looking to be walking with a pack of wolves like this.

Jo couldn't stand the Teen Girl Squad that she had to deal with. "I'm out."

She retreated quickly, leaving him in the clutches of the scourge. Resigned to his fate, he faced them with head held high.

"Can I help you, ladies?" He knew exactly why he was being sought out during class change.

Brittney got right up in his face. "Don't even think about it."

"About what?" He asked with a sweet, innocent smile.

She poked his chest. "Pulling some stupid prank at my dance! The only reason I'm not flat out banning you is because of who your Grandma is, but if I see so much as a super soaker, a pillow, or a single mariachi, not only are you out of the dance, I will make sure you don't set foot in school for a week! Do I make myself clear?"

Roland took a step back from Brittney's prodding finger. "I promise I won't do any of that old stuff."

Let it be said, Brittney Wong was not a dullard. "There won't be any new stuff either! In fact, I know that you don't even have a date, so if you show up for the dance without one I'll know you're up to no good."

Chantal and Megan both nodded in agreement, and Roland bravely resisted rolling his eyes. "Okay you're right. I don't have a date yet."

He turned aside, letting out a sigh. "I was going to ask the person I wanted to go with today, but not like this."

Brittney recoiled from Roland, like he'd just gone radioactive. Chantal and Megan on the other hand, reacted with much more visible interest as Roland held out his open palms, and then rolled up the sleeves to the white long-sleeve shirt he wore under a green tee today. With a quick flip of his wrist and a prodigious amount of superspeed, he produced a bouquet of flowers–red and yellow roses with a white ribbon tying them together.

In a school well-desensitized to Star Butterfly's magic, the ol' razzle dazzle and sleight-of-hand still did the trick. Especially when all it resulted in a lovely bunch of flowers and not screaming monsters or burning rainbows.

Roland was on the other side of Brittney before she even realized it, stepping up to Megan, flashing her a debonair smile that gleamed in the fluorescent lights of the hallway. "If you would do the honor of joining me for the homecoming dance, I promise to make it a magical evening."

Megan looked between him and his flowers, to say she was impressed would be an insult. "Daaaaang."

She smiled and took the roses. "I'll see you at the dance, player."

Roland winked at Megan, then proceeded to smoothly pop and lock his way around Brittney and stopped right where he started in the confrontation.

"See? I got my date."

He turned around and busted a quick move the King of Pop would judge adequate to turn an about-face, then looked back at Brittney.

"I'll see you Saturday."

As she stood there, mouth agape, he stalked off with a swagger.

She looked at Megan. "You are not going with him to the dance."

Megan clutched the roses to her chest and smelled them. "I am so going with him to the dance."

Brittney turned her back to her hench cheerleader and whipped her hair. "Fine, but if he pulls some stupid prank and it ruins my dance you're going on flyer duty."

Megan looked at Sabrina, who was normally the one the Cheer squad threw into the air, and let out a concerned hum.

Entering the school, Roland pulled out his phone and began texting as he headed to his class.

Roland said:
Okay so Drew's phone is gone but he cleared his msgs.

Mabel said:
Mabel here! We should get him a burner!

Mabel said:
Misao says she can buy him one!

Janna Banana said:
Don't worry I got this.

Marco said:
It better not b stolen.

Janna Banana said:
Now Mr. Diaz who do you take me for, a thief? :smiling_imp:

= - = 5-1 = - =

A new day, a new adventure.
 
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The Drew and Heather scenes give me life.
 
Repudiation
The Adventure continues.

= - = 5-2 = - =

|Repudiation|

Walking down an alley between two businesses located nearby Echo Creek Cemetery, Jara stopped well short of emerging onto the sidewalk, then turned to face Saberizer, who stood in silence with his hand on the hilt of his sheathed falchion. In her hand she held yet another Beetleborgs comic, this one featuring the Red Striker A.V. cutting through the blue sky above a sea of clouds, with a swarm of Jet Fighters in pursuit, firing at it and the reader.

"It is a simple plan, but it will change things," she said.

Saberizer did not hesitate to respond. "I am ready to take responsibility for what comes next."

Jara gave Saberizer a short nod, and turned back towards the alleyway as she held up the comic.

"Then go, bring me back as many of those insect children as you can."

His grip on the hilt of his sword tightening, Saberizer began walking forward. As he reached Jara to pass her, he spoke.

"They will be laid out before your feet, on this I swear."

There was an undercurrent of anxiety that was worse than usual in the Cafeteria. It, like the rest of the school, was draped from almost floor to ceiling in Brittney's color palette and imagery of herself ranging from banners with her face on them to flattering posters of herself at nearly every corner and on every table. Even looking outside, one could see a blimp advertising "Spirit Week by Wong" as it circled overhead, reminding students that this was an event to be remembered, and to be part of.

Dipper wasn't having any of this. "This is stupid. I'm going to skip for the rest of the week if it's going to be like this every day."

He and Marco were sitting together at their table, watching as students lined up not for lunch, but to a table where Brittney and several of her cheerleaders sat, handing out bracelets. It was a mixmash of students from all walks of social life, and as they came up to the table one by one, it was pretty obvious where the anxiety in the air was coming from.

Brittney, sitting with a bowl full of bracelets, looked up to an overweight male student nervously gesturing towards one of the bracelets. "What?"

The student cleared his throat, dusted off his blue sweater, and smoothed out his short brown hair. "I was… I was hoping that I'd get a bracelet to, you know… go to the rally, and the game, and the dance…?"

Brittney looked him over and grimaced in disgust. "Uh, no. You can go to the gym to get in shape, and maybe to the courthouse to do something about your name, Moobs."

The boy sagged. "But Moobs is my nickname…"

"And you wonder why you're not invited." Brittney pointed to her right. "Move, loser."

Head hung low, the young man walked away and went to his seat. Dipper and Marco watched him walk past, then turned to each other.

Dipper gripped the table. "I want to throw her in the garbage."

"We're doing ourselves favors by not bothering with this stuff."

Letting go of the edge, Dipper folded his hands in front of him and leaned forward slightly. "I really shouldn't be surprised. I've seen this way too much, but it's aggravating every time."

He looked at Marco. "I would just like to get to the part where she gets stuffed by karma sooner than never."

"Brittney will never be the popular girl, just the rich one, so take that as solace."

As if on cue, Jackie Lynn Thomas reached the table, all bright eyes and cool smiles. "Hey Dipper, hey Marco."

Marco nearly jumped from his seat. "J-J-J-Jackie, hey!"

His reaction prompted a concerned look from Dipper that faded quickly with understanding.

"Mind if I join you?" Before either could answer, Jackie made herself right at home, squeezing her way onto the bench right between Dipper and Marco. "Where's Misao?"

Marco's face colored a little as Jackie shimmied between them. Dipper just gave her a passing look as he replied. "She went to sit outside with Janna, she didn't have an appetite after staring at this stuff all day."

Both boys then noticed her tray, and noticed that on her tray was definitely not school fare–lobster tail, ribeye steak, and elote–street corn on the cob slathered in mayo sauce, chili powder, and cheese.

Marco did a double-take. "Uhh.. where'd you get that?"

"You haven't gone up yet? Guys who get bracelets get to have this for lunch."

Dipper rolled his eyes. "Yeah, well, I'm not a 'bracelet wearer' so."

Marco looked with some envy at Jackie's plate. "I don't think I'd get a bracelet if I tried."

Jackie then pushed her tray out to offer them. "Then help yourself, guys. I can just go grab more."

Without hesitating, Marco took the elote. "Wow, thanks, Jackie."

Dipper abstained. "I appreciate it, but no thanks."

In line for lunch, Jo slammed her hands on the countertop. "What do you mean I can't have the good stuff?!"

The chef behind the counter shook his head. "Restaurant food is only for students that have a Spirit Week by Wong Bracelet, continue down to the normal line."

Jo looked down the line and made a face. "We're having vegetarian meatloaf, come on!"

The chef was unmoved by her plea. "You can pay twenty-five dollars for a plate if you don't have a bracelet."

"Screw that and you!" She looked at Roland, who was standing just behind her in line. "And don't you dare get food from these bougie douches!"

Roland shrugged his shoulders. "I like vegetarian meatloaf."

Jo sneered at him. "I do not know how I'm going to get through the rest of the week."

"You could always use Drew's bracelet."

She rolled her eyes. "Oh yeah, just what I need. Brittney Wong's symbol of division and social stratification."

Roland quirked an eyebrow. "Then why get mad?"

"Because it's still crap, and I reserve the right to be pissed off at all of it."

Roland pondered it. "There are worse things to be hostile about–at least you have a good reason this time."

Jo looked back as she was served her tray of vegetarian meatloaf, quinoa, and carrots. "Excuse you?"

"You know what I'm talking about."

"No, I don't-"

Jo stopped in her tracks, her tray slipping from her hands and to the floor with a splat. Roland almost walked into her back. "Whoa, Jo are you okay-"

Jo turned and stormed off out of the cafeteria, leaving him baffled until he saw Jackie sitting hip to hip with Dipper and Marco, the only three at a table that seated nine. Making matters better, she was rather obviously leaning into the former as they watched Brittney deal with a frizzy-haired girl with glasses approaching her for a bracelet.

"Ashlyn, right? Get some Lasik done and do something about that mess on your head and I'll think about letting you have a bracelet."

She pointed to her right. "Go."

"Brittney's the worst," Dipper proclaimed.

"You're a good man, Pines," Jackie complimented.

Marco lowered the already half-eaten corn cob from his lips. "What about the Vanderhoffs?"

"They're jackasses and everyone knows it," Dipper said, "These guys are lining up knowing that Brittney's gonna dump all over them for the slim chance she won't."

He gestured then to the Cafeteria's decorations. "Then there's the Northwest levels of self-absorption that's hurting my eyes looking at it."

He looked from Marco and Jackie to the line again, and specifically at the person next up in it to face Brittney's scrutiny. "And the worst part about it is we keep dealing with it."

Brittney looked at the bracelet, then at the young man in front of her. Peter, from Marco's Karate class. Looking back and forth between the blonde boy and her bracelet, she handed it to him. "Here you go, bring your A-Game."

This prompted a protest from the dejected Ashlyn. "B-but Peter's got glasses, too!"

Brittney whirled on the girl. "HE LOOKS GOOD IN THEM!"

Peter, ever stoic, turned and walked away.

Marco frowned around his elote. "Now you got me wanting to throw her in the garbage."

With an angry huff, Brittney turned to face the next person in line. "Okay, who's ne-"

She stopped and tensed up. Standing before her, beaming a bright smile and a charismatic aura, was Mabel.

"Hey, Brittney~!" Mabel sang before she took her seat at the table rather than pensively waiting for judgment. "It sucks that we don't have any classes together, I've been here for literal weeks now and I haven't had a chance to talk to you!"

Now, Dipper, Marco, and Jackie were all watching raptly–none noticing Peter leading the weeping Ashlyn towards the lunch line while holding the bracelet up to her for emphasis.

Chantal and Sabrina, seated on Brittney's flanks, noted her tension. The former spoke up. "So, what? Do you want a bracelet or what?"

"Well, duh~!" Mabel sang.

Brittney snapped out of her tension and tossed her one. "Take it and get out of the way, you're holding up the line!"

Mabel stopped her. "But I want to chat for a bit, too! We share so much in common! You're a girl, I'm a girl, you're cheerleaders, I was cheerleader for the Piedmont High Highlanders…"

Sabrina gasped like she'd seen a ghost. Chantal went wide-eyed like she was in the presence of a God, and even Brittney's ever-present glower vanished in lieu of gobsmacked disbelief.

"… No way, you're that Mabel Pines? National Champion Mabel Pines?!" Chantal demanded.

Mabel smirked and produced out of thin air a large sticker-covered scrapbook.

Over at her table, Jackie looked at Dipper. "I can totally get Mabel being a cheerleader."

Dipper relaxed a bit. "Not just a cheerleader, one of the best."

As Sabrina, Chantal, and some of the other students in lie began crowding around, Mabel flipped through the scrapbook, passing pages filled with of pictures and drawings of herself, Dipper, and things that amused her (such as embarrassing pictures of Dipper) until she came to a page "Cheer Squad!" written in glitter glue.

Under the words was a picture of Mabel in the Purple and White Piedmont High School Cheer Squad Uniform. Brittney stared at the picture of Mabel, then at the girl herself. The same statuesque, pretty girl was in the photo–posed in a line with nine other stand-out girls on the sidelines of a High School Football Game.

"Mabel Pines, Captain, Highlanders Cheerleaders 2013," Brittney said like she was having a hard time digesting the words.

"Performing on that level in sophomore year?" Sabrina asked with her timid voice.

"I'm that good," Mabel boasted as she began flipping through the scrapbook. "Here we are at halftime at a Football Game–we won 30 to nothing. Here we are Cheering for Basketball–won 80 to nothing. This is us cheering during exams–we got kicked out of the building for that. Then there's us cheering for the rowing team-"

Chantal's mouth fell agape. "An Awesome on a speedboat? You're crazy!"

Mabel placed a hand on her chest. "My proudest moment."

She scowled and looked to the side. "The Coast Guard didn't think so–the philistines."

"We could never do anything like that," Sabrina admitted. "Some of us don't have… the pom-poms…"

Mabel grinned. "Of course you do! You can do whatever you want if you believe!"

Brittney looked at Sabrina. "Yeah, Sabrina, I've been trying to tell you."

Mabel jumped right on that. "Sounds like your Captain thinks you've got moves, girl."

Sabrina blushed under the scrutiny of her captain and a literal champion. "I mean, Brittney says I'm the best flyer she's ever seen… I… I just have trouble with the landing…"

Brittney had a nastier look than usual at her underling's admission. "That wasn't your fault and you know it!"

"That's right. Cheerleaders fall and hit the ground all the time. You gotta get back on your feet, and the whole point of a squad is to lift you up–whether it's into the air or off the ground!"

Sabrina relaxed, unable to feel anxious or self-defeating in the presence of Mabel's charm.

Brittney folded her arms. "It's nice that someone gets what being a cheerleader is about."

Marco was back to nibbling on his corn. "Mabel is serious about being friends with Brittney, isn't she?"

"If she says she's going to befriend someone, she's either going to make a friend or a mortal enemy."

Jackie looked at Dipper. "So what's the record on that?"

Mabel rested an arm on her book and leaned forward. "Well you know, National Champion and all that."

Chantal nudged Brittney. "Hey, imagine what we could do with her in the squad?"

As Brittney turned her head to breath fire on Chantal's face, Mabel held up a hand. "Whoa, hold up buttercup, I have way too much going on so I can't really be cheerleading this year. All my after school hours are like super booked."

Brittney stopped. She had been about to make a sharp warning about the team being full–complete with the stark implication that she would not be eclipsed by a national champion while the squad under her had only one technical win under their belt. Mabel hurriedly killing the idea in the crib threw her off.

"… You don't want to be a cheerleader?" She asked her, suspicious.

"Nope!" Mabel happily chimed. "But~ if you like, I can give you tapes of my routines, help you make up new routines, and maybe swing by and drop some pointers if I'm free. After all, I'm a student here now, and i want my school and my cheerleaders to be the best. Go Opossums!"

Chantal cocked her head to one side, surprised all over again. "Dude… Brittney?"

"That's… that's so generous!" Sabrina said. "If we had that kind of help, we'd be…!"

Chantal flat out admitted it. "We wouldn't suck like we do now, that's for sure."

Brittney narrowed her eyes. It was really generous, too generous for her blood. "Okay then, what do you want?"

Mabel, sunshine and rainbows, replied. "I want to be friends."

"No," Brittney said, "You want something… and since I know what class you're in, I think I know what that is."

She leaned to her left and looked down the line. Sure enough, there was a blue-eyed blonde boy wearing blue jeans, a t-shirt, a red baseball cap and a green sweater tied around his hips. A foolproof disguise, if it weren't for the dinosaur shoes with tiny horns, the devil's horns poking out of the cap, and lightning-shaped marks on his cheeks.

"He" was pretending to mind his own business, until "he" noticed Brittney looking straight at "him." Noticing she's looking "his" way, "he" looked back, then at her again, before pointing at "himself" in confusion. With a bright wave "he" pretended that nothing was wrong and went back to patiently waiting in line while not looking anywhere near Brittney's direction.

Brittney looked from "him" to Mabel. "I'm not stupid, and Champion Cheerleader or not, Star Butterbrains is not going anywhere near MY Spirit Week!"

Over at the table, Dipper, Marco, and Jackie followed where Brittney was looking, and saw "him." As Marco and Dipper both raised eyebrows, Jackie looked at Marco and pointed at him. "I was wondering who he was."

Marco slowly turned his head to stare at Jackie.

"Dude, I'm joking," she promised him.

"That's a good look for Star," Dipper said absently, before he stopped and reflected on that. "… Huh."

Mabel held up a hand. "Whoa-hoa, hold on, partner. This isn't about that."

She looked back at Star. "Hey, come on over."

Star stepped out of the line and zipped up to Mabel's side as she continued speaking to Brittney. "I do want to be your friend, but I'm Star's friend, too. And while I would totally love for all my friends to be friends? I can tell that the whole thing is so not happening here."

Mabel turned to Star. "Star, I think you have something to say to Brittney."

With a nod to Mabel, Star took off her horned baseball cap and brought it to her chest. "Brittney, I am really sorry for messing up spirit week and causing trouble for your birthday."

Expecting to hear anything else, like a heartfelt plea to let her go to the dance, a musical number, or even a spell to set her hair purple and on fire, Brittney was genuinely taken off guard to hear an actual apology. "… What?"

"You know, turning the football field into a battlefield? Crashing your party? I am really sorry for that…"

Brittney's resting scowl remained fixed on Star as she watched her lips move and heard the stuff she said, but it wasn't exactly registering. Next to her, Chantal raised an eyebrow.

Star turned to her. "Oh, and I'm sorry for saying your booty wasn't distracting. You actually got that dump truck that stops traffic."

Chantal smirked and nodded. "Girl, you know it."

"And Sabrina." Star turned to the mousy girl. "I am so, so sorry that me barging in interrupted your training and you hit the floor."

Sabrina meekly replied. "O-oh it's okay, Star… you didn't know and… well it's fine."

Brittney finally remembered she was part of the conversation. "So what, you think that because you're sorry, I'm going to let you go to the dance?!"

Star recoiled. "Well I-"

Brittney shot up to her feet. "Well guess what Moo-ron? I don't care if you magic me up a super hot boyfriend with your wand. You're still banned from Spirit Week and if you bother me one more time, I'll make sure you can't even come to school for the rest of the week!"

Mabel's expression slipped to a frown as Brittney folded her arms and gave a quick turn of her head to whip her hair.

"So either go away or give me an excuse, I'm fine with either!"

Star was almost knocked off her feet by the force of Brittney's rebuke. "I'm trying to say that I'm sorry-"

"And you're getting nothing for it." She gasped in mock surprise. "Oh! it's almost like I hate you, you dumb blonde bitch."

Now Star did recoil, her cheek marks turning from lightning bolts to black skulls. Before she could turn her hat back into her wand and go off, Mabel stood abruptly and imposed herself between the two. She loomed over Brittney, Sabrina, and Chantal as she held one arm to keep Star back and reached down to pick up her scrapbook.

"I think it's time to go, Star."

"But she called me a-!" Star raged as her hat turned back into her wand with a puff of smoke.

Mabel turned around to face her fully. "Let's go outside for a second."

Star looked up at Mabel, then at Brittney with a dark glare. Reluctantly, as tears formed at the corner of her eyes, she acquiesced and followed Mabel out of the cafeteria.

Chantal rested her chin on her palm. "Welp, so much for National Champion routines."

She gave Brittney a searing side-eye, but said nothing more. Sabrina on the other hand said nothing at all, watching Mabel and Star leave with pained sympathy to avoid looking at Brittney either.

Jackie watched the girls leave, then looked at Brittney. "Fucking bitch."

Marco once more turned to look at Jackie, his mouth agape in awe of witnessing something he didn't think possible.

Dipper got up. "Okay, I'm not going to the dance anyway. Let's do this."

Brittney watched Star and Mabel leave with no small satisfaction, but that smugness disappeared when Dipper advanced towards her. Going pale, she nearly tripped over her seat stepping over it to back away from the table and him when he reached her and pulled his lumberjack hat off his head.

"You know, I understand what makes you gotta be a bitch and three quarters. That, the whole reason you've turned a dumb school dance into a monument to yourself, and why you throw all this money on people like it matters to them."

Brittney turned her nose up to him, even as it looked like she was shaking. "Mind your own business, nerd!"

She looked right back at him when he stepped in way closer than she thought he would, getting right up in her face and looking down on her with a glower to match her own and then some. She could've been made of titanium and evaporated under the intensity of his gaze.

"Because you're terrified of people finding out about the person you know you are."

Brittney felt like she was standing at the base of a skyscraper, that was going to fall on her. She grit her teeth as Dipper waited for a reply, and lashed out at him with it before the truth he spoke exposed her weakness to everyone.

"Oh yeah? You had your math off. I'm two bitches and three quarters. You're out of here, fucking suspended until next Monday, loser!"

Dipper smiled. "Thanks, enjoy your weekend."

Seeing it do nothing, Brittney lashed out harder. "And your stupid sister's banned from Spirit Week, too!"

Chantal got up. "Brittney, NO!"

Brittney turned on her. "I'm sorry, what?"

"Ban him all you want, but not her! She didn't even do anything!"

Even Sabrina protested. "Y-yeah, she was r-really nice."

Dipper didn't even look back to address Brittney's threat. "You won't. If you did ban my sister. She'd just throw her own dance. She'd be there, Star'd be there-"

"I'd be there," Jackie interjected, prompting murmurs among all the other students in the cafeteria.

Seeing people already speculating about a cool dance party hosted by Star, Dipper turned to face Brittney and drive it home. "And all you'd get is a bill for a school dance no one attended."

Then he gestured to her with an open palm upraised. "You and I both know that's what will happen."

Brittney bristled, and with only an instant's worth of seething she snapped back. "Well you're still banned and you can go home right now! As long as it's Spirit Week, this is MY school and MY authority won't be challenged!"

Dipper clapped his hands and flipped her off with both hands. "Fuck your authority, fuck your Spirit Week, and fuck you."

With that he waved and walked out as Brittney stood there with her mouth agape and face pale as the entire cafeteria erupted into howls as Dipper left through the door.

Marco abandoned his corn and got up. As he followed Dipper out, Jackie was right behind him, looking back at the deeply frazzled Brittney for a quick second.

"Dude… Dipper is amazing," she said.

Marco held the door out for her and nodded. "Yeah, he really is."

= - = 5-2 = - =

Janna: "Ah, if only I was there to be right."
 
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Codes and Geass Cast Commentary 4 New
Like any other day, Jackie Lynn Thomas was boarding to school, the drone of hard polyurethane wheels against the pavement interrupted "ka-kunks" that followed her traversing the cracks in the street and in the sidewalk. As she approached the school looking for Janna, she did a double-take and coasted to a halt.

She stared, with mouth agape. The entire front of the school was decorated not in Echo Creek's oranges, but the purples, pinks, and blues that Brittney was commonly associated with. Everything from balloons to banners, to streamers, to lights and even what looked like holograms of cheerleaders and football players decorated the street-facing buildings of the campus. On the School's Sign, the words "Spirit Week By Wong" was written in place of the usual "Go Opossums!"

It was hard to look at, even for someone laid-back like her. "Dude…"

"I know, right? This is aggressively dumb."

Milly: *aghast* :eek:

Rivalz: *excalibur cringe face* Geeze...

Kallen: What the fuck.... o_O

Trollouche: I've seen Milly do some...frankly crazy shit at times. But this? Never anything like this.

Milly: *still frozen in shock*

Janna coiled her arm Jackie's, inviting her to lean into her shoulder. "Maliciously."

"Cool, I got something for you."

As she leaned against Janna, Jackie produced a pair of purple bracelets that were wider around one half than the other. On the wide half "Spirit Week by Wong" was etched into it. Staring at it uncomprehending for all of an instant, Janna recognized what they were and she rolled her eyes.

"Really?"

"Yeah, this is how Brittney's making sure the people she wants go to the dance." Jackie offered one of them to Janna. "Chantal and I are cool, though, so I grabbed extra from her."

Taking the wristband and pocketing it, Janna nodded in praise to Jackie. "Good looking out, I could've grabbed one though."

Jackie chuckled. "At least I saved you a lockpick."

Taking that into consideration, Janna agreed. She really didn't want to exert any more effort than she wanted in jamming someone's face in their own crap. Brittney wasn't even at the top of her list of people harshing on her vibe, anyway.

Kallen: A school dance has an invite list? Really?

Rivalz: Milly, have we ever done that?

Milly: Nope. The only times I've blocked people from going was when they made it clear they were going to cause problems or ruin it for everyone else.

Trollouche: Well, we did occasionally get asked to block people who caught some serious flak from the staff *cough* cheating *cough*.

Kallen: That happen alot?

Milly: Not really. If you're at Ashford, you should know better. :rolleyes:

"Has anyone checked on Brittney lately? Is she doing okay?"

Both girls looked to see Dipper, Mabel, and Misao, who had just been dropped off by Shermie. They were looking at the redecorated School–Mabel was cringing at the poor decor choices, Misao was outright disgusted by the flagrant ego on display, and Dipper had asked aloud what everyone was thinking.

Janna responded. "On a scale of one to ten: Fifty-one-fifty."

Trollouche: Oh come on. :rolleyes:

Kallen: I don't get it.

Rivalz: *sighs* 5150 is a California thing. It means temporary involuntary psychiatric confinement. Or as some people call it, temporary crazy restraint.

Milly: That's a thing? :confused:

Rivalz: Yeah, not a thing for us, but it's a thing over there. I think Author-kun has been to a few parties where it happened.

CC: Someone being put into that sort of confinement for a psychotic break or bad trip is a fast way to end a party. It's a last resort for a reason. Well, at good parties anyway. If the people running a party are resorting to this first? Walk the fuck away. :rolleyes:

She looked back to the Twins, inwardly appreciating their height, and her attention drifted to Dipper. "And you're Dipper…"

Her smile grew a little. "… Hey"

Janna glanced out the corner of her eye at Jackie, looked at Dipper, danced her attention back and forth between the two, and all the malice she had had simmering since yesterday became a superheated geyser erupting taller than the Empire State Building.

Dipper, to his credit, didn't ogle the most popular girl at school even as he appreciated why she'd be revered as such. "Hey, yeah, that's me. Dipper, Mabel's brother…"

Mabel gently elbowed his side. "Yep, my handsome brainiac of a brother who can't stay out of trouble. He's single, too."

Dipper shot her a look. "Mabel, knock it off…"

Jackie let out a chuckle and brought her skateboard in front of her to rest it on her knees as she leaned over some. "But you are single?"

Dipper sensed that playfulness in her voice like a shark smelled blood. With a devil may care smile, he stepped up with a lot more confidence radiating from him. "You looking? Because if you're down…"

Jackie blurted out another laugh, but wasn't at all quick to walk back her shot. She held her board behind her back and looked aside as her face warmed up. "Yo stop… I might just say yeah…"

Misao nodded to Jackie. "I too have learned not to flirt carelessly with Dipper."

His smirk sharpened into something that even Janna now looked at with a bit of weakness. "You're all more than welcome to take a swing. But you ladies will knock it out of the park."

It had Jackie covering her mouth to stop her chuckling. "Dude, I said stop~!"

Mabel palmed Dipper's face. "Please, Casabrova, you promised to use your powers for good."

"Says the girl trying to hook me up." He gestured to Mabel. "Best wingman in the world, but does not know when to stop."

Jackie could tell she was going to have a great time. "I mean, if she works is that a bad thing?"

CC: Ara ara~

Milly: *purrs*

Rivalz: Damn, that was smooth. *thumbs up*

Trollouche: Well played, Mr. Pines. :cool:

Nunnally: I don't like the sound of that malice in Janna. ¬_¬

Kallen: How tall are these guys again?

Trollouche: Per inside information from the Ero Sennin? Dipper and Mable are both six foot, six inches.

Trollouche: Which makes them as tall as my father. ¬_¬

CC: You know what they say about tall men. :sneaky:

"I'm of the opinion," she said, "That if you're into someone and they're into you, just go for it."

Dipper's eyebrows rose, wondering what she was getting at. "If only it could be that simple."

"It totally could, people just complicate things on purpose like they're obligated to."

Misao caught that, and hummed as she too wondered what Janna was implying.

Jackie smiled, agreeing with Janna with little more than a nod. "Anyway, we gotta talk about the dance and how things are gonna go, girls."

CC: Ara ara, someone has an interesting idea. :3

Trollouche: Is she saying what I think she's saying? *thinking expression*

Milly: I guarantee she is. You'd think a kid from the Bay area would have come across it before.

Kaguya: Let's see if he can figure it out himself. :3

"If it doesn't work," Jackie dug into her pants pocket and pulled out a few more Admission Bracelets. "We're still on to crash the party."

Mabel was optimistic. "There won't be any need."

Dipper not so much, as he looked again at the school's decor. "Yeah, I'm sure she's being completely rational and not letting the power go to her head."

Trollouche: Oh yeah, she's definitely going mad with power...hahahaha, I can't finish that with a straight face. x3

Kallen: You of all people cannot fucking call anyone out on that. :p

Trollouche: Eh, I'm at least aware of it to have people call me out when I go too far.

Trollouche: Hell, even Milly isn't that bad when she's in party planning mode. :p

"The heck is wrong with your Dad?" He asked, all but seething.

"It's just how he is," Jo said with her hands in the pockets of her overalls and her head turned away.

"Don't make excuses for him, he's treating your brother like Trip messing with him is his fault."

He looked from her to Drew. "It's only a matter of time before he tries to keep you from hanging out with us."

"And he's not going to," Drew replied, "I'm sneaking out for the dance and any time the Magnavores show up. I don't care what he does."

He thumped his balled fist against the locker. "This is too important for me to be worrying about being grounded, or stupid stuff like that. It's my responsibility."

Trollouche: Eh, could be worse.

Kallen: By normal standards, his dad is kind of a dick. But he hasn't really done much other than normal dick parenting stuff. Hell, at least he's there. ¬_¬

Rivalz: Man, what would he think if he knew his son was a hero in the making? :D

Nunnally: I'm sure he'd be very proud of the man he's become. :)

Milly: Still better than some people's parents I know. :p

Drew lit up. "Heather, h-hey!"

The abrupt shift in Drew's mood made Roland recoil from him. Jo let out an exasperated breath so hard her lungs could've popped out of her mouth and dangled on the end of her tongue.

"What's up?" Drew asked, stepping up to Heather to deliberately avoid his sister and basically a brother. "How are you this morning?"

"Well, my family decided they're gonna drive to Tahoe, which means I'm leaving tomorrow," she explained. "So, my weekend just got worse."

Jo whispered to Roland out the corner of her mouth. "How's going to Tahoe sooner a bad thing?"

"Going cool places is all about who you go with," he replied. "I mean, would you like to drive up to Tahoe with the 'Teen Girl Squad?'"

Rivalz: A trip to Tahoe is still fun, even if you're stuck with family. Snow, fresh air, great views. Hell, if you have a nice rental place, maybe a hot tub and fireplace. :D

Rivalz: But man, did you see the 180 that girl did to his mood? ;)

Nunnally: I think it's cute. They're a really nice couple. n_n

Nunnally: I bet she'll be even more impressed when she finds out he's a hero. :D

That got Drew's attention, and he smiled a bit. "How dare you tempt me with your collection of rares, contributing to the delinquency of a minor?"

Heather smirked and gestured to herself. "What can I say? I'm a bad guy."

Jo yanked Drew back by his shirt and stepped up. "I'll go!"

Heather wagged a finger at her. "Ah-ah-ah! Sorry, I want it to be me and Drew."

Jo stepped back and shoved Drew forward, he stopped himself barely from Heather. "If you don't take this offer right now, I'll lose all respect for you and punch you."

Drew and Heather were close enough to touch noses when she pulled away, her face coloring like his. They both shuffled back from one another and she reached up to toy with her bangs.

"So…" she said with a jumpy giggle. "You wanna go…?"

Drew sputtered. "Y-yes! Absolutely! We can swing by Zoom and pick up my number one so you can read it again."

Cornelia: *smirks* Well played, Josephine. That is what a good sister does. Pushing their brother or sister to do something for their own good. :sneaky:

Euphemia: *giggles*

"Right?" the former asked. "He completely forgot about Dad being a jerk and his superpowers not kicking in yet."

Roland looked down at her. "Huh, I figured that's what it was."

Jo turned to him. "I can't blame him for being frustrated. He should've exploded yesterday because of Dad's BS."

She looked back the way Drew went with Heather. "But at the same time… I'm glad he didn't."

"Why?"

She paused. "Real talk?"

Roland had an inkling of what she was going to say, but before she could say a word, a voice rang out.

Trollouche: Most likely the fear of being exposed as having said powers...or using them to lash out. ¬_¬

CC: If they're emotion based, then a moment's frustration could lead to unwanted consequences. ;)

Brittney got right up in his face. "Don't even think about it."

"About what?" He asked with a sweet, innocent smile.

She poked his chest. "Pulling some stupid prank at my dance! The only reason I'm not flat out banning you is because of who your Grandma is, but if I see so much as a super soaker, a pillow, or a single mariachi, not only are you out of the dance, I will make sure you don't set foot in school for a week! Do I make myself clear?"

Roland took a step back from Brittney's prodding finger. "I promise I won't do any of that old stuff."

Let it be said, Brittney Wong was not a dullard. "There won't be any new stuff either! In fact, I know that you don't even have a date, so if you show up for the dance without one I'll know you're up to no good."

Chantal and Megan both nodded in agreement, and Roland bravely resisted rolling his eyes. "Okay you're right. I don't have a date yet."

Milly: *conflicted* I mean, pranks at parties are fine, but doing one to spite somebody at their own party? I dunno.... :confused:

Rivalz: Nice trick on the word play. :3

He turned aside, letting out a sigh. "I was going to ask the person I wanted to go with today, but not like this."

Brittney recoiled from Roland, like he'd just gone radioactive. Chantal and Megan on the other hand, reacted with much more visible interest as Roland held out his open palms, and then rolled up the sleeves to the white long-sleeve shirt he wore under a green tee today. With a quick flip of his wrist and a prodigious amount of superspeed, he produced a bouquet of flowers–red and yellow roses with a white ribbon tying them together.

In a school well-desensitized to Star Butterfly's magic, the ol' razzle dazzle and sleight-of-hand still did the trick. Especially when all it resulted in a lovely bunch of flowers and not screaming monsters or burning rainbows.

Roland was on the other side of Brittney before she even realized it, stepping up to Megan, flashing her a debonair smile that gleamed in the fluorescent lights of the hallway. "If you would do the honor of joining me for the homecoming dance, I promise to make it a magical evening."

Megan looked between him and his flowers, to say she was impressed would be an insult. "Daaaaang."

She smiled and took the roses. "I'll see you at the dance, player."

Kallen: *blinks, then slow claps*

Rivalz: Ok, that? That was smooth as fuck. x3

Milly: If he was that smooth the rest of the night? I know I'd definitely be fucking him later. :sneaky:

Janna Banana said:
Don't worry I got this.

Marco said:
It better not b stolen.

Janna Banana said:
Now Mr. Diaz who do you take me for, a thief? :smiling_imp:

Kallen: I mean..she kinda is, but... :confused:

CC: A thief stealing for a good cause..is still a thief but a far more palatable one.

CC: The first tales of Robin Hood were a bit before my time, but there's a reason they're still so popular even today.

CC: Theft in a good cause and for the benefit of others is something the public never gets tired of, if it's done stylishly. ;)
 
Codes and Geass Cast Commentary 5 New
Walking down an alley between two businesses located nearby Echo Creek Cemetery, Jara stopped well short of emerging onto the sidewalk, then turned to face Saberizer, who stood in silence with his hand on the hilt of his sheathed falchion. In her hand she held yet another Beetleborgs comic, this one featuring the Red Striker A.V. cutting through the blue sky above a sea of clouds, with a swarm of Jet Fighters in pursuit, firing at it and the reader.

"It is a simple plan, but it will change things," she said.

Saberizer did not hesitate to respond. "I am ready to take responsibility for what comes next."

Jara gave Saberizer a short nod, and turned back towards the alleyway as she held up the comic.

"Then go, bring me back as many of those insect children as you can."

His grip on the hilt of his sword tightening, Saberizer began walking forward. As he reached Jara to pass her, he spoke.

"They will be laid out before your feet, on this I swear."

CC: Hmm? Didn't we just do this? *raised eyebrow*

Trollouche: Author-kun is doing a double reaction this time since he forgot to do one last time. :rolleyes:

Trollouche: I'll be curious to see what Saberizer plans to do. :sneaky:

There was an undercurrent of anxiety that was worse than usual in the Cafeteria. It, like the rest of the school, was draped from almost floor to ceiling in Brittney's color palette and imagery of herself ranging from banners with her face on them to flattering posters of herself at nearly every corner and on every table. Even looking outside, one could see a blimp advertising "Spirit Week by Wong" as it circled overhead, reminding students that this was an event to be remembered, and to be part of.

Dipper wasn't having any of this. "This is stupid. I'm going to skip for the rest of the week if it's going to be like this every day."

He and Marco were sitting together at their table, watching as students lined up not for lunch, but to a table where Brittney and several of her cheerleaders sat, handing out bracelets. It was a mixmash of students from all walks of social life, and as they came up to the table one by one, it was pretty obvious where the anxiety in the air was coming from.

Brittney, sitting with a bowl full of bracelets, looked up to an overweight male student nervously gesturing towards one of the bracelets. "What?"

The student cleared his throat, dusted off his blue sweater, and smoothed out his short brown hair. "I was… I was hoping that I'd get a bracelet to, you know… go to the rally, and the game, and the dance…?"

Brittney looked him over and grimaced in disgust. "Uh, no. You can go to the gym to get in shape, and maybe to the courthouse to do something about your name, Moobs."

The boy sagged. "But Moobs is my nickname…"

"And you wonder why you're not invited." Brittney pointed to her right. "Move, loser."

Head hung low, the young man walked away and went to his seat. Dipper and Marco watched him walk past, then turned to each other.

Milly: *starting to actually get angry* What. The Hell?? ¬_¬

Kallen: Wow, that's some seriously cunty behavior. -_-

Rivalz: Damn that's shitty. :confused: Kinda surprised she's getting away with this.

Trollouche: *rubs fingers together* ching-ching.

Rivalz: Aw man, really? :rolleyes:

Trollouche: Money talks.

As if on cue, Jackie Lynn Thomas reached the table, all bright eyes and cool smiles. "Hey Dipper, hey Marco."

Marco nearly jumped from his seat. "J-J-J-Jackie, hey!"

His reaction prompted a concerned look from Dipper that faded quickly with understanding.

"Mind if I join you?" Before either could answer, Jackie made herself right at home, squeezing her way onto the bench right between Dipper and Marco.

Both boys looked at her tray, and noticed that on her tray was definitely not school fare–lobster tail, ribeye steak, and elote–street corn on the cob slathered in mayo sauce, chili powder, and cheese.

Marco did a double-take. "Uhh.. where'd you get that?"

"You haven't gone up yet? Guys who get bracelets get to have this for lunch."

Dipper rolled his eyes. "Yeah, well, I'm not a 'bracelet wearer' so."

Marco looked with some envy at Jackie's plate. "I don't think I'd get a bracelet if I tried."

Jackie then pushed her tray out to offer them. "Then help yourself, guys. I can just go grab more."

Milly: I like her. :D

CC: Someone has a crush that they're not willing to voice~

Kaguya: Fu fu fu. He should go for it.

Kallen: Damn, that is a nice spread.

Rivalz: Bet it costs a few pounds if it's restaurant quality. :V

In line for lunch, Jo slammed her hands on the countertop. "What do you mean I can't have the good stuff?!"

The chef behind the counter shook his head. "Restaurant food is only for students that have a Spirit Week by Wong Bracelet, continue down to the normal line."

Jo looked down the line and made a face. "We're having vegetarian meatloaf, come on!"

The chef was unmoved by her plea. "You can pay twenty-five dollars for a plate if you don't have a bracelet."

"Screw that and you!" She looked at Roland, who was standing just behind her in line. "And don't you dare get food from these bougie douches!"

Roland shrugged his shoulders. "I like vegetarian meatloaf."

Rivalz: Called it. :p

Rivalz: Though *does a quick currency conversion calculation* 18 pounds sterling? That's cheap for that kind of lunch. A good rib eye steak alone will cost that in a decent restaurant.

Milly: For a school lunch though? That's outrageously expensive. And very very mean to put it behind either a social barrier or a financial one. ¬_¬

Trollouche: Vegetarian meatloaf? I'm certain that is unappetizing. ¬_¬

Roland quirked an eyebrow. "Then why get mad?"

"Because it's still crap, and I reserve the right to be pissed off at all of it."

Roland pondered it. "There are worse things to be hostile about–at least you have a good reason this time."

Jo looked back as she was served her tray of vegetarian meatloaf, quinoa, and carrots. "Excuse you?"

"You know what I'm talking about."

"No, I don't-"

Jo stopped in her tracks, her tray slipping from her hands and to the floor with a splat. Roland almost walked into her back. "Whoa, Jo are you okay-"

Jo turned and stormed off out of the cafeteria, leaving him baffled until he saw Jackie sitting hip to hip with Dipper and Marco, the only three at a table that seated nine. Making matters better, she was rather obviously leaning into the former as they watched Brittney deal with a frizzy-haired girl with glasses approaching her for a bracelet.

Trollouche: *facepalms* God damnit Jo. >_<

Nunnally: Oh dear. That wasn't very mature. :(

Milly: Yeah, acting like that is not going to win his heart. Jealously is almost never attractive. *sighs*

Brittney looked at the bracelet, then at the young man in front of her. Peter, from Marco's Karate class. Looking back and forth between the blonde boy and her bracelet, she handed it to him. "Here you go, bring your A-Game."

This prompted a protest from the dejected Ashlyn. "B-but Peter's got glasses, too!"

Brittney whirled on the girl. "HE LOOKS GOOD IN THEM!"

Peter, ever stoic, turned and walked away.

Marco frowned around his elote. "Now you got me wanting to throw her in the garbage."

Milly: *steadily getting angrier* I'm really starting to dislike her. ¬_¬

Rivalz: Woah, Milly never gets angry at people like this. :confused:

Trollouche: Batten down the hatches. ¬_¬

Mabel stopped her. "But I want to chat for a bit, too! We share so much in common! You're a girl, I'm a girl, you're cheerleaders, I was cheerleader for the Piedmont High Highlanders…"

Sabrina gasped like she'd seen a ghost. Chantal went wide-eyed like she was in the presence of a God, and even Brittney's ever-present glower vanished in lieu of gobsmacked disbelief.

"… No way, you're that Mabel Pines? National Champion Mabel Pines?!" Chantal demanded.

Mabel smirked and produced out of thin air a large sticker-covered scrapbook.

Over at her table, Jackie looked at Dipper. "I can totally get Mabel being a cheerleader."

Dipper relaxed a bit. "Not just a cheerleader, one of the best."

As Sabrina, Chantal, and some of the other students in lie began crowding around, Mabel flipped through the scrapbook, passing pages filled with of pictures and drawings of herself, Dipper, and things that amused her (such as embarrassing pictures of Dipper) until she came to a page "Cheer Squad!" written in glitter glue.

Milly: Ouu! This looks fun! :D

CC: Cheerleading is that important? *raised eyebrow*

Trollouche: For high school? It can be. And Brittney's crew are not just cheerleaders, it's how they maintain their social position.

"I'm that good," Mabel boasted as she began flipping through the scrapbook. "Here we are at halftime at a Football Game–we won 30 to nothing. Here we are Cheering for Basketball–won 80 to nothing. This is us cheering during exams–we got kicked out of the building for that. Then there's us cheering for the rowing team-"

Chantal's mouth fell agape. "An Awesome on a speedboat? You're crazy!"

Mabel placed a hand on her chest. "My proudest moment."

She scowled and looked to the side. "The Coast Guard didn't think so–the philistines."

CC: Ok, that is fairly impressive. *golf clap*

CC: I am wondering if the cheerleaders promised special service for those blowout scores. :3

Kallen: *dope slaps her* Get your mind out of the gutter. :rolleyes:

Marco was back to nibbling on his corn. "Mabel is serious about being friends with Brittney, isn't she?"

"If she says she's going to befriend someone, she's either going to make a friend or a mortal enemy."

Jackie looked at Dipper. "So what's the record on that?"

Trollouche: What is her record on that? Serious question. :confused:

Kallen: I'd say...fifty/fifty? Then again, if she beats someone up to befriend them, then she might have a good track record.

Trollouche: Ah yes, the Nanoha method of befriending. :cool:

Milly: I don't think that's her style. I think she's just charming. :D

Chantal nudged Brittney. "Hey, imagine what we could do with her in the squad?"

As Brittney turned her head to breath fire on Chantal's face, Mabel held up a hand. "Whoa, hold up buttercup, I have way too much going on so I can't really be cheerleading this year. All my after school hours are like super booked."

Brittney stopped. She had been about to make a sharp warning about the team being full–complete with the stark implication that she would not be eclipsed by a national champion while the squad under her had only one technical win under their belt. Mabel hurriedly killing the idea in the crib threw her off.

"… You don't want to be a cheerleader?" She asked her, suspicious.

"Nope!" Mabel happily chimed. "But~ if you like, I can give you tapes of my routines, help you make up new routines, and maybe swing by and drop some pointers if I'm free. After all, I'm a student here now, and i want my school and my cheerleaders to be the best. Go Opossums!"

Chantal cocked her head to one side, surprised all over again. "Dude… Brittney?"

"That's… that's so generous!" Sabrina said. "If we had that kind of help, we'd be…!"

Chantal flat out admitted it. "We wouldn't suck like we do now, that's for sure."

Brittney narrowed her eyes. It was really generous, too generous for her blood. "Okay then, what do you want?"

Mabel, sunshine and rainbows, replied. "I want to be friends."

"No," Brittney said, "You want something… and since I know what class you're in, I think I know what that is."

Milly: -_-

Leloucia: And the jealous cunt rears her ugly head again. ¬_¬

Kaguya: To be fair? She isn't wrong that Mabel isn't offering this for free. But I have the suspicion she would extend the offer regardless. *smirk*

She leaned to her left and looked down the line. Sure enough, there was a blue-eyed blonde boy wearing blue jeans, a t-shirt, a red baseball cap and a green sweater tied around his hips. A foolproof disguise, if it weren't for the dinosaur shoes with tiny horns, the devil's horns poking out of the cap, and lightning-shaped marks on his cheeks.

"He" was pretending to mind his own business, until "he" noticed Brittney looking straight at "him." Noticing she's looking "his" way, "he" looked back, then at her again, before pointing at "himself" in confusion. With a bright wave "he" pretended that nothing was wrong and went back to patiently waiting in line while not looking anywhere near Brittney's direction.

Brittney looked from "him" to Mabel. "I'm not stupid, and Champion Cheerleader or not, Star Butterbrains is not going anywhere near MY Spirit Week!"

Over at the table, Dipper, Marco, and Jackie followed where Brittney was looking, and saw "him." As Marco and Dipper both raised eyebrows, Jackie looked at Marco and pointed at him. "I was wondering who he was."

Marco slowly turned his head to stare at Jackie.

"Dude, I'm joking," she promised him.

"That's a good look for Star," Dipper said absently, before he stopped and reflected on that. "… Huh."

Leloucia: *blinks* She can do that?

Kaguya: Apparently. Pity he couldn't remember to not wear the distinctive attire. Or use some makeup. :p

Kallen: Is it just me, or did Dipper just have a bisexual realization moment? :oops:

Leloucia: Probably.

Kaguya: Good eye on Brittney's party catching that Star had changed genders.

With a nod to Mabel, Star took off her horned baseball cap and brought it to her chest. "Brittney, I am really sorry for messing up spirit week and causing trouble for your birthday."

Expecting to hear anything else, like a heartfelt plea to let her go to the dance, a musical number, or even a spell to set her hair purple and on fire, Brittney was genuinely taken off guard to hear an actual apology. "… What?"

"You know, turning the football field into a battlefield? Crashing your party? I am really sorry for that…"

Brittney's resting scowl remained fixed on Star as she watched her lips move and heard the stuff she said, but it wasn't exactly registering. Next to her, Chantal raised an eyebrow.

Star turned to her. "Oh, and I'm sorry for saying your booty wasn't distracting. You actually got that dump truck that stops traffic."

Chantal smirked and nodded. "Girl, you know it."

"And Sabrina." Star turned to the mousy girl. "I am so, so sorry that me barging in interrupted your training and you hit the floor."

Sabrina meekly replied. "O-oh it's okay, Star… you didn't know and… well it's fine."

Brittney finally remembered she was part of the conversation. "So what, you think that because you're sorry, I'm going to let you go to the dance?!"

Star recoiled. "Well I-"

Brittney shot up to her feet. "Well guess what Moo-ron? I don't care if you magic me up a super hot boyfriend with your wand. You're still banned from Spirit Week and if you bother me one more time, I'll make sure you can't even come to school for the rest of the week!"

Mabel's expression slipped to a frown as Brittney folded her arms and gave a quick turn of her head to whip her hair.

"So either go away or give me an excuse, I'm fine with either!"

Star was almost knocked off her feet by the force of Brittney's rebuke. "I'm trying to say that I'm sorry-"

"And you're getting nothing for it." She gasped in mock surprise. "Oh! it's almost like I hate you, you dumb blonde bitch."

Now Star did recoil, her cheek marks turning from lightning bolts to black skulls. Before she could turn her hat back into her wand and go off, Mabel stood abruptly and imposed herself between the two. She loomed over Brittney, Sabrina, and Chantal as she held one arm to keep Star back and reached down to pick up her scrapbook.

Leloucia: *rubbing her nose in annoyance* While Brittney is a bitch? She isn't wrong that Star has a bad habit of assuming everyone is alright with her shenanigans. And unlike say, Milly's shenanigans? Star's put people in danger half the time.

Nunnally: She still could have accepted the apology in good grace. ¬_¬

Leloucia: That would require actual class. :p

Nunnally: How is she able to kick Star out of school for a week??

Leloucia: *rubs her fingers together* ching-ching.

Nunnally: ...I don't like her. -_-

Dipper got up. "Okay, I'm not going to the dance anyway. Let's do this."

Brittney watched Star and Mabel leave with no small satisfaction, but that smugness disappeared when Dipper advanced towards her. Going pale, she nearly tripped over her seat stepping over it to back away from the table and him when he reached her and pulled his lumberjack hat off his head.

"You know, I understand what makes you gotta be a bitch and three quarters. That, the whole reason you've turned a dumb school dance into a monument to yourself, and why you throw all this money on people like it matters to them."

Brittney turned her nose up to him, even as it looked like she was shaking. "Mind your own business, nerd!"

She looked right back at him when he stepped in way closer than she thought he would, getting right up in her face and looking down on her with a glower to match her own and then some. She could've been made of titanium and evaporated under the intensity of his gaze.

"Because you're terrified of people finding out about the person you know you are."

Brittney felt like she was standing at the base of a skyscraper, that was going to fall on her. She grit her teeth as Dipper waited for a reply, and lashed out at him with it before the truth he spoke exposed her weakness to everyone.

"Oh yeah? You had your math off. I'm two bitches and three quarters. You're out of here, fucking suspended until next Monday, loser!"

Dipper smiled. "Thanks, enjoy your weekend."

Leloucia: Hah! :sneaky:

CC: Right in the fragile ego, oh ho ho ho. :sneaky:

Milly: *boiling over in anger* :mad:

Seeing it do nothing, Brittney lashed out harder. "And your stupid sister's banned from Spirit Week, too!"

Chantal got up. "Brittney, NO!"

Brittney turned on her. "I'm sorry, what?"

"Ban him all you want, but not her! She didn't even do anything!"

Even Sabrina protested. "Y-yeah, she was r-really nice."

Dipper didn't even look back to address Brittney's threat. "You won't. If you did ban my sister. She'd just throw her own dance. She'd be there, Star'd be there-"

"I'd be there," Jackie interjected, prompting murmurs among all the other students in the cafeteria.

Seeing people already speculating about a cool dance party hosted by Star, Dipper turned to face Brittney and drive it home. "And all you'd get is a bill for a school dance no one attended."

Then he gestured to her with an open palm upraised. "You and I both know that's what will happen."

Brittney bristled, and with only an instant's worth of seething she snapped back. "Well you're still banned and you can go home right now! As long as it's Spirit Week, this is MY school and MY authority won't be challenged!"

Dipper clapped his hands and flipped her off with both hands. "Fuck your authority, fuck your Spirit Week, and fuck you."

With that he waved and walked out as Brittney stood there with her mouth agape and face pale as the entire cafeteria erupted into howls as Dipper left through the door.

Marco abandoned his corn and got up. As he followed Dipper out, Jackie was right behind him, looking back at the deeply frazzled Brittney for a quick second.

"Dude… Dipper is amazing," she said.

Marco held the door out for her and nodded. "Yeah, he really is."

= - = 46 = - =
Janna: "Ah, if only I was there to be right."

Nunnally: Why that arrogant sow! She's nothing but a petty small-minded bully! She doesn't have any actual self-worth or real character! :mad:

Kallen: Woah. :eek:

Milly: *has finally exploded in anger and behing held back* LET ME AT HER! LET ME AT HER! :mad:

Leloucia: Little help here! :confused:

Kallen: I'm trying! She's struggling hard and she's slippery!

CC: I don't see a reason to do anything. :3

Milly: I'll beat that Chinese bimbo bitch's overstuffed head into the ground before I throw her in a trash compactor! She's an affront to the idea of parties and social events being fun! :mad:

CC: Dipper isn't wrong that Mabel could throw a party and absolutely undercut Brittney's event. :D

Kallen: Will you fucking help us over here already?! We're trying to stop Milly from doing percussive surgery on Brittney's face! ¬_¬

Leloucia: And as par for the course, Janna was right. x3
 
Escalation
Just like the Threadmark Title says, get ready.

Forgive the Google Translated German...

= - = 5-4 = - =

|Escalation|

Outside of the cafeteria, staying out of sight from the street, Misao sat with her back to the wall, enjoying the very warm afternoon. She was on her phone, reading the news for any sign of Shego and Señor Senior Junior, and give her eyes a much-needed break from Brittney's choice in decor. Though she wasn't so engrossed that she didn't notice Trip and Van approach her–the latter of the two looking like he wanted to punch someone more than she normally saw of him.

"Misao Darlian, FaithfulPony371, right?" Trip asked as they reached her.

Misao looked up at the two and stood up, lowering her phone to her side. "Ja? What do you want?"

Van glowered at her. "Is Pine Tree taking Jackie Lynn Thomas to Homecoming?"

Now she quirked an eyebrow, wondering what this was about, and shook her head. "He is not even going to the dance."

Trip turned to Van. "I told you."

And Van turned to his brother with an aggression she didn't think he'd hold towards his sibling. "I saw him flirting with her this morning!"

Trip palmed his face. "Can you honestly imagine that loser flirting with any girl in this school, let alone one of the best?"

Misao rolled her eyes, choosing to hold her tongue when the perfect and most unpleasant retort (for them) threatened to spring off it. Giving them more of a reason to hate Dipper–or more specifically act on the hate they already had–wasn't something she was in the mood to do.

Wir brauchen unsere Schlachten nicht komplizierter, richtig? She thought unpleasantly.

"You weren't there," Van insisted, "He was making her laugh and everything."

Trip's exasperation grew. "She was probably humoring him. You know, pretending to be nice? She's so out of everybody's league that all she can do is pity them."

Misao took offense to that. "Do not assign people your garbage worldview, you garbage human beings."

Trip lowered his hand and glared at her. "Watch who you're talking to."

She pointed her phone at Trip's face, stopping it centimeters from his nose. "Watch who you are talking to, you walking pile of vomit. Jackie is a kind girl, as much as Dipper is a kind man. You will not insult them to me."

Trip's gaze darted from her phone to her face. With a disgusted grunt, he turned and stepped away from her. "You have really crappy taste in men."

"Were that the case, I would be dating you," she snapped back.

Trip sneered. "Please, I'd never go for a fat chick."

Misao's expression darkened. Trip's sneer turned into a very haughty smirk at her reaction, while Van shot him a very nasty look.

Instead of an eruption of foul curses in at least four different languages, Misao calmly spoke in a firm monotone absent of even a hint of her bright cheer, replaced with her heavy contempt. "I know that you are paying people to harass Dipper, all of us do."

Trip stopped smirking.

Misao looked into his eyes with a steel, unblinking glare. "The only reason you are not in the hospital now, broken, is because you are pathetic in every way–the beating you deserve is not worth our time."

Van shook his head at his brother, only to be met by Misao's glare as she turned to look at him. "But you can keep bothering me, and we will set aside all the time we need. It will not be long."

Van grimaced and stalked off. "Whatever."

Trip was more hesitant to shuffle off with his tail between his legs. "Paying people? Why would I spend money on anyone I don't like?"

Misao did not hesitate. "For the same reason I would."

Her reply had him pulling back from her slightly, as she raised her free hand, rubbing her thumb across her index and middle fingers to drive the implication home. "English is my fourth language, but I am more fluent in what talks in this country than you are."

The message was received. Glaring at her intensely, Trip turned and followed his brother–flipping her off as he left.

She watched them leave, and looked down at her phone, as she reflected on this enraging encounter. Komplikationen müssen dauerhaft beseitigt werden.

The bang of the cafeteria's door opening, drew Misao's attention, and she crept around the corner to see a seething Jo emerge like she'd been wronged. Roland was by her side, with a look of particularly unsympathetic vindication.

Eine weitere Komplikation, die verschwinden muss.

Misao refrained from approaching them. As nice as Roland was, she wasn't going to waste her breath for Jo any more than she had for the Vanderhoff brothers.

"Jackie Lynn Thomas though," Roland said, and Misao perked up.

Sie hat es auch herausgefunden.

Jo shot him a look that would kill if he hadn't been on the receiving end of worse.

He dismissed her glare with a wave of his hand. "Ay, this is exactly what I was talking about."

As she looked away, he elaborated. "Do you honestly think that acting like a jackass to all the other girls Dipper knows is going to magically make him like you?"

Jo let out a short sound of disgust, then spoke. "Of course not, I'm not stupid."

Misao looked off to her left away from them, letting a snort of doubt out.

"Then what's your endgame, man? Because I do not see you starting beef with Jackie Lynn Thomas over Dipper going down any better than Star's with Brittney."

Jo hitched her shoulders. "Shut up."

"All this is doing is pissing everyone off, and it's going to make fighting the Magnavores harder."

"Like any of them except for Star are actually that important," Jo snapped back. "Heck, if it weren't for her magic, she'd be as useless as the rest of them.""

Misao slowly looked back at Jo, her gaze once again hard.

Roland groaned. "Dude, Misao is probably the only person who knows how to operate the Beetle Battle Base, and Mabel is his sister. Why do you have to start with all of them?!"

"Because they act like a bunch of dumb immature girls!" Jo hissed back.

Roland stared at her. "Like you are? Starting shit with three girls over a boy?"

Jo opened her mouth to shout him down but stopped.

Star exited out of the cafeteria and walked to the front lawn of the school, the sound of the door banging interrupting Jo and Roland's argument. Mabel was right behind her, saying nothing as she followed Star all the way to the school's sign.

Coming to a stop, she took several deep breaths as she gripped her wand so hard it'd have broken were it made of anything less.

Mabel joined her. "Star, hey…"

"She…" Star said without looking back at her. "Brittney really hates me."

Mabel's first instinct was to reassure her, but the venom that Brittney hocked at Star had been so strong that there really wasn't any other way to slice it. "… Yeah, she does."

As Dipper walked outside–followed by Marco and Jackie–Star looked at her wand, then up at the sky.

"… I really hurt her."

Jo and Roland both were given pause when they heard Star's admission. It stayed the others from calling out to her as well, particularly Dipper.

"Star…" Mabel began.

"I've been straight up horrible to her. I ruined her game… I ruined her birthday party…" Star looked down at the ground. "I never apologized for it, once. I just did whatever and ignored her when everyone else was laughing and cheering."

Jackie spoke up. "Yeah, well Brittney's a bitch."

Star finally turned to her and the others, revealing the tears running down her face. "That's no excuse for me!"

She stopped after her shout, then looked down. "I messed up. That's all there is to it…"

Jackie paused, bringing a hand to her heart as she saw just how much this was affecting Star. Dipper frowned too, while Roland gave Jo a scathing side-eye, and she averted her gaze.

Marco pursed his lips and walked forward from Jackie and past Dipper to join Star's side. "Star…"

As she looked up at him and he opened his mouth to speak, the building sound of the approaching Magnavore Jet Fighters filled the air. Roland and Jo both looked up and searched the sky, as the sound grew. Dipper turned towards the west and saw the fighters cruising over the hills low and fast, headed not towards Hillhurst, but straight at them.

"Guys…!" He shouted as he pointed skyward.

Mabel, Star, and Marco all turned and looked up at the incoming fighters–just as they nosed up slightly and the lead of the four opened fire. In a split-second chaos broke lose, as the lasers lanced through the tail of the blimp orbiting the school advertising spirit week.

"Oh no…!" Marco groaned as the blimp began falling and dumping water to keep from plunging straight away into the ground.

Jackie's hands flew to her mouth as she watched the Blimp turn for an emergency landing, then the jet fighters coming back around. "What are those things?!"

Knowing what they were, Marco had a more urgent question. "Why are they coming here?"

He received his answer courtesy of Typhus' jazzy baritone. "Because where else are annoying kids gonna be, baby?"

Marco shot into a fighting stance, and Star turned around to join him as Typhus appeared in the street, and over a dozen Scabs joined him in bursts of flame. Brandishing his Bone Sword, he pointed it at Marco, Mabel, and Star as he broke into a smile that was hard to differentiate from his normal toothy grimace.

Star bristled and brought up her wand, a green glow coming from its half-star. "I really, really don't need this right now!"

Typhus saw Star's tears and chuckled. "Gonna cry about it?"

Lunging forward, Star ignored Mabel and Marco's shouts and ran at Typhus. She was greeted with a gauntlet of Scabs, swinging their short swords to chop her up or impale her. She ducked under several blades, weaved around two thrusts, and leap-frogged over an entire Scab to jump up above Typhus with her wand above her head.

"No, but I'm gonna make you die about it!" Star's cheek marks lit up as she aimed the wand down at him. "LASER BEAM BLAST!"

Instead of a shining white laser, however, a gurgling beam of green sludge fired from the wand and splattered all over Typhus with enough force to send him stumbling back.

"Aw man, I know I'm a grody guy, but this is gross, baby!" Typhus complained as he tried to use his cape to shield himself from the gunk.

The recoil of her failed spell sent Star falling back in surprise, and straight towards the raised blades of the Scabs. Before she could fall upon them, Marco jumped into the crowd of Scabs first.

"HEYAH!" He roared as he performed a flying spin-kick that scattered the Scabs away from him. Landing, he caught Star and helped her up.

"Your wand, what happened?" He demanded before he stopped the slash of another Scab and punished its effort with three quick punches then a kick that knocked it into the crowd.

Star shook her head. "I dont know!"

She used her wand to block another Scab's sword, then twirled in place to clock it across the side of its head and push it back. Aiming the wand she fired off another spell. "Rainbow Fist Punch!"

Instead a clump of green, gooey glitter in the shape of a fist flew at the Scab and was slashed away before it could hit.

Watching the fight quickly unfold, Jo went to go for her Beetle Bonder. "Go time-"

Roland stopped her. "Hold it. We can't."

Jo looked at him. "What? Why-"

She stopped and realized it. "Ohhh… we're in public, and they'd know we're here. That's probably why they even attacked the school, to flush us out!"

By the time she finished, she was standing in front of Hillhurst. "… Huh."

Roland appeared beside her, holding Misao in his arms. "I'm really glad you're the genius of the group, Jo."

Jo scowled at him. "Then here's my next insight–Drew left the school with Heather, and he doesn't have a phone. How are we going to get a hold of him?"

"He'll figure it out," Roland argued back.

As he set her down, Misao huffed. "Prepare yourselves to deploy in your AVs. I will be down in the Beetle Battle Base being useless."

Jo recoiled as Misao walked to the front door. It swung open and a red-carpet rolled out for her, and Flabber stood in the doorway with arms spread in greeting.

"Hey guys, I thought I'd give you the red carpet treat-!" His cheeky pun fell short as he noticed Misao's unpleasant scowl rivaled by only Jo's glare at the back of her head. "Oh dear…"

Misao greeted Flabber with a curt nod as she went straight to the Organ Room and then began the walk down to the Beetle Battle Base. He turned back to Jo and Roland, as the former quickly turned away and transformed into the Red Strikerborg.

@@@@@

Jackie was too distracted by the fighting breaking out to be really cognizant of Roland and Jo suddenly disappearing from the face of the Earth. She peered around Dipper, watching as Star and Marco battled the Scabs surrounding them on all sides.

Star backflipped from the lashing strikes of a Scab, then jumped and twirled over two more trying to grab her. Rather than a spell, she swung a kick into the head of one, and used the force of the blow to turn and swing her heel down onto the top of the other's head. Somersaulting through the air, she landed on her feet and used her wand's wings to catch the sword of her previous attacker when it came for her. Grabbing its arm, she turned and threw the Scab into four more–while the two she clocked with kicks dissolved away from their colossal damage.

As Star plunged back into the melee, Marco jumped and delivered a barrage of kicks into the chest of another Scab.

"HAA!" He yelled as his bicycle kick had the Scab stumbling backward, before he twisted himself around and performed a crescent kick that wrenched its head at an awful angle.

The Scab dissolved in a flash, and through the cloud of dying wasps Typhus emerged, his clawed arm turning from green to red as he prepared to punch Marco into a fine mist.

His swing came, but Marco jumped to the monster's left, and used the air displaced by his blow to get back from him.

It still felt like he'd nearly been hit by a train, though.

"Where are your Beetle Buddies, baby?!" Typhus asked as he swung his arm to try and clip Marco, then swung down with his sword in his other hand.

Marco again hopped back and used the draft of his overpowering strike to avoid the followup blow. "Don't worry about them, worry about what's gonna happen to you for stepping up onto my block!"

"Your block?!" Typhus swung a horizontal slash with his sword.

When Marco ducked the blade, he brought his clawed fist down on his head. "This is my hood!"

Marco side-hopped the hammer-blow then uppercut Typhus, lifting his head back. He then front-kicked the monster in the chest, a loud thud echoing from the force of the blow.

"Marco, down!" Star shouted as she broke free of the fight, and Marco instinctively ducked. She flew over his back, did several flips, jumped and spin-kicked Typhus in the left side of his head, knocking him off the same foot.

She aimed her wand at his face. "Green Glittery Goop Blast!"

And Typhus' face was full of the sticky, stubborn sludge.

As the monster struggled to get the mess off his face and the Scabs closed in on Star and Marco again, Jackie looked over to Dipper as she realized he was walking them back from the fight.

"Dude, I've seen Star and Marco fight monsters before, this is different," she said, her voice betraying anxiety.

Dipper didn't sugarcoat it. "Yeah, these guys are trying to kill us."

Jackie watched as the flame-shaped blade of one Scab came close to cutting Marco's throat as he used that overreach to slam the back of his fist into the side of its head twice, then weave his arm around the Scab to flicker jab his face until it came apart into a swarm of wasps.

"… Dude…" She just never imagined she'd see this kind of violence.

Mabel spoke up. "And we need all the muscle we can get to win."

Dipper turned to her and nodded. Tossing him her phone, Mabel turned towards the fight–and began stretching like she was in an 80s exercise video. "But first, it's time to limber up!"

As she grunted from her effort, Jackie and Dipper looked from her to one another.

Typhus finally got his face clear of the mess and roared as he barreled towards Star with his sword raised. He used his monstrous arm to smack aside two of the Scabs trying to surround her and swung down. When she used her wand to block the sword, the audible clang left her ears ringing.

She looked up at Typhus, grimacing under the weight of his press as he leaned forward.

"Ain't got no magic, ain't got no chance, baby!"

"Don't call me 'baby!'" Star seethed, before she heard Mabel yell.

"Hey, face-face!"

Mabel's outstretched arm caught Typhus at his neck, and the monster was dragged away by her running lariat and thrown to the curb opposite of the school.

Lowering her arm, she glared at him as he got up. "You wanna see what five years of Family Kickboxing Classes does to an already violent maniac?!"

With a growling laugh, Typhus started to get up, but Mabel and Star both were not having it.

"Stomp both of his ugly faces in!" Mabel yelled out before she jumped and heel-dropped Typhus's head, forcing it back down. Running up on him next, Star punted him in the stomach, lifting him up off his knees and leaving him open to Mabel's roundhouse kick straight across his nose, throwing him onto his back.

The remaining Scabs bore down on them, one trying to shank Mabel in the side. She leaned back, the blade passing just below her chest, and she shoved her elbow into the Scab's face.

"You got a bad aim to miss a target this big!" She side-kicked it, putting it on its back, then switched legs to hook the neck of another going for Star.

"Hey Scab, look at this cool bug I found!" With a twist of her hips and swing of her leg she drove the Scab's head into the pavement, shattering the monster mook's dome.

The Princess had her own attackers, and she danced and turned out of their wild swings then unleashed a cloud of sludge from her wand and left them struggling with it.

The Scabs' sacrifice was all the diversion Typhus needed to kick up onto his feet, but Marco's flying punch smashed into his jaw before he could get his balance. The blow sent him into the path of Star–who swung her wand like a golf club and connected with the dead center of his face.

Typhus went back and was kicked in the back of the head by Marco and went forward into another swing from Star. Stumbling to the Princess's right, Typhus roared and turned his arm red to swat both down, before he was drop-kicked by Mabel.

"Don't let him move!" Marco shouted as he parried a Scab and used the little breathing-room he had to karate chop Typhus in the throat and push him back into the barrage of hits from Star and Mabel.

"We weren't-!" Mabel shouted as she elbowed Typhus in the jaw.

Star got him again with her wand, hitting him across the other side of his face. "Going to!"

Jackie watched with growing awe as Star, Mabel, but more importantly (to her at least) Marco laid a beating on Typhus. Even with his henchmen around, while two were dropping hit after hit, the third would lash out at attackers and keep them at bay until Typhus was thrown back to them.

They were all amazing, but Marco… she just couldn't tear her eyes away from him, sending a Scab flying with a vicious combo of palm thrusts before properly punching Typhus back into Star and a blast of gunk from her wand that coated his face and kept him struggling.

"… Dude… that is so cool…" Jackie breathed.

Dipper nodded. "Right?"

Then at the same time they said it.

"Marco is amazing."

Jackie's mouth fell open, and she looked up at Dipper, her mint green eyes widening in both surprise and understanding.

Mabel's phone buzzed, and Dipper looked at it.

Janna Banana said:
I'm with Dr00 and Heather, we're going after the blimp.

Misao said:
Roland brought Jo and I to Hillhurst, we are deploying the AVs!

As Jackie noticed the messages, he sent his reply.

Mabel said:
Make sure the blimp crew is okay, then tell Drew to come here as fast as he can, Typhus is at the school and Star's wand is malfunctioning!

By the time he sent the message, Dipper realized the fight had gained a sizable audience–numerous students that had been drawn out by the racket were watching the fight, many with cellphone cameras pointed at it.

And from the heart of this crowd, Brittney emerged in a rage that no one was listening to her demands. "Move aside you clods! You're blocking…! Get out of my…!"

She forced her way to the front, Sabrina and Chantal behind her–and her already red-faced rage turned a crimson when she saw Star beating on Typhus repeatedly with her wand, before Marco followed it up with a flying kick into his chest that pushed him into a haymaker punch from Mabel that sent him crashing into the arms of his remaining Scabs.

The three teens lined up, with Star at the point, Marco on her right, and Mabel on her left. The exertion of the extremely physical fight was apparent, makeup was running in the sweat, knuckles and knees were bruised and bloodied, and all three were panting for breath.

Slumped into the arms of his soldiers, Typhus hung his head low and chuckled. "Man… I haven't been jumped like this since before I met my friends."

The chuckle turned into a laugh. "I love fighting you brats… I could do it all day, baby!"

He pushed himself up to his feet, and whatever injuries the three were able to inflict on him were gone. "Even if you can't!"

Marco and Mabel both glanced towards her and saw Star's cheek marks begin to glow.

"Star…?" Mabel asked.

Marco understood what was about to happen. "Be careful."

Star only nodded back, her gaze not leaving Typhus and his few Scabs as the same light in her cheek marks filled her eyes.

"WHATEVER YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING, YOU'RE GOING TO STOP!"

The glow disappeared, and Star looked back with everyone else, Typhus included, as Brittney stormed across the front lawn of the school. With fire in her eyes and her fists clenched, she marched past Dipper and Jackie, past Mabel, Star, and Marco, and walked right up to Magnavore Commander.

Reaching Typhus, she raised a hand and jabbed him in the chest with her index finger.

"You need to take your ugly Beetleborgs cosplay, and your weirdo friends and march back to your mom's basement or whatever manchild cave you crawled out of, got it?!"

Behind her, his opponents shared his surprise at the sheer nerve of the girl.

"Uh… Brittney, that's not cosplay! That's an actual monster!" Marco called.

Brittney rolled her eyes. "Oh come on, even I've read those stupid comics!"

She turned around and slapped Typhus upside the head. "Are you paying attention, moron?! You need to go; you're disrupting my school!"

Typhus reached up and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Man, the attitude you kids got, you'd all make great Magnavores."

He then raised his hand to swat Brittney aside. "But we ain't takin' applications, baby."

Star, Marco, and Mabel all lunged to save Brittney, when a shadow passed over them and the street directly next to Typhus shattered from the force of a massive object smashing into it. Brittney and everyone behind her threw their hands up as the wave of dust and debris washed over them, and when she lowered her hands, she was the first to make out the massive shape in the dust cloud.

Just beside ground zero, Typhus tried to move his hand, but found it in a fearsome grip, one stronger than anything that had him since he got here. "Wh-what the heck…? You're strong as a troll, baby!"

The dust cleared, and the first thing he saw was long, vibrant red hair, and then the gnarled, green-skinned face of a she-troll, her yellowed eyes glaring death at him, and her turquoise lips pulled back to bare her fanged underbite. It cleared further, revealing her entire body rippling with tensed muscle under a deceptive layer of fat, wearing a purple shirt, gray pants, and a pair of pumps.

Marco's guard dropped in relief when he saw her. "A capable and responsible adult!"

Star couldn't help herself. "After a fashion."

"If you really wanna flatter me, beefcake…?" Miss Skullnick, Star, Marco, Jackie, and Mabel's homeroom teacher, spoke with a surprisingly level tone that conveyed to Typhus the sheer depth of her anger.

"You're gonna leave my students alone and not come back here… or I'm gonna hurt you."

Typhus stared at Miss Skullnick's face, looked at Brittney, then Star, Marco, and Mabel, then back at her. His gaze fixed there for a few moments, before he relaxed his arm, freeing it from her grip, and slowly stepped back from her.

"For you, baby? Anything." He folded his arms, nodded, and vanished in a flash of flame–taking his remaining Scabs with him.

"This was not on my monster fight bingo card," Dipper admitted.

Jackie put on a relieved smile as she nudged his side. "You can't argue with the results, right?"

"Oh, no, I'll take this!" Dipper quickly assured her.

Mabel sighed in relief. "Thanks, Miss Skullnick!"

"Yeah," Marco added, "You literally saved us a lot of trouble."

The troll teacher turned on them. "Kids, I know you're probably in the middle of some crazy magical adventure or whatever…"

She began chopping her right hand into her left as she spoke, for firm emphasis. "But you can't be doing this stuff during school hours!"

Miss Skullnick gestured back to Brittney. "What if she got hurt, or goodness forbid any of you? Whoever that guy was, he was strong, and he does not need to be coming back here!"

"We'll make sure he doesn't," Marco promised.

Mabel let out a chuckle. "But I think he got the message already, right Miss S?"

She leaned over towards Miss Skullnick and winked. "You she-devil, you~!"

"Mabel, please do not ship her with the bad guys," Marco warned with a flat expression.

Star agreed. "We already went down that road; we DO NOT need to take a second trip."

"What happened to my blimp?"

It was a question that reminded everyone of the gravity of the current situation. The blimp that the Jet Fighters had hit, it was no longer in the sky. The only sign of it was a billowing pall of smoke rising from the LA River, and the ominous shapes of the Magnavore Jet Fighters circling it.

Brittney was staring at the smoke. Everyone could see her hands clenching and unclenching, and the slight tremors that ran through her body, but aside from that the girl was stock still.

And then she wasn't. She turned around in place so fast she could've just flipped around. She was staring directly at Star, her eyes growing bloodshot and her face twitching from the corner of her lip up to her eyebrow.

A chorus of blaring tones from Mabel's, Marco's, Miss Skullnick's, and Brittney's phones interrupted the tense moment. The same tone swept among the other students, and Jackie grabbed her phone to look at the message that came with the tone.

Dipper saw it on Mabel's phone and frowned.

"It was only a matter of time."

= - = 5-4 = - =

The revolution will not be televised. It will be streamed, though.
 
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Typhus is probably the top contender for my favorite of Vexor's subordinates.

Excellent chapter as always!
 
It's great to see how Jo's and Star's actions have consequences. With Star it's her being inconsiderate of other peoples feelings, and Jo being so hostile towards Jackie, Star, and Mabel over Dipper. I'd love to see how they will progress (or regress) as characters.
 
Codes and Geass Cast Commentary 6 New
CC: Shall we?

Trollouche: We shall indeed. :cool:

Outside of the cafeteria, staying out of sight from the street, Misao sat with her back to the wall, enjoying the very warm afternoon. She was on her phone, reading the news for any sign of Shego and Señor Senior Junior, and give her eyes a much-needed break from Brittney's choice in decor. Though she wasn't so engrossed that she didn't notice Trip and Van approach her–the latter of the two looking like he wanted to punch someone more than she normally saw of him.

"Misao Darlian, FaithfulPony371, right?" Trip asked as they reached her.

Misao looked up at the two and stood up, lowering her phone to her side. "Ja? What do you want?"

Kallen: Douchebag alert, 5 o'clock! :p

Milly: Yeah, I'm not fond of these two. ¬_¬

And Van turned to his brother with an aggression she didn't think he'd hold towards his sibling. "I saw him flirting with her this morning!"

Trip palmed his face. "Can you honestly imagine that loser flirting with any girl in this school, let alone one of the best?"

Misao rolled her eyes, choosing to hold her tongue when the perfect and most unpleasant retort (for them) threatened to spring off it. Giving them more of a reason to hate Dipper–or more specifically act on the hate they already had–wasn't something she was in the mood to do.

Wir brauchen unsere Schlachten nicht komplizierter, richtig? She thought unpleasantly.

"You weren't there," Van insisted, "He was making her laugh and everything."

Trip's exasperation grew. "She was probably humoring him. You know, pretending to be nice? She's so out of everybody's league that all she can do is pity them."

Nunnally: I don't like them. -_-

Alice: Yeah, these guys are dicks. *middle finger*

Trollouche: Pick and choose your battles, yes. That doesn't mean letting assholes walk all over you. :rolleyes:

She pointed her phone at Trip's face, stopping it centimeters from his nose. "Watch who you are talking to, you walking pile of vomit. Jackie is a kind girl, as much as Dipper is a kind man. You will not insult them to me."

Trip's gaze darted from her phone to her face. With a disgusted grunt, he turned and stepped away from her. "You have really crappy taste in men."

"Were that the case, I would be dating you," she snapped back.

Trip sneered. "Please, I'd never go for a fat chick."

Misao's expression darkened. Trip's sneer turned into a very haughty smirk at her reaction, while Van shot him a very nasty look.

Milly: 0_o

Kallen: Wait, what? :mad:

Nunnally: :mad:

Alice: Did they seriously just-?

CC: My my, someone wants to get kicked in the balls, don't they? ¬_¬

Kallen: I make the occasional crack about having bad taste in men and women, but I've never talked shit about someone for their body! :mad:

Alice: At least the dumb younger brother thought that was a bad call. :rolleyes:

Trip was more hesitant to shuffle off with his tail between his legs. "Paying people? Why would I spend money on anyone I don't like?"

Misao did not hesitate. "For the same reason I would."

Her reply had him pulling back from her slightly, as she raised her free hand, rubbing her thumb across her index and middle fingers to drive the implication home. "English is my fourth language, but I am more fluent in what talks in this country than you are."

The message was received. Glaring at her intensely, Trip turned and followed his brother–flipping her off as he left.

She watched them leave, and looked down at her phone, as she reflected on this enraging encounter. Komplikationen müssen dauerhaft beseitigt werden.

Trollouche: It's called sub-contracting. Hiring guys to deal with 'problems' is an age old tradition of the rich and powerful.

Rivalz: Yep. One of the reasons I am happy to not be nobility. :D

Rivalz: And...huh. Is it just me or was that her doing that kinda hot? :confused:

CC: Methinks someone has good taste. :3

CC: What an interesting sentiment, Misao. Rather ruthless in fact. :sneaky:

"Jackie Lynn Thomas though," Roland said, and Misao perked up.

Sie hat es auch herausgefunden.

Jo shot him a look that would kill if he hadn't been on the receiving end of worse.

He dismissed her glare with a wave of his hand. "Ay, this is exactly what I was talking about."

As she looked away, he elaborated. "Do you honestly think that acting like a jackass to all the other girls Dipper knows is going to magically make him like you?"

Jo let out a short sound of disgust, then spoke. "Of course not, I'm not stupid."

Misao looked off to her left away from them, letting a snort of doubt out.

"Then what's your endgame, man? Because I do not see you starting beef with Jackie Lynn Thomas over Dipper going down any better than Star's with Brittney."

Jo hitched her shoulders. "Shut up."

"All this is doing is pissing everyone off, and it's going to make fighting the Magnavores harder."

"Like any of them except for Star are actually that important," Jo snapped back. "Heck, if it weren't for her magic, she'd be as useless as the rest of them.""

Misao slowly looked back at Jo, her gaze once again hard.

Roland groaned. "Dude, Misao is probably the only person who knows how to operate the Beetle Battle Base, and Mabel is his sister. Why do you have to start with all of them?!"

"Because they act like a bunch of dumb immature girls!" Jo hissed back.

Roland stared at her. "Like you are? Starting shit with three girls over a boy?"

Jo opened her mouth to shout him down but stopped.

Euphemia: Oh my. She's rather surly. :confused:

Milly: Yeah, this is what jealousy gets you. It makes you look bad, and causes stupid decisions.

Euphemia: I feel sorry for her. All her seething and gnashing of teeth is only going to make that nice boy spurn her. :(

Milly: *sighs* She's not gonna learn until she gets her heart broken, or a slap of reality to the face.

"She…" Star said without looking back at her. "Brittney really hates me."

Mabel's first instinct was to reassure her, but the venom that Brittney hocked at Star had been so strong that there really wasn't any other way to slice it. "… Yeah, she does."

As Dipper walked outside–followed by Marco and Jackie–Star looked at her wand, then up at the sky.

"… I really hurt her."

Jo and Roland both were given pause when they heard Star's admission. It stayed the others from calling out to her as well, particularly Dipper.

"Star…" Mabel began.

"I've been straight up horrible to her. I ruined her game… I ruined her birthday party…" Star looked down at the ground. "I never apologized for it, once. I just did whatever and ignored her when everyone else was laughing and cheering."

Jackie spoke up. "Yeah, well Brittney's a bitch."

Star finally turned to her and the others, revealing the tears running down her face. "That's no excuse for me!"

She stopped after her shout, then looked down. "I messed up. That's all there is to it…"

Nunnally: *wince*

Alice: Brittney is kind of a bitch but...yeah, you fucked up, Star.

Alice: No girl likes someone showing up and ruining their events.

Nunnally: Hopefully she'll learn from this and become friends with her. :)

Trollouche: Hope springs eternal. :3

Jackie's hands flew to her mouth as she watched the Blimp turn for an emergency landing, then the jet fighters coming back around. "What are those things?!"

Knowing what they were, Marco had a more urgent question. "Why are they coming here?"

He received his answer courtesy of Typhus' jazzy baritone. "Because where else are annoying kids gonna be, baby?"

Marco shot into a fighting stance, and Star turned around to join him as Typhus appeared in the street, and over a dozen Scabs joined him in bursts of flame. Brandishing his Bone Sword, he pointed it at Marco, Mabel, and Star as he broke into a smile that was hard to differentiate from his normal toothy grimace.

Star bristled and brought up her wand, a green glow coming from its half-star. "I really, really don't need this right now!"

Typhus saw Star's tears and chuckled. "Gonna cry about it?"

Trollouche: It's fighting time! :D

Kallen: Punching faces in. The best kind of therapy for heartache. :sneaky:

Kallen: Punch his ugly face in, Star! :D

Watching the fight quickly unfold, Jo went to go for her Beetle Bonder. "Go time-"

Roland stopped her. "Hold it. We can't."

Jo looked at him. "What? Why-"

She stopped and realized it. "Ohhh… we're in public, and they'd know we're here. That's probably why they even attacked the school, to flush us out!"

By the time she finished, she was standing in front of Hillhurst. "… Huh."

Roland appeared beside her, holding Misao in his arms. "I'm really glad you're the genius of the group, Jo."

Jo scowled at him. "Then here's my next insight–Drew left the school with Heather, and he doesn't have a phone. How are we going to get a hold of him?"

"He'll figure it out," Roland argued back.

As he set her down, Misao huffed. "Prepare yourselves to deploy in your AVs. I will be down in the Beetle Battle Base being useless."

CC: *snickers*

Trollouche: You'd think she'd be more aware of her surroundings. :3

Kallen: They really need to deal with the bad blood before something happens. Like..I don't know, some evil doppelganger formed out of her resentment and jealousy?

Trollouche: That is totally a Toku plot. x3

As the monster struggled to get the mess off his face and the Scabs closed in on Star and Marco again, Jackie looked over to Dipper as she realized he was walking them back from the fight.

"Dude, I've seen Star and Marco fight monsters before, this is different," she said, her voice betraying anxiety.

Dipper didn't sugarcoat it. "Yeah, these guys are trying to kill us."

Jackie watched as the flame-shaped blade of one Scab came close to cutting Marco's throat as he used that overreach to slam the back of his fist into the side of its head twice, then weave his arm around the Scab to flicker jab his face until it came apart into a swarm of wasps.

"… Dude…" She just never imagined she'd see this kind of violence.

Mabel spoke up. "And we need all the muscle we can get to win."

Dipper turned to her and nodded. Tossing him her phone, Mabel turned towards the fight–and began stretching like she was in an 80s exercise video. "But first, it's time to limber up!"

Trollouche: Cue the 80s music! :D

CC: Oh?



Trollouche: :cool:

CC: Huh. Less bad than your usual choices. :3

"Hey, face-face!"

Mabel's outstretched arm caught Typhus at his neck, and the monster was dragged away by her running lariat and thrown to the curb opposite of the school.

Lowering her arm, she glared at him as he got up. "You wanna see what five years of Family Kickboxing Classes does to an already violent maniac?!"

With a growling laugh, Typhus started to get up, but Mabel and Star both were not having it.

"Stomp both of his ugly faces in!" Mabel yelled out before she jumped and heel-dropped Typhus's head, forcing it back down. Running up on him next, Star punted him in the stomach, lifting him up off his knees and leaving him open to Mabel's roundhouse kick straight across his nose, throwing him onto his back.

The remaining Scabs bore down on them, one trying to shank Mabel in the side. She leaned back, the blade passing just below her chest, and she shoved her elbow into the Scab's face.

"You got a bad aim to miss a target this big!" She side-kicked it, putting it on its back, then switched legs to hook the neck of another going for Star.

"Hey Scab, look at this cool bug I found!" With a twist of her hips and swing of her leg she drove the Scab's head into the pavement, shattering the monster mook's dome.

Kallen: WOO! Get him Mabel! :D

Trollouche: *headbangs*

Kaguya: Ara ara, this is quite a show. :3

Jackie watched with growing awe as Star, Mabel, but more importantly (to her at least) Marco laid a beating on Typhus. Even with his henchmen around, while two were dropping hit after hit, the third would lash out at attackers and keep them at bay until Typhus was thrown back to them.

They were all amazing, but Marco… she just couldn't tear her eyes away from him, sending a Scab flying with a vicious combo of palm thrusts before properly punching Typhus back into Star and a blast of gunk from her wand that coated his face and kept him struggling.

"… Dude… that is so cool…" Jackie breathed.

Dipper nodded. "Right?"

Then at the same time they said it.

"Marco is amazing."

Jackie's mouth fell open, and she looked up at Dipper, her mint green eyes widening in both surprise and understanding.

Mabel's phone buzzed, and Dipper looked at it.

Janna Banana said:
I'm with Dr00 and Heather, we're going after the blimp.

Misao said:
Roland brought Jo and I to Hillhurst, we are deploying the AVs!

As Jackie noticed the messages, he sent his reply.

Milly: Oh ho! :sneaky:

Nunnally: ?

Milly: Someone realized they have a mutual attraction in common. And that Dipper goes both ways. ;)

Kallen: Guy has good moves, not gonna lie.

CC: And that someone also may have just connected the dots on who Dipper is connected to. :sneaky:

And from the heart of this crowd, Brittney emerged in a rage that no one was listening to her demands. "Move aside you clods! You're blocking…! Get out of my…!"

She forced her way to the front, Sabrina and Chantal behind her–and her already red-faced rage turned a crimson when she saw Star beating on Typhus repeatedly with her wand, before Marco followed it up with a flying kick into his chest that pushed him into a haymaker punch from Mabel that sent him crashing into the arms of his remaining Scabs.

The three teens lined up, with Star at the point, Marco on her right, and Mabel on her left. The exertion of the extremely physical fight was apparent, makeup was running in the sweat, knuckles and knees were bruised and bloodied, and all three were panting for breath.

Slumped into the arms of his soldiers, Typhus hung his head low and chuckled. "Man… I haven't been jumped like this since before I met my friends."

The chuckle turned into a laugh. "I love fighting you brats… I could do it all day, baby!"

He pushed himself up to his feet, and whatever injuries the three were able to inflict on him were gone. "Even if you can't!"

CC: I see someone is having fun, and apparently won't stay down. :sneaky:

CC: There is something exhilarating about a good fight. ;)

Cornelia: I do wonder who he's fought previously that was so formidable.

"WHATEVER YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING, YOU'RE GOING TO STOP!"

The glow disappeared, and Star looked back with everyone else, Typhus included, as Brittney stormed across the front lawn of the school. With fire in her eyes and her fists clenched, she marched past Dipper and Jackie, past Mabel, Star, and Marco, and walked right up to Magnavore Commander.

Reaching Typhus, she raised a hand and jabbed him in the chest with her index finger.

"You need to take your ugly Beetleborgs cosplay, and your weirdo friends and march back to your mom's basement or whatever manchild cave you crawled out of, got it?!"

Behind her, his opponents shared his surprise at the sheer nerve of the girl.

"Uh… Brittney, that's not cosplay! That's an actual monster!" Marco called.

Brittney rolled her eyes. "Oh come on, even I've read those stupid comics!"

She turned around and slapped Typhus upside the head. "Are you paying attention, moron?! You need to go; you're disrupting my school!"

Typhus reached up and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Man, the attitude you kids got, you'd all make great Magnavores."

He then raised his hand to swat Brittney aside. "But we ain't takin' applications, baby."

Kaguya: Sounds like someone is about to get a hard dose of reality. :sneaky:

Trollouche: You've mouthed off like that a few times. :3

Kaguya: Oh no, not like that. I was careful enough to do it out of harm's way because I'm not an idiot. :p I'm a diplomat, a corporate raider, and a finance woman.

Kaguya: If I'm going to mouth off, I'll do it behind the protection of a big strong woman like Kallen with an ass that begs to groped~

Kallen: I feel like I'm being complimented and perved on. ¬_¬

Star, Marco, and Mabel all lunged to save Brittney, when a shadow passed over them and the street directly next to Typhus shattered from the force of a massive object smashing into it. Brittney and everyone behind her threw their hands up as the wave of dust and debris washed over them, and when she lowered her hands, she was the first to make out the massive shape in the dust cloud.

Just beside ground zero, Typhus tried to move his hand, but found it in a fearsome grip, one stronger than anything that had him since he got here. "Wh-what the heck…? You're strong as a troll, baby!"

The dust cleared, and the first thing he saw was long, vibrant red hair, and then the gnarled, green-skinned face of a she-troll, her yellowed eyes glaring death at him, and her turquoise lips pulled back to bare her fanged underbite. It cleared further, revealing her entire body rippling with tensed muscle under a deceptive layer of fat, wearing a purple shirt, gray pants, and a pair of pumps.

Marco's guard dropped in relief when he saw her. "A capable and responsible adult!"

Star couldn't help herself. "After a fashion."

"If you really wanna flatter me, beefcake…?" Miss Skullnick, Star, Marco, Jackie, and Mabel's homeroom teacher, spoke with a surprisingly level tone that conveyed to Typhus the sheer depth of her anger.

"You're gonna leave my students alone and not come back here… or I'm gonna hurt you."

Typhus stared at Miss Skullnick's face, looked at Brittney, then Star, Marco, and Mabel, then back at her. His gaze fixed there for a few moments, before he relaxed his arm, freeing it from her grip, and slowly stepped back from her.

"For you, baby? Anything." He folded his arms, nodded, and vanished in a flash of flame–taking his remaining Scabs with him.

Kaguya: ....Not at all what I expected. 0_o

CC: Didn't see that coming. :3

Trollouche: *googles* Huh. I suppose her tastes changed to a more monstrous flavor after her transformation. x3

It was a question that reminded everyone of the gravity of the current situation. The blimp that the Jet Fighters had hit, it was no longer in the sky. The only sign of it was a billowing pall of smoke rising from the LA River, and the ominous shapes of the Magnavore Jet Fighters circling it.

Brittney was staring at the smoke. Everyone could see her hands clenching and unclenching, and the slight tremors that ran through her body, but aside from that the girl was stock still.

And then she wasn't. She turned around in place so fast she could've just flipped around. She was staring directly at Star, her eyes growing bloodshot and her face twitching from the corner of her lip up to her eyebrow.

A chorus of blaring tones from Mabel's, Marco's, Miss Skullnick's, and Brittney's phones interrupted the tense moment. The same tone swept among the other students, and Jackie grabbed her phone to look at the message that came with the tone.

Dipper saw it on Mabel's phone and frowned.

"It was only a matter of time."

Nunnally: What's going on? o_O

Kallen: I got a bad feeling about this. ¬_¬

Milly: I think social media just noticed there's a monster battle going on. :eek:

Rivalz: People in LA taking their heads out of their asses to notice the world around them? Never gonna happen. :p

Milly: Speaking from experience? :p

Rivalz; I'm from California originally, I know what I'm talking about. :p
 
Civil Danger
For the record, I had these titles of this chapter and the last figured out before they became aggravatingly relevant.

= - = 5-5 = - =

|Civil Danger|

The blimp advertising "Spirit Week by Wong" was on fire and circling towards the ground.

At Britta's Tacos, panic flashed through Drew, as he watched the blimp dump water to slow its descent and turn away from the school to avoid hitting it. His eyes darted back to the the attacking Magnavore Jet Fighters, which were coming back around and lining up towards the school itself.

"What's up with those Jet Fighter replicas, did one crash into the blimp?" Heather asked. "They're just not having any luck with them."

Drew looked at her, then at the sky again. His breath caught in his throat as he watched the Jet Fighters make another pass. To his relief, however small it was, they did not fire and instead broke into a climbing turn away from the school and after the blimp.

Heather watched the airship, smoke still trailing behind it as it went down. "I hope the people in that blimp get out okay…"

Drew looked at Janna, then said to Heather. "We should help them."

Heather agreed. "Let's go!"

While Drew got back in and buckled up, she hit a switch, and the roof of the convertible began to fold back. She looked at Janna. "You coming?"

The moment the folding roof was past the back seat of the car, Janna vaulted into it. "Even if you didn't want me to."

As Heather pulled out of Britta's lot, Drew gave Janna a pointed look. Meeting his gaze and catching his unspoken request, she nodded and began texting the others.

Heather navigated Echo Creek's streets, being mindful of traffic and pedestrians as she followed the descent of the blimp and the circling Magnavore Fighters. The fire at its tail was growing as the craft descended, with its nose lifting higher. Barely missing some electrical wires, it landed in the concrete gully and skidded to a halt just short of one of the town's bridges.

Turning onto a street running along the river with high fence separating the road from it, Heather pulled to a stop, and all stood up in the car to look down at the river below.

"It came down in one piece, but that fire's bad!" Heather said as the airship began to collapse.

Janna shook her head, lamenting. "Dying in a blimp fire is probably one of the worst ways to go. Mostly because you're dying in a blimp"

She made a face, like something was stuck on the roof of her mouth. "Blimp. Nope, don't like that word."

Drew looked down the street and saw to his relief a gated access tunnel down to the river. He turned to Heather and Janna. "Stay in the car and call 911."

Heather gawked at him. "You're going down there?!"

"I have to do something!" With that, Drew jumped off the car and took off running down to the gate. "Get back from the river and call for help!"

Heather gripped the top of her windscreen, debating whether or not to go after him before she hesitated and then called out. "Be careful, please!"

Janna climbed over the passenger seat to sit in it. "He'll be fine. Let's pull back, okay?"

Drew waved back at her, and with all of his desperation-fueled might he scrambled up the chain-link gate and over it. He hit the ground on the other side running, glanced back at Heather's car as it pulled around and took off down the street she'd come from. As the tunnel's darkness surrounded him, he pulled out his Beetle Bonder.

I really hope no one sees me, but I can't worry about that! He thought before he held the device in front of him.

"Beetle Blast!"

Pulling into a side-street away from the river, Heather parked her car called 911. The phone range longer than usual, before a dispatcher picked up.

"911, what's your emergency?"

"Yes, a blimp is on fire, it may have been involved in an aerial collision, it's crashed into the Arroyo Seco on the north side of the Bonner Avenue Bridge! Please send fire trucks and an ambulance, my friend went down there to help!"

There was a moment of pause, before the dispatcher spoke. "Ma'am, can you see any unusual aircraft in your vicinity?"

Heather looked up to see the passing Jet Fighters. "Yes, there are."

"Ma'am I need you to be calm, but a Civil Danger Warning is in effect in that area, and you need to be in cover right now. Do not go near that blimp and get to the nearest shelter you can find."

Fear rushed through Heather, as she and Janna looked down the street at the river and the smoke billowing over it.

@@@@@

The tunnel opened up right in front of where the blimp had crashed, and the Blue Stingerborg emerged to see the slowly collapsing balloon was already partially covering the glass-windowed gondola that controlled it. The first thing he saw was the pilot slumped forward in their seat, and all other concerns fled him.

Drawing his Input Magnum, he hit 1-1-9 and aimed it at the fire encroaching on the gondola. "Extinguisher Magnum!"

A great blast of fire extinguisher slammed into the flames, beating them back and snuffing them out away from the door. Grabbing the hatch, Drew ripped it off its hinge and cast it aside before looking into the smoke-filled gondola, where he found a second crewmember lying on the floor.

Moving over to the crewmember and taking care, Drew knelt down and made sure the crewman's head and neck were stable and dragged them out of the blimp and away from the fire and smoke. Once they were laid on the ground, he headed back in and took the same care lifting the pilot from his seat and dragging him outside.

With the pilot laid beside the copilot, Drew checked their vitals and found that they had pulses and were still breathing. He turned and went back to the blimp, scanners active, and saw no sign of anyone else.

"Thank goodness," he muttered.

When he turned around to go back to the crew, he found Saberizer standing between him and them.

"Is there anyone left?" The Mercenary Warrior asked.

Drew found that question strange but shook his head. "I checked, it's clear."

Saberizer rested his hand on the end of his sheathed falchion's hilt, then turned and began walking down the river. "Then let us fight away from here."

Hesitant at first, Drew walked parallel to him, the two leaving the burning blimp and its unconscious crewmen safe outside of the radius of the fire and smoke. They walked south down the river, towards the Bonner Avenue Bridge.

"I don't get it, what's your concern about those guys back there?"

Saberizer turned his head to look at him. "A professional consideration, no more, no less. I want no diversions as I fulfill my objective, and you are more than willing to oblige."

"Wouldn't putting those people at risk make that easier?"

Saberizer looked ahead and let out a hum. "Easier…"

The two walked under the bridge and down a short incline, where the river and the man-made gully it flowed through widened. Following the water's edge, Drew stopped a fair distance from the bridge and Saberizer stopped with him, his hand slipping from the pommel to grasp the hilt.

In a flash he drew the falchion and twirled it in hand as he turned around in place to point the tip at the Blue Stingerborg. The yellow eye of his half-mask gave off a steady glow as he spoke.

"I demand no handicap testing your blade."

Drew tensed up, the ruby-colored eyes of his helmet flashing, as he pulled the Input Magnum–his thumb entering 1-1-0 before he brought the weapon to bear on Saberizer.

He opened fire, and the beams were deflected by Saberizer's falchion with a deft flick of his wrist that twirled the weapon around his hand. Catching it in his grip the swordsman surged forward, closing the distance between them in a swaying path to let Drew's next shots pass to his left and right as he reached him.

Saberizer swung once to his left, catching and knocking the Input Magnum from his hand, then brought the blade back to lash him across his arm and chest even faster.

Sparks flew from the Blue Stingerborg's chest and limb, and alarms went off in Drew's ear as the force of the blows threatened the air in his lungs. Another slash caught Drew in his right side and sent him spinning, but instead of belly flopping to the ground he caught himself and rolled back up onto his feet.

Turning towards the swordsman, he held out his right hand. "Stinger Blade!"

The Beetle Battler wasn't finished flashing into existence over his arm when he pitched himself at Saberizer. At the last second, he turned to his right and performed a hard but wide spinning slash aiming to bisect him at the waist.

Saberizer twisted the falchion downward and the Stinger Blade met it with an audible clang. He turned, sidestepping in the direction of Drew's swing and moving around his blade to slash him across his back and send him stumbling forward.

Drew let out a grunt from the hit and again caught himself on his left hand, turning around he dragged the Stinger Blade through the concrete to swing his right arm low and then upward, the edge of the blade rising to cut Saberizer from hip to shoulder.

Saberizer brought the falchion into the Stinger Blade to cross it perpendicularly with his, and let Drew push him back to finish standing. As the falchion was pushed towards his chest, the Mercenary Warrior slid his right foot behind Drew's own and tripped it from under him while shoving forward, launching him off his feet.

Landing on his side with a yelp and turning onto his back, he looked up as Saberizer pointed the end of his falchion at his chin.

"Do you need a moment to warm up?" He asked.

Drew responded by shooting Saberizer in the face and chest with the Input Magnum that the Mercenary Warrior didn't notice him grab up when he sent him stumbling with the slash to his back.

Drew rolled over onto his hands and feet, and looked back to fire three more times, hitting Saberizer again, before rising and turning–entering 9-6-4 as he went. Standing, he aimed at the smoke billowing swordsman and held down the trigger, unleashing the stream of Energy Bolts of the Input Magnum's crashing mode.

Instead of diving clear or trying to deflect the attacks with his sword, Saberizer charged into the flood of energy bolts, letting them impact his raised left arm and armored body. As shots burned into him, or glanced off his body, he got in range and thrust his falchion forward stabbing Drew in the solar plexus. It was a hit he felt through his armor, knocking the wind out of him long enough for Saberizer to pull the blade back then bring it upwards, uppercutting Drew and launching him in an arc to come crashing down onto his back.

The uppercut had cost Drew his Input Magnum again, the weapon falling towards the ground between them. Saberizer spotted it, and yellow light flashed from both his eyes, beams that stuck the falling weapon and deflected it into the river.

Seeing it splash down as he got back up, Drew swore under his breath.

Saberizer clenched his grip on his falchion, the weapon rattling in his hand.

"Ready your blade, and put your heart into this duel," he demanded in a tone that grew colder and darker with every word.

Drew brought his right arm up, the Stinger Blade crossed over his chest.

Does he not realize that I'm doing my best? He thought.

He swept the blade out as he ran at Saberizer, then brought it up and downward in a diagonal slash the swordsman sidestepped. Turning around he tried a horizontal spinning slash from the other direction that Saberizer parried up and away. Catching himself, Drew yelled and began using his whole arm to swing it back and forth in an X-pattern to hit him.

Up on the bridge, Jara watched Drew flail at Saberizer, her much more experienced warrior having no problem evading or parrying the widely telegraphed strikes despite their otherwise overwhelming volume. She shook her head in disgust and turned her back away from the fight to watch the Magnavore Jet Fighters continue their circling.

Noxic appeared behind her, in a still damaged but patched up state. He looked off the bridge at the Blue Stingerborg and Saberizer clashing. Then he looked around.

"Hey, what I miss?" He asked his meat-based organic friend. "Why is Saberizer doin' all this huntin' and you ain't doin' none of that killin'?"

"Saberizer wanted to fight the child, so I am letting him," Jara said without looking back.

She didn't need to see what Noxic watched. A particularly heavy slash from Drew was caught by the cross guard of Saberizer's falchion. He walked backwards in a circle as Drew tried to press on him, the two orbiting each other twice before he turned and let Drew stagger past him like he had before. The Blue Stingerborg recovered fast, not wanting to fall for the trick again and swung out sloppily for the swordsman to just parry his sword up and away again.

As Drew let out a grunt with the parried attack, then lunged in with an even louder yell, Noxic turned back to Jara. "You did tell Saberizer that the kid's a mook, right?"

"It's his curiosity, he saw something, and he has a normally good eye for the blade."

"Did he see that the kid's only good for fighting dirty and ganging up on people with his friends?"

Jara thought about their last fight. "No… it's something else, and by the way things are going, Saberizer is going to be very unhappy."

Noxic looked again at the fight. The Blue Stingerborg's already sloppy attacks now had the tell-tale violence of desperation, as Saberizer opted to simply block each blow and give the armored hero no opening to attack.

He looked back at her. "So where's Typhus?"

"He went to one of the high schools closest to that house, to try to smoke out the other Beetles and hopefully the Butterfly, too. He has not been back to contact me, so he has either found them and is fighting… or he is trashing a school and terrorizing its students."

Right on cue, Typhus appeared next to the two. "Yeah, I ain't going back to that school, baby."

He saw Noxic. "Hey, buddy, good to see you on your feet."

"Thanks, I'm not one hundred percent but I'll run my mouth witcha! You won't believe the new dump I found to set up, it's a literal dump!"

Jara's glower could be felt through her mask as she spoke over Noxic. "Why aren't you going back there, was the Butterfly there?"

Typhus nodded. "Yeah, all them kids are there, but there's a troll, too."

Jara and Noxic both recoiled from Typhus, they looked at each other, then at him. "A troll?"

"Yeah, a full-on brick house, baby! She was mighty-mighty and lettin' it all hang out."

The way Typhus described her did not set well with Jara's stomach, and so she memory holed that to focus on the more dire implication. "Did the troll protect them?"

"Yeah, didn't want me anywhere near her kids, baby." Typhus rubbed his monstrous chin. "… Lady had priorities…"

That thought aloud made Jara's stomach do a flip, but she again stuck to the real issue. "Attacking the school to get at them means risking a fight with a troll. That is out of the question."

"You darn right that's out of the question, trolls are the worst!" Noxic agreed.

Typhus looked down when he heard another hard clang, and found the Blue Stingerborg locking blades with Saberizer, trying hard to use the Stinger Blade to push the falchion aside and cut into the Mercenary Warrior.

As Saberizer began to push, Drew grabbed the end of his sword with his free hand and pushed back. It almost seemed to work, causing Saberizer to lean just a few inches, before he kicked Drew in the chest and separated them.

"Kid's still bad at this, huh?" Typhus asked before he turned back to her. "Hey, you'd better tell him to wrap this up. If I ain't there, then them kids are gonna be on the move soon."

The Magnavore Fighters suddenly turned all at once, headed towards Hillhurst Mansion, and Jara looked up. "It seems that this has turned out to be the case."

The four fighters nosed up slightly, bringing their guns to level, and opened fire on their target. The salvos of energylanced across the sky, and punched through several low clouds, revealing their target. Painted red and black, with silver fixed landing gear and powered by a pair of tilt fans sticking from its side, the Red Striker AV performed a roll and passed under the Magnavore Jet Fighters.

The sound of new engines caught Drew's attention, and he felt relief when he saw Jo's AV.

"Thank goodness…"

Seeing Drew look upward, away from their battle, Saberizer's helmet eye shone and he gripped the falchion tighter.

@@@@@

Overhead, Jo let out a laugh as she watched the four Jet Fighters split off into two groups of two. Two climbed up high, while the others went into hard right turns to reengage her. "Oh, thank you for making this easier for me."

Instead of going after the two who turned to meet her, she pulled into a near vertical climb and pushed the craft's throttle forward. The back half of the Red Striker AV's body opened like the hard shell of a ladybug–revealing a quartet of thrusters that flared to life and pushed her up towards the climbing fighters.

"Didn't think I'd outclimb you, huh?!" She asked as she locked on and fired off several bursts of lasers, hitting the lead of the two climbing fighters–whose explosion caused its wingmate to tumble out of the way and into another burst from the Red Striker AV.

The second craft exploded, both quickly dissolving away into hundreds of thousands of wasps that burned away in the sky.

As Jo turned away from the explosions, she laughed. "This is too easy! It's like flying a bike!"

On her AV's panoramic monitor, a window with Misao's face appeared. "Stop showing off, check your six o'clock."

The other two fighters had managed to come back around and were climbing after Jo, their lasers blazing just as Misao warned her. Swiveling her thrusters and adjusting their throttles, Jo swerved left and right, throwing off their aim before she turned the tilt rotors a full ninety degrees straight down and changed direction so abruptly that she was pushed down into her seat by the massive G-Forces.

The AI controlled Magnavore Jet Fighters read the move, but it happened so quickly that they could only barrel past her before their own control inputs could put them in a counter maneuver. The lag was all Jo needed, and she quickly shot down the other two fighters with a quick burst from her lasers.

"That's four down!" Jo cheered as the fighters burned away, before she scanned the sky using her panoramic monitors and a few extra windows to cover her blind spots. "I have no other bandits on my scopes."

"Understood," Misao answered, using the same severe and cold tone she had alerted her with before. "Now focus and locate Stingerborg so I may direct Hunterborg to his location."

Jo checked her scanners, and quickly got a sight of the Blue Stingerborg on the shore of the LA River, facing off against Saberizer with the three Magnavore commanders in sight.

Behind her mask, she grinned. "I've got eyes on them; I'm going in for a strafing run!"

"You will not," Misao said. "You are not permitted to fire at targets on the ground."

Jo did a double-take. "Says who?!"

"We do not need to risk collateral damage through a strafing run." Misao sharply answered. "Allow Hunterborg to handle the matter and provide support as needed. If you try to attack anyway, I will turn your weapons to safe."

Jo bristled at the girl's uncompromising tone and the mechanical aggression of her warning. "You can't do that!"

And just like that Jo received an alert that all of her weapons had been turned from armed to safe. Eyes widening behind her mask, she looked at Misao's window.

Misao stared blankly at her, as she turned her weapons back on. "Coordinate with Hunterborg."

Now Jo was seething. "Do you really want to start something, now?"

Misao glared at her. "Do you?"

The window closed out. Behind her mask, Jo fought her grimace. It only deepened when a new window opened up, revealing the expressionless helmet and mask of Green Hunterborg. Jo could feel Roland's withering look of "What did I tell you?" through it and the distance that separated their screens.

On the road, vehicles and pedestrians were scattering in every direction, as a green-painted, and silver chromed Stag Beetle perched atop a turret connected to a pair of large tank treads powered down the street. Despite its size, the vehicle was surprisingly agile, maneuvering around cars and avoiding people as it headed towards the Bonner Avenue bridge.

Inside, Roland cut his communication with Jo and focused on the battle at hand. "I don't see Drew yet, but I definitely see the Magnavores!"

Misao appeared in a window. "Then do your best to drive them off, and help Stingerborg!"

Jara saw the AV coming and grimaced. "Of course they have all three of those things!"

Typhus turned to face it. "I got it, baby!"

With the road between him and the Magnavores cleared, Roland gunned the throttles and opened the Hunter AV's horns to grab Typhus.

Down by the river, Drew swung hard and missed Saberizer. From the moment Jo turned up and made the battle a little easier, the Swordsman had stopped trying to fight back and was now simply evading his blows. Not even rudimentary attempts at feints were landing. He'd go in one way, change direction, change direction again, swing, and miss.

Saberizer didn't even raise his sword.

After a final failed strike, Drew stopped short of advancing, then lowered his sword. This is hopeless, I can't take this guy in a straight fight.

He wasn't ready for this kind of combat. He was only just getting the hang of learning how to fall at the dojo.

Saberizer brought his hand up to adjust the scarf that covered the lower half of his face. "… Disappointing. You understand nothing of the world you reside in."

"What do you mean?" Drew asked as he glanced towards the river, the suit's Heads Up Display had located the Input Magnum. It was in about three feet of water and mostly undamaged.

Getting it's the problem, but everyone's on their way. This fight is almost over! He thought as he spaced his feet and prepared to move.

Saberizer spoke–his calm tone now shaken with anger. "I will not allow you to leave it in ignorance."

Drew tensed up. "What?"

The Green Hunter AV raced across the bridge, swerving towards Typhus as he bulked up and turned from green to red. But before Roland could test his vehicle's might against the Magnavore's brawn, an orange barrier shot up and stopped the tank with enough force to lift it off the back of its treads.

Drew stopped what he was doing and looked up at the bridge, as Saberizer gave it a rearward glance.

The tank crashed back down, Roland was tossed back and forth in his seat, but naturally unharmed thanks to his armor.

He paused, then growled when he saw what stopped him.

"Ah shit…"

Jara and Noxic both stepped back from Typhus, who followed.

Vexor stood between them and the Green Hunter AV, healed good as new from his grisly injuries he'd incurred from Star, his regal cloak floating back from him only slightly as he maintained the barrier that kept the Green Hunterborg at bay with his left hand. Gazing up at the machine, he opened his hand just a bit wider, and the barrier pushed the tank back, all the way to the end of the bridge.

"Jara," he spoke.

Jara, tense after Vexor's brief demonstration of why he is in charge, stepped forward. "Yes?"

Lowering the hand he repelled Roland with, he raised his right. "Bring the blue one to me, dead or alive."

He opened his palm, the blue gem in its center flaring brightly to life. "Open Forth, Gaohm Zone!"

Drew barely had a second to react before he was plunging into the dimensional tunnel, yelling in surprise as he fell.

Roland saw him fall, and quickly pulled the hatch lever. "Crap, Stingerborg!"

Overhead, Jo also saw her brother vanish. "Damn it!"

She ignited the Red Striker AV's boosters and dove, quickly racing up the river from the south so she could line up her laser cannons on Vexor, Typhus, and Noxic. "You're giving him back right now, asshole!"

Taking aim and placing Vexor square in her sights, she pulled the trigger.

Instantly her weapons went safe.

"WHAT?!" She yelled. "MISAO YOU BITCH!"

Misao reappeared on her screen. "I do not care how angry you are! You will not fire!"

Jo let a growl of frustration and nosed up to pass over the bridge. As she climbed, she looked down and saw just past the bridge at the river's edge–right in the line of her aborted strafing run–were several emergency vehicles. Two fire trucks and an ambulance that had snuck down to the bridge to put out the blimp fire and tend to the crew while Drew was keeping Saberizer busy on the other side of the bridge.

Seething, she let out a yell. "Then I'll do it by hand!"

Pulling a lever, she bailed out of the Red Striker AV, leaving it for Misao to take control.

Hurtling through the air, she punched the ground as she landed in front of Vexor, Typhus, and Noxic–the latter two just now noticing that Jara had been swept up and taken to the Gaohm Zone.

Still safely behind his barrier, Vexor greeted the two teenagers with a lean in their direction not unlike a very short but polite bow. "Greetings. This battle is now over, but I shall come for you in due time."

With that he, Typhus, and Noxic disappeared.

Despite her general bad attitude today, Roland forgave Jo's scream of frustration as the Magnavores escaped. He ran to the bridge's stone wall and looked off it down at the river below, where there was no sign of Drew anywhere.

He lowered his head and clenched a fist, before he pounded it on the wall and tore a chunk out of it.

= - = 5-5 = - =

Hope for the best.
 
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The Mind of a Boy That Killed Adolescence
Boss Battle Incoming.

= - = 5-6 = - =

|The Mind of a Boy That Killed Adolescence|

The Blue Stingerborg landed in a crouch, his Input Magnum clattering to the ground a short distance away from him. Slowly, unhurt from his dimensional travel, he rose to his feet and looked around at his surroundings. He was on a mist-shrouded, rocky field bare of plant life–any life at all. The mists crossed over the field on a slow, steady breeze, revealing glimpses of a nearby shore lit by a sun frozen at rise.

Looking at the sunrise and the glittering sea before that spread from the horizon, he noticed the rays of light dance over metal in the mists. He peered closer and realized it was bouncing off the edges, guards, and pommels of numerous swords. They were everywhere in the field, of every conceivable shape and size, ranging from the mundanely familiar to the completely alien, concealed by the mist except where the weak light from the sea touched them.

"What…?" He remembered the dimension they'd been sent to last time, and Roland's description of the "Rat Bone Pit."

"This guy's really a sword fanatic, huh?" He thought aloud as he turned towards his Input Magnum and walked over to it.

When he reached to retrieve the weapon, dozens of swords rained down from the sky. Short blades, broadswords, long swords, katanas, and even a blade large enough to slay horses and their riders in a single swing. They stabbed into the ground around the Input Magnum, encasing it in almost a solid wall of metal.

Drew stumbled back in surprise.

He can control the swords here, too?! He thought.

He looked around, before his scanners detected a target and he turned to see the shape of Saberizer in the mists–a yellow glow coming from his half-mask. His arms were folded, and from the intensity of the light he could tell the Mercenary was glaring straight at him.

"I misjudged you," Saberizer lamented with a firm voice.

He stepped forward, his silhouette fading into view as he grew closer. Drew raised the Stinger Blade, and Saberizer stopped.

"I am a warrior; for as long as I can remember I have only known the blade. I have fought countless battles, shed blood on fields like these, and even knelt with my head hung in defeat."

He watched Drew prepare to lunge as he waxed poetic. "But not once… has a foe been able to rip this sword from my hand."

His hand moved to the pommel of his falchion and rested there. "When you disarmed me, I thought for a moment… that there was a glimpse of something great in you. A warrior, a swordsman."

The moment he saw Saberizer's hand move to his sword, Drew leapt into action–literally. He jumped, with all his might, and threw himself into a spin, building up tremendous momentum to swing the Stinger Blade vertically onto the middle of Saberizer's head.

Moving his hand from the pommel of his sword to its sheath, he tucked his finger under the cross hilt and flicked the blade up out of it. His right hand shot to the ascending blade and caught the hilt to bring it across and stop Drew's swing.

A clang echoed from the blades meeting, the shockwave from the impact clearing the mists for a short distance. The mist's displacement revealed Jara perched atop the swords surrounding the Input Magnum, her cape fluttering behind her as she watched the fight in silence.

"But I see that I was mistaken!" Saberizer swung the blade with that, throwing Drew back before gravity could pull him down.

Drew flipped through the air and landed. Saberizer pursued, his feet barely touching the ground as he rushed him. Waiting for the last moment, Drew threw out the Stinger blade and swung in, only for Saberizer to catch the blade with his own and stop him.

"You have no power swinging your sword like that."

He parried the Stinger Blade back, then brought his around in a crescent motion to slice his chest once, then bring it back even faster, the harder blow throwing the Blue Stingerborg off his feet.

"And your stance is non-existent."

With a grimace, Drew caught himself and used his backward momentum to turn the other way and lash out with the Stinger Blade in another horizontal cut, but Saberizer stepped back from it.

"Your every move is an open book, spread out for anyone to read."

The yellow eye of his mask flashed, and several swords surrounding Saberizer exploded from the ground and shot up into the misty sky. Drew looked up and caught the gleams of the weapons before they came down aiming for his feet, coming from the front and to his left. He hopped back in the other direction, and barely landed when he hopped to his left to avoid more swords that rained down from his right.

He saw the tips of several swords barely poke out of the ground around his left foot as he landed on it. Without hesitation he jumped back from those blades that rocketed out of the ground aimed for his vitals, some barely grazing his armor as they shot past.

More swords sprouted from the ground, following him as he retreated, and out of the mists even more emerged, raking his armor as they passed him, while others rained down to impale him.

He can control so many at once! Drew thought as he stumbled about, staying only a half-step–a quarter-step away from being hit.

"Your deplorable footwork; even a young child with a year of walking is more trusting of how they stand." Saberizer said with a sneer as several more swords shot past him to attack Drew. "A stiff breeze could knock you down, much less a sword carried by the gale!"

He lowered his head, teeth clenching behind his scarf as the swords converged on Drew from all directions.

"Someone of your pathetic skill… should have never been able to disarm me."

With one foot atop the flat pommel of a zweihänder, and the other on the cross guard of a much lower scimitar, Jara leaned onto her knee and watched the Blue Stingerborg hop, jump, and leap to escape the all-range projectile swords.

"Saberizer," she said to herself, inaudible to anyone else over the strike of blade against armor. "The useless boy really struck your pride."

More swords flew towards Drew, some aiming for his left leg, the other for his right side. Seeing them, he kicked off to his right while swinging the Stinger Blade, scattering the blades away from him. He landed, but without even bothering to look he jumped forward and dodged swords plunging on him from above.

Blades homed in from his left, from directly in front, and above, and Drew tightly turned his body to use the Stinger Blade's width as a shield to stop the swords that would strike his head while others ricocheted off his armor, leaving deep nicks in it.

The impacts were enough to push his feet into the firm, rocky soil, and several more swords cut across his armor to set alarms off in his ears. He jumped to his right to avoid another salvo of projectiles, and kept moving, running a gauntlet of swords but staying just ahead of them.

As he dodged and swatted away swords, his mind raced. I can't do this all day! I'm only delaying the inevitable!

A particularly large sword erupted from the ground, aimed for his throat. He raised the Stinger Blade and deflected it up enough that it glanced off the right side of his helmet near his eye—cracking the helmet's lens. He had no time to focus on how much that hurt, seeing the glimmers of swords coming on him from his left and right. He jumped and flipped through the air to let the projectiles shatter each other on impact when they collided.

Drew watched the blades come apart like it was in slow motion, as he fell from the top of his jump landed hard.

What…? What just happened there?

The shards of metal seemed so slow that he could've just plucked them out of the air if he could reach them.

And there was Saberizer, coming in from low and fast and thrusting the falchion for his chest to snap him out of his momentary daze. Drew sidestepped him, then smartly used the Stinger Blade to defeat a follow-up stroke as the Mercenary Warrior turned to face him.

Jara was taken by surprise. "Huh?"

"There it is, another flash of competence," Saberizer growled as he tried to push Drew back, but the Blue Stingerborg planted his feet then sidestepped to try and shove him past.

Saberizer outpaced him then shoved his arm up to break his block. "But it's merely a fluke!"

With a quick twirl of his falchion he cut into the Stingerborg armor with a vengeance before several swords flew in around him and crashed into Drew, knocking him backward. As he tumbled across the field more swords struck him, destroying themselves and propelling him further with each hit. Swords sprouted from the ground in his path, his body plowing through them with a din of shattering and warping metal.

When he finally came to a stop, flat on his back, more swords finished their ballistic course and made final adjustments to hit him with the force of missiles, creating numerous explosions that cleared more and more of the dreary mist away.

Holding his falchion with its tip pointed to the ground, Saberizer advanced on the clearing dust and smoke as the Blue Stingerborg slowly pushed himself onto his knees. His armor was burned and cut deep–enough in places that the black mesh of interwoven armor and circuitry beneath the solid blue plate was visible.

Drew was out of ideas. He was trapped in the Gaohm Zone, with no one to back him up. Sure he was only fighting Saberizer, but Jara was here too, and he already didn't have any options by himself against her. These were just facts.

He looked at the Stinger Blade, rattling as he trembled, and tried to calm himself.

I need to focus, I can barely do anything, but I'll only do one thing if I start panicking! Focus, and look forward!

He took a deep, strong breath as Saberizer reached him. Think… think of something! Think of anything!

Saberizer's next words then cut through his thoughts like the blade in his name.

"You are an embarrassment to warriors. That someone like you could disarm me, who has never faced such shame before?"

He raised the falchion above his head, taking it in both hands to bring down on Drew's neck.

"My swordsman's soul shall forever bear this disgrace."

@@@@@

In the outside world, a portal was cut open and Star, Marco, Dipper, and Mabel emerged onto the Bonner Avenue Bridge. There, they found the Green Hunterborg and Red Strikerborg looking down at the emergency vehicles dealing with the wrecked blimp. The crew of the blimp were conscious and speaking to the rescuers, as firefighters tackled bringing the burning blimp under control.

"Hunterborg, Strikerborg," Dipper called to them. "The school's safe. Where's Stingerborg?"

Jo turned to face the group. "Stingerborg's gone. Vexor appeared again and sent him off to that weird dimension with Saberizer."

Roland spoke up next. "Jara, too."

Mabel gasped. "He's by himself?!"

Dipper turned to Star. "Can you contact him?!"

Star reached for her compact, then stopped. "No, I can't. He doesn't have his phone!"

Jo stepped towards Star. "What about the Scissors?"

The Princess shook her head as she answered. "If I don't have an idea of where I'm going, I can't go there with the Scissors!"

That had the Red Strikerborg throw her hands up in frustration. "Ugh, you're useless!"

Star's face darkened with anger. "Like yelling at me is going to fix this!"

Marco's response was much more dramatic, his open palm slamming hard into the Red Strikerborg's chest and knocking her back. "You need to stop!"

Catching herself, Jo stared at Marco as he took another step placing himself between her and Star.

"Take your passive-aggressive crap and shove it back up where it came from!" He snarled as he pointed at her face.

She went from surprised to enraged. "Passive-aggres…?! Screw you and your walking disaster girlfriend, you-!"

"KNOCK IT OFF!"

Jo went quiet at Dipper's roar as she looked at him. His expression was hard and angry, as he stared at Jo with the broken frustration of a man who could not keep quiet anymore.

"All of this crap with you antagonizing Star, Misao, and my sister? It stops right now. I don't care whatever has you pissed off, don't take it out on them." He ordered.

Everyone was looking at her. Marco's glare was no less severe, Star's cheek marks were once more skulls even as she took his arm to hold him back, Mabel had a look of more silent disapproval than anger, and once more Jo knew what kind of face Roland had behind his mask. With a seething grunt, she turned away from them and looked back down at the river below.

"Seriously, girl…" Roland muttered.

"Whatever," Jo just grumbled back.

Dipper returned everyone to the matter at hand. "All right, without a phone to connect to the suit, is there a way we can contact Drew?"

Marco turned to Roland. "You can contact each other through a radio, right?"

"Yeah but," Roland checked his systems, "I don't have Stingerborg connected."

Mabel asked Star. "Is there a spell that you can use to scry and find where Stingerborg is?"

"Even if I could think one up?" Star held up her wand, and a cloud of gunk came from it. "My magic's on the fritz."

Their options were short, and whatever time they had was even shorter. If they had any at all.

Dipper really hated this. "Then we have to find Vexor."

"Which we don't even know where to start," Jo pointed out without looking back at them.

"He said he'd be back for us later," Roland reported, "So if he does come back, it'll be too late."

Mabel placed a hand on Dipper's shoulder. "Dipper, what are we going to do?"

Dipper shook his head. "I don't know, I'll need my journal for this."

Marco kicked the stone wall of the bridge, small cracks appearing under his foot. "Damn it!"

Jo looked at the wall, then down at her chest where Marco struck her. He was strong, too strong for someone with no obvious superpowers, but it was the fact that he was doing such damage in his frustration that made something click in her mind.

Bowing her head with a sigh, she turned around to face everyone again.

"… He'll be fine."

The others turned to her.

"What makes you say that?" Dipper asked.

Jo turned her head to glance at Roland, then addressed everyone. "Dr… Stingerborg is worried that the superpowers Roland and I have aren't awakening. He should have them, but he doesn't know how to activate them. Mine kicked in when Lars punched you, Hunterborg got his when he was being entirely outclassed by Snake Head."

And thus everyone else understood. Drew was alone with Jara and one of her Mercenary Warriors. He had no choice, either his power was going to awaken, or it wasn't, and he was going to die. His odds were fifty-fifty and nothing else.

"Will it be enough, though?" Marco asked.

Jo pursed her lips in silence for a moment. "Yesterday, with how our dad treated him, I really thought Drew's power was going to wake up… and I was scared what would happen if it did."

Dipper cocked his head to the side ever slightly. "Hm?"

"Call it me being genre-savvy, but whatever power that Drew has building inside his head…" Jo began.

@@@@@

"… Is going to be as powerful as Roland and I put together."

Jara watched Saberizer bring his sword down for the killing blow, but the expected sound of a blade cutting through armor and the thud of a head on the ground didn't follow. In fact, as she looked closer, she realized that the blade had stopped right at the Blue Stingerborg's neck, just above it in fact. She stood more upright, confusion overcoming her.

"Saberizer…?" She asked, before she heard a rattling.

It was the sound of Saberizer struggling, his armor and blade trembling as he strained to move. Something had seized his arms, a tremendous but invisible force that held them perfectly still no matter how much he pulled to free himself.

"What… what is this…?" The swordsman demanded, before he looked down at the Blue Stingerborg, who remained down on his hands and knees for a moment longer, then rose to his feet.

As Drew stood, the force holding Saberizer's arms moved them up, lifting the falchion away from his neck and above its owner's head.

"… No…" Saberizer spat. "… It… it's you?!"

The Blue Stingerborg stood upright and turned his head to look at him.

"It must be so embarrassing," Drew said at a dead calm.

Underneath his mask, his eyes were wide with an overwhelming fury–the rage burning through him and reaching out to every corner of the battlefield, enveloping Saberizer.

"To lose to someone you think is so much weaker than you."

There was a roar, as Saberizer was thrown backward from Drew. With him a shockwave blasted across the field, clearing away the mist and scattering swords both discarded and buried in every direction away from him. The shockwave struck Jara, throwing her off her perch of swords and through the air.

Tumbling end over end, Jara recovered and landed safely. She looked to her right and watched Saberizer use his falchion to grind to a halt.

"How do you think it feels, to be the weak one?" Drew asked, both Mercenaries looking up at him.

The Blue Stingerborg walked towards Saberizer, sparks popping and wisps of smoke rising from his damaged armor. "Helpless to do anything but flail, because you have all the skill, all the money, all the power."

Saberizer rose to his feet and readied his sword. "If you believe I am helpless, then prove it!"

The swords tumbling through the air around Saberizer stopped at his will. Katanas, short swords, longswords, halberds, all reorienting themselves and targeting Stingerborg before accelerating to sound-barrier shattering speeds.

Drew raised his open right hand out in front of him. "You don't understand at all."

There was another roar, as the numerous swords in the ground behind him were ripped out of it and flung into the path of the oncoming projectile blades. The air exploded in a chorus of clashing steel, as the swords met and shattered into pieces.

Jara recoiled in shock, as she watched Saberizer's own swords be used against him. "Impossible…"

Saberizer sheathed his falchion. "… It is you who does not understand!"

As he launched himself at Drew, more swords shot from the ground and flew with or past him, homing in on Drew from his left, front, and straight ahead.

Drew clenched his outstretched hand into a fist, and the swords aiming for his sides wavered then abruptly changed direction, flying into the swords surrounding Saberizer and the swordsman himself. Swords crashed and annihilated all around him, and through the flashes of exploding steel more blades broke through aimed for the swordsman's throat, chest, and limbs.

Saberizer drew his falchion, scattering the projectiles and broke from their encirclement right in front of Stingerborg. Drew watched the falchion sweep outward after sending the swords aimed for its wielder flipping away, then it suddenly disappeared from his hand, and filled his field of vision from below, aiming for his chin. Saberizer had switched hands, faster than Drew could blink, to stab him through his head.

A pair of swords crossed in front of him and deflected the falchion upward.

Saberizer was astounded, even as both his eyes lit up. "But how?!"

They flashed, and a third sword slid between him and the Blue Stingerborg to block the beams he fired. Drew hurtled backward from the explosion, skimming the ground before he righted and stopped himself. Saberizer appeared in front of him.

Swords under Drew's control plunged to impale the swordsman's back from above, but Saberizer disappeared in a flicker. Turning in place to his right, Drew swept the Stinger Blade around and brought it up to block Saberizer's diagonal slash aimed for his neck. The blades ground against one another for only an instant, before Drew completed the swing and parried Saberizer back in a shower of sparks.

"You have no skill; you can't even follow simple strikes…!" Saberizer recovered and lashed out with flickering slashes that were blocked in just as quickly by more swords Drew called to his defense.

"And now you can read my movements?!"

More of Saberizer's own swords passed narrowly over and under his arms to strike Drew's chest and face, but the Beetleborg leaped–or rather was hurtled into the air above Saberizer like he'd been picked up and tossed.

"I can feel them…" Drew admitted as he reached the top of his flight and saw numerous gleams–in the next instant dozens of swords closed around him like claws.

There was no other way to describe it. As the swords entered his range, just like Saberizer had, he could feel the blades like he was touching each one of them from tip to pommel. Just as he could feel them, he could stop them, hold them, and move them. The swords that were too fast to stop he could guide away from him, to barely miss his armored body. Those that he could stop he did completely, the air they displaced striking him and throwing him down towards the ground.

Into more swords he fell, and the swords he grasped followed, slamming into them, blocking and breaking them with the overwhelming forces he and Saberizer both exerted on them.

"They're slow…" He said as Saberizer entered his range to perform another swift draw of his falchion before he could reach the ground.

The power that flowed from him, he used it to grasp his own body and spin himself around to the right once more, with such speed and momentum that the Stinger Blade crashed into the falchion before it left the sheath.

Beneath his mask, Drew ignored the feeling of blood pouring from his nose. It didn't hurt, on the contrary it felt like pressure had been released from his head, and with the stream flowed his frustration, fear, and self-doubt. All that mattered as his blade scraped against Saberizer's and the swordsman was repulsed from him, were the cracks that he saw along the falchion's edge.

Jara watched Saberizer lose ground, his footing lost as he stumbled backward. "No… this is not right…"

The Blue Stingerborg landed and held his right arm out, the Stinger Blade's edge gleaming in the rising sun's rays as it sliced through the light.

The Magnavore commander reached for her own blade, as her breathing picked up and her hair began to rise on end. "Saberizer… don't lose to this pathetic boy…!"

"When I asked how you think it feels…!" Drew shot forward, swords coming out of the ground and accelerating with him. Two, a pair of long swords, flew straight, but a pair of rapiers and a pair of cutlasses spun to become sawblades that circled around him.

The spinning swords shot ahead and Saberizer parried two of them away. The cutlasses shattered, leaving the spinning rapiers to attack next, but Saberizer weaved around both and took his sword in both hands as he let out a yell. He swung with all his might, shattering the remaining longswords, and then clashing with Drew.

"Have you ever thought about what goes through their minds?!" Drew shouted as their swords connected.

Both warriors repelled one another, then came back in Saberizer's two handed vertical strike slamming into the flat of the Stinger Blade. Drew parried him off, then spun himself to cut into him. When Saberizer brought his sword back and blocked him, he pushed the swordsman backward.

"Their desperation?!" Drew yelled as Saberizer parried him. He stumbled, but when the swordsman tried to capitalize, Drew whipped himself around and used an upward stab to deflect the vertical stroke down and away from him.

Drew used his power to move himself out the path of Saberizer's following rising slash and used his retreat to turn around and cross swords with him again. "Their terror when they realize they cannot touch you?!"

He swung the Stinger Blade and sent Saberizer flying off his feet, his power amplifying the swing so hard he grunted from the pain–he almost ripped his own arm from the socket. "GRAH!"

Saberizer caught himself as he had repeatedly, but he was not fast enough to deflect a rapier that impaled his left arm below the shoulder.

"I've lived my entire life weak…!"

As Drew shouted, the second rapier impaled him through his right thigh, midway between his hip and knee.

"Crushed by people stronger than me!"

Saberizer ripped the rapier from his arm, and took it in his right hand. The Blue Stingerborg reached him, with his right arm held across his left shoulder, and swung with much more confidence as Saberizer lunged anticipating a full spin. The Stinger Blade crashed through and shattered the rapier before Saberizer could pull it back.

"Looking down on me the entire time!"

Instead of taking another swing, he pulled his arm back just enough to lunge in a straight line, and his blade glanced off Saberizer's shoulder armor, taking off a bit of his scarf. As the blade cut and scraped through his armor, Saberizer twirled and resheathed his blade, using the motion to turn himself and face the Stingerborg.

Drew opened his right hand, and closed it into a fist, as he seized himself with his power.

Saberizer began the draw, as Drew turned with all that speed and more. The world moved in slow motion, and he watched the middle of the Stinger Blade meet the emerging falchion, the nanothin edge slipping into one of the edge's fine cracks, and then cutting with no effort through the entire blade.

"And you're just one more!"

The falchion disintegrated, as the tip of the Stinger Blade only narrowly missed Saberizer's body, and he and Drew finished their lunges past one another.

Jara dropped her blade, the weapon clattering to the rocky soil at her feet.

Saberizer stared at his broken blade in silence.

Behind him, Drew kept his arm held outward, as its turbine opened and spun. The Stinger Blade then began to spin as well, the triangle-shaped blade becoming a solid cone of light as its RPMs rose.

"I don't care about your shame or being an embarrassment to warriors!" Drew said as the blade's light became blinding. "I'm too busy taking responsibility for my actions, fighting the monsters I brought to my world with my foolishness! THAT IS WHERE MY HEART IS, NOT IN YOUR STUPID DUEL!"

Not concerned at all if he ripped his arm off completely, Drew planted his feet and turned perfectly, bringing the glowing Stinger Blade around and through Saberizer's torso.

"BEETLE BREAK!"

The energy blade lashed through Saberizer in an instant and surged out like a wave, cutting a deep, crescent shaped gash in the ground in front of the Mercenary Warrior.

Jara had no words, she could only watch.

Saberizer's arms dropped to his sides. "Stingerborg… I was wrong about you."

He lurched forward, his weakening grip losing the hilt of his falchion. It clattered to the ground. "You… were more formidable… than I realized…"

With his last strength, he lifted his head up.

"FORGIVE MY FAILURE, GENERAL JARA!" He bellowed. "IT HAS BEEN AN HONOR!"

Shaking her head as he fell, Jara shrieked in anguish.

"SABERIZER!"

The moment his body hit the ground, the Gaohm Zone collapsed, and both she and the Blue Stingerborg fell into the swirling dimensional tunnel.

@@@@@

The audible clang of metal against the pavement alerted the others, and they all turned to see him land in the middle of the bridge–the Input Magnum and the hilt of Saberizer's falchion clattering at his feet. He was barely standing, smoke was rising from his damaged armor, but Drew had made it out of the Gaohm Zone and back to reality.

He stood upright, and looked at the clear, blue LA sky. "I… I won…"

And the next thing he knew, Roland and Jo's armored bodies crashed into his, hugging him and not caring at all for the metal separating them.

"OH MY GOD!" Jo yelled.

"DUDE, YOU MADE IT!" Roland cheetred.

Drew could feel his adrenaline stop to drop, he was already starting to hurt, but he held himself together. "Yeah, I did it… I beat Saberizer…"

Jo looked up at him. "By your-freaking-self! How?!"

"Yeah, man, what happened?" Roland pressed.

Drew leaned onto the two of them. "… Telekinesis…"

Both stopped, Roland doing a double-take. "What?"

Jo gasped, in both excitement and vindication. "No shit?"

Drew nodded, then laughed. "My superpower is Telekinesis!"

Jo rested her forehead against his shoulder and chuckled. "Well, I hope somebody picks up that phone…"

The wooziness was settling in faster, leaving Drew at a loss to her meaning. "What…?"

She then threw her head back and yelled to the others as they reached the three. "BECAUSE I FREAKING CALLED IT!"

Mabel was the first to get to them, joining on the group hug embracing Drew's back. "Welcome back, Stingerborg!"

Dipper, Marco, and Star brought up the rear, all of them smiling in relief.

"You had a heck of a fight," Dipper said. "You okay under that armor?"

Drew let out a small laugh. "I'm not going to lie… I pushed myself really hard and I'm going to look like a mess when this armor comes off."

His nose had stopped bleeding, so at least he wasn't worried about that. His right arm and everywhere that Saberizer hit him really hard was sore, though.

"I'm probably sixty percent bruises right now, and my clothes are going to need a wash" he added.

Dipper grimaced. "We'll get you treated back over at our house, then."

Mabel leaned over his shoulder. "We'll get your clothes washed too, while you recuperate."

Jo nodded. "Don't worry about Dad, either. I'll go straight home and cover for you."

"He's the furthest thing from my mind, right now," Drew assured her.

Several police cars drove onto the bridge, their lights flashing and their sirens chirping to alert. Out of the first car a tall, gray haired and mustachioed officer who didn't seem that many days off from retirement stepped out and looked with worry at the armored warriors and their teenaged friends. His fellow officers emerged from their cars, not drawing their weapons but keeping behind their doors as they took stock of the eclectic group.

Picking up his radio, he turned it to loudspeaker mode and called to the group. "Excuse me, kids, I'm Officer Ferguson with the ECPD. Unless those are costumes, I'm afraid you're in violation of the town of Echo Creek and city of Los Angeles ordinance for the operation of unauthorized combat power armor."

Marco turned to Star. "We should go."

As Star pulled out her Dimensional Scissors, Jara shot up above the bridge from the river below, and landed behind the parked police cruisers, cracking and pitting the road under her feet. As Jo, Roland, and Mabel pulled back from Drew, the Mercenary General's armor slid from her back and crashed to the ground with a bridge-shaking thud.

The police turned around, the older officer still holding his radio as his fellow policemen and women drew their weapons when Jara whipped hers out into her right hand. She ignored their shouted orders to drop her weapon and get on the ground, focused only on the Blue Stingerborg.

"You…!" She growled, energy wreathing her weapon and extending into a beam sword, then screamed.

"I will not forgive you!"

Officer Ferguson, going pale at the sight of the pavement underneath the tip of Jara's sword melting, panicked and yelled into the microphone. "Open Fire!"

Dipper shouted at Jo and Roland. "GO!"

The police opened fire and Jara ran the gauntlet of fire, leaving afterimages as she sidestepped the hail of gunfire and raised her sword to cut down the obstacles in her way.

Summoning the Hunter Claw over his arm, Roland used his super speed to catch Jara's right arm as she swung. He held her in place, but her overwhelming strength stopped him from moving. The pavement cracked under his feet, and his feet were pushed into it.

"Gah!" He grunted. "Strikerborg!"

He let her push him down, then lunged upward to push her arm straight up. Behind him, Jo vaulted over Officer Ferguson's car and fired her Input Magnum, shooting Jara's sword from her hand.

"AHH!" Jara screamed before she punched Roland down into the ground, laying him flat on his back.

More shots from Jo's Input Magnum struck Jara as she wrenched her injured hand's arm free of the claw, cutting it deeply. Looking at Jo, past her at Drew, she yelled and caught the haymaker Jo tried to swing into her with her left hand.

The shockwave blew Jara's fingerless gloves into shreds, ripped open deep wounds in her arm to her elbow, and cracked the bottom left corner of her mask.

In spite of it, she turned and kicked Jo in her left side. "I'LL KILL ALL OF YOU VILE CHILDREN!"

Jo dug her right foot against the kick and didn't budge. She felt it through the armor, but it didn't stop her from grabbing Jara's shredded arm and swinging her around to throw her off the bridge back the way she came–on the other side from the emergency personnel still down on the river below.

Just before she went off it, Jara threw out her right arm and hooked it around one of the bridge's street lamps to swing around it and fly at the Stingerborg, Dipper, Mabel, Marco, and Star.

Both Marco and Mabel stepped, forth crouched, and jumped right into Janna, Marco's flying kick and Mabel's flying drop kick connecting with her face and chest respectively. The combined blows stopped Jara cold, and as the two kicked off her and jumped away–Star threw her Wand aside and both her cheek marks and eyes lit up.

"You… you…!" Jara snarled as she fell back, enraged and anguished.

"Super…" Star said, and glowing light swirled around her hands before she thrust them both at Jara.

"RAINBOW AVALANCHE!"

There was no green glittery sludge this time, as a barrage of rainbow-colored energy beams crashed into Jara, striking her over and over as they pushed her into the sky away from the bridge. More and more beams struck her until she was completely enveloped, and the rainbow beams exploded–the blast of flames and smoke darkening the sky above the bridge.

Star stumbled forward but was caught by Marco. Panting, she looked up at the billowing smoke from the blast with him and the others. They all saw Jara's limp body fall from the smoke cloud, plummeting towards the middle of the LA River, before it disappeared in a burst of flame like every time the Magnavores teleported.

Jo helped Roland up to his feet and looked up at the explosion, then turned towards the cops to check on them. The police officers were unharmed, looking back and forth between the Beetleborgs and their unarmored companions in disbelief.

On the side-road just before the bridge, where Drew had first been dropped off from the bridge, crowds of onlookers were also watching at the bridge. Like at the school, many had their phones out, filming every second of what had just transpired as they spoke among one another. At the very front of these crowd, Heather stood in silent awe with her hands over her mouth, while Janna nodded her approval.

"… The…" Heather whispered, her voice trembling. "… The Beetleborgs… are real…?"

Marco, still holding Star, handed the Dimensional Scissors to Dipper. "Let's go."

Dipper was more than aware of the crowd as he agreed and cut open a portal to their house. As Marco led Star through it, and Mabel helped Drew, the old mustachioed police officer finally remembered he had a mic in his hand and called out to them.

"H-hey, you kids!"

Roland and Jo appearing next to him, Dipper turned to Officer Ferguson. "What?"

"… What the hell was that?" The cop asked.

Before Drew stepped through the portal, he stopped and turned to the police.

"Our responsibility," he answered.

Dipper nodded. "Basically."

With that, they all passed through the portal–which closed up and vanished.

Officer Ferguson reached up and dislodged his hat as he nervously scratched his balding scalp. He glanced left at the smoldering remains of the blimp, then right at the dissipating cloud from Star's explosion. Then he looked at the damage on the bridge caused by Jara's rampage and the battle before.

"… This is way above our paygrade…" He lamented in a very worried voice.

= - = 5-6 = - =

The ensuing of reality is pending.
 
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toots celebratory horn

Attaboy, Drew!
 
Our Turmoil
So yeah, this chapter is meant to go between Repudiation and Escalation.

= - = 5-3 = - =

|Our Turmoil|

In the parking lot in front of Britta's Tacos, Heather's Audi Convertible sat in a spot with its top raised and its windows rolled up. Its engine was running with a gentle hum barely noticed to the customers in line to the shop, providing ample air conditioning inside for Drew and Heather as they sat with comic books spread out between them. They had pulled up almost ten minutes ago, and with the line to the windows long and the sun beating down, they were talking comics to wait out the height of the rush before they'd brave the queue.

"… You like The Tick?"

"The Tick is awesome."

A few weeks ago, Drew would've been unable to function being so close with someone he crushed on so hard. But as he rationalized before and repeatedly since–hanging out with Heather was the easiest thing in his life now.

"Dude, The Tick? Seriously?" A baffled Heather asked with her head tilted slightly.

"Yes, The Tick. I think he had the best crossover out of all of them," Drew defended.

Heather gestured with the comic in her right hand. "And not Spider-Man? Really?"

Drew stood his ground. "I'll die on this hill, The Tick is hilarious, and Blue Beet trying to make sense of how his world even worked had me rolling on the floor."

Heather stared at him almost like she was rethinking letting him in her car, before she broke into a chuckle. "Respect, dude. I can't hate you for admitting that."

Drew sighed. "Great, because it's hot out today and I don't wanna walk back."

Heather laughed again, then looked out her driver-side window out in the direction of Echo Creek Academy a few blocks away. "Do you even wanna go back? I don't, with the place looking like that–Brittney's lost her mind."

He agreed with her, as he set aside the book he was reading. "Right? She's all 'Rargh, it's my school for the week so I'm gonna act like I'm an anime student council president!'"

That brought a giggle from Heather. "Yeah, it's so stupid."

"Between her and the Vanderhoffs, how did our school end up with the worst rich kids?" He asked.

Heather agreed with an eager nod. "I know! I saw Van freaking out in the parking lot this morning. He was kicking Skeeves' car door so hard he was leaving dents, and Skeeves was sitting in it!"

Drew gaped at her in stunned confusion. "Really?"

"No lie, he just sat there watching him while he ate a breakfast burrito. It actually took Miss Skullnick roaring at Van to go to class to make him stop."

That had Drew shaking his head. "Thank goodness he and his brother haven't been on my case lately."

"They're still beefing with Dipper, I think. That's probably why."

Drew sighed. Whatever had Van that angry was probably going to come back at Dipper later. He hoped he was able to warn him before that. Still…

"I can't say I miss the attention," he admitted.

Heather nodded. "Mmhm! Trip doesn't bother me, either. Hasn't tried to talk when we pass in the halls, he just turns his nose up at me like I'm missing out."

Drew let out a short laugh. "It's better than him trying to ask you out."

"Yep! I will take being his sour grapes any day."

The two share a gentle laugh, then Heather leaned forward on her steering wheel, still smiling at him.

"But yeah… forget the Super Rich Kids and their crazy school, do you wanna just skip the rest of class today? We can go back to Zoom, eat our lunch, and read our books there."

Drew let out a somewhat more bitter laugh. "I want to, but my dad's grounded me for the last two times I dipped out."

And as much as he wanted to go read comics all day with Heather… he really had to make the next time he cut class count. Nothing less than a Magnavore attack so he could make it to the weekend without trouble.

Heather did a double-take. "The last two times…? When you were out helping Nano and Mr. Pines?"

She sat up, with open concern all over her face. "Why would your dad ground you for being excused from school to do community service? That doesn't make any sense."

Drew hesitated for a moment, wondering if Heather found it too unbelievable or too strange, but more importantly he wondered if he'd said too much. In the same moment he chose to forge ahead, knowing that it'd do no good to try to walk it back.

Talking to her was so easy.

"Yeah, my dad's kind of an asshole," he began, before he amended it. "No, an asshole wouldn't want to be compared to my dad."

He'd never seen Heather go so pale before, or her voice tremble with worry as she spoke. "Please tell me you're joking."

Drew sat back in his seat and sighed. "I wish I could explain it easily, I don't know how to put this… but my Dad hates me."

At her uncomprehending expression, he elaborates. "When he talks to me, it's always down to me. He doesn't have any particular nice things to say about my reading comics or spending time at Zoom. He criticizes everything I do, even when I do something right. And when bad things happen to me, like when Trip and Van bully me… he blames me for it."

He felt really self-conscious all of sudden. "Look, I'm sorry I dropped that–that was way too heavy..."

"Does he hit you? My God, does he hit Jo?" Heather asked, not even flinching.

Drew shook his head. "I don't think Nano would let him live if he so much as thought about hitting any of us."

The bitterness came back. "And actually, he treats Jo very differently from me. She likes everything I do, you know that, but he doesn't treat her like she's an embarrassment. It's always standards and double standards… I'm never good enough at something, and if I am, then Jo's better."

Heather thought about that. "Whoa… is that why she's in the same grade as us?"

He sighed through his nose and nodded. "Yeah… he doesn't hesitate to remind me that, either. Heck, part of why I'm grounded is because Jo went with me to do Community Service."

Looking down at their pile of comics, the Beetleborgs #1 safely wrapped up on the top, he continued. "I'm actually not supposed to go to the dance Saturday after being grounded, but I'm going anyway. Because I want to go, to help Roland with his prank, but mainly because he doesn't want me to go–and doesn't think I would go."

Heather twisted her tightened grip on her steering wheel, after hearing that. She looked away from Drew, out the front of her car and just sat there in quiet deliberation. He watched her seethe quietly for a moment, maybe a little more, before she closed her eyes and let out a breath that she started holding in that time.

"You should tell Nano or Mr. Pines about this, you know they'd never let him get away with this crap," she finally said.

Drew had thought about that plenty of times. "Man… I really should, but if there's one thing that still bothers me after everything else, it's Dad convincing them that I'm just lying and being a punk because he's just being strict."

He shook his head. "I mean, shoot. Even telling you this, I feel like I'm coming off as some entitled loser who's mad because his dad thinks he wastes his time on comic books and his little sister's in the same grade as him."

Heather whirled on him. "Don't ever think that! I believe what you're saying!"

Drew fell quiet, as Heather continued. "I think this is the first time we've talked about something other than comic books. But don't think I've never paid attention. You're always at Zoom, you don't talk about yourself at all unless it's to Roland or Jo, and when we talk there's always something going on in your head–like you're overthinking or doubting every word before you say it."

"… Am I that easy to read?" He asked, feeling almost sick that he was this visible.

He wondered further, if this was why Trip and Van went after him so hard. After a moment, he decided they were both too up their own butts to notice anything but their small intestines.

"It's more like," Heather began hesitantly, before just saying it, "I like you enough to notice these things… so I worry."

She smiled again and placed her hand over his. "And I'm actually really happy that you trust me enough with something this heavy."

The smile was gone just as quick, but only long enough for her to add: "Well, I'm also really angry at your dad and I wish I could make him disappear."

She patted his hand. "But that'd be too good for him. If you ever need backup standing up to him? Let me know, I'll be there with a baseball bat."

Drew was touched by her reassurance, and he smiled back. "Well, except for this weekend, at least."

She laughed. "Yeah, but it's just a few days. And besides, I'm not the only one who has your back."

Heather was right, Drew had Roland, Jo, Nano, and his new friends, too. He nodded in agreement to her, and both shared warm smiles once more–her hand not leaving his–before she blinked once, looked past him, and jumped in surprise.

"Jeez!" She yelped.

Drew looked back and jumped himself. "What the-?!"

Janna was leaning against his window, her face almost right up against the glass, staring wide-eyed at both of them with one hand on the glass and the other holding a taco she was taking a bite out of with the corner of her mouth.

Drew hit the window controls and rolled it down. "Janna, what are you doing?!"

"You can't ditch school on an empty stomach, Sad Kid," she replied. "Bold choice of a makeout spot, by the way. Didn't think you'd be into that kind of thing."

Heather leaned over to address her. "We weren't making out…"

She stopped and realized that all their conversation in a buttoned-up car with the AC going had fogged up her windows. "… Oh my God…"

Drew stared at Janna blankly. "Janna."

"Sad Kid," Janna responded, and Heather perked up at the nickname, arching an eyebrow.

"Seriously, what are you doing here?" He reiterated.

Janna dug into the pocket of her jacket after having another bite of taco. "Word on the street is that you got your phone taken by your dad."

She then produced a glossy, dark blue smartphone that looked way more expensive and advanced than the one he owned. She stuck it in the window to offer it to him, seemingly oblivious to Heather watching this entire exchange with increasing surprise and confusion.

"Consider this a solution to your problem."

Drew was just as confused as he took it from her and started it up. A gray startup screen came on, displaying a logo for the OS and provider of the phone, dubbed Hyuuga Light Umbra.

He realized that this was an encrypted phone.

"… Why are you giving this to me…?"

Janna looked him straight in the eye. "Would you believe that it's because I have a crush on you?"

"No," both he and Heather replied.

Janna Ordonia's reputation preceded her… and she liked that.

"Okay, full disclosure. Roland told me about your dad taking your phone for BS reasons and asked me to hook you up, so I used my myriad of ways to get you one. Don't worry about paying for it, he owes me a favor now and that's good enough for me."

Seeing that Drew was getting a phone out of this strange encounter, Heather smiled and asked with a teasing tone. "So how'd you get it?"

"What are you implying, that I used some magical means to sneak into the back of an Electronics store and make off with some unsold product?" She asked.

Drew did a double-take between Janna and his phone.

Janna leaned down onto the car door to stick her head into the car, her laid back smile holding a sinister undertone. "No, this phone's legit."

With her taco-less hand, she patted Drew atop his head while looking at Heather, gauging her reaction. "I'm not going to get your man here in trouble."

She looked at him, her hand still atop his head, then back at her. "He's too cute for juvie, right?"

Drew finally flinched away from her head-patting and gave her a wary look. Heather, on the other hand, burst into a gentle laugh. "He totally is!"

His face colored as he looked back and forth to their smiling faces, and he sank into his seat. Heaven forbid he complained, though, being teased by pretty girls was better than dealing with the usual bullies in his life.

"Thank you," he said to Janna, for the phone and for brightening the mood.

Her smile became more of a smirk at his reaction. "Think everything of it."

She polished off her taco then brushed her hand off on her jacket. "Anyway, that's my deed of the day."

"So where are you headed from here?" Heather asked.

Janna responded with a slight shrug. "Dunno, but I know I'd rather be anywhere but at school right now."

A boom echoed through the air, and Janna looked up over the roof of the car. Her eyes widened in surprise. "… Man, don't make me take that back…"


= - = 5-3 = - =

The real messed up thing is how important THIS scene is overall to Drew's character development and I absolutely WHIFFED IT.
 
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Codes and Geass Cast Commentary 7 New
Dun dun dun dun, charging my react.

"… You like The Tick?"

"The Tick is awesome."

A few weeks ago, Drew would've been unable to function being so close with someone he crushed on so hard. But as he rationalized before and repeatedly since–hanging out with Heather was the easiest thing in his life now.

"Dude, The Tick? Seriously?" A baffled Heather asked with her head tilted slightly.

"Yes, The Tick. I think he had the best crossover out of all of them," Drew defended.

Heather gestured with the comic in her right hand. "And not Spider-Man? Really?"

Drew stood his ground. "I'll die on this hill, The Tick is hilarious, and Blue Beet trying to make sense of how his world even worked had me rolling on the floor."

Nunnally: The who?

Alice: I dunno. *shrugs*

Trollouche: The Tick...is different. Imagine a guy dressed in a blue suit with antenna on the top. He's super strong, super tough, and super deranged. He makes no sense and thinks he's in a theatrical production all the time.

Kallen: So kinda like you? x3

Nunnally: *laughing out loud*

Trollouche: I, am actually entertaining. :D

Alice: Suuuuure you are. *cough* Drama queen. *cough* :p

Heather laughed again, then looked out her driver-side window out in the direction of Echo Creek Academy a few blocks away. "Do you even wanna go back? I don't, with the place looking like that–Brittney's lost her mind."

He agreed with her, as he set aside the book he was reading. "Right? She's all 'Rargh, it's my school for the week so I'm gonna act like I'm an anime student council president!'"

That brought a giggle from Heather. "Yeah, it's so stupid."

"Between her and the Vanderhoffs, how did our school end up with the worst rich kids?" He asked.

Heather agreed with an eager nod. "I know! I saw Van freaking out in the parking lot this morning. He was kicking Skeeves' car door so hard he was leaving dents, and Skeeves was sitting in it!"

Drew gaped at her in stunned confusion. "Really?"

"No lie, he just sat there watching him while he ate a breakfast burrito. It actually took Miss Skullnick roaring at Van to go to class to make him stop."

Milly: Hey! :mad: I am an anime student council president! And I have never pulled a rude and inconsiderate power trip like this!

Rivalz: It's true. When Milly has a power trip, it's more..zany and sexy?

Trollouche: It also usually costs far far more than anyone would like to admit. :3

Rivalz: Still fun though. :)

Milly: See? Now I'd like an apology for that rude remark. I accept handshakes, massages, kisses, and other forms of contrition. :D

Rivalz: Wait, really? This guy was denting the Principal's car and the guy was just ignoring it? :confused:

Milly: Grandpa would probably be shocked for a few minutes at someone just going up and doing that. And then he'd get out and bill the idiot's parents for repairs, or just expel the idiot. ¬_¬

Heather nodded. "Mmhm! Trip doesn't bother me, either. Hasn't tried to talk when we pass in the halls, he just turns his nose up at me like I'm missing out."

Drew let out a short laugh. "It's better than him trying to ask you out."

"Yep! I will take being his sour grapes any day."

The two share a gentle laugh, then Heather leaned forward on her steering wheel, still smiling at him.

Kaguya: Oh joy, entitled misogyny. What fun. ¬_¬

Milly: Yep, some guys just can't buy a clue.

Kallen: Pity she can't just punch his smug ass. -_-

Milly: This guy is like the noble heirs at Ashford with too much money, not enough sense, and very tiny penises. Hehehehehe. x3

Kaguya: They really have good chemistry together.

Milly: They do! It's adorable! :D

Drew let out a somewhat more bitter laugh. "I want to, but my dad's grounded me for the last two times I dipped out."

And as much as he wanted to go read comics all day with Heather… he really had to make the next time he cut class count. Nothing less than a Magnavore attack so he could make it to the weekend without trouble.

Heather did a double-take. "The last two times…? When you were out helping Nano and Mr. Pines?"

She sat up, with open concern all over her face. "Why would your dad ground you for being excused from school to do community service? That doesn't make any sense."

Drew hesitated for a moment, wondering if Heather found it too unbelievable or too strange, but more importantly he wondered if he'd said too much. In the same moment he chose to forge ahead, knowing that it'd do no good to try to walk it back.

Talking to her was so easy.

"Yeah, my dad's kind of an asshole," he began, before he amended it. "No, an asshole wouldn't want to be compared to my dad."

He'd never seen Heather go so pale before, or her voice tremble with worry as she spoke. "Please tell me you're joking."

Alice: Oh boy... :(

Nunnally: Education is important, but this is wrong.

Trollouche: At least his parents are trying to help with tough love-

Drew sat back in his seat and sighed. "I wish I could explain it easily, I don't know how to put this… but my Dad hates me."

At her uncomprehending expression, he elaborates. "When he talks to me, it's always down to me. He doesn't have any particular nice things to say about my reading comics or spending time at Zoom. He criticizes everything I do, even when I do something right. And when bad things happen to me, like when Trip and Van bully me… he blames me for it."

He felt really self-conscious all of sudden. "Look, I'm sorry I dropped that–that was way too heavy..."

"Does he hit you? My God, does he hit Jo?" Heather asked, not even flinching.

Drew shook his head. "I don't think Nano would let him live if he so much as thought about hitting any of us."

The bitterness came back. "And actually, he treats Jo very differently from me. She likes everything I do, you know that, but he doesn't treat her like she's an embarrassment. It's always standards and double standards… I'm never good enough at something, and if I am, then Jo's better."

Heather thought about that. "Whoa… is that why she's in the same grade as us?"

He sighed through his nose and nodded. "Yeah… he doesn't hesitate to remind me that, either. Heck, part of why I'm grounded is because Jo went with me to do Community Service."

Looking down at their pile of comics, the Beetleborgs #1 safely wrapped up on the top, he continued. "I'm actually not supposed to go to the dance Saturday after being grounded, but I'm going anyway. Because I want to go, to help Roland with his prank, but mainly because he doesn't want me to go–and doesn't think I would go."

Trollouche: .....I stand corrected. -_-

Kallen: Did your father ever...?

Trollouche: No. Charles is many things, but physically abusive he was not. Granted, he tried to choke me towards the end, but we were both adults at that point.

Kallen: Your standards for behavior are so fucking skewed. ¬_¬

Rivalz: Dude, hit that party and enjoy yourself. Screw dickhead dads. :D

Heather twisted her tightened grip on her steering wheel, after hearing that. She looked away from Drew, out the front of her car and just sat there in quiet deliberation. He watched her seethe quietly for a moment, maybe a little more, before she closed her eyes and let out a breath that she started holding in that time.

"You should tell Nano or Mr. Pines about this, you know they'd never let him get away with this crap," she finally said.

Drew had thought about that plenty of times. "Man… I really should, but if there's one thing that still bothers me after everything else, it's Dad convincing them that I'm just lying and being a punk because he's just being strict."

He shook his head. "I mean, shoot. Even telling you this, I feel like I'm coming off as some entitled loser who's mad because his dad thinks he wastes his time on comic books and his little sister's in the same grade as him."

Heather whirled on him. "Don't ever think that! I believe what you're saying!"

Drew fell quiet, as Heather continued. "I think this is the first time we've talked about something other than comic books. But don't think I've never paid attention. You're always at Zoom, you don't talk about yourself at all unless it's to Roland or Jo, and when we talk there's always something going on in your head–like you're overthinking or doubting every word before you say it."

Rivalz: Given the way the guy acts, I kinda don't think people like Mr. Pines would buy it.

Euphemia: He should be ashamed of himself making his son feel this way. :mad:

Trollouche: Is she alright? Heather seems quite troubled by this. :confused:

CC: Can't you see it? She's in love with him and it's causing her agony. It's quite romantic. :3

CC: And besides, he sounds so much like your lost boytoy. ;)

Trollouche: ....Oh god he does. :(

"… Am I that easy to read?" He asked, feeling almost sick that he was this visible.

He wondered further, if this was why Trip and Van went after him so hard. After a moment, he decided they were both too up their own butts to notice anything but their small intestines.

"It's more like," Heather began hesitantly, before just saying it, "I like you enough to notice these things… so I worry."

She smiled again and placed her hand over his. "And I'm actually really happy that you trust me enough with something this heavy."

The smile was gone just as quick, but only long enough for her to add: "Well, I'm also really angry at your dad and I wish I could make him disappear."

She patted his hand. "But that'd be too good for him. If you ever need backup standing up to him? Let me know, I'll be there with a baseball bat."

Drew was touched by her reassurance, and he smiled back. "Well, except for this weekend, at least."

Nunnally: D'awww.

Alice: Heh, that's cute.

Euphemia: It's like a soap opera drama come true! :D

Kallen: Even I gotta admit that was a nice gesture. *claps*

Heather was right, Drew had Roland, Jo, Nano, and his new friends, too. He nodded in agreement to her, and both shared warm smiles once more–her hand not leaving his–before she blinked once, looked past him, and jumped in surprise.

"Jeez!" She yelped.

Drew looked back and jumped himself. "What the-?!"

Janna was leaning against his window, her face almost right up against the glass, staring wide-eyed at both of them with one hand on the glass and the other holding a taco she was taking a bite out of with the corner of her mouth.

Leloucia: Interrupting Janna says what? ;)

Euphemia: Eep! Where did she come from? :eek:

Leloucia: She's being a voyeur. :3

"You can't ditch school on an empty stomach, Sad Kid," she replied. "Bold choice of a makeout spot, by the way. Didn't think you'd be into that kind of thing."

Heather leaned over to address her. "We weren't making out…"

She stopped and realized that all their conversation in a buttoned-up car with the AC going had fogged up her windows. "… Oh my God…"

Drew stared at Janna blankly. "Janna."

"Sad Kid," Janna responded, and Heather perked up at the nickname, arching an eyebrow.

Euphemia: Oh this is like that movie Titanic about the ship and... *blushes*

Leloucia: Yes, it's that scene. :sneaky:

CC: Not yet anyway, but it certainly looked that way on the outside. :sneaky:

"… Why are you giving this to me…?"

Janna looked him straight in the eye. "Would you believe that it's because I have a crush on you?"

"No," both he and Heather replied.

Janna Ordonia's reputation preceded her… and she liked that.

"Okay, full disclosure. Roland told me about your dad taking your phone for BS reasons and asked me to hook you up, so I used my myriad of ways to get you one. Don't worry about paying for it, he owes me a favor now and that's good enough for me."

Leloucia: *sly smile* Is it a lie if you say something true knowing no one will believe you?

Kallen: You'd fucking know, wouldn't you? :rolleyes:

Leloucia: Ouch, but touche.

Kallen: That being said, taking the guy's phone away when there are fucking monsters around? Dick move, and shows how little he gives a shit about his kid. :mad:

"What are you implying, that I used some magical means to sneak into the back of an Electronics store and make off with some unsold product?" She asked.

Drew did a double-take between Janna and his phone.

Janna leaned down onto the car door to stick her head into the car, her laid back smile holding a sinister undertone. "No, this phone's legit."

With her taco-less hand, she patted Drew atop his head while looking at Heather, gauging her reaction. "I'm not going to get your man here in trouble."

She looked at him, her hand still atop his head, then back at her. "He's too cute for juvie, right?"

Drew finally flinched away from her head-patting and gave her a wary look. Heather, on the other hand, burst into a gentle laugh. "He totally is!"

His face colored as he looked back and forth to their smiling faces, and he sank into his seat. Heaven forbid he complained, though, being teased by pretty girls was better than dealing with the usual bullies in his life.

Zero: I don't see why he's squeamish about something "falling off the back of a truck." God knows I acquired various supplies that way. :rolleyes:

Cornelia: Procurement is an acquired skill, some people simply aren't good at it or understand the need.

Cornelia: One does not ask questions of the man doing your procurement so long as trouble does not come knocking for you and the supplies are good. ;)

Zero: He's just now learning an important fact. Namely, that being a decent guy DOES occasionally pay off because people find that attractive. ;)

"Thank you," he said to Janna, for the phone and for brightening the mood.

Her smile became more of a smirk at his reaction. "Think everything of it."

She polished off her taco then brushed her hand off on her jacket. "Anyway, that's my deed of the day."

"So where are you headed from here?" Heather asked.

Janna responded with a slight shrug. "Dunno, but I know I'd rather be anywhere but at school right now."

A boom echoed through the air, and Janna looked up over the roof of the car. Her eyes widened in surprise. "… Man, don't make me take that back…"

Trollouche: Could be worse.

Nunnally: How so?

Trollouche: It could be Author-kun writing this. :sneaky:

Nunnally: Eep. :eek:

Milly: Janna's very obvious flirting going over his head aside, Drew was handling that pretty well. :3

Kallen: Not the time, Milly. It's monster fighting time. :cool:
 
Volume 5 END: Aftermath
Boy Howdy it's been a bit, this chapter was huge and remains huge. The immediate fallout of the battle is here, and new grave warnings hang over everyone.

= - = 5-7 = - =


|Aftermath|

At his home, Shermie stood in the backyard and watched the Magnavore Jet Fighters in silence. Even as his phone in his pocket buzzed, then rang angrily with calls that he hoped were from Nano and not his son and daughter-in-law, he waited and watched. It was a reassuring sight at least, when the Red Striker AV rushed out and easily destroyed the raiding fighters. Even more reassuring, he thought, was when the destroyed fighters just disintegrated and burned into nothing–instead of crashing into the town below as balls of flame.

But in the end, those were small comforts.

When the last fighter was gone and the Red Striker AV disappeared, he turned and went to the icebox on his patio. He pulled out several six-packs, some of soda, some of beer, and set them down on his picnic table. Then he turned and got the grill started and threw burgers and franks on the heat. They were almost done when he heard the familiar chime of Star's Scissors opening a portal in the backyard. He adjusted his bowtie and turned to watch them file in one by one.

"You kids look like the boys coming back from the '67 war," he greeted them.

"I feel like I fought the '67 war," Mabel replied while she helped Drew away from the portal to join Jo and Roland.

She raised a fist and pumped it. "… And won!"

Star and Marco sat on the bench, and she reached for the nearest cold bottle she could find and effortlessly popped the cap off with her thumb. She took a gulp from it and made a face.

"Urk, beer."

After letting the taste settle on her tongue, she resumed chugging the bottle down.

Shermie smiled at her reaction, moreso at Marco's switch from surprise to concern at her intake. "I remember my first beer with my old man in Jersey. Compared to the swill we had back then, this stuff is milk and honey."

Star lowered the empty bottle from her lips, and reached for a soda next. "It tastes better than mashed corn juice."

Mabel let go of Drew. "Are you good?"

"Yeah, I can stand," he assured her.

"I'm going to get my first aid kit, you've earned my best band-aids. You're going to get all the bunnies!" Mabel assured him before she disappeared into the house.

Dipper meanwhile had opened another portal, and Misao emerged from it. She had greeted him with a smile that lasted all of a half-second before she noticed the Red Strikerborg standing off to the side with her fellow Beetleborgs.

Jo noticed Misao and rolled her eyes. "We should change."

Roland agreed. "Yeah, I'm starving, man. Didn't get to eat my meat loaf."

All three Beetleborgs held their hands out and said together. "Back Blast."

In a flash they transformed out of their armors, and Dipper, Misao, Marco, Star, and Shermie recoiled in surprise just as Mabel came out the door.

"Okay, so I used up all my bunny band-aids, but I have plenty of other shapes, like cats, pigs, birds, and…"

She saw Drew and yelled. "HOLY COW!"

It was… bad. Bruises covered his right arm and went down his neck and collarbone. Blood soaked the lower half of his face, neck, stained his blue t-shirt. His right eye was entirely bloodshot, his iris standing out stark against the crimson.

Roland turned to him, wide-eyed with worry. "Man, are you okay?!"

"There's no way that doesn't hurt," Marco said.

Drew brought a hand to his face and closed his right eye. As he rotated his right arm and felt the soreness catch up with him, he shook his head. "It doesn't feel as bad as it looks–yet."

Roland was particularly worried about the state of Drew's eye. "Yeah, but when it does, that's gonna hurt for a while."

"What did Saberizer do to you?!" Jo demanded.

"You look like you did the Running of the Bulls–all over your face," Shermie added.

Drew shook his head. "He hit really hard… but the worst of this was from me using my power to keep up with him."

Dipper walked over to him, already understanding. "… You used your telekinesis to move yourself."

Shermie did a double-take, his bowtie nearly popping off from his sudden movement. "Telekinesis?!"

Drew looked over at the picnic table and nodded. One of the sodas lifted from its cardboard six-pack box and floated over to him. Catching it in his left hand, he stared at the bottlecap, and it popped off and flipped before it froze in the air. Everyone watched the bottle cap fold itself in half, then in half again as Drew chugged down the soda. As soon as the bottle was empty, he let the bottle go and it floated into the box. The bottle cap followed, unfolding back to its original shape and sealing the mouth of the bottle.

Star stood up. "Whoa…"

Dipper was mesmerized. "Do you realize how precise you are?"

Drew nodded. "Yeah, it's… really hard to describe. When the power's on, I can feel everything around me out to a certain point. Whatever I can feel, I can manipulate it."

Dipper was trying hard not to get too excited at the chance to study someone with telekinesis who didn't want to kill him. He caught himself almost drooling as he watched him return the empty bottle back to the six pack.

"We need to know what you all can do with your powers, more than ever," he said diplomatically.

Roland agreed. "Oh yeah, knowing what kind of limits we have is gonna make a huge difference."

Jo didn't forget Saberizer getting one over on her and Roland–even out-running his super speed. "Even with our powers, any monsters they summon might be able to beat us."

Mabel brought Drew over to the picnic table and sat him down. "All right, sit tight so I can play doctor."

Misao blurted out. "In front of everyone?"

Dipper turned his head to stare at her. "Don't make it weird."

"Now take off your shirt," Mabel ordered Drew as she opened her first aid kit.

Misao snickered and Dipper palmed his face. Even after that bit of effervescence though, she still shot a cold glance back at Jo to see how she reacted.

A hard look back was Jo's reply, before she turned to Roland. "Do you have another dash in you? I need to head home and tell my parents I don't know where Drew is."

Roland could feel the tension in the backyard shift downward with Jo's announcement. "Yeah, good call."

Jo shot Misao, Marco, and Star all one final defiant side-eye. "I bet."

She avoided looking at Dipper entirely.

Roland placed a hand on Jo's shoulder, and both disappeared from where they stood.

"Dipper," Mabel said as she began bandaging up Drew.

He turned to her. "Yeah?"

"Talk to that girl and sort this out before she turns from you at twelve to Gideon at ten."

Removing his lumberjack hat, Dipper rubbed his scalp, ruffling up his hair in the process. "I'll have the perfect chance to do it Saturday. It'll be just her, Marco, and me up there at Hillhurst."

Star had finished her third bottle of soda by this point and set it down. "I'll be there, too."

Misao gasped. "You're not going to crash the dance?"

Star shook her head, as she looked down at her wand sitting on the table in front of her. "I'm done antagonizing Brittney for a while. Not that I have a choice, she banned me from school until Monday."

The foreign exchange student turned to Mabel. "What happened?"

Mabel winced. "Well…"

Dipper had no interest in diplomacy here. "Brittney cussed her out in front of everyone, and then I told her off and got banned from school, too."

Misao's expression darkened, her gray eyes almost black as anger surged through her. Rather than say anything, she sat down at the picnic table and served herself a beer.

Shermie set down hot dogs and burger patties for them to help themselves to. "I'll try talking to the Wongs about their daughter's attitude. You're right about one thing, go to that dance and you'll be as welcome as a Jew at the Vatican."

Star looked up at Shermie. "I don't know what either of those are, but if the Vatican really hates Jews, you're right."

Shermie gave Star a grandfatherly smile. "Did you say you were sorry to her?"

"Yeah," she answered, "She didn't take it well."

Shermie rested a hand atop her head and ruffled her hair in a kindly fashion. "Things don't always turn out like we hope, girlchik. It's the fact that you said your piece and understand you should leave her be that's important."

He gave her a wink as he added. "The important thing is not making the same mistakes over and over again."

Star smiled up at Shermie and let out a breath like a weight had been lifted off her shoulders. "Thank you, Mr. Pines."

"Yer welcome, kiddo." He walked back over the grill and turned to face them. "And kids? I think it's time I broke out some of my old army manuals, and gave you kids a crash course on tactics and all that other army jargon that's been crammed into my head since the 60s."

Dipper chimed in. "We could stand to get some weapons, too. I didn't feel right just standing off on the side today."

Mabel brightened up, and accidentally tightened the bandage she was wrapping around Drew's arm, making him yelp. "CAN WE USE THE SCHWANZSTUCKER?!"

Drew recovered from the squeeze and stared at her. "The… what?"

Star looked at Marco for clarification, and he just shrugged his shoulders.

Shermie laughed at his granddaughter's enthusiasm. "That and more. I got a whole arsenal collecting dust–but yer gonna learn how to use it before you go running off to war."

Misao turned to Dipper. "Will guns even work on the Magnavores?"

Dipper nodded towards Marco as he replied. "Guns should hit almost as hard as he can, so they'll be able to hurt them."

Drew looked at Marco. "What's up with that, anyway?"

Marco cocked an eyebrow. "What's with what? The karate?"

"Yeah," Drew said. "I can get us having superpowers, and Star having magic… but where do you dig down for what you do?"

Marco stared at Drew for so long he blinked twice before he looked down at his hands. "I don't know, I just use my karate and it works."

He pointed over to Mabel. "Mabel was hitting Typhus just as hard as I was."

At that, Mabel laughed. "Well, I did fight a unicorn, once. And I took kickboxing classes with Dipper for years."

Star gasped in shock. "… Why would you fight a unicorn?"

Mabel's eyes narrowed. "Good reasons."

Shermie spoke up, drawing everyone's attention back to him. "Ehh, don't worry about how Marco can fight as well as he can. Just be glad he's on your side in it."

He rubbed his chin, humming. "I knew a guy back in the IDF who used to break boulders by punchin' them, and we were just glad he was using those hands to break tanks!"

Marco whistled. "Wow, like… actual tanks?"

The old man laughed. "Ha! He bent the barrel of a Syrian T-55 while the crew was still in it. They let him keep it after that!"

Star turned to Marco. "Earth's just full of super strong people, huh? So much for this dimension being boring."

He nodded. "Guess so."

Misao threw in her two cents. "Then finding more people who are able to help us fight would be good, ja?"

Drew let out a sigh. "I'd rather no one else get involved."

Shermie took off his glasses, took a cloth from his shirt pocket and began rubbing the lenses. "I've got some bad news for you kids. I was hoping we wouldn't have to talk about this, but after today… John Q. Public ain't gonna be able to keep their noses out of this stuff, and even worse? Uncle Sam's going to be looking this way and wondering what the heck is going on. Help or hassle is coming your way whether you want it or not."

Remembering all those phones pointed at the fights, Dipper grimly nodded. "Darn it, you're right."

Shermie put his glasses back on. "You're gonna need somebody to vamoose on over to the police station or city hall and let them know they're outta their league with these yahoos. Because if we don't, there's gonna be a lotta people getting in the way, getting hurt, getting taken hostage, or worse."

For dramatic effect, he made a cutting gesture across his neck, before he continued.

"As for ol' Uncle Sam? I can't tell you how to deal with that. I wouldn't even let the guys I might know inside The Company know what's going on here."

Misao hummed. "The company… I should be contacting mine."

Shermie grimaced mildly at that prospect. "I'd be careful about that one, too, Misao. If you kids start making the six o'clock news regularly for blowing up city blocks, it'll put a bullseye on all of us."

Drew looked down. "There's so much to think about, now…"

Star spoke. "Then let's not think about it for a while. We've defeated the bad guys, saved the day, and we can all sit down and eat meat cooked over a fire–like all victorious warriors."

She turned to Marco, smiling. "We earned it, right?"

Marco agreed with a nod and a warm smile back. "We definitely did."

Shermie laughed and picked up a beer. "You heard the Princess, pop a brewski and relax!"

All bandaged up, looking like a mummy from the right side of his face down, Drew faced the table and put his head down on his folded left arm. "Yeah, it was a great win."

With agreement all around, and Marco specifically inquiring to Shermie about this tank manhandler back in the old country, Drew used his telekinesis and retrieved the phone Janna gave him from his pocket. To his curiosity he found he could even operate the phone's touch screen with his power, as he made his way to the contacts and found that the numbers of their group were already added to the contacts.

His brows rising, he smiled a little and sent a text straight to Janna.

Drew said:
Hey, thank you again for the phone. It's way nicer than my old one.

After a few moments, a reply came.

Janna Banana said:
Think everything of it. Im still with Heather and shes still freaking out wondering where you are.

Drew mulled over that before he replied.

Drew said:
Tell her that I got banged up, but the Blue Stingerborg saved me.

There was another pause.

Janna Banana said:
Sure you don't wanna just tell her?

Drew said:
I think she should stay out of this, so she doesn't get pulled into any fights. It's for the best.

Janna Banana said:
Cool, Ill get you all to myself.

His face flushed, and he rolled his eyes.

Drew said:
You're terrible.

Janna Banana said:
Im your God, Sad Kid :smug:

Setting down his phone, Drew raised his head and served himself a hot dog, using his telekinesis to top it with cheese, relish, and mustard. Without thinking he reached for it with his right hand and winced in pain from the effort of lifting it. The pain seared, but it wasn't as intense as he thought it'd be.

He wouldn't forget this fight for a while, or how much he gave to win it and overcome someone who was stronger than him in every possible way by himself.

Saberizer was wrong about him.

But Drew was right about Saberizer.

For the first time, I've beaten something I shouldn't have.

@@@@@

Just down the street from the cul-de-sac she lived on, Jo stood with her arms folded and her back to Roland, who was taking a breather against a stop sign. She glanced back at him, before she looked ahead at her house. That final, tense look she exchanged with Misao had cut deep into her, and made the seething over what the foreign exchange girl had done during her very first sortie in the Red Striker AV.

"If you don't have anything to say, you can go," she snapped at him.

Roland rolled his eyes. "What would me saying anything more accomplish? You're the one who has things to say."

"What, like 'I'm sorry?' Did you not hear Misao mess around with my weapons in the middle of a battle and act all high and mighty about it?"

Roland argued back. "She told you not to shoot at the ground."

She stepped back up to him, hissing. "She went and messed with my weapons, and you're on me for endangering the team with over drama."

Roland threw up his hands. "Motherfuckin'..."

He stepped away from the stop sign, then pointed up at it. "You need to do this and work your shit out, Josephine, I'm more than done."

With that, Roland marched away. Jo burned a seething glare into the back of his head, until he finally flickered and vanished.

Shoving her hands into the pockets of her shorts, she turned and stomped off to the house–all but kicking the door open and stepping inside to find her mother and father watching the news. She stopped and watched, as amateur film showed the widest possible shot of heroic aerial action above the town. The talking presenters were speculating over what had happened, unsure of what was going on but agreeing that the blimp wasn't involved, and Jo's intervention likely stopped the unknown craft from attacking other aircraft in the area.

Mrs. McCormick was a blonde, green-eyed woman. standing just a little under her husband's height. Her long hair was tied in a ponytail that went straight down her back, and she wore clothes as plain as her husband's, a cream skirt and a pink blouse. She stood just behind where her husband sat in the living room, enough to the side and behind him that she is out of his line of sight. When Jo's foot shoved the door open, she visibly jumped, and slowly looked in her direction.

"Jo? Where's your brother?" She asked in a quiet, measured speaking voice well-suited for the indoors.

Jo slipped off her shoes going one foot over the other. "It was really hectic; I haven't seen him since school let out."

Her mother turned and looked at Mr. McCormick, who leaned forward in his chair and turned to look at his daughter. "You haven't seen him? Or he told you to say that?"

She locked gazes with him as she answered. "Everything happened during lunch; I lost track of him and walked straight home."

Mr. McCormick weighed her words, then sat back. "I see."

Jo turned for the stairs and had just crossed the dining room to get to them, when her father spoke again.

"Your brother's on very thin ice."

She stopped barely halfway up the stairs and looked back at him. He was now looking at the television.

"If he keeps cutting class, and acting like he doesn't live under my rules, I'll feel inclined to make sure his stuff is moved out onto the street with him." he added. "The stuff he needs; all that comic book nonsense can go where it belongs."

Jo gave her father a look more withering than she would've felt comfortable if he was looking at her. "If he still had his phone, I'd let him know. That's the only reason you don't know where he is, isn't it?"

That won an immediate reaction, both her parents swiveling their heads sharply to look at her. Jo averted her eyes at the same time, her expression schooled.

"I'm just saying," she said. "It's not his fault he can't tell you where he is. He could be hurt, or dead for all you know."

She marched up the stairs, breaking off the tense confrontation and going straight into her room.

A near chaotic mess, organized in its disorganization, Jo's sanctum was no different than Drew's in its choice of decor. Reddle, the Red Strikerborg, posters, figures, plushies, and media decorated every horizontal surface of her room from her desk to her bed, to her dresser. The only bit of color to break up the reds and pinks was some green on a poster of the positively ripped G-Stag standing protectively in front of Reddle.

She sat down at her desk and folded her arms on it. Her eyes narrowing, she let out an irritated sound as the memory of Dipper's terse tone and his hard glare when he chastised her.

"Good job, Jo," she said to herself, "You've played yourself so well, you're a solved game."

She lifted a hand to rest her chin on it and sighed. "It took only a couple weeks, but I did it. I can't be normal and just like a boy, huh? It's gotta be some weird mind-game and me trying to dominate everything."

She glanced towards her bedroom door, in the direction of her living room downstairs.

"I wonder where I get it from?"

Sarcasm dripped from her question, as she looked back down at her desk. The memory of Star's skull-marked cheeks when she threatened her in the alley, Misao's cold glare on the screen of her AV, Roland's disappointed glare, Marco striking her chest when she and Star came to blows, and once more Dipper's piercing glower.

Inhaling sharply, she let the breath out slowly.

They all hated her.

"Just do it like every group project and class assignment," she muttered, "Keep your mouth shut and focus on getting results. Carry the team and when it's over you can pretend you never spoke to them."

Jo dropped her hand back down onto the desk, then buried her face into her folded arms.

After a few moments she sniffled, and her shoulders shook.

@@@@@

Roland did not go straight back to Shermie's place. Instead he went to Zoom Comics and played it cool as he walked through the doors. He didn't take even two steps inside, when his father Aaron came running around the counter with relief all over his face. Reaching his son, Aaron gave him a tight hug and patted his back.

"Hey Dad," Roland said as he returned the hug.

"Thank God you're safe! Are Drew and Jo okay?" He asked as he pulled back.

Roland nodded. "Everyone's okay, don't worry. It was just really chaotic and weird, but no one got hurt as far as I can tell, we all went to Mr. Pines' house after school let out."

Aaron tilted his head. "Nobody got hurt–Mabel, Marco, and Star were okay after that?"

Roland nodded. "Yeah, you know those guys are just built different."

Like a whirlwind, Nano burst from the back of Zoom and swept up her son and grandson in a tight, protective hug. "Oh, my grandbaby's okay! When I saw all that mess going on I was so worried!"

She gave them both an additional squeeze then let go. "My goodness, though, it's everywhere! Them kids fighting those creeps–you know it's going to be on the evening news and everyone's gonna be talkin' about it. I'd stay clear of them for a while, if you don't wanna go get swept up in the circus."

She had a point, and it brought it right back to Dipper's own way back. No one knew who the Beetleborgs were–for now–and constantly associating with the twins, Misao, Star, and Marco was only going to make associating them with the Beetleborgs easier.

It was such a prescient reminder that Roland regarded his grandmother with a raised eyebrow.

Before he could meet her gaze fully though, Nano swept away, throwing her hands into the air in exasperation. "What's this world coming to?! Supervillains running around dressed up like comic book monsters, fighting it out with high school kids! It wasn't like this back in the 80s!"

It amused and relieved Roland that Nano thought the Magnavores were cosplaying supervillains. He shrugged his shoulders. "Well, yeah, there aren't any grown adult superheroes around to actually fight bad guys anymore, are there?"

"There's Team Go," Aaron helpfully pointed out.

Roland rolled his eyes. "Last I heard they don't go out much because Shego's not there to carry them."

Aaron snapped his fingers and pointed. "Kim Possible?"

"She's in the same grade as Roland, sweetie," Nano pointed out.

Aaron let out a hum of surprise. "Really? Now I'm real curious about how a girl like her gets around."

"Phrasing," Roland and half the rest of the shop's current party of guests said as one.

Scowling at the juvenile snickering around him, even from his own mother, Aaron sought a name off the top of his head that wasn't a fictional comic book hero. "Minuano, the samurai from Brazil."

"I don't think he's even allowed in the country after the last time he was here," Nano said.

She placed her hands on her hips and let out a melodramatic hum. "I remember when there were as many heroes out there as there were in the comic books."

Aaron nodded in agreement. "The 80s were something else–the 90s, too."

Nano's tone lowered a bit, a hint of disappointment–maybe even sadness to it. "Kids didn't need to be out there fighting bad guys or their monsters in the street."

Her tone got a little more bitter. "Halcyon Days my big black behind."

Roland shrugged his shoulders once more. "Well, I think Star and Marco got this; them, the twins, and those guys going around kitted out like the freakin' Beetleborgs."

Nano's eyes narrowed just a little behind her spectacles. "You ain't wrong."

She brightened as she changed the subject. "Nevermind all that, now. Is this going to change your Homecoming Dance, sweetie?"

His eyebrows rose at his grandmother's question. "Oh yeah… so much happened today the prank slipped my mind."

Aaron gave him a thumb's up. "We're ready on our end to make that party unforgettable."

Roland let out a hum as Star's tearful self-recrimination flashed through his thoughts. Light glimmered in his eyes, a gleam as an idea formed and became a cruel spark. "Actually, I had a better idea for the dance."

Both Nano and Aaron looked at each other, then at Roland, as he smiled.

"It's super short notice, but it's the best prank I can think of," he said as he broke into a smile, "Especially with how important this is to Brittney."

There was a malice in Roland's smile that his father and grandmother had never seen before and worried it them. When he explained his plan, however, they were completely onboard with it.

@@@@@

The sun had almost completely set, fading beneath the distant horizon, when Star and Marco returned home, the two appearing in the living room right by the stairs in full view of Marco's parents. They were waiting patiently, Rafael looking anxious while Angie had an expression of relief and worry all tied up in knots as she got up and walked over to him–her husband just a pace behind her.

"Oh Marco, Star!" She said as she pulled both of them into a tight hug. "I'm glad you're both okay. The fight you were in, it's all over the internet and even got on the six o'clock news."

Marco nodded. "Yeah… sorry for worrying you."

Star saw the brighter side of it. "But hey, the six o'clock news! That means Marco's pretty famous now, right?"

Rafael joined the hug. "Yes, very famous. But we have questions, now."

Marco's gaze darted back and forth between his parents, a tad nervously. "Questions?"

Angie agreed as they pulled away from the group embrace. "Yes, like what is going on and why were you fighting those monsters?"

Rafael sniffed the air just above Star's head. "And… have one of you been drinking beer?"

Angie narrowed her eyes at both of them. "… Beer?"

Before the subject could fully switch rails to that topic, Marco held up his hands. "Mom, Dad, hold on. Let's talk about what's going on with the monsters–it's really important."

Star quickly nodded. "Oh yeah, fate of the world stuff–maybe even the universe."

It took ten minutes, a lot of gesticulating, some dramatic reenactments, and careful omissions of names from the general record without compromising the overall veracity of the account, but Marco and Star successfully retold the general gist of the last several weeks to Angie and Rafael. When they were done, Angie held her hands together with an expression of intense concern, while her husband was stroking his chin as he let what had been told sink in.

"The Magnavores are real," Angie said quietly.

Marco nodded. "Yeah, and this is the first time they went after other people instead of just trying to go straight for us."

Rafael lowered his hand from his chin. "And it's all of them? Jara, Typhus, Noxic, and Vexor?"

Angie flinched at the mere mention of their leader's name.

"He even showed up today," Star confirmed, before growing bitter. "I thought I blasted him harder than that."

Marco's parents looked at one another, then at their son and their charge. They looked at one another again, before Angie gave her husband a nod of consent.

Rafael all but leaped up from where he sat to his feet. "This calls for tequila."

"Four glasses," Angie quickly said after him.

Rafael was back from the kitchen, handing Star, his son, and his wife each a shot glass filled with the clear golden-brown liquid. The moment she had her glass, Angie raised her glass in a toast and all of them knocked back the strong liquor at once. Marco, being the entirely inexperienced drinker, nearly gagged from the intensity of the flavor, but stopped himself and swallowed it down like everyone else.

"Oh wow, that burns the whole way down," he gasped.

Star looked at her glass in surprise. "That hit a little harder than mashed corn juice."

Angie lowered her glass, setting it on the coffee table, then looked at Marco. "Your father and I are not angry at you, and we are not going to stop you from going out there and fighting."

Marco and Star brightened, before he asked. "You're not?"

"Of course not!" Angie said. "Young man, we've been reading Big Bad Beetleborgs since before you were born! If they're anything like in the books at all, then they need to be stopped!"

Rafael nodded in agreement. "I am so glad that we paid for those karate classes!"

He then patted both teens on their shoulders. "But please, do not be reckless and don't go seeking fights if you can avoid them. We want you to be as safe as you can."

Star was beaming. "Don't worry about Marco, Mr. and Mrs. D! I've got his back at all times!"

Marco put his arm around Star's back and pulled her close to him. "And I've got Star's."

"But neither of you have armor," Rafael noted. "If Typhus had hit you with any of those punches, we'd be scraping you off the street right now instead of drinking Tequila."

Marco could not deny how true that was. He had to devote every fiber of his focus on Typhus each time they fought, and at the rate they were going a lucky hit was inevitable. "That's why I've been training harder than ever."

Rafael nodded. "Well, do something about making sure you are not hit, my son."

Star hummed and glanced down at her handbag where her wand resided, before Angie turned to her.

"Do your parents know about this?" She asked.

Star grimaced. "I don't think they should. They might just make me come back home."

She took Marco's other hand and held it. "And I'm not going to just leave you guys fighting the Forces of Evil without me. I love you guys, you're the best!"

Marco's cheeks turned red as Star gripped his hand tightly. "We love you too, Star."

Rafael and Angie both repressed the urge to go "Aww" like a studio audience as Star and Marco shared affectionate looks with one another.

Mr. Diaz spoke. "We will cover for you as best we can, Star. We cannot bear to see you and Marco apart!"

Angie helpfully added. "You two are so cute together–and you're our best hope against the Magnavores."

Marco agreed. "Yeah, you've got the team on your back."

Star was overcome, and she sprang from Marco to hug her. "Ohhh! Thank you for being so cool! You're the best!"

Laughing, Angie hugged Star back. After the moment's embrace, she pulled back to address both her and her son. "I'm glad we had this talk, and from now on we should talk more."

Rafael agreed. "Do not be afraid to talk to us about anything, especially if it feels like things are getting too much for you to handle."

"We promise," Marco said before he got up. "Even though the sun's just going down, it's been a really long day and I want to start unwinding now."

"Mmhm!" Star agreed. "You know I get the best night's sleep after a battle."

"And a barbecue?" Marco asked with a cheeky smile.

Star gestured emphatically to Marco. "What else are you going to eat after a battle? Salad? Bread? It's gotta be meat!"

She chopped into her hand to emphasize her next words. "Cooked over a fire!"

With a toss of her hair, she headed for the stairs. "That's how warriors roll!"

Watching her bounce up the stairs, Marco bid his parents goodnight and sped after her. As she reached the top of the stairs, Star heard Marco coming up behind her and turned back just to end up in his arms.

"Ah?" She gasped in surprise.

"Star…" He purred and she had only a second to register the warmth in his smile and the fire in his eyes before he kissed her. In an instant she hugged him back and returned the kiss with a pleased sigh against his lips.

Marco led her through the kiss as he walked her back and pressed her against the wall by her door. It lasted another moment after that, before they slowly parted and stared at one another. Star was breathless in the wake of it, her cheek marks nearly crimson as she rested her head against the wall.

"Ah… what was that for…?" She asked, not at all complaining.

"Because you're amazing, and I've been waiting all day to do that," he whispered back as he caressed her cheek with his right hand. "… Mi cariñito…"

Star placed her hand over Marco's and let out a soft giggle as she nuzzled into his palm, feeling all fuzzy inside when he called her that.

"Thanks for getting Jo out of my face when she flipped out on me."

Marco stroked her cheek with his thumb. "Yeah, to be honest that stung more than punching Typhus did. That armor is strong."

"I'm going to think of a spell for that,"
she promised, before she caught Marco with another kiss and pulled him firmly against her.

"For what?" He whispered back when they parted again.

"For armor, so we can punch people and not get hurt, or worry about getting zapped…"

Marco cut her off with another kiss. "… Or concussions?"

Star pouted at Marco for bringing that up, before smiling and giving him a quick peck on the lips. "Or nearly stabbed by crazy swordsmen."

"That's fair…"
He purred, sending Star into a swooning laugh that he muffled when he kissed her again. "Mmm~"

Angie clearing her throat doused plenty of cold water on their hormone-driven ardor, and both looked back to see her leaning around the corner from just below the top of the stairs giving them a friendly, awkward wave.

"We're trusting you to be careful, to be responsible, and to come back safe and sound when you go out into battle." That said, she gave them both a harder look. "We're still your parents, though, and this does not change the other boundaries we've set for you. Do I make myself clear?"

Marco nodded once, but fast. "Absolutely."

She met Star's gaze. "Is that clear to you too, Star?"

Star jumped and nodded quickly when she fell under scrutiny. "Yes mom–ma'am."

Marco then asked. "For clarification's sake, we can still make out, right?"

Angie's gaze shifted to stare at him again. "… Yes."

Rafael peeked in over Angie and wagged a finger to them. "But do not take a step past second base."

Star looked at Marco. "Ooh, what's second base?"

"It's a baseball thing," Marco replied.

"… Do they make out in baseball? Because if they do, I want to watch more baseball."

Angie burst into snickering, while Rafael pondered Star's question. Marco rolled his eyes in exasperation.

"We'll behave," he promised his parents. "Nothing under the clothes or below the belt."

Angie stopped laughing, the full force of a Mom Stare locked onto the two. "Good. And leave the door open if you're going to be in there alone with her, Marco."

Both he and Star looked at her door, and the former quickly opened and took the latter's hand to slip inside. Satisfied to see the door remain open, Angie huffed in victory and headed downstairs.

She placed a hand on her cheek as she let out a little squeal of joy. "She's already calling me 'Mom.'"

Rafael lingered just a few seconds more to make sure the door didn't just happen to swing shut, then followed her. "You know, she is right, baseball with makeouts would be fun."

Angie's giggle at that was on the dirtier side. "I would definitely watch it~"

Star had her own hand on her cheek, still giggling from being caught and what they were caught doing. As soon as they entered her room, she embraced Marco from behind and rested her chin on his shoulder to whisper in his ear. "Marco~"

As she began to peck him on the cheek, Marco smiled and tilted his head to the side to allow Star's kisses to trail down his jawline. Just as she reached Marco's neck, both heard another throat clear, but it wasn't Angie's.

Star jumped away from Marco's back and both looked at her Magic Instruction Book. which sat open on the end of her bed. Floating just above it in the lotus position was the tiny, blue, bearded guide of the book–Sir Glossaryck of Terms.

"Just wanted to let you know that I'm here," Glossaryck said before turning his back to them. "You can go back to whatever that is."

Star made a face. "Nah, you killed the mood."

Marco agreed as Star walked over to the bed and flopped onto it next to the book.

"Actually, since you're out and about. I wanted to ask you about protection spells."

Glossaryck stared at Star for several seconds, before blowing a kiss to the audience in his head. "Goodnight, everybody!"

Star sat up and stopped him before he could close the book on himself. "Not that kind of protection! A strong armor spell for Marco and me to use!"

Glossaryck maintained that flat stare. "… You're just like your mother."

Star drew back ever slightly, glowering. "In what way?"

"Less than you think, more than you know."

"Gosh Glossaryck, back at it again with that aggravating obtuseness," Marco said in exasperation.

"Don't hate me because I'm beautiful," Glossaryck chimed back as he turned to face Star. "One thing that your mother did want very early on when I was teaching her, was ample protection for when she was in battle–and similar activities."

Star's glower intensified, "Stop that!"

Glossaryck carried on like he complied. "There are countless protection spells. Armor creation, magical barriers, wards of various elements…"

He levitated off the book and hovered just above the end of Star's bed, gesturing down to it.

"All of that and much more is a turn of the page away."

Star looked down at the Magic Instruction Book, and grimaced. Half as tall as she was and twice as heavy, since she'd gotten the book she'd skimmed through it once, barely reading more than a page or two of each section and hardly writing anything in it herself.

"But there's so much to go through…"

"Well you want to become more powerful, right?" When Star nodded, Glossaryck gestured down at the book. "This is a comprehensive manual on power itself. Eight generations of the most powerful Wielders of the Royal Magic Wand ever are written in these pages. The things you can learn from them could destroy this world and any other… and just as well protect it."

Marco looked over. "Whoa, is it that big of a deal?"

Glossaryck turned to face him. "Is it that big of a deal? Are you that big of a deal? Is the Evangelion doing shadow puppets with the Getter RoboboboboboboBOBO?!"

Marco rolled his eyes as Glossaryck's head began turning like he was possessed, and he made crude approximations of shadow puppets.

"Ask a stupid question…" He muttered.

Glossaryck stopped acting out and folded his arms and legs once more. He regarded Marco with a placid smile. "You're learning."

Star lifted up one of the book's pages and winced at the weight of the old parchment. It felt like the whole book was going to be a workout. "I don't think I have the time to study like this."

Glossaryck moved backward until he was above and just behind her. She craned her head back to look up at him with doe-eyes as he spoke. "Yes, you're finding yourself rather busy these days, Star, but I can understand that."

Star frowned. "Understand how?"

"You're fighting the forces of evil, and what evil forces they are. Why just this afternoon I felt tremendous power the likes of which I haven't sensed in… oh… 1000 years and some change."

Star awkwardly turned around without breaking eye contact with Glossaryck. "Please don't tell Mom."

"Why would I? She'd drag you back to Mewni and probably have this dimension sealed off if she knew what was going on." Glossaryck laid on his side, head propped up on one hand. "And that would be terrible for teaching you."

Star brightened, as Marco sagged in relief. "You really won't say anything!?"

"I don't work for Moon. I'm your guide, not your babysitter, and–as much as I love your mother–definitely not a snitch."

He brought the back of his hand to the side of his mouth as he leaned towards Star. "You know what happens to snitches."

"Right, stitches," Star replied.

Glossaryck drew back and sat upright, folding his hands into his sleeves as a third hand emerged from his back and pointed at Star. "That said I am your guide and training you to be Queen is just as pertinent to me as it is to your mother."

"Then how about training her instead of being so vague?" Marco muttered.

A fourth arm pointed at Marco. "Hey, I don't tell you how to make out with her, don't tell me how to teach."

Marco was not having that as he walked up to Glossaryck and glowered down at him. "I've been yanked around by a teacher enough to have no patience for it. Do Star a favor and get on the express train to the point, we don't have time for stupid games and riddles."

Star snapped her fingers. "That was a metaphor, wasn't it?"

Without looking at her, Marco gave her a thumb's up.

Glossaryck narrowed his ruby eyes, less with any kind of malice and more with bored disappointment. He floated to the side and gestured to the book. "As I said, it's all there in the manual."

Star looked down at the book and turned a page, heading towards the beginning of the book, revealing Mewman, and countless scribbles of coded language and ancient tongues that she'd never seen before written. She then turned another page, showing a beautifully drawn portrait of a woman with curly orange hair, blue eyes, cream-colored skin, and hourglass-shaped cheek marks. She wore a flowing yellow gown and carried a golden magic wand with a winged clock as its bell.

"Skywynne Butterfly, the Queen of Hours," she murmured.

"What does it say?" Marco asked.

Star tilted her head. "I can only read her journal entries, they're in standard Mewman and I read those before… everything else is in Low Mewman or code."

She flipped the pages, which treated her and Marco to rather dramatic images of vine-snared towers, bodies sailing into space, terrible creatures rising from their graves, and a black box with an evil eye spewing out nightmares. Each page was covered in dense text that Marco didn't recognize at all and, judging by Star's furrowing brows, she couldn't make sense of either.

"Geez, what kind of magic did Skywynne cast?" Marco asked.

Glossaryck was actually forthcoming this time. "Powerful magic, the most powerful I'd ever seen from any Wand user before or since–with one or two exceptions. She's not called the Queen of Hours for nothing."

A wicked and terrible smile crept across Star's face. "If I could learn spells from Skywynne…"

Glossaryck raised his six-fingered right hand and made a waving motion, turning the pages to later in the book. "You'd probably destroy the world, like she almost did. Repeatedly."

Star lifted her head up. "Still!"

"You want to fight the Forces of Evil, not do their job for them." Glossaryck reminded her.

Marco nodded. "I don't like it, but I agree with Glossaryck, whatever crazy stuff Skywynne could do? Probably a little bit above where you're at now."

He gestured to his waist. "It'd be like you were a Yellow Belt in karate trying to master Black Belt skills."

Star nodded and held up her left arm. "Or trying to ride a Warnicorn when I barely know how to control a pony."

"Exactly," Marco said.

Glossaryck leaned towards Marco and spoke out the corner of his mouth. "She broke that arm in six places."

Marco winced. "Eugh."

The resident of the book turned back to Star. "Speaking of Warnicorns, there is a spell you can learn from Skywynne to get started."

With another wave of his hand, the book stopped. It was still in Skywynne's section of the book, showing her standing with her wand raised above her head while a raging stampede of large, fearsome unicorns covered in the scars of battle charging around her.

"Warnicorn Stampede," Glossaryck presented to them. "And unlike her other spells, this one is written in Mewman. She thought it a rather tame beginner spell to pass on."

Star sighed. "Warnicorn Stampede is cool and all, Glossaryck, but I have too many spells for wrecking stuff, I need a really specific spell for protection in battle."

"Like I said, plenty of those, but it doesn't change the fact that there's a lot of required reading to get to that level of expertise, Star," Glossaryck said.

Star groaned. "Then just tell me that!"

"I did, but someone thought–and I'm not pointing elbows." Glossaryck pointed five at Marco. "That it was… what was it again? Aggravating obtuseness?"

Marco's glare returned. "No, I specifically said you're yanking Star around."

Glossaryck threw all five of his hands up. "Details! I can guide you through the process, but it will still take time. That isn't to say that it can't be made easier beyond my storied guidance. I'm sure if you knew some well-studied intellectual with a penchant for exploring the unknown and deciphering dead tongues written by dead hands, you'd be able to learn not only Skywynne's secrets, but the secrets of every author of this book."

Star and Marco looked at each other, both thinking of the same name.

"Dipper."

"Who?" Glossaryck asked.

"He's been helping us fight bad guys," Marco said, "He's a paranormal investigator and a monster hunter."

Glossaryck rolled his eyes and turned away. He was about to suggest it was very nice that they knew a crackpot, when Star added.

"Him and his sister even helped stop this crazy dream demon from invading reality and causing the end of the world once."

Marco agreed. "Yeah, Bill Cipher."

Glossaryck's eyes shot wide, then his head did a full 180 to look at the two like a cartoonish owl. "… Bill… Cipher…?"

Star nodded. "Yeah, little yellow triangle guy with a top hat and one eye, you've heard of him, right?"

Glossaryck's body twisted around to align with his head as he returned to his nonchalant self. Uncrossing his arms, the guide steepled his fingers pointed upward, then down. He closed his eyes, as if to meditate.

"… Bill Cipher."

Marco raised an eyebrow and looked at Star, who shared his expression of curiosity when he murmured again. His nose twitched, his lips quirked, his eyebrows waggled as he sat there, humming repeatedly in stern concentration.

"Bill Cipher," he repeated once more.

"So… are you trying to remember him? Or is his name just fun to say?"

Glossaryck opened his left eye and looked at Star with it, then opened his right to look at Marco as well. Both eyes blinked one after the other and both teens thought it was creepy.

"Star, when you've seen as much as I have, you'll find that your capacity for surprise is far behind you. Still, today you managed to remind me what that used to feel like."

Marco didn't like that. "Is that a good thing or a bad thing?"

"It is a thing," Glossaryck replied. "But it's fortuitous you've met someone so clever. I strongly advise that you enlist him in your studies."

He rubbed his chin as he spoke, whatever thoughts hidden behind his inscrutable nonchalance.

Star brightened and turned to Marco. "I think Dipper will love to go through the Magic Instruction Book!"

Marco replied with a dry look back at her. "Yeah, I think he'll get tired of Glossaryck real quick."

"Poppycock," Glossaryck admonished. "I'm sure that Dipper will be thrilled to meet me. After all… there's much we can learn from each other…"

For once, Sir Glossaryck of Terms had questions he wanted to ask.

@@@@@

In a world an impossible distance away, an unknowable length of time ago, on a rocky shore lit by the newly risen sun, two warriors fought with incredible speed, ferocity, and skill. Jara, the Mercenary General known across the dying worlds and fading stars for her fearsome army of warriors loyal to none but her crossed blades with the strongest blade known alive, the wandering swordsman Saberizer.

Saberizer's falchion clashed with Jara's short sword, her horizontal swing meeting his vertical block and repelled. They circled one another, Jara so light on her feet she seemed to skim across the ground before she touched it and charged again, this time stabbing for his chest. His blade came across, meeting the tip of her drill-shaped blade and dragging it away in a mighty parry. Then just as quickly he brought the weapon back, a curving, rising slash aimed for her hip to carve upward through her torso, but she was quick enough to bring her weapon back and block the cut. She parried his strike upward, but Saberizer retained control and merely twirled the blade around his right hand and thrust the tip for her chest, forcing her to raise her weapon to block again. Sweeping the falchion back and forth he struck, and each blow forced Jara backward as she dedicated all her energy to defend herself.

After several more blows, he came down with a vertical strike and she met it, locking their weapons together–bolts of plasma erupted from their weapons that cut into the rocks and gravel around them to leave molten streams and hissing steam clouds.

The growing power exploded, and the two warriors were flung from the blast and each other. Saberizer landed on his side of the blast, his feet kicking up stone and black sand as he halted himself. A flash of red out the corner of his eye to his left was his only warning to block Jara's lunge, but it was more than adequate. He turned into her, raising his falchion with the tip pointed to the ground, and blocked her stab before whipping the blade up in a counterattacking swipe. She moved clear to her right, avoiding the return blow, and attacked again even faster head on.

Every advantage belonged to Saberizer, the reach of his falchion easily exceeded hers, and when she used her agility to get inside his reach, his sword was somehow there to parry her away or come edge-first at her from a completely different direction to throw her off and force her to leap back into his range and onto the defense from his attacks.

I could never defeat him.

It was, for lack of any other words to describe it, beautiful. He wasted no movements, every step, every strike, every block, every counter, it was all perfectly measured–not just in form but against hers. He knew exactly what was needed to defeat her and did so at his leisure.

I dueled him countless times.

She escaped a diagonal stroke from the falchion and dug her feet into the dirt. Both hands gripping the hilt of her blade so tight that tears appeared in her gloves, she launched herself to his right then went in to stab his exposed side. He was a step faster, hopping back and bringing to parry her away when she over-committed to the stab, using a wide swing of the falchion.

I fought him with everything I had every time.

Letting go of her short sword with one hand, Jara swung down on his shoulder with all his might, but once again he was faster and with a quick twirl of the falchion, he thrust the weapon upward to meet hers and knock it flying straight up from her hand.

And lost miserably.

The falchion came back down, stopping right at the base of her neck as she stopped in unison with it. Her tumbling blade impaled a rock not too far behind her, the heat that rose from the blade splitting it clean in two.

Yet…

She looked up at Saberizer, her ever expressionless mask staring at his battle-gnarled face. With no expression of his own to convey his feelings on their duel thanks to his ancient wounds, he nodded.

There was no one else who could make me feel so humbled, and at the same time he made me feel like I could actually surpass him.

Her body relaxing, Jara nodded back, then bowed her head to Saberizer.

So then… how?

Then Jara was suddenly in another impossible place, but much, much more recent. She was unable to move, she wasn't even breathing as she watched the Stinger Blade pass through Saberizer's body like he should've done to the Blue Stingerborg by every right.

How does an abysmal whelp who can barely hold his own head up, let alone any kind of weapon, strike him down?

She watched him stagger.

How?

She watched his broken blade fall to the ground as he raised his head one final time to apologize for his failure.

How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How?

His humiliation at the hands of a worthless, pathetic boy.

How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How?

Vexor stood in silence as he looked down at Jara inside the Magnavores' crypt hideout. She was sitting on her knees, her head bowed down to stare down at half of Saberizer's falchion. It was the only thing left of him that came with her when recalled her from the battle she lost.

She hadn't moved from that spot for several hours now, just sitting there in silence.

"How dreadful," he lamented. "This is quite possibly the worst defeat yet."

He turned away from her to Typhus and Noxic, who had been similarly quiet out of respect to their friend. He gestured out to them, and they looked back at him.

"Yeah, what?" Noxic snapped.

"So then, the troll?" He asked.

Noxic jabbed a finger at Vexor. "Does it look like we're done mourning, ya mook?!"

Vexor moved much closer to Noxic, unyielding in the face of his indignation. "She is not. You are. Now, the troll, explain yourselves."

Typhus stopped Noxic before he could say something that'd get him junked again. "He didn't see it, Vexor, I did. Over at the school, a she-troll, right in the prime of life, baby. The school and all them kids are her turf."

The news didn't set well with Vexor, his visage darkening as he turned away from them. "Unfortunate. A troll complicates matters, and we already fall further behind in strength with each battle. Was there anything else?"

There certainly was. "Yeah, baby. The Butterfly's wand wasn't workin', it couldn't cast any spells and just fired green sludge everywhere. It was messy even for me."

That piqued Vexor's interest. "Curious, a Butterfly's power waning at so young an age… I must know why."

"Before you order us to capture her again? Screw you," Noxic piped up.

Vexor turned towards him. "No, I will not be sending you on a fools' errand. I have a more important task in store for you."

"Oh boy, you're actually usin' that super brain of yours. Amazin'! Tell us what you got, boss crab!" Noxic begged with all his sarcasm.

Their leader would blast him as he had before, but he needed him intact. "I will need several items, but foremostly I need an army. I leave it to you to construct it out of materials here, rather than summon them from the Nightmare Realm."

That had Noxic lighting up like a billboard at sundown. "No kiddin'?!"

"You've known me long enough to know what japery I tolerate."

Just enough, neither Typhus nor Noxic replied.

Noxic clapped his hands. "Well, you've sold me on it! I'm gonna get started right away!"

Vexor tilted towards him, gesturing with an open upraised palm. "I leave it to you then, construct me at the very least a hundred Scabs in a fortnight."

"A hundred? No problem! I can get two hundred done by then!" Noxic cheered, happy to be doing something that he enjoyed.

Typhus spoke up. "What about me, baby? Want me to poke at 'em? Keep 'em on their toes? Summon a monster to spy on 'em?"

Vexor surprised him with his reply. "Tend to Jara, and do not allow her to go near the children or wherever they may haunt."

The big green beast tilted his head some. "Did I hear that right?"

His tone turned grave. "Saberizer was not a piece easily used or expected to be lost. We can't recover from that lightly or quickly. So let us avoid further losses. Until I have the Scabs Noxic will build me, we are to stay well out of trouble with the Beetleborgs, the Butterfly, or their allies."

Vexor was planning something large and elaborate, Typhus realized, but on the bright side he was giving him and Jara a vacation to prepare for it. As long as Jara could get the rest she needed and a chance to recover from her loss, he didn't care whatever it was he had in mind, really. With a nod, he walked over to Jara's side.

"You don't need to tell me twice, baby." He placed a hand on Jara's shoulder–she didn't even respond to the stimulation–and looked over at Noxic. "Hey, Noxic. You got room for two more?"

"Sure, but I gotta warn ya, it's a real dump!" With a laugh, Noxic folded his arms, nodded, and all three of them left.

Alone in his candlelit crypt, Vexor flowed over to his partially opened sarcophagus and picked up the copy of The Big Bad Beetleborgs used to summon the latest round of Scabs and fighters. He then looked in the sarcophagus, where the other books they'd used to summon Monsters and Scabs now lay and tossed the latest book onto it. They were useless now, but at the very least they were fantastic reads.

He personally thought the author caught him perfectly as a menacing threat to reality.

At some point, very soon, he would like to meet Arthur Fortunes, and thank him personally for such a flattering portrayal.

A sick, screeching laugh left Vexor's throat.

"XASYR TMLUC FBQJQ KFWWJ MGLAP YJGYO WTIPV IFMHS SGEWZ PBONG DPBCR KZBFH."

And that laughter echoed through the crypt.

= - = 5-7 = - =

Volume 5 of Legends, End.
 
Last edited:
As expected of a season finale, there's a heck of a lot to chew on.

Have I said publicly that Jo is my second favorite character on the protagonist side after Drew?
 
Codes and Geass Cast Commentary 8 New
At his home, Shermie stood in the backyard and watched the Magnavore Jet Fighters in silence. Even as his phone in his pocket buzzed, then rang angrily with calls that he hoped were from Nano and not his son and daughter-in-law, he waited and watched. It was a reassuring sight at least, when the Red Striker AV rushed out and easily destroyed the raiding fighters. Even more reassuring, he thought, was when the destroyed fighters just disintegrated and burned into nothing–instead of crashing into the town below as balls of flame.

But in the end, those were small comforts.

When the last fighter was gone and the Red Striker AV disappeared, he turned and went to the icebox on his patio. He pulled out several six-packs, some of soda, some of beer, and set them down on his picnic table. Then he turned and got the grill started and threw burgers and franks on the heat. They were almost done when he heard the familiar chime of Star's Scissors opening a portal in the backyard. He adjusted his bowtie and turned to watch them file in one by one.

Kallen: Grilled food, beer, good company. sounds like a solid afterparty. :cool:

Tamaki: Hell yeah! Bring on the okonomiyaki and sake! :D

Star and Marco sat on the bench, and she reached for the nearest cold bottle she could find and effortlessly popped the cap off with her thumb. She took a gulp from it and made a face.

"Urk, beer."

After letting the taste settle on her tongue, she resumed chugging the bottle down.

Shermie smiled at her reaction, moreso at Marco's switch from surprise to concern at her intake. "I remember my first beer with my old man in Jersey. Compared to the swill we had back then, this stuff is milk and honey."

Star lowered the empty bottle from her lips, and reached for a soda next. "It tastes better than mashed corn juice."

Milly: Wait, did she just-?

Kallen: Mashed corn juice?? :confused:

Milly: It's called moonshine. Illegally produced homemade high proof alcohol. And that is very interesting that Star has had it. :3

Dipper meanwhile had opened another portal, and Misao emerged from it. She had greeted him with a smile that lasted all of a half-second before she noticed the Red Strikerborg standing off to the side with her fellow Beetleborgs.

Jo noticed Misao and rolled her eyes. "We should change."

Roland agreed. "Yeah, I'm starving, man. Didn't get to eat my meat loaf."

All three Beetleborgs held their hands out and said together. "Back Blast."

In a flash they transformed out of their armors, and Dipper, Misao, Marco, Star, and Shermie recoiled in surprise just as Mabel came out the door.

"Okay, so I used up all my bunny band-aids, but I have plenty of other shapes, like cats, pigs, birds, and…"

She saw Drew and yelled. "HOLY COW!"

It was… bad. Bruises covered his right arm and went down his neck and collarbone. Blood soaked the lower half of his face, neck, stained his blue t-shirt. His right eye was entirely bloodshot, his iris standing out stark against the crimson.

Kaguya: They really need to deal with that tension. ¬_¬

Milly: Yeah, that's gonna be a problem going forward if they don't- HOLY FUCK! :eek:

Kallen: ....Better check him for concussion and internal injuries. *grimaces*

CC: Ideally, he'd get rest and observation. As it is, he'll get magic healing hopefully.

"You look like you did the Running of the Bulls–all over your face," Shermie added.

Drew shook his head. "He hit really hard… but the worst of this was from me using my power to keep up with him."

Dipper walked over to him, already understanding. "… You used your telekinesis to move yourself."

Shermie did a double-take, his bowtie nearly popping off from his sudden movement. "Telekinesis?!"

Drew looked over at the picnic table and nodded. One of the sodas lifted from its cardboard six-pack box and floated over to him. Catching it in his left hand, he stared at the bottlecap, and it popped off and flipped before it froze in the air. Everyone watched the bottle cap fold itself in half, then in half again as Drew chugged down the soda. As soon as the bottle was empty, he let the bottle go and it floated into the box. The bottle cap followed, unfolding back to its original shape and sealing the mouth of the bottle.

Star stood up. "Whoa…"

Dipper was mesmerized. "Do you realize how precise you are?"

Drew nodded. "Yeah, it's… really hard to describe. When the power's on, I can feel everything around me out to a certain point. Whatever I can feel, I can manipulate it."

Dipper was trying hard not to get too excited at the chance to study someone with telekinesis who didn't want to kill him. He caught himself almost drooling as he watched him return the empty bottle back to the six pack.

CC: So the question is, is he drooling over the powers, the manliness, or how hot Drew looks? :3

Tohdoh: Impressive abilities.

Mabel brought Drew over to the picnic table and sat him down. "All right, sit tight so I can play doctor."

Misao blurted out. "In front of everyone?"

Dipper turned his head to stare at her. "Don't make it weird."

"Now take off your shirt," Mabel ordered Drew as she opened her first aid kit.

Milly: Do it, do it, do it! Strip show for everyone! :D

"Dipper," Mabel said as she began bandaging up Drew.

He turned to her. "Yeah?"

"Talk to that girl and sort this out before she turns from you at twelve to Gideon at ten."

Removing his lumberjack hat, Dipper rubbed his scalp, ruffling up his hair in the process. "I'll have the perfect chance to do it Saturday. It'll be just her, Marco, and me up there at Hillhurst."

Star had finished her third bottle of soda by this point and set it down. "I'll be there, too."

Kallen: Having Star there to referee is probably a good idea.

Milly: Yeah, this is one crush that needs to get nipped in the bud before it gets worse. >_<

Mabel brightened up, and accidentally tightened the bandage she was wrapping around Drew's arm, making him yelp. "CAN WE USE THE SCHWANZSTUCKER?!"

Drew recovered from the squeeze and stared at her. "The… what?"

Star looked at Marco for clarification, and he just shrugged his shoulders.

Trollouche: *falls over laughing*

CC: The dick-piece? Oh ho ho ho ho ho! x3

Drew looked at Marco. "What's up with that, anyway?"

Marco cocked an eyebrow. "What's with what? The karate?"

"Yeah," Drew said. "I can get us having superpowers, and Star having magic… but where do you dig down for what you do?"

Marco stared at Drew for so long he blinked twice before he looked down at his hands. "I don't know, I just use my karate and it works."

Trollouche: Hey, if it works for Suzaku...

Kaguya: You're not going to even try and reason it out?

Trollouche: I literally have a ninja and a cyborg on my payroll. Life stopped making sense for me awhile ago. :p

Shermie took off his glasses, took a cloth from his shirt pocket and began rubbing the lenses. "I've got some bad news for you kids. I was hoping we wouldn't have to talk about this, but after today… John Q. Public ain't gonna be able to keep their noses out of this stuff, and even worse? Uncle Sam's going to be looking this way and wondering what the heck is going on. Help or hassle is coming your way whether you want it or not."

Remembering all those phones pointed at the fights, Dipper grimly nodded. "Darn it, you're right."

Shermie put his glasses back on. "You're gonna need somebody to vamoose on over to the police station or city hall and let them know they're outta their league with these yahoos. Because if we don't, there's gonna be a lotta people getting in the way, getting hurt, getting taken hostage, or worse."

For dramatic effect, he made a cutting gesture across his neck, before he continued.

"As for ol' Uncle Sam? I can't tell you how to deal with that. I wouldn't even let the guys I might know inside The Company know what's going on here."

CC: I was wondering when US intelligence services were going to start watching this.

Tohdoh: The public is likely to be a recurring problem. Having local authorities to handle riot control would be ideal.

Kaguya: Not if the team is held liable for public property destruction. Insurance would have nightmarish premiums. :eek:

Janna Banana said:
Sure you don't wanna just tell her?

Drew said:
I think she should stay out of this, so she doesn't get pulled into any fights. It's for the best.

Janna Banana said:
Cool, Ill get you all to myself.

His face flushed, and he rolled his eyes.

Drew said:
You're terrible.

Janna Banana said:
Im your God, Sad Kid :smug:

Milly: Probably for the best.

Nunnally: Heather is a nice girl. She doesn't need to get mixed up in all of this craziness. :)

Milly: I'm thinking Janna is making eyes at hero boy here. ;)

He wouldn't forget this fight for a while, or how much he gave to win it and overcome someone who was stronger than him in every possible way by himself.

Saberizer was wrong about him.

But Drew was right about Saberizer.

For the first time, I've beaten something I shouldn't have.

CC: There's more than one perception of strength. And in the end, Saberizer did admit he was wrong and Drew was the better warrior.

Tohdoh: It was a worthy battle, one he should be proud of for winning. It would behoove him to learn swordsmanship, his opponent wasn't wrong that such skills would be useful.

"If you don't have anything to say, you can go," she snapped at him.

Roland rolled his eyes. "What would me saying anything more accomplish? You're the one who has things to say."

"What, like 'I'm sorry?' Did you not hear Misao mess around with my weapons in the middle of a battle and act all high and mighty about it?"

Roland argued back. "She told you not to shoot at the ground."

She stepped back up to him, hissing. "She went and messed with my weapons, and you're on me for endangering the team with over drama."

Roland threw up his hands. "Motherfuckin'..."

He stepped away from the stop sign, then pointed up at it. "You need to do this and work your shit out, Josephine, I'm more than done."

Kallen: Are you fucking kidding me? You do not get to claim you're in the right here, you hotheaded bitch! :mad:

Kallen: You tried to pull a strafing run on civilians! That's the kind of shit Britannia does!

Cornelia: I'll grant you that such a thing is permissible occasionally. But not as a first option. And definitely not against our own people. I'd have court-martialed her for it. ¬_¬

Jo turned for the stairs and had just crossed the dining room to get to them, when her father spoke again.

"Your brother's on very thin ice."

She stopped barely halfway up the stairs and looked back at him. He was now looking at the television.

"If he keeps cutting class, and acting like he doesn't live under my rules, I'll feel inclined to make sure his stuff is moved out onto the street with him." he added. "The stuff he needs; all that comic book nonsense can go where it belongs."

Jo gave her father a look more withering than she would've felt comfortable if he was looking at her. "If he still had his phone, I'd let him know. That's the only reason you don't know where he is, isn't it?"

That won an immediate reaction, both her parents swiveling their heads sharply to look at her. Jo averted her eyes at the same time, her expression schooled.

"I'm just saying," she said. "It's not his fault he can't tell you where he is. He could be hurt, or dead for all you know."

Kallen: Wow, what an asshole.

Kaguya: Sounds like my cousin Genbu Kururugi. That is not a compliment. ¬_¬

Milly: His own son could have died out there and this is what he has to say? Kick his ass, Jo! :mad:

"Good job, Jo," she said to herself, "You've played yourself so well, you're a solved game."

She lifted a hand to rest her chin on it and sighed. "It took only a couple weeks, but I did it. I can't be normal and just like a boy, huh? It's gotta be some weird mind-game and me trying to dominate everything."

She glanced towards her bedroom door, in the direction of her living room downstairs.

"I wonder where I get it from?"

Sarcasm dripped from her question, as she looked back down at her desk. The memory of Star's skull-marked cheeks when she threatened her in the alley, Misao's cold glare on the screen of her AV, Roland's disappointed glare, Marco striking her chest when she and Star came to blows, and once more Dipper's piercing glower.

Inhaling sharply, she let the breath out slowly.

They all hated her.

"Just do it like every group project and class assignment," she muttered, "Keep your mouth shut and focus on getting results. Carry the team and when it's over you can pretend you never spoke to them."

Jo dropped her hand back down onto the desk, then buried her face into her folded arms.

After a few moments she sniffled, and her shoulders shook.

Kallen: *winces*

Milly: ....Oh wow. That is a terrible family dynamic. >_<

Kallen: Almost as bad as Lulu's. ¬_¬

Trollouche: I should be offended at that. But you're not wrong.

Roland nodded. "Everyone's okay, don't worry. It was just really chaotic and weird, but no one got hurt as far as I can tell, we all went to Mr. Pines' house after school let out."

Aaron tilted his head. "Nobody got hurt–Mabel, Marco, and Star were okay after that?"

Roland nodded. "Yeah, you know those guys are just built different."

Kallen: Superhumans, huh.

CC: Indeed, there seems to be quite a few of them in this world. Curious, one would think someone would have noticed before now.

She gave them both an additional squeeze then let go. "My goodness, though, it's everywhere! Them kids fighting those creeps–you know it's going to be on the evening news and everyone's gonna be talkin' about it. I'd stay clear of them for a while, if you don't wanna go get swept up in the circus."

She had a point, and it brought it right back to Dipper's own way back. No one knew who the Beetleborgs were–for now–and constantly associating with the twins, Misao, Star, and Marco was only going to make associating them with the Beetleborgs easier.

It was such a prescient reminder that Roland regarded his grandmother with a raised eyebrow.

Trollouche: My god. Someone who understands Op-Sec! :eek:

CC: Now what does Grandma Nano know, hmm? :sneaky:

Scowling at the juvenile snickering around him, even from his own mother, Aaron sought a name off the top of his head that wasn't a fictional comic book hero. "Minuano, the samurai from Brazil."

"I don't think he's even allowed in the country after the last time he was here," Nano said.

She placed her hands on her hips and let out a melodramatic hum. "I remember when there were as many heroes out there as there were in the comic books."

Aaron nodded in agreement. "The 80s were something else–the 90s, too."

Nano's tone lowered a bit, a hint of disappointment–maybe even sadness to it. "Kids didn't need to be out there fighting bad guys or their monsters in the street."

Her tone got a little more bitter. "Halcyon Days my big black behind."

Roland shrugged his shoulders once more. "Well, I think Star and Marco got this; them, the twins, and those guys going around kitted out like the freakin' Beetleborgs."

Nano's eyes narrowed just a little behind her spectacles. "You ain't wrong."

CC: Oh. Seems this has been going awhile. Curiouser and curioser. :sneaky:

Rakshata: Biology isn't my specialty. But from what I do know, if they aren't just one off incidents, then mutations of this sort would be a fraction of the population. It could be a high fraction, or a tiny percentage. But there's no way it could have been unobserved.

Trollouche: Grandma seems to be on the ball. :3

Trollouche: Wait. Did he say Minuano?! :eek:

Roland let out a hum as Star's tearful self-recrimination flashed through his thoughts. Light glimmered in his eyes, a gleam as an idea formed and became a cruel spark. "Actually, I had a better idea for the dance."

Both Nano and Aaron looked at each other, then at Roland, as he smiled.

"It's super short notice, but it's the best prank I can think of," he said as he broke into a smile, "Especially with how important this is to Brittney."

There was a malice in Roland's smile that his father and grandmother had never seen before and worried it them. When he explained his plan, however, they were completely onboard with it.

Milly: *cat smile* Ouu, this sounds fun. :sneaky:

Rivalz: Probably won't be as crazy as what you're thinking, Milly. :p

Milly: A girl can dream, can't she? :p

Angie agreed as they pulled away from the group embrace. "Yes, like what is going on and why were you fighting those monsters?"

Rafael sniffed the air just above Star's head. "And… have one of you been drinking beer?"

Angie narrowed her eyes at both of them. "… Beer?"

Before the subject could fully switch rails to that topic, Marco held up his hands. "Mom, Dad, hold on. Let's talk about what's going on with the monsters–it's really important."

Star quickly nodded. "Oh yeah, fate of the world stuff–maybe even the universe."

Jeremiah: Ah the instinctive maneuver of all lower rank officers upon being caught. Ass covering. x3

Jeremiah: When caught breaking regulations or doing something that may result in corporal punishment or court-martial? The officer will lie, obfuscate, and deflect blame.

Cornelia: It's sad how often it happens. Though one can give credit that these two were actually doing heroic work.

Jeremiah: Your highness, I can safely say that things which happened at Colchester and West Point, stayed at Colchester and West Point. x3

Rafael all but leaped up from where he sat to his feet. "This calls for tequila."

"Four glasses," Angie quickly said after him.

Rafael was back from the kitchen, handing Star, his son, and his wife each a shot glass filled with the clear golden-brown liquid. The moment she had her glass, Angie raised her glass in a toast and all of them knocked back the strong liquor at once. Marco, being the entirely inexperienced drinker, nearly gagged from the intensity of the flavor, but stopped himself and swallowed it down like everyone else.

"Oh wow, that burns the whole way down," he gasped.

Star looked at her glass in surprise. "That hit a little harder than mashed corn juice."

Angie lowered her glass, setting it on the coffee table, then looked at Marco. "Your father and I are not angry at you, and we are not going to stop you from going out there and fighting."

Marco and Star brightened, before he asked. "You're not?"

"Of course not!" Angie said. "Young man, we've been reading Big Bad Beetleborgs since before you were born! If they're anything like in the books at all, then they need to be stopped!"

Rafael nodded in agreement. "I am so glad that we paid for those karate classes!"

He then patted both teens on their shoulders. "But please, do not be reckless and don't go seeking fights if you can avoid them. We want you to be as safe as you can."

Cornelia: Salut! :cool:

Cornelia: Such intelligent and reasonable people.

Kallen: They just said they're ok with the two of them going to fight monsters and offered them a drink for doing it. That's reasonable?? o_O

Cornelia: Why wouldn't it be? :confused:

Kallen: *facepalms* I forgot I'm associating with crazy people now.

CC: Doesn't that include you by proxy? :sneaky:

Kallen: Urusai! (Shut up!) :oops:

"Do your parents know about this?" She asked.

Star grimaced. "I don't think they should. They might just make me come back home."

She took Marco's other hand and held it. "And I'm not going to just leave you guys fighting the Forces of Evil without me. I love you guys, you're the best!"

Marco's cheeks turned red as Star gripped his hand tightly. "We love you too, Star."

Rafael and Angie both repressed the urge to go "Aww" like a studio audience as Star and Marco shared affectionate looks with one another.

Kallen: Ok, that, I can respect.

Nunnally: I think they're adorable. :D

Rivalz: It's nice to see one family that isn't a dysfunctional mess. x3

Angie clearing her throat doused plenty of cold water on their hormone-driven ardor, and both looked back to see her leaning around the corner from just below the top of the stairs giving them a friendly, awkward wave.

"We're trusting you to be careful, to be responsible, and to come back safe and sound when you go out into battle." That said, she gave them both a harder look. "We're still your parents, though, and this does not change the other boundaries we've set for you. Do I make myself clear?"

Marco nodded once, but fast. "Absolutely."

She met Star's gaze. "Is that clear to you too, Star?"

Star jumped and nodded quickly when she fell under scrutiny. "Yes mom–ma'am."

Marco then asked. "For clarification's sake, we can still make out, right?"

Angie's gaze shifted to stare at him again. "… Yes."

Rafael peeked in over Angie and wagged a finger to them. "But do not take a step past second base."

Star looked at Marco. "Ooh, what's second base?"

"It's a baseball thing," Marco replied.

"… Do they make out in baseball? Because if they do, I want to watch more baseball."

Angie burst into snickering, while Rafael pondered Star's question. Marco rolled his eyes in exasperation.

"We'll behave," he promised his parents. "Nothing under the clothes or below the belt."

Angie stopped laughing, the full force of a Mom Stare locked onto the two. "Good. And leave the door open if you're going to be in there alone with her, Marco."

Both he and Star looked at her door, and the former quickly opened and took the latter's hand to slip inside. Satisfied to see the door remain open, Angie huffed in victory and headed downstairs.

She placed a hand on her cheek as she let out a little squeal of joy. "She's already calling me 'Mom.'"

Rafael lingered just a few seconds more to make sure the door didn't just happen to swing shut, then followed her. "You know, she is right, baseball with makeouts would be fun."

Angie's giggle at that was on the dirtier side. "I would definitely watch it~"

CC: Second base? Really? Just tell them to use condoms. :rolleyes:

Milly: *shrugs* I don't get it either. Maybe they think it's being responsible. :confused:

Trollouche: Not everyone has our mindset about these things, or your medieval outlook on it, CC. :p


Milly: Oh hey, she did call Angie mom. That's so cute! :D

Milly: And woah, Marco's parents are way more open minded compare to the other ones here. x3

Euphemia: Baseball players making out...what a curious idea.

Euphemia: I might become interested in the game myself if that happened regularly. :oops:

As she began to peck him on the cheek, Marco smiled and tilted his head to the side to allow Star's kisses to trail down his jawline. Just as she reached Marco's neck, both heard another throat clear, but it wasn't Angie's.

Star jumped away from Marco's back and both looked at her Magic Instruction Book. which sat open on the end of her bed. Floating just above it in the lotus position was the tiny, blue, bearded guide of the book–Sir Glossaryck of Terms.

"Just wanted to let you know that I'm here," Glossaryck said before turning his back to them. "You can go back to whatever that is."

Star made a face. "Nah, you killed the mood."

Marco agreed as Star walked over to the bed and flopped onto it next to the book.

"Actually, since you're out and about. I wanted to ask you about protection spells."

Glossaryck stared at Star for several seconds, before blowing a kiss to the audience in his head. "Goodnight, everybody!"

Milly: And the little blue man cockblocks like a champ! x3

Trollouche: Was that a parody of a viagra commercial?

Milly: Maaaaaybe. :3

Trollouche: If I got asked that question, I'd try to vamoose too. :p

Glossaryck maintained that flat stare. "… You're just like your mother."

Star drew back ever slightly, glowering. "In what way?"

"Less than you think, more than you know."

"Gosh Glossaryck, back at it again with that aggravating obtuseness," Marco said in exasperation.

"Don't hate me because I'm beautiful," Glossaryck chimed back as he turned to face Star. "One thing that your mother did want very early on when I was teaching her, was ample protection for when she was in battle–and similar activities."

CC: Oh this is familiar~

Trollouche: Being the wise older aggravating mentor that drives the younger generation up the wall? :p

CC: You have nooo idea how often I did that to your mother. :V

CC: Speaking of mothers, that was an ominous comment. :sneaky:

Star looked down at the Magic Instruction Book, and grimaced. Half as tall as she was and twice as heavy, since she'd gotten the book she'd skimmed through it once, barely reading more than a page or two of each section and hardly writing anything in it herself.

"But there's so much to go through…"

"Well you want to become more powerful, right?" When Star nodded, Glossaryck gestured down at the book. "This is a comprehensive manual on power itself. Eight generations of the most powerful Wielders of the Royal Magic Wand ever are written in these pages. The things you can learn from them could destroy this world and any other… and just as well protect it."

Marco looked over. "Whoa, is it that big of a deal?"

Glossaryck turned to face him. "Is it that big of a deal? Are you that big of a deal? Is the Evangelion doing shadow puppets with the Getter RoboboboboboboBOBO?!"

Marco rolled his eyes as Glossaryck's head began turning like he was possessed, and he made crude approximations of shadow puppets.

"Ask a stupid question…" He muttered.

Glossaryck stopped acting out and folded his arms and legs once more. He regarded Marco with a placid smile. "You're learning."

CC: *facepalms* And this is familiar too.

CC: Read the damned book, Star. -_- It's a clear path to what you want, just knuckle down and study.

Trollouche: I count...three references there. None of which I hope show in this universe. :p

Trollouche: ......Maybe the Getter-

Kallen: Hell no! They don't need that kind of universe rending nonsense here! :mad:

CC: And Marco learns a simple truth. Ask stupid questions at your peril. :p

Star frowned. "Understand how?"

"You're fighting the forces of evil, and what evil forces they are. Why just this afternoon I felt tremendous power the likes of which I haven't sensed in… oh… 1000 years and some change."

Star awkwardly turned around without breaking eye contact with Glossaryck. "Please don't tell Mom."

"Why would I? She'd drag you back to Mewni and probably have this dimension sealed off if she knew what was going on." Glossaryck laid on his side, head propped up on one hand. "And that would be terrible for teaching you."

Trollouche: *facepalm*

CC: You just got handed a big hint that there's something going on here you don't know about.

CC: And that is what you focus on? Merde. ¬_¬

CC: And yes, that is exactly how you teach unruly hotheads like Star. You throw the lion cubs off the cliff and let them pull themselves out of the fire while tossing down the occasional bit of help.

CC: She's like Kallen in that she progresses best under pressure. ;)

She flipped the pages, which treated her and Marco to rather dramatic images of vine-snared towers, bodies sailing into space, terrible creatures rising from their graves, and a black box with an evil eye spewing out nightmares. Each page was covered in dense text that Marco didn't recognize at all and, judging by Star's furrowing brows, she couldn't make sense of either.

Leloucia: Ok...all of that looks fucking ominous and a bad idea to mess around with. :confused:

Kallen: I'm kinda glad Star can't try those pages out. They look like the kinda shit that ends the world rather than saves it. :confused:

Glossaryck threw all five of his hands up. "Details! I can guide you through the process, but it will still take time. That isn't to say that it can't be made easier beyond my storied guidance. I'm sure if you knew some well-studied intellectual with a penchant for exploring the unknown and deciphering dead tongues written by dead hands, you'd be able to learn not only Skywynne's secrets, but the secrets of every author of this book."

Star and Marco looked at each other, both thinking of the same name.

"Dipper."

"Who?" Glossaryck asked.

"He's been helping us fight bad guys," Marco said, "He's a paranormal investigator and a monster hunter."

Glossaryck rolled his eyes and turned away. He was about to suggest it was very nice that they knew a crackpot, when Star added.

"Him and his sister even helped stop this crazy dream demon from invading reality and causing the end of the world once."

Marco agreed. "Yeah, Bill Cipher."

Glossaryck's eyes shot wide, then his head did a full 180 to look at the two like a cartoonish owl. "… Bill… Cipher…?"

Star nodded. "Yeah, little yellow triangle guy with a top hat and one eye, you've heard of him, right?"

Glossaryck's body twisted around to align with his head as he returned to his nonchalant self. Uncrossing his arms, the guide steepled his fingers pointed upward, then down. He closed his eyes, as if to meditate.

Kaguya: THAT is the reaction of someone who just heard something that they thought impossible and is now trying to reorient themselves to the world. :sneaky:

"Star, when you've seen as much as I have, you'll find that your capacity for surprise is far behind you. Still, today you managed to remind me what that used to feel like."

Marco didn't like that. "Is that a good thing or a bad thing?"

"It is a thing," Glossaryck replied. "But it's fortuitous you've met someone so clever. I strongly advise that you enlist him in your studies."

He rubbed his chin as he spoke, whatever thoughts hidden behind his inscrutable nonchalance.

Star brightened and turned to Marco. "I think Dipper will love to go through the Magic Instruction Book!"

Marco replied with a dry look back at her. "Yeah, I think he'll get tired of Glossaryck real quick."

"Poppycock," Glossaryck admonished. "I'm sure that Dipper will be thrilled to meet me. After all… there's much we can learn from each other…"

For once, Sir Glossaryck of Terms had questions he wanted to ask.

Trollouche: DUN DUN DUN!! :p

CC: Oh yes, because that's not incredibly ominous and foreboding. :rolleyes:

Letting go of her short sword with one hand, Jara swung down on his shoulder with all his might, but once again he was faster and with a quick twirl of the falchion, he thrust the weapon upward to meet hers and knock it flying straight up from her hand.

And lost miserably.

The falchion came back down, stopping right at the base of her neck as she stopped in unison with it. Her tumbling blade impaled a rock not too far behind her, the heat that rose from the blade splitting it clean in two.

Yet…

She looked up at Saberizer, her ever expressionless mask staring at his battle-gnarled face. With no expression of his own to convey his feelings on their duel thanks to his ancient wounds, he nodded.

There was no one else who could make me feel so humbled, and at the same time he made me feel like I could actually surpass him.

Her body relaxing, Jara nodded back, then bowed her head to Saberizer.

So then… how?

Then Jara was suddenly in another impossible place, but much, much more recent. She was unable to move, she wasn't even breathing as she watched the Stinger Blade pass through Saberizer's body like he should've done to the Blue Stingerborg by every right.

How does an abysmal whelp who can barely hold his own head up, let alone any kind of weapon, strike him down?

Tohdoh: The bond of a master and student, a subordinate and commander, friends who held the battlefield as shared ground.

Tohdoh: Such a thing is not easily severed, even by death.

CC: By all rights Drew should have lost in a contest of pure swordsmanship. But?

CC: This was a duel with no holds barred. And Saberizer underestimated his foe.

His humiliation at the hands of a worthless, pathetic boy.

How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How? How?

Vexor stood in silence as he looked down at Jara inside the Magnavores' crypt hideout. She was sitting on her knees, her head bowed down to stare down at half of Saberizer's falchion. It was the only thing left of him that came with her when recalled her from the battle she lost.

She hadn't moved from that spot for several hours now, just sitting there in silence.

Kallen: I dunno, maybe the fact that he won says he's not worthless? :rolleyes:

Kallen: I get it, he was your buddy. But you guys picked the fight. You had to expect you were gonna encounter somebody who could beat you someday.

Kallen: Fuck, Saberizer himself took his defeat gracefully.

CC: Let her be. She'll figure it out sooner or later.

Their leader would blast him as he had before, but he needed him intact. "I will need several items, but foremostly I need an army. I leave it to you to construct it out of materials here, rather than summon them from the Nightmare Realm."

That had Noxic lighting up like a billboard at sundown. "No kiddin'?!"

"You've known me long enough to know what japery I tolerate."

Just enough, neither Typhus nor Noxic replied.

Noxic clapped his hands. "Well, you've sold me on it! I'm gonna get started right away!"

Vexor tilted towards him, gesturing with an open upraised palm. "I leave it to you then, construct me at the very least a hundred Scabs in a fortnight."

"A hundred? No problem! I can get two hundred done by then!" Noxic cheered, happy to be doing something that he enjoyed.

Typhus spoke up. "What about me, baby? Want me to poke at 'em? Keep 'em on their toes? Summon a monster to spy on 'em?"

Vexor surprised him with his reply. "Tend to Jara, and do not allow her to go near the children or wherever they may haunt."

The big green beast tilted his head some. "Did I hear that right?"

His tone turned grave. "Saberizer was not a piece easily used or expected to be lost. We can't recover from that lightly or quickly. So let us avoid further losses. Until I have the Scabs Noxic will build me, we are to stay well out of trouble with the Beetleborgs, the Butterfly, or their allies."

Trollouche: Seems Vexor is a decent commander. Regroup, rebuild, restructure. All things a skilled army does in the face of ignominious defeat.

Trollouche: Since the Magnavores are going underground, who's next on the horizon? :sneaky:

Alone in his candlelit crypt, Vexor flowed over to his partially opened sarcophagus and picked up the copy of The Big Bad Beetleborgs used to summon the latest round of Scabs and fighters. He then looked in the sarcophagus, where the other books they'd used to summon Monsters and Scabs now lay and tossed the latest book onto it. They were useless now, but at the very least they were fantastic reads.

He personally thought the author caught him perfectly as a menacing threat to reality.

At some point, very soon, he would like to meet Arthur Fortunes, and thank him personally for such a flattering portrayal.

A sick, screeching laugh left Vexor's throat.

"XASYR TMLUC FBQJQ KFWWJ MGLAP YJGYO WTIPV IFMHS SGEWZ PBONG DPBCR KZBFH."

And that laughter echoed through the crypt.

Kallen: ....that's fucking creepy. >_<

Trollouche: Credit where it's due, Vexor is a good villain.

Kaguya: One wonders how Mr. Fortunes came into contact with Bill Cipher or the idea for these characters. ¬_¬
 
Volume 5.5: The Trinity
This is not Volume 6. Welcome to Volume 5.5, an interlude that takes place because this is a VERY busy weekend for our gang. New faces, new adversities, and a paradigm shift or two to lead us into Volume 6.

= - = 5.5-1 = - =

|The Trinity|

In the hills on Echo Creek's edge, three teenaged girls walked along the steep roads that lead to the million-dollar homes that overlooked the town's suburbs and the rest of Los Angeles. All three were dressed alike, sporting the matching uniforms of their Private High School, albeit with slightly different colorations. The leading member of the procession, a blonde Caucasian with sharp eyes that bore an easily identifiable beauty mark under the left, wore a pink skirt and a dark blue jacket over her pink-collared gray shirt, and an obvious air of leadership. Right behind her was a shorter girl of Taiwanese descent, who wore a gray hoodie bearing their school's crest, and a green skirt whose color matched the barrette she wore on the left side of her hair to keep her short bangs from her eyes. The last girl, Thai in descent, was tall and slender to the point of almost being considered lanky, with messy auburn hair a few shades darker than her light brown skin and wore a purple variation of their school's uniform.

"Hey," the blonde said as she looked back at her companions. "You two ever been up here?"

Her lanky follower looked up. "Actually I haven't."

The shorter one looked up from her phone. "Me neither! But according to Maps we're almost there!"

Turning to look ahead, the blonde snorted. "It's like a whole different world, isn't it?"

The smaller girl brightened. "Like another planet, with strange denizens of unfathomable power and might!"

Tall and lanky let out a small laugh. "They're rich weirdos, not elves."

"Those are the same things when you think about it, living cloistered from the world, they're really clean, they meet in secret and mysterious ways…"

With a growl that shook through all three girls, a dark green super car, a McLaren 12c, came up the road and flew past them. The blonde and her tall friend leaped back from the curb separating them from the road in surprise as the car flew past, while their short companion tripped over her own feet in her flight, flailed, and flopped flat on her face.

"… Drive expensive cars with no regard for human life," she finished as the tall girl all but dove to help her to her feet.

The blonde looked up the road, watching the car disappear around the curve of the winding street. She smirked as she glanced back at her accomplices.

"Whatever they need to feel like they matter, right?"

Up that very same hill the girls ascended, at the Vanderhoff residence, Trip sat by his home's in-ground pool, scowling at the unlit fire pit. He was lost in unpleasant thoughts, dwelling upon what happened during that chaotic lunch period yesterday.

It wasn't just the fight itself that had gotten to him. A magical princess from another dimension attended their school, after all, anyone could attribute that to her. It wasn't the fact that Marco, Star, and Mabel all fought those weirdos with ferocious violence and intent to kill and vice-versa. Again magical princess. It wasn't even the fact that Jackie Lynn Thomas was all but clinging to Dipper's arm while he stood on the sidelines through the entire brawl.

What had Trip agitated was all of that, and what Misao had said before all hell broke loose.

"The only reason you are not in the hospital now, broken, is because you are pathetic in every way–the beating you deserve is not worth our time."

His scowl deepened, and he turned towards his brother. Van sat at the very edge of the pool, one leg dangling in the water, his thumb brushing up his screen to scroll through Instagram. His lips were curled into a tiny smile, like he didn't have a care in the world or in his head.

It pissed him off more, to see him so blithe. "What're you so happy about, dill weed?"

"I'm waiting for someone to see us about our Pine Tree problem," Van replied. "They hit me up just this morning and they're on their way."

So he had good news and wasn't just distracted by something shiny. Trip let out a sigh and stood up from his cushioned seat near the firepit. "Well, who are they? And can they fight?"

"I don't know, but they're from St. James High School and they have a plan to make Pine Tree's life miserable for an entire weekend."

That caught Trip's attention. "SJHS? On the other side of LA? It's the middle of the morning, they should still have school."

"Yeah, but they cut it to come meet with us." Van smirked. "That's how motivated they are."

Walking over to his brother's side, Trip dropped down and sat by the pool's edge, slipping both feet into the water. "Well… if they can take Pine Tree out for longer than a weekend, then even better."

Van looked fully away from his phone. "What are you talking about?"

"I mean, we gotta get him before he gets us. Or sends any of his stupid friends to get us."

Van rolled his eyes. "Oh, now you care. You're not wrong, that's why I bumped up the reward to ten thousand dollars and asked for more than just 'messing' with them."

Trip nodded in agreement. "We gotta get Pine Tree, his sister, and all of those other losers out of here." He said before a sound broke the peaceful morning.

CLACK!

Both brothers jumped and turned towards their house. Standing right by the doors into their house, wearing Converse sneakers, blue jean overalls, a pink and green striped shirt, and a green baseball hat was Gabe. He was looking down at a pink-cased smart phone in his right hand, while he held his wooden sword in his left like a walking stick.

Trip scrambled off the couch and got up onto his feet. "What are you doing here?! Who let you in?!" He looked past Gabe and called into the house. "DeMartino! I told you not to let this guy into the house!"

"Of course, Master Trip," Dudley called back.

"Your mans ain't paid enough to keep me out," Gabe said flatly.

"Of course, Master Gabe," Dudley duly agreed.

He paid the put-upon peon no attention. "I let myself in."

Van got up and walked up to him. "Then let yourself out before I throw you out."

In an instant the tip of the wooden sword was pointed at Van. "Nah, you can fuck around right there just outside of finding out distance."

Van hesitated; he'd paid fifty bucks to see how quickly Gabe could dismantle someone with that thing.

Satisfied that the bigger Vanderhoff wasn't interested in an intimate relationship with the pool deck, Gabe pulled the sword back to rest it on his shoulder. He walked, giving the brothers a wide berth, and sat on the same poolside chair he'd made himself at home in the last time he was here.

"So what do you want?" Trip asked.

"Wanted to know if you changed your mind," Gabe replied as he brought the tip of his sword back down to the pool deck and began to lightly scratch it back and forth while he looked again at his phone.

Trip made a sour face at him. "We're still not paying you a hundred grand to beat up Pine Tree."

Van agreed. "Yeah, what are you, stupid?"

Gabe looked up at them both. "Man, I'm not the one on Instagram offering money to beat up a kid." He stopped fiddling with his sword. "You got a problem, and you want it taken care of. I have a solution, and I want to be paid for my labor. It's basic economics."

"I don't care about basic economics, you're too expensive!" Trip yelled out.

Gabe looked aside. "No shit."

Van then asked the one hundred-thousand-dollar question. "Why the heck does a Haley want a hundred grand to kick someone's ass, anyway?"

It gave Gabe pause, and the Vanderhoff brothers both felt a chill sweep across them when his gaze fell back upon them. His expression had not changed, still flat and nonchalant, but now it felt like he was glaring clear through them.

"That's none of your business," he replied in a dead calm, even as the grip on his sword gradually tightened.

Van looked at Trip, suddenly worried that the young man was going to get up and thrash the two of them. Trip returned the look, silently blaming him for whatever thrashing may come from pressing that particular button.

"Master Van. A Miss Waybright, a Miss Wu, and a Miss Boonchuy are here to speak with you," Dudley announced from the patio door, reluctantly spoiling his own fun.

All three looked to the door, and from it emerged the three young women who'd spent their morning trekking up the hills of Echo Creek to reach their destination. Sasha Waybright, the blonde, smirked when the Vanderhoff brothers turned to her. Her taller companion to her left, Anne Boonchuy was more concerned and possibly interested in the brooding young man with the sword. Her shorter companion on her right, Marcy Wu, was paying attention to anything but the people around her–starstruck from being able to set foot in such an expensive house.

Van's first impulse was to regain his composure, slide his fingers through his hair, and turn to greet the visitors with a smile. "Ladies, welcome."

Trip and Gabe unexpectedly found themselves on common ground–silently exasperated at how quickly he'd changed gears.

Sasha's smirk grew as Van walked up to her and her company. Hands in the pockets of her jacket, she nodded to him. "Sup?"

Van already liked the blonde's tone from a single word. "Hey."

Marcy, realizing people were talking, stepped forward to introduce herself. "Hello, I'm Marcy…!" Without warning she tripped over her own foot and went stumbling forward with an awkward, almost penguin-like squawk.

Anne reacted with immediate alarm. "Marcy!"

Rather than go face first into the back deck, she instead went face-first into Van's chest. "Oof."

Van caught her, absolutely thrown off his game by the girl's misstep. "Uh… you okay?"

Still face first in his pecs, Marcy gave a thumbs up. "I'm great. Also you, uh… lift."

Placing his hands on her shoulders, Van carefully pushed Marcy back and took a cautious half-step back from her in the same motion.

Marcy brushed herself off. "Ahahah… man, those floors are polished."

Sasha placed a hand atop Marcy's head, patting her. "Just stay still and look cute, Mar-Mar."

Marcy quickly snapped at attention and brought a hand up to salute. "As a button, ma'am–ow!"

She swatted herself in the forehead.

As Marcy reassured everyone with a quick "I'm okay!" Sasha took over the introductions. "As I was saying, I'm Sasha, these are my friends Marcy and Anne."

When gestured to, both girls waved. "Hey, what's up?" Anne greeted.

Sasha talked over her. "We want to make Pine Tree's whole weekend a living hell."

Gabe used his sword to hoist himself to his feet, as Van brightly responded. "All right, cool! What do you got for us?"

Sasha smirked and placed a hand on Marcy's head. "Marcy here may not look like much, but she's the best hacker on the west coast."

Marcy giggled and snorted as she humblebragged. "I wouldn't say the entire west coast. South of Bailey, sure."

Sasha hooked her other arm around Anne's neck and brought her close. "And Boonchuy, here? She has a particular set of skills that are a nightmare to people like your mark."

Van looked at Anne, the taller girl looking more out of place than Marcy at the moment. "She does?"

Anne looked at Sasha. "… I do?"

Sasha glanced back at her companion. "Trust me, babe, you do."

She pecked Anne on the cheek, causing her to break into a small blush, then turned a smoky look onto Van. "When we're done with your problem, he won't want to show his face around town ever again."

Van audibly swallowed at the exchange of affection between the two girls, and Sasha's look of intent in his direction. His face colored a little, as he tried to maintain his cool demeanor. "Nice, nice…"

Watching the unspoken part of the exchange between Shasha and Van with muted disgust, Gabe inhaled deeply, and blew it out in a long, audible sigh. Resting his wooden sword against his shoulder, he shook his head and left for the wall surrounding the Vanderhoff home without a word. Trip watched him leave with a bit of a smirk.

"Nothing to say?" He asked. "Not even gonna put out a better offer?"

Gabe shrugged his shoulders without looking back. "Y'all got this; I'm out."

As before, he scaled the wall with ease, going up and over it like it wasn't over twice his height. Sasha's eyebrows rose, while Anne and Marcy both let out a long, quiet "Whoa" at the feat. Van regarded it with disgust at how easily he impressed the girls, while Trip considered talking to his Dad about putting razor wire over top of their wall.

"Forget about him," Trip said, bringing everyone's attention away from Gabe's exit. "You say that you can put Pine Tree down. How?"

Sasha smiled again. "Don't worry your handsome face, handsome. The plan is simple, and it takes advantage of a few things I've already figured out about your problem."

She had done her homework, both Trip and Van liked that. "Like what?" The former asked.

"Like that the guy has zero presence on the internet, is apparently a paranoid conspiracy theorist, and his sister–who has neither of those problems–wildly overshares details about her life on social media." Sasha's smile took on a wicked character as she continued. "Thanks to her, I know all of Dipper Pines' weaknesses… including the one we're going to exploit."

Van shivered and muttered aside to her brother. "... Man, she's hot…"

"She's out of your league,"
he whispered back. "Just to be sure. You're not worried about him catching you out, what if you have to fight him?"

Anne and Marcy both looked at Sasha, silently wondering the same thing. "Relax guys. They'll never see us coming, until we're already gone, and the damage is done."

She chuckled and flipped her hair, her confident charisma capturing both young men.

"… And even in the unlikely event that we do get caught? What's the worst that he can do?"

= - = 5.5-1 = - =

Welp, Amphibia is now officially part of the Verse. Welcome one and all the Calamity Trio.
 
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