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

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by The Ero-Sennin, Jan 2, 2021.

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  1. Delta/Soul

    Delta/Soul Know what you're doing yet?

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    It would be best to just ignore that episode entirely.
     
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    The Ero-Sennin

    The Ero-Sennin Professional Shitposter

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    Yeah, rest assured, I'm not going into that weirdness. I don't even really need to, since that episode was made entirely to explain the actress change. They couldn't do what Juukou B-Fighter did when they had to replace their Reddle. ("Oops, had to go overseas, bye. Please unceremoniously replace me with a new character.") It's not like Jo had any pressing character arcs in the show that absolutely could not be dropped. Lolololol.

    Precisely. It is canon to this fic that Dipper indeed murdered Dippy Fresh, and no one faults him for it. Even Mabel admits that Dippy Fresh was a bit too much.

    But I digress, on to the coda.

    = - = 14 = - =


    |Home Free|

    If there was a mystery that Dipper ever wanted to sorely solve, it was the taste in architecture of the sons of Filbrick Pines. Grunkle Ford happily (and cheaply) took an A-Frame shack and turned it into the portal to the end of the world. Grunkle Stan would later turn that hellgate into the Mystery Shack.

    Shermie, being of richer taste and more comfortable financial situation… did little better than them in Dipper’s eyes. The house was a two story Neoplasticism block that eschewed concepts such as symmetry and rationality in lieu of a expressive and progressive look that was like literally nothing on their block–except for maybe the Mexican-styled A-Frame Ranch House down the block with the two medieval towers jarringly stuck out from one side of it.

    I don’t hate it, though. I’ll take squares over triangles any day. He thought as they pulled up to the house.

    Stepping out, Dipper’s legs almost gave out under him. The third busiest day of his life was finally catching up with him. As he walked around the SUV to join Shermie on the sidewalk in front of the house, the rear passenger door opened and out hopped Waddles, Misao, and finally Mabel.

    Misao looked up at Shermie’s house and she gasped in surprise. “Oh, how lovely!” She turned to Shermie. “The Rietveld Schröder House?”

    Dipper remembered now. That’s what it was. Euclidean Architecture isn’t my area of expertise.

    “You’re sharp as a bayonet on D-Day!” Shermie said with a laugh, before he elbowed Dipper in the side lightly and whispered. “As far as gentile girls, you could do a lot worse than this one.”

    “Grandpa, please.” Dipper growled back as his face grew hot.

    Shermie gave his grandson a wink, then unlocked the door to his home. Crossing the threshold, Shermie led them up the stairs immediately to their right, leading them upstairs to a wide open and well-furnished living area with a skylight and broad, picture windows that occupied over half of the walls.

    Misao stepped into the living area in wonder. Looking around at the spacious with a polished hardwood floor, she clasped her hands together and sighed. Opening her arms wide, she spun around to look at it all.

    “It is so lovely! The decor is different, but it is a perfect recreation otherwise!” She said excitedly.

    Shermie raised his head. “I saw the Schröder house way back in the 80s and I was obsessed with it. When I came back to the states for good, I decided to build my own here–with a few more modern amenities.”

    He clapped his hands, and all the lights came on, filling the room with a clean fluorescent glow to the delight of his guests.

    “At any rate, this space is all yours to do with, just don’t burn down the house or blow out the windows. There are three beds as you can see, and if you need privacy, there’s controls for shutters that separate them into their own rooms, but two of the beds are gonna be in the same room. How you wanna divide that up is up to you.”

    Shermie pointed back down the stairs they’d just come up from.

    “The bathroom, kitchen, study and my bedroom are downstairs–it’s gonna be the one with my name on it, don’t go in there ever. You might end up finding me entertaining a lady friend and some things aren’t meant to be seen by young eyes.”

    Dipper’s disgusted expression said everything that needed to be said.

    Mabel screamed internally.

    Misao saluted with a smile. “Jawohl!”

    Shaking off her brush with unfortunate implications, something caught Mabel’s eye and her mouth fell open. Mounted on a wall, underneath a proudly displayed Israeli flag was a massive gun, the biggest gun she had ever seen.

    It was longer than Misao was tall, fed from above by a large box magazine. It looked like the sort of gun people would hunt elephants, dinosaurs, or tanks with. She hurried over to it. “What is this?!”

    “That is a tempermental old friend! We go all the way back to the 50s, I’ve taken to calling it my ‘schwanzstucker! Ain’t it a beaut?’” Shermie answered with a laugh.

    Mabel chuckled back. “Gross! Where’d you get it from?”

    “An old friend back in Tel Aviv found and shipped it to me last year.”

    Mabel ran her hand along the barrel. “So this is what the internet meant about girls and cannons.”

    She was in love.

    “Still works, too. I take her down to the range once a month and drive everyone crazy with it. You’re more than welcome to come with me and try her yourself.”

    Mabel whirled around to face her grandfather, her eyes filled with sparkling diamonds and shooting stars. A continuous high pitched sound of joy came from her mouth, making the dogs in the neighborhood bark.

    Dipper considered that. Having a gun would probably help with our situation–this was Los Angeles after all–but on the other hand? The thought of Mabel with a gun makes me nervous.

    Even now, she was eyeing that cannon like she was a Police Girl or something.

    “Thank you, Sherpa!” Mabel cheered. “Can we do it sometime this week? Can we go tomorrow?!”

    “I don’t see any harm in taking you for a few rounds down at the range.”

    “You mean a few rounds downrange,” Mabel corrected with a cheeky smile and Shermie barked out a laugh.

    Dipper smiled, and lifted his arms to stretch. “Well… if you’re going to do that, maybe going to bed now is a good idea.”

    Mabel put an arm around Misao. “Let me show you where we keep the linens.”

    “Lead the way!” Misao cheered, and the two girls headed downstairs with Waddles behind them.

    Soon as they were out of sight, Dipper turned back to his Grandfather. He breathed in and sighed. “Hey, Grandpa? You mind if we go out to the back patio and talk?”

    Shermie gave him an eager nod. “Sure, boychik. What’s on your mind?” He grinned. “Need some pointers with the German shortcake?”

    Dipper quickly shook his head. “No! It’s about what happened when we went to deal with those punks.”

    His Grandfather sensed something was wrong and sharpened. “What happened?”

    @@@@@

    Almost a half hour later, Dipper and Shermie were seated under the corrugated sheet metal back patio roof in comfortable wooden chairs beside a locked icebox, the grass-covered backyard beyond it lit by a single fluorescent lamp mounted on the corner of the house.

    Dipper had told his Grandfather everything of what happened at Hillhurst, from the attack of its occupants, to dealing with Flabber, to the attack from the other monsters that the wish had brought into the world. When he was done, all the excitement of the afternoon had caught up with him.

    “So yeah… pretty good for a first day in town, huh?”

    Shermie sighed and pulled his grandson over into a hug, giving him a consoling pat on the back when he returned it. “Sounds like the mishegas you put up with up in the Falls,” he said as Dipper pulled back.

    “It might be even worse, Weirdmageddon was this giant chaotic thing and everything got out of control so fast that it was impossible to not see something was wrong. We don’t know where the Magnavores have gone or what they’re up to now.”

    Shermie weighed on the implications of that, and raised his hand to stop Dipper from going further. “I need a drink.”

    He got up and went to the locked ice-box, and pulled out two cans of beer. Coming back over, he sat a can down beside Dipper and popped his own open and took his seat again.

    Dipper looked at the can offered to him in surprise, and back up at Shermie.

    “You stared down into the end of the world and it blinked. You’ve earned your right. Don’t make a habit of it.” Shermie said before taking a sip.

    That was a fair point. Besides, this was the least criminal thing he’d done alongside the three elders of the Pines family. Picking up his can, he popped the top and took a sip. The strong bitterness stung at him, but he found that it wasn’t as terrible as he often feared beer to be.

    He looked at the label and chuckled.

    “The Bigfoot.”

    Of course.

    “I trust you can get those three schlemiels through this alive. But the second you’re in over your head, don’t hesitate to call for your Grandpa, all right?”

    Dipper hummed, as he weighed on and pitched an awkward offer. “Yeah, what if I have to call Grunkle Ford for his help? Are you gonna be fine with him maybe coming down here?”

    Shermie frowned, pursing his lips, and let out a harsh hum through his nose. “I can’t say I won’t smack him right in the puss when I see him, but if you need his help? I won’t say no to that yutz staying here.”

    “And Grunkle Stan, too?” Dipper asked hopefully.

    Shermie let out another, even harsher hum. “… Yes.”

    Dipper smiled after another sip of his beer. “Mabel’s forever in your debt, trust me, and so am I.”

    Shermie chuckled. “You can start working it off by cleaning out the garage. I haven’t seen the floor since the riots–but only when you’re not busy saving the world.”

    Dipper pursed his lips, and suddenly all his fears about the Magnavores had a close second.

    “Thanks, Grandpa.” He took another sip of his beer and gazed out at the darkness beyond the reach of the patio light.

    There was so much to worry about; if he wasn’t on the verge of exhaustion, he’d be pacing himself out in the yard to it. His Grandpa was right–after Gravity Falls? He was ready to tackle any weirdness, anywhere. With Mabel, Star and Marco, and his Grandpa and Grunkles, he was confident they had a chance at getting through this.

    After wishing his Grandfather a good night and finishing his beer, Dipper went upstairs to the second floor of the house. Mabel and Misao were already asleep, huddled close together on one of the three beds on their side of the room with their arms around Waddles, who snored comfortably between them.

    Just as I thought. He smiled at the pig. Ladies man as usual.

    Peeling off his pine-tree adorned shirt and tossing his lumberjack hat on top of his bags, Dipper went into one of them to pull out a blue-bound journal with a silver pine tree plated on the front.

    Lying down on his bed, under the second floor’s gentle white lights, he opened and flipped through the pages. Four years of adventures, strange phenomena, and bizarre circumstances since Gravity Falls… now almost trivial compared to what lay ahead. Reaching the first open page, Dipper took a pen and got to writing.

    September 20, Los Angeles, California: Today started with a bang, and didn’t stop blowing up…

    |Home Safe|

    With a stack of comic books in hand, and enough energy to burn despite the long day she had, Star danced her way up towards the front door of the Diaz residence, Marco right behind her.

    “Remember Star, we can’t tell Mom and Dad about what happened,” Marco reminded Star as she stepped aside to let him unlock the door.

    Star wagged her hand at him. “Oh come on, Marco, you act like I don’t already have problems telling parents things.”

    “Yeah, well, it’s just that you don’t have problems telling my parents anything.”

    “Have you seen your parents? They’re great.” Star pointed out as Marco opened the door.

    “Kids, welcome home!”

    Marco’s mother Angie and his father Rafael were sitting in the living room, a spread of pizza, chicken wings, soda, and plastic cups set on the coffee table between them and the television. The moment they came through the door, Rafael called out to them in his usual cheerful and boisterous manner.

    “Hey Dad,” Marco brightened. “Oh hey, you ordered pizza!”

    Star nudged Marco’s side. “See? Your parents are awesome~”

    Rafael got up to greet the two with a hug, when he noticed the stacks of comics both carried. “And you have brought comics!”

    “We went to Zoom Comics today, and hit it off with the guys over there,” Marco explained.

    “Yeah we hit it off all right,” Star added.

    Marco glanced at her. “One thing led to another-”

    “We basically saved their lives.” Star stopped when Marco gave her a sharp look. “Ohh… right.”

    Marco back at his Father. “And we ended up buying a bunch of books, mostly back issues of-”

    Rafael had already seen the topmost book of Marco’s pile. He lit up in excitement. “Big Bad Beetleborgs!” He embraced his son. “It is my favorite comic series! It is so wonderful that you are interested!”

    Star gasped. “You like comics too?!” She looked at Marco. “Why are your parents so cool, Marco?”

    Rafael laughed. “You know, Star, the author of these books is one of my biggest inspirations as an artist.”

    “Oh?” Star asked.

    “Yes, the legendary Art Fortunes himself! The hardest working, most dedicated, and brilliant comic book artist to walk the Earth since Mr. Jack Kirby,” Rafael said as he sat back down on the couch with the Beetleborgs comic still in hand.

    Marco set his books down and sat next to him. Star did the same, dropping onto Marco’s lap and grabbing a piece of pizza–much to Marco’s surprise.

    “We met him once, just a year after the Beetleborgs became popular,” Rafael said.

    Star gasped. “Shut the front door!”

    Marco had heard this story enough that he could recite it word for word.

    Angie brightened. “Oh yes, that was the summer after I returned from France and we got back together.”

    Rafael continued. “We went to the San Diego Comic Convention–as I always did since I first came to America–and your mother and I took turns waiting six hours in line to get an autograph with him.”

    “You waited that long?” Marco asked.

    “They may as well have called it Beetle Con that year,” Angie said with a gentle laugh.

    “But it was worth it!” Rafael said, before he got up. “In fact, sit right here! I will get something I was going to give to Marco when he finally moved out, but I want you to see it too, Star!”

    He left, and Marco watched his Dad go upstairs. “What is it?”

    Angie clasped her hands together, excited. “Oh! Your father has a picture that Mr. Fortunes drew for him right there on the spot when we finally got to him–a token of appreciation for waiting so long in line.”

    Marco did a double-take. “You’ve been holding onto something like that?”

    Rafael came back downstairs, with a portfolio briefcase in hand. “Here it is!”

    He reached in and pulled out a picture of a humanoid creature swathed in a tattered, swirling black cloak with a white hood. Its head, mostly obscured by the hood, was insectoid with brown and orange chitinous horns that curled around the sides of his head and ended at its chin. It also had four antennae, two springing from its crown and two from its neck–all four ending in curls. The creature was standing atop a windswept cliff, holding a gnarled wooden staff above its head that gave off a brilliant white light that illuminated the picture and its dramatic scene.

    Star leaned closer to the picture, her eyes growing large as she examined the photo. “Wow… that is so cool, and so evil…”

    “He drew that. On the spot?” Marco asked. The sheer quality of the art was astounding, straight out of the greatest Movie Poster art of the 80s! At a convention, for a couple of fans!

    “He is the greatest artist I’ve ever seen. He drew this all in pen in just five minutes!” Rafael said.

    Marco held the picture back, like it had some supernatural power. “In five minutes?”

    Who did this guy sell his soul to in order to get this good?

    “Oh my gosh Marco, look! Look! Look! Look! Look!” Star said quickly as she pointed in the very corner of the picture. There, in white ink, was Art Fortunes’ signature.

    “Art Fortunes ‘91” it read, and at the corner of the stylish signature, was a tiny eye of providence. Star’s finger hovered over it urgently.

    “It’s the tiny triangle guy Dipper told us about!”

    Bill Cipher, Marco thought uneasily. Well, that answers that.

    Rafael looked closely at the picture, and missed the concern entirely of both teens. “Ah yes! Mr. Fortunes’ muse, he puts it in all of his books. Besides on the cover of the back of every comic, there are two more hidden usually between pages six and eighteen of each book.”

    “That’s right, until not too long ago, he ran a contest where people who found them would get a commissioned art piece from him for free,” Angie added.

    “But eventually people on the internet were getting together to find them all and troll him with disturbing subjects to commission, like inflation and vore-”

    “What and what?” Star asked.

    Angie diverted that question away from the subject at hand. “Oh that’s not important, and let’s never speak of it again.”

    Star nodded and decided she’d look it up on the web later. “Gotcha.”

    Angie hummed and looked at Rafael for confirmation. “That was around the time he stopped interacting with fans at all, right?”

    Rafael looked a bit sad. “Yes, he’s locked himself away since.”

    He brightened. “But on the bright side, since then his comics have only gotten better! You picked a good time to get start, Marco! The Split-Up Saga stories are some of his best work! So much emotion, tension, and passion!”

    As he swooned, Angie eagerly chimed in. “And so many pretty girls!”

    “Yes, the prettiest!”

    All of that sounded great, but Marco had more important things to worry about than comic book escapism–like literal comic book escapism. On that note, he held up the picture. “Hey, is it okay if I show this to my friends?”

    Rafael patted his son on the shoulder. “Of course you can, it’s yours now!”

    This is perfect. “Thanks, Dad!”

    “Just don’t put it up on Ebay too soon, okay?” Angie asked with a tiny laugh.

    Star looked at the picture, then at Marco. “Oh, don’t worry Mrs. D! We’re going to hold on tight to this one.”

    “Oh yeah,” Marco said, before looking at the picture again. Such a powerful energy in the art.

    Who is Art Fortunes?

    After dinner was finished and his parents talked his ear off about the Beetleborgs and enough trivia to make Drew, Jo, and Roland’s heads spin, Marco retired upstairs to his room, where he was seated on his bed, sending a text message. Since it was a Saturday night, there was no reason for him to be asleep anytime soon, so both he and Star were looking through the comics they bought–with Star sprawled out at the foot of his bed reading the new books while he tackled the reissues of earlier books.

    Marco Said:
    Is ne1 still up?

    Mabel Said:
    Hey Marco, this is Dipper on Mabel’s phone.

    Roland Said:
    Yo. Wutup?

    Marco Said:
    Mom n Dad got me sumthin huge. A signed picture Art Fortunes drew for them in 1991.

    Roland Said:
    WHAT?!?!?! HOW?!?!

    Marco Said:
    They saw him @ Comic Con.

    Roland Said:
    THATS AWESOME!1

    Marco Said:
    Yes but look at this.

    Marco Uploaded a Picture
    20140920_02207.jpg File Size 20.1MB

    Marco Said:
    Look @ bttm right corner.

    Mabel Said:
    Bill’s symbol. He even signed his pictures with it?

    Roland Said:
    He stopped in the mid 90s, but yeah.

    Roland Said:
    Becuz of the Satan Panic.

    Roland Said:
    Becuz parents were complaining that the eye was a Satan symbol.

    Mabel Said:
    They’d wish it were Satanic.

    Roland Said:
    Art stopped and hid the symbol in his books 2 mock them.

    Roland Said:
    Then made a contest for ppl to find them.

    Marco Said:
    Dad told me abt it. Art ended the contest becuz trolls gonna troll.

    Roland Said:
    Last contest was in 2010. U can still find the symbols in books after that tho.

    “I found one!” Star called out, holding up an issue from three months back. “Page seven, bottom panel, there’s a Bill in the bottom left corner of the ‘Shattered Gate of Drakkon.’” She giggled. “He’s got a little cane and top hat.”

    Marco had seen more than enough references to Bill himself in his comics so far, too. He found another message from Roland.

    Roland Said:
    Art sounds as bad as ur Uncle.

    Mabel Said:
    That’s what I’m afraid of. Bill tricked my Grunkle Ford into building an Interdimensional Portal Machine so he could enter our dimension, and it might be the same thing here. What I don’t get is that if it was easy as putting his mark on stuff and passing through the comic into the real world, he’d have just done that, or just any of his other symbols anywhere else around the world to come through.

    Roland Said:
    Yeah.

    Roland Said:
    That doesn’t make sense.

    Mabel Said:
    Nothing about Bill makes sense, he does things for no reason, like giving deer teeth to a kid as a gift.

    Marco Said:
    wtf?

    Roland Said:
    Thats messed up.

    Mabel Said:
    But he doesn’t interact with people for no reason. He wanted something from Art Fortunes and made some kind of deal with him, and this is the result. The best way to find out what is to talk to the man himself.

    Marco Said:
    Yeah cool, lets casually go up 2 the biggest name in comics and ask him abt demon triangles he made deals with. /s

    Mabel Said:
    I never said it’d be easy! Just that it’s what we have to do.

    Marco Said:
    I was being sarcastic.

    Mabel Said:
    I can’t tell that through text.

    Marco Said:
    Thats what the /s is for.

    Roland Said:
    That’s what the /s means.

    Mabel Said:
    Look, I don’t text or do online stuff, okay?

    Jo Said:
    Hey Mabel! Is Dipper still awake? =O

    Mabel Said:
    This is Dipper, Mabel’s asleep.

    Jo Said:
    How u doin’? ;)

    Mabel Said:
    Marco had some news, but I’m really tired and going to bed, night.

    Jo Said:
    K night! :)

    Roland Said:
    Yeah. Im goin 2 bed.

    Roland Said:
    Nite.

    Marco cringed away from the phone and set it down. Star noticed his reaction and turned onto her side to face him.

    “What is it?” She asked.

    “Nothing, just… embarrassed for somebody else,” Marco replied.

    Star looked down at her comic again. “You get that a lot.”

    The current issue she was reading featured Jara, who was locked in a mortal struggle with Warrior Princess Reddle, the Red Strikerborg. It was a glorious splash page right at the start of the book, a fight in media res between the two women warriors in a burning castle, oranges and yellows engulfing the interior of a medieval throne room as the Red Strikerborg used the prongs of the Striker Plasmar to hold back Jara’s blade.

    Only reading three or so books so far, and it was pretty obvious that Jara hated all of the Beetleborgs for meddling in their plans, but that just reminded Star that the Jara they fought today was absolutely confused by them.

    Heck, she seemed angrier at me than anyone else. That was weird.

    Star’s thoughts on that drained right out of her mouth in the form of drool when she turned the page to the actual start of the comic. Right there on the first page was the holder of the Green Strikerborg, G-Stag, in all of his dreadlocked, shirtless, and six-packed glory. On this page, he was also waist deep in a moonlit pond and glistening.

    “I love comic books,” Star purred as she leaned closer towards the page.

    Marco looked down at her, and raised an eyebrow.

    |Home Alone|

    Drew and Jo’s bike ride took them five blocks in the opposite direction from Zoom Comics that the Pines left in, reaching a more recent neighborhood just a five minute walk from their High School. Unlike the vibrant and unique buildings down Shermie Pines’ street, the cul de sac they rode into was full of new, clean, but mostly identical prefabricated suburban homes with only their numbers and personal decorations really setting them apart.

    Rolling up the driveway to the two car garage attached to their house, Drew swung himself off the bike and walked it to the garage to open it. Jo came up the driveway behind up, hopping off her still-rolling bike and jogging with it to a stop next to him.

    “Man, how long has today been? Three? Four weeks?” She asked as Drew entered the code for the garage door.

    Drew made a short laugh and stepped back as the garage door opened. “Don’t even get me started on that.”

    Today felt like the longest day of Drew’s life, and among his many thoughts was the realization that there would be even longer days to come. As long as there were Magnavores in their world and the Beetleborgs had to fight them, at least.

    On the other hand? Heather likes hanging out with me and wants to do it more! Sure, it’s no Homecoming Dance, but the sky’s the limit!

    “Mom and Dad aren’t back,” Jo said as she looked at the garage occupied by only one car–a red SUV.

    Tonight got even better. “Cool, then I can go straight to bed.”

    The garage door opened into the dark living room of the McCormick household, and as they stepped inside and out of their shoes, they looked across the handsomely furnished living room into the dining room, and found their father waiting.

    Mr. McCormick looked over at his kids, then out the window. He is a plain, bespectacled man with a full head of obviously graying hair, who considered his beige short-sleeve shirt and brown jean shorts dressing casual.

    Drew’s good mood in the face of all the terrible things he’d wrought faded into disappointment, seeing him there. “Dad…? I thought you were out with Mom.”

    “Hey Dad,” Jo greeted in a neutral tone, turning for the fridge to grab something to drink.

    “I never left; one of your Mom’s friends needed some help with boxing up old things of hers to donate to charity, so we’re catching the concert tomorrow,” their father explained.

    Grabbing a can of soda out, Jo popped the top. “Wow, that sucks. Who needed help?”

    “Mrs. Carlton down the street. It’s mostly a bunch of stuff she had from when she was younger. She said you could have some of it, but it’s pretty girly stuff.”

    Jo shook her head. “I’ll pass on that one.”

    She took a sip, as Mr. McCormick glanced back and forth between his kids.

    “So what did you do all day?”

    “We were hanging out with Roland,” Jo replied.

    The corners of Mr. McCormick’s lips turned downward. “At Nano’s store again?”

    “We didn’t spend all day there,” Drew defended.

    His father gave him a piercing look. “Really? You did something other than read comic books all day?”

    “Yeah, Mr. Pines’ grandkids came to town, so we showed them around the neighborhood,” Drew explained.

    When his gaze darted to Jo and she nodded in confirmation, Mr. McCormick nodded slowly. “Well, I’m glad to see that you made something of your weekend, for once.”

    Drew rolled his eyes, and headed across the dining room, towards the stairs that lead up to the second floor. “I’m going to bed, I’m tired from all that running around.”

    “A little more exercise won’t hurt, Drew. You can’t rely on that metabolism of yours forever.”

    Drew was already halfway up the stairs. “I know, Dad, don’t worry.”

    Mr. McCormick turned to his daughter as she drained the can. “Did he really?”

    “Ugh Dad, he really did. We had a lot of fun, and we’re all going to be hanging out even more because they’re going to school here for this year.”

    “See what pulling his nose out of those books will do for him? He’s wasting the best years of his life otherwise,” Mr. McCormick said in a vindicated tone.

    “Hey, I like comics too,” Jo pointed out.

    “Yes, but you make time for more important things.”

    At the top of the stairs, Drew sighed before continuing on to his room. Closing the door behind him and not even bothering with the light, he stepped across a slightly cluttered bedroom floor and dropped face-first onto his bed with a soft thud.

    He laid there for as long as he could, before he rolled onto his back and looked up at the ceiling.

    “You don’t give kids superpowers! That’s the opposite of good!”

    “That’s bad! Anytime you make a wish like that, it goes wrong!”

    “This is why you don’t wish to be superheroes, because then you have to be superheroes!”

    A long, agitated sigh left his lips. What would Dad say if he knew about today?

    He heard his door open with a soft creak and looked towards it in time to see Jo slip in and lean against the wall right next to the door. Shutting it, she looked at her brother. Despite the dark he can make out her sympathetic expression.

    “Hey, don’t let it get to you. Dad’s being a butt because he couldn’t go see The Eagles,” she assured him.

    Drew let out a sharp, dismissive snort. “Man, he must want to see them all the time.”

    Jo folded her arms. “Are you seriously going to just lie there and be a giant baby about it?”

    Drew sat up. “A giant baby? Jo, has it sunk in how messed up this is?”

    “I was talking about Dad trashing you, but go off.”

    Drew flinched. “We all know what we’re up against, and what we have to do. Doesn’t it bother you?”

    Jo shrugged her shoulders. “Why would I be bothered? I get to be a Beetleborg and save the world. It’s great?”

    “Yeah but what if it’s too much for us? What if the Magnavores roll over us like last time, every time?”

    “They won’t. We drove them off, and even if we can’t beat them in a straight fight now? We’ll catch up to them eventually.” She gave him a probing look. “What’s your problem, dude? You’re acting like this is something we can’t do.”

    Drew sighed, his concerns weren’t reaching her. “And you’re acting like this is going to be fun.”

    Jo’s expression hardened. “What, am I not allowed to?”

    Drew looked at Jo as if she’d just asked if it was okay for her to stab Heather in the throat. “… No! Jo, people are going to get hurt as long as the Magnavores are out there, they might even die!”

    “Uh… don’t think about that, then?” Jo shook her head. “The whole point of being superheroes is saving people, numbskull, and I’m going to be giving 200 percent towards making sure something bad doesn’t happen.”

    Drew seethed. “Just don’t think about it? That’s it? It’s not going to cross your mind at all even for a second that every person that will get hurt is going to be our fault?”

    Jo’s eyes flew wide, and even in the dark Drew could see the red coloring her face as they narrowed and the temperature in her gaze dropped to well below freezing. “Oh okay, idiot, and where was this profound clarity when you suggested that we become superheroes? Because I remember you were the one telling Dipper ‘We can handle it’ with us right up until the Magnavores showed up.”

    Drew opened his mouth to speak, but she cut him off marching up to him. “And you were the one who said ‘Then we’ll be superheroes’ and walked right into that butt-kicking we got from Jara.”

    Reaching him, she pointed at herself. “I wanted to rule the world, Roland wanted to be the rich-”

    She jabbed him hard in the chest with an accusing finger. “But you’re the one who convinced us to be superheroes–so this is your fault.”

    Drew’s eyes widened, and his body went slack where he sat.

    Jo pulled back. “You have some nerve trying to drag me down with you into your pity party because you screwed up, again. So you know what? I’m going to save you the trouble and learn to fight, kick the Magnavores’ butts, and clean up your mess. Like I always do.”

    She turned around and marched to his door, growling a parting shot over her shoulder. “I can’t believe how not surprised I am.”

    Jo left the room, slamming the door behind her. Drew was left in the dark, stunned with a hollow anger, he let it build to a crescendo and opened his mouth to shout through the door at her. He stopped himself, choking his yell into just a loud, short gasp… then lowered his head.

    She’s right. He thought. This is my fault, and I dragged everyone into it, because all I do is screw up.

    He flopped back onto his bed and curled up on his side. Even if we can save ninety-nine people out of a hundred, that one person we can’t is going to get hurt because of me.

    He looked over at a Beetleborgs poster on his wall. Blue Beet, Reddle, G-Stag were all there out of their armor, holding their Beetle Bonders and smiling. Drew focused on Blue Beet’s brave, charismatic smile and let out a quiet, bitter laugh. Because I wanted to be someone else. Someone better.

    Remembering Dipper punching Van, then Marco fighting Jara when he couldn’t, twisted the proverbial knife. When there are already people who don’t need wishes.

    He let out a deep, long sigh and rolled onto his back. I wish I could take it back.

    The ceiling he looked up at offered no way to grant his wish. His eyes rolled to his right, and his bedside table. The dim red face of his digital clock stared back at him for a long, silent time, before his eyes widened.

    … Wait, that’s it.


    = - = 14 = - =
    The battle is over and the day is saved.​
     
  3. Delta/Soul

    Delta/Soul Know what you're doing yet?

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    Will there be cameos of different Disney shows and characters that pop-up in this story here-and-there?
    And will there be more Metal heroes that will be adapted in this story?
     
  4. The Ero-Sennin

    The Ero-Sennin Professional Shitposter

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    Yes, and yes. I do intend for there to be other Disney shows to have at least a cameo or two. And I definitely have plans for other Metal Heroes to appear.
     
  5. Threadmarks: Foot in the Grave
    The Ero-Sennin

    The Ero-Sennin Professional Shitposter

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    Let's move on to the next!

    = - = 15 = - =

    |Foot in the Grave|

    After being chased off from Hillhurst, Jara, Noxic, and Typhus retreated into the Mountains north of Los Angeles where they spent the rest of the weekend–Jara healing her wounds while Typhus puked up the distillery he’d drank before they arrived into this world. By the time they were fully recovered, it was Monday morning, and the three of them were hanging out among the bleached and barren remnants of a recently burned patch of Angeles Forest.

    “Hey big guy, how’re ya hanging in there?” Noxic asked Typhus.

    His long time buddy stalked around, flexing and rotating his arms. Stopping close to one of the dead trees, he clenched his monstrous red right hand into a fist. With a single swing, he shattered over ten feet of the trunk into splinters.

    “I feel great, baby!” Typhus replied, the rest of the tree crashing to the ground behind him.

    “Yeah, thatta boy! Now that you’re back in the game, we can head back over to that dump and smash those jerks up good!”

    “Yeah, but you’d better pull your weight his time. I wanna see some clappin’ and zappin’!”

    Noxic laughed and wagged a finger to Typhus. “Oh you don’t worry about me! Nothing gets me more fired up than smacking down an unruly robot!”

    Typhus, clenched both his fists and held them aloft. “Yeah! we’re gonna deactivate ‘em, and shut down their human friends!”

    Jara tapped the back of her head against the tree, and let out a seething growl.

    Noxic noticed their normally screechy pal brooding. “Hey Jara, you’ve been quiet for a minute, what’s buggin’ ya?”

    She turned her head with a huff. “I am still sore over that girl with her infuriating magic.”

    Typhus strutted over. “Yeah, what’s up with that? Once she started casting magic on you, you flipped out.”

    Noxic agreed. “You lost your cool completely!”

    Jara tightened her crossed arms. “That magic, it reminded me of stuff I faced a long time ago, before I met you two.”

    Noxic lit up in the literal sense, his eyes and the green and blue tips of his metal dreadlocks glowing with his excitement. “Oh man, are you gonna tell one of your war stories?!”

    Typhus pumped his fist. “Aw yeah, those are the best, baby!”

    Jara whirled on them with dramatic flourish. “Absolutely not! I am not some old woman curled by a fire, telling stories to entertain you while she waits for death!”

    She looked away. “All that you must know, is that when I faced that magic, I was defeated completely and utterly. To think that such nonsensical, stupid craft was in this world, too…” She trailed off into grumbling, hitching her shoulders.

    Noxic wasn’t going to hear any of his two best friends bum out. “Then you’re not gonna lose this time! Come on, Jara! You’re the coolest one out of all of us! Like heck are you gonna let one magical girl get your panties all bunched up.”

    Jara’s expressionless white mask looked like it was pouting as she tilted her head away from her friends a bit more.

    “Yeah, round two’s gonna be a whole different fight! You, me, and Nox? We’re gonna beat those punks down so bad they’ll have to make it a pay-per-view event, baby!”

    “So stop sulkin’ and get pumped up! The baddest Merc in the Nightmare Realm is gonna get hers, and she’s gonna be the coolest doin’ it!”

    Jara turned her head and looked at them. “Thank you for reminding me why I put up with you knuckleheads.”

    Uncrossing her arms, she placed one hand on her hip. “You’re right. I’m not going to resolve anything by sulking like bullied brat. Let’s go and settle the score right now!”

    Noxic jumped, thrusting a fist in the air and clicking his heels together. “All right!”

    Typhus flexed one of his arms. “Yeah, let’s get it on!”

    Their celebration was cut short by an abrupt teleportation, all three landing in a heap near the center of a dark, stone-walled chamber laid out in the shape of a cross.

    “I’ll murder the bum who just did that!” Noxic shot to his feet. “I ain’t being dragged around twice without my permission, capisce?!”

    He looked around as Jara and Typhus got up. It was a candle-lit mausoleum, with walls lined with coffins three rows high and no room for any more. The room’s disuse was evident in the dust and cobwebs that hung over almost everything, and the stale, musty air with the scent of slowly rotting wood and molding stone.

    “What’s with this creepy joint?” Noxic asked.

    “Huh, ain’t this a spot.” Typhus chuckled and examined some of the coffins. Each had the name Doe and a different number. “I kinda like it.”

    Jara looked ahead. “Vexor, is this the best you could do?”

    Both Typhus and Noxic groaned in annoyance, and looked to the center of the cross-shaped crypt, where Vexor was sitting atop a massive stone sarcophagus at the center, with another Beetleborg comic held in his hand.

    “I picked it for practical reasons. It’s cool, it’s dark, and more importantly it’s sealed up. This crypt is quite full, there’s no reason for anyone to come near it, let alone enter it.”

    He slipped off the sarcophagus onto his feet without making a sound. “Now then, I demand you tell me what happened after I dispatched you and why it has taken me so long to reach you… and your reasoning had better be sound.”

    Noxic stomped up to Vexor, seething with every step as he reached him. “Now hold the heck on there! We did exactly what you told us, you pearly pontificator! Except when we got there, we got attacked by these… those…! Wait a minute!”

    “Attacked by what?” Vexor asked.

    Noxic pointed at the comic Vexor held. “That’s them right there! The guys who attacked us!”

    Typhus and Jara joined his side, looking at the cover of Vexor’s comic. Their leader too looked at the front of the book, and hummed. “I beg your pardon? You were attacked by… comic book characters?”

    Noxic nodded fast. “Yeah, it’s like they came straight out of that book!”

    “Except that they fought like flailing children.” They could hear Jara scowl.

    Vexor opened the book, curious, and began to read it as he swept away from his three underlings–pacing around the sarcophagus. “That’s because they likely are costumed children.”

    His three underlings recoiled.

    “Wait, you mean they’re not robots?” Noxic asked.

    “According to the book they are humans wearing magical armor. Fascinating, and enlightening as well. Our fictional foes in this comic book exist in this world, and they attacked you right at the source of the power I felt.”

    “Huh, hear that? You don’t have to feel bad about shuttin’ ‘em down, baby,” Typhus said.

    Noxic clenched a fist. “That’s great! I also don’t have to worry about rebuildin’ ‘em from scrap!”

    Jara hummed. They were humans, too?

    Vexor faced his minions. “This warrants further investigation. Go back there, and see if you can find out more about these Beetleborgs. If you can bring one back to me? Even better.”

    Noxic nodded. “Yeah, sure thing! We were gonna trash those guys anyway, but you called us up.”

    Jara looked over at Noxic. “Tell him about when you tried to summon your Scabs!”

    Noxic clapped his hands. “Oh yeah, get this! When I tried to summon my Scabs? They came straight out of one of those Beetleborg comic books, I didn’t need to convert anything to material to make ‘em!”

    Vexor perked up. “They came from the comic book? All you had to do was summon them as you normally do?”

    “Well, I was gonna do my usual thing, but before I could find any machinery to convert? Bam! There they were, it was like I was born knowing how to do it! Watch!”

    Noxic pointed his hands at the comic. “All right Scabs, get out here!”

    Sure enough, a flash went off between the closed comic book’s pages, and four flames shot out to land around Vexor–transforming into shuddering, twitching Scabs ready to do battle.

    Vexor looked from the book to the Scabs, then back and forth several times. “… Astounding, the potential this holds, the things we can do with this power…”

    Waving the comic around, Vexor turned and let out a laugh. “Ho ho ho ho… your tardiness is forgiven. This is just as important, and as interesting. Make full use of this ability of yours, tell me what you learn when you use it against those Beetleborgs.”

    Noxic, relieved. “Yeah, sure thing, boss!”

    Typhus raised his hand. “Hey, that ain’t all, Vex! There was somethin’ else. A magical girl was there, too.”

    Noxic looked back and forth between Typhus and Vexor, jumping in quick on the conversation. “Yeah, she gave Jara more trouble than those Beetlebums did by a lot!”

    Jara did her level best not to grind her teeth. “An annoying pixie of a girl with marks on her cheeks, casting chaos magic through a wand that hurt like crazy!”

    “Marks on her…” Vexor recognized Jara’s description. Astounding had been surpassed. What a world! “A Butterfly!”

    Jara did a double take. “You know about it?”

    Vexor hummed again. “When you go there, and if you run into that magical girl, bring her here, as well.”

    Jara stepped up to him. “Hold on one disgusting moment! What do you know about that girl, what is a Butterfly?!”

    Vexor answered the question as if it was about the weather. “A potent magical user, one that may be very useful to us. Bring her to me along with a Beetleborg, and I’ll determine just how useful they are.”

    It was an unhelpful answer, but it wasn’t precluding Jara from doing as she was instructed.

    “Do you want them dead or alive?”

    “Alive, but I have no problem with them being damaged.”

    Jara shook with excitement, and turned to Noxic and Typhus. “Back to that ratty old house, then!”

    The three Magnavores crossed their arms, nodded, and vanished in bursts of flame–taking the four Scabs with them. Looking at the scorch marks on the floor they left behind, Vexor turned and walked to the sarcophagus. He rested a hand on it, and scratched lightly across the glazed stone surface.

    “Such a fascinating world, and I haven’t even scratched the surface of it!” He set the Beetleborgs comic face down atop the sarcophagus, and looked at the Eye of Providence on the barcode.

    “What ruinous powers were just outside of your grasp? What shall I do with them when I claim them?” His clawed fingers cut into the polished stone, sparks flying as he dragged them across the surface with no effort.

    “Ho ho ho ho, why bother asking you?”

    Vexor walked down the length of the sarcophagus, cutting lines deep into it, and continued doing so as he circled around its end. “You were a fool that squandered your thrust out of the Nightmare Realm on puerile mayhem, and wound up defeated by ants.”

    Vexor laughed again.

    “You underestimated their sting!”

    He leaned back, laughing louder.

    “What a waste of such Grand Design!”

    He completed his circling of the comic, and rested his opened palm on it. Burns appeared on the comic’s cover, as his eyes shone in a yellow light.

    “What foundation you’ve laid down in this world will serve me well, Bill Cipher.”

    The entire comic lit up, yellow flames licking up around Vexor’s hand as the light from his eyes and the cover both grew to encompass the entire crypt. As the light consumed him, Vexor’s laughter turned into mechanical screeching.

    “EMOCY LUIRV JOEFW UUITB PUJTD CNPTQ IOPLP OSAJD NCFBQ XRCEB TNDFX.”

    = - = 15 = - =

    Remember, if you wanna decipher any codes. Go here https://cryptii.com/pipes/enigma-decoder
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2021
  6. Hunter 1

    Hunter 1 Getting sticky.

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    ...Oh, that's not ominous at all... /s
     
  7. EvaUnit01

    EvaUnit01 The man who stands at the top of AAWWEESSOOOMEEE

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    I gotta say again, I like how you run Vexor's style as a character and as a villain.
     
  8. Delta/Soul

    Delta/Soul Know what you're doing yet?

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    Does anyone know what the translations for the cyphers are? It would be greatly appreciated.
     
  9. Threadmarks: As Cruel As School Children
    The Ero-Sennin

    The Ero-Sennin Professional Shitposter

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    I decided I was going to combine Vexor's wispy flowy (but ultimately non-existant) menace with Gaohm's actually holy fuck terrifying for Legends. So far from what I've written has worked out quite well.
    There is a link to the very same cryptography machine I used to make the code a few posts up.

    Here's the link again: https://cryptii.com/pipes/enigma-decoder

    I'd rather not solve it for you, but if someone else could, feel free to.

    But anyway...

    = - = 16 = - =

    |As Cruel As School Children|

    To say Trip Vanderhoff was in a foul mood was to say that the wind blew, the rain fell, and the strong preyed upon the weak. The Monday morning after their long weekend and he was still seething over everything that had gone wrong. Sitting across from him in their family’s Rolls Royce Phantom, Van watched his brother. He too had a lot to process, but his priorities diverged.

    “Stupid…” Trip seethed, Van perking up. When Trip didn’t follow up with anything, Van looked down at the floor of the car, then out the window.

    Trip’s eyebrows furrowed, and his lips curled back, before he slammed his fist against the inside of the Phantom’s suicide door. “What am I going to do?”

    Van jumped when Trip pounded the door. “I know, right? Saturday was…”

    His brother struck the door again, then threw his head back against the leather headrest of the Saloon Car. “Horrible? Yes, moron, I was there!” Leaning on the door’s armrest, he held three fingers near his temple and watched the neighborhood pass by his window. “I wish it hadn’t happened…”

    “You’re preaching to the choir, bro.” Van shuddered, the memory of those red eyes and tooth-filled maw fresh in his head like they’d just run out of Hillhurst. “I’m having nightmares about it.”

    Trip looked at his brother. “Nightmares? Ugh, wait until Dad finds out we wasted two million dollars on a stupid comic book, and gave it away for free.”

    Van did a double-take. “Uh, Trip? What about the monster in the house? You know… the one that literally almost killed us?”

    “Who cares about that? I lost my comic and Andrew and his dumb friends are probably sitting around laughing about how they got it from me.”

    Van shook his head. “Uh, I’m pretty sure they got eaten by the monster. Hopefully Pine Tree, too.”

    Trip looked at his brother. “Wait… when was Pine Tree there?”

    How could his brother not have seen them? “Uh… we ran right by him and I guess his sister or something when we were running away from the monster?”

    “Pine Tree. Was there?!” Trip snarled. “Why was he there?!”

    “I don’t know, I guess McCormick brought him for backup?!”

    Trip slammed against the headrest again and screamed. In the front of the Phantom, Dudley was surprised his young master’s shriek could get through the sound-proofing like that.

    “Just freaking perfect!” Trip yelled after his scream. “I bet Andrew rubbed enough brain cells together for once to expect I had a plan! I got played!”

    Van was unsure. “Hey, that monster was right behind us, and we left them behind. They’re probably all dead in that house.”

    Trip shook his head. “Hey, idiot, I expected Nano to call and scream our heads off for beating up Andrew. How do you think she’d react if her grandson didn’t come home that night?”

    Van looked towards the other passenger door of the Phantom, and imagined a furious Nano ripping it open and demanding what they did. “… Oh.”

    “Who knows, that ‘monster’ was probably a friend of theirs who was in on it.” That made sense in Trip’s head, better than the idea of an actual monster trying to kill them. “Actually, yeah, that’s what it was.”

    “That looked way too real,” Van argued.

    “How does a monster ‘look real’, Van? They’re not.” Slouching in his seat, Trip let out a low, seething growl. “Let’s forget about the stupid ‘monster’, okay? I want my revenge.”

    Seeing no reasoning with his brother, Van acquiesced. “Okay, fine. What are we going to do?”

    “I don’t know, I’m sure I’ll think of something during class.” He looked out the window, their school was coming up. “And when I do, we’ll make sure Drew remembers his place–under my foot with the rest of these losers.”

    Echo Creek Academy, the neighborhood’s public school, home of the Awesome Opossums, and a curious place to find such wealthy children as the Vanderhoffs. However, it suited both boys just fine: they were richer and better connected than almost every other student at the school and could do whatever they wanted with no fear of consequences.

    It just made sense. After all, why go to a rich private school and be just another beautiful face in the beautiful crowd, when one can remind the normies every day how sad and pathetic their lives were?

    In fact, nothing cheered Trip up more than that. Seeing the buses pass by, he smiled a little. “Look at them all, the unlucky plebs.”

    He gestured to the buses. “At the end of the day, we’re better than all of these people.” He huffed. “At the start of it, and the middle, too.”

    Van sighed, watching his brother’s mood improve. “Day and night, bro. The Vanderhoffs are the top of the world.”

    “Our world,” Trip could feel his frustrations fall behind as the Phantom pulled into the parking spot. This was good, plotting revenge in a bad mood would only cause more brooding. “Let’s go remind everyone that they’re just living in it.”

    Van nodded in agreement as Dudley opened the door. Trip slipped out onto the sidewalk and walked away with a toss of his curly blonde hair to hold his head high. All around him, his classmates turned and looked–struck by the suddenness of his emergence and the swagger he strode with.

    “Good Morning, Echo Creek Academy!” Van joined his side as he greeted their classmates. “The Vanderhoff Boys are here! Compare your lives to ours and wolf down your antidepressants!”

    Something was off. The other kids waiting outside for the bell to ring were all looking at them with shifty, mocking leers. Some were leaning close to their friends and murmuring over the laughter, some were pointing straight at them… but none of them were the slightest impressed or upset at his opening insult.

    Trip and Van looked around, put off by the crowd’s different energy. “What…? Huh…?”

    “Órale!” A student further back among the crowd shouted. “It’s MC Peepants and his boy, DJ Depends!”

    Whoever that comedian was broke the dam, and the laughter burst out in an overwhelming deluge from just about every student. The good mood Trip had been fostering since their pull up washed away, leaving him with only anger to hold onto in the face of his mockery.

    “EXCUSE YOU?!” He screamed at full force, while Van beside him went pale.

    A student called out. “You should switch to dark-colors, man! It’s easier to hide when you make a mess!”

    “W-WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?!” Trip demanded over the laughter, his voice cracking higher. His mind was racing just like Van’s. No, there’s no way that they know…!

    “Oh you didn’t hear?” Called the one person at school who was neither impressed nor intimidated by either of them–because she was there for the exact same reason.

    He turned to his right, and there was Brittney Wong–head of the Echo Creek Academy Awesome Opossums Cheerleader Squad and undisputed ruler of all school functions. The overachiever, the diva, the daughter of old money that was fiercely established in this neck of LA.

    Trip and Van regularly joined forces with her in putting down the huddled masses of Echo Creek Academy–but this time her venom-dripping sneer was aimed at them.

    She reached into her purse and pulled out her smartphone. “You should have; it’s all over the net.”

    Trip looked at her phone, and began to hyperventilate. Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap, oh crap, oh crap.

    Brittney turned the phone around and held up her phone. On the screen, Trip’s worst fears were confirmed, as the video showed him inside of Zoom Comics posturing over Drew after just being rejected by Heather and fake-ripping the comic in half. The angle of the video allowed him to see what he didn’t then: Dipper advancing on him from behind with murder in his brown eyes.

    He could only watch as the out of towner whipped him around and punched the smug smile off his face.

    Brittney turned her phone over to look at it, then back at Trip. Her nasty sneer grew worse when she saw the look on his face. “Usually when you get in a fight you hit them back, not whatever this is.”

    This being sobbing like a baby as Dipper hauled him to his feet and threw him and Van out of the store like he was their father.

    No no no no no no no…! Trip couldn’t catch his breath. He staggered back towards his brother. Someone had filmed what happened, and everyone had seen it. “That’s… it’s not…! I’m not actually…!”

    Brittney looked up from the phone again. “… a huge wimp who cries when he gets hit once, and pees his pants when he’s scared?”

    She brought the phone back up for them to see video of themselves running screaming out of Hillhurst, screaming in terror and wetting their pants before Dudley scooped them up. “Because this is real compelling evidence.”

    “NO!” Van bellowed. “That’s not us! That’s a total fake!”

    “Take that video down, or I swear to God, I’ll sue you, Wong!”

    The plea fell on uncaring ears, as Brittney rolled her eyes. “Don’t blame me for being the messenger. You’re the ones who should be keeping a better eye on the net. And honestly? There isn’t enough money in the world to fix this.

    With a sharp whip of her hair, she gave them a final cruel smile and walked towards where some of her fellow cheerleaders waited near the doors. “Have fun being the laughing stock of the school, Vanderhoff!”

    Trip’s world began to spin. The whole school is laughing at them–at him!

    They all saw him getting punched in the face and crying, then running away screaming from a haunted mansion begging for help.

    They humiliated me… they put it on the internet so the whole world would laugh at me!

    He looked at his classmates, making jokes and doing impressions as–their attention falling away from him even as he remained the subject of the moment. They’re savoring this, circling like vultures and watching me die!

    “Stop laughing or we’ll freaking sue all of you!” Van screamed, only to be pelted further with mockery.

    Brittney looked back at the melting down brothers, and noticed a car she hadn’t seen before pull up at the end of the bus line: an old white SUV. Her eyebrows rose when the doors opened and Misao–her hair dyed from its purple with white streaks to red that faded into orange at the ends–stepped from it onto the sidewalk. “Who is-?”

    Her eyebrows shot almost halfway up her forehead when Mabel followed her onto the sidewalk, and Dipper stepped out of the front passenger side.

    Van noticed the Pines get out of Shermie’s SUV too, and grabbed Trip’s shoulder. “Trip…! TRIP, LOOK!”

    Trip looked, and goggled at the sight of the Pines Twins, in disbelief. “What?! Why are they here?!”

    Not noticing them, Dipper placed his hands on his hips and smiled as he looked at their new school. “Well, here we are, Echo Creek Academy.”

    Misao nodded. “It is very… suburban?”

    Like the school buildings she’d see on American TV shows, even. She looked over at the sign of the school, and the statue next to it. “Is that a giant rat?”

    “Oh my gosh, it’s Otis the Opossum!” Mabel cried out before she ran over and hugged the statue.

    Misao tilted her head to one side. “Why is there a statue of an opossum?”

    Dipper looked down at her. “He’s the school mascot.”

    There were worse animals to have as mascots, but this one was baffling to the German. “A strange choice.”

    She looked to her left, and frowned. “Oh no.”

    Dipper looked. “What’s–oh.” He spotted the Vanderhoffs. The curly-haired blonde was shaking where he stood, his face flushed as red as the fire in his eyes. Trip raised a finger and stabbed the air towards the object of his fury and humiliation.

    Dipper scowled. “Wow, you actually go here?”

    “You! What are you doing here?!” Trip demanded

    “… Going to school?” Dipper replied.

    Mabel looked up from her embrace of Otis the Opossum. “Hugging an opossum statue?”

    Trip began walking towards Dipper, shaking his head. Van followed close behind, cracking his knuckles. “Oh no, no, no… you are not going to my school!”

    Dipper’s gaze flicked between Trip the brothers. “I don’t care and I don’t have time for your crap. So leave me, my sister, and my friends alone.”

    Trip stepped up to him. “You don’t have friends. You won’t have friends! You won’t have anything when I am through with you, Pine Tree! Not for what you did to me!”

    Dipper’s eyes narrowed, and his lips pulled into a scowl. “Is that a threat?”

    “It’s a promise!” Trip shouted back and pointed between him, Mabel, and Misao. “All of you are going down!”

    Right on the tail end of that shout, Marco and Star walked over straight from their school bus. Marco’s hands were buried in his hoodie pocket, and his expression was darkening as he reached Dipper’s side. “Hey guys, I bet you two have better places to be than here or on the ground.”

    Star said nothing but stared right at both boys with a bright smile, and tossed her wand to herself–the hearts on her cheeks replaced with grey skulls.

    Any fight Van had left him, and he grabbed Trip by the shoulder. “Uh, dude? No! We’re out of here!”

    Trip struggled against Van’s grip. “No! I’m not walking away! I don’t care who you think you are or what you think you can do, but-mmph!”

    Van clamped his hand over Trip’s mouth and hauled him back. The last thing he wanted was any of Star Butterfly’s smoke. “Dudley, drive us around to the back!”

    Furious, but helpless to stop his stronger brother from pulling him back to the family car, Trip freed his mouth and yelled. “I will wipe you out with precision the likes of which has never been seen before on this Earth, Pine Tree! Mark my flipping words!”

    Van yanked Trip back and threw him into the back of their car, and shouted to Dudley. “Drive, GO!”

    “At once sir.” Dudley closed the door behind his charges, and went around to get in the car.

    As the Vanderhoffs left, Dipper shook his head. “Somehow, still not worse than Gideon.”

    Cuddling Otis, Mabel laughed. “Oh ho ho, yeah.”

    Dipper looked at her. “Mabel, stop hugging the opossum.”

    “But I love him!”

    Star looked at Misao’s hair, and she let out a gasp. “Oh my gosh, what did you do to your hair?!” She shot over to the smaller girl and looked at it. “I love the color!”

    Misao reached up and patted the orange tips of her sidelocks from underneath. “Oh, Mabel dyed my hair yesterday.”

    She reached underneath the back of her head and fanned out her waist-length hair. Mabel had done meticulous work, taking such care with changing her hair color that it had a shine and lustre that made the unreal color almost look natural. “She did good work, ja?”

    Mabel reluctantly let go of Otis and stood. “It took all day, but we got it done. I think it’s my best work yet.”

    Star turned Mabel and took her hands in hers. “Teach me your hair magic, oh hair wizard.”

    Mabel closed her eyes and chuckled. “All will be revealed, in my Mabel’s Guide to Hair Care series…”

    Marco watched the Phantom disappear around the corner. “Everyone was joking about Horse Boy and his brother on the bus. Kinda not surprised you’re the ones they got beef with.”

    “Really?” Dipper asked.

    Marco glanced aside to Star with a small smile. “New people in town tend to shake things up.”

    Misao huffed. “Those rotzlöffel are the whole reason we went to Hillhurst.”

    Both Marco and Star remembered their own run in with Trip and Van that day. “Wait,” Marco said, “Really?”

    Mabel nodded. “Yep, they tried to lure Drew, Jo, and Roland into shenanigans. One thing led into another…”

    “… And we’re in this mess,” Dipper finished.

    Marco tried not to purse his lips too hard as he glanced out the corner of his eye at Star, her face was the straightest he’d ever seen it. He looked at Dipper. “You need help dealing with those two, let us know.”

    Dipper waved his hand back and forth. “It’s fine. They do not scare me.”

    “We’ve dealt with richer and crazier,” Mabel reassured them both.

    “Crazier than the Vanderhoffs?” Marco drew his hands out of his hoodie and shook his head. “Why is it that the richer you are, the more terrible you are to everyone around you?”

    Mabel picked up and cuddled Misao. “Hey, it’s not everyone!”

    Misao giggled. “Ah, Mabel!”

    Star turned to Marco. “Yeah, I’m a princess and I’m not terrible!”

    “Yeah, Star’s great! Get in on this hug, girl!”

    Star hugged Misao and Mabel, trapping the shorter girl between them. “Friendship group hug~!”

    Marco shrugged his shoulders. “Okay, but two out of six isn’t good.”

    Dipper groaned. Bad enough we have to deal with monsters. “There’s more of them?”

    “Sure, besides those two clowns there’s Brittney Wong and Jeremy Birnbaum,” Marco’s tone shifting to a gravel-filled snarl made Dipper’s heart beat pick up. “Both are objectively terrible.”

    “Uhh… what’s with Jeremy?” Dipper asked.

    “He’s an eight year old who keeps beating Marco in Karate,” Star said.

    Mabel gave Marco a flat look. “Wow, really?”

    “Hey, he’s not terrible because of that!” Marco argued.

    Dipper snapped out of his haze, and pointed. “Hey, is that Brittney?”

    Brittney was still standing where she’d stopped, staring at the lot of them like she was watching reality unravel before her eyes.

    Misao looked at Star and Mabel, then at Marco and Dipper. “Ah… is she okay?”

    Mabel followed Brittney's line of gaze to Dipper, and gestured to him. “She’s probably stunned by how hot this giant nerd is.”

    Dipper’s face broke into a pale blush. “Mabel!”

    Marco was unused to her expression being something other than contempt for all of creation. “Uh, Brittney? Are you doing all right?”

    His voice broke the spell cast on her, and she went from slack-jawed to glaring in the blink of an eye.

    “None of your business, Barfo! Hmph!” Whipping her hair hard, she turned her back to the whole group and marched off.

    Marco snapped his fingers and pointed at her. “Yeah, see that? She’s been that way since Freshman year. I don’t even know what I did to her.”

    Star looked at Marco. “Oh I bet she’s still mad because you almost puked on her party bus all those times, remember? Huh? Remember the party bus, and how all the rolling and turning, and rocking made you really motion sick?”

    He turned green. “Y-yeah.”

    “Whoa, you too?” Dipper asked. “If you like I can give you some tips on how to deal with it.”

    Marco’s nausea fell away. “What do you do for it?”

    Dipper smiled as he shared. “You know, simple stuff, just focus on something that isn’t moving or count backwards from a high number. If you’re just riding in a car, close your eyes and just relax.”

    Marco nodded. “I know about that.”

    A flinch rocked Dipper. “Oh, uh… have you tried ginger?”

    No Marco had not. “What does that do?”

    Just as quickly he brightened again. “Well it’s really simple biology, you see-” The bell ringing, however, cut him short, and everyone looked as the doors opened and students began filing in.

    “Hold that thought ‘til later,” Marco said, and he turned to Star. “Let’s get to class, Star!”

    “Coming~!” Star called, cartwheeling after him.

    Dipper watched the two leave. “Yeah, talk later.”

    Mabel, her hand to her lips, giggled. “We gotta get our classes and get Misao registered, Dipper. Wipe your mouth and come on!”

    As she and Misao went ahead, Dipper flushed and stomped after her. “Mabel, what the heck?!”

    Brittney watched the group leave. Her scowl was gone, reduced to a frown and an uncharacteristically furrowed brow. Like everyone else who saw it, an especially timid-looking girl with short hair pulled into a ponytail was concerned. It wasn’t like Brittney Wong to be so… worried about something.

    “Uh, Brittney? Are you okay?”

    Brittney whirled around on the girl. “Uh, hello, Sabrina? Did you not see?”

    She looked back again at the school’s doors. “That was…”

    = - = 16 = - =

    First day of school and it already feels like Gravity Falls! Complete with wealthy enemies for life.
     
  10. Threadmarks: Scandalous Scholastics
    The Ero-Sennin

    The Ero-Sennin Professional Shitposter

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    Here I am suddenly playing catch-up here, whoops.

    = - = 17 = - =

    |Scandalous Scholastics|

    “Misao Darlian.”

    Echo Creek Academy’s Principal, Edwin Bonner-Skeeves read aloud on the Swiss passport he’d been handed. He looked up at the red-to-orange haired girl who showed up unannounced at his office with the two students starting today–twins tall enough to make him think their last name was appropriate.

    “Yes?” Misao’s smile radiated infectious cheer.

    By stark contrast, Principal Skeeves cut the perfect image of a stern, intimidating authoritarian as he glowered at the three teenagers standing across from his desk in his office. The balding, bespectacled, and large middle-aged man lowered the passport onto the table and sighed.

    “As I understand it, you’re one of those e-celebrities, right?

    Dipper and Mabel both looked at Misao as she nodded. “That’s right, I stream myself playing video games.”

    Principal Skeeves raised his eyebrows, skeptical of the notion. “That’s a thing young people do?”

    Misao beamed. “Ja, it’s worked for me.”

    “Evidently. There were rumors about you going to school in Beverly Hills and living with the stars of Our Family.”

    “Again, ja. I was going to be staying with the Haleys as part of the student exchange program.”

    Principal Skeeves nodded. “So you’ll excuse me if I’m a little surprised to find you here trying to enroll at my school instead. Did something happen with your exchange family, or with the school you were going to?”

    “During the weekend I got here, there were circumstances I could not control. So for the sake of my original host family and the school I’ve decided to transfer elsewhere.”

    “It’s nothing dangerous or a potential liability, is it?”

    A menacing Shego loomed large in Misao’s mind, green energy manifesting around her clenched fist as she grinned. “Oh, hardly anything like that!”

    He looked at the Pines Twins. “And you’re now staying with these two?”

    Dipper became wary of the Principal’s tone. “Is that a problem?”

    Principal Skeeves looked down at an open pair of manilla envelopes, containing the academic records of Dipper and Mabel Pines.

    Exceptionally high marks in the STEM courses. Above average marks in physical education. Poor marks in Global Studies, extremely argumentative with teachers. Seditious conspiracy theorist, punish heavily to eliminate independent thinking.

    He glanced at Dipper with a raised eyebrow, before looking at Mabel’s file.

    Good general student across all courses. Liberal and free-thinking, suspected drug user. Will bring a pig to school. Bar her from Audio/Visual equipment and call police immediately if she is filming on school grounds.

    Well at least he knew who he was keeping his eyes on this year. “Dipper, can I call you that? I have enough problem students and I’ve been informed in advance of your reputation. I’ve also already heard about your confrontations with the Vanderhoffs.”

    Dipper wasn’t going to make any excuses. “It is what it is.”

    “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t antagonize them, their family’s donations fund Echo Creek Academy’s extracurricular events.”

    “And lets them get away with whatever they want,” Dipper thought to himself. “If either of them antagonize me, I’m throwing them in garbage cans.”

    Principal Skeeves liked Dipper. Unfortunately, the financial situation of his school mattered more. “I’ve got my eye on you.”

    Mabel leaned against her brother and pointed at him. “This guy? You don’t have to worry about this guy, but don’t you worry! Mabel’s here to keep him on the path, and bring fashion, fun, and flair to Echo Creek Academy!”

    “Oh no, I’ve got my eye on you, too–no video cameras. Ever.”

    Like a switch, Mabel flipped. “Whatever those philistines at Piedmont High School told you is lies and slander! I had permits and the fire department was on standby!”

    Principal Skeeves looked at the police report included in Mabel’s file that disputed her claims. “Whatever you say, Miss Pines.”

    Mabel shook her fist to the heavens. “I will sue their pants off!”

    Misao looked at Mabel, surprised that one of her episodes would cause such a response. “I’ve seen every episode, which one was this?”

    Dipper leaned close to her. “Guide to High School Mascots.”

    Recognition dawned on Misao’s face. “That was the funniest episode.”

    Dipper gave Misao a nervous glance. Seriously, what is with German humor?

    “Right, then.” Principal Skeeves looked at Misao. “Misao?”

    Misao looked at him, hopeful. “Ja-ahem-yes… ?”

    “You still wish to enroll here at Echo Creek Academy, effective today?”

    “That is right!” She said eagerly.

    Principal Skeeves stared at the vibrant girl, throwing herself at his mercy with a bright smile. Shaking off her indignation, Mabel gave two thumbs up with a brilliant, encouraging smile of her own.

    He removed his glasses, before wiping and replacing them on his face. “Well unfortunately, I cannot allow you to just attend classes. If you can prove you legally live with the Pines, you can have a parent or guardian fill out the registration.”

    Misao pulled out her phone. “You have Venmo, correct?”

    “Yes, it’s under Edwin Bonner-Skeeves, with a hyphen between Bonner and Skeeves,” he said before continuing. “After that we’ll need a copy of your transcripts from your previous school either faxed or mailed to us with your medical records, including your immunization history.”

    “Right, is ten thousand euros fine?” Dipper did a double-take towards Misao.

    “Of course,” Principal Skeeves agreed. “You will also need to take an aptitude test that will determine your placement in the school if you get in-”

    Misao tapped her screen a few times. “Sent.”

    Principal Skeeves phone chimed, and the man brightened. “And welcome to our school, Miss Darlian. We’ll have your schedule printed out, your books ready, and your locker combination as soon as possible.”

    Dipper looked back and forth between Misao and the Principal. “Whoa, what just happened?”

    “The broken and corrupt system that benefits the wealthy,” Mabel said.

    Principal Skeeves transferred his money to his bank. “Yes, Mr. Pines, pay attention.”

    Dipper looked from him back to Misao and Mabel. “Just like that, though?”

    His sister nodded. “It’s how Star enrolled.”

    Dipper opened his mouth to protest such corruption, but remembered the Vanderhoff boys went here, too. “Huh, okay.”

    “For the time being you may shadow your housemates,” Principal Skeeves signed a piece of paper and handed it to Misao. “Just pass this note to any teacher who asks questions.”

    Misao read the school pass and nodded. “Ja, dankeschon.”

    Principal Skeeves was more preoccupied with the things he was going to buy off the internet with his newfound windfall. “Bitte. Now if there’s nothing else, you may go to your classes. Have a good day, all of you.”

    The three left the Principal’s office and went out into the High School’s main hallway. The school’s breakfast period was almost over, and students were traveling back and forth to get to their classrooms. Stopping a little bit away from the Skeeves’ door, Dipper shook his head. “Ten grand just like that? Are you going to get in trouble for spending that money?”

    “Do not worry, it’s still less than a Beverly Hills Private School.” Misao had a point, so Dipper set that worry aside.

    “Well, I hope at least you get what you pay for.”

    She grinned and hugged Dipper’s arm. “Oh darling, I’d pay my weight in gold and it wouldn’t be enough for the time I spend with you.”

    She was coming on too strong for Dipper to just let that one slide. “If you’d pay that much for this…?”

    He took off his lumberjack hat and ran his fingers through his messy brown hair, flicking it free to make it wilder. He looked down at her, with a dangerous, charming smirk. “Then I’ll give you the VIP experience.”

    Misao’s face warmed enough to turn a shade of pink. “… Oh my… ah…”

    Mabel tittered at Misao’s surprise. “Dipper can be smooth as silk when he wants to be.”

    She took Dipper’s hat and squashed it back on top of his head. “Don’t let it fool you, though, he’s still a giant turbo-nerd.”

    He laughed. “And proud of it.”

    Further down the hall, Roland and Jo entered the building from the school’s cafeteria, on their way to class. In his hand, Roland held a foil-wrapped breakfast burrito that he was going to enjoy in class, while Jo walked with her hands in the pockets of the jean shorts she wore with a bright red t-shirt and her baseball cap flipped forward.

    Roland looked at his friend, specifically her hat, and slowly shook his head. “Did he say why he was skipping class?”

    “Probably because he’s feeling too sorry for himself to haul himself out of bed, as usual,” she replied without looking up. “He spent all day in his room yesterday, why wouldn’t he today?”

    Roland lowered his head just a bit. “He was doing just fine at the shop, what happened?”

    “What do you think happened? Someone got in his head and he fell a-freaking-part.”

    That left Roland seething. “And what are you twigged about, Josephine?”

    Jo finally gave him a dark look from under the brim of her hat. “Because Andrew thought he could take his damage out on me.”

    “You could be more supportive of your brother, you know,” he pointed out.

    This time, Jo turned her head to look up at him. “Supporting him is all I do.”

    He could use better support, Roland thought, glowering back at Jo.

    She read his expression, and looked away with a snort. “If you’re so worried about him, you go join his pity-party. I want to be in a good mood, today.”

    That wasn’t in the cards today. Looking forward, saw Misao hugging Dipper’s arm and fawning over him with adoration. The color drained from her face for a brief moment, before her expression shifted to a simmering stare.

    Roland paid no notice to Jo’s shift in expression and waved with his burrito. “Hey guys!”

    Mabel lit up and looked over. “Roland! Jo!”

    Jo tilted her head up, an aloof look on her face, and gave a subdued wave. “Hey.”

    “Guten morgen,” Misao, still holding onto Dipper’s arm, gestured to her hair with her free hand. “I dyed my hair for class, it’s good, ja?”

    Roland smiled. “School colors? Nice!”

    Jo looked at the girl’s dye work and shrugged her shoulders. “It’s fine, I guess.”

    “How are you guys doing?” Roland continued.

    “So far? Not bad,” Dipper answered. “We just got out of the Principal’s office.”

    Roland and Jo both had heard about what happened by the buses. “Because of the Vanderhoffs?”

    Dipper dismissed Roland’s worries with a wave of his hand. “Nah, he wasn’t too bothered by that.”

    Mabel pat Misao atop her head. “We were getting Misao enrolled.”

    Roland brightened. “You’re already in?”

    Misao struck a pose, winking as she held the V sign over her opened eye. “Ja, it didn’t take much for me to get in!”

    “At least not as much as a Private School,” Dipper muttered, and Misao laughed.

    Mabel noticed someone missing. “Where’s Drew?”

    Jo let out an audible snort. She looked off to the side as Roland answered. “He’s not feeling too hot, so he’s taking a day off to pull himself together.”

    Mabel gasped. “Oh no!”

    “Is he okay?” Misao asked.

    “He’s fine, he’s just in kind of a mood,” he assured them.

    “Does this happen often?” Dipper asked.

    “Yeah. It does.” Jo replied, the edge of her voice cutting deep.

    Dipper looked at Jo, then at Roland, who shot her the quickest glare. Some kind of drama between these three? I’ll ask Roland later.

    “Well, if he’s up for it, we can talk to him after class,” he suggested.

    Mabel gasped. “I know! I should make him a card! I think I can pull one off before lunch.”

    “Good idea,” Dipper said.

    As Mabel brimmed with excitement over making the best cheer-up card ever, Roland asked. “So what classroom are you guys in?”

    It was as good a time as any to find out. Both Pines looked at their schedules and Dipper answered. “It says I’m in Room 108.”

    Mabel pouted. “It says I’m in Room… 111…?”

    The two looked at each other and spoke in unison. “… They split us up.”

    Jo, suppressed her elation that she’d be in class with Dipper, and looked at them both. “You’ve never been split up before?”

    Mabel shook her head, her pouty lips quivering. “No, never… the perks of being twins, you know?”

    Dipper nodded. “Yeah, we’ve been in every class together since pre-school. It’s going to be weird not sitting next to my sister.”

    Jo huffed. “I wish I could be in a different class from Drew. Ever since I skipped grades they’ve put me in every class with him.”

    “So you’re an advanced learner?” Misao asked.

    Jo nodded. “Dang right.”

    Roland gestured to Jo. “She may not look or act it, but she’s probably the top student here.”

    “Excellent praise off the backhand, Roland,” Jo snapped back at him.

    Roland turned to the twins. “Hey, don’t worry about being split up. Classes 108 and 111 have gym and lunch together, so you won’t be apart for too long. Star, Marco, and I go to class 111, and Drew, Jo, and Heather are all in 108.”

    “Oh, that’s not so bad, then!” Mabel said, before she looked over at Dipper–then at Jo eyeing him. Oh, oops.

    Dipper tried to ignore the redhead chuckling in the back of his head. Being in class with Drew means I’ll be able to talk to him, and hopefully find out what his deal is. His tone really changed after that first fight… I wonder if he’s upset about what happened?

    To his sister, he smiled, and placed a hand on her shoulder. “It’ll be okay, Mabel, just focus on making a good impression.”

    Mabel giggled. “You know for a fact that I make…” She cleared her throat and spoke like a slightly more girlish Dipper. “… amazing impressions.”

    Dipper’s smile held. “Never do that again.”

    “No promises.” Mabel hugged him. “I’ll see you at lunch!”

    As Dipper returned her embrace, she whispered in his ear. “And don’t you forget that Wendy put up with you.”

    “You don’t need to tell me.” Pulling back, he gripped her shoulders and nodded. “When you take over the school, don’t start right away with mandatory dance parties, okay?”

    “No promises there either, bro-bro.”

    “And that’s why going to school with you is the best.”

    Jo rolled her eyes. I guess it’s a twin thing. Oh well, at least I’ll have today to hang out with Dipper until Drewbbie Downer comes back and ruins everything.

    Misao joined Dipper’s side. “I’ll go on with Dipper to room 108, so he’ll have a bit more company on his side.”

    Jo did a double-take. Oh come on! Just what I need, the Euro-thot hanging all over him.

    “You sure?” Mabel asked.

    “Ja! I’ll take good care of your brother.” She pulled Dipper along. “Class is almost starting! Let’s go introduce ourselves.”

    Dipper let her lead. “All right.” He looked back at Mabel and Roland. “See you later!”

    “Have fun~!” Mabel cheered.

    Jo reached up and adjusted her hat, and followed without a word of goodbye to either Roland or Mabel.

    Mabel and Roland watched them leave. When they were out of earshot, she looked at him. “Jo’s in a pretty squirrelly mood herself today.”

    “You have no idea,” Roland said with a sigh. “I’m sorry in advance.”

    Mabel began walking to class. “Don’t worry about Dipper, he can handle her.”

    Roland kept up with her. “I hope so.”

    “He’s got experience in this sort of thing, he was a huge mess with his first big crush.” And Mabel on all of hers, but this wasn’t about the mistakes of her youth. “When it’s all over, everyone will be older and wiser for it.”

    “I just hope she doesn’t go too far, she can be a bit over the top.”

    Mabel shrugged her shoulders. “Please, we’ve dealt with people who had no chill and Jo doesn’t come close.”

    “Oh yeah? What’s someone with no chill in your book?”

    @@@@@

    “I will destroy him!” Trip screamed in the school’s faculty parking lot, to the gathered audience of his brother and Dudley.

    He punched the side of his SUV, hot tears running down his face. This would not stand, Pine Tree and all everyone he associated with were going down–especially Andrew McCormick and Marcel Diaz!

    “Dexter! Mark this down!” Trip commanded.

    “It’s Dud-”

    “On this day, at this moment! I swear upon the Vanderhoff name that I will have my revenge! Andrew McCormick! Pine Tree, Marcel Diaz, and their loser friends will be at my feet–on their knees! I will take everything from them! Their friends, their families, their homes! Even the clothes off their backs! I will own them, and when they have nothing left and beg me for mercy? I will say no and cast them into the darkest pit I can pay people to think of!”

    Van never saw his brother this angry before. “Uh…”

    His voice cracking and splintering, he shrieked. “I AM NOT GOING TO BE TREATED LIKE THIS! BY THESE PIECES! OH GARBAGE!”

    Van looked around nervously, hoping there wasn’t someone skulking around with a camera looking for more junk to smear them with. “Trip, you need to chill.”

    “Chill? CHILL?! How can I chill when everyone keeps taking shots at me, huh?!” Trip pounded on his own chest. “People were laughing in our faces, like they don’t know who we are! How am I going to be chill after that, numbnuts?!”

    He turned away and let out a shriek that rose into a high squeal.

    Grabbing his brother before anyone heard that, Van shook him. “Hey! We'll get them back! You just gotta, I don’t know… see this with a cooler head!”

    Dudley, who wished he could just burst into laughter without consequence, cleared his throat. “Master Van’s quite right, sir. Revenge is a dish best served with careful preparation, not screaming and flailing.”

    Trip whirled on him. “What would you know about revenge, Donatello?!”

    The old man held his tongue a little bit harder than usual, and just imagined a day where Trip and Van would both be on fire. “My apologies, sir. Nevermind.”

    Van rested a hand on Trip’s shoulder. “Hey, bro… bro… listen. We can’t go like this all crazy! They got Star Butterfly on their side. If we get caught out going after them? We’ll get our butts kicked and turned into newts or whatever!”

    Trip hated it when his brother was right. “… I’m not letting this go!”

    “I know, and I have an idea. How about we do what Dad does when there’s people he doesn’t like in his way, but can’t have them sued or arrested?”

    Trip sniffled. “Hitmen are expensive, though.”

    “Well, not a hitman, but someone who hits?” Van smirked. “I happen to know a guy who hits pretty hard, too.”

    Trip’s interest piqued. “Oh yeah, is he good?”

    Van chuckled. “Nah, in fact he’s a bit of a… dud.”

    Trip frowned for all of a moment, before he caught what his brother inferred. “Heh… hahahaha… even a dud should be good enough for Pine Tree. Let’s make it happen.”

    He looked at Dudley. “David?”

    “Dudley, sir.” The old chauffeur repressed his grimace at Trip’s twisted grin.

    “Get me a briefcase full of money and some waivers.”

    = - = 17 = - =

    But we're getting there. Incoming deluge of chapters.
     
  11. Threadmarks: On My Own Time
    The Ero-Sennin

    The Ero-Sennin Professional Shitposter

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    Next one.

    = - = 18 = - =

    |On My Own Time|

    After parting ways with Jo and Roland, Drew didn’t go to Zoom Comics as they were led to believe–he got onto a bus for Hillhurst Mansion. His argument with Jo the other night had given him an idea to fix the mess he made, and with everyone else at school he could pull it off without having to hear anyone protest–not Dipper, Marco, and especially Jo.

    By the end of the day, it would be like none of this ever happened, I hope. Drew thought as he walked down the path to the mansion. Like Flabber had promised, the house and the area around it had been cleaned up. Even the broken door and windows were completely repaired.

    It’s like we were never here. As he crept through the door, he found the dusty, cobweb-covered interior was completely clean of the old garbage that had strewn the floor, but now there were newer cardboard boxes stacked over by the open archway to the organ room. “Flabber? Are you here? Did you clean the house…?”

    Drew hadn’t gotten halfway across the foyer, when the door he left open slammed shut. He looked back, and found Mums leaned against it, blocking the way out.

    “Well, well, well! Look who’s come by for breakfast! Hey Frankie! Fangula!”

    Frankenbeans stormed out of the hallway leading to the back of the house, arms outstretched. “Yay! Food!”

    From the balcony above, Fangula emerged with dramatic flourish and leered at Drew hungrily. “Just in time, I’ve been… dying for a bite.”

    Frankenbeans advanced closer, hands grasping at the air. Fangula vaulted over the railing and landed soundlessly in a low crouch next to Frankie, hissing and baring his fangs in anticipation of Drew’s next move. Mums circled behind their prey, rubbing his dry, creaking palms together and chuckling with ill-intent.

    Drew just watched them, looking more annoyed than afraid. “Where’s Flabber? I need to talk to him.”

    All three stopped. Fangula was thrown off by his indifference, Frankenbeans was more disoriented than his minimum brain power was usually capable of, and Mums was outright affronted.

    “Wait, what? Hey, kid, you’re surrounded by evil, spooky, man-eating monsters here!” He pointed out.

    Drew pulled his Beetle Bonder from his pocket. “Yeah, so what?”

    Mums palmed his face in frustration, before gesturing emphatically at Drew. “We’re evil, spooky, man-eating monsters! Start shaking in your boots!”

    Drew’s eyes narrowed. “You dweebs are not scary.”

    Mums went from affronted to enraged. “Dweebs?! You know what? That’s it! You ain’t gonna live long enough to be scared! Fangs! Frankie! Let’s rip this punk limb from limb!”

    “And time’s up.” Drew held up the Beetle Bonder. “Beetle Blast.”

    Bright blue light shone from the center of the Beetle Bonder as its wings opened to reveal a figurine in the center of it of the Blue Stingerborg. The shining light became a vortex that encircled Drew and encased him from head to toe in the Blue Stingerborg’s armor–to the horror of the three monsters.

    Mums pointed at Drew. “H-hold it! You’re one of those guys who jumped us!”

    Drew quickly drew the Input Magnum and pulled back on the slide. “That’s right. Now show of hands: Who wants to be the first to help me work through some crap?!”

    In light of recent events, Mums was far less-inclined. “I’ll beat up a kid anytime, but not an armed one!”

    Drew turned to face Frankie and Fangula. The foppish vampire jumped back, his hands shooting for his belt protectively. “Please no!”

    Frankie turned and fled down the hallway he came. “No fight!”

    Drew nodded and pulled the Input Magnum back. “That’s what I thought; now get out of here.”

    “Retreat!” Mums cried out, and the remaining two monsters quickly fled up the stairs to avoid a thrashing like the one they had the last time.

    Drew holstered the weapon. “Back Blast!”

    In a flash the armor vanished, and when the light faded Flabber was standing next to him. “See? You didn’t even have to beat them up.”

    Drew scowled at Flabber. “I thought you’re supposed to keep them in line.”

    “I am, and I have! They haven’t even tried to leave since I got the TV and Internet installed.”

    “Then where were you-” Drew paused. “Wait, TV? Internet?”

    Flabber gestured for him to follow. “Oh yeah, come take a look!”

    The phasm ushered Drew from the sitting room to the Organ Room, where the furniture across from the organ had been rearranged to make room for a gigantic plasma television with an equally impressive surround sound system. Drew gawked at it, and at the stacks and stacks of movies, books, DVDs, video game consoles, and other forms of audio/visual media strewn around for easy consumption.

    Drew looked wildly back and forth across the setup. “Wh… what? When did you…? How did you…?”

    “I’ve been locked up in that organ for forty years, I had a lot of catching up to do. So with some help, I got my information station set up nicely. A seventy-inch plasma screen tv–with Netflix.”

    Drew looked at Flabber, and gestured at the TV. “How did you know how to get all this stuff?!”

    Janna stuck her head up over the couch separating the two from Flabber’s multimedia empire, giving him a two-fingered salute. “Sup, sad kid, you’re skipping out, too?”

    Drew looked at the girl in disbelief. “Janna?! What are you doing here?”

    “She’s been here since yesterday, helping me catch up on what I missed, and it’s been a lot!” Flabber explained. “Can you believe that Elvis Presley is a cyborg living in a cave at the bottom of the Caribbean Sea, now?”

    “No I mean…” Drew trailed off, and looked at Flabber. “Wait, what?”

    Before Flabber could spend the next three hours explaining a complex web of deception hiding the horrific conversion of 50s and 60s era celebrities into unfeeling warriors to defeat chronological infants, Drew held his hand up to the phasm’s face, stopping him.

    “No. Janna, how are you still here and not being bothered by those idiots that just tried to eat me?”

    The dark-haired girl looked towards the living room, then back at Drew. “Oh, them? I told them I was a witch.”

    Drew’s shoulders fell. “You’re not a witch.”

    “You’re literally the last person on the planet to deny claims of supernatural powers, McCormick.”

    Drew didn’t want Janna sticking her nose into what he was about to do–but he couldn’t brandish a gun at her, too. With a deep, centering breath, he turned from her and faced Flabber. “I need your help with something.”

    Flabber forgot all about showing off his collection. “Sure thing, kiddo! What do you need?”

    Drew glanced at Janna, then gestured towards the organ. “Can I talk to you about it over here?”

    Flabber pointed with both fingers at Drew. “Lead the way!”

    The two walked away from Janna; she rested her arms on the back of the couch and watched them, her eyes narrowed in interest.

    “So I’ve been reading more of the Beetleborgs and they’re pretty great! The first few issues were a little janky, but it really kicks into gear when Saint Papilia is introduced and-” Flabber stopped when Drew held up his hand again.

    “Hey, Flabber, I think I have an idea on how to undo this. I’m going to need another wish from you, though.”

    Flabber jumped in place and tittered in excitement. “Oh say no more! I’ve felt so bad about bringing those Magnavores into this world!”

    He teleported to Drew’s other side. “I’ve been reading up on ‘em, and they’re really the baddest of the bad. Why, if I weren’t cooped up in this house, I’d be fighting them myself!”

    In a flash Flabber was gone again, appearing in the far side of the room with boxing shorts worn awkwardly over his gaudy, chaotic suit, and head protection that was resting atop his pompadour. He began aggressively shadowboxing–literally fighting his own shadow.

    “I’d hit ‘em with a ghostly left, polter-right! The phantom hook! The Ghouly one-two-y! Yeah!”

    His ridiculous fighting moves pummeled his own shadow, until a final uppercut knocked it flat out onto the ground. Turning around, his face covered in the lumps he’d delivered onto himself, Flabber thrust his hands into the air triumphantly. “Adrian! Adrian!”

    Janna looked at Drew, her expression asking “Who’s Adrian?”

    Drew shrugged his shoulders, an unspoken “I have no idea.”

    Flabber appeared next to Drew, a Hillhurst Box Office Heavyweight Champion belt around his waist. He threw another punch drunk hook, ready to go. “All right Drew, what can I do?”

    Drew glanced at Janna, before turning his back to her and pulling Flabber along with him. “I want to go back in time so I can warn myself not to make the first wish.”

    Flabber recoiled, and spoke with the voice of an energetic, dramatic old man. “Great scott, Andy! I don’t think I can do that!”

    “Do what?” Janna asked.

    Drew frowned, and the heat of his frustration flared up. “How can you be sure? You’re really powerful, Flabber! You were able to give us the Beetleborg powers and bring the Magnavores to life from the comics! Isn’t there some way you can open a portal back in time or create a time machine?!”

    Janna lit up. “Ooh, time travel? Count me in.”
    He looked over, not expecting that response. “… Really?”

    “Heck yeah.” She hopped over the couch and walked over, holding up a DVD case. “I bet you could summon one from this copy of Back to the Future.”

    Flabber looked at Janna. “Ooh! It could be the Delorean from the end, too, the one that can fly!”

    “A Mr. Fusion wouldn’t be too bad to have,” Janna said with full consideration of the sinister applications of such a device.

    The grip of Drew’s frustration eased, now that things were happening. “When we get the Delorean, I also want to have the knowledge of how to operate it.”

    Flabber agreed. “You got it, kiddo, you might need to make room in that noggin for a bunch of theoretical, fictional, and nonsensical physics, though.”

    Drew let out a bitter snort. “It’s not like I have anything useful up here anyway.”

    Janna handed the DVD to Drew. “Hey, what’re the chances we can stop by about… 1812 or so while we’re doing this time traveling thing?”

    Drew looked at her. “Why so far back?”

    “You have your reasons for time traveling and I have mine, McCormick.”
    The way she bit down on her lower lip and looked to the side weirded Drew out; so he put that on the back burner and offered the Back to the Future case to Flabber.

    Flabber clapped his hands eagerly, and danced around in a circle. “All right! According to my calculations, when I grant this wish, we’re gonna see some serious-”

    “Shut yo mouth!” The Pipettes cut him off. “Watch your language, Flabby!”

    “There are impressionable young ghosts that we host!” Blue chimed in.

    “Cursed wards don’t need curse words!” Red added.

    “So keep it rated G for Ghouls!” Green sang.

    “Whoops! Sorry!” Flabber fanned his face. “I do not know what came over me.”

    Janna looked at the Pipettes, then looked at Flabber. “Seriously, a house full of man-eating monsters and there’s no swearing allowed?”

    Drew folded his arms and thought about it. “Well, like they said, this place is cursed enough.”

    “That’s a load of bull-”

    “SHH!” The Pipettes hushed Janna.

    A long silence followed.

    “Shit.”

    The entire house rumbled enough to shake the light fixtures, making her and Drew both jump.

    “Watch your language.”

    The deep baritone that reverberated from the walls, floor, and ceiling rattled the two human guests to the bone.

    “… G-gotcha,” a paler Janna agreed. With their noses turned up smugly, the Pipettes vanished back into the organ.

    Drew scowled at the organ and Janna, then looked at Flabber. “Where were we?”

    “Right! 1.21 Flabberwatts, coming right up!” Limbering up, Flabber struck the same poses he had when he granted their first wish. “Flib! Flab! Flabber! A special request from a long time fan–a time machine with style!”

    He pointed his hands at the DVD.

    “PHASM FORCE!”

    Flabber’s magic struck and the entire house once again began to tremble as the case and its contents emitted an unearthly glow that filled the room, spread throughout the house, and darkened the sky above Hillhurst.

    At that moment, Noxic’s power sensors beeped at such a frequency it sounded like a single tone. He and his fellow Magnavores stood on the edge of the vineyard, looking at the glowing house and the dark sky above it.

    “Oh man, something’s going crazy over there! My sensors are blanked out! I can’t measure that power!”

    Typhus cracked his monstrous knuckles. “It’s going down big time, baby.”

    Jara rubbed her masked chin as the darkness was banished by a pillar of light from the house. “Yes, down to the ground. Let’s go.”

    = - = 18 = - =

    Thanks for reading, by the way.
     
  12. Threadmarks: Strength
    The Ero-Sennin

    The Ero-Sennin Professional Shitposter

    Joined:
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    And another.

    = - = 19 = - =

    |Strength|

    “How’re classes so far?” Marco asked Dipper–the two of them standing in line for lunch in Echo Creek Academy’s cafeteria, the former just ahead of the latter in the creeping queue.

    The circular building, separate from the school itself and ringed with glass doors and picture windows for two-thirds of the building, was a hive of activity as students from several different classes gathered to eat.

    Dipper let his gaze wander around the room as he rubbed the back of his neck. “So far, so good, I’ve already been excused from history class. Next up I’m going to see if I can fill that grade hole with more advanced science.”

    Marco let out a small laugh. “Underneath all that responsibility you keep taking, you’re kind of a rebel, huh?”

    Dipper’s gaze fell back on Marco. “I guess so.”

    Marco tucked his hands in his hoodie, putting on a humble façade. “I’m a bit of a misunderstood bad boy, myself. I love a little danger in my life–like being out there fighting monsters with Star.”

    “Yeah, you really got into it. You hit way harder than you look like you would, too. How’d you get so strong?”

    “Oh, that…?” Marco snapped into a fighting stance for emphasis. “I’ve just been practicing karate since I was seven.”

    He burst into a flurry of movement, throwing a trio of jabs fast like lightning before spinning in place and kicking high–his foot stopping just to the right of Dipper’s head but strong enough to disturb his messy hair with the displaced air.

    He stayed there like a statue for far longer than necessary, to show off his muscle control. “See?”

    “Y-yeah…” Dipper let out a breath he didn’t realize he was holding as Marco lowered his foot.. Okay, wow, when did it get so warm in here?

    Near the center of the cafeteria, Mabel watched Dipper and Marco out the corner of her eye as she sat with Star, Jo, Roland and Misao. They had already been served their lunches.

    He doesn’t even know what to do with himself. She repressed the to giggle like a loon as she turned her full attention to her new friends. Roland was on his phone, texting, while Star was listening to Misao’s account of their classes between the start of school and now.

    Star’s mouth fell open. “He got to leave History class?!”

    Misao nodded. “Ja, after five minutes of arguing with him about the eighth president, he let him go to the library.”

    Jo was detached from the conversation, watching Dipper and Marco talk. “Mr. Cuthbert said he wasn’t ‘paid enough to teach kids like him.’”

    Star, baffled, gestured to herself. “What about kids like me? I turned Miss Skullnick into a troll and nearly got the class killed on a field trip, but I never get excused!”

    Mabel laughed. “Dipper’s good at getting under teachers’ skin. He does the same thing back home. If he didn’t have super high marks everywhere else, our parents would be worried.”

    Jo spared ogling Dipper a moment to look at Mabel. “Your parents are okay with that?”

    “Well yeah, they want us to think for ourselves, no matter where that might take us.”

    “Some parents,” Jo muttered.

    “It’s worked out pretty great! I mean, look at me–I’m awesome!”

    Misao giggled. “… Well, you’re certainly awe-inspiring.

    Mabel laughed and caught Misao in a hug. “Aw!”

    Jo rolled her eyes and looked away from the two girls. Awesome is a good word, also vapid.

    “What even are presidents, and why are they important?” Star asked, as Misao snuggled back against Mabel.

    Speaking of vapid… Jo stared at Star. “They lead the country.”

    “Do they? I mean, I don’t see them doing any leading when they’re on the TV. They’re not issuing decrees, declaring war, or having their enemies thrown into the dungeon. I mean, if the President came here to school and told you to clean his shoes, would you do it?”

    Jo shook her head. “… Uh, no? I wouldn’t do that if my own father told me to.”

    Star gestured with her wand to Jo. “Then he’s not exactly the ruler of the country, now is he?”

    “That’s not how being president works.”

    “Does it, Jo? The president rules the country, you’re part of the country so he rules over you too, but you don’t have to do what he says? If he doesn’t, then who does he rule? That’s not a ruler at all. Check, set, Battleship sunk.”

    Jo scowled at Star. “Ugh, do you even pay attention in history class?”

    Star tossed her wand to herself. “Nope!”

    Her scowl turned into a glare. “How are you supposed to be the future ruler of your country?”

    “Duh, I’m a Princess? I was literally born ready.”

    Jo opened her mouth, but stopped and looked away from her with a frustrated sigh. “Whatever.”

    God, why are these girls so obnoxious?

    As Jo huffed, Mabel looked away from her second favorite cuddle buddy, after Waddles, to Roland. “Talking to Drew?”

    He tapped on his phone’s screen. “Trying to–he’s not answering my texts.”

    Jo let out an inaudible sigh once more looked towards the only thing that wasn’t annoying her at the moment–Dipper and Marco moving through the lunch queue.

    Mabel gasped. “That reminds me!” She produced a magenta card, with a beautifully drawn but sad blonde Maine Coon kitten on the front and the words “I hear that you’re having a meow-serable time.”

    She beamed brightly. “I finished the card!”

    Misao leaned in and gasped in awe of its cuteness. “Oh my goodness, it’s… it’s…”

    Mabel nodded. “Uh-huh, say it, girl~!”

    Misao practically jumped from her seat. “It’s a CAT-ICATURE~!”

    Jo’s attention could not help but be drawn back to the two bubbly girls. “A what?”

    “Mabel draws people, but as cats! They are very cute!” Misao explained as Mabel opened the card, revealing the cat lying on its back in a patch of grass surrounded by flowers and butterflies, its fluffy belly offered for pets, and wearing cool blue sunglasses. Above the cat it read “So let’s get together to have a purr-fect day!”

    Misao squealed. “Oh my goodness! The fur is like his hair! And you gave him cute sunglasses! Ahhh! It’s adorable!”

    Jo stared at the picture, incredulous at its quality. “You drew all of that today?”

    “She drew it right at the start of math class,” Roland explained. “Miss Skullnick yelled at her, but then she drew her a cat-icature and she liked it so much that she let her do it for the whole period.”

    Star held up a drawing of her cat–a sand-colored cat with a crescent moon on its forehead, sitting pretty under a burning rainbow. “She made cat-icatures for everyone! Look at mine.”

    “Mine’s pretty great, too.” Roland smiled and held up his own cat drawing–a brown-striped kitten wearing a red scarf.

    Jo gawked at the art, then looked at Mabel, then at Star, then at Misao. Oh. My God.

    Mabel placed a hand on her chest, and thrust it out with pride. “I am a super amazing artist thanks to many years of practice, and you too can learn if you follow my step by step guides on art and painting.”

    Misao nodded quickly. “Ja, I have but… why do you make your hair into a big and poofy afro for it?”

    Mabel turned her palms upward and slowly gestured out with them as she closed her eyes. “Because to grasp the joy of painting, you must find the happy little tree in your heart.”

    Dipper and Marco joined the table, the former noticing the pictures. “Getting started with cat-icatures, huh?”

    Beaming, Mabel held up her card for him to see. “What can I say? They’re a hit.”

    Marco reached into the pocket of his hoodie and pulled out a drawing Mabel made for him–a calico kitten doing a kickflip on a skateboard with a star sticker on its underside. “Seriously, your sister draws some cool cats, man.”

    “I know.” Dipper sat down next to Mabel, and Marco next to Star. “She’s made like a million cat-icatures of me as practice. There’s a dozen in our room back home that I like the most.”

    Mabel pulled out her math notebook, and a pencil. “What’s one more, bro-bro?”

    Misao clapped her hands together and leaned close to Mabel, her gray eyes filled with stars. “Mabel, could you draw a cat-icature for me, too? A fluffy one?”

    “Of course! I can get started on yours right now.” She called Jo. “Do you want a-”

    “I don’t,” Jo snapped at her, and the atmosphere shifted. Everyone at the table looked at her.

    Roland noticed the edge of her voice. “Uh… Jo, you okay?”

    Star tilted her head, much like a dog hearing a strange sound. “Yeah, what’s the dealio?”

    Jo snorted, and decided to just let the tension off her chest. “My dealio? Between the teen girl squad-” She gestured to Mabel, Star, and Misao. “-And my brother? I don’t know what’s annoying me more.”

    Mabel blinked, as though the confusion was in her eyes. “Whaaaa…?”

    Star was lost. “Huh?”

    Misao’s eyes narrowed. “Hm?”

    “Jo?” Roland frowned.

    She raised her left hand, palm upturned. “On one end of the spectrum of things that tick me off, is Princess Airhead, The Tourist, and The Free Spirit here actively demonstrating we could be doing much more with our time. I mean, if they’re going to be goofing off and junk why are we even here and not training or looking for the Magnavores?”

    She rolled her eyes to look at her right hand, which she also raised. “And on the other end of it, there’s Drew acting like we all have to be as miserable as he is, because he screwed up and got us all into this mess in the first place.”

    That ticked Roland something fierce. “Okay Josephine, what the heck? Do not go throwing this all on him, we all agreed to it.”

    “Yeah, we did. That doesn’t mean I want or have to curl up under my bed and cry about it.” She palmed the table, and spoke quieter. “I want to be a Beetleborg, I want to fix this mess that we made, so why aren’t we?”

    “Can we calm down for a second?” Marco asked, “We can’t just skip school to fight monsters.”

    Star spoke up. “We’ve done that a few times.”

    Marco sputtered. “Star, that’s true, but-”

    Jo pointed at Star, while snapping at Marco. “Do you freaking see?”

    She dropped back on her seat. “So I again ask you, what are we doing here, when we can be doing much more with our free time than acting like clueless idiots or miserable idiots?”

    “Blöde schlampe!” Misao snarled at Jo. “Du hast aber nerven, so mit mir zu reden!”

    “Whatever she said!” Star yelled, before looking at Misao. “What were those weird mouth sounds?”

    Mabel shook her head. “Wow, that… wow.”

    Dipper let out a sigh, then turned to Jo. “Things don’t work like that, Jo.”

    “Thank you!” Roland said with an emphatic wave to Dipper.

    Jo rolled her eyes, more at Roland than Dipper. She didn’t want to be mad at him, but she needed to hear this. “Okay then, how does it work? And please, don’t skimp on the details.”

    Dipper was about to warn Jo that this was not a conversation they should be having in the middle of the cafeteria to begin with, when a voice called from behind him.

    “Hey, are you Dipper Pines?”

    Dipper got up and turned to face the person accosting him, and was surprised that he had to actually look up. Standing a few inches taller than his own already esteemed height was a young man who could be charitably described as the unintended consequence of an illicit encounter between a brick house and a diesel locomotive.

    Okay, how many years did this guy get held back? Dipper thought.

    The large student smiled. “Can I talk to ya for a sec?”

    Marco raised an eyebrow as Star looked over at him. “Hey, it’s that guy.”

    “Who is he?” Misao asked.

    “Lars Vanderdud, he’s in a grade below us.” Roland explained.

    “And he’s a jerk,” Marco added ready to move if he did something.

    Jo swung one leg over the bench seat, watching Lars with narrowing eyes as Dipper got up.

    “Can I help you?” Dipper asked Lars.

    “You sure can,” Lars said with a big, toothy sneer. “I’m running behind!”

    For a man as big as he was, Lars was quick on the draw, quicker than Dipper or anyone could react, plowing his massive fist his stomach before he could jump back or raise his arms to block.

    His strength lived up to what he was advertising, though. Lars hit hard, the blow enough to lift Dipper off his feet, shove all the wind out of his lungs, and knock his Lumberjack hat off his head. As he crumpled like a crushed can, gasping, Lars caught the falling hat and slammed it down onto his shaved short head.

    “‘Cuz I’m a lumberjack! Get it?! HAHAHAHAHAHA!”

    Mabel shot to her feet as Misao recoiled with her hands over her mouth. “Dipper!”

    Roland was on his feet “What is wrong with you?!”

    Lars ignored him, laughing at his joke like it was the funniest thing he’d ever thought of. Around the cafeteria, other students watched the scene with mixed emotions ranging from surprise, confusion, or disgust.

    At her table in particular, Brittney Wong scowled at the scene like she did everything and everyone.

    Marco joined Mabel at Dipper’s side. “Hey, you all right?”

    Dipper coughed and tried to get up. “I think I’m gonna hurl…!”

    Lars laughed even harder. “Hey, don’t lose your lunch, kid!”

    Star jumped onto the table and aimed her wand at him. “How about eating a Narwhal for yours?!”

    “HAHAHAHAHAHA-!” Lars’ laughter came to an abrupt halt. Star’s threat didn’t land–it was Jo grabbing him by the collar of his gray t-shirt and yanking him down to her level that took him completely by surprise. “Huh?!”

    “Hey smooth-brain,” she snarled, her eyes filled with an avenging flame as she wound up her free hand–balled tightly into a fist, “You done goofed.”

    Her haymaker echoed across the cafeteria like a thunderclap and flung Lars’ so hard that the front of his t-shirt was ripped away in Jo’s hand. He crashed into another table, bounced off it, and tumbled across the floor to hit the cafeteria window with enough force to spread a web of cracks across it from floor to ceiling.

    It got quiet after that, the stillness broken a painfully long moment later by Lars’ whimpering sob of pain that at least reassured everyone that he was alive.

    Roland was frozen where he stood, mouth agape. Star had the biggest smile on her face.

    Marco and Mabel still like statues with Dipper slumped between them, their eyes wide. Mabel turned her head to look at Marco. “Whaaa…?”

    Misao’s head tilted, as she began calculating the force needed for a little girl like Jo to do that.

    One by one, everyone soon turned to look at Jo. She was still holding the torn off front of Lars’ shirt, and staring at her fist like she had no idea what just happened–because she didn’t.

    “What… the… fuck…?” She whispered, uncurling her fingers to look at her trembling palm.

    Finally a student, a sporty blonde girl with a cyan streak in her hair, called out. “Dude, Jo just Falcon Punched Lars’ face off!”

    The cafeteria erupted into cheers. Jo hardly heard it, she was still looking in a daze between her fist and what it destroyed when Roland grabbed her arm. “We need to go, now.”

    Without a word of protest, Jo agreed and the two fled for the doors, Misao and Star quickly behind them.

    Still struggling to breathe, Dipper picked up his hat, and put it back on. “Yeah... l-let’s get out of here…”

    Marco supported him on his right as Mabel took his left, and both led him towards the doors. “You okay?”

    “I’ll be fine, we gotta get out of here before a teacher comes yelling.” He trailed off into coughing again.

    As they walked past Lars towards the door, Mabel stopped and kicked the crying bully in the side, making him yelp again, before she followed them out.

    The group fled the cafeteria, and gathered behind the bleachers at the football field. Dipper leaned against Mabel now, a hand on his stomach like he was trying to keep his organs from spilling out. He coughed a few more times, and took a few long, deep breaths to steady himself.

    “Okay…” He stopped again to hold his breath and hopefully stop the painful spasming of his diaphragm, before he let it all out. “Jo, what in the world was that?”

    Jo raised her shoulders and shook her head. “I don’t know! I was just going to punch him until his face or my hand broke! I didn’t know I was going to knock him halfway to Genosha!”

    She was still gripping the front of Lars’ shirt, and only realized it then. She dropped it with a grunt of disgust. “Eugh!”

    Dipper lowered his head and groaned, part from pain and just as much from this frustrating new development. “Okay, so is this some kind of superpower Reddle has?”

    Jo shook her head again. “No way. She was a strong fighter, but she was only super strong when she was transformed. Not even G-Stag could just punch a guy like I laid Lars out.” She looked at her hands again, opening and closing them. “I didn’t even feel his weight when I yanked him down.”

    “Could the wish have given us superpowers besides the Beetleborg stuff?” Roland asked.

    Marco looked at him. “Do you feel particularly super strong?”

    Roland grabbed the back of the bleachers and tried lifting them with both hands. Straining a bit he looked at Marco and shook his head.

    Jo took the bar, and with ease lifted the entire back of the bleachers two feet off the ground.

    “Oh beans!” Mabel cried as she and Misao hopped back.

    “Nicht zu fassen!” The smaller girl gasped.

    “How are you doing that?” Marco asked.

    Jo set the bleachers back down. “I don’t know… but like, at the same time…?” She tried it again, and this time it didn’t budge. “… I know how to turn it off?”

    “Guys, it’s magic,” Star said, “It just works.”

    Dipper looked at Star. “You wouldn’t happen to know any magical experts who could lend a hand, would you?”

    Star nodded. “Well, there’s always Glossaryck.”

    “Who is as forthcoming and helpful with important, pertinent information as Yoda and Dumbledore combined,” Marco pointed out.

    Star, expression blank, stared at Marco. “I don’t know who either of those are.”

    “What about your mother, the Queen?” Misao asked.

    “Yeah!” Jo added.

    Just as quickly, Star raised her hands and crossed her arms. “Whoa, nonononono. There is no way I’m calling my Mom, I’m already on thin ice with her.”

    Marco nodded in agreement. “Yeah.”

    Dipper groaned again, more from the frustration than the pain this time at least. “Okay, but would Glossaryck tell her?”

    “Nope, he belongs to my Magic Instruction Book so he belongs to me,” Star reassured him.

    “Then maybe there’s a spell in there he can help teach, so you can, I don’t know… help figure out if Drew and Roland have superpowers, too… or to what extent these powers go to.” The last thing Dipper wanted on a growing list of things he couldn’t care less for in this situation, was for these superpowers to get out of control and maybe destroy all three of them.

    Leaning against Mabel, he coughed one more time and grumbled in pain as he found the strength to stand on his own. “Thanks, Mabel.”

    She stood close to him. “Can you stand?”

    Dipper nodded, but Mabel didn’t let go of his arm. Hearing sirens–likely an ambulance for Lars–he let out a sigh and looked at Jo. “Well, looks like we have to skip school today, because explaining this is going to be hard.”

    A powerful grimace twisted Jo’s face, and she looked away. “Well, this is great.”

    Palming his face, Roland sighed. “Well, is there anything else that can go wrong? Just so we can get it out of the way.”

    Everyone who had a phone on them heard theirs buzz loudly.

    Mabel pulled hers out. “Was that the group text…?” She looked at the sender. “It’s Janna!”

    She stared at the phone, as Marco, Roland, Jo, and Misao all looked at theirs.

    Reading it, Roland’s face fell. “I’m just not going to say anything again, ever.”

    Janna Banana said:
    Get 2 hillhurst, magnavores r here and dr00 is fighting them.

    = - = 19 = - =


    How you guys doing, anyway?​
     
  13. Threadmarks: Mock Battle
    The Ero-Sennin

    The Ero-Sennin Professional Shitposter

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    And another one.

    = - = 20 = - =

    |Mock Battle|

    The light dimmed, the ominous rumbling and bellowing from the organ faded into silence, and the house’s rumbling eased to stillness. His hands raised to shield his eyes, Drew lowered them and looked around to see if anything had changed. Aside from a few blown around boxes and packing materials for all the delivered electronics, there wasn’t a gleaming stainless steel bodied time machine anywhere in sight.

    “What happened?” His voice trembled with every word. “Where’s the Delorean?”

    Janna went to the living room window and looked out. “I don’t see it.”

    Drew faced Flabber, the phasm grimacing at the squiggly lines, planets, stars, and sparkles that angrily throbbed just above his fingertips. “You were able to summon it, weren’t you?!”

    Flabber looked up at Drew, in visible pain. “I put my all into that, kiddo! I dug down deep inside with my phasmtastic magic, but there was nothing to push out–not like with your powers!”

    Drew tensed. “No… no way, after what you did before? After all that light and noise just now you can’t do it?”

    Flabber shook his head, and looked about ready to cry. “I’m sorry! I don’t think I can summon anything from the movie like I did from the comic!”

    The tension built, spreading through Drew’s body. His hands shook, his fingers curling and clenching into fists. “Why not?”

    Flabber’s shoulders slumped in defeat. “I wish I knew.”

    Drew exploded. “Then what good are you if you can’t do something as simple as fix this?! They’re your powers, how can you not know how they work?!”

    As Flabber quailed from him, Janna looked out the window and grew a little surprised. “Hey, man, maybe you should chill out?”

    Drew whirled on her. “You shut up, this isn’t even any of your business!”

    Janna turned to face Drew, a low-temperature scowl on her face. “You ever talk to me like that again, I’ll make you regret it. Also? Those Magnavore guys are outside right now.”

    Drew rushed past Janna and shoved open the curtain to see for himself Jara, Noxic, and Typhus walking towards the house with their four scabs circling around them in an aggressive dance. “… Oh come on!”

    He looked over at Janna and summoned his Beetle Bonder. “Call the others!”

    “Whatever.” Janna pulled out her phone.

    Scowling at her, Drew held up the Beetle Bonder. “Beetle Blast!”

    Outside, Jara, Typhus and Noxic were almost to the front steps when the door was ripped open and the Blue Stingerborg emerged onto the porch, blue and black armor gleaming in the late morning sun as his hand drifted close to his holstered Input Magnum. The three stopped, and their Scabs froze with blades at the ready.

    “All right, not a step further!” He shouted.

    Noxic pointed at him. “Oh hey, it’s one of the Beetleborgs!”

    Jara tossed her short hair and huffed. “Just the one?”

    Drew already hated this situation. They were a joke against Jara, and now it was three on one against his favor plus the Scabs. “I have to buy time.”

    He grabbed the Input Magnum, but didn’t draw. The Scabs flinched, but didn’t attack. “One is more than enough for you creeps.”

    Drew could feel Jara rolling whatever counted for eyes behind her mask. “Please do not embarrass us or yourself.”

    She gestured with an open hand to him. “You are a child playing at being a hero, adorned in armor too big for you. You have no proper stance so your form is atrocious, you attack like you are copying what you see on TV movies with a weapon that you have no idea how to hold. You don’t know how to guard, and you probably make a fist with your thumb tucked under your fingers.”

    A cool wind for Los Angeles blew across the Hillhurst vineyard in the long silence that followed.

    If Noxic had any reason to breathe, it’d be to suck in air through his mechanical teeth.

    Janna, who had just finished sending her text message, whistled. “Dang.”

    Typhus looked between Jara and Drew, and let out a quiet “Oof.”

    Drew, whatever spirit he had almost obliterated, managed to keep the façade up. “That… doesn’t change anything.”

    “I did not expect it to, I am only stating facts.” Jara gestured to him. “Lucky for you, being such an abysmal fighter is good. I have no interest in wasting my time destroying you.”

    She swept her hand over to Noxic. “He will do it, instead.”

    Noxic pumped his fists. “Yeah, Typhus is gonna-!” He stopped, then whirled on Jara. “Whoa, hold on, I’m gonna fight him?!”

    Drew recoiled. “Wait, what?”

    Typhus laughed. “Yeah, baby! We get to see Noxic put up his dukes!”

    Noxic gestured to himself, his metal dreadlocks rattling loudly. “You’re really gonna let me at ‘em?!”

    Jara made a sweeping gesture towards Drew. “Go crazy.”

    Steam shot out of Noxic’s ears as he pumped his arms “All right! This is my moment!” He turned and pointed at Drew. “I was gonna go easy on ya back when I thought you and yer pals were robots, but now the gloves would be off if I had any! I hope you’re ready to go!”

    “They can’t be serious…” Drew was struggling with this. “Hey! What’s this all about?!”

    Jara chuckled. “Noxic is not exactly the best fighter. He is more your speed, this way you have a fair shot at winning, yes?”

    Noxic was doing stretches, and limbering up. “Hey, I can fight!”

    Jara’s tone was cheeky as she replied. “You spend so much time sending robots to fight for you, I am wondering if you even know how to make a fist.”

    “I do!” He just learned how to, at least.

    Drew couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Was Jara seriously delegating a weaker opponent to him… out of pity?

    “I am only saying. You need practice, so go fight him while he’s weak and by himself here.”

    Anger washed over Drew, and without a word of warning he pulled the Input Magnum and fired at the Magnavores–specifically at the Scabs accompanying them and blowing holes through their heads.

    Another chuckle left the masked woman, unaffected by the assault, as the Scabs disintegrated around them. “And there’s the bell.”

    Noxic was more than ready. “Here goes!”

    Raising his right hand, he unleashed a storm of electricity from his fingertips for Drew. He missed, Drew diving out of the way of the attack that left a shower of sparks dancing across the mansion’s porch and steps.

    As Drew vaulted over the porch railing and landed, Noxic switched hands, bringing his right down to his side and raising his left at Drew to fire more electricity at him. “Take this, you mook!”

    The bolts slashed across Drew’s armor, the resulting explosions shoving him back against the porch. “Is he just toying with me, or is he actually weak?”

    It hadn’t bowled him over like Jara had. In fact, his armor wasn’t reporting any damage. Pushing himself off the wall as more electricity showered him, he aimed right back at Noxic and fired, hitting him several times in the chest and sending him flat on his back. Jara and Typhus both managed to jump out of the way, and landed clear of the blast zone.

    “Hey, Noxic! You okay?!” Typhus yelled.

    “Ohhh… that hurt! That hurt!” Noxic said as he rolled over from side to side.

    Drew aimed the Input Magnum at him. “Well there’s more where that came from!”

    Before he could fire, Noxic shot up into the sitting position and threw a handful of knives into Drew’s chest. “Gotcha!”

    The knives smacked into Drew’s armored chest and exploded, sending him hurtling through the air.

    “AHHHH!” Landing hard, he rolled and looked up just in time to see Noxic on his feet and running at him, electricity wrapped around his fist.

    At the last possible second he rolled out of the way, a roar of thunder going off where Noxic’s fist came down. Still prone on the ground, he hit 8-1-8 on the Input Magnum and fired a stream of flame at Noxic that scattered away before it connected.

    When the flames stopped, Drew found Noxic hiding behind a red umbrella at the end of a long telescoping staff. “Heh, I can protect myself from those kinds of attacks, too. Pretty cool, right?”

    Drew got up and looked at the weapon. Noxic never had a weapon like that–no, don’t think about it! Focus!

    Closing the umbrella and twirling the staff between his hands in a circle around him, Noxic leveled it on Drew and charged.

    Drew skipped back when Noxic thrust the weapon at him, wielding it with a recklessness that reminded him of their fight with Jara. Unlike that fight, he was having an easier time avoiding Noxic’s attacks–deflecting two with the back of his hands and forearms, before a third hit caught him in his stomach and staggered him.

    Grunting, Drew raised the Input Magnum to fire another stream of flame, but Noxic knocked his aim downward with the staff, before twirling it around and slashing him upwards across his chest. Laughing as Drew stumbled back, Noxic raised the weapon and chased him down.

    Typhus folded his arms and shook his head. “Hey, something about all this seems wrong, baby.”

    Jara looked at him. “That being?”

    “Hmmm… I know! We ain’t got popcorn for this!”

    She barked out a laugh.

    Running at Drew, Noxic swung on him like his weapon was a halberd, the slow, wide swings even easier to dodge and letting Drew open up some distance. He fired off several shots back at Noxic, but the umbrella opened and the Magnavore was propelled above the beams. Closing it, he tumbled end over end and swung down–only to be blocked by the back of Drew’s arm.

    “Haha, this is pretty cool, kid!” Noxic cheered before he pulled the umbrella back and threw several knives at Drew in the face to separate them.

    Drew managed to escape the blades and their explosions, and with a frustrated yell snapped off several beam shots at Noxic that the Magnavore machine man deflected by spinning the staff in front of him. “Is this some kind of joke to you?!”

    “Nah, not until there’s a…” Running at Drew underneath his Magnum shots, Noxic sent electricity down his arm and connected an uppercut to Drew’s chin, sending him flying towards the side of Hillhurst. “… Punchline!”

    “Ugh!” Like a ragdoll, the Blue Stingerborg hit the side of the house just below the roof, and fell to the ground.

    “Aw yeah, go Noxic!” Typhus cheered with the blow.

    “You are doing great! I take back half of the things I’ve said about you!” Jara added.

    Noxic looked over at her. “Hey, hey! What about the other half?!”

    Jara looked over at Drew, who was slowly getting back up again. “I’ll let you know when he’s done.”

    Inside of the house, Flabber was chomping on his nails. “Oh man, Drew’s not doing too hot out there!”

    Janna peeked out the window, and watched as Noxic ran up and punched Drew back into the ground just as he was getting to his knee. “Huh, can’t you do anything to help?”

    Flabber thought about his options. “I could try to send out the guys, but…”

    Both he and Janna looked over into the organ room, where Mums, Fangula, and Frankenbeans were having the time of their life watching Drew get slapped around by Noxic.

    “Yeah!” Mums cheered. “Zap him again! Zap him again!”

    Frankenbeans was on his feed, shaking his fists to the ceiling. “Smash him on head, make mean Beetle boy go ‘Ow!’”

    “Just don’t cook him too well! I like my meal bloody raw!” Fangula quipped.

    Janna looked back at Flabber. “Any other options?”

    Flabber thought about it. “There’s Ghoulum-”

    “MEH,” bellowed the statue in the living room.

    “How about you? You’re magical and junk, you could go out there and help.”

    Flabber sighed. “No can do, I can’t use my magic to hurt anyone… even bad guys.”

    “That’s kind of a cop-out, man.”

    “What about you, can you help?”

    Janna thought about going out to fight the Magnavores. “… I’m gonna opt out.”

    “Now who’s copping out, hm?”

    “Well, the only weapon I have is my razor sharp wit, and when it comes to actually fighting? I’m worse off than Drew.” With that in mind, she looked back out at him and grew thoughtful. “Hm.”

    Drew blocked Noxic’s umbrella once more with the back of his arm, sparks coming off his armor, before he’s punched twice in the face then kicked in the chest. He stumbled back, his footing precarious, before Noxic aimed the end of the umbrella at his chest and fired bolts of energy. The shots hit, exploding across his armor and throwing him through the air to land face-down.

    Noxic lowered his unoccupied hand, then scratched the side of his head, rustling his metallic locks. “Wow, he really does suck. Hey, kid, you dead yet?”

    “If he’s not, give him a chance to get back up. He deserves that much,” Jara called.

    Face down in the dirt again, wearing the armor of his favorite hero, fighting the enemy he brought into their world out of a stupid, childish wish. Drew laid there on the ground, heaving a sigh.

    Okay, now what?

    He looked towards Noxic. I’m not doing anything to him, and there’s still Jara and Typhus waiting to be tagged in.

    He looked towards Hillhurst. Flabber’s useless, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Janna hasn’t called anyone.

    “Hey, I think he’s movin’,” Noxic said.

    Because I messed up. As usual.

    “Give him a chance to get up, baby,” Typhus suggested.

    Because all I do is mess up.

    Jara let out a dark laugh. “Yes, let’s be fair to the poor boy.”

    And now the only reason I’m still alive is because they’re literally playing with me.

    He sighed.

    Like they have all day to mess around…

    He looked towards Hillhurst, and saw Janna in the window, typing on her phone, her eyes darting between him and her screen. His eyes widened.

    … Or they’re waiting for something.

    Drew moved slowly, pushing himself onto his hands, then his feet. Behind his helmet, on the other hand, his eyes were racing, through the functionality of his suit, and found exactly what he was looking for. With the motion of his eyes, he brought up a text box and began hitting commands.

    Noxic hopped from one foot to the other, when the Stingerborg finally rose. “All right, you’re back on your feet! Ready to wrap this up?”

    Drew holstered the Input Magnum, and raised his hands to make a T. “Time out!”

    Noxic stopped. “Wait… huh? Time out?” He looked at Jara. “Can he call time out?”

    Typhus looked at Jara as well. She didn’t particularly care at this moment, and shrugged her shoulders. “Do what you like.”

    Turning to face Drew again, Noxic folded his arms. “Okay, what’s the time out about? You got something to say?”

    Behind the mask, Drew scanned a keyboard with his eyes, typing out a message. “Actually, I do.”

    Jara paid him somewhat more attention. “Hm?”

    “You’re right, I’m not much of a fighter–this is my second day actually doing it.”

    Noxic shook his head. “Jeez kid, if you’re this new then why are you here? Go home and read some comic books or whatever.”

    “Believe me… I want to quit and go home,” he admitted as he finished the message. “I was not ready for this, I didn’t even think about the consequences of my actions. You guys are super strong and I’m not in any place to fight you.”

    Janna peeked out the window. “What’s he doing?”

    Flabber shook his head. “I don’t know…”

    Janna’s phone chimed at that moment, and just seconds later it chimed again. “… Huh.”

    Jara, hearing this, let out a sigh. “Is there bathroom break between here and the point?”

    Drew held up a hand to her. Behind the blue mask of the Stingerborg, his eyes flew back and forth across menus. “I have a point. As much as I don’t want to be here, and as much as this is my fault? I’m not going anywhere.”

    “Your fault?” Noxic asked.

    “Yeah, my fault. I’m the reason you guys got pulled here into this world.”

    Noxic stumbled back. “Wait, you’re the reason we’re here?!”

    Typhus and Jara looked at each other in surprise, then at Drew. The latter brandished her blade. “You had better not be lying!”

    “I’m not!” Drew held out his hand to stay their wrath. “I wanted to become a Beetleborg, so I didn’t have to be myself!”

    He looked at the back of his hand, and turned it over to see his palm. “I’m a loser kid, who can’t even be an example for his little sister because she’s better at everything I can do. All I really know are comic books, and the heroes in them… no more, no less.” He clenched it into afist. “That’s all I have to bring to the table.”

    Typhus looked at Jara. “Then he’ll tell us how he got us here, then?”

    Jara agreed. “Yes. We definitely need him alive.” She looked at Noxic. “Enough! I will finish dealing with him! We don’t need to bring anything else back to Vexor, today.”

    Drew grew alarmed. Vexor’s here, too?!

    He held his hand out to them again. “Wait!”

    “Your time out is almost over!” Jara snapped back.

    Drew agreed. “Yeah, that’s why I have one more thing to say: All I know are comic books, and the heroes in them, and they’ve taught me that times like this, where the bad guys are on the verge of winning… is the best part.”

    Jara paused, before her danger senses suddenly went haywire. “Wait…!”

    A shadow flitted over her, and she looked up to see Star falling towards her, the cheek marks on her face glowing as she held the wand above her head to swing down like a sword.

    “THERMONUCLEAR BUTTERFLY BLAST!”

    There was a flash, then stillness.

    An instant later, a rainbow-colored column of light shot to the clear blue sky–followed by a massive butterfly-filled explosion that threw Jara, Typhus, and Noxic into the air. Drew himself was swept away by the blast, but caught himself against the side of the house as the shockwave whipped past him

    Landing unharmed on the scorched earth of ground zero, Star looked at Drew. “Hey! Are you all right? Thanks for the heads up!”

    Drew was relieved. “I’m just glad I was able to sync my suit to my phone, and send that message.”

    He and Star turned to face the three Magnavores, scattered across the smoldering vineyard. As they did, a large pink cloud descended from where Star had fallen from, Marco, the Red Strikerborg, and the Green Hunterborg dismounting from the front, while Dipper, Mabel, and Misao hopped off the back and headed inside the house.

    Star reached up and petted the cloud. “Thanks, Cloudy!”

    A green-eyed face appeared in the cloud and smiled. “It was my pleasure, Star!” It replied before vanishing.

    Roland joined Drew’s side. “You all right, man?”

    “I’m fine. These guys were waiting for you to get here, and I wasn’t about to let them do that for free.”

    Jo was more critical. “What were you doing here, sneaking off to Hillhurst?”

    Drew looked at her. “It doesn’t matter.”

    Her tone was jagged and short. “You tried to undo the wish, didn’t you?”

    Drew fully faced her. “I just… wanted to fix this.”

    Jo pointed at him. “No, you were trying to get out of your mess by probably doing something stupid!”

    “Well it doesn’t matter, it didn’t work, so guess what? You’ll be able to be a freaking Beetleborg until it kills us!”

    Jo recoiled, taken off guard by Drew planting his feet and firing back.

    Roland wasn’t having any of it. “Both of you stop, right now!” He imposed himself between them, arms outstretched. “It can wait for after we deal with the Magnavores!”

    Drew took a deep breath and fell back. “Right. Let’s do what we did before, and support Star and Marco.”

    Inside the house, Dipper Flabber as Mabel and Misao went to Janna. “Okay, what happened?”

    Janna, who was not a narc, looked over at Flabber, who was. “Well, Drew tried to wish for a time machine, so he could go back and undo the wish.”

    Dipper froze in place for an instant, his autonomic nervous system shutting down non-vital functions from how bad of an idea that was, but recovered. “It didn’t work.”

    Flabber shrugged his shoulders. “Nope! Turns out I can’t summon things from copies of Back to the Future!”

    Janna leaned against the windowsill, her expression desolate as she looked out towards the unattainable dream. “Imagine that, we can’t all get what we want from the magical wish-granting Phasm.”

    Dipper was relieved to hear that nothing had gone terribly wrong. He could focus on more important things. “Is there anything you can do to help out?”

    Janna looked back at him. “Not much. He can’t hurt anyone, even bad guys.”

    “Why?” Dipper asked Flabber.

    The phasm looked at his hands. “I made a promise not to hurt anyone with my powers.”

    “Promised who?” Dipper asked.

    “Doctor Hillhurst, the guy who asked me to keep an eye on the guys. I can’t go back on my word, he made me promise him on his deathbed.”

    Dipper was impressed. “And you’ve kept it, to this day?”

    “Well there was a forty year stretch where I had no choice, but… yeah! Doc Hillhurst said I was the only one who could do it, so I’ve been doing it with bells on!”

    Interesting, how did Doc Hillhurst manage to do that? Dipper thought.

    Mabel, looking out the window with Janna and Misao, interrupted his train of thought. “You’re gonna need to do something, the Magnavores are getting back up.”

    = - = 20 = - =

    Almost there.
     
  14. Threadmarks: No Holds Barred
    The Ero-Sennin

    The Ero-Sennin Professional Shitposter

    Joined:
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    Three to go

    = - = 21 = - =

    |No Holds Barred|

    With an electronic groan, Noxic rebooted and found himself draped over one of the bushes in the middle of the vineyard. Doing a quick system check, he found numerous reports of severe damage, but it wasn’t something a few days in the shop couldn’t fix–if he had a shop, which was probably still in the Nightmare Realm… with all of his Combat Mecha.

    “Aw man, I’m gonna have to start all over.” He struggled to get up. “Hopefully little Macho won’t trash everything while I’m gone.”

    He sat up. “Hey Typhus, you alive?”

    Typhus, suspended upside down in another bush, squirmed. “Anybody get the number of that bomb truck?”

    “It hit like a frickin’ B-52!” Noxic rose to his feet. “You good to go?”

    Typhus tumbled out of the bush and got up, untangling his cape. “Yeah, I think so-”

    “Shooting Star Explosion!” A trio of spinning stars smacked into Typhus and exploded. He crashed back through the bush.

    “What the?!” Noxic faced Star, and saw Marco coming towards him. “Aw man…!”

    “HEEEYAH!” Jumping as he yelled his kiai, Marco spun his entire body around and lashed out with a kick. It connected before he could block and sent his head spinning around on his neck.

    Marco landed in a three-point crouch next to Star. “I’ll take care of Noxic!”

    Star held her wand to her chest and hopped in place. “I’ve got the meaty mutant guy, Typhoid.”

    “Typhus,” Marco corrected, springing off after Noxic.

    Star walked towards Typhus. “Right, we had a Typhoid outbreak in Mewni just before my birthday. That’s why it was on my mind.”

    The Beetleborgs rushed up the path to cut Typhus and Noxic off. Drew called over to them. “We’re going to soften them up for you!”

    Star waved. “Okay~!”

    Roland ran just ahead of Drew and Jo. “It still freaks me out that he can hit like that!”

    Drew nodded back to his friend. “I know!” The three stopped at the row Noxic and Typhus’ were scrambling in, and readied their Input Magnums.

    His head still spinning, Noxic caught it between his hands and made it stop… right in time to see Drew, Jo, and Roland. “Uh oh!”

    “Dust these guys!” On Jo’s shout they opened fire, battering both Magnavores.

    Noxic stumbled back and raised his arms to shield his head in vain from the beam assault. “Gah! Ow! Hey! I’m already! Ack! Smashed up!”

    Grabbing him by the shoulder, Typhus yanked Noxic back and put himself between his battered buddy and the belligerent Beetleborgs. “I got you, baby!”

    “Keep shooting!” Drew yelled, and the shower of fire increased. Even with chunks coming off his body in sprays of dark, oily fluid, Typhus laughed off the beams crashing against him, and charged straight into the barrage.

    “You’re gonna have to do better than that!” He jumped and drew his left arm back, the red that covered his fist and forearm spreading up the rest of the otherwise green limb and causing it to swell with muscle. Roaring, Typhus came down and punched the ground in the middle of the Beetleborgs.

    The ground exploded beneath his fist, flinging all three of them away from the Magnavore monster.

    Roland landed on his feet and slid backward, just outside the Hillhurst-high cloud of dust. “Holy crap…!”

    A beeping alarm from his suit warned him just in time, and he dove and rolled out of the way of the charging Magnavore. “Whoa!”

    Typhus turned around and bore down on him. “The only good beetle’s a squashed beetle, baby!”

    In his haste to get at Roland, Typhus had forgotten about Star–who’d used a quick jumping spell to get above him.

    “Rainbow Avalanche!” With her command, the wand spewed rays of rainbows that battered Typhus’ back and head, slowing him down enough for Roland to scramble clear of his path.

    When he stopped, Star landed in front of him and spun around in place to build momentum. “Laser Beam Blast!”

    She swung the wand up as the spell fired at the end of her spin, a solid laser of magical energy slashing up the front of Typhus’ body and making him stagger back.

    The nasty scorch across his chest left by the beam didn’t matter much, as Typhus’ red eyes shone brightly. “Aw yeah, baby!”

    The whale-like top of his head opened like a mouth, revealing the muzzle of a weapon and unleashed a barrage of energy. Star threw herself out of the way of the attack, first hopping, then flipping back to escape the bolts. Laughing, Typhus turned his body to keep shooting at her.

    “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!” Star ran as fast as she could to stay ahead of the bolts. “Bulla Spiro!”

    Before his fire could converge on her, her wand flashed and she jumped a final time–a bubble-shaped shield encasing her and bouncing Typhus’ fire.

    Typhus stopped shooting. “Huh, neat trick!”

    “Thanks-” Star was cut off by an avalanche of beams from Typhus. “HEY!”

    Typhus laughed. “Let’s see how much it can take, baby!”

    Star pressed her wand against the sphere, keeping it up. “I am not your baby!”

    While Star endured Typhus’ barrage, Jo got back up on her feet and looked around. She had been thrown into the vineyard by the force of Typhus’ blow. “Dang it, wait ‘til I get my hands on him…”

    The sound of clanging caught her attention, and Noxic’s shouting. “Ow! Hey! Hold still you little-!”

    “HEEYAH!”

    A bell-like ringing echoed from the force of Marco’s blow connecting with Noxic’s head.

    “Aw come on!”

    She looked over to find Noxic reeling from Marco, his head spinning again. The teen karate expert was staying light on his feet and swatting at the mechanical Magnavore with quick punches and backhands.

    “Ack! Ow! I’m getting-!” Noxic managed to stop his head, only to get slapped again. “Really tired!” He swung at him, missed, and got kicked in the stomach. “Of you hittin’ me like this!”

    Noxic swung the staff hard to win some separation from Marco. Gripping the weapon tighter, he thrust the umbrella end for the young man’s heart. “KNOCK IT OFF!”

    Marco cleared the wild stab with an Olympian high jump, ducked under the shaft of the weapon, and got in close. His first punch folded Noxic forward, and the rapidfire jabs that followed lifted him off his feet for a brief moment.

    Ignoring the sting of his knuckles from pummeling a robot man, Marco jumped and spin-kicked him in the chest.

    The blow knocked Noxic against the row of bushes they were tangled up in. Marco landed, and set a low fighting stance, his left foot and hand leading. “What’s the matter, tough guy? I’m just a regular ol’ human. No armor, no fancy weapons! You can’t handle any of this?!”

    Noxic slumped back against the bush. “I don’t know…” He thrust his left hand out, pointing it at Marco. “Can you handle getting struck by lightning?!”

    Before Marco could react, Jo stepped in front of him and took the full brunt of the attack. Unimpeded by the bolts arcing over her body, she drew a bead with her Input Magnum and fired a steady stream of bolts into Noxic, blasting him through the bush row.

    Noxic tumbled back through the bushes and crouched. He twirled the staff around off his back to open the umbrella and deflect Jo’s barrage of fire.

    Marco rested a hand on Jo’s shoulder. “Cover me and get your Beetle Battler ready, I’m gonna get rid of that umbrella!”

    “Got it!” Jo called back and kept shooting.

    Running ahead down the vineyard row, Marco turned and leaped over the bushes, landing right beside Noxic.

    “No you don’t!” Noxic closed the umbrella and swung the staff. Marco split jumped over it.

    “Hey!” He spun it to try to catch Marco, but his target backpedaled. “Hold still you meatbag!”

    Steam pouring from his dreadlocks, Noxic stopped spinning the staff and thrust it for Marco’s chest. He missed, Marco spinning to avoid the strike and hook his arm around the shaft of the spear. With another twist, he yanked the weapon out of Noxic’s hands and kicked him in the chest, knocking him back.

    “Hey, give that back!” Noxic yelled at Marco.

    Marco refused, turning the other way and twirling the staff around over his head to clock Noxic across the face with the staff’s looped end–making his head spin again.

    “Ahhhhh! Will you stop doing that?!” Noxic grabbed his head, stopping it facing the wrong way. He saw Jo, aiming her spinning Striker Plasmar at his back. “Oh this is gonna suck.”

    “Yeah it is!” Marco dove out of the line of fire.

    “TORNADO SPARK!” Jo called out, firing a solid, rotating quartet of beams from the Beetle Battler that struck Noxic in the back.

    “GAAAAAAAAAAH!” Pushed by the beam, Noxic tried to twist to escape it, but quickly the ion energy melted and punched through his back and out his chest. “AHHHHHHHHH!”

    Marco pushed himself up and looked back just in time to see the beam pass through Noxic. “Whoa.”

    At the house, Flabber winced and looked away as Mabel and Misao gasped in shock at the brutality of Marco and Jo’s teamwork. “Oooh… that’s gotta hurt.”

    Janna gripped the windowsill, grinning. “Fricken savage.”

    Groans of rose from the monsters watching the fight on TV.

    “Come on, who doesn’t know how to keep their head on straight like that?!” Mums demanded.

    Frankenbeans bellowed and slammed his fists on the couch. “Not fair! Not fair!”

    Fangula sipped the bloody mary he was enjoying with the fight and sighed. “What happened to the good old days, where children were terrified of monsters and hid under their blankets?”

    Dipper gave the monster peanut gallery a caustic look, then returned his attention to the fight. “They’re doing way better than before.”

    Mabel agreed. “They’re making the dream work with their teamwork.”

    Something about it had Dipper bothered, though. “They’re almost doing too good.”

    Stumbling from one foot to the other, Noxic stopped and turned his head completely back around. Turning around slowly, he pointed at Jo. “You… two things. One. I’m a robot, so this is only an inconvenience. Two. Do you have ANY idea how long it’s gonna take for me to repair this?!”

    Noxic fell face-first to the ground, rendering his question rhetorical.

    Marco walked over to Jo, and threw the staff a few rows away. “Good job.”

    Jo let out a short laugh. “No need to thank me, I’m just happy that I can finally do something!”

    Both heard the sound of Typhus’ energy barrage and looked over. They found the remaining Magnavore battering Star’s shield with gunfire. Wide-eyed, Marco bolted ahead without another thought. “Hang on, Star!”

    Unaware of the approaching cavalry, Typhus laughed and kept blasting away. “You can’t hide in that bubble all day, baby!”

    “I can too, and don’t call me baby, that’s gross!” Star called back.

    “Hey!” Drew shouted from behind him.

    Typhus turned around, the gun in his head still shooting. “Yeah, what?!”

    The energy bolts smacked into Drew, and he stumbled back. “Gah, he hits so hard…!”

    The distraction gave Roland the opening he needed as he hit the keys on his Input Magnum. “0-1-0! Freezing Magnum!”

    He squeezed the trigger, sending streams of super cold air that washed over Typhus and began to freeze him solid. “Got him!”

    Before he could change the modes on his Magnum and take advantage, the red onTyphus’s left arm spread up his shoulder and across to the other arm, and he flexed both with a roar, shattering the ice encasing him into a cloud of powdered snow. He lunged forward again, reaching Roland and delivering a punch that drove him straight into the ground. Sweeping around, he caught Drew with a lariat.

    “Ugh!” Drew grunted, feeling that through the armor, before he was sent flying off Typhus’ arm. “AHHHH!”

    “I got you!” Star called out as she fired a spell in front of her, conjuring a bed that Drew landed on. As he bounced off, she jumped onto it and used it to race in front of Typhus.

    “Ha! Hope you can take a punch!” Typhus warned and tried to take Star’s head off with a right hook.

    The far more nimble Princess flowed under it like a river around a boulder, and side stepped two more hard punches, the last one making her hair whip in the opposite direction from the air pressure. Still inside his reach, she jammed her wand in Typhus’s chest.

    “CORGI SHOTGUN BLAST!” She called out, and Typhus was clobbered by a spread of magical corgis that blew him back from her.

    Mabel practically thrust herself out the window when she saw that attack. “THAT IS THE BEST SPELL EVER-!”

    Dipper and Misao hauled her back inside, before she could distract Star or get hit by a stray corgi.

    With Typhus on the ropes, Star spun on one foot with the grace of a ballerina, and stopped to aim the wand at Noxic with both hands. “Super Mega Narwhal Blast!”

    The wand did as commanded, spewing a stream of Narwhals. Facing the onslaught, the red spread from his arms down the coiled green organs protruding from Typhus’ chest, and he unleashed a storm of punches, deflecting the cascading cetaceans away before they reached him.

    Star let out a gasp. “Whaaaat?!”

    Grabbing a last one by its horn, he swung it around and threw it back at Star. “Catch this narwhal!”

    “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!” Star dispelled it fast as she could.

    Right through the puff of smoke the banished narwhal left behind, Typhus lunged to punch a hole through her stomach. “Now catch these hands!”

    The Hunter Claw came down hard on the fist, stopping Typhus from connecting. Roland forced Typhus’s arm down, struggling against his might. “Star! Something that can hold him in place!”

    Star’s mind raced before she pointed her wand at Typhus’s cape. “Surprise Cape Betrayal!”

    Roland looked at her as she got the spell off. “That is not a real spell!”

    “It is, I just made it up!” Star yelped back.

    Roland did a double-take. “What?!”

    His footing suddenly slipped and Typhus swung him off his feet into Star, sending them both tumbling away.

    The moment they hit the ground, Typhus’ cape went rogue–wrapping around his arms and legs in a valiant effort to restrain him. “What the heck?! C’mon, this ain’t the time for static cling, baby!”

    Star sat up and pointed at Typhus. “I told you!”

    Roland looked from her to the struggling Magnavore. “How does your magic even work?”

    Getting up, Drew shook the cobwebs out of his head and pulled the slide on the Input Magnum. “Okay, for future reference. Do not let Typhus ever land a hit on you!” He hit the keypad. “3-0-5, Birdlime Magnum!”

    He opened fire, the beams fired by the Input Magnum becoming sticky, white glue-like strands that splattered all over Typhus’ legs and arms, causing him to stick to his cape and to the ground. Spinning around, he howled at Drew, only to catch more of it across his mouth and face.

    Over at the house, Dipper, Mabel, and Misao grimaced in disgust. Janna chuckled perversely.

    Typhus struggled and managed to claw the gunk from the lower half of his face. “You kids are startin’ to tick me off with this silly gimmick crap!”

    Drew entered 9-6-4 in the Input Magnum. “Like Jara said, I am an abysmal fighter. So rather than have a nice and fair fight where I’ll get stomped? I’ll fight as ugly and dirty as I need to win. 9-6-4, Crashing Magnum.”

    He pointed the Input Magnum at Typhus and squeezed the trigger. The stream of rapid-fire energy bolts from the gun showered the Magnavore, ripping through the Birdlime, and tearing chunks off his body. Five seconds of sustained fire later, Typhus dropped to one knee, viscera and ichor dripping from his wounded body.

    Janna whistled. “Sad kid’s not playing around.”

    Dipper tightened his fists and nodded. “C’mon, you got this!”

    “Heh… heheheh…” Typhus’s baritone chuckle rumbled from his mouth as Drew lowered the Input Magnum. “When you put it like that, kid? You’re not a bad fighter at all.”

    Drew quickly raised his weapon back up in surprise. Typhus’ injuries were closing up with every word he spoke. “He can regenerate?!”

    “Anything goes in a real fight!” Typhus yelled as the mouth atop his head opened and a long white whale bone-shaped sword shot from it at Drew, hitting him in the chest and knocking him down.

    Alarms blared in Drew’s ears, that one had done real damage. “Ugh, come on!”

    Typhus got up and caught his sword as it returned to him. “Including hitting a guy while he’s down!”

    He turned to point his sword at where Star and Roland had gone down, but a flash of red made him stop and face Jo and Marco.

    “Marco, go make sure Star and Roland are okay.” Jo started towards Typhus. “I got this.”

    Typhus laughed. “You got this?”

    Jo cracked her knuckles. “Just like I got your windup wuss friend!”

    Typhus’s eyes flashed red, and his body shuddered in furious anticipation. “Then you’re gonna get it!”

    He charged Jo, holding his sword out to his side. Raising it the second Jo was in range, he swung down to cut deep into Jo’s shoulder and through her chest.

    Jo’s hand shot up and caught the weapon mid-swing–stopping it cold. The shockwave of the stopped blow traveled over her and kicked up waves of dust away from her feet.

    Typhus tried to pull his weapon back, but Jo’s grip was immovable. “Dang, baby! You’re almost strong as me!”

    Jo let out a sharp chuckle. “Thanks.”

    She snapped the weapon in half. “And don’t call me ‘baby.’”

    Star, back on her feet, cheered. “Tell him, sister!”

    Jo punched Typhus’ jaw, leaning with all her strength into it, and in the next instant, he was gone. His body rocketed away from Jo, leaving a trail of spreading condensation rings that ended in an explosion of dirt and rock when his body impacted and took off the top of a hill.

    The sound his body made hitting it took a full second to reach the house.

    “Yowza!” Flabber exclaimed. “Did you see that?!”

    Janna’s eyes trailed from Jo to the distant hill. “That was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen, and this fight’s already been one of those things I can die happy on.”

    “Right?!” Mabel agreed. “Go Beetleborgs!”

    “… What the fuck,” Dipper blurted out. Misao was speechless beside him.

    Drew was having trouble understanding what he just saw. “… Jo?”

    Jo lowered her fist and nodded in satisfaction. “So, the super strength works even with the Beetleborg Suit. Awesome!”

    Drew rushed to her side. “Super strength? What are you talking about?”

    Jo looked at him. “I have super strength now. I don’t need to be transformed to use it, either.”

    Roland made his way over with Marco and Star, and caught the tail end of Jo’s reply. “Yeah, she completely destroyed Lars Vanderdud in the lunchroom with it.”

    Drew did a double-take. “You got into a fight at school?!”

    “Being really generous calling it a fight,” Star suggested.

    Drew looked towards Hillhurst. “Dipper! Why does Jo have super strength?!”

    “Oh yeah, I forgot to ask Flabber about that. Gimme a second,” Dipper called back.

    A pause followed, the group outside barely hearing some hurried back and forth, before Dipper answered. “Flabber says it might be leftover power from the wish that settled in you, to make up for what you didn’t ask for with the wish!”

    “That makes sense!” Mabel called out.

    Drew looked at himself. “Great, we have actual superpowers on top of these?”

    Roland shook his head. “Maybe, I don’t have super strength.”

    Drew hummed. “You probably can only activate it when you’re really emotionally triggered?”

    “That also makes sense!” Mabel shouted.

    “If that’s so, then where’s…?” Jo trailed off, and looked past Drew and Roland. “Oh great, I knew we missed one.”

    Drew and Roland looked back, Star and Marco following their gazes up the path.

    = - = 21 = - =

    I like writing all out battles, I guess.
     
  15. Threadmarks: Bullet With Butterfly Wings
    The Ero-Sennin

    The Ero-Sennin Professional Shitposter

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    Two more


    = - = 22 = - =

    |Bullet With Butterfly Wings|

    Star dropping down on her with the Thermonuclear Butterfly Blast was the last thing Jara saw, before the flash of light and overwhelming force flung her into darkness. Inside of the instantaneous oblivion, Jara was a weightless entity in the void, adrift in her own jumbled memories, leaving her body to crawl back towards awakening.

    “That girl…” She was taken off-guard by the dream-like echo of her voice. “That girl with the cheek marks… that magic…”

    “A Butterfly!”

    She ground her teeth. “What is a butterfly?”

    “A potent magic user, one that may be very useful to us.”

    “A potent magical user? Like you are describing a mild annoyance!” Her voice’s edge sharpened. “That spell, that overwhelming power… that was no small thing! It was like…!”

    Her body was without warning hammered by winds that swirled from every direction, ranging from bone-chilling cold to skin-boiling hot. Jara was on her feet and alert, but with one look around, she saw she was no longer in the Hillhurst vineyard. “No… oh no.”

    She recognized this place, the edge of a sheer cliff. The sky was black, illuminated by lightning that was frozen across the sky rather than flashing, and fire burned to the horizon in every direction.

    Long, stretched out shadows streaked the illuminated ground, burned into it by the light, the shadows were cast by scorched statues–some humanoid, some monstrous, all frozen in action poses. The ones closest to the cliff were running towards it, hands raised as if wielding weapons, while others further back were either raising their limbs to guard, or turning to flee.

    “No… no… no…!” Jara repeated, looking further up the cliff.

    On its very edge, a final figure stood with an upraised hand. From its back, six golden streaks of light spread across the sky. Jara stared at its face, seeing four points of light–its eyes, and its cheeks–illuminating a cherubic smile before there was nothing but a golden light brighter than a hundred suns.

    Jara snapped awake, feeling like a thunderclap had gone off in her head. She let out a half-growl, half-scream and surged onto her feet. She was still alive, scorched, but intact.

    The thunderclap wasn’t in her head. She looked for the source of the racket–a hilltop just blew up… and Typhus was lying in the center of its crater. “What?”

    She looked over for Noxic and found him lying on the ground, a hole blown through his chest. “… How?”

    She looked dead ahead and saw the Beetleborgs together with that annoying martial arts boy and… her.

    The Butterfly. Blonde haired. Blue eyed. Cherub-faced.

    Just. Like. Her. Nightmare.

    Jara began walking towards the house. “I am done.”

    Marco got ready. “Okay, she’s coming. What’s the plan?”

    “Swarm her,” Drew looked at Roland and Jo. “We hit her like we did last time.”

    Still walking towards them, Jara grabbed the pauldrons that held her cape up and unfastened them. The armor slipped off her shoulders, she grabbed them and whipped them into the air behind her revealing the bare-shouldered halter-topped armored leotard she wore underneath.

    Roland suddenly had a very bad feeling. “Uh, guys-”

    The pauldrons, her cape fluttering behind them, plummeted to the ground behind her. Their weight created an explosion of dirt and gravel that reached higher than Hillhurst.

    Star, Marco, The Beetleborgs, and everyone watching in the house froze where they stood.

    Roland swallowed. “I’ve watched enough DBZ to know what’s about to happen.”

    So did Drew–he lunged forward, leaping in front of Star. The second he moved Jara appeared, her blade driven into his stomach. “Urgh!”

    It didn’t punch through his armor, but didn’t need to.

    Jara didn’t give anyone the luxury to react, using her whole body to swing in a sharp circle, throwing everyone within reach of her through the air. Roland bounced off the corner of Hillhurst, Marco and Star went crashing back into the vineyard, Jo hurtled in the direction Typhus went, while Drew went straight towards the front windows of the house.

    “Get down!” Dipper yelled, dragging Janna down as Mabel pulled Misao away–leaving Flabber to be flattened by Drew crashing through the windows. Both went into the wall just below the stairs in a shower of shattered wood and glass.

    With the hangtime of her flight, Jo recovered and twisted her body to land on her feet with a heavy crash. “You… bitch!”

    She whipped the Input Magnum out and opened fire, the beams streaking past Jara.

    Facing Jo, Jara effortlessly slapped away several more beams with the front and back of her hand, before her body flickered and disappeared. Her faint afterimages appeared in a zigzagged pattern approaching Jo, then faded entirely.

    Two red lights slashed across Jo’s chest, but the Red Strikerborg didn’t fall–she planted her feet and turned around to point the Input Magnum in the dead center of Jara’s mask. Jara’s own weapon stopped, leveled right between the eyes of Jo’s helmet.

    Jara hesitated. “What?!”

    “Yeah, you’re not doing that crap again!” Jo snarled.

    Both fired their weapons, the blasts sent them stumbling from each other. Recovering first, Jara sliced through the smoke, the beam whip trailing from her weapon cutting across Jo’s side and arm.

    Sparks showering from her armor, Jo performed a devastating uppercut with the Striker Plasmar, missing so narrowly that the arcs of plasma off the spinning weapon burnt lines into Jara’s mask.

    Grabbing her arm, Jara threw Jo to the ground on her back. She dragged her in a circle around her, lifted her up, and threw her up the path. “Do not get in my way!”

    Jara swung the weapon, the long beam whip extending and slashing across both the ground and Jo. The first pass launched her off the ground and onto her feet, and the second threw her onto her back.

    “Stay there, play dead, actually die! I do not care!” Jara demanded. “I will be back for your worthless head later!”

    Marco slowly got up, groaning. He looked down at himself, and was happy to see he wasn’t dismembered or disemboweled. “Ugh, okay. This has gotten bad.” He looked over at Star. “Hey, Star? You got something for this?”

    “Sure… just lemme… ugh… wow, there’s two of you…” Star tried to get up, and fell over against Marco. “Two Marcos to help me… fight… uhh… my head hurts…”

    “Oh no.” Bad was now worse. He looked up and saw Jara storming towards them, just as Roland lunged at her side. Without looking, she struck him twice with the weapon before catching it between his helmet’s horns and swinging him down to her feet with a metallic crunch.

    “Leave that Butterfly, so I can rip off her wings in peace,” Jara commanded as she stepped over Roland.

    Marco set Star down as she groaned in a half-hearted attempt to regain her bearings. She looked up at him, as he faced Jara with a stillness that made the air feel heavy.

    “You touch her-” his voice was calm as the mirror smooth sea, “And I will rip your arm off and beat you to death with it.”

    Star gasped, her heart skipping a beat from the weight of Marco’s presence.

    Jara raised her weapon. “I will be on my guard, then.”

    A beam cut across the front of her mask, and Jara jumped back. She looked up at Jo sprinting towards her.“We’re not finished!”

    She had all day now, so why not? She nodded to Marco. “Please take this time to say your goodbyes. This will not take long.”

    Her body flickering again, Jara disappeared and there was an explosion as her blade crashed against Jo’s blocking arm. Jo bodily shrugged her off and swung a kick at her, but Jara disappeared again, reappearing to attack Jo from her side. Her younger opponent was fast enough to use her arm to catch and block her thrust.

    This joke of a girl is different! Jara broke away to avoid another kick to her stomach.

    Jo pursued her without hesitation. She may be better than me, but if I leverage my strength I can hold her off!

    The Striker Plasmar spun, and Jo used her strength to jump high above Jara. As gravity took hold, she aimed the weapon down at her and fired. “Let’s freaking go!”

    Holding her wand, Marco walked Star into the house. Mabel rushed to them, fretting for the injured Princess. “Is Star okay? Is she bleeding anywhere?”

    Marco looked from her to Star. “No blood, but I think she’s got a concussion, so she’s out for the fight.”

    “I don’t have a concuss…” Star’s head drooped down as her words slurred. “… shun… I’m fine…”

    Mabel took Star’s head in both hands. “Look right in my eyes, Star.” Star did as told, allowing Mabel to examine her pupils. “Okay, pupils are still the same size. She’s got a nasty bump on her head.”

    She leaned from side to side, looking into Star’s ears, then up her nose. Using her thumbs to open her mouth, she peered inside. “No sign of bleeding.” She looked over at Misao, who was helping Dipper and Janna pull Drew off Flabber. “I need some ice, or frozen peas! Something cold!”

    “Jawohl! Soon as we get Drew and Flabber free!” Misao called back.

    Dipper had one foot on the wall, as he tugged on Drew’s arms with Jana to dislodge him from it. “You are stuck in there!”

    “That’s what he said,” Janna joked.

    “Can you not?!” Dipper and Drew shouted together.

    Mabel looked back at Marco. “We gotta get her lying down.”

    Marco agreed and headed for the couch, occupied by the Hillhurst Hollywood Horror show, and got up. “Hey! Clear off the couch before I do the Monster Mash.”

    Mums, Frankie, and Fangula got one look at Marco… and thought better of protesting against the guy who punched a robot and didn’t flinch. The three got up and headed out, with Mums calling back. “You’d better record that on the DVR! I want to see how it ends!”

    “Spoiler warning–you’re going to be disappointed.” Marco called after them with a scowl, and helped Mabel pick up Star and bring her to the couch.

    Star let out a weak laugh. “Wow, Marco… that was so cool…”

    With great care, he picked her up and laid her down. “Just take it easy.”

    “Get pillows under her head and shoulders, and keep them elevated,” Mabel warned, “And don’t let her fall asleep.”

    “I know, I take first-aid every year to keep up to date,” Marco reassured her.

    Mabel brightened. “You too? Dipper and I nearly got killed so many times that I learned field medicine just in case. You should see my stitching, and I’m even qualified for emergency amputations!”

    Marco stared at Mabel, let that silence stretch for just an instant, and nodded. “Yep, you can’t be too prepared.”

    He slipped a large throw pillow under Star’s neck and shoulders, and she let out a sigh of relief. He looked at the TV, and watched Jara’s skill square up against Jo’s raw strength. “Jo seems to be doing fine.”

    A badly overextended punch from Jo was brutally punished with a severe lashing from Jara, that sent her flying end over end.

    Mabel winced. “Mostly.”

    Luckily for her, before Jara could rush straight back at the house and butcher the lot of them, Roland came charging back in, Input Magnum blazing.

    “Roland’s back up, too!” Mabel cheered.

    Jara, not having any of Roland’s meddling, wrapped him up in a ribbon of energy, and swung him around. Marco looked back. “No, this isn’t working.”

    Right at that moment, the snapping of boards heralded Dipper, Janna, and Misao pulling Drew free. Dipper helped him onto his feet. “Drew, you all right?”

    “Yeah… maybe…? No…” Drew sighed. “… I’ll let you know when this is over…”

    Dipper patted Drew on the shoulders. “You did your best, don’t worry about it.”

    “It’s hard not to, we’re getting creamed,” Drew grumbled back. “Plus, I almost screwed up again. I came here to try to find a way to go back and stop myself from making the wish.”

    Dipper shook his head. “Don’t worry about it.”

    Drew looked at Dipper, wary of his reassurance. “Really?”

    “If you hadn’t been here, there’s no telling what they would’ve done,” Dipper reassured him. “So, don’t worry about anything that didn’t even happen to begin with.”

    “Huh, I expected you to tear me a new one.”

    “I think you’ve had enough of that.” Dipper looked over at Flabber. “Hey, Flabber? We need to do something about these guys. Can you erect a forcefield? Summon zombies? Play the organ so loud that it drives them insane?”

    Flabber, who was flat against the wall like he’d been painted onto it by Drew, raised a finger. “I could use some organs right now. Mine seem to be pulverized.”

    He popped off the wall, good as new. “Ah, that’s better! Yeah, I can do all sorts of things, but Jara looks like she’s way too tough for anything I could stop her with.”

    Drew watched Jo baseball slide under her friend-turned-projectile and fired the Striker Plasmar at Jara, actually managing to hit her. The attack only made Jara angrier, and she blasted Jo back in turn.

    We can’t beat her like this, only slow her down… we need more firepower than what we have. He turned around to face Dipper, Flabber, Misao, and Janna.

    “Flabber, you couldn’t summon anything from the movies, but you can summon from the comics, right?”

    Dipper looked at Drew. “What are you thinking?”

    “The Beetle Battle Base. It has more than enough firepower we need to drive them off, and it’ll keep the Magnavores from coming here again.” Drew looked back at Flabber, hoping against hope. “Please tell me you can do that?”

    Dipper answered for him. “He should be able to.”

    Flabber looked from Drew to Dipper. “I should?”

    “I have a theory: as long as it comes from a Beetleborgs comic, you should be able to summon it just fine.”

    Janna held one aloft. “Lucky for us, I happen to have one right here.”

    “All right,” Drew faced Flabber. “Flabber! We need the Beetle Battle Base!”

    Lighting up with excitement, and the opportunity to help, Flabber spun around and struck a pose. “You got it, kiddo!”

    Magic began to swirl around him, and everyone quickly stepped back.

    “Flib!” An organ note played.

    “Flab!” Another joined in harmony.

    Raising his hands, the final note joined in as he shouted. “FLABBER!”

    The phasm leveled his hands on the book. “Here we go, one BBB with a real A+ Rating, coming up! PHASM FORCE!”

    Outside, Jo got back up on her feet, Roland struggling to join her. Smoke was rising from her damaged armor, but if it was serious, the rumbling chuckle she let out while she rolled her shoulders didn’t give it away.

    Jara cracked her beam whip, seething. “I had no more nerves for you to get on a long time ago. Why are you so stubbornly insisting on getting in my way?”

    Jo laughed louder. “I wanna know why you haven't gotten us out of your way, if it’s so important.”

    Jara wanted to know that herself. They keep getting up! That armor of theirs keeps them going, it’s let them outlast Noxic and Typhus, and they keep stonewalling me.

    She looked past them at the house. What in Cipher’s name is so powerful that it can grant amateurs this kind of power?

    The sky grew dark again, and Jara looked up. “What?”

    Like when she, Noxic, and Typhus first arrived the sky lit up–a pillar of light rising from the house and extending into the sky. The last time, it had dimmed then vanished in short order. This time it expanded, spreading from the house and washing over the entire vineyard surrounding the mansion.

    Jara screamed from the blinding light, and shielded her eyes.

    “What’s happening now?!” Jo yelled over the organ bellowing with the light.

    The ground shook violently, Roland catching Jo before she could be toppled. “I think Flabber’s doing something…!”

    He trailed off as the light faded. Behind his mask his eyes widened, and his mouth followed–curving into an open-mouthed smile.

    Jo looked up as well, and gasped in joy. “No freaking way!”

    Jara lowered her arm from her eyes, and looked at what had them so hyped up. She recoiled. “WHAT?!”

    Towering ten stories higher than Hillhurst was a gleaming metal tower with a dish-shaped roof and complex set of antennas sticking from its front. Emblazoned across the front of the building was the symbol of the Beetleborgs, which flashed a swirling mix of blue, green, and red.

    “The Beetle Battle Base!” Jo all but shrieked.

    Roland laughed, the tension flowing from his body at the sight of their salvation. “Yeah! Perfect timing, guys!”

    Out on the hill, Typhus got up and looked over at the new building. “Where’d that come from?”

    Noxic, crawling towards Jara, looked up at the Beetle Battle Base. “Uh. That ain’t good.”

    Jara took a few more steps back, her anger completely displaced by confusion. “Where did this come from?!”

    “Hey, Jara!” She looked down at the house to see Dipper standing on the porch of the house. He raised his finger and pointed at her. “This is the only warning. Get off our property, get off our planet, and get out of our dimension! Or else you’ll get more of this!”

    From behind Hillhurst, and directly in front of the Beetle Battle Base a cloud of dust rose up, before a blue and silver six-wheeled vehicle styled after a Rhinoceros Beetle came tearing around the house and raced straight towards Jara. At the controls, Drew targeted Jara with the beam cannons of the Blue Stinger A.V., and opened fire.

    “OH NOW THAT’S JUST A PILE OF HORSE MANURE-!” The heavy beam bolts crashing into Jara cut her ranting short, and several more tore up the ground around her.

    “This is the last time you’re setting foot anywhere near Hillhurst, Jara!” Drew yelled out, and directed the A.V.’s long horn downward. Surging forward, its T-shaped end collided with her stomach.

    With a hard yank on the controls, his A.V. launched Jara high into the sky. End over end she tumbled, screaming at the top of her lungs.

    “Take your friends, and don’t threaten us again!” He shouted over her enraged shrieking. “Blazing Stinger!”

    The raised horn shone brightly, and fired a blue energy beam that struck the flailing Jara, setting off a large explosion that cast a cloud of smoke over the house.

    Several long seconds followed, before Jara’s scorched black body crashed into the ground near Noxic and Typhus.

    Noxic looked back and forth between his friends. “Hey… is… is she dead?”

    Typhus stepped over to Jara, and nudged her with his foot. “Yo Jara, you all right?”

    Jara took a deep, pain-wracked breath. “I want to go home now.”

    Typhus looked to Noxic. “Hey, she’ll be all right.” He looked towards the menacing A.V., which was now turning towards them. “We’re outta here, baby!”

    As with before, the Magnavore trio morphed into streams of flames, and rapidly escaped the area. The smoke slowly cleared over the vineyard, leaving only the afternoon sun in a cloudless sky to shine down on the victorious Beetleborgs and their allies.

    = - = 22 = - =

    Finally, Assault Vehicles.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2021
  16. Threadmarks: Separation
    The Ero-Sennin

    The Ero-Sennin Professional Shitposter

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    = - = 23 = - =

    |Separation|

    Returning his A.V. to the Beetle Battle Base, that quickly sank underground via lift and was covered over by a pair of massive sliding doors, Drew rushed back around to the front of the Hillhurst. There he found Dipper waiting at the base of the front steps with Jo and Roland, who were out of their armor.

    Flabber had already cleaned up the battle damage; Hillhurst and its surrounding property was back to its old dilapidated self. Like before, no evidence of the climactic battle remained.

    “Hey guys!” He called out, running up to them. “Back Blast!”

    In a flash, the Stingerborg armor was gone. Looking down at himself then at Roland and Jo to make sure everyone was intact, he smiled. “We won.”

    Dipper smiled back. “You guys did great.”

    Roland walked up and patted Drew hard on the shoulder. “Man, wishing for the Beetle Battle Base was a power move. I can’t believe we have the A.V.s now!”
    “Well, I figured if the Magnavores are gonna keep coming here, having the Beetle Battle Base around means they won’t come here without a fight.”

    Dipper had read enough of the comic books over the last few days to know what he was talking about. “Here’s hoping that it can really protect against them teleporting here like it does in the comics.”

    “If it can’t, it has other defenses that are probably all around the vineyard now,” Drew replied, “We can head inside later and have a look at the systems.”

    He clapped his hands together. “But let’s worry about that later? Is everyone else all right?”

    Dipper looked back at the house. “No one else is hurt. Star got a bump on the head and Mabel is checking to see if it’s a concussion.”

    Jo turned her head and looked at Dipper, her eyebrow raised. “She can tell?”

    “Yeah, she spent a whole year studying first aid after we got back from Gravity Falls, because we have a tendency to get into situations like this.”

    Roland regarded Jo with a mild glare for her disbelieving tone. “Wow, that’s a useful skill for us to have.”

    Jo let out a snort and disengaged, heading up the stairs to the door. “This I gotta see.”

    Drew watched Jo walk into the house, then turned to Dipper and Roland. “Okay, what was that?”

    Roland glowered after Jo. “She came to school with a bug up her butt about you and got into it with the girls at lunch.”

    A grimace spread across Drew’s face. “Ugh, I’m sorry for any trouble she caused…”

    “You don’t need to apologize for her,” Dipper assured him. “We’ll sort it out later.”

    “Yeah man, chillax,” Roland added. “We’ve got more important things to worry about right now than teen girl drama.”

    Drew agreed, as the three followed Jo inside. “Yeah, we need to talk to Flabber about some things.”

    In the organ room, Star was already sitting up and being examined by Flabber–dressed in a blue TOS-era StarFleet uniform. In his hand he held a series-accurate recreation of the original Tricorder, which beeped and flashed as he held it near her head.

    “Ooh, it’s beeping,” Star cooed, “So cute.”

    Marco, sitting beside her, looked back and forth between her and the device. “Is that safe to be waving near her head?”

    Janna, behind the couch and leaning against it, spoke up next. “Yeah, and I thought you couldn’t pull things from stuff that worked.”

    Flabber looked over at her. “I’m a cosplayer Jan, not a doctor.” He tossed the device over his shoulder, Drew catching it soon as he crossed the threshold. “But I do know a thing or two about medicine.”

    He spun around, creating a tornado, before stopping–now crossdressed as a candy striper nurse, his pompadour joined with a paper nurse’s hat. In a husky voice he spoke. “I was Dr. Hillhurst’s chief assistant during all of his examinations, surgeries, emergency follow-up surgeries, and subsequent autopsies…”

    “Am I going to die?” Star asked.

    “Well, four out of five Flabbers recommend…” Four more Flabbers appeared next to Flabber, all of them wearing suits and labcoats like stuffy medical professionals. “… That you just need some rest and relaxation for a few days to recover from that bump on your noggin.”

    Three of them rabbled amongst themselves in agreement while the fourth gazed off into the distance with a glassy-eyed look and drool running from the corner of his mouth.

    Mabel, sitting on the other side of Star, looked at the fourth copy. “What do you think?”

    “Uhh… she got the fibromyalgia,” the fourth Flabber droned, “And she should buy lots of pain-killers.”

    Dipper repressed the dark laugh that earned. “But she is going to be fine, right?”

    Mabel kicked her feet up and sprang off the couch onto them. “Flabber was just checking my work, Star will be fine.”

    Dipper looked at Star and Marco. “I’m glad you’re okay. That was really scary when Jara got serious.”

    “We’ve had worse,” Star assured him.

    Marco nodded. “Way worse.”

    An opportunity to ask some real questions sprang up, and Dipper would not be denied his chance. “If we can talk about that later, I’d appreciate that.”

    “Of course,” Marco replied.

    Drew stepped up alongside Dipper. “Well, if everyone’s okay, we need to talk about something I heard from the Magnavores before you guys showed up.” When everyone looked at him, he continued. “The Magnavores don’t know how they ended up here, but they want one of us alive to bring to Vexor–probably so they can figure that out.”

    Flabber’s teeth chattered as he turned a shade of blue. “Brrr!”

    Dipper weighed on that. “Okay, that confirms that the wish brought them here, I guess… and that Vexor G is here, too.”

    The Phasm went rigid, like someone had poured ice water down the back of his suit. “GAH!”

    Roland swallowed audibly. “Okay, so that’s bad… really bad.”

    Misao looked at him. “How much worse is he?”

    Jo sniffed and narrowed her eyes at Misao some. “Well if the Magnavores are somehow stronger in real life than they are in the comics, then Vexor is probably on a whole different level if he’s in charge of them.”

    “Ahhh!” Flabber wailed, and everyone looked at him.

    “Hey man, are you okay?” Marco asked.

    “N-no!” Flabber wrapped a blanket twice as large as himself around his body. “Every time you say that name I get a nasty chill!”

    Dipper pointed at Flabber. “That’s weird, why?”

    Flabber shook his head. “I wish I knew. I just feel the cold down to my b-b-b…” His head suddenly became a pompadour-adorned skull inside of a block of ice. “… Bones!”

    His head popped back to normal. “Which is even crazier because I’ve never met the guy until you guys introduced me.”

    Dipper let out a contemplative hum. Is there a connection between them? Or is Flabber reacting to what he thinks is a predator?

    Mabel hugged Flabber. “Don’t worry, Flabber! We won’t let that jerk get his hands on you.”

    Flabber looked at Mabel, then at the others. “Really?”

    “Someone with your powers would be bad in the wrong hands,” Dipper said. “We’ll protect you and the house.”

    Drew agreed with a sharp nod. “Hopefully we won’t have to worry about the Magnavores coming straight here anymore. The Beetle Battle Base will protect you from them, and besides… the Magnavores will be gunning for me, since they know I was the one who brought them here.”

    Jo gawked at her brother, her eyes widening the only warning they had before she flew into a rage. “You self-hating moron! Why would you tell them that?!”

    “Jo!” Roland snapped at her.

    Drew weathered the sting of Jo’s insult. “I did it to buy time for the rest of you to get here and save my worthless hide–and more importantly to keep them from going after Flabber and Janna when they were done toying around with me.”

    “And the gesture is not unappreciated, sad kid,” Janna chimed in.

    “Besides, they only know that the Blue Stingerborg was the one who brought them here. They haven’t seen my face or know any of our identities. So that’s safe for now.”

    Jo pulled back, Drew standing his ground and explaining himself throwing her off. “Yeah, well… don’t make a habit of sacrificing yourself.”

    Drew rolled his eyes. “I’ll try my best.” He turned to Dipper. “Anyway, we should actually go inside the Beetle Battle Base so we can make sure its anti-teleportation field and other defenses work.”

    Dipper agreed. “We’ve got nothing to do for the rest of the day, so we may as well get started.” He looked over at Flabber. “Is there a way for us to get there from here?”

    “There sure is,” the Phasm answered and pointed over to the Organ, which swung out to reveal a long curving ramp with a futuristic stone and metal design–lit with fluorescent lights that clashed sharply with the otherwise Victorian interior of the mansion.

    “Okay, that is cool,” Roland said.

    “That tunnel will lead you right to the Beetle Battle Base. I was originally going to do it Batpole style, but it’s a long way down there.”

    “Is there a chance we can have a pole installed?” Mabel asked.

    “Seconding this request,” Janna added.

    “No,” Dipper, Marco, and Drew said in unison.

    “One of us would inevitably fall to our deaths,” Roland added.

    Flabber gave the outvoted Mabel and Janna a sympathetic look.

    “Anyway,” Drew said, “We should be able to access Beetle Battle Base’s central control center from here. There we can figure out how to operate its systems.”

    Misao raised her hand. “I can help with that.”

    “Really?” Jo asked, with a slight smirk that leaked condescension.

    Misao looked at her out of the corner of her eye. “I could program computers when small children were learning to ride bikes, ja? Give me time with the computers there, and I will figure out how they work.”

    “Huh, neat,” Marco said.

    She got up. “In fact, I would like to go down there right now and get started. We have the whole day ahead of us now, don’t we?”

    Star looked at him. “Hey, you’re good at computers too, go help them!”

    That drew Dipper’s attention. “Really?”

    Marco held up his hands. “Whoa, using a laptop and military-grade computers are two very different things.”

    “You’d be surprised how little that is the case,” Misao said aside to Mabel.

    “W-well, hang on!” Dipper said. “Even if you aren’t familiar with the hardware… having you guys here to help us sort the base out would be just fine, too.”

    “Even so,” Marco said, “Star needs rest and I’d like to get her home so she can.”

    Dipper deflated a little. “Oh well, of course. Recovery comes first and–no offense Flabber–I don’t think she can do that here.”

    “No, you’re right. The guys will pester her non-stop until she or somebody here blasts them,” Flabber agreed.

    On that note, Roland brought up a more concerning point. “Drew, Jo, and I should get going, too.”

    “Why?” Jo asked.

    “Well, besides it being better that we all go our separate ways and clear the air, most of us did skip school after being involved in a fight. We need to get ahead of that.”

    Drew’s shoulders slumped. “Right… what even happened there?”

    “I can explain it on our way.” Roland pulled his phone out of his pocket and frowned. “Yeah, we definitely need to go.”

    He held it out; on the screen was a text message from Nano.

    Big Nano said:
    Boy you better get your behind to this store so I can get you an alibi. The principal just called to inform me of a fight in the cafeteria that you and your friends skipped class after.

    Mabel read the message. “Nano is so cool.”

    Drew grimaced now. It was only a matter of time before his parents found out. “Yeah, let’s go.”

    “Then I guess we’re all splitting up for now,” Dipper looked to his sister and Misao. “Let’s head down into the base, then.”

    Janna pushed herself off the couch. “Count me in for exploring the secret underground base. I wanna see what other cool stuff is stashed away down there.”

    Flabber clapped his hands together. “Well, if you gotta go, you gotta go. I’m going to go back to watching movies and using the internet. Next time we all meet up, I will blow you away with my updated and extremely topical humor!”

    Drew grimaced. “Please don’t.”

    “Yeah,” Mabel added, “You’re perfectly funny as you are!”

    Drew looked at Mabel, then shrugged his shoulders and came out with it. “… Yeah, you’re hilarious.”

    The praise struck straight to Flabber’s heart. “Really?!”

    He looked back at the pipe organ. “You hear that girls? I’m a hit with today’s youth!”

    “Don’t let it go to your head,” the Pipettes called back.

    Flabber, his head twice as large, wore a smug smirk. “Too late.”

    Jo palmed her face with both hands as Mabel, Misao, Drew, Roland, and Star laughed. Marco and Dipper held their laughter back. Janna just rolled her eyes, but smirked.

    “Well, anyway, we’re going to get out of here.” Marco pulled out Star’s Dimensional Scissors and tried to cut open a portal… only for nothing to happen. “Huh. Wow, this anti-teleport thing is powerful.”

    “Hey, at least we know it works.” Roland said to Marco. “It should work out to a certain range, then you can use it.”

    Marco nodded, then looked over to Dipper, Mabel, Janna, and Misao. “See you guys later. Good luck with the Beetle Base.”

    “Yeah, be safe getting home, guys,” Dipper replied.

    “Take care, Star,” Mabel said.

    Star, on her feet, smiled back. “Don’t worry I’ll be fine.” She stopped when Marco took her arm and brought it over his shoulder, before sidling close to her. “Ah?”

    “It’s better to be safe and not sorry,” he reasoned. “I’ll walk with you in case you get dizzy again.”

    Star stared at Marco, her eyes darting down to look where they were all but connected at the hip, then nodded very fast. “Y-yeah, okay.”

    She waved again as they began walking for the door. Drew, Roland, and Jo followed them, the former two likewise bidding the others goodbye.

    Dipper watched Marco help Star out after farewells were exchanged, and let out the smallest sigh.

    Janna looked up at Dipper, then at Mabel and Misao. “He’s got it pretty bad, huh?”

    “So bad,” Mabel replied.

    “It’s very cute,” Misao added.

    His face flushing red, Dipper turned and headed down. “Let’s get inside the base, you guys.”

    “Jawohl~!” Misao sang, skipping after him. Mabel followed, laughing and snorting, while Janna threw a salute to Flabber and brought up the rear.

    = - = 23 = - =

    Cracks are forming...
     
  17. Threadmarks: Recovery
    The Ero-Sennin

    The Ero-Sennin Professional Shitposter

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    Last one.

    = - = 24 = - =

    |Recovery|

    In the alley behind Zoom Comics, a portal opened and Drew, Jo, and Roland emerged. Star stepped through, and Marco followed after her. Looking back, Marco shook his head and whistled. They had to walk almost two kilometers away from the house before they could use the Dimensional Scissors, long enough for Star to regain faith in her legs and walk herself for at least half of it.

    “That anti-teleport stuff is no joke,” Marco said. “There’s gotta be a way we can use it against them.”

    “Right now we should just be glad we have it at all, and make sure we know how it works before we start messing with it,” Drew said.

    Marco agreed with that. Star watched the portal close. “That was still a long walk, though.”

    Marco also agreed with that. “Hmm… maybe now’s a better time than ever to get my Driver’s license.”

    Star looked at Marco. “License?”

    Roland gestured with a raised hand. “I already have my learner’s permit.”

    Star looked at Roland. “Learner’s permit?”

    Jo nodded. “Then why not take your Driver’s test? I’m sure Nano has some old car she’d let you use. Then you can teach the rest of us how to drive.”

    “Wait,” Star interrupted them. “Drive, as in like… drive a car?”

    Drew, Marco, and Roland all nodded.

    Had Star not had a pounding headache, she’d be erupting with excitement at the prospect. Nevertheless. “Hey, can I learn how to drive a car?”

    “I mean, yeah?” Marco replied. “You can even do it at the school, just talk to Ms. Minerva, the assistant gym coach.”

    Jo huffed. “Though I can’t imagine you behind the wheel of a car.”

    Star looked at her. “What, you don’t think I can do it?”

    “Considering that wherever you go, something explodes or turns into something, or turns into something then explodes?” She shrugged her shoulders with a condescending toss of her pigtails. “Yeah.”

    Star walked up to the younger girl, staring her down every step until they were less than a pace apart. She held up her hands, palms facing one another, about a foot apart, and waggled her left hand. “This is completely evil, like where your funeral would be the universe’s biggest party.”

    She waggled her right hand. “This is completely good, like Marco’s Super Awesome Nachos, or laser puppies.”

    Star moved her right hand about halfway towards her left. “This is where I choose violence.” She moved it back, just an inch. “This is where you are.”

    Jo’s gaze flicked back and forth between Star’s hands and her face, and in that brief moment, Star’s cheek marks had changed from hearts to skulls.

    “Do you have anything else you want to say?” When Jo did not immediately take her up on that offer, Star nodded. “Good.”

    Star turned around and walked back over to Marco. Snatching the Dimensional Scissors out of his hands, she cut open a portal and walked through it.

    Jo gaped at the portal, her mouth hanging open.

    Drew looked back and forth between his sister and the portal. “… Okay, what?”

    Roland palmed his face and sighed. “You just couldn’t help yourself could you, Josephine?”

    Jo let out an angry snort. “I guess my impulse control is as bad as hers.”

    Marco had the same tranquil stare that withheld behind it a simmering fury. “I don’t want to be that guy. But your attitude is going to make this real hard for me to teach you anything, or for us to fight. I like most of you guys enough to not want to leave you in a lurch, but Jo? You’re doing your best.”

    He looked back at the portal, then at Drew and Roland. “Anyway, text us if anything happens… and I’m sorry.” He hopped through the portal, and it quickly closed up and vanished with a down-pitched digital chime.

    Drew turned to face his sister. “That was uncalled for.”

    Jo turned her head away from him. “Whatever.” She started walking out of the alleyway. “I’m going to go read some comic books. Don’t bother me.”

    Roland wore a rueful grimace. “She can be impossible sometimes.”

    Drew took a deep breath. “Last night was bad for me, and I guess it’s gone and spread through us like a fart. This is my fault…”

    “No, it’s not. You are not your sister’s keeper. She’s smart enough to know better, but she decided to take her damage out on everyone else because she’s also petty and vindictive. You didn’t make her like that.”

    “I’m still her older brother, I need to act like it.”

    Roland hummed. “Work on acting like a leader, first. Reeling in Jo will come naturally after that.”

    Drew quailed. “Leader? I’m not the leader, Dipper’s obviously the leader…”

    “He’s the one with experience in stuff like this, but you’re literally the tip of the sword out there. Plus, it sounds like he’s got more respect for you, and is willing to listen to what you have to say.”

    Roland was right, now that Drew thought about it. “Yeah, I guess…”

    “We’re not going to get good at this overnight, we’re not going to get good at anything that fast, okay?” He slapped Drew on the shoulder, then gave it a rough shake. “Grin and bear it, man. We’ll all get through this.”

    Drew smiled. “Thanks.”

    “Anyway, let’s go talk to Nano about our alibis… and if you want to, ask to stay the night.” The two began walking towards the street. “I think you need a break from your family.”

    “Don’t you mean a break with my family?” Drew asked.

    Roland grinned and laughed. “Yeah, bruh.”

    @@@@@

    Star had brought the portal to the foot of her bed, so that the moment she stepped through it, she could drop face down onto it. She immediately regretted doing that because her magically soft pillows and bedding felt painfully mundane when a head-injury and anger is involved.

    That or maybe the bed had lost some of the softness she normally enjoyed. She patted it a few times, but didn’t come to a consensus before Marco stepped in and the portal closed behind him.

    “Hey Star, you all right?” He asked, seeing her face down in her pillow.

    “M’fine,” Star mumbled back.

    He walked around to the edge of the bed, and she turned onto her side to look at him. “I’m doing better now.”

    Marco sat down on the bed, and Star went still. She looked up at him as he leaned down and checked the bandages around her head, scanning carefully for any signs of bleeding or the gauze getting loose. Her breath caught in her chest, when his fingers touched just under her temple. She remembered those same fingers clenched tight into a fist as Marco faced down Jara.

    “You touch her–and I will rip your arm off and beat you to death with it.”

    Star watched his hand, and hoped he didn't hear how loud her heart was beating.

    “Try to take it easy, and don’t get too worked up about what Jo says,” Marco advised her after seeing nothing amiss. “She doesn’t really know you yet, but she’ll come around.”

    Star looked down at the mattress. “It’s not just what she said, it’s what she was doing all day.” She looked back up at Marco. “And besides that, I don’t like it when people look down on me-”

    “No one does.”

    Star gently cut him off. “I mean… like… underestimating me. They think they’ve got my number, that they know what I can or can’t do and they… they judge me for that. I can’t stand it…” She brought a hand up and lightly scratched at the bandage as she curled up a little. “My Mom does it so much and when anyone else does it, I feel like I’m right there with her, listening to her lecturing.”

    Marco was not prepared for this level of… vulnerability from Star. Usually she was more nonchalant.

    “Ugh! It tees me off, so much.”

    A flash of clarity struck him, and he remembered the first time that Star went off into town on her own, and what happened after. “… I’m sorry.”

    She raised her head up. “For what?”

    “Remember the Banagic Incident?” At Star’s short nod, he continued. “I said I’d underestimated you, and you knocked my ice cream out of my hands. I’d made you angry, didn’t I?”

    Star shook her head. “I wasn’t mad at you, Marco!”

    “No, it’s fine,” he insisted. “I don’t mind if you get mad at me for something that actually hurts your feelings. You’re my best friend, after all. Just let me know when I screw up.”

    Like right now, Marco wasn’t sure but he had a sense that something was off with Star… and he was searching for something other than Jo or a head injury that could have her like this.

    Star, her eyes half-closed and shiny, laid back down. “Can I let you know when you’re amazing, too? Because you were so cool today.”

    Marco wasn’t a dense person. Sure, he was a little neurotic and struggled a bit to catch up with genuine praise from being a little on the outside… but he wasn’t so caught up in himself that he was slow on the uptake. That all said, finally recognizing the way Star was looking at him now, was a bit of a shock.

    “Huh? You mean, with…” His face grew warm, as he realized just how he must have looked to Star after she got knocked down. “… Oh.”

    “So cool,” Star repeated, closing her eyes. “Thanks for taking care of me.”

    Marco smiled and rested a hand on Star’s cheek. He could literally see her cheek marks turn a brighter shade of red with her blush. “If anyone wants to hurt you, they’ll have to go through me, but I’ll go through them first.”

    So cool, Star thought as Marco pulled his hand away and got up.

    “I’m going to make you something to eat,” he said.

    “Can it be nachos?” She asked.

    “How about nacho soup?”

    Star’s eyes threatened to fall out of her skull as she shot back up. “You can make nachos as soup?”

    This. Changed. Everything.

    “Give me an hour or two, and I’ll blow your mind,” Marco said with a knowing smile, before he headed for and out the door.

    Star watched him leave, waited for the door to swing closed, and a few more moments after that. Reaching into her purse, she pulled out her magic mirror compact, opened it and set it beside her.

    “Call PH,” she said in a quiet voice.

    “Calling PH…” The Compact chimed, before its glass surface flickered to reveal the face of Star’s best friend–a bright blue-furred disembodied unicorn head with a sparkling pink mane and stars literally in her eyes.

    “Sup B-Fly!” Princess Lilacia Pony Head called out, full of party girl energy.

    “Hey Pony,” Star replied.

    “Girl, why you haven’t been calling me? I thought I was your bestie!” Pony Head demanded in a harsh tone, before she laughed it off. “Just kiddin’, but for real I heard some stuff went down, you okay?”

    “Oh, I’m fine.” Star only realized now that she hadn’t talked to Pony Head since before Toffee kidnapped Marco. “It’s just been monster drama mostly, it’s all good now.”

    “Obviously, because if you wasn’t you would be like, dead.”

    Star laughed. “Well… okay it’s not just been monster drama… uh… I think things have gotten… real?”

    Pony Head stopped. “How real we talking?”

    Star closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. This was Pony Head, her bestie, she could tell her anything.

    @@@@@

    Inside of his mausoleum hideaway. Vexor assessed his three underlings. Jara was covered in burns, Noxic was missing pieces of himself and having a gaping hole blown through him, and Typhus looked freshly regenerated from a tremendous amount of damage. For all of the shape they were in, they brought him back neither Beetleborg nor Butterfly, and that really told him a lot about what happened today.

    “I doubt I could do anything to punish you for your failure that hasn’t already happened to you today, so I will not even bother.” He was going to give them much.

    Jara, who had spent the last several hours breaking her rage before returning, was a little taken aback. “That is… generous of you.”

    “Yeah thanks, baby,” Typhus grunted.

    “Great, I don’t have to repair more than I already got to,” Noxic grumbled.

    If Vexor had articulated shoulders, he would shrug them. He pantomimed the motion with his upraised palms instead. “Patience and tolerance are virtues successful villains live by. You have come back here alive, which means I can motivate you with a discovery I have made.”

    Motivate them? That could mean a lot of things coming from their leader, or at least Jara thought so. “What is this discovery of yours?”

    Vexor let out a dark, low laugh. “This.”

    He held a clawed hand towards Jara, then raked it like he was slashing at her. Behind and below her, a portal opened and she plummeted into it with a scream. Noxic and Typhus quickly rushed to the closing wormhole.

    “Jara!” Noxic shouted before the portal vanished.

    “What… where’d she go?” Typhus turned towards Vexor. “Hey, that ain’t cool, Vexor!”

    Vexor chuckled and waved his other hand. Behind him, a scrying circle appeared and showed Jara falling through sunlit clouds. Noxic recoiled at the sight.

    “Hey, where is she? What did you do to her, you-?!” He stopped when Vexor raised his hand to silence him.

    Tumbling end over end, Jara stopped screaming and caught herself. Flipping over and over, she emerged from the bottom of the clouds and landed in a crouch on a polished marble floor. When she rose to her feet and looked around, she saw that she was on a gold finished platform of marble, surrounded by polished Greek-style pillars that thrust through the clouds around her. Beyond the far edge of the platform, she could see the clouds break to a calm sea, the sun setting on it.

    “What… this is…?” She stopped and looked down at herself, and to her further surprise found that her injuries were gone. In fact, she felt more alive than she had in a long time. “What is this place…?”

    “This,” Vexor’s voice boomed, “Is a reality that I have created to allow you to fight at your maximum ability. I call it the Gaohm Zone.”

    “Gaohm?” Jara asked the voice.

    “Never you mind the etymology, what you must know is that in this world your abilities are at your peak, your health is at its highest, and the world itself is yours to manipulate as you desire.”

    “Mine to manipulate…” Jara looked around, then looked back to see a neat formation of two dozen women kneeling before her. They were dressed similarly to herself, though in red/pink bodysuits as opposed to her leotard and tights. Their white masks were all featureless, they wore long scarves instead of armored cloaks and pauldrons, and all were equipped with short swords on their hips and longer blades on their backs.

    Jara stared at the warriors, and felt a deep nostalgic pang in her chest. “… My…”

    She froze, and shook her head. The formation vanished like it had never existed. “I see… this world is my desires made manifest.”

    Noxic was floored. “That’s amazing! We can create whatever we want and do what we like there?!”

    “Dang, I’m getting pumped up thinkin’ of the possibilities, baby!” Typhus said as he punched his palm.

    “It will be the weapon we use against the Beetleborgs and any allies they have. Use it to capture and bring them to me,” Vexor said, before his hand plunged from the clouds and grabbed Jara. When it pulled her back, she was yanked bodily through the scrying circle and landed–once more in her injured state–next to Noxic and Typhus.

    Jara grimaced, feeling her injuries hit her all at once. “Urgh…”

    “Of course, when you are in better health,” Vexor added.

    Vexor turned and walked/glided across the room towards the sarcophagus at the room’s center. He let out a gentle chuckle as he did, and rested his hand on the Beetleborg comic lying on it. “But until then, may I recommend summoning some help?”

    Noxic grumbled. “Yeah, more Scabs? No way! Those mooks could blast them without even trying, we’d need like a million of ‘em to replace any one of us!”

    Jara got back up. “The scabs aren’t that terrible. One of us is worth a hundred Scabs at least.”

    Vexor laughed again. “Typhus, please come here.”

    Typhus looked at Jara and Noxic, and did as told, strutting over towards Vexor. “Yeah, what’s up?”

    Picking up the comic, Vexor held it out. It was the newest issue, part one of a two parter. On the cover, the Green Hunterborg and Red Strikerborg were back to back in a dark swamp, the head of a massive viper with its jaws wide open to strike looming behind them.

    Typhus recognized the viper. “Hey, hey, hey! I know that guy! It’s Snake Head!”

    Jara groaned. “Ugh, one of your science projects, Typhus?”

    “Yeah, he turned out great when I was done with him. Wiped out the Great Horned Rat and all his nasty little ratties too, baby!”

    Jara weighed on that. “Huh, then my opinion of him is only slightly higher.”

    “If you would,” Vexor said to Typhus, “Summon him forth into our world much like Noxic did the Scabs.”

    Typhus stared at the comic, then at Vexor. “What… am I supposed to just hold my hand out and say. ‘Snake Head, c’mon out, baby’?”

    Soon as he said it, the comic flashed alight, emitting an eerie, flame-like glow, before the fire shot from the comic itself and landed besides Typhus and Vexor. Growing in size, the flame grew brighter and brighter–before a massive hulking form stepped from it.

    It was a reptilian humanoid, with green scaly skin everywhere except for pale yellow diamond shapes along its sides, a matching color belly, and a bright red upper chest that looked like a snake coiled around its shoulders. Atop its shoulders and head was a massive snake that served as arms that dangled to the ground–the left side was where the snake’s body ended in its tail, and the right began as its head.

    “Ssss… Where am I?” The beast asked with a very low and menacing voice despite the hiss.

    “WHAT?!” Noxic yelled.

    Jara felt sick on top of her injury and insult. “So disgusting.”

    Typhus was overjoyed. “Snake Head, my man!”

    Snake Head turned towards Typhus. “Sssss… Master! It has been a long time since I’ve heard that baritone.” The long tongue of the snake flicked at the air. “This does not taste of the Horned Vermin’s hovel. What is this world? And for what honor do you summon me to it?”

    “I’ll explain it later, but we’re outta the Nightmare Realm, baby!” Typhus punched his palm and laughed. “And I’ve got some pests I need for you to hunt, you down?”

    “Ssss… you summon me all this way for a good time? Hmhmhm… tell me who I am to hunt, and I will slaughter the prey as you desire.”

    Typhus turned to Vexor. “Is this guy great or what? He’ll sniff out the Beetleborgs in no time!”

    Vexor tilted towards him in a nod. “Very good. Bring him up to speed with regards to this world we’re in. Then send him out to capture our prey.” He looked to Jara and Noxic. “The two of you attend to your damage then meet with me. I will instruct you on all I have learned, and how you too can summon from these books.”

    Jara nodded. “Very well.”

    Noxic looked around. “Oh yeah, just repair myself. There’d be an abandoned auto shop or a junk yard around here I can work with. Heck, I’ll take even an Infinite Ikea.”

    Jara slapped Noxic in the side. “Come, let’s go foraging.”

    “Yeah, yeah…” Both he and Jara folded their arms, nodded, and vanished in jets of flame.

    As Typhus spoke animatedly to Snake Head about what was going on, the head dangling off his right side focused its serpentine eye on Vexor, who turned away to look at the still smoking comic book. The serpent’s tongue flicked out, tasting the air.

    Vexor… how have you come to yoke my master…?

    @@@@@

    “All right, let’s do this one more time.” In a dark room, Dipper’s voice called out. “You ready?”

    “Yep!” Mabel called back.

    “Everything set to go on your end?” He asked.

    “My finger’s on the button,” Janna answered.

    “We’re ready here, then,” he reported.

    Misao spoke next. “Then as the Lord said, let there be light.”

    In the dark a lever moved, a dial turned, and a button was pressed. Seconds later soft blue-white lights illuminated a clean and sterile, hexagon-themed command center with numerous pieces of equipment meant for analyzing data, detecting threats, and communicating with the outside world arranged in a hexagon around a wide open floor area. At one end of the hexagon, Misao stood in front of a large obelisk that generated a hologram screen that showed upward scrolling lines of data. Dipper was standing on the opposite end of the room, Mabel to his right, and Janna to his left.

    Her fingers working the keyboard at 208 words per minute, Misao’s eyes danced from left to right and back again. “Ja, ja… despite everything this is all very basic. Art Fortunes has a very amateur knowledge of computers and did most everything by hand-waving.”

    “So what, it won’t actually work?” Dipper asked.

    Misao looked back. “Oh, it will work. But it is programmed like it was done on a Commodore 64.”

    She looked back up at the projector. “On the bright side, this whole system is very adaptable. I can replace it with something more functional if I have some time to do it.”

    “So our Beetle Battle Base is literally from the 90s,” Dipper said.

    “80s,” Misao corrected. “Not that it’ll interfere with how the base works. With all of the hand waving Art Fortunes did, it may as well be all magic, ja?”

    “Anomalous computers…” Dipper murmured, trying to not get overly excited at the possibilities.

    “So it just works?” Janna asked.

    “Like King Crimson,” Misao replied. She turned around in her chair, and struck a near backbreaking pose straight out of a French fashion magazine. “And yes, that was a JoJo reference.”

    Dipper didn’t get the joke, because he didn’t use the internet. He just assumed it was something funny because of how loud Mabel laughed.

    Misao swept back round and kept typing. “Let’s see. The Beetle Battle Base has a wide variety of defenses. There are energy weapon turrets that are dispersed evenly around Hillhurst, the anti-teleportation field…”

    As she spoke and typed, images of the base’s defenses appeared. First a map of Hillhurst and the hidden weapons, then a diagram of a large circle with a two kilometer radius around the house, then images of the A.V.s popped up.”

    “… The A.V.s or Assault Vehicles. There is also Gargantis the Mobile Attack Carrier.” With that the image of a very large Hercules Beetle Shaped mecha appeared.

    Janna looked up at it, her eyes drawn to the large cannon atop the mecha’s head. “Dibs.”

    Mabel snickered. “The cannon?”

    “The cannon,” Janna confirmed.

    Misao looked at the files on Gargantis. “It says it can only be operated by the Beetleborgs through the use of their Pulsabers.”

    “I’ll make it work,” Janna said.

    Misao shrugged her shoulders. “One less thing for them to worry about, I guess.”

    “That’s right,” Dipper said, “We should be doing everything we can to lighten the load for them. Is there any other weapons or tools here that can do that?”

    “I will have to look, the files state that there is more equipment spread throughout the whole facility, but data on that is corrupted. Which is just like in the comic where Janna got it from.”

    “Yeah,” Janna said, “The Beetle Battle Base hasn’t been fully operational since it got destroyed at the start of the Split Up Arc years ago.”

    Dipper remembered Drew, Roland, and Jo commenting on their Beetle Bonders. “Everything gets brought here in the state it was in the comics. Or at least the state it was when drawn.”

    More things to test with Flabber. Sadly, the age of the Beetle Battle Base’s magical systems probably meant that it wasn’t good for anything outside of operating the base. Still, Dipper had to be sure.

    “Can this thing connect to the Internet?”

    Misao laughed. “Oh ja, here. Let’s look at Google’s home page.”

    She hit a few keys, and a web page popped up. “It will load up in about five minutes.”

    Dipper frowned. “Well, that answers that. Can’t use this place as my science lab.”

    Misao was on the same page. “I can’t use this equipment to stream at all.”

    “We can’t use this place, but we do have an entire house a few stories up that we can use,” Mabel pointed out.

    “Full of monsters that want to eat us,” Dipper said.

    Janna let out a “Pssh!” and smirked. “Yeah, those guys don’t mind you if you’re a monster or weirdo yourself, but if you can’t convince them? They’re wusses, just beat them up and they’ll leave you alone.”

    “Or we could leave dealing with them to Flabber,” Mabel also put forward.

    Misao shrugged her shoulders. “Either’s fine with me.”

    “We’ll talk with him when we’re done here, then.” Dipper leaned against the counter and looked out at dark windows along the back half of the command center room, showing the unlit underground complex where the A.V.s and Gigantis were stored when they weren’t being deployed.

    Today was a day full of big wins and minor setbacks. Overall, Dipper could think of worse outcomes than this. He looked over at Misao, who was still browsing through the base’s databases.

    “Hey, thanks by the way.” When she looked back, he nodded. “You didn’t need to do this.”

    “Yeah,” Mabel agreed.

    “That’s quite all right, I want to–and not because you rescued me.” Misao smiled back, then looked up at the projector. “From when I was very little, my Papa taught me that it was the duty of those with great ability or power to help those who were in need. It is how we all as people can advance together.”

    She continued typing as she spoke. “Even if all I can do is try to make sense of these ancient magical computers, I will do it with all my heart so that every battle from here on is easier.”

    Dipper broke into a big smile. “We all will.”

    Janna looked out the windows, and tried to make out the shape of Gargantis in the dark. “I’ll be doing my part.”

    Mabel sidled over to Misao. “You look like you’re busy, can I cuddle you?”

    Misao stopped and raised her arms. “Oh no, by all means go ahead.”

    Mabel gladly took the invitation and scooped Misao up, hugging her. “You’re the best!”

    “Deine umarmungen sind die besten. Ich liebe dich.” Misao cooed back as she snuggled into Mabel’s chest.

    “Ohh oh~! Girls do what we like! Ohh oh~! We’re taking over tonight!”

    Misao reached into the pocket of Mabel’s skirt mid hug, and held up her phone. “You are having a phone call.”

    “Wow, we have reception down here now?” Mabel asked as she took it. “Oh, it’s Sherpa!”

    She answered. “Hello Sherpa!”

    “I've been calling you kids for an hour, but I kept getting disconnected. You kids okay?” Shermie asked.

    “Oh, we were handling some business, it’s good now,” Mabel said as Dipper and Janna walked over. “What’s up?”

    “I got a call from a sphincter with a necktie earlier today. What's this about Dipper getting cold-cocked?”

    Mabel looked at Dipper. “He’s asking about the fight.”

    Dipper gestured for the phone, and Mabel handed it to him. “Hey Grandpa, I got knocked out by a steam locomotive brick house for no reason. I didn’t see anything after that, but I heard he got it worse than me.”

    “I’ll say!” Shermie laughed. “Nano told me the kid looked like he got leveled by Rocky Marciano! Who hit ‘im?”

    “The little McCormick, Jo, but that’s a kettle of fish we wanna keep closed. We had a more important dust up here over at Hillhurst.”

    Shermie sounded plenty surprised by that revelation. “No kidding? Huh. I knew she was a spitfire, but I didn’t take her for a boxer. You want me to come get you?”

    “Actually that would be great,” Dipper said, “We’re just about finished here and it’s a long way to the bus.”

    “Room for one more on that ride?” Janna asked.

    He nodded. “Our friend Janna wants a ride, too.”

    “Sure sure. Any friend of you two is welcome. Do you need me to call her folks for ya?”

    Dipper looked at Janna, who shook her head. “Nah, I’m good.”

    “Don’t worry about calling her parents,” Dipper paused. “And yeah, she’s in on our other business, too, so we can talk about it with her.”

    “All right, I’ll fire up the ol’ Shermie-mobile and be right over,” replied. Dipper could all but hear his smile.

    “See you soon, Sherpa.” Ending the call, Dipper handed the phone to Mabel, then looked at Janna. “Everything okay at home?”

    “Huh? Oh yeah, my parents are cool. They’re just parents, you know?” Janna replied.

    Mabel smiled. “They understand you’re a girl who’s out there and they just let you be you?”

    “Yeah, kinda like you guys with your parents.”

    Mabel’s smile grew brighter. “Yep.”

    “Anyway, if we’re done here, we can go up.” Dipper looked at Misao. “Are we?”

    “Ja, I just need to put it in standby and we can get going.” Wiggling free of Mabel’s embrace, Misao hit a single key on the console she’d been at, and both the projection and the lights dimmed down. “Done.”

    “Let’s go, then,” Dipper said, as he headed towards the Command Center’s exit.

    Mabel, Misao, and Janna followed. Moving up alongside him, Janna looked up at his face, searching for where he’d been punched. “So why did you get decked, man?”

    Dipper shrugged his shoulders. “I dunno, do you know why Lars Vanderdud would have beef with a new student?”

    “Whoa, Lars punched you? Okay, he definitely did it for fun–dude’s a total psycho.”

    Dipper grimaced, remembering his bad joke after being punched so hard he threw up. “I got that vibe on from him.”

    Misao huffed. “Well he got what he deserved.”

    “Yeah, I’m pretty sure Jo put him in the hospital,” Mabel added.

    That prompted a new worry to spring up in Dipper’s mind. “A lot of people saw that.”

    “Yeah, I wouldn’t worry about that. No one’s going to snitch on Jo or any of you for the sake of Lars Vanderdud. Everyone hates him and thought he got off easy the last time when Marco made a fool out of him,” Janna assured Dipper.

    “He fought Marco?” There was no missing the mystified disbelief in his voice.

    “It wasn’t much, Marco slapped him a few times and Lars ran off crying.”

    Dipper hummed. “Yeah, that’s about right… geez Marco’s so strong. Does he even realize how strong he is? The stuff he does is amazing…”

    Janna broke into a smirk. Behind them, Mabel and Misao’s eyes gleamed.

    “You know it’s 2014, right? You don’t need to be embarrassed about liking a guy.” Janna pointed out.

    “Huh?” Dipper blushed again. “Whoa, I’m not-”

    He could feel the gazes of his sister and roommate on the back of his head. He looked back, Mabel and Misao both had the same doe-eyed, expectant look on their faces, with their hands clasped in front of them.

    He looked back down at Janna, who gestured to him. “Hey dude, there’s no judgement in the Jannasphere. Crush on who you wanna crush on, live how you wanna live. That’s all we can do in life.”

    Letting out a sigh, Dipper rubbed the back of his head and looked forward. “It’s not that I’m embarrassed, I just… don’t have the best record with crushes, okay?”

    “Dude, I can relate. Everyone I crush on is dead.”

    Dipper recoiled. “Oh… I’m sorry…”

    “Nah, it’s okay. It’s nothing a little necromancy can’t fix–soon as I get my hands on some…”

    Staring at Janna, and thinking about all the things he could do to tell her that such things were a bad idea–Dipper stopped and just smiled. This girl was weird, and pretty cool, too.

    “We didn’t mention it back at the shop but…” Dipper grinned. “Back in Gravity Falls, I once raised the dead.”

    Janna did a double-take, her mouth falling agape and her eyes practically falling out of her head, they were so wide. “Shut. Up! You need to tell me everything! How’d you do it? What happened? Were any of them cute?!”

    Dipper, Mabel, and Misao laughed. Janna’s sudden excitement was a delight.

    “Dude, I’m serious!” Janna insisted.

    “Okay, okay, I’ll tell you…” Dipper reassured her, before he set out to tell the story

    = - = 24 = - =

    The bonds they form should be stronger than that, though.
     
  18. Threadmarks: Night Stalker
    The Ero-Sennin

    The Ero-Sennin Professional Shitposter

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    And as a bonus.

    = - = 25 = - =

    |Night Stalker|

    Night had long fallen on the legendary Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California, and its ultra high-luxury shops were closing up for the night. One store in particular an ultra-high luxury jewelry store, still had its doors open. Besides the two clerks and several customers, four heavily armed guards who concealed their deadly weapons under slick and well-trimmed suits watched the doors and the jewelry cases that contained millions of dollars worth of hand-crafted jewelry.

    Young prodigal Supervillain Señor Senior Junior pretended they weren’t surreptitiously eyeing him as he stood in front of a counter, looking at one particularly expensive item–a Smartwatch made with rare metals and encrusted in diamonds. With a pair of contacts in his eyes, and his hair dyed blonde and his tips frosted, he hoped against hope that the guards didn’t see through his disguise.

    “Excuse me, sir?” A pretty clerk a few years his senior chimed. “Is there something you’re interested in?”

    “Oh, yes,” Junior spoke in a low, suave voice, and turned to the clerk. “I cannot take my eyes off this fine piece right here.” He then gestured to the watch. “And this watch, too, what’s the deal?”

    The shot across her bow threw the clerk off, and she blushed. “O-oh you have an eye for luster, sir… that is an exclusive Hyuuga Light Smartwatch, just released at the start of the year. Compatible with Hyuuga Light Phones and Computers, it’s one of the hand-built prototypes of the mass production model, furnished from platinum and encrusted in precision cut diamonds… the asking price is 4.5 million dollars.”

    Junior raised an eyebrow and whistled. “Dang, that’s money. Do you come with it?”

    The clerk’s cheeks all but glowed, and she let out a very affected giggle. “Oh my goodness! Haha… I’m sorry but we don’t give discounts for flattery.”

    Junior laughed himself. “I wouldn’t be here if I wanted a discount. How about I buy the watch right now, and you pick something nice for yourself. Anything you want.”

    “Wh-what?!” The clerk gasped. “I couldn’t… I…”

    To prove he was not playing at all, Junior whipped out a black credit card, printed with gold and silver. Staring at it, the clerk’s eyes grew larger. “… Oh my goodness… r-really?”

    “Tonight this is your store, mami. Pick out what you like,” Junior insisted.

    As the overwhelmed clerk did her level best to not burst into tears and complete the sale, Junior glanced back at the guards, who were painfully rolling their eyes at him. He smirked back at the nearest one, and gave a discreet scan of the store before he looked back at the clerk.

    “Okay, sir. Please come this way to our office and we’ll get your paperwork signed and your items paid for.”

    Junior grinned. “Lead the way.”

    “Oh my goodness…”

    After a swipe of the card, an ID scan, and more than a few signatures, Señor Senior Junior walked out of the jewelry store with a four and a half million dollar watch on his wrist, an eight hundred thousand dollar string of gems around the clerk’s neck, and her phone number in his pocket.

    Leaving the heart of Rodeo Drive’s most expensive shopping district, he walked to a million dollar luxury sedan and climbed into the back seat, where he sighed and began taking deep breaths.

    “‘Do you come with it?’” The car’s driver, Shego, asked as she looked back at him. “When did you get so smooth, SSJ?”

    Clearing his throat, Junior spoke again–his voice returning to its higher, whiny inflection. “I just watched some of my father’s old movies. You know he ad-libbed most of his lines.”

    Shego glanced back. “No kidding?” She looked down at his watch. “So, what’s the thought process here? You bought the watch and a necklace on top of that… is this some kind of postmodern heist?”

    Junior leaned forward in his seat, quite eager to explain. “Well, you see I wanted to go inside and have a look at the security measures. So I went in as a normal customer, purchased some expensive items and while I was flirting with the clerk I could make observations while she and the guards were distracted.”

    Shego nodded. “I like it, I like it, and what did you get?”

    Junior leaned back in the chair. “The store is watched by twelve security cameras with microphones. All the cases are pressure sensitive and made with bullet-proof blast-proof glass–you should have no problem melting through them. There is no visible security panel in the store’s lobby, it is in the back office and uses a palm reader in order to be accessed. I did not see any silent alarms, and the guards all appear to be cyborgs–Hench Co. cyborgs by the look of it.”

    The smile Shego was growing through his explanation disappeared. “Cyborgs?” She turned around in her seat and dropped into it with a scowl. “Great, so much for knockout gas in the vents, or going in through the front door.”

    “We shouldn’t do either of those anyway. What we should do is find a way to knock out the power and backup power. That would cause the security systems to reboot, and while that is happening…”

    Shego realized where he was going and turned back around to look at him. “We hack the security system so that we can take it offline for our actual heist! Junior, why do I work with guys like Drakken?”

    Junior looked aside. “Because you’re a masochist?”

    Shego’s eyes widened, then narrowed as flickers of green energy popped around her. “What was that?”

    Junior looked at her out the corner of his eye, and gave a cheeky smile. Shego huffed out her nose and turned back around to start the car.

    “So,” she said as she began driving–course set for their safe house. “Our first order of business is to find a way to knock out the power. That shouldn’t be too hard, we can do that as soon as tomorrow.”

    “And we will be able to do the real heist as soon as Sunday. It will be very easy, and we will make back all that I spent and more–they will have another watch like this one on display by then.”

    “I must sound like a broken record heaping my praise on you, but you’re my best project yet,” Shego said.

    “Do not let that stop you,” Junior teased back before he pulled out his phone and began browsing social media.

    Going to Twitter, his well-trimmed eyebrows furrowed when he found that the account he was looking for was set to private. A jaunt over to Facebook revealed a similar state. Only when he reached Youtube did he find that the subject of his search, channel “FaithfulPony371”, had posted a new video.

    Without hesitation he pressed play, and Misao Darlian’s face appeared in a dark room, her long hair wrapped up in a towel.

    Smiling to the camera, she spoke. “Hello fans, it’s your Faithful Pony here with a quick channel update, ja? First off, do not worry, I am safe and sound in here America, yay! But unfortunately some things have changed so all of the big events I planned for the next few weeks are on hold. I am not sure how long it will take for me to come back online, but until then… my streaming is on hold as well. I am so sorry.”

    Junior frowned.

    “Again, again, do not worry. I will be back with you soon enough and we will definitely make up for lost time. My scheduled appearance on the Our Family Christmas Special has also not changed.” Misao beamed. “I will be posting an update featuring Sam Haley himself as the filming date draws near. So please stay tuned for that.”

    “Is that November…?” Junior murmured. He wasn’t sure how far in advance they filmed sitcoms.

    Misao grew somber. “Lastly, I ask for forgiveness from my fans who have eagerly awaited my arrival in Beverly Hills… I will not be attending school there, this year. I am still committed to finishing my education here in Los Angeles, and I will come visit you at the first opportunity. Hopefully when filming of the Christmas Special begins.”

    Junior’s frown deepened. “So she does know I am looking for her.”

    Misao managed a smaller smile. “I am sorry that this all has had to happen, but please know that everything will be fine, and when you see me again? I will be making content like nothing you’ve ever seen. So please stay strong, stay smiling, and always check your six. Have a good night, everypony, and bye bye~!”

    The video ended and Junior lowered his phone. Shego, having been focused on navigating Los Angeles traffic, glanced up in the rearview and caught his disappointed expression. “No luck on the real prize?”

    “She is not here in Beverly Hills and trying to wait us out,” Junior lamented. “We will have to be patient a little longer.”

    Shego shrugged her shoulders. “Well, the longer she hides the longer we can busy ourselves. What is your interest in a Youtube Streamer, anyway? She doesn’t seem your type, and while her Dad’s brilliant, he’s no DNAmy.”

    Junior looked forward at her, his expression surprised. “You do not know?”

    “Don’t know what?”

    Junior looked away. “Oh, it would not be important to you, then. It is a matter of family pride, that I am after this girl.”

    Shego was skeptical. “Since when did you have pride in anything other than the chiseled temple that is your esteemed self?”

    Junior raised his head. “I am doing something that my father at his age cannot.”

    “Chase after teenaged girls? Yeah, I can see why he wouldn’t be into that.”

    “Ransoming that girl will satisfy that ambition,” Junior said, “And my father will be proud of me.”

    Shego huffed. “You’re a good kid, Junior. Well, in a relative sense.”

    “Of course, I am a villain, no?” Junior spread his muscular arms across the span of the seat. “And thank you for having patience with me.”

    Shego shrugged her shoulders. “It’s not like I have anything better to do. Dr. D’s brewing some kind of cockamamie scheme that he won’t even let me on. I mean, don’t take that the wrong way? I’m glad you came to me with a job, it means I don’t have to work with any of the weirdos who put their gimmick before their scheme. You see what happened to Duff in the news?”

    “Yes, he sliced his last ball so badly it came back and blew him straight into custody.”

    “I’ve said it a hundred times before, and I’ll say it a hundred times more. Don’t fall into that gimmick crap-”

    “It makes you predictable and easy to counter,” Junior finished. “But, Señor Killigan can’t help it. He’s insane.”

    “Tch, no he’s not. I’ve worked with him enough, he’s just a giant golf nerd with a Scotland fetish.” Shego glanced back again. “Get this, he’s not even from there.”

    Junior did a double take. “No way!”

    Shego looked forward. “Yeah, he’s South African!”

    “OH EM GEE!” Junior gasped, drawing Shego’s attention back to him. “I cannot wait until I tell my father this! He has always suspected, but to know that it is true!”

    The car’s dashboard beeped, the only warning before the car’s automatic emergency brake kicked in, the car lurching to a halt. Shego looked ahead, annoyed. There wasn’t anything on the road a second before.

    “What happened?” Junior asked.

    “I don’t know, something triggered the brake.” Shego scanned the city street in front of her.

    “Maybe it was a kitty or a doggy?” Junior asked.

    Shego half-listened to him, and scanned the road again, and saw nothing–just residential houses on an empty street, bushes in front of each home obscuring the view into their front yards. She couldn’t shake the feeling that someone or something was watching them, but she couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary. She looked back past Junior, and out the rear window of the luxury sedan. There was nothing there, either.

    Junior began to look around as well. “I do not see anything.”

    “Then this car already needs to go into the shop,” Shego grumbled as she resumed driving.

    As the car continued on, the head of an unnaturally large green snake with a pale yellow belly peered out and flicked its tongue. In the air it tasted power, danger, but not what it sought.

    Hissing, the snake pulled back into the bushes and moved with unnatural speed.

    = - = 25 = - =

    QQ is now first in the world. ;)
     
  19. HypoSoc

    HypoSoc Time, once consumed, has no meaning

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    Quite a love dodecahedron, let's see:

    Star and Marco with their whole thing, but it is starting earlier than in canon. (Which means Jackie Lynn and Tom are on the periphery)

    Dipper has a crush on Marco, and a Crytptid!Nerd!boner for Star. (Also, Twincest is best)

    Jo has a crush on Dipper and isn't handling it well.

    Misao has a crush on Dipper and Mabel. (Avid supporter of Twincest)

    Janna is more than willing to create or destroy any relationship if it brings her closer to goals (Beware, Bon Bon, the Birthday Clown! The simple constraints of death are insufficient to save your chastity!)

    And Mabel is the Dread Queen of Glitter and Debauchery, for whom the winds of fate bow fealty, and to whom all must submit. (She's going to making the shipping chart draw a picture of Waddles, and nothing will stop it).



    This is going to end in tears.

    Or in a giant, naked cuddle pile
     
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  20. EvaUnit01

    EvaUnit01 The man who stands at the top of AAWWEESSOOOMEEE

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    Excellent, excellent work, Sage.
     
  21. Xicree

    Xicree Destroy and Rejoice!

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    Just wait till he sees Marco in a Skirt!

    ^_^
     
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  22. The Ero-Sennin

    The Ero-Sennin Professional Shitposter

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    Oh, you only have a fourth of the relationship map unlocked, my friend! Hahahahahahahaha...

    Why thank you, I am doing my level best. I couldn't have done this without all the help, but I feel like I need more.

    Dipper: "Marco in a skirt?" *Face turns red.* "I gotta go!" *Flees.*
     
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  23. HypoSoc

    HypoSoc Time, once consumed, has no meaning

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    I intentionally left out some of it since I wanted to focus on the Gravity Falls/Star vs FoE core.

    Wasn't Dipper's first meeting with Marco when Marco was under the Princess Spell? So, already happened?
     
  24. Xicree

    Xicree Destroy and Rejoice!

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    [​IMG]
     
  25. The Ero-Sennin

    The Ero-Sennin Professional Shitposter

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    Marco had changed out of the princess dress and was wearing another hoodie and skinny jeans. Dipper has yet to see Princess Marco in a dress.
     
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  26. EvaUnit01

    EvaUnit01 The man who stands at the top of AAWWEESSOOOMEEE

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    I personally am mostly here for the Beetleborgs, but I'm glad to see that fans of other works in the fic are enjoying the story as well.
     
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  27. Threadmarks: Down in the Dojo
    The Ero-Sennin

    The Ero-Sennin Professional Shitposter

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    This is a cute one, by the way. Anyway, next chapter!

    = - = 26 = - =

    |Down in the Dojo|

    Hill-Trank Plaza was a shopping mall not too far away from Zoom Comics, serving as a halfway point between the comic shop and the neighborhood Marco and Star lived in. It wasn’t a place Drew, Jo, or Roland normally stopped by of their own free will–its only shops being a record store, a frozen yogurt place, a bar, and a Tang Soo Do Karate dojo–but from this day forward they were going to become very familiar with it.

    “I don’t think I’ve actually been to any of these shops,” Roland said as they walked along the sidewalk in front of the store fronts.

    Drew glanced into the window of a record store, a place that only survived thanks to hipster inertia and nostalgia from Gen Xers. “Dad comes here like once a month and buys at least a hundred dollars worth of records.”

    Roland found that interesting. “What, and he has the nerve to get on you for reading comics?”

    “Yeah, funny how that is,” Jo said.

    In front of the Hill-Trank Plaza Dojo, a dimensional scissor portal opened and Marco hopped out, dressed in a white karate gi and headband, a green belt tied tightly around his waist. The abrupt appearance of the portal took the trio off guard, and they quickly looked around as it shut behind him.

    “Wait, is that okay?!” Drew asked.

    Marco noticed them. “Oh, hey guys. Ready to get started?”

    Roland gestured to the closing portal behind him. “You’re just portaling around in public?”

    Marco looked back as it completely vanished. “I was running a little late today. Don’t worry, it’s fine. It’s not the weirdest thing this Dojo’s seen.”

    Drew and Roland reluctantly accepted it, while Jo rolled with and asked more important questions. “So, is it gonna be okay for us to start now?”

    Marco pushed open the door. “Of course. I’m just going to ask Sensei if I can run you through the basics separately and work you up to catch with the rest of the class.”

    Jo looked back at him as he let the door close and followed them. “Don’t you think we’re a little past the basics?”

    “No.” Marco’s blunt reply hit hard as a hammer. “None of you guys can actually fight, and the only way you’re going to learn is from the ground up.”

    “Take good care of us, then,” Drew awkwardly began to bow, when Marco stopped him.

    “Hang on, you haven’t actually become part of the school yet. You still need to sign up, show Sensei the waivers–you got the waivers filled out, right?” When Drew, Roland, and Jo presented signed papers that Marco had given them earlier, he nodded. “And I need to pay your sign-up fee.”

    “You didn’t need to do all that,” Roland said.

    Drew agreed. “Yeah.”

    Marco waved it off. “Relax, I’ve got it. Plus it’s my way of showing Sensei that I’m serious about teaching you.”

    The school was well-furnished for something set in a strip mall, with tatami mats on the floors and wood finished walls and ceiling. It looked like something that one would right away think of when the word “karate dojo” came to mind, with the exception of bleacher style seats that were arranged along the back wall for spectating.

    There were already several other students present, ranging from Marco’s age to just about half that, though most were just hanging out and socializing as class had not begun. Who wasn’t immediately present was the sensei, which caught Marco’s attention.

    “Huh… where is Sensei?” Marco murmured. He looked over at another student, playing on his phone on the bleachers. “Hey, Sensei’s here, right?”

    “He went next door for some froyo, he’ll be back,” the student said without looking up from his phone.

    Jo raised an eyebrow. “Uh huh…?”

    Marco didn’t think anything of it. “Well, this’ll give me time to introduce you to the others. Cool phone kid is Peter.”

    Peter, a blonde boy with glasses, looked up and did a double-take when he saw Jo. “Oh, righteous. Sup, Jo.”

    Jo responded with a silent nod. Marco gestured over to a short dark-skinned boy with messy hair practicing roundhouse kicks on a heavy bag. “That’s Hunter.”

    Drew recognized him. “Oh, he’s in our class.”

    Hunter looked over and saw Jo, Drew, and Roland. “Whoa… Captain Falcon herself is here.” He called Marco. “Hey, are they joining the school?”

    “That’s the plan,” Marco replied.

    Hunter nodded. “Sweet! Now that we have two monsters, maybe this place’ll stop being treated like a daycare.”

    Drew watched Jo preen under the praise being spooned onto her and couldn’t help but feel inadequacy claw at him. We haven’t even signed up and all the attention is on her.

    She was riding high after dispatching Lars, and thanks to the circumstances of the fight, she had escaped any punishment for putting him in the hospital.

    Roland looked from Hunter to Marco. “Daycare?”

    Marco narrowed his eyes and seethed. “Yeah, there’s one student I need to warn you guys about in advance-”

    “Hey Marco, showing some newbies around?” Spoke a child whose condescending, overprivileged voice triggered similar grimaces in Drew, Jo, and Roland. They turned and looked down at a freckled-faced, buck-toothed eight year old who radiated a cheerful malice.

    “This,” Marco said stiffly, “Is Jeremy.”

    Oh I already hate this kid. Drew thought.

    “But you can call me Jeremy-senpai. Since I’ve been here longer than you and am the best student in Sensei’s class.” He looked up at Marco. “Right Marco?”

    Jo shared her brother’s disgust. Great, I may have to throw hands with a child.

    “Rrrr…” Marco glowered at him. He was not about to let this brat flex on him in front of the guys. “Whatever, Jeremy.”

    Jeremy chuckled. “Oh Marco, there’s no need to be humble on my behalf. Tell them all about how I’ve whupped your butt in every spar we’ve had.”

    Drew, Jo, and Roland looked back and forth among one another, and nodded in agreement. Drew gestured for Roland to take it away, and he was off.

    “HA!” Roland laughed, causing Jeremy to recoil. “You know he had to hold back on you, right?”

    Jeremy scowled up at Roland. “What was that?”

    Marco was caught off guard himself by Roland.

    “I bet he’d cry if Marco actually tried to hit him,” Jo said to her brother.

    Drew nodded in agreement and looked at Marco. “So, do we have to buy our own gis, does the school supply them… or what?”

    Marco was trying to process this. Wait, wait, what’s happening here?

    “I’ve actually fought him!” Jeremy insisted.

    “Whatever,” Roland said.

    “Buzz off,” Jo said to him with a shooing motion.

    Jeremy’s face turned red. “You can’t tell me to buzz off, I’m your Senpai!”

    “Man, he’s what seven? Eight?” Roland asked Marco before looking to Jo and Drew. “There are so many worse things to worry about than karate brat. Ignore him.”

    “Don’t ignore me!” Jeremy shrieked.

    Drew did anyway and faced Marco. “So yeah, are we gonna get gis or what?”

    “Huh…?” Marco murmured, still surprised at what happened.

    Marco glanced at Jeremy, who looked stuck between bursting a blood vessel and bursting into tears. Letting that settle in his head, he remembered Trip Vanderhoff’s tear-streaked, impotently angry glare the other day when he and Star broke up his confrontation with Dipper Mabel, and Misao.

    It came to him, like a moment of clarity for a deeply drunk man. Oh, that’s the kind of loser he’s going to grow up into.

    With that comforting thought, he ignored him, too. “There are gis here that you can use, and you can use the bathrooms to change.”

    The Dojo’s front door opened, the school’s black sleeveless gi-wearing sensei walked in holding several carry-out carts worth of drinks. “Students, your sensei has returned, and he has brought smoothies to prepare you for today’s journey down the path.”

    “Oh, cool, he’s back.” Marco gestured for Drew, Jo, and Roland to follow him over, as the other students quickly gathered around their instructor.

    “All right, I’ve got a double banana for you Pete, Chocolate raspberry protein for you, Hunter. Strawberry chilled for Everett…” He looked at Marco as he reached the gathered students. “Marco, what took you, bro? I didn’t get you a smoothie, but I left some cash with Monica next door. You can go grab one before class starts.”

    He noticed the trio accompanying him. “Whoa, are these new students?”

    Marco nodded. “I texted you about them Sunday, remember?”

    Sensei handed off the last smoothie and checked his phone. “Oh, right! Sorry, I was spaced out that whole weekend.”

    “Huh?” Marco asked.

    “Expanding my mind, Marco. Engaging upon a spiritual quest to broaden my mental, physical, and spiritual horizons.”

    Roland and Drew glanced at each other, while Jo rolled her eyes.

    “Right,” Marco said himself, “Anyway, these are Drew and Jo McCormick, and Roland Williams.”

    “Williams…” Sensei looked closer at Roland. “You wouldn’t happen to be Nano’s grandson, would you?”

    “I am,” Roland said.

    Sensei pressed a fist into his palm and bowed to him. “It is an honor.”

    Drew and Jo both glanced at Roland, who took the respectful gesture in stride and returned it. “Uh thanks…”

    “They’ve got their waivers signed. All they actually need to do is finish filling out their paperwork and they can start today.” Marco continued.

    Sensei nodded. “Very good, where are they in terms of skill?”

    “Rank amateur,” Roland said.

    “I apparently don’t know how to make a fist to punch,” Drew said.

    Jo folded her arms. “I’ve won some fights.”

    Before anyone could correct her, Sensei closed his eyes and shook his head. “It does not take much to win a fight–a lucky blow, a surprise attack, a simple difference in strength. So saying that means very little to me.”

    Jo opened her mouth to refute that, but stopped. Both Drew and Roland gave her smug looks, daring her to say he was wrong.

    As she pouted in defeat, Marco spoke to his master. “About that, since they’re going to be behind most of the other students… I was thinking that I’d give them some personal training separate from the rest of class, and then we’d roll them into the group when they’ve caught up-”

    Sensei was struck with surprise, and he clapped his hands onto Marco’s shoulders. “Marco, are you telling me that you wish to become… an assistant instructor?”

    Jeremy, who was sipping on an orange and mint smoothie, nearly choked on it and looked towards Marco and Sensei. “What!?”

    “Assistant instructor…” Marco repeated, and the thought of him being a teacher–even if just in the assistant role–filled his mind with wonder. All he wanted to do was just give hands on instruction to his friends. “… What–really? Me? Y-your assistant? I’d… I’d be able to… lead classes in your absence…?”

    “Marco, you have no idea how awesome it would be for me to have another assistant instructor, and it’s even better knowing it’s someone who I can rely on as a responsible, pragmatic, safety-minded person who doesn’t randomly flake out at crucial times for strange reasons.”

    Drew hummed and leaned aside to Roland and whispered. “That’s really specific…”

    “Well, he did mention wanting another assistant… what happened to the last one?” Roland wondered.

    Behind them, Jeremy had dropped his abominable smoothie for a smartphone. He rapidly swiped a message on it, glancing up from it to glare daggers at Marco and his friends every couple of seconds, and pressed send.

    Marco thought Sensei was being really specific, too. He was also a little concerned about the whole flaking out thing. The Magnavores weren’t going to be too concerned about what they all had going on in their lives–after all. On the other hand? Assistant Instructor means he’d have some authority in the dojo… even Jeremy would have to do what he said!

    “I’ll do it!”

    “Awesome! Just what I wanted to hear.” A shrill ring came from Sensei’s gi, and he reached into it. “Oh, hang on bro. Gotta take this one. Get the new students the paperwork they got to finish, and into gis and we’ll get to introductions.”

    “Yes, Sensei!” Marco said cheerfully, before gesturing for the three to follow him to Sensei’s office.

    Taking them to the back, where a well-kept desk, filing cabinet, and copy machine sat, Marco went into the filing cabinet and began rifling through papers. Checking the door after closing it, Jo leaned against the frame and spoke. “So… what happens if the Magnavores start interrupting classes for you, Mr. Assistant Instructor?”

    Marco looked back at her. He frowned and went back to looking through the papers. “I don’t know.”

    “We can avoid burning that bridge when we get to it,” Roland said.

    “And while we’re on the subject of things that burn easily, that piece of garbage out there.” Jo sneered. “How much do you wanna bet he’s one of Trip’s illegitimate brothers or something?”

    “Yeah, probably,” Roland said with a small laugh.

    “Ignore him,” Drew said, “We have to focus on our training, not dojo drama.”

    Marco pulled up the sign up forms folder, and found only the hard copy. “I told Sensei to make more copies…” He went across the room to the old copy machine and started it up. “Man, I can’t believe I let Jeremy get under my skin for all this time.”

    “Sometimes you just need people backing you up to stand up to bullies, you know?” Roland asked.

    Marco recalled him and Star punking the Vanderhoffs and smiled. “Hah, yeah.”

    “Speaking of the Magnavores,” Drew said, “It’s been pretty quiet since we last fought them.”

    “We trashed them pretty good, they’re probably still recovering,” Jo pointed out.

    Roland wasn’t too concerned either. “Besides, Dipper said he’s got his ear to the ground, remember? If anything pops up, he’ll let us know.”

    Drew sighed. “I hope they aren’t up to anything that could do a lot of harm, then.”

    “Hoping is all we can do,” Roland said.

    “Hoping, and training,” Marco said as he set the forms on the desk. “You can use pencils, but write dark so I can make readable copies.”

    Within a few minutes, the four emerged from the office, Marco shuffling the printed signup forms together with their waivers, so he could grab his wallet. “All right, all we have to do now is get you changed and we can start.”

    It was much quieter now, the other students, Jeremy included, lined up at the edge of the training mat. In front of them, Sensei took a deep breath and turned his head to call over to him. “Mr. Diaz, I need to have a word with you.”

    Marco brightened and whispered aside to Drew. “I guess he’s making it official…”

    Handing the papers to him, Marco jogged over to Sensei and bowed to him. “Yes, Sensei?”

    Sensei turned in place, and looked down at his student. “Earlier, I had expressed interest in making you my assistant instructor.”

    Marco nodded. “Yes, Sensei.”

    “You are one of my most capable students. Diligent, hard-working, disciplined, and one I can count on to represent this Dojo at all times within and without its hallowed walls.”

    “Yes, Sensei!” Marco repeated with more energy.

    “That said!” Sensei closed his eyes and breathed in, bracing himself. He opened his eyes and met Marco’s gaze. “… I cannot grant you the position of Assistant Instructor at this time.”

    Marco’s face fell. “W-what?”

    “He changed his mind?” Drew whispered.

    “Bruh, doing this in front of everyone?” Roland asked.

    Jo narrowed her eyes, but said nothing as her gaze swiveled towards the lined up students.

    Marco sputtered. “W-wait, wait, wait… Sensei, you just said-”

    “I know what I said Marco!” Sensei turned away from him with dramatic flourish, and clenched his hands into fists. “But my decision was rash, motivated by my zealousness to have another assistant, and I forgot that while you are a great student and I would gladly have you as an assistant officially… you are not qualified for the position of Assistant Instructor yet.”

    “Y-yet?” Marco asked.

    “Marco, in Tang Soo Do Karate, one must be at the very least a Red Belt in order to begin leading classes as an assistant. The belt around your waist signifies that you are not ready yet.”

    Marco looked down at his belt, then up at Sensei. “Sensei, I’ve been a Green Belt for five years, doesn’t that count for anything?”

    “It means that you are ready to advance to Red Belt, but until you do, I must withdraw my offer to promote you to my assistant instructor.” Sensei hung his head. “I am sorry, Marco. I raised your hopes and dashed them, this is my shame too.”

    Marco lowered his head. “Yes. I understand, Sensei.”

    “You are still permitted to train up the new students, but you will do so as their senpai. Until you have achieved the rank of red belt, you will still be regarded as a student of this dojo.”

    Marco nodded. “Yes, Sensei, thank you.”

    Jeremy clicked his teeth and drew in a slow, audible breath through them. “… You hate to see it.” He grabbed the black belt around his gi, and tightened it. “Guess there’s only so far you can get by on that Green Belt, eh Marco?”

    The bespectacled phone junkie Marco introduced to the trio as Peter looked at Jeremy with visible disgust and shook his head. “You know what? I can do better with my Fridays, later.”

    Grabbing up his bookbag, the teenager walked out of the dojo and headed over to the record store next door. Marco and Sensei watched him leave, and the door swing closed in silence.

    After a long, awkward pause, Sensei turned to his students. “All right everybody, if no one else has anywhere better to be, we’re going to proceed with today’s lesson.”

    “Wow, what a great start to our first day of lessons,” Jo whispered to her brother and Roland… while hoping she could set Jeremy on fire with her glare.

    Drew went over to Marco’s side, as Marco walked over towards the locker room of the dodo. “Marco, you okay?”

    Looking up, his right hand gripping the back of his neck, Marco brightened. “Oh, I’m fine…” He looked forward. “It’s just…”

    Roland joined them. “Kinda screwed up that he’d offer that position to you, then snatch it away?”

    Marco agreed. “Yeah… but it’s not a big deal.”

    Jo brought up the rear, glancing again at Jeremy out the corner of her eye. “He just kinda punked you in front of the whole class. How is it not a big deal?”

    “I can get my Red Belt as soon as Monday, that’s how,” Marco argued. “Sensei’s kind of like that, but he didn’t mean to disrespect me.”

    Jo rolled her eyes. “Yeah, because this dojo’s all about respect.”

    Marco tensed up, then gestured to the locker room. “Spare gis are in there, just look for a size that fits you, and we can get started with stretches and what I intend to teach you going forward.”

    Jo huffed. “Yeah, sure.” She walked off into the girl’s side of the locker rooms.

    Marco watched her go and sighed. Drew patted him on his shoulder. “For what it’s worth, if Jeremy or anybody here could see what you can do, you’d be running this dojo.”

    Roland was in full agreement. “Yeah, we got your back.”

    “Thanks. It’s not about running it, or being in charge of anything.” Marco sighed. “Don’t worry about it. We’ve only got so much time before we might have to go back to ‘work,’ you know?”

    Drew and Roland both agreed, and headed to the boys side of the locker room to get changed for practice. Marco headed back over to the corner of the mat where he’d be training the trio, and took a deep breath to center himself. Out the corner of his eye he looked over at his sensei, eyeing the red belt tied around his gi.

    “Don’t worry about it, Marco…” He told himself before taking a deep breath. “… Focus on the lesson and teach.”

    As Marco began doing his stretches, Jeremy watched him and let a wicked little smile spread across his lips. This was going to be fun.

    = - = 26 = - =

    Oh if only it could be so drama free...
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2021
  28. EvaUnit01

    EvaUnit01 The man who stands at the top of AAWWEESSOOOMEEE

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    I smell... skullduggery!
     
  29. arachnidsGrip

    arachnidsGrip Making the rounds.

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    This one is missing its threadmark.
     
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  30. The Ero-Sennin

    The Ero-Sennin Professional Shitposter

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    Thank you very much.
     
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