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[CYOA] Capes and Crawlers:Re [IC]

Discussion in 'PbP IC' started by Master of Squirrel-fu, Nov 9, 2017.

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  1. Master of Squirrel-fu

    Master of Squirrel-fu Judging You Internally Moderator

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    The city of Dallas Texas was a hive of activity, the same as ever. Day and night it was hard for one to find a moment of stillness or quiet in it’s busy streets or packed recreation centers. As the fourth most populated city in America it should come as no surprise the amount of life that could be found in even the most abandoned areas.

    With that in mind, given the festive season and the early hour, it was little wonder that even a moderately sized strip mall closer to the more suburban areas of the city could be so crowded. Hundreds of people wandering around the place, reasons varying from holiday shopping to simply spending some time with friends.

    The day is November 1 2010. Christmas fast approaching and Thanksgiving far sooner there’s a fair bit of cheer in the air, if only thanks to the decorations of the place as it prepares for the holiday season. Despite the lateness into the Fall season it the weather was still a bit warm, even for a Texas Autumn, many people wearing simple and few layers of clothing.

    --------------------

    The mall is “T” shaped. At each end is a major story, two clothing stores on the adjacent ends and a Sears on the intersecting branch. The center has the food court and a Bank, there are no exits except near the ends of the branches. An electronics store is near on the top of the T-shape near the food court. There is a spectacle in the center of a large Thanksgiving decorations piece which is a large cornucopia but also a car that’s being given away as part of a lottery.

    In the food court is a girl with very short dirty blond hair and a long sleeve sweater drinking coffee. She looks very tired with an air of tension about her.

    In the electronic entertainment store nearby is a young pigtailed red haired girl being dragged along by a slightly older redhead with short but messy hair.

    Elsewhere, admiring some jewelry in one of the stands is a tall and very attractive blonde woman holding a black cat.

    Garahs, Darkoda, Merior, OverReactionGuy
     
    Ddmkm122 likes this.
  2. Threadmarks: Group Posts - It Begins - The Mall Incident [p1]
    Master of Squirrel-fu

    Master of Squirrel-fu Judging You Internally Moderator

    Joined:
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    Master of Squirrel-fu, OverReactionGuy, Darkoda, Garahs, Merior

    The city of Dallas Texas was a hive of activity, the same as ever. Day and night it was hard for one to find a moment of stillness or quiet in it’s busy streets or packed recreation centers. As the fourth most populated city in America it should come as no surprise the amount of life that could be found in even the most abandoned areas.

    With that in mind, given the festive season and the early hour, it was little wonder that even a moderately sized strip mall closer to the more suburban areas of the city could be so crowded. Hundreds of people wandering around the place, reasons varying from holiday shopping to simply spending some time with friends.

    The day is November 1 2010. Christmas fast approaching and Thanksgiving far sooner there’s a fair bit of cheer in the air, if only thanks to the decorations of the place as it prepares for the holiday season. Despite the lateness into the Fall season it the weather was still a bit warm, even for a Texas Autumn, many people wearing simple and few layers of clothing.

    --------------------

    The mall is “T” shaped. At each end is a major story, two clothing stores on the adjacent ends and a Sears on the intersecting branch. The center has the food court and a Bank, there are no exits except near the ends of the branches. An electronics store is near on the top of the T-shape near the food court. There is a spectacle in the center of a large Thanksgiving decorations piece which is a large cornucopia but also a car that’s being given away as part of a lottery.

    In the food court is a girl with very short dirty blond hair and a long sleeve sweater drinking coffee. She looks very tired with an air of tension about her.

    In the electronic entertainment store nearby is a young pigtailed red haired girl being dragged along by a slightly older redhead with short but messy hair.

    Elsewhere, admiring some jewelry in one of the stands is a tall and very attractive blonde woman holding a black cat.

    -------------------

    Aoife

    Having separated from her rather strict aunt a young girl wandered the mall, lost but uncaring of her destination. She earned quite a bit of attention, dressed as she was in such dated looking cloths as to look like a child from a period novel.

    Aoife D’Ruad simply walked on, trying her best to ignore the glances. Every so often tugging on the collar of her her scratchy wool blouse and adjusting the waist of the dress. Even her hair was kept in an uncomfortable bun, tugging at her scalp in a way that just made the entire affair stretch into a prolonged bit of constant unpleasantness.

    She took a few deep breaths, reminding herself that at the very least she would be allowed to purchase her own cloths with the allowance given to her. She just needed to endure for a while longer until she could buy herself a pair of slacks and loose fit fop like she’d had before, in her wardrobe still packed away at her new home and unlikely to see the light of day for for at least a few more.

    At the age of 10, looking like a little girl playing dress up she made an adorable sight. Looking for all the world like a lost child as she wandered, something that held more than a grain of truth, she seemed to attract even more attention if no one was quite willing to approach. The number of eyes on her, if unaware of the reasons, only made the tiny celt all the more nervous.

    Not wanting to remain in the public eye for longer than necessary the girl dodged into the nearest clothing store she could find, one thankfully catering to children.

    -------------------------

    Ayomide Avarette

    Today was so far incredibly slow. The entire place was still remarkably hot to the point that she was happy about not really needing to pay much attention to weather anymore, but that didn’t mean that she was going to ignore how the average person would dress in the heat; that way lay getting the wrong kind of attention.

    This didn’t stop her from trying to get any kind of attention though, and she could certainly feel the eyes on her as she stalked the food court, her light open jacket swaying with her movements as she proceeded with her goal to not pay for a single bit of food today, courtesy of some boys who were working with the wrong head right now.

    She gave one of her stalkers a faint smile and mentioned how much some caramel ice cream would be nice in this heat, and not even a good minute later, she had a cone of the stuff, the latest in a line of individually cheap treats as she happily abused the fact that she didn’t have to gain weight. Well that and kept an eye on the wandering hands as she enjoyed her ice cream, keeping them happy with idle chatter and some highly suggestive means of eating her foods that was probably the reason why they kept buying them in the first place.

    Well, no skin off her back if getting teased was their price for free food.

    ------------------------------

    Sayuri Hayabara

    Sayuri was seated alone in a booth at one of the most well-respected japanese restaurants in Dallas, incidentally located within the mall. Sayuri browsed PHO on her smart phone in between taking bites of sushi or sipping her miso soup.

    Every so often, she glanced at herself in the classy mirrored wall at the bar, to make sure her distinctive fox ears and other inhuman features were still hidden by the henge she had placed upon herself. Perhaps it was partially due to the memories, but more traditional dresses fit her style for casual wear than form-fitting jeans and blouses. They were also more practical if the spell started to slip.

    This location was one of the few she could relax at without being spotted by the american boys of her class as almost none of her classmates had any opinion of sushi different from being disgusted at the idea of raw fish. Perhaps their interest would wane if they were aware of her actual form, but realistically just being a heroic leaning cape would cause her popularity to soar.


    ------------------------------

    Annabel Thomas

    My it was sure packed in here. Was my thought as Sally May and I pushed through the crowd. We sure picked a fine day to go to the mall for Mrs. May’s gift.I didn’t know why Sally thought I would know what to get her better than her though. She’s her daughter and all. Still it was just nice hanging out with her instead of being back home at the ranch...huh.

    A bit of sparkling light caught my eye and I pulled on my friends sleeve to get her to stop. I saw the jewelry and a lightbulb just turned on in my noggin. Seeing a rather attractive blond admiring them only solidified the idea. So with a big smiled I grabbed my friend’s arm and started pulling her with me. She only gave a minor protest to the sudden shift in direction before I showed her my smile.

    “Think your Mom will like something shiney Sal?” I asked cheekily as I continued pulling her towards the nearest jewelry store. This is going to be such a fun day.

    “I don’t know An,” Sally said, “she does have a jewelry box but I don’t think she especially likes them.”

    “Well, let’s just check it out then and see if anything clicks.” I let go of her arm and we started to walk together at a more sedate pace.

    Sally gave me a smirk.

    “You just want to look at the “shiny things” again don’t you?”

    I blushed a little at the tease. Mom said it was one of my few feminine qualities or that I was related to one of them crows.

    “I swear it’s just to get your mom’s present,” I stopped walking and put a hand over my heart, “I cross my heart and hope to die.”

    Sally just raised her eyebrow and stared me directly in the eyes. I started to sweat nervously under her scrutiny and broke first.

    “Okay, okay…” I said and sighed. “ I want to look at the shiny things.”

    She nodded her head in triumph, looking mighty pleased with herself.

    “Honesty is for the best,” Sally said trying to sound wise beyond her years.

    We started walking again after my defeat. My shoulders sagging just a tad before I smirked to myself.

    “At least I’m not recommending you to get a giant Teddy bear,” I teased receiving a light shoulder punch in response.

    “Your mother loved that damn bear and you know it.”

    ------------------------------

    Rias Gremory

    In comparison to many of the others in the mall, Rias was wandering it listlessly. Her looks were catching a degree of attention though with bright crimson hair, a chest which was 'exaggerated', and a strange uniform competing for what the passing eye would most easily latch onto.

    For most of the onlookers, especially the men, it was her chest.

    Passing a travel agent she paused, frowning at the sign outside, then sighing when the exchange rate for yen to dollars shows just how badly the Japanese currency was doing. Her stomach rumbled and she moved on... then stopped stock still as though something had caught her eye.

    Her expression slowly turned into one of joy and relief before she hurried through the crowd, trying to reach whatever or whoever she had just spotted.


    ------------------------------

    The day went on as normal, with shoppers meandering about the mall and more people arriving and stands opening. As the afternoon began to roll around a crowd began gathering in the heart of the building the large circular chamber at which the three branches met. In the center of it gathered together a stage had been built in preperation of something.

    “Dong! Dong! Dong!”

    The large decorative clock that hung high above began to ring to signal the hour and a man in an immaculate magician’s suit and mask walked out from behind the curtains followed by two woman in similar suits and masks. The three waved cheerfully to the crowd of onlookers who in turn offered some polite applause as they took their positions on the stage. The man in the center and the woman retreating to the edges to fetch two large wheeled boxes. The three posed for the crowd.

    “Ladies and gentlemen,” Called a voice over the intercom, “Hope Springs mall would like to present The Great Amazo!”

    Smiling the man, with a flick of his wrist, conjured a bouquet he then threw into the air, the flora quickly bursting into confetti that fell onto the crowd.


    ------------------------------

    Having finished eating, Sayuri wandered the mall, checking stores and browsing for clothes and games. There was a store that dealt in board and card games and magic nostalgia swept through her as she peered at the cards within the glass case before moving on.

    The intercom came alive and curious, the disguised foxgirl decided to investigate what was going on.

    An illusionist was performing? Sayuri thought it was amusingly bland. Sleight of hand could be a clever mind puzzle, but it rather paled in comparison to true magic.

    Still, there was an upper floor to the mall where she could overlook, and it wasn’t like she was pressed for time. Crowds in general weren’t particularly welcoming to her, so she swiftly climbed a nearby staircase. There were few people watching from this floor and the distance meant nothing to her, so she cushioned her breasts over her arm and leaned on the railing to watch the show.



    ------------------------------

    Eventually, Ayomide got bored enough of her stalkers to override the fact that they were acting as her wallets and managed to get away from the main mass, promptly shifting direction once she was out of sight and moving deeper into the mall to get some space. Well she hit her limit on people, but she got to sample most of the food court for free, letting her skip one of the more annoying bits of exploring new areas.

    Now came the more boring part of marking down good places to visit later. Clothing store there, expensive version over there, a tool shop - she knew of a magical girl who could make anything once she understood how it was supposed to work, she might be able to copy that with enough practice. But first, she spied a stall that was selling some kind of pastry involving waffles and cream and she was there.
    New treat in hand, roamed the area again, the announcement for the show in of itself not quite getting her interest but she was bored enough to at least give it a shot. In a place where she could leave easily, which meant that she was going upstairs for a bit. At least up here there were far less people, just some girl who stood out mostly because she looked far too familiar to a certain game character. Hopefully that wasn’t an omen of something.

    Bouquet into confetti? Sure it’s not like he’s a parahuman but that’s a bit lame.

    ---------------------------------------------

    Dong! Dong! Dong!

    There was a shift in the crowd, children pulled on their parents clothes and told them in their childish way to hurry up. I had no idea what to think about it and didn’t get a chance as a jerkwad nearly bowled me over, hitting me on the side. I let out an angry cry, not falling over because I have a good sense of balance, but the jerkwad just ignored me. I stuck my middle finger out at his back for a slight revenge before I realised how stupid that was and stopped with a sigh.

    “You okay An?” Sally asked and I gave her a somewhat hesitant smile.

    “Haahha,” I chuckled a bit. “It’ll take more than one asshole to ruin my day so don’t worry.”

    Sally raised one of her eyebrows. “If you say so.”

    “Well!” I said loudly, unsubtly changing the topic. “Jewel shop is right there so let’s go!”

    I grabbed onto Sal’s arm again and pulled her towards the jewel shop. She sighed in exasperation at being manhandled again, but I saw her fond smile.

    “So, what do you think got the kids all in a tizzy?” Sally asked after a bit.

    “Who knows, probably something lame,” I opened the glass door to the jewel shop and my breath caught in awe. Rubies, sapphires diamonds of all cuts, gem encrusted gold and silver rings, necklaces, and all sorts of objects that would be fashionable and not gaudy all laid out stylishly showing of their unique charms. Even simple plain rings made my heart leap out with glee.

    “An, earth to An… are you in there?”

    The prices weren’t bad either, ah if only it was my birthday, I could get something nice that I can admire though not wear around the ranch because that’ll be a sure fire way to lose it and-

    Ow!

    I rubbed my head where Sally hit hit me and glared at her.

    “Glad to see you back with me An,” Sally said and then smirked, “Now come along, other people will want to enter the shop too ya know?”

    I felt my cheeks heat up a bit but mostly I just entered the store and pouted.

    “Jerk.”

    ---------------------------------------------

    "Ah, hello?" Rias said to Sayuri, or perhaps asked her, rather breathlessly as she approached the sole source of magic she'd seen so far in this strangely foreign city. Ironically the other girl was looking at a 'magic' show that someone was putting on. "I'm sorry to bother you, I mean, I don't mean to bother you, but I've got a... Well, I can't find anyone or anything I know and you're the first one that I saw who has any..."

    As the redhead spoke her words sped up, more of her inner panic and uncertainty leaking through into her tone and body language. The devil might have prefered a quieter place to bring up matters with the 'magic touched' girl, but given the way that both of the girls looked attention was something which would be hard to avoid for either let alone both.

    "...and my phone isn't working properly, it can't get at any of the Underworld servers, and there's nobody with- with anything around." She continued, barely resisting the urge to hug the other. "I can't remember everything and even my Pieces aren't right and I'm sure my family, my brother, would be grateful but there's things missing and can you... please?"

    Sayuri turned and blinked at frantic girl’s babbling. As she continued to talk, the fox girl grew concerned. The redhead did look rather familiar when she thought about it.

    “Slow down and take a deep breath. One thing at a time. What’s wrong?” The currently black-haired girl asked the redhead.

    Rias took a deep breath, a somewhat impressive sight, and tried to do as she was bade, "I... I fell through the Gap and now everything is wrong. I can't get hold of anybody, I can't remember everybody, and I saw someone flying in public."

    ‘Gap? I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me’, thought Sayuri as she processed what the other girl said. ‘Perhaps she’s someone who fell through a portal like the Travelers did? There’s a way to find out.’

    “The person you saw flying was most likely a cape.” Stated the fox girl carefully. “You said your phone wasn’t working correctly. May I see it?”

    Rias dug about then passed over her phone with a hopeful expression on her face. The phone looked to be an elegant and slimline model, one which seemed to scream 'expensive!' to even the casual eye, but the screen was showing some sort of error message albeit one where the text was in a jagged and unnatural font with a few Japanese characters added to the mix.

    For those who could understand such things it was complaining that the "Underworld Main Server" could not be connected to and the "Kuoh Academy Backup", that name being the Japanese text, could also not be contacted. It was retrying in 5... 4... 3...

    Kuoh Academy and Underworld Main Server? That would make her Rias Gremory with her hair that color. If this phone wasn’t connecting, then that meant she wasn’t from this dimension. Which meant that she would have to break the news to her. Rias was someone who rolled with new developments, right?

    “Ok, I think I understand your situation. Let’s get away from where people could possibly overhear.” Sayuri replied with concern as she led the older girl across the walkway so they could speak with some amount of privacy.

    She guided Rias to the corner of the Macy’s path before turning to the redhead and spoke quietly. “I believe you’re in a different dimension. A distant parallel world not connected to where you originate. Over here, humans will seemingly spontaneously develop a specific power, like from american comic books. They then don masks to hide their identities and usually become heroes or villains. Sometimes the line blurs between the two, but often villains are the worst sorts of people. The government here in the US is involved and they’re not making it better.”

    Sayuri looked at Rias expectantly as she waited for her reaction, but offered her arms up to accept a hug if the devil girl required one.

    The redhead had allowed herself to be lead away, privacy for conversations about the supernaturally being something she expected. Her face went oddly blank but remained attentive as she listened to Sayuri's words then slowly nodded.

    "I remember falling into the Dimensional Gap." She said slowly, "I thought that I might not survive but instead things happened. I lost bits of myself. And now I'm in an American manga?"

    After a hesitation she hugged Sayuri, desperation tangible in the way she clutched at the other girl, and in a quietly horrified voice she continued, "I... I can understand that. But I can't accept that I can't remember my darling Peerage. Not even their names! I... I had a Queen. And... There was a Rook? What was my brother's name? What was oniichan's name?"

    Sayuri’s shoulder’s slumped as she supported the other girl. She hated to see others in distress when she could help, and it’s not like it would really hurt anything if she knew. Maybe once she came to grips with her new situation. As it was, this was a bad place for that kind of revelation.

    ---------------------------------------------

    As discussions and the crowd continued about around them the show went on, the magician going through his routine as normal with great fanfare much to the excitement of the younger members of the crowd. With the beat of the music syncing his actions he made a wave of his cape, revealing a large box somehow appearing from within it, despite being larger than the man himself.

    He beckoned a member of the crowd to join him, eventually choosing a short brunet girl wearing a thick pair of glasses. He lead the girl into the box, closing it and spinning it around before gesturing for his assistants to run it through with swords one by one. Once the final blade was inserted the door was dramatically opened to show a lack of young girl inside.

    With a grin he closed the door and spun it again, faster and faster quickly plucking out the swords as they passed before stopping the box. With a snap of his fingers the box collapsed revealing…

    Nothing.

    There was a moment of silence as the magician looked a bit confused. The crowd politely clapped, assuming this to part of the act, something that quickly died as the Magician didn’t continue on and rather inspected the floor of the box.

    In flash a mechanical arm rose out of the floor, grabbing the man’s by his collar before a girl rose out of it like she had been hiding under the surface of a pool. She quickly locked the man in a headlock as even more people began climbing their way out of the floor, or walking out of walls like ghosts. The majority of these men were armed, wearing balaclavas and thick military vests.

    However what drew the most attention were the less threateningly dressed individuals who simply walked out from behind the curtains of the stage. A tall, well built, and handsome man in an immaculate suit, a stylized helix on his chest, was the first to appear. Followed soon after by a blonde woman in a cat suit and a familiar looking brunette in thick black robes. Behind them came another man, wearing a full body suit that covered his entire body including his head and was an ugly fleshy color with the only decorations being a large belt and metal covering over his crotch.

    “Hey, look what I caught!” The mechanical woman currently pinning the magician down shouted to her comrades, “Ya think this means I get a wish or is that just genies?”

    The apparent leader just seemed to ignore her, signalling to the armed men who were holding the crowd hostage. Quickly 10 of the 20 or so criminals separated and began to fan out.

    “Salutations Dallas shoppers,” He spoke his voice carrying over the whole area clearly despite him not raising his voice much, “I regret to inform you that your regularly scheduled excursion here at the Hope Springs mall has been interrupted by myself and my comrades. Please lay down on your stomachs and do not attempt to resist or my employees will be forced to retaliate. I hope you understand, if you all cooperate this ordeal will be over with quickly, disobedience will be… extinguished with swift efficiency. I’m sure even you lot are intelligent enough to value your life over a few bits of coin.”

    As if to prove his statement there were already several civilians lying on the floor nursing their stomachs and faces where they’d been brutally smashed in the face by their attackers. A few had tried to run but had quickly been stopped by other thugs or simply fell to the ground upon hearing one of the thugs open fire into the air. Very quickly the commotion stopped.

    ---------------------
    Round 1

    From above on the second floor two girls, both redheads noticed the commotion. The taller of the two puffed up her chest and took a step forward only to be grabbed from behind by her younger friend who covered her mouth.

    “Dammit, Natali, we’re not dressed for this,” Red, the appropriately named girl hissed into her friend's ear as she snuck them back into the dark gothic themed clothing store they were passing, “You can’t just jump in right now!”

    With a puff and a pout the taller girl complied after a moment of resistance. It was a fair point even if it rubbed the self-styled Magical girl the wrong way.

    “Fine, but we need to be quick, I don’t want to miss my entrance!” She answered before pulling herself out of Red’s grip and rushed towards the changing rooms in the back, “C’mon Red, those villains ain’t gonna stop themselves!”

    Elsewhere another young girl, a tall brunette blinked where she was in the sporting goods section of the Sears, having noticed the commotion quickly from the open area. With a frown she too began to sneak away, snatching up a few items as she made her way deeper inside the store.

    In the food court a dour looking young woman simply vanished from sight where she was sitting, completely ignored in the panic, while not far away a mousy looking petite girl pulled out her phone and ducked into one of the backdoors reserved for staff.

    Rias blinked in confusion, still holding onto Sayuri even as she tried to wrap her mind around what the voice had announced. Uncertain as to what to do, or what might be expected to do, she frowned at the sight of people being hurt then quietly asked the woman who she was embracing, "Should we do something or is this when the heroes arrive with a dramatic entrance...?"

    Sayuri grit her teeth as the villains made their demands. “We are the heroes, if you want a dramatic entrance, we should get you some kind of mask.”

    Taking Sayuri's advice as golden, Rias ducked into the nearby store and looked for something to use as a makeshift mask. And possibly a coat, or other long garment, to conceal her body given the distinctiveness of her uniform.

    The closest store happened to be very nearby, just adjacent to the quart around the corner and Rias was able to quickly enter even while taking steps to avoid being spotted. However her caution was for naught. Below her the watchful eye of a certain parahuman was able to quickly spy her actions. With a glare he found another of his men and pointed, similarly catching the attention of the brunet by his side with a heavy hand laid on her shoulder. Quickly the thug disappeared into a nearby wall exiting the floor above to follow the redheaded girl out of sight into the store.

    The man entered the shop, gun raised, trying to look through it quickly and spot the target. Seeing a mop of redhair peeking above one of the clothing stands he advanced quickly. With a charge he rushed the person gun raised to act as club.

    “The boss said to get on the ground!” He called as he smashed downward.
    “Not my boss,” The man blinked as seeing a small red-haired girl staring back at him with a sour look, her off hand gripping the stock of the rifle casually before it could reach her head, “And that was rude, how would you like if I did that to you?”

    Instead of waiting for an answer she simply forced the gun back smacking the man in the face and knocking him out.

    With a parting kick into the man’s ribs she turned to where the other redhead had snuck into the changing stalls.

    With Rias running inside to change, and one of the thugs following to catch her, Sayuri decided to follow suit. Instead of looking for a costume, she instead crawled under one of the round racks of clothes being displayed and dove into a gap where her Ran outfit was gathered. One of the nice things about dresses was that they were easy to slip on and off at least.

    Ayomide didn’t know what to make of the comedy skit that she ended up seeing. First there’s a Reimu lookalike, and then some busty far too attractive girl in a school uniform jumped onto her and went on about getting Gapped before the Reimu took the two away. Then like all bad comedies, it stopped being funny quickly when the show below got a case of Villainous Interruptus.

    On the better side, no one was dead yet. She was noting the faces of a few thugs that she was going to make sure to hurt though. Not particularly wanting to expose herself doing so though, she took advantage of the red head and Reimu drawing attention to make a better show of sneaking her way to the bathroom.

    Once inside and making sure she was alone, a flash of twisted light and a darkly amused magical girl stood in front of the mirror, suppressing the flinch from how oddly different she looked. She had time to simply prepare and charge out in a surprise attack…..but these idiots had already shown themselves to leap to violence far too quickly.

    Well fine, those other two were clearly up to something, she could at least get those thugs focused on something else for a bit. The things I do…….

    The bathroom door wasn’t so much opened as kicked in, one magical girl Thema walking out like she owned the place. “Okay idiots, I can guess your answer but I’ll try anyway. Drop the guns and get on the floor and you get to leave without broken bones.”

    The thugs, three total, turned their heads to the commotion, one of which violently grabbing the purse off a particularly irate looking woman.

    Notice the cape they tense.

    Down below with the waiting villains one was not quite so patient nor content to just sit and wait while nameless thugs went about making money for them.

    With a wolf like howl the most outrageous of the lot, dressed in a body stocking matching his skin tone, Codpiece jumped to the front of the stage clapping his hands above his head.

    “Awooooooo!” He bellowed while gyrating his hips, “Yeah baby lets get this party started!”

    With a lewd grin he placed his hands behind his head and punctuated his announcement with powerful thrust of his hips, firing a white beam from his crotch over the crowd and smashing into one of the pillars.

    “Aw, honey there’s no need to be shy, I don’t bite~” He called out, “But if you like it rough I’m more than ready babe!”

    He readied his hips to fire another beam at the pillar as a woman in a rather form fitting flight suit rushed out from behind her cover.

    The woman’s entire costume covered her body entirely, an opaque glass hiding her face. Her petite form made it hard to even guess her gender at a glance, only the pink and white color scheme serving as an obvious gender indicator.

    “Please,” She spoke, her voice young and accented, “I’ve seen enough of commenters like you to know you can’t handle me in 1v1. IF you want a piece of me you need to get good!”

    Quickly she pulled her pistol from her side, aiming and firing before rushing away from the crowd further back into the area under the food court hoping to lure in the villain.

    She grinned as watched her handywork as the man collapsed on his knees, hands holding his crotch where the Kinetic Energy bolt had struck.

    “I’m not into this kind of play,” He mumbled as he tried to get his bearings back.

    “From the way you’re dressed I would have guessed the exact opposite, Dick!” Chirped a cheerful robot as she came up to pat the man on the back. Her earlier catch having been handed off to her blond accomplice who simply sat on the magicians back as he wiggled about, “Sure she got away from you but look on the bright side, she was a real ball buster ey?”

    With a chuckle she jumped off the stage in pursuit, somersaulting over the crowd to close the gap.

    “Don’t go yet Mechy! Don’t you think a fan deserves an autograph?” The grinning cyborg landed in front of the fleeing woman reaching out and grabbing her arm, “Well then how about a hug?”

    She smirked as she pulled the struggling young hero into her, wrapping her arms around the girl to restrain her.

    -----

    Having a clear view of most of the action right from the start two young girls were helpless to do much as a pair of thugs entered the jewelry store they’d been unlucky enough to have been in prior to the incident. One, a vicious looking man with a scared face and bright red hair gelled into spikes went to work and with a remarkable amount of professionalism he went about collecting the precious items. Surprisingly rather than simply breaking the glass he chose to grab from the open case first.

    “Oi, old man the rest better be open by the time I finish or things will be getting messy,” He said.

    Meanwhile the other man didn’t do much, simply keeping his gun held at read before spotting a certain young girl, a girl wearing some expensive jewelery and holding some more. With a grin he shoved his way past several cowering people to snatch a ring out of the girls hand, while grabbing her by the back of her shirt and pulling her upwards painfully.

    “Yo, hand over the goods you little bitch,” He spat and threw her back against the counter, “I aint asking twice!”

    The brunette didn’t react at first causing the man to growl and grab her hair, manhandling her.

    “Did I stutter, I want dat necklace,” He shoved his face into hers, “Take it off now if ya know what’s good fo you!”

    “Let her go!” Annabel shouted despite the fear she felt. Her friend was in trouble and her mother didn’t raise her to let that go unanswered. So, likely running more on adrenaline than anything else, she tried to punch the thug so he would let go of Sal.

    To Annabel’s surprise the blow actually hit the thug right on the face causing him to let out a grunt but he didn’t let go of her friend. If anything the punch just pissed him off further.

    With an angry scowl he stood up to his full height, towering over the young girl. And with one mighty motion threw most of his weight into a back hand, landing square in the girls jaw. Annabel was through to the ground stunned.

    “Well fuck you too girlie,” the man said as he began to advance, his heavy boots thudding ominously, “Ya think you can just g-”

    He was cut off as a glass jewlery case smashed into the back of his head from behind actually staggering him to the ground and causing his head to bleed. He turned backwards to see a scared girl behind him, the only person who could have struck him so cleanly.

    He didn’t bother with words, instead taking a step forward and throwing a hard punch right into her face, smashing the girl into the glass display cases behind her. He didn’t let up, rushing forward to stomp hard on the girls unprotected sides as she wriggled on the ground in pain. Even as she cried the man kept stomping even as his partner rushed his way over towards the commotion.

    Annabel sat there in a daze as she watched her friend try to save her ass. She watched as her friend was smashed into the glass case. She watched on as the thug stomped her, trying to kill her. She didn’t register the other thug rushing in the scene. Even as blood dripped down her chin and her vision blurred as she started to black out… she had but one wish. The power to save her friend.

    Two very different souls found themselves the only light in an impossible void of darkness, and despite the great vast eternity they collided and merged, forming a new being of unfathomable potential from the pieces.

    When she woke up, she had a new perspective. She was confused as to why she was on the floor, so she sat up in a daze. She blinked her eyes to clear up her vision, vision that was much better than before as she saw clearly two grown men standing over a girl’s body. Her heart ached at the sight but she didn’t know why. Annabel focussed on the girl on the ground, trying to figure out who she was. But it was a loss cause, though something else did happen.

    The girl wasn’t moving, Annabel thought as she slowly got up from the ground, There’s blood everywhere...even on me.

    Annabel wobbled as she stood up straight, a hatred burned in her chest greater than anything she experienced before. She narrowed her eyes and words came to her that promised a swift vengeance.

    “Include; Berserker,” The words uttered with an eery calm before the everything went began to blur together. Thoughts and emotions swirling together and becoming less clear, leaving just instinct. And rage. Her entire body tensed, muscles flexing and preparing to spring forth a fountain of unstoppable destruction. She threw her head back, “▂▂▃▃▄▄▅▅!”

    What came forth from the girl’s throat could not be classified as a scream, or even a roar. It was bellowing noise that shook anyone hearing it down to their core, a pitch so deep and powerful that one’s very bones felt rattled by the vibrations.

    “Dammit Tony you can’t ju-” The spikey haired punk was cut off by the paralyzing wave of fear that washed over him as he heard the terrifying noise, barely having enough time to glance at the source before the thing was on them. He didn’t hesitate for a moment, years of instinct taking over as he did one last desperate act.

    Tony was too shocked to react as his friend shoved him to the ground, only able to watch in shocked horror as the man he knew seemed to explode into a cloud of gore, the middle of his body simply vanishing as his legs and upper torso flew away.

    “Rey!” He shouted, desperately reaching out to where the man had stood just moments before. He didn’t get a chance to act further as a giant stone ax, a massive thing more resembling a sharpened club than any real weapon, dropped with titanic force and pulped the shocked man.

    In the quiet of it all, as the smoke began to settle those left were able to see the cause.

    Beside the crater stood a thing, only human in the most basic of appearance. Stone grey skin covered toned muscles. And on it’s head was long map black hair, tangled and unclean. Its face was the worst, twisted horribly in a vicious snarl with lips pulled back painfully far over animalistically jagged teeth. It’s eyes however, it’s eyes held not even the intelligence of a beast. Rather the only thing that filled those eyes was a cold hateful rage, burning in it’s own right but ultimately lightless.

    The thing stood there for a moment, soaked in the gore of the two men it had just killed and all around it too fearful to react. And then it raised it’s ax.

    Bam!

    The weapon was smashed back down into what little remained of Tony spraying even more of the blood that remained about. And again it raised it’s ax before smashing it down with earth shaking force. Harder and harder, faster and faster, the shockwaves alone beginning to tear apart the store around it.

    Outside its presence was not missed, quickly picked up on by a brunet villain. With a frown she snapped her fingers, not bothering to wait for orders lest she miss her one chance to nip a possible catastrophe in the bud.

    Inside the shop the creature had it’s fill turning towards the glass, somewhere in what was left of it’s mind it remembered these people that they were the cause of its anger and it launched itself forward with enough force to shatter the floor around it. It met the glass in less than the blink of an eye.

    Bam!

    The creature flew out of the ceiling of the little shop down into the floor with all the force of it’s jump.

    “Well,” the brunet stated as she watched the creature try again through one of the other walls to the same result, “That escalated quickly.”
     
    DankAnonymous, Ddmkm122 and Avther like this.
  3. Threadmarks: Group Post - Mall Incident 2
    Master of Squirrel-fu

    Master of Squirrel-fu Judging You Internally Moderator

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    ROUND 2

    “Yeah, that’s not really something you see everyday,” The blonde woman said as she picked herself off the magician to take a more defensive stance, “And more than a bit outside of our pay grade. Cap?”

    She called to the apparent leader of the group.

    “What say you? We have our own little roid beast waiting for the perfect chance to splatter us, and it doesn’t seem to mind collateral damage,” She gave a sad look towards the destroyed interior of the shop in which it was trapped, a handful of people tossed around like puppets, “Jesus, it’s like watching a toddler play with bugs in a jar. This seems like a lot more heat then you were saying we’d be getting. In a variety of ways.”

    The man could tell the woman was upset, worried and angry even if she was hiding it rather well. He frowned in thought, picking his words well since he knew that a misspoken phrase could mean being abandoned by the pair as they beat a hasty getaway like the honorless little guttersnipes they were.

    “The creature was not anticipated,” He replied, giving the thing a glance as it continued to try and brute force it’s way out, “But it doesn’t appear to be a problem anymore thanks to your partner. You shouldn’t bother worrying about retaliation, the creature's actions are it’s own, if anyone is to blame for this bit of misfortune it lies squarely on it’s shoulders.”

    The blonde frowned, but nodded and turned back to where the mass of sinue and rage was currently trying to punch it’s way through another wall futily. She was aware that Breach’s trap wasn’t perfect, there were limits and even if it wasn’t clever enough to find a way out Breach would need to drop the effect to be able to let them escape.

    The man turned back to watching the Mall with a sigh. Then, surprised, his eyes widened and he made an abruptly interrupted attempt to jump back as a fireball smashed down onto his position. Unfortunately he acted a bit late and grunted as the flaming ball exploded across his chest leaving a few painful burns.

    “Wha-” Be bit off his words as he saw something quickly approaching from his side and braced himself. A young redhaired cape dashed into his guard with a stabbing palm strike to his kidneys, only to curse as the precise attack failed to achieve anything of note in the face of his evolved biology. She pulled back as the man retaliated, the heavy fist intersecting the space her head had been moments prior.

    “Villain!” Came the shout from above, “Prepare yourself to be devastated!”

    A young girl in a mismatched stood on the railing of the floor above, her arms crossed and a pink toy wand clutched in her hand. She grinned widely and pointed down at him fiercely.

    “For today you face the might of the Lovely warriors of Truth and Justice! Get ready to taste our greatness!”

    Ubermench was a calm man, a rational man who had lived through many battles and seen many horrible things. A non-insignificant amount of which he was responsible for. Yet even he couldn’t stop the dumbfounded look from reaching his face at the sight of his opposition. He turned a doubtful look onto his other opponent.

    “...I’m not with her.”

    Ubermench felt a bit of worry leave him, at least one of them had some sense of shame.

    Sayuri finished dressing and dropped the transformation to be completely clothed in the tabard and dress Yakumo Ran wore in the Touhou games. Had those games existed in this dimension then she might have been a bit more concerned about being identified as such. Instead, she simply borrowed the costume design without worry. Nodding to herself in satisfaction, she gapped to the deck in front of Macy’s and took stock of the situation.

    There were more hostages than she wished to see, but also luckily more heroes, including two actual magical girls, were appearing. Hopefully, she could draw all of their attention to her and drag out the confrontation to allow even more help to arrive and overwhelm them with numbers. Seriously, who would try to rob a packed mall when anyone could be a cape?

    “Wow, villains are trying to hold a mall hostage and already there are magical girls on the scene? This reminds me of home. I suppose I should be polite and offer you the chance to surrender before we… chastise you. Any takers?” Sayuri called out loudly as she leaned over the railing with her tails flared out behind, her eyes and ears sharp for the inevitable attempts to attack her.

    Further down the way a group of men who had been moving into the area came to a stop on spotting a another girl making a similar declaration.

    “Cape!” One shouted pointing towards Thema, the closest target, the men quickly picked up their guns and took aim spraying bullets at the girl with their rifles.

    Well it wasn’t as if she didn’t see this coming. At least this way, she didn’t have to worry about anyone else getting shot, just herself and well she wasn’t about to let herself get fulled of bullets via a bunch of morons. She waved and grinned and made the group look like a bunch of untrained children via cartwheeling along the wall and out of the way of the bullet rain that was coming a bit too close to hitting - mental note, guns are the tools of the untrained for a reason.
    “Well that was pointless. Just keep in mind for when you wake up; I warned you.” She clapped her hands, keeping their attention as she showed them a real magic trick, flicking a wrist and sending a thick ring at the lead goon. The chakram smashed into his head and bounced into the one next to him, before going for the hat trick and clubbing the last one before he could think of running.

    “Everyone here okay? Okay, just stay low and keep their guns in case someone else comes by or they somehow wake up.” For their sakes, they’d better not before the police showed up, she’d hit them harder next time. Her magical spinning ring bounced down and shoved the rifles to her in less than stellar condition - they probably weren’t going to fire properly anymore.

    Now for the actual villains here, she couldn’t see what’s been going on since but she could see one ‘Magical girl’ on the railings. Given this, she took a far more sedate pace back over, quite happy to not draw too much attention while she took stock of the battlefield.

    It was...something. In one corner, that starter villain Selfie holding down some girl with a gun, one Nazi - and oh she had her next target - and…..

    Yeesh, don’t know what happened there, but that is going to be ugly.

    Some kind of roided out monster that was turning a store into a horror show. And how was that guy still alive with only half of him? Well, at least said monster couldn’t actually leave the store….and Thema remembered seeing that guy amongst the goons. Great, one of these idiots probably made someone trigger and all hell broke loose. At least that portal girl was out of the way while the berserker was stuck.

    For now, she’d focus on what she could deal with now, trying to hit Selfie while she was holding someone else was probably not that wise, she wasn’t sure of her control that much but the Nazi? That was different.

    ----

    Rey Rodriguez was a simple man, in his late teens he was really more of a boy in the eyes of most people who knew him. Not very bright but certainly not dim, he was often left alone simply due to his appearance. Tall, naturally broad, and pinched squinty eyes he was often considered a criminal or a punk. And as it was, after being unable to get work due to this profiling he turned to something a bit less reputable in order to feed himself.

    And that was how a 17 year old Rey and his friend Tony had ended up becoming Professional henches. It was decent money, it needed to be to get people to willingly and blatantly break the law and bring down the attention of local heroes. He’d been eating fairly well recently, got himself a new jacket, and a new game he was planning on schooling Tony at when they got back from a quick snatch and grab.

    And then everything went to shit.

    Rey could blame a lot of people for where he was right now. Lying gasping in a puddle of his own gore as some freakish mutant started crushing pulling out his various organs. Something that was shockingly less painful than he would have assumed, but he chalked that up to shock. He could have blamed his rather morbid circumstances on the girl who was currently trying to play doctor in the worst way possible. He could perhaps blame Tony for once again being an fuckwit and ruining a good thing. He could even blame the Aryan Asshole for setting everything up and not doing the goddamned research.

    But no, the one he blamed was himself.

    “Should have…,” he grunted as his lungs started to grow back, “Taken that plumbing job.”

    He didn’t resist as the thing lifted him up again grabing his exposed spine and welding him like a demented club.

    At least then I’d only smell like shit instead of look like it.

    Rey closed his eyes as the creature reared back and once again tried to use him like a squishy rock to break the window.

    ----

    Koyare Daze looked upon the scene she found herself in. A real life magical girl knocked out some goons that were planning on robbing everyone here, a brunette is gaining a minor revenge on the one who took her purse by kicking him in the side while he was down and there were more of the villainous minions out there. Just nowhere near her.

    Koyare sighed, her shoulders sagging a little.

    Well, this mall trip went to hell, she thought and shook her head before looking at the downed goons.

    Koyare was here for only a few reasons, both of them equally embarrassing. One was to just maybe, maybe find someone worth her time and the other was to secretly try on some more feminine clothes far away from the people who actually knew her. All of this was ruined the moment some villains decided to show up and crash the place.

    So with that in mind, she decided that she didn’t really want these people getting off scot free and leaving the thugs just laying around was just asking for them to escape when the dust is all settled.
    Filled with determination and just a little spite to see that not happen, Koyare started walking up towards the goons. Along the way she thought about how she was going to do this.

    Strip off their shirts and use that to tie their hands? Take off their belts and use them to tie their feet together?

    Koyare didn’t really know what would be the most effective for restraining them and wished there was a convenient rope just lying around somewhere for her to use, or maybe that she brought her chain with her despite everything… she realised she was going to need to invest in some zip ties or something after this.

    So my options are stripping them of their shirts which I won’t do, not that I cared or anything… just seems wrong, she thought with a shudder, That leaves…

    Koyare smiled as she got to the thugs, ignoring the brunette’s confused glance, and got to work. First she took off the gun straps and used them to bind the thugs arm’s together behind their backs. Second she stripped them of their belts and did her best to bind their legs together. And lastly, she started to tie their shoelaces together for the hell of it.

    Whipping her forehead's imaginary sweat with a self satisfied smile plastered on her face, Koyare proceeded to get to the important part now that all the thugs were successfully bound but not gagged, as she didn’t have anything to use as a gag near by, looting. She started to pat the thugs down one by one, finding some sidearms the magical girl missed and taking them away from the thugs. She decided to keep one with her just in case she would need to use it to defend herself.

    It was then she came to regret her decision to loot.

    “What the…” She muttered as she took out a magazine. Opening it up without looking at the cover, Koyare quickly dropped the magazine like it was on fire. She then looked at the thug who brought a damn porn mag to a heist in disbelief.

    “Give me a break…”

    ---------

    "You should be more careful," Aoife said flatly to Rias, gesturing to the now fallen thug where he lay sprawled on the floor, "You actions can affect more than just yourself."

    She stared at the devil for a long moment then asked blandly, "But, for now, I assume you plan to do something about all this?"

    "I could take him outside, although I don't know many places to take him," Rias admitted, her voice somewhat muffled by her makeshift 'mask', "However it might be better to find as many innocent people in a group as I can and take them away instead though."

    Aoife narrowed her eyes in thought.

    "I'd prefer to let this sort itself out but I think things may have escalated beyond the point were this can be settled with everyone getting out without a scratch," She gestures out the door to the area bellow, "Careful, keep low so they don't see you. We will need to move quickly and not interfere, there is a demon trapped below by the enemy, I fear that they may release it if they feel cornered."

    Rias started to nod then looked visibly startled at the mention of a demon. However she steeled herself and ducked down, pulling more of the scarf over her head to minimise the visibility of her attention grabbing crimson hair. Softly she murmured, "If you know the way then I'll follow."

    Aoife nodded and hurried the older redhead along, making sure to hug the wall to remain out of sight of those below. The two quickly made it to the food court to see the area most filled with people and even a few thugs knocked unconscious.

    "Well, that makes my job easier," She says, "wait in the centre and prepare to move them but don't call out there's more enemies about, I'll gather up the stragglers while you spirit away those you can."

    "When I leave, if I'm not just going by myself, then it is rather indiscriminate." Rias warned as she kept close by, "And I definitely wouldn't call the departure 'subtle'."

    Aoife frowned and stared at her, "Fine then the point of avoiding conflict is moot, take as many as you can and return once able. I will work to defend this position. It is unlikely we will be able to release any significant fraction of the hostages but any amount is better than none."

    "I thought it better to warn you rather than leave you thinking that I could ferry groups out quietly," Rias explained then frowned as she peek out towards the food court. "...I might be able to get to the middle if I stay down below the level of the tables."

    "There's no longer a point in remaining hidden so I will make this quicker," She said standing up, "Everyone, if you wish to escape gather in the center of the court!"

    Once done she turned back to her ally, "There you go, that should let you remove them all in one go. Just be sure to hurry back."

    Rias nodded and stood up, straightening her shoulders and giving a show of calm confidence as she moved to the centre of the open space.

    "Everyone, please, come closer to me!" The redhead called out, her voice still slightly muffled but her open body language speaking of her honesty, "I can get us out, I can get us to safety, but I need you to get close enough to me."

    Despite the fear, the panic, and the imminent dangers offered by the presence of the villains and their thugs there was something about Rias which seemed to reassure and call to those who had been trapped in the mall by the attack. Slowly and first, but then with more confidence as others stepped forward, they gathered towards and around Rias as she had asked.

    Watching the elder girl move forward Aoife stared at her back. The young woman had a sense of power about her that could be felt as a tangible thing, an innate sense of knowing of “Strength” in a perception that she couldn’t accurately describe. She couldn’t say how strong the girl was, only that she was capable.

    Aoife found this confusing in a way, to her senses, or rather to her second sight the girl was nothing more than an ordinary person. Not even a hibernating spirit waiting on her shoulder for a chance to awaken and yet she knew this person was anything but a normal person. Despite her caution however Aoife did find herself offering an olive branch of sorts, a small amount of trust to be able to do as she claimed despite seeing what appeared to evidence to the contrary.

    If it turned out she had been deceived she’d be annoyed but ultimately she doubted too great a cost would be taken from her. The older girl on the other hand, well while Aoife would make no move to attack she would not protect the girl from those she offered a fake salvation, she was not one to divert rightful punishment of those wronged.

    With yet another sigh she sagged her shoulders in a slump in preparation of what was to come.

    Then, like a snake, Aoife whipped her hand out to the side and grabbed what appears to be the empty air beside her.

    "Not so fast," She stared at where she's grabbing, "I do not need my eyes to see you trying to sneak away like a thief in the night. Show yourself or best pray you can fly."

    There was a moment of silence before a young and tired looking girl materialized in her grip hands raised, "Ugh, there's always at least one of you in every fight. Look, I promise I'm on your side."

    "And which would that be?" Aoife asked tightening her grip and starting the lift the admittedly taller girl in the air.

    "Mine," Aoife jumped as a ...girl? Someone, in a tweed suit and mouse ears snuck up behind her, A reflexive strike met nothing but air only to whip her head around as she felt her had being forced down, and there in her blindspot stood the cape again, resting her cane on the redhead’s wrist. She took off her hat and took a bow, "Mighty Mouse, Leader of the Dallas Wards at your service. Now I'd like to kindly ask you to let go my friend. While I'm always glad to see someone so eager to protect others I'm rather protective of my dear partner, she's a rather delicate sort."

    Seeing the girl and realizing just who it was Aoife bit her lip but complied. She could recognize the girl from her appearances, even the advertisements, it would have been difficult to not know who she was given her posterchild status.

    “Outstanding,” The girl, yes Aoife could more clearly see that now with a closer look as her hips and posture were definitely feminine, smiled and helped her partner up sympathetically, “Now that we’ve reached a civl understanding I believe we can cooperate since the three. Ah, no I suppose it’s four, of us have a common goal.”

    “I’m not going to fight,” was the fast reply of Aoife cutting of the girl, “Not unless I have to.”

    There were a multitude of reasons for this, not the least of which being her lack of costume. Aoife’s eyes grazed the crowd gathering around her new ally desperately.

    “Yes of course,” rather than disappointed the grey haired cape sounded proud, confusing her conversation partner and leaving her actual partner looking rather exasperated, “I understand your sentiments completely, in fact that’s why suggest we team up. Your friend isn’t the only as you can see, love. In fact I was making some respectable progress on the evacuation efforts prior to spying your unfortunate tussle with our little Cheshire. All I ask is for a bit of cooperation and protection should we not prove fully up to the task.”

    As this was occurring the rest of the combatants did not sit idly. Across the way two of the gunmen had managed to make it up to the second floor, taking aim and rushing forth to restrain a certain boastful and gaudily dressed cape still making speeches to the embarrassed fighters below. The two quickly rushed forward arms outstretched only to meet empty air blinking in surprise.

    “Ho? A dastardly attempt to catch me unawares?” Boasted the young girl who’d leapt backwards a step having noticed their approach and dodged with ease, “Ha, as if such cowardly tricks can overcome a lovely warrior of justice!”

    On the stage below the man known as Codpiece managed to get himself back onto his feet, eternally grateful for the protective plating he had on his costume to secure his most precious appendage. Painful, but not debilitating, that described his situation.

    He took a moment to survey what had occurred while he ensured he had not taken a loss he could not recover from. To his right he saw the carnage that was the room keeping the creature trapped, coated in blood and currently using what appeared to be a screaming man as a club to break a window that looped back into a wall behind them. Scary but strangely sexy with how her hair hair stuck to body and how it made the very small amounts of clothing she wore cling to her curves and muscles. Still, he knew his limits and didn’t think he’d survive an attempt at her in either instance. Not a girl to be trifled with, perhaps fantasized about later that night when he was enjoying the spoils of his work but not trifled with.

    Above him he saw the alterations taking place between various young girls, all very attractive and most of which having some nice curves. He’d certain love to be up there, but sadly it seemed the boss’s hired transporter was preoccupied keeping all of them unfucked, in the best of ways, by the scarousing creature that was getting more creative in it’s attempts to escape. He didn’t really want to walk so far in his condition.

    He turned his attention back to what was before him, the cute little robot restraining the resisting woman in a tight suit that did all sorts of interesting things as she struggled. He’d have to see about following up with the hot bot to see if he could get a copy of the recordings she was no doubt making of this.

    And just before him was his boss currently in a fight with a cute little redheaded girl, both of which appearing surprisingly matched, even if the girl was doing very little in the way of damage on any strikes she was able to land.

    He considered for a moment assisting his boss against her, to hopefully get in a surprise attack from behind as redhead seemed to have forgotten his existence. He considered hard as the girl landed smoothly facing away from him entirely focused on the boss. A single thrust and....

    ...No. No, even he had some standards after all.

    Abandoning the motion and feeling a bit better about himself he moved around the fight to where his favorite rogue was pinning her unlucky opponent.

    Yusin Kim, better known to the world as MechTech Rider, growled as the grinning villain tightened the grip on her neck restraining the hero. She wasn’t used to fighting outside of her suit, admittedly she trained for such scenarios but more often than not it was not something that came up fortunately. Or perhaps unfortunately as she had misjudged her opponent's strength and was locked in this unpleasant position. She really hoped no one was recording this, her pride couldn’t handle people seeing her make such a newbie mistake as attempting to wrestle a robot.

    Still, she was no stranger to bad situations and had the skills to pay the bills. With a grin she went limp in the villain's grasp throwing her opponent off balance. Taking up a grin matching the challenger’s own she twisted around in the slackened grasp, planting a firm boot in the bot’s gut to push herself away into a roll.

    Springing back to her feet she turned back around around in a ready stance.

    “Counter Success!” She cheered, ““Mech-Tech Rider Rejoins the fight!”

    “Nice turnaround!” Far from upset Selfie was smiling harder as she bounced on the balls of her feet, “Guess you do have some skillz after all, and here I was worried you were all bluff and bluster. Well I’m about to knock you off that winning streak of yours, hows about a little 1v1!”

    There was little warning as the woman simply shot forward in a powerful leap fist cocked back covering the distance with ease.

    “PAWNCH!” with that delightful epitaph the villain smashed through the recovering hero’s guard with her enhanced strength striking her square in the jaw of her mask staggering her back and causing the girl to sway from from sense of dizziness that having her head knocked about so instilled.

    “Owned!” Selfie cheered, “That will definitely be the highlight of the stream for sure!”

    Seeing an opportunity one of the men guarding the hostages lifted his gun and opened fire on the distracted hero.

    “Yeep!” The girl dodged back out of the way of the stream of bullets, her pilot suit could withstand it but it’d hurt none the less, “No fair! You don’t bring back up to a duel!”

    “Think of them as stage hazards!” Selfie smiled, “Keeps you on your toes!”

    On the stage the brunet cape began to take in her surroundings feeling confident that the monster she had managed to trap was secured for the moment. With a glare she was able to spot the ruckus that occurred above having heard a certain redhead’s declaration and spying another of unfortunately present meddlers.

    “I feel in the future we should be more picky on who we subcontract too,” She groaned, “Definitely going to ask for a bonus, Mr Eugenics over there is really going to owe us after this fiasco.”

    She snapped her fingers and four people fell into the floor. High above a surprised magical girl found herself falling from ceiling some 15 meters above the ground.

    And on the floor above two thugs found themselves popping out of some overturned tables mildly confused. Seeing the situation they’d arrived too they lifted their guns towards the group.

    “Down on the ground or we’ll shoot!”

    Crimson lines of light and glowing symbols spun out from beneath Rias in an instant, sliding along the floor but looking as though they were part of that surface despite their motion. In an instant the design had grown large enough to encompass the civilians who Rias had gathered around her then it ceased expanding, sections moving around and against each other as though being spun by some eldritch form of clockwork.

    Rias smirked, “Too late.”

    And in a flash the girl and the civilians surrounding her disappeared in a flash of light leaving the two men alone in the empty food court.

    “...Fuck.”

    Meanwhile, Thema found herself suddenly airborne and having to do some quick midair twisting to make sure that she landed properly instead of on her face. Right, portal girl could make as many as she wanted, something to note. Also, she was going to knock that girl silly - well, after the rampaging thing in the store was no longer an issue. Still. “You really want to end up leaving here black and blue.”
     
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  4. Threadmarks: Group Post - Mall Incident 3
    Master of Squirrel-fu

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    Round 3



    “I’ll have to object to that,” Came a voice from above. Crush floated high above holding onto her open parasol with a grin, having been sent high into the air by her partner, “Breach is more of a autumn, but I wouldn’t expect you to understand proper fashion. Whelp, down you go!”

    Closing her umbrella the woman dropped like a stone, far faster than she she should have, holding her accessory like a club to smash down on the girl below.

    “Not so fast!” Came a shout as a red and blue blur streaked through the air at the woman, “Counter Hip Strike!”

    Crush moved her weapon in place just in time to intercept an attack by a young woman, a simple mask on her face and clad in a swimsuit. The woman twisted in the air, the speed and force causing a visible distortion as she slammed her hip into the parasol and knocking the villain off course. The two landed with grace, even if one seemed far more bemused at the oddity of the situation.

    “Ah, Love, I believe you may have left your hiding place a bit prematurely,” Came the reply from the blonde, “It seems you forgot to finish dressing yourself. If you want I can put a pin in this until you’re finished.”

    “What sort of hero would I be to be inconvenienced by something that petty,” Scarlet declared pointing at the older woman, “If anyone should change it’s you, at least I don’t look like I stepped out of ‘70 London, even if you’re feeling nostalgic you’re just showing your age you Mad Mod fashion disaster!”

    Crush was silent for a moment, staring calmly at the young girl. After a moment she reached up to her ear before reaching for the other. In a smooth motion she stuck her hand out to the side and dropped something that quickly fell through the floor.

    “Breach,” She said, “Hold my earrings, I’m about to mess this bitch up.”

    Meanwhile others were having their own battles. Up above a young girl was busy blasting a few unlucky thugs while opposite and below her another redheaded child was fighting a much more menacing opponent.

    With shout she launched forward striking hard towards the man’s wrists in to open his guard, gritting her teeth as the man was quick enough knock aside her own strike. She was getting frustrated at her own effectiveness and in a bid to gain some form of upper hand she pushed her body even further.

    Legs strained as she ducked around the man cautious follow up, grabbing onto his wrist to stabilize herself and hopefully keep him from escaping.

    “Eat this!” She cried pushing herself into the air, “Meteor Kicks!”

    Her legs shot out kicking him over a dozen times in the span of a second, the blows hitting him all over not only his chest but striking his vulnerable neck and face, the cumulative force being enough to knock up back a few steps and out of her grip. She landed on the floor with a grin, breathing heavy from the exertion of the effort.

    “Lets see you shrug that off you freak of nature,” she taunted as the man tilted back.

    “...Honestly I expected better,” was the calm reply as Ubermench straightened up, barely looking bruised from the tremendous assault, “I have to say I’m disappointed, but what else can I expect from dealing with inferior creatures.”

    Cracking his neck he smiled down at the shocked and paling girl.

    “Now, let me show you how to properly attack.”

    He rushed forward one arm outstretched in a singular burst of motion.

    Comet barely had enough time realize what was happening before her body reacted instinctively and she pushed herself as hard as she could out of the way. As the leading hand barely missed her head.

    She was sa-
    “Where were your eyes watching girl?”

    Comet yelped as she was lifted up by her leg, caught in the grip of the man’s off-hand. A detail she had missed, too focused on the more obvious attack. She didn’t even get the chance to brace herself he brought the arm, and her as well, back down.

    There was a sickening crack as she smashed into the concrete floor. The stone breaking under the force of her impact and the girl bounced a few feet into the air and rolling some distance away when the man had released his grip.

    The small and still body lay there limply, completely unresponsive.

    Captain Ubermench simply turned away didn’t even bother to watch the aftermath of his finisher, knowing full well the outcome. The child was no brute after all, and he’d felt the force of the impact though her limb as he smashed her into the ground like a club. He was honestly a bit disgusted in himself for resorting to such a brutish resolution, much preferring more civilized means of fighting. However the current situation necessitated such brutality.

    Absently he took a out a hankerchief he kept in his breast pocket to clean the dirt from his face and suit left from the girl’s boot. He gave a mental groan, he’d likely have to have it replaced, the damage both from the dirt and the force both stained and ripped the fabric. An impressive feat given he’d had it made from a tough material specifically to avoid needing to replace so many of them.

    “You were a credit to your kind at the very least,” He complimented, walking away back to the stage, “But in the end trash will alway only be trash.”

    Koyare blinked as two thugs appeared before the redhead teleported people away from the scene. They were completely not paying attention to her and seemed to be cursing, leaving their backs wide open. The delinquent girl looked down at the thugs she restrained and their side arms she took from them and then back to the two who have yet to notice her.

    In for a penny… Koyare thought as she started advancing as quietly as she could to the unaware minions. She was thankful that they were rather caught up cursing the empty air but she knew she only had one shot for a clean knockout on the both of them. She didn’t really fancy her chances at getting shot otherwise.

    So Koyare reached into her pockets as she moved and took out her trusty brass knuckles and put them on. She held her breath right when she was upon them and then…

    Crack!

    One of the minions goes down as Koyare’s fist met the back of his skull. The other turned in surprise as his friend went down but then…

    Crack!

    Koyare quickly cold clocked him in the jaw before he even knew what exactly hit him.

    Nodding her head at her handy work, Koyare wiped the dust from her hands and then took off her brass knuckles, putting them back into her pockets.

    “Well, the hard part’s over…” Koyare said softly as she bent down over the bodies. “Time to restrain and loot~”

    Thema watched the scene play out, some reject dressed in the black and white picture era talking to her or anyone else about clothing choices? “Wow, the old prude of a woman complaining about other people wearing outfits she’d never be able to pull off. Shock and awe. Do you need a wheelchair there Grandma? Maybe the 1800’s still has one of those old timey ones for your aged sensibilities.”

    She’d like to really go to town on this upstart little bitch, but seeing what the Nazi reject just did gave her a different priority. One who she would not fight in close quarters at all - fortunately, she was well suited to the game of keep away. That and she needed to make sure that she didn’t get warped again. With that in mind, she chose to take a page from the other magical girl and leap back up to the second floor, landing on the thin railing as casually as walking and flipping back further, the same motion sending rings flying from her legs and on a direct path to Ubermench.

    She saw him duck and weave but ultimately get clipped a few times and she once again made a mental note to train her magic enough to be able to at least sense it - this having to guess thing was not fun. “Hey Hitler Youth! You look bored and far too smug, and I’m going to fix both of those for you.”

    And game on.

    Ubermench scoffed.

    “Hitler Youth? Please, those scum wish they could be this perfect. Don't belittle me with comparisons to lesser beings like yourself.”

    Across the intersection the young korean hero was having her own issues.

    “Damn it!” Yusin yelped as she ducked out of the way of another spray of bullets all while trying to keep an eye on her bouncy robotic opponent, “You are just the worst sort of opponent!”

    “Aw, don’t be like that Mechy!” Yusin jumped to the side to avoid a fist to the back of the head, “I would have thought a pro like you could appreciate the challenge!”

    “Pft, Challenge?” Yusin scoffed and pulled out her gun, firing it at the villainess, “This is easy mode.”

    The gynoid stepsided.

    “Ooh, a swing and a miss.”

    “Gah!” Selfie blinked and turned behind her to see her accomplice shout in surprise as his gun blew up in his face, the barrel having deformed greatly under the impact of the bolt of plasma striking it’s opening. He collapsed clutching his injured hands to his chest as Selfie blinked and turned back to the Tinker who took the moment to blow some smoke from the end of her gun.

    With the rest of the brawl happening around her without even bothering to look her way, Sayuri decided to focus on the leader after how easily he took out another cape. Two magic circles weaved into existence with pink light over the fox girl’s shoulders and expanded as large yellow orbs grew, condensing the power before blasting out straight at Ubermench.

    The man, to his credit, while unable to dodge the wide spread attack was able to put up a defense against it blocking his head behind raised arm as the blasts peppered both him and the stage rendering much of it into little more than kindling. A few of the hostages shouted in surprise at the sudden and powerful attack happening so close.

    After about a second the the barrage stopped and the handsome villain lowered his arms looking not much worse for the wear. His suit was tattered, and his hair a was out of place but the man didn’t appear to have much more than a few scratches on his forearms to show for attack. He gave a lazy look to the fox girl above him even as he straightened himself out.

    Ubermench cracked his jaw and shook his hands looking unimpressed at the hero above him.
    "You know, at first I'd dismissed you as unimportant since I thought you were just a child."

    He smirked. "I guess I was correct."
    Sayuri glanced down at her breasts before returning his gaze and rolled her eyes at the pitiful reply. “Ouch. Such a harsh burn. I guess I’ll have to try harder then,” she deadpanned.

    Lillinette Blanche, known to the world as Breach while acting in costume, groaned as yet more heroes popped out of the woodwork.

    “Ugh, where are all these rugrats coming from?” She complained, “I did not sign up to play baby sitter to a bunch of uppity brats.”

    She snapped her fingers and Ubermench disappeared into the floor.

    “If you aren’t going to settle down children then you’re gonna get Daddy’s belt.”

    She turned to the men standing among the civilians.

    “And you lot, either earn your pay or won’t get one at all!” She pointed to the girls above. Not bothering to give any acknowledgement when they opened a sustained fire onto the children, “I really need a smoke, stupid Val and her stupid healthy living.”
     
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  5. Threadmarks: Group Post - Mall Incident 4
    Master of Squirrel-fu

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    Round 4


    The blond woman rushed forward weapon drawn on the younger girl. It could be seen that she was trained, to some degree, in how to handle it. The parsol came down like a guillotine quickly enough to almost look like a blur.

    However her opponent was more than just an inexperienced novice. Even if she didn’t have as much experience as a cape she had a lot more in direct combat. With grace she was able to move out of the way of the attack even as it shattered the wood she’d been standing on. And in that moment she saw her opening. For all the woman’s power she was in the end still human.

    The movement was fast, fast enough that even those staring at it could see little more than a slight motion blur and a fluttering of scarlet hair to be able to tell the cape by the same namesake had even moved.

    The moment seemed to hold, as Scarlet touched down and crush remained in her striking pose only for it to break as she fell to her knees and slumped to the ground.

    “Shunketsu!” She announced triumphantly.

    Up above a young girl blew some imaginary smoke from the top of her gaudy toy stick which she’d used to smack some sense into a couple of thugs. With a wide smile she looked down onto the floor beneath her to brag to her companion only to spot the girl lying still on the ground.

    “Red!” She shouted not hesitating to throw herself off the railing and grunting as the impact ran through her legs. She ran to her downed friend picking her up and checking to make sure she was okay. Sagging in relief to find the girl was still breathing and responding to her treatment.

    “Shh, it’s fine,” She comforted, “Nat’s here, she’s got ya.”

    As this touching scene was occurring on the opposite side of the intersection a man rushed from the shadows towards a different magical girl.

    His hand snaked out grabbing the wrist of the unaware girl in the hopes of restraining her. However he grunted as the girl was able break free of his grip. He frowned, had he over estimated her physical strength? He was certain he was more than strong enough to overcome her physical abilities. Odd.

    Unseen to him the dark marks on his arm began to fade.

    Koyare proceeded to go into what was quickly becoming routine with her. Take the machine gun straps, use it to bind the thugs arms together, take their belts and bind their legs together, and then tie their shoelaces together just to be sure. She had no idea what was going on with the heroes right now since she was engrossed in making sure she does this right so they would not get away. While she was retraining them, she notice one of the thugs likely had a broken jaw and the other was bleeding from the back of the head but didn’t seem all that serious. Head wounds always looked worse than they are.

    Nodding her head as her job was complete, she disarmed the thugs of their side arms and pushed them towards where she slide the machine guns prior. She honestly wasn’t much of a gun person, since if one gets pulled out shit becomes more serious than if it was just a knife or a bat, but she was entirely away of the pistol she took from the previous thugs.

    Reinsurance, she thought, reinsurance against the brute villains and possibly getting cornered with no way out.

    Shaking her head, she started patting down the two downed and restrained thugs with a smile. Hoping to find something that wasn’t a porn mag. One of the thugs carried some zip restraints, which amused her as she just thought that she needed to stock up on some not to long ago.

    “Well, these will be useful if more of you guys appear out of thin air,” Koyare mused and then started patting down the other thug. Hitting something hard in the guy’s pants pocket, she reached in and grabbed it, pulling out a two button radio. At first She was ecstatic at such a find, as she imagined all sorts of shenanigans she could use it for to make the minion’s lives a living hell. But her mood quickly died down as she realised the thing was off.

    She wouldn’t have been able to do anything without fiddling with it and alerting the goons that someone else has it, nullifying any real use she could get out of it.

    “Well, that sucks,” Koyare said and then let out a sigh.

    ----

    “Hey babe, sorry about before but I’m ready for round 2!”

    The look of triumph that had been on the face of Mechtech Rider quickly morphed into one of horrified disgust at the return and recovery of the villain she’d disabled before.

    “No!” She shouted in frustration as she leveled her pistol again at the man and opened fire uncaring for accuracy just in the hopes of taking him out as quickly as possible, “Haaaa!”

    Codpiece, not expecting this level of negative reaction to his appearance, was caught by surprise by assault and wasn’t able to properly defend himself as the bolts of energy impacted him repeatedly.

    “Ah! Jesus fuck!” He screamed as she continued to shoot him as he fell back onto the column behind him trying to protect his face and crotch with his arms, “You crazy bitch!”

    “No more of these team ups!” the heroine shouted, “I am not dealing with another doubles match!”

    “Reflex check!” Came the shout from her right as Mechtech realized she wasn’t alone. She tried to move backward but sadly underestimated her other opponents maneuverability, with Selfie covering the distance between them instantly. The kick struck the heroine in her kidney with enough force to send her rolling back a few feet. She silently thanked her personal force fields for bleeding at least some of the force off the blow, lest she’d be peeing blood for a week.

    As it was she wasn’t entirely sure something internal hadn’t been bruised rather badly.

    “Got to keep your head in the game Mechy!” Selfie taunted as she somersaulted back out of reach of of the girl, “And thanks for the assist partner, you were an adequate distraction!”

    Codpiece groaned.

    “Yes, wise words my friend wise words,” Selfie nodded sagely, “But rest assured your sacrifice will not be in vain!”

    Sayuri decided to hold off on continuing the onslaught against Ubermench and glanced around, spotting Mechtech being in a bit of a bind. Grinning to herself, she decided to turn the villain’s action right back on her.

    “Reflex!” The fox girl called out cheerfully as a pair of beams homed in on Selfie.

    So the attack strikes a surprised Selfie, she yelps. The attacks rain down on her and when the dust clears her torso is separated from her legs. She blinks then shrugs and pulls her body back together.

    “Whaaat?” Sayuri blinked at the casual dismemberment before shrugging at the nonchalant reassembly and aimed another pair of blasts at the villainess.

    So Selfie, seeing the attack, does a quick leap out of the way.
    She gives thumbs up
    "A for effort!"
    "Hey, you look kinda new to this! If you need any advice or someone to try and foil your heroic deeds look me up! My contact info's on my website!"

    Sayuri didn’t care for the idea of having someone paid to attack people just for a ‘hero’ to save them and promptly rejected the offer. “No thanks, I have better stuff to do.”

    Breach, for all that had occurred looked as if she had just bit into a lemon. Everyone and everything just seemed to be falling apart around her. She made a quick check around her to take note of all the villains on her side, preparing for a possible emergency exit if need be. At the very least she would be keeping an eye on her partner. Crush, her friend, could really be the only one among everyone there she’d actually stick her neck out for if things went south too fast for her to pull more than just herself out of trouble.

    For all she cared the rest of the people around her could jump off a bridge. Especially the swimmer bitch. But that wasn’t something she could do right now, at least not something she could waste time doing as much as she wanted to.

    She snapped her fingers as the redheaded young woman caught her breath.

    The redhead and blond in front of her dropped into the floor beneath her, the former with a surprised squawk. Crush was sent to safety, a precautionary measure to keep her safe. While she wished she could have just dropped Scarlet into the room with the big nasty murderbeast just behind her she knew she’d regret it later, less out of morals and more due to the danger she’d placed her team in from escalating at fight that far. As it was Scarlet found herself in locked in one of the reinforced Stage boxes that they’d brought along, in a placed space far too narrow to leverage her full force and too tough to break out of without that.

    “One down,” She announced with another fingersnap, “You four take aim at the furry please.”

    Without hesitation the four gunmen standing in the crowd lifted their weapons and opened fire on Sayuri. The motion proved useless as the foxgirl simply created a gap in front of her, the black staring abyss swallowing up the bullets that would have struck her.

    Unfortunately she did not quite have the time to react so properly as another projectile exited through the glass just behind her. The speedy projectile thankfully impacted against the fabric of her clothing rather than bare skin, the impact being painful and would no doubt leave a bruise.

    Sayuri let out a cry as the bullet struck and grimaced through the pain. She was thankful her dress was stronger than ordinary cloth even if it wasn’t strong enough to completely block the shot.

    Far below Breach, pointing a smoking revolver towards an innocuous stone pillar smirked.

    Said smirk was promptly replaced by a confused expression as one of the men by her side were unceremoniously tossed across the stage into another, the two being knocked unconscious by the force of the impact. The other two yelped as with a hiss they were enveloped by a reddish foam that quickly hardened around them.

    She raised her a shaky hand to snap her fingers again only to stop abruptly. She stared at the limb confused until another one, gripping her own in a vice like grip appeared. In short order a redheaded girl seemed to melt into view.

    “I think that’s enough o’ that,” Aoife announced, “If ya insist otherwise I’ll remove your ability ta.”

    Behind her with a rapid series of pops the civilians simply vanished.
     
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  6. Threadmarks: Group Post - Mall Incident 5
    Master of Squirrel-fu

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    Round 5



    Mina sat with her friend doing her best to make sure the girl was alright. Sadly, of the many things she could do Healing wasn’t one of them. At least not in a way that wasn’t highly situational. She resolved to fix that issue very soon.

    Hearing the commotion going on about her, and confident her friend would just drop dead without her constant attention Mina turned her gaze to the area the fight had been going on in. With her eyes she could easily see what was occurring and had already occurred.

    The room about the Berserking creature glowed as the threads of space tangled themselves into knots turning the area into a disturbingly beautiful work as it warped in on itself in directions that to most did not exist. As it was however she could spot the holes in where the creature could escape, holes large enough in random locations where space warped incorrectly if at all.

    She tore her eyes away from the sight with some reluctance, feeling the need to try and memorize the patterns of the Weave that created it.

    In the center of the area she saw as space warped, differently from the first, as a young girl wearing a simple domino mask warped and unwarped the area to snap people to another point like they were attached to a 4 dimensional rubberband. There was another Thread tied to the girl, linked to the third who was attempting to move about the area. It took Mina a moment to realize what it was.

    “Oh, they’re supposed to be invisible,” A small part of her felt bad at the realization that the sketchy looking teen’s ability was so unimpressive to be seen through not just easily but to the point Mina didn’t even realize she had done so.

    She ignored the dual between the metalic woman and the tinker. Neither having abilities of any kind, nor using any particularly esoteric technology to capture her fickle interests. She knew it was important, enough to ensure some amount of attention to be sure the two wouldn’t target her but she just couldn’t focus on such colorless beings.

    She turned her attention upwards, spotting the fox girl. Another fascinating specimen, the way her abilities worked being something almost alien to her sight, but the longer she looked the more confident Mina felt she could unravel the tapestry the Fox weaved about her, as it was she could already pick out certain patterns in the tears she’d made, ones that felt could help her in a few other projects.

    And then her attention turned to the final combatants she could see and her eyes narrowed.

    The girl she couldn’t care less about, however fascinating her gem looked with how it tangled the threads between it and the girl's body, no she only had eyes for the man attempting to grapple with her.

    Without a word she stood up and pointed her weapon. It was a rather pathetic looking thing, a pink and sparkly princess scepter, a children’s toy for girls a quarter her age. Toddlers.

    But in Mina’s hands, to her eyes, the object glowed with power. Hundreds of thousands of threads of impossible sound and colors stitched together into a tapestry human eyes and ears could never grasp the beauty of. With a flick of her wrist she traced one of these lines, a pattern that twisted motions in ways unbound by conventional 3 Dimensional space until it reached the end of the thread.

    “Giga Impact!”

    It was a blinding flash of light, a column of energy at least a meter wide simply appearing in front of her stretching into the into her target. The magical girl was able to avoid a direct hit, of which Mina was thankful for but ultimately considered secondary. She grinned wickedly as the attack slammed into the surprised man, lifting him up and smashing him him into the ceiling above him with the force of a train. In less than a second after being launched the light vanished and embedded into the wall as an unconscious villain, his limbs dangling limply and in twisted awkward angles. He made no noise nor attempts to stop as he simply fell from the crater his body had made onto the floor below him and through the hole in the walkway the attack had made. He impacted the ground with a rather sickening thud.

    A low and raspy groan was the only indication of the man’s continued status as being among the living.

    First, Thema had to deal with the Nazi getting warped away by another of that increasingly annoying woman’s invisible portals, only for him to show back up far too close - she was able to slap his hands away but that left her entangled with the egocentric guy in close range, which was troublesome enough but it directly led to her second problem in the form of that crazy magical girl shooting a massive lazer at her!

    Thema was only barely able to get out of the direct path of the beam by kicking off the railing and even then, her arm still got caught in its passage, the loud crack and throbbing pain telling her quite a lot if she was actually feeling the damage so much as she was. And the fact that her arm was twisted like taffy and not moving, that was a good sign that she didn’t want to turn off her pain numbing for awhile.

    Needless to say, she was not happy with Mina right now. “Ever heard of friendly fire you crazy bitch!?”

    Really not happy. Not even Ubermench being crippled was helping with that; if the rumours were right he could probably heal that off in a few days. Her eyes flicked over the area, hostages and thugs missing, some girl holding Breach, the Codpiece and that robot - a wave of her hands and a swarm of chakrams shot out, Thema just barely resisting the urge to pummel Mina along with the sexual innuendo and Selfie.

    Either way, Thema was done with this, and she had zero qualms about taking out her wrath on a bunch of idiot thieves. Like a rain of magic metal rings her swarm came down on both, a corrupted glow around both as she directed them to only target them and not any objects - property damage she didn’t need.

    “So Breach.” Thema didn’t smile so much as grin with full malicious intent. “What was that about ‘Daddy’s Belt’? Because I’ve got enough for you too. You certainly act enough like a small child to need some discipline beaten into you.”

    All but one villain down and out, and the last being Breach was already cornered. Sayuri grinned in self-satisfaction at the apparent victory and decided to play medic for the wounded. Manipulating the gap to enable healing was going to slow for her taste and she impatiently brute-forced it, giving herself a headache as she went too far..

    Still, it was done and the first thing she did was heal the nasty bruise left by the gunshot. Under her hand the bruising healed itself, restoring to clear unbroken skin. Standing up to her full height, the kitsune looked around for the next cape in need of healing, her eyes landing on the martial artist Ubermench had lain out. She lazily opened a gap beneath her feet and let her body fall through, popping up a few feet away from the unconscious girl.



    Breach wore a glower on her face, gritting her teeth and glaring at the heroes about her. She shot an especially nasty look towards the presumptuous little brat recovering on the floor above her. She winced as the redheaded brat in the dollar store robbers mask squeezed her hand with a surprising amount of force.

    “She’s got the right idea,” Aoife taunted wickedly, “The rest o’ your gang is down for the count and you can’t go anywhere like this.”

    She squeeze hard and Breach bit back a scream as her thumb was dislocated.

    “Can’t go dropping into an escape hatch with me holding on to ya, can’t go mess around with fingers ta snap. And don’t try user your other hand, I can catch and snap your twiggy wrist before you can blink. The Mousey one’s already got all your hostages out. You’re the last one.”

    Breach gave a choked coughing chuckle.

    “Tsk Tsk, You’re mistaken girl,” Breach, “Frankly I was really hoping things would get this far but, well it seems you’ve forced my hand.”

    “What are you talking about?”

    “Whoever said I needed snap to use my power?”

    “Wh-”

    The young cape stopped as a black mass passed through her body, a wave of some unknown substance of pitch dark enough to almost drink up the light around it as it rocketed through her entire body out of the floor beneath her feet.

    “Ghk!” Aoife choked on her own tongue as the light in her eyes began to fade and she collapsed to the floor like a puppet with her strings cut.

    “It seems you missed one little red.”

    From the ground rose a woman. Pale blond hair in a conservative braid, a strange helm-like mask covering her eyes. She was dressed in a dark blue and grey wardrobe. Simple and almost dress-like if not for the pauldrons and other bits of armor she wore on herself. Her skin was pale white, unnaturally so, looking all too much as if she was made of porcelain.

    Nuit Pucelle stood tall looking down at the catatonic girl in front of her.

    With a swift motion she swiped the butt of her halberd into the girl’s side launching her off the stage smash into into the wall beside them with enough force to crater it.

    “I just need enough time to find everyone and then we can leave.”

    Nuit nodded.

    “Um, try not to kill anyone.”

    The woman gave no response but to look over her shoulder and Breach flinched back.

    “I shall endeavour.” The words seem to echo despite the woman’s mouth not appearing to move.

    There was a an angry yell and Nuit simply moved her Halberd to the side, not bothering to turn her head. There was nothing there however there was a thud as something appeared to impact the weapon. With an elegant twirl of the polearm came a shout and dull thud several feet away as something impacted the floor.

    She slashed the air in front of her, again seeming to meet empty air until a reddish foam appeared, split along the line she’d cut and passing on either side of her.

    Nuit turned back around.





    .
    Round 6


    Well things escalated quickly. They’d gone from finally managing to get this band of idiots under control to having to deal with yet another summoning from that teleporter, this time that halberd wielding villain, Nuit they called her. Great, the crazy murder happy zealot. Thema added a couple more reasons to seriously hurt Breach as soon as she wasn’t needed to keep that berserker in check.

    Now what to do about the person who apparently just deflected a set of invisible attacks? Thema’s idea was to send a wave of rings at her, twisting through the air. Obviously it wasn’t quite enough given how the woman not only ignored the lot of them, but she went and sliced down the ring that was actually heading her way! This was probably going to be messy.

    -

    Natali, or better recognized in her costume as Magical Mina, stared at the new arrival and gulped. The creepy priestess, as Mina could only assume she was such with the religious symbols dotted about her drab outfit and the bible quit literally hanging from her belt, was something rather unknown to her. To Mina’s sight the odd “unlight” that the woman had used was at once both hideous and beautiful, a serene wake of silence followed after the strike stilling the Weave it had touched and sending a chill of fear down the girl’s back.

    There was something…. unnatural, about the woman’s odd power and even as Mina tried to puzzle it out she felt a creeping sensation that to stare to deeply would be her own end.

    “Ya… ya might wanna hurry up that healing there,” She called back while taking a stance to hopefully defend herself, her friend, and her new companion should the ...thing decide to attack. Mina shuddered as the new villain spoke, not through sound as others may have no doubt heard but by touching the threads of magic about her to echo it in a way that others may hear. Being able to both see and hear the origin, Mina was somewhat surprised another besides her could touch the weave with such finesse.

    The situation appeared to be escalating quickly to Sayuri when she had hoped for it to be the conclusion of the battle. With a silent nod, her tails wrapped protectively around both herself and the girl she was about to heal. With a light touch on the girl’s shoulder she focused on the magical girl’s body and began adjusting the girl’s border of injured and uninjured, repairing the damage.

    Red blinked groggily as she stood back up.

    “What? What’s going on?” She blinked at the sight of the intimidating woman standing where the villains had once been, “Who’s that?”

    “You remember the other day when we were playing the new Adalepo game and I kept losing at that one level?”

    “The one where you had to beat all the minions and minibosses but as soon as you finish it tosses you into the boss fight?”

    “Yeah that. That’s what’s happening.”

    Red frowned and turned back to the woman in black still standing and appearing as if she had no cares.

    “Is there a reason you haven’t blasted her?”

    “I’m… I’m not entirely sure if I’d be able to get her before she could kill me with her stabby stick and black magic.”

    In the middle of the area Mighty Mouse frowned at the woman who had appeared and seemed to have little trouble dealing with the group. The young heroine knew she wasn’t exactly the strongest cape around, her focus to divided among different skill sets to be able to be as devastating with her admittedly impressive power as a couple of her teammates. However she wasn’t exactly weak, the woman had very easily deflected a strike that should have knocked over a car like she was swatting a fly.

    Mouse signalled to her partner to kill her invisibility, at the moment it mattered little to her opponent and the risk of friendly fire was too high. Especially from the trigger happy redhead dressed in the strange outfit. Mouse was not entirely sure she could survive a direct hit from whatever she used to put the leader down.

    There wasn’t much that Mighty Mouse could do to the woman herself but she wasn’t going to simply sit idle. With a small pop her image appeared beside the downed redhead lifting her up before disappearing again to drop the unresponsive body off beside the small but growing gathering of rather strange heroines.

    ---

    Breach walked out of the wall with one of her henchman trailing beside her.

    “Okay I'll need you to find the... oh.” She said before noticing the unconscious bodies of the hired help. “Well that's disappointing.”

    She noticed the girl that was the likely culprit of the sudden lack of manpower and then turned to address the thug with her.

    “You're rather lucky I'm not the one paying you all,” Breach said and then pointed at the girl, “Now, grab that girl a hostage is a hostage and we need all the leverage we can get.”

    The thug nodded, and then pointed his gun at the girl. “Surrender or I’ll fill you with holes!”

    Koyare looked at the female villainess that just appeared with the thug demanding her to be a hostage and surrender. She quickly weighed the odds for dodging bullets before settling on a plan she hoped she wouldn't need to.

    "Alright, don't shoot," Koyare said as sincerely as she could manage without giving the game away. It was really sincere since she genuinely didn’t want to be pumped full of lead. "I'm going to put down my gun and surrender." Koyare raised one arm in surrender as she used her free one to grab the gun in her pants. She slowly crouched down and sat it on the ground before raising again with both hands in surrender. "Do you want me to come over there?

    Breach snapped her fingers and the gun melted into the floor before falling from the ceiling into the villains waiting hand. She pointed the weapon at the girl, "Hands behind your head. Walk forward slowly. Any sudden moves and you won’t have enough time left to regret it."

    Koyare complied, putting her hands behind her head and started walking forward slowly. She looked down and allowed her bangs to cover her eyes as she did, a sign of submission but not overtly. Also to lower any tells she had, she needed this to go perfectly. Her heart was silently pounding away in her chest as she neared the thug with her would be captor. The thug reached for Koyare, thinking fast Koyare moved her hands out from behind her back before grabbing onto the thugs shoulders.

    Crack!

    There was a loud crack as Koyare viciously kneed the thug in the stomach as hard as she could. The thug let out a strangled gasp and some spittle dropped to the ground as his eyes rolled to the back of his head. Koyare then made sure she had enough leverage before pushing the thug at the villainess hoping to trip her up so she could deal with her quickly.

    Breach was able to dodge, her reflexes saving her from being tripped up the the unconscious body of her compatriot. With a frown she leveled the gun, only taking a moment to then lower it to a less lethal target, before pulling the trigger at the young girl. With a bang the bullet impacted the girl's side, hopefully avoiding the major organs.

    Fuck! Koyare wanted to scream but what came out was more of strangled cry. A sharp pain worked it's way through her nerves and her eyes started to tear a little before she took a deep breath. The pain was still there but now she could think. She quickly glanced down to check the wound before moving her eyes back to the woman that just shot her. It seem that the bullet hit one of the more reinforced places on her outfit so the wound could have been worse but it still hurt like a bitch. She would need to get that looked later but right now she was left staring down a cape with a gun.

    'It's just going to be one of those days…’ Koyare thought and hung her head down as she continued to breath deeply.

    ---------




    Sayuri’s ear twitched as she heard another gunshot and cry call out. The situation didn’t yet let her freely move around with fighting still ongoing.

    Mighty Mouse appeared with a pop, stepping backwards to lay down an unconcious and unresponsive redhead on the floor. She her face was a stiff mask, a far change from her usual jovial appearance. She tried to be gentle but made sure to be efficient and to keep the villain in her view as well to prevent any nasty surprised.

    The redhead didn’t react, simply acting as dead weight with her eyes staring blankly ahead in a way the deeply unsettled the teen. If she didn’t see the steady, if however shallow, rise and fall of the girls chest to show otherwise she’d have assumed the child dead.

    “I’m sorry to intrude little lady,” She said, keeping her head firmly locked towards the deceptively passive villain, “But I have another patient for you if it’s not too much trouble.”

    The kitsune nodded as she began healing the nonresponsive girl. “No trouble. I don’t know how many others can heal, so I’ll do my part. Can I count on you to get them to me so I don’t have to spend time searching myself?”

    “That’s what heroes are for little lady,” Mouse smiled, “Just be sure to give a shout if you think you’re in danger, and I’ll be there to sweep you off your feet to safety.”

    And with that the young Mouse disappeared with a pop.

    Sayuri snorted as she muttered to herself. “I’m not that helpless. I’m just a little out of practice.”

    The young fox began to work her, quite literally in this case, magic on the redhead. The reaction was not quite as dramatic as before, but the girl began to show some signs of life with her breathing deepening even if she didn’t wake up. An experimental poke showed some reaction, a pinched face and a whimper, as one of the more obvious bruises remained was pressed. Whatever had been done to the girl was serious if such things were still around.

    ---

    Thema sighed at the current situation, this Nuit character was clearly not the kind of person that anyone was going to be able to fight without things escalating to the point that people might end up dying. She didn’t have any idea how to deal with that yet but at least in the meantime, she could partake in what was becoming one of her favourite new pastimes, making that bitch Breach a bit more miserable.

    She sent a few rings shooting at the nutcase trying to hold some teenage girl at gunpoint - wait, wasn’t that the one who was there when she thrashed the thugs in the food court? Well either way, it wasn’t difficult to disarm the bitch and Thema only regretted not being able to make that literal.

    “What’s the matter, can’t find anyone you can handle? Maybe try a preschool next; oh hey, they might have that belt you want!”

    ------

    Breach’s smirk was soon removed and she yelped as the gun in her hand was smashed out of her hand by a flying chakram coming in from her blind spot. Still, if nothing else she still had experience on her side, not bothering to do something foolish like leap after the weapon she hopped back to sink into one of her portals.

    “Tally ho!”

    There wasn’t even enough time to shout in surprise as the young woman was quickly tackled with remarkable and very painful force by a girl who didn’t even reach her chin, a rather low bar pass in all honesty. There was just a few moments of disorientation and pain as the woman soon found herself painfully pinned to the floor. A quick check showed that her hired muscle were themselves knocked aside and their guns missing. Her inspection was interrupted by a harsh pressure placed on her shoulder.

    “Whoa there,” Mighty Mouse smiled cheerfully from where she kneeled on the villainess’ back locking her in an arm bar, “Keep that up and you’ll break something. Now, I suppose this is hardly the most sporting way to go about it but a win is a win, I’d suggest being a good sport and making this easier on all of us Ma’am.”

    Breach tried to test the hold only to wince at the increased pressure, and then with a sigh she relaxed accepting defeat.

    “Fine I-”

    “What’s the matter, can’t find anyone you can handle? Maybe try a preschool next; oh hey, they might have that belt you want!”

    Breach broke off at the taunt, slowly turning her head as much as she was allowed to see the smug looking magical girl at the other end of the mall.

    “Fuck it, I’m done.”

    There was a moment of silence before the sound of shattering glass came along with a inhuman roar of rage.

    ------

    Mina watched with mounting horror as she saw the thread of ethereal light that was tied to the thin sheet of glass containing the beast was cut and and the tapestry of magic that held it in check unraveled in an instant. It was this moment of warning that gave her enough time to grab her friends’ hand and run before the giant through a mangled corpse through the window and freed itself.

    “Help!”

    She didn’t like to think of herself as a coward, and even if the creature was some normal beast or brute with similar brutality she’d have happily stayed in fought but her intuition told her to do anything but. And given how accurately it had lead her before she wasn’t willing to spend a second hesitating to doubt the thing would slaughter them in a second if they drew it’s attention.

    Thankfully her call was heard and answered by the hidden girl nearby casting her power on them, hiding the small group from sight as the monster leapt out from it’s confines.

    On the plaza Nuit took a quick step back to avoid the corpse sent her way, for the first time showing some amount of effort in her actions.

    She wasn’t quite as able to avoid the following strike as the beast closed the distance between them far quicker than the woman anticipated. With a grimace she managed to absorb the force of the blow and used the momentum to push herself out of the reach of the bloodsoaked monster that was once a girl.

    There wasn’t a moment’s rest however as the thing rushed in once again. However with the element of surprise gone the threat was reasonably more manageable, even if the amount of force behind the blow cratered the ground under the dark priestess’ feet from the bleed off alone. With a grunt she disengaged and before turning around and running as the beast chased.

    Sayuri had only just finished attempting to heal Aoife as she spotted the villain rushed past her leading along a certain bloody beast in her wake.

    ‘A demon rampaging reminds me of… wait, that’s an old memory’, Sayuri thought reminiscently.

    Not wanting to risk getting caught in the crossfire, she opened a gap underneath herself and the redhead, depositing both of them on the second floor, and hopefully out of range of the new battle.

    Remembering the gunshot from earlier, she looked around cautiously for signs of the victim.

    Mighty Mouse winced and turned towards the sound of carnage bellow, but in her moment’s distraction was unable to respond the actions of the villain bellow her. While able to jump back she frowned as the Mover fell into the ground below, abandoning the two remaining crooks to beat a hasty retreat.

    Disappointing but not entirely unexpected, the Hero didn’t know if she could, or even should, attempt to keep the cape detained while the grey skinned Brute rampaged below. At the very least the civilians nearby were evacuated though they’d have to work quick to keep it from escaping or attacking the more distant stores and the civilians still hiding in them.

    Spotting Koyare, Sayuri opened another gap in front of the dazed girl and called out to her. “Hey, are you ok or do you need some healing?”
    “No,” The girl responded, still shaken. Anything she may have added would not be spoken as she feel as the floor shifted slightly alongside several loud crashes.

    There were some not so distant screams coming from below, some rather colorful language which to most would sound like gibberish but to the Youkai were clearly understood and was rather…. Imaginative. She idly considered taking notes.

    Sayuri decided, possibly against her better judgment, to lean over the railing and keep an eye on the fight between the two. Knowing how it went would give her an idea of how strong they were and when the fight was finally over.

    ---

    It was a near miss, chalked up mostly to luck on her part and distraction on the part of her attacker. Mina nearly forgot to breath as the blade of coalesced silence missed her by millimeters as the pale haired woman was forced to abandon her attack to avoid the raging beast. Whatever abilities the woman possessed let her detect them through gifted invisibility.

    At the very least the same could not be said of the monster.

    A frown crossed Nuit’s face as she stopped her retreat taking a ready stance as the berserker approached. The exchange was fast, nearly too quick to see but the woman twisted around the lunging blow of brute, sacrificing a glancing blow to her stomach. Her staff twirled in a graceful display, hooking the beast by the neck and pulling her into a twisted throw flinging it away and through two nearby pillars and into a small eatery.

    There was some shouting inside, vaguely asian cursing.

    As the floor began to shift underneath her, Koyare took a moment to reflect on how this day had gone. It was supposed to be a simple trip to the mall, but villains decided to crash in, the hero’s popped out one by one to crash the villain's party, and she beat up like four thugs before getting shot close to the stomach. Reckless did not begin to describe how she was acting before but even that recklessness failed to appear in the face of imminent falling.

    It’s one of those days Koyare had thought but hearing the roars of an inhuman monster made it worse than one of those days. So with that in mind she decided to point out the obvious to the people around her.

    “We need to move,” Koyare said feeling really tired of having one thing after another happen at this point.

    Sayuri opened a gap to just inside the Macy’s entrance and motioned the other girl to lead before lifting Aoife cautiously. “Ok. Here’s an express route to a safer location. It should be more stable even if they keep wrecking things.”

    As the fox girl spoke a crash came from below and the floor beneath their feet gave way, sinking down to the ground below it. Reacting quickly the Mouse themed hero wrapped her arm around a surprised Koyare who let out a strangled ‘Eep’ as she activated her powers. With a pop and a slight breeze the two exited the otherside of the portal.

    Sayuri, surprised at the floor starting to drop out, stood on air a brief second and pretended to hop through the portal, carrying the unconscious in her arms with her. The kyuubi optimistically hoped that no one would spot her flight in the confusion so she could keep it secret.

    Thema had long since gotten tired of the song and dance of all of these villains that didn’t know when to quit, and with the teleporting bitch gone, she no longer had a target to troll. She certainly wasn’t going to step in between that silent psycho and the berserker although Nuit apparently couldn’t get beaten up quietly, it was time to relocate.

    Then the floor started to give away and she needed to hasten that relocation, an enhanced leap carrying her well away, the Puella aiming for the portal that Yakumo copy had open -

    Something, a feeling of pure wrongness approaching had her twisting in midair, a bolt of something she couldn’t find words for shooting past...it was just….

    She revised how dangerous she found Nuit, something about that had her feeling down in her soul that she did not want anything of that crazy womans to hit her.

    Nuit Pucelle didn’t appear upset as she watched the small group of heroines escape through the portal, even as her attack was surprisingly dodged by the one in the peculiar costume. Her expression, of what could be seen given her blindfold like metal mask, remained stoic and unmoving as it always did. It gave the uncanny impression of a doll more than a human with the lack of warmth or glow her skin had, completely immobile.

    Her head turned as she watched the beast that had been chasing her quickly dig it’s way out of the rubble she had dropped upon it. She was not surprised by it’s survival nor by the utter lack of damage the several tons falling on it had done. The beast was tough, impressively so even in the woman’s own experience. It’s agility and strength were similarly threatening, and in the woman’s judgement should she fail to avoid it’s grapple she’d not be able to escape it’s grasp before it could do potentially fatal damage.

    But in the end, a Beast is still a Beast.

    Nuit stepped to the side, doding the creatures leaping attack before it even fully left the ground. The mindless thing was fast, it’s reactions and agility far outclassing the woman’s own impressive abilities but it meant nothing to her.

    Nuit twisted, using both her arms to diver the following strike from the creature as it tracked her movements. A blow meant to remove her head was quickly sent off course trailing over the haft of her rather abused halberd. It’s strength, enough to end her life instantly made useless by it’s inability to hit her.

    Nuit parried the creature’s blow, knocking the blow away enough to unbalance the creature for the fraction of a second it would take to withdraw her weapon. Some would call the gesture unnecessary but as the woman wound up for her follow up she spun her weapon and built up an additional amount of momentum.

    The creature saw this and braced itself against the blow it could see coming, it’s instincts guiding it in this instance and trusting it’s formidable defences to absorb the blow from a woman so inferior to it in strength.

    A black mass passed through the beast without a sound even as the blade missed it entirely. A dark blade extending from the weapon itself and seeming to pass through it with no resistance and leaving no damage.

    If it had the capacity to the creature would grin in vidication at the pointless strike, one of a few the woman had struck it with. Instead it roared even as the woman retreated once more.

    The berserker felt it’s rage once again stoked, long since growing tired of the chase the woman had put up the moment she first avoided the certain death it’s strikes should cause. It didn’t bother with any plan or plot, instead in it’s raged it burst forward in a surprisingly quick leap aiming to catch the woman mid-air where she could no longer dodge or redirect it’s strikes.

    It roared, ignoring the futile strike the woman was leveling against it knowing from experience it would not so much as scratch it. It’s arms outstretched ready to grab the woman and tear her apart, to snuff out one of those who had hurt it. To sink it’s fingers into the woman and return some small measure of the pain it felt and let her taste it’s hatred.

    The two met and blood flew.

    Nuit stared down at the creature impaled on the end of her halberd. No, it was no longer a creature, the confusion in the eyes of the one before here was far too human now for that. The rage of the beast that tried to meet her and impaled itself on her blade had faded in a fraction of a second to be replaced by the horrified confusion on the face of this girl. Inspecting the girl even as she began to pale from blood loss Nuit could see the fading muscles and and softening features giving the girl a more human appearance.

    “Your fire,once so bright and vibrant quickly fades like any other,” The words echoed around the woman who’s mouth did not move. She gently reach forward and placed her free hand on the girl’s cheek and almost lovingly brushed away the confused tears of the girl as she looked into her eyes, “Do not fear the darkness young one, it is something we all must meet. Return to the void and find peace.”

    The woman withdrew her weapon with sickeningly wet sound and let the body of the girl drop.

    She turned back to the destruction leveled around her, at once locking sight with a small pair of redheads who were pullling themselves from under the rubble that had fallen around them. The girls froze.

    Nuit’s gaze continued to wander, ignoring the insignificant duo looking for her temporary charge. She saw no sign of the young woman whom had hired her nor had she seen her among those that had fled through the odd portal the young fox child had opened. She saw no signs of her summoner’s cohorts either.

    She walked back to the location she’d first appeared and tapped the end of her weapon onto the ground.

    “It appears she has achieved her objective,” Nuit observed, “And I have been abandoned in her haste, disappointing but not unexpected.”

    Waiting with the others she had evacuated, one of Sayuri’s ears twitched at the near silence of the mall. A dozen small gaps opened in front of her as she investigated the resolution of the titanic battle. A short curse flew from her mouth as she spotted the injured girl and examined her boundaries of health.

    Foregoing comfort, the young youkai instantly opened a gap underneath the former berserker and let her fall into her arms. Not willing to waste any more time, she lowered the girl to the ground and began work at repairing her injured body.

    As she worked, Sayuri sneaked a look at the girl’s face and was relieved she no longer appeared to be in a rage-inducing haze. Whatever the source of the madness causing technique that caused her to go crazy was, it had finally left her. There could be many sources of an insanity power boost, but one in particular stood out to the fox girl.

    From across the mall Nuit spared a glance at where the girl she’d impaled was spirited away into another of the strangely shaped portals the fox child made. She dismissed it.

    Without another word the woman simply walked, into the store in front of her uncaring of the back she showed to the various heroes still present as she made her way towards the nearest exit. She pondered briefly of the opposition she might face but so little time had passed that she doubted much more than a token resistance would meet her out the doors. With her duty fulfilled she was no longer beholden to the limits placed by her employer.

    It would be short work to eliminate those that attempted to stop her.

    “The last of the villains has finally left.” Sayuri spoke, relieved. She motioned to the unconscious girls nearby. “Would someone mind checking for any remaining injured? I’ll stay here until ambulances arrive. Or however you heroes in the states handle these situations.”

    The fox girl glanced at the wannabe nezumi sherlock holmes, Mouse Protector, as she was the only one she had noticed having teleportation.

    “Many thanks for the information, I’ll do a quick jaunt around to confirm it then little Miss,” Mighty Mouse tipped her hat, “I’ll leave these girls in your care until then.”

    She stood up and took a step forward, disappearing with another soft pop and small gust.



    It was only a few moments later that there was a crash from outside the store in the mall before the Mouse was back with two young redheads, one stumbling as her grip fell from the heroine’s shoulder and the other being carried bridal style by her.

    Mighty Mouse carefully put the blushing young girl down in front of the healer being careful to mind her injured legs.

    “Apologies little Miss, but it seems I’ve brought you more work,” Mighty Mouse smiled reassuringly as she stood back up, “Sadly I won’t be able to remain to assist, there are a few more I need to find quickly and I shouldn’t neglect them over long. But it does indeed seem that the menace has left, however much it disappoints me it was not in the hands of the proper authorities.”

    With that bit of reassurance given she once again disappeared.

    Sayuri gave the pair a warm smile to help ease any apprehension. “Hello, if you have any reservations about being healed, please let me know now.” She didn’t expect either of the girls to object, but it would be a good idea to confirm.

    Her ears flicked as she heard the sounds of rubble crashing into each other sounded in the distance. The girls gave their consent and she once again healing the wounds of the combatants.

    The berserker stirred as she laid there, the healing she received aiding her to get back to the land of the waken. She opened her eyes and blinked away the fog. Her body acked and she just wanted to close her eyes and sleep once more...but she willed herself not to. She had the desire to know what had happened since the last time she was able to think clearly without the all consuming rage.

    The girl sat up and looked herself over. There were many things she could comment on about the condition of her newfound body but she ignored it for something far more important. Perhaps she might visit it later when she was alone, but right now finding out if she was still in danger was her priority. She looked around and saw that the mall looked to have had a bomb go off inside of it. But a feeling of dread in the pit of her stomach made itself known.

    I probably was the cause… She had thought before she locked eyes on a sight that she never though she ever see in reality. It was enough to distract her from any further thoughts.

    There was a real nine tailed fox just standing there next to cosplayers.

    She rubbed her eyes and blinked. Nothing changed.

    “Either I got hit really hard on the head or I’m not in Kansas anymore…” She muttered to herself and laid back down to stare at the ceiling, not knowing what she should be doing right now at all and too tired to really care.

    ---

    Well that was a thing. At least the whole berserker thing was dealt with, never mind how scary it was that the crazy woman was able to cut down that berserker in one hit. Wasn’t her whole outfit some kind of supposed to be invincible kind of thing? She wasn’t quite sure where the now not raging girl was from but that would probably be the kind of thing that became important later.

    “So, the rage lady’s rage is done and Nuit didn’t kill her. I’m filing that as a good thing.”

    The positive things, she was choosing to focus on those rather than the negatives. The villains ran away and nothing permanent seemed to have happened. Where did that swimsuit girl end up though?

    Well it was going to be a bit before the Yakumo fox got around to her anyway so it wouldn’t hurt to look about. With a bit of a sigh, she took a walk, making note of all the damages that she was glad wasn’t going to be her problem.

    As she got closer to the stage where all of this started, a faint knocking got her attention, and from there, well the sound was loudest at one spot and this was a stage magician’s act, of course this thing had some kind of false bottom. Fortunately, her rings could pull double duty in cutting open a wooden floor and lifting it up without her needing to bend over and test more of her pain ignoring abilities.

    Another pass of a ring and the top of a large box was popped open, leaving her staring down at swimsuit girl.

    “Hey, need a hand up? Well not a hand, more like a bunch of rings but they’re sturdy.”

    They could probably lift up a person if she focused on it. Probably.

    ------

    Back in the store a certain rough and tumble girl winced as she shifted wrong and exacerbated her wound. She grit her teeth and pulled her hand away from trying to stem the blood flow.

    It looked… surprisingly benign. A small hole in her side that leaked blood but other than the copious amounts of red liquid the girl probably would have overlooked such a small wound. Despite her less than ideal childhood she’d not been shot or stabbed before, and this was very unpleasantly surprising learning experience.

    “Ah,” She called out to the oddly dressed fox girl, “Would you mind giving me a bit of that healing? I’m not sure how bad this is but I’d prefer to keep as much of my blood inside me as possible.”

    Was that a bullet wound? Sayuri wondered if the bullet went straight through or was still in her body. She approached Koyare quickly. “I better take a look before I heal you. If the bullet is still in, then it’ll be worst for you later.”

    Easing the girl down to a comfortable spot on the ground, the kitsune examined the girl’s borders carefully and confirmed the absence of the bullet. “It looks like it went through cleanly, so I’ll patch you up.”

    With no complications, Sayuri placed her fingers around the holes and got to work repairing the damage.

    Others slowly trickled in, encouraged by Mouse Protector, and were all healed of their injuries in turn. Eventually, the only remaining injured was the magical girl.

    -----

    “Thanks.”

    Scarlet groaned as she was helped out of the cramped box. With a sigh she shook her limbs to get the blood flow to circulate again. Not for the first time she wished her Brute power was more conventional, had she not needed more room to build up force she’d have escaped without issue. As it was being left in such a cramped location left her little stronger than any other human.

    Taking back in her surroundings she frowned as she confirmed her suspicious about her little prison being close to the action. Still…

    “Man, that escalated quickly,” in the short time she’d been indisposed nearly everything in the immediate area had been in someway broken. She was honestly confused as to how things could have derailed that fast.

    --

    “Yeah, Breach dragged this crazy woman here and released the berserker. Things went a bit crazy after that. Whoever she is, that woman is trouble.”

    That was putting it lightly but at least it seemed that no one else died beyond whoever was in the store that girl triggered in - and she was quite glad that she didn’t have to clean that one up. She saw the crowd of people in need of healing trickle down until finally everyone was in decent enough condition, and during all of this no other stray villains decided to show up. She headed over herself, her paranoia sufficiently calmed down to actually get the Yakumo expy fix her leg.

    “Hey, got enough in you for me to not have to make up an excuse for how I got a broken leg?”

    Sayuri nodded brightly in an over the top manner. “Sure, just tell them the truth, you broke it fighting villains as a magical girl. They’ll be so astonished, they won’t even think to question you.”

    Behind Sayuri a pair of red heads nod in agreement. One smiling the other in disappointment.

    She watched the other girl for her reaction and patted the ground next to her in amusement. “Have a seat and I’ll patch your leg right up.”

    “While that would be something to see, I’d still have to deal with a broken leg. A joke isn’t worth that kind of bother.” Thema’s reaction was a study of someone used to responding with snark on instinct, although she was more a mix of exasperated and mentally hitting herself for not expecting the Yukari Yakumo copycat to be a troll. She was just mentally over this.

    She still did end up sitting down though, she was not going through the trouble of testing how magical girl healing worked on something like a whole broken leg, that was the kind of thing to play around with on something far less troublesome if it got screwed up.

    “Portals, jokes, and video game copying, anything else in that portal of tricks?”

    “Oh? I wasn’t aware anyone else was familiar with Wakfu. I’m not about to reveal everything just because someone asks though.”
     
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  7. Moderation: Group Post - Mall Incident End
    Master of Squirrel-fu

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    Finish


    It was some minutes later, after the last of the people still in the mall where collected by a very tired mouse themed detective who was being comforted by another girl in a cat themed suit, that something surprising happened.

    Several people jumped as, with a sound not too different from shattering glass, a woman appeared crouched at the mall side entrance to the store. Taking a moment to survey her surroundings and spotting the group she rose.

    Minerva stood and prepared to speak.

    “Have no fear Mouse Protector is here!”

    Only to be interrupted by a woman seeming to explode out of nowhere beside her dressed as some odd combination of a knight and mouse, looking noticeably haggard and battle damaged. She seemed to dismiss just about everything around her until she noticed a her younger counterpart.

    She rushed forward to quickly engulf the panicked cape in a bone crushing hut and lift the much shorter girl off her, still kicking, feet.

    “Oh little Nibbles, do you know how worried I was!” she ignored the struggling girl in her arms and the girls muffled cries as the older cape rubbed her cheek against the top of the girl’s now hatless head, “I knew I shouldn’t have listened to Minnie and tailed your date today. But she’s been so jealous because we spend so little time together anymore. For shame Minnie!”

    Minerva just stared at the hand pointing accusingly at her.

    “I have been discovered.” The voice sounded less convincing then a 3 dollar bill, given with a delivery rivaling the worst of grade school plays, “Curses.”

    “Captain please don’t encourage her,” Cheshire desperately wished she could turn invisible then. Well, she could but she knew it’d only make matters worse, “Were you able to stop the villain?”

    Minerva turned towards the other Ward and frowned, shaking her head and earning a sigh of disappointment from the rest of the official heroes.

    “Pale, drab, and scowly sadly managed to get away,” Mouse protector sighed, “Weirdo just dropped into the floor before I could tag her. No doubt off to lick her wounds.”

    The woman posed proudly before the two teens before wobbling and needing to be caught by her more stoic companion.

    “I told you not to put too much stress on it.”
    “Psh, it’s just a flesh wound,” The mouse cape groused, “Just a little nick, hardly anything to make a fuss about. Anyway, let’s hear how the little power pack here handled things.”

    The current incarnation of the servant of madness stirred and looked briefly at the bombastic hero that showed up. She guessed that the cosplay wasn’t for show...or it was just an elaborate set up for something. She didn’t indulge her paranoia further and instead wondered what was going to happen to her. It was pretty obvious what giving into madness would have caused and if this world had super heroes...she was likely a villain to be foiled.

    Sayuri watched the exchange silently in amusement. ‘Nibbles, was it?’ She thought.

    Minerva nodded, “Getting statements and a simple debriefing would be good. Mighty Mouse’s messages were unfortunately rather brief, though I can see why.”

    Minerva’s gaze traveled softly over the civilians, some of whom still showed some minor injuries or at least signs of previous injuries.

    “In the future however you should learn to delegate less immediately essential tasks, we work in groups for a reason,” the younger mouse, now released, rubbed her head awkwardly and bit her cheek at the soft but fair chastisement. She knew exactly what was being implied, the lack of information that had not been sent to the heroes about the threat they’d faced and how her sister’s injuries could have been avoided with forewarning. Minerva waited for the girl to nod in acknowledgement before continuing, “Now, I’d like to get a few statements from everyone regarding the events.”

    “Are we being detained?” Was the quick response that answered her. A redhead in a familiar outfit but no longer wearing a mask stood up from where she was sitting next to several civilians, “I would like to know if I’m allowed to leave.”

    “Unfortunately yes,” Came Minerva’s sharp response, she held up a hand as the crowd began to mutter and redheaded girl tensed, “It is standard procedure when dealing with unknown capes, or those who may have some form of mental influence over others. It is both for your safety as well as the public at large to prevent such things from spreading unnecessarily. I can guarantee you all that it will not be overly long, we are simply waiting for the arrival of agents needed to take contact information and verify identities. For you capes, this will not mean unmasking. The officers will release you after the procedures have been followed and everyone has vetted.”

    “Haah, and here I thought that this troublesome day was finally over and done with. Greeeaaat.” The sarcasm was strong in Thema at the moment; she was not at all looking forward to dealing with a bunch of late to the party agents. “So who is supposed to be the one with the ‘mental influence’ anyway?”

    Sayuri sniffed irritably. “Anyone who stayed probably. You’d have to be mental to want to wait for ‘vetting’ after driving the villains away.”

    “Good point. I suppose that’s what we get for not bailing from here right after. Not making that mistake twice.” Thema mused.

    Capes and secret identities, The girl lying peacefully on the floor thought. Yep, I’m in a superhero world...somehow. The girl closed her eyes and let out a soft sigh. I’d better corporate if only to learn what’s going on.

    Aoife scowled, “And here I thought that this was the ‘land of the free’”

    “Doesn’t your country have a mandatory registration for parahumans?” Mouse Protector asked recognizing the slight irish accent the girl tried to hide.

    Aoife glared.

    “Mandatory registration? That’s begging for someone to hack into it and go crazy on people outside of costume.” Now where would be nutty enough to think that would end in any way but fire and tears? Thema wasn’t sure but she should find out to know to be a bit more careful if she ended up there.

    The Mouse hero shrugged, she wasn’t really overly informed about the cape world outside of the americas and only recalled the little bit of trivia she’d learned in her senior years World History class.

    “It’s a hassle but it beats the alternative,” Mouse Protector answered, “We don’t have much information to work with right now so we can’t in good conscious let everyone wander off when it could be dangerous. Not just from a possible Master, we’re actually having a few good men looking around the area to be sure it’s safe fo you all exit as well.”

    There were some mummerings from the concerned crowd.

    “Hey, don’t look so down, look at it as a opportunity, we’ve got some time to kill and the magnificent me is willing to answer some questions, sign some autographs, and pose for a few photos with some fans.”

    Quickly many of the younger members of the crowd started to gather around the Heroine.

    “Hehe, patience patience! There’s only so much even a hero as awesome as me is able to handle at once. Follow me, we can leave the boring talk to Minnie, it’s her specialty after all!”

    With a smile Mouse Protector began to lead the crowd of civilians away from the capes, the few stragglers eventually following as well to leave the awkwardness of being left alone in a room of capes and the intense looks of the Mouse hero’s partner.

    Sayuri let out a sigh of the long suffering and began following. As much as she simply wanted to blow the protectorate off, she did need to have a working relationship with them. Capes who could heal without drawback were not common, which gave the fox girl a premium on her services. If she wanted to do be paid properly, the paperwork would have to be approved.

    Thema pulled herself to her feet with the sigh of the annoyed and followed along herself, mostly because it would quite frankly be too much of a hassle to try to ditch the Protectorate right now, not when they had a bunch of teleporters to give chase. She was definitely going to be making herself scarce early on with the next cape incident though, this was already seeming like a massive waste of time.

    Minerva looked at the redhead who still hadn’t moved. Aoife just stared back defiantly, the with a grumple reached into her pocket and pulled out a simple cloth mask she showed the heroine to hurry things along.

    “Well then, Mighty Mouse could you give me a summary of what happened after you first contacted us about the incident?”

    The dapper cape nodded and straightened her posture and began to explain the situation to the woman. Starting with the villains entrance, the berserker cape, the ensuing battle and the surprising turn around once it seemed the villains were on the ropes.

    “...In the end I collected the remaining civilians and injured heroes to bring to the young lady with the fox tails. The henchmen I was able to locate we restrained or knocked out and then restrained before I returned Ma’am.”

    “Thank you,” Minerva smiled and turned to Cheshire, “Do you have anything to add as well?”

    “No, most of my attention was on maintaining my power on the captain and trying to avoid potential friendly fire and I was inside the store with Rider when the villain collapsed the roof on us.”

    The armored cape nodded.

    “And what happened to Brute that villains unleashed?”

    Mighty Mouse narrowed her eyes.

    “She was attacking indiscriminately but focused on the unnamed villain, after attempting to attack us she continued to fight the villain until partially collapsing the food court onto Miss Rider, Miss Mina, and Miss Comet. Afterwards she was defeated by the villain who then retreated.”

    “Thank you, however she’s no longer there,” Minerva said, “Can you confirm what happened to her after she was defeated?”

    “Y-”

    “No,” Cheshire interrupted and put a hand on her friend’s shoulder, “There was too much confusion to keep track of her afterwards with the retrieval of the civilians and the heroes and afterwards we were unable to account for her.”

    Minerva turned to look at the cat cape, a frown on her face mirroring that of the other Ward. Cheshire however simply used her power. For the two capes the opaque material of her mask disappeared to show her face as she met Minerva’s eyes and lead them down to the young civilian girl laying near the fox cape. And again towards the nearby crowd and some of whom were attempting rather badly to eavesdrop.

    “Trigger” she mouthed.

    She turned towards the fox cape, her mask a frowning visage as she tilted her head.

    “You wouldn’t happen to have seen where she disappeared to?” She asked as behind her back she wagged a finger where only her teammates could see.

    The kitsune raised a hand under her chin and hummed to herself. On the one hand, it sounded like a ward thought she was worth covering here and the berserker clearly wasn’t thinking clearly. On the other, the fox girl didn’t want to lie to the heroes

    “I don’t believe I saw her disappear anywhere, sorry.” After all, the berserker didn’t disappear at all, so she didn’t lie.

    “Ah, disappointing I don’t think anyone else besides Mighty Mouse would have had the opportunity before we noticed she was missing.”

    Cheshire was sure of that, with the exception of the Ring User all the other heroes were were either unconscious or indisposed of when the fox had snatched up the berserker to heal. Said user either didn’t realize, thinking the girl just another victim, or didn’t care in which case it was a moot point.

    Thema listened to the short exchange between the fox and the heroes and made a point of not saying anything whatsoever about the subject. She wasn’t sure what was the story of the berserker, but she didn’t seem to be the kind of person who would do that deliberately so she was fine with leaving it to the girl to sort things out herself. If she wanted to turn herself in, she’d do it herself, but this magical girl was leaving well enough alone.

    The girl was a bit touched that the nine tailed fox seemed to have trying to protect her, but after coming down from her all consuming rage and having time to think...she had a very bad feeling. Berserker’s weren’t known to care about collateral.

    “How many people died?” The girl asked opening her eyes again. “How many died while I was under the effect of Madness Enhancement?”

    “Well, so much for that,” Cheshire grumbled under her breath.

    Sayuri’s lips thinned, but she stayed silent. The girl was on her own at this point.

    Behind the now revealed girl several people tensed, a pair of friends readied themselves while Aoife tensed and grit her teeth and glaring down at the girl like she was about to attack. The two independent heroes, Scarlet and Mech Tech Rider gave the girl wary glances.

    Minerva closed her eyes and sighed. Be it exasperation or resignation she just shook her head and knelt before the girl giving her a serious look.

    “Thank you for being honest with us,” She said, “I know you have every reason not to be, so again thank you for your candidness. That must have taken a lot of courage in this situation, courage and integrity.”

    She sighed.

    “Unfortunately I have some bad news, some I’m sure you are aware of or at least suspect. And some of that is that your confession has made things a bit more difficult to help you deal with them. But that is a discussion that can wait, for someone better suited for it than I. As for your question, for your honesty I too well be truthful, even if what I am about to say is painful to hear. I’m sorry to say that I do not know. I was able to see the scene and there was very little left of those trapped inside that I don’t believe it would be possible for me to guess”.

    “I see,” the girl said. It was only by a force of will that kept her warring emotions in check as the realization hit her. She blinked a few times and sat up. “I’ll go wherever you want me to go then.” She looked at the woman and smiled, it never reached her eyes.

    “It’s alright,” Cheshire stooped close to give an awkward pat on the girl’s shoulder. It was rather clear that she wasn’t very used to giving comfort even when her expression and body language were hidden behind her costume, “There were… circumstances outside of your control. While we can’t undo the damage, we can do what we can to make the best of it. C’mon, we should probably get you to somewhere a bit more comfortable and I can let you know what we can do.”

    The illusionist helped the poor girl to her feet and began to lead her towards one of the exits. Mighty Mouse made to follow her only to be stopped by Minerva who held her back and shook her head. Biting her lip the mousy girl hesitated before deciding to follow the lead of her commanding officer instead of heading over the help her friend.

    Admittedly the subject that Cheshire was going to be discussing with the girl would be something not only private but personal, and one Cheshire could uniquely empathize with. However Mighty Mouse, knowing her friend as well as she did, was aware of her friend’s own insecurities and guilt. She didn’t think that Cheshire would lead the new trigger down some wrong path, nor be unable to give her comfort. Rather she was concerned for her friend, for having to offer comforting words that were never given to her and were ones she may not truly accept herself.

    Mighty Mouse shifted uncomfortably but still gave the rest a smile, trying to appear simply slightly bored instead of anxious. She’d need to do something for Cheshire later, she prefered the girl in her normally cranky and pessimistic mood instead of the melancholic and apathetic attitude that tended to come out when she was reminded of certain unpleasant things.

    Minerva nodded at the aquiessence, not noticing the hesitation. She felt the two girls would need some privacy, and that offering a bit of comfort to someone in a similar situation could help the girl she had known for years. Still, she kept a close eye on the two as they left, ready to activate her powers at a moment’s notice should the new trigger show any signs of attempting to escape or harming the Ward escorting her.

    She stole a glance at the PRT vehicles just arriving outside. She was only willing to let them leave at all due to the clear walls around the exit, something that would allow her to keep an eye on them.

    She stepped forward towards the remaining capes.

    “I would like to take your statements on the events that occured here…”


    ------


    “Sooooo… I have a question for you, miss Minerva, if I may?” The kyuubi started, looking expectantly at the older appearing cape. “I’m not completely familiar with your country’s cape laws. What rules do I need to abide by to offer healing to the public? I’ve read up on a cape called Panacea.”

    Minerva looked up from where she was speaking with Aoife, or rather having the small redhead refusing to give clear answers and glaring all the while.

    “Healing?” She asked, “The procedures may have changed but I believe the basics of it have remained the same. For crisis situations the Good Samaritan laws are usually enough to cover the majority of cases unless the healing causes some permanent damage. If you want to do so regularly, or offer it as a service, you will need to speak with the PRT and the Protectorate first. Given some… past incidents they are reluctant to allow even seemingly benign abilities to be used on the general public without prior testing. From there allowances are made on a case by case basis following a guideline based on the properties of the healing ability. The meeting will need to be set up in advance however, as there are a few specific capes we prefer to have on hand for those evaluations.”

    “I see.” Sayuri replied. Having to go through bureaucratic testing would be a pain, but being able to earn money would make the process more tolerable. “I suppose I would have to schedule this directly at the PRT?”

    “You can visit either the PRT or the Protectorate to apply, though here in Dallas both are located on the same property,” Minerva answered, to be more exact they were on two seperate but neighboring properties but the difference was minor, “For future reference if you do move to another city you will need to speak with their branch before offering parahuman services for the public and they can request our files and determine if any additional tests are needed. For now though I can take your contact information and we can determine an optimal time for testing.”

    “That is acceptable.” Came the reply. A number to a burner phone was passed over. “On an unrelated note, there was a... cape who was teleporting a number of hostages to safety during the situation. Is she still outside?”

    “Actually I can answer that,” Mouse Protector stepped in when Minerva seemed unsure, “I got a call in while Minnie was handling the fuddy duddy stuff. I’m sure you’re talking about the redhead that left earlier. Well some PRT squads let me know that the escapees were found by some officers at a park about half a mile down the road.”

    Sayuri stopped and considered her options. Having an alternate identity complicated things and while she would like to help the girl, the means to do so were difficult.

    “Please share my contact information with her if you happen to meet again. I’m hoping we won’t be rudely interrupted next time.”

    -

    “When I came here, I was expecting my first meeting with capes to involve me trying to get an autograph from Mouse Protector, not a bunch of villains trying to rob a mall for some reason. And the crazy spear woman with attacks that feel like death.” Thema was mostly detached from the proceedings, not quite sure what kind of statement Minerva even wanted beyond ‘a bunch of villains showed up and violence happened until that creepy woman showed.’

    Beside the Puella Magi the upset redheaded cape flinched as her expresion tightened.

    “It’s really much worse,” Aoife muttered as she tensed her grip on her arms at the memory of the attack, “All the light was just gone, everything… it didn’t hurt, but it was… it was like falling into an abyss and just fading away.”

    She did her best to hide the trembling in her arms. The feeling was… it could almost be called peaceful but no, it was more the absence of emotion and thought. Aoife was sure, without a single doubt in her mind, that her soul itself had been struck. A portion of her spirit simply erased or stolen with the woman’s attack before the fox eared girl had healed her.

    Aoife spared her savior an uneasy glance, her sight not agreeing with what should be true. The fox girl had no monster on her shoulder, no creature that whispered in her ear like every other with power she had seen. And the same was true of quite a few others she had met just this day, a first and a startling revelation that could not have been a worse moment to surprise her.

    The fox, the Troubadour, the madwoman, and the redhead with the unsettling air about her, they all had the same lack of demons on their shoulders. Though perhaps the most frightening, and what seeded a greater unease was the lack of such on the False Priestess.

    Eyeing the clearly inhuman girl Aoife bit her lip but didn’t make a move to make more space. Whatever the girl was, she appeared to be benevolent, and as much as the girl didn’t quite trust what may be a Fae she could give the benefit of the doubt. She did not seem like the Winter sort at least.

    As if sensing the stare, the kitsune turned her head towards Aoife, blinking in confusion.
     
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  8. Threadmarks: Rias Gaiden - Start
    Master of Squirrel-fu

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    Merior
    Rias Gaiden Chapters

    There was a commotion as the people stumbled in surprise at the sudden shift in location. The fading light revealing the sight of a nearby park. A clear area but not entirely unpopulated as several civilians bagan to clammer about at the sudden increase in population.

    Rias paused for a moment, steadying herself after transporting so many people who she lacked even a contract to connect to, then forced away her doubts. The thick scarf which she was using as a makeshift mask muffled her voice somewhat, but nevertheless she was audible as she called out.

    "Can everyone check that you, and those near you, are okay." She requested, phrasing the words carefully, "You are safe now, but it was hectic back there and it is easy to ignore being hurt when there is so much excitement."

    Rias tried not to grimace behind her mask about bending the truth there. It was something which should be checked, but for the most part it gave those present something to focus on.

    It was after the rescued hostages began to uncluster themselves, relaxing now that they were no longer in danger did something occur.

    From the sky came a shadow, one that quickly grew until a young man touched down roughly near the crowd. His skin was dark and covered in tattoos, something that was easy to see given his bare chest and and the tribal like skirt. It was a view that, even with the rather significant amount of body art etched into it, could be appreciated with the lean muscles the man was showing off without care.

    Though probably most notable about his appearance, even his thickly painted face, were the incredibly large black feathered wings that were quickly receding into his shoulders.

    “Excuse me,” he called out, “would you mind telling what’s going on here? I was just on my way to help out a friend out of a jam, and something tells me that this has something to do with it.

    To a Devil certain things had meanings and implications when they would have meant something quite different to a human being. In this case the simple sight of feathered wings on a person, despite being black rather than white, made the redhead visibly tense as if ready to dodge an attack.

    One of the Fallen was marginally better than an Angel still part of Heaven even if a corner of her mind nagged at her at the sight of the wings.

    "There was an announcement in the mall," Rias said cautiously, "Some criminal brought people in with guns and told everyone to get down and obey or be 'extinguished'."

    She almost spat that word and took a moment to compose herself before continuing, "I thought that it would be for the best if I, and as many people as I could bring, departed before any of them could attempt to follow through on that or do something worse."

    “That sounds about right,” The young man rubbed his chin as he craned his neck about to get a look at the crowd, “Looks like about 60-ish? I think.”

    With a nod he reached into a small pouch at his waist and pulled out a phone. With quick fingers he plugged something into the keys.

    “Hope you don’t mind if I ask her, make sure it’s not another mall robbery slash hostage situation?”

    Rias spread her hands and nodded her agreement, "Feel free. It sounds like it was that, you can ask the others here, but I'd be happy to have made a mistake. I've been having problems with my own phone so I hope you have better luck."

    She glanced at the crowd, looking to see if anyone seemed to be in distress or having problems.

    Seeing no negatives Anima smiled and sent the text. It was perhaps a minute later that he got a response.

    “Okay, Chesh confirmed it, and it looks like I won’t be needed anymore,” The boy smiled as he read the message on his phone, “It seems like some new hero showed up to help out and things turned around.”

    Anima grinned as he shut his phone and turned to address the crowd, “Looks like you guys can go about the rest of your day, everything should be fine soon enough.”

    His part done the young man relaxed and approached the redheaded cape, “With that out of the way it’s always nice to meet a newbie. I’m Anima and this here’s my partner Renard.”

    He gestured to what appeared to be empty space, however in the grove not too far behind him a a chuffing noise was made before a large humanoid fox dropped silently from the one of the trees and approached.

    To someone used to exaggerated reactions to a non-human appearance it would be noticeable that Rias didn't react to Renard's looks. This was especially the case neither was it a deliberately non-reaction and instead it was as though she had simply noted 'needs the legs of his pants fixed because they're ragged' and 'appears like a humanoid fox' as roughly equal import.

    "I'm not that much of a 'newbie'." Rias demurred, actually seeming to relax a little now that Renard was in sight. It wasn't as though anyone would know that the presence of an apparent youkai had reassured her. "But I mentioned that my phone isn't working properly? And I don't know where I am, but somehow home is out of range. And... and I seem to be missing a little time?"

    She paused, giving him a pleading look, then asked, "I am in the United States of America, I believe?"

    Anima appeared slightly confused at the question before shrugging it off and nodding.

    “Yup, Dallas Texas to be exact,” He answered and rubbed his chin again as he got a look at the girl measuring her up. She said she was missing time? The line confused him, especially if she was honestly so lost she couldn’t be sure of which country she was in. Perhaps up north it wouldn’t mean much but down in the south the only neighbor she would be able to confuse them for didn’t speak english. She didn’t look the part but, “About your other question, if you don’t mind me asking: are you having some memory issues? Rather, are you missing important parts of it?”

    The redhead nodded tentative, "I... I'm sure if I got home then oniichan could help. Or if I got to the Academy then I could have someone call him. I'm certain that... I mean, she... I... My friend… Her name was..."

    She stopped, biting her lip behind the scarf and forcing herself to calm, before trying again to speak, "There was a woman in the mall who started to try to explain things, she seemed to know something, but then there was the announcement and I had to get the innocent people out."

    Rias broke off, her hands smoothing down the skirt of her uniform.

    “Well, that… doesn’t quite fit what I was thinking but I guess that shouldn’t be surprising since you certainly don’t look like Case 53,” Anima said, “But some of it does, and I’ve heard some rumors of some of them that don’t fully fit the bill. Renard what do you think?”

    The fox-thing looked down on the red haired girl, he took a sniff of the air and then after a moment shook its head and made a strange gesture towards the boy beside it.

    “Really?” Anima raised a brow, seeming to doubt whatever signal he’d been given. He turned back to Rias giving a placating smile to relieve any suspicious or confusions, ”Sorry, Rendard can’t speak. But it doesn’t look like you’re a Case 53 like I thought at least. I suppose that’s good and bad news, bad since that would be about the only I’d be able to help you, good because it means that you don’t have to find out a 30 year long unsolved mystery.”

    "That's a... good thing." Rias said slowly, but obviously lacked confidence in the statement. Glancing back at the slowly dispersing crowd she changed the subject, "Should we be doing something to help these people? I'm not sure if they need any help thought. Nobody has said that they were hurt."

    “I’m sure they’re fine,” Anima dismissed not really caring much about the civilians. None of them looked hurt, or at least none of them seemed to need immediate medical attention which was good enough for him, “Give it a couple hours and most of them will be bragging about it to their friends.”

    Even now it appeared quite a few of the people were pulling out their phones and speaking excitedly to whoever was on the other end. A few were even taking pictures of the capes as well.

    “Speaking of, we should probably head out before one of them realizes where we’re at and calls up the PRT,” Wings quickly sprung from his back, different from before as they were now brown and batlike, “I’m not really in the mood to deal with that hassle and I don’t think you’ll want to either. I know a little out of the way place nearby to continue this conversation, I can give you a lift it you want.”

    "I don't require reincarnation." Rias replied absently, her gaze turning to the phones as the murmuring of the crowd begins to rise.

    After watching for a few moments she turned back and looked startled by the different wings before she composed herself and inquired, "I'm sorry, but who are the PRT? Are they something of like the FBI or the CIA? I can see how speaking somewhere less public would be good though."

    She sounded out the unfamiliar initials letter by letter then, for some reason, made 'pistol' shooting gestures of her hand when speaking about the intelligence agencies.

    “They’re the Super Police,” came Anima’s shrugging reply, “Erm, the Police for Supers that is, none of them are super themselves. They’re a lot more pushy though, since most of the time they’re generally pointless outside of cleaning up after a fight. Honestly they’re more like the Fun Police.”

    “...” Renard chuffed something sounding like agreement.

    “Heh, you would know wouldn’t you buddy?”

    Anima grinned as he patted his partner’s shoulder. The two had had a rough start, not the least bit helped by their neutrality and the general attitude of normal people in regards to those with powers.

    There was a sound of sirens in the distance and the young man winced.

    “Okay, time to scram,” He said and then began to step towards Rias only to stop as Renard moved forward quicker. The fox person quickly lifted the the girl up in a bridal carry, “Oh thanks Ren."

    The fox nodded as the boy's wings spread out from his back and he quickly lifted into the air and prepared to follow him.
     
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  9. Threadmarks: Meet and Greet
    Master of Squirrel-fu

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    Meet The Wards


    It was a week later that Sayuri walked through the doors of the local PRT branch. A rather large building, taking up an area nearly as large as the mall had. The stereotype about the size of things in Texas was again proving true to her amusement.

    The inside was rather homely, a large open space with a waiting area moderately filled with people and glass windows in the front to allow a good view of the park across the parking lot. The walls were mainly white but decorated with either pictures, colored paints, or other decor, and the place seemed less like a government building than the entrance to some newly built recreation center.

    It was more than a bit surprising to most who saw it, especially out of state capes. However the Dallas branch, and most Texas branches of the hero organization, tended to have a larger surplus in donations and local government funding due to both their popularity and the tenuous position the state itself was in given its proximity to a possible enemy state and several potential disaster areas waiting to spread.

    As it was the young fox cape was greeted by a rather pleasant experience and went up to one of the open receptionists with a pleasant smile on her face. “Hello, I’m Inari. I was asked to come in for some testing of my healing capabilities.”

    Sayuri looked at the receptionist expectantly, waiting for them to pull up whatever information they needed to hurry this along. Her ears twitched as she tried to listen to any reactions to her presence or any other current events she might find interesting.

    There was some mummering from the various people sitting around, some were trying to be subtle and others openly gawked. A few, mostly the younger ones, began to pull out their phones to either take pictures or post about it on their social media.

    The receptionist smiled and nodded, having been told to expect a cape with Fox-like features who was coming in for some sort of power testing. After greeting the cape she picked up her phone and dialed up who she needed. It was just a few minutes, mostly spent filled out a bit of prerequisite paperwork needed to enter further into the building, before Sayuri was told to enter into a nearby door for one of the heroes to meet her.

    After perhaps a couple minutes the door opened again, presenting a new cape around the fox girl’s age if maybe a little younger. Her costume was an eye searingly bright orange, White, and green accented thing. She looked somewhat confused, the expression clearly visible on her face as she’d forgone her mask in favor of painting the upper half of her face.

    “Huh?” She looked around the room, craning her head about and even leaning over to check under the seats in the rather small room, “I thought there’d be more of you here, they told me there were like, what, 5 of you at the mall? Are the other ones late?”

    Her voice had an odd scratchiness to it, and her loose speech and posture, along with her short messy hair gave the impression of a tomboy.

    She frowned and and looked the only other cape present up and down.

    “Hmm, I guess it’s just you then?”

    Sayuri blinked and looked at the younger girl. “Could there be some kind of miscommunication? I was asked here to clear my healing ability with the PRT so I could sell my services. Are others involved with that… incident supposed to arrive today as well?”

    Sayuri lifted her hand under her chin and considered. There was a possibility they want to check the others to make sure her healing had no drawbacks after a few days, but presumably the Wards should have qualified as an accurate sample size. Perhaps it was something else?

    Ah, she was forgetting introductions. “My apologies, I’m going by the name Inari for now. May I know whom I should address you as?”

    The girl grinned wide, uncaring of how it put her chipped tooth on display.

    “Hey, no problemo. I was just told to do the pick up for the meet n’ greet,” She said, “And I’m Pamplemousse, or Star Dropper if ya go by the wiki but that one’s lame.”

    The girl’s grin didn’t drop as she turned back to the open door and the other costumed girl standing there.

    “Sweet, another one!” Pamplemousse cheered, the girl extended her hand after swapping the stick she was holding into her offhand, “And you?”

    Thema was still having second and third thoughts about showing up to this get-together, but she was at least trying to deal with other people and admittedly it wasn’t as if she had anything better to do at the point in time. And so far, the place did look far less sterile than expected from a government building so there was a plus?

    She shook the offered hand from the Pamplemousse? Eh. “I’m Thema. Yo.”

    “Pamplemousse, or Star Dropper if you wanna be lame about it,” the Ward greeted, “Great, 40% there I think. Good enough for me, lets go!”

    With that announcement she jabbed her stick forward through the doorway and a little too close to Thema’s head for comfort given how quickly the thing had moved. The girl let out a giggle at the other girl’s quickly moving aside as she seemed to band march out of room with her stick still pointed forward.

    She didn’t bother stopping or waiting as she continued down the hall, expecting the two other capes to catch up. She just whistled as she continued her odd gait towards where ever it was she was leading them to.

    The kitsune sighed and rolled her eyes at the ward, but motioned Thema forward and joined her in following their guide at a more sedate pace. “And I’m Inari. If there are supposed to be five of us, do you happen to know who else is joining us? I thought I knew why I was here, but it would seem not.”

    Sayuri folded her hands across into her wide sleeves and briefly entertained the idea of whether it would get her in trouble to smack the tomboy across the back of her head with a paper fan and if it would be worth it if she did so. Unfortunately, while the reaction would be priceless, she couldn’t see it calming the girl down.

    “Got an invite to this get-together. I suspect that the invite was for everyone at the mall, probably to try to bribe us into the Wards.” Given PRT policy, it was a good bet. Well if they wanted to go with the soft sell, Thema could work with that, although the likelihood of her putting up with that much people all the time? Nope.

    She’d only be able to handle nearly getting clocked by a random staff for so long. She absently twirled a bracelet on her finger as she walked along with the Yakumo copy. “So what did you come here for if not that? Going to spirit someone away?” That would make the day much better very quickly.

    Sayuri let out a snort. “Hardly. Or at least not unless they asked me to. While it would be amusing as a prank, the fallout would be far more trouble than it’s worth unless for a good cause. No, I came here since the bureaucracy cannot allow me to heal the public for profit without their quintuple tests and forms. They mentioned something about checking for masters and other odd side effects.”

    She clenched her fists up under her chin and gave Thema an exaggerated wide-eyed look of concern. “Tell me, do you feel any inclination to to kneel at my feet a week after I healed you? Or perhaps your leg has fallen off? It’s for purely academic purposes, I assure you.”

    Thema stroked her chin with faux seriousness. “I don’t know about kneeling but I’ve had urges to hug onto your tails, do those count? Sounds like a serious side effect.”

    The owner of said tails pouted goodnaturelly. “No, that addiction is purely unrelated and the action is banned barring special approval. It’s why I limit my public appearances, lest a free-for-all break out.”

    “For the best, no one needs a touch fluffy tail incident to break out. Not without video recordings at least.” Thema wasn’t going to pass up on easy amusement like that.

    The conversation between the two continued as they followed the marching Pamplemousse. It was down a few hallways and several closed doors, two of which requiring the girl to input a code and speak to someone through a speaker.

    “And here we are,” She announced as the group found themselves in front of a glass door and wall leading into a garden. The area inside was surprisingly spacy, actually rising as it was built in tiers and the door opening into the middle most one. In the open area there were a handful of teenagers in costume milling around with each other.

    “This looks nice. How many will be here, if you know?” Sayuri asked. The lack of trees was disappointing, but it wasn’t her place to disparage the scenery as a guest.

    The girl shrugged as she opened the glass doors and then waved at a few of the capes nearby.

    “Dunno, like 20?” She guessed randomly, “I guess it depends on if Yuu, Candy, and Annie brought their whole teams or not.”

    She then swung out her staff once again, pointing it just to the side of the fox girl herself. There was a slight blur that zipped out from it, too fast to make out, and shot past the kitsune.

    “Geh!” came a voice from right behind Sayuri as a boy(?)’s head bounced off a solid wall of some semi-transparent substance filled with strange floating objects.

    “Bad Siege, down!” She called out, “You ain’t giving us more harassment training!”

    “But they’re so fluffy!”

    The young cape’s only answer was the wall fluidly shifting to wrap itself around him(?), lifting him up and and away from the girl whom he’d been sneaking up on.

    Sayuri lifted her left sleeve and slid her right hand within. Dramatically, she pulled out an impossibly large paper fan and brandished it like a sword towards Siege. “Never fear, I have come prepared to defend my tails from those who seek to catch them for their own.”

    The child blinked at the weapon’s appearance before lowering their head.

    “I-I’m sorry,” Siege said softly, “It’s just…”

    “I was captivated by your beauty,” He lifted his head staring directly into Sayuri’s eyes with an intense look in his eyes, “Like a siren’s song it called out to me. Can you not forgive such actions performed in the noble pursuit of love?”

    Thema watched the entire incident play off, not making much effort at hiding her laughter. “This just needs a bowl of popcorn! Oh I’m going to like you, this is already much more fun than anything else I was going to do today.”

    The fox girl blatantly ignored the peanut gallery and pretended to swoon. “After such a heartfelt apology and appeal to my ego, I simply cannot hold that grudge against you anymore. I shall forgive this transgression forevermore.”

    She stopped and smirked. “Of course, that is only this attempt.”

    “Then I shall endeavour to be more direct in my pursuits mi amore so that I won’t have to beg your forgiveness again,” Siege schmoozed, “I have confidence that my honest heart will sway yours.”

    The kid started to grin and blush.

    “Though, perhaps in preparation perhaps a little touching is okay? I am quite skilled with my fing-”

    Sayuri quirked an eyebrow and prepared to smack him with her fan as the kid clearly started to lose his self-control.

    The only thing that came from Siege mouth after his crude attempt at seduction was muffled yelps as the liquidy substance quickly enveloped their head and they began to struggle to escape, limited to kicking as their arms were still bound.

    “Oh no, it’s too late, the power of the fluffy tails has already claimed its first victim!” These were the kinds of things that made Thema wish that she carried around a camcorder to record them for posterity.

    Pamplemousse looked exasperated as she dragged the kicking Siege over to her side. Now the kid was just trying to get her in trouble, it’s not like her power could actually smother him. Not for the first time she wished dearly that she could, perhaps a bit of actual fear would make the annoying brat see sense.



    Damn she was almost able to convince herself that it could work.

    With a sigh she twirled her stick and pulled the substance away from the boy, feeling even more annoyed when she realized she had to also extract it from his throat too as he’d managed to swallow a bit while trying to protest his treatment.

    “*Sniff* You’re so cruel, holding me down and ma-Ow!” Pamplemousse jabbed him with her stick, anticipating his attempt to embarrass her further and punishing it preemptively.

    “You got nothing less than you deserved,” she said, “You’re lucky I don’t just tell the Director and have you put on probation. Again.”

    The child, rather than looking displeased or warry just turned a confident look to his teammate and smiled.

    “Now, there’s no need to get jealous moi petite ciel de nuit~ your place in my heart has not been lost.”

    “Oh? This should be good.”

    “My heart is as vast as an ocean and burns like the sun, there is more than enough room to house passion enough for two.”

    Pamplemousse stared down at him.

    “I think I’ll drop you off with Sienna.”

    “I apologize for nothing.”

    ----------------------------------

    Elsewhere in a small waiting room were three young girls of about similar ages in appearance. The three sat in silence as a TV played quietly in the background, some random nature channel being displayed on the screen but too far to clearly see.

    Only one girl watched was watching the display, a rather plain looking girl with no distinguishing characteristics. Her face unremarkable, her height and size were perfectly average. She looked entirely forgettable.

    Sienna smiled pleasantly as she stared at the TV and enjoyed her boring show.

    In one of the other seats sat a girl with grey and pale skin. She looked moderately irritated with her situation, tapping her foot and mildly scowling, occasionally eyeing the door.

    Cucuy, or until recently Carmilla Vand, was seriously regretting the life choices that lead her to this point her her life. She didn’t bother wondering where she went wrong, as she was fairly sure it would be impossible to narrow it down given the staggering number of terrible decisions she’d made.

    A petite blond girl wearing a domino mask sat there fidgeting, she was never the best at social interaction even before the incident happened. At least she knew her name was Annabel and that she did have a family. Still, she looked at the unremarkable girl who was supposed to be her teammate. Annabel wondered what exactly a girl like her could do, she was still getting used to the idea of a government sanctioned hero team. She had read some comics after all, and those don’t normally end well.

    Annabel sighed and shook her head. She looked at the other girl who was scowling and eyeing the door.

    “Is something wrong?” She asked, trying to keep her mind off depressing things.

    Cucuy didn’t answer at first, almost seeming to either have not heard or ignored the question. Then, after a moment, she sighed.

    “Just getting impatient,” She said, “And regretting life choices. ...Same as usual really.”

    “How envious.” spoke the third girl, not quite neutral but also could not really be called cheerful. It sounded almost like the tone of an automatic greeting, a stale sort of pleasantness that may or may not false.

    Annabel held back a wince. Just three lovely balls of sunshine here she thought before saying, “Want to talk about it? Sometimes it helps….”

    The girl wanted to facepalm when she realised what she just did.



    --------------------------------------

    Euryale -

    It was an odd sort of tension as three new people entered the room. An intimidating woman in roman style armor walked in with two younger girls. One of whom was a curious redhead dressed in what almost looked like a stylized scuba suit.

    The other girl was clearly inhuman, even if she closely resemble one. Looking very much like a mix of some sort of insect and person even if her face was thankfully fully human, albeit with an inhuman skin tone. The tallest of the three, the carapace -clad Euryale walked in behind Minerva at a slight hunch that did nothing to hide the way her bladed ‘wings’ added a few inches to her above-average height. Of the three new arrivals, she trailed the furthest behind, eyes darting warily over the assemblage of juvenile capes.
    Minerva looked over the occupants of the room, stopping only on Sienna whom she gave a wary look, unsure of the reason she was with the two other new Wards. The plain girl was enigmatic at the best of times, an a walking supplier of paranoia fuel at the worst. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust the girl, but she knew how she acted and it was very often erratic and tended towards the morbid.

    “Okay everyone is here,” she called out nodding to the girls present, eliciting positive responses from both Sienna and Scarlet, the swimsuit clad girl beside her, “Some of you I have met with before and it is nice to see you again. To others, this is our first time meeting, or your first time meeting some of the others here. And so I feel some quick introductions are in order before we move onto why we’re all here.

    “I am Minerva, the current Captain of the Dallas Protectorate,” she introduced herself.

    “Scarlette!” The redhead piped up, entering the room undaunted by the previously tense aura about it, “I gotta say it’s great to be here.”

    “Ah, hello…” Annabel said standing up and looking at the group. “I’m called Prisma for now.”

    Why is she in a swimsuit? Annabel thought as she stood there awkwardly. She was glad for the interruption at least.

    “...” The smallest one present grumbled to herself uncomfortably as attention seemed to shift towards her, after both Minerva and Sienna turned their gazes her way, “Cucuy.”

    She spat it out, embarrassed by the almost childish name she was given to work under.

    A few expectant eyes turned towards the inhuman girl.

    Blinking, her chitinous not-hair rattling as she drew in on herself a bit, shoulders hunching in further, the gorgon-named girl finally husked out, “Euryale,” in alto tones clearly rusted by past disuse. The skeletal, bladed pseudo-wings rattled slightly, twitching toward encircling her as she spoke, but she didn’t do more actively than take a half-step back. She sent a probing glance at Minerva, clearly uncomfortable both with being here and with being put on the spot.

    Minerva sighed, “And the last new member of the Wards is Euryale,” She clarrified, as the girl’s words were a bit hard to hear, and gestured to the shy creature.

    “And I’m Sienna,” said Sienna, “I’m already part of the Dallas Wards but I’m no one special, I doubt any of you have even heard of me.

    “Tonight, you are all going to be meeting your new teammates and a few friendly faces you’ll likely be seeing very often. A little welcoming party to ease you girls into things,” she smiled, “I was a bit curious and came to sneak a peek, you all are very interesting.”

    “...Yes, thank you for explaining that Sienna,” Minerva’s voice was a bit flatter than before as she addressed the odd Ward. She turned back to the assembled girls as she gestured for the two new arrivals to take a seat before she began to speak, “Right now we’re setting up a gathering for you all to meet the rest of the Wards team, for both Dallas and and the neighboring team Fort Worth as you girls will be split between the two. Cucuy and Scarlet will be joining the Fort Worth Team and Euryale and Prisma you will both be joining the Dallas branch.

    “Besides the Wards we also invited several local Heroes from both cities whom very often partner with either Wards team as you will run into them sooner rather than later,” She ran her eyes over the gathered group, “Right now however we’re giving you a bit of time to get comfortable with your fellow new recruits before I take you all out there. You can take as much time as you want to get to know each other before you have to meet the rest of the teams you’ll be joining.”

    Again, Euryale cast a wary eye over the other child-heroes. She was clearly hesitant to commit more than her name to the gathering. In truth, she’d been near-panicked at learning she’d have to come in to meet most of her teammates at once. That aside, she did all in her power to hold the flood of thoughts and emotions around her at bay. She didn’t need to hear from them confirmation of how freakish she looked to know she was a freak. She didn’t need their reactions to know she was frightful. “Okay,” she rasped out. “H-how many are all here?”

    Annabel looked at the girl curiously, she could tell she was rather nervous and honestly, this was her first time seeing an actual case 53. She never could tell what her reaction might have been before everything. Panic? Awe? She won’t ever know. Her eyes drifted towards the eerily familiar bone-like wings she had. She couldn’t quite place where she saw something like them so she simply shrugged and then looked up at the older hero. She was curious about how many were on her team as well.

    Before Minerva could answer the inhuman girl’s question Sienna spoke, “It depends, could be as few as 10 or up to about 30.”

    Euryale sighed, eyeing the blonde girl sidelong. “So you don’t know either? Well d-um, dang.” She grimaced at the lame dodge, but shrugged, unsure the other girl’s age to know if she should feel ashamed or not.

    The blond looked over at Euryale and wondered if she should say language to freak her out a bit. Or would that be unacceptable teasing from possibly new teammates? Annabel decided not to dwell on that.

    “Sorry, I haven’t really had the time to learn much about the local teams,” Annabel says and rubbed the back of her head sheepishly. Let unsaid was the fact Annabel herself was supposed to be a local. “So….” Annabel trailed off awkwardly as she really didn’t know what else to say.

    Euryale nodded in response to that. “I only really know the ones that,” she trailed off, realizing that technically that sentence would end with ‘tried to kill me’ and changed it to, “initially found me. Like Minerva.” On saying the Protectorate leader’s name, she gave the older woman a pointed look. She was not good at this sort of thing. Especially if she tried to not cheat by not reading the others’ emotions or minds.

    “That is fine,” wearing a comforting smile the Protectorate cape responded, “You are all new here, we don’t expect you girls to know everything, or even most, of what you will need to right now. Part of the Wards’ purpose is to provide a safe environment for young heroines like you all to eventually develop the skills and knowledge you’ll need to succeed.”

    As many as thirty of them? The count finally caught up with her, and it unsettled, her eyes beginning to glow as she instinctively reached for her powers in response to the fear she felt. No doubt the near-panic she felt at the thought showed as a stricken expression around her glowing eyes. She took several deep, slow breaths, trying to force herself to relax. She swallowed emptily once, then again. Before giving a whole-body shudder and rasping out a warry, “That’s...that’s a lot of new people to see at once.”

    Sienna shrugged, her unmoving smile still in place, “It really depends on if the groups we invited show up with their full entourage. Probably not though, most of the Fort Worth Wards aren’t coming at least. They never do, even if their captain tells them.”

    “Why wouldn’t they?” It was the youngest looking one who asked, giving Sienna a suspicious look.

    “Most of them just don’t like social events, they’re in the same boat as her,” Sienna pointed to Eury, “Actually a bit worse off in a couple cases, you’ll understand soon enough.”

    Sienna’s smile seemed a bit more smug as the younger looking girl glowered at her. True, the cape’s expression didn’t appear to shift but it could still be felt, a certain air of satisfaction. Cucuy, just clenched her jaw, well aware that the other girl was just intentionally needling her, her mysterious way of speaking and the way she phrased her words just trying to get someone to ask the obvious question. Rather than give the information she just seemed to want to appear like she had it, whether or not she did. The blonde had experience with, unfortunately.

    “That attitude of yours is seriously rotten,” She bit out.

    “That’s enough,” Minerva interjected, sending a harsh look at her subordinate to forestall any response from her before turning to the newbie, “Cucuy-”

    “‘Carmilla’ please, I don’t want to be called something so childish.”

    “Carmilla, there’s no need to talk to your future teammates like that. I can understand Sienna isn’t… the most pleasant of individuals.”

    “I have zero redeeming qualities!”

    “But please don’t please try to act civilly with the other Wards and heroes and don’t respond back if you think they’re being rude. You can tell either your captain or the hero in charge of your team and they can help you settle things in more civilized fashion.”

    “And Sienna, you were told to wait with the rest of your team in the courtyard,” She turned back to the uncanny girl, “I remember telling you this when I left the courtyard a few minutes ago, instead I find you here needling your future colleagues. We’ve talked about this behaviour before, but I think some we’ll need to do so again very soon.”

    The tone in her voice made it clear this talk would be much less pleasant than the last, this time the girl did look at least somewhat chastised as her smile fell and she averted her eyes from those of her boss.

    “Fine, I just was just curious but I guess I’ll-”

    “Return to your room.”

    At this Sienna actually showed a genuine reaction, her eyes widening in shock and disbelief.

    “But-”

    “No buts, you went against what you were told and tried to antagonized our guests. If this was first time you’d done this I’d be willing to let this slide but it’s not. You’ve already met our new recruits so there’s no reason to let you head back outside.”

    The girl looked reluctant at first before biting her lip. Without another word she stood up and left the room under the gaze of the mirror clad heroine.

    Annabel’s eyes widened as she stared at the retreating teenage heroine. The girl could hardly believe her eyes as she saw a super powered teenager actually get grounded. She guessed that was another thing to watch out for if she ever misbehaved. Still, she couldn’t help but feel sorry for the older girl. But before Annabel could say anything the other girl was gone.


    Euryale, for her part, was glad the antagonizing unwelcoming committee had left. It had grown difficult for herself from worrying or shifting onto a combat stance with the tension in the room continuing to ratchet up, especially when one of the people in it was deliberately causing it and, worse, singling her out for no damned reason. As she finally opened her eyes, having closed them at the point the other girl singled her out so the baleful glow of her psionics didn’t give away how badly she wanted to throw the other girl at a nearby wall, she took slow, calming breaths. As a faint ozone-tinge filled the space, the accumulated energy grounded itself with a slight crackle of corposant electricity along the zerg girl’s limbs and hair tendrils, giving an odd perspective on the idea of a bug zapper.

    “Are the others like that?” SHe tried to clear her throat, but again disuse added a rasp to her normally huskier voice. “Because if so...I’d just rather go back to,” she gestured vaguely back and downward, pointing to where her hatchery lay on a lower floor, “you know.”

    A deep sigh left Minerva.

    “I apologize for Sienna’s behavior. I won’t make excuses for it, and it is something I will see to corrected, but there are reasons for why she is the way she is,” she explained, “I cannot promise everyone you meet at the party will give a warm welcome. I can at least assure you that I do not believe that your teammates will be as unwelcoming as Sienna.”

    Euryale simply stared at Minerva for a long moment. Narrowing her eyes, she hunched in further on herself, choosing not to point out the problems she had with the statement. “Fine.”

    ---------

    Garden

    “Get back here ya little brat!”

    Siege didn’t even look back as he twisted out of the way of another shot of liquid starstuff.

    Pamplemousse was red faced and livid, covering her mouth with the back of her hand after Siege enacted his ‘Plan’ to escape. In all honesty, it was effective, if embarrassing and had the child pulled it on someone else she’d probably be laughing at the scene. But since Siege had pulled the stunt on her, she was not quite so forgiving of it.

    “Whoa, what’s going on here?” the accented voice was husky and young, matching the small dark skinned boy who’d wandered over to the commotion.

    Seeing an opportunity Siege grinned, a quick pivot sent her towards the hispanic teen. With surprising grace she was able to halt herself before simply tackling the poor boy to the floor, instead wrapping him in a hug while also dodging behind him, placing the young hero between her and the upset Grapefruit girl.

    “Manny! Mis amigo, my dear friend, Star Dropper has gone loco!” Siege carefully moved around the boy, both adjusting her grip around the boy and being careful to keep him between her and the threatening ball of strangeness that was Star Droppers power, “Please I need you to protect me from her.”

    “Ugh, don’t fall for it, he’s lying through his teeth! He… he...”

    “See, she is the liar. Faced with the truth she can’t even think of an excuse!”

    The boy just had a confused look on his face as he turned his head quickly between both his teammates as well as the two capes he didn’t recognize who seemed to be content watching the spectacle he’d just blundered into.

    “He kissed her.” Sayuri remarked blandly, watching the chase. “I think she is overreacting. She would have better luck to let it go for now and ambush him later when he’s not expecting it. Perhaps with a bucket of slimy swamp water.”

    “Hey, I’m just getting free entertainment here.” Thema tossed in, watching events unfold. “By all means, keep up the drama, the escalation!”

    El Tigre blinked and turned towards the teammate currently using him as a human shield against the other.

    “Siege, did you actually kiss Star?” He blushed a bit at the image in his head. Aren’t they both…

    “Yup!” Siege chirped, “I don’t see what her problem is, I mean it’s just a peck on the cheek! That’s practically a greeting, right?”

    “Though, in some places that can be a promise to kill you.” Sayuri smirked, thinking of the Ranma ½ manga. “It all depends on the culture.”

    “Hmm, so she wanted a ‘Little Death’ then?” Siege smirked at the shocked face of Star Dropper as it grew even redder, “To me it was just a greeting, but I didn’t know you thought of it like that ma cherie.”

    “Shut it you!” The blob of star stuff twitched in agitation as it tried to circle around and reach the boy who frustratingly kept the confused third wheel between them.

    Manny frowned and slapped away the blob thing as it tried to reach around him to grab his friend.

    “Hey, stop that. Siege is right, I don’t see what the problem is with just a kiss,” He said, “Back home girls used to greet each other like that all the time.”

    “Huh, I want to know where back home is for you now, if those kinds of greetings were normal there.” That kiss was not the kind of thing Thema would have called any kind of ‘greeting.’

    When she thought about it, Sayuri did remember having family friends who greeted them by kissing the cheeks, but she couldn’t remember the exact culture it originated from. This was hardly a greeting and she would be surprised if anyone actually bought the excuse.

    “Who kisses other people hello?” The orange heroine demanded, “Who would even want to be kissed hello?”

    “Ah, mi hermana, mi abuela, Tia Liona, Tia Carmen,” The boy started listing off, “Frida, Sister Linda from Sunday school, even La Cuervo Negron-”

    “Isn’t she a villain?”

    “She prefers the term ‘Anti-Hero’.”

    “I have seen her literally take candy from babies.”

    “Anyway, that’s not the point,” The boy deflected, careful not to meet the sceptical eye of Pamplemousse, “She still gives kisses on the cheek to say hello.”

    As the children continued to bicker more of the costumed characters who had been milling around the open area gathered around. Some appeared interested, others exasperated by the scene. Even more people started to enter through a few of the entrances around the garden, on both the areas above and below.

    A familiar looking girl in a detective suit and mouse ears caught the attention to the two new heroes and waved them over around the cloud where she and two other capes were grouped together. One of which was a cat themed cape with the creepy black smiley face mask. The other was a girl in red with a disinterested and almost judgmental look on her face, disguised though heavy and bright face paints.

    As it looked like the current conversation was going nowhere, Sayuri decided to break from the group and casually approach the wards she had met at the mall.

    “Hello, Mouse, Cheshire. Interesting party being formed.” The kitsune nodded to each of them politely in turn before turning to the third person. “I am going by Inari. May I ask who I should call you?”

    “Candileja,” The girl gave a thin and off putting smile. She withdrew one of the hands she kept behind her back extending it forward to the fox girl. The confident heroine was rather tall for her age, though perhaps not quite tall by the standards of her older companions. As such while a bit taller than both Sayuri and Mouse Protector she was a still shorter than Cheshire. Despite this the girl’s confidence and rigeged posture projected an image of someone who towered over others. The hand, held slightly higher than normal and her toward gaze only further drove this image home, “I lead the Fort Worth Wards, I take it you are the healer I’ve been informed about?”

    Sayuri looked at the hand, her thoughts spinning about the implications on offering skin contact to an unknown cape when ‘striker’ was its own category. With a mental shrug, she lifted her own and shook the girl’s hand. It would be something to ask them after getting to know them a bit more.

    “I assume so, I haven’t heard of any others capable of healing in this area.” she replied with a small smile as she gently teased the other cape. “Are you going to be involved with the testing? I wasn’t given any details, but I can understand the reasoning for such.”

    “Heh, sadly nothing so interesting,” Candileja’s smile showed a bit of teeth as it grew a bit, “Rather one of my underlings will be standing in as your testing dummy and I decided to accompany her to… I suppose ‘scout the competition’ sounds a bit adversarial. Rather I like to keep track of those of note in my area, ally, enemy or otherwise.”

    The girl’s tone was cordial but something about it gave it a feeling of a challenge.

    Once Candileja mentioned the description of the test dummy, Sayuri frowned and waited for a moment to interrupt. “Wait, the volunteer is a minor? Isn’t that a little young for this? I’ve proven my ability on the field, but is that fine? It’s publically known wards are considered minors in this country.”

    “It is fine, if the goal was to simply injure some random child for you to prove your worth then I, and Double Take as well, would not have been needed in the first place,” She explained plainly, politely. However, as even as her voice was the snakish smile on her face gave it the tone of condescendence in the ears of anyone watching, “I have no tolerance for such pointless frivalties, just know that my subordinate was chosen to test you for a reason. As she has with a few other healers and those with powers requiring human test subjects.”

    “And as for healers, well I hate to say but you’re a bit mistaken there,” she continued, “There’s quite a few, though most don’t advertise the ability so I suppose you’ll not find much in the way of competitors. My own team contains one and I believe one of this cities vigilantes also has some small talent for it. And then there’s her...

    The girl once again pulled one of her arms from where they rested behind her back to point out a girl on the terrace above. A rather pretty, but not eye catchingly so, girl in her mid teens. Dirty blonde hair and freckles but with sharp features. She was dressed in rather plain but amazingly realistic looking armor.

    “I don’t know if you would recognize her, she’s taken great pains to avoid having her picture clearly taken,” Candileja continued, “Believe it or not that girl is Yuusha.”

    She spoke the name as if that was all there was needed to know, as if anyone would recognize the name. And in truth this was deserved.

    The girl that stood above them, Yuusha, was a girl whom could be considered one of the strongest in the world. Not the strongest teen, nor the strongest of her class, but of all capes known and unknown she could be said to stand on equal ground with the monsters, the gods in human skin that have come to be in the current era of Capes.

    It was doubtful that there was anyone who lived in the state who didn’t know her name regardless of their interest in the new age of heroes. Her actions the past few years cementing her name in the minds of Texans young and old. A girl who could survive fights with some of the most terrifying capes known, a girl who fought back to back with a man considered the strongest hero, a girl who’s abilities grew in both depth and breadth as her career continued.

    Sayuri shrugged noncommittally. “Alright. If you say she is ‘Yuusha’, then she is.”

    It didn’t matter all that much to the fox girl. Privately, she didn’t think much of simply naming oneself hero in the girl’s now native language. Her good mood was soured at the casual disregard the ward leader had towards using a kid as a guinea pig to qualify her as a healer. No matter whatever their power was, Sayuri would have expected an adult hero or even a PRT volunteer would have been chosen if any human testing needed to be done.

    If that Candle girl was supposed to be encouraging, she’s quite terrible at her job.

    Thema didn’t come into this with very high hopes to begin with but just being on the outside of the day of the dead themed cape and the fox’s chat was enough for her to be slightly annoyed. She couldn’t quite bring herself to do more than give Mighty Mouse and the invisible cat - Cheshire they said back at the mall? Well they got a bit of a hesitant wave which was a lot because wow a lot of people were starting to show up.

    Choosing to attend a party might not have been her best idea. She should probably come up with something to say though. Something not what she’d normally say…. “Well look at it this way Inari, if they’re using a Ward, she probably has some ability to bounce back no matter what happens.”

    Well they probably did. How truthful that was? Who knew?

    “That really doesn’t make me feel any better. A child will have to be purposely injured to various degrees for me to demonstrate in the first place. I’ll simply have to be satisfied it won’t have to be repeated, or at least I hope it won’t need to be,” the kitsune rebutted sourly.

    Internally, Sayuri wondered how severely, her ability to heal would be tested. She wanted to know how safe the unnamed girl would be. Perhaps she would be perfectly fine with whatever power she had, but doubt lingered.

    Candileja narrowed her eyes and stepped forward to respond.

    “Ahem.”

    Attention shifted to Dallas pair who’d been forgotten in the wake of the abrasive cape’s posturing. Cheshire’s face had changed, the eyes looking elsewhere and the mouth no longer grinning. Mighty Mouse gave the two a flat and unamused look, quickly shifting to a smile and a wave to the magical girl before schooling her features once again to address the conflicting pair.

    Mighty Mouse inhaled deeply, holding the breath in for a moment as she held up a finger.

    “I’m not angry,” she lied through her teeth, “But I am disappointed. In both of you.

    “Candileja, when you asked to come and meet with the guests I gave you permission under the impression you would be cordial,” She said, raising her finger again to interrupt her colleague’s rebuttal, “I’ve talked to you about this before, and while I cannot order make demands of you in your city I have asked you to act more civilly if you want to attend functions in my city.”

    The two locked eyes, neither willing to concede.

    “And you, Inari,” Mouse sighed as she closed her eyes and shook her head in exasperation, “I don’t know what sort of ideas you have in your head about us here, but I would like to address them. First and foremost I want to ask you a question, are you aware of implications your insinuations have, not of the PRT or the Protectorate as a whole but of us, here?”

    She gestured to herself, Cheshire, and vaguely to the various capes in the area.

    “Because to me it sounds like you are accusing myself, my coworkers, and my friends of either turning a blind eye or even supporting a test where we would just be hurting someone undeserving, unwilling, and unable to protect themselves for the sake of a test.”

    The girls eyes were fierce, showing just what she thought of the idea alone.

    “I would have liked to believe that we have made a better impression than that but it seems I was mistaken. I don’t know your situation or your experiences, what could have given you such a negative opinion of either our organization or just my team, and so I will not fault you for your suspicions. However you need to be aware that your words, spoken and unspoken, have consequences. More than just for you.”

    She sighed, rubbing her temples as she took another calming breath. Behind her Cheshire shifted uncomfortably.

    “Double Take, the girl you will be using your powers on volunteered,” Mighty Mouse informed both girls, “She is one of several capes whom we ask for assistance when it comes to testing particular powers. Those requiring a human target to be specific. While it is not outside the realm of possibility she could have been coerced into it, I highly doubt it and I believe you will too once you meet her. Her power, as loathsome as it may sound, makes her a perfect specimen for such tests. But the criteria for that is that she is not only safe but doesn’t suffer for it. I would even say she would be the preferable option over a cape who could duplicate themselves.”

    “Thank you for not simply dismissing my worries as your counterpart had. I don’t like the idea of any children being harmed, I hope you will understand. Candileja’s attitude reminds me of some unpleasant individuals who wouldn’t hesitate to throw someone into some event where they would come out physically fine and ignore their mental health.” Sayuri began apologetically.

    “I’m aware of the power of peer pressure and the need to feel a part of a group as well as a multitude of other issues for young adults. Perhaps the Protectorate has fully mapped out every possibility. You have gone through this screening. I haven’t, I am from Japan. I apologize for any insult given, but I hope you can understand my concern when I learned the age range of the… specimen. I came expecting someone from the protectorate would be the test subject or perhaps some manner of cadaver, which I admit is my fault.”

    As one argument seemed to be dying quickly another was still raging and about to escalate to violence.

    On the veranda above a pair watched the growing spectacle with keen eyes.

    “This is why I love coming to these things,” It was a smallish girl who spoke, wide eyed and pale to the point a comparison to china would not be hyperbole, “It’s always so lively.”

    “Indeed,” The voice was deep and masculine, suave and confident. Completely at odds with the speaker. Beside the girl, on the railing, sat a black cat topped with a witch’s hat, “These children prove quite entertaining to watch.”

    The small creature’s ears perked as it turned to the where the new arrivals were, rising to all fours to move a bit closer as well. The girl however only spared it a modicum of attention, quite enjoying the romantic comedy bellow her.

    “I believe the one you were waiting for is getting impatient,” The cat declared wagging it’s tail lazily as it focused on the fox girl, “It seems she doesn’t trust you, clearly your reputation precedes you madam.”

    “Pftt,” The puppet like girl scoffed, “Just another of those rebellious know it all brats who pop up. Going on and on about conspiracies, and how corrupt the government is, and thinking a little glimpse of the system form the outside is all they need to know how to fix everything. I bet you a whole tuna she’s a Scionist.”

    “I tend to have trouble telling humans apart but I think she’s from the other part of asia.”

    “Not that, I mean those weird nut jobs who started to worship the golden man as if he were God..”

    “The concept never struck me as strange, people have some weird beliefs,” the cat tilted it’s head, “One god is as good as another, though I suppose hers would have a bit more credence to it.”

    The girl glared at the cat as it simply groomed itself uncaring as it spoke some rather blasphemous things, even to someone who didn’t believe in things like God his words still irked her.

    “Matters of faith are different, I find these Scionists distasteful for their lack of it. I prefer to verify things on my own, a scientist, a philosopher has no need for faith in anything but the Truth,” She declared, “I would rather others do the same but I do not fault the masses for belief when they lack the means of finding the Truth for themselves. But this and that are different things entirely, these Scionists are simply… just fakes. No faith, no determination for themselves. The cultists worship it for its power, nothing else, while the worst of the lot simply give token lip service to wear it like jewelry, or a peacock displaying it’s plumbage.”

    “Heh,” The cat chuckled, “the irony, the two of you have become enemies without ever having met.”

    “That’s not irony,” A new voice interrupted, freezing the cat in place, “That’s just a coincidence.”

    The cat didn’t look behind him where the voice was coming, instead leaping off the banister the moment he overcame his shock.

    The girl behind him, tall and of an athletic build didn’t appear the least bit surprised by the response. With hypnotically fluid grace she kicked a nearby small staff that was hanging on the railing guarding the edge to knock it into her outstretched hand. The appendage moving forward to quickly hook the cat in the crook of it to let her pull him back. Her other hand snaked out to grab him by the scruff of his neck.

    “Grimmalkin, what mess have you made for me to clean up now?” Artemis asked the struggling beast.

    She was smiling wide, beatifically even, the expression softening the strong features of her face that were visible under her helm.

    The smile was a lie, like a soothing light of an angler or the sugary scent of a pitcher plant, the smile was a terrifying warning to anyone aware of the nature of the one wearing it.

    She didn’t break her stare even as she used her newly acquired tool to hook the neck of the puppet girl who’d tried to make her own exit while the intimidating cape was present.

    “Mao?” The cat chanced pretending to be some stray, a tactic that had saved him many times before.

    “Grimmalkin,” Her expression didn’t change but the cat felt far more terrified as she stared up at her, “Grimmalkin, what mischief have you been up to before I discovered your mangy presence befouling this building.”

    “No-nothing!” The cat claimed, “I had only just arrived with the good doctor! Isn’t that right Doctor?”

    The puppet like girl raised her hands in front of her as the gaze turned to her, shaking her head. She ignored the look of betrayal the cat had, the creature’s features strangely emotive for an animal.

    “You will tell me what is you have done,” Artemis told him, “Or we shall see how well your ‘magic’ protects that coat you’re so proud of from a straight blade.”

    “You wouldn’t!”

    “I will leave some fur on your face and paws, the contrast will make it all the more humiliating I believe.”

    “I spiked the punch!” The cat shouted squirming even more, “I spiked the punch with Miss Valentine’s liquor while no one was looking!”

    “Was that all?”

    “I may have also lied to a few of the young ladies about things Master has said to rile them up.”

    The girl sighed, shaking her head. A fine mess the little beast had made for her. Her eyes trailed down over the garden to get an idea of who would be affected. She spotted several glasses of punch or soda in the hands of both the capes but the various staffers milling about. She also saw the wandering eyes of several of the girls in the area.

    Flicker was wandering about, flushed and cup in hand. Cheshire and her captain were thankfully devoid of drink but were likely the target of the cat’s scheming. She paused as the smell of alcohol cough in her nose from a soft breeze turning to look at the chaos bellow them.

    The flirtatious jester was wrapped entirely around their one of their newest recruits, rubbing cheeks with the embarrassed hispanic boy even as the normally rather level headed shaker girl was very close to exploding in a rage.

    “This is entirely your fault,” She announced, “You will be solving this for me, or rather I will be using you to solve this for me.”

    The cat appeared both confused and fearful, which changed to entirely fearful as the girl reared back the arm holding him.

    “Please Lady Artemis, have mercy!”

    “No.”

    Without hesitation she chucked the yowling feline at the tangled trio on the ground and then turned away. The cat would either solve the problem for her or redirect the ire on itself and suffer for its crimes, both were acceptable outcomes.

    She turned to the doll like girl.

    “I hope you are not planning to throw me at your problems as well,” The doll said, “I am rather fragile you know.”

    “Not unless those two start a fight in the next couple minutes,” Artemis answered, “I came to get you and Double Take for the tests. I take it you brought the supplies needed?”

    Rather than answering the doll girl smiled and patted her chest, a strange knocking sound coming from the action. Artemis just nodded and lead her towards the stairs to the lower level, passing a certain blonde knight fussing about a young girl in a wheelchair.

    -------

    Most didn’t really notice the commotion above, only being surprised as a cat seemed to fall out of the sky onto the group of fighting children, having grown by one as the cat latched it’s claws into the mask of a certain tiger themed boy.

    “Aaaah!” El Tigre yelled unable to remove the beast as both his arms were trapped by his two teammates attempt to, quite literally, fight over him, “Ayudame!”

    Thankfully his salvation came, oddly in the form of one of the two who were just before the the cause of so many problems.

    “Grim!” Siege seemed to forget the situation entirely in favor of grabbing the now panicking cat to hug it close, “I saw you before by the punch but you disappeared so quickly, if I didn’t know any better I would think you were avoiding me.”

    The cat only seemed to panic even more as it realized just who was holding it.

    “Unhand me! I say, unhand me child!” Grimalkin tried to squirm out of the jesters grip. The struggles halted as the child began to pet him him gently, running fingers over his fur and scratching behind his ears. As much as the proud cat tried to fight it he was no match for the nimble digits, “C-curse you...”

    Siege just giggled as the cat began to purr.

    ---

    Well it seemed that things weren’t going to devolve into a bigger fight right now and with things cooling off, Thema was a bit more comfortable with looking around the area again. For the best too since it let her see a falling cat land in the group of those three amusing teens.

    ….Was that cat talking?

    She didn’t even notice when she’d wandered over to the outskirts of the group but this was just a bit to weird for her to let go by and if it also involved people she already somewhat knew and thus let her avoid dealing with new people, well that was a bit of a bonus.

    “You have a talking cat.” It needed to be said and the magical girl couldn’t help the skeptical stare. “A talking cat. What the hell.”

    The kitsune shrugged, keeping an eye on the feline. She didn’t react quickly enough to catch it before it landed, but it seemed to be alright. “It’s the protectorate. Likely some manner of changer or projection.”

    “That’s Grimalkin,” Mighty Mouse watched stone face as Siege left with the oblivious feline in their grasp, “He’s a magic talking cat, or he claims he’s a magician anyway. He’s not a Protectorate cape but he’s a hero here in Dallas. Fair warning, he’s far from the strangest face you’ll see around the city.”

    “Magical talking cat. Eh, fair enough, we have magical girls, why not magical cat? Explains the talking anyway.” Thema shrugged. “Certainly could be far worse.”

    “Oh Captain, My Captain,” came a bored voice from behind the group, “Our fearful trip is done. The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won.”

    At this the girl, dressed in robes and bronze armor lifted up the arm of a confused, but apparently amused, woman who looked uncannily like a china doll.

    Mouse turned to stare at her uncomprehending for a moment before sighing and rubbing her temples.

    “Why?”

    The woman didn’t answer.

    “Fine, The port is near, the bells I hear, the people are exulting. Now, why are you’re bothering with this?”

    Mighty Mouse sounded like she suspected the reason, though still seemed to want to hear it from the girl herself. The night had not gotten off to the best start and it only seemed to be getting more complicated.

    “I had a run in with a certain mangy stray. I’m just following protocol,” Artemis answered.

    “Arty, Mr. Fluffles is a friend.”

    Mr. Fluffles is a menace,” Artemis rebutted, “It seems he spiked the drinks as well to serve his own amusement.”

    Sayuri collected a drink and swirled it around her mouth, trying to identify the alcohol used by the taste.

    “Hmm, I can’t tell what type, I mean… it doesn’t taste off?” The fox girl smiled innocently.

    Artemis sent a glare at the direction the cat was being taken to, expression softening at the sight of the panicking feline.

    “I have already taken care of disciplining him, though a more formal reprimand at a later time would not be remiss,” She added, “In either case I have brought you the doctor like you asked.”

    “And Double Take?” Candileja inquired, discreetly pouring out the remains of her plastic cup into a nearby plant pot, “I believe she’s also going to be needed and I don’t seem to see her with you Number Two.”

    “I didn’t see her while wandering about and assumed she’d either be at the bottom of one of the pools or may have squirreled herself way into some crevice again,” if she seemed bothered by the other captain’s tone she didn’t show it, however her own efficient reply seemed to serve as it’s own weapon against the girl as a sharp eye could perhaps spot the slight twitch that went through the hispanic cape’s expresion, “It seemed like it’d be quicker to simply have you call for her provided her phone is still working.”

    Candileja grunted and pulled out her phone.

    “May I ask what about her enables her to be the ideal test subject for this?” The healer asked mildly, still irritated that the guinea pig would be too young to even vote.

    “Well probably the most important is her power,” Mouse offered as her fellow captain began to impatiently wait for someone to answer her call, “To put it simply, there doesn’t seem to be anything that can permanently affect her. I don’t mean just damage either. The girl has been able to undo Master effects, Striker effects, even teleportation. And, try to keep this quite if you would, she’s been able to come back from dying.”

    “Honestly it’s not much of a secret,” Cut in Cheshire, “The girl tends to drop like flies. ...Well a fly anyway.”

    “And she doesn’t keep mental trauma when it’s reversed?” Responded the fox.

    “Sadly no,” was the response from Candileja as she hung up her phone, “And you’ll see why in just a-”

    A shadow appeared overhead that quickly grew, a childish gleeful shout also growing with it. Before the girl could even finish her sentence a blur whizzed by the group and then impacted the floor beside them with a horrible wet thud. For a moment beside the group was the twisted body of a small child, no more than 10. Blonde hair slowly began to stain red with blood that quickly spilled from her torso which had split like some sort of overstuffed balloon of meat. There were a couple raspy breaths before the twitching mass stilled.

    “Woo!” The body disappeared and a young blonde girl stood where it had been hands held up in cheer, “New record!”

    “...Moment.”

    Sayuri’s mouth silently opened and closed a few times before she turned to the leader of the Dallas Wards. “I apologize fully for any insinuation I made.”

    Thema, still holding a half filled cup that she stopped drinking once the whole alcohol thing came out, chuckled at the new cape’s most entertaining entrance. “So she respawns like a video game character in one of those super hard platformers? Nice. Hey, have you actually tried parkouring over the city like that?”

    Candileja just stared down at the blond girl, a hollow look on her face, the look of someone who had long ago since given up hope. She sighed.

    “Something like that. The exact mechanics and limits are a bit more complicated though,” She stared at the girl before turning to Inari, “As for the other reason we asked her, to be honest I am somewhat fearful what horrors she’d concoct in her deranged little mind if she learned she was overlooked for such an opportunity to indulge in her masochism.”

    “I’m thinking blender, I’m pretty sure I know where you’re hiding the kitchen supplies now.”

    “The point being that letting her volunteer here lets us both use someone uniquely suited to it and would hopefully prevent her from doing something even more outrageous,” the captain sighed, “Speaking of, I had very specifically told you to take the stairs down and avoid causing a scene.”

    That she’d immediately acted as if she knew the girl would disobey her once the call ended spoke volumes. Candileja was really regretting accepting the transfer request, as useful as the girl was she caused so many more problems than solutions. Even worse the pyrokinetic’s usual method of discipline had the exact opposite effect on the serial suicider.

    Other conversations ended as the large double doors to the side of the garden dinged and opened.

    The first to step out was a familiar tan woman in shining armor, followed by several young unknowns.

    --------------------------------
     
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  10. Threadmarks: Meet and Greet 2
    Master of Squirrel-fu

    Master of Squirrel-fu Judging You Internally Moderator

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    New wards second part


    Minerva lead the new charges into the garden area quickly taking stock. She could see on the middle level, on which they entered, was the Captain of both Wards teams, as well as a few of their teams and a couple new faces.

    Mighty Mouse, Cheshire, Double Take, and Candileja stood close to them, alongside the two new heroes from the lab. Nearby was the strange duo of Artemis and a certain doll-like tinker. Further back were El Tigre and Stardropper, the latter winning the apparent wrestling match that had broken out between them. Towards the center was a mixed group, Speed Demon, Flicker, and a camouflaged Saturn Girl.

    “Everyone,” She announced, “Gather round, it’s time to introduce you all your newest teammates.”

    It took a couple minutes for everyone in the area to form a crowd, over half a dozen more faces appearing in the crowd, including a smug looking jester holding a frazzled and haunted looking cat.

    As more people crowded around, the tallest of the three figures shrank in upon herself, taking first a half-step, then multiple steps backwards to place both the Protectorate cape and the other new Ward between her and the others. There was a rattling sound like bone shifting, as a pair of immense appendages like skeletal, blade-tipped wings shifted from behind her to wrap around the chitin-clad girl’s body defensively, almost cape-like.

    Annabel looked curiously at the assembled “capes” that gathered around them. Her eyes lingered on the blue lizard girl before moving onto the Jester holding a distressed cat. A frown marred her face at that before she shook her head and smiled. Taking the lead, she took a step forward and said. “Hello, I’m going by Prisma for now...I hope we get along.”

    The mouse eared hero stepped forward cheerfully offering a hand to shake.

    Annabel smiled and shook the older capes hand gently.

    “The Marvelous Mysterious Mighty Mouse at your service Madam,” The cape gave a stage bow, tipping her hat as well, “I’m the captain of the Dallas division of the Wards, it’ll be a pleasure working with you both.”

    She smiled to both Prisma and Euryale.

    Behind the other two, the tendril-haired telekinetic opened her mouth once, twice, then closed it again. She shut eyes that had started to glow a baleful, bright orange. After several slow, deliberate breaths, she opened eyes that had once more returned to a dark blue. “Euryale. Not fond of crowds. Last one I was in was trying to kill me. Or...thought it was.” Her lips twitched faintly, and the winged limbs relaxed to fold behind her once more as she stood back up to her full height. Her eyes were still wearied and wary, however.

    The short blond, last of the group, cleared her throat.

    “They call me,” She paused, almost for dramatic effect though the face she made seemed to imply anything but. The girl looked as if she’d just bitten into a lemon as she recalled her moniker. She eventually spat it out, sounding defeated, “Cucuy.”

    “That means you’re mine,” Came the confident voice of the hispanic cape, “Candileja, I am the leader of the Fort Worth Wards division, and the sister team to Dallas. I have heard quite a bit about you and your exploits.”

    The small blonde twitched.

    “Rest assured, I have no concerns about your past beyond what is needed to ensure yours and my teams safety and effectiveness. I am well aware of the circumstances surrounding your situation, and we’ve taken steps to prevent any further incidents. So long as you do not seek to once again take part in the activities that lead you to our attention you have nothing to fear of me nor my team.”

    “Taken steps?”

    A smiling blond girl raised her hand with a smile, “You can eat m-”

    “No.” Candileja’s hand moved too quick to see, clamping down on the girl’s mouth like a vice, accurate despite the older cape not even diverting her eyes towards the smaller blonde, “If you finish that sentence, no that thought there will be a reckoning.”

    “Whatcha gonna do? Kill me?”

    “If only,” the girl muttered before tightening her grasp to prevent more sass, “No, however do not think your new teammate is the only one I’ve studied up on. I suppose I should have taken a closer look at your dossier when you first arrived, but I’ve since rectified that.”

    “So?” Double Take taunted.

    “Mr. Tibbs and Miss Polly are currently being held in an undisclosed location, you will do as I say if you want to see them again.”

    The girl’s jaw dropped.

    “If you do not believe I will follow through here’s a small incentive,” She reached into one of the pockets of her and pulled out some small item wrapped in cloth and handed it to the girl.

    Double Take quickly unwrapped it, gasping in horror as a small half melted plastic doll arm fell to the ground.

    “Just know we could have avoided this had you listened,” Candileja stated coldly, “Mrs Brisbee’s unfortunate end rests squarely on your shoulders.”

    “Really…” Sayuri deadpanned from near the back. She thought this whole scene was hugely overdramatic.

    Thema for her part had frozen up as soon as she saw the scaled woman that was supposed to be a Ward, those hair tentacles, wings, and eyes, there was no way in hell she was not going to recognize the Queen of Blades and given what that brand of crazy represented, Ayomide was slightly freaked out right now.

    Holy shit the Zerg Queen is here we’re all going to die in a swarm of mutant elephant things

    Fortunately, some bit of sense broke through the rising panic. Sure she looked exactly like one of the scariest beings in the entire series but she was alone. No horror monster trying to eat everyone’s face. Maybe it was just a coincidence. Right, deep breath, calm down, no need to overload on the negative emotions and make another apocalypse scenario. Focus on the berserker girl, much safer.

    Having finally calmed down a bit, Ayomide was able to catch the introduction of a name she needed to look up later and Double Take heavily competing with Siege for the position of best entertainment. “Hey now, isn’t that a bit too R-rated for this meeting?” She tossed out, not doing a good job at holding back laughter.

    “Anyway, just know we’ve secured the resources you need,” Candileja continued politely to Cucuy, doing a complete 180 from her attitude just moments ago and ignoring the shell shocked girl beside her morning the loss of a cherished childhood keepsake, “I would go into specifics but I feel you would rather not discuss it so publically.”

    Cucuy seemed tense, stressed by the near spilling of her secret and glad it’d been misinterpreted as a simple come on. As weird as the intimidation display she just witnessed was she couldn’t say she didn’t appreciate the results.

    The last thing she wanted was for others to know of her… distasteful dietary needs. She wasn’t even sure she wanted to know how the girl and her organization had even secured the resources to support her. In the end she just silently offered her hand for the cruel girl to shake.

    With the captains’ meetings out of the way the rest of the capes present felt it time to introduce themselves.

    A blue humanoid, lizardish looking cape zipped through the crowd to stand near Euryale. The size difference was massive, with the blue cape being a less than 5 feet compared to the other girl’s massive stature she looked like a child hopping up and down in excitement near an adult.

    “Hey-ey! I’m Speed Demon, nice ta meetcha!”

    As the lizard girl suddenly appeared beside her, Euryale’s jolted back a pair of inhumanly swift steps, even as an abortive wave of force scattered small objects and dust around in a spherical area with the chitinous cape at its epicenter. Each figure within the courtyard would’ve felt a wind-like force shift past them, as the orange light flared in the newcomer’s eyes. For her part, her hands were suddenly occupied forcibly restraining the bladed wings from levering up into a threat posture oriented on the sudden speedster. As the plastic clatter of a half-melted doll’s arm rattled across the room, the fading echoes of a startled, husky voice dissipated.

    “Wah!” The speedster’s light frame rocked back from the sudden rush of wind, she quickly fell on her tailed butt as she lost her balance, “Whoa, freaky!”

    Despite the oddity the girl didn’t seem perturbed, instead dusting herself off and zooming back to her fellow Case 53. She zipped around the girl taking in her appearance, paying no attention to personal space as she tried to stretch to get as close to the taller girl’s level as she could.

    “Hey-ey, Eury, didja hear me up there?” The girl didn’t sound malicious, sounded as if she genuinely believed the girl may have not heard her given their relative heights.

    On the other side of the room, Euryale murmured to the excitable Speed Demon, “Y-yeah, I’m Euryale. Um. Sorry. Startled me.” She ran a clawed hand through her hair-tendrils, feeling more than a little overwhelmed by the sea of emotion and roiling thoughts she was currently adrift amidst.

    Siege move towards the young blonde cape Prisma, a smirk on his lips and a swagger in his steps. However his progress was halted by a bubble of strange matter forming around him and dragging him to the back of the crowd. Instead a young green skinned red headed girl seemed to appear from the air and floated over Prisma.

    “Hello, I’m with the Fort Worth Wards but it’s still a pleasure to meet you,” She extended a hand, “I’m Saturn Girl.”

    Annabel shook the girl’s hand gently and smiled. “It’s nice to meet you too.” After the common greeting the young girl couldn’t help but ask. “Is flying fun?” With honest curiosity. She had always wanted to fly when she was younger and now she can only do it by riding a Pegasus and she doubted she would be able to just go out riding with it given what it’s capable of.

    “A bit,” the green girl didn’t lose her smile despite the awkward stall in the conversation, “I hear it varies from cape to cape, but I enjoy my version of it.”

    The girl did a small little acrobatic twirl, an impressive display of flexibility and coordination but perhaps not quite so impressive as the girl’s motions were somewhat slow and deliberate compared to those of an acrobat who didn’t have the gift of flight. The motion looked more akin to a swimmers stunt.

    “I’m rather new, like you. I joined up just a couple months ago,” She continued, “I hope you stick around, a lot of new Heroes here tend to transfer out.”

    Annabel looked at the acrobatic display with some excitement, even though it was slow and deliberate unlike someone who actually trained their body to defy gravity for a short while, the fact that someone was actually flying in front of her without wires made up for it. Then she registered what the green cape said and bit her lip. Her transfering anywhere was never in the cards, be it her issues that caused her to join in the first place or having to reconnect with a family that she does not even remember….Annabel quickly hid behind a smile.

    “I probably won’t transfer,” the young girl said trying to avoid that particular depressive spiral of a thought train. “Family lives here so unless they suddenly move I’ll be a hero here as long as I can.”

    While the new Wards were being introduced they were by no means the only focus of attention. From behind the crowd where he’d been hiding a young white haired child emerged, careful to stay out of sight as he approached a certain fox girl.

    Greetings Senpai,” The words were spoken in Japanese and the boy bowed, displaying clearly the two fox like tails that poked out of his robe, “I am Hakumen, de gozaru.

    Greetings Hakumen.” Sayuri returned the bow, replying in the same language. “I am going by Inari. Are you also a member of the Wards?”

    Yes, I joined the year before last, after I gained my second tail,” Hakumen stated politely, “I have to say, for you to take the name of the Goddess, you must be very confident. Your tails tell of power but the goddess of the rice fields i think you are not, de gozaru.”

    “You would be correct.” Sayuri admitted. “Inari-sama hasn’t yet punished me for my impudence, but I believe I’ll be doing her image justice so I don’t think she will have cause to object. Sadly, I’m currently no match for these endbringers, so I’m positioning myself as a healer to keep those who are alive as long as possible. It is quite frustrating in truth.”

    Few are sadly blessed with such strength,” Hakumen admitted sadly, his voice and actions exaggerating the actions, even his mask white kabuki mask appearing forlorn before a swipe of his fingers changed it out for a jovial fox face once again, “Still, it is nice to see others of mystical persuasion,00 it is such a rare thing. Most are usually minor spirits or curses that need to be cleansed, even then it’s usually aneue and her partner who take care of it. I believe the last was a dog Ayakashi a month ago.

    If you or your aneue ever need help cleansing curses, please feel free to ask for my help. Those like us need to work together in this day and age. There is another I stumbled across the other day, though I believe she is lost and out of her depth here. The villains attacked shortly after we met and we took separate action, so I’m hoping to run across her again to lend a hand.

    The influx of new people was one thing as long as she wasn’t a centre of attention however, the meet and greet meant that Ayomide was no longer in a position to let someone else do the talking and hang around the edges of the conversation and she was suspicious of just standing around might make her look like the awkward girl who was too socially inept to really do conversation. It was probably true, but she didn’t want people knowing that.

    That and the Queen of Blades just did a burst of something that had her thoughts leaning towards Psionic storms and okay time to move away a bit. Right, time to retreat a bit and she had the excuse of following the once again imprisoned Siege. “Huh, they didn’t even let you begin to talk this time before getting a time-out bubble.” She tossed out because the whole bubble thing was still amusing, and she needed cheering up again.

    “Huh, I knew something about you seemed familiar,” a voice spoke from right behind Thema catching the girl by surprise. Behind her stood the doll like doctor, forgotten in the commotion, staring at her intently, “I’ve seen a few like you before. You’ve wandered quite far little Puella.”

    Back across the room, Euryale tried to puzzle out the reason a girl on the far side of the room was terrified of her. Did...was she at Houston? Had she put the clues together on what had actually happened there? Looking across the room, her brow furrowed as she tried to figure out where the girl was coming from without trying to parse the background murmur of the minds around her.

    She wasn’t anywhere near her but Thema knew that Zerg queen was watching her, she could feel the eyes on her and given how Kerrigan was the most powerful psychic ever before getting Zerg boosted? Weren’t Puella capable of sensing magic too? She should be able to figure out how to block that kind of thing off -

    “What is with people sneaking up from behind?!” And there was...she didn’t know who this one was beyond her looking like a doll. She was going to move that sensing practice up a few notches if only to stop this kind of thing. More importantly though, the doll said a word that no one outside of Ellisburg should know.

    “I imagine it’s the reaction dear,” Said the doll, “The little squeek you let out when scared is quite adorable, like a kitten really.”

    “Oh? Are you saying - wait I am not a kitten!” Argh, she just - ugh, how was she supposed to keep things straight when she was getting teased by a doll?! “And how do you know about Puella? No one bothers to go to Ellisburg anymore.” Well except however the Puella were replenishing their ranks but Ayomide preferred not to think about that.

    “Tsk tsk, loose lips dear,” the doll chided at the mention of Elisburg, “Quite few are so privy as I to secrets, It’s a rather open one, but a conspiracy is still a conspiracy after all. The young miss with her scarf would be quite upset if knowledge spreads beyond those who need to know. As for why I am aware, well I am a Philosopher, one who seeks and deals in truths. It’d reflect rather poorly if I was ignorant of such a poorly concealed masquerade.”

    Well Thema couldn’t deny that no one made much effort to keep it secret beyond not talking about it, mostly because they all had better things to do and no one was going to easily believe that there were a bunch of invisible, dimension warping eldritch abominations eating people’s souls in the town anyway. “She’s a bit too busy to worry about what I’m doing.” Thema’s response was a mix of frustration and some melancholy now that she’d been firmly reminded of why she was out here to begin with. “A Philosopher huh? I do hope you don’t start trading for red gems.”

    ----
    With Prisma

    While Saturn Girl and Prisma were conversing a couple capes made their way through the crowd. One was a girl in a helmet in a white full body costume leading along a rather dirty looking boy in a costume reminiscent of a tiger.

    “Hey,” The girl called out, “Welcome to the team, I’m Flicker and this is El Tigre!”

    Annabel blinked and looked at the newcomers as she stopped chatting with Saturn Girl, whom probably should have been named Miss. Martian if she was being honest with herself, and thought about their names. Flicker was probably a teleporter of some sort and El Tigre...a Brute or Striker? Though their names could have nothing to do with what their powers are, she wasn’t one to talk with the whole “Prisma” thing. Still, she probably shouldn’t really care about that and actually greet some more of her new teammates instead of being awkward...again.

    “Hello,” Annabel said, “I’m glad to be on the team.”

    At least she could actually do some good on said team instead of rotting in jail cell wallowing in guilt after all.

    Flicker politely waved goodbye to Saturn Girl, who had left seeing that the new Ward would do better to continue with her new teammates instead of someone from a rival one. She also bumped her elbow into El Tigre slightly, reminding the boy about what he was supposed to do.

    “Oh right,” his voice was slightly raspy and accented but definitely young, the child cleared his throat and offered forth a cup punch, holding one for himself, “Here’s something to drink.”

    Flicker frowned beneath her helmet at the weak sauce greetings between the two.

    “Well, we’re glad to have you Prisma,” She said, “It’s nice to have another girl on the team.”

    “Not that surprising, it’s always another girl,” The tiger themed boy grumbled, “When am I going to get another guy to hang out with, there’s nothing but girls on this team.”

    “Hey, don’t go saying that in front of the newbie! You’ll run her off,” The girl shoved the boy’s shoulder as a warning before turning to the girl, “Sorry he doesn’t mean that, you know how little boys are.”

    “I’m older than you!” He complained, “I’m not saying I don’t want her here, but I just want a guy on the team I can hang out with.”

    “What about Siege?” Flicker questioned, very clearly annoyed by the boy.

    “What about her?”

    “Augh, see what I have to deal with? It’ll be nice to have another girl around so I don’t have to keep being paired up with him or the other one because we’re about the same age.”

    Annabel accepted the punch cup from the boy and listened to the amusing by play with a smile. They seemed close if they could annoy each other like that. Annabel thought before focusing on something important.

    “So, patrol teams are paired up by age?” Annabel asked and then took a sip from her punch. It tasted a bit flat to her, but she honestly can’t remember the last time she even had punch in the first place.

    Annabel frowned after she took another drink of it, her body started becoming slightly warmer or what felt like it. This only happened one time in her life and that was...oh, my drunken teenagers.

    “Eh, more like they pair us off by which teams look best,” Flicker grumbled as she sipped her own drink, smiling a bit as she felt a bit of a tingle down her spine, “Hmm, good punch. Anyway, they tend to pair us off in certain ways. Me and Tigre because we’re the newest and youngest. Siege and Star Dropper who were here a bit longer but Siege is our age so we sometimes also get teamed up with him. Artemis, Cheshire and the captain are their own little group, though Captain and Cheshire almost always pair up together with Artemis on her own.”

    “I think they’ll pair you up with Star, your both about the same height and build,” El Tigre commented swishing his drink. After a moment he tossed his head back and chugged down the cup in a few big gulps. He sighed in contentment before jerking as a shiver seemed to go up and down his body and he wobbled a bit, “Woah, I think Star might have shaken me harder than I thought.”

    “Actually, I think someone spiked the punch,” Annabel said with a wince. She should have spoken up sooner. “Someone should probably warn people about that...superpowers plus alcohol probably don’t mix well.”

    Annabel looked at the near empty drink in her hands after she said that and wondered if she should just finish it off now...but her getting drunk might lead to her transforming into Mata Hari and karaoke or worse. Annabel sighed and decided to just finish it, she’s been through a lot already and a little alcohol wouldn’t hurt anything.

    “Someone spiked the punch?” El Tigre asked, “Awesome!”

    Flicker however looked down at her cup with a look of betrayal that soon morphed into one of uncertainty. She eyed the excited blushing boy next to her with a frow, flicking her eyes back to her drink. She gulped and licked her lips.

    “I… I suppose you’re right,” she eventually admitted shoulders drooping and reluctantly began to pour her drink out before stopping, “Perhaps, I suppose I’ve already drunk most of it. Finishing it off won’t hurt.”

    Tentatively, and huddling around with shifting eyes she made a very suspicious looking image as she took another sip of her drink.

    She was confident she wouldn’t get drunk from just one cup. She wasn’t a little kid.

    Her opportunity was lost as her had was struck by a chop from an imposing looking cape in roman themed armor and clothes. Her other hand snagged the collar of the boy who’d began making his way back to the punch bowl.

    “It has been taken care of,” Artemis declared with finality, turning to Prisma, answering her previous concern, “I replaced the drinks as soon as I learned what was done. I didn’t realize these two still had drinks from the spiked batch.”

    Artemis turned her gaze to the cup Prisma’s hand before leveling the girl with an intense judging stare. Her gaze held even as she released El Tigre who sulked at learning he’d not be able to drink more as well as the pouting blushing glare from Flicker.

    Annabel’s shoulders slumped under the glare and she looked down at the floor, avoiding the gaze like the child she was supposed to be.

    Not even the first day and I’m already in trouble, She thought, hindsight finishing the drink after I just got done warning them was a bad move.

    “Sorry,” She said sullenly, “it didn’t really affect me and I’d thought it would be okay to finish it...I hate wasting things when they are given to me.”

    Though that wasn’t the only reason or likely the true one, it was the best excuse Annabel could give for that. Even if it’s a weak one.

    The flat stare she got showed quite obviously how little the older cape believed her.

    “In the future I hope you will think more on your decisions,” Artemis finally said relaxing ever so slightly, “Such reckless indulgences will only harm you in the end. All of you.”

    She turned her unamused glare down to the other children who also avoided her eyes.

    “This once, I suppose I can forgive it. I have already dealt with the mangy little thing responsible,” She turned back to Prisma, “With that unpleasant business dealt with let me introduce myself. I am Artemis, the Vice-Captain of the Dallas Wards.”

    Annabel blinked at the culprit being described as a “mangy little thing” and file that away for later. She was honestly glad that she didn’t get in as nearly trouble as she thought she did. But the name Artemis sent a cold shiver down her spin as she didn’t really know how her power decided hero's...what would she do if it decided on Orin? Annabel did not want to be turned into a mascot character or worse...Artemis somehow making her way here because of it.

    Still she was thankful that this Artemis seemed to be the most not Artemis like person ever. With that thought in mind, Annabel decided to sate her curiosity a bit while still being polite, at least she hoped she was being polite.

    “Nice to meet you ma’am,” Annabel said and then tilted her head to the side, “A mangly little thing?”

    “Not every cape you will meet will have a human appearance,” The teen answered, “To be specific I was referring to Grimalkin that’s far more troublesome than what his occasional aid is worth. He lives up to that name of his, both in attitude and appearance.”

    She looked down at the confused faces of the children around her, giving a sigh.

    “Grimalkin is the name given to the cat familiars associated with witches,” She clarified to her teammates, “And the Grimalkin I’m referring to in particular is a is a talking black cat. Perhaps he is some sort of magical beast like he claims or just a deluded cape who suffered a rather extreme physical mutation because of their powers. Whatever the case he is a pest, for your own benefit I would recommend avoiding the little miscreant.”

    ---
    With Euryale

    The little blue skinned girl simply kept talking quickly, seeming happy to engage in both halves of the conversation whenever the much taller one didn’t respond quickly to her questions or contribute.

    “And then he was all ‘Vaya con dios.’ but I was all like ‘Que?" ?’ because of course he thought a bullet would be fast enough after I see him point his gun right at me,” the speedster blathered, “And of course that’s when Mr. Skeleton just poofs behind me and the mariachi band starts playing…”

    Speed Demon continued ranting about her encounter with a spanish mariachi playing skeletal gunslinger which somehow only seemed to make even less sense the more her audience of one tried to pay attention to it. The girl simply went on until a gentle hand was placed on her shoulder and a certain green skinned girl intruded on the scene, trailed from behind by a young girl dressed in blindingly bright orange, green, and pink and a jester dressed child floating behind her wrapped in a strange material that seemed to shift from clear to black depending on the angle one looked from.

    “Saturn!’ The lizard girl shouted cheerfully giving the girl a one armed hug and directing her towards her new friend and rushing her forward, “Eury, Saturn. Saturn, Eury. Oh I can tell you two are going to hit it off!”

    “Eep!” Saturn Girl wasn’t prepared for the manhandling and stumbled into the taller girl. However she very quickly righted herself, floating herself back a respectable distance and then up to near eye level with the giant teen before bowing, “I’m so sorry for that, Speedy was a bit too excited-”

    “I prefer to think of it as having spunk!”

    “Anyway, it’s a pleasure to meet you Euryale,” the cape finished gracefully, “I’m Saturn Girl, from the Fort Worth Team.”

    “Pamplemousse,” Chipped in a the small brunette who was apparently color blind, “I’m from Dallas so you and me’s gonna be teammates. And this idiot behind me is Siege, he’s also on the team but he’s in time out right now.”

    “I don’t mind much,” The child said smirking at Euryale as he floated there, “It’s quite a pleasant view.”

    For her part, Euryale continued to wonder why she was having to meet this many people at once. Had she done something to aggravate Minerva, to be left adrift in a crowd of strange capes? It wasn’t as though she’d been subtle in signalling her discomfort, either. Still, she’d given her assent she’d at least...at least try. So she had. Repeatedly. But every time she thought she’d seized upon a fitting place in which to ask a clarifying question or interject a comment to the rapid-fire reptilian beside her, the girl rattled off another sequence of statements, leaving the her struggling to catch up. When stumbled into, she tamped down hard on her instinctive reactions and simply murmured a quiet, “Sorry.”

    Nodding acknowledgement of the introductions, she quashed an idle thought of simply burrowing her way out of the situation--after all, there was likely just more building beneath the courtyard, and then she’d get in trouble for damaging whatever room she burrowed into...and probably punished by just being sent back out into the group...or worse, into public. She tried to ignore what she assumed to be disingenuous flirtation from Siege, though one eyebrow lifted skeptically despite the attempt.

    “I don’t,” she sighed, still feeling horribly overwhelmed by the constantly shifting conversations and emotions around her. “Sorry. I’m not good with, or fond of, crowds. They...are pretty much always bad in what little experience I have, so I’m on, um, edge. Plus,” she didn’t realize she was starting to babble a bit, it just happened, “at least a couple of the people out here seem more like bullies than I’m comfortable with.” Blowing out a long exhalation she added, “Plus the last time I saw this many capes in one place went really badly. So between nerves about new people and general anxiety of capes and of crowds, well, it...um.” She shrugged lamely. “I’d love to say it’s nice to meet you, but I’m not sure I really have. Not when there’s a crowd. Or that you’ve really met me, at least.”

    The group had different reactions. Pamplemousse looking somewhat lost but still concerned while Siege’s expression was rather unreadable though he was clearly still paying attention.

    “I understand, and I’m sorry to hear that,” Saturn girl looked genuinely apologetic, she shifted uncomfortably clearly wanting to do something but holding back for fear of offending the girl, “Those like us, Case 53s tend to have similar issues. I was lucky, I guess. I-”

    She hesitated for a moment, internally debating what to say.

    “I look a lot more… human than most,” She finally said, “While I get some stares it’s not as bad as some other more unfortunate Case 53s, and I was also fortunate enough to join the Wards quickly. I’m still not fond of crowds myself but they helped me learn to enjoy smaller meetings like this instead of dreading them.”

    Que?” The blue skinned girl questioned confused. She liked attention, especially from crowds who cheered her on in a fight or after she helped stop a robbery. She couldn’t really remember having any real dislike of others and couldn’t quite understand the introvertedness of her two companions.

    Euryale gave a small nod to that. “It...still have to remind myself that no one here probably is going to try and kill me.” She blinked, realizing what she’d said and sighed. “Um. Plus it’s just so loud. Too many minds with too many feelings, hard to tune out and concentrate on anything at all.”

    Saturn nodded in understanding, while she wasn’t an Empath herself she’d experience similar things herself. Her body wasn’t quite as… stable as others. Her form often shifted if she didn’t keep track of it, often in subtle ways. When she’d first started she had a bad habit of accidentally copying features of others, often being overwhelmed by groups and her face and body shifting into horrific caricatures of human beings. Other times she had unconsciously enhanced her senses and was overwhelmed by them.

    “These things get better with time, as you learn to grow accustomed to it,” She’d learned that from experience. It’d taken far too long for her to get her unconcious Shifting under control, even now she could slip and change her eye color or make her nose slightly too long. She remembered an embarrassing incident when she’d accidentally increased her bust size while talking with the Captain about upcoming physicals and causing her bra strap to pop.

    No one believed her when she said it wasn’t on purpose.

    Oddly, the emotions coming off the two who spoke with her were reassuring. Whatever lay behind the embarrassment the green girl felt, it matched what she was saying. Similarly, the excitable lizard girl seemed...well, just that. A bit too energetic, perhaps, but earnest at least.

    “So the Wards have been a...good thing so far?” She still hated the idea that she’d need to go out and use her powers, if she was honest. She didn’t trust them, trust herself, to not hurt someone.

    “I like to think so,” Saturn Girl said softly, both Pamplemousse and Siege nodding in agreement as well. Voicing it as well in Pamplemousses case, “Even if some of those here don’t seem particularly friendly, a rare few!” She assured hurriedly, “I can say they’re all heroes and would do whatever it took to protect their teammates.”

    “Arty can be a nag and buzz kill but she’s just a softy,” Pamplemousse chipped in, “I’m not too sure about Sienna but Captain vouches for her which is enough for me.”

    “She’s just lonely,” Siege added, “She’s like a hedgehog y-”

    He was cut off as some of the blob that trapped him detached from the rest and coiled around his head silencing him.

    “Yall ain’t gonna ruin the moment with anymore of your toilet talk!”

    “My own captain’s a good example as well,” Saturn tried poorly to ignore the two children near her, her smile turning a bit forced as she tried to keep from turning back to them in favor of trying to continue her pep talk, “A lot of people tend to think she’s too intense…”

    “Tha’s one way of putting it,” Pamplemousse mumbled, “More like a massive-”

    The younger cape flinched back with a small squeak as the normally peaceful cape snapped her head towards her with scary expression, clearly unwilling to let someone badmouth her friend. She held up her hands in surrender, only relaxing once green skinned cape accepted the surrender and turned back to Euryale with an apologetic smile.

    “I’m sorry about that, but yes as you can see my captain doesn’t have the best reputation,” She pointedly ignored cleared throat from next to her, “But she cares for her team, she drives us to excel, sometimes harshly but she doesn’t ask any more from us than she is also willing to put in herself. And I know that, no matter what happens nor what anyone else may think the Captain will always be there for me when I need her.”

    Her voice was no longer just earnest, she spoke of her trust with the utmost conviction. The sun would rise, water was wet, and her captain would always be there for her. To Saturn each of these things were equally true.

    Euryale nodded to that, the other cape’s certitude coming across clearly. It didn’t actually help with the feeling of being trapped that had set her spine to crawling, though. No doubt, somewhere in the building, observers noted the agitation on display in her zerg as her zerglings snap irritably at one another and the drones worked in faster agitation. Her wings twitched in little abortive jerks. She was restless, and it showed clearly in every line and motion of her body.

    She opened her mouth once, then again. “I just. I don’t,” she sighed heavily. “I’m just not sure I’m made for being a...a hero. It...it terrifies me.” She closed her eyes and breathed slowly, reaching out telekinetically to drag the table holding the punch bowl over so that she could fish a cup of fruity drink for herself.

    ------
    With Sayuri

    The two foxes conversed in their native tongue, trading small talk and some stories between them.

    There’s not much of a magic community around here, let alone one for Youkai or Ayakashi,” Hakumen explained, “Only my self, Aneue, and her Shikigami are the permanent residents as far as I am aware. There may be more, and I suspect a few of the capes here in Dallas are in fact not parahumans at all, but if so they don’t communicate it.

    I see. I did hope there was a more widespread community. I’ve done a little research online about US groups and all I could find hints of are a group called the Adepts in New York. Any place I should avoid around here you can think of?

    Not in Dallas no, no place particularly worse off than others. At least so much to avoid them,” Hakumen appeared to think deeply on the matter, rubbing his neck as he tried to recall any such locations he could have hear about. After a moment he perked up, “Oh, there is this mansion just outside the city limits to the south. Aneue tells me that the property is off limits, and to never answer any summons there.

    Sayuri immediately thought of the Scarlet Mansion and hoped this one had no relation. “That could be worrisome. I’ll keep that in mind. If you have any requests for myself, please don’t hesitate to ask.

    If you wouldn’t mind I’d like to introduce you to my Aneue sometime in the future,” Hakumen offered. Reaching into the sleeve of his outfit he pulled out a small paper with strange characters scribbled on it, handing it to the Fox girl, “A Shikigami, Aneue’s to be precise. I… am not as skilled as she in the arts of Onmyodo, nor as much as I really should be for my age.

    He blushed and looked away somewhat embarrassed. He was already on his second tail, such things as making Shikigami should have been childs play. Literally.

    Just activate it when you wish to meet her and if she’s not busy she’ll likely not be opposed to speaking with you.

    Sayuri accepted the charm gracefully. “Certainly. Is there a preferred time when she is free? Outside of school hours, of course. I do have appearances to keep up in my public identity.

    The boy blinked, “Aneue’s skill is much better than my own, it would not be difficult for her to simply channel a part of her attention through the Shikigami even in her sleep. Unless she needs to fully concentrate on something she shouldn’t have any trouble answering it.

    Sayuri nodded, putting the paper away. “Very well.

    The boy shifted on his feet as the crowd milled about.

    Senpai, if you do not mind me asking. What is our homeland like now?” He asked, “I have heard of it’s division and rumors that have come from the few that have escaped the new government but hearing the story of one of our kind who has lived it would mean so much.

    The fox girl sighed. “It’s not very pretty. Unless you are a ‘thinker’ or ‘tinker’, the Japanese government will stomp down any capes that don’t submit to them. I find it baffling that they don’t support independent heroes with Endbringers causing problems.

    In the south, youkai have taken over and unless someone powerful can go in and restore order, they will eventually wipe out the human towns simply due to their sheer number from what I’ve heard.

    The north is the most hospitable to those like us, but the ruler there doesn’t like to let people leave.

    I’m sorry I don’t have better news.”

    “Hah… I guess it’s about what I expected,” Hakumen sighed, switching to english and giving the girl a thankful nod, “Well, I don’t want to take up much more of your time Miss Inari and I’d best introduce myself to my new teammate as well.”

    -----
    With Thema

    “That’d be rather hard given I’m not an alchemist,” The doll sighed, “Though, perhaps I could create something similar enough with your gem. I’d need to take the gems of a few others but, theoretically, fusing them together, removing the minds, and then purifying the resulting materia could create a catalyst able to alter reality on some small scale through a more refined form of your kind’s magic.

    “But no, I have neither need nor want for power, I am a simple seeker of knowledge. You needn’t worry, I was simply curious about you, a puppet body is nothing so common as to be overlooked but disappointingly it seems you’re just another Puella. And I have studied your kind quite extensively as is, so there’s nothing you could really offer me on that front.”

    Someone has been talking to you far too much…. Was the thought that went through Thema’s head, the magical lich quite disturbed at how this doll seemed to know exactly what a Puella’s gem actually was - she’d hope that any magical girl would have the sense to not advertise that weakness. “Who are you anyway? I should probably at least get the name of someone who ended up spending so much time around us.” And how she managed that was a question of its own. She hoped that she wasn’t dealing with a Mayuri type, she didn’t need that stress in her life.

    “I must say that it's a first that someone considers a Puella to be just anything. Though that might have to do with why you look like a living doll.” Thema was just happy that this doll was fine with not taking a closer look at her, she did not need the risk of any other Puella catching wind of how exactly her own magic worked. She doubted that the more paranoid ones would be pleased that one of them weaponized grief for emotional warfare.

    Especially if her suspicions were right and the original one knew a bit about a pink haired goddess and a raven haired devil.

    “As I’ve said I’m someone who deals in Truths, uncovering mysteries is my raison d’etre, I’m far from omniscient of course but there’s hardly a pie I haven’t got my fingers in. It’s honestly rather humorous, everyone always assumes theirs is the only grand conspiracy. You and your kind are far from special little one, such romanticism tend to blind people to Truth of the greater world about them.

    “As for my name, I am called many things by many people. For obvious reason most tend to call me Doll, others Doctor for reasons that will become obvious,” She sighed, “I never cared much for those but their culture makes it uncomfortable for them to call me by my name. Perhaps it’s a bit late but; Greetings, I am Dr. Anastasia Serebryakova.”

    “I doubt that any of us would consider the situation ‘romantic’. But yes, the world is filled with oddities and we’re just a bit of it. Doesn’t hurt to leave people with some good news with the whole magical soldier thing.” Especially with what happened to those who lost all hope. I don’t think it’s just culture that makes people uncomfortable with your name though; it’s because saying Dr. Serebryakova is a large mouthful.” Thema did with a bemused look on her face.

    “Well, since you know what I am, I suppose I can do a semi-official introduction; I’m Puella Magi Thema, obligatory magical transformation rejected on the basis that I don’t want people knowing who to look for when I’m not being so...frilly. So are you part of the testing group for Inari? Or more here for information gathering with this very varied group?”

    “You speak as if I cannot do both,” The Doll, Anastasia, teased, “I was called to assist in the testing, probably the first they’d made the offer to, and for good reason. Of course, for a simple healer I would normally say no without a hearty incentive to sweeten the deal.” she rubbed her fingers and thumb together with a smirk, “I’d fully expected them to say no. And they did, but it seems they know me all too well as they’d let slip a couple interesting details about both this meeting and a few of the participants.”

    The doll turned to give a look towards a certain tall and inhuman specamine.

    “Such an interesting thing,” She said wistfully, “Such a shame she was snatched up before I heard of her, but such is fate. At the very least, while a valuable bargaining chip to gain my assistance I am not hurting for coin, even opportunities like this to watch from afar are worth far more than this branch could ever afford. Though I’d like to ask you not to let them know that, it’d hardly do for them to think they can make demands of me without any cost.

    “In the end, I came here with my bodyguard, Ciel,” The Doll gestured behind the magical girl.

    Standing silently behind her, close enough that now that she was paying attention Thema could actually notice her body heat, was a young dark skinned blonde girl, the cape’s costume consisting of a strange outfit that looked vaguely futuristic and space themed, a visor covering her eyes and a weird mechanical ‘horn’ stub in the middle of her forehead.

    Once again Thema ended up jumping from the case of sudden sneaking up on her, one of these days someone was going to do that and get smacked with a ring. “Why does everyone do that?!”

    “Hehe, so adorable~” The doll smirked, “Like a kitten sneezing.”

    “I am going to get one of those body cameras and a visor like your bodyguard just to let me know when people are walking behind me. I don’t know how yet, but I’m going to find a way.” Thema grumbled in a suitably adult manner that had nothing to do with pouting at all.

    After she’d finished enjoying the girl’s discomfort the doll gestured for her companion to introduce herself, seeing that the dark skinned girl would not do so of her own volition.

    “Lal’c En Ciel, I’m the doctor’s companion,” Ciel offered neutrally, her voice husky, “I keep her safe from others and, just as often, others safe from her.”

    “Ciel is a dear friend, I quite literally trust her with my life,” The doctor offered, her voice strangely ambivalent as she spoke such a heartfelt sounding line as if discussing the weather, “A well earned and proven trust, there’s few capes that can take her down in a real fight I’m proud to say.”

    “You do good work doctor,” Ciel nodded causing the doll to preen under the, honestly rather light, praise.

    “That I do, Ciel, but you are the one who makes use of it. Even the greatest of craftsmen are nothing without access to the finest of material to use,” The doll approached her taller companion to lay her hand on the young woman’s cheek and rub her thumb on her cheek, “A finer specimen than you would be quite hard to find.”

    And before Thema’s eyes the pupa of sexual tension that was occurring just in front of her eyes with the doll like doctor and her suddenly bashfull guard blossomed into a beautiful butterfly of homoerotic symbolism as the doctor’s hands and eyes roamed over the girl’s form, tracing the line of her neck and snaking her arm under the girl’s thick coat to travel down her side to rest on her waist as the two locked gazes.

    “Anyway, Ciel often accompanies me to such events where the risk and threat is low to mid level,” The Doll seamlessly detached herself from the young woman who found herself stumbling as she quickly found herself leaning into thin air as her support left her, “I also brought another companion, less for any specific use and more a combination of entertainment and charity. Little Gally is rather sheltered, events like these would do her well.”



    -------
    With Rias


    The group had arrived, quite late in fact, due to a a few horribly timed mishaps. It was honestly rather shocking the series of events that seemed to conspire against the group arriving. From mundane oversleeping to a rather outlandish scene that even after witnessing it the group almost refused to believe was real.

    But as much as they wanted to deny it, there was no arguing with the hoof and horn marks on the torn up vehicle they’d left behind as some strange goth girl had apparently robbed a store and saw fit to flee on the back of a unicorn that eventually overturned the borrowed vehicle that had only seen minutes of travel before meeting a rather spectacular and fiery end.

    In the end, after quite a trial the group had made it to the party Anima had received an invite to, a meeting with the various capes of the city and perhaps a chance to find someone capable of helping the redhead he’d promised to assist. And so Anima, Renard, and Rias walked through the doors, looking a bit haggard and some a little frustrated, to the scene of many people in odd costumes crowding around a particular spot.

    Rias didn't bother to hide her interest as she peered towards the small not of capes, but seemed less interested in what was happening and more intrigued by the costumes themselves. The redhead managed to tear her gaze away after several moments then shook her head muttered, perhaps to herself, "...based on American comics?"

    “Most,” Anima commented as he lead the small group over to the rest, “Some style themselves differently. You’ve got normal Capes, a lot of the hispanic capes usually dress to mimic their culture with face paint or Lucha masks. There’s a large amount of Japanese capes who dress up like Power Rangers or Sailor Moon or weird looking monsters.”

    Left unsaid was his own ‘costume’ which consisted of heavy face paints to match the Pacific Islander style of this shifting full body tattoos.

    Rias nodded, a faint flush on her face. It could be argued that she had no room to comment on the clothing other people wore when she had on a Japanese style school uniform with a remarkably short skirt, tight blouse, and which included what appeared to be a 'corset' of some description.

    "Is it okay if we just... go up to them and ask about things?" She inquired quietly, hesitating, "They are the human authorities and they probably have things to do. I mean, they seem to be busy with something?"

    The boy shrugged his muscled shoulders.

    “This is a meeting since there was a sudden influx of new capes at once, quite a few of which are friendly or joined the Wards so they wanted to have a big meet and greet to have all the allied heroes socialize,” he explained to the redhead with a smile, “It’d be sort of counterproductive if we didn’t go strike up a conversation. Sure they probably don’t know how to resolve your situation but they might and there’s no harm in asking.”

    Renard, as if following his advice split off from the group to approach a certain hooded, cat eared, cape.

    Rias took Renard's action as a cue and put on a pleasant smile of her own behind the scarf before heading over towards the group. The fellow redhead there, one without a mask, seemed like someone who would welcome a newcomer so...

    "Greetings!" Rias exclaimed as she drew close.

    “Salutations!” The girl turned with startling quickness, snapping a hand straight up in the air fast enough that the motion didn’t even register. The girl smiled back, wide eyed and unblinking, “Are you also here for the meeting of the new recruits and mingling of fellow heroes? I do not recognize you and you are not wearing a mask, are you perhaps a party crasher?”

    Rias blinked then raised a hand to her face, gesturing to the scarf she had over the lower portion, "I had thought that this would could? I'm not sure about wearing one or not so I thought I'd compromise for the moment as it's easier to reveal than it would be to try hiding who I was if I'd already shown my face."

    The lack of blinking didn't seem to put the devil off, but she did seem to realise something after giving that explanation.

    "Oh, um, I don't have a 'cape name' yet." She offered, "I did try to help when those people attacked the mall. I teleported some of the civilians out, but after they were settled it seemed that the fight was over."

    “Oh, the unknown Mover from the Turner Mall incident last week?” The cape turned her head curiously keeping her unblinking gaze on the girl. After a moment her smile returned and her head straighten, “That would make you Sigil then, stupendous! Mother was very eager to meet you!”


    -------

    Sayuri


    “There you are!” A call came from the side as a small group circled around the crowd about the new recruits. A familiar mop of grey hair and mouse ears popped up as the hero captain smiled and dragged a bemused looking blond behind her, “Haku, and Inari too, good good. Don’t be a stranger greet your teammate.”

    The last part was said to the short girl that was quickly ushered over towards the whitemasked fox who seemed startled.

    “So I take it you’re the one I was asked to study, the little healer?” A doll like girl stepped out from where she was hidden from sight by Mighty Mouse, “Apologies are in order, I was distracted by a fascinating specimen and wandered off before I could introduce myself properly.”

    Stepping out fully from behind the other cape it was much easier to see the woman. She was short, very much so, possibly being less than 5 feet. Her hair pure white and her skin looking like it was made of some fragile porcelain, painted on the lips and brows. Yet somehow the material moved just like skin, the normally rigid material giving way easily to allow her mouth to move and speak. It was somewhat uncanny, especially with the inhuman proportions to the face which would be so appealing on a doll but were so subtly unnatural on a living thing.

    She bowed.

    “Doctor Anastasia Serebryakova, Tinker and Philosopher,” The doll said, “Some have taken to calling me Doctor or Doll, I do not recall what name it is this organization has given me but I prefer my own name or failing that the other two are acceptable.”

    Sayuri returned the bow politely. “Doctor then, as it is a title worthy of respect at the least. I am Inari, a Thinker and Onmyouji. And yes, I will be the one healing whatever injuries Double Take will be… taking.”
     
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